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Title: Letters of Peregrine Pickle
Author: Upton, George P. (George Putnam), 1834-1919
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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       *       *       *       *       *



              LETTERS

                 OF

          PEREGRINE PICKLE


                 BY

          GEORGE P. UPTON.


    "_This, That and the Other._"


              CHICAGO:
      THE WESTERN NEWS COMPANY,
      121 and 123 State Street.

                1869


    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by

    THE WESTERN NEWS COMPANY,

    In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States,
    for the Northern District of Illinois.


    PRINTED BY J. WADDINGTON,
    121 MADISON STREET, CHICAGO, ILL.



                TO MY WIFE,

                   WHOSE

         SYMPATHY AND ENCOURAGEMENT

    HAVE CONSTANTLY WELCOMED AND FOLLOWED
               THESE LETTERS,

                This Volume

        IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.



_PREFACE._


The contents of this book originally appeared in the columns of
the CHICAGO TRIBUNE, in the form of weekly letters, over the _nom
de plume_ of "Peregrine Pickle," devoted to matters of gossip and
interest in the world of amusement. Necessarily, much of this matter
was of an ephemeral nature, which perished with publication. Many of
these letters, also, were devoted to topics of a purely local and
temporary character, which, at this present date, would possess no
interest. I have, therefore, taken care to preserve only such parts
of them as have a general bearing, and have arranged them under
appropriate heads, with dates at the end of each, as a matter of
convenience and reference.

These letters were commenced in the early part of the winter of
1866-'67, and have, therefore, reached the very respectable age of
nearly three years. Like other children, they are old enough to go
alone, and I therefore send them out into the world, richly endowed
with my blessings, which is all I have to give them. Should they
succeed in the world, I shall be profoundly astonished, as they were
born amidst the press and hurry of other editorial duties, and they
came into the world scarce half made up. Should they fail, I shall
at least have the gratification of showing that Lytton Bulwer was in
error in regard to the lexicon of youth.

The characters--Old Blobbs and Mrs. Blobbs, Aurelia, Celeste,
Mignon, Blanche, Boosey, Fitz-Herbert, and the Maiden Aunt--whom the
reader will find in these pages, may be real or not, as the reader
fancies. None of them are willing, however, to have me divulge
their real names, as that would destroy the little mystery which
envelopes our breakfast gatherings, and would put us ill at ease
when talking with the reader, as we hope to do for some time to
come, through the columns of the TRIBUNE. Meanwhile, if the reader
knows any large-hearted, large-handed man, who speaks very plainly
and hates shams, it is quite possible that man is Old Blobbs. Mrs.
Blobbs is a very good woman when she is severely let alone, and her
ideas of etiquette are not shocked. Aurelia is a plain, practical,
well-educated woman, who shed all her nonsense when her first baby
made her appearance. Celeste is a little flighty, and would be a
Girl of the Period, if that did not involve vulgarity. Mignon is
the pet of our set, keenly alive to whatever is beautiful, always
lively and always graceful, and Blanche is her companion--a quiet
and lovable girl. Boosey is a good-hearted, weak-kneed young fellow,
quite harmless and very self-opinionated, while Fitz-Herbert is an
incapable we cannot shake off. The Maiden Aunt is not with us now,
having gone to a better world than this. Perhaps the reader knows all
these people. They are not difficult to find.

These pages may prove to you, oh! reader, but a garden overrun with
weeds. Should you, however, find only one simple little flower worth
laying away as a souvenir, my purpose will have been answered.

                                          G. P. U.

     _Chicago, September 20, 1869._



_CONTENTS._


    THE SEASON                             1

    SLEEPING IN CHURCH                     3

    THE ORGAN GRINDER                      5

    A RETROSPECT                           7

    WHITED SEPULCHRES                      9

    NOTHING AND BABIES                    13

    THE CIRCUS                            18

    BEFORE THE WEDDING                    20

    THE WEDDING                           29

    MUSCULAR CHRISTIANITY                 37

    THE BOSTON GIRL                       41

    THE DEAD                              44

    OUR THANKSGIVING                      50

    MRS. GRUNDY                           55

    BEHIND THE SCENES                     57

    A CHRISTMAS CAROL                     68

    THE NEW YEAR                          74

    OLE BULL                              80

    SMALL TALK                            82

    FLAT ON THE BACK                      85

    GETTING OUT OF BED                    91

    THE TEAPOT                            96

    A MASQUE                             101

    THE MIRACLE OF CREATION              104

    FASHIONABLE WEDDINGS                 107

    APRIL                                113

    A SUMMER REVERIE                     116

    THE GERMANS AND MUSIC                119

    THE OLD STORY                        126

    IN MEMORIAM                          131

    LAKE MICHIGAN                        135

    RIP VAN WINKLE                       141

    AN AUTUMN REVERIE                    149

    THE BEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD          151

    THE SCHOOL HOUSE                     153

    A NEW LIFE                           157

    OLD BLOBBS--HIS SPEECH               160

    DEATH OF THE MAIDEN AUNT             163

    THE NEW YEAR                         167

    PUBLIC PARTIES                       171

    AURELIA'S BABY                       176

    THE QUARREL                          182

    A WOMAN NOT OF THE PERIOD            185

    A TRIP TO HEAVEN                     187

    DAY DREAMS                           193

    LENT AND CHILDREN                    196

    BELLS                                203

    TENORS AND BASSOS                    207

    A CHILD'S STORY--THE THREE ROSES     213

    THE OLD                              222

    OLD BLOBBS' OPINIONS                 232

    TYPES                                237

    WOMAN IN CHURCH                      245

    THE MOUNTAINS                        249

    THE JUBILEE                          254

    THE DOUBLE LIFE                      291

    LOVE AND THE BLUE FLOWER             298

    MARRIAGE                             307

    OLD BLOBBS REDIVIVUS                 322

    A TRIP TO HELL                       329

    L'ENVOI                              339



_THE SEASON._


The backbone of the winter is broken. The Carnival is about over. The
lights are going out and the curtain is about to be rung down. The
Spring will soon come slowly up this way, and then Lent. We shall
take off our masques, be good children, and moralize on the routs,
the follies and frivolities of December, January and February; and
moralizing, we shall pronounce the winter the gayest, wildest, most
dashing and smashing Chicago has ever known.

The winter has been one perpetual ball and party. Private amusement
has usurped the place of public, and as a consequence, concerts and
operas have suffered. The poor Philharmonic has withered like a leaf
under this neglect, and Strakosch has lost money at a frightful rate.
Soiree, ball and party have succeeded each other with wonderful
rapidity, and the belles have been literally kept whirling until they
are worn out and pine for the grateful Lent, when they can rest and
get ready for the watering places.

The milliners, mantua-makers, dress-makers, hair-dressers, and
others who make such exquisite fits and tremendous bills, have been
in clover. The young ladies sometimes, after a season of only one
night, come home so smashed that there is little left of their light
fabrics and heavy waterfalls. Papa's purse has bled freely, while
mamma, who _will_ wear a train and try to eclipse her daughter, gets
trodden on and banged up and has to go into the toilet dry dock quite
often for repairs. This is the reason why the milliner _et al._
high-priced individuals have been happy and old Blobbs has staid away
from evening meetings and, growling at the fire-screen, made an Ursa
Major of himself.

So we go. Young Boosey and Aurelia care little for the tariff,
reconstruction, high church controversy, tax bills and legislative
stealings. They are optimists. They want the best, and they want
it now while the purse holds out. They have had a gay winter, will
dawdle along through the spring and leave us just in time to escape
the hot weather and the cholera, and we shall miss them as we miss
the butterflies, and hail their return as they come back in the fall
for another winter campaign. I do not know that they build many
houses, endow many colleges, teach many Sunday school classes or
consume much calico and cold water; but then the streets would be
very monotonous, and the counter-jumpers would grow rusty and life
would be tinted with ashes of roses without them.

     February 16, 1867.



_SLEEPING IN CHURCH._


I am usually of a very philosophical temperament and preserve my
equilibrium with a wonderful degree of success. I can resist even
the blandishments of the tax-collector and never get up to boiling
point, as it requires too much effort; but I have at last failed
to retain my composure; and I have failed, because an unfortunate
Irishman wandered into a church in Rhode Island and went to sleep and
was sent to jail for ten days, not for going to church, but for going
to sleep. He was not drunk. He did not even snore. He simply went to
sleep like a good Christian. And this innovation upon the ancient
rights of pew-holders, and especially of strangers, was endured by
the parishioners without a murmur.

Now, if we are going to establish precedents about sleeping in
church, wouldn't it be well to reverse the order of things? For
instance, send every minister to jail for ten days who cannot keep
his hearers awake. Or, send every architect, who builds churches
without means of ventilation, to jail for the same length of time.
If I am to be deprived of my customary nap at the head of the family
pew, why, then I must go where preachers are less somnolent or stay
at home and take my nap, and thereby diminish the revenues of the
church. And if all the heads which nod assent so vigorously to the
preacher's premises, are to be deprived of their siestas, what will
become of the preachers? Does good old Deacon Jones, who always wakes
up in time to pass the contribution box, intend to encourage this
state of things? Does good sister Jones, who drowses just a trifle,
notwithstanding her smelling-bottle, vote in favor of it?

I never heard of but one man before, who was punished for sleeping in
church, and he was Eutychus, I believe, who was sitting in an open
window, and falling into a deep sleep, had a worse fall than that, by
falling out of the window. Now, Eutychus was a very foolish young man
to go to sleep in an open window, and deserved his punishment for his
stupidity, but there is little danger of any one suffering in that
manner now-a-days, for an open window in a church is as rare as a
church without a contribution box or a strawberry festival.

In another respect, this sleeping in church is a compliment to the
minister. It indicates that his congregation are satisfied with
the soundness of his doctrines and are willing to trust him alone.
Suppose Brother Ryder should preach eternal damnation, or Brother
Hatfield should announce universal salvation, or Brother Locke should
advocate the elevation of the Host, would their parishioners do much
sleeping?

Not much!

I feel for that unfortunate Milesian. I feel that in his punishment,
landmarks are swept away and that an old established usage,
sanctified by the experience of immemorial ages, is overturned.

     March 2, 1867.



_THE ORGAN GRINDER._


He is the child of sunny Italy, and it is to be regretted that he is
not with his parents.

Likewise his monkey.

I was reminded this morning that Spring is slowly coming up this
way, by meeting him and his organ and his red-blanketted monkey; and
the air was full of the infernal jangle and din, ground out by that
remorseless man; and as I passed along I reflected.

Does the Italian take naturally to the hand-organ? Is he born with
the crank and the monkey in his mouth? What sin has he committed that
he should be compelled to tramp, making day and night hideous? What
becomes of him in winter? Where does he live? Does he go where the
flies go? Is he preserved in amber from Autumn to Spring? You see him
on one of the last days of Autumn. A biting wind the next day and the
birds are gone. If you ask me what becomes of him, I will answer, I
will tell you, when you tell me what becomes of all the hoop-skirts.
Does the Organ-Grinder go to church? Does he pay taxes? Are there
a Mrs. Organ-Grinder and little Organ-Grinders bringing up little
monkeys to the business? Do they live in houses, or do they burrow
in the ground? Where do they go when they die? In fact, do they ever
die? Are they not like the wandering Jew, compelled to keep moving,
grinding as they go?

These questions are worthy of consideration. There is only one thing
certain about him. He is as resistless as fate. Give him a penny to
go away and he will come the next day for a similar favor. Threaten
to shoot him and he will laugh at you. Buttons and board-nails are
just as current with him as pennies. Tell him your family are at the
point of death, and he will grind out a soothing strain and come
the next day with several more of his tribe to play a dirge at the
funeral. I think I can eat a frugal meal with a Digger Indian; I am
even prepared to recognize the greasy Esquimaux and horse-eating
Gauls, but I cannot recognize a man and brother in the Organ-Grinder.

He is one of those mysterious dispensations like the cholera,
rinderpest and trichiniasis which only future ages may appreciate.
Undoubtedly he has his mission. Undoubtedly there are people who dote
on the Organ-Grinder and the organ and the monkey and are soothed
with the touching story of "Old Dog Tray." Undoubtedly there was an
old woman who kissed a cow; and there are people at the antipodes who
eat mice and other small deer.

Such patience, determination, humility and industry, if applied to
the Foreign Missions, would speedily clothe every Fiji sinner in a
flannel jacket and his right mind. Were such attachments as exist
between the Organ-Grinder and his monkey more common, we should
rapidly approach the Millenium. Tramp on, then, O! Organ-Grinder!
Tramp on, O! monkey! It is meet we should be taught patience.

     April 13, 1867.



_A RETROSPECT._


The young ladies have commenced doing a very naughty thing, which is
nothing more nor less than inserting a looking-glass on the inner
side of the book of "Common Prayer." It is so handy you know, when
you are saying the responses, to pay your little devotions to the
mirror, for how can one say the responses aright if her strings
are fluttered or her chignon awry? And then you know you can get
reflections from Celeste over in the next slip and examine her
toilet and all the time be looking at your Prayer Book, like a good
child. For combining the altar and the toilet, there is nothing like
it. When the Rector intimates that Aurelia is a worm of the dust,
she will look at her chignon and think of the gregarines. When he
cautions her against pride, the sweet little Pharisee will glance at
Celeste's shadow and be thankful that she is not as proud as C. But
when she lisps the confession to her looking-glass, will she discover
that she has left undone the things she ought to have done, and be
miserable all through the service? And when the Rector says: "Keep
thy foot when thou goest into the house of God * * * and offer not
the sacrifice of fools," will she see a fool in the looking-glass?

Which reminds me to say that I shall go to the Old Folks' Concert
on Monday night; and I shall revive the recollection of those days
when Hepzibah, in a blue calico, sang treble and turned up her nose
at Prudence, in bombazine, who sang second and always went off the
key in the fugue; of those days when Zephaniah played bass viol with
an unctuous, solemn sound, and sister Brown thought it was about
time that Huldy Perkins published her banns if she was ever "a-goin
'ter"; when old Deacon Jones couldn't sleep well through the sermon,
the "tarnal" flies "pestered him so;" when my aunt, in a black silk
that would stand alone, and a white cap over those gray locks that
are now strangely twisted among the roots of the daisies, always made
the chorister mad when they sang Coronation because she couldn't get
through the quirl in the final "Lord," without running off the track
and wrecking half the congregation. There was a great deal of talk
about this failing of my aunt's at the sewing bees, and it occasioned
hard feelings between her and the chorister, but I have no doubt they
have settled it now, and sing a great deal better than they did when
they were in the flesh.

At least, I hope they do.

     April 27, 1867.



_WHITED SEPULCHRES._


Although Aurelia has had a great deal on her mind during the past two
or three days in getting ready for the Opera, she did not fail to
remind me this morning, over her muffins, that I had agreed to say
something about male whited sepulchres.

She also did not fail to remind me that mite parties, sewing
societies, private musical soirees, young ladies' charitable
institutions, ladies' aid societies, and other mild forms of social
delirium on which the Women of America dote, had unanimously declared
I was "too bad" and that it was "a shame."

If by some happy coincidence, I shall secure a similar state
of feeling on the part of the Board of Trade, the Young Mens'
Debating Society, the Society for the Propagation of Knowledge in
Bridgeport, the Good Templars, the Masonic Lodges, the Turners,
the late Philharmonic Society, and other mild forms of masculine
gregariousness--on which the Men of America dote, I shall account
myself fortunate.

Thus I said to Aurelia, as she rose from her muffins to once more
endeavor to find the place in Swinburne's last poem, which she lost
some days ago. The Dear Creature thinks it a duty she owes society to
read Swinburne, but whenever she stops reading, she always loses her
place, so that her reading of Swinburne is likely to prove the latest
style of perpetual motion.

Persuading her to forego Swinburne for a few minutes, I took the Dear
Child into my den, the only part of the house which has thus far
escaped the innovations of Mrs. Grundy, and I said to her:

My Dear Child, you have hitherto formed your opinions of men from the
samples furnished you at one dollar and fifty cents each, selected
from the artificial articles concocted by Miss Muloch, Miss Bronte,
Miss Evans, Dumas _pere_, Henry Ward Beecher and others. You know
very little of the real article, for which reason I will catalogue a
few of the best specimens of masculine whited sepulchres.

Old Gunnybags, who sits at the head of his pew every Sunday morning,
pretending to listen to the preacher, but in reality thinking of the
invoice of sugar to arrive Monday morning; who contributes certain
sums for the conversion of the Siamese, but kicks the beggar from his
door; who wreathes his face with smiles when he sees old Tea Chest
in the next slip and in reality hates him because T. C. holds his
I. O. U.; who reads the Confession very unctuously and pronounces
the Amen very sonorously, at the same time inwardly cursing his
next brown-stone-front neighbor, who got ahead of him in a bargain,
on Saturday; who is all things to all men and a grindstone to the
individual--he is a whited sepulchre and the sepulchre is full of
hypocrisy.

Mr. Cutaswell, who orders his claret at fifty dollars a dozen and
superfluous lace for his wife at as many dollars a yard; who drives
the fastest bays on the avenue; who takes an opera box for the
season; who imports pictures from Germany and cooks from France;
who goes to Saratoga every summer and gives stunning soirees every
winter; who does all these things when he ought to be paying his
"calls"--he is a whited sepulchre, and the sepulchre is full of
swindling.

Old Muslin D. Laine, who smiles and smirks and bows to and fawns upon
his customers, and grinds his clerks into the dust; who hands My Lady
to her carriage with gracious, grinning suavity, and grinds the noses
of his employees; who irritates, goads and worries his clerks with
regulations as petty as they are tyrannical; who exacts constant,
unremitting toil to the uttermost second, alike in rain and sunshine,
in a store full of customers and a store empty; who pays a man well
for doing woman's work, and pays a woman a pittance for doing the
same; who plays the petty tyrant over the slaves of his counter--he
is a whited sepulchre, and his sepulchre is full of those who will
confront him at the Great Assize.

Rev. Augustus Fitz-Herbert, who pays more attention to his linen
than to his text; who parts his hair with more care than he writes
his discourses; who is sweet at a wedding and ravenish at a funeral;
who toadies to his wealthy parishioners; who consigns the poor devil
to eternal torment and glosses over the failings of Croesus; who
takes to the young ladies' aid societies and neglects the maternal
meetings; who, in the capacity of a shepherd, prefers a tender young
ewe to a faithful old sheep; who feeds fat on the good things of
earth and forgets those in the highways and byways; who can tell
you the last new ritualistic fashion of robe, but knows little of
the spiritual fashion of the great congregation--he is a whited
sepulchre, and his sepulchre is full of deceit.

Young Boosey, who is the product of the tailor and the bootmaker,
and never saw either of their autographs; who wears immaculate
mutton-chops and swallow-tails; who varies with each changing wind
of fashion; who simpers and lolls in your opera-box, my Dear Child,
talks very softly in your ear, and is vulgar and profane away from
you; whose highest ambition reaches his neck-tie and whose idea of
Paradise is a place where all the good fellows go, to dress and show
themselves to the female cherubs and angels--he is a whited sepulchre
and his sepulchre is full of nothing.

There are other whited sepulchres, my dear Aurelia, whom you may
detect by slight observation. They cannot conceal the fact that they
are whited. Their exteriors are not even plausible, so dense is the
growth of noxious weeds about them. You can easily test your true
gentleman. He carries his colors in his face, in his walk, in his
clothes, in his manners. You will not do well to accept every St.
Elmo who comes along under the impression that he will turn out to
be a parson. The St. Elmos who start off as scoundrels always remain
so, Miss Evans notwithstanding. Cain was not the only man who had his
forehead branded. And, if you look carefully, my dear, at the whited
sepulchres, which are full of vice, you will discover the sign on the
front door.

Aurelia, during the latter part of my homily, was a little fidgetty.
She explained the cause of it to me. She had accepted young Boosey's
invitation to Trovatore on Monday night. I consoled her by reminding
her that his whited sepulchre was perfectly harmless. She might pick
off all the roses and honeysuckles without detriment.

     May 18, 1867.



_NOTHING AND BABIES._


To write about Something is no extraordinary feat; to write about
Nothing is a feat not so easily performed.

I propose to write about Nothing, as I have Nothing to write.

Any one can be Something in the world. It requires genius to be
Nothing.

There are a very few people who have succeeded in being Nothing. In
order to be Nothing it is not necessary to know Nothing. In fact, it
requires a great deal of knowledge to be Nothing. By assiduous effort
for the past quarter of a century, more or less, I have thoroughly
succeeded in being Nothing, and I am now quietly enjoying the _otium
cum dignitate_ which appertains to that blessed condition, and can
quietly philosophize on nullity under my fig-tree, lying flat on my
back gazing at Nothing. You restless people who are Something can
have no idea of the absolute ecstasy--an ecstasy more intoxicating
than Hasheesh or Cannabis Indica, and not so brutal and vulgar as
Opium--which results from being Nothing--with Nothing on your mind,
Nothing in your pockets, Nothing to think of, Nothing to do.

But I fancy old Scroggs, who has been doing Something all his life,
and thereby has been a nuisance all his life, and Mrs. Scroggs, who
is Chairwoman of the Society for the Regeneration of Fourth Avenue,
and is more of a nuisance than old Scroggs--I fancy them saying that
I am of no use in the world.

Am I not?

Suppose I think Nothing, then at least I think no evil of any one.
Suppose I say Nothing good of any one, I say Nothing bad. If I have
Nothing, I have no taxes to pay; no interest to collect; no houses
to burn; nobody to gouge or harass, and nobody to gouge or harass
me. Which is cheerful. If I am Nothing, no one cares for me, and
equally I care for no one, so that no one and I are on good terms.
Thus, you see, being Nothing, although I may accomplish no good in
the world, I accomplish no evil. Every evil, every misery, every war,
every misfortune, all the high taxes, all the poor operas, all the
tough beefsteaks, all the sour Green Seal, all the fires, murders,
explosions, and other such cheerful casualties, are the direct result
of the efforts of these people who are Something.

Then, from a theological point of view, remember that if we were
all Nothings, the Devil would have Nothing to do, and would have to
let his fires go down and hang up his pitchforks, which would be a
blessed thing for some of these people who are Somethings.

Nullity is the primal state of man. The Rev. Dr. Homilectics tries
to impress upon me, each Sunday, the importance of going back to the
days when Adam and Eve, in the latest cut of fig-leaves, played Romeo
and Juliet under the apple-trees in Eden. He never stops to think
that their innocence was the immediate result of being Nothing and
doing Nothing, and that just as soon as they set out to be Something,
they entailed the curse of work upon all mankind.

But I go further back than Adam and Eve. In the good old days of
chaos, Nothing was in all its glory. It existed everywhere. No sight,
no sound, no smell, no taste, No-thing. This was the normal condition.

And of what use was it? says Mrs. Increase, who is bringing up a
large family of children, to be used hereafter as grindstones for
other people's noses.

Why, my dear woman of facts and figures and spheres of usefulness,
God Almighty took it and made this great world out of it, with all
its mountains and rocks and rivers, its sunsets and rainbows and
stars, its panorama of beauty by day and night, and you yourself,
although you are, probably, but a very small and a very ugly part
of this creation. Yes, madame, you and I came from this Nothing. I
have retained this Nothing with great success. You, on the other
hand, have been striving to change your normal condition by being
Something. It is not for me to say whether you have succeeded. A
great many people who think they are Something are really Nothing,
and a poor kind of Nothing at that.

If I have said Nothing in writing on this subject, it was because I
had Nothing to say. When one is writing about Nothing, you know, he
is not expected to say anything.

Which reminds me of a baby. If you ask me how it reminds me, I
cannot tell you. I only know that it reminds me of those little but
important animals.

It is cheerful news for the future census-takers that babies have
become fashionable in Paris. The "idea" will, of course, come
immediately into fashion here. I do not mean French babies, but
babies in the abstract. A baby is a good thing, a blessed thing.
I cannot conceive what I should have done if I hadn't, once upon
a time, been a baby. A baby is a well-spring, and the quantity of
lacteal fluid, lumps of sugar, soothing syrups, paregoric, squills,
squalls, walking the floor in your long-tailed night shirts,
mother's loves, lovey-doveys, and square spanking that one of those
well-springs will absorb is astonishing to one who has not had a
baby. I have had several; at least, I own stock in several.

Would I sell my experience, past, present or future, in babies?

Not much.

Therefore, I am glad babies are going to come into fashion. Just
think of the new topics of conversation, when Mrs. Brown takes her
little three-months up to see Mrs. Jones and her two-months, and the
two Dear Creatures compare colics. The little cherubs will mollify
conversation, and sympathy will take the place of severity. Instead
of gossiping on poor Mrs. Cauliflower's unfortunate but innocent
_faux pas_, the Dear Creatures will soothingly compare notes on
the baby question and discuss the merits of quieting syrups and
puff-boxes. And then there will be the baby reunions, when the great
parlor will be filled with baby chairs, and in each chair will be
a baby in blue ribbon and white muslin, and in each little rosebud
of a mouth will be thrust a dimpled fist. How pleasant it will be
to listen to the artless conversation. When Mrs. Jones' baby says
"goo," Mrs. Brown's baby will answer "goo, goo," and Mrs. Thompson's
baby, whose mother is very talkative, will "goo" a steady stream for
five minutes; and then, when one of the cherubs is affected to tears
by the point of a pin, or an unusually sharp stroke of the colic,
which by so many confiding young mothers has been taken for an angel
talking to the little one, how will they all be affected to tears and
the room resound with the dear little trebles.

But I must draw a veil over the picture. In the universal rush
which will ensue for babies and the competitive result which will
inevitably follow between ward and ward and street and street, there
must be discrimination used. When Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. Johnson sign
articles of agreement as to an _x_ number of babies in _x_ time,
Miss Aurelia and Miss Celeste must remember that, by the rules of
the B. R., they are counted out. I would not advise all to adopt the
fashion, but there are many, and there will be more, unless they
adopt Swedenborg's notion of affinities, who can safely take up the
new fashion.

And I recommend all such to adopt it immediately. As I said before, I
don't know what I should have done if I hadn't been a baby.

     June 8, 1867.



_THE CIRCUS._


It is safe to say that nine men out of ten--and the tenth man is
to be sincerely pitied--looking back, find their starting point in
a circus. Next to the maternal shoe, which hung _in terrorem_ over
the Lares and Penates, and which will never fade from the memory,
my most distant recollection is beneath the canvass. Was there ever
such a funny man as the clown? I hung upon his stale wit as Hamlet
hung upon Yorick. Were there ever such angels as those ethereal,
beautiful, gauzy, smiling women who rode round the ring--now, alas,
bandy-legged, lath-armed, tinseled, painted, disconsolate looking
creatures, whose whole world is within the narrow limits of the ring?

Did Arabia produce such fiery steeds, brave in gaily caparisoned
trappings--now, poor old hacks, full of the spirit of the
tread-mill--not all the yells of rider, clown and ringmaster, not
all the brutal lashings of whip and thong, can force beyond their
customary gait?

Were there ever such candies and cakes and pop corn as that boy
peddled whom I used to envy?

Name the sum I would not have given to have been the bugle man who
blew "Silver Moon" so gorgeously!

And then I passed from one sphere of Elysium to another when, after
the circus, I went to the side-show and saw the fat woman, and the
skeleton man, and the calf with three legs, and the dog with two
heads, the man who swallowed the sword and the man who took the
snake's head in his mouth. And I went home and dreamed that I was
ring-master, gorgeous in silver lace, with a long whip which I
snapped at the clown, and, rapture of raptures, did I not help the
angels to mount their horses? Talk not of the realities of life by
the side of that circus, which was an enchanted land!

As I look back to that circus, I see my first original sin or
concatenation of sins.

Am I not he who informed my parents that I was going to see another
little boy?

Am I not he who stole a watermelon from our neighbor's patch?

Am I not he who took it to old Bliffkins, who lived under the hill,
and sold it to him for a shilling?

Am I not he who with the shilling walked two miles, and then found it
cost a quarter to get into the circus? Was there ever such a monster
as the man at the door, who wouldn't let me in?

I have never known such griefs as my grief that day. I hung round the
outside of that tent as sinners are supposed to hang round the walls
of Heaven. I heard the music and the hip-hips and the cheers and the
snaps of the whips, and in my desperation I tried to look under the
canvass, but was detected in the act by the monster at the door, and
obliged to fly for my life. I have never known a grief so poignant as
that.

I pity the man who has not sinned in his boyhood, all for a circus.
He has missed one of the luxuries of life which can hardly find
compensation in an æon of virtue.

     June 15, 1867.



_BEFORE THE WEDDING._


I have already intimated in these columns that Aurelia is about to be
married. Young Peplum, who is so well known as the gentlemanly clerk
at ----'s dry goods store, and who is heir apparent to a snug hundred
thousand, when his uncle dies, is the fortunate man who will have
the pleasure of supplying her with millinery hereafter, and of being
known as the husband of Mrs. Aurelia ----.

Aurelia, at present, is in a frightful crisis of dry goods, and is
driving to the very verge of distraction a score of dress-makers,
milliners and cloak-makers, who are sitting around the house like so
many Patiences on monuments. Fractions of bridal dresses, traveling
dresses, morning wrappers, cloaks, basques and basquines, immaculate
and mysterious white garments with the most _spirituel_ ruffles and
frills foaming over them, cobwebby handkerchiefs and articles in the
_sanctum sanctorum_ of the toilet, the meaning of which I suspect
but dare not mention--are all over the house from the garret to the
cellarage; on chairs, on tables, on beds, on the piano, on lounges,
on everything. I had rather undertake to walk through an acre of
eggs, without breaking one of them, than to go through the house
without setting my No. 11 boot heel into some frail gossamer of a
dress, and rending its gauzy fabric and Aurelia's heart at the same
time.

All the expectations, the hopes, the responsibilities, the aims and
ambitions of Aurelia's life, if not of all human lives, now depend on
the difference of shade in two ribbons or the relative reflections in
two different silks, on both of which she has set her heart.

They are sweet pretty--but O dear!

She has wept bitter tears over the total depravity of a bias and the
literally infernal unreliability of a sewing machine, which will
skip stitches in crises of awful importance. Three long nights she
lay awake, haunted with the dreadful suspicion that her shoemaker
was an impostor, and that he had not given her the latest style of
slipper-tie.

How could she assume the grave responsibilities of married life, if
her slipper-tie were not the very latest?

Of course she couldn't.

She is thoroughly convinced that if anything should go wrong in the
preparations for the ceremony, or in the ceremony itself, the world
would cease its diurnal revolutions; there would be no further use
for its axis; seed time and harvest would be alike immaterial to the
farmer; ships and ledgers to the merchant; the anvil and loom to the
mechanic; there would be nothing more worth living for; her career
might as well be ended, the curtain come down, the lights go out, and
the audience go home, without stopping for the close of the play.

I pitied the Dear Child, and so, yesterday, after she had consulted
the marriage column of the TRIBUNE, to see if any other person in
the city had undergone her tribulations, I invited her to my den,
that I might administer some consolation to her, wading in such deep
waters. She gave the Patiences some parting injunctions, and each of
them, from their respective monuments, looked down with weary eyes
and nodded acquiescence.

She sat down by my Minerva, paying little heed, however, to those
wise, solemn eyes which looked out from the marble with a sort of
pity at her. I lighted my meerschaum, just commencing to be flecked
with delicate amber streaks, and I said to her, as she listlessly
pulled a bouquet to pieces, scattering the petals upon the floor, as
if they were the ghosts of little dead hopes:

My Dear Aurelia, I need not tell you that you are about to enter upon
a very important phase of your life, which hitherto has been of about
as much importance as your canary's; that you are about to assume
the responsibility of knowing a porter-house from a tenderloin, peas
from beans, and the mysteries of soup and salad; that you are about
entering the arcana of the washboard, the mangle, and the sideboard;
and that you are to fit yourself for the companionship of the young
ladies who will stand to you in the relation of domestics: for all of
which you will find a recompense and sweet solace in your husband's
pocket-book. In view of these solemn responsibilities of the present,
and small anxieties which may accrue in the hereafter, it is
eminently proper that you should approach the altar with a certain
degree of reverence--

(At this point Minerva distinctly winked her left eye at Aurelia,
but Aurelia did not notice it, whereupon the Goddess resumed her wise
look, and I continued):

I am only afraid, my Dear Child, that in making all these
preparations, you are rather making them for Mrs. Grundy than for
yourself, against which mistake I would caution you for several
reasons.

It is not probable that the great world will care much for your
marriage.

(Aurelia astonished, and Minerva winking both eyes.)

I presume to say that horse races, billiard and base-ball matches
will take place just as they always have; that Napoleon will quarrel
with Bismarck after your marriage as he did before; that the Eastern
Question will continue to trouble political philosophers, and that
your neighbors will go on eating, drinking, driving, gossiping and
pouring out the small beer of their lives much the same as they have
always done, and that the world will continue to turn round, and
that you and your husband and your rainbows, orange flowers, Cupids
and moonbeams will go round with it, just as if you had never been
married.

My Dear Child, this world is nothing but an ant-hill, and we are
quite insignificant ants, each toiling along with his or her little
burden, and when one ant gets another to help carry the load, the
other ants don't mind it much, but push on with their burdens. Some
day we go out of sight into the alluvium of the hill, burden and all,
and forget to come out again, but even then, strange to say, the
other ants don't miss us or stop to look after us, but keep pushing
on, this way and that, and running over each other, and quarrelling
about burdens. Therefore, my dear, I would advise you to let Mrs.
Grundy carry her burden and pay no attention to her. Take your meals
regularly and your usual allowance of sleep. It will be better for
your peace and your digestion.

And again, my dear Aurelia, I am afraid you are going to make a
splurge. A splurge is a good thing if you can keep splurging. If,
when you set off like a rocket, you can keep going like a rocket,
brilliant and beautiful, it will be a very good thing to do. But if
you start like a rocket, and come down like a poor, miserable stick,
with a wad of burned pasteboard on the end of you, you had better
never have been touched off, because everybody will say they knew
it would be so, and you yourself will sit in ashes all your life,
clothing yourself with sackcloth, and lamenting your silliness in
trying to make a splurge.

Now your future husband is making a comfortable living, and by
the practice of ordinary economy you and he may get along very
comfortably. In regard to your legacy there is no certainty. Your
uncle's lungs and liver are much better than your husband's, and even
if your husband should outlive him, there may be nothing left to
give you, so that after spreading your choice dishes for your guests
you may have to come down to potsherds yourself. Do not splurge,
therefore, unless you are ready to keep up your splurge. Beware of
going into the large end of the horn and coming out of the little
end, for you will be very thin when you come out, and Mrs. Grundy
will laugh at you. I think it is better, if there is any uncertainty
about your prospects, to go in at the little end, and then when
you come out at the large end, you can come out in style and with
plenty of room. But, under any and all circumstances, splurging is
dangerous, and in nine cases out of ten will land you, heels upwards,
kicking at space. You, yourself, my dear, will remember that on one
occasion, when you were a little late at church and had on that new
hat, you tried to splurge up the aisle and sat down suddenly upon the
floor, with the whole congregation looking at you. Just so will it be
all through life. If you have a weak point about you--and, my Dear
Child, you have many (here Minerva actually nodded assent)--a splurge
will be sure to discover that point to the spectator. Therefore I
would advise you and your husband to launch your craft very quietly.
You will then have the right, when you can afford it, to do and be
something in the world, and when your husband goes into the ant-hill
out of sight, some other ant will tell in the papers, for the other
ants to read, how he commenced poor but honest, and worked his way
up, and some little ants with very large burdens will take courage
thereat and ply their legs more vigorously than ever.

In another respect it is well not to make a splurge. If you make a
public wedding and issue a large number of invitations, astonishing
as the event may seem to you, it will be quite a common affair to
most of us. The young people will criticise you most unmercifully.
If there is an orange flower awry upon your veil, if there is a bit
of ribbon or lace out of gear, if your hair is not exactly _a la
mode_, they will find it out. Your looks and responses also, my dear,
will be canvassed by charming young creatures, and as they weep such
pearly tears of sorrow over your misfortunes, and are dying of envy
that they haven't an opportunity of looking interesting, because
they could do it so much prettier than you, they will mentally take
a catalogue of all your adornments and discuss them for many days
to come. The old married people who come, I assure you, will do the
operation much as they do their dinners. Bless you, they have seen
weddings before, many a time, and if they have one interested thought
about this ceremony, which you suppose all the world is looking at,
it is that they did this sort of thing better in their day. Then in
your list of invitations, when you make it general, there will always
be the old lady who goes to funerals and weddings because she likes
to, and thinks it her duty. She is equally solemn on both occasions,
refers frequently to this vale of tears, and can weep with a fluency
only equalled by a water-spout. You will do well to keep on her good
side, which you can do by feeding her well; for in spite of the fact
which she so frequently announces, that this is a vale of tears, she
can eat a square meal with a success only equalled by young Boosey,
whom you will have to invite, and who will come only to gormandize
on your cake and wine and grow eloquent over your Russe. It would
be better for you, therefore, to avoid a large gathering, and still
better to make your party a family one.

Again, I would urge upon you, my Dear Child, not to attempt to look
interesting. By all means avoid this rock upon which young brides
are apt to split. I have seen scores of brides go off the stocks and
I have never seen one yet who tried to look interesting, who didn't
resemble a wax figure in a hair store or a goose in a paddock. You
had better look like yourself. Remember that you are a woman. Listen
to the minister and answer his questions sensibly and not go off in a
paroxysm of smiles, quirks, simpers and pianissimo lisping, as if you
were the ghost of a rose leaf, which you are not, my dear.

Also, have a perfect understanding with your husband-to-be. You have
been living on moonbeams long enough. Sink your romance sufficiently
to get at realities, and it will save you heartburns, headaches and
red eyes hereafter. Your husband, who has a stomach like other men,
will get sick of living on moonshine in an incredibly short space of
time. He accomplished the purpose of moonshine, my Dear Child, when
he got you, and he will immediately return to the more substantial
things of the earth. And you yourself will be astonished how quickly
the realities of married life will take the romantic starch out of
you, and at the suddenness with which you will tumble, (like the man
who came down too soon to inquire the way to Norwich,) from your
enchanted world to the commonplaces of beefsteak, baby-baskets and
washboards. It will be best, therefore, for you to exactly understand
each other, because one of you cannot live in the moon and the other
on the earth.

Lastly. I would solemnly caution you against making the mistake that
you are the only woman in the world who ever got married. My dear
Aurelia, singular as it may seem to you, thousands and millions have
been married before you, and thousands and millions will be married
after you, and thousands and millions will care as little for your
marriage as you do for your grandmother's. (Minerva at this point
nodded assent so vigorously that she lost her balance and fell at
the feet of my Venus di Medici, and was exceedingly shocked at the
latter.)

I was about to conclude my morning talk with an impressive peroration
on the duties, trials and pleasures of wedded life, and rose to
relight my pipe, when I found that Aurelia was fast asleep.

I was saddened at the discovery, but I quietly slipped out and told
the Patiences on the monuments of it, and they one and all rested,
and this explains the reason why the work got behind-hand, and
Aurelia had to postpone the wedding one day.

     June 22, 1867.



_THE WEDDING._


The great event of the week has not been the Fourth of July, as is
vulgarly supposed, but the marriage of Aurelia to young Peplum,
the gentlemanly clerk at ----'s dry goods store, heir apparent to
$100,000, etc.

I regret to say that Aurelia paid no regard to the advice I gave
her two weeks ago. In spite of all my efforts to persuade her to
the contrary, she persisted in the hallucination that she was the
first woman who had ever been torn away from distracted parents and
led, a garlanded victim, to the matrimonial altar. I think she was
disappointed that the heavens were not hung with white favors, and
that deputations were not present from the various races of the
globe, and that business was not suspended. The number of invitations
was only limited by the capacity of the house. Everyone of the young
ladies invited was a very dear friend, not to have invited whom would
have given mortal offence, and sundered friendships, in many cases
of several weeks' existence, without which life would have been a
blank--Sahara without an oasis--Heaven without a star.

M. Arsene Houssaye, rash man, says that woman is the fourth theologic
virtue and the eighth mortal sin. Upon this standard it is safe to
say there was present a frightful amount of theologic virtue and
mortal sin. I am sure of the latter fact.

The hour for the ceremony had been appointed at 6 P.M. Deeply
impressed as was Aurelia with the idea that Columbus, discovering the
New World; Galileo, fixing the motion of the earth round the sun;
Newton, discovering the laws of gravitation, and Harvey, finding the
circulation of the blood--were but every-day common-places compared
with this event,--she had, nevertheless, found it impossible to
convince the Directors of the Michigan Central Railroad of that fact.
The result was that trains ran at the usual hour, and would not wait,
even one little minute, and it was vulgarly necessary, therefore, to
have the wedding promptly at six.

After the wedding was over, I invited old Blobbs up to my den to
smoke, and we compared notes on this occasion, and mutually arrived
at this result: That the good old-fashioned custom of a large family
wedding, celebrated in hospitable style, followed up with wit,
sociality, games, and a dance, the guests departing at a seasonable
time, well lined with capon and punch, trusting to Providence and
instinct that the young couple would find their way through the
night, somehow, to the breakfast table the next morning, the bride
dressed in the rosiest of blushes, and the groom very plucky and
defiant, each commencing the race in life from the starting point of
home, was much more sensible than this modern custom of gathering
together all their dear friends, hurrying through the ceremony,
and then running off a thousand miles, as if the couple had done
something they were ashamed of.

And then we compared the comfort of home with a sleeping car:
your own snugly furnished and beautifully adorned room, cosy,
quiet, dreamy and mysterious, with the vulgar, rattling, smoking,
baby-crying, enjoyed-in-common, dirty-counterpaned, cindery,
head-smashing, waked-up-every-hour bunks of the sleeping car; the
breakfast of cream and honey and strawberries, fragrant Mocha and
snowy rolls, with the dirt, dust, cinders, smoke, tough beefsteaks
and mahogany coffee of a sleeping car.

"_De gustibus non est disputandum_," said I.

"Ditto," said Blobbs.

From early morn until dewy eve, the dressmakers, mantau-makers,
milliners, hair-dressers and chambermaids had been laboring on
Aurelia. They modelled her, shaped her, powdered her, painted her,
twisted her, pulled her, laced her, unlaced her, fixed her, took
her to pieces and put her together again, behind carefully locked
doors, while that poor devil Peplum, in a seven-by-nine room, with a
two-by-three looking glass, two brushes and a comb, went at himself
with fear and trembling, and although he was more lavish than ever of
Macassar and Day & Martin, and split three pairs of kids and looked
very red in the face, still he looked like himself, which is more
than I can say of Aurelia.

In the meantime the guests were assembled, one hundred of whom
were young ladies and all dear friends, looking very much like
pinks in a parterre; fifty young gentlemen who looked as if they
had something on their minds and were suspicious of the integrity
of their cravats--(I know of nothing more terrible than to be in
the company of very dear friends when you have a suspicion of
the integrity of your outer man); a handful of old people who
resembled feathery dandelion-tufts in a field of red and white
clover; and Rev. Fitz-Herbert Evelyn, the sweet young associate of
old Dr. Homilectics, who does up the weddings, youthful funerals,
evening meetings, and morning calls, is sound on lunch, convenient
in doctrine, and orthodox in raiment. For a set sermon on the
rationalistic errors in Transubstantiation, the old doctor can beat
him out of sight, but he has given up weddings as he is no longer
sweet, and has been known to have talked common sense on such
occasions, which is as much out of place as honesty in a Legislature.
Consequently, the young ladies prefer the sweet, young Fitz-Herbert,
who would sleep uneasily should he find a rose leaf under him edge
upward, who rushes through the ceremony daintily, with the tips of
his fingers, and after having tied the young lambs together with a
thread, cooly dares anybody to put them asunder.

When the bridal couple entered the room, they immediately became
the foci of three hundred or more eyes. They had scarcely got into
position, when one hundred noses were elevated just a trifle, from
which I judged that Aurelia, although fearfully and wonderfully made,
was not altogether a success to her dear young friends. One hundred
upper lips curled up, and fifty elbows of dear friends nudged in
concert the corsets of fifty other dear friends, at what I afterwards
found to be a spot upon her veil, left by one of the bridesmaids who
was addicted to chewing spruce gum.

Aurelia commenced to look interesting, and, to my horror, so did
young Peplum, and they succeeded admirably in looking like a young
man and a young woman detected in the act of stealing green apples
from a corner grocery. Sweet Mr. Evelyn stepped up, and after running
his hand through his raven hair and passing it over his marble brow
once or twice, thereby setting off to more advantage that amethyst
ring which Blanche Jessamine gave him at the last meeting of the
Young Ladies' Aid Society, he commenced looking very saintly and
talking very sweetly.

After the customary promises, Fitz-Herbert began a beautiful
exordium, feelingly alluding to the journey of life; touching
upon the launching of the craft; alluding to calm seas; solemnly
describing the mutual partnership of joys and sorrows; mentioning
cups of bliss, sprinkling roses and boldly deprecating thorns. And
when he said, in a solemn but sweet tone of voice: "My dear young
friends, you are about to enter upon a pathway," etc., all the dear
friends were visibly affected. One hundred lace handkerchiefs went up
to two hundred eyes. The old maid who goes to all the weddings and
funerals for lachrymal purposes went off like a waterspout. As she
afterwards told me it did her a power of good, and that she hadn't
enjoyed the blessing of tears so much since Podgers died.

(Podgers was a distant relative of her's on her mother's side, and
was so confused at the time of his decease, that he forgot to mention
her in his will.)

Mrs. Carbuncle, the woman in red hair and blue Thibet, who went to
see Booth in Othello, because she doted on the Irish drama, had her
child with her, who had served his purpose thus far in supplying some
of the rash young fellows present with significant jokes. The child,
seeing all the rest of the company in a lachrymose state, also lifted
up his voice and wept out of sympathy. Mrs. Carbuncle's efforts
to quiet him only made matters worse, and the youthful Carbuncle,
kicking and weeping, was carried off in disgrace to an upper chamber,
where, for half an hour afterwards, he manifested his poignant grief,
by refusing to be comforted, and bumping the back of his head against
a cottage bedstead.

Sweet Fitz-Herbert, who has a gift at weddings, but a keen
appreciation of fees, was very brief in his ceremony, much to young
Boosey's delight, who was dying to get at the supper table, around
which Biddy was hovering in transports of delight like a bee round a
hollyhock, being engaged at the same time in an internecine war with
some men and brethren who had invaded her domains, in which war she
was assisted by all the Biddies of the neighborhood, whom she had
smuggled in by the back entrance to see the tables.

The ceremony having been concluded, congratulations were in order,
when Mrs. Flamingo burst in, in a state of perspiration and general
_deshabille_. For being just two minutes late, and for sleeping over
on important occasions, that woman is a prodigy. In the natural
history of society, she is the Great American Snail. If she ever
dies, she will have to change her present habits, and in any event
will sleep over when Gabriel blows his trumpet. If she had lived in
the days of Noah, she would have been drowned within hailing distance
of the ark. She is the woman who always comes late at the concerts
and has to be waked by the door-keeper when he puts out the lights,
and is always vigorous in pursuit of the last car of a railroad
train.

It is hardly necessary for me to describe the wedding supper: the
cakes, crowned with sugar cherubs straddling white roses and chasing
golden butterflies among silver leaves; sugar Cupids, hovering on
the brink of an ocean of Charlotte Russe; the huge pyramid of small
syllabubs, which a man and brother, losing his presence of mind in
waiting upon young Boosey, upset in all directions; the saucer of
ice cream which another man, etc., upset upon Mrs. Carbuncle's head;
the Heidseck which ruined Celeste's silk; the customary sentiment of
sweet Fitz-Herbert, which I give entire: "Our dear young friends,
who this night enter the pathway of life: May their cup of bliss
always be full and their journey strewn with roses without a thorn.
And if we never meet here, may we meet hereafter where they neither
marry nor are given in marriage." Greatest of all, need I describe
how Boosey and the crying old maid commenced at one end of the table
and ate and drank through to the other without a single skip, or how
Boosey retired from the fray, confused in his mind and uncertain in
his legs, after proposing as a sentiment: "Here's to Peplum and Mrs.
Peplum--j-j-jolly good fe-fe-fe-fellows. Dr-dr-dr-drink hearty."

The most astonishing event of the evening was the utter indifference
of the hackman, who took the bride and Mr. Peplum to the depot. He
was not aware of the importance of the event, and even dared to growl
up to the fifth trunk, and swear in a low tone of voice at the sixth
and last--the four-story Saratoga, and in a satirical tone of voice
asked if he should drive to the freight depot.

That wretched man knew not that he carried the first woman ever
married.

The guests finally departed--Mr. and Mrs. Peplum to the uncertainties
of the sleeping car; sweet Fitz-Herbert leaving a Night-Blooming
Cereus odor of sanctity behind him; the dear young friends; the old
dandelion tops; the old maid still weeping; the disgraced child;
Boosey on his winding way; and Mrs. Flamingo, who was found asleep
near the ruins of the supper table, when Biddy was putting out the
lights.

And I went to my den and lit my pipe and looked out of the window.
The moon was still shining. The stars winked at me. A romantic young
man was practising "Oft in the Stilly Night" on a cracked trumpet.
Terrence and Bridget were sitting up at the next gate. The wind blew.
The leaves rustled. My pipe glowed. The world revolved. I existed.
And yet Aurelia had been married that very night.

If I have said little about Mr. Peplum, it is because Mr. Peplum
seemed to have very little to do with it.

     July 6, 1867.



_MUSCULAR CHRISTIANITY._


Are you a base-ballist? If not, take my word and retire from the
world.

You are a nullity, a nothing, a 0.

The cholera of 1866 is among us, but it has assumed the base-ball
type. It is malignant, zymotic and infectious. Its results are not
so fatal as last year, and manifest themselves in the shape of
disjointed fingers, lame legs, discolored noses, and walking sticks.

The disease is prevalent among all classes. Editors, actors,
aldermen, clerks, lumbermen, commission men, butchers, book-sellers,
doctors and undertakers have it, and many of them have it bad.

Even the tailors tried to make up a club, but as they found it took
eighty-one men to make up a nine they gave it up.

The only class not yet represented is the clerical.

More's the pity.

They would derive many advantages from the game. You see they would
learn the value of the short stop. That is an important point on
warm Sundays. They would also learn to hit hard. There are lots of
old sinners who need to be hit that way. This continual pelting away
with little theological pop-guns at old sinners whose epidermis
is as thick as an elephant's, is of no consequence whatever. The
shot rattle off like hailstones from a roof. They must learn to hit
hard--hit so it will hurt--hit right between the eyes--fetch their
man down, and rather than take such another theological bombshell, he
will reconstruct.

There isn't a minister in this city who wouldn't preach better next
Sunday for a square game of base-ball. This Christianity of the soft,
flaccid, womanish, alabaster, die-away muscle kind, is pretty, but it
isn't worth a cent in a stand-up fight with the Devil.

The Devil is not only a hard hitter with the bat, but he is a quick
fielder, and he will pick a soul right off the bat of one of these
soft muscle men while S. M. is wasting his strength on the air. He
has another advantage over our clergymen. Most of them are confined
to one base. The Devil plays on all the bases at once, and he can
take the hottest kind of a ball without winking. Our ministers ought
to get so they can do the same thing.

Melancthon was one of the soft muscle kind. He was gentle, sweet,
amiable, gracious, and all that, but if he had been compelled to
carry the Reformation on his shoulders, he never would have left his
home base. While old Luther, a man of iron muscle, a hard hitter
and a hard talker, who keeled the Devil over with his inkstand, and
kicked Popes and Popes' theses, bulls and fulmina to the winds, made
home runs every time, and left a clean score for the Reformation.

A great many of our ministers have bones--some, rather dry
bones--nerves, sinews and muscles, just as an infant has, but they
want development. They need blood which goes bounding through the
veins and arteries, and tingles to the finger tips. Their sinews
must stiffen up, their nerves toughen and their muscles harden.
This process can be obtained by base-ball. It will settle their
stomachs and livers, and when these are settled, their brains will be
clear. They won't have to travel to cure the bronchitis, and won't
be so peevish over good sister Thompson, who needs a great deal of
consolation, owing to her nervous system.

Now, I would like to see two ministerial nines in the field. Robert
Collyer at the bat would be a splendid hitter, and would send the
Liberal ball hot to Brother Hatfield, on the short stop, and I would
stake all my money that he couldn't make it so hot that Brother H.
wouldn't stop it. These two clergymen wouldn't need to practice much,
because they represent my idea of muscular Christians. Whenever they
hit, they hit hard, and I pity the soft-muscled parson that gets into
a controversy with either of them. But then they would get all the
rest of the nines into good trim and harden up the muscles of Dr.
Ryder and Robert Laird Collier, Father Butler, Dr. Patton, and Revs.
Everts and Patterson, and the rest. To be sure, the clerical fingers
would sting, and the clerical legs would be stiff, and the clerical
backs would ache for a few days, but it would take all the headaches
and dizziness, and dyspepsia and liver complaints, and heartburns out
of the system. Their inner men would be refreshed, and their outer
men regenerated, and they would go into their pulpits with firmer
step, and their sermons would be full of blood and muscle, and they
would kick the old musty tomes on one side and preach right out of
their consciousness and hearts, man to man, and all would get their
salaries increased and a month's vacation to go to the seaside.

I tell you, my brethren, in this city of Chicago, the Devil is
getting the upper hand, and you must go in on your muscle. Get your
backs up. Stiffen your muscles and then hit like a sledge-hammer. If
old Croesus, in your congregation, is a whiskey-seller, don't be
afraid of him. Hit him on the head so it will hurt. If Free-on-Board
is a professional grain gambler, hit him on the head. If old
Skinflint acts dirtily with his tenants, tell him he is a miserable
old devil. Don't be afraid of him. He will like you all the better
for it. If he won't get down on his knees by fair talking, take hold
of his coat-collar and put him upon his knees.

     August 17, 1869.



_THE BOSTON GIRL._


The Boston girl, necessarily, was born in Boston. Necessarily, also,
her ancestors, and she can trace back her lineage to that Thankful
Osgood, who came over in 1640, and owned the cow that laid out the
streets of Boston. The wolf that suckled Romulus was held in no more
respect by the Latins than is the bronzed image of that cow, cast by
Mr. Ball, the sculptor, upon a commission from her father, a solid
man, who lives on Beacon street, in a brown stone front with two
"bow" windows and a brass knocker.

The ambition of every Boston girl is to live in a brown stone front
with two "bow" windows and a brass knocker, before she dies. Having
accomplished that, and attended a course of medical lectures, she is
ready to depart in peace, for after that, all is vanity.

There are three episodes in the life of every Boston girl, viz., the
Frog Pond, the Natural History Rooms, and the Fraternity Lectures.
In her infancy, if so majestic a creature ever had an infancy,
she sailed small boats on the Frog Pond, and was several times
rescued from drowning in its depths, by the same policeman, who
to-day wanders along its stone coping, watching the reflection of
his star in the water, as he did a quarter of a century ago. She
visits the pond daily on her way to the Natural History Rooms, where
she inspects with diurnal increase of solicitude the bones of the
megatherium and the nondescript foeti of human and animal births,
preserved in Boston bottles, filled with Boston spirits.

But the series of Fraternity Lectures is the great fact of the Boston
girl's life. She dotes on Phillips, idolizes Weiss' social problems,
goes into a fine frenzy over Emerson's transcendentalism, and
worships Gail Hamilton and her airy nothings.

The Boston girl is of medium height, with a pale, intellectual
face, light hair, blue eyes, wears eye-glasses, squints a little,
rather _deshabille_ in dress, slight traces of ink on her second
finger, blue as to her hose and large as to her feet. Of physical
beauty she is no boaster, but of intellectual she is the paragon
of animals. Gather a dandelion by the roadside, she will only
recognize it as _Leontodon taraxacum_, and discourse to you learnedly
of fructification by winged seeds. She will describe to you the
relative voicings of the organs of Boston and the size of the stops
in the Big one. She will analyze the difference in Beethoven's and
Mendelssohn's treatment of an _allegro con moto_. She will learnedly
point out to you the theological differences in the conservative and
radical schools of Unitarianism, and she has her views on the rights
of woman, including her sphere and mission. But I doubt whether
the beauty of the flower, the essence of music, the sublimity of
Beethoven and Mendelssohn, or the inspiration of theology, ever find
their way into her science-laden skull, or whether her spectacled
eyes ever see the way to the core of nature and art.

The Boston girl is a shell. She never ripens into a matured flesh
and blood woman. She is cold, hard, dry and juiceless. Gail Hamilton
is a type of the Boston girl at maturity. Abby Kelly Foster was a
type of the Boston girl gone to seed. If Gail Hamilton lives as long
as did Abby, she will carry a blue cotton umbrella, wear a Lowell
calico, and make speeches on the wrongs of woman and the abuses of
the Tyrant Man. If the Boston girl ever marries, she gives birth
to a dictionary, or to a melancholy young intellect, who is fed
exclusively on vegetables, at the age of six has mastered logarithms
and zoology, is well up in the carboniferous and fossiliferous
periods, falls into the Frog Pond a few times, dies when he is eight
years of age, and sleeps beneath a learned epitaph and the _Leontodon
taraxacum_.

     September 7, 1867.



_THE DEAD._


Has a live man any rights which a dead man is bound to respect?

I ask this question with due consideration for the feelings of a
dead man. I know it is an unpleasant thing to be a dead man. There
are no corner-lots, no operas, no new novels, no latest styles, no
duck-shooting, no sensations on the other bank of the Styx.

I never appreciated that poet who would not live always. I would.

Neither that other poet who wanted to die in the summer time. I am so
little particular about the time, as to prefer not to die at any time.

Neither those gushing young women who pine for a willow tree, with
a nightingale "into it," at the headboard, and trim daisies at the
foot-board.

My sepulchro-botanical yearnings are overpowered by a very strong
friendship for this superb old world.

Which reminds me to again ask the question: Has a live man any rights
which a dead man is bound to respect?

And this suggests, first, Tombstones.

I am prepared to make a wager with any responsible party that in
a match for the championship of lying, a tombstone would beat
Ananias with Sapphira thrown in, and will give odds. _Hic jacet_
is literally true, and about the only true thing the majority of
tombstones say. If the ghosts of the late deceased--who are always
eminent--are permitted to stroll about cemeteries at their leisure,
their astonishment at reading their epitaphs must be of the most
supernatural character.

A miser, whose small soul in his earthly life could not have been
found with a microscope, is astonished to discover, that he was a
liberal-hearted man and a benefactor, with distant allusions to the
possibility of his having been an angel in disguise.

A man who went through the world without the responsibility of a
single moral principle under his vest, suddenly finds that he was
possessed of all the cardinal virtues, and is written down on cool
marble as an exemplar for the rising generation.

A woman who, in the earthly tabernacle, was the lingual scourge of
her neighborhood, discovers that she was the loveliest of her sex,
and is now an angel with the handsomest wings to be found in the
whole ornithological tribe of the upper air.

A man whose highest ambition was to go through life quietly, doing
as much good as he could for his fellows, and to go out of life like
a gentleman, finds himself kicking up posthumous dust under a huge
monument of the most elaborate description, gaudy with gilding,
wreaths, chaplets, urns, torches and flowers.

Considering the number of nuisances among the living, the quantity of
angels and cherubs in every graveyard is appalling, and it becomes
a question worthy of consideration by the Academy of Sciences--the
ultimate destination of the sinners and poor devils. All known grave
yards are devoted exclusively to saints. In what _ignota terra_ rest
the bones of the sinners?

Now, I submit that a live man has some rights which a tombstone
is bound to respect, and that when old Sniffles, who swindled me
unmercifully, the other day, without any compunction, shuffles off
his miserable coil, his tombstone shall not tell me he was a pink of
honesty.

And again, are we not overdoing the thing in regard to funerals? I
have already shown in these letters that one can hardly afford to die
now-a-days, owing to the expense. This expense grows out of the fact
that we are letting fashion act as mistress of ceremonies on these
occasions. It is not enough that fashion has made asses of us, and
tricked us out with her fantastic nonsense all our lives, but, even
after the curtain has fallen, the lights are turned off, the audience
have gone home, and the house is shut up, fashion still persists in
hanging its gewgaws upon the outside walls.

Accordingly, every respectable deceased must be buried in a casket--a
pretty casket of the most approved shape, and the costlier the
material, the better. The nails must be silver-headed to be _au
fait_, and the handles classic in design and silver beyond suspicion.
The inside must correspond with the outside, and, after the late
deceased is laid out, it is then eminently proper to smother him or
her with flowers, crosses, wreaths, anchors and other emblematic
designs. The climax will be capped if the deceased is clad in the
latest style of the _beau monde_, and carries with him or her into
the long sleep, the exact cut or style of garment in which death
overtook him or her.

I am not inveighing against respect to the dead. I believe that
nothing is so appropriate for a dead child as flowers, nothing
so typical of beauty and purity, nothing which so becomes the
young life, frail as the flowers themselves. I only object to the
frivolous, foolish, indecorous displays which fashion compels the
survivors to make. If a man has lived through life like a gentleman,
let him be buried like a gentleman, without fashion's tricking-out. I
submit that when a man or woman has got through with life, he or she
has got through with fashion, and that it is the height of folly for
friends of the family to allow officious tradesmen the opportunity of
displaying their fashionable wares, on an occasion when simplicity
and solemnity are most befitting.

Which brings me to another point in considering whether a live
man has any rights a dead man is bound to respect. And that point
is--Mourning.

On general principles, I claim that we have no right to advertise
our griefs to the world by mourning apparel. Of all griefs, those of
death should be the most delicate, the most personal. If we must do
it at all, I think the Chinese custom of wearing white is the most
sensible. Why must we go in sables and obtrude our crape into the
blessed light of the sun, and our black sorrow into the eyes of the
world, when all is light where our friend has gone?

But this custom could be endured if fashion had not seized it.
Fashion regulates our sorrow, measures our grief, and bounds our
mourning within prescribed limits. Heartfelt grief goes in deep
black. Good average grief in half black. Mitigated grief contents
itself in a black-bordered handkerchief, and advertises itself to
correspondents in a black-bordered envelope. Hopeful grief will get
along with a jet pin, and for just the smallest amount of grief in
the world, a dark figure in the dress, and a week's abstinence from
the opera will do; while for the tribe of relatives whom you never
saw and never wanted to see, any milliner or tailor can regulate your
grief with a yardstick or hat-body.

If I were a blessed, viewless spirit, and found a friend of mine
indulging in mitigated grief for me with handkerchief edging, I would
indulge in spiritual manifestations which would put the Fox sisters
to their trumps.

In the name of our common humanity, do we not play pranks enough
with the living to let the dead rest? Why vex their memories with
the foolery of fashion? Why make ourselves walking sign-boards,
announcing to the world, that does not care a whit about it, that we
are in this or that stage of grief?

With our fashionable mourning, we are putting a libel on immortality,
and lowering to the vulgar level of common notoriety what should be
most sacred and strictly private.

And now I suppose that, in answer to all this, somebody will fling
at me that stupid old apothegm--_De mortuis nil nisi bonum._ It
is time that maxim was exploded, or, at least, dissected, so that
it may have proper application. A, who has been a rascal all his
life, dies, and immediately we are all so tender of his reputation
that we very nearly canonize him. As soon as a man dies, it is the
universal outcry to let him rest. I do not see the slightest danger
of disturbing his rest by anything we can say or do. He will probably
lie quite as still as if we are silent. It is not probable that
he will grow indignant if we tell the exact truth about him, or
exhibit any large amount of gratification over our eulogies. In this
upper world it is quite a common thing for us to assail our dear
friends as soon as their coat-tails are over our thresholds, when
this backbiting may be cruelly unjust, and there are some of us who
require a very light stock of material to do a thriving business in
slander. We pursue our friends with defamation while living, and
while it will injure them, but when dead and past all injury, we grow
suddenly reticent and commence the rather ungracious task of eulogy,
and we usually outdo ourselves in the latter direction. Let equal
justice be done. Hold up the dead man's virtues to emulation, and his
vices to abhorrence. He is quite beyond any harm we can do him, and
if we have any tenderness to bestow on reputation, let us bestow it
on the living.

     October 26, 1867.



_OUR THANKSGIVING._


We had just got up from dinner table on Thanksgiving Day and retired
to the parlor to chat--Celeste and Boosey, Aurelia and her husband
and infant, Mignon and Blanche, Old Blobbs and Mrs. Blobbs and myself.

We were all very thankful, although in divers ways. Boosey was
thankful that he had had enough to eat, and that Celeste had got
out of the Sorosis; while Celeste was thankful that Boosey had got
through the dinner safely and soberly, and had brought her home a
new hat the night before. Aurelia and Mr. Peplum were thankful for a
small stranger, who dropped in upon them a few weeks since, spoken
of above as the infant, and commonly reputed in our set to be the
handsomest and smartest baby that has had the bad luck to be born
into this world of fleeting show. Mignon was thankful that in these
silent days of the year, there is so much beauty left, and Blanche
was as thankful as a bobolink on a spray for all good things. Old
Blobbs was thankful Mrs. Blobbs had omitted her customary morning
lecture, and Mrs. Blobbs was thankful that Old Blobbs had managed to
get through his dinner without saying any disagreeable things.

As for myself, I was thankful that I was not obliged to be thankful
again for a year. It is hard upon a man to be thankful on the basis
of turkey in various culinary stages. I have not the slightest doubt
one can be thankful to Divine Providence, Who has vouchsafed, etc.,
from the depths of his stomach, and can measure his gratitude by the
pile of bones on his platter, but it involves dyspeptic possibilities
which are fearful to contemplate, and in point of thankfulness leaves
a man nowhere in comparison with a hog.

I must acknowledge, further, that it is difficult for me to see the
connection between bountiful harvests, and let us have peace, and
the mastication of turkey. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace, but there
is no peace after a Thanksgiving dinner. One might eat a bald eagle
and grow patriotic, or a goose and obtain wisdom; but why the turkey
should be singled out as the emblem of gratitude, and why we should
be called upon to express that gratitude by filling ourselves to the
brim with the self-conceited coxcomb of the barn-yard, passes my
comprehension. It seems to me that we mistake gluttony for gratitude,
and that in the immensity of our gratitude we are killing off turkeys
at a rate which must be highly unsatisfactory to the gobblers, who
are most interested in the matter. If we are to be thankful by
wholesale in this manner on Thanksgiving, why not carry the same
principle into our retail gratitude? For instance, if Potter Palmer
should come to me and say: "My dear boy, I have no further use for
that shanty on the corner of State and Washington streets; take it,"
I might go at once and eat an oyster stew as a token of my gratitude,
and if he should throw in that man and a brother with the horizontal
coat-tails, I might go one better also, and eat half a dozen raw.
When Blanche sends Mignon a little token of love and esteem, Mignon
might eat a Charlotte Russe as a proof of her gratitude, and range
from a Russe up to a moderate lunch, according to the value of the
gift. Gifts of pocket-handkerchiefs could be paid for by eating a
pickle, embroideries in Berlin wool might range as high as a chicken
wing, a volume of Tupper be atoned for by a boiled onion; while, to
express my thanks for a corner lot with a full furnished house on it,
I would risk a moderately-filled dish of pork and cabbage.

I haven't much confidence in that gratitude which strikes to a man's
stomach, or that sense of thankfulness which can only be expressed
_via_ the stomach.

This was not what we talked about when we got into the parlor, but
we undoubtedly should have discussed this topic had not Old Blobbs
suddenly broken out on his favorite theory that the world was wrong
side up. He does not believe in the present arrangement of things at
all, and I sometimes think he is more than half right. Aurelia, Mr.
Peplum and the little one were in a corner together, making a very
cozy-looking trio; Celeste and Boosey were just about to commence a
game of backgammon; Blanche was at the piano, listlessly running her
white fingers over the keys, as if she were trying to recall some old
melody which had been lost among them in departed days; Mignon sat in
the window just under the parlor ivy, which seemed to be trying to
reach down to her with its graceful curves as to something akin to it
in grace and beauty, when Old Blobbs suddenly broke out: "If I had
the management of this world, things would change places. Nothing is
in its right place."

"And how would you change them, my dear Blobbs?" said I.

"Change them!" said he. "If I could arrange men and things as
they ought to be, you would see some very poor men living in very
handsome houses, and some very rich men uncertain where they would
get their next meal. You would see some parishioners in the pulpit
and some preachers in the pews. You would see some car horses on the
front platform and some drivers harnessed to the pole. You would
see some men running down the street with tin kettles tied to their
tails, and some dogs looking on approvingly. You would see my Lady
So-and-So, who can go to the opera every night quite brave in her
laces, and diamonds, and head-gear, with no more comprehension of,
or care for, what is going on than a cow has of true and undefiled
religion, change place with some poor soul to whom music comes full
of consolation, and rest, and sympathy, and who cannot go at all.
Yes, sir," said Old Blobbs, reddening with rage, "the whole world is
wrong, all wrong. Incompetence stands in the shoes of competence. The
weak go to the wall. Dishonesty comes out ahead. Brass passes for
gold, and tin for silver. One paltry dollar will go further and make
more knees bend than all the concentrated honesty and decency of the
world since Adam delved and Eve spun. _Vive la humbug!_ The kettles
and pots go swimming down the stream because they are empty. A piece
of pure, solid metal, no matter how small, goes to the bottom."

"But," said I, "the world keeps turning round, and some day the
right must come uppermost."

Blobbs admitted that, but added: "What is the use of a man's coming
uppermost a century or two after he is dead, when there is nothing
left of him but a bone here and there, and, perhaps, nothing but a
handful of dirt, to enjoy the sensation? Why not have the world so
arranged that a decent man may, now and then, see some inducement to
continue decent, and that real merit may find its recompense without
being obliged to attain it through quackery, or enjoy it as a blessed
ghost, two or three hundred years from now?"

And all the time Blobbs was delivering his little speech, Blanche was
still hunting for the lost melody on the keys, and the ivy was still
trying to put its pretty green arms around Mignon's neck, and Celeste
was throwing double-sixes with Boosey, and Aurelia was playing with
that wonderful baby.

     November 28, 1868.



_MRS. GRUNDY._


Let me whisper in your ear and tell you that Mrs. Grundy is a humbug.
I think it would be the most blessed thing that could happen in this
vale of tears if Mrs. Grundy should die. What a relief it would be to
all of us! Existence would be a boon instead of a bore.

While Mrs. Grundy lives, every man and woman is an arrant hypocrite.
While that fearful woman stands looking at us, every man and woman
is an arrant coward. We flatter ourselves, or attempt to flatter
ourselves--for there is not a man or woman who really believes
it--that we are saying and doing things from principle, when in
reality we are saying and doing them because Mrs. Grundy, in the
shape of our next door neighbor, is looking at us and talking about
us. You and I go to church and sit through services which may be
the essence of stupidity, and we put on serious faces, and sit very
primly, and regard our mortal enemy in the next slip with a lenient
face, and pretend to listen to Dr. Creamcheese's commonplaces, and go
out very solemnly--and all because Mrs. Grundy is looking at us from
every direction, and when we get home, out of Mrs. Grundy's sight,
we are ourselves again. We go through the formalities of a fast,
and rigidly abstain from the good things while Mrs. Grundy's eyes
are upon us, but the moment they are removed, we go into the larder
and indulge in the best it affords. Celeste meets with another Dear
Creature and lavishes all her affections upon her, when she does not
care a snap of her pretty little finger about her, merely because
Mrs. Grundy is looking at her. We are all of us, every day of our
lives, going through with tedious conventionalities, which we know
are conventionalities, which we do not believe in, merely because
that woman Grundy is looking at us. She makes us hypocrites in every
function of life. Thackeray struck Mrs. Grundy a blow in the face
when he drew with his satirical and powerful pencil Louis XI. in his
royal robes and Louis XI. in _puris naturalibus_. In one picture we
saw Louis XI. in the light of Mrs. Grundy. In the other we saw him as
himself. We wear a double suit; one which we know is a lie, for the
world; the other, which we know is the truth, for ourselves.

The world will get very near to the millenium when Mrs. Grundy dies.
Until that time the lion and the lamb will not lie down together. If
they do, the lion will try to convince himself that he is a lamb,
although he is aching to breakfast on him, and the lamb will try to
convince himself _he_ is a lion.

     November 30, 1867.



_BEHIND THE SCENES._


So few people have any definite idea of the stage behind the scenes,
or of the little busy world that congregates there nightly, in the
production of a great spectacle like "Undine," requiring all the
resources of music, scenery, the drama and the ballet, that, a few
evenings since, I conceived it to be my duty to expose myself to
demoralization for the public good.

The great public in front of the curtain only see the beautiful
effects and the smooth movements, with no idea of the powers that are
in exercise and the hidden springs that set at work all this great
machinery. I shall not attempt to expose these secrets, but at the
same time hope to give you some conception of life on the stage.

Upon expressing my wish to the management to be demoralized for this
laudable purpose, they gave me their hearty approval, and on Tuesday
night, at half-past seven, I bade good-bye for a brief evening to the
great world outside, and passed within the realms of romance, clad in
double-proof mail of morality, invulnerable to the combined attacks
of naiads, coryphees and Amazons.

Has chaos come again? Will order ever come out of this wilderness of
scenes, ropes, weights, pulleys, calcium burners, step ladders, gauze
waters, tinseled cars, demon masks, gas tubes, sceptres, levers,
crowns, eccentric iron rods, goblets, the fabulous Rhine treasures,
tables, lounges, gongs and pistols? What secret charm is to resolve
all these into their proper places and make them fill their parts in
the production of grace and beauty?

There are few people visible on the stage. Two or three Amazons are
sitting on the banquet-table, discussing a question in political
economy, as to the relative profit of running sewing-machines and
making warlike marches under the Rhine. Two demons are engaged in a
friendly game of euchre on the Lurlei Berg, for the stage discipline
has not yet commenced. Undoubtedly, after they have accomplished
their unearthly mission, and the audience goes home, one of these
demons will enjoy stewed oysters and ale in the upper world at
the expense of the other. A coryphee is testing her pretty little
toes in Sir Hubert's skiff. The seneschal and a scene-shifter are
rehearsing Macbeth in the triumphal car which is shortly to ascend
to Heaven with Sir Hubert and Undine. There is, as yet, little life
on the stage, but it is very busy below in the dressing-rooms. The
last stitches are being made, the last touches of rouge--for even
the immortals use the same color that flushes the cheeks of Aurelia
and Celeste--are being put on. Sir Hubert is cursing his refractory
red tights. Undine is in despair over the loss of her crown, which
she will find on the stage in the possession of an Amazon, who is
strutting the boards for a brief minute as the Water Queen. Kuhleborn
is arraying himself in his spotted mail, and the large green-room
is swarming with naiads, fays and elves. The bell tinkles for the
orchestra. The call-boy rushes down the stairs and cries "All up and
dressed for the first act." His voice finds an echo above in the
prompter, who shouts "Clear the stage." How that stage was cleared
still remains a mystery to me. All the _disjecta membra_ are in
place. Outside you hear the overture, and now and then the buzz of
the audience; and an inquisitive coryphee, who has cautiously pulled
the curtain a trifle aside, informs me that it is a splendid house.
The prompter is at the first entrance. The gas man is at the wheels.
The property man is everywhere. The scene-shifters are in the wings.
Way up in the flies, in a wilderness of ropes, men are taking their
places. The calcium men are arranging their reflectors, which will
soon flood the stage with their powerful, rich light. The trap men
are at their stations. The banquet scene is set. Hubert, Baptiste,
the Pilgrim and the Knights are in the narrow space between it and
the curtain.

The Water Lily Ballet are in the wings on both sides, rattling away
in French and German, standing upon their toes, stretching their
limbs and preparing themselves for the dance. Westmael will have a
solo, but she looks dejected, faint and spiritless, and a racking
cough tells a sad story of the toil and weariness and excitement of
the ballet. She is sick to-night. Another leans her head against a
side-scene totally unmindful of what is going on in the physical
pain she is suffering. Still others look weary and sad-eyed, while
some are merry and voluble. But the great audience will know nothing
of the aches and pains, the weariness and suffering. The strong
will, the excitement and the rivalry will hide all this behind the
temporary smile and the coquetry and fascinations of the dance. The
ballet-master is hopping about from wing to wing with the proverbial
Gallic sprightliness, which will, before the evening is over, change
to utter distraction and tearing of hair at the possibility of a
_faux pas_ in the ballet or the total depravity of some leading
instruments in the orchestra, which will be tearing a rhythm to
tatters.

The orchestral prelude ceases. The stage manager casts his quick eye
over the stage and gives the word. The gas man turns on the light.
The bell tinkles and the curtain rises. While the banquet scene is
progressing, the frightful declivity of the Lurlei Berg goes into
position, and the gauzy waters of the Rhine are set, across which the
moon is sending a tinsel shimmer.

Undine hurries through the wing and mounts to the dizzy height of
the Lurlei Berg, in the meantime holding an animated conversation
with the young man below, who will gallantly help her down the sloat,
below the blue waters of the Rhine, to the Stalactite Cave, which a
score of busy hands are already preparing for her reception. A young
man in the opposite wing is preparing to play the invisible boatman
for Sir Hubert and Baptiste, while I quietly go to the bottom of the
Rhine by the down-stairs route, and anticipate the arrival of the
trio, who do not express any astonishment whatever at finding me
in the Naiad's home, but converse with each other very much in the
strain of ordinary mortals.

In the meantime, overhead, the Stalactite Cave is set, and I hear the
feet of the ballet dancers skimming over the floor. I get into the
outskirts of the Cave by means of the stairs again, meeting a mortal
on the way, eating a substantial Spitzenberg, and that Nemesis, the
call-boy, in search of some of the Immortals, to find the Water
Lily Ballet in full operation. There are no signs of weariness or
dejection now. Every face is full of expression. Every limb is posed
in elegance. There is pleasure for pain; smiles for dejection;
fascination for weariness; coquetry for listlessness; and the
Westmael, who looked so sad and weary, is flashing across the stage
like a will o' the wisp, compelling, with her wonderful steps upon
her toes, her pirouettes and postures, round upon round of applause
from the audience, which comes to me behind the scenes like the
pattering of rain upon the shingles, what time her rival, Venturola,
already dressed for her solo in the Fish Ballet of the next act, is
standing near me, closely scrutinizing, with her keen black eyes and
nervous manner, every step of her great rival. Westmael comes off,
panting like a deer in the chase. All the smiles and fascinations
have gone, and in their place the weariness and sadness return to her
face, and even Venturola regards her with pity, and the other dancers
speak to her in low tones. She passes slowly, almost feebly, to her
dressing-room, dropping the bouquet upon the floor which a frantic
young man in front, with crimson face, has tossed to her.

Will it comfort that frantic young man to know that an Amazon picks
up the emblem of his devotion at the shrine of Terpsichore, and that
she will probably convey it to her home on Archer Avenue, where it
will waste its sweetness on the desert air? I would not ruthlessly
turn iconoclast to his aspirations by intimating that all his
bouquets have gone to Amazonian abodes on that avenue. I would let
him down easily from the heights of aspiration and the stars of
devotion to the depths of content and the earth of common regard. His
bouquet has helped to swell the triumph, to set the seal of success.
That ends its little mission. It will hardly be preserved in wax for
an eternity of memory. Its delicate beauty will not long survive in
the warlike abodes of the Amazons.

But the ballet is over, and Undine and the good Knight, Sir Hubert,
mount the triumphal car, which has just arrived from the bottom of
the Rhine, and commence going to Heaven, with which ascent the men in
the wilderness of ropes, up in the roof-tree, have some mysterious
connection. The audience desiring a second view, the vehicle kindly
pauses in its upward flight for a minute, and the curtain falls.

For the information of the audience, I am warranted in stating that
they did not get to Heaven, as I was on the Lurlei Berg when they
descended, and have reason to know that both Undine and Sir Hubert
went by the down-stairs route to the bottom of the Rhine again, to
make ready for another act, what time the Nemesis of a call-boy shall
make his appearance among the Immortals and summon them again to
their work.

While John Henry in the audience steps out to see a man; while Young
Boosey is telling Celestina his experiences at the _Biche au Bois_,
in Paris; while the newly-married couple from Kankakee, who have
never done the ballet before, are discussing its propriety, and the
policy of not mentioning it to the old folks, the orchestra has drawn
itself into its room, as a turtle draws its head into its shell, and
proceeds immediately to beer.

If there is one part of the music which the orchestra can execute
better than another, it is the moistening of the whistle. To an
unbiased observer, the amount of beer which the trombone and
double-bass, for instance, can absorb is simply remarkable, while
the quantity which the small first violins and piccolo can hold,
is appalling to the aforesaid unbiased observer, but calculated to
induce cheerfulness on the part of heavy brewers and a sense of
gratitude to the makers of that class of porous instruments.

The Lurlei Berg with its dangerous descent, the boat practical and
all that part of the country about the Rhine is put out of the way
for the evening, for in the next act we shall all be at the bottom
of the Rhine, among the fish, who are now arraying themselves for
the dance, in spangles and scaly armor of gold and silver. Meantime
the call-boy is sent up for Undine and the gas-man for Sir Hubert,
and the demons are rehearsing at them. A mild young man with whom
I was talking on the Lurlei Berg, a few minutes ago, as we stood
together and watched the moonlight wavering in the ripples of the
Rhine, who might from his looks have been one of those good young men
who die early, is in the infuriated crowd, with a nugget of silver
for a head, nondescript raiment on his body, and a huge club in hand
rushing wildly towards me and looking like an exaggerated type of the
Jibbenainosay.

Which is only another mournful instance of the truth of the remark
that "things are not what they seem."

In the middle of the stage, exposed to the view of all, at the bottom
of the Rhine, are fabulous piles of gold, silver and jewels, heaped
up on a table, and carelessly left without any watchman. The amount
and value of these treasures I would not like to estimate, nor the
temptation which I experienced to appropriate a solitary jewel, which
might have made my fortune when I returned to the upper earth. As I
am meditating on the expediency of it, two ruffianly looking demons
of the most hideous description mount the table and significantly
lean upon their clubs, as if inviting somebody to try it on. One of
them glances at me, and I decline the experiment.

John Henry having seen his man, and the orchestra having returned
from their beer, the scenery being in readiness, and the ubiquitous
call-boy having again summoned the fish and other people to be up
for the second act, the wings are full of fish. That little wasp,
Venturola, is to have a solo, and that there may not be anything to
offend her dainty feet, she seizes the broom and sweeps the bottom of
the Rhine clear of all obstructions, for she is going to try to outdo
Westmael to-night. The curtain rises, and my friends, the demons,
have the stage. Kuhleborn, like a shot from a cannon ball, flies
up through the star trap. Had there been a slight variation in the
working of the nice machinery of the trap, poor Kuhleborn's brains
would have been dashed out by the heavy counter-weights, which, in
their descent, force him up; but the working is so well graduated
that Kuhleborn is in no danger of injury, save from the apices of
the triangular sections of the trap, which upon every exit manage to
take off a small piece of his nose, whereupon, being a demon, he is
excusable for indulging in slight expletives, such as are used by
the Rhine demons. As the square trap, through which he shuts himself
up like a jack-knife and disappears, also manages to take off a small
piece of his back and shoulders, it would prove an interesting study
to calculate how much of Kuhleborn will be left at the expiration of
the allotted six weeks.

The preliminary scene over, the Fish Ballet commences. This is
Venturola's opportunity. A little more resin on her pretty feet. A
little impatiently she waves aside the Amazons and Naiads, who have
congregated in her wing to see the dance, and bounds upon the stage
like a ball hot from the striker, amid the applause of the audience.
But not even her own fine effort, nor the graceful posturing of the
coryphees, nor the acrobatic and unique dancing of Kuhleborn, in his
oil-cloth fish-skin, secure for her an encore. She does not even get
a bouquet.

Frantic young man! Where were you at this critical moment?

She comes off the stage, and there is a snapping of those black eyes
as she brushes through the crowd down stairs to her dressing-room and
slams the door. Westmael must look out for her laurels in the grand
ballet of the next act, when the solo tests come.

I pass to the grand ballet. The stage is full of the Amazons and
coryphees, and all the premiers are in the wings, Westmael looking
sadder and more weary than ever; Venturola full of determination and
talking chain-lightning at the ballet master; Fontana quietly walking
about, and now and then rising on her toes; Mazzeri, Adrian, Oberti,
Negri and Guerrero, all anxious, for thunderbolts have fallen ere
this out of the clear sky, and who knows but one of them may get an
encore? Little Schlager has already had her encore and gone off the
stage with an approving pat on the head from the ballet-master, with
her mother's face beaming with satisfaction, and her own lit up with
triumph. Encore is the magic word which incites them all.

The ballet is drawing to a close. Only Venturola and Westmael are
left. Venturola has outdone herself, and her fine _diminuendo_ whirl
has gained for her not only a bouquet but the coveted encore. She
is satisfied, and in her nervous manner she chatters French, German
and English to everybody. The familiar music of Westmael's brief
closing solo strikes up. She is standing, as at the first, quietly in
the wing. She has paid no attention to the dance. By a stranger she
would have been taken only for a listless observer. She is evidently
in pain and very sick to-night, and the hard, dry cough grates upon
the ear, but at the first bar of the music her face lights up and
she springs upon the stage with no trace of trouble. Every movement
is perfect, from the dainty, spirited, bold walk upon the toes to
the final pose, and there is no mistaking the encore that follows.
The encore does not seem to have any charm for her to-night, but
the audience compel it, and by a tremendous effort of the will
she repeats. I say by a tremendous effort, for as she returns she
instantly relapses into her old state. Her breath comes and goes
spasmodically and her chest is thumping as if a sledge-hammer were
at work within it. She staggers along a few steps and faints, and
pitying hands carry her to her room. To-morrow night she will be
herself again, but to-night it has been a burden.

It would not be proper for me to disclose the workings of the last,
or Transformation Scene; and if it were, I would not strip off the
romance, grace and beauty that surround and pervade it. I can only
admire the skill, taste and knowledge of effects--the genius which
with the slightest of materials can produce an illusion so brilliant
and captivating, both to the eye and ear. It requires a genius akin
to that of the best worker in oils, and a taste and imagination of
the highest order.

The calcium lights are extinguished. The colored fires have burned
down. The prompter closes his book. The figures of the tableaux
descend from their graceful but uncomfortable positions. The property
man is looking after his properties. The manager is thanking "you,
ladies, very well done." The lights are turned off. Rhine land and
Rhine River vanish, and I leave the stage for this upper world.

     December 14, 1867.



_A CHRISTMAS CAROL._


In the year 1 of our blessed Lord, a carpenter came with his wife to
Bethlehem to pay his taxes, and it is to be hoped he did not have to
shut his eyes and grit his teeth as I did when I paid mine in the
year 1867 of our blessed Lord.

If the taxes at Bethlehem were on the scale of the taxes at Chicago,
it is no wonder that the carpenter and his wife lodged in a stable.

On that night a Child was born among the cattle, and the angels
opened the doors of Heaven and flooded the whole Bethlehem Plain with
music, what time the shepherds leaned upon their staves to listen,
and the sheep knelt down upon their knees in adoration. And wise,
long-bearded Magi of the Orient came upon their camels, bearing gifts
with them and following the star which never tarried until it stood
over the young Child.

And from that Christmas to this Christmas, do I solemnly believe,
that on each recurrence of the birthday of our blessed Lord, the
angels open wide the doors of Heaven and smile upon each young child,
and that some star still stands over each young child to guide Santa
Claus on his beautiful errand.

Now I know that old Midas, who never had an aspiration of soul that
soared higher than a quintal of codfish, nor an imagination that was
not regularly ruled and indexed with a Dr. on one side, and a Cr. on
the other, and a $ all over it; and that Mrs. Midas, whose theory
of life is bounded by a bonnet-string and colored with the latest
Bismarck shade, will shrug shoulders at the idea. And well they may,
for I think it exceedingly doubtful whether the smallest star in
the canopy would find it worth while to stand over either of them.
And yet do I believe that there are choice spirits over whom a star
stands, raining down blessed influences and ever bringing them closer
together.

And thus the first Christmas was celebrated in that Bethlehem stable
one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven years ago, and when it
was over, the carpenter took his tax receipt, unvexed by special
assessments for lamp posts, Nicolson pavements, plank sidewalks,
etc., and went on his way rejoicing.

It seems to me, furthermore, that I hang up my stocking--that
stocking which all the rest of the year has held only a foot, terror
to shoemakers, and a bunion worthy its namesake, the immortal
Tinker--on the most beautiful day of the year. It comes set like a
jewel in the very heart of winter; when all nature is at rest; when
the days are shortest and the nights are darkest; when every bird is
silent upon the hillside; when no leaf is green but the holly, and
the ivy, and the winter-green; when the weather is bleakest without
but cheeriest within; when the storms sweep through the streets and
the house-fires glow ruddiest on the hearths; when the grayest sky is
made bright by Santa Claus, Kriss Kringle and the Christ-Kindchen;
and Christmas-tide runs joyfully with wassail and taper-lighted
tree, and song and dance. New Year has come to be hedged in by
fashion. Fourth of July is a matter of buncombe. Thanksgiving is dear
to the stomach. But Christmas is the day of all days--the best and
the brightest of the year.

I would like to be a little child, or an old woman, it matters
little which, to really enjoy Christmas. I would like to have back
all the angles which friction with the world has rubbed off, and to
thoroughly believe in the existence of that Laplander who drives his
team of reindeer athwart the housetops, tethers them to the chimneys,
and fills up the small stockings on the bed-posts; and to stand
before a Christmas tree under the firm conviction that there never
was anything so beautiful in the world before.

Or I would like to be an old woman, to sit, with my feet to the
fire, in the arm-chair, with my best cap on, and just one gray curl
escaping from it--that identical curl which played the deuce with
gouty, rheumatic, splenetic, dear old John Anderson, in the chair
opposite, half a century ago, when we were the pride of the whole
country-side; with not a single wrinkle on my smooth face; with my
silk gown on, which will stand alone; with my flock of children,
and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren trooping about me;
with blessed memories of a long and well-spent life: with tender
recollections of eighty Christmases, dead and under the snow, whose
ghosts flit by me in the ashes; with the beautiful privilege of
extending my hands over the young heads and blessing them, as the
Lord Christ stretches his hands in benediction over the earth each
Christmas, and confers upon it the gift of his grace.

Even the crisp brown goose, smoking upon the platter, down whose
streaming sides the little rivulets of rich gravy are trickling, his
breast bursting with all savory essences, happy in his side pieces
and doubly blessed in his second joints, is to be congratulated
on his culinary canonization. The bald eagle, flying from the
Atlantic to the Pacific, gazing at the sun because it don't hurt
him a particle, and stealing chickens and other small deer from
the barnyards; and the strutting turkey of Thanksgiving, with his
shrivelled, chippy breast and stringy legs, are unworthy of mention
by the side of the Christmas goose. Is it not well worth the while
of any feathered biped to be a fool through life, the scoff and
scorn of dogs and men, if haply he may achieve an apotheosis like
that of the Christmas goose? He dies that we may dine. He dies in
the flesh to resurrect in the oven. He passes from mortal sight to
reappear in _pate de foie gras_. He gives his head cheerfully to
the block that his body may be the crowning glory and the holocaust
of Christmas-tide. His life, homely and foolish as it is, is not
altogether in vain. How many of us bipeds without feathers may lay
claim to the same merits?

If there is a sad spot in all the earth, on Christmas morning, it
must be the house where there are no children; over which no star
stops; in which there is no small stocking to be filled; in which no
juvenile carnival will be celebrated. The giving of gifts is one of
the most blessed privileges of the day. Blessed, too, on that day, is
the bachelor uncle or brother, who can confer gifts upon the little
ones, and thrice blessed the good sister of every neighborhood, who
makes glad so many little hearts. If there is a wretched person on
earth, it must be the man who can't or won't make a Christmas gift.

And, in all our Christmas giving, let us remember this, that under
many roofs no Christmas-tree will blaze, and on many hearths the
ashes will be gray and cold; that in many homes the voice of the
angel, proclaiming the Bethlehem message, "Peace on earth, and good
will to men," will be silenced by the wolf at the door; that many
little feet will be cold upon the pavement, wandering about in quest
of food; that many little eyes will peer into the windows and wonder
at the strange sights and sounds; that poverty, hunger and despair
will be the only visitants at many firesides in this Christian land
of ours, filled with feasting and plenty. Let us therefore in all
our giving remember that "the greatest of these is charity." Let us
remember that the abodes of poverty are doubly dear to us on this
day of all the year. Let us cheer them with our bounty, and vivify
them with words of joy and hope. Let us make our star stand over
these homes. Let us remember the poor, for the first Christmas was
celebrated in a stable among the cattle, and the Christ-child was
born in a manger, for the carpenter and his wife, who came down to
pay taxes, were very poor.

My carol would not be closed without my Christmas wishes. And
therefore a merry Christmas-tide to all gentle people, and a blotting
out of all enmities on Christmas morn. A merry Christmas to all,
saints and sinners. A merry Christmas to Aurelia and Celeste basking
in the sunshine, and to Bridget in the shade. A merry Christmas to my
enemy, whom I forgive, and to my friend, in whose heart I live. A
merry Christmas to all children whose little lips will syllable the
sweet utterances of childhood. A merry Christmas to the homeless, and
the outcasts, and the Pariahs--God help them. A merry Christmas to my
creditors, and many returns of the same. A merry Christmas and a full
wassail bowl to all good fellows. A merry Christmas to the TRIBUNE
and all its readers, and, Mr. Editor, a merry Christmas to you upon
your tripod, and may your stockings be well filled.

And "Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, and good will to
men."

     December 25, 1867.



_THE NEW YEAR._


The closing of the year offers some epistolary temptations which it
is hard to resist. One fiend says "write;" the other says "don't."

One fiend shows me the admirable things I might say, as, for
instance: The old man going out sadly, and the young man coming in
gleefully. This, done up with allusions to biers and shrouds and
angels and roses, would be a stunner.

Again, I could make a strong point out of the hour-glass, with the
grains of sand slipping through, skilfully keeping up the interest
until I got to the last grain, which I could manipulate up to a
thrilling denouement.

And then what a touching picture I might draw of 1867 frozen on
his bier, his crown tumbled off and his sceptre broken; and what a
bacchanalian revelry I might paint in introducing the birth of 1868.

And again, I might draw a strong draft on the tears of tender readers
by recalling recollections of the Old year and casting the horoscope
of the New.

And think of the magnificent material I might have to use in doing
all this: the dark shores of Eternity, the waves of Styx, old Charon,
all the cheerful paraphernalia of the undertaker, and the appliances
of the _accoucheur_, which would form the _piece de resistance_, not
to speak of the garnitures of regrets, tears, sighs, resolutions,
prophesies, flowers, cherubs, broken harp-strings and other
properties which might be mixed in indiscriminately, and with a sort
of blue-fire effect, which would be telling.

And as there is nothing else to write about, it shows that I have a
good deal of moral courage when I solemnly assert that I am not going
to say a word about them.

For, _cui bono_?

The world will continue to turn on its axis every twenty-four hours.
Old Midas will continue to crust his soul over with $ marks, until
he gets them on so thickly that he won't be able to give an account
of himself on the Day of Judgment, without referring to his ledger
or sending for his confidential clerk. Mrs. Midas will go on saying
ungracious things about her next-door neighbor, who can "see" her
bonnet and go ten dollars better every time. Celeste will continue
to distract her pretty little empty head in solving the problem
of a new bias. Aurelia and Mr. Peplum will continue to have their
little differences over the muffins, which will begin to abate with
the soup, and disappear in a torrent of regrets over the mediatory
Souchong. Railroads will continue to cook people alive without a pang
of remorse. Men and women will continue to air their dirty linen
and haul each other through the mud of the divorce courts, under
the insane idea that other people will be interested in their small
vices, just as if other people hadn't any of their own which were
just as interesting.

The coming year will be very like the going year, and thus the world
will keep going round the sun for us, until the Great Manager sends
the call-boy to summon us up for the last act. We shall then make our
parting bow--pray God, all of us like gentlemen, and the curtain will
come down.

But because our little stage grows suddenly dark, it does not follow
that the great audience in front of the curtain will break up and
go home, or that other actors will not play their parts on the same
grand stage of life.

And a hundred years hence it is not altogether improbable that our
little ant-hill, over which we have made such a fuss, and up and
down which we have paraded so often, and on which we have expended
so much effort to make it larger than the next hill, will be utterly
forgotten; and that, in those far-off days, we may be blowing down
Clark street on some fine, breezy, spring day, or sold in the form of
cabbage from some itinerant Teuton's cart; or, if we have been good
children, that we may be blossoming in a daisy, or looking out of the
blue eyes of a violet at the great, white, lying slab close by, in a
maze of wonder at the saints we were a hundred years ago.

You see all these things are to be considered in deciding whether to
say anything about New Year's. And as I have before stated that I am
not going to say anything about it, this relieves me from alluding to
New Year's calls.

Because if I were to say anything about them I should have to
hurt the feelings of the Dear Creatures. It would be unkind, for
instance, to go to work deliberately and catalogue Aurelia's callers;
Old Gunnybags, who carries into effect his business regulations,
atoning on that day, by wholesale, his little retail visiting sins
of the year; the bashful young man who remarks that it is a very
fine day to-day, that it was remarkable weather yesterday, and
that he shouldn't be surprised at pleasant weather to-morrow; and
who, having fired off his little speech, falls back in good order
to the refreshments; the mental leisure which Titmouse enjoys, who
does a smashing day's business on a small capital by establishing a
reputation for wit in three hundred families, upon whom he has palmed
off the same brilliant remarks, the same carefully drawn out repartee
and the same conundrum; the young man of florid complexion and rather
heavy build, who makes the duration of his call conditional upon the
character of refreshments, and who will not fail to mention your
sins of omission to Mrs. Brown, next door, who has spread herself on
London sherry and boned turkey; the bore who never calls but once a
year, and then tries to become a permanent boarder; the nuisance whom
you never saw before and never want to see again; old Deacon Glum,
who tenderly inquires after your soul, in a business sort of way
remarks on the brevity of time, and throws in a lot of those pretty
metaphors which I threw out at the commencement of this letter; young
FitzHenry, who has a wine supper for six wagered that he will do his
four hundred calls before six o'clock, and is now on his last heat;
that fellow Boodle, with the long nose and little eyes, who is making
up a collection of small gossip which he will dish up for the next
six months. It would be unfair to catalogue all these nice people,
and I will spare Aurelia's feelings by refusing to do it.

Neither do I propose on this occasion to allude to the astounding
number of resolutions which I make on the first day of the year and
break regularly before I reach the second week of January. If I have
one faculty better developed than another, it is that of making and
breaking resolutions. Didn't I firmly resolve the first of last
January that I would be very temperate in the use of the King's
English for the space of three hundred and sixty-five days? And when
two hours later I slipped down on the sidewalk, and in the operation
sat down on my new hat and looked up to see a thoughtless young man
laughing at me, didn't I break that resolution and address some
remarks to that thoughtless young man which were rather more emphatic
than elegant?

I fancy I did.

Equally when I was a little boy did I not resolve one New Year's Day
that I would keep the whole Ten Commandments, and was I not caught
in the preserve closet the same day and subjected to a degree of
corporal punishment which made me break nearly all the rest of them
before night?

I never saw but one person who succeeded in keeping a New Year's
resolution, and he had pined away so rapidly in his physical and
grown so abnormally in his moral man, that it was really painful to
look at him. He was the nearest approach to an angel on half rations
I ever expect to see. A good meal would have made him sick, but I
really believe he would have bolted at one gulp the entire nine tons
of tracts which some New York individual has kindly forwarded to the
Young Men's Christian Association.

I cannot but admire the theological cheek of this man. His brass is
of no ordinary description. It is sonorous, stately, magnificent.
Nine tons of tracts! Twenty thousand one hundred and sixty pounds of
appeal to the ungodly! Three hundred and twenty-two thousand five
hundred and sixty ounces of the essence of doctrine! About thirty
miles of grace!

     December 28, 1867.



_OLE BULL._


My last recollection of Farwell Hall is connected with a tall,
graceful, sweet-faced old man, his head lovingly bending over a
violin that old Stradivarius made centuries ago, his eyes closed,
transfigured in a vision of music, until he seemed to me to wear the
face that Beethoven, the Master, might have worn. In his hands the
dull wood was again in life. It was part of an organism, and it told
the old man of the rustle of leaves in the summer gales; of the songs
of birds in the branches; of the brawling waters of the brooks that
moistened the roots; of the rude winds that smote the tree on Italian
hills; of the star that looked down upon it in delicious Italian
nights; of the vernal thrill, the summer glow, the autumnal decay,
and the wintry death in life--the great miracle which Nature performs
for us each year; and the old man interpreted it in bewitching
strains to some who gave themselves up to the spell and were drawn
nearer together by the sympathy which music produces, to some who
heard the sound and not the soul, and to some who heard neither, in
the sound of their own small gabble.

And the next day, when a heap of smoking bricks, and charred beams,
and twisted iron was all that was left of the beautiful hall, it
seemed to me that I had met with an irreparable loss--that some
friend had suddenly vanished.

     January 11, 1868.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the most charmingly chatty things Leigh Hunt ever wrote was
his "Earth Upon Heaven," in which he imagined himself following out
his earthly occupations in the upper world; dining with all the good
fellows of past ages; reading new plays of Shakspeare and new novels
of Scott; eating sugar that was not sanded, and drinking milk from
celestial cows in the Milky Way.

It is to be hoped the earthly concert nuisances will be abated there
also, and that we may hope to hear the Malibrans and the Linds,
Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Bach and Gluck in new and diviner
symphonies and songs (think of that!), without being annoyed by a
garrulous angel behind us commenting on the cut of this angel's
wings, the color of that angel's feathers, and the awkward manner in
which some other angel flies to her seat, and the dreadfully stupid
way in which young Highflier sat down upon Blanche's wings. It would
be horrible to think of an eternity of music with an eternity of
nuisance.

     Ibid.



_SMALL TALK._


There are two kinds of small talk--one which is very silly, and when
it does not run to twaddle, takes the worse form of slander and cruel
gossip. These two phases are not inconsistent with each other, for it
takes a very silly person to be a good gossiper. The greater amount
of nonsense that a woman can talk to your face, the worse will be the
gossip that she will talk behind you. Her wits may be very small in
one direction, but they will be very sharp in the other.

The other kind of small talk is very delightful. It is chatty, sunny,
spicy and brilliant. It may not be as deep as the ocean, but is not a
little brook, singing over the pebbles, flashing in the sunlight, and
whispering pretty little stories it learned from the naiads in the
fountain where it was born, to the scarlet cardinals and golden-rods
that lean over to listen, just as delightful as the uncertain depths
of the ocean with dim suggestions of dirty sea-weed, slimy monsters,
ribs of argosies and dead men's bones? Is not the little brook
which can take the most distant star right into its heart, just as
beautiful as the heavy ocean into whose depths no star beam can
penetrate?

This kind of small talk is an eloquent art, and fortunate are
the favored few who have mastered it. It may commence with the
weather, which you discover is not threadbare, for it is the weather
which breaks the ice for you, and it runs from the weather to the
opera, from opera to music in general, from music to art, art to
books, and from books to men and women. Neat little criticisms;
characteristic observations; flashes of wit; pleasant satire which
never wounds--fragmentary yet always polished--superficial, perhaps,
yet here and there giving you indications of lower depths which
would be worth exploring at the proper time. These are the main
characteristics of accomplished small talk.

This species of small talk can only exist between the opposite sexes.
Between women, small talk becomes silly or it runs to confidences.
In the one case it is soon exhausted, in the other it is vulgarly
supposed to be eternal; and the amount of smothered grief, of
heart-rending woe, of poignant anguish, of amorous doubts, of
Sphynx-like mysteries, of secret grief which cannot be whispered even
to her pillow, which one young woman will confide to four hundred
other young women, is only equalled by the rapidity with which the
latter will dispossess themselves of _les confidences_ and the
fertile imagination which will clothe them entirely new even before
they are divulged for the second time.

Between men, small talk is simply idiotic.

You pass an evening with Serafina, and you get only simpers and
syllabubs. She will not give you the ghost of a thought, although her
tongue has been running like a mill-clapper for two mortal hours.
She will run the whole gamut of talk, and you shall never once get a
taste of the amber wine beneath the foam.

_Per contra_, in an evening with Blanche, she will dive like a
humming bird into every flower, sweet or bitter, beautiful or ugly,
and extract honey from each. She does not linger long on anything.
She does not go too deep to be tiresome, and yet you are aware
that she would lead you a terrible chase into the real if you gave
the word. With that infinite tact which no one but a clever woman
possesses, she will draw you out and give you cues for conversation
without your ever dreaming of it. If you have a hobby, she will
quietly saddle it and help you to mount, and spur it up to a rattling
pace with little ingenuous confessions of ignorance, and implied
flatteries which show you at once your superiority over the rest of
mankind; and she will take you off your hobby and turn him out to
grass so gracefully that you will be thoroughly satisfied with your
ride. She will read you a charming little homily on her gold cross,
which "Jews might kiss or infidels adore," and she will lead you
with that narrow edge of lace around her pretty throat, which a rude
breath might dissipate, through meadows of talk, where every flower
is "a thing of beauty" and "a joy forever."

But to effectually do this, she must have no hobbies, and she must
assume an ignorance if she have it not. Ignorance is one of the
strongest weapons in the female armory, and if the small talk assumes
the form of an argument, a graceful yielding, especially if one is
obstinate, is also politic.

     January 18, 1868.



_FLAT ON THE BACK._


I write to you to-day with a sugar-coated pill and a small bottle of
suspicious-looking fluid, which Æsculapius has designated with the
cabalistic abbreviations "_Aq. Cret. Rhu. Pulv. 2 jiii_," between
myself and the delirious chaos of fever.

My surroundings are not of a character to induce extravagant
cheerfulness, or to resolve a very decided precipitate out of the
mixture of virtue and necessity--a severely chemico-moral test I have
been working at for the past three days.

I think a man might dig into a cucumber for sunbeams or a mushroom
for moonlight, with better chances of success, than I shall have in
attempting to extract humor from the scanty material at hand, viz:
Several wet towels, ice water, a mustard plaster, sundry hot bricks,
pills, potions and lotions _ad libitum_, and a small piece of toasted
cracker.

The last item is the connecting link between myself and the good
goddess Hygeia, and I regard it with an interest I never knew before,
considering the clutch with which Febris has seized me.

Thus, skirting along the shore of Febris, sufficiently near to catch
with full force the burning simooms which blow across its miasmatic
lands--near enough to burn from its equator and to freeze from its
poles, to feel its clamps and hooks, with which it is tugging at
bone and muscle, while the soul has gone visiting, and not even left
the Will at home to resist disease--near enough all night long, as
I sail in the darkness, to see the will-o'-the-wisps, and goblins,
and chimeras, the skeletons of dead fancies, the ghosts of dreams
and the realities of horror which are the only inhabitants of this
land over which Febris reigns--behind me the very bright light of
day, and before, only a very uncertain star--under a red-hot bed
quilt, flanked with a small drug store--the great world outside only
recognizable by a confused hum--isolated from complete sights and
sounds--I vegetate and moralize.

If one should feed luxuriously on almond paste and comfits all his
life, he would never appreciate the products of sour apple trees and
the extracts of much-maligned herbs. So also if one should forever
pursue the beaten track of good health, which is only the case in
perfection among buffaloes and Digger Indians, one would never know
the luxury and the blessing of being sick. We must have, now and
then, a cessation of the good to appreciate the bad.

I can conceive that it would be the height of wretchedness to be
compelled to live with a saint on earth. This world was not made for
saints, and those who have made the foolish attempt to be saints,
have wisely climbed pillars, gone into caves or wandered in deserts,
getting as far out of the world as possible. Those who have persisted
in being saints and remaining in the world, have usually been hanged
or burned by other saints.

Equally, the man who is always well, becomes a nuisance after a
time. His ruddy face hangs out a constant banner of presumptuous
defiance, and the only person who can conscientiously love him is a
life insurance agent. He never knows the soft ministrations of small
female hands, or the hygienic virtue in the hem of an old lady's
robe. Consequently his milk of human kindness is very apt to freeze
up. He can have but small sympathy, for no one can sympathize, who
has not learned sympathy by experience. At this present moment I
fairly burn with pity, and extend a red right hand of sympathy to
every man, woman and child, who has ever had a fever, who has a fever
now, or who is going to have a fever. In his great, strong animal
existence he goes crashing and smashing about like a whale among
minnows, with this difference--that the whale is bent upon legitimate
prey, while your healthy man is simply trying to show that he _is_ a
whale.

As who should say, "Here am I, Mr. Merryman, the great American
Healthist. Any lady or gentleman in the audience, wishing to show
liver, lights or lungs, will please step forward into the arena."

But, of course, there are compensations for all this. In the next
world our healthy friend will probably take twice as much punishment
as some of the poor devils who took half of theirs before they went
there.

A person whose wings have sprouted and grown, and who has become a
precocious angel in the prescribed three score and ten, is certainly
leaving a very narrow margin for angelic growth hereafter, and,
equally, a man who goes through his three score and ten without any
terrene ails, I fancy will need Hippocrates and Galen when he gets to
the other shore.

At least, so it seems to a man flat on his back.

  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Which stars are to be considered equivalent to the time consumed in
taking the sugar-coated pill before referred to, reminding one, in
its passage down the æsophagus, of the cathartic literature which St.
John swallowed, sweet above and bitter below.

Which recalls to me that the most of us are more or less
sugar-coated--sweet outside, but quite bitter, or quite sad, or quite
bad inside.

The partition between body and soul with some of us is so thin that
the light shines through easily.

Some of us, again, cover up our little sepulchres so thickly with
vines and roses, and fix such a laughing mask on the door, that we
pass for very Ariels, God help us!

While others of us still, living in ourselves, isolated from all
intimate relations, carry in our faces no sign of the toil and the
weariness and the struggle. It is all blank on the outside; on the
inside, it is isolation, death and expiation.

But, then, there are some of us who get our pills coated so badly
that a child wouldn't touch them. For instance, good Deacon Jones,
who slept all through Parson Primrose's sermon, and told Deacon
Brown, who didn't sleep, that the Parson's doctrine was correct;
Prof. Blather, who hitches himself to the tail of every high-flying
kite, hoping thereby to be brought before the popular eyes; old Mrs.
Peacock, who still persists in being young, making admirers, mincing
through her spavined paces, leering with her faded eyes out of that
painted face, when all Japonicadom knows there is not a genuine
feather about her. And so one might go on for hours, for the number
of these badly coated pills is legion.

At least, so it seems to a man flat on his back.

  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

More stars for the Doctor who has been to see me. He is a jolly,
sanguine dog, and assures me I shall be up in time for the opera--if
not for the whole season, at least that I shall have two days
off--one for Bellini's _Englishman_ and one for Hermanns' _Mephisto_.

What a blessing these jolly doctors are. They give one an invoice of
moral courage, wherewith to make a stout fight against disease. They
light up your room as beautifully as the sun this morning kindled my
frosty window-panes with burning gold. And my jolly doctor will not
take it unkindly of me if I say that I have more confidence in his
jolliness than in his cabalistic abbreviations.

On the other hand, I can conceive that if I were compelled to receive
the attentions of one of those solemn, owl-like doctors--those
funereal-looking personages in deep black, whose noses and chins
meet--who wear heavy canes, the knobs of which do heavy thinking for
the wearers--whose only remark is an ominous shake of the head, and
the preparation of a bill at the neighboring drug store--who have
made the very sunlight look mercurial, and who cut off the supply of
that delicious Muscat which Blanche sent in--I think, after one visit
from such a walking Bolus, I should say, with Elijah of old: "It
is enough; now let me die. You may call in your friend Sir." For I
should know that as soon as he came into the house Death would sneak
after him, and wait outside the door.

At least, so it seems to a man flat on his back.

  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Another night in the darkness, sailing along these shores of Febris,
and this crystal Saturday morning, it seems all bright and clear
ahead. I feel no more the breath of the burning gales, but in its
place an ecstasy of pain. My hand wearies and the head tires with
this trifling work which has run through three days of nullity.

At least, so it seems to a man flat on his back.

     January 31, 1868.



_GETTING OUT OF BED._


Getting out of bed is one of the little circumstances which shows
man in his abstract essence. He is then a pure animal with all
his instincts on the surface. There is no dignity in him then, no
majesty, no true religion, no concealment of his nature. In fact he
is worse off than the lower orders of the brute creation, as they
awake in the full plenitude of their life. A butterfly, which has
slept all night in a tulip, rises from his gorgeously curtained
couch just as beautiful as he is under the noonday sun, when he
lazily flutters among the languid roses. Man, when he rises, is a
fragmentary being and has to be set up piece by piece and arrayed in
his conventional garments before he can say good morning to the world.

There are various methods of getting out of bed. One man in a
thousand wakes up all over at once, kicks off his bedclothes and
bounds out of bed as Minerva bounded out of Jupiter's brain, armed
and equipped as the law directs. He never tasted lotus in his life.
He owns no real estate in Spain, but a good deal of outside city
property. He never saw the point of a joke in his life. He never
dreams. He is fiendishly healthy, and will, therefore, have much
to answer for in the next world. He has no idea of the _dolce far
niente_. If he has imagination, he clipped its wings long ago. A
_post mortem_ examination of his internal economy would reveal
nothing to speak of but columns of logarithms, interest tables and
bills of lading in his skull, a complete set of office furniture in
his stomach, and his abdominal canal crowded with cargoes of lumber
and perches of stone. And he is apt to forget to say his prayers.

There are men who get out of bed a little at a time. The first
symptoms of life are uneasy movements and a gentle rustling of the
bedclothes. Slowly one arm appears from under the coverlid, and
is thrown over the head. Then out comes another arm, disposed of
in a similar manner. His legs are uneasy. One eye opens in a very
uncertain manner and blinks, and the other opens and winks, and then
both blink and wink for some minutes. He then commences to uncoil
himself and straighten himself out. This is the stretching process.
He mutters to himself incoherent nothings. He tries to go to sleep
again, but the charm is broken. He yawns, and the process fairly
opens his eyes. He sneezes, and the grand currents of life are once
more in motion. One more stretch all over, and he accepts the hard
necessity of nature which condemns him to quit his lotus to feed on
hash, and he slowly gets out of bed as one utterly disgusted.

There is another class of men who always get out of bed over the
footboard, and are uncomfortable all day after it. Their idea of
happiness is realized in making somebody wretched, and they are
singularly fortunate in the realization of that idea. They are sour
in aspect and in disposition. No one has any rights they are bound
to respect. Mrs. Gilliflower and her daughter, who always come late
and go away early from the concerts, get out over the footboard. The
man who mistakes a horse car for a hog pen and acts accordingly,
although in some respects he is not much mistaken, gets out over
the footboard. The man who worries his butcher or his baker over an
insignificant trifle, and is too mean to have the snow shoveled off
his sidewalk; the man who makes his lady clerks stand on their feet
all day whether engaged or not; the woman who has a keen scent for
ferreting out other persons' foibles and attending to other persons'
business; the woman who is constantly lamenting over the wickedness
and follies of the times; the man whose clumsiness trips him over
and who then anathematizes an innocent curbstone; the man who raises
a domestic war every morning over a lost button which he ripped off
the night before, over an open window which he left open himself,
over the discovery of his boots under the bed, where he placed them
himself, over a dried up beefsteak which has been waiting an hour
for him; the man whose pious nose goes heavenward at the sight of
innocent pleasure, and who doesn't give his clerks time enough
for dinner; the man who is sour himself and sours everything he
touches--all these people get up over the footboard, and they won't
get up any other way. If the footboard was forty feet high they would
go over it with a step ladder, and curse every rung of it all the way
up.

Then, there are men who get up only half awake, and don't fairly wake
up until it is time to go to bed again. These are the unlucky ones,
against whom fate and nature have a grudge. In the grand lottery of
life they draw all the blanks. They usually receive all the broken
limbs and fractured legs. They have come within a hair's breadth of
making a fortune a number of times, but the hair was always too
much. Such a man is always the one killed on a railway train. If he
hears of a case of small-pox in West Wheeling, he will catch it. He
is always the man in the great crowd who loses his pocket-book, and
although he is one of the best of fellows, it will be just his luck
to be overlooked by St. Peter at the gate of Heaven.

My favorite way of getting out of bed is to wake up, bid good morning
to the newly created day, quietly turn over and go to sleep again
without disturbing any one, and sleep the sleep of the just. In that
second nap, I visit my Spanish castles. Their architecture is more
elaborate and ethereal than ever Wren dreamed of, and they float
always in an amber haze just over the Pyrenees. I have leased them
all to a goodly company of ladies and gentlemen, and they are the
best of pay. Among them are the fair Rosamund; poor Beatrice Cenci;
that other Beatrice, who has come down from her shining beatitudes
and occupies one of the best of them with Dante; the yellow-haired
Gretchen and Faust; the rare and radiant Countess Irma; Spenser's
Fairy Queen and Titania; Aspasia, still reclining on beds of roses;
Dame Durden, whose house is no longer bleak; Cinderella, with her
tiny slipper; Joan of Domremy, still talking with the angels; Undine,
bathing in eternal streams; Colonel Newcome, and that prince of good
fellows, George Warrington; Wilkins Micawber and Samuel Weller, who
are living together--(Uriah Heep and Mr. Chadband made application
for one castle, but their references were not good)--Wilhelm Meister
and Nathan the Wise; the Lady of Shallott and Hiawatha, who have
become firm friends; the fair Florinda and the Princess Scherezade,
who amuse each other with rare stories; Sinbad and Aladdin and
Rasselas; and Donatello, who never can agree with Werter. When I
arrive, they hang out the banners, and such music as Malibran and
Sontag sing, which Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Schubert have been
writing for them, you don't hear in our concert halls. All the
charming women and good fellows, of all times, come in to breakfast
and we drink ambrosial wines, sweeter than the honey of Hymettus,
and breakfast on fruits which have mellowed in the hanging gardens.
There is no such lotus, by the bye, on the Nile banks as grows
in those gardens. Time would fail me to narrate the sonnets that
Dante is writing; the good jokes that George Warrington and Sam
Weller have with each other over Wilkins, who is still waiting for
something to turn up; the philosophical speculations of Rasselas, and
the Munchausenisms of Sinbad; to tell you of a magnificent Spanish
symphony that Beethoven has just finished, and the delight with which
he listens to a new Ave Maria by Schubert, for the grand old master's
hearing has been restored; the songs of Irma, as she looks down upon
the mountains of her transfiguration; and the great joy of Faust
and Gretchen, who have deciphered the vital problem they could not
solve in the baneful shadow of Mephisto. The most beautiful castle is
reserved for the friend who died years ago and passed away from me,
but who is now like the living, because he greets me every morning in
my castle with the warm grip of the hand and the cheery voice and the
pleasant face of old times. He has not grown old since then, and I....

     February 15, 1868.



_THE TEAPOT._


We were all sitting at the table together. All told, we were ten,
viz: Celeste and her maiden aunt, who had a sorrow when she was
young, a blighted affection, or something of that sort; Aurelia, now
Mrs. Peplum; Mr. Peplum, who has become much more sedate since his
family affair with Aurelia; Aurelia's mother, who is getting old and
rather fussy; Blanche, and young Boosey, who is sweet on Blanche; Old
Blobbs, the Water street indigo merchant, and Mrs. Blobbs; and myself.

"As I was about to say when I was interrupted, the teapot...."

Here I was again interrupted by young Boosey, who was filling himself
to repletion with brandied peaches, and who rather scornfully
remarked to Old Blobbs that tea might do well enough for old women,
but that, for a steady diet, he preferred champagne punches. Old
Blobbs silenced him by telling him that if he spent less for
champagne punches, it would be for the interest of his landlady.

The rebuke was severe, but just.

As I was about to say when I was interrupted the second time, the
teapot is one of the strongest links in the chain of society. If
my friend Blobbs, across the way, will recall his youthful days, he
will confess that all his subsequent prosperity and happiness are due
to the teapot. He will remember that in those days, when, strange
as it may seem, he was addicted to Byronic collars and bad rhymes,
he accompanied the future Mrs. Blobbs home from singing-school one
June night, and that, as they went across the fields instead of by
the straight road, he felt excessively foolish at the manner in
which the stars winked and blinked at each other. You see, my friend
Blobbs thought that he was the first man in the world who had ever
done that sort of thing; and my dear Mrs. Blobbs will pardon me if I
say that she was excessively sheepish also over the fancy that, for
the first time in the world, she was receiving the attentions of a
young man. But the stars were used to it, and knew what would come
of it. Ever since they peeped through the branches of the Tree of
Knowledge and saw Adam sitting up with Eve, they had been looking at
a young man and a young woman rehearsing this same old story, and, my
dear Blobbs, long after you and I are under the daisies, they will
shine down upon young men and young women, going across the fields
and telling the same old story. It is the only story which can't be
printed fast enough to supply the demand.

And my friend Blobbs will also remember that when they reached
the gate, the air was full of the perfume of apple-blossoms and
roses; that the bell of the village church over on the hill was
striking eleven, and that its tones were borne on the night air,
across the meadows, as softly and soothingly as if they were the
audible pulsations of the moonlight; that an officious little
insect, shrouded in the gloom of the fir tree in the front yard,
was continually informing him that Katy-did; that, before they
parted, they chose a mutual star which should ever be their symbol
and souvenir; and that when at last he took her little white hand
in his--it _was_ a pretty hand in those days, you know, Blobbs--she
said: "Won't you come over to tea to-morrow night, Mr. Blobbs?" Did
you refuse, Mr. Blobbs?

He will furthermore be so good as to remember that he walked on air
as he went home; that he whistled as he went; that all the stars in
Heaven, except that particular one, were laughing at him, and that he
wouldn't have taken a thousand dollars for himself.

Now I put it to you, Mr. Blobbs, as a man of honor, if that teapot,
the next evening, did not do the business and make a man of you all
the rest of your life.

Blobbs looked rather uncomfortable, but I thought I detected
some of the brilliancy of those days shining through all the
conventionalities and financial callouses of his life, as he
assented; and if a tear stood in the corner of Mrs. B.'s eye, as she
looked at her consort in the indigo trade, it dropped immediately
into the quince sauce and dissolved into sweetness.

And as I passed my cup to Aurelia's mother the second time, with a
deprecating look at Boosey, I continued: I know of no pleasanter
sight in the world than a steaming teapot upon the tray and five
or six old ladies gathered about it, who have just dropped over
and brought their knitting. They have all made the voyage of life,
weathered the storms and gone into old age's winter quarters. Life's
spring will never come for them again. The roses will not bloom
for them, and the birds will miss them, but the frosts and the keen
winter winds touch them kindly; and if they sometimes regard the
blue, lichen-covered slate stones with the unutterable thoughts of
old age, it is only because they feel the first breath of the gales
blowing from the eternal springs, inhale the faint perfumes of the
asphodels and the lilies on the banks of the River of Life, and hear,
as in a dream, the sounds of music from the golden harps over the
battlements of Heaven.

And as the cups go round and the dear old creatures become inspired
with the delicate aroma, how they will compare their rheumatisms,
and backaches, and headaches, and neuralgias--those inevitable signs
that the silver cords are growing looser, and that the pitchers will
soon be broken at the fountains! How they will yearn after the days
when they were young, and lament the decadence of the present! How
they will recall the scenes of fifty years ago! (Here the maiden aunt
let her eyes fall, and I fancied her lips quivered some). How they
will indulge in just the slightest gossip in the world, meantime
mysteriously shaking their frosty heads, but just as harmless as the
rage of Mignon's canary! How they will analyze and dissect the last
new baby in the neighborhood, and lament over the weakness of its
mother who will allow it to eat anything and everything! How they
will deprecate the new-fangled notions of the young pastor who has
just succeeded old Parson Tenthly, lately called home!

It is a mortifying fact that young Pastor Primrose _does_ prefer to
visit Blanche and Celeste, who dote upon him and make book-marks and
slippers for him, rather than be obliged to listen to the catalogues
of the old ladies' physical and theological complaints. You see,
Blanche and Celeste are not a severe tax upon his theological
resources, while the old ladies are. Neither can the old ladies see
why it is necessary that the young clergyman should be so particular
about his back hair and the immaculateness of his neck-tie.

     February 22, 1868.



_A MASQUE._


Did you ask me if the Masquerade, this week, was a success?

Considering that nine-tenths of the people who go to balls are
idiots; that carnival folly without carnival license is Hamlet
without Hamlet; that only they in whose veins the blood is tropical
understand the real _esprit_ of the _bal masque_; and that among our
masques every man insists upon being a Harlequin and every woman a
nondescript, showing the inevitable tendency of human nature;--it was
a success.

It is impossible for Boosey in a masque to feel tropical. Champagne,
and not blood, is the natural current through his veins. Disguised
as a gorgeous Harlequin, in cap and bells, he is not at home. He
is inchoate, crude and lonesome. He may talk soft things to the
unknown Blanche, hanging upon his arm in the black tarletan, gold
stars and crescent, but the liquid eyes and beaming face tell no
story through the grinning, goggle-eyed pasteboard, and do not
disturb the placidity of the manly breast of Harlequin, or make any
intellectual impression upon him, further than to confirm us in our
original statement that he is an idiot. What Boosey may do when
the masques are off and church-yards begin to yawn, as he and the
unknown Blanche say matins at the shrine of the jolly King Gambrinus,
concerns us not.

Neither does it concern you who are reading these lines, who never
take your masque off at all.

Although my German friends sandwiched their carnival into a funny
place, making sin follow repentance, and mixing up scarlet Mardi Gras
and gray Ash Wednesday with a frightful negligence of proprieties,
it was enjoyable and delightfully sinful. Celeste, when she came to
my confessional the other day, complained of it. She was clad in
russet and serge, had sprinkled herself with ashes, was mortifying
the flesh by concealing those white shoulders and marble arms, which
are the envy of our set, and eating lentils as if she liked them.
Could I do anything but pity her when she cried _peccavi, mea culpa,
mea culpa_. And as she told me, with those pretty lips, of her
melon-colored dress, how superbly it hung; of her pearl neck-lace,
which actually looked dark on her neck; of an unknown cavalier, who
whispered something transporting over his bouquet, and then vanished;
of the wild waltz with Mephisto, whose sneering gibes were alchemized
into delicious flattery--and as the Dear Creature told me that she
had followed too much the devices and desires of her own heart, and
that all was vanity, was it a wonder that I, even in the garb of the
confessor, cheered and consoled her, and said:

My dear young friend, the only trouble with you is that Divine
Providence, instead of Canova, made you, and, in making you, gave
you a human nature. He was also at fault in making flowers that
die of their own sweetness, and grapes that burst of their own
voluptuousness, and swans that expire in their own melody. The
moralists have got hold of you, my dear, and, with their mallets
and chisels, are trying to make you into a cold, senseless, white
statue of virtue, while all the while the blood is bounding to your
finger-tips, and every pulsation of your heart is in waltz _tempo_.
Enjoy your carnivals, my dear, for soon come the snow and the
chilling winds, which will wrinkle your pretty face, and film your
bright eyes, and turn those white shoulders to parchment, and deaden
all the fire of life. Then may you wrap yourself in your black robes
and weep over the dead carnivals in the gray ashes.

And if you know of any of your friends who are so miserably
unfortunate as to be without fault, let them cast stones at you. I
may say, _entre nous_, that I do not think you will be much hurt. The
stone-throwing will be the feeblest you ever saw.

And the Dear Creature went away, as one not utterly bereft of
consolation.

     March 7, 1868.



_THE MIRACLE OF CREATION._


We were sitting at the opera the other evening, Celeste and I.
Celeste was _ennuyee_. Not even the Garden music of Faust--music
which so deftly pictures the grand struggle between the Angel and the
Fiend, which is waged on the battle-field of each man's soul--music
which so vividly paints the lapse from guilelessness to guilt;
not even the closing duo, an outburst of sensuous rapture with an
under-tone of the wildest despair, seemed to have any effect upon
her. So she twirled her fan impatiently, flirted with Fitz-Herbert
opposite, through her lorgnette, and listlessly pulled the waxen
petals out of the camelia in her bouquet.

And she turned to me and said: "Don't you think this is very stupid?
Everything is so _blase_. I would give a year of my life for a
new sensation. How happy Eve must have been, when everything was
bright and fresh and new, and for the first time;" and, the camelia
destroyed, she commenced upon roses and heliotropes.

And, after the opera, I freed my mind to the Dear Creature, upon
the foolish idea--which not only she but the majority of people
have--that the world was any brighter or fresher, or any more for the
first time, in the days of Adam and Eve than now, speaking somewhat
after the following fashion:

My dear Celeste, the fault is not in the world, but in yourself, that
nothing seems bright, and fresh, and new. The miracle of creation and
the process of life are new every morning and every evening, and are
performed for the first time for each human being, yourself included.
But you have allowed conventionality and form and artificiality to
dim your eyes, destroy your taste, and blunt all your sensibilities.
The world is just as beautiful, the mountains just as grand, the
flowers just as lovely, the streams just as sparkling, the songs of
the birds just as sweet, this spring day of 1868, _Anno Domini_, as
they were on the same spring day of the year 1, _Ante Christum_. Adam
and Eve saw them for the first time, and you are seeing them for
the first time. The first sunrise which Adam and Eve saw, as they
took their morning walk in the garden, was not a whit more beautiful
than the sunrise this morning; and if that was given to them for the
first time, this was given to you for the first time--only your eyes,
albeit they are very pretty, are totally blind to the fact; and,
equally, the light of the sunset which filtered through the leaves
of the trees, and stained the whole flowery floor of the Garden with
golden glory, what time the first man and woman said vespers in God's
grand temple of Nature, was not more golden than that which flooded
the earth last evening, what time, my dear, you were yawningly doing
up your back-hair, preparatory to Mrs. Fitz-Boodle's hop, utterly
unconscious that there was a sun in the heavens, or that Nature was
painting for you for the first time the miracle of a sunset, which
she did for Adam for the first time.

The same analogy holds good in all the operations of life. Eve,
holding the wicked Cain in the cradle of her arms, experienced the
same joys and griefs of maternity; the same concentration of all that
is beautiful in the world, in the blue eyes of the nestling; the same
mysterious yearnings; the same strong, deep love; the same foreboding
pain that is experienced by the last fair-browed mother "in marble
halls," or by some tawny, wild-eyed Indian mother, crooning weird
songs to her little one under torrid palms.

And when, my dear Madame, you laid your little Johnny or Susie, all
covered with immortelles and rosebuds, under the violets; or when you
received a letter, written in a strange hand, that your first and
only one, who had grown to man's estate, and who went sailing over
the seas, was down among the sea-tangles and the corals; when, as by
a sudden breath, every light of joy was blown out; when that terrible
silence of death lay on the household; when, in the night watches,
you listened for some tidings from that far-off shore of the To Be,
whither the child had sailed all alone, without your watchful care
over him; when it seemed to you that the heavens should be hung with
black, and you wondered that the sun could shine, and the birds sing,
and men and women come and go as if nothing had occurred--when all
this happened, you were experiencing, for the first time, the same
feelings that Eve experienced for the first time, as she looked into
the stark face of Abel.

     March 24, 1868.



_FASHIONABLE WEDDINGS._


I was sitting last evening in the library, absorbed in that wonderful
book of Auerbach's--"On the Heights"--a book which always has the
charm of being new whenever I take it up, and always gives me some
fresh insight into the beauties of this world, and the sublimity of
human nature. It was twilight, the time to read it. Minerva on the
one shelf was drowsily nodding at Clytie on the other, and Dante
on his bracket was looking out of the window into the sky, as if
momentarily expecting Beatrice to float luminously down in shining
garments. The flowers in the window were shutting up their petals for
the night. And thus we sat there--Auerbach, Clytie, Minerva, Dante,
the flowers, and I; and as the lines of the book dimmed over in the
receding light, our star appeared goldening in the Western sky, just
over the crimson of the dying day.

When who should walk in but the Dear Children, Boosey and Celeste,
arm in arm! Minerva at once woke up and looked wisely at B., and
my calla, which always recognizes Celeste as a butterfly, leaned
lovingly towards her, as if inviting her to fly into her milk-white
bosom and sleep there for the night.

They cautiously and modestly informed me of their engagement, and had
come to ask me for some advice relative to the wedding and how it
should be celebrated. Whereupon I laid Auerbach down, and spoke to
them somewhat after the following manner:

My Dear Children, I will give you some views on weddings in general,
which you may apply to your own case. While it is eminently proper to
invite personal friends to a wedding, and the more the merrier, avoid
publicity. Publicity in private matters inevitably tends towards
snobbishness, and often towards vulgarity. You may lay the gilt on
vulgarity just as thickly as you please and it will only make it the
more glaring, just as the process of varnishing a poor picture makes
its defects more obvious. A wedding will always be public enough
without any courting of publicity, and it is a very poor way of
starting off in life, by trying to outdo some one else in the way of
show and expense. It is like throwing out your ace of trumps without
stopping to see whether you have got suit in your hand to win the
game with. The lavish expenditure of money on a wedding, merely to
outdo some one else, is only for popular effect, and what is done
only for popular effect is very apt to be vulgar. By vulgarity, of
course I do not mean anything that is morally wrong, but simply
common and snobbish. The motive is a very cheap one, and is apparent
to the most superficial observer; and the least justifiable occasion
for the exercise of that motive is a wedding, which should be free
from tinsel and frippery. An event so important, and in a certain
degree so sacred, should be celebrated with a delicacy and dignity
befitting its character. It is the turning-point for weal or wo in
two lives, and it is not well to make it a public show. The occasions
in society-life for display of gilt and gingerbread, sugar candy and
gewgaws, are amply sufficient, without seizing upon the hymeneal
altar and exhibiting the sacred fire to a curious public, with blare
of trumpets and glare of trappings.

One of the worst features of our fashionable weddings is the insane
desire of the parties to it to make their appearance in the public
prints, and figure with stunning head-lines among the announcements
of the last raid upon gamblers, police court trials, sensational
divorces, murders, rapes and suicides. The avidity with which this
publicity is sought will be astonishing to the general reader. In
some instances printed, and in others written invitations, have been
sent to the reporters of the daily press, stating the exact time
and place when and where they can visit the dressmaker and have the
mysteries of the bridal toilet explained to them, when and where
they can inspect other toilets, and when and where they can see the
wedding gifts and be informed of their nature and cost; all of which,
of course, will be unfolded in due time to the admiring public, and
small female vanity and large female curiosity will be gratified.

Unless, as is always the case, reporters are human and printers
capricious; whereupon it happens that great expectations are not
always realized--as, for instance, when that diamond pin, which
cost $2,000, appears in print at the ridiculously small figure of
$200; when Mrs. Croesus, who has devoted days of toil and nights
of anxiety, and has distracted her dressmakers over her superb
silk--who has flattered herself upon the sensation her point lace
will make, and the universal admiration which will greet her diamond
set--appears in print clad in blue tarletan, with Brussels lace
and pearl jewelry; when the two thousand invitations appear on
paper as two hundred; when the reporter, who came late, mistakes a
bridesmaid for the bride, and goes into glowing raptures over the
loveliness of the young creature; when another reporter, who has not
had an opportunity of writing up the gifts beforehand, gets into a
chaos of ormolu clocks, bronzes, and silverware, and mixes them up
indiscriminately; when John Thomas, the family driver, who is not
free from the failings of human nature any more than his superiors,
by a quiet little reportorial bribe, or a secret visit to the place
so dear to every well-organized reporter--the wine cellar--gets his
name mentioned for the graceful manner in which he presided over the
white ribbons and the rosetted steeds; when all these things happen,
as happen they will, and people laugh, then the great expectations
are not realized; and Mrs. Midas, who lives next door to Mrs.
Croesus, had a small difficulty with her and was not invited to the
wedding, has her revenge.

On general principles, this avidity of people to get their garments
advertised in the public prints, while it may minister to their
foolish vanity, is pernicious in its effects, and a positive injury
to society. It has one of two effects. It will either keep a great
many ladies away from places of public amusement, who cannot afford
to dress in a showy manner, and are too sensitive to have their
plain toilets spread before the universal eye; or it will encourage
them to foolishly fling away money, in order that they may make
a presentable appearance. And beyond these effects, it directly
encourages, or rather compels a competition in dress which is ruinous
to good taste, not to speak of purses.

And now, my Dear Children, let me advise you to avoid all show. A
house full of wedding presents and dear friends, and detectives to
watch the costly presents, lest the dear friends steal them, is not
desirable. A wedding _trousseau_ constructed regardless of expense,
to outdo some other _trousseau_ and to create popular effect, is
very vulgar. A lavish display of diamonds and silver, and glittering
gewgaws, exhibited merely for ostentation, may make your curious
friends envious, but it will make your judicious friends grieve.
A clean flag-stone walk to the church will not injure your dainty
feet any more than the Brussels carpet, and I would not favor your
feet too much, for they may have to walk in some very flinty places
yet. It is well, also, to have some regard to the proprieties of the
church itself, and not transform it so much, that if St. Paul should
happen to drop in, he wouldn't know whether he was in a circus or a
menagerie.

I always tremble for the bride who starts off in life in this manner.
We cannot always float smoothly along, reclining on velvet cushions,
with favoring winds swelling silken sails, and golden oars keeping
time to music. It has been discreetly ordered that reverses shall
overtake us all before we get into the snug haven of old age. And in
that night of tempests, when the whole heavens seem shutting grimly
down, and not a star of hope can peep through the wild wrack, the
fate of a Canary bird in a thunder-storm is the fate of this bride.
The first move is the key to all the rest. It is well, therefore, to
have that move made calmly, deliberately and thoughtfully, without
any reference to the opinions or the curiosities of others, with all
the contingencies of life steadily in view, and with the two lives in
one, braced and fortified to meet them.

My say was ended, and as Boosey and Celeste thanked me and went out
seriously, she with a little faster hold upon his arm, and he with
a firmer look of resolution upon his face, as if he were mentally
bidding good bye to his follies, I sent my blessing out with them,
for I was sure that he would get the vessel into such good trim that
he and the Butterfly would be uninjured in any storm.

     March 28, 1868.



_APRIL._


Although this snivelling humbug, April, as I write, has spread out
one of the bluest and softest of skies, and is coaxing the leaves
to unroll their little green packages, and the grass to shoot up
through the brown sod, and the birds to come up from the warm South,
I can only say with the Rabbi in Uriel Acosta, "We have seen all this
before."

She has dallied so long with that wild roysterer, March, that
there is suspicion in the hem of her garments. She has indulged in
boisterous and disgraceful revelries with him. She has listened
to his bold license of speech. She has allowed him entrance at
unseasonable hours. And she comes from the contact, no longer the
coy, bashful, weeping maiden of yore, but a bold, unblushing hoyden,
clothing herself to-day in her old beauty and softness, but still
with the vile breath of March upon her lips.

And, worst of all, while couched in the fierce passion of March, she
forgot her old friends who have never forgotten her, and so the buds
were blasted, and the birds who had listened to her syren song died,
and the flowers turned over and went back to their odorous sleep; and
the arbutus which should be now showing its little pink and white
face, under the dead leaves, shrunk back affrighted from her, as she
went noisily through the woods, boasting her shame in the robes with
which March covered her nakedness as he thrust her away.

It is only a few Sundays ago that I told you of the little blue
trumpeter who was heralding spring from the dry boughs. He, too,
was sacrificed, and yesterday I saw him lying upon his back in the
brown stubble, his claws bent with the pain of the cold, the light
of his eyes quenched, his song forever hushed, and his soul fled to
the Bird Heaven, where all the good blue birds, robins, orioles, and
nightingales go; where they sing forever among the asphodels and in
the lotuses to those who loved them and cared for them among the elms
and the oaks; and where all the little captives who are caged here
below regain their liberty and soar and sing untrammelled.

The blue trumpeter suffered the fate of all reformers. He came before
his time. He was heralding the truth before the world was ready for
it, and he died unheard and neglected. And hundreds of other heralds
are lying dead to-day in the fields, victims to the merciless rigor
of the rain and the snow and the cold.

And I therefore plead for all the birds who have come to us from
the South. Shelter them whenever you can. Feed them and care for
them. Summer, without its choir of birds, will be as blank as heaven
without stars, a house without a child, a garden without flowers. The
clearest indications of Paradise we get on earth, are the birds, the
flowers, and the little children, and the man or woman who doesn't
love them will have a trying time in Paradise, if he or she ever gets
there.

I have never seen it recorded that they have any of these things in
the other place.

Therefore, again I say, deal gently with the birds and the flowers,
for not a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice, and Solomon
in all his glory was not arrayed like the lilies of the fields.

     April 17, 1868.



_A SUMMER REVERIE._


Can you inform me why it was necessary for every man, woman and child
whom I have met to-day, to remind me that it was hot? Why had all
these people the right to assume that I did not know it was hot?

I am serious on this subject. I have been used this way before. I am
continually informed by somebody that it is hot, or it is cold, or it
rains, or it snows. To be informed once in the course of twenty-four
hours that it is hot, is bad enough of itself; but to be apprised of
that fact by every person you meet, is an improper interference with
the funeral.

Now, for the benefit of the public at large, which is so eager to
inform me that it is hot, I want to announce that I know it is hot.
My knowledge on that score is positive, large and satisfactory. I am
prepared, if necessary, to make a statement in writing that it is
hot; to get me to a notary and make affidavit that it is hot.

Do I not know that it is hot, sitting here, with a vista of brick
walls on every side, from which the sun glares at me; fanned through
the open window by zephyrs, which bear on their wings nothing less
cooling than coal smoke and caloric; with the hot whirling of
machinery on one side and the rumble of the dusty, sweltering street
on the other? Through an open space in the walls, I can see a patch
of sky as large as a lady's pocket-handkerchief, across which bits
of cloud go with thoughts of rain in them; and with the infinite
longing with which poor Marie Stuart watched the clouds which were
floating across from her prison to France, and as she, prisoned in
Fotheringay, sent her thoughts and wishes by those cloudy messengers,
with that kind of longing, I think of distant fields and woods, of
cooling waters and leafy shades to which they are hastening, and
so I send messages to the trees, and the rocks, and the flowers,
and to the least living thing that "praises God by rubbing its legs
together," as Thackeray so finely puts it.

On such a day as this, it would be supreme delight to eat lotus in
the woods; to lie, stretched prone upon the grass, in the grateful
shade, with no heavier task than to watch a sluggish beetle, or an
ant carrying its burden, in imminent danger of collision with every
tiny stalk; to listen to all the sounds in nature's orchestra, the
stringed instruments of the insects floating in the air, and the
reeds of the insects crawling in the grass, the flutes of the birds,
the horns of the wind blowing through the tree-tops, and all those
sweet, indefinable sounds you only hear when your ear is close to
the ground, but which play their part in the grand symphony; to lie
upon the grass, with not a sound from the great world jarring upon
your Arcadia; to dream of Satyrs, and Fauns, and wood-nymphs, and
water-nymphs, and the great god Pan, piping upon his pastoral reeds;
to think of absent friends who are thinking of you, and will return,
and of absent friends who are thinking of you, but will never return,
as no road leads back from that country whither they have journeyed,
and the daisies tell no stories, nor even the rustle of the grass
which grows above them; to remember a chord of music long forgotten,
and let its subtle melancholy weave a vision in the Past, when the
chord was a sound and not a sigh, and the vision was a reality and
not a shadow.

And to let the little bugs crawl in your ear and shiver the whole
beautiful Dream-Fabric.

     June 13, 1868.



_THE GERMANS AND MUSIC._


To make a good German, four things are requisite, viz: Music, beer,
Rhine wine and _Gemuethlichkeit_. In regard to the first and last
qualities, I think that I am half a German. For four days past,
I have been trying to achieve the other two qualities, and thus
Teutonize myself _in toto_.

I have fought the white beer of Berlin with an energy worthy of a
better cause. I have wrestled with the red beer of Chicago. I have
struggled with Hocheimer, Rudesheimer and Johannisberg, until I was
Black, White and Red in the face, and hung out the German flag in my
countenance. I have wished, with Mein Herr Von Dunk, that my trough
was as deep as the rolling Zuyder Zee. But when I had accomplished
my fifth glass of the mantling beer with internal satisfaction, and
then beheld a German friend call for his thirtieth, just by way of
an appetizer for the half barrel he had ordered, I saw at once the
futility of my undertaking.

In fact, I was not equal to the beer capacity of a small German baby,
and when I saw great, jolly Teutons, flaxen-haired, deep-lunged and
stout-handed, with a whole case of Rhenish hidden away under their
jackets, is it proper for me to allude to the poor little bottle
of Steinberger I had demolished, or to have any other feeling in
regard to that feat than one of intense mortification? The spirit was
willing, but the flesh was weak. Nature was against me.

On the tenth glass of beer, the German is serene; on the twentieth,
he is philosophical and will discuss the problem of how many angels
can stand upon the point of a needle; on the thirtieth, he is full
of _Bruderlichkeit_; on the fortieth, he reaches _Freiheit_; on the
fiftieth, he will troll you a _Trinklied_ in the manner of Hermanns
with his Golden Calf; on the sixtieth he is a little weary, but his
heart is in the right place, and he pronounces _zwei glass_ with a
strong emphasis on the _zwei_; on the seventieth, he is tired, but
he recovers from it with the eightieth; on the ninetieth, he feels
_gut_; and on the hundredth he is himself again, _frisch, frei und
froh_, and is then prepared to drink some beer with you, to sing you
one of Abt's best, to criticise a statue, or discuss the everlasting
essence of the negative pole of infinity. Set him down to the
glorious Rhenish vintages and the pile of old bottles he will leave
behind him would have gone a great ways towards building the tower of
Babel.

Your German is essentially a talker, and it is astonishing,
considering the "schs," and "achs," and "ichs," and other gutturals
distressing to an American windpipe, which are continually in his
way, how much ground he will talk over in an hour. He talks with his
tongue, his arms and his legs, and throws in the punctuation points
as he goes along, with nods of his head. When he is the most social
and affectionate, when his heart warms towards you, then he appears
as if he were immediately about to demolish you, and the more
affectionate he grows, the more alarmed you become for your personal
safety and anxious to inform your family that you may be brought
home feet foremost. A company of Germans together, when they are
inspired with _Gemuethlichkeit_, and when social feeling is at its
highest temperature, exactly resemble Americans at the other extreme,
preparing for a general fight, and you wonder the police do not
interfere. And _vice versa_, when the German is excited to pugnacity,
he does not seem to be excited at all. He appears to be serene, but
beneath all the calm outside there is a terrible rage.

The German is addicted to Fatherland, and if any human being on the
face of the earth has a right to be, it is the German. If any other
nationality has a better literature, grander poets, more inspired
dreamers, sublimer musicians, better artists, or deeper thinkers,
I have not heard of it. The ties which bind him to the Fatherland
are too strong ever to be broken, and on the invisible strings
which stretch from his heart to Germany are continually sounding
the home melodies. Could any more beautiful idea be conceived than
the fact that on Friday evening, when the grand chorus at the Fest
Hall[1] were singing the glorious German poem, "What is the German's
Fatherland," in every part of Germany, in every city, village and
hamlet, wherever there was a singing society, this same song was
being sung on the same evening, in honor of their brethren assembled
at Chicago?

We may laugh at the peculiarities of the Germans, but when we
approach German art, it must give us pause. Berlioz and Scribe took
the skull of a fool, who had once laughed at the incantation music
of Der Freischutz, and when the orchestra had reached that point,
placed it before them and said: "Now, laugh if you dare. The music
of Von Weber is thundering round you." No man who was not destitute
of a soul, and utterly wedded to all gross things, could have felt
any other than a religious feeling in the great swell of human voices
on Thursday evening, as it surged in great waves of harmony, as it
rose like the march of a storm in the Battle Hymn of Rienzi, full of
martial inspiration and clarion cries, or died away in the gentle
and placid melody of the Lindenbaum of Schubert, sweetest of all
song-writers. The man who could go away from that concert without
feeling that he was a better man, without having recognized that
human nature may soar to the infinite on the wings of song, has sunk
his soul so far into the uncleaness of life, that Gabriel will have
some difficulty in finding it, what time he sounds his final trumpet
call.

The Fest was a notable event, from the bare fact that it gave us the
immortal Seventh Symphony of Beethoven, about which the critics and
rhapsodists have loved to dream in searching for its hidden meaning,
and around which they have woven so many delicate and tender fancies.
No two persons probably will ever agree upon the exact event it is
intended to illustrate, but it seems to me that there is one idea
which must be patent to all. To me, the Seventh Symphony appears to
be a true picture of a beautiful life--its _allegro_ full of the
longings and joyousness of youth; its _allegretto_ filled with
the delicious melancholy of love; its _scherzo_ buoyant with the
gladness and ecstasy of living; and its final _allegro_ summing all
up in a climax of contentment and hope. It seems to me that when the
grand old Master, the Jupiter Tonans of music, whose soul pierced
the sublimity of the infinite, wrote this symphony, he must have
forgotten all the trials and troubles of life. All the joy of nature,
her sunlight and breezes, and the hidden melodies of inanimate
things; all the glow and elasticity of life's morning; a passionate
love for some golden-haired Gretchen; a rhythm to which fairies
might have danced in the moonlight, seem to me to be expressed in
this wonderful production--the whole bathed in sunlight and clothed
with supernatural beauty. In the Seventh Symphony, Beethoven does
not sadden you with the profound melancholy, or inspire you with the
sublimity of some of his works, but he gives you new ideas of the
beauty and joy of living. And as I sat listening to the masterly
performance of the _Allegretto_ by the great orchestra--every
player's face lit up with the enthusiasm of the music--every
instrument moving in perfect precision--the whole air full of the
bewitching, almost supernatural music--there occurred to me a letter
which I have received this week, in which the writer wants to know if
it is the duty of a Christian to encourage the Saengerfest. Although
the letter was signed "A Christian,"--in the presence of the great
Master's work the question seemed to me utterly profane. Why! Music
is full of religion! The first tidings that ever came from Heaven to
man came in music on the plains of Bethlehem. It reaches far down
into the soul. It fills it with longings for the Unknown. It reveals
the Infinite more clearly than the spoken word. Its tendency is
upward. It gives birth to aspirations. It makes a true man, truer. It
makes a bad man, better.

If the writer of that letter does not appreciate music, let me
commend to him the dictum of the father of modern Protestantism:

    "Who loves not wine, woman and song,
    Remains a fool his whole life long."

I should not care to deny that Martin Luther was a Christian,
even in the face of his rather generous platform--in fact, his
specifications would rather go to show that he was. I would advise
my letter-writing friend, therefore, if he cannot love wine and
woman, at least to love song, and see if it does not make a better
Christian out of him. I think he could love every plank in Martin
Luther's platform, and still be as good a Christian as Martin Luther
was, and pitch ink-stands at the devil quite as vigorously. Before a
man is thoroughly fitted for Heaven, he ought to be thoroughly fitted
for earth. A great many people who think themselves good enough for
Heaven, and are all the time wanting to go there, are not half good
enough for earth. It is sheer ingratitude to Divine Providence--this
lifting of the eyes so high as never to see the sublime world He has
placed you in, with its never-ending scenes of beauty and sublimity,
and never to see this life with its joys and possibilities. Fling
your theologies to the winds. Unloosen your stiff neck. Don't forever
snuff evil in everything around you. Up, and out into the world.
Throw yourself into the arms of the loving mother, Nature, and see
if there is no religion in her eyes. Get to the secret heart of
music, and see if it is not anchored hard by the eternal throne.
Draw yourself closer to humanity and to universal brotherhood, and
see if there is no religion in it. If your soul does not expand in
the operation, and if it does not make a better Christian out of you,
then you are hardly good enough for this world, and the sooner you
are out of it the better.

     June 20, 1868.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] The Northwestern Saengerfest, held at Chicago, June, 1868.



_THE OLD STORY._


In these fast days of the period, when human life is of so little
account that we sever its frail thread with as little compunction
as we would pick a flower from its stem; when, in our hot haste, we
drain the cup clear to the bitter lees, and, disappointed, plunge
ourselves into the outer darkness; when a mist of error and frenzy
settles down upon us, so dense that it hides from our gaze all that
is True and Beautiful; when, in all the heavens, there is only the
angriness of driving clouds, and no star shining--in these fast
days, the mere recital of a solitary case, where a tired human being
has gone to rest voluntarily, rather than bear the great burden of
agony and scorn upon her weak shoulders any longer, only causes the
indulgence of a moment's curiosity and wonderment. The case published
in the columns of the TRIBUNE this morning, of the suicide of
"Augusta," seems to me, however, one over which we should pause and
think.

Very little is given of her history, and yet enough to indicate
that she was but eighteen years of age--that time in life when the
world is clad in its brightest colors, when the heart is full of
hope and the body full of the buoyancy of youth; that she was very
intelligent; that she was very pretty; that she was very amiable,
and beloved by all who knew her; that she had been utterly deserted
by a brute; and that she still wanted to live--for, in her sad note,
she says: "And yet, if there seemed the shadow of a hope to regain
your love, once so true and tender, I would longer suffer the agony
you have so ruthlessly thrown upon me."

To me, there is something inexpressibly sad in that last note:

"My Darling Percy: The dark clouds are gathering around the little
girl you once loved, and who still clings to you in hope that your
heart will soften; but, oh! dear one, to suffer the agony of this
suspense is worse than death. You trifled with my susceptible heart,
but I forgive you. I court death; and yet, if there seemed the shadow
of a hope to regain your love, once so true and tender, I would
longer suffer the agony you have so ruthlessly thrown upon me. O,
come, come! Press me to your heart again, and then let me die.

            Loving and true,

                                         AUGUSTA."

Deserted! And, alone in the world, she attempts to ward off, with her
weak, little hands, those dark clouds gathering around her. Deserted!
She still clings to all he has left her--a bitter memory. Deserted!
She bears an agony which is worse than death. Deserted! She still
loves and forgives him, who has utterly blotted out her bright young
life. Deserted! She would still bear the great agony, if there was
only the shadow of a hope that, at some day, she might regain that
love. Deserted! And from her white lips comes that last mournful
appeal--"Come! come! and let me die"--and then utter despair sets
in, which is only another name for utter madness, for when hope dies,
the light of reason goes out, too, and she goes to her death, "rashly
importunate," out of the world, and out of life, to the arms of the
Great Father.

To the Great Father, notwithstanding the technical notions of my
theological brethren, whose cold, hard formulæ, in a case like this,
must give way. They dare not assert them in the presence of this
little girl, around whom the clouds are gathering. If they should, it
would only argue a soul which has run entirely to brain.

Her last words, "loving and true," have nothing of the romantic about
them, no flavor of the boarding-school, no characteristic of the
gushing young misses just into their teens and chignons. It is the
full strength of a woman's love, which knows no abatement, even in
the face of scorn, abuse and desertion. If, by an exceedingly remote
possibility, this little girl should meet her betrayer in Paradise, I
do not believe she would avert her face. The vine clings to the tree
when its trunk is sturdy with sap and its branches are full of leaves
and nests, and it clings to it, also, when it is only a jagged stump,
riven and shattered by the lightnings.

The force of this passion is best illustrated by the fact that there
could be no compensation but death, for the loss of its object; no
compensation in all this great world, with its beauty of sunrises,
woods, rivers and mountains. The flowers bloomed no longer for her.
There was no soothing in the melancholy of music. The stars in Heaven
went out. All sweet sounds grew strangely silent. It was a living
death. She stretched out her hand for help, and it only met the cold
hand of a dead love. She could only see in the darkness the ghost of
a memory. There was only one escape out of this passion, and that way
she fled--and it led out of life.

The great world moves on undisturbed. The great woods are not
disturbed when a single leaf drops off a tree and flutters down to
its death. The eagle, in his flight, does not miss a feather that
drops from his plumage. Men will still buy and sell, and women will
gossip and dress. We shall all walk, and talk, and sing, and dance,
and flirt, and laugh, each in our own little world, happy as ever, so
long as dark Care does not ride behind the horseman.

But among us there will be one who can never again go companionless.
There is a ghost forever chained to him, which he cannot shake off.
It will sit by him and follow him into the land of dreams. It will
walk by his side. It will echo his faintest whisper and his loudest
laugh. He may wander like Ahasuerus, but he cannot escape from it.
He may plunge into excess, but he will see its face at the bottom of
every cup. There is no place so remote, under the blessed heavens,
where he can escape from it. There is no darkness so intense that
he will not see its sad, reproachful eyes looking at him. It will
follow him here, to meet him There. He carries his punishment with
him forever. In Faustus, there is an account of a memorable banquet
given by Satan, at which the viands were composed of souls cooked in
divers ways, and the wines were the tears of those who had suffered
on earth--a glowing story it is, told in excellent fashion, which
I would commend to him. I need not urge this handsomely-named man
to think sometimes of his victim. He will have no difficulty in
remembering, but very much in forgetting. A man who commits murder
is not very apt to forget. Society conveniently glosses over these
crimes with mild names, but the crime is just the same. Society
individually knows, and he knows, that he has committed murder, just
as surely as if he had plunged a knife into his victim, whose only
crime was love.

I think it would be an excellent practice, in these cases, to place
upon the tombstone some such epitaph as this:

                        Sacred to the Memory

                                 OF

                               AUGUSTA,

                _Murdered in her 18th year by Percy_.

    She was Beautiful, Intelligent and Amiable, but was guilty of

                                LOVE.



_IN MEMORIAM._


To-day, in this crystal atmosphere, in these glorious, invigorating
breaths from the North, full of suggestions of cool pine woods--of
brooks dancing over the shallows--of rivers flashing down to the
great lakes--of a fisherman rocking upon the waves--of breezes which
have journeyed all the way from the pole, whispering stories to
the trees of the weird things done in the Northern glow--in this
perfection of a new-created day, created for the first time for you
and for me, thus ever renewing the wonder of the first morning, life
is no longer a burden, but a blessing. Not the life social, mental or
moral, but the life physical. The mere fact of living, of breathing,
of feeling the blood coursing in your veins, of allying yourself with
the waves of the lake, which are sparkling with smiles; with the
leaves, which are dancing on the tree-tops; with the flowers bursting
into richer bloom, and lifting up their drooping cups to catch the
wine of the morning; with the birds, curving through the invigorating
air; with the insects, no longer droning their hot, dry notes in
the burnt grass, but making a Babel of little sweet sounds in every
hillock; the mere fact of living in this world, when every tint, from
the Iris in a foam-bell to the haze on a hill-side, is perfect;
when every sound, from the buzz of a grasshopper to the diapason of
the waves or the swell of the wind-smitten trees, is in unison, is a
blessing. On such a day, Donatello, the Faun, would have called the
animals to him with that universal language which makes us and them
kin. On such a day, Memnon sings more grandly to the sun. On such a
day, Heine's pine tree in the northern snows dreams of the palm in
the burning sands. Such a day comes like a benediction, after the
long, tedious sermon, and it brings with it benisons from the Great
Father to the parched, burning leaves, to the poor sufferers tossing
upon beds of pain, to tired, toiling humanity.

The last week has been a reign of terror. It is stated that the birds
have never died so fast, especially the singing birds. The flowers,
too, have died. And with the flowers and the birds, their companions,
the little children have passed away, until it makes one sad to think
into how many homes a shadow has come within the past short week.
Death, like another Herod, has knocked at every door, save where
some protecting angel guards the threshold. We fain would have kept
him out, but our hands were powerless, and in almost every household
where he entered, he smote the youngest and the fairest--little eyes,
in which the light of Heaven had never faded--little hands, untaxed
by any of life's burdens--little feet, unstained by any of the dust
of life's highway, in which we elder ones are so sadly begrimed that
we have lost much of the semblance of our former selves. And I think
this morning that, if earth is sadder for the loss of the children,
Heaven must be brighter and more beautiful for the troops of little
ones that have passed through the Gate Beautiful, and now walk in
Paradise, among the birds and flowers which died when they died. And
I think that, along the invisible strings which stretch from our
hearts to the little green waves of turf in the Acres of God, and
thence reach heavenward, will come songs in the night-watches, and
pulses of music we shall recognize, and, recognizing, become better
men and better women.

I am sure that some loving angel will tenderly watch each of these
new mounds of earth, and that, on each recurring spring, we shall
see the blue of their eyes in the blue of the violet, and the gold
of their hair in the gold of the daisies; that we shall hear their
voices in the songs of the robin, and that they will live for us
evermore, in all things beautiful.

And may the Great Father stretch His hands in infinite tenderness and
blessing over all bowed heads and darkened homes, and in benison over
all beds of suffering.

     July 25, 1868.

       *       *       *       *       *

Last summer, in those hot days, when the cruel weather killed the
birds, and flowers, and little children, I wrote to you of the death
of a little one, as fragile as the rose-bud she held in her little
waxen hand, and how the sunshine was extinguished in the house when
we carried her out and tenderly laid her away under the turf, on
which the golden and scarlet glories of autumn have fallen, the
storms of winter have beaten, and the promises of spring are now
brightening. There were with us, on that sad day, those to whom
Heaven had consigned a little one, and now the messenger has come for
it and taken it home again. In the mysterious dispensations of the
Great Father, it was ordained that the little life of the one should
flash out and expire like the light of the glow-worm; that the other
should wear his life slowly out through a weary year and pass away,
trying to fashion the words "Papa" and "Mamma" on his thin lips. The
one went when the birds went and the flowers were fading--when the
reapers were among the sheaves, and the golden glow of summer was
dissolving into the purple haze of autumn. She never saw the spring,
except in that land where the spring is eternal; just across that
River we sometimes hear in the mists of the Valley of the Shadow, and
shall some day see. The other went away when the birds were coming,
and the leaves were bursting into emerald bloom on the trees, and the
flowers were opening their cups to catch the sunshine and the rain.
And to-day, on this blessed Sabbath, the two are together again in
that far-off land which is brought so near to us when the little ones
go there.

     May 29, 1869.



_LAKE MICHIGAN._


I need not tell you of the general appearance of Lake Michigan. I
take it for granted everyone knows it, but how many have studied it
in its details, watched its rare combinations with the clouds, or
discovered the subtle changes and colors, all the time at work upon
its surface?

How many, for instance, have seen the Lake when it was apparently all
green--not its ordinary green, but a peculiar, light green which it
only wears on state occasions, and especially at this season of the
year? Your first glance leads you to suppose it is simply green, but
look steadily at it, and you will find that the green is suffused
with purple, giving a color which I do not think can be matched
elsewhere in nature. You may possibly find it in some of the endless
varieties of color in wild roses. This is the royal color of the
Lake, because the rarest. You may look for weeks and months and not
see it, for it requires a peculiar combination of cloud, and wind,
and sunlight to produce it. But if you are only patient, some day
it will flash upon you in all its beauty, and richly repay you for
waiting.

There are days, when the hour is about sunset, and a gentle
north-east wind is blowing, that the Lake is of a light green,
except a blue strip in the far north. The eastern horizon joins
the water by an almost indefinable white line, as if they had been
welded together, but all is vague and indistinct and vailed in a haze
into which a vessel here and there melts like a phantom. There is
hardly wind enough to form waves, but there is regular motion of the
water--as regular as the rhythm of music--and in the distance you
will see, now and then, a wave breaking white upon the shore, like
the white hand of some spent swimmer, clutching at the sand in mortal
agony. In the eastern sky, the lower strata of clouds are ragged
and angular in shape, and dark gray in color, and only afford you
glimpses, here and there, of the clouds above them, which are round
and billowy, and would be white but for the roseate glow with which
they are suffused by the sun, which is sinking into an angry bank
of clouds, such as Dore loves to paint, like a great crimson stain
upon the sky. Wherever the tips of these upper clouds appear, they
cast a faint reflection upon the green of the water, not producing
a duplicate of color, but bronzing the water in spots, which are
continually changing. Sometimes, for a moment, the lower clouds part,
and reveal a golden glory behind them, which, for only an instant,
illumines the water beneath. This is peculiarly the dreamy feeling
of the Lake. There is a dreamy tone in the wash of the waves. The
rhythm is perfectly uniform, and the key is in accord with melancholy
and tenderness. The flow is peaceful, only now and then you may hear
a tone in the hazy distance, a little louder than the rest, like a
drum-beat in a far-off orchestra. You may be so near the Lake that
the foam of the spent waves will crawl over your feet, and their
sound will still be dreamy, and apparently in the distance. It is
like nothing so much as the voices and the faces which come to you in
the night out of the Past. Its cadence is mournful and yet beautiful.
It is then the time to be alone, to cast yourself upon the sand
and listen to the stories of these waves--stories of the sailors
who sailed the Spanish main, and never came home again--of vessels
which went down, and left no one to tell the tale--of phantom ships,
which suddenly loom up before affrighted sailors in the darkness--of
storms, driving their black chariots over the deep--of Mermaids,
and Sirens, and Undines, luring on their victims to destruction,
with their white bosoms and voluptuous melodies--of the beautiful
fabrics you reared years ago--all gone, as the wave washes out the
print of your feet in the sands. And, as you lie there and dream,
the moon, yet silvery-gray in the early evening, passes behind a
cloud. The distant city is hidden by a curtain of gray mist--hidden,
with all its men and women, toiling, struggling, loving, cursing and
praying--hidden, with all its squat misery in the alleys and by-ways,
and with all its splendid wretchedness in the high places. All sounds
die away. The cruel mist creeps over the water, and you are alone
upon the sand, with only the melancholy moaning of the immemorial
waves, which will moan thus when you and I are gone--which have
moaned thus since the youth of the years.

Have you seen the Lake when thunder-storms are brooding all around
the horizon, and the wrath of the tempest is sweeping up from the
west, where, in thundering caverns, the Titans are forging the bolts?
You may, now and then, hear the clang of their hammers, and see the
fire from their anvils, what time gigantic masses of clouds, assuming
fantastic shapes and dark forms of demons, come tearing their way
to the zenith. In the east all is quiet, and the fleecy, cumulous
clouds, towering up like peaks of snow, and illuminated by the
waning sun, send straight pink shafts of light across the dull, blue
surface of the Lake. In the distance, this blue is changed to the
most delicate green. Watch it, and in a moment it will change to blue
again, and then again to green; and the shafts of pink light on its
surface will come and go like the blushes upon a girl's cheek. Never
mind the near approach of the storm. You cannot afford to lose the
Lake yet. As the black clouds gather in the east, the blues and the
greens disappear, and the Lake turns to black, reflecting the wrath
of the clouds above. The darts of the lightning descend into it, and
the crash of the thunder borne over its surface is almost deafening.
The sound of the waves dies away. Long, smooth, irregular patches
appear, looking as if the air had died above them. A few heavy spats
of rain strike here and there. A dense mist begins to settle down.
Faster and faster the rain-drops fall, and now the mad gods are all
abroad; and in the mists there, the lightnings are rending the bosom
of the Lake. But, in the midst of all the din, if you only listen
acutely, you will hear the steady patter of the rain in the water--a
soothing, tranquilizing sound; and in some dense forest, if you were
lying upon the needle-covered ground, you would hear exactly the same
sound made by the wind in the tree-tops. And now, if you could sleep
in some old-fashioned attic, without a care or a trouble in your
breast, where you could hear the rain playing its merry fantasie on
the shingles, you would sleep the most refreshing of all sleeps.

And then there are days when the heavens are cloudless, the
temperature cool, and the breeze blowing briskly and steadily from
the north, that the Lake is a very kaleidoscope of colors, and puts
on a habit it has borrowed from fairy-land. Start with the extreme
eastern limit, and you may trace nearly all the primitive colors of
the prism, with their variations at intervals--blue, light green,
grass-green, and the green of the waters in which the icebergs float,
light and dark bronze, silvery gray, pink and purple, and a dull,
dead gray color, close by you. Let but the breeze be strong enough
to comb the crest of the waves into foam, and a more beautiful sight
it would be impossible to conceive. These colors are not fixed. The
smallest cloud which passes over the sky will agitate and intermingle
them in a very chaos of beauty, but as the cloud disappears they will
return to their original order. Sometimes a larger cloud will hurry
across the sky, fleeing from its shadow, which skims over the lake,
as you have seen the same shadows skim over a meadow, and this shadow
will absorb color after color and leave a new one in its place, so
that the whole of them will often be reversed. In such seasons, the
lake is a perfect picture of life, with its phases of trouble, of
mirth, of youthful vivacity, of ambition, of hope, and of despair.
Your life and my life are there, with all the dreams we have dreamed
and the loves we have loved--with the bubbles which fancy has blown,
and the castles we have built in the air--with the ties which have
been formed and been broken--with the fates which have brought you
and me together, like ships upon the ocean, to meet for a minute
and hold converse, and then sail again and apart into the opposite
horizons; and yet always teaching the lesson that, in the darkest
moments, there is compensation in the great beauty and blessing of
nature, and that the Great Mother, who always clothes every material
wreck with loveliness, and makes it beautiful and sacred to the eye,
can also bring balm to every wrecked life, if we only approach her
with loving hearts and outstretched arms.

There is another aspect of the Lake, which I hope you will never see.
It is when the air is sultry and heavy with moisture; when a chill,
penetrating wind has settled down upon it, as in the late falls; when
you can see only a stone's throw from the shore; when the water is
of a dull, milky color, and its wash against the sand is sullen and
despondent, and there is not a pleasant sound or sight. The Lake then
is suicidal in its tendencies, and is deliberately inviting you or
Atropos to sever the thread in your web of life. Keep away from the
Lake at such times, for it is a very monster, and you can have no
good thoughts in its presence.

     August 1, 1868.



_RIP VAN WINKLE._


In this world of amusement in which we dwell, palpably the finest
piece of dramatic art is the "Rip Van Winkle" of Mr. Joseph
Jefferson. We are accustomed to compare the personations of other
actors. We establish degrees of merit in the efforts of Booth, Adams,
Couldock, and Forrest, in tragedy, and Warren, Hackett, Owens, and
Brougham in comedy. But when we come to Mr. Jefferson's "Rip,"
comparisons cease. It stands by itself, as sharply defined, as
superbly drawn, as the Venus di Medici in statuary, one of Raphael's
cartoons in painting, or Jenny Lind's Bird Song in music; and, if we
ransack the records of the stage, we find nothing to which we can
compare it.

For the reason that his personation belongs to an entirely new
school. It is the commencement of that dramatic era which Shakspeare
foreshadowed in his advice to the players. It is the dissolution
of that system against which Charles Lamb and Addison wrote so
powerfully in "Elia" and the "Spectator." I verily believe if
Charles Lamb had seen Jefferson's "Rip Van Winkle," although he was
denouncing such great artists as Garrick and Mrs. Siddons, he would
never have written that essay on the plays of Shakspeare; and that,
if Addison had seen it, the "Spectator" would have been minus some of
those sketchy papers on the playhouses. I believe that gentle soul,
Charles Lamb, would have taken his sister to see "Rip," and that they
would have talked to each other as no two ever talked before; that
great-hearted Addison would have taken off his hat and made his best
bow to him; that watery Sterne would have shed a Niagara of tears
over the simple narrative, and Steele would have gone and got drunk,
out of sheer inability to do justice to the subject in any other way.

Mr. Jefferson's personation is totally unlike anything on the
modern stage. Matilda Heron's "Camille," in her younger days,
approximated to it somewhat, but at present there is nothing that
resembles it on the stage. Mr. Jefferson has quietly ignored all
the rules, regulations and precedents of the stage. The stereotyped
stage-walk--a sort of comico-heroic strut, which has been pressed
into service for all sorts of characters, from "Harlequin" to
"Hamlet;" the stage gestures; the stage attitudes, which "Mrs.
Toodles," curtain-lecturing her intoxicated spouse, and "Lucrezia
Borgia," shielding "Genarro" from the "Duke," both assume; the
rolling of the eyes in a fine frenzy; the mouthing of phrases in a
set manner, to catch the praise of the groundlings; the hackneyed
entrances and exits; the rant, and the making of points, are all
foreign to Mr. Jefferson. With him, the stage is merely an accident
and no more essential to his personation than it was to Irving's
conception.

This school of acting which Mr. Jefferson has adopted is the very
highest form of dramatic art. In it, he realizes the truth of
the old adage, that it is the province of art to conceal art. _He
completely identifies himself with the character._ That is the secret
of his success--of his potent sway over the emotions of his auditors.
It is this faculty which enables him so to blend humor with pathos
that smiles follow tears in as quick succession as light follows
shadow over a field on a summer afternoon. It is, perhaps, impossible
for any person who has seen Booth to form any original conception
of Hamlet. He invariably connects Hamlet with Booth, and the result
is a theatrical Hamlet; and the poor Ghost always walks into our
memories with a theatrical stride, and smells of the calcium. So with
Couldock's "Luke Fielding," Charlotte Cushman's "Meg Merrilies,"
Forrest's "Coriolanus," or Burton's "Toodles." All these personations
were unusually fine, but the actors could not always merge themselves
in the characters, because there was always the partition of
theatrical necessities and precedents in the way. This is not the
case with Mr. Jefferson. We do not connect "Rip Van Winkle" with
Jefferson, but Jefferson with "Rip Van Winkle." The transformation
is complete. He acts, talks, walks, laughs, rejoices and mourns
just as "Rip Van Winkle" would have done--just as any human being
would have done in "Rip Van Winkle's" place. In looking at this
personation--and I own to having laughed and cried over it many
times--I never think of Jefferson. I never think of his art. I never
get "enthused" enough even to applaud, for I should never think of
applauding "Rip," were he alive and walking to-day the streets of the
village of Falling Waters. To me, there is no Jefferson on the stage,
but the magnificent creation of Irving, moving before me. And all
this is done without the show of art. Mr. Jefferson never talks above
the ordinary conversational tone of voice, uses only a few gestures,
and those of the simplest description, attempts no tricks of facial
expression, and makes less fuss than the veriest supernumerary on
the stage; and yet I question whether any living artist has such an
instantaneous command of the smiles and tears of an audience as he.

In fact, I confess I should be afraid of that man or woman who was
not affected by this personation. It has been my good or bad luck,
as the case may be, for many years past to have written on every
actor and actress who have come to this city, and to have witnessed
thousands of dramatic performances. Constant dropping of water wears
away the rock, and I confess until I saw Mr. Jefferson, I have looked
upon stage murders and all sorts of villainies with a large degree of
composure; have even smiled at the lachrymose Mrs. Haller, beloved
of young women, and have studied with all my might to discover the
fun in the stage situation at which the audience was laughing; and
instances are on record where I have slept the sleep of the just
all through a five-act tragedy, overrunning with murders, suicides,
rapes, burglaries, divorces and _crim. con._ enough to have started
a second Boston in business. And when I first went to see Mr.
Jefferson, I went all calloused with dramatic labor. But if that man
didn't have me laughing and crying alternately the whole evening,
then I'm a sinner.

The entire personation is so complete and individualized that it is
very difficult to select any particular scene as better than others,
for Mr. Jefferson is so thorough an artist that he neglects not
even the smallest detail. But there are two or three scenes which
seem to me to stand out more prominently than the rest. One in
particular is the episode where he is ordered to leave the house of
his wife. Most actors would have torn a passion to tatters at this
point, ranted and rushed round the stage, delivered mock heroics and
dashed off in an ecstasy of blue fire with their arms flourished in
the air, utterly forgetful of unities or proprieties. How different,
Jefferson! He is sitting upon a chair, partially turned from the
audience, in a maudlin state. His wife orders him to leave her house
and never return. Perhaps she has ordered him that way before, for
he pays little heed to it. She repeats the order in a louder tone
of voice, but still he pays no heed to it. He has stretched out his
arm and raised his head as if to speak, when she again issues her
order in an unmistakable manner. It strikes him like a thunder-bolt.
Without changing the position of a limb, he sits as if that instant
petrified. He is dumb with amazement, as the terrible truth gradually
becomes clear in his muddled brains. The silence, the motionlessness,
the fixed look of the face, are literally terrible. And when he rises
slowly, quietly tells the wife he shall never return--for he has been
driven away--stoops and kisses the little one, and so easily passes
from the doorstep to the outer darkness, that it might have been the
flitting of a shadow, you inevitably draw a breath of relief that the
scene is over, and indulge in a genuine feeling of the most hearty
sympathy for this good-for-nothing, lazy, drunken, good-hearted
vagabond.

Equally, can there be anything more affecting than the scene when,
after his sleep, he returns to his native village to find that
no one remembers him? Or anything more sadly eloquent than the
simple phrase, "Are we, then, so soon forgotten when we are gone?"
pronounced so simply and quietly, and with such a gentle vein of
sadness running through it? This appeal, which any other actor would
have thrust into the face of his audience as the place for "a point,"
Mr. Jefferson delivers so simply that you hardly at first catch
the full force of its meaning, or become aware how much of life is
summed up in the few simple words. It is a page out of real life,
only another proof of the folly of supposing that you or I are at all
essential to the rest of the world.

Mr. Jefferson's make up is very remarkable. He must have studied
the character with remarkable earnestness and closeness to draw it
so perfectly. Before the sleep, his face is a thorough picture of
the good-for-nothing vagabond who exists in every village and is
remarkable for nothing but his big heart, which draws to him all the
children and dogs of the neighborhood--a sure proof of the humanity
of the dog. In general I think that big dogs and small children are
the most perfect instances of thorough humanity in the world. A man
who has a big heart will always be recognized by a dog quicker than
by the two-legged humans. Equally, dogs and small children always
recognize each other. After the sleep, the picture of the old man is
just as perfect. In every detail of age--the pains in the joints, the
shambling gait, the wrinkled face and the childish expression--he
is the counterpart of old age. In neither phase of the character
does he ever forget himself. He is always "Rip Van Winkle." His
forgetfulness of the audience amounts almost to impudence, and he is
equally forgetful of the actors. Off the stage, Jefferson is the most
genial of men; like Yorick, full of jest and humor. On the stage, he
never forgets that he is playing a character. He is "Rip Van Winkle"
in front of the audience, behind the scenes, in the dressing room,
and in the _entr' actes_ even. He never lets himself down for an
instant from the necessities of the _role_ until the curtain falls on
the last act. He believes that an actor can never become too familiar
with a part, never study it too much, and the result is that he plays
just as conscientiously now, as he did when he commenced, and is
constantly making the personation better.

Another singular feature of Mr. Jefferson's acting, is, that he not
only makes "Rip Van Winkle" an actual living personage, but the dog
"Snyder" also. Although "Snyder" never puts in an appearance upon the
stage, he is as important a _dramatis persona_ as any on the stage.
I think I have a perfect conception of that dog "Snyder"--a long,
lank, shaggy, ill favored, yellow cur, loving "Rip" with all his
heart, hating "Mrs. Rip," a sworn friend of all the children in the
village, one ear bitten off in an unpleasantness with "Nick Vedder's"
mean bull dog, but with a big heart after all in his carcass, and a
dog who would always take the part of a small dog in a quarrel with a
bigger one. Jefferson succeeds in making "Snyder" an actual canine,
although he is never visible to the eye; and when "Snyder" goes
rattling down the hill, scared out of his senses by Hendrick Hudson's
phantom crew, I acknowledge to a feeling of sadness for the poor
beast who is "Rip's" only friend.

Although Mr. Jefferson never makes a point of theatrical attitudes
for mere effect, some of his poses are remarkably beautiful and
artistic, especially that one as he stands shading his eyes with his
hands, looking with amazement at the village of Falling Waters, after
waking up from his sleep; also the careless way in which he sits upon
the table in the first act, and the peculiar attitude in the chair
when he is ordered from the house, to which I have already alluded.
They are just such attitudes as a painter would choose to paint, or
a sculptor to chisel. They are thoroughly artistic, and much of this
is undoubtedly due to the fact that Mr. Jefferson has very excellent
talent in, and knowledge of, the sculptor's art. Had he followed it
as a profession he would undoubtedly have achieved an eminence quite
as elevated as that which he enjoys in the dramatic world.

If I have devoted considerable of this letter's space to Mr.
Jefferson, it is because his "Rip Van Winkle" is a production of
art worthy more than passing notice, in the presence of which, the
gauze and tinsel of the spectacular drama seem very tawdry, and mock
heroics of the sensational and romantic schools of action very false.
He stands the only embodiment of the natural school of action--the
only true school. Who will be the next to follow him, and assist to
reform and restore the stage to its proper place as a great educator
of the people and exponent of art?

     September 5, 1868.



_AN AUTUMN REVERIE._


It seems only a little handful of days ago that I was writing you
of the note of the little blue trumpeter, announcing from the bare
boughs the advent of Spring, and now the Autumn is here. And holding
the days in our hands like grains of sand, there was now and then a
golden one which you and I would have kept; but, alas! they, too,
slipped through our powerless fingers, and the gold in the sand was
but a dream within a dream.

I told Mignon the Fall was here, for our trees have commenced to lose
their yellowing leaves, and show here and there in their boughs,
hectic flushes, and harbingers of speedy dissolution.

But Mignon said that the flowers were still blossoming brightly in
the garden, and that there was some happiness yet.

But I replied: "It is only for a few days my dear. The great trees
are nearer the heart of nature and learn her secrets first. But
the flowers will soon feel the dying breath of the year, and,
smitten with the cruel arrows of the frost, will bow their heads in
recognition of the great mystery, and the dahlias, and the asters,
and the marigolds will strew the earth with the souvenirs of the
summer sunshine. Some of the shrubs, to be sure, will decorate
themselves with berries in a childish way, and the pines and
ever-greens, clad in sombre green, will stand moodily thinking of
their gay friends who have left them--bearing the winter's white
burden on their bent branches as the penalty of life in death,
condemned to live forever, like Ahasuerus, with the recollection of
numberless summers and companions--strong, firm and inflexible, to
bear the storms of winter, but without a leaf which may stir next
spring in glad recognition of the breezes and the birds coming back
again.

"The birds, too, have learned the mystery, and have flown, all save
the brown sparrow, and other sober, songless little fellows, who know
that they have no business here when the flowers are in bloom, and
little winged bunches of blue and crimson and gold, are filling all
the air with their trills and roulades. You may listen very earnestly
now, and you will only hear in the day a chirp from the cricket,
that little black undertaker of the insects, who tries to be very
cheerful, but only succeeds in being sad."

And I further said to Mignon: "These latter days of the year are
akin to music, which is only music when there runs through it a
vein of melancholy--a melancholy like Tennyson's 'tender grace of
a day that's dead'--not sorrow nor grief, but that indefinable
sadness which is to sorrow what the twilight is to the blackness
of darkness. But we will make these days the happiest, for believe
me, the chattering bobolink is not as happy as the sparrow, nor the
shrill, noisy, cicada as happy as the chirping cricket; and the
truest happiness will be found in those lives which are shadowed with
regrets, or veined with melancholy memories to which hope's tendrils
may cling."

     September 19, 1868.



_THE BEST WOMAN IN THE WORLD._


I think old women--I don't quite like the word "lady," because it
don't mean anything now-a-days--are the most beautiful and lovable
things in the world. They are so near heaven that they catch the glow
and the brightness which radiate from the pearly gates and illuminate
their faces. When the hair begins to silver, and the embers in the
fire grow gray and cold, and the sun has got so far around in life's
horizon that the present makes no shadow, while the past stretches
down the hillside to a little mound of earth, where we will rest for
a season--a little mound not big enough to hold our corner lots, and
marble fronts, and safes, which we shall have to leave on the other
side of the hill, but big enough, I trust, to hold our memories, and
fancies, our air castles and secrets; and when the journey is nearly
done, and the night is setting in, and the darkness begins to gather
around us without any stars, and the birds sing low in the trees, and
the flowers wither and die, and the music we hear comes from afar,
strangely sweet, like sounds coming over the water, and like little
children we live in ourselves, and the world gradually recedes from
us--then I should like to be an old woman, full of blessed memories
and peaceful anticipations.

I think I know the best woman in the world, and I think every other
man knows her. I think the one I know has the kindest heart, and
the dearest face, and the most caressing hand, and the most undying
devotion among all women. Her eyes were once to me the boundaries of
the world, and were the first things I ever looked into, and pray
Heaven they may also be the last I shall look into. And I think the
best woman every other man knows has all these qualities in the same
degree. And I think there is not one of us who has strayed so far
from that woman--the best of all women--not one of us so calloused
with the strife and toil of life, not one of us in the midst of
difficulty and danger, who does not feel the invisible arms around
him to shield him, and who does not long to go back to the arms and
the love of that woman, and to rest, as we rested before our feet got
into the flinty roads, upon the breast of our MOTHER.

     October 3, 1868.



_THE SCHOOL HOUSE._


In the round of my daily walks, it is my pleasure to pass a
school-house, and I try to arrange my walks that I may happen to
be there when school is opening and closing. The little men and
women who compose the miniature world in the schoolyard, and make
sunlight for me, undoubtedly have no idea of the great pleasure they
afford me, or how rapidly my thoughts, under the magic influence
of their bright eyes, lithe forms, and merry games, go back into
the past, the morning-red of life, when the beautiful glamor of
morning brightened every object it touched; when the flowers bloomed
perennially; when the birds sang the sweetest of melodies; and
when the brooks went laughing and dancing over the pebbles, full
soon to broaden into sad, serene rivers, too soon to be hurled and
beaten against the grey crags in eternal unrest; and forward, into
the future, a hazy, twilight land, full of indefinable shapes and
perplexing uncertainties. And yet, as our shadows lengthen in the
journey towards it, there is always one certainty: that we shall find
there, those who have gone before. Some who traveled the whole weary
journey, and arrived footsore and travel-stained, and some who never
became old, and were spared the toilsome journey, because the angels
loved them better than we and better than us.

And I think, as I watch those children at play, how many unseen
agencies are at work around them--of avarice which will corrode and
blacken this young life, and of charity which will make that young
life beautiful; of ambition, which some day with its trumpet blasts
will wake this thoughtful one into action, and make the world wonder
at him; of love, which will make this one's pathway smooth, thinking
of what is; which will interlace cypress in the myrtle, thinking of
what might have been; which will darken all God's Heaven for this
one, thinking of what never should have been; of fame which will send
the name of this one sounding round the world; of skill which will
enable this one to see and know the very heart of nature; of misery
which will follow this one like a Mephistophiles; and of despair,
which never stops short of the grave.

And all this time, as I watch these children, chasing each other at
play, as the yellow skeletons of the leaves chase each other in the
wind in these memorial mornings, the fates sit spinning in the air
above them, and weaving the tangled web of their destinies, some
of them all white, some with here and there a black thread, while
Atropos sits by with her fatal shears, which will sever this thread
too soon and that too late.

It is only a few days, and this chase in the schoolyard will be
transferred into life, where no walls will hem them in, and away they
will go to the four winds of Heaven, and another set will take their
places as they took ours. Ours! Do you remember anything about those
days in the midst of your invoices and bills of lading, your Berlin
wools and Grecian Bends, and somebody coming home to tea and nothing
in the house to eat? Do you remember the little red school-house on
the hill, with poplar trees in front of it, that you used to think
almost touched the sky? Do you remember the school mistress, with her
pale face and sweet smile, and her little blue ribbon, now sleeping
under the flowers, for school's out forever, and she has a long
vacation? Do you remember the little girl in white apron and blue
gown, with blue eyes and golden curls, whose satchel you carried up
the hill, and whose name you cut into the bark of the apple-trees,
vowing an eternal constancy--an eternity which lasted until the
apple-trees lost the last of their pink-and-white blossoms? Do you
remember the swallows which twittered round the eaves of the school
house all the spring and summer, and suddenly one bright morning all
left together, scared by a little brown bird, who came from the far
north, and told them a story of something coming, which made them
all shiver? And when that something came, do you remember the old
box stove piled up with logs, and the snow-houses, and the nuts and
cider, and the forfeits at the parties, especially that one where you
carried the pillow to the girl with black hair, instead of little
Gold Curls, not being on speaking terms with her, and the school
mistress, with cheeks paler, and eyes brighter than ever, and flushes
in the face which came and went like lightnings in the western sky
in summer eves, for the little brown bird did not warn her that she
ought to go with the swallows? You remember that when the swallows
came back one sunny morning in the next May, they did not find the
school-mistress, for she went away with the brown bird.

If you don't remember any of these things, I pity you, for the
friction of life must have worn you quite smooth, and the outlook
must be very dreary.

     October 11, 1868.



_A NEW LIFE._


In these latter days of the year, so full of melancholy, it occurs
to me that we do not altogether die when we shuffle off this mortal
coil. Is not physical death only a change to vegetable birth? We are
born, we mature, flourish, and decay, and are laid away in the mould,
only to reappear in the flower, the shrub, and the tree. That little
child whom you buried when the leaves were falling, as you weep over
its grave, in the bright springtime, when the leaves are repeating
the miracle of the new creation, may look at you out of the golden
petals of the dandelion and the butter-cup. There may be remembrance
for you in the leaves of the shrub at the headstone, as they are
ruffled by the breeze. There may be the _souvenir_ of a familiar
smile in the tremor of a daisy.

The generations of men come and go, but their life is not all gone.
Life does not cease to exist. It is eternal in its revolutions,
its changes, and its new forms. Down under the sod this active
principle of life is still at work. Mysterious chemical processes
are operating in that silent darkness. The old life shoots up in
the grasses. All the lives, and loves, and passions of long ago
blossom in the flowers. The life you once knew is giving strength
to the sturdy trunks of trees. It flows through the veins of the
branches with the sap, and gives color to the leaves. In mythology,
the Fauns and Dryads, Naiads and Hamadryads, typified this idea to
a certain extent, and were the most beautiful creatures of that
beautiful mythology--so beautiful, indeed, that I am heretic enough
to acknowledge I would like to have known all those dear divine
creatures, so full of good, old-fashioned mortal failings; to have
sipped nectar from Hebe's cup, and lunched on ambrosia with the
Thunder Bearer himself; to have gone to the opera with Apollo,
flirted with the naughty Venus, philosophized with Minerva, taken tea
with Juno, and had one roaring old supper with Bacchus.

Thus there are whole races of men in the boundless forests, and
friends of yours and mine in the flowers. It seems to me a very
pleasant thought to believe that those whom we have loved, and
whose lives were so beautiful and graceful, are still growing in
the beauty of the flowers, and the grace of the vines; that those
whose lives were bad and ungracious, yet exist in the nightshade and
hemlock; that those whose lives never blossomed in the shadow of
great misfortunes, still live for us in those flowerless plants whose
leaves are full of perfume; that Nero is in the Upas, and Marat is in
the dogwood.

It is a pleasant fancy to me to think that some friend whom I love
will not altogether die, but will live in a rose; that I shall see
the red of her cheeks in its petals, and that her grace will continue
in its form; that the fragrance of her memory will come to me in the
fragrance of its perfume, and that the tears which have stood in her
eyes will be forever sacred in the dew drops on its leaves.

There are strong, upright, and sturdy lives, which live again in
the firs and pines, which are proof against all storms, and are
green when all others are bare and sere; there are far-reaching,
all-embracing lives, which live again in the umbrageous oaks; there
are lives, which were warped in childhood, which live again in
the crooked, gnarled trunks; there are lives full of the gall of
bitterness, which never sweeten in the crab and wormwood; there are
graceful lives, which curve and undulate in the vines; there are
black lives which grow blacker in the poisonous plants, and the birds
avoid the vegetable life as the children avoided the human, for birds
and children are very much alike; and I think sometimes that the
souls of the musicians are still sentient in the murmuring waves of
the sea, and in the diapason of the wind-swept pines.

     November 14, 1868.



_OLD BLOBBS--HIS SPEECH._


Fitz-Herbert happened in this morning, and was lounging against
the mantel, trying to look interesting. Old Blobbs was very much
disgusted with the fellow, and begged to be allowed to have his say.
So I yielded the floor to him.

And Old Blobbs' screed ran somewhat as follows: "I think it is every
woman's duty to look as pretty as she can, and, so long as she
doesn't carry fashion to an extreme and commit the mistake of making
herself ridiculous, she is excusable. I don't see any particular
necessity in a young man's looking pretty. In fact, it has been
my experience that when a young man does try to look pretty, he
generally succeeds in making an ass of himself. It should be the duty
of every man to do something before he dies of which he may be proud,
and which may be of some benefit to the world or to the individual,
so that when he gets up to the gates, and St. Peter questions his
right to come in, he may have something to show for himself. I think
a young man who is merely a walking advertisement for his tailor
and barber, and who has degenerated into a fashionable dawdler, is
in a poor way to accomplish anything for _himself_, let alone the
world. And I furthermore think that if I were St. Peter, and such
a specimen came before me, I would lift my blessed angelic foot and
send him flying into Chaos, without asking to see his credentials at
all. A small, black-backed beetle, pushing his lump of dirt before
him, is praising God more with those busy legs of his, fulfilling
the duty which God gave him to do, and conferring more benefit upon
mankind in general, than an army of fashionable dawdling young men,
the energy of whose enormous natures is mainly confined to murdering
King's English, and endangering the integrity of looking-glasses.
And when this fashionable young man lets his fashion run him into
fashionable expenditure, there isn't a fashionable young woman in
the city who can keep up with him. If he cannot have his Grecian
Bend, he can have his benders, which, if not so Grecian, are vastly
more expensive. Dress, dinners, fast horses, betting, gambling, and
the elegant vices which follow in their train, are ten thousand fold
worse than all the pleasant little sillinesses of which Araminta may
be guilty. The extremely fashionable young woman is pitiable, but she
is only trying to make herself look handsome, and that is the object
of her life; but the extremely fashionable young man is disgusting,
because he has no right to look pretty, and is simply squandering
away opportunities he has no right to waste."

Old Blobbs, as is his wont, grew excited as he talked, and, bringing
his fist down upon the table with a vim which made the glasses fairly
dance in their fright, and sent the condiments of the castor and the
contents of the sugar bowl into promiscuous ruin, added: "Yes sir! a
man with nothing to do but to entertain himself and exhibit himself
to society, is the most contemptible object on God's footstool, and
the sooner he gets off from it, and makes room for somebody else, the
better." And here he grew slightly personal, and very red as to the
face. "Yes sir! You, Mr. Fitz-Herbert, holding up the mantel-piece!
You think you are of some importance in the world, and yet I will
wager that your direst responsibility to-day will be the parting of
your back hair. I will wager that you never had an opinion in your
life of more consequence than the relative merits of Macassar and
Ursine! I will wager that you are not capable of feeling any distress
keener than the anxiety of a doubt relative to the exact condition of
your neck-tie. I will wager that Timothy Maloney, scraping dirt on
the avenue to-day, although he may get drunk to-night and beat his
wife, like the brute that he is, is of more service to the world than
you are. That is my opinion of you, Mr. Fitz-what's-your-name, and if
an opinion on any conceivable subject can be of any service to you,
you are heartily welcome to it, sir. I repeat it, welcome to it, sir."

I think Fitz-Herbert got an idea through his head that Old Blobbs was
talking about him, for he actually took his tooth-pick out of his
mouth and himself out of the room.

     December 5, 1868.



_DEATH OF THE MAIDEN AUNT._


A little black-bordered billet reached us yesterday, and a cloud has
settled down upon all of us, for it brought the news of the death of
the Maiden Aunt.

She died in the night, by the side of the sea, which she always
loved, and the last sounds she heard were its waves moaning on the
beach, as her own life ebbed away on the strand of death; and, after
that, such music as Raphael's St. Cecilia would sing, or the angels
who hover around his Madonnas.

She died by the side of the church-yard, in which for thirty years
the daisies have bloomed over him, to whom she promised always to be
loyal, and for whom she always wore the forget-me-not in the silken
floss of her hair, in eternal remembrance. The forget-me-not is now
quite withered, for memory has blossomed into realization, and hope
is lost in possession, and the snow now covers them side by side
here, and, for all that, they are side by side There.

Her life was so hidden from the world, that few knew her except the
children and the house-dog, and some birds which were pets, and they
mourn her loss. The children miss her, and it is something to be
missed by the children, for it shows that however the body may have
been tossed about and weather-beaten in the tempest of life, the soul
has preserved itself in the repose of childhood. The dog misses her,
and goes about the house moaning, and stirs uneasily in his sleep as
if dreaming of her, just as Florence Dombey's dog did, in her and
his first sorrow. And it is something to be missed by a dog, for it
argues a great deal of humanity. The birds miss her, and have ceased
their songs; and it is something to be missed by the birds, for no
ungracious souls care for them or their songs.

The heavens were mantled with grey, and the air was full of snow,
and the black harbor waves moaned on the bar like a knell, when
they buried her by the side of him who took away all her sunshine
when he died, and left her life in the shadow. She sent some little
remembrances to us--a curl of her hair to Aurelia; a bit of blue
ribbon, full of memories, to Celeste; a turquoise ring, which he had
worn, to Blanche; and the faded forget-me-not to Mignon. For the
Maiden Aunt was rich only in memories.

She did not die like a saint, for she was not a saint; neither like
a sinner, for she was not a sinner; but like a true woman, full of
courage and dignity, contented to cross the River, because she knew
she would find him waiting for her on the other side, and wherever he
went she would go.

The Maiden Aunt always regarded human nature as something very sacred
and sublime, and she regulated herself by that regard. I remember she
used to tell me that she believed there was no nature so bad, but
that it had a chord which would vibrate to goodness, provided the
finger was skilled to find and touch that chord; and that there was
no soul so barren, but that somewhere in it a flower was blooming.
She did not believe that the divine spark which God implanted in
each nature could ever be utterly quenched, however its light might
be concealed in life's confusion and chaos. She had faith in His
omnipotence.

She had her faults and her frailties, which proved her humanity.
She was intensely human. The dead were to her as the living, and he
who had gone before her, I think was always with her. He was only
absent on a journey, and would send for her when the time came, and
she waited in patience. Her knowledge, like the knowledge of the
most of us, was bounded by this life; and she used to say that,
when her thoughts reached that boundary where knowledge ceased, her
thoughts ceased also. Consequently, she gave her work to this life,
and her love to him, whom she kept in this life, although absent;
and, notwithstanding all her faults and her frailties, I think, in
the presence of the great sorrow which had eclipsed her inward being,
the angels at the Celestial Gate did not question her--for the faults
and the frailties were of the body, and under the snow with his, and
never soiled the spirit, which had been sanctified and purified by
the grief which she had carried as a burden at her heart. I think
the angels recognized her at once, as they recognized the Beatrices
who died--the one in glory, the other in agony--or that Irmgard, who
found repose on the Heights.

Our lives are twofold. There is the active, every-day life in
ourselves, and the life which we live in sleep, and is made up of
the tangled web of dreams. One of her lives was in herself, hidden
to the outward gaze, and yet manifesting its presence in a thousand
graceful ways. The other, which no one ever saw or knew but herself,
went even beyond the realm of dreams, and in the place left vacant in
her heart, by the absence of that life, there was eternal snow.

What was beautiful a thousand years ago, is beautiful now, and if
there were saints a thousand years ago, there must be saints now,
although their record may be unchronicled, save in some human heart.
I think the Maiden Aunt was as worthy of canonization as Ursula or
Agatha, and that in this common, homely human life, there are many
worthy of it, whose saintliness will not be known until that day
when we are all brought upon a common level. The homeliest humanity
is full of contests as fierce as those Tamerlane waged; full of
deeds as glorious as those achieved by the gods and demigods we set
up for worship. They are never known to the world, for they have no
historians or singers to chronicle them, but when they come to be
known as they will be one day, we shall be surprised to find that
they were the real victors.

     December 12, 1868.



_THE NEW YEAR._


I suppose this old world will revolve about its axis in 1869, just
as it did in 1868, and that we shall revolve with it just the same.
I suppose we shall go on loving, hating, praying, cursing, marrying,
dying, and doing foolish things in the new, as we did in the old;
that Old Midas and Gunnybags will chase the Almighty Dollar just
as hard, and swindle just as much; that Mrs. Blobbs will continue
to lecture Old Blobbs on the proprieties, and that Old Blobbs will
continue to grow worse and worse; that Aurelia will have another baby
in the new year just as she did in the old, and will think there
never was such a baby born before; that Celeste will continue to do
foolish things, and be the most delightfully wicked little creature
in the world, for she is just wicked enough to be completely good;
that Fitz-Herbert will make an ass of himself next year as he did
this; that Mignon will be just as sweet and lovely, and keep all the
rest of us in sunshine, and that Blanche will still search for the
lost melody in her life.

In general, I suppose, men and women will do in the new year just as
they did in the last, and will continue to air their vices in the
courts as if they were of any interest to other people who have
vices of their own, which are a great deal more interesting, and
boasting their virtues, when everybody knows that under the cuticle
they are just as shabby as the rest of the world. This is the one
grand mistake which people make, viz: To suppose their virtues or
their vices are of any earthly interest to other people.

As a general rule, you are only essential to yourself, and the man
who takes off your boots, and puts on your coat, or the young woman
who does up your coiffure, and looks after your toilet, and knows
you best, will tell you this. Some people succeed in making heroes
of themselves, and are worshipped by some other people, but they are
never heroes to those who know them best. Strip your hero of his
decorations, bid him come down from his pedestal, undress him, and
stand him up by the side of Terence Maloney, and you can't tell one
from the other.

You see the whole thing is conventional.

So I suppose the sun will rise and set, and the world go on just the
same, until suddenly it stops going, for you and for me, and we shall
go out of it like gentlemen, I trust.

We shall make the usual number of resolutions, I suppose, on New
Year's Day, and break them before the next with our usual success.
We shall firmly persuade ourselves next Friday morning that we are
hereafter to be models of goodness, and pinks of propriety. We shall
appropriate to ourselves the most of virtue and decency in the world,
and set examples for the rest of mankind. We shall all be shining
instances of temperance and godliness. We shall confine ourselves
to a proper use of King's English. We shall attend upon Parson
Primrose's ministrations twice each Sunday. We shall no longer ruin
the characters of others with our idle, foolish gossip. We shall
take off our masks and wear our souls upon our sleeves. And before
the year is over, there isn't one of us who will do anything of the
kind. Our cemeteries, next New Year's Day, will be just as full of
head-stones set up to mark where our broken resolutions _lie_, as
they have ever been.

And a hundred years hence, it is extremely doubtful whether any one
will care for our resolutions, whether they were kept or broken, or
for us, whether we have lived or died. But I suppose, for all that,
it will be necessary for us, during the coming year, to conceive that
we are of some importance, and that the curious looker-on in Jupiter,
and the Man in the Moon, will wonder what we are all doing on our
ant-hills, and why we are making such a fuss.

And I suppose when you and I retire from the stage, and the curtain
comes down on the little farce we have been playing, that the great
audience will not go home, nor the manager close up the theatre, but
that other actors will step into our buskins, and thus the play will
be kept up, and men will laugh, and women will weep, and others will
love and hate, and do brave deeds and naughty deeds, although the
call-boy may never summon us again behind the lights.

Now, I might go on from this point and preach you a sermon, as my
brethren in the pulpit will do, upon the brevity of time and the
stern realities of life, but I am not going to do anything of the
kind. Life is not measured by years, nor by flight of time. He lives
most who loves most, and lives longest who appreciates what is best.
Some men live longer in a year than others in a lifetime.

     December 26, 1868.



_PUBLIC PARTIES._


At breakfast, this morning, our first topic of conversation was
on the matter of parties. It has been, as you know, a great party
week, and Old Blobbs, in a casual kind of way, desired to know my
opinion of them. Celeste looked a little uneasy at this request, for
there is nothing that so delights that Dear Child as a party crush,
and nothing is sweeter to her than the fine disorder of her green
silk, after young Gauche has emptied his sherry over it, or old Mrs.
Dalrymple, who is _chaperoning_ her two nieces to the marital market,
has spilled a plate of escalloped oysters upon it, and that overgrown
boy of the Midases, who is out for the first time, has trodden them
in and disturbed the integrity of the _panier_ besides. She regards
all these things as the veteran does his scars, and loves to talk of
them in her "confidences" to her two-and-forty dear young friends,
who have just bobbed in after dinner to say "How do you do?" and
inquire if it was really true, that bit of scandal about Matilda
So-and-So and young Codliver. The company immediately pushed their
chairs back. Mignon called the Canary from his cage for its morning
meal, and as it flew to its customary place upon her shoulder, and
watched with its sharp little black eyes the bread which was being
crumbled for it, I thought I would rather talk about those two
birds than parties. Blanche sat with her fine eyes half closed, as
dear old Rossini used to sit at his table, and listened in a dreamy
sort of way. Aurelia had all she could do to keep the baby still by
threatening it with her shapely fore-finger, while Old Blobbs took
his fifth baked potato, a feat in gormandizing which incurred a
glance from Mrs. Blobbs that would have withered any other person and
caused a rustle of her black silk (for Mrs. B. _will_ wear her black
silk to breakfast), eloquent with promises of something between the
curtains which would not be as soothing as a lullaby nor as delicious
as a love-song.

And I spoke somewhat after the following manner: Some time ago I did
myself the pleasure to give you my opinion of fashionable public
weddings. Upon that occasion, you will remember that my principal
objection to those weddings, was the fact that people mistake
vulgarity for elegance. The same fatal mistake applies to public
parties, as they are usually given; where genuine elegance becomes
impossible, and there are no opportunities offered for the display of
taste.

You all well know that party giving, at present, is a mere
competition. Mrs. So-and-So issues her cards for two hundred.
Mrs. This-and-That immediately sends out three hundred, and Mrs.
Whether-or-No, at her party, increases her list to five hundred,
and so on. Now, I have no hesitation in pronouncing this simple
vulgarity. You cannot make miscellaneous herding elegant. In the
first place the social element is killed. To claim that you have
five hundred friends is simply stupid. To claim that you have fifty
is susceptible of doubt. If you have five, you are much better
off. Your five hundred people are, then, merely acquaintances. In
the race to get ahead of some one else, you have invited scores of
people you don't care a straw for, scores of others who don't care a
straw for you, scores of boobies and simpletons, and when you have
herded and packed them together, in a house not capable of holding
one-fourth that number comfortably, you have simply made a vulgar
crush, where no one knows his neighbor, and where mutual acquaintance
is impossible, because, however peripatetic you may be in principle,
you are stationary in fact. To make such an affair elegant, is in
the nature of things impossible. Mere show, noise, glitter, gilt,
gingerbread, and gew-gaw, are not elegance. Taste cannot be exercised
among, nor appreciated by a genteel mob. In forms of art, in matters
of taste and true elegance, there must be the element of repose.
It is indispensable to perfection. A gathering of people without
any conditions of age, character, or quality, literally packed
into a space so small, that locomotion becomes impossible; a table
which your restaurateur can't make a success, owing to this fact;
an intellectual atmosphere, surcharged only with the small gossip
and twaddle of the hour; an utter absence of culture, which alone
could impart the repose of true elegance; a meretricious display of
glitter, and no true gold; a feasting which is only gormandizing--for
in such a miscellaneous gathering you cannot keep out the gluttons;
an absence of all true courtesy, because it is impossible to exercise
it in the crush; an occasion which does not offer a single inducement
for attendance, in the way of art, music, literature, or the best
forms of social intercourse--is all that you have accomplished.

Was it worth accomplishing? You know it was not, my dear madame, as
well as I. You know that when you wake up the next morning, you are
utterly disgusted with the whole affair, and that there is not a
single element of gratification in remembering it, except the empty
honor of beating Mrs. So-and-So. You know that nine-tenths of those
who were present did not enjoy a single minute of comfort, and look
back upon your party as a bore, while the happy ones are those whose
regrets lie upon your table.

And all this, simply because it was vulgar--not vulgar as meaning
immoral or low, but as meaning silly and common. You have made your
house too common. No party can be a success, in the best sense of
the word, in which there is not some discrimination used in inviting
your guests. You should always arrange, if possible, to bring
people together of similar tastes, and then have some central point
to hold them together. If you _must_ invite five hundred people,
you had better make five parties of one hundred each, carefully
discriminating, so that your guests may enjoy themselves, than to
herd the whole five hundred into one, and thus make a mere rush,
scramble, crush and guzzle of it, and transform your house into
a menagerie. I am glad to know that this view is not confined to
myself, but that in good society, (not the "best" society, for that
is almost always the worst), the home parties are included in small
soirees of a distinctive character, in which there is ample room for
the display of cultivated and artistic elegance, admission to which
is deemed an honor.

But do not forget above all, that when a thing becomes
miscellaneous, it becomes vulgar, and that judicious exclusiveness
and cultured repose are absolutely essential to true elegance. The
most delicate rose in the garden planted among hollyhocks, and
sunflowers, and weeds, loses all its beauty and fragrance.

Old Blobbs had finished his potato, and was far advanced upon his
sixth, when I concluded. He heartily agreed with me, although Celeste
was pouting her pretty lips, and said that he desired to make a few
remarks also, whereupon Mignon commenced teasing the Canary with a
geranium leaf from our breakfast bouquet, and Mrs. Blobbs suddenly
excused herself, which did not, however, deter Blobbs from saying his
say.

     January 10, 1869.



_AURELIA'S BABY._


It is necessary I should say something about Aurelia's Baby, for it
is the only baby in the whole world. At least Aurelia thinks so--just
as any other mother thinks.

I suppose there never was a baby born into this vale of tears,
that its mother did not suppose to be the only baby in the world.
I suppose those poor women who were the mothers of Nero, Richard,
Elizabeth, Robespierre, Marat, and the latest murderer who has
expiated his villainies on the gallows-tree, thought the same thing,
equally with the mothers of all good and blessed people. I see no
good reason why they should not, for the birth of the first baby
revolutionizes the world. The mother passes into a new sphere of
being, illumined by other suns and stars, in which other flowers
blossom and other birds sing, and the only inhabitants of which
are she and the baby. All her great love centres in the baby, and
where all her love centres, of course, there is her world. The whole
world of the baby is limited by the boundaries of its mother's eyes.
You may have noticed a baby lying in its nurse's arms, looking up
into the sky with wide-staring, vacant eyes and blank face. It
has no more intelligence in its face than a small kitten or any
other sucking possibility. In the arms of a nurse, all babies are
alike--merely breathing bits of blank vacancy--apple-dumplings,
with plums for eyes, and stuffed with colic. But, change the scene,
and place the baby in the arms of its mother, and, somehow, by some
strange necromancy that passes between the two, some subtle link
of affinity, that baby's face lights up with intelligence and its
little white soul looks out of the eyes as it recognizes its world
in the calm, holy eyes of the mother; for I think every mother's
eyes, from Aurelia's to some wild Indian mother's, crooning strange
weird lullabies under tropic palms, to her first born, are saintly
when they gaze into the sweet face of the first baby. And I believe
that the angels do not know such a love as exists between those two
mortals.

Which reminds me to say that I think Eve's baby, which she named
Cain, had the advantage of Aurelia's baby in some respects. The
chronicles of that day do not show that the baby Cain was obliged to
take soothing syrup, squills, or paregoric. There is no proof that
the angels smiled at him or talked to him in his sleep, as they do to
modern babies through the medium of colic. Cain could wander about
at his own sweet will, without any danger of catching the whooping
cough, measles, chicken-pox or any other of the contagious infantile
necessities which have been imposed upon all coming babies by his
mother's exploits in stealing and eating apples. Adam did not have to
walk the floor o' nights, have his whiskers pulled out by the roots,
or buy rattles and india-rubber rings. There isn't a line on record
to show that the infantile Cain suffered from pins sticking into his
blessed little legs and arms. I do not suppose that the old ladies
of the neighborhood came in every day or so, and scared Eve's life
out of her, by conjuring up all sorts of diseases, with all sorts of
remedies and cheerful predictions that Cain would die young, although
I think it would have been better for Cain if he had. Holy Writ does
not show, again, that Cain was entrusted in his marsupial days, to
the care of that curious compound of a gin bottle and a baby-tender,
who has a profound contempt for the mother, knows more than all the
rest of the world combined, and looks upon a physician as a foe to
the human race. I do not suppose Cain was kissed within an inch of
his life by prospective young mothers and youthful females, who have
graduated from the doll stage of their existence, nor that he was
rigged up in bib, pinafore, and ribbon, until he was purple in the
face, with the point of one very sharp pin inserted into the end of
his back, and placed on exhibition in a state of squalls and general
disgust consequent upon the aforesaid point, which he could feel,
if he couldn't see. The youthful Cain was not made the victim of
the maternal meetings, and crammed with Watts' hymns, and chapters
of the Bible before he was into his fig-leaf breeches--and right
here, I suppose somebody will say he would have turned out better
if he had been brought up in this manner, to which I might retort
with the fact that Abel was not subjected to the cramming process
either. Cain never bumped his precious little head by falling out of
his crib. He could not fall out of the cradle of the beautiful white
arms of the first mother, which encircled him with their zone of
love, and which, I warrant you, yearned for him even when he wandered
through the earth, with the brand upon his brow, and the stain upon
his heart, and our common mother mourned in the depths of a triple
agony. And it is to be recorded as one of the incidents of his early
days, that Eve was a healthy woman, and he was not brought up on
chalk and water, and did not ruin his small stomach with candy and
sweetmeats, presented by injudicious, but kindly disposed people,
whose generosity was only equalled by their stupidity.

I am getting away from Aurelia's baby somewhat, but there are still
some analogies between Aurelia and Eve untouched upon, and, as I am
writing this screed I will be obliged to you if you do not interrupt
me again, but leave me to say my say in my own manner. I candidly
confess to you that I don't know where this baby business will take
me, or when I shall get through talking about it, but just at present
I prefer to let the subject take me along at will. I had rather trust
myself to babies, than some grown people who insist upon interruption.

After this necessary parenthetical defence of my rights, I may say
that although the youthful Cain turned out very badly, I do not
suppose that Eve--as she sat under the pleasant trees of Eden, and
watched the little Cain playing in the flowers, while all the birds,
as yet unharmed by man, came and sang to her--ever thought her
first-born would be a murderer, or ever saw anything in his face, as
he lay upon her bosom, but love and joy. For the good God never made
anything ugly or bad. All that comes from his hand is perfect and
beautiful. No human being, do I sincerely believe, is born absolutely
ugly. The ugly man has made himself ugly. The ugly woman is at fault
herself.

And as Aurelia sits looking into the eyes of her baby, I do not think
she ever dreams of what may be in store for it in the coming days.
Her whole world is in the present. But as I watch them, smoking my
cigar, I cannot help seeing visions in the smoke, and I sometimes
shudder as I think that the sweet blue eyes may lose all their light
of beauty, and purity, and innocence, and burn with the fierce flame
of passion, or be dimmed with the mists of misery, or darkened with
the night of anguish through which she may have to pass; that the
little soft pink-and-white feet may have to travel and bleed on
the flinty roads to which they are all unused, and that, weary and
travel-worn, soiled and dusty, they may find no resting place this
side of Heaven, save in the long rest under the flowers; that the
tiny hands which now grasp at the world, as if they would clutch it
all in the little fists, may full soon fold themselves, tired with
the conflict, may grasp another only to be deceived, only to wither
and waste away, only to be crossed above a cold, silent heart, with
a flower in their marble fingers, may know cruel grasps of parting,
and heart-ache, may do the deed which shall dishonor the sweet
mother-hand which must too soon cease to guide, and must let go the
hold which it would fain keep forever.

And in all the great joy in her eyes, I see no traces of a shadow
which may come into the house; no fear that some day the sun will
not shine for her, and the stars be darkened in the cruel heavens;
that the baby which but yesterday filled all the home with the
light of her eyes and the silvery music of her voice, will be lying
cold and still in the chamber overhead; that the little waxen face
moulded into a moment's unearthly beauty, by that cunning sculptor,
Death, will cease to respond to her; that the white and green of the
cross and the crown, and the half opened rose-bud, no whiter than
the fingers holding it, will be the only souvenirs of her whom the
jealous angels carried away in the night watches, because she was
fairer than they. I think sometimes of these things as I sit watching
them, but I know that she does not, and I pray Heaven to avert the
cruel blow, and that the mother may be waiting for the child at
the Gate Beautiful, and not the child waiting for the mother; and
that all the good angels may watch over them, and shield them both,
however deep the waters through which they may pass.

I think that Aurelia's face has suffered "a sea-change" since the
little one was born; that it has been transfigured into something
more beautiful--a serenity, and holy calm, which is not altogether
beauty, but a rapt and saintly expression, such as you may see in
the Madonna della Sedia of Raphael. I think you will often see it in
young mothers at certain times. All that was there before imprinted
by the wear and friction of life, with its petty annoyances,
vexations and passions, all the weariness and _ennui_, all the storms
and conflicts, seem to have passed away, and in their stead has
settled down a placid, gentle, saintly expression, just as after the
noise and bustle, the smoke and dust, the jangle and jar of the day,
come the brooding wings of the twilight, the holy hush of evening,
and the silence of the stars.

     January 17, 1869.



_THE QUARREL._


Old Blobbs, who always takes a fiendish delight in chaffing
Fitz-Herbert, immediately proceeded to enlighten him, by declaring it
was nothing of the sort. "I suppose, my young friend, that Lambele
had the same right to get married as Mrs. Blobbs had, and would give
the same reason. I suppose, if you live long enough, sir, you will
find some foolish young woman who will want to marry _you_, although
I think you will be quite old by that time. Mrs. Blobbs and I have
lived together a great many years. With all due deference to Mrs.
Blobbs, we have had a good many clouds in our sky, and some storms.
It is not for me to say who has caused these storms, nor to insinuate
that it is not altogether necessary for us to have had clouds in our
sky. Perhaps, if the sun shone all the time, we should not appreciate
each other as we do. At the same time, Mrs. B. will join me in saying
that it is a blessed thing to be married. Why, sir, look at J. Grau,
who has been sitting under the willows of Babylon, playing the harp
all his life, in single blessedness, and is going to marry a young
New York lady, of charming beauty and great expectations. Now, you
may ask why J. Grau, who has always been wedded to art (when it
paid), wants to marry? It will make a man of J. Grau, sir--make a
man of him. It makes a man of any one. A man without a wife is a
boat without oars. It will drift without purpose, and finally go
to pieces. He is a jug without a handle--a bow without an arrow.
It would make a man of _you_, sir, although it might take more
than one woman to do it. Your prospects for an early attainment of
that desideratum would be better under the wings of Brigham Young,
albeit the 'heft' of the labor would come upon your marital female
fractional parts. Any further information you desire, you can obtain
from Mrs. Blobbs, if you apply between the hours of two and three,
when she is invariably at peace with me and all the rest of the
world." Whereupon Fitz-Herbert smoothed his back hair and looked at
himself in the mirror opposite, and Mrs. Blobbs' black silk began to
rustle, when Mignon prevented an outbreak between Jupiter and Juno by
declaring it was a shame to have the pleasure of the breakfast-table
marred with any differences. The Canary stopped singing when Mignon
spoke, ashamed of his music, and as the Dear Creature arose and
kissed the frown out of Mrs. B.'s face, and smoothed down Old Blobbs'
iron-gray locks, she said: "We must have no naughty words, my dear
Blobbs, in this golden sunlight and under these blue heavens. Let us
thank the good God who sent us gifts of days like these in the new
year, and who tempers the winter winds in blessings to the firesides
of the poor, and not mar their perfect beauty with our little
differences." And she took Blobbs' hard, horny hand, and Mrs. B.'s
thin and withered hand in her own little white hands, and, placing
them together, said: "We will have no more quarrels, my dears, and,
under clear and cloudy skies--in bright or stormy weather--when roses
are blooming and roses are dying--when the birds build among the
leaves, and when no birds fly under the gray heavens--we will go hand
in hand and heart to heart, for life is too short for us to quarrel
in. The sun is low down in the west, and our shadows grow longer. We
have but a little way to go down the hill, and one of us must leave
the other before we get to the foot of it. We will, therefore, forget
all about the rough journeys up the hill, and make the rest of our
way lighter and brighter, in remembrance of that day, so long ago,
when we placed our hands together thus, and promised so to do." And
there were tears in Mrs. Blobbs' face, and Old Blobbs' face lighted
up with an expression none of us had ever seen it wear before. As
the old couple sat for some time, hand in hand, and neither of them
spoke, we knew that the trumpets were singing truce, and that the
battle was over.

     January 23, 1869.



_A WOMAN NOT OF THE PERIOD._


  *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

But thus formally embracing the Woman of the Period, I cannot
altogether suppress memories, and among them will come memories not
of the period; a woman who believes that God Almighty did not intend
to unsex her; a woman who believes that as soon as her dependence
upon man ceases, she loses all her loveliness; a woman whose home
is a perennial spring, from which flow the purest of pleasures; a
woman who sends out her boys and girls into the world, clothed with
her own graces of humility, and beauty, and goodliness, whereby they
may crown her old age with blessing; a woman who is queen at her
own fireside, and rules her own household with the sceptre of love;
a woman who governs because she serves; a woman whose influence
radiates far and wide from the home circle, as light and heat radiate
from the sun; a woman upon whose breast you first opened your eyes
to the light of day, and a woman upon whose breast you would fain
lie when you close your eyes forever to the light, and prepare to go
through the darkness alone; a woman to whom invisible forces are ever
drawing you, under all suns, in all times, and in all wanderings,
be they never so far; a woman, the perfume of whose prayers always
follows you, in good or evil report; a woman who always clings to
you, even to the depths of degradation; a woman whose great love is
superior to all the accidents of time; a woman whose still, small
voice, warning finger, and pleading eyes, are ever present with
you when overwhelmed with sore temptations; a woman whose price
is above rubies, who worketh willingly with her hands, who giveth
meat to her household, who stretcheth her hands to the poor, whose
husband is known in the gates, when _he_, (not she), sitteth among
the elders of the land; who openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in
whose tongue is the law of kindness; who looketh well to the ways of
her household, and whose children and her husband also arise up and
call her blessed; a woman to whom you look up, and whom you worship,
though no halo, except that of love, sheds its light upon her sweet
face; a woman whose life is too holy to be debased with politics, too
industrious to be wasted on empty babble, too lofty and too noble to
be dragged down to the level of man; a woman, best of all women--your
mother and my mother.

     February 13, 1869.



_A TRIP TO HEAVEN._


It was in a dream, and, I think, the _Andante_ of the fifth symphony
had something to do with it. In any event I left this Earth very
suddenly on a trip among the stars. After I had risen a short
distance, I looked down upon the Earth, and was astonished to find
what a small and insignificant place it was, after all. Quite a
number of people whom I might mention, who make a great parade
and show, and who strut up and down the green footstool, like Sir
Oracles, actually looked to me like ants, running about on an ant
hill, and they didn't appear at my height to any better advantage
than those who were more humble and retired. Several loud, blatant
fellows, and several women gifted with Gab, strange to say, I
couldn't hear at all. In fact, I couldn't discover that there was
anything at all of much consequence in this world, to a man half a
mile up in the air. When I arrived at the Moon, I stopped to rest,
and had a talk with the Man in it, who laid down his bundle of sticks
and was very affable. Much to my surprise, when I looked after the
Earth I couldn't find it, and inquiry of the Man did not help me any,
as he had never known such a place, except from hearsay. He pointed
out several millions of stars in an obscure and remote part of the
heavens, which were dimly visible, and intimated that the Earth might
be among them, but, as it was of so little consequence he never
troubled himself about it. When I told him, however, how the lovers
of Earth worshipped his planet, he seemed pleased, and expressed
his gratification that there was so much moonshine in love. I gave
him the latest intelligence of the doings of the Sorosis, in which
he manifested considerable interest, there being, as he told me, no
women in the Moon. I noticed that the place was exceedingly quiet.

After guiding me upon my way to Heaven, he picked up his bundle of
sticks and resumed his journey, and I set off on another flight. I
passed Jupiter, who was still up to his scandalous tricks, which,
of old, brought Antiope, Leda, Europa, and others, into the divorce
courts; passed Mars, who was just putting on his helmet and preparing
to thresh a small planet in a distant galaxy; passed Venus, to whom
I touched my hat and hurried on, as she was just then engaged in a
_tete-a-tete_ with Adonis; passed the Pleiades, all of whom still
wear mourning for their lost sister, who, they informed me, ran
away several thousand years ago, with a pretty little comet with
a tail like a peacock's; passed Ursa Major, who growled somewhat,
but finally gave me a drink from his Dipper; passed the North Star,
the only steady and well-behaved star in the heavens. After leaving
the Cynosure, my course led me into the Milky Way, a wretched
place, which, to my astonishment, I found full of milkmen, who, on
earth, have been accustomed to sell chalk and water. One of these
unfortunate shades, who used to have an Elgin dairy on the Archer
road, informed me, with tears in his ghostly eyes, that the Milky
Way was reserved for the milkmen of Earth, who have proclivities for
pumps, and that they are doomed to be chased through all eternity by
stump-tailed cows. He begged me, when I returned to earth, to warn
his relatives and all others in the business. I promised to do so,
and, when I left the Milky Way, he was making the grand round, with
a whole herd of stump-tails, who used to live on the North Branch,
after him.

After leaving the Milky Way, I reached the boundary of our system
of planets, and dodging innumerable meteors and comets which were
flying about in the most eccentric manner, and narrowly escaping
destruction by the explosion of a planet, many times larger than the
Earth, which burst into millions of atoms with a roar which seemed
to shake the whole empyrean, and went floating off into space like
a piece of burned tinder, passed into another system of stars and
planets, all revolving round their central sun. The earthly system
was soon lost to view. I passed from planet to planet, from galaxy
to galaxy, floated in azure fields full of gorgeous nebulæ, or rode
on undulating billows of air, between comets of lustrous sheen, and
moons and suns, whose orbits interlaced, in sheens of glowing, rosy
light. Out of this system into still another, and the last faded from
sight again, and so on till I reached a great calm sea of golden
light in which there were no suns nor no moons. I had passed the
confines of all worlds, and they had all disappeared. Above, below,
and all around was only this serene, golden atmosphere, unflecked by
a single spot, undotted by a single island. It was the vast, open sea
of Immortality, which never began, and shall never end. In that sea
there was no limit to vision. In that sea all things became clear.
Time dwindled to a speck, and Death was only an incident. Life was
incomprehensible in this sea, but it seemed to me with my new vision
that I had lived many lives before this one, and that I saw the
shadows and indistinct forms of others yet to be lived. As I floated
on, I suddenly rose out of the gold into a crystal atmosphere, which
was no longer the solitude of the sea, but was peopled with beautiful
forms which flew slowly past me with wondering eyes, and one or two
there were, who gazed at me with an old familiar look I somehow
seemed to remember in that Earth, millions of miles below me, but no
sound came from their lips, and thus I questioned them in vain. As I
rose higher, this crystal atmosphere was crowded with lustrous forms,
and suddenly, in a blaze of almost blinding brightness, I found
myself at the great gate of pearl, with St. Peter keeping watch and
ward, the keys in his hands, as the old masters loved to paint him.
He very courteously denied me admission, as I was only in a dream,
and had not yet passed to that sleep which knows no dreams; but he
allowed me to stand at the gate.

And as I stood there, several disembodied individuals who had
formerly lived on Earth, applied for admission. Upon each
application, St. Peter inquired in a loud voice within, if there was
any objection. The first who came was a cartman. The usual inquiry
was made, and as the cartman was about to enter, his horse, whom he
had beaten and killed with cruelty, and whose sufferings had reached
the throne of the infinite God, confronted him, and gazed at him
with those eyes which had appealed to him for mercy in life, until
he fled in dismay into the outer abyss. Another came, and a little
bird, whom he had wantonly shot on Earth, to whom God had given
life not without purpose, flew from a lotus plant to the gate, and
confronted him. He, too, asked no questions and turned away. Another
came, and, as he was about to enter, a pallid form with a gory wound
on his forehead, suddenly appeared before him, and the now revealed
murderer fled, shrieking, away from the gate. The next who came was
a purse-proud individual, who had on Earth ground down his female
employees, and paid them only the scantiest pittance, and as he was
about to enter, a woman in rags, with pinched, wan features, who had
died of neglect and starvation, met him and prevented his entrance. I
could not begin to enumerate all who came to that gate and went away.
One man's entrance was prevented by a butterfly, whom he, cruelly
and in wanton sport, had torn to pieces to gratify his malicious
idleness. Each one that had perpetrated a needless wrong, met that
wrong at the gate, and it stood in his way. And I inquired of St.
Peter if that was the universal law in Heaven, and he said to me:
"The law of Heaven is love. The law of kindness is the law of love,
and he loves the great God best who loves everything He has made--the
beast of the field, the bird of the air, and the fish of the sea; and
Heaven loves him best who loves all His works on the Earth, from the
tiniest insect to his brother Man."

St. Peter ceased, for just then Beethoven and Mozart and Mendelssohn
and Bach commenced to play a new quartette, which they had just
composed together, and so sweet was that music that all the angels
came flocking to hear it. Dante stood by listening, with Beatrice,
for he no longer looked up to her in the shining heights, but beheld
his "most gentle lady" face to face. Irma, who found repose on the
Heights, and the other Beatrice, now kindred spirits, were there.
Petrarch and Laura, and Abelard and Heloise, freed from all earthly
taints, reclined upon a flowery bank and listened, and many others,
whom I have not time to enumerate, who did great deeds upon Earth,
and suffered great sorrows, and yet were nameless heroes there, found
their great reward in these delights. As the music ceased and I was
about to turn away, there was a little form which flew towards me and
looked at me with unutterable love in her eyes, and stretched out her
little white hands to me, and I recognized the eyes as those I had
seen on Earth and the hands as those which I had seen crossed over a
rose-bud no whiter than they, and the form as one we had laid away,
when all the birds were singing and all the flowers were in bloom,
in the populous Acre of God. And I would fain have gone to her, but
as I sprang forward, she vanished slowly into the distance, still
looking at me with the loving eyes, still stretching out the white
hands, and, like a strain of beautiful music wafted over water in
the night-watches, came the words to me, "Not yet." And the heavens
vanished and I awoke upon the dim spot which men call Earth.

     February 20, 1869.



_DAY DREAMS._


Our talk at the breakfast table yesterday morning, was discursive
to a degree which would have distracted Anna Dickinson. We had no
hobbies to ride, and we rattled on about this, that, and the other,
Mignon's Canary singing at the top of his little lungs, and Aurelia's
baby adding to the general confusion by the most desperate protests,
in an unknown tongue, against a pin, which was sticking into his
blessed little back. We were all very happy, and not even Mrs. Blobbs
complained of any invasion of her rights. Old Blobbs, his face
beaming with delight, was undressing his third baked potato, and
asked, in a careless, and slightly sarcastic way, "Well, what have
you been day-dreaming about lately?"

And I replied: "You should not speak so lightly of day dreams, for
_you_ are a day-dreamer."

Blobbs looked up in surprise, and Mrs. Blobbs stopped stirring her
coffee to gravely shake her head. "Yes, my dear Blobbs," said I, "you
are a dreamer. We are all dreamers. Life is all a dream, and we shall
not cease dreaming until we fall into the dreamless sleep, when all
that is now dark will become bright, and the Sphynx will no longer
torment us with the enigma of its stony lips and staring eyes. It is
useless for you to deny that you have any sentiment in your nature.
You may try to cover it up with discounts, invoices, bills of lading
and mortgages. You may mingle with men upon 'Change, and wear a hard,
practical face. You may talk in the conventional _patois_ of life,
and try to convince those around you that you are a mill-stone,
busily engaged in crushing sentiment, but you cannot cheat yourself.
You are a living lie. You are too proud to acknowledge there is any
poetry in your heart. But it is there, nevertheless, and when you
least expect it, some strain of music, some song of a bird, some
perfume of a flower, some thought in a book will bring it out. Deep
down in the heart of man it rests. It may be a thought, it may be
a principle, it may be only a remembrance, but it is there in some
shape. You may conceal it from your fellows, but when you are with
yourself, you dare not deny it. You may forget it in the rush and
din of trade, and the wheels of Mammon may drown its still, small
voice, but there must be times when you retire within yourself and
forget the practical; and, in those moments, when there is no one
near you, those moments which make a man of you, you think of what
has been, and what might have been. Dare you deny that you have a
little memento laid away--some long faded flower, some bit of ribbon,
some little trinket--which is full of precious remembrances? Dare
you deny that I found you the other day with a tear in your eye, as
you stood looking at a wreath of faded white and green, which once
rested upon the breast of a little sleeper, who came among us, and
stayed but for a day, because they had need of her in Heaven? It was
not your child. What was that dead wreath to you? The angels did not
rob you. It was simply, my dear Blobbs, a link between the seen and
the unseen. It tied Heaven and earth together. It suggested to you
what might have been. It made you think of little eyes, you long had
waited for, which never looked into yours; of little feet, you long
had waited for, which never made music in your house. It rekindled
the ashes of a dead longing, and you dare not deny that you thought
with unutterable pain, it were better to have possessed and lost,
than never to have possessed at all. It was your better nature, which
you strive so hard to suppress, coming to the surface."

And Mignon said: "All of us have this sentiment in our composition,
although the most of us are too proud to acknowledge it. I have been
in the woods in March, when the ground was covered with snow. I have
carefully pulled up the matted layers of dead leaves, and underneath
all this debris was the arbutus, with its glossy, green leaves, and
its pink and white petals, as full of beauty and delicious fragrance
as if it had never been buried under the corruption of a dead
year--as if it had never been hidden from the air and the sun. So
in every heart, down under the snows of life, down under the dead,
matted leaves of care, passion, sin, and shame, are growing flowers
of sentiment. You will do well to uncover them now and then, for
they will give beauty and perfume to your whole nature, and make you
a better man or woman. And God grant, that when you clear away the
debris, you do not find a grave of dead hopes."

     March 14, 1869.



_LENT AND CHILDREN._


Whew!

Which is meant to express a sigh of relief that Lent is over.

Isn't it nice?

This saving one's soul on fish when fish commands a premium, is
expensive and monotonous.

Welcome the hens. Exit white-fish, enter eggs.

Whew!

Would that we lived in the grand old days when the sun danced in the
sky on Easter morning; when the children played the pretty games
with colored eggs; when the Aldermen went out on Easter morn for a
little municipal game of ball; when it would have been my privilege
to parade the streets and claim the privilege of lifting every woman
three times from the ground, receiving as payment a kiss or a silver
shilling, the women having the same privilege on the next day, in
order to make things even.

Wouldn't it be nice? That is, if one didn't meet Parepa and undertake
that little job.

When the men and women threw apples into the churchyard, and those
who had been married during the year threw three times as many
as the rest. It strikes me, however, that if this rule had been
reversed, and those who had been divorced during the year were
obliged to throw three times as many apples as the rest, the Chicago
church-wardens would fare better.

And then to go to the minister's and feast on bread, cheese and ale,
on bacon and tansy pudding.

As it is, the only relief one has now is the blessed feeling that he
can go to sinning again. It is too much for any constitution to be
strictly pious for six weeks, and live on beans and fish. Neither the
moral nor the physical diet agrees with me. A little sin now will be
an excellent tonic.

And it will agree with you, Celeste, also. You didn't look well
sitting in black, picking fish bones. I knew all the time you
were thinking of the flesh pots. It is useless for you to try to
convince me that you have been an angel for the past six weeks. It
won't do. There is not the slightest sign of a pin feather, even,
on your pretty white shoulders. You are essentially human. I know
that, eating your lentils, you sighed for the salads, and filets,
and Burgundy. I know that, in your suit of serge, your eyes were
prospectively fixed upon the new spring hat and all the pretty petals
which would unfold about you on Easter, and turn you into a lily, to
blossom to-morrow, in accordance with the provisions of the Council
of Nice.

Isn't it nice?

When you kept saying to yourself, all through Lent, that you were
a poor, weak, miserable creature, and that there was nothing but
vanity in the world, I know you excepted that delightful fellow in
black hair, with a divine moustache and taper fingers, who looked
unutterably pretty things at you over the top of his prayer-book,
divided his responses between you and Parson Primrose, and wore a
diamond ring on his third finger, which he managed, somehow, to keep
directly in the light which streamed through St. John on the stained
window.

You are now absolved, my dear Celeste. Go in and sin just a little,
and prove your humanity. You are not made to be an angel, but "a
little lower than the angels," you know. Undrape your pretty rounded
shoulders. Pile up your chignon. Put on those darling white slippers,
which leave footsteps almost as small as those of the robins in
the early spring. No more cypress and rue on your corsage, but the
wicked camelia, and the flaunting azalia. Set your slow monastic
march to a quicker _tempo_ and, _voila_, the German. Sound fiddles
and blow trombones, for Capuchin is now Columbine, and the gilded
doors of Fashion swing quickly open for the maskers to enter. It is
a merry procession. Sly glances flash through the masks, and there
are rounded outlines in the dominoes. Bells tinkle on the gay robes.
Who is who? What matters it, so you keep the masks on? Of course, the
black mask, now and then, will enter and beckon to one or the other
of us to come out with him to the anteroom and take off our masks,
preparatory to a long journey with him.

Heigh ho! We shall never come back to the gay scene; but the revel
will go on just the same as if you and I had never been in the set.
The fiddles will only play a little more _forte_, just loud enough to
drown the dirge outside, and we shall go into the dreamless sleep,
and grope our way through the shadowy land to the light beyond. Pray
God, we all lay ourselves down like true ladies and gentlemen, and
that the bugles sing peace over us with all the world.

Which reminds me to say, that in looking over the advertising
columns, a few mornings since, I observed a card published by
some party who desired boarders--"a gentleman and lady without
encumbrances."

Of course the "encumbrances" are children. I protest against the
application of the term. If there be anything in the world which
can make stale bread and hash palatable, it is a child. If there be
anything which can bring a ray of sunshine into the dreary, gloomy
desert of a boarding house, it is a child.

I am bound to protest against this opposition to children, which is
growing fiercer every day. Occasionally you will find a family with
soul enough in its collective breast to admit a party with one child,
with a mental reservation that they are entitled to a crown of glory
for so doing. But what are those fond parents, whose nest is full of
these lively and demonstrative pledges of conjugal affection, to do?
A house which has not a little blue and gold edition of humanity,
fluttering through its rooms, dancing, singing, and crowing, as full
of love as an egg is of meat, whose sky is all sunshine, or at most
overcast by the thinnest of April clouds, sounding a jubilant peal
of ecstasy in the morning, and making the coming night doubly holy
and beautiful with its little prayer at evening, must be a very
lonely house. A house which has not a little crib in the nursery; a
mutilated battalion of dolls, minus legs, arms, and heads, looking
for all the world as though they had just come from some Lilliputian
battle; marvelous books, reciting the exploits of the matronly
Goose, the good fortune of Cinderella, and the bad fortune of
Polly Flinders, scattered about in every room, _sans_ covers, and
tattered and torn; little blue and red shoes and striped stockings
in the drawers; little fingerprints about the door-knobs and marks
of juvenile industry everywhere, such as combs in the coal scuttle,
carving knives in the molasses jug, tea spoons in the stoves, a
family bible illustrated with pencil marks, intended by the youthful
Raphael to be letters to some distant aunt, or _chefs d`oeuvres_ in
natural history, sugar deftly mixed with the salt, Eau de Cologne in
the slop jar, and your favorite arm chair harnessed with strings, and
mustered into service as a horse-car--such a home must be as cheerful
as the cell of a recluse.

The house which has not seen the day change into night, and all
the blessed sun-light extinguished; which has not heard the music
of childhood suddenly cease; which listens in vain for the little
footfalls pattering from room to room; out from the doors of which a
little coffin went one day, leaving a great blank, carrying with the
little sleeper almost all our love, and hope, and faith; the house
which is not connected more closely with Heaven by that little billow
of turf which will soon be starred all over with daisies--such a
house must be very dreary. Children, encumbrances! Bah! The man or
woman who wrote that card--it could not have been a woman--will never
be troubled with heart disease.

In the name, and for the sake of the children, I protest against this
outrage upon these little people, whose mission it is to elevate,
refine, and humanize us; into whose pure, innocent faces one can look
with so much relief, after a day of intercourse with the rough, hard
faces of the world; who are the only reminders that there ever was an
Eden, and who make Heaven possible on earth.

I wouldn't trust a man with a torn five cent shin-plaster who didn't
love a child. It is impossible for a woman not to love a child. There
never was a woman so depraved, or so unwomanly, but that a little
child could find a good spot in her heart.

And I not only protest against this term of "encumbrance," but I
protest against the manner in which children are treated. The other
day, I observed an elegantly dressed little child paddling along on
the wet, muddy sidewalk, with the thinnest of blue paper shoes. Every
step the little one took, must, inevitably, have dampened her feet. A
foolish woman was walking by her side quite comfortably shod.

I don't know that that foolish woman knew what she was doing, but I
will tell her. In allowing your child to go out with those shoes, you
were sowing the seeds of disease, which will either kill her before
she leaves childhood, or send her into womanhood wrecked for life,
and finally to die of consumption. If your child dies before leaving
childhood, you will undoubtedly mourn as sincerely as did Rachel,
and your good minister will come to comfort you. He will assure you
that "the Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away." He will tell you that
whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth. He will also caution you against
repining at an affliction wisely ordered by Divine Providence.

All this may do as a salve for your sorrow; but it isn't true. The
Lord didn't take away your child. You yourself sent her away. This
affliction was not ordered by Divine Providence. It was an affliction
solely of your own preparation and consummation. No one else in the
wide world is responsible for your child's death, and, but for you,
she might have been living now. It may be very pleasant for you to
cast the responsibility upon Divine Providence, but it isn't fair.

We are all of us too apt to shirk the responsibility, and, with a
sort of meek, resigned, gracious wave of the hand, transfer the
responsibility to Divine Providence. But it won't do. You can't
deceive Heaven in that way.

You yourself hold that child's life in your hand. You can save her,
or you can kill her by the mere matter of thickness of leather. If
you don't take off those blue shoes, woman, your child will die.
Divine Providence won't take off the shoes for you. The requisites
for the life of your child are common sense and a shoemaker. It is
criminally thoughtless for you to expose your child. It is cowardly
for you, when your child dies, to try to shift the responsibility
upon Heaven, which had nothing to do with it. If the epitaph was
written properly or truthfully upon her little gravestone, hereafter,
it would read somewhat after the following fashion:

              Here Lies the Body of

                     * * * *

    WHO DIED OF THIN SHOES AND MATERNAL FOLLY.

               _Her Mother Did It._

If what I have said shall get a pair of thick shoes for even one
child, my purpose will be answered.

     March 27, 1869.



_BELLS._


At the dinner table, the other day, we were discussing the subject of
bells, and we unanimously regretted the fact that so many beautiful
churches have been erected in this city without bells. A church
without a bell is like a bush without roses, or a harp without
strings.

I believe it to be a Christian duty to hang a bell in every
church-tower or steeple; a bell dedicated to solemn and eternal
things, dwelling in a realm of music, and swinging in the
mid-heavens, to teach us of the mutability of earth; a voice above
us--above the din and roar of the city--above the strife of mammon
and the jargon of trade--to warn, and to console, and to bring
repose to us. And upon every bell, I would, if I had my way, cause
to be engraved that solemn legend upon the bell in the minster of
Schaffhausen: "Vivos voco; mortuos plango; fulguros frango," ("I call
the living; I mourn the dead; I break the lightnings.")

We need more bells. Bells, whose evening chimes mourn the death of
the day, and, like the song of the swan, are the sweetest when the
day is done; which, like the Ranz des Vaches of Switzerland, call
man from his toil and hurry, to the night of repose, and into the
weird world of dreams; evening bells, like those which used to be
rung to direct the wanderer through the forests to his nightly home,
and which, as Jean Paul says, with his rare eloquence, have their
parallel in the voices within us and about us, which call us in
our straying, and make us calmer, and teach us to moderate our own
joys and conceive those of others; vesper bells, veiling all the
landscape with a holy hush, and calling man to prayer; bells wafting
the sweetest music over the water to the homeward-bound sailor,
and coming to him like voices from home, softened by the twilight;
bells to welcome him who has wandered the world over, with pilgrim's
staff and scallop-shell, seeking for rest--who, tired with life's
tumultuous pleasures, surfeited with its vain shows, and filled with
nameless, unutterable longings, turns his face homeward again, and
finds his heart leaping with joy at the familiar sound of the bells
in the distant city--peal upon peal vibrating in sweet music, and
telling him of home, and rest, and peace; bells to break the peaceful
silence of the Sabbath morning with the lingering cadences of their
sweet concord--to summon to worship, to rouse the ear, and to
kindle the heart with praise; bells to ring glad, jubilant peals of
triumph--to proclaim peace--to wail with sorrow in their voices--to
shriek, with warning alarum, the danger in the night.

And if I had my way again, there should be a bell in every steeple
to proclaim the birth, the wedding, and the death of man. When the
child enters upon the rosy morning of life, the bells should be the
first tones to strike upon his ear. Their music should greet him
as his little feet take hold upon the rough highway of life, from
which they must sometimes stray into forbidden fields, on which they
must become so begrimed, so weary and so tottering, and at the end
of which they will find rest after the long wandering, sooner or
later. When the child, grown into youth, enters upon marriage, the
bells should ring their harmonious concord, and their glad tones
should mingle with the orange flowers, and the mutual gifts and good
wishes. The same bells which welcomed him as he started alone upon
the journey, should welcome him now, as the way is made lighter by a
companion, and roses grow in the paths where before there were only
sharp pebbles and flint. And when the end of the road is reached, and
the eye dims, and the flowers fade, and the blue sky is all clouded
over, and the two companions must part, the same bells tolling sadly
and heavily from the steeples, should guide the weary traveller to
his last home with their dirge-like tones.

There are sorrow, music, joy and blessing in bells. The church tower
may point to Heaven with Gothic solemnity, but, if no bell is there,
no voice calls. Bells are sacred with associations. Year after year
they have marked the flight of the hours in their perch in mid air,
with no companions but the birds. They have looked down, year after
year, upon grandfather, father, and son, grandmother, mother, and
daughter, and followed them to their graves in the adjacent acre of
God with solemn toll. They have rung glad peals of ecstasy to those
who came before us, and have now gone, and they will ring the same
glad peals to those yet to come. They are ringing for you and for me
now, and they will ring on just the same when you and I are gone. It
is now Te Deum, and now Requiem; marriage bells of gladness, and
funeral bells of woe. But I would that she, who will come after me,
should hear the same bells that I hear, and that they should tell
her the same melodic tidings they tell to me, and teach her the same
lessons.

Don't build any more churches without bells. Place a bell in every
steeple. Consecrate it with joyful service. Bid it to ring for the
living, and toll for the dying. Raise it to its belfry with glad
acclamation, and then solemnly leave it there in the mid-heavens,
above the jargon of earth, companion of the birds and the lightnings,
to bring comfort, consolation, and repose forever to the weary--to
warn, to inspire, and to gladden.

At present the bells are confined to the pews in the church, and
their tongues are not always musical.

     April 4, 1869.



_TENORS AND BASSOS._


The tenor, I take to be the happiest man in the world, or, at least,
he ought to be. He is the individual whom all the operatic Elviras
love. He loves them, also. He has all the serenades to sing. He
alone can indulge in the _ut de poitrine_. Almost invariably, he is
allowed to die for the heroine, when he isn't permitted to marry
her, and always has a _fortissimo_ death-song given to him, which,
like the swan's is the sweetest. What little stage business there
is, in the way of kneeling at the feet of the _inamoratas_, kissing
of hands, and embracing of languishing Leonoras, belongs exclusively
to him. He also can be the melancholy man, and drown susceptible
damsels with tears, over his chalky grief and cork-lined wrinkles of
woe. The women dote upon the tenor, send him little billets, look
at him through the lorgnettes, and adore him in secret, as Heine's
pine adored the palm. He finds bouquets upon his mantel, and little
perfumed notes upon his dressing-table. If he be a _tenor di grazia_,
lovely woman will sigh for him; if a _tenor robusto_, lovely woman
will die for him, or wish that Heaven had made her such a man. The
amateur tenor enjoys the same advantages as the operatic tenor, on a
small scale. He is privileged to sing all the pretty things, and he
may sing them as badly as may be, if he is only interesting. He is
the idol before which female bread-and-butterhood bends, both Grecian
and otherwise. He is usually fragile, _spirituel_ and delicate.
He sleeps on the underside of a rose-leaf, drinks Angelica, eats
caramels, and catches butterflies. He carries his voice in a lace
pocket-handkerchief, when in the open air, and does it up in amber
when he retires to sleep upon the rose-leaves. He alone is permitted
to wear white kids and vest, and otherwise array himself after the
manner of the festive hotel waiter. He knows the secret of immortal
youth, and never grows old. All tuneful lays set to the tinkling
of flutes, guitars and harps, belong to him. He alone can sing to
the moon and address the stars. In his _repertoire_ are all the
interesting brigands, the high-born cavaliers, the romantic lovers,
and the melancholy artists.

And he has nice legs, or, if he hasn't, he had better degenerate into
a baritone, and have done with it.

A tenor without nice legs is worse off than a soprano who can't sing
"With Verdure Clad," if there be such a _rara avis_, or an alto who
has to do _Siebel_ and _Maffeo Orsini_ with elephantine ankles, and
there never was an alto in the world with whom I wouldn't measure
feet, and give them the odds of one or two numbers.

The tenor lives in clover, chin deep, and never gets stung by the
bees. Sometimes he forgets to wrap up his voice in the handkerchief
when he goes out, or he sleeps in the direct line of a current
of air, which comes in under the door, and the result is an
indisposition. When he has an indisposition, he goes off hunting
ducks at Calumet, instead of dears in the audience, and the manager
forgives him and the audience pity him. He doesn't die like other
singers, but gradually fades away like the rose, and disappears in a
little cloud of perfume.

The basso, on the other hand, is the personification of vocal misery,
and he knows it. He feels that he is not interesting at all. He
knows the women don't adore him, and he takes a fiendish delight in
bellowing at them. He never has an opportunity to languish on the
stage, or to go round kneeling and sighing and kissing of hands.
He is never a lover. If a brigand, he is a dirty cut-throat. If a
cavalier, he is some dilapidated old duke, with a young and pretty
wife, just packing up preparatory to elopement with the tenor, and
requesting him not to interfere with her little arrangements. If a
sailor, he is a swaggering pirate. If an uncle, he is a miser. If a
mayor, he is a simpleton. If a father, he is a fool. The composers
never give him but one aria in an opera, and that is always written
an octave higher than he can sing, or an octave lower than his boot
heel. He is always in trouble with the orchestra. He knows he can
squelch the first fiddles and reeds, and come out even with the
bassoons and double basses, but the man with the trombone is his
mortal enemy, and the man with the kettle-drums his skeleton. He
feels in his heart of hearts that the one can blow him into ribbons,
and the other pound him to a jelly, and what is more, he knows they
are never happy, except when they are engaged in that pulverizing
process. What little singing he has to do is devoted to panegyrics
upon beer, dissertations upon cookery, and lugubrious screeds upon
the infidelity of woman and his own ponderous wretchedness. When
he is not confined to this, he is set up for a laughing stock in
_buffo_ work. He has no runs and trills and sky-rockets with which
to dazzle people. He knows that one of his long arias is like a
long sermon. He usually has so much voice in his copper-lined and
brass-riveted throat, that it invariably gets the better of him,
either running like molasses in cold weather, or coming out by fits
and starts, and leaking all round the edges. He must inevitably
sing false, and it makes him unhappy. He is not at all delicate,
being usually doubly blessed in chest and stomach, and the result
is, he can't get sick if he tries. The blessed indisposition which
so often gets into the velvet throat of the tenor, rarely gets into
his, consequently his opportunities for duck-hunting at the Calumet
are very limited. All of these afflictions make him misanthropical,
and he goes through the world with his little _repertoire_ of "The
Calf of Gold," "Infelice," "O mio Palermo," "The Last Man," and the
"Wanderer," a very Ishmael of wretchedness, and a howling Dervish
of despair. He drinks beer, and all sorts of fiery damnations, eats
sausage and kraut with impunity, and smokes villainous tobacco in
short clay pipes. He despises the razor and eschews the little
weaknesses of kids and patent leathers. The tenor is the nightingale;
he is the crow. The tenor is the beloved of women, but for him no
serenade, no face in the lattice shaming the moon with its brightness
and beauty. I pray, therefore, all gentlefolk to deal kindly with the
basso, and make his rough road as smooth as possible, for it is as
inevitable as fate that he will live to an hundred years of age, and
sing every blessed day of the century, and will finally be gathered
to his fathers, singing as he goes.

And, as he goes singing to his fathers, I have another topic of which
he reminds me. As I sit here writing, some poor fellow, who has got
through with the troubles of the world, is going home to sleep under
the turf, which is now so restless with all the quick impulses of
spring-life, and which will soon weave a green and flower-embroidered
counterpane above him. A band is playing a dirge, the wail and
melancholy rhythm of which fall unheeded upon his ears, forever
closed to the sweet sounds of the earth. To me, there is something
ineffably sad in the playing of a dirge in the open air. The funereal
solemnity of the music contrasts so strangely with the beauty of
the clear heavens and the joyous life of nature, and interweaves an
_Andante_ so unexpectedly in the _Scherzo_ of the din and jargon of
the busy street life, that I cannot keep the tears out of my eyes,
and I cannot but pause for a minute, on my journey, to think. And
I think of the day when I shall drop out of the comedy of life and
some one else will take up my part and go on with it, as if I had
never been in the play at all. I think that, some bright morning,
A will meet B on the street and say: "Did you know that ---- died
yesterday?" "No! Is that so? What was the matter with him?" And then
the two will talk of grain and corner lots, for it was only a bubble
that disappeared on the great tide of humanity, ever flowing from one
eternity to another. I wonder if anyone will remember me from one
spring-birth of flowers to another. And I think of those standing
about me, with their hearts beating to the time of the dirges, and
with each pulsation approaching a step nearer to the long sleep. And,
somehow, although the dirge saddens me, by sending a shadow across
the brightness of the sunny day, I think I feel the better for having
heard it.

But this will not be the last I shall see or hear of this procession.
I know that, an hour later, the mourners will have dried their
tears, and that they who went to the grave, marching slowly and with
sober countenances, to the movement of the Dead March, will return
to the quick tempo of "Champagne Charlie," or some other musical
abomination. Have we no respect for the dead! Is it creditable to
common humanity to go through the streets uttering a funereal lie--to
shovel a man into his grave, and, while the grave-maker is patting
the turf with his shovel, to come trotting home to the music of a
ribald Casino song? Is human life of no more account than this? Is
the life of our friend of so little consequence, when compared with
the nonsense and delusions of this world, that we leave him and
all recollections of him with the grave-maker? Is there no sober,
serious thought for us in the new-made grave? If there is not--if,
when a man dies, he dies like a horse, only to be shoved out of
sight, the quicker the better, that we may not be delayed any longer
than possible from the exactions of business and distractions of
pleasure--I pray that those who have these public funerals in charge,
may at least consult the feelings of some, to whom such inconsiderate
and irreverent unconcern for the dead is a fearful shock.

     April 17, 1869.



_A CHILD'S STORY--THE THREE ROSES._


I write to you to-day with a certain sort of sadness, and yet not
mourning as one without hope.

I think one can become strongly attached to inanimate things, and,
after associating with them for years, come to invest them with
certain human attributes, and even to love them. They grow to be
part of one's self, and reflect, in some degree, the individuality
of the possessor. I have now sat for nearly three years at the old
desk before me, in the same old corner, with the same blank prospect
of brick walls and the little patch of blue sky no bigger than the
lace handkerchief which swings from your finger, my dear Madame,
and discoursed each week upon all sorts of pleasant topics in my
careless way, always satisfied if here and there you might find a
little flower worth laying away in your memory as a souvenir. Many
of you who started on our journey through the World of Amusement are
with me still, but some have left and gone up higher to the Beautiful
Country; and one cruel summer which killed so many birds and blighted
so many flowers, we all travelled with heavier hearts, thinking of
the little ones whom the jealous angels enticed away, and some of
us could hardly see the way for a time for the black shadow of the
valley and the mists which were in our eyes.

I shall write to you no more from the old desk in the old corner,
for, when next Saturday comes, I shall be at the new desk, in a new
corner of the new building, and yet I cannot part from it without
regret, for I have learned to love it, ink-begrimed, scratched and
cut as it is. There are pleasant memories indelibly connected with
it, and the next owner who possesses it will be richer than he knows,
for he will buy some priceless associations. I frankly confess that
I look forward to the new desk with some suspicions. It will be a
better desk, a handsomer desk. The old, tried friend, whom you have
grappled to yourself, as with hooks of steel, through storms and
shine, it is hard to give up for the new comer, whom you have to
learn before you can love, and who may deceive you, when it is all
too late. And yet it is cheerful to know that when I say good-bye to
the old desk next week, you will accompany me to the new desk, and
that I shall continue to talk to you so long as it shall please you
to listen. Aurelia, and the baby and husband, Celeste, Fitz-Herbert,
Mignon and Blanche, and Old Blobbs and Mrs. Blobbs, will all go with
me, and Old Blobbs has promised me that he will have something to say
next Sunday from the new desk.

In this, my last letter from the old desk, I frankly state that I am
going to say something to the children. You know that I thoroughly
believe in children. I think they represent nearly all the love,
and innocence, and purity there is in the world, and I want to
tell them a story which may lead them to preserve that love, and
innocence, and purity, until the end. I therefore warn all the
grown up children, that this story is for the little ones, so that
those desiring to leave, can go now, without disturbing us after we
have commenced. Should any desire to remain, I hope they will keep
as still as possible. Perhaps they will hear something which will
benefit them. We will therefore wait a few minutes, after which the
doors will be closed.

  *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The story is a simple one, but it has its lesson for you. Some of
those older ones, who have just gone out, if they were here, would
tell you, even with tears in their eyes, that it is true. It is the
story of the Three Roses. One of them was a


WHITE ROSE.

This white rose grew in a large garden, where there were many other
flowers: great, coarse, vulgar dahlias, always dressing in gaudy
colors, without any regard to taste; delicate little anemones, who
would drop their petals off in fright, if even a bee went buzzing
by them; tulips, in whose breast the butterflies used to sleep;
blue-bells, who rang the matins for the other flowers to wake, and
the vespers for them to drop their little heads and fold up their
petals in sleep; azaleas, who were very jealous of the fuschias,
because the latter had a graceful way of hanging from their stalks,
which the former could not get, although they tried until they
were pink in the face; heliotropes, and their little cousins, the
mignonettes, whom all the flowers loved for their sweetness, and
never could see that it was because they were so humble that their
lives were so full of perfume; passion-flowers, whose lives were
full of pain; and those sensitive little flowers who were so nervous,
that if you even pointed your finger at them, they would shiver all
over, and draw themselves up in a heap. The White Rose was a very
proud flower. She always dressed in pure white, with a beautiful
gold ornament on her breast, and devoted most of her time to lazily
swinging in the wind, admiring her beautiful garments. She never
recognized other flowers in the garden. She never even condescended
to notice the butterflies and the bees, who were great friends
with the rest of the flowers. She would now and then nod to the
green-and-gold humming-birds, who took good care, however, to keep
out of her way, because they were afraid of her thorns. She had set
her cap very high, and would marry nothing short of a prince, and
thus she slighted some of her friends, and wounded others with her
cruel thorns.

One day the prince came by that way, and his name was Zephyr. He was
a gay, careless young fellow, without any heart in him. He came from
a far country, and in his travels had flirted with every one. He had
ruined many flowers in other gardens. He had even dallied with the
tender leaves in the tree tops, of an evening, until the stern old
trees angrily kept him away. Troops of the ghosts of the dandelions
and pink thistles and young gossamers, whom he had deceived, followed
in his train, and even the blue-birds, and robins, and orioles,
were enamored of him, and kept the air full of melody, singing to
him. Prince Zephyr came gaily dancing over the garden, and all the
little flowers nodded their heads to him. The White Rose looked her
prettiest, and at once beckoned him to come to her, and hid all her
thorns. The two were long together, even until the sun went down,
and the blue-bell had rung her vespers. It would have been well for
the White Rose to have gone to sleep too; but Prince Zephyr dallied
with her, and whispered all sorts of pretty nothings to her, and the
foolish flower listened to him, and believed all he said. He promised
to be true to her, and to return in the morning; and when they kissed
good night, he stole away her perfume, which was her life. When the
morning came, however, Prince Zephyr did not return. Many mornings
came, but Prince Zephyr was far away, whispering that same sweet
story to other roses, in other gardens. And the White Rose waited in
vain, and withered and died, and was buried by the larch-tree in the
corner of the garden, the cypress, and rue, and rosemary being the
mourners at the funeral, the birds singing the hymns, and the little
many-legged bugs in the grass, making the orchestra, with the bee at
the baton.

And the name of the White Rose was Pride, which must always have a
fall, my dear children.

But there was another rose. It was the


RED ROSE.

The Red Rose grew by the side of a tiny little brook, which had
nothing to do the livelong day but to dance over its pebbles, and
sing pretty songs, and laugh in the sunshine. The Red Rose was very
discontented with her lot, for there was no one around with whom
she could associate, but white and red clovers, dandelions and
butter-cups. The Brook, who was a garrulous little fellow, made
her still more discontented, by telling her what fine things there
were out in the world, and how she would enjoy them if she would
go with him and see them. One day, tired of looking into the Brook
and seeing only herself, she dropped into his arms, and he tenderly
carried her along. She floated very lazily and pleasantly along for
a time, for the heavens were all blue, and the sunshine was bright,
and the Brook was smooth, and so they rode along merrily together.
The wild laurels, and red Betties, and Jack-in-the-pulpit, and starry
asters, crowded together on the marges of the Brook to see her pass,
and nodded to her. The white lilies who grew in the Brook rippled
the water with their mocking laughter, for they knew her fate. The
sober ferns warned her, but she paid no heed to the warning, and
sailed down the meadow as proudly as Cleopatra under her silken
sails on the turbid Nile. By and bye she got out of the meadow and
it was not so pleasant. The flowers disappeared, and she had hard
work to avoid the flags and rushes, and old gnarled stumps, and the
sun was hidden by the interlaced tree-tops, and there were all sorts
of water-spiders and little glossy black bugs which she disliked.
After a time, the frogs and the water-snakes terrified her, and one
day she found herself in a little whirlpool which made her dizzy.
When she recovered, she was in the foam of a water-fall, and the
foam-bells dazzled her so with their sheen that she plunged about
among the rocks very wildly and before she emerged from them, some of
her petals were badly damaged. It was now too late to return. She had
made the first fall and she must go on. She no longer recognized the
little Brook in the brawling, muddy waters which carried her through
the rank swamps, where she met all kinds of noxious, ill-favored
flowers, the hemlock, and nightshade, and belladonna, and poisonous
ivies, which mocked her. The Brook was now a river, and too wide for
her to escape. On she must go, ever on, bruised and weary as she was,
and presently the river swept her through a great city, rank with
corruption and filth; swept her past the vessels at the wharves,
loading and unloading, and noisy with the curses and cries of the
sailors; under the wheels of steamboats; now sunk into the corrupt
depths, and now rising to the surface again, but so changed that none
of the flowers in the country, who nodded to her that bright morning,
would ever have known her; under the arches of the bridges and close
by slimy mouldering piers; and one evening, so close to the dead
body of a woman, who had hurled herself out of the world and out of
misery, that she almost got tangled in the streaming black hair which
rose and fell in the turbid current; and so on, until one morning
she found herself out of the river and into the mighty surges of the
ocean, when it was all too late.

And the name of the Brook was Pleasure and the name of the Red Rose,
Folly.

I have now to tell you of the third rose, the


WILD ROSE.

The Wild Rose grew in a forest, and was a simple modest flower, who
was sheltered in the winter from the cruel winds by the mighty pines.
In the spring and summer she was even more beautiful than the White
Rose or the Red Rose, although she had a tiny little petal of white
just suffused with a blush. Her leaves were very small but they were
very fragrant. There were no other flowers in the forest for her
to love, and so she loved a Star which she used to see every night
through the branches of the trees. Sometimes when the dew fell in the
night, the Star would come to her in the drops, and she could see
and feel his radiance on her petals, although she could never go to
the Star. And there was a little Child who, sometimes, used to roam
through this forest, who loved the Rose, and used to stop and talk to
it in her childish way, and the Star, which the Rose loved, was the
Child's Star. For, even for each little child, shines a star which
is its own--a star which always rains down blessed influences upon
it--a star which will always guide the child if it will but follow.
One day the Child did not come to the forest, for an Angel had come
down out of the blue heavens--the Angel of Death--and forever closed
the eyes of the little one and sealed its ears to the sweet sounds of
earth, and hushed its merry prattle forever, and strangers went to
the forest and plucked the Rose which the little Child had loved, and
they placed it in the cold marble hands, and the Angel of Light, the
sister of the Angel of Death, came and took the Child and the Rose
and carried them to the Star, and the three were re-united and were
happy.

And the name of the Wild Rose was Wisdom.

These are the stories of the Three Roses, which I tell to you, my
children, upon the old desk, before I leave it forever, and I pray
Heaven for you all, blue eyes and black eyes, brown hair and gold
hair, whether you live in hovel or in hall, whatever ways your little
feet may wander, that they go not in the way of the White Rose which
is that of disappointment leading to death; neither in the way of the
Red Rose which is that of folly leading to ruin; but in the way of
the Wild Rose, which is that of contentment and wisdom.

     April 24, 1869.



_THE OLD._


On this May-Day, when Nature is putting on her new spring suit of
green, and decking herself with new buds and flowers; when every
blade of grass shooting up through the brown sod, and every quaint
little package of leaf unrolling itself on the bough are new; when
restless men and women, carting their Lares and Penates through the
streets, are seeking new homes; when new breezes from the North come
shiveringly down upon us, telling new stories they learned of the
icebergs on their way; and when new asparagus and onions are coming
into the market; on this new day, I am free to confess I like the old.

I like old books. I think there is more virtue, and wit, and sense,
and solid stuff in the old tomes--brass-clasped and vellum-paged
mayhap, made to last forever by the old worthies, over whose heads
hundreds of springs have come and gone, and generations of birds
have sung, and they none the wiser, for they left their souls in the
tomes--than in the reams of gaudy modern trash, born in all sorts
of ways, in all sorts of places, and of all sorts of parents, with
lives as permanent as a tadpole's, and, like many a human being,
carrying all the usefulness and beauty they possess in their covers.
Gilt goes a great way with a book, as it does with a man. There are
a great many gilded men and women it won't do to touch or examine
too closely. The moment you handle them, the gilt rubs off and shows
the pewter underneath. There are a great many books of the same
description.

I like old wine. There is virtue in the mildewed, cobwebbed bottle,
which one of your family, whose portrait hangs in the hall because he
is a little old fashioned for the drawing room, placed in the cellar
years ago. Break the neck of the bottle, and see how the imprisoned
genii of the wine leap sparkling into the sunshine, clad in gold,
and fragrant as a rose you stumble upon in the woods. No aquafortis,
logwood, or burnt shavings here. This is the nectar which refreshed
the giants of old time, which Horace sang, and Anacreon drank, with
which Dante pledged Beatrice, and which runs through Beethoven's
_Scherzos_, and inspired the Brindisis of the masters.

I like old songs into which the writers have poured their souls;
songs as full of passion and pain as the West sometimes is full of
thunder clouds; songs full of sadness which is not the boisterous wo
of the hired mute, but as unobtrusive and gentle as the summer rain;
songs full of the quaintness, and delicacy, and beauty which time has
only mellowed, and which come down to us hallowed with associations
which cluster around them like vines. Now and then you get a song
which touches the heart at once, but a song, like a friend, must have
been tested by experience before you can fully receive it. Who would
not take Mendelssohn's "First Violet," and gladly give up all the
flower-songs of to-day? Has the religion of to-day anything more
delicately beautiful and graceful than Herrick, anything more massive
and majestic than the "Ein Feste Berg"? Do our modern lovers sing
such dainty serenades as Spenser and Sidney sang to their Phyllises?

I like old friends. A man can't afford to have too many friends.
It is too expensive in the social economy, not in the matter of
dollars and cents, but in the personal wear and tear they occasion
one. A man with a thousand friends is worse off than the Wandering
Jew. A man with five hundred friends is to be pitied. A man with a
hundred friends is a victim. A man with fifty friends is happy in
a quiet way. A man with twenty-five friends can find time to be a
philosopher. A man with ten friends, one for each finger, each one
of whom will stick to him like his fingers, is justified in crying
"Eureka" over the discovery of perfect happiness. The result of my
observations in a feminine direction, is, that women are so made that
they will be inconsolable without a thousand dear friends, to whom
they are bound by the tenderest ties until death, and ten thousand
other friends entitled to the confidences which distract the female
breast, without which relief, the female breast would be simply a
pent up Vesuvius. If, therefore, you have ten friends, and they
are old friends who have travelled all along the journey with you,
through storm and through sunshine, with any one of whom you would
exchange your personal identity, I congratulate you.

It is because I like old things that I paid a visit to the old
TRIBUNE Buildings. I have a passion for old buildings. The smell of
antiquity about them is as refreshing in the modern combination of
smells as the bouquet of good wine in a villainous beer cellar. I
like to trace all the habits and peculiarities of the dead and gone
men and women, which, in the process of time, have been ingrained
into the building, and become part and parcel of it. I have no
objection to a ghost or two--none of your mice in the wainscotting,
or swaying beams in the attic, but the good old-fashioned ghost
of some poor soul, with streaming black hair and pale face, who
concealed her malady and carried her secret with her under the turf,
and, discontented in Heaven, _must_ come back to the old place
where _he_ used to be, and walk under the trees where they used
to walk--the trees which know the secret as well as she, for they
heard it; or the ghost of the boy who ran away and went to sea and
never came home again, whose sad story most any wave crawling up the
sand will tell you, if you will listen aright; or the ghost of that
wrinkled old flint who hid his ingots under the tiles of the hearth,
and comes back now and then to see if they are safe.

I did not see any spirits in the old building; quite the contrary.
There was a great deal of life there. It was night when I went there,
but by the moonlight I saw some strange sights. Our late co-tenants,
the rats, mice, cockroaches and spiders, were holding a general
mass-meeting in the various rooms, discussing the changed aspect of
affairs. An antique rat, of venerable appearance and gray whiskers,
covered with the scars of many a hard-fought fight, and with a
tail sadly mutilated by the numerous inkstands and paper-weights
which had followed him into his hole many a time and oft, occupied
the Managing Editor's old desk, the empty pigeon-holes of which
brought him into admirable perspective. He acted as Chairman of the
meeting, and presided with dignity, holding a dusty document in his
hand for a gavel, which had been laid away fifteen years ago as of
immense value, and never thought of since--just as you and I, you
know, who think we are of so much value, will be laid away shortly
in a pigeon-hole, and never thought of again. Several rows of rats,
who had come down from a former generation, occupied an old table,
sitting erect, and manifesting a proper appreciation of the spirit of
the meeting. The younger rats were compelled to shift for themselves,
and were sprinkled about the floor. The gas pipe running up the
wall was festooned with mice who looked down upon the assembly with
interested countenances, while the three blind mice of song notoriety
could be distinguished by their tails, that is, as much of their
tails as escaped the carving knife, which protruded from a hole in
the wall. Being bereft of the blessing of sight, it was but natural
that they should make the mistake of turning their backs upon the
Chairman, but they could hear all that was said. The rat who lived in
a well, and who, when he died, went to a warmer climate, you may not
be aware returned from that place some time since. He was present as
an invited guest from the Museum. The cockroaches looked out of the
cracks in every direction, and balanced themselves dexterously on
shreds of wall paper. The spiders occupied the centres of their webs,
apparently asleep, but in reality wide awake, as one unfortunate
blue-bottle fly found, who got caught, and was immediately served
up and sent to the spiders of the Local-Room as a present. Besides
these, there were a few score of old fogy mosquitoes, left over
from last year, and a handsome representation of those quiet little
brown bugs addicted to bedsteads, and pronounced odor, whom I do
not like to mention by name. The Chairman was listening to the
complaints of the multitude, for famine was staring them in the face,
and some means must be adopted for self-preservation. A motion to
serve out an injunction on the TRIBUNE Company, and compel them to
replace the goods they had carried away, was canvassed, but failed
of rat-ification. One large, portly rat, with a very benevolent
face, and getting gray, whom I at once recognized as an old friend
I had seen on my old desk many a time, banqueting on paste, was
complaining particularly of me. He characterized such conduct as
despicable in the highest degree. It was a betrayal of friendship,
a breach of confidence, and he would never again repose trust in a
biped. All that he had found in my desk, during a visit that evening,
was a dried up bouquet or two, rusty pens, one scissor blade, a
photograph of a superannuated prima donna, a paper of pins, and a
huge package of tickets to amateur concerts. There was a time when he
was young and strong. In those days he could gnaw a file, and derive
considerable culinary consolation from a paper-weight, but now he was
obliged to conform his diet to a weakened digestion and disordered
liver. He spoke more in sorrow than in anger, and regretted that
Pickle should be fickle.

At this point, a young mouse, perched upon the top of the gas pipe,
in a piping voice complained that he had just commenced going
through Abbott's History of the War. It was slow work, but he had
got through the covers, and part way through the introduction, and
he didn't like to be interrupted in this manner. It was true he
hadn't derived much sustenance from the thing, but it was a matter
of principle when he commenced a piece of work, to keep at it if
it killed him. Some fifteen or twenty old fossilized rats, with
their wrinkled faces, scanty hairs and shrunk shanks, made the same
complaint with reference to the Patent Office Reports and commercial
statistics. To be sure they had not thriven well. One of them had
devoured half the Georgian Bay Canal; another had swallowed two
Board of Trade Reports, and had got as far as lard in the third, to
which he was looking forward with great expectations, being then
unprofitably engaged upon lumber; a third had almost exhausted
himself with devouring a census table, and was just in sight of
some quotations of cheese; a fourth had swallowed the Smithsonian
Institution, and put the Covode Investigation on the top of it,
and was just ready to attack the American Cyclopedia, in which he
was sure to find something to agree with him and repay him for the
time he had wasted. A sentimental little mouse complained that she
had just got into Mrs. E. D. E. N. Alphabet Southworth's "How He
Won Her," and was interrupted, at a critical moment, when "he" and
"her" were about to say something nice. She was dying to know "how
he won her," and she might go down to a premature grave without the
knowledge of that interesting secret. A grave looking rat, with a
streak of white fur around his neck, and troubled with a slight
cough arising from an affection of the throat, announced that he had
devoted several nights of hard labor, in getting through the back
of a Biblical Cyclopedia, and had just reached the title page. All
the world was before him. Vistas of Hebraic and other sorts of lore,
opened before his longing eyes. He was about to enter, when the prize
was snatched away. He consoled himself with the reflection that all
earthly matters are illusions, but he could not help thinking now
and then how pleasant that Cyclopedia would have been. There was
one wretched old rat who had eaten up a volume of Swinburne, two
duplicates of Walt Whitman, and was feasting upon a gorgeous picture
of the spectacle of Undine. He had eaten up four blonde wigs, sixteen
legs of ballet girls, and left eight coryphees with a leg apiece.
He was very indignant over his disappointment, and even swore about
it, for which he was called to account by the grave-looking rat with
a slight cough. The wicked rodent growled out something in broken
Rattish, and retired to his hole, out of which he shook his tail in
defiance. Presently four or five good little mice, whom I had not
observed before, with their faces very clean, and their fur smoothed
down very sleekly, made their complaint in a weak kind of utterance.
It was to the effect that they had discovered a little stock of
Sunday School books in a paper box, which were very affecting, and
narrated how "Little Freddie" and "Good Teddie" and others, committed
forty feet of texts in one day, which disagreed with them so that
they died very early, not being good enough for this world. They had
just succeeded in getting into the box, and now the books were gone.

In this manner, complaint after complaint was made, and the meeting
adjourned to another evening without taking action. You should have
seen the assembly after adjournment. The whole mass of rats and mice
rushed pell-mell through the dusty heaps of papers on the floor. One
set danced a polka on fragments of editorials touching the finances
and internal revenue, taxation and other topics. In the local
room a rather spare rat, with long reddish hair, mounted the City
Editor's desk, and read off, to the edification of the crowd, several
mutilated fragments of a "Horrible Murder," "Atrocious Villainy
in Bridgeport," "Destructive Fire in Holstein," "Scandal Case on
Michigan Avenue," "Religious Announcements," etc. In the Commercial
Room several casualties occurred. One unfortunate mouse was nearly
choked to death with a column of figures which he found on the
floor, and attempted to swallow. Another, of a sentimental turn of
mind, went insane trying to understand some commercial quotations he
found in an antique looking scrap-book, and three incautious little
mice, venturing too hastily into Colbert's Astronomy, fell into
the Dipper and couldn't get out, until an old rat helped them with
the North Pole and a line dropped from the plane of the ecliptic,
through the parallax of the sun, whatever that is. In another room,
the cockroaches had a carnival in the Night Editor's coffee-pot. It
was one of the most touching sights in the world to see them enter
in festive procession at the top and come out through the nose. On
my own old desk, twenty-three assorted cockroaches, of a beautiful
bronze color, each one of whom I have killed twenty-three times in
twenty-three various ways, were dancing a can-can. A few of the
odoriferous, small brown bugs stood round in various attitudes,
like supernumeraries, while an old rat, against whom I once swore
eternal war, as Hannibal swore against the Romans, beat time with
his stump of a tail. I forgave the rat, but I shall never forget the
scene. I shall miss those cockroaches in the coming days, surrounded
by the inanimate splendors of the new desk, upon which I write you
to-day, looking no more upon the brick walls, but sitting in a flood
of roseate light, which pours through the new window from the dying
day. I could not bear to interfere with the sports of those poor
creatures, and I left them there in the moonlight, engaged in their
wild revels. I cannot say with any degree of veracity that I loved
them while living with them, but still I know that I shall miss them,
and their innocent little ways.

To rat, and mouse, and cockroach, and odoriferous bug, and spider;
to the old desk, and the withered bouquets; to the old rooms, which
have seen so many come and go, and one of tempered judgment, and
calm speech, of dignified presence and upright life, a fast friend
and sure adviser, who left us one morning to rejoin her who had gone
to Heaven a little while before him; to many pleasant associations
and happy scenes; to the familiar stairs worn deeply with the yearly
tread of feet as the water weareth away the rock; to all but memory,
hail and farewell! And welcome the new!

     May 1, 1869.



_OLD BLOBBS' OPINIONS._


Old Blobbs came up to see me the other day. He breathed very hard
when he came into the room, was very red in the face, and wiped
his forehead vigorously with his yellow bandanna, for the stairs
troubled him somewhat. Blobbs is not what he was forty years ago--a
broad-breasted, strong-legged, deep-lunged young fellow. The bucket
creaks now in the well, and the grasshopper begins to be a burden.
We all hope the pitcher may not be broken for a long time to come,
but we see many signs that he is on the sun-down side of the hill,
and in his melancholy moods he talks about the shadows down in the
valley whither he is going. I think, however, that he will never
cease his hatred of shams; that he will always delight to strip off
all the fine clothes from human pretence; that he will never admit
that respectability is whatever keeps a gig, and that, under all the
rubbish of the world, he will contend there is something real, and
that it is his duty to find it out. He believes, as I do, that this
great world is a type of the Godlike; that the history of man from
the days when Adam dwelt in Eden, down to this blessed May morning,
so full of spring's odorous promise, is a gospel in itself; that the
morning stars sing together now as of old; and that our souls are
kept in subservience to our bodies, running of errands for them, or
concealed beneath aprons doing the work of the waiter, these starry
strangers who should only be allowed to fulfil their own missions.

When Blobbs had recovered his breath, he signified his desire to say
a few words from the new desk, and I left him in possession. When I
returned, I found the following, written in a large, bold hand, and
underscored to give emphasis, I suppose. I give you the document just
as he wrote it, underscorings and all:

"The _Sin_ of the American nation, sir, is a holiday. The
unpardonable folly is a LAUGH. Sport is unworthy a man born on
American soil. Recreation is an exploded idea, sir, which has come
down to us from a former generation, and if there is anything
which an American looks upon with utter contempt, it is a former
generation. There is no retrospect or prospect between the Atlantic
and the Pacific. It is now and always a simple _spect_. Every man has
a likeness of Mammon set up on his mantel, and to spare one day from
the worship of that small god, is to expose himself to the danger of
not being an old man at thirty, and comfortably into his grave before
fifty. Some unfortunate individuals manage to get beyond fifty, but
they are like old parchments, faded, yellow, and wrinkled, with all
the characters upon them effaced. American babies are begotten of
_fret on one side, and hurry on the other_, and these two forces
are forever propelling them toward a six-by-two patch of ground with
a stone at each end, one of which is Ananias and the other Sapphira.
American babies are _never children_, sir. They make one step from
bibs to breeches, and from pinafores to _paniers_. An American man of
fourteen has squeezed the orange of life dry, and an American woman
of twelve is ready to receive proposals of marriage, and sink her
identity in kettles and pans. There is no law against it, sir. Nature
has kindly preordained that there shall be no bar in the intimate
relations of humanity and asininity. If a man wants to go through
life like a locomotive, I suppose there is nothing to prevent it, but
I don't want him to ask me to ride on his train. I know the rails are
laid on every kindly feeling and elegant grace, and that the smallest
flower can't grow between them. I know that there are all sorts of
obstructions on the track, bankruptcies, suicides, diseases, etc.,
which will prevent him from getting into the three score and ten
station which God Almighty intended for him. People come into the
world in a great hurry, and immediately commence their preparations
to get out of it. They pile up a heap of treasures, and by the time
they get it piled up, under the sod they go, where there is not room
for a five cent shin-plaster.

"What made me think of all these things, sir, was the official
announcement of the city authorities that when the grandest
achievement of this or any other age is celebrated next week,
business will be suspended _for one hour_![2] Actually for one
hour, sir. SIXTY MINUTES, SIR!! And the wretched man who doesn't
recommence his work and put on steam exactly when the hand reaches
the _sixty-first minute_, is unworthy the inestimable privileges of
an American citizen, sir. If I had been the Common Council of the
city of Chicago, I would have passed a law that the merchant who did
not hang out the banners on the outer wall from sunrise to sunset,
who did not double the wages of his clerks for that day, and order
them to celebrate, who did not eat double his usual amount, who did
not execute a _can-can_ on the top of a flour barrel, who did not
make Mrs. Merchant eternally his joyful debtor, by the item of a new
hat, and allow the little Merchants to ruin at least one suit of
clothes in a mud pie bakery, and who did not retire to bed at night
feeling that he was all right at heart, however he might be in his
head, should be liable to fine and imprisonment. _Business will be
suspended for one hour!_ Bah!

"I tell you, sir, when Gabriel blows his horn, and summons us to
square up our accounts, it will be extremely doubtful whether Chicago
will suspend business more than one hour to accommodate him; and,
as I am positive that it will take over an hour to settle up the
accounts _of this city_, it seems to me there is going to be some
confusion. It may be possible that Chicago will not be recognized at
all on that occasion. If she is, I hope some arrangements may be made
by which she can spare a day or two for Gabriel's business.

"I tell you, sir, we travel too fast. We don't take enough time for
recreation. If we would only halt occasionally in this everlasting
chase after the Almighty Dollar, there would be less occasion for
hospitals, insane asylums, and penitentiaries. There would be fewer
suicides, and general smash-ups and break-downs. There is no good
reason why a man shouldn't be just as fresh at forty as at twenty,
but, as we go now, there isn't one man in a thousand who is fit for
anything but a calculating machine at forty. Physically, he isn't
worth a pinch of snuff. Mentally and morally, he is dried up; and
the women, sir, are just as bad as the men. It pains me, sir, to
see our women fade so quickly. This fast pace is killing to them.
Brought up in hothouses, and forced beyond nature in their growth,
they mature when they should be in bud, and wither when they should
be in maturity, and are not of much further use, except for running
sewing-circles, and drinking weak tea. It pains me, sir, to see the
young girls on our streets, with that callous sort of countenance,
and knowing expression, which show that they have got out of illusion
into reality, and to see so many pale, careworn, bent and faded
women, out of whom all buoyant life has departed long since, and who
can no more keep time than a watch with a broken spring.

"In the mean time, _business will be suspended for one hour_. Bah!
Boy's play sir; all boy's play!!

  *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

"These are my opinions, sir, and it is quite immaterial to me who
knows them. And, sir, if your new desk will give them any extra
weight, I shall be glad of it. I do not know that Mrs. Blobbs
will agree with all that I have written to you, but that also is
quite immaterial. She is a remarkable woman sir, and _principally
remarkable for not thinking as I do_.

    "Allow me to subscribe myself, sir.

            "Your very obedient servant,

                                    "JOHN BLOBBS."

     May 8, 1869.

FOOTNOTE:

[2] The completion of the Pacific Railroad.



_TYPES._


At the breakfast table this morning, time hung rather heavily on our
hands, for the breakfast was not altogether a success. Old Blobbs
was a little sulky, as Mrs. Blobbs had not rested well during the
night. When Mrs. Blobbs does not rest well, she either gets up and
wanders about the house, in an aimless sort of way, or else she
talks to Old Blobbs, which is just the last thing in the world Old
Blobbs wants her to do, when he is trying to sleep. Aurelia's baby
was troublesome also, and was at last sent away in disgrace, when it
had emptied a brimming cup of milk into Mrs. Blobbs' lap, and down
the folds of the black silk. Mignon was in a pet about something or
other, and was moodily tearing a geranium leaf to pieces, which she
had pulled out of the breakfast bouquet. Celeste was in a towering
rage with Fitz-Herbert, and shot lightnings out of her pretty eyes
at him, because he had spoken slightingly of her coiffure. F. H.,
however, was as impervious to lightning as a glass non-conductor, and
in a chaotic sort of way caressed the promise of a side whisker just
beginning to dawn on his cheek.

I was, as usual, serene and philosophical; and to dispel these little
spring clouds which every moment threatened to rain torrents upon
the breakfast table, told them I had something to say.

The announcement was magical, and had the same effect upon the
company, that oil has when poured upon the troubled waters, or the
show window of a millinery store on opening day upon the ruffled
breast of lovely woman.

And what I said was this:

I think there is a direct line of ascent from the atom, the grain of
sand upon the sea shore, for instance, up to God, and that the great
principle of life, which emanates from God, finds its way down to the
atom, although we cannot perceive it with our finite sight.

Let us commence, if you please, with the dust, which is not to be
despised, my dears, because you are made out of it, the sand, the
drops of water, or any other of the very lowest forms of creation.
We pass up from these elements, and find them crystalized into
minerals, and wrought into flowers, and obtain our first ideas of
beauty. Looking up through the grades of flowers, we happen upon the
sensitive plants, which shrink from you, and shiver when you point
your finger at them like guilty souls, and the winged orchids, which
you must touch to convince yourself they are not butterflies; and
in these you begin to get foreshadowings of life. From this point
you find organisms which may be vegetable, or may be animal. Our
skill is insufficient to decide which they are. Presently you reach
the sponges and the corals, in which animal life is very apparent;
and if you will do yourself the pleasure to look into that glass of
water with a microscope, my dear Celeste, you will be thoroughly
convinced of life, and also that you are daily drinking millions
of very unpleasant looking animals. A step higher up, you reach the
insects and the ephemera, who live their little day of breezy life
in the sunshine, and in their buzzing you find music commences. All
these little fellows, with wings and feelers, play very pretty tunes,
if your ear is only good enough to catch them, when they praise God
by beating their gauzy wings together. As you pass from the insects
to the birds, life is more pronounced, and the music of which I
have spoken develops in construction and increases in beauty. Now,
we are reaching the grade of animals, where intelligence commences;
and as we come up to the dog, ox, horse or elephant, affection is
added to intelligence. The animals begin to assume the qualities of
man, and before we are aware of it, some of the animals are walking
on two legs instead of four, and assuming the form and features of
men, as, for instance, the monkeys, the apes, and the orang-utans.
You pass from the monkey to the Digger Indian or Hottentot, and with
the single unimportant exception of length of tail, it is well nigh
impossible to tell them apart. Man is a short-tailed monkey, or,
_vice versa_, monkey is a long-tailed man. Even in the highest order
of man, it is sometimes difficult to tell a man from a monkey. Turn
a child out into the woods, and let it grow up for thirty or forty
years, subsisting upon roots, herbs and nuts, like an animal, and
what does it become at last but a hairy, chattering ape, climbing
trees, burrowing in the ground, and living like an animal? Thus we
rise through various grades of men, each new type more perfect than
the other, but still possessing some characteristic of the animal,
until we reach woman, who is a step higher; then up through the
various types of women, until we reach the angels; through the
various types of angels until we reach the archangels, and then
through the shining hierarchy of Heaven, until we stop at God, the
centre of all life and the sun of all perfection, beyond Whom is
nullity.

Thus do I believe that man is linked with all animal and vegetable
forms below him, and that in each change the higher type takes
something from the lower and preserves some characteristics of
it, and that man loves God best when he loves all the types below
him--the beast, the bird, the insect, the flower, and even the
atom. The line from God to the atom, and from the atom to God,
seems to me clear and uninterrupted; and thus the whole of this
great universe is bound together by clear, though sometimes unseen
relations, and radiates from God, its centre. And who knows but that
in other planets there are intelligences superior to us, forming
more links in this grand chain? When man dies, he goes back to the
dust whence he sprang. He mingles with the brook; he blossoms in
the flowers of the field; he is crystalized into the mineral; and
thus part after part is absorbed, until only the original atom is
left, which is the foundation upon which God has built up all this
marvelous superstructure. Purified of all the bad qualities of animal
and vegetable, and other material organisms, the soul, or what the
philosophers call the Ego, only is left, and is only fitted to be in
the presence of the Originator of this complex mechanism.

Exactly where the soul comes in, in tracing the changes from type
to type, I confess, is a difficult matter to solve. The physical
peculiarities are easily defined, but the spiritual developments are
very subtle. I am free to confess to you that I don't believe man
has a monopoly of all the soul there is in the world. I am prepared
to admit that some men don't have souls at all, but only instincts.
The common saying, "This man hasn't the soul of a louse," I think may
be literally true. Some animals, I solemnly believe, have larger,
better and truer souls than some men. All the learned arguments
in the world would never convince me that the faithful horse, who
is diligent in business, who understands what is said to him, and
who stands there weeping big tears out of his eyes, and uttering a
mournful cry under the lash of the brute who is driving him, has not
a soul, and more than that, a better and bigger soul than his driver.
The mental acumen of all the schools would never convince me that the
faithful dog who loses his master, searches for him day and night,
only to find his grave, and, lying upon that grave, refuses food and
drink, and, moaning piteously, dies upon his master's sleeping place,
has not a soul. Did you ever look directly into the eyes of the ox,
and not see the soul of the animal looking out at you in those soft
and expressive orbs? To my mind, blind old Homer never said a finer
thing than when he called the mother of the gods, "Ox-eyed Juno,"
although I think it was an injustice to the animal, because Juno was
a scallawag, and deserved just such an old rake of a husband as the
Cloud-Bearer.

In these various types we do not always find perfection. There are
breaks in the ascent. I will illustrate this to you. Among the
insects, there are fleas, mosquitos, cockroaches, and other species,
which have not advanced a particle in decency or intelligence above
the hideous horned animalisms in the drop of water. Among the birds,
there are some types of no more consequence than the insects. In the
higher grades of the animals, there are the same unfortunate breaks.
In the dog family, for instance, the yellow dog is really far below
the plane on which he stands. He belongs to the same category as
the skunk. He is of no earthly use to the types above or below him.
The only thing he can do is to bark; and as he barks at everything,
from the moon to a mud-puddle, even his barking has no significance.
When you get up to men, there is no exception to the rule. Some
men have not fully changed from one type to another, but have the
characteristics of the lower type in a crude form, like pollywogs and
water-newts.

Now, you see, assuming my doctrine to be correct, you can explain a
great many peculiarities of men, and the animal characteristics they
carry about with them. It explains why some men look like animals;
why some men act like a dog; why some are slow as a snail; why some
are secretive as a clam; why some absorb all you have got, like a
sponge; why some are as dirty as a hog; why some are as sly as a
fox; why some are as scaly as a fish; and so on _ad infinitum_. You
can find the features of almost every animal in the human face--the
ass and the monkey being specially prominent. The number of men,
who, in the change of types, have preserved the family semblance to
these animals is somewhat remarkable. In fact, the ass was a very
hard animal to get by in the ascent. Almost every man now and then
makes an ass of himself, and returns to the lower type--the only
shade of difference being in the length of the ear. Were it not that
a superior power continually holds him in check, man would gravitate
downward, as his whole tendency is to retrograde to these lower
types. Some men, who are not obstructed by this superior power,
manage to get back to the brute and stay there. He must have certain
conventional surroundings, also, in addition to this superior power,
which is that of education, to keep his elevated position.

I think that the women mainly come from the flowers and the birds.
You will find the analogies of nearly all women in the vegetable
kingdom. Some women, tender, delicate, fragile, and spiritual, have
all the attributes of the violet, and though they may blossom in
some out of the way corner, they make everything around them joyous
with their beauty and fragrance. Then there are others who flaunt
their heads with a pretty disdain, and dazzle you with the beauty
of their faces, but the moment you touch them, they fall to pieces
like the seeds of the dandelion. They won't bear handling. Then
there are women with strong natures, whose bodies are in harness,
and souls in curb, who resemble the tough azalea, with a stalk like
iron, and flowers we never care to gather, owing to their glutinous
consistency. There are other women whom you can't take hold of at
all. They repel you from every side like a porcupine. They resemble
the fruit of the Durion tree, which is excellent eating provided you
have courage enough to get through its hard spikes.

I was reading the other day that the birds of Paradise, when they are
in their most gorgeous plumage, select some tree, or other eligible
spot, go through with a regular dance for the edification of the
other birds, and, during the dance, display their lustrous feathers
by spreading them out as much as possible, and chatter together, in
an insanely garrulous manner.

I was about to make an application of this custom to women, when I
caught the eye of Mrs. Blobbs looking at me in a significant manner.
I confess to you I am a little afraid of that majestic woman when she
puts on her war-paint, and I immediately refrained, and we arose from
the table.

     May 15, 1869.



_WOMAN IN CHURCH._


In refusing to admit the women into the Young Men's Christian
Association, Brother Moody has thrown aside the strongest
element in religious matters which he could have used. Women are
peculiarly receptive. Their nature is intensely emotional. They see
instinctively where the man has to grope and reason his way up. A
thousand sympathetic tendrils stretch out from their hearts, like
the arms of the cuttle fish, which seize upon, wind around and
draw to the centre, in strong affinity, if not assimilation, every
object to which they are attracted. If it be good, it transforms
them to angels; if evil, to fiends. No man can be such a saint as a
woman; no man such a sinner. It is this intense emotion and natural
instinct which admirably qualify them for religious purposes. And it
proves, moreover, why, without them, there isn't a church in this
city that could live six months. The church membership as every one
knows is largely feminine. The influence which the Church exerts
is feminine. The sympathy which the minister gets is feminine. His
smoking-cap, dressing-robe, slippers, book-marks, donation-parties
and other pleasant perquisites are feminine. And all the grumbling,
fault-finding, hard work and hard knocks which the minister has
to encounter, are purely masculine. The man, naturally lacking in
reverence as well as religion, is inclined to regard the minister
from a commercial point of view, and to treat him as an equal, while
the woman looks up with admiring reverence.

Any woman who has been to church, unless her nearest neighbor has
just come out in a new hat, can tell you what text the minister
preached from, and give you a syllabus of his discourse. There
isn't one man in ten who can do that. The man carries his business
into church with him. The woman, unless there is an harassing doubt
concerning the integrity of the beans, which might have been placed
in the oven a little too soon, leaves her business at home. She can
shed her cares as an umbrella sheds rain. The man, be he a dentist,
allows dental reflections to insinuate themselves among the threads
of the discourse, and wonders how he can get sister this or that
into his chair of torture, and mentally determines to try it on at
the next sewing-circle. The doctor is rather quietly rejoiced to
see a large number of sisters absent, because this argues sickness.
Women don't stay away from church unless they are sick, or some one
is coming to dinner. The lawyer wonders if a certain statement the
minister has made, has any legal bearing, and this leads him to think
of the case of Boggs _vs._ Noggs, which is pending in the courts.
The merchant who has just seen two of his clerks driving down the
avenue at a very rapid rate, with cigars in their mouths, and in a
style which seems to indicate they are not going to a Sunday School,
wonders where they _are_ going, where they got their money to go
with, and what they are going to do when they get there. And so on
with each class. It is all very well to talk of the quiet of the
Sabbath, and the propriety of forgetting the things of this world.
It is a pretty theory, but men don't observe it. A man, in course
of time, gets his nature so soaked and saturated with the cares,
foibles, and follies of this world, that the moment it is squeezed
in the slightest degree, some of these things will ooze out. So he
thinks of the things of this world, and the words of the minister hum
through his thoughts as the buzz of the bees comes to your ears in a
hot summer day, when you are lying in the shade of the trees; and, as
the architect was in league with the devil when he built the church,
the ventilation is slightly bad. All these things militate against
watchfulness, and the man, having confidence that the minister is on
the right doctrinal track, quietly goes to sleep, and makes no sign
thereafter, except to brush a fly from his nose, or nod vigorous
assents to the parson's heads with his own.

I have noticed that women do not sleep in church. When Mrs. Blobbs
accompanies old Blobbs to church, that good woman's attention is
sadly distracted from the sermon, by the constant necessity of
punching Old Blobbs in the ribs to keep him from snoring, whereat
Old Blobbs opens both eyes wide open, fixes them upon the minister,
as if he had never slept a wink in his life, gives his individual
and serious attention to the sermon for the space of one minute,
gradually closes one eye, as if winking at somebody, then quietly
shuts the other, as if he did not want to disturb any one, and in
another moment his nose sounds the whistle that he has arrived at
the station of Morpheus, which necessitates another punch from Mrs.
Blobbs. Thus Old Blobbs is kept between a snore and a swear the
whole blessed morning, and goes home to his dinner without a single
coherent idea about the sermon, while Mrs. Blobbs can go from firstly
to tenthly, and throw in significant remarks about the young fellow
who was fool enough to go to sleep on a window sill, while Paul was
preaching, resulting in a broken neck, or something of that sort, you
know.

Woman gives herself up without a question or a doubt to the
inspiration of the hour, with the whole intensity of her emotional
nature, very much as I think I should give myself up to the beats and
pulsations of the organ-heart of some old cathedral, while the "dim,
religious light" streamed in through the stained windows, and saints
and martyrs looked down upon me from their niches.

And then a man in a sewing circle, or church sociable, or maternal
meeting, or aid society meeting, or anything else of that harmless
sort, is as much out of place, and as essentially useless as a
coal-heaver would be at a classical concert. And yet these are great
aids. They must be in the hands of the women. The major part of the
machinery of the church must be engineered by the women. For all
these reasons do I think that Brother Moody was unwise to refuse
admission to the women.

     May 22, 1869.



_THE MOUNTAINS._


Did you ever go East over the Pennsylvania Central Railroad? If not,
do it at your first opportunity, and get a glimpse at the mountain
scenery. It will reconcile you to life. The memory of those grand,
imposing forms, towering into the heavens, clothed with their mighty
greenery, girdled with the mists and crowned with the eternal
sunshine, will stand you in good stead when life presses with its
cares and anxieties, and the daily routine frets and worries, and
friendship grows forgetful, and the grasshopper begins to be a burden.

I remember that the first thought which flashed upon me, as I stood
upon the rear of the train, crawling up the hills in sinuous track,
like some great serpent, was not so much the physical aspects as the
perfect repose which seemed to brood among them. There was no life
apparent--no motion visible. There was a river, which now and then
glistened in the sunlight, but it was far down in the valleys, and
it seemed from our height only a silver thread, tying the mountains
together in a great emerald cluster. You saw the tops of the trees
overlaying each other, and covering the mountains like the scales of
a fish. But there was no motion in them. They were solid, massive
and gigantic as petrified Titans. I do not believe the birds sing
on those mountain sides; I do not believe the fairies gambol there
in the moonlight, nor even that the insects play their part in the
breezy morning symphonies under those still trees. It seems to me
that none but a Deity should come down to those mountain tops, and
thrice happy the man who can commune with him in that solitude. It
seems to me that there would be no need of the written word there.
The genius of solitude broods there--on the jutting peaks, in the
great trees, in the solemn shadows, in the dark, silent pools and
tarns, in the dank, trailing robes of the mist, and in the ineffable
golden glory of the sunshine. I can now see how Irma found repose on
"the Heights;" how she could reach from the Alpine summits up toward
Heaven, and feel the hand of the Great Father reaching down to her;
how, among the toils, and the sorrows, and the sins of the little
world down in the valleys, the sweet repose of the mountains purified
her; and how she struggled out of vice into virtue, out of impurity
into perfect purity. I can see how all great souls, tormented with
the follies and littleness of the world, with the ungratefulness
and faithlessness of those they have trusted, bound down under the
weight of their earthly burdens, their wings clipped, and their
hands fettered, have longed for the mountain tops, where they might
forever forget the world, and be alone with nature and the Deity. I
can see how God came down to Moses on the mountain; how the marvelous
transfiguration shone from the mountain; how Goethe sang,

    "On every height there lies repose."

Another thought struck me, and that was the magnificent littleness
of humanity, when it is brought into the presence of these mighty
manifestations of Nature. What a poor little speck you are upon the
great canvas! How small you look with your aches and pains, your
fusses and foibles, your fashions and furbelows, your vanities and
ambitions, in this eternal presence! How evanescent is fame; how
transient is wealth; how feeble is love; how fickle is friendship;
how small is this hand-breadth of life; how utterly insignificant
all accomplishment of human industry; how utterly pinchbeck all
displays of human grandeur, compared with this awful majesty of
Nature! How few men have caught the mountain spirit and left it in
their works! Blot out Shakspeare and Milton and Dante, Moses and Paul
and Martin Luther, Raphael and Michael Angelo, Rembrandt, Beethoven,
Mendelssohn, and Bach, and who is left to correspond with the height
and depth, the majesty and solitude of the mountains? Not that genius
was confined to them, but the other great names have been celebrated
in the valleys, by the brooks, and among the flowers. They made the
earth lovelier and brighter for their presence, but they did not
reach the heights of human nature, where dwells everlasting repose.
They saw the star-shadows on the water, but these others soared to
them in the heavens. They sowed the world with richest flowers of
thought. To these others, it was given to pluck the asphodels and
amaranths growing by eternal waters. They budded in the trees of the
valleys, and their songs were sweet. These others sought the regions
above the storms with their eagle-flights, and when their voices
come to us from their calm heights, they are laden with an awful
majesty and beauty, as the west is now laden with the thunder-clouds,
and pregnant with sweeping power, as those clouds are now pregnant
with the lightnings.

The physical aspects of these mountains are marvelously beautiful.
What a compact wall the tree-tops make! They seem impervious even
to the sharpest lightning. Their forms give you every diversity
of surface. Their outlines are never harsh or rugged, but always
undulating and graceful. As the train sweeps along, now you get only
the bold, precipitous wall of one mountain side. In a minute you get
a view of another face. Now a chain of mountains group themselves
together in a superb tableau. Now they form the gigantic setting of
a peaceful green valley with a river laughing in its face, with here
and there the dot of a house, and the column of thin, blue smoke no
bigger than that which curls up from your cigar. The next instant the
pretty vision is swept out of sight. You are thundering along on the
edge of a curve right in the clutches of these Titans. The motion
of the train impresses you with the idea that they are moving down
upon it with resistless might, and that they will crush it like an
egg-shell. You are surrounded with dense shadows. The mountains are
bowing down their shaggy heads. You almost feel their weight pressing
down upon you, and their breath, full of the bracing essence of
life, in your face. It seems almost profanation to speak with such a
presence near you, and you can only think thoughts too deep for the
fashion of words. But anon, the train speeds through the sulphurous
blackness of a tunnel, and you emerge into the sunlight, rolling
in great waves of gold up the mountain sides, and giving you weird
effects of light and shade, and constantly changing emerald tints
that would mock the finest frenzy of the artist. I believe the clouds
love to deck the mountains, as the sea loves to deck the shore with
shells and sea-flowers. A sunrise or sunset in those mountains when
the heavens are full of clouds, shows what dyes nature can use, and
what forms she can mould, as you will see them nowhere else.

     July 3, 1869.



_THE JUBILEE._


                            BOSTON, June 15, 1869.

The day of Jubilee has come.

Boston has been in a flutter of agitation and excitement to-day; for,
truth to say, Boston herself has not been over sanguine as to the
success of the Jubilee. It is probable that not a person in the city
has regarded the experiment in the light of an unquestioned success,
except Mr. Gilmore, in whose fertile brain the Jubilee was conceived,
and by whom it has been pushed forward, in the face of obstacles,
to a successful birth. When Mr. Gilmore offered the Jubilee to New
York, the Manhattanites laughed at him, and gently insinuated that
he had gone clean daft, whereupon Mr. Gilmore took his embryonic
Jubilee to Boston, and, undaunted by obstacles, and unannoyed by
the gibes and jeers of the faithless, he worked in season and out
of season, put this wheel and that wheel together, got this man and
that man interested in it, melted even the adamantine hearts of the
musicians themselves, and at last got his project so far advanced
that it became a matter of city pride to put the municipal shoulder
to the wheel and help Gilmore out with his mammoth undertaking. And
Boston did help him right royally. Once provided with the ducats and
with the collaterals, which guaranteed him financial safety, the
foundations of the enterprise were laid, and the superstructure grew
rapidly. Singers and instruments, big singers and little singers,
big fiddles and little fiddles, poured in as fast and as thick as
the dogs and cats in Beard's picture. I myself saw, riding on a boat
of Commodore Fisk's, from New York to Fall River, _en route_ to the
Jubilee, sixty double basses ranged along on the deck, like coffins
swathed in green bags, and to-day I saw them again manipulated in the
vast orchestra, to show that I do not lie.

The material was, at last, all in his hands, and the material was
composed of one thousand instruments--a big organ, ten thousand
singers, a Coliseum, and sundry properties by way of appendices, such
as a battery of artillery, church bells, and anvils. And the question
immediately arose:

What will he do with them?

This is the question which has agitated Boston to-day, from the
harbor to the Back Bay, and from Bunker Hill to Jamaica Plain. When
Boston woke up this morning, notwithstanding her doubts, she dressed
herself in festal garments of streamers, flags and bunting, to do
honor to the occasion, and to properly impress the strangers within
her borders with the fact that she was out for a holiday, and was
bound to enjoy herself. And there were strangers enough within her
borders. Every other man you met upon the narrow sidewalks was a
carpet-bagger, and every other woman had a roll of music in her
hands. Band musicians in all sorts of uniforms, carrying all sorts of
odd-looking boxes, met you and jostled you at every turn, for it is
impossible for two people to pass each other upon a Boston sidewalk,
especially if one has a box or a carpet-bag in his hands. Every
train and every boat which has arrived to-day was loaded down with
musical freight, and all the morning they filed down Boylston street
to the Coliseum, in water-proof cloaks with their rolls of music. The
hotels are filled with them. The boarding houses are full, both in
the city and in the suburbs, and even some of the public halls have
been provided with cots, to accommodate the melodious strangers, who
have come here to lift up their voices in the grand chorus.

And it is a grand chorus. In 1836, Mendelssohn, the great master,
led 536 performers, and ten years later led his own "Elijah," with
a chorus of 700 before him. In 1862 a chorus of 4,000 voices sang
together at the Crystal Palace in London; and last year Costa led
4,500 in the same building. It was considered a great event--an
episode in the history of music. Julien, that eccentric little
conductor, conceived the idea of increasing upon this number, but
the very magnitude of his operations turned his brain, and he died
in a mad-house--his disordered mind, even in his dying moments,
being occupied with an imaginary orchestra. It has been left for Mr.
Gilmore to eclipse them all. What was some time a problem is now a
fixed fact; and the annals of music can show no grander triumph than
that which this daring, hard working man has achieved this day. When
Mr. Gilmore's baton closed the final chord of the massive Martin
Luther choral, he had done something which was worth living for. He
had a right to be proud of his work.

The Coliseum in which the Jubilee is given, is upon the made lands of
the Back Bay. Upon its site young Boston has fished in the summer,
and skated in the winter. When Boston had filled out to the water's
edge, it did what Canute could not do. It commenced to drive back the
sea, and each step that the sea receded was filled up and built upon.
Aristocracy turned its eyes thitherward, and went there to build its
free-stone fronts, and made it the handsomest part of the city. The
Coliseum is on the newest of this land, where it has not yet been
divided off into lots. Its immediate surroundings, therefore, are
not very attractive. The exterior of the building is not remarkably
beautiful, and the fine Natural History rooms, and other elegant
buildings near by, provoke architectural comparisons not particularly
favorable to it. It has a cheerful, pleasant appearance, however,
and derives a certain sort of brilliancy from the little flags of
divers colors which flutter in the breeze from every salient point.
The hucksters and venders of notions, who have improved the occasion
to turn an honest or dishonest penny, as the case may be, have not
improved the _ensemble_ with their scores of board shanties and
canvas tents, which have been dumped down upon the crude ground in
every direction. Their name is almost literally legion. There are
venders of ice creams, which are mushy and sloppy; of soda water with
gaudily colored syrups; of innocent vegetable beer, for the hard hand
of the law forbids the sale of anything stronger; of domestic cigars
compounded of innocuous herbs; of oranges, and pop corn, and bananas,
and photographs, and fans. At this shanty you may get revolving heels
placed upon your boots, and at that one you can get key tags stamped.
Here the wild men of Borneo are delighting a crowd, and there you
may see a two-headed monkey cheap. Blind men are selling ballads.
Small girls are vending hot roasted peanuts. Here is a shooting
gallery, and there a fandango. The old buxom Irish women of the
common, who have been accustomed to drowse away their days under the
elms, have suddenly become imbued with the enterprise of the hour,
and are driving sharp bargains on the Back Bay in oranges and candy,
and puff away at their dhudeens with an air of self congratulation.

Notwithstanding these drawbacks, however, the Coliseum admirably
answers the purposes for which it was built. It is large enough
to accommodate all who will go. Its ventilation is excellent; its
acoustic properties good, and its conveniences perfect as they can
be. The interior is beautifully decorated with bunting, streamers,
flags, and various paintings and devices. The sub-rooms, especially
the reception room, are exquisitely adapted to the purposes for
which they were designed. The latter room, this morning, presented a
perfect wilderness of flowers, and its walls were hung with elegant
paintings. Its seating capacity is, I should judge, between thirty
and forty thousand, exclusive of the chorus and orchestra. The
roughness and blank appearance of unfinished wood-work, has been
concealed by drapery and bunting very gracefully arranged, and from
one end of the Coliseum to the other, the eye is attracted by the
brightest of colors.

It is now my task to describe to you the opening concert, and I
freely confess my inability to do so. As I write you, the deep
diapason of that mighty organ, the surging waves of harmony from the
largest orchestra and the marvelous sublimity of the largest chorus
the world has ever known, are still in my ears, and it seems to me
that I can find no words to describe it. I can feel it, but I cannot
make you feel it with poor words. It almost seems a profanation to
attempt it. To see that multitude alone is electrifying. It makes
your blood stir within you, to look upon that great sea of faces
stretching off into the distance, and to know that one man holds them
in his hand, and with his little baton guides and sways them at his
will. One man in that vast throng is only as one drop in the sea--one
grain of sand upon the shore. His voice is indistinguishable, but
the aggregate, you feel within you, will be as the on-coming of the
mighty storm.

Picture to yourself the scene. Immediately before you is the
orchestra, one thousand strong, occupying the level platform. The
brasses are at the rear, as you may easily perceive, by a strip as of
gold, which runs through the sombre black, and right between them is
a huge bass drum, looming up like the wheel of a steamboat. From this
level platform, on three sides, rises an amphitheatre, which holds
the great chorus, ten thousand strong. The sopranos are on the left,
the altos on the right, and the tenors and bassos in the centre,
and up from their midst rise the open pipes of the great organ,
the player of which sits facing the conductor, at some distance
from the organ, communicating with him by means of speaking tubes.
Sub-conductors are also located near each of the choral parts, who
convey the instructions of the main conductors. Just at the right of
the conductor there is an electrical battery which communicates with
a section of artillery at a distance. The instrumental performers
are arranged in the orchestra. The first, the chorus orchestra, is
made up as follows:

        _Stringed._            _Wind._
    First Violins    115 | Flutes          8
    Second Violins   100 | Clarionets      8
    Violoncellos      65 | Oboes           8
    Violas            65 | Bassoons        8
    Double Basses     85 | Horns          12
                    ---- | Trumpets        8
                     430 | Trombones       9
                      74 | Tubas           3
                    ---- | Drums          10
      Total,         504 |                --
                                          74

The grand orchestra is composed of the following instruments, in
addition to those specified above:

    Piccolos and Flutes              25
    E-flat Clarionets                20
    B-flat Clarionets                50
    E-flat Cornets                   50
    B-flat Cornets                   75
    E-flat Alto Horns                75
    B-flat Tenor Horns               25
    Tenor Trombones                  50
    Bass Trombones                   25
    B-flat Baritones                 25
    E-flat Basso Tubas               75
    Small Drums                      50
    Bass Drums                       25
    Cymbals                          10
    Triangles                        10
                                   ----
                                    590
      Chorus Orchestra              504
                                   ----
      Total                        1094

The players and singers are all in their places. The organ sounds a
few chords, and the players tune their instruments therefrom. Ole
Bull comes in and takes his seat at the head of the first violinists,
amid applause from all parts of the house, and the veteran Norwegian
cavalier sits there, with his bow upon his violin, as straight and as
lordly as one of his own pines, watching the conductor with flashing
eyes. It is Mr. Gilmore who has just followed him, and as he takes
the stand, enthusiasm breaks out in every part of the vast building,
and the applause is loud and long. When it has subsided, he raises
his baton. The chorus rises, and there is something stirring even
in the rising of such a vast throng. The audience is hushed, and,
for an instant, there is perfect stillness. The baton descends, and
chorus, orchestra and organ sound in a mighty chord of harmony the
opening note of Martin Luther's grand old choral. As they sweep
along through its slow and solemn movement as regularly as the swing
of a pendulum, the organ's mighty diapason upholding the whole and
keeping them together, it is like the voice of many waters. It is not
a chaos of noise, as I had dreamed it would be; not a mere volume
of sound without music. The voices come to you blended together as
the sounds of nature--the songs of the birds, the blasts of the
winds and the rushings of the torrents--blend. The instruments are
powerful, but smooth. In that vast array you lose the scrape of the
strings and the blare of the brasses. They are toned down into pure
harmony, and through all, in all, and about all, come the mighty
voices of the organ as the thunders come in the storm. The tears are
in your eyes before you know it. The audience before you disappears.
You are lifted, as it were, upon the great waves of music into the
very presence of the infinite, and the outside world, with all its
petty cares and troubles, is forgotten. On the repeat, the choral
is commenced _pianissimo_, and the music comes to you as if from
afar over the water. Gradually it approaches you, and, with a superb
_crescendo_, in which the organ carries everything along with it, the
cadenza is reached in a burst of harmony you have never heard before.
You may never hear it again. The conductor steps down from his stand
amid thunders of applause. It is at last proven that the Jubilee will
be a musical success.

Such singing and such playing I have never heard before. I do not
believe anything like it has ever been heard in the world. At first,
it seems to you that the choruses are not in time, for, from first to
last, they have not been with the conductor's beat, to one sitting at
some distance. Of course, you see the beat before you hear the sound,
as you see the wood-chopper's axe descend upon the distant hillside
before you hear the blow, and thus the chorus seems to be behind,
when, in reality, it is with the conductor.

Julius Eichberg, who wrote the pretty little "Doctor of Alcantara,"
next takes the baton, and the grand orchestra addresses itself to
the unraveling of Wagner's Tannhauser overture. The massing of
instruments in the opening of the overture is superb, and the main
theme is delivered with remarkable beauty. Soon they are lost in the
intricate modulations and chaotic discords of this musician of the
future; but when they begin to emerge into the chromatic violin runs,
and return once more to something which has a resemblance to melody
and a meaning in it, it is with a splendid burst of power; and one is
almost compelled to acknowledge that there is method in this Bavarian
madman, after all.

Once more, the chorus rises, and Carl Zerrahn takes the baton--the
flute-player of the old Germania orchestra, and one of the most
accomplished musicians living. He is a great favorite, both for his
musical and his gentlemanly qualities, and he is greeted with a very
storm of applause. The "Gloria" from Mozart's "Twelfth Mass" is next
on the programme. He is a very easy and graceful, and yet forcible
leader, and, notwithstanding the intricacy of the accompaniment and
the difficulty of the vocal score, under the magical influence of his
baton, the sublimity of the "Gloria" finds a graphic illustration.

Gounod's "Ave Maria," so full of suggestions of "Faust," is the next
number, and Parepa comes forward to sing it, dressed in pure white.
She receives a perfect ovation. In the morning, at rehearsal, she had
been very nervous. The vast orchestra and chorus before her almost
terrified her, and she was confident she could but make her voice
heard for a short distance. The "Ave Maria" is not a fair test of the
capabilities of her voice, however, as she has only an accompaniment
of _two hundred violins_ to do the _obligato_. She bows to the
audience, and, turning, acknowledges the hearty welcome which the
chorus has given her. Every tone of her voice is audible, even in the
most distant parts of the hall. Its absolute purity, and the entire
absence of woodiness in it, make it heard, and give you confidence
that you will also hear it in the "Inflammatus," where she will have
a severe test.

The "Star-Spangled Banner" is the next feature. It has been arranged
differently for this occasion, which may account for a slight _faux
pas_ which happened. The tenors and bassos take the first verse, and
the sopranos and altos the second verse in unison, which gives you
an excellent opportunity of hearing the various parts of the great
chorus by themselves. It would be difficult to say which was the
best, although I am inclined to give the palm to the tenors, and
yet I think no one who heard them can ever forget the other parts.
A serious mistake occurred in the accompaniment. The trumpets are
badly out. Some of the other brasses follow, and draw off some of the
violins. The chorus begins to waver. There is danger of a disastrous
breakdown. Gilmore, who is at the baton, is growing nervous; he
fairly jumps up and down in his anxiety. And still it is running
away, when suddenly Wilcox opens all the great organ, and with a
crash of sound and an obstinately right _tempo_, brings all the
discordant elements together again. The artillery peals in with its
thunder in perfect time, and as the last measure closes, the whole
audience rise unanimously to their feet at once, and the most intense
excitement prevails. Thousands of handkerchiefs are waved by the
ladies and flutter in the air like white doves. Men wave their hats
and clap their hands, and the air is filled with bravos and cheers,
which are kept up until the _encore_ is given.

Parepa has the next number, and it is her favorite number--the
"Inflammatus" from the Stabat Mater. Her voice has now a test such
as it has never had before; for in the last few measures she has to
sing against the full choral accompaniment of ten thousand voices,
the thousand instruments, and the organ. She passes through the
ordeal bravely. In the most distant part of the house you can hear
her voice. The sustaining of the upper C and the trills were superbly
done; and as she closed, her sustained high tones were as pure and as
beautiful as those of a bird singing in the distance. It was a grand
triumph for her, and the audience evidently regarded it in the same
manner, for they gave her a very hearty and unmistakable _encore_, to
which she replied with a repetition of the same. The absolute purity
of her voice was never better tested than upon this occasion.

Verdi should have been present to have heard his Anvil Chorus
performed. He is pre-eminently the great apostle of noise, and
ten thousand voices, one thousand instruments, one hundred
anvils--pounded by two hundred stalwart firemen in perfect time--and
a battery of artillery, adding to the din and marking the time
without a break, could not but have delighted him. The effect was
simply indescribable. The aggregate of sound was gigantic. The
firemen had been well trained, without the orchestra, by Mr. Gilmore
himself, and, although the whole affair was more or less sensational
and noisy, the effect was very stirring, and the audience insisted
upon an _encore_. Oliver Wendell Holmes' Hymn, set to the music of
Keller's "American Hymn;" the overture to "William Tell," which was
deliciously given; the Coronation March from the "Prophet," and the
national air, "America," completed this remarkable performance.

There were probably few among unprejudiced persons who did not
anticipate a musical failure upon this occasion. Many considered
it a piece of Boston braggadocio, and others a musical experiment,
in which all the chances were unfavorable. The result, however,
has proved just the reverse. With the exception, here and there,
of slight mistakes, in which some instruments got out of time and
occasioned variations which were so trifling that they did not
interfere with the effect, the whole affair was a musical success.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                    June 16, 1869.

The weather yesterday was purely Bostonian: wind from the southeast,
drizzling rains, dull, leaden clouds hurrying up from the salt water,
a sultry, humid atmosphere, and muddiest of all muddy flag-stones. It
was an inauspicious atmospherical commencement for the Jubilee, but
to-day the motto of the festival is granted, and we have peace. The
skies are bright, the air cool and bracing, and those little green
oases in the brick and stone desert, the Common and Public Gardens,
are as pleasant to the eye and as grateful to the senses as the
gardens of Paradise. The trees are alive with birds, the fountains
are glistening in the sunshine, and the cool walks are crowded with
pleasure-seekers and curiosity-hunters.

It is a gala day in Boston; for, in view of the arrival of the
President, the City Fathers have proclaimed a holiday, and all
Boston and the rest of the universe which revolves around it,
including Saugus Centre and Newton Four Corners, have turned out to
see General Grant and each other, eat popcorn and bananas, hear
the great chorus, and get all bedraggled and tired out by sunset.
The city is dressed out gaily in the red, white and blue, and, true
to the American characteristics, as much business as possible is
combined with it in the way of advertising. The American Eagle is
made to carry a fearful commercial weight upon his generous back in
Boston to-day, from the squat female Hibernian dealer in fly-specked
candies, even, to sundry granite-fronted, wholesale, solid men who
live in the omnipresent free-stone houses on the Back Bay. The
streets are literally crammed with people. Locomotion is a tedious
affair upon these ribbons of sidewalks, and the surging crowd
sometimes carries you, whether you will or no, into all sorts of
alleys and by-ways and serpentine streets, which are sure to land you
at somebody's front door. Fourth of July, the Saints' Day of Boston,
is in danger of its multitudinous laurels, for it has never witnessed
greater crowds than the magic baton of Gilmore has brought here.

Before I tell you of this second day of the Jubilee, I have a few
incidents of interest wherewith to prelude it. And first, the organ
itself is a noteworthy feature here, for it is the back-bone of the
music, which holds the ribs and small bones of the Jubilee, keeps
them in place, and prevents fracture. The organ was manufactured
by the Messrs. Hook, expressly for the occasion, in the short
space of four weeks, and was built with the design in view of
combining strength and volume of tone with the least possible space
in occupancy. The instrument has a very novel appearance, for the
reason that it stands without a case. Above a very slight casing
of chestnut and walnut, all the pipes of the "flute a Pavilion"
are displayed--a stop which answers to the "Open Diapason." Behind
these and others are the pipes of the "Bombarde," a sixteen-feet reed
stop, and, still behind these, the vast wooden pipes of the "Grand
Sub Bass," which form a double wall across the rear of the organ.
On each side are the pipes of the "Pedale Posanne." The grouping of
the pipes is very symmetrical, and presents quite as imposing, if
not so beautiful an appearance as an elaborate case. The width of
the organ across the front is twenty-two feet, and the height thirty
feet. The wind-pressure used is at least four times that of ordinary
organs, requiring four thousand pounds weight upon the bellows.
Notwithstanding its great power, the tone is by no means harsh,
but very agreeably rich and pleasant, and combines great intensity
and solidity with the most brilliant seriousness conceivable. Its
marvelous power and volume were specially manifested yesterday, when
the orchestra began to break in the "Star-Spangled Banner." Mr.
Wilcox, for a moment, seemed to be gathering up the resources of the
organ in his hands, and then let it out in a manner which resembled
the rushing of a storm more than anything else; but it had the effect
to bring order out of chaos, and when once more he gathered back and
restrained its powers, the instruments were playing like a charm.

Individuals count but little in this vast assemblage of singers and
players, and yet there are notable people there whose superb solo
singing and playing have been familiar to the public in concert
rooms and opera for years. Look among the first violinists and you
will see Ole Bull, prince of them all, fired with the spirit of the
occasion. In the aggregate of sound you cannot hear a tone from his
violin, and yet you know from his manner that the old Scandinavian is
playing as he never played before. There is Carl Rosa, the _petite_
Hamburger, a boy among them in appearance, wielding his bow with the
general enthusiasm of the occasion. There is Schultze, who, years
ago--how many leaves have fallen since then--stood at the head of
the first violinists in the old Germania Orchestra, and distracted
the ladies with the fine tinge of his cheeks and his "Sounds from
Home;" and Zerrahn, who stood opposite him in that same organization,
playing the flute, is now wielding the baton for his old compatriot.
There is Julius Eichberg, who wrote the charming "Doctor of
Alcantara" and the "Two Cadis," a most accomplished musician; and
there are Grill and Mollenhauer, Besig and Moll, of New York. In
the second violins you will find Carl Meisel, of the Mendelssohn
Quintette; Eichler, of Boston; Reichardt, Ritter, Conrad and others,
of New York. Thomas Ryan has dropped his clarionet and Heindl has
dropped his flute, and both have taken violas in the grand orchestra.
Wulf Fries and Suck and Henry Mollenhauer have their violoncellos
before them, and Muller and Stein their double basses. Koppitz,
Zohler and Carlo are blowing their flutes. Among the oboes you will
find De Ribas, Mente and Taulwasser. And glorious Arbuckle sends the
clarion blasts of his cornet shivering through the music as a flash
of lightning cuts through a cloud.

Among the singers also, you will find notable names. Among the
sopranos are the matchless Parepa, Mrs. H. M. Smith, Mrs. Sophia
Mozart, Miss Gates, Miss Annie Granger, Miss Graziella Ridgway, Mrs.
D. C. Hall, Miss S. W. Barton and Mrs. J. W. Weston. Among the altos
are Adelaide Phillipps, Mrs. Drake, Miss Addie S. Ryan, Mrs. C. A.
Barry, and Mrs. Guilmette. Among the tenors are the two Whitneys,
L. W. Wheeler and James P. Draper. There are prominent singers
also among the bassos, such names as Rudolphsen, Powers, McLellan,
Ardavani, Perkins, Kimball, M. W. Whitney and Dr. Guilmette.

The telegraph will have anticipated me concerning the movements
of General Grant. His arrival, and the fact that he would be
present at the Coliseum, swelled the crowd about that building
and in the vicinity to enormous proportions. The streets were one
swaying, surging mass of humanity. Vehicles were jammed together
in inextricable confusion. The horse-cars found it impossible to
proceed, and, being piled together in long lines, sometimes a mile in
length, added to the general distraction. The Hub was in a hubbub.
I made the journey from the Coliseum to the State House, ordinarily
a five minutes' walk, in exactly one hour by the Park Street Church
clock, which never lies. As the time approached for the opening
of the concert, the rush was fearful. At every one of the twelve
entrances to the Coliseum, thousands of people were jammed together,
pushing and fairly trampling upon one another. The efforts of the
police, efficient as they have been, were of no avail. Hundreds and
hundreds of people who had tickets turned and went away, rather than
face that crowd. Women became timid and shrank from it. There were
some, however, who resolutely went in, and some of them came out
squeezed. Some fainted and were, with difficulty, extricated. Not
one of them but had rumpled feathers, smashed _paniers_, dishevelled
hair and flushed, perspiring faces, when they had fairly effected
an entrance. For an hour at least this terrible crush continued. It
was such a crowd as Boston has never seen before. It is doubtful
whether any city has ever witnessed the like. And all this while all
the streets, even the spacious Common, were densely packed, so that
walking was impossible. The trees bore human fruit in black clusters.
The fences were selvedged with humanity. All the doorsteps of the
palatial stone fronts stood disgusted with the loads of country
cousins they were compelled to bear.

The audience inside the Coliseum was a scene for a lifetime. It gave
you an idea of the sublimity of humanity such as is rarely afforded.
There must have been, including the performers, 50,000 people inside
that building. Far as you could see, and you can see a great way in
that building, was one vast sea of human faces. It was a sublime
sight, and it was a beautiful sight as well, for the blues and
purples of the ladies' apparel catching the sunlight which streamed
in through the windows, made it seem like a garden of gorgeous
flowers, and shine in splendid contrast with the reds and yellows of
the flags and streamers, and when, in a moment of sudden applause,
the waving of handkerchiefs fluttered over this vast crowd, it was
hard to convince yourself that they were not white-winged birds,
flying over the throng. For a time, the rush inside the Coliseum was
almost as terrific as that outside.

Some delay was experienced in waiting for the President and his
staff, and when they did enter, the whole audience had become seated.
Their appearance was the signal for a general uprising. The great
organ pealed out above the multitudinous din, "See the Conquering
Hero Comes." He advanced to his seat, in the centre of the house,
amid a perfect storm of applause, waving of handkerchiefs, bravos and
cheers, and standing upon his sofa acknowledged them.

When the President had taken his seat and order was restored, Carl
Zerrahn took the conductor's stand to lead the festival overture,
based upon the Luther Choral, _Ein Feste Berg ist unser Gott_, the
simple theme of which had been sung the day before. The arrangement
is by Nicolai, and is in fugue treatment, opening with the theme for
all parts. The fugue is then taken by the orchestra and superbly
worked up. The chorus anon takes the same fugue, and closes by
returning to the original theme, which was given with immense power
and effect. The programme was mainly of an oratorio character, and
this school of music probably never before had such a magnificent
illustration. The dignity, grandeur and sublimity, and the solemn
power of the great oratorio master-pieces could never before have
been fully felt. The first selections were the "Glory to God in
the Highest," and the chorus, "And the Glory of the Lord shall be
Revealed," from the "Messiah," which were given with admirable effect
and with better singing than characterized the first day's concert.

The next number on the programme was the recitative and aria,
"_Non piu di fiori_," from Mozart's "La Clemenza di Tito," for
Miss Adelaide Phillipps, and as that lady came forward she was
received with very hearty applause, but not with that cordiality
of greeting I had expected to witness from a Boston audience to a
Boston singer. Her selection was a most unfortunate one. It was too
florid in character and marred the unity of the oratorio nature of
the performance. It would have been in much better taste also to
have selected something in English than in Italian. It is but simple
truth also to say that her singing was no better than her taste
in selection. She was not able to cope with the obstacles of the
house and the audience. But one tone of her voice was thoroughly
distinct at the rear of the hall. Her singing, at a distance, was
so very expressionless that it fell utterly cold and flat, and
people talked and turned uneasily in their seats. And perhaps it was
worse than all else that she did not sing true, and at one time was
almost hopelessly floating along upon a discord. Every advantage was
afforded her, for only a handful of instruments accompanied her, and
these were toned down to _pianissimo_. Her fine chest voice, which
is so effective on the operatic stage, was almost inaudible beyond
the centre of the hall. A flutter of applause ran over the audience
when she had finished, and then came Mendelssohn's magnificent
chorus from "Elijah"--"He watching over Israel." Zerrahn leaves the
orchestra in the hand of another conductor, and takes his place in
the centre of the vast chorus with baton in hand. There must be no
mistake made in Felix Mendelssohn's music. Its ineffable beauty
must not be marred by a single spot or flaw. And it was not. The
two conductors' batons moved as if they were in the hands of one,
and, from first to last, the chorus and orchestra were together in
perfect time and with the most tender regard for light and shade. I
could not help wishing that Felix Mendelssohn himself could have been
there. How small and feeble would the 500 Birmingham performers have
seemed to him in the presence of this vast multitude! How his great
heart would have rejoiced within him to have heard this chorus, so
full of dignity, and piety, and beauty, sung by such a massing of
voices and instruments! What letters he would have written to his
sister! To have heard that performance was the event of a lifetime,
for it may never be done again. Had I been Carl Zerrahn, it seems
to me, I should have been the happiest man in the world. If spirits
are allowed to visit this lower world, then certainly the spirit of
Mendelssohn must have been in that hall, and must have guided and
inspired that baton, for it held the singers, organ and instruments
together like magic, and when it had made its last beat, the audience
broke out into loud and long continued applause.

Parepa came upon the platform for the next number, "Let the Bright
Seraphim," from Handel, and received an ovation which even eclipsed
that given to the President. Arbuckle took his place beside her, to
play the trumpet _obligato_, using the cornet as players invariably
do. The instrument and voice were twins in time and tone, and the
responses of the singer to the trumpet came every time, as truthful
as an echo. I have never heard a more marvelously beautiful piece of
singing with an instrument, and, when it was finished, the applause
was almost deafening in every part of the vast building, the chorus
joining in with the audience. The cheers and bravos, which compelled
an _encore_, fairly shook the building.

In the interim, between the two parts, the Star-Spangled Banner
and the Anvil Chorus were repeated, for the gratification of the
President. In the second part, the C major symphony of Schubert was
given. The hour was growing late, and only the Andante and Finale
were played. "The Heavens are Telling," sung with immense effect,
closed the concert.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                    June 17, 1869.

The sudden death of Mrs. George L. Dunlap, of Chicago, during the
concert yesterday, has caused a widespread feeling of sadness here,
even among those who were not acquainted with her; while those who
did know her, and were familiar with her many lovely traits of
character, deeply feel this sudden bereavement. She passed away in
the twinkling of an eye, literally without warning, and expired in
the arms of one of her dearest friends, Mrs. Ellis, of Chicago. It
was a startling fact in the midst of so much life! Fifty thousand
hearts pulsating to the sublime music from the great chorus, and one
is suddenly stilled forever! No one among the many thousands who were
present yesterday entered with lighter heart, more buoyant spirits,
or apparently better health; and if you had been asked to select the
one in that great throng whom Death would strike first, she would
have been the last you would have selected. I saw her on Tuesday as
she sat in her place, her face beaming with delight as she listened
to the music, and I saw her again on yesterday, as she suddenly fell
into the arms of her brother like a rose snapped from its stem; and
I can scarcely yet comprehend that she is dead. She breathed her
last breath as Parepa was singing the angelic song, "Let the Bright
Seraphim," and she passed from among us and joined those seraphim
and continued the song. And it seems to me, if I had been permitted
to look into that far country, that I should have seen her sitting
by the side of the angelic old master, Handel, telling him of the
celestial song which so suddenly died upon her ears in the presence
of the vast multitude, whose song was as the voice of many waters,
and that I should have seen him bending forward, with a thoughtful
look, and listening to her as she told him of the "Messiah," which
she had heard on the day before she died. I know that she and the
master will be friends through all eternity, and thus the majesty of
genius and the beauty of loveliness will be joined together forever.

And to him who sits in bereavement to-day, may there come consolation
and the gift of the tender pity of the Great Father, and may the
darkened homes in Boston and Chicago be made holy for all his and
their coming days, with the recollections of her loveliness and true
womanly character.

It is a clear, cloudless day, and had that man Gilmore, with the
steam engine inside of him, made special arrangements with the
weather-clerk, he could not have secured a more auspicious day. The
crowd yesterday was great, but the crowd to-day is greater.

The programme to-day is purely a popular one. There are the overture
to Fra Diavolo, a Peace March composed for the occasion by Janotta,
whoever he is, which is not original and very tiresome; the
inevitable Anvil Chorus, with the artillery and bells; a sensational
and rather commonplace overture, built up by C. C. Converse, on
"Hail Columbia;" and national airs, which the orchestra flounder
through rather than play. Indeed, if you watch Wulf Fries, Rosa,
Schultze, or any of the leading players, you see their faces all
scowled up as they wade through so much musical swash, so unworthy
of the great orchestra. In fact, there is no atmosphere of art here
to-day. The only feature of interest in the Fra Diavolo overture is
the trumpet solo, which is taken by fifty instruments instead of
one, and gives out a clarion blast which might wake the dead. The
rest of the overture, however does not go well. The second violins
are shocking. Gilmore has not got them well in hand. In the Grand
March, done by Janotta for the occasion, there are reminiscences
all the way through, of Tannhauser, the Coronation and the Wedding
March, and the connecting links are very weak, sometimes almost
stupid. The man who writes marches for such an orchestra should
be inspired. He should feel the electricity of the great audience
tingling through his veins. Heavens! If only Beethoven, Mendelssohn,
Handel, Haydn, Meyerbeer, Rossini, anybody, were living to write for
this organ and orchestra. We want columbiads and have got pop-guns--a
mountain thunder-storm, and we have a silly April rain--a Jeremiah,
and we have nothing better than Daniel Pratt. Converse's trivial
arrangement of "Hail Columbia" is no better, perhaps not so good. It
is profanation to devote a thousand instruments and an organ four
times the power of that in the Music Hall to such commonplaces. The
old masters would have died contented once to have got the _baton_
in their hands with such a massing of instruments and voices for the
production of their works. Then, again, we are treated to Bilse's
"_Marche Militaire_," to the "Star Spangled Banner," the "Harp that
Once thro' Tara's Halls," and the overture to "Stradella," all
good enough in their way and in their place. But how feeble, how
purposeless, how silly they all are in this place! What does Hercules
want of a wax doll? Or Samson of a child's grasp to carry off the
gates of Gaza?

We have again the "Anvil Chorus." To be sure, it goes well. The
artillery is fired with strict precision, because it can't be fired
any other way. It emphasizes the initial notes of the bars very
grandly and very effectively, but then what is the use of emphasizing
such stuff at all? The firemen pound their anvils very precisely, and
on the very second of time, and make a very hearty cling-clang; but
it would be to more purpose were a hundred horses waiting to be shod.
There is no music in all this. It is noisy; it is sensational; it is
humbug; it is anything you please--but music. And yet the audience
is hugely delighted and they demand the _bis_ each day; and this,
too, in Boston, where the purists live--where art is supposed to have
its home and flourish like the green bay tree. Tell it not in Gath
that a Boston audience has _encored_ Verdi's Anvil Chorus, performed
by red-shirted firemen, batteries of artillery, etc., and allowed
the grand chorals of Luther and "He Watching Over Israel," which
were done as they have never been done before--which were so full of
sublimity and majesty and dignity, and so musically excellent in
their treatment that it made one's heart fairly stop beating--to go
by almost without recognition. It seemed to me that all possibilities
of life and all conditions of the hereafter were bound up in that
performance of Mendelssohn's chorus. Zerrahn himself approached it
with fear and trembling. The organ was silenced. The instruments were
toned down. He would not even trust himself upon the conductor's
stand, but took his place right in the heart of the vast chorus. How
sweetly the sopranos take the opening of the theme, and then come
the tenors alone--"Shouldst thou walking in grief." How sublimely
that prayer is delivered? Then how part after part rises in splendid
climax and finally dies away in a soft _piano_, with just the
faintest ripple of sounding, like the plashing of waves on a beach,
stealing across the orchestra! There is a slapping of hands among the
audience as if the music had been tolerated, but they will go crazy
when the Anvil Chorus comes.

To-day, I have sat within three rows of the conductor's stand. The
effect is very grand, but it is more noise than music, and you
can put nothing together. If you go to the rear of the hall, you
get a better harmonic blending and less noise. Indeed, a thousand
performers in Farwell Hall would make just as much noise as the
ten thousand performers do in the Coliseum, or, rather, the effect
would strike you with equal power. It is probable that no amount
of technical skill upon the part of the conductor, or of force and
fidelity upon the part of the singers, could change this. It is
impossible for such a great body of sound, occupying such a vast
space, to reach a single ear with anything like its full force, or
even with any degree of regularity; and if you watch the conductor,
you will be still more confused, for, apparently, he is beating
ahead of time--such is the discrepancy of time between the blow of
the baton and the speed with which time travels. The chorus may, and
with trivial exceptions does, follow the beat of the conductor with
great precision, but the confusion is always noticeable. Again, the
distance from those in the rear of the chorus to the front ranks is
very large, and, although all may start upon the beat, by the time
the sounds reach you, there is a difference, very slight, it is true,
but nevertheless perceptible, especially in words ending with "s,"
"t," or any harsh letter. In the long notes of the chorals which are
decidedly _the_ features of the concert, you do not notice it so
much, but, in many of the quick choruses, sometimes everything seems
at sea to you, when, in reality, it is going very smoothly. With so
vast a chorus, also, it is very difficult to preserve the delicate
transitions. You can get a _fortissimo_ or a _pianissimo_, but it is
extremely difficult to get the _forte_ and _piano_. The tendency of
this multitude is either to sing too loud or too soft, and there is
the same fact noticeable upon the part of the orchestra. With the
organ it is different. Mr. Wilcox, at any moment he pleases, has
the power in his hands to drown chorus and orchestra both, with its
thunder. Its tones fairly pierce through and through the aggregate of
sound at times with almost startling effect, and, wherever there is a
weak spot, it can be covered up without difficulty. In the chorals,
the power is specially manifested. In the hands of a skillful person,
one beat of a baton would be all that was necessary to keep the
chorus to its work. It could not get away from that organ if it
tried--the pedal bass is so immense, so uplifting and so sustaining.

I think there is a universal disappointment in regard to the volume
of sound to be produced by this chorus. People have imagined that
the sound of ten thousand voices in the Coliseum, for instance,
would be ten times as loud as one thousand voices in the Music Hall;
but in reality it is no louder. They did not make calculations for
the increased size of the building and the obstacles placed in the
way of the traveling of sound and grasping it with the ear. My own
disappointment has been a happy one. I had thought the noise would
be simply noise, but the noise has been music. It has now been
thoroughly proved that a chorus and orchestra of this size can be
manipulated and not only be made to sing and play together, but to
sing and play with expression and even approximate to a certain
degree of light and shade. But yet, apart from the magnetism, there
is in such a vast human presence, I do not see that the increase in
numbers is really an advantage in making effects. It was a splendid
experiment to try, however, and it speaks volumes for the skill of
Mr. Gilmore, who conceived and organized it, and for Mr. Zerrahn, who
has conducted the oratorio and classical parts of the programme.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                    June 18, 1869.

The crowd is not quite so large as that of yesterday, and yet the
building is well filled. The programme was almost exclusively
classical, and was opened with Weber's brilliant "Jubilee Overture,"
with the baton in Eichberg's hands. It was not given very effectively
until the national theme in the _finale_ was reached. This was played
superbly by the brasses. The Fifth Symphony of Beethoven was only
given in part, the _Andante_ and last half of the _Finale_ being
played. It was something to be grateful for, to get even a fraction
of the symphony, but it seemed almost cruel to cut the work or
mar its unity in the least. It is the first time I have seen the
orchestra really get down to its work as if they loved it. There was
no talking among them, no listlessness. Every man sat in his place
as eager for the start as a hound to slip from his leash, one eye
upon Zerrahn, and the other upon his score. Two policemen standing
in the aisle near the first violinists are talking together, and
Carl Rosa and a half dozen others snap at them to stop their gossip.
_Apropos_ of Carl Rosa, he has proved himself an artist through this
jubilee. He has been in his place every day promptly at the hour, and
has played through every note of every programme. I regret that Ole
Bull, who has been in the city during the whole week, only appeared
on the opening day. It will be a matter of surprise to his admirers
that he should so far have lacked enthusiasm as to absent himself
upon such an occasion. The two movements of the symphony were played
conscientiously and _con amore_, and there was little to ask for
which was not given in its production.

Zerrahn seems to have a partiality for Mendelssohn, for when he came
to the "Elijah" chorus, "Thanks be to God, He laveth the thirsty
land," his instructions were more than usually explicit. The chorus,
however, did not get the beat, and for a moment there was danger
of a catastrophe. Zerrahn left his stand as quick as a rocket, and,
waving his baton, went down into the chorus. The electricity of his
manner fused the discordant elements, and with "The waters gather
they rush along," all were together. Zerrahn remained at his post,
and Schultze took the orchestra in hand, with his bow for baton, and
the two batons moved like magic, and chorus and orchestra played
like magic to the end, sweeping through the jubilant number like the
march of a storm. If the chorus had never sung any thing else this
would have paid for the difficulties of organization and been a rich
remuneration for all the labors.

Miss Phillipps made her second appearance of the season, and was
cordially greeted. She sang the familiar "Lascia Pianga" of Handel's,
which is one of her concert favorites. She appeared to much better
advantage than on Tuesday, mainly because the selection was in better
taste; but, sitting even as near as I did, her voice seemed hard and
cold and she was evidently singing with great effort. At the close,
the enthusiasm of the chorus, joined with that of the audience,
secured her an _encore_, which she acknowledged by repeating the air,
and singing part of it to the chorus.

The programme was closed with the Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah,
the whole chorus, orchestra and audience rising to their feet while
it was performed. In spite of its inherent difficulties and broken
time, it was carried through superbly, and as the final "Amen" pealed
out with majestic power, the Jubilee was at an end, so far as the
great chorus was concerned.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                    June 19, 1869.

The day of Jubilee has gone. The great Peace Festival has passed
into the annals of musical history. The outside halo of peace which
encircled it shone so dimly that I do not conceive any national
significance attaches to it. It is to be judged purely as a musical
event, and it will take its place in musical annals as an ambitious
and bold experiment, and, in large degree, as a grand success. There
were points open to honest criticism, and some of these points I have
indicated in these letters; but many of these defects were beyond
the remedy either of conductor or chorus. It was a musical success,
because it has shown that ten thousand people can sing together and
one thousand instruments play together, not only both in time and
tune, but also with sufficient expression to make effects. It is
not to be denied that some very paltry music has been played--in
fact, the whole programme of Thursday was devoted just to this class
of music--and that many of the numbers in each day were purely
meretricious and sensational. But the bare fact of the organization
and manipulation of such a vast chorus and orchestra stands now,
and will always stand, as a monument of which the projector and his
assistants have a right to be proud.

The great chorus dispersed last evening, having accomplished its
arduous work. Exhausted as they must have been with the four days'
task, I doubt whether any one of the ten thousand singers closed his
or her book without regret. It was something to be proud of to have
sung and played at this Jubilee. I can appreciate the feelings of a
prominent Chicago bass singer, who had been only a listener during
a portion of the programme on Friday. The next number was the grand
chorus, "Thanks be to God," from "Elijah." He hurried over to me,
and, seizing me by the collar, said: "Tell me how I can get into that
chorus. I cannot stand this any longer. I _must_ sing the Elijah
piece." I directed him how to get admission, and the next I saw of
him he was in the front rank of the bassos, joining his voice with
the thousands around him in the grand swelling anthem of praise.

To-day has been given almost exclusively to the school-children. It
was a grand sight to look at the adult chorus, but it was a beautiful
sight to look at the children. Eight thousand of them were gathered
together from the public schools. The girls were clad in white, and
filled the wings, the boys occupying the places of the tenors and
bassos. The children arrived promptly--do they ever arrive any other
way?--and took their places without a particle of disorder. The white
dresses of the girls, trimmed with ribbons of varied colors, their
fresh young faces, and the eager, enthusiastic faces of the boys,
made up a picture of beauty not often looked upon. It was like a huge
garden _parterre_ of flowers, and, as great shafts of sunlight shot
in through the windows and bathed them with gold, and fans waved in
the happy throng like the wings of a multitude of birds, it made a
sight which may be the sight of a lifetime. The audience also was
an immense one, completely filling the building, and thus the _coup
d'oeil_ was fully as beautiful, if not as imposing, as on any day
during the week.

The performance commenced with the overture to "William Tell," which
was rendered with more animation than on Wednesday. The effects of
the cellos, headed by Wulf Fries, were particularly striking. Never
before have I heard this noblest of all instruments develop the human
voice tones as it has to-day. The applause had hardly subsided when
Eichberg rapped the juvenile chorus to attention with his baton.
The rising of the children was not like that of the adults. The
latter invariably rose slowly and successively, rank after rank.
The children, in their impatience, fairly sprang to their feet, and
stood, books in hand, eager for the signal. When it was given, they
took the beat together grandly, and commenced "Hail Columbia" in
unison. As they progressed, however, the instruments were quicker
than they, and there was some lagging, but the effect was very novel
and striking. Although the girls outnumbered the boys, the latter's
voices were much stronger and made themselves most clearly heard. The
freshness, purity and clearness of the voices easily rendered them
superior to the orchestra, and even the organ seemed to affect them
but little. There was no difficulty in hearing them, for each one
of the little people was singing for dear life and working with all
the zest and enthusiasm of a child's nature. By some process known
only to children, they came out together at the end of each stanza,
although they sometimes diverged widely in the middle.

Think of children singing Mercadante's music! But they did it, and
superbly, too. His chorus, "Now the Twilight Softly Stealing," was
given by them admirably. It was arranged as a solo for sopranos and
altos, and then taken in unison by the full chorus, and I have no
musical memory sweeter than the cadences of that chorus, which were
given with such beauty and freshness by these children.

Miss Phillipps is set down for the next number, and, as she advances
down through the musicians to the stand, the children give her a
handsome ovation, the girls waving their handkerchiefs and the
boys cheering as only boys can cheer. She is going to sing the
_brindisi_ from Lucrezia Borgia--"II Segreto." Everybody has heard
her sing it in the bewitching _role_ of _Maffeo Orsini_, but we may
never hear her sing it again under circumstances like these, for
she is now singing it to at least forty thousand people. Eichberg
was cool enough with the children, but he is very nervous now, and
he gives the _tempo_ so fast to the orchestra that Rosa and half a
dozen others look up in surprise. Adelaide herself grows pale and
says to him, "Too fast, too fast." The baton moves slower--and how
marvelously the instruments obey! It is all right. Adelaide does not
look much like _Maffeo_ in her high-necked white dress, but she sings
the famous drinking-song in excellent taste, and succeeds in making
her voice heard throughout the hall better than she has heretofore.
She gets a hearty _encore_, and repeats the aria, accompanying it
this time with a prolonged trill, which was superbly formed.

Again, the children are on their feet. Brinley Richards' solo and
chorus "So Merrily over the Ocean Spray," are the numbers. The air is
given with a rocking, undulating rhythm, which is admirably preserved
by the children, and the effect gains in intensity as the full chorus
and organ add their volume of sound.

Almost before the children are in their seats, the tall form of
Ole Bull comes down the aisle, and they rise and give him a hearty
reception. He chooses his little _andante_ minor melody, the
"Mother's Prayer," bends his head over his violin, closes his eyes,
and plays away, ravishingly sweet, but so _pianissimo_ that only the
orchestra and a few of the front rows can hear him. Those who do hear
him have a great treat, and the orchestra is so charmed that it raps
lustily upon the backs of its violins.

Parepa, clad in an elegant black moire-antique, receives an
enthusiastic ovation. She sings "Let the Glad Seraphim," which she
sang the other day when poor Mrs. Dunlap was dying, accompanied
by Arbuckle whose cornet needs only a few tricks of tonguing to
be superior to Levy's. What superb responses the cornet makes to
her, and how perfectly voice and instrument match each other! It
is something to remember, this duo. But there is another duo even
better. It is Rossini's matchless _Quis est Homo_. And who is to
sing it? Only Parepa and Adelaide Phillipps! Aren't you glad now
you came to the Jubilee? I will wager something you will never hear
this sung again as these two women sing it. I am afraid hereafter
I shall listen to the amateurs practising the great duo with less
than my usual patience. I never expect to hear it sung better. I
never expected it would be allowed me to hear it sung so well. What
expression! What style! What artistic method! What a rare and rich
vocal blending! Even the orchestra gets enthusiastic, and some
of the old veterans look up in absolute surprise at this alto in
white and this soprano in black, as they reach the _cadenza_ in a
magnificent burst of melody, which starts people to their feet, wild
with enthusiasm, crying bravo, waving handkerchiefs, hats, canes and
umbrellas. Of course, they have to repeat it, and of course everybody
gets wild again.

And then the children sing Old Hundred, and the audience rising,
sings it with them. And they sing well, for there are only 9,000 of
the choristers in the audience. Isn't it sublime?

    "Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,
    Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost."

And the Jubilee is over. The music is hushed. The voice of the great
organ is silent. The great waves of the chorus have subsided. The
singers and the players have gone, but I think, to their latest day,
they will not tire of telling their children that they sang and
played at the great Peace Jubilee.

There are a few parting incidents in the press room, and among them a
very graceful deed upon the part of the orchestra in presenting Mr.
Gilmore with an elegant watch and chain. And then everybody gives
Gilmore three cheers.

The man who has carried this thing in his head two years, and finally
organized it into a success, smilingly says:

"_Gentlemen_: We propose to repeat this Jubilee as a centennial--one
hundred years hence. You are all engaged."

One hundred years hence! Every heart in the great sea of humanity
which has surged in and out of the Coliseum this week will be silent
then. We shall all be silent then. We shall all be sleeping the sleep
of the just, with a stone at our heads and a stone at our feet,
where no sound of music can reach us. Other voices will sing above
us, and other instruments play, and little shall we reck of it. The
record of the Jubilee will outlive us all. But will they have in
the music of the future anything better, anything grander, anything
sublimer than the music of this week has been?

I think not. And so to the great chorus whose sound has been as
the voice of many waters; to the great orchestra which has given
us the immortal Fifth Symphony as Beethoven never heard it given;
to the mighty pulsation of the great organ heart; to the voices of
the children in their sweet, fresh unison; to her that died in the
midst of the music, and was translated to the heavens in a chariot
of harmony, whose beauty, and loveliness, and true womanliness will
be forever sacred to those who knew her; to the Peace Jubilee, with
all its pleasant associations and grand accomplishments, hail and
farewell.

"Let us have peace."



_THE DOUBLE LIFE._


I write from the pleasant little hamlet of Cherry Valley, under
the grateful shade of the locusts and poplars. Scarlet fuschias,
pendant from their curved stems, are swaying in the gentle west
wind, which is the favorite wind of the flowers. The odorous breath
of the geranium and sweet-briar loads the languid air with fragrant
blessing. The leaves of the trees overhead just ripple in the wind,
like little green waves, and sometimes seem to be whispering together
about some of those secrets of nature which you and I can never know,
as our ears are too gross--the same secrets which little bugs tell
each other in the grass--which the lightnings tell the clouds, as
they dart in and out their ragged fringes, like swallows darting in
and out the eaves--which the night-winds tell the mountain-tops in
the solemn darkness--which the birds sing to each other in umbrageous
tree-tops--which the fairies above the earth and gnomes under the
earth tell to each other at sunrise and set--the secrets which the
Faun knew when he called the animals to him. Some drowsy birds in
the trees are piping summer songs to each other. A magic stillness
broods in the air in this enchanted valley. Enchanted, because all
sounds--the patter of the leaves, the songs of birds, the laughter
of children, the lowing of herds, even the drowsy hum of the
house-fly--somehow seem to you to be at a distance and, in traveling
the distance, come to you fraught with suggestions of music and like
veiled spirits of sound, rather than the real substance. The leaves
of the corn are flashing like green blades in the sunshine, and the
grain-fields on these fertile hill-sides map the country in alternate
strips of green and emerald. And overhead, the great concave of the
sky, which shuts down upon this valley like a cover, is enameled in
blue and white, and scrolled with tufts and whirls of fleecy clouds,
past the skill of all cunning architects.

You see, Old Blobbs and Mrs. Blobbs, and Mignon and Celeste, and
Aurelia and the baby, and even Boosey and Fitz-Herbert, are all out
here together. The circle is complete, save the link that was broken
last winter, when the Maiden Aunt went to rejoin him she had mourned
so long and for whom she had waited so patiently. But, somehow, we
never think of her as gone, although she is sleeping in sound of
the surf she loved to hear and in sight of the waves which used to
talk to her, in the nights when the storms were all abroad and great
ships hurried by in the darkness, like cloudy ghosts of argosies
long since rotted in the sands. She seems always to be with us, she
was so lovable, so closely bound to us, so gentle in soul, and yet
so mysterious in her life--or, rather, in her double life; for I do
not think she lived altogether here. Have you never had the feeling
come over you, suddenly as a flash leaps from a cloud, that your
soul has left the body--that you have shed, as it were, the physical
shell which has hemmed you in, and that you are no longer confined
within the bounds of matter, but are free as a bird to roam through
space? I sometimes think this must be the feeling when death severs
the connection between soul and body, and that the effect must be
ecstatic to a degree of which we have little comprehension, when
every emotion is tempered with this "vesture of decay." I think the
Maiden Aunt lived this double life. Sometimes she was intensely
human, and her love and care for us all were unbounded. But again
there came a strange expression in her eyes and a strange look in
her face, as if a chink in the heavens had suddenly opened, and the
glamor of its light shone upon her, and through the cloudy rent
she were talking with some familiar friend who had gone before. At
such times, she did not seem to see us, or even to be aware of our
presence. Her eyes had that far-off, penetrating look which you
sometimes see in children; and we always left her alone at such
times, for she was then very sacred to us.

In the sunset light last evening--and what a sunset it was!--the
whole West a sea of rare transparent greenish-blue, flecked with
clouds of gold, and purple, and pink, and mother-of-pearl, which
floated in it like islands, melting into all fanciful shapes, as the
ferns, and palms, and turrets melt in the mirage, the whole landscape
bathed in a translucent flood of golden light--in such a sunset, we
took one of the Maiden Aunt's letters, which we keep tied up with a
lock of her dark and silver-sprinkled hair, and I read therefrom an
extract, in which she says:

"I think we live two lives. One of them is the life of this world,
a thoroughly material and physical life. It is made up of toils
and cares, burdens and pains. It grows out of the lives of others,
is closely interwoven with them, and almost depends upon them for
its existence. It attaches itself, sometimes, to one other life, as
a vine attaches itself to the tree; sometimes it draws sustenance
from many. It is, more or less, a superficial life, although it may
accomplish great deeds and suffer heroic sufferings. It is of the
earth, however, and never soars beyond it. No mystery attaches to
it, for it is never called upon to perform mysterious deeds. It is
comprised within the limits of threescore-and-ten, and has no past or
future. Its mission belongs to the body, and when the body perishes,
its mission ends. It has no recollections coming from any time before
itself. It makes no prophecies of events in the future.

"The other life we live in ourselves, and it is as mysterious as
was the enigma of the Sphinx in the solemn silence of the desert.
It takes no thought for the body, for it is the life of the soul.
We cannot explain this life to others, for we do not understand it
ourselves. It is a starry stranger, imprisoned within the corporeal
bars and of mysterious origin and destiny. The fates who weave the
fabric of our lives, and Atropos, who stands by with the unerring
shears to sever the thread, have no power over it. Have we not lived
this life before, and shall we not live it again when the light of
this physical life is snuffed out like a farthing rush? If not, how
is it that sometimes a sweet strain of music we have never heard
before, a solemn voice in the wash of the waves, a perfume of some
flower by the wayside, a tone in some human voice, will recall the
dim image of something we are confident has never happened in this
physical life? If not in this physical life, when and where did it
happen? Have we ever lived before this life, and shall we live in it
again after this body has decayed? Do we fulfil the mission of this
world in the brief span of one life-time? If our life has no end, has
it ever had a beginning? Has immortality or eternity a commencement?
These are questions which occur to me, especially after those moments
when, as I confidently believe, the soul leaves the body, and expands
into space and embraces the infinite. I acknowledge that I cannot
answer these questions. They are a part of the great mystery of
life, which not only envelopes us, but all nature, in its cloud, and
reaches, in its influences and its developments, from the grain of
sand on the sea-shore up to the Throne of God.

"I think this life, also, is not altogether of itself. Other lives,
other fates and other natures are working together in us to add to
its mystery. These mysterious influences at work within us compel
us to commit acts, which we call impulses, for which we are no more
accountable than the hurricane for its destruction. They give us
moments when we are filled with a joy almost hysterical, for which
we cannot account; and other moments when we are sunk into depths
of despair, and all the world seems veiled in black, although we
know the sun is shining. At such times, others are acting in us and
through us. It may be some old ancestor, who died hundreds of years
ago, whose life was so strong in some trait that he sent it down
through the years from this one to that one, and it makes its first
appearance in you. He or she--he whose life was lost in the passion
of some great ecstasy, or she whose life was eclipsed in a cloud of
despair which dethroned reason--is speaking with your tongue, and
is looking out of your eyes. At such times, your voice assumes a
tone not your own; your eyes show a light which is foreign to you.
Another has entered and taken possession of you. You cannot estimate
the great influence which all those men and women who hang upon your
walls and look down upon you from their dim canvasses exercise upon
you.

"And this life also manifests itself in sleep, when it takes us into
the gorgeous cloudland of dreams, and paints such fantastic images,
and unveils a world of which we get glimpses in no other manner--a
world of prophecies and strange presentiments, in which, freed from
the trammels of the body, the soul roams at will, and sees what has
passed and what is to come; in which we suffer tortures keener than
those of earth, and enjoy the beatitudes of the blest; in which
the poor man is richer than Dives, and Lazarus finds rest from his
troubles; and in which all of us get compensation for the loss of all
we held precious, in communion with and possession of them, although
only for a little moment."

This is the substance of what the Maiden Aunt said in her letter, and
we all talked about it in the fast-fading light until the darkness
set in and the rain commenced to patter down upon the lilac leaves
with a dreamy sort of sound. We gathered about the piano, and sang
those four-part _Lieder_ of Felix Mendelssohn's, and then we pledged
the memory of the Maiden Aunt in the golden Verzenay and drank the
good night willie wacht, and thus we spent a memorial day at Cherry
Valley, nestling down in the hollow of the hills like a callow robin
in its nest, and we slept the sleep of the just, lulled to rest by
the rain-drops playing merry fantasies on the shingles, each of us
agreeing that the day was one to be tied up with white ribbon and
laid away among the precious keepsakes. And in our dreams came to
each the form of a loved one, and our sleep was made beautiful with
all pleasant images.

     July 17, 1869.



_LOVE AND THE BLUE FLOWER._


We were all at tea last evening, and at the tea-table we talk more
than usual, for the tea is but the shadow of a meal with the harmless
inspiration of the tea-pot. Thus it happened that each began to
tell of what had occurred in his or her little world during the
day. Aurelia had a thousand things to tell about the intellectual
and physical miracles performed by that wonderful baby, which, of
course, every baby, from Cain down, has performed. But they were
performed for the first time for her, and of course we listen to
them as if they were new revelations to us, and we would not for the
world dissipate the bright colors with which she invests all that
little one does by telling her that every mother's world is glowing
with the same pretty colors, or that all of us once were just as
wonderful babies as hers, only somehow we lost all our supernatural
powers as the years came and went. Celeste had been shopping, and
her tongue ran glibly on the "beautiful," "sweet pretty," "lovely,"
"delightful," "loves of," etc., fabrics which she had seen at
Hamlin's, and she grew quite indignant when she told how young Yard
Stick became angry when he had pulled down seventy-three different
pieces of dress goods, only to find that she merely dropped in
to look about a little; neither was it any compensation to that
intellectual and highly artistic youth when she purchased a ball of
tape. Mrs Blobbs said but little, for it had not been with her one of
those days which we lay away tied up with white ribbon. Old Blobbs
had come home from the office earlier than usual, looking very pale
and very feeble. A dark shadow is sweeping across the house--so dark
that we do not see any light beyond it, and the waters through which
the dear good woman is wading, grow deeper and deeper, and the mists
which begin to blind her eyes are those which forever haunt the
Valley of the Shadow. Old Blobbs was with us at the table but said
nothing. The contracted brow and firmly-set mouth, the great veins in
his forehead and the far-off look in his eyes, told us of suffering,
and that even now he foresaw a messenger coming to him with tidings,
of the purport of which he was well aware. Fitz-Herbert had had
nothing to do all the livelong day, and Boosey was not much better
off, so these two young gentlemen had little to say for themselves.
Mignon had dreamed the day away, feeding the canary, tending her
mignonettes, and heliotropes, and fuschias, and weaving delicious
little reveries on the piano. She lives only among beautiful things,
and could not exist away from them, any more than a humming bird
could live, deprived of its roses and tulips.

Blanche's story was supplied by a letter which Mignon had just
received from her, and as it contained an important piece of
intelligence, she read it to us, as follows:

                              SARATOGA, August 10.

_Dear, Darling Mignon_:

Lean down your head to me and let me whisper in your ear that I am
engaged. You are aware that I have known Harry a long time, and that
he is possessed of all those good and noble qualities calculated to
make me happy. I am already in a new world in which I know no one
but my hero. You do not know how good and kind and beautiful he is.
Our world is quite apart from this fashionable world, where every
man is a gambler or a fortune-hunter, and every woman an enameled
_decolette_. We ask for nothing but each other's society and we are
content to let the others play out their little comedies and farces
to the bitter end. I have given him my whole heart, and yet, Mignon,
there is love for you still, and for all our little circle. I cannot
stop now to tell you of Saratoga life, it seems so tame and so tawdry
to the great happiness which Harry brought to me last evening, as we
were strolling under the elms. It seems to me there is no one here
but Harry. He is my world and I live in him, and after him I send to
you, Mignon, my best love.

I must stop, for Harry will get impatient. He is waiting to take me
to ride, but I could not go until I had informed you of my great
happiness.

     Your devoted friend,

                                          BLANCHE.

P. S.--Kiss Celeste and Aurelia for me.

                                                B.

P. S. No. 2--Write me soon.

                                                B.

As Mignon closed the letter, she asked me why I was smiling, and I
said:

My dear Mignon: I was smiling at this repetition of the old, old
story. It is one of the most curious revelations in these _affairs
de coeur_, that the engaged parties always leave this world and
create one of their own of the most gorgeous description. In that new
world the skies are always translucent, the air is full of winged
Cupids and young cherubim, flowers grow under their feet, birds sing
on every branch, and no inhabitants grosser than fairies dwell in it.
In that world there are no storms, no pains, no sorrows. Every breeze
is laden with odors, and the beautiful rainbow of promise always
spans its sky from one horizon to the other. There are none of the
vulgar realities or harassing cares of this world in that. The happy
pair feed on ambrosia and nectar supplied for them gratuitously, and
have no fears based upon bread and butter or other provender, which
troubles us mortals so much to provide for ourselves. They look upon
everything through some peculiar medium which transforms it into
beauty and clothes it with the sheen of the prism. All gross sounds
are turned into music. All the faculties of the soul become merged
in the one faculty of the imagination, and that imagination knows no
bound especially in the case of the woman. She always makes the man a
hero. She surrounds him with a halo just as pious Catholics surround
their saints. She looks at him through an atmosphere which magnifies
him into something quite above the follies and stupidities of the
world. The other day, as I was passing along Lake street, I met an
engaged couple. They had just come in from Kankakee to see the sights
of the city, and as they wandered along, hand in hand, looking into
the shop windows, the future bridegroom munching an apple, and the
future bride doing the same to a pear, I could not but regard these
two innocent lambs with interest. To be sure, the future bridegroom
was a tall, shambling, ungainly, awkward, red-faced lout, but to her
he was the Admirable Crichton, the ideal of her dreams, and the hero
of her life. She was in that world of which I have spoken. She did
not see the smiling faces about her as they regarded this innocent
simplicity. She was walking on roses with him. The pear she munched
was ambrosia bought of a beneficent old fairy at the street corner,
who sold them for ten cents a piece. A year or two hence, when they
get settled down upon their Kankakee farm, he will be nothing but the
old man and she will be plain Hannah, superintending the dairy and
the kitchen garden. But now John Thomas is a hero.

It is another fact that the man himself was not aware that he was
such a hero. Neither were those who have been acquainted with him
aware that he was made of heroic stuff. To himself and to them,
he has been plain Smith or plain Brown, a decent sort of fellow,
plodding along, making money enough to pay his board bills with,
and never supposing he was destined to set the world on fire. He
had never before dreamed that he was a hero. He had never before
supposed that the rhythm of his very prosaic life would ever assume
the epic form. The same fact is true in fiction. The heroes of the
novels are very commonplace people, but the heroines always make
them believe they are supernatural people. Auerbach appreciated
this weakness in human nature when he made Irma--that splendid,
womanly type--fall in love with the King, and invest him with all
the attributes of a demi-god, when, in reality, he was nothing but a
very ordinary, commonplace, selfish, ungrateful mortal, who could no
more rise to the great height of her nature than the clod can rise
to the cloud. You will find that same weakness brought out in that
new book of Spielhagen's--"Problematic Characters"--where Melitta, a
beautiful type of woman, falls in love with Oswald, a vain, shallow,
purposeless coxcomb, who adores every pretty face he meets. Yet
Melitta invests him with all the heroic attributes, and wastes her
great love upon him, as the ancient maiden wasted her kisses upon the
marble insensibility of Apollo.

Thus it is that once in every man's life, at least, he becomes a
hero, whether he will or not, and it is not the least curious part
of the matter that he does not question at all, but accepts the
position at once, and allows himself to be set up as an object of
idolatry. He knows it is all humbug, but he is willing to accept it,
and usually ends by temporarily convincing himself he is a hero and
an idol. Of course, after hero and heroine become one flesh, he gets
the conceit knocked out of him, takes off his insignia, quietly gets
down from his pedestal, and consents to become what he was before
his hero-existence--a very ordinary mortal, who has to pay taxes,
work for a weekly stipend, earn bread and butter, and eat it. Now,
this is precisely the case with our mutual friend, Blanche. Harry
is, undoubtedly, a well-meaning, good-natured fellow, who will earn
a good living and take care of Blanche in a creditable manner; but
Blanche has magnified him into a hero, and looks at him through
other spectacles than ours. Usually, these cases suggest their own
remedies, and carry their cure with them. The disease wears itself
out, like whooping-cough or cold in the head. But there is danger
in allowing it to run and get seated, so that the inevitable tumble
which must come, sooner or later, will hurt them. After a specified
time, the rainbow will dissipate into a dull, leaden color, the
flowers will fade, the nectar will grow sour, the gorgeous palaces
will transform themselves into wooden cottages or brick fronts, the
cupids and cherubim will go in out of the wet, and the birds will
hush their songs. In other words, the dull round of life, which every
man must tread, the ever-pressing, vulgar cares and anxieties which
follow one like a Nemesis, will overtake the hero and the heroine,
and it will be well for them to be prepared for the catastrophe.
Flying is a pleasant feat to perform, and causes very thrilling
sensations, but if you go too near the sun, remember the fate of
Icarus, and look out for your head when you fall. If Mignon is so
disposed, when she writes to Blanche, she might suggest these things,
and mingle a little caution with her congratulations.

There is another view of love which is very sad, because it is fatal.
Ordinarily these attachments are part and parcel of that world-spirit
which is ever changing and yet ever constant, which allies the
present and past together, and convinces you there is nothing new,
but that each event, although it may seem to be done for the first
time, is only a repetition of the old miracle. This fatality of love,
for which there is no cure, has been beautifully likened in one of
Novalis' works to a Blue Flower, for which a lone Minnesinger once
pined in vain and died. No eye of mortal ever saw this flower, no
man knows where it blooms. Yet its beauty is known of men, and its
fragrance fills the world. There are few whose senses are delicate
enough to perceive this perfume; few whose eyes can see the Blue
Flower, even though it blooms right before them. Novalis further says
that the nightingale, pouring out its sad songs to the moon, knows
and loves this flower; that all men and women, who have tried to
voice their sorrow in poetry, and yet could not tell their feelings,
have inhaled this perfume of the Blue Flower. The perfume of this
flower is in music. It is in Beethoven's sonatas and symphonies, and
in some of Mendelssohn's songs, although it was not in Mendelssohn's
life, but there are few souls sensitive and delicate enough to feel
it. Dante felt it, and the Blue Flower blossomed through all their
lives. They inhaled its perfume, and then there was no more peace,
for he who once breathes it lives forever after in sorrow. It is a
malady which can never be cured. I pray that none of you may ever
breathe its fatal breath.

And as I closed my screed, Old Blobbs looked at me with a look full
of unutterable pain, and I knew at once that down under all his
asperity of manner and his sarcasm of speech; under all his seeming
philosophical composure and his hearty hatred of shams, this Blue
Flower had blossomed, and that he had inhaled its fatal fragrance.
He had presented to us but one side of his double life, and that
was so honest that we could not but love him while we winced at his
utterances of truth. But in that other life which he had lived within
himself, and of which he had given us no token, but which was now
rapidly making itself apparent, because it was his true life, was
the Blue Flower, which entails only suffering, and for which there is
no remedy but death.

And he said to us with his weak, trembling voice, so unlike his
hearty, powerful tones of a few months ago: "You have spoken rightly.
There is a Blue Flower, and I pray God you may never know its fearful
influence, beautiful as it is. I have found that flower, but I think
its beauty is fading now, and its perfume is dissipating, and that
for the pain He will give pleasure, and for the trial He will give
rest." And then he arose from the table and leant upon my arm and
we walked out into the garden together. And then the twilight stole
in upon us, and the darkness fell out of the heavens, and the stars
peeped out of the sky, and all the world was veiled with a holy hush.
We talked long together, and as we retired for the night, he shook me
warmly by the hand and only said: "When you grow old you will feel
the wonderful beauty of that line, 'He giveth His beloved sleep,' as
you have never felt it before, for the old have a long, long night in
which to sleep. After the battle comes Peace; after the toil, Rest."

I knew what he meant, but I could not speak of it to the others.

     August 15, 1869.



_MARRIAGE._


It was just like Fitz-Herbert to break in upon the conversation in
his insufferable, dawdling manner, merely because Old Blobbs was
absent and could not reply to him. F. H. had heard a story that
he was about to be married, and he protested against it with all
the indignation and power of which he was capable, somewhat in the
following manner: "'Pon honor, that story isn't twue. Would be vewy
absurd to sacwifice my fweedom."

This was the longest speech F. H. had ever been known to deliver at
one time, and it naturally created quite a sensation in the company.
He seized this occasion to deliver it, as I have said before,
because Old Blobbs was absent. The latter is confined to his room
with a painful illness, and it would do you good to see the courage
with which the old veteran bears his serious indisposition, and the
calm serenity with which he awaits the decision of fate. I had no
idea, however, of letting Fitz-Herbert off so easily, and, much to
his astonishment, therefore, I replied to him, as he sat uneasily
twirling his moustache, in words to the following effect:

My dear Fitz-Herbert: I cannot allow your very silly remark to pass
unnoticed, for two reasons:

First. You would never sacrifice anything in marrying any woman.
The woman who marries you will do all the sacrificing. The hymeneal
altar, in her case, will be eminently a sacrificial altar, and she
will be the garlanded and orange-blossomed victim, to be carved up
with the sacrificial knife. You have everything to gain--she has
everything to lose.

Second. Neither your reason, nor any other, is valid against
marriage. I am often amused at the excuses men make when they
approach this question. Brown thinks it is too expensive, and, of
all silly excuses, I think this is the silliest. Brown is earning a
good salary, and yet Brown, at the end of the year, has no more money
than when he commenced. He has expenses for cigars and meerschaums,
for suppers for his bachelor friends, for fast horses, for baskets
of champagne, for wagers based on trifles, for the wear and tear of
clothes, and for a thousand and one little items, none of which he
would or need incur in married life. Then, again, if Brown knew, as
any milliner can tell him, how many seasons that same bonnet is made
over; how it comes out bran new every spring and fall, by some of
those mysterious alterations, of a bit of lace here or a few flowers
there, of which only women are capable; how that same dress is made
over from year to year by the cunning hand of some dressmaker; how a
piece of lace, which may seem costly at first, does duty in a dozen
different ways--now serving a term on a bonnet-crown, now appearing
on the sleeve of a basque, anon reappearing as the trimming of a
dress, then laid away, only to appear once more in some useful and
graceful manner, connected with the gear of the little folks; and
if Brown further knew that nine women out of ten, not only in low
life but in high life, practice this economy--making the old new, and
serving up old dishes in new forms--Brown would be ashamed to offer
such a flimsy excuse. Marriage is the essence of economy. Brown,
alone, with two thousand a year, lays up nothing. Brown and a wife,
with the same amount per year, would lay up five hundred.

And now comes Jones, like Fitz-Herbert, with his twaddle of
sacrificing his freedom. The plea is so flimsy that it is hardly
worth an answer. Jones may lose the freedom to get drunk; the freedom
to waste his money; the freedom to squander his earnings at the
gaming-table; the freedom to indulge in dissipation; and the freedom
to practice unlimited selfishness. And the sooner he loses all these
freedoms, the better it will be for him. In the place of these
losses, he gains the freedom to be the emperor of a little household;
to love a woman; to make the future President of the United States;
to make some one happy; and to show a certificate that he is a Man,
and has fulfilled the mission of a Man.

Next comes Smith, whining that his friend Thompson has married
unhappily, and he gets off the old story that marriage is a lottery
in which there are a thousand blanks to one prize. Bosh! It may be
that his friend Thompson deliberately sought happiness in something
which was not capable of affording it. Or it may be that he made
money the complement of his desires and the goal of his ambition. In
either case, he would be and ought to be disappointed. But it is more
probable that Thompson, as obtains in ninety-nine out of a hundred
of these disappointments, while carrying his head among the stars,
stumbled over the stone at his feet, which he would have seen if he
had had his head where it ought to have been. Thompson, like scores
of others, indulged in a love which smacked both of the romance and
the theatre--made it in a style and clothed it with sentiments which
have no more to do with common life than the integral calculus has
to do with everlasting salvation, and in his terrific flights of
the imagination, soared to heights occupied by angels and cherubim,
and other creatures who have nothing in common with human life.
He assumed without question that his inamorata was an angel, and,
while in his amorous embryo, would have throttled you if you had
suggested that he might have been mistaken. Of course, when he had
chipped off his shell, got his eyes open, and stepped out into the
open air of common sense, he saw his mistake. Women are not angels
at all, although it may be ungallant to say so. For certain romantic
purposes, and by a sort of poetical license, we call them such.
They don't believe they are angels themselves; but they accept the
assurance from their lovers, just as the lover accepts the assurance
from his mistress that he is a hero, both good and noble, when he
is nothing but plain Tompkins. Now, Thompson, before he married his
wife, was convinced that she was an angel, and would have considered
it a serious defect if you, or any one else had imputed human nature
as one of her characteristics. If he had married Mrs. Thompson as a
woman with a human nature, subject to diseases, old age, sullenness,
peevish fits, and other infirmities to which flesh is heir, possessed
of the same bad qualities, and capable of showing just as many good
qualities, he would have been a happy man, and by combining an even
temper with a sensible judgment, he never would have had any trouble.
It might as well be settled now as at any time that there are no
angels in this world. Angels dwell in quite another place, and have
nothing to do whatever with marriage, their time being mainly spent
in playing harps, and, if "Gates Ajar" be true, pianos, fiddles,
and other musical instruments, and in eating lotus, which is of a
better quality up there than that which grows on the Nile. The other
class of angels, if the iron-clad theology be true, is down below,
engaged in the anthracite coal and brimstone business; but there is
no record of any on earth. If Thompson had married a woman instead of
a creature whom, without any reason, he supposed to be an angel, he
would have been a happy man. It is, therefore, his own fault that he
is not happy. And it is the fault of the majority of men who are not
happy.

Now, also, on general principles, I contend that it is a man's duty
to be married. Man is not complete when single. He is all head
without any heart. Man has his work, woman has hers, and no life-work
is complete which is not a union of the two.

Man has the work of the intellect to perform; woman the work of the
affections. If man does his work alone, it is cold, hard, selfish and
one-sided.

Man represents brute strength; woman represents beauty. If man stands
alone, not clothing his strength with beauty, he occupies exactly the
position of the horse and the ox.

Man, to sum up, is the head; woman, the heart. United, they are
perfect; single, they are simply monstrosities. They were made to go
together.

And, again, my dear Fitz-Herbert, did you ever happen to think that
you were born in marriage? That without marriage the world would have
been deprived of your inestimable entity, which, undoubtedly, is good
for something, although, at this present moment, I am not prepared to
say what? I contend, therefore, that if you persistently choose to
remain single you insult the condition in which you were born, and
place yourself in the attitude of the foolish Euripides, who always
lamented that he had not been produced by some other agency than that
of a mother.

Again, Fitz-Herbert, did you ever stop to think that it is the duty,
and equally the pleasure, of man to perpetuate himself? And that, if,
by refusing to marry, you do not perpetuate yourself, you tacitly
acknowledge you are not worth perpetuating? I will not stop here to
explain to you the great beauty and blessing of children, or to point
out how much better and brighter the world is for their presence,
but I will only state the point in its abstract form--that if you do
not marry some woman, and issue a little blue-and-gold-edition of
yourself, and then another edition revised and corrected, and so on
_ad infinitum_ or _ad libitum_, you simply say to the world, "I am an
incapable and good-for-nothing, not worth perpetuating." This point
is worth such attention as you can spare from your back hair and
neck-tie; and I advise you whenever you have time enough to put your
whole mind upon it, to astonish your mind by doing so.

Now, as my last general principle--or, as Parson Creamcheese would
say, eighthly and lastly--I assume that God Almighty has pointed
out this duty of marriage, and this fact that you are incomplete
when single, in every conceivable manner. The whole of Nature is one
grand system of marriage, and without it, Nature could not exist for
a single minute. Although the animals cannot feel the influence of
love, because they are bereft of sentiment, still instinct teaches
them they are happiest in pairs, and compels them to recognize the
dual principle. You never saw a flower in your life which was not the
personification of the marriage principle, the stamens playing the
part of a woman, and the pistil that of a man, although you should
not follow the botanical analogy too literally, by taking more than
one stamen. All ideas, all beauty, all feelings, all effects in the
great world of nature and humanity depend for their existence upon
this dual principle, which only takes shape and exerts influence
in the form of marriage. Now, you see, my dear Fitz-Herbert, it
does not look well in you to set yourself against the inevitable
tendency of nature and humanity and the fixed purpose of the Creator,
by remaining single, merely because you think you are going to
"sacwifice your fweedom." As I said before, it is all bosh.

This is a plain statement of the facts in the premises, and now I am
going to suggest a remedy for the wretchedness which is consequent
upon their violation and a penalty for their violator.

The penalty does not apply to women, for there is not a woman in the
world who would not marry if she had a chance.

In fixing this penalty, it is necessary to assume the indisputable
fact that for every man in the world there is a woman somewhere
waiting and waiting anxiously. She may be in the same house with
you, in the same neighborhood, or the same city, or she may be in a
distant quarter of the globe. You may not meet her this year or next
year, but, nevertheless, Fitz-Herbert, there is a woman waiting for
you somewhere, who wants to be married to you, to be loved by you, to
be fed by you, to have you take her to the opera and the concerts,
and to have you pay her milliner and dressmaker. In return, she
will be your best friend, will make a man out of you, will suffer
for you, never cease to love you, and, if necessary, die for you.
Now, it is your duty to set about and find that woman, and go to
work loving and feeding her, and paying her bills without grumbling,
because all you can do for her will not be worth mention by the side
of that wonderful love she will bestow on you--the same love which
your father had for your mother. You probably won't have to look long
or far for her. You will be astonished at the ease with which you
will find her, if you commence looking for her in earnest. She must
be supported by some one. If you don't support her, then some other
man must be taxed to do it, and thus the burden falls upon those who
already have wives. This, of course, is unfair. No man should be
compelled to take care of more than one woman.

This is your plain duty, and my penalty to be imposed upon those
who won't perform it is simply levying of a tax. Granted that there
is a woman for every man, ready to be supported by that man, then I
propose to compel that man to support that woman, whether he will
marry that woman or not. I would do nothing rashly. I would give him
a lee-way for choice until he was thirty years of age. If he didn't
make a choice in thirty years, I should take it for granted that he
didn't intend to at all, and I should then commence the operation
of my tax levy. At the age of thirty, I should impose a yearly tax,
equivalent to a woman's yearly legitimate expenses; at the age of
thirty-five, an equivalent for a woman and two children; at forty,
an equivalent for a woman and four children; at forty-five, an
equivalent for a woman and six children. If the man were sickly, or
absent any considerable length of time, the number of children might
be reduced one-half. After the age of forty-five, the juvenile tax
might cease increasing. At the age of fifty, however, I would impose
a special tax upon him as a general fund for the support of aged and
decayed spinsters. At the age of sixty, he should be compelled to
contribute a special sum to maintain Old Ladies' Homes. And when he
died, he should be compelled to bequeath a portion of his property
to building orphan asylums, and the balance should go towards the
maintenance of the public schools. If, in addition to his refusal to
marry a woman, he should be a confirmed woman-hater, then I would
force him to equalize male and female wages by paying the difference
to sewing girls, factory girls and female clerks in our dry goods
stores, who do a man's work for a woman's stipend.

You see this is perfectly fair. Not only would every woman be
properly provided for, but married men would be relieved from the
onerous burden of supporting more than one woman, which is improper,
but these old bachelors who are of no account would be turned to a
good use by contributing to the support of spinsters, old women and
little children. Then, when they got to the gate of Heaven, they
could at least have their tax-receipts, to show that their punishment
might be mitigated, and that a few of the thousand years of purgatory
on the banks of the Styx might be omitted.

I trust, Fitz-Herbert, that you coincide with my views, or, at least,
that you will give them some attention. F. H. had evidently never
looked at the subject in this light, for he seemed quite bewildered,
and twirled his moustache very vigorously, especially when Mignon and
Celeste and Aurelia all chimed in with me, and said I was quite right.

     August 21, 1869.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am glad to notice that my letter of two Sundays ago, upon the
subject of marriage, has had such good effects. During the past week,
the number of marriages has trebled, and even quadrupled, in this
city. To be sure, the number of divorces has kept even pace, and, for
every pair which has come boldly up to the altar and joined hands
in eternal friendship, another pair has severed the bond in twain
and parted company, like two ships which meet upon the ocean, hold
converse for a little minute, and then set sail for the different
horizons. The Clown in Twelfth Night spoke more wisely than he knew,
when he said that many a good hanging prevented many a bad marriage.
From the ease with which divorces are now obtained, it seems to me
a few good hangings would have a healthy influence upon this matter
of marriage, and would make that declaration of the minister's, upon
which he dwells with such solemn unction, "What God hath joined, let
not man put asunder," savor less of the ridiculous.

And all this reminds me of several letters I have received during the
past two weeks, taking issue with me upon one small remark contained
in my letter. "Ferniania," "Ada," "Kitty," and a half a dozen other
anonyma, are highly indignant that I should have said "Any woman who
has a chance will get married."

I expected to be overwhelmed with an avalanche of female indignation
when I wrote that sentence. I wrote it with a realizing sense of the
wrath to come.

The wrath has come, and I find at least a dozen female gauntlets on
the floor before me which I am expected to take up.

I confess I do not like anonymous gauntlets. I should like to know
the antecedents of some of them before I accept the wager and do
battle for my proposition.

In the first place, I would like to know how many of these pretty
Amazons have had a chance to get married, and if they had a chance,
then I want to know why they didn't get married. I have no more
sympathy for a woman who won't get married than I have for a man. She
is just as much a jug without a handle or a bow without the arrow as
the man is. The very first record we have of the very first woman
that ever lived, after she got her fig-leaf _panier_ made, is of her
marriage to Adam, and the next thing of any consequence is the birth
of the rapscallion Cain, and the good little boy Abel. It is just as
much the woman's duty to get married as the man's.

Good heavens! my dear Madame, or my dear Mademoiselle, what would
you have done, if your parents hadn't got married? Would you have
written me that indignant letter? Would you ever have gone to see
Enoch Arden? Would you have ever known the Paradise of new fall hats
and George Eliot's last new book?

I should say not.

At least it strikes me that way upon a mere glance.

Then wherein are you any better than your parents? I would like to be
assured, therefore, that you have had a chance to get married, and
why you refused the chance, before I answer you.

Of course I expect a very torrent of affirmation. A woman had better
be dead than never to have had a chance. I would rather face a
Nubian lion than tell a woman to her face that she had never had
an opportunity to get married. Do not the dear, delightful old
women, sitting in their arm-chairs, grow garrulous over their tea,
and tell their grand-daughters of the numberless chances they had
when they were young and their faces were smooth and the wrinkles
and crows-feet had not been written upon their foreheads by the
implacable Time? Do not mature married ladies, who have just gone
round the corner, and are beginning to feel just the slightest
touch in the world of neuralgia, now and then delight to give their
husbands a realizing sense of their inferiority, by recalling
the number of chances they have had and how they might have done
better here and lived easier there? Do not young ladies in _les
confidences_ with their numerous bosom friends--confidences which
are as mysterious as a sum in simple addition and as eternal as the
life of a sand-fly--divulge to each other the chances they have had,
and the prospects for chances ahead, with the stereotyped exactions
of promises never to tell, upon penalty of immediate severance of
the ties which bind, etc.? Do not the delightful little creatures
from five to ten display the first sign of womanhood in getting up
flirtations with the little boy in the next house, and writing the
most astonishing little notes to the effect that

    'If you love me as I love you,
    No knife shall cut our loves in two.'

etc., etc.?

This story of chances is an old, old story. It is a failing of human
nature. There isn't a young woman in the world who has been gazed
at admiringly by a young man, but has imagination strong enough
to convert that look into a chance. That story won't do. I want
something more definite.

In the second place, I would like to know if any of my correspondents
who have had so many chances improved one of them and got married?
If so, I would like again to know, what in the world you are
complaining of? Is it quite complimentary to your other half, who
buys your bonnets, provides your beefsteaks, pays your washerwoman,
and looks after the pocket-book side of your marital contract? With
that estimable man in your eye--and I should hate to deny in your
presence, Madame, that he was not estimable--how can you have the
assurance to deny that there are women who would marry, if they had
the chance? Are the grapes which grow on your vines soured? Has the
honeymoon grown bitter in its waxings and wanings? Have you put your
finger in the fire and been burned?

I hope not, but it looks so, my dear--it looks so.

I have a letter from still another correspondent--written in a
savage, vinegary sort of chirography--who lugs in that stale crowd,
Anna Dickinson, Miss Anthony, etc., to prove that women will not
always marry when they have a chance. I do not recognize anything
womanly in these clamorous individuals bawling from stumps, and
crying themselves hoarse for rights which any of them can have if
they have sense enough to take them. If a woman will deliberately
unsex herself, she has no right to expect chances. If she ever, by
some mysterious dispensation of Divine Providence, gets a chance,
it is kindness to the dumb brute who gave her the chance, when she
refuses it. The good God, when He established the relation of the
sexes, never intended that man should ally himself to a woman with
ice-water in her veins and a head full of syllogisms. He might as
well marry a treatise on metaphysics and have done with it. I am sick
of this crowd of one-idea women who are invariably trotted out when
it is necessary to do or say anything. They are exceptions to all
rules, and prove nothing. A cow with five legs and a hen with no tail
furnish no data from which to judge of the general family of cows and
hens.

It is rather curious that nearly all my correspondents hurl my Maiden
Aunt in my face to prove that I am wrong in asserting that every
woman would marry if she had a chance. The Maiden Aunt _did_ have a
chance, and would have accepted the chance, had not Death stepped
in and taken it away from her. She could not love twice, and so she
preferred to wait until she could be united to him eternally. It
would have been the crowning glory of her life, if she could have
married him for whom she wore the forget-me-not so long, and her
life therein would have been more perfect than it was. She was ready
to marry when she had the chance, but Fate ordered it otherwise, and
she bowed her head and submitted to the decree which forbade the
chance, but could not forbid the love. And they who were divided in
life were united in death, and I know are quite happy now.

     September 4, 1869.



_OLD BLOBBS REDIVIVUS._


I think you never saw a happier little family circle than gathered
about the breakfast table this morning. The dark cloud which has
hovered over us so long, casting its shadow over all the household,
has dissipated, and behind it we saw that the sun was still shining,
although we faint hearts had begun to believe that we should never
sit in the sunshine again.

Old Blobbs has past the crisis and weathered the storm. The staunch
old man has baffled _pallida mors_ by resolutely contesting every
inch with him. For a day he hovered on the brink of the chasm
between the two worlds, but there was no trace of terror, or even of
impatience, in his serene face. I think he was so near to Heaven that
gleams of its light irradiated him, for I never saw such a rapt face
before. I think that he heard the sound of the harps coming faintly
to him, as we sometimes hear music coming over the water in the
hush of night, for now and then he would close his eyes and listen
very attentively, seeming to forget us who were standing around,
fearing that at any moment he might see the gate of Paradise and pass
through, leaving us disconsolate on this side. And I know, by a quick
glow of recognition and a smile of ineffable pleasure, which once
lit up his face, that he saw the Maiden Aunt, and a little child who
once left us, somewhere in that land so far from us, but so near to
him, for he raised his thin white hand as if he would grasp the hand
of another. We could not speak to him. In that solemn time we dared
not. The doctor sat upon the bedside and watched him with anxious
face. Mignon, in the intensity of her grief, sat with her face
buried in her hands. She had placed the faded forget-me-not, which
the Maiden Aunt sent to her as her dying souvenir, in Blobbs' hand,
thinking, perhaps, that he might take it to her, as they do not grow
where she is, for memory There is eternal.

It was growing towards sunset, and through the interlacing leaves of
the ivy which covers the window, a golden shaft of sunlight shot into
the room and fell upon the bed. It caught Old Blobbs' eye. He faintly
smiled, turned his head away, and closed his eyes. The doctor lightly
felt the pulse and motioned us to be silent. In a few minutes, the
doctor beckoned us to retire to another room, and then said to us:
"Your friend is sleeping. He has passed the crisis and will be spared
to you. It is only necessary that he should be kept quiet."

On the day before the crisis, Parson Primrose called to see Old
Blobbs in the performance of official duty, and undoubtedly actuated
by a sincere desire to smooth his pathway into the Valley of the
Shadow. There was just the faintest expression of impatience
upon Blobbs' face, when he saw him enter. Primrose had assumed a
conventional, business-like look of grief, not unmixed with a slight
anxiety, as if he were not at all certain that Blobbs' pathway
needed any smoothing. And I knew that Blobbs was convinced how
utterly impotent Primrose was to afford him any consolation or shed
any light upon the future.

In a dry, formalistic way, Primrose asked: "My dear brother, are you
prepared for the great change!"

I never shall forget Blobbs' look of profound astonishment as he
replied: "Yes, sir! Certainly. I have always been prepared for this
from my boyhood up. I supposed it was a man's first duty to have his
household always in order for such changes--most of all, the common
change which may come any minute. Why, of course, sir, I am prepared,
and hope I shall meet the change like a gentleman."

Primrose added: "And have you prepared yourself for this great change
by attendance upon divine worship?"

"Yes, sir," replied Old Blobbs. "I may say to you, however, as we
had better understand each other, that I have not always deemed it
important to attend divine worship within four walls. I have been
rather oppressed, sir, by this gregarious form of worship, and have
not always received satisfaction or consolation from the gentlemen
of your cloth--and this, with all respect, sir. I imagine that I
have been rather exacting, and expected to find a guide, rather than
a companion who knew no more of the way than myself. In such cases,
I always found that I got much nearer the Great Father by going out
into Nature, the house which He built, and by loving my fellow-man
and all the forms of life which He has created, even down to the
insects. There has always, I may say, sir, been more satisfaction to
me in this warm, active love than in that affection which has been
regulated by rules and bounded by dogmas."

"Then you have never settled upon any creed or form of belief," said
Primrose.

Blobbs' face again wore an impatient look, as he replied: "Belief
with me, sir, has been instinctive. It never had any prescribed form,
and never needed defining by any ritual. I have never troubled myself
much about any creed, as I have never seen any record of creeds where
I may soon go. I do not expect, if I had a creed, that it would be
anything but an impediment to me in crossing the river. If I got
safely over with it, I am confident, sir, that St. Peter would make
me leave it outside the gate, as something for which they had no use
inside."

"Then, you have believed in no doctrine, and belonged to no church,
my dear friend?" said Primrose.

"You mistake me, sir," said Blobbs, rather impatiently. "I have
always believed in charity, which is greater than faith or hope,
and in the sublime words which Christ, and Confucius before Christ,
uttered: 'Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.'
I have always belonged to the great church of humanity, which, I
think, sir, in ages to come, will be the church of mankind----"

"When the millenium comes, and man is perfect?" interposed Primrose.

"No, sir!" replied Blobbs, emphatically. "I look for no millenium
of perfection. Man can never fully develop, if this world shall
stand for millions of ages yet. To assume that, would be to deny the
principle of infinity which is in him. The perfect development can
never be attained except in eternity. We must be freed from this
frail envelope of the body before the soul can rise, untrammelled."

"Upon what, then, if you have no doctrine, or creed, or church, do
you depend for your salvation?" said Primrose.

"Upon the love of our common Father," replied Blobbs. "He has
carried me, sir, in the hollow of His hand since childhood, and has
never done me harm. I am not afraid now, sir, to trust myself to
Him, confident that He knows better than I what is best for me, and
that He will do what is best. I think that He will solve all these
mysteries, so that what is dark to my feeble comprehension will
become quite light. I am willing, sir, to trust myself to Him, and,
sir, if you can throw any light upon the place to which I am going, I
shall be very grateful to receive it. As to the manner of going, I am
quite willing to leave that to Him who knows more than I."

Primrose, after a few generalities, took his leave, satisfied that
at least he had done his duty, but Old Blobbs turned his face to the
wall with a feeble smile and a shake of the head.

I think Blobbs was fully convinced, as well as the rest of us, that
he should not live long, for on that same day he handed me his diary,
which he desired me to keep. He has since that time expressed his
willingness to have me use what I please of it. On looking it over, I
found some thoughts which perhaps may interest you.

In one place he says:

"I think I have but one regret in leaving this world. When I look
into the past and see what is doing, I would like to live into the
future some centuries, to see what a magnificent world this will be."

Again he says:

"Every man carries in his breast an aspiration and a skeleton. The
one is a yearning for an ideal which is never realized here. He
will never find it, be his search ever so long or so faithful. It
must always end in the fate of the Prince who sought the fountain
of perpetual youth, and the alchemists who wasted their lives and
energies looking for the philosopher's stone. And yet it seems to me
this unattainable ideal is one of the surest proofs of immortality.
The other is the reverse of the ideal--a fearful secret--a chained
tiger--a terrible power. Sometimes it assumes only the form of a
melancholy. Sometimes of a despair which kills."

Again:

"The keen, earnest love of Nature always involves the warmer love of
man as the noblest type of Nature, and yet the love of Nature is the
compensation for the loss of man. When all men forget you--when the
bright hues with which you have invested the ideal of the soul fade
like a morning mist--when the heart in its lowest depths of despair
finds only artificial instead of real men, when you even despair of
humanity--vivifying Nature remains a faithful friend, and brings
compensation in her flowers and birds, her mountains and cataracts."

Again:

"Sympathy with anything that is beautiful can never be completely
exercised when you are alone. It must find expression, and there
must be the presence of another who shall be the recipient of that
expression. Worship demands isolation, which begets reverence.
Sympathy demands the presence of another, and begets friendship or
love, according to the nature of the object and the companion. Either
in the presence of nature, which inspires friendship, or of music and
some forms of art, which inspire love, the presence of the second
person is essential to complete sympathy; and he who has sought
either love or friendship, and lost both, is richer than he who has
never sought either."

Blobbs' diary contains also some pretty severe strictures, which I
might be tempted to give you were it not for the fact that he will
now soon be with us again and speak for himself. I saw him this
morning, and he is quite like himself again. He took me by the hand
and said: "Well, my dear boy, they say the old ship is going to
weather the storm."

I congratulated him upon his improvement, and he added:

"I thought we were getting into the haven and coming to anchor. But
the voyage isn't quite over yet, so we must clear away the decks,
crowd on all sail and out again into the blue waters, with the rest
of our little fleet, and trust all to the good Pilot at the helm, Who
knows what is best, after all."

     August 28, 1869.



_A TRIP TO HELL._


If you should ask me why I went to Hell, I do not know that I could
answer you. I only know that I have often wanted to go there. I
have more than once envied Swedenborg, who could go in a jiffy
where he pleased, and the rat who lived in a well, and when he died
went----you know where. If you do not know, I can tell you that the
place rhymes with well.

I only know that I went there and came back safe and unsinged, and
with no smell of fire in my garments, although I saw and talked
with him who is never mentioned in polite company, strange to say,
considering that he is the politest person that I ever met.

It may have been owing to the fact that, just before I went to sleep,
I was thinking of these coming fall days; of the maple boughs which
will soon be blazing with the red and scarlet flames of the frost; of
the smoky haze which will soon hide the hill-sides; of the sumachs
and vines which will soon sheet the road-sides with flame. It may
have been this smoke and fire which sent me there, for the most of us
form no other idea of that place, under the heavens, except in the
light of brimstone, sulphur, anthracite coal, lava, molten iron, and
other pleasant compounds, into which we are to be immersed forever
and a day, to roast, boil, and bake, and yet never get cooked.

But, as I said before, I have been to Hell and got back safely, and I
should be unfaithful to my post as a public benefactor, and my duties
as a journalistic chronicler, did I not tell you what I saw.

You may remember that some months ago I told you of my trip to
Heaven. My route to the other place was partially the same. I passed
through our system of stars and planets, dodged the comets as before,
found that the Man in the Moon was ill from the effects of the
recent eclipse, saw the Archer-road milkmen still running from the
stump-tail cows in the Milky Way, passed from planet to planet, and
from galaxy to galaxy into other systems, and at last reached the sea
of golden light, of which I told you before--the sea of Immortality.
Between this and the crystal sea above it, however, I diverged, and
my way led through rifts of dark leaden clouds, across blank moors,
which were illumined by a lurid light which seemed to come from no
source. There were strange whisperings in the air. Dark-winged birds
now and then flitted by me, and ever and anon I could hear a sullen
roar in the distance, which seemed to come from the flow of a river.
Thus, on over the blank moors, until my way led to a hill-side, at
the foot of which I was stopped by one of Lucifer's officials, who
briefly examined me, and then said I was qualified to proceed.

I proceeded up the hill, and at the top I looked down to a river--the
River of Lethe--flowing sluggishly along through a valley. Across
this river I could see a country of vast extent, which was very
thickly peopled. I went down the hill-side, and came to the river,
and there I found an old ferryman and his boat waiting to convey me
over the dark flood. He asked me for the obolus with which to pay
toll across the river, but, unfortunately, I hadn't a cent with me.
He then asked, rather impatiently, if my friends were so poor when I
died that they couldn't afford to put an obolus in the coffin with
me. I smilingly replied that I wasn't aware I had ever died, whereat
he answered, very seriously, that he had carried a great many dead
men across, but never any dead-heads. I tried to coax the old man
into giving me a ride gratis, but he obstinately refused, saying that
only the disembodied were allowed to cross, and that if he took me
over he would catch the----

"Just the man I want to see," said I. "If I cannot go to him, except
as a blessed defunct, will you have the goodness to hand my card to
him, and say that I come from Chicago?"

The old man took the card, and, after taking on board two or three
people whom I used to know, and supposed were saints, he paddled
across and soon returned, saying that the Devil had sent his
compliments and was willing to see me. He also sent word that he was
desirous of sending back by me his thanks to Chicago, which was just
now conferring a great favor upon him in the way of business.

I accordingly jumped into the boat. The old man had to work very hard
in getting me over. The spirits which he was accustomed to carry
weigh nothing and pack close, but I was quite substantial.

In my passage across the river I observed that it was full of robes,
mitres, crosiers, censers, creeds, canons, and other articles
floating along, and I asked the old man the cause of it. He simply
replied that he didn't know what they were. He believed they were
some sort of stuff which some people brought along with them and
had to throw away because nobody used them here or in the other
place. When we had reached the other shore I landed, and the old man
informed me I was in Hell, and would find the Devil a short distance
away. I found him without difficulty. As soon as he had settled a
little dispute between some Board of Trade men who had been getting
up a corner,--which he declared was too disgraceful even for _his_
country,--he turned to me and bade me welcome.

I must acknowledge that I was disappointed in his appearance. He was
a very polite, affable person, and, apparently, a perfect gentleman.
There were certainly no claws upon his fingers. His feet were not
cloven. There were no horns upon his head. Neither did I, after a
rather secret and anxious scrutiny, discover any indications of a
tail. He greeted me as if he knew me well, and at once put me at
ease with himself. I made bold to congratulate him upon his personal
appearance, whereat he smiled and said: "Yes, the old story--horns,
hoofs and tail, I suppose. I know it is the custom for you people
on that little planet, which is called, I think, the Earth, when
you wish to represent anything infamous or abominable, to paint the
Devil, and you generally paint him very black. Now we know a thing
or two here, and we always return the compliment, for when we wish
to represent anything infamous or abominable we paint Man in his
natural colors. I assure you sir, I am not so black as they paint me.
Why, sir, I have been obliged to blush more than once at the crimes
which some men have committed who come here for cleansing."

I acknowledged the justness of his remarks and then, anxious to
settle a suspicion which had been troubling me, I asked him where the
fire was. He smiled again, and said:

"Fire? It is all round you. Hell-fire is by no means a falsehood.
Look at these people. They have brought all their passions with
them. We cannot manufacture a fire which can burn and consume like
the fires of passion in man's breast. We know of no hell so terrible
as the hell in a man's bosom. Let me tell you there isn't a man or
woman on your Earth without a tiger chained in his breast. Let him
but once unloose the beast and hell has broken loose in himself.
These tides of passion never ebb. They are resistless in their flow,
and they burn and kill, as they flow, like a stream of molten lava
running down the side of the volcano into the fertile plains. That
man there, who killed his brother is none the less a murderer now,
only that his passion to kill is intensified without the means of
its gratification; and you will notice that he carries the skeleton
of that brother tied to him, from which he cannot escape. Do you
think fire would be any such punishment to him? That miser, who was
eaten up with avarice in his mortal life, is doubly the miser now,
only the gains which he hoards are forever swept from him. So with
them all. They bring their passions with them here only to have them
intensified, to have their capacities for passion correspondingly
increased, and never to have the opportunities of gratifying them.
That is the kind of hell-fire we have here, and it burns until the
victim is burnt out, and purified, and regenerated, and rendered
capable of receiving pure enjoyment. We who are placed in charge of
them have no sympathy with them, for we have no passions. We have
living brains, but dead hearts.

"And yet," I remarked, "many of these people seem to be very quiet
and calm. They do not look as if they were troubled at all by
passions."

"There is where you make a great mistake," the Devil replied.
"Appearances are as deceitful here as they are on Earth. Outward
quietness is no sign of inward peace. The ocean, which is in
continual war with the elements, lashing its surface into
ungovernable fury, is secret and silent in its depth, while some
hidden lake in the mountains, or some pool in the valleys, which
never feels the ocean storm blowing over its surface, yet mirrors
every storm-cloud in its breast and is disturbed in its depths by
violent currents. Appearances are deceitful, even here, you see."

The Devil then offered to show me about his dominions, and we trudged
along together. I was surprised to find so many people there I had
known on Earth and supposed were saints; men whom I had known with
serene faces, and upturned eyes, and saintly expressions, who were
all the time deprecating the sinfulness of Earth; who held up their
hands in holy horror at pleasures and snuffed evil in every wind that
blew; and among them some whose names had been blown abroad loud and
long, and who had mounted upon the top of popular opinion by means
of the step-ladders of piety. The Devil noticed my surprise and said:
"Yes! we have a good many of that sort. They are all entered on the
books as hypocrites. One of our choicest vintages, which we serve on
State occasions, is their tears bottled up. They are much superior in
flavor to the tears of the crocodile."

He took me further on and showed me the men who had been cruel to
animals, each of whom was tormented by the animals he had tormented
in life. Brutal cartmen, who had lashed their horses to death, were
in harness, and the horses were lashing them. In one place, there was
an entire horse-railroad company drawing overloaded cars. A man who
was cruel to his dog was pursued and constantly bitten by a howling
pack of them. Another, who had wantonly killed a little bird, was
chained to a rock, like Prometheus, and vultures were forever pecking
at him. Nero, who took delight in killing flies, was forever stung
by swarms of insects. This one, who had been cruel to his ox, was
harnessed to a plow, and the ox was goading him along. That one,
who had been unnecessarily cruel to a fish, was forever swimming in
bottomless waters, pursued by sharks. Thus each was punished in kind,
and cruelty to the dumb beast brought its own compensation. Whereat
I rejoiced, and quietly pressed the hand of the Devil in token of
satisfaction.

And he said to me: "Even we devils, bad as we are supposed to be,
hardly know a crime so wicked as the crime of cruelty to the animal,
from man down to the insect. We have no worse punishments than that
for violations of the law of kindness, which is the law of love."

We wandered on, and found several other classes of persons, each
of whom was punished in some unique manner. There were pot-house
politicians by the multitude, who were chasing after offices which
constantly eluded their grasp just as they thought they had them.
There was an army of street-corner organ-grinders condemned to wander
for a term of years and never to cease grinding "Captain Jinks,"
while the man who wrote "Captain Jinks" was condemned to follow
them and listen to it as long as they played it. There was a large
multitude of people from Cincinnati, condemned to sit for a thousand
years upon a bank of a river and read the daily papers of Chicago.
There was a crowd of tradesmen, who cheated with false weights,
condemned to trudge for centuries with their weights hung about
their necks; and others, who mixed sand with sugar, and turmeric
with butter, and sold other villainous compounds for the genuine
article, who were forced to eat their own abominable adulterations
incessantly. And thus we went on until we came to a spot where there
was a fearful chattering and screaming. The Devil stopped his ears as
we approached, and I immediately discovered a crowd of able-bodied,
stout-armed women chasing a piece of paper which was fluttering
through the air. Every time that they were on the point of seizing
it, a puff of wind would blow it away again. And on the paper was
written the single word "Ballot." I smiled as I recognized some of
them.

Thus we went on, but it was everywhere the same story. Those who had
bad passions on Earth brought their bad passions along with them, and
made their own hells. Those who were foolish on Earth were foolish
here, and everyone was punished in kind. Each person had his crime
fastened upon him, and whatever chalice he had forced others to drink
was now commended to his own lips.

And as we retraced our steps, I asked the Devil if there was no
cessation from these punishments, and he answered: "Love will finally
triumph at last, for it is the law of laws, both on the Earth and in
the Heavens."

We again reached the River Lethe, and I asked him what word he wished
to send to Earth. He smiled, as he answered: "Nothing special. My
business is doing well there, and I have no fault to find with your
representation. The supply quite exceeds the demand."

He paused a minute, and said: "And yet I think I might send some
advice by you. A great many good souls upon Earth are troubled
about the meaning of life. There was one poor fool named Dr. Faust,
who once sold himself to me, in order to get at the meaning of the
riddle. Tell them that any one who can appreciate the littleness of
life and not lose his own dignity has come near enough to solving
the problem. Tell them, also, to realize, if they can, that their
condition is human, and that, whenever they try to ape the divine,
they are opposing the eternal fitness of things. The best happiness,
and glory, and virtue they can reach is in being _men_, and loving
their fellow-men. If they become angels on Earth, they have nothing
left to do when they get up there. That old poet whom you are
accustomed to style a heathen was just right when he said: 'I am
human, and I deem nothing human a stranger to me.'"

I promised the Devil I would take his message to Earth, and then
said: "I have but one more question to ask."

"What is that?" he replied.

"Do editors come here often?"

"No! they have quite enough of this place where they are."

I thanked him from my heart of hearts, and bade him good-bye as one
not utterly bereft of comfort and consolation.

As the old ferryman landed I noticed that his boat was full of stock
speculators, and that the Devil looked utterly disgusted when they
stepped into his dominions.

We passed over the river in silence. I climbed the hill and crossed
the blank moors, passed through the golden sea again, and then on
through the systems until I reached Earth and awaked.

It may be barely possible that a quarter section of hot mince pie had
something to do with this visit.

     September 19, 1869.



_L'ENVOI._


It is only a few brief lines, and I must say good-bye to the reader,
and the book closes. You and I have kept company together through
nearly three years of pleasant intercourse--a brief time as numbered
by years, but long enough in the calendar of words and deeds. I trust
neither of us is the worse for the company, and that we shall part
with kindly words, good wishes and mutual blessings, until we see
each other again. I trust that in these preceding pages, each one
of you may have found some thought you will deem worthy to lay away
for preservation among the locks of hair and old letters and faded
flowers and other souvenirs which each of you keep and look at when
the world presses heavily upon you with its cares and anxieties.

I trust that you may have found something that is beautiful in the
lives of each one of our little family with whom you have been made
acquainted, in your companionship with me. I frankly confess to
you that I have a tender regard for them all, and that I shall be
disappointed if you do not share the same, as I have only been their
mouthpiece when they have spoken. I know that they regret the parting
with you as much as I, and that if we ever meet again, they will
extend to you the same warm welcome as I.

And now the book closes, just as the birds are flying to the warmer
South and the groves are growing strangely silent; just as the
flowers are fading in the gardens and in the fields; just as the
leaves are falling in the forests, and the hill-sides are beginning
to drape themselves in the melancholy and tender beauty of the
Autumn. I cannot make this parting without a feeling of regret and a
certain sadness; and, as I extend my hand to each and all of you--to
some whom I have met daily, to some whose faces have grown familiar,
and to some whom I have never seen and may never see, and yet have
sent me precious words of sympathy and encouragement during these
past three years--I should be ungrateful were I not to acknowledge
the constant kindness which has greeted these careless letters as
they have appeared in the columns of the TRIBUNE.

Hoping that, in some future time, we may meet together again as now,
it only remains to say Farewell, and to write those saddest of all
words--

          THE END.

     September 22, 1869.


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious typographical errors were repaired.

Archaic or variant stylistic spellings, and hyphenation
inconsistencies, were retained.

Redundant title page at the beginning--displaying only "Letters of
Peregrine Pickle"--was removed.

Table on P. 260, "E-flat" and "B-flat" are displayed as the note name
followed by the musical "flat" symbol in the original.





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