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Title: Fresh Leaves
Author: Fern, Fanny, 1811-1872
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  In this utf-8 text version of Fresh Leaves:
     words in italics are marked with _underscores_
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  Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by
  In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court, for the Southern District
  of New York.

  82 & 84 Beekman-st., N. Y.

  15 Vandewater-st., N. Y.




  Her Mother’s Love.


  Every writer has his parish. To mine, I need offer no apology for

  First, a new story which has never before appeared in print;

  Secondly, the “hundred-dollar-a-column story,” respecting the
remuneration of which, skeptical paragraphists have afforded me so much
amusement. (N. B.--My banker and I can afford to laugh!) This story
having been published when “The New York Ledger” was in the dawn of its
present unprecedented circulation, and never having appeared elsewhere,
will, of course, be new to many of my readers;

  Thirdly, I offer them my late fugitive pieces, which have often been
requested, and which, with the other contents of this volume, I hope
will cement still stronger our friendly relations.

                                                   FANNY FERN.


  VISITING AND VISITORS,                              43
  OUR FIRST NURSE,                                    47
  TO LITERARY ASPIRANTS,                              53
  SUMMER TRAVEL,                                      56
  A GENTLE HINT,                                      59
  BREAKFAST AT THE PAXES,                             65
  GIRLS’ BOARDING-SCHOOLS,                            68
  CLOSET MEDITATIONS,                                 71
  “FIRST PURE,”                                       79
  HOLIDAY THOUGHTS,                                   82
  A HEADACHE,                                         85
  “COME ON, MACDUFF,”                                 93
  LOOK ALOFT,                                         95
  KNICKERBOCKER AND TRI-MOUNTAIN,                     98
  THE BOSTON WOMAN,                                  100
  THE NEW YORK MALE,                                 101
  THE BOSTON MALE,                                   102
  MY OLD INKSTAND AND I,                             103
  THE SOUL AND THE STOMACH,                          106
  AWE-FUL THOUGHTS,                                  107
  A WORD TO PARENTS AND TEACHERS,                    108
  LADY DOCTORS,                                      111
  THE CHERUB IN THE OMNIBUS,                         112
  FANNY FORD,                                        114
  MORAL MOLASSES,                                    210
  A WORD TO SHOPKEEPERS,                             212
  PARENT AND CHILD,                                  217
  LAST BACHELOR HOURS OF TOM PAX,                    220
  TOM PAX’S CONJUGAL SOLILOQUY,                      222
  TEA AND DARNING-NEEDLES FOR TWO,                   226
  A HOUSE WITHOUT A BABY,                            232
  GLANCES AT PHILADELPHIA, NO. 1,                    233
  GLANCES AT PHILADELPHIA, NO. 2,                    237
  GLANCES AT PHILADELPHIA, NO. 3,                    242
  GLANCES AT PHILADELPHIA, NO. 4,                    246
  IN THE DUMPS,                                      249
  PEEPS FROM UNDER A PARASOL,                        252
  THE CONFESSION BOX,                                263
  A WORD TO PARENTS AND TEACHERS,                    266
  BREAKFAST,                                         268
  GREENWOOD AND MOUNT AUBURN,                        269
  GETTING UP THE WRONG WAY,                          272
  A HOT DAY,                                         277
  FUNERAL NOTES,                                     278
  THE “FAVORITE” CHILD,                              282
  A QUESTION AND ITS ANSWER,                         283
  WINTER,                                            284
  A GAUNTLET FOR THE MEN,                            286
  A BREAKFAST-TABLE REVERIE,                         290
  A GLANCE AT A CHAMELEON SUBJECT,                   295
  FACTS FOR UNJUST CRITICS,                          297
  TRY AGAIN,                                         301
  FAIR PLAY,                                         302
  TO GENTLEMEN,                                      305
  TO THE LADIES,                                     307
  MATRIMONIAL ADVERTISEMENTS,                        309
  A SABLE SUBJECT,                                   310
  NEW YORK,                                          313
  AIRY COSTUMES,                                     315
  A PEEP AT THE OPERA,                               317
  HARD TIMES,                                        318
  COUNTER IRRITATION,                                321
  SUNDAY IN GOTHAM,                                  324
  ANNIVERSARY TIME,                                  327
  WAYSIDE WORDS,                                     330
  CHARLOTTE BRONTE,                                  332





  “There’s your father, children.”

  The piano was immediately closed by the young performer, and the
music-stool put carefully away, that the new-comer might have an
unrestricted choice of seats; a wide space was immediately cleared
before the grate which had been carefully replenished with coal but half
an hour before; a stray cricket was hastily picked up and pushed beneath
the sofa, and an anxious glance was thrown around the room by Mrs. Wade
as her husband entered the room.

  “Too much light here,” said the latter, as he turned down the gas
burner. “I hate such a glare. Waste of coal, too; fire enough to roast
an ox, and coal seven dollars a ton;” and Mr. Wade seized the poker and
gave the grate a vindictive poke.

  Mrs. Wade sighed--she had too long been accustomed to such scenes to
do any thing else. It was not the first time, nor the second, nor the
hundredth, that her unwearied endeavors to make home cheerful had been
met with a similar repulse; the young people, so gay but a moment
before, skipped, one by one, out of the room, closing the door
noiselessly behind them as culprit-like they glided away.

  “Heigh-ho,” muttered Mr. Wade, as he threw himself down, boots and
all, on the sofa, “heigh-ho.”

  “Does your head ache?” asked his patient wife.

  “I want my tea,” growled Mr. Wade, without deigning a reply.

  Mrs. Wade might have answered--most women would--that it had been
ready this half-hour. She might also have said that she had just come up
from the kitchen, where she had been to see that his favorite dish of
toast was prepared to his liking. She might also have said that she did
not like to order tea till he had signified his wish for it--but as I
said before, Mrs. Wade had been too long in school not to have learned
her lesson well. So she merely touched her forefinger to the bell, for
Betty to bring in the tea.

  It was strong and hot--Mr. Wade could not deny it;--the milk was
sweet; so was the butter, the toast was unexceptionable, and enough of
it; the cake light, and the sweetmeats unfermented. Poor, ill-used Mr.
Wade--he was in that most provoking of all dilemmas to a petulant
temper, there was nothing to fret about.

  “There’s the door bell,” he exclaimed, inwardly relieved at the idea
of an escape-valve; “now I suppose I shall be talked deaf by that silly
Mrs. Jones and her daughter, or bored by that stupid Mr. Forney; it’s
very strange that a man can not enjoy his family one evening free from

  No such thing--Mr. Wade was cheated out of a fresh growl; the new
arrival being a carpet-bag, and its accessory, Mr. John Doe, a
brother-growler, whom Mr. Wade would rather have seen, if possible, than
a new gold dollar. Mr. John Doe, as sallow as a badly-preserved pickle,
and about as sweet--a man all nerves and frowns--a walking
thunder-cloud, muttering vengeance against any thing animate, or
inanimate, which had the temerity to bask in the sunshine. Mr. John Doe,
a worse drug than any in his apothecary’s shop, who believed in the
eternal destruction of little dead babies; turned the world into one
vast charnel-house, and reversed the verdict of Him who pronounced it
“very good.”

  “Ah--how d’ye do--how dy’e do?” said Mr. Wade, with an impromptu
lugubrious whine, as Mr. Doe ran his fingers through his grizzled locks,
and deposited his time-worn carpet-bag in the corner; “it is pleasant to
see a _friend_.”

  “Thank you, thank you,” replied Mr. Doe, lowering himself as carefully
into his chair as if he was afraid his joints would become unriveted;
“there’s no knowing how many more times you may have to say that; these
sudden changes of weather are dreadful underminers of a man’s
constitution. Traveling, too, racks me to pieces; I can’t sleep in a
strange bed, nor get any thing I can eat when I wake, my appetite is so
delicate;--sometimes I think it don’t make much difference--we are poor
creatures--begin to die as soon as we are born--how do you do, Mr. Wade?
You look to me like a man who is going to have the jaundice, eye-balls
yellow, etc.--any appetite?”

  “Not much,” said Mr. Wade, unbuttoning his lower vest button, under
which were snugly stowed away a pile of buttered toast, three cups of
tea, and preserved peaches enough to make a farmer sick--“not much;--a
man who works as hard as I do, gets too exhausted to eat when it comes
night, or if he does, his food does not digest; how’s your family?”

  “So, so,” muttered Doe, with an expressive shrug; “children are a
great care, Mr. Wade, a great care--my John don’t take that interest in
the drug business that I wish he did; he always has some book or other
on hand, reading; I am afraid he never will be good for any thing; your
book-worms always go through the world, knocking their heads against
facts. I shouldn’t wonder, after all my care, if he turned out a poor
miserable author; sometimes I think what is to be, will be, and there’s
no use trying.”

  “Is not that fatalism?” quietly interposed Mrs. Wade, blushing the
next moment that she had so far departed from “The Married Woman’s
Guide,” as to question an opinion which her husband had indorsed by his
silence. “Children are a great care, ’tis true, but it always seemed to
me that the care brought its own sweet reward.”

  Mr. Doe wheeled round to look in the face this meek wife, whose
disappointed heart, turning to her children for that comfort which she
had in vain looked for from her husband, could ill brook that the value
of this coveted treasure should have such depreciating mention.

  “Pshaw! what signify words?” said her husband. “I hate argument;
besides, women can’t argue--every body knows that; and every body knows
that if a man wants his children to do, or be, one thing, they are sure
to do, or be, just the opposite. I’ve no doubt it will turn out just so
with ours; there is no counting on ’em. In my day, if a man was a
farmer, his son was a farmer after him, and never thought of being any
thing else. Nowadays, children have to be consulted as to ‘their bent.’
Fudge--fiddlestick; their bent is for mischief and dodging work, and a
tight rein and a good smart rod is the best cure for it.”

  Just at this point Mr. Doe gave a dismal groan, and doubled himself up
like a jack-knife. “A touch of my old complaint,” said he, holding on to
his waist-band. “Rheumatism--it will carry me off some day. Mrs. Wade,
if you will be so good as to look in my carpet-bag, you will find a
plaster which I never travel without; and I will trouble you, Mrs.
Wade, to have my bed warmed, and a fire in the room where you intend I
should sleep; and if there should be any cracks in the windows, will you
have the goodness to nail up a blanket over them? and I would like a
very warm comforter, if you please, and a jug of hot water at my feet,
if it would not be too much trouble.”

  “Of course not,” said Mr. Wade, settling himself very comfortably down
into his ample easy-chair; “of course not; Mrs. Wade, won’t you attend
to it?”

  “And, Mrs. Wade, if you’d be so kind as to put the feather bed
uppermost, and give me cotton sheets instead of linen; I should also
prefer a hair to a feather pillow: I consider feathers too heating for
my head; I am obliged to be careful of my head.”

  “Certainly,” repeated Mr. Wade. “Mrs. Wade will see to it.” And as she
moved out of the room to execute these orders, these two despondent
Siamese drew their chairs closer together, to bemoan the short-comings
of two of the most long-suffering wives who ever wore themselves to
skeletons, trying to please husbands who were foreordained not to be


  Mother’s room! How we look back to it in after years, when she who
sanctified it is herself among the sanctified. How well we remember the
ample cushioned chair, with its all-embracing arms, none the worse in
our eyes for having rocked to sleep so many little forms now scattered
far and wide, divided from us, perhaps, by barriers more impassable than
the cold, blue sea. Mother’s room--where the sun shone in so cheerily
upon the flowering plants in the low, old-fashioned window-seats, which
seemed to bud and blossom at the least touch of her caressing fingers;
on which no blight or mildew ever came; no more than on the love which
outlived all our childish waywardness--all our childish folly. The cozy
sofa upon which childish feet were never forbidden to climb; upon which
curly heads could dream, unchidden, the fairy dreams of childhood. The
closet which garnered tops, and dolls, and kites, and whips, and toys,
and upon whose upper shelf was that infallible old-fashioned panacea for
infancy’s aches and pains--brimstone and molasses! The basket, too,
where was always the very string we wanted; the light-stand round which
we gathered, and threaded needles (would we had threaded thousands more)
for eyes dimmed in our service; and the cheerful face that smiled across
it such loving thanks.

  Mother’s room! where our matronly feet returned when _we_ were
mothers; where we lifted our little ones to kiss the wrinkled face,
beautiful with its halo of goodness; where we looked on well pleased to
see the golden locks we worshiped, mingling lovingly with the silver
hairs; where, as the fond grand-mamma produced, in alarming profusion,
cakes and candies for the little pets, we laughingly reminded her of
_our_ baby days, when she wisely told us such things were “unwholesome;”
where _our_ baby caps, yellow with time, ferreted from some odd bag or
closet, were tried on our own babies’ heads, and we sat, wondering where
the months and years had flown between then and now; and looking
forward, half-sighing, to just such a picture, when we should play what
seemed to us now, with our smooth skins, round limbs, and glossy locks,
such an impossible part.

  Mother’s room! where we watched beside her patient sick-bed through
the long night, gazing hopelessly at the flickering taper, listening to
the pain-extorted groan, which no human skill, no human love, could
avert or relieve; waiting with her the dawning of that eternal day, seen
through a mist of tears, bounded by no night.

  Mother’s room! where the mocking light strayed in through the
half-opened shutters, upon her who, for the first time, was blind to our
tears, and deaf to our cries; where busy memory could bring back to us
no look, no word, no tone, no act of hers, not freighted with God-like
love. Alas!--alas for us then, if, turning the tablets, they showed us
this long debt of love unappreciated--unpaid!

  No blossoming plants luxuriated in the windows of Mr. Wade’s house; no
picture attracted attention upon the walls; with the exception of a huge
map of the United States in the hall, their blank whiteness was
pitilessly unrelieved. The whole house seemed to be hopelessly given up
to the household god--utility. If Mrs. Wade ever had any womanish
leaning toward the ornamental, she had long since learned to suppress
it; and what woman, how poor soever she may be, does not make some
feeble attempt to brighten up the little spot she calls home? Beautiful
to me, for this reason, is the crude picture, the cheap plaster-cast, or
the china mug with its dried grass, or the blue ribbon which ties back
the coarse but clean white curtain under humble roofs. Who shall say
that such things have not a moral influence--a moral significance? Who
shall say that there is not more hope of that young man on the walls of
whose bachelor attic hangs a landscape, or a sweet female head, though
not “by an old master?” Who that has been so unfortunate as to sojourn
in that mockery of a home, called a boarding-house, has not, when
passing through the halls, and by the open doors of rooms, formed
favorable or unfavorable opinions of its occupants from these mute
indications of taste and character? Let no one, particularly if he has
children, wait till he can command the most costly adornments; have one
picture, have one statue, have one vase, if no more, for little eyes to
look at, for little tongues to prattle about.

  If Mr. Wade had but understood this! If he had but brushed from his
heart the cobwebs of his counting-room--for he had a heart, buried as
it was under the world’s rubbish; if he had not circumscribed his
thoughts, wishes, hopes, aims, by the narrow horizon of his ledger.
If--If! Dying lips falter out that word regretfully;--alas! that we
should learn to live only when we come to die!

  I have said Mr. Wade had a heart, ossified as it now was by the
all-absorbing love of gain. At the age of seven years, he was left, with
a younger brother, the only legacy to a heart-broken, invalid mother,
who found herself suddenly thrown upon the world for that charity that
she had been accustomed to bestow. To say that she found none, would be
false; the world is not all bad; but there were months in which Mr.
Wade, then a bright, handsome lad, was glad to carry home to her and his
little brother, the refuse food of the neighbors’ kitchens. They who
have felt in early youth the griping hand of poverty, unfortunately
learn to attach undue value to the possession of money. Day after day,
as the boy witnessed his feeble mother struggling vainly with her
fate--day after day the thought, for _her_ sake to become rich, haunted
his waking dreams and his boyish pillow. With his arms about her neck,
he would picture the blessings and comforts of a future home, which his
more hopeful eyes saw in the distance. The road to it, to be sure, was
rough and thorny, but still it was there; no cloud of adversity could
wholly obscure it to the boy’s vision; and even in the darkest night,
when he woke, in fancy the lamps gleamed brightly from its curtained
windows; and so the boy smothered down his swelling heart, when the
refuse food was tossed carelessly into his beggar’s basket, and was
thankful for the little job which brought him even a penny to place in
_her_ hand, as an earnest of what should come--God willing; and at
night, when the younger brother shivered with cold, John would chafe his
chilled feet, and, taking him in his arms, soothe him to blissful
slumbers. That the world should ever chill such a heart! That the armor
buckled over it in so righteous a cause, should contract around it and
prove but its shroud!

  Nobly the boy struggled: they who are not fastidious as to the means,
seldom fail of securing the result they aim at. John Wade’s pride never
stood like a lion in his path; he heeded not the supercilious glance or
careless tone of his employers, so that he received the hard-earned
reward of his toil. At length, from loving money for what it would
bring, he learned to love it for its own sake; and when death removed
from him those for whom he toiled, he toiled on for love of the
shining dross. Pity that gold should always bring with it the


  “I have a great mind to go to bed,” said Susy Wade, yawning; “I’m not
sleepy, either, but I don’t know what do do with myself; there’s that
tiresome Mr. Doe down stairs--he croaks, and croaks, and croaks, till I
feel almost as sick as he pretends to. Now he will keep mother nursing
up his rheumatism, as he calls it, till ten o’clock, when he is no more
sick than she is, nor half so much; mother never complains when any
thing ails her; but I am not like mother; I am not patient a bit. Were
it not for mother, Neddy, I should like to sail way off across the
ocean, and never come back; I get so tired here at home, and I know she
does, too, though she never says any thing; sometimes she sighs such a
long sigh, when she thinks nobody hears her; I should rather she would
cry outright; it always makes me feel better to have a good cry. I wish
that our father was like Carey Hunt’s father.”

  “So do I,” said Neddy, fixing his humming-top--“so do I--they have
such fun there. Tom told me that his father played games with them
evenings, and showed them how to make kites, and brought them home
story-books, and read them aloud, and sometimes the whole family go out
together to some place of amusement. I wonder what makes our father so
different from Tom Hunt’s father? Tommy always runs down street to meet
his father when he comes home, and tells him what has happened on the
play-ground; I wonder why our father never talks to us about such
things? I wonder how father felt when he was a boy--don’t you suppose he
ever played?”

  “I don’t know,” said Susy, mournfully; “I’m only fifteen, but I mean
to get married just as soon as I can, and then I won’t have such a
gloomy house, and you shall come and live with me, Neddy.”

  “But mother--” said Neddy.

  “O, mother shall come to see us all the time,” said Susy; “won’t we
have fun?”

  “But perhaps your husband will be a sober man, like father, and won’t
want company, only people like Mr. Doe.”

  “But my husband will be young, you little goose,” said Susy.

  “Well--wasn’t father young when mother married him?” said the
persistent Neddy, whirling off his top.

  “I suppose so,” said Susy, with a sigh, “but it don’t seem as if he
ever was. Where’s the Arabian Nights, Neddy, that you borrowed of Tom
Hunt? let’s read a story.”

  “Father made me carry it back,” said Neddy; “he said it was nonsense,
and I shouldn’t read it.”

  “That’s just why I like it,” said Susy; “of course, nobody believes it
true--and I’m so tired of sense! Isn’t there any thing up in the
book-rack there, Neddy?”

  “I’ll see,” said Neddy, stretching his neck up out of his clean white
collar--“I’ll see--here’s Moral Philosophy, Key to Daboll’s Arithmetic,
Sermons by Rev. John Pyne, Essays by Calvin Croaker, Guide to Young
Wives, Rules for Eating, Walking and Talking, Complete Letter Writer,
Treatise on Pneumatics, Buchan’s Domestic Medicine. Which will you
have?” asked Neddy, with a comical whine.

  “Hush!” said Susy, “there’s father’s step.”

  Mr. Wade had come up to get his soft lamb’s-wool slippers for Mr. Doe,
that gentleman having experienced a chill in his left toe joint.

  “Playing top,” said he, contemptuously, looking at Neddy; “at your
age, sir, I was wheeling stone for a mason, in the day-time, and
studying arithmetic evenings. Where’s your Daboll, sir? Study your pound
and pence table; that’s what’s to be the making of you; how do you
expect to become a man of business without that? You’ll never drive a
good bargain--you’ll be cheated out of your eye-teeth. Get your Daboll,
sir, and Susy, do you hear him say it. Tops are for babies, sir; a boy
of your age ought to be almost as much a man as his father. How should I
look playing top? God didn’t make the world to play in.” And Mr. Wade
and his lamb’s-wool slippers slipped down stairs.

  “He didn’t make it for a work-shop either,” thought Susy, as she took
down the offensive Daboll.

  They to whom the word father comprises all that is reverent, tender,
companionable and sweet, may refuse to recognize the features of this
portrait as a true likeness of the relation for which it stands; they
may well doubt--they whose every childish hope and fear was freely
confided to a pitying, loving, sympathizing heart--they whose generous
impulses were never chilled by the undeserved breath of suspicion and
distrust--they whose overflowing love was never turned back in a lava
tide to devastate their fresh young hearts--happy they for whom memory
daguerreotypes no such mournful picture! Still, let them not for that
reason doubt, that through the length and breadth of the land, are men
and women who look back sorrowing on what they might have been, _but for
their blighted childhood_!

  “Blessed night!” the words often fell from Mrs. Wade’s lips, as she
closed her chamber-door, and, laying her weary head upon her pillow,
sought oblivion in sleep.

  “Blessed night;” the children did not hear it, for whose sakes she
often repressed the rising sigh, and sent back to their fountain the
scalding tears, and whose future, as her health and strength declined,
she would have trembled to contemplate, but for her faith in God.

  He did not hear it--one kind word from whom, one look, or smile, to
say that he appreciated all her untiring efforts, would have brought
back the roses of health to that faded cheek. He did not hear it, as he
sat there over the midnight-fire, with groaning Mr. Doe, ringing the
changes on dollars and cents, dollars and cents, which had come between
him and the priceless love of those warm hearts.

  Ay--Blessed night!


  “I think it must be time for Henry to come home,” and the speaker
glanced at a little gold watch on the mantel. “What a noise those
children are making. I told them to keep still, but after all, I’m glad
that they didn’t mind me; the most pitiful sight on earth to me, is a
child with a feeble body and a large head, who never plays. Let them
romp--broken chairs are easier mended than broken spines; who would be a
slave to an upholstery shop, or a set of porcelain; who would keep awake
at night to watch the key which locks up a set of gold or silver? Who
would mew children up in the nursery for fear of a parlor carpet? My
parlor is not too good for my children to play in, and I hope it never
will be. Now I will go down and take out some cake for tea; how glad I
am Henry loves cake, because I know so well how to make it; who would
have thought I should have had such a good husband, and such a happy
home--poor mamma--and she deserves it so much better than I. Sometimes I
think I ought never to have left home while she lived, but have staid to
comfort her. Oh my children must be very--very happy; childhood comes
but once--but once.”

  So said Mary Hereford, Mr. Wade’s married daughter, as she picked up
the toys, and picture-books, and strings, and marbles, with which her
romping children had strewed her chamber floor.

  Mary Hereford was no beauty. She had neither golden brown, nor raven
hair; her skin was not transparently white, nor her eyes dazzlingly
bright, nor her foot and hand miraculously small. She was simply a
plump, healthy, rosy, cheerful little cricket of a woman--singing ever
at her own hearth-stone--proud of her husband--proud of her children,
knowing no weariness in their service. Many a beautiful woman has wrung
her white hands in vain for the love which lent wings to this
unhandsome, but still lovely little wife, dignified even the most
common-place employment, and made her heart a temple for sweet and holy
thoughts to gather.

  “Yes, there comes Henry now,” said Mary, and before the words were
well out of her mouth, her husband held her at arm’s length, and looked
into her face.

  “You have been sewing too steadily, little wife,” said he; “I must
take you out for a walk after tea. I shall get a sempstress to help you
if these children out-grow their clothes so fast.”

  Mary laughed a merry little laugh; “No such thing--I am not tired a
bit--at least not now you are here; beside, don’t you work hard down in
that close counting-room, your poor head bothered with figures all day?
Do you suppose a wife is to fold her hands idly, that her husband may
get gray hairs? No--you and I will grow old together, but that is a long
way off yet, you know,” and Mary shook her brown hair about her face.
“Come--now for tea. I have such nice cakes for you; the children have
been so good and affectionate; to be sure they tear their aprons
occasionally, and perhaps break a cup or plate, but what is that, if we
are only kind and happy? Oh, it is blessed to be happy!” And Mary would
have thrown her arms around her husband’s neck, but unfortunately she
was too short.

  The smoking tea and savory cakes were set upon the table--Followed the
children, bouncing and rosy--fairly brightening up the room like a gay
bouquet. With one on either knee, Henry Hereford listened, well pleased,
to tales of soaring kites, and sympathized with disastrous shipwrecks of
mimic boats, nor thought his dignity compromised in discussing the
question, whether black, blue, or striped marbles were prettiest, or
whether a doll whose eyes were not made to open and shut, could, by any
stretch of imagination, be supposed by its youthful mamma to go to
sleep. How priceless is the balm of sympathy to childhood! The certainty
that no joy is too minute, no grief too trivial to find an echo in the
parental heart. Blessed they--who, like little children, are neither too
wise, nor too old to lean thus on the Almighty Father!

  “Where’s my umbrella, Susan?” said Mr. Wade, “it is raining, and I am
in a hurry to go to my business.”

  “It is Sunday, Mr. Wade; did you forget it was Sunday?”

  “Sunday!” ejaculated Mr. Wade, in well-feigned surprise, “we didn’t
have salt fish, I believe, for dinner yesterday.”

  “No,” replied his wife, penitently, “but I believe it is the first
time it has been omitted since our marriage.”

  “It _was_ an omission,” said Mr. Wade, solemnly, as he laid aside his
hat and coat. “Sunday, is it, Mrs. Wade, I wish I hadn’t got up so
early--I suppose you are going to take the children off to church, are
you not? I’d like to be quiet, and go to sleep till dinner time.”

  “Perhaps you would step over to Mary’s some part of the day,”
suggested his wife. “She came here yesterday to leave some nice jelly
that she had been making for me, and said you had not been there for
nearly two months.”

  “No,” replied Mr. Wade, “I had as lief encounter a hornet’s nest as
those children of Mary’s; they are just like eels, slipping up and
slipping down; slipping in, and slipping out; never still. Mary is
spoiling them. The last time I was there I found her playing puss in the
corner with them; puss in the corner, Mrs. Wade!--how does she expect to
keep them at a proper distance, and make them reverence her, as your
Bible calls it, if she is going to frolic with them that way? and Henry
is not a whit better; they are neither fit to bring up a family. Mary
used to be a sedate, steady girl, before she was married; I don’t know
that I remember having ever heard her laugh in her life, while she was
at home; I can’t think what has changed her so.”

  His wife drooped her head, but made no answer.

  The cold, hard man before her had no key with which to unlock the
buried sorrows of those long weary years which Susan Wade was at that
moment passing in review.

  “Yes; I can’t think what has changed her so,” resumed Mr. Wade; “I
think it must be Henry’s fault--she was brought up so carefully; but
after all, a great deal depends upon the sort of man a woman marries. I
dare say,” added he, complacently, “_you_ would have been a very
different woman had you married any body but me.”

  “Very likely,” answered his wife, mournfully.

  “To be sure, you would; I am glad you have the good sense to see it; I
consider that a woman is but a cipher up to the time she is married--her
husband then invests her with a certain importance, always subservient
to his, of course. Then a great deal depends, too, on the way a man
begins with his wife. Now I always had a great respect for Dr. Johnson,
for the sensible manner in which he settled matters on his wedding day;
it seems that he and his wife were to ride horseback to the church where
they were to be married. Soon after starting his bride told him, first,
that they rode too fast, then, too slow. ‘This won’t do,’ said he to
himself; ‘I must begin with this woman as I mean to go on; she must keep
my pace, not I hers:’ and so, putting spurs to his horse, he galloped
out of sight; when she rejoined him at the church-door, she was in
tears--in a proper state of submission--he never had any trouble with
her afterward; it was more necessary as she was a widow; they need an
uncommon tight rein. Sensible old fellow, that Johnson. I don’t know
that I ever enjoyed any thing more than his answer to a lady who was
going into ecstasies at some performance she had seen, and wondered that
the doctor did not agree with her; ‘My dear,’ said he, ‘you must
remember that you are a dunce, and, therefore, very easily pleased.’
Very good, upon my word--ha--ha--very good; ‘Doctor Johnson’s Life’ is
the only book I ever had patience to read; he understood the sex;
ha--ha--upon my word, very good”--and Mr. Wade rubbed his spectacles
with such animation that he rubbed out one of the glasses.

  “Two and sixpence for getting excited!” said he, as he picked up the
fragments; “well--it is a little luxury I don’t often indulge in; but
really that old Johnson was such a fine old fellow--I like him. Now take
the children off to church, Susan; I want to go sleep.”

  “I hope he may never be sorry for sending that pale, sickly woman out
in such a driving rain as this,” muttered Betty, as her mistress walked
over the wet pavements to church. “If there’s a selfisher man than Mr.
Wade, I’d like to know it; well, he won’t have her long, and then maybe
he’ll think of it. I would have left here long ago if it had not been
for her; it’s work--work--work--with him, and no thanks, and that’s what
is fretting the soul out of her; she can’t please him with all her
trying. And Miss Susan and Neddy--cooped up here like birds in a cage,
and never allowed to speak above their breath; they’ll fly through the
bars sometime, if he don’t open the door wider; and Miss Susan getting
to be a young lady, too--looking as solemn as a sexton, when she ought
to be frisking and frolicking about like all other innocent young
creturs. I used to get her down here, and make molasses candy for her,
but she has out-grown candy, now--well, I don’t know what will come of
it all. At her age I was going to husking and quilting frolics, and
singing-school; bless me--what a time I used to have coming through the
snow-drifts. I really believe Isaiah Pettibone used to upset the sleigh
on purpose. I suppose I might have married him if I had been as forrard
as some girls--leastways I know he gave me a paper heart, with a dart
stuck through it; but when I look at Mr. Wade, I say it is all
right--ten to one he might have turned out just such a cranky
curmudgeon. People say that for every bad husband in the world, there’s
a bad wife somewhere to balance it; I don’t believe it--but, anyhow, if
there is, I wish they’d each torment their own kind, and not be killing
off such patient creturs as Mrs. Wade. I’ll go up stairs and put her
slippers to the fire, and then get something nice and hot for her to
take when she comes back. I used to think that a poor servant-girl was
not of much account in the world--I don’t think so since I came here to
live; I know it is a comfort to Mrs. Wade to feel that somebody in the
house is caring for her, who is always doing for other people; and
though she never says a word about her troubles, and I am not the girl
to let her know that I see them, yet the way in which she says, ‘Thank
you, Betty; you are always kind and thoughtful,’ shows me that, humble
as I am, she leans on me, and pays me a hundred times over for any
little thing I do for her. I think, after all, that God made nobody of
so little account that he could not at some time or other help somebody
else. There’s the bell, now! Mercy on us! there’s that croaking raven,
Mr. Doe, coming here to dinner; he will be sure to eat up every thing
good that I make for Mrs. Wade. I wonder how a man who is eternally
grumbling and growling at every thing the Lord has made, can have the
face to gormandize His good things, as Mr. Doe does. I’d either let ’em
alone, or say Thank you--he don’t do nary one.”


  The bleak winds of March were abroad, causing even the healthy and
rugged to shrink from their piercing breath, and fold more closely
around their shivering limbs the warm garments of winter; while the
delicate invalid, warned by his irritated lungs, ventured not beyond
the equable temperature of his closely-curtained chamber.

  Mrs. Wade’s accustomed place at the table was vacant; her busy fingers
no longer kept the domestic treadmill in motion. Ah! how seldom we feel
till the “mother” is stricken down, how never-ceasing is the vigilance,
how tireless the patience that ministers to our daily wants;--dropping
noiseless, like the gentle dew, too common and unobtrusive a blessing to
be noticed--till absence teaches us its value.

  Death had no terrors for Mrs. Wade. It was only when looking upon the
children whom she must leave behind, that she prayed, with quivering
lips--“Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!”

  If in the thorny path her woman’s feet had trod, her daughter’s
trembling feet must walk! What human arm would sustain her? what human
voice whisper words of cheer? And Neddy--the impulsive, generous,
warm-hearted Neddy; quick to err--as quick to repent--what human hand
would weigh justly in the scales of praise and blame, his daily deeds?
What hand, save a mother’s, in uprooting the weeds, would crush not the
tender flowers? Oh, what mother, while pondering these things in her
heart, and looking round upon the dear faces, in the near or distant
prospect of dissolution, has not felt her heart-tendrils tighten around
them, with a vice-like clasp that almost defied separation? Nature’s
voice is clamorous; but over, and above, and through its importunate
pleadings, comes there to the Christian mother, the still, small
whisper, “My grace is sufficient for thee!”

  Mr. Wade at first refused to believe in the reality of his wife’s
sickness. Women, he said, were always ailing, and fancying themselves
dying. But, as the parlor was vacated for the chamber, and the
easy-chair for the bed, and the doctor’s chaise stopped twice a day
before the door, and Mrs. Hereford left her own little family to sit
beside her mother, and Betty wiped her eyes with her apron every time
she left the chamber door--and, more than all, when Mr. Wade’s toast was
not browned as _she_ used to brown it, and his favorite pudding was
wanting, and the lamp burned dimly on the lonely tea-table, and his
slippers were not always in the right place--he resigned himself to what
seemed inevitable, with the air of a deeply-injured man; and slept as
soundly at night, in the room next his wife’s, as if death’s shadow had
not even then fallen across the threshold.

  At breakfast he drove Betty distracted with orders and counter-orders
about egg-boiling and toast-making, after eating which, he drew on a
pair of creaking boots and an overcoat, and mounted to his wife’s room,
to go through the ceremony of inquiring “how she was,” holding the door
open for the cold wind to blow upon the invalid, while he received the
faint “Easy, thank you,” from lips that contracted with pain, as the
door closed after him in no gentle manner.

  No thought of his children disturbed Mr. Wade’s equanimity. He did not
see, day by day, the sorrowful face of his daughter lifted to his, as if
in search of sympathy; nor notice the tip-toe steps of the playful
little Neddy, as he passed to and fro, with messages from Mrs. Hereford
to Betty.

  “It’s infamous!” said the latter, slamming herself down in one of the
kitchen chairs. “_Is_ that man made of flesh and blood, or is he not?
All last night, Mrs. Wade sat up in bed, with that dreadful distress for
breath, tossing her arms up over her head, and that man snoring away
like the seven sleepers. It’s infamous! Now, I’m no eaves-dropper: I
scorn it; but I was in the kitchen this morning, and the slide was open
through the closet into the basement, and I heard Mrs. Hereford say to
her husband, who had called to inquire after Mrs. Wade: ‘Oh, James,
James, how can I love or respect my father?’ and she sobbed as if her
heart would break; and then she told him that the doctor had ordered
some kind of drugs to be burned in Mrs. Wade’s room to help her
breathing--something expensive--I don’t remember the name, and Mr. Wade
said the doctor was an old granny, and it was a useless expense, and
wouldn’t give his daughter the money for it. When Mrs. Hereford had
finished telling, I heard her husband say a word I never expected to
hear out of his mouth, and he kissed his wife, and handing her his
pocket-book, told her to get whatever was necessary. Oh, dear; the Bible
says, ‘Honor your parents;’ but whether such a man as that _is_ a
parent? that’s the question. Some of the ministers must settle it; I
can’t. But it never will be clear to me that bringing a child into the
world makes a parent. I don’t care what they say; it’s clear as
day-light that the Lord meant that after that they should see ’em safe
through it, no matter how much trouble turns up for ’em. When I’m
married, if I ever am, I’ll say this to my young ones: ‘Now look here;
tell me every thing. If you are sorry, tell me; if you are glad, tell
me; if you are wicked, tell me; and I never, never, will turn away from
you, no more than I want God to turn away from me. And if you break
God’s laws and man’s laws, as I hope you won’t--if you love Him and
me--still, I never will shut my door in your face, _no matter what you
do_, no more than I want my Maker to shut heaven’s door in mine.’ Now,
that’s my notion of a parent. Whether I shall ever have a chance to
carry it out or not--that’s another thing; but as sure as I do, there’s
where you’ll find me; and it’s my belief that many a man has swung on a
gibbet, and many a woman has cursed God and man with her last breath,
for want of just that. As if food, and drink, and clothes was all a
child wanted, or a wife either, for that matter; as if that was all a
husband or a father was bound to furnish; as if that was all the Lord
would hold him accountable for; as if that was--gracious Gradgrind,
there’s my toast burnt all to a crisp.”

       *       *       *       *       *

  Thanks to Mrs. Hereford, who procured the herbs ordered by the doctor,
the poor sufferer was temporarily relieved.

  “Who is that, Mary?” she asked, as she distinguished a strange
footstep in the hall.

  “It is Miss Alsop,” replied Mary.

  No reply from the invalid, but a weary turning of the pale face toward
the pillow, and a gathering moisture in the eyes.

  “Come here, Mary--nearer--nearer”--Mrs. Hereford bent her head so low
that her brown curls swept her mother’s pillow.


  “God forbid--don’t, mother--don’t;” and poor Mary’s tears and kisses
covered the emaciated face before her.

  “You have a home--and a husband--and a kind one, Mary, but Susan and
Neddy--it is hard to leave my children to her keeping. If I could but
take them with me.”

  As she said this, Betty beckoned Mrs. Hereford out of the room, saying
“that Miss Alsop wished to see her, to inquire how dear Mrs. Wade had
passed the night.”

  “Tell her,” said Mary, “that she is very ill, and that I can not leave
her to receive visitors.”

  “If you please,” said Betty, returning, “Miss Alsop says she is so
weary that she will sit and rest for half an hour.”

  “Just half an hour before father comes home; then, of course, he will
invite her to partake his solitary dinner; that’s just what she came
for; mother is right; how strange that I never should have thought of
all this before!” and a thousand little things now flashed upon her mind
in confirmation of what her mother had just said.

  Miss Alsop was an unmarried woman of forty, and presented that strange
anomaly, a fat old maid. Her teeth were good, her hair thick and glossy,
and her voice softer than the cooing of a dove; one of those voices
which are the never-failing herald of deceit and hypocrisy to the keen
observer of human nature. For years she had had her eye upon Mr. Alsop,
and actually claimed a sort of cousinly relationship, which she never
had been able very clearly to establish, but upon the strength of which
she had come, self-invited, twice a month, to spend the day. The first
moment Mrs. Wade saw her, she was conscious of an instinctive aversion
to her; but as she was never in the habit of consulting her own tastes
or inclinations, she endured the infliction with her own gentle
sweetness. No one who witnessed her offering Miss Alsop the easiest
chair, or helping her to the daintiest bit on the table, would have
supposed that she read the wily woman’s secret heart. Not a look, not a
word, not a tone betrayed it; but when the weary day was over, and Miss
Alsop had exhausted all her vapid nothings, and, tying on her bonnet,
regretted that she must trouble Mr. Wade to wait upon her home, Mrs.
Wade, as they passed through the door, and out into the darkness, would
lean her cheek upon her hand, while tears, which no human eye had ever
seen, fell thick and fast.

  Not that Mr. Wade had any affection for Miss Alsop--not at all--he was
incapable of affection for any thing but himself and his money; but Miss
Alsop had a way of saying little complimentary things to which the most
sensible man alive never yet was insensible, from the stupidest and
silliest of women. What wonder that the profound Mr. Wade walked into
the trap with his betters? and though he would not, for one of his
money-bags, have owned it, he always left her doubly impressed with the
value of his own consequence. Then--Miss Alsop knew how to be an
excellent listener when occasion required, and Mr. Wade was, like all
egregious stupidities, fond of hearing himself talk; and occasionally
Miss Alsop would ask him to repeat some remark he had made, as if
peculiarly struck with its acuteness, or its adaptation to her
single-blessed-needs, upon which Mr. Wade would afterward pleasantly
reflect, with the mental exclamation, “Sensible woman, that Miss Alsop!”
Let it not be supposed that this depth of cunning was at all
incompatible with obtuseness of intellect--not at all--there is no
cunning like the cunning of a fool. Yes--Miss Alsop knew her man. She
knew she could afford to bide her time; besides, were personal charms
insufficient, had she not a most potent auxiliary in her bank-book,
which placed to her spinster credit twenty thousand dollars in the
“People’s Bank?”


  Mrs. Wade sat propped up in bed by pillows, for the nature of her
disease rendered repose impossible; dreadful spasms--the forerunners of
dissolution--at intervals convulsed her frame. Pale, but firm, the
gentle Mary Hereford glided about her, now supporting the worn-out
frame--now holding to her lips the cup meant for healing--now opening a
door, or slightly raising a window, to facilitate the invalid’s labored

  The fire had burned low in the grate, and when the gray light of
morning stole in through the half open shutter, and the invalid would
have replenished it, Mrs. Wade’s low whispered, “I shall not need it,
Mary,” gave expression to the fearful certainty which her own heart had
silently throbbed out through the long watches of that agonized night.
Not a murmur escaped the sufferer’s lips--there was no request for the
presence of the absent sleeper, who had promised “to cherish through
sickness and health;” no mention was made of the children, who had been
trustingly placed in the hands of Him who doeth all things well, and
who wearily slumbered on, unconscious that the brightness of their
childhood’s sky was fading out forever. The thin arms were wound around
the neck of the first-born, about whom such happy hopes had once so
thickly clustered, and peacefully as an infant drops asleep. Susan Wade
closed her eyes forever; so peacefully that the daughter knew not the
moment in which the desolate word--“motherless”--was written over
against her name.

  Motherless!--that in that little word should be compressed such weary
weight of woe! It were sad to be written fatherless--but God and his
ministering angels only know how dark this earth may be, when she who
was never weary of us with all our frailties--she, to whom our very
weaknesses clamored more loudly for love, lies careless of our tears.

       *       *       *       *       *

  “Henry!” said Mr. Wade to Mr. Hereford, “I had no idea, in fact--I
didn’t think”--and the embarrassed man tried to rub open his still
sleepy eyes--“I didn’t suppose, really, that Mrs. Wade would die yet;
women are so notional, and that doctor seemed to be encouraging Mrs.
Wade to be sick, as doctors always do--really I am quite taken by
surprise, as one may say; I don’t know any thing about these things--I
should like to have you do what is necessary. I suppose it will not be
considered the thing for me to go to the store to-day,” and he looked
for encouragement to do so in the face of his disgusted son-in-law.

  “I should think not, decidedly,” said Mr. Hereford, dryly.

  “Of course it would not be my wish,” said Mr. Wade, “when poor Susan
lies dead; but one’s duty, you know, sometimes runs a different way from
one’s inclination.”

  And _vice versâ_, thought Henry, but he merely remarked that he would
take any message for him to his place of business.

  Mr. Wade could do no less than accept his offer, so, after eating his
usual breakfast with his usual appetite, he paced up and down the
parlor; got up and sat down; and looked out at the window, and tried in
various ways to stifle certain uncomfortable feelings which began to
disturb his digestion. It was uncomfortable--very. The awe-struck face
of Betty as she stole in and out, the swollen eyes of the children, the
pallid face of Mrs. Hereford, who was trying to give them the
consolation she so much needed herself, and the heavy step of the
undertaker over-head performing his repulsive office. And so the day
wore away; and the form, that a child might have lifted, was laid in the
coffin, and no trace of pain or sorrow lay upon the face upon which the
death-angel had written Peace!

  Why did _he_ fear to look upon its placid sweetness? No reproach ever
came from the living lips--did he fear it from the dead?

  How still lay the once busy fingers! What a mockery seemed the usual
signs and sounds of domestic life! How empty, purposeless, aimless,
seemed life’s petty cares and needs. How chilling this total eclipse of
light, and love, and warmth! Blessed they, who can ease their pained
hearts by sobbing all this out to the listening ear of sympathy. But
what if the great agony be pent up within the swelling heart till it is
nigh bursting? What if it be pent up thus in the gushing heart of
childhood? What if no father’s arms be outstretched to enfold the
motherless? What if the paternal hand never rests lovingly on the bowed
young head? What if the moistening eye must send back to its source the
welling tear? What if the choking sob be an offense? What if childhood’s
ark of refuge--mother’s room--echo back only its own restless footsteps?
O, how many houses that present only to the careless eye, a blank
surface of brick and mortar, are inscribed all over with the
handwriting, legible only to those whose baptism has been--tears!

  But why count over the tears of the orphans, why tell of their weary
days and sleepless nights--of honest Betty’s home-spun attempts at
consolation--of Mr. Wade’s repeated refusals of Mrs. Hereford’s
invitation for them to spend that part of the day with her in which he
was absent at his business? Why tell of the invisible web the cunning
Miss Alsop was weaving? Why tell of her speedy success? Why tell of the
soft-eyed dove transformed by Hymen to the vulture? Why tell of _his_
astonishment, who prided himself upon his lynx-eyed and infallible
penetration of the sex, at being forced to drain to the dregs that
bitter cup he had held so unsparingly to the meek lips upon which death
had set his seal of silence? Why tell of that pitiful old age, which,
having garnered the chaff, and thrown away the wheat of a life-time,
finds itself on the grave’s brink with no desire for repentance,
clutching with palsied hands the treasure of which Death stands ready to
rob it!


  “When are you coming to spend the day with us?” asked a lady of my
acquaintance of another. “Spend the day with you, my dear!” replied the
latter; “I should be tired to death spending the day with you; maybe
I’ll take tea with you sometime.”

  I have often pleased myself imagining how the wheels of society would
creak greased with such honesty as that! and yet how many, if they but
dared to speak their real sentiments, would make a similar response.
Now, I respect that old lady; she had made good use of her years; she
probably knew what it was to talk at a mark for hours on the stretch, to
some one-idea-d statue, who, with crossed hands and starched attitude,
seemed remorselessly exacting of her weary tongue--Give--Give! She knew
what it was to long for dinner to reprieve her aching jaws, or, at
least, afford them a diversion of labor. She knew what it was to be
gladder to see one’s husband home on such a day, than on any other day
in the year; and she knew what it was to have those hopes dashed to
earth by that inglorious sneak selfishly retreating behind his
newspaper, instead of shouldering the conversation as he ought. She knew
what it was to have the hour arrive for her afternoon nap (I _won’t_
call it “siesta,”) instead of which, with leaden lids, and a great
goneness of brain and diaphragm, she must still keep on ringing changes
on the alphabet, for the edification of the monosyllabic statue,
who--horror of horrors!--had “concluded to stay to tea.” She knew what
it was in a fit of despair to present a book of engravings to the
statue, and to hear that interesting functionary remark as she returned
it, that “her eyes were weak.” She knew what it was to send in for a
merry little chatterbox of a neighbor to relieve guard, and receive for
answer, “that she had gone out of town!” She knew what it was to wish
that she had forty babies up stairs, with forty pains under their
aprons, if need be, that she might have an excuse for leaving the statue
for at least one blessed half-hour. She knew what it was to have the
inglorious sneak later to tea on that wearisome day than ever before;
and on his entrance, blandly and coolly to unfurl a business letter,
which, with a Chesterfieldian bow, he hoped the statue would excuse him
for retiring to answer; and she knew what it was, five minutes later, to
spy the wretch on the back piazza reveling in solitude and a cigar. She
knew what it was, when the statue finally--(for every thing comes to an
end _some time_, thank heaven)--took protracted leave--to cry
hysterically from sheer weariness, and a recollection of pressing family
duties indefinitely postponed, and to think for the forty-eleventh time,
what propriety there was in calling her the _weaker_ sex, who had daily
to shoulder burdens which the strongest man either couldn’t
or--_wouldn’t_ bear. And so again, I say--sensible old lady--would there
were more like her!

  And yet we would fain hope that, like ours, this is but one side of
her experience. We would hope that she knew what it was to throw her
arms about the neck of a friend from whom she had no disguises; whose
loving eyes scanned--not the wall for possible cobwebs, nor yet the
carpet for darns, nor yet the mirror for fly-specks; but _her face_, to
see what sorrow Time, in his flight, had registered there, which by
sympathy she could lighten; what joy, which, by sharing, she could
increase. We hope she knew what it was to sit side by side with such a
one at the frugal meal--sweeter far than the stalled ox, for the love
that seasoned it. We hope she knew what it was to lounge, or sit, or
stand, or walk, or read, or sew, or doze even, in that friend’s
presence, with that perfect love which casteth out fear. We hope she
knew what it was to count the hours as they passed, not for their
irksomeness, but as a miser tells his hoarded gold; jealous, lest even
the smallest fraction should escape. We hope she knew what it was when
she unwillingly closed the door upon her retreating form, that shutting
it never so securely, kind words, good deeds, loving looks and tones,
came flocking in to people the voiceless solitude as with shining troops
of white-robed angels.

  And we hope she knew what it was to give the cup of cold water to the
humble disciple for the Master’s sake. We hope that the door of her
house and heart were opened as widely for the destitute orphan, in whose
veins her own blood flowed--who could repay it only with tearful
thanks--as for those who could return feast for feast, and whose tongues
were as smooth as their wine. And finally and lastly, lest we ourselves
should be making too long a visit--we hope the old lady had no “best
chamber,” with closed blinds; pillows as ruffled as the chambermaid’s
temper; forbiddingly polished sheets; smothering canopy; counterpane all
too dainty for tumbling; and pincushion, whose lettered words one must
not invade, even at the most buttonless extremity! Blessings on the old
lady: we trust her carpets were made to be trod on--her chairs to sit
down upon--and her windows to open. We hope her house was too small to
hold half of her friends, and too hot to hold one of her enemies.


  Now sit down, and I will tell you all about it. Charley and I were
engaged. Youth comes but once, you know, and if we waited to be married
until we could furnish a house in fashionable style--well, you see, we
knew too much for that; we got married, and left other couples to grow
gray, if they liked, on the distant prospect of damask curtains, gold
salt-cellars, and trains of innumerable servants.

  Charley did not know the meaning of a “club-house,” and the
shopkeepers flashed their diamonds and satins in vain in my face; I
never gave them a thought. We had some nice books, and some choice
engravings, presented to Charley by an old antiquary who had taken a
fancy to him. You might have gone into many a parlor on which thousands
had been lavished, and liked ours all the better when you came back.
Still, it wanted something--that we both agreed; for no house can be
said to be properly furnished without a baby. Santa Claus, good soul,
understood that, and Christmas day he brought us one, weighing the usual
eight pounds, and as lively as a cricket. Such lungs as it had! Charley
said it was intended for a minister.

  Well, now it was all right, or would have been, if the baby had not
involved a nurse. We had, to be sure, a vague idea that we must have
one, and _as_ vague an idea of what a nurse was. We thought her a good
kind of creature who understood baby-dom, and never interfered with any
little family arrangements.

  Not a bit of it!

  The very first thing she did was to make preparation to sleep in my
room, and send Charley off into a desolate spare chamber. Charley! _my_
Charley! whose shaving operations I had watched with the intensest
interest; mixing up little foam seas of “lather” for him, handing him
little square bits of paper to wipe his razor upon, and applying nice
bits of courtplaster, when he accidentally cut his chin while we were
laughing. Charley! whose cravats I had tied to suit my fancy every
blessed morning, whose hair I had brushed up in elegant confusion, whose
whiskers I had coaxed and trimmed, and--well, any one, unless a bachelor
or old maid, who reads this, can see that it was perfectly ridiculous.

  Charley looked at me, and I looked at him, and then we both looked at
the bran new baby--and there’s where she had us. You might have seen it
with half an eye, as she folded her hands complacently over her
apron-strings, and sat down in my little rocking-chair, opposite the
bed. I felt as though I was sold to the Evil One, as she fixed her
basilisk eyes on me when Charley left the room. Poor Charley! He did not
want to go. He neither smoked, nor drank, nor played billiards; he loved
home and--me; so he wandered up stairs and down, sat with his hands in
his pockets staring at the parlor fire till he could bear it no longer,
and then came up stairs to get comforted. If you’ll believe it, that
woman came fussing round the bed after him, just as if he were
infringing some of her rights and immunities.

  What if he did bring me a sly piece of cake in his pocket? Who likes
to live on gruel forever? What if he did open the blinds and let a
little blessed sunlight in, when she tried to humbug us into the belief
that “it would hurt the baby’s eyes,” because she was too lazy to wipe
the dust from the furniture? What if he did steal one of her knitting
needles, when she sat there, evening after evening, knitting round, and
round, and round that interminable old gray stocking, my eyes following
her with a horrid sort of fascination, till my nerves were wound up to
the screaming point? What if I did tell him that she always set her
rocking-chair on that loose board on the floor, which sent forth that
little crucifying squeak, and that she always said “Bless me!” and was
always sure to get on to it again the very next time she sat down? What
if I did tell him that when she had eaten too much dinner, and wanted to
take a sly nap, she would muffle the baby up in so many blankets that it
could not cry if it wanted to, and then would draw the curtains closely
round my bed, and tell me that “it was high time I took a nap?” I, who
neither by stratagem or persuasion, could ever be induced to sleep in
the daytime? I, who felt as if my eye-lashes were fastened up to the
roots of my hair, and as if legions of little ants were crawling all
over me?

  What if I did tell him that she got up a skirmish with me every night,
because I would not wear a nuisance called a night-cap? What if I did
tell him that she insisted upon putting a sticky pitch-plaster upon my
neck, for a little ghost of a cough (occasioned by her stirring the
ashes in the grate too furiously), and that when I outgeneraled her, and
clapped it round the bed-post instead, she muttered, spitefully, that “a
handsome neck would not keep me out of my coffin?” What if I did tell
him that she tried on my nice little lace collars, when she thought I
was asleep at night, and insisted on my drinking detestable porter, that
its second-hand influence might “make the baby sleep?” What if I did,
was he not my husband? Did I not tell him every thing? laugh with him?
cry with him? eat out of _his_ plate? drink out of _his_ cup of tea,
because being his, I fancied they tasted better than mine? and didn’t
_he like it, too?_ Of course he did!

  What if I did tell him all this? Poor Charley! _he_ was forlorn, too;
his cravats were tied like a fright all the time I was sick, his hair
looked like any other man’s, the buttons were off his pretty velvet
vest, and he had not even the heart to get his boots blacked. Poor

  Well; that nurse had the impudence to tell us one evening “that we
acted like two children.” “_Children!_” _We!_ _Us!_ the parents of that
eight-pound baby! That was the last drop in our cup. Charley paid her,
and I was so glad when she went, that I laughed till I cried.

  Then we both drew a long breath and sat down and looked at the new
baby--_our_ baby; and Charley asked me about its little sleeping habits,
and I told him, with a shake of the head, that I could not speak
definitely on that point; and then we discussed, in a whisper, the
respective merits of cribs and cradles, and the propriety of teaching
it, at an early period, that impressive line of Mrs. Hemans:

     “Night is the time for sleep;”

and then Charley got up, and exchanged his musical boots for a noiseless
pair of slippers, and changed the position of the shovel, tongs, and
poker, and oiled the creaking hinge of the closet door, and laid a chair
over the squeaking board in the floor, that he might not tread on it,
and with one eye on the baby, gently shaded the lamp; and then he looked
at me, and gave a little sort of congratulatory nod, and then he drew
off his vest and hung it over a chair, and then--out rattled a perfect
tempest of half dollars, quarters, shillings, and sixpences, on the
hearth! Of course, the baby woke (frightened out of a year’s growth),
and screamed until it was black in the face. In vain its poor,
inexperienced papa kissed it, scratching its little velvet face with his
rough whiskers the while! In vain we both walked the floor with it. The
fire went out, the lamp went; and just at daybreak it came to us like a
revelation, the sarcastic tone of that hateful old nurse, as she said,
“Good-by; I hope you’ll get along _comfortably_ with the dear baby!”

  And so we did. Do you suppose one night’s watching was going to quench
our love, either for the baby, or for each other? No--nor a thousand
like it! for, as Dr. Watts, or Saxe, hath it, “it was one of the kind
that was not born to die.”


  Man may turn his back upon Revelation, and feed upon the dry husks of
infidelity, if he will; but sure I am, that _woman_ can not do without
her Saviour. In her happiest estate, she has sorrows that can only be
intrusted to an Almighty ear; responsibilities that no human aid can
give her strength to meet. But what if earthly love be poisoned at the
fountain?--what if her feeble shoulders bend unsupported under the
weight of her daily cross?--what if her life-sky be black with gathering
gloom?--what if her foes be they of her own household?--what if
treachery sit down at her hearth-stone, and calumny await her without,
with extended finger? What then--if no Saviour’s arms be outstretched
to enfold her? What if it be “absurd” (as some tell her) that the God
who governs the universe should stoop to interest himself in her petty
concerns? What if the Bible to which she flies be “a dead letter?” and
“Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy laden”--only “a metaphor?”
What earthly accents can fall upon her ear as sweet as these--“A bruised
reed will I not break?” Woman may be “weak;” but blessed be the weakness
which leads her to lean on that Almighty arm, which man in his pride
rejects; listening rather in his extremity, to the demon whisper--“Curse
God and die.”

  Woman may be “weak;” you may confuse her with your sophistries, deafen
her with your arguments, and standing before her in your false strength,
exclaim like the unbelievers of old--“Away with him!” and still her
yearning soul cries out, with a voice no subtlety of yours can satisfy
or stifle--“_My_ Lord and _my_ God!”


  My heart aches at the letters I am daily receiving from persons who
wish to support themselves by their pens; many of these letters,
mis-spelt and ungrammatical, show their writers to be totally unfit for
the vocation they have chosen; and yet, alas! their necessities are for
that reason none the less pressing. Others, unexceptionable in these
respects, see no preliminary steps to be taken between avowing this
their determination, and at once securing the remuneration accorded to
long-practiced writers, who, by patient toil and waiting, have secured a
remunerative name. They see a short article in print, by some writer; it
reads easy--they doubt not it was written easily; this may or may not be
the case; if so--what enabled the writer to produce it in so short a
space of time? Long habit of patient, trained thinking, which the
beginner has yet to acquire.

  You are taken sick; you send for a physician; he comes in, stays ten
minutes, prescribes for you a healing medicine, and charges you three or
four dollars. You call this “extortionate”--forgetting the medical books
he must have waded through, the revolting dissections he must have
witnessed and participated in, and the medical lectures he must have
digested, to have enabled him to pronounce on your case so summarily and
satisfactorily. To return to our subject. These practiced writers have
gone through (as you must do), the purgatorial furnace which separates
the literary dross from the pure ore. That all who do this should come
out fine gold, is impossible; but I maintain, that if there is any thing
in a literary aspirant, this process will develop it, spite of
discouragement--spite of depression--nay, on that very account.

  Now what I would say is this. Let none enter this field of labor,
least of all shrinking, destitute women, unless they are prepared for
this long, tedious ordeal, and have also the self-sustaining conviction
that they have a God-given talent. The reading community is not what it
once was. The world is teeming with books--good, bad, and indifferent.
Publishers have a wide field from which to cull. There is a great feast
to sit down to; and the cloyed and fastidious taste demands dishes
daintily and skillfully prepared. How shall an unpracticed aspirant,
whose lips perhaps have not been touched with the live coal from the
altar, successfully contend with these? How shall the halt and maimed
win in such a race?

  Every editor’s drawer is crammed--every newspaper office besieged--by
hundreds doomed to disappointment; not two thirds of the present surfeit
of writers, born of the success of a few, obtain even a hearing. Editors
have any quantity of MSS. on hand, which they know will answer their
purpose; and they have, they say, when I have applied to them for those
who have written me to do so, neither time nor inclination to paragraph,
punctuate, revise and correct the inevitable mistakes of beginners, even
though there may possibly be some grains of wheat for the seeking.

  To women, therefore, who are destitute, and rely upon their pen for a
support, I would say, again, Do any thing that is honest that your hands
find to do, but make not authorship, at least, your _sole_ dependence
in the present state of things.

  Now, having performed this ungrateful task, and mapped out faithfully
the shoals and quicksands, if there are among you those whose mental and
physical muscle will stand the strain with this army of
competitors--and, above all, who have the “barrel of meal and cruse of
oil” to fall back upon--I wish you God speed! and none will be happier
than she, who has herself borne the burden and heat of the day, to see
you crowned victor.


  Take a journey at this elevation of the thermometer! Not I. Think of
the breakfastless start before daybreak--think of a twelve hours’ ride
on the sunny side of the cars, in the neighborhood of some persistent
talker, rattling untranslatable jargon into your aching ears; think of a
hurried repast, in some barbarous half-way house; amid a heterogeneous
assortment of men, women, and children, beef, pork, and mutton; minus
forks, minus spoons, minus castor, minus come-atable waiters, and four
shillings and indigestion to pay. Think of a “collision”--disemboweled
trunks, and a wooden leg; think of an arrival at a crowded hotel;
jammed, jaded, dusty, and dolorous; think of your closetless sentry-box
of a room, infested by mosquitoes and Red Rovers; bed too narrow,
window too small, candle too short, all the world and his wife a-bed,
and the geography of the house an unexplained riddle. Think of your
unrefreshing, vapor-bath sleep; think of the next morning, as seated on
a dusty trunk, with your hair drooping about your ears, through which
the whistle of the cars, and the jiggle-joggle of the brakeman, are
still resounding; you try to remember, with your hand on your bewildered
forehead, whether your breakfast robe is in the yellow trunk, or the
black trunk, and if in either, whether it is at the top, bottom, or in
the middle of the same, where your muslins and laces were deposited,
what on earth you did with your dressing comb, and where amid your
luggage, your toilet slippers may be possibly located. Think of a
summons to breakfast at this interesting moment, the sun meanwhile
streaming in through the blind chinks, with volcanic power. Think of all
that, I say.

  Now if I could travel _incog._ in masculine attire, no dresses to look
after, no muslins to rumple, no bonnet to soil, no tresses to keep
smooth, with only a hat and things, a neck-tie or two, a change of--of
shirts--nothing but a moustache to twist into a horn when the dinner
bell rings; just a dip into a wash-basin, a clean dicky, a jump into a
pair of--trowsers, and above all, liberty to go where I liked, without
being stared at or questioned; a seat in a chair on its hind-legs, on a
breezy door-step, a seat on the stairs in a wide hall, “taking notes;” a
peep everywhere I chose, by lordly right of my pantaloons; nobody
nudging somebody, to inquire why Miss Spinks the authoress wore her hair
in curls instead of plaits; or making the astounding discovery that it
was hips, not hoops, that made her dress stand out--that now, would be
worth talking about: I’ll do it.

  But stop--I should have to cut my hair short--I should have to shave
every morning, or at any rate call for hot water and go through the
motions; men would jostle rudely past me, just as if they never had said
such pretty things to me in flounces; I should be obliged, just as I had
secured a nice seat in the cars, to get up, and give it to some
imperious woman, who would not even say “thank you;” I should have to
look on with hungry eyes till “the ladies” were all served at table; I
should have to pick up their fans, and reticules, and handkerchiefs
whenever they chose to drop them; I should have to give up the
rocking-chairs, arm-chairs, and sofas for their use, and be called “a
brute” at that; I should have to rush out of the cars, with five
minutes’ grace, at some stopping place, to get a glass of milk, for some
“crying baby,” with a contracted swallowing apparatus, and be pursued
for life by the curses of its owner, because the whistle sounded while
his two shilling tumbler was yet in the voracious baby’s tight grip.
No--no--I’ll stay a woman, and what’s more, I’ll stay at home.


  In most of the New York shop windows, one reads: “Here we speak
French;” “Here we speak Spanish;” “Here we speak German;” “Here we speak
Italian.” I suggest an improvement--“Here we speak the _Truth_.”


  “I was an old fool! Yes--I was an old fool; that’s all there is about
it. I ought to have known better; _she_ was not to blame, poor thing;
she is but a child yet; and these baubles pleased her ambitious mother’s
eye. It was not the old man, but his _money_--his _money_--I might have
known it. May and December--May and December--pshaw! how could I ever
have believed, that Mary Terry could _love_ an old fellow like me?” and
Mark Ware surveyed himself in the large parlor mirror.

  “See!--it reflects a portly old man of sixty, with ruddy face,
snow-white hair, and eyes from which the light of youth has long since
departed.” And yet there is fire in the old man’s veins too; see how he
strides across the carpet, ejaculating, with fresh emphasis, “Yes, I was
an old fool!--an old fool! But I will be kind to her; I’m not the man to
tyrannize over a young girl, because her mother took her out of the
nursery to make her my wife. I see now it is not in reason for a young
girl like her to stay contentedly at home with my frosty head and gouty
feet. Poor little Mary! No--I’ll not punish her because she can not love
me; she shall have what she wants, and go where she likes; her mother is
only too proud to trot her out, as the wife of the rich Mark Ware. If
that will make them both happy, let them do it; may be”--and Mark Ware
paused--“may be, after she has seen what that Dead Sea apple--the
world--is made of, she will come back and love the old man a little--may
be--who knows? No woman who is believed in, and well treated, ever makes
a bad wife; there never was a bad wife yet, but there was a bad husband
_first_; that’s gospel--Mark’s gospel, anyhow, and Mark Ware is going to
act upon it. Mary shall go to the ball to-night, with her mother, and I
will stay at home and nurse my patience and my gouty leg. There’s no
evil in her; she’s as pure as a lily, and if she wants to see the world,
why--she shall see it; and though I can’t go dancing round with her, I
never will dim her bright eyes--no--no!”

       *       *       *       *       *

  “That will do, Tiffy; another pin in this lace; now move that rose in
my hair a little to the left; so--that will do.”

  “That will _do_!” Tame praise, for that small Grecian head, with its
crown of braided tresses; for the full, round throat, and snowy,
sloping shoulders; for the round, ivory arms, and tapering, rose-tipped
fingers; for the lovely bosom, and dainty waist. Well might such beauty
dazzle Mark Ware’s eyes, till he failed to discern the distance betwixt
May and December.

  Mark Ware had rightly read Mary. She was guileless and pure, as he had
said; and child as she was, there was that in her manner, before which
the most libidinous eye would have shrunk abashed.

  When the young bride first realized the import of those words she had
been made to utter, “till death do us part,” she looked forward, with
shuddering horror, at the long, monotonous, weary years before her. Her
home seemed a prison, and Mark Ware the keeper; its very splendor
oppressed her; and she chafed and fretted in her gilded fetters, while
her restless heart cried out--anywhere but home! Must she sit there, in
her prison-house, day after day, listening only to the repinings of her
own troubled heart? Must the bee and the butterfly only be free to revel
in the bright sunshine? Had God made her beauty to fade in the stifling
atmosphere of darkened parlors, listening to the complaints of querulous
old age? Every pulse of her heart rebelled. How could her mother have
thus sold her? How could Mark Ware have so unmagnanimously accepted the
compulsory sacrifice? Why not have shown her the world and let her
choose for herself? O anywhere--anywhere--from such a home!

  There was no lack of invitations abroad; for Mary had flashed across
the fashionable horizon, like some bright comet; eclipsing all the
reigning beauties. No ball, no party, no dinner, was thought a success
without her. Night after night found her _en route_ to some gay
assemblage. To her own astonishment and her foolish mother’s delight,
her husband never remonstrated; on the contrary, she often found upon
her dressing-table, some choice little ornament, which he had provided
for the occasion; and Mary, as she fastened it in her hair, or bosom,
would say, bitterly, “He is anxious that I, like the other appendages of
his establishment, should reflect credit on his faultless taste.”

  Mistaken Mary!

  Time passed on. Mark Ware _was_ “patient,” as he promised himself to
be. His evenings were not so lonely now, for his little babe kept him
company; the reprieved nurse, only too glad to escape to her pink
ribbons and a “chat with John at the back gate.” It was a pretty
sight--Mark and the babe! Old age and infancy are always a touching
sight together. Not a smile or a cloud passed over that little face,
that did not wake up all the father in Mark Ware’s heart; and he paced
the room with it, or rocked it to sleep on his breast, talking to it, as
if it could understand the strong, deep love, of which it was the
unconscious object.

       *       *       *       *       *

  “I am weary of all this,” said Mark’s young wife, as she stepped into
her carriage, at the close of a brilliant ball. “I am weary of seeing
the same faces, and hearing the same stupid nonsense, night after night.
I wonder shall I _ever_ be happy? I wonder shall I ever _love_ any
thing, or anybody? Mamma is proud of me, because I am beautiful and
rich, but she does not _love_ me. Mark is proud of me”--and Mary’s
pretty lip curled scornfully. “Life is so weary, and I am only
eighteen!” and Mary sighed heavily.

  On whirled the carriage through the deserted streets; deserted--save
by some inveterate pleasure-seeker like herself, from whom pleasure
forever flees. Occasionally a lamp twinkled from some upper window,
where a half-starved seamstress sat stitching her life away, or a
heart-broken mother bent over the dead form of a babe, which her
mother’s heart could ill spare, although she knew not where to find
bread for the remaining babes who wept beside her. Now and then, a
woman, lost to all that makes woman lovely, flaunted under the
flickering street-lamps, while her mocking laugh rang out on the night
air. Mary shuddered, and drew back--there was that in its hollowness
which might make even devils tremble. Overhead the sentinel stars kept
their tireless watch, and Mary’s heart grew soft under their gentle
influence, and tears stole from beneath her lashes, and lay like pearls
upon her bosom.

  “You need not wait to undress me,” said Mary to the weary-looking
waiting-maid, as she averted her swollen eyes from her gaze--and taking
the lamp from her hand, Mary passed up to her chamber. So noiseless was
the fall of her light foot upon the carpet, that Mark did not know she
had entered. He sat with his back to the door, bending over the cradle
of his child, till his snow-white locks rested on its rosy cheeks;
talking to it, as was his wont, to beguile his loneliness.

  “Mary’s forehead--Mary’s eyes--Mary’s mouth--no more like your old
father than a rosebud is like a chestnut-burr. _You_ will love the
lonely old man, little one, and perhaps _she_ will, by-and-by; who
knows?” and Mark’s voice trembled.

  “She will--she does”--said Mary, dropping on her knees at the cradle
of her child, and burying her face in Mark’s hands; “my noble, patient

  “You don’t mean that?” said Mark, holding her off at arm’s-length, and
looking at her through a mist of tears; “you don’t mean that you will
love an old fellow like me? God bless you, Mary--God forever bless you!
I have been very--very lonely,”--and Mark wept for sheer happiness.

       *       *       *       *       *

  The gaping world, the far-sighted world, the charitable world, shook
its wise head, when the star of fashion became a fixed star. Some said
“her health must be failing;” others, that “her husband had become
jealous at last;” while old stagers maliciously insinuated that it were
wise to retire on _fresh_ laurels. But none said--what _I_ say--that a
true woman’s heart may always be won--ay, and kept, too--by any husband
who does not consider it beneath him to step off the pedestal of his
“_dignity_” to learn how.


  “Morning paper, John?”

  “Didn’t come this morning, mem; I inquired at the office as I came up
with the breakfast, mem; none there, mem.”

  How provoking! What is breakfast without the morning paper? Coffee and
eggs are well enough, but they don’t tell a body whether the Pacific has
arrived, or Greeley’s head is safe on his non-resistant shoulders (I
wish that man _could_ fight); or whether breadstuffs have “riz,” as
every housekeeper knows they ought to; or whether Olmsted’s new book is
selling as it deserves (were it only for that racy little morceau about
his ride with Jenny, the mare); or whether the “Onguent warranted to
raise a moustache and whiskers in six weeks” is still on the sprout; or
whether Griswold is proven a saint or a sinner; or whether the amiable
young man, who advertised the other day for “board in a family where
there are no babies,” has found his desert-s; or whether the
philanthropic firm of M‘Mush & Co. are still persisting in that
“ruinous sacrifice,” for the benefit of a credulous public in general,
and themselves in particular; or whether Barnum’s head is _really_ under
water, or whether he has only made a dive to grab some new mermaid; or
whether the Regular Male Line viâ (nobody knows where), is an heir line;
or whether there are any lectures to be delivered to-night worth
foregoing a cosy fireside, and freezing the tip of one’s nose to hear.
How am I going to find out all this, I should like to know, without the
morning paper? (Long life to the inventor of it!)

  Oh! here comes Mr. Pax with one--good soul--he has been out in his
slippers, and bought one. Now I shall find out all about every thing,
and--who did what. See what a thing it is to have a husband! No, I
shan’t either: may I be kissed if Pax has not sat down to read that
paper himself, instead of giving it to me. Now I like that; I dare say
he thinks because he is connected with the Press that he should have the
first reading of it. Am not I connected with the Press I’d like to know?
I guess you’d have thought so, had you seen me squeezing into the Opera
House the other night to hear Everett’s lecture.

  Perhaps he is going to read it aloud to me--I’ll sip my coffee and
wait a bit. Good Pax! how I have maligned him; what an impatient wretch
I am. I think impatience is a fault of mine. I wonder is it a fault? I
wonder if I can help it, if it is? I wonder if people weren’t made that
way the year I was born? Yes; Pax must be going to read me the paper;
that’s it. Good Pax--how well he looks in that Turkish breakfast-jacket;
he has really a nice profile and pretty hand. I can’t say that he has a
very saintly under lip, but I have known more saintly _looking_ ones do
naughtier things! Yes; I’ll sip my coffee--he is undoubtedly going to
read the paper to me; no, he isn’t either; he means to devour the whole
of it solus. I won’t stand it--hem--no reply--hem--none so deaf as those
who won’t hear.


  “Well, dear” (without raising his eyes).

  “Pax! what is there interesting in that paper?”

(Pax still reading intently.) “Nothing, my dear, absolutely nothing.”

  Humph! wonder if it takes a man a whole hour to read “nothing?”

  Now, do you suppose I whined about that? cried till my eyes looked as
though they were bound with pink tape? Not I. I just sat down and wrote
an article about it for the “WEEKLY MONOPOLIZER,” and when it is
published, as published it will be, I shall be disinterested enough to
hand Pax my paper to read first! Then--when he reads the article, and
looking up reproachfully, says: “Mrs. Pax!” it will be _my_ turn not to
hear, you know; and when he gets up, and laying his connubial paw on my
shoulder, says: “Mrs. Pax, do you know any thing about this article in
the Weekly Monopolizer?” I shall reply, with lamb-like innocence:
“Nothing, my dear, absolutely nothing!”

  Won’t that floor him?


  Had I twenty daughters, which I regret to say I have not, not one of
them should ever enter a “Boarding-school.” I beg pardon; I should say
“Institute;” schools are exploded; every two-year-older learns his A B C
now at an “Institute,” though that institute, when hunted down, may
consist of a ten-feet-square basement room. But this is a digression.

  To every mother who is contemplating sending her daughter to a
boarding-school I would say: Let neither your indolence, nor the
omnipotent voice of fashion, nor high-sounding circulars, induce you to
remove her from under your own personal care and supervision, at a time
when the physique of this future wife and mother requires a lynx-eyed
watchfulness on your part, which no institute ever has--ever will
supply. This is a point which I am astonished that parents seem so
utterly to overlook. Every mother knows how fatal wet feet, or
insufficient clothing, may be to a young girl at the critical age at
which they are generally sent away to school. It is not enough that you
place India-rubbers, thick-soled shoes, and flannels in the trunk which
bears the little exile company; they will not insure her from disease
_there_. It is not enough that you say to her, “My dear, be careful of
your choice of companions,” when she _has_ no choice; when her
bed-fellows and room-mates--the latter often three or four in
number--are what chance and the railroads send; for what teacher, with
the best intentions, ever gives this subject the attention which it
deserves, or which a mother’s anxious heart asks? That the distant home
of her daughter’s room-mates is located within the charmed limits of
fashion; that a carriage with liveried servants (that disgusting libel
on republicanism), stands daily before their door; that the dresses of
these room-mates are made in the latest style, and their wrists and ears
decked with gold and precious stones--is an affirmative answer to these
questions to satisfy a true mother?

  No--and it is not the blushing country maiden, with her simple
wardrobe, and simpler manners, whom that mother has to fear for her
child’s companion or bed-fellow. It is the over-dressed, vain, vapid,
brainless offshoot of upstart aristocracy, who would ridicule the simple
gingham in which that country girl’s mother studied geography, and which
fabric she very properly considers quite good enough for her child, and
which is much more appropriate in the school-room than silk or satin. It
is this child of the upstart rich mother, whose priceless infancy and
childhood have been spent with illiterate servants; with the exception
of the hour after dessert, when she was reminded that she had a mother,
by being taken in an embroidered robe to be exhibited for a brief space
to her guests. It is this girl, whose childhood, as I said, has been
passed with servants, peeping into the doubtful books with which
doubtful servants often beguile the tedious hours (for there are bad
servants as well as bad masters and mistresses)--this girl, lying awake
in her little bed, hearing unguarded details of servants’ amours, while
her mother dances away the hours so pregnant with fate to that listening
child. It is such a girl, more to be pitied than blamed, whose existence
is to be recognized by her thoughtless mother only, when her “coming
out,” delayed till the latest possible period, forces her reluctantly to
yield to a younger aspirant her own claims to admiration. This girl
whose wealth, and the social position arising from it, so dazzles the
eyes of proprietors of “Institutes” that they are incapable of
perceiving, or unwilling to admit, her great moral and mental
delinquencies; it is _such_ a companion that a true mother has to fear
for her pure-minded, simple-hearted young daughter, leaving for the
first time the guarded threshold and healthful atmosphere of home.

  And when after months have passed--and insufficient exercise,[A]
imperfect ventilation, and improper companionship, have transformed her
rosy, healthy, simple-hearted child, to a pale, languid, _spineless_,
dressy young woman, with a smattering of fashionable accomplishments,
and an incurable distaste of simple, home pleasures--will it restore the
bloom to her cheek, the spring to her step, the fresh innocence to her
heart, to say, “but the school was fashionable and _so_ well

[A] Is a formal, listless walk, in a half-mile procession, to answer the
purpose of _exercise_ for young, growing girls confined at least ten
hours a day over their lessons, and crowded at night into insufficient
sleeping-rooms?--from which the highest prices paid for tuition, so far
as my observation extends, furnish no immunity.



  Shall I ever be unhappy again? Six big closets with shelves and
drawers! What a Godsend! You laugh! you are unable to comprehend how
such joyful emotions can spring from so trivial a cause.

  Trivial! Did you ever board out? Did you ever stand in the midst of
your gas-lighted, damask-curtained, velvet-chaired, _closetless_ hotel
(yes--_hotel_) apartments, with a six-cent ink-bottle between your
perplexed thumb and finger, taxing your brain, as it was never taxed
before, to discover an oasis where to deposit it, when not in use?

  Trivial? Did you ever live for a series of years with your head in a
trunk? Did you ever see your ghost-like habiliments dangling day after
day from pegs in the wall? Did you ever turn away your disgusted eyes,
as the remorseless chambermaid whirled clouds of dust over their
unprotected fabrics? Did you ever, as you lay in bed of a morning,
exhaust your ingenuity in devising some means of relief? Did you ever,
exulting in your superior acumen, rush out, and purchase at your own
expense, a curtain to cover them? Did you ever jam off all your finger
nails trying to drive it up? (for what woman ever yet hit a nail on the
head?) Did you ever have that dusty curtain drop down on your
nicely-smoothed hair, nine times out of ten when you went to it for a
dress? Did you ever set fire to it with a candle, when in an abstracted
state of mind?

  Trivial? Did you ever implore a white-aproned waiter, with tears in
your eyes, and twenty-five cents in your hand, to bring you an empty
cigar-box to keep your truant slippers in? Did you ever stifle with
closed windows, because if you threw them up, you would throw out your
books, which were piled on the window lodge? Were you ever startled in
the middle of the night, by the giving way of a solitary nail, on which
were hung a bag of buttons, a bag of hooks and eyes, a child’s satchel,
a child’s slate, a basket of oyster crackers, a bag of chess-men,
and--your hoops?

  Trivial? Did you ever partially carry out the curse which was passed
on Eden’s tempter, the serpent, as, with a long-handled umbrella, you
explored, for some missing shoe, the unknown regions under the bed? Did
you ever sit on your best bonnet? Did you ever step into your husband’s
hat? Did you ever tear a zig-zag rent in your favorite dress, and find,
on looking for pieces of the same to mend it, that you had given them
away to your washwoman, with other uncounted needfuls, because you had
no place to keep them? Did you ever stand in dismay over your furs and
woolens in spring, and your muslins, grenadines, and bareges, in autumn?

  Trivial? Ah!--you never witnessed the cold-blooded indifference with
which hotel-keepers, and landlords generally, shrug their shoulders, as
surveying your rooms, and taking a _coup d’œil_ of your feminine
effects, you pathetically exclaim, with dropped hands and
intonation--“No closets!”


  It is said that writers of books seldom read many. The “Confidential
Letters of Napoleon and Josephine” had not been published when that
remark was made. The Napoleon-mad author, Mr. Abbot, says, in his
Preface: “We are familiar with him as the warrior, the statesman, the
great administrator--but here we behold him as the husband, the father,
the brother, moving freely amid all the tender relations of domestic
life. His _heart_ is here revealed,” etc. I suggest to Mr. Abbot (for
whom, apart from this extraordinary hallucination, I have a great
respect), the following amendment of the above sentence, viz.: his _want
of heart_ is here revealed; but let that pass.

  I have devoured the book at a sitting, and it has given me, as do
stimulants generally, mental or otherwise, a villainous headache. With
the sad fate of the peerless Josephine fresh in my mind, I read with an
impatient pshaw! the burning billet-doux, addressed to her by the man
who could coolly thrust her aside for his mad ambition. Hear what he
once said:

  “Death alone can break the union, which love, sentiment, and sympathy
have formed. A thousand and a thousand kisses.”


  “I hope very soon to be in your arms; I love you most passionately (_à
la fureur_).”


  “I hope in a little time to fold you in my arms, and cover you with
kisses burning as the equator.”

  Also, this consistent lover begs from her whom he afterward deserted,

  “Love without bounds, and _fidelity without limit_.”

  How very like a man!

  Well, I turned over the pages, and read with moistened eyes, for the
hundredth time, the wretched state farce enacted at the divorce; and
with fresh admiration perused the magnanimous and memorable reply of the
queenly Josephine, to the brilliant but cold, intellectual but selfish,
imperious yet fascinating Napoleon. Ah! then I would have led away his
victim, spite of herself, out of sight, sound, and hearing of this cold,
cruel man, who, when it suited his whim, caprice, or convenience; who,
when weary of the tame, spiritless Maria Louise, returned secretly to
the intoxicating presence of the bewitching Josephine; whom, though
repudiating, he yet controlled, down to the lowest menial in her
household, down to the color of their jackets and hose; quite safe, in
always appending, with gracious condescension, permission “to please
herself,” to one whose greatest pleasure, he well knew, was to kiss his
imperial shoe-tie.

  My love and pity for her merge (momentarily) into contempt, when she
abjectly begs for the crumbs of his favor, that fall from happier
favorites; for (to quote the touching words of her who would have shared
his exile had not death prevented, when the woman for whom she had been
cast aside, by a retributive justice, deserted him in his extremity) “he
could forget me _when he was happy_!” Ay, it was when pleasure palled,
when friends proved false, when the star of his destiny paled, when he
_needed_ the noble Josephine, that he sought her.

  And _she_? When pealing bells and roaring cannon announced to France
that her rival had presented her husband the long-desired heir; _she_,
upon whose quivering heart every stroke of those joyous bells must have
smitten like a death-knell; _she_, the deserted wife, hung festal
wreaths over the grave of her hopes, gave jewels to the messenger who
brought her the news of _his_ happiness, and ordered a _fête_ in honor
of the young heir. Match me that, who can, in the wide annals of _man’s_
history? But, oh! when midnight came on, and garlands drooped, and
bright eyes closed, and tripping feet were stilled, when the farce was
played out, and the iron hand of court etiquette was lifted from off
that loving, throbbing, bursting heart, it thus poured itself out to

  “She (Maria Louise), can not be more tenderly devoted to you than I;
but she has been enabled to contribute more to your happiness, by
securing that of France. She has then a right to your first feelings, to
all your cares; and I, who was but your companion in times of
difficulty, I can not ask more than a place in your affections far
removed from that occupied by the Empress Louise. _Not till you shall
have ceased to watch by her bed, not till you are weary of embracing
your son, will you take the pen to converse with your best friend. I
will wait._”

  The answer to the touching letter, from which this is an extract (and
every _woman_ with a heart, who reads it, can measure the height and
depth of its anguish), was the following _verbal_, the following
_delicate_ message, through Eugene!

  “Tell your mother I would have written to her already, _had I not been
completely absorbed in the pleasure of looking upon my son_.”

  About eleven o’clock that evening she received the much-coveted line
from his own hand; in which he seemed to have been able at last to
remember somebody beside himself; and for which the all-enduring,
all-forgiving Josephine adores as a god, “the man who, _when he willed_,
could be the most delightful of men.” Nobody will deny the matchless
tact of the lines which dried poor Josephine’s tears:

  “This infant, _in concert with our Eugene_, will constitute my
happiness, and that of France.”

  But the man “who could be so delightful when he willed,” did not, any
more than the rest of his sex, always will it. Motes and butterflies
seek the sunbeams, and the friends of poor Josephine’s happier days,
forsook her for those whom Fortune smiled upon. Malice, always on tiptoe
to whisper into the tortured ear, told her of the “happiness” of the
inconstant Napoleon; and with the birds, flowers, and fountains of
Malmaison mocking her tears, her crushed heart thus sobs itself out to
the emperor:

  “I limit myself in asking one favor; it is, that you, yourself, will
seek means, _sometimes to convince me, and those who surround
me_”--(mark how strong and deathless must be the love that could thus
abjectly sue)--“that I have still a place in your memory, and a large
share of your esteem and friendship. These means, whatever they may be,
will soothe my anguish, without the danger, as it seems to me, of
compromising that _which is more important than all together, the
happiness of your majesty_.”

  Well, what was the answer of “his majesty” to the tortured Josephine,
in whose heart, his majesty boasted that “he held the first place, and
her children by a former husband next, and that she did right thus to
love him!” What was his majesty’s answer to her, whom he wished to
“cover with kisses burning as the equator,” “whom he would wish to
imprison in his heart, lest she should escape;” “the beautiful, the good
one, all unequaled, all divine,” to whom he had “sent thousands of
kisses, burning as his heart, pure as her own,” whom “he loved _à la
fureur_?” What was his majesty’s answer to the weary, weeping, faithful
watcher at Malmaison?

  “I have received your letter of the 19th of April; it _is in a very
bad style_.”

  Could any thing be more coolly diabolical? O, foolish Josephine! with
all your tact and wisdom, not to have found out that man (with rare
exceptions) is unmagnanimous; that to pet and fondle him is to forge
your own chains; that the love which is sure is to him worthless; that
variety is as necessary to his existence, as a looking-glass and a
cigar; and that his vows are made, like women’s hearts, to break.

  And yet, how surely, even in this world, retribution follows. The
dreary rock of St. Helena; the dilapidated, vermin-infested lodgings;
the petty, grinding, un-let-up-able tyranny of the lynx-eyed foe; the
unalloyed, unassuaged anguish of hydra-headed disease; the merciless
separation from the child, who had dug poor Josephine’s premature grave;
the heaped up, viper, newspaper obloquy which had always free pass to
Longwood, when bristling bayonets kept at bay the voices which the ear
of its captive ached to hear; the dreary, comfortless death-bed; the
last faltering request denied; as if malice still hungered for vengeance
when the weary heart it would torture had lost all power to feel.
Josephine! Josephine! thou wert indeed avenged!


  I would that I had time to answer the many kind letters I receive from
my unknown friends, or power, as they seem to imagine, to reform the
abuses to which they call my attention. The subject of licentiousness,
upon which I have just received a letter, is one upon which I have
thought much and often since my residence in New York. I could not, if I
would, ignore it, when at every step its victims rustle past me in the
gay livery of shame, or stretch out to me, from beneath tattered
garments, the hand, prematurely old, which should, alas! wear the golden
pledge of honorable love. But they tell me this is a subject a woman can
not understand, and should not write about. Perhaps so; but woman can
understand it when, like a blighting mildew, it strips bud, blossom, and
verdure, from her household olive-plants; woman can understand it when
she weeps in secret over the wrong which she may not whisper even to
herself; woman can understand it when the children of the man whom she
thought worthy of her maidenly love and honor, sink into early graves,
under the inherited taint of his “youthful follies.”

  And yet they are right; virtuous woman does _not_ understand it; would
that she did--would that she sometimes paused to think of her share of
blame in this matter; would that she know how much her ready smile, and
_indiscriminate hand of welcome_ has to do in perpetuating it; how often
it blunts the sting of conscience, and confirms the immoral man in that
detestable club-house creed, that woman’s virtue depends upon
opportunity. Would that mothers would sometimes ask, not--is he a
gentleman, or is he accomplished? but, is he moral? is he pure? Pure!
Young New York holds its sides in derision at the word. Pure! is he in
leading strings? Pure! it is a contemptible reflection on his manhood
and free will. Pure! it is a word for old women and priests.

  I once expressed my astonishment to a lady, that she should permit the
calls of a gentleman whom she knew to be licentious. “That is none of my
business, you know, my dear,” she replied, “so long as he behaves
himself properly in my presence;” and this answer, I am afraid, would be
endorsed by too many of my readers. As well might she have said, that it
was none of her business that her neighbor’s house was in flames, or
that they had the yellow fever or the plague. That a man sings well,
dresses well, or talks well, is, I am sorry to say, too often sufficient
to outweigh his moral delinquency. This is poor encouragement to young
men who, not having yet learned to think lightly of the sex to which
their mothers and sisters belong, are old-fashioned enough to wish to
lead virtuous lives; and some of whom, notwithstanding, have the courage
and manhood in these degenerate days to _dare_ to do it.

  As to a reform in this matter, I think virtuous women must begin it,
by turning the cold shoulder to every man of their acquaintance whom
they know to be immoral, and I think a woman of penetration will not be
at fault, if she takes pains to sift a man’s sentiments in conversation.

  Perhaps you will tell me (though I hope it is not so), that this would
exclude two thirds of every lady’s gentlemen acquaintance. Be it so;
better for those ladies, better for their daughters, if they have any,
better for the cause of virtue; at least, it would not take long, at
that rate, to thin the ranks of vice.

  I wonder does man never think, in his better moments, how much nobler
it were to protect than to debase woman?--ay, protect her--if need
be--_even from herself_, and ignoring the selfish creed that she has a
right to, and is alone responsible for, her own self-disposal, withdraw
her, as with a brother’s hand, from the precipice over which misery or
inclination would plunge her, and prove to the “weaker sex” that he is
in the noblest sense the stronger. That, indeed, were God-like.


  Well--New Year’s and Christmas are both over: there is a lull equal to
that after a Presidential election. What is to be done for an excitement
now? Every body is yawning: the men on account of the number of
complimentary fibs that they foolishly felt themselves called upon to
tell the ladies, on their New Year’s calls; and the ladies, because they
were obliged to listen as if they did not know them all stereotyped, to
be repeated, _ad infinitum_, at every house on their visiting rounds;
the matron, because her handsome carpet is inch-deep in cake crumbs; and
her husband, because bills are pouring in from butchers, bakers,
grocers, milkmen, tailors, dressmakers, and jewelers, like the locusts
of Egypt. Well--we shall not say any thing against New Year’s and its
jollities, while it frees the poor hack of a clerk, and gives him one
day of happiness and rest; while it throws over the indefatigable cook’s
shoulders the cloak for which she has been vainly toiling and hoping;
while it wings the feet of so many bright-eyed children, and lights up
the prim parlor of so many hopeless old maids. We shall not say any
thing against New Year’s, when, after long months of wrong and
estrangement, it stretches out the tardy hand of repentance, for which
even the Bible bids us to wait, ere we forgive; we shall not say any
thing against New Year’s, though it reminds us that hands we used to
grasp so warmly, are crossed forever over pulseless hearts; though
memories sad, but sweet, come thronging thick and fast, of “Happy New
Years,” from lips upon which Death has set his final seal. And yet _not_
final; thank Him who giveth, and Him who taketh, _not_ final; for even
here we trace their noiseless footsteps--even here we see the flitting
of their shadowy garments--even here we smile in dreams, at the
overshadowing wings of the angels who “have charge to keep us.” No,
no--_not_ final: our love o’erleaps the dark river, to greet the sister,
amid whose orange wreath there crept the cypress vine; to clasp the
child, who quickened our heart-throbs ere we saw the lips that called us
(alas, for so brief a space), by that blessed name--“Mother.” No,
no--_not_ final;--else were this fair earth to us a satisfying
birth-right; else had the midnight stars no eyes of flame to search the
guilty conscience; else had the shimmer of the moonbeam, the ripple of
the wave, the crash of the thunder, the flash of the lightning, the
ceaseless moan of the vexed sea, no voice to waken the never-dying echo
of the immortal in our nature. No--God be praised--_not_ final!

  But we had not intended a homily. To return to the observance of New
Year’s: for our own taste, we should prefer the sugar, which custom so
lavishly heaps upon New Year’s cake, spread more sparingly upon our
slices of “daily bread;” in other words, we should prefer to distribute
the compressed courtesies of our friends on this day, equally, through
the weeks and months of the year. As to the absurd custom of excluding
the daylight, to receive one’s visitors by the glare of gas, it is a
tacit admission of artificial charms, which one would think even
“fashion” would be slow to make. The inordinate display of edibles on
such occasions, seems to us as useless as it is disgusting; a cup of
coffee, a slice of cake, or a sandwich, being, in our humble estimation,
sufficient for any gentleman who is able to distinguish between a
private house and a restaurant.


  Now I am in for it, with one of my unappeasable headaches. Don’t talk
to me of doctors; it is incurable as a love-fit; nothing on earth will
stop it; you may put that down in your memorandum-book. Now, I suppose
every body in the house to-day will put on their creakingest shoes; and
every body will go up and down stairs humming all the tunes they ever
heard, especially those I most dislike; and I suppose every thing that
is cooked in the kitchen will boil and stew over, and the odor will come
up to me; and I have _such_ a nose! And I suppose all the little boys in
the neighborhood, bless their little restless souls, will play duets on
tin-pans and tin-kettles; and I suppose every body who comes into my
room to ask me how I do, will squeak that horrid door, and _keep_
squeaking it; and I suppose that unhappy dog confined over in that
four-square-feet yard, will howl more deliriously than ever; and Mr.
Jones’s obnoxious blind will flap and bang till I am as crazy as an
omnibus-driver who has a baulky horse, and whose passengers are hopping
out behind without paying their fare; and I suppose some poor little
child will be running under the window every now and then, screaming
“Mother,” and whenever I hear that, I think somebody wants _me_; and
I’ve no doubt there will be “proof” to read to-day, and that that
pertinacious and stentorian rag-man will lumber past on his crazy old
cart, and insist on having some of my dry goods; and I feel it in my
bones that oysters and oranges, and tape, and blacking, and brooms, and
mats, and tin-ware, will settle and congregate on this side-walk, and
assert their respective claims to my notice, till the sight of an
undertaker would be a positive blessing.

  Whack! how my head snaps! Don’t tell me any living woman ever had such a
headache before--because it will fill me with disgust. What o’clock is
it? “Twelve.” Merciful man! only twelve o’clock! I thought it was five.
How am I to get through the day, I would like to know, for this headache
won’t let up till sundown; it never does. “Read to me.” What’ll you
read? “Tom Moore!” as if I were not sick enough already! Moore! with his
nightingales, and bulbuls, and jessamines; and loves and doves, and
roses and poesies--till the introduction of an uneducated wildcat, or
the tearingest kind of a hyena in his everlasting gardens, would be an
untold relief. No--I hate Moore. Beside--he is the fellow who said,
“When away from the lips that we love, we’ll make love to the lips that
are near.” No wonder he was baptized _more_--carnivorous old profligate.

  “Will I have a cup of tea?” No; of course I won’t. I’m not an old maid.
Tea! I’d like a dose of strychnine. There goes my head again--I should
think a string of fire-crackers was fastened to each hair. Now the pain
is in my left temple; now it is in my eyeballs; now--oh dear--it is
everywhere. Sit down beside me, on the bed--don’t jar it; now put your
cold hand on my forehead--so--good gracious! There’s a hand-organ! I
knew it--the very one I moved here to get rid of. Playing the same old
tune, too, composed of three notes: “tweedle--dum--tweedle--dee!”

  Now if that organ-man would pull each of my finger and toe-nails out
by the roots, one by one, I wouldn’t object, but that everlasting
“tweedle--” oh dear!--Or if a cat’s tail were to be irretrievably shut
into yonder door--or a shirt-sleeve should be suddenly and unexpectedly
thrown around an old maid’s neck in this room, any thing--every thing
but that eternal, die-away “tweedle.” What’s the use of a city
government? What is the use of any thing? What is the use of _me_?


  Most unquestionably, law or no law. Let us begin at the beginning. Let
us take into consideration the physical prostration of mind and body
endured by mothers antecedent to the birth of their offspring; their
extreme nervousness and restlessness, without the ability for
locomotion; the great nameless horror which hangs over those who, for
the first time, are called upon to endure agonies that no man living
would have fortitude to bear more than once, even at their shortest
period of duration; and which, to those who have passed through it, is
intensified by the vivid recollection (the only verse in the Bible which
I call in question being this--“She remembereth no more her pains, for
joy that a man-child is born into the world”). Granted that the mother’s
life is spared through this terrible ordeal, she rises from her
sick-bed, after weeks of prostration, with the precious burden in her
arms which she carried so long and so patiently beneath her heart. Oh,
the continuous, tireless watching necessary to preserve the life and
limbs of this fragile little thing! At a time, too, of all times, when
the mother most needs relaxation and repose. It is known only to those
who have passed through it. Its reward is with Him who seeth in secret.

  I speak now only of _good_ mothers; mothers who deserve the high and
holy name. Mothers who in their unselfish devotion look not at their
capacity to endure, but the duties allotted to them (would that husbands
and fathers did not so often leave it to the tombstone to call their
attention to the former). Mothers, whose fragile hands keep the domestic
treadmill in as unerring motion as if no new care was superadded in the
feeble wail of the new-born infant. Mothers whose work is literally
_never_ done; who sleep with one eye open, intrusting to no careless
hireling the precious little life. Mothers who can scarce secure to
themselves five minutes of the morning hours free from interruption, to
ask God’s help that a feeble, tried woman may hold evenly the scales of
domestic justice amid the conflicting elements of human needs and human
frailties. Now I ask you--shall any human law, for any conceivable
reason, wrest the child of such a mother from her frenzied clasp?

  Shall any human law give into a man’s hand, though that man be the
child’s own father, the sole right to its direction and disposal? Has
not she, who suffered, martyr-like, these crucifying pains--these
wearisome days and sleepless nights, _earned_ this her sweet reward?

  Shall any virtuous woman, who is in the full possession of her mental
faculties, how poor soever she may be, be _beggared_ by robbing her of
that which has been, and, thank God! will be the salvation of many a
down-trodden wife?


  I like to throw open the windows of my soul on Sabbath morning--air it
of the week’s fret, and toil, and care--and beckon in the white-winged
dove of Peace to sing me a song of heaven. I like to go to church; it is
to me like turning from the dusty highway of life into green fields,
and, under the friendly shade of some sheltering tree, gazing, through
its leafy canopy, into the serene blue depths above. The holy hymn
soothes me like a mother’s lullaby to her weary child. I care not to
read the words of the book which custom places in my hands. I would
listen, with closed eyes, while my soul syllables its own secret burden;
floating away on that melody to Him who has given us this blessed day of
rest; and as the last note dies away, I would cross the sacred
threshold, hugging to my heart this holy peace; nor stay to listen to
the cold, theoretical, charnel-house sermons to which, Sunday after
Sunday--vary the church as I may--I feel myself, unless I do this, a
disappointed, disheartened, and wearied listener. No earnestness, no
life, no soul; long, dry, windy, wordy skeleton-discourses; tame
platitudes, disgusting rant, a school-boy’s parrot-lesson, injudicious
depreciation of a world which is sweet to live in, and fair to see;
injudicious denunciation of innocent, youthful pleasures--proper and
healthful for life’s young spring-time; an ascetic rendering of that
Blessed Book which is, has been, and will be, the soul’s life-boat,
spite of its listless and blundering clerical expositors--many of whom
offer us a Procrustean bed of theology, too short for any healthy
creature of God to stretch himself upon. Who can wonder at the rebound?
Who can wonder that our young people pass by the church-door, or cross
its threshold compulsorily? or that their decorous seniors enter it but
to sleep?

  A few Sabbaths since I chanced into a church where a hundred and fifty
children were assembled for the afternoon service, to be addressed as
Sunday-school scholars. The out-door air was a luxury to breathe--it was
one of those lovely spring days, which woo every living thing to bask in
the warm sunshine. These children, many of them under four, none over
fifteen, perspiring in their out-door clothing, were closely packed in
those high-backed, uncomfortable seats--their cheeks at fever heat, and
every pore in their crucified bodies crying out for ventilation and
common sense--neither of which they had for a mortal hour-and-a-half, to
speak within bounds. In vain did teachers frown, and nudge, and poke--in
vain did the well-meaning but stupidest of possible ministers pound the
pulpit cushions, to impress upon their memories, by gesticulation, his
long-winded sentences; they were all written--as they deserved to be--in
water. Flesh and blood couldn’t stand it--_least of all that most
unperverted, critical, and discerning of audiences--childhood_!

  That preacher, in my opinion (and I ached to tell him so), did more
harm in that hour and a half than he can remedy in a life-time. This may
seem a bold assertion. _I_ think not. One hundred and fifty little
children to carry away with them from that church (not only for that
afternoon, but for a long life of Sundays), a disgust of that blessed
day, and what _should_ be its sweet and holy services. But what is the
use of talking? Every great and good cause is sure to be knocked in the
head by some blunderbuss. Why didn’t that man tell those children some
_short_, simple story that the youngest child there could understand,
appreciate, and be interested in? Why didn’t he open wide the
church-doors before their attention and interest flagged? Why so
enamored of the sound of his own voice, as to keep those steaming,
par-boiled little victims in that sacerdotal vapor-bath, after he had
said all he could think of to them, to address their teachers, who, if
necessary, should have had a meeting by themselves for that infliction?
And why--(I ask all of you who have not forgotten how _your_ restless
limbs ached when _you_ were children)--must _another_ minister get up
after that, and torture common-sense, and his fainting, frying auditors,
by another aimless, inflated, meaningless, and last-drop-in-the-bucket,
but (thanks to a kind Providence), _final_ address? And why didn’t
somebody seize the sexton of that church, who had compelled a hundred
and fifty children to breathe the foul air which the morning worshipers
had bequeathed, and which he was too lazy to let out the windows--why
didn’t somebody, I say, seize that sexton, and place him in an exhausted
receiver, long enough to give him some _faint_ notion of what he made
those par-boiled children suffer in that “protracted meeting?”


       A correspondent wishes us to “oblige a lady,” by publishing a
     communication containing strictures on Fanny Fern. But, why should
     we “oblige a lady” whom we do not know, and at the same time
     disoblige a lady whom all the world knows?--_New York Evening

  “Oblige a lady.” She is not the first, or the only lady, who has tried
to be “obliged,” and _obliging_, in this way. Dear creatures! how they
love me! There was Miss Moses, _proper_ Miss Moses, who had been for a
year or more writing for the _Scribetown Gazette_, when I commenced. How
delighted she was at my advent--how pleased she was with my
articles--how many things she said about me, personally and literarily,
to the editor of the _Gazette_--what an interest she took in my
progress. _She_ never tried to keep my articles out of the paper,
(benevolent soul!) “lest they should injure its reputation”--not she;
she never, when looking over the exchanges, hid away those in which my
articles were copied, and commended--not she, she never, when she found
one containing a personal attack on me (written at her own suggestion),
marked it with a double row of ink marks, and laid it in a conspicuous
place on the editor’s table--not she. She _liked_ my articles--liked
them so well, that, on several occasions, she appropriated whole
sentences and paragraphs; omitting (probably through forgetfulness), to
make the necessary quotation marks! Dove-like Miss Moses! I think I see
her now looking as though she was going to be translated (which by the
way, her works never have been.) Pious Miss Moses, who rang threadbare
changes on the ten commandments, and was addicted to meetings and
melancholy; she tried hard to extinguish me, but success makes one
magnanimous. I forgive her.

  And there was Miss Fox, who “never could see any thing to like in
Fanny Fern’s articles,” who knew her to have come from a family, “who
_always_ fizzled out”--(on this point this deponent saith nothing)--but
who, when she (Miss Fox) had occasion to write a newspaper story, got
some kind friend to say in print, “that the story by Rosa, was probably
written by Fanny Fern.” Sweet Miss Fox!

  Then there was Miss Briar, who “wondered if Mr. Bonner, of the New
York _Ledger_, gave Fanny Fern, _who had never been out of sight of
America_, $100 a column for her stupid trash, what he would give _her_,
Miss Briar, who had crossed the big pond, when _she_ touched pen to
paper! Fanny Fern, indeed! Humph!”

  Lovely creatures! I adore the whole sex. I always prefer hotels, ferry
boats, and omnibusses, where they predominate, and abound; how courteous
they are to each other, in case of a squeeze! Lord bless ’em! How truly
Burns says:

     “Auld Nature swears, the lovely dears
      Her noblest work she classes, O:
      Her ’prentice han’ she tried on man,
      And then she made the lasses, O.
      _The sweetest hours that e’er I spend
      Are spent amang the lasses, O._”


  You are “discouraged!” _You?_ with strong limbs, good health, the
green earth beneath your feet, and the broad blue sky above?
“Discouraged?” and why? You are poor, unknown, friendless, obscure,
unrecognized, and alone in this great swarming metropolis; the rich man
suffocates you with the dust of his pretentious chariot wheels.

  As you are now, so once was he. Did he waste time whining about it?
No, by the rood! or he would not now be President of the Bank before
which he once sold beer at a penny a glass, to thirsty cabmen and
newsboys. For shame, man! get up and shake yourself, if you are not
afraid such a mass of inanity will fall to pieces. Cock your hat on your
head, torn rim and all; elbow your way through the crowd; if they don’t
move for you, _make_ them do it; push past them; you have as much right
in the world as your neighbor. If you wait for him to take you by the
hand, the grass will grow over your grave. Rush past him and get
employment. “You have tried, and failed.” So have thousands before you,
who, to-day, are pecuniarily independent. I have the most unqualified
disgust of a man who folds his hands at every obstacle, instead of
leaping over it; or who dare not do any thing under heaven, unless it be
to blaspheme God, wrong his neighbor, or dishonor woman.

  I tell you, if you are determined, you _can_ get employment; but you
won’t get it by cringing round the doors of rich relations; you won’t
get it if you can’t dine on a crust, month after month, and year after
year, if need be, with hope for a dessert; you won’t get it if you stand
with your lazy hands in your pockets, listening to croakers; you won’t
do it if you don’t raise your head above every billow of discouragement
which dashes over you, and halloo to Fate, with a stout heart: “Try
again, old fellow!” No--and it is not right you should--you are good for
nothing but to go sniveling through the world, making wry faces at the
good fortune of other people. Bah! I’m disgusted with you.

       *       *       *       *       *

  _You_ despair. Why? “You are a widow.” Of how much sorrow is that
little word the voice? Oh! I know, poor mourner, how dark earth looks to
you. I know that sun and stars mock you with their brightness. I know
that you shut out the placid moonbeams, and pray to die. Listen! Are
there no bleeding hearts but yours? Your dead sleep peacefully; their
tears are all shed; their sighs all heaved; their weary hands folded
over quiet hearts; but oh, repiner! the _living_ sorrows that are
masked beneath the smiling faces you envy! the corroding bitterness of a
_dishonored_ hearth-stone; the mantle all too narrow, all too scant, to
hide from prying, malignant eyes, the torturing secret!--bone of your
bone, flesh of your flesh, and yet, stranger to you than the savage of
the desert--colder to you than the dead for whom you so repiningly
grieve. Ah! are there no bleeding hearts save yours? Is the “last vial”
emptied on your shrinking head?

  But your little children stand looking into your tear-stained face,
imploring you for bread--bread that you know not where to procure; your
ear aches for the kind words which never come to you. Oh, where is your
faith in God? Who says to you in accents sweeter than ever fell from
human lips: “A bruised reed will I not break;” “Let your widows trust in
me.” No kind words? Is it nothing, that those musical little voices call
you “mother?” Is the clasp of those soft arms, the touch of those velvet
lips, nothing? Is it thus you teach them to put their little hands into
that of the Almighty Father, and say, “Give us this day our daily
bread?” Oh, get on your knees before those sweet little teachers, who
know no danger--no harm, who fear no evil while “mother” is near, and
learn of them to watch, and hope, and trust; for sure as the sun shines
above your and their heads, so sure is _His_ promise to those who
believingly claim it.

  “Lonely,” are you? Oh, above all loneliness is his, who, having thrown
away his faith in God, and bereft of earthly idols, stands like some
lightning-reft tree, blossomless, verdureless, scathed, and blasted!


  The New York woman doteth on rainbow hats and dresses, confectionery,
the theater, the opera, and flirtation. She stareth gentlemen in the
street out of countenance, in a way that puzzleth a stranger to decide
the question of her respectability. The New York woman thinketh it
well-bred to criticise _in an audible tone_ the dress and appearance of
every chance lady near her, in the street, shop, ferry-boat, car, or
omnibus. If doubtful of the material of which her dress is composed, she
draweth near, examineth it microscopically, and pronounceth it--“after
all--silk.” The New York woman never appeareth without a dress-hat and
flounces, though the time be nine o’clock in the morning, and her
destination the grocer’s, to order some superfine tea. She delighteth in
embroidered petticoats, which she liberally displayeth to curious bipeds
of the opposite sex. She turneth up her nose at a delaine, wipeth up the
pavement with a thousand-dollar silk, and believeth point-lace collars
and handkerchiefs essential to salvation. She scorneth to ride in an
omnibus, and if driven by an impertinent shower therein, sniffeth up
her aristocratic nose at the plebeian occupants, pulleth out her costly
gold watch to--ascertain the time! and draweth off her gloves to show
her diamonds. Arrived at Snob avenue, she shaketh off the dust of her
silken flounces against her fellow-travelers, trippeth up her
aristocratic steps, and holding up her dress sufficiently high to
display to the retreating passengers her silken hose, and dainty boot,
resigneth her parasolette to black John, and maketh her triumphant exit.

  At the opera, the New York woman taketh the most conspicuous box,
spreadeth out her flounces to their fullest circumference, and
betrayeth a constant and vulgar consciousness that she is in her
go-to-meetin-fixins, by arranging her bracelets and shawl, settling her
rings, and fiddling at her coiffure, and the lace kerchief on her neck.
She also talketh incessantly during the opera, to show that she is not a
novice to be amused by it; and leaveth with much bustle, just before the
last act, for the same reason, and also to display her toilette.

  On Sunday morning, the New York woman taketh all the jewelry she can
collect, and in her flashiest silk and bonnet, taketh her velvet-bound,
gilt-clasped prayer-book out for an airing. Arrived at Dives’ church,
she straightway kneeleth and boweth her head; not, as the uninitiated
may suppose, to pray, but privately to arrange her curls; this done, and
raising her head, she sayeth, “we beseech thee to hear us, good Lord!”
while she taketh a minute inventory of the Hon. Mrs. Peters’s Parisian
toilette. After church, she taketh a turn or two in Fifth Avenue, to
display her elaborate dress, and to wonder “why vulgar people don’t
confine themselves to the Bowery.”


  The Boston woman draweth down her mouth, rolleth up her eyes, foldeth
her hands, and walketh on a crack. She rejoiceth in anatomical and
chemical lectures. She prateth of Macaulay and Carlyle; belongeth to
many and divers reading-classes, and smileth in a chaste, moonlight kind
of way on literary men. She dresseth (to her praise be it spoken)
plainly in the street, and considereth india-rubbers, a straw bonnet,
and a thick shawl, the fittest costume for damp and cloudy weather. She
dresseth her children more for comfort than show, and bringeth them up
also to walk on a crack. She maketh the tour of the Common twice or
three times a day, without regard to the barometer. She goeth to church
twice or three times on Sunday, sandwiched with Bible-classes and
Sabbath-schools. She thinketh London, Vienna, or Paris--fools to Boston;
and the “Boulevards” and “Tuilleries” not to be mentioned with the Frog
Pond and the Common. She is well posted up as to politics--thinketh,
“as Pa does,” and sticketh to it through thunder and lightning. When
asked to take a gentleman’s arm, she hooketh the tip of her little
finger circumspectly on to his male coat-sleeve. She is as prim as a
bolster, as stiff as a ram-rod, as frigid as an icicle, and not even
matrimony with a New Yorker could thaw her.


  The New York male exulteth in fast horses, stylish women, long-legged
hounds, a coat-of-arms, and liveried servants. Beside, or behind him,
may be seen his servant, with folded arms and white gloves, driven out
daily by his master, to inhale the gutter breezes of Broadway, to excite
the wonder of the curious, and to curl the lips of republicanism. The
New York male hath many and divers garments; some of which he weareth
bob-tailed; some shanghai, some with velvet collars, some with silk;
anon turned up; anon turned down; and some carelessly a-la-flap. The New
York male breakfasteth late, owing to pressing engagements which keep
him abroad after midnight. About twelve the next morning he lighteth a
cigar to assist his blear-eyes to find the way down-town; and with his
hands in his pockets, and arms akimbo, he navigateth tortuously around
locomotive “hoops;”--indefatigably pursueth a bonnet for several blocks,
to get a peep it its owner; nor getteth discouraged at intervening
parasols, or impromptu shopping errands; nor thinketh his time or shoe
leather wasted. The New York male belongeth to the most ruinous club and
military company; is a connoisseur in gold sleeve-buttons, and
seal-rings, and diamond studs. He cometh into the world with an
eye-glass and black ribbon winked into his left eye, and prideth himself
upon having broken all the commandments before he arrived at the dignity
of coat-tails.


  The Boston male is respectable all over; from the crown of his glossy
hat to the soles of his shiny shoes; and huggeth his mantle of
self-esteem inseparably about him, that he may avoid contaminating
contact with the non-elect of his “set.” The Boston male is for the most
part good-looking; and a stanch devotee of starch and buckram; he
patronizeth jewelry but sparingly, and _never discerneth a diamond in
the rough_. If, as Goethe sayeth, “the unconscious is the alone
complete,” then is the male Bostonian yet in embryo. He taketh, and
readeth all the newspapers and magazines, foreign and domestic; and yet,
strange to say, sweareth by the little tea-table “Transcript.” When the
Boston male traveleth he weareth his best clothes; arrived at his
destination he putteth up at the most showy hotel, ordereth the most
expensive rooms and edibles, and maketh an unwonted “splurge” generally.
He then droppeth the proprieties--_pro tem._--being seized with an
anatomical desire to dissect the great sores of the city; fancying, like
the ostrich, that if his head only be hidden, he is undiscernible.

  The Boston male is conservative as a citizen, prosaic as a lover;
hum-drum as a husband, and hath no sins--_to speak of_!



  Well, old Ink-stand, what do you think of this? Haven’t we got well
through the woods, hey? A few scratches and bruises we have had, to be
sure, but what of that? Didn’t you whisper where we should come out, the
first morning I dipped my pen in your sable depths, in the sky-parlor of
that hyena-like Mrs. Griffin? With what an eagle glance she discovered
that my bonnet-ribbon was undeniably guilty of two distinct washings,
and, emboldened by my shilling de laine, and the shabby shoes of little
Nell, inquired “if I intended taking in slop-work into _her_
apartments?” How distinctly I was made to understand that Nell was not
to speak above a whisper, or in any way infringe upon the rights of her
uncombed, unwashed, unbaptized, uncomfortable little Griffins. Poor
little Nell, who clung to my gown with childhood’s instinctive
appreciation of the hard face and wiry voice of our jailor. With what
venom I overheard her inform Mr. Griffin that “they must look sharp for
the rent of their sky-parlor, as its tenant lived on bread and milk, and
wore her under-clothes rough-dry, because she could not afford to pay
for ironing them!” Do you remember _that_, old Ink-stand? And do you
remember the morning she informed me, as you and I were busily engaged
in out first article, that I must “come and scrub the stairs which led
up to my room;” and when I ventured humbly to mention, that this was not
spoken of in our agreement, do you remember the Siddons-like air with
which she thundered in our astonished ears--“Do it, or tramp!” And do
you remember how you vowed “if I did tramp,” you would stand by me, and
help me out of the scrape? and haven’t you _done_ it, old Ink-stand? And
don’t you wish old Griffin, and all the little Griffins, and their
likes, both big and little, here and elsewhere, could see this bran-new
house that you have helped me into, and the dainty little table upon
which I have installed you, untempted by any new papier-mache modern

  Turn my back on _you_, old Ink-stand! Not I. Throw you aside, for your
shabby exterior, as we were thrown aside, when it was like drawing
teeth to get a solitary shilling to buy you at a second-hand shop?
Perish the thought!

  Yes, old Ink-stand, Griffin and all that crew, should see us now.
Couldn’t we take the wind out of their sails? Couldn’t we come into
their front door, instead of their “back gate?” Didn’t they “_always
know_ that there was something in us?” We can forgive them, though,
can’t we? By the title deed, and insurance policy, of this bran-new
pretty house, which their sneers have helped us into, and whose doors
shall always be open to those who have cheered us on, we’ll do it.

  Dropped many a tear into you, have I? Well--who cares? You know, very
well, that every rough word aimed at my quivering ears, was an extra
dollar in my purse; every rude touch of my little Nell, strength and
sinew to my unstrung nerves and flagging muscles. I say, old Ink-stand,
look at Nell now! Does any landlady lay rough hands on those plump
shoulders? Dare she sing and run, and jump and play to her heart’s
content? Didn’t you yourself buy her that hoop and stick, and those
dolls, and that globe of gold-fish? Don’t you feed and clothe her, every
day of her sunshiny life? Haven’t you agreed to do it, long years to
come? and won’t you teach her, as you have me, to defy false friends,
and ill-fortune? And won’t you be to my little Nell a talisman, when my
eyes grow dim, and hers brighten? Say, old Ink-stand?


  There is a good old man. His head is white--his form is bent--his step
slow and tremulous. Life has no charms for him, and the opening grave is
full of terrors; he wanders up and down--up and down--wringing his
withered hands, and says, “I have committed the unpardonable sin; I am
lost--lost--lost.” They who love him, and their name is Legion, look on
dismayed at this good father, good husband, good neighbor, good
Christian; and one of them says to me, “Why, if your God be merciful,
does he afflict his faithful servant thus? God is not good!”

  God is good, though all else fail, and we, like insects, creep and
complain; God is good. It is not religion that makes the old man
gloomy--it is not that the Word of God shall not stand forever; but He
who has bid us care for the soul, bids us also care for the body. “If
one member suffer, all the other members suffer with it.” If we neglect
the laws of health, and abuse our bodies, _even in His service_, he does
not guaranty to the delinquent, a strong mind, an unperverted spiritual
vision--clouds and darkness will come between us and the Sun of
Righteousness, and though we shall feel after Him, we shall grope like
children in the dark. It is an earthly physician which such as that old
man needs; a tonic for the body, not a sermon from the pulpit. Let him
lean upon your arm; lead him forth to the green fields, where every
little bird sings God is good; where waving trees and blossoming flowers
pass the whisper round with myriad voices; take away the old man’s
psalm-book, and let him listen to that anthem, and as the soft breath of
spring lifts his white locks from his troubled brow, the film of disease
will fall from his eyes, and he, too, shall sing that God is _good_.

  Never lay upon the back of Religion what Dyspepsia should shoulder.
The Christian warrior, no more than any other, can afford to neglect or
gorge his “rations” when preparing for battle; nor if either faint by
the way, in consequence, is it to be laid to the commander.


       “This had, from the very beginning of their acquaintance, induced
     in her that _awe_, which is the most delicious feeling a wife can
     have toward her husband.”

  “Awe!”--awe of a man whose whiskers you have trimmed, whose hair you
have cut, whose cravats you have tied, whose shirts you have “put into
the wash,” whose boots and shoes you have kicked into the closet, whose
dressing-gown you have worn while combing your hair; who has been down
cellar with you at eleven o’clock at night, to hunt for a chicken-bone;
who has hooked your dresses, unlaced your boots, fastened your
bracelets, and tied on your bonnet; who has stood before your
looking-glass, with thumb and finger on his proboscis, scraping his
chin; whom you have buttered, and sugared, and toasted, and tea-ed; whom
have seen asleep with his mouth wide open! Ri--diculous!


  Why _will_ New York women be eternally munching cake and
confectionery? What is more disgusting than to see a lady devouring at a
sitting, ounces of burnt almonds, and sugared wine and brandy-drops, or
packing away, in her rosy mouth, uncounted platesful of jelly-cake or
maccaroons? “But shopping is hungry business;” that is true, and many a
shopper comes hungry distances to perform it; but are cake and
confectionery wholesome diet between meals? and is not ice-cream at such
a time rank poison? Call for a sandwich or a roll, and you may not be
considered suicidal.

  Every body knows that young girls are foreordained to go through a
regular experience in eating slate-pencils, burnt quills, pickles, and
chalk; but this green age passed, one looks for a little common sense. I
have often seen New York women, not content with ruining their own
constitution in this way (and consequently periling their prospective
offspring), buy, before leaving the confectioner’s shop, five or six
pounds of candy for _nursery distribution_, and ask Betty, the next day
(the sapient mother!), “what can ail those children to fret so?” It were
more merciful to purchase a dose of strychnine, and put an immediate end
to their misery, than thus murder them by inches. Are the rosy, robust,
beautiful English children, candy-fed? Are they suffered to gorge
themselves on hot bread, preserves, cake and pastry, _ad libitum_? Do
they have any thing but the plainest puddings, the stalest bread, and
the most unmitigated roast and boiled meat, unpoisoned by those
dyspepsia-breeding gravies of ours?

  It is pitiful, this dwarfing of American children with improper food,
want of exercise, and cork-screw clothes. It is inhuman to require of
their enfeebled minds and bodies, in ill-ventilated schoolrooms, tasks
which the most vigorous child should never have imposed upon his tender
years. As if a child’s physique were not of the first importance!--as if
all the learning in the world could be put to any practical use by an
enfeebled body! As if a parent _had a right_, year after year, thus to
murder the innocents.

  Think of one of those candy-and-cake-fed young girls, bending over her
tasks in school, from nine o’clock till three, with perhaps ten or
fifteen minutes intermission (spent in the close air of the
school-room) and two days out of a week at three, after another ten
minutes’ intermission, and another cake-and-candy feed, commencing
drawing, or music lessons, to last till five; her mother, meanwhile,
rocking away as comfortably, in her chair at home, as if her daughter’s
spine were not crooking irretrievably. I will not speak of the utter
impossibility that this young girl should have a _steady hand_ for
drawing, under such circumstances, because any fool can understand that
to be impossible.

  I ask what _right_ have you to require of your child, your growing,
restless child, what it would be impossible for you to do yourself? You
know very well that you could not keep your mind on the stretch for so
many hours to any profit; or your body in one position for such a length
of time, without excessive pain and untold weariness. Then add to this
the tasks which must be conned on the return home for the next day’s
lesson, and one marvels no longer at the sickly, sallow, narrow-chested,
leaden-eyed young girls we are in the habit of meeting.

  What _would_ I have? I would have teachers less selfishly consult
their own convenience, in insisting upon squeezing into the forenoon
what should be divided between forenoon and afternoon, as in the good
old-fashioned way of keeping school, with time to eat a wholesome dinner
between. A teacher’s established constitution may possibly stand this
modern nonsense (though I am told not long); but that _children_ should
be thus victimized, without at least a remonstrance on the part of their
natural guardians, I can only ascribe to the criminal indifference of
parents to the welfare of their offspring.


  And so the female doctors are prospering and getting practice. I am
sure I am heartily glad of it, for several reasons; one of which is,
that it is an honest and honorable deliverance from the everlasting,
non-remunerating, consumptive-provoking, monotonous needle. Another is,
that it is a more excellent way of support, than by the mercenary and
un-retraceable road, through the church-door to the altar, into which so
many non-reliant women are driven. Having said this I feel at liberty to
remark that we all have our little fancies, and one of mine is, that a
hat is a pleasanter object of contemplation in a sick-room than a
bonnet. I think, too, that my wrist reposes more comfortably in a big
hand than a little one, and if my mouth is to be inspected, I prefer
submitting it to a beard than to a flounce. Still, this may be a narrow
prejudice--I dare say it is--but like most of my prejudices, I am afraid
no amount of fire will burn it out of me.

  A female doctor! Great Esculapius! Before swallowing her pills (of
which she would be the first), I should want to make sure that I had
never come between her and a lover, or a new bonnet, or been the
innocent recipient of a gracious smile from her husband. If I desired
her undivided attention to my case, I should first remove the
looking-glass, and if a consultation seemed advisable, I should wish to
arm myself with a gridiron, or a darning-needle, or some other
appropriate weapon, before expressing such a wish. If my female doctor
recommended a blister on my head, I should strongly doubt its necessity
if my hair happened to be handsome, also the expediency of a
scar-defacing plaster for my neck, if it happened to be plump and white.
Still, these may be little prejudices; very like they are; but this I
will say, before the breath is taken out of me by any female doctor,
that while I am in my senses I will never exchange my gentlemanly,
soft-voiced, soft-stepping, experienced, intelligent, handsome doctor,
for all the female M. D.’s who ever carved up dead bodies or live
characters--or tore each other’s caps.


  They stepped in together--the man and his wife--honest, healthy
country-folk. She--rosy and plump; he--stalwart, broad-chested, and
strong-limbed, as God intended man and woman to be. I might not have
noticed them particularly, but they had a baby; and such a baby! None
of your flabby city abortions; but a flesh-and-blood baby--a baby to
make one’s mouth water--ay, and _eyes, too_! Such a baby as might have
been born in the Garden of Eden, had the serpent never crept in; born of
parents fed on strawberries and pomegranates--pure in soul, pure in
body, and healthy and vigorous as purity _alone_ can be.

  Such a baby! such eyes--such a skin--such bewildering lips--such a
heaven-born smile; my eyes overflowed as I looked at it. I was not
worthy to hold that baby, but my heart yearned for it, and I held out my
hands invitingly.

  See! the little trusting thing leaps from its father’s arms and sits
smiling on my knee. Ah! little baby, turn away those soft blue eyes from
mine; is it not enough that my soul is on its knees to you? Is it not
enough, that for every bitter word wrung from my tortured soul by wrong
and suffering, I could cry: “God be merciful to me a sinner?”

  And yet, little baby, I was once like thee. Like thee, I stretched out
the trusting hand to those who----ah, little baby--I am not like thee
now; yet stay with me, and perhaps I shall be. Jesus “took a little
child and set him in the midst.” Take hold of my hand, and lead me to

  Going? then God be with thee, as surely as he has been with me, in thy
pure presence. I shall see thee again, little baby, if I heed thy
teachings; thou hast done thy silent mission.



  It was a mad freak of dame Nature to fashion Mary Ford after so dainty a
model, and then open her blue eyes in a tumble-down house in Peck-lane.
But Mary cares little for that. Fortune has given her wheel a whirl
since then, and Jacob Ford is now on the top. Mary sees the young and
the old, the grave and the gay, the wise and the ignorant, smile on her
sweet face; as she passes, men murmur “beautiful,” and women pick flaws
in her face and figure. She can not sleep for serenades, and her little
room is perfumed, from May to January, with the rarest of hot-house
flowers. Lovers, too, come wooing by the score. And yet, Mary is no
coquette; no more than the sweet flower, which nods, and sways, and
sends forth its perfume for very joy that it blossoms in the bright
sunshine, all unconscious how it tempts the passer-by to pluck it for
his own wearing. A queenly girl was the tailor’s daughter, with her
Juno-like figure, her small, well-shaped head, poised so daintily on the
fair white throat; with her large blue eyes, by turns brilliant as the
lightning’s flash, then soft as a moonbeam; with her pretty mouth, and
the dimple which lay _perdu_ in the corner, with the flossy waves of her
dark brown hair; with her soft, white hands, and twinkling little feet;
with her winsome smile, and floating grace of motion.

  Percy Lee was conquered. Percy--who had withstood blue eyes and black,
gray eyes and hazel. Percy--for whom many a fair girl had smiled and
pouted in vain. Percy the bookworm. Percy--handsome as Apollo, cold as
Mont Blanc. Percy Lee was fettered at last, and right merrily did
mischievous Cupid forge, one by one, his chains for the stoic. No poor
fish ever so writhed and twisted on the hook, till the little word was
whispered which made him in lover’s parlance, “the happiest of men.”

  Of course, distanced competitors wondered what Mary Ford could see to
admire in that book-worm of a Percy. Of course, managing mammas, with
marriageable daughters, were shocked that Miss Ford should have angled
for him so transparently; and the young ladies themselves marveled that
the aristocratic Percy should fancy a tailor’s daughter; of course the
lovers, in the seventh heaven of their felicity, could afford to let
them think and say what they pleased.

  The torpid sexagenarian, or frigid egotist, may sneer; but how
beautiful is this measureless first love, before distrust has chilled,
or selfishness blighted, or the scorching sun of worldliness evaporated
the heart’s dew; when we trust with childhood’s sweet faith, because we
love; when care and sorrow are undiscernible shapes in the distance;
when at every footstep we ring the chime of joy from out the flowers.
What can earth offer after this sparkling draught has been quaffed? How
stale its after spiritless effervescences!

  Percy’s love for Mary was all the more pure and intense, that he had
hitherto kept his heart free from youthful entanglements. Fastidious and
refined to a degree, perhaps this with him was as much a matter of
necessity as of choice. In Mary both his heart and taste were satisfied;
true, he sometimes wondered how so delicate and dainty a flower should
have blossomed from out so rude a soil; for her father’s money could
neither obliterate nor gild over the traces of his innate vulgarity; in
fact, his love for his daughter was his only redeeming trait--the only
common ground upon which the father and lover could meet. The petty
accumulation of fortune by the penny, had narrowed and hardened a heart
originally good and unselfish; the love of gold for its own sake had
swallowed up every other thought and feeling. Like many persons of
humble origin, whose intellects have not expanded with their coffers,
Jacob Ford overrated the accident of birth and position, and hence was
well pleased with Mary’s projected alliance with Percy.

  “Well, to be sure, Lucy, beauty _is_ a great thing for a girl,” he one
day said to his wife. “I did not dream of this when Mary used to climb
up on the counter of my little dark shop in Peck-lane, and sit playing
with the goose and shears.”

  “Nor I,” replied Lucy, as she looked around their handsome apartment,
with a satisfied smile; “nor I, Jacob, when, after paying me one
Saturday night for my week’s work, you said, ‘Lucy, you can be mistress
of this shop if you like.’ I was _so_ proud and happy: for, indeed, it
was lonesome enough, Jacob, stitching in that gloomy old garret I often
used to think how dreadful it would be to be sick and die there alone,
as poor Hetty Carr did. It was a pity, Jacob, you did not pay her more,
and she so weakly, too. Often she would sit up all night, sewing, with
that dreadful cough racking her.”

  “Tut--tut--wife,” said Jacob; “she was not much of a seamstress; you
always had a soft heart, Lucy, and were easily imposed upon by a whining

  “It was too true, Jacob; and she had been dead a whole day before any
one found it out; then, as she had no friends, she was buried at the
expense of the city, and the coffin they brought was too short for her,
and they crowded her poor thin limbs into it, and carried her away in
the poor’s hearse. Sometimes, Jacob, I get very gloomy when I think of
this, and look upon our own beautiful darling; and, sometimes,
Jacob--you won’t be angry with me?” asked the good woman, coaxingly, as
she laid her hand upon his arm--“sometimes I’ve thought our money would
never do us any good.”

  “Pshaw!” exclaimed Jacob, impatiently shaking off his wife’s hand;
“pshaw, Lucy, you are like all other women, weak and superstitious. A
man must look out for number one. Small profits a body would make to
conduct business on your principles. Grab all you can, keep all you get,
is every body’s motto; why should I set up to be wiser than my

  Lucy Ford sighed. A wife is very apt to be convinced by her husband’s
reasoning, if she loves him; and perhaps Lucy might have been, had she
not herself known what it was to sit stitching day after day in her
garret, till her young brain reeled, and her heart grew faint and sick,
or lain in her little bed, too weary even to sleep, listening to the
dull rain as it pattered on the skylight, and wishing she were dead.

  A pressure of soft lips upon her forehead, and a merry laugh, musical
as the ringing of silver bells, roused Lucy from her reverie.

  “Good-by--mother dear,” said Mary; “I could not go to ride with Percy
without a kiss from you. Come to the window--look! Are not those pretty
horses of Percy’s? They skim the ground like birds! And see what a
pretty carriage! Now acknowledge that my lover’s taste is perfect.”

  “Yes--when he chose you,” said Jacob, gazing admiringly on Mary’s
bright face and graceful form. “You would grace a court, Mary, if you
are old Jacob Ford’s daughter.”

  Mary threw her arms around the old man’s neck, and kissed his bronze
cheek. To her the name of father was another name for love; nurtured in
this kindly atmosphere, she could as little comprehend how a child could
cease to worship a parent, as she could comprehend how a parent, when
his child asked for bread, should mock his misery with a stone.
Unspoiled by the world’s flatteries, she had not learned to undervalue
her doting father’s love, that it was expressed in ungrammatical phrase;
she had not yet learned to blush at any old-fashioned breach of
etiquette (on his part), in the presence of her fastidious young
friends; and by her marked deference to her parents in their presence,
she in a measure exacted the same from them. It was one of the loveliest
traits in Mary’s character, and one for which Percy, who appreciated her
refinement, loved and respected her the more.

       *       *       *       *       *

  “Have your fortune told, lady?” asked a withered old woman, of Mary,
as she tripped down the steps to join Percy.

  “Of course,” said the laughing girl: “suppose you tell me whom I am to
marry,” with a gay glance at Percy; and she ungloved her small white
hand, while the dame’s withered fingers traced its delicate lines.

  “Retribution is written here,” said the old woman, solemnly; “your sun
will set early, fair girl.”

  “Come away, Mary,” said Percy, with a frown, shaking his whip at the
woman, “the old thing is becrazed.”

  “Time will show,” muttered the beldame, pocketing the coin with which
Mary had crossed her hand; “time will show; brighter eyes than yours,
fair lady, have wept themselves dim.”

  “What can she mean?” said Mary, drawing involuntarily close to the
side of her lover. “I almost wish we had not seen her.”

  The spirits of youth are elastic. The April cloud soon passed from
Mary’s brow, and before the fleet horses had skimmed a mile, her laugh
rang out as merrily as ever.

  The lovers had both a trained eye for natural beauty, and the lovely
road through which they passed, with its brown houses half hidden in
foliage--the lazy grazing cattle--the scent of new-mown hay and breath
of flowers--the rude song of the plowman and the delicate twitter of the
bird--the far-off hills, with their tall trees distinctly defined
against the clear blue sky--the silver stream and velvet meadows--the
wind’s wild anthem, now swelling as if in full chorus, then soft and
sweet as the murmur of a sleeping babe, all filled their hearts with a
quiet joy.

  “Life is very sweet,” said Mary, turning her lustrous eyes upon her
lover. “People say that happiness and prosperity harden the heart; when
I am most blest I feel most devotional. In vain might the infidel tell
me ‘there is no God,’ with such a scene as this before me, or fetter my
grateful heart-pulses as they adored the Giver.”

  “You dear little saint,” said Percy, with a light laugh, “how well you
preach. Well--my mother was neck-deep in religion; the prayers and hymns
she taught me, stay by me now, whether I will or no. I often catch
myself saying ‘Now I lay me,’ when I go to bed, from the mere force of
habit; but your rosy lips were never made to mumble pater nosters, Mary:
leave that to crafty priests, and disappointed nuns. Religion, my pet,
is another name for humbug, all the world over; your would-be-saint
always cheats in proportion to the length of his face and his prayers.
Bah! don’t let us talk of it.”

  “Don’t--dear Percy,” said Mary. “I like you less well when you talk
so; religion is the only sure basis of character. Every superstructure
not built on this foundation--”

  “Must topple over, I suppose,” said Percy. “Don’t you believe it, my
angel. I am a living example to the contrary; but Cupid knows I would
subscribe to any article of faith emanating from your rosy lips;” and
Percy drew rein at the door of his father-in-law’s mansion, and leaping
out, assisted Mary to alight.

       *       *       *       *       *

  “Such a lovely drive as we have had, dear mother,” said Mary, throwing
her hat upon the table. “Percy has just gone off with a client on
business; he will be back presently. Dear Percy! he’s just the best
fellow in the world--a little lax on religious points, but he loves me
well enough to be influenced there. Now I will sit down at this window
while I sew, and then I shall see Percy when he comes up the street.”

  Nimbly her fingers moved; her merry song keeping time the while. Now a
blush flitting over her cheek, then a smile dimpling it. She was
thinking of their beautiful home that _was_ to be, and how like a fairy
dream her life would pass, with that deep, rich voice lingering ever in
her ear; cares, if they came, lightened by each other’s presence, or
turned to joys by mutual sympathy. And then, she was so _proud_ of him;
A woman’s love is so deepened by that thought.

  God pity her, who, with a great soul, indissolubly bound, must walk
ever backward with a mantle (alas! all too transparent), to cover her
husband’s mental nakedness!


  “A gentleman, sir, to see you,” said a servant to Jacob Ford, as he
ushered in his old friend, Mr. Trask.

  “Ah, Trask, how are you? Glad to see you,” said Jacob, with one of his
vice-like shakes of the hand. “Come for a rubber at whist? That’s right.
I was thinking to-day, how long it was since you and I had a quiet hour
together. How’s trade, Trask? You _ought_ to be making money. Why,
what’s the matter, man?” clapping him on the shoulder; “never saw you
this way before; hang me if you don’t look as solemn as old Parson
Glebe. Why don’t you speak? Why do you stare at me so?”

  “Jacob,” replied Mr. Trask, and there he stopped.

  “Well--that’s my name; Jacob Ford: as good a name as you’ll find on
’change. I never have done any thing to make me ashamed of it.”

  “I wish every body could say as much,” said Trask, gravely.

  “What are you driving at?” asked Jacob Ford; “don’t talk riddles to
me--they get me out of temper. If you have any thing to tell, out with
it. I’ve seen fifty years’ wear and tear; I’m not frightened by

  “But this is no trifle, Ford. I can’t do it,” said the soft-hearted Mr.
Trask. “Jacob, my old friend--I--can’t do it,” and he sat down and
covered his face with his hands.

  “Come--come,” said Jacob; “take heart, man. If you have got into a
scrape, Jacob Ford is not the man to desert an old friend; if a few
hundreds or more will set it all right, you shall have it.”

  “For God’s sake, stop,” said Trask; “the shadow has fallen on _your_
threshold, not on _mine_.”

  “Mine?” replied Jacob, with a bewildered look. “Mine? defalcations?
banks broke? hey? Jacob Ford a beggar, after fifty years’ toil?”

  “Worse--worse,” said Trask, making a violent effort to speak. “Percy
Lee is arrested for embezzlement, and I have proofs of his guilt.
There--now I’ve said it.”

  “Man! do you _know_ this?” said Jacob, in a hoarse whisper, putting
his white lips close to his friend’s ear, as if he feared the very walls
would tell the secret.

  “Before God, ’tis true,” said Trask, solemnly.

  “Then God’s curse light on the villain,” said Jacob Ford. “My Mary--my
bright, beautiful Mary! Oh! who will tell _her_? Listen, Trask, that’s
her voice--singing. Oh, God--oh God, this is too dreadful”--and the old
man bowed his head upon his breast, and wept like a child.

  “What does all this mean?” asked Lucy Ford, opening the door.
“Jacob--husband--Trask--what is it?” and she looked from one to the
other, in bewildered wonder.

  “Tell her, Trask,” whispered Jacob.

  “Don’t weep so, dear Jacob,” said Lucy; “if money has gone, we can
both go to work again; we both know how. Mary will soon have a home of
her own.”

  Jacob sprang to his feet, and seizing Lucy by the arm, hissed in her
ear, “Woman, don’t you name him. May God’s curse blight him. May he die
alone. May his bones bleach in the winds of heaven, and his soul be
forever damned. Lucy--Percy Lee is a--a--swindler! There--now go break
_her_ heart, if you can. Lucy?--Trask?”--and Jacob, overcome with the
violence of his feelings, wept again like a child; while poor Lucy,
good Lucy, hid her face on her husband’s breast, repressing her own
anguish that she might not add to his.

  “Who’s going to tell _her_, I say?” said Jacob. “May my tongue wither
before I do it. My darling--my loving, beautiful darling--who will tell

  “I,” said the mother, with ashen lips, as she raised herself slowly
from her husband’s breast, and moved toward the door.

  Clutching at the balustrade for support, Lucy dragged herself slowly
up stairs. Ah! well might she reel to and fro as she heard Mary’s voice:

     “Bring flowers, bring flowers for the bride to wear,
      They were born to blush in her shining hair;
      She is leaving the home of her childhood’s mirth,
      She hath bid farewell to her father’s hearth,
      Her place is now by another’s side;
      Bring flowers for the locks of the fair young bride.”

  A trembling hand was laid upon Mary’s shoulder. She shook back her
long bright hair, and looked smilingly up into her mother’s face.

  “Mary,” said Lucy, solemnly, “you will never marry Percy Lee.”

  “Dead? Percy dead? Oh--no--no,” gasped the poor girl. “_My_

  “Worse--worse,” said Lucy, throwing her protecting arms around her
child. “Mary, Percy Lee is a swindler; he is unworthy of you; you must
forget him.”

  “Never,” said Mary--“never! Who _dare_ say that? Where is he?--take me
to him;” and she sunk fainting to the floor.

  “I have killed her,” said the weeping mother, as she chafed her cold
temples, and kissed her colorless lips. “I have killed her,” she
murmured, bending over her, as Mary passed from one convulsive fit to

  “Will she die, Jacob?” asked Lucy, looking mournfully up into her
husband’s pallid face. “Will she die, Jacob?”

  “Better so,” groaned the old man. “God’s curse on him who has done
this. She was my all. What’s my gold good for, if it can not bring back
the light to _her_ eye, the peace to _her_ heart? My gold that I have
toiled for, and piled up in shining heaps: what is it good for?”

  “The curse was on it, Jacob,” groaned Lucy. “Oh, Jacob, I told you so.
God forgive us; it was cankered gold.”

  “Why did the villain blast _my_ home?” asked Jacob, apparently
unconscious of what Lucy had said; “kill my one ewe lamb; all Jacob had
to love--all that made him human? Lucy, I never prayed, but perhaps _He_
would hear me for her;” and he knelt by his child. “Oh God, make my soul
miserable forever, if thou wilt, but spare _her_--take the misery out of
_her_ heart.”

  “If it be Thy will,” responded Lucy.

  “Don’t say that, Lucy,” said Jacob. “I must have it so;--what has she
done, poor lamb?”


  Percy Lee a defaulter--a swindler! The news flew like wildfire.

  “No great catch, after all,” said a rival beauty, tossing her ringlets.

  “I expected something of that sort,” said a modern Solomon.

  “Hope he’ll be imprisoned for life,” said a charitable tailor, whom
Jacob Ford had eclipsed, “this will bring Jacob’s pride down a trifle,
I’m thinking.”

  “How lucky you did not succeed in catching him,” said a mother,
confidentially, to her daughter.

  “I?” exclaimed the young lady. “I? Is it possible you can be so
stupid, mamma, as to suppose I would waste a thought on Percy Lee! I
assure you he offered himself to Mary Ford in a fit of pique at my
rejection. Don’t imagine you are in all my secrets,” said the dutiful
young lady, tossing her head. “Well--her disappearance from society is
certain--thank goodness--not that she interferes with _me_; but her
pretended simplicity is so disgusting! What the men in our set could see
to admire in her, passes me; but _chacun à son gout_.”

       *       *       *       *       *

  “Of course, Lee will get clear,” said a rough dray-man to his comrade.
“These big fish always flounder out of the net; it is only the minnows
who get caught. Satan! it makes me swear to think of it. I will be sure
to stand at the court-house door when he is brought for trial, and
insult him if I can. I hope the aristocratic hound will swing for it.”

  “Come, now, Jo,” said his friend, taking out his penknife, and sitting
down on a stump to whittle. “You are always a railing at the
aristocracy, as you call ’em. I never knew a man who talks as you do,
who was not an aristocrat at heart, worshiping the very wealth and
station he sneered at. Don’t be a fool, John. We are far happier, or
might be, with our teams, plenty of jobs, and good health, than these
aristocrats, as you call them, who half the time are tossing on their
pillows, because this ship hasn’t arrived in port, or that land
speculation has burst up, or stocks depreciated, or some such cursed
canker at the root of all their gourds. Now there’s poor Jacob Ford; of
what use are all his riches, now his daughter’s heart is broke? And
Percy Lee, too--will his fine education and book learning get him out of
the clutches of the law? Have a little charity, Jo. It hurts a man worse
to fall from such a height into a prison, than it would you or me, from
a dray-cart. Gad--I pity him; his worst enemy couldn’t pile up the agony
any higher.”

  “Pity him!” said Jo, mockingly--“a swindling rascal like that--to
break a pretty girl’s heart!”

  “Jo,” said his friend, shutting up his penknife, and looking him
steadily in the eye, “have you always said no to the tempting devil in
_your_ heart? Did you never charge a stranger more than the law allows
for a job? Did no poor girl ever curse the hour she saw the light, for
your sake?”

  “Well, Mr. Parson, what if all that were true?” asked Jo, with an
abortive attempt at a laugh. “I can’t see what it has to do with what we
are talking about; hang it.”

  “Just this,” answered his friend. “He who is without sin, only, is to
cast the first stone.”

  “O, get out,” said Jo, cracking his whip over his horse’s head, and
taking refuge, like many other cornered disputants, in flight.

       *       *       *       *       *

  And Percy Lee! From the hour in which he passed from the heaven of
Mary’s smile, up to the present moment, in which he paced like a caged
lion up and down his narrow bounds, what untold agonies were his! Why
had he wrecked happiness, love, honor, all in one fatal moment? Why had
he prostituted his God-given talents so madly to sin? Let those answer
who have in like manner sinned, and who have expiated that sin, by a
life-long brand upon the brow and a life-long misery in the heart. “Let
him who thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.”


  “I can’t remember,” said Mary, two months after Percy’s arrest, “I can’t
remember,” raising herself, and laying her emaciated hand upon her brow.
“Have I been sick, mamma?”

  “Yes, Mary,” replied her mother, repressing her tears of joy at the
sound of her child’s voice.

  “Where’s Percy, mamma?”

  But before Lucy could answer, she again relapsed into stupor. Another
hour passed--there was reason in her glance. “Mamma? Percy--take me to
him”--said Mary, with a burst of tears, as she strove vainly to rise
from her couch.

  “By-and-by, darling,” said her mother, coaxingly, laying her gently back
upon the pillow, as she would an infant, “by-and-by, Mary, when you are

  “No--_now_” she replied, a spasm of pain contracting her features. “Is
he--is he--_there_? How long have I lain here?”

  “Two months, Mary.”

  “Two months,” exclaimed poor Mary, in terror, “two months. O, mamma,
if you ever loved me, if you want me to live--take me to him. Two
months! He will think!--O, dear, mamma, take me to Percy!”

  “Yes--yes, you _shall_ go,” said Jacob, “only don’t cry. I would shed
my heart’s blood to save you one tear. You shall go, Mary, even to that

  “Well--well, I won’t say it,” said the old man, kissing her forehead;
“but mind, it is only for _your_ sake--here--Lucy, quick, she is

  Another week passed by, poor Mary making superhuman efforts to sit up,
to gain strength to accomplish her heart’s wish. Jacob would look at
her wasted figure, till the curse rose to his lip, and then rush
suddenly from her presence.

  “I did not think I could do this, even for her,” muttered Jacob, on the
morning of their visit to the prison. “I don’t know what has come over
me, Lucy--sometimes I wonder if I _am_ Jacob. I don’t care for any
thing, so she don’t grieve.”

  The carriage came--in silence the sad trio moved toward the prison.

  “Can’t do it,” whispered Jacob to Lucy, as they stopped before the door;
“I thought I could go in with her; but I can’t do it, not even for Mary.
The old feeling has come back. I can’t look on that man’s face without
crushing him as I would a viper;” and the old man left them in the
turnkey’s office, returned to the carriage, twitched down the blinds,
and threw himself back upon the seat.

  Ah! how much the poor heart may bear! Mary sat in the prison
office--still--motionless!--but a bright spot burned upon her cheek, and
her tone was fearful in its calmness, and Lucy asked her again “if she
were strong enough to go through with it.” How distinctly the turnkey’s
clock ticked! What a quantity of false keys and other implements which
had been taken from refractory prisoners, were on exhibition in the
glass case! How the clerk stared at them as they registered their names
in the book! What a mockery for that little bird to sing in his cage,
over Mary’s head! How crushed and broken-hearted the poor woman looked
in the black bonnet, on the bench, waiting to see her prodigal son! How
sad his young wife beside her, with the unconscious baby sleeping on her
breast! The room grew smaller--the air grew stifled.

  “You can go now, ma’am,” said the turnkey, rattling his keys and
addressing Lucy.

  “In a moment, please,” said Lucy, with a quivering lip, as Mary fell
from her chair:--“Some water quick, please, sir”--and she untied the
strings of Mary’s hat.

  “Now,” said Mary, after a pause. And again the bright spot burned upon
her cheek--and as with faltering step, she followed the turnkey, the
young wife’s tears fell on her baby’s face, while she murmured, “God
help her, and it’s my own heart that has the misery, too.”


  The huge key grated in the lock. In the further corner of the cell,
crouched Percy--his chin in his palms, his eyes bloodshot, and his face
livid as death.

  As Mary tottered through the door, Percy raised his head, and, with a
stifled groan, fell at her feet. Pressing his lips to the hem of her
robe, he waved her off with one hand, as if his touch were
contamination. Mary’s arms were thrown about his neck, and the words, “I
love you,” fell upon his doomed ear, like the far-off music of heaven.
When Percy would have spoken, Mary laid her hand upon his mouth--not
even to _her_, should he humiliate himself by confession. And so, in
tears and silence, the allotted hour passed--He only, who made the
heart, with its power to enjoy or suffer, knew with what agonizing

  “Well, I’ve seen a great many pitiful sights in my day,” said the old
jailor, as the carriage rolled away with Mary; “but never any thing that
made my eyes water like the sight of that poor young cretur. Sometimes I
think there ain’t no justice up above there, when I see the innocent
punished that way with the guilty. I hope these things will all be made
square in the other world; I can’t say they are clear to my mind here. I
get good pay here, but I’d rather scull a raft than stay here to have my
feelin’s hurt all the time this way. If I didn’t go in so strong for
justice, I should be tempted, when I think of that young woman, to
forget to lock that fellow’s cell some night. ‘Five years’ hard labor!’
_’Tis_ tough, for a gentleman born--well, supposing he got out? if he is
a limb of the devil, as some folks say, he will break her heart over
again some day or other. It would be a shorter agony to let her weep
herself dead at once. God help her.”


  The Bluff Hill penitentiary was called “a model prison.” A “modern
Howard” was said to have planned it, and passed his oracular judgment,
ratified by the authorities of the State in which it was located, upon
its cells, prison-yards, work-shops, chapel, eating-rooms, and ingenious
instruments of torture.

  That the furnaces failed to keep the prisoners from freezing in
winter, or that there was no proper ventilation in summer, was,
therefore, nobody’s meddling business. Better that _they_ should suffer,
year in and year out, than that a flaw should be publicly picked in any
scheme set afoot by the “modern Howard.” The officers elected to preside
over Bluff Hill prison, were as stony as its walls, and showed curious
visitors round the work-shops, amid its rows of pallid faces, pointing
out here a disgraced clergyman, there a ruined lawyer, yonder a wrecked
merchant, with as much nonchalance as a brutal keeper would stir up the
caged beasts in a menagerie, for the amusement of the crowd; with as
little thought that these fallen beings were _men_ and brothers, as if
the Omniscient eye noted no dark stain of sin, hidden from human sight,
on _their_ souls.

  They gave you leave to stop as long as you pleased, and watch the
muscles of your victim’s face, work with emotion under your gaze. You
could take your own time to speculate upon the scowl of defiance, or the
set teeth of hate, as you flaunted leisurely past their prison uniform,
in your silk and broadcloth; or you could stand under the fair blue sky,
in the prison-yard, when the roll beat for dinner, and see them in
file, by twos--guarded--march with locked step and folded arms, to their
eating-room. The beardless boy branded in your remembering eye for life,
wherever you might hereafter meet him, for this his first crime, how
hard soever against fearful odds, he might struggle upward to virtue and
heaven. You might follow the sad procession to thair meals, where the
fat, comfortably-fed chaplain craved a blessing over food, from which
the very dog at his door would have turned hungry away; or you could go
into the prison hospital, and view the accommodation (?) for the
sick--the cots so narrow that a man could not turn in them; or you could
investigate “The Douche,” which the keeper would tell you, with a bland
smile, “conquered even old prison birds;” or you could peep into the
cells (philanthropically furnished by this “modern Howard” with a
Bible), so dark that at the brightest noonday no prisoner could read a
syllable; or you could see the row of coffins standing on an end in the
hall, kept on hand “for sudden emergencies;” or any other horrors of the
place, for which your morbid curiosity was appetized.

  Or, if you had a human heart beating within your breast, if you could
remember ever kneeling to ask forgiveness of your God, you could turn
away soul-sick from such unfeeling exhibitions, and refuse to insult
their misery--fallen as they were--by your curious gaze. You could
remember in your own experience, moments of fearful temptation, when the
hot blood poured like molten lead through _your_ veins. You could place
in the balance, as God does--as man does not--neglected
childhood--undisciplined youth. You could remember, that at a kindly
word, whispered in those felon cars, the hardest rock might melt; and
you could wish that if prisons must be, they who pass under their iron
portals might pass unrecognizable in after life by the world’s stony
eyes--you could wish that when freedom’s air again fanned their pallid
temples, no cursed scornful finger might lash to fury the hydra-headed
monster Sin, in their scarred hearts.

  Heaven speed the day when the legislative heart, pitiful as God’s,
shall temper this sword of justice with more mercy.

       *       *       *       *       *

  “Which is he?” asked an over-dressed, chubby, vulgar-looking fellow,
to the keeper of Bluff Hill prison.

  “That tall fellow yonder,” replied the keeper, “with the straight
nose, and high forehead--that’s he--see? reefing off flax yonder.”

  “Don’t say,” said the man, with his bloated eyes gloating over Percy.
“How old is he?”

  “Nineteen only,” said the keeper.

  “Humph!” said the man, loud enough for Percy to
hear--“_Pre_--co--cious; wasn’t intended for that sort of work, I fancy,
by the look of his hands; they are as small and white as a woman’s. Ask
him some question, can’t ye? I wish I was keeper here; I’d like to
break his spirit,” said Mr. Scraggs, as Percy answered the keeper’s
question without raising his eyes. “Bah! how these fuzzy bits of lint
and flax fly about the room; my throat and nose are full. I should think
this would kill a fellow off before long.”

  “It does,” said the keeper, coolly.

  “And what’s that horrible smell? Faugh--it makes me sick.”

  “That? Oh, that’s the oil used in the machinery.”

  “Why the fury don’t you ventilate, then?” asked Mr. Scraggs, thinking
more of his _own_ lungs than the prisoners’, adding, with a laugh, as he
recollected himself, “I don’t suppose the Governor of your State is
particular on that p’int;” then, with another stare at Percy, he said,
“they say he seduced old Ford’s daughter before he stole the money.”

  The words had hardly left his lips, when, with a bound like a panther,
Percy instantly felled him to the earth, the blood spouting from his own
mouth and nostrils with the violence of his passion.

  Scraggs lay for some hours insensible, though not dangerously wounded,
and Percy was led off in irons, to reflect on this new misery in
solitary confinement.


  “I stepped in to inquire after poor Mary, this morning,” said a
neighbor of Lucy Ford. “Poor dear! she’s to be pitied!”

  They who have suffered from the world’s malice, know that the most
simple words may be made to convey an insult, by the tone in which they
are uttered. Lucy Ford was naturally unsuspicious, but there was
something in Miss Snip’s tone which grated harshly on her ear.

  “I regret to say Mary is no better,” Lucy replied, with her usual
gentle manner. “If I could persuade her to take more nourishment, I
should be glad; but she sits rocking to and fro, seemingly unconscious
of every thing.”

  “I should like to see the poor dear,” said Miss Snip.

  Lucy hesitated; then blushing, as if she felt ashamed of her doubts,
she led the way to Mary’s room. Every thing about it bore marks of the
taste of the occupant. There lay her silent guitar; there a half
finished drawing; here a book with the pearl folder still between the
leaves, where she and Percy had left it. The beautiful tea-rose he had
given her, drooped its buds in the window, for want of care, and the
canary’s cage was muffled, lest its song should quicken painful
memories. And there sat Mary, as her mother had said, rocking herself to
and fro, with her hands crossed listlessly on her lap, her blue-veined
temples growing each day more startlingly transparent.

  “Quite heart-rending, I declare,” said Miss Snip, “and as if the poor
dear hadn’t enough to bear, just think of the malice of people. I said
it was a shame and that of course nobody would believe it of Miss Mary,
and I never spoke of it, except to lawyer Beadle’s wife, and one or two
of our set; but a rumor is a rumor, and when it is once set rolling, it
has got to go to the bottom of the hill; but nobody, I’m sure, that ever
knew Miss Mary, would believe she would be seduced by Percy Lee!”

  “Lord-a-mercy! you don’t suppose she heard me?” exclaimed Miss Snip,
as Mary fell forward upon the floor.

  “Cursed viper!” shouted Jacob Ford, emerging from the ante-room, and
unceremoniously ejecting Miss Snip through the door. “Cursed viper!”

  “That’s what I call pretty treatment, now,” muttered Miss Snip, as she
stopped in the hall, to settle her false curls; “very pretty
treatment--for a disinterested act of neighborly kindness. Philanthropy
never is rewarded with any thing but cuffs in this world, but I shan’t
allow it to discourage me. I know that I have my mission here below,
whether I have the praise of men or not. All great reformers are
abused--that’s one consolation. I’ll step over to Mrs. Bunce’s now, and
see if it _is_ true that her husband takes a drop too much. They _do_
say so, but I don’t believe a word of it.”

       *       *       *       *       *

  “Lucy,” said Jacob--and the poor old man’s limbs shook beneath
him--“this must be the last arrow in the quiver. Nothing can come after
this. Let her be, Lucy,”--and he withdrew his wife’s hands, as she
bathed Mary’s temples--“let her be: ’tain’t no use to rouse her up to
her misery--to kill her by inches this way. I am ready to lie down side
of her. Lucy--I couldn’t muster heart to tell you, till a worse blow
came, that we are beggars. ’Tain’t no matter now.”

  “God be merciful!” said Lucy, overwhelmed with this swift accumulation
of trouble.

  “Yes, you may well say that. Just enough left to keep us from starving.
My heart has been with _her_, you see,” said Jacob, looking at Mary,
“and my head hasn’t been clear about things, as it used to be, and so it
has come to this. I wouldn’t mind it, if she only--” and Jacob dropped
his head hopelessly upon his breast. Then raising it again, and wiping
his eyes, as he looked at Mary, he said: “She never will look more like
an angel than she does now. I thought she’d live to close these old
eyes, and that my grand-children would play about my knee, but you see
how it has gone, Lucy.”

       *       *       *       *       *

  The red flag of the auctioneer, so often the signal of distress,
floated before Jacob Ford’s door. Strange feet roved over the old house;
strange eyes profaned the household gods. Careless fingers tested the
quality of Mary’s harp and guitar; and voices which in sunnier days had
echoed through those halls in blandest tones, now fell upon the ear,
poisonous with cold malice. When once the pursuit is started, and the
game scented, every hound joins in the cry; each fierce paw must have
its clutch at the quivering heart, each greedy tongue lap up the ebbing
life-blood. Never was beauty’s crown worn more winningly, more
unobtrusively, less triumphantly, than by Mary Ford; but to those whom
nature had less favored, it was the sin never to be forgiven; and so
fair lips _hoped_ the stories were not true about her, while they
reiterated them at every street corner; and bosom friends, when inquired
of as to their truth, rolled up their eyes, sighed like a pair of
bellows, and with a deprecating wave of the hand, replied, in melancholy
tones, “don’t ask _me_,” thus throwing the responsibility upon the
listener to construe it into little or much; pantomimic looks and
gestures not yet having been pronounced indictable by the statute book;
others simply nodded their heads, in a mysterious manner, as if they had
it at their charitable option to send the whole family to perdition,
with a monosyllable.


  Jacob Ford’s new home was a little cottage, just on the outskirts of
the city; for Lucy said, “maybe the flowers, and the little birds, and
the green grass might tempt Mary out of doors, where the wind might fan
her pale cheek.” It was beautiful to see Lucy stifling her own sorrow,
while she moved about, performing uncomplainingly the household
drudgery. Mary would sit at the window, twisting her curls idly over
her fingers, or leaning out, as if watching for Percy. Sometimes she
would sit on the low door-step, when the stars came out, with her head
in Jacob’s lap, while his wrinkled fingers strayed soothingly over her
temples. She seldom or never spoke; did mechanically what she was bid,
except that she drew shuddering back, when they would have led her
across the threshold. Once she wept when Jacob brought her a violet,
which he found under the cottage window. Jacob said, “dear heart! why
should a little blossom make the poor thing cry?” Lucy’s womanly heart
better solved the riddle: it was Percy’s favorite flower.

  Their rustic neighbors leaned over each other’s fences, and wondered
“who on airth them Fords was,” and why “the old man didn’t take no
interest in fixin’ his lot. The trees wanted grafting, the grass wanted
mowing, the gooseberries were all over mildew, the strawberries, choked
with weeds; and it did really ’pear to them as though the old fellow
must be ’ither a consarned fool, or an idiot, to let things run out that
way. And the poor sick girl, she looked like a water-lily--so white, so
bowed down; why didn’t they put her into a shay, and drive her out, to
bring a little color into her waxen cheeks?”

  The thrifty housewives said, “it was clear to them that the old lady
hadn’t _her_ wits, narry more than the old man, for she left her
clothes’-line out all night, when every body knew that dew and rain
would rot it; but what could you expect from shiftless city folks?”

  For all this the country people were kind-hearted. New neighbors did
not grow on every bush. Topics were scarce in Milltown, and every new
one was hunted down like a stray plum in a boarding-school pudding. Yes,
you might have gone further, and found worse people than the
Milltown-ites. The little sun-burnt children learned to loiter on their
way to school, “to pick a nosegay for the pretty pale lady.” Widow
Ellis, under the hill, picked her biggest strawberries, and put them in
a tempting little basket, covered with green leaves, for her curly-pated
Tommy to carry to “poor Miss Mary.” Miss Trodchom baked an extra loaf of
’lection-cake, “in hopes the Fords’ daughter might nibble a bit, poor
thing.” And farmer Jolly dropped his whip on purpose, over Jacob’s
fence, to get a chance to tell the old man “that he had a mare as was as
easy as a cradle, and a prettyish side-saddle that the sick girl might
have, and welcome, if she took a notion.” And Mr. Parish, the minister,
came, but he could not make much of Jacob, who told him “that if it was
religion to be willing to see one’s own flesh and blood suffer, he did
not want it.”

  Poor old Jacob! Every earthly reed had broken beneath him, his
unsteady steps were tottering toward the grave, and yet he threw aside
the only sure Staff. He did not know, poor old man, so gradually had his
heart hardened by contact with the world, “that it is easier for a
camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the
kingdom of God.” Through no rift in the dark cloud which shadowed him,
could he see bright Mercy’s sunbeam. One by one the lights had gone out
in his sky, and still he groped about, blind to the rays of Bethlehem’s
star. Poor old Jacob!

       *       *       *       *       *

  It was Sabbath morning. Jacob stood at his cottage door, gazing out.
Each tiny blade of grass bent quivering under its glistening dew-drop.
The little ground-birds on the gravel walk were picking up their early
breakfast; the robins were singing overhead. The little swallows flew
twittering round the cottage eaves. The leaves were rustling with their
mysterious music. The silver mist wreathed playfully over the
hill-sides, whose summits lay bathed in sunshine. Every thing seemed
full of joyous life. Where was the Master hand which regulated all that
harmony? The birds sang--the leaves danced--the brooks sparkled--the bee
hummed--why did He make _man_ only to suffer? It was all a riddle to
poor Jacob. He took his staff, and sauntered away under the drooping
lindens. The Sabbath bell was calling the simple villagers to church.
Across the meadows, down the grassy lane--the rosy maiden, the bent old
man, and the lisping little child. Jacob looked after them as they went.
Jacob never had been to church--not since he was a little child. Sunday
he always posted his books, squared up his accounts, wrote business
letters and the like of that; shortening the day at both ends by getting
up later and going to bed earlier. Sunday to him was no different from
any other day in the week--except that he transferred his business from
his counting-room to his parlor; and yet--here he was, leaning on his
staff, before the village church, almost wishing to go in with its
humble people. He looked about as if he expected somebody to be
astonished that Jacob Ford should be standing so near a church door; but
nobody seemed to notice it, or look at all surprised. By-and-by he crept
on a little further, and seated himself on a stone bench in the porch,
with his chin upon his staff. The butterfly and the bee passed in and
out; even the little birds flew in at the church door, and out at the
open window; and still old Jacob sat there--he could scarcely have told
why. Now he hears the choir sing,

     “Jesus, I my cross have taken,
        All to leave, and follow Thee;
        Thou from hence my all shalt be.

     “Though the world despise and leave me,
        They have left my Saviour too;
      Human hearts and hopes deceive me,
        Thou art not like them, untrue.”

  As the song died away, old Jacob’s tears flowed down his cheeks; the
words soothed his troubled spirit like a mother’s lullaby.

  “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest.”

  Who promised that?

  How did the minister know how “heavy laden” was Jacob’s spirit?

  How did _he_ know that for sixty years he had been drawing water from
broken cisterns? Chasing shadows even to the grave’s brink?

  How did _he_ know that on that balmy Sabbath morning, his heart was
aching for _something_ to lean on that would not pass away?

  “Come unto me.”

  Old Jacob took his staff, and tottered out into the little church-yard
He did not know he was praying, when his soul cried out, “Lord help me;”
but still his lips kept murmuring it, as he passed down the grassy road,
and under the drooping lindens, for each time he said it, his heart
seemed to grow lighter; each time it seemed easier for old Jacob to
“come.” And so he entered his low doorway, and as he stooped to kiss his
daughter’s cheek, the bitterness seemed to have gone from out his heart,
and he felt that he could forgive even Percy, for His sake of whom he
had just so recently craved forgiveness.

  “What is it?” asked Lucy, awed by the strange expression of Jacob’s
face, and laying her hand tenderly upon his arm; “what is it, Jacob?”

  “Peace!” whispered the old man, reverently; “God’s peace--here Lucy;”
and he laid his hand on his heart.

  Lucy took old Jacob’s staff and set it in the corner. Good, kind Lucy!
She did not think when she did so, that he would need it no more. She
did not know when the sun went down that night, that death’s dark shadow
fell across her cottage threshold. She did not know, poor Lucy, when she
slumbered away the night hours so peacefully by his side, that, leaning
on a surer Staff, old Jacob had passed triumphantly through the dark
valley; and when at length the little twittering sparrows woke her with
their morning song, and she looked into the old man’s cold, still face,
the pale lips, though they moved not, seemed to whisper, “Peace,
Lucy--God’s peace.”


  “Is it possible you care for that girl yet, Tom? A rejected lover,
too? Where’s your spirit, man? Pshaw--there’s many a fairer face than
Mary Ford’s; besides, she is more than half crazy. Are you mad, Tom? You
wouldn’t catch me sighing for a girl who had cried her eyes out for the
villainy of my rival.”

  “Curse him!” said Tom Shaw, striking his boots with a light cane he
held in his hand; “_he_ is safe enough, at any rate, for some time to
come; good for a couple more years, I hope, for striking that fellow in
prison. When he comes out, if he ever does, he will find his little bird
in my nest. Half-witted or whole-witted, it matters little to me. I am
rich enough to please my fancy, and the girl’s face haunts me.”

  “Pooh!” said Jack; “you are just like a spoiled child--one toy after
another, the last one always the best. I know you--you’ll throw this
aside in a twelvemonth; but marriage, let me tell you, my fine fellow,
is a serious joke.”

  “Not to me,” said Tom, “for the very good reason that I consider it
dissolved when the parties weary--or at any rate, I shall act on that
supposition, which amounts to the same thing, you know.”

  “Not in law,” said Jack.

  “Nonsense,” replied Tom; “I am no fool; trust me for steering my bark
clear of breakers. At any rate, I’ll marry that girl, if perdition comes
after it--were it only to spite Percy. How he will gnash his teeth when
he hears of it, hey? The old man is dead, and the old woman is left
almost penniless. I’ll easily coax her into it. In fact, I mean to drive
out there this very afternoon. Mary Ford shall be Mrs. Tom Shaw, d’ye

       *       *       *       *       *

  “Good day, Pike! Haven’t got a pitchfork you can lend a neighbor, have
ye? Ours is broke clean in two; I’m dreadful hard put to it for
horseflesh, or I would drive to the village and buy a new one. You see
that pesky boy of mine has lamed our mare; it does seem to me, Pike,
that boys allers will be boys--the more I scold at him, the more it
don’t do no good.”

  “And the more it won’t,” said the good-natured farmer Rice. “Scolding
never does any good no how--the boy is good enough by natur’--good as
you was, I dare say, when you was his age. I wouldn’t give a cent for a
boy that hain’t no friskiness about him, no sperrit like; but you see
you don’t know how to manage him. You are allers scolding, just as you
say. It’s ‘John, go weed those parsnips; ten to one, you careless dog,
you’ll pull up the parsnips instead of the weeds;’--or, ‘John, go carry
that corn to mill; ten to one, you’ll lose it out of the wagon going.’ I
tell you, Pike, it is enough to discourage any lad, such a constant
growling and pecking; now I want my boys to love me when they grow up. I
don’t want them glad to see the old man’s back turned. I don’t want them
happier any where than at their own home. That’s the way drunkards and
profligates are made--that’s the way the village tavern thrives. I tell
you, Pike, if you lace up natur too tight, she’ll bust out somewhere.
Better draw it mild.”

  “O, don’t talk to me, neighbor,” said Rice, impatiently. “Them’s
modern notions; thrash children, I say. When I was a lad, if I did my
duty, it was well; if I didn’t, I knew what to expect. It is well enough
for your children to love you; of course they oughter, when you’ve
brought them into the world; but I say they’ve got to mind, _any_ how;
‘obey your parents;’ that’s it; plain as preaching.”

  “Yes,” said farmer Rice, “I believe in that; but there’s another verse
in the same book, that runs this way--‘Parents provoke not your children
to anger, lest they be discouraged.’”

  “Well--well,” said Mr. Pike, uneasily, “I hate argufying, as I do bad
cider. Your neighbor, Mr. Ford, dropped off sudden like, didn’t he?
What’s the matter of him?”

  “Some say one thing--some another; but I think, neighbor, it was just
here. That ere old man has been in harness these sixty years--it was a
sort of second natur to him to be _active_. Well, he was taken right out
of the whirl and hubbub of the city, where people can’t hardly stop long
enough to bury one another, and sot right down in this quiet place,
where there’s nothing a-going but frogs and crickets, with nothing to do
but to brood over his troubles. Well, you see such a somerset at his
time o’ life wan’t the thing; of course it upsot him. He’d lean over
this fence, and lean over that, and put on his hat, and take it off, and
walk a bit, and sit down a bit, and act just like an old rat in a trap,
trying to gnaw his way out. It was just as if you should pull up that
old oak-tree, that has grown in that spot till its roots strike out half
a mile round, and set it out in some foreign sile; it wouldn’t
thrive--of course not.”

  “No,” said Mr. Pike, “I see, I see--it would be just so with me, if I
was set down where _he_ came from--that etarnal rumbling and whiz buzz
would drive me clean distracted. The last time I staid in the city over
night, I thought every minute the last day had come, there was such a
tearin’ round. But what’s become of the old woman and her sick darter?”

  “_She_ took it hard--she did--but the girl is sort of
image-like--don’t feel nothing, I reckon. Pretty, too--it’s a nation
pity. They’ve got enough left to keep them alive, milk and fresh air,
like the rest on us. _I_ don’t want no better fare. There’s some talk,
so my old woman says, about a fellow who drives out here, who is going
to marry the girl;--nothing but woman’s gabble, I guess; you know if
they didn’t talk they wouldn’t say nothing.”

  “Fact,” said Mr. Pike, profoundly, “I often think on’t; but come, I
can’t stay prating here all day--where’s the pitchfork you was going to
lend me?”

  “There it is,” said Mr. Rice; “and now remember what I told you about
that boy of yourn; there’s more good in that Zekiel, than you think
for;--remember now, a little oil makes machinery work easy, Pike.”

  “Yes, oil of birch,” said farmer Pike, chuckling at his own wit, and
cracking his horse-whip at a happy little vagrant robin, as he went
through the gate and down the road.


  Summer had danced by--the chill wind whistled through the trees--the
nuts were dropping in showers, and the leaves rusted beneath the
traveler’s foot; the golden-rod and barberry clusters alone remained to
deck the hedges, and the striped snake crawled out on the rock to sun
himself only at midday. Widow Ford’s cottage looked lonely and desolate,
stripped of its leafy screen; but the squirrels might be seen leaping
from tree to tree as merrily as if old Jacob still sat watching them in
the door-way. Lucy moved about, sweeping, dusting, replenishing the
fire--but the silver hair glistened on her temples, and her step was
slow and weary. Now and then she would lean against the mantel, and look
at Mary--and then wander restlessly into the little bedroom--then, back
again to the mantel.

  “You still think it best to consummate this marriage?” said the
clergyman to Lucy, in a low voice.

  “Only that I would not leave her alone,” said Lucy, tremulously. “I
shall soon be in the church-yard by the side of Jacob. Mr. Shaw knows
all--he loves her, and wishes to make her his wife. I believe he will be
kind to her. As for Mary, poor thing, you see how it is,” and she
glanced at her daughter, who sat with locked fingers--her long lashes
sweeping her colorless cheek. One might have taken her for some
beautiful statue, with those faultless marble features, and that
motionless attitude.

  Mr. Parish sighed, as he looked at Mary; but he had little time to
discuss matters, if that were his intention, for the sound of
approaching carriage-wheels announced Mr. Shaw.

  “At twelve, then, to-morrow,” said he, as he took up his hat, “if you
are of the same mind, I will perform the ceremony as you desire.”

  Mr. Parish walked home in a very thoughtful mood. Through his
acquaintances in the city, he had learned the history of the family. He
knew the length and breadth of the shadow which had fallen across their
hearth-stone. He saw that it was true, as Lucy had said, that her own
strength was fast failing; still it seemed to him sacrilege to bestow
Mary’s hand in marriage, when her heart was so benumbed and dead. He
would have offered her a shelter in his own house, had he been master of
it; but, unfortunately, he had married a lady who lost no opportunity to
remind him that her dowry of twenty thousand dollars was payment in full
for the total abnegation of his free will. This was not the first
occasion on which the clanking of this gentleman’s golden fetters had
sounded unmusically in his reverend ears; in truth, he would much have
preferred his liberty, even at the expense of eking out a small salary
by farming, as did the neighboring country clergy. Mrs. Parish lost no
opportunity to remind her husband that he was sold, by such pleasant
remarks as the following: That it was time _her_ house was re-painted,
or _her_ barn re-roofed, or _her_ carry-all re-cushioned. When she felt
_unusually_ hymeneal, she would say, “Mr. Parish, you can use _my_
horses to-day, if you will drive carefully.” That she invariably and
sweetly deferred to her husband’s opinion in company, was no proof of
the absence of a private conjugal understanding, that he was to consider
himself merely her echo.

  Little did his brother clergymen who exchanged with him in their
thread-bare suits of black, dream of the price at which his pleasant
parsonage surroundings were purchased. Little did they dream, when they
innocently brought along their wives and babies on such occasions, the
suffering it entailed on “brother Parish.”

  No, poor simple souls, they went home charmed with the hospitality of
their host and hostess, charmed with their conjugal happiness, and
marveling as they returned to their own houses, what made their rooms
seem so much smaller, and their fare so much more frugal than before.
Had they been clairvoyantly endowed, they might have seen brother
Parish, after he had smilingly bowed them down the nicely rolled gravel
walk to their wagons, return meekly to the parlor, to be reminded for
the hundredth time, by Mrs. Parish, of that twenty thousand dollar
obligation. Well might personal feelings come in, to strengthen his
ministerial scruples, lest he should join carelessly in wedlock, hands
which death only could unclasp.

       *       *       *       *       *

  “He oughter be ashamed of hisself marrying that poor crazed thing,
even if the old lady is willing,” said farmer Jones’ wife, as Tom Shaw’s
smiling face peered out of the carriage window, on his wedding day. “It
hardens the heart awful to live in the city; riches can’t make that poor
cretur happy; a pebble stun and a twenty dollar piece, are all one to
her. Now my daughter Louizy is no beauty; she is clumsy and freckled,
and brown as a butternut; but she is too fair in my eyes, to be sold
that way. I wish I knew what crazed that Mary Ford. Ah--here comes
parson Parish; maybe I’ll get it out of him.”

  “Good day, sir--met the bridal carriage, I suppose, on the road--queer
wedding that, of Miss Mary’s. Is it true, that Squire Ford’s house took
fire, and Miss Mary lost her wits by the fright?”

  “I never heard of it,” replied the parson--taking the Maltese cat in
his lap, and manipulating her slate-colored back.

  Mrs. Jones _might_ have added, “Nor I either,” but nothing daunted,
she tried another question.

  “Scarlet fever p’rhaps, parson? that allers leaves suthing behind it,
most commonly. My George would have been left blind, likely, if he
hadn’t been left deaf. They say it was scarlet fever that done it.”

  “Do they?” asked the parson.

  “Confound it,” thought Mrs. Jones; “I’m sure the man knows, for he was
very thick there at the cottage. I’ll see if my gooseberry wine won’t
loosen his tongue a little;” and she handed the minister a glass.

  “Sometimes I’ve wondered, parson, what made old Ford walk round so
like an unquiet sperrit. _He_ didn’t do nothing he hadn’t oughter, did
he? It wasn’t that that crazed Miss Mary, I s’pose? That old man got up
and sat down fifty times a minute.”

  “So I have heard,” answered the impenetrable parson, sipping his wine.

  “She wasn’t crossed in love nor nothing, was she?” asked the
persevering querist; “that sometime plays witchwork with a woman.”

  “Oh, that reminds me,” said the parson. “I hear Zekiel Jones is
engaged to your Louisa.”

  “My Louizy!” screamed Mrs. Jones, walking straight into the trap; “My
Louizy engaged to Zekiel Jones! a fellow who don’t know a hoe-handle
from a hay-cutter. I guess there’ll be a tornady in this house afore
that marriage comes off. I do wish people would mind their own business,
and not meddle with what don’t consarn ’em. Now who told you that,

  “Well, I really don’t remember,” replied the minister; “but you know
it matters little, so there’s no truth in it,” and dexterously escaping
through the dust he had raised, he bowed himself down the garden walk;
while Mrs. Jones stood with her arms a-kimbo, in the doorway,
ejaculating: “Zekiel Jones and my Louizy--a fellow who goes to sleep in
the middle of the day in haying time, and a gal who can churn forty
pounds of butter a day! Gunpowder and milk! I guess so.”


  “How shall we manage to kill time to-day, Jack?” asked Tom Shaw;
“race-course--billiards--club--pistol gallery?”

  “Kill time! You--a bridegroom of six months! Well, you can’t say you
weren’t warned. You remember I told you you would soon weary of your new
toy. A six-months’ bridegroom!” and Tom laughed merrily.

  “Long enough to make love to a statue, were it ever so faultless,”
replied Tom, with a yawn. “I’m bored to death, Jack, and I don’t care
who knows it. My mother-in-law, who, to do her justice, is clever
enough, strolls over the house like a walking tomb-stone. My wife is as
lifeless as if half the women in town were not dying for me. It’s cursed
monotonous; hang me if I’m not sick of it.”

  “Does your wife never speak to you?” asked Jack.

  “Never,” said Tom; “there she sits in her chair, playing with her
fingers, or else at the window, looking this way, and that, as if she
were expecting somebody; when she does so, it seems to worry the old
lady, who looks nervously at me, and tries to coax her away--the Lord
only knows why; and two or three times I have seen her coax away a faded
flower that Mary has a fancy for holding between her fingers. It’s all
Greek to me. Confound it, I feel as if I were in a nest of lunatics. It
makes me as nervous as the devil. Come, let’s be off. What has become of
Susy, the little ballet-girl? Did she take my marriage to heart?”

  “Not she, the delicious little monkey; she tossed her pretty head, and
said with an arch smile: ‘Mark what I say: he’ll be back to me in six

  “Pretty prophet!” replied Tom.

  The two young men locked arms and sauntered down the crowded street,
whiffing their cigars; now attracted by some brilliant shop-window, now
bandying jests with those miserable women, who, but for just such as
they, might have lifted their womanly brows to the starry sky--pure as
when first kissed by a mother’s loving lips. Pale seamstresses glided
by, unguarded, save by Him who noticeth the sparrow’s fall. Young men of
their own age, weary of the slowly accumulating gains of honest toil,
looked enviously upon their delicately kidded hands, fine apparel, and
care-for-naught air. Passing, at length, the long line of carriages in
front of the opera house, they disappeared under the lighted vestibule,
and took possession of one of the boxes.

  Fair young girls were there, unveiling to the libidinous eye, at
Fashion’s bidding, charms of which they should have been chary to the
moon. Faded belles throwing out bait at which nobody even nibbled.
Married men groaned, looked at their watches, and leaning back in their
seats, computed the rise and fall of stocks; married women gazed
anxiously around to see if their laces, diamonds, or cashmeres were
eclipsed by their neighbors’. Every body was bored to death, stifled by
the heat, blinded, by the gas, and scientifically inappreciative of the
music, but every body willing to endure ten times as much, rather than
not be “in the fashion.” The moon, to be sure, silvered the pretty
fountain in the park, close by, and the cool, sweet evening breeze
played through the blossoming trees; but the “working people” were
stretched upon its benches; the poor man’s child laid his soft cheek to
the cool grass; the ragged little urchin, escaping from the stifled air
of the noisome lane, threw up his brimless hat in the gravel walk. The
parks were plebeian, opera boxes were beyond the reach of “the vulgar.”

  But look! Now the audience show signs of animation. All is astir. See,
the ballet! A fleecy cloud sails in, enveloping “Susy.” Susy, the
favorite pro tem.--Susy, with her jetty locks, creamy skin, and dimpled
shoulders. Susy, with her pretty ankles and rounded waist. Susy, with
her jeweled arms and rose-banded hair. Susy, with her rounded bosom and
twinkling feet. Young men and old men level their glasses in breathless
admiration, as Susy languishingly twirls, and tip-toes, and pirouettes.
Young girls, who have long since ceased blushing at such exhibitions,
wish, for the nonce, that _they_ were Susy, as bouquets and diamond
rings are thrown upon the stage. Tom Shaw’s eyes sparkle, and relieving
his enthusiasm by some expressive expletives, he leaves Jack for a
behind-the-scene _tête-à-tête_ with the _danseuse_.


     “Day dawned--within a curtained room,
      Filled to faintness with perfume,
      A lady lay at point of doom.
      Morn broke--an infant saw the light,
      But for the lady, fair and bright,
      She slumbered in undreaming night.”

  Life and death had passed each other on the threshold! Lucy Ford’s
tears were the baptism of Mary’s motherless babe. The poor weary heart,
whose pulse had beat so unevenly above it, had ceased its flutterings.
It was nothing new to see Mary lie with marble face, folded hands, and
softly-fringed, closed eyes. But, _sometimes_, the thin hand had been
kindly outstretched toward Lucy; _sometimes_, the glossy head had raised
itself, and leaned tenderly on the maternal bosom; _sometimes_, the blue
eye had lingered lovingly on her wrinkled face. Small comfort, God
knows--and yet it was much to poor Lucy. She looked at the little
gasping, helpless thing before her--a tenant already for her rifled
heart--a new claimant for her love and care. Oh, how could she else but
welcome it? With soft folds she wrapped its fragile limbs, with
motherly care she soothed it on her sunken breast, and with a prayer to
God, as she pressed her lips to Mary’s brow, she promised Death to be
faithful to the trust of Life.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Days and nights--weeks, months and years came and went, blanching the
prisoner’s lip and cheek, but failing to subdue a love which yet had not
saved him from incurring a doom so terrible. Had Mary forgotten him?
for, since that dreadful, happy day, when he clasped her in his cell, he
had heard nothing save the damning sneer of the villain Scraggs. Perhaps
she was dead--and his bloodless lip quivered at the thought.
Nay--worse--perhaps they might have married her, in her despair, to
another. Percy tossed on his narrow cot in agony.

  He even welcomed the day-light, which recalled him to his task. Oh,
those long, long nights, when locked in his cell, remorse kept him
silent company! or worse, the dreary, idle Sunday, when taken out once
to chapel, then remanded back to his dark cell, he lay thinking of the
pleasant Sabbaths he had passed with Mary, in the little parlor, on the
sofa by her side. He could see her now, in the pretty blue dress she
wore to please him; the ring he had given her, sparkling on her white
hand--her glossy hair, worn the very way _he_ liked to see it, the book
opened at the passage _he_ liked best, the little flower pressed between
its leaves, because _he_ gave it. Then the little arbor in the
garden--where they used to sit the pleasant Sabbath evenings--the song
Mary sang him there--with her head upon his breast. Oh, happiness--oh,

  Percy knew it was summer, for as he passed through the prison-yard he
saw that the green blades of grass were struggling up between the
flag-stones, and now and then, he heard the chirp of a passing bird. The
sky, too, was softly blue, and the breeze had been where clover and
daisies had bloomed, and rifled their sweetness.

  Percy looked down on his shrunken limbs, clad in his felon garb--then
on his toil-worn hands. He passed them slowly over his shaven crown.
Merciful Heaven! he--Percy Lee--Mary’s lover! Fool--thrice-accursed
fool; life--liberty--happiness--love--all laid at the feet of the
tempting fiend--for this! No tears relieved the fierce fire, which
seemed consuming his heart and brain. How long could he bear this? Was
his cell to be his grave? Once, seized with a sudden illness, he had
been taken to the prison hospital, where the doctor tried pleasant
little experiments on the subjects who came under his notice. Around him
were poor wretches, groaning under every phase of bodily and mental
discomfort. Now roused out of some Heaven-sent slumber, when it suited
the doctor to show them to visitors; or to descant upon the commencement
and probable duration of their disease, coupled with accounts of
patients who had died in those beds, and whom he _could_ have cured
under different circumstances.

  It was here that Percy shed the only tears which had moistened his
eyes since his incarceration. A party of visitors were passing through
the wards, listening to the doctor’s egotistical details, and peeping
into the different cots. A sweet little girl had strayed away from the
rest of her party, and was making her tour of childish observation
alone. Her eye fell upon Percy. She stood for a moment, gazing at him
with the intensest pity written on her sweet face. Then gliding up to
his side, she drooped her bright curls over his pillow, and placing a
flower between his fingers, she whispered, “I’ll pray to God to make you
well and let you go home.”

  “Mary! come here,” said a shrill female voice, recalling the child;
“don’t you know that is a horrid bad man! he might kill you.”

  “No, he is not,” said the little creature, confidently, with a piteous
glance of her soft, blue eyes at Percy; “no, he is not.”

  “What makes you think so?” asked one of the party.

  “I don’t know,” replied the child; “something tells me so--here;” and
she laid her hand on her breast.

  “Won’t you please let him go home?” asked she of the doctor.


  As the sweet pleader passed out, the room seemed to grow suddenly
dark, and Percy turned his face to his pillow, and wept aloud.

  Heavenly childhood! that the world should ever chill thy Christ-like
heart. That scorn should uproot pity. That suspicion should stifle love.
That selfishness should dry up thy tears, and avarice lock thine open
palm, with its vice-like grasp! Oh, weep not ye who straighten childhood
for the grave; over whose household idols the green grass waves;
heaven’s bright rain showers and spring flowers bloom. Let the bird
soar, while his song is sweetest, before one stain soil his plumage, or
with maimed wing he flutter helplessly. Let him soar. The cloud which
hides him from thy straining eye, doth it not hide him from the archer?


  “The top o’ the mornin’ to yez, Bridget,” said Pat, poking his head
into the kitchen. “Is the ould lady up yet? Sorry a plight masther was
in the night--dhrunk as a baste--and he cares no more for his own flesh
and blood than I do for a Protestant--bad ’cess to ’em.”

  “Thrue for you, Patrick, and may I niver confess again to the praste,
if his light o’ love is not misthress here before long; he is as
bould-faced about it as if poor Misthress Mary wasn’t fresh under the
sod. God rest her sowl.”

  Bridget’s prediction was not long being verified. Upholsterers were
soon in attendance, re-modeling and re-furnishing poor Mary’s
apartments, of which the pretty _danseuse_ shortly took unblushing and
triumphant possession. It was understood in the house, that her will was
to be law; and implicit obedience to the same the surest passport to
head-quarters. Poor Lucy, willing to bear any thing rather than
separation from the child--chased from one room to another--finally took
refuge with her charge in the attic, whither poor Mary’s portrait had
long since been banished. For the little Fanny’s sake, she patiently
endured every humiliation; she heeded not the careless insolence of the
new _régime_ of servants. She bore every caprice of the tyrannical
little _danseuse_. Patiently her feeble limbs tottered up stairs and
down, performing the offices of nurse and servant to her grandchild;
patiently she soothed it when ill, or amused it when fretful;
uncomplainingly she bore from her son-in-law his maudling curses, when
they passed each other on the stairs, or in the hall. Every thing--any
thing, but separation from Mary’s child, which nestled every day closer
to her heart; and whose soft eyes and glossy curls reminded her every
day more forcibly of her lost daughter. Every day she prayed to God to
spare the withered trunk till the vine which clambered round it should
gather strength to brave the winds and storms. Fanny slept securely on
her breast, while the bacchanalian song resounded through the house, and
obscene jests, and curses loud and deep, made night hideous. And when
the moonbeams penetrated the little window, and, falling upon Mary’s
portrait, revealed her in all her beauty, before the shadow had fallen
on her fair brow, or dimmed her lustrous eyes, or robbed that dimpled
mouth of its sunny smile, poor Lucy would nestle closer to little Fanny,
and pray God that so bitter a cup might pass from _her_.

  Dear little Fanny! with her plump little arms thrown carelessly over
her curly head, her pearly teeth just gleaming through her parted lips,
as if some kind angel even then were promising her exemption from such a

  Time crept on, blanching Lucy’s cheek to deadly paleness, tinting
Fanny’s with a lovelier rose; thinning Lucy’s silver hair, piling the
golden clusters round Fanny’s ivory brow; bending Lucy’s shrunken limbs,
rounding Fanny’s into symmetry and grace.

  True, the child never left the attic; but what place, how
circumscribed soever, will not Love beautify and brighten? True,
“mamma’s” pictured semblance responded not to the little upturned face
and lisping lips, but who shall say that age and infancy were the _only_
tenants of that lonely room?

  Fanny knew that she had a “papa” somewhere in the house, but “papa”
was always “sick,” or “busy,” so grandmamma said; that must be the
reason why he never came up to see his little girl. Sometimes Fanny
amused herself by climbing up to the little window, overlooking the
square where a silvery fountain tossed its sparkling diamonds to the
sun, who turned them all sorts of pretty colors, and sent them quivering
back again. Little Fanny liked that! Then she saw little children
playing round the fountain, sailing their tiny boats on its bosom, and
clapping their hands gleefully when they rode safely into port. Great
shaggy Newfoundland dogs, too, jumped into the water, and swam, with
their black noses just above the surface, and ever and anon sprang out
upon the mossy bank, shaking their shaggy coats upon the more dainty
ones of mamma’s little pets, quite regardless of lace, silk, or ribbon.
It was a pretty sight, and little Fanny wanted to go to the fountain
too; but grandmamma was so feeble, and she had so much running to do up
and down stairs, that she had no strength left to walk; and then
grandmamma had to make all Fanny’s little dresses, and keep them tidy
and nice; and by the time the sun moved off of mamma’s picture in the
afternoon, she was quite ready to go to bed with little Fanny.

  Poor old grandmamma! Fanny handed her her spectacles, and a cricket to
put her poor tired feet upon, and picked up the spools of cotton when
they rolled upon the floor, and learned too to thread her needles quite
nicely, for grandmamma’s eyes were getting dim; and sometimes Fanny
would try to make the bed, but her hand was so tiny that she could not
even cover one of the small roses of its patch-work quilt. Dear little
thing! He who blessed little children, recorded of her, “She hath done
what she could.”

       *       *       *       *       *

  One day Fanny heard a great noise--a great bumping and tumbling, as if
some heavy body were falling down the stairs. Then she heard a deep
groan--and then _such_ a shriek! If she lived to be as old as grandma,
that shriek would never go out of her ears; then there was a great
running to and fro, Patrick and Bridget wrung their hands, and said
ochone! ochone! and then grandmamma’s face grew very white, as she took
Fanny by the hand and hurried down stairs; and when they got into the
lower entry, there lay a gentleman very still on the floor. A beautiful
lady was kneeling on the floor beside him, chafing his temples--but it
was of no use; feeling of his pulse--but it was quite still. Then the
beautiful lady shrieked again--oh, so dreadfully! and then she fell
beside him like one dead.

  Fanny’s grandma whispered to her, that the gentleman “was her papa,”
and that he had fallen down stairs and broken his neck--grandma did not
say that he was drunk when he did it. Fanny crept up to him, for she had
wanted so much to see her papa--so she put her little rosy face close to
his, and said, “Wake up, please, papa, and see me.” But he did not open
his eyes at all; then she put her hand on his face, and then she seemed
frightened--her little lip quivered, and she clung to her grandmother’s
dress--then some men came and carried papa up stairs, and the
maid-servants laid the beautiful lady on the sofa, in the parlor; and
she and grandma went back up into the attic--and all that day, grandma
did not seem to see mamma’s picture at all; and when Fanny came up to
her, she wept and said, “God help you--my poor lamb.”


  The bell sounded at Bluff Hill Prison, to call the prisoners to their
tasks. They passed out from their cells and crossed, two by two, the
prison-yard to their workshops. Percy and a stout negro were the last
couple in the file. Just as they were about passing in, the African, who
had received the punishment of the douche the day previous, for
dilatoriness at his task, sprang upon the officer in waiting, and seized
him by the throat. Percy, whose pugilistic science was a match for the
African’s muscle, grappled with and secured him in an instant,
receiving, as he did so, a severe bite from the fellow’s teeth, in his
left shoulder. The negro was handcuffed, and Percy carried to the
hospital, to have his wound dressed. The officer, in the flush of his
gratitude, assured him, as he left, that the case should be laid before
the governor, and would undoubtedly result in his pardon.

  Percy’s eye brightened, as he bowed his head in reply, but in truth he
took no credit for the deed; it was only following an irresistible
impulse to save the life of a fellow-creature.

  Liberty! it would be sweet! But, pshaw! why dream of it? Men were
proverbially ungrateful. Ten to one, the officer would never think of
his promise again; or if he did, the governor would lay it on the table,
to be indefinitely postponed, or forgotten, or rejected, with a thousand
other troublesome applications. No--suns would rise and set just as they
had done, and time for him would be marked only by the prison-bell, with
its clanging summons to labor. He should see, every day, as he had done,
the poor lame prisoner sunning himself in his favorite corner in the
yard--he should see the prisoners’ mattresses, hung on the rails to
air--he should see the gleam of the blacksmith’s forge, and hear the
stroke of the stonecutter’s hammer; the shuttle would fly, and the wheel
turn round. He should sit down to his wooden plate, his square bit of
salt meat, and his one potato, and drink water out of his rusty tin cup.
He should gasp out the starry nights in his stifling cell; he should
hear the rustling of silken robes, as ladies went the prison rounds, and
his heart would beat quick as he thought of Mary; he should burn forever
with the fire of remorse and shame--yet never consume; the taper would
flicker and flicker--yet never go out.

  So Percy sat carelessly down on the hospital bench, to have his wound
dressed; and listened to the asthmatic breathing of the sick man at his
side, and saw the hospital cook stirring in a cauldron some diluted
broth, and watched the doctor, as he compounded a plaster, and leisurely
smoked a cigar; and looked at a green branch which the wind ever and
anon swept across the grated window, showering its snowy blossoms, as if
in mockery, on the prison floor.

  O, no--liberty was not for him--and why should it be? Had he not
forfeited it by his own rash act?--was not his punishment just?--had he
not lost the confidence of his fellow men?--crushed the noblest and
purest heart that ever God warmed into life and love? It was all too
true, and there had been moments when he meekly accepted his punishment,
when he toiled in his prison uniform, not as if under the eye of a
taskmaster, but willingly, almost cheerfully, as if by expiatory penance
he could atone to himself for the wrong he had done that guileless
heart. O, did it still beat? and for him? for the thousandth time he
questioned. Could Mary look on him? smile on him? _love_ him still? O,
what mockery were liberty else! What mattered it how brightly the sun
shone, if it shone not on their love purified and intensified by sorrow?
What matter how green the earth, if they walked not through it side by
side? What mattered it how fresh the breeze--how blue the sky--how soft
the moonbeams--how sweet the flowers--how bright the stars--if day and
night found not their twin hearts beating like one? Better his cell
should be his tomb.


  “I like to live here,” said little Fanny, running up to Lucy, with her
sun-bonnet hanging at the back of her neck; her cheeks glowing, and her
apron full of acorns, pebbles, pine leaves, grasses and flowers; “see
here, I tied them up with a blade of grass for you, and here’s a white
clover; a great bumble bee wanted it, he buzzed and buzzed, but I ran
off with it; won’t you go with me, grandmother, and help me find a
four-leaved clover? Don’t sew any more on those old vests. Who taught
you to make vests?” asked the little chatterbox.

  “O, I learned many--many--years ago,” replied Lucy, with a sigh, as
she thought of Jacob; “and now you see, dear, what a good thing it is to
learn something useful when one is young. If I did not know how to make
these vests, I could not pay for this room we live in, you know; here,
thread my needle, darling, either the eye is too small, or my eye is too
dim; I can’t see as well as I used.”

  “I wish I could do something useful,” said Fanny, as she handed back
the needle. “I can only brush up the hearth, and fill the tea-kettle,
and pick up your spools, and thread your needle, and--what else,

  “Make this lonely old heart glad, my darling,” said Lucy, pressing her
lips to Fanny’s forehead.

  “Why didn’t my papa ever come kiss me?” asked Fanny. “Was I too
naughty for my papa to love?”

  “No--no, my darling,” said Lucy, turning away her head to restrain her
tears, “you are the best little girl that--but run away, Fanny,” said
she, fearing to trust herself to speak. “Go find grandma a pretty
four-leaved clover.”

  The child sprang up and bounded toward the door. Standing poised on
one foot on the threshold, with her little neck bending forward, she
exclaimed eagerly, “Oh, grandma, I dare not; there’s a man climbing over
the stile into the meadow, with a pack on his back; won’t he hurt me?”

  “No,” said Lucy, peering over her spectacles at the man, and then
resuming her seat, “it is only a peddler, Fanny; shops are scarce in the
country, so they go round with tapes, needles, and things, to sell the
farmers’ wives. I am glad he has come, for I want some more sewing-silk
to make these button-holes.”

  “Good day, ma’am,” said the peddler, unlading his
 pack. “Would you like to buy any thing to-day?
buy any thing to-day, ma’am?”

  “May I look?” whispered Fanny to Lucy, attracted by the bright show in
the box.

  “There’s a ribbon for your hair,” said the peddler, touching her curls
caressingly; “and here is a string of beads for your neck. You will let
me give them to you, won’t you? because I have no little girl to love;”
and his voice trembled slightly.

  “May I love him, grandma?” whispered Fanny, for there was something in
the peddler’s voice that brought tears into her eyes. “May I give him
some milk to drink, and a piece of bread?” and hardly waiting for an
answer, she flew to the cupboard, and returned with her simple lunch.

  “Thank you,” said the peddler, in a low voice, without raising his

  The sewing-silk was purchased, and the box rearranged, and strapped
up, but still the peddler lingered. Lucy, thinking he might be weary,
invited him to stop and rest awhile.

  “I will sit here on the door-step awhile, if you please, with the
little girl,” said the peddler. “Are you fond of flowers?” said he to
Fanny, again touching her shining curls.

  “Oh, yes,” she replied; “only I don’t like to go alone to get
them--the cows stare at me so with their great big eyes, and the little
toads hop over my feet, and I am afraid they will bite; they won’t bite,
will they?” asked Fanny, looking confidingly up in his face.

  “I should not think any thing could harm _you_,” replied the peddler,
drawing his fingers across his eyes.

  “What are you crying for?” asked Fanny, “’cause you haven’t any little
girl to love you?”

  “The dust, dear, in the road, quite blinded me to-day,” replied the

  “I will bring you some water for them, in my little cup,” said Fanny.
“Grandma bathes her eyes when they ache, sewing on those tiresome

  “No--no”--said the peddler, catching her by the hand as she sprang
up--“don’t go away--sit down--here--close by me--I will make a wreath of
flowers for your hair; your eyes are as blue as this violet.”

  “They are mamma’s eyes,” said Fanny. “Grandma calls them ‘mamma’s
eyes.’ We have a pretty picture of mamma--see--that’s it,” and she
bounded across the room and drew aside a calico curtain which screened
it. “There, isn’t it pretty?--why don’t you look?”

  The peddler slowly turned his head, and replied, in a husky voice,
“Yes, dear.”

  “Mamma is dead,” said Fanny, re-seating herself by his side. “What
makes you shiver? are you cold?--he is sick, grandma,” said Fanny,
running up to Lucy.

  “A touch of my old enemy, the ague, ma’am,” said the peddler,
respectfully--and Lucy returned to her needle.

  “Yes, my mamma is dead,” said Fanny. “Are you sorry my mamma is dead?
Sometimes I talk to her--grandma likes to have me; but mamma’s picture
never speaks back. Don’t you wish my mamma would speak back?” said
Fanny, looking up earnestly in his face.

  The peddler nodded--bending lower over the wreath he was twining.

  “My papa is dead, too,” said Fanny--“are you sorry my papa is dead?
Nobody loves me but grandma and God.”

  “And I”--said the peddler, touching her curls again with his fingers.

  “Why do you keep touching my hair?” asked the little chatterbox.

  “Because it is so like--oh, well--I am sure I don’t know,” said the
peddler, placing the wreath over her bright face, and touching his lips
to her forehead. “Good-by, dear, don’t forget me. I will make you a
prettier wreath sometime, shall I?”

  “O yes,” said Fanny; “let me tell grandma. Grandma is so deaf she
can’t hear us;” and the child ran back into the room to tell the news.

  “I like peddlers,” said little Fanny, as she watched her new friend
saunter slowly down the road. “He gave me this pretty wreath and this
ribbon; I am sorry he didn’t like mamma’s picture; he hardly looked at
it at all.”

  “The peddler never heard of your mamma, my darling; you must not
expect strangers to feel as you and grandma do about it.”

  “Yes,” replied Fanny, in a disappointed tone;--“but it is a pity,
because I like him. There he goes; now he has climbed the fence, and is
crossing the meadow. Good by, Mr. Peddler.”

  Yes--across the meadow, down the little grassy lane, over the
stile--far into the dim--dim woods, where no human eye could penetrate,
prostrate upon the earth, shedding such tears as manhood seldom sheds,
lay the peddler. Still in his ears lingered that bird-like voice, still
in his veins thrilled the touch of that tiny hand, and those silken
curls, in whose every glossy wave shone out Mary’s self. Mary--yet not
Mary; Mary’s child--yet not _his_ child!--And Lucy, too;--O, the sorrow
written in every furrow of that kindly face, and--O God--by whom?

  The stars glimmered through the trees, the night-winds gently rocked
the little merry birds to sleep--midnight came on with its solemn
spirit-whispers--followed the gray dawn with its misty tears, and
still--there lay the peddler, stricken, smitten, on Nature’s kindly
breast; for there, too (but all unconscious of his misery--deaf to his
penitence), lay pillowed the dear head which had erst drooped so
lovingly upon his breast.


  “Very well done; button-holes strong and even, lining smooth;
stitching, like rows of seed pearl. This is no apprentice work,” said
Mr. John Pray, as he held Lucy’s vests up to the light for a more minute
inspection. “That’s a vest, now, as is a vest; won’t disgrace John
Pray’s shop; it would gladden even the eyes of my old boss, Jacob Ford;
and mighty particular he was, too, and mighty small wages the old man
paid, as I have occasion to know. Well, I made a vow then, and thank God
I have had grace to keep it, that if ever John Pray became a master
workman, he would do as he would be done by. So, I don’t ask what wages
other tailors give; that don’t matter to me. I don’t want to die with
any body’s groans in my ears. So, when a piece of work is finished and
handed in, I say, ‘Now, John Pray, what should _you_ think was a fair
price for _you_ to receive, if _you_ had done that ’ere job?’ That’s it;
no dodging behind that question. ’Specially when a man has been through
the opera_tive_ mill himself. So, there’s your pay, Zekiel, weighed out
in that ere pair of Bible scales; and you may tell the old lady, as you
call her, that if she had served a regular apprenticeship at the trade,
she couldn’t have done better. What did you say her name was? However,
that’s no consequence--as long as she does the work well. Here’s some
more vests for her.”

  “Well, I really don’t know,” said Zekiel, “I never heern tell her
name. She’s a bran new neighbor, and as I was coming into town every day
with my cart, she axed me, civil like, if I’d bring these vests to you.
So, I brung ’em. I don’t mind doing a good turn for a fellow creetur,
now and then, specially when it ’taint no bother,” added Zekiel, with a

  “What did you spoil it for by saying that?” said John Pray. “I was
just going to clap you on the back for a clever fellow.”

  “You might go further, and clap a worse fellow on the back,” answered
Zekiel. “But I never boasts, I don’t. ’Tain’t no use. If the ministers
tell the truth, we’ve all got to be weighed in the big scales up above,
where there ain’t no false weights--bad deeds agin good deeds. Farmer
Reed, I’m thinking, will be astonished when the balance on his account
is struck. But, good day; my parsnips and cabbages ought to be in the
market, instead of wilting at your door--even though you city folks
don’t know the taste of a fresh vegetable. Good day.”


  Rain--rain--rain; patter, patter. No sunshine to help Lucy’s purblind
eyes in stitching the dark vests; no sunshine to kiss open the
buttercups for Fanny. The birds took short and hasty flights from tree
to tree; the farmers slouched their hats over their faces, and whipped
up their teams; the little school children hurried back and forth with
their satchels, without stopping to look for chipmunks or for
ground-birds’ nests; the bells on the baker’s cart lost their usual
merry tinkle, and the old fishman’s horn, as he went his Friday round,
gave forth a discordant, spiritless whine.

  Little Fanny had righted her grandmother’s work-basket, read “Jack and
his Bean-Stalk,” made houses on the slate, put the black kitten to sleep
in the old barrel, blown soap bubbles, till she was tired, in the tin
bowl, and had finally crept up on the little cot bed and fallen asleep.

  Lucy sat back in her chair, and began counting over the money Zekiel
had brought her. It would relieve their present necessities. Fanny
should have some new clothes out of it, when farmer Smith’s rent was
paid. But the future? Lucy’s eyes were growing dimmer every day, and her
limbs more feeble. She might drop off suddenly, and then who would
befriend poor little Fanny? What lessons of sorrow had that loving
little heart to learn? By what thorny path would she thread life’s
toilsome journey?

  Dear little Fanny! She could no more live without love than flowers
without sunshine. That _she_ should ever weep tears, that no kindly hand
should wipe away; that she should hunger or thirst--shiver with winter’s
cold--faint under summer heat; that a harsh voice should ever drive the
blood from her lip or cheek--that her round limbs should bend with
premature toil--that sin should tempt her helplessness--that sorrow
should invite despair--that wrong should ever seem right to Mary’s
child! Poor Lucy bowed her head and wept.

  The peddler looked in through the little casement window. He saw the
falling tears, he saw Lucy’s sorrowful gaze at the rosy little dreamer.
He needed no explanation of the tableau. He knocked at the door; Lucy’s
tones were tremulous, as she bade him come in.

  “I thought you might be wanting some more silk,” said he,
respectfully, with his eyes fixed upon little Fanny.

  “Sit down--sit down,” said Lucy; for the tones of his voice were
kindly, and her heart in its loneliness craved sympathy. “It is dull
weather we have, sir; one don’t mind it when all is right _here_,” and
she laid her hand on her heart.

  “True,” said the peddler, in a low voice, still gazing at Fanny.

  “The child sleeps,” said Lucy. “It was of her I was thinking when you
came in; it would be very bitter to die and leave her alone, sir;” and
Lucy’s tears flowed again.

  “Have you no relatives--no friends, to whom you could intrust her?”
asked the peddler, with his eyes bent on the ground.

  “None, God help us,” replied Lucy.

  “Sir,” and Lucy drew her chair nearer to the peddler, “a great sorrow
may sometimes be in the heart, when smiles are on the face.”

  The peddler nodded, without trusting himself to speak.

  “This poor heart has borne up until now, with what strength it might;
but now”--and she glanced at little Fanny--“O, sir--if I could but take
her with me.”

  “God will care for her,” said the peddler, stooping to remove his hat,
that Lucy might not see his emotion.

  “Sometimes I feel that,” replied Lucy; “and then again--O, sir,
trouble makes the heart so fearful. My poor daughter--she was our idol,
sir--the sunbeam in our home; so good--so beautiful--so light-hearted,
till the trouble came. It was like a lightning bolt, sir--it scathed and
withered in one moment what was before so fresh and fair; it blighted
all our hopes, it blackened our hearth-stone, it killed my husband--poor
Jacob. Pardon me, sir, I talk as if you had known our history. It was
Mary’s lover, sir; he was taken up for swindling, at our very door;--and
yet I loved the lad--for the ground she walked on he loved--for Mary’s

  “_She_ forgave him?” asked the peddler, in a voice scarcely audible.

  “She?--poor dear--she? All the world could not have made her believe
ill of him. She? Why, sir, she would sit at the window for hours,
watching the way he used to come. It crazed her, poor thing; and then
she would come and go just as she was bid. Her father saw her fade, day
by day, and cursed _him_;--he forgot business--every thing went
wrong--one way and another our money went, and then Jacob died.”

  “He forgave _him_--your daughter’s lover, before he died?” asked the
peddler, tremulously.

  “You have a kind heart, sir,” said Lucy. “Yes, Jacob’s heart softened
at the last;--he said we all needed God’s mercy. His last words were

  “God be thanked,” murmured the peddler; then adding, quickly, “it must
have made _you_ so much happier; you say you loved the lad.”

  “Yes,” said Lucy, “_even now_. We all err, sir. He was only
nineteen--young to marry; but Mary’s heart was bound up in him. He
didn’t mean it, sir--I don’t know how it was. God help us all.

  “Well, we buried Jacob; then we had none to look to--Mary and I. We
were poor. I was feeble. Then Mary’s lover came--the rich Mr. Shaw. You
are ill, sir?”

  “No--no,” replied the peddler; “go on--your story interests me.”

  “Well, he wanted to marry Mary, although he saw how it was. It was all
one to her, you know, sir. She was crazed like--though so sweet and
gentle. I did it for the best, sir,” said Lucy, mournfully. “I thought
when I died Mary would have a home.”

  “Go on,” said the peddler. “He treated her kindly?” he asked, with a
dark frown.

  “For a little,” answered Lucy. “He wearied after a while. I might have
known it--I was to blame, sir--her heart was broken. When the babe
opened its eyes, she closed her’s, and I _alone_ mourned for her.”

  “O, God!” groaned the peddler.

  “It moves you, sir,” said Lucy; “perhaps you, too, have known

  The peddler bowed his head without replying.

  “Then, sir, he brought a gay young thing into the house--his
mistress--not his wife. He never looked upon his child; he cursed
me and it. I gave it our name; I called it Fanny Ford; and we
crept away, the babe and I, up in the attic;--then all was
confusion--extravagance--ruin;--then he died, sir--and since--you see us
here--you know now, sir, why I, leaning over the grave’s brink, yet
shrink back and cling to life for _her_ sake,” and she looked at Fanny.

  “Would you trust her with me?” asked the peddler, with his eyes bent
upon the ground. “I am all alone in the world--I have none to love--none
who love me--I am poor, but while I have a crust, she shall never want.”

  “It is a great charge,” replied Lucy. “If you should weary, sir?”

  “Then may God forget me,” said the peddler, earnestly, kneeling at
Lucy’s feet.

  Lucy bent on him a gaze searching as truth, but she read nothing in
that upturned face to give the lie to those solemn words. Pointing to
Fanny, she said,

  “Before God--and as you hope for peace at the last?”

  The peddler bowed his head upon Lucy’s withered hand, and faltered
out, “I promise.”


  “Good morning, Zekiel,” said John Pray. “Glad to see you--you must
tell the old lady to go ahead and finish this pile of vests in a
twinkling; business is brisk now. Why, what’s this?” said he. “These
vests unfinished? How’s that? Don’t the pay suit? What’s the trouble

  “Don’t,” said Zekiel--“don’t--stop a bit--I’m as tough as any man--but
there’s some things I can’t stand;” and he dashed a tear away.

  “What’s the matter now?” asked John. “Is the old lady dissatisfied
with her pay?”

  “Don’t--I say,” said Zekiel;--“hold up--don’t harrow a man that
way--she’s dead--I tell you stone dead. She never’ll make no more vests
for nobody. I never shall forget what I saw there this morning, never.

  “You see she was old and infirm, and wan’t fit to work for any body
any how; but she had a little gran’child, fresh as a rose-bud, and she
did it for her, you see. Well, this morning I harnessed the old gray
horse--the black one is lame since Sunday--and reined up at her door, as
usual, to get the bundle. I knocked, and nobody came; then I knocked
again, then little rose-bud came tip-toeing to the door, with her finger
on her pretty lip, so--and whispered, ‘grandma is asleep; she has not
woke up this great while.’ So I said--‘You’d better speak to her and
say, here’s Zekiel, come for the bundle, cause you know she is partiklar
like about sending it.’ So the little rose-bud went up to the bed-side,
and said--‘Grandma, here is Zekiel, come for the vests.’ The old lady
didn’t say nothing, and rose-bud asked me to speak to her. I went up,
and--John Pray--the old lady was stone dead, and how was I going to tell
that to little rose-bud?”

  “You don’t mean to tell me that the child was all alone with the
corpse--nobody to see to the poor thing?” asked John.

  “But I do, though,” said Zekiel; “it was enough to break a body’s
heart, and she so innocent like. I never was so put to it in my life, to
know what to do. There she had gone and tidied up the kitchen, hung the
tea-kettle on the fire as well as she knew how, and sat waiting for her
gran’mother to ‘wake up,’ as she called it. How could I tell her she was
_dead_? Blast me if I could, to this minute.”

  “But you didn’t come away and leave her so?” asked John.

  “No,” replied Zekiel, “for a peddler came in, and little rose-bud ran
up, glad-like, to see him; then I beckoned him one side, and told him
just how it was, and he turned as white as a turnip, and great big tears
rolled down his face, as he took little rose-bud up in his arms and
kissed her. Then he told me he was a kind of a relation like, and poor,
but that he would take the child and do the best he could by her; and I
knew he must be clever, for children are powerful ’cute, and never take
to cranky folks, any how--and so I left them, and came blubbering into
town. I vow it was enough to make the very stones cry, to see little
rose-bud take on so, after the old lady.”

       *       *       *       *       *

  There was no litigious will to be read, no costly effects to quarrel
about, in Lucy Ford’s poor cottage, and yet Golconda’s mines were all
too poor to buy the priceless treasures to which the peddler fell
heir--Mary’s picture and Mary’s child!

  With such talismans, what should he fear? what could he not
accomplish? He no longer walked with his head bowed upon his breast. The
pure love of that sinless little one restored his long-lost
self-respect. Life was dear to him. His eye regained its luster; his
step its firmness. Even his humble calling, now more than ever
necessary, became to him dignified and attractive. Fanny should have an
education worthy of Mary’s child. For the present, till he had amassed a
little capital, he must find her a home in some quiet farmer’s family,
where he could oversee her, in his occasional visits.

  Dear little Fanny! with her smiles and tears, she had already twined
herself round every fiber of his heart. “Cousin John,” as the peddler
taught her to call him, “was to take care of her always, and she was to
love him dearly--dearly--better than any body, but mamma and grandma.”


  Ah! there is Mrs. Quip’s head, poked out of the north chamber window.
A sure sign that it is five o’clock to the minute. Now she scuds across
the yard, making a prodigious flutter with her flying calico long-short,
among the hens and chickens, who take refuge in an upturned old barrel.
Snatching some sticks from the wood-pile, she scuds back again to the
kitchen, twitches a match from the mantel, lights the fire, hangs on the
tea-kettle, jerks out the table, rattles on the cups and saucers,
plates, knives, forks, etc., and throws open every blind, door, and
window. This done, she flies up stairs, pokes Susan in the ribs, drags
Mary out on the floor, throws a mug of water in “that lazy John’s face,”
and intimates that “breakfast will be on the table in less than fifteen

  John rubs the water out of his eyes, muttering a few unmentionable
words. Susan and Mary make a transient visit to the looking-glass, and
descend the stair’s just as the coffee smokes upon the table. Mrs. Quip
frightens the chickens into the barrel again with her calico long-short
and the great bell that she ring at the barn-door to “call the men folks
to breakfast,” and takes her accustomed seat at the table.

  “Brown bread or white? baked beans or salt meat? doughnuts, cheese, or
apple-pie? which’ll you have?” said Mrs. Quip to little Fanny.

  “Ma’am?” said Fanny, with a bewildered look.

  “Oh, dear; Susan Quip, for gracious’ sake find out what that peddler’s
child wants; hurry, all of you. Baking to be done to-day; yesterday’s
ironing to finish; them new handkerchers to hem; John’s trowsers to
mend; buttery shelves to scour; brown bread sponge to set; yeast to
make; pickles to scald; head-cheese to fix: hurry, all of you. Susan
Quip, there’s the cat in the buttery, smack, and--scissors--right into
that buttermilk, arter a mouse. Scat--scat; Susan Quip, that’s your
doings--leaving the buttery door open. John Quip, do you drownd that cat
to-day. Don’t talk to me of kittens; kittens is as plenty as peddlers’
children. Hand me that coffee, Susan Quip. Lord-a-mercy, there’s the
fishman: run, John--two mackerel, not more than sixpence a-piece; pinch
’em in the stomach, to see if they are fresh. If they are flabby, don’t
take ’em; if they ain’t, do. Yes, every thing to do, to-day, and a
little more beside. Soft soap to----Heavens and earth, John Quip, that
mackerel man hasn’t given you the right change by two cents. Here, stop
him! John Quip--Susan--get out of the way, all of you; I’ll go myself,”
and the calico long-short started in full pursuit of the mackerel

  Poor little Fanny! no Green Mountain boy, set down in the rush of the
city, ever felt half so crazy. Mrs. Quip, with her snap-dragon,
touch-me-not-manners, high-pitched voice, and heavy tramp, was such a
contrast to her dear grandmother, with her soft tones, noiseless step,
and gentle ways. Fanny was afraid to move for fear she should cross Mrs.
Quip’s track. She did not know whether she were hungry or thirsty. She
marveled at the railroad velocity with which the food disappeared, and
pitied Mrs. Quip _so_ much for having such a quantity of things to do
all in a minute!

  The next day after Fanny’s arrival at Butternut farm, was Sunday. Mrs.
Quip was up betimes, as usual, but her activity took a devotional turn.
She was out to the barn fifty times a minute, to see “if the horse and
waggin was getting harnessed for meetin’,”--not but _Mr._ Quip was still
above ground, but as far as he had any voice in family matters, he might
as well have been under. Mrs. Quip was up in Susan’s room (or, as she
pronounced it, _Sew_san), to see if she was learning her catechise; she
was padlock-ing John Quip’s Sunday temptation, in the shape of the
“Thrilling Adventures of Jack Bowsprit;” she was giving the sitting-room
as Sabbatical and funereal an aspect as possible, by setting the chairs
straight up against the walls, shutting all the blinds, and putting into
the cupboard every thing that squinted secular-wise.

  Fanny, oppressed by the gloom within doors, crept out into the warm
sunshine, and seating herself under a tree in the yard, was looking at a
few clover blossoms which she had plucked beside her. She was thinking
of the pleasant Sundays she had passed with her dear grandmother, and
how she used to sit on the door-step of the cottage, and tell her how
God taught the little birds to build their cradle nests, and find their
way through the air; and how He provided even for the little ants, who
so patiently, grain by grain, built their houses in the gravel walk; and
how He kept the grass green with the dew and showers, and ripened the
fruit, and opened the blossoms with the warm sunshine, and how He was
always watching over us, caring for our wants, listening to our cries,
pitying us for our sorrows, and making His sun to shine even on those
who forget to thank Him for it. But see--Fanny has dropped her clover
blossoms, for Mrs. Quip has seized her by the arm, and says,

  “You wicked child, you! To think of picking a flower _Sunday_! What do
you expect will become of you when you die? What do you think the
neighbors will think? Sinful child! There”--slamming her down on a
cricket in the sitting-room--“sit down, and see if you can learn what
the chief end of man is, afore meeting time. Flowers of a _Sunday_! or
flowers any day, for the matter of that, I never could see the sense of
’em. Even the Bible says, ‘they toil not, neither do they spin.’
Gracious goodness--Sewsan Quip, Mrs. Snow’s kerriage has just started
for meetin’. Get your things, all of you. Sewsan, see to that peddler’s
child; mind that she don’t take no flowers to the Lord’s temple; John
Quip, you shan’t wear them gloves; they cost twenty-five cents at the
finding-store; and if you think that I bought ’em for you to drive in,
you are mistaken; now put ’em in your pocket till you get into the
meetin’-us porch; that will save ’em a sight; them leather reins will
wear ’em all threadbare in less than no time. Mercy on us, the string is
off my bunnet. Sewsan, that’s your doing. Run and bring me a pin off the
third shelf in the buttery, under the yellow quart bowl. I picked it up
and put it there this morning. Make haste, now. John Quip, stop cracking
your whip that way on the holy Sabbath day. What do you suppose your
dead grandpa would think, if he should hear it?”

  The wagon was brought, and its living freight stowed carefully away in
the remote corners. The oil-cloth covering was buttoned carefully down
on all sides, as it had been during the winter; Mrs. Quip said it was
hot, but maybe it would crack the oil-cloth to roll it up for the breeze
to play through. Susan, Mary, and Fanny, therefore, took a vapor bath,
on the back seat. Mrs. Quip, seated at John’s side, excluded, with her
big black bonnet, any stray breeze which might have found entrance that
way, to the refreshing of the gasping passengers. Dobbin moved on; he
had been up that hot, dusty hill, many a Sunday before, and understood
perfectly well how to keep his strength in reserve for the usual
accession to his load on the village green, in the shape of the
Falstaffian Aunt Hepsibah, Miss Butts, the milliner, and Deacon Tufts,
who were duly piled in on the gasping occupants behind. Mrs. Quip being
also on the alert to fill up any stray chinks in the “waggin” with “them
children who stopped to rest in the road, when they oughter go straight
to meetin’.”

  The unlading of Mrs. Quip’s wagon at the meeting-house door, was an
exhibition much “reckoned on” by the graceless young men of the village,
who always collected on the steps for the purpose, and with mock
gallantry assisted Mrs. Quip in clambering over the wheels, suppressing
their mirth at her stereotyped exhortation, as she glanced at Dobbin,
“to see that they didn’t start the critter.”

  It was a work of time to draw out the unctuous Aunt Hepsibah; Deacon
Tufts, more wiry and agile, “helped hisself,” as Mrs. Quip remarked. The
crowning delight was the evacuation of the wagon, by Miss Butts--who,
with a mincing glance at the men, circumspectly extended one finger of
her right hand--gingerly exposed the tip of the toe of her slipper, and
with sundry little shrieks and exclamations, prolonged indefinitely the
delicious agony of her descent, as the young gentlemen by turns
profanely touched her virgin elbows. Thirty-nine years of single
blessedness had fully prepared her to appreciate these little masculine
attentions, of which she always made an exact memorandum in her
note-book (affixing the date) on reaching her seat in church. The
unappropriated Miss Butts wore rose-buds in her bonnet, as emblematical
of love’s young spring-time, and dressed in shepherdess style; nature,
perhaps, suggesting the idea, by placing the _crook_ in her back.

  Poor little Fanny was as much out of her element at Butternut farm as
a humming-bird in a cotton-mill. She could not “heel a stocking,”
although Mrs. Quip “knew how as soon as she was born.” She could neither
chain-stitch, cross-stitch, button-hole-stitch, nor cat-stitch, though
she often got a stitch in her side trying to “get out of Mrs. Quip’s
way.” She did not know “whether her grandmother was orthodox or
Unitarian;” whether Cousin John “belonged to the church,” or not; in
fact, as Mrs. Quip remarked, the child seemed to her “not to have the
slightest idea what she was created for.”

  “Cousin John” came at last! with an empty pack, a full purse, and a
fuller heart. Fanny flew into his outspread arms, and nestled into his
bosom, with a fullness of joy which the friendless only can feel. Out of
sound of Mrs. Quip’s trip-hammer tongue, out of sight of Mrs. Quip’s
omniscient eyes, Fanny whispered in “Cousin John’s” ear, crying,
laughing, and kissing the while, all her little troubles. Cousin John
did not smile, for he knew too well how keenly the little trusting
heart, which beat against his own, could suffer or enjoy; so he wiped
her tears away, and told her that she should say good-by to Butternut
farm, and accompany him on his next trip, as far as Canton, where he
would leave her with a nice old lady, who had a red and green parrot,
and who taught a school for the village children.

       *       *       *       *       *

  It was a pretty sight--Cousin John and Fanny; she, skipping on before
him to pluck a flower, then returning to glide her little hand in his,
and walk contentedly by his side; or, standing on some stile, waiting to
be lifted over, with her bonnet blown back, and her bright little face
beaming with smiles; Cousin John sometimes answering her questions at
random, as the tones of her voice, or the expression of her face,
recalled her lost mother; sometimes looking proudly upon the bud, as he
thought how sweet and fair would be the blossom, but more often gazing
at her tearfully, as Lucy’s last solemn words rang in his ears.

  Percy was a riddle to himself. In the child’s pure presence, every
spot upon his soul’s mirror he would have wiped away. Lips which had
never framed a prayer for themselves, now murmured one for _her_. Feet
which had strayed into forbidden paths, would fain have found for _her_
tiny feet the straight and narrow path of life.

  Insensibly “a little child was leading him”--nearer to Thee, O God,
nearer to Thee.

  Little Fanny’s joy on this pedestrian tour was irrepressible; but the
journey was not all performed on foot: many a good-natured farmer gave
them a lift of a mile or two, and many a kind-hearted farmer’s wife
offered Fanny a cake, or a drink of milk, for the sake of her own
sun-burnt children, yet blessed in a mother’s love. Then there were
friendly trees to shade them from the scorching noon-day sun, where the
peddler could unstrap his pack, and Fanny throw off her bonnet and go to
sleep in his lap. Sparkling brooks there were, to lave their faces, or
quench their thirst, and flowers whose beauty might have tempted on
tardier feet than Fanny’s. Their only trouble was “Cousin John’s pack;”
and Fanny’s slender stock of arithmetic was exhausted in trying to
compute how many pieces of tape, how many papers of needles, how many
skeins of thread, must be sold before he could buy a horse and wagon to
help him to carry his load. The peddler, too, had his air-castles to
build, to which the afore-mentioned tape, needles, and thread were but
the stepping-stones. Fanny once placed where she could be contented, and
kindly treated, and Cousin John must leave her, to woo Dame Fortune, for
her sake, more speedily.

  Fanny shed a few tears when she heard this, poor child! and wondered
if there were many Mrs. Quips in the world; but the motherly face of
Mrs. Chubbs, with her three chins, the queer gabble of the red and green
parrot, and more than all, the society of playfellows of her own age,
were no small mitigations of the parting with Cousin John.

  Mrs. Chubbs would most decidedly have been turned out of office by any
MODERN school committee. When a little creature who should have been in
the nursery, was sent to her charge, “to be out of the way,” Mrs. Chubbs
oftener allowed it to stretch its little limbs on the grass-plat, front
of the door, than she set it poring over a spelling-book. She never
thumped geography or arithmetic into her pupils with a ferule. A
humming-top string, or a kite-tail fragment protruding from a childish
pocket, excited in her no indignation. A bit of gingerbread, or an
apple, munched by a little urchin who had made an early or an
indifferent breakfast, did not appear to her old-fashioned vision an
offense worthy of the knout or the guillotine. In fact, Mrs. Chubb’s
heart was as capacious as her pockets, and _their_ unfathomable depths
were a constant marvel to her pupils.

  As to the parrot, he constituted himself “a committee” of one, and
called out occasionally, “Mind your lessons, I say,” to Fanny’s great
diversion. And Fanny did “mind” them; for she loved good Mrs. Chubb, and
then she had a little private plan of her own for astounding Cousin
John, one of these days, with her profound erudition.

  And so time passed--the little homesick lump in her throat had quite
disappeared; she sang--she skipped--she laughed--a merrier little grig
never danced out a slipper.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Will my indulgent reader skip over ten years with me?--he might take a
more dangerous leap--and enter yonder substantial-looking building, in
which young ladies are “finished.” Passing by the long dining-hall, with
its bare tavern-y looking table, and rows of bamboo chairs, let us
ascend yonder marble stairs (for the school-house, let me tell you, was
once an aristocratic old mansion), and turn down that long passage to
the right. Now let us stop before No. 29. Remove your hat, if you
please, because I am about to usher you into the presence of two very
pretty girls, and though I do not approve of eaves-dropping, suppose we
just step behind that friendly screen, and listen to what they are


  “Fanny, what pains you are taking with your hair to-day!” said Kate.
“Is this Cousin John who has written you such interminable letters from
‘El-Dorado,’ to turn out, after all, your lover? I hope not, for I fancy
him some venerable Mentor, with a solemn face, and oracular voice,
jealous as Bluebeard of any young man who looks at you. How old is this
paragon?--handsome or ugly? I am dying to know.”

  “Thirty-six,” replied Fanny; “and as I remember him, with dark,
curling hair, a broad, expansive brow, eyes one would never weary
looking into, a voice singularly rich and sweet, and a form perfect but
for a trifling stoop in the shoulders. That is my Cousin John,” said
Fanny, drawing the comb through her ringlets.

  “Stoop in the shoulders! I thought as much,” mockingly laughed the
merry Kate. “If he had ‘a stoop in the shoulders’ ten years ago, how do
you suppose your Adonis looks now?”

  “It matters very little to me,” replied Fanny, with a little annoyance
in her tone; “it matters very little to me, were he as ugly as Caliban.”

  “How am I to construe that?” asked Kate, crossing her two forefingers
(“it matters very little to you”). “Does it mean that love is out of the
question between you two, or that you would have him if Lucifer stood in
your path?”

  “Construe it as it best suits you,” replied Fanny, with the most
provoking nonchalance.

  “But ‘a stoop in the shoulders,’” persisted the tormenting Kate. “I
don’t care to have a man’s face handsome, provided it is intelligent,
but I do insist upon a fine form, correct morals, and a good

  Fanny laughed--“I suppose you think to wind _your_ husband round your
little finger, like a skein of silk.”

  “With Cupid’s help,” replied Kate, with mock humility.

  “Of course _you_ will be quite perfect;--never, for instance, appear
before your husband in curl papers, or slip-shod?” asked Fanny; “never
make him eat bad pies or puddings?”

  “That depends,” answered Kate, “if he is tractable--not; if not--why

  “You will wink at his cigars?”

  “He might do worse.”

  “You will patronize his moustache?”

  “If he will my snuff-box,” said Kate, laughing. “Heigho--I feel just
like a cat in want of a mouse to torment. I wish I knew a victim worthy
to exercise my talents upon.”

  “_Talons_, you mean,” retorted Fanny--“I pity him.”

  “He would get used to it,” said Kate; “the mouse--the husband, you
know--I should let him run a little way, and then clap my claws on him.
I’ve seen it tried; it works like a charm.”

  “Kate, why do you always choose to wear a mask?” asked Fanny; “why do
you take so much pains to make a censorious world believe you the very
_opposite_ of what you are?”

  “Because paste passes as current as diamond; because I value the
world’s opinion not one straw; because if you own a heart, it is best to
hide it, unless you want it trampled on. But I don’t ask you to
subscribe to all this, Fanny, with that incomparable Cousin John in your
thoughts; there he is--there’s the door-bell--Venus! how you blush! but
‘a stoop in the shoulders.’ How can you, Fanny? Thirty-six years old,
too--Lord bless us!”


  Was this “little Fanny?” this tall, graceful creature of seventeen,
the little thing who bade him good-by at Mrs. Chubb’s door, ten years
since, with her pinafore stuffed in the corner of her eye? “Little
Fanny,” with that queenly presence? Cousin John almost felt as if he
ought to ask leave to touch her hand; ah--she is the same little Fanny
after all--frank, guileless, and free-hearted. She flies into his arms,
puts up her rosy lips for a kiss, and says “_Dear_ Cousin John.”

  “God bless you,” was all he could find voice to say, for in truth, she
was Mary’s own self.

  Yes--Fanny was very lovely, with those rippling waves of silken hair,
and the light and shadow, flitting like summer clouds over her speaking
face. Cousin John held her off at arm’s length. Yes, she was very
lovely. “How much she had changed!”

  “And you, too,” said Fanny, seating herself beside him. “You look so
much better; the stoop in your shoulders is quite gone; you are bronzed
a little, but all the better for that.”

  “Thank you,” said Cousin John, “more especially as I could not help
it, not even to please ‘little Fanny.’”

  “Ah--but I am no longer _little_ Fanny,” she said, blushing slightly.
“I have crammed a great many books into my head since I saw you, and
done considerable thinking beside.”

  “And what has your thinking all amounted to?” asked Cousin John, half
playfully, half seriously.

  “Just to this--that you are the very best cousin in the world, and
that I never can repay you for all you have been to the poor, little
friendless orphan,” said Fanny, with brimming eyes.

  “God bless you,” said Cousin John. “I am more than repaid in these
last ten minutes.”

  Hours flew like seconds, while Percy narrated his adventures by sea
and land, and listened to Fanny’s account of herself; the old duenna,
meanwhile, walking uneasily up and down the hall, occasionally making an
errand into the sitting-room, and muttering to herself as she went out,
that she had heard before of boarding-school “cousins,” and that he was
altogether too handsome a man to be allowed such a long _tête-à-tête_
with Miss Fanny; and so she reported at head-quarters, but the Principal
being just then unfortunately engaged in examining a new French teacher,
who had applied for employment, could not give the affair the attention
Miss Miffit insisted upon.

  Mr. Thurston Grey, too, was on the anxious seat; for the mischievous
Kate had informed him “that Fanny was holding a protracted meeting in
the best parlor, with the handsomest man she ever saw.”

  Nothing like a rival to precipitate matters! The declaration which had
so long been trembling on Mr. Grey’s lips, found its way into a
billet-doux, and was forwarded to Fanny that very night, and presented
by Kate in the presence of Cousin John, “to test,” as she said, “the
quality of his _cousin_-ship.”

  Cousin John was not jealous of “little Fanny!” how absurd! Little
Fanny! whom he had carried in his arms, who had slept on his breast. In
fact he laughed quite merrily at the idea, louder than was at all
necessary to convince himself of the nonsense of the thing, when he read
Mr. Grey’s proposal; (for Fanny had no secrets from “Cousin John.”) True
he wound up his watch twice that morning, and put on odd stockings, and
found it quite impossible to decide which of his cravats he should wear
that day, and looked in the glass very attentively for some time, and
forgot to smoke, but he wasn’t _jealous_ of little Fanny. Of course he


  “A gin-sling, waiter! Strong, hot, and quick; none of your temperance
mixtures for me; AND waiter, here, a beef-steak smothered in onions; AND
waiter, some crackers and cheese, and be deuced quick about it, too. I’m
not a man to be trifled with, as somebody besides you will find out, I
fancy,” said Mr. Scraggs, hitching his heels to the mantel, as the
waiter closed the door.

  Mr. Scraggs was a plethoric, pursy, barrel-looking individual, with a
peony complexion, pink, piggy eyes, and a nose sky-wardly inclined. His
neck-cloth was flashy and greasy; his scarlet vest festooned with a mock
chain; his shirt bosom fastened with green studs, and his nether limbs
encased in a pair of snake-skin pantaloons. As the waiter closed the
door to execute his order, he delivered himself of the following
soliloquy, between the whiffs of his cigar:

  “Ha-ha! pardoned out, was he? turned peddler, did he? fathered the
little gal, and sold tape to pay her board, hey? put her to
boarding-school, and went to New Orleans to seek his fortin’? got
shipwrecked and robbed, and the Lord knows what, and then started for
Californy for better luck, did he? Stuck to gold-digging like a
mole--made his fortin’, and then came back to marry the little gal, hey?
That’ll be as _I_ say. She’s a pretty gal--may I be shot, if she ain’t;
a deuced pretty gal--but she don’t come between me and my revenge. Not
’xactly! That blow you struck in the prison, my fine fellow, is not
forgotten _quite_ yet. John Scraggs has a way of putting them little
things on file. Hang me if it don’t burn on my cheek yet. Your fine
broadcloth suit don’t look much like your red and blue prison uniform,
Mr. Percy Lee. Your crop of curly black hair is _rather_ more becoming
than your shaven crown; wonder what your pretty love would say if she
knew all that? if she knew she was going to marry the man who killed her
own mother? and, pretty as she is, by the eternal, she shall know it.
But, patience--John Scraggs; a little more billing and cooing first; a
little more sugar before the drop of gall brims over the cup. Furnish
the fine house you have taken, Mr. Percy Lee, pile up the satin and
damask, and picters, and statters, and them things--chuckle over the
happiness you are _not_ a going to have--for by the eternal, the gal may
go the way the mother did, but my hand shall crush _you_; and yet, I
ain’t got nothing agin the gal, neither: she’s as pretty a piece of
flesh and blood as I’ve seen this many a day. A delicate mate for a
jail-bird, ha--ha.”

  “Waiter! waiter another gin-sling; hotter and stronger than the last;
’gad--fire itself wouldn’t be too strong for me to swallow to-day. Percy
Lee’s wedding-day, is it? We shall see!

  “He will curl his fine hair, don his broad-cloth suit, satin vest and
white gloves; look at his watch, and be in a devil of a hurry, won’t he?
ha--ha. He will get into a carriage with his dainty bride, and love her
all the better for her blushing and quivering; he will look into her
pretty face till he would sell his very soul for her; he will lead her
by the tips of her little white gloved fingers into church; then they’ll
kneel before the parson, and he will promise all sorts of infernal lies.
Then the minister will say, ‘if any one present knows any reason why
these two shouldn’t be joined in the holy state of matrimony, let him
speak, or forever after hold his peace.’

  “Then is your time, John Scraggs--leap to his side like ten thousand
devils; hiss in the gal’s ear that her lover is a jail-bird--that he’s
her mother’s murderer--laugh when she shrinks from his side in horror,
and falls like one stone dead; for by the eternal, John Scraggs is the
man to do all that--and yet I ain’t got nothing agin the gal either.

  “But, stay a bit; that will be dispatching the rascal too quick. I’ll
make slower work of it. I’ll prolong his misery. I’ll watch him writhe
and twist like a lion in a net. I’ll let the marriage go on--I’ll not
interrupt it; and then I’ll make it the hottest hell! The draught shall
be ever within reach of his parched lips, and yet, he shall never taste
it; for his little wife shall curse him. She shall be ever before him,
in her tempting, dainty beauty, and yet a great gulf shall separate
them. That’s it--_slow_ torture; patience--I won’t dispatch him all at
once. I’ll lop off first a hand, then a foot, pluck out an eye, touch up
a quivering nerve, maim him--mangle him--let him die a thousand deaths
in one. Good! I’ll teach the aristocrat to fell me to the earth like a
hound. A jail-bird--ha, ha; salt pork and mush, instead of trout cooked
in claret; water in a rusty tin cup, instead of old Madeira, and Hock,
and Sherry, and Champagne. Mush and salt pork--ha, ha. Too cursed good,
though, for the dainty dog. I wish I’d been warden of the Bluff Hill
prison. I’d have lapped up his aristocratic blood, drop by drop.”


  “Mine forever,” whispered Percy, as he drew Fanny’s hand within his
arm, on their wedding morning, and led her to the carriage.

  Not a word was spoken on the way; even the rattling Kate vailed her
merry eyes under their soft lashes, and her woman’s heart, true to
itself, sent up a prayer for the orphan’s happy future. And Percy; he
was to be all to Fanny--father, brother, husband; there were none to
divide with him the treasure he so jealously coveted.

  Happy Percy! The lightning bolt, indeed, had fallen; riving the
stately tree, dissevering its branches, but again it is covered with
verdure and blossoms, for lo--the cloud has rolled away, the rainbow
arches the blue sky, and hopes, like flowers, sweeter and fresher for
nature’s tears, are springing thick in his pathway.

  All this and more, passed through Percy’s mind as he watched the
shadows come and go on Fanny’s changeful cheek.

  “Get out of the way,” thundered the coachman, to a man who, with
slouched hat, and Lucifer-ish frown, stood before the carriage. “Get out
of the way, I say;” and he cracked his whip over his shoulders. “Staring
into the carriage window that way, at a young ’oman as is going to be
married. Get out of the way!”

  “Go to ----,” muttered the man. “Get out of the way! ha--that’s
good--it will be a long time before _I_ get out of the way, I can
promise you. But, drive on--drive on--I’ll overtake you--and ride over
you all, too, rough-shod, hang me, if I don’t. ‘The horns of the altar,’
as the ministers call it, will prove the horn of a dilemma to you, Mr.
Percy Lee, or there was no strength in the horn I swallowed this

       *       *       *       *       *

  The words were said which never may be unsaid; the twain were one--joy
to share together--sorrow to bear together--smooth or rough the path,
life’s journey to travel together. A few words from holy lips--a short
transit of the dial’s fingers--a blush--perchance a tear--a low
response--and heaven or hell, even in this world, was to be their

  The bridal party turn from the altar. Through the stained
windows--under the grand arches--past the fluted pillars, the dim light
slants lovingly upon the soft ripples of the young bride’s hair--upon
the fleecy folds of her gossamer vail--upon the sheen of her bridal
robe; the little satin shoe peeps in and out from under the lustrous
folds, whose every rustle is music to Percy’s ear.

  Hark! Fanny’s lip loses its rose--as she clings, tremblingly, to
Percy’s arm. A scuffle--curses--shouting--the report of a pistol--then a
heavy fall--then a low groan!

  “Is he _quite_ dead? Does his pulse beat?”

  “Not a flutter,” said the policeman, laying the man’s head back upon
the church steps.

  “How did it happen?”

  “Well, you see, he was intoxicated like, and ’sisted upon coming in
here, to see the wedding, though I told him it was a private ’un. Then
he muttered something about jail-birds and the like ’o that--intending
to insinivate something ag’in me, I s’pose. Well, I took him by the
shoulder to carry him to the station-house, and in the scuffle, a loaded
pistol he had about him went off; and that’s the end of him. His name is
in his hat, there. ‘John Scraggs.’ A ruffianly-looking dog he is, too;
the world is none the worse, I fancy, for _his_ being out of it.”

       *       *       *       *       *

  As at the birth, so at the bridal, Life and Death passed each other on
the threshold; new-born love to its full fruition; the still corpse to
its long home.

  There are homes in which Love folds his wings contented _forever_ to
stay. Such a home had Fanny and Percy.

     “The love born of sorrow, like sorrow is true.”



  The most thorough emetic I know of, is in the shape of “Guide to Young
Wives,” and kindred books; as if one rule could, by any possibility,
apply to all persons; as if every man living did not require different
management (bless me, I did not intend to use that torpedo word, but it
is out now); as if, when things go wrong, a wife had only to fly up
stairs, read a chapter in the “Young Wife’s Guide,” supposed to be
suited to her complaint, and then go down stairs and apply the worthless
plaster to the matrimonial sore. Pshaw! as well might a doctor send a
peck of pills into a hospital, to be distributed by the hands of the
nurse, to any and every male patient brought there, without regard to
complaints or constitutional tendencies. I have no patience with such
matrimonial nostrums.

  “Always meet your husband with a smile.” That is one of them. Suppose
we put the boot on the other foot, and require the men to come grinning
home? no matter how many of their notes may have been protested; no
matter how, like Beelzebub, their business partner may have tormented
them; no matter how badly elections go--when they do it, may I be there
to see! Nor should they. Passing over the everlasting monotony of that
everlasting “Guide Book” smile, let us consider, brethren (sisters not
admitted), what matrimony was intended for. As I look at it, as much to
share each other’s sorrows, as to share each other’s joys; neither of
the twain to shoulder wholly the one or the other. Those of you,
brethren, who agree with me in this lucid view of the subject, please to
signify it by rising.

  ’Tis a vote.

  Well then, do people in moments of perplexity generally grin? Is it
not asking too much of female, and a confounded sight too much of male
nature, to do it when a man’s store burns down, and there is no
insurance? or when a misguided and infatuated baby stuffs beans up its
nose, while its mamma is putting new cuffs on her husband’s coat,
hearing Katy say her lesson, and telling the cook about dinner? And when
this sorely afflicted couple meet, would it not be best to make a clean
breast of their troubles, sympathize together over them, have a nice
matrimonial cry on each other’s shoulders, and wind up with a
first-class kiss?

  ’Tis a vote.

  Well then--to the mischief with your grinning over a volcano;--erupt,
and have done with it! so shall you love each other more for your very
sorrows; so shall you avoid hypocrisy and kindred bedevilments, and pull
evenly in the matrimonial harness. I speak as unto _wise_ men.

  Lastly, brethren, what I particularly admire, is the indirect
compliment to your sex, which this absurd rule I have quoted implies;
the devotion, magnanimity, fortitude, and courage, it gives _you_
fair-weather sailors credit for! But what is the use of talking about
it? These guide books are mainly written by sentimental old maids; who,
had they ever been within kissing distance of a beard, would not so
abominably have wasted pen, ink, and paper; or, by some old bachelor,
tip-toeing on the outskirts of the promised land, without a single clear
idea of its resources and requirements, or courage enough to settle
there if he had.


  In one respect--nay, in more, if so please you--I am unfeminine. I
detest shopping. I feel any thing but affection for Eve every time I am
forced to do it. But we must be clean and whole, even in this
dirt-begrimed, lawless city; where ash-barrels and ash-boxes, with
spikes of protruding nails for the unwary, stand on every sidewalk,
waiting the bidding of balmy zephyrs to sift their dusky contents on our
luckless clothes. All the better for shop-keepers; indeed, I am not at
all sure, that they and the street-cleaning gentry do not, as doctors
and druggists are said to do, play into each other’s hands!

  Apart from my natural and never-to-be-uprooted dislike to the little
feminine recreation of shopping, is the pain I experience whenever I am
forced to take part in it, at the snubbing system practiced by too many
shop-keepers toward those whose necessities demand a frugal outlay. Any
frivolous female fool, be she showily dressed, may turn a whole
storefull of goods topsy-turvy at her capricious will, although she may
end in taking nothing away but her own idiotic presence; while a poor,
industrious woman, with the hardly-earned dollar in her calico pocket,
may not presume to deliberate, or to differ from the clerk as to its
most frugal investment. My blood often boils as I stand side by side
with such a one. I, by virtue of better apparel, receiving respectful
treatment; she--crimsoning with shame, like some guilty thing, at the
rude reply.

  Now, gentlemen, imagine yourselves in this woman’s place. _I_ have no
need to do so, because I have stood there. Imagine her, with her
fatherless, hungry children by her side, plying the needle late into the
night, for the pitiful sum of seventy-five cents a week, as I once did.
Imagine her, with this discouraging price of her eye-sight and strength,
creeping forth with her little child by the hand, peeping cautiously
through the glass windows of stores, to decide unobtrusively upon
fabrics and labeled prices, or vainly trying to read human feeling
enough in their owners’ faces to insure her from contemptuous insult at
the smallness and cheapness of her contemplated purchase. At length,
with many misgivings, she glides in amid rustling silks and laces, that
drape hearts which God made womanly and tender like her own, but which
Fashion and Mammon have crushed to ashes in their vice-like clasp;
hearts which never knew a sorrow greater than a misfitting dress, or a
badly-matched ribbon, and whose owners’ lips curl as the new-comer holds
thoughtfully between her thin fingers the despised fabric, carelessly
tossed at her by the impatient clerk.

  Oh, how can you speak harshly to such a one? how can you drive the blood
from her lip, and bring the tear to her eye? how can you look sneeringly
at the little sum she places in your hand, so hardly, _virtuously_,
_bravely_ earned? She has seen you!--see her, as she turns away,
clasping so tightly that little hand in hers, that the pained child
would tearfully ask the reason, were it not prematurely sorrow-trained.

  Oh, _you_ have never (reversing the order of nature) leaned with a
breaking heart, upon a little child, for the comfort and sympathy that
you found nowhere else in the wide world beside. _You_ never wound your
arms about her in the silent night, drenching brow, cheek and lip with
your tears, as you prayed God, in your wild despair, dearly as you loved
her, to take her to himself; for, living, she, too, must drink of the
cup that might not pass away from your sorrow-steeped lips.

  It is because I have felt all this that I venture to bespeak your more
courteous treatment for these unfortunates who can only weep for



  I once had a narrow escape from being a minster’s wife. No wonder you
laugh. Imagine a vestry-meeting called to decide upon the width of _my_
bonnet-strings, or the proper altitude of the bow on that bonnet’s side.
Imagine my being called to an account for asking Mrs. A. to tea, without
including the rest of the alphabet. Imagine my parishioners expecting me
to attend a meeting of the Dorcas Society in the morning, the Tract
Society in the afternoon, and the Foreign Mission Society in the
evening, five days in the week--and make parish calls on the
sixth--besides keeping the buttons on my husband’s shirts, and taking
care of my “nine children, and one at the breast.” Imagine a
self-constituted committee of female Paul Prys running their arms up to
the elbows in my pickle-jar--rummaging my cupboards--cross-questioning
my maid-of-all-work, and catechizing my grocer as to the price I paid
for tea. Imagine my ministerial progeny prohibited chess and checkers by
the united voice of the parish. Christopher!

  Still, the world lost a great deal by my non-acceptance of that
“call.” What would I have done? I would not, on Saturday afternoon (that
holiday which should never, on any pretext, be wrested from our
over-schooled, over-taught, children), have put the finishing touch to
the crook in their poor little spines, by drumming them all into a
Juvenile Sewing Society, to stitch pinafores for the Kankaroo heathen.
What would I have done? I would have ate, drunk, slept, and laughed,
like any other decent man’s wife. I would have educated my children as
do other men’s wives, to suit myself, which would have been to turn them
out to grass till they were seven years old, before which time no child,
in my opinion, should ever see the inside of a school-room; and after
that, given them study in homœopathic, and exercise in allopathic
quantities. I would have taken the liberty, as do other men’s wives,
when family duties demanded it, to send word to morning callers that I
“was engaged.” I should have taken a walk on Sunday, if my health
required it, without asking leave of the deacons of my parish. I would
have gone into my husband’s study, every Saturday night, and crossed out
every line in his forthcoming sermon, _after “sixthly.”_ I would have
encouraged a glorious beard on my husband’s sacerdotal chin, not under
the cowardly plea of a preventive to a possible bronchitis, but because
a minister’s wife has as much right to a good-looking husband as a
lay-woman. I would have invited all the children in my parish to drink
tea with me once a week, to play hunt the slipper, and make molasses
candy; and I would have made them each a rag-baby to look at, while
their well-meaning, but infatuated Sunday-school teachers, were
bothering their brains with the doctrine of election. That’s what _I_
would have done.



  “Give me two cents, I say, or I’ll kick you!”

  I turned to look at the threatener. It was a little fellow about as
tall as my sun-shade, stamping defiance at a fine, matronly-looking
woman, who must have been his mother, so like were her large black eyes
to the gleaming orbs of the boy. “Give me two cents, I say, or I’ll kick
you,” he repeated, tugging fiercely at her silk dress to find the
pocket, while every feature in his handsome face was distorted with
passion. Surely she will not do it, said I to myself, anxiously awaiting
the issue, as I apparently examined some ribbons in a shop-window;
surely she will not be so mad, so foolish, so untrue to herself, so
untrue to her child, so belie the beautiful picture of healthy
maternity, so God-impressed in that finely-developed form and animated
face. Oh, if I might speak to her, and beg her not to do it, thought I,
as she put her hand in her pocket, and the fierce look died away on the
boy’s face, and was succeeded by one of triumph; if I might tell her
that she is fostering the noisome weeds that will surely choke the
flowers--sowing the wind to reap the whirlwind.

  “But the boy is so passionate; it is less trouble to grant his request
than to deny him.” Granting this were so; who gave you a right to weigh
your own ease in the balance with your child’s soul? Who gave you a
right to educate him for a convict’s cell, or the gallows? But,
thoughtless, weakly indulgent, cruel-kind mother, it is not easier, as
you selfishly, short-sightedly reason, to grant his request than to deny
it; not easier for him--not easier for you. The appetite for rule grows
by what it feeds on. Is he less domineering now than he was yesterday?
Will he be less so to-morrow than he is to-day? Certainly not.

  “But I have not time to contest every inch of ground with him.” Take
time then--make time; neglect every thing else, but neglect not that.
With every child comes this turning point: _Which shall be the
victor--my mother or I?_ and it must be met. She is no true mother who
dodges or evades it. True--there will be a fierce struggle at first; but
be firm as a rock; recede not one inch; there may be two, three, or even
more, but the battle once won, as won it shall be if you are a faithful
mother, it is won for this world--ay, perhaps for another.

  “But I am not at liberty to control him thus; when parents do not pull
together in the harness, the reins of government will slacken; when I
would restrain and correct him, his father interferes; children are
quick-witted, and my boy sees his advantage. What can I do, unsustained
and single-handed?” True--true--God help the child then. Better for him
had he never been born; better for you both, for so surely as the beard
grows upon that little chin, so surely shall he bring your gray hairs
with sorrow to the grave; and so surely shall he curse you for your very
indulgence, before he is placed in the dishonored one your parental
hands are digging for him.

  These things need not be--ought not to be. Oh! if parents had but a
firm hand to govern, and yet a ready ear for childish sympathy; if they
would agree--whatever they might say in private--never to differ in
presence of their children, as to their government; if the
dissension-breeding “Joseph’s coat” were banished from every
hearthstone; if there were less weak indulgence and less asceticism; if
the bow were neither entirely relaxed, nor strained so tightly that it
broke; if there were less out-door dissipation, and more home-pleasures;
if parents would not forget that they were once children, nor, on the
other hand, forget that their children will be one day parents; if there
were less form of godliness, and more godliness (for children are
Argus-eyed; it is not what you preach, but what you practice), we should
then have no beardless skeptics, no dissolute sons, no runaway
marriages, no icy barriers between those rocked in the same
cradle--nursed at the same breast.


  To-morrow, at eleven, then, I am to be married! I feel like a mouse
conscious of coming cheese. Is it usual for bachelors to feel this way,
or am I a peculiar institution? I trust the parson, being himself a
married man, will be discreet enough to make a _short_ prayer after the
ceremony. Good gracious, my watch has stopped! no it hasn’t, either; I
should like to put the hands forward a little. What to do with myself
till the time comes, that’s the question. It is useless to go over to
Mary’s--she is knee-deep in dressmaker’s traps. I never could see, when
one dress is sufficient to be married in, the need women have to
multiply them to such an indefinite extent. Think of postponing a man’s
happiness in such circumstances, that one more flounce may be added to a
dress! Phew! how stifled this room is! I’ll throw up the window; there
now--there goes a pane of glass; who cares? I think I will shave; no I
won’t--I should be sure to cut my chin--how my hand trembles. I wonder
what Mary is thinking about? bless her little soul. Well, for the life
of me I don’t know what to do with myself. Suppose I write down


       In the name of Cupid, Amen.--I, Tom Pax, being of sound mind,
     and in immediate prospect of matrimony (praised be Providence for
     the same), and being desirous of settling my worldly affairs while
     I have the strength and capacity to do so, I do, with my own hand,
     write, make, and publish this, my last Will and Testament:

       And in the first place, and principally, I commit my heart to
     the keeping of my adorable Mary, and my body to the parson, to be
     delivered over at the discretion of my groomsmen, to the aforesaid
     Mary; and as to such worldly goods as a kind Providence hath seen
     fit to intrust me with, I dispose of the same in the following
     manner (I also empower my executors to sell and dispose of my real
     estate, consisting of empty demijohns, old hats, and cigar boxes,
     and invest the proceeds in stocks or otherwise, to manage as they
     may think best; all of which is left to their discretion):

       I give and bequeath to Tom Harris, my accomplice in single
     blessedness, my porcelain punch-bowl, white cotton night-cap, and
     large leathern chair, in whose arms I first renounced bachelordom
     and all its evil works.

       I give and bequeath to the flames the yellow-covered novels and
     plays formerly used to alleviate my bachelor pangs, and whose
     attractions fade away before the scorching sun of my prospective
     happiness, like a snow wreath between a pair of brass andirons.

       I give and bequeath to Bridget Donahue, the chambermaid of this
     lodging-house (to be applied to stuffing a pin-cushion), the
     locks of female hair, black, chestnut, brown, and tow-color, to be
     found in my great coat breast pocket.

       I give and bequeath to my washwoman, Sally Mudge, my buttonless
     shirts, stringless dickeys, gossamer-ventilator stockings, and
     unmended gloves.

       I give and bequeath to Denis M‘Fudge, my bootblack, my half box
     of unsmoked Havanas, which are a nuisance in my hymeneal nostrils.

       I give and bequeath to my benighted and unconverted bachelor
     friend, Sam Scott, my miserable and sinful piejudices against the
     blessed institution of matrimony, and may Cupid, of his infinite
     loving-kindness, take pity on his petrified heart.

       In witness whereof, I, Tom Pax, the Testator, hereunto set my
     hand and seal, as my last Will and Testament, done this twelfth day
     of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and

                                                  TOM PAX. [L.S.]
       Witness,                                   FANNY FERN.


  Mrs. Pax is an authoress. I knew it when I married her. I liked the
idea. I had not tried it then. I had not a clear idea what it was to
have one’s wife belong to the public. I thought marriage was marriage,
brains not excepted. I was mistaken. Mrs. Pax is very kind: I don’t wish
to say that she is not. Very obliging: I would not have you think the
contrary; but when I put my arm round Mrs. Pax’s waist, and say, “Mary,
I love you,” she smiles in an absent, moonlight-kind of a way, and says,
“Yes, to-day is Wednesday, is it not? I must write an article for ‘The
Weekly Monopolizer’ to-day.” That dampens my ardor; but presently I say
again, being naturally affectionate, “Mary, I love you;” she replies
(still abstractedly), “Thank you, how do you think it will do to call my
next article for ‘The Weekly Monopolizer,’ ‘The Stray Waif?’”

  Mrs. Pax sews on all my shirt-buttons with the greatest good humor: I
would not have you think she does not; but with her thoughts still on
“The Weekly Monopolizer,” she sews them on the flaps, instead of the
wristbands. This is inconvenient; still Mrs. Pax is kindness itself; I
make no complaint.

  I am very fond of walking. After dinner I say to Mrs. Pax, “Mary, let
us take a walk.” She says, “Yes, certainly, I must go down town to read
the proof of my article for ‘The Monopolizer.’” So, I go down town with
Mrs. Pax. After tea I say, “Mary, let us go to the theater to-night;”
she says, “I would be very happy to go, but the atmosphere is so bad
there, the gas always escapes, and my head must be clear to-morrow, you
know, for I have to write the last chapter of my forthcoming work,
‘Prairie Life.’” So I stay at home with Mrs. Pax, and as I sit down by
her on the sofa, and as nobody comes in, I think that this, after all,
is better, (though I must say my wife looks well at the Opera, and I
like to take her there). I put my arm around Mrs. Pax. It is a habit I
have. In comes the servant; and brings a handful of letters for her by
mail, directed to “Julia Jesamine!” (that’s my wife’s _nom-de-plume_). I
remove my arm from her waist, because she says “they are probably
business letters which require immediate notice.” She sits down at the
table, and breaks the seals. Four of them are from fellows who want “her
autograph.” _Mrs. Pax’s_ autograph! The fifth is from a gentleman who,
delighted with her last book, which he says “mirrored his own soul” (how
do you suppose Mrs. Pax found out how to “mirror _his_ soul?”) requests
“permission to correspond with the charming authoress.” “Charming!” my
wife! “his soul!” Mrs. Pax! The sixth is from a gentleman who desires
“the loan of five hundred dollars, as he has been unfortunate in
business, and has heard that her works have been very remunerative.”
Five hundred dollars for John Smith, from my wife! The seventh letter is
from a man at the West, offering her her own price to deliver a lecture
before the Pigtown Young Men’s Institute. _I like that!_

  Mrs. Pax opens her writing desk; it is one I gave her; takes some
delicate buff note-paper; I gave her that, too; dips her gold pen (my
gift) into the inkstand, and writes--writes till eleven o’clock. Eleven!
and I, her husband, Tom Pax, sit there and wait for her.

  The next morning when I awake, I say, “Mary dear?” She says, “Hush!
don’t speak, I’ve just got a capital subject to write about for ‘The
Weekly Monopolizer.’” Not that I am _complaining_ of Mrs. Pax, not at
all; not that I don’t like my wife to be an authoress: I do. To be sure
I can’t say that I knew _exactly_ what it involved. I did not know, for
instance, that the Press in speaking of her by her _nom-de-plume_ would
call her “OUR Julia,” but I would not have you think I object to her
being literary. On the contrary, I am not sure that I do not rather like
it; but I ask the Editor of “The Weekly Monopolizer,” as a man--as a
Christian--as a husband--if he thinks it right--if it is doing as he
would be done by--to monopolize my wife’s thoughts as early as five
o’clock in the morning? I merely ask for information. I trust I have no
resentful feelings toward the animal.


  Not long since, John Bull, in the columns of an English newspaper,
growled out his intense disgust at the “trash in the shape of American
lady books,” which constantly afflicted him from the other side of the

  Here is a book called “Letters from the United States, Canada, and
Cuba,” by the Hon. Amelia M. Murray, a lady of supposable refinement,
education, and of the highest social position in England; a lady whose
daily bread was _not_ dependent upon the immediate publication of her
book; who had leisure and opportunity carefully to write, and to correct
and revise what she had written.

  We propose giving a few extracts to show what advance has been made
upon American literature, by our aristocratic British sister. But before
beginning, we wish to throw our glove in John Bull’s face, and defy him
to produce a greater, or even an _equal_ amount of stupid twaddle,
unrhetorical sentences, hap-hazard conclusions, petty, egotistical,
uninteresting details, narrow-minded views, and utter want of talent,
from between the covers of any _American_ lady book yet published.

  The political question discussed by “the Hon.” authoress, we shall not
meddle with further than to say, first, that her book contains not one
new idea upon the subject; secondly, that her advocacy of a system
which condemns a portion of her own sex to helpless, hopeless, brutal
prostitution, reflects as little credit on her standard of what is
lovely and of good report in woman, as does her book upon female English

  We quote the following specimens of Miss Murray’s style:

  “At the house of his sister I saw another work by the same artist: two
children, the one as an angel leading the awakened soul of the other,
with an inscription below; very pretty!”


  Speaking of the cholera in Boston, and the practice of using hot
vinegar there, as a disinfective, she says:

  “I was told a carriage of this _fumigated_ liquid had been driven
through the streets; there are deaths here every day and some at
Newport, but _it_ is not believed to be contagious at present, only
carrying off the profligate and the debilitated.”


  “Till my introduction to the Governor of New York I did not know that
each State has a Governor. Governor Seymour lives at Albany. Some of
those Governors are only elected for two years, _and_ this gentleman
does credit to popular choice.”

  So much for the _Queen’s_ English! Now for one or two specimens of her
penetration. The first quotation we make will undoubtedly cause as much
surprise to the very many benevolent associations in Boston (which are
constantly deploring their inability to meet the voices of distress
which cry, help us!), as it did to ourself:

  “I never met a beggar in Boston, not even among the Irish, and ladies
have told me that _they could not find a family on which to exercise
their benevolent feelings_!”

  Governor Seymour, Miss Murray’s friend, will doubtless feel flattered
by the following patronizing mention of him. And here we will say, that
it would have been more politic in the Hon. Miss Amelia, when we
consider England’s late relations to Sebastopol, had she omitted to
touch upon so ticklish a subject as British military discipline.

  Speaking of Governor Seymour’s review of the New York troops, on
Evacuation Day, she says:

  “Governor Seymour reviewed these troops in front of the City Hall with
as much tranquillity of manner and simple dignity _as might have been
evinced by one of the most experienced of OUR public men_!”

  One more instance of Miss Murray’s superior powers of observation:

  “I have found out the reason why ladies, traveling alone in the United
States, must be extravagantly dressed; without that precaution they meet
with no attention, and little civility, decidedly much less than in any
other country, so here it is not as _women_, but as ladies, they are
cared for, and this in Democratic America!”

  In the first place, every body but Miss Murray knows that an American
LADY never “travels expensively dressed.” That there are females who do
this, just as they walk our streets in a similar attire, and for a
similar purpose, is undeniable; and that they receive from the opposite
sex the “attentions” which they seek, is also true; but this, it seems
to us, should hardly _disturb the serenity of a “Maid of Honor_!”

  As an American woman, and proud of our birth-right, we resent from our
British sister her imputation upon the proverbial chivalry of American
gentlemen. We have traveled alone, and in threadbare garments, and we
have never found these garments non-conductors of the respectful
courtesy of American gentlemen; they have never prevented the coveted
glass of water being proffered to our thirsty lips at the dépôt; the
offer of the more eligible seat on the shady side of the cars; the offer
of the beguiling newspaper, or book, or magazine; the kindly excluding
of annoying dust or sun by means of obstinate blinds or windows,
unmanageable by feminine fingers; the offer of camphor or cologne for
headache or faintness, or one, or all, of the thousand attentions to
which the chivalry of American gentlemen prompts them without regard to
externals, and too often (shame on the recipients!) without the reward
of the bright smile, or kindly “thank you,” to which they are so surely

  I could cite many instances in contradiction of Miss Murray’s
assertion that it is “not as _women_ but as ladies,” that American
gentlemen care for the gentler sex in America. I will mention only two,
out of many, which have come under my own personal observation.

  Every body in New York must have noticed the decrepit old woman, with
her basket of peanuts and apples, who sits on the steps near the corner
of Canal-street (for how long a period the oldest inhabitant only
knows). One day toward nightfall, when the execrable state of the
crossings almost defied petticoat-dom, I saw her slowly gather up her
decrepit limbs, and undiminished wares, and, leaning upon her stick,
slowly totter homeward. She reached the point where she wished to cross;
it was slippery, wet, and crowded with a Babel of carts and carriages.

  She looked despondingly up and down with her faded eyes, and I was
about to proffer her my assistance when a gentlemanly, handsome young
man stepped to her side, and drawing her withered hand within his arm,
safely guided her tottering footsteps across to the opposite sidewalk;
then, with a bow, graceful and reverential enough to have satisfied even
the cravings of the honorable and virginal Miss Murray, he left her. It
was a holy and a beautiful sight, and by no means an uncommon one,
“_even in America_.”

  Again. I was riding in an omnibus, when a woman, very unattractive in
person and dress, got out, leaving a very common green vail upon the
seat. A gentleman present sprang after her with it in his hand, ran two
blocks, placed it in her possession, and returned to his place, not
having received even a bow of thanks from the woman in whose service his
nicely polished boots had been so plentifully mud-bespattered.

  If “the honorable Miss Murray” came to this country with the
expectation that a coach-and-six would be on hand to convey her from
every dépôt to the hotel she was to honor with her aristocratic
presence, or that gentlemen would remain with their heads uncovered, and
their hands on the left side of their vests as she passed, in honor of
the reflected effulgence of England’s Queen (supposed to emanate from
Miss Murray’s very ordinary person), it is no marvel she was
disappointed. We should like to be as sure, when we travel in England,
of being (as a woman), as well and as courteously treated by John Bull
as was the honorable Miss Amelia by Brother Jonathan in America.

  That there may be men, “even in America,” who measure out their nods,
and bows, and wreathed smiles, by the wealth and position of the
recipient, we do not doubt; for we have seen such, but would gently
suggest to “the honorable Miss Amelia” that in the pockets of such men
she will generally find--_naturalization papers_!


  There was not a child in the house, not one; I was sure of it, when I
first went in. Such a spick-and-span look as it had! Chairs--grown-up
chairs, plastered straight up against the wall; books arranged by rule
and compass; no dear little careless finger-marks on furniture, doors,
or window-glass; no hoop, or ball, or doll, or mitten, or basket, or
picture-book on the premises; not a pin, or a shred on the angles and
squares of the immaculate carpet; the tassels of the window shades, at
which baby-fingers always make such a dead set, as fresh as if just from
the upholsterer’s. I sat down at the well-polished window, and looked
across the street. At the upper window of a wooden house opposite, I saw
a little bald baby, tied into a high chair, speculating upon the
panorama in the street, while its little fat hands frantically essayed
to grab distant pedestrians on the sidewalk. Its mother sat sewing
diligently by its side. Happy woman! she has a baby! She thought so,
too; for by-and-by she threw down her work, untied the fettering
handkerchief, took the child from its prison-house, and covered it with
kisses. Ah! she had heard a step upon the stairs--_the_ step! And now
there are _two_ to kiss the baby; for John has come to his dinner, and
giving both mother and child a kiss that made my lips work, he tosses
the babe up in his strong arms, while its mother puts dinner on the

  But, pshaw!--here come the old maids I was sent to see. I hear the
rustle of their well-preserved silks in the entry. I feel proper all
over. Vinegar and icicles! how shall I ever get through with it? Now the
door opens. What a bloodless look they have?--how dictionary-ish they
speak!--how carefully they lower themselves into their chairs, as if the
cushions were stuffed with live kittens!--how smooth their ruffs and

  Bibs and pinafores! Give _me_ the upper room in the wooden house, with
kissing John and the bald baby!



  And this is Philadelphia! All hail, Philadelphia! Where a lady’s
aching fingers may be reprieved from the New York thraldom of
skirt-holding off dirty pavements; where the women have the good taste,
in dress, to eschew the gaudy tulip and array themselves like the lily;
where hoops are unknown, or at least so modified as to become debateable
ground; where lady shop-keepers know how to be civil to their own sex,
and do not keep you standing on one leg an hour after you hand them a
bill, while with hawk eye and extended forefinger they peruse that
nuisance called the “Counterfeit Detector.” Where the goods, not better
than in New York, save in their more quiet hue, are never crammed down a
customer’s unwilling throat; where omnibus-drivers do not expectorate
into the coach-windows, or bang clouds of dust into your doomed eyes
from the roof, thumping for your fare, or start their vehicles before
female feet have taken leave of what has nearly proved to so many of us
the _final_ step! where the markets--but hold! they deserve a paragraph
by themselves.

  Ye gods! what butter! Shall I ever again swallow the abominable
concoction called butter in New York? That I--Fanny Fern--should have
lived to this time, and never known the bliss of tasting Philadelphia
butter!--never seen those golden pounds, each separately folded in its
fresh green leaf, reposing so temptingly, and crying, Eat me, so
eloquently, from the snow-white tubs! What have the Philadelphians done
that they should be fed on such crisp vegetables, such fresh fruits, and
such _creamy_ ice-creams? That their fish should come dripping to their
mouths from their native element. That their meat should wait to be
carried home, instead of crawling by itself? Why should the most
circumscribed and frugal of housekeepers, who goes with her snowy basket
to buy her husband’s dinner, be able to _daintyfy_ his table with a
fragrant sixpenny bouquet? Why should the strawberries be so big, and
dewy, and luscious? Why should the peas, and cauliflowers, and
asparagus, and lettuce--Great Cæsar! what _have_ the Philadelphians
done that they should wallow in such high-stepping clover?

  _I have it!_

  It is the reward of virtue--_It is the smile of Heaven on men who are
too chivalric to puff tobacco-smoke in ladies’ faces which beautify and
brighten their streets_. They deserve it--they deserve their
lily-appareled wives and roly-poly, kissable, sensibly-dressed children.
They deserve to walk up those undefiled marble-steps, into their blessed
home sanctuaries, overshadowed by those grand, patriarchal trees. They
deserve that their bright-eyed sons should be educated in a noble
institution like “The Central High School,” where pure ventilation and
cheerfulness are considered of as much importance as mathematics, or
Greek and Latin. Where the placid brow and winning smile of the
Principal are more potent auxiliaries than ferules or frowns. Give me
the teacher on whose desk blooms the bouquet, culled by a loving pupil’s
fingers; whose eye, magnetic with kindness--whose voice, electric with
love for his calling, wakes up into untiring action all that is best and
noblest in the sympathetic, fresh young hearts before him. A _human_
teacher, who recognizes in every boy before him (be he poorly or richly
clad--be he glorious in form and face as a young Apollo, or cramped and
dwarfed into unshapeliness in the narrow cradle of poverty) an immortal
soul, clamorous with its craving needs, seeking the light, throwing out
its luxuriant tendrils for something strong and kindly to cling to,
longing for the upper air of expansion and strength. God bless the
_human_ teacher who recognizes, and _acts_ as if he recognized this!
Heaven multiply such schools as “The Philadelphia High School,” with its
efficient Principal, its able Professors and teachers, and its graduates
who number by scores the noble and honored of the land, and of the sea.

  I love to linger in cemeteries. And so, in company with an editorial
friend, Colonel Fitzgerald, of the Philadelphia _City Item_, to whose
hospitality, with that of his lovely wife, I am much indebted, I
visited “Laurel Hill.” The group “Old Mortality” at its entrance needs
no praise of mine. The eye might linger long ere it wearied in gazing
at it. I like cemeteries, but I like not elaborate monuments, or
massive iron railings; a simple hedge--a simple head-stone (where the
tiny bird alights, ere, like the parting spirit, it plumes its wings
for a heavenward flight) for its inscription--the words to which
the universal heart has responded, and will respond till time
shall be no longer--till the graves give up their dead;
“Mother”--“Husband”--“Wife”--“Child”--what epitaph can improve this?
what language more eloquently measure the height and breadth, and length
and depth of sorrow?

  And so, as I read these simple words at “Laurel Hill,” my heart
sympathized with those unallied to me, save by the common bond of
bereavement; and thus I passed on--until I came to an author’s
grave--no critic’s pen again to sting that heart;--pulseless it must
have been, not to have stirred with all the wealth of bud and blossom,
waving tree and shining river, that lay bathed in the golden, summer
sunlight above him. So, God willing, would I sleep at last; but not
yet--not yet, my pen, till thou hast shouted again and again--_Courage!
Courage!_--to earth’s down-trodden and weary-hearted.



  If you want to see unmasked human nature, keep your eyes open in
railroad cars and on steamboats. See that man now, poring over a
newspaper, while he is passing through scenery where the shifting lights
and shadows make pictures every instant, more beautiful than an artist
ever dreamed. See that woman, who has journeyed with her four children
hundreds of miles alone--as I am proud to say women may safely journey
in America (if they behave themselves)--travel-stained, care-worn and
weary, listening to, and answering patiently and pleasantly the thousand
and one questions of childhood; distributing to them, now a cracker, now
a sip of water from the cask in the corner, brushing back the hair from
their flushed brows, while her own is throbbing with the pain, of which
she never speaks. In yonder corner are two Irish women, each with a
little red-fretted baby, in the universal Erin uniform of yellow; their
little heads bobbing helplessly about in the bumping cars, screaming
lustily for the comfort they well know is close at hand, and which the
public are notified they have at last found, by a ludicrously
instantaneous suspension of their vociferous cries. Beautiful as
bountiful provision of Nature! which, if there was no other proof of a
God, would suffice for me.

  There is a surly old fellow, who won’t have the windows open, though
the pale woman beside him mutely entreats it, with her smelling-salts to
her nose. Yonder is an old bachelor, listening to a sweet little
blue-eyed girl, who, with untasked faith in human nature, has crept from
her mother’s side, and selected him for an audience, to say--“that once
there was a kid, with two little totty kids, and don’t you believe that
one night when the old mother kid was asleep,” etc., etc. No wonder he
stoops to kiss the little orator; no wonder he laughs at her naïve
remarks; no wonder she has magnetised the watch from his pocket “to hear
what it says;” no wonder he smooths back the curly locks from the frank,
white brow; no wonder he presses again and again his bachelor lips to
that rosy little mouth; no wonder, when the distant city nears us, and
the lisping “good-by” is chirruped, and the little feet are out of sight
and sound, that he sighs,--God and his own soul know why! Blessed
childhood--thy shortest life, though but a span, hath yet its mission.
The tiniest babe never laid its velvet cheek on the sod till it had
delivered its Maker’s message--heeded not then, perhaps--but coming to
the wakeful ear in the silent night-watch, long after the little
preacher was dust. Blessed childhood!

  It is funny, as well as edifying, to watch hotel arrivals; to see the
dusty, hungry, lack-luster-eyed travelers drag into the
eating-room--take their allotted seats--enviously regard those consumers
of dainties who have already had the good fortune, by rank of
precedence, to get their hungry mouths filled; to see them at last “fall
to,” as Americans only know how. Heaven help the landlord! Beef-steak,
chicken, omelette, mutton-chops, biscuit and coffee--at one fell swoop.
Waiters, who it is to be hoped, have not been kept breakfastless since
early daylight, looking on calm, but disgusted. Now, their appetites
appeased, that respectable family yonder begin to notice that Mr. and
Mrs. Fitzsnooks and Miss Fitzsnooks opposite, who are aristocratically
delicate in their appetites, are shocked beyond the power of expression.
They begin, as they wipe their satisfied lips with their table-napkins,
and contemplate Miss Fitzsnooks’s showy breakfast-robe, to bethink them
of their dusty traveling-dresses; as if--foolish creatures--they were
not in infinitely better taste, soiled as they are, than her gaudy
finery at so early an hour--as if a man was not a man “for a’ that”--ay,
and a woman, too--as if there _could_ be vulgarity without
pretension--as if the greatest vulgarity was not ostentatious

  “_Fairmount_,” of which the Philadelphians are so justly proud, is no
misnomer. He must be cynical, indeed, hopelessly weak in the
_understanding_, who would grumble at the steep ascent by means of which
so lovely a panorama is enjoyed. At every step some new beauty develops
itself to the worshiper of nature. In the gray old rocks, festooned with
the vivid green of the woodbine and ivy, considerately draping statues
for eyes--I confess it, more prudish than mine. The placid Schuylkill
flowing calmly below, with its emerald-fringed banks, nesting the homes
of wealth and luxury; enjoyed less, perhaps, by their owners, than by
the industrious artisan, who, reprieved from his day’s toil, stands
gazing at them with his wife and children, and inhaling the breeze, of
which, God be thanked, the rich man has no monopoly.

  Of course I visited Philadelphia “State-House;” of course I talked
with the nice old gentleman who guards the country’s relics; of course I
stared--with my ’76 blood at fever heat--upon the big bell which clanged
forth so joyfully our American independence; of course I stared at the
piece of stone-step, from which the news of our Independence was first
announced; and of course I wondered how it was possible for it, under
such circumstances, to _remain_ stone. Of course I sat down in the
venerable, high-backed leather chair, in which so many great men of
that time, and so many little men of this have reposed. Of course I
reverently touched the piece of a pew which formerly was part of “Christ
Church,” and in which Franklin and Washington had worshiped. Of course I
inscribed my name, at the nice old gentleman’s request, in the mammoth
book for visitors. And of course I mounted to the Cupola of the State
House to see “the view;” which, with due submission, I did not think
worth (from that point) the strain on my ankles, or the confused state
of my cranium, consequent upon repeated losses of my latitude and
longitude, while pursuing my stifled and _winding_ way.

  “The Mint?” Oh--certainly, I saw the Mint! and wondered, as I looked
at the shining heaps, that any of Uncle Sam’s children should ever want
a cent; also, I wondered if the workmen who fingered them, did not grow,
by familiarity, indifferent to their value--and to their possession. I
was told that not the minutest particle of the metal, whether fused or
otherwise, could be abstracted without detection. I was glad, as I
always am, in a fitting establishment, to see _women_ employed in
various offices--such as stamping the coin, etc., and more glad still,
to learn that they had respectable wages. Heaven speed the time when a
thousand other doors of virtuous labor shall be opened to them, and
silence for ever the heart-rending “Song of the Shirt.”



  Always an _if_! _If_ the Philadelphians would not barricade their
pretty houses with those ugly wooden outside shutters, with those ugly
iron hinges. I am sure my gypsy breath would draw hard behind one. And
_if_ the Philadelphians would not build such garrison-like walls about
their beautiful gardens. Why not allow the passer-by to view what would
give so much pleasure? certainly, we would hope, without abstracting any
from the proprietors. Clinton avenue, as well as other streets in
Brooklyn, is a beautiful example of this. Light, low iron railings about
the well-kept lawns and gardens--sunset groups of families upon piazzas,
and O--prettier yet--little children darting about like butterflies
among the flowers. I missed this in Philadelphia. The balmy air of
evening seemed only the signal for barring up each family securely
within those jail-like shutters; behind which, I am sure, beat hearts as
warm and friendly as any stranger could wish to meet, I must say I feel
grateful to any householder who philanthropically refreshes the _public_
eye with the vines and flowers he has wreathed about his home. I feel
grateful to any woman I meet, who rests my rainbow-sated eye by a
modest, tasteful costume. I thank every well-made man who passes me with
well-knit limbs and expanded chest, encased in nice linen, and a coat
he can breathe in; yes--why not? Do you purse up your mouth at this? do
you say it was not _proper_ for me to have said this? I hate the word
proper. If you tell me a thing is not proper, I immediately feel the
most rabid desire to go “neck and heels” into it. Proper! it is a fence
behind which indelicacy is found hidden much oftener than in the open
highway. Out upon proper! So I say again, I like to see a well-made
man--made--not by the tailor--but by the Almighty. I glory in his
luxuriant beard; in his firm step; in his deep, rich voice; in his
bright, falcon eye. I thank him for being handsome, and letting me see
him. We all yearn for the beautiful; the little child, who drew its
first breath in a miserable cellar, and has known no better home, has
yet its cracked mug or pitcher, with the treasured dandelion or clover
blossoms. Be generous, ye householders, who have the means to gratify a
taste to which God himself ministers, and hoard not your gardens and
flowers for the palled eye of satiety. Let the little child, who, God
knows, has few flowers enough in its earthly pathway, peep through the
railing, and, if only for a brief moment, dream of paradise.

  The Philadelphia Opera House, which I am told is a very fine one, I
did not see, as I intended, as also many institutions which I hope yet
to visit, when I can make a longer stay. Of one of the principal
theaters I will say, that she must be a courageous woman who would dare
to lean back against its poisonously dirty cushions. Ten minutes
sufficed me to breathe an atmosphere that would have disgraced the “Five
Points;” and to listen to tragic howlings only equaled in the drunken
brawls of that locality. Upon my exit, I looked with new surprise upon
the first pair of immaculate marble steps I encountered, and putting
this and that together, gave up the vexed problem. New York streets may
be dirty, but our places of amusement are clean.

  At one public institution I visited, we were shown about by the most
dignified and respectable of gray-haired old men; so much so, that I
felt serious compunctions lest I should give trouble by asking questions
which agitated my very inquiring mind. Bowing an adieu to him, with the
reverence with which his appearance had inspired me, we were about to
pass down the principal stairs to the main entrance, when he touched the
gentleman who accompanied me on the shoulder, and said in an undertone,
not intended for my ears, “Please don’t offer me money, sir, _in the
presence of any one_!” A minute after he had pocketed, with a bow, the
neatly-extracted coin (which _I_ should as soon have thought of offering
to General Washington), and with a parting touch of his warning
forefinger to his lip, intended for my companion, we found ourselves
outside the building, doing justice to his generalship by explosive
bursts of laughter. So finished was the performance, that we admiringly
agreed to withhold the name of the venerable perpetrator.

  We found the very best accommodations at the hotel where we were
located, both as to the fare and attendance. I sent a dress to the
laundry-room for a little re-touching, rendered necessary by my ride the
day before. On ringing for its return, the summons was answered by a
grenadier-looking fellow, with a world of whisker, who, as I opened the
door, stood holding the gauzy nondescript at arm’s length, between his
thumb and finger, as he inquired of me, “Is this the item, mem?” _Item!_
Had he searched the dictionary through, he could not have better hit
it--or me. I have felt a contempt for the dress ever since.

  Having had the misfortune to set the pitcher in my room down upon
vacancy, instead of upon the wash-stand, and the natural consequence
thereof being a crash and a flood, I reported the same, lest the
chambermaid should suffer for my careless act. Of course, I found it
charged in my bill, as I had intended, but with it the whole cost of the
set to which it belonged! It never struck me, till I got home, that by
right of proprietorship, I might have indulged in the little luxury of
smashing the remainder--which I think of taking a special journey to
Philadelphia to do!



  I wonder--I suppose a body may wonder--if the outward sweeping and
garnishing one sees in Philadelphia is symbolical of its inward purity?
If the calm placidity of its inhabitants covers up smoldering volcanoes?
It is none of my business, as you say; for all that, the old
proverb--“Still waters run deepest”--would occur to me, as I walked
those lovely streets. An eye-witness to the constant verification of
this truth, in the white-washed, saintly atmosphere of the city of
Boston, may certainly be forgiven a doubt. Do the Philadelphia churches,
like theirs, contain a sprinkling of those meek-faced Pharisees, who
weary Heaven with their long prayers, and in the next breath blast their
neighbor’s character; who contribute large sums to be heard of men, and
frown away from their doors their poverty-stricken relatives? Do those
nun-like Philadelphia women ever gossip, “Caudle lecture” and pout? Do
those correct-looking men know the taste of champagne, and have they
latch-keys? Are their Quaker habits pulled off, when they come “on
business” to this seething Sodom? Or--is it true of them, as Mackay says
of Lady Jane--

     “Her pulse is calm--milk-white her skin,
      She hath not blood enough to sin.”

  It is none of my business, as you say; but still I know that white
raiment is worn alike by the rosy bride and the livid corpse.

  Mischief take these microscopic spectacles of mine! mounted on my nose
by the hypocrites I have known, who glide ever between my outstretched
arms of love and those whom I would enfold. Avaunt! I like Philadelphia,
and I like the Philadelphians, and I _will_ believe in appearances once
more before I die.

  Like a cabinet picture in my memory, is lovely “Wissahickon;” with its
tree-crowned summits--its velvety, star-blossomed mosses; its feathery
ferns, and its sweet-breath’d wild flowers. If any one thinks an editor
is not agreeable out of harness, let him enjoy it, as I did, with Mr.
Fry of “The New York Tribune,” whose early love it was in boyhood. In
such an Eden, listening to the low whisper of the shivering trees, the
dreamy ripple of the wave, and the subdued hum of insect life--well
might the delicate artistic ear of song be attuned.

  But “Wissahickon” boasts other lions than Fry--in the shape (if I may
use a Hibernicism) of a couple of live bears--black, soft, round,
treacherous, and catty; to be gazed upon at a distance, spite of their
chains; to shiver at, spite of their owner’s assurance, as they came as
far as their limits through the trees to look at us, “that they wouldn’t
do nothing to nobody.” It would be a speculation for some Broadway
druggist to buy that one who stood upon his hind legs, and taking a
bottle of Sarsaparilla Soda in his trained fore-paws, drained it
standing with the gusto of a connoisseur.

  Not one beggar did I see in Philadelphia. After witnessing the squalor
which contrasts so painfully with New York luxury and extravagance, this
was an untold relief.

  Philadelphia, too, has what we so much need here--comfortable,
cleanly, convenient, _small_ houses for mechanics; comprising the
not-to-be-computed luxury of a bath-room, and gas, at the attainable
rent of seventy-five or a hundred dollars a year. No house ever yet was
built, broad enough, wide enough, and high enough, to contain two
families. Wars will arise over the disputed territory of front and back
stairs, which lawless childhood--bless its trustful nature--will persist
in believing common ground. But apart from the cozy pleasure of having a
little snuggery of one’s own--where one may cry, or laugh, or sneeze,
without asking leave--this subject in its _moral_ aspect is well worth
the attention of humane New York capitalists--and I trust we have such.


  What does ail me? I’m as blue as indigo. Last night I was as gay as a
bob-o’-link--perhaps that is the reason. Good gracious, hear that wind
howl! Now low--now high--till it fairly shrieks; it excites me like the
pained cry of a human. There’s my pretty California flower--blue as a
baby’s eyes; all shut up--no wonder--I wish my eyes were shut up, too.
What _does_ ail me? I think it is that dose of a Boston paper I have
just been reading (for want of something better to do), whose book
critic calls “Jane Eyre” an “_immoral_ book.” Donkey! It is vain to hope
that _his_ life has been as pure and self-sacrificing as that of
“Charlotte Bronte.” There’s the breakfast-bell--and there’s Tom with
that autumn-leaf colored vest on, that I so hate. Why don’t men wear
pretty vests? why can’t they leave off those detestable stiff collars,
stocks, and things, that make them all look like choked chickens, and
which hide so many handsomely-turned throats, that a body never sees,
unless a body is married, or unless a body happens to see a body’s
brothers while they are shaving. Talk of women’s throats--you ought to
see a whiskered throat I saw once----Gracious, how blue I am! Do you
suppose it is the weather? I wish the sun would shine out and try me.
See the inch-worms on that tree. That’s because it is a pet of mine.
Every thing I like goes just that way. If I have a nice easy dress that
I can sneeze in, it is sure to wear out and leave me to the crucifying
alternative of squeezing myself into one that is not broke into my
figure. I hate new gowns--I hate new shoes--I hate new bonnets--I hate
any thing new except new--spapers, and I was born reading them.

  There’s a lame boy--now why couldn’t that boy have been straight?
There’s a rooster driving round a harem of hens; what do the foolish
things run for? If they didn’t run, he couldn’t chase them--of
course not. Now it’s beginning to rain; every drop perforates my
heart. I could cry tears enough to float a ship. Why _need_ it
rain?--patter--patter--skies as dull as lead--trees nestling up to each
other in shivering sympathy; and that old cow--I hate cows--they always
make a dive at me--I suppose it is because they are females; that old
cow stands stock still, looking at that pump-handle just where, and as
she did, when I went to bed last night. Do you suppose that a cow’s tail
ever gets tired lashing flies from her side; do you suppose her jaws
ever ache with that eternal munching? If there is any place I like, it
is a barn; I mean to go a journey this summer, not “to see Niagara”--but
to see a barn. Oh, the visions I’ve had on haymows! oh, the tears I’ve
shed there--oh, the golden sunlight that has streamed down on me through
the chinks in the raftered roof--oh, the cheerful swallow-twitterings on
the old cross-beams--oh, the cunning brown mice scampering over the
floor--oh, the noble bay-horse with his flowing mane, and arching neck,
and satin sides, and great _human_ eyes. Strong as Achilles--gentle as a
woman. Pshaw! women were never half so gentle to me. _He_ never repulsed
me when I laid my head against his neck for sympathy. _Brute_ forsooth!
I wish there were more such brutes. Poor Hunter--he’s dead, of course,
because I loved him;--the _trunk-maker_ only knows what has become of
his hide and my books. What of that? a hundred years hence and who’ll
care? I don’t think I love any thing--or care for any thing to-day. I
don’t think I shall ever have any feeling again for any body or any
thing. Why don’t somebody turn that old rusty weather-cock, or play me a
triumphant march, or bring me a dew-gemmed daisy?

  There’s funeral--a _child’s_ funeral! Oh--what a wretch I am! Come
here--you whom I love--you who love me; closer--closer--let me twine my
arms about you, and God forgive me for shutting my eyes to his


  People describe me, without saying “by your leave;” a little thought
has just occurred to me that two can play at that game! I don’t go about
with my eyes shut--no tailor can “take a measure” quicker than I, as I
pass along.

  There are Drs. Chapin and Bethune, whose well-to-do appearance in this
world quite neutralizes their Sunday exhortations to “set one’s
affections on a better.” There’s Greeley--but why describe the town
pump? he has been handle-d enough to keep _him_ from Rust-ing. There’s
that Epicurean Rip-lie, critic of the “New York Tribune;” if I have
spelt his name wrong, it was because I was thinking of the unmitigated
fibs he has told in his book reviews! There’s Colonel Fuller, editor of
the “New York Evening Mirror,” handsome, witty, and saucy. There’s Mr.
Young, editor of “The Albion,” who looks too much like a gentlemen to
have abused, in so wholesale a manner, the lady writers of America.
There’s Blank-Blank, Esq., editor of the “New York Blank,” who always
reminds me of what the Scotch parson said to his wife, whom he noticed
asleep in church: “Jennie! Jennie! you have no beauty, as all the
congregation may see, and if you have no grace, I have made but a poor
bargain of it!” There’s Richard Storrs Willis, or, Storrs Richard
Willis, or, Willis Richard Storrs (it is a way that family have to keep
changing their names), editor of the “Musical World,” not a bad paper
either. Richard has a fine profile, a trim, tight figure, always
unexceptionably arrayed, and has a gravity of mien most edifying to one
who has eat bread and molasses out of the same plate with him.

  Behind that beard coming down street in that night-gown overcoat, is
Mr. Charles A. Dana, of the “New York Tribune,” who is ready to say,
“Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,” when he shall have made
the “New York Tribune” like unto the “London Times;” Charles should
remember that the motto of the “London Times” is “Fair Play”--not the
_appearance_ of fair play. And here is Philander Doesticks, of the “New
York Picayune,” and “New York Tribune,” a delightful specimen of healthy
manhood, in a day whose boys at sixteen look as though they had
exhausted life; may his wit continue as keen as his eyes, his heart as
fresh as his complexion, and his fancy as luxuriant as his beard.
There’s Bayard Taylor, “the Oriental Bayard.” Now I don’t suppose Bayard
is to blame for being a _pretty_ man, or for looking so nice and
bandbox-y. But if some public benefactor _would_ tumble his hair and
shirt collar, and tie his cravat in a loose sailor knot, and if Bayard
himself _would_ open that little three-cent piece mouth of his a
l-i-t-t-l-e wider when he lectures, it would take a load off my mind! I
write this, in full view of his interest in the Almighty “Tribune,” and
also set up before him certain “Leaves” for a target, by way of

  And there is George P. Morris--General George Morris--and Briga-_dear_
General at that, with an eye like a star; and more vitality in him than
there is in half the young men who might call him father. May Time, who
has dealt so gently with “The Woodman,” long delay to cut him down.

       *       *       *       *       *

  One day, after my arrival in New York, I met a man striding down
street, in the face of a pin-and-needle wind, that was blowing his long
hair away from his bloodshot eyes, and forcing him to compress his lips,
to keep what breath he had--inside--to warm him; tall and lank, he
clutched his rough blanket shawl about him like a brigand. Fearing he
might be an escaped lunatic, I gave him a wide berth on the sidewalk.
Each day, in my walks, I met him, till at last I learned to watch for
the wearied, haggard-looking face; I think the demonism of it magnetized
me. After looking at the kidded dandies, who flourished their perfumed
handkerchiefs past, the sight of him was as refreshing as a grand, black
thunder cloud, looming up in the horizon, after the oppressive
hum-drum-ness of a sultry day. One night I was at the opera; and amid
its blaze, and glitter, and glare, was that haggard face, looking
tenfold more satanic than ever. Grisi charmed him not, nor Mario either.

  Ah--that strain! who could resist it? A luminous smile in an instant
transforms Lucifer--was that the same haggard face, upon which, but one
moment ago, every passing hour had seemed to set its seal of care, and
sorrow, and disappointment?

  What was that smile like?

  It was like the glorious outbursting of the sun on bud and tree, and
blossom, when the thunder cloud has rolled away. It was like the sudden
flashing of light through a crystal vase, revealing the delicate tracery
of _His_ fingers who made man _originally_ “but little lower than the

  And so when I hear Mr. Fry, the musical thunderer of the “Tribune,”
called “gaunt” and “ugly”--I shake my head incredulously; and when I
read in the “Tribune” a biting article from his caustic pen, dissecting
poor Napoleon (who certainly expiated all his sins, even that wretched
divorce, when he fretted his eagle soul away at St. Helena, beating his
strong, but powerless wings, heavily against his English prison bars);
when I read Mr. Fry’s vulture-like dissection of Napoleon, I recall that
luminous music-born smile, and rejoice that in every man’s heart is an
oasis which the Simoon-breath of worldly care, and worldly toil and
ambition has no power to blight!

  And here comes Barnum--poor Barnum! late so _riant_ and rosy. Kick not
the prostrate lion, ye crowing changelings; you may yet feel his paws in
your faces; Mammon grant it! not for the love I bear to “woolly horses,”
but for the hate I bear to pharisaical summer friends.

  Ah! here comes Count Gurowski; Mars of the “Tribune.” Oh! the
knowledge buttoned up in that shaggy black overcoat! Oh! the prophet
eyes hid by those ugly green goggles! Not a move on the European
checker-board escapes their notice; but no film of patriotism can cloud
to their Russian owner the fall of Sebastopol; and while we gladly
welcome rare foreign talent like his to our shores, our cry still must
be, “Down with tyranny and tyrants.”

  And there is Briggs; whilome editor of “Putnam’s Monthly,” now
factotum of the “New York Times,” a most able writer and indefatigable
worker. People judge him to be unamiable because his pen has a sharp
nib. Fudge! one knows what to expect from a torpedo, but who can count
on an eel? I trust no malicious person will twist this question to the
disparagement of Briggs’s editorial coadjutor.

  And here, by the rood, comes FANNY FERN! FANNY is a woman. For that
she is not to blame; though since she first found it out, she has never
ceased to deplore it. She might be prettier; she might be younger. She
might be older; she might be uglier. She might be better; she might be
worse. She has been both over-praised and over-abused, and those who
have abused her worst, have imitated and copied her most.

  One thing may be said in favor of FANNY: she was NOT, thank
Providence, born in the beautiful, backbiting, sanctimonious,
slandering, clean, contumelious, pharisaical, phiddle-de-dee,
peck-measure city--of Boston!


  Which? How? Where?

  Why _there_; don’t you see? there’s Potiphar Curtis.

  Potiphar Curtis! Ye gods, what a name! Pity my ignorance, reader, I
had not then heard of the great “Howadji”--the only Potiphar I knew of
being that much-abused ancient who--but never mind him; suffice it to
say, I had not heard of “Howadji;” and while I stood transfixed with his
ridiculous cognomen, his coat tails, like his namesake’s rival’s, were
disappearing in the distance. So I can not describe him for you; but I
give you my word, should I ever see him, to do him justice to the tips
of his boots, which, I understand, are of immaculate polish. I have read
his “Papers” though, and to speak in the style of the patronizing
critics who review lady-books, they are very well--_for a man_.

       *       *       *       *       *

  I was sauntering along one sunny day last week, when I saw before me a
young girl, hooped, flounced, fringed, laced, bugled, and ribboned,
regardless of cost. Her mantilla, whether of the “Eugenie” or “Victoria”
pattern I am too ignorant to inform you, was of black, and had more
trimming than I could have believed the most ingenious of dressmakers
could pile on _one_ mantilla, though backed by every dry goods merchant
in New York. Venus! what a figure it was hung on! Short, flat-chested,
narrow-shouldered, angular, and stick-like! her bonnet was a marvel of
Lilliputianism, lightness, and lilacs. Raphael! what a face was under
it! Watery, yellow, black eyes, a sallow, unwholesome skin,
and--Bardolph! what a nose! Imagine a spotted “Seckle pear”--imagine a
gnarled bulb-root--imagine a vanquished prize-fighter’s proboscis, and
you have it! That such a female, with such repulsive features, living in
a Christian country, where there were looking-glasses, should strain
back from the roots what little hair she had, as if her face were
beautiful in its outline--it was incredible.

  Who, or what, was she? One of those poor, bedizened unfortunates who
hang out signal “Barkis” flags? The poor thing had no capital, even for
that miserable market; nobody would have bid for her, but a pawnbroker.

  While I speculated and wondered, she slowly lifted her kidded
forefinger. I was all eyes and ears! A footman in livery sprang forward,
and obsequiously let down the steps of a superb carriage, in waiting, on
whose panels was emblazoned a coat-of-arms. The bundle of millinery--the
stick-like figure inside the hoops--the gay little bonnet, and the
Bardolphian nose, took possession of it. The liveried footman mounted
behind, the liveried coachman cracked his whip on the box, the sleek,
shiny horses arched their necks, the silver-mounted harness glistened
in the sunlight, and the vision was gone. F-a-n-n-y F-e-r-n! is there no
limit to your ignorance? You had been commiserating--actually
_commiserating_--one of the _élite_ of New York!

  All-compensating nature! tossing money-bags to twisted features, and
divorcing beauty from brains; unfortunate they, whom in thy hurry thou
hast overlooked, bestowing neither beauty, brains, nor money!

  That was not all I saw from under my parasol, on that sunny morning. I
saw a young girl--bonnetless, shawlless--beautiful as God often makes
the poor--struggling in the grasp of two sturdy policemen. Tears
streamed from her eyes, while with clasped hands, as she shrank away
from their rough gripe, she plead for release. What was her sin I know
not. It might have been the first downward step in a life of unfriended
and terrible temptation; for the agony in that young face could not have
been feigned; or--she might have been seized only on suspicion; but in
vain she begged, and prayed, and wept. Boys shouted; men, whose souls
were leprous with sin, jeered; and heartless, scornful women “passed by
on the other side.”

  The poor young creature (none the less to be pitied, _had_ she sinned)
goaded to madness by the gathering crowd, seized her long trailing
tresses, and tossing them up like a veil over her shame-flushed and
beautiful face, resigned herself to her fate.

  Many will think any expression of sympathy for this poor unfortunate,
uncalled for. There are enough to defend that side of the question, and
to them I willingly leave it; there are others, who, with myself, could
wish that young girls thus (it may be _innocently_) accused, should not,
before trial, be dragged roughly through the public streets, like
shameless, hardened offenders. There are those who, like myself, as they
look upon the faces of their own fair young daughters, and think of the
long life of happiness or misery before them, will wish that the sword
of the law might be tempered with more mercy.

  The two scenes above recorded, are not _all_ that I saw from under my
parasol, on that sunny morning. I passed the great bow-windows of the
St. Nicholas--those favorite lounging-places for male guests, and other
gentlemen, well pleased to criticise lady pedestrians, who, thanks to
the inventor of parasols, can dodge their battery of glances at will.

  Not so, the gentlemen; who weary with travel and sight-seeing,
unthinkingly fall asleep in those luxurious arm-chairs, in full
view of the public, with their heels on the window-sill, their heads
hanging on one side, and their wide-open mouths so suggestive of
the----_snore_--that I fancy I hear. Heaven forgive these
comical-looking sleepers the cachinatory sideaches they have often given

  Was there _ever_ any thing uglier than a man asleep? Single women who
have traveled in railroad cars, need not be too modest to answer!

  One of the first things I noticed in New York, was the sharp, shrill,
squeaking, unrefined, vixenish, _uneducated_ voices of its women. How
inevitably such disenchanting discord, breaks the spell of beauty!

  Fair New Yorkers, keep your mouths _shut_, if you would conquer.

  By what magnetism has our mention of voices conjured up the form of
Dr. LOWELL MASON? And yet, there he is, as majestic as Old Hundred--as
popular--and apparently as indestructible by _Time_. I would like to see
a pupil of his who does not love him. I defy any one to look at this
noble, patriarchal chorister (as he leads the _congregational singing_
on the Sabbath, in Dr. Alexander’s church) with an unmoistened eye. How
fitting his position--and oh! how befitting God’s temple, the praise of
“_all_ the people.” Should some conquering hero, whose blood had been
shed, free as water, for us and ours, revisit our shores, oh, who, as
his triumphal chariot wheels rolled by, would _pass over to his neighbor
for expression_ the tumultuous gratitude with which his own heart was

  That the mantle of the father should have fallen on the son, is not
surprising; and they who have listened delightedly at Mr. William
Mason’s “Musical Matinée’s” must bear witness how this inherited gift
has been enriched by assiduous culture. Nature in giving him the ear
and genius for a pianist, has also finished off his hands with such
nicety, that, as they dart over the keys, they look to the observer like
little snow-white scampering mice.

  Ah--here is Dr. Skinner! no misnomer that: but what a logician--what
an orator! Not an unmeaning sentence--not a superfluous word--not an
unpolished period escapes him. In these day of superficial, botched,
evangelical apprentice-work, it is a treat to welcome a master workman.
Thank Providence, _all_ the talent is not on the side of Beelzebub!

  Vinegar cruets and vestry meetings! here come a group of Bostonians!
Mark their puckered, spick-and-span self-complaisance! Mark that
scornful gathering up of their skirts as they sidle away from that
gorgeous Magdalen who, God pity and help her, _may_ repent in her robes
of unwomanly shame, but they in their “mint and anise,” whitewashed

  I close with a little quotation, not that it has any thing to do with
my subject, but that it is merely a poetical finish to my article. Some
people have a weakness for poetry; I have; it is from the pen of the
cant-hating HOOD.

     “A pride there is of rank--a pride of birth,
        A pride of learning, and a pride of purse,
      A London pride--in short, there be on earth
        A host of prides, some better, and some worse;
      But of all prides, since Lucifer’s attaint,
        The proudest swells a _self-elected saint_.

      To picture that cold pride, so harsh and hard,
      Fancy a peacock, in a poultry-yard;
        Behold him in conceited circles sail,
      Strutting and dancing, and planted stiff
      In all his pomp and pageantry, as if
        _He felt “the eyes of Europe” on his tail_!”


  I confess to being nervous. I don’t admire the individual who places a
foot upon the rounds of the chair on which I am sitting; or beats a
prolonged tattoo with his fingers on the table; or stands with his hands
on a creaking door, moving it backward and forward, while he performs an
interminable leave-taking; or spins napkin-rings, while he waits for the
dessert; or tips his chair back on its hind legs, in the warmth of
debate; or tells jokes as old as Noah’s ark; or levels volleys of puns
at me when I am not in the laughing mood.

  Yes, I’m nervous. I would rather not hear a dog bark more than half
the night. The scissors-grinder’s eternal bell-tinkle, and the soap-fat
man’s long-drawn whoop, send me out of my chair like a pop-gun. I break
down under the best minister, after “forty-ninthly;” and am prepared to
scream at any minute after every seat in a street car is filled, and
every body is holding somebody in their laps; and somebody is treading
on every body’s toes in the aisle; and every door and window is shut;
and onions and musk, and tobacco and jockey-club, and whisky, and
patchouli are mingling their sweets; and the unconscionable conductor
continues to beckon to misguided females upon the sidewalk, with whole
families of babies (every one of whom is sucking oranges or
sugar-candy), to crowd in, and add the last drop of agony to my brimming

  Yes, I think I may say I am nervous. I prefer, when the windows of an
omnibus are open, and the wind “sets that way,” that the driver should
not ex-spit-orate any oftener than is necessary. If the skirt of my
dress _must_ be torn from my belt by hasty feet upon the sidewalk, I
prefer it to be done by a man’s boot rather than a woman’s
un-apologizing slipper; if the fringe of my mantle is foreordained “to
catch,” the gods grant it may be in a surtout button rather than on a
feminine watch-chain. If women shopkeepers were less lavish of cross
looks, and crossed sixpences, I might have more faith in the predicted
“millennium.” I don’t wish the Irish woman any harm who tortures me by
grinding on her accordeon in the cars, but, if I thought she had settled
her little reckoning with the priest, I should be happy to peruse her
obituary. I had rather not exchange a pleasant parlor circle for the
company of a huge bundle of “proof, to be called for by seven o’clock
the next morning;” and I had rather not have the pianos, in five
different houses near, each playing different tunes while I am revising
it. I don’t wish to interfere with infant boys who are fond of
bonfires, but if they could make them of something beside dried leaves,
it would be a saving to my bronchial apparatus. If people who address me
would spell “Fanny” with two ns, I should be more likely to answer their
letters. If the little cherub, in jacket and trowsers, who blows the
organ of a Sunday, would stand behind a screen, it would materially
assist my devotions. If all the men in New York had as handsome a beard
as the editor of the ----, I would not object to see them h--air ’em. I
should rather the New Yorker would not say that such and such a
paragraph would “go all over,” instead of “everywhere.” I should rather
the Connecticuter, when he does not comprehend me, would not startle me
out of my chair with a sharp _Which?_ I should rather the Yankee would
not say “he was going to wash _him_,” or speak of the “back _side_ of
the church.” And, lastly, if all the people who are born with seven
fingers on one hand, or feet minus toes, or two noses, would not select
me in the street to inspect their monstrosities, my epitaph might
possibly be deferred a while longer.


  I have before me a simple but imploring letter from a little child,
begging me “to write her a composition.” I could number scores of such
which I have received. I allude to it for the sake of calling the
attention of parents and teachers to this cruel bugbear of childhood,
with which I can fully sympathize, although it never had terrors for me.
The multiplication table was the rock on which I was scholastically
wrecked; my total inability to ascertain “if John had ten apples, and
Thomas took away three, how many John would have left,” having often
caused me to wish that all the Johns in creation were--well, never mind
that, now. I have learned to like Johns since!

  But to return to the subject. Just so long as themes like “The Nature
of Evil,” or “Hydrostatics,” or “Moral Science,” and kindred subjects,
are given out to poor bewildered children, to bite their nails and grit
their teeth over, while the ink dries on the nip of their upheld pens,
just so long will “composition day” dawn on them full of terrors. Such
themes are bad enough, but when you add the order to write three pages
at a mark, you simply invite them to diffuse unmeaning repetitions, as
subversive of good habits of composition as the command is tyrannical,
stupid, and ridiculous. You also tempt to duplicity, for a child,
cornered in this way, has strong temptations to pass off for its own
what is the product of the brains of another; and this of itself, as a
matter of principle, should receive serious consideration at the hands
of these child-tormentors. A child should never be allowed, much less
_compelled_ to write words without ideas. Never be guilty of such a
piece of stupidity as to return a child’s composition to him with the
remark, “It is very good, but it is _too short_.” If he has said all he
has to say, what more would you have? what more can you get but
repetition? Tell him to _stop when he gets through if it is at the end
of the first line_--a lesson which many an adult has yet to learn.

  In the first place, give a child no theme above his comprehension and
capacity; or, better still, allow him to make his own selection, and
always consider one line, intelligibly and concisely expressed, better
than pages of wordy bombast. In this way only can he be taught to write
well, sincerely, and fluently. Nature teaches you this: The little bird
at first takes but short flights to the nearest twig or tree. By-and-by,
as his strength and confidence grow, they are voluntarily and
pleasurably lengthened, till at last you can scarce follow him, as he
pierces the clouds. This forcing nature--pushing the little fledgeling
rudely out of the nest, can result only in total incapacity, or, at
best, but crippled flights. In the name of the children, I enter my
earnest protest against it, and beg teachers and parents to think of and
remedy this evil.


  Let the world fly off its axle any hour in the twenty-four, save the
breakfast hour. Ruffle me not then, and I promise to out-Socrates
Socrates, though it should rain tribulations all the rest of the day. If
I am to have but one glimpse of sunshine until nightfall, let it be
then. A plague on him or her who sits down to coffee (all hail coffee!)
with a doleful phiz. The witches fly away with that female who presents
herself in curl-papers, or introduces herself with a yawn. Unassoiled be
that grocer, who offends my proboscis with a doubtful egg; garroted be
that dairyman who waters my milk; kneaded be that fat podge of a baker
who is tardy with his hot rolls.

  Tell me no disagreeables--be not argumentative over our Mocha;
discourse not of horrid murders, nor yet dabble in the black sea of
politics. Tell me not the price of any article I am eating, neither
inquire of me prematurely what I will have for my dinner. Let thy
“Good-morning” have _heart_ in it, and touch thy lips to my eyelids as
thou passest to thy seat. If thou hast a clover-blossom, or a babe, set
it before me; and dream not, because my heart’s incense rises silently
as its perfumed breath, that I praise not God for the sweet morning.


  I have seen Greenwood. With Mount Auburn for my ideal of what a
cemetery _should_ be, I was prepared for disappointment. But the two are
not comparable. Greenwood is the larger, and more indebted to the hand
of art; the gigantic trees of Mount Auburn are the growth of half a
century; but then Greenwood has its ocean view, which, paradoxical as it
may seem, is not to be overlooked. The entrance to Mount Auburn I think
the finer. Its tall army of stately pines stand guard over its silent
sleepers, and strew their fragrant leaves on the pathway, as if to
deaden the sound of the carriage wheels, which, at each revolution,
crush out their aromatic incense, sweet as the box of spikenard which
kneeling Mary broke at Jesus’ feet.

  Greenwood has the greater monumental variety, attributable, perhaps
(more than to design), to the motley population of New York; the
proprietors of each tomb, or grave, carrying out their national ideas of
sepulture. This is an advantage. Mount Auburn sometimes wearies the eye
with its monumental monotony. Mount Auburn, too, _had_ (for he long
since laid down in its lovely shade), a gray-haired old gate-keeper,
courteous and dignified: “a man of sorrows,” whose bald, uncovered head,
many will remember, who have stood waiting at the portal to bear in
their dead. Many a bouquet, simple but sweet, of my favorite flowers
have I taken from his palsied hand; and many a sympathizing look,
treasured up in my heart from him whom Death had also bereft of all.
Greenwood has, at least if my afternoon visit was a fair exponent, its
jocund grave-diggers, who, with careless poise, and indecent foot, of
haste stumble on with the unvarnished coffin of the poor, and exchange
over the fresh and narrow mound, the comrade’s time-worn jest. Money has
its value, for it purchases gentler handling and better manners.

  Let those who will, linger before the marble statue, or chiseled urn
of the rich; dearer to me is the grave of the poor man’s child, where
the tiny, half-worn shoe, is sad and fitting monument. Dearer to me, the
moldy toys, the whip, the cap, the doll, the faded locks of hair, on
which countless suns have risen and set, and countless showers have shed
their kindly tears. And yet for the infant army who slumber there, I can
not weep; for I bethink me of the weary toil and strife; the wrecks that
strew the life-coast; the plaint of the weary-hearted, unheard in life’s
fierce clamor; the remorseless, iron heel of strength, on the quivering
heart of weakness; the swift-winged, poisoned arrow of cruel slander;
the hearts that are near of kin as void of love; and I thank God that
the little shoes were laid aside, and the dreary path untrod.

  And yet, not all drear, for, as I pass along, I read, in graven lines,
of those who periled life to save life; who parted raging billows and
forked flames, at woman’s wild, despairing shriek, and childhood’s
helpless wail. Honor to such dauntless spirits, while there are eyes to
moisten and hearts to feel!

  Beautiful Greenwood! with thy feathery swaying willows, thy
silver-voiced fountains and glassy lakes: with thy grassy knolls and
shady dells; with thy “Battle Hill,” whose sod of yore was nourished by
brave men’s blood. The sailor here rests him well, in sound of old
Ocean’s roar; the fireman heeds nor booming bell, nor earthly trump, nor
hurried tramp of anxious feet; the pilot’s bark is moored and voyage
o’er; the school-boy’s lesson conned; beauty’s lid uncloses not, though
rarest flowers bloom above her; no husband’s hand is outstretched to her
who stoops with jealous care to pluck the obtrusive weed which hides the
name she, lonely, bears; no piping, bird-like voice, answers the
anguished cry, “My child, my child!” but, still the mourners come, and
sods fall dull and heavy on loved and loving hearts, and the busy spade
heeds never the dropping tears; and for her who writes, and for them who
read--ere long--tears in their turn shall fall. God help us all.


  It was an unlucky day; every body has known such. I got up just one
hour too late, and spent the whole day vainly trying to make it up. It
was useless. Things were predestined to go wrong. I felt it. Hooks and
eyes, strings and buttons were in the maddening conspiracy. Shoes and
stockings were mis-mated; there was a pin in the towel on which I wiped
my face; my hair-brush and comb had absconded, and my tooth-brush and
nail-brush had gone to keep them company. I ate a hurried breakfast,
salting my coffee and sugaring my beefsteak: for I recollected that I
had pressing business down town which required a cool head and punctual
feet. As I looked at my watch, I saw that it was already time that I was
on my way. I wound it up with a jerk, snapping the crystal, and
dislocating a spring. Now my boot laces knotted and twisted, and defied
every attempt to coerce them into duty; and what was worse, upon looking
for the MS. (the product of hours and days of labor), I found that I had
burned it, in my absent state of mind, along with some waste paper! and
I recollected with agony how indifferently I had watched the last
sparkling fragment, as the hated wind merrily whistled it up the

  I held my head for one distracted minute! Was it possible to recall it
as it was originally written? Even suppose I could? think of all that
lost labor (on heavenly days, too, when the pleasant sunlight wooed me
out-of-doors), and think of all that jog-trot punctuating to be gone over
again. For me, who _hate_ stops--who believe only in an exclamation
point and a dash! I, who turn my back disdainfully upon an interrogation
point, who despise coal-on (save in January), who religiously believe
that a writer should no more be expected to fritter away his brains on
stupid stops, than that an artist should be required to manufacture with
his own hands the wooden frames used for his pictures.

  Well, the MS. was gone--stops and all--past praying for. I had not
even time to whine about it; I must go directly down town. I had the
misfortune to be boarding, so every drawer, closet, and cupboard must be
locked before starting; for locking one’s room door is a mere farce
while there are duplicate keys in the house. Yes, I locked them, and
unlocked them, too, twenty times or more, as I recollected some
handkerchief, collar or purse, which I had forgotten to take out.

  All right now, said I, dolorously, as I put the rattling keys in my
pocket, descended the interminable hotel stairs, and gained the street.
I had passed two blocks when I discovered that the pair of gloves I had
brought were both for one hand; the thermometer was at nipping point and
I had left my muff behind! I thrust one bare hand into my shawl, shut
my teeth together, and exclaimed, as I looked Fate full in the
face--now, do your worst.

  And so it did!

  Down came the snow; had I taken my umbrella, not a flake would have
fallen; every body knows that. I looked at the omnibusses; they were all
full--full of great, lazy, black-coated men. I hate a black coat; I
don’t know why a man, unless he has received “the right hand of
fellowship,” should button himself up in one. Yes, there they sat, as
solemn as so many parsons, with their hats slouched over their faces,
thinking to save time (while they ruined their eye-sight) by reading the
morning papers as they joggled along to their offices. Meanwhile down
came the pitiless snow, as I plodded along. _Plodded_, for every
wheel-barrow, box, bale, cask, cart, and wagon, got purposely across my
track; and not for the life of me could I remember a sentence of that
ascension MS.

  I tried not to meet any body, but I met every body, and every body WOULD
speak to me: beggars stopped me, country folks singled me out to inquire
the way--_me!_ why _me?_ with a street full of people? Did I direct them
wrong? Let them learn to ask somebody next time who does not mourn a
lost MS.; somebody whose life is not spent in locking up things and
losing the keys; somebody who is not required to write an article with a
stupid chambermaid flying in and out every ten minutes, leaving your
door ajar, whirling your papers across the room, and scattering your
ideas to the remorseless winds; somebody whose meals are not _always_
not to be had, when type and printers wait for no woman.

  This is a digression. I reached the goal at last; simply and only
because one who keeps moving must inevitably fetch up somewhere. I
performed my errand, or thought I had, till I had got half-way home,
when I recollected an important fact omitted--_n’importe_. I was
desperate now. Guns and pistols could not have turned my steps back
again. How it blew! how it snowed! I did not hurry one step; I took a
savage pleasure in thinking of my spoiled bonnet-ribbon, wet feet, and
ice-ermined skirts. I even stopped, as I observed some umbrella-shielded
pedestrian looking wonderingly at me, and gazed with affected delight at
the miserable feminine kick-shaws in the shop windows, just to show my
sublime indifference to the warring elements.

  I reached my room, by dint of climbing the obnoxious stairs. I turned
the key, as I fondly hoped, on all my species.

  Rat, tat, rat, tat!

  Shall I hear it?

  Not I!

  Rat, tat, tat, rat, tat!

  It is of no use; I shall go mad with that thumping. I had rather face
Cloven Foot himself than hear it. I open the door; it is my washerwoman.
She has a huge pile of clothes to be counted, and sorted, and paid for,
too! She dumps them down on the floor, just as if every minute was not
to me so much gold-dust until that MS. was resurrectionized. I look
around for my list of the clothes. It is not in the big dictionary, no,
nor in the Bible, no, nor in the pocket of my blue, red, gray, green, or
plaid dress.

  Bother! I exclaim, I can’t find it. I dare say you have them all
right; so I commence taking them out, and counting the pieces with an
eye to her pay. What’s that? A dickey, two shirts, and a vest! I hold
them up to the light with the tips of my fingers.

  Woman alive! what need has a female of such garments?

  She had made a mistake. She had brought me Mr. ----’s clothes--I will
not expose him by telling his name, for they were wretchedly ragged; but
as I turned the key again on them and her, I squeezed this drop of
comfort out of my misery--Thank heaven, I have not to mend those

  Rat, tat, tat! Merciful man! what now?

  A bundle of proofs, big as my head, to read and return by the bearer
immediately, and quick at that.

  I sat down. So did the devil. I began to read, pen in hand. I could
not remember, with my bewildered brain, whether “_stet_” stood for “let
it be,” or “take it out;” or what “_d_” signified in a typesetter’s
alphabet. I read on. Could it be possible that _I_ ever wrote such a
disconnected sentence as this? No, they have left out an entire line;
and forgot to send the MS. copy, too!

  Devil take it! I exclaim; and so he does (the literal infernal!) and
is out of sight before I can explain that the unorthodox exclamation was
wrung out of me by the last drop in my brimming cup on that unlucky day.


  Sissing fry-pans, and collapsed flapjacks--what a hot day! Not a
breath of air stirring, and mine almost gone. Fans enough, but no nerve
to wield ’em. Food enough, but no strength to chew it. Chairs hot; sofa
hotter; beds hottest. Sun on the back stoop; sun on the front stoop; and
hot neighbors on both sides. Kittens mewing; red-nosed babies crying;
poor little Hot-ten-tots! dogs dragging about with protruding tongues
and inquiring tails; cockerels feebly essaying to crow. Every thing
sticky, and flabby, and limpsy. Can’t read; can’t sew; can’t write;
can’t talk; can’t walk; can’t even sleep; hate every body who passes
through the room to make it hotter.

  Now, just see that fly. If I have knocked her off my nose once, I have
done it forty times; nothing will serve her but the bridge of my nose. I
say _her_, because I am sure it is a female, on account of its
extraordinary and spiteful persistence.

  “Will I have any thing to drink?” No. Wine heats me; lemonade sours
me; water perspires me. “Will I have the blinds closed?” No. “Will I
have ’em open?” No. “What _will_ I have?” Well--if there’s an old maid
to be had, for heaven’s sake, walk her through this room to cool it.
“What will I have for dinner?” Now, isn’t that the last drop in my
brimming cup? Dinner, indeed! Soup hot; fish hot; beef hot; mutton hot;
chicken hot;--ugh! Hot potatoes; hot squash; hot peas; hot pudding; hot
children;--ugh! Tell that butcher to make his will, or get out of my
kitchen. “Lady down stairs wishes to see me?” In the name of Adam and
Eve, take all my dresses off the pegs and show her--but never believe
I’d be so mad as to get into them for any body living.


  Was there ever any thing like these insensate New Yorkers? Peep with
me into that undertaker’s shop, sandwiched between a millinery
establishment and an oyster saloon. See the coffins, Behemoth and
Lilliputian, pyramided in corners, spread out in rows, challenging in
platoons, on the sidewalk, the passers-by; while in the windows are
corpse-caps, stiffly starched and plaited, with white ribbon strings,
ready to be tied under your chin, or mine.

  See the jolly owner, seated on a chair in the middle of his shop, with
his legs crossed, his hat on the back of his head, nonchalantly smoking,
with his children about his knee; as if the destroying angel had charge
to pass unvisited _his_ blood-besprinkled door-post; as if eyes now
bright with hope were never to weep themselves dim over those narrow

  Now a customer comes in; a young man, whose swollen lids tell their
own sorrowful tale. The jolly undertaker, wide awake, throws away his
cigar stump, hands a chair to the new comer, exchanges a few words with
him, draws pencil and paper from his pocket, and _taking an infant’s
coffin into his lap for a writing desk_, commences scribbling down
directions. Meanwhile, a hearse rattles up to the door; none of your
poor-house hearses, in rusty black, with “seedy” driver, and hang-dog
looking horses; but a smart, sonsie, gay-looking New York turn-out--fit
for a turtle-consuming, turtle-consumed mayor; with nine huge ostrich
feathers, black and white, nodding patronizingly to the a-gape urchins,
who stand around the door, who are almost willing to get into a coffin
to have a ride with them--with two spanking white horses, equal to Dan
Rice’s “Excelsior,” with ostrich feathers in either ear, flowing as
their well-combed tails, which whisk gracefully over the black velvet
pall and trappings, as if Life were a holiday and Death its Momus.

  Now the young man staggers out, shuddering as he passes the hearse,
and screening his swollen lids from curious gazers and the obtrusive
sunshine, to whom broken hearts are an every-day story. The jolly
undertaker rubs his hands, for death is busy and business is brisk. The
young man has made no bargain with him beforehand as to prices; how
could he? his heart was full of the widowed sister he left behind, and
her newly-made orphans; he only remarked, as he left the street and
number, “to do what is customary;” and custom requires that carriages
shall be provided for all the “friends and acquaintances” who may wish
to go. So “friends and acquaintances” gather (when the funeral hour
arrives). Why not? The day is fine and a ride to the out-of-town
cemetery pleasant, and (to them) inexpensive; they whose eyes scarce
rested with interest on the living form, gaze ceremoniously and
curiously on the dead; the widow’s tears are counted, the mourning
dresses of herself and children scrutinized; the prayer that always
falls so immeasurably short of what critical ears demand, is said; a
great silence--then a rustling--bustling--whispering--then the coffin is
borne past the widow, who sees it through a mist of tears; and then the
long procession winds its way through harlequin Broadway, with its brass
bands, and military companies, its thundering omnibusses, its bedizened
courtezans, its laughing pedestrians, and astonished, simple-hearted
country-folk. Wheels lock, milk carts and market wagons join the
procession; Barnum’s band pipes from out the Museum balcony merry
“Yankee Doodle,” and amid curses and shouts, laughter and tears, the
mournful cavalcade moves on.

  And now the incongruous showy farce is over, and the “friends and
acquaintances” alighting at their respective houses, re-cross their
unblighted thresholds, and the widow and children return to their
desolate hearth-stone (_how_ desolate, God and themselves only know);
while poverty, strange and unbidden guest, creeps stealthily after them,
and takes the empty chair.

  O clamorous tyrant, Custom! O thoughtless, unfriendly friends, who can
mourn for the dead only in carriages, that swallow up the little legacy
left for the living, by the dead for whom you profess to grieve!

  Beautiful the calm faith of Swedenborg, turning its hopeful eye away
from such childish sackcloth mummery; anchoring where no wave of earthly
trouble rolls; gliding through the accustomed life-paths, not lonely,
not hopeless; feeling still the warm life-clasp, hearing still the loved
voices, breaking the bread, or blessing the meat.


  Why will parents use that expression? What right have you to have a
_favorite_ child? The All-Father maketh his sun to shine alike upon the
daisy and the rose. Where would you be, were His care measured by your
merits or deserts? Is your child none the less your child, that nature
has denied him a fluent tongue, or forgotten her cunning, when, in
careless mood, she fashioned his limbs? Because beauty beams not from
the eye, is there no intelligence there? Because the rosy flush mantles
not the pale cheek, does the blood never tingle at your coldness or
neglect? Because the passive arms are not wound about your neck, has the
soul no passionate yearnings for parental love? O, how often does God,
more merciful than you, passing by the _Josephs_ of your household,
stoop in his pity and touch those quivering lips with a live coal from
off the altar? How often does this neglected one, burst from out the
chrysalis in which your criminal coldness has enveloped him, and soaring
far above your wildest parental imaginings, compel from your ambition,
what he could not gain from your love?

  How often does he replenish with liberal hand the coffers which the
“favorite child,” in the selfishness which you fostered, has drained of
their last fraction. “He that is first shall be last, and the last shall
be first.” Let parents write this on their heart tablets. Let them
remember it when they repulse the little clinging arms, or turn a deaf
ear to the childish tale of sorrow. O, gather up those clinging tendrils
of affection with gentlest touch; trample them not with the foot of
haste or insensibility rudely in the dust.

     “And they, in the darkest of days, shall be
      Greenness, and beauty, and strength to thee.”


  To Mary M., who desires a frank expression of opinion from the
undersigned, with regard to her marrying an old bachelor.

  Answer. Don’t do it. A man who for so long a period has had nobody but
himself to think of, who knows where the finest oysters and venison
steaks are to be found, and who has for years indulged in these and
every other little selfish inclination unchecked, will, you may be sure
(without punning), make a most miserable _help-meat_. When you have tea,
he will wish it were coffee; when you have coffee, he will wish it were
tea; when you have both, he will desire chocolate; and when you have
all, he will tell you that they are made much better at his favorite
restaurant. His shirts never will be ironed to suit him, his cravats
will be laid in the drawer the wrong way, and his pocket-handkerchiefs
marked in the wrong corner. He will always be happy to wait upon you,
provided _your_ way is his way; but an extra walk round a block will put
him out of humor for a week. He will be as unbending as a
church-steeple--as exacting as a Grand Turk, and as impossible to please
as a teething baby. Take my advice, Mary; give the old fossil the
mitten, and choose a male specimen who is in the transition state, and
capable of receiving impressions.


  Hoary-headed old Winter, I have had enough of you! Not that I shrink
from facing your rough breath, in a ten-mile walk, on the coldest day on
which you ever made icicles; for I am no fair-weather sailor, not I; I
have no thousand-dollar dress to spoil, and I am not afraid to increase
the dimensions of my ankle by a never-to-be-sufficiently-adored
India-rubber boot. I am dependent neither upon cars nor omnibusses,
though I am, like other mortals, sometimes brought up short for want of
a ferry-boat; but I am tired of frozen ground. I am tired of denuded
trees, and leafless vines and branches, scraping against walls and
fences, in the vain attempt to frictionize a little warmth into their
stiffened limbs. I am tired of gray skies, and the mournful wailing of
the winter wind; the stars have a steel-like glitter, and the moonbeams
on the snow petrify me like the ghost of a smile on the face of a
wire-drawn old maid. I long, like a prisoned bird, for a flight into
green fields--I can not sing without the blossoming flowers. I would go
to sleep with them, nor wake till the soft spring sheds warm, joyful
tears, to call forth her hidden treasures.

  And yet, old Winter, I have liked thee less well than now; when the
hungry fire devoured the last remaining faggot, and Nature’s frozen face
was but typical of the faces that my adverse fortune had petrified; but
who cares for thee or them? So surely as prosperity brought back their
sycophantic smiles, so surely shall thy stiff neck be bowed before the
bounty-laden Spring. “Hope on--hope ever;” and yet how meaningless fall
these words upon the ear of the poor widow, who but a stone’s throw from
my window, sits watching beside her dead husband, heeding neither the
wailing cry of the babe at her breast, nor the wilder wail of the winter
wind, as it drifts the snow against the door.

  “Hope on--hope ever.” She looks at you with a vacant stare, and then
at the lifeless form before her, as if that were her mute answer. You
tell her to trust in God, when it is her bitterest sorrow that the voice
of her rebellious heart is, “Ye have taken away my idol, and what have I

  “Left?” poor mourner. O, so much, that you can not see until those
falling tears have cleared your vision and eased your pain. “Left?” the
sweet memory of unclouded earthly love, of which not even death can rob
you; tones and looks which you will count over, when no human eye sees
you, as the miser tells his hoarded gold.

  “Left?” his child and yours, who, with the blessed baptism of holy
tears, you will call God’s. “Left?” O, many a household, whose inmates
pressing their anguished brows under _living_ sorrows, would bless God
for the sweet memories of earthly love that you cling to in your pain.
“Left?” tearful mourner; a crown to win, sweeter for the wearing, when
thorns have pressed the brow.

  “Left?” a cross to bear, but O, so light to carry, when heaven is the

     “One by one thy griefs shall meet thee,
        Do not fear an armed band;
      One will fade as others greet thee,
        Shadows passing through the land.

     “Do not look at life’s long sorrow,
        See how small each moment’s pain;
      God will help thee for to-morrow,
        Every day begin again.”


  I maintain it: all the heroism of the present day is to be found among
women. I say it to your beards. I am sick of such remarks as these:
“Poor fellow! he was unfortunate in business, and so he took to
drinking;” or--“poor fellow! he had a bad wife, and lost all heart.”
What does a _woman_ do who is unfortunate in business, I would like to
know? Why--she tries again, of course, and keeps on trying to the end of
the chapter, notwithstanding the pitiful remuneration man bestows upon
her labor, notwithstanding his oft-repeated attempts to cheat her out of
it when she has earned it! What does a woman do, who has a bad,
improvident husband? Works all the harder, to be sure, to make up his
deficiencies to her household; works day and night; smiles when her
heart and back are both breaking; speaks hopeful words when her very
soul is dying within her; denies herself the needed morsel to increase
her children’s portion, and crushed neither by the iron gripe of
poverty, nor allured by the Judas-smile of temptation, hopefully puts
her trust in Him who feedeth the sparrows.

  She “the weaker sex?” Out on your pusillanimous manhood! “Took to
drinking because he was unhappy!” Bless--his--big--Spartan--soul! How I
admire him! Couldn’t live a minute without he had every thing to his
mind; never had the slightest idea of walking round an obstacle, or
jumping over it; never practiced that sort of philosophical
gymnastics--couldn’t grit his teeth at fate, and defy it to do its
worst, because they chattered so;--poor fellow! Wanted buttered toast,
and had to eat dry bread; liked “2.40,” and had to go a-foot; fond of
wine, and had to drink Croton; couldn’t smoke, though his stove-pipe
did; rushed out of the world, and left his wife and children to battle
with the fate that his coward soul was afraid to meet. Brave,
magnanimous fellow!

  Again--we are constantly hearing that the extravagance of women debars
young men from the bliss of matrimony. Poor things! they can’t select a
wife _from out_ the frivolous circle of fashion; there are no refined,
well-educated, lady-like, practical girls and women, whom any man, with
a man’s soul, might be proud to call wife, nobly struggling for an
honest maintenance as writers, governesses, teachers, semptresses, and
milliners. They never read such an advertisement as this in the papers:

       “Wanted, by a young girl, a situation as governess. She can teach
     the English branches, French and Italian; and is willing to accept
     a small remuneration, to secure a respectable home.”

  Fudge! None so blind as they who _won’t_ see. The truth is, most of
the young men of the present day are selfish to the backbone. “Poor,”
too--very poor!--never go to Shelby’s or Delmonico’s for a nice little
game supper, washed down with champagne at $2 a bottle; never smoke
dozens of cigars a day, at six cents a piece; never invite--_themselves_
to go to concerts, the opera, or the theater! Wish they could afford to
get married, but can’t, at least not till, as they elegantly express it,
“they meet a pretty girl who has the tin.”


  “Spring cleaning!” Oh misery! Ceilings to be whitewashed, walls to be
cleaned, paint to be scoured, carpets to be taken up, shaken, and put
down again; scrubbing women, painters, and whitewashers, all engaged for
months a-head, or beginning on your house to secure the job, and then
running off a day to somebody else’s to secure another. Yes, spring
cleaning to be done; closets, bags, and baskets to be disemboweled; furs
and woolens to be packed away; children’s last summer clothes to be
inspected (not a garment that will fit--all grown up like Jack’s
bean-stalk); spring cleaning, sure enough. I might spring my feet off
and not get all that done. When is that book of mine to get written, I’d
like to know? It’s Ma’am, will you have this? and Ma’am, will you have
that? and Ma’am, will you have the other thing? May I be kissed if I
hadn’t more time to write when I lived in an attic on salt and potatoes,
and scrubbed the floor myself. Must I turn my house topsy-turvy, and
inside out, once a year, because my grandmother did, and send my MSS.
flying to the four winds, for this traditionary “spring cleaning.”
Spring fiddlestick! Must I buy up all Broadway to be made into dresses,
because all New York women go fashion-mad? What’s the use of having a
house, if you can’t do as you like in it? What’s the use of being an
authoress, if you can’t indulge in the luxury of a shabby bonnet, or a
comfortable old dress? What’s the use of dressing when your cook can
outshine you? What is the use of dragging brocade and velvet through
ferry-boats and omnibusses, to serve as mats for market-baskets and
dirty boots? “There goes Lily Larkspur, the authoress, in that
everlasting old black silk.” Well--what’s the use of being well off, if
you can’t wear old clothes. If I was poor, as I was once, I couldn’t
afford it. Do you suppose I’m going to wrinkle up my face, scowling at
unhappy little boys for treading on a five-hundred-dollar silk? or fret
myself into a fever because some _gentleman_ throws a cigar-stump on its
lustrous trailing folds? no, no; life is too short for that, and much
too earnest. Give me good health--the morning for writing, and no
interruptions, plenty of fresh air afterwards, and an old gown to enjoy
it in, and you may mince along in your peacock dry-goods till your soul
is as shriveled as your body.


  I looked up--they were laughing at me--I am accustomed to be laughed
at--so it neither moved nor astonished me. They had been laughing
because I had been reading so long, and so intently, the advertising
page of my daily paper. And why not? when it is often to me the most
interesting part of it. To be sure, I look at it with a pair of eyes
that have not always been undimmed with tears; I think sometimes of the
unwritten tragedy there may be in a four-line advertisement which scarce
arrests the careless, laughing eye. I think of the days and nights of
misery it took, the suffering and privation, to goad the sensitive heart
up to its first appeal to the public ear--the trembling fingers which
may have penned it--the tears which well-nigh obliterated it--the leaden
feet which bore it, almost helplessly, to its destination.

  No, I was not vexed that they laughed at me, for how should they,
whose life-path had been always flower-bestrown, think of these sad

  I had been reading what follows. Listen

       “A young lady, suddenly thrown upon her own resources for
     support, desires a situation as Governess. She can teach all the
     English branches, understands French, German, and Italian, and
     would be willing to accept even the smallest compensation.”

  I saw her! homeless--friendless--heart-broken; willing to accept the
most humiliating, grinding conditions for a safe and _immediate_ shelter
for her innocence. I saw the cold, calculating eye of some lady
fashionist fasten upon the touching appeal. I saw her place the young
girl’s pressing necessities in one scale, and her avarice in the other.
I saw her include, in her acceptance of the post of governess, that of
lace-laundress and nursery-maid; and I saw the poor young creature
meekly, even thankfully, accept the conditions, while her wealthy
patroness questioned her qualifications, depreciated her services, and
secretly rejoiced at securing such a prize, at such an economical rate
of compensation.

  I saw another young girl similarly situated, but even less fortunate
than the one of whom I have spoken. I saw the libidinous eye of a wretch
who reads the advertising sheet with an eye to “young governesses,”
fasten upon her advertisement. I saw him engage her, as he has others,
for some fictitious family, in some fictitious place, constituting
himself the head of it, and her escort on the way--only to turn, alas!
her sweet innocent trust into the bitter channel of a life-long and
unavailing remorse.

  I took up the paper and read again:

       “Who wants a boy?--A widower, with six children, will dispose of
     an infant to some family inclined to receive it.”

  That a widower might possibly be so situated as to render such a
measure necessary, I could conceive, but that a _father_ could pen such
a brusque, hilarious, jocular--“_halloa-there_”--announcement of the
fact, rather stunned me.

  “Who wants a boy?”

  As if it were a colt, or a calf, or a six-weeks young pup--or any
thing under heaven but his own flesh and blood! as if the little
innocent had never lain beneath the loving heart of _her_ whose last
throb was for its sweet helplessness--last prayer for its vailed future.

  Shade of the mother hover over that child!

  I read again:

       “Information wanted of a little girl, who, at the age of five
     years, was placed, ten years ago, in ---- alms-house.”

  I thought of _her_ cheerless childhood (as I looked around my own
bright hearthstone at my own happy children). I saw _her_ yearning
vainly for the sweet ties of kindred. I followed her from thence out
into the world, where all _but_ herself, even the humblest, seem to have
some human tie to make life sweet; I saw her wandering hither and
thither, like Noah’s weary dove, without finding the heart’s
resting-place; wondering, when she had time to wonder (for the heavy
burden of daily toil which her slender shoulders bent beneath), if one
heart yet beats on God’s green earth, through which her own life-tide

  I think of this--I wonder _who_ it is who “wants information”
concerning her. I wonder is it some remorseful relative, some brother,
some sister, some father whose heart is at length touched with pity for
the unrecognized little exile--ay--such things have been!

       “Clerks out of employment.”

  Need it be? With acres of fertile earth lying fair in the broad
sunshine, waiting only the touch of their sinewy muscles, to throw out
uncounted embryo treasures, while ruddy Health stands smiling at the

  Then I read of starving seamstresses, with no stock in trade but their
needle; nothing but that too often, God help them! between their souls
and perdition; and, then, in the very face of my womanly instincts, I
say, _let_ them lecture--_let_ them preach--let them even be doctors, if
they will (provided they keep their hands off me!)

  Then I read, alas! advertisements, which promise youth and purity to
lead them through the scorching fires of sin unharmed, unscathed, which
say that the penalty annexed by a just God to his violated laws (even in
this world), _they_ will turn aside; that a man _can_ take fire into his
bosom and _not_ be burned. And then I think that the editor who for
paltry gain, throws such firebrands into pure and happy homes _should
look well that the blight fall not on his own_.

  But there is comedy as well as tragedy in an advertising sheet. I am
fond of poetry; my eye catches a favorite extract from Longfellow, or
Bryant, or Percival, or Morris; I read it over with renewed pleasure,
blessing the author in my heart the while. I am decoyed into the
building to which it serves as a fairy vestibule. Where do I find

  By Parnassus! in a carpet-warehouse--in a sausage-shop--in a
druggist’s--shoemaker’s--tailor’s--or hatter’s establishment.

  Who shall circumscribe American ingenuity where dollars and cents are

  Answer me, great Barnum!


  “Tell you what are the fashions?” I, who am sick of the very word
fashion? who could shake hands with every rustic I meet, for very
delight at his napless hat, and ark-like coat?

  You should be surfeited, as I am, with harlequin costumes; disgusted,
as I am, with troops of women, strutting, like peacocks, to show their
plumage; but who, less sensible than peacocks, never _shed their
feathers_. You should see brocades, and silk velvets, fit only for
carriage or dinner dresses, daily mopping up the tobacco pools on these
unmitigatedly nasty sidewalks. You should see the gay little bonnets,
and oh! you should see the vapid, expression-less, soul-less faces
beneath them. You should see the carriages, with their liveried
servants, in our republican streets, and the faces, seamed with _ennui_
and discontent, which peer through the windows, from beneath folds of
lace and satin.

  You should see how this dress furore infects every class and circle.
You should see the young apprentice girl who can afford but one bonnet,
buying a flimsy dress-hat, to be worn in all weathers; securing for
Sunday, a showy silk dress and gilt bracelet, when she has hardly a
decent chemise, or petticoat, and owns, perhaps, but one handkerchief,
and a couple of pairs of stockings. You should see the wife of the young
mechanic, with her embroidered pocket-handkerchief, and flaunting pink
parasol, while she can number but one pair of sheets, and one
table-cloth. You should see her children, with their plumed hats, while
parti-colored, dilapidated petticoats peep from beneath their dresses,
and they are shivering for the want of warm flannels. You should see the
servant-girl, with her greasy flounces, and soiled artificial flowers.
You should see young men, with staring diamond pins stuck on their
coarse shirt-bosoms, with shabby velvet vests, and mock chains looped
over them.

  You should go into the “furnishing stores for ladies’ and children’s
garments;” and see how _impossible_ it is to find _plain_, _substantial_
articles of clothing _for either_--two thirds, at least, of the cost of
every article being for elaborate trimming, and ruffling, and useless
embroidery. You should go into the “ladies’ cloak stores,” and see these
garments loaded indeed with gay trimmings, but miserably thin, and
ill-adapted for winter wear; hence the _stories_ of garments you
frequently notice on New York ladies (as winter intensifies), as if one
good, sensible, thickly-wadded, old-fashioned, outside garment, could,
by any possibility, be more awkward and ugly than such an “arrangement,”
and as if it were not a million degrees more comfortable, and less
troublesome; but, then--Fashion says, No!

  “Tell you the fashions?”

  Excuse my rambling. Well; here they are, as near as I can find out:

  Puff your hair and your skirts. Lace your lungs and your handkerchief.
Put on the most stunning dress you can find; wear it of a _stumbling_
length, because Queen Victoria’s royal ankles are thick.

  Take a handful of artificial roses, each of a different color, half a
dozen yards of ribbon ditto, lace ditto. Secure them, for a bonnet, to
your bump of amativeness, with two long pins. Then sprinkle the contents
of a jeweler’s shop promiscuously over your person; and by no means,
before you go out, omit drawing on a pair of bright _yellow_ gloves;
that _sine quâ non_ of a New York woman’s toilette.

  “Tell you the fashions?” Take a walk down Broadway, and see for
yourself. If you have a particle of sense, it will cure you of your
absorbing interest in that question during your natural life, though
your name be written “Methuselah.”


  A few scraps from the “Life of Charlotte Bronte,” that I would like to
see pasted up in editorial offices throughout the length and breadth of
the land:

  “She, Miss Bronte, especially disliked the lowering of the standard by
which to judge a work of fiction if it proceeded from a feminine pen;
and praise, mingled with pseudo-gallant allusions to her sex, mortified
her far more than actual blame.

  “Come what will,” she says, “I can not, when I write, think always of
myself, and of what is elegant and charming in femininity; it is not on
these terms, or with such ideas, that I ever took pen in hand, and if it
is only on these terms my writing will be tolerated, I shall pass away
from the public and trouble it no more.

  “I wish all reviewers believed me to be a man; they would be more just
to me. They will, I know, keep measuring me by some standard of what
they deem becoming to my sex; where I am not what they consider
graceful, they will condemn me.

  “No matter--whether known or unknown--misjudged or the contrary--I am
resolved not to write otherwise. _I shall bend as my powers tend._ The
two human beings who understood me are gone; I have some who love me
yet, and whom I love, without expecting or having a right to expect they
shall perfectly understand me. I am satisfied, _but I must have my own
way in the matter of writing_.”

  Speaking of some attacks on Miss Bronte, her biographer says:

  “Flippancy takes a graver name, when directed against an author by an
anonymous writer; we then call it _cowardly insolence_.”

  She also says:

  “It is well that the thoughtless critics, who spoke of the sad and
gloomy views of life presented by the Brontes in their tales, should
know how such words were wrung out of them by the living recollection
of the long agony they suffered. It is well, too, that they who have
objected to the representation of _coarseness, and shrank from it with
repugnance, as if such conception arose out of the writers, should
learn, that not from the imagination, not from internal conception--but
from the hard cruel facts, pressed down, by an external life upon their
very senses, for long months and years together, did they write out what
they saw, obeying the stern dictates of their consciences_. They might
be mistaken. They might err in writing at all, when their afflictions
were so great that they could not write otherwise than as they did of
life. It is possible that it would have been better to have described
good and pleasant people, doing only good and pleasant things (_in which
case they could hardly have written at any time_): all I say is, that
never, I believe, did women possessed of such wonderful gifts exercise
them with a fuller feeling of responsibility for their use.”

  A friend of Miss Bronte says:

  “The world heartily, greedily enjoyed the fruits of Miss Bronte’s
labors, _and then found out she was much to blame for possessing such

  Mrs. Gaskell says:

  “So utterly unconscious was Miss Bronte of what was by some esteemed
‘_coarse_’ in her writings, that on one occasion, when the conversation
turned upon women’s writing fiction--she said, in her grave, earnest
way, ‘I hope God will take away from me whatever power of invention, or
expression I may have, before he lets me become blind to the sense of
what is fitting, or unfitting to be said.’”

  Fanny Fern says:

  I would that all who critically finger women’s books, would read and
ponder these extracts. I would that reviewers had a more fitting sense
of their responsibility, in giving their verdicts to the public;
permitting themselves to be swayed neither by personal friendship, nor
private pique; speaking _honestly_, by all means, but remembering their
own sisters, when they would point a flippant, smart article _by
disrespectful mention of a lady writer; or by an unmanly, brutal
persistence in tearing from her face the mask of incognito-ship, which
she has, if she pleases, an undoubted right to wear_. I would that they
would speak respectfully of those whose pure, self-denying life, has
been through trials and temptations under which _their_ strong natures
would have succumbed; and who tremblingly await the public issue of days
and nights of single-handed, single-hearted weariness and toil. Not that
a woman’s book should be praised because it is a woman’s, nor, on the
contrary, condemned for that reason. But as you would shrink from seeing
a ruffian’s hand laid upon your sister’s gentle shoulder, deal honestly,
but, I pray you, _courteously_, with those whose necessities have forced
them out from the blessed shelter of the home circle, into jostling
contact with rougher natures.


  “No woman ever produced a great painting or statue.”--_Ex._

  On the contrary, she has produced a great many “statues,” who may be
seen any sunshiny day, walking Broadway, in kid gloves and perfumed
broadcloth, while “Lawrence” lies in ashes.

  “No woman ever wrote a great drama.”--_Ex._

  Ay--but they have lived one; and when worn out with suffering at hands
which should have shielded them, have died without a murmur on their
martyr lips.

  “No woman ever composed a great piece of music.”--_Ex._

  What do you call a baby?

  “No woman was ever a great cook!”--_Ex._

  True--it takes a man to get up a _broil_.

  “Women have invented nothing outside of millinery since the world

  How can they? when they are so _hooped_ in?

  “Women have written clever letters, tolerable novels, and intolerable

  Indeed! It strikes me, though, that we have furnished you the material
for yours; just tell me what _your_ “letters,” _your_ “novels,” _your_
“epics,” would have amounted to, without the inspiring theme--_woman_.
When the world furnishes us _heroes_, perhaps _we_ shall write splendid
novels, and splendid epics. Pharaoh once required bricks to be made
“without straw.”

  “Letters?” No man, since the world began, could pen a letter equal to a
woman. Look at the abortions dignified by that name in men-novels;
stiltified--unnatural--stiff--pedantic, or else coarse. You can no more
do it than an elephant can waltz. The veriest school girl can surpass
you at it. I have often heard men confess it (when off their guard). One
thing at least we know enough to do, viz.: when we wish to make one of
your sex our eternal and unchangeable friend we always allow him to beat
us in an argument.



  “It is too bad,” said a lady to me, not long since, “it is too bad; I
am almost tired to death.” She had been to York on a shopping
expedition; and, having finished her purchases, and returned, laden with
them to the ferry, found two thirds of the seats in the _ladies’ cabin_
of the ferry-boat occupied by _men_, while she and several other ladies
were compelled to stand till the boat reached the pier. “It is too bad,”
she repeated; “they have no right to occupy the _ladies’_ cabin, when
ladies are standing. Give them a dig, Fanny, won’t you?”

  “Of course I will,” said I; “the case, to my mind, is clearly against
the coat-tails; more especially, as, when the boat touches the pier,
they rush past the ladies, and by right of their pantaloons leap over
the chain (which femininity must wait to see unhooked), in order to
monopolize all the seats in the street cars, to the exclusion of the
aforesaid dismayed and weary ladies. Most certainly I will give them a
dig, my dear; it is an exhibition of ‘grab’ which is quite disgusting.”

  But stay--have the _ladies_ no sins to answer for? May it not be just
possible that the men are at last getting weary of rendering civilities
to women who receive them as a matter of right, without even an
acknowledging smile, or “Thank you?” May they not have tired of
creeping, with an abject air, into cars and omnibusses, and gradually
and circumspectly lowering themselves amid such billows of hoops and
flounces? May they not at last have become disgusted at the absurd
selfishness which ladies manifest on these occasions? the “sit closer,
ladies,” of the conductors and drivers being met with a pouting frown,
or, at best, the emigration of the sixteenth part of an inch to the
right or left. And is it not a shame, that a deprecating blush should
crimson a gentleman’s forehead because he ventures to seat himself, in a
public conveyance, in the proximity of these abominable,
limb-disguising, uncomfortable, monopolizing hoops? Women who are
blessed with hips, should most certainly discard these nuisances, and
women who are not, should know that narrow shoulders, and a bolster
conformation, look more ramrod-y still, in contrast with this artificial
voluminousness of the lower story.

  And then the little girls! The idea of hunting under these humbugs of
hoops, for little fairy girls, whose antelope motions are thus
circumscribed, their graceful limbs hidden, and their gleeful sports
checked--the monstrosity of making hideous _their_ perfect proportions,
and rendering them a laughing-stock to every jeering boy whom they meet;
and--worse than all--the _irreparable moral wrong_ of teaching them that
comfort and decency must be sacrificed to Fashion! Bah!--I have no
patience to think of it. I turn my pained eyes for relief to the little
ragged romps who run round the streets, with one thin garment, swaying
artistically to the motion of their unfettered limbs. I rush into the
sculptor’s studio, and feast my eyes on limbs which have no drapery at

  Yes, it is trying to feminine ankles and patience, to have gentlemen
occupy ladies’ places in the “ladies’ cabin,” and gentlemen who do this
will please consider themselves rebuked for it; but it is also
disgusting, that women have not fortitude sufficient to discard the
universal and absurd custom of wearing hoops. Nay, more, I affirm that
any woman who has not faith enough in her Maker’s taste and wisdom, to
prefer her own bones to a whale’s, deserves the fate of Jonah--minus the



  Yes, I did say that “it is not every man who has a call to be a
husband;” and I am not going to back out of it.

  Has that man a call to be a husband, who, having wasted his youth in
excesses, looks around him at the eleventh hour for a “virtuous young
girl” (such men have the effrontery to be _very_ particular on this
point), to nurse up his damaged constitution, and perpetuate it in their

  Has that man a call to be a husband, who, believing that the more the
immortal within us is developed in this world, the higher we shall rank
with heavenly intelligences in the next, yet deprecates for a wife a
woman of thought and intellect, lest a marriage with such should peril
the seasoning of his favorite pudding, or lest she might presume in any
of her opinions to be aught else than his echo?

  Has that man a call to be a husband, who, when the rosy maiden he
married is transformed by too early an introduction to the cares and
trials of maternity, into a feeble, confirmed invalid, turns impatiently
from the restless wife’s sick-room, to sun himself in the perfidious
smile of one whom he would blush to name in that wife’s pure ears?

  Has _he_ any call to be a husband, who adds to his wife’s manifold
cares that of selecting and providing the household stores, and
inquires of her, at that, how she spent the surplus shilling of
yesterday’s appropriation?

  Has _he_ any call to be a husband, who permits his own relatives, in
his hearing, to speak disrespectfully or censoriously of his wife?

  Has _he_ any call to be a husband, who reads the newspaper from
beginning to end, giving notice of his presence to the weary wife, who
is patiently mending his old coat, only by an occasional “Jupiter!”
which may mean, to the harrowed listener, that we have a President worth
standing in a driving rain, at the tail of a three-mile procession, to
vote for, or--the contrary? and who, after having extracted every
particle of news the paper contains, coolly puts it in one of his many
mysterious pockets, and goes to sleep in his chair?

  Has _he_ a call to be a husband, who carries a letter, intended for
his wife, in his pocket for six weeks, and expects any thing short of
“gunpowder tea” for his supper that night?

  Has he a call to be a husband, who leaves his wife to blow out the
lamp, and stub her precious little toes while she is navigating for the

  Has he a call to be a husband, who tells his wife “to walk on a couple
of blocks and he will overtake her,” and then joins in a hot political
discussion with an opponent, after which, in a fit of absence of mind,
he walks off home, leaving his wife transformed by his perfidy into “a
pillar of salt?”

  Has he any call to be a husband, who sits down on his wife’s best
bonnet, or puts her shawl over her shoulders upside down, or wrong side
out at the Opera?

  Has he any call to be a husband, who goes “unbeknown” to his wife, to
some wretch of a barber, and parts, for twenty-five cents, with a beard
which she has coaxed from its first infantile sprout, to luxuriant,
full-grown, magnificent, unsurpassable hirsuteness, and then comes home
to her horrified vision a pocket edition of Moses?

  Has he any call to be a husband, who kisses his wife only on Saturday
night, when he winds up the clock and pays the grocer, and who never
notices, day by day, the neat dress, and shining bands of hair arranged
to please his stupid milk-and-water-ship?



  Has that woman a call to be a wife, who thinks more of her silk dress
than of her children, and visits her nursery no oftener than once a day?

  Has that woman a call to be a wife, who cries for a cashmere shawl when
her husband’s notes are being protested?

  Has that woman a call to be a wife, who sits reading the last new novel,
while her husband stands before the glass, vainly trying to pin
together a buttonless shirt-bosom?

  Has that woman a call to be a wife, who expects her husband to swallow
diluted coffee, soggy bread, smoky tea, and watery potatoes, six days
out of seven?

  Has she a call to be a wife, who keeps her husband standing on one leg a
full hour in the street, while she is saying that interminable “last
word” to some female acquaintance?

  Has she a call to be a wife, who flirts with every man she meets, and
reserves her frowns for the home fireside?

  Has she a call to be a wife, who comes down to breakfast in abominable
curl-papers, a soiled dressing-gown, and shoes down at the heel?

  Has she a call to be a wife, who bores her husband, when he comes into
the house, with the history of a broken tea-cup, or the possible
whereabouts of a missing broom-handle?

  Has she a call to be a wife, whose husband’s love weighs naught in the
balance with her next door neighbor’s damask curtains, or velvet carpet?

  Has she a call to be a wife, who would take advantage of a moment of
conjugal weakness, to extort money or exact a promise?

  Has she a call to be a wife, who “has the headache” whenever her
husband wants her to walk with him, but willingly wears out her gaiter
boots promenading with his gentlemen friends?

  Has she a call to be a wife, who takes a journey for pleasure, leaving
her husband to toil in a close office, and “have an eye, when at home,
to the servants and children?”

  Has she a call to be a wife, who values an unrumpled collar or
crinoline more than a conjugal kiss?

  Has she a call to be a wife, to whom a _good_ husband’s society is not
the greatest of earthly blessings, and a house full of rosy children its
best furnishing, and prettiest adornment?


  That prurient young men, and broken-down old ones, should seek
amusement in matrimonial advertisements, is not so much a matter of
surprise; but that respectable papers should lend such a voice in their
columns, is, I confess, astonishing. I do not say that a virtuous woman
has never answered such an advertisement; but I do say, that the virtue
of a woman who would do so is not invincible. There is no necessity for
an attractive, or, to use a hateful phrase, a “marketable” woman, to
take such a degrading step to obtain what, alas! under legitimate
circumstances, often proves, when secured, but a Dead Sea apple. It is
undesirable, damaged, and unsaleable goods that are oftenest offered at
auction. A woman must first have ignored the sweetest attributes of
womanhood, have overstepped the last barrier of self-respect, who would
parley with a stranger on such a topic. You tell me that marriage has
sometimes been the result. Granted: but has a woman who has effected it
in this way, bettered her condition, how uncongenial soever it might
have been? Few husbands (and the longer I observe, the more I am
convinced of the truth of what I am about say, and I make no exception
in favor of education or station) have the magnanimity to use justly,
generously, the power which the law puts in their hands. But what if a
wife’s helplessness be aggravated by the reflection that she has
_abjectly solicited_ her wretched fate? How many men, think you, are
there, who, when out of humor, would hesitate tauntingly to use this
drawn sword which you have foolishly placed in their hands?

  Our sex has need of all the barriers, all the defenses, which nature
has given us. No--never let woman be the wooer, save as the flowers woo,
with their sweetness--save as the stars woo, with their brightness--save
as the summer wind woos--silently unfolding the rose’s heart.


  Every day, in my walks, I pass a large bow window on the corner of two
streets, in which is displayed the agreeable spectacle of big and little
coffins of all sorts and shapes, piled up and standing on end. This is
in bad taste enough; but yesterday, through the ostentatious
glass-windows of the shop, I saw a little rosy baby crawling over and
around them, while the elder children were using them for play-houses
for their dolls! Now such a sight may strike other people agreeably, or
they may pass it every day with entire indifference; unfortunately for
my peace of mind, I can do neither one nor the other, for by a sort of
horrid fascination my eyes are attracted to that detestable window, and
familiarity but increases my disgust.

  Now I know I shall need a coffin some day or other; but to-day the
blue sky arches over my head, the fresh wind fans my temples, and every
blade of grass, and new-blown violet, makes me childishly happy; now
what right has that ghoul of an undertaker to nudge me in my healthy
ribs as I pass, check my springing step, send the blood from my cheek
back to my heart, change my singing to sighing, and turn this bright
glorious earth into one vast charnel-house? In the name of cheerfulness,
I indict him, and his co-fellows, for unmitigated nuisances.

  And while I am upon this subject I would like to ask why the New York
sextons, for I believe it is peculiar to them, should have the exclusive
privilege of advertising their business on the outer church-walls, any
more than the silversmith who furnishes the communion-plate; or the
upholsterer who makes the pulpit and pew-cushions; or the bookseller who
furnishes the hymn-books; or the dry-goods merchant who sells the black
silk to make the clergyman’s robe? It strikes me that it is a monopoly,
and a very repulsive one. In my opinion, this whole funeral business
needs reforming. Much of the shrinking horror with which death is
invested even to good Christians, is traceable to these repulsive, early
associations, of which they can not, by any exercise of faith, rid
themselves in after years. These unnecessary, ostentatious,
long-drawn-out paraphernalia of woe; these gloomy sable garments, which
all should unite in abolishing; these horrible pompous funerals, with
their pompous undertakers, where people who scarce ever glanced at the
living face congregate to sniffle hypocritical tears over the dead one;
these stereotyped round-about prayers that mean so little, and which the
mourner never hears; this public counting of scalding tears by careless
gazers at the grave-yard or the tomb; it is all horrible--it need not
be--for the sake of childhood, often, through fear of death, all its
life-time subject to bondage, it _ought not_ to be. Even the “heathen,”
so called, have the advantage of us in the cheerfulness with which they
wisely invest a transition, from which flesh and blood, with its
imperfect spiritualization, instinctively shrinks.


  “There is no night there,” though spoken of a place the opposite of
New York, is nevertheless true of Gotham; for by the time the ennuied
pleasure seekers have yawned out the evening at the theater or opera,
and supped at Taylor’s, or danced themselves lame at some private ball,
a more humble but much more useful portion of the community are rubbing
open their eyelids, and creeping by the waning light of the street
lamps, and the gray dawn, to another brave day of ill-requited toil;
while in many an attic, by the glimmer of a handful of lighted shavings,
tear-stained faces resume the coarse garment left unfinished the night
before. At this early hour, too, stunted, prematurely-old little boys
may be seen, staggering under the weight of heavy shop window shutters,
and young girls, with faded eyes and shawls, crawl to their prisoning
workshops; while lean, over-tasked omnibus horses, commence anew their
never-ceasing, treadmill rounds. God help them all! my heart is with the
oppressed, be it man or beast.

  The poet says there are “sermons in stones.” I endorse it. The most
eloquent sermons I ever heard were from “_A. Stone_;” (but that is a
theme I am not going to dwell upon now.) I maintain that there are
sermons in _horses_.


  I turned my head. Directly behind me, in Broadway, was a
full-freighted omnibus. One of the horses attached had kicked out both
his hind legs, snapped the whiffle-tree to the winds, and planting his
hoofs into the end window, under the driver’s seat, had shivered the
glass in countless fragments, into the faces of the astonished
passengers, plunging and rearing with the most ’76-y spirit. Ladies
screamed, and scrambled with what haste they might, out on to the
pavement; gentlemen dropped their morning papers, and uttering angry
imprecations as they brushed the glass splinters from their broadcloth,
followed them; while the driver cursed and lashed in vain at the
infuriated hoofs, which abated not a jot of their fury at all his
cursing and lashing.

  “Vicious beast!” exclaimed one bystander. “Ought to be shot
_instanter_!” said a second. “I’d like to lash his hide raw!” exclaimed
a third Nero.

  Ah! my good friends, thought I, as I went laughing on my way, not so
fast with your anathemas. The cause of that apparently malicious and
unprovoked attack, _dates a long way back_. Count, if you please, the
undeserved lashings, the goadings, and spurings, that noble creature has
borne, while doing a horse’s best to please! Think of the scanty feed,
the miserable stable, the badly-fiting, irritating harness; the
slippery pavements, where he has so often been whipped for stumbling;
the melting dog-days with their stinging bottle-flies and burning
sun-rays, when he has plodded wearily up and down those interminable
avenues, sweating and panting under the yoke of cruel task-masters.

  ’Tis the last ounce which breaks the camel’s back; ’tis the last atom
which balances the undulating scales. Why should that noble horse bear
all this? He of the flashing eye, arching neck, and dilating nostril? He
of the horny hoof and sinewy limb? _He!_--good for a _score_ of his
oppressors, if he would only think so!--_Up go his hoofs!_ As a Bunker
Hill descendant, I can not call that horse--a jackass.


  Are the New York children to be frozen this winter, I want to know?
Are their legs to be bared from the knee to the tip of their little
white socks, just above the ankle, to please some foolish mother, who
would rather her child were a martyr to neuralgia and rheumatism, its
natural life, than to be out of fashion? Are sneezing babes to face the
winter wind in embroidered muslin caps, lined with silk, the costly lace
borders of which are supposed to atone for the premature loss of their
eye-sight? Are little girls to shiver in cambric pantalettes, and skirts
lifted high in the air by infantile hoops? Are their mothers to tiptoe
through the all-abounding “slosh” of New York streets, in paper-soled
gaiters, and rose-colored silk stockings? And yet one scarcely cares
about the latter, because the sooner such “mothers of families” tiptoe
themselves into their graves, the better for coming generations; but for
the children, one can but sigh, and shiver too; and inquire, as did an
old-fashioned physician of a little undressed victim, “If cloth was so
dear that her mother could not afford to cover her knees?” It is a
comfort to look at the men, who, whatever follies they may be guilty of
(and no human arithmetic can compute them), have yet sense enough to
wear thick-soled boots, and wadded wrappers in the proper season. One
looks at their comfortable garments and heaves a sigh for breeze and
mud-defying pantaloondom; for with the most sensible arrangements for
skirts, they are an unabated and intolerable nuisance in walking; and
yet those horrid Bloomers! those neutral, yet “strong-minded” Miss
Nancys! with their baggy stuff-trowsers, flaping fly-aways, and
cork-screw stringlets. I _could_ get up a costume! but alas! the brass
necessary to wear it! I see now, with my mind’s eye, the jaunty little
cap, the well-fitting, graceful pants, the half-jacket, half-blouse--the
snow-white collar, and pretty fancy neck-tie--the ravishing boot--the
nicely fitting wrist-band, with its gold sleeve-buttons; but why awake
the jealousy of the other “sect?” Why drive the tailors to commit
suicide in the midst of their well-stocked warehouses? Why send little
boys grinning round corners? Why make the parson forget his prayers, and
the lawyer his clients? Why drive distracted the feminine owners of big
feet and thick ankles? Why force women to mend the holes in the heels of
their stockings? Why leave to scavengers the pleasant task of mopping up
dirty streets and sidewalks? Why drive “M. Ds.” to take down their
signs, and take up “de shovel and de hoe?” I’ll be magnanimous. I won’t
do it.


  I was at the opera last night. It was all gas-glare, gilding and girls.
Oh, the unspeakably tiresome fix-up-ativeness of New York women! The
elaborate hair-twistings and braidings; the studied display of bracelets
and rings; the rolling-up of eyes, and casting-down of eye-lashes; the
simperings and smirkings; the gettings-up and sittings-down, ere the
fortunate attitude is fixed upon; the line at which a shawl must be
dropped to show a bust; the ermine sheets, worn without reference to
lily or leopard complexions; the fat damsels who affect Madonna-ism; the
lean women, whaleboned to “Peter Schemel”-ism; the tinsel-y
head-dresses; the gaudy opera-cloaks; the pray-do-look-at-me air; the
utter absence of simplicity, and of that beautiful self-forgetfulness
which is the greatest charm of woman. It is a relief to see some honest
country people stray in, simply cloaked and bonneted (and old-fashioned
and homely at that,) who, ignorant of the mighty difference between
“point” and cotton-lace, ermine and cat-skin, drop into a seat, ignore
their artificial neighbors, and lose themselves in the illusions of the

  Mark GRISI! What perfection of grace in attitude, what simplicity and
appropriateness in costume, what a regal head, what massive white
shoulders, what a queenly tread. How could such an imperial creature
ever love that effeminate little pocket-edition--MARIO? A _pretty_ man!
with his silky locks parted in the middle, and a little dot of an
imperial under his little red lip! Antidote me his effeminacy, oh
memory, with the recollection of Daniel Webster’s unfathomable eyes and
Lucifer-ish frown;--something grand--something noble--something _homely_
if you like, but for Heaven’s sake, something _manly_.


  “Is _me_ velvet j-a-c-k-e-t ready to try on?” drawled a lady, dropping
her elegant cashmere from one shoulder, as she sauntered into Mme.
----’s dress-making saloon.

  “It is not,” replied the young girl in waiting.

  “_Ve’y_ extraordinary--_ve’y_ surprising; madame promised it, without
fail, this morning.”

  “Madame has been unexpectedly called out,” replied the girl, coolly
rehearsing the stereotyped fib.

  “_Ve’y_ perplexing,” muttered the lady; “_ve’y_ ridiculous--pray, when
_will_ she see me?” she asked (unwilling to trust the draping of her
aristocratic limbs to less practiced hands).

  “This afternoon at five,” answered the girl, fibbing a second time,
knowing very well that it was part of madame’s tactics to keep her
saloon daily filled with just such anxious expectants, up to the last
endurable point of procrastination. And there they sat, poor imbeciles!
grouped about the room, pulling over the last fashion prints,
overhauling gayly-colored paper dress patterns, discussing modes, robes,
basques, and trimmings, with the most ludicrously-grave earnestness,
ordering ruinous quantities of point lace and velvet, with the most
reckless abandon, and vying which should make themselves look most
hideously-Babylonish and rainbow-like; while their husbands and fathers,
in another part of the city, were hurrying from banks to
counting-houses, sweating and fretting over “protested notes,” care,
meanwhile, anticipating old Time in seaming their brows, and plowing
their cheeks with wrinkles.

       *       *       *       *       *

  In an unfashionable, obscure part of the city, in the basement of a
small two-story house, sat a woman of twenty-seven years, the mother of
_ten_ children, who were swarming about her like a hive of bees--fat,
clean, rosy, noisy, merry, and happy. They had little space for their
gymnastics, it is true, the little room dignified as “the parlor” being
only twelve feet square; back of this was a dark bedroom, leading to a
small kitchen, filled with the usual variety of culinary utensils. The
pot of potatoes for their simple dinner, was boiling over the kitchen
fire; the happy mother of this little family was putting the last
touches to a silk dress for a lady in the neighborhood; and the baby was
sleeping as sweetly, as though its brothers and sisters were not using
their lungs and limbs, as God _intended_ children’s lungs and limbs
should be used. On a small table in the corner lay a pile of medical
books--for the father of these ten children was absent at a medical
lecture, preparatory to a physician’s practice.

  “Poor George!” said the prolific young mother, with a laugh--“all
these big books yet to be crammed into his curly head; never mind--I had
rather do all my own work, take in dress-making, and support the family
two years longer, than that he should be disappointed in his favorite
wish of becoming a doctor. There he comes!” said she, dropping her
needle, as a dark-eyed, intelligent-looking, mercurial little fellow
bounced into the room--snatched the baby from the cradle--jumped
pell-mell into the laughing group of little boys and girls, and kissed
his wife’s forehead, as he helped her to draw out the dinner-table.

  Ah, thought I, as I contrasted this with the scene at Madame B----’s
saloon, better is a dinner of potatoes where _love_ is, than a stalled
ox and a protested note therewith!


  “That is all clerks are fit for,” said a heartless woman, who had been
diverting herself with turning a store full of goods topsy-turvy.

  Is it?

  Is the situation of a clerk always a congenial one? Have those who
occupy it never a soul above ribbons and laces? Are they as frivolous,
and mindless as many of the ladies upon whom they are often obliged to
wait? Is their future bounded by the counter to which necessity has
chained them?

  Not at all.

  Look into our library reading-rooms of an evening. See them joining
the French, Spanish, German, and Italian classes. See them, unconscious
of the flight of time, devouring with avidity works of history,
biography, and books of travel. See the eye sparkle, and the brow flush,
as they read how a Greeley shut his teeth on discouragement, and hewed
out with his unaided arm a path to honor and usefulness. Ah! has the
clerk no noble, hopes or aspirations for the future, which the grinding,
treadmill round of his daily toil can neither smother nor crush out? Is
there no far-off home from which he is an unwilling exile? No mother, no
sister, whom he must make proud of son and brother? No bright-eyed,
winsome young girl, whose image enshrined in his heart is at once a
talisman against evil, and a spur to unremitting exertion? the hope of
whose love sweetens and dignifies his unpretending labor, nerves him to
bear uncomplainingly, unresentfully, the overbearing and undeserved
rebuke of arrogant assumption?

  You shake your head, and cite sad instances to the contrary. You tell
me of dishonest, dissolute, improvident clerks, lost to every just,
generous, and noble feeling; who look not beyond the present hour either
for soul or body.


  But what if, when they entered upon their clerkship they stood alone
in the world, uncared for, irresponsible, held in check by no saving
home influences, adrift upon the great human life tide? What if their
employers looked upon them merely as tools and machines, not as human
beings? What if they ground them down to the lowest possible rate of
compensation. What if never by look, act, word, or tone, they manifested
a kindly parental interest in their future, cared not what company they
kept, or what influences surrounded them in their leisure hours? What if
these young men returned at night, after their day’s meagerly rewarded
toil, to a small, dreary, desolate, comfortless, lodging room, where
there was nothing to cheer the eye or rest the heart? What if the syren
voice of sin softly whispered those youthful, restless, craving hearts

  What then?

  Oh! if employers sometimes thought of this! Sometimes stopped the
Juggernaut wheels of Mammon to look at the victims which lay crushed
beneath, for want of a little human love, and care, and sympathy!
Sometimes thought, while looking with fond pride upon their own young
sons, that fortune’s wheel, in some of its thousand revolutions, might
whirl them through the same fiery ordeal, and that their now unclouded
sun might go down while it was yet day.

  You, who are employers, think of it!

  Youth hungers for appreciation--sympathy--must have it--ought to have
it--_will_ have it. Oh, give it an occasional thought whether the source
from whence it is obtained be good or evil, pure or impure! Speak kindly
to them.

  Oh, the saving power there is in feeling that there is one human being
who cares whether we stand or fall!


  ’Tis Sabbath morning in Now York. You are wakened by children’s
voices, pitched in every variety of key, vying which shall shout the
loudest: “Her’ld--_Dis_patch--Sun’y Times--Sunny Atlas”--parenthetized
by an occasional street-fight between the sturdy little merchants, when
one encroaches on the other’s “beat.” You have scarce recovered from
their ear-splitting chorus, before the air is rent by a sound like ten
thousand Indian war-whoops, and an engine thunders by, joined by every
little ragamuffin whose legs are old enough to follow. Close upon the
heels of this comes the milk-man, who sits philosophically on his cart,
and glancing up at the windows, utters a succession of sounds, the like
of which never was heard in heaven above, or earth beneath, or in the
waters under the earth.

  Now, saloons and cigar stores open half a shutter each, and
apple-stalls multiply at street corners. Then the bells ring for
church, and, with head and heart distracted, you obey the summons.
On your way you pass troops of people bound to Hoboken, Jersey,
Williamsburg--anywhere, but to the house of God. Groups of idle young
men, with their best beavers cocked over one eye, stand smoking and
swearing at the street corners; and now Yankee Doodle strikes on your
ear, for the dead is left to his dreamless sleep, and the world jogs on
to a merrier measure.

  You enter the church porch. The portly sexton, with his thumbs in the
arm-holes of his vest, meets you at the door. He glances at you: your
hat and coat are new, so he graciously escorts you to an eligible seat
in the broad aisle. Close behind you follows a poor, meek, plainly-clad
seamstress, reprieved from her treadmill round, to think one day in
seven of the Immortal. The sexton is struck with a sudden blindness. She
stands one embarrassed moment, then, as the truth dawns upon her,
retraces her steps, and, with a crimson blush, recrosses the threshold,
which she had profaned with her plebeian foot.

  Now the worshipers one after another glide in; silks rustle; plumes
wave; satins glisten; diamonds glitter; and scores of forty-dollar
handkerchiefs shake out their perfumed odors.

  What an absurdity to preach the gospel of the lowly Nazarite to such a
set! The clergyman knows better than to do so. He values his fat salary
and his handsome parsonage too highly. So with a velvet-y tread he walks
round the ten commandments, places the downiest of pillows under the
dying profligate’s head, and ushers him with seraphic hymning into an
upper-ten heaven.

  From this disgusting farce let me take you to the lecture-room of the
Rev. Dr. Tyng. It is the first Sunday afternoon of the month (when he
regularly meets the children of his parish, who are mostly members of
his Sabbath-school). It would seem an easy thing to address a company
of children. Let him who thinks so, try it! Let him be familiar without
being flat; let him be instructive, and at the same time entertaining;
let him fix roving eyes; let him nail skittish ears; let him stop just
at the moment when a child’s mental appetite has lost its digestive
power. All this requires a--Dr. Tyng.

  See--group after group of bright faces gather around him, and take
their seats; not one is afraid of “the minister.” He has a smile of love
and a word of kindness for all. He has closed his church _purposely_ to
meet them, and given the grown-folks to understand, that the soul of a
child is as priceless as an adult’s, and that he has a message from God
for each little one, as well as for father and mother and uncle John. He
asks some question aloud. Instantly a score of little voices hasten to
reply, as fearlessly as if they were by their own fire-side. He wishes
to fix some important idea in their mind: he illustrates it by an
anecdote, which straightway discloses rows of little pearly teeth about
him. He holds up no reproving finger when some lawless, gleeful little
two-year-older rings out a laugh musical as a robin’s carol. He calls on
“John,” and “Susy,” and “Fanny,” and “Mary,” with the most parental
familiarity and freedom. He asks _their opinion_ on some point (children
like that!), he repeats little things they have said to him (_their_
minister has time to remember what even a little child says!) He takes
his hymn-book and reads a few sweet, simple verses; he pitches the tune
_himself_, and, at a wave of his hand, the bright-eyed cherubs join him.

  Look around. There is a little Fifth Avenue pet, glossy haired, velvet
skinned--her dainty limbs clad in silk and velvet. Close by her side,
sits a sturdy, freckled, red-fisted little Erin-ite, scantily clad
enough for November, but as happy, and as unconscious of the deficiency
as his tiny elbow neighbor; on the same seat is a little African, whose
shiny eye-balls and glittering teeth, say as plainly as if he gave
utterance to it, _we are all equal, all welcome here_.

  Oh, _this_ is Christianity--this is the Sabbath--this is millennial.
Look around that room, listen to those voices, if you can, without a
tear in your eye, a prayer in your heart, and Christ’s sweet words upon
your lips: “_Feed my Lambs_.”



  Funny, isn’t it? Country ministers, with their wives and daughters, in
the unhallowed precincts of an Opera House! I trust they crossed
themselves on the threshold, by way of exorcising Beelzebub. Observe
their furtive glances at the naked little dimplednesses perched upon
yonder wooden pillars. How legibly is--Saints and angels! where are
those children’s trowsers? written upon the elongated corners of their
evangelical mouths. R-a-t-h-e-r different, I confess, from the Snagtown
“meetin’-house,” with its slam-down seats, its swallow-nested roof, and
its shirt-sleeved chorister; but, my strait-laced friends, if you strain
at a harmless marble Cupid, how could you swallow an electric
flesh-and-blood ballet-dancer? Such as we are wont to see in this house?
I have tried to educate myself up to it, but may I be pinched this
minute if I do not catch myself diligently perusing the play-bill,
whenever they execute one of their astounding rotary _pas_. I can’t
stand it; and yet my friends, at the risk of being excommunicated, allow
me to say, that I would rather stand a ballet-dancer’s chance of getting
to heaven, than that of many a vinegar-visaged saint of high repute in
your churches.

  But this is a digression. Just see those women seating themselves _on
the stage_. Saucy as I am, I could not do that; nor, if I did, would I
put my feet upon the rounds of a chair in front of me--and the audience.
How patriarchal Solon Robinson looks, with his clear, calm face, and his
long, snow-white beard! He is quite a picture. What a pity he ever
burned his fingers with “Hot Corn.” But let him throw the first stone
who has never by one well-meant, but mistaken act of his life, called
forth the regretful “what a pity!” The river which never overflows its
banks may never devastate, nor--does it ever freshen the distant and
arid Sahara. Many a poor man has blessed, and will bless, the name of
Solon Robinson; and many a hard-toiling woman, too, whom he has
instructed how to procure the most nutriment for her starving children
from an old bone or a couple of onions. Let those who make wry mouths at
“Hot Corn,” taste his “poor man’s soup,” and do justice to the active
brain and philanthropic heart of its originator.

  I used to think the “New York Tribune,” of which Solon is agricultural
editor, a great institution, until I discovered two things: first, the
number of able, talented, practical men employed in its getting up;
secondly, that a _bull’s head_ is kept constantly seething in the
machine boiler to impart a wholesome ferocity to its paragraphs!

  Hush! here comes the speaker of the evening--John B. Gough, supported
by Dr. Tyng (who believes in preaching to dear little children, as well
as to their fathers and mothers). John says, “Ladies and gentlemen”
(not--_Gentlemen_ and ladies, as do some ungallant orators). “Ladies and
gentlemen, when the admission tickets are twenty-five cents I feel
doubtful of giving you your money’s worth; judge then how a fifty cent
ticket embarrasses me.” A very politic preface, John; but ere you had
spoken five consecutive sentences, I knew it was mock-modesty. You know
very well that no man understands better how to sway a crowd; you know
that many an audience, who yawn through addresses that are squared,
rounded, and plumb-ed by nicest rules of rhetoric, will sit spell-bound
unconscious hours, and laugh and cry at _your_ magnetic will. John, you
are a good and a great institution, and right glad am I that the noble
cause in which your eloquence is enlisted, has so pleasing and
indomitable a defender.

  But John--it is not all in _you_. Double-edged is the sword wielded in a
_just_ cause; and not a man, woman, or child has listened to your
burning words to-night who did not know and feel that you spoke God’s

  Success to the Temperance cause, and all its apostles, both great and
small; and above all, _never_ let _woman’s_ lip baptize the bowl, which,
for aught she can tell, may sepulcher her dearest hopes this side


  I wonder is there a country on the face of the earth, where the
Almighty is oftener called upon to send to perdition the souls of those
who offend its inhabitants? Everywhere that horrid imprecation, so
familiar that it is unnecessary to shock you by writing it, meets the
pained ear. I say pained, because I, for one, can not abhor it less on
account of its frequency, or consider it less disgusting, because it
filters through aristocratic lips. Everywhere it pursues me; in crowded
streets, on ferry boats, in omnibusses, and, I am sorry to say, in
ladies’ parlors, which should afford a refuge from this disgusting

  From old men--whose toothless lips mumble it almost inarticulately;
from those who would resent to the death any question of their claim to
the title of gentlemen; from young men, glorious else, in the strength
and vigor of youth; and sadder still--from little children, who have
caught the trick, and bandy curses at their sports. _An oath from a
child’s lips!_ One would as soon expect a thunderbolt from out the heart
of a rose. And yet, there are those who deliberately _teach_ little
children to swear, and think it sport, when the rosy lips, with childish
grace, lisp the demoniac lesson.

  An oath from a _woman’s_ lips! With shuddering horror we shrink away,
and ask, what bitter cup of wrong, suffering, and despair, man has
doomed her to drink to the dregs, ere she could so belie her beautiful

  One lovely moonlight night, I was returning late from the opera, with
a gentleman friend, the delicious tones I had heard still floating
through my charmed brain. Suddenly from out a dark angle in a building
we passed, issued a woman; old, not in years, but in misery, for her
long, brown hair curtained a face whose beauty had been its owner’s
direst curse. To my dying day I shall never forget the horrid oaths of
that wretched woman as she faced the moonlight and me. Perhaps I had
evoked some vision of happier days, when she, too, had a protecting arm
to lean upon; sure I am, could she have read my heart, she would not
have cursed me. But oh, the wide gulf between what she must have been
and what she was! Oh, the dreadful reckoning to be required at the hands
of him who defaced this temple of the living God, and left it a
shapeless, blackened ruin!


  Who has not read “Jane Eyre?” and who has not longed to know the
personal history of its gifted author? At last we have it. Poor
Charlotte Bronte! So have I seen a little bird trying bravely with
outspread wings to soar, and as often beaten back by the gathering
storm-cloud--not discouraged--biding its time for another trial--singing
feebly its quivering notes as if to keep up its courage--growing bolder
in each essay till the eye ached in watching its triumphant
progress--up--up--into the clear blue of heaven.

  Noble Charlotte Bronte! worthy to receive the baptism of fire which is
sent to purify earth’s gifted. I see her on the gloomy moors of Haworth,
in the damp parsonage-house--skirted by the grave-yard, sickening with
its unwholesome exhalations, crushing down, at the stern bidding of
duty, her gloomy thoughts and aspirations; tending patiently the
irritable sick, performing cheerfully the most menial household
offices; the days “passing in a slow and dead march;” cheered by no
mother’s loving smile, or rewarding kiss; waiting patiently upon the
hard, selfish, unsympathizing father, who saw, one by one, his gifted
daughters sink into untimely graves, for want of the love, and sympathy,
and companionship for which their yearning hearts were aching.

  I see these sisters at night, released from toil, when their father
had retired to rest, denied the cheerful candle-light, pacing up and
down, in utter darkness, the dreary little sitting-room, talking of the
vacant past and present, and trying vainly to pierce the impenetrable
future for one glimmering ray of hope; and as years passed on, and
vision after vision faded away--alas! with those who wove them--I see
Charlotte, the last survivor of that little group, pacing _alone_ that
desolate sitting-room; while the winds that swept over the bleak moor,
and through the church-yard, and howled about the windows, seemed to the
excited imagination of the lonely, feeble watcher, like the voices of
her sisters shrieking to be again enfolded in her warm, sisterly
embrace. Alone--_all_ alone!--no shoulder to weep upon--no loving
sister’s hand to creep about her waist--the voices of her soul crying
eternally, unceasingly, vainly, Give, give--and he who gave her life,
sleeping, eating, drinking, as stoically as if ten thousand deaths were
not compressed, to that feeble girl, into each agonized moment.

  One smiles now, when the praise of “Jane Eyre” is on every tongue, at
the weary way the author’s thumbed manuscript traveled from publisher to
publisher, seeking a resting-place, and finding none; and when at length
it did appear in book form--the caution of the sapient book-dissecting
“London Athenæum” containing only “very qualified admissions of the
power of the author”--also of “The Literary Gazette,” which “considered
it unsafe to pronounce upon an unknown author;” also at “The Daily
News,” which “did not review novels”--but found time soon afterward to
notice others. Mistaken gentlemen! you were yet, like some others of
your class, to take off your publishing and editorial hats to the little
woman who was destined to a world-wide fame, but--and if ye have manly
hearts they must have ached ere now to think of it--not until the bitter
cup of privation and sorrow had been so nearly drained to the dregs by
those quivering lips, that the laurel wreath, so bravely, hardly won,
was twined with the cypress vine.

  Literary fame! alas--what is it to a _loving_ woman’s heart, save that
it lifts her out of the miry pit of poverty and toil? To have one’s
glowing thoughts handled, twisted, and distorted by coarse fingers; to
shed scalding tears over the gravest charge which can be untruthfully
brought against a woman’s pen; to bear it, writhing in silence, and have
that silence misconstrued, or speak in your own defense, and be called
unwomanly; to be a target for slander, envy, and misrepresentation, by
those of both sexes who can not look upon a shining garment without a
wish to defile it--all this, a man’s shoulders may be broad enough to
bear, but she must be a strong _woman_ who does not stagger under it.

  I see Charlotte Bronte in the little parsonage parlor, at Haworth,
draperied, hung with pictures, furnished, at last, with books from the
proceeds of her own pen; and upon the vacant chairs upon which should
have sat the toiling, gifted sisters, over whom the grave had closed, I
see inscribed, Too late--Too late! and I look at its delicate and only
inmate, and trace the blue veins on her transparent temples, and say,
Too late!--even for _thee_--Too late! Happiness is not happiness if it
be not shared--it turns to misery. But, thank God, at last came the
delirious draught of love, even for so brief a space, to those thirsting
lips--but which, incredible as it may seem, the father, in his
selfishness, would have dashed aside; relenting at last, he gave up this
tender, shrinking flower to more appreciative keeping; but the blast had
been too keen that had gone before--the storms too rough--the sky too
inclement. We read of a wedding, the happiness of which the selfish
father must cloud at the last moment, by refusing, for some inexplicable
reason, or no reason at all, to give away the bride in person according
to episcopal usage--we read of a short bridal tour--of a return to a
love-beautified, love-sanctified home--we read of a pleasant walk of
the happy pair--of a slight cold taken on that occasion--of a speedy
delirium--of a conscious moment, in which the new-made bride opened wide
her astonished eyes upon her kneeling husband, pleading with God to
spare her precious life; and we read the heart-rending exclamation of
the latter as the truth flashed upon her clouded intellect--“O! I am not
to die _now_?--when we have been so happy?” and with streaming eyes we
turn away from the corpse of Charlotte Bronte.


Transcriber’s Note:

  This book contains inconsistent hyphenations which have been left as
printed. Corrections to punctuation have been made without comment.
Other changes that have been made are:

  Page  70 From posssible
           To   possible

  Page 103 From what do you thing of this?
           To   what do you think of this?

  Page 138 From betwen the leaves
           To   between the leaves

  Page 181 From and and her heart
           To   and her heart

  Page 194 From friendles sonly
           To   friendless only

  Page 218-219 From childred
               To   children

  Page 258 From coat-of arms
           To   coat-of-arms

  Page 278 From Soup hop; fish hot;
           To   Soup hot; fish hot;

  Page 297 From mingled wth
           To   mingled with

  The original chapter numbering has been retained, despite there being
two chapters numbered “IV” in the “Fanny Ford” Story.

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