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Title: How to Do It
Author: Hale, Edward Everett
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "How to Do It" ***

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How To Do It.


Edward Everett Hale.


  Chapter I.     Introductory.--How We Met
  Chapter II.    How To Talk
  Chapter III.   Talk
  Chapter IV.    How To Write
  Chapter V.     How To Read. I.
  Chapter VI.    How To Read. II.
  Chapter VII.   How To Go Into Society
  Chapter VIII.  How To Travel
  Chapter IX.    Life At School
  Chapter X.     Life In Vacation
  Chapter XI.    Life Alone
  Chapter XII.   Habits In Church
  Chapter XIII.  Life With Children
  Chapter XIV.   Life With Your Elders
  Chapter XV.    Habits Of Reading
  Chapter XVI.   Getting Ready

How To Do It.

Chapter I.

Introductory.--How We Met.

The papers which are here collected enter in some detail into the success
and failure of a large number of young people of my acquaintance, who are
here named as

  Alice Faulconbridge,
  Bob Edmeston,
  Clem Waters,
  Edward Holiday,
  Ellen Liston,
  Emma Fortinbras,
  Enoch Putnam, _brother of_ Horace,
  Fanny, _cousin to_ Hatty Fielding
  George Ferguson (Asaph Ferguson's _brother_),
  Hatty Fielding,
  Horace Putnam,
  Horace Felltham (_a very different person_),
  Jane Smith,
  Jo Gresham,
  Laura Walter,
  Maud Ingletree,
  Oliver Ferguson, _brother to_ Asaph _and_ George,
  Sarah Clavers,
  Tom Rising,
  William Hackmatack,
  William Withers.

It may be observed that there are thirty-four of them. They make up a
very nice set, or would do so if they belonged together. But, in truth,
they live in many regions, not to say countries. None of them are too
bright or too stupid, only one of them is really selfish, all but one or
two are thoroughly sorry for their faults when they commit them, and all
of them who are good for anything think of themselves very little. There
are a few who are approved members of the Harry Wadsworth Club. That means
that they "look up and not down," they "look forward and not back," they
"look out and not in," and they "lend a hand." These papers were first
published, much as they are now collected, in the magazine "Our Young
Folks," and in that admirable weekly paper "The Youth's Companion," which
is held in grateful remembrance by a generation now tottering off the
stage, and welcomed, as I see, with equal interest by the grandchildren as
they totter on. From time to time, therefore, as the different series have
gone on, I have received pleasant notes from other young people, whose
acquaintance I have thus made with real pleasure, who have asked more
explanation as to the points involved. I have thus been told that my
friend, Mr. Henry Ward Beecher, is not governed by all my rules for young
people's composition, and that Miss Throckmorton, the governess, does not
believe Archbishop Whately is infallible. I have once and again been asked
how I made the acquaintance of such a nice set of children. And I can well
believe that many of my young correspondents would in that matter be glad
to be as fortunate as I.

Perhaps, then, I shall do something to make the little book more
intelligible, and to connect its parts, if in this introduction I tell of
the one occasion when the _dramatis personae_ met each other; and in order
to that, if I tell how they all met me.

First of all, then, my dear young friends, I began active life, as soon as
I had left college, as I can well wish all of you might do. I began in
keeping school. Not that I want to have any of you do this long, unless an
evident fitness or "manifest destiny" appear so to order. But you may be
sure that, for a year or two of the start of life, there is nothing that
will teach you your own ignorance so well as having to teach children the
few things you know, and to answer, as best you can, their questions on
all grounds. There was poor Jane, on the first day of that charming visit
at the Penroses, who was betrayed by the simplicity and cordiality of the
dinner-table--where she was the youngest of ten or twelve strangers--into
taking a protective lead of all the conversation, till at the very last I
heard her explaining to dear Mr. Tom Coram himself,--a gentleman who had
lived in Java ten years,--that coffee-berries were red when they were
ripe. I was sadly mortified for my poor Jane as Tom's eyes twinkled. She
would never have got into that rattletrap way of talking if she had kept
school for two years. Here, again, is a capital letter from Oliver
Ferguson, Asaph's younger brother, describing his life on the Island at
Paris all through the siege. I should have sent it yesterday to Mr.
Osgood, who would be delighted to print it in the Atlantic Monthly, but
that the spelling is disgraceful. Mr. Osgood and Mr. Howells would think
Oliver a fool before they had read down the first page. "L-i-n, lin,
n-e-n, nen, linen." Think of that! Oliver would never have spelled "linen"
like that if he had been two years a teacher. You can go through four
years at Harvard College spelling so, but you cannot go through two years
as a schoolmaster.

Well, I say I was fortunate enough to spend two years as an assistant
schoolmaster at the old Boston Latin School,--the oldest institution of
learning, as we are fond of saying, in the United States. And there first
I made my manhood's acquaintance with boys.

"Do you think," said dear Dr. Malone to me one day, "that my son Robert
will be too young to enter college next August?" "How old will he be?"
said I, and I was told. Then as Robert was at that moment just six months
younger than I, who had already graduated, I said wisely, that I thought
he would do, and Dr. Malone chuckled, I doubt not, as I did certainly, at
the gravity of my answer. A nice set of boys I had. I had above me two of
the most loyal and honorable of gentlemen, who screened me from all
reproof for my blunders. My discipline was not of the best, but my
purposes were; and I and the boys got along admirably.

It was the old schoolhouse. I believe I shall explain in another place,
in this volume, that it stood where Parker's Hotel stands, and my room
occupied the spot in space where you, Florence, and you, Theodora, dined
with your aunt Dorcas last Wednesday before you took the cars for
Andover,--the ladies' dining-room looking on what was then Cook's Court,
and is now Chapman Place. Who Cook was I know not. The "Province Street"
of to-day was then much more fitly called "Governor's Alley." For boys
do not know that that minstrel-saloon so long known as "Ordway's," just
now changed into Sargent's Hotel, was for a century, more or less, the
official residence of the Governor of Massachusetts. It was the
"Province House."

On the top of it, for a weathercock, was the large mechanical brazen
Indian, who, whenever he heard the Old South clock strike twelve, shot off
his brazen arrow. The little boys used to hope to see this. But just as
twelve came was the bustle of dismissal, and I have never seen one who did
see him, though for myself I know he did as was said, and have never
questioned it. That opportunity, however, was up stairs, in Mr. Dixwell's
room. In my room, in the basement, we had no such opportunity.

The glory of our room was that it was supposed, rightly or not, that a
part of it was included in the old schoolhouse which was there before the
Revolution. There were old men still living who remembered the troublous
times, the times that stirred boys' souls, as the struggle for
independence began. I have myself talked with Jonathan Darby Robbins, who
was himself one of the committee who waited on the British general to
demand that their coasting should not be obstructed. There is a reading
piece about it in one of the school-books. This general was not Gage, as
he is said to be in the histories, but General Haldimand; and his
quarters were at the house which stood nearly where Franklin's statue
stands now, just below King's Chapel. His servant had put ashes on the
coast which the boys had made, on the sidewalk which passes the Chapel as
you go down School Street. When the boys remonstrated, the servant
ridiculed them,--he was not going to mind a gang of rebel boys. So the
boys, who were much of their fathers' minds, appointed a committee, of
whom my friend was one, to wait on General Haldimand himself. They called
on him, and they told him that coasting was one of their inalienable
rights and that he must not take it away. The General knew too well that
the people of the town must not be irritated to take up his servant's
quarrel, and he told the boys that their coast should not be interfered
with. So they carried their point. The story-book says that he clasped his
hands and said, "Heavens! Liberty is in the very air! Even these boys
speak of their rights as do their patriot sires!" But of this Mr. Robbins
told me nothing, and as Haldimand was a Hessian, of no great enthusiasm
for liberty, I do not, for my part, believe it.

The morning of April 19, 1775, Harrison Gray Otis, then a little boy of
eight years old, came down Beacon Street to school, and found a brigade of
red-coats in line along Common Street,--as Tremont Street was then
called,--so that he could not cross into School Street. They were Earl
Percy's brigade. Class in history, where did Percy's brigade go that day,
and what became of them before night? A red-coat corporal told the Otis
boy to walk along Common Street, and not try to cross the line. So he did.
He went as far as Scollay's Building before he could turn their flank,
then he went down to what you call Washington Street, and came up to
school,--late. Whether his excuse would have been sufficient I do not
know. He was never asked for it. He came into school just in time to hear
old Lovel, the Tory schoolmaster, say, "War's begun and school's done.
_Dimittite libros_"--which means, "Put away your books." They put them
away, and had a vacation of a year and nine months thereafter, before the
school was open again.

Well, in this old school I had spent four years of my boyhood, and here,
as I say, my manhood's acquaintance with boys began. I taught them Latin,
and sometimes mathematics. Some of them will remember a famous Latin poem
we wrote about Pocahontas and John Smith. All of them will remember how
they capped Latin verses against the master, twenty against one, and put
him down. These boys used to cluster round my table at recess and talk.
Danforth Newcomb, a lovely, gentle, accurate boy, almost always at the
head of his class,--he died young. Shang-hae, San Francisco, Berlin,
Paris, Australia,--I don't know what cities, towns, and countries have the
rest of them. And when they carry home this book for their own boys to
read, they will find some of their boy-stories here.

Then there was Mrs. Merriam's boarding-school. If you will read the
chapter on travelling you will find about one of the vacations of her
girls. Mrs. Merriam was one of Mr. Ingham's old friends,--and he is a man
with whom I have had a great deal to do. Mrs. Merriam opened a school for
twelve girls. I knew her very well, and so it came that I knew her ways
with them. Though it was a boarding-school, still the girls had just as
"good a time" as they had at home, and when I found that some of them
asked leave to spend vacation with her I knew they had better times. I
remember perfectly the day when Mrs. Phillips asked them down to the old
mansion-house, which seems so like home to me, to eat peaches. And it was
determined that the girls should not think they were under any "company"
restraint, so no person but themselves was present when the peaches were
served, and every girl ate as many as for herself she determined best.
When they all rode horseback, Mrs. Merriam and I used to ride together
with these young folks behind or before, as it listed them. So, not
unnaturally, being a friend of the family, I came to know a good many of
them very well.

For another set of them--you may choose the names to please
yourselves--the history of my relationship goes back to the Sunday school
of the Church of the Unity in Worcester. The first time I ever preached in
that church, namely, May 3, 1846, there was but one person in it who had
gray hair. All of us of that day have enough now. But we were a set of
young people, starting on a new church, which had, I assure you, no dust
in the pulpit-cushions. And almost all the children were young, as you may
suppose. The first meeting of the Sunday school showed, I think,
thirty-six children, and more of them were under nine than over. They are
all twenty-five years older now than they were then. Well, we started
without a library for the Sunday school. But in a corner of my study Jo
Matthews and I put up some three-cornered shelves, on which I kept about a
hundred books such as children like, and young people who are no longer
children; and then, as I sat reading, writing, or stood fussing over my
fuchsias or labelling the mineralogical specimens, there would come in one
or another nice girl or boy, to borrow a "Rollo" or a "Franconia," or to
see if Ellen Liston had returned "Amy Herbert." And so we got very good
chances to find each other out. It is not a bad plan for a young minister,
if he really want to know what the young folk of his parish are. I know
it was then and there that I conceived the plan of writing "Margaret
Percival in America" as a sequel to Miss Sewell's "Margaret Percival," and
that I wrote my half of that history.

The Worcester Sunday school grew beyond thirty-six scholars; and I have
since had to do with two other Sunday schools, where, though the children
did not know it, I felt as young as the youngest of them all. And in that
sort of life you get chances to come at nice boys and nice girls which
most people in the world do not have.

And the last of all the congresses of young people which I will name,
where I have found my favorites, shall be the vacation congresses,--when
people from all the corners of the world meet at some country hotel, and
wonder who the others are the first night, and, after a month, wonder
again how they ever lived without knowing each other as brothers and
sisters. I never had a nicer time than that day when we celebrated
Arthur's birthday by going up to Greely's Pond. "Could Amelia walk so
far? She only eight years old, and it was the whole of five miles by a
wood-road, and five miles to come back again." Yes, Amelia was certain she
could. Then, "whether Arthur could walk so far, he being nine." Why, of
course he could if Amelia could. So eight-year-old, nine-year-old,
ten-year-old, eleven-year-old, and all the rest of the ages,--we tramped
off together, and we stumbled over the stumps, and waded through the mud,
and tripped lightly, like Somnambula in the opera, over the log bridges,
which were single logs and nothing more, and came successfully to Greely's
Pond,--beautiful lake of Egeria that it is, hidden from envious and lazy
men by forest and rock and mountain. And the children of fifty years old
and less pulled off shoes and stockings to wade in it; and we caught in
tin mugs little seedling trouts not so long as that word "seedling" is on
the page, and saw them swim in the mugs and set them free again; and we
ate the lunches with appetites as of Arcadia; and we stumped happily home
again, and found, as we went home, all the sketch-books and bait-boxes
and neckties which we had lost as we went up. On a day like that you get
intimate, if you were not intimate before.

O dear! don't you wish you were at Waterville now?

Now, if you please, my dear Fanchon, we will not go any further into the
places where I got acquainted with the heroes and heroines of this book.
Allow, of those mentioned here, four to the Latin school, five to the
Unity Sunday school, six to the South Congregational, seven to vacation
acquaintance, credit me with nine children of my own and ten brothers and
sisters, and you will find no difficulty in selecting who of these are
which of those, if you have ever studied the science of "Indeterminate
Analysis" in Professor Smythe's Algebra.

"Dear Mr. Hale, you are making fun of us. We never know when you are
in earnest."

Do not be in the least afraid, dear Florence. Remember that a central rule
for comfort in life is this, "Nobody was ever written down an ass, except
by himself."

Now I will tell you how and when the particular thirty-four names above
happened to come together.

We were, a few of us, staying at the White Mountains. I think no New
England summer is quite perfect unless you stay at least a day in the
White Mountains. "Staying in the White Mountains" does not mean climbing on
top of a stage-coach at Centre Harbor, and riding by day and by night for
forty-eight hours till you fling yourself into a railroad-car at
Littleton, and cry out that "you have done them." No. It means just living
with a prospect before your eye of a hundred miles' radius, as you may
have at Bethlehem or the Flume; or, perhaps, a valley and a set of hills,
which never by accident look twice the same, as you may have at the Glen
House or Dolly Cop's or at Waterville; or with a gorge behind the house,
which you may thread and thread and thread day in and out, and still not
come out upon the cleft rock from which flows the first drop of the lovely
stream, as you may do at Jackson. It means living front to front, lip to
lip, with Nature at her loveliest, Echo at her most mysterious, with
Heaven at its brightest and Earth at its greenest, and, all this time,
breathing, with every breath, an atmosphere which is the elixir of life,
so pure and sweet and strong. At Greely's you are, I believe, on the
highest land inhabited in America. That land has a pure air upon it. Well,
as I say, we were staying in the White Mountains. Of course the young
folks wanted to go up Mount Washington. We had all been up Osceola and
Black Mountain, and some of us had gone up on Mount Carter, and one or two
had been on Mount Lafayette. But this was as nothing till we had stood on
Mount Washington himself. So I told Hatty Fielding and Laura to go on to
the railroad-station and join a party we knew that were going up from
there, while Jo Gresham and Stephen and the two Fergusons and I would go
up on foot by a route I knew from Randolph over the real Mount Adams.
Nobody had been up that particular branch of Israel's run since Channing
and I did in 1841. Will Hackmatack, who was with us, had a blister on his
foot, so he went with the riding party. He said that was the reason,
perhaps he thought so. The truth was he wanted to go with Laura, and
nobody need be ashamed of that any day.

I spare you the account of Israel's river, and of the lovely little
cascade at its very source, where it leaps out between two rocks. I spare
you the hour when we lay under the spruces while it rained, and the little
birds, ignorant of men and boys, hopped tamely round us. I spare you even
the rainbow, more than a semicircle, which we saw from Mount Adams.
Safely, wetly, and hungry, we five arrived at the Tiptop House about six,
amid the congratulations of those who had ridden. The two girls and Will
had come safely up by the cars,--and who do you think had got in at the
last moment when the train started but Pauline and her father, who had
made a party up from Portland and had with them Ellen Liston and Sarah
Clavers. And who do you think had appeared in the Glen House party, when
they came, but Esther and her mother and Edward Holiday and his father. Up
to this moment of their lives some of these young people had never seen
other some. But some had, and we had not long been standing on the rocks
making out Sebago and the water beyond Portland before they were all very
well acquainted. All fourteen of us went in to supper, and were just
beginning on the goat's milk, when a cry was heard that a party of young
men in uniform were approaching from the head of Tuckerman's Ravine. Jo
and Oliver ran out, and in a moment returned to wrench us all from our
corn-cakes that we might welcome the New Limerick boat-club, who were on a
pedestrian trip and had come up the Parkman Notch that day. Nice, brave
fellows they were,--a little foot-sore. Who should be among them but Tom
himself and Bob Edmeston. They all went and washed, and then with some
difficulty we all got through tea, when the night party from the Notch
House was announced on horseback, and we sallied forth to welcome them.
Nineteen in all, from all nations. Two Japanese princes, and the Secretary
of the Dutch legation, and so on, as usual; but what was not as usual,
jolly Mr. Waters and his jollier wife were there,--she astride on her
saddle, as is the sensible fashion of the Notch House,--and, in the long
stretching line, we made out Clara Waters and Clem, not together, but
Clara with a girl whom she did not know, but who rode better than she, and
had whipped both horses with a rattan she had. And who should this girl be
but Sybil Dyer!

As the party filed up, and we lifted tired girls and laughing mothers off
the patient horses, I found that a lucky chance had thrown Maud and her
brother Stephen into the same caravan. There was great kissing when my
girls recognized Maud, and when it became generally known that I was
competent to introduce to others such pretty and bright people as she and
Laura and Sarah Clavers were, I found myself very popular, of a sudden,
and in quite general demand.

And I bore my honors meekly, I assure you. I took nice old Mrs. Van
Astrachan out to a favorite rock of mine to see the sunset, and, what was
more marvellous, the heavy thunder-cloud, which was beating up against the
wind; and I left the young folks to themselves, only aspiring to be a
Youth's Companion. I got Will to bring me Mrs. Van Astrachan's black furs,
as it grew cold, but at last the air was so sharp and the storm clearly so
near, that we were all driven in to that nice, cosey parlor at the Tiptop
House, and sat round the hot stove, not sorry to be sheltered, indeed,
when we heard the heavy rain on the windows.

We fell to telling stories, and I was telling of the last time I was
there, when, by great good luck, Starr King turned up, having come over
Madison afoot, when I noticed that Hall, one of those patient giants who
kept the house, was called out, and, in a moment more, that he returned
and whispered his partner out. In a minute more they returned for their
rubber capes, and then we learned that a man had staggered into the stable
half frozen and terribly frightened, announcing that he had left some
people lost just by the Lake of the Clouds. Of course, we were all
immensely excited for half an hour or less, when Hall appeared with a
very wet woman, all but senseless, on his shoulder, with her hair hanging
down to the ground. The ladies took her into an inner room, stripped off
her wet clothes, and rubbed her dry and warm, gave her a little brandy,
and dressed her in the dry linens Mrs. Hall kept ready. Who should she
prove to be, of all the world, but Emma Fortinbras! The men of the party
were her father and her brothers Frank and Robert.

No! that is not all. After the excitement was over they joined us in our
circle round the stove,--and we should all have been in bed, but that Mr.
Hall told such wonderful bear-stories, and it was after ten o'clock that
we were still sitting there. The shower had quite blown over, when a
cheery French horn was heard, and the cheery Hall, who was never
surprised, I believe, rushed out again, and I need not say Oliver rushed
out with him and Jo Gresham, and before long we all rushed out to welcome
the last party of the day.

These were horseback people, who had come by perhaps the most charming
route of all,--which is also the oldest of all,--from what was Ethan
Crawford's. They did not start till noon. They had taken the storm,
wisely, in a charcoal camp,--and there are worse places,--and then they
had spurred up, and here they were. Who were they? Why, there was an army
officer and his wife, who proved to be Alice Faulconbridge, and with her
was Hatty Fielding's Cousin Fanny, and besides them were Will Withers and
his sister Florence, who had made a charming quartette party with Walter
and his sister Theodora, and on this ride had made acquaintance for the
first time with Colonel Mansfield and Alice. All this was wonderful enough
to me, as Theodora explained it to me when I lifted her off her horse, but
when I found that Horace Putnam and his brother Enoch were in the same
train, I said I did believe in astrology.

For though I have not named Jane Smith nor Fanchon, that was because you
did not recognize them among the married people in the Crawford House
party,--and I suppose you did not recognize Herbert either. How should
you? But, in truth, here we all were up above the clouds on the night of
the 25th of August.

Did not those Ethan Crawford people eat as if they had never seen
biscuits? And when at last they were done, Stephen, who had been out in
the stables, came in with a black boy he found there, who had his fiddle;
and as the Colonel Mansfield party came in from the dining-room, Steve
screamed out, "Take your partners for a Virginia Reel." No! I do not know
whose partner was who; only this, that there were seventeen boys and men
and seventeen girls or women, besides me and Mrs. Van Astrachan and
Colonel Mansfield and Pauline's mother. And we danced till for one I was
almost dead, and then we went to bed, to wake up at five in the morning to
see the sunrise.

As we sat on the rocks, on the eastern side, I introduced Stephen to
Sybil Dyer,--the last two who had not known each other. And I got talking
with a circle of young folks about what the communion of saints
is,--meaning, of course, just such unselfish society as we had there. And
so dear Laura said, "Why will you not write us down something of what you
are saying, Mr. Hale?" And Jo Gresham said, "Pray do,--pray do; if it
were only to tell us


Chapter II.

I wish the young people who propose to read any of these papers to
understand to whom they are addressed. My friend, Frederic Ingham, has a
nephew, who went to New York on a visit, and while there occupied himself
in buying "travel-presents" for his brothers and sisters at home. His
funds ran low; and at last he found that he had still three presents to
buy and only thirty-four cents with which to buy them. He made the
requisite calculation as to how much he should have for each,--looked in
at Ball and Black's, and at Tiffany's, priced an amethyst necklace, which
he thought Clara would like, and a set of cameos for Fanfan, and found
them beyond his reach. He then tried at a nice little toy-shop there is a
little below the Fifth Avenue House, on the west, where a "clever" woman
and a good-natured girl keep the shop, and, having there made one or two
vain endeavors to suit himself, asked the good-natured girl if she had
not "got anything a fellow could buy for about eleven cents." She found
him first one article, then another, and then another. Wat bought them
all, and had one cent in his pocket when he came home.

In much the same way these several articles of mine have been waiting in
the bottom of my inkstand and the front of my head for seven or nine
years, without finding precisely the right audience or circle of readers.
I explained to Mr. Fields--the amiable Sheik of the amiable tribe who
prepare the "Young Folks" for the young folks--that I had six articles all
ready to write, but that they were meant for girls say from thirteen to
seventeen, and boys say from fourteen to nineteen. I explained that girls
and boys of this age never read the "Atlantic," O no, not by any means!
And I supposed that they never read the "Young Folks," O no, not by any
means! I explained that I could not preach them as sermons, because many
of the children at church were too young, and a few of the grown people
were too old. That I was, therefore, detailing them in conversation to
such of my young friends as chose to hear. On which the Sheik was so good
as to propose to provide for me, as it were, a special opportunity, which
I now use. We jointly explain to the older boys and girls, who rate
between the ages of thirteen and nineteen, that these essays are
exclusively for them.

I had once the honor--on the day after Lee's surrender--to address the
girls of the 12th Street School in New York. "Shall I call you 'girls' or
'young ladies'?" said I. "Call us girls, call us girls," was the unanimous
answer. I heard it with great pleasure; for I took it as a nearly certain
sign that these three hundred young people were growing up to be true
women,--which is to say, ladies of the very highest tone.

"Why did I think so?" Because at the age of fifteen, sixteen, and
seventeen they took pleasure in calling things by their right names.

So far, then, I trust we understand each other, before any one begins to
read these little hints of mine, drawn from forty-five years of very quiet
listening to good talkers; which are, however, nothing more than hints.

How To Talk.

Here is a letter from my nephew Tom, a spirited, modest boy of seventeen,
who is a student of the Scientific School at New Limerick. He is at home
with his mother for an eight weeks' vacation; and the very first evening
of his return he went round with her to the Vandermeyers', where was a
little gathering of some thirty or forty people,--most of them, as he
confesses, his old schoolmates, a few of them older than himself. But poor
Tom was mortified, and thinks he was disgraced, because he did not have
anything to say, could not say it if he had, and, in short, because he
does not talk well. He hates talking parties, he says, and never means to
go to one again.

Here is also a letter from Esther W., who may speak for herself, and the
two may well enough be put upon the same file, and be answered together:--

"Please listen patiently to a confession. I have what seems to me very
natural,--a strong desire to be liked by those whom I meet around me in
society of my own age; but, unfortunately, when with them my manners have
often been unnatural and constrained, and I have found myself thinking of
myself, and what others were thinking of me, instead of entering into the
enjoyment of the moment as others did. I seem to have naturally very
little independence, and to be very much afraid of other people, and of
their opinion. And when, as you might naturally infer from the above, I
often have not been successful in gaining the favor of those around me,
then I have spent a great deal of time in the selfish indulgence of 'the
blues,' and in philosophizing on the why and the wherefore of some
persons' agreeableness and popularity and others' unpopularity."

There, is not that a good letter from a nice girl?

Will you please to see, dear Tom, and you also, dear Esther, that both of
you, after the fashion of your age, are confounding the method with the
thing. You see how charmingly Mrs. Pallas sits back and goes on with her
crochet while Dr. Volta talks to her; and then, at the right moment, she
says just the right thing, and makes him laugh, or makes him cry, or makes
him defend himself, or makes him explain himself; and you think that there
is a particular knack or rule for doing this so glibly, or that she has a
particular genius for it which you are not born to, and therefore you both
propose hermitages for yourselves because you cannot do as she does. Dear
children, it would be a very stupid world if anybody in it did just as
anybody else does. There is no particular method about talking or talking
well. It is one of the things in life which "does itself." And the only
reason why you do not talk as easily and quite as pleasantly as Mrs.
Pallas is, that you are thinking of the method, and coming to me to
inquire how to do that which ought to do itself perfectly, simply, and
without any rules at all.

It is just as foolish girls at school think that there is some particular
method of drawing with which they shall succeed, while with all other
methods they have failed. "No, I can't draw in india-ink [pronounced
in-jink], 'n' I can't do anything with crayons,--I hate crayons,--'n' I
can't draw pencil-drawings, 'n' I won't try any more; but if this tiresome
old Mr. Apelles was not so obstinate, 'n' would only let me try the
'monochromatic drawing,' I know I could do that. 'T so easy. Julia Ann,
she drew a beautiful piece in only six lessons."

My poor Pauline, if you cannot see right when you have a crayon in your
hand, and will not draw what you see then, no "monochromatic system" is
going to help you. But if you will put down on the paper what you see, as
you see it, whether you do it with a cat's tail, as Benjamin West did it,
or with a glove turned inside out, as Mr. Hunt bids you do it, you will
draw well. The method is of no use, unless the thing is there; and when
you have the thing, the method will follow.

So there is no particular method for talking which will not also apply to
swimming or skating, or reading or dancing, or in general to living. And
if you fail in talking, it is because you have not yet applied in talking
the simple master-rules of life.

For instance, the first of these rules is,

  Tell the Truth.

Only last night I saw poor Bob Edmeston, who has got to pull through a
deal of drift-wood before he gets into clear water, break down completely
in the very beginning of his acquaintance with one of the nicest girls I
know, because he would not tell the truth, or did not. I was standing
right behind them, listening to Dr. Ollapod, who was explaining to me the
history of the second land-grant made to Gorges, and between the sentences
I had a chance to hear every word poor Bob said to Laura. Mark now, Laura
is a nice clever girl, who has come to make the Watsons a visit through
her whole vacation at Poughkeepsie; and all the young people are delighted
with her pleasant ways, and all of them would be glad to know more of her
than they do. Bob really wants to know her, and he was really glad to be
introduced to her. Mrs. Pollexfen presented him to her, and he asked her
to dance, and they stood on the side of the cotillon behind me and in
front of Dr. Ollapod. After they had taken their places, Bob said: "Jew go
to the opera last week, Miss Walter?" He meant, "Did you go to the opera
last week?"

"No," said Laura, "I did not."

"O, 't was charming!" said Bob. And there this effort at talk stopped, as
it should have done, being founded on nothing but a lie; which is to say,
not founded at all. For, in fact, Bob did not care two straws about the
opera. He had never been to it but once, and then he was tired before it
was over. But he pretended he cared for it. He thought that at an evening
party he must talk about the opera, and the lecture season, and the
assemblies, and a lot of other trash, about which in fact he cared
nothing, and so knew nothing. Not caring and not knowing, he could not
carry on his conversation a step. The mere fact that Miss Walter had shown
that she was in real sympathy with him in an indifference to the opera
threw him off the track which he never should have been on, and brought
his untimely conversation to an end.

Now, as it happened, Laura's next partner brought her to the very same
place, or rather she never left it, but Will Hackmatack came and claimed
her dance as soon as Bob's was done. Dr. Ollapod had only got down to the
appeal made to the lords sitting in equity, when I noticed Will's
beginning. He spoke right out of the thing he was thinking of.

"I saw you riding this afternoon," he said.

"Yes," said Laura, "we went out by the red mills, and drove up the hill by
Mr. Pond's."

"Did you?" said Will, eagerly. "Did you see the beehives?"

"Beehives? no;--are there beehives?"

"Why, yes, did not you know that Mr. Pond knows more about bees than
all the world beside? At least, I believe so. He has a gold medal from
Paris for his honey or for something. And his arrangements there are
very curious."

"I wish I had known it," said Laura. "I kept bees last summer, and they
always puzzled me. I tried to get books; but the books are all written for
Switzerland, or England, or anywhere but Orange County."

"Well," said the eager Will, "I do not think Mr. Pond has written any
book, but I really guess he knows a great deal about it. Why, he told
me--" &c., &c., &c.

It was hard for Will to keep the run of the dance; and before it was over
he had promised to ask Mr. Pond when a party of them might come up to the
hill and see the establishment; and he felt as well acquainted with Laura
as if he had known her a month. All this ease came from Will's not
pretending an interest where he did not feel any, but opening simply where
he was sure of his ground, and was really interested. More simply, Will
did not tell a lie, as poor Bob had done in that remark about the opera,
but told the truth.

If I were permitted to write more than thirty-five pages of this
note-paper (of which this is the nineteenth), I would tell you twenty
stories to the same point. And please observe that the distinction
between the two systems of talk is the eternal distinction between the
people whom Thackeray calls snobs and the people who are gentlemen and
ladies. Gentlemen and ladies are sure of their ground. They pretend to
nothing that they are not. They have no occasion to act one or another
part. It is not possible for them, even in the _choice of subjects_, to
tell lies.

The principle of selecting a subject which thoroughly interests you
requires only one qualification. You may be very intensely interested in
some affairs of your own; but in general society you have no right to talk
of them, simply because they are not of equal interest to other people. Of
course you may come to me for advice, or go to your master, or to your
father or mother, or to any friend, and in form lay open your own troubles
or your own life, and make these the subject of your talk. But in general
society you have no right to do this. For the rule of life is, that men
and women must not think of themselves, but of others: they must live for
others, and then they will live rightly for themselves. So the second rule
for talk would express itself thus:--

  Do Not Talk About Your Own Affairs.

I remember how I was mortified last summer, up at the Tiptop House, though
I was not in the least to blame, by a display Emma Fortinbras made of
herself. There had gathered round the fire in the sitting-room quite a
group of the different parties who had come up from the different houses,
and we all felt warm and comfortable and social; and, to my real delight,
Emma and her father and her cousin came in,--they had been belated
somewhere. She is a sweet pretty little thing, really the belle of the
village, if we had such things, and we are all quite proud of her in one
way; but I am sorry to say that she is a little goose, and sometimes she
manages to show this just when you don't want her to. Of course she shows
this, as all other geese show themselves, by cackling about things that
interest no one but herself. When she came into the room, Alice ran to her
and kissed her, and took her to the warmest seat, and took her little cold
hands to rub them, and began to ask her how it had all happened, and
where they had been, and all the other questions. Now, you see, this was
a very dangerous position. Poor Emma was not equal to it. The subject was
given her, and so far she was not to blame. But when, from the misfortunes
of the party, she rushed immediately to detail individual misfortunes of
her own, resting principally on the history of a pair of boots which she
had thought would be strong enough to last all through the expedition, and
which she had meant to send to Sparhawk's before she left home to have
their heels cut down, only she had forgotten, and now these boots were
thus and thus, and so and so, and _she_ had no others with her, and _she_
was sure that _she_ did not know what _she_ should do when _she_ got up in
the morning,--I say, when she got as far as this, in all this thrusting
upon people who wanted to sympathize a set of matters which had no
connection with what interested them, excepting so far as their personal
interest in her gave it, she violated the central rule of life; for she
showed she was thinking of herself with more interest than she thought of
others with. Now to do this is bad living, and it is bad living which
will show itself in bad talking.

But I hope you see the distinction. If Mr. Agassiz comes to you on the
Field day of the Essex Society, and says: "Miss Fanchon, I understand that
you fell over from the steamer as you came from Portland, and had to swim
half an hour before the boats reached you. Will you be kind enough to tell
me how you were taught to swim, and how the chill of the water affected
you, and, in short, all about your experience?" he then makes choice of
the subject. He asks for all the detail. It is to gratify him that you go
into the detail, and you may therefore go into it just as far as you
choose. Only take care not to lug in one little detail merely because it
interests you, when there is no possibility that, in itself, it can have
an interest for him.

Have you never noticed how the really provoking silence of these brave men
who come back from the war gives a new and particular zest to what they
tell us of their adventures? We have to worm it out of them, we drag it
from them by pincers, and, when we have it, the flavor is all pure. It is
exactly what we want,--life highly condensed; and they could have given us
indeed nothing more precious, as certainly nothing more charming. But when
some Bobadil braggart volunteers to tell how _he_ did this and that, how
_he_ silenced this battery, and how _he_ rode over that field of carnage,
in the first place we do not believe a tenth part of his story, and in the
second place we wish he would not tell the fraction which we suppose is
possibly true.

Life is given to us that we may learn how to live. That is what it is for.
We are here in a great boarding-school, where we are being trained in the
use of our bodies and our minds, so that in another world we may know how
to use other bodies and minds with other faculties. Or, if you please,
life is a gymnasium. Take which figure you choose. Because of this, good
talk, following the principle of life, is always directed with a general
desire for learning rather than teaching. No good talker is obtrusive,
thrusting forward his observation on men and things. He is rather
receptive, trying to get at other people's observations; and what he says
himself falls from him, as it were, by accident, he unconscious that he is
saying anything that is worth while. As the late Professor Harris said,
one of the last times I saw him, "There are unsounded depths in a man's
nature of which he himself knows nothing till they are revealed to him by
the plash and ripple of his own conversation with other men." This great
principle of life, when applied in conversation, may be stated simply then
in two words,--

  Confess Ignorance.

You are both so young that you cannot yet conceive of the amount of
treasure that will yet be poured in upon you, by all sorts of people, if
you do not go about professing that you have all you want already. You
know the story of the two school-girls on the Central Railroad. They were
dead faint with hunger, having ridden all day without food, but, on
consulting together, agreed that they did not dare to get out at any
station to buy. A modest old doctor of divinity, who was coming home from
a meeting of the "American Board," overheard their talk, got some
sponge-cake, and pleasantly and civilly offered it to them as he might
have done to his grandchildren. But poor Sybil, who was nervous and
anxious, said, "No, thank you," and so Sarah thought she must say, "No,
thank you," too; and so they were nearly dead when they reached the
Delavan House. Now just that same thing happens whenever you pretend,
either from pride or from shyness, that you know the thing you do not
know. If you go on in that way you will be starved before long, and the
coroner's jury will bring in a verdict, "Served you right." I could have
brayed a girl, whom I will call Jane Smith, last night at Mrs. Pollexfen's
party, only I remembered, "Though thou bray a fool in a mortar, his
foolishness will not depart from him," and that much the same may be said
of fools of the other sex. I could have brayed her, I say, when I saw how
she was constantly defrauding herself by cutting off that fine Major
Andrew, who was talking to her, or trying to. Really, no instances give
you any idea of it. From a silly boarding-school habit, I think, she kept
saying "Yes," as if she would be disgraced by acknowledging ignorance.
"You know," said he, "what General Taylor said to Santa Anna, when they
brought him in?" "Yes," simpered poor Jane, though in fact she did not
know, and I do not suppose five people in the world do. But poor Andrew,
simple as a soldier, believed her and did not tell the story, but went on
alluding to it, and they got at once into helpless confusion. Still, he
did not know what the matter was, and before long, when they were speaking
of one of the Muhlbach novels, he said, "Did you think of the resemblance
between the winding up and Redgauntlet?" "O yes," simpered poor Jane
again, though, as it proved, and as she had to explain in two or three
minutes, she had never read a word of Redgauntlet. She had merely said
"Yes," and "Yes," and "Yes" not with a distinct notion of fraud, but from
an impression that it helps conversation on if you forever assent to what
is said. This is an utter mistake; for, as I hope you see by this time,
conversation really depends on the acknowledgment of ignorance,--being,
indeed, the providential appointment of God for the easy removal of such

And here I must stop, lest you both be tired. In my next paper I shall
begin again, and teach you, 4. To talk to the person you are talking with,
and not simper to her or him, while really you are looking all round the
room, and thinking of ten other persons; 5. Never in any other way to
underrate the person you talk with, but to talk your best, whatever that
may be; and, 6. To be brief,--a point which I shall have to illustrate at
great length.

If you like, you may confide to the Letter-Box your experiences on these
points, as well as on the three on which we have already been engaged.
But, whether you do or do not, I shall give to you the result, not only of
my experiences, but of at least 5,872 years of talk--Lyell says many
more--since Adam gave names to chattering monkeys.

Chapter III.


May I presume that all my young friends between this and Seattle have
read paper Number Two? First class in geography, where is Seattle? Eight.
Go up. Have you all read, and inwardly considered, the three rules, "Tell
the truth"; "Talk not of yourself"; and "Confess ignorance"? Have you all
practised them, in moonlight sleigh-ride by the Red River of the
North,--in moonlight stroll on the beach by St. Augustine,--in evening
party at Pottsville,--and at the parish sociable in Northfield? Then you
are sure of the benefits which will crown your lives if you obey these
three precepts; and you will, with unfaltering step, move quickly over
the kettle-de-benders of this broken essay, and from the thistle, danger,
will pluck the three more flowers which I have promised. I am to teach
you, fourth,--

  To Talk To The Person Who Is Talking To You.

This rule is constantly violated by fools and snobs. Now you might as well
turn your head away when you shoot at a bird, or look over your shoulder
when you have opened a new book,--instead of looking at the bird, or
looking at the book,--as lapse into any of the habits of a man who
pretends to talk to one person while he is listening to another, or
watching another, or wondering about another. If you really want to hear
what Jo Gresham is saying to Alice Faulconbridge, when they are standing
next you in the dance, say so to Will Withers, who is trying to talk with
you. You can say pleasantly, "Mr. Withers, I want very much to overhear
what Mr. Gresham is saying, and if you will keep still a minute, I think I
can." Then Will Withers will know what to do. You will not be preoccupied,
and perhaps you may be able to hear something you were not meant to know.

At this you are disgusted. You throw down the book at once, and say you
will not read any more. You cannot think why this hateful man supposes
that you would do anything so mean.

Then why do you let Will Withers suppose so? All he can tell is what you
show him. If you will listen while he speaks, so as to answer
intelligently, and will then speak to him as if there were no other
persons in the room, he will know fast enough that you are talking to him.
But if you just say "yes," and "no," and "indeed," and "certainly," in
that flabby, languid way in which some boys and girls I know pretend to
talk sometimes, he will think that you are engaged in thinking of somebody
else, or something else,--unless, indeed, he supposes that you are not
thinking of anything, and that you hardly know what thinking is.

It is just as bad, when you are talking to another girl, or another girl's
mother, if you take to watching her hair, or the way she trimmed her
frock, or anything else about her, instead of watching what she is saying
as if that were really what you and she are talking for. I could name to
you young women who seem to go into society for the purpose of studying
the milliner's business. It is a very good business, and a very proper
business to study in the right place. I know some very good girls who
would be much improved, and whose husbands would be a great deal happier,
if they would study it to more purpose than they do. But do not study it
while you are talking. No,--not if the Empress Eugénie herself should be
talking to you. [Footnote: This was written in 1869, and I leave it _in
memoriam._ Indeed, in this May of 1871, Eugénie's chances of receiving
Clare at Court again are as good as anybody's, and better than some.]
Suppose, when General Dix has presented you and mamma, the Empress should
see you in the crowd afterwards, and should send that stiff-looking old
gentleman in a court dress across the room, to ask you to come and talk to
her, and should say to you, "Mademoiselle, est-ce que l'on permet aux
jeunes filles Américaines se promener à cheval sans cavalier?" Do you look
her frankly in the face while she speaks, and when she stops, do you
answer her as you would answer Leslie Goldthwaite if you were coming home
from berrying. Don't you count those pearls that the Empress has tied
round her head, nor think how you can make a necktie like hers out of that
old bit of ribbon that you bought in Syracuse. Tell her, in as good French
or as good English as you can muster, what she asks; and if, after you
have answered her lead, she plays again, do you play again; and if she
plays again, do you play again,--till one or other of you takes the trick.
But do you think of nothing else, while the talk goes on, but the subject
she has started, and of her; do not think of yourself, but address
yourself to the single business of meeting her inquiry as well as you can.
Then, if it becomes proper for you to ask her a question, you may. But
remember that conversation is what you are there for,--not the study of
millinery, or fashion, or jewelry, or politics.

Why, I have known men who, while they were smirking, and smiling, and
telling other lies to their partners, were keeping the calendar of the
whole room,--knew who was dancing with whom, and who was looking at
pictures, and that Brown had sent up to the lady of the house to tell her
that supper was served, and that she was just looking for her husband that
he might offer Mrs. Grant his arm and take her down stairs. But do you
think their partners liked to be treated so? Do you think their partners
were worms, who liked to be trampled upon? Do you think they were
pachydermatous coleoptera of the dor tribe, who had just fallen from
red-oak trees, and did not know that they were trampled upon? You are
wholly mistaken. Those partners were of flesh and blood, like you,--of the
same blood with you, cousins-german of yours on the Anglo-Saxon side,--and
they felt just as badly as you would feel if anybody talked to you while
he was thinking of the other side of the room.

And I know a man who is, it is true, one of the most noble and unselfish
of men, but who had made troops of friends long before people had found
that out. Long before he had made his present fame, he had found these
troops of friends. When he was a green, uncouth, unlicked cub of a boy,
like you, Stephen, he had made them. And do you ask how? He had made them
by listening with all his might. Whoever sailed down on him at an evening
party and engaged him--though it were the most weary of odd old
ladies--was sure, while they were together, of her victim. He would look
her right in the eye, would take in her every shrug and half-whisper,
would enter into all her joys and terrors and hopes, would help her by his
sympathy to find out what the trouble was, and, when it was his turn to
answer, he would answer like her own son. Do you wonder that all the old
ladies loved him? And it was no special court to old ladies. He talked so
to school-boys, and to shy people who had just poked their heads out of
their shells, and to all the awkward people, and to all the gay and easy
people. And so he compelled them, by his magnetism, to talk so to him.
That was the way he made his first friends,--and that was the way, I
think, that he deserved them.

Did you notice how badly I violated this rule when Dr. Ollapod talked to
me of the Gorges land-grants, at Mrs. Pollexfen's? I got very badly
punished, and I deserved what I got, for I had behaved very ill. I ought
not to have known what Edmeston said, or what Will Hackmatack said. I
ought to have been listening, and learning about the Lords sitting in
Equity. Only the next day Dr. Ollapod left town without calling on me, he
was so much displeased. And when, the next week, I was lecturing in
Naguadavick, and the mayor of the town asked me a very simple question
about the titles in the third range, I knew nothing about it and was
disgraced. So much for being rude, and not attending to the man who was
talking to me.

Now do not tell me that you cannot attend to stupid people, or long-winded
people, or vulgar people. You can attend to anybody, if you will remember
who he is. How do you suppose that Horace Felltham attends to these old
ladies, and these shy boys? Why, he remembers that they are all of the
blood-royal. To speak very seriously, he remembers whose children they
are,--who is their Father. And that is worth remembering. It is not of
much consequence, when you think of that, who made their clothes, or what
sort of grammar they speak in. This rule of talk, indeed, leads to our
next rule, which, as I said of the others, is as essential in conversation
as it is in war, in business, in criticism, or in any other affairs of
men. It is based on the principle of rightly honoring all men. For talk,
it may be stated thus:--

  Never Underrate Your Interlocutor.

In the conceit of early life, talking to a man of thrice my age, and of
immense experience, I said, a little too flippantly, "Was it not the
King of Wurtemberg whose people declined a constitution when he had
offered it to them?"

"Yes," said my friend, "the King told me the story himself."

Observe what a rebuke this would have been to me, had I presumed to tell
him the fact which he knew ten times as accurately as I. I was just saved
from sinking into the earth by having couched my statement in the form of
a question. The truth is, that we are all dealing with angels unawares,
and we had best make up our minds to that, early in our interviews. One of
the first of preachers once laid down the law of preaching thus: "Preach
as if you were preaching to archangels." This means, "Say the very best
thing you know, and never condescend to your audience." And I once heard
Mr. William Hunt, who is one of the first artists, say to a class of
teachers, "I shall not try to adapt myself to your various lines of
teaching. I will tell you the best things I know, and you may make the
adaptations." If you will boldly try the experiment of entering, with
anybody you have to talk with, on the thing which at the moment interests
you most, you will find out that other people's hearts are much like your
heart, other people's experiences much like yours, and even, my dear
Justin, that some other people know as much as you know. In short, never
talk down to people; but talk to them from your best thought and your best
feeling, without trying for it on the one hand, but without rejecting it
on the other.

You will be amazed, every time you try this experiment, to find how often
the man or the woman whom you first happen to speak to is the very person
who can tell you just what you want to know. My friend Ingham, who is a
working minister in a large town, says that when he comes from a house
where everything is in a tangle, and all wrong, he knows no way of
righting things but by telling the whole story, without the names, in the
next house he happens to call at in his afternoon walk. He says that if
the Windermeres are all in tears because little Polly lost their
grandmother's miniature when she was out picking blueberries, and if he
tells of their loss at the Ashteroths' where he calls next, it will be
sure that the daughter of the gardener of the Ashteroths will have found
the picture of the Windermeres. Remember what I have taught you,--that
conversation is the providential arrangement for the relief of ignorance.
Only, as in all medicine, the patient must admit that he is ill, or he can
never be cured. It is only in "Patronage,"--which I am so sorry you boys
and girls will not read,--and in other poorer novels, that the leech
cures, at a distance, patients who say they need no physician. Find out
your ignorance, first; admit it frankly, second; be ready to recognize
with true honor the next man you meet, third; and then, presto!--although
it were needed that the floor of the parlor should open, and a little
black-bearded Merlin be shot up like Jack in a box, as you saw in
Humpty-Dumpty,--the right person, who knows the right thing, will appear,
and your ignorance will be solved.

What happened to me last week when I was trying to find the History of
Yankee Doodle? Did it come to me without my asking? Not a bit of it.
Nothing that was true came without my asking. Without my asking, there
came that stuff you saw in the newspapers, which said Yankee Doodle was a
Spanish air. That was not true. This was the way I found out what was
true. I confessed my ignorance; and, as Lewis at Bellombre said of that
ill-mannered Power, I had a great deal to confess. What I knew was, that
in "American Anecdotes" an anonymous writer said a friend of his had seen
the air among some Roundhead songs in the collection of a friend of his at
Cheltenham, and that this air was the basis of Yankee Doodle. What was
more, there was the old air printed. But then that story was good for
nothing till you could prove it. A Methodist minister came to Jeremiah
Mason, and said, "I have seen an angel from heaven who told me that your
client was innocent." "Yes," said Mr. Mason, "and did he tell you how to
prove it?" Unfortunately, in the dear old "American Anecdotes," there was
not the name of any person, from one cover to the other, who would be
responsible for one syllable of its charming stories. So there I was! And
I went through library after library looking for that Roundhead song, and
I could not find it. But when the time came that it was necessary I should
know, I confessed ignorance. Well, after that, the first man I spoke to
said, "No, I don't know anything about it. It is not in my line. But our
old friend Watson knew something about it, or said he did." "Who is
Watson?" said I. "O, he's dead ten years ago. But there's a letter by him
in the Historical Proceedings, which tells what he knew." So, indeed,
there was a letter by Watson. Oddly enough it left out all that was of
direct importance; but it left in this statement, that he, an authentic
person, wrote the dear old "American Anecdote" story. That was something.
So then I gratefully confessed ignorance again, and again, and again. And
I have many friends, so that there were many brave men, and many fair
women, who were extending the various tentacula of their feeling processes
into the different realms of the known and the unknown, to find that lost
scrap of a Roundhead song for me. And so, at last, it was a girl--as old,
say, as the youngest who will struggle as far as this page in the
Cleveland High School--who said, "Why, there is something about it in that
funny English book, 'Gleanings for the Curious,' I found in the Boston
Library." And sure enough, in an article perfectly worthless in itself,
there were the two words which named the printed collection of music which
the other people had forgotten to name. These three books were each
useless alone; but, when brought together, they established a fact. It
took three people in talk to bring the three books together. And if I had
been such a fool that I could not confess ignorance, or such another fool
as to have distrusted the people I met with, I should never have had the
pleasure of my discovery.

Now I must not go into any more such stories as this, because you will say
I am violating the sixth great rule of talk, which is

  Be Short.

And, besides, you must know that "they say" (whoever _they_ may be) that
"young folks" like you skip such explanations, and hurry on to the
stories. I do not believe a word of that, but I obey.

I know one Saint. We will call her Agatha. I used to think she could be
painted for Mary Mother, her face is so passionless and pure and good. I
used to want to make her wrap a blue cloth round her head, as if she were
in a picture I have a print of, and then, if we could only find the
painter who was as pure and good as she, she should be painted as Mary
Mother. Well, this sweet Saint has done lovely things in life, and will do
more, till she dies. And the people she deals with do many more than she.
For her truth and gentleness and loveliness pass into them, and inspire
them, and then, with the light and life they gain from her, they can do
what, with her light and life, she cannot do. For she herself, like all of
us, has her limitations. And I suppose the one reason why, with such
serenity and energy and long-suffering and unselfishness as hers, she does
not succeed better in her own person is that she does not know how to "be
short." We cannot all be or do all things. First boy in Latin, you may
translate that sentence back into Latin, and see how much better it sounds
there than in English. Then send your version to the Letter-Box.

For instance, it may be Agatha's duty to come and tell me that--what
shall we have it?--say that dinner is ready. Now really the best way but
one to say that is, "Dinner is ready, sir." The best way is, "Dinner,
sir"; for this age, observe, loves to omit the verb. Let it. But really if
St. Agatha, of whom I speak,--the second of that name, and of the
Protestant, not the Roman Canon,--had this to say, she would say: "I am so
glad to see you! I do not want to take your time, I am sure, you have so
many things to do, and you are so good to everybody, but I knew you would
let me tell you this. I was coming up stairs, and I saw your cook,
Florence, you know. I always knew her; she used to live at Mrs. Cradock's
before she started on her journey; and her sister lived with that friend
of mine that I visited the summer Willie was so sick with the mumps, and
she was so kind to him. She was a beautiful woman; her husband would be
away all the day, and, when he came home, she would have a piece of
mince-pie for him, and his slippers warmed and in front of the fire for
him; and, when he was in Cayenne, he died, and they brought his body home
in a ship Frederic Marsters was the captain of. It was there that I met
Florence's sister,--not so pretty as Florence, but I think a nice girl.
She is married now and lives at Ashland, and has two nice children, a boy
and a girl. They are all coming to see us at Thanksgiving. I was so glad
to see that Florence was with you, and I did not know it when I came in,
and when I met her in the entry I was very much surprised, and she saw I
was coming in here, and she said, 'Please, will you tell him that dinner
is ready?'"

Now it is not simply, you see, that, while an announcement of that nature
goes on, the mutton grows cold, your wife grows tired, the children grow
cross, and that the subjugation of the world in general is set back, so
far as you are all concerned, a perceptible space of time on The Great
Dial. But the tale itself has a wearing and wearying perplexity about it.
At the end you doubt if it is your dinner that is ready, or Fred
Marsters's, or Florence's, or nobody's. Whether there is any real dinner,
you doubt. For want of a vigorous nominative case, firmly governing the
verb, whether that verb is seen or not, or because this firm nominative is
masked and disguised behind clouds of drapery and other rubbish, the best
of stories, thus told, loses all life, interest, and power.

Leave out then, resolutely. First omit "Speaking of hides," or "That
reminds me of," or "What you say suggests," or "You make me think of," or
any such introductions. Of course you remember what you are saying. You
could not say it if you did not remember it. It is to be hoped, too, that
you are thinking of what you are saying. If you are not, you will not help
the matter by saying you are, no matter if the conversation do have firm
and sharp edges. Conversation is not an essay. It has a right to many
large letters, and many new paragraphs. That is what makes it so much more
interesting than long, close paragraphs like this, which the printers hate
as much as I do, and which they call "_solid matter_" as if to indicate
that, in proportion, such paragraphs are apt to lack the light, ethereal
spirit of all life.

Second, in conversation, you need not give authorities, if it be only
clear that you are not pretending originality. Do not say, as dear
Pemberton used to, "I have a book at home, which I bought at the sale of
Byles's books, in which there is an account of Parry's first voyage, and
an explanation of the red snow, which shows that the red snow is," &c.,
&c., &c. Instead of this say, "Red snow is," &c., &c., &c. Nobody will
think you are producing this as a discovery of your own. When the
authority is asked for, there will be a fit time for you to tell.

Third, never explain, unless for extreme necessity, who people are. Let
them come in as they do at the play, when you have no play-bill. If what
you say is otherwise intelligible, the hearers will find out, _if it is
necessary_, as perhaps it may not be. Go back, if you please, to my
account of Agatha, and see how much sooner we should all have come to
dinner if she had not tried to explain about all these people. The truth
is, you cannot explain about them. You are led in farther and farther.
Frank wants to say, "George went to the Stereopticon yesterday." Instead
of that he says, "A fellow at our school named George, a brother of Tom
Tileston who goes to the Dwight, and is in Miss Somerby's room,--not the
Miss Somerby that has the class in the Sunday school,--she's at the
Brimmer School,--but her sister,"--and already poor Frank is far from
George, and far from the Stereopticon, and, as I observe, is wandering
farther and farther. He began with George, but, George having suggested
Tom and Miss Somerby, by the same law of thought each of them would have
suggested two others. Poor Frank, who was quite master of his one theme,
George, finds unawares that he is dealing with two, gets flurried, but
plunges on, only to find, in his remembering, that these two have doubled
into four, and then, conscious that in an instant they will be eight, and,
which is worse, eight themes or subjects on which he is not prepared to
speak at all, probably wishes he had never begun. It is certain that every
one else wishes it, whether he does or not. You need not explain. People
of sense understand something.

Do you remember the illustration of repartee in Miss Edgeworth? It
is this:--

Mr. Pope, who was crooked and cross, was talking with a young officer.
The officer said he thought that in a certain sentence an
interrogation-mark was needed.

"Do you know what an interrogation-mark is?" snarled out the crooked,
cross little man.

"It is a crooked little thing that asks questions," said the young man.

And he shut up Mr. Pope for that day.

But you can see that he would not have shut up Mr. Pope at all if he had
had to introduce his answer and explain it from point to point. If he had
said, "Do you really suppose I do not know? Why, really, as long ago as
when I was at the Charter House School, old William Watrous, who was
master there then,--he had been at the school himself, when he and Ezekiel
Cheever were boys,--told me that a point of interrogation was a little
crooked thing that asks questions."

The repartee would have lost a good deal of its force, if this unknown
young officer had not learned, 1, not to introduce his remarks; 2, not to
give authorities; and 3, not to explain who people are. These are,
perhaps, enough instances in detail, though they do not in the least
describe all the dangers that surround you. Speaking more generally, avoid
parentheses as you would poison; and more generally yet, as I said at
first, BE SHORT.

These six rules must suffice for the present. Observe, I am only speaking
of methods. I take it for granted that you are not spiteful, hateful, or
wicked otherwise. I do not tell you, therefore, never to talk scandal,
because I hope you do not need to learn that. I do not tell you never to
be sly, or mean, in talk. If you need to be told that, you are beyond
such training as we can give here. Study well, and practise daily these
six rules, and then you will be prepared for our next instructions,--which
require attention to these rules, as all Life does,--when we shall


Chapter IV.

How To Write.

It is supposed that you have learned your letters, and how to make them.
It is supposed that you have written the school copies, from

  _Apes and Amazons aim at Art_

down to

  _Zanies and Zodiacs are the zest of Zoroaster_

It is supposed that you can mind your p's and q's, and, as Harriet Byron
said of Charles Grandison, in the romance which your great-grandmother
knew by heart, "that you can spell well." Observe the advance of the
times, dear Stephen. That a gentleman should spell well was the only
literary requisition which the accomplished lady of his love made upon him
a hundred years ago. And you, if you go to Mrs. Vandermeyer's party
to-night, will be asked by the fair Marcia, what is your opinion as to the
origin of the Myth of Ceres!

These things are supposed. It is also supposed that you have, at heart and
in practice, the essential rules which have been unfolded in Chapters II.
and III. As has been already said, these are as necessary in one duty of
life as in another,--in writing a President's message as in finding your
way by a spotted trail, from Albany to Tamworth.

These things being supposed, we will now consider the special needs for
writing, as a gentleman writes, or a lady, in the English language, which
is, fortunately for us, the best language of them all.

I will tell you, first, the first lesson I learned about it; for it was
the best, and was central. My first undertaking of importance in this line
was made when I was seven years old. There was a new theatre, and a prize
of a hundred dollars was offered for an ode to be recited at the
opening,--or perhaps it was only at the opening of the season. Our school
was hard by the theatre, and as we boys were generally short of
spending-money, we conceived the idea of competing for this prize. You can
see that a hundred dollars would have gone a good way in barley-candy and
blood-alleys,--which last are things unknown, perhaps, to Young America
to-day. So we resolutely addressed ourselves to writing for the ode. I was
soon snagged, and found the difficulties greater than I had thought. I
consulted one who has through life been Nestor and Mentor to me,--(Second
class in Greek,--Wilkins, who was Nestor?--Right; go up. Third class in
French,--Miss Clara, who was Mentor?--Right; sit down),--and he replied by
this remark, which I beg you to ponder inwardly, and always act upon:--

"Edward," said he, "whenever I am going to write anything, I find it best
to think first what I am going to say."

In the instruction thus conveyed is a lesson which nine writers out of ten
have never learned. Even the people who write leading articles for the
newspapers do not, half the time, know what they are going to say when
they begin. And I have heard many a sermon which was evidently written by
a man who, when he began, only knew what his first "head" was to be. The
sermon was a sort of riddle to himself, when he started, and he was
curious as to how it would come out. I remember a very worthy gentleman
who sometimes spoke to the Sunday school when I was a boy. He would begin
without the slightest idea of what he was going to say, but he was sure
that the end of the first sentence would help him to the second. This is
an example.

"My dear young friends, I do not know that I have anything to say to you,
but I am very much obliged to your teachers for asking me to address you
this beautiful morning.--The morning is so beautiful after the refreshment
of the night, that as I walked to church, and looked around and breathed
the fresh air, I felt more than ever what a privilege it is to live in so
wonderful a world.--For the world, dear children, has been all contrived
and set in order for us by a Power so much higher than our own, that we
might enjoy our own lives, and live for the happiness and good of our
brothers and our sisters.--Our brothers and our sisters they are indeed,
though some of them are in distant lands, and beneath other skies, and
parted from us by the broad oceans.--These oceans, indeed, do not so much
divide the world as they unite it. They make it one. The winds which blow
over them, and the currents which move their waters,--all are ruled by a
higher law, that they may contribute to commerce and to the good of
man.--And man, my dear children," &c., &c., &c.

You see there is no end to it. It is a sort of capping verses with
yourself, where you take up the last word, or the last idea of one
sentence, and begin the next with it, quite indifferent where you come
out, if you only "occupy the time" that is appointed. It is very easy
for you, but, my dear friends, it is very hard for those who read and
who listen!

The vice goes so far, indeed, that you may divide literature into two
great classes of books. The smaller class of the two consists of the books
written by people who had something to say. They had in life learned
something, or seen something, or done something, which they really wanted
and needed to tell to other people. They told it. And their writings make,
perhaps, a twentieth part of the printed literature of the world. It is
the part which contains all that is worth reading. The other
nineteen-twentieths make up the other class. The people have written just
as you wrote at school when Miss Winstanley told you to bring in your
compositions on "Duty Performed." You had very little to say about "Duty
Performed." But Miss Winstanley expected three pages. And she got
them,--such as they were.

Our first rule is, then,

  Know What You Want To Say.

The second rule is,

  Say It.

That is, do not begin by saying something else, which you think will lead
up to what you want to say. I remember, when they tried to teach me to
sing, they told me to "think of eight and sing seven." That may be a very
good rule for singing, but it is not a good rule for talking, or writing,
or any of the other things that I have to do. I advise you to say the
thing you want to say. When I began to preach, another of my Nestors said
to me, "Edward, I give you one piece of advice. When you have written your
sermon, leave off the introduction and leave off the conclusion. The
introduction seems to me always written to show that the minister can
preach two sermons on one text. Leave that off, then, and it will do for
another Sunday. The conclusion is written to apply to the congregation the
doctrine of the sermon. But, if your hearers are such fools that they
cannot apply the doctrine to themselves, nothing you can say will help
them." In this advice was much wisdom. It consists, you see, in advising
to begin, at the beginning, and to stop when you have done.

Thirdly, and always,

  Use Your Own Language.

I mean the language you are accustomed to use in daily life. David did
much better with his sling than he would have done with Saul's sword and
spear. And Hatty Fielding told me, only last week, that she was very sorry
she wore her cousin's pretty brooch to an evening dance, though Fanny had
really forced it on her. Hatty said, like a sensible girl as she is, that
it made her nervous all the time. She felt as if she were sailing under
false colors. If your every-day language is not fit for a letter or for
print, it is not fit for talk. And if, by any series of joking or fun, at
school or at home, you have got into the habit of using slang in talk,
which is not fit for print, why, the sooner you get out of it the better.
Remember that the very highest compliment paid to anything printed is paid
when a person, hearing it read aloud, thinks it is the remark of the
reader made in conversation. Both writer and reader then receive the
highest possible praise.

It is sad enough to see how often this rule is violated. There are
fashions of writing. Mr. Dickens, in his wonderful use of exaggerated
language, introduced one. And now you can hardly read the court report in
a village paper but you find that the ill-bred boy who makes up what he
calls its "locals" thinks it is funny to write in such a style as this:--

"An unfortunate individual who answered to the somewhat well-worn
sobriquet of Jones, and appeared to have been trying some experiments as
to the comparative density of his own skull and the materials of the
sidewalk, made an involuntary appearance before Mr. Justice Smith."

Now the little fool who writes this does not think of imitating Dickens.
He is only imitating another fool, who was imitating another, who was
imitating another,--who, through a score of such imitations, got the idea
of this burlesque exaggeration from some of Mr. Dickens's earlier writings
of thirty years ago. It was very funny when Mr. Dickens originated it. And
almost always, when he used it, it was very funny. But it is not in the
least funny when these other people use it, to whom it is not natural, and
to whom it does not come easily. Just as this boy says "sobriquet,"
without knowing at all what the word means, merely because he has read it
in another newspaper, everybody, in this vein, gets entrapped into using
words with the wrong senses, in the wrong places, and making himself

Now it happens, by good luck, that I have, on the table here, a pretty
file of eleven compositions, which Miss Winstanley has sent me, which the
girls in her first class wrote, on the subject I have already named. The
whole subject, as she gave it out, was, "Duty performed is a Rainbow in
the Soul." I think, myself, that the subject was a hard one, and that Miss
Winstanley would have done better had she given them a choice from two
familiar subjects, of which they had lately seen something or read
something. When young people have to do a thing, it always helps them to
give them a choice between two ways of doing it. However, Miss Winstanley
gave them this subject. It made a good deal of growling in the school,
but, when the time came, of course the girls buckled down to the work,
and, as I said before, the three pages wrote themselves, or were written
somehow or other.

Now I am not going to inflict on you all these eleven compositions. But
there are three of them which, as it happens, illustrate quite distinctly
the three errors against which I have been warning you. I will copy a
little scrap from each of them. First, here is Pauline's. She wrote
without any idea, when she began, of what she was going to say.

  "_Duty performed is a Rainbow in the Soul_.

"A great many people ask the question, 'What is duty?' and there has
been a great deal written upon the subject, and many opinions have been
expressed in a variety of ways. People have different ideas upon it, and
some of them think one thing and some another. And some have very strong
views, and very decided about it. But these are not always to be the
most admired, for often those who are so loud about a thing are not the
ones who know the most upon a subject. Yet it is all very important, and
many things should be done; and, when they are done, we are all
embowered in ecstasy."

That is enough of poor Pauline's. And, to tell the truth, she was as much
ashamed when she had come out to this "ecstasy," in first writing what she
called "the plaguy thing," as she is now she reads it from the print. But
she began that sentence, just as she began the whole, with no idea how it
was to end. Then she got aground. She had said, "it is all very
important"; and she did not know that it was better to stop there, if she
had nothing else to say, so, after waiting a good while, knowing that they
must all go to bed at nine, she added, "and many things should be done."
Even then, she did not see that the best thing she could do was to put a
full stop to the sentence. She watched the other girls, who were going
well down their second pages, while she had not turned the leaf, and so,
in real agony, she added this absurd "when they are done, we are all
embowered in ecstasy." The next morning they had to copy the
"compositions." She knew what stuff this was, just as well as you and I
do, but it took up twenty good lines, and she could not afford, she
thought, to leave it out. Indeed, I am sorry to say, none of her
"composition" was any better. She did not know what she wanted to say,
when she had done, any better than when she began.

Pauline is the same Pauline who wanted to draw in monochromatic drawing.

Here is the beginning of Sybil's. She is the girl who refused the
sponge-cake when Dr. Throop offered it to her. She had an idea that an
introduction helped along,--and this is her introduction.

  "_Duty performed is a Rainbow in the Soul_.

"I went out at sunset to consider this subject, and beheld how the
departing orb was scattering his beams over the mountains. Every blade of
grass was gathering in some rays of beauty, every tree was glittering in
the majesty of parting day.

"I said, 'What is life?--What is duty?' I saw the world folding itself up
to rest. The little flowers, the tired sheep, were turning to their fold.
So the sun went down. He had done his duty, along with the rest."

And so we got round to "Duty performed," and, the introduction well over,
like the tuning of an orchestra, the business of the piece began. That
little slip about the flowers going into their folds was one which Sybil
afterwards defended. She said it meant that they folded themselves up. But
it was an oversight when she wrote it; she forgot the flowers, and was
thinking of the sheep.

Now I think you will all agree with me that the whole composition would
have been better without this introduction.

Sarah Clavers had a genuine idea, which she had explained to the other
girls much in this way. "I know what Miss Winstanley means. She means
this. When you have had a real hard time to do what you know you ought to
do, when you have made a good deal of fuss about it,--as we all did the
day we had to go over to Mr. Ingham's and beg pardon for disturbing the
Sunday school,--you are so glad it is done, that everything seems nice and
quiet and peaceful, just as when a thunder-storm is really over, only just
a few drops falling, there comes a nice still minute or two with a rainbow
across the sky. That's what Miss Winstanley means, and that's what I am
going to say."

Now really, if Sarah had said that, without making the sentence
breathlessly long, it would have been a very decent "composition" for such
a subject. But when poor Sarah got her paper before her, she made two
mistakes. First, she thought her school-girl talk was not good enough to
be written down. And, second, she knew that long words took up more room
than short; so, to fill up her three pages, she translated her little
words into the largest she could think of. It was just as Dr.
Schweigenthal, when he wanted to say "Jesus was going to Jerusalem," said,
"The Founder of our religion was proceeding to the metropolis of his
country." That took three times as much room and time, you see. So Sarah
translated her English into the language of the Talkee-talkees;

  "_Duty performed is a Rainbow in the Soul_.

"It is frequently observed, that the complete discharge of the
obligations pressing upon us as moral agents is attended with conflict
and difficulty. Frequently, therefore, we address ourselves to the
discharge of these obligations with some measure of resistance, perhaps
with obstinacy, and I may add, indeed, with unwillingness. I wish I could
persuade myself that our teacher had forgotten" (Sarah looked on this as
a masterpiece,--a good line of print, which says, as you see, really
nothing) "the afternoon which was so mortifying to all who were
concerned, when her appeal to our better selves, and to our educated
consciousness of what was due to a clergyman, and to the institutions of
religion, made it necessary for several of the young ladies to cross to
the village," (Sarah wished she could have said metropolis,) "and obtain
an interview with the Rev. Mr. Ingham."

And so the composition goes on. Four full pages there are; but you see how
they were gained,--by a vicious style, wholly false to a frank-spoken girl
like Sarah. She expanded into what fills sixteen lines on this page what,
as she expressed it in conversation, fills only five.

I hope you all see how one of these faults brings on another. Such is the
way with all faults; they hunt in couples, or often, indeed, in larger
company. The moment you leave the simple wish to say upon paper the thing
you have thought, you are given over to all these temptations, to write
things which, if any one else wrote them, you would say were absurd, as
you say these school-girls' "compositions" are. Here is a good rule of the
real "Nestor" of our time. He is a great preacher; and one day he was
speaking of the advantage of sometimes preaching an old sermon a second
time. "You can change the arrangement," he said. "You can fill in any
point in the argument, where you see it is not as strong as you proposed.
You can add an illustration, if your statement is difficult to understand.
Above all, you can

  "Leave Out All The Fine Passages."

I put that in small capitals, for one of our rules. For, in nineteen
cases out of twenty, the Fine Passage that you are so pleased with, when
you first write it, is better out of sight than in. Remember Whately's
great maxim, "Nobody knows what good things you leave out."

Indeed, to the older of the young friends who favor me by reading these
pages I can give no better advice, by the way, than that they read
"Whately's Rhetoric." Read ten pages a day, then turn back, and read
them carefully again, before you put the book by. You will find it a
very pleasant book, and it will give you a great many hints for clear
and simple expression, which you are not so likely to find in any other
way I know.

Most of you know the difference between Saxon words and Latin words in the
English language. You know there were once two languages in England,--the
Norman French, which William the Conqueror and his men brought in, and the
Saxon of the people who were conquered at that time. The Norman French was
largely composed of words of Latin origin. The English language has been
made up of the slow mixture of these two; but the real stock, out of which
this delicious soup is made, is the Saxon,--the Norman French should only
add the flavor. In some writing, it is often necessary to use the words of
Latin origin. Thus, in most scientific writing, the Latin words more
nicely express the details of the meaning needed. But, to use the Latin
word where you have a good Saxon one is still what it was in the times of
Wamba and of Cedric,--it is to pretend you are one of the conquering
nobility, when, in fact, you are one of the free people, who speak, and
should be proud to speak, not the French, but the English tongue. To those
of you who have even a slight knowledge of French or Latin it will be very
good fun, and a very good exercise, to translate, in some thoroughly bad
author, his Latin words into English.

To younger writers, or to those who know only English, this may seem too
hard a task. It will be doing much the same thing, if they will try
translating from long words into short ones.

Here is a piece of weak English. It is not bad in other regards, but
simply weak.

"Entertaining unlimited confidence in your intelligent and patriotic
devotion to the public interest, and being conscious of no motives on my
part which are not inseparable from the honor and advancement of my
country, I hope it may be my privilege to deserve and secure, not only
your cordial co-operation in great public measures, but also those
relations of mutual confidence and regard which it is always so desirable
to cultivate between members of co-ordinate branches of the government."
[Footnote: From Mr. Franklin Pierce's first message to Congress as
President of the United States.]

Take that for an exercise in translating into shorter words. Strike out
the unnecessary words, and see if it does not come out stronger. The same
passage will serve also as an exercise as to the use of Latin and Saxon
words. Dr. Johnson is generally quoted as the English author who uses most
Latin words. He uses, I think, ten in a hundred. But our Congressmen far
exceed him. This sentence uses Latin words at the rate of thirty-five in
a hundred. Try a good many experiments in translating from long to short,
and you will be sure that, when you have a fair choice between two words,

  A Short Word Is Better Than A Long One.

For instance, I think this sentence would have been better if it had been
couched in thirty-six words instead of eighty-one. I think we should have
lost nothing of the author's meaning if he had said, "I have full trust in
you. I am sure that I seek only the honor and advance of the country. I
hope, therefore, that I may earn your respect and regard, while we
heartily work together."

I am fond of telling the story of the words which a distinguished friend
of mine used in accepting a hard post of duty. He said:--"I do not think I
am fit for this place. But my friends say I am, and I trust them. I shall
take the place, and, when I am in it, I shall do as well as I can."

It is a very grand sentence. Observe that it has not one word which is
more than one syllable. As it happens, also, every word is Saxon,--there
is not one spurt of Latin. Yet this was a learned man, who, if he chose,
could have said the whole in Latin. But he was one American gentleman
talking to another American gentleman, and therefore he chose to use the
tongue to which they both were born.

We have not space to go into the theory of these rules, as far as I should
like to. But you see the force which a short word has, if you can use it,
instead of a long one. If you want to say "hush," "hush" is a much better
word than the French "_taisez-vous"_ If you want to say "halt," "halt" is
much better than the French "_arretez-vous"_ The French have, in fact,
borrowed "_halte"_ from us or from the German, for their tactics. For the
same reason, you want to prune out the unnecessary words from your
sentences, and even the classes of words which seem put in to fill up. If,
for instance, you can express your idea without an adjective, your
sentence is stronger and more manly. It is better to say "a saint" than
"a saintly man." It is better to say "This is the truth" than "This is the
truthful result." Of course an adjective may be absolutely necessary. But
you may often detect extempore speakers in piling in adjectives, because
they have not yet hit on the right noun. In writing, this is not to be
excused. "You have all the time there is," when you write, and you do
better to sink a minute in thinking for one right word, than to put in two
in its place,--because you can do so without loss of time. I hope every
school-girl knows, what I am sure every school-boy knows, Sheridan's
saying, that "Easy writing, is hard reading." In general, as I said
before, other things being equal,

  "The Fewer Words, The Better,"

"as it seems to me." "As it seems to me" is the quiet way in which Nestor
states things. Would we were all as careful!

There is one adverb or adjective which it is almost always safe to leave
out in America. It is the word "very." I learned that from one of the
masters of English style. "Strike out your 'verys,'" said he to me, when I
was young. I wish I had done so oftener than I have.

For myself, I like short sentences. This is, perhaps, because I have read
a good deal of modern French, and I think the French gain in clearness by
the shortness of their sentences. But there are great masters of
style,--great enough to handle long sentences well,--and these men would
not agree with me. But I will tell you this, that if you have a sentence
which you do not like, the best experiment to try on it is the experiment
Medea tried on the old goat, when she wanted to make him over:--

  Cut It To Pieces.

What shall I take for illustration? You will be more interested in one of
these school-girls' themes than in an old Congress speech I have here
marked for copying. Here is the first draft of Laura Walter's composition,
which happens to be tied up in the same red ribbon with the finished
exercises. I will copy a piece of that, and then you shall see, from the
corrected "composition," what came of it, when she cut it to pieces, and
applied the other rules which we have been studying.

  Laura's First Draft.

"_Duty performed is a Rainbow in the Soul_.

"I cannot conceive, and therefore I cannot attempt adequately to consider,
the full probable meaning of the metaphorical expression with which the
present 'subject' concludes,--nor do I suppose it is absolutely necessary
that I should do so, for expressing the various impressions which I have
formed on the subject taken as a whole, which have occurred to me in such
careful meditation as I have been able to give to it,--in natural
connection with an affecting little incident, which I will now, so far as
my limited space will permit, proceed, however inadequately, to describe.

"My dear little brother Frankie--as sweet a little fellow as ever plagued
his sister's life out, or troubled the kindest of mothers in her daily
duties--was one day returning from school, when he met my father hurrying
from his office, and was directed by him to proceed as quickly as was
possible to the post-office, and make inquiry there for a letter of a good
deal of importance which he had reason to expect, or at the least to hope
for, by the New York mail."

Laura had come as far as this early in the week, when bedtime came. The
next day she read it all, and saw it was sad stuff, and she frankly asked
herself why. The answer was, that she had really been trying to spin out
three pages. "Now," said Laura to herself, "that is not fair." And she
finished the piece in a very different way, as you shall see. Then she
went back over this introduction, and struck out the fine passages. Then
she struck out the long words, and put in short ones. Then she saw she
could do better yet,--and she cut that long introductory sentence to
pieces. Then she saw that none of it was strictly necessary, if she only
explained why she gave up the rainbow part. And, after all these
reductions, the first part of the essay which I have copied was cut down
and changed so that it read thus:--

  "_Duty performed is a Rainbow in the Soul_.

"I do not know what is meant by a Rainbow in the Soul."

Then Laura went on thus:--

"I will try to tell a story of duty performed. My brother Frank was sent
to the post-office for a letter. When he came there, the poor child found
a big dog at the door of the office, and was afraid to go in. It was just
the dead part of the day in a country village, when even the shops are
locked up for an hour, and Frank, who is very shy, saw no one whom he
could call upon. He tried to make Miss Evarts, the post-office clerk,
hear; but she was in the back of the office. Frank was frightened, but he
meant to do his duty. So he crossed the bridge, walked up to the butcher's
shop in the other village,--which he knew was open,--spent two pennies for
a bit of meat, and carried it back to tempt his enemy. He waved it in the
air, called the dog, and threw it into the street. The dog was much more
willing to eat the meat than to eat Frankie. He left his post. Frank went
in and tapped on the glass, and Miss Evarts came and gave him the letter.
Frank came home in triumph, and papa said it was a finer piece of duty
performed than the celebrated sacrifice of Casabianca's would have been,
had it happened that Casabianca ever made it."

That is the shortest of these "compositions." It is much the best. Miss
Winstanley took the occasion to tell the girls, that, other things being
equal, a short "composition" is better than a long one. A short
"composition" which shows thought and care, is much better than a long one
which "writes itself."

I dislike the word "composition," but I use it, because it is familiar. I
think "essay" or "piece" or even "theme" a better word.

Will you go over Laura's story and see where it could be shortened, and
what Latin words could be changed for better Saxon ones?

Will you take care, in writing yourself, never to say "commence" or

In the next chapter we will ask each other


Chapter V.

How To Read.

I.--_The Choice of Books_.

You are not to expect any stories this time. There will be very few words
about Stephen, or Sybil, or Sarah. My business now is rather to answer, as
well as I can, such questions as young people ask who are beginning to
have their time at their own command, and can make their own selection of
the books they are to read. I have before me, as I write, a handful of
letters which have been written to the office of "The Young Folks," asking
such questions. And all my intelligent young friends are asking each other
such questions, and so ask them of me every day. I shall answer these
questions by laying down some general rules, just as I have done before
but I shall try to put you into the way of choosing your own books, rather
than choosing for you a long, defined list of them.

I believe very thoroughly in courses of reading, because I believe in
having one book lead to another. But, after the beginning, these courses
for different persons will vary very much from each other. You all go out
to a great picnic, and meet together in some pleasant place in the woods,
and you put down the baskets there, and leave the pail with the ice in the
shadiest place you can find, and cover it up with the blanket. Then you
all set out in this great forest, which we call Literature. But it is only
a few of the party, who choose to start hand in hand along a gravel-path
there is, which leads straight to the Burgesses' well, and probably those
few enjoy less and gain less from the day's excursion than any of the
rest. The rest break up into different knots, and go some here and some
there, as their occasion and their genius call them. Some go after
flowers, some after berries, some after butterflies; some knock the rocks
to pieces, some get up where there is a fine view, some sit down and copy
the stumps, some go into water, some make a fire, some find a camp of
Indians and learn how to make baskets. Then they all come back to the
picnic in good spirits and with good appetites, each eager to tell the
others what he has seen and heard, each having satisfied his own taste and
genius, and each and all having made vastly more out of the day than if
they had all held to the gravel-path and walked in column to the
Burgesses' well and back again.

This, you see, is a long parable for the purpose of making you remember
that there are but few books which it is necessary for every intelligent
boy and girl, man and woman, to have read. Of those few, I had as lief
give the list here.

First is the Bible, of which not only is an intelligent knowledge
necessary for your healthy growth in religious life, but--which is of less
consequence, indeed--it is as necessary for your tolerable understanding
of the literature, or even science, of a world which for eighteen
centuries has been under the steady influence of the Bible. Around the
English version of it, as Mr. Marsh shows so well, the English language
of the last three centuries has revolved, as the earth revolves around the
sun. He means, that although the language of one time differs from that of
another, it is always at about the same distance from the language of King
James's Bible.

[Footnote: Marsh's Lectures on the English Language: very
entertaining books.]

Second, every one ought to be quite well informed as to the history of the
country in which he lives. All of you should know the general history of
the United States well. You should know the history of your own State in
more detail, and of your own town in the most detail of all.

Third, an American needs to have a clear knowledge of the general features
of the history of England.

Now it does not make so much difference how you compass this general
historical knowledge, if, in its main features, you do compass it. When
Mr. Lincoln went down to Norfolk to see the rebel commissioners, Mr.
Hunter, on their side, cited, as a precedent for the action which he
wanted the President to pursue, the negotiations between Charles the
First and his Parliament. Mr. Lincoln's eyes twinkled, and he said, "Upon
questions of history I must refer you to Mr. Seward, for he is posted upon
such things, and I do not profess to be. My only distinct recollection of
the matter is, that Charles lost his head." Now you see it is of no sort
of consequence how Mr. Lincoln got his thoroughly sound knowledge of the
history of England,--in which, by the way, he was entirely at home,--and
he had a perfect right to pay the compliment he did to Mr. Seward; but it
was of great importance to him that he should not be haunted with the fear
that the other man did know, really, of some important piece of
negotiation of which he was ignorant. It was important to him to know
that, so that he might be sure that his joke was--as it was--exactly the
fitting answer.

Fourth, it is necessary that every intelligent American or Englishman
should have read carefully most of Shakespeare's plays. Most people would
have named them before the history, but I do not. I do not care, however,
how early you read them in life, and, as we shall see, they will be among
your best guides for the history of England.

Lastly, it is a disgrace to read even the newspaper, without knowing
where the places are which are spoken of. You need, therefore, the very
best atlas you can provide yourself with. The atlas you had when you
studied geography at school is better than none. But if you can compass
any more precise and full, so much the better. Colton's American Atlas is
good. The large cheap maps, published two on one roller by Lloyd, are
good; if you can give but five dollars for your maps, perhaps this is the
best investment. Mr. Fay's beautiful atlas costs but three and a half
dollars. For the other hemisphere, Black's Atlas is good. Rogers's,
published in Edinburgh, is very complete in its American maps. Stieler's
is cheap and reliable.

When people talk of the "books which no gentleman's library should be
without," the list may be boiled down, I think--if in any stress we should
be reduced to the bread-and-water diet--to such books as will cover these
five fundamental necessities. If you cannot buy the Bible, the agent of
the County Bible Society will give you one. You can buy the whole of
Shakespeare for fifty cents in Dicks's edition. And, within two miles of
the place where you live, there are books enough for all the historical
study I have prescribed. So, in what I now go on to say, I shall take it
for granted that we have all of us made thus much preparation, or can make
it. These are the central stores of the picnic, which we can fall back
upon, after our explorations in our various lines of literature.

Now for our several courses of reading. How am I to know what are your
several tastes, or the several lines of your genius? Here are, as I learn
from Mr. Osgood, some seventy-six thousand five hundred and forty-three
Young Folks, be the same more or less, who are reading this paper. How am
I to tell what are their seventy-six thousand five hundred and forty-three
tastes, dispositions, or lines of genius? I cannot tell. Perhaps they
could not tell themselves, not being skilled in self-analysis; and it is
by no means necessary that they should be able to tell. Perhaps we can set
down on paper what will be much better, the rules or the system by which
each of them may read well in the line of his own genius, and so find out,
before he has done with this life, what the line of that genius is, as far
as there is any occasion.

  Do Not Try To Read Everything.

That is the first rule. Do not think you must be a Universal Genius. Do
not "read all Reviews," as an old code I had bade young men do. And give
up, as early as you can, the passion, with which all young people
naturally begin, of "keeping up with the literature of the time." As for
the literature of the time, if one were to adopt any extreme rule, Mr.
Emerson's would be the better of the two possible extremes. He says it is
wise to read no book till it has been printed a year; that, before the
year is well over, many of those books drift out of sight, which just now
all the newspapers are telling you to read. But then, seriously, I do not
suppose he acts on that rule himself. Nor need you and I. Only, we will
not try to read them all.

Here I must warn my young friend Jamie not to go on talking about
renouncing "nineteenth century trash."

It will not do to use such words about a century in which have written
Goethe, Fichte, Cuvier, Schleiermacher, Martineau, Scott, Tennyson,
Thackeray, Browning, and Dickens, not to mention a hundred others whom
Jamie likes to read as much as I do.

No. We will trust to conversation with the others, who have had their
different paths in this picnic party of ours, to learn from them just the
brightest and best things that they have seen and heard. And we will try
to be able to tell them, simply and truly, the best things we find on our
own paths. Now, for selecting the path, what shall we do,--since one
cannot in one little life attempt them all?

You can select for yourself, if you will only keep a cool head, and have
your eyes open. First of all, remember that what you want from books is
the information in them, and the stimulus they give to you, and the
amusement for your recreation. You do not read for the poor pleasure of
saying you have read them. You are reading for the subject, much more than
for the particular book, and if you find that you have exhausted all the
book has on your subject, then you are to leave that book, whether you
have read it through or not. In some cases you read because the author's
own mind is worth knowing; and then the more you read the better you know
him. But these cases do not affect the rule. You read for what is in the
books, not that you may mark such a book off from a "course of reading,"
or say at the next meeting of the "Philogabblian Society" that you "have
just been reading Kant" or "Godwin." What is the subject, then, which you
want to read upon?

Half the boys and girls who read this have been so well trained that they
know. They know what they want to know. One is sure that she wants to know
more about Mary Queen of Scots; another, that he wants to know more about
fly-fishing; another, that she wants to know more about the Egyptian
hieroglyphics; another, that he wants to know more about propagating new
varieties of pansies; another, that she wants to know more about "The Ring
and the Book"; another, that he wants to know more about the "Tenure of
Office bill" Happy is this half. To know your ignorance is the great first
step to its relief. To confess it, as has been said before, is the second.
In a minute I will be ready to say what I can to this happy half; but one
minute first for the less happy half, who know they want to read something
because it is so nice to read a pleasant book, but who do not know what
that something is. They come to us, as their ancestors came to a relative
of mine who was librarian of a town library sixty years ago: "Please, sir,
mother wants a sermon book, and another book."

To these undecided ones I simply say, now has the time come for decision.
Your school studies have undoubtedly opened up so many subjects to you
that you very naturally find it hard to select between them. Shall you
keep up your drawing, or your music, or your history, or your botany, or
your chemistry? Very well in the schools, my dear Alice, to have started
you in these things, but now you are coming to be a woman, it is for you
to decide which shall go forward; it is not for Miss Winstanley, far less
for me, who never saw your face, and know nothing of what you can or
cannot do.

Now you can decide in this way. Tell me, or tell yourself, what is the
passage in your reading or in your life for the last week which rests on
your memory. Let us see if we thoroughly understand that passage. If we do
not, we will see if we cannot learn to. That will give us a "course of
reading" for the next twelve months, or if we choose, for the rest of our
lives. There is no end, you will see, to a true course of reading; and, on
the other hand, you may about as well begin at one place as another.
Remember that you have infinite lives before you, so you need not hurry in
the details for fear the work should be never done.

Now I must show you how to go to work, by supposing you have been
interested in some particular passage. Let us take a passage from
Macaulay, which I marked in the Edinburgh Review for Sydney to speak,
twenty-nine years ago,--I think before I had ever heard Macaulay's name. A
great many of you boys have spoken it at school since then, and many of
you girls have heard scraps from it. It is a brilliant passage, rather too
ornate for daily food, but not amiss for a luxury, more than candied
orange is after a state dinner. He is speaking of the worldly wisdom and
skilful human policy of the method of organization of the Roman Catholic
Church. He says:--

"The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human
civilization. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind
back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, when
camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest
royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the
Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the
Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century, to the Pope who
crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august
dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The Republic of
Venice came next in antiquity. But the Republic of Venice was modern when
compared to the Papacy; and the Republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy
remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of
life and youthful vigor. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the
farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in
Kent with Augustine; and still confronting hostile kings with the same
spirit with which she confronted Attila....

"She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain,
before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still
flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of
Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigor, when some traveller
from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand
on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's."

I. We will not begin by considering the wisdom or the mistake of the
general opinion here laid down. We will begin by trying to make out what
is the real meaning of the leading words employed. Look carefully along
the sentence, and see if you are quite sure of what is meant by such terms
as "The Roman Catholic Church," "the Pantheon," "the Flavian
amphitheatre," "the Supreme Pontiffs," "the Pope who crowned Napoleon,"
"the Pope who crowned Pepin," "the Republic of Venice," "the missionaries
who landed in Kent," "Augustine," "the Saxon had set foot in Britain,"
"the Frank had passed the Rhine," "Grecian eloquence still flourished at
Antioch," "idols in Mecca," "New Zealand," "London Bridge," "St. Paul's."

For really working up a subject--and this sentence now is to be our
subject--I advise a blank book, and, for my part, I like to write down the
key words or questions, in a vertical line, quite far apart from each
other, on the first pages. You will see why, if you will read on.

II. Now go to work on this list. What do you really know about the
organization of the Roman Catholic Church? If you find you are vague about
it, that such knowledge as you have is only half knowledge, which is no
knowledge, read till you are clear. Much information is not necessary, but
good, as far as it goes, is necessary on any subject. This is a
controverted subject. You ought to try, therefore, to read some statement
by a Catholic author, and some statement by a Protestant. To find out what
to read on this or any subject, there are different clews.

1. Any encyclopædia, good or bad, will set you on the trail. Most of you
have or can have an encyclopædia at command. There are one-volume
encyclopædias better than nothing, which are very cheap. You can pick up
an edition of the old Encyclopædia Americana, in twelve volumes, for ten
or twelve dollars. Or you can buy Appleton's, which is really quite good,
for sixty dollars a set. I do not mean to have you rest on any
encyclopædia, but you will find one at the start an excellent guide-post.
Suppose you have the old Encyclopædia Americana. You will find there that
the "Roman Catholic Church" is treated by two writers,--one a Protestant,
and one a Catholic. Read both, and note in your book such allusions as
interest you, which you want more light upon. Do not note everything which
you do not know, for then you cannot get forward. But note all that
specially interests you. For instance, it seems that the Roman Catholic
Church is not so called by that church itself. The officers of that church
might call it the Roman church, or the Catholic church, but would not call
it the Roman Catholic church. At the Congress of Vienna, Cardinal Consalvi
objected to the joint use of the words Roman Catholic church. Do you know
what the Congress of Vienna was? No? then make a memorandum, if you want
to know. We might put in another for Cardinal Consalvi. He was a man, who
had a father and mother, perhaps brothers and sisters. He will give us a
little human interest, if we stop to look him up. But do not stop for him
now. Work through "Roman Catholic Church," and keep these memoranda in
your book for another day.

2. Quite different from the encyclopædia is another book of reference,
"Poole's Index." This is a general index to seventy-three magazines and
reviews, which were published between the years 1802 and 1852. Now a great
deal of the best work of this century has been put into such journals. A
reference, then, to "Poole's Index" is a reference to some of the best
separate papers on the subjects which for fifty years had most interest
for the world of reading men and women. Let us try "Poole's Index" on "The
Republic of Venice." There are references to articles on Venice in the New
England Magazine, in the Pamphleteer, in the Monthly Review, Edinburgh,
Quarterly, Westminster, and De Bow's Reviews. Copy all these references
carefully, if you have any chance at any time of access to any of these
journals. It is not, you know, at all necessary to have them in the
house. Probably there is some friend's collection or public library where
you can find one or more of them. If you live in or near Boston, or New
York, or Philadelphia, or Charleston, or New Orleans, or Cincinnati, or
Chicago, or St. Louis, or Ithaca, you can find every one.

When you have carefully gone down this original list, and made your
memoranda for it, you are prepared to work out these memoranda. You begin
now to see how many there are. You must be guided, of course, in your
reading, by the time you have, and by the opportunity for getting the
books. But, aside from that, you may choose what you like best, for a
beginning. To make this simple by an illustration, I will suppose you have
been using the old Encyclopædia Americana, or Appleton's Cyclopædia and
Poole's Index only, for your first list. As I should draw it up, it would
look like this:--

                 CYCLOPÆDIA.          POOLE'S INDEX.

                        ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

See (for instance)                  Eclectic Rev., 4th S. 13, 485.
Council of Trent.                   Quart. Rev., 71, 108.
Chrysostom.                         For. Quart. Rev., 27, 184.
Congress of Vienna.                 Brownson's Rev., 2d S. 1, 413; 3, 309.
Cardinal Consalvi.                  N. Brit. Rev., 10, 21.

                        THE PANTHEON.

Built by Agrippa. Consecrated,
  607, to St. Mary ad Martyros.
  Called Rotunda.

                        THE FLAVIAN AMPHITHEATRE.

The Coliseum, _b_. by T. Flavius

                        SUPREME PONTIFFS.

Popes. The line begins with       New-Englander, 7, 169.
  St. Peter, A. D. 42. Ends       N. Brit. Rev., 11, 135.
  with Pius IX., 1846.

                       POPE WHO CROWNED NAPOLEON.

Pius VII., at Notre Dame, in      For. Quart. Rev., 20, 54.
  Paris, Dec. 2, 1804.

                        POPE WHO CROWNED PEPIN.

Probably Pepin le Bref is meant.
  But he was not crowned by
  a Pope. Crowned by Archbishop
  Boniface of Mayence,
  at the advice of Pope Zachary.
  _b_. @ 715. _d_. 768.

                          REPUBLIC OF VENICE.

452 to 1815. St. Real's History.       Quart. Rev. 31, 420.
  Otway's Tragedy, Venice Preserved.   Month. Rev., 90, 525.
  Hazlitt's Hist, of Venice.           West. Rev., 23, 38.
  Ruskin's Stones of Venice.

                         MISSIONARIES IN KENT.

                                       Dublin Univ. Mag., 21, 212.


There are two Augustines. This
  is St. Austin, _b_. in 5th century,
  _d_. 604-614.
Southey's Book of Church.
Sharon Turner's Anglo-Saxons.
Wm. of Malmesbury.
Bede's Ecc. History.

                            SAXON IN BRITAIN.

Turner as above.                       Edin. Rev., 89, 79.
Ang.-Saxon Chronicle.                  Quart. Rev., 7, 92.
Six old Eng. Chronicles.               Eclect. Rev., 25, 669.

                         FRANK PASSED THE RHINE.

Well established on west side,         For. Quart. Rev., 17, 139.
  at the beginning of 5th century.

                       GREEK ELOQUENCE AT ANTIOCH.

Muller's Antiquitates Antiochianæ      Greek Orators. Ed. Rev., 36, 62.

                              IDOLS IN MECCA.

Burckhardt's Travels.
Burton's Travels.

                                NEW ZEALAND.

3 islands, as large as Italy.         N. Am. Rev., 18, 328.
  Discovered, 1642; taken by Cook
  for England, 1769.
Gov. sent out, 1838.                  West. Rev., 45, 133.
Thomson's story of N. Z.              Edin. Rev., 91, 231; 56, 333.
Cook's Voyages.                       N. Brit. Rev., 16, 176.
Sir G. Gray's Poems, &c. of           Living Age.

                               LONDON BRIDGE.

5 elliptical arches. "Presents
  an aspect unequalled for interest
  and animation."

                                ST. PAUL'S.

Built in thirty years between
 1675 and 1705, by Christ.

Now I am by no means going to leave you to the reading of cyclopædias.
The vice of cyclopædias is that they are dull. What is done for this
passage of Macaulay in the lists above is only preliminary. It could be
easily done in three hours' time, if you went carefully to work. And when
you have done it, you have taught yourself a good deal about your own
knowledge and your own ignorance,--about what you should read and what
you should not attempt. So far it fits you for selecting your own course
of reading.

I have arranged this only by way of illustration. I do not mean that I
think these a particularly interesting or particularly important series of
subjects. I do mean, however, to show you that the moment you will sift
any book or any series of subjects, you will be finding out where your
ignorance is, and what you want to know.

Supposing you belong to the fortunate half of people who know what they
need, I should advise you to begin in just the same way.

For instance, Walter, to whom I alluded above, wants to know about
_Fly-Fishing_. This is the way his list looks.


    CYCLOPEDIA.                         POOLE'S INDEX.

(For instance)                      Quart. Rev., 69, 121; 37, 345.
W. Scott, Redgauntlet.              Edin. Rev., 78, 46, or 87; 93,
                                    174, or 340.

Dr. Davy's Researches, 1839.        Am. Whig Rev., 6, 490.
Cuvier and Valenciennes, Hist.      N. Brit. Rev., 11, 32, or 95; I,
  Naturelle des Poissons, Vol.        326; 8, 160; or Liv. Age, 2,
  XXI.                                291; 17, I.
                                    Blackwood, 51, 296.
Richardson's Fauna Bor. Amer.       Quart. Rev., 67, 98, or 332; 69,
                                    Blackwood, 10, 249; 49, 302;
De Kay, Zoölogy of N. Y.              21, 815; 24, 248; 35, 775;
Agassiz, Lake Superior.               38, 119; 63, 673; 5, 123; 5,
                                      281; 7, 137.
                                    Fraser, 42, 136.

See also,

  Izaak Walton, Compleat Angler. (Walton and Cotton first appeared, 1750.)
  Humphrey Day's Salmonia, or The Days of Fly-Fishing,
  Blakey, History of Angling Literature.
  Oppianus, De Venatione, Piscatione et Aucupio. (Halieutica translated.)
    Jones's English translation was published in Oxford, 1722.
  Bronner, Fischergedichte und Erzahlungen (Fishermen's Songs and Stories).
  Norris, T., American Angler's Book.
  Zouch, Life of Iz. Walton.
  Salmon Fisheries. Parliamentary Reports. Annual.
  "Blackwood's Magazine, an important landmark in English angling
    literature." See Noctes Ambrosianæ.
  H. W. Beecher, N. Y. Independent, 1853.
  In the New York edition of Walton and Cotton is a list of books on
    Angling, which Blakey enlarges. His list contains four hundred and
    fifty titles.
  American Angler's Guide, 1849.
  Storer, D. H., Fishes of Massachusetts.
  Storer, D. H., Fishes of N. America.
  Girard, Fresh-Water Fishes of N. America (Smithsonian
  Contributions, Vol. III.).
  Richard Penn, Maxims and Hints for an Angler, and Miseries of Fishing,
  James Wilson, The Rod and the Gun, 1840.
  Herbert, Frank Forester's Fish of N. America.
  Yarrel's British Fishes.
  The same, on the Growth of Salmon.
  Boy's Own Book.

Please to observe, now, that nobody is obliged to read up all the
authorities that we have lighted on. What the lists mean is this;--that
you have made the inquiry for "a sermon book and another book," and you
are now thus far on your way toward an answer. These are the first answers
that come to hand. Work on and you will have more. I cannot pretend to
give that answer for any one of you,--far less for all those who would be
likely to be interested in all the subjects which are named here. But with
such clews as are given above, you will soon find your ways into the
different parts that interest you of our great picnic grove.

Remember, however, that there are no royal roads. The difference between a
well-educated person and one not well educated is, that the first knows
how to find what he needs, and the other does not. It is not so much that
the first is better informed on details than the second, though he
probably is. But his power to collect the details at short notice is
vastly greater than is that of the uneducated or unlearned man.

In different homes, the resources at command are so different that I must
not try to advise much as to your next step beyond the lists above. There
are many good catalogues of books, with indexes to subjects. In the
Congressional Library, my friend Mr. Vinton is preparing a magnificent
"Index of Subjects," which will be of great use to the whole nation. In
Harvard College Library they have a manuscript catalogue referring to the
subjects described in the books of that collection. The "Cross-References"
of the Astor Catalogue, and of the Boston Library Catalogue, are
invaluable to all readers, young or old. Your teacher at school can help
you in nothing more than in directing you to the books you need on any
subject. Do not go and say, "Miss Winstanley, or Miss Parsons, I want a
nice book"; but have sense enough to know what you want it to be about.
Be able to say,--"Miss Parsons, I should like to know about heraldry," or
"about butterflies," or "about water-color painting," or "about Robert
Browning," or "about the Mysteries of Udolpho." Miss Parsons will tell you
what to read. And she will be very glad to tell you. Or if you are not at
school, this very thing among others is what the minister is for. Do not
be frightened. He will be very glad to see you. Go round to his house, not
on Saturday, but at the time he receives guests, and say to him: "Mr.
Ingham, we girls have made quite a collection of old porcelain, and we
want to know more about it. Will you be kind enough to tell us where we
can find anything about porcelain. We have read Miss Edgeworth's 'Prussian
Vase' and we have read 'Palissy the Potter,' and we should like to know
more about Sêvres, and Dresden, and Palissy." Ingham will be delighted,
and in a fortnight, if you will go to work, you will know more about what
you ask for than any one person knows in America.

And I do not mean that all your reading is to be digging or hard work. I
can show that I do not, by supposing that we carry out the plan of the
list above,--on any one of its details, and write down the books which
that detail suggests to us. Perhaps VENICE has seemed to you the most
interesting head of these which we have named. If we follow that up only
in the references given above, we shall find our book list for Venice,
just as it comes, in no order but that of accident, is:--

  St. Real, Relation des Espagnols contre Venise.
  Otway's Venice Preserved.
  Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.
  Howells's Venetian Life.
  Blondus. De Origine Venetorum.
  Muratori's Annals.
  Ruskin's Stones of Venice.
  D'Israeli's Contarini Fleming.
  Contarina, Della Republica di Venetia.
  Flagg, Venice from 1797 to 1849.
  Crassus, De Republica Veneta.
  Jarmot, De Republica Veneta.
  Voltaire's General History.
  Sismondi's History of Italy.
  Lord Byron's Letters.
  Sketches of Venetian History, Fam. Library, 26, 27.
  Venetian History, Hazlitt.
  Dandolo, G. La Caduta della Republica di Venezia (The Fall of the
    Republic of Venice).
  Ridolfi, C., Lives of the Venetian Painters.
  Monagas, J. T., Late Events in Venice.
  Delavigne, Marino Faliero, a Historical Drama.
  Lord Byron, The same.
  Smedley's Sketches from Venetian History.
  Daru, Hist. de la Republique de Venise.

So much for the way in which to choose your books. As to the choice, you
will make it, not I. If you are a goose, cackling a great deal, silly at
heart and wholly indifferent about to-morrow, you will choose just what
you call the interesting titles. If you are a girl of sense, or a boy of
sense, you will choose, when you have made your list, at least two books,
determined to master them. You will choose one on the side of information,
and one for the purpose of amusement, on the side of fancy. If you choose
in "_Venice_" the "Merchant of Venice," you will not add to it "Venice
Preserved," but you will add to it, say the Venetian chapters of
"Sismondi's Italy." You will read every day; and you will divide your
reading time into the two departments,--you will read for fact and you
will read for fancy. Roots must have leaves, you know, and leaves must
have roots. Bodies must have spirits, and, for this world at least,
spirits must have bodies. Fact must be lighted by fancy, and fancy must be
balanced by fact. Making this the principle of your selection, you may,
nay, you must, select for yourselves your books. And in my next chapter I
will do my best to teach you


Chapter VI.

How To Read. II.

Liston tells a story of a nice old lady--I think the foster-sister of the
godmother of his brother-in-law's aunt--who came to make them a visit in
the country. The first day after she arrived proved to be much such a day
as this is,--much such a day as the first of a visit in the country is
apt to be,--a heavy pelting north-easter, when it is impossible to go
out, and every one is thrown on his own resources in-doors. The different
ladies under Mrs. Liston's hospitable roof gathered themselves to their
various occupations, and some one asked old Mrs. Dubbadoe if she would
not like to read.

She said she should.

"What shall I bring you from the library?" said Miss Ellen. "Do not
trouble yourself to go up stairs."

"My dear Ellen, I should like the same book I had last year when I was
here, it was a very nice book, and I was very much interested in it."

"Certainly," said Miss Ellen; "what was it? I will bring it at once."

"I do not remember its name, my dear; your mother brought it to me; I
think she would know."

But, unfortunately, Mrs. Liston, when applied to, had forgotten.

"Was it a novel, Mrs. Dubbadoe?"

"I can't remember that,--my memory is not as good as it was, my dear,--but
it was a very interesting book."

"Do you remember whether it had plates? Was it one of the books of birds,
or of natural history?"

"No, dear, I can't tell you about that. But, Ellen, you will find it, I
know. The color of the cover was the color of the top of the baluster!"

So Ellen went. She has a good eye for color, and as she ran up stairs she
took the shade of the baluster in her eye, matched it perfectly as she ran
along the books in the library with the Russia half-binding of the
coveted volume, and brought that in triumph to Mrs. Dubbadoe. It proved to
be the right book. Mrs. Dubbadoe found in it the piece of corn-colored
worsted she had left for a mark the year before, so she was able to go on
where she had stopped then.

Liston tells this story to trump one of mine about a schoolmate of ours,
who was explaining to me about his theological studies. I asked him what
he had been reading.

"O, a capital book; King lent it to me; I will ask him to lend it to you."

I said I would ask King for the book, if he would tell me who was
the author.

"I do not remember his name. I had not known his name before. But that
made no difference. It is a capital book. King told me I should find it
so, and I did; I made a real study of it; copied a good deal from it
before I returned it."

I asked whether it was a book of natural theology.

"I don't know as you would call it natural theology. Perhaps it was. You
had better see it yourself. Tell King it was the book he lent me."

I was a little persistent, and asked if it were a book of biography.

"Well, I do not know as I should say it was a book of biography. Perhaps
you would say so. I do not remember that there was much biography in it.
But it was an excellent book. King had read it himself, and I found it all
he said it was."

I asked if it was critical,--if it explained Scripture.

"Perhaps it did. I should not like to say whether it did or not. You can
find that out yourself if you read it. But it is a very interesting book
and a very valuable book. King said so, and I found it was so. You had
better read it, and I know King can tell you what it is."

Now in these two stories is a very good illustration of the way in which a
great many people read. The notion comes into people's lives that the mere
process of reading is itself virtuous. Because young men who read instead
of gamble are known to be "steadier" than the gamblers, and because
children who read on Sunday make less noise and general row than those who
will play tag in the neighbors' front-yards, there has grown up this
notion, that to read is in itself one of the virtuous acts. Some people,
if they told the truth, when counting up the seven virtues, would count
them as Purity, Temperance, Meekness, Frugality, Honesty, Courage, and
Reading. The consequence is that there are unnumbered people who read as
Mrs. Dubbadoe did or as Lysimachus did, without the slightest knowledge of
what the books have contained.

My dear Dollie, Pollie, Sallie, Marthie, or any other of my young friends
whose names end in _ie_ who have favored me by reading thus far, the
chances are three out of four that I could take the last novel but three
that you read, change the scene from England to France, change the time
from now to the seventeenth century, make the men swear by St. Denis,
instead of talking modern slang, name the women Jacqueline and Marguerite,
instead of Maud and Blanche, and, if Harpers would print it, as I dare say
they would if the novel was good, you would read it through without one
suspicion that you had read the same book before.

So you see that it is not certain that you know how to read, even if you
took the highest prize for reading in the Amplian class of Ingham
University at the last exhibition. You may pronounce all the words well,
and have all the rising inflections right, and none of the falling ones
wrong, and yet not know how to read so that your reading shall be of any
permanent use to you.

For what is the use of reading if you forget it all the next day?

"But, my dear Mr. Hale," says as good a girl as Laura, "how am I going to
help myself? What I remember I remember, and what I do not remember I do
not. I should be very glad to remember all the books I have read, and all
that is in them; but if I can't, I can't, and there is the end of it."

No! my dear Laura, that is not the end of it. And that is the reason this
paper is written. A child of God can, before the end comes, do anything
she chooses to, with such help as he is willing to give her; and he has
been kind enough so to make and so to train you that you can train your
memory to remember and to recall the useful or the pleasant things you
meet in your reading. Do you know, Laura, that I have here a note you
wrote when you were eight years old? It is as badly written as any note I
ever saw. There are also twenty words in it spelled wrong. Suppose you had
said then, "If I can't, I can't, and there's an end of it." You never
would have written me in the lady-like, manly handwriting you write in
to-day, spelling rightly as a matter of mere feeling and of course, so
that you are annoyed now that I should say that every word is spelled
correctly. Will you think, dear Laura, what a tremendous strain on memory
is involved in all this? Will you remember that you and Miss Sears and
Miss Winstanley, and your mother, most of all, have trained your memory
till it can work these marvels? All you have to do now in your reading is
to carry such training forward, and you can bring about such a power of
classification and of retention that you shall be mistress of the books
you have read for most substantial purposes. To read with such results is
reading indeed. And when I say I want to give some hints how to read, it
is for reading with that view.

When Harry and Lucy were on their journey to the sea-side, they fell to
discussing whether they had rather have the gift of remembering all they
read, or of once knowing everything, and then taking their chances for
recollecting it when they wanted it. Lucy, who had a quick memory, was
willing to take her chance. But Harry, who was more methodical, hated to
lose anything he had once learned, and he thought he had rather have the
good fairy give him the gift of recollecting all he had once learned. For
my part, I quite agree with Harry. There are a great many things that I
have no desire to know. I do not want to know in what words the King of
Ashantee says, "Cut off the heads of those women." I do not want to know
whether a centipede really has ninety-six legs or one hundred and four. I
never did know. I never shall. I have no occasion to know. And I am glad
not to have my mind lumbered up with the unnecessary information. On the
other hand, that which I have once learned or read does in some way or
other belong to my personal life. I am very glad if I can reproduce that
in any way, and I am much obliged to anybody who will help me.

For reading, then, the first rules, I think, are: Do not read too much at
a time; stop when you are tired; and, in whatever way, make some review of
what you read, even as you go along.

Capel Lofft says, in quite an interesting book, which plays about the
surface of things without going very deep, which he calls
_Self-Formation_, [Footnote: Self-Formation. Crosby and Nichols. Boston.
1845.] that his whole life was changed, and indeed saved, when he learned
that he must turn back at the end of each sentence, ask himself what it
meant, if he believed it or disbelieved it, and, so to speak, that he must
pack it away as part of his mental furniture before he took in another
sentence. That is just as a dentist jams one little bit of gold-foil home,
and then another, and then another. He does not put one large wad on the
hollow tooth, and then crowd it all in at once. Capel Lofft says that
this _reflection_--going forward as a serpent does, by a series of
backward bends over the line--will make a dull book entertaining, and will
make the reader master of every book he reads, through all time. For my
part, I think this is cutting it rather fine, this chopping the book up
into separate bits. I had rather read as one of my wisest counsellors did;
he read, say a page, or a paragraph of a page or two, more or less; then
he would look across at the wall, and consider the author's statement, and
fix it on his mind, and then read on. I do not do this, however. I read
half an hour or an hour, till I am ready, perhaps, to put the book by.
Then I examine myself. What has this amounted to? What does he say? What
does he prove? Does he prove it? What is there new in it? Where did he get
it? If it is necessary in such an examination you can go back over the
passage, correct your first impression, if it is wrong, find out the
meaning that the writer has carelessly concealed, and such a process makes
it certain that you yourself will remember his thought or his statement.

I can remember, I think, everything I saw in Europe, which was worth
seeing, if I saw it twice. But there was many a wonder which I was taken
to see in the whirl of sight-seeing, of which I have no memory, and of
which I cannot force any recollection. I remember that at Malines--what we
call Mechlin--our train stopped nearly an hour. At the station a crowd of
guides were shouting that there was time to go and see Rubens's picture
of----, at the church of----. This seemed to us a droll contrast to the
cry at our stations, "Fifteen minutes for refreshments!" It offered such
aesthetic refreshment in place of carnal oysters, that purely for the
frolic we went to see. We were hurried across some sort of square into
the church, saw the picture, admired it, came away, and forgot it,--clear
and clean forgot it! My dear Laura, I do not know what it was about any
more than you do. But if I had gone to that church the next day, and had
seen it again, I should have fixed it forever on my memory. Moral: Renew
your acquaintance with whatever you want to remember. I think Ingham says
somewhere that it is the slight difference between the two stereoscopic
pictures which gives to them, when one overlies the other, their relief
and distinctness. If he does not say it, I will say it for him now.

I think it makes no difference how you make this mental review of the
author, but I do think it essential that, as you pass from one division of
his work to another, you should make it somehow.

Another good rule for memory is indispensable, I think,--namely, to read
with a pencil in hand. If the book is your own, you had better make what I
may call your own index to it on the hard white page which lines the cover
at the end. That is, you can write down there just a hint of the things
you will be apt to like to see again, noting the page on which they are.
If the book is not your own, do this on a little slip of paper, which you
may keep separately. These memoranda will be, of course, of all sorts of
things. Thus they will be facts which you want to know, or funny stories
which you think will amuse some one, or opinions which you may have a
doubt about. Suppose you had got hold of that very rare book, "Veragas's
History of the Pacific Ocean and its Shores"; here might be your private
index at the end of the first volume:--

Percentage of salt in water, 11: Gov. Revillagigedo, 19: Caciques and
potatoes, 23: Lime water for scurvy, 29. Enata, Kanaka, ἀνήρ ἀνά? 42:
Magelhaens _vs_. Wilkes, 57: Coral insects, 20: Gigantic ferns, 84,
&c., &c., &c.

Very likely you may never need one of these references; but if you do, it
is certain that you will have no time to waste in hunting for them. Make
your memorandum, and you are sure.

Bear in mind all along that each book will suggest other books which you
are to read sooner or later. In your memoranda note with care the authors
who are referred to of whom you know little or nothing, if you think you
should like to know more, or ought to know more. Do not neglect this last
condition, however. You do not make the memorandum to show it at the
Philogabblian; you make it for yourself; and it means that you yourself
need this additional information.

Whether to copy much from books or not? That is a question,--and the
answer is,--"That depends." If you have but few books, and much time and
paper and ink; and if you are likely to have fewer books, why, nothing is
nicer and better than to make for use in later life good extract-books to
your own taste, and for your own purposes. But if you own your books, or
are likely to have them at command, time is short, and the time spent in
copying would probably be better spent in reading. There are some very
diffusive books, difficult because diffusive, of which it is well to write
close digests, if you are really studying them. When we read John Locke,
for instance, in college, we had to make abstracts, and we used to stint
ourselves to a line for one of his chatty sections. That was good practice
for writing, and we remember what was in the sections to this hour. If you
copy, make a first-rate index to your extracts. They sell books prepared
for the purpose, but you may just as well make your own.

You see I am not contemplating any very rapid or slap-dash work. You may
put that on your novels, or books of amusement, if you choose, and I will
not be very cross about it; but for the books of improvement, I want you
to improve by reading them. Do not "gobble" them up so that five years
hence you shall not know whether you have read them or not. What I advise
seems slow to you, but if you will, any of you, make or find two hours a
day to read in this fashion, you will be one day accomplished men and
women. Very few professional men, known to me, get so much time as that
for careful and systematic reading. If any boy or girl wants really to
know what comes of such reading, I wish he would read the life of my
friend George Livermore, which our friend Charles Deane has just now
written for the Historical Society of Massachusetts. There was a young
man, who when he was a boy in a store began his systematic reading. He
never left active and laborious business; but when he died, he was one of
the accomplished historical scholars of America. He had no superior in his
special lines of study; he was a recognized authority and leader among
men who had given their lives to scholarship.

I have not room to copy it here, but I wish any of you would turn to a
letter of Frederick Robertson's, near the end of the second volume of his
letters, where he speaks of this very matter. He says he read, when he was
at Oxford, but sixteen books with his tutors. But he read them so that
they became a part of himself, "as the iron enters a man's blood." And
they were books by sixteen of the men who have been leaders of the world.
No bad thing, dear Stephen, to have in your blood and brain and bone the
vitalizing element that was in the lives of such men.

I need not ask you to look forward so far as to the end of a life as long
as Mr. George Livermore's, and as successful. Without asking that, I will
say again, what I have implied already, that any person who will take any
special subject of detail, and in a well-provided library will work
steadily on that little subject for a fortnight, will at the end of the
fortnight probably know more of that detail than anybody in the country
knows. If you will study by subjects for the truth, you have the
satisfaction of knowing that the ground is soon very nearly all your own.

I do not pretend that books are everything. I may have occasion some day
to teach some of you "How to Observe," and then I shall say some very-hard
things about people who keep their books so close before their eyes that
they cannot see God's world, nor their fellow-men and women. But books
rightly used are society. Good books are the best society; better than is
possible without them, in any one place, or in any one time. To know how
to use them wisely and well is to know how to make Shakespeare and Milton
and Theodore Hook and Thomas Hood step out from the side of your room, at
your will, sit down at your fire, and talk with you for an hour. I have no
such society at hand, as I write these words, except by such magic. Have
you in your log-cabin in No. 7?

Chapter VII.

How To Go Into Society.

Some boys and girls are born so that they enjoy society, and all the forms
of society, from the beginning. The passion they have for it takes them
right through all the formalities and stiffness of morning calls, evening
parties, visits on strangers, and the like, and they have no difficulty
about the duties involved in these things. I do not write for them, and
there is no need, at all, of their reading this paper.

There are other boys and girls who look with half horror and half disgust
at all such machinery of society. They have been well brought up, in
intelligent, civilized, happy homes. They have their own varied and
regular occupations, and it breaks these all up, when they have to go to
the birthday party at the Glascocks', or to spend the evening with the
young lady from Vincennes who is visiting Mrs. Vandermeyer.

When they have grown older, it happens, very likely, that such boys and
girls have to leave home, and establish themselves at one or another new
home, where more is expected of them in a social way. Here is Stephen, who
has gone through the High School, and has now gone over to New Altona to
be the second teller in the Third National Bank there. Stephen's father
was in college with Mr. Brannan, who was quite a leading man in New
Altona. Madam Chenevard is a sister of Mrs. Schuyler, with whom Stephen's
mother worked five years on the Sanitary Commission. All the bank officers
are kind to Stephen, and ask him to come to their houses, and he, who is
one of these young folks whom I have been describing, who knows how to be
happy at home, but does not know if he is entertaining or in any way
agreeable in other people's homes, really finds that the greatest hardship
of his new life consists in the hospitalities with which all these kind
people welcome him.

Here is a part of a letter from Stephen to me,--he writes pretty much
everything to me: "...Mrs. Judge Tolman has invited me to another of
her evening parties. Everybody says they are very pleasant, and I can see
that they are to people who are not sticks and oafs. But I am a stick and
an oaf. I do not like society, and I never did. So I shall decline Mrs.
Tolman's invitation; for I have determined to go to no more parties here,
but to devote my evenings to reading."

Now this is not snobbery or goodyism on Stephen's part. He is not writing
a make-believe letter, to deceive me as to the way in which he is spending
his time. He really had rather occupy his evening in reading than in going
to Mrs. Tolman's party,--or to Mrs. Anybody's party,--and, at the present
moment, he really thinks he never shall go to any parties again. Just so
two little girls part from each other on the sidewalk, saying, "I never
will speak to you again as long as I live." Only Stephen is in no sort
angry with Mrs. Tolman or Mrs. Brannan or Mrs. Chenevard. He only thinks
that their way is one way, and his way is another. His determination is
the same as Tom's was, which I described in Chapter II. But where Tom
thought his failure was want of talking power, Steve really thinks that he
hates society.

It is for boys and girls like Stephen, who think they are "sticks and
oafs," and that they cannot go into society, that this paper is written.

You need not get up from your seats and come and stand in a line for me to
talk to you,--tallest at the right, shortest at the left, as if you were
at dancing-school, facing M. Labbassé. I can talk to you just as well
where you are sitting; and, as Obed Clapp said to me once, I know very
well what you are going to say, before you say it. Dear children, I have
had it said to me four-score and ten times by forty-six boys and forty-six
girls who were just as dull and just as bright as you are,--as like you,
indeed, as two pins.

There is Dunster,--Horace Punster,--at this moment the favorite talker in
society in Washington, as indeed he is on the floor of the House of
Representatives. Ask, the next time you are at Washington, how many
dinner-parties are put off till a day can be found at which Dunster can
be present. Now I remember very well, how, a year or two after Dunster
graduated, he and Messer, who is now Lieutenant-Governor of Labrador, and
some one whom I will not name, were sitting on the shore of the
Cattaraugus Lake, rubbing themselves dry after their swim. And Dunster
said he was not going to any more parties. Mrs. Judge Park had asked him,
because she loved his sister, but she did not care for him a draw, and he
did not know the Cattaraugus people, and he was afraid of the girls, who
knew a great deal more than he did, and so he was "no good" to anybody,
and he would not go any longer. He would stay at home and read Plato in
the original. Messer wondered at all this; he enjoyed Mrs. Judge Park's
parties, and Mrs. Dr. Holland's teas, and he could not see why as bright a
fellow as Dunster should not enjoy them. "But I tell you," said Dunster,
"that I do not enjoy them; and, what is more, I tell you that these people
do not want me to come. They ask me because they like my sister, as I
said, or my father, or my mother."

Then some one else, who was there, whom I do not name, who was at least
two years older than these young men, and so was qualified to advise them,
addressed them thus:--

"You talk like children. Listen. It is of no consequence whether you like
to go to these places or do not like to go. None of us were sent to
Cattaraugus to do what we like to do. We were sent here to do what we can
to make this place cheerful, spirited, and alive,--a part of the kingdom
of heaven. Now if everybody in Cattaraugus sulked off to read Plato, or to
read 'The Three Guardsmen,' Cattaraugus would go to the dogs very fast, in
its general sulkiness. There must be intimate social order, and this is
the method provided. Therefore, first, we must all of us go to these
parties, whether we want to or not; because we are in the world, not to do
what we like to do, but what the world needs.

"Second," said this unknown some one, "nothing is more snobbish than this
talk about Mrs. Park's wanting us or not wanting us. It simply shows that
we are thinking of ourselves a good deal more than she is. What Mrs. Park
wants is as many men at her party as she has women. She has made her list
so as to balance them. As the result of that list, she has said she wanted
me. Therefore I am going. Perhaps she does want me. If she does, I shall
oblige her. Perhaps she does not want me. If she does not, I shall punish
her, if I go, for telling what is not true; and I shall go cheered and
buoyed up by that reflection. Anyway I go, not because I want to or do not
want to, but because I am asked; and in a world of mutual relationships it
is one of the things that I must do."

No one replied to this address, but they all three put on their
dress-coats and went. Dunster went to every party in Cattaraugus that
winter, and, as I have said, has since shown himself a most brilliant and
successful leader of society.

The truth is to be found in this little sermon. Take society as you find
it in the place where you live. Do not set yourself up, at seventeen years
old, as being so much more virtuous or grand or learned than the young
people round you, or the old people round you, that you cannot associate
with them on the accustomed terms of the place. Then you are free from the
first difficulty of young people who have trouble in society; for you will
not be "stuck up," to use a very happy phrase of your own age. When
anybody, in good faith, asks you to a party, and you have no
pre-engagement or other duty, do not ask whether these people are above
you or below you, whether they know more or know less than you do, least
of all ask why they invited you,--but simply go. It is not of much
importance whether, on that particular occasion, you have what you call a
good time or do not have it. But it is of importance that you shall not
think yourself a person of more consequence in the community than others,
and that you shall easily and kindly adapt yourself to the social life of
the people among whom you are.

This is substantially what I have written to Stephen about what he is to
do at New Altona.

Now, as for enjoying yourself when you have come to the party,--for I wish
you to understand that, though I have compelled you to go, I am not in
the least cross about it,--but I want you to have what you yourselves call
a very good time when you come there. O dear, I can remember perfectly the
first formal evening party at which I had "a good time." Before that I had
always hated to go to parties, and since that I have always liked to go. I
am sorry to say I cannot tell you at whose house it was. That is
ungrateful in me. But I could tell you just how the pillars looked between
which the sliding doors ran, for I was standing by one of them when my
eyes were opened, as the Orientals say, and I received great light. I had
been asked to this party, as I supposed and as I still suppose, by some
people who wanted my brother and sister to come, and thought it would not
be kind to ask them without asking me. I did not know five people in the
room. It was in a college town where there were five gentlemen for every
lady, so that I could get nobody to dance with me of the people I did
know. So it was that I stood sadly by this pillar, and said to myself,
"You were a fool to come here where nobody wants you, and where you did
not want to come; and you look like a fool standing by this pillar with
nobody to dance with and nobody to talk to." At this moment, and as if to
enlighten the cloud in which I was, the revelation flashed upon me, which
has ever since set me all right in such matters. Expressed in words, it
would be stated thus: "You are a much greater fool if you suppose that
anybody in this room knows or cares where you are standing or where you
are not standing. They are attending to their affairs and you had best
attend to yours, quite indifferent as to what they think of you." In this
reflection I took immense comfort, and it has carried me through every
form of social encounter from that day to this day. I don't remember in
the least what I did, whether I looked at the portfolios of
pictures,--which for some reason young people think a very poky thing to
do, but which I like to do,--whether I buttoned some fellow-student who
was less at ease than I, or whether I talked to some nice old lady who had
seen with her own eyes half the history of the world which is worth
knowing. I only know that, after I found out that nobody else at the party
was looking at me or was caring for me, I began to enjoy it as thoroughly
as I enjoyed staying at home.

Not long after I read this in Sartor Resartus, which was a great comfort
to me: "What Act of Parliament was there that you should be happy? Make up
your mind that you deserve to be hanged, as is most likely, and you will
take it as a favor that you are hanged in silk, and not in hemp." Of which
the application in this particular case is this: that if Mrs. Park or Mrs.
Tolman are kind enough to open their beautiful houses for me, to fill them
with beautiful flowers, to provide a band of music, to have ready their
books of prints and their foreign photographs, to light up the walks in
the garden and the greenhouse, and to provide a delicious supper for my
entertainment, and then ask, I will say, only one person whom I want to
see, is it not very ungracious, very selfish, and very snobbish for me to
refuse to take what is, because of something which is not,--because Ellen
is not there or George is not? What Act of Parliament is there that I
should have everything in my own way?

As it is with most things, then, the rule for going into society is not to
have any rule at all. Go unconsciously; or, as St. Paul puts it, "Do not
think of yourself more highly than you ought to think." Everything but
conceit can be forgiven to a young person in society. St. Paul, by the
way, high-toned gentleman as he was, is a very thorough guide in such
affairs, as he is in most others. If you will get the marrow out of those
little scraps at the end of his letters, you will not need any hand-books
of etiquette.

As I read this over, to send it to the printer, I recollect that, in one
of the nicest sets of girls I ever knew, they called the thirteenth
chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians the "society chapter."
Read it over, and see how well it fits, the next time Maud has been
disagreeable, or you have been provoked yourself in the "German."

"The gentleman is quiet," says Mr. Emerson, whose essay on society you
will read with profit, "the lady is serene." Bearing this in mind, you
will not really expect, when you go to the dance at Mrs. Pollexfen's,
that while you are standing in the library explaining to Mr. Sumner what
he does not understand about the Alabama Claims, watching at the same
time with jealous eye the fair form of Sybil as she is waltzing in that
hated Clifford's arms,--you will not, I say, really expect that her light
dress will be wafted into the gas-light over her head, she be surrounded
with a lambent flame, Clifford basely abandon her, while she cries, "O
Ferdinand, Ferdinand!"--nor that you, leaving Mr. Sumner, seizing Mrs.
General Grant's camel's hair shawl, rushing down the ball-room, will wrap
it around Sybil's uninjured form, and receive then and there the thanks
of her father and mother, and their pressing request for your immediate
union in marriage. Such things do not happen outside the Saturday
newspapers, and it is a great deal better that they do not. "The
gentleman is quiet and the lady is serene." In my own private judgment,
the best thing you can do at any party is the particular thing which your
host or hostess expected you to do when she made the party. If it is a
whist party, you had better play whist, if you can. If it is a dancing
party, you had better dance, if you can. If it is a music party, you had
better play or sing, if you can. If it is a croquet party, join in the
croquet, if you can. When at Mrs. Thorndike's grand party, Mrs. Colonel
Goffe, at seventy-seven, told old Rufus Putnam, who was five years her
senior, that her dancing days were over, he said to her, "Well, it seems
to be the amusement provided for the occasion." I think there is a good
deal in that. At all events, do not separate yourself from the rest as if
you were too old or too young, too wise or too foolish, or had not been
enough introduced, or were in any sort of different clay from the rest of
the pottery.

And now I will not undertake any specific directions for behavior. You
know I hate them all. I will only repeat to you the advice which my
father, who was my best friend, gave me after the first evening call I
ever made. The call was on a gentleman whom both I and my father greatly
loved. I knew he would be pleased to hear that I had made the visit, and,
with some pride, I told him, being, as I calculate, thirteen years five
months and nineteen days old. He was pleased, very much pleased, and he
said so. "I am glad you made the call, it was a proper attention to Mr.
Palfrey, who is one of your true friends and mine. And now that you begin
to make calls, let me give you one piece of advice. Make them short. The
people who see you may be very glad to see you. But it is certain they
were occupied with something when you came, and it is certain, therefore,
that you have interrupted them."

I was a little dashed in the enthusiasm with which I had told of my first
visit. But the advice has been worth I cannot tell how much to me,--years
of life, and hundreds of friends.

Pelham's rule for a visit is, "Stay till you have made an agreeable
impression, and then leave immediately." A plausible rule, but dangerous.
What if one should not make an agreeable impression after all? Did not
Belch stay till near three in the morning? And when he went, because I
had dropped asleep, did I not think him more disagreeable than ever?

For all I can say, or anybody else can say, it will be the manner of some
people to give up meeting other people socially. I am very sorry for them,
but I cannot help it. All I can say is that they will be sorry before they
are done. I wish they would read Aesop's fable about the old man and his
sons and the bundle of rods. I wish they would find out definitely why God
gave them tongues and lips and ears. I wish they would take to heart the
folly of this constant struggle in which they live, against the whole law
of the being of a gregarious animal like man. What is it that Westerly
writes me, whose note comes to me from the mail just as I finish this
paper? "I do not look for much advance in the world until we can get
people out of their own self." And what do you hear me quoting to you all
the time,--which you can never deny,--but that "the human race is the
individual of which men and women are so many different members "? You
may kick against this law, but it is true.

It is the truth around which, like a crystal round its nucleus, all modern
civilization has taken order.

Chapter VIII.

How To Travel.

First, as to manner. You may travel on foot, on horseback, in a carriage
with horses, in a carriage with steam, or in a steamboat or ship, and also
in many other ways.

Of these, so far as mere outside circumstance goes, it is probable that
the travelling with horses in a canal-boat is the pleasantest of all,
granting that there is no crowd of passengers, and that the weather is
agreeable. But there are so few parts of the world where this is now
practicable, that we need not say much of it. The school-girls of this
generation may well long for those old halcyon days of Miss Portia
Lesley's School. In that ideal establishment the girls went to Washington
to study political economy in the winter. They went to Saratoga in July
and August to study the analytical processes of chemistry. There was also
a course there on the history of the Revolution. They went to Newport
alternate years in the same months, to study the Norse literature and
swimming. They went to the White Sulphur Springs and to Bath, to study the
history of chivalry as illustrated in the annual tournaments. They went to
Paris to study French, to Rome to study Latin, to Athens to study Greek.
In all parts of the world where they could travel by canals they did so.
While on the journeys they studied their arithmetic and other useful
matters, which had been passed by at the capitals. And while they were on
the canals they washed and ironed their clothes, so as to be ready for the
next stopping-place. You can do anything you choose on a canal.

Next to canal travelling, a journey on horseback is the pleasantest. It is
feasible for girls as well as boys, if they have proper escort and
superintendence. You see the country; you know every leaf and twig; you
are tired enough, and not too tired, when the day is done. When you are at
the end of each day's journey you find you have, all the way along, been
laying up a store of pleasant memories. You have a good appetite for
supper, and you sleep in one nap for the nine hours between nine at night
and six in the morning.

You might try this, Phillis,--you and Robert. I do not think your little
pony would do, but your uncle will lend you Throg for a fortnight. There
is nothing your uncle will not do for you, if you ask him the right way.
When Robert's next vacation comes, after he has been at home a week, he
will be glad enough to start. You had better go now and see your Aunt
Fanny about it. She is always up to anything. She and your Uncle John will
be only too glad of the excuse to do this thing again. They have not done
it since they and I and P. came down through the Dixville Notch all four
on a hand gallop, with the rain running in sheets off our waterproofs. Get
them to say they will go, and then hold them up to it.

For dress, you, Phillis, will want a regular bloomer to use when you are
scrambling over the mountains on foot. Indeed, on the White Mountains now,
the ladies best equipped ride up those steep pulls on men's saddles. For
that work this is much the safest. Have a simple skirt to button round
your waist while you are riding. It should be of waterproof,--the English
is the best. Besides this, have a short waterproof sack with a hood, which
you can put on easily if a shower comes. Be careful that it has a hood.
Any crevice between the head cover and the back cover which admits air or
wet to the neck is misery, if not fatal, in such showers as you are going
to ride through.

You want another skirt for the evening, and this and your tooth-brush and
linen must be put up tight and snug in two little bags. The old-fashioned
saddle-bags will do nicely, if you can find a pair in the garret. The
waterproof sack must be in another roll outside.

As for Robert, I shall tell him nothing about his dress. "A true gentleman
is always so dressed that he can mount and ride for his life." That was
the rule three hundred years ago, and I think it holds true now.

Do not try to ride too much in one day. At the start, in particular, take
care that you do not tire your horses or yourselves. For yourselves, very
likely ten miles will be enough for the first day. It is not distance you
are after, it is the enjoyment of every blade of grass, of every flying
bird, of every whiff of air, of every cloud that hangs upon the blue.

Walking is next best. The difficulty is about baggage and sleeping-places;
and then there has been this absurd theory, that girls cannot walk. But
they can. School-boys--trying to make immense distances--blister their
feet, strain their muscles, get disgusted, borrow money and ride home in
the stage. But this is all nonsense. Distance is not the object. Five
miles is as good as fifty. On the other hand, while the riding party
cannot well be larger than four, the more the merrier on the walking
party. It is true, that the fare is sometimes better where there are but
few. Any number of boys and girls, if they can coax some older persons to
go with them, who can supply sense and direction to the high spirits of
the juniors, may undertake such a journey. There are but few rules;
beyond them, each party may make its own.

First, never walk before breakfast. If you like, you may make two
breakfasts and take a mile or two between. But be sure to eat something
before you are on the road.

Second, do not walk much in the middle of the day. It is dusty and hot
then; and the landscape has lost its special glory. By ten o'clock you
ought to have found some camping-ground for the day; a nice brook running
through a grove,--a place to draw or paint or tell stories or read them or
write them; a place to make waterfalls and dams,--to sail chips or build
boats,--a place to make a fire and a cup of tea for the oldsters. Stay
here till four in the afternoon, and then push on in the two or three
hours which are left to the sleeping-place agreed upon. Four or five hours
on the road is all you want in each day. Even resolute idlers, as it is to
be hoped you all are on such occasions, can get eight miles a day out of
that,--and that is enough for a true walking party. Remember all along,
that you are not running a race with the railway train. If you were, you
would be beaten certainly; and the less you think you are the better. You
are travelling in a method of which the merit is that it is not fast, and
that you see every separate detail of the glory of the world. What a fool
you are, then, if you tire yourself to death, merely that you may say that
you did in ten hours what the locomotive would gladly have finished in
one, if by that effort you have lost exactly the enjoyment of nature and
society that you started for.

The perfection of undertakings in this line was Mrs. Merriam's famous
walking party in the Green Mountains, with the Wadsworth girls. Wadsworth
was not their name,--it was the name of her school. She chose eight of the
girls when vacation came, and told them they might get leave, if they
could, to join her in Brattleborough for this tramp. And she sent her own
invitation to the mothers and to as many brothers. Six of the girls came.
Clara Ingham was one of them, and she told me all about it. Margaret Tyler
and Etta were there. There were six brothers also, and Archie Muldair and
his wife, Fanny Muldair's mother. They two "tended out" in a buggy, but
did not do much walking. Mr. Merriam was with them, and, quite as a
surprise, they had Thurlessen, a nice old Swede, who had served in the
army, and had ever since been attached to that school as chore-man. He
blacked the girls' shoes, waited for them at concert, and sometimes, for a
slight bribe, bought almond candy for them in school hours, when they
could not possibly live till afternoon without a supply. The girls said
that the reason the war lasted so long was that Old Thurlessen was in the
army, and that nothing ever went quick when he was in it. I believe there
was something in this. Well, Old Thurlessen had a canvas-top wagon, in
which he carried five tents, five or six trunks, one or two pieces of
kitchen gear, his own self and Will Corcoran.

The girls and boys did not so much as know that Thurlessen was in the
party. That had all been kept a solemn secret. They did not know how
their trunks were going on, but started on foot in the morning from the
hotel, passed up that beautiful village street in Brattleborough, came
out through West Dummerston, and so along that lovely West River. It was
very easy to find a camp there, and when the sun came to be a little hot,
and they had all blown off a little of the steam of the morning, I think
they were all glad to come upon Mr. Muldair, sitting in the wagon waiting
for them. He explained to them that, if they would cross the fence and go
down to the river, they would find his wife had planted herself; and
there, sure enough, in a lovely little nook, round which the river swept,
with rocks and trees for shade, with shawls to lounge upon, and the water
to play with, they spent the day. Of course they made long excursions into
the woods and up and down the stream, but here was head-quarters.
Hard-boiled eggs from the haversacks, with bread and butter, furnished
forth the meal, and Mr. Muldair insisted on toasting some salt-pork over
the fire, and teaching the girls to like it sandwiched between crackers.
Well, at four o'clock everybody was ready to start again, and was willing
to walk briskly. And at six, what should they see but the American flag
flying, and Thurlessen's pretty little encampment of his five tents,
pitched in a horseshoe form, with his wagon, as a sort of commissary's
tent, just outside. Two tents were for the girls, two tents for the boys,
and the head-quarters tent for Mr. and Mrs. Merriam. And that night they
all learned the luxury and sweetness of sleeping upon beds of hemlock
branches. Thurlessen had supper all ready as soon as they were washed and
ready for it. And after supper they sat round the fire a little while
singing. But before nine o'clock every one of them was asleep.

So they fared up and down through those lovely valleys of the Green
Mountains, sending Thurlessen on about ten miles every day, to be ready
for them when night came. If it rained, of course they could put in to
some of those hospitable Vermont farmers' homes, or one of the inns in the
villages. But, on the whole, they had good weather, and boys and girls
always hoped that they might sleep out-doors.

These are, however, but the variations and amusements of travel. You and
I would find it hard to walk to Liverpool, if that happened to be the
expedition in hand or on foot. And in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred
you and I will have to adapt ourselves to the methods of travel which the
majority have agreed upon.

But for pleasure travel, in whatever form, much of what has been said
already applies. The best party is two, the next best four, the next best
one, and the worst three. Beyond four, except in walking parties, all are
impossible, unless they be members of one family under the command of a
father or mother. Command is essential when you pass four. All the members
of the party should have or should make a community of interests. If one
draws, all had best draw. If one likes to climb mountains, all had best
climb mountains. If one rises early, all had best rise early; and so on.
Do not tell me you cannot draw. It is quite time you did. You are your own
best teacher. And there is no time or place so fit for learning as when
you are sitting under the shade of a high rock on the side of White Face,
or looking off into the village street from the piazza of a hotel.

The party once determined on and the route, remember that the old
conditions of travel and the new conditions of most travel of to-day are
precisely opposite. For in old travel, as on horseback or on foot now, you
saw the country while you travelled. Many of your stopping-places were for
rest, or because night had fallen, and you could see nothing at night.
Under the old system, therefore, an intelligent traveller might keep in
motion from day to day, slowly, indeed, but seeing something all the time,
and learning what the country was through which he passed by talk with the
people. But in the new system, popularly called the improved system, he is
shut up with his party and a good many other parties in a tight box with
glass windows, and whirled on through dust if it be dusty, or rain if it
be rainy, under arrangements which make it impossible to converse with the
people of the country, and almost impossible to see what that country is.
There is a little conversation with the natives. But it relates mostly to
the price of pond-lilies or of crullers or of native diamonds. I once put
my head out of a window in Ashland, and, addressing a crowd of boys
promiscuously, called "John, John." John stepped forward, as I had felt
sure he would, though I had not before had the pleasure of his
acquaintance. I asked how his mother was, and how the other children were,
and he said they were very well. But he did not say anything else, and as
the train started at that moment I was not able to continue the
conversation, which was at the best, you see, conducted under
difficulties. All this makes it necessary that, in our modern travelling,
you select with particular care your places to rest, and, when you have
selected them, that you stay in them, at the least one day, that you may
rest, and that you may know something of the country you are passing. A
man or a strong woman may go from Boston to Chicago in a little more than
twenty-five hours. If he be going because he has to, it is best for him to
go in that way, because he is out of his misery the sooner. Just so it is
better to be beheaded than to be starved to death. But a party going from
Boston to Chicago purely on an expedition of pleasure, ought not to
advance more than a hundred miles a day, and might well spend twenty hours
out of every twenty-four at well-chosen stopping-places on the way. They
would avoid all large cities, which are for a short stay exactly alike and
equally uncomfortable; they would choose pleasant places for rest, and
thus when they arrived at Chicago they would have a real fund of happy,
pleasant memories.

Applying the same principle to travel in Europe, I am eager to correct a
mistake which many of you will be apt to make at the beginning,--
hot-blooded young Americans as you are, eager to "put through"
what you are at, even though it be the most exquisite of enjoyments, and
ignorant as you all are, till you are taught, of the possibilities of
happy life before you, if you will only let the luscious pulp of your
various bananas lie on your tongue and take all the good of it, instead of
bolting it as if it were nauseous medicine. Because you have but little
time in Europe, you will be anxious to see all you can. That is quite
right. Remember, then, that true wisdom is to stay three days in one
place, rather than to spend but one day in each of three. If you insist on
one day in Oxford, one in Birmingham, one in Bristol, why then there are
three inns or hotels to be hunted up, three packings and unpackings, three
sets of letters to be presented, three sets of streets to learn, and,
after it is all over, your memories of those three places will be merely
of the outside misery of travel. Give up two of them altogether, then.
Make yourself at home for the three days in whichever place of the three
best pleases you. Sleep till your nine hours are up every night. Breakfast
all together. Avail yourselves of your letters of introduction. See things
which are to be seen, or persons who are to be known, at the right times.
Above all, see twice whatever is worth seeing. Do not forget this
rule;--we remember what we see twice. It is that stereoscopic memory of
which I told you once before. We do not remember with anything like the
same reality or precision what we have only seen once. It is in some
slight appreciation of this great fundamental rule, that you stay three
days in any place which you really mean to be acquainted with, that Miss
Ferrier lays down her bright rule for a visit, that a visit ought "to
consist of three days,--the rest day, the drest day, and the pressed day."

And, lastly, dear friends,--for the most entertaining of discourses on the
most fascinating of themes must have a "lastly,"--lastly, be sure that you
know what you travel for. "Why, we travel to have a good time," says that
incorrigible Pauline Ingham, who will talk none but the Yankee language.
Dear Pauline, if you go about the world expecting to find that same "good
time" of yours ready-made, inspected, branded, stamped, jobbed by the
jobbers, retailed by the retailers, and ready for you to buy with your
spending-money, you will be sadly mistaken, though you have for
spending-money all that united health, high spirits, good-nature, and kind
heart of yours, and all papa's lessons of forgetting yesterday, leaving
to-morrow alone, and living with all your might to-day. It will never do,
Pauline, to have to walk up to the inn-keeper and say, "Please, we have
come for a good time, and where shall we find it?" Take care that you have
in reserve one object, I do not care much what it is. Be ready to press
plants, or be ready to collect minerals. Or be ready to wash in
water-colors, I do not care how poor they are. Or, in Europe, be ready to
inquire about the libraries, or the baby-nurseries, or the
art-collections, or the botanical gardens. Understand in your own mind
that there is something you can inquire for and be interested in, though
you be dumped out of a car at New Smithville. It may, perhaps, happen that
you do not for weeks or months revert to this reserved object of yours.
Then happiness may come; for, as you have found out already, I think,
_happiness_ is something which _happens_, and is not contrived. On this
theme you will find an excellent discourse in the beginning of Mr. Freeman
Clarke's "Eleven Weeks in Europe."

For directions for the detail of travel, there are none better than those
in the beginning of "Rollo in Europe." There is much wisdom in the
general directions to travellers in the prefaces to the old editions of
Murray. A young American will of course eliminate the purely English
necessities from both sides of those equations. There is a good article by
Dr. Bellows on the matter in the North American Review. And you yourself,
after you have been forty-eight hours in Europe, will feel certain that
you can write better directions than all the rest of us can, put together.

And so, my dear young friends, the first half of this book comes to an
end. The programme of the beginning is finished, and I am to say "Good
by." If I have not answered all the nice, intelligent letters which one
and another of you have sent me since we began together, it has only been
because I thought I could better answer the multitude of such unknown
friends in print, than a few in shorter notes of reply. It has been to me
a charming thing that so many of you have been tempted to break through
the magic circle of the printed pages, and come to closer terms with one
who has certainly tried to speak as a friend to all of you. Do we all
understand that in talking, in reading, in writing, in going into society,
in choosing our books, or in travelling, there is no arbitrary set of
rules? The commandments are not carved in stone. We shall do these things
rightly if we do them simply and unconsciously, if we are not selfish, if
we are willing to profit by other people's experience, and if, as we do
them, we can manage to remember that right and wrong depend much more on
the spirit than on the manner in which the thing is done. We shall not
make many blunders if we live by the four rules they painted on the four
walls of the Detroit Clubhouse.

Do not you know what those were?

  1. Look up, and not down.

  2. Look forward, and not backward.

  3. Look out, and not in,

  4. Lend a hand.

The next half of the book will be the application of these rules to life
in school, in vacation, life together, life alone, and some other details
not yet touched upon.

Chapter IX.

Life At School.

I do not mean life at a boarding-school. If I speak of that, it is to be
at another time. No, I mean life at a regular every-day school, in town
or in the country, where you go in the morning and come away at eleven
or at noon, and go again in the afternoon, and come away after two or
three hours. Some young people hate this life, and some like it
tolerably well. I propose to give some information which shall make it
more agreeable all round.

And I beg it may be understood that I do not appear as counsel for either
party, in the instruction and advice I give. That means that, as the
lawyers say, I am not retained by the teachers, formerly called
schoolmistresses and schoolmasters, or by the pupils, formerly called boys
and girls. I have been a schoolmaster myself, and I enjoyed the life very
much, and made among my boys some of the best of the friends of my life.
I have also been a school-boy,--and I roughed through my school life with
comparative comfort and ease. As master and as boy I learned some things
which I think can be explained to boys and girls now, so as to make life
at school easier and really more agreeable.

My first rule is, that you

  Accept The Situation.

Perhaps you do not know what that means. It means that, as you are at
school, whether you really like going or not, you determine to make the
very best you can of it, and that you do not make yourself and everybody
else wretched by sulking and grumbling about it, and wishing school was
done, and wondering why your father sends you there, and asking leave to
look at the clock in the other room, and so on.

When Dr. Kane or Captain McGlure was lying on a skin on a field of ice, in
a blanket bag buttoned over his head, with three men one side of him and
three the other, and a blanket over them all,--with the temperature
seventy-eight degrees below zero, and daylight a month and a half away,
the position was by no means comfortable. But a brave man does not growl
or sulk in such a position. He "accepts the situation." That is, he takes
that as a thing for granted, about which there is to be no further
question. Then he is in condition to make the best of it, whatever that
best may be. He can sing "We won't go home till morning," or he can tell
the men the story of William Fitzpatrick and the Belgian coffee-grinder,
or he can say "good-night" and imagine himself among the Kentish
hop-fields,--till before he knows it the hop-sticks begin walking round
and round, and the haycocks to make faces at
him,--and--and--and--he--he--he is fast asleep. That comfort comes of
"accepting the situation."

Now here you are at school, I will say, for three hours. Accept the
situation, like a man or a woman, and do not sulk like a fool. As Mr.
Abbot says, in his admirable rule, in Rollo or Jonas, "When you grant,
grant cheerfully." You have come here to school without a fight, I
suppose. When your father told you to come, you did not insult him, as
people do in very poor plays and very cheap novels. You did not say to
him, "Miscreant and villain, I renounce thee, I defy thee to the teeth; I
am none of thine, and henceforth I leave thee in thy low estate." You did
not leap in the middle of the night from a three-story window, with your
best clothes in a handkerchief, and go and assume the charge of a pirate
clipper, which was lying hidden in a creek in the Back Bay. On the
contrary, you went to school when the time came. As you have done so,
determine, first of all, to make the very best of it. The best can be made
first-rate. But a great deal depends on you in making it so.

To make the whole thing thoroughly attractive, to make the time pass
quickly, and to have school life a natural part of your other life, my
second rule is,

  Do What You Do With All Your Might.

It is a good rule in anything; in sleeping, in playing, or in whatever
you have in hand. But nothing tends to make school time pass quicker; and
the great point, as I will acknowledge, is to get through with the school
hours as quickly as we fairly can.

Now if in written arithmetic, for instance, you will start instantly on
the sums as soon as they are given out; if you will bear on hard on the
pencil, so as to make clear white marks, instead of greasy, flabby, pale
ones on the slate; if you will rule the columns for the answers as
carefully as if it were a bank ledger you were ruling, or if you will wash
the slate so completely that no vestige of old work is there, you will
find that the mere exercise of energy of manner infuses spirit and
correctness into the thing done.

I remember my drawing-teacher once snapped the top of my pencil with his
forefinger, gently, and it flew across the room. He laughed and said, "How
can you expect to draw a firm line with a pencil held like that?" It was a
good lesson, and it illustrates this rule,--"Do with all your might the
work that is to be done."

When I was at school at the old Latin School in Boston,--opposite where
Ben Franklin went to school and where his statue is now,--in the same spot
in space where you eat your lunch if you go into the ladies' eating-room
at Parker's Hotel,--when I was at school there, I say, things were in that
semi-barbarous state, that with a school attendance of four hours in the
morning, and three in the afternoon, we had but five minutes' recess in
the morning and five in the afternoon. We went "out" in divisions of eight
or ten each; and the worst of all was that the play-ground (now called so)
was a sort of platform, of which one half was under cover,--all of which
was, I suppose, sixteen feet long by six wide, with high walls, and stairs
leading to it.

Of course we could have sulked away all our recess there, complaining that
we had no better place. Instead of which, we accepted the situation, we
made the best of it, and with all our might entered on the one amusement
possible in such quarters.

We provided a stout rope, well knotted. As soon as recess began, we
divided into equal parties, one under cover and the other out, grasping
the rope, and endeavoring each to drew the other party across the dividing
line. "Greeks and Trojans" you will see the game called in English books.
Little we knew of either; but we hardened our hands, toughened our
muscles, and exercised our chests, arms, and legs much better than could
have been expected, all by accepting the situation and doing with all our
might what our hands found to do. Lessons are set for average boys at
school,--boys of the average laziness. If you really go to work with all
your might then, you get a good deal of loose time, which, in general, you
can apply to that standing nuisance, the "evening lesson." Sometimes, I
know, for what reason I do not know, this study of the evening lesson in
school is prohibited. When it is, the good boys and quick boys have to
learn how to waste their extra time, which seems to be a pity. But with a
sensible master, it is a thing understood, that it is better for boys or
girls to study hard while they study, and never to learn to dawdle.
Taking it for granted that you are in the hands of such masters or
mistresses, I will take it for granted that, when you have learned the
school lesson, there will be no objection to your next learning the other
lesson, which lazier boys will have to carry home.

Lastly, you will find you gain a great deal by giving to the school lesson
all the color and light which every-day affairs can lend to it. Do not let
it be a ghastly skeleton in a closet, but let it come as far as it will
into daily life. When you read in Colburn's Oral Arithmetic, "that a man
bought mutton at six cents a pound, and beef at seven," ask your mother
what she pays a pound now, and do the sum with the figures changed. When
the boys come back after vacation, find out where they have been, and look
out Springfield, and the Notch, and Dead River, and Moosehead Lake, on the
map,--and know where they are. When you get a chance at the "Republican,"
before the others have come down to breakfast, read the Vermont news,
under the separate head of that State, and find out how many of those
Vermont towns are on your "Mitchell." When it is your turn to speak, do
not be satisfied with a piece from the "Speaker," that all the boys have
heard a hundred times; but get something out of the "Tribune," or the
"Companion," or "Young Folks," or from the new "Tennyson" at home.

I once went to examine a high school, on a lonely hillside in a lonely
country town. The first class was in botany, and they rattled off from the
book very fast. They said "cotyledon," and "syngenesious," and
"coniferous," and such words, remarkably well, considering they did not
care two straws about them. Well, when it was my turn to "make a few
remarks," I said,--


I do not remember another word I said, but I do remember the sense of
amazement that a minister should have spoken such a wicked word in a
school-room. What was worse, I sent a child out to bring in some unripe
huckleberries from the roadside, and we went to work on our botany to
some purpose.

My dear children, I see hundreds of boys who can tell me what is thirteen
seventeenths of two elevenths of five times one half of a bushel of wheat,
stated in pecks, quarts, and pints; and yet if I showed them a grain of
wheat, and a grain of unhulled rice, and a grain of barley, they would not
know which was which. Try not to let your school life sweep you wholly
away from the home life of every day.

Chapter X.

Life In Vacation.

How well I remember my last vacation! I knew it was my last, and I did not
lose one instant of it. Six weeks of unalloyed!

True, after school days are over, people have what are called vacations.
Your father takes his at the store, and Uncle William has the "long
vacation," when the Court does not sit. But a man's vacation, or a
woman's, is as nothing when it is compared with a child's or a young man's
or a young woman's home from school. For papa and Uncle William are
carrying about a set of cares with them all the time. They cannot help it,
and they carry them bravely, but they carry them all the same. So you see
a vacation for men and women is generally a vacation with its weight of
responsibility. But your vacations, while you are at school, though they
have their responsibilities, indeed, have none under which you ought not
to walk off as cheerfully as Gretchen, there, walks down the road with
that pail of milk upon her head. I hope you will learn to do that some
day, my dear Fanchon.

Hear, then, the essential laws of vacation:--

First of all,

  Do Not Get Into Other People's Way.

Horace and Enoch would not have made such a mess of it last summer, and
got so utterly into disgrace, if they could only have kept this rule in
mind. But, from mere thoughtlessness, they were making people wish they
were at the North Pole all the time, and it ended in their wishing that
they were there themselves.

Thus, the very first morning after they had come home from Leicester
Academy,--and, indeed, they had been welcomed with all the honors only the
night before,--when Margaret, the servant, came down into the kitchen, she
found her fire lighted, indeed, but there were no thanks to Master Enoch
for that. The boys were going out gunning that morning, and they had taken
it into their heads that the two old fowling-pieces needed to be
thoroughly washed out, and with hot water. So they had got up, really at
half past four; had made the kitchen fire themselves; had put on ten times
as much water as they wanted, so it took an age to boil; had got tired
waiting, and raked out some coals and put on some more water in a skillet;
had upset this over the hearth, and tried to wipe it up with the cloth
that lay over Margaret's bread-cakes as they were rising; had meanwhile
taken the guns to pieces, and laid the pieces on the kitchen table; had
piled up their oily cloths on the settle and on the chairs; had spilled
oil from the lamp-filler, in trying to drop some into one of the ramrod
sockets, and thus, by the time Margaret did come down, her kitchen and her
breakfast both were in a very bad way.

Horace said, when he was arraigned, that he had thought they should be all
through before half past five; that then they would have "cleared up," and
have been well across the pasture, out of Margaret's way. Horace did not
know that watched pots are "mighty unsartin" in their times of boiling.

Now all this row, leading to great unpopularity of the boys in regions
where they wanted to be conciliatory, would have been avoided if Horace
and Enoch had merely kept out of the way. There were the Kendal-house in
the back-yard, or the wood-shed, where they could have cleaned the guns,
and then nobody would have minded if they had spilled ten quarts of water.

This seems like a minor rule. But I have put it first, because a good deal
of comfort or discomfort hangs on it.

Scientifically, the first rule would be,

  Save Time.

This can only be done by system. A vacation is gold, you see, if properly
used; it is distilled gold,--if there could be such,--to be correct, it is
burnished, double-refined gold, or gold purified. It cannot be lengthened.
There is sure to be too little of it. So you must make sure of all there
is; and this requires system.

It requires, therefore, that, first of all,--even before the term time is
over,--you all determine very solemnly what the great central business of
the vacation shall be. Shall it be an archery club? Or will we build the
Falcon's Nest in the buttonwood over on the Strail? Or shall it be some
other sport or entertainment?

Let this be decided with great care; and, once decided, hang to this
determination, doing something determined about it every living day. In
truth, I recommend application to that business with a good deal of
firmness, on every day, rain or shine, even at certain fixed hours;
unless, of course, there is some general engagement of the family, or of
the neighborhood, which interferes. If you are all going on a lily party,
why, that will take precedence.

Then I recommend, that, quite distinct from this, you make up your own
personal and separate mind as to what is the thing which you yourself have
most hungered and thirsted for in the last term, but have not been able to
do to your mind, because the school work interfered so badly. Some such
thing, I have no doubt, there is. You wanted to make some electrotype
medals, as good as that first-rate one that Muldair copied when he lived
in Paxton. Or you want to make some plaster casts. Or you want to read
some particular book or books. Or you want to use John's tool-box for some
very definite and attractive purpose. Very well; take this up also, for
your individual or special business. The other is the business of the
crowd; this is your avocation when you are away from the crowd. I say
away; I mean it is something you can do without having to hunt them up,
and coax them to go on with you.

Besides these, of course there is all the home life. You have the garden
to work in. You can help your mother wash the tea things. You can make
cake, if you keep on the blind side of old Rosamond; and so on.

Thus are you triply armed. Indeed, I know no life which gets on
well, unless it has these three sides, whether life with the others,
life by yourself, or such life as may come without any plan or
effort of your own.

No; I do not know which of these things you will choose,--perhaps you will
choose none of them. But it is easy enough to see how fast a day of
vacation will go by if you, Stephen, or you, Clara, have these several
resources or determinations.

Here is the ground-plan of it, as I might steal it from Fanchon's

"TUESDAY.--Second day of vacation. Fair. Wind west. Thermometer
sixty-three degrees, before breakfast.

"Down stairs in time." [_Mem._ 1. Be careful about this. It makes much
more disturbance in the household than you think for, if you are late to
breakfast, and it sets back the day terribly.]

"Wiped while Sarah washed. Herbert read us the new number of 'Tig and
Tag,' while we did this, and made us scream, by acting it with Silas,
behind the sofa and on the chairs. At nine, all was done, and we went up
the pasture to Mont Blanc. Worked all the morning on the drawbridge. We
have got the two large logs into place, and have dug out part of the
trench. Home at one, quite tired."

[_Mem._ 2. Mont Blanc is a great boulder,--part of a park of boulders, in
the edge of the wood-lot. Other similar rocks are named the "Jung-frau,"
because unclimbable, the "_Aiguilles_" &c. This about the drawbridge and
logs, readers will understand as well as I do.]

"Had just time to dress for dinner. Mr. Links, or Lynch, was here; a _very
interesting_ man, who has descended an extinct volcano. He is going to
give me some Pele's hair. I think I shall make a museum. After dinner we
all sat on the piazza some time, till he went away. Then I came up here,
and fixed my drawers. I have moved my bed to the other side of the
chamber. This gives me a _great deal more room_. Then I got out my
palette, and washed it, and my colors. I am going to paint a cluster of
grape-leaves for mamma's birthday. It is _a great secret_. I had only got
the things well out, when the Fosdicks came, and proposed we should all
ride over with them to Worcester, where Houdin, the juggler, was. Such a
splendid time as we have had! How he does some of the things I do not
know. I brought home a flag and three great peppermints for Pet. We did
not get home _till nearly eleven._"

[_Mem._ 3. This is pretty late for young people of your age; but, as
Madame Roland said, a good deal has to be pardoned to the spirit of
liberty; and, so far as I have observed, in this time, generally is.]

Now if you will analyze that bit of journal, you will see, first, that the
day is full of what Mr. Clough calls

  "The joy of eventful living."

That girl never will give anybody cause to say she is tired of her
vacations, if she can spend them in that fashion. You will see, next, that
it is all in system, and, as it happens, just on the system I proposed.
For you will observe that there is the great plan, with others, of the
fortress, the drawbridge, and all that; there is the separate plan for
Fanchon's self, of the water-color picture; and, lastly, there is the
unplanned surrender to the accident of the Fosdicks coming round to
propose Houdin.

Will you observe, lastly, that Fanchon is not selfish in these matters,
but lends a hand where she finds an opportunity?

Chapter XI.

Life Alone.

When I was a very young man, I had occasion to travel two hundred miles
down the valley of the Connecticut River. I had just finished a delightful
summer excursion in the service of the State of New Hampshire as a
geologist,--and I left the other geological surveyors at Haverhill.

I remembered John Ledyard. Do you, dear Young America? John Ledyard,
having determined to leave Dartmouth College, built himself a boat, or
digged for himself a canoe, and sailed down on the stream reading the
Greek Testament, or "Plutarch's Lives," I forget which, on the way.

Here was I, about to go down the same river. I had ten dollars in my
pocket, be the same more or less. Could not I buy a boat for seven, my
provant for a week for three more, and so arrive in Springfield in ten
days' time, go up to the Hardings' and spend the night, and go down to
Boston, on a free pass I had, the next day?

Had I been as young as I am now, I should have done that thing. I wanted
to do it then, but there were difficulties.

First, whatever was to be done must be done at once. For, if I were
delayed only a day at Haverhill, I should have, when I had paid my bill,
but eight dollars and a half left. Then how buy the provant for three
dollars, and the boat for six?

So I went at once to the seaport or maritime district of that flourishing
town, to find, to my dismay, that there was no boat, canoe, dug-out, or
_batteau_,--there was nothing. As I remember things now, there was not any
sort of coffin that would ride the waves in any sort of way.

There were, however, many _pundits_, or learned men. They are a class of
people I have always found in places or occasions where something besides
learning was needed. They tried, as is the fashion of their craft, to make
good the lack of boats by advice.

First, they proved that it would have been of no use had there been any
boats. Second, they proved that no one ever had gone down from Haverhill
in a boat at that season of the year,--_ergo_, that no one ought to think
of going. Third, they proved, what I knew very well before, that I could
go down much quicker in the stage. Fourth, with astonishing unanimity
they agreed, that, if I would only go down as far as Hanover, there would
be plenty of boats; the river would have more water in it; I should be
past this fall and that fall, this rapid and that rapid; and, in short,
that, before the worlds were, it seemed predestined that I should start
from Hanover.

All this they said in that seductive way in which a dry-goods clerk tells
you that he has no checked gingham, and makes you think you are a fool
that you asked for checked gingham; that you never should have asked,
least of all, should have asked him.

So I left the beach at Haverhill, disconcerted, disgraced, conscious of
my own littleness and folly, and, as I was bid, took passage in the
Telegraph coach for Hanover, giving orders that I should be called in
the morning.

I was called in the morning. I mounted the stage-coach, and I think we
came to Hanover about half past ten,--my first and last visit at that
shrine of learning. Pretty hot it was on the top of the coach, and I was
pretty tired, and a good deal chafed as I saw from that eyry the lovely,
cool river all the way at my side. I took some courage when I saw White's
dam and Brown's dam, or Smith's dam and Jones's dam, or whatever the dams
were, and persuaded myself that it would have been hard work hauling
round them.

Nathless, I was worn and weary when I arrived at Hanover, and was told
there would be an hour before the Telegraph went forward. Again I hurried
to the strand.

This time I found a boat. A poor craft it was, but probably as good as
Ledyard's. Leaky, but could be caulked. Destitute of row-locks, but they
could be made.

I found the owner. Yes, he would sell her to me. Nay, he was not
particular about price. Perhaps he knew that she was not worth
anything. But, with that loyalty to truth, not to say pride of opinion,
which is a part of the true New-Englander's life, this sturdy man said,
frankly, that he did not want to sell her, because he did not think I
ought to go that way.

Vain for me to represent that that was my affair, and not his.

Clearly he thought it was his. Did he think I was a boy who had escaped
from parental care?

Perhaps. For at that age I had not this mustache or these whiskers.

Had he, in the Laccadives Islands, some worthless son who had escaped from
home to go a whaling? Did he wish in his heart that some other shipmaster
had hindered him, as he now was hindering me? Alas, I know not! Only this
I know, that he advised me, argued with me, nay, begged me not to go that
way. I should get aground. I should be upset. The boat would be swamped.
Much better go by the Telegraph.

Dear reader, I was young in life, and I accepted the reiterated advice,
and took the Telegraph. It was one of about four prudent things which I
have done in my life, which I can remember now, all of which I regret at
this moment.

Now, why did I give up a plan, at the solicitation of an utter stranger,
which I had formed intelligently, and had looked forward to with pleasure?
Was I afraid of being drowned? Not I. Hard to drown in the upper
Connecticut the boy who had, for weeks, been swimming three times a day in
that river and in every lake or stream in upper or central New Hampshire.
Was I afraid of wetting my clothes? Not I. Hard to hurt with water the
clothes in which I had slept on the top of Mt. Washington, swam the
Ammonoosuc, or sat out a thunder-shower on Mt. Jefferson.

Dear boys and girls, I was, by this time, afraid of myself. I was afraid
of being alone.

This is a pretty long text. But it is the text for this paper. You see I
had had this four or five hours' pull down on the hot stage-coach. I had
been conversing with myself all the time, and I had not found it the best
of company. I was quite sure that the voyage would cost a week. Maybe it
would cost more. And I was afraid that I should be very tired of it and of
myself before the thing was done. So I meekly returned to the Telegraph,
faintly tried the same experiment at Windsor, for the last time, and then
took the Telegraph for the night, and brought up next day at Greenfield.

"Can I, perhaps, give some hints to you, boys and girls, which will save
you from such a mistake as I made then?"

I do not pretend that you should court solitude. That is all nonsense,
though there is a good deal of it in the books, as there is of other
nonsense. You are made for society, for converse, sympathy, and communion.
Tongues are made to talk, and ears are made to listen. So are eyes made to
see. Yet night falls sometimes, when you cannot see. And, as you ought not
be afraid of night, you ought not be afraid of solitude, when you cannot
talk or listen.

What is there, then, that we can do when we are alone?

Many things. Of which now it will be enough to speak a little in detail
of five. We can think, we can read, we can write, we can draw, we can
sing. Of these we will speak separately. Of the rest I will say a word,
and hardly more.

First, we can think. And there are some places where we can do nothing
else. In a railway carriage, for instance, on a rainy or a frosty day, you
cannot see the country. If you are without companions, you cannot
talk,--ought not, indeed, talk much, if you had them. You ought not read,
because reading in the train puts your eyes out, sooner or later. You
cannot write. And in most trains the usages are such that you cannot sing.
Or, when they sing in trains, the whole company generally sings, so that
rules for solitude no longer apply.

What can you do then? You can think. Learn to think carefully, regularly,
so as to think with pleasure.

I know some young people who had two or three separate imaginary lives,
which they took up on such occasions. One was a supposed life in the
Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Robert used to plan the whole house and
grounds; just what horses he would keep, what hounds, what cows, and other
stock. He planned all the neighbors' houses, and who should live in them.
There were the Fairfaxes, very nice, but rather secesh; and the Sydneys,
who had been loyal through and through. There was that plucky Frank
Fairfax, and that pretty Blanche Sydney. Then there were riding parties,
archery parties, picnics on the river, expeditions to the Natural Bridge,
and once a year a regular "meet" for a fox-hunt.

"Springfield, twenty-five minutes for refreshments," says the conductor,
and Robert is left to take up his history some other time.

It is a very good plan to have not simply stories on hand, as he had, but
to be ready to take up the way to plan your garden, the arrangement of
your books, the order of next year's Reading Club, or any other truly good
subjects which have been laid by for systematic thinking, the first time
you are alone. Bear this in mind as you read. If you had been General
Sullivan, at the battle of Brandywine, you are not quite certain whether
you would have done as he did. No. Well, then, keep that for a nut to
crack the first time you have to be alone. What would you have done?

This matter of being prepared to think is really a pretty important
matter, if you find some night that you have to watch with a sick friend.
You must not read, write, or talk there. But you must keep awake. Unless
you mean to have the time pass dismally slow, you must have your regular
topics to think over, carefully and squarely.

An imaginary conversation, such as Madame de Genlis describes, is an
excellent resource at such a time.

Many and many a time, as I have been grinding along at night on some
railway in the Middle States, when it was too early to sleep, and too late
to look at the scenery, have I called into imaginary council a circle of
the nicest people in the world.

"Let me suppose," I would say to myself, "that we were all at Mrs.
Tileston's in the front parlor, where the light falls so beautifully, on
the laughing face and shoulder of that Bacchante. Let me suppose that
besides Mrs. Tileston, Edith was there, and Emily and Carrie and
Haliburton and Fred. Suppose just then the door-bell rang, and Mr.
Charles Sumner came up stairs fresh from Washington. What should we all
say and do?

"Why, of course we should be glad to see him, and we should ask him about
Washington and the Session,--what sort of a person Lady Bruce was,--and
whether it was really true that General Butler said that bright thing
about the Governor of Arkansas.

"And Mr. Sumner would say that General Butler said a much better thing
than that. He said that m-m-m-m-m--

"Then Mrs. Tileston would say, 'O, I thought that s-s-s-s-s--'

"Then I should say, 'O no! I am sure that u-u-u-u--, &c.'

"Then Edith would laugh and say, 'Why, no, Mr. Hale. I am sure that, &c.,
&c., &c., &c.'"

You will find that the carrying out an imaginary conversation, where you
really fill these blanks, and make the remarks of the different people in
character, is a very good entertainment,--what we called very good fun
when you and I were at school,--and helps along the hours of your watching
or of your travel greatly.

Second, as I said, there is reading. Now I have already gone into some
detail in this matter. But under the head of solitude, this is to be
added, that one is often alone, when he can read. And books, of course,
are such a luxury. But do you know that if you expect to be alone, you
had better take with you only books enough, and not too many? It is an
"embarrassment of riches," sometimes, to find yourself with too many
books. You are tempted to lay down one and take up another; you are
tempted to skip and skim too much, so that you really get the good of
none of them.

There is no time so good as the forced stopping-places of travel for
reading up the hard, heavy reading which must be done, but which nobody
wants to do. Here, for two years, I have been trying to make you read
Gibbon, and you would not touch it at home. But if I had you in the
mission-house at Mackinaw, waiting for days for a steamboat, and you had
finished "Blood and Thunder," and "Sighs and Tears," and then found a copy
of Gibbon in the house, I think you would go through half of it, at least,
before the steamer came.

Walter Savage Landor used to keep five books, and only five, by him, I
have heard it said. When he had finished one of these, and finished it
completely, he gave it away, and bought another. I do not recommend that,
but I do recommend the principle of thorough reading on which it is
founded. Do not be fiddling over too many books at one time.

Third, "But, my dear Mr. Hale, I get so tired, sometimes, of reading." Of
course you do. Who does not? I never knew anybody who did not tire of
reading sooner or later. But you are alone, as we suppose. Then be all
ready to write. Take care that your inkstand is filled as regularly as
the wash-pitcher on your washstand. Take care that there are pens and
blotting-paper, and everything that you need. These should be looked to
every day, with the same care with which every other arrangement of your
room is made. When I come to make you that long-promised visit, and say to
you, before my trunk is open, "I want to write a note, Blanche," be all
ready at the instant. Do not have to put a little water into the inkstand,
and to run down to papa's office for some blotting-paper, and get the key
to mamma's desk for some paper. Be ready to write for your life, at any
moment, as Walter, there, is ready to ride for his.

"Dear me! Mr. Hale, I hate to write. What shall I say?"

Do not say what Mr. Hale has told you, whatever else you do. Say what you
yourself may want to see hereafter. The chances are very small that
anybody else, save some dear friend, will want to see what you write.

But, of course, your journal, and especially your letters, are matters
always new, for which the day itself gives plenty of subjects, and these
two are an admirable regular resort when you are alone.

As to drawing, no one can have a better drawing-teacher than himself.
Remember that. And whoever can learn to write can learn to draw. Of all
the boys who have ever entered at the Worcester Technical School, it has
proved that all could draw, and I think the same is true at West Point.
Keep your drawings, not to show to other people, but to show yourself
whether you are improving. And thank me, ten years hence, that I advised
you to do so.

You do not expect me to go into detail as to the method in which you can
teach yourself. This is, however, sure. If you will determine to learn to
see things truly, you will begin to draw them truly. It is, for instance,
almost never that the wheel of a carriage really is round to your eye. It
is round to your thought. But unless your eye is exactly opposite the hub
of the wheel in the line of the axle, the wheel does not make a circle on
the retina of your eye, and ought not to be represented by a circle in
your drawing. To draw well, the first resolution and the first duty is to
see well. Second, do not suppose that mere technical method has much to do
with real success. Soft pencil rather than hard; sepia rather than India
ink. It is pure truth that tells in drawing, and that is what you can
gain. Take perfectly simple objects, at a little distance, to begin with.
Yes, the gate-posts at the garden gate are as good as anything. Draw the
outline as accurately as you can, but remember there is no outline in
nature, and that the outline in drawing is simply conventional;
represent--which means present again, or re-present--the shadows as well
as you can. Notice is the shadow under the cap of the post deeper than
that of the side. Then let it be re-presented so on your paper. Do this
honestly, as well as you can. Keep it to compare with what you do next
week or next month. And if you have a chance to see a good draughtsman
work, quietly watch him, and remember. Do not hurry, nor try hard things
at the beginning. Above all, do not begin with large landscapes.

As for singing, there is nothing that so lights up a whole house as the
strain, through the open windows, of some one who is singing alone. We
feel sure, then, that there is at least one person in that house who is
well and is happy.

Chapter XII.

Habits In Church.

Perhaps I can fill a gap, if I say something to young people about their
habits in church-going, and in spending the hour of the church service.

When I was a boy, we went to school on weekdays for four hours in the
morning and three in the afternoon. We went to church on Sunday at about
half past ten, and church "let out" at twelve. We went again in the
afternoon, and the service was a little shorter. I knew and know precisely
how much shorter, for I sat in sight of the clock, and bestowed a great
deal too much attention on it. But I do not propose to tell you that.

Till I was taught some of the things which I now propose to teach you,
this hour and a half in church seemed to me to correspond precisely to the
four hours in school,--I mean it seemed just as long. The hour and twenty
minutes of the afternoon seemed to me to correspond precisely with the
three hours of afternoon school. After I learned some of these things,
church-going seemed to me very natural and simple, and the time I spent
there was very short and very pleasant to me.

I should say, then, that there are a great many reasonably good boys and
girls, reasonably thoughtful, also, who find the confinement of a pew
oppressive, merely because they do not know the best way to get the
advantage of a service, which is really of profit to children as it is to
grown-up people,--and which never has its full value as it does when
children and grown people join together in it.

Now to any young people who are reading this paper, and are thinking about
their own habits in church, I should say very much what I should about
swimming, or drawing, or gardening; that, if the thing to be done is worth
doing at all, you want to do it with your very best power. You want to
give yourself up to it, and get the very utmost from it.

You go to church, I will suppose, twice a day on Sunday. Is it not
clearly best, then, to carry out to the very best the purpose with which
you are there? You are there to worship God. Steadily and simply determine
that you will worship him, and you will not let such trifles distract you
as often do distract people from this purpose.

What if the door does creak? what if a dog does bark near by? what if the
horses outside do neigh or stamp? You do not mean to confess that you, a
child of God, are going to submit to dogs, or horses, or creaking doors!

If you will give yourself to the service with all your heart and
soul,--with all your might, as a boy does to his batting or his catching
at base-ball; if, when the congregation is at prayer, you determine that
you will not be hindered in your prayer; or, when the time comes for
singing, that you will not be hindered from joining in the singing with
voice or with heart,--why, you can do so. I never heard of a good fielder
in base-ball missing a fly because a dog barked, or a horse neighed, on
the outside of the ball-ground.

If I kept a high school, I would call together the school once a month,
to train all hands in the habits requisite for listeners in public
assemblies. They should be taught that just as rowers in a boat-race row
and do nothing else,--as soldiers at dress parade present arms, shoulder
arms, and the rest, and do nothing else, no matter what happens, during
that half-hour,--that so, when people meet to listen to an address or to a
concert they should listen, and do nothing else.

It is perfectly easy for people to get control and keep control of this
habit of attention. If I had the exercise I speak of, in a high school,
the scholars should be brought together, as I say, and carried through a
series of discipline in presence of mind.

Books, resembling hymn-books in weight and size, should be dropped from
galleries behind them, till they were perfectly firm under such scattering
fire, and did not look round; squeaking dolls, of the size of large
children, should be led squeaking down the passages of the school-room,
and other strange objects should be introduced, until the scholars were
all proof, and did not turn towards them once. Every one of those scholars
would thank me afterwards.

Think of it. You give a dollar, that you may hear one of Thomas's
concerts. How little of your money's worth you get, if twenty times, as
the concert goes on, you must turn round to see if it was Mrs. Grundy who
sneezed, or Mr. Bundy; or if it was Mr. Golightly or Mrs. Heavyside who
came in too late at the door. And this attention to what is before you is
a matter of habit and discipline. You should determine that you will only
do in church what you go to church for, and adhere to your determination
until the habit is formed.

If you find, as a great many boys and girls do, that the sermon in church
comes in as a stumbling-block in the way of this resolution, that you
cannot fix your attention steadily upon it, I recommend that you try
taking notes of it. I have never known this to fail.

It is not necessary to do this in short-hand, though that is a very
charming accomplishment. Any one of you can teach himself how to write
short-hand, and there is no better practice than you can make for yourself
at church in taking notes of sermons.

But supposing you cannot write short-hand. Take a little book with stiff
covers, such as you can put in your pocket. The reporters use books of
ruled paper, of the length of a school writing-book, but only two or three
inches wide, and opening at the end. That is a very good shape. Then you
want a pencil or two cut sharp before you go to church. You will learn
more easily what you want to write than I can teach you. You cannot write
the whole, even of the shortest sentence, without losing part of the next.
But you can write the leading ideas, perhaps the leading words.

When you go home you will find you have a "skeleton," as it is called, of
the whole sermon. And, if you want to profit by the exercise, you may very
well spend an hour of the afternoon in writing out in neat and finished
form a sketch of some one division of it.

But, even if you do nothing with the notes after you come home, you will
find that they have made the sermon very short for you; that you have
been saved from sleepiness, and that you afterwards remember what the
preacher said, with unusual distinctness. You will also gradually gain a
habit of listening, with a view to remembering; noticing specially the
course and train of the argument or of the statement of any speaker.

Of course I need not say that in church you must be reverent in manner,
must not disturb others, and must not occupy yourself intentionally with
other people's dress or demeanor. If you really meant or wanted to do
these things, you would not be reading this paper.

But it may be worth while to say that even children and other young people
may remember to advantage that they form a very important part of the
congregation. If, therefore, the custom of worship where you are arranges
for responses to be read by the people, you, who are among the people, are
to respond. If it provides for congregational singing, and you can sing
the tune, you are to sing. It is certain that it requires the people all
to be in their places when the service begins. That you can do as well as
the oldest of them.

When the service is ended, do not hurry away. Do not enter into a wild and
useless competition with the other boys as to which shall leap off the
front steps the soonest upon the grass of the churchyard. You can arrange
much better races elsewhere.

When the benediction is over, wait a minute in your seat; do not look for
your hat and gloves till it is over, and then quietly and without jostling
leave the church, as you might pass from one room of your father's house
into another, when a large number of his friends were at a great party.
That is precisely the condition of things in which you are all together.

Observe, dear children, I am speaking only of habits of outside behavior
at church. I intentionally turn aside from speaking of the communion with
God, to which the church will help you, and the help from your Saviour
which the church will make real. These are very great blessings, as I
hope you will know. Do not run the risk of losing them by neglecting the
little habits of concentrated thought and of devout and simple behavior
which may make the hour in church one of the shortest and happiest hours
of the week.

Chapter XIII.

Life With Children.

There is a good deal of the life of boys and girls which passes when they
are with other boys and girls, and involves some difficulties with a great
many pleasures, all its own. It is generally taken for granted that if the
children are by themselves, all will go well. And if you boys and girls
did but know it, many very complimentary things are said about you in this
very matter. "Children do understand each other so well." "Children get
along so well with each other." "I feel quite relieved when the children
find some companions." This sort of thing is said behind the children's
backs at the very moment when the same children, quite strangers to each
other, are wishing that they were at home themselves, or at least that
these sudden new companions were.

There is a well-studied picture of this mixed-up life of boys and girls
with other boys and girls who are quite strangers to them in the end of
Miss Edgeworth's "Sequel to Frank,"--a book which I cannot get the young
people to read as much as I wish they would. And I do not at this moment
remember any other sketch of it in fiction quite so well managed, with so
little overstatement, and with so much real good sense which children may
remember to advantage.

Of course, in the first place, you are to do as you would be done by. But,
when you have said this, a question is still involved, for you do not know
for a moment how you would be done by; or if you do know, you know simply
that you would like to be let off from the company of these new-found
friends. "If I did as I would be done by," said Clara, "I should turn
round and walk to the other end of the piazza, and I should leave the
whole party of these strange girls alone. I was having a very good time
without them, and I dare say they would have a better time without me. But
papa brought me to them, and said their father was in college with him,
and that he wanted that we should know each other. So I could not do, in
that case, exactly as I would be done by without displeasing papa, and
that would not be doing to him at all as I would be done by."

The English of all this is, my dear Clara, that in that particular
exigency on the piazza at Newbury you had a nice book, and you would have
been glad to be left alone; nay, at the bottom of your heart, you would be
glad to be left alone a good deal of your life. But you do not want to be
left alone all your life. And if your father had taken you to Old Point
Comfort for a month, instead of Newbury, and you were as much a stranger
to the ways there as this shy Lucy Percival is to our Northern ways at
Newbury, you would be very much obliged to any nice Virginian girl who
swallowed down her dislike of Yankees in general, and came and welcomed
you as prettily as, in fact, you did the Percivals when your father
brought you to them. The doing as you would be done by requires a study of
all the conditions, not of the mere outside accident of the moment.

The direction familiarly given is that we should meet strangers half-way.
But I do not find that this wholly answers. These strangers may be
represented by globules of quicksilver, or, indeed, of water, on a marble
table. Suppose you pour out two little globules of quicksilver at each of
two points /. ./ like these two. Suppose you make the globules just so
large that they meet half-way, thus, /OO/. At the points where they
touch they only touch. It even seems as if there were a little repulsion,
so that they shrink away from each other. But, if you will enlarge one of
the drops never so little, so that it shall meet the other a very little
beyond half-way, why, the two will gladly run together into one, and will
even forget that they ever have been parted. That is the true rule for
meeting strangers. Meet them a little bit more than half-way. You will
find in life that the people who do this are the cheerful people, and
happy, who get the most out of society, and, indeed, are everywhere prized
and loved. All this is worth saying in a book published in Boston, because
New-Englanders inherit a great deal of the English shyness,--which the
French call "mauvaise honte," or "bad shame,"--and they need to be
cautious particularly to meet strangers a little more than half-way.
Boston people, in particular, are said to suffer from the habits of
"distance" or "reserve."

"But I am sure I do not know what to say to them," says Robert, who with a
good deal of difficulty has been made to read this paper thus far. My dear
Bob, have I said that you must talk to them? I knew you pretended that you
could not talk to people, though yesterday, when I was trying to get my
nap in the hammock, I certainly heard a great deal of rattle from somebody
who was fixing his boat with Clem Waters in the woodhouse. But I have
never supposed that you were to sit in agreeable conversation about the
weather, or the opera, with these strange boys and girls. Nobody but prigs
would do that, and I am glad to say you are not a prig. But if you were
turned in on two or three boys as Clara was on the Percival girls, a good
thing to say would be, "Would you like to go in swimming?" or "How would
you like to see us clean our fish?" or "I am going up to set snares for
rabbits; how would you like to go?" Give them a piece of yourself. That is
what I mean by meeting more than half-way. Frankly, honorably, without
unfair reserve,--which is to say, like a gentleman,--share with these
strangers some part of your own life which makes you happy. Clara, there,
will do the same thing. She will take these girls to ride, or she will
teach them how to play "copack," or she will tell them about her play of
the "Sleeping Beauty," and enlist some of them to take parts. This is what
I mean by meeting people more than half-way.

It may be that some of the chances of life pitchfork in upon you and your
associates a bevy of little children smaller than yourselves, whom you
are expected to keep an eye upon. This is a much severer trial of your
kindness, and of your good sense also, than the mere introduction to
strange boys and girls of your own age. Little children seem very
exacting. They are not so to a person who understands how to manage
them. But very likely you do not understand, and, whether you do or do
not, they require a constant eye. You will find a good deal to the point
in Jonas's directions to Rollo, and in Beechnut's directions to those
children in Vermont; and perhaps in what Jonas and Beechnut did with the
boys and girls who were hovering round them all the time you will find
more light than in their directions. Children, particularly little
children, are very glad to be directed, and to be kept even at work, if
they are in the company of older persons, and think they are working with
them. Jonas states it thus: "Boys will do any amount of work if there is
somebody to plan for them, and they will like to do it." If there is any
undertaking of an afternoon, and you find that there is a body of the
younger children who want to be with you who are older, do not make them
and yourselves unhappy by rebuking them for "tagging after" you. Of
course they tag after you. At their age you were glad of such improving
company as yours is. It has made you what you are. Instead of scolding
them, then, just avail yourselves of their presence, and make the
occasion comfortable to them, by giving them some occupation for their
hands. See how cleverly Fanny is managing down on the beach with those
four little imps. Fanny really wants to draw, and she has her
water-colors, and Edward Holiday has his and is teaching her. And these
four children from the hotel have "tagged" down after her. You would say
that was too bad, and you would send them home, I am afraid. Fanny has
not said any such thing. She has "accepted the position," and made
herself queen of it, as she is apt to do. She showed Reginald, first of
all, how to make a rainbow of pebbles,--violet pebbles, indigo pebbles,
blue pebbles, and so on to red ones. She explained that it had to be
quite large so as to give the good effect. In a minute Ellen had the idea
and started another, and then little Jo began to help Ellen, and Phil to
help Rex. And there those four children have been tramping back and forth
over the beach for an hour, bringing and sorting and arranging colored
pebbles, while Edward and Fanny have gone on quietly with their drawing.

In short, the great thing with children, as with grown people, is to give
them something to do. You can take a child of two years on your knee,
while there is reading aloud, so that the company hopes for silence. Well,
if you only tell that child to be still, he will be wretched in one
minute, and in two will be on the floor and rushing wildly all round the
room. But if you will take his little plump hand and "pat a cake" it on
yours, or make his little fat fingers into steeples or letters or rabbits,
you can keep him quiet without saying a single word for half an hour. At
the end of the most tiresome railway journey, when everybody in the car is
used up, the children most of all, you can cheer up these poor tired
little things who have been riding day and night for six days from
Pontchatrain, if you will take out a pair of scissors and cut out cats and
dogs and dancing-girls from the newspaper or from the back of a letter,
and will teach them how to parade them along on the velvet of the car.
Indeed, I am not quite sure but you will entertain yourself as much as
any of them.

In any acting of charades, any arrangement of _tableaux vivans_, or
similar amusements, you will always find that the little children are well
pleased, and, indeed, are fully satisfied, if they also can be pressed
into the service as "slaves" or "soldiers," or, as the procession-makers
say, "citizens generally," or what the stage-managers call
super-numeraries. They need not be intrusted with "speaking parts"; it is
enough for them to know that they are recognized as a part of the company.

I do not think that I enjoy anything more than I do watching a birthday
party of children who have known each other at a good Kinder-Garten school
like dear Mrs. Heard's. Instead of sitting wearily around the sides of the
room, with only such variations as can be rendered by a party of rude boys
playing tag up and down the stairs and in the hall, these children, as
soon as four of them arrive, begin to play some of the games they have
been used to playing at school, or branch off into other games which
neither school nor recess has all the appliances for. This is because
these children are trained together to associate with each other. The
misfortune of most schools is that, to preserve the discipline, the
children are trained to have nothing to do with each other, and it is only
at recess, or in going and coming, that they get the society which is the
great charm and only value of school life. In college, or in any good
academy, things are so managed that young men study together when they
choose; and there is no better training. In any way you manage it, bring
that about. If the master will let you and Rachel sit on the garden steps
while you study the Telemachus,--or if you, Robert and Horace, can go up
into the belfry and work out the Algebra together, it will be better for
the Telemachus, better for the Algebra, and much better for you.

Chapter XIV.

Life With Your Elders.

Have you ever read Amyas Leigh? Amyas Leigh is an historical novel,
written by Charles Kingsley, an English author. His object, or one of his
objects, was to extol the old system of education, the system which
trained such men as Walter Raleigh and Philip Sidney.

The system was this. When a boy had grown up to be fourteen or fifteen
years old, he was sent away from home by his father to some old friend of
his father, who took him into his train or company for whatever service or
help he could render. And so, of a sudden, the boy found himself
constantly in the company of men, to learn, as he could, what they were
doing, and to become a man himself under their contagion and sympathy.

We have abandoned this system. We teach boys and girls as much from books
as we can, and we give them all the fewer chances to learn from people or
from life.

None the less do the boys and girls meet men and women. And I think it is
well worth our while, in these papers, to see how much good and how much
pleasure they can get from the companionship.

I reminded you, in the last chapter, of Jonas and Beechnut's wise advice
about little children. Do you remember what Jonas told Rollo, when Rollo
was annoyed because his father would not take him to ride? That
instruction belongs to our present subject. Rollo was very fond of riding
with his father and mother, but he thought he did not often get invited,
and that, when he invited himself, he was often refused. He confided in
Jonas on the subject. Jonas told him substantially two things: First, that
his father would not ask him any the more often because he teased him for
an invitation. The teazing was in itself wrong, and did not present him in
an agreeable light to his father and mother, who wanted a pleasant
companion, if they wanted any. This was the first thing. The second was
that Rollo did not make himself agreeable when he did ride. He soon wanted
water to drink. Or he wondered when they should get home. Or he complained
because the sun shone in his eyes. He made what the inn-keeper called "a
great row generally," and so when his father and mother took their next
ride, if they wanted rest and quiet, they were very apt not to invite him.
Rollo took the hint. The next time he had an invitation to ride, he
remembered that he was the invited party, and bore himself accordingly. He
did not "pitch in" in the conversation. He did not obtrude his own
affairs. He answered when he was spoken to, listened when he was not
spoken to, and found that he was well rewarded by attending to the things
which interested his father and mother, and to the matters he was
discussing with her. And so it came about that Rollo, by not offering
himself again as captain of the party, became a frequent and a favorite

Now in that experience of Rollo's there is involved a good deal of the
philosophy of the intercourse between young people and their elders. Yes,
I know what you are saying, Theodora and George, just as well as if I
heard you. You are saying that you are sure you do not want to go among
the old folks,--certainly you shall not go if you are not wanted. But I
wish you to observe that sometimes you must go among them, whether you
want to or not; and if you must, there are two things to be brought
about,--first, that you get the utmost possible out of the occasion; and,
second, that the older people do. So, if you please, we will not go into a
huff about it, but look the matter in the face, and see if there is not
some simple system which governs the whole.

Do you remember perhaps, George, the first time you found out what good
reading there was in men's books,--that day when you had sprained your
ankle, and found Mayne Reid palled a little bit,--when I brought you
Lossing's Field-Book of the Revolution, as you sat in the wheel-chair, and
you read away upon that for hours? Do you remember how, when you were
getting well, you used to limp into my room, and I let you hook down
books with the handle of your crutch, so that you read the English Parrys
and Captain Back, and then got hold of my great Schoolcraft and Catlin,
and finally improved your French a good deal, before you were well, on the
thirty-nine volumes of Garnier's "Imaginary Voyages "? You remember that?
So do I. That was your first experience in grown-up people's books,--books
that are not written down to the supposed comprehension of children. Now
there is an experience just like that open to each of you, Theodora and
George, whenever you will choose to avail yourselves of it in the society
of grown-up people, if you will only take that society simply and
modestly, and behave like the sensible boy and girl that you really are.

Do not be tempted to talk among people who are your elders. Those horrible
scrapes that Frank used to get into, such as Harry once got into, arose,
like most scrapes in this world, from their want of ability to hold their
tongues. Speak when you are spoken to, not till then, and then get off
with as little talk as you can. After the second French revolution, my
young friend Walter used to wish that there might be a third, so that he
might fortunately be in the gallery of the revolutionary convention just
when everything came to a dead lock; and he used to explain to us, as we
sat on the parallel bars together at recess, how he would just spring over
the front of the gallery, swing himself across to the canopy above the
Speaker's seat, and slide down a column to the Tribune, there "where the
orators speak, you know," and how he would take advantage of the surprise
to address them in their own language; how he would say "_Français_,--_mes
frères_" (which means, Frenchmen,--brothers); and how, in such strains of
burning eloquence, he would set all right so instantaneously that he would
be proclaimed Dictator, placed in a carriage instantly, and drawn by an
adoring and grateful people to the Palace of the Tuileries, to live there
for the rest of his natural life. It was natural for Walter to think he
could do all that if he got the chance. But I remember, in planning it
out, he never got much beyond "_Français,_--_mes frères_" and in forty
years this summer, in which time four revolutions have taken place in
France, Walter has never found the opportunity. It is seldom, very seldom,
that in a mixed company it is necessary for a boy of sixteen, or a girl of
fifteen, to get the others out of a difficulty. You may burn to interrupt,
and to cry out "_Français,_--_mes frères_" but you had better bite your
tongue, and sit still. Do not explain that Rio Janeiro is the capital of
Brazil. In a few minutes it will appear that they all knew it, though they
did not mention it, and, by your waiting, you will save yourself horrible

Meanwhile you are learning things in the nicest way in the world. Do not
you think that Amyas Leigh enjoyed what he learned of Guiana and the
Orinoco River much more than you enjoy all you have ever learned of it?
Yes. He learned it all by going there in the company of Walter Raleigh and
sundry other such men. Suppose, George, that you could get the engineers,
Mr. Burnell and Mr. Philipson, to take you with them when they run the
new railroad line, this summer, through the passes of the Adirondack
Mountains. Do you not think you shall enjoy that more even than reading
Mr. Murray's book, far more than studying levelling and surveying in the
first class at the High School. Get a chance to carry chain for them, if
you can. No matter if you lose at school two medals, three diplomas, and
four double promotions by your absence. Come round to me some afternoon,
and I will tell you in an hour all the school-boys learned while you were
away in the mountains; all, I mean, that you cannot make up in a well-used
month after your return.

And please to remember this, all of you, though it seems impossible.
Remember it as a fact, even if you cannot account for it, that though we
all seem so old to you, just as if we were dropping into our graves, we do
not, in practice, feel any older than we did when we were sixteen. True,
we have seen the folly of a good many things which you want to see the
folly of. We do not, therefore, in practice, sit on the rocks in the spray
quite so near to the water as you do; and we go to bed a little earlier,
even on moonlight nights. This is the reason that, when the whole merry
party meet at breakfast, we are a little more apt to be in our places
than--some young people I know. But, for all that, we do not feel any
older than we did when we were sixteen. We enjoy building with blocks as
well, and we can do it a great deal better; we like the "Arabian Nights"
just as well as we ever did; and we can laugh at a good charade quite as
loud as any of you can. So you need not take it on yourselves to suppose
that because you are among "old people,"--by which you mean married
people,--all is lost, and that the hours are to be stupid and forlorn. The
best series of parties, lasting year in and out, that I have ever known,
were in Worcester, Massachusetts, where old and young people associated
together more commonly and frequently than in any other town I ever
happened to live in, and where, for that very reason, society was on the
best footing. I have seen a boy of twelve take a charming lady, three
times his age, down Pearl Street on his sled. And I have ridden in a
riding party to Paradise with twenty other horsemen and with twenty-one
horsewomen, of whom the youngest, Theodora, was younger than you are, and
quite as pretty, and the oldest very likely was a judge on the Supreme
Bench. I will not say that she did not like to have one of the judges ride
up and talk with her quite as well as if she had been left to Ferdinand
Fitz-Mortimer. I will say that some of the Fitz-Mortimer tribe did not
ride as well as they did ten years after.

Above all, dear children, work out in life the problem or the method by
which you shall be a great deal with your father and your mother. There is
no joy in life like the joy you can have with them. Fun or learning,
sorrow or jollity, you can share it with them as with nobody beside. You
are just like your father, Theodora, and you, George, I see your mother's
face in you as you stand behind the bank counter, and I wonder what you
have done with your curls. I say you are just like. I am tempted to say
you are the same. And you can and you will draw in from them notions and
knowledges, lights on life, and impulses and directions which no books
will ever teach you, and which it is a shame to work out from long
experience, when you can--as you can--have them as your birthright.

Chapter XV.

Habits of Reading.

I have devoted two chapters of this book to the matter of Reading,
speaking of the selection of books and of the way to read them. But since
those papers were first printed, I have had I know not how many nice notes
from young people, in all parts of this land, asking all sorts of
additional directions. Where the matter has seemed to me private or local,
I have answered them in private correspondence. But I believe I can bring
together, under the head of "Habits of Heading," some additional notes,
which will at least reinforce what has been said already, and will perhaps
give clearness and detail.

All young people read a good deal, but I do not see that a great deal
comes of it. They think they have to read a good many newspapers and a
good many magazines. These are entertaining,--they are very entertaining.
But it is not always certain that the reader gets from them just what he
needs. On the other hand, it is certain that people who only read the
current newspapers and magazines get very little good from each other's
society, because they are all fed with just the same intellectual food.
You hear them repeat to each other the things they have all read in the
"Daily Trumpet," or the "Saturday Woodpecker." In these things, of
course, there can be but little variety, all the Saturday Woodpeckers of
the same date being very much like each other. When, therefore, the people
in the same circle meet each other, their conversation cannot be called
very entertaining or very improving, if this is all they have to draw
upon. It reminds one of the pictures in people's houses in the days of
"Art Unions." An Art Union gave you, once a year, a very cheap engraving.
But it gave the same engraving to everybody. So, in every house you went
to, for one year, you saw the same men dancing on a flat-boat. Then, a
year after, you saw Queen Mary signing Lady Jane Grey's death-warrant. She
kept signing it all the time. You might make seventeen visits in an
afternoon. Everywhere you saw her signing away on that death-warrant. You
came to be very tired of the death-warrant and of Queen Mary. Well, that
is much the same way in which seventeen people improve each other, who
have all been reading the "Daily Trumpet" and the "Saturday Woodpecker,"
and have read nothing beside.

I see no objection, however, to light reading, desultory reading, the
reading of newspapers, or the reading of fiction, if you take enough
ballast with it, so that these light kites, as the sailors call them, may
not carry your ship over in some sudden gale. The principle of sound
habits of reading, if reduced to a precise rule, comes out thus: That for
each hour of light reading, of what we read for amusement, we ought to
take another hour of reading for instruction. Nor have I any objection to
stating the same rule backward; for that is a poor rule that will not
work both ways. It is, I think, true, that for every hour we give to
grave reading, it is well to give a corresponding hour to what is light
and amusing.

Now a great deal more is possible under this rule than you boys and girls
think at first. Some of the best students in the world, who have advanced
its affairs farthest in their particular lines, have not in practice
studied more than two hours a day. Walter Scott, except when he was goaded
to death, did not work more. Dr. Bowditch translated the great _Mécanique
Céleste_ in less than two hours' daily labor. I have told you already of
George Livermore. But then this work was regular as the movement of the
planets which Dr. Bowditch and La Place described. It did not stop for
whim or by accident, more than Jupiter stops in his orbit because a
holiday comes round.

"But what in the world do you suppose Mr. Hale means by 'grave reading,'
or 'improving reading'? Does he mean only those stupid books that 'no
gentleman's library should be without'? I suppose somebody reads them at
some time, or they would not be printed; but I am sure I do not know when
or where or how to begin." This is what Theodora says to Florence, when
they have read thus far.

Let us see. In the first place, you are not, all of you, to attempt
everything. Do one thing well, and read one subject well; that is much
better than reading ten subjects shabbily and carelessly. What is your
subject? It is not hard to find that out. Here you are, living perhaps on
the very road on which the English troops marched to Lexington and
Concord. In one of the beams of the barn there is a hole made by a
musket-ball, which was fired as they retreated. How much do you know of
that march of theirs? How much have you read of the accounts that were
written of it the next day? Have you ever read Bancroft's account of it?
or Botta's? or Frothingham's? There is a large book, which you can get at
without much difficulty, called the "American Archives." The Congress of
this country ordered its preparation, at immense expense, that you and
people like you might be able to study, in detail, the early history in
the original documents, which are reprinted there. In that book you will
find the original accounts of the battle as they were published in the
next issues of the Massachusetts newspapers. You will find the official
reports written home by the English officers. You will find the accounts
published by order of the Provincial Congress. When you have read these,
you begin to know something about the battle of Lexington.

Then there are such books as General Heath's Memoirs, written by people
who were in the battle, giving their account of what passed, and how it
was done. If you really want to know about a piece of history which
transpired in part under the windows of your house, you will find you can
very soon bring together the improving and very agreeable solid reading
which my rule demands.

Perhaps you do not live by the road that leads to Lexington. Everybody
does not. Still you live somewhere, and you live next to something. As Dr.
Thaddeus Harris said to me (Yes, Harry, the same who made your
insect-book), "If you have nothing else to study, you can study the mosses
and lichens hanging on the logs on the woodpile in the woodhouse." Try
that winter botany. Observe for yourself, and bring together the books
that will teach you the laws of growth of those wonderful plants. At the
end of a winter of such careful study I believe you could have more
knowledge of God's work in that realm of nature than any man in America
now has, if I except perhaps some five or six of the most distinguished

I have told you about making your own index to any important book you
read. I ought to have advised you somewhere not to buy many books. If you
are reading in books from a library, never, as you are a decently
well-behaved boy or girl, never make any sort of mark upon a page which is
not your own. All you need, then, for your index, is a little page of
paper, folded in where you can use it for a book-mark, on which you will
make the same memorandum which you would have made on the fly-leaf, were
the book your own. In this case you will keep these memorandum pages
together in your scrap-book, so that you can easily find them. And if, as
is very likely, you have to refer to the book afterward, in another
edition, you will be glad if your first reference has been so precise that
you can easily find the place, although the paging is changed. John
Locke's rule is this: Refer to the page, with another reference to the
number of pages in the volume. At the same time tell how many volumes
there are in the set you use. You would enter Charles II.'s escape from
England, as described in the Pictorial History of England, thus:--

"Charles II. escapes after battle of Worcester.

"Pictorial Hist. Eng. 391/855, Vol 3/4."

You will have but little difficulty in finding your place in any
edition of the Pictorial History, if you have made as careful a
reference as this is.

My own pupils, if I may so call the young friends who read with me, will
laugh when they see the direction that you go to the original authorities
whenever you can do so. For I send them on very hard-working tramps, that
they may find the original authorities, and perhaps they think that I am a
little particular about it. Of course, it depends a good deal on what your
circumstances are, whether you can go to the originals. But if you are
near a large library, the sooner you can cultivate the habit of looking in
the original writers, the more will you enjoy the study of history, of
biography, of geography, or of any other subject. It is stupid enough to
learn at school, that the Bay of God's Mercy is in N. Latitude 73°, W.
Longitude 117°. But read Captain McClure's account of the way the Resolute
ran into the Bay of God's Mercy, and what good reason he had for naming it
so, and I think you will never again forget where it is, or look on the
words as only the answer to a stupid "map question."

I was saying very much what I have been writing, last Thursday, to Ella,
with whom I had a nice day's sail; and she, who is only too eager about
her reading and study, said she did not know where to begin. She felt her
ignorance so terribly about every separate thing that she wanted to take
hold everywhere. She had been reading Lothair, and found she knew nothing
about Garibaldi and the battle of Aspramonte. Then she had been talking
about the long Arctic days with a traveller, and she found she knew
nothing about the Arctic regions. She was ashamed to go to a concert, and
not know the difference between the lives of Mozart and of Mendelssohn. I
had to tell Ella, what I have said to you, that we cannot all of us do all
things. Far less can we do them all at once. I reminded her of the rule
for European travelling,--which you may be sure is good,--that it is
better to spend three days in one place than one day each in three places.
And I told Ella that she must apply the same rule to subjects. Take these
very instances. If she really gets well acquainted with Mendelssohn's
life,--feels that she knows him, his habit of writing, and what made him
what he was,--she will enjoy every piece of his music she ever hears with
ten times the interest it had for her before. But if she looks him out in
a cyclopædia and forgets him, and looks out Mercadante and forgets him,
and finally mixes up Mozart and Mercadante and Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer,
because all four of these names begin with M, why, she will be where a
great many very nice boys and girls are who go to concerts, but where as
sensible a girl as Ella does not want to be, and where I hope none of you
want to be for whom I am writing.

But perhaps this is more than need be said after what is in Chapters V.
and VI. Now you may put down this book and read for recreation. Shall it
be the "Bloody Dagger," or shall it be the "Injured Grandmother"?

Chapter XVI.

Getting Ready.

When I have written a quarter part of this paper the horse and wagon will
be brought round, and I shall call for Ferguson and Putnam to go with me
for a swim. When I stop at Ferguson's house, he will himself come to the
door with his bag of towels,--I shall not even leave the wagon,--Ferguson
will jump in, and then we shall drive to Putnam's. When we come to
Putnam's house, Ferguson will jump out and ring the bell. A girl will come
to the door, and Ferguson will ask her to tell Horace that we have come
for him. She will look a little confused, as if she did not know where he
was, but she will go and find him. Ferguson and I will wait in the wagon
three or four minutes and then Horace will come. Ferguson will ask him if
he has his towels, and he will say, "O no, I laid them down when I was
packing my lunch," and he will run and get them. Just as we start, he
will ask me to excuse him just a moment, and he will run back for a letter
his father wants him to post as we come home. Then we shall go and have a
good swim together. [Footnote: P. S.--We have been and returned, and all
has happened substantially as I said.]

Now, in the regular line of literature made and provided for young people,
I should go on and make out that Ferguson, simply by his habit of
promptness and by being in the right place when he is needed, would rise
rapidly to the highest posts of honor and command, becoming indeed Khan of
Tartary, or President of the United States, as the exigencies and costume
of the story might require. But Horace, merely from not being ready on
occasion, would miserably decline, and come to a wretched felon's end;
owing it, indeed, only to the accident of his early acquaintance with
Ferguson, that, when the sheriff is about to hang him, a pardon arrives
just in time from him (the President). But I shall not carry out for you
any such horrible picture of these two good fellows' fates. In my
judgment, one of these results is almost as horrible as is the other. I
will tell you, however, that the habit of being ready is going to make for
Ferguson a great deal of comfort in this world, and bring him in a great
deal of enjoyment. And, on the other hand, Horace the Unready, as they
would have called him in French history, will work through a great deal of
discomfort and mortification before he rids himself of the habit which I
have illustrated for you. It is true that he has a certain rapidity, which
somebody calls "shiftiness," of resolution and of performance, which gets
him out of his scrapes as rapidly as he gets in. But there is a good deal
of vital power lost in getting in and getting out, which might be spent to
better purpose,--for pure enjoyment, or for helping other people to pure

The art of getting ready, then, shall be the closing subject of this
little series of papers. Of course, in the wider sense, all education
might be called the art of getting ready, as, in the broadest sense of
all, I hope all you children remember every day that the whole of this
life is the getting ready for life beyond this. Bear that in mind, and you
will not say that this is a trivial accomplishment of Ferguson's, which
makes him always a welcome companion, often and often gives him the power
of rendering a favor to somebody who has forgotten something, and, in
short, in the twenty-four hours of every day, gives to him "all the time
there is." It is also one of those accomplishments, as I believe, which
can readily be learned or gained, not depending materially on temperament
or native constitution. It comes almost of course to a person who has his
various powers well in hand,--who knows what he can do, and what he cannot
do, and does not attempt more than he can perform. On the other hand, it
is an accomplishment very difficult of acquirement to a boy who has not
yet found what he is good for, who has forty irons in the fire, and is
changing from one to another as rapidly as the circus-rider changes, or
seems to change, from Mr. Pickwick to Sam Weller.

Form the habit, then, of looking at to-morrow as if you were the master
of to-morrow, and not its slave. "There's no such word as fail!" That is
what Richelieu says to the boy, and in the real conviction that you can
control such circumstances as made Horace late for our ride, you have the
power that will master them. As Mrs. Henry said to her husband, about
leaping over the high bar,--"Throw your heart over, John, and your heels
will go over." That is a very fine remark, and it covers a great many
problems in life besides those of circus-riding. You are, thus far, master
of to-morrow. It has not outflanked you, nor circumvented you at any
point. You do not propose that it shall. What, then, is the first thing to
be sought by way of "getting ready," of preparation?

It is vivid imagination of to-morrow. Ask in advance, What time does the
train start? _Answer_, "Seven minutes of eight." What time is breakfast?
_Answer_, "For the family, half past seven." Then I will now, lest it be
forgotten, ask Mary to give me a cup of coffee at seven fifteen; and, lest
she should forget it, I will write it on this card, and she may tuck the
card in her kitchen-clock case. What have I to take in the train?
_Answer_, "Father's foreign letters, to save the English mail, my own
'Young Folks' to be bound, and Fanny's breast-pin for a new pin." Then I
hang my hand-bag now on the peg under my hat, put into it the "Young
Folks" and the breast-pin box, and ask father to put into it the English
letters when they are done. Do you not see that the more exact the work of
the imagination on Tuesday, the less petty strain will there be on memory
when Wednesday comes? If you have made that preparation, you may lie in
bed Wednesday morning till the very moment which shall leave you time
enough for washing and dressing; then you may take your breakfast
comfortably, may strike your train accurately, and attend to your
commissions easily. Whereas Horace, on his method of life, would have to
get up early to be sure that his things were brought together, in the
confusion of the morning would not be able to find No. 11 of the "Young
Folks," in looking for that would lose his breakfast, and afterwards would
lose the train, and, looking back on his day, would find that he rose
early, came to town late, and did not get to the bookbinder's, after all.
The relief from such blunders and annoyance comes, I say, in a lively
habit of imagination, forecasting the thing that is to be done. Once
forecast in its detail, it is very easy to get ready for it.

Do you not remember, in "Swiss Family Robinson," that when they came to a
very hard pinch for want of twine or scissors or nails, the mother,
Elizabeth, always had it in her "wonderful bag"? I was young enough when I
first read "Swiss Family" to be really taken in by this, and to think it
magic. Indeed, I supposed the bag to be a lady's work-bag of beads or
melon-seeds, such as were then in fashion, and to have such quantities of
things come out of it was in no wise short of magic. It was not for many,
many years that I observed that Francis sat on this bag in his tub, as
they sailed to the shore. In those later years, however, I also noticed a
sneer of Ernest's which I had overlooked before. He says, "I do not see
anything very wonderful in taking out of a bag the same thing you have
put into it." But his wise father says that it is the presence of mind
which in the midst of shipwreck put the right things into the bag which
makes the wonder. Now, in daily life, what we need for the comfort and
readiness of the next day is such forecast and presence of mind, with a
vivid imagination of the various exigencies it will bring us to.

Jo Matthew was the most prompt and ready person, with one exception, whom
I have ever had to deal with. I hope Jo will read this. If he does, will
he not write to me? I said to Jo once when we were at work together in the
barn, that I wished I had his knack of laying down a tool so carefully
that he knew just where to find it. "Ah," said he, laughing, "we learned
that in the cotton-mill. When you are running four looms, if something
gives way, it will not do to be going round asking where this or where
that is." Now Jo's answer really fits all life very well. The tide will
not wait, dear Pauline, while you are asking, "Where is my blue bow?" Nor
will the train wait, dear George, while you are asking, "Where is my
Walton's Arithmetic?"

We are all in a great mill, and we can master it, or it will master us,
just as we choose to be ready or not ready for the opening and shutting of
its opportunities.

I remember that when Haliburton was visiting General Hooker's
head-quarters, he arrived just as the General, with a brilliant staff, was
about to ride out to make an interesting examination of the position. He
asked Haliburton if he would join them, and, when Haliburton accepted the
invitation gladly, he bade an aid mount him. The aid asked Haliburton what
sort of horse he would have, and Haliburton said he would--and he knew he
could--"ride anything." He is a thorough horseman. You see what a pleasure
it was to him that he was perfectly ready for that contingency, wholly
unexpected as it was. I like to hear him tell the story, and I often
repeat it to young people, who wonder why some persons get forward so much
more easily than others. Warburton, at the same moment, would have had to
apologize, and say he would stay in camp writing letters, though he would
have had nothing to say. For Warburton had never ridden horses to water or
to the blacksmith's, and could not have mounted on the stupidest beast in
the head-quarters encampment. The difference between the two men is simply
that the one is ready and the other is not.

Nothing comes amiss in the great business of preparation, if it has been
thoroughly well learned. And the strangest things come of use, too, at the
strangest times. A sailor teaches you to tie a knot when you are on a
fishing party, and you tie that knot the next time when you are patching
up the Emperor of Russia's carriage for him, in a valley in the Ural
Mountains. But "getting ready" does not mean the piling in of a heap of
accidental accomplishments. It means sedulously examining the coming duty
or pleasure, imagining it even in its details, decreeing the utmost
punctuality so far as you are concerned, and thus entering upon them as a
knight armed from head to foot. This is the man whom Wordsworth

  "Who, if he be called upon to face
  Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined
  Great issues, good or bad for human kind,
  Is happy as a Lover; and attired
  With sudden brightness, like a man inspired;
  And through the heat of conflict keeps the law
  In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw;
  Or if an unexpected call succeed,
  Come when it will, is equal to the need."

The End.

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operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.