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Title: The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner — Volume 1
Author: Warner, Charles Dudley
Language: English
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The Complete Writings of Charles Dudley Warner Volume 1




MY DEAR MR. FIELDS,--I did promise to write an Introduction to these
charming papers but an Introduction,--what is it?--a sort of
pilaster, put upon the face of a building for looks' sake, and
usually flat,--very flat.  Sometimes it may be called a caryatid,
which is, as I understand it, a cruel device of architecture,
representing a man or a woman, obliged to hold up upon his or her
head or shoulders a structure which they did not build, and which
could stand just as well without as with them.  But an Introduction
is more apt to be a pillar, such as one may see in Baalbec, standing
up in the air all alone, with nothing on it, and with nothing for it
to do.

But an Introductory Letter is different.  There is in that no
formality, no assumption of function, no awkward propriety or dignity
to be sustained.  A letter at the opening of a book may be only a
footpath, leading the curious to a favorable point of observation,
and then leaving them to wander as they will.

Sluggards have been sent to the ant for wisdom; but writers might
better be sent to the spider, not because he works all night, and
watches all day, but because he works unconsciously.  He dare not
even bring his work before his own eyes, but keeps it behind him, as
if too much knowledge of what one is doing would spoil the delicacy
and modesty of one's work.

Almost all graceful and fanciful work is born like a dream, that
comes noiselessly, and tarries silently, and goes as a bubble bursts.
And yet somewhere work must come in,--real, well-considered work.

Inness (the best American painter of Nature in her moods of real
human feeling) once said, "No man can do anything in art, unless he
has intuitions; but, between whiles, one must work hard in collecting
the materials out of which intuitions are made."  The truth could not
be hit off better.  Knowledge is the soil, and intuitions are the
flowers which grow up out of it.  The soil must be well enriched and

It is very plain, or will be to those who read these papers, now
gathered up into this book, as into a chariot for a race, that the
author has long employed his eyes, his ears, and his understanding,
in observing and considering the facts of Nature, and in weaving
curious analogies.  Being an editor of one of the oldest daily news-
papers in New England, and obliged to fill its columns day after day
(as the village mill is obliged to render every day so many sacks of
flour or of meal to its hungry customers), it naturally occurred to
him, "Why not write something which I myself, as well as my readers,
shall enjoy?  The market gives them facts enough; politics, lies
enough; art, affectations enough; criminal news, horrors enough;
fashion, more than enough of vanity upon vanity, and vexation of
purse.  Why should they not have some of those wandering and joyous
fancies which solace my hours?"

The suggestion ripened into execution.  Men and women read, and
wanted more.  These garden letters began to blossom every week; and
many hands were glad to gather pleasure from them.  A sign it was of
wisdom.  In our feverish days it is a sign of health or of
convalescence that men love gentle pleasure, and enjoyments that do
not rush or roar, but distill as the dew.

The love of rural life, the habit of finding enjoyment in familiar
things, that susceptibility to Nature which keeps the nerve gently
thrilled in her homliest nooks and by her commonest sounds, is worth
a thousand fortunes of money, or its equivalents.

Every book which interprets the secret lore of fields and gardens,
every essay that brings men nearer to the understanding of the
mysteries which every tree whispers, every brook murmurs, every weed,
even, hints, is a contribution to the wealth and the happiness of our
kind.  And if the lines of the writer shall be traced in quaint
characters, and be filled with a grave humor, or break out at times
into merriment, all this will be no presumption against their wisdom
or his goodness.  Is the oak less strong and tough because the mosses
and weather-stains stick in all manner of grotesque sketches along
its bark?  Now, truly, one may not learn from this little book either
divinity or horticulture; but if he gets a pure happiness, and a
tendency to repeat the happiness from the simple stores of Nature, he
will gain from our friend's garden what Adam lost in his, and what
neither philosophy nor divinity has always been able to restore.

Wherefore, thanking you for listening to a former letter, which
begged you to consider whether these curious and ingenious papers,
that go winding about like a half-trodden path between the garden and
the field, might not be given in book-form to your million readers, I
remain, yours to command in everything but the writing of an



MY DEAR POLLY,--When a few of these papers had appeared in "The
Courant," I was encouraged to continue them by hearing that they had
at least one reader who read them with the serious mind from which
alone profit is to be expected.  It was a maiden lady, who, I am
sure, was no more to blame for her singleness than for her age; and
she looked to these honest sketches of experience for that aid which
the professional agricultural papers could not give in the management
of the little bit of garden which she called her own.  She may have
been my only disciple; and I confess that the thought of her yielding
a simple faith to what a gainsaying world may have regarded with
levity has contributed much to give an increased practical turn to my
reports of what I know about gardening.  The thought that I had
misled a lady, whose age is not her only singularity, who looked to
me for advice which should be not at all the fanciful product of the
Garden of Gull, would give me great pain.  I trust that her autumn is
a peaceful one, and undisturbed by either the humorous or the
satirical side of Nature.

You know that this attempt to tell the truth about one of the most
fascinating occupations in the world has not been without its
dangers.  I have received anonymous letters.  Some of them were
murderously spelled; others were missives in such elegant phrase and
dress, that danger was only to be apprehended in them by one skilled
in the mysteries of medieval poisoning, when death flew on the wings
of a perfume.  One lady, whose entreaty that I should pause had
something of command in it, wrote that my strictures on "pusley " had
so inflamed her husband's zeal, that, in her absence in the country,
he had rooted up all her beds of portulaca (a sort of cousin of the
fat weed), and utterly cast it out.  It is, however, to be expected,
that retributive justice would visit the innocent as well as the
guilty of an offending family.  This is only another proof of the
wide sweep of moral forces.  I suppose that it is as necessary in the
vegetable world as it is elsewhere to avoid the appearance of evil.

In offering you the fruit of my garden, which has been gathered from
week to week, without much reference to the progress of the crops or
the drought, I desire to acknowledge an influence which has lent half
the charm to my labor.  If I were in a court of justice, or
injustice, under oath, I should not like to say, that, either in the
wooing days of spring, or under the suns of the summer solstice, you
had been, either with hoe, rake, or miniature spade, of the least use
in the garden; but your suggestions have been invaluable, and,
whenever used, have been paid for.  Your horticultural inquiries have
been of a nature to astonish the vegetable world, if it listened, and
were a constant inspiration to research.  There was almost nothing
that you did not wish to know; and this, added to what I wished to
know, made a boundless field for discovery.  What might have become
of the garden, if your advice had been followed, a good Providence
only knows; but I never worked there without a consciousness that you
might at any moment come down the walk, under the grape-arbor,
bestowing glances of approval, that were none the worse for not being
critical; exercising a sort of superintendence that elevated
gardening into a fine art; expressing a wonder that was as
complimentary to me as it was to Nature; bringing an atmosphere which
made the garden a region of romance, the soil of which was set apart
for fruits native to climes unseen.  It was this bright presence that
filled the garden, as it did the summer, with light, and now leaves
upon it that tender play of color and bloom which is called among the
Alps the after-glow.

NOOK FARM, HARTFORD, October, 1870

C.  D.  W.


The love of dirt is among the earliest of passions, as it is the
latest.  Mud-pies gratify one of our first and best instincts.  So
long as we are dirty, we are pure.  Fondness for the ground comes
back to a man after he has run the round of pleasure and business,
eaten dirt, and sown wild-oats, drifted about the world, and taken
the wind of all its moods.  The love of digging in the ground (or of
looking on while he pays another to dig) is as sure to come back to
him as he is sure, at last, to go under the ground, and stay there.
To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds and
watch, their renewal of life, this is the commonest delight of the
race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do.  When Cicero writes
of the pleasures of old age, that of agriculture is chief among them:

"Venio nunc ad voluptates agricolarum, quibus ego incredibiliter
delector: quae nec ulla impediuntur senectute, et mihi ad sapientis
vitam proxime videntur accedere." (I am driven to Latin because New
York editors have exhausted the English language in the praising of
spring, and especially of the month of May.)

Let us celebrate the soil.  Most men toil that they may own a piece
of it; they measure their success in life by their ability to buy it.
It is alike the passion of the parvenu and the pride of the
aristocrat.  Broad acres are a patent of nobility; and no man but
feels more, of a man in the world if he have a bit of ground that he
can call his own.  However small it is on the surface, it is four
thousand miles deep; and that is a very handsome property.  And there
is a great pleasure in working in the soil, apart from the ownership
of it.  The man who has planted a garden feels that he has done
something for the good of the World.  He belongs to the producers.
It is a pleasure to eat of the fruit of one's toil, if it be nothing
more than a head of lettuce or an ear of corn.  One cultivates a lawn
even with great satisfaction; for there is nothing more beautiful
than grass and turf in our latitude.  The tropics may have their
delights, but they have not turf: and the world without turf is a
dreary desert.  The original Garden of Eden could not have had such
turf as one sees in England.  The Teutonic races all love turf: they
emigrate in the line of its growth.

To dig in the mellow soil-to dig moderately, for all pleasure should
be taken sparingly--is a great thing.  One gets strength out of the
ground as often as one really touches it with a hoe.  Antaeus (this
is a classical article) was no doubt an agriculturist; and such a
prize-fighter as Hercules could n't do anything with him till he got
him to lay down his spade, and quit the soil.  It is not simply beets
and potatoes and corn and string-beans that one raises in his well-
hoed garden: it is the average of human life.  There is life in the
ground; it goes into the seeds; and it also, when it is stirred up,
goes into the man who stirs it.  The hot sun on his back as he bends
to his shovel and hoe, or contemplatively rakes the warm and fragrant
loam, is better than much medicine.  The buds are coming out on the
bushes round about; the blossoms of the fruit trees begin to show;
the blood is running up the grapevines in streams; you can smell the
Wild flowers on the near bank; and the birds are flying and glancing
and singing everywhere.  To the open kitchen door comes the busy
housewife to shake a white something, and stands a moment to look,
quite transfixed by the delightful sights and sounds.  Hoeing in the
garden on a bright, soft May day, when you are not obliged to, is
nearly equal to the delight of going trouting.

Blessed be agriculture! if one does not have too much of it.  All
literature is fragrant with it, in a gentlemanly way.  At the foot of
the charming olive-covered hills of Tivoli, Horace (not he of
Chappaqua) had a sunny farm: it was in sight of Hadrian's villa, who
did landscape gardening on an extensive scale, and probably did not
get half as much comfort out of it as Horace did from his more simply
tilled acres.  We trust that Horace did a little hoeing and farming
himself, and that his verse is not all fraudulent sentiment.  In
order to enjoy agriculture, you do not want too much of it, and you
want to be poor enough to have a little inducement to work moderately
yourself.  Hoe while it is spring, and enjoy the best anticipations.
It is not much matter if things do not turn out well.


Under this modest title, I purpose to write a series of papers, some
of which will be like many papers of garden-seeds, with nothing vital
in them, on the subject of gardening; holding that no man has any
right to keep valuable knowledge to himself, and hoping that those
who come after me, except tax-gatherers and that sort of person, will
find profit in the perusal of my experience.  As my knowledge is
constantly increasing, there is likely to be no end to these papers.
They will pursue no orderly system of agriculture or horticulture,
but range from topic to topic, according to the weather and the
progress of the weeds, which may drive me from one corner of the
garden to the other.

The principal value of a private garden is not understood.  It is not
to give the possessor vegetables or fruit (that can be better and
cheaper done by the market-gardeners), but to teach him patience
and philosophy and the higher virtues, -hope deferred and
expectations blighted, leading directly to resignation and sometimes
to alienation.  The garden thus becomes a moral agent, a test of
character, as it was in the beginning.  I shall keep this central
truth in mind in these articles.  I mean to have a moral garden, if
it is not a productive one,--one that shall teach., O my brothers!
O my sisters! the great lessons of life.

The first pleasant thing about a garden in this latitude is, that you
never know when to set it going.  If you want anything to come to
maturity early, you must start it in a hot-house.  If you put it out
early, the chances are all in favor of getting it nipped with frost;
for the thermometer will be 90 deg. one day, and go below 32 deg. the
night of the day following.  And, if you do not set out plants or sow
seeds early, you fret continually; knowing that your vegetables will
be late, and that, while Jones has early peas, you will be watching
your slow-forming pods.  This keeps you in a state of mind.  When you
have planted anything early, you are doubtful whether to desire to
see it above ground, or not.  If a hot day comes, you long to see the
young plants; but, when a cold north wind brings frost, you tremble
lest the seeds have burst their bands.  Your spring is passed in
anxious doubts and fears, which are usually realized; and so a great
moral discipline is worked out for you.

Now, there is my corn, two or three inches high this 18th of May, and
apparently having no fear of a frost.  I was hoeing it this morning
for the first time,--it is not well usually to hoe corn until about
the 18th of May,--when Polly came out to look at the Lima beans.  She
seemed to think the poles had come up beautifully.  I thought they
did look well: they are a fine set of poles, large and well grown,
and stand straight.  They were inexpensive, too.  The cheapness came
about from my cutting them on another man's land, and he did not know
it.  I have not examined this transaction in the moral light of
gardening; but I know people in this country take great liberties at
the polls.  Polly noticed that the beans had not themselves come up
in any proper sense, but that the dirt had got off from them, leaving
them uncovered.  She thought it would be well to sprinkle a slight
layer of dirt over them; and I, indulgently, consented.  It occurred
to me, when she had gone, that beans always come up that way,--wrong
end first; and that what they wanted was light, and not dirt.

Observation.  --Woman always did, from the first, make a muss in a

I inherited with my garden a large patch of raspberries.  Splendid
berry the raspberry, when the strawberry has gone.  This patch has
grown into such a defiant attitude, that you could not get within
several feet of it.  Its stalks were enormous in size, and cast out
long, prickly arms in all directions; but the bushes were pretty much
all dead.  I have walked into them a good deal with a pruning-knife;
but it is very much like fighting original sin.  The variety is one
that I can recommend.  I think it is called Brinckley's Orange.  It
is exceedingly prolific, and has enormous stalks.  The fruit is also
said to be good; but that does not matter so much, as the plant does
not often bear in this region.  The stalks seem to be biennial
institutions; and as they get about their growth one year, and bear
the next year, and then die, and the winters here nearly always kill
them, unless you take them into the house (which is inconvenient if
you have a family of small children), it is very difficult to induce
the plant to flower and fruit.  This is the greatest objection there
is to this sort of raspberry.  I think of keeping these for
discipline, and setting out some others, more hardy sorts, for fruit.


Next to deciding when to start your garden, the most important matter
is, what to put in it.  It is difficult to decide what to order for
dinner on a given day: how much more oppressive is it to order in a
lump an endless vista of dinners, so to speak!  For, unless your
garden is a boundless prairie (and mine seems to me to be that when I
hoe it on hot days), you must make a selection, from the great
variety of vegetables, of those you will raise in it; and you feel
rather bound to supply your own table from your own garden, and to
eat only as you have sown.

I hold that no man has a right (whatever his sex, of course) to have
a garden to his own selfish uses.  He ought not to please himself,
but every man to please his neighbor.  I tried to have a garden that
would give general moral satisfaction.  It seemed to me that nobody
could object to potatoes (a most useful vegetable); and I began to
plant them freely.  But there was a chorus of protest against them.
"You don't want to take up your ground with potatoes," the neighbors
said; "you can buy potatoes" (the very thing I wanted to avoid doing
is buying things).  "What you want is the perishable things that you
cannot get fresh in the market."--"But what kind of perishable
things?"  A horticulturist of eminence wanted me to sow lines of
straw-berries and raspberries right over where I had put my potatoes
in drills.  I had about five hundred strawberry-plants in another
part of my garden; but this fruit-fanatic wanted me to turn my whole
patch into vines and runners.  I suppose I could raise strawberries
enough for all my neighbors; and perhaps I ought to do it.  I had a
little space prepared for melons,--muskmelons,--which I showed to an
experienced friend.

You are not going to waste your ground on muskmelons?" he asked.
"They rarely ripen in this climate thoroughly, before frost." He had
tried for years without luck.  I resolved to not go into such a
foolish experiment.  But, the next day, another neighbor happened in.
"Ah! I see you are going to have melons.  My family would rather give
up anything else in the garden than musk-melons,--of the nutmeg
variety.  They are the most grateful things we have on the table."
So there it was.  There was no compromise: it was melons, or no
melons, and somebody offended in any case.  I half resolved to plant
them a little late, so that they would, and they would n't.  But I
had the same difficulty about string-beans (which I detest), and
squash (which I tolerate), and parsnips, and the whole round of green

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that you have got to put
your foot down in gardening.  If I had actually taken counsel of my
friends, I should not have had a thing growing in the garden to-day
but weeds.  And besides, while you are waiting, Nature does not wait.
Her mind is made up.  She knows just what she will raise; and she has
an infinite variety of early and late.  The most humiliating thing to
me about a garden is the lesson it teaches of the inferiority of man.
Nature is prompt, decided, inexhaustible.  She thrusts up her plants
with a vigor and freedom that I admire; and the more worthless the
plant, the more rapid and splendid its growth.  She is at it early
and late, and all night; never tiring, nor showing the least sign of

"Eternal gardening is the price of liberty," is a motto that I should
put over the gateway of my garden, if I had a gate.  And yet it is
not wholly true; for there is no liberty in gardening.  The man who
undertakes a garden is relentlessly pursued.  He felicitates himself
that, when he gets it once planted, he will have a season of rest and
of enjoyment in the sprouting and growing of his seeds.  It is a
green anticipation.  He has planted a seed that will keep him awake
nights; drive rest from his bones, and sleep from his pillow.  Hardly
is the garden planted, when he must begin to hoe it.  The weeds have
sprung up all over it in a night.  They shine and wave in redundant
life.  The docks have almost gone to seed; and their roots go deeper
than conscience.  Talk about the London Docks!--the roots of these
are like the sources of the Aryan race.  And the weeds are not all.
I awake in the morning (and a thriving garden will wake a person up
two hours before he ought to be out of bed) and think of the
tomato-plants,--the leaves like fine lace-work, owing to black bugs
that skip around, and can't be caught.  Somebody ought to get up
before the dew is off (why don't the dew stay on till after a
reasonable breakfast?) and sprinkle soot on the leaves.  I wonder if
it is I.  Soot is so much blacker than the bugs, that they are
disgusted, and go away.  You can't get up too early, if you have a
garden.  You must be early due yourself, if you get ahead of the
bugs.  I think, that, on the whole, it would be best to sit up all
night, and sleep daytimes.  Things appear to go on in the night in
the garden uncommonly.  It would be less trouble to stay up than it
is to get up so early.

I have been setting out some new raspberries, two sorts,--a silver
and a gold color.  How fine they will look on the table next year in
a cut-glass dish, the cream being in a ditto pitcher!  I set them
four and five feet apart.  I set my strawberries pretty well apart
also.  The reason is, to give room for the cows to run through when
they break into the garden,--as they do sometimes.  A cow needs a
broader track than a locomotive; and she generally makes one.  I am
sometimes astonished, to see how big a space in, a flower-bed her
foot will cover.  The raspberries are called Doolittle and Golden
Cap.  I don't like the name of the first variety, and, if they do
much, shall change it to Silver Top.  You never can tell what a thing
named Doolittle will do.  The one in the Senate changed color, and
got sour.  They ripen badly,--either mildew, or rot on the bush.
They are apt to Johnsonize,--rot on the stem.  I shall watch the


I believe that I have found, if not original sin, at least vegetable
total depravity in my garden; and it was there before I went into it.
It is the bunch, or joint, or snakegrass,--whatever it is called.  As
I do not know the names of all the weeds and plants, I have to do as
Adam did in his garden,--name things as I find them.  This grass has
a slender, beautiful stalk : and when you cut it down) or pull up a
long root of it, you fancy it is got rid of; but in a day or two it
will come up in the same spot in half a dozen vigorous blades.
Cutting down and pulling up is what it thrives on.  Extermination
rather helps it.  If you follow a slender white root, it will be
found to run under the ground until it meets another slender white
root; and you will soon unearth a network of them, with a knot
somewhere, sending out dozens of sharp-pointed, healthy shoots, every
joint prepared to be an independent life and plant.  The only way to
deal with it is to take one part hoe and two parts fingers, and
carefully dig it out, not leaving a joint anywhere.  It will take a
little time, say all summer, to dig out thoroughly a small patch; but
if you once dig it out, and keep it out, you will have no further

I have said it was total depravity.  Here it is.  If you attempt to
pull up and root out any sin in you, which shows on the surface,--if
it does not show, you do not care for it,--you may have noticed how
it runs into an interior network of sins, and an ever-sprouting
branch of them roots somewhere; and that you cannot pull out one
without making a general internal disturbance, and rooting up your
whole being.  I suppose it is less trouble to quietly cut them off at
the top--say once a week, on Sunday, when you put on your religious
clothes and face so that no one will see them, and not try to
eradicate the network within.

Remark.--This moral vegetable figure is at the service of any
clergyman who will have the manliness to come forward and help me at
a day's hoeing on my potatoes.  None but the orthodox need apply.

I, however, believe in the intellectual, if not the moral, qualities
of vegetables, and especially weeds.  There was a worthless vine that
(or who) started up about midway between a grape-trellis and a row of
bean-poles, some three feet from each, but a little nearer the
trellis.  When it came out of the ground, it looked around to see
what it should do.  The trellis was already occupied.  The bean-pole
was empty.  There was evidently a little the best chance of light,
air, and sole proprietorship on the pole.  And the vine started for
the pole, and began to climb it with determination.  Here was as
distinct an act of choice, of reason, as a boy exercises when he goes
into a forest, and, looking about, decides which tree he will climb.
And, besides, how did the vine know enough to travel in exactly the
right direction, three feet, to find what it wanted?  This is
intellect.  The weeds, on the other hand, have hateful moral
qualities.  To cut down a weed is, therefore, to do a moral action.
I feel as if I were destroying sin.  My hoe becomes an instrument of
retributive justice.  I am an apostle of Nature.  This view of the
matter lends a dignity to the art of hoeing which nothing else does,
and lifts it into the region of ethics.  Hoeing becomes, not a
pastime, but a duty.  And you get to regard it so, as the days and
the weeds lengthen.

Observation.--Nevertheless, what a man needs in gardening is a
cast-iron back,--with a hinge in it.  The hoe is an ingenious
instrument, calculated to call out a great deal of strength at a
great disadvantage.

The striped bug has come, the saddest of the year.  He is a moral
double-ender, iron-clad at that.  He is unpleasant in two ways.  He
burrows in the ground so that you cannot find him, and he flies away
so that you cannot catch him.  He is rather handsome, as bugs go, but
utterly dastardly, in that he gnaws the stem of the plant close to
the ground, and ruins it without any apparent advantage to himself.
I find him on the hills of cucumbers (perhaps it will be a
cholera-year, and we shall not want any), the squashes (small loss),
and the melons (which never ripen).  The best way to deal with the
striped bug is to sit down by the hills, and patiently watch for him.
If you are spry, you can annoy him.  This, however, takes time.  It
takes all day and part of the night.  For he flieth in darkness, and
wasteth at noonday.  If you get up before the dew is off the plants,-
-it goes off very early,--you can sprinkle soot on the plant (soot is
my panacea: if I can get the disease of a plant reduced to the
necessity of soot, I am all right)and soot is unpleasant to the bug.
But the best thing to do is to set a toad to catch the bugs.  The
toad at once establishes the most intimate relations with the bug.
It is a pleasure to see such unity among the lower animals.  The
difficulty is to make the toad stay and watch the hill.  If you know
your toad, it is all right.  If you do not, you must build a tight
fence round the plants, which the toad cannot jump over.  This,
however, introduces a new element.  I find that I have a zoological
garden on my hands.  It is an unexpected result of my little
enterprise, which never aspired to the completeness of the Paris
"Jardin des Plantes."


Orthodoxy is at a low ebb.  Only two clergymen accepted my offer to
come and help hoe my potatoes for the privilege of using my vegetable
total-depravity figure about the snake-grass, or quack-grass as some
call it; and those two did not bring hoes.  There seems to be a lack
of disposition to hoe among our educated clergy.  I am bound to say
that these two, however, sat and watched my vigorous combats with the
weeds, and talked most beautifully about the application of the
snake-grass figure.  As, for instance, when a fault or sin showed on
the surface of a man, whether, if you dug down, you would find that
it ran back and into the original organic bunch of original sin
within the man.  The only other clergyman who came was from out of
town,--a half Universalist, who said he wouldn't give twenty cents
for my figure.  He said that the snake-grass was not in my garden
originally, that it sneaked in under the sod, and that it could be
entirely rooted out with industry and patience.  I asked the
Universalist-inclined man to take my hoe and try it; but he said he
had n't time, and went away.

But, jubilate, I have got my garden all hoed the first time!  I feel
as if I had put down the rebellion.  Only there are guerrillas left
here and there, about the borders and in corners, unsubdued,- Forrest
docks, and Quantrell grass, and Beauregard pig-weeds.  This first
hoeing is a gigantic task: it is your first trial of strength with
the never-sleeping forces of Nature.  Several times, in its progress,
I was tempted to do as Adam did, who abandoned his garden on account
of the weeds.  (How much my mind seems to run upon Adam, as if there
had been only two really moral gardens,--Adam's and mine!) The only
drawback to my rejoicing over the finishing of the first hoeing is,
that the garden now wants hoeing the second time.  I suppose, if my
garden were planted in a perfect circle, and I started round it with
a hoe, I should never see an opportunity to rest.  The fact is, that
gardening is the old fable of perpetual labor; and I, for one, can
never forgive Adam Sisyphus, or whoever it was, who let in the roots
of discord.  I had pictured myself sitting at eve, with my family, in
the shade of twilight, contemplating a garden hoed.  Alas!  it is a
dream not to be realized in this world.

My mind has been turned to the subject of fruit and shade trees in a
garden.  There are those who say that trees shade the garden too
much, and interfere with the growth of the vegetables.  There may be
something in this: but when I go down the potato rows, the rays of
the sun glancing upon my shining blade, the sweat pouring from my
face, I should be grateful for shade.  What is a garden for?  The
pleasure of man.  I should take much more pleasure in a shady garden.
Am I to be sacrificed, broiled, roasted, for the sake of the
increased vigor of a few vegetables?  The thing is perfectly absurd.
If I were rich, I think I would have my garden covered with an
awning, so that it would be comfortable to work in it.  It might roll
up and be removable, as the great awning of the Roman Coliseum was,--
not like the Boston one, which went off in a high wind.  Another very
good way to do, and probably not so expensive as the awning, would be
to have four persons of foreign birth carry a sort of canopy over you
as you hoed.  And there might be a person at each end of the row with
some cool and refreshing drink.  Agriculture is still in a very
barbarous stage.  I hope to live yet to see the day when I can do my
gardening, as tragedy is done, to slow and soothing music, and
attended by some of the comforts I have named.  These things come so
forcibly into my mind sometimes as I work, that perhaps, when a
wandering breeze lifts my straw hat, or a bird lights on a near
currant-bush, and shakes out a full-throated summer song, I almost
expect to find the cooling drink and the hospitable entertainment at
the end of the row.  But I never do.  There is nothing to be done but
to turn round, and hoe back to the other end.

Speaking of those yellow squash-bugs, I think I disheartened them by
covering the plants so deep with soot and wood-ashes that they could
not find them; and I am in doubt if I shall ever see the plants
again.  But I have heard of another defense against the bugs.  Put a
fine wire-screen over each hill, which will keep out the bugs and
admit the rain.  I should say that these screens would not cost much
more than the melons you would be likely to get from the vines if you
bought them; but then think of the moral satisfaction of watching the
bugs hovering over the screen, seeing, but unable to reach the tender
plants within.  That is worth paying for.

I left my own garden yesterday, and went over to where Polly was
getting the weeds out of one of her flower-beds.  She was working
away at the bed with a little hoe.  Whether women ought to have the
ballot or not (and I have a decided opinion on that point, which I
should here plainly give, did I not fear that it would injure my
agricultural influence), 'I am compelled to say that this was rather
helpless hoeing.  It was patient, conscientious, even pathetic
hoeing; but it was neither effective nor finished.  When completed,
the bed looked somewhat as if a hen had scratched it: there was that
touching unevenness about it.  I think no one could look at it and
not be affected.  To be sure, Polly smoothed it off with a rake, and
asked me if it was n't nice; and I said it was.  It was not a
favorable time for me to explain the difference between puttering
hoeing, and the broad, free sweep of the instrument, which kills the
weeds, spares the plants, and loosens the soil without leaving it in
holes and hills.  But, after all, as life is constituted, I think
more of Polly's honest and anxious care of her plants than of the
most finished gardening in the world.


I left my garden for a week, just at the close of the dry spell.  A
season of rain immediately set in, and when I returned the
transformation was wonderful.  In one week every vegetable had fairly
jumped forward.  The tomatoes which I left slender plants, eaten of
bugs and debating whether they would go backward or forward, had
become stout and lusty, with thick stems and dark leaves, and some of
them had blossomed.  The corn waved like that which grows so rank out
of the French-English mixture at Waterloo.  The squashes--I will not
speak of the squashes.  The most remarkable growth was the asparagus.
There was not a spear above ground when I went away; and now it had
sprung up, and gone to seed, and there were stalks higher than my
head.  I am entirely aware of the value of words, and of moral
obligations.  When I say that the asparagus had grown six feet in
seven days, I expect and wish to be believed.  I am a little
particular about the statement; for, if there is any prize offered
for asparagus at the next agricultural fair, I wish to compete,-
-speed to govern.  What I claim is the fastest asparagus.  As for
eating purposes, I have seen better.  A neighbor of mine, who looked
in at the growth of the bed, said, " Well, he'd be--": but I told him
there was no use of affirming now; he might keep his oath till I
wanted it on the asparagus affidavit.  In order to have this sort of
asparagus, you want to manure heavily in the early spring, fork it
in, and top-dress (that sounds technical) with a thick layer of
chloride of sodium: if you cannot get that, common salt will do, and
the neighbors will never notice whether it is the orthodox Na. Cl.
58-5, or not.

I scarcely dare trust myself to speak of the weeds.  They grow as if
the devil was in them.  I know a lady, a member of the church, and a
very good sort of woman, considering the subject condition of that
class, who says that the weeds work on her to that extent, that, in
going through her garden, she has the greatest difficulty in keeping
the ten commandments in anything like an unfractured condition.  I
asked her which one, but she said, all of them: one felt like
breaking the whole lot.  The sort of weed which I most hate (if I can
be said to hate anything which grows in my own garden) is the
"pusley," a fat, ground-clinging, spreading, greasy thing, and the
most propagatious (it is not my fault if the word is not in the
dictionary) plant I know.  I saw a Chinaman, who came over with a
returned missionary, and pretended to be converted, boil a lot of it
in a pot, stir in eggs, and mix and eat it with relish, -"Me likee
he." It will be a good thing to keep the Chinamen on when they come
to do our gardening.  I only fear they will cultivate it at the
expense of the strawberries and melons.  Who can say that other
weeds, which we despise, may not be the favorite food of some remote
people or tribe?  We ought to abate our conceit.  It is possible that
we destroy in our gardens that which is really of most value in some
other place.  Perhaps, in like manner, our faults and vices are
virtues in some remote planet.  I cannot see, however, that this
thought is of the slightest value to us here, any more than weeds

There is another subject which is forced upon my notice.  I like
neighbors, and I like chickens; but I do not think they ought to be
united near a garden.  Neighbors' hens in your garden are an
annoyance.  Even if they did not scratch up the corn, and peck the
strawberries, and eat the tomatoes, it is not pleasant to see them
straddling about in their jerky, high-stepping, speculative manner,
picking inquisitively here and there.  It is of no use to tell the
neighbor that his hens eat your tomatoes: it makes no impression on
him, for the tomatoes are not his.  The best way is to casually
remark to him that he has a fine lot of chickens, pretty well grown,
and that you like spring chickens broiled.  He will take them away at

The neighbors' small children are also out of place in your garden,
in strawberry and currant time.  I hope I appreciate the value of
children.  We should soon come to nothing without them, though the
Shakers have the best gardens in the world.  Without them the common
school would languish.  But the problem is, what to do with them in a
garden.  For they are not good to eat, and there is a law against
making away with them.  The law is not very well enforced, it is
true; for people do thin them out with constant dosing, paregoric,
and soothing-syrups, and scanty clothing.  But I, for one, feel that
it would not be right, aside from the law, to take the life, even of
the smallest child, for the sake of a little fruit, more or less, in
the garden.  I may be wrong; but these are my sentiments, and I am
not ashamed of them.  When we come, as Bryant says in his "Iliad," to
leave the circus of this life, and join that innumerable caravan
which moves, it will be some satisfaction to us, that we have never,
in the way of gardening, disposed of even the humblest child
unnecessarily.  My plan would be to put them into Sunday-schools more
thoroughly, and to give the Sunday-schools an agricultural turn;
teaching the children the sacredness of neighbors' vegetables.  I
think that our Sunday-schools do not sufficiently impress upon
children the danger, from snakes and otherwise, of going into the
neighbors' gardens.


Somebody has sent me a new sort of hoe, with the wish that I should
speak favorably of it, if I can consistently.  I willingly do so, but
with the understanding that I am to be at liberty to speak just as
courteously of any other hoe which I may receive.  If I understand
religious morals, this is the position of the religious press with
regard to bitters and wringing-machines.  In some cases, the
responsibility of such a recommendation is shifted upon the wife of
the editor or clergy-man.  Polly says she is entirely willing to make
a certificate, accompanied with an affidavit, with regard to this
hoe; but her habit of sitting about the garden walk, on an inverted
flower-pot, while I hoe, some what destroys the practical value of
her testimony.

As to this hoe, I do not mind saying that it has changed my view of
the desirableness and value of human life.  It has, in fact, made
life a holiday to me.  It is made on the principle that man is an
upright, sensible, reasonable being, and not a groveling wretch.  It
does away with the necessity of the hinge in the back.  The handle is
seven and a half feet long.  There are two narrow blades, sharp on
both edges, which come together at an obtuse angle in front; and as
you walk along with this hoe before you, pushing and pulling with a
gentle motion, the weeds fall at every thrust and withdrawal, and the
slaughter is immediate and widespread.  When I got this hoe I was
troubled with sleepless mornings, pains in the back, kleptomania with
regard to new weeders; when I went into my garden I was always sure
to see something.  In this disordered state of mind and body I got
this hoe.  The morning after a day of using it I slept perfectly and
late.  I regained my respect for the eighth commandment.  After two
doses of the hoe in the garden, the weeds entirely disappeared.
Trying it a third morning, I was obliged to throw it over the fence
in order to save from destruction the green things that ought to grow
in the garden.  Of course, this is figurative language.  What I mean
is, that the fascination of using this hoe is such that you are
sorely tempted to employ it upon your vegetables, after the weeds are
laid low, and must hastily withdraw it, to avoid unpleasant results.
I make this explanation, because I intend to put nothing into these
agricultural papers that will not bear the strictest scientific
investigation; nothing that the youngest child cannot understand and
cry for; nothing that the oldest and wisest men will not need to
study with care.

I need not add that the care of a garden with this hoe becomes the
merest pastime.  I would not be without one for a single night.  The
only danger is, that you may rather make an idol of the hoe, and
somewhat neglect your garden in explaining it, and fooling about with
it.  I almost think that, with one of these in the hands of an
ordinary day-laborer, you might see at night where he had been

Let us have peas.  I have been a zealous advocate of the birds.  I
have rejoiced in their multiplication.  I have endured their concerts
at four o'clock in the morning without a murmur.  Let them come, I
said, and eat the worms, in order that we, later, may enjoy the
foliage and the fruits of the earth.  We have a cat, a magnificent
animal, of the sex which votes (but not a pole-cat),--so large and
powerful that, if he were in the army, he would be called Long Tom.
He is a cat of fine disposition, the most irreproachable morals I
ever saw thrown away in a cat, and a splendid hunter.  He spends his
nights, not in social dissipation, but in gathering in rats, mice,
flying-squirrels, and also birds.  When he first brought me a bird, I
told him that it was wrong, and tried to convince him, while he was
eating it, that he was doing wrong; for he is a reasonable cat, and
understands pretty much everything except the binomial theorem and
the time down the cycloidal arc.  But with no effect.  The killing of
birds went on, to my great regret and shame.

The other day I went to my garden to get a mess of peas.  I had seen,
the day before, that they were just ready to pick.  How I had lined
the ground, planted, hoed, bushed them!  The bushes were very fine,--
seven feet high, and of good wood.  How I had delighted in the
growing, the blowing, the podding!  What a touching thought it was
that they had all podded for me!  When I went to pick them, I found
the pods all split open, and the peas gone.  The dear little birds,
who are so fond of the strawberries, had eaten them all.  Perhaps
there were left as many as I planted: I did not count them.  I made a
rapid estimate of the cost of the seed, the interest of the ground,
the price of labor, the value of the bushes, the anxiety of weeks of
watchfulness.  I looked about me on the face of Nature.  The wind
blew from the south so soft and treacherous!  A thrush sang in the
woods so deceitfully!  All Nature seemed fair.  But who was to give
me back my peas?  The fowls of the air have peas; but what has man?

I went into the house.  I called Calvin.  (That is the name of our
cat, given him on account of his gravity, morality, and uprightness.
We never familiarly call him John).  I petted Calvin.  I lavished
upon him an enthusiastic fondness.  I told him that he had no fault;
that the one action that I had called a vice was an heroic exhibition
of regard for my interests.  I bade him go and do likewise
continually.  I now saw how much better instinct is than mere
unguided reason.  Calvin knew.  If he had put his opinion into
English (instead of his native catalogue), it would have been: "You
need not teach your grandmother to suck eggs."  It was only the round
of Nature.  The worms eat a noxious something in the ground.  The
birds eat the worms.  Calvin eats the birds.  We eat--no, we do not
eat Calvin.  There the chain stops.  When you ascend the scale of
being, and come to an animal that is, like ourselves, inedible) you
have arrived at a result where you can rest.  Let us respect the cat.
He completes an edible chain.

I have little heart to discuss methods of raising peas.  It occurs to
me that I can have an iron peabush, a sort of trellis, through which
I could discharge electricity at frequent intervals, and electrify
the birds to death when they alight: for they stand upon my beautiful
brush in order to pick out the peas.  An apparatus of this kind, with
an operator, would cost, however, about as much as the peas.  A
neighbor suggests that I might put up a scarecrow near the vines,
which would keep the birds away.  I am doubtful about it: the birds
are too much accustomed to seeing a person in poor clothes in the
garden to care much for that.  Another neighbor suggests that the
birds do not open the pods; that a sort of blast, apt to come after
rain, splits the pods, and the birds then eat the peas.  It may be
so.  There seems to be complete unity of action between the blast and
the birds.  But, good neighbors, kind friends, I desire that you will
not increase, by talk, a disappointment which you cannot assuage.


A garden is an awful responsibility.  You never know what you may be
aiding to grow in it.  I heard a sermon, not long ago, in which the
preacher said that the Christian, at the moment of his becoming one,
was as perfect a Christian as he would be if he grew to be an arch-
angel; that is, that he would not change thereafter at all, but only
develop.  I do not know whether this is good theology, or not; and I
hesitate to support it by an illustration from my garden, especially
as I do not want to run the risk of propagating error, and I do not
care to give away these theological comparisons to clergymen who make
me so little return in the way of labor.  But I find, in dissecting a
pea-blossom, that hidden in the center of it is a perfect miniature
pea-pod, with the peas all in it,--as perfect a pea-pod as it will
ever be, only it is as tiny as a chatelaine ornament.  Maize and some
other things show the same precocity.  This confirmation of the
theologic theory is startling, and sets me meditating upon the moral
possibilities of my garden.  I may find in it yet the cosmic egg.

And, speaking of moral things, I am half determined to petition the
Ecumenical Council to issue a bull of excommunication against
"pusley."  Of all the forms which " error " has taken in this world,
I think that is about the worst.  In the Middle Ages the monks in St.
Bernard's ascetic community at Clairvaux excommunicated a vineyard
which a less rigid monk had planted near, so that it bore nothing.
In 1120 a bishop of Laon excommunicated the caterpillars in his
diocese; and, the following year, St. Bernard excommunicated the
flies in the Monastery of Foigny; and in 1510 the ecclesiastical
court pronounced the dread sentence against the rats of Autun, Macon,
and Lyons.  These examples are sufficient precedents.  It will be
well for the council, however, not to publish the bull either just
before or just after a rain; for nothing can kill this pestilent
heresy when the ground is wet.

It is the time of festivals.  Polly says we ought to have one,--a
strawberry-festival.  She says they are perfectly delightful: it is
so nice to get people together!--this hot weather.  They create such
a good feeling!  I myself am very fond of festivals.  I always go,--
when I can consistently.  Besides the strawberries, there are ice
creams and cake and lemonade, and that sort of thing: and one always
feels so well the next day after such a diet!  But as social
reunions, if there are good things to eat, nothing can be pleasanter;
and they are very profitable, if you have a good object.  I agreed
that we ought to have a festival; but I did not know what object to
devote it to.  We are not in need of an organ, nor of any pulpit-
cushions.  I do not know that they use pulpit-cushions now as much as
they used to, when preachers had to have something soft to pound, so
that they would not hurt their fists.  I suggested pocket
handkerchiefs, and flannels for next winter.  But Polly says that
will not do at all.  You must have some charitable object,--something
that appeals to a vast sense of something; something that it will be
right to get up lotteries and that sort of thing for.  I suggest a
festival for the benefit of my garden; and this seems feasible.  In
order to make everything pass off pleasantly, invited guests will
bring or send their own strawberries and cream, which I shall be
happy to sell to them at a slight advance.  There are a great many
improvements which the garden needs; among them a sounding-board, so
that the neighbors' children can hear when I tell them to get a
little farther off from the currant-bushes.  I should also like a
selection from the ten commandments, in big letters, posted up
conspicuously, and a few traps, that will detain, but not maim, for
the benefit of those who cannot read.  But what is most important is,
that the ladies should crochet nets to cover over the strawberries.
A good-sized, well-managed festival ought to produce nets enough to
cover my entire beds; and I can think of no other method of
preserving the berries from the birds next year.  I wonder how many
strawberries it would need for a festival "and whether they would
cost more than the nets.

I am more and more impressed, as the summer goes on, with the
inequality of man's fight with Nature; especially in a civilized
state.  In savagery, it does not much matter; for one does not take a
square hold, and put out his strength, but rather accommodates
himself to the situation, and takes what he can get, without raising
any dust, or putting himself into everlasting opposition.  But the
minute he begins to clear a spot larger than he needs to sleep in for
a night, and to try to have his own way in the least, Nature is at
once up, and vigilant, and contests him at every step with all her
ingenuity and unwearied vigor.  This talk of subduing Nature is
pretty much nonsense.  I do not intend to surrender in the midst of
the summer campaign, yet I cannot but think how much more peaceful my
relations would now be with the primal forces, if I had, let Nature
make the garden according to her own notion.  (This is written with
the thermometer at ninety degrees, and the weeds starting up with a
freshness and vigor, as if they had just thought of it for the first
time, and had not been cut down and dragged out every other day since
the snow went off.)

We have got down the forests, and exterminated savage beasts; but
Nature is no more subdued than before: she only changes her tactics,-
-uses smaller guns, so to speak.  She reenforces herself with a
variety of bugs, worms, and vermin, and weeds, unknown to the savage
state, in order to make war upon the things of our planting; and
calls in the fowls of the air, just as we think the battle is won, to
snatch away the booty.  When one gets almost weary of the struggle,
she is as fresh as at the beginning,--just, in fact, ready for the
fray.  I, for my part, begin to appreciate the value of frost and
snow; for they give the husbandman a little peace, and enable him,
for a season, to contemplate his incessant foe subdued.  I do not
wonder that the tropical people, where Nature never goes to sleep,
give it up, and sit in lazy acquiescence.

Here I have been working all the season to make a piece of lawn.  It
had to be graded and sowed and rolled; and I have been shaving it
like a barber.  When it was soft, everything had a tendency to go on
to it,--cows, and especially wandering hackmen.  Hackmen (who are a
product of civilization) know a lawn when they see it.  They rather
have a fancy for it, and always try to drive so as to cut the sharp
borders of it, and leave the marks of their wheels in deep ruts of
cut-up, ruined turf.  The other morning, I had just been running the
mower over the lawn, and stood regarding its smoothness, when I
noticed one, two, three puffs of fresh earth in it; and, hastening
thither, I found that the mole had arrived to complete the work of
the hackmen.  In a half-hour he had rooted up the ground like a pig.
I found his run-ways.  I waited for him with a spade.  He did not
appear; but, the next time I passed by, he had ridged the ground in
all directions,--a smooth, beautiful animal, with fur like silk, if
you could only catch him.  He appears to enjoy the lawn as much as
the hackmen did.  He does not care how smooth it is.  He is
constantly mining, and ridging it up.  I am not sure but he could be
countermined.  I have half a mind to put powder in here and there,
and blow the whole thing into the air.  Some folks set traps for the
mole; but my moles never seem to go twice in the same place.  I am
not sure but it would bother them to sow the lawn with interlacing
snake-grass (the botanical name of which, somebody writes me, is
devil-grass: the first time I have heard that the Devil has a
botanical name), which would worry them, if it is as difficult for
them to get through it as it is for me.

I do not speak of this mole in any tone of complaint.  He is only a
part of the untiring resources which Nature brings against the humble
gardener.  I desire to write nothing against him which I should wish
to recall at the last,--nothing foreign to the spirit of that
beautiful saying of the dying boy, " He had no copy-book, which,
dying, he was sorry he had blotted."


My garden has been visited by a High Official Person.  President
Gr-nt was here just before the Fourth, getting his mind quiet for
that event by a few days of retirement, staying with a friend at the
head of our street; and I asked him if he wouldn't like to come down
our way Sunday afternoon and take a plain, simple look at my garden,
eat a little lemon ice-cream and jelly-cake, and drink a glass of
native lager-beer.  I thought of putting up over my gate, " Welcome
to the Nation's Gardener; " but I hate nonsense, and did n't do it.
I, however, hoed diligently on Saturday: what weeds I could n't
remove I buried, so that everything would look all right.  The
borders of my drive were trimmed with scissors; and everything that
could offend the Eye of the Great was hustled out of the way.

In relating this interview, it must be distinctly understood that I
am not responsible for anything that the President said; nor is he,
either.  He is not a great speaker; but whatever he says has an
esoteric and an exoteric meaning; and some of his remarks about my
vegetables went very deep.  I said nothing to him whatever about
politics, at which he seemed a good deal surprised: he said it was
the first garden he had ever been in, with a man, when the talk was
not of appointments.  I told him that this was purely vegetable;
after which he seemed more at his ease, and, in fact, delighted with
everything he saw.  He was much interested in my strawberry-beds,
asked what varieties I had, and requested me to send him some seed.
He said the patent-office seed was as difficult to raise as an
appropriation for the St. Domingo business.  The playful bean seemed
also to please him; and he said he had never seen such impressive
corn and potatoes at this time of year; that it was to him an
unexpected pleasure, and one of the choicest memories that he should
take away with him of his visit to New England.

N.  B. --That corn and those potatoes which General Gr-nt looked at I
will sell for seed, at five dollars an ear, and one dollar a potato.
Office-seekers need not apply.

Knowing the President's great desire for peas, I kept him from that
part of the garden where the vines grow.  But they could not be
concealed.  Those who say that the President is not a man easily
moved are knaves or fools.  When he saw my pea-pods, ravaged by the
birds, he burst into tears.  A man of war, he knows the value of
peas.  I told him they were an excellent sort, "The Champion of
England."  As quick as a flash he said, "Why don't you call them 'The
Reverdy Johnson'?"

It was a very clever bon-mot; but I changed the subject.

The sight of my squashes, with stalks as big as speaking-trumpets,
restored the President to his usual spirits.  He said the summer
squash was the most ludicrous vegetable he knew.  It was nearly all
leaf and blow, with only a sickly, crook-necked fruit after a mighty
fuss.  It reminded him of the member of Congress from...; but I
hastened to change the subject.

As we walked along, the keen eye of the President rested upon some
handsome sprays of "pusley," which must have grown up since Saturday
night.  It was most fortunate; for it led his Excellency to speak of
the Chinese problem.  He said he had been struck with one, coupling
of the Chinese and the "pusley" in one of my agricultural papers; and
it had a significance more far-reaching than I had probably supposed.
He had made the Chinese problem a special study.  He said that I was
right in saying that "pusley" was the natural food of the Chinaman,
and that where the "pusley" was, there would the Chinaman be also.
For his part, he welcomed the Chinese emigration: we needed the
Chinaman in our gardens to eat the "pusley; "and he thought the whole
problem solved by this simple consideration.  To get rid of rats and
"pusley," he said, was a necessity of our civilization.  He did not
care so much about the shoe-business; he did not think that the
little Chinese shoes that he had seen would be of service in the
army: but the garden-interest was quite another affair.  We want to
make a garden of our whole country: the hoe, in the hands of a man
truly great, he was pleased to say, was mightier than the pen.  He
presumed that General B-tl-r had never taken into consideration the
garden-question, or he would not assume the position he does with
regard to the Chinese emigration.  He would let the Chinese come,
even if B-tl-r had to leave, I thought he was going to say, but I
changed the subject.

During our entire garden interview (operatically speaking, the
garden-scene), the President was not smoking.  I do not know how the
impression arose that he "uses tobacco in any form;" for I have seen
him several times, and he was not smoking.  Indeed, I offered him a
Connecticut six; but he wittily said that he did not like a weed in a
garden,--a remark which I took to have a personal political bearing,
and changed the subject.

The President was a good deal surprised at the method and fine
appearance of my garden, and to learn that I had the sole care of it.
He asked me if I pursued an original course, or whether I got my
ideas from writers on the subject.  I told him that I had had no time
to read anything on the subject since I began to hoe, except
"Lothair," from which I got my ideas of landscape gardening; and that
I had worked the garden entirely according to my own notions, except
that I had borne in mind his injunction, "to fight it out on this
line if"--The President stopped me abruptly, and said it was
unnecessary to repeat that remark: he thought he had heard it before.
Indeed, he deeply regretted that he had ever made it.  Sometimes, he
said, after hearing it in speeches, and coming across it in
resolutions, and reading it in newspapers, and having it dropped
jocularly by facetious politicians, who were boring him for an
office, about twenty-five times a day, say for a month, it would get
to running through his head, like the "shoo-fly" song which B-tl-r
sings in the House, until it did seem as if he should go distracted.
He said, no man could stand that kind of sentence hammering on his
brain for years.

The President was so much pleased with my management of the garden,
that he offered me (at least, I so understood him) the position of
head gardener at the White House, to have care of the exotics.  I
told him that I thanked him, but that I did not desire any foreign
appointment.  I had resolved, when the administration came in, not to
take an appointment; and I had kept my resolution.  As to any home
office, I was poor, but honest; and, of course, it would be useless
for me to take one.  The President mused a moment, and then smiled,
and said he would see what could be done for me.  I did not change
the subject; but nothing further was said by General Gr-nt.

The President is a great talker (contrary to the general impression);
but I think he appreciated his quiet hour in my garden.  He said it
carried him back to his youth farther than anything he had seen
lately.  He looked forward with delight to the time when he could
again have his private garden, grow his own lettuce and tomatoes, and
not have to get so much "sarce" from Congress.

The chair in which the President sat, while declining to take a glass
of lager I have had destroyed, in order that no one may sit in it.
It was the only way to save it, if I may so speak.  It would have
been impossible to keep it from use by any precautions.  There are
people who would have sat in it, if the seat had been set with iron
spikes.  Such is the adoration of Station.


I am more and more impressed with the moral qualities of vegetables,
and contemplate forming a science which shall rank with comparative
anatomy and comparative philology,--the science of comparative
vegetable morality.  We live in an age of protoplasm.  And, if
life-matter is essentially the same in all forms of life, I purpose
to begin early, and ascertain the nature of the plants for which I am
responsible.  I will not associate with any vegetable which is
disreputable, or has not some quality that can contribute to my moral
growth.  I do not care to be seen much with the squashes or the dead-
beets.  Fortunately I can cut down any sorts I do not like with the
hoe, and, probably, commit no more sin in so doing than the
Christians did in hewing down the Jews in the Middle Ages.

This matter of vegetable rank has not been at all studied as it
should be.  Why do we respect some vegetables and despise others,
when all of them come to an equal honor or ignominy on the table?
The bean is a graceful, confiding, engaging vine; but you never can
put beans into poetry, nor into the highest sort of prose.  There is
no dignity in the bean.  Corn, which, in my garden, grows alongside
the bean, and, so far as I can see, with no affectation of
superiority, is, however, the child of song.  It waves in all
literature.  But mix it with beans, and its high tone is gone.
Succotash is vulgar.  It is the bean in it.  The bean is a vulgar
vegetable, without culture, or any flavor of high society among
vegetables.  Then there is the cool cucumber, like so many people,
good for nothing when it is ripe and the wildness has gone out of it.
How inferior in quality it is to the melon, which grows upon a
similar vine, is of a like watery consistency, but is not half so
valuable!  The cucumber is a sort of low comedian in a company where
the melon is a minor gentleman.  I might also contrast the celery
with the potato.  The associations are as opposite as the dining-room
of the duchess and the cabin of the peasant.  I admire the potato,
both in vine and blossom; but it is not aristocratic.  I began
digging my potatoes, by the way, about the 4th of July; and I fancy I
have discovered the right way to do it.  I treat the potato just as I
would a cow.  I do not pull them up, and shake them out, and destroy
them; but I dig carefully at the side of the hill, remove the fruit
which is grown, leaving the vine undisturbed: and my theory is, that
it will go on bearing, and submitting to my exactions, until the
frost cuts it down.  It is a game that one would not undertake with a
vegetable of tone.

The lettuce is to me a most interesting study.  Lettuce is like
conversation: it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you
scarcely notice the bitter in it.  Lettuce, like most talkers, is,
however, apt to run rapidly to seed.  Blessed is that sort which
comes to a head, and so remains, like a few people I know; growing
more solid and satisfactory and tender at the same time, and whiter
at the center, and crisp in their maturity.  Lettuce, like conver-
sation, requires a good deal of oil to avoid friction, and keep the
company smooth; a pinch of attic salt; a dash of pepper; a quantity
of mustard and vinegar, by all means, but so mixed that you will
notice no sharp contrasts; and a trifle of sugar.  You can put
anything, and the more things the better, into salad, as into a
conversation; but everything depends upon the skill of mixing.  I
feel that I am in the best society when I am with lettuce.  It is in
the select circle of vegetables.  The tomato appears well on the
table; but you do not want to ask its origin.  It is a most agreeable
parvenu.  Of course, I have said nothing about the berries.  They
live in another and more ideal region; except, perhaps, the currant.
Here we see, that, even among berries, there are degrees of breeding.
The currant is well enough, clear as truth, and exquisite in color;
but I ask you to notice how far it is from the exclusive hauteur of
the aristocratic strawberry, and the native refinement of the quietly
elegant raspberry.

I do not know that chemistry, searching for protoplasm, is able to
discover the tendency of vegetables.  It can only be found out by
outward observation.  I confess that I am suspicious of the bean, for
instance.  There are signs in it of an unregulated life.  I put up
the most attractive sort of poles for my Limas.  They stand high and
straight, like church-spires, in my theological garden,--lifted up;
and some of them have even budded, like Aaron's rod.  No church-
steeple in a New England village was ever better fitted to draw to it
the rising generation on Sunday, than those poles to lift up my beans
towards heaven.  Some of them did run up the sticks seven feet, and
then straggled off into the air in a wanton manner; but more than
half of them went gallivanting off to the neighboring grape-trellis,
and wound their tendrils with the tendrils of the grape, with a
disregard of the proprieties of life which is a satire upon human
nature.  And the grape is morally no better.  I think the ancients,
who were not troubled with the recondite mystery of protoplasm, were
right in the mythic union of Bacchus and Venus.

Talk about the Darwinian theory of development, and the principle of
natural selection!  I should like to see a garden let to run in
accordance with it.  If I had left my vegetables and weeds to a free
fight, in which the strongest specimens only should come to maturity,
and the weaker go to the wall, I can clearly see that I should have
had a pretty mess of it.  It would have been a scene of passion and
license and brutality.  The "pusley" would have strangled the
strawberry; the upright corn, which has now ears to hear the guilty
beating of the hearts of the children who steal the raspberries,
would have been dragged to the earth by the wandering bean; the
snake-grass would have left no place for the potatoes under ground;
and the tomatoes would have been swamped by the lusty weeds.  With a
firm hand, I have had to make my own "natural selection." Nothing
will so well bear watching as a garden, except a family of children
next door.  Their power of selection beats mine.  If they could read
half as well as they can steal awhile away, I should put up a notice,
"Children, beware!  There is Protoplasm here." But I suppose it would
have no effect.  I believe they would eat protoplasm as quick as
anything else, ripe or green.  I wonder if this is going to be a
cholera-year.  Considerable cholera is the only thing that would let
my apples and pears ripen.  Of course I do not care for the fruit;
but I do not want to take the responsibility of letting so much
"life-matter," full of crude and even wicked vegetable-human
tendencies, pass into the composition of the neighbors' children,
some of whom may be as immortal as snake-grass.  There ought to be a
public meeting about this, and resolutions, and perhaps a clambake.
At least, it ought to be put into the catechism, and put in strong.


I think I have discovered the way to keep peas from the birds.  I
tried the scarecrow plan, in a way which I thought would outwit the
shrewdest bird.  The brain of the bird is not large; but it is all
concentrated on one object, and that is the attempt to elude the
devices of modern civilization which injure his chances of food.  I
knew that, if I put up a complete stuffed man, the bird would detect
the imitation at once: the perfection of the thing would show him
that it was a trick.  People always overdo the matter when they
attempt deception.  I therefore hung some loose garments, of a bright
color, upon a rake-head, and set them up among the vines.  The
supposition was, that the bird would think there was an effort to
trap him, that there was a man behind, holding up these garments, and
would sing, as he kept at a distance, "You can't catch me with any
such double device." The bird would know, or think he knew, that I
would not hang up such a scare, in the expectation that it would pass
for a man, and deceive a bird; and he would therefore look for a
deeper plot.  I expected to outwit the bird by a duplicity that was
simplicity itself I may have over-calculated the sagacity and
reasoning power of the bird.  At any rate, I did over-calculate the
amount of peas I should gather.

But my game was only half played.  In another part of the garden were
other peas, growing and blowing.  To-these I took good care not to
attract the attention of the bird by any scarecrow whatever!  I left
the old scarecrow conspicuously flaunting above the old vines; and by
this means I hope to keep the attention of the birds confined to that
side of the garden.  I am convinced that this is the true use of a
scarecrow: it is a lure, and not a warning.  If you wish to save men
from any particular vice, set up a tremendous cry of warning about
some other; and they will all give their special efforts to the one
to which attention is called.  This profound truth is about the only
thing I have yet realized out of my pea-vines.

However, the garden does begin to yield.  I know of nothing that
makes one feel more complacent, in these July days, than to have his
vegetables from his own garden.  What an effect it has on the
market-man and the butcher!  It is a kind of declaration of
independence.  The market-man shows me his peas and beets and
tomatoes, and supposes he shall send me out some with the meat.  "No,
I thank you," I say carelessly; "I am raising my own this year."
Whereas I have been wont to remark, "Your vegetables look a little
wilted this weather," I now say, "What a fine lot of vegetables
you've got!"  When a man is not going to buy, he can afford to be
generous.  To raise his own vegetables makes a person feel, somehow,
more liberal.  I think the butcher is touched by the influence, and
cuts off a better roast for me, The butcher is my friend when he sees
that I am not wholly dependent on him.

It is at home, however, that the effect is most marked, though
sometimes in a way that I had not expected.  I have never read of any
Roman supper that seemed to me equal to a dinner of my own
vegetables; when everything on the table is the product of my own
labor, except the clams, which I have not been able to raise yet, and
the chickens, which have withdrawn from the garden just when they
were most attractive.  It is strange what a taste you suddenly have
for things you never liked before.  The squash has always been to me
a dish of contempt; but I eat it now as if it were my best friend.  I
never cared for the beet or the bean; but I fancy now that I could
eat them all, tops and all, so completely have they been transformed
by the soil in which they grew.  I think the squash is less squashy,
and the beet has a deeper hue of rose, for my care of them.

I had begun to nurse a good deal of pride in presiding over a table
whereon was the fruit of my honest industry.  But woman!--John Stuart
Mill is right when he says that we do not know anything about women.
Six thousand years is as one day with them.  I thought I had
something to do with those vegetables.  But when I saw Polly seated
at her side of the table, presiding over the new and susceptible
vegetables, flanked by the squash and the beans, and smiling upon the
green corn and the new potatoes, as cool as the cucumbers which lay
sliced in ice before her, and when she began to dispense the fresh
dishes, I saw at once that the day of my destiny was over.  You would
have thought that she owned all the vegetables, and had raised them
all from their earliest years.  Such quiet, vegetable airs!  Such
gracious appropriation!  At length I said,--

"Polly, do you know who planted that squash, or those squashes?"

"James, I suppose."

"Well, yes, perhaps James did plant them, to a certain extent.  But
who hoed them?"

"We did."

"We did!" I said, in the most sarcastic manner.

And I suppose we put on the sackcloth and ashes, when the striped bug
came at four o'clock A.M., and we watched the tender leaves, and
watered night and morning the feeble plants.  I tell you, Polly,"
said I, uncorking the Bordeaux raspberry vinegar, "there is not a pea
here that does not represent a drop of moisture wrung from my brow,
not a beet that does not stand for a back-ache, not a squash that has
not caused me untold anxiety; and I did hope--but I will say no

Observation. --In this sort of family discussion, "I will say no
more" is the most effective thing you can close up with.

I am not an alarmist.  I hope I am as cool as anybody this hot
summer.  But I am quite ready to say to Polly, or any other woman,
"You can have the ballot; only leave me the vegetables, or, what is
more important, the consciousness of power in vegetables."  I see how
it is.  Woman is now supreme in the house.  She already stretches out
her hand to grasp the garden.  She will gradually control everything.
Woman is one of the ablest and most cunning creatures who have ever
mingled in human affairs.  I understand those women who say they
don't want the ballot.  They purpose to hold the real power while we
go through the mockery of making laws.  They want the power without
the responsibility.  (Suppose my squash had not come up, or my beans-
-as they threatened at one time--had gone the wrong way: where would
I have been?) We are to be held to all the responsibilities.  Woman
takes the lead in all the departments, leaving us politics only.  And
what is politics?  Let me raise the vegetables of a nation, says
Polly, and I care not who makes its politics.  Here I sat at the
table, armed with the ballot, but really powerless among my own
vegetables.  While we are being amused by the ballot, woman is
quietly taking things into her own hands.


Perhaps, after all, it is not what you get out of a garden, but what
you put into it, that is the most remunerative.  What is a man?  A
question frequently asked, and never, so far as I know,
satisfactorily answered.  He commonly spends his seventy years, if so
many are given him, in getting ready to enjoy himself.  How many
hours, how many minutes, does one get of that pure content which is
happiness?  I do not mean laziness, which is always discontent; but
that serene enjoyment, in which all the natural senses have easy
play, and the unnatural ones have a holiday.  There is probably
nothing that has such a tranquilizing effect, and leads into such
content as gardening.  By gardening, I do not mean that insane desire
to raise vegetables which some have; but the philosophical occupation
of contact with the earth, and companionship with gently growing
things and patient processes; that exercise which soothes the spirit,
and develops the deltoid muscles.

In half an hour I can hoe myself right away from this world, as we
commonly see it, into a large place, where there are no obstacles.
What an occupation it is for thought!  The mind broods like a hen on
eggs.  The trouble is, that you are not thinking about anything, but
are really vegetating like the plants around you.  I begin to know
what the joy of the grape-vine is in running up the trellis, which is
similar to that of the squirrel in running up a tree.  We all have
something in our nature that requires contact with the earth.  In the
solitude of garden-labor, one gets into a sort of communion with the
vegetable life, which makes the old mythology possible.  For
instance, I can believe that the dryads are plenty this summer: my
garden is like an ash-heap.  Almost all the moisture it has had in
weeks has been the sweat of honest industry.

The pleasure of gardening in these days, when the thermometer is at
ninety, is one that I fear I shall not be able to make intelligible
to my readers, many of whom do not appreciate the delight of soaking
in the sunshine.  I suppose that the sun, going through a man, as it
will on such a day, takes out of him rheumatism, consumption, and
every other disease, except sudden death--from sun-stroke.  But,
aside from this, there is an odor from the evergreens, the hedges,
the various plants and vines, that is only expressed and set afloat
at a high temperature, which is delicious; and, hot as it may be, a
little breeze will come at intervals, which can be heard in the
treetops, and which is an unobtrusive benediction.  I hear a quail or
two whistling in the ravine; and there is a good deal of fragmentary
conversation going on among the birds, even on the warmest days.  The
companionship of Calvin, also, counts for a good deal.  He usually
attends me, unless I work too long in one place; sitting down on the
turf, displaying the ermine of his breast, and watching my movements
with great intelligence.  He has a feline and genuine love for the
beauties of Nature, and will establish himself where there is a good
view, and look on it for hours.  He always accompanies us when we go
to gather the vegetables, seeming to be desirous to know what we are
to have for dinner.  He is a connoisseur in the garden; being fond of
almost all the vegetables, except the cucumber,--a dietetic hint to
man.  I believe it is also said that the pig will not eat tobacco.
These are important facts.  It is singular, however, that those who
hold up the pigs as models to us never hold us up as models to the

I wish I knew as much about natural history and the habits of animals
as Calvin does.  He is the closest observer I ever saw; and there are
few species of animals on the place that he has not analyzed.  I
think he has, to use a euphemism very applicable to him, got outside
of every one of them, except the toad.  To the toad he is entirely
indifferent; but I presume he knows that the toad is the most useful
animal in the garden.  I think the Agricultural Society ought to
offer a prize for the finest toad.  When Polly comes to sit in the
shade near my strawberry-beds, to shell peas, Calvin is always lying
near in apparent obliviousness; but not the slightest unusual sound
can be made in the bushes, that he is not alert, and prepared to
investigate the cause of it.  It is this habit of observation, so
cultivated, which has given him such a trained mind, and made him so
philosophical.  It is within the capacity of even the humblest of us
to attain this.

And, speaking of the philosophical temper, there is no class of men
whose society is more to be desired for this quality than that of
plumbers.  They are the most agreeable men I know; and the boys in
the business begin to be agreeable very early.  I suspect the secret
of it is, that they are agreeable by the hour.  In the driest days,
my fountain became disabled: the pipe was stopped up.  A couple of
plumbers, with the implements of their craft, came out to view the
situation.  There was a good deal of difference of opinion about
where the stoppage was.  I found the plumbers perfectly willing to
sit down and talk about it,--talk by the hour.  Some of their guesses
and remarks were exceedingly ingenious; and their general
observations on other subjects were excellent in their way, and could
hardly have been better if they had been made by the job.  The work
dragged a little, as it is apt to do by the hour.  The plumbers had
occasion to make me several visits.  Sometimes they would find, upon
arrival, that they had forgotten some indispensable tool; and one
would go back to the shop, a mile and a half, after it; and his
comrade would await his return with the most exemplary patience, and
sit down and talk,--always by the hour.  I do not know but it is a
habit to have something wanted at the shop.  They seemed to me very
good workmen, and always willing to stop and talk about the job, or
anything else, when I went near them.  Nor had they any of that
impetuous hurry that is said to be the bane of our American
civilization.  To their credit be it said, that I never observed
anything of it in them.  They can afford to wait.  Two of them will
sometimes wait nearly half a day while a comrade goes for a tool.
They are patient and philosophical.  It is a great pleasure to meet
such men.  One only wishes there was some work he could do for them
by the hour.  There ought to be reciprocity.  I think they have very
nearly solved the problem of Life: it is to work for other people,
never for yourself, and get your pay by the hour.  You then have no
anxiety, and little work.  If you do things by the job, you are
perpetually driven: the hours are scourges.  If you work by the hour,
you gently sail on the stream of Time, which is always bearing you on
to the haven of Pay, whether you make any effort, or not.  Working by
the hour tends to make one moral.  A plumber working by the job,
trying to unscrew a rusty, refractory nut, in a cramped position,
where the tongs continually slipped off, would swear; but I never
heard one of them swear, or exhibit the least impatience at such a
vexation, working by the hour.  Nothing can move a man who is paid by
the hour.  How sweet the flight of time seems to his calm mind!


Mr.  Horace Greeley, the introduction of whose name confers an honor
upon this page (although I ought to say that it is used entirely
without his consent), is my sole authority in agriculture.  In
politics I do not dare to follow him; but in agriculture he is
irresistible.  When, therefore, I find him advising Western farmers
not to hill up their corn, I think that his advice must be political.
You must hill up your corn.  People always have hilled up their corn.
It would take a constitutional amendment to change the practice, that
has pertained ever since maize was raised.  "It will stand the
drought better," says Mr.  Greeley, "if the ground is left level."  I
have corn in my garden, ten and twelve feet high, strong and lusty,
standing the drought like a grenadier; and it is hilled.  In advising
this radical change, Mr.  Greeley evidently has a political purpose.
He might just as well say that you should not hill beans, when
everybody knows that a "hill of beans" is one of the most expressive
symbols of disparagement.  When I become too lazy to hill my corn, I,
too, shall go into politics.

I am satisfied that it is useless to try to cultivate "pusley." I set
a little of it one side, and gave it some extra care.  It did not
thrive as well as that which I was fighting.  The fact is, there is a
spirit of moral perversity in the plant, which makes it grow the
more, the more it is interfered with.  I am satisfied of that.  I
doubt if any one has raised more "pusley" this year than I have; and
my warfare with it has been continual.  Neither of us has slept much.
If you combat it, it will grow, to use an expression that will be
understood by many, like the devil.  I have a neighbor, a good
Christian man, benevolent, and a person of good judgment.  He planted
next to me an acre of turnips recently.  A few days after, he went to
look at his crop; and he found the entire ground covered with a thick
and luxurious carpet of "pusley," with a turnip-top worked in here
and there as an ornament.  I have seldom seen so thrifty a field.  I
advised my neighbor next time to sow "pusley" and then he might get a
few turnips.  I wish there was more demand in our city markets for
"pusley" as a salad.  I can recommend it.

It does not take a great man to soon discover that, in raising
anything, the greater part of the plants goes into stalk and leaf,
and the fruit is a most inconsiderable portion.  I plant and hoe a
hill of corn: it grows green and stout, and waves its broad leaves
high in the air, and is months in perfecting itself, and then yields
us not enough for a dinner.  It grows because it delights to do so,
--to take the juices out of my ground, to absorb my fertilizers, to
wax luxuriant, and disport itself in the summer air, and with very
little thought of making any return to me.  I might go all through my
garden and fruit trees with a similar result.  I have heard of places
where there was very little land to the acre.  It is universally true
that there is a great deal of vegetable show and fuss for the result
produced.  I do not complain of this.  One cannot expect vegetables
to be better than men: and they make a great deal of ostentatious
splurge; and many of them come to no result at last.  Usually, the
more show of leaf and wood, the less fruit.  This melancholy
reflection is thrown in here in order to make dog-days seem cheerful
in comparison.

One of the minor pleasures of life is that of controlling vegetable
activity and aggressions with the pruning-knife.  Vigorous and rapid
growth is, however, a necessity to the sport.  To prune feeble plants
and shrubs is like acting the part of dry-nurse to a sickly orphan.
You must feel the blood of Nature bound under your hand, and get the
thrill of its life in your nerves.  To control and culture a strong,
thrifty plant in this way is like steering a ship under full headway,
or driving a locomotive with your hand on the lever, or pulling the
reins over a fast horse when his blood and tail are up.  I do not
understand, by the way, the pleasure of the jockey in setting up the
tail of the horse artificially.  If I had a horse with a tail not
able to sit up, I should feed the horse, and curry him into good
spirits, and let him set up his own tail.  When I see a poor,
spiritless horse going by with an artificially set-up tail, it is
only a signal of distress.  I desire to be surrounded only by
healthy, vigorous plants and trees, which require constant cutting-in
and management.  Merely to cut away dead branches is like perpetual
attendance at a funeral, and puts one in low spirits.  I want to have
a garden and orchard rise up and meet me every morning, with the
request to "lay on, Macduff." I respect old age; but an old currant-
bush, hoary with mossy bark, is a melancholy spectacle.

I suppose the time has come when I am expected to say something about
fertilizers: all agriculturists do.  When you plant, you think you
cannot fertilize too much: when you get the bills for the manure, you
think you cannot fertilize too little.  Of course you do not expect
to get the value of the manure back in fruits and vegetables; but
something is due to science,--to chemistry in particular.  You must
have a knowledge of soils, must have your soil analyzed, and then go
into a course of experiments to find what it needs.  It needs
analyzing,--that, I am clear about: everything needs that.  You had
better have the soil analyzed before you buy: if there is "pusley "
in it, let it alone.  See if it is a soil that requires much hoeing,
and how fine it will get if there is no rain for two months.  But
when you come to fertilizing, if I understand the agricultural
authorities, you open a pit that will ultimately swallow you up,-
-farm and all.  It is the great subject of modern times, how to
fertilize without ruinous expense; how, in short, not to starve the
earth to death while we get our living out of it.  Practically, the
business is hardly to the taste of a person of a poetic turn of mind.
The details of fertilizing are not agreeable.  Michael Angelo, who
tried every art, and nearly every trade, never gave his mind to
fertilizing.  It is much pleasanter and easier to fertilize with a
pen, as the agricultural writers do, than with a fork.  And this
leads me to say, that, in carrying on a garden yourself, you must
have a "consulting" gardener; that is, a man to do the heavy and
unpleasant work.  To such a man, I say, in language used by
Demosthenes to the Athenians, and which is my advice to all
gardeners, "Fertilize, fertilize, fertilize!"


I find that gardening has unsurpassed advantages for the study of
natural history; and some scientific facts have come under my own
observation, which cannot fail to interest naturalists and
un-naturalists in about the same degree.  Much, for instance, has
been written about the toad, an animal without which no garden would
be complete.  But little account has been made of his value: the
beauty of his eye alone has been dwelt on; and little has been said
of his mouth, and its important function as a fly and bug trap.  His
habits, and even his origin, have been misunderstood.  Why, as an
illustration, are toads so plenty after a thunder-shower?  All my
life long, no one has been able to answer me that question.  Why,
after a heavy shower, and in the midst of it, do such multitudes of
toads, especially little ones, hop about on the gravel-walks?  For
many years, I believed that they rained down; and I suppose many
people think so still.  They are so small, and they come in such
numbers only in the shower, that the supposition is not a violent
one.  "Thick as toads after a shower," is one of our best proverbs.
I asked an explanation 'of this of a thoughtful woman,--indeed, a
leader in the great movement to have all the toads hop in any
direction, without any distinction of sex or religion.  Her reply
was, that the toads come out during the shower to get water.  This,
however, is not the fact.  I have discovered that they come out not
to get water.  I deluged a dry flower-bed, the other night, with
pailful after pailful of water.  Instantly the toads came out of
their holes in the dirt, by tens and twenties and fifties, to escape
death by drowning.  The big ones fled away in a ridiculous streak of
hopping; and the little ones sprang about in the wildest confusion.
The toad is just like any other land animal: when his house is full
of water, he quits it.  These facts, with the drawings of the water
and the toads, are at the service of the distinguished scientists of
Albany in New York, who were so much impressed by the Cardiff Giant.

The domestic cow is another animal whose ways I have a chance to
study, and also to obliterate in the garden.  One of my neighbors has
a cow, but no land; and he seems desirous to pasture her on the
surface of the land of other people: a very reasonable desire.  The
man proposed that he should be allowed to cut the grass from my
grounds for his cow.  I knew the cow, having often had her in my
garden; knew her gait and the size of her feet, which struck me as a
little large for the size of the body.  Having no cow myself, but
acquaintance with my neighbor's, I told him that I thought it would
be fair for him to have the grass.  He was, therefore, to keep the
grass nicely cut, and to keep his cow at home.  I waited some time
after the grass needed cutting; and, as my neighbor did not appear, I
hired it cut.  No sooner was it done than he promptly appeared, and
raked up most of it, and carried it away.  He had evidently been
waiting that opportunity.  When the grass grew again, the neighbor
did not appear with his scythe; but one morning I found the cow
tethered on the sward, hitched near the clothes-horse, a short
distance from the house.  This seemed to be the man's idea of the
best way to cut the grass.  I disliked to have the cow there, because
I knew her inclination to pull up the stake, and transfer her field
of mowing to the garden, but especially because of her voice.  She
has the most melancholy "moo" I ever heard.  It is like the wail of
one uninfallible, excommunicated, and lost.  It is a most distressing
perpetual reminder of the brevity of life and the shortness of feed.
It is unpleasant to the family.  We sometimes hear it in the middle
of the night, breaking the silence like a suggestion of coming
calamity.  It is as bad as the howling of a dog at a funeral.

I told the man about it; but he seemed to think that he was not
responsible for the cow's voice.  I then told him to take her away;
and he did, at intervals, shifting her to different parts of the
grounds in my absence, so that the desolate voice would startle us
from unexpected quarters.  If I were to unhitch the cow, and turn her
loose, I knew where she would go.  If I were to lead her away, the
question was, Where?  for I did not fancy leading a cow about till I
could find somebody who was willing to pasture her.  To this dilemma
had my excellent neighbor reduced me.  But I found him, one Sunday
morning,--a day when it would not do to get angry, tying his cow at
the foot of the hill; the beast all the time going on in that
abominable voice.  I told the man that I could not have the cow in
the grounds.  He said, "All right, boss;" but he did not go away.  I
asked him to clear out.  The man, who is a French sympathizer from
the Republic of Ireland, kept his temper perfectly.  He said he
wasn't doing anything, just feeding his cow a bit: he wouldn't make
me the least trouble in the world.  I reminded him that he had been
told again and again not to come here; that he might have all the
grass, but he should not bring his cow upon the premises.  The
imperturbable man assented to everything that I said, and kept on
feeding his cow.  Before I got him to go to fresh scenes and pastures
new, the Sabbath was almost broken; but it was saved by one thing: it
is difficult to be emphatic when no one is emphatic on the other
side.  The man and his cow have taught me a great lesson, which I
shall recall when I keep a cow.  I can recommend this cow, if anybody
wants one, as a steady boarder, whose keeping will cost the owner
little; but, if her milk is at all like her voice, those who drink it
are on the straight road to lunacy.

I think I have said that we have a game-preserve.  We keep quails, or
try to, in the thickly wooded, bushed, and brushed ravine.  This bird
is a great favorite with us, dead or alive, on account of its taste-
ful plumage, its tender flesh, its domestic virtues, and its pleasant
piping.  Besides, although I appreciate toads and cows, and all that
sort of thing, I like to have a game-preserve more in the English
style.  And we did.  For in July, while the game-law was on, and the
young quails were coming on, we were awakened one morning by firing,-
-musketry-firing, close at hand.  My first thought was, that war was
declared; but, as I should never pay much attention to war declared
at that time in the morning, I went to sleep again.  But the
occurrence was repeated, -and not only early in the morning, but at
night.  There was calling of dogs, breaking down of brush, and firing
of guns.  It is hardly pleasant to have guns fired in the direction
of the house, at your own quails.  The hunters could be sometimes
seen, but never caught.  Their best time was about sunrise; but,
before one could dress and get to the front, they would retire.

One morning, about four o'clock, I heard the battle renewed.  I
sprang up, but not in arms, and went to a window.  Polly (like
another 'blessed damozel') flew to another window,--

"The blessed damozel leaned out
>From the gold bar of heaven,"

and reconnoitered from behind the blinds.

"The wonder was not yet quite gone
>From that still look of hers,"

when an armed man and a legged dog appeared ir the opening.  I was
vigilantly watching him.

. . . . "And now
She spoke through the still weather."

"Are you afraid to speak to him?" asked Polly.

Not exactly,

. . . ."she spoke as when
The stars sang in their spheres.

"Stung by this inquiry, I leaned out of the window till

"The bar I leaned on (was) warm,"

and cried,--

"Halloo, there!  What are you doing?"

"Look out he don't shoot you," called out Polly from the other
window, suddenly going on another tack.

I explained that a sportsman would not be likely to shoot a gentleman
in his own house, with bird-shot, so long as quails were to be had.

"You have no business here: what are you after?"  I repeated.

"Looking for a lost hen," said the man as he strode away.

The reply was so satisfactory and conclusive that I shut the blinds
and went to bed.

But one evening I overhauled one of the poachers.  Hearing his dog in
the thicket, I rushed through the brush, and came in sight of the
hunter as he was retreating down the road.  He came to a halt; and we
had some conversation in a high key.  Of course I threatened to
prosecute him.  I believe that is the thing to do in such cases; but
how I was to do it, when I did not know his name or ancestry, and
couldn't see his face, never occurred to me.  (I remember, now, that
a farmer once proposed to prosecute me when I was fishing in a
trout-brook on his farm, and asked my name for that purpose.)  He
said he should smile to see me prosecute him.

"You can't do it: there ain't no notice up about trespassing."

This view of the common law impressed me; and I said,

"But these are private grounds."

"Private h---!" was all his response.

You can't argue much with a man who has a gun in his hands, when you
have none.  Besides, it might be a needle-gun, for aught I knew.  I
gave it up, and we separated.

There is this disadvantage about having a game preserve attached to
your garden: it makes life too lively.


In these golden latter August days, Nature has come to a serene
equilibrium.  Having flowered and fruited, she is enjoying herself.
I can see how things are going: it is a down-hill business after
this; but, for the time being, it is like swinging in a hammock,-
-such a delicious air, such a graceful repose!  I take off my hat as
I stroll into the garden and look about; and it does seem as if
Nature had sounded a truce.  I did n't ask for it.  I went out with a
hoe; but the serene sweetness disarms me.  Thrice is he armed who has
a long-handled hoe, with a double blade.  Yet to-day I am almost
ashamed to appear in such a belligerent fashion, with this terrible
mitrailleuse of gardening.

The tomatoes are getting tired of ripening, and are beginning to go
into a worthless condition,--green.  The cucumbers cumber the
ground,--great yellow, over-ripe objects, no more to be compared to
the crisp beauty of their youth than is the fat swine of the sty to
the clean little pig.  The nutmeg-melons, having covered themselves
with delicate lace-work, are now ready to leave the vine.  I know
they are ripe if they come easily off the stem.

Moral Observations.  --You can tell when people are ripe by their
willingness to let go.  Richness and ripeness are not exactly the
same.  The rich are apt to hang to the stem with tenacity.  I have
nothing against the rich.  If I were not virtuous, I should like to
be rich.  But we cannot have everything, as the man said when he was
down with small-pox and cholera, and the yellow fever came into the

Now, the grapes, soaked in this liquid gold, called air, begin to
turn, mindful of the injunction, "to turn or burn." The clusters
under the leaves are getting quite purple, but look better than they
taste.  I think there is no danger but they will be gathered as soon
as they are ripe.  One of the blessings of having an open garden is,
that I do not have to watch my fruit: a dozen youngsters do that, and
let it waste no time after it matures.  I wish it were possible to
grow a variety of grape like the explosive bullets, that should
explode in the stomach: the vine would make such a nice border for
the garden,--a masked battery of grape.  The pears, too, are getting
russet and heavy; and here and there amid the shining leaves one
gleams as ruddy as the cheek of the Nutbrown Maid.  The Flemish
Beauties come off readily from the stem, if I take them in my hand:
they say all kinds of beauty come off by handling.

The garden is peace as much as if it were an empire.  Even the man's
cow lies down under the tree where the man has tied her, with such an
air of contentment, that I have small desire to disturb her.  She is
chewing my cud as if it were hers.  Well, eat on and chew on,
melancholy brute.  I have not the heart to tell the man to take you
away: and it would do no good if I had; he wouldn't do it.  The man
has not a taking way.  Munch on, ruminant creature.

The frost will soon come; the grass will be brown.  I will be
charitable while this blessed lull continues: for our benevolences
must soon be turned to other and more distant objects,--the
amelioration of the condition of the Jews, the education of
theological young men in the West, and the like.

I do not know that these appearances are deceitful; but I
sufficiently know that this is a wicked world, to be glad that I have
taken it on shares.  In fact, I could not pick the pears alone, not
to speak of eating them.  When I climb the trees, and throw down the
dusky fruit, Polly catches it in her apron; nearly always, however,
letting go when it drops, the fall is so sudden.  The sun gets in her
face; and, every time a pear comes down it is a surprise, like having
a tooth out, she says.

"If I could n't hold an apron better than that!

But the sentence is not finished : it is useless to finish that sort
of a sentence in this delicious weather.  Besides, conversation is
dangerous.  As, for instance, towards evening I am preparing a bed
for a sowing of turnips,--not that I like turnips in the least; but
this is the season to sow them.  Polly comes out, and extemporizes
her usual seat to "consult me" about matters while I work.  I well
know that something is coming.

"This is a rotation of crops, is n't it?"

"Yes: I have rotated the gone-to-seed lettuce off, and expect to
rotate the turnips in; it is a political fashion."

"Is n't it a shame that the tomatoes are all getting ripe at once?
What a lot of squashes!  I wish we had an oyster-bed.  Do you want me
to help you any more than I am helping?"

"No, I thank you." (I wonder what all this is about?)

"Don't you think we could sell some strawberries next year?"

"By all means, sell anything.  We shall no doubt get rich out of this

"Don't be foolish."

And now!

"Don't you think it would be nice to have a?"....

And Polly unfolds a small scheme of benevolence, which is not quite
enough to break me, and is really to be executed in an economical
manner.  "Would n't that be nice?"

"Oh, yes!  And where is the money to come from?"

"I thought we had agreed to sell the strawberries."

"Certainly.  But I think we would make more money if we sold the
plants now."

"Well," said Polly, concluding the whole matter, "I am going to do
it." And, having thus "consulted" me, Polly goes away; and I put in
the turnip-seeds quite thick, determined to raise enough to sell.
But not even this mercenary thought can ruffle my mind as I rake off
the loamy bed.  I notice, however, that the spring smell has gone out
of the dirt.  That went into the first crop.

In this peaceful unison with yielding nature, I was a little taken
aback to find that a new enemy had turned up.  The celery had just
rubbed through the fiery scorching of the drought, and stood a faint
chance to grow; when I noticed on the green leaves a big green-and-
black worm, called, I believe, the celery-worm: but I don't know who
called him; I am sure I did not.  It was almost ludicrous that he
should turn up here, just at the end of the season, when I supposed
that my war with the living animals was over.  Yet he was, no doubt,
predestinated; for he went to work as cheerfully as if he had arrived
in June, when everything was fresh and vigorous.  It beats me--Nature
does.  I doubt not, that, if I were to leave my garden now for a
week, it would n't know me on my return.  The patch I scratched over
for the turnips, and left as clean as earth, is already full of
ambitious "pusley," which grows with all the confidence of youth and
the skill of old age.  It beats the serpent as an emblem of
immortality.  While all the others of us in the garden rest and sit
in comfort a moment, upon the summit of the summer, it is as rampant
and vicious as ever.  It accepts no armistice.


It is said that absence conquers all things, love included; but it
has a contrary effect on a garden.  I was absent for two or three
weeks.  I left my garden a paradise, as paradises go in this
protoplastic world; and when I returned, the trail of the serpent was
over it all, so to speak.  (This is in addition to the actual snakes
in it, which are large enough to strangle children of average size.)
I asked Polly if she had seen to the garden while I was away, and she
said she had.  I found that all the melons had been seen to, and the
early grapes and pears.  The green worm had also seen to about half
the celery; and a large flock of apparently perfectly domesticated
chickens were roaming over the ground, gossiping in the hot September
sun, and picking up any odd trifle that might be left.  On the whole,
the garden could not have been better seen to; though it would take a
sharp eye to see the potato-vines amid the rampant grass and weeds.

The new strawberry-plants, for one thing, had taken advantage of my
absence.  Every one of them had sent out as many scarlet runners as
an Indian tribe has.  Some of them had blossomed; and a few had gone
so far as to bear ripe berries,--long, pear-shaped fruit, hanging
like the ear-pendants of an East Indian bride.  I could not but
admire the persistence of these zealous plants, which seemed
determined to propagate themselves both by seeds and roots, and make
sure of immortality in some way.  Even the Colfax variety was as
ambitious as the others.  After having seen the declining letter of
Mr. Colfax, I did not suppose that this vine would run any more, and
intended to root it out.  But one can never say what these
politicians mean; and I shall let this variety grow until after the
next election, at least; although I hear that the fruit is small, and
rather sour.  If there is any variety of strawberries that really
declines to run, and devotes itself to a private life of fruit-
bearing, I should like to get it.  I may mention here, since we are
on politics, that the Doolittle raspberries had sprawled all over the
strawberry-bed's: so true is it that politics makes strange

But another enemy had come into the strawberries, which, after all
that has been said in these papers, I am almost ashamed to mention.
But does the preacher in the pulpit, Sunday after Sunday, year after
year, shrink from speaking of sin?  I refer, of course, to the
greatest enemy of mankind, " p-sl-y."  The ground was carpeted with
it.  I should think that this was the tenth crop of the season; and
it was as good as the first.  I see no reason why our northern soil
is not as prolific as that of the tropics, and will not produce as
many crops in the year.  The mistake we make is in trying to force
things that are not natural to it.  I have no doubt that, if we turn
our attention to "pusley," we can beat the world.

I had no idea, until recently, how generally this simple and thrifty
plant is feared and hated.  Far beyond what I had regarded as the
bounds of civilization, it is held as one of the mysteries of a
fallen world; accompanying the home missionary on his wanderings, and
preceding the footsteps of the Tract Society.  I was not long ago in
the Adirondacks.  We had built a camp for the night, in the heart of
the woods, high up on John's Brook and near the foot of Mount Marcy:
I can see the lovely spot now.  It was on the bank of the crystal,
rocky stream, at the foot of high and slender falls, which poured
into a broad amber basin.  Out of this basin we had just taken trout
enough for our supper, which had been killed, and roasted over the
fire on sharp sticks, and eaten before they had an opportunity to
feel the chill of this deceitful world.  We were lying under the hut
of spruce-bark, on fragrant hemlock-boughs, talking, after supper.
In front of us was a huge fire of birchlogs; and over it we could see
the top of the falls glistening in the moonlight; and the roar of the
falls, and the brawling of the stream near us, filled all the ancient
woods.  It was a scene upon which one would think no thought of sin
could enter.  We were talking with old Phelps, the guide.  Old Phelps
is at once guide, philosopher, and friend.  He knows the woods and
streams and mountains, and their savage inhabitants, as well as we
know all our rich relations and what they are doing; and in lonely
bear-hunts and sable-trappings he has thought out and solved most of
the problems of life.  As he stands in his wood-gear, he is as
grizzly as an old cedar-tree; and he speaks in a high falsetto voice,
which would be invaluable to a boatswain in a storm at sea.

We had been talking of all subjects about which rational men are
interested,--bears, panthers, trapping, the habits of trout, the
tariff, the internal revenue (to wit, the injustice of laying such a
tax on tobacco, and none on dogs: --There ain't no dog in the United
States," says the guide, at the top of his voice, "that earns his
living"), the Adventists, the Gorner Grat, Horace Greeley, religion,
the propagation of seeds in the wilderness (as, for instance, where
were the seeds lying for ages that spring up into certain plants and
flowers as soon as a spot is cleared anywhere in the most remote
forest; and why does a growth of oak-trees always come up after a
growth of pine has been removed?)--in short, we had pretty nearly
reached a solution of many mysteries, when Phelps suddenly exclaimed
with uncommon energy,--

"Wall, there's one thing that beats me!"

"What's that?" we asked with undisguised curiosity.

"That's 'pusley'!" he replied, in the tone of a man who has come to
one door in life which is hopelessly shut, and from which he retires
in despair.

"Where it comes from I don't know, nor what to do with it.  It's in
my garden; and I can't get rid of it.  It beats me."

About "pusley" the guide had no theory and no hope.  A feeling of awe
came over me, as we lay there at midnight, hushed by the sound of the
stream and the rising wind in the spruce-tops.  Then man can go
nowhere that "pusley" will not attend him.  Though he camp on the
Upper Au Sable, or penetrate the forest where rolls the Allegash, and
hear no sound save his own allegations, he will not escape it.  It
has entered the happy valley of Keene, although there is yet no
church there, and only a feeble school part of the year.  Sin travels
faster than they that ride in chariots.  I take my hoe, and begin;
but I feel that I am warring against something whose roots take hold
on H.

By the time a man gets to be eighty, he learns that he is compassed
by limitations, and that there has been a natural boundary set to his
individual powers.  As he goes on in life, he begins to doubt his
ability to destroy all evil and to reform all abuses, and to suspect
that there will be much left to do after he has done.  I stepped into
my garden in the spring, not doubting that I should be easily master
of the weeds.  I have simply learned that an institution which is at
least six thousand years old, and I believe six millions, is not to
be put down in one season.

I have been digging my potatoes, if anybody cares to know it.  I
planted them in what are called "Early Rose," --the rows a little
less than three feet apart; but the vines came to an early close in
the drought.  Digging potatoes is a pleasant, soothing occupation,
but not poetical.  It is good for the mind, unless they are too small
(as many of mine are), when it begets a want of gratitude to the
bountiful earth.  What small potatoes we all are, compared with what
we might be!  We don't plow deep enough, any of us, for one thing.  I
shall put in the plow next year, and give the tubers room enough.  I
think they felt the lack of it this year: many of them seemed ashamed
to come out so small.  There is great pleasure in turning out the
brown-jacketed fellows into the sunshine of a royal September day,
and seeing them glisten as they lie thickly strewn on the warm soil.
Life has few such moments.  But then they must be picked up.  The
picking-up, in this world, is always the unpleasant part of it.


I do not hold myself bound to answer the question, Does gardening
pay?  It is so difficult to define what is meant by paying.  There is
a popular notion that, unless a thing pays, you had better let it
alone; and I may say that there is a public opinion that will not let
a man or woman continue in the indulgence of a fancy that does not
pay.  And public opinion is stronger than the legislature, and nearly
as strong as the ten commandments: I therefore yield to popular
clamor when I discuss the profit of my garden.

As I look at it, you might as well ask, Does a sunset pay?  I know
that a sunset is commonly looked on as a cheap entertainment; but it
is really one of the most expensive.  It is true that we can all have
front seats, and we do not exactly need to dress for it as we do for
the opera; but the conditions under which it is to be enjoyed are
rather dear.  Among them I should name a good suit of clothes,
including some trifling ornament,--not including back hair for one
sex, or the parting of it in the middle for the other.  I should add
also a good dinner, well cooked and digestible; and the cost of a
fair education, extended, perhaps, through generations in which
sensibility and love of beauty grew.  What I mean is, that if a man
is hungry and naked, and half a savage, or with the love of beauty
undeveloped in him, a sunset is thrown away on him : so that it
appears that the conditions of the enjoyment of a sunset are as
costly as anything in our civilization.

Of course there is no such thing as absolute value in this world.
You can only estimate what a thing is worth to you.  Does gardening
in a city pay?  You might as well ask if it pays to keep hens, or a
trotting-horse, or to wear a gold ring, or to keep your lawn cut, or
your hair cut.  It is as you like it.  In a certain sense, it is a
sort of profanation to consider if my garden pays, or to set a money-
value upon my delight in it.  I fear that you could not put it in
money.  Job had the right idea in his mind when he asked, "Is there
any taste in the white of an egg?"  Suppose there is not!  What!
shall I set a price upon the tender asparagus or the crisp lettuce,
which made the sweet spring a reality?  Shall I turn into merchandise
the red strawberry, the pale green pea, the high-flavored raspberry,
the sanguinary beet, that love-plant the tomato, and the corn which
did not waste its sweetness on the desert air, but, after flowing in
a sweet rill through all our summer life, mingled at last with the
engaging bean in a pool of succotash?  Shall I compute in figures
what daily freshness and health and delight the garden yields, let
alone the large crop of anticipation I gathered as soon as the first
seeds got above ground?  I appeal to any gardening man of sound mind,
if that which pays him best in gardening is not that which he cannot
show in his trial-balance.  Yet I yield to public opinion, when I
proceed to make such a balance; and I do it with the utmost
confidence in figures.

I select as a representative vegetable, in order to estimate the cost
of gardening, the potato.  In my statement, I shall not include the
interest on the value of the land.  I throw in the land, because it
would otherwise have stood idle: the thing generally raised on city
land is taxes.  I therefore make the following statement of the cost
and income of my potato-crop, a part of it estimated in connection
with other garden labor.  I have tried to make it so as to satisfy
the income-tax collector:--

Manure........................................ 8.00
Assistance in planting and digging, 3 days.... 6.75
Labor of self in planting, hoeing, digging,
     picking up, 5 days at 17 cents........... 0.85
                   Total Cost................$17.60

Two thousand five hundred mealy potatoes,
     at 2 cents..............................$50.00
Small potatoes given to neighbor's pig.......   .50

                   Total return..............$50.50

              Balance, profit in cellar......$32.90

Some of these items need explanation.  I have charged nothing for my
own time waiting for the potatoes to grow.  My time in hoeing,
fighting weeds, etc., is put in at five days: it may have been a
little more.  Nor have I put in anything for cooling drinks while
hoeing.  I leave this out from principle, because I always recommend
water to others.  I had some difficulty in fixing the rate of my own
wages.  It was the first time I had an opportunity of paying what I
thought labor was worth; and I determined to make a good thing of it
for once.  I figured it right down to European prices,--seventeen
cents a day for unskilled labor.  Of course, I boarded myself.  I
ought to say that I fixed the wages after the work was done, or I
might have been tempted to do as some masons did who worked for me at
four dollars a day.  They lay in the shade and slept the sleep of
honest toil full half the time, at least all the time I was away.  I
have reason to believe that when the wages of mechanics are raised to
eight and ten dollars a day, the workmen will not come at all: they
will merely send their cards.

I do not see any possible fault in the above figures.  I ought to say
that I deferred putting a value on the potatoes until I had footed up
the debit column.  This is always the safest way to do.  I had
twenty-five bushels.  I roughly estimated that there are one hundred
good ones to the bushel.  Making my own market price, I asked two
cents apiece for them.  This I should have considered dirt cheap last
June, when I was going down the rows with the hoe.  If any one thinks
that two cents each is high, let him try to raise them.

Nature is "awful smart." I intend to be complimentary in saying so.
She shows it in little things.  I have mentioned my attempt to put in
a few modest turnips, near the close of the season.  I sowed the
seeds, by the way, in the most liberal manner.  Into three or four
short rows I presume I put enough to sow an acre; and they all came
up,--came up as thick as grass, as crowded and useless as babies in a
Chinese village.  Of course, they had to be thinned out; that is,
pretty much all pulled up; and it took me a long time; for it takes a
conscientious man some time to decide which are the best and
healthiest plants to spare.  After all, I spared too many.  That is
the great danger everywhere in this world (it may not be in the
next): things are too thick; we lose all in grasping for too much.
The Scotch say, that no man ought to thin out his own turnips,
because he will not sacrifice enough to leave room for the remainder
to grow: he should get his neighbor, who does not care for the
plants, to do it.  But this is mere talk, and aside from the point:
if there is anything I desire to avoid in these agricultural papers,
it is digression.  I did think that putting in these turnips so late
in the season, when general activity has ceased, and in a remote part
of the garden, they would pass unnoticed.  But Nature never even
winks, as I can see.  The tender blades were scarcely out of the
ground when she sent a small black flv, which seemed to have been
born and held in reserve for this purpose,--to cut the leaves.  They
speedily made lace-work of the whole bed.  Thus everything appears to
have its special enemy,--except, perhaps, p----y: nothing ever
troubles that.

Did the Concord Grape ever come to more luscious perfection than this
year?  or yield so abundantly?  The golden sunshine has passed into
them, and distended their purple skins almost to bursting.  Such
heavy clusters!  such bloom!  such sweetness!  such meat and drink in
their round globes!  What a fine fellow Bacchus would have been, if
he had only signed the pledge when he was a young man!  I have taken
off clusters that were as compact and almost as large as the Black
Hamburgs.  It is slow work picking them.  I do not see how the
gatherers for the vintage ever get off enough.  It takes so long to
disentangle the bunches from the leaves and the interlacing vines and
the supporting tendrils; and then I like to hold up each bunch and
look at it in the sunlight, and get the fragrance and the bloom of
it, and show it to Polly, who is making herself useful, as taster and
companion, at the foot of the ladder, before dropping it into the
basket.  But we have other company.  The robin, the most knowing and
greedy bird out of paradise (I trust he will always be kept out), has
discovered that the grape-crop is uncommonly good, and has come back,
with his whole tribe and family, larger than it was in pea-time.  He
knows the ripest bunches as well as anybody, and tries them all.  If
he would take a whole bunch here and there, say half the number, and
be off with it, I should not so much care.  But he will not.  He
pecks away at all the bunches, and spoils as many as he can.  It is
time he went south.

There is no prettier sight, to my eye, than a gardener on a ladder in
his grape-arbor, in these golden days, selecting the heaviest
clusters of grapes, and handing them down to one and another of a
group of neighbors and friends, who stand under the shade of the
leaves, flecked with the sunlight, and cry, "How sweet!"  "What nice
ones!" and the like,--remarks encouraging to the man on the ladder.
It is great pleasure to see people eat grapes.

Moral Truth. --I have no doubt that grapes taste best in other
people's mouths.  It is an old notion that it is easier to be
generous than to be stingy.  I am convinced that the majority of
people would be generous from selfish motives, if they had the

Philosophical Observation. --Nothing shows one who his friends are
like prosperity and ripe fruit.  I had a good friend in the country,
whom I almost never visited except in cherry-time.  By your fruits
you shall know them.


I like to go into the garden these warm latter days, and muse.  To
muse is to sit in the sun, and not think of anything.  I am not sure
but goodness comes out of people who bask in the sun, as it does out
of a sweet apple roasted before the fire.  The late September and
October sun of this latitude is something like the sun of extreme
Lower Italy: you can stand a good deal of it, and apparently soak a
winter supply into the system.  If one only could take in his winter
fuel in this way!  The next great discovery will, very likely, be the
conservation of sunlight.  In the correlation of forces, I look to
see the day when the superfluous sunshine will be utilized; as, for
instance, that which has burned up my celery this year will be
converted into a force to work the garden.

This sitting in the sun amid the evidences of a ripe year is the
easiest part of gardening I have experienced.  But what a combat has
gone on here!  What vegetable passions have run the whole gamut of
ambition, selfishness, greed of place, fruition, satiety, and now
rest here in the truce of exhaustion!  What a battle-field, if one
may look upon it so!  The corn has lost its ammunition, and stacked
arms in a slovenly, militia sort of style.  The ground vines are
torn, trampled, and withered; and the ungathered cucumbers, worthless
melons, and golden squashes lie about like the spent bombs and
exploded shells of a battle-field.  So the cannon-balls lay on the
sandy plain before Fort Fisher after the capture.  So the great
grassy meadow at Munich, any morning during the October Fest, is
strewn with empty beermugs.  History constantly repeats itself.
There is a large crop of moral reflections in my garden, which
anybody is at liberty to gather who passes this way.

I have tried to get in anything that offered temptation to sin.
There would be no thieves if there was nothing to steal; and I
suppose, in the thieves' catechism, the provider is as bad as the
thief; and, probably, I am to blame for leaving out a few winter
pears, which some predatory boy carried off on Sunday.  At first I
was angry, and said I should like to have caught the urchin in the
act; but, on second thought, I was glad I did not.  The interview
could not have been pleasant: I shouldn't have known what to do with
him.  The chances are, that he would have escaped away with his
pockets full, and jibed at me from a safe distance.  And, if I had
got my hands on him, I should have been still more embarrassed.  If I
had flogged him, he would have got over it a good deal sooner than I
should.  That sort of boy does not mind castigation any more than he
does tearing his trousers in the briers.  If I had treated him with
kindness, and conciliated him with grapes, showing him the enormity
of his offense, I suppose he would have come the next night, and
taken the remainder of the grapes.  The truth is, that the public
morality is lax on the subject of fruit.  If anybody puts arsenic or
gunpowder into his watermelons, he is universally denounced as a
stingy old murderer by the community.  A great many people regard
growing fruit as lawful prey, who would not think of breaking into
your cellar to take it.  I found a man once in my raspberry-bushes,
early in the season, when we were waiting for a dishful to ripen.
Upon inquiring what he was about, he said he was only eating some;
and the operation seemed to be so natural and simple, that I disliked
to disturb him.  And I am not very sure that one has a right to the
whole of an abundant crop of fruit until he has gathered it.  At
least, in a city garden, one might as well conform his theory to the
practice of the community.

As for children (and it sometimes looks as if the chief products of
my garden were small boys and hens), it is admitted that they are
barbarians.  There is no exception among them to this condition of
barbarism.  This is not to say that they are not attractive; for they
have the virtues as well as the vices of a primitive people.  It is
held by some naturalists that the child is only a zoophyte, with a
stomach, and feelers radiating from it in search of something to fill
it.  It is true that a child is always hungry all over: but he is
also curious all over; and his curiosity is excited about as early as
his hunger.  He immediately begins to put out his moral feelers into
the unknown and the infinite to discover what sort of an existence
this is into which he has come.  His imagination is quite as hungry
as his stomach.  And again and again it is stronger than his other
appetites.  You can easily engage his imagination in a story which
will make him forget his dinner.  He is credulous and superstitious,
and open to all wonder.  In this, he is exactly like the savage
races.  Both gorge themselves on the marvelous; and all the unknown
is marvelous to them.  I know the general impression is that children
must be governed through their stomachs.  I think they can be
controlled quite as well through their curiosity; that being the more
craving and imperious of the two.  I have seen children follow about
a person who told them stories, and interested them with his charming
talk, as greedily as if his pockets had been full of bon-bons.

Perhaps this fact has no practical relation to gardening; but it
occurs to me that, if I should paper the outside of my high board
fence with the leaves of "The Arabian Nights," it would afford me a
good deal of protection,--more, in fact, than spikes in the top,
which tear trousers and encourage profanity, but do not save much
fruit.  A spiked fence is a challenge to any boy of spirit.  But if
the fence were papered with fairy-tales, would he not stop to read
them until it was too late for him to climb into the garden?  I don't
know.  Human nature is vicious.  The boy might regard the picture of
the garden of the Hesperides only as an advertisement of what was
over the fence.  I begin to find that the problem of raising fruit is
nothing to that of getting it after it has matured.  So long as the
law, just in many respects, is in force against shooting birds and
small boys, the gardener may sow in tears and reap in vain.

The power of a boy is, to me, something fearful.  Consider what he
can do.  You buy and set out a choice pear-tree; you enrich the earth
for it; you train and trim it, and vanquish the borer, and watch its
slow growth.  At length it rewards your care by producing two or
three pears, which you cut up and divide in the family, declaring the
flavor of the bit you eat to be something extraordinary.  The next
year, the little tree blossoms full, and sets well; and in the autumn
has on its slender, drooping limbs half a bushel of fruit, daily
growing more delicious in the sun.  You show it to your friends,
reading to them the French name, which you can never remember, on the
label; and you take an honest pride in the successful fruit of long
care.  That night your pears shall be required of you by a boy!
Along comes an irresponsible urchin, who has not been growing much
longer than the tree, with not twenty-five cents worth of clothing on
him, and in five minutes takes off every pear, and retires into safe
obscurity.  In five minutes the remorseless boy has undone your work
of years, and with the easy nonchalance, I doubt not, of any agent of
fate, in whose path nothing is sacred or safe.

And it is not of much consequence.  The boy goes on his way,--to
Congress, or to State Prison: in either place he will be accused of
stealing, perhaps wrongfully.  You learn, in time, that it is better
to have had pears and lost them than not to have had pears at all.
You come to know that the least (and rarest) part of the pleasure of
raising fruit is the vulgar eating it.  You recall your delight in
conversing with the nurseryman, and looking at his illustrated
catalogues, where all the pears are drawn perfect in form, and of
extra size, and at that exact moment between ripeness and decay which
it is so impossible to hit in practice.  Fruit cannot be raised on
this earth to taste as you imagine those pears would taste.  For
years you have this pleasure, unalloyed by any disenchanting reality.
How you watch the tender twigs in spring, and the freshly forming
bark, hovering about the healthy growing tree with your pruning-knife
many a sunny morning!  That is happiness.  Then, if you know it, you
are drinking the very wine of life; and when the sweet juices of the
earth mount the limbs, and flow down the tender stem, ripening and
reddening the pendent fruit, you feel that you somehow stand at the
source of things, and have no unimportant share in the processes of
Nature.  Enter at this moment boy the destroyer, whose office is that
of preserver as well; for, though he removes the fruit from your
sight, it remains in your memory immortally ripe and desirable.  The
gardener needs all these consolations of a high philosophy.


Regrets are idle; yet history is one long regret. Everything might
have turned out so differently!  If Ravaillac had not been imprisoned
for debt, he would not have stabbed Henry of Navarre.  If William of
Orange had escaped assassination by Philip's emissaries; if France
had followed the French Calvin, and embraced Protestant Calvinism, as
it came very near doing towards the end of the sixteenth century; if
the Continental ammunition had not given out at Bunker's Hill; if
Blucher had not "come up" at Waterloo,--the lesson is, that things do
not come up unless they are planted.  When you go behind the
historical scenery, you find there is a rope and pulley to effect
every transformation which has astonished you.  It was the rascality
of a minister and a contractor five years before that lost the
battle; and the cause of the defeat was worthless ammunition.  I
should like to know how many wars have been caused by fits of
indigestion, and how many more dynasties have been upset by the love
of woman than by the hate of man.  It is only because we are ill
informed that anything surprises us; and we are disappointed because
we expect that for which we have not provided.

I had too vague expectations of what my garden would do of itself.  A
garden ought to produce one everything,--just as a business ought to
support a man, and a house ought to keep itself.  We had a convention
lately to resolve that the house should keep itself; but it won't.
There has been a lively time in our garden this summer; but it seems
to me there is very little to show for it.  It has been a terrible
campaign; but where is the indemnity?  Where are all "sass" and
Lorraine?  It is true that we have lived on the country; but we
desire, besides, the fruits of the war.  There are no onions, for one
thing.  I am quite ashamed to take people into my garden, and have
them notice the absence of onions.  It is very marked.  In onion is
strength; and a garden without it lacks flavor.  The onion in its
satin wrappings is among the most beautiful of vegetables; and it is
the only one that represents the essence of things.  It can almost be
said to have a soul.  You take off coat after coat) and the onion is
still there; and, when the last one is removed, who dare say that the
onion itself is destroyed, though you can weep over its departed
spirit?  If there is any one thing on this fallen earth that the
angels in heaven weep over--more than another, it is the onion.

I know that there is supposed to be a prejudice against the onion;
but I think there is rather a cowardice in regard to it.  I doubt not
that all men and women love the onion; but few confess their love.
Affection for it is concealed.  Good New-Englanders are as shy of
owning it as they are of talking about religion.  Some people have
days on which they eat onions,--what you might call "retreats," or
their "Thursdays." The act is in the nature of a religious ceremony,
an Eleusinian mystery; not a breath of it must get abroad.  On that
day they see no company; they deny the kiss of greeting to the
dearest friend; they retire within themselves, and hold communion
with one of the most pungent and penetrating manifestations of the
moral vegetable world.  Happy is said to be the family which can eat
onions together.  They are, for the time being, separate from the
world, and have a harmony of aspiration.  There is a hint here for
the reformers.  Let them become apostles of the onion; let them eat,
and preach it to their fellows, and circulate tracts of it in the
form of seeds.  In the onion is the hope of universal brotherhood.
If all men will eat onions at all times, they will come into a
universal sympathy.  Look at Italy.  I hope I am not mistaken as to
the cause of her unity.  It was the Reds who preached the gospel
which made it possible.  All the Reds of Europe, all the sworn
devotees of the mystic Mary Ann, eat of the common vegetable.  Their
oaths are strong with it.  It is the food, also, of the common people
of Italy.  All the social atmosphere of that delicious land is laden
with it.  Its odor is a practical democracy.  In the churches all are
alike: there is one faith, one smell.  The entrance of Victor Emanuel
into Rome is only the pompous proclamation of a unity which garlic
had already accomplished; and yet we, who boast of our democracy, eat
onions in secret.

I now see that I have left out many of the most moral elements.
Neither onions, parsnips, carrots, nor cabbages are here.  I have
never seen a garden in the autumn before, without the uncouth cabbage
in it; but my garden gives the impression of a garden without a head.
The cabbage is the rose of Holland.  I admire the force by which it
compacts its crisp leaves into a solid head.  The secret of it would
be priceless to the world.  We should see less expansive foreheads
with nothing within.  Even the largest cabbages are not always the
best.  But I mention these things, not from any sympathy I have with
the vegetables named, but to show how hard it is to go contrary to
the expectations of society.  Society expects every man to have
certain things in his garden.  Not to raise cabbage is as if one had
no pew in church.  Perhaps we shall come some day to free churches
and free gardens; when I can show my neighbor through my tired
garden, at the end of the season, when skies are overcast, and brown
leaves are swirling down, and not mind if he does raise his eyebrows
when he observes, "Ah!  I see you have none of this, and of that." At
present we want the moral courage to plant only what we need; to
spend only what will bring us peace, regardless of what is going on
over the fence.  We are half ruined by conformity; but we should be
wholly ruined without it; and I presume I shall make a garden next
year that will be as popular as possible.

And this brings me to what I see may be a crisis in life.  I begin to
feel the temptation of experiment.  Agriculture, horticulture,
floriculture,--these are vast fields, into which one may wander away,
and never be seen more.  It seemed to me a very simple thing, this
gardening; but it opens up astonishingly.  It is like the infinite
possibilities in worsted-work.  Polly sometimes says to me, "I wish
you would call at Bobbin's, and match that skein of worsted for me,
when you are in town."  Time was, I used to accept such a commission
with alacrity and self-confidence.  I went to Bobbin's, and asked one
of his young men, with easy indifference, to give me some of that.
The young man, who is as handsome a young man as ever I looked at,
and who appears to own the shop, and whose suave superciliousness
would be worth everything to a cabinet minister who wanted to repel
applicants for place, says, "I have n't an ounce: I have sent to
Paris, and I expect it every day.  I have a good deal of difficulty
in getting that shade in my assortment."  To think that he is in
communication with Paris, and perhaps with Persia!  Respect for such
a being gives place to awe.  I go to another shop, holding fast to my
scarlet clew.  There I am shown a heap of stuff, with more colors and
shades than I had supposed existed in all the world.  What a blaze of
distraction!  I have been told to get as near the shade as I could;
and so I compare and contrast, till the whole thing seems to me about
of one color.  But I can settle my mind on nothing.  The affair
assumes a high degree of importance.  I am satisfied with nothing but
perfection.  I don't know what may happen if the shade is not
matched.  I go to another shop, and another, and another.  At last a
pretty girl, who could make any customer believe that green is blue,
matches the shade in a minute.  I buy five cents worth.  That was the
order.  Women are the most economical persons that ever were.  I have
spent two hours in this five-cent business; but who shall say they
were wasted, when I take the stuff home, and Polly says it is a
perfect match, and looks so pleased, and holds it up with the work,
at arm's length, and turns her head one side, and then takes her
needle, and works it in?  Working in, I can see, my own obligingness
and amiability with every stitch.  Five cents is dirt cheap for such
a pleasure.

The things I may do in my garden multiply on my vision.  How
fascinating have the catalogues of the nurserymen become!  Can I
raise all those beautiful varieties, each one of which is preferable
to the other?  Shall I try all the kinds of grapes, and all the sorts
of pears?  I have already fifteen varieties of strawberries (vines);
and I have no idea that I have hit the right one.  Must I subscribe
to all the magazines and weekly papers which offer premiums of the
best vines?  Oh, that all the strawberries were rolled into one, that
I could inclose all its lusciousness in one bite!  Oh for the good
old days when a strawberry was a strawberry, and there was no
perplexity about it!  There are more berries now than churches; and
no one knows what to believe.  I have seen gardens which were all
experiment, given over to every new thing, and which produced little
or nothing to the owners, except the pleasure of expectation.  People
grow pear-trees at great expense of time and money, which never yield
them more than four pears to the tree.  The fashions of ladies'
bonnets are nothing to the fashions of nurserymen.  He who attempts
to follow them has a business for life; but his life may be short.
If I enter upon this wide field of horticultural experiment, I shall
leave peace behind; and I may expect the ground to open, and swallow
me and all my fortune.  May Heaven keep me to the old roots and herbs
of my forefathers!  Perhaps in the world of modern reforms this is
not possible; but I intend now to cultivate only the standard things,
and learn to talk knowingly of the rest.  Of course, one must keep up
a reputation.  I have seen people greatly enjoy themselves, and
elevate themselves in their own esteem, in a wise and critical talk
about all the choice wines, while they were sipping a decoction, the
original cost of which bore no relation to the price of grapes.


The closing scenes are not necessarily funereal.  A garden should be
got ready for winter as well as for summer.  When one goes into
winter-quarters, he wants everything neat and trim.  Expecting high
winds, we bring everything into close reef.  Some men there are who
never shave (if they are so absurd as ever to shave), except when
they go abroad, and who do not take care to wear polished boots in
the bosoms of their families.  I like a man who shaves (next to one
who does n't shave) to satisfy his own conscience, and not for
display, and who dresses as neatly at home as he does anywhere.  Such
a man will be likely to put his garden in complete order before the
snow comes, so that its last days shall not present a scene of
melancholy ruin and decay.

I confess that, after such an exhausting campaign, I felt a great
temptation to retire, and call it a drawn engagement.  But better
counsels prevailed.  I determined that the weeds should not sleep on
the field of battle.  I routed them out, and leveled their works.  I
am master of the situation.  If I have made a desert, I at least have
peace; but it is not quite a desert.  The strawberries, the
raspberries, the celery, the turnips, wave green above the clean
earth, with no enemy in sight.  In these golden October days no work
is more fascinating than this getting ready for spring.  The sun is
no longer a burning enemy, but a friend, illuminating all the open
space, and warming the mellow soil.  And the pruning and clearing
away of rubbish, and the fertilizing, go on with something of the
hilarity of a wake, rather than the despondency of other funerals.
When the wind begins to come out of the northwest of set purpose, and
to sweep the ground with low and searching fierceness, very different
from the roistering, jolly bluster of early fall, I have put the
strawberries under their coverlet of leaves, pruned the grape-vines
and laid them under the soil, tied up the tender plants, given the
fruit trees a good, solid meal about the roots; and so I turn away,
writing Resurgam on the gatepost.  And Calvin, aware that the summer
is past and the harvest is ended, and that a mouse in the kitchen is
worth two birds gone south, scampers away to the house with his tail
in the air.

And yet I am not perfectly at rest in my mind.  I know that this is
only a truce until the parties recover their exhausted energies.  All
winter long the forces of chemistry will be mustering under ground,
repairing the losses, calling up the reserves, getting new strength
from my surface-fertilizing bounty, and making ready for the spring
campaign.  They will open it before I am ready: while the snow is
scarcely melted, and the ground is not passable, they will begin to
move on my works; and the fight will commence.  Yet how deceitfully
it will open to the music of birds and the soft enchantment of the
spring mornings!  I shall even be permitted to win a few skirmishes:
the secret forces will even wait for me to plant and sow, and show my
full hand, before they come on in heavy and determined assault.
There are already signs of an internecine fight with the devil-grass,
which has intrenched itself in a considerable portion of my
garden-patch.  It contests the ground inch by inch; and digging it
out is very much such labor as eating a piece of choke-cherry pie
with the stones all in.  It is work, too, that I know by experience I
shall have to do alone.  Every man must eradicate his own devil-
grass.  The neighbors who have leisure to help you in grape-picking
time are all busy when devil-grass is most aggressive.  My neighbors'
visits are well timed: it is only their hens which have seasons for
their own.

I am told that abundant and rank weeds are signs of a rich soil; but
I have noticed that a thin, poor soil grows little but weeds.  I am
inclined to think that the substratum is the same, and that the only
choice in this world is what kind of weeds you will have.  I am not
much attracted by the gaunt, flavorless mullein, and the wiry thistle
of upland country pastures, where the grass is always gray, as if the
world were already weary and sick of life.  The awkward, uncouth
wickedness of remote country-places, where culture has died out after
the first crop, is about as disagreeable as the ranker and richer
vice of city life, forced by artificial heat and the juices of an
overfed civilization.  There is no doubt that, on the whole, the rich
soil is the best: the fruit of it has body and flavor.  To what
affluence does a woman (to take an instance, thank Heaven, which is
common) grow, with favoring circumstances, under the stimulus of the
richest social and intellectual influences!  I am aware that there
has been a good deal said in poetry about the fringed gentian and the
harebell of rocky districts and waysides, and I know that it is
possible for maidens to bloom in very slight soil into a wild-wood
grace and beauty; yet, the world through, they lack that wealth of
charms, that tropic affluence of both person and mind, which higher
and more stimulating culture brings,--the passion as well as the soul
glowing in the Cloth-of-Gold rose.  Neither persons nor plants are
ever fully themselves until they are cultivated to their highest.  I,
for one, have no fear that society will be too much enriched.  The
only question is about keeping down the weeds; and I have learned by
experience, that we need new sorts of hoes, and more disposition to
use them.

Moral Deduction. --The difference between soil and society is
evident.  We bury decay in the earth; we plant in it the perishing;
we feed it with offensive refuse: but nothing grows out of it that is
not clean; it gives us back life and beauty for our rubbish.  Society
returns us what we give it.

Pretending to reflect upon these things, but in reality watching the
blue-jays, who are pecking at the purple berries of the woodbine on
the south gable, I approach the house.  Polly is picking up chestnuts
on the sward, regardless of the high wind which rattles them about
her head and upon the glass roof of her winter-garden.  The garden, I
see, is filled with thrifty plants, which will make it always summer
there.  The callas about the fountain will be in flower by Christmas:
the plant appears to keep that holiday in her secret heart all
summer.  I close the outer windows as we go along, and congratulate
myself that we are ready for winter.  For the winter-garden I have no
responsibility: Polly has entire charge of it.  I am only required to
keep it heated, and not too hot either; to smoke it often for the
death of the bugs; to water it once a day; to move this and that into
the sun and out of the sun pretty constantly: but she does all the
work.  We never relinquish that theory.

As we pass around the house, I discover a boy in the ravine filling a
bag with chestnuts and hickorynuts.  They are not plenty this year;
and I suggest the propriety of leaving some for us.  The boy is a
little slow to take the idea: but he has apparently found the picking
poor, and exhausted it; for, as he turns away down the glen, he hails
me with,

"Mister, I say, can you tell me where I can find some walnuts?"

The coolness of this world grows upon me.  It is time to go in and
light a wood-fire on the hearth.


     NOTE. --The following brief Memoir of one of the characters in
this book is added by his friend, in the hope that the record of an
exemplary fife in an humble sphere may be of some service to the

     HARTFORD, January, 1880.



Calvin is dead.  His life, long to him, but short for the rest of us,
was not marked by startling adventures, but his character was so
uncommon and his qualities were so worthy of imitation, that I have
been asked by those who personally knew him to set down my
recollections of his career.

His origin and ancestry were shrouded in mystery; even his age was a
matter of pure conjecture.  Although he was of the Maltese race, I
have reason to suppose that he was American by birth as he certainly
was in sympathy.  Calvin was given to me eight years ago by Mrs.
Stowe, but she knew nothing of his age or origin.  He walked into her
house one day out of the great unknown and became at once at home, as
if he had been always a friend of the family.  He appeared to have
artistic and literary tastes, and it was as if he had inquired at the
door if that was the residence of the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin,"
and, upon being assured that it was, bad decided to dwell there.
This is, of course, fanciful, for his antecedents were wholly
unknown, but in his time he could hardly have been in any household
where he would not have heard "Uncle Tom's Cabin" talked about.  When
he came to Mrs.  Stowe, he was as large as he ever was, and
apparently as old as he ever became.  Yet there was in him no
appearance of age; he was in the happy maturity of all his powers,
and you would rather have said that in that maturity he had found the
secret of perpetual youth.  And it was as difficult to believe that
he would ever be aged as it was to imagine that he had ever been in
immature youth.  There was in him a mysterious perpetuity.

After some years, when Mrs. Stowe made her winter home in Florida,
Calvin came to live with us.  From the first moment, he fell into the
ways of the house and assumed a recognized position in the family,--I
say recognized, because after he became known he was always inquired
for by visitors, and in the letters to the other members of the
family he always received a message.  Although the least obtrusive of
beings, his individuality always made itself felt.

His personal appearance had much to do with this, for he was of royal
mould, and had an air of high breeding.  He was large, but he had
nothing of the fat grossness of the celebrated Angora family; though
powerful, he was exquisitely proportioned, and as graceful in every
movement as a young leopard.  When he stood up to open a door--he
opened all the doors with old-fashioned latches--he was portentously
tall, and when stretched on the rug before the fire he seemed too
long for this world--as indeed he was.  His coat was the finest and
softest I have ever seen, a shade of quiet Maltese; and from his
throat downward, underneath, to the white tips of his feet, he wore
the whitest and most delicate ermine; and no person was ever more
fastidiously neat.  In his finely formed head you saw something of
his aristocratic character; the ears were small and cleanly cut,
there was a tinge of pink in the nostrils, his face was handsome, and
the expression of his countenance exceedingly intelligent--I should
call it even a sweet expression, if the term were not inconsistent
with his look of alertness and sagacity.

It is difficult to convey a just idea of his gayety in connection
with his dignity and gravity, which his name expressed.  As we know
nothing of his family, of course it will be understood that Calvin
was his Christian name.  He had times of relaxation into utter
playfulness, delighting in a ball of yarn, catching sportively at
stray ribbons when his mistress was at her toilet, and pursuing his
own tail, with hilarity, for lack of anything better.  He could amuse
himself by the hour, and he did not care for children; perhaps
something in his past was present to his memory.  He had absolutely
no bad habits, and his disposition was perfect.  I never saw him
exactly angry, though I have seen his tail grow to an enormous size
when a strange cat appeared upon his lawn.  He disliked cats,
evidently regarding them as feline and treacherous, and he had no
association with them.  Occasionally there would be heard a night
concert in the shrubbery.  Calvin would ask to have the door opened,
and then you would hear a rush and a "pestzt," and the concert would
explode, and Calvin would quietly come in and resume his seat on the
hearth.  There was no trace of anger in his manner, but he would n't
have any of that about the house.  He had the rare virtue of
magnanimity.  Although he had fixed notions about his own rights, and
extraordinary persistency in getting them, he never showed temper at
a repulse; he simply and firmly persisted till he had what he wanted.
His diet was one point; his idea was that of the scholars about
dictionaries,--to "get the best." He knew as well as any one what was
in the house, and would refuse beef if turkey was to be had; and if
there were oysters, he would wait over the turkey to see if the
oysters would not be forthcoming.  And yet he was not a gross
gourmand; he would eat bread if he saw me eating it, and thought he
was not being imposed on.  His habits of feeding, also, were refined;
he never used a knife, and he would put up his hand and draw the fork
down to his mouth as gracefully as a grown person.  Unless necessity
compelled, he would not eat in the kitchen, but insisted upon his
meals in the dining-room, and would wait patiently, unless a stranger
were present; and then he was sure to importune the visitor, hoping
that the latter was ignorant of the rule of the house, and would give
him something.  They used to say that he preferred as his table-cloth
on the floor a certain well-known church journal; but this was said
by an Episcopalian.  So far as I know, he had no religious
prejudices, except that he did not like the association with
Romanists.  He tolerated the servants, because they belonged to the
house, and would sometimes linger by the kitchen stove; but the
moment visitors came in he arose, opened the door, and marched into
the drawing-room.  Yet he enjoyed the company of his equals, and
never withdrew, no matter how many callers--whom he recognized as of
his society--might come into the drawing-room.  Calvin was fond of
company, but he wanted to choose it; and I have no doubt that his was
an aristocratic fastidiousness rather than one of faith.  It is so
with most people.

The intelligence of Calvin was something phenomenal, in his rank of
life.  He established a method of communicating his wants, and even
some of his sentiments; and he could help himself in many things.
There was a furnace register in a retired room, where he used to go
when he wished to be alone, that he always opened when he desired
more heat; but he never shut it, any more than he shut the door after
himself.  He could do almost everything but speak; and you would
declare sometimes that you could see a pathetic longing to do that in
his intelligent face.  I have no desire to overdraw his qualities,
but if there was one thing in him more noticeable than another, it
was his fondness for nature.  He could content himself for hours at a
low window, looking into the ravine and at the great trees, noting
the smallest stir there; he delighted, above all things, to accompany
me walking about the garden, hearing the birds, getting the smell of
the fresh earth, and rejoicing in the sunshine.  He followed me and
gamboled like a dog, rolling over on the turf and exhibiting his
delight in a hundred ways.  If I worked, he sat and watched me, or
looked off over the bank, and kept his ear open to the twitter in the
cherry-trees.  When it stormed, he was sure to sit at the window,
keenly watching the rain or the snow, glancing up and down at its
falling; and a winter tempest always delighted him.  I think he was
genuinely fond of birds, but, so far as I know, he usually confined
himself to one a day; he never killed, as some sportsmen do, for the
sake of killing, but only as civilized people do,--from necessity.
He was intimate with the flying-squirrels who dwell in the chestnut-
trees,--too intimate, for almost every day in the summer he would
bring in one, until he nearly discouraged them.  He was, indeed, a
superb hunter, and would have been a devastating one, if his bump of
destructiveness had not been offset by a bump of moderation.  There
was very little of the brutality of the lower animals about him; I
don't think he enjoyed rats for themselves, but he knew his business,
and for the first few months of his residence with us he waged an
awful campaign against the horde, and after that his simple presence
was sufficient to deter them from coming on the premises.  Mice
amused him, but he usually considered them too small game to be taken
seriously; I have seen him play for an hour with a mouse, and then
let him go with a royal condescension.  In this whole, matter of
"getting a living," Calvin was a great contrast to the rapacity of
the age in which he lived.

I hesitate a little to speak of his capacity for friendship and the
affectionateness of his nature, for I know from his own reserve that
he would not care to have it much talked about.  We understood each
other perfectly, but we never made any fuss about it; when I spoke
his name and snapped my fingers, he came to me; when I returned home
at night, he was pretty sure to be waiting for me near the gate, and
would rise and saunter along the walk, as if his being there were
purely accidental,--so shy was he commonly of showing feeling; and
when I opened the door, he never rushed in, like a cat, but loitered,
and lounged, as if he had no intention of going in, but would
condescend to.  And yet, the fact was, he knew dinner was ready, and
he was bound to be there.  He kept the run of dinner-time.  It
happened sometimes, during our absence in the summer, that dinner
would be early, and Calvin, walking about the grounds, missed it and
came in late.  But he never made a mistake the second day.  There was
one thing he never did,--he never rushed through an open doorway.  He
never forgot his dignity.  If he had asked to have the door opened,
and was eager to go out, he always went deliberately; I can see him
now standing on the sill, looking about at the sky as if he was
thinking whether it were worth while to take an umbrella, until he
was near having his tail shut in.

His friendship was rather constant than demonstrative.  When we
returned from an absence of nearly two years, Calvin welcomed us with
evident pleasure, but showed his satisfaction rather by tranquil
happiness than by fuming about.  He had the faculty of making us glad
to get home.  It was his constancy that was so attractive.  He liked
companionship, but he wouldn't be petted, or fussed over, or sit in
any one's lap a moment; he always extricated himself from such
familiarity with dignity and with no show of temper.  If there was
any petting to be done, however, he chose to do it.  Often he would
sit looking at me, and then, moved by a delicate affection, come and
pull at my coat and sleeve until he could touch my face with his
nose, and then go away contented.  He had a habit of coming to my
study in the morning, sitting quietly by my side or on the table for
hours, watching the pen run over the paper, occasionally swinging his
tail round for a blotter, and then going to sleep among the papers by
the inkstand.  Or, more rarely, he would watch the writing from a
perch on my shoulder.  Writing always interested him, and, until he
understood it, he wanted to hold the pen.

He always held himself in a kind of reserve with his friend, as if he
had said, "Let us respect our personality, and not make a "mess" of
friendship."  He saw, with Emerson, the risk of degrading it to
trivial conveniency.  "Why insist on rash personal relations with
your friend?"  "Leave this touching and clawing."  Yet I would not
give an unfair notion of his aloofness, his fine sense of the
sacredness of the me and the not-me.  And, at the risk of not being
believed, I will relate an incident, which was often repeated.
Calvin had the practice of passing a portion of the night in the
contemplation of its beauties, and would come into our chamber over
the roof of the conservatory through the open window, summer and
winter, and go to sleep on the foot of my bed.  He would do this
always exactly in this way; he never was content to stay in the
chamber if we compelled him to go upstairs and through the door.  He
had the obstinacy of General Grant.  But this is by the way.  In the
morning, he performed his toilet and went down to breakfast with the
rest of the family.  Now, when the mistress was absent from home, and
at no other time, Calvin would come in the morning, when the bell
rang, to the head of the bed, put up his feet and look into my face,
follow me about when I rose, "assist" at the dressing, and in many
purring ways show his fondness, as if he had plainly said, "I know
that she has gone away, but I am here."  Such was Calvin in rare

He had his limitations.  Whatever passion he had for nature, he had
no conception of art.  There was sent to him once a fine and very
expressive cat's head in bronze, by Fremiet.  I placed it on the
floor.  He regarded it intently, approached it cautiously and
crouchingly, touched it with his nose, perceived the fraud, turned
away abruptly, and never would notice it afterward.  On the whole,
his life was not only a successful one, but a happy one.  He never
had but one fear, so far as I know: he had a mortal and a reasonable
terror of plumbers.  He would never stay in the house when they were
here.  No coaxing could quiet him.  Of course he did n't share our
fear about their charges, but he must have had some dreadful
experience with them in that portion of his life which is unknown to
us.  A plumber was to him the devil, and I have no doubt that, in his
scheme, plumbers were foreordained to do him mischief.

In speaking of his worth, it has never occurred to me to estimate
Calvin by the worldly standard.  I know that it is customary now,
when any one dies, to ask how much he was worth, and that no obituary
in the newspapers is considered complete without such an estimate.
The plumbers in our house were one day overheard to say that, "They
say that she says that he says that he wouldn't take a hundred
dollars for him." It is unnecessary to say that I never made such a
remark, and that, so far as Calvin was concerned, there was no
purchase in money.

As I look back upon it, Calvin's life seems to me a fortunate one,
for it was natural and unforced.  He ate when he was hungry, slept
when he was sleepy, and enjoyed existence to the very tips of his
toes and the end of his expressive and slow-moving tail.  He
delighted to roam about the garden, and stroll among the trees, and
to lie on the green grass and luxuriate in all the sweet influences
of summer.  You could never accuse him of idleness, and yet he knew
the secret of repose.  The poet who wrote so prettily of him that his
little life was rounded with a sleep, understated his felicity; it
was rounded with a good many.  His conscience never seemed to
interfere with his slumbers.  In fact, he had good habits and a
contented mind.  I can see him now walk in at the study door, sit
down by my chair, bring his tail artistically about his feet, and
look up at me with unspeakable happiness in his handsome face.  I
often thought that he felt the dumb limitation which denied him the
power of language.  But since he was denied speech, he scorned the
inarticulate mouthings of the lower animals.  The vulgar mewing and
yowling of the cat species was beneath him; he sometimes uttered a
sort of articulate and well-bred ejaculation, when he wished to call
attention to something that he considered remarkable, or to some want
of his, but he never went whining about.  He would sit for hours at a
closed window, when he desired to enter, without a murmur, and when
it was opened, he never admitted that he had been impatient by
"bolting" in.  Though speech he had not, and the unpleasant kind of
utterance given to his race he would not use, he had a mighty power
of purr to express his measureless content with congenial society.
There was in him a musical organ with stops of varied power and
expression, upon which I have no doubt he could have performed
Scarlatti's celebrated cat's-fugue.

Whether Calvin died of old age, or was carried off by one of the
diseases incident to youth, it is impossible to say; for his
departure was as quiet as his advent was mysterious.  I only know
that he appeared to us in this world in his perfect stature and
beauty, and that after a time, like Lohengrin, he withdrew.  In his
illness there was nothing more to be regretted than in all his
blameless life.  I suppose there never was an illness that had more
of dignity, and sweetness and resignation in it.  It came on
gradually, in a kind of listlessness and want of appetite.  An
alarming symptom was his preference for the warmth of a
furnace-register to the lively sparkle of the open woodfire.
Whatever pain he suffered, he bore it in silence, and seemed only
anxious not to obtrude his malady.  We tempted him with the
delicacies of the season, but it soon became impossible for him to
eat, and for two weeks he ate or drank scarcely anything.  Sometimes
he made an effort to take something, but it was evident that he made
the effort to please us.  The neighbors--and I am convinced that the
advice of neighbors is never good for anything--suggested catnip.  He
would n't even smell it.  We had the attendance of an amateur
practitioner of medicine, whose real office was the cure of souls,
but nothing touched his case.  He took what was offered, but it was
with the air of one to whom the time for pellets was passed.  He sat
or lay day after day almost motionless, never once making a display
of those vulgar convulsions or contortions of pain which are so
disagreeable to society.  His favorite place was on the brightest
spot of a Smyrna rug by the conservatory, where the sunlight fell and
he could hear the fountain play.  If we went to him and exhibited our
interest in his condition, he always purred in recognition of our
sympathy.  And when I spoke his name, he looked up with an expression
that said, "I understand it, old fellow, but it's no use."  He was to
all who came to visit him a model of calmness and patience in

I was absent from home at the last, but heard by daily postal-card of
his failing condition; and never again saw him alive.  One sunny
morning, he rose from his rug, went into the conservatory (he was
very thin then), walked around it deliberately, looking at all the
plants he knew, and then went to the bay-window in the dining-room,
and stood a long time looking out upon the little field, now brown
and sere, and toward the garden, where perhaps the happiest hours of
his life had been spent.  It was a last look.  He turned and walked
away, laid himself down upon the bright spot in the rug, and quietly

It is not too much to say that a little shock went through the
neighborhood when it was known that Calvin was dead, so marked was
his individuality; and his friends, one after another, came in to see
him.  There was no sentimental nonsense about his obsequies; it was
felt that any parade would have been distasteful to him.  John, who
acted as undertaker, prepared a candle-box for him and I believe
assumed a professional decorum; but there may have been the usual
levity underneath, for I heard that he remarked in the kitchen that
it was the "driest wake he ever attended."  Everybody, however, felt
a fondness for Calvin, and regarded him with a certain respect.
Between him and Bertha there existed a great friendship, and she
apprehended his nature; she used to say that sometimes she was afraid
of him, he looked at her so intelligently; she was never certain that
he was what he appeared to be.

When I returned, they had laid Calvin on a table in an upper chamber
by an open window.  It was February.  He reposed in a candle-box,
lined about the edge with evergreen, and at his head stood a little
wine-glass with flowers.  He lay with his head tucked down in his
arms,--a favorite position of his before the fire,--as if asleep in
the comfort of his soft and exquisite fur.  It was the involuntary
exclamation of those who saw him, "How natural he looks!  "As for
myself, I said nothing.  John buried him under the twin hawthorn-
trees,--one white and the other pink,--in a spot where Calvin was
fond of lying and listening to the hum of summer insects and the
twitter of birds.

Perhaps I have failed to make appear the individuality of character
that was so evident to those who knew him.  At any rate, I have set
down nothing concerning him, but the literal truth.  He was always a
mystery.  I did not know whence he came; I do not know whither he has
gone.  I would not weave one spray of falsehood in the wreath I lay
upon his grave.




The fire on the hearth has almost gone out in New England; the hearth
has gone out; the family has lost its center; age ceases to be
respected; sex is only distinguished by a difference between
millinery bills and tailors' bills; there is no more toast-and-cider;
the young are not allowed to eat mince-pies at ten o'clock at night;
half a cheese is no longer set to toast before the fire; you scarcely
ever see in front of the coals a row of roasting apples, which a
bright little girl, with many a dive and start, shielding her sunny
face from the fire with one hand, turns from time to time; scarce are
the gray-haired sires who strop their razors on the family Bible, and
doze in the chimney-corner.  A good many things have gone out with
the fire on the hearth.

I do not mean to say that public and private morality have vanished
with the hearth.  A good degree of purity and considerable happiness
are possible with grates and blowers; it is a day of trial, when we
are all passing through a fiery furnace, and very likely we shall be
purified as we are dried up and wasted away.  Of course the family is
gone, as an institution, though there still are attempts to bring up
a family round a "register." But you might just as well try to bring
it up by hand, as without the rallying-point of a hearthstone.  Are
there any homesteads nowadays?  Do people hesitate to change houses
any more than they do to change their clothes?  People hire houses as
they would a masquerade costume, liking, sometimes, to appear for a
year in a little fictitious stone-front splendor above their means.
Thus it happens that so many people live in houses that do not fit
them.  I should almost as soon think of wearing another person's
clothes as his house; unless I could let it out and take it in until
it fitted, and somehow expressed my own character and taste.  But we
have fallen into the days of conformity.  It is no wonder that people
constantly go into their neighbors' houses by mistake, just as, in
spite of the Maine law, they wear away each other's hats from an
evening party.  It has almost come to this, that you might as well be
anybody else as yourself.

Am I mistaken in supposing that this is owing to the discontinuance
of big chimneys, with wide fireplaces in them?  How can a person be
attached to a house that has no center of attraction, no soul in it,
in the visible form of a glowing fire, and a warm chimney, like the
heart in the body?  When you think of the old homestead, if you ever
do, your thoughts go straight to the wide chimney and its burning
logs.  No wonder that you are ready to move from one fireplaceless
house into another.  But you have something just as good, you say.
Yes, I have heard of it.  This age, which imitates everything, even
to the virtues of our ancestors, has invented a fireplace, with
artificial, iron, or composition logs in it, hacked and painted, in
which gas is burned, so that it has the appearance of a wood-fire.
This seems to me blasphemy.  Do you think a cat would lie down before
it?  Can you poke it?  If you can't poke it, it is a fraud.  To poke
a wood-fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything else in the
world.  The crowning human virtue in a man is to let his wife poke
the fire.  I do not know how any virtue whatever is possible over an
imitation gas-log.  What a sense of insincerity the family must have,
if they indulge in the hypocrisy of gathering about it.  With this
center of untruthfulness, what must the life in the family be?
Perhaps the father will be living at the rate of ten thousand a year
on a salary of four thousand; perhaps the mother, more beautiful and
younger than her beautified daughters, will rouge; perhaps the young
ladies will make wax-work.  A cynic might suggest as the motto of
modern life this simple legend,--"just as good as the real." But I am
not a cynic, and I hope for the rekindling of wood-fires, and a
return of the beautiful home light from them.  If a wood-fire is a
luxury, it is cheaper than many in which we indulge without thought,
and cheaper than the visits of a doctor, made necessary by the want
of ventilation of the house.  Not that I have anything against
doctors; I only wish, after they have been to see us in a way that
seems so friendly, they had nothing against us.

My fireplace, which is deep, and nearly three feet wide, has a broad
hearthstone in front of it, where the live coals tumble down, and a
pair of gigantic brass andirons.  The brasses are burnished, and
shine cheerfully in the firelight, and on either side stand tall
shovel and tongs, like sentries, mounted in brass.  The tongs, like
the two-handed sword of Bruce, cannot be wielded by puny people.  We
burn in it hickory wood, cut long.  We like the smell of this
aromatic forest timber, and its clear flame.  The birch is also a
sweet wood for the hearth, with a sort of spiritual flame and an even
temper,--no snappishness.  Some prefer the elm, which holds fire so
well; and I have a neighbor who uses nothing but apple-tree wood,--a
solid, family sort of wood, fragrant also, and full of delightful
suggestions.  But few people can afford to burn up their fruit trees.
I should as soon think of lighting the fire with sweet-oil that comes
in those graceful wicker-bound flasks from Naples, or with manuscript
sermons, which, however, do not burn well, be they never so dry, not
half so well as printed editorials.

Few people know how to make a wood-fire, but everybody thinks he or
she does.  You want, first, a large backlog, which does not rest on
the andirons.  This will keep your fire forward, radiate heat all
day, and late in the evening fall into a ruin of glowing coals, like
the last days of a good man, whose life is the richest and most
beneficent at the close, when the flames of passion and the sap of
youth are burned out, and there only remain the solid, bright
elements of character.  Then you want a forestick on the andirons;
and upon these build the fire of lighter stuff.  In this way you have
at once a cheerful blaze, and the fire gradually eats into the solid
mass, sinking down with increasing fervor; coals drop below, and
delicate tongues of flame sport along the beautiful grain of the
forestick.  There are people who kindle a fire underneath.  But these
are conceited people, who are wedded to their own way.  I suppose an
accomplished incendiary always starts a fire in the attic, if he can.
I am not an incendiary, but I hate bigotry.  I don't call those
incendiaries very good Christians who, when they set fire to the
martyrs, touched off the fagots at the bottom, so as to make them go
slow.  Besides, knowledge works down easier than it does up.
Education must proceed from the more enlightened down to the more
ignorant strata.  If you want better common schools, raise the
standard of the colleges, and so on.  Build your fire on top.  Let
your light shine.  I have seen people build a fire under a balky
horse; but he wouldn't go, he'd be a horse-martyr first.  A fire
kindled under one never did him any good.  Of course you can make a
fire on the hearth by kindling it underneath, but that does not make
it right.  I want my hearthfire to be an emblem of the best things.


It must be confessed that a wood-fire needs as much tending as a pair
of twins.  To say nothing of fiery projectiles sent into the room,
even by the best wood, from the explosion of gases confined in its
cells, the brands are continually dropping down, and coals are being
scattered over the hearth.  However much a careful housewife, who
thinks more of neatness than enjoyment, may dislike this, it is one
of the chief delights of a wood-fire.  I would as soon have an
Englishman without side-whiskers as a fire without a big backlog; and
I would rather have no fire than one that required no tending,--one
of dead wood that could not sing again the imprisoned songs of the
forest, or give out in brilliant scintillations the sunshine it
absorbed in its growth.  Flame is an ethereal sprite, and the spice
of danger in it gives zest to the care of the hearth-fire.  Nothing
is so beautiful as springing, changing flame,--it was the last freak
of the Gothic architecture men to represent the fronts of elaborate
edifices of stone as on fire, by the kindling flamboyant devices.  A
fireplace is, besides, a private laboratory, where one can witness
the most brilliant chemical experiments, minor conflagrations only
wanting the grandeur of cities on fire.  It is a vulgar notion that a
fire is only for heat.  A chief value of it is, however, to look at.
It is a picture, framed between the jambs.  You have nothing on your
walls, by the best masters (the poor masters are not, however,
represented), that is really so fascinating, so spiritual.  Speaking
like an upholsterer, it furnishes the room.  And it is never twice
the same.  In this respect it is like the landscape-view through a
window, always seen in a new light, color, or condition.  The
fireplace is a window into the most charming world I ever had a
glimpse of.

Yet direct heat is an agreeable sensation.  I am not scientific
enough to despise it, and have no taste for a winter residence on
Mount Washington, where the thermometer cannot be kept comfortable
even by boiling.  They say that they say in Boston that there is a
satisfaction in being well dressed which religion cannot give.  There
is certainly a satisfaction in the direct radiance of a hickory fire
which is not to be found in the fieriest blasts of a furnace.  The
hot air of a furnace is a sirocco; the heat of a wood-fire is only
intense sunshine, like that bottled in Lacrimae Christi.  Besides
this, the eye is delighted, the sense of smell is regaled by the
fragrant decomposition, and the ear is pleased with the hissing,
crackling, and singing,--a liberation of so many out-door noises.
Some people like the sound of bubbling in a boiling pot, or the
fizzing of a frying-spider.  But there is nothing gross in the
animated crackling of sticks of wood blazing on the earth, not even
if chestnuts are roasting in the ashes.  All the senses are
ministered to, and the imagination is left as free as the leaping
tongues of flame.

The attention which a wood-fire demands is one of its best
recommendations.  We value little that which costs us no trouble to
maintain.  If we had to keep the sun kindled up and going by private
corporate action, or act of Congress, and to be taxed for the support
of customs officers of solar heat, we should prize it more than we
do.  Not that I should like to look upon the sun as a job, and have
the proper regulation of its temperature get into politics, where we
already have so much combustible stuff; but we take it quite too much
as a matter of course, and, having it free, do not reckon it among
the reasons for gratitude.  Many people shut it out of their houses
as if it were an enemy, watch its descent upon the carpet as if it
were only a thief of color, and plant trees to shut it away from the
mouldering house.  All the animals know better than this, as well as
the more simple races of men; the old women of the southern Italian
coasts sit all day in the sun and ply the distaff, as grateful as the
sociable hens on the south side of a New England barn; the slow
tortoise likes to take the sun upon his sloping back, soaking in
color that shall make him immortal when the imperishable part of him
is cut up into shell ornaments.  The capacity of a cat to absorb
sunshine is only equaled by that of an Arab or an Ethiopian.  They
are not afraid of injuring their complexions.

White must be the color of civilization; it has so many natural
disadvantages.  But this is politics.  I was about to say that,
however it may be with sunshine, one is always grateful for his
wood-fire, because he does not maintain it without some cost.

Yet I cannot but confess to a difference between sunlight and the
light of a wood-fire.  The sunshine is entirely untamed.  Where it
rages most freely it tends to evoke the brilliancy rather than the
harmonious satisfactions of nature.  The monstrous growths and the
flaming colors of the tropics contrast with our more subdued
loveliness of foliage and bloom.  The birds of the middle region
dazzle with their contrasts of plumage, and their voices are for
screaming rather than singing.  I presume the new experiments in
sound would project a macaw's voice in very tangled and inharmonious
lines of light.  I suspect that the fiercest sunlight puts people, as
well as animals and vegetables, on extremes in all ways.  A wood-fire
on the hearth is a kindler of the domestic virtues.  It brings in
cheerfulness, and a family center, and, besides, it is artistic.
I should like to know if an artist could ever represent on canvas a
happy family gathered round a hole in the floor called a register.
Given a fireplace, and a tolerable artist could almost create a
pleasant family round it.  But what could he conjure out of a
register?  If there was any virtue among our ancestors,--and they
labored under a great many disadvantages, and had few of the aids
which we have to excellence of life,--I am convinced they drew it
mostly from the fireside.  If it was difficult to read the eleven
commandments by the light of a pine-knot, it was not difficult to get
the sweet spirit of them from the countenance of the serene mother
knitting in the chimney-corner.


When the fire is made, you want to sit in front of it and grow genial
in its effulgence.  I have never been upon a throne,--except in
moments of a traveler's curiosity, about as long as a South American
dictator remains on one,--but I have no idea that it compares, for
pleasantness, with a seat before a wood-fire.  A whole leisure day
before you, a good novel in hand, and the backlog only just beginning
to kindle, with uncounted hours of comfort in it, has life anything
more delicious?  For "novel" you can substitute "Calvin's
Institutes," if you wish to be virtuous as well as happy.  Even
Calvin would melt before a wood-fire.  A great snowstorm, visible on
three sides of your wide-windowed room, loading the evergreens, blown
in fine powder from the great chestnut-tops, piled up in ever
accumulating masses, covering the paths, the shrubbery, the hedges,
drifting and clinging in fantastic deposits, deepening your sense of
security, and taking away the sin of idleness by making it a
necessity, this is an excellent ground to your day by the fire.

To deliberately sit down in the morning to read a novel, to enjoy
yourself, is this not, in New England (I am told they don't read much
in other parts of the country), the sin of sins?  Have you any right
to read, especially novels, until you have exhausted the best part of
the day in some employment that is called practical?  Have you any
right to enjoy yourself at all until the fag-end of the day, when you
are tired and incapable of enjoying yourself?  I am aware that this
is the practice, if not the theory, of our society,--to postpone the
delights of social intercourse until after dark, and rather late at
night, when body and mind are both weary with the exertions of
business, and when we can give to what is the most delightful and
profitable thing in life, social and intellectual society, only the
weariness of dull brains and over-tired muscles.  No wonder we take
our amusements sadly, and that so many people find dinners heavy and
parties stupid.  Our economy leaves no place for amusements; we
merely add them to the burden of a life already full.  The world is
still a little off the track as to what is really useful.

I confess that the morning is a very good time to read a novel, or
anything else which is good and requires a fresh mind; and I take it
that nothing is worth reading that does not require an alert mind.
I suppose it is necessary that business should be transacted; though
the amount of business that does not contribute to anybody's comfort
or improvement suggests the query whether it is not overdone.  I know
that unremitting attention to business is the price of success, but
I don't know what success is.  There is a man, whom we all know, who
built a house that cost a quarter of a million of dollars, and
furnished it for another like sum, who does not know anything more
about architecture, or painting, or books, or history, than he cares
for the rights of those who have not so much money as he has.  I
heard him once, in a foreign gallery, say to his wife, as they stood
in front of a famous picture by Rubens: "That is the Rape of the
Sardines!"  What a cheerful world it would be if everybody was as
successful as that man!  While I am reading my book by the fire, and
taking an active part in important transactions that may be a good
deal better than real, let me be thankful that a great many men are
profitably employed in offices and bureaus and country stores in
keeping up the gossip and endless exchange of opinions among mankind,
so much of which is made to appear to the women at home as
"business." I find that there is a sort of busy idleness among men in
this world that is not held in disrepute.  When the time comes that I
have to prove my right to vote, with women, I trust that it will be
remembered in my favor that I made this admission.  If it is true, as
a witty conservative once said to me, that we never shall have peace
in this country until we elect a colored woman president, I desire to
be rectus in curia early.


The fireplace, as we said, is a window through which we look out upon
other scenes.  We like to read of the small, bare room, with
cobwebbed ceiling and narrow window, in which the poor child of
genius sits with his magical pen, the master of a realm of beauty and
enchantment.  I think the open fire does not kindle the imagination
so much as it awakens the memory; one sees the past in its crumbling
embers and ashy grayness, rather than the future.  People become
reminiscent and even sentimental in front of it.  They used to become
something else in those good old days when it was thought best to
heat the poker red hot before plunging it into the mugs of flip.
This heating of the poker has been disapproved of late years, but I
do not know on what grounds; if one is to drink bitters and gins and
the like, such as I understand as good people as clergymen and women
take in private, and by advice, I do not know why one should not make
them palatable and heat them with his own poker.  Cold whiskey out of
a bottle, taken as a prescription six times a day on the sly, is n't
my idea of virtue any more than the social ancestral glass, sizzling
wickedly with the hot iron.  Names are so confusing in this world;
but things are apt to remain pretty much the same, whatever we call

Perhaps as you look into the fireplace it widens and grows deep and
cavernous.  The back and the jambs are built up of great stones, not
always smoothly laid, with jutting ledges upon which ashes are apt to
lie.  The hearthstone is an enormous block of trap rock, with a
surface not perfectly even, but a capital place to crack butternuts
on.  Over the fire swings an iron crane, with a row of pot-hooks of
all lengths hanging from it.  It swings out when the housewife wants
to hang on the tea-kettle, and it is strong enough to support a row
of pots, or a mammoth caldron kettle on occasion.  What a jolly sight
is this fireplace when the pots and kettles in a row are all boiling
and bubbling over the flame, and a roasting spit is turning in front!
It makes a person as hungry as one of Scott's novels.  But the
brilliant sight is in the frosty morning, about daylight, when the
fire is made.  The coals are raked open, the split sticks are piled
up in openwork criss-crossing, as high as the crane; and when the
flame catches hold and roars up through the interstices, it is like
an out-of-door bonfire.  Wood enough is consumed in that morning
sacrifice to cook the food of a Parisian family for a year.  How it
roars up the wide chimney, sending into the air the signal smoke and
sparks which announce to the farming neighbors another day cheerfully
begun!  The sleepiest boy in the world would get up in his red
flannel nightgown to see such a fire lighted, even if he dropped to
sleep again in his chair before the ruddy blaze.  Then it is that the
house, which has shrunk and creaked all night in the pinching cold of
winter, begins to glow again and come to life.  The thick frost melts
little by little on the small window-panes, and it is seen that the
gray dawn is breaking over the leagues of pallid snow.  It is time to
blow out the candle, which has lost all its cheerfulness in the light
of day.  The morning romance is over; the family is astir; and member
after member appears with the morning yawn, to stand before the
crackling, fierce conflagration.  The daily round begins.  The most
hateful employment ever invented for mortal man presents itself: the
"chores" are to be done.  The boy who expects every morning to open
into a new world finds that to-day is like yesterday, but he believes
to-morrow will be different.  And yet enough for him, for the day, is
the wading in the snowdrifts, or the sliding on the diamond-sparkling
crust.  Happy, too, is he, when the storm rages, and the snow is
piled high against the windows, if he can sit in the warm chimney-
corner and read about Burgoyne, and General Fraser, and Miss McCrea,
midwinter marches through the wilderness, surprises of wigwams, and
the stirring ballad, say, of the Battle of the Kegs:--

"Come, gallants, attend and list a friend
Thrill forth harmonious ditty;
While I shall tell what late befell
At Philadelphia city."

I should like to know what heroism a boy in an old New England
farmhouse--rough-nursed by nature, and fed on the traditions of the
old wars did not aspire to.  "John," says the mother, "You'll burn
your head to a crisp in that heat."  But John does not hear; he is
storming the Plains of Abraham just now.  "Johnny, dear, bring in a
stick of wood."  How can Johnny bring in wood when he is in that
defile with Braddock, and the Indians are popping at him from behind
every tree?  There is something about a boy that I like, after all.

The fire rests upon the broad hearth; the hearth rests upon a great
substruction of stone, and the substruction rests upon the cellar.
What supports the cellar I never knew, but the cellar supports the
family.  The cellar is the foundation of domestic comfort.  Into its
dark, cavernous recesses the child's imagination fearfully goes.
Bogies guard the bins of choicest apples.  I know not what comical
sprites sit astride the cider-barrels ranged along the walls.  The
feeble flicker of the tallow-candle does not at all dispel, but
creates, illusions, and magnifies all the rich possibilities of this
underground treasure-house.  When the cellar-door is opened, and the
boy begins to descend into the thick darkness, it is always with a
heart-beat as of one started upon some adventure.  Who can forget the
smell that comes through the opened door;--a mingling of fresh earth,
fruit exhaling delicious aroma, kitchen vegetables, the mouldy odor
of barrels, a sort of ancestral air,--as if a door had been opened
into an old romance.  Do you like it?  Not much.  But then I would
not exchange the remembrance of it for a good many odors and perfumes
that I do like.

It is time to punch the backlog and put on a new forestick.



The log was white birch.  The beautiful satin bark at once kindled
into a soft, pure, but brilliant flame, something like that of
naphtha.  There is no other wood flame so rich, and it leaps up in a
joyous, spiritual way, as if glad to burn for the sake of burning.
Burning like a clear oil, it has none of the heaviness and fatness of
the pine and the balsam.  Woodsmen are at a loss to account for its
intense and yet chaste flame, since the bark has no oily appearance.
The heat from it is fierce, and the light dazzling.  It flares up
eagerly like young love, and then dies away; the wood does not keep
up the promise of the bark.  The woodsmen, it is proper to say, have
not considered it in its relation to young love.  In the remote
settlements the pine-knot is still the torch of courtship; it endures
to sit up by.  The birch-bark has alliances with the world of
sentiment and of letters.  The most poetical reputation of the North
American Indian floats in a canoe made of it; his picture-writing was
inscribed on it.  It is the paper that nature furnishes for lovers in
the wilderness, who are enabled to convey a delicate sentiment by its
use, which is expressed neither in their ideas nor chirography.  It
is inadequate for legal parchment, but does very well for deeds of
love, which are not meant usually to give a perfect title.  With
care, it may be split into sheets as thin as the Chinese paper.  It
is so beautiful to handle that it is a pity civilization cannot make
more use of it.  But fancy articles manufactured from it are very
much like all ornamental work made of nature's perishable seeds,
leaves, cones, and dry twigs,--exquisite while the pretty fingers are
fashioning it, but soon growing shabby and cheap to the eye.  And yet
there is a pathos in "dried things," whether they are displayed as
ornaments in some secluded home, or hidden religiously in bureau
drawers where profane eyes cannot see how white ties are growing
yellow and ink is fading from treasured letters, amid a faint and
discouraging perfume of ancient rose-leaves.

The birch log holds out very well while it is green, but has not
substance enough for a backlog when dry.  Seasoning green timber or
men is always an experiment.  A man may do very well in a simple, let
us say, country or backwoods line of life, who would come to nothing
in a more complicated civilization.  City life is a severe trial.
One man is struck with a dry-rot; another develops season-cracks;
another shrinks and swells with every change of circumstance.
Prosperity is said to be more trying than adversity, a theory which
most people are willing to accept without trial; but few men stand
the drying out of the natural sap of their greenness in the
artificial heat of city life.  This, be it noticed, is nothing
against the drying and seasoning process; character must be put into
the crucible some time, and why not in this world?  A man who cannot
stand seasoning will not have a high market value in any part of the
universe.  It is creditable to the race, that so many men and women
bravely jump into the furnace of prosperity and expose themselves to
the drying influences of city life.

The first fire that is lighted on the hearth in the autumn seems to
bring out the cold weather.  Deceived by the placid appearance of the
dying year, the softness of the sky, and the warm color of the
foliage, we have been shivering about for days without exactly
comprehending what was the matter.  The open fire at once sets up a
standard of comparison.  We find that the advance guards of winter
are besieging the house.  The cold rushes in at every crack of door
and window, apparently signaled by the flame to invade the house and
fill it with chilly drafts and sarcasms on what we call the temperate
zone.  It needs a roaring fire to beat back the enemy; a feeble one
is only an invitation to the most insulting demonstrations.  Our
pious New England ancestors were philosophers in their way.  It was
not simply owing to grace that they sat for hours in their barnlike
meeting-houses during the winter Sundays, the thermometer many
degrees below freezing, with no fire, except the zeal in their own
hearts,--a congregation of red noses and bright eyes.  It was no
wonder that the minister in the pulpit warmed up to his subject,
cried aloud, used hot words, spoke a good deal of the hot place and
the Person whose presence was a burning shame, hammered the desk as
if he expected to drive his text through a two-inch plank, and heated
himself by all allowable ecclesiastical gymnastics.  A few of their
followers in our day seem to forget that our modern churches are
heated by furnaces and supplied with gas.  In the old days it would
have been thought unphilosophic as well as effeminate to warm the
meeting-houses artificially.  In one house I knew, at least, when it
was proposed to introduce a stove to take a little of the chill from
the Sunday services, the deacons protested against the innovation.
They said that the stove might benefit those who sat close to it, but
it would drive all the cold air to the other parts of the church, and
freeze the people to death; it was cold enough now around the edges.
Blessed days of ignorance and upright living!  Sturdy men who served
God by resolutely sitting out the icy hours of service, amid the
rattling of windows and the carousal of winter in the high, windswept
galleries!  Patient women, waiting in the chilly house for
consumption to pick out his victims, and replace the color of youth
and the flush of devotion with the hectic of disease!  At least, you
did not doze and droop in our over-heated edifices, and die of
vitiated air and disregard of the simplest conditions of organized
life.  It is fortunate that each generation does not comprehend its
own ignorance.  We are thus enabled to call our ancestors barbarous.
It is something also that each age has its choice of the death it
will die.  Our generation is most ingenious.  From our public
assembly-rooms and houses we have almost succeeded in excluding pure
air.  It took the race ages to build dwellings that would keep out
rain; it has taken longer to build houses air-tight, but we are on
the eve of success.  We are only foiled by the ill-fitting, insincere
work of the builders, who build for a day, and charge for all time.


When the fire on the hearth has blazed up and then settled into
steady radiance, talk begins.  There is no place like the chimney-
corner for confidences; for picking up the clews of an old
friendship; for taking note where one's self has drifted, by
comparing ideas and prejudices with the intimate friend of years ago,
whose course in life has lain apart from yours.  No stranger puzzles
you so much as the once close friend, with whose thinking and
associates you have for years been unfamiliar.  Life has come to mean
this and that to you; you have fallen into certain habits of thought;
for you the world has progressed in this or that direction; of
certain results you feel very sure; you have fallen into harmony with
your surroundings; you meet day after day people interested in the
things that interest you; you are not in the least opinionated, it is
simply your good fortune to look upon the affairs of the world from
the right point of view.  When you last saw your friend,--less than a
year after you left college,--he was the most sensible and agreeable
of men; he had no heterodox notions; he agreed with you; you could
even tell what sort of a wife he would select, and if you could do
that, you held the key to his life.

Well, Herbert came to visit me the other day from the antipodes.  And
here he sits by the fireplace.  I cannot think of any one I would
rather see there, except perhaps Thackery; or, for entertainment,
Boswell; or old, Pepys; or one of the people who was left out of the
Ark.  They were talking one foggy London night at Hazlitt's about
whom they would most like to have seen, when Charles Lamb startled
the company by declaring that he would rather have seen Judas
Iscariot than any other person who had lived on the earth.  For
myself, I would rather have seen Lamb himself once, than to have
lived with Judas.  Herbert, to my great delight, has not changed; I
should know him anywhere,--the same serious, contemplative face, with
lurking humor at the corners of the mouth,--the same cheery laugh and
clear, distinct enunciation as of old.  There is nothing so winning
as a good voice.  To see Herbert again, unchanged in all outward
essentials, is not only gratifying, but valuable as a testimony to
nature's success in holding on to a personal identity, through the
entire change of matter that has been constantly taking place for so
many years.  I know very well there is here no part of the Herbert
whose hand I had shaken at the Commencement parting; but it is an
astonishing reproduction of him,--a material likeness; and now for
the spiritual.

Such a wide chance for divergence in the spiritual.  It has been such
a busy world for twenty years.  So many things have been torn up by
the roots again that were settled when we left college.  There were
to be no more wars; democracy was democracy, and progress, the
differentiation of the individual, was a mere question of clothes; if
you want to be different, go to your tailor; nobody had demonstrated
that there is a man-soul and a woman-soul, and that each is in
reality only a half-soul,--putting the race, so to speak, upon the
half-shell.  The social oyster being opened, there appears to be two
shells and only one oyster; who shall have it?  So many new canons of
taste, of criticism, of morality have been set up; there has been
such a resurrection of historical reputations for new judgment, and
there have been so many discoveries, geographical, archaeological,
geological, biological, that the earth is not at all what it was
supposed to be; and our philosophers are much more anxious to
ascertain where we came from than whither we are going.  In this
whirl and turmoil of new ideas, nature, which has only the single end
of maintaining the physical identity in the body, works on
undisturbed, replacing particle for particle, and preserving the
likeness more skillfully than a mosaic artist in the Vatican; she has
not even her materials sorted and labeled, as the Roman artist has
his thousands of bits of color; and man is all the while doing his
best to confuse the process, by changing his climate, his diet, all
his surroundings, without the least care to remain himself.  But the

It is more difficult to get acquainted with Herbert than with an
entire stranger, for I have my prepossessions about him, and do not
find him in so many places where I expect to find him.  He is full of
criticism of the authors I admire; he thinks stupid or improper the
books I most read; he is skeptical about the "movements" I am
interested in; he has formed very different opinions from mine
concerning a hundred men and women of the present day; we used to eat
from one dish; we could n't now find anything in common in a dozen;
his prejudices (as we call our opinions) are most extraordinary, and
not half so reasonable as my prejudices; there are a great many
persons and things that I am accustomed to denounce, uncontradicted
by anybody, which he defends; his public opinion is not at all my
public opinion.  I am sorry for him.  He appears to have fallen into
influences and among a set of people foreign to me.  I find that his
church has a different steeple on it from my church (which, to say
the truth, hasn't any).  It is a pity that such a dear friend and a
man of so much promise should have drifted off into such general
contrariness.  I see Herbert sitting here by the fire, with the old
look in his face coming out more and more, but I do not recognize any
features of his mind,--except perhaps his contrariness; yes, he was
always a little contrary, I think.  And finally he surprises me with,
"Well, my friend, you seem to have drifted away from your old notions
and opinions.  We used to agree when we were together, but I
sometimes wondered where you would land; for, pardon me, you showed
signs of looking at things a little contrary."

I am silent for a good while.  I am trying to think who I am.  There
was a person whom I thought I knew, very fond of Herbert, and
agreeing with him in most things.  Where has he gone?  and, if he is
here, where is the Herbert that I knew?

If his intellectual and moral sympathies have all changed, I wonder
if his physical tastes remain, like his appearance, the same.  There
has come over this country within the last generation, as everybody
knows, a great wave of condemnation of pie.  It has taken the
character of a "movement!" though we have had no conventions about
it, nor is any one, of any of the several sexes among us, running for
president against it.  It is safe almost anywhere to denounce pie,
yet nearly everybody eats it on occasion.  A great many people think
it savors of a life abroad to speak with horror of pie, although they
were very likely the foremost of the Americans in Paris who used to
speak with more enthusiasm of the American pie at Madame Busque's
than of the Venus of Milo.  To talk against pie and still eat it is
snobbish, of course; but snobbery, being an aspiring failing, is
sometimes the prophecy of better things.  To affect dislike of pie is
something.  We have no statistics on the subject, and cannot tell
whether it is gaining or losing in the country at large.  Its
disappearance in select circles is no test.  The amount of writing
against it is no more test of its desuetude, than the number of
religious tracts distributed in a given district is a criterion of
its piety.  We are apt to assume that certain regions are
substantially free of it.  Herbert and I, traveling north one summer,
fancied that we could draw in New England a sort of diet line, like
the sweeping curves on the isothermal charts, which should show at
least the leading pie sections.  Journeying towards the White
Mountains, we concluded that a line passing through Bellows Falls,
and bending a little south on either side, would mark northward the
region of perpetual pie.  In this region pie is to be found at all
hours and seasons, and at every meal.  I am not sure, however, that
pie is not a matter of altitude rather than latitude, as I find that
all the hill and country towns of New England are full of those
excellent women, the very salt of the housekeeping earth, who would
feel ready to sink in mortification through their scoured kitchen
floors, if visitors should catch them without a pie in the house.
The absence of pie would be more noticed than a scarcity of Bible
even.  Without it the housekeepers are as distracted as the
boarding-house keeper, who declared that if it were not for canned
tomato, she should have nothing to fly to.  Well, in all this great
agitation I find Herbert unmoved, a conservative, even to the
under-crust.  I dare not ask him if he eats pie at breakfast.  There
are some tests that the dearest friendship may not apply.

"Will you smoke?" I ask.

"No, I have reformed."

"Yes, of course."

"The fact is, that when we consider the correlation of forces, the
apparent sympathy of spirit manifestations with electric conditions,
the almost revealed mysteries of what may be called the odic force,
and the relation of all these phenomena to the nervous system in man,
it is not safe to do anything to the nervous system that will--"

"Hang the nervous system!  Herbert, we can agree in one thing: old
memories, reveries, friendships, center about that:--is n't an open
wood-fire good?"

"Yes," says Herbert, combatively, "if you don't sit before it too


The best talk is that which escapes up the open chimney and cannot be
repeated.  The finest woods make the best fire and pass away with the
least residuum.  I hope the next generation will not accept the
reports of "interviews" as specimens of the conversations of these
years of grace.

But do we talk as well as our fathers and mothers did?  We hear
wonderful stories of the bright generation that sat about the wide
fireplaces of New England.  Good talk has so much short-hand that it
cannot be reported,--the inflection, the change of voice, the shrug,
cannot be caught on paper.  The best of it is when the subject
unexpectedly goes cross-lots, by a flash of short-cut, to a
conclusion so suddenly revealed that it has the effect of wit.  It
needs the highest culture and the finest breeding to prevent the
conversation from running into mere persiflage on the one hand--its
common fate--or monologue on the other.  Our conversation is largely
chaff.  I am not sure but the former generation preached a good deal,
but it had great practice in fireside talk, and must have talked
well.  There were narrators in those days who could charm a circle
all the evening long with stories.  When each day brought
comparatively little new to read, there was leisure for talk, and the
rare book and the in-frequent magazine were thoroughly discussed.
Families now are swamped by the printed matter that comes daily upon
the center-table.  There must be a division of labor, one reading
this, and another that, to make any impression on it.  The telegraph
brings the only common food, and works this daily miracle, that every
mind in Christendom is excited by one topic simultaneously with every
other mind; it enables a concurrent mental action, a burst of
sympathy, or a universal prayer to be made, which must be, if we have
any faith in the immaterial left, one of the chief forces in modern
life.  It is fit that an agent so subtle as electricity should be the
minister of it.

When there is so much to read, there is little time for conversation;
nor is there leisure for another pastime of the ancient firesides,
called reading aloud.  The listeners, who heard while they looked
into the wide chimney-place, saw there pass in stately procession the
events and the grand persons of history, were kindled with the
delights of travel, touched by the romance of true love, or made
restless by tales of adventure;--the hearth became a sort of magic
stone that could transport those who sat by it to the most distant
places and times, as soon as the book was opened and the reader
began, of a winter's night.  Perhaps the Puritan reader read through
his nose, and all the little Puritans made the most dreadful nasal
inquiries as the entertainment went on.  The prominent nose of the
intellectual New-Englander is evidence of the constant linguistic
exercise of the organ for generations.  It grew by talking through.
But I have no doubt that practice made good readers in those days.
Good reading aloud is almost a lost accomplishment now.  It is little
thought of in the schools.  It is disused at home.  It is rare to
find any one who can read, even from the newspaper, well.  Reading is
so universal, even with the uncultivated, that it is common to hear
people mispronounce words that you did not suppose they had ever
seen.  In reading to themselves they glide over these words, in
reading aloud they stumble over them.  Besides, our every-day books
and newspapers are so larded with French that the ordinary reader is
obliged marcher a pas de loup,--for instance.

The newspaper is probably responsible for making current many words
with which the general reader is familiar, but which he rises to in
the flow of conversation, and strikes at with a splash and an
unsuccessful attempt at appropriation; the word, which he perfectly
knows, hooks him in the gills, and he cannot master it.  The
newspaper is thus widening the language in use, and vastly increasing
the number of words which enter into common talk.  The Americans of
the lowest intellectual class probably use more words to express
their ideas than the similar class of any other people; but this
prodigality is partially balanced by the parsimony of words in some
higher regions, in which a few phrases of current slang are made to
do the whole duty of exchange of ideas; if that can be called
exchange of ideas when one intellect flashes forth to another the
remark, concerning some report, that "you know how it is yourself,"
and is met by the response of "that's what's the matter," and rejoins
with the perfectly conclusive "that's so."  It requires a high degree
of culture to use slang with elegance and effect; and we are yet very
far from the Greek attainment.


The fireplace wants to be all aglow, the wind rising, the night heavy
and black above, but light with sifting snow on the earth, a
background of inclemency for the illumined room with its pictured
walls, tables heaped with books, capacious easy-chairs and their
occupants,--it needs, I say, to glow and throw its rays far through
the crystal of the broad windows, in order that we may rightly
appreciate the relation of the wide-jambed chimney to domestic
architecture in our climate.  We fell to talking about it; and, as is
usual when the conversation is professedly on one subject, we
wandered all around it.  The young lady staying with us was roasting
chestnuts in the ashes, and the frequent explosions required
considerable attention.  The mistress, too, sat somewhat alert, ready
to rise at any instant and minister to the fancied want of this or
that guest, forgetting the reposeful truth that people about a
fireside will not have any wants if they are not suggested.  The
worst of them, if they desire anything, only want something hot, and
that later in the evening.  And it is an open question whether you
ought to associate with people who want that.

I was saying that nothing had been so slow in its progress in the
world as domestic architecture.  Temples, palaces, bridges,
aqueducts, cathedrals, towers of marvelous delicacy and strength,
grew to perfection while the common people lived in hovels, and the
richest lodged in the most gloomy and contracted quarters.  The
dwelling-house is a modern institution.  It is a curious fact that it
has only improved with the social elevation of women.  Men were never
more brilliant in arms and letters than in the age of Elizabeth, and
yet they had no homes.  They made themselves thick-walled castles,
with slits in the masonry for windows, for defense, and magnificent
banquet-halls for pleasure; the stone rooms into which they crawled
for the night were often little better than dog-kennels.  The
Pompeians had no comfortable night-quarters.  The most singular thing
to me, however, is that, especially interested as woman is in the
house, she has never done anything for architecture.  And yet woman
is reputed to be an ingenious creature.

HERBERT.  I doubt if woman has real ingenuity; she has great
adaptability.  I don't say that she will do the same thing twice
alike, like a Chinaman, but she is most cunning in suiting herself to

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Oh, if you speak of constructive, creative
ingenuity, perhaps not; but in the higher ranges of achievement--that
of accomplishing any purpose dear to her heart, for instance--her
ingenuity is simply incomprehensible to me.

HERBERT.  Yes, if you mean doing things by indirection.

THE MISTRESS.  When you men assume all the direction, what else is
left to us?

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Did you ever see a woman refurnish a house?

THE YOUNG LADY STAYING WITH US.  I never saw a man do it, unless he
was burned out of his rookery.

HERBERT.  There is no comfort in new things.

THE FIRE-TENDER (not noticing the interruption).  Having set her mind
on a total revolution of the house, she buys one new thing, not too
obtrusive, nor much out of harmony with the old.  The husband
scarcely notices it, least of all does he suspect the revolution,
which she already has accomplished.  Next, some article that does
look a little shabby beside the new piece of furniture is sent to the
garret, and its place is supplied by something that will match in
color and effect.  Even the man can see that it ought to match, and
so the process goes on, it may be for years, it may be forever, until
nothing of the old is left, and the house is transformed as it was
predetermined in the woman's mind.  I doubt if the man ever
understands how or when it was done; his wife certainly never says
anything about the refurnishing, but quietly goes on to new

THE MISTRESS.  And is n't it better to buy little by little, enjoying
every new object as you get it, and assimilating each article to your
household life, and making the home a harmonious expression of your
own taste, rather than to order things in sets, and turn your house,
for the time being, into a furniture ware-room?

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Oh, I only spoke of the ingenuity of it.

THE YOUNG LADY.  For my part, I never can get acquainted with more
than one piece of furniture at a time.

HERBERT.  I suppose women are our superiors in artistic taste, and I
fancy that I can tell whether a house is furnished by a woman or a
man; of course, I mean the few houses that appear to be the result of
individual taste and refinement,--most of them look as if they had
been furnished on contract by the upholsterer.

THE MISTRESS.  Woman's province in this world is putting things to

HERBERT.  With a vengeance, sometimes.  In the study, for example.
My chief objection to woman is that she has no respect for the
newspaper, or the printed page, as such.  She is Siva, the destroyer.
I have noticed that a great part of a married man's time at home is
spent in trying to find the things he has put on his study-table.

THE YOUNG LADY.  Herbert speaks with the bitterness of a bachelor
shut out of paradise.  It is my experience that if women did not
destroy the rubbish that men bring into the house, it would become
uninhabitable, and need to be burned down every five years.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  I confess women do a great deal for the appearance
of things.  When the mistress is absent, this room, although
everything is here as it was before, does not look at all like the
same place; it is stiff, and seems to lack a soul.  When she returns,
I can see that her eye, even while greeting me, takes in the
situation at a glance.  While she is talking of the journey, and
before she has removed her traveling-hat, she turns this chair and
moves that, sets one piece of furniture at a different angle,
rapidly, and apparently unconsciously, shifts a dozen little
knick-knacks and bits of color, and the room is transformed.  I
couldn't do it in a week.

THE MISTRESS.  That is the first time I ever knew a man admit he
couldn't do anything if he had time.

HERBERT.  Yet with all their peculiar instinct for making a home,
women make themselves very little felt in our domestic architecture.

THE MISTRESS.  Men build most of the houses in what might be called
the ready-made-clothing style, and we have to do the best we can with
them; and hard enough it is to make cheerful homes in most of them.
You will see something different when the woman is constantly
consulted in the plan of the house.

HERBERT.  We might see more difference if women would give any
attention to architecture.  Why are there no women architects?

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Want of the ballot, doubtless.  It seems to me that
here is a splendid opportunity for woman to come to the front.

THE YOUNG LADY.  They have no desire to come to the front; they would
rather manage things where they are.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  If they would master the noble art, and put their
brooding taste upon it, we might very likely compass something in our
domestic architecture that we have not yet attained.  The outside of
our houses needs attention as well as the inside.  Most of them are
as ugly as money can build.

THE YOUNG LADY.  What vexes me most is, that women, married women,
have so easily consented to give up open fires in their houses.

HERBERT.  They dislike the dust and the bother.  I think that women
rather like the confined furnace heat.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Nonsense; it is their angelic virtue of submission.
We wouldn't be hired to stay all-day in the houses we build.

THE YOUNG LADY.  That has a very chivalrous sound, but I know there
will be no reformation until women rebel and demand everywhere the
open fire.

HERBERT.  They are just now rebelling about something else; it seems
to me yours is a sort of counter-movement, a fire in the rear.

THE MISTRESS.  I'll join that movement.  The time has come when woman
must strike for her altars and her fires.

HERBERT.  Hear, hear!

THE MISTRESS.  Thank you, Herbert.  I applauded you once, when you
declaimed that years ago in the old Academy.  I remember how
eloquently you did it.

HERBERT.  Yes, I was once a spouting idiot.

Just then the door-bell rang, and company came in.  And the company
brought in a new atmosphere, as company always does, something of the
disturbance of out-doors, and a good deal of its healthy cheer.  The
direct news that the thermometer was approaching zero, with a hopeful
prospect of going below it, increased to liveliness our satisfaction
in the fire.  When the cider was heated in the brown stone pitcher,
there was difference of opinion whether there should be toast in it;
some were for toast, because that was the old-fashioned way, and
others were against it, "because it does not taste good" in cider.
Herbert said there, was very little respect left for our forefathers.

More wood was put on, and the flame danced in a hundred fantastic
shapes.  The snow had ceased to fall, and the moonlight lay in
silvery patches among the trees in the ravine.  The conversation
became worldly.



Herbert said, as we sat by the fire one night, that he wished he had
turned his attention to writing poetry like Tennyson's.

The remark was not whimsical, but satirical.  Tennyson is a man of
talent, who happened to strike a lucky vein, which he has worked with
cleverness.  The adventurer with a pickaxe in Washoe may happen upon
like good fortune.  The world is full of poetry as the earth is of
"pay-dirt;" one only needs to know how to "strike" it.  An able man
can make himself almost anything that he will.  It is melancholy to
think how many epic poets have been lost in the tea-trade, how many
dramatists (though the age of the drama has passed) have wasted their
genius in great mercantile and mechanical enterprises.  I know a man
who might have been the poet, the essayist, perhaps the critic, of
this country, who chose to become a country judge, to sit day after
day upon a bench in an obscure corner of the world, listening to
wrangling lawyers and prevaricating witnesses, preferring to judge
his fellow-men rather than enlighten them.

It is fortunate for the vanity of the living and the reputation of
the dead, that men get almost as much credit for what they do not as
for what they do.  It was the opinion of many that Burns might have
excelled as a statesman, or have been a great captain in war; and Mr.
Carlyle says that if he had been sent to a university, and become a
trained intellectual workman, it lay in him to have changed the whole
course of British literature!  A large undertaking, as so vigorous
and dazzling a writer as Mr. Carlyle must know by this time, since
British literature has swept by him in a resistless and widening
flood, mainly uncontaminated, and leaving his grotesque contrivances
wrecked on the shore with other curiosities of letters, and yet among
the richest of all the treasures lying there.

It is a temptation to a temperate man to become a sot, to hear what
talent, what versatility, what genius, is almost always attributed to
a moderately bright man who is habitually drunk.  Such a mechanic,
such a mathematician, such a poet he would be, if he were only sober;
and then he is sure to be the most generous, magnanimous, friendly
soul, conscientiously honorable, if he were not so conscientiously
drunk.  I suppose it is now notorious that the most brilliant and
promising men have been lost to the world in this way.  It is
sometimes almost painful to think what a surplus of talent and genius
there would be in the world if the habit of intoxication should
suddenly cease; and what a slim chance there would be for the
plodding people who have always had tolerably good habits.  The fear
is only mitigated by the observation that the reputation of a person
for great talent sometimes ceases with his reformation.

It is believed by some that the maidens who would make the best wives
never marry, but remain free to bless the world with their impartial
sweetness, and make it generally habitable.  This is one of the
mysteries of Providence and New England life.  It seems a pity, at
first sight, that all those who become poor wives have the
matrimonial chance, and that they are deprived of the reputation of
those who would be good wives were they not set apart for the high
and perpetual office of priestesses of society.  There is no beauty
like that which was spoiled by an accident, no accomplishments--and
graces are so to be envied as those that circumstances rudely
hindered the development of.  All of which shows what a charitable
and good-tempered world it is, notwithstanding its reputation for
cynicism and detraction.

Nothing is more beautiful than the belief of the faithful wife that
her husband has all the talents, and could , if he would, be
distinguished in any walk in life; and nothing will be more
beautiful--unless this is a very dry time for signs--than the
husband's belief that his wife is capable of taking charge of any of
the affairs of this confused planet.  There is no woman but thinks
that her husband, the green-grocer, could write poetry if he had
given his mind to it, or else she thinks small beer of poetry in
comparison with an occupation or accomplishment purely vegetable.  It
is touching to see the look of pride with which the wife turns to her
husband from any more brilliant personal presence or display of wit
than his, in the perfect confidence that if the world knew what she
knows, there would be one more popular idol.  How she magnifies his
small wit, and dotes upon the self-satisfied look in his face as if
it were a sign of wisdom!  What a councilor that man would make!
What a warrior he would be!  There are a great many corporals in
their retired homes who did more for the safety and success of our
armies in critical moments, in the late war, than any of the "high-
cock-a-lorum" commanders.  Mrs.  Corporal does not envy the
reputation of General Sheridan; she knows very well who really won
Five Forks, for she has heard the story a hundred times, and will
hear it a hundred times more with apparently unabated interest.  What
a general her husband would have made; and how his talking talent
would shine in Congress!

HERBERT.  Nonsense.  There isn't a wife in the world who has not
taken the exact measure of her husband, weighed him and settled him
in her own mind, and knows him as well as if she had ordered him
after designs and specifications of her own.  That knowledge,
however, she ordinarily keeps to herself, and she enters into a
league with her husband, which he was never admitted to the secret
of, to impose upon the world.  In nine out of ten cases he more than
half believes that he is what his wife tells him he is.  At any rate,
she manages him as easily as the keeper does the elephant, with only
a bamboo wand and a sharp spike in the end.  Usually she flatters
him, but she has the means of pricking clear through his hide on
occasion.  It is the great secret of her power to have him think that
she thoroughly believes in him.

THE YOUNG LADY STAYING WITH Us.  And you call this hypocrisy?  I have
heard authors, who thought themselves sly observers of women, call it

HERBERT.  Nothing of the sort.  It is the basis on which society
rests, the conventional agreement.  If society is about to be
overturned, it is on this point.  Women are beginning to tell men
what they really think of them; and to insist that the same relations
of downright sincerity and independence that exist between men shall
exist between women and men.  Absolute truth between souls, without
regard to sex, has always been the ideal life of the poets.

THE MISTRESS.  Yes; but there was never a poet yet who would bear to
have his wife say exactly what she thought of his poetry, any more
than be would keep his temper if his wife beat him at chess; and
there is nothing that disgusts a man like getting beaten at chess by
a woman.

HERBERT.  Well, women know how to win by losing.  I think that the
reason why most women do not want to take the ballot and stand out in
the open for a free trial of power, is that they are reluctant to
change the certain domination of centuries, with weapons they are
perfectly competent to handle, for an experiment.  I think we should
be better off if women were more transparent, and men were not so
systematically puffed up by the subtle flattery which is used to
control them.

MANDEVILLE.  Deliver me from transparency. When a woman takes that
guise, and begins to convince me that I can see through her like a
ray of light, I must run or be lost.  Transparent women are the truly
dangerous.  There was one on ship-board [Mandeville likes to say
that; he has just returned from a little tour in Europe, and he quite
often begins his remarks with "on the ship going over; "the Young
Lady declares that he has a sort of roll in his chair, when he says
it, that makes her sea-sick] who was the most innocent, artless,
guileless, natural bunch of lace and feathers you ever saw; she was
all candor and helplessness and dependence; she sang like a
nightingale, and talked like a nun.  There never was such simplicity.
There was n't a sounding-line on board that would have gone to the
bottom of her soulful eyes.  But she managed the captain and all the
officers, and controlled the ship as if she had been the helm.  All
the passengers were waiting on her, fetching this and that for her
comfort, inquiring of her health, talking about her genuineness, and
exhibiting as much anxiety to get her ashore in safety, as if she had
been about to knight them all and give them a castle apiece when they
came to land.

THE MISTRESS.  What harm?  It shows what I have always said, that the
service of a noble woman is the most ennobling influence for men.

MANDEVILLE.  If she is noble, and not a mere manager.  I watched this
woman to see if she would ever do anything for any one else.  She
never did.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Did you ever see her again?  I presume Mandeville
has introduced her here for some purpose.

MANDEVILLE.  No purpose.  But we did see her on the Rhine; she was
the most disgusted traveler, and seemed to be in very ill humor with
her maid.  I judged that her happiness depended upon establishing
controlling relations with all about her.  On this Rhine boat, to be
sure, there was reason for disgust.  And that reminds me of a remark
that was made.


MANDEVILLE.  When we got aboard at Mayence we were conscious of a
dreadful odor somewhere; as it was a foggy morning, we could see no
cause of it, but concluded it was from something on the wharf.  The
fog lifted, and we got under way, but the odor traveled with us, and
increased.  We went to every part of the vessel to avoid it, but in
vain.  It occasionally reached us in great waves of disagreeableness.
We had heard of the odors of the towns on the Rhine, but we had no
idea that the entire stream was infected.  It was intolerable.

The day was lovely, and the passengers stood about on deck holding
their noses and admiring the scenery.  You might see a row of them
leaning over the side, gazing up at some old ruin or ivied crag,
entranced with the romance of the situation, and all holding their
noses with thumb and finger.  The sweet Rhine!  By and by somebody
discovered that the odor came from a pile of cheese on the forward
deck, covered with a canvas; it seemed that the Rhinelanders are so
fond of it that they take it with them when they travel.  If there
should ever be war between us and Germany, the borders of the Rhine
would need no other defense from American soldiers than a barricade
of this cheese.  I went to the stern of the steamboat to tell a stout
American traveler what was the origin of the odor he had been trying
to dodge all the morning.  He looked more disgusted than before, when
he heard that it was cheese; but his only reply was: "It must be a
merciful God who can forgive a smell like that!"


The above is introduced here in order to illustrate the usual effect
of an anecdote on conversation.  Commonly it kills it.  That talk
must be very well in hand, and under great headway, that an anecdote
thrown in front of will not pitch off the track and wreck.  And it
makes little difference what the anecdote is; a poor one depresses
the spirits, and casts a gloom over the company; a good one begets
others, and the talkers go to telling stories; which is very good
entertainment in moderation, but is not to be mistaken for that
unwearying flow of argument, quaint remark, humorous color, and
sprightly interchange of sentiments and opinions, called

The reader will perceive that all hope is gone here of deciding
whether Herbert could have written Tennyson's poems, or whether
Tennyson could have dug as much money out of the Heliogabalus Lode as
Herbert did.  The more one sees of life, I think the impression
deepens that men, after all, play about the parts assigned them,
according to their mental and moral gifts, which are limited and
preordained, and that their entrances and exits are governed by a law
no less certain because it is hidden.  Perhaps nobody ever
accomplishes all that he feels lies in him to do; but nearly every
one who tries his powers touches the walls of his being occasionally,
and learns about how far to attempt to spring.  There are no
impossibilities to youth and inexperience; but when a person has
tried several times to reach high C and been coughed down, he is
quite content to go down among the chorus.  It is only the fools who
keep straining at high C all their lives.

Mandeville here began to say that that reminded him of something that
happened when he was on the

But Herbert cut in with the observation that no matter what a man's
single and several capacities and talents might be, he is controlled
by his own mysterious individuality, which is what metaphysicians
call the substance, all else being the mere accidents of the man.
And this is the reason that we cannot with any certainty tell what
any person will do or amount to, for, while we know his talents and
abilities, we do not know the resulting whole, which is he himself.
THE FIRE-TENDER.  So if you could take all the first-class qualities
that we admire in men and women, and put them together into one
being, you wouldn't be sure of the result?

HERBERT.  Certainly not.  You would probably have a monster.  It
takes a cook of long experience, with the best materials, to make a
dish " taste good;" and the "taste good" is the indefinable essence,
the resulting balance or harmony which makes man or woman agreeable
or beautiful or effective in the world.

THE YOUNG LADY.  That must be the reason why novelists fail so
lamentably in almost all cases in creating good characters.  They put
in real traits, talents, dispositions, but the result of the
synthesis is something that never was seen on earth before.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Oh, a good character in fiction is an inspiration.
We admit this in poetry.  It is as true of such creations as Colonel
Newcome, and Ethel, and Beatrix Esmond.  There is no patchwork about

THE YOUNG LADY.  Why was n't Thackeray ever inspired to create a
noble woman?

THE FIRE-TENDER.  That is the standing conundrum with all the women.
They will not accept Ethel Newcome even.  Perhaps we shall have to
admit that Thackeray was a writer for men.

HERBERT.  Scott and the rest had drawn so many perfect women that
Thackeray thought it was time for a real one.

THE MISTRESS.  That's ill-natured.  Thackeray did, however, make
ladies.  If he had depicted, with his searching pen, any of us just
as we are, I doubt if we should have liked it much.

MANDEVILLE.  That's just it.  Thackeray never pretended to make
ideals, and if the best novel is an idealization of human nature,
then he was not the best novelist.  When I was crossing the Channel

THE MISTRESS.  Oh dear, if we are to go to sea again, Mandeville, I
move we have in the nuts and apples, and talk about our friends.


There is this advantage in getting back to a wood-fire on the hearth,
that you return to a kind of simplicity; you can scarcely imagine any
one being stiffly conventional in front of it.  It thaws out
formality, and puts the company who sit around it into easy attitudes
of mind and body,--lounging attitudes,--Herbert said.

And this brought up the subject of culture in America, especially as
to manner.  The backlog period having passed, we are beginning to
have in society people of the cultured manner, as it is called, or
polished bearing, in which the polish is the most noticeable thing
about the man.  Not the courtliness, the easy simplicity of the
old-school gentleman, in whose presence the milkmaid was as much at
her ease as the countess, but something far finer than this.  These
are the people of unruffled demeanor, who never forget it for a
moment, and never let you forget it.  Their presence is a constant
rebuke to society.  They are never "jolly;" their laugh is never
anything more than a well-bred smile; they are never betrayed into
any enthusiasm.  Enthusiasm is a sign of inexperience, of ignorance,
of want of culture.  They never lose themselves in any cause; they
never heartily praise any man or woman or book; they are superior to
all tides of feeling and all outbursts of passion.  They are not even
shocked at vulgarity.  They are simply indifferent.  They are calm,
visibly calm, painfully calm; and it is not the eternal, majestic
calmness of the Sphinx either, but a rigid, self-conscious
repression.  You would like to put a bent pin in their chair when
they are about calmly to sit down.

A sitting hen on her nest is calm, but hopeful; she has faith that
her eggs are not china.  These people appear to be sitting on china
eggs.  Perfect culture has refined all blood, warmth, flavor, out of
them.  We admire them without envy.  They are too beautiful in their
manners to be either prigs or snobs.  They are at once our models and
our despair.  They are properly careful of themselves as models, for
they know that if they should break, society would become a scene of
mere animal confusion.

MANDEVILLE.  I think that the best-bred people in the world are the

THE YOUNG LADY.  You mean at home.

MANDEVILLE.  That's where I saw them. There is no nonsense about a
cultivated English man or woman.  They express themselves sturdily
and naturally, and with no subservience to the opinions of others.
There's a sort of hearty sincerity about them that I like.  Ages of
culture on the island have gone deeper than the surface, and they
have simpler and more natural manners than we.  There is something
good in the full, round tones of their voices.

HERBERT.  Did you ever get into a diligence with a growling English-
man who had n't secured the place he wanted?

[Mandeville once spent a week in London, riding about on the tops of

THE MISTRESS.  Did you ever see an English exquisite at the San
Carlo, and hear him cry "Bwavo"?

MANDEVILLE.  At any rate, he acted out his nature, and was n't afraid

THE FIRE-TENDER.  I think Mandeville is right, for once.  The men of
the best culture in England, in the middle and higher social classes,
are what you would call good fellows,--easy and simple in manner,
enthusiastic on occasion, and decidedly not cultivated into the
smooth calmness of indifference which some Americans seem to regard
as the sine qua non of good breeding.  Their position is so assured
that they do not need that lacquer of calmness of which we were

THE YOUNG LADY.  Which is different from the manner acquired by those
who live a great deal in American hotels?

THE MISTRESS.  Or the Washington manner?

HERBERT.  The last two are the same.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Not exactly.  You think you can always tell if a
man has learned his society carriage of a dancing-master.  Well, you
cannot always tell by a person's manner whether he is a habitui of
hotels or of Washington.  But these are distinct from the perfect
polish and politeness of indifferentism.


Daylight disenchants.  It draws one from the fireside, and dissipates
the idle illusions of conversation, except under certain conditions.
Let us say that the conditions are: a house in the country, with some
forest trees near, and a few evergreens, which are Christmas-trees
all winter long, fringed with snow, glistening with ice-pendants,
cheerful by day and grotesque by night; a snow-storm beginning out of
a dark sky, falling in a soft profusion that fills all the air, its
dazzling whiteness making a light near at hand, which is quite lost
in the distant darkling spaces.

If one begins to watch the swirling flakes and crystals, he soon gets
an impression of infinity of resources that he can have from nothing
else so powerfully, except it be from Adirondack gnats.  Nothing
makes one feel at home like a great snow-storm.  Our intelligent cat
will quit the fire and sit for hours in the low window, watching the
falling snow with a serious and contented air.  His thoughts are his
own, but he is in accord with the subtlest agencies of Nature; on
such a day he is charged with enough electricity to run a telegraphic
battery, if it could be utilized.  The connection between thought and
electricity has not been exactly determined, but the cat is mentally
very alert in certain conditions of the atmosphere.  Feasting his
eyes on the beautiful out-doors does not prevent his attention to the
slightest noise in the wainscot.  And the snow-storm brings content,
but not stupidity, to all the rest of the household.

I can see Mandeville now, rising from his armchair and swinging his
long arms as he strides to the window, and looks out and up, with,
"Well, I declare!"  Herbert is pretending to read Herbert Spencer's
tract on the philosophy of style but he loses much time in looking at
the Young Lady, who is writing a letter, holding her portfolio in her
lap,--one of her everlasting letters to one of her fifty everlasting
friends.  She is one of the female patriots who save the post-office
department from being a disastrous loss to the treasury.  Herbert is
thinking of the great radical difference in the two sexes, which
legislation will probably never change; that leads a woman always, to
write letters on her lap and a man on a table,--a distinction which
is commended to the notice of the anti-suffragists.

The Mistress, in a pretty little breakfast-cap, is moving about the
room with a feather-duster, whisking invisible dust from the picture-
frames, and talking with the Parson, who has just come in, and is
thawing the snow from his boots on the hearth.  The Parson says the
thermometer is 15deg., and going down; that there is a snowdrift
across the main church entrance three feet high, and that the house
looks as if it had gone into winter quarters, religion and all.
There were only ten persons at the conference meeting last night, and
seven of those were women; he wonders how many weather-proof
Christians there are in the parish, anyhow.

The Fire-Tender is in the adjoining library, pretending to write; but
it is a poor day for ideas.  He has written his wife's name about
eleven hundred times, and cannot get any farther.  He hears the
Mistress tell the Parson that she believes he is trying to write a
lecture on the Celtic Influence in Literature.  The Parson says that
it is a first-rate subject, if there were any such influence, and
asks why he does n't take a shovel and make a path to the gate.
Mandeville says that, by George!  he himself should like no better
fun, but it wouldn't look well for a visitor to do it.  The
Fire-Tender, not to be disturbed by this sort of chaff, keeps on
writing his wife's name.

Then the Parson and the Mistress fall to talking about the
soup-relief, and about old Mrs. Grumples in Pig Alley, who had a
present of one of Stowe's Illustrated Self-Acting Bibles on
Christmas, when she had n't coal enough in the house to heat her
gruel; and about a family behind the church, a widow and six little
children and three dogs; and he did n't believe that any of them had
known what it was to be warm in three weeks, and as to food, the
woman said, she could hardly beg cold victuals enough to keep the
dogs alive.

The Mistress slipped out into the kitchen to fill a basket with
provisions and send it somewhere; and when the Fire-Tender brought in
a new forestick, Mandeville, who always wants to talk, and had been
sitting drumming his feet and drawing deep sighs, attacked him.

MANDEVILLE.  Speaking about culture and manners, did you ever notice
how extremes meet, and that the savage bears himself very much like
the sort of cultured persons we were talking of last night?

THE FIRE-TENDER.  In what respect?

MANDEVILLE.  Well, you take the North American Indian.  He is never
interested in anything, never surprised at anything.  He has by
nature that calmness and indifference which your people of culture
have acquired.  If he should go into literature as a critic, he would
scalp and tomahawk with the same emotionless composure, and he would
do nothing else.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Then you think the red man is a born gentleman of
the highest breeding?

MANDEVILLE.  I think he is calm.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  How is it about the war-path and all that?

MANDEVILLE.  Oh, these studiously calm and cultured people may have
malice underneath.  It takes them to give the most effective "little
digs;" they know how to stick in the pine-splinters and set fire to

HERBERT.  But there is more in Mandeville's idea.  You bring a red
man into a picture-gallery, or a city full of fine architecture, or
into a drawing-room crowded with objects of art and beauty, and he is
apparently insensible to them all.  Now I have seen country people,--
and by country people I don't mean people necessarily who live in the
country, for everything is mixed in these days,--some of the best
people in the world, intelligent, honest, sincere, who acted as the
Indian would.

THE MISTRESS.  Herbert, if I did n't know you were cynical, I should
say you were snobbish.

HERBERT.  Such people think it a point of breeding never to speak of
anything in your house, nor to appear to notice it, however beautiful
it may be; even to slyly glance around strains their notion of
etiquette.  They are like the countryman who confessed afterwards
that he could hardly keep from laughing at one of Yankee Hill's

THE YOUNG LADY.  Do you remember those English people at our house in
Flushing last summer, who pleased us all so much with their apparent
delight in everything that was artistic or tasteful, who explored the
rooms and looked at everything, and were so interested?  I suppose
that Herbert's country relations, many of whom live in the city,
would have thought it very ill-bred.

MANDEVILLE.  It's just as I said.  The English, the best of them,
have become so civilized that they express themselves, in speech and
action, naturally, and are not afraid of their emotions.

THE PARSON.  I wish Mandeville would travel more, or that he had
stayed at home.  It's wonderful what a fit of Atlantic sea-sickness
will do for a man's judgment and cultivation.  He is prepared to
pronounce on art, manners, all kinds of culture.  There is more
nonsense talked about culture than about anything else.

HERBERT.  The Parson reminds me of an American country minister I
once met walking through the Vatican.  You could n't impose upon him
with any rubbish; he tested everything by the standards of his native
place, and there was little that could bear the test.  He had the sly
air of a man who could not be deceived, and he went about with his
mouth in a pucker of incredulity.  There is nothing so placid as
rustic conceit.  There was something very enjoyable about his calm
superiority to all the treasures of art.

MANDEVILLE.  And the Parson reminds me of another American minister,
a consul in an Italian city, who said he was going up to Rome to have
a thorough talk with the Pope, and give him a piece of his mind.
Ministers seem to think that is their business.  They serve it in
such small pieces in order to make it go round.

THE PARSON.  Mandeville is an infidel.  Come, let's have some music;
nothing else will keep him in good humor till lunch-time.

THE MISTRESS.  What shall it be?

THE PARSON.  Give us the larghetto from Beethoven's second symphony.

The Young Lady puts aside her portfolio.  Herbert looks at the young
lady.  The Parson composes himself for critical purposes.  Mandeville
settles himself in a chair and stretches his long legs nearly into
the fire, remarking that music takes the tangles out of him.

After the piece is finished, lunch is announced.  It is still


It is difficult to explain the attraction which the uncanny and even
the horrible have for most minds.  I have seen a delicate woman half
fascinated, but wholly disgusted, by one of the most unseemly of
reptiles, vulgarly known as the "blowing viper" of the Alleghanies.
She would look at it, and turn away with irresistible shuddering and
the utmost loathing, and yet turn to look at it again and again, only
to experience the same spasm of disgust. In spite of her aversion,
she must have relished the sort of electric mental shock that the
sight gave her.

I can no more account for the fascination for us of the stories of
ghosts and "appearances," and those weird tales in which the dead are
the chief characters; nor tell why we should fall into converse about
them when the winter evenings are far spent, the embers are glazing
over on the hearth, and the listener begins to hear the eerie noises
in the house.  At such times one's dreams become of importance, and
people like to tell them and dwell upon them, as if they were a link
between the known and unknown, and could give us a clew to that
ghostly region which in certain states of the mind we feel to be more
real than that we see.

Recently, when we were, so to say, sitting around the borders of the
supernatural late at night, MANDEVILLE related a dream of his which
he assured us was true in every particular, and it interested us so
much that we asked him to write it out.  In doing so he has curtailed
it, and to my mind shorn it of some of its more vivid and picturesque
features.  He might have worked it up with more art, and given it a
finish which the narration now lacks, but I think best to insert it
in its simplicity.  It seems to me that it may properly be called,


In the winter of 1850 I was a member of one of the leading colleges
of this country.  I was in moderate circumstances pecuniarily,
though I was perhaps better furnished with less fleeting riches than
many others.  I was an incessant and indiscriminate reader of books.
For the solid sciences I had no particular fancy, but with mental
modes and habits, and especially with the eccentric and fantastic in
the intellectual and spiritual operations, I was tolerably familiar.
All the literature of the supernatural was as real to me as the
laboratory of the chemist, where I saw the continual struggle of
material substances to evolve themselves into more volatile, less
palpable and coarse forms.  My imagination, naturally vivid,
stimulated by such repasts, nearly mastered me.  At times I could
scarcely tell where the material ceased and the immaterial began (if
I may so express it); so that once and again I walked, as it seemed,
from the solid earth onward upon an impalpable plain, where I heard
the same voices, I think, that Joan of Arc heard call to her in the
garden at Domremy.  She was inspired, however, while I only lacked
exercise.  I do not mean this in any literal sense; I only describe a
state of mind.  I was at this time of spare habit, and nervous,
excitable temperament.  I was ambitious, proud, and extremely
sensitive.  I cannot deny that I had seen something of the world, and
had contracted about the average bad habits of young men who have the
sole care of themselves, and rather bungle the matter.  It is
necessary to this relation to admit that I had seen a trifle more of
what is called life than a young man ought to see, but at this period
I was not only sick of my experience, but my habits were as correct
as those of any Pharisee in our college, and we had some very
favorable specimens of that ancient sect.

Nor can I deny that at this period of my life I was in a peculiar
mental condition.  I well remember an illustration of it.  I sat
writing late one night, copying a prize essay,--a merely manual task,
leaving my thoughts free.  It was in June, a sultry night, and about
midnight a wind arose, pouring in through the open windows, full of
mournful reminiscence, not of this, but of other summers, --the same
wind that De Quincey heard at noonday in midsummer blowing through
the room where he stood, a mere boy, by the side of his dead sister,-
-a wind centuries old. As I wrote on mechanically, I became conscious
of a presence in the room, though I did not lift my eyes from the
paper on which I wrote.  Gradually I came to know that my
grandmother--dead so long ago that I laughed at the idea--was in the
room.  She stood beside her old-fashioned spinning-wheel, and quite
near me.  She wore a plain muslin cap with a high puff in the crown,
a short woolen gown, a white and blue checked apron, and shoes with
heels.  She did not regard me, but stood facing the wheel, with the
left hand near the spindle, holding lightly between the thumb and
forefinger the white roll of wool which was being spun and twisted on
it.  In her right hand she held a small stick.  I heard the sharp
click of this against the spokes of the wheel, then the hum of the
wheel, the buzz of the spindles as the twisting yarn was teased by
the whirl of its point, then a step backwards, a pause, a step
forward and the running of the yarn upon the spindle, and again a
backward step, the drawing out of the roll and the droning and hum of
the wheel, most mournfully hopeless sound that ever fell on mortal
ear.  Since childhood it has haunted me.  All this time I wrote, and
I could hear distinctly the scratching of the pen upon the paper.
But she stood behind me (why I did not turn my head I never knew),
pacing backward and forward by the spinning-wheel, just as I had a
hundred times seen her in childhood in the old kitchen on drowsy
summer afternoons.  And I heard the step, the buzz and whirl of the
spindle, and the monotonous and dreary hum of the mournful wheel.
Whether her face was ashy pale and looked as if it might crumble at
the touch, and the border of her white cap trembled in the June wind
that blew, I cannot say, for I tell you I did NOT see her.  But I
know she was there, spinning yarn that had been knit into hose years
and years ago by our fireside.  For I was in full possession of my
faculties, and never copied more neatly and legibly any manuscript
than I did the one that night.  And there the phantom (I use the word
out of deference to a public prejudice on this subject) most
persistently remained until my task was finished, and, closing the
portfolio, I abruptly rose.  Did I see anything?  That is a silly and
ignorant question.  Could I see the wind which had now risen
stronger, and drove a few cloud-scuds across the sky, filling the
night, somehow, with a longing that was not altogether born of

In the winter following, in January, I made an effort to give up the
use of tobacco,--a habit in which I was confirmed, and of which I
have nothing more to say than this: that I should attribute to it
almost all the sin and misery in the world, did I not remember that
the old Romans attained a very considerable state of corruption
without the assistance of the Virginia plant.

On the night of the third day of my abstinence, rendered more nervous
and excitable than usual by the privation, I retired late, and later
still I fell into an uneasy sleep, and thus into a dream, vivid,
illuminated, more real than any event of my life.  I was at home, and
fell sick.  The illness developed into a fever, and then a delirium
set in, not an intellectual blank, but a misty and most delicious
wandering in places of incomparable beauty.  I learned subsequently
that our regular physician was not certain to finish me, when a
consultation was called, which did the business.  I have the
satisfaction of knowing that they were of the proper school.  I lay
sick for three days.

On the morning of the fourth, at sunrise, I died.  The sensation was
not unpleasant.  It was not a sudden shock.  I passed out of my body
as one would walk from the door of his house.  There the body lay,--a
blank, so far as I was concerned, and only interesting to me as I was
rather entertained with watching the respect paid to it.  My friends
stood about the bedside, regarding me (as they seemed to suppose),
while I, in a different part of the room, could hardly repress a
smile at their mistake, solemnized as they were, and I too, for that
matter, by my recent demise.  A sensation (the word you see is
material and inappropriate) of etherealization and imponderability
pervaded me, and I was not sorry to get rid of such a dull, slow mass
as I now perceived myself to be, lying there on the bed.  When I
speak of my death, let me be understood to say that there was no
change, except that I passed out of my body and floated to the top of
a bookcase in the corner of the room, from which I looked down.  For
a moment I was interested to see my person from the outside, but
thereafter I was quite indifferent to the body.  I was now simply
soul.  I seemed to be a globe, impalpable, transparent, about six
inches in diameter.  I saw and heard everything as before.  Of
course, matter was no obstacle to me, and I went easily and quickly
wherever I willed to go.  There was none of that tedious process of
communicating my wishes to the nerves, and from them to the muscles.
I simply resolved to be at a particular place, and I was there.  It
was better than the telegraph.

It seemed to have been intimated to me at my death (birth I half
incline to call it) that I could remain on this earth for four weeks
after my decease, during which time I could amuse myself as I chose.

I chose, in the first place, to see myself decently buried, to stay
by myself to the last, and attend my own funeral for once.  As most
of those referred to in this true narrative are still living, I am
forbidden to indulge in personalities, nor shall I dare to say
exactly how my death affected my friends, even the home circle.
Whatever others did, I sat up with myself and kept awake.  I saw the
"pennies" used instead of the "quarters" which I should have
preferred.  I saw myself "laid out," a phrase that has come to have
such a slang meaning that I smile as I write it.  When the body was
put into the coffin, I took my place on the lid.

I cannot recall all the details, and they are commonplace besides.
The funeral took place at the church.  We all rode thither in
carriages, and I, not fancying my place in mine, rode on the outside
with the undertaker, whom I found to be a good deal more jolly than
he looked to be.  The coffin was placed in front of the pulpit when
we arrived.  I took my station on the pulpit cushion, from which
elevation I had an admirable view of all the ceremonies, and could
hear the sermon.  How distinctly I remember the services.  I think I
could even at this distance write out the sermon.  The tune sung was
of--the usual country selection,--Mount Vernon.  I recall the text.
I was rather flattered by the tribute paid to me, and my future was
spoken of gravely and as kindly as possible,--indeed, with remarkable
charity, considering that the minister was not aware of my presence.
I used to beat him at chess, and I thought, even then, of the last
game; for, however solemn the occasion might be to others, it was not
so to me.  With what interest I watched my kinsfolks, and neighbors
as they filed past for the last look!  I saw, and I remember, who
pulled a long face for the occasion and who exhibited genuine
sadness.  I learned with the most dreadful certainty what people
really thought of me.  It was a revelation never forgotten.

Several particular acquaintances of mine were talking on the steps as
we passed out.

"Well, old Starr's gone up.  Sudden, was n't it?  He was a first-rate

"Yes, queer about some things; but he had some mighty good streaks,"
said another.  And so they ran on.

Streaks!  So that is the reputation one gets during twenty years of
life in this world.  Streaks!

After the funeral I rode home with the family.  It was pleasanter
than the ride down, though it seemed sad to my relations.  They did
not mention me, however, and I may remark, that although I stayed
about home for a week, I never heard my name mentioned by any of the
family.  Arrived at home, the tea-kettle was put on and supper got
ready.  This seemed to lift the gloom a little, and under the
influence of the tea they brightened up and gradually got more
cheerful.  They discussed the sermon and the singing, and the mistake
of the sexton in digging the grave in the wrong place, and the large
congregation.  From the mantel-piece I watched the group.  They had
waffles for supper,--of which I had been exceedingly fond, but now I
saw them disappear without a sigh.

For the first day or two of my sojourn at home I was here and there
at all the neighbors, and heard a good deal about my life and
character, some of which was not very pleasant, but very wholesome,
doubtless, for me to hear.  At the expiration of a week this
amusement ceased to be such for I ceased to be talked of.  I realized
the fact that I was dead and gone.

By an act of volition I found myself back at college.  I floated into
my own room, which was empty.  I went to the room of my two warmest
friends, whose friendship I was and am yet assured of.  As usual,
half a dozen of our set were lounging there.  A game of whist was
just commencing.  I perched on a bust of Dante on the top of the
book-shelves, where I could see two of the hands and give a good
guess at a third.  My particular friend Timmins was just shuffling
the cards.

"Be hanged if it is n't lonesome without old Starr.  Did you cut?  I
should like to see him lounge in now with his pipe, and with feet on
the mantel-piece proceed to expound on the duplex functions of the

"There--misdeal," said his vis-,a-vis.  "Hope there's been no misdeal
for old Starr."

"Spades, did you say?" the talk ran on, "never knew Starr was

"No more was he; stouter than you are, and as brave and plucky as he
was strong.  By George, fellows,--how we do get cut down!  Last term
little Stubbs, and now one of the best fellows in the class."

"How suddenly he did pop off,--one for game, honors easy,--he was
good for the Spouts' Medal this year, too."

"Remember the joke he played on Prof. A., freshman year?  "asked

"Remember he borrowed ten dollars of me about that time," said
Timmins's partner, gathering the cards for a new deal.

"Guess he is the only one who ever did," retorted some one.

And so the talk went on, mingled with whist-talk, reminiscent of me,
not all exactly what I would have chosen to go into my biography, but
on the whole kind and tender, after the fashion of the boys.  At
least I was in their thoughts, and I could see was a good deal
regretted,--so I passed a very pleasant evening.  Most of those
present were of my society, and wore crape on their badges, and all
wore the usual crape on the left arm.  I learned that the following
afternoon a eulogy would be delivered on me in the chapel.

The eulogy was delivered before members of our society and others,
the next afternoon, in the chapel.  I need not say that I was
present.  Indeed, I was perched on the desk within reach of the
speaker's hand.  The apotheosis was pronounced by my most intimate
friend, Timmins, and I must say he did me ample justice.  He never
was accustomed to "draw it very mild" (to use a vulgarism which I
dislike) when he had his head, and on this occasion he entered into
the matter with the zeal of a true friend, and a young man who never
expected to have another occasion to sing a public "In Memoriam."  It
made my hair stand on end,--metaphorically, of course.  From my
childhood I had been extremely precocious.  There were anecdotes of
preternatural brightness, picked up, Heaven knows where, of my
eagerness to learn, of my adventurous, chivalrous young soul, and of
my arduous struggles with chill penury, which was not able (as it
appeared) to repress my rage, until I entered this institution, of
which I had been ornament, pride, cynosure, and fair promising bud
blasted while yet its fragrance was mingled with the dew of its
youth.  Once launched upon my college days, Timmins went on with all
sails spread.  I had, as it were, to hold on to the pulpit cushion.
Latin, Greek, the old literatures, I was perfect master of; all
history was merely a light repast to me;  mathematics I glanced at,
and it disappeared; in the clouds of modern philosophy I was wrapped
but not obscured; over the field of light literature I familiarly
roamed as the honey-bee over the wide fields of clover which blossom
white in the Junes of this world!  My life was pure, my character
spotless, my name was inscribed among the names of those deathless
few who were not born to die!

It was a noble eulogy, and I felt before he finished, though I had
misgivings at the beginning, that I deserved it all.  The effect on
the audience was a little different.  They said it was a "strong"
oration, and I think Timmins got more credit by it than I did.  After
the performance they stood about the chapel, talking in a subdued
tone, and seemed to be a good deal impressed by what they had heard,
or perhaps by thoughts of the departed.  At least they all soon went
over to Austin's and called for beer.  My particular friends called
for it twice.  Then they all lit pipes.  The old grocery keeper was
good enough to say that I was no fool, if I did go off owing him four
dollars.  To the credit of human nature, let me here record that the
fellows were touched by this remark reflecting upon my memory, and
immediately made up a purse and paid the bill,--that is, they told
the old man to charge it over to them.  College boys are rich in
credit and the possibilities of life.

It is needless to dwell upon the days I passed at college during this
probation.  So far as I could see, everything went on as if I were
there, or had never been there.  I could not even see the place where
I had dropped out of the ranks.  Occasionally I heard my name, but I
must say that four weeks was quite long enough to stay in a world
that had pretty much forgotten me.  There is no great satisfaction in
being dragged up to light now and then, like an old letter.  The case
was somewhat different with the people with whom I had boarded.  They
were relations of mine, and I often saw them weep, and they talked of
me a good deal at twilight and Sunday nights, especially the youngest
one, Carrie, who was handsomer than any one I knew, and not much
older than I.  I never used to imagine that she cared particularly
for me, nor would she have done so, if I had lived, but death brought
with it a sort of sentimental regret, which, with the help of a
daguerreotype, she nursed into quite a little passion.  I spent most
of my time there, for it was more congenial than the college.

But time hastened.  The last sand of probation leaked out of the
glass.  One day, while Carrie played (for me, though she knew it not)
one of Mendelssohn's "songs without words," I suddenly, yet gently,
without self-effort or volition, moved from the house, floated in the
air, rose higher, higher, by an easy, delicious, exultant, yet
inconceivably rapid motion.  The ecstasy of that triumphant flight!
Groves, trees, houses, the landscape, dimmed, faded, fled away
beneath me.  Upward mounting, as on angels' wings, with no effort,
till the earth hung beneath me a round black ball swinging, remote,
in the universal ether.  Upward mounting, till the earth, no longer
bathed in the sun's rays, went out to my sight, disappeared in the
blank.  Constellations, before seen from afar, I sailed among.
Stars, too remote for shining on earth, I neared, and found to be
round globes flying through space with a velocity only equaled by my
own.  New worlds continually opened on my sight; newfields of
everlasting space opened and closed behind me.

For days and days--it seemed a mortal forever--I mounted up the great
heavens, whose everlasting doors swung wide.  How the worlds and
systems, stars, constellations, neared me, blazed and flashed in
splendor, and fled away!  At length,--was it not a thousand years?--I
saw before me, yet afar off, a wall, the rocky bourn of that country
whence travelers come not back, a battlement wider than I could
guess, the height of which I could not see, the depth of which was
infinite.  As I approached, it shone with a splendor never yet beheld
on earth.  Its solid substance was built of jewels the rarest, and
stones of priceless value.  It seemed like one solid stone, and yet
all the colors of the rainbow were contained in it.  The ruby, the
diamond, the emerald, the carbuncle, the topaz, the amethyst, the
sapphire; of them the wall was built up in harmonious combination.
So brilliant was it that all the space I floated in was full of the
splendor.  So mild was it and so translucent, that I could look for
miles into its clear depths.

Rapidly nearing this heavenly battlement, an immense niche was
disclosed in its solid face.  The floor was one large ruby.  Its
sloping sides were of pearl.  Before I was aware I stood within the
brilliant recess.  I say I stood there, for I was there bodily, in my
habit as I lived; how, I cannot explain.  Was it the resurrection of
the body?  Before me rose, a thousand feet in height, a wonderful
gate of flashing diamond.  Beside it sat a venerable man, with long
white beard, a robe of light gray, ancient sandals, and a golden key
hanging by a cord from his waist.  In the serene beauty of his noble
features I saw justice and mercy had met and were reconciled.  I
cannot describe the majesty of his bearing or the benignity of his
appearance.  It is needless to say that I stood before St. Peter, who
sits at the Celestial Gate.

I humbly approached, and begged admission.  St. Peter arose, and
regarded me kindly, yet inquiringly.

"What is your name?  " asked he, "and from what place do you come?"

I answered, and, wishing to give a name well known, said I was from
Washington, United States.  He looked doubtful, as if he had never
heard the name before.

"Give me," said he, "a full account of your whole life."

I felt instantaneously that there was no concealment possible; all
disguise fell away, and an unknown power forced me to speak absolute
and exact truth.  I detailed the events of my life as well as I
could, and the good man was not a little affected by the recital of
my early trials, poverty, and temptation.  It did not seem a very
good life when spread out in that presence, and I trembled as I
proceeded; but I plead youth, inexperience, and bad examples.

Have you been accustomed," he said, after a time, rather sadly, "to
break the Sabbath?"

I told him frankly that I had been rather lax in that matter,
especially at college.  I often went to sleep in the chapel on
Sunday, when I was not reading some entertaining book.  He then asked
who the preacher was, and when I told him, he remarked that I was not
so much to blame as he had supposed.

"Have you," he went on, "ever stolen, or told any lie?"

I was able to say no, except admitting as to the first, usual college
"conveyances," and as to the last, an occasional "blinder" to the
professors.  He was gracious enough to say that these could be
overlooked as incident to the occasion.

"Have you ever been dissipated, living riotously and keeping late


This also could be forgiven me as an incident of youth.

"Did you ever," he went on, "commit the crime of using intoxicating
drinks as a beverage?"

I answered that I had never been a habitual drinker, that I had never
been what was called a "moderate drinker," that I had never gone to a
bar and drank alone; but that I had been accustomed, in company with
other young men, on convivial occasions to taste the pleasures of the
flowing bowl, sometimes to excess, but that I had also tasted the
pains of it, and for months before my demise had refrained from
liquor altogether.  The holy man looked grave, but, after reflection,
said this might also be overlooked in a young man.

"What," continued he, in tones still more serious, "has been your
conduct with regard to the other sex?"

I fell upon my knees in a tremor of fear.  I pulled from my bosom a
little book like the one Leperello exhibits in the opera of "Don
Giovanni."  There, I said, was a record of my flirtation and
inconstancy.  I waited long for the decision, but it came in mercy.

"Rise," he cried; "young men will be young men, I suppose.  We shall
forgive this also to your youth and penitence."

"Your examination is satisfactory, he informed me," after a pause;
"you can now enter the abodes of the happy."

Joy leaped within me.  We approached the gate.  The key turned in the
lock.  The gate swung noiselessly on its hinges a little open.  Out
flashed upon me unknown splendors.  What I saw in that momentary
gleam I shall never whisper in mortal ears.  I stood upon the
threshold, just about to enter.

"Stop!  one moment," exclaimed St.  Peter, laying his hand on my
shoulder; "I have one more question to ask you."

I turned toward him.

"Young man, did you ever use tobacco?"

"I both smoked and chewed in my lifetime," I faltered, "but..."

"THEN TO HELL WITH YOU!" he shouted in a voice of thunder.

Instantly the gate closed without noise, and I was flung, hurled,
from the battlement, down!  down!  down!  Faster and faster I sank in
a dizzy, sickening whirl into an unfathomable space of gloom.  The
light faded.  Dampness and darkness were round about me.  As before,
for days and days I rose exultant in the light, so now forever I sank
into thickening darkness,--and yet not darkness, but a pale, ashy
light more fearful.

In the dimness, I at length discovered a wall before me.  It ran up
and down and on either hand endlessly into the night.  It was solid,
black, terrible in its frowning massiveness.

Straightway I alighted at the gate,--a dismal crevice hewn into the
dripping rock.  The gate was wide open, and there sat-I knew him at
once; who does not?--the Arch Enemy of mankind.  He cocked his eye at
me in an impudent, low, familiar manner that disgusted me.  I saw
that I was not to be treated like a gentleman.

"Well, young man," said he, rising, with a queer grin on his face,"
what are you sent here for?

"For using tobacco," I replied.

"Ho!" shouted he in a jolly manner, peculiar to devils, "that's what
most of 'em are sent here for now."

Without more ado, he called four lesser imps, who ushered me within.
What a dreadful plain lay before me!  There was a vast city laid out
in regular streets, but there were no houses.  Along the streets were
places of torment and torture exceedingly ingenious and disagreeable.
For miles and miles, it seemed, I followed my conductors through
these horrors, Here was a deep vat of burning tar.  Here were rows of
fiery ovens.  I noticed several immense caldron kettles of boiling
oil, upon the rims of which little devils sat, with pitchforks in
hand, and poked down the helpless victims who floundered in the
liquid.  But I forbear to go into unseemly details.  The whole scene
is as vivid in my mind as any earthly landscape.

After an hour's walk my tormentors halted before the mouth of an
oven,--a furnace heated seven times, and now roaring with flames.
They grasped me, one hold of each hand and foot.  Standing before the
blazing mouth, they, with a swing, and a "one, two, THREE...."

I again assure the reader that in this narrative I have set down
nothing that was not actually dreamed, and much, very much of this
wonderful vision I have been obliged to omit.

Haec fabula docet: It is dangerous for a young man to leave off the
use of tobacco.



I wish I could fitly celebrate the joyousness of the New England
winter.  Perhaps I could if I more thoroughly believed in it.  But
skepticism comes in with the south wind.  When that begins to blow,
one feels the foundations of his belief breaking up.  This is only
another way of saying that it is more difficult, if it be not
impossible, to freeze out orthodoxy, or any fixed notion, than it is
to thaw it out; though it is a mere fancy to suppose that this is the
reason why the martyrs, of all creeds, were burned at the stake.
There is said to be a great relaxation in New England of the ancient
strictness in the direction of toleration of opinion, called by some
a lowering of the standard, and by others a raising of the banner of
liberality; it might be an interesting inquiry how much this change
is due to another change,--the softening of the New England winter
and the shifting of the Gulf Stream.  It is the fashion nowadays to
refer almost everything to physical causes, and this hint is a
gratuitous contribution to the science of metaphysical physics.

The hindrance to entering fully into the joyousness of a New England
winter, except far inland among the mountains, is the south wind.  It
is a grateful wind, and has done more, I suspect, to demoralize
society than any other.  It is not necessary to remember that it
filled the silken sails of Cleopatra's galley.  It blows over New
England every few days, and is in some portions of it the prevailing
wind.  That it brings the soft clouds, and sometimes continues long
enough to almost deceive the expectant buds of the fruit trees, and
to tempt the robin from the secluded evergreen copses, may be
nothing; but it takes the tone out of the mind, and engenders
discontent, making one long for the tropics; it feeds the weakened
imagination on palm-leaves and the lotus.  Before we know it we
become demoralized, and shrink from the tonic of the sudden change to
sharp weather, as the steamed hydropathic patient does from the
plunge.  It is the insidious temptation that assails us when we are
braced up to profit by the invigorating rigor of winter.

Perhaps the influence of the four great winds on character is only a
fancied one; but it is evident on temperament, which is not
altogether a matter of temperature, although the good old deacon used
to say, in his humble, simple way, that his third wife was a very
good woman, but her "temperature was very different from that of the
other two."  The north wind is full of courage, and puts the stamina
of endurance into a man, and it probably would into a woman too if
there were a series of resolutions passed to that effect.  The west
wind is hopeful; it has promise and adventure in it, and is, except
to Atlantic voyagers America-bound, the best wind that ever blew.
The east wind is peevishness; it is mental rheumatism and grumbling,
and curls one up in the chimney-corner like a cat.  And if the
chimney ever smokes, it smokes when the wind sits in that quarter.
The south wind is full of longing and unrest, of effeminate
suggestions of luxurious ease, and perhaps we might say of modern
poetry,--at any rate, modern poetry needs a change of air.  I am not
sure but the south is the most powerful of the winds, because of its
sweet persuasiveness.  Nothing so stirs the blood in spring, when it
comes up out of the tropical latitude; it makes men "longen to gon on

I did intend to insert here a little poem (as it is quite proper to
do in an essay) on the south wind, composed by the Young Lady Staying
With Us, beginning,--

"Out of a drifting southern cloud
My soul heard the night-bird cry,"

but it never got any farther than this.  The Young Lady said it was
exceedingly difficult to write the next two lines, because not only
rhyme but meaning had to be procured.  And this is true; anybody can
write first lines, and that is probably the reason we have so many
poems which seem to have been begun in just this way, that is, with a
south-wind-longing without any thought in it, and it is very
fortunate when there is not wind enough to finish them.  This
emotional poem, if I may so call it, was begun after Herbert went
away.  I liked it, and thought it was what is called "suggestive;"
although I did not understand it, especially what the night-bird was;
and I am afraid I hurt the Young Lady's feelings by asking her if she
meant Herbert by the "night-bird,"--a very absurd suggestion about
two unsentimental people.  She said, "Nonsense;" but she afterwards
told the Mistress that there were emotions that one could never put
into words without the danger of being ridiculous; a profound truth.
And yet I should not like to say that there is not a tender
lonesomeness in love that can get comfort out of a night-bird in a
cloud, if there be such a thing.  Analysis is the death of sentiment.

But to return to the winds.  Certain people impress us as the winds
do.  Mandeville never comes in that I do not feel a north-wind vigor
and healthfulness in his cordial, sincere, hearty manner, and in his
wholesome way of looking at things.  The Parson, you would say, was
the east wind, and only his intimates know that his peevishness is
only a querulous humor.  In the fair west wind I know the Mistress
herself, full of hope, and always the first one to discover a bit of
blue in a cloudy sky.  It would not be just to apply what I have said
of the south wind to any of our visitors, but it did blow a little
while Herbert was here.


In point of pure enjoyment, with an intellectual sparkle in it, I
suppose that no luxurious lounging on tropical isles set in tropical
seas compares with the positive happiness one may have before a great
woodfire (not two sticks laid crossways in a grate), with a veritable
New England winter raging outside.  In order to get the highest
enjoyment, the faculties must be alert, and not be lulled into a mere
recipient dullness.  There are those who prefer a warm bath to a
brisk walk in the inspiring air, where ten thousand keen influences
minister to the sense of beauty and run along the excited nerves.
There are, for instance, a sharpness of horizon outline and a
delicacy of color on distant hills which are wanting in summer, and
which convey to one rightly organized the keenest delight, and a
refinement of enjoyment that is scarcely sensuous, not at all
sentimental, and almost passing the intellectual line into the

I was speaking to Mandeville about this, and he said that I was
drawing it altogether too fine; that he experienced sensations of
pleasure in being out in almost all weathers; that he rather liked to
breast a north wind, and that there was a certain inspiration in
sharp outlines and in a landscape in trim winter-quarters, with
stripped trees, and, as it were, scudding through the season under
bare poles; but that he must say that he preferred the weather in
which he could sit on the fence by the wood-lot, with the spring sun
on his back, and hear the stir of the leaves and the birds beginning
their housekeeping.

A very pretty idea for Mandeville; and I fear he is getting to have
private thoughts about the Young Lady.  Mandeville naturally likes
the robustness and sparkle of winter, and it has been a little
suspicious to hear him express the hope that we shall have an early

I wonder how many people there are in New England who know the glory
and inspiration of a winter walk just before sunset, and that, too,
not only on days of clear sky, when the west is aflame with a rosy
color, which has no suggestion of languor or unsatisfied longing in
it, but on dull days, when the sullen clouds hang about the horizon,
full of threats of storm and the terrors of the gathering night.  We
are very busy with our own affairs, but there is always something
going on out-doors worth looking at; and there is seldom an hour
before sunset that has not some special attraction.  And, besides, it
puts one in the mood for the cheer and comfort of the open fire at

Probably if the people of New England could have a plebiscitum on
their weather, they would vote against it, especially against winter.
Almost no one speaks well of winter.  And this suggests the idea that
most people here were either born in the wrong place, or do not know
what is best for them.  I doubt if these grumblers would be any
better satisfied, or would turn out as well, in the tropics.
Everybody knows our virtues,--at least if they believe half we tell
them,--and for delicate beauty, that rare plant, I should look among
the girls of the New England hills as confidently as anywhere, and I
have traveled as far south as New Jersey, and west of the Genesee
Valley.  Indeed, it would be easy to show that the parents of the
pretty girls in the West emigrated from New England.  And yet--such
is the mystery of Providence--no one would expect that one of the
sweetest and most delicate flowers that blooms, the trailing.
arbutus, would blossom in this inhospitable climate, and peep forth
from the edge of a snowbank at that.

It seems unaccountable to a superficial observer that the thousands
of people who are dissatisfied with their climate do not seek a more
congenial one--or stop grumbling.  The world is so small, and all
parts of it are so accessible, it has so many varieties of climate,
that one could surely suit himself by searching; and, then, is it
worth while to waste our one short life in the midst of unpleasant
surroundings and in a constant friction with that which is
disagreeable?  One would suppose that people set down on this little
globe would seek places on it most agreeable to themselves.  It must
be that they are much more content with the climate and country upon
which they happen, by the accident of their birth, than they pretend
to be.


Home sympathies and charities are most active in the winter.  Coming
in from my late walk,--in fact driven in by a hurrying north wind
that would brook no delay,--a wind that brought snow that did not
seem to fall out of a bounteous sky, but to be blown from polar
fields,--I find the Mistress returned from town, all in a glow of
philanthropic excitement.

There has been a meeting of a woman's association for Ameliorating
the Condition of somebody here at home.  Any one can belong to it by
paying a dollar, and for twenty dollars one can become a life
Ameliorator,--a sort of life assurance.  The Mistress, at the
meeting, I believe, "seconded the motion" several times, and is one
of the Vice-Presidents; and this family honor makes me feel almost as
if I were a president of something myself.  These little distinctions
are among the sweetest things in life, and to see one's name
officially printed stimulates his charity, and is almost as
satisfactory as being the chairman of a committee or the mover of a
resolution.  It is, I think, fortunate, and not at all discreditable,
that our little vanity, which is reckoned among our weaknesses, is
thus made to contribute to the activity of our nobler powers.
Whatever we may say, we all of us like distinction; and probably
there is no more subtle flattery than that conveyed in the whisper,
"That's he," "That's she."

There used to be a society for ameliorating the condition of the
Jews; but they were found to be so much more adept than other people
in ameliorating their own condition that I suppose it was given up.
Mandeville says that to his knowledge there are a great many people
who get up ameliorating enterprises merely to be conspicuously busy
in society, or to earn a little something in a good cause.  They seem
to think that the world owes them a living because they are
philanthropists.  In this Mandeville does not speak with his usual
charity.  It is evident that there are Jews, and some Gentiles, whose
condition needs ameliorating, and if very little is really
accomplished in the effort for them, it always remains true that the
charitable reap a benefit to themselves.  It is one of the beautiful
compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help
another without helping himself

OUR NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR.  Why is it that almost all philanthropists
and reformers are disagreeable?

I ought to explain who our next-door neighbor is.  He is the person
who comes in without knocking, drops in in the most natural way, as
his wife does also, and not seldom in time to take the after-dinner
cup of tea before the fire.  Formal society begins as soon as you
lock your doors, and only admit visitors through the media of bells
and servants.  It is lucky for us that our next-door neighbor is

THE PARSON.  Why do you class reformers and philanthropists together?
Those usually called reformers are not philanthropists at all.  They
are agitators.  Finding the world disagreeable to themselves, they
wish to make it as unpleasant to others as possible.

MANDEVILLE.  That's a noble view of your fellow-men.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  Well, granting the distinction, why are both apt to
be unpleasant people to live with?

THE PARSON.  As if the unpleasant people who won't mind their own
business were confined to the classes you mention!  Some of the best
people I know are philanthropists,--I mean the genuine ones, and not
the uneasy busybodies seeking notoriety as a means of living.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  It is not altogether the not minding their own
business.  Nobody does that.  The usual explanation is, that people
with one idea are tedious.  But that is not all of it.  For few
persons have more than one idea,--ministers, doctors, lawyers,
teachers, manufacturers, merchants,--they all think the world they
live in is the central one.

MANDEVILLE.  And you might add authors.  To them nearly all the life
of the world is in letters, and I suppose they would be astonished if
they knew how little the thoughts of the majority of people are
occupied with books, and with all that vast thought circulation which
is the vital current of the world to book-men.  Newspapers have
reached their present power by becoming unliterary, and reflecting
all the interests of the world.

THE MISTRESS.  I have noticed one thing, that the most popular
persons in society are those who take the world as it is, find the
least fault, and have no hobbies.  They are always wanted to dinner.

THE YOUNG LADY.  And the other kind always appear to me to want a

THE FIRE-TENDER.  It seems to me that the real reason why reformers
and some philanthropists are unpopular is, that they disturb our
serenity and make us conscious of our own shortcomings.  It is only
now and then that a whole people get a spasm of reformatory fervor,
of investigation and regeneration.  At other times they rather hate
those who disturb their quiet.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  Professional reformers and philanthropists are
insufferably conceited and intolerant.

THE MISTRESS.  Everything depends upon the spirit in which a reform
or a scheme of philanthropy is conducted.

MANDEVILLE.  I attended a protracted convention of reformers of a
certain evil, once, and had the pleasure of taking dinner with a
tableful of them.  It was one of those country dinners accompanied
with green tea.  Every one disagreed with every one else, and you
would n't wonder at it, if you had seen them.  They were people with
whom good food wouldn't agree.  George Thompson was expected at the
convention, and I remember that there was almost a cordiality in the
talk about him, until one sallow brother casually mentioned that
George took snuff,--when a chorus of deprecatory groans went up from
the table.  One long-faced maiden in spectacles, with purple ribbons
in her hair, who drank five cups of tea by my count, declared that
she was perfectly disgusted, and did n't want to hear him speak.  In
the course of the meal the talk ran upon the discipline of children,
and how to administer punishment.  I was quite taken by the remark of
a thin, dyspeptic man who summed up the matter by growling out in a
harsh, deep bass voice, "Punish 'em in love!" It sounded as if he had
said, "Shoot 'em on the spot!"

THE PARSON.  I supposed you would say that he was a minister.  There
is another thing about those people.  I think they are working
against the course of nature.  Nature is entirely indifferent to any
reform.  She perpetuates a fault as persistently as a virtue.
There's a split in my thumb-nail that has been scrupulously continued
for many years, not withstanding all my efforts to make the nail
resume its old regularity.  You see the same thing in trees whose
bark is cut, and in melons that have had only one summer's intimacy
with squashes.  The bad traits in character are passed down from
generation to generation with as much care as the good ones.  Nature,
unaided, never reforms anything.

MANDEVILLE.  Is that the essence of Calvinism?

THE PARSON.  Calvinism has n't any essence, it's a fact.

MANDEVILLE.  When I was a boy, I always associated Calvinism and
calomel together.  I thought that homeopathy--similia, etc.--had done
away with both of them.

OUR NEXT DOOR (rising).  If you are going into theology, I'm off..


I fear we are not getting on much with the joyousness of winter.  In
order to be exhilarating it must be real winter.  I have noticed that
the lower the thermometer sinks the more fiercely the north wind
rages, and the deeper the snow is, the higher rise the spirits of the
community.  The activity of the "elements" has a great effect upon
country folk especially; and it is a more wholesome excitement than
that caused by a great conflagration.  The abatement of a snow-storm
that grows to exceptional magnitude is regretted, for there is always
the half-hope that this will be, since it has gone so far, the
largest fall of snow ever known in the region, burying out of sight
the great fall of 1808, the account of which is circumstantially and
aggravatingly thrown in our way annually upon the least provocation.
We all know how it reads: "Some said it began at daylight, others
that it set in after sunrise; but all agree that by eight o'clock
Friday morning it was snowing in heavy masses that darkened the air."

The morning after we settled the five--or is it seven?--points of
Calvinism, there began a very hopeful snow-storm, one of those
wide-sweeping, careering storms that may not much affect the city,
but which strongly impress the country imagination with a sense of
the personal qualities of the weather,--power, persistency,
fierceness, and roaring exultation.  Out-doors was terrible to those
who looked out of windows, and heard the raging wind, and saw the
commotion in all the high tree-tops and the writhing of the low
evergreens, and could not summon resolution to go forth and breast
and conquer the bluster.  The sky was dark with snow, which was not
permitted to fall peacefully like a blessed mantle, as it sometimes
does, but was blown and rent and tossed like the split canvas of a
ship in a gale.  The world was taken possession of by the demons of
the air, who had their will of it.  There is a sort of fascination in
such a scene, equal to that of a tempest at sea, and without its
attendant haunting sense of peril; there is no fear that the house
will founder or dash against your neighbor's cottage, which is dimly
seen anchored across the field; at every thundering onset there is no
fear that the cook's galley will upset, or the screw break loose and
smash through the side, and we are not in momently expectation of the
tinkling of the little bell to "stop her."  The snow rises in
drifting waves, and the naked trees bend like strained masts; but so
long as the window-blinds remain fast, and the chimney-tops do not
go, we preserve an equal mind.  Nothing more serious can happen than
the failure of the butcher's and the grocer's carts, unless, indeed,
the little news-carrier should fail to board us with the world's
daily bulletin, or our next-door neighbor should be deterred from
coming to sit by the blazing, excited fire, and interchange the
trifling, harmless gossip of the day.  The feeling of seclusion on
such a day is sweet, but the true friend who does brave the storm and
come is welcomed with a sort of enthusiasm that his arrival in
pleasant weather would never excite.  The snow-bound in their Arctic
hulk are glad to see even a wandering Esquimau.

On such a day I recall the great snow-storms on the northern New
England hills, which lasted for a week with no cessation, with no
sunrise or sunset, and no observation at noon; and the sky all the
while dark with the driving snow, and the whole world full of the
noise of the rioting Boreal forces; until the roads were obliterated,
the fences covered, and the snow was piled solidly above the first-
story windows of the farmhouse on one side, and drifted before the
front door so high that egress could only be had by tunneling the

After such a battle and siege, when the wind fell and the sun
struggled out again, the pallid world lay subdued and tranquil, and
the scattered dwellings were not unlike wrecks stranded by the
tempest and half buried in sand.  But when the blue sky again bent
over all, the wide expanse of snow sparkled like diamond-fields, and
the chimney signal-smokes could be seen, how beautiful was the
picture!  Then began the stir abroad, and the efforts to open up
communication through roads, or fields, or wherever paths could be
broken, and the ways to the meeting-house first of all.  Then from
every house and hamlet the men turned out with shovels, with the
patient, lumbering oxen yoked to the sleds, to break the roads,
driving into the deepest drifts, shoveling and shouting as if the
severe labor were a holiday frolic, the courage and the hilarity
rising with the difficulties encountered; and relief parties, meeting
at length in the midst of the wide white desolation, hailed each
other as chance explorers in new lands, and made the whole
country-side ring with the noise of their congratulations.  There was
as much excitement and healthy stirring of the blood in it as in the
Fourth of July, and perhaps as much patriotism.  The boy saw it in
dumb show from the distant, low farmhouse window, and wished he were
a man.  At night there were great stories of achievement told by the
cavernous fireplace; great latitude was permitted in the estimation
of the size of particular drifts, but never any agreement was reached
as to the "depth on a level."  I have observed since that people are
quite as apt to agree upon the marvelous and the exceptional as upon
simple facts.


By the firelight and the twilight, the Young Lady is finishing a
letter to Herbert,--writing it, literally, on her knees, transforming
thus the simple deed into an act of devotion.  Mandeville says that
it is bad for her eyes, but the sight of it is worse for his eyes.
He begins to doubt the wisdom of reliance upon that worn apothegm
about absence conquering love.

Memory has the singular characteristic of recalling in a friend
absent, as in a journey long past, only that which is agreeable.
Mandeville begins to wish he were in New South Wales.

I did intend to insert here a letter of Herbert's to the Young Lady,
--obtained, I need not say, honorably, as private letters which get
into print always are,--not to gratify a vulgar curiosity, but

to show how the most unsentimental and cynical people are affected by
the master passion.  But I cannot bring myself to do it.  Even in the
interests of science one has no right to make an autopsy of two
loving hearts, especially when they are suffering under a late attack
of the one agreeable epidemic.

All the world loves a lover, but it laughs at him none the less in
his extravagances.  He loses his accustomed reticence; he has
something of the martyr's willingness for publicity; he would even
like to show the sincerity of his devotion by some piece of open
heroism.  Why should he conceal a discovery which has transformed the
world to him, a secret which explains all the mysteries of nature and
human-ity?  He is in that ecstasy of mind which prompts those who
were never orators before to rise in an experience-meeting and pour
out a flood of feeling in the tritest language and the most
conventional terms.  I am not sure that Herbert, while in this glow,
would be ashamed of his letter in print, but this is one of the cases
where chancery would step in and protect one from himself by his next
friend.  This is really a delicate matter, and perhaps it is brutal
to allude to it at all.

In truth, the letter would hardly be interesting in print.  Love has
a marvelous power of vivifying language and charging the simplest
words with the most tender meaning, of restoring to them the power
they had when first coined.  They are words of fire to those two who
know their secret, but not to others.  It is generally admitted that
the best love-letters would not make very good literature.
"Dearest," begins Herbert, in a burst of originality, felicitously
selecting a word whose exclusiveness shuts out all the world but one,
and which is a whole letter, poem, confession, and creed in one
breath.  What a weight of meaning it has to carry!  There may be
beauty and wit and grace and naturalness and even the splendor of
fortune elsewhere, but there is one woman in the world whose sweet
presence would be compensation for the loss of all else.  It is not
to be reasoned about; he wants that one; it is her plume dancing down
the sunny street that sets his heart beating; he knows her form among
a thousand, and follows her; he longs to run after her carriage,
which the cruel coachman whirls out of his sight.  It is marvelous to
him that all the world does not want her too, and he is in a panic
when he thinks of it.  And what exquisite flattery is in that little
word addressed to her, and with what sweet and meek triumph she
repeats it to herself, with a feeling that is not altogether pity for
those who still stand and wait.  To be chosen out of all the
available world--it is almost as much bliss as it is to choose.  "All
that long, long stage-ride from Blim's to Portage I thought of you
every moment, and wondered what you were doing and how you were
looking just that moment, and I found the occupation so charming that
I was almost sorry when the journey was ended."  Not much in that!
But I have no doubt the Young Lady read it over and over, and dwelt
also upon every moment, and found in it new proof of unshaken
constancy, and had in that and the like things in the letter a sense
of the sweetest communion.  There is nothing in this letter that we
need dwell on it, but I am convinced that the mail does not carry any
other letters so valuable as this sort.

I suppose that the appearance of Herbert in this new light
unconsciously gave tone a little to the evening's talk; not that
anybody mentioned him, but Mandeville was evidently generalizing from
the qualities that make one person admired by another to those that
win the love of mankind.

MANDEVILLE.  There seems to be something in some persons that wins
them liking, special or general, independent almost of what they do
or say.

THE MISTRESS.  Why, everybody is liked by some one.

MANDEVILLE.  I'm not sure of that.  There are those who are
friendless, and would be if they had endless acquaintances.  But, to
take the case away from ordinary examples, in which habit and a
thousand circumstances influence liking, what is it that determines
the world upon a personal regard for authors whom it has never seen?

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Probably it is the spirit shown in their writings.

THE MISTRESS.  More likely it is a sort of tradition; I don't believe
that the world has a feeling of personal regard for any author who
was not loved by those who knew him most intimately.

THE FIRE-TENDFR.  Which comes to the same thing.  The qualities, the
spirit, that got him the love of his acquaintances he put into his

MANDEVILLE.  That does n't seem to me sufficient.  Shakespeare has
put everything into his plays and poems, swept the whole range of
human sympathies and passions, and at times is inspired by the
sweetest spirit that ever man had.

THE YOUNG LADY.  No one has better interpreted love.

MANDEVILLE.  Yet I apprehend that no person living has any personal
regard for Shakespeare, or that his personality affects many,--except
they stand in Stratford church and feel a sort of awe at the thought
that the bones of the greatest poet are so near them.

THE PARSON.  I don't think the world cares personally for any mere
man or woman dead for centuries.

MANDEVILLE.  But there is a difference.  I think there is still
rather a warm feeling for Socrates the man, independent of what he
said, which is little known.  Homer's works are certainly better
known, but no one cares personally for Homer any more than for any
other shade.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  Why not go back to Moses?  We've got the evening
before us for digging up people.

MANDEVILLE.  Moses is a very good illustration.  No name of antiquity
is better known, and yet I fancy he does not awaken the same kind of
popular liking that Socrates does.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  Fudge!  You just get up in any lecture assembly and
propose three cheers for Socrates, and see where you'll be.
Mandeville ought to be a missionary, and read Robert Browning to the

THE FIRE-TENDER.  How do you account for the alleged personal regard
for Socrates?

THE PARSON.  Because the world called Christian is still more than
half heathen.

MANDEVILLE.  He was a plain man; his sympathies were with the people;
he had what is roughly known as "horse-sense," and he was homely.
Franklin and Abraham Lincoln belong to his class.  They were all
philosophers of the shrewd sort, and they all had humor.  It was
fortunate for Lincoln that, with his other qualities, he was homely.
That was the last touching recommendation to the popular heart.

THE MISTRESS.  Do you remember that ugly brown-stone statue of St.
Antonio by the bridge in Sorrento?  He must have been a coarse saint,
patron of pigs as he was, but I don't know any one anywhere, or the
homely stone image of one, so loved by the people.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  Ugliness being trump, I wonder more people don't win.
Mandeville, why don't you get up a "centenary" of Socrates, and put
up his statue in the Central Park?  It would make that one of Lincoln
in Union Square look beautiful.

THE PARSON.  Oh, you'll see that some day, when they have a museum
there illustrating the "Science of Religion."

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Doubtless, to go back to what we were talking of,
the world has a fondness for some authors, and thinks of them with an
affectionate and half-pitying familiarity; and it may be that this
grows out of something in their lives quite as much as anything in
their writings.  There seems to be more disposition of personal
liking to Thackeray than to Dickens, now both are dead,--a result
that would hardly have been predicted when the world was crying over
Little Nell, or agreeing to hate Becky Sharp.

THE YOUNG LADY.  What was that you were telling about Charles Lamb,
the other day, Mandeville?  Is not the popular liking for him
somewhat independent of his writings?

MANDEVILLE.  He is a striking example of an author who is loved.
Very likely the remembrance of his tribulations has still something
to do with the tenderness felt for him.  He supported no dignity and
permitted a familiarity which indicated no self-appreciation of his
real rank in the world of letters.  I have heard that his
acquaintances familiarly called him "Charley."

OUR NEXT DOOR.  It's a relief to know that!  Do you happen to know
what Socrates was called?

MANDEVILLE.  I have seen people who knew Lamb very well.  One of them
told me, as illustrating his want of dignity, that as he was going
home late one night through the nearly empty streets, he was met by a
roystering party who were making a night of it from tavern to tavern.
They fell upon Lamb, attracted by his odd figure and hesitating
manner, and, hoisting him on their shoulders, carried him off,
singing as they went.  Lamb enjoyed the lark, and did not tell them
who he was.  When they were tired of lugging him, they lifted him,
with much effort and difficulty, to the top of a high wall, and left
him there amid the broken bottles, utterly unable to get down.  Lamb
remained there philosophically in the enjoyment of his novel
adventure, until a passing watchman rescued him from his ridiculous

THE FIRE-TENDER.  How did the story get out?

MANDEVILLE.  Oh, Lamb told all about it next morning; and when asked
afterwards why he did so, he replied that there was no fun in it
unless he told it.



The King sat in the winter-house in the ninth month, and there was a
fire on the hearth burning before him .  .  .  .  When Jehudi had
read three or four leaves he cut it with the penknife.

That seems to be a pleasant and home-like picture from a not very
remote period,--less than twenty-five hundred years ago, and many
centuries after the fall of Troy.  And that was not so very long ago,
for Thebes, in the splendid streets of which Homer wandered and sang
to the kings when Memphis, whose ruins are older than history, was
its younger rival, was twelve centuries old when Paris ran away with

I am sorry that the original--and you can usually do anything with
the "original"--does not bear me out in saying that it was a pleasant
picture.  I should like to believe that Jehoiakiin--for that was the
singular name of the gentleman who sat by his hearthstone--had just
received the Memphis "Palimpsest," fifteen days in advance of the
date of its publication, and that his secretary was reading to him
that monthly, and cutting its leaves as he read.  I should like to
have seen it in that year when Thales was learning astronomy in
Memphis, and Necho was organizing his campaign against Carchemish.
If Jehoiakim took the "Attic Quarterly," he might have read its
comments on the banishment of the Alcmaeonida:, and its gibes at
Solon for his prohibitory laws, forbidding the sale of unguents,
limiting the luxury of dress, and interfering with the sacred rights
of mourners to passionately bewail the dead in the Asiatic manner;
the same number being enriched with contributions from two rising
poets,--a lyric of love by Sappho, and an ode sent by Anacreon from
Teos, with an editorial note explaining that the Maces was not
responsible for the sentiments of the poem.

But, in fact, the gentleman who sat before the backlog in his
winter-house had other things to think of.  For Nebuchadnezzar was
coming that way with the chariots and horses of Babylon and a great
crowd of marauders; and the king had not even the poor choice whether
he would be the vassal of the Chaldean or of the Egyptian.  To us,
this is only a ghostly show of monarchs and conquerors stalking
across vast historic spaces.  It was no doubt a vulgar enough scene
of war and plunder.  The great captains of that age went about to
harry each other's territories and spoil each other's cities very
much as we do nowadays, and for similar reasons;--Napoleon the Great
in Moscow, Napoleon the Small in Italy, Kaiser William in Paris,
Great Scott in Mexico!  Men have not changed much.

--The Fire-Tender sat in his winter-garden in the third month; there
was a fire on the hearth burning before him.  He cut the leaves of
"Scribner's Monthly" with his penknife, and thought of Jehoiakim.

That seems as real as the other.  In the garden, which is a room of
the house, the tall callas, rooted in the ground, stand about the
fountain; the sun, streaming through the glass, illumines the
many-hued flowers.  I wonder what Jehoiakim did with the mealy-bug on
his passion-vine, and if he had any way of removing the scale-bug
from his African acacia?  One would like to know, too, how he treated
the red spider on the Le Marque rose.  The record is silent.  I do
not doubt he had all these insects in his winter-garden, and the
aphidae besides; and he could not smoke them out with tobacco, for
the world had not yet fallen into its second stage of the knowledge
of good and evil by eating the forbidden tobacco-plant.

I confess that this little picture of a fire on the hearth so many
centuries ago helps to make real and interesting to me that somewhat
misty past.  No doubt the lotus and the acanthus from the Nile grew
in that winter-house, and perhaps Jehoiakim attempted--the most
difficult thing in the world the cultivation of the wild flowers from
Lebanon.  Perhaps Jehoiakim was interested also, as I am through this
ancient fireplace,--which is a sort of domestic window into the
ancient world,--in the loves of Bernice and Abaces at the court of
the Pharaohs.  I see that it is the same thing as the sentiment--
perhaps it is the shrinking which every soul that is a soul has,
sooner or later, from isolation--which grew up between Herbert and
the Young Lady Staying With Us.  Jeremiah used to come in to that
fireside very much as the Parson does to ours.  The Parson, to be
sure, never prophesies, but he grumbles, and is the chorus in the
play that sings the everlasting ai ai of "I told you so!"  Yet we
like the Parson.  He is the sprig of bitter herb that makes the
pottage wholesome.  I should rather, ten times over, dispense with
the flatterers and the smooth-sayers than the grumblers.  But the
grumblers are of two sorts,--the healthful-toned and the whiners.
There are makers of beer who substitute for the clean bitter of the
hops some deleterious drug, and then seek to hide the fraud by some
cloying sweet.  There is nothing of this sickish drug in the Parson's
talk, nor was there in that of Jeremiah, I sometimes think there is
scarcely enough of this wholesome tonic in modern society.  The
Parson says he never would give a child sugar-coated pills.
Mandeville says he never would give them any.  After all, you cannot
help liking Mandeville.


We were talking of this late news from Jerusalem.  The Fire-Tender
was saying that it is astonishing how much is telegraphed us from the
East that is not half so interesting.  He was at a loss
philosophically to account for the fact that the world is so eager to
know the news of yesterday which is unimportant, and so indifferent
to that of the day before which is of some moment.

MANDEVILLE.  I suspect that it arises from the want of imagination.
People need to touch the facts, and nearness in time is contiguity.
It would excite no interest to bulletin the last siege of Jerusalem
in a village where the event was unknown, if the date was appended;
and yet the account of it is incomparably more exciting than that of
the siege of Metz.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  The daily news is a necessity.  I cannot get along
without my morning paper.  The other morning I took it up, and was
absorbed in the telegraphic columns for an hour nearly.  I thoroughly
enjoyed the feeling of immediate contact with all the world of
yesterday, until I read among the minor items that Patrick Donahue,
of the city of New York, died of a sunstroke.  If he had frozen to
death, I should have enjoyed that; but to die of sunstroke in
February seemed inappropriate, and I turned to the date of the paper.
When I found it was printed in July, I need not say that I lost all
interest in it, though why the trivialities and crimes and accidents,
relating to people I never knew, were not as good six months after
date as twelve hours, I cannot say.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  You know that in Concord the latest news, except a
remark or two by Thoreau or Emerson, is the Vedas.  I believe the
Rig-Veda is read at the breakfast-table instead of the Boston

THE PARSON.  I know it is read afterward instead of the Bible.

MANDEVILLE.  That is only because it is supposed to be older.  I have
understood that the Bible is very well spoken of there, but it is not
antiquated enough to be an authority.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  There was a project on foot to put it into the
circulating library, but the title New in the second part was
considered objectionable.

HERBERT.  Well, I have a good deal of sympathy with Concord as to the
news.  We are fed on a daily diet of trivial events and gossip, of
the unfruitful sayings of thoughtless men and women, until our mental
digestion is seriously impaired; the day will come when no one will
be able to sit down to a thoughtful, well-wrought book and assimilate
its contents.

THE MISTRESS.  I doubt if a daily newspaper is a necessity, in the
higher sense of the word.

THE PARSON.  Nobody supposes it is to women,--that is, if they can
see each other.

THE MISTRESS.  Don't interrupt, unless you have something to say;
though I should like to know how much gossip there is afloat that the
minister does not know.  The newspaper may be needed in society, but
how quickly it drops out of mind when one goes beyond the bounds of
what is called civilization.  You remember when we were in the depths
of the woods last summer how difficult it was to get up any interest
in the files of late papers that reached us, and how unreal all the
struggle and turmoil of the world seemed.  We stood apart, and could
estimate things at their true value.

THE YOUNG LADY.  Yes, that was real life.  I never tired of the
guide's stories; there was some interest in the intelligence that a
deer had been down to eat the lily-pads at the foot of the lake the
night before; that a bear's track was seen on the trail we crossed
that day; even Mandeville's fish-stories had a certain air of
probability; and how to roast a trout in the ashes and serve him hot
and juicy and clean, and how to cook soup and prepare coffee and heat
dish-water in one tin-pail, were vital problems.

THE PARSON.  You would have had no such problems at home.  Why will
people go so far to put themselves to such inconvenience?  I hate the
woods.  Isolation breeds conceit; there are no people so conceited as
those who dwell in remote wildernesses and live mostly alone.

THE YOUNG LADY.  For my part, I feel humble in the presence of
mountains, and in the vast stretches of the wilderness.

THE PARSON.  I'll be bound a woman would feel just as nobody would
expect her to feel, under given circumstances.

MANDEVILLE.  I think the reason why the newspaper and the world it
carries take no hold of us in the wilderness is that we become a kind
of vegetable ourselves when we go there.  I have often attempted to
improve my mind in the woods with good solid books.  You might as
well offer a bunch of celery to an oyster.  The mind goes to sleep:
the senses and the instincts wake up.  The best I can do when it
rains, or the trout won't bite, is to read Dumas's novels.  Their
ingenuity will almost keep a man awake after supper, by the
camp-fire.  And there is a kind of unity about them that I like; the
history is as good as the morality.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  I always wondered where Mandeville got his historical

THE MISTRESS.  Mandeville misrepresents himself in the woods.  I
heard him one night repeat "The Vision of Sir Launfal"--(THE
FIRE-TENDER.  Which comes very near being our best poem.)--as we were
crossing the lake, and the guides became so absorbed in it that they
forgot to paddle, and sat listening with open mouths, as if it had
been a panther story.

THE PARSON.  Mandeville likes to show off well enough.  I heard that
he related to a woods' boy up there the whole of the Siege of Troy.
The boy was very much interested, and said "there'd been a man up
there that spring from Troy, looking up timber."  Mandeville always
carries the news when he goes into the country.

MANDEVILLE.  I'm going to take the Parson's sermon on Jonah next
summer; it's the nearest to anything like news we've had from his
pulpit in ten years.  But, seriously, the boy was very well informed.
He'd heard of Albany; his father took in the "Weekly Tribune," and he
had a partial conception of Horace Greeley.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  I never went so far out of the world in America yet
that the name of Horace Greeley did n't rise up before me.  One of
the first questions asked by any camp-fire is, "Did ye ever see

HERBERT.  Which shows the power of the press again.  But I have often
remarked how little real conception of the moving world, as it is,
people in remote regions get from the newspaper.  It needs to be read
in the midst of events.  A chip cast ashore in a refluent eddy tells
no tale of the force and swiftness of the current.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  I don't exactly get the drift of that last remark;
but I rather like a remark that I can't understand; like the
landlady's indigestible bread, it stays by you.

HERBERT.  I see that I must talk in words of one syllable.  The
newspaper has little effect upon the remote country mind, because the
remote country mind is interested in a very limited number of things.
Besides, as the Parson says, it is conceited.  The most accomplished
scholar will be the butt of all the guides in the woods, because he
cannot follow a trail that would puzzle a sable (saple the trappers
call it).

THE PARSON.  It's enough to read the summer letters that people write
to the newspapers from the country and the woods.  Isolated from the
activity of the world, they come to think that the little adventures
of their stupid days and nights are important.  Talk about that being
real life!  Compare the letters such people write with the other
contents of the newspaper, and you will see which life is real.
That's one reason I hate to have summer come, the country letters set

THE MISTRESS.  I should like to see something the Parson does n't
hate to have come.

MANDEVILLE.  Except his quarter's salary; and the meeting of the
American Board.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  I don't see that we are getting any nearer the
solution of the original question.  The world is evidently interested
in events simply because they are recent.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  I have a theory that a newspaper might be published
at little cost, merely by reprinting the numbers of years before,
only altering the dates; just as the Parson preaches over his

THE FIRE-TENDER.  It's evident we must have a higher order of
news-gatherers.  It has come to this, that the newspaper furnishes
thought-material for all the world, actually prescribes from day to
day the themes the world shall think on and talk about.  The
occupation of news-gathering becomes, therefore, the most important.
When you think of it, it is astonishing that this department should
not be in the hands of the ablest men, accomplished scholars,
philosophical observers, discriminating selectors of the news of the
world that is worth thinking over and talking about.  The editorial
comments frequently are able enough, but is it worth while keeping an
expensive mill going to grind chaff?  I sometimes wonder, as I open
my morning paper, if nothing did happen in the twenty-four hours
except crimes, accidents, defalcations, deaths of unknown loafers,
robberies, monstrous births,--say about the level of police-court

OUR NEXT DOOR.  I have even noticed that murders have deteriorated;
they are not so high-toned and mysterious as they used to be.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  It is true that the newspapers have improved vastly
within the last decade.

HERBERT.  I think, for one, that they are very much above the level
of the ordinary gossip of the country.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  But I am tired of having the under-world still
occupy so much room in the newspapers.  The reporters are rather more
alert for a dog-fight than a philological convention.  It must be
that the good deeds of the world outnumber the bad in any given day;
and what a good reflex action it would have on society if they could
be more fully reported than the bad!  I suppose the Parson would call
this the Enthusiasm of Humanity.

THE PARSON.  You'll see how far you can lift yourself up by your

HERBERT.  I wonder what influence on the quality (I say nothing of
quantity) of news the coming of women into the reporter's and
editor's work will have.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  There are the baby-shows; they make cheerful reading.

THE MISTRESS.  All of them got up by speculating men, who impose upon
the vanity of weak women.

HERBERT.  I think women reporters are more given to personal details
and gossip than the men.  When I read the Washington correspondence I
am proud of my country, to see how many Apollo Belvederes, Adonises,
how much marble brow and piercing eye and hyacinthine locks, we have
in the two houses of Congress.

THE YOUNG LADY.  That's simply because women understand the personal
weakness of men; they have a long score of personal flattery to pay
off too.

MANDEVILLE.  I think women will bring in elements of brightness,
picturesqueness, and purity very much needed.  Women have a power of
investing simple ordinary things with a charm; men are bungling
narrators compared with them.

THE PARSON.  The mistake they make is in trying to write, and
especially to "stump-speak," like men; next to an effeminate man
there is nothing so disagreeable as a mannish woman.

HERBERT.  I heard one once address a legislative committee.  The
knowing air, the familiar, jocular, smart manner, the nodding and
winking innuendoes, supposed to be those of a man "up to snuff," and
au fait in political wiles, were inexpressibly comical.  And yet the
exhibition was pathetic, for it had the suggestive vulgarity of a
woman in man's clothes.  The imitation is always a dreary failure.

THE MISTRESS.  Such women are the rare exceptions.  I am ready to
defend my sex; but I won't attempt to defend both sexes in one.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  I have great hope that women will bring into the
newspaper an elevating influence; the common and sweet life of
society is much better fitted to entertain and instruct us than the
exceptional and extravagant.  I confess (saving the Mistress's
presence) that the evening talk over the dessert at dinner is much
more entertaining and piquant than the morning paper, and often as

THE MISTRESS.  I think the subject had better be changed.

MANDEVILLE.  The person, not the subject.  There is no entertainment
so full of quiet pleasure as the hearing a lady of cultivation and
refinement relate her day's experience in her daily rounds of calls,
charitable visits, shopping, errands of relief and condolence.  The
evening budget is better than the finance minister's.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  That's even so.  My wife will pick up more news in
six hours than I can get in a week, and I'm fond of news.

MANDEVILLE.  I don't mean gossip, by any means, or scandal.  A woman
of culture skims over that like a bird, never touching it with the
tip of a wing.  What she brings home is the freshness and brightness
of life.  She touches everything so daintily, she hits off a
character in a sentence, she gives the pith of a dialogue without
tediousness, she mimics without vulgarity; her narration sparkles,
but it does n't sting.  The picture of her day is full of vivacity,
and it gives new value and freshness to common things.  If we could
only have on the stage such actresses as we have in the drawing-room!

THE FIRE-TENDER.  We want something more of this grace,
sprightliness, and harmless play of the finer life of society in the

OUR NEXT DOOR.  I wonder Mandeville does n't marry, and become a
permanent subscriber to his embodied idea of a newspaper.

THE YOUNG LADY.  Perhaps he does not relish the idea of being unable
to stop his subscription.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  Parson, won't you please punch that fire, and give us
more blaze?  we are getting into the darkness of socialism.


Herbert returned to us in March.  The Young Lady was spending the
winter with us, and March, in spite of the calendar, turned out to be
a winter month.  It usually is in New England, and April too, for
that matter.  And I cannot say it is unfortunate for us.  There are
so many topics to be turned over and settled at our fireside that a
winter of ordinary length would make little impression on the list.
The fireside is, after all, a sort of private court of chancery,
where nothing ever does come to a final decision.  The chief effect
of talk on any subject is to strengthen one's own opinions, and, in
fact, one never knows exactly what he does believe until he is warmed
into conviction by the heat of attack and defence.  A man left to
himself drifts about like a boat on a calm lake; it is only when the
wind blows that the boat goes anywhere.

Herbert said he had been dipping into the recent novels written by
women, here and there, with a view to noting the effect upon
literature of this sudden and rather overwhelming accession to it.
There was a good deal of talk about it evening after evening, off and
on, and I can only undertake to set down fragments of it.

HERBERT.  I should say that the distinguishing feature of the
literature of this day is the prominence women have in its
production.  They figure in most of the magazines, though very rarely
in the scholarly and critical reviews, and in thousands of
newspapers; to them we are indebted for the oceans of Sunday-school
books, and they write the majority of the novels, the serial stories,
and they mainly pour out the watery flood of tales in the weekly
papers.  Whether this is to result in more good than evil it is
impossible yet to say, and perhaps it would be unjust to say, until
this generation has worked off its froth, and women settle down to
artistic, conscien-tious labor in literature.

THE MISTRESS.  You don't mean to say that George Eliot, and Mrs.
Gaskell, and George Sand, and Mrs. Browning, before her marriage and
severe attack of spiritism, are less true to art than contemporary
men novelists and poets.

HERBERT.  You name some exceptions that show the bright side of the
picture, not only for the present, but for the future.  Perhaps
genius has no sex; but ordinary talent has.  I refer to the great
body of novels, which you would know by internal evidence were
written by women.  They are of two sorts: the domestic story,
entirely unidealized, and as flavorless as water-gruel; and the
spiced novel, generally immoral in tendency, in which the social
problems are handled, unhappy marriages, affinity and passional
attraction, bigamy, and the violation of the seventh commandment.
These subjects are treated in the rawest manner, without any settled
ethics, with little discrimination of eternal right and wrong, and
with very little sense of responsibility for what is set forth.  Many
of these novels are merely the blind outbursts of a nature impatient
of restraint and the conventionalities of society, and are as chaotic
as the untrained minds that produce them.

MANDEVILLE.  Don't you think these novels fairly represent a social
condition of unrest and upheaval?

HERBERT.  Very likely; and they help to create and spread abroad the
discontent they describe.  Stories of bigamy (sometimes disguised by
divorce), of unhappy marriages, where the injured wife, through an
entire volume, is on the brink of falling into the arms of a sneaking
lover, until death kindly removes the obstacle, and the two souls,
who were born for each other, but got separated in the cradle, melt
and mingle into one in the last chapter, are not healthful reading
for maids or mothers.


THE FIRE-TENDER.  The most disagreeable object to me in modern
literature is the man the women novelists have introduced as the
leading character; the women who come in contact with him seem to be
fascinated by his disdainful mien, his giant strength, and his brutal
manner.  He is broad across the shoulders, heavily moulded, yet as
lithe as a cat; has an ugly scar across his right cheek; has been in
the four quarters of the globe; knows seventeen languages; had a
harem in Turkey and a Fayaway in the Marquesas; can be as polished as
Bayard in the drawing-room, but is as gloomy as Conrad in the
library; has a terrible eye and a withering glance, but can be
instantly subdued by a woman's hand, if it is not his wife's; and
through all his morose and vicious career has carried a heart as pure
as a violet.

THE MISTRESS.  Don't you think the Count of Monte Cristo is the elder
brother of Rochester?

THE FIRE-TENDER.  One is a mere hero of romance; the other is meant
for a real man.

MANDEVILLE.  I don't see that the men novel-writers are better than
the women.

HERBERT.  That's not the question; but what are women who write so
large a proportion of the current stories bringing into literature?
Aside from the question of morals, and the absolutely demoralizing
manner of treating social questions, most of their stories are vapid
and weak beyond expression, and are slovenly in composition, showing
neither study, training, nor mental discipline.

THE MISTRESS.  Considering that women have been shut out from the
training of the universities, and have few opportunities for the wide
observation that men enjoy, isn't it pretty well that the foremost
living writers of fiction are women?

HERBERT.  You can say that for the moment, since Thackeray and
Dickens have just died.  But it does not affect the general estimate.
We are inundated with a flood of weak writing.  Take the Sunday-
school literature, largely the product of women; it has n't as much
character as a dried apple pie.  I don't know what we are coming to
if the presses keep on running.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  We are living, we are dwelling, in a grand and awful
time; I'm glad I don't write novels.


OUR NEXT DOOR.  I tried a Sunday-school book once; but I made the
good boy end in the poorhouse, and the bad boy go to Congress; and
the publisher said it wouldn't do, the public wouldn't stand that
sort of thing.  Nobody but the good go to Congress.

THE MISTRESS.  Herbert, what do you think women are good for?

OUR NEXT DOOR.  That's a poser.

HERBERT.  Well, I think they are in a tentative state as to
literature, and we cannot yet tell what they will do.  Some of our
most brilliant books of travel, correspondence, and writing on topics
in which their sympathies have warmly interested them, are by women.
Some of them are also strong writers in the daily journals.

MANDEVILLE.  I 'm not sure there's anything a woman cannot do as well
as a man, if she sets her heart on it.

THE PARSON.  That's because she's no conscience.

CHORUS.  O Parson!

THE PARSON.  Well, it does n't trouble her, if she wants to do
anything.  She looks at the end, not the means.  A woman, set on
anything, will walk right through the moral crockery without wincing.
She'd be a great deal more unscrupulous in politics than the average
man.  Did you ever see a female lobbyist?  Or a criminal?  It is Lady
Macbeth who does not falter.  Don't raise your hands at me!  The
sweetest angel or the coolest devil is a woman.  I see in some of the
modern novels we have been talking of the same unscrupulous daring, a
blindness to moral distinctions, a constant exaltation of a passion
into a virtue, an entire disregard of the immutable laws on which the
family and society rest.  And you ask lawyers and trustees how
scrupulous women are in business transactions!

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Women are often ignorant of affairs, and, besides,
they may have a notion often that a woman ought to be privileged more
than a man in business matters; but I tell you, as a rule, that if
men would consult their wives, they would go a deal straighter in
business operations than they do go.

THE PARSON.  We are all poor sinners.  But I've another indictment
against the women writers.  We get no good old-fashioned love-stories
from them.  It's either a quarrel of discordant natures one a
panther, and the other a polar bear--for courtship, until one of them
is crippled by a railway accident; or a long wrangle of married life
between two unpleasant people, who can neither live comfortably
together nor apart.  I suppose, by what I see, that sweet wooing,
with all its torturing and delightful uncertainty, still goes on in
the world; and I have no doubt that the majority of married people
live more happily than the unmarried.  But it's easier to find a dodo
than a new and good love-story.

MANDEVILLE.  I suppose the old style of plot is exhausted.
Everything in man and outside of him has been turned over so often
that I should think the novelists would cease simply from want of

THE PARSON.  Plots are no more exhausted than men are.  Every man is
a new creation, and combinations are simply endless.  Even if we did
not have new material in the daily change of society, and there were
only a fixed number of incidents and characters in life, invention
could not be exhausted on them.  I amuse myself sometimes with my
kaleidoscope, but I can never reproduce a figure.  No, no.  I cannot
say that you may not exhaust everything else: we may get all the
secrets of a nature into a book by and by, but the novel is immortal,
for it deals with men.

The Parson's vehemence came very near carrying him into a sermon; and
as nobody has the privilege of replying to his sermons, so none of
the circle made any reply now.

Our Next Door mumbled something about his hair standing on end, to
hear a minister defending the novel; but it did not interrupt the
general silence.  Silence is unnoticed when people sit before a fire;
it would be intolerable if they sat and looked at each other.

The wind had risen during the evening, and Mandeville remarked, as
they rose to go, that it had a spring sound in it, but it was as cold
as winter.  The Mistress said she heard a bird that morning singing
in the sun a spring song, it was a winter bird, but it sang


We have been much interested in what is called the Gothic revival.
We have spent I don't know how many evenings in looking over
Herbert's plans for a cottage, and have been amused with his vain
efforts to cover with Gothic roofs the vast number of large rooms
which the Young Lady draws in her sketch of a small house.

I have no doubt that the Gothic, which is capable of infinite
modification, so that every house built in that style may be as
different from every other house as one tree is from every other, can
be adapted to our modern uses, and will be, when artists catch its
spirit instead of merely copying its old forms.  But just now we are
taking the Gothic very literally, as we took the Greek at one time,
or as we should probably have taken the Saracenic, if the Moors had
not been colored.  Not even the cholera is so contagious in this
country as a style of architecture which we happen to catch; the
country is just now broken out all over with the Mansard-roof

And in secular architecture we do not study what is adapted to our
climate any more than in ecclesiastic architecture we adopt that
which is suited to our religion.

We are building a great many costly churches here and there, we
Protestants, and as the most of them are ill adapted to our forms of
worship, it may be necessary and best for us to change our religion
in order to save our investments.  I am aware that this would be a
grave step, and we should not hasten to throw overboard Luther and
the right of private judgment without reflection.  And yet, if it is
necessary to revive the ecclesiastical Gothic architecture, not in
its spirit (that we nowhere do), but in the form which served another
age and another faith, and if, as it appears, we have already a great
deal of money invested in this reproduction, it may be more prudent
to go forward than to go back.  The question is, "Cannot one easier
change his creed than his pew?"

I occupy a seat in church which is an admirable one for reflection,
but I cannot see or hear much that is going on in what we like to
call the apse.  There is a splendid stone pillar, a clustered column,
right in front of me, and I am as much protected from the minister as
Old Put's troops were from the British, behind the stone wall at
Bunker's Hill.  I can hear his voice occasionally wandering round in
the arches overhead, and I recognize the tone, because he is a friend
of mine and an excellent man, but what he is saying I can very seldom
make out.  If there was any incense burning, I could smell it, and
that would be something.  I rather like the smell of incense, and it
has its holy associations.  But there is no smell in our church,
except of bad air,--for there is no provision for ventilation in the
splendid and costly edifice.  The reproduction of the old Gothic is
so complete that the builders even seem to have brought over the
ancient air from one of the churches of the Middle Ages,--you would
declare it had n't been changed in two centuries.

I am expected to fix my attention during the service upon one man,
who stands in the centre of the apse and has a sounding-board behind
him in order to throw his voice out of the sacred semicircular space
(where the aitar used to stand, but now the sounding-board takes the
place of the altar) and scatter it over the congregation at large,
and send it echoing up in the groined roof I always like to hear a
minister who is unfamiliar with the house, and who has a loud voice,
try to fill the edifice.  The more he roars and gives himself with
vehemence to the effort, the more the building roars in
indistinguishable noise and hubbub.  By the time he has said (to
suppose a case), "The Lord is in his holy temple," and has passed on
to say, "let all the earth keep silence," the building is repeating
"The Lord is in his holy temple" from half a dozen different angles
and altitudes, rolling it and growling it, and is not keeping silence
at all.  A man who understands it waits until the house has had its
say, and has digested one passage, before he launches another into
the vast, echoing spaces.  I am expected, as I said, to fix my eye
and mind on the minister, the central point of the service.  But the
pillar hides him.  Now if there were several ministers in the church,
dressed in such gorgeous colors that I could see them at the distance
from the apse at which my limited income compels me to sit, and
candles were burning, and censers were swinging, and the platform was
full of the sacred bustle of a gorgeous ritual worship, and a bell
rang to tell me the holy moments, I should not mind the pillar at
all.  I should sit there, like any other Goth, and enjoy it.  But, as
I have said, the pastor is a friend of mine, and I like to look at
him on Sunday, and hear what he says, for he always says something
worth hearing.  I am on such terms with him, indeed we all are, that
it would be pleasant to have the service of a little more social
nature, and more human.  When we put him away off in the apse, and
set him up for a Goth, and then seat ourselves at a distance,
scattered about among the pillars, the whole thing seems to me a
trifle unnatural.  Though I do not mean to say that the congregations
do not "enjoy their religion " in their splendid edifices which cost
so much money and are really so beautiful.

A good many people have the idea, so it seems, that Gothic
architecture and Christianity are essentially one and the same thing.
Just as many regard it as an act of piety to work an altar cloth or
to cushion a pulpit.  It may be, and it may not be.

Our Gothic church is likely to prove to us a valuable religious
experience, bringing out many of the Christian virtues.  It may have
had its origin in pride, but it is all being overruled for our good.
Of course I need n't explain that it is the thirteenth century
ecclesiastic Gothic that is epidemic in this country; and I think it
has attacked the Congregational and the other non-ritual churches
more violently than any others.  We have had it here in its most
beautiful and dangerous forms.  I believe we are pretty much all of
us supplied with a Gothic church now.  Such has been the enthusiasm
in this devout direction, that I should not be surprised to see our
rich private citizens putting up Gothic churches for their individual
amusement and sanctification.  As the day will probably come when
every man in Hartford will live in his own mammoth, five-story
granite insurance building, it may not be unreasonable to expect that
every man will sport his own Gothic church.  It is beginning to be
discovered that the Gothic sort of church edifice is fatal to the
Congregational style of worship that has been prevalent here in New
England; but it will do nicely (as they say in Boston) for private

There isn't a finer or purer church than ours any where, inside and
outside Gothic to the last.  The elevation of the nave gives it even
that "high-shouldered" appearance which seemed more than anything
else to impress Mr. Hawthorne in the cathedral at Amiens.  I fancy
that for genuine high-shoulderness we are not exceeded by any church
in the city.  Our chapel in the rear is as Gothic as the rest of it,-
-a beautiful little edifice.  The committee forgot to make any more
provision for ventilating that than the church, and it takes a pretty
well-seasoned Christian to stay in it long at a time.  The Sunday-
school is held there, and it is thought to be best to accustom the
children to bad air before they go into the church.  The poor little
dears shouldn't have the wickedness and impurity of this world break
on them too suddenly.  If the stranger noticed any lack about our
church, it would be that of a spire.  There is a place for one;
indeed, it was begun, and then the builders seem to have stopped,
with the notion that it would grow itself from such a good root.  It
is a mistake however, to suppose that we do not know that the church
has what the profane here call a "stump-tail" appearance.  But the
profane are as ignorant of history as they are of true Gothic.  All
the Old World cathedrals were the work of centuries.  That at Milan
is scarcely finished yet; the unfinished spires of the Cologne
cathedral are one of the best-known features of it.  I doubt if it
would be in the Gothic spirit to finish a church at once.  We can
tell cavilers that we shall have a spire at the proper time, and not
a minute before.  It may depend a little upon what the Baptists do,
who are to build near us.  I, for one, think we had better wait and
see how high the Baptist spire is before we run ours up.  The church
is everything that could be desired inside.  There is the nave, with
its lofty and beautiful arched ceiling; there are the side aisles,
and two elegant rows of stone pillars, stained so as to be a perfect
imitation of stucco; there is the apse, with its stained glass and
exquisite lines; and there is an organ-loft over the front entrance,
with a rose window.  Nothing was wanting, so far as we could see,
except that we should adapt ourselves to the circumstances; and that
we have been trying to do ever since.  It may be well to relate how
we do it, for the benefit of other inchoate Goths.

It was found that if we put up the organ in the loft, it would hide
the beautiful rose window.  Besides, we wanted congregational sing-
ing, and if we hired a choir, and hung it up there under the roof,
like a cage of birds, we should not have congregational singing.  We
therefore left the organ-loft vacant, making no further use of it
than to satisfy our Gothic cravings.  As for choir,--several of the
singers of the church volunteered to sit together in the front
side-seats, and as there was no place for an organ, they gallantly
rallied round a melodeon,--or perhaps it is a cabinet organ,--a
charming instrument, and, as everybody knows, entirely in keeping
with the pillars, arches, and great spaces of a real Gothic edifice.
It is the union of simplicity with grandeur, for which we have all
been looking.  I need not say to those who have ever heard a
melodeon, that there is nothing like it.  It is rare, even in the
finest churches on the Continent.  And we had congregational singing.
And it went very well indeed.  One of the advantages of pure
congregational singing, is that you can join in the singing whether
you have a voice or not.  The disadvantage is, that your neighbor can
do the same.  It is strange what an uncommonly poor lot of voices
there is, even among good people.  But we enjoy it.  If you do not
enjoy it, you can change your seat until you get among a good lot.

So far, everything went well.  But it was next discovered that it was
difficult to hear the minister, who had a very handsome little desk
in the apse, somewhat distant from the bulk of the congregation;
still, we could most of us see him on a clear day.  The church was
admirably built for echoes, and the centre of the house was very
favorable to them.  When you sat in the centre of the house, it
sometimes seemed as if three or four ministers were speaking.

It is usually so in cathedrals; the Right Reverend So-and-So is
assisted by the very Reverend Such-and-Such, and the good deal
Reverend Thus-and-Thus, and so on.  But a good deal of the minister's
voice appeared to go up into the groined arches, and, as there was no
one up there, some of his best things were lost.  We also had a
notion that some of it went into the cavernous organ-loft.  It would
have been all right if there had been a choir there, for choirs
usually need more preaching, and pay less heed to it, than any other
part of the congregation.  Well, we drew a sort of screen over the
organ-loft; but the result was not as marked as we had hoped.  We
next devised a sounding-board,--a sort of mammoth clamshell, painted
white,--and erected it behind the minister.  It had a good effect on
the minister.  It kept him up straight to his work.  So long as he
kept his head exactly in the focus, his voice went out and did not
return to him; but if he moved either way, he was assailed by a Babel
of clamoring echoes.  There was no opportunity for him to splurge
about from side to side of the pulpit, as some do.  And if he raised
his voice much, or attempted any extra flights, he was liable to be
drowned in a refluent sea of his own eloquence.  And he could hear
the congregation as well as they could hear him.  All the coughs,
whispers, noises, were gathered in the wooden tympanum behind him,
and poured into his ears.

But the sounding-board was an improvement, and we advanced to bolder
measures; having heard a little, we wanted to hear more.  Besides,
those who sat in front began to be discontented with the melodeon.
There are depths in music which the melodeon, even when it is called
a cabinet organ, with a colored boy at the bellows, cannot sound.
The melodeon was not, originally, designed for the Gothic worship.
We determined to have an organ, and we speculated whether, by
erecting it in the apse, we could not fill up that elegant portion of
the church, and compel the preacher's voice to leave it, and go out
over the pews.  It would of course do something to efface the main
beauty of a Gothic church; but something must be done, and we began a
series of experiments to test the probable effects of putting the
organ and choir behind the minister.  We moved the desk to the very
front of the platform, and erected behind it a high, square board
screen, like a section of tight fence round the fair-grounds.  This
did help matters.  The minister spoke with more ease, and we could
hear him better.  If the screen had been intended to stay there, we
should have agitated the subject of painting it.  But this was only
an experiment.

Our next move was to shove the screen back and mount the volunteer
singers, melodeon and all, upon the platform,--some twenty of them
crowded together behind the minister.  The,effect was beautiful.  It
seemed as if we had taken care to select the finest-looking people in
the congregation,--much to the injury of the congregation, of course,
as seen from the platform.  There are few congregations that can
stand this sort of culling, though ours can endure it as well as any;
yet it devolves upon those of us who remain the responsibility of
looking as well as we can.

The experiment was a success, so far as appearances went, but when
the screen went back, the minister's voice went back with it.  We
could not hear him very well, though we could hear the choir as plain
as day.  We have thought of remedying this last defect by putting the
high screen in front of the singers, and close to the minister, as it
was before.  This would make the singers invisible,--"though lost to
sight, to memory dear,"--what is sometimes called an "angel choir,"
when the singers (and the melodeon) are concealed, with the most
subdued and religious effect.  It is often so in cathedrals.

This plan would have another advantage.  The singers on the platform,
all handsome and well dressed, distract our attention from the
minister, and what he is saying.  We cannot help looking at them,
studying all the faces and all the dresses.  If one of them sits up
very straight, he is a rebuke to us; if he "lops" over, we wonder why
he does n't sit up; if his hair is white, we wonder whether it is age
or family peculiarity; if he yawns, we want to yawn; if he takes up a
hymn-book, we wonder if he is uninterested in the sermon; we look at
the bonnets, and query if that is the latest spring style, or whether
we are to look for another; if he shaves close, we wonder why he
doesn't let his beard grow; if he has long whiskers, we wonder why he
does n't trim 'em; if she sighs, we feel sorry; if she smiles, we
would like to know what it is about.  And, then, suppose any of the
singers should ever want to eat fennel, or peppermints, or Brown's
troches, and pass them round!  Suppose the singers, more or less of
them, should sneeze!

Suppose one or two of them, as the handsomest people sometimes will,
should go to sleep!  In short, the singers there take away all our
attention from the minister, and would do so if they were the
homeliest people in the world.  We must try something else.

It is needless to explain that a Gothic religious life is not an idle



Perhaps the clothes question is exhausted, philosophically.  I cannot
but regret that the Poet of the Breakfast-Table, who appears to have
an uncontrollable penchant for saying the things you would like to
say yourself, has alluded to the anachronism of "Sir Coeur de Lion
Plantagenet in the mutton-chop whiskers and the plain gray suit."

A great many scribblers have felt the disadvantage of writing after
Montaigne; and it is impossible to tell how much originality in
others Dr. Holmes has destroyed in this country.  In whist there are
some men you always prefer to have on your left hand, and I take it
that this intuitive essayist, who is so alert to seize the few
remaining unappropriated ideas and analogies in the world, is one of

No doubt if the Plantagenets of this day were required to dress in a
suit of chain-armor and wear iron pots on their heads, they would be
as ridiculous as most tragedy actors on the stage.  The pit which
recognizes Snooks in his tin breastplate and helmet laughs at him,
and Snooks himself feels like a sheep; and when the great tragedian
comes on, shining in mail, dragging a two-handed sword, and mouths
the grandiloquence which poets have put into the speech of heroes,
the dress-circle requires all its good-breeding and its feigned love
of the traditionary drama not to titter.

If this sort of acting, which is supposed to have come down to us
from the Elizabethan age, and which culminated in the school of the
Keans, Kembles, and Siddonses, ever had any fidelity to life, it must
have been in a society as artificial as the prose of Sir Philip
Sidney.  That anybody ever believed in it is difficult to think,
especially when we read what privileges the fine beaux and gallants
of the town took behind the scenes and on the stage in the golden
days of the drama.  When a part of the audience sat on the stage, and
gentlemen lounged or reeled across it in the midst of a play, to
speak to acquaintances in the audience, the illusion could not have
been very strong.

Now and then a genius, like Rachel as Horatia, or Hackett as
Falstaff, may actually seem to be the character assumed by virtue of
a transforming imagination, but I suppose the fact to be that getting
into a costume, absurdly antiquated and remote from all the habits
and associations of the actor, largely accounts for the incongruity
and ridiculousness of most of our modern acting.  Whether what is
called the "legitimate drama" ever was legitimate we do not know, but
the advocates of it appear to think that the theatre was some time
cast in a mould, once for all, and is good for all times and peoples,
like the propositions of Euclid.  To our eyes the legitimate drama of
to-day is the one in which the day is reflected, both in costume and
speech, and which touches the affections, the passions, the humor, of
the present time.  The brilliant success of the few good plays that
have been written out of the rich life which we now live--the most
varied, fruitful, and dramatically suggestive--ought to rid us
forever of the buskin-fustian, except as a pantomimic or spectacular

We have no objection to Julius Caesar or Richard III. stalking about
in impossible clothes) and stepping four feet at a stride, if they
want to, but let them not claim to be more "legitimate" than "Ours"
or "Rip Van Winkle."  There will probably be some orator for years
and years to come, at every Fourth of July, who will go on asking,
Where is Thebes?  but he does not care anything about it, and he does
not really expect an answer.  I have sometimes wished I knew the
exact site of Thebes, so that I could rise in the audience, and stop
that question, at any rate.  It is legitimate, but it is tiresome.

If we went to the bottom of this subject, I think we should find that
the putting upon actors clothes to which they are unaccustomed makes
them act and talk artificially, and often in a manner intolerable.

An actor who has not the habits or instincts of a gentleman cannot be
made to appear like one on the stage by dress; he only caricatures
and discredits what he tries to represent; and the unaccustomed
clothes and situation make him much more unnatural and insufferable
than he would otherwise be.  Dressed appropriately for parts for
which he is fitted, he will act well enough, probably.  What I mean
is, that the clothes inappropriate to the man make the incongruity of
him and his part more apparent.  Vulgarity is never so conspicuous as
in fine apparel, on or off the stage, and never so self-conscious.
Shall we have, then, no refined characters on the stage?  Yes; but
let them be taken by men and women of taste and refinement and let us
have done with this masquerading in false raiment, ancient and
modern, which makes nearly every stage a travesty of nature and the
whole theatre a painful pretension.  We do not expect the modern
theatre to be a place of instruction (that business is now turned
over to the telegraphic operator, who is making a new language), but
it may give amusement instead of torture, and do a little in
satirizing folly and kindling love of home and country by the way.

This is a sort of summary of what we all said, and no one in
particular is responsible for it; and in this it is like public
opinion.  The Parson, however, whose only experience of the theatre
was the endurance of an oratorio once, was very cordial in his
denunciation of the stage altogether.

MANDEVILLE.  Yet, acting itself is delightful; nothing so entertains
us as mimicry, the personation of character.  We enjoy it in private.
I confess that I am always pleased with the Parson in the character
of grumbler.  He would be an immense success on the stage.  I don't
know but the theatre will have to go back into the hands of the
priests, who once controlled it.

THE PARSON.  Scoffer!

MANDEVILLE.  I can imagine how enjoyable the stage might be, cleared
of all its traditionary nonsense, stilted language, stilted behavior,
all the rubbish of false sentiment, false dress, and the manners of
times that were both artificial and immoral, and filled with living
characters, who speak the thought of to-day, with the wit and culture
that are current to-day.  I've seen private theatricals, where all
the performers were persons of cultivation, that....

OUR NEXT DOOR.  So have I.  For something particularly cheerful,
commend me to amateur theatricals.  I have passed some melancholy
hours at them.

MANDEVILLE.  That's because the performers acted the worn stage
plays, and attempted to do them in the manner they had seen on the
stage.  It is not always so.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  I suppose Mandeville would say that acting has got
into a mannerism which is well described as stagey, and is supposed
to be natural to the stage; just as half the modern poets write in a
recognized form of literary manufacture, without the least impulse
from within, and not with the purpose of saying anything, but of
turning out a piece of literary work.  That's the reason we have so
much poetry that impresses one like sets of faultless cabinet-
furniture made by machinery.

THE PARSON.  But you need n't talk of nature or naturalness in acting
or in anything.  I tell you nature is poor stuff.  It can't go alone.
Amateur acting--they get it up at church sociables nowadays--is apt
to be as near nature as a school-boy's declamation.  Acting is the
Devil's art.

THE MISTRESS.  Do you object to such innocent amusement?

MANDEVILLE.  What the Parson objects to is, that he isn't amused.

THE PARSON.  What's the use of objecting?  It's the fashion of the
day to amuse people into the kingdom of heaven.

HERBERT.  The Parson has got us off the track.  My notion about the
stage is, that it keeps along pretty evenly with the rest of the
world; the stage is usually quite up to the level of the audience.
Assumed dress on the stage, since you were speaking of that, makes
people no more constrained and self-conscious than it does off the

THE MISTRESS.  What sarcasm is coming now?

HERBERT.  Well, you may laugh, but the world has n't got used to good
clothes yet.  The majority do not wear them with ease.  People who
only put on their best on rare and stated occasions step into an
artificial feeling.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  I wonder if that's the reason the Parson finds it so
difficult to get hold of his congregation.

HERBERT.  I don't know how else to account for the formality and
vapidity of a set "party," where all the guests are clothed in a
manner to which they are unaccustomed, dressed into a condition of
vivid self-consciousness.  The same people, who know each other
perfectly well, will enjoy themselves together without restraint in
their ordinary apparel.  But nothing can be more artificial than the
behavior of people together who rarely "dress up."  It seems
impossible to make the conversation as fine as the clothes, and so it
dies in a kind of inane helplessness.  Especially is this true in the
country, where people have not obtained the mastery of their clothes
that those who live in the city have.  It is really absurd, at this
stage of our civilization, that we should be so affected by such an
insignificant accident as dress.  Perhaps Mandeville can tell us
whether this clothes panic prevails in the older societies.

THE PARSON.  Don't.  We've heard it; about its being one of the
Englishman's thirty-nine articles that he never shall sit down to
dinner without a dress-coat, and all that.

THE MISTRESS.  I wish, for my part, that everybody who has time to
eat a dinner would dress for that, the principal event of the day,
and do respectful and leisurely justice to it.

THE YOUNG LADY.  It has always seemed singular to me that men who
work so hard to build elegant houses, and have good dinners, should
take so little leisure to enjoy either.

MANDEVILLE.  If the Parson will permit me, I should say that the
chief clothes question abroad just now is, how to get any; and it is
the same with the dinners.


It is quite unnecessary to say that the talk about clothes ran into
the question of dress-reform, and ran out, of course.  You cannot
converse on anything nowadays that you do not run into some reform.
The Parson says that everybody is intent on reforming everything but
himself.  We are all trying to associate ourselves to make everybody
else behave as we do.  Said--

OUR NEXT DOOR.  Dress reform!  As if people couldn't change their
clothes without concert of action.  Resolved, that nobody should put
on a clean collar oftener than his neighbor does.  I'm sick of every
sort of reform.  I should like to retrograde awhile.  Let a dyspeptic
ascertain that he can eat porridge three times a day and live, and
straightway he insists that everybody ought to eat porridge and
nothing else.  I mean to get up a society every member of which shall
be pledged to do just as he pleases.

THE PARSON.  That would be the most radical reform of the day.  That
would be independence.  If people dressed according to their means,
acted according to their convictions, and avowed their opinions, it
would revolutionize society.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  I should like to walk into your church some Sunday
and see the changes under such conditions.

THE PARSON.  It might give you a novel sensation to walk in at any
time.  And I'm not sure but the church would suit your retrograde
ideas.  It's so Gothic that a Christian of the Middle Ages, if he
were alive, couldn't see or hear in it.

HERBERT.  I don't know whether these reformers who carry the world on
their shoulders in such serious fashion, especially the little fussy
fellows, who are themselves the standard of the regeneration they
seek, are more ludicrous than pathetic.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  Pathetic, by all means.  But I don't know that they
would be pathetic if they were not ludicrous.  There are those reform
singers who have been piping away so sweetly now for thirty years,
with never any diminution of cheerful, patient enthusiasm; their hair
growing longer and longer, their eyes brighter and brighter, and
their faces, I do believe, sweeter and sweeter; singing always with
the same constancy for the slave, for the drunkard, for the
snufftaker, for the suffragist,--"There'sa-good-time-com-ing-boys
(nothing offensive is intended by "boys," it is put in for euphony,
and sung pianissimo, not to offend the suffragists), it's-
almost-here."  And what a brightening up of their faces there is when
they say, "it's-al-most-here," not doubting for a moment that "it's"
coming tomorrow; and the accompanying melodeon also wails its wheezy
suggestion that "it's-al-most-here," that "good-time" (delayed so
long, waiting perhaps for the invention of the melodeon) when we
shall all sing and all play that cheerful instrument, and all vote,
and none shall smoke, or drink, or eat meat, "boys."  I declare it
almost makes me cry to hear them, so touching is their faith in the
midst of a jeer-ing world.

HERBERT.  I suspect that no one can be a genuine reformer and not be
ridiculous.  I mean those who give themselves up to the unction of
the reform.

THE MISTRESS.  Does n't that depend upon whether the reform is large
or petty?

THE FIRE-TENDER.  I should say rather that the reforms attracted to
them all the ridiculous people, who almost always manage to become
the most conspicuous.  I suppose that nobody dare write out all that
was ludicrous in the great abolition movement.  But it was not at all
comical to those most zealous in it; they never could see--more's the
pity, for thereby they lose much--the humorous side of their per-
formances, and that is why the pathos overcomes one's sense of the
absurdity of such people.

THE YOUNG LADY.  It is lucky for the world that so many are willing
to be absurd.

HERBERT.  Well, I think that, in the main, the reformers manage to
look out for themselves tolerably well.  I knew once a lean and
faithful agent of a great philanthropic scheme, who contrived to
collect every year for the cause just enough to support him at a good
hotel comfortably.

THE MISTRESS.  That's identifying one's self with the cause.

MANDEVILLE.  You remember the great free-soil convention at Buffalo,
in 1848, when Van Buren was nominated.  All the world of hope and
discontent went there, with its projects of reform.  There seemed to
be no doubt, among hundreds that attended it, that if they could get
a resolution passed that bread should be buttered on both sides, it
would be so buttered.  The platform provided for every want and every

THE FIRE-TENDER.  I remember.  If you could get the millennium by
political action, we should have had it then.

MANDEVILLE.  We went there on the Erie Canal, the exciting and
fashionable mode of travel in those days.  I was a boy when we began
the voyage.  The boat was full of conventionists; all the talk was of
what must be done there.  I got the impression that as that boat-load
went so would go the convention; and I was not alone in that feeling.
I can never be grateful enough for one little scrubby fanatic who was
on board, who spent most of his time in drafting resolutions and
reading them privately to the passengers.  He was a very
enthusiastic, nervous, and somewhat dirty little man, who wore a
woolen muffler about his throat, although it was summer; he had
nearly lost his voice, and could only speak in a hoarse, disagreeable
whisper, and he always carried a teacup about, containing some sticky
compound which he stirred frequently with a spoon, and took, whenever
he talked, in order to improve his voice.  If he was separated from
his cup for ten minutes, his whisper became inaudible.  I greatly
delighted in him, for I never saw any one who had so much enjoyment
of his own importance.  He was fond of telling what he would do if
the conven-tion rejected such and such resolutions.  He'd make it hot
for them.  I did n't know but he'd make them take his mixture.  The
convention had got to take a stand on tobacco, for one thing.  He'd
heard Gid-dings took snuff; he'd see.  When we at length reached
Buffalo he took his teacup and carpet-bag of resolutions and went
ashore in a great hurry.  I saw him once again in a cheap restaurant,
whispering a resolution to another delegate, but he did n't appear in
the con-vention.  I have often wondered what became of him.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  Probably he's consul somewhere.  They mostly are.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  After all, it's the easiest thing in the world to
sit and sneer at eccentricities.  But what a dead and uninteresting
world it would be if we were all proper, and kept within the lines!
Affairs would soon be reduced to mere machinery.  There are moments,
even days, when all interests and movements appear to be settled upon
some universal plan of equilibrium; but just then some restless and
absurd person is inspired to throw the machine out of gear.  These
individual eccentricities seem to be the special providences in the
general human scheme.

HERBERT.  They make it very hard work for the rest of us, who are
disposed to go along peaceably and smoothly.

MANDEVILLE.  And stagnate.  I 'm not sure but the natural condition
of this planet is war, and that when it is finally towed to its
anchorage--if the universe has any harbor for worlds out of
commission--it will look like the Fighting Temeraire in Turner's

HERBERT.  There is another thing I should like to understand: the
tendency of people who take up one reform, perhaps a personal
regeneration in regard to some bad habit, to run into a dozen other
isms, and get all at sea in several vague and pernicious theories and

MANDEVILLE.  Herbert seems to think there is safety in a man's being
anchored, even if it is to a bad habit.

HERBERT.  Thank you.  But what is it in human nature that is apt to
carry a man who may take a step in personal reform into so many

OUR NEXT DOOR.  Probably it's human nature.

HERBERT.  Why, for instance, should a reformed drunkard (one of the
noblest examples of victory over self) incline, as I have known the
reformed to do, to spiritism, or a woman suffragist to "pantarchism"
(whatever that is), and want to pull up all the roots of society, and
expect them to grow in the air, like orchids; or a Graham-bread
disciple become enamored of Communism?

MANDEVILLE.  I know an excellent Conservative who would, I think,
suit you; he says that he does not see how a man who indulges in the
theory and practice of total abstinence can be a consistent believer
in the Christian religion.

HERBERT.  Well, I can understand what he means: that a person is
bound to hold himself in conditions of moderation and control, using
and not abusing the things of this world, practicing temperance, not
retiring into a convent of artificial restrictions in order to escape
the full responsibility of self-control.  And yet his theory would
certainly wreck most men and women.  What does the Parson say?

THE PARSON. That the world is going crazy on the notion of individual
ability.  Whenever a man attempts to reform himself, or anybody else,
without the aid of the Christian religion, he is sure to go adrift,
and is pretty certain to be blown about by absurd theories, and
shipwrecked on some pernicious ism.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  I think the discussion has touched bottom.


I never felt so much the value of a house with a backlog in it as
during the late spring; for its lateness was its main feature.
Everybody was grumbling about it, as if it were something ordered
from the tailor, and not ready on the day.  Day after day it snowed,
night after night it blew a gale from the northwest; the frost sunk
deeper and deeper into the ground; there was a popular longing for
spring that was almost a prayer; the weather bureau was active;
Easter was set a week earlier than the year before, but nothing
seemed to do any good.  The robins sat under the evergreens, and
piped in a disconsolate mood, and at last the bluejays came and
scolded in the midst of the snow-storm, as they always do scold in
any weather.  The crocuses could n't be coaxed to come up, even with
a pickaxe.  I'm almost ashamed now to recall what we said of the
weather only I think that people are no more accountable for what
they say of the weather than for their remarks when their corns are
stepped on.

We agreed, however, that, but for disappointed expectations and the
prospect of late lettuce and peas, we were gaining by the fire as
much as we were losing by the frost.  And the Mistress fell to
chanting the comforts of modern civilization.

THE FIRE-TENDER said he should like to know, by the way, if our
civilization differed essentially from any other in anything but its

HERBERT.  We are no nearer religious unity.

THE PARSON.  We have as much war as ever.

MANDEVILLE.  There was never such a social turmoil.

THE YOUNG LADY.  The artistic part of our nature does not appear to
have grown.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  We are quarreling as to whether we are in fact
radically different from the brutes.

HERBERT.  Scarcely two people think alike about the proper kind of
human government.

THE PARSON.  Our poetry is made out of words, for the most part, and
not drawn from the living sources.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  And Mr. Cumming is uncorking his seventh phial.  I
never felt before what barbarians we are.

THE MISTRESS.  Yet you won't deny that the life of the average man is
safer and every way more comfortable than it was even a century ago.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  But what I want to know is, whether what we call
our civilization has done any thing more for mankind at large than to
increase the ease and pleasure of living?  Science has multiplied
wealth, and facilitated intercourse, and the result is refinement of
manners and a diffusion of education and information.  Are men and
women essentially changed, however?  I suppose the Parson would say
we have lost faith, for one thing.

MANDEVILLE.  And superstition; and gained toleration.

HERBERT.  The question is, whether toleration is anything but

THE PARSON.  Everything is tolerated now but Christian orthodoxy.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  It's easy enough to make a brilliant catalogue of
external achievements, but I take it that real progress ought to be
in man himself.  It is not a question of what a man enjoys, but what
he can produce.  The best sculpture was executed two thousand years
ago.  The best paintings are several centuries old.  We study the
finest architecture in its ruins.  The standards of poetry are
Shakespeare, Homer, Isaiah, and David.  The latest of the arts,
music, culminated in composition, though not in execution, a century

THE MISTRESS.  Yet culture in music certainly distinguishes the
civilization of this age.  It has taken eighteen hundred years for
the principles of the Christian religion to begin to be practically
incorporated in government and in ordinary business, and it will take
a long time for Beethoven to be popularly recognized; but there is
growth toward him, and not away from him, and when the average
culture has reached his height, some other genius will still more
profoundly and delicately express the highest thoughts.

HERBERT.  I wish I could believe it.  The spirit of this age is
expressed by the Calliope.

THE PARSON.  Yes, it remained for us to add church-bells and cannon
to the orchestra.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  It's a melancholy thought to me that we can no longer
express ourselves with the bass-drum; there used to be the whole of
the Fourth of July in its patriotic throbs.

MANDEVILLE.  We certainly have made great progress in one art,--that
of war.

THE YOUNG LADY.  And in the humane alleviations of the miseries of

THE FIRE-TENDER.  The most discouraging symptom to me in our
undoubted advance in the comforts and refinements of society is the
facility with which men slip back into barbarism, if the artificial
and external accidents of their lives are changed.  We have always
kept a fringe of barbarism on our shifting western frontier; and I
think there never was a worse society than that in California and
Nevada in their early days.

THE YOUNG LADY.  That is because women were absent.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  But women are not absent in London and New York,
and they are conspicuous in the most exceptionable demonstrations of
social anarchy.  Certainly they were not wanting in Paris.  Yes,
there was a city widely accepted as the summit of our material
civilization.  No city was so beautiful, so luxurious, so safe, so
well ordered for the comfort of living, and yet it needed only a
month or two to make it a kind of pandemonium of savagery.  Its
citizens were the barbarians who destroyed its own monuments of
civilization.  I don't mean to say that there was no apology for what
was done there in the deceit and fraud that preceded it, but I simply
notice how ready the tiger was to appear, and how little restraint
all the material civilization was to the beast.

THE MISTRESS.  I can't deny your instances, and yet I somehow feel
that pretty much all you have been saying is in effect untrue.  Not
one of you would be willing to change our civilization for any other.
In your estimate you take no account, it seems to me, of the growth
of charity.

MANDEVILLE.  And you might add a recognition of the value of human

THE MISTRESS.  I don't believe there was ever before diffused
everywhere such an element of good-will, and never before were women
so much engaged in philanthropic work.

THE PARSON.  It must be confessed that one of the best signs of the
times is woman's charity for woman.  That certainly never existed to
the same extent in any other civilization.

MANDEVILLE.  And there is another thing that distinguishes us, or is
beginning to.  That is, the notion that you can do something more
with a criminal than punish him; and that society has not done its
duty when it has built a sufficient number of schools for one class,
or of decent jails for another.

HERBERT.  It will be a long time before we get decent jails.

MANDEVILLE.  But when we do they will begin to be places of education
and training as much as of punishment and disgrace.  The public will
provide teachers in the prisons as it now does in the common schools.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  The imperfections of our methods and means of
selecting those in the community who ought to be in prison are so
great, that extra care in dealing with them becomes us.  We are
beginning to learn that we cannot draw arbitrary lines with infal-
lible justice.  Perhaps half those who are convicted of crimes are as
capable of reformation as half those transgressors who are not
convicted, or who keep inside the statutory law.

HERBERT.  Would you remove the odium of prison?

THE FIRE-TENDER.  No; but I would have criminals believe, and society
believe, that in going to prison a man or woman does not pass an
absolute line and go into a fixed state.

THE PARSON.  That is, you would not have judgment and retribution
begin in this world.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  Don't switch us off into theology.  I hate to go up
in a balloon, or see any one else go.

HERBERT.  Don't you think there is too much leniency toward crime and
criminals, taking the place of justice, in these days?

THE FIRE-TENDER.  There may be too much disposition to condone the
crimes of those who have been considered respectable.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  That is, scarcely anybody wants to see his friend

MANDEVILLE.  I think a large part of the bitterness of the condemned
arises from a sense of the inequality with which justice is
administered.  I am surprised, in visiting jails, to find so few
respectable-looking convicts.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  Nobody will go to jail nowadays who thinks anything
of himself.

THE FIRE-TENDER.  When society seriously takes hold of the
reformation of criminals (say with as much determination as it does
to carry an election) this false leniency will disappear; for it
partly springs from a feeling that punishment is unequal, and does
not discriminate enough in individuals, and that society itself has
no right to turn a man over to the Devil, simply because he shows a
strong leaning that way.  A part of the scheme of those who work for
the reformation of criminals is to render punishment more certain,
and to let its extent depend upon reformation.  There is no reason
why a professional criminal, who won't change his trade for an honest
one, should have intervals of freedom in his prison life in which he
is let loose to prey upon society.  Criminals ought to be discharged,
like insane patients, when they are cured.

OUR NEXT DOOR.  It's a wonder to me, what with our multitudes of
statutes and hosts of detectives, that we are any of us out of jail.
I never come away from a visit to a State-prison without a new spasm
of fear and virtue.  The faculties for getting into jail seem to be
ample.  We want more organizations for keeping people out.

MANDEVILLE.  That is the sort of enterprise the women are engaged in,
the frustration of the criminal tendencies of those born in vice.  I
believe women have it in their power to regenerate the world morally.

THE PARSON.  It's time they began to undo the mischief of their

THE MISTRESS.  The reason they have not made more progress is that
they have usually confined their individual efforts to one man; they
are now organizing for a general campaign.

THE FIRE-TENDER. I'm not sure but here is where the ameliorations of
the conditions of life, which are called the comforts of this
civilization, come in, after all, and distinguish the age above all
others.  They have enabled the finer powers of women to have play as
they could not in a ruder age.  I should like to live a hundred years
and see what they will do.

HERBERT.  Not much but change the fashions, unless they submit them-
selves to the same training and discipline that men do.

I have no doubt that Herbert had to apologize for this remark
afterwards in private, as men are quite willing to do in particular
cases; it is only in general they are unjust.  The talk drifted off
into general and particular depreciation of other times.  Mandeville
described a picture, in which he appeared to have confidence, of a
fight between an Iguanodon and a Megalosaurus, where these huge
iron-clad brutes were represented chewing up different portions of
each other's bodies in a forest of the lower cretaceous period.  So
far as he could learn, that sort of thing went on unchecked for
hundreds of thousands of years, and was typical of the intercourse of
the races of man till a comparatively recent period.  There was also
that gigantic swan, the Plesiosaurus; in fact, all the early brutes
were disgusting.  He delighted to think that even the lower animals
had improved, both in appearance and disposition.

The conversation ended, therefore, in a very amicable manner, having
been taken to a ground that nobody knew anything about.



Can you have a backlog in July?  That depends upon circumstances.

In northern New England it is considered a sign of summer when the
housewives fill the fireplaces with branches of mountain laurel, and,
later, with the feathery stalks of the asparagus.  This is often,
too, the timid expression of a tender feeling, under Puritanic
repression, which has not sufficient vent in the sweet-william and
hollyhock at the front door.  This is a yearning after beauty and
ornamentation which has no other means of gratifying itself

In the most rigid circumstances, the graceful nature of woman thus
discloses itself in these mute expressions of an undeveloped taste.
You may never doubt what the common flowers growing along the pathway
to the front door mean to the maiden of many summers who tends them;
--love and religion, and the weariness of an uneventful life.  The
sacredness of the Sabbath, the hidden memory of an unrevealed and
unrequited affection, the slow years of gathering and wasting
sweetness, are in the smell of the pink and the sweet-clover.  These
sentimental plants breathe something of the longing of the maiden who
sits in the Sunday evenings of summer on the lonesome front
doorstone, singing the hymns of the saints, and perennial as the
myrtle that grows thereby.

Yet not always in summer, even with the aid of unrequited love and
devotional feeling, is it safe to let the fire go out on the hearth,
in our latitude.  I remember when the last almost total eclipse of
the sun happened in August, what a bone-piercing chill came over the
world.  Perhaps the imagination had something to do with causing the
chill from that temporary hiding of the sun to feel so much more
penetrating than that from the coming on of night, which shortly
followed.  It was impossible not to experience a shudder as of the
approach of the Judgment Day, when the shadows were flung upon the
green lawn, and we all stood in the wan light, looking unfamiliar to
each other.  The birds in the trees felt the spell.  We could in
fancy see those spectral camp-fires which men would build on the
earth, if the sun should slow its fires down to about the brilliancy
of the moon.  It was a great relief to all of us to go into the
house, and, before a blazing wood-fire, talk of the end of the world.

In New England it is scarcely ever safe to let the fire go out; it is
best to bank it, for it needs but the turn of a weather-vane at any
hour to sweep the

Atlantic rains over us, or to bring down the chill of Hudson's Bay.
There are days when the steam ship on the Atlantic glides calmly
along under a full canvas, but its central fires must always be ready
to make steam against head-winds and antagonistic waves.  Even in our
most smiling summer days one needs to have the materials of a
cheerful fire at hand.  It is only by this readiness for a change
that one can preserve an equal mind.  We are made provident and
sagacious by the fickleness of our climate.  We should be another
sort of people if we could have that serene, unclouded trust in
nature which the Egyptian has.  The gravity and repose of the Eastern
peoples is due to the unchanging aspect of the sky, and the
deliberation and reg-ularity of the great climatic processes.  Our
literature, politics, religion, show the effect of unsettled weather.
But they compare favorably with the Egyptian, for all that.


You cannot know, the Young Lady wrote, with what longing I look back
to those winter days by the fire; though all the windows are open to
this May morning, and the brown thrush is singing in the chestnut-
tree, and I see everywhere that first delicate flush of spring, which
seems too evanescent to be color even, and amounts to little more
than a suffusion of the atmosphere.  I doubt, indeed, if the spring
is exactly what it used to be, or if, as we get on in years [no one
ever speaks of "getting on in years" till she is virtually settled in
life], its promises and suggestions do not seem empty in comparison
with the sympathies and responses of human friendship, and the
stimulation of society.  Sometimes nothing is so tiresome as a
perfect day in a perfect season.

I only imperfectly understand this.  The Parson says that woman is
always most restless under the most favorable conditions, and that
there is no state in which she is really happy except that of change.
I suppose this is the truth taught in what has been called the "Myth
of the Garden."  Woman is perpetual revolution, and is that element
in the world which continually destroys and re-creates.  She is the
experimenter and the suggester of new combinations.  She has no
belief in any law of eternal fitness of things.  She is never even
content with any arrangement of her own house.  The only reason the
Mistress could give, when she rearranged her apartment, for hanging a
picture in what seemed the most inappropriate place, was that it had
never been there before.  Woman has no respect for tradition, and
because a thing is as it is is sufficient reason for changing it.
When she gets into law, as she has come into literature, we shall
gain something in the destruction of all our vast and musty libraries
of precedents, which now fetter our administration of individual
justice.  It is Mandeville's opinion that women are not so
sentimental as men, and are not so easily touched with the unspoken
poetry of nature; being less poetical, and having less imagination,
they are more fitted for practical affairs, and would make less
failures in business.  I have noticed the almost selfish passion for
their flowers which old gardeners have, and their reluctance to part
with a leaf or a blossom from their family.  They love the flowers
for themselves.  A woman raises flowers for their use.  She is
destruct-ion in a conservatory.  She wants the flowers for her lover,
for the sick, for the poor, for the Lord on Easter day, for the
ornamentation of her house.  She delights in the costly pleasure of
sacrificing them.  She never sees a flower but she has an intense but
probably sinless desire to pick it.

It has been so from the first, though from the first she has been
thwarted by the accidental superior strength of man.  Whatever she
has obtained has been by craft, and by the same coaxing which the sun
uses to draw the blossoms out of the apple-trees.  I am not surprised
to learn that she has become tired of indulgences, and wants some of
the original rights.  We are just beginning to find out the extent to
which she has been denied and subjected, and especially her condition
among the primitive and barbarous races.  I have never seen it in a
platform of grievances, but it is true that among the Fijians she is
not, unless a better civilization has wrought a change in her behalf,
permitted to eat people, even her own sex, at the feasts of the men;
the dainty enjoyed by the men being considered too good to be wasted
on women.  Is anything wanting to this picture of the degradation of
woman?  By a refinement of cruelty she receives no benefit whatever
from the missionaries who are sent out by--what to her must seem a
new name for Tantalus--the American Board.

I suppose the Young Lady expressed a nearly universal feeling in her
regret at the breaking up of the winter-fireside company.  Society
needs a certain seclusion and the sense of security.  Spring opens
the doors and the windows, and the noise and unrest of the world are
let in.  Even a winter thaw begets a desire to travel, and summer
brings longings innumerable, and disturbs the most tranquil souls.
Nature is, in fact, a suggester of uneasiness, a promoter of
pilgrimages and of excursions of the fancy which never come to any
satisfactory haven.  The summer in these latitudes is a campaign of
sentiment and a season, for the most part, of restlessness and
discontent.  We grow now in hot-houses roses which, in form and
color, are magnificent, and appear to be full of passion; yet one
simple June rose of the open air has for the Young Lady, I doubt not,
more sentiment and suggestion of love than a conservatory full of
them in January.  And this suggestion, leavened as it is with the
inconstancy of nature, stimulated by the promises which are so often
like the peach-blossom of the Judas-tree, unsatisfying by reason of
its vague possibilities, differs so essentially from the more limited
and attainable and home-like emotion born of quiet intercourse by the
winter fireside, that I do not wonder the Young Lady feels as if some
spell had been broken by the transition of her life from in-doors to
out-doors.  Her secret, if secret she has, which I do not at all
know, is shared by the birds and the new leaves and the blossoms on
the fruit trees.  If we lived elsewhere, in that zone where the poets
pretend always to dwell, we might be content, perhaps I should say
drugged, by the sweet influences of an unchanging summer; but not
living elsewhere, we can understand why the Young Lady probably now
looks forward to the hearthstone as the most assured center of
enduring attachment.

If it should ever become the sad duty of this biographer to write of
disappointed love, I am sure he would not have any sensational story
to tell of the Young Lady.  She is one of those women whose
unostentatious lives are the chief blessing of humanity; who, with a
sigh heard only by herself and no change in her sunny face, would put
behind her all the memories of winter evenings and the promises of
May mornings, and give her life to some ministration of human
kindness with an assiduity that would make her occupation appear like
an election and a first choice.  The disappointed man scowls, and
hates his race, and threatens self-destruction, choosing oftener the
flowing bowl than the dagger, and becoming a reeling nuisance in the
world.  It would be much more manly in him to become the secretary of
a Dorcas society.

I suppose it is true that women work for others with less expectation
of reward than men, and give themselves to labors of self-sacrifice
with much less thought of self.  At least, this is true unless woman
goes into some public performance, where notoriety has its
attractions, and mounts some cause, to ride it man-fashion, when I
think she becomes just as eager for applause and just as willing that
self-sacrifice should result in self-elevation as man.  For her,
usually, are not those unbought--presentations which are forced upon
firemen, philanthropists, legislators, railroad-men, and the
superintendents of the moral instruction of the young.  These are
almost always pleasing and unexpected tributes to worth and modesty,
and must be received with satisfaction when the public service
rendered has not been with a view to procuring them.  We should say
that one ought to be most liable to receive a "testimonial" who,
being a superintendent of any sort, did not superintend with a view
to getting it.  But "testimonials" have become so common that a
modest man ought really to be afraid to do his simple duty, for fear
his motives will be misconstrued.  Yet there are instances of very
worthy men who have had things publicly presented to them.  It is the
blessed age of gifts and the reward of private virtue.  And the
presentations have become so frequent that we wish there were a
little more variety in them.  There never was much sense in giving a
gallant fellow a big speaking-trumpet to carry home to aid him in his
intercourse with his family; and the festive ice-pitcher has become a
too universal sign of absolute devotion to the public interest.  The
lack of one will soon be proof that a man is a knave.  The
legislative cane with the gold head, also, is getting to be
recognized as the sign of the immaculate public servant, as the
inscription on it testifies, and the steps of suspicion must ere-long
dog him who does not carry one.  The "testimonial" business is, in
truth, a little demoralizing, almost as much so as the "donation;"
and the demoralization has extended even to our language, so that a
perfectly respectable man is often obliged to see himself "made the
recipient of" this and that.  It would be much better, if
testimonials must be, to give a man a barrel of flour or a keg of
oysters, and let him eat himself at once back into the ranks of
ordinary men.


We may have a testimonial class in time, a sort of nobility here in
America, made so by popular gift, the members of which will all be
able to show some stick or piece of plated ware or massive chain, "of
which they have been the recipients."  In time it may be a
distinction not to belong to it, and it may come to be thought more
blessed to give than to receive.  For it must have been remarked that
it is not always to the cleverest and the most amiable and modest man
that the deputation comes with the inevitable ice-pitcher (and
"salver to match"), which has in it the magic and subtle quality of
making the hour in which it is received the proudest of one's life.
There has not been discovered any method of rewarding all the
deserving people and bringing their virtues into the prominence of
notoriety.  And, indeed, it would be an unreasonable world if there
had, for its chief charm and sweetness lie in the excellences in it
which are reluctantly disclosed; one of the chief pleasures of living
is in the daily discovery of good traits, nobilities, and kindliness
both in those we have long known and in the chance passenger whose
way happens for a day to lie with ours.  The longer I live the more I
am impressed with the excess of human kindness over human hatred, and
the greater willingness to oblige than to disoblige that one meets at
every turn.  The selfishness in politics, the jealousy in letters,
the bickering in art, the bitterness in theology, are all as nothing
compared to the sweet charities, sacrifices, and deferences of
private life.  The people are few whom to know intimately is to
dislike.  Of course you want to hate somebody, if you can, just to
keep your powers of discrimination bright, and to save yourself from
becoming a mere mush of good-nature; but perhaps it is well to hate
some historical person who has been dead so long as to be indifferent
to it.  It is more comfortable to hate people we have never seen.  I
cannot but think that Judas Iscariot has been of great service to the
world as a sort of buffer for moral indignation which might have made
a collision nearer home but for his utilized treachery.  I used to
know a venerable and most amiable gentleman and scholar, whose
hospitable house was always overrun with wayside ministers, agents,
and philanthropists, who loved their fellow-men better than they
loved to work for their living; and he, I suspect, kept his moral
balance even by indulgence in violent but most distant dislikes.
When I met him casually in the street, his first salutation was
likely to be such as this: "What a liar that Alison was!  Don't you
hate him?"  And then would follow specifications of historical
inveracity enough to make one's blood run cold.  When he was thus
discharged of his hatred by such a conductor, I presume he had not a
spark left for those whose mission was partly to live upon him and
other generous souls.

Mandeville and I were talking of the unknown people, one rainy night
by the fire, while the Mistress was fitfully and interjectionally
playing with the piano-keys in an improvising mood.  Mandeville has a
good deal of sentiment about him, and without any effort talks so
beautifully sometimes that I constantly regret I cannot report his
language.  He has, besides, that sympathy of presence--I believe it
is called magnetism by those who regard the brain as only a sort of
galvanic battery--which makes it a greater pleasure to see him think,
if I may say so, than to hear some people talk.

It makes one homesick in this world to think that there are so many
rare people he can never know; and so many excellent people that
scarcely any one will know, in fact.  One discovers a friend by
chance, and cannot but feel regret that twenty or thirty years of
life maybe have been spent without the least knowledge of him.  When
he is once known, through him opening is made into another little
world, into a circle of culture and loving hearts and enthusiasm in a
dozen congenial pursuits, and prejudices perhaps.  How instantly and
easily the bachelor doubles his world when he marries, and enters
into the unknown fellowship of the to him continually increasing
company which is known in popular language as "all his wife's

Near at hand daily, no doubt, are those worth knowing intimately, if
one had the time and the opportunity.  And when one travels he sees
what a vast material there is for society and friendship, of which he
can never avail himself.  Car-load after car-load of summer travel
goes by one at any railway-station, out of which he is sure he could
choose a score of life-long friends, if the conductor would introduce
him.  There are faces of refinement, of quick wit, of sympathetic
kindness,--interesting people, traveled people, entertaining people,
--as you would say in Boston, "nice people you would admire to know,"
whom you constantly meet and pass without a sign of recognition, many
of whom are no doubt your long-lost brothers and sisters.  You can
see that they also have their worlds and their interests, and they
probably know a great many "nice" people.  The matter of personal
liking and attachment is a good deal due to the mere fortune of
association.  More fast friendships and pleasant acquaintanceships
are formed on the Atlantic steamships between those who would have
been only indifferent acquaintances elsewhere, than one would think
possible on a voyage which naturally makes one as selfish as he is
indifferent to his personal appearance.  The Atlantic is the only
power on earth I know that can make a woman indifferent to her
personal appearance.

Mandeville remembers, and I think without detriment to himself, the
glimpses he had in the White Mountains once of a young lady of whom
his utmost efforts could give him no further information than her
name.  Chance sight of her on a passing stage or amid a group on some
mountain lookout was all he ever had, and he did not even know
certainly whether she was the perfect beauty and the lovely character
he thought her.  He said he would have known her, however, at a great
distance; there was to her form that command of which we hear so much
and which turns out to be nearly all command after the "ceremony;" or
perhaps it was something in the glance of her eye or the turn of her
head, or very likely it was a sweet inherited reserve or hauteur that
captivated him, that filled his days with the expectation of seeing
her, and made him hasten to the hotel-registers in the hope that her
name was there recorded.  Whatever it was, she interested him as one
of the people he would like to know; and it piqued him that there was
a life, rich in friendships, no doubt, in tastes, in many
noblenesses, one of thousands of such, that must be absolutely
nothing to him,--nothing but a window into heaven momentarily opened
and then closed.  I have myself no idea that she was a countess
incognito, or that she had descended from any greater heights than
those where Mandeville saw her, but I have always regretted that she
went her way so mysteriously and left no glow, and that we shall wear
out the remainder of our days without her society.  I have looked for
her name, but always in vain, among the attendants at the rights-
conventions, in the list of those good Americans presented at court,
among those skeleton names that appear as the remains of beauty in
the morning journals after a ball to the wandering prince, in the
reports of railway collisions and steamboat explosions.  No news
comes of her.  And so imperfect are our means of communication in
this world that, for anything we know, she may have left it long ago
by some private way.


The lasting regret that we cannot know more of the bright, sincere,
and genuine people of the world is increased by the fact that they
are all different from each other.  Was it not Madame de Sevigne who
said she had loved several different women for several different
qualities?  Every real person--for there are persons as there are
fruits that have no distinguishing flavor, mere gooseberries--has a
distinct quality, and the finding it is always like the discovery of
a new island to the voyager.  The physical world we shall exhaust
some day, having a written description of every foot of it to which
we can turn; but we shall never get the different qualities of people
into a biographical dictionary, and the making acquaintance with a
human being will never cease to be an exciting experiment.  We cannot
even classify men so as to aid us much in our estimate of them.  The
efforts in this direction are ingenious, but unsatisfactory.  If I
hear that a man is lymphatic or nervous-sanguine, I cannot tell
therefrom whether I shall like and trust him.  He may produce a
phrenological chart showing that his knobby head is the home of all
the virtues, and that the vicious tendencies are represented by holes
in his cranium, and yet I cannot be sure that he will not be as
disagreeable as if phrenology had not been invented.  I feel
sometimes that phrenology is the refuge of mediocrity.  Its charts
are almost as misleading concerning character as photographs.  And
photography may be described as the art which enables commonplace
mediocrity to look like genius.  The heavy-jowled man with shallow
cerebrum has only to incline his head so that the lying instrument
can select a favorable focus, to appear in the picture with the brow
of a sage and the chin of a poet.  Of all the arts for ministering to
human vanity the photographic is the most useful, but it is a poor
aid in the revelation of character.  You shall learn more of a man's
real nature by seeing him walk once up the broad aisle of his church
to his pew on Sunday, than by studying his photograph for a month.

No, we do not get any certain standard of men by a chart of their
temperaments; it will hardly answer to select a wife by the color of
her hair; though it be by nature as red as a cardinal's hat, she may
be no more constant than if it were dyed.  The farmer who shuns all
the lymphatic beauties in his neighborhood, and selects to wife the
most nervous-sanguine, may find that she is unwilling to get up in
the winter mornings and make the kitchen fire.  Many a man, even in
this scientific age which professes to label us all, has been cruelly
deceived in this way.  Neither the blondes nor the brunettes act
according to the advertisement of their temperaments.  The truth is
that men refuse to come under the classifications of the pseudo-
scientists, and all our new nomenclatures do not add much to our
knowledge.  You know what to expect--if the comparison will be
pardoned--of a horse with certain points; but you wouldn't dare go on
a journey with a man merely upon the strength of knowing that his
temperament was the proper mixture of the sanguine and the
phlegmatic.  Science is not able to teach us concerning men as it
teaches us of horses, though I am very far from saying that there are
not traits of nobleness and of meanness that run through families and
can be calculated to appear in individuals with absolute certainty;
one family will be trusty and another tricky through all its members
for generations; noble strains and ignoble strains are perpetuated.
When we hear that she has eloped with the stable-boy and married him,
we are apt to remark, "Well, she was a Bogardus."  And when we read
that she has gone on a mission and has died, distinguishing herself
by some extraordinary devotion to the heathen at Ujiji, we think it
sufficient to say, "Yes, her mother married into the Smiths."  But
this knowledge comes of our experience of special families, and
stands us in stead no further.

If we cannot classify men scientifically and reduce them under a kind
of botanical order, as if they had a calculable vegetable
development, neither can we gain much knowledge of them by
comparison.  It does not help me at all in my estimate of their
characters to compare Mandeville with the Young Lady, or Our Next
Door with the Parson.  The wise man does not permit himself to set up
even in his own mind any comparison of his friends.  His friendship
is capable of going to extremes with many people, evoked as it is by
many qualities.  When Mandeville goes into my garden in June I can
usually find him in a particular bed of strawberries, but he does not
speak disrespectfully of the others.  When Nature, says Mandeville,
consents to put herself into any sort of strawberry, I have no
criticisms to make, I am only glad that I have been created into the
same world with such a delicious manifestation of the Divine favor.
If I left Mandeville alone in the garden long enough, I have no doubt
he would impartially make an end of the fruit of all the beds, for
his capacity in this direction is as all-embracing as it is in the
matter of friendships.  The Young Lady has also her favorite patch of
berries.  And the Parson, I am sorry to say, prefers to have them
picked for him the  elect of the garden--and served in an orthodox
manner.  The straw-berry has a sort of poetical precedence, and I
presume that no fruit is jealous of it any more than any flower is
jealous of the rose; but I remark the facility with which liking for
it is transferred to the raspberry, and from the raspberry (not to
make a tedious enumeration) to the melon, and from the melon to the
grape, and the grape to the pear, and the pear to the apple.  And we
do not mar our enjoyment of each by comparisons.

Of course it would be a dull world if we could not criticise our
friends, but the most unprofitable and unsatisfactory criticism is
that by comparison.  Criticism is not necessarily uncharitableness,
but a wholesome exercise of our powers of analysis and
discrimination.  It is, however, a very idle exercise, leading to no
results when we set the qualities of one over against the qualities
of another, and disparage by contrast and not by independent
judgment.  And this method of procedure creates jealousies and heart-
burnings innumerable.

Criticism by comparison is the refuge of incapables, and especially
is this true in literature.  It is a lazy way of disposing of a young
poet to bluntly declare, without any sort of discrimination of his
defects or his excellences, that he equals Tennyson, and that Scott
never wrote anything finer.  What is the justice of damning a
meritorious novelist by comparing him with Dickens, and smothering
him with thoughtless and good-natured eulogy?  The poet and the
novelist may be well enough, and probably have qualities and gifts of
their own which are worth the critic's attention, if he has any time
to bestow on them; and it is certainly unjust to subject them to a
comparison with somebody else, merely because the critic will not
take the trouble to ascertain what they are.  If, indeed, the poet
and novelist are mere imitators of a model and copyists of a style,
they may be dismissed with such commendation as we bestow upon the
machines who pass their lives in making bad copies of the pictures of
the great painters.  But the critics of whom we speak do not intend
depreciation, but eulogy, when they say that the author they have in
hand has the wit of Sydney Smith and the brilliancy of Macaulay.
Probably he is not like either of them, and may have a genuine though
modest virtue of his own; but these names will certainly kill him,
and he will never be anybody in the popular estimation.  The public
finds out speedily that he is not Sydney Smith, and it resents the
extravagant claim for him as if he were an impudent pretender.  How
many authors of fair ability to interest the world have we known in
our own day who have been thus sky-rocketed into notoriety by the
lazy indiscrimination of the critic-by-comparison, and then have sunk
into a popular contempt as undeserved!  I never see a young aspirant
injudiciously compared to a great and resplendent name in literature,
but I feel like saying, My poor fellow, your days are few and full of
trouble; you begin life handicapped, and you cannot possibly run a
creditable race.

I think this sort of critical eulogy is more damaging even than that
which kills by a different assumption, and one which is equally
common, namely, that the author has not done what he probably never
intended to do.  It is well known that most of the trouble in life
comes from our inability to compel other people to do what we think
they ought, and it is true in criticism that we are unwilling to take
a book for what it is, and credit the author with that.  When the
solemn critic, like a mastiff with a ladies' bonnet in his mouth,
gets hold of a light piece of verse, or a graceful sketch which
catches the humor of an hour for the entertainment of an hour, he
tears it into a thousand shreds.  It adds nothing to human knowledge,
it solves none of the problems of life, it touches none of the
questions of social science, it is not a philosophical treatise, and
it is not a dozen things that it might have been.  The critic cannot
forgive the author for this disrespect to him.  This isn't a rose,
says the critic, taking up a pansy and rending it; it is not at all
like a rose, and the author is either a pretentious idiot or an
idiotic pretender.  What business, indeed, has the author to send the
critic a bunch of sweet-peas, when he knows that a cabbage would be
preferred,--something not showy, but useful?

A good deal of this is what Mandeville said and I am not sure that it
is devoid of personal feeling.  He published, some years ago, a
little volume giving an account of a trip through the Great West, and
a very entertaining book it was.  But one of the heavy critics got
hold of it, and made Mandeville appear, even to himself, he
confessed, like an ass, because there was nothing in the volume about
geology or mining prospects, and very little to instruct the student
of physical geography.  With alternate sarcasm and ridicule, he
literally basted the author, till Mandeville said that he felt almost
like a depraved scoundrel, and thought he should be held up to less
execration if he had committed a neat and scientific murder.

But I confess that I have a good deal of sympathy with the critics.
Consider what these public tasters have to endure!  None of us, I
fancy, would like to be compelled to read all that they read, or to
take into our mouths, even with the privilege of speedily ejecting it
with a grimace, all that they sip.  The critics of the vintage, who
pursue their calling in the dark vaults and amid mouldy casks, give
their opinion, for the most part, only upon wine, upon juice that has
matured and ripened into development of quality.  But what crude,
unrestrained, unfermented--even raw and drugged liquor, must the
literary taster put to his unwilling lips day after day!



It was my good fortune once to visit a man who remembered the
rebellion of 1745.  Lest this confession should make me seem very
aged, I will add that the visit took place in 1851, and that the man
was then one hundred and thirteen years old.  He was quite a lad
before Dr. Johnson drank Mrs. Thrale's tea.  That he was as old as he
had the credit of being, I have the evidence of my own senses (and I
am seldom mistaken in a person's age), of his own family, and his own
word; and it is incredible that so old a person, and one so
apparently near the grave, would deceive about his age.

The testimony of the very aged is always to be received without
question, as Alexander Hamilton once learned.  He was trying a
land-title with Aaron Burr, and two of the witnesses upon whom Burr
relied were venerable Dutchmen, who had, in their youth, carried the
surveying chains over the land in dispute, and who were now aged
respectively one hundred and four years and one hundred and six
years.  Hamilton gently attempted to undervalue their testimony, but
he was instantly put down by the Dutch justice, who suggested that
Mr. Hamilton could not be aware of the age of the witnesses.

My old man (the expression seems familiar and inelegant) had indeed
an exaggerated idea of his own age, and sometimes said that he
supposed he was going on four hundred, which was true enough, in
fact; but for the exact date, he referred to his youngest son,--a
frisky and humorsome lad of eighty years, who had received us at the
gate, and whom we had at first mistaken for the veteran, his father.
But when we beheld the old man, we saw the difference between age and
age.  The latter had settled into a grizzliness and grimness which
belong to a very aged and stunted but sturdy oak-tree, upon the bark
of which the gray moss is thick and heavy.  The old man appeared hale
enough, he could walk about, his sight and hearing were not seriously
impaired, he ate with relish) and his teeth were so sound that he
would not need a dentist for at least another century; but the moss
was growing on him.  His boy of eighty seemed a green sapling beside

He remembered absolutely nothing that had taken place within thirty
years, but otherwise his mind was perhaps as good as it ever was, for
he must always have been an ignoramus, and would never know anything
if he lived to be as old as he said he was going on to be.  Why he
was interested in the rebellion of 1745 I could not discover, for he
of course did not go over to Scotland to carry a pike in it, and he
only remembered to have heard it talked about as a great event in the
Irish market-town near which he lived, and to which he had ridden
when a boy.  And he knew much more about the horse that drew him, and
the cart in which he rode, than he did about the rebellion of the

I hope I do not appear to speak harshly of this amiable old man, and
if he is still living I wish him well, although his example was bad
in some respects.  He had used tobacco for nearly a century, and the
habit has very likely been the death of him.  If so, it is to be
regretted.  For it would have been interesting to watch the process
of his gradual disintegration and return to the ground: the loss of
sense after sense, as decaying limbs fall from the oak; the failure
of discrimination, of the power of choice, and finally of memory
itself; the peaceful wearing out and passing away of body and mind
without disease, the natural running down of a man.  The interesting
fact about him at that time was that his bodily powers seemed in
sufficient vigor, but that the mind had not force enough to manifest
itself through his organs.  The complete battery was there, the
appetite was there, the acid was eating the zinc; but the electric
current was too weak to flash from the brain.  And yet he appeared so
sound throughout, that it was difficult to say that his mind was not
as good as it ever had been.  He had stored in it very little to feed
on, and any mind would get enfeebled by a century's rumination on a
hearsay idea of the rebellion of '45.

It was possible with this man to fully test one's respect for age,
which is in all civilized nations a duty.  And I found that my
feelings were mixed about him.  I discovered in him a conceit in
regard to his long sojourn on this earth, as if it were somehow a
credit to him.  In the presence of his good opinion of himself, I
could but question the real value of his continued life) to himself
or to others.  If he ever had any friends he had outlived them,
except his boy; his wives--a century of them--were all dead; the
world had actually passed away for him.  He hung on the tree like a
frost-nipped apple, which the farmer has neglected to gather.  The
world always renews itself, and remains young.  What relation had he
to it?

I was delighted to find that this old man had never voted for George
Washington.  I do not know that he had ever heard of him.  Washington
may be said to have played his part since his time.  I am not sure
that he perfectly remembered anything so recent as the American
Revolution.  He was living quietly in Ireland during our French and
Indian wars, and he did not emigrate to this country till long after
our revolutionary and our constitutional struggles were over.  The
Rebellion Of '45 was the great event of the world for him, and of
that he knew nothing.

I intend no disrespect to this man,--a cheerful and pleasant enough
old person,--but he had evidently lived himself out of the world, as
completely as people usually die out of it.  His only remaining value
was to the moralist, who might perchance make something out of him.
I suppose if he had died young, he would have been regretted, and his
friends would have lamented that he did not fill out his days in the
world, and would very likely have called him back, if tears and
prayers could have done so.  They can see now what his prolonged life
amounted to, and how the world has closed up the gap he once filled
while he still lives in it.

A great part of the unhappiness of this world consists in regret for
those who depart, as it seems to us, prematurely.  We imagine that if
they would return, the old conditions would be restored.  But would
it be so?  If they, in any case, came back, would there be any place
for them?  The world so quickly readjusts itself after any loss, that
the return of the departed would nearly always throw it, even the
circle most interested, into confusion.  Are the Enoch Ardens ever


A popular notion akin to this, that the world would have any room for
the departed if they should now and then return, is the constant
regret that people will not learn by the experience of others, that
one generation learns little from the preceding, and that youth never
will adopt the experience of age.  But if experience went for
anything, we should all come to a standstill; for there is nothing so
discouraging to effort.  Disbelief in Ecclesiastes is the mainspring
of action.  In that lies the freshness and the interest of life, and
it is the source of every endeavor.

If the boy believed that the accumulation of wealth and the
acquisition of power were what the old man says they are, the world
would very soon be stagnant.  If he believed that his chances of
obtaining either were as poor as the majority of men find them to be,
ambition would die within him.  It is because he rejects the
experience of those who have preceded him, that the world is kept in
the topsy-turvy condition which we all rejoice in, and which we call

And yet I confess I have a soft place in my heart for that rare
character in our New England life who is content with the world as he
finds it, and who does not attempt to appropriate any more of it to
himself than he absolutely needs from day to day.  He knows from the
beginning that the world could get on without him, and he has never
had any anxiety to leave any result behind him, any legacy for the
world to quarrel over.

He is really an exotic in our New England climate and society, and
his life is perpetually misunderstood by his neighbors, because he
shares none of their uneasiness about getting on in life.  He is even
called lazy, good-for-nothing, and "shiftless,"--the final stigma
that we put upon a person who has learned to wait without the
exhausting process of laboring.

I made his acquaintance last summer in the country, and I have not in
a long time been so well pleased with any of our species.  He was a
man past middle life, with a large family.  He had always been from
boyhood of a contented and placid mind, slow in his movements, slow
in his speech.  I think he never cherished a hard feeling toward
anybody, nor envied any one, least of all the rich and prosperous
about whom he liked to talk.  Indeed, his talk was a good deal about
wealth, especially about his cousin who had been down South and "got
fore-handed" within a few years.  He was genuinely pleased at his
relation's good luck, and pointed him out to me with some pride.  But
he had no envy of him, and he evinced no desire to imitate him.  I
inferred from all his conversation about "piling it up" (of which he
spoke with a gleam of enthusiasm in his eye), that there were moments
when he would like to be rich himself; but it was evident that he
would never make the least effort to be so, and I doubt if he could
even overcome that delicious inertia of mind and body called
laziness, sufficiently to inherit.

Wealth seemed to have a far and peculiar fascination for him, and I
suspect he was a visionary in the midst of his poverty.  Yet I
suppose he had--hardly the personal property which the law exempts
from execution.  He had lived in a great many towns, moving from one
to another with his growing family, by easy stages, and was always
the poorest man in the town, and lived on the most niggardly of its
rocky and bramble-grown farms, the productiveness of which he reduced
to zero in a couple of seasons by his careful neglect of culture.
The fences of his hired domain always fell into ruins under him,
perhaps because he sat on them so much, and the hovels he occupied
rotted down during his placid residence in them.  He moved from
desolation to desolation, but carried always with him the equal mind
of a philosopher.  Not even the occasional tart remarks of his wife,
about their nomadic life and his serenity in the midst of discomfort,
could ruffle his smooth spirit.

He was, in every respect, a most worthy man, truthful, honest,
temperate, and, I need not say, frugal; and he had no bad habits,--
perhaps he never had energy enough to acquire any.  Nor did he lack
the knack of the Yankee race.  He could make a shoe, or build a
house, or doctor a cow; but it never seemed to him, in this brief
existence, worth while to do any of these things.  He was an
excellent angler, but he rarely fished; partly because of the
shortness of days, partly on account of the uncertainty of bites, but
principally because the trout brooks were all arranged lengthwise and
ran over so much ground.  But no man liked to look at a string of
trout better than he did, and he was willing to sit down in a sunny
place and talk about trout-fishing half a day at a time, and he would
talk pleasantly and well too, though his wife might be continually
interrupting him by a call for firewood.

I should not do justice to his own idea of himself if I did not add
that he was most respectably connected, and that he had a justifiable
though feeble pride in his family.  It helped his self-respect, which
no ignoble circumstances could destroy.  He was, as must appear by
this time, a most intelligent man, and he was a well-informed man;
that is to say, he read the weekly newspapers when he could get them,
and he had the average country information about Beecher and Greeley
and the Prussian war (" Napoleon is gettin' on't, ain't he?"), and
the general prospect of the election campaigns.  Indeed, he was
warmly, or rather luke-warmly, interested in politics.  He liked to
talk about the inflated currency, and it seemed plain to him that his
condition would somehow be improved if we could get to a specie
basis.  He was, in fact, a little troubled by the national debt; it
seemed to press on him somehow, while his own never did.  He
exhibited more animation over the affairs of the government than he
did over his own,--an evidence at once of his disinterestedness and
his patriotism.  He had been an old abolitionist, and was strong on
the rights of free labor, though he did not care to exercise his
privilege much.  Of course he had the proper contempt for the poor
whites down South.  I never saw a person with more correct notions on
such a variety of subjects.  He was perfectly willing that churches
(being himself a member), and Sunday-schools, and missionary
enterprises should go on; in fact, I do not believe he ever opposed
anything in his life.  No one was more willing to vote town taxes and
road-repairs and schoolhouses than he.  If you could call him
spirited at all, he was public-spirited.

And with all this he was never very well; he had, from boyhood,
"enjoyed poor health."  You would say he was not a man who would ever
catch anything, not even an epidemic; but he was a person whom
diseases would be likely to overtake, even the slowest of slow
fevers.  And he was n't a man to shake off anything.  And yet
sickness seemed to trouble him no more than poverty.  He was not
discontented; he never grumbled.  I am not sure but he relished a
"spell of sickness" in haying-time.

An admirably balanced man, who accepts the world as it is, and
evidently lives on the experience of others.  I have never seen a man
with less envy, or more cheerfulness, or so contented with as little
reason for being so.  The only drawback to his future is that rest
beyond the grave will not be much change for him, and he has no works
to follow him.


This Yankee philosopher, who, without being a Brahmin, had, in an
uncongenial atmosphere, reached the perfect condition of Nirvina,
reminded us all of the ancient sages; and we queried whether a world
that could produce such as he, and could, beside, lengthen a man's
years to one hundred and thirteen, could fairly be called an old and
worn-out world, having long passed the stage of its primeval poetry
and simplicity.  Many an Eastern dervish has, I think, got
immortality upon less laziness and resignation than this temporary
sojourner in Massachusetts.  It is a common notion that the world
(meaning the people in it) has become tame and commonplace, lost its
primeval freshness and epigrammatic point.  Mandeville, in his
argumentative way, dissents from this entirely.  He says that the
world is more complex, varied, and a thousand times as interesting as
it was in what we call its youth, and that it is as fresh, as
individual and capable of producing odd and eccentric characters as
ever.  He thought the creative vim had not in any degree abated, that
both the types of men and of nations are as sharply stamped and
defined as ever they were.

Was there ever, he said, in the past, any figure more clearly cut and
freshly minted than the Yankee?  Had the Old World anything to show
more positive and uncompromising in all the elements of character
than the Englishman?  And if the edges of these were being rounded
off, was there not developing in the extreme West a type of men
different from all preceding, which the world could not yet define?
He believed that the production of original types was simply

Herbert urged that he must at least admit that there was a freshness
of legend and poetry in what we call the primeval peoples that is
wanting now; the mythic period is gone, at any rate.

Mandeville could not say about the myths.  We couldn't tell what
interpretation succeeding ages would put upon our lives and history
and literature when they have become remote and shadowy.  But we need
not go to antiquity for epigrammatic wisdom, or for characters as
racy of the fresh earth as those handed down to us from the dawn of
history.  He would put Benjamin Franklin against any of the sages of
the mythic or the classic period.  He would have been perfectly at
home in ancient Athens, as Socrates would have been in modern Boston.
There might have been more heroic characters at the siege of Troy
than Abraham Lincoln, but there was not one more strongly marked
individually; not one his superior in what we call primeval craft and
humor.  He was just the man, if he could not have dislodged Priam by
a writ of ejectment, to have invented the wooden horse, and then to
have made Paris the hero of some ridiculous story that would have set
all Asia in a roar.

Mandeville said further, that as to poetry, he did not know much
about that, and there was not much he cared to read except parts of
Shakespeare and Homer, and passages of Milton.  But it did seem to
him that we had men nowadays, who could, if they would give their
minds to it, manufacture in quantity the same sort of epigrammatic
sayings and legends that our scholars were digging out of the Orient.
He did not know why Emerson in antique setting was not as good as
Saadi.  Take for instance, said Mandeville, such a legend as this,
and how easy it would be to make others like it:

The son of an Emir had red hair, of which he was ashamed, and wished
to dye it.  But his father said: "Nay, my son, rather behave in such
a manner that all fathers shall wish their sons had red hair."

This was too absurd.  Mandeville had gone too far, except in the
opinion of Our Next Door, who declared that an imitation was just as
good as an original, if you could not detect it.  But Herbert said
that the closer an imitation is to an original, the more unendurable
it is.  But nobody could tell exactly why.

The Fire-Tender said that we are imposed on by forms.  The nuggets of
wisdom that are dug out of the Oriental and remote literatures would
often prove to be only commonplace if stripped of their quaint
setting.  If you gave an Oriental twist to some of our modern
thought, its value would be greatly enhanced for many people.

I have seen those, said the Mistress, who seem to prefer dried fruit
to fresh; but I like the strawberry and the peach of each season, and
for me the last is always the best.

Even the Parson admitted that there were no signs of fatigue or decay
in the creative energy of the world; and if it is a question of
Pagans, he preferred Mandeville to Saadi.


It happened, or rather, to tell the truth, it was contrived,--for I
have waited too long for things to turn up to have much faith in
"happen," that we who have sat by this hearthstone before should all
be together on Christmas eve.  There was a splendid backlog of
hickory just beginning to burn with a glow that promised to grow more
fiery till long past midnight, which would have needed no apology in
a loggers' camp,--not so much as the religion of which a lady (in a
city which shall be nameless) said, "If you must have a religion,
this one will do nicely."

There was not much conversation, as is apt to be the case when people
come together who have a great deal to say, and are intimate enough
to permit the freedom of silence.  It was Mandeville who suggested
that we read something, and the Young Lady, who was in a mood to
enjoy her own thoughts, said, "Do."  And finally it came about that
the Fire Tender, without more resistance to the urging than was
becoming, went to his library, and returned with a manuscript, from
which he read the story of


Not that it is my uncle, let me explain.  It is Polly's uncle, as I
very well know, from the many times she has thrown him up to me, and
is liable so to do at any moment.  Having small expectations myself,
and having wedded Polly when they were smaller, I have come to feel
the full force, the crushing weight, of her lightest remark about "My
Uncle in India."  The words as I write them convey no idea of the
tone in which they fall upon my ears.  I think it is the only fault
of that estimable woman, that she has an "uncle in India" and does
not let him quietly remain there.  I feel quite sure that if I had an
uncle in Botany Bay, I should never, never throw him up to Polly in
the way mentioned.  If there is any jar in our quiet life, he is the
cause of it; all along of possible "expectations" on the one side
calculated to overawe the other side not having expectations.  And
yet I know that if her uncle in India were this night to roll a
barrel of "India's golden sands," as I feel that he any moment may
do, into our sitting-room, at Polly's feet, that charming wife, who
is more generous than the month of May, and who has no thought but
for my comfort in two worlds, would straightway make it over to me,
to have and to hold, if I could lift it, forever and forever.  And
that makes it more inexplicable that she, being a woman, will
continue to mention him in the way she does.

In a large and general way I regard uncles as not out of place in
this transitory state of existence.  They stand for a great many
possible advantages.  They are liable to "tip" you at school, they
are resources in vacation, they come grandly in play about the
holidays, at which season mv heart always did warm towards them with
lively expectations, which were often turned into golden solidities;
and then there is always the prospect, sad to a sensitive mind, that
uncles are mortal, and, in their timely taking off, may prove as
generous in the will as they were in the deed.  And there is always
this redeeming possibility in a niggardly uncle.  Still there must be
something wrong in the character of the uncle per se, or all history
would not agree that nepotism is such a dreadful thing.

But, to return from this unnecessary digression, I am reminded that
the charioteer of the patient year has brought round the holiday
time.  It has been a growing year, as most years are.  It is very
pleasant to see how the shrubs in our little patch of ground widen
and thicken and bloom at the right time, and to know that the great
trees have added a laver to their trunks.  To be sure, our garden,--
which I planted under Polly's directions, with seeds that must have
been patented, and I forgot to buy the right of, for they are mostly
still waiting the final resurrection,--gave evidence that it shared
in the misfortune of the Fall, and was never an Eden from which one
would have required to have been driven.  It was the easiest garden
to keep the neighbor's pigs and hens out of I ever saw.  If its
increase was small its temptations were smaller, and that is no
little recommendation in this world of temptations.  But, as a
general thing, everything has grown, except our house.  That little
cottage, over which Polly presides with grace enough to adorn a
palace, is still small outside and smaller inside; and if it has an
air of comfort and of neatness, and its rooms are cozy and sunny by
day and cheerful by night, and it is bursting with books, and not
unattractive with modest pictures on the walls, which we think do
well enough until my uncle--(but never mind my uncle, now),--and if,
in the long winter evenings, when the largest lamp is lit, and the
chestnuts glow in embers, and the kid turns on the spit, and the
house-plants are green and flowering, and the ivy glistens in the
firelight, and Polly sits with that contented, far-away look in her
eyes that I like to see, her fingers busy upon one of those cruel
mysteries which have delighted the sex since Penelope, and I read in
one of my fascinating law-books, or perhaps regale ourselves with a
taste of Montaigne,--if all this is true, there are times when the
cottage seems small; though I can never find that Polly thinks so,
except when she sometimes says that she does not know where she
should bestow her uncle in it, if he should suddenly come back from

There it is, again.  I sometimes think that my wife believes her
uncle in India to be as large as two ordinary men; and if her ideas
of him are any gauge of the reality, there is no place in the town
large enough for him except the Town Hall.  She probably expects him
to come with his bungalow, and his sedan, and his palanquin, and his
elephants, and his retinue of servants, and his principalities, and
his powers, and his ha--(no, not that), and his chowchow, and his--I
scarcely know what besides.

Christmas eve was a shiny cold night, a creaking cold night, a
placid, calm, swingeing cold night.

Out-doors had gone into a general state of crystallization.  The
snow-fields were like the vast Arctic ice-fields that Kane looked on,
and lay sparkling under the moonlight, crisp and Christmasy, and all
the crystals on the trees and bushes hung glistening, as if ready, at
a breath of air, to break out into metallic ringing, like a million
silver joy-bells.  I mentioned the conceit to Polly, as we stood at
the window, and she said it reminded her of Jean Paul.  She is a
woman of most remarkable discernment.

Christmas is a great festival at our house in a small way.  Among the
many delightful customs we did not inherit from our Pilgrim Fathers,
there is none so pleasant as that of giving presents at this season.
It is the most exciting time of the year.  No one is too rich to
receive something, and no one too poor to give a trifle.  And in the
act of giving and receiving these tokens of regard, all the world is
kin for once, and brighter for this transient glow of generosity.
Delightful custom!  Hard is the lot of childhood that knows nothing
of the visits of Kriss Kringle, or the stockings hung by the chimney
at night; and cheerless is any age that is not brightened by some
Christmas gift, however humble.  What a mystery of preparation there
is in the preceding days, what planning and plottings of surprises!
Polly and I keep up the custom in our simple way, and great is the
perplexity to express the greatest amount of affection with a limited
outlay.  For the excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness
rather than in its value.  As we stood by the window that night, we
wondered what we should receive this year, and indulged in I know not
what little hypocrisies and deceptions.

I wish, said Polly, "that my uncle in India would send me a
camel's-hair shawl, or a string of pearls, each as big as the end of
my thumb."

"Or a white cow, which would give golden milk, that would make butter
worth seventy-five cents a pound," I added, as we drew the curtains,
and turned to our chairs before the open fire.

It is our custom on every Christmas eve--as I believe I have
somewhere said, or if I have not, I say it again, as the member from
Erin might remark--to read one of Dickens's Christmas stories.  And
this night, after punching the fire until it sent showers of sparks
up the chimney, I read the opening chapter of "Mrs. Lirriper's
Lodgings," in my best manner, and handed the book to Polly to
continue; for I do not so much relish reading aloud the succeeding
stories of Mr. Dickens's annual budget, since he wrote them, as men
go to war in these days, by substitute.  And Polly read on, in her
melodious voice, which is almost as pleasant to me as the Wasser-
fluth of Schubert, which she often plays at twilight; and I looked
into the fire, unconsciously constructing stories of my own out of
the embers.  And her voice still went on, in a sort of running
accompaniment to my airy or fiery fancies.

"Sleep?" said Polly, stopping, with what seemed to me a sort of
crash, in which all the castles tumbled into ashes.

"Not in the least," I answered brightly never heard anything more
agreeable."  And the reading flowed on and on and on, and I looked
steadily into the fire, the fire, fire, fi....

Suddenly the door opened, and into our cozy parlor walked the most
venerable personage I ever laid eyes on, who saluted me with great
dignity.  Summer seemed to have burst into the room, and I was
conscious of a puff of Oriental airs, and a delightful, languid
tranquillity.  I was not surprised that the figure before me was clad
in full turban, baggy drawers, and a long loose robe, girt about the
middle with a rich shawl.  Followed him a swart attendant, who
hastened to spread a rug upon which my visitor sat down, with great
gravity, as I am informed they do in farthest Ind.  The slave then
filled the bowl of a long-stemmed chibouk, and, handing it to his
master, retired behind him and began to fan him with the most
prodigious palm-leaf I ever saw.  Soon the fumes of the delicate
tobacco of Persia pervaded the room, like some costly aroma which you
cannot buy, now the entertainment of the Arabian Nights is

Looking through the window I saw, if I saw anything, a palanquin at
our door, and attendant on it four dusky, half-naked bearers, who did
not seem to fancy the splendor of the night, for they jumped about on
the snow crust, and I could see them shiver and shake in the keen
air.  Oho!  thought!, this, then, is my uncle from India!

"Yes, it is," now spoke my visitor extraordinary, in a gruff, harsh

"I think I have heard Polly speak of you," I rejoined, in an attempt
to be civil, for I did n't like his face any better than I did his
voice,--a red, fiery, irascible kind of face.

"Yes I've come over to O Lord,--quick, Jamsetzee, lift up that foot,-
-take care.  There, Mr.  Trimings, if that's your name, get me a
glass of brandy, stiff."

I got him our little apothecary-labeled bottle and poured out enough
to preserve a whole can of peaches.  My uncle took it down without a
wink, as if it had been water, and seemed relieved.  It was a very
pleasant uncle to have at our fireside on Christmas eve, I felt.

At a motion from my uncle, Jamsetzee handed me a parcel which I saw
was directed to Polly, which I untied, and lo!  the most wonderful
camel's-hair shawl that ever was, so fine that I immediately drew it
through my finger-ring, and so large that I saw it would entirely
cover our little room if I spread it out; a dingy red color, but
splendid in appearance from the little white hieroglyphic worked in
one corner, which is always worn outside, to show that it cost nobody
knows how many thousands of dollars.

"A Christmas trifle for Polly.  I have come home--as I was saying
when that confounded twinge took me--to settle down; and I intend to
make Polly my heir, and live at my ease and enjoy life.  Move that
leg a little, Jamsetzee."

I meekly replied that I had no doubt Polly would be delighted to see
her dear uncle, and as for inheriting, if it came to that, I did n't
know any one with a greater capacity for that than she.

"That depends," said the gruff old smoker, "how I like ye.  A
fortune, scraped up in forty years in Ingy, ain't to be thrown away
in a minute.  But what a house this is to live in!"; the
uncomfortable old relative went on, throwing a contemptuous glance
round the humble cottage.  "Is this all of it?"

"In the winter it is all of it," I said, flushing up; but in the
summer, when the doors and windows are open, it is as large as
anybody's house.  And," I went on, with some warmth, "it was large
enough just before you came in, and pleasant enough.  And besides, I
said, rising into indignation, "you can not get anything much better
in this city short of eight hundred dollars a year, payable first
days of January, April, July, and October, in advance, and my

"Hang your salary, and confound your impudence and your seven-by-nine
hovel!  Do you think you have anything to say about the use of my
money, scraped up in forty years in Ingy?  THINGS HAVE GOT TO BE
CHANGED!" he burst out, in a voice that rattled the glasses on the

I should think they were.  Even as I looked into the little fireplace
it enlarged, and there was an enormous grate, level with the floor,
glowing with seacoal; and a magnificent mantel carved in oak, old and
brown; and over it hung a landscape, wide, deep, summer in the
foreground with all the gorgeous coloring of the tropics, and beyond
hills of blue and far mountains lying in rosy light.  I held my
breath as I looked down the marvelous perspective.  Looking round for
a second, I caught a glimpse of a Hindoo at each window, who vanished
as if they had been whisked off by enchantment; and the close walls
that shut us in fled away.  Had cohesion and gravitation given out?
Was it the "Great Consummation" of the year 18-?  It was all like the
swift transformation of a dream, and I pinched my arm to make sure
that I was not the subject of some diablerie.

The little house was gone; but that I scarcely minded, for I had
suddenly come into possession of my wife's castle in Spain.  I sat in
a spacious, lofty apartment, furnished with a princely magnificence.
Rare pictures adorned the walls, statues looked down from deep
niches, and over both the dark ivy of England ran and drooped in
graceful luxuriance.  Upon the heavy tables were costly, illuminated
volumes; luxurious chairs and ottomans invited to easy rest; and upon
the ceiling Aurora led forth all the flower-strewing daughters of the
dawn in brilliant frescoes.  Through the open doors my eyes wandered
into magnificent apartment after apartment.  There to the south,
through folding-doors, was the splendid library, with groined roof,
colored light streaming in through painted windows, high shelves
stowed with books, old armor hanging on the walls, great carved oaken
chairs about a solid oaken table, and beyond a conservatory of
flowers and plants with a fountain springing in the center, the
splashing of whose waters I could hear.  Through the open windows I
looked upon a lawn, green with close-shaven turf, set with ancient
trees, and variegated with parterres of summer plants in bloom.  It
was the month of June, and the smell of roses was in the air.

I might have thought it only a freak of my fancy, but there by the
fireplace sat a stout, red-faced, puffy-looking man, in the ordinary
dress of an English gentleman, whom I had no difficulty in
recognizing as my uncle from India.

"One wants a fire every day in the year in this confounded climate,"
remarked that amiable old person, addressing no one in particular.

I had it on my lips to suggest that I trusted the day would come when
he would have heat enough to satisfy him, in permanent supply.  I
wish now that I had.

I think things had changed.  For now into this apartment, full of the
morning sunshine, came sweeping with the air of a countess born, and
a maid of honor bred, and a queen in expectancy, my Polly, stepping
with that lofty grace which I always knew she possessed, but which
she never had space to exhibit in our little cottage, dressed with
that elegance and richness that I should not have deemed possible to
the most Dutch duchess that ever lived, and, giving me a complacent
nod of recognition, approached her uncle, and said in her smiling,
cheery way, "How is the dear uncle this morning?"  And, as she spoke,
she actually bent down and kissed his horrid old cheek, red-hot with
currie and brandy and all the biting pickles I can neither eat nor
name, kissed him, and I did not turn into stone.

"Comfortable as the weather will permit, my darling!"--and again I
did not turn into stone.

"Wouldn't uncle like to take a drive this charming morning?" Polly

Uncle finally grunted out his willingness, and Polly swept away again
to prepare for the drive, taking no more notice of me than if I had
been a poor assistant office lawyer on a salary.  And soon the
carriage was at the door, and my uncle, bundled up like a mummy, and
the charming Polly drove gayly away.

How pleasant it is to be married rich, I thought, as I arose and
strolled into the library, where everything was elegant and prim and
neat, with no scraps of paper and piles of newspapers or evidences of
literary slovenness on the table, and no books in attractive
disorder, and where I seemed to see the legend staring at me from all
the walls, "No smoking."  So I uneasily lounged out of the house.
And a magnificent house it was, a palace, rather, that seemed to
frown upon and bully insignificant me with its splendor, as I walked
away from it towards town.

And why town?  There was no use of doing anything at the dingy
office.  Eight hundred dollars a year!  It wouldn't keep Polly in
gloves, let alone dressing her for one of those fashionable
entertainments to which we went night after night.  And so, after a
weary day with nothing in it, I went home to dinner, to find my uncle
quite chirruped up with his drive, and Polly regnant, sublimely
engrossed in her new world of splendor, a dazzling object of
admiration to me, but attentive and even tender to that
hypochondriacal, gouty old subject from India.

Yes, a magnificent dinner, with no end of servants, who seemed to
know that I couldn't have paid the wages of one of them, and plate
and courses endless.  I say, a miserable dinner, on the edge of which
seemed to sit by permission of somebody, like an invited poor
relation, who wishes he had sent a regret, and longing for some of
those nice little dishes that Polly used to set before me with
beaming face, in the dear old days.

And after dinner, and proper attention to the comfort for the night
of our benefactor, there was the Blibgims's party.  No long,
confidential interviews, as heretofore, as to what she should wear
and what I should wear, and whether it would do to wear it again.
And Polly went in one coach, and I in another.  No crowding into the
hired hack, with all the delightful care about tumbling dresses, and
getting there in good order; and no coming home together to our
little cozy cottage, in a pleasant, excited state of "flutteration,"
and sitting down to talk it all over, and "Was n't it nice?" and "Did
I look as well as anybody?" and "Of course you did to me," and all
that nonsense.  We lived in a grand way now, and had our separate
establishments and separate plans, and I used to think that a real
separation couldn't make matters much different.  Not that Polly
meant to be any different, or was, at heart; but, you know, she was
so much absorbed in her new life of splendor, and perhaps I was a
little old-fashioned.

I don't wonder at it now, as I look back.  There was an army of
dressmakers to see, and a world of shopping to do, and a houseful of
servants to manage, and all the afternoon for calls, and her dear,
dear friend, with the artless manners and merry heart of a girl, and
the dignity and grace of a noble woman, the dear friend who lived in
the house of the Seven Gables, to consult about all manner of im-
portant things.  I could not, upon my honor, see that there was any
place for me, and I went my own way, not that there was much comfort
in it.

And then I would rather have had charge of a hospital ward than take
care of that uncle.  Such coddling as he needed, such humoring of
whims.  And I am bound to say that Polly could n't have been more
dutiful to him if he had been a Hindoo idol.  She read to him and
talked to him, and sat by him with her embroidery, and was patient
with his crossness, and wearied herself, that I could see, with her
devoted ministrations.

I fancied sometimes she was tired of it, and longed for the old
homely simplicity.  I was.  Nepotism had no charms for me.  There was
nothing that I could get Polly that she had not.  I could surprise
her with no little delicacies or trifles, delightedly bought with
money saved for the purpose.  There was no more coming home weary
with office work and being met at the door with that warm, loving
welcome which the King of England could not buy.  There was no long
evening when we read alternately from some favorite book, or laid our
deep housekeeping plans, rejoiced in a good bargain or made light of
a poor one, and were contented and merry with little.  I recalled
with longing my little den, where in the midst of the literary
disorder I love, I wrote those stories for the "Antarctic" which
Polly, if nobody else, liked to read.  There was no comfort for me in
my magnificent library.  We were all rich and in splendor, and our
uncle had come from India.  I wished, saving his soul, that the ship
that brought him over had foundered off Barnegat Light.  It would
always have been a tender and regretful memory to both of us.  And
how sacred is the memory of such a loss!

Christmas?  What delight could I have in long solicitude and
ingenious devices touching a gift for Polly within my means, and
hitting the border line between her necessities and her extravagant
fancy?  A drove of white elephants would n't have been good enough
for her now, if each one carried a castle on his back.

"--and so they were married, and in their snug cottage lived happy
ever after."--It was Polly's voice, as she closed the book.

"There, I don't believe you have heard a word of it," she said half

"Oh, yes, I have," I cried, starting up and giving the fire a jab
with the poker; "I heard every word of it, except a few at the close
I was thinking"--I stopped, and looked round.

"Why, Polly, where is the camel's-hair shawl?"

"Camel's-hair fiddlestick!  Now I know you have been asleep for an

And, sure enough, there was n't anv camel's-hair shawl there, nor any
uncle, nor were there any Hindoos at our windows.

And then I told Polly all about it; how her uncle came back, and we
were rich and lived in a palace and had no end of money, but she
didn't seem to have time to love me in it all, and all the comfort of
the little house was blown away as by the winter wind.  And Polly
vowed, half in tears, that she hoped her uncle never would come back,
and she wanted nothing that we had not, and she wouldn't exchange our
independent comfort and snug house, no, not for anybody's mansion.
And then and there we made it all up, in a manner too particular for
me to mention; and I never, to this day, heard Polly allude to My
Uncle in India.

And then, as the clock struck eleven, we each produced from the place
where we had hidden them the modest Christmas gifts we had prepared
for each other, and what surprise there was!  "Just the thing I
needed."  And, "It's perfectly lovely."  And, "You should n't have
done it."  And, then, a question I never will answer, "Ten?  fifteen?
five?  twelve?" "My dear, it cost eight hundred dollars, for I have
put my whole year into it, and I wish it was a thousand times

And so, when the great iron tongue of the city bell swept over the
snow the twelve strokes that announced Christmas day, if there was
anywhere a happier home than ours, I am glad of it!




It would be unfair to hold you responsible for these light sketches
of a summer trip, which are now gathered into this little volume in
response to the usual demand in such cases; yet you cannot escape
altogether.  For it was you who first taught me to say the name
Baddeck; it was you who showed me its position on the map, and a
seductive letter from a home missionary on Cape Breton Island, in
relation to the abundance of trout and salmon in his field of labor.
That missionary, you may remember, we never found, nor did we see his
tackle; but I have no reason to believe that he does not enjoy good
fishing in the right season.  You understand the duties of a home
missionary much better than I do, and you know whether he would be
likely to let a couple of strangers into the best part of his

But I am free to admit that after our expedition was started you
speedily relieved yourself of all responsibility for it, and turned
it over to your comrade with a profound geographical indifference;
you would as readily have gone to Baddeck by Nova Zembla as by Nova
Scotia.  The flight over the latter island was, you knew, however, no
part of our original plan, and you were not obliged to take any
interest in it.  You know that our design was to slip rapidly down,
by the back way of Northumberland Sound, to the Bras d'Or, and spend
a week fishing there; and that the greater part of this journey here
imperfectly described is not really ours, but was put upon us by fate
and by the peculiar arrangement of provincial travel.

It would have been easy after our return to have made up from
libraries a most engaging description of the Provinces, mixing it
with historical, legendary, botanical, geographical, and ethnological
information, and seasoning it with adventure from your glowing
imagination.  But it seemed to me that it would be a more honest
contribution if our account contained only what we saw, in our rapid
travel; for I have a theory that any addition to the great body of
print, however insignificant it may be, has a value in proportion to
its originality and individuality,--however slight either is,--and
very little value if it is a compilation of the observations of
others.  In this case I know how slight the value is; and I can only
hope that as the trip was very entertaining to us, the record of it
may not be wholly unentertaining to those of like tastes.

Of one thing, my dear friend, I am certain: if the readers of this
little journey could have during its persual the companionship that
the writer had when it was made, they would think it altogether
delightful.  There is no pleasure comparable to that of going about
the world, in pleasant weather, with a good comrade, if the mind is
distracted neither by care, nor ambition, nor the greed of gain.  The
delight there is in seeing things, without any hope of pecuniary
profit from them!  We certainly enjoyed that inward peace which the
philosopher associates with the absence of desire for money.  For, as
Plato says in the Phaedo, "whence come wars and fightings and
factions?  whence but from the body and the lusts of the body?  For
wars are occasioned by the love of money."  So also are the majority
of the anxieties of life.  We left these behind when we went into the
Provinces with no design of acquiring anything there.  I hope it may
be my fortune to travel further with you in this fair world, under
similar circumstances.

NOOK FARM, HARTFORD, April 10, 1874.

C.  D.  W.


Ay, now I am in Arden: the more fool I; when I was at home,
I was in a better place; but travellers must be content."--

Two comrades and travelers, who sought a better country than the
United States in the month of August, found themselves one
evening in apparent possession of the ancient town of Boston.

The shops were closed at early candle-light; the fashionable
inhabitants had retired into the country, or into the
second-story-back, of their princely residences, and even an air of
tender gloom settled upon the Common.  The streets were almost empty,
and one passed into the burnt district, where the scarred ruins and
the uplifting piles of new brick and stone spread abroad under the
flooding light of a full moon like another Pompeii, without any
increase in his feeling of tranquil seclusion.  Even the news-offices
had put up their shutters, and a confiding stranger could nowhere buy
a guide-book to help his wandering feet about the reposeful city, or
to show him how to get out of it.  There was, to be sure, a cheerful
tinkle of horse-car bells in the air, and in the creeping vehicles
which created this levity of sound were a few lonesome passengers on
their way to Scollay's Square; but the two travelers, not having
well-regulated minds, had no desire to go there.  What would have
become of Boston if the great fire had reached this sacred point of
pilg-rimage no merely human mind can imagine.  Without it, I suppose
the horse-cars would go continually round and round, never stopping,
until the cars fell away piecemeal on the track, and the horses
collapsed into a mere mass of bones and harness, and the brown-
covered books from the Public Library, in the hands of the fading
virgins who carried them, had accumulated fines to an incalculable

Boston) notwithstanding its partial destruction by fire, is still a
good place to start from.  When one meditates an excursion into an
unknown and perhaps perilous land, where the flag will not protect
him and the greenback will only partially support him, he likes to
steady and tranquilize his mind by a peaceful halt and a serene
start.  So we--for the intelligent reader has already identified us
with the two travelers resolved to spend the last night, before
beginning our journey, in the quiet of a Boston hotel.  Some people
go into the country for quiet: we knew better.  The country is no
place for sleep.  The general absence of sound which prevails at
night is only a sort of background which brings out more vividly the
special and unexpected disturbances which are suddenly sprung upon
the restless listener.  There are a thousand pokerish noises that no
one can account for, which excite the nerves to acute watchfulness.

It is still early, and one is beginning to be lulled by the frogs and
the crickets, when the faint rattle of a drum is heard,--just a few
preliminary taps.  But the soul takes alarm, and well it may, for a
roll follows, and then a rub-a-dub-dub, and the farmer's boy who is
handling the sticks and pounding the distended skin in a neighboring
horse-shed begins to pour out his patriotism in that unending
repetition of rub-a-dub-dub which is supposed to represent love of
country in the young.  When the boy is tired out and quits the field,
the faithful watch-dog opens out upon the stilly night.  He is the
guardian of his master's slumbers.  The howls of the faithful
creature are answered by barks and yelps from all the farmhouses for
a mile around, and exceedingly poor barking it usually is, until all
the serenity of the night is torn to shreds.  This is, however, only
the opening of the orchestra.  The cocks wake up if there is the
faintest moonshine and begin an antiphonal service between responsive
barn-yards.  It is not the clear clarion of chanticleer that is heard
in the morn of English poetry, but a harsh chorus of cracked voices,
hoarse and abortive attempts, squawks of young experimenters, and
some indescribable thing besides, for I believe even the hens crow in
these days.  Distracting as all this is, however, happy is the man
who does not hear a goat lamenting in the night.  The goat is the
most exasperating of the animal creation.  He cries like a deserted
baby, but he does it without any regularity.  One can accustom
himself to any expression of suffering that is regular.  The
annoyance of the goat is in the dreadful waiting for the uncertain
sound of the next wavering bleat.  It is the fearful expectation of
that, mingled with the faint hope that the last was the last, that
ag-gravates the tossing listener until he has murder in his heart.
He longs for daylight, hoping that the voices of the night will then
cease, and that sleep will come with the blessed morning.  But he has
forgotten the birds, who at the first streak of gray in the east have
assembled in the trees near his chamber-window, and keep up for an
hour the most rasping dissonance,--an orchestra in which each artist
is tuning his instrument, setting it in a different key and to play a
different tune: each bird recalls a different tune, and none sings
"Annie Laurie,"--to pervert Bayard Taylor's song.

Give us the quiet of a city on the night before a journey.  As we
mounted skyward in our hotel, and went to bed in a serene altitude,
we congratulated ourselves upon a reposeful night.  It began well.
But as we sank into the first doze, we were startled by a sudden
crash.  Was it an earthquake, or another fire?  Were the neighboring
buildings all tumbling in upon us, or had a bomb fallen into the
neighboring crockery-store?  It was the suddenness of the onset that
startled us, for we soon perceived that it began with the clash of
cymbals, the pounding of drums, and the blaring of dreadful brass.
It was somebody's idea of music.  It opened without warning.  The men
composing the band of brass must have stolen silently into the alley
about the sleeping hotel, and burst into the clamor of a rattling
quickstep, on purpose.  The horrible sound thus suddenly let loose
had no chance of escape; it bounded back from wall to wall, like the
clapping of boards in a tunnel, rattling windows and stunning all
cars, in a vain attempt to get out over the roofs.  But such music
does not go up.  What could have been the intention of this assault
we could not conjecture.  It was a time of profound peace through the
country; we had ordered no spontaneous serenade, if it was a
serenade.  Perhaps the Boston bands have that habit of going into an
alley and disciplining their nerves by letting out a tune too big for
the alley, and taking the shock of its reverberation.  It may be well
enough for the band, but many a poor sinner in the hotel that night
must have thought the judgment day had sprung upon him.  Perhaps the
band had some remorse, for by and by it leaked out of the alley, in
humble, apologetic retreat, as if somebody had thrown something at it
from the sixth-story window, softly breathing as it retired the notes
of "Fair Harvard."

The band had scarcely departed for some other haunt of slumber and
weariness, when the notes of singing floated up that prolific alley,
like the sweet tenor voice of one bewailing the prohibitory movement;
and for an hour or more a succession of young bacchanals, who were
evidently wandering about in search of the Maine Law, lifted up their
voices in song.  Boston seems to be full of good singers; but they
will ruin their voices by this night exercise, and so the city will
cease to be attractive to travelers who would like to sleep there.
But this entertainment did not last the night out.

It stopped just before the hotel porter began to come around to rouse
the travelers who had said the night before that they wanted to be
awakened.  In all well-regulated hotels this process begins at two
o'clock and keeps up till seven.  If the porter is at all faithful,
he wakes up everybody in the house; if he is a shirk, he only rouses
the wrong people.  We treated the pounding of the porter on our door
with silent contempt.  At the next door he had better luck.  Pound,
pound.  An angry voice, "What do you want?"

"Time to take the train, sir."

"Not going to take any train."

"Ain't your name Smith?"


"Well, Smith"--

"I left no order to be called."  (Indistinct grumbling from Smith's

Porter is heard shuffling slowly off down the passage.  In a little
while he returns to Smith's door, evidently not satisfied in his
mind.  Rap, rap, rap!

"Well, what now?"

"What's your initials?  A. T.; clear out!"

And the porter shambles away again in his slippers, grumbling
something about a mistake.  The idea of waking a man up in the middle
of the night to ask him his "initials" was ridiculous enough to
banish sleep for another hour.  A person named Smith, when he
travels, should leave his initials outside the door with his boots.

Refreshed by this reposeful night, and eager to exchange the
stagnation of the shore for the tumult of the ocean, we departed next
morning for Baddeck by the most direct route.  This we found, by
diligent study of fascinating prospectuses of travel, to be by the
boats of the International Steamship Company; and when, at eight
o'clock in the morning, we stepped aboard one of them from Commercial
Wharf, we felt that half our journey and the most perplexing part of
it was accomplished.  We had put ourselves upon a great line of
travel, and had only to resign ourselves to its flow in order to
reach the desired haven.  The agent at the wharf assured us that it
was not necessary to buy through tickets to Baddeck,--he spoke of it
as if it were as easy a place to find as Swampscott,--it was a
conspicuous name on the cards of the company, we should go right on
from St. John without difficulty.  The easy familiarity of this
official with Baddeck, in short, made us ashamed to exhibit any
anxiety about its situation or the means of approach to it.
Subsequent experience led us to believe that the only man in the
world, out of Baddeck, who knew anything about it lives in Boston,
and sells tickets to it, or rather towards it.

There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of
it, when the traveler is settled simply as to his destination, and
commits himself to his unknown fate and all the anticipations of
adventure before him.  We experienced this pleasure as we ascended to
the deck of the steamboat and snuffed the fresh air of Boston Harbor.
What a beautiful harbor it is, everybody says, with its irregularly
indented shores and its islands.  Being strangers, we want to know
the names of the islands, and to have Fort Warren, which has a
national reputation, pointed out.  As usual on a steamboat, no one is
certain about the names, and the little geographical knowledge we
have is soon hopelessly confused.  We make out South Boston very
plainly : a tourist is looking at its warehouses through his opera-
glass, and telling his boy about a recent fire there.  We find out
afterwards that it was East Boston.  We pass to the stern of the boat
for a last look at Boston itself; and while there we have the
pleasure of showing inquirers the Monument and the State House.  We
do this with easy familiarity; but where there are so many tall
factory chimneys, it is not so easy to point out the Monument as one
may think.

The day is simply delicious, when we get away from the unozoned air
of the land.  The sky is cloudless, and the water sparkles like the
top of a glass of champagne.  We intend by and by to sit down and
look at it for half a day, basking in the sunshine and pleasing
ourselves with the shifting and dancing of the waves.  Now we are
busy running about from side to side to see the islands, Governor's,
Castle, Long, Deer, and the others.  When, at length, we find Fort
Warren, it is not nearly so grim and gloomy as we had expected, and
is rather a pleasure-place than a prison in appearance.  We are
conscious, however, of a patriotic emotion as we pass its green turf
and peeping guns.  Leaving on our right Lovell's Island and the Great
and Outer Brewster, we stand away north along the jagged
Massachusetts shore.  These outer islands look cold and wind-swept
even in summer, and have a hardness of outline which is very far from
the aspect of summer isles in summer seas.  They are too low and bare
for beauty, and all the coast is of the most retiring and humble
description.  Nature makes some compensation for this lowness by an
eccentricity of indentation which looks very picturesque on the map,
and sometimes striking, as where Lynn stretches out a slender arm
with knobby Nahant at the end, like a New Zealand war club.  We sit
and watch this shore as we glide by with a placid delight.  Its
curves and low promontories are getting to be speckled with villages
and dwellings, like the shores of the Bay of Naples; we see the white
spires, the summer cottages of wealth, the brown farmhouses with an
occasional orchard, the gleam of a white beach, and now and then the
flag of some many-piazzaed hotel.  The sunlight is the glory of it
all; it must have quite another attraction--that of melancholy--under
a gray sky and with a lead-colored water foreground.

There was not much on the steamboat to distract our attention from
the study of physical geography.  All the fashionable travelers had
gone on the previous boat or were waiting for the next one.  The
passengers were mostly people who belonged in the Provinces and had
the listless provincial air, with a Boston commercial traveler or
two, and a few gentlemen from the republic of Ireland, dressed in
their uncomfortable Sunday clothes.  If any accident should happen to
the boat, it was doubtful if there were persons on board who could
draw up and pass the proper resolutions of thanks to the officers.  I
heard one of these Irish gentlemen, whose satin vest was insufficient
to repress the mountainous protuberance of his shirt-bosom,
enlightening an admiring friend as to his idiosyncrasies.  It
appeared that he was that sort of a man that, if a man wanted
anything of him, he had only to speak for it "wunst;" and that one of
his peculiarities was an instant response of the deltoid muscle to
the brain, though he did not express it in that language.  He went on
to explain to his auditor that he was so constituted physically that
whenever he saw a fight, no matter whose property it was, he lost all
control of himself.  This sort of confidence poured out to a single
friend, in a retired place on the guard of the boat, in an unexcited
tone, was evidence of the man's simplicity and sincerity.  The very
act of traveling, I have noticed, seems to open a man's heart, so
that he will impart to a chance acquaintance his losses, his
diseases, his table preferences, his disappointments in love or in
politics, and his most secret hopes.  One sees everywhere this
beautiful human trait, this craving for sympathy.  There was the old
lady, in the antique bonnet and plain cotton gloves, who got aboard
the express train at a way-station on the Connecticut River Road.
She wanted to go, let us say, to Peak's Four Corners.  It seemed that
the train did not usually stop there, but it appeared afterwards that
the obliging conductor had told her to get aboard and he would let
her off at Peak's.  When she stepped into the car, in a flustered
condition, carrying her large bandbox, she began to ask all the
passengers, in turn, if this was the right train, and if it stopped
at Peak's.  The information she received was various, but the weight
of it was discouraging, and some of the passengers urged her to get
off without delay, before the train should start.  The poor woman got
off, and pretty soon came back again, sent by the conductor; but her
mind was not settled, for she repeated her questions to every person
who passed her seat, and their answers still more discomposed her.
"Sit perfectly still," said the conductor, when he came by.  "You
must get out and wait for a way train," said the passengers, who
knew.  In this confusion, the train moved off, just as the old lady
had about made up her mind to quit the car, when her distraction was
completed by the discovery that her hair trunk was not on board.  She
saw it standing on the open platform, as we passed, and after one
look of terror, and a dash at the window, she subsided into her seat,
grasping her bandbox, with a vacant look of utter despair.  Fate now
seemed to have done its worst, and she was resigned to it.  I am sure
it was no mere curiosity, but a desire to be of service, that led me
to approach her and say, "Madam, where are you going?"

"The Lord only knows," was the utterly candid ,response; but then,
forgetting everything in her last misfortune and impelled to a burst
of confidence, she began to tell me her troubles.  She informed me
that her youngest daughter was about to be married, and that all her
wedding-clothes and all her summer clothes were in that trunk; and as
she said this she gave a glance out of the window as if she hoped it
might be following her.  What would become of them all now, all brand
new, she did n't know, nor what would become of her or her daughter.
And then she told me, article by article and piece by piece, all that
that trunk contained, the very names of which had an unfamiliar sound
in a railway-car, and how many sets and pairs there were of each.  It
seemed to be a relief to the old lady to make public this catalogue
which filled all her mind; and there was a pathos in the revelation
that I cannot convey in words.  And though I am compelled, by way of
illustration, to give this incident, no bribery or torture shall ever
extract from me a statement of the contents of that hair trunk.

We were now passing Nahant, and we should have seen Longfellow's
cottage and the waves beating on the rocks before it, if we had been
near enough.  As it was, we could only faintly distinguish the
headland and note the white beach of Lynn.  The fact is, that in
travel one is almost as much dependent upon imagination and memory as
he is at home.  Somehow, we seldom get near enough to anything.  The
interest of all this coast which we had come to inspect was mainly
literary and historical.  And no country is of much interest until
legends and poetry have draped it in hues that mere nature cannot
produce.  We looked at Nahant for Longfellow's sake; we strained our
eyes to make out Marblehead on account of Whittier's ballad; we
scrutinized the entrance to Salem Harbor because a genius once sat in
its decaying custom-house and made of it a throne of the imagination.
Upon this low shore line, which lies blinking in the midday sun, the
waves of history have beaten for two centuries and a half, and
romance has had time to grow there.  Out of any of these coves might
have sailed Sir Patrick Spens "to Noroway, to Noroway,"

"They hadna sailed upon the sea
A day but barely three,

Till loud and boisterous grew the wind,
And gurly grew the sea."

The sea was anything but gurly now; it lay idle and shining in an
August holiday.  It seemed as if we could sit all day and watch the
suggestive shore and dream about it.  But we could not.  No man, and
few women, can sit all day on those little round penitential stools
that the company provide for the discomfort of their passengers.
There is no scenery in the world that can be enjoyed from one of
those stools.  And when the traveler is at sea, with the land failing
away in his horizon, and has to create his own scenery by an effort
of the imagination, these stools are no assistance to him.  The
imagination, when one is sitting, will not work unless the back is
supported.  Besides, it began to be cold; notwithstanding the shiny,
specious appearance of things, it was cold, except in a sheltered
nook or two where the sun beat.  This was nothing to be complained of
by persons who had left the parching land in order to get cool.  They
knew that there would be a wind and a draught everywhere, and that
they would be occupied nearly all the time in moving the little
stools about to get out of the wind, or out of the sun, or out of
something that is inherent in a steamboat.  Most people enjoy riding
on a steamboat, shaking and trembling and chow-chowing along in
pleasant weather out of sight of land; and they do not feel any
ennui, as may be inferred from the intense excitement which seizes
them when a poor porpoise leaps from the water half a mile away.
"Did you see the porpoise?" makes conversation for an hour.  On our
steamboat there was a man who said he saw a whale, saw him just as
plain, off to the east, come up to blow; appeared to be a young one.
I wonder where all these men come from who always see a whale.  I
never was on a sea-steamer yet that there was not one of these men.

We sailed from Boston Harbor straight for Cape Ann, and passed close
by the twin lighthouses of Thacher, so near that we could see the
lanterns and the stone gardens, and the young barbarians of Thacher
all at play; and then we bore away, straight over the trackless
Atlantic, across that part of the map where the title and the
publisher's name are usually printed, for the foreign city of St.
John.  It was after we passed these lighthouses that we did n't see
the whale, and began to regret the hard fate that took us away from a
view of the Isles of Shoals.  I am not tempted to introduce them into
this sketch, much as its surface needs their romantic color, for
truth is stronger in me than the love of giving a deceitful pleasure.
There will be nothing in this record that we did not see, or might
not have seen.  For instance, it might not be wrong to describe a
coast, a town, or an island that we passed while we were performing
our morning toilets in our staterooms.  The traveler owes a duty to
his readers, and if he is now and then too weary or too indifferent
to go out from the cabin to survey a prosperous village where a
landing is made, he has no right to cause the reader to suffer by his
indolence.  He should describe the village.

I had intended to describe the Maine coast, which is as fascinating
on the map as that of Norway.  We had all the feelings appropriate to
nearness to it, but we couldn't see it.  Before we came abreast of it
night had settled down, and there was around us only a gray and
melancholy waste of salt water.  To be sure it was a lovely night,
with a young moon in its sky,

"I saw the new moon late yestreen
Wi' the auld moon in her arms,"

and we kept an anxious lookout for the Maine hills that push so
boldly down into the sea.  At length we saw them,--faint, dusky
shadows in the horizon, looming up in an ashy color and with a most
poetical light.  We made out clearly Mt. Desert, and felt repaid for
our journey by the sight of this famous island, even at such a
distance.  I pointed out the hills to the man at the wheel, and asked
if we should go any nearer to Mt. Desert.

"Them!" said he, with the merited contempt which officials in this
country have for inquisitive travelers,--" them's Camden Hills.  You
won't see Mt. Desert till midnight, and then you won't."

One always likes to weave in a little romance with summer travel on a
steamboat; and we came aboard this one with the purpose and the
language to do so.  But there was an absolute want of material, that
would hardly be credited if we went into details.  The first meeting
of the passengers at the dinner-table revealed it.  There is a kind
of female plainness which is pathetic, and many persons can truly say
that to them it is homelike; and there are vulgarities of manner that
are interesting; and there are peculiarities, pleasant or the
reverse, which attract one's attention : but there was absolutely
nothing of this sort on our boat.  The female passengers were all
neutrals, incapable, I should say, of making any impression whatever
even under the most favorable circumstances.  They were probably
women of the Provinces, and took their neutral tint from the foggy
land they inhabit, which is neither a republic nor a monarchy, but
merely a languid expectation of something undefined.  My comrade was
disposed to resent the dearth of beauty, not only on this vessel but
throughout the Provinces generally,--a resentment that could be shown
to be unjust, for this was evidently not the season for beauty in
these lands, and it was probably a bad year for it.  Nor should an
American of the United States be forward to set up his standard of
taste in such matters; neither in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, nor
Cape Breton have I heard the inhabitants complain of the plainness of
the women.

On such a night two lovers might have been seen, but not on our boat,
leaning over the taffrail,--if that is the name of the fence around
the cabin-deck, looking at the moon in the western sky and the long
track of light in the steamer's wake with unutterable tenderness.
For the sea was perfectly smooth, so smooth as not to interfere with
the most perfect tenderness of feeling; and the vessel forged ahead
under the stars of the soft night with an adventurous freedom that
almost concealed the commercial nature of her mission.  It seemed--
this voyaging through the sparkling water, under the scintillating
heavens, this resolute pushing into the opening splendors of night--
like a pleasure trip.  "It is the witching hour of half past ten,"
said my comrade, "let us turn in."  (The reader will notice the
consideration for her feelings which has omitted the usual
description of "a sunset at sea.")

When we looked from our state-room window in the morning we saw land.
We were passing within a stone's throw of a pale-green and rather
cold-looking coast, with few trees or other evidences of fertile
soil.  Upon going out I found that we were in the harbor of Eastport.
I found also the usual tourist who had been up, shivering in his
winter overcoat, since four o'clock.  He described to me the
magnificent sunrise, and the lifting of the fog from islands and
capes, in language that made me rejoice that he had seen it.  He knew
all about the harbor.  That wooden town at the foot of it, with the
white spire, was Lubec; that wooden town we were approaching was
Eastport.  The long island stretching clear across the harbor was
Campobello.  We had been obliged to go round it, a dozen miles out of
our way, to get in, because the tide was in such a stage that we
could not enter by the Lubec Channel.  We had been obliged to enter
an American harbor by British waters.

We approached Eastport with a great deal of curiosity and
considerable respect.  It had been one of the cities of the
imagination.  Lying in the far east of our great territory, a
military and even a sort of naval station, a conspicuous name on the
map, prominent in boundary disputes and in war operations, frequent
in telegraphic dispatches,--we had imagined it a solid city, with
some Oriental, if decayed, peculiarity, a port of trade and commerce.
The tourist informed me that Eastport looked very well at a distance,
with the sun shining on its white houses.  When we landed at its
wooden dock we saw that it consisted of a few piles of lumber, a
sprinkling of small cheap houses along a sidehill, a big hotel with a
flag-staff, and a very peaceful looking arsenal.  It is doubtless a
very enterprising and deserving city, but its aspect that morning was
that of cheapness, newness, and stagnation, with no compensating
pictur-esqueness.  White paint always looks chilly under a gray sky
and on naked hills.  Even in hot August the place seemed bleak.  The
tour-ist, who went ashore with a view to breakfast, said that it
would be a good place to stay in and go a-fishing and picnicking on
Campobello Island.  It has another advantage for the wicked over
other Maine towns.  Owing to the contiguity of British territory, the
Maine Law is constantly evaded, in spirit.  The thirsty citizen or
sailor has only to step into a boat and give it a shove or two across
the narrow stream that separates the United States from Deer Island
and land, when he can ruin his breath, and return before he is

This might be a cause of war with, England, but it is not the most
serious grievance here.  The possession by the British of the island
of Campobello is an insufferable menace and impertinence.  I write
with the full knowledge of what war is.  We ought to instantly
dislodge the British from Campobello.  It entirely shuts up and
commands our harbor, one of our chief Eastern harbors and war
stations, where we keep a flag and cannon and some soldiers, and
where the customs officers look out for smuggling.  There is no way
to get into our own harbor, except in favorable conditions of the
tide, without begging the courtesy of a passage through British
waters.  Why is England permitted to stretch along down our coast in
this straggling and inquisitive manner?  She might almost as well own
Long Island.  It was impossible to prevent our cheeks mantling with
shame as we thought of this, and saw ourselves, free American
citizens, land-locked by alien soil in our own harbor.

We ought to have war, if war is necessary to possess Campobello and
Deer Islands; or else we ought to give the British Eastport.  I am
not sure but the latter would be the better course.

With this war spirit in our hearts, we sailed away into the British
waters of the Bay of Fundy, but keeping all the morning so close to
the New Brunswick shore that we could see there was nothing on it;
that is, nothing that would make one wish to land.  And yet the best
part of going to sea is keeping close to the shore, however tame it
may be, if the weather is pleasant.  A pretty bay now and then, a
rocky cove with scant foliage, a lighthouse, a rude cabin, a level
land, monotonous and without noble forests,--this was New Brunswick
as we coasted along it under the most favorable circumstances.  But
we were advancing into the Bay of Fundy; and my comrade, who had been
brought up on its high tides in the district school, was on the
lookout for this phenomenon.  The very name of Fundy is stimulating
to the imagination, amid the geographical wastes of youth, and the
young fancy reaches out to its tides with an enthusiasm that is given
only to Fingal's Cave and other pictorial wonders of the text-book.
I am sure the district schools would become what they are not now, if
the geographers would make the other parts of the globe as attractive
as the sonorous Bay of Fundy.  The recitation about that is always an
easy one; there is a lusty pleasure in the mere shouting out of the
name, as if the speaking it were an innocent sort of swearing.  From
the Bay of Fundy the rivers run uphill half the time, and the tides
are from forty to ninety feet high.  For myself, I confess that, in
my imagination, I used to see the tides of this bay go stalking into
the land like gigantic waterspouts; or, when I was better instructed,
I could see them advancing on the coast like a solid wall of masonry
eighty feet high.  "Where," we said, as we came easily, and neither
uphill nor downhill, into the pleasant harbor of St. John,---where
are the tides of our youth?"

They were probably out, for when we came to the land we walked out
upon the foot of a sloping platform that ran into the water by the
side of the piles of the dock, which stood up naked and blackened
high in the air.  It is not the purpose of this paper to describe St.
John, nor to dwell upon its picturesque situation.  As one approaches
it from the harbor it gives a promise which its rather shabby
streets, decaying houses, and steep plank sidewalks do not keep.  A
city set on a hill, with flags flying from a roof here and there, and
a few shining spires and walls glistening in the sun, always looks
well at a distance.  St. John is extravagant in the matter of
flagstaffs; almost every well-to-do citizen seems to have one on his
premises, as a sort of vent for his loyalty, I presume.  It is a good
fashion, at any rate, and its more general adoption by us would add
to the gayety of our cities when we celebrate the birthday of the
President.  St. John is built on a steep sidehill, from which it
would be in danger of sliding off, if its houses were not mortised
into the solid rock.  This makes the house-foundations secure, but
the labor of blasting out streets is considerable.  We note these
things complacently as we toil in the sun up the hill to the Victoria
Hotel, which stands well up on the backbone of the ridge, and from
the upper windows of which we have a fine view of the harbor, and of
the hill opposite, above Carleton, where there is the brokenly
truncated ruin of a round stone tower.  This tower was one of the
first things that caught our eyes as we entered the harbor.  It gave
an antique picturesqueness to the landscape which it entirely wanted
without this.  Round stone towers are not so common in this world
that we can afford to be indifferent to them.  This is called a
Martello tower, but I could not learn who built it.  I could not
understand the indifference, almost amounting to contempt, of the
citizens of St. John in regard to this their only piece of curious
antiquity.  "It is nothing but the ruins of an old fort," they said;
"you can see it as well from here as by going there."  It was, how-
ever, the one thing at St.  John I was determined to see.  But we
never got any nearer to it than the ferry-landing.  Want of time and
the vis inertia of the place were against us.  And now, as I think of
that tower and its perhaps mysterious origin, I have a longing for it
that the possession of nothing else in the Provinces could satisfy.

But it must not be forgotten that we were on our way to Baddeck; that
the whole purpose of the journey was to reach Baddeck; that St. John
was only an incident in the trip; that any information about St.
John, which is here thrown in or mercifully withheld, is entirely
gratuitous, and is not taken into account in the price the reader
pays for this volume.  But if any one wants to know what sort of a
place St. John is, we can tell him: it is the sort of a place that if
you get into it after eight o'clock on Wednesday morning, you cannot
get out of it in any direction until Thursday morning at eight
o'clock, unless you want to smuggle goods on the night train to
Bangor.  It was eleven o'clock Wednesday forenoon when we arrived at
St. John.  The Intercolonial railway train had gone to Shediac; it
had gone also on its roundabout Moncton, Missaquat River, Truro,
Stewiack, and Shubenacadie way to Halifax; the boat had gone to Digby
Gut and Annapolis to catch the train that way for Halifax; the boat
had gone up the river to Frederick, the capital.  We could go to none
of these places till the next day.  We had no desire to go to
Frederick, but we made the fact that we were cut off from it an
addition to our injury.  The people of St. John have this
peculiarity: they never start to go anywhere except early in the

The reader to whom time is nothing does not yet appreciate the
annoyance of our situation.  Our time was strictly limited.  The
active world is so constituted that it could not spare us more than
two weeks.  We must reach Baddeck Saturday night or never.  To go
home without seeing Baddeck was simply intolerable.  Had we not told
everybody that we were going to Baddeck?  Now, if we had gone to
Shediac in the train that left St. John that morning, we should have
taken the steamboat that would have carried us to Port Hawkesbury,
whence a stage connected with a steamboat on the Bras d'Or, which
(with all this profusion of relative pronouns) would land us at
Baddeck on Friday.  How many times had we been over this route on the
map and the prospectus of travel!  And now, what a delusion it
seemed!  There would not another boat leave Shediac on this route
till the following Tuesday,--quite too late for our purpose.  The
reader sees where we were, and will be prepared, if he has a map (and
any feelings), to appreciate the masterly strategy that followed.


During the pilgrimage everything does not suit the tastes of the

One seeking Baddeck, as a possession, would not like to be detained a
prisoner even in Eden,--much less in St. John, which is unlike Eden
in several important respects.  The tree of knowledge does not grow
there, for one thing; at least St. John's ignorance of Baddeck
amounts to a feature.  This encountered us everywhere.  So dense was
this ignorance, that we, whose only knowledge of the desired place
was obtained from the prospectus of travel, came to regard ourselves
as missionaries of geographical information in this dark provincial

The clerk at the Victoria was not unwilling to help us on our
journey, but if he could have had his way, we would have gone to a
place on Prince Edward Island which used to be called Bedeque, but is
now named Summerside, in the hope of attracting summer visitors.  As
to Cape Breton, he said the agent of the Intercolonial could tell us
all about that, and put us on the route.  We repaired to the agent.
The kindness of this person dwells in our memory.  He entered at once
into our longings and perplexities.  He produced his maps and time-
tables, and showed us clearly what we already knew.  The Port
Hawkesbury steamboat from Shediac for that week had gone, to be sure,
but we could take one of another line which would leave us at Pictou,
whence we could take another across to Port Hood, on Cape Breton.
This looked fair, until we showed the agent that there was no steamer
to Port Hood.

"Ah, then you can go another way.  You can take the Intercolonial
railway round to Pictou, catch the steamer for Port Hawkesbury,
connect with the steamer on the Bras d'Or, and you are all right."

So it would seem.  It was a most obliging agent; and it took us half
an hour to convince him that the train would reach Pictou half a day
too late for the steamer, that no other boat would leave Pictou for
Cape Breton that week, and that even if we could reach the Bras d'Or,
we should have no means of crossing it, except by swimming.  The
perplexed agent thereupon referred us to Mr. Brown, a shipper on the
wharf, who knew all about Cape Breton, and could tell us exactly how
to get there.  It is needless to say that a weight was taken off our
minds.  We pinned our faith to Brown, and sought him in his
warehouse.  Brown was a prompt business man, and a traveler, and
would know every route and every conveyance from Nova Scotia to Cape

Mr. Brown was not in.  He never is in.  His store is a rusty
warehouse, low and musty, piled full of boxes of soap and candles and
dried fish, with a little glass cubby in one corner, where a thin
clerk sits at a high desk, like a spider in his web.  Perhaps he is a
spider, for the cubby is swarming with flies, whose hum is the only
noise of traffic; the glass of the window-sash has not been washed
since it was put in apparently.  The clerk is not writing, and has
evidently no other use for his steel pen than spearing flies.  Brown
is out, says this young votary of commerce, and will not be in till
half past five.  We remark upon the fact that nobody ever is "in"
these dingy warehouses, wonder when the business is done, and go out
into the street to wait for Brown.

In front of the store is a dray, its horse fast-asleep, and waiting
for the revival of commerce.  The travelers note that the dray is of
a peculiar construction, the body being dropped down from the axles
so as nearly to touch the ground,--a great convenience in loading and
unloading; they propose to introduce it into their native land.  The
dray is probably waiting for the tide to come in.  In the deep slip
lie a dozen helpless vessels, coasting schooners mostly, tipped on
their beam ends in the mud, or propped up by side-pieces as if they
were built for land as well as for water.  At the end of the wharf is
a long English steamboat unloading railroad iron, which will return
to the Clyde full of Nova Scotia coal.  We sit down on the dock,
where the fresh sea-breeze comes up the harbor, watch the lazily
swinging crane on the vessel, and meditate upon the greatness of
England and the peacefulness of the drowsy after noon.  One's feeling
of rest is never complete--unless he can see somebody else at work,--
but the labor must be without haste, as it is in the Provinces.

While waiting for Brown, we had leisure to explore the shops of
King's Street, and to climb up to the grand triumphal arch which
stands on top of the hill and guards the entrance to King's Square.

Of the shops for dry-goods I have nothing to say, for they tempt the
unwary American to violate the revenue laws of his country; but he
may safely go into the book-shops.  The literature which is displayed
in the windows and on the counters has lost that freshness which it
once may have had, and is, in fact, if one must use the term, fly-
specked, like the cakes in the grocery windows on the side streets.
There are old illustrated newspapers from the States, cheap novels
from the same, and the flashy covers of the London and Edinburgh
sixpenny editions.  But this is the dull season for literature, we

It will always be matter of regret to us that we climbed up to the
triumphal arch, which appeared so noble in the distance, with the
trees behind it.  For when we reached it, we found that it was built
of wood, painted and sanded, and in a shocking state of decay; and
the grove to which it admitted us was only a scant assemblage of
sickly locust-trees, which seemed to be tired of battling with the
unfavorable climate, and had, in fact, already retired from the
business of ornamental shade trees.  Adjoining this square is an
ancient cemetery, the surface of which has decayed in sympathy with
the mouldering remains it covers, and is quite a model in this
respect.  I have called this cemetery ancient, but it may not be so,
for its air of decay is thoroughly modern, and neglect, and not
years, appears to have made it the melancholy place of repose it is.
Whether it is the fashionable and favorite resort of the dead of the
city we did not learn, but there were some old men sitting in its
damp shades, and the nurses appeared to make it a rendezvous for
their baby-carriages,--a cheerful place to bring up children in, and
to familiarize their infant minds with the fleeting nature of
provincial life.  The park and burying-ground, it is scarcely
necessary to say, added greatly to the feeling of repose which stole
over us on this sunny day.  And they made us long for Brown and his
information about Baddeck.

But Mr. Brown, when found, did not know as much as the agent.  He had
been in Nova Scotia; he had never been in Cape Breton; but he
presumed we would find no difficulty in reaching Baddeck by so and
so, and so and so.  We consumed valuable time in convincing Brown
that his directions to us were impracticable and valueless, and then
he referred us to Mr. Cope.  An interview with Mr. Cope discouraged
us; we found that we were imparting everywhere more geographical
inform-ation than we were receiving, and as our own stock was small,
we concluded that we should be unable to enlighten all the
inhabitants of St. John upon the subject of Baddeck before we ran
out.  Returning to the hotel, and taking our destiny into our own
hands, we resolved upon a bold stroke.

But to return for a moment to Brown.  I feel that Brown has been let
off too easily in the above paragraph.  His conduct, to say the
truth, was not such as we expected of a man in whom we had put our
entire faith for half a day,--a long while to trust anybody in these
times,--a man whom we had exalted as an encyclopedia of information,
and idealized in every way.  A man of wealth and liberal views and
courtly manners we had decided Brown would be.  Perhaps he had a
suburban villa on the heights over-looking Kennebeckasis Bay, and,
recognizing us as brothers in a common interest in Baddeck, not-
withstanding our different nationality, would insist upon taking us
to his house, to sip provincial tea with Mrs. Brown and Victoria
Louise, his daughter.  When, therefore, Mr.  Brown whisked into his
dingy office, and, but for our importunity, would have paid no more
attention to us than to up-country customers without credit, and when
he proved to be willingly, it seemed to us, ignorant of Baddeck, our
feelings received a great shock.  It is incomprehensible that a man
in the position of Brown with so many boxes of soap and candles to
dispose of--should be so ignorant of a neighboring province.  We had
heard of the cordial unity of the Provinces in the New Dominion.
Heaven help it, if it depends upon such fellows as Brown!  Of course,
his directing us to Cope was a mere fetch.  For as we have intimated,
it would have taken us longer to have given Cope an idea of Baddeck,
than it did to enlighten Brown.  But we had no bitter feelings about
Cope, for we never had reposed confidence in him.

Our plan of campaign was briefly this: To take the steamboat at eight
o'clock, Thursday morning, for Digby Gut and Annapolis; thence to go
by rail through the poetical Acadia down to Halifax; to turn north
and east by rail from Halifax to New Glasgow, and from thence to push
on by stage to the Gut of Canso.  This would carry us over the entire
length of Nova Scotia, and, with good luck, land us on Cape Breton
Island Saturday morning.  When we should set foot on that island, we
trusted that we should be able to make our way to Baddeck, by walk-
ing, swimming, or riding, whichever sort of locomotion should be most
popular in that province.  Our imaginations were kindled by reading
that the "most superb line of stages on the continent" ran from New
Glasgow to the Gut of Canso.  If the reader perfectly understands
this programme, he has the advantage of the two travelers at the time
they made it.

It was a gray morning when we embarked from St. John, and in fact a
little drizzle of rain veiled the Martello tower, and checked, like
the cross-strokes of a line engraving, the hill on which it stands.
The miscellaneous shining of such a harbor appears best in a golden
haze, or in the mist of a morning like this.  We had expected days of
fog in this region; but the fog seemed to have gone out with the high
tides of the geography.  And it is simple justice to these
possessions of her Majesty, to say that in our two weeks'
acquaintance of them they enjoyed as delicious weather as ever falls
on sea and shore, with the exception of this day when we crossed the
Bay of Fundy.  And this day was only one of those cool interludes of
low color, which an artist would be thankful to introduce among a
group of brilliant pictures.  Such a day rests the traveler, who is
overstimulated by shifting scenes played upon by the dazzling sun.
So the cool gray clouds spread a grateful umbrella above us as we ran
across the Bay of Fundy, sighted the headlands of the Gut of Digby,
and entered into the Annapolis Basin, and into the region of a
romantic history.  The white houses of Digby, scattered over the
downs like a flock of washed sheep, had a somewhat chilly aspect, it
is true, and made us long for the sun on them.  But as I think of it
now, I prefer to have the town and the pretty hillsides that stand
about the basin in the light we saw them; and especially do I like to
recall the high wooden pier at Digby, deserted by the tide and so
blown by the wind that the passengers who came out on it, with their
tossing drapery, brought to mind the windy Dutch harbors that
Backhuysen painted.  We landed a priest here, and it was a pleasure
to see him as he walked along the high pier, his broad hat flapping,
and the wind blowing his long skirts away from his ecclesiastical

It was one of the coincidences of life, for which no one can account,
that when we descended upon these coasts, the Governor-General of the
Dominion was abroad in his Provinces.  There was an air of expec-
tation of him everywhere, and of preparation for his coming; his
lordship was the subject of conversation on the Digby boat, his
movements were chronicled in the newspapers, and the gracious bearing
of the Governor and Lady Dufferin at the civic receptions, balls, and
picnics was recorded with loyal satisfaction; even a literary flavor
was given to the provincial journals by quotations from his
lordship's condescension to letters in the "High Latitudes."  It was
not without pain, however, that even in this un-American region we
discovered the old Adam of journalism in the disposition of the
newspapers of St. John toward sarcasm touching the well-meant
attempts to entertain the Governor and his lady in the provincial
town of Halifax,--a disposition to turn, in short, upon the
demonstrations of loyal worship the faint light of ridicule.  There
were those upon the boat who were journeying to Halifax to take part
in the civic ball about to be given to their excellencies, and as we
were going in the same direction, we shared in the feeling of
satisfaction which prox-imity to the Great often excites.

We had other if not deeper causes of satisfaction.  We were sailing
along the gracefully moulded and tree-covered hills of the Annapolis
Basin, and up the mildly picturesque river of that name, and we were
about to enter what the provincials all enthusiastically call the
Garden of Nova Scotia.  This favored vale, skirted by low ranges of
hills on either hand, and watered most of the way by the Annapolis
River, extends from the mouth of the latter to the town of Windsor on
the river Avon.  We expected to see something like the fertile
valleys of the Connecticut or the Mohawk.  We should also pass
through those meadows on the Basin of Minas which Mr.  Longfellow has
made more sadly poetical than any other spot on the Western
Continent.  It is,--this valley of the Annapolis,--in the belief of
provincials, the most beautiful and blooming place in the world, with
a soil and climate kind to the husbandman; a land of fair meadows,
orchards, and vines.  It was doubtless our own fault that this land
did not look to us like a garden, as it does to the inhabitants of
Nova Scotia; and it was not until we had traveled over the rest of
the country, that we saw the appropriateness of the designation.  The
explanation is, that not so much is required of a garden here as in
some other parts of the world.  Excellent apples, none finer, are
exported from this valley to England, and the quality of the potatoes
is said to ap-proach an ideal perfection here.  I should think that
oats would ripen well also in a good year, and grass, for those who
care for it, may be satisfactory.  I should judge that the other
products of this garden are fish and building-stone.  But we
anticipate.  And have we forgotten the "murmuring pines and the
hemlocks"?  Nobody, I suppose, ever travels here without believing
that he sees these trees of the imagination, so forcibly has the poet
projected them upon the uni-versal consciousness.  But we were unable
to see them, on this route.

It would be a brutal thing for us to take seats in the railway train
at Annapolis, and leave the ancient town, with its modern houses and
remains of old fortifications, without a thought of the romantic
history which saturates the region.  There is not much in the smart,
new restaurant, where a tidy waiting-maid skillfully depreciates our
currency in exchange for bread and cheese and ale, to recall the
early drama of the French discovery and settlement.  For it is to the
French that we owe the poetical interest that still invests, like a
garment, all these islands and bays, just as it is to the Spaniards
that we owe the romance of the Florida coast.  Every spot on this
continent that either of these races has touched has a color that is
wanting in the prosaic settlements of the English.

Without the historical light of French adventure upon this town and
basin of Annapolis, or Port Royal, as they were first named, I
confess that I should have no longing to stay here for a week;
notwithstanding the guide-book distinctly says that this harbor has
"a striking resemblance to the beautiful Bay of Naples."  I am not
offended at this remark, for it is the one always made about a
harbor, and I am sure the passing traveler can stand it, if the Bay
of Naples can.  And yet this tranquil basin must have seemed a haven
of peace to the first discoverers.

It was on a lovely summer day in 1604, that the Sieur de Monts and
his comrades, Champlain and the Baron de Poutrincourt, beating about
the shores of Nova Scotia, were invited by the rocky gateway of the
Port Royal Basin.  They entered the small inlet, says Mr. Parkman,
when suddenly the narrow strait dilated into a broad and tranquil
basin, compassed with sunny hills, wrapped with woodland verdure and
alive with waterfalls.  Poutrincourt was delighted with the scene,
and would fain remove thither from France with his family.  Since
Poutrincourt's day, the hills have been somewhat denuded of trees,
and the waterfalls are not now in sight; at least, not under such a
gray sky as we saw.

The reader who once begins to look into the French occupancy of
Acadia is in danger of getting into a sentimental vein, and sentiment
is the one thing to be shunned in these days.  Yet I cannot but stay,
though the train should leave us, to pay my respectful homage to one
of the most heroic of women, whose name recalls the most romantic
incident in the history of this region.  Out of this past there rises
no figure so captivating to the imagination as that of Madame de la
Tour.  And it is noticeable that woman has a curious habit of coming
to the front in critical moments of history, and performing some
exploit that eclipses in brilliancy all the deeds of contemporary
men; and the exploit usually ends in a pathetic tragedy, that fixes
it forever in the sympathy of the world.  I need not copy out of the
pages of De Charlevoix the well-known story of Madame de la Tour; I
only wish he had told us more about her.  It is here at Port Royal
that we first see her with her husband.  Charles de St. Etienne, the
Chevalier de la Tour,--there is a world of romance in these mere
names,--was a Huguenot nobleman who had a grant of Port Royal and of
La Hive, from Louis XIII.  He ceded La Hive to Razilli, the
governor-in-chief of the provinces, who took a fancy to it, for a
residence.  He was living peacefully at Port Royal in 1647, when the
Chevalier d'Aunay Charnise, having succeeded his brother Razilli at
La Hive, tired of that place and removed to Port Royal.  De Charnise
was a Catholic; the difference in religion might not have produced
any unpleasantness, but the two noblemen could not agree in dividing
the profits of the peltry trade,--each being covetous, if we may so
express it, of the hide of the savage continent, and determined to
take it off for himself.  At any rate, disagreement arose, and De la
Tour moved over to the St. John, of which region his father had
enjoyed a grant from Charles I. of England,--whose sad fate it is not
necessary now to recall to the reader's mind,--and built a fort at
the mouth of the river.  But the differences of the two ambitious
Frenchmen could not be composed.  De la Tour obtained aid from
Governor Winthrop at Boston, thus verifying the Catholic prediction
that the Huguenots would side with the enemies of France on occasion.
De Charnise received orders from Louis to arrest De la Tour; but a
little preliminary to the arrest was the possession of the fort of
St. John, and this he could not obtain, although be sent all his
force against it.  Taking advantage, however, of the absence of De la
Tour, who had a habit of roving about, he one day besieged St. John.
Madame de la Tour headed the little handful of men in the fort, and
made such a gallant resistance that De Charnise was obliged to draw
off his fleet with the loss of thirty-three men,--a very serious
loss, when the supply of men was as distant as France.  But De
Charnise would not be balked by a woman; he attacked again; and this
time, one of the garrison, a Swiss, betrayed the fort, and let the
invaders into the walls by an unguarded entrance.  It was Easter
morning when this misfortune occurred, but the peaceful influence of
the day did not avail.  When Madame saw that she was betrayed, her
spirits did not quail; she took refuge with her little band in a
detached part of the fort, and there made such a bold show of
defense, that De Charnise was obliged to agree to the terms of her
surrender, which she dictated.  No sooner had this unchivalrous
fellow obtained possession of the fort and of this Historic Woman,
than, overcome with a false shame that he had made terms with a
woman, he violated his noble word, and condemned to death all the
men, except one, who was spared on condition that he should be the
executioner of the others.  And the poltroon compelled the brave
woman to witness the execution, with the added indignity of a rope
round her neck,--or as De Charlevoix much more neatly expresses it,
"obligea sa prisonniere d'assister a l'execution, la corde au cou."

To the shock of this horror the womanly spirit of Madame de la Tour
succumbed; she fell into a decline and died soon after.  De la Tour,
himself an exile from his province, wandered about the New World in
his customary pursuit of peltry.  He was seen at Quebec for two
years.  While there, he heard of the death of De Charnise, and
straightway repaired to St. John.  The widow of his late enemy
received him graciously, and he entered into possession of the estate
of the late occupant with the consent of all the heirs.  To remove
all roots of bitterness, De la Tour married Madame de Charnise, and
history does not record any ill of either of them.  I trust they had
the grace to plant a sweetbrier on the grave of the noble woman to
whose faithfulness and courage they owe their rescue from obscurity.
At least the parties to this singular union must have agreed to
ignore the lamented existence of the Chevalier d'Aunay.

With the Chevalier de la Tour, at any rate, it all went well
thereafter.  When Cromwell drove the French from Acadia, he granted
great territorial rights to De la Tour, which that thrifty adventurer
sold out to one of his co-grantees for L16,000; and he no doubt
invested the money in peltry for the London market.

As we leave the station at Annapolis, we are obliged to put Madame de
la Tour out of our minds to make room for another woman whose name,
and we might say presence, fills all the valley before us.  So it is
that woman continues to reign, where she has once got a foothold,
long after her dear frame has become dust.  Evangeline, who is as
real a personage as Queen Esther, must have been a different woman
from Madame de la Tour.  If the latter had lived at Grand Pre, she
would, I trust, have made it hot for the brutal English who drove the
Acadians out of their salt-marsh paradise, and have died in her
heroic shoes rather than float off into poetry.  But if it should
come to the question of marrying the De la Tour or the Evangeline, I
think no man who was not engaged in the peltry trade would hesitate
which to choose.  At any rate, the women who love have more influence
in the world than the women who fight, and so it happens that the
sentimental traveler who passes through Port Royal without a tear for
Madame de la Tour, begins to be in a glow of tender longing and
regret for Evangeline as soon as he enters the valley of the
Annapolis River.  For myself, I expected to see written over the
railway crossings the legend,

"Look out for Evangeline while the bell rings."

When one rides into a region of romance he does not much notice his
speed or his carriage; but I am obliged to say that we were not
hurried up the valley, and that the cars were not too luxurious for
the plain people, priests, clergymen, and belles of the region, who
rode in them.  Evidently the latest fashions had not arrived in the
Provinces, and we had an opportunity of studying anew those that had
long passed away in the States, and of remarking how inappropriate a
fashion is when it has ceased to be the fashion.

The river becomes small shortly after we leave Annapolis and before
we reach Paradise.  At this station of happy appellation we looked
for the satirist who named it, but he has probably sold out and
removed.  If the effect of wit is produced by the sudden recognition
of a remote resemblance, there was nothing witty in the naming of
this station.  Indeed, we looked in vain for the "garden" appearance
of the valley.  There was nothing generous in the small meadows or
the thin orchards; and if large trees ever grew on the bordering
hills, they have given place to rather stunted evergreens; the
scraggy firs and balsams, in fact, possess Nova Scotia generally as
we saw it,--and there is nothing more uninteresting and wearisome
than large tracts of these woods.  We are bound to believe that Nova
Scotia has somewhere, or had, great pines and hemlocks that murmur,
but we were not blessed with the sight of them.  Slightly picturesque
this valley is with its winding river and high hills guarding it, and
perhaps a person would enjoy a foot-tramp down it; but, I think he
would find little peculiar or interesting after he left the
neighborhood of the Basin of Minas.

Before we reached Wolfville we came in sight of this basin and some
of the estuaries and streams that run into it; that is, when the tide
goes out; but they are only muddy ditches half the time.  The Acadia
College was pointed out to us at Wolfville by a person who said that
it is a feeble institution, a remark we were sorry to hear of a place
described as "one of the foremost seats of learning in the Province."
But our regret was at once extinguished by the announcement that the
next station was Grand Pre!  We were within three miles of the most
poetic place in North America.

There was on the train a young man from Boston, who said that he was
born in Grand Pre.  It seemed impossible that we should actually be
near a person so felicitously born.  He had a justifiable pride in
the fact, as well as in the bride by his side, whom he was taking to
see for the first time his old home.  His local information, imparted
to her, overflowed upon us; and when he found that we had read
"Evangeline, his delight in making us acquainted with the scene of
that poem was pleasant to see.  The village of Grand Pre is a mile
from the station; and perhaps the reader would like to know exactly
what the traveler, hastening on to Baddeck, can see of the famous

We looked over a well-grassed meadow, seamed here and there by beds
of streams left bare by the receding tide, to a gentle swell in the
ground upon which is a not heavy forest growth.  The trees partly
conceal the street of Grand Pre, which is only a road bordered by
common houses.  Beyond is the Basin of Minas, with its sedgy shore,
its dreary flats; and beyond that projects a bold headland, standing
perpendicular against the sky.  This is the Cape Blomidon, and it
gives a certain dignity to the picture.

The old Normandy picturesqueness has departed from the village of
Grand Pre.  Yankee settlers, we were told, possess it now, and there
are no descendants of the French Acadians in this valley.  I believe
that Mr. Cozzens found some of them in humble circumstances in a
village on the other coast, not far from Halifax, and it is there,
probably, that the

"Maidens still wear their Norman caps and their kirtles of homespun,
And by the evening fire repeat Evangeline's story,
While from its rocky caverns the deep-voiced, neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest."

At any rate, there is nothing here now except a faint tradition of
the French Acadians; and the sentimental traveler who laments that
they were driven out, and not left behind their dikes to rear their
flocks, and cultivate the rural virtues, and live in the simplicity
of ignorance, will temper his sadness by the reflection that it is to
the expulsion he owes "Evangeline " and the luxury of his romantic
grief.  So that if the traveler is honest, and examines his own soul
faithfully, he will not know what state of mind to cherish as he
passes through this region of sorrow.

Our eyes lingered as long as possible and with all eagerness upon
these meadows and marshes which the poet has made immortal, and we
regretted that inexorable Baddeck would not permit us to be pilgrims
for a day in this Acadian land.  Just as I was losing sight of the
skirt of trees at Grand Pre, a gentleman in the dress of a rural
clergyman left his seat, and complimented me with this remark: "I
perceive, sir, that you are fond of reading."

I could not but feel flattered by this unexpected discovery of my
nature, which was no doubt due to the fact that I held in my hand one
of the works of Charles Reade on social science, called "Love me
Little, Love me Long," and I said, "Of some kinds, I am."

"Did you ever see a work called 'Evangeline'?"

"Oh, yes, I have frequently seen it."

"You may remember," continued this Mass of Information, "that there
is an allusion in it to Grand Pre.  That is the place, sir!"

"Oh, indeed, is that the place?  Thank you."

"And that mountain yonder is Cape Blomidon, blow me down, you know."

And under cover of this pun, the amiable clergyman retired,
unconscious, I presume, of his prosaic effect upon the atmosphere of
the region.  With this intrusion of the commonplace, I suffered an
eclipse of faith as to Evangeline, and was not sorry to have my
attention taken up by the river Avon, along the banks of which we
were running about this time.  It is really a broad arm of the basin,
extending up to Windsor, and beyond in a small stream, and would have
been a charming river if there had been a drop of water in it.  I
never knew before how much water adds to a river.  Its slimy bottom
was quite a ghastly spectacle, an ugly gash in the land that nothing
could heal but the friendly returning tide.  I should think it would
be confusing to dwell by a river that runs first one way and then the
other, and then vanishes altogether.

All the streams about this basin are famous for their salmon and
shad, and the season for these fish was not yet passed.  There seems
to be an untraced affinity between the shad and the strawberry; they
appear and disappear in a region simultaneously.  When we reached
Cape Breton, we were a day or two late for both.  It is impossible
not to feel a little contempt for people who do not have these
luxuries till July and August; but I suppose we are in turn despised
by the Southerners because we do not have them till May and June.
So, a great part of the enjoyment of life is in the knowledge that
there are people living in a worse place than that you inhabit.

Windsor, a most respectable old town round which the railroad sweeps,
with its iron bridge, conspicuous King's College, and handsome church
spire, is a great place for plaster and limestone, and would be a
good location for a person interested in these substances.  Indeed,
if a man can live on rocks, like a goat, he may settle anywhere
between Windsor and Halifax.  It is one of the most sterile regions
in the Province.  With the exception of a wild pond or two, we saw
nothing but rocks and stunted firs, for forty-five miles, a monotony
unrelieved by one picturesque feature.  Then we longed for the
"Garden of Nova Scotia," and understood what is meant by the name.

A member of the Ottawa government, who was on his way to the
Governor-General's ball at Halifax, informed us that this country is
rich in minerals, in iron especially, and he pointed out spots where
gold had been washed out.  But we do not covet it.  And we were not
sorry to learn from this gentleman, that since the formation of the
Dominion, there is less and less desire in the Provinces for
annexation to the United States.  One of the chief pleasures in
traveling in Nova Scotia now is in the constant reflection that you
are in a foreign country; and annexation would take that away.

It is nearly dark when we reach the head of the Bedford Basin.  The
noble harbor of Halifax narrows to a deep inlet for three miles along
the rocky slope on which the city stands, and then suddenly expands
into this beautiful sheet of water.  We ran along its bank for five
miles, cheered occasionally by a twinkling light on the shore, and
then came to a stop at the shabby terminus, three miles out of town.
This basin is almost large enough to float the navy of Great Britain,
and it could lie here, with the narrows fortified, secure from the
attacks of the American navy, hovering outside in the fog.  With
these patriotic thoughts we enter the town.  It is not the fault of
the railroad, but its present inability to climb a rocky hill, that
it does not run into the city.  The suburbs are not impressive in the
night, but they look better then than they do in the daytime; and the
same might be said of the city itself.  Probably there is not
anywhere a more rusty, forlorn town, and this in spite of its
magnificent situation.

It is a gala-night when we rattle down the rough streets, and have
pointed out to us the somber government buildings.  The Halifax Club
House is a blaze of light, for the Governor-General is being received
there, and workmen are still busy decorating the Provincial Building
for the great ball.  The city is indeed pervaded by his lordship, and
we regret that we cannot see it in its normal condition of quiet; the
hotels are full, and it is impossible to escape the festive feeling
that is abroad.  It ill accords with our desires, as tranquil
travelers, to be plunged into such a vortex of slow dissipation.
These people take their pleasures more gravely than we do, and
probably will last the longer for their moderation.  Having
ascertained that we can get no more information about Baddeck here
than in St. John, we go to bed early, for we are to depart from this
fascinating place at six o'clock.

If any one objects that we are not competent to pass judgment on the
city of Halifax by sleeping there one night, I beg leave to plead the
usual custom of travelers,--where would be our books of travel, if
more was expected than a night in a place?  --and to state a few
facts.  The first is, that I saw the whole of Halifax.  If I were
inclined, I could describe it building by building.  Cannot one see
it all from the citadel hill, and by walking down by the
horticultural garden and the Roman Catholic cemetery?  and did not I
climb that hill through the most dilapidated rows of brown houses,
and stand on the greensward of the fortress at five o'clock in the
morning, and see the whole city, and the British navy riding at
anchor, and the fog coming in from the Atlantic Ocean?  Let the
reader go to!  and if he would know more of Halifax, go there.  We
felt that if we remained there through the day, it would be a day of
idleness and sadness.  I could draw a picture of Halifax.  I could
relate its century of history; I could write about its free-school
system, and its many noble charities.  But the reader always skips
such things.  He hates information; and he himself would not stay in
this dull garrison town any longer than he was obliged to.

There was to be a military display that day in honor of the Governor.

"Why," I asked the bright and light-minded colored boy who sold
papers on the morning train, "don't you stay in the city and see it?"

"Pho," said he, with contempt, "I'm sick of 'em.  Halifax is played
out, and I'm going to quit it."

The withdrawal of this lively trader will be a blow to the enterprise
of the place.

When I returned to the hotel for breakfast--which was exactly like
the supper, and consisted mainly of green tea and dry toast--there
was a commotion among the waiters and the hack-drivers over a nervous
little old man, who was in haste to depart for the morning train.  He
was a specimen of provincial antiquity such as could not be seen
elsewhere.  His costume was of the oddest: a long-waisted coat
reaching nearly to his heels, short trousers, a flowered silk vest,
and a napless hat.  He carried his baggage tied up in mealbags, and
his attention was divided between that and two buxom daughters, who
were evidently enjoying their first taste of city life.  The little
old man, who was not unlike a petrified Frenchman of the last
century, had risen before daylight, roused up his daughters, and had
them down on the sidewalk by four o'clock, waiting for hack, or
horse-car, or something to take them to the station.  That he might
be a man of some importance at home was evident, but he had lost his
head in the bustle of this great town, and was at the mercy of all
advisers, none of whom could understand his mongrel language.  As we
came out to take the horse-car, he saw his helpless daughters driven
off in one hack, while he was raving among his meal-bags on the
sidewalk.  Afterwards we saw him at the station, flying about in the
greatest excitement, asking everybody about the train; and at last he
found his way into the private office of the ticket-seller.  "Get out
of here!  "roared that official.  The old man persisted that he
wanted a ticket.  "Go round to the window; clear out!"  In a very
flustered state he was hustled out of the room.  When he came to the
window and made known his destination, he was refused tickets,
because his train did not start for two hours yet!

This mercurial old gentleman only appears in these records because he
was the only person we saw in this Province who was in a hurry to do
anything, or to go anywhere.

We cannot leave Halifax without remarking that it is a city of great
private virtue, and that its banks are sound.  The appearance of its
paper-money is not, however, inviting.  We of the United States lead
the world in beautiful paper-money; and when I exchanged my crisp,
handsome greenbacks for the dirty, flimsy, ill-executed notes of the
Dominion, at a dead loss of value, I could not be reconciled to the
transaction.  I sarcastically called the stuff I received
"Confederate money;" but probably no one was wounded by the severity;
for perhaps no one knew what a resemblance in badness there is
between the "Confederate" notes of our civil war and the notes of the
Dominion; and, besides, the Confederacy was too popular in the
Provinces for the name to be a reproach to them.  I wish I had
thought of something more insulting to say.

By noon on Friday we came to New Glasgow, having passed through a
country where wealth is to be won by hard digging if it is won at
all; through Truro, at the head of the Cobequid Bay, a place
exhibiting more thrift than any we have seen.  A pleasant enough
country, on the whole, is this which the road runs through up the
Salmon and down the East River.  New Glasgow is not many miles from
Pictou, on the great Cumberland Strait; the inhabitants build
vessels, and strangers drive out from here to see the neighboring
coal mines.  Here we were to dine and take the stage for a ride of
eighty miles to the Gut of Canso.

The hotel at New Glasgow we can commend as one of the most
unwholesome in the Province; but it is unnecessary to emphasize its
condition, for if the traveler is in search of dirty hotels, he will
scarcely go amiss anywhere in these regions.  There seems to be a
fashion in diet which endures.  The early travelers as well as the
later in these Atlantic provinces all note the prevalence of dry,
limp toast and green tea; they are the staples of all the meals;
though authorities differ in regard to the third element for
discouraging hunger: it is sometimes boiled salt-fish and sometimes
it is ham.  Toast was probably an inspiration of the first woman of
this part of the New World, who served it hot; but it has become now
a tradition blindly followed, without regard to temperature; and the
custom speaks volumes for the non-inventiveness of woman.  At the inn
in New Glasgow those who choose dine in their shirt-sleeves, and
those skilled in the ways of this table get all they want in seven
minutes.  A man who understands the use of edged tools can get along
twice as fast with a knife and fork as he can with a fork alone.

But the stage is at the door; the coach and four horses answer the
advertisement of being "second to none on the continent."  We mount
to the seat with the driver.  The sun is bright; the wind is in the
southwest; the leaders are impatient to go; the start for the long
ride is propitious.

But on the back seat in the coach is the inevitable woman, young and
sickly, with the baby in her arms.  The woman has paid her fare
through to Guysborough, and holds her ticket.  It turns out, however,
that she wants to go to the district of Guysborough, to St. Mary's
Cross Roads, somewhere in it, and not to the village of Guysborough,
which is away down on Chedabucto Bay.  (The reader will notice this
geographical familiarity.)  And this stage does not go in the
direction of St. Mary's.  She will not get out, she will not
surrender her ticket, nor pay her fare again.  Why should she?  And
the stage proprietor, the stage-driver, and the hostler mull over the
problem, and sit down on the woman's hair trunk in front of the
tavern to reason with her.  The baby joins its voice from the coach
window in the clamor of the discussion.  The baby prevails.  The
stage company comes to a compromise, the woman dismounts, and we are
off, away from the white houses, over the sandy road, out upon a
hilly and not cheerful country.  And the driver begins to tell us
stories of winter hardships, drifted highways, a land buried in snow,
and great peril to men and cattle.


"It was then summer, and the weather very fine; so pleased was I with
the country, in which I had never travelled before, that my delight
proved equal to my wonder."--BENVENUTO CELLINI.

There are few pleasures in life equal to that of riding on the
box-seat of a stagecoach, through a country unknown to you and
hearing the driver talk about his horses.  We made the intimate
acquaintance of twelve horses on that day's ride, and learned the
peculiar disposition and traits of each one of them, their ambition
of display, their sensitiveness to praise or blame, their
faithfulness, their playfulness, the readiness with which they
yielded to kind treatment, their daintiness about food and lodging.

May I never forget the spirited little jade, the off-leader in the
third stage, the petted belle of the route, the nervous, coquettish,
mincing mare of Marshy Hope.  A spoiled beauty she was; you could see
that as she took the road with dancing step, tossing her pretty head
about, and conscious of her shining black coat and her tail done up
"in any simple knot,"--like the back hair of Shelley's Beatrice
Cenci.  How she ambled and sidled and plumed herself, and now and
then let fly her little heels high in air in mere excess of larkish

"So!  girl; so!  Kitty," murmurs the driver in the softest tones of
admiration; "she don't mean anything by it, she's just like a

But the heels keep flying above the traces, and by and by the driver
is obliged to "speak hash" to the beauty.  The reproof of the
displeased tone is evidently felt, for she settles at once to her
work, showing perhaps a little impatience, jerking her head up and
down, and protesting by her nimble movements against the more
deliberate trot of her companion.  I believe that a blow from the
cruel lash would have broken her heart; or else it would have made a
little fiend of the spirited creature.  The lash is hardly ever good
for the sex.

For thirteen years, winter and summer, this coachman had driven this
monotonous, uninteresting route, with always the same sandy hills,
scrubby firs, occasional cabins, in sight.  What a time to nurse his
thought and feed on his heart!  How deliberately he can turn things
over in his brain!  What a system of philosophy he might evolve out
of his consciousness!  One would think so.  But, in fact, the
stagebox is no place for thinking.  To handle twelve horses every
day, to keep each to its proper work, stimulating the lazy and
restraining the free, humoring each disposition, so that the greatest
amount of work shall be obtained with the least friction, making each
trip on time, and so as to leave each horse in as good condition at
the close as at the start, taking advantage of the road, refreshing
the team by an occasional spurt of speed,--all these things require
constant attention; and if the driver was composing an epic, the
coach might go into the ditch, or, if no accident happened, the
horses would be worn out in a month, except for the driver's care.

I conclude that the most delicate and important occupation in life is
stage-driving.  It would be easier to "run" the Treasury Department
of the United States than a four-in-hand.  I have a sense of the
unimportance of everything else in comparison with this business in
hand.  And I think the driver shares that feeling.  He is the
autocrat of the situation.  He is lord of all the humble passengers,
and they feel their inferiority.  They may have knowledge and skill
in some things, but they are of no use here.  At all the stables the
driver is king; all the people on the route are deferential to him;
they are happy if he will crack a joke with them, and take it as a
favor if he gives them better than they send.  And it is his joke
that always raises the laugh, regardless of its quality.

We carry the royal mail, and as we go along drop little sealed canvas
bags at way offices.  The bags would not hold more than three pints
of meal, and I can see that there is nothing in them.  Yet somebody
along here must be expecting a letter, or they would not keep up the
mail facilities.  At French River we change horses.  There is a mill
here, and there are half a dozen houses, and a cranky bridge, which
the driver thinks will not tumble down this trip.  The settlement may
have seen better days, and will probably see worse.

I preferred to cross the long, shaky wooden bridge on foot, leaving
the inside passengers to take the risk, and get the worth of their
money; and while the horses were being put to, I walked on over the
hill.  And here I encountered a veritable foot-pad, with a club in
his hand and a bundle on his shoulder, coming down the dusty road,
with the wild-eyed aspect of one who travels into a far country in
search of adventure.  He seemed to be of a cheerful and sociable
turn, and desired that I should linger and converse with him.  But he
was more meagerly supplied with the media of conversation than any
person I ever met.  His opening address was in a tongue that failed
to convey to me the least idea.  I replied in such language as I had
with me, but it seemed to be equally lost upon him.  We then fell
back upon gestures and ejaculations, and by these I learned that he
was a native of Cape Breton, but not an aborigine.  By signs he asked
me where I came from, and where I was going; and he was so much
pleased with my destination, that he desired to know my name; and
this I told him with all the injunction of secrecy I could convey;
but he could no more pronounce it than I could speak his name.  It
occurred to me that perhaps he spoke a French patois, and I asked
him; but he only shook his head.  He would own neither to German nor
Irish.  The happy thought came to me of inquiring if he knew English.
But he shook his head again, and said,

"No English, plenty garlic."

This was entirely incomprehensible, for I knew that garlic is not a
language, but a smell.  But when he had repeated the word several
times, I found that he meant Gaelic; and when we had come to this
understanding, we cordially shook hands and willingly parted.  One
seldom encounters a wilder or more good-natured savage than this
stalwart wanderer.  And meeting him raised my hopes of Cape Breton.

We change horses again, for the last stage, at Marshy Hope.  As we
turn down the hill into this place of the mournful name, we dash past
a procession of five country wagons, which makes way for us:
everything makes way for us; even death itself turns out for the
stage with four horses.  The second wagon carries a long box, which
reveals to us the mournful errand of the caravan.  We drive into the
stable, and get down while the fresh horses are put to.  The
company's stables are all alike, and open at each end with great
doors.  The stable is the best house in the place; there are three or
four houses besides, and one of them is white, and has vines growing
over the front door, and hollyhocks by the front gate.  Three or four
women, and as many barelegged girls, have come out to look at the
proces-sion, and we lounge towards the group.

"It had a winder in the top of it, and silver handles," says one.

"Well, I declare; and you could 'a looked right in?"

"If I'd been a mind to."

"Who has died?" I ask.

"It's old woman Larue; she lived on Gilead Hill, mostly alone.  It's
better for her."

"Had she any friends?"

"One darter.  They're takin' her over Eden way, to bury her where she
come from."

"Was she a good woman?"  The traveler is naturally curious to know
what sort of people die in Nova Scotia.

"Well, good enough.  Both her husbands is dead."

The gossips continued talking of the burying.  Poor old woman Larue!
It was mournful enough to encounter you for the only time in this
world in this plight, and to have this glimpse of your wretched life
on lonesome Gilead Hill.  What pleasure, I wonder, had she in her
life, and what pleasure have any of these hard-favored women in this
doleful region?  It is pitiful to think of it.  Doubtless, however,
the region isn't doleful, and the sentimental traveler would not have
felt it so if he had not encountered this funereal flitting.

But the horses are in.  We mount to our places; the big doors swing

"Stand away," cries the driver.

The hostler lets go Kitty's bridle, the horses plunge forward, and we
are off at a gallop, taking the opposite direction from that pursued
by old woman Larue.

This last stage is eleven miles, through a pleasanter country, and we
make it in a trifle over an hour, going at an exhilarating gait, that
raises our spirits out of the Marshy Hope level.  The perfection of
travel is ten miles an hour, on top of a stagecoach; it is greater
speed than forty by rail.  It nurses one's pride to sit aloft, and
rattle past the farmhouses, and give our dust to the cringing foot
tramps.  There is something royal in the swaying of the coach body,
and an excitement in the patter of the horses' hoofs.  And what an
honor it must be to guide such a machine through a region of rustic

The sun has set when we come thundering down into the pretty Catholic
village of Antigonish,--the most home-like place we have seen on the
island.  The twin stone towers of the unfinished cathedral loom up
large in the fading light, and the bishop's palace on the hill--the
home of the Bishop of Arichat--appears to be an imposing white barn
with many staring windows.  At Antigonish--with the emphasis on the
last syllable--let the reader know there is a most comfortable inn,
kept by a cheery landlady, where the stranger is served by the comely
handmaidens, her daughters, and feels that he has reached a home at
last.  Here we wished to stay.  Here we wished to end this weary
pilgrimage.  Could Baddeck be as attractive as this peaceful valley?
Should we find any inn on Cape Breton like this one?

"Never was on Cape Breton," our driver had said; "hope I never shall
be.  Heard enough about it.  Taverns?  You'll find 'em occupied."



"But it is a lovely country?"

"I don't think it."

Into what unknown dangers were we going?  Why not stay here and be
happy?  It was a soft summer night.  People were loitering in the
street; the young beaux of the place going up and down with the
belles, after the leisurely manner in youth and summer; perhaps they
were students from St. Xavier College, or visiting gallants from
Guysborough.  They look into the post-office and the fancy store.
They stroll and take their little provincial pleasure and make love,
for all we can see, as if Antigonish were a part of the world.  How
they must look down on Marshy Hope and Addington Forks and Tracadie!
What a charming place to live in is this!

But the stage goes on at eight o'clock.  It will wait for no man.
There is no other stage till eight the next night, and we have no
alternative but a night ride.  We put aside all else except duty and
Baddeck.  This is strictly a pleasure-trip.

The stage establishment for the rest of the journey could hardly be
called the finest on the continent.  The wagon was drawn by two
horses.  It was a square box, covered with painted cloth.  Within
were two narrow seats, facing each other, affording no room for the
legs of passengers, and offering them no position but a strictly
upright one.  It was a most ingeniously uncomfortable box in which to
put sleepy travelers for the night.  The weather would be chilly
before morning, and to sit upright on a narrow board all night, and
shiver, is not cheerful.  Of course, the reader says that this is no
hardship to talk about.  But the reader is mistaken.  Anything is a
hardship when it is unpleasantly what one does not desire or expect.
These travelers had spent wakeful nights, in the forests, in a cold
rain, and never thought of complaining.  It is useless to talk about
the Polar sufferings of Dr. Kane to a guest at a metropolitan hotel,
in the midst of luxury, when the mosquito sings all night in his ear,
and his mutton-chop is overdone at breakfast.  One does not like to
be set up for a hero in trifles, in odd moments, and in inconspicuous

There were two passengers besides ourselves, inhabitants of Cape
Breton Island, who were returning from Halifax to Plaster Cove, where
they were engaged in the occupation of distributing alcoholic liquors
at retail.  This fact we ascertained incidentally, as we learned the
nationality of our comrades by their brogue, and their religion by
their lively ejaculations during the night.  We stowed ourselves into
the rigid box, bade a sorrowing good-night to the landlady and her
daughters, who stood at the inn door, and went jingling down the
street towards the open country.

The moon rises at eight o'clock in Nova Scotia.  It came above the
horizon exactly as we began our journey, a harvest-moon, round and
red.  When I first saw it, it lay on the edge of the horizon as if
too heavy to lift itself, as big as a cart-wheel, and its disk cut by
a fence-rail.  With what a flood of splendor it deluged farmhouses
and farms, and the broad sweep of level country!  There could not be
a more magnificent night in which to ride towards that geographical
mystery of our boyhood, the Gut of Canso.

A few miles out of town the stage stopped in the road before a post-
station.  An old woman opened the door of the farmhouse to receive
the bag which the driver carried to her.  A couple of sprightly
little girls rushed out to "interview " the passengers, climbing up
to ask their names and, with much giggling, to get a peep at their
faces.  And upon the handsomeness or ugliness of the faces they saw
in the moonlight they pronounced with perfect candor.  We are not
obliged to say what their verdict was.  Girls here, no doubt, as
elsewhere, lose this trustful candor as they grow older.

Just as we were starting, the old woman screamed out from the door,
in a shrill voice, addressing the driver, "Did you see ary a sick man
'bout 'Tigonish?"


"There's one been round here for three or four days, pretty bad off;
's got the St. Vitus's.  He wanted me to get him some medicine for it
up to Antigonish.  I've got it here in a vial, and I wished you could
take it to him."

"Where is he?"

"I dunno.  I heern he'd gone east by the Gut. Perhaps you'll hear of
him."  All this screamed out into the night.

"Well, I'll take it."

We took the vial aboard and went on; but the incident powerfully
affected us.  The weird voice of the old woman was exciting in it-
self, and we could not escape the image of this unknown man, dancing
about this region without any medicine, fleeing perchance by night
and alone, and finally flitting away down the Gut of Canso.  This
fugitive mystery almost immediately shaped itself into the following
simple poem:

"There was an old man of Canso,
Unable to sit or stan' so.
When I asked him why he ran so,
Says he, 'I've St. Vitus' dance so,
All down the Gut of Canso.'"

This melancholy song is now, I doubt not, sung by the maidens of

In spite of the consolations of poetry, however, the night wore on
slowly, and soothing sleep tried in vain to get a lodgment in the
jolting wagon.  One can sleep upright, but not when his head is every
moment knocked against the framework of a wagon-cover.  Even a jolly
young Irishman of Plaster Cove, whose nature it is to sleep under
whatever discouragement, is beaten by these circumstances.  He wishes
he had his fiddle along.  We never know what men are on casual
acquaintance.  This rather stupid-looking fellow is a devotee of
music, and knows how to coax the sweetness out of the unwilling
violin.  Sometimes he goes miles and miles on winter nights to draw
the seductive bow for the Cape Breton dancers, and there is
enthusiasm in his voice, as he relates exploits of fiddling from
sunset till the dawn of day.  Other information, however, the young
man has not; and when this is exhausted, he becomes sleepy again, and
tries a dozen ways to twist himself into a posture in which sleep
will be possible.  He doubles up his legs, he slides them under the
seat, he sits on the wagon bottom; but the wagon swings and jolts and
knocks him about.  His patience under this punishment is admirable,
and there is something pathetic in his restraint from profanity.

It is enough to look out upon the magnificent night; the moon is now
high, and swinging clear and distant; the air has grown chilly; the
stars cannot be eclipsed by the greater light, but glow with a
chastened fervor.  It is on the whole a splendid display for the sake
of four sleepy men, banging along in a coach,--an insignificant
little vehicle with two horses.  No one is up at any of the
farmhouses to see it; no one appears to take any interest in it,
except an occasional baying dog, or a rooster that has mistaken the
time of night.  By midnight we come to Tracadie, an orchard, a
farmhouse, and a stable.  We are not far from the sea now, and can
see a silver mist in the north.  An inlet comes lapping up by the old
house with a salty smell and a suggestion of oyster-beds.  We knock
up the sleeping hostlers, change.  horses, and go on again, dead
sleepy, but unable to get a wink.  And all the night is blazing with
beauty.  We think of the criminal who was sentenced to be kept awake
till he died.

The fiddler makes another trial.  Temperately remarking, "I am very
sleepy," he kneels upon the floor and rests his head on the seat.
This position for a second promises repose; but almost immediately
his head begins to pound the seat, and beat a lively rat-a-plan on
the board.  The head of a wooden idol couldn't stand this treatment
more than a minute.  The fiddler twisted and turned, but his head
went like a triphammer on the seat.  I have never seen a devotional
attitude so deceptive, or one that produced less favorable results.
The young man rose from his knees, and meekly said,

"It's dam hard."

If the recording angel took down this observation, he doubtless made
a note of the injured tone in which it was uttered.

How slowly the night passes to one tipping and swinging along in a
slowly moving stage!  But the harbinger of the day came at last.
When the fiddler rose from his knees, I saw the morning-star burst
out of the east like a great diamond, and I knew that Venus was
strong enough to pull up even the sun, from whom she is never distant
more than an eighth of the heavenly circle.  The moon could not put
her out of countenance.  She blazed and scintillated with a dazzling
brilliance, a throbbing splendor, that made the moon seem a pale,
sentimental invention.  Steadily she mounted, in her fresh beauty,
with the confidence and vigor of new love, driving her more domestic
rival out of the sky.  And this sort of thing, I suppose, goes on
frequently.  These splendors burn and this panorama passes night
after night down at the end of Nova Scotia, and all for the stage-
driver, dozing along on his box, from Antigonish to the strait.

"Here you are," cries the driver, at length, when we have become
wearily indifferent to where we are.  We have reached the ferry.  The
dawn has not come, but it is not far off.  We step out and find a
chilly morning, and the dark waters of the Gut of Canso flowing
before us lighted here and there by a patch of white mist.  The
ferryman is asleep, and his door is shut.  We call him by all the
names known among men.  We pound upon his house, but he makes no
sign.  Before he awakes and comes out, growling, the sky in the east
is lightened a shade, and the star of the dawn sparkles less
brilliantly.  But the process is slow.  The twilight is long.  There
is a surprising deliberation about the preparation of the sun for
rising, as there is in the movements of the boatman.  Both appear to
be reluctant to begin the day.

The ferryman and his shaggy comrade get ready at last, and we step
into the clumsy yawl, and the slowly moving oars begin to pull us
upstream.  The strait is here less than a mile wide; the tide is
running strongly, and the water is full of swirls,--the little
whirlpools of the rip-tide.  The morning-star is now high in the sky;
the moon, declining in the west, is more than ever like a silver
shield; along the east is a faint flush of pink.  In the increasing
light we can see the bold shores of the strait, and the square
projection of Cape Porcupine below.

On the rocks above the town of Plaster Cove, where there is a black
and white sign,--Telegraph Cable,--we set ashore our companions of
the night, and see them climb up to their station for retailing the
necessary means of intoxication in their district, with the mournful
thought that we may never behold them again.

As we drop down along the shore, there is a white sea-gull asleep on
the rock, rolled up in a ball, with his head under his wing.  The
rock is dripping with dew, and the bird is as wet as his hard bed.
We pass within an oar's length of him, but he does not heed us, and
we do not disturb his morning slumbers.  For there is no such cruelty
as the waking of anybody out of a morning nap.

When we land, and take up our bags to ascend the hill to the white
tavern of Port Hastings (as Plaster Cove now likes to be called), the
sun lifts himself slowly over the treetops, and the magic of the
night vanishes.

And this is Cape Breton, reached after almost a week of travel.  Here
is the Gut of Canso, but where is Baddeck?  It is Saturday morning;
if we cannot make Baddeck by night, we might as well have remained in
Boston.  And who knows what we shall find if we get there?  A forlorn
fishing-station, a dreary hotel?  Suppose we cannot get on, and are
forced to stay here?  Asking ourselves these questions, we enter the
Plaster Cove tavern.  No one is stirring, but the house is open, and
we take possession of the dirty public room, and almost immediately
drop to sleep in the fluffy rocking-chairs; but even sleep is not
strong enough to conquer our desire to push on, and we soon rouse up
and go in pursuit of information.

No landlord is to be found, but there is an unkempt servant in the
kitchen, who probably does not see any use in making her toilet more
than once a week.  To this fearful creature is intrusted the dainty
duty of preparing breakfast.  Her indifference is equal to her lack
of information, and her ability to convey information is fettered by
her use of Gaelic as her native speech.  But she directs us to the
stable.  There we find a driver hitching his horses to a two-horse

"Is this stage for Baddeck?"

"Not much."

"Is there any stage for Baddeck?"

"Not to-day."

"Where does this go, and when?"

"St. Peter's.  Starts in fifteen minutes."

This seems like "business," and we are inclined to try it, especially
as we have no notion where St. Peter's is.

"Does any other stage go from here to-day anywhere else?"

"Yes.  Port Hood.  Quarter of an hour."

Everything was about to happen in fifteen minutes.  We inquire
further.  St. Peter's is on the east coast, on the road to Sydney.
Port Hood is on the west coast.  There is a stage from Port Hood to
Baddeck.  It would land us there some time Sunday morning; distance,
eighty miles.

Heavens!  what a pleasure-trip.  To ride eighty miles more without
sleep!  We should simply be delivered dead on the Bras d'Or; that is
all.  Tell us, gentle driver, is there no other way?

"Well, there's Jim Hughes, come over at midnight with a passenger
from Baddeck; he's in the hotel now; perhaps he'll take you."

Our hope hung on Jim Hughes.  The frowzy servant piloted us up to his
sleeping-room.  "Go right in," said she; and we went in, according to
the simple custom of the country, though it was a bedroom that one
would not enter except on business.  Mr. Hughes did not like to be
disturbed, but he proved himself to be a man who could wake up
suddenly, shake his head, and transact business,--a sort of Napoleon,
in fact.  Mr.  Hughes stared at the intruders for a moment, as if he
meditated an assault.

"Do you live in Baddeck?" we asked.

"No; Hogamah,--half-way there."

"Will you take us to Baddeck to-day?

Mr. Hughes thought.  He had intended to sleep--till noon.  He had
then intended to go over the Judique Mountain and get a boy.  But he
was disposed to accommodate.  Yes, for money--sum named--he would
give up his plans, and start for Baddeck in an hour.  Distance, sixty
miles.  Here was a man worth having; he could come to a decision
before he was out of bed.  The bargain was closed.

We would have closed any bargain to escape a Sunday in the Plaster
Cove hotel.  There are different sorts of hotel uncleanliness.  There
is the musty old inn, where the dirt has accumulated for years, and
slow neglect has wrought a picturesque sort of dilapidation, the
mouldiness of time, which has something to recommend it.  But there
is nothing attractive in new nastiness, in the vulgar union of
smartness and filth.  A dirty modern house, just built, a house
smelling of poor whiskey and vile tobacco, its white paint grimy, its
floors unclean, is ever so much worse than an old inn that never
pretended to be anything but a rookery.  I say nothing against the
hotel at Plaster Cove.  In fact, I recommend it.  There is a kind of
harmony about it that I like.  There is a harmony between the
breakfast and the frowzy Gaelic cook we saw "sozzling" about in the
kitchen.  There is a harmony between the appearance of the house and
the appearance of the buxom young housekeeper who comes upon the
scene later, her hair saturated with the fatty matter of the bear.
The traveler will experience a pleasure in paying his bill and

Although Plaster Cove seems remote on the map, we found that we were
right in the track of the world's news there.  It is the transfer
station of the Atlantic Cable Company, where it exchanges messages
with the Western Union.  In a long wooden building, divided into two
main apartments, twenty to thirty operators are employed.  At eight
o'clock the English force was at work receiving the noon messages
from London.  The American operators had not yet come on, for New
York business would not begin for an hour.  Into these rooms is
poured daily the news of the world, and these young fellows toss it
about as lightly as if it were household gossip.  It is a marvelous
exchange, however, and we had intended to make some reflections here
upon the en rapport feeling, so to speak, with all the world, which
we experienced while there; but our conveyance was waiting.  We
telegraphed our coming to Baddeck, and departed.  For twenty-five
cents one can send a dispatch to any part of the Dominion, except the
region where the Western Union has still a foothold.

Our conveyance was a one-horse wagon, with one seat.  The horse was
well enough, but the seat was narrow for three people, and the entire
establishment had in it not much prophecy of Baddeck for that day.
But we knew little of the power of Cape Breton driving.  It became
evident that we should reach Baddeck soon enough, if we could cling
to that wagon-seat.  The morning sun was hot.  The way was so
uninteresting that we almost wished ourselves back in Nova Scotia.
The sandy road was bordered with discouraged evergreens, through
which we had glimpses of sand-drifted farms.  If Baddeck was to be
like this, we had come on a fool's errand.  There were some savage,
low hills, and the Judique Mountain showed itself as we got away from
the town.  In this first stage, the heat of the sun, the monotony of
the road, and the scarcity of sleep during the past thirty-six hours
were all unfavorable to our keeping on the wagon-seat.  We nodded
separately, we nodded and reeled in unison.  But asleep or awake, the
driver drove like a son of Jehu.  Such driving is the fashion on Cape
Breton Island.  Especially downhill, we made the most of it; if the
horse was on a run, that was only an inducement to apply the lash;
speed gave the promise of greater possible speed.  The wagon rattled
like a bark-mill; it swirled and leaped about, and we finally got the
exciting impression that if the whole thing went to pieces, we should
somehow go on,--such was our impetus.  Round corners, over ruts and
stones, and uphill and down, we went jolting and swinging, holding
fast to the seat, and putting our trust in things in general.  At the
end of fifteen miles, we stopped at a Scotch farmhouse, where the
driver kept a relay, and changed horse.

The people were Highlanders, and spoke little English; we had struck
the beginning of the Gaelic settlement.  From here to Hogamah we
should encounter only the Gaelic tongue; the inhabitants are all
Catholics.  Very civil people, apparently, and living in a kind of
niggardly thrift, such as the cold land affords.  We saw of this
family the old man, who had come from Scotland fifty years ago, his
stalwart son, six feet and a half high, maybe, and two buxom
daughters, going to the hay-field,--good solid Scotch lassies, who
smiled in English, but spoke only Gaelic.  The old man could speak a
little English, and was disposed to be both communicative and
inquisitive.  He asked our business, names, and residence.  Of the
United States he had only a dim conception, but his mind rather
rested upon the statement that we lived "near Boston."  He complained
of the degeneracy of the times.  All the young men had gone away from
Cape Breton; might get rich if they would stay and work the farms.
But no one liked to work nowadays.  From life, we diverted the talk
to literature.  We inquired what books they had.

"Of course you all have the poems of Burns?"

"What's the name o' the mon?"

"Burns, Robert Burns."

"Never heard tell of such a mon.  Have heard of Robert Bruce.  He was
a Scotchman."

This was nothing short of refreshing, to find a Scotchman who had
never heard of Robert Burns!  It was worth the whole journey to take
this honest man by the hand.  How far would I not travel to talk with
an American who had never heard of George Washington!

The way was more varied during the next stage; we passed through some
pleasant valleys and picturesque neighborhoods, and at length,
winding around the base of a wooded range, and crossing its point, we
came upon a sight that took all the sleep out of us.  This was the
famous Bras d'Or.

The Bras d'Or is the most beautiful salt-water lake I have ever seen,
and more beautiful than we had imagined a body of salt water could
be.  If the reader will take the map, he will see that two narrow
estuaries, the Great and the Little Bras d'Or, enter the island of
Cape Breton, on the ragged northeast coast, above the town of Sydney,
and flow in, at length widening out and occupying the heart of the
island.  The water seeks out all the low places, and ramifies the
interior, running away into lovely bays and lagoons, leaving slender
tongues of land and picturesque islands, and bringing into the
recesses of the land, to the remote country farms and settlements,
the flavor of salt, and the fish and mollusks of the briny sea.
There is very little tide at any time, so that the shores are clean
and sightly for the most part, like those of fresh-water lakes.  It
has all the pleasantness of a fresh-water lake, with all the
advantages of a salt one.  In the streams which run into it are the
speckled trout, the shad, and the salmon; out of its depths are
hooked the cod and the mackerel, and in its bays fattens the oyster.
This irregular lake is about a hundred miles long, if you measure it
skillfully, and in some places ten miles broad; but so indented is
it, that I am not sure but one would need, as we were informed, to
ride a thousand miles to go round it, following all its incursions
into the land.  The hills about it are never more than five or six
hundred feet high, but they are high enough for reposeful beauty, and
offer everywhere pleasing lines.

What we first saw was an inlet of the Bras d'Or, called, by the
driver, Hogamah Bay.  At its entrance were long, wooded islands,
beyond which we saw the backs of graceful hills, like the capes of
some poetic sea-coast.  The bay narrowed to a mile in width where we
came upon it, and ran several miles inland to a swamp, round the head
of which we must go.  Opposite was the village of Hogamah.  I had my
suspicions from the beginning about this name, and now asked the
driver, who was liberally educated for a driver, how he spelled

"Why-ko-ko-magh.  Hogamah."

Sometimes it is called Wykogamah.  Thus the innocent traveler is
misled.  Along the Whykokomagh Bay we come to a permanent encampment
of the Micmac Indians,--a dozen wigwams in the pine woods.  Though
lumber is plenty, they refuse to live in houses.  The wigwams,
however, are more picturesque than the square frame houses of the
whites.  Built up conically of poles, with a hole in the top for the
smoke to escape, and often set up a little from the ground on a
timber foundation, they are as pleasing to the eye as a Chinese or
Turkish dwelling.  They may be cold in winter, but blessed be the
tenacity of barbarism, which retains this agreeable architecture.
The men live by hunting in the season, and the women support the
family by making moccasins and baskets.  These Indians are most of
them good Catholics, and they try to go once a year to mass and a
sort of religious festival held at St.  Peter's, where their sins are
forgiven in a yearly lump.

At Whykokomagh, a neat fishing village of white houses, we stopped
for dinner at the Inverness House.  The house was very clean, and the
tidy landlady gave us as good a dinner as she could of the inevitable
green tea, toast, and salt fish.  She was Gaelic, but Protestant, as
the village is, and showed us with pride her Gaelic Bible and
hymn-book.  A peaceful place, this Whykokomagh; the lapsing waters of
Bras d'Or made a summer music all along the quiet street; the bay lay
smiling with its islands in front, and an amphitheater of hills rose
behind.  But for the line of telegraph poles one might have fancied
he could have security and repose here.

We put a fresh pony into the shafts, a beast born with an everlasting
uneasiness in his legs, and an amount of "go" in him which suited his
reckless driver.  We no longer stood upon the order of our going; we
went.  As we left the village, we passed a rocky hay-field, where the
Gaelic farmer was gathering the scanty yield of grass.  A comely
Indian girl was stowing the hay and treading it down on the wagon.
The driver hailed the farmer, and they exchanged Gaelic repartee
which set all the hay-makers in a roar, and caused the Indian maid to
darkly and sweetly beam upon us.  We asked the driver what he had
said.  He had only inquired what the man would take for the load--as
it stood!  A joke is a joke down this way.

I am not about to describe this drive at length, in order that the
reader may skip it; for I know the reader, being of like passion and
fashion with him.  From the time we first struck the Bras d'Or for
thirty miles we rode in constant sight of its magnificent water.  Now
we were two hundred feet above the water, on the hillside, skirting a
point or following an indentation; and now we were diving into a
narrow valley, crossing a stream, or turning a sharp corner, but
always with the Bras d'Or in view, the afternoon sun shining on it,
softening the outlines of its embracing hills, casting a shadow from
its wooded islands.  Sometimes we opened on a broad water plain
bounded by the Watchabaktchkt hills, and again we looked over hill
after hill receding into the soft and hazy blue of the land beyond
the great mass of the Bras d'Or.  The reader can compare the view and
the ride to the Bay of Naples and the Cornice Road; we did nothing of
the sort; we held on to the seat, prayed that the harness of the pony
might not break, and gave constant expression to our wonder and
delight.  For a week we had schooled ourselves to expect nothing more
from this wicked world, but here was an enchanting vision.

The only phenomenon worthy the attention of any inquiring mind, in
this whole record, I will now describe.  As we drove along the side
of a hill, and at least two hundred feet above the water, the road
suddenly diverged and took a circuit higher up.  The driver said that
was to avoid a sink-hole in the old road,--a great curiosity, which
it was worth while to examine.  Beside the old road was a circular
hole, which nipped out a part of the road-bed, some twenty-five feet
in diameter, filled with water almost to the brim, but not running
over.  The water was dark in color, and I fancied had a brackish
taste.  The driver said that a few weeks before, when he came this
way, it was solid ground where this well now opened, and that a large
beech-tree stood there.  When he returned next day, he found this
hole full of water, as we saw it, and the large tree had sunk in it.
The size of the hole seemed to be determined by the reach of the
roots of the tree.  The tree had so entirely disappeared, that he
could not with a long pole touch its top.  Since then the water had
neither subsided nor overflowed.  The ground about was compact
gravel.  We tried sounding the hole with poles, but could make
nothing of it.  The water seemed to have no outlet nor inlet; at
least, it did not rise or fall.  Why should the solid hill give way
at this place, and swallow up a tree?  and if the water had any
connection with the lake, two hundred feet below and at some distance
away, why didn't the water run out?  Why should the unscientific
traveler have a thing of this kind thrown in his way?  The driver did
not know.

This phenomenon made us a little suspicious of the foundations of
this island which is already invaded by the jealous ocean, and is
anchored to the continent only by the cable.

The drive became more charming as the sun went down, and we saw the
hills grow purple beyond the Bras d'Or.  The road wound around lovely
coves and across low promontories, giving us new beauties at every
turn.  Before dark we had crossed the Middle River and the Big
Baddeck, on long wooden bridges, which straggled over sluggish waters
and long reaches of marsh, upon which Mary might have been sent to
call the cattle home.  These bridges were shaky and wanted a plank at
intervals, but they are in keeping with the enterprise of the
country.  As dusk came on, we crossed the last hill, and were bowling
along by the still gleaming water.  Lights began to appear in
infrequent farmhouses, and under cover of the gathering night the
houses seemed to be stately mansions; and we fancied we were on a
noble highway, lined with elegant suburban seaside residences, and
about to drive into a town of wealth and a port of great commerce.
We were, nevertheless, anxious about Baddeck.  What sort of haven
were we to reach after our heroic (with the reader's permission) week
of travel?  Would the hotel be like that at Plaster Cove?  Were our
thirty-six hours of sleepless staging to terminate in a night of
misery and a Sunday of discomfort?

We came into a straggling village; that we could see by the
starlight.  But we stopped at the door of a very unhotel-like
appearing hotel.  It had in front a flower-garden; it was blazing
with welcome lights; it opened hospitable doors, and we were received
by a family who expected us.  The house was a large one, for two
guests; and we enjoyed the luxury of spacious rooms, an abundant
supper, and a friendly welcome; and, in short, found ourselves at
home.  The proprietor of the Telegraph House is the superintendent of
the land lines of Cape Breton, a Scotchman, of course; but his wife
is a Newfoundland lady.  We cannot violate the sanctity of what
seemed like private hospitality by speaking freely of this lady and
the lovely girls, her daughters, whose education has been so
admirably advanced in the excellent school at Baddeck; but we can
confidently advise any American who is going to Newfoundland, to get
a wife there, if he wants one at all.  It is the only new article he
can bring from the Provinces that he will not have to pay duty on.
And here is a suggestion to our tariff-mongers for the "protection"
of New England women.

The reader probably cannot appreciate the delicious sense of rest and
of achievement which we enjoyed in this tidy inn, nor share the
anticipations of undisturbed, luxurious sleep, in which we indulged
as we sat upon the upper balcony after supper, and saw the moon rise
over the glistening Bras d'Or and flood with light the islands and
headlands of the beautiful bay.  Anchored at some distance from the
shore was a slender coasting vessel.  The big red moon happened to
come up just behind it, and the masts and spars and ropes of the
vessel came out, distinctly traced on the golden background, making
such a night picture as I once saw painted of a ship in a fiord of
Norway.  The scene was enchanting.  And we respected then the
heretofore seemingly insane impulse that had driven us on to Baddeck.


"He had no ill-will to the Scotch; for, if he had been conscious of
that, he never would have thrown himself into the bosom of their
country, and trusted to the protection of its remote inhabitants with
a fearless confidence."--BOSWELL'S JOHNSON.

Although it was an open and flagrant violation of the Sabbath day as
it is kept in Scotch Baddeck, our kind hosts let us sleep late on
Sunday morning, with no reminder that we were not sleeping the sleep
of the just.  It was the charming Maud, a flitting sunbeam of a girl,
who waited to bring us our breakfast, and thereby lost the
opportunity of going to church with the rest of the family,--an act
of gracious hospitality which the tired travelers appreciated.

The travelers were unable, indeed, to awaken into any feeling of
Sabbatical straitness.  The morning was delicious,--such a morning as
never visits any place except an island; a bright, sparkling morning,
with the exhilaration of the air softened by the sea.  What a day it
was for idleness, for voluptuous rest, after the flight by day and
night from St. John!  It was enough, now that the morning was fully
opened and advancing to the splendor of noon, to sit upon the upper
balcony, looking upon the Bras d'Or and the peaceful hills beyond,
reposeful and yet sparkling with the air and color of summer, and
inhale the balmy air.  (We greatly need another word to describe good
air, properly heated, besides this overworked "balmy.") Perhaps it
might in some regions be considered Sabbath-keeping, simply to rest
in such a soothing situation,--rest, and not incessant activity,
having been one of the original designs of the day.

But our travelers were from New England, and they were not willing to
be outdone in the matter of Sunday observances by such an out-of-
the-way and nameless place as Baddeck.  They did not set themselves
up as missionaries to these benighted Gaelic people, to teach them by
example that the notion of Sunday which obtained two hundred years
ago in Scotland had been modified, and that the sacredness of it had
pretty much disappeared with the unpleasantness of it.  They rather
lent themselves to the humor of the hour, and probably by their
demeanor encouraged the respect for the day on Cape Breton Island.
Neither by birth nor education were the travelers fishermen on
Sunday, and they were not moved to tempt the authorities to lock them
up for dropping here a line and there a line on the Lord's day.

In fact, before I had finished my second cup of Maud-mixed coffee, my
companion, with a little show of haste, had gone in search of the
kirk, and I followed him, with more scrupulousness, as soon as I
could without breaking the day of rest.  Although it was Sunday, I
could not but notice that Baddeck was a clean-looking village of
white wooden houses, of perhaps seven or eight hundred inhabitants;
that it stretched along the bay for a mile or more, straggling off
into farmhouses at each end, lying for the most part on the sloping
curve of the bay.  There were a few country-looking stores and shops,
and on the shore three or four rather decayed and shaky wharves ran
into the water, and a few schooners lay at anchor near them; and the
usual decaying warehouses leaned about the docks.  A peaceful and
perhaps a thriving place, but not a bustling place.  As I walked down
the road, a sailboat put out from the shore and slowly disappeared
round the island in the direction of the Grand Narrows.  It had a
small pleasure party on board.  None of them were drowned that day,
and I learned at night that they were Roman Catholics from

The kirk, which stands near the water, and at a distance shows a
pretty wooden spire, is after the pattern of a New England
meeting-house.  When I reached it, the house was full and the service
had begun.  There was something familiar in the bareness and
uncompromising plainness and ugliness of the interior.  The pews had
high backs, with narrow, uncushioned seats.  The pulpit was high,--a
sort of theological fortification,--approached by wide, curving
flights of stairs on either side.  Those who occupied the near seats
to the right and left of the pulpit had in front of them a blank
board partition, and could not by any possibility see the minister,
though they broke their necks backwards over their high coat-collars.
The congregation had a striking resemblance to a country New England
congregation of say twenty years ago.  The clothes they wore had been
Sunday clothes for at least that length of time.

Such clothes have a look of I know not what devout and painful
respectability, that is in keeping with the worldly notion of rigid
Scotch Presbyterianism.  One saw with pleasure the fresh and rosy-
cheeked children of this strict generation, but the women of the
audience were not in appearance different from newly arrived and
respectable Irish immigrants.  They wore a white cap with long frills
over the forehead, and a black handkerchief thrown over it and
hanging down the neck,--a quaint and not unpleasing disguise.

The house, as I said, was crowded.  It is the custom in this region
to go to church,--for whole families to go, even the smallest
children; and they not unfrequently walk six or seven miles to attend
the service.  There is a kind of merit in this act that makes up for
the lack of certain other Christian virtues that are practiced
elsewhere.  The service was worth coming seven miles to participate
in!--it was about two hours long, and one might well feel as if he
had performed a work of long-suffering to sit through it.  The
singing was strictly congregational.  Congregational singing is good
(for those who like it) when the congregation can sing.  This
congregation could not sing, but it could grind the Psalms of David
powerfully.  They sing nothing else but the old Scotch version of the
Psalms, in a patient and faithful long meter.  And this is regarded,
and with considerable plausibility, as an act of worship.  It
certainly has small element of pleasure in it.  Here is a stanza from
Psalm xlv., which the congregation, without any instrumental
nonsense, went through in a dragging, drawling manner, and with
perfect individual independence as to time:

"Thine arrows sharply pierce the heart of th' enemies of the king,
And under thy sub-jec-shi-on the people down do bring."

The sermon was extempore, and in English with Scotch pronunciation;
and it filled a solid hour of time.  I am not a good judge of ser-
mons, and this one was mere chips to me; but my companion, who knows
a sermon when he hears it, said that this was strictly theological,
and Scotch theology at that, and not at all expository.  It was
doubtless my fault that I got no idea whatever from it.  But the
adults of the congregation appeared to be perfectly satisfied with
it; at least they sat bolt upright and nodded assent continually.
The children all went to sleep under it, without any hypocritical
show of attention.  To be sure, the day was warm and the house was
unventilated.  If the windows had been opened so as to admit the
fresh air from the Bras d'Or, I presume the hard-working farmers and
their wives would have resented such an interference with their
ordained Sunday naps, and the preacher's sermon would have seemed
more musty than it appeared to be in that congenial and drowsy air.
Considering that only half of the congregation could understand the
preacher, its behavior was exemplary.

After the sermon, a collection was taken up for the minister; and I
noticed that nothing but pennies rattled into the boxes,--a
melancholy sound for the pastor.  This might appear niggardly on the
part of these Scotch Presbyterians, but it is on principle that they
put only a penny into the box; they say that they want a free gospel,
and so far as they are concerned they have it.  Although the farmers
about the Bras d'Or are well-to-do they do not give their minister
enough to keep his soul in his Gaelic body, and his poor support is
eked out by the contributions of a missionary society.  It was
gratifying to learn that this was not from stinginess on the part of
the people, but was due to their religious principle.  It seemed to
us that everybody ought to be good in a country where it costs next
to nothing.

When the service was over, about half of the people departed; the
rest remained in their seats and prepared to enter upon their Sabbath
exercises.  These latter were all Gaelic people, who had understood
little or nothing of the English service.  The minister turned
himself at once into a Gaelic preacher and repeated in that language
the long exercises of the morning.  The sermon and perhaps the
prayers were quite as enjoyable in Gaelic as in English, and the
singing was a great improvement.  It was of the same Psalms, but the
congregation chanted them in a wild and weird tone and manner, as
wailing and barbarous to modern ears as any Highland devotional
outburst of two centuries ago.  This service also lasted about two
hours; and as soon as it was over the faithful minister, without any
rest or refreshment, organized the Sunday-school, and it must have
been half past three o'clock before that was over.  And this is
considered a day of rest.

These Gaelic Christians, we were informed, are of a very old pattern;
and some of them cling more closely to religious observances than to
morality.  Sunday is nowhere observed with more strictness.  The
community seems to be a very orderly and thrifty one, except upon
solemn and stated occasions.  One of these occasions is the
celebration of the Lord's Supper; and in this the ancient Highland
traditions are preserved.  The rite is celebrated not oftener than
once a year by any church.  It then invites the neighboring churches
to partake with it,--the celebration being usually in the summer and
early fall months.  It has some of the characteristics of a "camp-
meeting."  People come from long distances, and as many as two
thousand and three thousand assemble together.  They quarter
themselves without special invitation upon the members of the
inviting church.  Sometimes fifty people will pounce upon one farmer,
overflowing his house and his barn and swarming all about his
premises, consuming all the provisions he has laid up for his family,
and all he can raise money to buy, and literally eating him out of
house and home.  Not seldom a man is almost ruined by one of these
religious raids,--at least he is left with a debt of hundreds of
dollars.  The multitude assembles on Thursday and remains over
Sunday.  There is preaching every day, but there is something
besides.  Whatever may be the devotion of a part of the assembly, the
four days are, in general, days of license, of carousing, of
drinking, and of other excesses, which our informant said he would
not particularize; we could understand what they were by reading St.
Paul's rebuke of the Corinthians for similar offenses.  The evil has
become so great and burdensome that the celebration of this sacred
rite will have to be reformed altogether.

Such a Sabbath quiet pervaded the street of Baddeck, that the fast
driving of the Gaels in their rattling, one-horse wagons, crowded
full of men, women, and children,--released from their long sanctuary
privileges, and going home,--was a sort of profanation of the day;
and we gladly turned aside to visit the rural jail of the town.

Upon the principal street or road of Baddeck stands the dreadful
prison-house.  It is a story and a quarter edifice, built of stone
and substantially whitewashed; retired a little from the road, with a
square of green turf in front of it, I should have taken it for the
residence of the Dairyman's Daughter, but for the iron gratings at
the lower windows.  A more inviting place to spend the summer in, a
vicious person could not have.  The Scotch keeper of it is an old,
garrulous, obliging man, and keeps codfish tackle to loan.  I think
that if he had a prisoner who was fond of fishing, he would take him
with him on the bay in pursuit of the mackerel and the cod.  If the
prisoner were to take advantage of his freedom and attempt to escape,
the jailer's feelings would be hurt, and public opinion would hardly
approve the prisoner's conduct.

The jail door was hospitably open, and the keeper invited us to
enter.  Having seen the inside of a good many prisons in our own
country (officially), we were interested in inspecting this.  It was
a favorable time for doing so, for there happened to be a man
confined there, a circumstance which seemed to increase the keeper's
feeling of responsibility in his office.  The edifice had four rooms
on the ground-floor, and an attic sleeping-room above.  Three of
these rooms, which were perhaps twelve feet by fifteen feet, were
cells; the third was occupied by the jailer's family.  The family
were now also occupying the front cell,--a cheerful room commanding a
view of the village street and of the bay.  A prisoner of a
philosophic turn of mind, who had committed some crime of sufficient
magnitude to make him willing to retire from the world for a season
and rest, might enjoy himself here very well.

The jailer exhibited his premises with an air of modesty.  In the
rear was a small yard, surrounded by a board fence, in which the
prisoner took his exercise.  An active boy could climb over it, and
an enterprising pig could go through it almost anywhere.  The keeper
said that he intended at the next court to ask the commissioners to
build the fence higher and stop up the holes.  Otherwise the jail was
in good condition.  Its inmates were few; in fact, it was rather apt
to be empty: its occupants were usually prisoners for debt, or for
some trifling breach of the peace, committed under the influence of
the liquor that makes one "unco happy."  Whether or not the people of
the region have a high moral standard, crime is almost unknown; the
jail itself is an evidence of primeval simplicity.  The great
incident in the old jailer's life had been the rescue of a well-known
citizen who was confined on a charge of misuse of public money.  The
keeper showed me a place in the outer wall of the front cell, where
an attempt had been made to batter a hole through.  The Highland clan
and kinsfolk of the alleged defaulter came one night and threatened
to knock the jail in pieces if he was not given up.  They bruised the
wall, broke the windows, and finally smashed in the door and took
their man away.  The jailer was greatly excited at this rudeness, and
went almost immediately and purchased a pistol.  He said that for a
time he did n't feel safe in the jail without it.  The mob had thrown
stones at the upper windows, in order to awaken him, and had insulted
him with cursing and offensive language.

Having finished inspecting the building, I was unfortunately moved by
I know not what national pride and knowledge of institutions superior
to this at home, to say,

"This is a pleasant jail, but it doesn't look much like our great
prisons; we have as many as a thousand to twelve hundred men in some
of our institutions."

"Ay, ay, I have heard tell," said the jailer, shaking his head in
pity, "it's an awfu' place, an awfu' place,--the United States.  I
suppose it's the wickedest country that ever was in the world.  I
don't know,--I don't know what is to become of it.  It's worse than
Sodom.  There was that dreadful war on the South; and I hear now it's
very unsafe, full of murders and robberies and corruption."

I did not attempt to correct this impression concerning my native
land, for I saw it was a comfort to the simple jailer, but I tried to
put a thorn into him by saying,

"Yes, we have a good many criminals, but the majority of them, the
majority of those in jails, are foreigners; they come from Ireland,
England, and the Provinces."

But the old man only shook his head more solemnly, and persisted,
"It's an awfu' wicked country."

Before I came away I was permitted to have an interview with the sole
prisoner, a very pleasant and talkative man, who was glad to see
company, especially intelligent company who understood about things,
he was pleased to say.  I have seldom met a more agreeable rogue, or
one so philosophical, a man of travel and varied experiences.  He was
a lively, robust Provincial of middle age, bullet-headed, with a mass
of curly black hair, and small, round black eyes, that danced and
sparkled with good humor.  He was by trade a carpenter, and had a
work-bench in his cell, at which he worked on week-days.  He had been
put in jail on suspicion of stealing a buffalo-robe, and he lay in
jail eight months, waiting for the judge to come to Baddeck on his
yearly circuit.  He did not steal the robe, as he assured me, but it
was found in his house, and the judge gave him four months in jail,
making a year in all,--a month of which was still to serve.  But he
was not at all anxious for the end of his term; for his wife was

Jock, for he was familiarly so called, asked me where I was from.  As
I had not found it very profitable to hail from the United States,
and had found, in fact, that the name United States did not convey
any definite impression to the average Cape Breton mind, I ventured
upon the bold assertion, for which I hope Bostonians will forgive me,
that I was from Boston.  For Boston is known in the eastern

"Are you?" cried the man, delighted.  "I've lived in Boston, myself.
There's just been an awful fire near there."

"Indeed!" I said; "I heard nothing of it.' And I was startled with
the possibility that Boston had burned up again while we were
crawling along through Nova Scotia.

"Yes, here it is, in the last paper."  The man bustled away and found
his late paper, and thrust it through the grating, with the inquiry,
"Can you read?"

Though the question was unexpected, and I had never thought before
whether I could read or not, I confessed that I could probably make
out the meaning, and took the newspaper.  The report of the fire
"near Boston" turned out to be the old news of the conflagration in
Portland, Oregon!

Disposed to devote a portion of this Sunday to the reformation of
this lively criminal, I continued the conversation with him.  It
seemed that he had been in jail before, and was not unaccustomed to
the life.  He was not often lonesome; he had his workbench and
newspapers, and it was a quiet place; on the whole, he enjoyed it,
and should rather regret it when his time was up, a month from then.

Had he any family?

"Oh, yes.  When the census was round, I contributed more to it than
anybody in town.  Got a wife and eleven children."

"Well, don't you think it would pay best to be honest, and live with
your family, out of jail?  You surely never had anything but trouble
from dishonesty."

"That's about so, boss.  I mean to go on the square after this.  But,
you see," and here he began to speak confidentially, "things are
fixed about so in this world, and a man's got to live his life.  I
tell you how it was.  It all came about from a woman.  I was a
carpenter, had a good trade, and went down to St. Peter's to work.
There I got acquainted with a Frenchwoman,--you know what Frenchwomen
are,--and I had to marry her.  The fact is, she was rather low
family; not so very low, you know, but not so good as mine.  Well, I
wanted to go to Boston to work at my trade, but she wouldn't go; and
I went, but she would n't come to me, so in two or three years I came
back.  A man can't help himself, you know, when he gets in with a
woman, especially a Frenchwoman.  Things did n't go very well, and
never have.  I can't make much out of it, but I reckon a man 's got
to live his life.  Ain't that about so?"

"Perhaps so.  But you'd better try to mend matters when you get out.
Won't it seem rather good to get out and see your wife and family

"I don't know.  I have peace here."

The question of his liberty seemed rather to depress this cheerful
and vivacious philosopher, and I wondered what the woman could be
from whose companionship the man chose to be protected by jail-bolts.
I asked the landlord about her, and his reply was descriptive and
sufficient.  He only said,

"She's a yelper."

Besides the church and the jail there are no public institutions in
Baddeck to see on Sunday, or on any other day; but it has very good
schools, and the examination-papers of Maud and her elder sister
would do credit to Boston scholars even.  You would not say that the
place was stuffed with books, or overrun by lecturers, but it is an
orderly, Sabbath-keeping, fairly intelligent town.  Book-agents visit
it with other commercial travelers, but the flood of knowledge, which
is said to be the beginning of sorrow, is hardly turned in that
direction yet.  I heard of a feeble lecture-course in Halifax,
supplied by local celebrities, some of them from St. John; but so far
as I can see, this is a virgin field for the platform philosophers
under whose instructions we have become the well-informed people we

The peaceful jail and the somewhat tiresome church exhaust one's
opportunities for doing good in Baddeck on Sunday.  There seemed to
be no idlers about, to reprove; the occasional lounger on the
skeleton wharves was in his Sunday clothes, and therefore within the
statute.  No one, probably, would have thought of rowing out beyond
the island to fish for cod,--although, as that fish is ready to bite,
and his associations are more or less sacred, there might be excuses
for angling for him on Sunday, when it would be wicked to throw a
line for another sort of fish.  My earliest recollections are of the
codfish on the meeting-house spires in New England,--his sacred tail
pointing the way the wind went.  I did not know then why this emblem
should be placed upon a house of worship, any more than I knew why
codfish-balls appeared always upon the Sunday breakfast-table.  But
these associations invested this plebeian fish with something of a
religious character, which he has never quite lost, in my mind.

Having attributed the quiet of Baddeck on Sunday to religion, we did
not know to what to lay the quiet on Monday.  But its peacefulness
continued.  I have no doubt that the farmers began to farm, and the
traders to trade, and the sailors to sail; but the tourist felt that
he had come into a place of rest.  The promise of the red sky the
evening before was fulfilled in another royal day.  There was an
inspiration in the air that one looks for rather in the mountains
than on the sea-coast; it seemed like some new and gentle compound of
sea-air and land-air, which was the perfection of breathing material.
In this atmosphere, which seemed to flow over all these Atlantic
isles at this season, one endures a great deal of exertion with
little fatigue; or he is content to sit still, and has no feeling of
sluggishness.  Mere living is a kind of happiness, and the easy-going
traveler is satisfied with little to do and less to see, Let the
reader not understand that we are recommending him to go to Baddeck.
Far from it.  The reader was never yet advised to go to any place,
which he did not growl about if he took the advice and went there.
If he discovers it himself, the case is different.  We know too well
what would happen.  A shoal of travelers would pour down upon Cape
Breton, taking with them their dyspepsia, their liver-complaints,
their "lights" derangements, their discontent, their guns and
fishing-tackle, their big trunks, their desire for rapid travel,
their enthusiasm about the Gaelic language, their love for nature;
and they would very likely declare that there was nothing in it.  And
the traveler would probably be right, so far as he is concerned.
There are few whom it would pay to go a thousand miles for the sake
of sitting on the dock at Baddeck when the sun goes down, and
watching the purple lights on the islands and the distant hills, the
red flush in the horizon and on the lake, and the creeping on of gray
twilight.  You can see all that as well elsewhere?  I am not so sure.
There is a harmony of beauty about the Bras d'Or at Baddeck which is
lacking in many scenes of more pretension.  No.  We advise no person
to go to Cape Breton.  But if any one does go, he need not lack
occupation. If he is there late in the fall or early in the winter,
he may hunt, with good luck, if he is able to hit anything with a
rifle, the moose and the caribou on that long wilderness peninsula
between Baddeck and Aspy Bay, where the old cable landed.  He may
also have his fill of salmon fishing in June and July, especially on
the Matjorie River.  As late as August, at the time, of our visit, a
hundred people were camped in tents on the Marjorie, wiling the
salmon with the delusive fly, and leading him to death with a hook in
his nose.  The speckled trout lives in all the streams, and can be
caught whenever he will bite.  The day we went for him appeared to be
an off-day, a sort of holiday with him.

There is one place, however, which the traveler must not fail to
visit.  That is St. Ann's Bay.  He will go light of baggage, for he
must hire a farmer to carry him from the Bras d'Or to the branch of
St. Ann's harbor, and a part of his journey will be in a row-boat.
There is no ride on the continent, of the kind, so full of
picturesque beauty and constant surprises as this around the
indentations of St. Ann's harbor.  From the high promontory where
rests the fishing village of St. Ann, the traveler will cross to
English Town.  High bluffs, bold shores, exquisite sea-views,
mountainous ranges, delicious air, the society of a member of the
Dominion Parliament, these are some of the things to be enjoyed at
this place.  In point of grandeur and beauty it surpasses Mt. Desert,
and is really the most attractive place on the whole line of the
Atlantic Cable.  If the traveler has any sentiment in him, he will
visit here, not without emotion, the grave of the Nova Scotia Giant,
who recently laid his huge frame along this, his native shore.  A man
of gigantic height and awful breadth of shoulders, with a hand as big
as a shovel, there was nothing mean or little in his soul.  While the
visitor is gazing at his vast shoes, which now can be used only as
sledges, he will be told that the Giant was greatly respected by his
neighbors as a man of ability and simple integrity.  He was not
spoiled by his metropolitan successes, bringing home from his foreign
triumphs the same quiet and friendly demeanor he took away; he is
almost the only example of a successful public man, who did not feel
bigger than he was.  He performed his duty in life without
ostentation, and returned to the home he loved unspoiled by the
flattery of constant public curiosity.  He knew, having tried both,
how much better it is to be good than to be great.  I should like to
have known him.  I should like to know how the world looked to him
from his altitude.  I should like to know how much food it took at
one time to make an impression on him; I should like to know what
effect an idea of ordinary size had in his capacious head.  I should
like to feel that thrill of physical delight he must have experienced
in merely closing his hand over something.  It is a pity that he
could not have been educated all through, beginning at a high school,
and ending in a university.  There was a field for the multifarious
new education!  If we could have annexed him with his island, I
should like to have seen him in the Senate of the United States.  He
would have made foreign nations respect that body, and fear his
lightest remark like a declaration of war.  And he would have been at
home in that body of great men.  Alas!  he has passed away, leaving
little influence except a good example of growth, and a grave which
is a new promontory on that ragged coast swept by the winds of the
untamed Atlantic.

I could describe the Bay of St. Ann more minutely and graphically, if
it were desirable to do so; but I trust that enough has been said to
make the traveler wish to go there.  I more unreservedly urge him to
go there, because we did not go, and we should feel no responsibility
for his liking or disliking.  He will go upon the recommendation of
two gentlemen of taste and travel whom we met at Baddeck, residents
of Maine and familiar with most of the odd and striking combinations
of land and water in coast scenery.  When a Maine man admits that
there is any place finer than Mt. Desert, it is worth making a note

On Monday we went a-fishing.  Davie hitched to a rattling wagon
something that he called a horse, a small, rough animal with a great
deal of "go" in him, if he could be coaxed to show it.  For the first
half-hour he went mostly in a circle in front of the inn, moving
indifferently backwards or forwards, perfectly willing to go down the
road, but refusing to start along the bay in the direction of Middle
River.  Of course a crowd collected to give advice and make remarks,
and women appeared at the doors and windows of adjacent houses.
Davie said he did n't care anything about the conduct of the horse,--
he could start him after a while,--but he did n't like to have all
the town looking at him, especially the girls; and besides, such an
exhibition affected the market value of the horse.  We sat in the
wagon circling round and round, sometimes in the ditch and sometimes
out of it, and Davie "whaled" the horse with his whip and abused him
with his tongue.  It was a pleasant day, and the spectators

There are two ways of managing a balky horse.  My companion knew one
of them and I the other.  His method is to sit quietly in the wagon,
and at short intervals throw a small pebble at the horse.  The theory
is that these repeated sudden annoyances will operate on a horse's
mind, and he will try to escape them by going on.  The spectators
supplied my friend with stones, and he pelted the horse with measured
gentleness.  Probably the horse understood this method, for he did
not notice the attack at all.  My plan was to speak gently to the
horse, requesting him to go, and then to follow the refusal by one
sudden, sharp cut of the lash; to wait a moment, and then repeat the
operation.  The dread of the coming lash after the gentle word will
start any horse.  I tried this, and with a certain success.  The
horse backed us into the ditch, and would probably have backed
himself into the wagon, if I had continued.  When the animal was at
length ready to go, Davie took him by the bridle, ran by his side,
coaxed him into a gallop, and then, leaping in behind, lashed him
into a run, which had little respite for ten miles, uphill or down.
Remonstrance on behalf of the horse was in vain, and it was only on
the return home that this specimen Cape Breton driver began to
reflect how he could erase the welts from the horse's back before his
father saw them.

Our way lay along the charming bay of the Bras d'Or, over the
sprawling bridge of the Big Baddeck, a black, sedgy, lonesome stream,
to Middle River, which debouches out of a scraggy country into a
bayou with ragged shores, about which the Indians have encampments,
and in which are the skeleton stakes of fish-weirs.  Saturday night
we had seen trout jumping in the still water above the bridge.  We
followed the stream up two or three miles to a Gaelic settlement of
farmers.  The river here flows through lovely meadows, sandy,
fertile, and sheltered by hills,--a green Eden, one of the few
peaceful inhabited spots in the world.  I could conceive of no news
coming to these Highlanders later than the defeat of the Pretender.
Turning from the road, through a lane and crossing a shallow brook,
we reached the dwelling of one of the original McGregors, or at least
as good as an original.  Mr. McGregor is a fiery-haired Scotchman and
brother, cordial and hospitable, who entertained our wayward horse,
and freely advised us where the trout on his farm were most likely to
be found at this season of the year.

It would be a great pleasure to speak well of Mr. McGregor's
residence, but truth is older than Scotchmen) and the reader looks to
us for truth and not flattery.  Though the McGregor seems to have a
good farm, his house is little better than a shanty, a rather
cheerless place for the "woman " to slave away her uneventful life
in, and bring up her scantily clothed and semi-wild flock of
children.  And yet I suppose there must be happiness in it,--there
always is where there are plenty of children, and milk enough for
them.  A white-haired boy who lacked adequate trousers, small though
he was, was brought forward by his mother to describe a trout he had
recently caught, which was nearly as long as the boy himself.  The
young Gael's invention was rewarded by a present of real fish-hooks.
We found here in this rude cabin the hospitality that exists in all
remote regions where travelers are few.  Mrs. McGregor had none of
that reluctance, which women feel in all more civilized agricultural
regions, to "break a pan of milk," and Mr. McGregor even pressed us
to partake freely of that simple drink.  And he refused to take any
pay for it, in a sort of surprise that such a simple act of
hospitality should have any commercial value.  But travelers
themselves destroy one of their chief pleasures.  No doubt we planted
the notion in the McGregor mind that the small kindnesses of life may
be made profitable, by offering to pay for the milk; and probably the
next travelers in that Eden will succeed in leaving some small change
there, if they use a little tact.

It was late in the season for trout.  Perhaps the McGregor was aware
of that when he freely gave us the run of the stream in his meadows,
and pointed out the pools where we should be sure of good luck.  It
was a charming August day, just the day that trout enjoy lying in
cool, deep places, and moving their fins in quiet content,
indifferent to the skimming fly or to the proffered sport of rod and
reel.  The Middle River gracefully winds through this Vale of Tempe,
over a sandy bottom, sometimes sparkling in shallows, and then gently
reposing in the broad bends of the grassy banks.  It was in one of
these bends, where the stream swirled around in seductive eddies,
that we tried our skill.  We heroically waded the stream and threw
our flies from the highest bank; but neither in the black water nor
in the sandy shallows could any trout be coaxed to spring to the
deceitful leaders.  We enjoyed the distinction of being the only
persons who had ever failed to strike trout in that pool, and this
was something.  The meadows were sweet with the newly cut grass, the
wind softly blew down the river, large white clouds sailed high
overhead and cast shadows on the changing water; but to all these
gentle influences the fish were insensible, and sulked in their cool
retreats.  At length in a small brook flowing into the Middle River
we found the trout more sociable; and it is lucky that we did so, for
I should with reluctance stain these pages with a fiction; and yet
the public would have just reason to resent a fish-story without any
fish in it.  Under a bank, in a pool crossed by a log and shaded by a
tree, we found a drove of the speckled beauties at home, dozens of
them a foot long, each moving lazily a little, their black backs
relieved by their colored fins.  They must have seen us, but at first
they showed no desire for a closer acquaintance.  To the red ibis and
the white miller and the brown hackle and the gray fly they were
alike indifferent.  Perhaps the love for made flies is an artificial
taste and has to be cultivated.  These at any rate were uncivilized
-trout, and it was only when we took the advice of the young McGregor
and baited our hooks with the angleworm, that the fish joined in our
day's sport.  They could not resist the lively wiggle of the worm
before their very noses, and we lifted them out one after an other,
gently, and very much as if we were hooking them out of a barrel,
until we had a handsome string.  It may have been fun for them but it
was not much sport for us.  All the small ones the young McGregor
contemptuously threw back into the water.  The sportsman will perhaps
learn from this incident that there are plenty of trout in Cape
Breton in August, but that the fishing is not exhilarating.

The next morning the semi-weekly steamboat from Sydney came into the
bay, and drew all the male inhabitants of Baddeck down to the wharf;
and the two travelers, reluctant to leave the hospitable inn, and the
peaceful jail, and the double-barreled church, and all the loveliness
of this reposeful place, prepared to depart.  The most conspicuous
person on the steamboat was a thin man, whose extraordinary height
was made more striking by his very long-waisted black coat and his
very short pantaloons.  He was so tall that he had a little
difficulty in keeping his balance, and his hat was set upon the back
of his head to preserve his equilibrium.  He had arrived at that
stage when people affected as he was are oratorical, and overflowing
with information and good-nature.  With what might in strict art be
called an excess of expletives, he explained that he was a civil
engineer, that he had lost his rubber coat, that he was a great
traveler in the Provinces, and he seemed to find a humorous
satisfaction in reiterating the fact of his familiarity with Painsec
junction.  It evidently hovered in the misty horizon of his mind as a
joke, and he contrived to present it to his audience in that light.
>From the deck of the steamboat he addressed the town, and then, to
the relief of the passengers, he decided to go ashore.  When the boat
drew away on her voyage we left him swaying perilously near the edge
of the wharf, good-naturedly resenting the grasp of his coat-tail by
a friend, addressing us upon the topics of the day, and wishing us
prosperity and the Fourth of July.  His was the only effort in the
nature of a public lecture that we heard in the Provinces, and we
could not judge of his ability without hearing a "course."

Perhaps it needed this slight disturbance, and the contrast of this
hazy mind with the serene clarity of the day, to put us into the most
complete enjoyment of our voyage.  Certainly, as we glided out upon
the summer waters and began to get the graceful outlines of the
widening shores, it seemed as if we had taken passage to the
Fortunate Islands.


"One town, one country, is very like another; ...... there are indeed
minute discriminations both of places and manners, which, perhaps,
are not wanting of curiosity, but which a traveller seldom stays long
enough to investigate and compare."  --DR.  JOHNSON.

There was no prospect of any excitement or of any adventure on the
steamboat from Baddeck to West Bay, the southern point of the Bras
d'Or.  Judging from the appearance of the boat, the dinner might have
been an experiment, but we ran no risks.  It was enough to sit on
deck forward of the wheel-house, and absorb, by all the senses, the
delicious day.  With such weather perpetual and such scenery always
present, sin in this world would soon become an impossibility.  Even
towards the passengers from Sydney, with their imitation English ways
and little insular gossip, one could have only charity and the most
kindly feeling.

The most electric American, heir of all the nervous diseases of all
the ages, could not but find peace in this scene of tranquil beauty,
and sail on into a great and deepening contentment.  Would the voyage
could last for an age, with the same sparkling but tranquil sea, and
the same environment of hills, near and remote!  The hills approached
and fell away in lines of undulating grace, draped with a tender
color which helped to carry the imagination beyond the earth.  At
this point the narrative needs to flow into verse, but my comrade did
not feel like another attempt at poetry so soon after that on the Gut
of Canso.  A man cannot always be keyed up to the pitch of
production, though his emotions may be highly creditable to him.  But
poetry-making in these days is a good deal like the use of profane
language,--often without the least provocation.

Twelve miles from Baddeck we passed through the Barra Strait, or the
Grand Narrows, a picturesque feature in the Bras d'Or, and came into
its widest expanse.  At the Narrows is a small settlement with a
flag-staff and a hotel, and roads leading to farmhouses on the hills.
Here is a Catholic chapel; and on shore a fat padre was waiting in
his wagon for the inevitable priest we always set ashore at such a
place.  The missionary we landed was the young father from Arichat,
and in appearance the pleasing historical Jesuit.  Slender is too
corpulent a word to describe his thinness, and his stature was
primeval.  Enveloped in a black coat, the skirts of which reached his
heels, and surmounted by a black hat with an enormous brim, he had
the form of an elegant toadstool.  The traveler is always grateful
for such figures, and is not disposed to quarrel with the faith which
preserves so much of the ugly picturesque.  A peaceful farming
country this, but an unremunerative field, one would say, for the
colporteur and the book-agent; and winter must inclose it in a
lonesome seclusion.

The only other thing of note the Bras d'Or offered us before we
reached West Bay was the finest show of medusm or jelly-fish that
could be produced.  At first there were dozens of these disk-shaped,
transparent creatures, and then hundreds, starring the water like
marguerites sprinkled on a meadow, and of sizes from that of a teacup
to a dinner-plate.  We soon ran into a school of them, a convention,
a herd as extensive as the vast buffalo droves on the plains, a
collection as thick as clover-blossoms in a field in June, miles of
them, apparently; and at length the boat had to push its way through
a mass of them which covered the water like the leaves of the
pondlily, and filled the deeps far down with their beautiful
contracting and expanding forms.  I did not suppose there were so
many jelly-fishes in all the world.  What a repast they would have
made for the Atlantic whale we did not see, and what inward comfort
it would have given him to have swum through them once or twice with
open mouth!  Our delight in this wondrous spectacle did not prevent
this generous wish for the gratification of the whale.  It is
probably a natural human desire to see big corporations swallow up
little ones.

At the West Bay landing, where there is nothing whatever attractive,
we found a great concourse of country wagons and clamorous drivers,
to transport the passengers over the rough and uninteresting nine
miles to Port Hawkesbury.  Competition makes the fare low, but
nothing makes the ride entertaining.  The only settlement passed
through has the promising name of River Inhabitants, but we could see
little river and less inhabitants; country and people seem to belong
to that commonplace order out of which the traveler can extract
nothing amusing, instructive, or disagreeable; and it was a great
relief when we came over the last hill and looked down upon the
straggling village of Port Hawkesbury and the winding Gut of Canso.

One cannot but feel a respect for this historical strait, on account
of the protection it once gave our British ancestors.  Smollett makes
a certain Captain C---- tell this anecdote of George II. and his
enlightened minister, the Duke of Newcastle: "In the beginning of the
war this poor, half-witted creature told me, in a great fright, that
thirty thousand French had marched from Acadie to Cape Breton.
'Where did they find transports?' said I.  'Transports!' cried he; 'I
tell you, they marched by land.'  By land to the island of Cape
Breton?'  'What!  is Cape Breton an island?'  'Certainly.'  'Ha!  are
you sure of that?'  When I pointed it out on the map, he examined it
earnestly with his spectacles; then taking me in his arms, 'My dear
C----!' cried he, you always bring us good news.  I'll go directly
and tell the king that Cape Breton is an island.'"

Port Hawkesbury is not a modern settlement, and its public house is
one of the irregular, old-fashioned, stuffy taverns, with low rooms,
chintz-covered lounges, and fat-cushioned rocking-chairs, the decay
and untidiness of which are not offensive to the traveler.  It has a
low back porch looking towards the water and over a mouldy garden,
damp and unseemly.  Time was, no doubt, before the rush of travel
rubbed off the bloom of its ancient hospitality and set a vigilant
man at the door of the dining-room to collect pay for meals, that
this was an abode of comfort and the resort of merry-making and
frolicsome provincials.  On this now decaying porch no doubt lovers
sat in the moonlight, and vowed by the Gut of Canso to be fond of
each other forever.  The traveler cannot help it if he comes upon the
traces of such sentiment.  There lingered yet in the house an air of
the hospitable old time; the swift willingness of the waiting-maids
at table, who were eager that we should miss none of the home-made
dishes, spoke of it; and as we were not obliged to stay in the hotel
and lodge in its six-by-four bedrooms, we could afford to make a
little romance about its history.

While we were at supper the steamboat arrived from Pictou.  We
hastened on board, impatient for progress on our homeward journey.
But haste was not called for.  The steamboat would not sail on her
return till morning.  No one could tell why.  It was not on account
of freight to take in or discharge; it was not in hope of more
passengers, for they were all on board.  But if the boat had returned
that night to Pictou, some of the passengers might have left her and
gone west by rail, instead of wasting two, or three days lounging
through Northumberland Sound and idling in the harbors of Prince
Edward Island.  If the steamboat would leave at midnight, we could
catch the railway train at Pictou.  Probably the officials were aware
of this, and they preferred to have our company to Shediac.  We
mention this so that the tourist who comes this way may learn to
possess his soul in patience, and know that steamboats are not run
for his accommodation, but to give him repose and to familiarize him
with the country.  It is almost impossible to give the unscientific
reader an idea of the slowness of travel by steamboat in these
regions.  Let him first fix his mind on the fact that the earth moves
through space at a speed of more than sixty-six thousand miles an
hour.  This is a speed eleven hundred times greater than that of the
most rapid express trains.  If the distance traversed by a locomotive
in an hour is represented by one tenth of an inch, it would need a
line nine feet long to indicate the corresponding advance of the
earth in the same time.  But a tortoise, pursuing his ordinary gait
without a wager, moves eleven hundred times slower than an express
train.  We have here a basis of comparison with the provincial
steamboats.  If we had seen a tortoise start that night from Port
Hawkesbury for the west, we should have desired to send letters by

In the early morning we stole out of the romantic strait, and by
breakfast-time we were over St. George's Bay and round his cape, and
making for the harbor of Pictou.  During the forenoon something in
the nature of an excursion developed itself on the steamboat, but it
had so few of the bustling features of an American excursion that I
thought it might be a pilgrimage.  Yet it doubtless was a highly
developed provincial lark.  For a certain portion of the passengers
had the unmistakable excursion air: the half-jocular manner towards
each other, the local facetiousness which is so offensive to
uninterested fellow-travelers, that male obsequiousness about ladies'
shawls and reticules, the clumsy pretense of gallantry with each
other's wives, the anxiety about the company luggage and the company
health.  It became painfully evident presently that it was an
excursion, for we heard singing of that concerted and determined kind
that depresses the spirits of all except those who join in it.  The
excursion had assembled on the lee guards out of the wind, and was
enjoying itself in an abandon of serious musical enthusiasm.  We
feared at first that there might be some levity in this performance,
and that the unrestrained spirit of the excursion was working itself
off in social and convivial songs.  But it was not so.  The singers
were provided with hymn-and-tune books, and what they sang they
rendered in long meter and with a most doleful earnestness.  It is
agreeable to the traveler to see that the provincials disport
themselves within bounds, and that an hilarious spree here does not
differ much in its exercises from a prayer-meeting elsewhere.  But
the excursion enjoyed its staid dissipation amazingly.

It is pleasant to sail into the long and broad harbor of Pictou on a
sunny day.  On the left is the Halifax railway terminus, and three
rivers flow into the harbor from the south.  On the right the town of
Pictou, with its four thousand inhabitants, lies upon the side of the
ridge that runs out towards the Sound.  The most conspicuous building
in it as we approach is the Roman Catholic church; advanced to the
edge of the town and occupying the highest ground, it appears large,
and its gilt cross is a beacon miles away.  Its builders understood
the value of a striking situation, a dominant position; it is a part
of the universal policy of this church to secure the commanding
places for its houses of worship.  We may have had no prejudices in
favor of the Papal temporality when we landed at Pictou, but this
church was the only one which impressed us, and the only one we took
the trouble to visit.  We had ample time, for the steamboat after its
arduous trip needed rest, and remained some hours in the harbor.
Pictou is said to be a thriving place, and its streets have a cindery
appearance, betokening the nearness of coal mines and the presence of
furnaces.  But the town has rather a cheap and rusty look.  Its
streets rise one above another on the hillside, and, except a few
comfortable cottages, we saw no evidences of wealth in the dwellings.
The church, when we reached it, was a commonplace brick structure,
with a raw, unfinished interior, and weedy and untidy surroundings,
so that our expectation of sitting on the inviting hill and enjoying
the view was not realized; and we were obliged to descend to the hot
wharf and wait for the ferry-boat to take us to the steamboat which
lay at the railway terminus opposite.  It is the most unfair thing in
the world for the traveler, without an object or any interest in the
development of the country, on a sleepy day in August, to express any
opinion whatever about such a town as Pictou.  But we may say of it,
without offence, that it occupies a charming situation, and may have
an interesting future; and that a person on a short acquaintance can
leave it without regret.

By stopping here we had the misfortune to lose our excursion, a loss
that was soothed by no know ledge of its destination or hope of
seeing it again, and a loss without a hope is nearly always painful.
Going out of the harbor we encounter Pictou Island and Light, and
presently see the low coast of Prince Edward Island,--a coast
indented and agreeable to those idly sailing along it, in weather
that seemed let down out of heaven and over a sea that sparkled but
still slept in a summer quiet.  When fate puts a man in such a
position and relieves him of all responsibility, with a book and a
good comrade, and liberty to make sarcastic remarks upon his fellow-
travelers, or to doze, or to look over the tranquil sea, he may be
pronounced happy.  And I believe that my companion, except in the
matter of the comrade, was happy.  But I could not resist a worrying
anxiety about the future of the British Provinces, which not even the
remembrance of their hostility to us during our mortal strife with
the Rebellion could render agreeable.  For I could not but feel that
the ostentatious and unconcealable prosperity of "the States" over-
shadows this part of the continent.  And it was for once in vain that
I said, "Have we not a common land and a common literature, and no
copyright, and a common pride in Shakespeare and Hannah More and
Colonel Newcome and Pepys's Diary?" I never knew this sort of
consolation to fail before; it does not seem to answer in the
Provinces as well as it does in England.

New passengers had come on board at Pictou, new and hungry, and not
all could get seats for dinner at the first table.  Notwithstanding
the supposed traditionary advantage of our birthplace, we were unable
to dispatch this meal with the celerity of our fellow-voyagers, and
consequently, while we lingered over our tea, we found ourselves at
the second table.  And we were rewarded by one of those pleasing
sights that go to make up the entertainment of travel.  There sat
down opposite to us a fat man whose noble proportions occupied at the
board the space of three ordinary men.  His great face beamed delight
the moment he came near the table.  He had a low forehead and a wide
mouth and small eyes, and an internal capacity that was a prophecy of
famine to his fellow-men.  But a more good-natured, pleased animal
you may never see.  Seating himself with unrepressed joy, he looked
at us, and a great smile of satisfaction came over his face, that
plainly said, "Now my time has come."  Every part of his vast bulk
said this.  Most generously, by his friendly glances, he made us
partners in his pleasure.  With a Napoleonic grasp of his situation,
he reached far and near, hauling this and that dish of fragments
towards his plate, giving orders at the same time, and throwing into
his cheerful mouth odd pieces of bread and pickles in an unstudied
and preliminary manner.  When he had secured everything within his
reach, he heaped his plate and began an attack upon the contents,
using both knife and fork with wonderful proficiency.  The man's
good-humor was contagious, and he did not regard our amusement as
different in kind from his enjoyment.  The spectacle was worth a
journey to see.  Indeed, its aspect of comicality almost overcame its
grossness, and even when the hero loaded in faster than he could
swallow, and was obliged to drop his knife for an instant to arrange
matters in his mouth with his finger, it was done with such a beaming
smile that a pig would not take offense at it.  The performance was
not the merely vulgar thing it seems on paper, but an achievement
unique and perfect, which one is not likely to see more than once in
a lifetime.  It was only when the man left the table that his face
became serious.  We had seen him at his best.

Prince Edward Island, as we approached it, had a pleasing aspect, and
nothing of that remote friendlessness which its appearance on the map
conveys to one; a warm and sandy land, in a genial climate, without
fogs, we are informed.  In the winter it has ice communication with
Nova Scotia, from Cape Traverse to Cape Tormentine,--the route of the
submarine cable.  The island is as flat from end to end as a floor.
When it surrendered its independent government and joined the
Dominion, one of the conditions of the union was that the government
should build a railway the whole length of it.  This is in process of
construction, and the portion that is built affords great
satisfaction to the islanders, a railway being one of the necessary
adjuncts of civilization; but that there was great need of it, or
that it would pay, we were unable to learn.

We sailed through Hillsborough Bay and a narrow strait to
Charlottetown, the capital, which lies on a sandy spit of land
between two rivers.  Our leisurely steamboat tied up here in the
afternoon and spent the night, giving the passengers an opportunity
to make thorough acquaintance with the town.  It has the appearance
of a place from which something has departed; a wooden town, with
wide and vacant streets, and the air of waiting for something.
Almost melancholy is the aspect of its freestone colonial building,
where once the colonial legislature held its momentous sessions, and
the colonial governor shed the delightful aroma of royalty.  The
mansion of the governor--now vacant of pomp, because that official
does not exist--is a little withdrawn from the town, secluded among
trees by the water-side.  It is dignified with a winding approach,
but is itself only a cheap and decaying house.  On our way to it we
passed the drill-shed of the local cavalry, which we mistook for a
skating-rink, and thereby excited the contempt of an old lady of whom
we inquired.  Tasteful residences we did not find, nor that attention
to flowers and gardens which the mild climate would suggest.  Indeed,
we should describe Charlottetown as a place where the hollyhock in
the dooryard is considered an ornament.  A conspicuous building is a
large market-house shingled all over (as many of the public buildings
are), and this and other cheap public edifices stand in the midst of
a large square, which is surrounded by shabby shops for the most
part.  The town is laid out on a generous scale, and it is to be
regretted that we could not have seen it when it enjoyed the glory of
a governor and court and ministers of state, and all the
paraphernalia of a royal parliament.  That the productive island,
with its system of free schools, is about to enter upon a prosperous
career, and that Charlottetown is soon to become a place of great
activity, no one who converses with the natives can doubt; and I
think that even now no traveler will regret spending an hour or two
there; but it is necessary to say that the rosy inducements to
tourists to spend the summer there exist only in the guide-books.

We congratulated ourselves that we should at least have a night of
delightful sleep on the steamboat in the quiet of this secluded
harbor.  But it was wisely ordered otherwise, to the end that we
should improve our time by an interesting study of human nature.
Towards midnight, when the occupants of all the state-rooms were
supposed to be in profound slumber, there was an invasion of the
small cabin by a large and loquacious family, who had been making an
excursion on the island railway.  This family might remind an
antiquated novel-reader of the delightful Brangtons in "Evelina;"
they had all the vivacity of the pleasant cousins of the heroine of
that story, and the same generosity towards the public in regard to
their family affairs.  Before they had been in the cabin an hour, we
felt as if we knew every one of them.  There was a great squabble as
to where and how they should sleep; and when this was over, the
revelations of the nature of their beds and their peculiar habits of
sleep continued to pierce the thin deal partitions of the adjoining
state-rooms.  When all the possible trivialities of vacant minds
seemed to have been exhausted, there followed a half-hour of
"Goodnight, pa; good-night, ma;"  "Goodnight, pet;" and "Are you
asleep, ma?"  "No."  "Are you asleep, pa?"  " No; go to sleep, pet."
"I'm going.  Good-night, pa; good-night, ma."  " Goodnight, pet."
"This bed is too short."  " Why don't you take the other?"  "I'm all
fixed now."  "Well, go to sleep; good-night."  "Good-night, ma;
goodnight, pa,"--no answer.  "Good-night,pa."  "Goodnight, pet."  "
Ma, are you asleep?"  "Most."  "This bed is all lumps; I wish I'd
gone downstairs."  "Well, pa will get up."  " Pa, are you asleep?"
"Yes."  "It's better now; good-night, pa."  " Goodnight, pet."
"Good-night, ma."  " Good-night, pet."  And so on in an exasperating
repetition, until every passenger on the boat must have been
thoroughly informed of the manner in which this interesting family
habitually settled itself to repose.

Half an hour passes with only a languid exchange of family feeling,
and then: "Pa?"  "Well, pet."  "Don't call us in the morning; we
don't want any breakfast; we want to sleep."  "I won't."  "Goodnight,
pa; goodnight, ma.  Ma?"  "What is it, dear?"  "Good-night, ma."
"Good-night, pet."  Alas for youthful expectations!  Pet shared her
stateroom with a young companion, and the two were carrying on a
private dialogue during this public performance.  Did these young
ladies, after keeping all the passengers of the boat awake till near
the summer dawn, imagine that it was in the power of pa and ma to
insure them the coveted forenoon slumber, or even the morning snooze?
The travelers, tossing in their state-room under this domestic
infliction, anticipated the morning with grim satisfaction; for they
had a presentiment that it would be impossible for them to arise and
make their toilet without waking up every one in their part of the
boat, and aggravating them to such an extent that they would stay
awake.  And so it turned out.  The family grumbling at the unexpected
disturbance was sweeter to the travelers than all the exchange of
family affection during the night.

No one, indeed, ought to sleep beyond breakfast-time while sailing
along the southern coast of Prince Edward Island.  It was a sparkling
morning.  When we went on deck we were abreast Cape Traverse; the
faint outline of Nova Scotia was marked on the horizon, and New
Brunswick thrust out Cape Tomentine to greet us.  On the still, sunny
coasts and the placid sea, and in the serene, smiling sky, there was
no sign of the coming tempest which was then raging from Hatteras to
Cape Cod; nor could one imagine that this peaceful scene would, a few
days later, be swept by a fearful tornado, which should raze to the
ground trees and dwelling-houses, and strew all these now inviting
shores with wrecked ships and drowning sailors,--a storm which has
passed into literature in "The Lord's-Day Gale " of Mr Stedman.

Through this delicious weather why should the steamboat hasten, in
order to discharge its passengers into the sweeping unrest of
continental travel?  Our eagerness to get on, indeed, almost melted
away, and we were scarcely impatient at all when the boat lounged
into Halifax Bay, past Salutation Point and stopped at Summerside.
This little seaport is intended to be attractive, and it would give
these travelers great pleasure to describe it, if they could at all
remember how it looks.  But it is a place that, like some faces,
makes no sort of impression on the memory.  We went ashore there, and
tried to take an interest in the ship-building, and in the little
oysters which the harbor yields; but whether we did take an interest
or not has passed out of memory.  A small, unpicturesque, wooden
town, in the languor of a provincial summer; why should we pretend an
interest in it which we did not feel?  It did not disturb our
reposeful frame of mind, nor much interfere with our enjoyment of the

On the forward deck, when we were under way again, amid a group
reading and nodding in the sunshine, we found a pretty girl with a
companion and a gentleman, whom we knew by intuition as the "pa" of
the pretty girl and of our night of anguish.  The pa might have been
a clergyman in a small way, or the proprietor of a female boarding-
school; at any rate, an excellent and improving person to travel
with, whose willingness to impart information made even the travelers
long for a pa.  It was no part of his plan of this family summer
excursion, upon which he had come against his wish, to have any hour
of it wasted in idleness.  He held an open volume in his hand, and
was questioning his daughter on its contents.  He spoke in a loud
voice, and without heeding the timidity of the young lady, who shrank
from this public examination, and begged her father not to continue
it.  The parent was, however, either proud of his daughter's
acquirements, or he thought it a good opportunity to shame her out of
her ignorance.  Doubtless, we said, he is instructing her upon the
geography of the region we are passing through, its early settlement,
the romantic incidents of its history when French and English fought
over it, and so is making this a tour of profit as well as pleasure.
But the excellent and pottering father proved to be no disciple of
the new education.  Greece was his theme and he got his questions,
and his answers too, from the ancient school history in his hand.
The lesson went on:

"Who was Alcibiades?

"A Greek."

"Yes.  When did he flourish?"

"I can't think."

"Can't think?  What was he noted for?"

"I don't remember."

"Don't remember?  I don't believe you studied this."

"Yes, I did."

"Well, take it now, and study it hard, and then I'll hear you again."

The young girl, who is put to shame by this open persecution, begins
to study, while the peevish and small tyrant, her pa, is nagging her
with such soothing remarks as, "I thought you'd have more respect for
your pride;" "Why don't you try to come up to the expectations of
your teacher?"  By and by the student thinks she has "got it," and
the public exposition begins again.  The date at which Alcibiades
"flourished" was ascertained, but what he was "noted for" got
hopelessly mixed with what Thernistocles was "noted for."  The
momentary impression that the battle of Marathon was fought by
Salamis was soon dissipated, and the questions continued.

"What did Pericles do to the Greeks?"

"I don't know."

"Elevated 'em, did n't he?  Did n't he elevate Pem?"

"Yes, sir."

"Always remember that; you want to fix your mind on leading things.
Remember that Pericles elevated the Greeks.  Who was Pericles?

"He was a"--

"Was he a philosopher?"

"Yes, sir."

"No, he was n't.  Socrates was a philosopher.  When did he flourish?
And so on, and so on.

O my charming young countrywomen, let us never forget that Pericles
elevated the Greeks; and that he did it by cultivating the national
genius, the national spirit, by stimulating art and oratory and the
pursuit of learning, and infusing into all society a higher
intellectual and social life!  Pa was this day sailing through seas
and by shores that had witnessed some of the most stirring and
romantic events in the early history of our continent.  He might have
had the eager attention of his bright daughter if he had unfolded
these things to her in the midst of this most living landscape, and
given her an "object lesson" that she would not have forgotten all
her days, instead of this pottering over names and dates that were as
dry and meaningless to him as they were uninteresting to his
daughter.  At least, O Pa, Educator of Youth, if you are insensible
to the beauty of these summer isles and indifferent to their history,
and your soul is wedded to ancient learning, why do you not teach
your family to go to sleep when they go to bed, as the classic Greeks
used to?

Before the travelers reached Shediac, they had leisure to ruminate
upon the education of American girls in the schools set apart for
them, and to conjecture how much they are taught of the geography and
history of America, or of its social and literary growth; and
whether, when they travel on a summer tour like this, these coasts
have any historical light upon them, or gain any interest from the
daring and chivalric adventurers who played their parts here so long
ago.  We did not hear pa ask when Madame de la Tour "flourished,"
though "flourish" that determined woman did, in Boston as well as in
the French provinces.  In the present woman revival, may we not hope
that the heroic women of our colonial history will have the
prominence that is their right, and that woman's achievements will
assume their proper place in affairs?  When women write history, some
of our popular men heroes will, we trust, be made to acknowledge the
female sources of their wisdom and their courage.  But at present
women do not much affect history, and they are more indifferent to
the careers of the noted of their own sex than men are.

We expected to approach Shediac with a great deal of interest.  It
had been, when we started, one of the most prominent points in our
projected tour.  It was the pivot upon which, so to speak, we
expected to swing around the Provinces.  Upon the map it was so
attractive, that we once resolved to go no farther than there.  It
once seemed to us that, if we ever reached it, we should be contented
to abide there, in a place so remote, in a port so picturesque and
foreign.  But returning from the real east, our late interest in
Shediac seemed unaccountable to us.  Firmly resolved as I was to note
our entrance into the harbor, I could not keep the place in mind; and
while we were in our state-room and before we knew it, the steamboat
Jay at the wharf.  Shediac appeared to be nothing but a wharf with a
railway train on it, and a few shanty buildings, a part of them
devoted to the sale of whiskey and to cheap lodgings.  This landing,
however, is called Point du Chene, and the village of Shediac is two
or three miles distant from it; we had a pleasant glimpse of it from
the car windows, and saw nothing in its situation to hinder its
growth.  The country about it is perfectly level, and stripped of its
forests.  At Painsec Junction we waited for the train from Halifax,
and immediately found ourselves in the whirl of intercolonial travel.
Why people should travel here, or why they should be excited about
it, we could not see; we could not overcome a feeling of the
unreality of the whole thing; but yet we humbly knew that we had no
right to be otherwise than awed by the extraordinary intercolonial
railway enterprise and by the new life which it is infusing into the
Provinces.  We are free to say, however, that nothing can be less
interesting than the line of this road until it strikes the
Kennebeckasis River, when the traveler will be called upon to admire
the Sussex Valley and a very fair farming region, which he would like
to praise if it were not for exciting the jealousy of the "Garden of
Nova Scotia."  The whole land is in fact a garden, but differing
somewhat from the Isle of Wight.

In all travel, however, people are more interesting than land, and so
it was at this time.  As twilight shut down upon the valley of the
Kennebeckasis, we heard the strident voice of pa going on with the
Grecian catechism.  Pa was unmoved by the beauties of Sussex or by
the colors of the sunset, which for the moment made picturesque the
scraggy evergreens on the horizon.  His eyes were with his heart, and
that was in Sparta.  Above the roar of the car-wheels we heard his
nagging inquiries.

"What did Lycurgus do then?"

Answer not audible.

"No.  He made laws.  Who did he make laws for?"

"For the Greeks."

"He made laws for the Lacedemonians.  Who was another great

"It was--it was--Pericles."

"No, it was n't.  It was Solon.  Who was Solon?"

"Solon was one of the wise men of Greece."

"That's right.  When did he flourish?"

When the train stops at a station the classics continue, and the
studious group attracts the attention of the passengers.  Pa is well
pleased, but not so the young lady, who beseechingly says,

"Pa, everybody can hear us."

"You would n't care how much they heard, if you knew it," replies
this accomplished devotee of learning.

In another lull of the car-wheels we find that pa has skipped over to
Marathon; and this time it is the daughter who is asking a question.

"Pa, what is a phalanx?"

"Well, a phalanx--it's a--it's difficult to define a phalanx.  It's a
stretch of men in one line,--a stretch of anything in a line.  When
did Alexander flourish?"

This domestic tyrant had this in common with the rest of us, that he
was much better at asking questions than at answering them.  It
certainly was not our fault that we were listeners to his instructive
struggles with ancient history, nor that we heard his petulant
complaining to his cowed family, whom he accused of dragging him away
on this summer trip.  We are only grateful to him, for a more
entertaining person the traveler does not often see.  It was with
regret that we lost sight of him at St. John.

Night has settled upon New Brunswick and upon ancient Greece before
we reach the Kennebeckasis Bay, and we only see from the car windows
dimly a pleasant and fertile country, and the peaceful homes of
thrifty people.  While we are running along the valley and coming
under the shadow of the hill whereon St. John sits, with a regal
outlook upon a most variegated coast and upon the rising and falling
of the great tides of Fundy, we feel a twinge of conscience at the
injustice the passing traveler must perforce do any land he hurries
over and does not study.  Here is picturesque St. John, with its
couple of centuries of history and tradition, its commerce, its
enterprise felt all along the coast and through the settlements of
the territory to the northeast, with its no doubt charming society
and solid English culture; and the summer tourist, in an idle mood
regarding it for a day, says it is naught!  Behold what "travels"
amount to!  Are they not for the most part the records of the
misapprehensions of the misinformed?  Let us congratulate ourselves
that in this flight through the Provinces we have not attempted to do
any justice to them, geologically, economically, or historically,
only trying to catch some of the salient points of the panorama as it
unrolled itself.  Will Halifax rise up in judgment against us?  We
look back upon it with softened memory, and already see it again in
the light of history.  It stands, indeed, overlooking a gate of the
ocean, in a beautiful morning light; and we can hear now the
repetition of that profane phrase, used for the misdirection of
wayward mortals,---"Go to Halifax!" without a shudder.

We confess to some regret that our journey is so near its end.
Perhaps it is the sentimental regret with which one always leaves the
east, for we have been a thousand miles nearer Ireland than Boston
is.  Collecting in the mind the detached pictures given to our eyes
in all these brilliant and inspiring days, we realize afresh the
variety, the extent, the richness of these northeastern lands which
the Gulf Stream pets and tempers.  If it were not for attracting
speculators, we should delight to speak of the beds of coal, the
quarries of marble, the mines of gold.  Look on the map and follow
the shores of these peninsulas and islands, the bays, the penetrating
arms of the sea, the harbors filled with islands, the protected
straits and sounds.  All this is favorable to the highest commercial
activity and enterprise.  Greece itself and its islands are not more
indented and inviting.  Fish swarm about the shores and in all the
streams.  There are, I have no doubt, great forests which we did not
see from the car windows, the inhabitants of which do not show
themselves to the travelers at the railway-stations.  In the
dining-room of a friend, who goes away every autumn into the wilds of
Nova Scotia at the season when the snow falls, hang trophies-
-enormous branching antlers of the caribou, and heads of the mighty
moose--which I am assured came from there; and I have no reason to
doubt that the noble creatures who once carried these superb horns
were murdered by my friend at long range.  Many people have an
insatiate longing to kill, once in their life, a moose, and would
travel far and endure great hardships to gratify this ambition.  In
the present state of the world it is more difficult to do it than it
is to be written down as one who loves his fellow-men.

We received everywhere in the Provinces courtesy and kindness, which
were not based upon any expectation that we would invest in mines or
railways, for the people are honest, kindly, and hearty by nature.
What they will become when the railways are completed that are to
bind St. John to Quebec, and make Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and
Newfoundland only stepping-stones to Europe, we cannot say.  Probably
they will become like the rest of the world, and furnish no material
for the kindly persiflage of the traveler.

Regretting that we could see no more of St. John, that we could
scarcely see our way through its dimly lighted streets, we found the
ferry to Carleton, and a sleeping-car for Bangor.  It was in the
heart of the negro porter to cause us alarm by the intelligence that
the customs officer would, search our baggage during the night.  A
search is a blow to one's self-respect, especially if one has
anything dutiable.  But as the porter might be an agent of our
government in disguise, we preserved an appearance of philosophical
indifference in his presence.  It takes a sharp observer to tell
innocence from assurance.  During the night, awaking, I saw a great
light.  A man, crawling along the aisle of the car, and poking under
the seats, had found my traveling-bag and was "going through" it.

I felt a thrill of pride as I recognized in this crouching figure an
officer of our government, and knew that I was in my native land.

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