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Title: American Thumb-prints
Author: Stephens, Kate
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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In shorter form “The New England Woman” appeared in _The Atlantic
Monthly_, and under other title and form “Up-to-Date Misogyny” and
“Plagiarizing Humors of Benjamin Franklin” in _The Bookman_, which
periodicals have courteously allowed republication







  Published April, 1905

  _Electrotyped and Printed by
  J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, U. S. A._



  WAS IN 1878



  PURITANS OF THE WEST                                              11

  THE UNIVERSITY OF HESPERUS                                        35

  TWO NEIGHBORS OF ST. LOUIS                                        87

  THE NEW ENGLAND WOMAN                                            127

  A NEW ENGLAND ABODE OF THE BLESSED                               163

  UP-TO-DATE MISOGYNY                                              187

  “THE GULLET SCIENCE”                                             215



    Let nouther lufe of friend nor feir of fais,
      Mufe zow to mank zour Message, or hald bak
    Ane iot of zour Commissioun, ony wayis
      Call ay quhite, quhite, and blak, that quhilk is blak.

    First he descendit bot of linage small.
    As commonly God usis for to call,
    The sempill sort his summoundis til expres.


If it be heroism that we require, what was Troy town to this?



Of local phases of the American spirit, none has incited more
discussion than that developed in Kansas. The notion that the citizens
of the State are somewhat phrenetic in experimental meliorism; that
they more than others fall into abnormal sympathies and are led
by aberrations of the crowd--intoxications the mind receives in a
congregation of men pitched to an emotional key--this notion long ago
startled peoples more phlegmatic and less prone to social vagaries.

Closer consideration shows the Kansas populace distinctly simple in
mental habit and independent in judgment. Yet their old-time Grangerism
and Greenbackism, and their still later Prohibitionism, Populism,
and stay law have caused that part of the world not so inclined to
rainbow-chasing to ask who they as a people really are, and what
psychopathy they suffer--to assert that they are dull, unthinking, or,
at best, doctrinaire.

This judgment antedates our day, as we said. It was even so far back
as in the time of Abraham Lincoln, when Kansas was not near the force,
nor the promise of the force, it has since become. And it was in that
earlier and poorer age of our country when folks queried a man’s
suitability and preparedness for the senatorial office. Then when
Senatorship fell to General James Lane, and some one questioned the
Free-State fighter’s fitness for his duties, President Lincoln is said
to have hit off the new Senator and the new State with “Good enough for
Kansas!” and a shrug of his bony shoulders. Derogatory catchwords have
had a knack at persisting since men first tried to get the upper hand
of one another by ridicule, and the terse unsympathy and curl of the
lip of Lincoln’s sayings have kept their use to our day.

One outsider, in explaining any new vagary of the Kansans, suggests,
with sophomore ease, “The foreign element.” Another tells you,
convicting himself of his own charge, “It is ignorance--away out there
in the back woods.” “Bad laws,” another conclusively sets down. Opposed
to all these surmises and guesses are the facts that in number and
efficiency of schools Kansas ranks beyond many States, and that in
illiteracy the commonwealth in the last census showed a percentage of
2.9--a figure below certain older States, say Massachusetts, with an
illiterate percentage of 5.9, or New York, with 5.5. As to its early
laws, they were framed in good measure by men and women[1] of New
England blood--of that blood although their forebears may have pushed
westward from the thin soil of New England three generations before the
present Kansans were born. Again its citizens, except an inconsiderable
and ineffective minority, are Americans in blood and tradition.

It is in truth in the fact last named, in the American birth of the
people who gave, and still give, the State its fundamental key, that we
are to find the causes of Kansas neologism and desire for experiment in
every line that promises human betterment. It is a case of spiritual
heir-at-law--the persistence of what the great ecclesiastical
reactionist of our day has anathematized as “the American Spirit.”
For each new ism the Kansans have pursued has been but another form
and working in the popular brain of the amicus humani generis of the
eighteenth-century Revolutionists, or, as the people of their time and
since have put it, “liberty, equality, fraternity.”

Kansas was settled by Americans, American men and American women
possessed by the one dominating idea of holding its territory and its
wealth to themselves and their opinions. They went in first in the
fifties with bayonets packed in Bible boxes. All along railways running
towards their destination they had boarded trains with the future
grasped close in hand, and sometimes they were singing Whittier’s lines:

    “We go to rear a wall of men
      On Freedom’s southern line,
    And plant beside the cotton-tree
      The rugged Northern pine!

       *       *       *       *       *

    “Upbearing, like the Ark of old,
      The Bible in our van,
    We go to test the truth of God
      Against the fraud of man.”

In exalted mood they had chanted this hymn as their trains pulled into
stations farther on in their journey, and the lengthening of the day
told them they were daily westering with the sun. They had carried it
in their hearts with Puritan aggressiveness, with Anglo-Saxon tenacity
and sincerity, as their steamers paddled up the muddy current of the
Missouri and their canvas-covered wagons creaked and rumbled over the
sod, concealing then its motherhood of mighty crops of corn and wheat,
upon which they were to build their home. They were enthusiasts even
on a road beset with hostiles of the slave State to the east. Their
enthusiasm worked out in two general lines, one the self-interest of
building themselves a home--towns, schools, churches,--the other the
idealism of the anti-slavery faith. They were founding a State which
was within a few years to afford to northern forces in the struggle
centring about slavery the highest percentage of soldiers of any
commonwealth; and their spirit forecast the sequent fact that troops
from the midst of their self-immolation would also record the highest
percentage of deaths.

They came from many quarters to that territorial settlement of theirs,
but the radical, recalcitrant stock which had nested in and peopled the
northeastern coast of our country was in the notable majorities from
Western States--from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Iowa; and from New
England, New York, and Pennsylvania also. Some came, indeed, who could
trace no descent from Puritan or Quaker or Huguenot forebear. But there
was still the potent heirship of spirit.

To these men nature gave the gift of seeing their side of the then
universal question. She added a living sympathy with workers, and an
acute sense of the poverty and oppression which humanity at large is
always suffering from those who take because they have power. A free
discussion of slavery and their opposition to slave-holding had put
this deep down in their hearts.

Each man of them--and each woman also--was in fixed principle and
earnestness a pioneer, in pursuit of and dwelling in a world not yet
before the eyes of flesh but sun-radiant to the eyes of the spirit--the
ideal the pioneer must ever see--and holding the present and actual as
but a mote in the beam from that central light.

From a more humorous point of view, each man was clearly a Knight
of La Mancha stripped of the mediæval and Spanish trapping of his
prototype. His Dulcinea--an unexampled combination of idealism
and practicality--his much-enduring wife, upon whose frame and
anxious-eyed face were stamped a yearning for the graces of life.
Her fervor, with true woman strength, was ever persistent. “I always
compose my poems best,” said one of the haler of these dames whose
verses piped from a corner of the University town’s morning journal,
“on wash-day and over the tub.”

These were the conditions of those men and women of the fifties and
early sixties to less lifted, more fleshly souls. The old enthusiasm
that lighted our race in 1620 and many sequent years in Massachusetts
Bay, and the old devotion that led the Huguenots and other oppressed
peoples to our Southern coasts and on “over the mountains,” were
kindled afresh. And the old exaltation of the descendants of these many
peoples--the uplifting that made way for and supported the act of the
Fourth of July in 1776--rose anew. The flame of an idea was in the air
heating and refining the grossest spirits--and the subtle forces of
the Kansans’ vanguard were far from the grossest.

Once in their new home these men and women lived under circumstances
a people has almost never thriven under--circumstances which would
prey upon every fibre of calmness, repose, and sober-mindedness, and
possibly in the end deprive their folk of consideration for the past
and its judgments. “Govern the Kansas of 1855 and ’56!” exclaimed
Governor Shannon years after that time. “You might as well have
attempted to govern the devil in hell.” “Shall the Sabbath never
immigrate,” cried a Massachusetts woman in 1855 in a letter to friends
at home, “and the commandments too?”

Among this people was little presence of what men had wrought. As in
the early settlements of our Atlantic seaboard, all was to be made,
everything to be done, even to the hewing of logs for houses and
digging of wells for water; and in Kansas pressure for energy and time
was vastly increased over those earlier years by the seaboard. The
draughting of laws for controlling a mixed population, with elements
in it confessedly there for turbulence and bloodshed, was for a time
secondary to shingle-making.

Such primitive efforts were more than a generation ago--in fact, fifty
years. But the spirit with which those early comers inaugurated and
carried on their settlement did not perish when the daily need of
its support had passed away. It still abode as a descent of spirit,
meaning an inheritance of spirit, a contagion of spirit, and to its
characteristic features we can to-day as easily point--to its human
sympathies and willingness for experiment--as to the persistence of
a physical mark--the Bourbon nose in royal portraits, say, or the
“Austrian lips” of the Hapsburg mouth. Its evidences are all about you
when you are within the confines of the present-day Kansans, and you
are reminded of the Puritanism which still subordinates to itself much
that is alien in Massachusetts; or you think of the sturdy practicality
of the early Dutch which still modifies New York; or you may go farther
afield and recall the most persistent spirit of the Gauls of Cæsar,
novis plerumque rebus student, which to our time has been the spirit of
the Gauls of the Empire and of President Loubet.

The Kansan has still his human-heartedness and his willingness to
experiment for better things. Exploded hypotheses in manufacture,
farming, and other interests scattered in startling frequency over the
vast acreage of his State, testify to these traits.

He has to this day kept his receptivity of mind. Even now he scorns a
consideration for fine distinctions. He still loves a buoyant optimism.
And for all these reasons he often and readily grants faith to the
fellow who amuses him, who can talk loud and fast, who promises much,
and who gets the most notices in his local dailies. He is like the
author of Don Juan, inasmuch as he “wants a hero,” and at times he is
willing to put up with as grievous a one as was foisted upon the poet.
In the end, however, he has native bed-rock sense, and as his politics
in their finality show, he commonly measures rascals aright. But in his
active pursuit and process of finding them out he has offered himself
a spectacle to less simple-minded, more sophisticated men.

Some years ago, in a grove of primeval oaks, elms, and black-walnuts
neighboring the yellow Kaw and their University town, those settlers of
early days held an old-time barbecue. The meeting fell in the gold and
translucence of the September that glorifies that land. Great crowds
of men and women came by rail and by wagon, and walking about in the
shade, or in the purple clouds that rose from the trampings of many
feet and stood gleaming in the sunshine, they were stretching hands to
one another and crying each to some new-discovered, old acquaintance,
“Is this you?” “How long is it now?” “Thirty-five years?” “You’ve
prospered?” and such words as old soldiers would use having fought a
great fight together--not for pelf or loot but for moral outcome--and
had then lost one another for many a year.

Moving among them you would readily see signs of that “possession of
the god” the Greeks meant when they said ἐνθουσιαμóς. Characteristic
marks of it were at every turn. There was the mobile body--nervous,
angular, expressive--and a skin of fine grain. There was the longish
hair, matted, if very fine, in broad locks; if coarse, standing about
the head in electric stiffness and confusion--the hair shown in the
print of John Brown, in fact. There were eyes often saddened by the
sleeplessness of the idealist--eyes with an uneasy glitter and a vision
directed far away, as if not noting life, nor death, nor daily things
near by, but fixed rather upon some startling shape on the horizon.
The teeth were inclined to wedge-shape and set far apart. There was a
firmly shut and finely curved mouth. “We make our own mouths,” says Dr.
Holmes. About this people was smouldering fire which might leap into
flame at any gust of mischance or oppression.

This describes the appearance in later decades of the corporate man of
the fifties and early sixties--

                        “to whom was given
    So much of earth, so much of heaven,
    And such impetuous blood.”

A sky whose mystery and melancholy, whose solitary calm and elemental
rage stimulate and depress even his penned and grazing cattle, has
spread over him for more than a generation. With his intensity and his
predisposition to a new contrat social he and his descendants have been
subjected to Kansas heat, which at times marks more than one hundred in
the shade, and to a frost that leaves the check of the thermometer far
below zero. He and his children, cultivators of their rich soil, have
been subject to off-years in wheat and corn. They have endured a period
of agricultural depression prolonged because world-wide. They have been
subject, too, to the manipulation of boomers.

Most lymphatic men--any Bœotian, in fact, but it is long before his fat
bottom lands will make a Bœotian out of a Kansan--most lymphatic men
ploughing, planting, and simply and honestly living would be affected
to discontent by the thunder of booms and their kaleidoscopic deceit.
Clever and sometimes unprincipled promoters representing more clever
and unprincipled bond-sellers in Eastern counting-houses sought to
incite speculation and lead the natural idealist by the glamour of
town-building, and county-forming booms, railway and irrigation booms,
and countless other projects.

They played with his virtuous foibles and fired his imagination.
He gave himself, his time, his men, his horses, his implements for
construction; his lands for right of way. He hewed his black walnuts
and elms into sleepers, and sawed his bulky oaks for bridges. He
called special elections and voted aid in bonds. He gave perpetual
exemption from taxes. Rugged enthusiast that he was he gave whatever
he had to give,--but first he gave faith and altruistic looking-out
for the interests of the other man. Great popular works still
abiding--cathedrals in Europe are perhaps the most noted--were put up
by like kindling of the human spirit.

His road was made ready for sleepers, and funds for purchasing iron he
formally handed the promoters,--since which day purslane and smartweed
and golden sunflowers have cloaked the serpentine grades which his own
hands had advanced at the rate of more than a mile between each dawn
and sunset.

One direct relation and force of these inflated plans to the Kansan
have been that they often swerved and controlled the values of his
land, and the prices of those commodities from which a soil-worker
supports a family hungry, growing, and in need of his commonwealth’s
great schools. And the man himself, poor futurist and striver after the
idea, with a soul soaring heavenward and hands stained and torn with
weed-pulling and corn-husking!--his ready faith, his tendency to seek a
hero, his brushing aside of conservative intuition, his meliorism, his
optimism, his receptivity to ideas, his dear humanness--in other words,
his charm, his grace, his individuality, his Americanism--wrought him

Our corporate man, loving, aspiring, working, waiting, started out
with a nervous excitability already given. He was a man with a bee
in his bonnet. He was seeking ideal conditions. Originally he was a
reactionist against feudal bondage, the old bondage of human to human
and of human to land. Later his soul took fire at the new bondage of
human to wage and job. He would have every man and woman about him as
free in person as he was in idea.

What wonder then that he or his descendent spirit in the midst of
agricultural distress enacted a mortgage equity or stay law, and
determined that that law should apply to mortgages in existence at
the passage of the act! He it is of the all-embracing Populism, the
out-reaching Prohibitionism, the husband-man-defensive Grangerism.
Shall we not humanly expect him, and those suffering the contagion
of his noble singleness, to clutch at plans for a social millennium?
“Heaven is as easily reached from Kansas,” wrote an immigrant of 1855,
“as from any other point.”

He values openly what the world in its heart knows is best, and like
all idealists foreruns his time. The legend is always about him of
how the men and women of the early fifties hitched their wagon to a
star--and the stars in his infinity above are divinely luminous and
clear. His meliorism--which would lead his fellows and then the whole
world aright--is nothing if not magnificent.

But although he grubs up the wild rose and morning-glory, ploughing his
mellow soil deep for settings of peach and grape, and supplants the
beauty of the purple iris and prairie verbena with the practicalities
of corn and wheat, he has yet to learn the moral effect of time
and aggregation--that a moon’s cycle is not a millennium, a June
wind fragrant with the honey of his white clover not all of his fair
climate, and that a political colossus cannot stand when it has no
more substantial feet than the yellow clay which washes and swirls in
the river that waters his great State. In reality his excess of faith
hinders the way to conditions his idealism has ever been seeking.

The Kansan is, after all, but a phase--a magnificent present-day
example and striving--of the mighty democratic spirit which has
been groping forward through centuries towards its ideal, the human
race’s ideal of ideals. In his setting forth of the genius of his
people for democracy and the tendency of his blood for experiment and
reform--according to that advice to the Thessalonians of an avaunt
courier of democracy, to prove all things and hold fast to that which
is good--he is led at times upon miry, quaggy places and by the very
largeness of his sympathies enticed upon quicksands which the social
plummet of our day has not yet sounded.


    And not by eastern windows only,
      When daylight comes, comes in the light,
    In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
      But westward, look, the land is bright.


No university has anywhere ever become a great influence, or anything
but a school for children, which was not wholly or almost wholly in the
hands of the faculty or teaching body. _The faculty is the teaching
body._ If you have the right sort of faculty, you have a university
though you have only a tent to lecture in. If, on the other hand, you
try to make a university out of a board of sagacious business men
acting as trustees, and treat the professors simply as “hired men,”
bound to give the college so many hours a week, you may have a good
school for youths, but you will get no enlightening influence or force
out of it for the community at large.

  A writer in _The Nation_, 1889


During a great national struggle for human rights, Laurel Town was
touched by the high seriousness which rises from sincerity to the idea
of human liberty and the laying down of lives in defence of that idea.
Its baptism and its early years were thus purely of the spirit.

A miniature burg, it snuggles upon broad, fat lands, semicircling the
height that rises to the west. From the hill-top the tiny city is
half-buried in green leaves. Looking beyond and to the middle distance
of the landscape, you find rich bottoms of orchard and of corn, and the
Tiber-yellow waters of a broad river running through their plenty.

First immigrants to this country--those who came in back in the
fifties--discovered the hill’s likeness to the great Acropolis of
Athens, and determined that upon it, as upon the heights of the
ancient city of the golden grasshopper, the State’s most sacred temple
should be built. Thus were inspired library and museum, laboratories
and lecture-rooms, of the University of Hesperus, whose roofs are
gleaming in the vivid air to-day just as in some ancient gem a diamond
lying upon clustering gold sends shafts of light through foliations of
red metal.

The brow of this hill beetles toward the south, but instead of the blue
waters of the Saronic Gulf which Sophocles in jocund youth saw dancing
far at sea, Hesperus students sight hills rolling to the horizon, and
thickets of elms and poplars fringing Indian Creek, and instead of the
Pentelic mountains in the northeast they catch the shimmering light
of the green ledges and limestone crests of the northern edge of the
valley the river has chiselled.

But how, you ask--thinking of the fervor of the immigrants of 1854
and ’55--how did this university come into being? In stirring and
tentative times. The institution was first organized by Presbyterians,
who later accepted a fate clearly foreordained, and sold to the
Episcopalians. This branch of the church universal christened the
educational infant Lawrence University, after a Boston merchant, who
sent ten thousand dollars conditioned as a gift on a like subscription.
The institution to this time was “on paper,” as these founders said
of early towns--that is, a plan, a scheme, a possibility. It finally
became the kernel of the University of Hesperus when the State accepted
from Congress a grant of seventy-two square miles of land.

“There shall be two branches of the University,” the charter reads, “a
male and a female branch.” In clearer English, the institution was to
be open to men and women.

Seeds of the convictions which admitted women to instruction had
long been germinating, even before the independence of women was
practically denied by the great Reformation. The idea was in the
mind of our race when we were north-of-Europe barbarians. It found
sporadic expression all through our literature. It is back of Chaucer
in annals of the people and later in such chroniclers as Holinshed.
Bishop Burnet, historian of his “Own Time,” and also Fuller, he of the
human “Worthies,” determined that “the sharpness of the wit and the
suddenness of the conceits of women needed she-schools.” Later Mary
Woolstonecraft wrote: “But I still insist that not only the virtue but
the knowledge of the two sexes should be the same in nature, if not
in degree, and that women, considered not only as moral but rational
creatures, ought to endeavor to acquire human virtues by the same means
as men, instead of being educated like a fanciful kind of half-being.”
And that moral and prudent sampler, Hannah More, declared: “I call
education not that which smothers a woman with accomplishments, but
that which tends to confirm a firm and regular system of character.”

A score of the names of these fore-workers for human liberty are known
to us. But the names that are not known!--the pathos of it! that we
cannot, looking below from our rung in the ladder, tell the countless
who have striven, and fallen striving, that we are here because they
were there, and that to them, often unrecognized and unthanked, our
opportunities are due. They foreran their times, and their struggle
made ours possible.

    “’Tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do!”

But the immediate thought or impulse to make our Western State
institutions co-educational, to give to the daughters the collegiate
leisure and learning of the sons--to whom or to what shall we trace
this idea! They used to explain it in Hesperus by telling you, “The
people about us are for the most part New Englanders in blood, you
know, perhaps not one, certainly not more than two generations removed
to more genial lands, and still retaining the rigor and tenacity and
devotion to principle of that stock.” But one naturally answered this
by saying, “In New England they did not in the fifties and sixties give
their daughters the educational opportunities they gave their sons.
In those decades there were attempts at women’s colleges outside New
England, but none in the neighborhood of Williams, Dartmouth, Amherst,
Harvard, or Yale.”

The better reason is the historic--noted in every movement of our
Aryan race. In this is found what New England civilization has
done, not in Hesperus alone, but in Wisconsin, in California, in
Minnesota, and wherever else it has united with other forces, and lost
the self-consciousness and self-complacency which in our generation
are distinguishing and abiding traits upon its own granitic soil.
Prejudices which eat energy and dwarf activity colonists have commonly
left behind, whether they have entered the swift black ship of the sea
or the canvas-covered wagon of the prairie. This was said of those who
sailed westward and built up ancient Syracuse some twenty-six centuries
agone, and it is true also of the colonists of these later days.

The drawing up of the charter of the University of Hesperus shows how
humanly, simply, and freely State building may be done. Judge Chadwick,
of Laurel Town, gives the candid narrative:

“In the spring of 1864 the Misses Chapin and Miss Elizabeth Watson,
who had established a school here, and who were anxious that the
University should be organized, besought Governor Robinson to see that
it was done. He, or they (or perhaps but one of them), came to me and
insisted that I should go to the capital and secure the passage of an
act organizing the University. The session of the Legislature was near
its close. I went to the capital. In the State library I hunted up
the various charters of similar institutions, and taking the Michigan
University charter for my guide, drafted the act to organize the
University of the State.... Judge Emery was the member of the House....
I do not remember who was the Senator.... I gave the draft to Judge
Emery, who introduced it into the house, and by suspension of the rules
got it through. It went through the Senate in the same way, and was
approved by the governor--Carney.”

But the seed of fire from which this University sprang in the days
when men were fighting for unity, for an idea--this you cannot
understand without a word about the brilliant essence that enwraps you
in that land--Hesperus air and light. This ether no man can describe.
It is as clear as a diamond of finest quality, and each infinitesimal
particle has a thousand radiant facets. You think to take it in your
hand. It is as intangible as a perfume, as illusive as the hopes of
man’s ultimate perfection. The colors of liquid rose are hidden in
it and the glow of gold, and it gives flame to the dullest matter.
It glances upon a gray tree-trunk, and the trunk glitters in purple
and silver-white. It is so limpid and dry that a hill or a bush, or a
grazing sheep far away, stands out in clear relief. It vitalizes. It
whispers of the infinite life of life. Like the sea, it presses upon
you a consciousness of illimitability and immeasurable strength. It is
“most pellucid air,” like that in which the chorus of the “Medea” says
the Athenians were “ever delicately marching.”

It is as like the atmosphere of Italy as the sturdy peach-blossoms
which redden Hesperus boughs in March are like the softer
almond-flowers. The same indescribable grace and radiance are in both
essences. But there are the Hesperus blizzards--vast rivers of icy
air which sweep from upper currents and ensphere the softness and
translucent loveliness of the earth with such frosts as are said to
fill all heaven between the stars.

Under such dynamic skies young men and women have been gathering now
these forty years--before the September equinox has fairly quenched
the glow of summer heat. During a long æstivation a sun burning in
an almost cloudless heaven has beaten upon them day by day. The glow
has purified and expanded their skin, has loosened their joints, and
clothed them in the supple body of the south. Through the darkness of
the night ten thousand stars have shone above their slumbers, and wind
voices out of space have phu-phy-phis-pered through secretive pines and
rolled tz-tz-tz upon the leathery leaves of oaks. Such days and nights
have been over them since the wild grape tossed its fragrant blossoms
in damp ravines in the passion of May.

These students have come from all kinds of homes, from meagre town
houses, from the plainest and most forlorn farm-houses, and from other
houses laden and bursting with plenty--and plenty in Hesperus is always
more plenty than plenty anywhere else. Many of these young people have
been nurtured delicately, but a large number have doubtless tasted the
bitterness of overwork and the struggle of life before their teens.

Perhaps their parents came to Hesperus newly wedded, or in the early
years of married life with a brood of little children. If their coming
was not in the stridulous cars of some Pacific or Santa Fé railway,
then it was over the hard-packed soil in most picturesque of pioneer
fashions--a huge canvas-covered wagon carrying the family cook-stove,
beds, and apparel, and, under its creaking sides, kettles for boilers,
pails for fetching water from the nearest run, and axes to cut wood
for evening fires. Every article the family carried must answer some
requirement or use. The horses, too, have their appointed tasks, for,
the journey once accomplished, they will mark off the eighty acres the
family are going to pre-empt, and afterwards pull the plough through
the heavy malarious sod.

On the seat of the wagon the wife and mother, wrapped in extremes of
cold in a patchwork quilt, at times nursed the baby, and in any case
drove with a workmanlike hand. John Goodman was sometimes back with
the collie, snapping his blacksnake at the cattle and urging them on.
But oftenest father and mother were up in the seat, and boy and girl
trooping behind in barefooted and bareheaded innocence, enjoying happy
equality and that intimate contact with the cows which milky udders

Now this, or some way like this, was the introduction of a quota of
Hesperus men and women to their fat earth and electric atmosphere.
It is therefore not to be wondered at that these young people come
to their University with little of the glamour nourished by delicate
environment and the graces of life. Their earliest years have been
spent upon the bed-rock of nature wrestling with the hardest facts
and barest realities. They have suffered the deprivations and the
unutterable trials of patience and faith which the world over are the
lot of pioneers; and they have had the returns of their courage.
Every self-respecting man and boy has been, perhaps still is, expected
to do the work of two men. Every woman and girl to whom the god of
circumstance had not been kind must be ready to perform, alike and
equally well, the duties of man or woman--whichever the hour dictated.
“Hesperus,” says an unblushing old adage of the fifties--“Hesperus is
heaven to men and dogs and hell to women and horses.”

But from whatever part of the State the students come to their
University, he and she commonly come--they are not sent. The
distinction is trite, but there is in it a vast difference. In many
cases they have made the choice and way for themselves. They have
earned money to pay their living while at school, and they expect,
during the three, four, or five years they are in their intellectual
Canaan, to spend vacations in work--in harvesting great wheat-fields
of Philistia, or in some other honest bread-winning. They are so close
to nature, and so radiantly strong in individuality, that no one of
them, so far as rumor goes, has ever resorted to the commonest method
of the Eastern impecunious collegian for filling his cob-webbed purse
with gold. The nearest approach I know to such zeal was the instance
of the student who slept (brave fellow) scot-free in an undertaker’s
establishment. He answered that functionary’s night-bell. Then he
earned half-dollars in rubbing up a coffin or washing the hearse;
adding to these duties the care of a church, milking of cows, tending
of furnaces, digging of flower-beds, beating of carpets, and any other
job by which a strong and independent hand could win honest money for
books and clothing and food. It was as true for him now as when Dekker,
fellow-player with Shakespeare and “a high-flier of wit even against
Ben Jonson himself”--to use Anthony à Wood’s phrase--when Dekker sang--

    “Then he that patiently want’s burden bears,
     No burden bears, but is a king, a king.
         O sweet content, O sweet content!
     Work apace, apace, apace,
     Honest labor bears a lovely face,
     Then hey nonny, nonny; hey nonny, nonny.”

To one young man, whose course was preparing him for studies of Knox’s
theology upon Knox’s own heath, a harvest of forty acres of wheat
brought a competence, as this arithmetic will show: 40 × 50 × $0.50
= $1000. He planted, he said, in the early days of September, before
leaving for college, and cut the grain after commencement in June.
The blue-green blades barely peeped through the glebe during winter.
When springtime came, and the hot sun shone upon the steaming earth,
and the spirit of growth crept into the roots, an invalid father--the
young planter being still in academic cassock--kept the fences up and
vagrant cows from mowing the crop under their sweet breath. Other men
often told of like ways of earning not only college bread but also
college skittles.

Women students had commonly not so good a chance at wresting German
lyrics or Plato’s idealism from a wheat-furrow. Report of such
advantages at least never reached my ear. But this may be due to
the fact that women are reticent about the means of their success,
while men delight to dwell upon their former narrow circumstances and
triumphant exit from such conditions.

Some Hesperus girl may have made money in hay, and indeed have made
the hay as charmingly as Madame de Sévigné reports herself to have
done--and certainly, in Hesperus conditions, without the episode of
the recalcitrant footman which Mistress de Sévigné relates. Now and
then a young woman did say that she was living during her studies
on funds she herself had earned. One doughty maiden, “a vary parfit,
gentil knight,” her face ruddy with healthy blood, her muscles firm and
active--such a girl said one day, in extenuation of her lack of Greek
composition, that “her duties had not permitted her to prepare it.”

“But that is your duty, to prepare it,” I answered. “Are you one of
those students who never allow studies to interfere with ‘business’?”

“No,” she said, quickly; “but let me tell you how it happened. The
boarding-house where I stay is kept by a friend of my mother. She
offers me board if I will help her. So I get up at five in the morning
and cook breakfast, and after I have cleaned up I come up here. In
the afternoon I sweep and dust, and it takes me till nearly dark. The
evening is the only time I have for preparing four studies.”

What became of this girl, you ask? She married a professor in an
Eastern college.

It is well to reiterate, however, in order to convey no false
impression of Hesperus sturdiness and self-reliance, that
many, probably a majority, of the students were supported by
their natural protectors. But it is clear that there is more
self-maintenance--self-reliance in money matters--at the Hesperus
University than in any college generally known in the East, and that
the methods of obtaining self-succor are at times novel and resultant
from an agricultural environment. In evidence that there are students
more fortunate--one should rather say more moneyed, for the blessings
of money are not always apparent to the inner eye--are the secret
societies which flourish among both men and women. The club or society
houses, for the furnishing of which carte blanche has been given the
individual humanely known as interior decorator, see not infrequently
courtesies from one Greek letter society to another, then and there
kindly wives of the professors matronizing.[2]

An early introduction into the battle of life breeds in us humans
practicality and utilitarianism. Most unfortunately it disillusions. It
takes from the imaginativeness which charms and transfigures the early
years of life. In the University of Hesperus one found the immediate
fruit of this experience in the desire of the student, expressed before
he was thoroughly within the college gates, of obtaining that which
would be of immediate practical advantage to himself. He demanded what
the Germans call brodstudien, and sometimes very little beyond the
knowledge which he could convert into Minnesota wheat or some other
iota of the material prosperity which surges from east to west and
waxes on every side of our land. How strenuously one had to fight this
great impulse! and against what overwhelming odds! It was a reacting of
King Canute’s forbiddance to the sea, and, like that famous defeat, it
had its humors.

You could see so plainly that this demon of practicality had been
implanted by want, and privation, and a knowledge drunk with the
mother’s milk, that the struggle of life on that untested soil was a
struggle to live; you could see this so plainly that you often felt
constrained to yield to its cry and urgency.

And the weapons at hand to fight it were so few! Materialism on
every hand. And it was plain, also, that here was but an eddy in the
wave--that the impulse toward brodstudien was undoubtedly but a groping
forward in the great movement of the half-century that has endowed
realschulen from St. Petersburg to San Francisco, and is perhaps but
the beginning of the industrial conquest of the world--in its first
endeavors necessarily crippled, over-zealous and impotent of best works.

Yet in the face of every concession there came anew to your conscience
the conviction, haunting unceasingly, of the need of the idea in
academic life, of the need of the love of study for its own sake, of
a broader education of the sympathies, of greater activity in the
intangible world of thought and feeling--desires of souls “hydroptic
with a sacred thirst.” To these alone did it behoove us to concede, for
through the spirit alone could the “high man” sustainedly lift up his

    “Still before living he’d learn how to live--
             No end to learning.
     Earn the means first--God surely will contrive
             Use for our earning.

     Others mistrust and say, ‘But time escapes,--
             Live now or never!’
     He said, ’What’s Time? leave Now for dogs and apes,
             Man has Forever.’”

The ratio of Hesperus students who chose the old form of scholastic
training, called through long centuries the Humanities, was some
little time ago not more than one-fifth of those in the department of
literature and arts. Since the number was so small--all departments
would then hardly count five hundred students--the growth was favored
of that most delightful feature of small-college life, friendship
between instructor and undergraduate. Such offices often grew to
significant proportions during a student’s four collegiate years. All
genialities aided them; and nothing sinister hindered.

The young folks’ hearts were as warm as may be found upon any generous
soil, and they held a sentiment of personal loyalty which one needed
never to question. They went to their University, after such longing
and eagerness, so thoroughly convinced that there was to be found the
open sesame to whatever in their lives had been most unattainable,
that their first attitude was not the critical, negative, which one
notices in some universities deemed more fortunate, but the positive
and receptive. If they did not find that which to their minds seemed
best, had they not the inheritance of hope?--a devise which Hesperus
earth and air entail upon all their children, and upon which all are
most liberally nurtured.

Then the Hesperus youth had a defect, if one may so put it, that
aided him materially to a friendly attitude with his instructors. He
was, with rare exceptions, as devoid of reverence for conventional
distinctions as a meadow-lark nesting in last year’s tumble-weed
and thinking only of soaring and singing. In this, perhaps, is the
main-spring of the reason why nearly every student, either through
some inborn affinity or by election of studies, drifted into genial
relations with some member of the faculty.

The pleasantest part of my day’s work used to be in the retirement of
the Greek study and from eight to nine in the morning. Never a student
of mine who did not come at that hour for some occasion or need. One
man snatched the opportunity to read at sight a good part of the
Odyssey. Another took up and discussed certain dialogues of Plato.
Another who aimed at theological learning studied the Greek Testament
and the “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.” Others came in to block
out courses of work. Still others were preparing papers and gathering
arguments, authorities, and data for debating societies and clubs.

In that hour, too, a sympathetic ear would hear many a personal history
told with entire frankness and naïveté. One poor fellow had that
defect of will which is mated at times with the humorous warmth which
the Germans call gemüth, and the added pain of consciousness of his
own weakness. Another clear-headed, muscular-handed, and ready youth
measured his chances of getting wood to saw,--“just the exercise he
needed, out of doors,”--horses to groom, and the city lamps to light,
to earn the simple fare which he himself cooked. Many a pathetic story
found tongue in that morning air, and times were when fate dropped
no cap of recognition and granted no final victory. In hearing the
details of hope deferred, of narrow estate and expansive ambition, you
longed for the fabled Crœsus touch which turned want to plenty, or,
more rationally, you projected a social order where the young and inapt
should not suffer for the sins of others, but be within the sheltering
arms of some sympathetic power.

There was the mildness of the chinook to this social blizzard, however,
for groups moved even in the dewy hour of half-past eight toward the
open door of the Greek lecture-room, laughing at the last college joke
or secret society escapade, and forecasting who would be the next
penitent before the council. Also certain youths and maids, between
whom lay the engagement announced by a ring on the heart-finger--these
one might see hanging over and fingering--

    “Vor Liebe und Liebesweh”--

volumes lying upon my table, and in their eagerness and absorption
of the world in two, dog-earing the golden edges of ever-living
Theocritus. And why not? Such entanglements in the web of love oftenest
differed in no way from the innocence and simplicity of the pristine
Daphnes and Coras. They were living again, the Sicilian shepherd and
shepherdess, and wandering in the eternally virid fields of youth. The
skies and trees and waters were merely not of Trinacria. But Hesperus
heavens omitted no degree of ardor.

And had you seen her, you would never have blamed the youth for loving
the college maid. She has the charm abloom in the girlhood of every
land, and most of all in this of ours. Physically she differs little
from her sister in Eastern States. Her form is as willowy. She has,
except in the case of foreign-born parents, the same elongated head and
bright-glancing eye. Her skin sometimes lacks in fairness owing to the
desiccating winds of the interior; but there is the same fineness of

Power of minute observation and a vivacious self-reliance are
characteristics of the girl of the University of Hesperus--and, indeed,
of the girl throughout the West. She sees everything within her
horizon. Nothing escapes her eye or disturbs her animated self-poise.
She has not the Buddhistic self-contemplation the New England girl is
apt to cultivate; nor is she given to talking about her sensations
of body and moods of mind. I never heard her say she wanted to fall
in love in order to study her sensations--as a Smith College alumna
studying at Barnard once declared. She rarely pursues fads. Neither
is she a fatalist. And she never thinks of doubting her capacity of
correct conclusions upon data which she gathers with her own experience
of eye and ear. From early years she has been a reasoner by the
inductive method, and a believer in the equality and unsimilarity of
men and women. Undeniably her mental tone is a result of the greater
friction with the world which the girl of the West experiences in
her fuller freedom. Conventionalism does not commonly overpower the
individual--social lines are not so closely defined--in those States
where people count by decades instead of by centuries.

And what is said of this University girl’s observing faculties is
in nowise untrue of her brother’s. Nature, the most Socratic of all
instructors and the pedagogue of least apparent method, seems actually
to have taught him more than his sister, as, in fact, the physical
universe is apt to teach its laws more clearly to the man than to the
woman, even if she hath a clearer vision of the moral order. Perhaps
the man’s duties knit him more closely to physical things.

With clear, far-seeing eyes--for plenty of oxygen has saved them from
near-sightedness--a Hesperus boy will distinguish the species of hawk
flying yonder in the sky, forming his judgment by the length of wing
and color-bars across the tail. I have heard him comment on the tarsi
of falcons which whirled over the roadway as he was driving, and from
their appearance determine genus and species. He knows the note and
flight of every bird. He will tell you what months the scarlet tanager
whistles in the woods, why leaves curl into cups during droughts, and a
thousand delicate facts which one who has never had the liberty of the
bird and squirrel in nowise dreams of.

And why should he not? All beasts of the prairie and insects of the
air are known to him as intimately as were the rising and setting
stars to the old seafaring, star-led Greeks. During his summer the
whip-poor-will has whistled in the shadow of the distant timber, and
the hoot-owl has ghosted his sleep. He has wakened to the carol of the
brown thrush and the yearning call of the mourning dove, as the dawn
reached rosy fingers up the eastern sky.

He has risen to look upon endless rows of corn earing its milky
kernels, and upon fields golden with nodding wheat-heads. And from the
impenetrable centre of the tillage, when the brown stubble has stood
like needles to his bare feet, he has heard the whiz of the cicada
quivering in the heated air. The steam-thresher has then come panting
and rumbling over the highway, and in the affairs of men the boy has
made his first essay. He cuts the wires that bind the sheaves, or feeds
the hopper, or catches the wheat, or forks away the yellow straw, or
ties the golden kernels in sacks, or brings water to the choked and
dusty men. He runs here and there for all industries.

Perhaps it is because of his association with such fundamentals of life
that this boy has great grasp upon the physical world. In his very
appearance one sees a life untaught in the schools of men. In looking
at him there is nothing of which you are so often reminded as of a
young cottonwood-tree. The tree and the boy somehow seem to have a
kinship in structure, and to have been built by the same feeling upward
of matter. And this perhaps he is--a broad-limbed, white-skinned,
animalized, great-souled poplar, which in ages long past dreamed of
red blood and a beating heart and power of moving over that fair
earth--after the way that Heine’s fir-tree dreamed of the palm--and
finally through this yearning became the honest boysoul and body which
leaps from pure luxuriance of vigor, and runs and rides and breathes
the vital air of Hesperus to-day.

But even with the strong-limbed physique which open-air life upbuilds,
the Hesperus students have their full quota of nervousness. Elements in
their lives induce it. First there is the almost infinite possibility
of accomplishment for the ambitious and energetic--so little is done,
so much needs to be. Again, temperature changes of their climate are
most sudden and extreme. A third incentive to nervous excitation is
the stimulant of their wonderful atmosphere, which is so exhilarating
that dwellers upon the Hesperus plateau suffer somnolence under the
air-pressure and equilibrium of the seaboard.

Unfortunately the students have until lately had nothing that could
be called a gymnasium, in which they might counterpoise nerve-work
with muscular action. At one time they endeavored to equip a modest
building. In the Legislature, however, the average representative,
the man who voted supplies, looked back upon his own boyhood, and,
recalling that he never suffered indigestion while following the plough
down the brown furrow, set his head against granting one dollar of the
State’s supplies for the deed fool athletics; in fact, he lapsed for
the moment into the mental condition of, say, a Tory of Tom Jones’s
time or a hater of the oppressed races of to-day.

This one instance will possibly give a shadow of impression of the
power base politics--reversions to conditions our race is evolving
from--have had in Hesperus University life. The power was obtained in
the beginning chiefly because of the University’s sources of financial
support--appropriations by biennial Legislatures in which every item,
the salary of each individual professor, was scanned, and talked over,
and cut down to the lowest bread-and-water figure, first by the
committee in charge of the budget and afterwards by the Legislature
in full session. One instance alone illustrates. In the early spring
of 1897, when the University estimate was before the Legislature for
discussion and the dominating Populists were endeavoring to reduce its
figure, a legislator sturdily insisted: “They’re too stingy down there
at the University. They’re getting good salaries, and could spare a sum
to some one who would undertake to put the appropriations through.”
One thousand dollars was said to be “about the size of the job.” A cut
of twenty per cent., generally speaking, upon already meagre salaries
resulted to a faculty too blear-eyed politically and unbusiness-like
to see its financial advantage. After two or three years the stipends
were restored to their former humility, the Legislature possibly having
become ashamed.

And in the make-up of the senatus academicus, or board of regents,
thereby hangs, or there used to hang, much of doubt and many a
political trick and quibble. It was a variation of the dream of the
Texas delegate to the nominating convention--“The offices! That’s
what we’re here for.” For if a Democratic governor were elected, he
appointed from his party men to whom he was beholden in small favors.
The members of the board were Democrats, that is, and were expected to
guard the interests of their party. Or if the voters of Hesperus chose
a Republican executive, he in turn had his abettors whom he wanted
to dignify with an academic course for which there were no entrance
examinations beyond faithfulness to party lines and party whips. It
thus happened that the fitness of the man has not always been a prime
consideration in his appointment. More often because he was somebody’s
henchman, or somebody’s friend, the executive delighted to honor him.

These political features in the board of regents materially affected
the faculty. For instance, if there were among the professors one who
illustrated his lectures or class-room work by examples of the justice
and reasonableness of free trade, he acted advisedly for his tenure
if he lapsed into silence when the Republicans were in power. But if,
on the other hand, he advocated protection instead of free trade,
while the Democrats held State offices--which happened only by unusual
fate--it was prudent for the professor to hold his tongue.

Upon every question of the day, and even in presenting conditions of
life in ancient days, as, for instance, in Greece, the faculty were
restrained, or at least threats were rendered. The petty politics of
an agricultural democracy acted upon academic life in precisely the
same way that autocracy and clericalism in Germany have affected
its university faculties. In Hesperus professors have been dismissed
without any excuse, apparent reason, or apology, because of a change
of administration at the State capital and a hungry party’s coming
into power. In various callings, or lines of life, the individual may
be, nay, often is, wantonly sacrificed, but surely one of the saddest
results of political shystering is the cheapening of the professor’s
chair, and rendering that insecure for the permanence of which active
life and its plums have been yielded.

Hinging immediately upon the political machine are the rights of and
recognition of women in university government and pedagogic work. The
fact that two or three women were the strenuous initiators of the
institution has been forgotten, and no longer is there faith that

    “The woman’s cause is man’s; they rise or sink Together.”

With all its coeducation, Hesperus has not yet evolved--as have New
York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Wisconsin--to women
regents or trustees. The people have not yet awakened to the justice
of demanding that, in a State institution open to young women as well
as to young men, women as well as men shall be in its government and

And within the brown walls of the institution a woman may not carry
her learning to the supreme pedagogic end. “People ridicule learned
women,” said clear-eyed Goethe, speaking for his world, the confines of
which at times extend to and overlap our own, “and dislike even women
who are well informed, probably because it is considered impolite to
put so many ignorant men to shame.” Such a man--an ignorant man, one
of the party appointees just now spoken of--when a woman was dismissed
from the Greek chair some years ago, declared, “The place of women
is naturally subordinate; we shall have no more women professors.” It
was a pitiful aping of dead and gone academic prejudices. To this day,
however, but one act--that rather an enforced one--has gainsaid his
dictum. A woman has been appointed to the chair of French. It remains
to be seen whether her salary is the same as that of the men doing work
of equal grade and weight with her own.

    “We cross the prairie as of old
       The pilgrims crossed the sea,
     To make the West, as they the East,
       The homestead of the free”--

sang the men and women of the fifties as their train pulled out of
Eastern stations and their steamboats paddled up the waters of the Big
Muddy. But how often it happens that what one generation will die for,
the next will hold of little value, or even in derision!

Not wholly independent of politics, not without the uses and abuses
of politics, is a great corporation which one of necessity mentions
because it has played no small part in Hesperus University life. In
those portions of our country where the units of the Methodist church
are segregate few know the gigantic secular power it possesses in the
South and in the West. The perfection of its organization is like that
of the Roman Catholic Church where it is longest at home, or like the
unity of the Latter Day Saints in their centre, Utah. The Methodists in
Hesperus far outnumber in membership and money any other denomination.
They are tenacious of their power, as religious denominations have
ever been, and aggressive in upbuilding schools of their own voice and
foundation. The question, “What shall we do to keep on the good side
of the Methodists?” was, therefore, not infrequently asked in Hesperus
University politics. The answer was practical: “Make us Methodists.
Bring Methodism to us to stop the antagonism of a powerful body.” Such
a solving of the problem--for these reasons--was not high-minded; it
was not moral courage. But it was thought politic--and it was done.

Some of the best elements of our day have been profoundly at work among
the Methodists. Many of the denomination have been in the vanguard of
the march to better things. But it is fair to the course of Hesperus
University, which has sometimes halted, to say that sagacious vigor
and a knowledge of the best--τὰ Βέλτιστα--were not in every case the
claim to distinction of its Methodist head. “Aus Nichts,” says Fichte,
“wird nimmer Etwas.” But mediocrity--or worse--did not always prevail.
Under absolutely pure and true conditions a man would be chosen for his
fitness to fill the office of Chancellor, no matter what his religious
bias, unless, indeed, that bias marred his scholarship and access to
men, and thus really became an element in his unfitness.

In a perspective of the University of Hesperus it is necessary to
consider these various controlling forces as well as the spiritual
light of its students. And yet to those who have faith in its growth
in righteousness there is an ever-present fear. The greatness of the
institution will be in inverse proportion to the reign of politics,
materialism, and denominationalism in its councils, and the fear is
that the people may not think straight and see clear in regard to this
great fact. Upon spiritual lines alone can its spirit grow, and if an
institution of the spirit is not great in the spirit, it is great in

Its vigor and vitality are of truth in its young men and women. One boy
or one girl may differ from another in glory, but each comes trailing
clouds of light, and of their loyalty and stout-heartedness and courage
for taking life in hand too many pæans cannot be chanted, or too many
triumphant ἰώ raised. They have been the reason for the existence of
the institution now more than a generation. Their spiritual content is
its strength, and is to be more clearly its strength when guidance of
its affairs shall have come to their hands.

Their spiritual content, we say--it should reflect that life of theirs
when heaven seems dropping from above to their earth underfoot--in
addition to the labors and loves of men and women, a procession of joys
from the February morning the cardinal first whistles “what cheer.”

While dog-tooth violets swing their bells in winds of early March
bluebirds are singing. The red-bud blossoms, and robins carol from its
branches. Then the mandrake, long honored in enchantment, opens its
sour-sweet petals of wax. Crimson-capped woodpeckers test tree-trunks
and chisel their round house with skilful carpentry. The meadow-lark
whistles in mating joy. Purple violets carpet the open woods. Trees
chlorophyl their leaves in the warm sun. The wild crab bursts in
sea-shell pink, and sober orchards shake out ambrosial perfume. Soft,
slumberous airs puff clouds across the sky, and daylight lingers long
upon the western horizon. Summer is come in.

The cuckoo cries. The hermit thrush pipes from his dusky covert. Doves,
whose aching cadences melt the human heart, house under leaves of
grapevine and hatch twin eggs. Vast fields of clover bloom in red and
white, and butterflies and bees intoxicate with honey swarm and flit
in all-day ravaging. Vapors of earth rise in soft whirls and stand to
sweeten reddening wheat and lancet leaves of growing corn.

Arcadia could hold nothing fairer, and the god Pan himself, less satyr
and more soul than of old, may be waiting to meet you where some fallen
cottonwood bridges a ravine and the red squirrel hunts his buried

There “life is sweet, brother. There’s day and night, brother, both
sweet things; sun and moon and stars, brother, all sweet things.
There’s likewise a wind on the heath.”

They have most brilliant suns. They breathe sparkling, lambent ether.
They look daily upon elm and osage orange, oaks and locusts in summer
so weighted with leaves that no light plays within the recess of
branches. All the night winds sough through these dusky trees, while
slender voices, countless as the little peoples of the earth, murmur in
antiphonal chorus.

And above are the patient stars and Milky Way dropping vast fleeces of
light upon our earth awhirl in the dear God’s Arms.

       *       *       *       *       *

The West is large. That which would be true of a university in one part
of its broad expanse might not be true of another institution of like
foundation some distance away. And what might be said of a college or
university independent of politics, would in nowise be averable of one
pretty well controlled by that perplexing monitor.

Again, a fact which might be asserted of a college built up by some
religious denomination might be radically false if claimed for one
supported by the taxpayers of a great commonwealth, and hedged by
sentiment and statute from the predominance of any ecclesiasticism.

You speak of the general characteristics of the University of Michigan,
but these characteristics are not true of the little college down in
Missouri, or Kentucky, or Ohio. Neither would the facts of life in
some institutions in Chicago be at one with those of a thriving school
where conditions are markedly kleinstädtisch.

In speaking of the West we must realize its vast territory and the
varying characteristics of its people. Of what is here set down
I am positive of its entire truth only so far as one institution
is concerned, namely, the titulary--that is, the University of
Hesperus--which recalleth the city bespoken in the Gospel according to
Matthew--that it is set upon a hill and cannot be hid.


There was never in any age more money stirring, nor never more stir to
get money.

  “The Great Frost of January, 1608”

Women have seldom sufficient serious employment to silence their
feelings: a round of little cares, or vain pursuits, frittering away
all strength of mind and organs, they become naturally only objects of


    You have too much respect upon the world:
    They lose it that do buy it with much care.



The Big Muddy built the fertile regions near its course. Dropping in
warm low tides mellow soil gathered from upper lands, it pushed the
flood of the sea farther and farther to the south. Non palma sine
pulvere has been the song of its waters--no green will grow here
without my mould.

It was at its wonder-work those millions of suns ago when the tiny
three-toed horse browsed among the grasses of what is now Kansas.
Its great years can be measured only by the dial of God. All the
monstrosities of the eld of its birth it has survived, and like a
knowing, sentient thing--a thinking, feeling thing--it has been
expanding and contracting, doubling up and straightening out its tawny
body, each one of its numberless centuries pushing its uncounted mouths
farther toward the submerged mountains of the Antilles.

In its thaumaturgy it formed vast prairies and rolling lands. Upon
its gently-packed earth forests shot up. Subterranean streams jetted
limpid springs, which joined and grew to rivers open to the light of
day. Above the heavens were broad and the horizon far away--as far as
you outlook at sea when sky and earth melt to a gray, and you stand
wondering where the bar of heaven begins and where the restless waters

Indians, autochthons, or, perchance, wanderers from Iberia, or Babylon,
were here. Then white men came to the flat brown lands, and that they
brought wives showed they meant to stay and build a commonwealth. The
two raised hearthstones for their family, and barns for herds and
flocks. They marked off fields and knotted them with fruit trees,
and blanketed them with growing wheat, and embossed them in days of
ripeness with haystacks such as the race of giants long since foregone
might have built. In their rich cornfields they set up shocks which
leaned wearily with their weight of golden kernels, or stood torn and
troubled by cattle nosing for the sugary pulp. Such works their heaven
saw and to-day sees, their air above entirely bright, beading and
sparkling in its inverted cup through every moment of sunshine.

Over this land and its constant people icy northers, victorious in
elemental conflicts far above the Rockies, rush swirling and sweeping.
They snap tense, sapless branches and roll dried leaves and other
ghosts of dead summer before their force. They pile their snows in the
angles of the rail fence and upon the southern banks of ravines, and
whistle for warmth through the key-holes and under the shrunken doors
of farm-houses.

But winds and snows disappear, and again life leaps into pasture-land.
A yellow light glowing between branches foreruns the green on brown
stalk and tree. The meadow-lark lifts his buoyant note in the air, and
the farmer clears his field and manures his furrow with sleepy bonfires
and the ashes of dead stalks. Earth springs to vital show in slender
grasses and rose-red verbena, and the pale canary of the bastard indigo.

In this great folkland of the Big Muddy, which is beyond praise in
the ordinary phrase of men, there live alongside many other types, a
peculiar man and woman. They are--to repeat, for clearness’ sake--only
two of many types there indwelling, for it is true of these parts as
was said of England in 1755: “You see more people in the roads than in
all Europe, and more uneasy countenances than are to be found in the
world besides.”

The man is seen in all our longitudes; the woman is rarely in any
other milieu. She is a product of her city and town. The women of the
country have ever before them queryings of the facts of life, the great
lessons and slow processes of nature, the depth and feeling of country
dwelling. But this city-woman suffers from shallowness and warp through
her unknowledge of nature and the unsympathy with fellow humans that
protection in bourgeois comfort engenders. She is inexperienced in the
instructive adventure of the rich and the instructive suffering of the
poor. The basis of her life is conventional.

The dollar to her eyes is apt to measure every value. Let us not forget
that in the history of the world this is no new estimate. It was the
ancient Sabine poet who advised “make money--honestly if we can, if
not, dishonestly--only, make money.” “This is the money-got mechanic
age,” cried Ben Jonson in Elizabeth’s day. And the poet of the “Elegy
written in a Country Church-Yard” more than one hundred and fifty years
ago wrote to his friend Wharton: “It is a foolish Thing that one can’t
only not live as one pleases, but where and with whom one pleases,
without Money.... Money is Liberty, and I fear money is Friendship too
and Society, and almost every external Blessing.”

Lacking simplicity this woman is submerged in artificiality and false
conceptions of life values. Her hair, often blondined and curled
in fluffy ringlets, is filleted with gold-mounted combs above a
countenance fine-featured and a trifle hardened. Her well-formed hands,
even in daily comings and goings, are flashing with rings. She loves to
turn the precious stones and watch them divide the light. These jewels
are her first expression of accumulating wealth--these and the pelts
of animals difficult to capture, and therefore costly. After obtaining
these insignia of opulence she begins to long for a third--the gentle,
inept riot and solitary Phorcides’s eye for seeing life which she calls

The voice is an unconscious index of one’s spiritual tone; hers is
metallic. At times it is deep, with a masculine note and force. The
gift of flexible English speech, belonging to her by the right of
inheritance of every American--she is at times of the old American
stock, but more often of foreign-born parents,--she is apt to wrap
in stereotyped phrases or newspaper slang. In her bustling life,
formed, stamped, and endowed in spirit by an iron-grooved, commercial
world, she gives little consideration to use of the greatest of all
instruments and the mightiest of all arts. She has not the instinct of
attention to her mother tongue which marks women of fine breeding.

The best thing made by man--good books--she has little love for. The
newspaper and to-day’s flimsy novel of adventure stand in their stead.
There were times when her reading had the illuminating calm of Milton’s
“Penseroso” and the buoyant freshness of Shakespeare’s comedies. But
that was when the rosy morning of her life stood on the mountain-top
of school-girl idealism and looked not at things near by, but afar--a
period not long when compared to the jaded vacuity of later years.

To this shapely woman a writer is presented as “the highest paid
lady-writer in the world.” The highest paid! Where, then, is
literature, O Milton, with thy ten pounds for “Paradise Lost,” and
eight more from Printer Simmons to thy widow! Where, O immortal
writer of the simplicities of Wakefield, apprenticed in thy poverty
to Publisher Newberry! Where, then, singer and gauger Robert Burns!
“Learning,” says Thomas Fuller, in his “Holy States,” “learning hath
gained most by those books by which the printers have lost.”

This woman is fair and seemly. When you look upon her you think how
full of strength and well-knit is her body. You foresee her the mother
of strong and supple children. She is graceful as she moves--a result
of her freedom and a sign of her strength--and she is mistress of the
occasion always. In this domination (the right of the domina) she
has, even when unmarried and as early as in her teens, the poise and
solidity of the matron. She scorns your supposition that she is not
informed in every worldly line, and that the wavering hesitancy of
the one who does not know could be hers. She rarely blushes, and is
therefore a negative witness to Swift’s hard-cut apophthegm--

    “A virtue but at second-hand;
    They blush because they understand.”

Although conventional, she is often uninstructed in petty distinctions
and laws which of late more and more growingly have manacled the
hands, fettered the feet, and dwarfed the folk of our democracy; and
which threaten that plasticity which, it is claimed, is the great
characteristic of life. “It is quite possible,” says Clifford in his
“Conditions of Mental Development,” “for conventional rules of action
and conventional habits of thought to get such power that progress
is impossible.... In the face of such danger _it is not right to be

Secretly our St. Louis neighbor, like most women, subjects herself to

              “the chill dread sneer
    Conventional, the abject fear
    Of form-transgressing freedom.”

Openly she often passes it by and remarks, rocking her chair a trifle
uneasily, that she is as good as anybody else. For some unspoken reason
you never ask her if every one else is as good as she. You recall what
de Tocqueville wrote eighty years ago: “If I were asked to what the
singular prosperity and growing strength of that [American] people
ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply--to the superiority of
their women.”

Of all so-called civilized women, she makes the greatest variation
in her treatment of those of her own and those of the other sex.
Toward women she is apt to be dull, splenetic, outspoken about what
she esteems the faults of others. Even the weaknesses of her husband
she analyzes to their friends--herein is a fertile source of divorce.
Toward women, you observe, she is apt to be metallic, rattling, and
uncharitable, or possibly over-social, relieving the peccant humors of
her mind and attitudinizing upon what she esteems a man’s estimate of
women--to please the sex she is not of. To men she is pert, flippant,
witty, caustic, rapid, graceful, and gay. At times she amuses them
and herself by slurring upon other women. She seems to leave it to
the man to establish the spirit upon which the two shall meet; and
by deft hand and turn and movement she is constantly suggesting her
eternal variation from him. The woman is always chaste. It follows that
marriages are many.

A not uncommon fruit of marriage vows is an application for divorce,
which she estimates with such levity and mental smack that you would
hesitate to bring a young girl to her presence.

“Has she applied, do you know?”

“Oh! they’ve separated.”

“On what grounds is she going to get it?”

“If she isn’t careful she’ll lose her case by seeing him too often.”

These are a few of many such sentences heard from her lips in public

Nothing higher than what an ordinary civil contract seeks seems to
be sought in her marital affairs. She undoes the decree of old Pope
Innocent III., to whom is ascribed the ordination of marriage as a
function of his church and the claim of its sanctified indissolubility.
In the light of her action marriage is truly and purely a civil
contract, and devoid of that grace, resignation, forbearance, patience,
tenderness, sweetness, and calm which make it truly religious.

She is strong, she is hopeful, she is ardent. She knows herself and her
power--that it is of the flesh which aims at prettiness. The divine
beauty of spirit in the countenance she does not know. In her midst
Fra Angelico would find few sitters. Her religion, commonly that
which in other ages passed from a propulsive, burning spirit to frozen
formalism, is the crystallized precept of theologue and priest, the
fundamental ecstasy and informing soul having long since departed. If
she had a real religion she could not be what she is.

Those questions of our day that shove their gaunt visages into
sympathetic minds she has little knowledge of, and little of that
curiosity which leads to knowledge. The fashion of her gown and the
weekly relays at the theatre are nearer to her heart, and to her
thinking touch her more personally, than the moral miasmata and
physical typhoids of her neighboring Poverty Flat. Both pests the
adjustment of her household relations brings within her door. For
her dwelling is commonly domesticked by dusky shapes upon whom also
the real things of life sit lightly, to whom permanence and serious
thought and work are rare. Their engagement is by the week, like that
of pitiful vaudeville associates, and their performance as surpassingly
shallow. They come upon their stage of work, veneer their little task
with clever sleight of hand, and roll off to the supine inertness and
inanity of their cabin.

This woman has therefore in her hands no feeling of the real relation
and friendship that grow between mistress and maid who live the joys
and sorrows of years together. By the less fortunate themselves, as
well as by her own shallow skimming, her sympathies with the less
fortunate are dwarfed. She looks upon her domestic as a serving
sub-human animal, infinitely below herself, tolerated because of
its menial performance, and barely possessed of the soul which
her ecclesiastical tradition says is in every human form. In this
deflection of her moral sense, can the hand of secular justice be
punishing the wrong-doing of past centuries--the bringing in putrid
slave-ships the captured, dazed, Eden-minded, animal-man--“the
blameless Ethiopian”--to our shores?

She is born of fine material. When her nature is awry it is because of
lack of right incentive. Old measures and life estimates are absurd
to her quick senses, and none of the best of our modern values are
put in their place. Her creed is wholly at variance with the facts
of life to-day. If substantial instruction had entered the formative
period of her life, there would have been no substance to project the
darker parts of her shadow. Her nature is now ill-formed because of
the misdirection of its elemental forces. She knows the tenor of her
empire, and in truth and secretly she wonders how long her reign will

“And therefore,” says Aristotle, in his Politics, “women and children
must be trained by education with an eye to the state, if the virtues
of either of them are supposed to make any difference in the virtue of
the state. And they must make a difference, for children grow up to be
citizens, and half the persons in a state are women.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Abiding beside this overdressed woman is an underdressed man. His first
striking quality is a certain sweet-natured patience--a result of his
optimistic dwelling in the future. Not content with the present, and
having forgotten the values of present-day simple life, he lives in a
future of fictitious money values. “All human power,” he thinks, with
Balzac, “is a compound of time and patience. Powerful beings will and
wait.” He knows his power and he waits.

“It’s going to be worth a good deal.”

“In a few years, that’ll be a good thing.”

“Fifteen years from now it’ll sell for ten times its present value.”

People have called him deficient in imagination. Not since the old
Greeks have there been such ideal seekers upon this golden nugget of
our solar system which we call the earth; nor since the old Hellenes
has there been such an idealistic people as that of which he is a
part. In Elizabeth’s time, indeed, there was imaginative vigor similar
to his. Then as now they were holding the earth in their hands and
standing on the stars to view it as it whirled.

Instead of turning his fertile thought toward art or literature, he
bends it first of all to material things. Schemes for developing
land, for dredging rivers, for turning forests into lumber or railway
ties, for putting up sky-scrapers facing four avenues; schemes for
building and controlling transcontinental railways and interoceanic
fleets; schemes for raising wheat by the million bushels and fattening
cattle by hundreds of thousands; schemes for compressing air, gas,
cotton, beef; for domestic and foreign mining; for irrigation; for
oil borings--he brings his dynamic energy and resourcefulness to the
evolution of all things but the human who is to be yoked to work out
his plan.

In theory he is democratic and humane--for the future, after his
interests in dividends shall have ceased. But his reckless exploiting
of human life for the present, now growing more and more common by
means of impersonal agents, is distinctly at war with our foundation,
democratic ideas which hold one man’s life as good as another’s and
which made his existence possible.

An essentially material basis of life turns his natural idealism into
practical values and activities. He is an ideal practician, or rather
a practical idealist.

His unnatural attitude toward to-day--that is, his futurity--and
his inconsiderateness for to-day’s sunshine, put him in a false
position, which bears the fruit of self-consciousness. Nature
is not self-conscious. The primal man was not self-conscious.
Self-consciousness implies pain; it means that a fellow-being is not at
one with his surroundings; that extraneous, false, or hostile things
are pushing him from his native status. If his pain, whether physical
or spiritual, is eased, morbidness disappears.

In this man’s self-conscious habit he jumps at once to the conclusion
that if you do not like his town you do not like him. Your taste is a
personal affront. There is no logical connection, but he has a certain
“defect of heat” which Dean Swift avers lies in men of the Anglo-Saxon
type. The cordiality and open-handedness with which he first met you
wanes. That he has one of the best of hearts, and one of the strongest
of heads, you are sure. He inwardly has the same faith. He knows it as
Achilles knew his own strength, and the knowledge gives him sometimes
the leonine front which the son of silver-footed Thetis boasted. But
your not recognizing the superiority of his physical and spiritual
environment over all the world causes an irritation deeper than the
epidermis--to the nerve-centres, in fact.

“What do you think!” he laughed, shaking burlily and plunging hands
in pockets. “What do you think! The other day in Washington I met an
Englishman, and when I told him the United States was the best country
in the world, and the State I lived in the best State in the best
country, and the town I lived in the best town in the best State, and
the block my office was in the best block in the best town, and my
office the best office in the best block----”

“And you the best man in the best office,” I interjected, to which he
laughed a hearty affirmative.

“What do you think he said? Why, ‘Comfohtaable, awh! comfohtaable!’ I
told him it _was_ comfortable,--damned comfortable.”

This very Englishman, with that condescension of manner which at times
we see foreigners assume, declared such mental individualization to be
purely American. Vanity, audacity, and self-appreciation exist among
all peoples, and even from the banks of the Isis we hear how the late
Dr. Jowett averred, “I am the Master of Baliol College; Baliol is the
first college in Oxford; Oxford is the first city in England; England
is the first country in the world.”

United with the feeling of personal worth and independence
in this citizen by the Big Muddy is, paradoxically, another
characteristic--namely, a great tolerance. He could hardly expect
tolerance himself if he did not extend it to another who may have
opinions diametrically opposed to his own, is probably his attitude
of mind. He is in his way a sort of embodiment of the spirit of our
national constitution.

But this largess of broad tolerance leaves him lacking a gift of
the discriminating or critical judgment. The sense or feeling of
quality--that which measures accurately spiritual and artistic
values--his very breadth and practical largeness, his democracy, allow
no growth to. A sensitive discrimination, the power of differentiation,
is no natural endowment, but a result of training, mental elimination,
comparison, association, and a dwelling in inherent spiritual values.

Through his worth and capacity in other directions he would have this
quality if he “had time” and seclusion for thought. But his life
makes it possible for an explosive and heated talker, a mouther of
platitudinous phrase, to stand cheek by jowl in his esteem with a seer
of elevation and limpid thoughtfulness. His estimate of even lighter
publicities is tinctured by this defect--the theatrical, for instance,
where a verdant girl, lavishing upon her ambition for the stage the
money she inherited from a father’s patent syrup or pills, and an
actress of genius and experience fall in his mind in the same category
because a theatrical syndicate has equally advertised each.

What the result to politics of this indiscriminating and non-sagacious
judgment, this lack of feeling for finer lines in character--mark,
peculiar nature, as Plato means when he uses the word in the
Phædrus--would be hard to estimate.

Although for the most part a private citizen absorbed in his own
affairs, the holder of an office has to him a peculiar glamour. He is
apt to fall into the thinking lines of writers of nameless editorials,
who, forgetful of their own hidden effulgence, fillip at quiet folk
as “parochial celebrities” and “small deer.” And yet he knows that
he lives in an age of réclame, and that by the expenditure of a few
dollars in direct or indirect advertisement a name may be set before
more people than our forefathers numbered on the first Independence Day.

In his midst is a certain publicity of spirit, and in his estimation
work undertaken in the sight of men is of a higher order than that done
in the privacy of one’s closet. The active life is everything; the
contemplative, nothing. Talking is better than writing--it so easily
gives opportunity for the aggressive personality. For a young woman
looking to support herself he advocated type-writing in a public office
in preference to the retirement of nursery governess. When the girl
drew back with the dread of publicity which results from the retired
life of women, he exclaimed, “It’s all a question of whether you’ve got
the courage to take the higher thing.”

If he is a fruit of self-cultivation, he enjoys talking of the viridity
of his growth as well as these now purpler days. During early struggles
he may have undergone suffering and privation. In that event, if his
nature is narrow and hard, he has become narrower and harder, and his
presence, like Quilp’s, shrivels and deadens every accretion save
his interest. But when he is of the better sort of soil, adversity
discovers the true metal, and misfortune gives him a sympathy, depth,
and tenderness that charm you to all defects. You would migrate to his
neighborhood to live in the light of his genial warmth. You think of
the beautiful encomium Menelaus pronounced upon Patroclus--“He knew how
to be kind to all men.”

Beyond all, he is open-eyed and open-eared. And above all he is
affirmative; never negative. His intuition tells him it is affirmation
that builds, and that Bacon says right--“it is the peculiar trait of
the human intellect to be more moved and excited by affirmatives than
by negatives.”

“Why do people buy and read such fool stuff as ‘Treasure Island’? I
can’t see.”

“They read it for its story of adventure, and for its rare way of
telling the story,” I ventured, in answer. “They read it for its style.”

“Style! Gemini! Style! I should smile! I can write a better book than
that myself!”

“Then it might pay you as a business venture to set yourself about it.”

“It’s by a man named Stevenson, and he’s written other stories. Are
they all as bad?”

Strange he should make such a criticism of Louis Stevenson, in
literature pronouncedly the successful man. For success in the
abstract, and successful men and women in the concrete--the word
success is here used in its vulgar, popular sense, in reference to
material advancement, not to ethical or spiritual development--he
worships. Success is a chief god in his pantheon,--to have returns
greater than one’s effort or worth deserve. Yet he believes with the
author of Lorna Doone, “the excess of price over value is the true
test of success in life.” None of us would think of saying Shakespeare
was a success; or Milton; or John Brown; or Martin Luther. But Pope,
with his clever money-making, we might call a success, as did Swift in
1728: “God bless you, whose great genius has not so transported you as
to leave you to the constancy of mankind, for wealth is liberty, and
liberty is a blessing fittest for a philosopher.”

The means to end, the processes by which the successful issue of a
matter is gained, our neighbor of St. Louis tells you with a smile not
to be finikin about. Many who have had success have not been. Look at
all history, from Abraham to Joe Smith and Cecil Rhodes and many of
our millionaires. He himself is not, he declares, but his acts often
contradict his assertion. So long as a man, or a woman, “gets there,”
it does not matter much how. “Work through a corporation or trust,” he
tells you, and smiling at you with honest eyes, adds, “A corporation
can do things the individual man would not.” The one who succeeds is
the model; he is to be envied; he is the ideal the ancients sought--the
happy man. Pass by noblesse oblige, human heartedness, elevation
that would not stoop to exploit human labor, human need, and human
sacrifice--that is, as corporations pass these qualities by.

In short, let us, in fact, and not by legend alone, have the character
formerly ascribed by average English folk to the Yankee.

Assumption of excellence, he knows, goes far toward persuading people
that you have it. There is not so great difference in people after all,
this democrat believes. When one has every material privilege that will
allow him to assume, that will hedge and fence his assumption about,
he is pretty apt to succeed, he thinks, and be cried up as a man of
extraordinary virtue, of taste, of attainment. In any success, commonly
so-called, he asks little of the great marks by which a man should be
judged. “He has done this.” “He has got that.” “He is clever,” he says.
He rarely cries, “He is honest.” “He is true.”

Marriage he is not so apt as the brilliant woman beside him to consider
impermanent. This is wholly a result of convention, for women, by
their very nature and the conditions of married life, cling more
closely to the permanence of the union.

In marital relations he has more liberty. When she asks him if she may,
or in her phrase “can,” do so and so, and in rehearsing the matter
says he “let her,” he accepts her homage and the servile status she
voluntarily assumes. You exclaim that men for many centuries have been
apt to do this. Entirely, if offered him by such an enchantress.

    “If she be small, slight-natured, miserable,
    How shall men grow?”

Toward women, with all his subtlety, he is possessed of a certain
naïveté, which renders him a most agreeable companion, and much at the
mercy of such associates.

On an express leaving St. Louis at nine of the morning and headed
toward the East, two of these men were one day riding. A stretch of
level land, encrusted in snow and flooded with sunshine glowing warm
and yellow three weeks after the winter solstice, lengthened the way.
By three in the afternoon the sight of the passengers was strained from
the pulsation of the train, and reading gave place to lassitude.

“Say,” yawned one of the men, “do you think marriage is a failure?”

“Failure! failure!” answered the other. “The biggest kind of a success!
Failure! Holy smoke! Why I’ve just married my third wife. Failure! It
beats electric lights all hollow.”

“I don’ know,” answered the questioner, dyspeptically. “I don’ know. I
go home every week or ten days. My wife isn’t glad to see me. I’m going
home now. She won’t be glad. They think more of you when you’re not
home so much.”

“Whee-u-u-u,” whistled number two.

With a holiday on his hands no man is more awkward. The secret of
giving himself to enjoyment he does not know. His relaxation takes
crudest form. Holiday enjoyment means in many cases sowing money in
barbaric fashion, in every thinkable triviality that entails expense.
That which he has bent every nerve toward getting, for which he has
grown prematurely careworn, the possession of which vulgar philosophy
counts the summa summarium of life, this he must scatter broadcast, not
in the real things of art and literature and bettering the condition of
the less fortunate, but in sordid pleasure and vacuous rushing hither
and yon. It is his way of showing superiority to the cub who has not
the money-making faculty, or who holds different ideas of the value of
living. Upon such merrymaking he has been known to indulge in Homeric
laughter over his own excess, and in tones heralds used in the days of
Agamemnon. Physically he breathes deeper and is broader chested than
many men; he has more voice, and he puts it out the top of the throat.

To watch the purple dog-tooth violet push up through dead leaves in
March; to listen in his fragrant, sunlit spring to the song of the
thrush or the delectable yearning of the mourning-dove; to know the
quivering windflowers that freshen soil under oak and hickory--all this
is to him as the yellow primrose to Peter Bell. There is no pleasure
without an end--that end being money.

The blooded mare in his stable needs exercise and he likes not
another to drive her lest she lose response to his voice and hand.
But it is really a bore to drive; what interest is there in sitting
in a wagon and going round and round? He must be doing something. He
forgets the retaliation nature takes upon grooves in human life and
that discountenancing of innocent pleasures is the first step toward
dementia paralytica and the end of interest in his fair and buoyant
world. He will probably die suddenly in middle age, for he is too
extreme in expenditure of himself, and too small an eater of the honey
of life. Honey-eaters have terrene permanence.

       *       *       *       *       *

This man and woman are not disproportionate neighbors. What will be
their record to the reading of Prince Posterity?

The lands that border the Big Muddy have more of the old American
spirit than the extreme East. The proportions of the old American
blood are there greater than upon the sea-coast, where Europeans of a
tradition far different from the ideals and enthusiasms of our early
comers have dropped and settled, and in such numbers that they can and
do knit their old mental and social habits into a garment which is
impervious to true American influences.

Our old American teachings!--for instance, the estimate of the
greatness of work, the dignity of labor of any sort whatever--that,
it was once claimed, was a great reason our republic existed to
demonstrate to the world the dignity of work, of bodily exertion
directed to some economic purpose, to produce use, adapt material
things to living. “That citizen who lives without labor, verily how
evil a man!”--’Αργὸος πολίτης χεῖνος ὡς χαχός γ’ ἀνήρ, and such
sentiments as this of Euripides dominated our democracy.

But in our eastern sea-coast cities, what with the development of an
idle, moneyed class, and the settling down of millions of immigrants,
the European conception of work’s inherent ignobleness has grown to
strong hold.

“Work is not a disgrace, but lack of work is a disgrace,” “Ἔργον δ
ουδὲν ὄνειδος, αεργίη δέ τ’ ὄνειδος. And Hesiod’s words hold to the
present day among genuine Americans.

Possibly with the great Middle West and its infinite “go,” optimism,
and constructive breadth, and with such men and women as these types by
the Big Muddy, the preservation of Americanism really lies--but it must
be with their greater spiritualization and greater moral elevation for
the future.


In order to give her praises a lustre and beauty peculiar and
appropriate, I should have to run into the history of her life--a task
requiring both more leisure and a richer vein. Thus much I have said in
few words, according to my ability. But the truth is that the only true
commender of this lady is time, which, so long a course as it has run,
has produced nothing in this sex like her.


Die Ehelosigkeit eines Theils des weiblichen Geschlechts ist in
dem monogamischen Gesellschaftszustande eine nicht zu beseitigende
statistische Nothwendigkeit.



Throughout our fair country there has long been familiar, in actual
life and in tradition, a corporate woman known as the New England woman.

When this woman landed upon American shores, some two hundred and fifty
years ago, she was doubtless a hearty, even-minded, rosy-cheeked,
full-fleshed English lass. Once here, however, in her physical and
mental make-up, under pioneer conditions and influenced by our electric
climate, a differentiation began, an unconscious individualizing of
herself: this was far, far back in the time of the Pilgrim Mothers.

In this adaptation she developed certain characteristics which are
weakly human, intensely feminine, and again passing the fables of
saints in heroism and self-devotion. Just what these qualities were,
and why they grew, is worth considering before--in the bustle of the
twentieth century and its elements entirely foreign to her primitive
and elevated spirit--she has passed from view and is quite forgotten.

In the cities of to-day she is an exotic. In the small towns she is
hardly indigenous. Of her many homes, from the close-knit forests
of Maine to the hot sands of Monterey, that community of villages
which was formerly New England is her habitat. She has always been
most at home in the narrow village of her forebears, where the church
and school were in simpler days, and still at times are--even to our
generation measuring only with Pactolian sands in its hour-glasses--the
powers oftenest quoted and most revered. From these sources the larger
part of herself, the part that does not live by bread alone, has been

It was in the quiet seclusion of the white homes of these villages
that in past generations she gained her ideals of life. Such a home
imposed what to women of the world at large might be inanity. But,
with a self-limitation almost Greek, she saw within those clapboard
walls things dearest to a woman’s soul,--a pure and sober family life,
a husband’s protective spirit, the birth and growth of children,
neighborly service--keenly dear to her--for all whose lives should
come within touch of her active hands, and an old age guarded by the
devotion of those to whom she had given her activities.

To this should be added another gift of the gods which this woman ever
bore in mind with calmness--a secluded ground, shaded by hemlocks or
willows, where should stand the headstone marking her dust, over which
violets should blossom to freshening winds, and robin call to mate
in the resurrection time of spring, and in the dim corners of which
ghostly Indian pipes should rise from velvet mould to meet the summer’s

Under such conditions and in such homes she had her growth. The
tasks that engaged her hands were many, for at all times she was
indefatigable in what Plato calls women’s work, τὰ ἔνδον. She rose
while it was yet night; she looked well to the ways of her household,
and eat not the bread of idleness. In housekeeping--which in her
conservative neighborhood and among her primary values meant, almost
up to this hour, not directing nor helping hired people in heaviest
labors, but rather all that the phrase implied in pioneer days--her
energies were spent--herself cooking; herself spinning the thread and
weaving, cutting out and sewing all family garments and household
linen; herself preserving flesh, fish, and fruits. To this she added
the making of yeast, candles, and soap for her household, their butter
and cheese--perhaps also these foods for market sale--at times their
cider, and even elderberry wine for their company, of as fine a color
and distinguished a flavor as the gooseberry which the wife of immortal
Dr. Primrose offered her guests. Abigail Adams herself testifies that
she made her own soap, in her early days at Braintree, and chopped
the wood with which she kindled her fires. In such accomplishments
she was one of a great sisterhood, thousands of whom served before
and thousands after her. These women rarely told such activities in
their letters, and rarely, too, I think, to their diaries; for their
fingers fitted a quill but awkwardly after a day with distaff or

These duties were of the external world, mainly mechanical and
routine, and they would have permitted her--an untiring materialist
in all things workable by hands--to go many ways in the wanderings
of thought, if grace, flexibility, and warmth had consorted with the
Puritan idea of beauty. She had come to be an idealist in all things
having to do with the spirit. Nevertheless, as things stood, she had
but one mental path.

The powers about her were theocratic. They held in their hands her
life and death in all physical things, and her life and death per
omnia sæcula sæculorum. They held the right to whisper approval or
to publish condemnation. Her eager, active spirit was fed by sermons
and exhortations to self-examination. Nothing else was offered. On
Sundays and at the prayer-meetings of mid-week she was warned by these
teachers, to whom everybody yielded, to whom in her childhood she
had been taught to drop a wayside courtesy, that she should ever be
examining head and heart to escape everlasting hell-fire, and that she
should endure so as to conduct her devoted life as to appease the
anger of a God as vindictive as the very ecclesiasts themselves. No
escape or reaction was possible.

The effect of all this upon a spirit so active, pliant, and
sensitive is evident. The sole way open to her was the road to
introspection--that narrow lane hedged with the trees of contemplative
life to all suffering human kind.

Even those of the community whose life duties took them out in their
world, and who were consequently more objective than women, even the
men, under such conditions, grew self-examining to the degree of a
proverb, “The bother with the Yankee is that he rubs badly at the
juncture of the soul and body.”

In such a life as this first arose the subjective characteristics of
the New England woman at which so many gibes have been written, so
many flings spoken; at which so many burly sides have shaken with
laughter ἄσβεστος. Like almost every dwarfed or distorted thing in the
active practical world, “New England subjectivity” is a result of the
shortsightedness of men, the assumption of authority of the strong over
the weak, and the wrongs they have to advance self done one another.

Nowadays, in our more objective life, this accent of the ego is
pronounced irritating. But God’s sequence is apt to be irritating.

The New England woman’s subjectivity is a result of what has been--the
enslaving by environment, the control by circumstance, of a thing
flexible, pliant, ductile--in this case a hypersensitive soul--and its
endeavor to shape itself to lines and forms men in authority dictated.

Cut off from the larger world, this woman was forced into the smaller.
Her mind must have field and exercise for its natural activity and
constructiveness. Its native expression was in the great objective
world of action and thought about action, the macrocosm; stunted and
deprived of its birthright, it turned about and fed upon its subjective
self, the microcosm.

Scattered far and wide over the granitic soil of New England there
have been the women unmarried. Through the seafaring life of the men,
through the adventures of the pioneer enchanting the hot-blooded and
daring; through the coaxing away of sturdy youthful muscle by the call
of the limitless fat lands to the west; through the siren voice of
the cities; and also through the loss of men in war--that untellable
misery--these less fortunate women--the unmarried--have in all New
England life been many. All the rounding and relaxing grace and charm
which lie between maid and man they knew only in brooding fancy. Love
might spring, but its growth was rudimentary. Their life was not
fulfilled. There were many such spinners.

These women, pertinacious at their tasks, dreamed dreams of what could
never come to be. Lacking real things, they talked much of moods and
sensations. Naturally they would have moods. Human nature will have
its confidant, and naturally they talked to one another more freely
than to their married sisters. Introspection plus introspection again.
A life vacuous in external events and interrupted by no masculine
practicality--where fluttering nerves were never counterpoised by
steady muscle--afforded every development to subjective morbidity.

And expression of their religious life granted no outlet to these
natures--no goodly work direct upon humankind. The Reformation,
whatever magnificence it accomplished for the freedom of the
intellect, denied liberty and individual choice to women. Puritanism
was the child of the Reformation. Like all religions reacting
from the degradations and abuses of the Middle Ages, for women it
discountenanced community life. Not for active ends, nor of a certainty
for contemplative, were women to hive together and live independent

In her simple home, and by making the best of spare moments, the
undirected impulse of the spinster produced penwipers for the heathen
and slippers for the dominie. But there was, through all the long years
of her life, no dignified, constructive, human expression for the
childless and husbandless woman. Because of this lack a dynamo force
for good was wasted for centuries, and tens of thousands of lives were

In New England her theology ruled, as we have said, with an iron and
tyrannous hand. It published the axiom, and soon put it in men’s
mouths, that the only outlet for women’s activities was marriage.
No matter if truth to the loftiest ideals kept her single, a woman
unmarried, from a Garden of Eden point of view and the pronunciamento
of the average citizen, was not fulfilling the sole and only end for
which he dogmatized women were made--she was not child-bearing.

In this great spinster class, dominated by such a voice, we may
physiologically expect to find an excess of the neurotic altruistic
type, women sickened and extremists, because their nature was
unexpressed, unbalanced, and astray. They found a positive joy in
self-negation and self-sacrifice, and evidenced in the perturbations
and struggles of family life a patience, a dumb endurance, which
the humanity about them, and even that of our later day, could not
comprehend, and commonly translated into apathy or unsensitiveness. The
legendary fervor and devotion of the saints of other days pale before
their self-denying discipline.

But instead of gaining, as in the mediæval faith, the applause of
contemporaries, and, as in those earlier days, inciting veneration
and enthusiasm as a “holy person,” the modern sister lived in her
small world very generally an upper servant in a married brother’s
or sister’s family. Ibsen’s Pillar of Society, Karsten Bernick, in
speaking of the self-effacing Martha, voices in our time the then
prevailing sentiment, “You don’t suppose I let her want for anything.
Oh, no; I think I may say I am a good brother. Of course, she lives
with us and eats at our table; her salary is quite enough for her
dress, and--what can a single woman want more?... You know, in a large
house like ours, it is always well to have some steady-going person
like her whom one can put to anything that may turn up.”

Not such estimates alone, but this woman heard reference to herself in
many phrases turning upon her chastity. Her very classification in the
current vernacular was based upon her condition of sex. And at last
she witnessed for her class an economic designation, the essence of
vulgarity and the consummation of insolence--“superfluous women;” that
is, “unnecessary from being in excess of what is needed,” women who had
not taken husbands, or had lived apart from men. The phrase recalls the
use of the word “female”--meaning, “for thy more sweet understanding,”
a woman--which grew in use with the Squire Westerns of the eighteenth
century, and persisted even in decent mouths until Charles Lamb wrapped
it in the cloth of gold of his essay on Modern Gallantry, and buried it
forever from polite usage.

In another respect, also, this New England spinster grew into a being
such as the world had not seen. It is difficult of explanation.
Perhaps most easily said, it is this: she never by any motion or phrase
suggested to a man her variation from him. All over the world women do
this; unconsciously nearly always; in New England never. The expression
of the woman has there been condemned as immodest, unwomanly, and
with fierce invective; the expression of the man been lauded. Das
Ewig-Weibliche must persist without confession of its existence. In
the common conception, when among masculine comrades she should bear
herself as a sexless sort of half-being, an hermaphroditic comrade, a
weaker, unsexed creature, not markedly masculine, like her brother or
the present golfing woman, and far from positively feminine.

All her ideals were masculine; that is, all concrete and human
expression of an ideal life set before her was masculine. Her religion
was wholly masculine, and God was always “He.” Her art in its later
phases was at its height in the “Spectator” and “Tatler,” where the
smirking belles who matched the bewigged beaux of Anne’s London are
jeered at, and conviction is carried the woman reader that all her sex
expressions are if not foul, fool, and sometimes both fool and foul.

In this non-recognition of a woman’s sex, its needs and expression in
home and family life, and in the domination of masculine ideals, has
been a loss of grace, facile touch in manner, vivacity, légèreté; in
short, a want of clarity, delicacy, and feminine strength. To put the
woman’s sex aside and suppress it was to emphasize spinster life--and
increase it. It is this nullification of her sex traits that has led
the world to say the New England woman is masculine, when the truth is
she is most femininely feminine in everything but sex--where she is
most femininely and self-effacingly _it_.

It is in this narrowness, this purity, simplicity, and sanctity, in
this circumspection and misdirection, that we have the origin of the
New England woman’s subjectivity, her unconscious self-consciousness,
and that seeming hermaphroditic attitude that has attracted the
attention of the world, caused its wonder, and led to its false
judgment of her merit.

Social changes--a result of the Zeitgeist--within the last two
generations have brought a broadening of the conception of the “sphere”
of women. Puritan instincts have been dying. Rationalism has to a
degree been taking their place. While, on the other hand,--one may
say this quite apart from construing the galvanic twitchings of a
revived mediævalism in ecclesiastic and other social affairs as real
life--there have also come conceptions of the liberty and dignity of
womanhood, independent or self-dependent, beyond those which prevailed
in the nunnery world.

A popular feeling has been growing that a woman’s sphere is whatever
she can do excellently. What effect this will have on social relations
at large we cannot foresee. From such conditions another chivalry
may spring! What irony of history if on New England soil!! Possibly,
the custom that now pertains of paying women less than men for the
same work, the habit in all businesses of giving women the drudging
details,--necessary work, indeed, but that to which no reputation is
affixed,--and giving to men the broader tasks in which there is contact
with the world and the result of contact, growth, may ultimately
react, just as out of injustice and brutalities centuries ago arose a
chivalrous ideal and a knightly redresser.

The sparseness of wealth, the meagreness of material ideals, and the
frugality, simplicity, and rusticity of New England life have never
allowed a development of popular manners. Grace among the people has
been interpreted theologically; never socially. Their geniality, like
their sunshine, has always had a trace of the northeast wind--chilled
by the Labrador current of their theology. Native wit has been put
out by narrow duties. The conscience of their theology has been
instinctively for segregation, never for social amalgamation. They are
more solitary than gregarious.

We should expect, then, an abruptness of manner among those left to
develop social genius--the women--even among those travelled and
most generously educated. We should expect a degree of baldness and
uncoveredness in their social processes, which possibly might be
expressed by the polysyllable which her instructor wrote at the end
of a Harvard Annex girl’s theme to express its literary quality,

When you meet the New England woman, you see her placing you in her
social scale. That in tailor-making you God may have used a yardstick
different from the New England measure has not yet reached her
consciousness; nor that the system of weights and measures of what Sir
Leslie Stephen calls “the half-baked civilization of New England” may
not prevail in all towns and countries. Should you chance not to fit
any notch she has cut in her scale, she is apt to tell you this in a
raucous, strident voice, with a schoolma’am air in delivery of her
opinion. If she is untravelled and purely of New England surroundings,
these qualities may be accented. She is undeniably frank and
unquestionably truthful. At all times, in centuries past and to-day,
she would scorn such lies as many women amazingly tell for amusement
or petty self-defence.

It is evident that she is a good deal of a fatalist. This digression
will illustrate: If you protest your belief that so far as this world’s
estimate goes some great abilities have no fair expression, that in our
streets we jostle mute inglorious Miltons; if you say you have known
most profound and learned natures housed on a Kansas farm or in a New
Mexico cañon; nay, if you aver your faith that here in New England men
and women of genius are unnoticed because Messrs. Hue and Cry, voicing
the windier, have not appreciated larger capacities, she will pityingly
tell you that this larger talent is supposititious. If it were real,
she continues, it must have risen to sight and attracted the eye of
men. Her human knowledge is not usually deep nor her insight subtle,
and she does not know that in saying this she is contradicting the law
of literary history, that the producers of permanent intellectual
wares are often not recognized by their contemporaries, nor run
after by mammonish publishers. And at last, when you answer that the
commonest question with our humankind is nourishment for the body,
that ease and freedom from exhausting labor must forerun education,
literature, art, she retorts that here is proof she is right: if these
unrecognized worthies you instance had the gifts you name, they would
be superior to mere physical wants.

If you have longanimity, you do not drive the generality closer; you
drown your reflections in Sir Thomas Browne: “The iniquity of oblivion
blindly scattereth her poppy and deals with the memory of men without
distinction to merit of perpetuity.... Who knows whether the best of
men be known, or whether there be not more remarkable persons forgot
than any that stand remembered in the known account of time?”

Her narrow fatalism, united with the conservatism and aristocratic
instincts common to all women from their retired life and ignorance
of their kind, gives the New England woman a hedged sympathy with
the proletarian struggle for freer existence. It may be lack of
comprehension rather than lack of sympathy. She would cure by
palliations, a leprosy by healing divers sores. At times you find her
extolling the changes wrought in the condition of women during the
last seventy years. She argues for the extension of education; her
conservatism admits that. She may not draw the line of her radicalism
even before enfranchisement. But the vaster field of the education of
the human race by easier social conditions, by lifting out of money
worship and egoism,--this has never been, she argues, and therefore
strenuously insists it never will be.

Her civic spirit is Bostonesque. A town’s spirit is a moral and
spiritual attitude impressed upon members of a community where events
have engendered unity of sentiment, and it commonly subordinates
individual idiosyncrasies.

The spirit Boston presents includes a habit of mind apparently
ratiocinative, but once safely housed in its ism incredulously
conservative and persistently self-righteous--lacking flexibility.
Within its limits it is as fixed as the outline of the Common. It has
externally a concession and docility. It is polite and kind--but when
its selfishness is pressing its greediness is of the usurious lender.
In our generation it is marked by lack of imagination, originality,
initiative. Having had its origin in Non-conformity, it has the habit
of seeing what it is right for others to do to keep their house
clean--pulling down its mouth when the rest of the world laughs,
square-toeing when the rest trip lightly, straight-lacing when the
other human is erring, but all the time carrying a heart under its
east-wind stays, and eyes which have had a phenomenal vision for right
and wrong doing--for others’ wrongdoing especially; yet withal holding
under its sour gravity moral impulses of such import that they have
leavened the life of our country to-day and rebuked and held in check
easier, lighter, less profound, less illuminated, less star-striking

It is a spirit featured not unsimilarly to the Lenox landscape--safe,
serene, inviting, unable in our day to produce great crop without the
introduction of fresh material--and from like cause. A great glacier
has pressed on both human spirit and patch of earth. But the sturdy,
English bedrock of the immaterial foundation was not by the glacier of
Puritanism so smoothed, triturated, and fertilized as was Berkshire
soil by the pulverizing weight of its titanic ice flow.

This spirit is also idealistic outside its civic impulses,--referring
constantly to the remote past or future,--and in its eyes the abstract
is apt to be as real as the concrete. To this characteristic is due
not only Emersonism and Alcottism--really old Platonism interpreted
for the transcendental Yankee--but also that faith lately revivified,
infinitely vulgarized, as logically distorted as the pneuma doctrine
of the first century, and called “Christian Science.” The idealism of
Emerson foreran the dollar-gathering idealism of Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy
as the lark of spring foreruns the maple worm.

This idealism oftenest takes religious phases--as in its Puritan
origin--and in many instances in our day is content with crude
expression. Of foregone days evidence is in an incomplete list--only
twenty-five--of Brigham Young’s wives, some of whom bore such old New
England patronymics as Angell, Adams, Ross, Lawrence, Bigelow, Snow,
Folsom. May a fleeing of these women to Mormonism be explained by
their impatience and heart-sickness at their unsexing social condition
and religious spirit?--with the admitting to the great scheme of life
and action but one sex and that the one to which their theocratic
theologians belonged?

Speculations of pure philosophy this New England woman is inclined
to fear as vicious. In dialectics she rests upon the glories of
the innocuous transcendentalism of the nineteenth century forties.
Exceptions to this rule are perhaps those veraciously called “occult;”
for she will run to listen to the juggling logic and boasting rhetoric
of Swamis Alphadananda and Betadananda and Gammadananda, and cluster
about the audience-room of those dusky fakirs much as a swarm of bees
flits in May. And like the bees, she deserts cells filled with honey
for combs machine-made and wholly empty.

Illuminated by some factitious light, she will again go to unheard-of
lengths in extenuating Shelley’s relations to his wives, and in
explaining George Eliot’s marriage to her first husband. Here, and
for at least once in her life, she combats convention and reasons
upon natural grounds. “I don’t see the wickedness of Rudolph,” said
one spinster, referring to the tragedy connecting a prince of Austria
and a lady of the Vetchera family. “I don’t see why he shouldn’t have
followed his heart. But I shouldn’t dare say that to any one else in
Boston. Most of them think as I do, but they would all be shocked to
have it said.”

“Consider the broad meaning of what you say. Let this instance become
a universal law.”

“Still I believe every sensible man and woman applauds Rudolph’s

With whatsoever or whomsoever she is in sympathy this woman is apt
to be a partisan. To husband, parents, and children there could be
no more devoted adherent. Her conscience, developed by introspective
and subjective pondering, has for her own actions abnormal size and
activity. It is always alert, always busy, always prodding, and not
infrequently sickened by its congested activity. Duty to those about
her, and industry for the same beneficiaries, are watchwords of its
strength; and to fail in a mote’s weight is to gain condemnation of
two severest sorts--her own and the community’s. The opinion of the
community in which she lives is her second almighty power.

In marriage she often exemplifies that saying of Euripides which
Stobæus has preserved among the lavender-scented leaves of his
Florilegium--“A sympathetic wife is a man’s best possession.” She
has mental sympathy--a result of her tense nervous organization, her
altruism in domestic life, her strong love, and her sense of duty,
justice, and right.

In body she belongs to a people which has spent its physical force and
depleted its vitality. She is slight. There is lack of adipose tissue,
reserve force, throughout her frame. Her lungs are apt to be weak,
waist normal, and hips undersized.

She is awkward in movement. Her climate has not allowed her relaxation,
and the ease and curve of motion that more enervating air imparts.
This is seen even in public. In walking she holds her elbows set in an
angle, and sometimes she steps out in the tilt of the Cantabrigian man.
In this is perhaps an unconscious imitation, a sympathetic copying, of
an admirable norm; but it is graceless in petticoats. As she steps she
knocks her skirt with her knees, and gives you the impression that her
leg is crooked, that she does not lock her knee-joint. More often she
toes in than out.

She has a marvellously delicate, brilliant, fine-grained skin. It is
innocent of powder and purely natural. No beer in past generations has
entered its making, and no port; also, little flesh. In New England it
could not be said, as a London writer has coarsely put it, that a woman
may be looked upon as an aggregate of so many beefsteaks.

Her eyes have a liquid purity and preternatural brightness; she is the
child of γλαυχῶπις Athena, rather than of βοῶπις Hera, Pronuba, and
ministress to women of more luxuriant flesh. The brown of her hair
inclines to the ash shades.

Her features would in passport wording be called “regular.” The
expression of her face when she lives in more prosperous communities,
where salaries are and an assured future, is a stereotyped smile. In
more uncertain life and less fortunate surroundings, her countenance
shows a weariness of spirit and a homesickness for heaven that make
your soul ache.

Her mind is too self-conscious on the one hand, and too set on lofty
duties on the other, to allow much of coquetterie, or flirting, or a
femininely accented camaraderie with men--such as the more elemental
women of Chicago, Cincinnati, San Francisco, and New York enjoy.
She is farthest possible from the luxuriant beauty of St. Louis who
declared, “You bet! black-jack-diamond kind of a time!” when asked if
she had enjoyed her social dash in Newport. This New England woman
would, forsooth, take no dash in Aurovulgus. But falling by chance
among vulgarities and iniquities, she guards against the defilement of
her lips, for she loves a pure and clean usage of our facile English

The old phase of the New England woman is passing. It is the hour for
some poet to voice her threnody. Social conditions under which she
developed are almost obliterated. She is already outnumbered in her own
home by women of foreign blood, an ampler physique, a totally different
religious conception, a far different conduct; and a less exalted
ideal of life. Intermixtures will follow and racial lines gradually
fade. In the end she will not be. Her passing is due to the unnumbered
husbandless and the physical attenuation of the married--attenuation
resulting from their spare and meagre diet, and, it is also claimed,
from the excessive household labor of their mothers. More profoundly
causative--in fact, inciting the above conditions--was the distorted
morality and debilitating religion impressed upon her sensitive spirit.
Mayhap in this present decay some Mœra is punishing that awful crime
of self-sufficing ecclesiasticism. Her unproductivity--no matter from
what reason, whether from physical necessity or a spirit-searching
flight from the wrath of God--has been her death.


              ... ἐπὶ χθονὶ πουλυβοτείρη
    Ζεὺς Κρονίδης ποίησε δικαιότερον καὶ ἄρειον,
    ἀνδρῶν ἡρώων θεῖον γένος, ...
    τοῖς δὲ δίχ’ ἀνθρώπων βίοτον καὶ ἤθε’ ὀπάσσας
    Ζεὺς Κρονίδης κατένασσε πατὴρ ἐς πείρατα γαίης·
    --χαὶ τοὶ μὲν ναίουσιν ἀκηδέα θυμὸν ἔχοντες
    --ἐν μαχάρων νήσοισι παῤ Ὠχεανὸν βαθυδίνην,
    --ὄλβιοι ἡρωες· τοῖσιν μελιηδέα καρπὸν
    --τρςὶ ἔτεος θάλλοντα φέρει ζείδωρος ἄρουρα.


Under bloudie Diocletian ... a great number of Christians which were
assembled togither to heare the word of life ... were slaine by the
wicked pagans at Lichfield, whereof ... as you would say, The field of
dead corpses.



Upon the broad level of one of our Litchfield hills is--if we accept
ancient legend--a veritable Island of the Blessed. There heroes fallen
after strong fight enjoy rest forever.

The domination of unyielding law in the puny affairs of men--the
unfathomableness of Mœra, the lot no man can escape--comes upon one
afresh upon this hill-top. What clay we are in the hands of fate!
“ἅπαντα τíχτει χθὼν πάλιν τε λαμβáνει,” cried Euripides--“all things
the earth puts forth and takes again.”

But why should the efforts of men to build a human hive have here been
wiped away--here where all nature is wholesome and in seeming unison
with regulated human life? The air sparkles buoyantly up to your very
eyes--and almost intoxicates you with its life and joy. Through its
day-translucence crows cut their measured flight and brisker birds
flitter, and when the young moon shines out of a warm west elegiac
whippoorwills cry to the patient night.

Neither volcanic ashes nor flood, whirlwind nor earthquake--mere decay
has here nullified men’s efforts for congregated life and work. The
soil of the hill, porous and sandy, is of moderate fertility. Native
oaks and chestnuts, slender birches and fragrant hemlocks, with
undergrowths of coral-flowering laurel, clothe its slopes. Over its
sandstone ledges brooks of soft water treble minor airs--before they
go loitering among succulent grasses and spearmint and other thirsty
brothers of the distant meadows.

Nearly two hundred years ago pioneers of a Roundhead, independent
type--the type which led William of Orange across the Channel for
preservation of that liberty which Englishmen for hundreds of years
had spoken of as “antient”--such men broke this sod, till then
untouched by axe or plough. They made clearings, and grouped their
hand-hewn houses just where in cool mornings of summer they could see
the mists roll up from their hill-locked pond to meet the rosy day;
just where, when the sun sank behind the distant New York mountains,
they could catch within their windows his last shaft of gold.

Here they laid their hearths and dwelt in primitive comfort. Their
summers were unspeakably beautiful--and hard-working. Their autumns
indescribably brilliant, hill-side and valley uniting to form a
radiance God’s hand alone could hold. Their winters were of deep snows
and cold winds and much cutting and burning of wood. The first voice
of their virid spring came in the bird-calls of early March, when snow
melted and sap mounted, and sugar maples ran syrup; when ploughs were
sharpened, and steaming and patient oxen rested their sinews through
the long, pious Sabbath.

Wandering over this village site, now of fenced-in fields, you
find here and there a hearth and a few cobbles piled above it. The
chimney-shaft has long since disappeared. You happen upon stone curbs,
and look down to the dark waters of wells. You come upon bushes of
old-fashioned, curled-petal, pink-sweet roses and snowy phlox, and upon
tiger lilies flaunting odalisque faces before simple sweetbrier, and
upon many another garden plant which “a handsome woman that had a fine
hand”--as Izaak Walton said of her who made the trout fly--once set as
border to her path. Possibly the very hand that planted these pinks
held a bunch of their sweetness after it had grown waxen and cold. The
pinks themselves are now choked by the pushing grass.

And along this line of gooseberry-bushes we trace a path from house to
barn. Here was the fireplace. The square of small boulders yonder marks
the barn foundation. Along this path the house-father bore at sunrise
and sunset his pails of foaming milk. Under that elm spreading between
living-room and barn little children of the family built pebble huts,
in these rude confines cradling dolls which the mother had made from
linen of her own weave, or the father whittled when snow had crusted
the earth and made vain all his hauling and digging.

Those winters held genial hours. Nuts from the woods and cider from
the orchard stood on the board near by. Home-grown wood blazed in the
chimney; home-grown chestnuts, hidden in the ashes by busy children,
popped to expectant hands; house-mothers sat with knitting and
spinning, and the father and farm-men mended fittings and burnished
tools for the spring work. Outside the stars glittered through a clear
sky and the soundless earth below lay muffled in sleep.

Over yonder across the road was the village post-office, and not far
away were stores of merchant supplies. But of these houses no vestige
now remains. Where the post-house stood the earth is matted with
ground-pine and gleaming with scarlet berries of the wintergreen. The
wiping-out is as complete as that of the thousand trading-booths,
long since turned to clay, of old Greek Mycenæ, or of the stalls of
the ancient trading-folk dwelling between Jaffa and Jerusalem where
Tell-ej-Jezari now lies.

The church of white clap-boards which these villagers used for praise
and prayer--not a small temple--still abides. Many of the snowy houses
of old New England worship pierce their luminous ether with graceful
spires. But this meeting-house lifts a square, central bell-tower
which now leans on one side as if weary with long standing. The old
bell which summoned its people to their pews still hangs behind green
blinds--a not unmusical town-crier. But use, life, good works have
departed with those whom it exhorted to church duty, and in sympathy
with all the human endeavor it once knew, but now fordone, in these
days it never rings blithely, it can only be made to toll. Possibly
it can only be made to toll because of the settling of its supporting
tower. But the fact remains; and who knows if some wounded spirit
may not be dwelling within its brazen curves, sick at heart with its
passing and ineffective years?

Not far from the church, up a swell of the land, lies the
burying-ground--a sunny spot. Pines here and there, also hemlocks and
trees which stand bare after the fall of leaves. But all is bright and
open, not a hideous stone-quarry such as in our day vanity or untaught
taste makes of resting-places of our dead. Gay-colored mushrooms waste
their luxurious gaudiness between the trees, and steadfast myrtle, with
an added depth to its green from the air’s clarity, binds the narrow
mounds with ever-lengthening cords.

But whether they are purple with the violets of May or with Michaelmas
daisies, there is rest over all these mounds--“über allen Gipfeln ist
Ruh’.” Daily gossip and sympathy these neighbors had. The man of this
grave was he who passed many times a day up and down the path by the
gooseberry-bushes and bore the foaming milk. He is as voiceless now as
the flies that buzzed about his shining pail. And the widow who dwelt
across the road--she of the sad eyes who sat always at her loom, for
her youthful husband was of those who never came back from the massacre
of Fort William Henry--she to whom this man hauled a sled of wood
for every two he brought to his own door, to whom his family carried
elderberry wine, cider, and home mince-meat on Thanksgiving--she,
too, is voiceless even of thanks, her body lying over yonder, now
in complete rest--no loom, no treadle, no thumping, no whirring of
spinning-wheel, no narrow pinching and poverty, her soul of heroic
endurance joined with her long separate soldier soul of action.

The pathos of their lives and the warmth of their humanity!--however
coated with New England austerity. Many touching stories these little
headstones tell--as this:

    “To the memory of Mrs. Abigail, Consort of Mr. Joseph Merrill,
    who died May 3rd, 1767, in the 52 year of her age.”

A consort in royal dignity and poetry is a sharer of one’s lot. Mr.
Joseph Merrill had no acquaintance with the swagger and pretension
of courts, and he knew no poetry save his hill-side, his villagers,
and the mighty songs of the Bible. He was a plain, simple, Yankee
husbandman, round-shouldered from carrying heavy burdens, coarse-handed
from much tilling of the earth and use of horse and cattle. While he
listened to sermons in the white church down the slope, his eyes were
often heavy for need of morning sleep; and many a Sunday his back and
knees ached from lack of rest as he stood beside the sharer of his
fortunes in prayer. Yet his simple memorial warms the human heart one
hundred and thirty-eight years after his “consort” had for the last
time folded her housewifely hands.

    “Of sa great faith and charitie,
     With mutuall love and amitie:
     That I wat an mair heavenly life,
     Was never betweene man and wife.”

It was doubtless with Master Merrill as with the subject of an encomium
of Charles Lamb’s. “Though bred a Presbyterian,” says Lamb of Joseph
Paice, “and brought up a merchant, he was the finest gentleman of his

In May, 1767, when this sharer of humble fortune lay down to rest, the
Stamp Act had been repealed but fourteen months. The eyes of the world
were upon Pitt and Burke and Townshend--and Franklin whose memorable
examination before the House of Commons was then circulating as a news
pamphlet. The social gossip of the day--as Lady Sarah Lennox’s wit
recounts--had no more recognition of the villagers than George the

But American sinews and muscles such as these hidden on the Litchfield
Hills were growing in daily strength by helpful, human exercise, and
their “well-lined braine” was reasoning upon the Declaratory Act that
“Parliament had power to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever.”

Another stone a few paces away has quite another story:

    “Here lies the body of Mr. Stephen Kelsey, who
      died April 2, 1745, in y^e 71 year of his age
                as you are so was we
                as we are you must be”

The peculiarities of this inscription were doubtless the
stone-cutter’s; and peradventure it was in the following way that the
rhymes--already centuries old in 1745 when Stephen Kelsey died--came to
be upon his headstone.

The carver of the memorial was undeniably a neighbor and
fellow-husbandman to the children of Mr. Stephen Kelsey. Money-earning
opportunities were narrow and silver hard to come by in the pioneering
of the Litchfield Hills, and only after scrupulous saving had the
Kelsey family the cost of the headstone at last in hand. It was then
that they met to consider an epitaph.

Their neighbor bespoken to work the stone was at the meeting, and to
open the way and clear his memory he scratched the date of death upon
a tablet or shingle his own hand had riven.

“Friend Stephen’s death,” he began, “calleth to mind a verse often
sculptured in the old church-yard in Leicestershire, a verse satisfying
the soul with the vanity of this life, and turning our eyes to the
call from God which is to come. It toucheth not the vexations of the
world which it were vain to deny are ever present. You carry it in your
memory mayhap, Mistress Remembrance?” the stone-master interrupting
himself asked, suddenly appealing to a sister of Master Kelsey.

Mistress Remembrance, an elderly spinster whose lover having in their
youth taken the great journey to New York, and crossed the Devil’s
Stepping-Stones--which before the memory of man some netherworld force
laid an entry of Manhattan Island--had never again returned to the
Litchfield Hills--Mistress Remembrance recalled the verses, and also
her brother, Master Stephen’s, sonorous repetition of them.

In this way it came about that the mourning family determined they
should be engraven. And there the lines stand to-day in the hills’
beautiful air--far more than a century since the hour when Mistress
Remembrance and the stone-cutter joined the celestial choir in which
Master Stephen was that very evening singing.

But another headstone--

    “With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked”--

quite outdoes Master Kelsey’s in strange English phrase. It reads:

            “Michel son of John Spencer
    died Jan ye 24^{th} 1756 in y^e 10^{th} year of his age.
            Death Conquers All
            Both young and Old
            Tho’ ne’er so wise
            Discreet and Bold
            In helth and Strength
            this youth did Die
            in a moment without one Cry.”

And still another perpetuates the record of the same family:

    In Memory of
    Mr John Spencer Who
    Died June y^{e} 24^{th}
    1780 in the 70^{th}
    Year of his Age
    In Memory of Submit
    Spencer Daughter of Mr
    John and Mrs Mary
    Spencer Who Died
    Nov^{br} y^{e} 21^{th} 1755 in y^{e}
    1^{st} Year of her Age
    Oh Cruel Death to fill this
    Narrow space In yonder
    House Made a vast emty place

Was the child called “Submit” because born a woman! Or did the parents
embody in the name their own spiritual history of resignation to the
eternal powers?--“to fill this narrow space, in yonder house made a
vast empty place.”

Farther up the slope of this God’s Acre a shaft standing high in the
soft light mourns the hazards of our passage through the world.

    In Memory of Mr.
    Jeduthun Goodwin who
    Died Feb 13^{th} 1809 Aged
          40 Years
    Also Mrs. Eunice his
    Wife who died August 6^{th}
    1802 Aged 33 Years
    Dangers stand thick
    through all the Ground
    To Push us to the Tomb
    And fierce diseases
    Wait around
    To hurry Mortals home

Every village has its tragedy, alas! and that recounted in this
following inscription is at least one faithful record of terrifying
disaster. Again it seems at variance with the moral order of the world
that these quiet fields should witness the terror this tiny memorial
hints at. The stone is quite out of plumb and moss-covered, but
underneath the lichen it reads:

    “Phebe, wife of Ezekiel Markham Died Jyly 14,
                    1806 Ae 49
    Also their 3 Sons Bela, Ciba, and Brainad was
             burnt to Death in Oct 1793”
           “In the midst of life we are dead”

The mother lived nearly thirteen years after. There is no neighboring
record of the father. Perhaps the two migrated after the fearful
holocaust, and he only returned to place his wife’s body beside the
disfigured remains of her little ungrown men. Bela, Ciba, and Brainard
rested lonesomely doubtless those thirteen waiting years, and many
a night must their little ghosts have sat among the windflowers and
hepaticas of spring, or wandered midst the drifted needles of the pines
in the clear moonlight of summer, athirst for the mother’s soul of
comfort and courage.

Again in this intaglio “spelt by th’ unlettered Muse” rises the
question of the stone-cutter’s knowledge of his mother tongue. The
church of the dead villagers still abides. But nowhere are seen the
remains of a school-house. Descendants of the cutter of Master Kelsey’s
headstone haply had many orders.

The sun of Indian summer upon the fallen leaves brings out their
pungent sweetness. Except the blossoms of the subtle witch-hazel all
the flowers are gone. The last fringed gentian fed by the oozing
spring down the hill-side closed its blue cup a score of days ago.
Every living thing rests. The scene is filled with a strange sense of
waiting. And above is the silence of the sky.

With such influences supervening upon their lives, these people of
the early village--undisturbed as they were by any world call, and
gifted with a fervid and patient faith--must daily have grown in
consciousness of a homely Presence ever reaching under their mortality
the Everlasting Arm.

This potency abides, its very feeling is in the air above these
graves--that some good, some divine is impendent--that the soul of the
world is outstretching a kindred hand.

In the calm and other-worldliness of their hill-top the eternal
moralities of the Deuteronomy and of Sophocles stand clearer to human
vision--the good that is mighty and never grows gray,--μέγας ἐν τούτοις
θεὸς, οὐδὲ γηράσχει.

The comings and goings, the daily labors, the hopes and interests of
these early dwellers make an unspeakable appeal--their graves in the
church-yard, the ruined foundations of their domestic life beyond--that
their output of lives and years of struggle bore no more lasting local
fruit, however their seed may now be scattered to the upbuilding of
our South and West, the conversion of China, and our ordering of the

And yet, although their habitations are fallen, they--such men and
women as they--still live. Their hearts, hands, and heads are in all
institutions of ours that are free. A great immortality, surely! If
such men and women had been less severe, less honest, less gifted for
conditions barren of luxuries, less elevated with an enthusiasm for
justice, less clear in their vision of the eternal moralities, less
simple and direct, less worthy inheritors of the great idea of liberty
which inflamed generations of their ancestors, it is not possible that
we should be here to-day doing our work to keep what they won and
carry their winnings further. Their unswerving independence in thought
and action and their conviction that the finger of God pointed their
way--their theocratic faith, their lifted sense of God-leading--made
possible the abiding of their spirit long after their material body lay

So it is that upon the level top of the Litchfield Hills--what with the
decay of the material things of life and the divine permanence of the
spiritual--there is a resting-place of the Blessed--an Island of the
Blessed as the old Greeks used to say--an abode of heroes fallen after
strong fighting and enjoying rest forever.


    He is the half part of a blessed man
    Left to be finished by such a she;
    And she a fair divided excellence,
    Whose fulness of perfection lies in him.


If a man recognise in woman any quality which transcends the qualities
demanded in a plaything or handmaid--if he recognise in her the
existence of an intellectual life not essentially dissimilar to his
own, he must, by plainest logic, admit that life to express itself in
all its spontaneous forms of activity.


    Hard the task: your prison-chamber
      Widens not for lifted latch
    Till the giant thews and sinews
      Meet their Godlike overmatch.



“I hate every woman!” cries Euripides, in keen iambics in a citation
of the Florilegium of Stobæus. The sentiment was not new with
Euripides--unfortunately. Before him there was bucolic Hesiod with
his precepts on wife-choosing. There was Simonides of Amorgos, who in
outcrying the degradation of the Ionian women told the degradation of
the Ionian men. There was Hipponax, who fiercely sang “two days on
which a woman gives a man most pleasure--the day he marries her and the
day he buries her.”

And along with Euripides was Aristophanes, the radiant laughter-lover,
the titanic juggler with the heavens above and earth and men
below--Aristophanes who flouted the women of Athens in his
“Ecclesiazusæ,” and in the “Clouds” and his “Thesmophoriazusæ.”
Thucydides before them had named but one woman in his whole great
narrative, and had avoided the mention of women and their part in the
history he relates.

“Woman is a curse!” cried Susarion. The Jews had said it before, when
they told the story of Eve--

    “Of man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
     Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
     Brought death into the world, and all our woe.”

Down through many centuries our forebears cast to and fro the same
sentiment--in spite of the introduction into life and literature of
the love of men for women and women for men; in spite of the growth
of romantic love. You find misogynous expression among the Latins. In
early “Church Fathers,” such as St. John Chrysostom, you come upon
it in grossest form. Woman is “a necessary ill,” cried the Golden
Mouthed, “a natural temptation, a wished-for calamity, a household
danger, a deadly fascination, a bepainted evil.”

You see the sentiment in the laws of church and of kingdom. You sight
its miasm in the gloaming and murk of the Middle Ages, amid the
excesses which in shame for it chivalry affected and exalted. You read
it by the light of the awful fires that burnt women accessory to the
husband’s crime--for which their husbands were merely hanged. You see
it in Martin Luther’s injunction to Catherine von Bora that it ill
became his wife to fasten her waist in front--because independence
in women is unseemly, their dress should need an assistant for its
donning. You chance upon it in old prayers written by men, and once
publicly said by men for English queens to a God “which for the offence
of the first woman hast threatened unto all women a common, sharp, and
inevitable malediction.”

You find the sentiment in Boileau’s satire and in Pope’s “Characters.”
You open the pages of the Wizard of the North, who did for his own
generations what Heliodorus and his chaste Chariclea accomplished for
the fourth century, and you come upon Walter Scott singing in one of
his exquisite songs--

    “Woman’s faith, and woman’s trust,
     Write the characters in dust.”

All such sad evidences, it should be borne in mind, are but the reverse
of the fair picture with which men have regarded women. But because
there is a reverse side, and its view has entered and still enters
largely into human life, human estimates, and human fate, it should be
spoken about openly. Women and men inexperienced in the outer world of
affairs do not realize its still potent force.

As for the subject of these gibes, for ages they were silent. During
many generations, in the privacy of their apartments, the women must
have made mute protests to one another. “These things are false,” their
souls cried. But they took the readiest defence of physical weakness,
and they loved harmony. It was better to be silent than to rise in bold
proof of an untruth and meet rude force.

Iteration and dogmatic statement of women’s moral inferiority, coupled
as it often was with quoted text and priestly authority, had their
inevitable effect upon more sensitive and introspective characters; it
humiliated and unquestionably deprived many a woman of self-respect.
Still, all along there must have been a less sensitive, sturdier,
womanhood possessed of the perversive faith of Mrs. Poyser, that
“heaven made ’em to match the men,” that--

  “Together, dwarfed or godlike, bond or free,”--

men and women rise or sink; that, in fact, the interests of the two are
inseparable and wholly identical. To broad vision misogynous expression
seems to set in antagonism forces united by all the mighty powers of
human evolution throughout millions of years, and the whole plan of God
back of that soul-unfolding.

The misogynous song and story of our forebears with momentous fall
descended and became the coarse newspaper quip which a generation
ago whetted its sting upon women--“Susan B. Anthonys”--outspoken and
seeking more freedom than social prejudices of their day allowed.
An annoying gnat, it has in these days been almost exterminated by
diffusion of the oil of fairness and better knowledge.

But even yet periodicals at times give mouth to the old misogyny.
Such an expression, nay, two, are published in otherwise admirable
pages, and with these we have to do. They are from the pen of a man
of temperament, energy, vigorous learning, and an “esurient Genie”
for books--professor of Latin in one of our great universities, where
misogynous sentiment has found expression in lectures in course and
also in more public delivery.

The first reverse phrase is of “the neurotic caterwauling of an
hysterical woman.” Cicero’s invective and pathos are said to be
perilously near that perturbance.

Now specialists in nervous difficulties have not yet determined there
is marked variation between neurotic caterwauling of hysterical women
and neurotic caterwauling of hysterical men. Cicero’s shrieks--for
Cicero was what is to-day called “virile,” “manly,” “strenuous,”
“vital”--Cicero’s would naturally approximate the men’s.

To normally tuned ears caterwaulings are as unagreeable as misogynous
whoops--waulings of men as cacophonous as waulings of women. Take
an instance in times foregone. In what is the megalomaniac whine of
Marie Bashkirtseff’s “Journal” more unagreeable than the egotistical
vanity of Lord Byron’s wails? Each of these pen people may be viewed
from another point. More generously any record--even an academic
misogyny--is of interest and value because expressing the idiosyncratic
development or human feeling of the world.

But, exactly and scientifically speaking, neurotic and hysteric
are contradictory terms. Neurotic men and women are described by
physicians as self-forgetting sensitives--zealous, executive; while the
hysterics of both sexes are supreme egotists, selfish, vain, and vague,
uncomfortable both in personal and literary contact--just like wit
at their expense. “If we knew all,” said George Eliot, who was never
hysterical, “we would not judge.” And Paul of Tarsus wrote wisely to
those of Rome, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou
art, that judgest.”

Science nowadays declares that the man who wears a shirt-collar cannot
be well, and equally the same analytic spirit may some day make evident
that neurosis and hysteria are legacies of a foredone generation, who
found the world out of joint and preyed upon its strength and calmness
of nerve to set things right. Humaneness and fair estimate are remedies
to-day’s dwellers upon the earth can offer, whether the neurosis and
hysteria be Latin or Saxon, men’s or indeed women’s.

The second of the phrases to which we adverted tells of “the
unauthoritative young women who make dictionaries at so much a mile.”
It has the smack of the wit of the eighteenth century--of Pope’s
studied and never-ceasing gibes at Lady Mary Wortley Montagu after
she had given him the mitten; of Dr. Johnson’s “female day” and his
rumbling thunder over “the freaks and humors and spleen and vanity of
women”--he of all men who indulge in freaks and humors and spleen and
vanity!--whose devotion to his bepainted and bedizened old wife was the
talk of their literary London.

We are apt to believe the slurs that Pope, Johnson, and their
self-applauding colaborers cast upon what they commonly termed
“females” as deterrent to their fairness, favor, and fame. The
high-noted laugh which sounded from Euphelia’s morning toilet and
helped the self-gratulation of those old beaux not infrequently grates
upon our twentieth century altruistic, neurotic sensibilities.

But to return to our lamb. An unauthoritative young woman, we suppose,
is one who is not authoritative, who has not authority. But what
confers authority? Assumption of it? Very rarely anything else--even in
the case of a college professor. We have in our blessed democracy no
Academy, no Sanhedrim, no keeper of the seal of authority--and while
we have not we keep life, strength, freedom in our veins. The young
woman “who makes dictionaries at so much a mile” may be--sometimes
is--as fitted for authority and the exercise of it as her brother.
Academic as well as popular prejudices, both springing mainly from the
masculine mind, make him a college professor, and her a nameless drudge
exercising the qualities women have gained from centuries of women’s
life--sympathetic service with belittling recognition of their work,
self-sacrifice, and infinite care and patience for detail.

Too many of our day, both of men and women, still believe with old John
Knox--to glance back even beyond Johnson and Pope--and his sixteenth
century “First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of
Women”--a fine example of hysterical shrieking in men, by the way.
With the loving estimate of Knox’s contemporary, Mr. John Davidson, we
heartily agree when he sings--

    “For weill I wait that Scotland never bure,
       In Scottis leid ane man mair Eloquent,
     Into perswading also I am sure,
       Was nane in Europe that was mair potent.
       In Greik and Hebrew he was excellent,
     And als in Latine toung his propernes,
       Was tryit trym quhen scollers wer present.
     Bot thir wer nathing till his uprichtnes.”

We admire Knox’s magnificent moral courage and the fruits of that
courage which the Scots have long enjoyed, and yet anent the “cursed
Jesabel of England,” the “cruell monstre Marie,” Knox cries: “To
promote a Woman to beare rule, superiorite, dominion, or empire ...
is repugnant to Nature, contumelie to God, a thing most contrarious to
his revealed will and approved ordinance”--just as if he, John Knox,
knew all about God’s will and Nature’s designs. What pretence, John!
But John took it upon himself to say he did. He _assumed_; and time
and events have proved that it was sheer assumption on John’s part. I
doubt, were he now here, if he would let a modest, bread-earning woman
even make dictionaries at so much a mile--nothing beyond type-writing,
surely. He would probably assume authority and shriek hysterically that
anything beyond the finger-play of type-writing is repugnant to Nature
and contrarious to God.

There was a Mrs. John Knox; there were two in fact--ribs.

“That servent faithfull servand of the Lord” took the first slip of a
girl when near his fiftieth year, long after he had left the celibate
priesthood; and the second, a lass of sixteen, when he was fifty-nine.
They took care of John, a mother-in-law helping, and with service and
money gave him leisure to write. The opinions of the dames do not
appear in their husband’s hysteria. “I use the help of my left hand,”
dictated Knox when one of these girl-wives was writing for him a letter.

With the young women we are considering there is this eternal variation
from John Knox and his hysterical kin, Celt, Saxon, or Latin--she does
not assume authority. Consequently she makes dictionaries at so much
a mile. Such word-spinning was at one time done by drudge men--men
who had failed mayhap in the church, or in law, or had distaste for
material developments or shame for manual work. Now, with women
fortified by the learning their colleges afford, it is oftenest done
by drudge women. The law of commerce prevails--women gain the task
because they will take much less a mile than men. Men offer them less
than they would dare offer a man similarly equipped.

But why should our brothers who teach sophomores at so much a year
fleer? even if the woman has got the job! Does not this arrangement
afford opportunity for a man to affix his name to her work? In
unnumbered--and concealed--instances. We all remember how in the making
of the ---- dictionary the unauthoritative woman did the work, and the
unauthoritative man wrote the introduction, and the authoritative man
affixed his name to it. We all remember that, surely. Then there is the
-- -- --; and the -- --. We do not fear to mention names, we merely
pity and do not--and we nurse pity because with Aristotle we believe
that it purifies the heart. With small knowledge of the publishing
world, I can count five such make-ups as I here indicate. In one case
an authoritative woman did her part of the work under the explicit
agreement that her name should be upon the title-page. In the end, by a
trick, in order to advertise the man’s, it appeared only in the first
edition. Yet this injustice in nowise deprived her of a heart of oak.

The commercial book-building world, as it at present stands--the place
where they write dictionaries and world’s literatures at so much a
mile--is apt to think a woman is out in its turmoil for her health, or
for sheer amusement; not for the practical reasons men are. An eminent
opinion declared the other day that they were there “to get a trousseau
or get somebody to get it for ’em.” Another exalted judgment asserted,
“The first thing they look round the office and see who there is to

This same world exploits her labor; it pays her a small fraction
of what it pays a man engaged in the identical work; it seizes,
appropriates, and sometimes grows rich upon her ideas. It never thinks
of advancing her to large duties because of her efficiency in small.
She is “only a woman,” and with Ibsen’s great Pillar of Society the
business world thinks she should be “content to occupy a modest and
becoming position.” The capacities of women being varied, would not
large positions rightly appear modest and becoming to large capacities?

For so many centuries men have estimated a woman’s service of no money
value that it is hard, at the opening of the twentieth, to believe
it equal to even a small part of a man’s who is doing the same work.
In one late instance a woman at the identical task of editing was
paid less than one-fortieth the sum given her colaborer, a man, whose
products were at times submitted to her for revision and correction.
In such cases the men are virtually devouring the women--not quite so
openly, yet as truly, as the Tierra del Fuegians of whom Darwin tells:
when pressed in winter by hunger they choke their women with smoke and
eat them. In our instance just cited the feeding upon was less patent,
but the choking with smoke equally unconcealed.

The very work of these so-called unauthoritative women passes in
the eyes of the world uninstructed in the present artfulness of
book-making as the work of so-called authoritative men. It is therefore

Not in this way did the king-critic get together his dictionary.
Johnson’s work evidences his hand on every page and almost in every
paragraph. But things are changed from the good old times of individual
action. We now have literary trusts and literary monopolies. Nowadays
the duties of an editor-in-chief may be to oversee each day’s labor, to
keep a sharp eye upon the “authoritative” men and “unauthoritative”
women whose work he bargained for at so much a mile, and, when they
finish the task, to indite his name as chief worker.

Would it be reasonable to suppose that--suffering such school-child
discipline and effacement--those twentieth century writers
nourished the estimate of “booksellers” with which Michael Drayton
in the seventeenth century enlivened a letter to Drummond of
Hawthornden?--“They are a company of base knives whom I both scorn and
kick at.”

It is under such conditions as that just cited that we hear a book
spoken of as if it were a piece of iron, not a product of thought and
feeling carefully proportioned and measured; as if it were the fruit of
a day and not of prolonged thought and application; as if it could be
easily reproduced by the application of a mechanical screw; as if it
were a bar of lead instead of far-reaching wings to minister good; as
if it were a thing to step upon rather than a thing to reach to; as
if it could be cut, slashed, twisted, distorted, instead of its really
forming an organic whole with the Aristotelian breath of unity, and the
cutting or hampering of it would be performing a surgical operation
which might entirely let out its breath of life.

Until honor is stronger among human beings--that is, until the business
world is something other than a maelstrom of hell--it is unmanly and
unwomanly to gibe at the “unauthoritative” young woman writing at so
much a mile. She may be bearing heavy burdens of debt incurred by
another. She may be supporting a decrepit father or an idle brother.
She is bread-earning. Oftenest she is gentle, and, like the strapped
dog which licks the hand that lays bare his brain, she does not strike
back. But she has an inherent sense of honesty and dishonesty, and she
knows what justice is. Her knowledge of life, the residuum of her
unauthoritative literary experience, shows her the rare insight and
truth of Mr. Howells when he wrote, “There is _no_ happy life for a
woman--except as she is happy in suffering for those she loves, and in
sacrificing herself to their pleasure, their pride, and ambition. The
advantage that the world offers her--and it does not always offer her
that--is her choice in self-sacrifice.”

Ten to one--a hundred to one--the young woman is “unauthoritative”
because she is not peremptory, is not dictatorial, assumes no airs
of authority such as swelling chest and overbearing manners, is
sympathetic with another’s egotism, is altruistic, is not egotistical
with the egotism that is unwilling to cast forth its work for the
instructing and furthering of human kind unless it is accompanied by
the writer’s name--a “signed article.” She is not selfish and guarding
the ego. Individual fame seems to her view an ephemeral thing, but the
aggregate good of mankind for which she works, eternal.

The beaux of that century of Dr. Johnson’s were great in spite of
their sneers and taunts at the Clarindas and Euphelias and Fidelias,
not on account of them. We have no publication which is to our time
as the “Rambler” was to London in 1753, or the “Spectator,” “Tatler,”
and “Englishman” to Queen Anne’s earlier day. But in what we have let
us not deface any page with misogynous phrase and sentence--jeers or
expression of evil against one-half of humanity. Unsympathetic words
about women who by some individual fortune have become literary drudges
fit ill American lips--which should sing the nobility of any work that
truly helps our kind. These women go about in wind and rain; they sit
in the foul air of offices; they overcome repugnance to coarse and
familiar address; they sometimes stint their food; they are at all
times practising a close economy; with aching flesh and nerves they
often draw their Saturday evening stipend. They are of the sanest and
most human of our kind--laborers daily for their meed of wage, knowing
the sweetness of bread well earned, of work well done, and rest well

Even from the diseased view of a veritable hater of their sex they have
a vast educational influence in the world at large, whether their work
is “authoritative” or “unauthoritative,” according to pronunciamento of
some one who assumes authority to call them “unauthoritative.” It must
not be forgotten--to repeat for clearness’ sake--that men laboring in
these very duties met and disputed every step the women took even in
“unauthoritative” work, using ridicule, caste distinction, and all the
means of intimidation which a power long dominant naturally possesses.
To work for lower wages alone allowed the women to gain employment.

“You harshly blame my strengthlessness and the woman-delicacy of
my body,” exclaims the Antigone of Euripides, according to another
citation of the “Florilegium,” of Stobæus named at the beginning, “but
if I am of understanding mind--that is better than a strong arm.”

Defendants whose case would otherwise go by default need this brief
plea, which their own modesty forbids their uttering, their modesty,
their busy hands and heads, and their Antigone-like love and ἀσθένεια.
They know sympathy is really as large as the world, and that room is
here for other women than those who make dictionaries at so much a mile
as well as for themselves; and for other men than neurotic caterwaulers
and hysterical shriekers like our ancient friend Knox, assuming that
the masculine is the only form of expression, that women have no
right to utter the human voice, and that certain men have up wire
connections with omniscient knowledge and Nature’s designs and God’s
will, and, standing on this pretence, are the dispensers of authority.

“If the greatest poems have not been written by women,” said our Edgar
Poe, with a clearer accent of the American spirit toward women, “it is
because, as yet, the greatest poems have not been written at all.” The
measure is large between the purple-faced zeal of John Knox and the
vivid atavism of our brilliant professor and that luminous vision of



Cookery is become an art, a noble science; cooks are gentlemen.


_Sir Anthony Absolute._--It is not to be wondered at, ma’am--all this
is the natural consequence of teaching girls to read. Had I a thousand
daughters, by Heaven! I’d as soon have them taught the black art as
their alphabet!




The cook-book is not a modern product. The Iliad is the hungriest book
on earth, and it is the first of our cook-books aside from half-sacred,
half-sanitary directions to the early Aryans and Jews. It is that acme
of poetry, that most picturesque of pictures, that most historical of
histories, that most musical and delicious verse, the Iliad, which
was the first popularly to teach the cooking art--the art in its
simplicity, and not a mere handmaid to sanitation, jurisprudence, or
theology. Through the pages of that great poem blow not only the salt
winds of the Ægean Sea, but also the savor of tender kid and succulent
pig, not to mention whole hectacombs, which delighted the blessed
gods above and strengthened hungry heroes below. To this very day--its
realism is so perfect--we catch the scent of the cooking and see the
appetiteful people eat. The book is half-human, half-divine; and in its
human part the pleasures and the economic values of wholesome fare are
not left out.

No, cook-books are not modern products. They were in Greece later than
Homer. When the Greek states came to the fore in their wonderful art
and literature and the distinction of a free democracy, plain living
characterized nearly all the peoples. The Athenians were noted for
their simple diet. The Spartans were temperate to a proverb, and their
συσσίτια (public meals), later called φειδίτια (spare meals), guarded
against indulgence in eating. To be a good cook was to be banished from

But with the Western Greeks, the Greeks of Sicily and Southern Italy,
it was different--those people who left behind them little record
of the spirit. In Sybaris the cook who distinguished himself in
preparing a public feast--such festivals being not uncommon--received
a crown of gold and the freedom of the games. It was a citizen of that
luxury-loving town who averred, when he tasted the famous black soup,
that it was no longer a wonder the Spartans were fearless in battle,
for any one would readily die rather than live on such a diet. Among
the later Greeks the best cooks, and the best-paid cooks, came from
Sicily; and that little island grew in fame for its gluttons.

There is a Greek book--the Deipnosophistæ--Supper of the “Wise
Men--written by Athenæus--which holds for us much information about
the food and feasting of those old Hellenes. The wise men at their
supposed banquet quote, touching food and cooking, from countless
Greek authors whose works are now lost, but were still preserved in the
time of Athenæus. This, for instance, is from a poem by Philoxenus of
Cythera, who wittily and gluttonously lived at the court of Dionysius
of Syracuse, and wished for a throat three cubits long that the delight
of tasting might be drawn out.[3]

    “And then two slaves brought in a well-rubb’d table.
                       .... Then came a platter
         .... with dainty sword-fish fraught,
     And then fat cuttle-fish, and the savoury tribes
     Of the long hairy polypus. After this
     Another orb appear’d upon the table,
     Rival of that just brought from off the fire,
     Fragrant with spicy odour. And on that
     Again were famous cuttle-fish, and those
     Fair maids the honey’d squills, and dainty cakes,
     Sweet to the palate, and large buns of wheat,
     Large as a partridge, sweet and round, which you
     Do know the taste of well. And if you ask
     What more was there, I’d speak of luscious chine,
     And loin of pork, and head of boar, all hot;
     Cutlets of kid, and well-boil’d pettitoes,
     And ribs of beef, and heads, and snouts and tails,
     Then kid again, and lamb, and hares, and poultry,
     Partridges and the bird from Phasis’ stream.
     And golden honey, and clotted cream was there,
     And cheese which I did join with all in calling
     Most tender fare.”

The Greeks used many of the meats and vegetables we enjoy; and others
we disclaim; for instance, cranes. Even mushrooms were known to their
cooks, and Athenæus suggests how the wholesome may be distinguished
from the poisonous, and what antidotes serve best in case the bad
are eaten. But with further directions of his our tastes would not
agree. He recommends seasoning the mushrooms with vinegar, or honey
and vinegar, or honey, or salt--for by these means their choking
properties are taken away.

The writings of Athenæus have, however, a certain literary and, for his
time as well as our own, an historic and archæologic flavor. The only
ancient cook-book pure and simple--bent on instruction in the excellent
art--which has come down to us is that of Apicius, in ten short books,
or chapters. And which Apicius? Probably the second of the name, the
one who lectured on cooking in Rome during the reign of Augustus. He
gave some very simple directions which hold good to the present day;
for instance--


“Carnem salsam dulcem facies, si prius in lacte coquas, et postea in

But again his compounds are nauseating even in print. He was famous for
many dishes, and Pliny, in his Natural History, says he discovered the
way of increasing the size of the liver of the pig--just as the liver
of the Strasbourg geese is enlarged for pâté de foie gras, and as our
own Southern people used to induce pathological conditions in their

The method of Apicius was to cram the pig with dried figs, and, when
it was fat enough, drench it with wine mixed with honey. “There is,”
continues Pliny, “no other animal that affords so great a variety to
the palate; all others have their taste, but the pig fifty different
flavors. From this tastiness of the meat it came about that the censors
made whole pages of regulations about serving at banquets the belly
and the jowls and other dainty parts. But in spite of their rules the
poet Publius, author of the Mimes, when he ceased to be a slave, is
said never to have given an entertainment without a dish of pig’s belly
which he called ‘sumen.’”

“Cook Apicius showed a remarkable ingenuity in developing luxury,”
the old Roman says at another time, “and thought it a most excellent
plan to let a mullet die in the pickle known as ‘garum.’” It was
ingenuity of cruelty as well as of luxury. “They killed the fish in
sauces and pickled them alive at the banquet,” says Seneca, “feeding
the eye before the gullet, for they took pleasure in seeing their
mullets change several colors while dying.” The unthinkable garum
was made, according to Pliny, from the intestines of fish macerated
with salt, and other ingredients were added before the mixture was
set in the sun to putrefy and came to the right point for serving. It
also had popularity as a household remedy for dog-bites, etc.; and in
burns, when care was necessary in its application not to mention it by
name--so delicately timid was its healing spirit. Its use as a dish
was widespread, and perhaps we see in the well-known hankerings of the
royal George of England a reversion to the palate of Italian ancestors.

But garum was only one of strange dishes. The Romans seasoned much with
rue and asafetida!--a taste kept to this day in India, where “Kim” eats
“good curry cakes all warm and well-scented with hing (asafetida).”
Cabbages they highly estimated; “of all garden vegetables they thought
them best,” says Pliny. The same author notes that Apicius rejected
Brussels sprouts, and in this was followed by Drusus Cæsar, who was
censured for over-nicety by his father, the Emperor Tiberius of Capreæ
villas fame.

Upon cooks and the Roman estimate of their value in his day Pliny
also casts light. “Asinius Celer, a man of consular rank and noted
for his expenditure on mullet, bought one at Rome during the reign
of Gaius Caligula for eight thousand sesterces. Reflection on this
fact,” continues Pliny, “will recall the complaints uttered against
luxury and the lament that a single cook costs more than a horse. At
the present day a cook is only to be had for the price of a triumph,
and a mullet only to be had for what was once the price of a cook! Of
a fact there is now hardly any living being held in higher esteem than
the man who knows how to get rid of his master’s belongings in the most
scientific fashion!”

Much has been written of the luxury and enervation of Romans after
the republic, how they feasted scented with perfumes, reclining and
listening to music, “nudis puellis ministrantibus.” The story is old
of how Vedius Pollio “hung with ecstasy over lampreys fattened on
human flesh;” how Tiberius spent two days and two nights in one bout;
how Claudius dissolved pearls for his food; how Vitellius delighted
in the brains of pheasants and tongues of nightingales and the roe of
fish difficult to take; how the favorite supper of Heliogabalus was
the brains of six hundred thrushes. At the time these gluttonies went
on in the houses of government officials, the mass of the people, the
great workers who supported the great idlers, fed healthfully on a mess
of pottage. The many to support the super-abundant luxury of a few is
still one of the mysteries of the people.

But in the old Rome the law of right and honest strength at last
prevailed, and monsters gave way to the cleaner and hardier chiefs of
the north. The mastery of the world necessarily passed to others;--it
has never lain with slaves of the stomach.

The early folk of Britain--those Cæesar found in the land from which
we sprang--ate the milk and flesh of their flocks. They made bread
by picking the grains from the ear and pounding them to paste in a
mortar. Their Roman conquerors doubtless brought to their midst a more
elaborated table order. Barbarous Saxons, fighters and freebooters,
next settling on the rich island and restraining themselves little for
sowing and reaping, must in their incursions have been flesh-eaters,
expeditiously roasting and broiling directly over coals like our early

This mode of living also would seem true of the later-coming Danes,
who after their settlement introduced, says Holinshed, another habit.
“The Danes,” says that delightful chronicler, “had their dwelling
... among the Englishmen, whereby came great harme; for whereas the
Danes by nature were great drinkers, the Englishmen by continuall
conversation with them learned the same vice. King Edgar, to reforme in
part such excessive quaffing as then began to grow in use, caused by
the procurement of Dunstane [the then Archbishop of Canterbury] nailes
to be set in cups of a certeine measure, marked for the purpose,
that none should drinke more than was assigned by such measured cups.
Englishmen also learned of the Saxons, Flemings, and other strangers,
their peculiar kinds of vices, as of the Saxons a disordered fierceness
of mind, of the Flemings a feeble tendernesse of bodie; where before
they rejoiced in their owne simplicitie and esteemed not the lewd and
unprofitable manners of strangers.”

But refinement was growing in the mixture of races which was to make
modern Englishmen, and in the time of Hardicanute, much given to the
pleasures of the table and at last dying from too copious a draught of
wine,--“he fell downe suddenlie,” says Holinshed, “with the pot in his
hand”--there was aim at niceness and variety and hospitable cheer.

The Black Book of a royal household which Warner quotes in his
“Antiquitates Culinariæ”[4] is evidence of this:

“Domus Eegis Hardeknoute may be called a fader noreshoure of
familiaritie, which used for his own table, never to be served with ony
like metes of one meale in another, and that chaunge and diversitie
was dayly in greate habundance, and that same after to be ministred
to his alms-dishe, he caused cunyng cooks in curiositie; also, he was
the furst that began four meales stablyshed in oon day, opynly to be
holden for worshuppfull and honest peopull resorting to his courte;
and no more melis, nor brekefast, nor chambyr, but for his children
in householde; for which four melys he ordeyned four marshalls, to
kepe the honor of his halle in recevyng and dyrecting strangers, as
well as of his householdemen in theyre fitting, and for services and
ther precepts to be obeyd in. And for the halle, with all diligence of
officers thereto assigned from his furst inception, tyll the day of his
dethe, his house stode after one unyformitie.”

Of Hardicanute, “it hath,” says Holinshed, “beene commonlie told,
that Englishmen learned of him their excessive gourmandizing and
unmeasurable filling of their panches with meates and drinkes, whereby
they forgat the vertuous use of sobrietie, so much necessarie to all
estates and degrees, so profitable for all commonwealthes, and so
commendable both in the sight of God, and all good men.”

Not only to the Danes, but also to the later conquerors, the Normans,
the old chronicler attributes corruption of early English frugality and
simplicity. “The Normans, misliking the gormandise of Canutus, ordeined
after their arrivall that no table should be covered above once in the
day.... But in the end, either waxing wearie of their owne frugalitie
or suffering the cockle of old custome to overgrow the good corne
of their new constitution, they fell to such libertie that in often
feeding they surmounted Canutus surnamed the hardie.... They brought in
also the custome of long and statelie sitting at meat.”

A fellow-Londoner with Holinshed, John Stow, says of the reign of
William Rufus, the second Norman king of England, “The courtiers
devoured the substance of the husbandmen, their tenants.”

And Stow’s “Annales” still further tell of a banquet served in far-off
Italy to the duke of Clarence, son of Edward III., when, some three
hundred years after the Norman settlement, the lad Leonell went to
marry Violentis, daughter of the duke of Milan. It should not be
forgotten that in the reign of Edward II. of England, grandfather of
the duke, proclamation had been issued against the “outrageous and
excessive multitude of meats and dishes” served by the nobles in their
castles, as well by “persons of inferior rank imitating their example,
beyond what their station required and their circumstances could

“At the comming of Leonell”, says Stow, “such aboundance of treasure
was in most bounteous maner spent, in making most sumptuous feasts,
setting forth stately fightes, and honouring with rare gifts above
two hundred Englishmen, which accompanied his [the duke of Milan’s]
son-in-law, as it seemed to surpasse the greatnesse of most wealthy
Princes; for in the banquet whereat Francis Petrarch was present,
amongst the chiefest guestes, there were above thirtie courses of
service at the table, and betwixt every course, as many presents of
wonderous price intermixed, all which John Galeasius, chiefe of the
choice youth, bringing to the table, did offer to Leonell ... And such
was the sumptuousnesse of that banquet, that the meats which were
brought from the table, would sufficiently have served ten thousand

The first cook-book we have in our ample English tongue is of date
about 1390. Its forme, says the preface to the table of contents, this
“forme of cury [cookery] was compiled of the chef maistes cokes of kyng
Richard the Secunde kyng of nglond aftir the conquest; the which was
accounted the best and ryallest vyand [nice eater] of alle csten ynges
[Christian kings]; and it was compiled by assent and avysement of
maisters and [of] phisik and of philosophie that dwellid in his court.
First it techith a man for to make commune pottages and commune meetis
for howshold, as they shold be made, craftly and holsomly. Aftirward
it techith for to make curious potages, and meetes, and sotiltees, for
alle maner of states, bothe hye and lowe. And the techyng of the forme
of making of potages, and of meetes, bothe of flesh, and of fissh, buth
[are] y sette here by noumbre and by ordre. Sso this little table here
fewyng [following] wole teche a man with oute taryyng, to fynde what
meete that hym lust for to have.”

The “potages” and “meetis” and “sotiltees” it techith a man for to make
would be hardly more endurable to the modern stomach than some old
Greek and Roman seasonings we have referred to. There is no essential
difference between these and the directions of a rival cook-book
written some forty or fifty years later and divided into three
parts--Kalendare de Potages dyvers, Kalendare de Leche Metys, Dyverse
bake metis. Or of another compiled about 1450. Let us see how they
would make a meat.

“Stwed Beeff. Take faire Ribbes of ffresh beef, And (if thou wilt)
roste hit til hit be nygh ynowe; then put hit in a faire possenet;
caste therto parcely and oynons mynced, reysons of corauns, powder
peper, canel, clowes, saundres, safferon, and salt; then caste thereto
wyn and a litull vynegre; sette a lyd on the potte, and lete hit boile
sokingly on a faire charcole til hit be ynogh; then lay the fflessh, in
disshes, and the sirippe thereuppon, And serve it forth.”

And for sweet apple fritters:

“Freetours. Take yolkes of egges, drawe hem thorgh a streynour, caste
thereto faire floure, berme and ale; stere it togidre till hit be
thik. Take pared appelles, cut hem thyn like obleies [wafers of the
eucharist], ley hem in the batur; then put hem into a ffrying pan, and
fry hem in faire grece or buttur til thei ben browne yelowe; then put
hem in disshes; and strawe Sugur on hem ynogh, And serve hem forthe.”

Still other cook-books followed--the men of that day served hem
forthe--among which we notice “A noble Boke off Cookry ffor a prynce
houssolde or eny other estately houssolde,” ascribed to about the year

To the monasteries the art of cooking is doubtless much indebted,
just as even at the present day is the art of making liqueurs. Their
vast wealth, the leisure of the in-dwellers, and the gross sensualism
and materialism of the time they were at their height would naturally
lead to care for the table and its viands. Within their thick stone
walls, which the religious devotion of the populace had reared, the
master of the kitchen, magister coquinæ or magnus coquus, was not the
man of least importance. Some old author whose name and book do not
come promptly to memory refers to the disinclination of plump capons,
or round-breasted duck, to meet ecclesiastical eyes--a facetiousness
repeated in our day when the Uncle Remuses of Dixie say they see
yellow-legged chickens run and hide if a preacher drives up to supper.

Moreover, the monasteries were the inns of that day where travellers
put up, and in many instances were served free--no price, that is,
was put upon their entertainment, the abbot, or the establishment,
receiving whatever gift the one sheltered and fed felt able or moved to

Contemporary accounts of, or references to, the cooking and feasting in
religious houses are many--those of the Vision of Long Will concerning
Piers the Plowman, those of “Dan Chaucer, the first warbler,” of
Alexander Barclay, and Skelton, great satirist of times of Henry
VIII., and of other authors not so well remembered. Now and then a
racy anecdote has come down like that which Thomas Fuller saves from
lip tradition in his “History of Abbeys in England.” It happened, says
Worthy Fuller, that Harry VIII., “hunting in Windsor Forest, either
casually lost, or (more probable) wilfully losing himself, struck down
about dinner-time to the abbey of Reading; where, disguising himself
(much for delight, more for discovery, to see unseen), he was invited
to the abbot’s table, and passed for one of the king’s guard, a place
to which the proportion of his person might properly entitle him. A
sirloin of beef was set before him (so knighted saith tradition, by
this King Henry), on which the king laid on lustily, not disgracing one
of that place for whom he was mistaken.

“‘Well fare thy heart!’ quoth the abbot; ‘and here in a cup of sack I
remember the health of his grace your master. I would give an hundred
pounds on the condition I could feed so heartily on beef as you do.
Alas! my weak and squeazy stomach will badly digest the wing of a small
rabbit or chicken.’

“The king pleasantly pledged him, and, heartily thanking him for his
good cheer, after dinner departed as undiscovered as he came thither.

“Some weeks after, the abbot was sent for by a pursuivant, brought up
to London, clapped in the Tower, kept close prisoner, fed for a short
time with bread and water; yet not so empty his body of food, as his
mind was filled with fears, creating many suspicions to himself when
and how he had incurred the king’s displeasure. At last a sirloin of
beef was set before him, on which the abbot fed as the farmer of his
grange, and verified the proverb, that ‘Two hungry meals make the third
a glutton.’

“In springs King Henry out of a private lobby, where he had placed
himself, the invisible spectator of the abbot’s behavior. ‘My lord,’
quoth the king, ‘presently deposit your hundred pounds in gold, or else
no going hence all the days of your life. I have been your physician to
cure you of your squeazy stomach; and here, as I deserve, I demand my
fee for the same!’

“The abbot down with his dust; and, glad he had escaped so, returned to
Reading, as somewhat lighter in purse, so much more merrier in heart
than when he came thence.”

The “squeazy” abbot stood alone in proclamation of his disorder.
Archbishop Cranmer, according to John Leland, king’s antiquary to Henry
VIII., found it necessary in 1541 to regulate the expenses of the
tables of bishops and clergy by a constitution--an instrument which
throws much light on the then conditions, and which ran as follows:

“In the yeare of our Lord MDXLI it was agreed and condescended upon, as
wel by the common consent of both tharchbishops and most part of the
bishops within this realme of Englande, as also of divers grave men at
that tyme, both deanes and archdeacons, the fare at their tables to be
thus moderated.

“First, that tharchbishop should never exceede six divers kindes of
fleshe, or six of fishe, on the fishe days; the bishop not to exceede
five, the deane and archdeacon not above four, and al other under that
degree not above three; provided also that tharchbishop myght have of
second dishes four, the bishop three, and al others under the degree of
a bishop but two. As custard, tart, fritter, cheese or apples, peares,
or two of other kindes of fruites. Provided also, that if any of the
inferior degree dyd receave at their table, any archbishop, bishop,
deane, or archdeacon, or any of the laitie of lyke degree, viz. duke,
marques, earle, viscount, baron, lorde, knyght, they myght have such
provision as were mete and requisite for their degrees. Provided alway
that no rate was limited in the receavying of any ambassadour. It was
also provided that of the greater fyshes or fowles, there should be but
one in a dishe, as crane, swan, turkey cocke, hadocke, pyke, tench; and
of lesse sortes but two, viz. capons two, pheasantes two, conies two,
and woodcockes two. Of lesse sortes, as of patriches, the archbishop
three, the bishop and other degrees under hym two. Of blackburdes, the
archbishop six, the bishop four, the other degrees three. Of larkes
and snytes (snipes) and of that sort but twelve. It was also provided,
that whatsoever is spared by the cutting of, of the olde superfluitie,
shoulde yet be provided and spent in playne meates for the relievyng
of the poore. _Memorandum_, that this order was kept for two or three
monethes, tyll by the disusyng of certaine wylful persons it came to
the olde excesse.”

Still one more tale bearing upon a member of the clergy who would set
out more “blackburdes” than “tharchbishop” is told by Holinshed. It
has within it somewhat of the flavor of the odium theologicum, but an
added interest also, since it turns upon a dish esteemed in Italy since
the time of the imperial Romans--peacock, often served even nowadays
encased in its most wonderful plumage. The Pope Julius III., whose
luxurious entertainment and comport shocked the proprieties even of
that day, and who died in Rome while the chronicler was busy in London,
is the chief actor.

“At an other time,” writes Holinshed, “he sitting at dinner, pointing
to a peacocke upon his table, which he had not touched; Keepe (said he)
this cold peacocke for me against supper, and let me sup in the garden,
for I shall have ghests. So when supper came, and amongst other hot
peacockes, he saw not his cold peacocke brought to his table; the pope
after his wonted manner, most horriblie blaspheming God, fell into an
extreame rage, &c. Whereupon one of his cardinals sitting by, desired
him saieng: Let not your holinesse, I praie you, be so mooved with a
matter of so small weight. Then this Julius the pope answeringe againe:
What (saith he) if God was so angrie for one apple, that he cast our
first parents out of paradise for the same, whie maie not I being his
vicar, be angrie then for a peacocke, sithens a peacocke is a greater
matter than an apple.”

In England at this time controlling the laity were sumptuary laws,
habits of living resulting from those laws, and great inequalities in
the distribution of wealth. On these points Holinshed again brings us

“In number of dishes and change of meat,” he writes, “the nobilitie of
England (whose cookes are for the most part musicall-headed Frenchmen
and strangers) do most exceed, sith there is no daie in maner that
passeth over their heads, wherein they have not onelie beefe, mutton,
veale, lambe, kid, porke, conie, capon, pig, or so manie of these as
the season yeeldeth; but also some portion of the red or fallow deere,
beside great varietie of fish and wild foule, and thereto sundrie
other delicates wherein the sweet hand of the seasoning Portingale is
not wanting; so that for a man to dine with one of them, and to taste
of everie dish that standeth before him ... is rather to yeeld unto
a conspiracie with a great deale of meat for the speedie suppression
of naturall health, then the use of a necessarie meane to satisfie
himselfe with a competent repast, to susteine his bodie withall. But as
this large feeding is not seene in their gests, no more is it in their
owne persons, for sith they have dailie much resort unto their tables
... and thereto reteine great numbers of servants, it is verie requisit
and expedient for them to be somewhat plentifull in this behalfe.

“The chiefe part likewise of their dailie provision is brought before
them ... and placed on their tables, whereof when they have taken
what it pleaseth them, the rest is reserved and afterwards sent downe
to their serving men and waiters, who feed thereon in like sort with
convenient moderation, their reversion also being bestowed upon the
poore, which lie readie at their gates in great numbers to receive the

“The gentlemen and merchants keepe much about one rate, and each of
them contenteth himselfe with foure, five or six dishes, when they have
but small resort, or peradventure with one, or two, or three at the
most, when they have no strangers to accompanie them at their tables.
And yet their servants have their ordinarie diet assigned, beside such
as is left at their masters’ boordes, and not appointed to be brought
thither the second time, which neverthelesse is often seene generallie
in venison, lambe, or some especiall dish, whereon the merchant man
himselfe liketh to feed when it is cold.”

“At such times as the merchants doo make their ordinarie or voluntarie
feasts, it is a world to see what great provision is made of all maner
of delicat meats, from everie quarter of the countrie.... They will
seldome regard anie thing that the butcher usuallie killeth, but reject
the same as not worthie to come in place. In such cases all gelisses
of all coleurs mixed with a varitie in the representation of sundrie
floures, herbs, trees, formes of beasts, fish, foules and fruits,
and there unto marchpaine wrought with no small curiositie, tarts of
diverse hewes and sundrie denominations, conserves of old fruits foren
and homebred, suckets, codinacs, marmilats, marchpaine, sugerbread,
gingerbread, florentines, wild foule, venison of all sorts, and sundrie
outlandish confections altogither seasoned with sugar ... doo generalie
beare the swaie, beside infinit devises of our owne not possible for me
to remember. Of the potato and such venerous roots as are brought out
of Spaine, Portingale, and the Indies to furnish our bankets, I speake

“The artificer and husbandman make greatest accompt of such meat as
they may soonest come by, and have it quickliest readie.... Their food
also consisteth principallie in beefe and such meat as the butcher
selleth, that is to saie, mutton, veale, lambe, porke, etc., ...
beside souse, brawne, bacon, fruit, pies of fruit, foules of sundrie
sorts, cheese, butter, eggs, etc.... To conclude, both the artificer
and the husbandman are sufficientlie liberall and verie friendlie at
their tables, and when they meet they are so merie without malice and
plaine, without inward Italian or French craft and subtiltie, that it
would doo a man good to be in companie among them.

“With us the nobilitie, gentrie and students doo ordinarilie go to
dinner at eleven before noone, and to supper at five, or betweene
five and six at after-noone. The merchants dine and sup seldome
before twelve at noone, and six at night, especiallie in London. The
husbandmen dine also at high noone as they call it, and sup at seven
or eight.... As for the poorest sort they generallie dine and sup when
they may, so that to talke of their order of repast it were but a
needlesse matter.”

“The bread through out the land,” continues Holinshed, “is made of such
graine as the soil yeeldeth, neverthelesse the gentilitie commonlie
provide themselves sufficientlie of wheat for their owne tables,
whilst their houshold and poore neighbours in some shires are inforced
to content themselves with rie, or baricie, yea and in time of dearth
manie with bread made either of beans, or peason, or otes, or of
altogether and some acornes among.... There be much more ground eared
now almost in everie place than hath beene of late yeares, yet such
a price of come continueth in each towne and market without any just
cause (except it be that landlords doo get licenses to carie come out
of the land onelie to keepe up the prices for their owne private games
and ruine of the commonwealth), that the artificer and poore laboring
man is not able to reach unto it, but is driven to content himselfe
with horsse corne--I mean beanes, peason, otes, tarres, and lintels.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Books had been written for women and their tasks within--the “Babees
Booke,” Tusser’s[5] “Hundrethe Good Pointes of Huswifry,” “The Good
Husive’s Handmaid”--the last two in the sixteenth century; these and
others of their kidney. A woman who thought, spoke, and wrote in
several tongues was greatly filling the throne of England in those
later times.

Cook- and receipt-books in the following century, that is in the
seventeenth, continued to discover women, and to realize moreover
that to them division of labor had delegated the household and its
businesses. There were “Jewels” and “Closets of Delights” before we
find an odd little volume putting out in 1655 a second edition. It
shows upon its title-page the survival from earlier conditions of the
confusion of duties of physician and cook--a fact made apparent in the
preface copied in the foregoing “forme of cury” of King Richard--and
perhaps intimates the housewife should perform the services of both.
It makes, as well, a distinct appeal to women as readers and users
of books. Again it evidences the growth of the Commons. In full it
introduces itself in this wise:

“The Ladies Cabinet enlarged and opened: containing Many Rare Secrets
and Rich Ornaments, of several kindes, and different uses. Comprized
under three general Heads, viz. of 1 Preserving, Conserving, Candying,
etc. 2 Physick and Chirurgery. 3 Cooking and Housewifery. Whereunto
is added Sundry Experiments and choice Extractions of Waters, Oyls,
etc. Collected and practised by the late Right Honorable and Learned
Chymist, the Lord Ruthuen.”

The preface, after an inscription “To the Industrious improvers of
Nature by Art; especially the vertuous Ladies and Gentlewomen of the
Land,” begins:

“Courteous Ladies, etc. The first Edition of this--(cal it what you
please) having received a kind entertainment from your Ladiships hands,
for reasons best known to yourselves, notwithstanding the disorderly
and confused jumbling together of things of different kinds, hath made
me (who am not a little concerned therein) to bethink myself of some
way, how to encourage and requite your Ladiships Pains and Patience
(vertues, indeed, of absolute necessity in such brave employments;
there being nothing excellent that is not withal difficult) in
the profitable spending of your vacant minutes.” This labored and
high-flying mode of address continues to the preface’s end.... “I shall
thus leave you at liberty as Lovers in Gardens, to follow your own
fancies. Take what you like, and delight in your choice, and leave what
you list to him, whose labour is not lost if anything please.”

In turning the leaves of the book one comes upon such naïve discourse
as this:

“To make the face white and fair.

“Wash thy face with Rosemary boiled in white wine, and thou shalt be
fair; then take Erigan and stamp it, and take the juyce thereof, and
put it all together and wash thy face therewith. Proved.”

It was undoubtedly the success of “The Ladies Cabinet” and its cousins
german that led to the publication of a fourth edition in 1658 of
another compilation, which, according to the preface, was to go “like
the good Samaritane giving comfort to all it met.” The title was “The
Queens Closet opened: Incomparable Secrets in Physick, Chyrurgery,
Preserving, Candying, and Cookery, As they were presented unto the
Queen By the most Experienced Persons of our times.... Transcribed
from the true Copies of her Majesties own Receipt Books, by W. M. one
of her late Servants.” It is curious to recall that this book was
published during the Cromwell Protectorate--1658 is the year of the
death of Oliver--and that the queen alluded to in the title--whose
portrait, engraved by the elder William Faithorne, forms the
frontispiece--was Henrietta Maria, widow of Charles I., and at that
time an exile in France.

During this century, which saw such publications as Rose’s “School for
the Officers of the Mouth,” and “Nature Unembowelled,” a woman, Hannah
Wolley, appears as author of “The Cook’s Guide.” All such compilations
have enduring human value, but we actually gain quite as much of this
oldest of arts from such records as those the indefatigable Pepys left
in his Diary. At that time men of our race did not disdain a knowledge
of cookery. Izaak Walton, “an excellent angler, and now with God,”
dresses chub and trout in his meadow-sweet pages. Even Thomas Fuller,
amid his solacing and delightful “Worthies,” thinks of the housewife,
and gives a receipt for metheglin.

And a hundred years later Dr. Johnson’s friend, the Rev. Richard
Warner, in his “Personal Recollections,” did not hesitate to expand
upon what he thought the origin of mince pies. Warner’s Johnsonian
weight in telling his fantasy recalls Goldsmith’s quip about the
Doctor’s little fish talking like whales, and also Johnson’s criticism
upon his own “too big words and too many of them.”

Warner wrote, “In the early ages of our country, when its present
widely spread internal trade and retail business were yet in their
infancy, and none of the modern facilities were afforded to the cook
to supply herself ‘on the spur of the moment,’ ... it was the practice
of all prudent housewives, to lay in, at the conclusion of every year
(from some contiguous periodical fair), a stock sufficient for the
ensuing annual consumption, of ... every sweet composition for the
table--such as raisins, currants, citrons, and ‘spices of the best.’

“The ample cupboard ... within the wainscot of the dining parlour
itself ... formed the safe depository of these precious stores.

“‘When merry Christmas-tide came round’ ... the goodly litter of the
cupboard, thus various in kind and aspect, was carefully swept into one
common receptacle; the mingled mass enveloped in pastry and enclosed
within the duly heated oven, from whence ... perfect in form, colour,
odour, flavour and temperament, it smoked, the glory of the hospitable
Christmas board, hailed from every quarter by the honourable and
imperishable denomination of the Mince-Pye.”

In the eighteenth century women themselves, following Hannah Wolley,
began cook-book compiling. So great was their success that we find Mrs.
Elizabeth Moxon’s “English Housewifry” going into its ninth edition
in the London market of 1764. All through history there have been
surprises coming to prejudiced minds out of the despised and Nazarene.
It was so about this matter of cook-books--small in itself, great in
its far-reaching results to the health and development of the human

Women had been taught the alphabet. But the dogmatism of Dr. Johnson
voiced the judgment of many of our forebears: a dominant power is
always hard in its estimate of the capacities it controls. “Women can
spin very well,” said the great Cham, “but they can not make a good
book of cookery.” He was talking to “the swan of Lichfield,” little
Anna Seward, when he said this, and also to a London publisher. The
book they were speaking of had been put forth by the now famous Mrs.
Hannah Glasse, said to be the wife of a London attorney.

The doctor--possibly with an eye to business, a publisher being
present--was describing a volume he had in mind to make, “a book upon
philosophical principles,” “a better book of cookery than has ever yet
been written.” “Then,” wisely said the dogmatic doctor, “as you can
not make bad meat good, I would tell what is the best butcher’s meat,
the best beef, the best pieces; how to choose young fowls; the proper
seasons of different vegetables; and then how to roast and boil and
compound.” This was the plan of a poet, essayist, lexicographer, and
the leading man of letters of his day. His cook-book was never written.

But good Mrs. Glasse had also with large spirit aimed at teaching
the ignorant, possibly those of a kind least often thought of by
instructors in her art. She had, forsooth, caught her hare outside
her book, even if she never found him in its page. “If I have not
wrote in the high polite style,” she says, with a heart helpful toward
the misunderstood and oppressed, and possibly with the pages of some
pretentious chef in mind, “I hope I shall be forgiven; for my intention
is to instruct the lower sort, and therefore must treat them in their
own way. For example, when I bid them lard a fowl, if I should bid them
lard with large lardoons, they would not know what I meant; but when I
say they must lard with little pieces of bacon, they know what I mean.
So in many other things in Cookery the great cooks have such a high way
of expressing themselves, that the poor girls are at a loss to know
what they mean.”

Mrs. Glasse’s book was published in 1747--while Dr. Johnson had still
thirty-seven years in which to “boast of the niceness of his palate,”
and spill his food upon his waistcoat. “Whenever,” says Macaulay, “he
was so fortunate as to have near him a hare that had been kept too
long, or a meat pie made with rancid butter, he gorged himself with
such violence that his veins swelled and the moisture broke out on his
forehead.” But within forty-eight years of the December his poor body
was borne from the house behind Fleet Street to its resting-place in
Westminster Abbey, a thin volume, “The Frugal Housewife,” written by
our American Lydia Maria Child, had passed to its ninth London edition,
in that day sales being more often than in our own a testimony of
merit. This prevailing of justice over prejudice is “too good for any
but very honest people,” as Izaak Walton said of roast pike. Dogmatism
is always eating its own words.

Since the master in literature, Dr. Johnson, planned his cook-book
many cooking men have dipped ink in behalf of instruction in their
art. Such names as Farley, Carême, and Soyer have been written,
if not in marble or bronze, at least in sugar of the last caramel
degree--unappreciated excellencies mainly because of the inattention of
the public to what nourishes it, and lack of the knowledge that the one
who introduces an inexpensive, palatable, and digestible dish benefits
his fellow-men.

The names of these club cooks and royal cooks are not so often referred
to as that of the large and human-hearted Mrs. Glasse. A key to their
impulse toward book-making must, however, have been that offered by
Master Farley, chief cook at the London Tavern, who wrote in 1791, a
hundred and fourteen years ago: “Cookery, like every other Art, has
been moving forward to perfection by slow Degrees.... And although
there are so many Books of this Kind already published, that one
would hardly think there could be Occasion for another, yet we flatter
ourselves, that the Readers of this Work will find, from a candid
Perusal, and an impartial Comparison, that our Pretensions to the
Favour of the Public are not ill-founded.”

Such considerations as those of Master Farley seem to lead to the
present great output. But nowadays our social conditions and our
intricate and involved household arrangements demand a specialization
of duties. The average old cook-book has become insufficient. It has
evolved into household-directing as well as cook-directing books,
comprehending the whole subject of esoteric economies. This is a
curious enlargement; and one cause, and result, of it is that the men
and women of our domestic corps are better trained, better equipped
with a logical, systematized, scientific knowledge, that they are in a
degree specialists--in a measure as the engineer of an ocean greyhound
is a specialist, or the professor of mathematics, or the writer of
novels is a specialist. And specialists should have the dignity of
special treatment. In this movement, it is to be hoped, is the wiping
out of the social stigma under which domestic service has so long lain
in our country, and a beginning of the independence of the domestic
laborer--that he or she shall possess himself or herself equally with
others--as other free-born people possess themselves, that is.

And closely allied with this specialization another notable thing
has come about. Science with its microscope has finally taught what
religion with its manifold precepts of humility and humanity has failed
for centuries to accomplish, thus evidencing that true science and
true religion reach one and the same end. There are no menial duties,
science clearly enunciates: the so-called drudgery is often the most
important of work, especially when the worker brings to his task a
large knowledge of its worth in preserving and sweetening human life,
and perfectness as the sole and satisfactory aim. Only the careless,
thriftless workers, the inefficient and possessed with no zeal for
perfection of execution, only these are the menials according to the
genuine teachings of our day--and the ignorant, unlifted worker’s work
is menial (using the word again in its modern English and not its old
Norman-French usage) whatever his employment.

In verse this was said long ago, as the imagination is always
forestalling practical knowledge, and George Herbert, of the
seventeenth century, foreran our science in his “Elixir:”

    “All may of thee partake:
      Nothing can be so mean,
    Which with this tincture _for thy sake_
      Will not grow bright and clean.

    “A servant with this clause
      Makes drudgery divine;
    Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
      Makes that and th’ action fine.

    “This is the famous stone
      That turneth all to gold:
    For that which God doth touch and own
      Cannot for less be told.”

Present-day, up-to-date books on housekeeping stand for the fact that
in our households, whatever the estimates of the past and of other
social conditions, all work is dignified--none is menial. For besides
intelligent knowledge and execution, what in reality, they ask, gives
dignity to labor? Weight and importance of that particular task to
our fellow-beings? What then shall we say of the duties of cook? of
housemaid? of chambermaid? of the handy man, or of the modest maid
of all work? For upon the efficient performance of the supposedly
humblest domestic servitor depends each life of the family. Such
interdependence brings the employed very close to the employer, and no
bond could knit the varied elements of a household more closely, none
should knit it more humanly.

The human, then, are the first of the relations that exist between
employer and employee, that “God hath made of one blood all nations
of the earth.” It is a truth not often enough in the minds of the
parties to a domestic-service compact. And besides this gospel of Paul
are two catch-phrases, not so illuminated but equally humane, which
sprang from the ameliorating spirit of the last century--“Put yourself
in his place,” and “Everybody is as good as I.” These form the best
bed-rock for all relations between master and servant. There is need
of emphasizing this point in our books on affairs of the house, for a
majority of our notably rich are new to riches and new to knowledge,
and as employers have not learned the limitation of every child of
indulgence and also polite manners in early life.

It is after all a difference of environment that makes the difference
between mistress and maid, between master and man. The human being
is as plastic as clay--is clay in the hands of circumstance. If his
support of wife and children depended upon obsequiousness of bearing,
the master might, like the butler, approximate Uriah Heep. If the
mistress’s love of delicacy and color had not been cultivated by
association with taste from childhood, her finery might be as vulgar
as the maid’s which provokes her satire. It is after all a question of
surroundings and education. And in this country, where Aladdin-fortunes
spring into being by the rubbing of a lamp--where families of, for
example, many centuries of the downtrodden life of European peasant
jump from direst poverty to untold wealth--environment has often no
opportunity to form the folk of gentle breeding. Many instances are not
lacking where those who wait are more gently bred than those who are
waited upon.

In their larger discourse, then, up-to-date household books stand for
the very essence of democracy and human-heartedness--which is also the
very essence of aristocracy. After the old manner which Master Farley
described, our women seem to have given their books to the public with
the faith that they contain much other books have not touched--to stand
for an absolutely equable humanity, for kindness and enduring courtesy
between those who employ and those who are employed, the poor rich and
the rich poor, the householders and the houseworkers--to state the
relations between master and man and mistress and maid more explicitly
than they have before been stated, and thus to help toward a more
perfect organization of the forces that carry on our households--to
direct with scientific and economic prevision the food of the house
members; to emphasize in all departments of the house thoroughgoing
sanitation and scientific cleanliness.

Of questions of the household--of housekeeping and home-making--our
American women have been supposed somewhat careless. Possibly this
judgment over the sea has been builded upon our women’s vivacity,
and a subtle intellectual force they possess, and also from their
interest in affairs at large, and again from their careful and cleanly
attention to their person--“they keep their teeth too clean,” says a
much-read French author. Noting such characteristics, foreigners have
jumped to the conclusion that American women are not skilled in works
within doors. In almost every European country this is common report.
“We German women are such devoted housekeepers,” said the wife of an
eminent Deutscher, “and you American women know so little about such
things!” “Bless your heart!” I exclaimed--or if not just that then its
German equivalent--thinking of the perfectly kept homes from the rocks
and pines of Maine to the California surf; “you German women with your
little haushaltungen, heating your rooms with porcelain stoves, and
your frequent reversion in meals to the simplicity of wurst and beer,
have no conception of the size and complexity of American households
and the executive capabilities necessary to keep them in orderly work.
Yours is mere doll’s housekeeping--no furnaces, no hot water, no
electricity, no elevators, no telephone, and no elaborate menus.”

Our American women are model housekeepers and home-makers, as thousands
of homes testify, but the interests of the mistresses of these houses
are broader, their lives are commonly more projected into the outer
world of organized philanthropy and art than women’s lives abroad,
and the apparent non-intrusion of domestic affairs leads foreigners
to misinterpret their interest and their zeal. It is the consummate
executive who can set aside most personal cares and take on others
efficiently. Moreover, it is not here as where a learned professor
declared: “Die erste Tugend eines Weibes ist die Sparsamkeit.”

To have a home in which daily duties move without noise and as like
a clock as its human machinery will permit, and to have a table of
simplicity and excellence, is worth a pleasure-giving ambition and
a womanly ambition. It is to bring, in current critical phrase,
three-fourths of the comfort of life to those whose lives are joined to
the mistress of such a household--the loaf-giver who spends her brains
for each ordered day and meal. Moreover, and greatest of all, to plan
and carry on so excellent an establishment is far-reaching upon all
men. It is the very essence of morality--is duty--_i.e._, service--and

The French aver that men of the larger capacity have for food
a particularly keen enjoyment. Possibly this holds good for
Frenchmen--for the author of Monte Cristo, or for a Brillat-Savarin,
of whose taste the following story is told: “Halting one day at Sens,
when on his way to Lyons, Savarin sent, according to his invariable
custom, for the cook, and asked what he could have for dinner. ‘Little
enough,’ was the reply. ‘But let us see,’ retorted Savarin; ‘let us go
into the kitchen and talk the matter over.’ There he found four turkeys
roasting. ‘Why!’ exclaimed he, ‘you told me you had nothing in the
house! let me have one of those turkeys.’ ‘Impossible!’ said the cook;
‘they are all bespoken by a gentleman up-stairs.’ ‘He must have a large
party to dine with him, then?’ ‘No; he dines by himself.’ ‘Indeed!’
said the gastronome; ‘I should like much to be acquainted with the man
who orders four turkeys for his own eating.’ The cook was sure the
gentleman would be glad of his acquaintance, and Savarin, on going to
pay his respects to the stranger, found him to be no other than his
own son. ‘What! you rascal! four turkeys all to yourself!’ ‘Yes, sir,’
said Savarin, junior; ‘you know that when we have a turkey at home you
always reserve for yourself the pope’s nose; I was resolved to regale
myself for once in my life; and here I am, ready to begin, although I
did not expect the honour of your company.’”

The French may say truly of the famous “high-priest of gastronomy.”
And a story which has lately appeared in Germany tells of a sensitive
palate in Goethe: “At a small party at the court of Weimar, the Marshal
asked permission to submit a nameless sample of wine. Accordingly, a
red wine was circulated, tasted, and much commended. Several of the
company pronounced it Burgundy, but could not agree as to the special
vintage or the year. Goethe alone tasted and tasted again, shook his
head, and, with a meditative air, set his glass on the table. ‘Your
Excellency appears to be of a different opinion,’ said the court
marshal. ‘May I ask what name you give to the wine?’ ‘The wine,’ said
the poet, ‘is quite unknown to me; but I do not think it is a Burgundy.
I should rather consider it a good Jena wine that has been kept for
some while in a Madeira cask.’ ‘And so, in fact, it is,’ said the court
marshal. For a more discriminating palate, one must go to the story
of the rival wine-tasters in ‘Don Quixote,’ who from a single glass
detected the key and leather thong in a cask of wine.”

But that great capacity means also discriminating palate could
hardly be true for Americans of the old stock and simple life. Judge
Usher, Secretary of Interior in Lincoln’s Cabinet at the time of the
President’s death, said that he had never heard Abraham Lincoln refer
to his food in any way whatever.

       *       *       *       *       *

From a consideration of women’s cook-books springs another suggestion.
Heaped upon one’s table, the open pages and appetiteful illustrations
put one to thinking that if women of intelligence, and of leisure
except for burdens they assume under so-called charity or a faddish
impulse, were to take each some department of the household, and give
time and effort to gaining a complete knowledge of that department--a
knowledge of its evolution and history, of its scientific and hygienic
bearings, of its gastronomic values if it touched upon the table--there
would be great gain to the world at large and to their friends. For
instance, if a woman skilled in domestic science and the domestic
arts were to take some fruit, or some vegetable, or cereal, or meat,
and develop to the utmost what an old author-cook calls, after those
cook-oracles of ancient Rome, the “Apician mysteries” of the dish,
her name would deserve to go down to posterity with something of the
odor--or flavor--of sanctity. Hundreds of saints in the calendar never
did anything half so meritorious and worthy of felicitous recognition
from their fellow-men.

Take, for example, the democratic cabbage and its cousins german,
and their treatment in the average cuisine. What might not such an
investigation show this Monsieur Chou or Herr Kohl and his relations
capable of!--the cabbage itself, the Scotch kale, the Jersey cabbage,
and Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower, and broccoli, and kohl-rabi, and
cabbage palms, and still other species! Looked at in their evolution,
and the part they have played in human history as far back as in old
Persia and the Anabasis of the Greeks, and so late as the famine times
of Ireland, these succulent and nutritious vegetables would be most
interesting. And, even if chemically their elements vary, the fact
that all the family are blessed with a large percentage of nitrogen
might be shown to have increased their usefulness long before chemists
analyzed their tissues and told us why men who could not buy meat so
carefully cultivated the foody leaves. Under such sane and beneficent
impulses every well-directed household would become an experiment
station for the study of human food--not the extravagant and rare after
the test and search of imperial Heliogabalus, but in the best modern,
scientific, economic, gastronomic, and democratic manner.

Since making this foregoing suggestion I find this point similarly
touched by the man who dissertated on roast pig. “It is a
desideratum,” says Lamb, “in works that treat de re culinaria, that we
have no rationale of sauces, or theory of mixed flavours: as to show
why cabbage is reprehensible with roast beef, laudable with bacon; why
the haunch of mutton seeks the alliance of currant jelly, the shoulder
civilly declineth it; why loin of veal (a pretty problem), being itself
unctious, seeketh the adventitious lubricity of melted butter--and why
the same part in pork, not more oleaginous, abhorreth from it; why the
French bean sympathizes with the flesh of deer; why salt fish points
to parsnips.... We are as yet but in the empirical stage of cookery.
We feed ignorantly, and want to be able to give a reason of the relish
that is in us.”

In speaking of modern household books one cannot have done without
adding still one word more about the use of the word “servant” as
these books seem to speak of it. Owing to an attempted Europeanizing
of our ideas, and also to the fact that many of our domestics are of
foreign birth and habits of thought--or of the lowly, velvet-voiced,
unassertive suavity of the most loyal negro--the term has gradually
crept to a quasi acceptance in this country. It is a word not
infrequently obnoxious to Americans--employers--of the old stock, and
trained in the spirit which wrote the Declaration of Independence and
fought its sequent War. “From the time of the Revolution,” says Miss
Salmon in her “Domestic Service,” “until about 1850 the word ‘servant’
does not seem to have been generally applied in either section [north
or south] to white persons of American birth.”

The term indicates social conditions which no longer exist and
represents ideas which no longer have real life--we have but to
consider how the radical Defoe published, in 1724, “The Great Law of
Subordination consider’d; or, the Insolence and Unsufferable Behaviour
of Servants in England duly enquir’d into,” to be convinced of our
vast advance in human sympathy--and a revival of our American spirit
toward the word would be a wholesome course. In the mouths of many
who use it to excess--those mainly at fault are innocently imitative,
unthinking, or pretentious women--it sounds ungracious, if not vulgar,
and distinctly untrue to those who made the country for us and
desirable for us to live in; and untrue also to the best social feeling
of to-day. It is still for a genuine American rather hard to imagine
a person such as the word “servant” connotes--a lackey, a receiver
of tips of any sort--with an election ballot in hand and voting
thinkingly, knowingly, intelligently for the guidance of our great
government. It would not have been so difficult for the old δοῦλοι of
Athens to vote upon the Pnyx as for such a man to vote aright for
us. And not infrequently, in the ups and downs of speculation and the
mushroom growth and life of fortunes among us, the “servant,” to use
the old biblical phrase, is sometimes greater in moral, intellectual,
and social graces than his “lord.” The term belongs to times, and the
temperamental condition of times when traces of slavery were common,
and when employers believed, and acted upon the faith, that they hired
not a person’s labor but the person himself--or herself--who was
subject to a sort of ownership and control.

Let us remand the word to the days of Dean Swift and such conditions
as the tremendous satire of his “Directions to Servants” exhibited, in
which--except perhaps in Swift’s great heart--there was neither the
humanity of our times, nor the courtesy of our times, nor the sure
knowledge of our times--which endeavor to create, and, in truth, are
gradually making trained and skilful workers in every department, and
demand in return for service with perfectness as its aim, independence
of the person, dignified treatment and genuine respect from the

All these things the women’s household and cook-books will be, nay,
are, gradually teaching, and that which Charles Carter, “lately cook
to his Grace the Duke of Argyle,” wrote in 1730 may still hold good:
“’Twill be very easy,” said Master Carter, “for an ordinary Cook when
he is well-instructed in the most Elegant Parts of his Profession to
lower his Hand at any time; and he that can excellently perform in a
Courtly and Grand Manner, will never be at a Loss in any other.” When
this future knowledge and adjustment come we shall be free from the
tendencies which Mistress Glasse, after her outspoken manner, describes
of her own generation: “So much is the blind folly of this age,” cries
the good woman, “that they would rather be imposed upon by a French
booby than give encouragement to a good English cook.”

Economic changes such as we have indicated must in measurable
time ensue. The science and the art of conducting a house are now
obtaining recognition in our schools. Not long, and the knowledge
will be widespread. Its very existence, and the possibility of its
diffusion, is a result of the nineteenth century movement for the
broadening of women’s knowledge and the expansion of their interests
and independence--this wedded with the humane conviction that the
wisest and fruitfullest use of scientific deduction and skill is in the
bettering of human life. Behind and giving potence to these impulses is
the fellowship, liberty, and equality of human kind--the great idea of

Already we have gone back to the wholesomeness of our English
forebears’ estimate that the physician and cook are inseparable.
Further still, we may ultimately retrace our ideas, and from the point
of view of economics and sociology declare that with us, as with the
old Jews and Greeks, the priest and the cook are one.


    And this I sweare by blackest brooke of hell,
    I am no pick-purse of another’s wit.


    Yet these mine owne, I wrong not other men,
      Nor traffique farther then this happy clime,
    Nor filch from Portes, nor from Petrarchs pen,
      A fault too common in this latter time.
          Divine Sir Philip, I avouch thy writ,
          I am no pick-purse of anothers wit.


A thing always becomes his at last who says it best, and thus makes it
his own.



Among the jocularities of literature none is greater than Squire
Bickerstaff’s; and none has had greater results--with perhaps one
exception. The practicality of the Squire’s jest and the flavor of
it suited the century of Squire Western rather than our own. But its
excuse was in the end it served of breaking the old astrologer’s hold
upon the people.

Jonathan Swift is the writer to whom the original Bickerstaff squibs
are in the main to be ascribed. It is due to Swift’s clarity and
strength that they are among the best of literary fooling.

But Swift was not alone. He had the help of Addison, Steele, Prior,
Congreve, and other wits of Will’s Coffee-House and St. James’s.
Together they set all London laughing. Upon Swift’s shoulders,
however, falls the onus of the joke which must have been his recreation
amid pamphleteering and the smudging of his ecclesiastical hand with
political ink. It happened in 1708.

The English almanac was not in Swift’s day as in later times a simple
calendar of guesses about the weather. It was rather a “prognosticator”
in ambiguous phrase of war, pestilence, murder, and such horrors as
our yellow press nowadays serves up to readers, like in development to
the conning public of the old almanacs. It was at all times solemn and
dogmatic. What the almanac prognosticated was its philomath’s duty to
furnish. His science and pre-science builded a supposed influence of
the stars and their movements upon the moral life of man.

Squire Bicker staff’s jest had to do with almanac-makers, and was
directed against a chief pretender, Dr. Partridge, the astrologer and
philomath Pope refers to when he speaks of the translation of the raped
“Lock” to the skies:

    “This Partridge soon shall view in cloudless skies,
     When next he looks through Galileo’s eyes;
     And hence th’ egregious wizard shall foredoom
     The fate of Louis and the fall of Rome.”

In the seventeenth century the ascendency of these charlatans had
become alarming. One of the most adroit and unscrupulous of their
number--William Lilly--had large following. They not only had the
popular ear, but now and then a man like Dryden inclined to them. Nor
did Sir Thomas Browne “reject a sober and regulated astrology.”

At the beginning of the eighteenth century the scandal of their
excesses was growing, and it was then that Swift came forward--just as
Swift was constantly coming forward with his great humanity, in one
instance to save Ireland the infliction of Wood’s halfpence, and again
in protest against English restriction of Irish trade; poor Swift’s
heart was always with the poor, the duped and undefended--it was then
that Swift came forward with “Predictions for the year 1708. Wherein
the Month, and the Day of the Month, are set down, the Person named,
and the great Actions and Events of next Year particularly related, as
They will come to Pass. Written to Prevent the People of England from
being farther imposed on by the vulgar Almanack-Makers.”

The surname of the signature, “Isaac Bickerstaff,” Swift took from a
locksmith’s sign. The Isaac he added as not commonly in use.

“I have considered,” he begins, “the gross abuse of astrology in this
kingdom, and upon debating the matter with myself, I could not possibly
lay the fault upon the art, but upon those gross impostors, who set
up to be the artists. I know several learned men have contended that
the whole is a cheat; that it is absurd and ridiculous to imagine the
stars can have any influence at all upon human actions, thoughts, or
inclinations; and whoever has not bent his studies that way may be
excused for thinking so, when he sees in how wretched a manner that
noble art is treated by a few mean, illiterate traders between us
and the stars; who import a yearly stock of nonsense, lies, folly,
and impertinence, which they offer to the world as genuine from the
planets, though they descend from no greater a height than their own

“As for the few following predictions, I now offer the world, I
forebore to publish them till I had perused the several Almanacks for
the year we are now entered upon. I found them all in the usual strain,
and I beg the reader will compare their manner with mine: and here I
make bold to tell the world that I lay the whole credit of my art upon
the truth of these predictions; and I will be content that Partridge
and the rest of his clan may hoot me for a cheat and impostor, if I
fail in any single particular of moment....

“My first prediction is but a trifle, yet I will mention it to show
how ignorant these sottish pretenders to astrology are in their own
concerns: it relates to Partridge, the Almanack-maker. I have consulted
the star of his nativity by my own rules, and find he will infallibly
die upon the 29th of March next, about eleven at night, of a raging
fever; therefore I advise him to consider of it, and settle his affairs
in time....”

An “Answer to Bickerstaff by a Person of Quality,” evidently from the
hand of Swift and his friends, followed these “Predictions.”

“I have not observed for some years past,” it begins, “any
insignificant paper to have made more noise, or be more greedily
bought, than that of these Predictions.... I shall not enter upon the
examination of them; but think it very incumbent upon the learned Mr.
Partridge to take them into his consideration, and lay as many errors
in astrology as possible to Mr. Bickerstaff’s account. He may justly,
I think, challenge the ’squire to publish the calculation he has made
of Partridge’s nativity, by the credit of which he so determinately
pronounces the time and manner of his death; and Mr. Bickerstaff can
do no less in honour, than give Mr. Partridge the same advantage of
calculating his, by sending him an account of the time and place of his
birth, with other particulars necessary for such a work. By which, no
doubt, the learned world will be engaged in the dispute, and take part
on each side according as they are inclined....”

“The Accomplishment of the first of Mr. Bickerstaff’s Predictions,
being an Account of the Death of Mr. Partridge, the Almanack-Maker,
upon the 29th instant in a Letter to a Person of Honour, written in the
year 1708,” continues the jocularity.

“My Lord: In obedience to your Lordship’s commands, as well as to
satisfy my own curiosity, I have some days past inquired constantly
after Partridge the Almanack-maker, of whom it was foretold in Mr.
Bickerstaff’s Predictions, published about a month ago, that he should
die the 29th instant, about eleven at night, of a raging fever.... I
saw him accidentally once or twice, about ten days before he died, and
observed he began very much to droop and languish, though I hear his
friends did not seem to apprehend him in any danger. About two or three
days ago he grew ill, ... but when I saw him he had his understanding
as well as ever I knew, and spoke strong and hearty, without any
seeming uneasiness or constraint [saying].... ‘I am a poor
ignorant fellow, bred to a mean trade, yet I have sense enough to know
that all pretences of foretelling by astrology are deceits for this
manifest reason: because the wise and the learned, who can only judge
whether there be any truth in this science, do all unanimously agree to
laugh at and despise it; and none but the poor, ignorant vulgar give it
any credit, and that only upon the word of such silly wretches as I and
my fellows, who can hardly write or read.’...

“After half an hour’s conversation I took my leave, being almost
stifled with the closeness of the room. I imagined he could not hold
out long, and therefore withdrew to a little coffee-house hard by,
leaving a servant at the house with orders to come immediately and tell
me, as near as he could, the minute when Partridge should expire, which
was not above two hours after.”

The burlesque next before the public, “Squire Bickerstaff detected; or,
the Astrological Impostor convicted, by John Partridge, student of
physic and astrology, a True and Impartial account of the Proceedings
of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., against me,” was doubtless drawn up by
Addison’s friend Yalden, whom Scott speaks of as “Partridge’s near

“The 28th of March, Anno Dom. 1708,” it begins, “being the night this
sham prophet had so impudently fixed for my last, which made little
impression on myself: but I cannot answer for my whole family; for my
wife, with concern more than usual, prevailed on me to take somewhat to
sweat for a cold; and between the hours of eight and nine to go to bed;
the maid, as she was warming my bed, with a curiosity natural to young
wenches, runs to the window, and asks of one passing the street who the
bell tolled for? Dr. Partridge, says he, the famous almanack-maker,
who died suddenly this evening: the poor girl, provoked, told him he
lied like a rascal; the other very sedately replied, the sexton had
so informed him, and if false, he was to blame for imposing upon a
stranger. She asked a second, and a third, as they passed, and every
one was in the same tone. Now, I do not say these are accomplices to
a certain astrological ’squire, and that one Bickerstaff might be
sauntering thereabout, because I will assert nothing here, but what
I dare attest for plain matter of fact. My wife at this fell into a
violent disorder, and I must own I was a little discomposed at the
oddness of the accident. In the mean time one knocks at my door; Betty
runs down, and opening, finds a sober grave person, who modestly
inquires if this was Dr. Partridge’s? She, taking him for some cautious
city patient, that came at that time for privacy, shews him into the
dining-room. As soon as I could compose myself, I went to him, and was
surprised to find my gentleman mounted on a table with a two-foot rule
in his hand, measuring my walls, and taking the dimensions of the room.
Pray, sir, says I, not to interrupt you, have you any business with
me?--Only, sir, replies he, order the girl to bring me a better light,
for this is a very dim one.--Sir, says I, my name is Partridge.--O!
the doctor’s brother, belike, cries he; the staircase, I believe, and
these two apartments hung in close mourning will be sufficient, and
only a strip of bays round the other rooms. The doctor must needs die
rich, he had great dealings in his way for many years; if he had no
family coat, you had as good use the escutcheons of the company, they
are as showish, and will look as magnificent, as if he was descended
from the blood royal.--With that I assumed a greater air of authority,
and demanded who employed him, or how he came there?--Why, I was sent,
sir, by the company of undertakers, says he, and they were employed
by the honest gentleman, who is executor to the good doctor departed;
and our rascally porter, I believe, is fallen fast asleep with the
black cloth and sconces, or he had been here, and we might have been
tacking up by this time.--Sir, says I, pray be advised by a friend,
and make the best of your speed out of my doors, for I hear my wife’s
voice (which, by the by, is pretty distinguishable), and in that corner
of the room stands a good cudgel, which somebody has felt before now;
if that light in her hands, and she know the business you come about,
without consulting the stars, I can assure you it will be employed very
much to the detriment of your person.--Sir, cries he,
bowing with great civility, I perceive extreme grief for the loss of
the doctor disorders you a little at present, but early in the morning
I will wait on you with all the necessary materials....

“Well, once more I got my door closed, and prepared for bed, in hopes
of a little repose after so many ruffling adventures; just as I was
putting out my light in order to it, another bounces as hard as he
can knock; I open the window and ask who is there and what he wants?
I am Ned, the sexton, replies he, and come to know whether the doctor
left any orders for a funeral sermon, and where he is to be laid, and
whether his grave is to be plain or bricked?--Why, sirrah, say I, you
know me well enough; you know I am not dead, and how dare you affront
me after this manner?--Alackaday, sir, replies the fellow, why it is in
print, and the whole town knows you are dead; why, there is Mr. White,
the joiner, is fitting screws to your coffin; he will be here with
it in an instant: he was afraid you would have wanted it before this
time.... In short, what with undertakers, embalmers, joiners, sextons,
and your damned elegy hawkers upon a late practitioner in physic and
astrology, I got not one wink of sleep the whole night, nor scarce a
moment’s rest ever since....

“I could not stir out of doors for the space of three months after
this, but presently one comes up to me in the street, Mr. Partridge,
that coffin you was last buried in, I have not yet been paid for:
Doctor, cries another dog, how do you think people can live by
making of graves for nothing? next time you die, you may even toll
out the bell yourself for Ned. A third rogue tips me by the elbow,
and wonders how I have the conscience to sneak abroad without paying
my funeral expenses.--Lord, says one, I durst have swore that was
honest Dr. Partridge, my old friend, but, poor man, he is gone.--I
beg your pardon, says another, you look so like my old acquaintance
that I used to consult on some private occasions; but, alack, he is
gone the way of all flesh.--Look, look, look, cries a third, after a
competent space of staring at me, would not one think our neighbour,
the almanack-maker, was crept out of his grave, to take the other
peep at the stars in this world, and shew how much he is improved in
fortune-telling by having taken a journey to the other?...

“My poor wife is run almost distracted with being called widow
Partridge, when she knows it is false; and once a term she is cited
into the court to take out letters of administration. But the greatest
grievance is a paltry quack that takes up my calling just under my
nose, and in his printed directions, with N. B.--says he lives in the
house of the late ingenious Mr. John Partridge, an eminent practitioner
in leather, physic, and astrology....”

The astrologer, forgetting to refer to the stars for evidence,
indignantly declared himself to be alive, and Swift’s returning
“Vindication of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., against what is objected to
by Mr. Partridge in his Almanack for the present year, 1709, by the
said Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq.,” complains:

“Mr. Partridge has been lately pleased to treat me after a very
rough manner in that which is called his almanack for the present
year ... [regarding] my predictions, which foretold the death of Mr.
Partridge to happen on March 29, 1708. This he is pleased to contradict
absolutely in the almanack he has published for the present year....

“Without entering into criticisms of chronology about the hour of
his death, I shall only prove that Mr. Partridge is not alive. And
my first argument is this: about a thousand gentlemen having bought
his almanacks for this year, merely to find what he said against me,
at every line they read, they would lift up their eyes, and cry out
betwixt rage and laughter, ‘they were sure no man alive ever writ
such damned stuff as this.’ Neither did I ever hear that opinion
disputed: ... Therefore, if an uninformed carcase walks still about and
is pleased to call himself Partridge, Mr. Bickerstaff does not think
himself any way answerable for that. Neither had the said carcase any
right to beat the poor boy who happened to pass by it in the street,
crying, ‘A full and true account of Dr. Partridge’s death,’ etc.

“... I will plainly prove him to be dead, out of his own almanack for
this year, and from the very passage which he produces to make us
think him alive. He there says ‘he is not only now alive, but was also
alive upon that very 29th of March which I foretold he should die on’:
by this he declares his opinion that a man may be alive now who was
not alive a twelvemonth ago. And indeed there lies the sophistry of
his argument. He dares not assert he was alive ever since that 29th
of March, but that he ‘is now alive and was so on that day’: I grant
the latter; for he did not die till night, as appears by the printed
account of his death, in a letter to a lord; and whether he be since
revived, I leave the world to judge....”

The joke had gained its end; the astrologer and philomath had been
ridiculed out of existence. But the name of the “astrological ’squire”
was in everybody’s mouth; and when in April, 1709, Steele began “The
Tatler,” Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire, spoke in the dedication of a
gentleman who “had written Predictions, and Two or Three other Pieces
in my Name, which had render’d it famous through all Parts of Europe;
and by an inimitable Spirit and Humour, raised it to as high a Pitch of
Reputation as it could possibly arrive at.”

The Inquisition in Portugal had, with utmost gravity, condemned
Bickerstaff’s predictions and the readers of them, and had burnt his
predictions. The Company of Stationers in London obtained in 1709 an
injunction against the issuing of any almanac by John Partridge, as if
in fact he were dead.

       *       *       *       *       *

If the fame of this foolery was through all parts of Europe, it must
also have crossed to the English colonies of America, and by reference
to this fact we may explain the curious literary parallel Poor
Richard’s Almanac affords. Twenty-five years later Benjamin Franklin
played the selfsame joke in Philadelphia.

Franklin was but two years old when Swift and his Bickerstaff
coadjutors were jesting. But by the time he had grown and wandered to
Philadelphia and become a journeyman printer--by 1733--Addison, Steele,
Prior, and Congreve had died, and Swift’s wonderful mind was turned
upon and eating itself in the silent deanery of St. Patrick’s.

Conditions about him gave Franklin every opportunity for the jest. The
almanac in the America of 1733 had even greater acceptance than the
like publication of England in Isaac Bickerstaff’s day. No output of
the colonial press, not even the publication of theological tracts, was
so frequent or so remunerative. It was the sole annual which commonly
penetrated the farmhouse of the colonists, where it hung in neighborly
importance near the Bible, Fox’s “Book of Martyrs,” and Jonathan
Edwards’s tractate on “The Freedom of the Human Will.” And it had
uses. Besides furnishing a calendar, weather prophecies, and jokes, it
added receipts for cooking, pickling, dyeing, and in many ways was the
“Useful Companion” its title-page proclaimed.

So keen, practical, and energetic a nature as Franklin’s could not
let the opportunity pass for turning a penny, and with the inimitable
adaptability that marked him all his life he begins his Poor Richard
of 1733:

“Courteous Reader, I might in this place attempt to gain thy favour
by declaring that I write Almanacks with no other view than that of
the publick good, but in this I should not be sincere; and men are
now-a-days too wise to be deceiv’d by pretences, how specious soever.
The plain truth of the matter is, I am excessive poor, and my wife,
good woman, is, I tell her, excessive proud; she can not bear, she
says, to sit spinning in her shift of tow, while I do nothing but gaze
at the stars; and has threatened more than once to burn all my books
and rattling-traps (as she calls my instruments), if I do not make
some profitable use of them for the good of my family. The printer has
offer’d me some considerable share of the profits, and I have thus
began to comply with my dame’s desire.

“Indeed, this motive would have had force enough to have made me
publish an Almanack many years since, had it not been overpowered by my
regard for my good friend and fellow-student, Mr. Titan Leeds, whose
interest I was extreamly unwilling to hurt. But this obstacle (I am far
from speaking it with pleasure) is soon to be removed, since inexorable
death, who was never known to respect merit, has already prepared the
mortal dart, the fatal sister has already extended her destroying
shears, and that ingenious man must soon be taken from us. He dies, by
my calculation, made at his request, on Oct. 17, 1733, 3 ho. 29 m.,
P.M., at the very instant of the ☌ of ☉ and ☿. By his own calculation
he will survive till the 26th of the same month. This small difference
between us we have disputed whenever we have met these nine years past;
but at length he is inclinable to agree with my judgment. Which of us
is most exact, a little time will now determine. As, therefore, these
Provinces may not longer expect to see any of his performances after
this year, I think myself free to take up my task, and request a share
of publick encouragement, which I am the more apt to hope for on this
account, that the buyer of my Almanack may consider himself not only as
purchasing an useful utensil, but as performing an act of charity to
his poor

  “Friend and servant,

Franklin had a more eager biter than Partridge proved to Bickerstaff’s
bait, and Titan Leeds, in his American Almanack for 1734, showed how
uneasy was the hook:

“Kind Reader, Perhaps it may be expected that I should say something
concerning an Almanack printed for the Year 1733, said to be writ by
Poor Richard or Richard Saunders, who for want of other matter was
pleased to tell his Readers, that he had calculated my Nativity, and
from thence predicts my Death to be the 17th of October, 1733. At 29
min. past 3 a-clock in the Afternoon, and that these Provinces may not
expect to see any more of his (Titan Leeds) Performances, and this
precise Predicter, who predicts to a Minute, proposes to succeed me
in Writing of Almanacks; but notwithstanding his false Prediction, I
have by the Mercy of God lived to write a diary for the Year 1734,
and to publish the Folly and Ignorance of this presumptuous Author.
Nay, he adds another gross Falsehood in his Almanack, viz.--That by
my own Calculation, I shall survive until the 26th of the said Month
(October), which is as untrue as the former, for I do not pretend to
that Knowledge, altho’ he has usurpt the Knowledge of the Almighty
herein, and manifested himself a Fool and a Lyar. And by the mercy of
God I have lived to survive this conceited Scriblers Day and Minute
whereon he has predicted my Death; and as I have supplyed my Country
with Almanacks for three seven Years by past, to general Satisfaction,
so perhaps I may live to write when his Performances are Dead. Thus
much from your annual Friend, Titan Leeds, October 18, 1733, 3 ho. 33
min. P.M.”

“... In the preface to my last Almanack,” wrote Franklin, in genuine
humor, in Poor Richard for 1734, “I foretold the death of my dear old
friend and fellow-student, the learned and ingenious Mr. Titan Leeds,
which was to be the 17th of October, 1733, 3 h., 29 m., P.M., at the
very instant of the ☌ of ☉ and ☿. By his own calculation, he was to
survive till the 26th of the same month, and expire in the time of
the eclipse, near 11 o’clock A.M. At which of these times he died,
or whether he be really yet dead, I cannot at this present writing
positively assure my readers; forasmuch as a disorder in my own family
demanded my presence, and would not permit me, as I had intended, to
be with him in his last moments, to receive his last embrace, to close
his eyes, and do the duty of a friend in performing the last offices
to the departed. Therefore it is that I cannot positively affirm
whether he be dead or not; for the stars only show to the skilful what
will happen in the natural and universal chain of causes and effects;
but ’tis well known, that the events which would otherwise certainly
happen, at certain times, in the course of nature, are sometimes
set aside or postpon’d, for wise and good reasons, by the immediate
particular disposition of Providence; which particular disposition the
stars can by no means discover or foreshow. There is, however (and I
can not speak it without sorrow), there is the strongest probability
that my dear friend is no more; for there appears in his name, as I am
assured, an Almanack for the year 1734, in which I am treated in a very
gross and unhandsome manner, in which I am called a false predicter,
an ignorant, a conceited scribbler, a fool and a lyar. Mr. Leeds was
too well bred to use any man so indecently and so scurrilously, and
moreover his esteem and affection for me was extraordinary; so that it
is to be feared that pamphlet may be only a contrivance of somebody or
other, who hopes, perhaps, to sell two or three years’ Almanacks still,
by the sole force and virtue of Mr. Leeds’ name. But, certainly, to put
words into the mouth of a gentleman and a man of letters against his
friend, which the meanest and most scandalous of the people might be
ashamed to utter even in a drunken quarrel, is an unpardonable injury
to his memory, and an imposition upon the publick.

“Mr. Leeds was not only profoundly skilful in the useful science
he profess’d, but he was a man of exemplary sobriety, a most
sincere friend, and an exact performer of his word. These valuable
qualifications, with many others, so much endeared him to me, that
although it should be so, that, contrary to all probability, contrary
to my prediction and his own, he might possibly be yet alive, yet
my loss of honour, as a prognosticate, cannot afford me so much
mortification as his life, health, and safety would give me joy and

Again, Leeds, in The American Almanack for 1735, returns Franklin’s

“Courteous and Kind Reader: My Almanack being in its usual Method,
needs no Explanation; but perhaps it may be expected by some that I
shall say something concerning Poor Richard, or otherwise Richard
Saunders’s Almanack, which I suppose was printed in the Year 1733 for
the ensuing Year 1734, wherein he useth me with such good Manners, I
can hardly find what to say to him, without it is to advise him not to
be too proud because by his Prædicting my Death, and his writing an

“But if Falsehood and Inginuity be so rewarded, What may he expect
if ever he be in a capacity to publish that that is either Just or
according to Art? Therefore I shall say little more about it than, as
a Friend, to advise he will never take upon him to prædict or ascribe
any Person’s Death, till he has learned to do it better than he did

To this exhortation Franklin makes the following gay sally in Poor
Richard for 1735.

“... Whatever may be the musick of the spheres, how great soever the
harmony of the stars, ’tis certain there is no harmony among the
star-gazers: but they are perpetually growling and snarling at one
another like strange curs, or like some men at their wives. I had
resolved to keep the peace on my own part, and offend none of them; and
I shall persist in that resolution. But having receiv’d much abuse from
Titan Leeds deceas’d (Titan Leeds when living would not have used me
so): I say, having receiv’d much abuse from the ghost of Titan Leeds,
who pretends to be still living, and to write Almanacks in spight of
me and my predictions, I can not help saying, that tho’ I take it
patiently, I take it very unkindly. And whatever he may pretend, ’tis
undoubtedly true that he is really defunct and dead. First, because
the stars are seldom disappointed, never but in the case of wise men,
sapiens dominabitur asties, and they foreshadowed his death at the time
I predicted it. Secondly, ’twas requisite and necessary he should die
punctually at that time for the honor of astrology, the art professed
both by him and his father before him. Thirdly, ’tis plain to every
one that reads his two last Almanacks (for 1734 and ’35), that they
are not written with that life his performances used to be written
with; the wit is low and flat; the little hints dull and spiritless;
nothing smart in them but Hudibras’s verses against astrology at the
heads of the months in the last, which no astrologer but a dead one
would have inserted, and no man living would or could write such stuff
as the rest. But lastly, I shall convince him from his own words that
he is dead (ex ore suo condemnatus est); for in his preface to his
Almanack for 1734, he says: ‘Saunders adds another gross falsehood in
his Almanack, viz., that by my own calculation, I shall survive until
the 26th of the said month, October, 1733, which is as untrue as the
former.’ Now if it be as Leeds says, untrue and a gross falsehood,
that he survived till the 26th of October, 1733, then it is certainly
true that he died before that time; and if he died before that time he
is dead now to all intents and purposes, anything he may say to the
contrary notwithstanding. And at what time before the 26th is it so
likely he should die, as at the time by me predicted, viz., the 17th
of October aforesaid? But if some people will walk and be troublesome
after death, it may perhaps be borne with a little, because it cannot
well be avoided, unless one would be at the pains and expense of laying
them in the Red Sea; however, they should not presume too much upon the
liberty allowed them. I know confinement must needs be mighty irksome
to the free spirit of an astronomer, and I am too compassionate to
proceed suddenly to extremities with it; nevertheless, tho’ I resolve
with reluctance, I shall not long defer, if it does not speedily learn
to treat its living friends with better manners.

  “I am,

  “Courteous reader,

  “Your obliged friend and servant,


Here for the nonce the jeu d’esprit ended. In carrying the matter
further Franklin hardly showed the taste of Bickerstaff. The active,
bristling, self-assertive ὕβρις which characterized his early manhood
led him further on to stand over the very grave of Leeds. Before he
made his Almanac for 1740 his competitor had died. But even Leeds dead
he seemed to deem fair play.

  “October 7, 1739.

“COURTEOUS READER: You may remember that in my first Almanack,
published for the year 1733, I predicted the death of my dear friend,
Titan Leeds, Philomat, to happen that year on the 17th day of October,
3 h. 29 m. P.M. The good man, it seems, died accordingly. But W. B. and
A. B.[6] have continued to publish Almanacks in his name ever since;
asserting for some years that he was still living. At length when
the truth could no longer be concealed from the world, they confessed
his death in their Almanack for 1739, but pretended that he died not
till last year, and that before his departure he had furnished them
with calculations for 7 years to come.--Ah, my friends, these are poor
shifts and thin disguises; of which indeed I should have taken little
or no notice, if you had not at the same time accused me as a false
predictor; an aspersion that the more affects me as my whole livelyhood
depends on a contrary character.

“But to put this matter beyond dispute, I shall acquaint the world with
a fact, as strange and surprising as it is true; being as follows, viz.:

“On the 4th instant, toward midnight, as I sat in my little study
writing this Preface, I fell fast asleep; and continued in that
condition for some time, without dreaming any thing, to my knowledge.
On awaking I found lying before me the following, viz.:

“‘DEAR FRIEND SAUNDERS: My respect for you continues even in this
separate state; and I am griev’d to see the aspersions thrown on you by
the malevolence of avaricious publishers of Almanacks, who envy your
success. They say your prediction of my death in 1733 was false, and
they pretend that I remained alive many years after. But I do hereby
certify that I did actually die at that time, precisely at the hour
you mention’d, with a variation only of 5 min. 53 sec, which must be
allow’d to be no great matter in such cases. And I do further declare
that I furnish’d them with no calculations of the planets’ motions,
etc., seven years after my death, as they are pleased to give out: so
that the stuff they publish as an Almanack in my name is no more mine
than ’tis yours.

“‘You will wonder, perhaps, how this paper comes written on your
table. You must know that no separate spirits are under any confinement
till after the final settlement of all accounts. In the meantime we
wander where we please, visit our old friends, observe their actions,
enter sometimes into their imaginations, and give them hints waking
or sleeping that may be of advantage to them. Finding you asleep, I
enter’d your left nostril, ascended into your brain, found out where
the ends of those nerves were fastened that move your right hand and
fingers, by the help of which I am now writing unknown to you; but when
you open your eyes you will see that the hand written is mine, tho’
wrote with yours.

“‘The people of this infidel age, perhaps, will hardly believe this
story. But you may give them these three signs by which they shall
be convinced of the truth of it.--About the middle of June next, J.
J----n,[7] Philomat, shall be openly reconciled to the Church of Rome,
and give all his goods and chattels to the chappel, being perverted by
a certain country schoolmaster. On the 7th of September following my
old Friend W. B----t shall be sober 9 hours, to the astonishment of all
his neighbours:--And about the same time W. B. and A. B. will publish
another Almanack in my name, in spight of truth and common sense.

“‘As I can see much clearer into futurity, since I got free from the
dark prison of flesh, in which I was continually molested and almost
blinded with fogs arising from tiff, and the smoke of burnt drams; I
shall in kindness to you, frequently give you information of things
to come, for the improvement of your Almanack: being, Dear Dick, Your
Affectionate Friend,

  “‘T. LEEDS.’

“For my own part, I am convinced that the above letter is genuine. If
the reader doubts of it, let him carefully observe the three signs; and
if they do not actually come to pass, believe as he pleases. I am his
humble Friend,


In this wise ended Poor Richard’s jest. Franklin’s style throughout
is so simple and direct that one is at first inclined to scout the
suggestion that the joke is not entirely original. It is impossible,
however, to suppose that Franklin, with his broad reading, did not know
Squire Bickerstaff’s. The development of the humor is wholly imitated.
But Franklin made the method his own so thoroughly that his wit has
those keener, subtler, more agile qualities which have distinguished
American from the slower and sedater humor of the English. In the
Bickerstaff jocularity evidences of the death of Partridge are
enumerated in material surroundings of a not too prosperous London
quack. Franklin, on the other hand, ironically and graphically reasons
upon supposititious traits and qualities of character and breeding.

In England, Swift’s squib having given the death-blow to astrology,
“Merlinus Liberatus, by John Partridge,” was published years after, but
shorn of its specious and misleading pretences. Franklin’s jesting was
more self-seeking.

Not one of Franklin’s biographers or editors has referred to the
Bickerstaff joke. Upon the contrary, in an “Introduction to Fac-simile
of Poor Richard’s Almanack for 1733,” published by The Duodecimos in
1894, it is asserted that Franklin “in a strain of delightful satire
upon the already venerable pretensions of almanac-makers to foretell
the future, ... disposes of this difficulty by a method so novel, so
ingenious, and withal of an illuminating power so far-reaching as to
set the whole colony talking about it.”

It need hardly be added that none of Swift’s biographers--all being
English--have hinted at Franklin’s pleasantry.

The inextinguishable laughter--the true Homeric ἄσβεστος γέλως--which
is the atmosphere of both incidents, fits them to rank with the
imaginary durance of Sancho Panza upon his island, or with Tartarin in
Tarascon, or, to go to the first humor of literature, with the advance
and retreat of Thersites in the council of Zeus-nourished kings. And in
Britain and America all our heroes were real.

       *       *       *       *       *

Upon other occasions than the Saunders-Leeds jesting Franklin loved
playful feint; he had “Bagatelles” for his delight. It was a quizzical
side of the character which made him the first of our notable American
humorists. To amuse himself with an oriental apologue which he called
“The Parable of Persecution,” he had the story bound with a Bible. From
this book he would read the legend aloud, amazing his auditors that so
beautiful a scriptural passage had escaped their knowledge.

The form in which Franklin cast the tale is this:

“And it came to pass after these things, that Abraham sat in the door
of his tent, about the going down of the sun.

“And behold a man, bowed with age, came from the way of the wilderness,
leaning on a staff.

“And Abraham arose and met him, and said unto him, ‘Turn in, I pray
thee, and wash thy feet, and tarry all night, and thou shalt arise
early on the morrow, and go thy way,’

“But the man said, ‘Nay, for I will abide under this tree.’

“And Abraham pressed him greatly: so he turned and they went into the
tent, and Abraham baked unleavened bread, and they did eat.

“And when Abraham saw that the man blessed not God, he said unto him,
‘Wherefore dost thou not worship the most high God, Creator of heaven
and earth?’

“And the man answered and said, ‘I do not worship the God thou speakest
of, neither do I call upon his name; for I have made to myself a god,
which abideth alway in mine house, and provideth me with all things.’

“And Abraham’s zeal was kindled against the man, and he arose and fell
upon him, and drove him forth with blows into the wilderness.

“And at midnight God called unto Abraham, saying, ‘Abraham, where is
the stranger?’

“And Abraham answered and said, ‘Lord, he would not worship thee,
neither would he call upon thy name; therefore have I driven him out
from before my face into the wilderness.’

“And God said, ‘Have I borne with him these hundred and ninety and
eight years, and nourished him, and clothed him, notwithstanding his
rebellion against me; and couldst not thou, that art thyself a sinner,
bear with him one night?’

“And Abraham said, ‘Let not the anger of the Lord wax hot against his
servant; lo, I have sinned; lo, I have sinned; forgive me, I pray thee.’

“And Abraham arose, and went forth into the wilderness, and sought
diligently for the man, and found him, and returned with him to the
tent; and when he had treated him kindly, he sent him away on the
morrow with gifts.

“And God spake again unto Abraham, saying, ‘For this thy sin shall thy
seed be afflicted four hundred years in a strange land.

“‘But for thy repentance will I deliver them; and they shall come
forth with power, and with gladness of heart, and with much substance.’”

Franklin’s fine literary sense and feeling would doubtless have
told him that the tale was oriental, even if Jeremy Taylor, whose
“Discourse on the Liberty of Prophesying” it brings to a finish, had
not introduced it with the words, “I end with a story which I find in
the Jews’ book.[8]

“When Abraham sat at his tent-door, according to his custom, waiting
to entertain strangers, he espied an old man stooping and leaning on
his staff, weary with age and travail, coming toward him, who was a
hundred years of age; he received him kindly, washed his feet, provided
supper, caused him to sit down; but, observing that the old man eat
and prayed not, nor begged for a blessing on his meat, he asked him
why he did not worship the God of heaven. The old man told him that
he worshipped the fire only, and acknowledged no other god. At which
answer Abraham grew so zealously angry that he thrust the old man out
of his tent, and exposed him to all the evils of the night and an
unguarded condition. When the old man was gone, God called to Abraham,
and asked him where the stranger was. He replied, ‘I thrust him away
because he did not worship thee.’ God answered him, ‘I have suffered
him these hundred years, although he dishonoured me; and couldst
not thou endure him one night, when he gave thee no trouble?’ Upon
this saith the story, Abraham fetched him back again, and gave him
hospitable entertainment and wise instruction. Go thou and do likewise,
and thy charity will be rewarded by the God of Abraham.”

Franklin’s pleasantries with this parable led Lord Kames to ask it of
him. The fertile Scotchman at once incorporated it in his “Sketches
of the History of Man,” and published it in 1774, accrediting it to
Franklin. “The charge of plagiarism has, on this account,” says Bishop
Heber, in his life of Jeremy Taylor, “been raised against Franklin;
though he cannot be proved to have given it to Lord Kames as his own
composition. With all Franklin’s abilities and amiable qualities,”
continues the clear-eyed bishop, “there was a degree of quackery in
his character which ... has made the imputation of such a theft more
readily received against him than it would have been against most
other men of equal eminence.”

       *       *       *       *       *

In more finely sensitive writers who have treated Franklin there is a
feeling that he “borrowed.” The words of the missionary bishop show the
sentiment was common in England a century and a quarter ago. In our
country the conviction was expressed with more spirit in a colloquy[9]
between a New England man and a Virginian, preserved in John Davis’s
manuscript, “Travels in America during 1798-99, 1800, 1801, 1802.”

“I obtained,” wrote Davis of his visit to Washington, “accommodations
at the Washington Tavern, which stands opposite the Treasury. At this
tavern I took my meals at the public table, where there was every day
to be found a number of clerks, employed at the different offices
under government, together with about half-a-dozen Virginians and a few
New England men. There was a perpetual conflict between these Southern
and Northern men, and one night I was present at a vehement dispute,
which terminated in the loss of a horse, a saddle, and bridle. The
dispute was about Dr. Franklin; the man from New England, enthusiastic
in what related to Franklin, asserted that the Doctor, being
self-taught, was original in everything that he had ever published.

“The Virginian maintained that he was a downright plagiarist.

“_New England Man._--Have you a horse here, my friend?

“_Virginian._--Sir, I hope you do not suppose that I came hither on
foot from Virginia. I have him in Mr. White’s stable, the prettiest
Chickasaw that ever trod upon four pasterns.

“_New England Man._--And I have a bay mare that I bought for ninety
dollars in hard cash. Now I, my friend, will lay my bay mare against
your Chickasaw that Dr. Franklin is not a plagiarist.

“_Virginian._--Done! Go it! Waiter! You, waiter!

“The waiter obeyed the summons, and, at the order of the Virginian,
brought down a portmanteau containing both Franklin’s ‘Miscellanies’
and Taylor’s ‘Discourses.’

“The New England man then read from the former the celebrated parable
against persecution.... And after he had finished he exclaimed that the
‘writer appeared inspired.’

“But the Virginian maintained that it all came to Franklin from Bishop
Taylor’s book, printed more than a century ago. And the New England
man read from Taylor.... When he had done reading, a laugh ensued; and
the Virginian, leaping from his seat, called to Atticus, the waiter,
to put the bay mare in the next stall to the Chickasaw and to give
her half a gallon of oats more, upon the strength of her having a new

“The New England man exhibited strong symptoms of chagrin, but wagered
‘a brand-new saddle’ that this celebrated epitaph of Franklin’s
undergoing a new edition was original. The epitaph was then read:

  ‘The Body
  Benjamin Franklin, Printer
  (Like the cover of an old book,
  Its contents torn out,
  And stript of its lettering and gilding),
  Lies here, food for worms.
  Yet the work itself shall not be lost,
  For it will (as he believ’d) appear once more,
  In a new
  And more beautiful Edition,
  Corrected and Amended
  The Author.’

“The Virginian then said that Franklin robbed a little boy of it.
‘The very words, sir, are taken from a Latin epitaph written on a
bookseller, by an Eton scholar.

        ‘Vitæ _volumine_ peracto
     Perpoliti Sociorum Principis:
    Qui velut Obstretrix Musarum
            _In Lucem Edidit_
        Felices Ingenii Partus.
      Lugete Scriptorum Chorus,
        Et Frangite Calamos!
    Ille vester _Margine Erasus deletur_,
      Sed hæc postrema Inscriptio
        Huic _Primæ_ Mortis _Paginæ_
      Ne _Prælo Sepulchri_ commissus
        Ipse _Editor careat Titulo_:
            Hic Jacet _Bibliopola_
              _Folio_ vitæ delapso
      Expectans _novam Editionem_
      Auctoriem et Emendatiorem.’

“And then, says Mr. Davis, the bet was awarded the Virginian. He
referred to the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ for February, 1736, where the
Latin inscription accredited to the Eton scholar, with a translation by
a Mr. P----, was to be found.

“After this second decision the Virginian declared that he would
lay his boots against the New Englander’s that Franklin’s pretended
discovery of calming troubled waters by pouring upon them oil might
be found in the third book of Bede’s ‘History of the Church;’ or that
his facetious essay on the air-bath is produced, word for word, from
Aubrey’s ‘Miscellanies.’ But the New Englander, who had lost horse,
saddle, and bridle, declined to run the risk on Dr. Franklin of going
home without his boots.”

       *       *       *       *       *

There are other instances of the philosopher’s palpable taking.
To one, Franklin’s editor, Mr. Bigelow, adverts when he notes in
Franklin’s letter of November 5, 1789, to Alexander Smith: “I find
by your letter that every man has patience enough to hear calmly and
coolly the injuries done to other people.” The marvellous precision
and terseness of Swift--that keen, incisive melancholy wit of his from
which great writers have taken ideas and phrases as gold-seekers have
picked nuggets from California earth--Swift had more finely said what
Franklin stumbled after when he wrote that he “never knew a man who
could not bear the misfortunes of another like a Christian.”

Franklin had originality. His many devices are evidence. But careful
study of that which brought him much public attention--bagatelles
by which he attached himself to popular affection--show all-round
appropriation. He loved to stand in public light--to hear applause of
himself. He loved to quiz his listeners, to bamboozle his readers.
If his buying and applauding public believed Poor Richard’s proverbs
sprang from his active mind instead of having been industriously
gathered from old English and other folk proverbs and dyed with his
practical humor--“the wisdom of many ages and nations,” as Franklin
afterwards put it--that was their blunder by which he would gain
gold as well as glory. Even “Richard Saunders” was not original with
Franklin. It was the pen-name of a compiler of English almanacs. The
young printer busily working his press doubtless chuckled at his
deceptions--in spite of his filched maxim about honesty being the best

And it went with him all through life. His love of public applause,
his desire to accumulate and his gleaming, quizzical humor led him on.
His wonderful ease at adopting others’ products and making them his
own one may admire if he turn his eyes from the moral significance,
the downright turpitude of not acknowledging the source. Franklin’s
practice would certainly not stand the test of universal application
which his great contemporary, Kant, demanded of all acts.

There has been of late endeavor to rehabilitate Franklin’s industrious
common sense and praise its circumstance. So late as last year our
American ambassador to St. James addressed students of the Workingmen’s
College in London upon the energy, self-help, and sense of reality of
this early American, and found the leading features of his character to
be honesty (!) and respect for facts.

It is, after all, a certain grace inherent in Franklin, a human
feeling, a genial simplicity and candor, a directness of utterance and
natural unfolding of his matter which are his perennial value in a
literary way, and which warrant the estimate of an English critic who
calls him the most readable writer yet known on the western side of the



[1] I include “women” because Lucy Stone once told me she draughted
some of the Kansas laws for married women while sitting in the nursery
with her baby on her knee. Other women worked with her, she said. Their
labor was in the fifties of the nineteenth century--at the height of
the movement to ameliorate the legal condition of married women.

[2] Other societies also have vitality. The sortie of a handful of
students one November night following election, a dinner each year
celebrates. Grangers supposedly inimical to the interests of the
University had won at the polls. The moon shone through a white, frosty
air; the earth was hard and resonant. What the skulkers accomplished
and the merry and hortative sequent to their furtive feast were told at
the time by the beloved professor of Latin, the “professoris alicujus.”


    Jam noctis media hora. In cœlo nubila spissa
    Stellas abstulerant. Umbrarum tempus erat quo
    Horrenda ignavis monstra apparent. Pueri tum
    Parvi matribus intus adhærent. Non gratiorem
    Noctem fur unquam invenit. Sed qui veniunt post
    Hanc ædem veterem? Celebrantne aliqua horrida sacra
    Mercurio furum patrono? Discipuline?
    Non possunt! Tuti in lectis omnes requiescunt!
    Estne sodalicium studiosorum relevans se
    Magnis a curis? Sed cur huc conveniunt tam
    Furtivi? In manibus quidnam est vel sub tegumentis?
    O pudor! Et pullos et turkey non bene raptos!
    Vina etiam subrepta professoris alicujus
    (Horresco referens) e cella! Dedecus! Est nil
    Tutum a furibus? En pullos nunc faucibus illis
    Sorbent! Nunc sunt in terra, tum in ictu oculi non
    Apparebunt omne in æternum! Miseros pullos,
    Infelices O pueros! Illi male capti
    A pueris, sed hi capientur mox male (O! O!!)
    A Plutone atro!
    Forsan lapsis quinque diebus, cum sapiens vir
    Omnes hos juvenes ad cenam magnificenter
    Invitavit. Tempore sane adsunt. Bene laeti
    Judex accipiunt et filia pulchra sodales
    Hos furtivos. Ad mensam veniunt. Juvenes cur
    Tam agitantur? Quid portentum conspiciunt nunc?
    Protrudunt oculi quasi ranarum! Nihil est in
    Mensa præter turkeys! Unus quoque catino!
    Solum hoc, præterea nil!

[3] The translation is that of C. D. Yonge.

[4] The ancient classic and early English writers afforded many
instances of their people’s culinaria, and only when their content
became familiar did I find that the Rev. Richard Warner had, in the
last part of the eighteenth century, gone over the ground and chosen
like examples--perhaps because they were the best. This quotation, and
another one or two following, are solely found in our libraries in
his admirable book here cited. Master Warner, writing nearer the old
sources, had the advantage of original manuscripts and collections.


    “Tusser, they tell me, when thou wert alive,
     Thou, teaching thrift, thyselfe could’st never thrive.”

[6] The printers, William and Andrew Bradford.

[7] John Jerman.

[8] “The Jews’ book” is, according to various researches, believed to
be “The Rod of Judah,” a rabbinical work presented to the Senate of
Hamburg in the seventeenth century, and carrying the legend in its
Latin dedication. But the tale really dates back to the “Bostan,” or
“Tree Garden,” of the Persian poet Saadi, who says, in another work,
that he was a prisoner to the Crusaders, and labored in company with
fellow-captives who were Jews in the trenches before Tripoli.

[9] Used through the courtesy of the editor of “The William and Mary
College Quarterly.”

[10] This Jacob Tonson will be recalled as the chief bookseller
(publisher) in London for some years prior to his death, 2 April, 1736.

[Transcriber’s Note:

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]

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