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Title: When I was your age
Author: Richards, Laura Elizabeth Howe
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "When I was your age" ***

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                          WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE

                     [Illustration: GREEN PEACE.]

                          WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE


                           LAURA E. RICHARDS

                       “QUEEN HILDEGARDE,” ETC.



                           ESTES AND LAURIAT


                          _Copyright, 1893_,
                         BY ESTES AND LAURIAT.

                           University Press:

                                TO THE

                 Dear and Honored Memory of my Father,

                       DR. SAMUEL GRIDLEY HOWE.

    _Thy voice comes down the rolling years_
      _Like ring of steel on steel;_
    _With it I hear the tramp of steeds,_
      _And the trumpet’s silver peal._

    _I see thee ride thy fearless way,_
      _With steadfast look intent,_
    _God’s servant, still by night and day,_
      _On his high errand bent._

    _Thy lance lay ever in the rest_
      _’Gainst tyranny and wrong._
    _Thy steed was swift, thine aim was sure,_
      _Thy sword was keen and strong._

    _But were the fainting to be raised,_
      _The sorrowing comforted,--_
    _The warrior vanished, and men saw_
      _An angel stoop instead._

    _O soldier Father! dear I hold_
      _Thine honored name to-day;_
    _Thy high soul draws mine eyes above,_
      _And beacons me the way._

    _And when my heart beats quick to learn_
      _Some deed of high emprise,_
    _I almost see the answering flash_
      _That lightens from thine eyes._

    _I greet thee fair! I bless thee dear!_
      _And here, in token meet,_
    _I pluck these buds from memory’s wreath,_
      _And lay them at thy feet._



I. OURSELVES                                                          13

II. MORE ABOUT OURSELVES                                              27

III. GREEN PEACE                                                      42

IV. THE VALLEY                                                        62

V. OUR FATHER                                                         77

VI. JULIA WARD                                                       107

VII. OUR MOTHER                                                      129

VIII. OUR TEACHERS                                                   163

IX. OUR FRIENDS                                                      180

X. OUR GUESTS                                                        194



GREEN PEACE                                                _Frontispiece_

MAUD                                                                  43

LAURA WAS FOUND IN THE SUGAR-BARREL                                   53

DR. SAMUEL GRIDLEY HOWE                                               79

THE DOCTOR TO THE RESCUE!                                             97

JULIA WARD AND HER BROTHERS, AS CHILDREN                             109

      (From a miniature by Miss Anne Hall.)

LIEUT.-COLONEL SAMUEL WARD                                           117

      (Born Nov. 17, 1756; Died Aug. 16, 1832.)

JULIA WARD                                                           125

JULIA WARD HOWE                                                      131

JULIA ROMANA HOWE                                                    149

JULIA WARD HOWE                                                      157

      (From a recent photograph.)

LAURA E. RICHARDS                                                    177




There were five of us. There had been six, but the Beautiful Boy was
taken home to heaven while he was still very little; and it was good for
the rest of us to know that there was always one to wait for and welcome
us in the Place of Light to which we should go some day. So, as I said,
there were five of us here,--Julia Romana, Florence, Harry, Laura, and
Maud. Julia was the eldest. She took her second name from the ancient
city in which she was born, and she was as beautiful as a soft Italian
evening,--with dark hair, clear gray eyes, perfect features, and a
complexion of such pure and wonderful red and white as I have never
seen in any other face. She had a look as if when she came away from
heaven she had been allowed to remember it, while others must forget;
and she walked in a dream always, of beauty and poetry, thinking of
strange things. Very shy she was, very sensitive. When Flossy (this was
Florence’s home name) called her “a great red-haired giant,” she wept
bitterly, and reproached her sister for hurting her feelings. Julia knew
everything, according to the belief of the younger children. What story
was there she could not tell? She it was who led the famous
before-breakfast walks, when we used to start off at six o’clock and
walk to the Yellow Chases’ (we never knew any other name for them; it
was the house that was yellow, not the people) at the top of the long
hill, or sometimes even to the windmill beyond it, where we could see
the miller at work, all white and dusty, and watch the white sails
moving slowly round. And on the way Julia told us stories, from Scott or
Shakspere; or gave us the plot of some opera, “Ernani” or “Trovatore,”
with snatches of song here and there. “Ai nostri monti ritornaremo,”
whenever I hear this familiar air ground out by a hand-organ, everything
fades from my eyes save a long white road fringed with buttercups and
wild marigolds, and five little figures, with rosy hungry faces,
trudging along, and listening to the story of the gypsy queen and her
stolen troubadour.

Julia wrote stories herself, too,--very wonderful stories, we all
thought, and, indeed, I think so still. She began when she was a little
girl, not more than six or seven years old. There lies beside me now on
the table a small book, about five inches square, bound in faded pink
and green, and filled from cover to cover with writing in a cramped,
childish hand. It is a book of novels and plays, written by our Julia
before she was ten years old; and I often think that the beautiful and
helpful things she wrote in her later years were hardly more remarkable
than these queer little romances. They are very sentimental; no child of
eight, save perhaps Marjorie Fleming, was ever so sentimental as
Julia,--“Leonora Mayre; A Tale,” “The Lost Suitor,” “The Offers.” I must
quote a scene from the last-named play.

     SCENE I.

Parlor at MRS. EVANS’S. FLORENCE EVANS _alone_.

_Enter_ ANNIE.

     A. Well, Florence, Bruin is going to make an offer, I suppose.

     F. Why so?

     A. Here’s a pound of candy from him. He said he had bought it for
     you, but on arriving he was afraid it was too trifling a gift; but
     hoping you would not throw it away, he requested me to give it to
     that virtuous young lady, as he calls you.

     F. Well, I am young, but I did not know that I was virtuous.

     A. I think you are.

     SCENE II.

Parlor. MR. BRUIN _alone_.

     MR. B. Why doesn’t she come? She doesn’t usually keep me waiting.


     F. How do you do? I am sorry to have kept you waiting.

     MR. B. I have not been here more than a few minutes. Your parlor is
     so warm this cold day that I could wait.


     F. You sent me some candy the other day which I liked very much.

     MR. B. Well, you liked the candy; so I pleased you. Now you can
     please me. I don’t care about presents; I had rather have something
     that can love me. You.

     F. I do not love you.

[_Exit_ MR. BRUIN.


FLORENCE _alone_. _Enter_ MR. CAS.

     F. How do you do?

     MR. C. Very well.

     F. It is a very pleasant day.

     MR. C. Yes. It would be still pleasanter if you will be my bride. I
     want a respectful refusal, but prefer a cordial acception.

     F. You can have the former.

[_Exit_ MR. CAS.

     SCENE IV.


     MR. E. I love you, Florence. You may not love me, for I am inferior
     to you; but tell me whether you do or not. If my hopes are true,
     let me know it, and I shall not be doubtful any longer. If they are
     not, tell me, and I shall not expect any more.

     F. They are.

[_Exit_ MR. EMERSON.

The fifth scene of this remarkable drama is laid in the church, and is
very thrilling. The stage directions are brief, but it is evident from
the text that as Mr. Emerson and his taciturn bride advance to the
altar, Messrs. Cas and Bruin, “to gain some private ends,” do the same.
The Bishop is introduced without previous announcement.

     SCENE V.

     BISHOP. Are you ready?

     MR. B. Yes.

     BISHOP. Mr. Emerson, are you ready?

     MR. C. Yes.

     BISHOP. Mr. Emerson, I am waiting.

     BRUIN _and_ CAS [_together_]. So am I.

     MR. E. I am ready. But what have these men to do with our marriage?

     MR. B. Florence, I charge you with a breach of promise. You said
     you would be my bride.

     F. I did not.

     MR. C. You promised me.

     F. When?

     MR. C. A month ago. You said you would marry me.

     MR. B. A fortnight ago you promised me. You said we would be
     married to-day.

     MR. C. Bishop, what does this mean? Florence Evans promised to
     marry me, and this very day was fixed upon. And see how false she
     has been! She has, as you see, promised both of us, and now is
     going to wed this man.

     BISHOP. But Mr. Emerson and Miss Evans made the arrangements with
     me; how is it that neither of you said anything of it beforehand?

     MR. C. I forgot.

     MR. B. So did I.

[F. _weeps._

_Enter_ ANNIE.

     A. I thought I should be too late to be your bridesmaid, but I find
     I am in time. But I thought you were to be married at half-past
     four, and it is five by the church clock.

     MR. E. We should have been married by this time, but these men say
     that Florence has promised to marry them. Is it true, Florence?

     F. No. [BESSY, _her younger sister, supports her._

     A. It isn’t true, for you know, Edward Bruin, that you and I are
     engaged; and Mr. Cas and Bessy have been for some time. And both
     engagements have been out for more than a week.

[BESSY _looks reproachfully at_ CAS.

     B. Why, Joseph Cas!

     BISHOP. Come, Mr. Emerson! I see that Mr. Cas and Mr. Bruin have
     been trying to worry your bride. But their story can’t be true, for
     these other young ladies say that they are engaged to them.

     F. They each of them made me an offer, which I refused.

[_The_ BISHOP _marries them_.

     F. [_After they are married._] I shall never again be troubled with
     such offers [_looks at_ CAS _and_ BRUIN] as _yours_!

I meant to give one scene, and I have given the whole play, not knowing
where to stop. There was nothing funny about it to Julia. The heroine,
with her wonderful command of silence, was her ideal of maiden reserve
and dignity; the deep-dyed villany of Bruin and Cas, the retiring
manners of the fortunate Emerson, the singular sprightliness of the
Bishop, were all perfectly natural, as her vivid mind saw them.

So she was bitterly grieved one day when a dear friend of the family, to
whom our mother had read the play, rushed up to her, and seizing her
hand, cried,--

“‘Julia, will you have me?’ ‘No!’ Exit Mr. Bruin.”

Deeply grieved the little maiden was; and it cannot have been very long
after that time that she gave the little book to her dearest aunt, who
has kept it carefully through all these years.

If Julia was like Milton’s “Penseroso,” Flossy was the “Allegro” in
person, or like Wordsworth’s maiden,--

    “A dancing shape, an image gay,
     To haunt, to startle, and waylay”

She was very small as a child. One day a lady, not knowing that the
little girl was within hearing, said to her mother, “What a pity Flossy
is so small!”

“I’m big inside!” cried a little angry voice at her elbow; and there was
Flossy, swelling with rage, like an offended bantam. And she _was_ big
inside! her lively, active spirit seemed to break through the little
body and carry it along in spite of itself. Sometimes it was an impish
spirit; always it was an enterprising one.

She it was who invented the dances which seemed to us such wonderful
performances. We danced every evening in the great parlor, our mother
playing for us on the piano. There was the “Macbeth” dance, in which
Flossy figured as Lady Macbeth. With a dagger in her hand, she crept and
rushed and pounced and swooped about in a most terrifying manner, always
graceful as a fairy. A sofa-pillow played the part of Duncan, and had a
very hard time of it. The “Julius Cæsar” dance was no less tragic; we
all took part in it, and stabbed right and left with sticks of
kindling-wood. One got the curling-stick and was happy, for it was the
next thing to the dagger, which no one but Flossy could have. Then there
was the dance of the “Four Seasons,” which had four figures. In spring
we sowed, in summer we reaped; in autumn we hunted the deer, and in
winter there was much jingling of bells. The hunting figure was most
exciting. It was performed with knives (kindling-wood), as Flossy
thought them more romantic than guns; they were held close to the side,
with point projecting, and in this way we moved with a quick _chassé_
step, which, coupled with a savage frown, was supposed to be peculiarly

Flossy invented many other amusements, too. There was the school-loan
system. We had school in the little parlor at that time, and our desks
had lids that lifted up. In her desk Flossy kept a number of precious
things, which she lent to the younger children for so many pins an hour.
The most valuable thing was a set of three colored worsted balls, red,
green, and blue. You could set them twirling, and they would keep going
for ever so long. It was a delightful sport; but they were very
expensive, costing, I think, twenty pins an hour. It took a long time to
collect twenty pins, for of course it was not fair to take them out of
the pin-cushions.

Then there was a glass eye-cup without a foot; that cost ten pins, and
was a great favorite with us. You stuck it in your eye, and tried to
hold it there while you winked with the other. Of course all this was
done behind the raised desk-lid, and I have sometimes wondered what the
teacher was doing that she did not find us out sooner. She was not very
observant, and I am quite sure she was afraid of Flossy. One sad day,
however, she caught Laura with the precious glass in her eye, and it was
taken away forever. It was a bitter thing to the child (I know all about
it, for I was Laura) to be told that she could never have it again, even
after school. She had paid her ten pins, and she could not see what
right the teacher had to take the glass away. But after that the
school-loan system was forbidden, and I have never known what became of
the three worsted balls.

Flossy also told stories; or rather she told one story which had no end,
and of which we never tired. Under the sea, she told us, lived a fairy
named Patty, who was a most intimate friend of hers, and whom she
visited every night. This fairy dwelt in a palace hollowed out of a
single immense pearl. The rooms in it were countless, and were
furnished in a singular and delightful manner. In one room the chairs
and sofas were of chocolate; in another, of fresh strawberries; in
another, of peaches,--and so on. The floors were paved with squares of
chocolate and cream candy; the windows were of transparent barley-sugar,
and when you broke off the arm of a chair and ate it, or took a square
or two out of the pavement, they were immediately replaced, so that
there was no trouble for anyone. Patty had a ball every evening, and
Flossy never failed to go. Sometimes, when we were good, she would take
us; but the singular thing about it was that we never remembered what
had happened. In the morning our infant minds were a cheerful blank,
till Flossy told us what a glorious time we had had at Patty’s the night
before, how we had danced with Willie Winkie, and how much ice-cream we
had eaten. We listened to the recital with unalloyed delight, and
believed every word of it, till a sad day of awakening came. We were
always made to understand that we could not bring away anything from
Patty’s, and were content with this arrangement; but on this occasion
there was to be a ball of peculiar magnificence, and Flossy, in a fit of
generosity, told Harry that he was to receive a pair of diamond
trousers, which he would be allowed to bring home. Harry was a child
with a taste for magnificence; and he went to bed full of joy, seeing
already in anticipation the glittering of the jewelled garment, and the
effects produced by it on the small boys of his acquaintance. Bitter was
the disappointment when, on awakening in the morning, the chair by his
bedside bore only the familiar brown knickerbockers, with a patch of a
lighter shade on one knee. Harry wept, and would not be comforted; and
after that, though we still liked to hear the Patty stories, we felt
that the magic of them was gone,--that they were only stories, like
“Blue-beard” or “Jack and the Beanstalk.”



Julia and Flossy did not content themselves with writing plays and
telling stories. They aspired to making a language,--a real language,
which should be all their own, and should have grammars and dictionaries
like any other famous tongue. It was called Patagonian,--whether with
any idea of future missionary work among the people of that remote
country, or merely because it sounded well, I cannot say. It was a
singular language. I wish more of it had survived; but I can give only a
few of its more familiar phrases.




BIS VON SNOUT?--Are you well?

BRUNK TU TOUCHY SNOUT--I am very well.

CHING CHU STICK STUMPS?--Will you have some doughnuts?

These fragments will, I am sure, make my readers regret deeply the loss
of this language, which has the merit of entire originality.

As to Flossy’s talent for making paper-dolls, it is a thing not to be
described. There were no such paper-dolls as those. Their figures might
not be exactly like the human figure, but how infinitely more graceful!
Their waists were so small that they sometimes broke in two when called
upon to courtesy to a partner or a queen: that was the height of
delicacy! They had ringlets invariably, and very large eyes with amazing
lashes; they smiled with unchanging sweetness, filling our hearts with
delight. Many and wonderful were their dresses. The crinoline of the day
was magnified into a sort of vast semi-circular cloud, adorned about the
skirt with strange patterns; one small doll would sometimes wear a whole
sheet of foolscap in an evening dress! That was extravagant, but our
daughters must be in the fashion. There was one yellow dress belonging
to my doll Parthenia (a lovely creature of Jewish aspect, whose waist
was smaller than her legs), which is not even now to be remembered
without emotion. We built houses for the paper-dolls with books from the
parlor table, even borrowing some from the bookcase when we wanted an
extra suite of rooms. I do not say it was good for the books, but it was
very convenient for the dolls. I have reason to think that our mother
did not know of this practice. In the matter of their taking exercise,
however, she aided us materially, giving us sundry empty trinket-boxes
lined with satin, which made the most charming carriages in the world.
The state coach was a silver-gilt portemonnaie lined with red silk. It
had seen better days, and the clasp was broken; but that did not make it
less available as a coach. I wish you could have seen Parthenia in it!

I do not think we cared so much for other dolls, yet there were some
that must be mentioned. Vashti Ann was named for a cook; she belonged
to Julia, and I have an idea that she was of a very haughty and
disagreeable temper, though I cannot remember her personal appearance.
Still more shadowy is my recollection of Eliza Viddipock,--a name to be
spoken with bated breath. What dark crime this wretched doll had
committed to merit her fearful fate, I do not know; it was a thing not
to be spoken of to the younger children, apparently. But I do know that
she was hanged, with all solemnity of judge and hangman. It seems unjust
that I should have forgotten the name of Julia’s good doll, who died,
and had the cover of the sugar-bowl buried with her, as a tribute to her

Sally Bradford and Clara both belonged to Laura. Sally was an
india-rubber doll; Clara, a doll with a china head of the old-fashioned
kind, smooth, shining black hair, brilliant rosy cheeks, and calm (very
calm) blue eyes. I prefer this kind of doll to any other. Clara’s life
was an uneventful one, on the whole, and I remember only one remarkable
thing in it. A little girl in the neighborhood invited Laura to a
dolls’ party on a certain day: she was to bring Clara by special
request. Great was the excitement, for Laura was very small, and had
never yet gone to a party. A seamstress was in the house making the
summer dresses, and our mother said that Clara should have a new frock
for the party. It seemed a very wonderful thing to have a real new white
muslin frock, made by a real seamstress, for one’s beloved doll. Clara
had a beautiful white neck, so the frock was made low and trimmed with
lace. When the afternoon came, Laura brought some tiny yellow roses from
the greenhouse, and the seamstress sewed them on down the front of the
frock and round the neck and hem. It is not probable that any other doll
ever looked so beautiful as Clara when her toilet was complete.

Then Laura put on her own best frock, which was not one half so fine,
and tied on her gray felt bonnet, trimmed with quillings of pink and
green satin ribbon, and started off, the proudest and happiest child in
the whole world. She reached the house (it was very near) and climbed
up the long flight of stone steps, and stood on tiptoe to ring the
bell,--then waited with a beating heart. Would there be many other
dolls? Would any of them be half so lovely as Clara? Would
there--dreadful thought!--would there be big girls there?

The door opened. If any little girls read this they will now be very
sorry for Laura. There was no dolls’ party! Rosy’s mother (the little
girl’s name was Rosy) had heard nothing at all about it; Rosy had gone
to spend the afternoon with Sarah Crocker.

“Sorry, little girl! What a pretty dolly! Good-by, dear!” and then the
door was shut again.

Laura toddled down the long stone steps, and went solemnly home. She did
not cry, because it would not be nice to cry in the street; but she
could not see very clearly. She never went to visit Rosy again, and
never knew whether the dolls’ party had been forgotten, or why it was
given up.

Before leaving the subject of dolls, I must say a word about little
Maud’s first doll. Maud was a child of rare beauty, as beautiful as
Julia, though very different. Her fair hair was of such color and
quality that our mother used to call her Silk-and-silver, a name which
suited her well; her eyes were like stars under their long black lashes.
So brilliant, so vivid was the child’s coloring that she seemed to flash
with silver and rosy light as she moved about. She was so much younger
than the others that in many of their reminiscences she has no share;
yet she has her own stories, too. A friend of our father’s, being much
impressed with this starry beauty of the child, thought it would be
pleasant to give her the prettiest doll that could be found; accordingly
he appeared one day bringing a wonderful creature, with hair almost like
Maud’s own, and great blue eyes that opened and shut, and cheeks whose
steadfast roses did not flash in and out, but bloomed always. I think
the doll was dressed in blue and silver, but am not sure; she was
certainly very magnificent.

Maud was enchanted, of course, and hugged her treasure, and went off
with it. It happened that she had been taken only the day before to see
the blind children at the Institution near by, where our father spent
much of his time. It was the first time she had talked with the little
blind girls, and they made a deep impression on her baby mind, though
she said little at the time. As I said, she went off with her new doll,
and no one saw her for some time. At length she returned, flushed and

“My dolly is blind, now!” she cried; and she displayed the doll, over
whose eyes she had tied a ribbon, in imitation of Laura Bridgman. “She
is blind Polly! ain’t got no eyes ’t all!”

Alas! it was even so. Maud had poked the beautiful blue glass eyes till
they fell in, and only empty sockets were hidden by the green ribbon.
There was a great outcry, of course; but it did not disturb Maud in the
least. She wanted a blind doll, and she had one; and no pet could be
more carefully tended than was poor blind Polly.

More precious than any doll could be, rises in my memory the majestic
form of Pistachio. It was Flossy, ever fertile in invention, who
discovered the true worth of Pistachio, and taught us to regard with awe
and reverence this object of her affection. Pistachio was an oval
mahogany footstool, covered with green cloth of the color of the nut
whose name he bore. I have the impression that he had lost a leg, but am
not positive on this point. He was considered an invalid, and every
morning he was put in the baby-carriage and taken in solemn procession
down to the brook for his morning bath. One child held a parasol over
his sacred head (only he had no head!), two more propelled the carriage,
while the other two went before as outriders. No mirth was allowed on
this occasion, the solemnity of which was deeply impressed on us.
Arrived at the brook, Pistachio was lifted from the carriage by his
chief officer, Flossy herself, and set carefully down on the flat stone
beside the brook. His sacred legs were dipped one by one into the clear
water, and dried with a towel. Happy was the child who was allowed to
perform this function! After the bath, he was walked gently up and
down, and rubbed, to assist the circulation; then he was put back in his
carriage, and the procession started for home again, with the same
gravity and decorum as before. The younger children felt sure there was
some mystery about Pistachio. I cannot feel sure, even now, that he was
nothing more than an ordinary oval cricket; but his secret, whatever it
was, has perished with him.

I perceive that I have said little or nothing thus far about Harry; yet
he was a very important member of the family. The only boy: and such a
boy! He was by nature a Very Imp, such as has been described by Mr.
Stockton in one of his delightful stories. Not two years old was he when
he began to pull the tails of all the little dogs he met,--a habit which
he long maintained. The love of mischief was deeply rooted in him. It
was not safe to put him in the closet for misbehavior; for he cut off
the pockets of the dresses hanging there, and snipped the fringe off his
teacher’s best shawl. Yet he was a sweet and affectionate child, with a
tender heart and sensitive withal. When about four years old, he had the
habit of summoning our father to breakfast; and, not being able to say
the word, would announce, “Brescott is ready!” This excited mirth among
the other children, which he never could endure; accordingly, one
morning he appeared at the door of the dressing-room and said solemnly,
“Papa, your food is prepared!”

It is recorded of this child that he went once to pay a visit to some
dear relatives, and kept them in a fever of anxiety until he was taken
home again. One day it was his little cousin’s rocking-horse, which
disappeared from the nursery, and shortly after was seen airing itself
on the top of the chimney, kicking its heels in the sunshine, and
appearing to enjoy its outing. Another time it was down the chimney that
the stream of mischief took its way; and a dear and venerable visitor
(no other than Dr. Coggeshall, of Astor Library fame), sitting before
the fire in the twilight, was amazed by a sudden shower of boots
tumbling down, one after another, into the ashes, whence he
conscientiously rescued them with the tongs, at peril of receiving some
on his good white head.

Such boots and shoes as escaped this fiery ordeal were tacked by Master
Harry to the floor of the closets in the various rooms; and while he was
in the closet, what could be easier or pleasanter than to cut off the
pockets of the dresses hanging there? Altogether, Egypt was glad when
Harry departed; and I do not think he made many more visits away from
home, till he had outgrown the days of childhood.

At the age of six, Harry determined to marry, and offered his hand and
heart to Mary, the nurse, an excellent woman some thirty years older
than he. He sternly forbade her to sew or do other nursery work, saying
that his wife must not work for her living. About this time, too, he
told our mother that he thought he felt his beard growing.

He was just two years older than Laura, and the tie between them was
very close. Laura’s first question to a stranger was always, “Does you
know my bulla Hally? I hope you does!” and she was truly sorry for any
one who had not that privilege.

The two children slept in tiny rooms adjoining each other. It was both
easy and pleasant to “talk across” while lying in bed, when they were
supposed to be sound asleep. Neither liked to give up the last word of
greeting, and they would sometimes say “Good-night!” “Good-night!” over
and over, backward and forward, for ten minutes together. In general,
Harry was very kind to Laura, playing with her, and protecting her from
any roughness of neighbor children. (They said “bunnit” and “apurn,” and
“I wunt;” and we were fond of correcting them, which they not brooking,
quarrels were apt to ensue.) But truth compels me to tell of one
occasion on which Harry did not show a brotherly spirit. In the garden,
under a great birch-tree, stood a trough for watering the horses. It was
a large and deep trough, and always full of beautiful, clear water. It
was pleasant to lean over the edge, and see the sky and the leaves of
the tree reflected as if in a crystal mirror; to see one’s own rosy,
freckled face, too, and make other faces; to see which could open eyes
or mouth widest.

Now one day, as little Laura, being perhaps four years old, was hanging
over the edge of the trough, forgetful of all save the delight of
gazing, it chanced that Harry came up behind her; and the spirit of
mischief that was always in him triumphed over brotherly affection, and

    “Ups with her heels,
     And smothers her squeals”

in the clear, cold water.

Laura came up gasping and puffing, her hair streaming all over her round
face, her eyes staring with wonder and fright!

By the time help arrived, as it fortunately did, in the person of Thomas
the gardener, poor Laura was in a deplorable condition, half choked with
water, and frightened nearly out of her wits.

Thomas carried the dripping child to the house and put her into Mary’s
kind arms, and then reported to our mother what Harry had done.

We were almost never whipped; but for this misdeed Harry was put to bed
at once, and our mother, sitting beside him, gave him what we used to
call a “talking to,” which he did not soon forget.

Nurse Mary probably thought it would gratify Laura to know that naughty
Harry was being punished for his misdoings; but she had mistaken her
child. When the mother came back to the nursery from Harry’s room, she
found Laura (in dry raiment, but with cheeks still crimson and shining)
sitting in the middle of the floor, with clenched fists and flashing
eyes, and roaring at the top of her lungs, “I’ll tumble my mudder down
wid a ’tick!”



Not many children can boast of having two homes; some, alas! have hardly
one. But we actually had two abiding-places, both of which were so dear
to us that we loved them equally. First, there was Green Peace. When our
mother first came to the place, and saw the fair garden, and the house
with its lawn and its shadowing trees, she gave it this name, half in
sport; and the title clung to it always.

The house itself was pleasant. The original building, nearly two hundred
years old, was low and squat, with low-studded rooms, and great posts in
the corners, and small many-paned windows. As I recall it now, it
consisted largely of cupboards,--the queerest cupboards that ever were;
some square and some three-cornered, and others of no shape

[Illustration: MAUD.]

at all. They were squeezed into staircase walls, they lurked beside
chimneys, they were down near the floor, they were close beneath the
ceiling. It was as if a child had built the house for the express
purpose of playing hide-and-seek in it. Ah, how we children did play
hide-and-seek there! To lie curled up in the darkest corner of the
“twisty” cupboard, that went burrowing in under the front stairs,--to
lie curled up there, eating an apple, and hear the chase go clattering
and thumping by, that was a sensation!

Then the stairs! There was not very much of them, for a tall man
standing on the ground floor could touch the top step with his hand. But
they had a great deal of variety; no two steps went the same way: they
seemed to have fallen out with one another, and never to have “made up”
again. When you had once learned how to go up and down, it was very
well, except in the dark; and even then you had only to remember that
you must tread on the farther side of the first two steps, and on the
hither side of the next three, and in the middle of four after, and
then you were near the top or the bottom, as the case might be, and
could scramble or jump for it. But it was not well for strangers to go
up and down those stairs.

There was another flight that was even more perilous, but our father had
it boarded over, as he thought it unsafe for any one to use. One always
had a shiver in passing through a certain dark passage, when one felt
boards instead of plaster under one’s hand, and knew that behind those
boards lurked the hidden staircase. There was something uncanny about

    “O’er all there hung the shadow of a fear;
     A sense of mystery the spirit daunted.”

Perhaps the legend of the hidden staircase was all the more awful
because it was never told.

Just to the right of the school-room, a door opened into the new part of
the house which our father had built. The first room was the great
dining-room; and very great it was. On the floor was a wonderful carpet,
all in one piece, which was made in France, and had belonged to Joseph
Bonaparte, a brother of the great Emperor. In the middle was a medallion
of Napoleon and Marie Louise, with sun-rays about them; then came a
great circle, with strange beasts on it ramping and roaring (only they
roared silently); and then a plain space, and in the corners birds and
fishes such as never were seen in air or sea. Yes, that _was_ a carpet!
It was here we danced the wonderful dances. We hopped round and round
the circle, and we stamped on the beasts and the fishes; but it was not
good manners to step on the Emperor and Empress,--one must go round
them. Here our mother sang to us; but the singing belongs to another

The great dining-room had a roof all to itself,--a flat roof, covered
with tar and gravel, and railed in; so that one could lie on one’s face
and kick one’s heels, pick out white pebbles, and punch the bubbles of
tar all hot in the sun.

But, after all, we did not stay in the house much. Why should we, with
the garden calling us out with its thousand voices? On each side of the
house lay an oval lawn, green as emerald. One lawn had the
laburnum-tree, where at the right time of year we sat under a shower of
fragrant gold; the other had the three hawthorn-trees, one with white
blossoms, another with pink, and a third with deep red, rose-like
flowers. Other trees were there, but I do not remember them. Directly in
front of the house stood two giant Balm-of-Gilead trees, towering over
the low-roofed dwelling. These trees were favorites of ours, for at a
certain time they dropped down to us thousands and thousands of sticky
catkins, full of the most charming, silky cotton. We called them the
“cottonwool-trees,” and loved them tenderly. Then, between the trees, a
flight of steps plunged down to the green-house. A curious place this
was,--summer-house, hot-house, and bowling-alley, all in one. The
summer-house part was not very interesting, being all filled with seeds
and pots and dry bulbs, and the like. But from it a swing-door opened
into Elysium! Here the air was soft and balmy, and full of the smell of
roses. One went down two steps, and there were the roses themselves!
Great vines trained along the walls, heavy with long white or yellow or
tea-colored buds,--I remember no red ones. Mr. Arrow, the gardener,
never let us touch the roses, and he never gave us a bud; but when a
rose was fully open, showing its golden heart, he would often pick it
for us, with a sigh, but a kind look too. Mr. Arrow was an Englishman,
stout and red-faced. Julia made a rhyme about him once, beginning,--

    “Poor Mr. Arrow, he once was narrow,
     But that was a long time ago.”

Midway in the long glass-covered building was a tiny oval pond, lined
with green moss. I think it once had goldfish in it, but they did not
thrive. When Mr. Arrow was gone to dinner, it was pleasant to fill the
brass syringe with water from this pond, and squirt at the roses, and
feel the heavy drops plashing back in one’s upturned face. Sometimes a
child fell into the pond; but as the water was only four or five inches
deep, no harm was done, save to stockings and petticoats.

The bowling-alley was divided by a low partition from the hot-house, so
that when we went to play at planets we breathed the same soft, perfumed
air. The planets were the balls. The biggest one was Uranus; then came
Saturn, and so on down to Mercury, a little dot of a ball. They were of
some dark, hard, foreign wood, very smooth, with a dusky polish. It was
a great delight to roll them, either over the smooth floor, against the
ninepins, or along the rack at the side. When one rolled Uranus or
Jupiter, it sounded like thunder,--Olympian thunder, suggestive of angry
gods. Then the musical tinkle of the pins, as they clinked and fell
together! Sometimes they were British soldiers, and we the Continentals,
firing the “iron six-pounder” from the other end of the battle-field.
Sometimes, regardless of dates, we introduced artillery into the Trojan
war, and Hector bowled Achilles off his legs, or _vice versa_.

The bowling-alley was also used for other sports. It was here that
Flossy gave a grand party for Cotchy, her precious Maltese cat. All the
cat-owning little girls in the neighborhood were invited, and about
twelve came, each bringing her pet in a basket. Cotchy was beautifully
dressed in a cherry-colored ribbon, which set off her gray, satiny coat
to perfection. She received her guests with much dignity, but was not
inclined to do much toward entertaining them. Flossy tried to make the
twelve cats play with one another, but they were shy on first
acquaintance, and a little stiff. Perhaps Flossy did not in those days
know the proper etiquette for introducing cats, though since then she
has studied all kinds of etiquette thoroughly. But the little girls
enjoyed themselves, if the cats did not, and there was a great deal of
chattering and comparing notes. Then came the feast, which consisted of
milk and fish-bones; and next every cat had her nose buttered by way of
dessert. Altogether, the party was voted a great success.

Below, and on both sides of the green-house, the fertile ground was set
thick with fruit-trees, our father’s special pride. The pears and
peaches of Green Peace were known far and wide; I have never seen such
peaches since, nor is it only the halo of childish recollection that
shines around them, for others bear the same testimony. Crimson-glowing,
golden-hearted, smooth and perfect as a baby’s cheek, each one was a
thing of wonder and beauty; and when you ate one, you ate summer and
sunshine. Our father gave us a great deal of fruit, but we were never
allowed to take it ourselves without permission; indeed, I doubt if it
ever occurred to us to do so. One of us still remembers the thrill of
horror she felt when a little girl who had come to spend the afternoon
picked up a fallen peach and ate it, without asking leave. It seemed a
dreadful thing not to know that the garden was a field of honor. As to
the proverbial sweetness of stolen fruit, we knew nothing about it. The
fruit was sweet enough from our dear father’s hand, and, as I said, he
gave us plenty of it.

How was it, I wonder, that this sense of honor seemed sometimes to stay
in the garden and not always to come into the house?


For as I write, the thought comes to me of a day when Laura was found
with her feet sticking out of the sugar-barrel, into which she had
fallen head foremost while trying to get a lump of sugar. She has never
eaten a lump of sugar, save in her tea, since that day. Also, it is
recorded of Flossy and Julia, that, being one day at the Institution,
they found the store-room open, and went in, against the law. There was
a beautiful polished tank, which appeared to be full of rich brown
syrup. Julia and Flossy liked syrup; so each filled a mug, and then they
counted one, two, three, and each took a good draught,--and it was

But in both these cases the culprits were hardly out of babyhood; so
perhaps they had not yet learned about the “broad stone of honor,” on
which it is good to set one’s feet.

I must not leave the garden without speaking of the cherry-trees. These
must have been planted by early settlers, perhaps by the same hand that
planned the crooked stairs and quaint cupboards of the old
house,--enormous trees, gnarled and twisted like ancient apple-trees,
and as sturdy as they. They had been grafted--whether by our father’s or
some earlier hand I know not--with the finest varieties of
“white-hearts” and “black-hearts,” and they bore amazing quantities of
cherries. These attracted flocks of birds, which our father in vain
tried to frighten away with scarecrows. Once he put the cat in a
bird-cage, and hung her up in the white-heart tree; but the birds soon
found that she could not get at them, and poor pussy was so miserable
that she was quickly released.

I perceive that we shall not get to the summer home in this chapter; but
I must say a word about the Institution for the Blind, which was within
a few minutes’ walk of Green Peace.

Many of our happiest hours were spent in this pleasant place, the home
of patient cheerfulness and earnest work. We often went to play with the
blind children when our lessons and theirs were over, and they came
trooping out into the sunny playground. I do not think it occurred to us
to pity these boys and girls deprived of one of the chief sources of
pleasure in life; they were so happy, so merry, that we took their
blindness as a matter of course.

Our father often gave us baskets of fruit to take to them. That was a
great pleasure. We loved to turn the great globe in the hall, and,
shutting our eyes, pass our fingers over the raised surfaces, trying to
find different places. We often “played blind,” and tried to read the
great books with raised print, but never succeeded that I remember. The
printing-office was a wonderful place to linger in; and one could often
get pieces of marbled paper, which was valuable in the paper-doll world.
Then there was the gymnasium, with its hanging rings, and its wonderful
tilt, which went up so high that it took one’s breath away. Just beyond
the gymnasium, were some small rooms, in which were stored worn-out
pianos, disabled after years of service under practising fingers. It was
very good fun to play on a worn-out piano. There were always a good many
notes that really sounded, and they had quite individual sounds, not
like those of common pianos; then there were some notes that buzzed, and
some that growled, and some that made no noise at all; and one could
poke in under the cover, and twang the strings, and play with the
chamois-leather things that went flop (we have since learned that they
are called hammers), and sometimes pull them out, though that seemed

Then there was the matron’s room, where we were always made welcome by
the sweet and gracious woman who still makes sunshine in that place by
her lovely presence. Dear Miss M---- was never out of patience with our
pranks, had always a picture-book or a flower or a curiosity to show us,
and often a story to tell when a spare half-hour came. For her did
Flossy and Julia act their most thrilling tragedies, no other spectators
being admitted. To her did Harry and Laura confide their infant joys and
woes. Other friends will have a chapter to themselves, but it seems most
fitting to speak of this friend here, in telling of the home she has
made bright for over fifty years.

Over the way from the Institution stood the workshop, where blind men
and women, many of them graduates of the Institution, made mattresses
and pillows, mats and brooms. This was another favorite haunt of ours.
There was a stuffy but not unpleasant smell of feathers and hemp about
the place. I should know that smell if I met it in Siberia! There were
coils of rope, sometimes so large that one could squat down and hide in
the middle, piles of hemp, and dark mysterious bins full of curled hair,
white and black. There was a dreadful mystery about the black-hair bin;
the little ones ran past it, with their heads turned away. But they
never told what it was, and one of them never knew.

But the crowning joy of the workshop was the feather-room,--a long room,
with smooth, clean floor; along one side of it were divisions, like the
stalls in a stable, and each division was half filled with feathers. Boy
and girl readers will understand what a joy this must have been,--to sit
down in the feathers, and let them cover you up to the neck, and be a
setting hen! or to lie at full length, and be a traveller lost in the
snow,--Harry making it snow feathers till you were all covered up, and
then turning into the faithful hound and dragging you out! or to play
the game of “Winds,” and blow the feathers about the room! But old
Margaret did not allow this last game, and we could do it only when she
happened to go out for a moment, which was not very often. Old Margaret
was the presiding genius of the feather-room, a half-blind woman, who
kept the feathers in order and helped to sew up the pillows and
mattresses. She was always kind to us, and let us rake feathers with the
great wooden rake as much as we would. Later, when Laura was perhaps ten
years old, she used to go and read to old Margaret. Mrs. Browning’s
poems were making a new world for the child at that time, and she never
felt a moment’s doubt about the old woman’s enjoying them: in after
years doubts did occur to her.

It was probably a quaint picture, if any one had looked in upon it: the
long, low room, with the feather-heaps, white and dusky gray; the
half-blind, withered crone, nodding over her knitting, and the little
earnest child, throwing her whole soul into “The Romaunt of the Page,”
or the “Rhyme of the Duchess May.”

    “Oh! the little birds sang east,
     And the little birds sang west,
          Toll slowly!”

The first sound of the words carries me back through the years to the
feather-room and old blind Margaret.



The time of our summer flitting varied. Sometimes we stayed at Green
Peace till after strawberry-time, and lingered late at the Valley;
sometimes we went early, and came back in time for the peaches. But in
one month or another there came a season of great business and bustle.
Woollen dresses were put away in the great cedar-lined camphor-chests
studded with brass nails; calico dresses were lengthened, and joyfully
assumed; trunks were packed, and boxes and barrels; carpets were taken
up and laid away; and white covers were put over pictures and mirrors.
Finally we departed, generally in more or less confusion.

I remember one occasion when our rear column reached the Old Colony
Station just as the train was starting. The advance-guard, consisting
of our mother and the older children, was already on board; and Harry
and Laura have a vivid recollection of being caught up by our father and
tumbled into the moving baggage-car, he flashing in after us, and all
sitting on trunks, panting, till we were sufficiently revived to pass
through to our seats in the passenger-car. In those days the railway ran
no farther than Fall River. There we must take a carriage and drive
twelve miles to our home in the Island of Rest. Twelve long and weary
miles they were, much dreaded by us all. The trip was made in a large
old-fashioned vehicle, half hack, half stage. The red cushions were hard
and uncomfortable; the horses were aged; their driver, good,
snuff-colored Mr. Anthony, felt keenly his duty to spare them, and
considered the passengers a minor affair. So we five children were
cramped and cooped up, I know not how long. It seemed hours that we must
sit there, while the ancient horses crawled up the sandy hills, or
jogged meditatively along the level spaces. Every joint developed a
separate ache; our legs were cramped,--the short ones from hanging over
the seat, the long ones because the floor of the coach was piled with
baskets and bandboxes. It was hot, hot! The flies buzzed, and would not
let one go to sleep; the dust rolled in thick yellow clouds from under
the wheels, and filled eyes and mouth, and set all a-sneezing.
Decidedly, it was a most tiresome jaunt. But all the more delightful was
the arrival! To drive in under the apple-trees, just as the evening was
falling cool and sweet; to tumble out of the stuffy prison-coach, and
race through the orchard, and out to the barn, and up the hill behind
the house,--ah, that was worth all the miseries of the journey!

From the hill behind the house we could see the sunset; and that was one
thing we did not have at Green Peace, shut in by its great trees. Here,
before our eyes, still aching from the dust of the road, lay the great
bay, all a sheet of silver, with white sails here and there; beyond it
Conanicut, a long island, brown in the noon-light, now softened into
wonderful shades of amethyst and violet; and the great sun going down in
a glory of gold and flame! Nowhere else are such sunsets. Sometimes the
sky was all strewn with fiery flakes and long delicate flame-feathers,
glowing with rosy light; sometimes there were purple cloud-islands,
edged with crimson, and between them and the real island a space of
delicate green, so pure, so cold, that there is nothing to compare with
it save a certain chrysoprase our mother had.

Gazing at these wonders, the children would stand, full of vague
delight, not knowing what they thought, till the tea-bell summoned them
to the house for a merry picnic supper. Then there was clattering
upstairs, washing of hands in the great basin with purple grapes on it
(it belonged in the guest-chamber, and we were not allowed to use it
save on special occasions like this), hasty smoothing of hair and
straightening of collars, and then clatter! clatter! down again.

There was nothing remarkable about the house at the Valley. It was just
a pleasant cottage, with plenty of sunny windows and square,
comfortable rooms. But we were seldom in the house, save at meal-times
or when it rained; and our real home was under the blue sky. First,
there was the orchard. It was an ideal orchard, with the queerest old
apple-trees that ever were seen. They did not bear many apples, but they
were delightful to climb in, with trunks slanting so that one could
easily run up them, and branches that curled round so as to make a
comfortable back to lean against. There are few pleasanter things than
to sit in an apple-tree and read poetry, with birds twittering
undismayed beside you, and green leaves whispering over your head. Laura
was generally doing this when she ought to have been mending her

Then there was the joggling-board, under the two biggest trees. The
delight of a joggling-board is hardly to be explained to children who
have never known it; but I trust many children do know it. The board is
long and smooth and springy, supported at both ends on stands; and one
can play all sorts of things on it. Many a circus has been held on the
board at the Valley! We danced the tight-rope on it; we leaped through
imaginary rings, coming down on the tips of our toes; we hopped its
whole length on one foot; we wriggled along it on our stomachs, on our
backs; we bumped along it on hands and knees. Dear old joggling-board!
it is not probable that any other was ever quite so good as ours.

Near by was the pump, a never-failing wonder to us when we were little.
The well over which it stood was very deep, and it took a long time to
bring the bucket up. It was a chain-pump, and the chain went
rattlety-clank! rattlety-clank! round and round; and the handle creaked
and groaned,--“Ah-_ho_! ah-_ho_!” When you had turned a good while there
came out of the spout a stream of--water? No! of daddy-long-legses! They
lived, apparently, in the spout, and they did not like the water; so
when they heard the bucket coming up, with the water going “lip! lap!”
as it swung to and fro, they came running out, dozens and dozens of
them, probably thinking what unreasonable people we were to disturb
them. When the water did finally come, it was wonderfully cold, and
clear as crystal.

The hill behind the house was perhaps our favorite play-room. It was a
low, rocky hill, covered with “prostrate juniper” bushes, which bore
blue berries very useful in our housekeeping. At the top of the rise the
bare rock cropped out, dark gray, covered with flat, dry lichens. This
was our house. It had several rooms: the drawing-room was really
palatial,--a broad floor of rock, with flights of steps leading up to
it. The state stairway was used for kings and queens, conquerors, and
the like; the smaller was really more convenient, as the steps were more
sharply defined, and you were not so apt to fall down them. Then there
was the dining-room rock, where meals were served,--daisy pudding and
similar delicacies; and the kitchen rock, which had a real oven, and the
most charming cupboards imaginable. Here were stored hollyhock cheeses,
and sorrel leaves, and twigs of black birch, fragrant and spicy, and
many other good things.

On this hill was celebrated, on the first of August, the annual festival
of “Yeller’s Day.” This custom was begun by Flossy, and adhered to for
many years. Immediately after breakfast on the appointed day, all the
children assembled on the top of the hill and yelled. Oh, how we yelled!
It was a point of honor to make as much noise as possible. We roared and
shrieked and howled, till we were too hoarse to make a sound; then we
rested, and played something else, perhaps, till our voices were
restored, and then--yelled again! Yeller’s Day was regarded as one of
the great days of the summer. By afternoon we were generally quite
exhausted, and we were hoarse for several days afterward. I cannot
recommend this practice. In fact, I sincerely hope that no child will
attempt to introduce it; for it is very bad for the voice, and might in
some cases do real injury.

Almost every morning we went down to the bay to bathe. It was a walk of
nearly a mile through the fields,--such a pleasant walk! The fields were
not green, but of a soft russet, the grass being thin and dry, with
great quantities of a little pinkish fuzzy plant whose name we never
knew.[1] They were divided by stone walls, which we were skilful in
climbing. In some places there were bars which must be let down, or
climbed over, or crawled through, as fancy suggested. There were many
blackberries, of the lowbush variety, bearing great clusters of berries,
glossy, beautiful, delicious. We were not allowed to eat them on the way
down, but only when coming home. Some of these fields belonged to the
Cross Farmer, who had once been rude to us. We regarded him as a manner
of devil, and were always looking round to see if his round-shouldered,
blue-shirted figure were in sight. At last the shore was reached, and
soon we were all in the clear water, shrieking with delight, paddling
about, puffing and blowing like a school of young porpoises.

At high-tide the beach was pebbled; at low-tide we went far out, the
ground sloping very gradually, to a delightful place where the bottom
was of fine white sand, sparkling as if mixed with diamond dust.
Starfish crawled about on it, and other creatures,--crabs, too,
sometimes, that would nip an unwary toe if they got a chance. Sometimes
the water was full of jelly-fish, which we did not like, in spite of
their beauty. Beyond the white sand was a bed of eel-grass, very
dreadful, not to be approached. If a person went into it, he was
instantly seized and entangled, and drowned before the eyes of his
companions. This was our firm belief. It was probably partly due to
Andersen’s story of the “Little Sea-Maid,” which had made a deep
impression on us all, with its clutching polyps and other submarine

We all learned to swim more or less, but Flossy was the best swimmer.

Sometimes we went to bathe in the afternoon instead of the morning, if
the tide suited better. I remember one such time when we came
delightfully near having an adventure. It was full moon, and the tide
was very high. We had loitered along the beach after our bath, gathering
mussels to boil for tea, picking up gold-shells or scallop-shells, and
punching seaweed bladders, which pop charmingly if you do them right.

German Mary, the good, stupid nurse who was supposed to be taking care
of us, knew nothing about tides; and when we came back to the little
creek which we must cross on leaving the beach, lo! the creek was a
deep, broad stream, the like of which we had never seen. What was to be
done? Valiant Flossy proposed to swim across and get help, but Mary
shrieked and would not hear of it, and we all protested that it was
impossible. Then we perceived that we must spend the night on the beach;
and when we were once accustomed to the idea, it was not without
attraction for us. The sand was warm and dry, and full of shells and
pleasant things; it was August, and the night would be just cool enough
for comfort after the hot day; we had a pailful of blackberries which we
had picked on the way down, meaning to eat them during our homeward
walk; Julia could tell us stories. Altogether it would be a very
pleasant occasion. And then to think of the romance of it! “The
Deserted Children!” “Alone on a Sandbank!” “The Watchers of the Tide!”
There was no end to the things that could be made out of it. So, though
poor Mary wept and wrung her hands, mindful (which I cannot remember
that we were) of our mother waiting for us at home, we were all very

The sun went down in golden state. Then, turning to the land, we watched
the moon rising, in softer radiance, but no less wonderful and glorious.
Slowly the great orb rose, turning from pale gold to purest silver. The
sea darkened, and presently a little wind came up, and began to sing
with the murmuring waves. We sang, too, some of the old German
student-songs which our mother had taught us, and which were our
favorite ditties. They rang out merrily over the water:--

    _Die Binschgauer wollten wallfahrten geh’n!_
    (The Binschgauer would on a pilgrimage go!)


    _Was kommt dort von der Hoh’?_
    (What comes there over the hill?)

Then Julia told us a story. Perhaps it was the wonderful story of
Red-cap,--a boy who met a giant in the forest, and did something to help
him, I cannot remember what. Whereupon the grateful giant gave Red-cap a
covered silver dish, with a hunter and a hare engraved upon it. When the
boy wanted anything he must put the cover on, and ask the hunter and
hare to give him what he desired; but there must be a rhyme in the
request, else it could not be granted. Red-cap thanked the giant, and as
soon as he was alone put the cover on the dish and said,--

    “Silver hunter, silver hare,
     Give me a ripe and juicy pear!”

Taking off the cover, he found the finest pear that ever was seen,
shining like pure gold, with a crimson patch on one side. It was so
delicious that it made Red-cap hungry; so he covered the dish again and

    “Silver hunter, silver rabbit,
     Give me an apple, and I’ll grab it!”

Off came the cover, and, lo! there was an apple the very smell of which
was too good for any one save the truly virtuous. It was so large that
it filled the dish, and its flavor was not to be described, so wonderful
was it! A third time the happy Red-cap covered his dish, and cried,--

    “Hunter and hare, of silver each,
     Give me a soft and velvet peach!”

And when he saw the peach he cried out for joy, for it was like the
peaches that grew on the crooked tree just by the south door of the
greenhouse at Green Peace; and those were the best trees in the garden,
and therefore the best in the world.

The trouble about this story is that I never can remember any more of
it, and I cannot find the book that contains it. But it must have been
about this time that we were hailed from the opposite side of the creek;
and presently a boat was run out, and came over to the sand beach and
took us off. The people at the Poor Farm, which was on a hill close by,
had seen the group of Crusoes and come to our rescue. They greeted us
with words of pity (which were quite unnecessary), rowed us to the
shore, and then kindly harnessed the farm-horse and drove us home.
German Mary was loud in her thanks and expressions of relief; our mother
also was grateful to the good people; but from us they received scant
and grudging thanks. If they had only minded their own business and let
us alone, we could have spent the night on a sandbank. Now it was not
likely that we ever should! And, indeed, we never did.




There is so much to tell about our father that I hardly know where to
begin. First, you must know something of his appearance. He was tall and
very erect, with the carriage and walk of a soldier. His hair was black,
with silver threads in it; his eyes were of the deepest and brightest
blue I ever saw. They were eyes full of light: to us it was the soft,
beaming light of love and tenderness, but sometimes to others it was the
flash of a sword. He was very handsome; in his youth he had been thought
one of the handsomest men of his day. It was a gallant time, this youth
of our father. When hardly more than a lad, he went out to help the
brave Greeks who were fighting to free their country from the cruel
yoke of the Turks. At an age when most young men were thinking how they
could make money, and how they could best advance themselves in the
world, our father thought only how he could do most good, be of most
help to others. So he went out to Greece, and fought in many a battle
beside the brave mountaineers. Dressed like them in the “snowy chemise
and the shaggy capote,” he shared their toils and their hardships;
slept, rolled in his cloak, under the open stars, or sat over the
camp-fire, roasting wasps strung on a stick like dried cherries. The old
Greek chieftains called him “the beautiful youth,” and loved him. Once
he saved the life of a wounded Greek, at the risk of his own, as you
shall read by and by in Whittier’s beautiful words; and the rescued man
followed him afterward like a dog, not wishing to lose sight of him for
an hour, and would even sleep at his feet at night.

Our father’s letters and journals give vivid pictures of the wild life
among the rugged Greek mountains. Now he describes his

[Illustration: DR. SAMUEL GRIDLEY HOWE.]

lodging in a village, which he has reached late at night, in a pouring

     “Squatted down upon a sort of straw pillow placed on the ground, I
     enjoy all the luxury of a Grecian hut; which in point of elegance,
     ease, and comfort, although not equal to the meanest of our negro
     huts, is nevertheless somewhat superior to the naked rock. We have
     two apartments, but no partitions between them, the different rooms
     being constituted by the inequality of the ground,--we living up
     the hill, while the servants and horses live down in the lower
     part; and the smoke of our fires, rising to the roof and seeking in
     vain for some hole to escape, comes back again to me.”

Again, he gives a pleasant account of his visit to a good old Greek
priest, who lived with his family in a tiny cottage, the best house in
the village. He found the good old man just sitting down to supper with
his wife and children, and was invited most cordially to join them. The
supper consisted of a huge beet, boiled, and served with butter and
black bread. This was enough for the whole family, and the guest too;
and after describing the perfect contentment and cheerfulness which
reigned in the humble dwelling, our father makes some reflections on the
different things which go to make up a pleasant meal, and decides that
the old “Papa” (as a Greek priest is called) had a much better supper
than many rich people he remembered at home, who feasted three times a
day on all that money could furnish in the way of good cheer, and found
neither joy nor comfort in their victuals.

Once our father and his comrades lay hidden for hours in the hollow of
an ancient wall (built thousands of years ago, perhaps in Homer’s day),
while the Turks, scimitar in hand, scoured the fields in search of them.
Many years after, he showed this hollow to Julia and Laura, who went
with him on his fourth journey to Greece, and told them the story.

When our father saw the terrible sufferings of the Greek women and
children, who were starving while their husbands and fathers were
fighting for life and freedom, he thought that he could help best by
helping them; so, though I know he loved the fighting, for he was a
born soldier, he came back to this country, and told all that he had
seen, and asked for money and clothes and food for the perishing wives
and mothers and children. He told the story well, and put his whole
heart into it; and people listen to a story so told. Many hearts beat in
answer to his, and in a short time he sailed for Greece again, with a
good ship full of rice and flour, and cloth to make into garments, and
money to buy whatever else might be needed. When he landed in Greece,
the women came flocking about him by thousands, crying for bread, and
praying God to bless him. He felt blessed enough when he saw the
children eating bread, and saw the naked backs covered, and the sad,
hungry faces smiling again. So he went about doing good, and helping
whenever he saw need. Perhaps many a poor woman may have thought that
the beautiful youth was almost like an angel sent by God to relieve her;
and she may not have been far wrong.

When the war was over, and Greece was a free country, our father came
home, and looked about him again to see what he could do to help
others. He talked with a friend of his, Dr. Fisher, and they decided
that they would give their time to helping the blind, who needed help
greatly. There were no schools for them in those days; and if a child
was blind, it must sit with folded hands and learn nothing.

Our father found several blind children, and took them to his home and
taught them. By and by some kind friends gave money, and one--Colonel
Perkins--gave a fine house to be a school for these children and others;
and that was the beginning of the Perkins Institution for the Blind, now
a great school where many blind boys and girls learn to read and study,
and to play on various instruments, and to help themselves and others in
the world.

Our father always said, “Help people to help themselves; don’t accustom
them to being helped by others.” Another saying of his, perhaps his
favorite one, next to the familiar “Let justice be done, if the heavens
fall!” was this: “Obstacles are things to be overcome.” Indeed, this
was one of the governing principles of his life; and there were few
obstacles that did not go down before that keen lance of his, always in
rest and ready for a charge.

When our father first began his work in philanthropy, some of his
friends used to laugh at him, and call him Don Quixote. Especially was
this the case when he took up the cause of the idiotic and weak-minded,
and vowed that instead of being condemned to live like animals, and be
treated as such, they should have their rights as human beings, and
should be taught all the more carefully and tenderly because their minds
were weak and helpless.

“What do you think Howe is going to do now?” cried one gentleman to
another, merrily. “He is going to teach the idiots, ha, ha, ha!” and
they both laughed heartily, and thought it a very good joke. But people
soon ceased to laugh when they saw the helpless creatures beginning to
help themselves; saw the girls learning to sew and the boys to work; saw
light gradually come into the vacant eyes (dim and uncertain light it
might be, but how much better than blank darkness!), and strength and
purpose to the nerveless fingers.

So the School for Feeble-minded Children was founded, and has been ever
since a pleasant place, full of hope and cheer; and when people found
that this Don Quixote knew very well the difference between a giant and
a windmill, and that he always brought down his giants, they soon ceased
to laugh, and began to wonder and admire.

All my readers have probably heard about Laura Bridgman, whom he found a
little child, deaf, dumb, and blind, knowing no more than an animal, and
how he taught her to read and write, to talk with her fingers, and to
become an earnest, thoughtful, industrious woman. It is a wonderful
story; but it has already been told, and will soon be still more fully
told, so I will not dwell upon it now.

But I hope you will all read, some day, a Life of our father, and learn
about all the things he did, for it needs a whole volume to tell them.

But it is especially as our father that I want to describe this great
and good man. I suppose there never was a tenderer or kinder father. He
liked to make companions of his children, and was never weary of having
us “tagging” at his heels. We followed him about the garden like so many
little dogs, watching the pruning or grafting which were his special
tasks. We followed him up into the wonderful pear-room, where were many
chests of drawers, every drawer full of pears lying on cotton-wool. Our
father watched their ripening with careful heed, and told us many things
about their growth and habits. We learned about the Curé pear, which,
one fancied, had been named for an old gentleman with a long and waving
nose; and about the Duchesse d’Angoulême, which suggested, in appearance
as in name, a splendid dame in gold and crimson velvet. Then there were
all the Beurrés, from the pale beauty of the Beurré Diel to the Beurré
Bosc in its coat of rich russet, and the Easter Beurré, latest of all.
There, too, was the Winter Nelis,--which we persisted in calling “Winter
Nelly,” and regarded as a friend of our own age, though this never
prevented us from eating her with delight whenever occasion
offered,--and the Glout Morceau, and the Doyenne d’Eté, and hundreds
more. Julia’s favorite was always the Bartlett, which appealed to her
both by its beauty and its sweetness; but Flossy always held, and Laura
held with her, and does hold, and will hold till she dies, that no pear
is to be named in the same breath with the Louise Bonne de Jersey.

Oh good Louise, you admirable woman, for whom this green-coated ambrosia
was named! what a delightful person you must have been! How sweetness
and piquancy must have mingled in your adorable disposition! Happy was
the man who called you his! happy was the island of Jersey, which saw
you and your pears ripening and mellowing side by side!

I must not leave the pear-room without mentioning the beloved Strawberry
Book, which was usually to be found there, and over which we children
used to pore by the hour together. “Fruits of America” was its real
name, but we did not care for that; we loved it for its brilliant
pictures of strawberries and all other fruits, and perhaps even more for
the wonderful descriptions which were really as satisfying as many an
actual feast. Was it not almost as good as eating a pear, to read these
words about it:--

     “Skin a rich golden yellow, dappled with orange and crimson, smooth
     and delicate; flesh smooth, melting, and buttery; flavor rich,
     sprightly, vinous, and delicious!”

Almost as good, I say, but not quite; and it is pleasant to recall that
we seldom left the pear-room empty-handed.

Then there was his own room, where we could examine the wonderful
drawers of his great bureau, and play with the “picknickles” and
“bucknickles.” I believe our father invented these words. They
were--well, all kinds of pleasant little things,--amber mouthpieces, and
buckles and bits of enamel, and a wonderful Turkish pipe, and seals and
wax, and some large pins two inches long which were great treasures. On
his writing-table were many clean pens in boxes, which you could lay out
in patterns; and a sand-box--very delightful! We were never tired of
pouring the fine black sand into our hands, where it felt so cool and
smooth, and then back again into the box with its holes arranged
star-fashion. And to see him shake sand over his paper when he wrote a
letter, and then pour it back in a smooth stream, while the written
lines sparkled and seemed to stand up from the page! Ah, blotting-paper
is no doubt very convenient, but I should like to have a sand-box,

I cannot remember that our father was ever out of patience when we
pulled his things about. He had many delightful stories,--one of “Jacky
Nory,” which had no end, and went on and on, through many a walk and
garden prowl. Often, too, he would tell us of his own pranks when he was
a little boy,--how they used to tease an old Portuguese sailor with a
wooden leg, and how the old man would get very angry, and cry out,
“Calabash me rompe you!” meaning, “I’ll break your head!” How when he
was a student in college, and ought to have known better, he led the
president’s old horse upstairs and left him in an upper room of one of
the college buildings, where the poor beast astonished the passers-by by
putting his head out of the windows and neighing. And then our father
would shake his head and say he was a very naughty boy, and Harry must
never do such things. (But Harry did!)

He loved to play and romp with us. Sometimes he would put on his great
fur-coat, and come into the dining-room at dancing-time, on all-fours,
growling horribly, and pursue us into corners, we shrieking with
delighted terror. Or he would sing for us, sending us into fits of
laughter, for he had absolutely no ear for music. There was one tune
which he was quite sure he sang correctly, but no one could recognize
it. At last he said, “Oh--Su-_san_na!” and then we all knew what the
tune was. “Hail to the Chief!” was his favorite song, and he sang it
with great spirit and fervor, though the air was strictly original, and
very peculiar. When he was tired of romping or carrying us on his
shoulder, he would say, “No; no more! I have a bone in my leg!” which
excuse was accepted by us little ones in perfect good faith, as we
thought it some mysterious but painful malady.

If our father had no ear for music, he had a fine one for metre, and
read poetry aloud very beautifully. His voice was melodious and ringing,
and we were thrilled with his own enthusiasm as he read to us from Scott
or Byron, his favorite poets. I never can read “The Assyrian came down,”
without hearing the ring of his voice and seeing the flash of his blue
eyes as he recited the splendid lines. He had a great liking for Pope,
too (as I wish more people had nowadays), and for Butler’s “Hudibras,”
which he was constantly quoting. He commonly, when riding, wore but one
spur, giving Hudibras’s reason, that if one side of the horse went, the
other must perforce go with it; and how often, on some early morning
walk or ride, have I heard him say,--

    “And, like a lobster boiled, the morn
     From black to red began to turn.”

Or if war or fighting were mentioned, he would often cry,--

    “Ay me! what perils do environ
     The man that meddles with cold iron!”

I must not leave the subject of reading without speaking of his reading
of the Bible, which was most impressive. No one who ever heard him read
morning prayers at the Institution (which he always did until his health
failed in later years) can have forgotten the grave, melodious voice,
the reverent tone, the majestic head bent above the sacred book. Nor was
it less impressive when on Sunday afternoons he read to us, his
children. He would have us read, too, allowing us to choose our favorite
psalms or other passages.

He was an early riser, and often shared our morning walks. Each child,
as soon as it was old enough, was taught to ride; and the rides before
breakfast with him are things never to be forgotten. He took one child
at a time, so that all in turn might have the pleasure. It seems hardly
longer ago than yesterday,--the coming downstairs in the cool, dewy
morning, nibbling a cracker for fear of hunger, springing into the
saddle, the little black mare shaking her head, impatient to be off; the
canter through the quiet streets, where only an early milkman or baker
was to be seen, though on our return we should find them full of boys,
who pointed the finger and shouted,--

    “Lady on a hossback,
     Row, row, row!”

then out into the pleasant country, galloping over the smooth road, or
pacing quietly under shady trees. Our father was a superb rider; indeed,
he never seemed so absolutely at home as in the saddle. He was very
particular about our holding whip and reins in the right way.

Speaking of his riding reminds me of a story our mother used to tell us.
When Julia was a baby, they were travelling in Italy, driving in an
old-fashioned travelling-carriage. One day they stopped at the door of
an inn, and our father went in to make some inquiries. While he was
gone, the rascally driver thought it a good opportunity for him to slip
in at the side door to get a draught of wine; and, the driver gone, the
horses saw that here was _their_ opportunity; so they took it, and ran
away with our mother, the baby, and nurse in the carriage.

Our father, hearing the sound of wheels, came out, caught sight of the
driver’s guilty face peering round the corner in affright, and at once
saw what had happened. He ran at full speed along the road in the
direction in which the horses were headed. Rounding a corner of the
mountain which the road skirted, he saw at a little distance a country
wagon coming slowly toward him, drawn by a stout horse, the wagoner half
asleep on the seat. Instantly our father’s resolve was taken. He ran up,
stopped the horse, unhitched him in the twinkling of an eye, leaped upon
his back, and was off like a flash, before the astonished driver, who
was not used to two-legged whirlwinds, could utter a word.

Probably the horse was equally astonished; but he felt a master on his
back, and, urged by hand and voice, he sprang to his topmost speed,
galloped bravely on, and soon overtook the lumbering carriage-horses,
which were easily stopped. No one was hurt, though our mother and the
nurse had of course been sadly frightened. The horses were turned, and
soon they came in sight of the unhappy countryman, still sitting on his
wagon, petrified with astonishment. He received a liberal reward, and
probably regretted that there were no more mad Americans to “steal a
ride,” and pay for it.

This presence of mind, this power of acting on the instant, was one of
our father’s great qualities. It was this that made him, when the
wounded Greek sank down before him--

    “ ... fling him from his saddle,
     And place the stranger there.”

It was this, when arrested and imprisoned by the Prussian government on
suspicion of befriending unhappy Poland, that taught him what to do with
the important papers he carried. In the minute during which he was left
alone, before the official came to search


him, he thrust the documents up into the hollow head of a bust of the
King of Prussia which stood on a shelf; then tore some unimportant
papers into the smallest possible fragments, and threw them into a basin
of water which stood close at hand.

Next day the fragments carefully pasted together were shown to him,
hours having been spent in the painful and laborious task; but nobody
thought of looking for more papers in the head of King Friedrich

Our father, though nothing could be proved against him, might have
languished long in that Prussian prison had it not been for the
exertions of a fellow-countryman. This gentleman had met him in the
street the day before, had asked his address, and promised to call on
him. Inquiring for him next day at the hotel, he was told that no such
person was or had been there. Instantly suspecting foul play, this good
friend went to the American minister, and told his story. The minister
took up the matter warmly, and called upon the Prussian officials to
give up his countryman. This, after repeated denials of any knowledge
of the affair, they at length reluctantly consented to do. Our father
was taken out of prison at night, placed in a carriage, and driven
across the border into France, where he was dismissed with a warning
never to set foot in Prussia again.

One day, I remember, we were sitting at the dinner-table, when a
messenger came flying, “all wild with haste and fear,” to say that a
fire had broken out at the Institution. Now, in those days there lay
between Green Peace and the Institution a remnant of the famous
Washington Heights, where Washington and his staff had once made their

Much of the high ground had already been dug away, but there still
remained a great hill sloping back and up from the garden wall, and
terminating, on the side toward the Institution, in an abrupt precipice,
some sixty feet high. The bearer of the bad news had been forced to come
round by way of several streets, thus losing precious minutes; but the
Doctor did not know what it was to lose a minute. Before any one could
speak or ask what he would do he was out of the house, ran through the
garden, climbed the slope at the back, rushed like a flame across the
green hill-top, and slid down the almost perpendicular face of the
precipice! Bruised and panting, he reached the Institution and saw at a
glance that the fire was in the upper story. Take time to go round to
the door and up the stairs? Not he! He “swarmed” up the gutter-spout,
and in less time than it takes to tell it was on the roof, and cutting
away at the burning timbers with an axe, which he had got hold of no one
knows how. That fire was put out, as were several others at which our
father assisted.

Fire is swift, but it could not get ahead of the Doctor.

These are a few of the stories; but, as I said, it needs a volume to
tell all about our father’s life. I cannot tell in this short space how
he worked with the friends of liberty to free the slave; how he raised
the poor and needy, and “helped them to help themselves;” how he was a
light to the blind, and to all who walked in darkness, whether of
sorrow, sin, or suffering. Most men, absorbed in such high works as
these would have found scant leisure for family life and communion; but
no finger-ache of our father’s smallest child ever escaped his loving
care, no childish thought or wish ever failed to win his sympathy. We
who had this high privilege of being his children love to think of him
as the brave soldier, the wise physician, the great philanthropist; but
dearest of all is the thought of him as our loving and tender father.

And now, to end this chapter, you shall hear what Mr. Whittier, the
noble and honored poet, thought of this friend of his:--


    “Oh for a knight like Bayard,
       Without reproach or fear;
     My light glove on his casque of steel,
       My love-knot on his spear!

    “Oh for the white plume floating
       Sad Zutphen’s field above,--
     The lion heart in battle,
       The woman’s heart in love!

    “Oh that man once more were manly,
       Woman’s pride and not her scorn;
     That once more the pale young mother
       Dared to boast ‘a man is born’!

    “But now life’s slumberous current
       No sun-bowed cascade wakes;
     No tall, heroic manhood
       The level dullness breaks.

    “Oh for a knight like Bayard,
       Without reproach or fear!
     My light glove on his casque of steel,
       My love-knot on his spear!”

     Then I said, my own heart throbbing
       To the time her proud pulse beat,
    “Life hath its regal natures yet,--
       True, tender, brave, and sweet!

    “Smile not, fair unbeliever!
       One man at least I know
     Who might wear the crest of Bayard,
       Or Sidney’s plume of snow.

    “Once, when over purple mountains
       Died away the Grecian sun,
     And the far Cyllenian ranges
       Paled and darkened one by one,--

    “Fell the Turk, a bolt of thunder,
       Cleaving all the quiet sky;
     And against his sharp steel lightnings
       Stood the Suliote but to die.

    “Woe for the weak and halting!
       The crescent blazed behind
     A curving line of sabres
       Like fire before the wind!

    “Last to fly and first to rally,
       Rode he of whom I speak,
     When, groaning in his bridle-path,
       Sank down a wounded Greek.--

    “With the rich Albanian costume
       Wet with many a ghastly stain,
     Gazing on earth and sky as one
       Who might not gaze again!

    “He looked forward to the mountains,
       Back on foes that never spare;
     Then flung him from his saddle,
       And placed the stranger there.

    “‘Alla! hu!’ Through flashing sabres,
       Through a stormy hail of lead,
     The good Thessalian charger
       Up the slopes of olives sped.

    “Hot spurred the turbaned riders,--
       He almost felt their breath,
     Where a mountain stream rolled darkly down
       Between the hills and death.

    “One brave and manful struggle,--
       He gained the solid land,
     And the cover of the mountains
       And the carbines of his band.”

    “It was very brave and noble,”
       Said the moist-eyed listener then;
    “But one brave deed makes no hero;
       Tell me what he since hath been?”

    “Still a brave and generous manhood,
       Still an honor without stain,
     In the prison of the Kaiser,
       By the barricades of Seine.

     “But dream not helm and harness
       The sign of valor true;
     Peace hath higher tests of manhood
       Than battle ever knew.

    “Wouldst know him now? Behold him,
       The Cadmus of the blind,
     Giving the dumb lip language,
       The idiot clay a mind;

    “Walking his round of duty
       Serenely day by day,
     With the strong man’s hand of labor,
       And childhood’s heart of play;

    “True as the knights of story,
       Sir Lancelot and his peers,
     Brave in his calm endurance
       As they in tilt of spears.

    “As waves in stillest waters,
       As stars in noon-day skies,
     All that wakes to noble action
       In his noon of calmness lies.

    “Wherever outraged nature
       Asks word or action brave;
     Wherever struggles labor,
       Wherever groans a slave;

    “Wherever rise the peoples,
       Wherever sinks a throne,--
     The throbbing heart of Freedom finds
       An answer in his own!

    “Knight of a better era,
       Without reproach or fear!
     Said I not well that Bayards
       And Sidneys still are here?”



Once upon a time, in a great house standing at the corner of Bond Street
and Broadway, New York city, there lived a little girl. She was named
Julia, after her lovely young mother; but as she grew she showed no
resemblance to that mother, with her great dark eyes and wealth of black
ringlets. This little girl had red hair, and that was a dreadful thing
in those days. Very fine, soft hair it was, thick and wavy, but--it was
red. Visitors, coming to see her mother, would shake their heads and
say, “Poor little Julia! what a pity she has red hair!” and the tender
mother would sigh, and regret that her child should have this
misfortune, when there was no red hair in the family so far as one knew.
And the beautiful hair was combed with a leaden comb, as one old lady
said that would turn it dark; and it was soaked in honey-water, as
another old lady said that was really the best thing you could do with
it; and the little Julia felt that she might almost as well be a
hunchback or a cripple as that unfortunate creature, a red-haired child.

When she was six years old, her beautiful mother died; and after that
Julia and her brothers and sisters were brought up by their good aunt,
who came to make her home with them and their father. A very good aunt
she was, and devoted to the motherless children; but sometimes she did
funny things. They went out to ride every day--the children, I mean--in
a great yellow chariot lined with fine blue cloth. Now, it occurred to
their kind aunt that it would have a charming effect if the children
were dressed to match the chariot. So thought, so done! Dressmakers and
milliners plied their art; and one day Broadway was electrified by the
sight of the little Misses Ward, seated in uneasy state on the blue
cushions, clad in wonderful raiment of yellow and blue. They


(From a miniature by Miss Anne Hall.)]

had blue pelisses and yellow satin bonnets. And this was all very well
for the two younger ones, with their dark eyes and hair, and their rosy
cheeks; but Julia, young as she was, felt dimly that blue and yellow was
not the combination to set off her tawny locks and exquisite sea-shell
complexion. It is not probable, however, that she sorrowed deeply over
the funny clothes; for her mind was never set on clothes, either in
childhood or in later life. Did not her sister meet her one day coming
home from school with one blue shoe and one green? Her mind was full of
beautiful thoughts; her eyes were lifted to the green trees and the blue
sky bending above them: what did she care about shoes? Yes; and later is
it not recorded that her sisters had great difficulty in persuading her
to choose the stuff for her wedding-gown? So indifferent was she to all
matters of dress!

Auntie F. had her own ideas about shoes and stockings,--not the color,
but the quality of them. She did not believe in “pompeying” the
children; so in the coldest winter weather Julia and her sisters went
to school in thin slippers and white cotton stockings. You shiver at the
bare thought of this, my girl readers! You look at your comfortable
leggings and overshoes (that is, if you live in upper New England, or
anywhere in the same latitude), and wonder how the Ward children lived
through such a course of “hardening”! But they did live, and Julia seems
now far younger and stronger than any of her children.

School, which some children regard with mingled feelings (or so I have
been told), was a delight to Julia. She grasped at knowledge with both
hands,--plucked it as a little child plucks flowers, with unwearying
enjoyment. Her teachers, like the “people” in the case of the

    “Young lady whose eyes
     Were unique as to color and size,”

all turned aside, and started away in surprise, as this little
red-haired girl went on learning and learning and learning. At nine
years old she was studying Paley’s “Moral Philosophy,” with girls of
sixteen and eighteen. She could not have been older when she heard a
class reciting an Italian lesson, and fell in love with the melodious
language. She listened, and listened again; then got a grammar and
studied secretly, and one day handed to the astonished Italian teacher a
letter correctly written in Italian, begging that she might join the

When I was speaking of the good aunt who was a second mother to the Ward
children, I meant to say a word of the stern but devoted father who was
the principal figure in Julia’s early life. She says of him: “He was a
majestic person, of somewhat severe aspect and reserved manners, but
with a vein of true geniality and a great benevolence of heart.” And she
adds: “His great gravity, and the absence of a mother, naturally subdued
the tone of the whole household; and though a greatly cherished set of
children, we were not a very merry one.”

Still, with all his gravity, Grandfather Ward had his gleams of fun
occasionally. It is told that Julia had a habit of dropping off her
slippers while at table. One day her father felt a wandering shell of
kid, with no foot to keep it steady. He put his own foot on it and moved
it under his chair, then said in his deep, grave voice, “My daughter,
will you bring me my seals, which I have left on the table in my room?”
And poor Julia, after a vain and frantic hunting with both feet, was
forced to go, crimson-cheeked, white-stockinged and slipperless, on the
required errand. She would never have dreamed of asking for the shoe.
She was the eldest daughter, the companion and joy of this sternly
loving father. She always sat next him at table, and sometimes he would
take her right hand in his left, and hold it for many minutes together,
continuing to eat his dinner with his right hand; while she would rather
go dinnerless than ask him to release her own fingers.

Grandfather Ward! It is a relief to confess our faults; and it may be my
duty to say that as soon as I could reach it on tiptoe, it was my joy to
pull the nose of his marble bust, which stood in the great dining-room
at Green Peace. It was a fine, smooth, long nose, most pleasant to
pull; I fear I soiled it sometimes with my little grimy fingers. I trust
children never do such naughty things nowadays.

Then there was Great-grandfather Ward, Julia’s grandfather, who had the
cradle and the great round spectacles. Doubtless he had many other
things besides, for he was a substantial New York merchant; but the
cradle and the spectacles are the only possessions of his that I have
seen. I have the cradle now, and I can testify that Great-grandfather
Ward (for I believe he was rocked in it, as his descendants for four
generations since have been) must have been an extremely long baby. It
is a fine old affair, of solid mahogany, and was evidently built to last
as long as the Wards should last. Not so very long ago, two dear people
who had been rocked together in that cradle fifty--or is it
sixty?--years ago, sat down and clasped hands over it, and wept for pure
love and tenderness and _léal souvenir_. Not less pleasant is its
present use as the good ship “Pinafore,” when six rosy, shouting
children tumble into it and rock violently, singing with might and

    “We sail the ocean blue,
     And our saucy ship’s a beauty!”

That is all about the cradle.

My mother writes thus of Great-grandfather Ward, her own grandfather:--

     “He had been a lieutenant-colonel in the war of American
     Independence. A letter from the Commander-in-Chief to Governor
     Samuel Ward (of Rhode Island) mentions a visit from “your son, a
     tall young man of soldierly aspect.” I cannot quote the exact
     words. My grandfather had seen service in Arnold’s march through
     ‘the wilderness’ to Quebec. He was present at the battle of Red
     Bank. After the close of the war he engaged in commercial pursuits,
     and made a voyage to India as supercargo of a merchant vessel
     belonging to Moses Brown, of Providence. He was in Paris at the
     time of the king’s death (Louis XVI.), and for some time before
     that tragic event. He speaks in his journal of having met several
     of the leading revolutionists of that time at a friend’s house, and
     characterizes them as ‘exceeding plain men, but very zealous.’ He
     passed the day of the king’s execution, which he calls ‘one of
     horror,’ in Versailles, and was grieved at the conduct of several

[Illustration: LIEUT.-COL. SAMUEL WARD.

Born Nov 17, 1756 Died Aug. 16, 1832.]

     Americans, who not only remained in town, but also attended the
     execution. When he finally left Paris, a proscribed nobleman,
     disguised as a footman, accompanied the carriage, and so cheated
     the guillotine of one expected victim.

     “Colonel Ward, as my grandfather was always called, was a graduate
     of Brown University, and a man of scholarly tastes. He possessed a
     diamond edition of Latin classics, which always went with him in
     his campaigns, and which is still preserved in the family. In
     matters of art he was not so well posted. Of the pictures in the
     gallery of the Luxembourg he remarks in his diary: ‘The old
     pictures are considered the best. I cannot think why.’

     “I remember him as very tall, stooping a little, with white hair
     and mild blue eyes, which matched well his composed speech and

I have called Great-grandfather Ward a merchant, but he was far more
than that. The son of Governor Ward of Rhode Island, he was only
eighteen when, as a gallant young captain, he marched his company to the
siege of Boston; and then (as his grandson writes me to-day) he “marched
through the wilderness of Maine, through snow and ice, barefoot, to
Quebec.” Some of my readers may possess an engraving of Trumbull’s
famous painting of the “Attack on Quebec.” Look in the left-hand corner,
and you will see a group of three,--one of them a young, active figure
with flashing eyes; that is Great-grandfather Ward. He rose to be major,
then lieutenant-colonel; was at Peekskill, Valley Forge, and Red Bank,
and wrote the official account of the last-named battle, which may be
found in Washington’s correspondence. Besides being a good man and a
brave soldier, he was a very good grandfather; and this made it all the
more naughty for his granddaughter Julia to behave as she did one day.
Being then a little child, she sat down at the piano, placed a
music-book on the rack, and began to pound and thump on the keys, making
the hideous discord which seems always to afford pleasure to the young.
Her grandfather was sitting by, book in hand; and after enduring the
noise for some time patiently, he said in his kind, courtly way, “Is it
so set down in the book, my dear?”

“Yes, Grandpapa!” said naughty Julia, and went on banging; while
grandpapa, who made no pretense of being a musician, offered no further
comment or remonstrance.

Julia grew up a student and a dreamer. She confesses to having been an
extremely absent person, and much of the time unconscious of what passed
around her. “In the large rooms of my father’s house,” she says, “I
walked up and down, perpetually alone, dreaming of extraordinary things
that I should see and do. I now began to read Shakspere and Byron, and
to try my hand at poems and plays.” She rejoices that none of the
productions of this period were published, and adds: “I regard it as a
piece of great good fortune; for a little praise or a little censure
would have been a much more disturbing element in those days than in
these.” I wish these sentiments were more general with young writers.

Still, life was not all study and dreaming. There were sometimes
merrymakings: witness the gay ball after which Julia wrote to her
brother, “I have been through the burning fiery furnace; and I am
Sad-rake, Me-sick, and Abed-no-go.” There was mischief, too, and
sometimes downright naughtiness, Who was the poor gentleman, an intimate
friend of the family, from whom Julia and her sisters extracted a
promise that he would eat nothing for three days but what they should
send him,--they in return promising three meals a day? He consented,
innocently thinking that these dear young creatures wanted to display
their skill in cookery, and expecting all kinds of delicacies and airy
dainties of pastry and confectionery. Yes! and being a man of his word,
he lived for three days on gruel, of which those “dear young creatures”
sent him a bowl at morning, noon, and night; and on nothing else!

In a certain little cabinet where many precious things are kept, I have
a manuscript poem, written by Julia Ward for the amusement of her
brothers and sisters when she was still a very young girl. It is called
“The Ill-cut Mantell; A Romaunt of the time of Kynge Arthur.” The story
is an old one, but the telling of it is all Julia’s own, and I must
quote a few lines:--

    “I cannot well describe in rhyme
     The female toilet of that time.
     I do not know how trains were carried,
     How single ladies dressed or married;
     If caps were proper at a ball,
     Or even if caps were worn at all;
     If robes were made of crape or tulle,
     If skirts were narrow, gored, or full.
     Perhaps, without consulting grace,
     The hair was scraped back from the face,
     While on the head a mountain rose,
     Crowned, like Mont Blanc, with endless snows.
     It may be that the locks were shorn;
     It may be that the lofty puff,
     The stomacher, the rising ruff,
     The bodice, or the veil were worn,
     Perhaps mantillas were the passion,
     Perhaps ferronières were in fashion,--
     I cannot, and I will not tell.
     But this one thing I wot full well,
     That every lady there was dressed
     In what she thought became her best.
     All further notices, I grieve,
     I must to your imagination leave.”

Julia sometimes tried to awaken in her sisters’ minds the poetic
aspirations which filled her own. One day she found the two little girls
playing some childish game, which seemed to her unnecessarily frivolous.
(You all know, I am sure, the eldest sister’s motto,--

    “Good advice and counsel sage,
     And ‘I never did so when I was your age;’”

and the companion sentiment of the younger sister,--

    “‘Sister, don’t!’ and ‘Sister, do!’
     And ‘Why may not I as well as you?’”)

Miss Ward,--she was always called Miss Ward, poor little dear! and her
dolls were taken away from her when she was only nine years old, that
she might better feel the dignity of her position!--Miss Ward rebuked
the little sisters, and bade them lay aside their foolish toys and
improve their minds by composing poetry. Louisa shook her black curls,
and would not,--moreover, did not, being herself a child of some
firmness. But little sweet Annie would try, to please Sister Julia; and
after much thought and labor she produced the following pious

    “He feeds the ravens when they call,
     And stands them in a pleasant hall.”

I never can recall these lines without having an instant vision of a
pillared hall, fair and

[Illustration: JULIA WARD.]

stately, with ravens standing in niches along the sides, between the
marble columns!

So this maiden, Julia, grew up to womanhood, dreamy and absent, absorbed
in severe study and composition, yet always ready with the brilliant
flashes of her wit, which broke like sunbeams through the mist of
dreams. She was very fair to look upon. No one now pitied her for the
glorious crown of red-gold hair, which set off the rose and ivory of her
matchless complexion; every one recognized and acknowledged in her
“stately Julia, queen of all.”

Once, while on a visit to Boston, Julia heard the wonderful story of
Laura Bridgman, who had just been led out of darkness into the light of
life and joy by a certain Dr. Howe, a man of whom people spoke as a
modern paladin of romance, a Roland or Bayard. She saw him, and felt at
once that he was the most remarkable man she had ever known. He, on his
part, saw a youthful prophetess, radiant and inspired, crowned with
golden hair. Acquaintance ripened into friendship, friendship into love;
and so it happened that, in the year 1843, Samuel G. Howe and Julia
Ward were married. The next chapter shall tell you of Julia Ward Howe,
as we, her children, have known her.




Our mother’s story should be sung rather than said, so much has music to
do with it. My earliest recollection of my mother is of her standing by
the piano in the great dining-room, dressed in black velvet, with her
beautiful neck and arms bare, and singing to us. Her voice was a very
rare and perfect one, we have since learned; we knew then only that we
did not care to hear any one else sing when we might hear her. The time
for singing was at twilight, when the dancing was over, and we gathered
breathless and exhausted about the piano for the last and greatest
treat. Then the beautiful voice would break out, and flood the room with
melody, and fill our childish hearts with almost painful rapture. Our
mother knew all the songs in the world,--that was our firm belief.
Certainly we never found an end to her repertory.

There were German student songs, which she had learned from her brother
when he came back from Heidelberg,--merry, jovial ditties, with choruses
of “Juvevallera!” and “Za hi! Za he! Za ho-o-o-o-o-oh!” in which we
joined with boundless enthusiasm. There were gay little French songs,
all ripple and sparkle and trill; and soft, melting Italian serenades
and barcaroles, which we thought must be like the notes of the
nightingale. And when we called to have our favorites repeated again and
again, she would sing them over and over with never failing patience;
and not one of us ever guessed, as we listened with all our souls, that
the cunning mother was giving us a French lesson, or a German or Italian
lesson, as the case might be, and that what was learned in that way
would never be forgotten all our lives long.

Besides the foreign songs, there were many songs of our mother’s own
making, which we were never weary of hearing. Sometimes

[Illustration: JULIA WARD HOWE.]

she composed a melody for some old ballad, but more often the words and
music both were hers. Where were such nonsense-songs as hers?

    “Little old dog sits under the chair,
     Twenty-five grasshoppers snarled in his hair.
     Little old dog’s beginning to snore,
     Mother forbids him to do so no more.”

Or again,--

    “Hush, my darling, don’t you cry!
     Your sweetheart will come by and by.
     When he comes, he’ll come in green,--
     That’s a sign that you’re his queen.

    “Hush, my darling, don’t you cry!
     Your sweetheart will come by and by.
     When he comes, he’ll come in blue,--
     That’s a sign that he’ll be true.”

And so on through all the colors of the rainbow, till finally
expectation was wrought up to the highest pitch by the concluding lines:

    “When he comes, he’ll come in gray,--
     That’s a sign he’ll come to-day!”

Then it was a pleasant thing that each child could have his or her own
particular song merely for the asking. Laura well remembers her
good-night song, which was sung to the very prettiest tune in the world:

    “Sleep, my little child,
     So gentle, sweet, and mild!
     The little lamb has gone to rest,
     The little bird is in its nest,”--

“Put in the donkey!” cried Laura, at this point of the first singing.
“Please put in the donkey!” So the mother went on,--

    “The little donkey in the stable
     Sleeps as sound as he is able;
     All things now their rest pursue,
     You are sleepy too.”

It was with this song sounding softly in her ears, and with the
beautiful hand, like soft warm ivory, stroking her hair, that Laura used
to fall asleep. Do you not envy the child?

Maud’s songs were perhaps the loveliest of all, though they could not be
dearer than my donkey-song. Here is one of them:--

    “Baby with the hat and plume,
     And the scarlet cloak so fine,
     Come where thou hast rest and room,
         Little baby mine!

    “Whence those eyes so crystal clear?
     Whence those curls, so silky soft?
     Thou art Mother’s darling dear,
         I have told thee oft.

    “I have told thee many times,
     And repeat it yet again,
     Wreathing thee about with rhymes
         Like a flowery chain,--

    “Rhymes that sever and unite
     As the blossom fetters do,
     As the mother’s weary night
         Happy days renew.”

Perhaps some of my readers may already know the lovely verses called
“Baby’s Shoes.”

    “Little feet, pretty feet,
       Feet of fairy Maud,--
     Fair and fleet, trim and neat,
       Carry her abroad!

    “Be as wings, tiny things,
       To my butterfly;
     In the flowers, hours on hours,
       Let my darling lie.

    “Shine ye must, in the dust,
       Twinkle as she runs,
     Threading a necklace gay,
       Through the summer suns.

    “Stringing days, borrowing phrase,
       Weaving wondrous plots,
     With her eyes blue and wise
       As forget-me-nots

   *       *       *       *       *

    “Cinderel, grown a belle,
       Coming from her ball,
     Frightened much, let just such
       A tiny slipper fall.

    “If men knew as I do
       Half thy sweets, my own,
     They’d not delay another day,--
       I should be alone.

    “Come and go, friend and foe,
       Fairy Prince most fine!
     Take your gear otherwhere!
       Maud is only mine.”

But it was not all singing, of course. Our mother read to us a great
deal too, and told us stories, from the Trojan War down to “Puss in
Boots.” It was under her care, I think, that we used to look over the
“Shakspere book.” This was a huge folio, bound in rusty-brown leather,
and containing the famous Boydell prints illustrating the plays of
Shakspere. The frontispiece represented Shakspere nursed by Tragedy and
Comedy,--the prettiest, chubbiest of babies, seated on the ground with
his little toes curled up under him, while a lovely, laughing lady bent
down to whisper in his ear; and another one, grave but no less
beautiful, gazed earnestly upon him. Then came the “Tempest,”--oh, most
lovely! The first picture showed Ariel dancing along the “yellow sands,”
while Prospero waved him on with a commanding gesture; in the second,
Miranda, all white and lovely, was coming out of the darksome cavern,
and smiling with tender compassion on Ferdinand, who was trying to lift
an impossible log. Then there was the delicious terror of the “Macbeth”
pictures, with the witches and Banquo’s ghost. But soon our mother would
turn the page and show us the exquisite figure of Puck, sitting on a
toadstool, and make us shout with laughter over Nick Bottom and his
rustic mates. From these magic pages we learned to hate Richard III.
duly, and to love the little princes, whom Northcote’s lovely picture
showed in white-satin doublet and hose, embracing each other, while the
wicked uncle glowered at them from behind; and we wept over the second
picture, where they lay asleep, unconscious of the fierce faces bending
over them. Yes, we loved the “Shakspere book” very much.

Sometimes our mother would give us a party,--and that was sure to be a
delightful affair, with charades or magic lantern or something of the
kind. Here is an account of one such party, written by our mother
herself in a letter to her sister, which lies before me:--

     “My guests arrived in omnibus loads at four o’clock. My notes to
     parents concluded with the following P. S.: ‘Return omnibus
     provided, with insurance against plum-cake and other accidents.’ A
     donkey carriage afforded great amusement out of doors, together
     with swing, bowling-alley, and the Great Junk. [I have not
     mentioned the Junk yet, but you shall hear of it in good time.]
     While all this was going on, the H.’s, J. S., and I prepared a
     theatrical exhibition, of which I had made a hasty outline. It was
     the story of ‘Blue Beard.’ We had curtains which drew back and
     forth, and regular footlights. You can’t think how good it was!
     There were four scenes. My antique cabinet was the ‘Blue Beard’
     cabinet; we yelled in delightful chorus when the door was opened,
     and the children stretched their necks to the last degree to see
     the horrible sight. The curtain closed upon a fainting-fit, done by
     four women. In the third scene we were scrubbing the fatal key,
     when I cried out, ‘Try the mustang liniment! It’s _the_ liniment
     for us, for you know we _must hang_ if we don’t succeed!’ This,
     which was made on the spur of the moment, overcame the whole
     audience with laughter, and I myself shook so that I had to go down
     into the tub in which we were scrubbing the key. Well, to make a
     long story short, our play was very successful, and immediately
     afterward came supper. There were four long tables for the
     children; twenty sat at each. Ice-cream, cake, blancmange, and
     delicious sugar-plums, also oranges, etc., were served up ‘in
     style.’ We had our supper a little later. Three omnibus-loads went
     from my door; the last--the grown people--at nine o’clock.”

In another letter to the same dear sister, our mother says:--

     “I have written a play for our doll theatre, and performed it
     yesterday afternoon with great success. It occupied nearly an hour.
     I had alternately to grunt and squeak the parts, while Chev played
     the puppets. [Chev was the name by which she always called our
     father; it was an abbreviation of Chevalier, for he was always to
     her the ‘knight without reproach or fear.’] The effect was really
     extremely good. The spectators were in a dark room, and the little
     theatre, lighted by a lamp from the top, looked very pretty.”

This may have been the play of “Beauty and the Beast,” of which the
manuscript is unhappily lost. I can recall but one passage:

    “But he thought on ‘Beauty’s’ flower,
     And he popped into a bower,
     And he plucked the fairest rose
     That grew beneath his nose.”

I remember the theatre well, and the puppets. They were quite unearthly
in their beauty,--all except the “Beast,” a strange, fur-covered
monstrosity. The “Prince” was gilded in a most enchanting manner, and
his mustache curled with an expression of royal pride. I have seen no
other prince like him.

All this was at Green Peace; but many as are the associations with her
beloved presence there, it is at the Valley that I most constantly
picture our mother. She loved the Valley more than any other place on
earth, I think; so it is always pleasant to fancy her there. Study
formed always an important part of her life. It was her delight and
recreation, when wearied with household cares, to plunge into German
metaphysics, or into the works of the Latin poets, whom she greatly
loved. She has told, in one of her own poems, how she used to sit under
the apple-trees with her favorite poet,--

    “Here amid shadows, lovingly embracing,
     Dropt from above by apple-trees unfruitful,
     With a chance scholar, caught and held to help me,
               Read I in Horace,” etc.

But I do not think she had great need of the “chance scholar.” I
remember the book well,--two great brown volumes, morocco-bound, with
“Horatius Ed. Orelli” on the back. We naturally supposed this to be the
writer’s entire name; and to this day, ‘Quintus Horatius Flaccus’
(though I have nothing to say against its authenticity) does not seem to
me as _real_ a name as “Horatius Ed. Orelli.”

Our mother’s books,--alas that we should have been so familiar with the
outside of them, and have known so little of the inside! There was
Tacitus, who was high-shouldered and pleasant to handle, being bound in
smooth brown calf. There was Kant, who could not spell his own name (we
thought it ought to begin with a C!). There was Spinoza, whom we fancied
a hunchback, with a long, thin, vibrating nose. (“What’s in a name?” A
great deal, dear Juliet, I assure you.) Fichte had a sneezing sort of
face, with the nose all “squinnied up,” as we used to say; and as for
Hilpert, who wrote the great German dictionary, there can be no
reasonable doubt that he was a cripple and went on crutches, though I
have no authority to give for the fact beyond the resemblance of his
name to the Scotch verb “hirple,” meaning “to hobble.”

Very, very much our mother loved her books. Yet how quickly were they
laid aside when any head was bumped, any knee scratched, any finger cut!
When we tumbled down and hurt ourselves, our father always cried, “Jump
up and take another!” and that was very good for us; but our mother’s
kiss made it easier to jump up.

Horace could be brought out under the apple-trees; even Kant and Spinoza
sometimes came there, though I doubt whether they enjoyed the fresh air.
But our mother had other work besides study, and many of her most
precious hours were spent each day at the little black table in her own
room, where papers lay heaped like snowdrifts. Here she wrote the
beautiful poems, the brilliant essays, the earnest and thoughtful
addresses, which have given pleasure and help and comfort to so many
people throughout the length and breadth of the land. Many of her words
have become household sayings which we could not spare; but there is one
poem which every child knows, at whose opening line every heart, from
youth to age, must thrill,--“The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Thirty
years have passed since this noble poem was written. It came in that
first year of the war, like the sound of a silver trumpet, like the
flash of a lifted sword; and all men felt that this was the word for
which they had been waiting. You shall hear, in our mother’s own words,
how it came to be written:--

     “In the late autumn of the year 1861 I visited the national capital
     in company with my husband Dr. Howe, and a party of friends, among
     whom were Governor and Mrs. Andrew, Mr. and Mrs. E. P. Whipple, and
     my dear pastor Rev. James Freeman Clarke.

     “The journey was one of vivid, even romantic interest. We were
     about to see the grim Demon of War face to face; and long before we
     reached the city his presence made itself felt in the blaze of
     fires along the road where sat or stood our pickets, guarding the
     road on which we travelled.

     “One day we drove out to attend a review of troops, appointed to
     take place some distance from the city. In the carriage with me
     were James Freeman Clarke and Mr. and Mrs. Whipple. The day was
     fine, and everything promised well; but a sudden surprise on the
     part of the enemy interrupted the proceedings before they were well
     begun. A small body of our men had been surrounded and cut off from
     their companions; reinforcements were sent to their assistance, and
     the expected pageant was necessarily given up. The troops who were
     to have taken part in it were ordered back to their quarters, and
     we also turned our horses’ heads homeward.

     “For a long distance the foot-soldiers nearly filled the road. They
     were before and behind, and we were obliged to drive very slowly.
     We presently began to sing some of the well-known songs of the war,
     and among them--

    ‘John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave.’

     This seemed to please the soldiers, who cried, ‘Good for you!’ and
     themselves took up the strain. Mr. Clarke said to me, ‘You ought to
     write some new words to that tune.’ I replied that I had often
     wished to do so.

     “In spite of the excitement of the day I went to bed and slept as
     usual, but awoke next morning in the gray of the early dawn, and to
     my astonishment found that the wished-for lines were arranging
     themselves in my brain. I lay quite still until the last verse had
     completed itself in my thoughts, then hastily rose, saying to
     myself, ‘I shall lose this if I don’t write it down immediately.’ I
     searched for a sheet of paper and an old stump of a pen which I had
     had the night before, and began to scrawl the lines almost without
     looking, as I had learned to do by often scratching down verses in
     the darkened room where my little children were sleeping. Having
     completed this, I lay down again and fell asleep, but not without
     feeling that something of importance had happened to me.

     “The poem was published soon after this time in the Atlantic
     Monthly. It first came prominently into notice when Chaplain
     McCabe, newly released from Libby Prison, gave a lecture in
     Washington, and in the course of it told how he and his
     fellow-prisoners, having somehow become possessed of a copy of the
     ‘Battle Hymn,’ sang it with a will in their prison, on receiving
     surreptitious tidings of a Union victory.”

Our mother’s genius might soar as high as heaven on the wings of such a
song as this; but we always considered that she was tied to our little
string, and we never doubted (alas!) our perfect right to pull her down
to earth whenever a matter of importance--such as a doll’s funeral or a
sick kitten--was at hand.

To her our confidences were made, for she had a rare understanding of
the child-mind. We were always sure that Mamma knew “just how it was.”

To her did Julia, at the age of five, or it may have been six, impart
the first utterances of her infant Muse. “Mamma,” said the child,
trembling with delight and awe, “I have made a poem, and set it to
music!” Of course our mother was deeply interested, and begged to hear
the composition; whereupon, encouraged by her voice and smile, Julia
sang as follows:--

[Illustration: Music

I had a lit-tle boy;
He died when he was young.]

[Illusration: Music

As soon as he was dead,
He walked upon his tongue!]

Our mother’s ear for music was exquisitely fine,--so fine, that when she
was in her own room, and a child practising below-stairs played a false
note, she would open her door and cry, “B _flat_, clear! not B natural!”
This being; so, it was grievous to her when one day, during her precious
study hour, Harry came and chanted outside her door:

    “Hong-kong! hong-kong! hong-kong!”

“Harry!” she cried, “do stop that dreadful noise!” But when the little
lad showed a piteous face, and said reproachfully, “Why, Mamma, I was
singing to you!” who so ready as our mother to listen to the funny song
and thank the child for it?

When ten-year-old Laura wrote, in a certain precious little volume bound
in Scotch plaid, “Whence these longings after the infinite?” (I cannot
remember any more!) be sure that if any eyes were suffered to rest upon
the sacred lines they were those kind, clear, understanding gray eyes of
our mother.

Through all and round all, like a laughing river, flowed the current of
her wit and fun. No child could be sad in her company. If we were cold,
there was a merry bout of “fisticuffs” to warm us; if we were too warm,
there was a song or story while we sat still and “cooled off.” We all
had nicknames, our own names being often too sober to suit her laughing
mood. We were “Petotty,” “Jehu,” “Wolly,” and “Bunks of Bunktown.”

[Illustration: JULIA ROMANA HOWE.]

On one occasion our mother’s presence of mind saved the life of the
child Laura, then a baby of two years old. We were all staying at the
Institution for some reason, and the nursery was in the fourth story of
the lofty building. One day our mother came into the room, and to her
horror saw little Laura rolling about on the broad window-sill, the
window being wide open; only a few inches space between her and the
edge, and then--the street, fifty feet below! The nurse was, I know not
where,--anywhere save where she ought to have been. Our mother stepped
quickly and quietly back out of sight, and called gently, “Laura! come
here, dear! Come to me! I have something to show you.” A moment’s
agonized pause,--and then she heard the little feet patter on the floor,
and in another instant held the child clasped in her arms. If she had
screamed, or rushed forward, the child would have started, and probably
would have fallen and been dashed to pieces.

It was very strange to us to find other children holding their revels
without their father and mother. “Papa and Mamma” were always the life
and soul of ours.

Our mother’s letters to her sister are delightful, and abound in
allusions to the children. In one of them she playfully upbraids her
sister for want of attention to the needs of the baby of the day, in
what she calls “Family Trochaics”:--

    “Send along that other pink shoe
     You have been so long in knitting!
     Are you not ashamed to think that
     Wool was paid for at Miss Carman’s
     With explicit understanding
     You should knit it for my baby?
     And that baby’s now a-barefoot,
     While your own, no doubt, has choice of
     Pink, blue, yellow--every color,
     For its little drawn-up toe-toes,
     For its toe-toes, small as green peas,
     Counted daily by the mother,
     To be sure that none is missing!”

Our mother could find amusement in almost anything. Even a winter day of
pouring rain, which made other housewives groan and shake their heads at
thought of the washing, could draw from her the following lines:--


(_After Longfellow._)

    The morn was dark, the weather low,
    The household fed by gaslight show,--
    When from the street a shriek arose:
    The milkman, bellowing through his nose,

    The butcher came, a walking flood,
    Drenching the kitchen where he stood:
    “Deucalion is your name, I pray?”
    “Moses!” he choked, and slid away.

    The neighbor had a coach and pair
    To struggle out and take the air;
    Slip-slop, the loose galoshes went;
    I watched his paddling with content.

    A wretch came floundering up the ice
    (The rain had washed it smooth and nice),
    Two ribs stove in above his head,
    As, turning inside out, he said,

No doubt, alas! we often imposed upon the tenderness of this dear
mother. She was always absent-minded, and of this quality advantage was
sometimes taken. One day, when guests were dining with her, Harry came
and asked if he might do something that happened to be against the
rules. “No, dear,” said our mother, and went on with the conversation.
In a few moments Harry was at her elbow again with the same question,
and received the same answer. This was repeated an indefinite number of
times; at length our mother awoke suddenly to the absurdity of it, and,
turning to the child, said: “Harry, what do you mean by asking me this
question over and over again, when I have said ‘no’ each time?”
“Because,” was the reply, “Flossy said that if I asked often enough, you
might say ‘yes!’”

I am glad to say that our mother did _not_ “say yes” on this occasion.
But, on the other hand, Maud was not whipped for taking the cherries,
when she needed a whipping sorely. The story is this: it was in the
silent days of her babyhood, for Maud did not speak a single word till
she was two years and a half old; then she said, one day, “Look at that
little dog!” and after that talked as well as any child. But if she did
not speak in those baby days, she thought a great deal. One day she
thought she wanted some wild cherries from the little tree by the
stone-wall, down behind the corn-crib at the Valley. So she took them,
such being her disposition. Our mother, coming upon the child thus,
forbade her strictly to touch the cherries, showing her at the same time
a little switch, and saying: “If you eat any more cherries, I shall have
to whip you with this switch!” She went into the house, and forgot the
incident. But presently Maud appeared, with a bunch of cherries in one
hand and the switch in the other. Fixing her great blue eyes on our
mother with earnest meaning, she put the cherries in her mouth, and then
held out the switch. Alas! and our mother--did--not--whip her! I mention
this merely to show that our mother was (and, indeed, is) mortal. But
Maud was the baby, and the prettiest thing in the world, and had a way
with her that was very hard to resist.

It was worth while to have measles and things of that sort, not because
one had stewed prunes and cream-toast--oh, no!--but because our mother
sat by us, and sang “Lord Thomas and Fair Elinor,” or some mystic

The walks with her are never to be forgotten,--twilight walks round the
hill behind the house, with the wonderful sunset deepening over the bay,
turning all the world to gold and jewels; or through the Valley itself,
the lovely wild glen, with its waterfall and its murmuring stream, and
the solemn Norway firs, with their warning fingers. The stream was clear
as crystal, its rocky banks fringed with jewel-weed and rushes; the
level sward was smooth and green as emerald. By the waterfall stood an
old mill, whose black walls looked down on a deep brown pool, into which
the foaming cascade fell with a musical, rushing sound. I have described
the Valley very fully elsewhere,[2] but cannot resist dwelling on its
beauty again in connection with our mother,--who loved so to wander
through it, or to sit with her work under the huge ash-tree in the
middle, where

[Illustration: JULIA WARD HOWE.

(From a recent photograph.)]

our father had placed seats and a rustic table. Here, and in the lovely,
lonely fields, as we walked, our mother talked with us, and we might
share the rich treasures of her thought.

    “And oh the words that fell from her mouth
     Were words of wonder and words of truth!”

One such word, dropped in the course of conversation as the maiden in
the fairy-story dropped diamonds and pearls, comes now to my mind, and I
shall write it here because it is good to think of and to say over to
one’s self:--

    “I gave my son a palace
       And a kingdom to control,--
     The palace of his body,
       The kingdom of his soul.”

In the Valley, too, many famous parties and picnics were given. The
latter are to be remembered with especial delight. A picnic with our
mother and one without her are two very different things. I never knew
that a picnic could be dull till I grew up and went to one where that
brilliant, gracious presence was lacking. The games we played, the
songs we sang, the garlands of oak and maple leaves that we wove,
listening to the gay talk if we were little, joining in it when we were
older; the simple feast, and then the improvised charades or tableaux,
always merry, often graceful and lovely!--ah, these are things to

Our mother’s hospitality was boundless. She loved to fill the little
house to overflowing in summer days, when every one was glad to get out
into the fresh, green country. Often the beds were all filled, and we
children had to take to sofas and cots: once, I remember, Harry slept on
a mattress laid on top of the piano, there being no other vacant spot.

Sometimes strangers as well as friends shared this kindly hospitality. I
well remember one wild stormy night, when two men knocked at the door
and begged for a night’s lodging. They were walking to the town, they
said, five miles distant, but had been overtaken by the storm. The
people at the farm-house near by had refused to take them in; there was
no other shelter near. Our mother hesitated a moment. Our father was
away; the old coachman slept in the barn, at some distance from the
house; she was alone with the children and the two maids, and Julia was
ill with a fever. These men might be vagabonds, or worse. Should she let
them in? Then, perhaps, she may have heard, amid the howling of the
storm, a voice which she has followed all her life, saying, “I was a
stranger, and ye took me in!” She bade the men enter, in God’s name, and
gave them food, and then led them to an upper bedroom, cautioning them
to tread softly as they passed the door of the sick child’s room.

Well, that is all. Nothing happened. The men proved to be quiet,
respectable persons, who departed, thankful, the next morning.

The music of our mother’s life is still sounding on, noble, helpful, and
beautiful. Many people may still look into her serene face, and hear her
silver voice; and no one will look or hear without being the better for
it. I cannot close this chapter better than with some of her own
words,--a poem which I wish every child, and every grown person too,
who reads this might learn by heart.


    “I sent a child of mine to-day:
       I hope you used him well.”
    “Now, Lord, no visitor of yours
       Has waited at my bell.

    “The children of the millionaire
       Run up and down our street;
     I glory in their well-combed hair,
       Their dress and trim complete.

    “But yours would in a chariot come
       With thoroughbreds so gay,
     And little merry maids and men
       To cheer him on his way.”

    “Stood, then, no child before your door?”
       The Lord, persistent, said.
    “Only a ragged beggar-boy,
       With rough and frowzy head.

    “The dirt was crusted on his skin,
       His muddy feet were bare;
     The cook gave victuals from within:
       I cursed his coming there.”

     What sorrow, silvered with a smile,
       Glides o’er the face divine?
     What tenderest whisper thrills rebuke?
       “The beggar-boy was mine!”



I do not know why we had so many teachers. No doubt it was partly
because we were very troublesome children. But I think it was also
partly owing to the fact that our father was constantly overrun by needy
foreigners seeking employment. He was a philanthropist; he had been
abroad, and spoke foreign languages,--that was enough! His office was
besieged by “all peoples, nations, and languages,”--all, as a rule,
hungry,--Greeks, Germans, Poles, Hungarians, occasionally a Frenchman or
an Englishman, though these last were rare. Many of them were political
exiles; sometimes they brought letters from friends in Europe, sometimes

Our father’s heart never failed to respond to any appeal of this kind
when the applicant really wanted work; for sturdy beggars he had no
mercy. So it sometimes happened that, while waiting for something else
to turn up, the exile of the day would be set to teaching us,--partly to
give him employment, partly also by way of finding out what he knew and
was fit for. In this way did Professor Feaster (this may not be the
correct spelling, but it was our way, and suited him well) come to be
our tutor for a time. He was a very stout man, so stout that we
considered him a second Daniel Lambert. He may have been an excellent
teacher, but almost my only recollection of him is that he made the most
enchanting little paper houses, with green doors and blinds that opened
and shut. He painted the inside of the houses in some mysterious
way,--at least there were patterns on the floor, like mosaic-work,--and
the only drawback to our perfect happiness on receiving one of them was
that we were too big to get inside.

I say this is almost my only recollection of this worthy man; but candor
compels me to add that the other picture which his name conjures up is
of Harry and Laura marching round the dining-room table, each
shouldering a log of wood, and shouting,--

    “We’ll kill old Feaster!
     We’ll kill old Feaster!”

This was very naughty indeed; but, as I have said before, we were often

One thing more I do recollect about poor Professor Feaster. Flossy was
at once his delight and his terror. She was so bright, so original,
so--alas! so impish. She used to climb up on his back, lean over his
shoulder, and pull out his watch to see if the lesson-hour were over. To
be sure, she was only eight at this time, and possibly the scenes from
“Wilhelm Tell” which he loved to declaim with republican fervor may have
been rather beyond her infant comprehension.

One day Flossy made up her mind that the Professor should take her way
about something--I quite forget what--rather than his own. She set
herself deliberately against him,--three feet to six!--and declared that
he should do as she said. The poor Professor looked down on this fiery
pygmy with eyes that sparkled through his gold-bowed spectacles. “I haf
refused,” he cried in desperation, “to opey ze Emperor of Austria, mees!
Do you sink I will opey _you?_”

Then there was Madame S----, a Danish lady, very worthy, very
accomplished, and--ugly enough to frighten all knowledge out of a
child’s head. She was my childish ideal of personal uncomeliness, yet
she was most good and kind.

It was whispered that she had come to this country with intent to join
the Mormons (of course we heard nothing of this till years after), but
the plan had fallen through; she, Madame S----, did not understand why,
but our mother, on looking at her, thought the explanation not so
difficult. She had a religion of her own, this poor, good, ugly dame. It
was probably an entirely harmless one, though she startled our mother
one day by approving the action of certain fanatics who had killed one
of their number (by his own consent) because he had a devil. “If he did
have a devil,” quoth Madame, beaming mildly over the purple
morning-glory she was crocheting, “it may have been a good thing that he
was killed.”

As I say, this startled our mother, who began to wonder what would
happen if Madame S---- should take it into her head that any of our
family was possessed by a devil; but neither poison nor dagger appeared,
and Madame was never anything but the meekest of women.

I must not forget to say that before she began to teach she had wished
to become a lecturer. She had a lecture all ready; it began with a
poetical outburst, as follows:

    “I am a Dane! I am a Dane!
     I am not ashamed of the royal name!”

But we never heard of its being delivered. I find this mention of Madame
S---- in a letter from our mother to her sister:--

    “Danish woman very ugly,
     But remarkably instructive,--
     Drawing, painting, French, and German,
     Fancy-work of all descriptions,
     With geography and grammar.
     She will teach for very little,
     And is a superior person.”

I remember some of the fancy-work. There were pink-worsted roses, very
wonderful,--really not at all like the common roses one sees in gardens.
You wound the worsted round and round, spirally, and then you ran your
needle down through the petal and pulled it a little; this, as any
person of intelligence will readily perceive, made a rose-petal with a
dent of the proper shape in it. These petals had to be pressed in a book
to keep them flat, while others were making. Sometimes, years and years
after, one would find two or three of them between the leaves of an old
volume of “Punch,” or some other book; and instantly would rise up
before the mind’s eye the figure of Madame S----, with scarlet face and
dark-green dress, and a very remarkable nose.

Flossy reminds me that she always smelt of peppermint. So she did, poor
lady! and probably took it for its medicinal properties.

Then there was the wax fruit. You young people of sophisticated to-day,
who make such things of real beauty with your skilful,
kindergarten-trained fingers, what would you say to the wax fruit and
flowers of our childhood? Perhaps you would like to know how to make
them. We bought wax at the apothecary’s, white wax, in round flat cakes,
pleasant to nibble, and altogether gratifying,--wax, and chrome-yellow
and carmine, the colors in powder. We put the wax in a pipkin (I always
say “pipkin” when I have a chance, because it is such a charming word;
but if my readers prefer “saucepan,” let them have it by all means!)--we
put it, I say, in a pipkin, and melted it. (For a pleasure wholly
without alloy, I can recommend the poking and punching of half-melted
wax.) Then, when it was ready, we stirred in the yellow powder, which
produced a fine Bartlett color. Then we poured the mixture--oh,
joy!--into the two pear or peach shaped halves of the plaster mold, and
clapped them together; and when the pear or peach was cool and dry, we
took a camel’s-hair brush and painted a carmine cheek on one side. I do
not say that this was art, or advancement of culture; I do not say that
its results were anything but hideous and abnormal; but I do maintain
that it was a delightful and enchanting amusement. And if there was a
point of rapture beyond this, it was the coloring of melted wax to a
delicate rose hue, and dipping into it a dear little spaddle (which, be
it explained to the ignorant, is a flat disk with a handle to it) and
taking out liquid rose-petals, which hardened in a few minutes and were
rolled delicately off with the finger. When one had enough (say, rather,
when one could tear one’s self away from the magic pipkin), one put the
petals together; and there you had a rose that was like nothing upon

After all, were wax flowers so much more hideous, I wonder, than some
things one sees to-day? Why is it that such a stigma attaches to the
very name of them? Why do not people go any longer to see the wax
figures in the Boston Museum? Perhaps they are not there now; perhaps
they are grown forlorn and dilapidated--indeed, they never were very
splendid!--and have been hustled away into some dim lumber-room, from
whose corners they glare out at the errant call-boy of the theatre, and
frighten him into fits. Daniel Lambert, in scarlet waistcoat and
knee-breeches! the “Drunkard’s Career,” the bare recollection of which
brings a thrill of horror,--there was one child at least who regarded
you as miracles of art!

Speaking of wax reminds me of Monsieur N----, who gave us, I am inclined
to think, our first French lessons, besides those we received from our
mother. He was a very French Frenchman, with blond mustache and imperial
waxed à la Louis Napoleon, and a military carriage. He had been a
soldier, and taught fencing as well as French, though not to us. This
unhappy gentleman had married a Smyrniote woman, out of gratitude to her
family, who had rescued him from some pressing danger. Apparently he did
them a great service by marrying the young woman and taking her away,
for she had a violent temper,--was, in short, a perfect vixen. The evils
of this were perhaps lessened by the fact that she could not speak
French, while her husband had no knowledge of her native Greek. It is
the simple truth that this singular couple in their disputes, which
unfortunately were many, used often to come and ask our father to act as
interpreter between them. Monsieur N---- himself was a kind man, and a
very good teacher.

There is a tale told of a christening feast which he gave in honor of
Candide, his eldest child. Julia and Flossy were invited, and also the
governess of the time, whoever she was. The company went in two hacks to
the priest’s house, where the ceremony was to be performed; on the way
the rival hackmen fell out, and jeered at each other, and, whipping up
their lean horses, made frantic efforts each to obtain the front rank in
the small cortége. Whereupon Monsieur N----, very angry at this
infringement of the dignity of the occasion, thrust his head out of the
window and shrieked to his hackman:--

“Firts or sekind, vich you bleece!” which delighted the children more
than any other part of the entertainment.

There was poor Miss R----, whom I recall with mingled dislike and
compassion. She must have been very young, and she had about as much
idea of managing children (we required a great deal of managing) as a
tree might have. Her one idea of discipline was to give us
“misdemeanors,” which in ordinary speech were “black marks.” What is it
I hear her say in the monotonous sing-song voice which always
exasperated us?--“Doctor, Laura has had fourteen misdemeanors!” Then
Laura was put to bed, no doubt very properly; but she has always felt
that she need not have had the “misdemeanors” if the teaching had been a
little different. Miss R---- it was who took away the glass eye-cup;
therefore I am aware that I cannot think of her with clear and
unprejudiced mind. But she must have had bitter times with us, poor
thing! I can distinctly remember Flossy urging Harry, with fiery zeal,
not to recite his geography lesson,--I cannot imagine why.

Miss R---- often rocked in the junk with us. That reminds me that I
promised to describe the junk. But how shall I picture that perennial
fount of joy? It was crescent-shaped, or rather it was like a
longitudinal slice cut out of a watermelon. Magnify the slice a
hundred-fold; put seats up and down the sides, with iron bars in front
to hold on by; set it on two grooved rails and paint it red,--there you
have the junk! Nay! you have it not entire; for it should be filled with
rosy, shouting children, standing or sitting, holding on by the bars and
rocking with might and main,--

    “Yo-ho! Here we go!
     Up and down! Heigh-ho!”

Why are there no junks nowadays? Surely it would be better for us, body
and mind, if there were; for, as for the one, the rocking exercised
every muscle in the whole bodily frame, and as for the other, black Care
could not enter the junk (at least he did not), nor weariness, nor
“shadow of annoyance.” There ought to be a junk on Boston Common, free
to all, and half a dozen in Central Park; and I hope every young person
who reads these words will suggest this device to his parents or

But teaching is not entirely confined to the archery practice of the
young idea; and any account of our teachers would be incomplete without
mention of our dancing-master,--of _the_ dancing-master, for there was
but one. You remember that the dandy in “Punch,” being asked of whom he
buys his hats, replies: “Scott. Is there another fellah?” Even so it
would be difficult for the Boston generation of middle or elder life to
acknowledge that there could have been “another fellah” to teach dancing
besides Lorenzo Papanti. Who does not remember--nay! who could ever
forget--that tall, graceful figure; that marvellous elastic glide, like
a wave flowing over glass? Who could ever forget the shrewd, kindly
smile when he was pleased, the keen lightning of his glance when
angered? What if he did rap our toes sometimes till the timorous wept,
and those of stouter heart flushed scarlet, and clenched their small
hands and inly vowed revenge? No doubt we richly deserved it, and it did
us good.

If I were to hear a certain strain played in the desert of Sahara or on
the plains of Idaho, I should instantly “forward and back and cross
over,”--and so, I warrant, would most of my generation of Boston people.
There is one grave and courteous gentleman of my acquaintance, whom to
see dance the shawl-dance with his fairy sister was a dream of poetry.
As for the gavotte--O beautiful Amy! O lovely Alice! I see you now, with
your short, silken skirts flowing out to extreme limit of crinoline;
with your fair locks confined by the discreet net, sometimes of brown or
scarlet chenille, sometimes of finest silk; with snowy stockings, and
slippers fastened by elastic bands crossed over the foot and behind the
ankle; with arms and neck bare. If your daughters to-day chance upon a
photograph of you taken in those days, they laugh and ask mamma how she
could wear such queer things, and make such a fright of herself! But I
remember how lovely you were, and how perfectly you always dressed, and
with what exquisite grace you danced the gavotte.

[Illustration: LAURA E. RICHARDS.]

So, I think, all we who jumped and changed our feet, who pirouetted and
chasséed under Mr. Papanti, owe him a debt of gratitude. His hall was a
paradise, the stiff little dressing-room, with its rows of shoe-boxes,
the antechamber of delight,--and thereby hangs a tale. The child Laura
grew up, and married one who had jumped and changed his feet beside her
at Papanti’s, and they two went to Europe and saw many strange lands and
things; and it fell upon a time that they were storm-bound in a little
wretch of a grimy steamer in the Gulf of Corinth. With them was a
travelling companion who also had had the luck to be born in Boston, and
to go to dancing-school; the other passengers were a Greek, an Italian,
and--I think the third was a German, but as he was seasick it made no
difference. Three days were we shut up there while the storm raged and
bellowed, and right thankful we were for the snug little harbor which
stretched its protecting arms between us and the white churning waste of
billows outside the bar.

We played games to make the time pass; we talked endlessly,--and in the
course of talk it naturally came to pass that we told of our adventures,
and where we came from, and, in short, who we were. The Greek gentleman
turned out to be an old acquaintance of our father, and was greatly
overjoyed to see me, and told me many interesting things about the old
fighting-days of the revolution. The Italian spoke little during this
conversation, but when he heard the word “Boston” he pricked up his
ears; and when a pause came, he asked if we came from Boston. “Yes,” we
all answered, with the inward satisfaction which every Bostonian feels
at being able to make the reply. And had we ever heard, in Boston, he
went on to inquire, of “un certo Papanti, maestro di ballo?” “Heard of
him!” cried the three dancing-school children,--“we never heard of any
one else!” Thereupon ensued much delighted questioning and
counter-questioning. This gentleman came from Leghorn, Mr. Papanti’s
native city. He knew his family; they were excellent people. Lorenzo
himself he had never seen, as he left Italy so many years ago; but
reports had reached Leghorn that he was very successful,--that he taught
the best people (O Beacon street! O purple windows and brown-stone
fronts, I should think so!); that he had invented “un piano sopra
molle,” a floor on springs. Was this true? Whereupon we took up our
parable, and unfolded to the Livornese mind the glory of Papanti, till
he fairly glowed with pride in his famous fellow-townsman.

And, finally, was not this a pleasant little episode in a storm-bound
steamer in the Gulf of Corinth?



We had so many friends that I hardly know where to begin. First of all,
perhaps, I should put the dear old Scotch lady whom we called “D. D.”
She had another name, but that is nobody’s business but her own. D. D.
was a thousand years old. She always said so when we asked her age, and
she certainly ought to have known. No one would have thought it to look
at her, for she had not a single gray hair, and her eyes were as bright
and black as a young girl’s. One of the pleasantest things about her was
the way she dressed, in summer particularly. She wore a gown of white
dimity, always spotlessly clean, made with a single plain skirt, and a
jacket. The jacket was a little open in front, showing a handkerchief of
white net fastened with a brooch of hair in the shape of a harp.
Fashions made no difference to D. D. People might wear green or yellow
or purple, as they pleased,--she wore her white dimity; and we children
knew instinctively that it was the prettiest and most becoming dress
that she could have chosen.

Another wonderful thing about D. D. was her store-closet. There never
was such a closet as that! It was all full of glass jars, and the jars
were full of cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves and raisins, and all manner
of good things. Yes, and they were not screwed down tight, as jars are
likely to be nowadays; but one could take off the top, and see what was
inside; and if it was cinnamon, one might take even a whole stick, and
D. D. would not mind. Sometimes a friend of hers who lived at the South
would send her a barrel of oranges (she called it a “bar’l of awnges,”
because she was Scotch, and we thought it sounded a great deal prettier
than the common way), and then we had glorious times; for D. D. thought
oranges were very good for us, and we thought so too. Then she had some
very delightful and interesting drawers, full of old daguerreotypes and
pieces of coral, and all kinds of alicumtweezles. Have I explained
before that “alicumtweezles” are nearly the same as “picknickles” and

D. D.’s son was a gallant young soldier, and it was his hair that she
wore in the harp-shaped brooch. Many of the daguerreotypes were of him,
and he certainly was as handsome a fellow as any mother could wish a son
to be. When we went to take tea with D. D., which was quite often, we
always looked over her treasures, and asked the same questions over and
over, the dear old lady never losing patience with us. And such jam as
we had for tea! D. D.’s jams and jellies were famous, and she often made
our whole provision of sweet things for the winter. Then we were sure of
having the best quince marmalade and the clearest jelly; while as for
the peach marmalade--no words can describe it!

D. D. was a wonderful nurse; and when we were ill she often came and
helped our mother in taking care of us. Then she would sing us her
song,--a song that no one but D. D. and the fortunate children who had
her for a friend ever heard. It is such a good song that I must write it
down, being very sure that D. D. would not care.

    “There was an old man. and he was mad,
       And he ran up the steeple;
     He took off his great big hat.
       And waved it over the people.”

To D. D. we owe the preservation of one of Laura’s first compositions,
written when she was ten years old. She gave it to the good lady, who
kept it for many years in her treasure-drawer till Laura’s own children
were old enough to read it. It is a story, and is called--


     Marion Gray, a lovely girl of thirteen, one day tied on her gypsy
     hat, and, singing a merry song, bade good-by to her mother, and ran
     quickly toward the forest. She was the youngest daughter of Sir
     Edward Gray, a celebrated nobleman in great favor with the king,
     and consequently Marion had everything she wished for. When she
     reached the wood she set her basket down under a chestnut-tree,
     and climbing up into the branches she shook them till the ripe
     fruit came tumbling down. She then jumped down, and having filled
     her basket was proceeding to another tree, when all of a sudden a
     dark-looking man stepped out, who, when she attempted to fly,
     struck her severely with a stick, and she fell senseless to the

     Meanwhile all was in confusion at the manorhouse. Marion’s faithful
     dog Carlo had seen the man lurking in the thicket, and had tried to
     warn his mistress of the danger. But seeing she did not mind, the
     minute he saw the man prepare to spring out he had run to the
     house. He made them understand that some one had stolen Marion.
     “Who, Carlo, who?” exclaimed the agonized mother. Carlo instantly
     picked up some A-B-C blocks which lay on the floor, and putting
     together the letters that form the word “Gypsies,” looked up at his
     master and wagged his tail. “The Gypsies!” exclaimed Sir Edward;
     “alas! if the gypsies have stolen our child, we shall never see her
     again.” Nevertheless they searched and searched the wood, but no
     trace of her was to be found.

         *       *       *       *       *

     “Hush! here she is! Isn’t she a beauty?”

     “Yes! but what is her name?”

     “Marion Gray. I picked her up in the wood. A splendid addition to
     our train, for she can beg charity and a night’s lodging; and then
     the easiest thing in the world is just to find out where they keep
     the key, and let us in. Hush! hush! she’s coming to.”

     These words were spoken by a withered hag of seventy and the man
     who had stolen her. Slowly Marion opened her eyes, and what was her
     horror to find herself in a gypsy camp!

     I will skip over the five long years of pain and suffering, and
     come to the end of my story. Five years have passed, and the new
     king sits on his royal throne, judging and condemning a band of
     gypsies. They are all condemned but one young girl, who stands with
     downcast eyes before him; but when she hears her doom, she raises
     her dark flashing eyes on the king. A piercing shriek is heard, the
     crown and sceptre roll down the steps of the throne, and Marion
     Gray is clasped in her father’s arms!

Another dear friend was Miss Mary. She was a small, brisk woman, with
“New England” written all over her. She used to stay with us a good
deal, helping my mother in household matters, or writing for our father;
and we all loved her dearly. She had the most beautiful hair, masses
and masses of it, of a deep auburn, and waving in a lovely fashion. She
it was who used to say, “Hurrah for Jackson!” whenever anything met her
special approval; and we all learned to say it too, and to this day some
of us cheer the name of “Old Hickory,” who has been in his grave these
fifty years. Miss Mary came of seafaring people, and had many strange
stories of wreck and tempest, of which we were never weary. Miss Mary’s
energy was untiring, her activity unceasing. She used to make long
woodland expeditions with us in the woods around the Valley, leading the
way “over hill, over dale, thorough bush, thorough brier,” finding all
manner of wild-wood treasures,--creeping-jenny, and ferns and mosses
without end,--which were brought home to decorate the parlors. She knew
the name of every plant, and what it was good for. She knew when the
barberries must be gathered, and when the mullein flowers were ready.
She walked so fast and so far that she wore out an unreasonable number
of shoes in a season.

Speaking of her shoes reminds me that at the fire of which I spoke in a
previous chapter, at the Institution for the Blind, Miss Mary was the
first person to give the alarm. She had on a brand-new pair of morocco
slippers when the fire broke out, and by the time it was extinguished
they were in holes. This will give you some idea of Miss Mary’s energy.

Then there was Mr. Ford, one of the very best of our friends. He was a
sort of factotum of our father, and, like The Bishop in the “Bab
Ballads,” was “short and stout and round-about, and zealous as could
be.” We were very fond of trotting at his heels, and loved to pull him
about and tease him, which the good man never seemed to resent. Once,
however, we carried our teasing too far, as you shall hear. One day our
mother was sitting quietly at her writing, thinking that the children
were all happy and good, and possessing her soul in patience. Suddenly
to her appeared Julia, her hair flying, eyes wide open, mouth
ditto,--the picture of despair.

“Oh, Mamma!” gasped the child, “I have done the most dreadful thing! Oh,
the most dreadful, terrible thing!”

“What is it?” exclaimed our mother, dropping her pen in distress; “what
have you done, dear? Tell me quickly!”

“Oh, I cannot tell you!” sobbed the child; “I cannot!”

“Have you set the house on fire?” cried our mother.

“Oh, worse than that!” gasped poor Julia, “much worse!”

“Have you dropped the baby?”

“Worse than that!”

Now, there _was_ nothing worse than dropping the baby, so our mother
began to feel relieved.

“Tell me at once, Julia,” she said, “what you have done!”

“I--I--” sobbed poor Julia,--“I pulled--I pulled--off--Mr. Ford’s wig!”

There were few people we loved better than Tomty, the gardener. This
dear, good man must have been a martyr to our pranks, and the only
wonder is that he was able to do any gardening at all. It was “Tomty”
here and “Tomty” there, from morning till night. When Laura wanted her
bonnet-strings tied (oh, that odious little bonnet! with the rows of
pink and green quilled ribbon which was always coming off), she never
thought of going into the house to Mary, though Mary was good and kind
too,--she always ran to Tomty, who must “lay down the shovel and the
hoe,” and fashion bow-knots with his big, clumsy, good-natured fingers.
When Harry was playing out in the hot sun without a hat, and Mary called
to him to come in like a good boy and get his hat, did he go? Oh, no! He
tumbled the potatoes or apples out of Tomty’s basket, and put that on
his head instead of a hat, and it answered just as well.

Poor, dear Tomty! He went to California in later years, and was cruelly
murdered by some base wretches for the sake of a little money which he
had saved.

Somehow we had not very many friends of our own age. I suppose one
reason was that we were so many ourselves that there were always enough
to have a good time.

There were one or two little girls who used to go with us on the famous
maying-parties, which were great occasions. On May-day morning we would
take to ourselves baskets,--some full of goodies, some empty,--and start
for a pleasant wooded place not far from Green Peace. Here, on a sunny
slope where the savins grew not too thickly to prevent the sun from
shining merrily down on the mossy sward, we would pitch our tent (only
there was no tent), and prepare to be perfectly happy. We gathered such
early flowers as were to be found, and made garlands of them; we chose a
queen and crowned her; and then we had a feast, which was really the
object of the whole expedition.

It was the proper thing to buy certain viands for this feast, the home
dainties being considered not sufficiently rare.

Well, we ate our oranges and nibbled our cocoanut, and the older ones
drank the milk, if there was any in the nut: this was considered the
very height of luxury, and the little ones knew it was too much for
them to expect. I cannot remember whether we were generally ill after
these feasts, but I think it highly probable.

In mentioning our friends, is it right to pass over the good
“four-footers,” who were so patient with us, and bore with so many of
our vagaries? Can we ever forget Oggy the Steamboat, so called from the
loudness of her purring? Do not some of us still think with compunction
of the day when this good cat was put in a tin pan, and covered over
with a pot-lid, while on the lid was set her deadly enemy Ella, the fat
King Charles spaniel? What a snarling ensued! what growls, hisses,
yells, mingled with the clashing of tin and the “unseemly laughter” of
naughty children!

And Lion, the good Newfoundland dog, who let us ride on his back--when
he was in the mood, and tumbled us off when he was not! He was a dear
dog; but Fannie, his mate, was anything but amiable, and sometimes gave
sore offence to visitors by snapping at their heels and growling.

But if the cats and dogs suffered from us, we suffered from José! O
José! what a tyrannous little beast you were! Never was a brown donkey
prettier, I am quite sure; never did a brown donkey have his own way so

Whether a child could take a ride or not depended entirely on whether
José was in the mood for it. If not, he trotted a little way till he got
the child alone; and then he calmly rubbed off his rider against a tree
or fence, and trotted away to the stable. Of course this was when we
were very little; but by the time the little ones were big enough to
manage him José was dead; so some of us never “got even with him,” as
the boys say. When the dearest uncle in the world sent us the
donkey-carriage, things went better; for the obstinate little brown
gentleman could not get rid of that, of course, and there were many
delightful drives, with much jingling of harness and all manner of style
and splendor.

These were some of our friends, two-footers and four-footers. There were
many others, of course, but time and space fail to tell of them. After
all, perhaps they were just like other children’s friends. I must not
weary my readers by rambling on indefinitely in these long-untrodden
paths; but I wish other children could have heard Oggy purr!



Many interesting visitors came and went, both at Green Peace and the
Valley,--many more than I can recollect. The visit of Kossuth, the great
Hungarian patriot, made no impression upon me, as I was only a year old
when he came to this country; but there was a great reception for him at
Green Peace, and many people assembled to do honor to the brave man who
had tried so hard to free his country from the Austrian yoke, and had so
nearly succeeded. I remember a certain hat, which we younger children
firmly believed to have been his, though I have since been informed that
we were mistaken. At all events, we used to play with the hat (I wonder
whose it was!) under this impression, and it formed an important
element in “dressing up,” which was one of our chief delights.

One child would put on Kossuth’s hat, another Lord Byron’s helmet,--a
superb affair of steel and gold, which had been given to our father in
Greece, after Byron’s death (we ought not to have been allowed to touch
so precious a relic, far less to dress up in it!); while a third would
appropriate a charming little square Polish cap of fine scarlet, which
ought to have belonged to Thaddeus of Warsaw, but did not, I fear.

What pleasant things we had to dress up in! There was our father’s
wedding-coat, bright blue, with brass buttons; and the waistcoat he had
worn with it, white satin with raised velvet flowers,--such a fine
waistcoat! There were two embroidered crape gowns which had been our
grandmother’s, with waists a few inches long, and long, skimp skirts;
and the striped blue and yellow moiré, which our mother had worn in some
private theatricals,--that was beyond description! And the white gauze
with gold flounces--oh! and the peach-blossom silk with flowers all over

But this is a digression, and has nothing whatever to do with our
guests, who never played “dressing up,” that I can remember.

One of our most frequent visitors at Green Peace was the great statesman
and patriot, Charles Sumner. He was a very dear friend of our father,
and they loved to be together whenever the strenuous business of their
lives would permit.

We children used to call Mr. Sumner “the Harmless Giant;” and indeed he
was very kind to us, and had always a pleasant word for us in that deep,
melodious voice which no one, once hearing it, could ever forget. He
towered above us to what seemed an enormous height; yet we were told
that he stood six feet in his stockings,--no more. This impression being
made on Laura’s mind, she was used to employ the great senator as an
imaginary foot-rule (six-foot rule, I should say), and, until she was
almost a woman grown, would measure a thing in her own mind by saying
“two feet higher than Mr. Sumner,” or “twice as high as Mr. Summer,” as
the case might be. I can remember him carrying the baby Maud on his
shoulder, and bowing his lofty crest to pass through the doorway.
Sometimes his mother, Madam Sumner, came with him, a gracious and
charming old lady. I am told that on a day when she was spending an hour
at Green Peace, and sitting in the parlor window with our mother, Laura
felt it incumbent upon her to entertain the distinguished visitor; so,
being arrayed in her best white frock, she took up her station on the
gravel path below the window, and filling a little basket with gravel,
proceeded to pour it over her head, exclaiming, “Mit Humner! hee my
ektibiton!” This meant “exhibition.” Laura could not pronounce the
letter S in childhood’s happy hour. “Mamma,” she would say, if she saw
our mother look grave, “Id you had? Why id you had?” and then she would
bring a doll’s dish, or it might be a saucepan, and give it to her
mother and say, with infinite satisfaction, “Dere! ’mooge you’helf wid

Another ever welcome guest was John A. Andrew, the great War Governor,
as we loved to call him. He was not governor in those days,--that is,
when I first remember him; but he was then, as always, one of the most
delightful of men. Who else could tell a story with such exquisite
humor? The stories themselves were better than any others, but his way
of telling them set every word in gold. The very sound of his voice made
the air brighter and warmer, and his own delightful atmosphere of sunny
geniality went always with him. That was a wonderful evening when at one
of our parties some scenes from Thackeray’s “The Rose and the Ring” were
given. Our mother was Countess Gruffanuff, our father Kutasoff Hedzoff;
Governor Andrew took the part of Prince Bulbo, while Flossy made a
sprightly Angelica, and Julia as Betsinda was a vision of rarest beauty.
I cannot remember who was Prince Giglio, but the figure of Bulbo, with
closely curling hair, his fine face aglow with merriment, and the magic
rose in his buttonhole, comes distinctly before me.

Who were the guests at those dinner-parties so well remembered? Alas! I
know not. Great people they often were, famous men and women, who
talked, no doubt, brilliantly and delightfully. But is it their
conversation which lingers like a charm in my memory? Again, alas! my
recollection is of finger-bowls, crimson and purple, which sang beneath
the wetted finger of some kindly elder; of almonds and raisins, and
bonbons mystic, wonderful, all gauze and tinsel and silver paper, with
flat pieces of red sugar within. The red sugar was something of an
anticlimax after the splendors of its envelope, being insipidly sweet,
with no special flavor. The scent of coffee comes back to me, rich,
delicious, breathing of “the golden days of good Haroun Alraschid.” We
were never allowed to drink coffee or tea; but standing by our mother’s
chair, just before saying good-night, we received the most exquisite
dainty the world afforded,--a “coffee-duck,” which to the ignorant is
explained to be a lump of sugar dipped in coffee (black coffee, _bien
entendu_) and held in the amber liquid till it begins to melt in
delicious “honeycomb” (this was probably the true ambrosia of the gods);
and then we said good-night, and--and--went and begged the cook for a
“whip,” or some “floating-island,” or a piece of frosted cake! Was it
strange that occasionally, after one of these feasts, Laura could not
sleep, and was smitten with the “terror by night” (it was generally a
locomotive which was coming in at the window to annihilate her; Julia
was the one who used to weep at night for fear of foxes), and would come
trotting down into the lighted drawing-room, among all the silks and
satins, arrayed in the simple garment known as a “leg-nightgown,”
demanding her mother? Ay, and I remember that she always got her mother,

But these guests? I remember the great Professor Agassiz, with his wise,
kindly face and genial smile. I can see him putting sugar into his
coffee, lump after lump, till it stood up above the liquid like one of
his own glaciers. I remember all the “Abolition” leaders, for our own
parents were stanch Abolitionists, and worked heart and soul for the
cause of freedom. I remember when Swedish ships came into Boston Harbor,
probably for the express purpose of filling our parlors with fair-haired
officers, wonderful, magnificent, shining with epaulets and buttons.
There may have been other reasons for the visit; there may have been
deep political designs, and all manner of mysteries relating to the
peace of nations I know not. But I know that there was a little
midshipman in white trousers, who danced with Laura, and made her a bow
afterward and said, “I tanks you for de polska.” He was a dear little
midshipman! There was an admiral too, who corresponded more or less with
Southey’s description,--

    “And last of all an admiral came,
     A terrible man with a terrible name,--
     A name which, you all must know very well,
     Nobody can speak, and nobody can spell.”

The admiral said to Harry, “I understand you shall not go to sea in
future times?” and that is all I remember about him.

I remember Charlotte Cushman, the great actress and noble woman, who was
a dear friend of our mother; with a deep, vibrating, melodious voice,
and a strong, almost masculine face, which was full of wisdom and

I remember Edwin Booth, in the early days, when his brilliant genius and
the splendor of his melancholy beauty were taking all hearts by storm.
He was very shy, this all-powerful Richelieu, this conquering Richard,
this princely Hamlet. He came to a party given in his honor by our
mother, and instead of talking to all the fine people who were dying for
a word with him, he spent nearly the whole evening in a corner with
little Maud, who enjoyed herself immensely. What wonder, when he made
dolls for her out of handkerchiefs, and danced them with dramatic
fervor? She was very gracious to Mr. Booth, which was a good thing; for
one never knew just what Maud would say or do. Truth compels me to add
that she was the _enfant terrible_ of the family, and that the elders
always trembled when visitors noticed or caressed the beautiful child.

One day, I remember, a very wise and learned man came to Green Peace to
see our mother,--a man of high reputation, and withal a valued friend.
He was fond of children, and took Maud on his knee, meaning to have a
pleasant chat with her. But Maud fixed her great gray eyes on him, and
surveyed him with an air of keen and hostile criticism. “What makes all
those little red lines in your nose?” she asked, after an ominous
silence. Mr. H----, somewhat taken aback, explained as well as he could
the nature of the veins, and our mother was about to send the child on
some suddenly-bethought-of errand, when her clear, melodious voice broke
out again, relentless, insistent: “Do you know, I think you are the
ugliest man I ever saw in my life!” “That will do, Maud!” said Mr.
H----, putting her down from his knee. “You are charming, but you may go
now, my dear.” Then he and our mother both tried to become very much
interested in metaphysics; and next day he went and asked a mutual
friend if he were really the ugliest man that ever was seen, telling
her what Maud had said.

Again, there was a certain acquaintance--long since dead--who was in the
habit of making interminable calls at Green Peace, and who would talk by
the hour together without pausing. Our parents were often wearied by
this gentleman’s conversational powers, and one of them (let this be a
warning to young and old) chanced one day to speak of him in Maud’s
hearing as “a great bore.” This was enough! The next time the unlucky
talker appeared, the child ran up to him, and greeted him cordially
with, “How do you do, bore? Oh, you great bore!” A quick-witted friend
who was in the room instantly asked Mr. S---- if he had seen the copy of
Snyder’s “Boar Hunt” which our father had lately bought, thinking it
better that he should fancy himself addressed as a beast of the forest
than as _Borus humanus_; but he kept his own counsel, and we never knew
what he really thought of Maud’s greeting.

But of all visitors at either house, there was one whom we loved more
than all others put together. Marked with a white stone was the happy
day which brought the wonderful uncle, the fairy godfather, the
realization of all that is delightful in man, to Green Peace or the
Valley. Uncle Sam Ward!--uncle by adoption to half the young people he
knew, but our very own uncle, our mother’s beloved brother. We might
have said to him, with Shelley,--

    “Rarely, rarely comest thou,
     Spirit of delight!”

for he was a busy man, and Washington was a long way off; but when he
did come, as I said, it was a golden day. We fairly smothered him,--each
child wanting to sit on his knee, to see his great watch, and the
wonderful sapphire that he always wore on his little finger. Then he
must sing for us; and he would sing the old Studenten Lieder in his
full, joyous voice; but he must always wind up with “Balzoroschko
Schnego” (at least that is what it sounded like), a certain Polish
drinking-song, in which he sneezed and yodeled, and did all kinds of
wonderful things.

Then would come an hour of quiet talk with our mother, when we knew
enough to be silent and listen,--feeling, perhaps, rather than realizing
that it was not a common privilege to listen to such talk.

“No matter how much I may differ from Sam Ward in principles or
opinion,” said Charles Sumner once, “when I have been with him five
minutes, I forget everything except that he is the most delightful man
in the world.”

Again (but this was the least part of the pleasure), he never came
empty-handed. Now it was a basket of wonderful peaches, which he thought
might rival ours; now a gold bracelet for a niece’s wrist; now a
beautiful book, or a pretty dress-pattern that had caught his eye in
some shop-window. Now he came direct from South America, bringing for
our mother a silver pitcher which he had won as a prize at a
shooting-match in Paraguay. One of us will never forget being waked in
the gray dawn of a summer morning at the Valley, by the sound of a
voice singing outside,--will never forget creeping to the window and
peeping out through the blinds. There on the door-step stood the fairy
uncle, with a great basket of peaches beside him; and he was singing the
lovely old French song, which has always since then seemed to me to
belong to him:

    “Noble Châtelaine,
     Voyez notre peine,
     Et dans vos domaines
     Rendez charité!
     Voyez le disgrace
     Qui nous menace,
     Et donnez, par grace,
     Toi que je révère,
     Entends ma prière.
     O Dieu tutelaire,
     Viens dans ta bonte,
     Pour sauver l’innocence,
     Et que ta puissance
     Un jour recompense

There is no sweeter song. And do you think we did not tumble into our
clothes and rush down, in wrappers, in petticoats, in whatever gown
could be most quickly put on, and unbar the door, and bring the dear
wanderer in, with joyful cries, with laughter, almost with tears of pure

All, that was “long ago and long ago;” and now the kind uncle, the great
heart that overflowed with love and charity and goodwill to all human
kind, has passed through another door, and will not return! Be sure that
on knocking at that white portal, he found hospitality within.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now it is time that these rambling notes should draw to a close.
There are many things that I might still speak of. But, after all, long
ago _is_ long ago, and these glimpses of our happy childhood must
necessarily be fragmentary and brief. I trust they may have given
pleasure to some children. I wish all childhood might be as bright, as
happy, as free from care or sorrow, as was ours.



[1] I find it to be stone clover.

[2] In the book entitled “Queen Hildegarde.”

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