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As We Go by Charles Dudley Warner

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AS WE GO

By Charles Dudley Warner

CONTENTS: (28 short studies)

OUR PRESIDENT
THE NEWSPAPER-MADE MAN
INTERESTING GIRLS
GIVE THE MEN A CHANCE
THE ADVENT OF CANDOR
THE AMERICAN MAN
THE ELECTRIC WAY
CAN A HUSBAND OPEN HIS WIFE'S LETTERS?
A LEISURE CLASS
WEATHER AND CHARACTER
BORN WITH AN "EGO"
JUVENTUS MUNDI
A BEAUTIFUL OLD AGE
THE ATTRACTION OF THE REPULSIVE
GIVING AS A LUXURY
CLIMATE AND HAPPINESS
THE NEW FEMININE RESERVE
REPOSE IN ACTIVITY
WOMEN--IDEAL AND REAL
THE ART OF IDLENESS
IS THERE ANY CONVERSATION
THE TALL GIRL
THE DEADLY DIARY
THE WHISTLING GIRL
BORN OLD AND RICH
THE "OLD SOLDIER"
THE ISLAND OF BIMINI
JUNE

OUR PRESIDENT

We are so much accustomed to kings and queens and other privileged
persons of that sort in this world that it is only on reflection that we
wonder how they became so. The mystery is not their continuance, but how
did they get a start? We take little help from studying the bees--
originally no one could have been born a queen. There must have been not
only a selection, but an election, not by ballot, but by consent some way
expressed, and the privileged persons got their positions because they
were the strongest, or the wisest, or the most cunning. But the
descendants of these privileged persons hold the same positions when they
are neither strong, nor wise, nor very cunning. This also is a mystery.
The persistence of privilege is an unexplained thing in human affairs,
and the consent of mankind to be led in government and in fashion by
those to whom none of the original conditions of leadership attach is a
philosophical anomaly. How many of the living occupants of thrones,
dukedoms, earldoms, and such high places are in position on their own
merits, or would be put there by common consent? Referring their origin
to some sort of an election, their continuance seems to rest simply on
forbearance. Here in America we are trying a new experiment; we have
adopted the principle of election, but we have supplemented it with the
equally authoritative right of deposition. And it is interesting to see
how it has worked for a hundred years, for it is human nature to like to
be set up, but not to like to be set down. If in our elections we do not
always get the best--perhaps few elections ever did--we at least do not
perpetuate forever in privilege our mistakes or our good hits.

The celebration in New York, in 1889, of the inauguration of Washington
was an instructive spectacle. How much of privilege had been gathered
and perpetuated in a century? Was it not an occasion that emphasized our
republican democracy? Two things were conspicuous. One was that we did
not honor a family, or a dynasty, or a title, but a character; and the
other was that we did not exalt any living man, but simply the office of
President. It was a demonstration of the power of the people to create
their own royalty, and then to put it aside when they have done with it.
It was difficult to see how greater honors could have been paid to any
man than were given to the President when he embarked at Elizabethport
and advanced, through a harbor crowded with decorated vessels, to the
great city, the wharves and roofs of which were black with human beings
--a holiday city which shook with the tumult of the popular welcome.
Wherever he went he drew the swarms in the streets as the moon draws the
tide. Republican simplicity need not fear comparison with any royal
pageant when the President was received at the Metropolitan, and, in a
scene of beauty and opulence that might be the flowering of a thousand
years instead of a century, stood upon the steps of the "dais" to greet
the devoted Centennial Quadrille, which passed before him with the
courageous five, 'Imperator, morituri te salutamus'. We had done it--we,
the people; that was our royalty. Nobody had imposed it on us. It was
not even selected out of four hundred. We had taken one of the common
people and set him up there, creating for the moment also a sort of royal
family and a court for a background, in a splendor just as imposing for
the passing hour as an imperial spectacle. We like to show that we can
do it, and we like to show also that we can undo it. For at the banquet,
where the Elected ate his dinner, not only in the presence of, but with,
representatives of all the people of all the States, looked down on by
the acknowledged higher power in American life, there sat also with him
two men who had lately been in his great position, the centre only a
little while ago, as he was at the moment, of every eye in the republic,
now only common citizens without a title, without any insignia of rank,
able to transmit to posterity no family privilege. If our hearts swelled
with pride that we could create something just as good as royalty, that
the republic had as many men of distinguished appearance, as much beauty,
and as much brilliance of display as any traditional government, we also
felicitated ourselves that we could sweep it all away by a vote and
reproduce it with new actors next day.

It must be confessed that it was a people's affair. If at any time there
was any idea that it could be controlled only by those who represented
names honored for a hundred years, or conspicuous by any social
privilege, the idea was swamped in popular feeling. The names that had
been elected a hundred years ago did not stay elected unless the present
owners were able to distinguish themselves. There is nothing so to be
coveted in a country as the perpetuity of honorable names, and the
"centennial" showed that we are rich in those that have been honorably
borne, but it also showed that the century has gathered no privilege that
can count upon permanence.

But there is another aspect of the situation that is quite as serious and
satisfactory. Now that the ladies of the present are coming to dress as
ladies dressed a hundred years ago, we can make an adequate comparison of
beauty. Heaven forbid that we should disparage the women of the
Revolutionary period! They looked as well as they could under all the
circumstances of a new country and the hardships of an early settlement.
Some of them looked exceedingly well--there were beauties in those days
as there were giants in Old Testament times. The portraits that have
come down to us of some of them excite our admiration, and indeed we have
a sort of tradition of the loveliness of the women of that remote period.
The gallant men of the time exalted them. Yet it must be admitted by any
one who witnessed the public and private gatherings of April, 1889, in
New York, contributed to as they were by women from every State, and who
is unprejudiced by family associations, that the women of America seem
vastly improved in personal appearance since the days when George
Washington was a lover: that is to say, the number of beautiful women is
greater in proportion to the population, and their beauty and charm are
not inferior to those which have been so much extolled in the
Revolutionary time. There is no doubt that if George Washington could
have been at the Metropolitan ball he would have acknowledged this, and
that while he might have had misgivings about some of our political
methods, he would have been more proud than ever to be still acknowledged
the Father of his Country.

THE NEWSPAPER-MADE MAN

A fair correspondent--has the phrase an old-time sound?--thinks we should
pay more attention to men. In a revolutionary time, when great questions
are in issue, minor matters, which may nevertheless be very important,
are apt to escape the consideration they deserve. We share our
correspondent's interest in men, but must plead the pressure of
circumstances. When there are so many Woman's Journals devoted to the
wants and aspirations of women alone, it is perhaps time to think of
having a Man's journal, which should try to keep his head above-water in
the struggle for social supremacy. When almost every number of the
leading periodicals has a paper about Woman--written probably by a woman
--Woman Today, Woman Yesterday, Woman Tomorrow; when the inquiry is daily
made in the press as to what is expected of woman, and the new
requirements laid upon her by reason of her opportunities, her entrance
into various occupations, her education--the impartial observer is likely
to be confused, if he is not swept away by the rising tide of femininity
in modern life.

But this very superiority of interest in the future of women is a warning
to man to look about him, and see where in this tide he is going to land,
if he will float or go ashore, and what will be his character and his
position in the new social order. It will not do for him to sit on the
stump of one of his prerogatives that woman has felled, and say with
Brahma, "They reckon ill who leave me out," for in the day of the
Subjection of Man it may be little consolation that he is left in.

It must be confessed that man has had a long inning. Perhaps it is true
that he owed this to his physical strength, and that he will only keep it
hereafter by intellectual superiority, by the dominance of mind. And how
in this generation is he equipping himself for the future? He is the
money-making animal. That is beyond dispute. Never before were there
such business men as this generation can show--Napoleons of finance,
Alexanders of adventure, Shakespeares of speculation, Porsons of
accumulation. He is great in his field, but is he leaving the
intellectual province to woman? Does he read as much as she does? Is he
becoming anything but a newspaper-made person? Is his mind getting to be
like the newspaper? Speaking generally of the mass of business men--and
the mass are business men in this country--have they any habit of reading
books? They have clubs, to be sure, but of what sort? With the
exception of a conversation club here and there, and a literary club,
more or less perfunctory, are they not mostly social clubs for comfort
and idle lounging, many of them known, as other workmen are, by their
"chips"? What sort of a book would a member make out of "Chips from my
Workshop"? Do the young men, to any extent, join in Browning clubs and
Shakespeare clubs and Dante clubs? Do they meet for the study of
history, of authors, of literary periods, for reading, and discussing
what they read? Do they in concert dig in the encyclopaedias, and write
papers about the correlation of forces, and about Savonarola, and about
the Three Kings? In fact, what sort of a hand would the Three Kings
suggest to them? In the large cities the women's clubs, pursuing
literature, art, languages, botany, history, geography, geology,
mythology, are innumerable. And there is hardly a village in the land
that has not from one to six clubs of young girls who meet once a week
for some intellectual purpose. What are the young men of the villages
and the cities doing meantime? How are they preparing to meet socially
these young ladies who are cultivating their minds? Are they adapting
themselves to the new conditions? Or are they counting, as they always
have done, on the adaptability of women, on the facility with which the
members of the bright sex can interest themselves in base-ball and the
speed of horses and the chances of the "street"? Is it comfortable for
the young man, when the talk is about the last notable book, or the
philosophy of the popular poet or novelist, to feel that laughing eyes
are sounding his ignorance?

Man is a noble creation, and he has fine and sturdy qualities which
command the admiration of the other sex, but how will it be when that
sex, by reason of superior acquirements, is able to look down on him
intellectually? It used to be said that women are what men wish to have
them, that they endeavored to be the kind of women who would win
masculine admiration. How will it be if women have determined to make
themselves what it pleases them to be, and to cultivate their powers in
the expectation of pleasing men, if they indulge any such expectation, by
their higher qualities only? This is not a fanciful possibility. It is
one that young men will do well to ponder. It is easy to ridicule the
literary and economic and historical societies, and the naive courage
with which young women in them attack the gravest problems, and to say
that they are only a passing fashion, like decorative art and a mode of
dress. But a fashion is not to be underestimated; and when a fashion
continues and spreads like this one, it is significant of a great change
going on in society. And it is to be noticed that this fashion is
accompanied by other phenomena as interesting. There is scarcely an
occupation, once confined almost exclusively to men, in which women are
not now conspicuous. Never before were there so many women who are
superior musicians, performers themselves and organizers of musical
societies; never before so many women who can draw well; never so many
who are successful in literature, who write stories, translate, compile,
and are acceptable workers in magazines and in publishing houses; and
never before were so many women reading good books, and thinking about
them, and talking about them, and trying to apply the lessons in them to
the problems of their own lives, which are seen not to end with marriage.
A great deal of this activity, crude much of it, is on the intellectual
side, and must tell strongly by-and-by in the position of women. And the
young men will take notice that it is the intellectual force that must
dominate in life.

INTERESTING GIRLS

It seems hardly worth while to say that this would be a more interesting
country if there were more interesting people in it. But the remark is
worth consideration in a land where things are so much estimated by what
they cost. It is a very expensive country, especially so in the matter
of education, and one cannot but reflect whether the result is in
proportion to the outlay. It costs a great many thousands of dollars and
over four years of time to produce a really good base-ball player, and
the time and money invested in the production of a society young woman
are not less. No complaint is made of the cost of these schools of the
higher education; the point is whether they produce interesting people.
Of course all women are interesting. It has got pretty well noised about
the world that American women are, on the whole, more interesting than
any others. This statement is not made boastfully, but simply as a
market quotation, as one might say. They are sought for; they rule high.
They have a "way"; they know how to be fascinating, to be agreeable; they
unite freedom of manner with modesty of behavior; they are apt to have
beauty, and if they have not, they know how to make others think they
have. Probably the Greek girls in their highest development under
Phidias were never so attractive as the American girls of this period;
and if we had a Phidias who could put their charms in marble, all the
antique galleries would close up and go out of business.

But it must be understood that in regard to them, as to the dictionaries,
it is necessary to "get the best." Not all women are equally
interesting, and some of those on whom most educational money is lavished
are the least so. It can be said broadly that everybody is interesting
up to a certain point. There is no human being from whom the inquiring
mind cannot learn something. It is so with women. Some are interesting
for five minutes, some for ten, some for an hour; some are not exhausted
in a whole day; and some (and this shows the signal leniency of
Providence) are perennially entertaining, even in the presence of
masculine stupidity. Of course the radical trouble of this world is that
there are not more people who are interesting comrades, day in and day
out, for a lifetime. It is greatly to the credit of American women that
so many of them have this quality, and have developed it, unprotected, in
free competition with all countries which have been pouring in women
without the least duty laid upon their grace or beauty. We, have a
tariff upon knowledge--we try to shut out all of that by a duty on books;
we have a tariff on piety and intelligence in a duty on clergymen; we try
to exclude art by a levy on it; but we have never excluded the raw
material of beauty, and the result is that we can successfully compete in
the markets of the world.

This, however, is a digression. The reader wants to know what this
quality of being interesting has to do with girls' schools. It is
admitted that if one goes into a new place he estimates the agreeableness
of it according to the number of people it contains with whom it is a
pleasure to converse, who have either the ability to talk well or the
intelligence to listen appreciatingly even if deceivingly, whose society
has the beguiling charm that makes even natural scenery satisfactory. It
is admitted also that in our day the burden of this end of life, making
it agreeable, is mainly thrown upon women. Men make their business an
excuse for not being entertaining, or the few who cultivate the mind
(aside from the politicians, who always try to be winning) scarcely think
it worth while to contribute anything to make society bright and
engaging. Now if the girls' schools and colleges, technical and other,
merely add to the number of people who have practical training and
knowledge without personal charm, what becomes of social life? We are
impressed with the excellence of the schools and colleges for women--
impressed also with the co-educating institutions. There is no sight
more inspiring than an assemblage of four or five hundred young women
attacking literature, science, and all the arts. The grace and courage
of the attack alone are worth all it costs. All the arts and science and
literature are benefited, but one of the chief purposes that should be in
view is unattained if the young women are not made more interesting, both
to themselves and to others. Ability to earn an independent living may
be conceded to be important, health is indispensable, and beauty of face
and form are desirable; knowledge is priceless, and unselfish amiability
is above the price of rubies; but how shall we set a value, so far as the
pleasure of living is concerned, upon the power to be interesting? We
hear a good deal about the highly educated young woman with reverence,
about the emancipated young woman with fear and trembling, but what can
take the place of the interesting woman? Anxiety is this moment
agitating the minds of tens of thousands of mothers about the education
of their daughters. Suppose their education should be directed to the
purpose of making them interesting women, what a fascinating country this
would be about the year 1900.

GIVE THE MEN A CHANCE

Give the men a chance. Upon the young women of America lies a great
responsibility. The next generation will be pretty much what they choose
to make it; and what are they doing for the elevation of young men? It
is true that there are the colleges for men, which still perform a good
work--though some of them run a good deal more to a top-dressing of
accomplishments than to a sub-soiling of discipline--but these colleges
reach comparatively few. There remain the great mass who are devoted to
business and pleasure, and only get such intellectual cultivation as
society gives them or they chance to pick up in current publications.
The young women are the leisure class, consequently--so we hear--the
cultivated class. Taking a certain large proportion of our society, the
women in it toil not, neither do they spin; they do little or no domestic
work; they engage in no productive occupation. They are set apart for a
high and ennobling service--the cultivation of the mind and the rescue of
society from materialism. They are the influence that keeps life
elevated and sweet--are they not? For what other purpose are they set
apart in elegant leisure? And nobly do they climb up to the duties of
their position. They associate together in esoteric, intellectual
societies. Every one is a part of many clubs, the object of which is
knowledge and the broadening of the intellectual horizon. Science,
languages, literature, are their daily food. They can speak in tongues;
they can talk about the solar spectrum; they can interpret Chaucer,
criticise Shakespeare, understand Browning. There is no literature,
ancient or modern, that they do not dig up by the roots and turn over, no
history that they do not drag before the club for final judgment. In
every little village there is this intellectual stir and excitement; why,
even in New York, readings interfere with the german;--['Dances', likely
referring to the productions of the Straus family in Vienna. D.W.]--and
Boston! Boston is no longer divided into wards, but into Browning
"sections."

All this is mainly the work of women. The men are sometimes admitted,
are even hired to perform and be encouraged and criticised; that is, men
who are already highly cultivated, or who are in sympathy with the noble
feminization of the age. It is a glorious movement. Its professed
object is to give an intellectual lift to society. And no doubt, unless
all reports are exaggerated, it is making our great leisure class of
women highly intellectual beings. But, encouraging as this prospect is,
it gives us pause. Who are these young women to associate with? with
whom are they to hold high converse? For life is a two-fold affair. And
meantime what is being done for the young men who are expected to share
in the high society of the future? Will not the young women by-and-by
find themselves in a lonesome place, cultivated away beyond their natural
comrades? Where will they spend their evenings? This sobering thought
suggests a duty that the young women are neglecting. We refer to the
education of the young men. It is all very well for them to form clubs
for their own advancement, and they ought not to incur the charge of
selfishness in so doing; but how much better would they fulfill their
mission if they would form special societies for the cultivation of young
men!--sort of intellectual mission bands. Bring them into the literary
circle. Make it attractive for them. Women with their attractions, not
to speak of their wiles, can do anything they set out to do. They can
elevate the entire present generation of young men, if they give their
minds to it, to care for the intellectual pursuits they care for. Give
the men a chance, and----

Musing along in this way we are suddenly pulled up by the reflection that
it is impossible to make an unqualified statement that is wholly true
about anything. What chance have I, anyway? inquires the young man who
thinks sometimes and occasionally wants to read. What sort of leading-
strings are these that I am getting into? Look at the drift of things.
Is the feminization of the world a desirable thing for a vigorous future?
Are the women, or are they not, taking all the virility out of
literature? Answer me that. All the novels are written by, for, or
about women--brought to their standard. Even Henry James, who studies
the sex untiringly, speaks about the "feminization of literature." They
write most of the newspaper correspondence--and write it for women. They
are even trying to feminize the colleges. Granted that woman is the
superior being; all the more, what chance is there for man if this sort
of thing goes on? Are you going to make a race of men on feminine
fodder? And here is the still more perplexing part of it. Unless all
analysis of the female heart is a delusion, and all history false, what
women like most of all things in this world is a Man, virile, forceful,
compelling, a solid rock of dependence, a substantial unfeminine being,
whom it is some satisfaction and glory and interest to govern and rule in
the right way, and twist round the feminine finger. If women should
succeed in reducing or raising--of course raising--men to the feminine
standard, by feminizing society, literature, the colleges, and all that,
would they not turn on their creations--for even the Bible intimates that
women are uncertain and go in search of a Man? It is this sort of blind
instinct of the young man for preserving himself in the world that makes
him so inaccessible to the good he might get from the prevailing culture
of the leisure class.

THE ADVENT OF CANDOR

Those who are anxious about the fate of Christmas, whether it is not
becoming too worldly and too expensive a holiday to be indulged in except
by the very poor, mark with pleasure any indications that the true spirit
of the day--brotherhood and self-abnegation and charity--is infusing
itself into modern society. The sentimental Christmas of thirty years
ago could not last; in time the manufactured jollity got to be more
tedious and a greater strain on the feelings than any misfortune
happening to one's neighbor. Even for a day it was very difficult to
buzz about in the cheery manner prescribed, and the reaction put human
nature in a bad light. Nor was it much better when gradually the day
became one of Great Expectations, and the sweet spirit of it was quenched
in worry or soured in disappointment. It began to take on the aspect of
a great lottery, in which one class expected to draw in reverse
proportion to what it put in, and another class knew that it would only
reap as it had sowed. The day, blessed in its origin, and meaningless if
there is a grain of selfishness in it, was thus likely to become a sort
of Clearing-house of all obligations and assume a commercial aspect that
took the heart out of it--like the enormous receptions for paying social
debts which take the place of the old-fashioned hospitality. Everybody
knew, meantime, that the spirit of good-will, the grace of universal
sympathy, was really growing in the world, and that it was only our
awkwardness that, by striving to cram it all for a year into twenty-four
hours, made it seem a little farcical. And everybody knows that when
goodness becomes fashionable, goodness is likely to suffer a little. A
virtue overdone falls on t'other side. And a holiday that takes on such
proportions that the Express companies and the Post-office cannot handle
it is in danger of a collapse. In consideration of these things, and
because, as has been pointed out year after year, Christmas is becoming a
burden, the load of which is looked forward to with apprehension--and
back on with nervous prostration--fear has been expressed that the
dearest of all holidays in Christian lands would have to go again under a
sort of Puritan protest, or into a retreat for rest and purification.
We are enabled to announce for the encouragement of the single-minded in
this best of all days, at the close of a year which it is best not to
characterize, that those who stand upon the social watch-towers in Europe
and America begin to see a light--or, it would be better to say, to
perceive a spirit--in society which is likely to change many things, and;
among others, to work a return of Christian simplicity. As might be
expected in these days, the spirit is exhibited in the sex which is first
at the wedding and last in the hospital ward. And as might have been
expected, also, this spirit is shown by the young woman of the period, in
whose hands are the issues of the future. If she preserve her present
mind long enough, Christmas will become a day that will satisfy every
human being, for the purpose of the young woman will pervade it. The
tendency of the young woman generally to simplicity, of the American
young woman to a certain restraint (at least when abroad), to a deference
to her elders, and to tradition, has been noted. The present phenomenon
is quite beyond this, and more radical. It is, one may venture to say,
an attempt to conform the inner being to the outward simplicity. If one
could suspect the young woman of taking up any line not original, it
might be guessed that the present fashion (which is bewildering the most
worldly men with a new and irresistible fascination) was set by the self-
revelations of Marie Bashkirtseff. Very likely, however, it was a new
spirit in the world, of which Marie was the first publishing example.
Its note is self-analysis, searching, unsparing, leaving no room for the
deception of self or of the world. Its leading feature is extreme
candor. It is not enough to tell the truth (that has been told before);
but one must act and tell the whole truth. One does not put on the shirt
front and the standing collar and the knotted cravat of the other sex as
a mere form; it is an act of consecration, of rigid, simple come-out-ness
into the light of truth. This noble candor will suffer no concealments.
She would not have her lover even, still more the general world of men,
think she is better, or rather other, than she is. Not that she would
like to appear a man among men, far from that; but she wishes to talk
with candor and be talked to candidly, without taking advantage of that
false shelter of sex behind which women have been accused of dodging. If
she is nothing else, she is sincere, one might say wantonly sincere. And
this lucid, candid inner life is reflected in her dress. This is not
only simple in its form, in its lines; it is severe. To go into the shop
of a European modiste is almost to put one's self into a truthful and
candid frame of mind. Those leave frivolous ideas behind who enter here.
The 'modiste' will tell the philosopher that it is now the fashion to be
severe; in a word, it is 'fesch'. Nothing can go beyond that. And it
symbolizes the whole life, its self-examination, earnestness, utmost
candor in speech and conduct.

The statesman who is busy about his tariff and his reciprocity, and his
endeavor to raise money like potatoes, may little heed and much
undervalue this advent of candor into the world as a social force. But
the philosopher will make no such mistake. He knows that they who build
without woman build in vain, and that she is the great regenerator, as
she is the great destroyer. He knows too much to disregard the gravity
of any fashionable movement. He knows that there is no power on earth
that can prevent the return of the long skirt. And that if the young
woman has decided to be severe and candid and frank with herself and in
her intercourse with others, we must submit and thank God.

And what a gift to the world is this for the Christmas season! The
clear-eyed young woman of the future, always dear and often an anxiety,
will this year be an object of enthusiasm.

THE AMERICAN MAN

The American man only develops himself and spreads himself and grows "for
all he is worth" in the Great West. He is more free and limber there,
and unfolds those generous peculiarities and largenesses of humanity
which never blossomed before. The "environment" has much to do with it.
The great spaces over which he roams contribute to the enlargement of his
mental horizon. There have been races before who roamed the illimitable
desert, but they traveled on foot or on camelback, and were limited in
their range. There was nothing continental about them, as there is about
our railway desert travelers, who swing along through thousands of miles
of sand and sage-bush with a growing contempt for time and space. But
expansive and great as these people have become under the new conditions,
we have a fancy that the development of the race has only just begun, and
that the future will show us in perfection a kind of man new to the
world. Out somewhere on the Santa Fe route, where the desert of one day
was like the desert of the day before, and the Pullman car rolls and
swings over the wide waste beneath the blue sky day after day, under its
black flag of smoke, in the early gray of morning, when the men were
waiting their turns at the ablution bowls, a slip of a boy, perhaps aged
seven, stood balancing himself on his little legs, clad in knicker-
bockers, biding his time, with all the nonchalance of an old campaigner.
"How did you sleep, cap?" asked a well-meaning elderly gentleman." Well,
thank you," was the dignified response; "as I always do on a sleeping-
car." Always does? Great horrors! Hardly out of his swaddling-clothes,
and yet he always sleeps well in a sleeper! Was he born on the wheels?
was he cradled in a Pullman? He has always been in motion, probably; he
was started at thirty miles an hour, no doubt, this marvelous boy of our
new era. He was not born in a house at rest, but the locomotive snatched
him along with a shriek and a roar before his eyes were fairly open, and
he was rocked in a "section," and his first sensation of life was that of
moving rapidly over vast arid spaces, through cattle ranges and along
canons. The effect of quick and easy locomotion on character may have
been noted before, but it seems that here is the production of a new sort
of man, the direct product of our railway era. It is not simply that
this boy is mature, but he must be a different and a nobler sort of boy
than one born, say, at home or on a canal-boat; for, whether he was born
on the rail or not, he belongs to the railway system of civilization.
Before he gets into trousers he is old in experience, and he has
discounted many of the novelties that usually break gradually on the
pilgrim in this world. He belongs to the new expansive race that must
live in motion, whose proper home is the Pullman (which will probably be
improved in time into a dustless, sweet-smelling, well-aired bedroom),
and whose domestic life will be on the wing, so to speak. The Inter-
State Commerce Bill will pass him along without friction from end to end
of the Union, and perhaps a uniform divorce law will enable him to change
his marital relations at any place where he happens to dine. This
promising lad is only a faint intimation of what we are all coming to
when we fully acquire the freedom of the continent, and come into that
expansiveness of feeling and of language which characterizes the Great
West. It is a burst of joyous exuberance that comes from the sense of an
illimitable horizon. It shows itself in the tender words of a local
newspaper at Bowie, Arizona, on the death of a beloved citizen: "'Death
loves a shining mark,' and she hit a dandy when she turned loose on Jim."
And also in the closing words of a New Mexico obituary, which the Kansas
Magazine quotes: "Her tired spirit was released from the pain-racking
body and soared aloft to eternal glory at 4.30 Denver time." We die, as
it were, in motion, as we sleep, and there is nowhere any boundary to our
expansion. Perhaps we shall never again know any rest as we now
understand the term--rest being only change of motion--and we shall not
be able to sleep except on the cars, and whether we die by Denver time or
by the 90th meridian, we shall only change our time. Blessed be this
slip of a boy who is a man before he is an infant, and teaches us what
rapid transit can do for our race! The only thing that can possibly
hinder us in our progress will be second childhood; we have abolished
first.

THE ELECTRIC WAY

We are quite in the electric way. We boast that we have made electricity
our slave, but the slave whom we do not understand is our master. And
before we know him we shall be transformed. Mr. Edison proposes to send
us over the country at the rate of one hundred miles an hour. This
pleases us, because we fancy we shall save time, and because we are
taught that the chief object in life is to "get there" quickly. We
really have an idea that it is a gain to annihilate distance, forgetting
that as a matter of personal experience we are already too near most
people. But this speed by rail will enable us to live in Philadelphia
and do business in New York. It will make the city of Chicago two
hundred miles square. And the bigger Chicago is, the more important this
world becomes. This pleasing anticipation--that of traveling by
lightning, and all being huddled together--is nothing to the promised
universal illumination by a diffused light that shall make midnight as
bright as noonday. We shall then save all the time there is, and at the
age of thirty-five have lived the allotted seventy years, and long, if
not for 'Gotterdammerung', at least for some world where, by touching a
button, we can discharge our limbs of electricity and take a little
repose. The most restless and ambitious of us can hardly conceive of
Chicago as a desirable future state of existence.

This, however, is only the external or superficial view of the subject;
at the best it is only symbolical. Mr. Edison is wasting his time in
objective experiments, while we are in the deepest ignorance as to our
electric personality or our personal electricity. We begin to apprehend
that we are electric beings, that these outward manifestations of a
subtile form are only hints of our internal state. Mr. Edison should
turn his attention from physics to humanity electrically considered in
its social condition. We have heard a great deal about affinities. We
are told that one person is positive and another negative, and that
representing socially opposite poles they should come together and make
an electric harmony, that two positives or two negatives repel each
other, and if conventionally united end in divorce, and so on. We read
that such a man is magnetic, meaning that he can poll a great many votes;
or that such a woman thrilled her audience, meaning probably that they
were in an electric condition to be shocked by her. Now this is what we
want to find out--to know if persons are really magnetic or sympathetic,
and how to tell whether a person is positive or negative. In politics we
are quite at sea. What is the good of sending a man to Washington at the
rate of a hundred miles an hour if we are uncertain of his electric
state? The ideal House of Representatives ought to be pretty nearly
balanced--half positive, half negative. Some Congresses seem to be made
up pretty much of negatives. The time for the electrician to test the
candidate is before he is put in nomination, not dump him into Congress
as we do now, utterly ignorant of whether his currents run from his heels
to his head or from his head to his heels, uncertain, indeed, as to
whether he has magnetism to run in at all. Nothing could be more
unscientific than the process and the result.

In social life it is infinitely worse. You, an electric unmarried man,
enter a room full of attractive women. How are you to know who is
positive and who is negative, or who is a maiden lady in equilibrium, if
it be true, as scientists affirm, that the genus old maid is one in whom
the positive currents neutralize the negative currents? Your affinity is
perhaps the plainest woman in the room. But beauty is a juggling sprite,
entirely uncontrolled by electricity, and you are quite likely to make a
mistake. It is absurd the way we blunder on in a scientific age. We
touch a button, and are married. The judge touches another button, and
we are divorced. If when we touched the first button it revealed us both
negatives, we should start back in horror, for it is only before
engagement that two negatives make an affirmative. That is the reason
that some clergymen refuse to marry a divorced woman; they see that she
has made one electric mistake, and fear she will make another. It is all
very well for the officiating clergyman to ask the two intending to
commit matrimony if they have a license from the town clerk, if they are
of age or have the consent of parents, and have a million; but the vital
point is omitted. Are they electric affinities? It should be the duty
of the town-clerk, by a battery, or by some means to be discovered by
electricians, to find out the galvanic habit of the parties, their
prevailing electric condition. Temporarily they may seem to be in
harmony, and may deceive themselves into the belief that they are at
opposite poles equidistant from the equator, and certain to meet on that
imaginary line in matrimonial bliss. Dreadful will be the awakening to
an insipid life, if they find they both have the same sort of currents.
It is said that women change their minds and their dispositions, that men
are fickle, and that both give way after marriage to natural inclinations
that were suppressed while they were on the good behavior that the
supposed necessity of getting married imposes. This is so notoriously
true that it ought to create a public panic. But there is hope in the
new light. If we understand it, persons are born in a certain electrical
condition, and substantially continue in it, however much they may
apparently wobble about under the influence of infirm minds and acquired
wickedness. There are, of course, variations of the compass to be
reckoned with, and the magnet may occasionally be bewitched by near and
powerful attracting objects. But, on the whole, the magnet remains the
same, and it is probable that a person's normal electric condition is the
thing in him least liable to dangerous variation. If this be true, the
best basis for matrimony is the electric, and our social life would have
fewer disappointments if men and women went about labeled with their
scientifically ascertained electric qualities.

CAN A HUSBAND OPEN HIS WIFE'S LETTERS?

Can a husband open his wife's letters? That would depend, many would
say, upon what kind of a husband he is. But it cannot be put aside in
that flippant manner, for it is a legal right that is in question, and it
has recently been decided in a Paris tribunal that the husband has the,
right to open the letters addressed to his wife. Of course in America an
appeal would instantly be taken from this decision, and perhaps by
husbands themselves; for in this world rights are becoming so impartially
distributed that this privilege granted to the husband might at once be
extended to the wife, and she would read all his business correspondence,
and his business is sometimes various and complicated. The Paris
decision must be based upon the familiar formula that man and wife are
one, and that that one is the husband. If a man has the right to read
all the letters written to his wife, being his property by reason of his
ownership of her, why may he not have a legal right to know all that is
said to her? The question is not whether a wife ought to receive letters
that her husband may not read, or listen to talk that he may not hear,
but whether he has a sort of lordship that gives him privileges which she
does not enjoy. In our modern notion of marriage, which is getting
itself expressed in statute law, marriage is supposed to rest on mutual
trust and mutual rights. In theory the husband and wife are still one,
and there can nothing come into the life of one that is not shared by the
other; in fact, if the marriage is perfect and the trust absolute, the
personality of each is respected by the other, and each is freely the
judge of what shall be contributed to the common confidence; and if there
are any concealments, it is well believed that they are for the mutual
good. If every one were as perfect in the marriage relation as those who
are reading these lines, the question of the wife's letters would never
arise. The man, trusting his wife, would not care to pry into any little
secrets his wife might have, or bother himself about her correspondence;
he would know, indeed, that if he had lost her real affection, a
surveillance of her letters could not restore it.

Perhaps it is a modern notion that marriage is a union of trust and not
of suspicion, of expectation of faithfulness the more there is freedom.
At any rate, the tendency, notwithstanding the French decision, is away
from the common-law suspicion and tyranny towards a higher trust in an
enlarged freedom. And it is certain that the rights cannot all be on one
side and the duties on the other. If the husband legally may compel his
wife to show him her letters, the courts will before long grant the same
privilege to the wife. But, without pressing this point, we hold
strongly to the sacredness of correspondence. The letters one receives
are in one sense not his own. They contain the confessions of another
soul, the confidences of another mind, that would be rudely treated if
given any sort of publicity. And while husband and wife are one to each
other, they are two in the eyes of other people, and it may well happen
that a friend will desire to impart something to a discreet woman which
she would not intrust to the babbling husband of that woman. Every life
must have its own privacy and its own place of retirement. The letter is
of all things the most personal and intimate thing. Its bloom is gone
when another eye sees it before the one for which it was intended. Its
aroma all escapes when it is first opened by another person. One might
as well wear second-hand clothing as get a second-hand letter. Here,
then, is a sacred right that ought to be respected, and can be respected
without any injury to domestic life. The habit in some families for the
members of it to show each other's letters is a most disenchanting one.
It is just in the family, between persons most intimate, that these
delicacies of consideration for the privacy of each ought to be most
respected. No one can estimate probably how much of the refinement, of
the delicacy of feeling, has been lost to the world by the introduction
of the postal-card. Anything written on a postal-card has no
personality; it is banal, and has as little power of charming any one who
receives it as an advertisement in the newspaper. It is not simply the
cheapness of the communication that is vulgar, but the publicity of it.
One may have perhaps only a cent's worth of affection to send, but it
seems worth much more when enclosed in an envelope. We have no doubt,
then, that on general principles the French decision is a mistake, and
that it tends rather to vulgarize than to retain the purity and delicacy
of the marriage relation. And the judges, so long even as men only
occupy the bench, will no doubt reverse it when the logical march of
events forces upon them the question whether the wife may open her
husband's letters.

A LEISURE CLASS

Foreign critics have apologized for real or imagined social and literary
shortcomings in this country on the ground that the American people have
little leisure. It is supposed that when we have a leisure class we
shall not only make a better showing in these respects, but we shall be
as agreeable--having time to devote to the art of being agreeable--as the
English are. But we already have a considerable and increasing number of
people who can command their own time if we have not a leisure class, and
the sociologist might begin to study the effect of this leisureliness
upon society. Are the people who, by reason of a competence or other
accidents of good-fortune, have most leisure, becoming more agreeable?
and are they devoting themselves to the elevation of the social tone, or
to the improvement of our literature? However this question is answered,
a strong appeal might be made to the people of leisure to do not only
what is expected of them by foreign observers, but to take advantage of
their immense opportunities. In a republic there is no room for a
leisure class that is not useful. Those who use their time merely to
kill it, in imitation of those born to idleness and to no necessity of
making an exertion, may be ornamental, but having no root in any
established privilege to sustain them, they will soon wither away in this
atmosphere, as a flower would which should set up to be an orchid when it
does not belong to the orchid family. It is required here that those who
are emancipated from the daily grind should vindicate their right to
their position not only by setting an example of self-culture, but by
contributing something to the general welfare. It is thought by many
that if society here were established and settled as it is elsewhere, the
rich would be less dominated by their money and less conscious of it, and
having leisure, could devote themselves even more than they do now to
intellectual and spiritual pursuits.

Whether these anticipations will ever be realized, and whether increased
leisure will make us all happy, is a subject of importance; but it is
secondary, and in a manner incidental, to another and deeper matter,
which may be defined as the responsibility of attractiveness. And this
responsibility takes two forms the duty of every one to be attractive,
and the danger of being too attractive. To be winning and agreeable is
sometimes reckoned a gift, but it is a disposition that can be
cultivated; and, in a world so given to grippe and misapprehension as
this is, personal attractiveness becomes a duty, if it is not an art,
that might be taught in the public schools. It used to be charged
against New Englanders that they regarded this gift as of little value,
and were inclined to hide it under a bushel, and it was said of some of
their neighbors in the Union that they exaggerated its importance, and
neglected the weightier things of the law. Indeed, disputes have arisen
as to what attractiveness consisted in--some holding that beauty or charm
of manner (which is almost as good) and sweetness and gayety were
sufficient, while others held that a little intelligence sprinkled in was
essential. But one thing is clear, that while women were held to strict
responsibility in this matter, not stress enough was laid upon the equal
duty of men to be attractive in order to make the world agreeable. Hence
it is, probably, that while no question has been raised as to the effect
of the higher education upon the attractiveness of men, the colleges for
girls have been jealously watched as to the effect they were likely to
have upon the attractiveness of women. Whether the college years of a
young man, during which he knows more than he will ever know again, are
his most attractive period is not considered, for he is expected to
develop what is in him later on; but it is gravely questioned whether
girls who give their minds to the highest studies are not dropping those
graces of personal attractiveness which they will find it difficult to
pick up again. Of course such a question as this could never arise
except in just such a world as this is. For in an ideal world it could
be shown that the highest intelligence and the highest personal charm are
twins. If, therefore, it should turn out, which seems absurd, that
college-educated girls are not as attractive as other women with less
advantages, it will have to be admitted that something is the matter with
the young ladies, which is preposterous, or that the system is still
defective. For the postulate that everybody ought to be attractive
cannot be abandoned for the sake of any system. Decision on this system
cannot be reached without long experience, for it is always to be
remembered that the man's point of view of attractiveness may shift, and
he may come to regard the intellectual graces as supremely attractive;
while, on the other hand, the woman student may find that a winning smile
is just as effective in bringing a man to her feet, where he belongs, as
a logarithm.

The danger of being too attractive, though it has historic illustration,
is thought by many to be more apparent than real. Merely being too
attractive has often been confounded with a love of flirtation and
conquest, unbecoming always in a man, and excused in a woman on the
ground of her helplessness. It could easily be shown that to use
personal attractiveness recklessly to the extent of hopeless beguilement
is cruel, and it may be admitted that woman ought to be held to strict
responsibility for her attractiveness. The lines are indeed hard for
her. The duty is upon her in this poor world of being as attractive as
she can, and yet she is held responsible for all the mischief her
attractiveness produces. As if the blazing sun should be called to
account by people with weak eyes.

WEATHER AND CHARACTER

The month of February in all latitudes in the United States is uncertain.
The birth of George Washington in it has not raised it in public esteem.
In the North, it is a month to flee from; in the South, at best it is a
waiting month--a month of rain and fickle skies. A good deal has been
done for it. It is the month of St. Valentine, it is distinguished by
the leap-year addition of a day, and ought to be a favorite of the gentle
sex; but it remains a sort of off period in the year. Its brevity
recommends it, but no one would take any notice of it were it not for its
effect upon character. A month of rigid weather is supposed to brace up
the moral nature, and a month of gentleness is supposed to soften the
asperities of the disposition, but February contributes to neither of
these ends. It is neither a tonic nor a soother; that is, in most parts
of our inexplicable land. We make no complaint of this. It is probably
well to have a period in the year that tests character to the utmost, and
the person who can enter spring through the gate of February a better man
or woman is likely to adorn society the rest of the year.

February, however, is merely an illustration of the effect of weather
upon the disposition. Persons differ in regard to their sensitiveness to
cloudy, rainy, and gloomy days. We recognize this in a general way, but
the relation of temper and disposition to the weather has never been
scientifically studied. Our observation of the influence of climate is
mostly with regard to physical infirmities. We know the effect of damp
weather upon rheumatics, and of the east wind upon gouty subjects, but
too little allowance is made for the influence of weather upon the
spirits and the conduct of men. We know that a long period of gloomy
weather leads to suicides, and we observe that long-continued clouds and
rain beget "crossness" and ill-temper, and we are all familiar with the
universal exhilaration of sunshine and clear air upon any company of men
and women. But the point we wish to make is that neither society nor the
law makes any allowance for the aberrations of human nature caused by
dull and unpleasant weather. And this is very singular in this
humanitarian age, when excuse is found for nearly every moral delinquency
in heredity or environment, that the greatest factor of discontent and
crookedness, the weather, should be left out of consideration altogether.
The relation of crime to the temperature and the humidity of the
atmosphere is not taken into account. Yet crime and eccentricity of
conduct are very much the result of atmospheric conditions, since they
depend upon the temper and the spirit of the community. Many people are
habitually blue and down-hearted in sour weather; a long spell of cloudy,
damp, cold weather depresses everybody, lowers hope, tends to melancholy;
and people when they are not cheerful are more apt to fall into evil
ways, as a rule, than when they are in a normal state of good-humor. And
aside from crimes, the vexation, the friction, the domestic discontent in
life, are provoked by bad weather. We should like to have some
statistics as to incompatibility between married couples produced by damp
and raw days, and to know whether divorces are more numerous in the
States that suffer from a fickle climate than in those where the climate
is more equable. It is true that in the Sandwich Islands and in Egypt
there is greater mental serenity, less perturbation of spirit, less
worry, than in the changeable United States. Something of this placidity
and resignation to the ills inevitable in human life is due to an even
climate, to the constant sun and the dry air. We cannot hope to prevent
crime and suffering by statistics, any more than we have been able to
improve our climate (which is rather worse now than before the scientists
took it in charge) by observations and telegraphic reports; but we can,
by careful tabulation of the effects of bad weather upon the spirits of a
community, learn what places in the Union are favorable to the production
of cheerfulness and an equal mind. And we should lift a load of
reprobation from some places which now have a reputation for surliness
and unamiability. We find the people of one place hospitable,
lighthearted, and agreeable; the people of another place cold, and
morose, and unpleasant. It would be a satisfaction to know that the
weather is responsible for the difference. Observation of this sort
would also teach us doubtless what places are most conducive to literary
production, what to happy homes and agreeing wives and husbands. All our
territory is mapped out as to its sanitary conditions; why not have it
colored as to its effect upon the spirits and the enjoyment of life? The
suggestion opens a vast field of investigation.

BORN WITH AN "EGO"

There used to be a notion going round that it would be a good thing for
people if they were more "self-centred." Perhaps there was talk of
adding a course to the college curriculum, in addition to that for
training the all-competent "journalist," for the self-centring of the
young. To apply the term to a man or woman was considered highly
complimentary. The advisers of this state of mind probably meant to
suggest a desirable equilibrium and mental balance; but the actual effect
of the self-centred training is illustrated by a story told of Thomas H.
Benton, who had been described as an egotist by some of the newspapers.
Meeting Colonel Frank Blair one day, he said: "Colonel Blair, I see that
the newspapers call me an egotist. I wish you would tell me frankly, as
a friend, if you think the charge is true." "It is a very direct
question, Mr. Benton," replied Colonel Blair, "but if you want my honest
opinion, I am compelled to say that I think there is some foundation for
the charge." "Well, sir," said Mr. Benton, throwing his head back and
his chest forward, "the difference between me and these little fellows is
that I have an EGO!" Mr. Benton was an interesting man, and it is a fair
consideration if a certain amount of egotism does not add to the interest
of any character, but at the same time the self-centred conditions shut a
person off from one of the chief enjoyments to be got out of this world,
namely, a recognition of what is admirable in others in a toleration of
peculiarities. It is odd, almost amusing, to note how in this country
people of one section apply their local standards to the judgment of
people in other sections, very much as an Englishman uses his insular
yardstick to measure all the rest of the world. It never seems to occur
to people in one locality that the manners and speech of those of another
may be just as admirable as their own, and they get a good deal of
discomfort out of their intercourse with strangers by reason of their
inability to adapt themselves to any ways not their own. It helps
greatly to make this country interesting that nearly every State has its
peculiarities, and that the inhabitants of different sections differ in
manner and speech. But next to an interesting person in social value, is
an agreeable one, and it would add vastly to the agreeableness of life if
our widely spread provinces were not so self-centred in their notion that
their own way is the best, to the degree that they criticise any
deviation from it as an eccentricity. It would be a very nice world in
these United States if we could all devote ourselves to finding out in
communities what is likable rather than what is opposed to our
experience; that is, in trying to adapt ourselves to others rather than
insisting that our own standard should measure our opinion and our
enjoyment of them.

When the Kentuckian describes a man as a "high-toned gentleman" he means
exactly the same that a Bostonian means when, he says that a man is a
"very good fellow," only the men described have a different culture, a
different personal flavor; and it is fortunate that the Kentuckian is not
like the Bostonian, for each has a quality that makes intercourse with
him pleasant. In the South many people think they have said a severe
thing when they say that a person or manner is thoroughly Yankee; and
many New Englanders intend to express a considerable lack in what is
essential when they say of men and women that they are very Southern.
When the Yankee is produced he may turn out a cosmopolitan person of the
most interesting and agreeable sort; and the Southerner may
have traits and peculiarities, growing out of climate and social life
unlike the New England, which are altogether charming. We talked once
with a Western man of considerable age and experience who had the placid
mind that is sometimes, and may more and more become, the characteristic
of those who live in flat countries of illimitable horizons, who said
that New Yorkers, State and city, all had an assertive sort of smartness
that was very disagreeable to him. And a lady of New York (a city whose
dialect the novelists are beginning to satirize) was much disturbed by
the flatness of speech prevailing in Chicago, and thought something
should be done in the public schools to correct the pronunciation of
English. There doubtless should be a common standard of distinct,
rounded, melodious pronunciation, as there is of good breeding, and it is
quite as important to cultivate the voice in speaking as in singing, but
the people of the United States let themselves be immensely irritated by
local differences and want of toleration of sectional peculiarities. The
truth is that the agreeable people are pretty evenly distributed over the
country, and one's enjoyment of them is heightened not only by their
differences of manner, but by the different, ways in which they look at
life, unless he insists upon applying everywhere the yardstick of his own
locality. If the Boston woman sets her eyeglasses at a critical angle
towards the 'laisser faire' flow of social amenity in New Orleans, and
the New Orleans woman seeks out only the prim and conventional in Boston,
each may miss the opportunity to supplement her life by something wanting
and desirable in it, to be gained by the exercise of more openness of
mind and toleration. To some people Yankee thrift is disagreeable; to
others, Southern shiftlessness is intolerable. To some travelers the
negro of the South, with his tropical nature, his capacity for
picturesque attitudes, his abundant trust in Providence, is an element of
restfulness; and if the chief object of life is happiness, the traveler
may take a useful hint from the race whose utmost desire, in a fit
climate, would be fully satisfied by a shirt and a banana-tree. But to
another traveler the dusky, careless race is a continual affront.

If a person is born with an "Ego," and gets the most enjoyment out of the
world by trying to make it revolve about himself, and cannot make-
allowances for differences, we have nothing to say except to express pity
for such a self-centred condition; which shuts him out of the never-
failing pleasure there is in entering into and understanding with
sympathy the almost infinite variety in American life.

JUVENTUS MUNDI

Sometimes the world seems very old. It appeared so to Bernard of Cluny
in the twelfth century, when he wrote:

"The world is very evil,
The times are waning late."

There was a general impression among the Christians of the first century
of our era that the end was near. The world must have seemed very
ancient to the Egyptians fifteen hundred years before Christ, when the
Pyramid of Cheops was a relic of antiquity, when almost the whole circle
of arts, sciences, and literature had been run through, when every nation
within reach had been conquered, when woman had been developed into one
of the most fascinating of beings, and even reigned more absolutely than
Elizabeth or Victoria has reigned since: it was a pretty tired old world
at that time. One might almost say that the further we go back the older
and more "played out" the world appears, notwithstanding that the poets,
who were generally pessimists of the present, kept harping about the
youth of the world and the joyous spontaneity of human life in some
golden age before their time. In fact, the world is old in spots--in
Memphis and Boston and Damascus and Salem and Ephesus. Some of these
places are venerable in traditions, and some of them are actually worn
out and taking a rest from too much civilization--lying fallow, as the
saying is. But age is so entirely relative that to many persons the
landing of the Mayflower seems more remote than the voyage of Jason, and
a Mayflower chest a more antique piece of furniture than the timbers of
the Ark, which some believe can still be seen on top of Mount Ararat.
But, speaking generally, the world is still young and growing, and a
considerable portion of it unfinished. The oldest part, indeed, the
Laurentian Hills, which were first out of water, is still only sparsely
settled; and no one pretends that Florida is anything like finished, or
that the delta of the Mississippi is in anything more than the process of
formation. Men are so young and lively in these days that they cannot
wait for the slow processes of nature, but they fill up and bank up
places, like Holland, where they can live; and they keep on exploring and
discovering incongruous regions, like Alaska, where they can go and
exercise their juvenile exuberance.

In many respects the world has been growing younger ever since the
Christian era. A new spirit came into it then which makes youth
perpetual, a spirit of living in others, which got the name of universal
brotherhood, a spirit that has had a good many discouragements and set-
backs, but which, on the whole, gains ground, and generally works in
harmony with the scientific spirit, breaking down the exclusive character
of the conquests of nature. What used to be the mystery and occultism of
the few is now general knowledge, so that all the playing at occultism by
conceited people now seems jejune and foolish. A little machine called
the instantaneous photograph takes pictures as quickly and accurately as
the human eye does, and besides makes them permanent. Instead of fooling
credulous multitudes with responses from Delphi, we have a Congress which
can enact tariff regulations susceptible of interpretations enough to
satisfy the love of mystery of the entire nation. Instead of loafing
round Memnon at sunrise to catch some supernatural tones, we talk words
into a little contrivance which will repeat our words and tones to the
remotest generation of those who shall be curious to know whether we said
those words in jest or earnest. All these mysteries made common and
diffused certainly increase the feeling of the equality of opportunity in
the world. And day by day such wonderful things are discovered and
scattered abroad that we are warranted in believing that we are only on
the threshold of turning to account the hidden forces of nature. There
would be great danger of human presumption and conceit in this progress
if the conceit were not so widely diffused, and where we are all
conceited there is no one to whom it will appear unpleasant. If there
was only one person who knew about the telephone he would be unbearable.
Probably the Eiffel Tower would be stricken down as a monumental
presumption, like that of Babel, if it had not been raised with the full
knowledge and consent of all the world.

This new spirit, with its multiform manifestations, which came into the
world nearly nineteen hundred years ago, is sometimes called the spirit
of Christmas. And good reasons can be given for supposing that it is.
At any rate, those nations that have the most of it are the most
prosperous, and those people who have the most of it are the most
agreeable to associate with. Know all men by these Presents, is an old
legal form which has come to have a new meaning in this dispensation.
It is by the spirit of brotherhood exhibited in giving presents that we
know the Christmas proper, only we are apt to take it in too narrow a
way. The real spirit of Christmas is the general diffusion of
helpfulness and good-will. If somebody were to discover an elixir which
would make every one truthful, he would not, in this age of the world,
patent it. Indeed, the Patent Office would not let him make a corner on
virtue as he does in wheat; and it is not respectable any more among the
real children of Christmas to make a corner in wheat. The world, to be
sure, tolerates still a great many things that it does not approve of,
and, on the whole, Christmas, as an ameliorating and good-fellowship
institution, gains a little year by year. There is still one hitch about
it, and a bad one just now, namely, that many people think they can buy
its spirit by jerks of liberality, by costly gifts. Whereas the fact is
that a great many of the costliest gifts in this season do not count at
all. Crumbs from the rich man's table don't avail any more to open the
pearly gates even of popular esteem in this world. Let us say, in fine,
that a loving, sympathetic heart is better than a nickel-plated service
in this world, which is surely growing young and sympathetic.

A BEAUTIFUL OLD AGE

In Autumn the thoughts lightly turn to Age. If the writer has seemed to
be interested, sometimes to the neglect of other topics, in the American
young woman, it was not because she is interested in herself, but because
she is on the way to be one of the most agreeable objects in this lovely
world. She may struggle against it; she may resist it by all the
legitimate arts of the coquette and the chemist; she may be convinced
that youth and beauty are inseparable allies; but she would have more
patience if she reflected that the sunset is often finer than the
sunrise, commonly finer than noon, especially after a stormy day. The
secret of a beautiful old age is as well worth seeking as that of a
charming young maidenhood. For it is one of the compensations for the
rest of us, in the decay of this mortal life, that women, whose mission
it is to allure in youth and to tinge the beginning of the world with
romance, also make the end of the world more serenely satisfactory and
beautiful than the outset. And this has been done without any amendment
to the Constitution of the United States; in fact, it is possible that
the Sixteenth Amendment would rather hinder than help this gracious
process. We are not speaking now of what is called growing old
gracefully and regretfully, as something to be endured, but as a season
to be desired for itself, at least by those whose privilege it is to be
ennobled and cheered by it. And we are not speaking of wicked old women.
There is a unique fascination--all the novelists recognize it--in a
wicked old woman; not very wicked, but a woman of abundant experience,
who is perfectly frank and a little cynical, and delights in probing
human nature and flashing her wit on its weaknesses, and who knows as
much about life as a club man is credited with knowing. She may not be a
good comrade for the young, but she is immensely more fascinating than a
semi-wicked old man. Why, we do not know; that is one of the
unfathomable mysteries of womanhood. No; we have in mind quite another
sort of woman, of which America has so many that they are a very
noticeable element in all cultivated society. And the world has nothing
more lovely. For there is a loveliness or fascination sometimes in women
between the ages of sixty and eighty that is unlike any other--a charm
that woos us to regard autumn as beautiful as spring.

Perhaps these women were great beauties in their day, but scarcely so
serenely beautiful as now when age has refined all that was most
attractive. Perhaps they were plain; but it does not matter, for the
subtle influence of spiritualized-intelligence has the power of
transforming plainness into the beauty of old age. Physical beauty is
doubtless a great advantage, and it is never lost if mind shines through
it (there is nothing so unlovely as a frivolous old woman fighting to
keep the skin-deep beauty of her youth); the eyes, if the life has not
been one of physical suffering, usually retain their power of moving
appeal; the lines of the face, if changed, may be refined by a certain
spirituality; the gray hair gives dignity and softness and the charm of
contrast; the low sweet voice vibrates to the same note of femininity,
and the graceful and gracious are graceful and gracious still. Even into
the face and bearing of the plain woman whose mind has grown, whose
thoughts have been pure, whose heart has been expanded by good deeds or
by constant affection, comes a beauty winning and satisfactory in the
highest degree.

It is not that the charm of the women of whom we speak is mainly this
physical beauty; that is only incidental, as it were. The delight in
their society has a variety of sources. Their interest in life is
broader than it once was, more sympathetically unselfish; they have a
certain philosophical serenity that is not inconsistent with great
liveliness of mind; they have got rid of so much nonsense; they can
afford to be truthful--and how much there is to be learned from a woman
who is truthful! they have a most delicious courage of opinion, about
men, say, and in politics, and social topics, and creeds even. They have
very little any longer to conceal; that is, in regard to things that
should be thought about and talked about at all. They are not afraid to
be gay, and to have enthusiasms. At sixty and eighty a refined and well-
bred woman is emancipated in the best way, and in the enjoyment of the
full play of the richest qualities of her womanhood. She is as far from
prudery as from the least note of vulgarity. Passion, perhaps, is
replaced by a great capacity for friendliness, and she was never more a
real woman than in these mellow and reflective days. And how interesting
she is--adding so much knowledge of life to the complex interest that
inheres in her sex! Knowledge of life, yes, and of affairs; for it must
be said of these ladies we have in mind that they keep up with the
current thought, that they are readers of books, even of newspapers--for
even the newspaper can be helpful and not harmful in the alembic of their
minds.

Let not the purpose of this paper be misunderstood. It is not to urge
young women to become old or to act like old women. The independence and
frankness of age might not be becoming to them. They must stumble along
as best they can, alternately attracting and repelling, until by right of
years they join that serene company which is altogether beautiful. There
is a natural unfolding and maturing to the beauty of old age. The
mission of woman, about which we are pretty weary of hearing, is not
accomplished by any means in her years of vernal bloom and loveliness;
she has equal power to bless and sweeten life in the autumn of her
pilgrimage. But here is an apologue: The peach, from blossom to
maturity, is the most attractive of fruits. Yet the demands of the
market, competition, and fashion often cause it to be plucked and shipped
while green. It never matures, though it may take a deceptive richness
of color; it decays without ripening. And the last end of that peach is
worse than the first.

THE ATTRACTION OF THE REPULSIVE

On one of the most charming of the many wonderfully picturesque little
beaches on the Pacific coast, near Monterey, is the idlest if not the
most disagreeable social group in the world. Just off the shore, farther
than a stone's-throw, lies a mass of broken rocks. The surf comes
leaping and laughing in, sending up, above the curving green breakers and
crests of foam, jets and spirals of water which flash like silver
fountains in the sunlight. These islets of rocks are the homes of the
sea-lion. This loafer of the coast congregates here by the thousand.
Sometimes the rocks are quite covered, the smooth rounded surface of the
larger one presenting the appearance at a distance of a knoll dotted with
dirty sheep. There is generally a select knot of a dozen floating about
in the still water under the lee of the rock, bobbing up their tails and
flippers very much as black driftwood might heave about in the tide.
During certain parts of the day members of this community are off fishing
in deep water; but what they like best to do is to crawl up on the rocks
and grunt and bellow, or go to sleep in the sun. Some of them lie half in
water, their tails floating and their ungainly heads wagging. These
uneasy ones are always wriggling out or plunging in. Some crawl to the
tops of the rocks and lie like gunny bags stuffed with meal, or they
repose on the broken surfaces like masses of jelly. When they are all at
home the rocks have not room for them, and they crawl on and over each
other, and lie like piles of undressed pork. In the water they are
black, but when they are dry in the sun the skin becomes a dirty light
brown. Many of them are huge fellows, with a body as big as an ox. In
the water they are repulsively graceful; on the rocks they are as
ungainly as boneless cows, or hogs that have lost their shape in
prosperity. Summer and winter (and it is almost always summer on this
coast) these beasts, which are well fitted neither for land nor water,
spend their time in absolute indolence, except when they are compelled to
cruise around in the deep water for food. They are of no use to anybody,
either for their skin or their flesh. Nothing could be more thoroughly
disgusting and uncanny than they are, and yet nothing more fascinating.
One can watch them--the irresponsible, formless lumps of intelligent
flesh--for hours without tiring. I scarcely know what the fascination
is. A small seal playing by himself near the shore, floating on and
diving under the breakers, is not so very disagreeable, especially if he
comes so near that you can see his pathetic eyes; but these brutes in
this perpetual summer resort are disgustingly attractive. Nearly
everything about them, including their voice, is repulsive. Perhaps it
is the absolute idleness of the community that makes it so interesting.
To fish, to swim, to snooze on the rocks, that is all, for ever and ever.
No past, no future. A society that lives for the laziest sort of
pleasure. If they were rich, what more could they have? Is not this the
ideal of a watering-place life?

The spectacle of this happy community ought to teach us humility and
charity in judgment. Perhaps the philosophy of its attractiveness lies
deeper than its 'dolce far niente' existence. We may never have
considered the attraction for us of the disagreeable, the positive
fascination of the uncommonly ugly. The repulsive fascination of the
loathly serpent or dragon for women can hardly be explained on
theological grounds. Some cranks have maintained that the theory of
gravitation alone does not explain the universe, that repulsion is as
necessary as attraction in our economy. This may apply to society. We
are all charmed with the luxuriance of a semi-tropical landscape, so
violently charmed that we become in time tired of its overpowering bloom
and color. But what is the charm of the wide, treeless desert, the
leagues of sand and burnt-up chaparral, the distant savage, fantastic
mountains, the dry desolation as of a world burnt out? It is not
contrast altogether. For this illimitable waste has its own charm; and
again and again, when we come to a world of vegetation, where the vision
is shut in by beauty, we shall have an irrepressible longing for these
wind-swept plains as wide as the sea, with the ashy and pink horizons.
We shall long to be weary of it all again--its vast nakedness, its
shimmering heat, its cold, star-studded nights. It seems paradoxical,
but it is probably true, that a society composed altogether of agreeable
people would become a terrible bore. We are a "kittle" lot, and hard to
please for long. We know how it is in the matter of climate. Why is it
that the masses of the human race live in the most disagreeable climates
to be found on the globe, subject to extremes of heat and cold, sudden
and unprovoked changes, frosts, fogs, malarias? In such regions they
congregate, and seem to like the vicissitudes, to like the excitement of
the struggle with the weather and the patent medicines to keep alive.
They hate the agreeable monotony of one genial day following another the
year through. They praise this monotony, all literature is full of it;
people always say they are in search of the equable climate; but they
continue to live, nevertheless, or try to live, in the least equable; and
if they can find one spot more disagreeable than another there they build
a big city. If man could make his ideal climate he would probably be
dissatisfied with it in a month. The effect of climate upon disposition
and upon manners needs to be considered some day; but we are now only
trying to understand the attractiveness of the disagreeable. There must
be some reason for it; and that would explain a social phenomenon, why
there are so many unattractive people, and why the attractive readers of
these essays could not get on without them.

The writer of this once traveled for days with an intelligent curmudgeon,
who made himself at all points as prickly as the porcupine. There was no
getting on with him. And yet when he dropped out of the party he was
sorely missed. He was more attractively repulsive than the sea-lion. It
was such a luxury to hate him. He was such a counter-irritant, such a
stimulant; such a flavor he gave to life. We are always on the lookout
for the odd, the eccentric, the whimsical. We pretend that we like the
orderly, the beautiful, the pleasant. We can find them anywhere--the
little bits of scenery that please the eye, the pleasant households, the
group of delightful people. Why travel, then? We want the abnormal, the
strong, the ugly, the unusual at least. We wish to be startled and
stirred up and repelled. And we ought to be more thankful than we are
that there are so many desolate and wearisome and fantastic places, and
so many tiresome and unattractive people in this lovely world.

GIVING AS A LUXURY

There must be something very good in human nature, or people would not
experience so much pleasure in giving; there must be something very bad
in human nature, or more people would try the experiment of giving.
Those who do try it become enamored of it, and get their chief pleasure
in life out of it; and so evident is this that there is some basis for
the idea that it is ignorance rather than badness which keeps so many
people from being generous. Of course it may become a sort of
dissipation, or more than that, a devastation, as many men who have what
are called "good wives" have reason to know, in the gradual disappearance
of their wardrobe if they chance to lay aside any of it temporarily.
The amount that a good woman can give away is only measured by her
opportunity. Her mind becomes so trained in the mystery of this pleasure
that she experiences no thrill of delight in giving away only the things
her husband does not want. Her office in life is to teach him the joy of
self-sacrifice. She and all other habitual and irreclaimable givers soon
find out that there is next to no pleasure in a gift unless it involves
some self-denial.

Let one consider seriously whether he ever gets as much satisfaction out
of a gift received as out of one given. It pleases him for the moment,
and if it is useful, for a long time; he turns it over, and admires it;
he may value it as a token of affection, and it flatters his self-esteem
that he is the object of it. But it is a transient feeling compared with
that he has when he has made a gift. That substantially ministers to his
self-esteem. He follows the gift; he dwells upon the delight of the
receiver; his imagination plays about it; it will never wear out or
become stale; having parted with it, it is for him a lasting possession.
It is an investment as lasting as that in the debt of England. Like a
good deed, it grows, and is continually satisfactory. It is something to
think of when he first wakes in the morning--a time when most people are
badly put to it for want of something pleasant to think of. This fact
about giving is so incontestably true that it is a wonder that
enlightened people do not more freely indulge in giving for their own
comfort. It is, above all else, amazing that so many imagine they are
going to get any satisfaction out of what they leave by will. They may
be in a state where they will enjoy it, if the will is not fought over;
but it is shocking how little gratitude there is accorded to a departed
giver compared to a living giver. He couldn't take the property with
him, it is said; he was obliged to leave it to somebody. By this thought
his generosity is always reduced to a minimum. He may build a monument
to himself in some institution, but we do not know enough of the world to
which he has gone to know whether a tiny monument on this earth is any
satisfaction to a person who is free of the universe. Whereas every
giving or deed of real humanity done while he was living would have
entered into his character, and would be of lasting service to him--that
is, in any future which we can conceive.

Of course we are not confining our remarks to what are called Christmas
gifts--commercially so called--nor would we undertake to estimate the
pleasure there is in either receiving or giving these. The shrewd
manufacturers of the world have taken notice of the periodic generosity
of the race, and ingeniously produce articles to serve it, that is, to
anticipate the taste and to thwart all individuality or spontaneity in
it. There is, in short, what is called a "line of holiday goods,"
fitting, it may be supposed, the periodic line of charity. When a person
receives some of these things in the blessed season of such, he is apt to
be puzzled. He wants to know what they are for, what he is to do with
them. If there are no "directions" on the articles, his gratitude is
somewhat tempered. He has seen these nondescripts of ingenuity and
expense in the shop windows, but he never expected to come into personal
relations to them. He is puzzled, and he cannot escape the unpleasant
feeling that commerce has put its profit-making fingers into Christmas.
Such a lot of things seem to be manufactured on purpose that people may
perform a duty that is expected of them in the holidays. The house is
full of these impossible things; they occupy the mantelpieces, they stand
about on the tottering little tables, they are ingenious, they are made
for wants yet undiscovered, they tarnish, they break, they will not
"work," and pretty soon they look "second-hand." Yet there must be more
satisfaction in giving these articles than in receiving them, and maybe a
spice of malice--not that of course, for in the holidays nearly every
gift expresses at least kindly remembrance--but if you give them you do
not have to live with them. But consider how full the world is of
holiday goods--costly goods too--that are of no earthly use, and are not
even artistic, and how short life is, and how many people actually need
books and other indispensable articles, and how starved are many fine
drawing-rooms, not for holiday goods, but for objects of beauty.

Christmas stands for much, and for more and more in a world that is
breaking down its barriers of race and religious intolerance, and one of
its chief offices has been supposed to be the teaching of men the
pleasure there is in getting rid of some of their possessions for the
benefit of others. But this frittering away a good instinct and tendency
in conventional giving of manufactures made to suit an artificial
condition is hardly in the line of developing the spirit that shares the
last crust or gives to the thirsty companion in the desert the first pull
at the canteen. Of course Christmas feeling is the life of trade and all
that, and we will be the last to discourage any sort of giving, for one
can scarcely disencumber himself of anything in his passage through this
world and not be benefited; but the hint may not be thrown away that one
will personally get more satisfaction out of his periodic or continual
benevolence if he gives during his life the things which he wants and
other people need, and reserves for a fine show in his will a collected
but not selected mass of holiday goods.

CLIMATE AND HAPPINESS

The idea of the relation of climate to happiness is modern. It is
probably born of the telegraph and of the possibility of rapid travel,
and it is more disturbing to serenity of mind than any other. Providence
had so ordered it that if we sat still in almost any region of the globe
except the tropics we would have, in course of the year, almost all the
kinds of climate that exist. The ancient societies did not trouble
themselves about the matter; they froze or thawed, were hot or cold, as
it pleased the gods. They did not think of fleeing from winter any more
than from the summer solstice, and consequently they enjoyed a certain
contentment of mind that is absent from modern life. We are more
intelligent, and therefore more discontented and unhappy. We are always
trying to escape winter when we are not trying to escape summer. We are
half the time 'in transitu', flying hither and thither, craving that
exact adaptation of the weather to our whimsical bodies promised only to
the saints who seek a "better country." There are places, to be sure,
where nature is in a sort of equilibrium, but usually those are places
where we can neither make money nor spend it to our satisfaction. They
lack either any stimulus to ambition or a historic association, and we
soon find that the mind insists upon being cared for quite as much as the
body.

How many wanderers in the past winter left comfortable homes in the
United States to seek a mild climate! Did they find it in the sleet and
bone-piercing cold of Paris, or anywhere in France, where the wolves were
forced to come into the villages in the hope of picking up a tender
child? If they traveled farther, were the railway carriages anything but
refrigerators tempered by cans of cooling water? Was there a place in
Europe from Spain to Greece, where the American could once be warm--
really warm without effort--in or out of doors? Was it any better in
divine Florence than on the chill Riviera? Northern Italy was blanketed
with snow, the Apennines were white, and through the clean streets of the
beautiful town a raw wind searched every nook and corner, penetrating
through the thickest of English wraps, and harder to endure than
ingratitude, while a frosty mist enveloped all. The traveler forgot to
bring with him the contented mind of the Italian. Could he go about in a
long cloak and a slouch hat, curl up in doorways out of the blast, and be
content in a feeling of his own picturesqueness? Could he sit all day on
the stone pavement and hold out his chilblained hand for soldi? Could he
even deceive himself, in a palatial apartment with a frescoed ceiling, by
an appearance of warmth in two sticks ignited by a pine cone set in an
aperture in one end of the vast room, and giving out scarcely heat enough
to drive the swallows from the chimney? One must be born to this sort of
thing in order to enjoy it. He needs the poetic temperament which can
feel in January the breath of June. The pampered American is not adapted
to this kind of pleasure. He is very crude, not to say barbarous, yet in
many of his tastes, but he has reached one of the desirable things in
civilization, and that is a thorough appreciation of physical comfort.
He has had the ingenuity to protect himself in his own climate, but when
he travels he is at the mercy of customs and traditions in which the idea
of physical comfort is still rudimentary. He cannot warm himself before
a group of statuary, or extract heat from a canvas by Raphael, nor keep
his teeth from chattering by the exquisite view from the Boboli Gardens.
The cold American is insensible to art, and shivers in the presence of
the warmest historical associations. It is doubtful if there is a spot
in Europe where he can be ordinarily warm in winter. The world, indeed,
does not care whether he is warm or not, but it is a matter of great
importance to him. As he wanders from palace to palace--and he cannot
escape the impression that nothing is good enough for him except a
palace--he cannot think of any cottage in any hamlet in America that is
not more comfortable in winter than any palace he can find. And so he is
driven on in cold and weary stretches of travel to dwell among the French
in Algeria, or with the Jews in Tunis, or the Moslems in Cairo. He longs
for warmth as the Crusader longed for Jerusalem, but not short of Africa
shall he find it. The glacial period is coming back on Europe.

The citizens of the great republic have a reputation for inordinate self-
appreciation, but we are thinking that they undervalue many of the
advantages their ingenuity has won. It is admitted that they are
restless, and must always be seeking something that they have not at
home. But aside from their ability to be warm in any part of their own
country at any time of the year, where else can they travel three
thousand miles on a stretch in a well-heated--too much heated--car,
without change of car, without revision of tickets, without encountering
a customhouse, without the necessity of stepping outdoors either for food
or drink, for a library, for a bath--for any item, in short, that goes to
the comfort of a civilized being? And yet we are always prating of the
superior civilization of Europe. Nay, more, the traveler steps into a
car--which is as comfortable as a house--in Boston, and alights from it
only in the City of Mexico. In what other part of the world can that
achievement in comfort and convenience be approached?

But this is not all as to climate and comfort. We have climates of all
sorts within easy reach, and in quantity, both good and bad, enough to
export more in fact than we need of all sorts. If heat is all we want,
there are only three or four days between the zero of Maine and the
80 deg. of Florida. If New England is inhospitable and New York
freezing, it is only a matter of four days to the sun and the
exhilarating air of New Mexico and Arizona, and only five to the oranges
and roses of that semi-tropical kingdom by the sea, Southern California.
And if this does not content us, a day or two more lands us, without sea-
sickness, in the land of the Aztecs, where we can live in the temperate
or the tropic zone, eat strange fruits, and be reminded of Egypt and
Spain and Italy, and see all the colors that the ingenuity of man has
been able to give his skin. Fruits and flowers and sun in the winter-
time, a climate to lounge and be happy in--all this is within easy reach,
with the minimum of disturbance to our daily habits. We started out,
when we turned our backs on the Old World, with the declaration that all
men are free, and entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of an
agreeable climate. We have yet to learn, it seems, that we can indulge
in that pursuit best on our own continent. There is no winter climate
elsewhere to compare with that found in our extreme Southwest or in
Mexico, and the sooner we put this fact into poetry and literature, and
begin to make a tradition of it, the better will it be for our peace of
mind and for our children. And if the continent does not satisfy us,
there lie the West Indies within a few hours' sail, with all the
luxuriance and geniality of the tropics. We are only half emancipated
yet. We are still apt to see the world through the imagination of
England, whose literature we adopted, or of Germany. To these bleak
lands Italy was a paradise, and was so sung by poets who had no
conception of a winter without frost. We have a winter climate of
another sort from any in Europe; we have easy and comfortable access to
it. The only thing we need to do now is to correct our imagination,
which has been led astray. Our poets can at least do this for us by the
help of a quasi-international copyright.

THE NEW FEMININE RESERVE

In times past there have been expressed desire and fear that there should
be an American aristocracy, and the materials for its formation have been
a good deal canvassed. In a political point of view it is of course
impossible, but it has been hoped by many, and feared by more, that a
social state might be created conforming somewhat to the social order in
European countries. The problem has been exceedingly difficult. An
aristocracy of derived rank and inherited privilege being out of the
question, and an aristocracy of talent never having succeeded anywhere,
because enlightenment of mind tends to liberalism and democracy, there
was only left the experiment of an aristocracy of wealth. This does very
well for a time, but it tends always to disintegration, and it is
impossible to keep it exclusive. It was found, to use the slang of the
dry-goods shops, that it would not wash, for there were liable to crowd
into it at any moment those who had in fact washed for a living. An
aristocracy has a slim tenure that cannot protect itself from this sort
of intrusion. We have to contrive, therefore, another basis for a class
(to use an un-American expression), in a sort of culture or training,
which can be perpetual, and which cannot be ordered for money, like a
ball costume or a livery.

Perhaps the "American Girl" may be the agency to bring this about. This
charming product of the Western world has come into great prominence of
late years in literature and in foreign life, and has attained a
notoriety flattering or otherwise to the national pride. No institution
has been better known or more marked on the Continent and in England, not
excepting the tramway and the Pullman cars. Her enterprise, her daring,
her freedom from conventionality, have been the theme of the novelists
and the horror of the dowagers having marriageable daughters. Considered
as "stock," the American Girl has been quoted high, and the alliances
that she has formed with families impecunious but noble have given her
eclat as belonging to a new and conquering race in the world. But the
American Girl has not simply a slender figure and a fine eye and a ready
tongue, she is not simply an engaging and companionable person, she has
excellent common-sense, tact, and adaptability. She has at length seen
in her varied European experience that it is more profitable to have
social good form according to local standards than a reputation for dash
and brilliancy. Consequently the American Girl of a decade ago has
effaced herself. She is no longer the dazzling courageous figure. In
England, in France, in Germany, in Italy, she takes, as one may say, the
color of the land. She has retired behind her mother. She who formerly
marched in the van of the family procession, leading them--including the
panting mother--a whimsical dance, is now the timid and retiring girl,
needing the protection of a chaperon on every occasion. The satirist
will find no more abroad the American Girl of the old type whom he
continues to describe. The knowing and fascinating creature has changed
her tactics altogether. And the change has reacted on American society.
The mother has come once more to the front, and even if she is obliged to
own to forty-five years to the census-taker, she has again the position
and the privileges of the blooming woman of thirty. Her daughters walk
meekly and with downcast (if still expectant) eyes, and wait for a sign.

That this change is the deliberate work of the American Girl, no one who
knows her grace and talent will deny. In foreign travel and residence
she has been quick to learn her lesson. Dazzled at first by her own
capacity and the opportunities of the foreign field, she took the
situation by storm. But she found too often that she had a barren
conquest, and that the social traditions survived her success and became
a lifelong annoyance; that is to say, it was possible to subdue foreign
men, but the foreign women were impregnable in their social order. The
American Girl abroad is now, therefore, with rare exceptions, as
carefully chaperoned and secluded as her foreign sisters.

It is not necessary to lay too much stress upon this phase of American
life abroad, but the careful observer must notice its reflex action at
home. The American freedom and unconventionality in the intercourse of
the young of both sexes, which has been so much commented on as
characteristic of American life, may not disappear, but that small
section which calls itself "society" may attain a sort of aristocratic
distinction by the adoption of this foreign conventionality. It is
sufficient now to note this tendency, and to claim the credit of it for
the wise and intelligent American Girl. It would be a pity if it were to
become nationally universal, for then it would not be the aristocratic
distinction of a few, and the American woman who longs for some sort of
caste would be driven to some other device.

It is impossible to tell yet what form this feminine reserve and
retirement will take. It is not at all likely to go so far as the
Oriental seclusion of women. The American Girl would never even
seemingly give up her right of initiative. If she is to stay in the
background and pretend to surrender her choice to her parents, and with
it all the delights of a matrimonial campaign, she will still maintain a
position of observation. If she seems to be influenced at present by the
French and Italian examples, we may be sure that she is too intelligent
and too fond of freedom to long tolerate any system of chaperonage that
she cannot control. She will find a way to modify the traditional
conventionalities so as not to fetter her own free spirit. It may be her
mission to show the world a social order free from the forward
independence and smartness of which she has been accused, and yet
relieved of the dull stiffness of the older forms. It is enough now to
notice that a change is going on, due to the effect of foreign society
upon American women, and to express the patriotic belief that whatever
forms of etiquette she may bow to, the American Girl will still be on
earth the last and best gift of God to man.

REPOSE IN ACTIVITY

What we want is repose. We take infinite trouble and go to the ends of
the world to get it. That is what makes us all so restless. If we could
only find a spot where we could sit down, content to let the world go by,
away from the Sunday newspapers and the chronicles of an uneasy society,
we think we should be happy. Perhaps such a place is Coronado Beach--
that semi-tropical flower-garden by the sea. Perhaps another is the
Timeo Terrace at Taormina. There, without moving, one has the most
exquisite sea and shore far below him, so far that he has the feeling of
domination without effort; the most picturesque crags and castle peaks;
he has all classic legend under his eye without the trouble of reading,
and mediaeval romance as well; ruins from the time of Theocritus to
Freeman, with no responsibility of describing them; and one of the
loveliest and most majestic of snow mountains, never twice the same in
light and shade, entirely revealed and satisfactory from base to summit,
with no self or otherwise imposed duty of climbing it. Here are most of
the elements of peace and calm spirit. And the town itself is quite
dead, utterly exhausted after a turbulent struggle of twenty-five hundred
years, its poor inhabitants living along only from habit. The only new
things in it--the two caravansaries of the traveler--are a hotel and a
cemetery. One might end his days here in serene retrospection, and more
cheaply than in other places of fewer attractions, for it is all Past and
no Future. Probably, therefore, it would not suit the American, whose
imagination does not work so easily backward as forward, and who prefers
to build his own nest rather than settle in anybody else's rookery.
Perhaps the American deceives himself when he says he wants repose; what
he wants is perpetual activity and change; his peace of mind is postponed
until he can get it in his own way. It is in feeling that he is a part
of growth and not of decay. Foreigners are fond of writing essays upon
American traits and characteristics. They touch mostly on surface
indications. What really distinguishes the American from all others--for
all peoples like more or less to roam, and the English of all others are
globe-trotters--is not so much his restlessness as his entire accord with
the spirit of "go-ahead," the result of his absolute breaking with the
Past. He can repose only in the midst of intense activity. He can sit
down quietly in a town that is growing rapidly; but if it stands still,
he is impelled to move his rocking-chair to one more lively. He wants
the world to move, and to move unencumbered; and Europe seems to him to
carry too much baggage. The American is simply the most modern of men,
one who has thrown away the impedimenta of tradition. The world never
saw such a spectacle before, so vast a territory informed with one
uniform spirit of energy and progress, and people tumbling into it from
all the world, eager for the fair field and free opportunity. The
American delights in it; in Europe he misses the swing and "go" of the
new life.

This large explanation may not account for the summer restlessness that
overtakes nearly everybody. We are the annual victims of the delusion
that there exists somewhere the ideal spot where manners are simple, and
milk is pure, and lodging is cheap, where we shall fall at once into
content. We never do. For content consists not in having all we want,
nor, in not wanting everything, nor in being unable to get what we want,
but in not wanting that we can get. In our summer flittings we carry our
wants with us to places where they cannot be gratified. A few people
have discovered that repose can be had at home, but this discovery is too
unfashionable to find favor; we have no rest except in moving about.
Looked at superficially, it seems curious that the American is, as a
rule, the only person who does not emigrate. The fact is that he can go
nowhere else where life is so uneasy, and where, consequently, he would
have so little of his sort of repose. To put him in another country
would be like putting a nineteenth-century man back into the eighteenth
century. The American wants to be at the head of the procession (as he
fancies he is), where he can hear the band play, and be the first to see
the fireworks of the new era. He thinks that he occupies an advanced
station of observation, from which his telescope can sweep the horizon
for anything new. And with some reason he thinks so; for not seldom he
takes up a foreign idea and tires of it before it is current elsewhere.
More than one great writer of England had his first popular recognition
in America. Even this season the Saturday Review is struggling with
Ibsen, while Boston, having had that disease, has probably gone on to
some other fad.

Far be it from us to praise the American for his lack of repose; it is
enough to attempt to account for it. But from the social, or rather
society, point of view, the subject has a disquieting aspect. If the
American young man and young woman get it into their heads that repose,
especially of manner, is the correct thing, they will go in for it in a
way to astonish the world. The late cultivation of idiocy by the
American dude was unique. He carried it to an extreme impossible to the
youth of any nation less "gifted." And if the American girl goes in
seriously for "repose," she will be able to give odds to any modern
languidity or to any ancient marble. If what is wanted in society is
cold hauteur and languid superciliousness or lofty immobility, we are
confident that with a little practice she can sit stiller, and look more
impassive, and move with less motion, than any other created woman. We
have that confidence in her ability and adaptability. It is a question
whether it is worth while to do this; to sacrifice the vivacity and charm
native to her, and the natural impulsiveness and generous gift of herself
which belong to a new race in a new land, which is walking always towards
the sunrise.

In fine, although so much is said of the American lack of repose, is it
not best for the American to be content to be himself, and let the
critics adapt themselves or not, as they choose, to a new phenomenon?

Let us stick a philosophic name to it, and call it repose in activity.
The American might take the candid advice given by one friend to another,
who complained that it was so difficult to get into the right frame of
mind. "The best thing you can do," he said, "is to frame your mind and
hang it up."

WOMEN--IDEAL AND REAL

We have not by any means got to the bottom of Realism. It matters very
little what the novelists and critics say about it--what it is and what
it is not; the attitude of society towards it is the important thing.
Even if the critic could prove that nature and art are the same thing,
and that the fiction which is Real is only a copy of nature, or if
another should prove that Reality is only to be found in the Ideal,
little would be gained. Literature is well enough in its place, art is
an agreeable pastime, and it is right that society should take up either
in seasons when lawn-tennis and polo are impracticable and afternoon teas
become flavorless; but the question that society is or should be
interested in is whether the young woman of the future--upon whose
formation all our social hopes depend--is going to shape herself by a
Realistic or an Ideal standard. It should be said in parenthesis that
the young woman of the passing period has inclined towards Realism in
manner and speech, if not in dress, affecting a sort of frank return to
the easy-going ways of nature itself, even to the adoption of the
language of the stock exchange, the race-course, and the clubs--an
offering of herself on the altar of good-fellowship, with the view, no
doubt, of making life more agreeable to the opposite sex, forgetting the
fact that men fall in love always, or used to in the days when they could
afford that luxury, with an ideal woman, or if not with an ideal woman,
with one whom they idealize. And at this same time the world is full of
doubts and questionings as to whether marriage is a failure. Have these
questionings anything to do with the increasing Realism of women, and a
consequent loss of ideals?

Of course the reader sees that the difficulty in considering this subject
is whether woman is to be estimated as a work of nature or of art. And
here comes in the everlasting question of what is the highest beauty, and
what is most to be desired. The Greek artists, it seems to be well
established, never used a model, as our artists almost invariably do, in
their plastic and pictorial creations. The antique Greek statues, or
their copies, which give us the highest conceptions of feminine charm and
manly beauty, were made after no woman, or man born of woman, but were
creations of the ideal raised to the highest conception by the passionate
love and long study of nature, but never by faithful copying of it. The
Romans copied the Greek art. The Greek in his best days created the
ideal figure, which we love to accept as nature. Generation after
generation the Greek learned to draw and learned to observe, until he was
able to transmute his knowledge into the forms of grace and beauty which
satisfy us as nature at her best; just as the novelist trains all his
powers by the observation of life until he is able to transmute all the
raw material into a creation of fiction which satisfies us. We may be
sure that if the Greek artist had employed the service of models in his
studio, his art would have been merely a passing phase in human history.
But as it is, the world has ever since been in love with his ideal woman,
and still believes in her possibility.

Now the young woman of today should not be deceived into the notion of a
preferable Realistic development because the novelist of today gets her
to sit to him as his model. This may be no certain indication that she
is either good art or good nature. Indeed she may be quite drifting away
from the ideal that a woman ought to aim at if we are to have a society
that is not always tending into a realistic vulgarity and commonplace.
It is perfectly true that a woman is her own excuse for being, and in a
way she is doing enough for the world by simply being a woman. It is
difficult to rouse her to any sense of her duty as a standard of
aspiration. And it is difficult to explain exactly what it is that she
is to do. If she asks if she is expected to be a model woman, the reply
must be that the world does not much hanker after what--is called the
"model woman." It seems to be more a matter of tendency than anything
else. Is she sagging towards Realism or rising towards Idealism? Is she
content to be the woman that some of the novelists, and some of the
painters also, say she is, or would she prefer to approach that ideal
which all the world loves? It is a question of standards.

It is natural that in these days, when the approved gospel is that it is
better to be dead than not to be Real, society should try to approach
nature by the way of the materialistically ignoble, and even go such a
pace of Realism as literature finds it difficult to keep up with; but it
is doubtful if the young woman will get around to any desirable state of
nature by this route. We may not be able to explain why servile
imitation of nature degrades art and degrades woman, but both deteriorate
without an ideal so high that there is no earthly model for it.
Would you like to marry, perhaps, a Greek statue? says the justly
contemptuous critic.

Not at all, at least not a Roman copy of one. But it would be better to
marry a woman who would rather be like a Greek statue than like some of
these figures, without even an idea for clothing, which are lying about
on green banks in our spring exhibitions.

THE ART OF IDLENESS

Idleness seems to be the last accomplishment of civilization. To be idle
gracefully and contentedly and picturesquely is an art. It is one in
which the Americans, who do so many things well, do not excel. They have
made the excuse that they have not time, or, if they have leisure, that
their temperament and nervous organization do not permit it. This excuse
will pass for a while, for we are a new people, and probably we are more
highly and sensitively organized than any other nation--at least the
physiologists say so; but the excuse seems more and more inadequate as we
accumulate wealth, and consequently have leisure. We shall not criticise
the American colonies in Paris and Rome and Florence, and in other
Continental places where they congregate. They know whether they are
restless or contented, and what examples they set to the peoples who get
their ideas of republican simplicity and virtue from the Americans who
sojourn among them. They know whether with all their leisure they get
placidity of mind and the real rest which the older nations have learned
to enjoy. It may not be the most desirable thing for a human being to be
idle, but if he will be, he should be so in a creditable manner, and with
some enjoyment to himself. It is no slander to say that we in America
have not yet found out the secret of this. Perhaps we shall not until
our energies are spent and we are in a state of decay. At present we put
as much energy into our pleasure as into our work, for it is inbred in us
that laziness is a sin. This is the Puritan idea, and it must be said
for it that in our experience virtue and idleness are not commonly
companions. But this does not go to the bottom of the matter.

The Italians are industrious; they are compelled to be in order to pay
their taxes for the army and navy and get macaroni enough to live on.
But see what a long civilization has done for them. They have the manner
of laziness, they have the air of leisure, they have worn off the angular
corners of existence, and unconsciously their life is picturesque and
enjoyable. Those among them who have money take their pleasure simply
and with the least expense of physical energy. Those who have not money
do the same thing. This basis of existence is calm and unexaggerated;
life is reckoned by centimes, not by dollars. What an ideal place is
Venice! It is not only the most picturesque city in the world, rich in
all that art can invent to please the eye, but how calm it is! The
vivacity which entertains the traveler is all on the surface. The
nobleman in his palace if there be any palace that is not turned into a
hotel, or a magazine of curiosities, or a municipal office--can live on a
diet that would make an American workman strike, simply because he has
learned to float through life; and the laborer is equally happy on little
because he has learned to wait without much labor. The gliding, easy
motion of the gondola expresses the whole situation; and the gondolier
who with consummate skill urges his dreamy bark amid the throng and in
the tortuous canals for an hour or two, and then sleeps in the sun, is a
type of that rest in labor which we do not attain. What happiness there
is in a dish of polenta, or of a few fried fish, in a cup of coffee, and
in one of those apologies for cigars which the government furnishes, dear
at a cent--the cigar with a straw in it, as if it were a julep, which it
needs five minutes to ignite, and then will furnish occupation for a
whole evening! Is it a hard lot, that of the fishermen and the mariners
of the Adriatic? The lights are burning all night long in a cafe on the
Riva del Schiavoni, and the sailors and idlers of the shore sit there
jabbering and singing. and trying their voices in lusty hallooing till
the morning light begins to make the lagoon opalescent. The traveler who
lodges near cannot sleep, but no more can the sailors, who steal away in
the dawn, wafted by painted sails. In the heat of the day, when the fish
will not bite, comes the siesta. Why should the royal night be wasted in
slumber? The shore of the Riva, the Grand Canal, the islands, gleam with
twinkling lamps; the dark boats glide along with a star in the prow,
bearing youth and beauty and sin and ugliness, all alike softened by the
shadows; the electric lights from the shores and the huge steamers shoot
gleams on towers and facades; the moon wades among the fleecy clouds;
here and there a barge with colored globes of light carries a band of
singing men and women and players on the mandolin and the fiddle, and
from every side the songs of Italy, pathetic in their worn gayety, float
to the entranced ears of those who lean from balconies, or lounge in
gondolas and listen with hearts made a little heavy and wistful with so
much beauty.

Can any one float in such scenes and be so contentedly idle anywhere in
our happy land? Have we learned yet the simple art of easy enjoyment?
Can we buy it with money quickly, or is it a grace that comes only with
long civilization? Italy, for instance, is full of accumulated wealth,
of art, even of ostentation and display, and the new generation probably
have lost the power to conceive, if not the skill to execute, the great
works which excite our admiration. Nothing can be much more meretricious
than its modern art, when anything is produced that is not an exact copy
of something created when there was genius there. But in one respect the
Italians have entered into the fruits of the ages of trial and of
failure, and that, is the capacity of being idle with much money or with
none, and getting day by day their pay for the bother of living in this
world. It seems a difficult lesson for us to learn in country or city.
Alas! when we have learned it shall we not want to emigrate, as so many
of the Italians do? Some philosophers say that men were not created to
be happy. Perhaps they were not intended to be idle.

IS THERE ANY CONVERSATION

Is there any such thing as conversation? It is a delicate subject to
touch, because many people understand conversation to be talk; not the
exchange of ideas, but of words; and we would not like to say anything to
increase the flow of the latter. We read of times and salons in which
real conversation existed, held by men and women. Are they altogether in
the past? We believe that men do sometimes converse. Do women ever?
Perhaps so. In those hours sacred to the relaxation of undress and the
back hair, in the upper penetralia of the household, where two or three
or six are gathered together on and about the cushioned frame intended
for repose, do they converse, or indulge in that sort of chat from which
not one idea is carried away? No one reports, fortunately, and we do not
know. But do all the women like this method of spending hour after hour,
day after day-indeed, a lifetime? Is it invigorating, even restful?
Think of the talk this past summer, the rivers and oceans of it, on
piazzas and galleries in the warm evenings or the fresher mornings, in
private houses, on hotel verandas, in the shade of thousands of cottages
by the sea and in the hills! As you recall it, what was it all about?
Was the mind in a vapid condition after an evening of it? And there is
so much to read, and so much to think about, and the world is so
interesting, if you do think about it, and nearly every person has some
peculiarity of mind that would be worth study if you could only get at
it! It is really, we repeat, such an interesting world, and most people
get so little out of it. Now there is the conversation of hens, when the
hens are busy and not self-conscious; there is something fascinating
about it, because the imagination may invest it with a recondite and
spicy meaning; but the common talk of people! We infer sometimes that
the hens are not saying anything, because they do not read, and
consequently their minds are empty. And perhaps we are right. As to
conversation, there is no use in sending the bucket into the well when
the well is dry--it only makes a rattling of windlass and chain.
We do not wish to be understood to be an enemy of the light traffic of
human speech. Deliver us from the didactic and the everlastingly
improving style of thing! Conversation, in order to be good, and
intellectually inspiring, and spiritually restful, need not always be
serious. It must be alert and intelligent, and mean more by its
suggestions and allusions than is said. There is the light touch-and-go
play about topics more or less profound that is as agreeable as heat-
lightning in a sultry evening. Why may not a person express the whims
and vagaries of a lambent mind (if he can get a lambent mind) without
being hauled up short for it, and plunged into a heated dispute? In the
freedom of real conversation the mind throws out half-thoughts,
paradoxes, for which a man is not to be held strictly responsible to the
very roots of his being, and which need to be caught up and played with
in the same tentative spirit. The dispute and the hot argument are
usually the bane of conversation and the death of originality. We like
to express a notion, a fancy, without being called upon to defend it,
then and there, in all its possible consequences, as if it were to be an
article in a creed or a plank in a platform. Must we be always either
vapid or serious?

We have been obliged to take notice of the extraordinary tendency of
American women to cultivation, to the improvement of the mind, by means
of reading, clubs, and other intellectual exercises, and to acknowledge
that they are leaving the men behind; that is, the men not in the so-
called professions. Is this intellectualization beginning to show in the
conversation of women when they are together, say in the hours of
relaxation in the penetralia spoken of, or in general society? Is there
less talk about the fashion of dress, and the dearness or cheapness of
materials, and about servants, and the ways of the inchoate citizen
called the baby, and the infinitely little details of the private life of
other people? Is it true that if a group of men are talking, say about
politics, or robust business, or literature, and they are joined by women
(whose company is always welcome), the conversation is pretty sure to
take a lower mental plane, to become more personal, more frivolous,
accommodating itself to quite a different range? Do the well-read,
thoughtful women, however beautiful and brilliant and capable of the
gayest persiflage, prefer to talk with men, to listen to the conversation
of men, rather than to converse with or listen to their own sex? If this
is true, why is it? Women, as a rule, in "society" at any rate, have
more leisure than men. In the facilities and felicities of speech they
commonly excel men, and usually they have more of that vivacious dramatic
power which is called "setting out a thing to the life." With all these
advantages, and all the world open to them in newspapers and in books,
they ought to be the leaders and stimulators of the best conversation.
With them it should never drop down to the too-common flatness and
banality. Women have made this world one of the most beautiful places of
residence to be conceived. They might make it one of the most
interesting.

THE TALL GIRL

It is the fashion for girls to be tall. This is much more than saying
that tall girls are the fashion. It means not only that the tall girl
has come in, but that girls are tall, and are becoming tall, because it
is the fashion, and because there is a demand for that sort of girl.
There is no hint of stoutness, indeed the willowy pattern is preferred,
but neither is leanness suggested; the women of the period have got hold
of the poet's idea, "tall and most divinely fair," and are living up to
it. Perhaps this change in fashion is more noticeable in England and on
the Continent than in America, but that may be because there is less room
for change in America, our girls being always of an aspiring turn. Very
marked the phenomenon is in England; on the street, at any concert or
reception, the number of tall girls is so large as to occasion remark,
especially among the young girls just coming into the conspicuousness of
womanhood. The tendency of the new generation is towards unusual height
and gracious slimness. The situation would be embarrassing to thousands
of men who have been too busy to think about growing upward, were it not
for the fact that the tall girl, who must be looked up to, is almost
invariably benignant, and bears her height with a sweet timidity that
disarms fear. Besides, the tall girl has now come on in such force that
confidence is infused into the growing army, and there is a sense of
support in this survival of the tallest that is very encouraging to the
young.

Many theories have been put forward to account for this phenomenon. It
is known that delicate plants in dark places struggle up towards the
light in a frail slenderness, and it is said that in England, which seems
to have increasing cloudiness, and in the capital more and more months of
deeper darkness and blackness, it is natural that the British girl should
grow towards the light. But this is a fanciful view of the case, for it
cannot be proved that English men have proportionally increased their
stature. The English man has always seemed big to the Continental
peoples, partly because objects generally take on gigantic dimensions
when seen through a fog. Another theory, which has much more to commend
it, is that the increased height of women is due to the aesthetic
movement, which has now spent its force, but has left certain results,
especially in the change of the taste in colors. The woman of the
aesthetic artist was nearly always tall, usually willowy, not to say
undulating and serpentine. These forms of feminine loveliness and
commanding height have been for many years before the eyes of the women
of England in paintings and drawings, and it is unavoidable that this
pattern should not have its effect upon the new and plastic generation.
Never has there been another generation so open to new ideas; and if the
ideal of womanhood held up was that of length and gracious slenderness,
it would be very odd if women should not aspire to it. We know very well
the influence that the heroines of the novelists have had from time to
time upon the women of a given period. The heroine of Scott was, no
doubt, once common in society--the delicate creature who promptly fainted
on the reminiscence of the scent of a rose, but could stand any amount of
dragging by the hair through underground passages, and midnight rides on
lonely moors behind mailed and black-mantled knights, and a run or two of
hair-removing typhoid fever, and come out at the end of the story as
fresh as a daisy. She could not be found now, so changed are the
requirements of fiction. We may assume, too, that the full-blown
aesthetic girl of that recent period--the girl all soul and faded
harmonies--would be hard to find, but the fascination of the height and
slenderness of that girl remains something more than a tradition, and is,
no doubt, to some extent copied by the maiden just coming into her
kingdom.

Those who would belittle this matter may say that the appearance of which
we speak is due largely to the fashion of dress--the long unbroken lines
which add to the height and encourage the appearance of slenderness. But
this argument gives away the case. Why do women wear the present
fascinating gowns, in which the lithe figure is suggested in all its
womanly dignity? In order that they may appear to be tall. That is to
say, because it is the fashion to be tall; women born in the mode are
tall, and those caught in a hereditary shortness endeavor to conform to
the stature of the come and coming woman.

There is another theory, that must be put forward with some hesitation,
for the so-called emancipation of woman is a delicate subject to deal
with, for while all the sex doubtless feel the impulse of the new time,
there are still many who indignantly reject the implication in the
struggle for the rights of women. To say, therefore, that women are
becoming tall as a part of their outfit for taking the place of men in
this world would be to many an affront, so that this theory can only be
suggested. Yet probably physiology would bear us out in saying that the
truly emancipated woman, taking at last the place in affairs which men
have flown in the face of Providence by denying her, would be likely to
expand physically as well as mentally, and that as she is beginning to
look down upon man intellectually, she is likely to have a corresponding
physical standard.

Seriously, however, none of these theories are altogether satisfactory,
and we are inclined to seek, as is best in all cases, the simplest
explanation. Women are tall and becoming tall simply because it is the
fashion, and that statement never needs nor is capable of any
explanation. Awhile ago it was the fashion to be petite and arch; it is
now the fashion to be tall and gracious, and nothing more can be said
about it. Of course the reader, who is usually inclined to find the
facetious side of any grave topic, has already thought of the application
of the self-denying hymn, that man wants but little here below, and wants
that little long; but this may be only a passing sigh of the period. We
are far from expressing any preference for tall women over short women.
There are creative moods of the fancy when each seems the better. We can
only chronicle, but never create.

THE DEADLY DIARY

Many people regard the keeping of a diary as a meritorious occupation.
The young are urged to take up this cross; it is supposed to benefit
girls especially. Whether women should do it is to some minds not an
open question, although there is on record the case of the Frenchman who
tried to shoot himself when he heard that his wife was keeping a diary.
This intention of suicide may have arisen from the fear that his wife was
keeping a record of his own peccadilloes rather than of her own thoughts
and emotions. Or it may have been from the fear that she was putting
down those little conjugal remarks which the husband always dislikes to
have thrown up to him, and which a woman can usually quote accurately, it
may be for years, it may be forever, without the help of a diary. So we
can appreciate without approving the terror of the Frenchman at living on
and on in the same house with a growing diary. For it is not simply that
this little book of judgment is there in black and white, but that the
maker of it is increasing her power of minute observation and analytic
expression. In discussing the question whether a woman should keep a
diary it is understood that it is not a mere memorandum of events and
engagements, such as both men and women of business and affairs
necessarily keep, but the daily record which sets down feelings,
emotions, and impressions, and criticises people and records opinions.
But this is a question that applies to men as well as to women.

It has been assumed that the diary serves two good purposes: it is a
disciplinary exercise for the keeper of it, and perhaps a moral guide;
and it has great historical value. As to the first, it may be helpful to
order, method, discipline, and it may be an indulgence of spleen, whims,
and unwholesome criticism and conceit. The habit of saying right out
what you think of everybody is not a good one, and the record of such
opinions and impressions, while it is not so mischievous to the public as
talking may be, is harmful to the recorder. And when we come to the
historical value of the diary, we confess to a growing suspicion of it.
It is such a deadly weapon when it comes to light after the passage of
years. It has an authority which the spoken words of its keeper never
had. It is 'ex parte', and it cannot be cross-examined. The supposition
is that being contemporaneous with the events spoken of, it must be true,
and that it is an honest record. Now, as a matter of fact, we doubt if
people are any more honest as to themselves or others in a diary than out
of it; and rumors, reported facts, and impressions set down daily in the
heat and haste of the prejudicial hour are about as likely to be wrong as
right. Two diaries of the same events rarely agree. And in turning over
an old diary we never know what to allow for the personal equation. The
diary is greatly relied on by the writers of history, but it is doubtful
if there is any such liar in the world, even when the keeper of it is
honest. It is certain to be partisan, and more liable to be misinformed
than a newspaper, which exercises some care in view of immediate
publicity. The writer happens to know of two diaries which record, on
the testimony of eye-witnesses, the circumstances of the last hours of
Garfield, and they differ utterly in essential particulars. One of these
may turn up fifty years from now, and be accepted as true. An infinite
amount of gossip goes into diaries about men and women that would not
stand the test of a moment's contemporary publication. But by-and-by it
may all be used to smirch or brighten unjustly some one's character.
Suppose a man in the Army of the Potomac had recorded daily all his
opinions of men and events. Reading it over now, with more light and a
juster knowledge of character and of measures, is it not probable that he
would find it a tissue of misconceptions? Few things are actually what
they seem today; they are colored both by misapprehensions and by moods.
If a man writes a letter or makes report of an occurrence for immediate
publication, subject to universal criticism, there is some restraint on
him. In his private letter, or diary especially, he is apt to set down
what comes into his head at the moment, often without much effort at
verification.

We have been led to this disquisition into the fundamental nature of this
private record by the question put to us, whether it is a good plan for a
woman to keep a diary. Speaking generally, the diary has become a sort
of fetich, the authority of which ought to be overthrown. It is fearful
to think how our characters are probably being lied away by innumerable
pen scratches in secret repositories, which may some day come to light as
unimpeachable witnesses. The reader knows that he is not the sort of man
which the diarist jotted him down to be in a single interview. The diary
may be a good thing for self-education, if the keeper could insure its
destruction. The mental habit of diarizing may have some value, even
when it sets undue importance upon trifles. We confess that, never
having seen a woman's private diary (except those that have been
published), we do not share the popular impression as to their tenuity
implied in the question put to us. Taking it for granted that they are
full of noble thoughts and beautiful imaginings, we doubt whether the
time spent on them could not be better employed in acquiring knowledge or
taking exercise. For the diary forgotten and left to the next generation
may be as dangerous as dynamite.

THE WHISTLING GIRL

The wisdom of our ancestors packed away in proverbial sayings may always
be a little suspected. We have a vague respect for a popular proverb, as
embodying folk-experience, and expressing not the wit of one, but the
common thought of a race. We accept the saying unquestioning, as a sort
of inspiration out of the air, true because nobody has challenged it for
ages, and probably for the same reason that we try to see the new moon
over our left shoulder. Very likely the musty saying was the product of
the average ignorance of an unenlightened time, and ought not to have the
respect of a scientific and traveled people. In fact it will be found
that a large proportion of the proverbial sayings which we glibly use are
fallacies based on a very limited experience of the world, and probably
were set afloat by the idiocy or prejudice of one person. To examine one
of them is enough for our present purpose.

"Whistling girls and crowing hens
Always come to some bad ends."

It would be interesting to know the origin of this proverb, because it is
still much relied on as evincing a deep knowledge of human nature, and as
an argument against change, that is to say, in this case, against
progress. It would seem to have been made by a man, conservative,
perhaps malevolent, who had no appreciation of a hen, and a
conservatively poor opinion of woman. His idea was to keep woman in her
place--a good idea when not carried too far--but he did not know what her
place is, and he wanted to put a sort of restraint upon her emancipation
by coupling her with an emancipated hen. He therefore launched this
shaft of ridicule, and got it to pass as an arrow of wisdom shot out of a
popular experience in remote ages.

In the first place, it is not true, and probably never was true even when
hens were at their lowest. We doubts its Sanscrit antiquity. It is
perhaps of Puritan origin, and rhymed in New England. It is false as to
the hen. A crowing hen was always an object of interest and distinction;
she was pointed out to visitors; the owner was proud of her
accomplishment, he was naturally likely to preserve her life, and
especially if she could lay. A hen that can lay and crow is a 'rara
avis'. And it should be parenthetically said here that the hen who can
crow and cannot lay is not a good example for woman. The crowing hen was
of more value than the silent hen, provided she crowed with discretion;
and she was likely to be a favorite, and not at all to come to some bad
end. Except, indeed, where the proverb tended to work its own
fulfillment. And this is the regrettable side of most proverbs of an
ill-nature, that they do help to work the evil they predict. Some
foolish boy, who had heard this proverb, and was sent out to the hen-coop
in the evening to slay for the Thanksgiving feast, thought he was a
justifiable little providence in wringing the neck of the crowing hen,
because it was proper (according to the saying) that she should come to
some bad end. And as years went on, and that kind of boy increased and
got to be a man, it became a fixed idea to kill the amusing, interesting,
spirited, emancipated hen, and naturally the barn-yard became tamer and
tamer, the production of crowing hens was discouraged (the wise old hens
laid no eggs with a crow in them, according to the well-known principle
of heredity), and the man who had in his youth exterminated the hen of
progress actually went about quoting that false couplet as an argument
against the higher education of woman.

As a matter of fact, also, the couplet is not true about woman; whether
it ought to be true is an ethical question that will not be considered
here. The whistling girl does not commonly come to a bad end. Quite as
often as any other girl she learns to whistle a cradle song, low and
sweet and charming, to the young voter in the cradle. She is a girl of
spirit, of independence of character, of dash and flavor; and as to lips,
why, you must have some sort of presentable lips to whistle; thin ones
will not. The whistling girl does not come to a bad end at all (if
marriage is still considered a good occupation), except a cloud may be
thrown upon her exuberant young life by this rascally proverb. Even if
she walks the lonely road of life, she has this advantage, that she can
whistle to keep her courage up. But in a larger sense, one that this
practical age can understand, it is not true that the whistling girl
comes to a bad end. Whistling pays. It has brought her money; it has
blown her name about the listening world. Scarcely has a non-whistling
woman been more famous. She has set aside the adage. She has done so
much towards the emancipation of her sex from the prejudice created by an
ill-natured proverb which never had root in fact.

But has the whistling woman come to stay? Is it well for woman to
whistle? Are the majority of women likely to be whistlers? These are
serious questions, not to be taken up in a light manner at the end of a
grave paper. Will woman ever learn to throw a stone? There it is. The
future is inscrutable. We only know that whereas they did not whistle
with approval, now they do; the prejudice of generations gradually melts
away. And woman's destiny is not linked with that of the hen, nor to be
controlled by a proverb--perhaps not by anything.

BORN OLD AND RICH

We have been remiss in not proposing a remedy for our present social and
economic condition. Looking backward, we see this. The scheme may not
be practical, any more than the Utopian plans that have been put forward,
but it is radical and interesting, and requires, as the other schemes do,
a total change in human nature (which may be a good thing to bring
about), and a general recasting of the conditions of life. This is and
should be no objection to a socialistic scheme. Surface measures will
not avail. The suggestion for a minor alleviation of inequality, which
seems to have been acted on, namely, that women should propose, has not
had the desired effect if it is true, as reported, that the eligible
young men are taking to the woods. The workings of such a measure are as
impossible to predict in advance as the operation of the McKinley tariff.
It might be well to legislate that people should be born equal (including
equal privileges of the sexes), but the practical difficulty is to keep
them equal. Life is wrong somehow. Some are born rich and some are born
poor, and this inequality makes misery, and then some lose their
possessions, which others get hold of, and that makes more misery. We
can put our fingers on the two great evils of life as it now is: the
first is poverty; and the second is infirmity, which is the accompaniment
of increasing years. Poverty, which is only the unequal distribution of
things desired, makes strife, and is the opportunity of lawyers; and
infirmity is the excuse for doctors. Think what the world would be
without lawyers and doctors!

We are all born young, and most of us are born poor. Youth is
delightful, but we are always getting away from it. How different it
would be if we were always going towards it! Poverty is unpleasant, and
the great struggle of life is to get rid of it; but it is the common
fortune that in proportion as wealth is attained the capacity of enjoying
it departs. It seems, therefore, that our life is wrong end first. The
remedy suggested is that men should be born rich and old. Instead of the
necessity of making a fortune, which is of less and less value as death
approaches, we should have only the privilege of spending it, and it
would have its natural end in the cradle, in which we should be rocked
into eternal sleep. Born old, one would, of course, inherit experience,
so that wealth could be made to contribute to happiness, and each day,
instead of lessening the natural powers and increasing infirmities, would
bring new vigor and capacity of enjoyment. It would be going from winter
to autumn, from autumn to summer, from summer to spring. The joy of a
life without care as to ways and means, and every morning refitted with
the pulsations of increasing youth, it is almost impossible to imagine.
Of course this scheme has difficulties on the face of it. The allotting
of the measure of wealth would not be difficult to the socialists,
because they would insist that every person should be born with an equal
amount of property. What this should be would depend upon the length of
life; and how should this be arrived at? The insurance companies might
agree, but no one else would admit that he belongs in the average.
Naturally the Biblical limit of threescore and ten suggests itself; but
human nature is very queer. With the plain fact before them that the
average life of man is less than thirty-four years, few would be willing,
if the choice were offered, to compromise on seventy. Everybody has a
hope of going beyond that, so that if seventy were proposed as the year
at birth, there would no doubt be as much dissatisfaction as there is at
the present loose arrangement. Science would step in, and demonstrate
that there is no reason why, with proper care of the system, it should
not run a hundred years. It is improbable, then, that the majority could
be induced to vote for the limit of seventy years, or to exchange the
exciting uncertainty of adding a little to the period which must be
accompanied by the weight of the grasshopper, for the certainty of only
seventy years in this much-abused world.

But suppose a limit to be agreed on, and the rich old man and the rich
old woman (never now too old to marry) to start on their career towards
youth and poverty. The imagination kindles at the idea. The money would
hold out just as long as life lasted, and though it would all be going
downhill, as it were, what a charming descent, without struggle, and with
only the lessening infirmities that belong to decreasing age! There
would be no second childhood, only the innocence and elasticity of the
first. It all seems very fair, but we must not forget that this is a
mortal world, and that it is liable to various accidents. Who, for
instance, could be sure that he would grow young gracefully? There would
be the constant need of fighting the hot tempers and impulses of youth,
growing more and more instead of less and less unreasonable. And then,
how many would reach youth? More than half, of course, would be cut off
in their prime, and be more and more liable to go as they fell back into
the pitfalls and errors of childhood. Would people grow young together
even as harmoniously as they grow old together? It would be a pretty
sight, that of the few who descended into the cradle together, but this
inversion of life would not escape the woes of mortality. And there are
other considerations, unless it should turn out that a universal tax on
land should absolutely change human nature. There are some who would be
as idle and spendthrift going towards youth as they now are going away
from it, and perhaps more, so that half the race on coming to immaturity
would be in child asylums. And then others who would be stingy and
greedy and avaricious, and not properly spend their allotted fortune.
And we should have the anomaly, which is so distasteful to the reformer
now, of rich babies. A few babies inordinately rich, and the rest in
asylums.

Still, the plan has more to recommend it than most others for removing
poverty and equalizing conditions. We should all start rich, and the
dying off of those who would never attain youth would amply provide
fortunes for those born old. Crime would be less also; for while there
would, doubtless, be some old sinners, the criminal class, which is very
largely under thirty, would be much smaller than it is now. Juvenile
depravity would proportionally disappear, as not more people would reach
non-age than now reach over-age. And the great advantage of the scheme,
one that would indeed transform the world, is that women would always be
growing younger.

THE "OLD SOLDIER"

The "old soldier" is beginning to outline himself upon the public mind as
a distant character in American life. Literature has not yet got hold of
him, and perhaps his evolution is not far enough advanced to make him as
serviceable as the soldier of the Republic and the Empire, the relic of
the Old Guard, was to Hugo and Balzac, the trooper of Italy and Egypt,
the maimed hero of Borodino and Waterloo, who expected again the coming
of the Little Corporal. It takes time to develop a character, and to
throw the glamour of romance over what may be essentially commonplace. A
quarter of a century has not sufficed to separate the great body of the
surviving volunteers in the war for the Union from the body of American
citizens, notwithstanding the organization of the Grand Army of the
Republic, the encampments, the annual reunions, and the distinction of
pensions, and the segregation in Soldiers' Homes. The "old soldier"
slowly eliminates himself from the mass, and begins to take, and to make
us take, a romantic view of his career. There was one event in his life,
and his personality in it looms larger and larger as he recedes from it.
The heroic sacrifice of it does not diminish, as it should not, in our
estimation, and he helps us to keep glowing a lively sense of it. The
past centres about him and his great achievement, and the whole of life
is seen in the light of it. In his retreat in the Home, and in his
wandering from one Home to another, he ruminates on it, he talks of it;
he separates himself from the rest of mankind by a broad distinction, and
his point of view of life becomes as original as it is interesting. In
the Homes the battered veterans speak mainly of one thing; and in the
monotony of their spent lives develop whimseys and rights and wrongs,
patriotic ardors and criticisms on their singular fate, which are
original in their character in our society. It is in human nature to
like rest but not restriction, bounty but not charity, and the tired
heroes of the war grow restless, though every physical want is supplied.
They have a fancy that they would like to see again the homes of their
youth, the farmhouse in the hills, the cottage in the river valley, the
lonesome house on the wide prairie, the street that ran down to the wharf
where the fishing-smacks lay, to see again the friends whom they left
there, and perhaps to take up the occupations that were laid down when
they seized the musket in 1861. Alas! it is not their home anymore; the
friends are no longer there; and what chance is there of occupation for a
man who is now feeble in body and who has the habit of campaigning? This
generation has passed on to other things. It looks upon the hero as an
illustration in the story of the war, which it reads like history. The
veteran starts out from the shelter of the Home. One evening, towards
sunset, the comfortable citizen, taking the mild air on his piazza, sees
an interesting figure approach. Its dress is half military, half that of
the wanderer whose attention to his personal appearance is only
spasmodic.

The veteran gives the military salute, he holds himself erect, almost too
erect, and his speech is voluble and florid. It is a delightful evening;
it seems to be a good growing-time; the country looks prosperous. He is
sorry to be any trouble or interruption, but the fact is--yes, he is on
his way to his old home in Vermont; it seems like he would like to taste
some home cooking again, and sit in the old orchard, and perhaps lay his
bones, what is left of them, in the burying-ground on the hill. He pulls
out his well-worn papers as he talks; there is the honorable discharge,
the permit of the Home, and the pension. Yes, Uncle Sam is generous; it
is the most generous government God ever made, and he would willingly
fight for it again. Thirty dollars a month, that is what he has; he is
not a beggar; he wants for nothing. But the pension is not payable till
the end of the month. It is entirely his own obligation, his own fault;
he can fight, but he cannot lie, and nobody is to blame but himself; but
last night he fell in with some old comrades at Southdown, and, well, you
know how it is. He had plenty of money when he left the Home, and he is
not asking for anything now, but if he had a few dollars for his railroad
fare to the next city, he could walk the rest of the way. Wounded?
Well, if I stood out here against the light you could just see through
me, that's all. Bullets? It's no use to try to get 'em out. But, sir,
I'm not complaining. It had to be done; the country had to be saved; and
I'd do it again if it were necessary. Had any hot fights? Sir, I was at
Gettysburg! The veteran straightens up, and his eyes flash as if he saw
again that sanguinary field. Off goes the citizen's hat. Children, come
out here; here is one of the soldiers of Gettysburg! Yes, sir; and this
knee--you see I can't bend it much--got stiffened at Chickamauga; and
this scratch here in the neck was from a bullet at Gaines Mill; and this
here, sir--thumping his chest--you notice I don't dare to cough much--
after the explosion of a shell at Petersburg I found myself lying on
my-back, and the only one of my squad who was not killed outright. Was
it the imagination of the citizen or of the soldier that gave the
impression that the hero had been in the forefront of every important
action of the war? Well, it doesn't matter much. The citizen was
sitting there under his own vine, the comfortable citizen of a free
republic, because of the wounds in this cheerful and imaginative old
wanderer. There, that is enough, sir, quite enough. I am no beggar.
I thought perhaps you had heard of the Ninth Vermont. Woods is my name
--Sergeant Woods. I trust some time, sir, I shall be in a position to
return the compliment. Good-evening, sir; God bless your honor! and
accept the blessing of an old soldier. And the dear old hero goes down
the darkening avenue, not so steady of bearing as when he withstood the
charge of Pickett on Cemetery Hill, and with the independence of the
American citizen who deserves well of his country, makes his way to the
nearest hospitable tavern.

THE ISLAND OF BIMINI

To the northward of Hispaniola lies the island of Bimini. It may not be
one of the spice islands, but it grows the best ginger to be found in the
world. In it is a fair city, and beside the city a lofty mountain, at
the foot of which is a noble spring called the 'Fons Juventutis'. This
fountain has a sweet savor, as of all manner of spicery, and every hour
of the day the water changes its savor and its smell. Whoever drinks of
this well will be healed of whatever malady he has, and will seem always
young. It is not reported that women and men who drink of this fountain
will be always young, but that they will seem so, and probably to
themselves, which simply means, in our modern accuracy of language, that
they will feel young. This island has never been found. Many voyages
have been made in search of it in ships and in the imagination, and Liars
have said they have landed on it and drunk of the water, but they never
could guide any one else thither. In the credulous centuries when these
voyages were made, other islands were discovered, and a continent much
more important than Bimini; but these discoveries were a disappointment,
because they were not what the adventurers wanted. They did not
understand that they had found a new land in which the world should renew
its youth and begin a new career. In time the quest was given up, and
men regarded it as one of the delusions which came to an end in the
sixteenth century. In our day no one has tried to reach Bimini except
Heine. Our scientific period has a proper contempt for all such
superstitions. We now know that the 'Fons Juventutis' is in every man,
and that if actually juvenility cannot be renewed, the advance of age can
be arrested and the waste of tissues be prevented, and an uncalculated
length of earthly existence be secured, by the injection of some sort of
fluid into the system. The right fluid has not yet been discovered by
science, but millions of people thought that it had the other day, and
now confidently expect it. This credulity has a scientific basis, and
has no relation to the old absurd belief in Bimini. We thank goodness
that we do not live in a credulous age.

The world would be in a poor case indeed if it had not always before it
some ideal or millennial condition, some panacea, some transmutation of
base metals into gold, some philosopher's stone, some fountain of youth,
some process of turning charcoal into diamonds, some scheme for
eliminating evil. But it is worth mentioning that in the historical
evolution we have always got better things than we sought or imagined,
developments on a much grander scale. History is strewn with the wreck
of popular delusions, but always in place of them have come realizations
more astonishing than the wildest fancies of the dreamers. Florida was a
disappointment as a Bimini, so were the land of the Ohio, the land of the
Mississippi, the Dorado of the Pacific coast. But as the illusions,
pushed always westward, vanished in the light of common day, lo! a
continent gradually emerged, with millions of people animated by
conquering ambition of progress in freedom; an industrial continent,
covered with a network of steel, heated by steam, and lighted by
electricity. What a spectacle of youth on a grand scale is this!
Christopher Columbus had not the slightest conception of what he was
doing when he touched the button. But we are not satisfied. Quite as
far from being so as ever. The popular imagination runs a hard race with
any possible natural development. Being in possession of so much, we now
expect to travel in the air, to read news in the sending mind before it
is sent, to create force without cost, to be transported without time,
and to make everybody equal in fortune and happiness to everybody else by
act of Congress. Such confidence have we in the power of a "resolution"
of the people and by the people that it seems feasible to make women into
men, oblivious of the more important and imperative task that will then
arise of making men into women. Some of these expectations are only
Biminis of the present, but when they have vanished there will be a
social and industrial world quite beyond our present conceptions, no
doubt. In the article of woman, for instance, she may not become the
being that the convention expects, but there may appear a Woman of whom
all the Aspasias and Helens were only the faintest types. And although
no progress will take the conceit out of men, there may appear a Man so
amenable to ordinary reason that he will give up the notion that he can
lift himself up by his bootstraps, or make one grain of wheat two by
calling it two.

One of the Biminis that have always been looked for is an American
Literature. There was an impression that there must be such a thing
somewhere on a continent that has everything else. We gave the world
tobacco and the potato, perhaps the most important contributions to the
content and the fatness of the world made by any new country, and it was
a noble ambition to give it new styles of art and literature also. There
seems to have been an impression that a literature was something
indigenous or ready-made, like any other purely native product, not
needing any special period of cultivation or development, and that a
nation would be in a mortifying position without one, even before it
staked out its cities or built any roads. Captain John Smith, if he had
ever settled here and spread himself over the continent, as he was
capable of doing, might have taken the contract to furnish one, and we
may be sure that he would have left us nothing to desire in that
direction. But the vein of romance he opened was not followed up. Other
prospectings were made. Holes, so to speak, were dug in New England, and
in the middle South, and along the frontier, and such leads were found
that again and again the certainty arose that at last the real American
ore had been discovered. Meantime a certain process called civilization
went on, and certain ideas of breadth entered into our conceptions, and
ideas also of the historical development of the expression of thought in
the world, and with these a comprehension of what American really is, and
the difficulty of putting the contents of a bushel measure into a pint
cup. So, while we have been expecting the American Literature to come
out from some locality, neat and clean, like a nugget, or, to change the
figure, to bloom any day like a century-plant, in one striking, fragrant
expression of American life, behold something else has been preparing and
maturing, larger and more promising than our early anticipations. In
history, in biography, in science, in the essay, in the novel and story,
there are coming forth a hundred expressions of the hundred aspects of
American life; and they are also sung by the poets in notes as varied as
the migrating birds. The birds perhaps have the best of it thus far, but
the bird is limited to a small range of performances while he shifts his
singing-boughs through the climates of the continent, whereas the poet,
though a little inclined to mistake aspiration for inspiration, and
vagueness of longing for subtlety, is experimenting in a most hopeful
manner. And all these writers, while perhaps not consciously American or
consciously seeking to do more than their best in their several ways, are
animated by the free spirit of inquiry and expression that belongs to an
independent nation, and so our literature is coming to have a stamp of
its own that is unlike any other national stamp. And it will have this
stamp more authentically and be clearer and stronger as we drop the self-
consciousness of the necessity of being American.

JUNE

Here is June again! It never was more welcome in these Northern
latitudes. It seems a pity that such a month cannot be twice as long.
It has been the pet of the poets, but it is not spoiled, and is just as
full of enchantment as ever. The secret of this is that it is the month
of both hope and fruition. It is the girl of eighteen, standing with all
her charms on the eve of womanhood, in the dress and temperament of
spring. And the beauty of it is that almost every woman is young, if
ever she were young, in June. For her the roses bloom, and the red
clover. It is a pity the month is so short. It is as full of vigor as
of beauty. The energy of the year is not yet spent; indeed, the world is
opening on all sides; the school-girl is about to graduate into liberty;
and the young man is panting to kick or row his way into female adoration
and general notoriety. The young men have made no mistake about the kind
of education that is popular with women. The women like prowess and the
manly virtues of pluck and endurance. The world has not changed in this
respect. It was so with the Greeks; it was so when youth rode in
tournaments and unhorsed each other for the love of a lady. June is the
knightly month. On many a field of gold and green the heroes will kick
their way into fame; and bands of young women, in white, with their
diplomas in their hands, star-eyed mathematicians and linguists, will
come out to smile upon the victors in that exhibition of strength that
women most admire. No, the world is not decaying or losing its
juvenility. The motto still is, "Love, and may the best man win!" How
jocund and immortal is woman! Now, in a hundred schools and colleges,
will stand up the solemn, well-intentioned man before a row of pretty
girls, and tell them about Womanhood and its Duties, and they will listen
just as shyly as if they were getting news, and needed to be instructed
by a man on a subject which has engaged their entire attention since they
were five years old. In the light of science and experience the conceit
of men is something curious. And in June! the most blossoming, riant,
feminine time of the year. The month itself is a liberal education to
him who is not insensible to beauty and the strong sweet promise of life.
The streams run clear then, as they do not in April; the sky is high and
transparent; the world seems so large and fresh and inviting. Our
houses, which six months in the year in these latitudes are
fortifications of defense, are open now, and the breath of life flows
through them. Even over the city the sky is benign, and all the country
is a heavenly exhibition. May was sweet and capricious. This is the
maidenhood deliciousness of the year. If you were to bisect the heart of
a true poet, you would find written therein JUNE.

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