Part 3 out of 5
pitch of the shoulder, twelve foot, both which hath been taken by some
of my sceptique readers to be monstrous lies"; and he adds,--"There
are certain transcendentia in every creature, which are the indelible
character of God, and which discover God." This is a greater dilemma
to be caught in than is presented by the cranium of the young Bechuana
ox, apparently another of the _transcendentia_, in the collection
of Thomas Steel, Upper Brook Street, London, whose "entire length of
horn, from tip to tip, along the curve, is 13 ft. 5 in.; distance
(straight) between the tips of the horns, 8 ft. 8-1/2 in." However, the
size both of the moose and the cougar, as I have found, is generally
rather underrated than overrated, and I should be inclined to add to
the popular estimate a part of what I subtracted from Josselyn's.
But we talked mostly with the Governor's son-in-law, a very sensible
Indian; and the Governor, being so old and deaf, permitted himself to
be ignored, while we asked questions about him. The former said, that
there were two political parties among them,--one in favor of schools,
and the other opposed to them, or rather they did not wish to resist
the priest, who was opposed to them. The first had just prevailed at
the election and sent their man to the legislature. Neptune and
Aitteon and he himself were in favor of schools. He said, "If Indians
got learning, they would keep their money." When we asked where Joe's
father, Aitteon, was, he knew that he must be at Lincoln, though he
was about going a-moose-hunting, for a messenger had just gone to him
there to get his signature to some papers. I asked Neptune if they had
any of the old breed of dogs yet. He answered, "Yes." "But that," said
I, pointing to one that had just come in, "is a Yankee dog." He
assented. I said that he did not look like a good one. "Oh, yes!" he
said, and he told, with much gusto, how, the year before, he had
caught and held by the throat a wolf. A very small black puppy rushed
into the room and made at the Governor's feet, as he sat in his
stockings with his legs dangling from the bedside. The Governor rubbed
his hands and dared him to come on, entering into the sport with
spirit. Nothing more that was significant transpired, to my knowledge,
during this interview. This was the first time that I ever called on a
governor, but, as I did not ask for an office, I can speak of it with
the more freedom.
An Indian who was making canoes behind a house, looking up pleasantly
from his work,--for he knew my companion,--said that his name was Old
John Pennyweight. I had heard of him long before, and I inquired after
one of his contemporaries, Joe Four-pence-ha'penny; but, alas! he no
longer circulates. I made a faithful study of canoe-building, and I
thought that I should like to serve an apprenticeship at that trade
for one season, going into the woods for bark with my "boss," making
the canoe there, and returning in it at last.
While the _bateau_ was coming over to take us off, I picked up
some fragments of arrow-heads on the shore, and one broken stone
chisel, which were greater novelties to the Indians than to me. After
this, on Old Fort Hill, at, the bend of the Penobscot, three miles
above Bangor, looking for the site of an Indian town which some think
stood thereabouts, I found more arrow-heads, and two little dark and
crumbling fragments of Indian earthenware, in the ashes of their
fires. The Indians on the Island appeared to live quite happily and
to be well treated by the inhabitants of Oldtown.
We visited Veazie's mills, just below the Island, where were sixteen
sets of saws,--some gang saws, sixteen in a gang, not to mention
circular saws. On. one side, they were hauling the logs up an
inclined plane by water-power; on the other, passing out the boards,
planks, and sawed timber, and forming them into rafts. The trees were
literally drawn and quartered there. In forming the rafts, they use
the lower three feet of hard-wood saplings, which have a crooked and
knobbed butt-end, for bolts, passing them up through holes bored in
the corners and sides of the rafts, and keying them. In another
apartment they were making fence-slats, such as stand all over New
England, out of odds and ends,--and it may be that I saw where the
picket-fence behind which I dwell at home came from. I was surprised
to find a boy collecting the long edgings of boards as fast as cut
off, and thrusting them down a hopper, where they were _ground
up_ beneath the mill, that they might be out of the way; otherwise
they accumulate in vast piles by the side of the building, increasing
the danger from fire, or, floating off, they obstruct the river. This
was not only a saw-mill, but a grist-mill, then. The inhabitants of
Oldtown, Stillwater, and Bangor cannot suffer for want of
kindling-stuff, surely. Some get their living exclusively by picking
up the drift-wood and selling it by the cord in the winter. In one
place I saw where an Irishman, who keeps a team and a man for the
purpose, had covered the shore for a long distance with regular piles,
and I was told that he had sold twelve hundred dollars' worth in a
year. Another, who lived by the shore, told me that he got all the
material of his out-buildings and fences from the river; and in that
neighborhood I perceived that this refuse wood was frequently used
instead of sand to fill hollows with, being apparently cheaper than
I got my first clear view of Katadn, on this excursion, from a hill
about two miles northwest of Bangor, whither I went for this
purpose. After this I was ready to return to Massachusetts.
* * * * *
Humboldt has written an interesting chapter on the primitive forest,
but no one has yet described for me the difference between that wild
forest which once occupied our oldest townships, and the tame one
which I find there to-day. It is a difference which would be worth
attending to. The civilized man not only clears the land permanently
to a great extent, and cultivates open fields, but he tames and
cultivates to a certain extent the forest itself. By his mere
presence, almost, he changes the nature of the trees as no other
creature does. The sun and air, and perhaps fire, have been
introduced, and grain raised where it stands. It has lost its wild,
damp, and shaggy look, the countless fallen and decaying trees are
gone, and consequently that thick coat of moss which lived on them is
gone too. The earth is comparatively bare and smooth and dry. The
most primitive places left with us are the swamps, where the spruce
still grows shaggy with usnea. The surface of the ground in the Maine
woods is everywhere spongy and saturated with moisture. I noticed that
the plants which cover the forest floor there are such as are commonly
confined to swamps with us,--the _Clintonia borealis_, orchises,
creeping snowberry, and others; and the prevailing aster there is the
_Aster acuminatus_, which with us grows in damp and shady
woods. The asters _cordifolias_ and _macrophyllus_ also are
common, asters of little or no color, and sometimes without petals. I
saw no soft, spreading, second-growth white-pines, with smooth bark,
acknowledging the presence of the wood-chopper, but even the young
white-pines were all tall and slender rough-barked trees.
Those Maine woods differ essentially from ours. There you are never
reminded that the wilderness which you are threading is, after all,
some villager's familiar wood-lot, some widow's thirds, from which her
ancestors have sledded fuel for generations, minutely described in
some old deed which is recorded, of which the owner has got a plan
too, and old bound-marks may be found every forty rods, if you will
search. 'Tis true, the map may inform you that you stand on land
granted by the State to some academy, or on Bingham's purchase; but
these names do not impose on you, for you see nothing to remind you of
the academy or of Bingham. What were the "forests" of England to
these? One writer relates of the Isle of Wight, that in Charles the
Second's time "there were woods in the island so complete and
extensive, that it is said a squirrel might have travelled in several
parts many leagues together on the top of the trees." If it were not
for the rivers, (and he might go round their heads,) a squirrel could
here travel thus the whole breadth of the country.
We have as yet had no adequate account of a primitive pine-forest. I
have noticed that in a physical atlas lately published in
Massachusetts, and used in our schools, the "wood land" of North
America is limited almost solely to the valleys of the Ohio and some
of the Great Lakes, and the great pine-forests of the globe are not
represented. In our vicinity, for instance, New Brunswick and Maine
are exhibited as bare as Greenland. It may be that the children of
Greenville, at the foot of Moosehead Lake, who surely are not likely
to be scared by an owl, are referred to the valley of the Ohio to get
an idea of a forest; but they would not know what to do with their
moose, bear, caribou, beaver, etc., there. Shall we leave it to an
Englishman to inform us, that "in North America, both in the United
States and Canada, are the most extensive pine-forests in the world"?
The greater part of New Brunswick, the northern half of Maine, and
adjacent parts of Canada, not to mention the northeastern part of New
York and other tracts further off, are still covered with an almost
But Maine, perhaps, will soon be where Massachusetts is. A good part
of her territory is already as bare and common-place as much of our
neighborhood, and her villages generally are not so well shaded as
ours. We seem to think that the earth must go through the ordeal of
sheep-pasturage before it is habitable by man. Consider Nahant, the
resort of all the fashion of Boston,--which peninsula I saw but
indistinctly in the twilight, when I steamed by it, and thought that
it was unchanged since the discovery. John Smith described it in 1614
as "the Mattahunts, two pleasant isles of groves, gardens, and
cornfields"; and others tell us that it was once well wooded, and even
furnished timber to build the wharves of Boston. Now it is difficult
to make a tree grow there, and the visitor comes away with a vision of
Mr. Tudor's ugly fences a rod high, designed to protect a few
pear-shrubs. And what are we coming to in our Middlesex towns?--a
bald, staring town-house, or meeting-house, and a bare liberty-pole,
as leafless as it is fruitless, for all I can see. We shall be obliged
to import the timber for the last, hereafter, or splice such sticks as
we have;--and our ideas of liberty are equally mean with these. The
very willow-rows lopped every three years for fuel or powder,--and
every sizable pine and oak, or other forest tree, cut down within the
memory of man! As if individual speculators were to be allowed to
export the clouds out of the sky, or the stars out of the firmament,
one by one. We shall be reduced to gnaw the very crust of the earth
They have even descended to smaller game. They have lately, as I hear,
invented a machine for chopping up huckleberry-bushes fine, and so
converting them into fuel!--bushes which, for fruit alone, are worth
all the pear-trees in the country many times over. (I can give you a
list of the three best kinds, if you want it.) At this rate, we shall
all be obliged to let our beards grow at least, if only to hide the
nakedness of the land and make a sylvan appearance. The farmer
sometimes talks of "brushing up," simply as if bare ground looked
better than clothed ground, than that which wears its natural
vesture,--as if the wild hedges, which, perhaps, are more to his
children than his whole farm beside, were _dirt_. I know of one
who deserves to be called the Tree-hater, and, perhaps, to leave this
for a new patronymic to his children. You would think that he had
been warned by an oracle that he would be killed by the fall of a
tree, and so was resolved to anticipate them. The journalists think
that they cannot say too much in favor of such "improvements" in
husbandry; it is a safe theme, like piety; but as for the beauty of
one of these "model farms," I would as lief see a patent churn and a
man turning it. They are, commonly, places merely where somebody is
making money, it may be counterfeiting. The virtue of making two
blades of grass grow where only one grew before does not begin to be
Nevertheless, it was a relief to get back to our smooth, but still
varied landscape. For a permanent residence, it seemed to me that
there could be no comparison between this and the wilderness,
necessary as the latter is for a resource and a background, the raw
material of all our civilization. The wilderness is simple, almost to
barrenness. The partially cultivated country it is which chiefly has
inspired, and will continue to inspire, the strains of poets, such as
compose the mass of any literature. Our woods are sylvan, and their
inhabitants woodmen and rustics,--that is, _selvaggia_, and the
inhabitants are _salvages_. A civilized man, using the word in
the ordinary sense, with his ideas and associations, must at length
pine there, like a cultivated plant, which clasps its fibres about a
crude and undissolved mass of peat. At the extreme North, the voyagers
are obliged to dance and act plays for employment. Perhaps our own
woods and fields,--in the best wooded towns, where we need not quarrel
about the huckleberries,--with the primitive swamps scattered here and
there in their midst, but not prevailing over them, are the perfection
of parks and groves, gardens, arbors, paths, vistas, and landscapes.
They are the natural consequence of what art and refinement we as a
people have,--the common which each village possesses, its true
paradise, in comparison with which all elaborately and wilfully
wealth-constructed parks and gardens are paltry imitations. Or, I
would rather say, such _were_ our groves twenty years ago. The
poet's, commonly, is not a logger's path, but a woodman's. The logger
and pioneer have preceded him, like John the Baptist; eaten the wild
honey, it may be, but the locusts also; banished decaying wood and the
spongy mosses which feed on it, and built hearths and humanized Nature
But there are spirits of a yet more liberal culture, to whom no
simplicity is barren. There are not only stately pines, but fragile
flowers, like the orchises, commonly described as too delicate for
cultivation, which derive their nutriment from the crudest mass of
peat. These remind us, that, not only for strength, but for beauty,
the poet must, from time to time, travel the logger's path and the
Indian's trail, to drink at some new and more bracing fountain of the
Muses, far in the recesses of the wilderness.
The kings of England formerly had their forests "to hold the king's
game," for sport or food, sometimes destroying villages to create or
extend them; and I think that they were impelled by a true
instinct. Why should not we, who have renounced the king's authority,
have our national preserves, where no villages need be destroyed, in
which the bear and panther, and some even of the hunter race, may
still exist, and not be "civilized off the face of the earth,"--our
forests, not to hold the king's game merely, but to hold and preserve
the king himself also, the lord of creation,--not for idle sport or
food, but for inspiration and our own true re-creation? or shall we,
like villains, grub them all up, poaching on our own national domains?
Have you seen Annie and Kitty,
Two merry children of mine?
All that is winning and pretty
Their little persons combine.
Annie is kissing and clinging
Dozens of times in a day,--
Chattering, laughing, and singing,
Romping, and running away.
Annie knows all of her neighbors.
Dainty and dirty alike,--
Learns all their talk, and, "be jabers,"
Says she "adores little Mike!"
Annie goes mad for a flower,
Eager to pluck and destroy,--
Cuts paper dolls by the hour,
Always her model--a boy!
Annie is full of her fancies,
Tells most remarkable lies,
(Innocent little romances,)
Startling in one of her size.
Three little prayers we have taught her,
Graded from winter to spring;
Oh, you should listen my daughter
Saying them all in a string!
Kitty--ah, how my heart blesses
Kitty, my lily, my rose!
Wary of all my caresses,
Chary of all she bestows.
Kitty loves quietest places,
Whispers sweet sermons to chairs,
And, with the gravest of faces,
Teaches old Carlo his prayers.
Matronly, motherly creature!
Oh, what a doll she has built--
Guiltless of figure or feature--
Out of her own little quilt!
Nought must come near it to wake it;
Noise must not give it alarm;
And when she sleeps, she must take it
Into her bed, on her arm.
Kitty is shy of a caller,
Uttering never a word;
But when alone in the parlor,
Talks to herself like a bird.
Kitty is contrary, rather,
And, with a comical smile,
Mutters, "I won't," to her father,--
Eyeing him slyly the while,
Loving one more than the other
Isn't the thing, I confess;
And I observe that their mother
Makes no distinction in dress.
Preference must be improper
In a relation like this;
I wouldn't toss up a copper--
(Kitty, come, give me a kiss!)
THE KINLOCH ESTATE, AND HOW IT WAS SETTLED.
Early Monday morning, Mr. Hardwick walked across the green to call
upon Mrs. Kinloch. Lucy Ransom, the house-maid, washing in the
back-yard, saw him coming, and told her mistress;--before he rang,
Mrs. Kinloch had time to tie on her lace cap, smooth her hair, and
meet him in the hall.
"Good mum-morning, Mrs. Kinloch!"
"Walk in, Mr. Hardwick,--this way, into the sitting-room."
He took a seat quietly by the maple-shaded window. Mrs. Kinloch was
silent and composed. Her coolness nerved instead of depressing him,
and he began at once.
"I've ker-come to see you about the debt which my nun-nephew, Mark,
owes the estate."
"I don't know what _I_ can do about it," she replied, in a placid
"We've ben nun-neighbors, now, these f-fifteen years, Mrs. Kinloch,
and never h-had any difficulty th-that I know on. An' as the ler-law
had been used per-pretty ha'sh toward Mark, I th-thought I'd see ef
'twa'n't per-possible't some mistake had ben made."
"I don't know what mistake there has been. Squire Clamp must collect
whatever is due. It isn't harsh to do that, is it?"
"Not ha'sh to a-ask for it, but not jest the ker-kind thing to bring
ser-suit before askin'. Mark got a word and a ber-blow, but the blow
came f-first. We didn't treat yer-you so when you was a widder."
"So you go back to old times, and bring up my poverty and your
charity, do you?" said the widow, bitterly.
"By nun-no means," replied the blacksmith. "I don't w-wish to open
'counts th-that've ben settled so long; an' more, I don't intend to
ber-ber-beg from you, nor a-anybody else. We pay our debts, an' don't
'xpect nor don't wer-want to do any different."
"Then I don't see what you are so flurried about"
"Ef so be Squire Ker-Kinloch was alive, I could tell you ber-better;
or rather, I shouldn't have to go to yer-you about it. He allers give
Mark to underst-hand that he shouldn't be hard upon him,--th-that he
could pay along as he ger-got able."
"Why should he favor him more than others? I am sure not many men
would have lent the money in the first place, and I don't think it
looks well to be hanging back now."
"As to why yer-your husband was disposed to favor Mark, I have
_my_ opinion. But the der-dead shall rest; I sh-sha'n't call up
their pale faces." He drew his breath hard, and his eyes looked full
of tender memories.
After a moment he went on. "I don't w-wish to waste words; I
mum-merely come to say that Mark has five hunderd dollars, and that I
can scrape up a couple o' hunderd more, and will give my note w-with
him for the balance. Th-that's all we can handily do; an' ef that'll
arnswer, we should ler-like to have you give word to stop the suit."
"You will have to go to Squire Clamp," was the reply. "I don't presume
to dictate to my lawyer, but shall let him do what he thinks best. You
haven't been to him, I conclude? I don't think he will be
Mr. Hardwick looked steadily at her.
"Wer-well, Mrs. Kinloch," said he, slowly, "I th-think I
understand. Ef I don't, it isn't because you don't mum-make the matter
plain. I sha'n't go to Squire Clamp till I have the mum-money, all of
it. I hope no a-a-enemy of yourn will be so hard to y-you as my
friends are to me."
With singular command over her tongue and temper, Mrs. Kinloch
contented herself with hoping that he would find no difficulty in
arranging matters with the lawyer, bade him good-morning, civilly, and
shut the door behind him. But when he was gone, her anger, kept so
well under control before, burst forth.
"Stuttering old fool!" she exclaimed, "to come here to badger me!--to
throw up to me the wood he cut, or the apples he brought me!--as
though Mr. Kinloch hadn't paid that ten times over! He'll find how it
is before long."
"What's the matter?" asked Mildred, meeting her step-mother in the
hall, and noticing her flushed cheek, her swelling veins, and
"Why, nothing, but a talk with Uncle Ralph, who has been rather
"Saucy? Uncle Ralph saucy? Why, he is the most kindly man in the
world,--sometimes hasty, but always well-mannered. I don't see how he
could be saucy."
"I advise you not to stand up for him against your mother."
"I shouldn't defend him in anything wrong; but I think there must be
"He is like Mark, I suppose, always perfect in your eyes."
This was the first time since Mr. Kinloch's death that the step-mother
had ever alluded to the fondness which had existed between Mark and
Mildred as school-children, and her eyes were bent upon the girl
eagerly. It was as though she had knocked at the door of her heart,
and waited for its opening to look into the secret recesses. A quick
flush suffused Mildred's face and neck.
"You are unkind, mother," she said; for the glance was sharper than
the words; and then, bursting into tears, she went to her room.
"So it has come to this!" said Mrs. Kinloch to herself. "Well, I did
not begin at all too soon."
She walked through the hall to the back piazza. She heard voices from
beyond the shrubbery that bordered the grass-plot where the clothes
were hung on lines to dry. Lucy, the maid, evidently was there, for
one; indeed, by shifting her position so as to look through an opening
in the bushes, Mrs. Kinloch could see the girl; but she was not busy
with her clothes-basket. An arm was bent around her plump and graceful
figure. The next instant, as Mrs. Kinloch saw by standing on tiptoe,
two forms swayed toward each other, and Lucy, no way reluctantly,
received a kiss from--Hugh Branning!
Very naughty, certainly,--but it is incumbent on me to tell the truth,
and accordingly I have put it down.
Now my readers are doubtless prepared for a catastrophe. They will
expect to hear Mrs. Kinloch cry, "Lucy Ransom, you jade, what are you
doing? Take your clothes and trumpery and leave this house!" You will
suppose that her son Hugh will be shut up in the cellar on bread and
water, or sent off to sea in disgrace. That is the traditional way
with angry mistresses, I know; but Mrs. Kinloch was not one of the
common sort. She did not know Talleyrand's maxim,--"Never act from
first impulses, for they are always--_right_!" Indeed, I doubt if
she had ever heard of that slippery Frenchman; but observation and
experience had led her to adopt a similar line of policy.
Therefore she did not scold or send away Lucy; she could not well do
without her; and besides, there were reasons which made it desirable
that the girl should remain friendly. She did not call out to her
hopeful son, either,--although her fingers _did_ itch to tweak
his profligate ears. She knew that a dispute with him would only end
in his going off in a huff, and she thought she could employ him
better. So she coughed first and then stepped out into the yard. Hugh
presently came sauntering down the walk, and Lucy sang among the
clothes-lines as blithely and unconcerned as though her lips had never
tasted any flavor more piquant than bread and butter.
It was rather an equivocal look which the mistress cast over her
shoulder at the girl. It might have said,--"Poor fool! singe your
wings in the candle, if you will." It might have been only the scorn
of outraged virtue.
"Hugh," said Mrs. Kinloch, "come into the house a moment. I want to
speak with you."
The young man looked up rather astonished, but he could not read his
mother's placid face. Her hair lay smooth on her temples, under her
neat cap; her face was almost waxy pale, her lips gently pressed
together; and if her clear, gray eyes had beamed with a warm or more
humid light, she might have served a painter as a model for a
"steadfast nun, devout and pure"
When they reached the sitting-room, Mrs. Kinloch began.
"Hugh, do you think of going to sea again? Now that I am alone in the
world, don't you think you can make up your mind to stay at home?"
"I haven't thought much about it, mother. I suppose I should go when
ordered, as a matter of course; I have nothing else to do."
"That need not be a reason. There is plenty to do without waiting for
promotion in the navy till you are gray."
"Why, mother, you know I have no profession, and, I suppose I may say,
no money. At least, the Squire made no provision for me that I know
of, and I'm sure you cannot wish me to live on your 'thirds.'"
"My son, you should have some confidence in my advice, by this
time. It doesn't require a great fortune to live comfortably here."
"Yes, but it is deused dull in this old town. No theatre,--no
concert,--no music at all, but from organ-grinders,--no
parties,--nothing, in fact, but prayer-meetings from one week's end to
another. I should die of the blues here."
"Only find something to do, settle yourself into a pleasant home, and
you'll forget your uneasiness."
"That's very well to say"----
"And very easy to do. But it isn't the way to begin by flirting with
every pretty, foolish girl you see. Oh, Hugh! you are all I have now
to love. I shall grow old soon, and I want to lean upon you. Give up
the navy; be advised by me."
Hugh whistled softly. He did not suppose that his mother knew of his
gallantry. He was amused at her sharp observation.
"So you think I'm a flirt, mother?" said he. "You are out,
entirely. I'm a pattern of propriety at home!"
"You need not tell me, Hugh! I know more than you think. But I didn't
know that a son of mine could be so simple as I find you are."
"She's after me," thought Hugh. "She saw me, surely."
His mother went on.
"With such an opportunity as you have to get yourself a wife----Don't
laugh! I want to see you married, for you will never sow your wild
oats until you are. With such a chance as you have"----
"Why, mother," broke in Hugh, "it isn't so bad as that."
"Isn't so bad? What do you mean?"
"Why, _you_ know what you're driving at, and so do I. Lucy is a
good girl enough, but I never meant anything serious. There's no need
of my marrying her."
"What _are_ you talking about?"
"Now, mother, what's the use? You are only trying to read me a moral
lecture, because I gave Lucy a harmless smack."
"Lucy Ransom!" repeated Mrs. Kinloch, with ineffable scorn. "Lucy
Ransom! I hope my son isn't low enough to dally with a housemaid, a
scullion! If I _had_ seen such a spectacle, I should have kept my
mouth shut for shame. 'A guilty conscience needs no accuser'; but I am
sorry you had not pride enough to keep your disgusting fooleries to
"Regularly sold!" muttered Hugh, as he beat a rat-tattoo on the
"I gave you credit for more penetration, Hugh. Now, just look a
minute. What would you think of the shrewdness of a young man, who
had no special turn for business, but a great fondness for taking his
ease,--with no money nor prospect of any,--and who, when he had the
opportunity to step at once into fortune and position, made no
movement to secure it?"
"Well, the application?"
"The fortune may be yours, if you will."
"Don't tell me riddles. Show me the prize, and I'm after it."
"But it has an incumbrance."
"A pretty, artless, affectionate little woman, who will make you the
best wife in the world."
"Splendid, by Jove! Who is she?"
"You needn't look far. We generally miss seeing the thing that is
under our nose."
"Why, mother, there isn't an heiress in Innisfield except my sister
"Mildred is not your sister. You are no more to each other than the
two farthest persons on earth."
"True enough! Well, mother, you _are_ an old 'un!"
"Don't!"--with a look of disgust,--"don't use your sailor slang here!
To see that doesn't require any particular shrewdness."
"But Mildred never liked me much. She always ran from me, like the
kitten from old Bose. She has always looked as though she thought I
would bite, and that it was best she should keep out of reach under a
"Any young man of good address and fair intelligence can make an
impression on a girl of eighteen, if he has the will, the time, and
the opportunity. You have everything in your favor, and if you don't
take the fortune that lies right in your path, you deserve to go to
"Good-morning," said Mrs. Kinloch. "You know the horse and carriage,
or the saddle-ponies, are always yours when you want to use them."
Great discoveries seem always so simple, that we wonder they were not
made from the first. The highest truths are linked with the commonest
objects and events of daily life.
Hugh looked about him as much astonished as though he had been shown a
gold mine in old Quobbin, where he could dig for the asking. What
determination he made, the course of our story will show.
Hugh had ordered George, the Asiatic, to saddle the ponies after
dinner, intending to ask Mildred to take a ride northward, through the
pine woods; but on making inquiries, he found that she had walked out,
leaving word that she should be absent all day.
"Confound it!" thought he,--"a mishap at the start! I'm afraid the
omen isn't a good one. However, I must kill time some way. I can't lay
up here, like a ship in ordinary; better be shaken by storms or
covered with barnacles at sea than be housed up, worm-eaten or
crumbled into powder by dry-rot on shore."
He went to ride alone, but did not go in the direction of the pine
Mildred could not get over the unpleasant impressions of the morning,
so, rather than remain in her room this fine day, she had walked
across the meadow, east of the mill-pond, to a farm-house, where she
was a frequent and welcome visitor. On her way, she called for Lizzy
Hardwick, the blacksmith's daughter, who accompanied her. Mr. Alford,
the farmer, was a blunt, good-humored, and rather eccentric man,
shrewd and well to do, but kindly and charitable. He had no children,
and he enjoyed the occasional visits of his favorites heartily; so did
his wife, Aunt Mercy. Her broad face brightened as she saw the girls
coming, and her plump hands were both extended to greet them. They
went to the dairy to see the creaking cheese-presses, ate of the fresh
curd, saw the golden stores of butter;--thence to the barn, where they
clambered upon the hay-mow, found the nest of a bantam, took some of
the little eggs in their pockets;--then coming into the yard, they
patted the calves' heads, scattered oats for the doves, that, with
pink feet and pearly blue necks, crowded around them to be fed, and
next began to chase a fine old gander down to the brook, when
Mr. Afford, getting over the fence, called out, "Hold on, girls! don't
bother Uncle Ralph!--don't!"
"Where is Uncle Ralph?" asked Mildred.
"Why, that gander you've been chasin'; and he's about the harn'somest
bird I know on, too. Talk about swans! there never was a finer neck,
nor a prettier coat of feathers on anything that ever swum. His wings
are powerful; only let him spread 'em, and up he goes; but as for his
feet, he limps just a little, as you see. No offence, Lizzy. I love
your father as well as you do; but when I hear him, with his idees so
grand,--the minister don't begin with him,--and yet to be bothered, as
he is sometimes, to get a word out, I think of my good old fellow
here, whose wings are so much better'n his legs. Come here, Ralph! You
see he knows his name. There!"--patting his head,--"that's a good
fellow! Now go and help marm attend to your goslins."
The kindly tone and the caress took away from the comparison any idea
of disrespect, and the girls laughed at the odd conceit,--Lizzy, at
least, not a little proud of the implied compliment. Mr. Alford left
them, to attend to his affairs, and they went on with their
romp,--running on the top of the smooth wall beside the meadow,
gathering clusters of lilac blossoms from the fatherly great posy that
grew on the sunny side of the house, and admiring the solitary state
of the peacock, as, with dainty step, he trailed his royal robe over
the sward. Soon they heard voices at the house, and, going round the
corner of the shed, saw Uncle Ralph and Mark Davenport talking with
Mr. Alford at the door.
Not to make a mystery of a simple matter, the blacksmith had come to
borrow of Mr. Alford the money necessary to make up the amount owing
by Mark to the Kinloch estate.
The young man had shown great readiness to accompany his uncle;
praiseworthy, certainly; but I am inclined to think he had somehow got
an intimation that the girls had preceded him.
Fortunately, the farmer was able to lend the sum wanted, and, as he
had an errand in town, he took Mr. Hardwick with him in his wagon.
Mark was left, nothing loath, to walk home with the girls. Do not
think he was wanting in affection for his cousin Lizzy, if he wished
that she were, just for one hour, a hundred miles away. They took a
path that led over the plain to the river, intending to cross upon a
foot-bridge, a short distance above the village. But though Mark was
obliged to be silent on the matter he had most at heart, Mildred was
not unaware of his feelings. A tone, a look, a grasp of the hand
serves for an index, quite as well as the most fervent speech. The
river makes a beautiful bend near the foot-bridge, and its bank is
covered with a young growth of white pines. They sat down on a
hillock, under the trees, whose spicy perfume filled the air, and
looked down the stream towards the village. How fair it lay in the
soft air of that June day! The water was deep and blue, with a
reflected heaven. The mills that cluster about the dam, a mile below,
were partially concealed by young elms, silver-poplars, and
water-maples. Gardens sloped on either bank to the water's edge. Neat,
white houses gleamed through the trees and shrubbery around the bases
of the hills that hem in the valley; and the tall, slender spire of
the meeting-house shewed fairly against its densely-wooded
background. Verily, if I were a painter, I should desire no lovelier
scene for my canvas than that on which Mark and Mildred looked. Lizzy
walked away, and began hunting checkerberries with an unusual
ardor. She _did_ understand; she would not be Mademoiselle de
Trop any longer. Kind soul! so unlike young women in general, who
won't step aside gracefully, when they should! Further I can vouch,
that she neither hemmed, nor made eyes, nor yet repeated the well-worn
proverb, "Two's company, but three's none." No, she gathered berries
and sang snatches of songs as though she were quite alone.
Now those of my readers who have the good-fortune still to linger in
teens are expecting that I shall treat them to a report of this
delightful _tete-a-tete_. But it must not be told. The older
people would skip it, or say, "Pshaw!" And besides, if it were set
down faithfully, you would be sadly disappointed; the cleverest men,
even, are quite sure to appear silly (to other people) when in
love. The speeches of the Romeos and Claude Melnottes, with which you
have been so enchanted, would be common-place enough, if translated
into the actual prose in which they were delivered. When Shakspeare
wooed Anne Hathaway, it might have been different; but consider, you
will wait some time before you find a lover like him. No, when your
time comes, it will be soon enough. You will see your hero in his
velvet cloak and plumed hat, with the splendor of scenery and the
intoxication of the music. I don't choose to show him to you in
morning dress at rehearsal, under daubed canvas and dangling
However full of poetry and passion Mark's declaration was for Mildred,
to him it was tame and hesitating enough. It seemed to him that he
could not force into the cold formula of words the emotion that
agitated him. But with quickening breath he poured out his love, his
hopes, and his fears,--the old burden! She trembled, her eyelids
fell; but at length, roused by his pleading tones, she looked
up. Their eyes met; one look was enough; it was a reciprocal electric
flash. With a sudden energy he clasped her in his arms; and it was a
very pretty tableau they made! But in the quick movement his heedless
foot chanced to touch a stone, which rolled down the bank and fell
into the stream with a splash. The charm was broken.
"What's that?" cried Lizzy from a distance, forgetting her
discretion. "Did a pickerel jump?"
"No," replied Mark, "the pickerel know me of old, and don't come about
for fear that I have a hook and line in my pocket. It was only a stone
rolling into the river."
"You come here a moment," continued the unthoughtful Lizzy; "here's a
beautiful sassafras sapling, and I can't pull it up by the roots
"Send for the dentist, then."
"Go and help her," said Mildred, softly.
"Well," said Mark, with a look of enforced resignation,--"if I must."
The sapling grew on the steep bank, perhaps fifty yards from where he
had been sitting. He did not use sufficient care to brace himself, as
he pulled with all his might, and in a moment, he knew not how, he
rolled down into the river. The girls first screamed, and then, as he
came out of the water, shaking himself like a Newfoundland dog, they
laughed immoderately. The affair did not seem very funny to Mark, and
he joined in the laugh with no great heartiness. The shock had
effectually dispelled all the romance of the hour.
"I'm so sorry!" said Lizzy, still laughing at his grotesque and
"You must hurry and get dry clothes on, Mark," said Mildred. "Squire
Clamp's is the nearest house across the bridge."
"Hang Squire Clamp! his clothes would poison me. I'd as lief go to a
quarantine hospital to be dressed."
"Don't!" said Lizzy.
But he kept on in the same mercurial strain.--"Clamp lives on poison,
like Rappaccini's daughter, in Hawthorne's story; only it makes him
ugly instead of fair, as that pretty witch was. His wife never had any
trouble with spiders as long as she lived; he had only to blow into a
nest, and the creatures would tumble out, and give up their venomous
ghosts. No vermin but himself are to be seen in his neighborhood; the
rats even found they couldn't stand it, and had to emigrate."
"The breath that killed spiders must have been a little too powerful,
at times, for Mrs. Clamp, one would think," said Mildred.
"It was," said Mark. "She died one day, after Clamp had cheated a
widow out of her dower."
"Don't stop longer for your fun," said Mildred, "you'll surely take
cold. Besides, I can't have you making any disparaging remarks upon my
"Bless my soul! your guardian! how imprudent, to be sure!"--with a
significant twinkle. "Well, I'm going. Banfield's is the nearest
house; so we'll part here."
The girls went towards the village; and Mark, making vigorous strides
across the meadow, took a straight line for Banfield's. Near the
house is a piece of woods,--one corner of the leafy mantle that covers
the hill slipped down its side and trailing upon the borders of the
fertile field below. Just as he passed the woods he saw Hugh Branning
letting down the bars and leading his pony out into the road. The only
bridle-path through the woods led over the hill to the little house on
the westerly slope, where lived Dame Ransom, Lucy's bowed and wrinkled
grandmother. Mark wondered not a little where the midshipman had been;
but as he still retained the memory of the old quarrel, he did not
accost him, and presently thought no more of it. Reaching the house,
he got some dry clothes and then went home with bounding steps. The
earth was never so beautiful nor the sky so benign. The cloud of
doubt had furled off and left his heaven blue. He had spoken and found
that the dream of his boyhood and the hope of his youth had become the
proud triumph of his manhood. Mildred Kinloch loved him! loved him as
sincerely as when they were both children! What higher felicity was
to be thought of? And what a motive for exertion had he now! He would
be worthy of her, and the world should acknowledge that the heiress
had not stooped when she mated with him.
Mrs. Kinloch was surprised at finding that neither Hugh nor Mildred,
nor yet Lucy Ransom, was in the house.
Mildred came home first and was not accompanied by Hugh, as
Mrs. Kinloch had hoped. He had not found her, then,--perhaps he had
not sought for her. Next Lucy returned, coming through the garden
which stretched up the hill. Being questioned, she answered that she
had been to her grandmother's, and had come back the nearest way over
the hill, through the woods.
"What had she gone for after the fatigue of washing-day?"
"Because Squire Clamp, who owned the house her grandmother lived in,
wanted her to take a message."
Mrs. Kinloch began to become interested. "Squire Clamp!" she
exclaimed,--"when did you see him?"
"He called here yesterday evening,--on his way to Mr. Hardwick's, I
"Why didn't he ask _me_ if you could go? I think he's pretty free
to send my girls about the town on his errands."
"You were out, Ma'am,--in the next house; and after he'd gone I forgot
"You remembered it to-day, it seems."
"Yes'm; after dinner I thought of it and harried right off; but granny
was sick and foolish, and didn't want to let me come away, so I
couldn't get back as quick as I meant to."
"Well, you can go to the kitchen."
"I must keep an eye on that girl," thought Mrs. Kinloch. "She is
easily persuaded, fickle, without strong sense, and with only a very
shallow kind of cunning. She might do mischief. What can Squire Clamp
want? The old hovel her grandmother lives in isn't worth fifty
dollars. Whatever has been going on, I'm glad Hugh is not mixed up in
Just then Hugh rode up, and, tying his horse, came in. He seemed to
have lost something of the gayety of the morning. "I am tired," he
said. "I had to get off and lead the pony down the hill, and it's
steep and stony enough."
"There are pleasant roads enough in the neighborhood," said his
mother, "without your being obliged to take to the woods and clamber
over the mountains."
"I know it," he replied; "but I had been up towards the Allen place,
and I took a notion to come back over the hill."
"Then you passed Lucy's house?"
"Yes. The bridle-path leads down the hill about a mile above this; but
on foot one may keep along the ridge and come down into the valley
through our garden."
"So I suppose; in fact, I believe Lucy has just returned that way."
"Indeed! it's strange I didn't see her."
"It is strange."
Hugh bore the quiet scrutiny well, and his mother came to the
conclusion that the girl had told the truth about her going for the
Presently Mildred came down from her room, and after a few minutes
Mrs. Kinloch went out, casting a fixed and meaning look at her
son. She seemed as impatient for the issue of her scheme, as the child
who, after planting a seed, waits for the green shoot, and twice a day
digs down to see if it has not sprouted.
Mildred, as the reader may suppose, was not likely to be very
agreeable to her companion; the recollections of the day were too
vivid, too delicious.
She could not part with them, but constantly repeated to herself the
words of love, of hope, and enthusiasm, which she had heard. So she
moved or talked as in a dream, mechanically, while her soul still
floated away on the summer-sea of reverie.
Hugh looked at her with real admiration; and, in truth, she deserved
it. A fairer face you would not see in a day's journey; her smooth
skin, not too white, but of a rich creamy tint,--eyes brown and
inclined to be dreamy,--her hair chestnut and wavy,--a figure rather
below the medium size, but with full, graceful lines,--these, joined
with a gentle nature and a certain tremulous sensibility, constituted
a divinity that it was surely no sin to worship. If sin it were, all
the young men in Innisfield had need of immediate forgiveness.
Hugh had some qualms about approaching the goddess. He was sensible of
a wide gulf between himself and her, and he could not but think that
she was aware of it too.
"You have been to Mr. Alford's?"
A momentary pause.
"Did you speak, Hugh?"
He repeated the question. Her eyes brightened a moment as she nodded
in the affirmative; then they grew dim again, like windows seen from
without when the light is withdrawn to an inner room. She seemed as
unconscious as a pictured Madonna.
"A beautiful day for your walk," he ventured again. The same pause,
the same momentary interest as she answered, followed by the same
"I suppose," said he, at length, "that I am having the last of my idle
days here; I expect to be ordered to sea shortly."
"Indeed!" Mildred looked up.
"I shall be very sorry to leave here," he continued.
"Yes, Innisfield _is_ quite pretty this summer. But I supposed
that the pleasures of the seaport and of adventure abroad were more
attractive to you than this monotonous life."
"'Tis rather slow here, but--I--I meant to say that I shall be sorry
to leave you."
"Me? Why, mother can take care of me."
"Certainly she will, but I shall miss you."
"No doubt you'll think of us, when you are away; I'm sure we shall
remember you. We shall never sit down to the table without thinking of
your vacant chair."
It was impossible to misinterpret her kind, simple, sisterly
tones. And Hugh could but feel that they indicated no particle of
tenderness for him. The task of winning her was yet wholly to be done,
and there was no prospect that she would give him the least
encouragement in advance, if she did not utterly refuse him at the
end. He saw that he must not count on an easy victory, but prepare for
it by a slow and gradual approach.
Mildred sat some time leaning out of the window, then opening her
piano, for the first time since her father's death, she sat down and
played a nocturne by Mendelssohn. The music seemed a natural
expression of her feelings,--suited to the heart "steeped in golden
languors," in the "tranced summer calm." The tones rang through the
silent rooms, pervading all the charmed air, so that the ear tingled
in listening,--as the lips find a sharpness with the luscious flavor
of the pine-apple. The sound reached to the kitchen, and brought a
brief pleasure, but a bitterer pang of envy, to Lucy's swelling bosom.
It calmed for a moment the evil spirit in Hugh's troubled heart. And
Mrs. Kinloch in her solitary chamber, though she had always detested
the piano, thought she had never heard such music before. She had
found a new sense, that thrilled her with an exquisite delight. It was
a good omen, she was sure, that Mildred should now, after so long a
time, feel inclined to play. Only a light heart, and one supremely
careless or supremely happy, could touch the keys like that. "Hugh
must be a fortunate boy," she thought; and she could have hugged him
for joy. What thought Hugh, as she rose from her seat at the
instrument like one in a trance and walked towards the hall?
Conflicting emotions struggled for mastery; but, hardly knowing what
he did, he started up and offered her a caress. It was not unusual,
but her nerves had acquired an unwonted sensitiveness; she shuddered,
and rushed from him up the stairs. He could have torn his hair with
"Am I, then, such a bear," he asked himself, "that she is afraid of
A light at the end of the hall caught his eye. It was Lucy with
tear-stained cheeks going to bed,--unconscious that the flaring candle
she carried was dripping upon her dress,--unconscious that the one she
both loved and feared was looking at her as she slowly went up the
back-stairs. Truly, how little the inmates of that house knew of the
secrets of each other's hearts! It was strange,--was it not?--that,
after so long intimacy, they could not understand each other better!
How many hearts do _you_ really know?
"Verily, a good day's work," thought Squire Clamp, as he stretched his
legs in his office that Monday evening. "Mrs. Kinloch is a very shrewd
woman, an extraordinarily capable woman. What a wife for a lawyer
she'd make!--so long as she plotted for, and not against him. But
Theophilus Clamp was not born to be overreached by one of the weaker
sex. I was sure my late lamented friend could not have left his
affairs in such utter disorder,--no schedule of property,--no
statement of debts; too good a business man for that was Walter
Kinloch. I shall now be able to know from these documents what my
late client was really worth, and how large a dower the disconsolate
widow has reserved for herself. Doubtless she has put by enough to
suffice for her old age,--and mine, too, I am inclined to think; for I
don't believe I can do better than marry her when the mourning is
ended. My late spouse, to be sure, would make a quiet man rather
apprehensive about a second venture; but if Mrs. Kinloch _is_ a
Tartar, she is not a vulgar shrew, but will be lady-like, even if she
is bitter. I think I shall take her. Of course she'll consent. I
should like to see the unmarried woman in Innisfield that would dare
refuse Theophilus Clamp. When she knows--that I know--what she knows,
she'll do pretty much what I tell her. I wonder if she hasn't set on
foot a marriage between her scapegrace son and Mildred? That would be
a mishap, truly! But, as guardian, I can stave that off until the
estate is settled, my wedding over, and myself comfortably in
possession. Then, perhaps, we'll let the young folks marry,--at least
we'll think of it. If my son George, now, had not that unlucky
hare-lip, who knows? H'm, well, to business again. Let's see. It's
just as that remarkably keen woman suspected. Hardwick's shop does
stand partly on the land of the estate that joins it; the line will
run right through his forge, and leave the trip-hammer and water-wheel
in our possession; for I paced the distance this morning. Tomorrow
Gunter will make sure of it by a survey; though I think we'd better do
it while the old man is gone to dinner. He's sometimes apt to use
emphatic language. Perhaps now his mangy cur Caesar will seize me by
the coat again! Perhaps Mark will insult me, and the old man laugh at
it in his sleeve! I shouldn't wonder if they managed to pay the notes,
but on the title to the shop we have them fast."
The lawyer looked at his watch. "Dear me! it's tea-time. I must go,
for the church-committee meet this evening. I think, however, I won't
complain of Hardwick to the deacons this time; for he'll be sure to
get into a passion when we commence our suit for ejectment, and I
shall then have a better case against him. A more disagreeable
Christian to fellowship with I don't know anywhere.
"I _should_ like to know," he continued, as he locked the
office-door, "if that Lucy told me true,--if those were all the
papers. No will, no memorandum for one! Well, perhaps Mrs. Kinloch was
careful enough to give that secret to the keeping of the flames,
instead of her bureau. I will make close copies of what I have got for
Lucy to put back, and keep the originals myself. They'll be safest
with me. There's no telling what may happen to papers in a house where
there is a prying servant-girl."
Whether the insects were poisoned by the air of the room, as Mark
Davenport suggested, I cannot say. But when Squire Clamp left the
office, it was as still as a tomb. No cricket chirped under the
hearth, no fly buzzed on the window-pane, no spiders came forth from
the dilapidated, dangling webs. Silence and dust had absolute
The next day Mark returned to New York. He had no opportunity of
bidding Mildred farewell, but he comforted himself by thinking he had
provided the means of safely communicating with her by letter. And as
the stage passed by the house, he caught a glimpse, first of her
fluttering handkerchief, and then of her graceful fingers wafting to
him kiss. It was enough; it furnished him with food for a delightful
reverie as he went on his way. We shall leave him in his former
situation, from which, as a starting-point, he determines to win
fortune or fame, or both. He has your best wishes, no doubt, though
perhaps you think he will not force his way into the close ranks of
the great procession of life so soon as he expects.
That day, while Mr. Hardwick was taking his dinner, his second son,
Milton, who had been fishing at the dam, came running into the house
quite out of breath.
"F-father!" he stammered out.
"Nun-now st-hop," said the black-smith. "W-what are you st-stuttering
for? Wah-wait till you can talk."
"Why, father, yer-_you_ stutter."
"Wer-well, yer-_you_ shan't."
The look that came with this seemed to end the matter. A moment's rest
quieted the nerves of the boy, and he went on to say, that Squire
Clamp, and a man with a brass machine on his shoulder, and a chain,
ever so long, were walking about the shop on the bank of the
river. Lizzy at once looked out of the window and saw the man peering
into the shop-door, as if exploring the premises.
Impelled by some presentiment of evil, Mr. Hardwick got up from the
table, and sternly motioning the boys back, went down to the shop. As
he came near the door, he saw the surveyor holding one end of the
chain and taking sight upon a staff which the lawyer within was
adjusting to its place by his direction.
"Just as I expected," said Squire Clamp, in a satisfied tone.
"An' jest as I expected," broke in Mr. Hardwick upon the astonished
pair. "I knew th-that ef Squire Clamp hed anythin' to do against me,
he wer-would sneak into the shop sus-some time when I'd ger-gone to
"We thought it would be most convenient, so as not to interrupt you
about your work."
"Very ker-kind indeed! As ef you wa'n't tryin' to turn me out of
wer-work altogether! But 'tisn't any yer-use, Squire; this is a case
you can't be ber-both sides on."
The lawyer turned, with a placid smile, to his companion. "Mr. Gunter,
I believe we have finished our measurements?"
The man of chain and compass nodded. Nothing abashed by the lawyer's
cool manner, Mr. Hardwick turned to the surveyor, and asked if he
undertook to say that Walter Kinloch's deed called for land that was
covered by the shop?
"I suppose so," was the answer.
"An' now, Sus-squire Clamp," said Mr. Hardwick, "you know that it's
sus-seventeen or eighteen year sence I per-pulled down the old shop
and bought this land."
"Yes, but, unfortunately, it takes twenty years to give you title,"
put in the Squire.
"Nun-never mind that now. Squire Kinloch knew this,--at least, that
there was room for der-difficulty; for we'd talked it over sus-several
times afore he died. An' he allers said th-that he'd hev new deeds
made out, so's to per-per-prevent just such a wrong as this. He didn't
'xpect to go so sus-sudden."
"I'm sorry, Brother Hardwick, to see you bringing up your talk with
the lamented deceased, whom you represent as being willing to part
with his legal rights without a consideration. Even if you had
evidence of it, such an agreement would be a mere _nudum pactum_,
binding neither upon himself nor his heirs."
"Squire Clamp! ger-get out of my shop! Fust to call me _Brother_,
next to doubt my word, an' last to sus-say that a man's free an'
der-deliberet promise--now he's where he can't sh-shame you into
honesty--sha'n't be kept!"
The Squire smiled feebly. "You don't intend, Mister Hardwick, assault
and battery, do you?"
"Yer-yes, ef you don't leave in q-q-q-quick time." And he strode up to
the astonished attorney, his blue eyes flashing, his curly gray hair
flying back from his forehead, like a lion's.
Squire Clamp retreated to the street, took sight each way to be sure
he was off his antagonist's territory, and then vented his cautious
resentment in such well-considered phrases as a long course of
experience had taught him were not actionable at law, nor ground for
discipline in church.
Prudence came to Uncle Ralph's aid, and he did not make further reply,
but locked the shop-door and returned to the house to finish his
dinner. The suit was commenced a few days afterwards. Mr. Hardwick
went to the county seat, some dozen miles distant, and secured the aid
of an able lawyer, who gave him hope of prevailing and keeping his
The affair necessarily created a great stir in the busy little
town. As the cheerful clatter of the trip-hammer echoed along the
stream on still evenings, and the fiery plume waved over the chimney,
neighbors looked out from their windows, and wondered if the good
blacksmith would, after so many years of honest toil, be stripped of
his property and be reduced to dependence in his old age. The sympathy
of the villagers was wholly with him; but the lawyer held so many
threads of interest in his hands, that few dared to give an opinion
with much emphasis.
Probably the person most grieved and indignant was the one who, next
after the blacksmith, was most interested in the event of the
suit,--namely, Mildred Kinloch. Though no mention was made of the
matter, at home, in her hearing, she could not fail to know what was
going on; but she had now sufficient knowledge of her step-mother and
her guardian to be aware that her influence would not be of the least
avail in changing their purpose.
Mrs. Kinloch did not repeat the experiment she once made on Mildred's
sensibilities by referring to her partiality for Mark Davenport and
his relatives; but, on the contrary, was most gentle in her treatment
and most assiduous in her endeavors to provide amusement, so far as
the resources of the town allowed. In company with Hugh, Mildred
explored all the pleasant roads in the vicinity, all the picturesque
hills and brooks, caught trout, and snared gamebirds, (the last much
against her will,)--and by these means her time was fully
occupied. Hugh seemed to have totally changed; he no longer absented
himself from the family on mysterious errands; he went to church
regularly, and appeared to take pleasure in the frequent calls of
Mr. Rook, the minister. The neighbors began to say that there never
was a more dutiful son or a more attentive and affectionate brother.
Some half suspected the reason of the reformation,--no one so quick as
Squire Clamp, who had reasons of his own, as the reader knows, for
wishing delay. After a few months had passed, he thought it would be
dangerous to let the schemes of the widow go on longer without
interruption, and accordingly prepared to make a step towards his own
One afternoon, about six months after the opening of our story,
Mrs. Kinloch and her son were talking together concerning the progress
of his suit. He complained that he was no nearer the point than on the
first day he and Mildred rode out together. "It was like rounding Cape
Horn," he said, "where a ship might lie twenty days and drift back as
fast as she got ahead by tacking." In spite of all his attention and
kindness, Mildred was merely courteous in return;--he could not get
near her. If she smiled, it seemed as though it was from behind a
grating, as in a nunnery. Her pulse was always firm; and if her eye
was soft, it was steady as the full moon. He didn't believe she had
any blood in her. If she was in love with that fellow, she kept it
pretty closely covered up.
Mrs. Kinloch encouraged her son to persevere; she was sure he had not
been skilful. "Mildred," she said, "was not to be won with as little
trouble as a silly, low-bred girl, like--like Lucy, for instance."
"What the deuse are you always bringing up Lucy to me for?" said the
"Don't speak so!"
"Confound it! I must. You keep a fellow shut up here for six months,
going to meeting five times a week; you give him no chance to work off
his natural spirits, and the devil in him will break out
somewhere. It's putting a stopper in a volcano; if you don't allow a
little fire and smoke, you're bound to have an earthquake."
After this philosophical digression, the first topic was resumed, and
Mrs. Kinloch gave the young man some counsel, drawn from her own
experience or observation, touching the proper mode of awakening and
cultivating the tender passion. It is not every mother that does so
much for her son, but then few mothers have so urgent a motive.
"_What_ was it that she advised him to do," did you ask? Really,
I've quite forgotten; and I am sure Mrs. Kinloch forgot also, at least
for that day, because something occurred which turned her thoughts for
the time in quite a different direction.
The ponies were brought out for Hugh and Mildred to take their
customary canter. The young heiress, for whom so much time and pains
were spent, looked ill; the delicate flush had vanished from her
cheek; she seemed languid, and cheerful only by effort. A moment after
they had gone, as Mrs. Kinloch closed the door, for it was a raw
November day, she saw and picked up a rudely-folded letter in the
hall. "Good-bye, Lucy Ransom," were the words she read. They were
enough. Mrs. Kinloch felt that her heart was struck by a bolt of
ice. "Poor, misguided, miserable girl!" she said. "Why did I not see
that something was wrong? I felt it, I knew it,--but only as one knows
of evil in a dream. Who can calculate the mischief that will come of
this? O God! to have my hopes of so many years ruined, destroyed, by a
wretch whose power and existence even I had not once thought of! Has
she drowned herself, or fled to the city to hide her disgrace? But if
this should be imagination merely! She may have run away with some
lubberly fellow from the factory, whom she was ashamed to marry at
home. But no! she was too sad last evening when she asked to go to her
grandmother's for a day. What if"--The thought coursed round her brain
like fire on a train of gunpowder,--flew quicker than words could
utter it; and the woman bounded to her bureau, as though with muscles
of steel. She clutched at the papers and bank-notes in her private
drawer, and looked and counted them over a dozen times before she
could satisfy herself. Her thin fingers nervously opened the packages
and folds,--the papers crackling as her eye glanced over them. They
were there; but not _all_. She pored over the mystery,--her
thoughts running away upon every side-avenue of conjecture, and as
often returning to the frightful, remediless fact before her. She was
faint with sudden terror. By degrees she calmed herself, wiped the
cold sweat from her forehead, smiled at her fright, and sat down
again, with an attempt at self-control, to look through the drawers
thoroughly. As she went on, the tremor returned, and before she had
finished the fruitless search her heart beat so as to stop her breath;
she gasped in an agony that the soul rarely feels more than once in
this life. She shut up the drawers, walked up and down the room,
noticed with a shudder her own changed expression as she passed before
the mirror, and strove in vain to give some order to her confused and
tumultuous thoughts. At length she sat down exhausted. She was
startled by a knock. Opening the door, there in a newly-furbished
suit, with clean linen, and a brown wig worn for the first time on his
hitherto shining head, stood Theophilus Clamp. He had even picked a
blossom from the geranium in the hall and was toying with it like a
"A fine day, Ma'am!" said he, as he took a seat.
"Yes, very," she answered, mechanically, scarcely looking up.
"The young folks have gone out to ride, I suppose."
"Yes, Sir."--A pause, in which Mrs. Kinloch covered her face with her
"You don't seem well, Ma'am. Shall I call Lucy?"
"Lucy is gone," she answered,--quickly adding, "gone to her
"Well, that is singular. I've been today to look at my land above the
old lady's house, and she asked me to send word to Lucy to come up and
"Yes, Ma'am; not two hours ago."
Mrs. Kinloch was rapidly revolving probabilities. What interest had
Lucy to interfere with her affairs? As for Mildred, she was not to be
thought of as prying into secrets; she was too innocent. Hugh was too
careless. Who more than this man Clamp was likely to have done or
procured the mischief? "Have you given her the message?"
"Of course not, Ma'am,--how could I?"
"Then you haven't sent Lucy away on any errand?"
"Certainly not, Madam," said the lawyer, beginning to wince under the
cross-examination. "Lucy's gone, you say; didn't she leave things all
right,--your papers, and--and so forth?"
"Papers? Lucy is not presumed to know that I _have_ any papers;
if any are missing, I'll warrant they are in the hands of some one who
knows at least enough to read them."
"She suspects me," thought the lawyer, "but can't have discovered that
hers are only copies; they're too well done." He then added aloud,
"Perhaps, Mrs. Kinloch, if you had honored me, your associate in the
administration of the estate, with your confidence touching the
private papers you speak of, I might have saved you some trouble in
"Very likely; but no one spoke of papers beside yourself," she
replied, with a trace of sarcasm in the tone which ill suited the
expression of her pallid face and drooping head.
"I'm sorry to see you looking so careworn, Mrs. Kinloch," said he,
with his blandest air. "I intended to bring up a topic more agreeable,
it is to be hoped, than runaway house-maids or old documents." He
rubbed his hands softly and turned his eyes with a glance meant to be
tender towards the place where her chair stood; if he had been a cat,
he would have purred the while.
Mrs. Kinloch now, for the first time, observed the wig, the unusual
look of tidiness, and, above all, the flower in his hand; she also saw
the crucified smile that followed his last remark. "The ridiculous old
fool!" thought she,--"what can he mean?" But to him she translated
"What is the more agreeable topic?"
"Really, you attack me like a lawyer. Don't you know, my dear Madam,
how it confuses one to be sharply interrogated?"
"It would be something novel to see you confused, Squire Clamp."
"Pray, don't banter, Mrs. Kinloch. I hoped to find you in a more
complaisant humor. There are topics which cannot be discussed with the
square precision of legal rules,--thoughts that require sympathy
before they can be expressed." And he dropped his eyes with a
"Oh, I appreciate your tender susceptibilities. Please consider me as
asking the question again in the most engaging manner."
His new wig was becoming uncomfortable, and he fidgeted in his chair,
twirling the luckless blossom.
"Why, Mrs. Kinloch, the long regard I entertained for your late
lamented husband,--ah, I mean my regard for you,--ah, my lonely
domicil,--ah, since the decease of my--my sainted wife,--ah, and since
the Scripture says it is not good for man to live alone,--ah, your
charming qualities and many virtues,--not that your fortune,--ah,--I
mean to say, that, though not rich, I am not grasping,--and the
cottage where you lived would be a palace,--ah, for me, if not
unworthy,--ah, no desire to unduly shorten the period of
mourning,--ah, but life is short and uncertain"----
There was a dead silence. His mouth was vainly working, and his
expression confused and despairing. The flower had wilted in his moist
hand. Little streams of perspiration trickled down his face, to be
mopped up by his bandanna. Such was the ordeal of talking hollow
sentiment to a cool and self-possessed woman. She enjoyed the
exhibition for a time,--as what woman would not? But the waves of her
trouble rushed back upon her, and the spirit of mischief and coquetry
was overwhelmed. So she answered,--
"You are pleased to be polite,--perhaps gallant. You must excuse me
from taking part in such conversation to-day, however little is meant
by it,--and the less meant the better,--I am not well."
She rose feebly, and walked towards the door with as much dignity as
her trembling frame could assume. He was abashed; his fine speeches
jumbled in meaningless fragments, his airy castle ready to topple on
his unlucky head. He would have been glad to rebuke her fickle humor,
as he thought it; but he knew he had made a fool of himself, so he
"No offence, I hope, Ma'am; none meant, certainly. Wish you
good-afternoon, Ma'am. Call and see you again some day, and hope to
find you better."
_Would_ he find her better? While the mystery remained, while the
ruin of her hopes impended, what could restore to her the
cheerfulness, the courage, the self-command she had lost?
[To be continued.]
"BRINGING OUR SHEAVES WITH US."
The time for toil is past, and night has come,--
The last and saddest of the harvest-eves;
Worn out with labor long and wearisome,
Drooping and faint, the reapers hasten home,
Each laden with his sheaves.
Last of the laborers thy feet I gain,
Lord of the harvest! and my spirit grieves
That I am burdened not so much with grain
As with a heaviness of heart and brain;--
Master, behold my sheaves!
Few, light, and worthless,--yet their trifling weight
Through all my frame a weary aching leaves;
For long I struggled with my hapless fate,
And staid and toiled till it was dark and late,--
Yet these are all my sheaves.
Full well I know I have more tares than wheat,--
Brambles and flowers, dry stalks, and withered leaves
Wherefore I blush and weep, as at thy feet
I kneel down reverently, and repeat,
"Master, behold my sheaves!"
I know these blossoms, clustering heavily
With evening dew upon their folded leaves,
Can claim no value nor utility,--
Therefore shall fragrancy and beauty be
The glory of my sheaves.
So do I gather strength and hope anew;
For well I know thy patient love perceives
Not what I did, but what I strove to do,--
And though the full, ripe ears be sadly few,
Thou wilt accept my sheaves.
FARMING LIFE IN NEW ENGLAND.
New England does not produce the bread she eats, nor the raw materials
of the fabrics she wears. A multitude of her purely agricultural towns
are undergoing, more or less rapidly, a process of depopulation. Yet
these facts exist by the side of positive advances in agricultural
science and decided improvements in the means and modes of farming.
The plough is perfected, and the theory of ploughing is
understood. The advantages of thorough draining are universally
recognized, and tiles are for sale everywhere. Mowing and reaping
machines have ceased to be a novelty upon our plains and meadows. The
natural fertilizers have been analyzed, and artificial nutrients of
the soil have been contrived. The pick and pride of foreign herds
have regenerated our neat stock, and the Morgan and the Black-Hawk eat
their oats in our stalls. The sheepfold and the sty abound with choice
blood. Sterling agricultural journals are on every farmer's table, and
Saxton's hand-books upon agricultural specialties are scattered
everywhere. Public shows and fairs bring on an annual exacerbation of
the agricultural fever, which is constantly breaking out in new
places, beyond the power of the daily press to chronicle. Yet it is
too evident that the results are not at all commensurate with the
means under tribute and at command. What is the reason?
In looking at the life of the New England farmer, the first fact that
strikes us is, that it is actually a very different thing from what it
might be and ought to be. There dwells in every mind, through all
callings and all professions, the idea that the farmer's life is, or
may be, is, or should be, the truest and sweetest life that man can
live. The merchant may win all the prizes of trade, the professional
man may achieve triumphs beyond his hopes, the author may find his
name upon every lip, and his works accounted among the nation's
treasures, and all may move amid the whirl and din of the most
inspiring life, yet there will come to every one, in quiet
evening-hours, the vision of the old homestead, long since forsaken;
or the imagination will weave a picture of its own,--a picture of
rural life, so homely, yet so beautiful, that the heart will breathe a
sigh upon it, the eye will drop a tear upon it, and the voice will
say, "It were better so!"
In a city like Boston there are farms enough imagined every year to
make another New England. Could the fairest fancies of that congeries
of minds be embodied and exhibited, we should see green meadows
sparkling with morning dew,--silver-slippered rivulets skipping into
musical abysses,--quiet pasture-lands shimmering so sleepily in the
sun that the lazy flocks and herds forget to graze, and lie winking
and ruminating under the trees,--and yellow fields of grain, along the
hill-sides, billowy in the breeze, and bending before the shadows of
the clouds that sail above them. And mingling and harmonizing with
these visions, we should hear the lowing of kine, and the tinkle of
the bell that leads the flock, and the shout of the boy behind the
creeping plough, and the echoes of the axe, and the fall of the tree
in the distant forest, and the rhythmical clangor, softened into a
metallic whisper by the distance, of the mowers whetting their
scythes. With these visions and these sounds there would come to the
minds which give them birth convictions that rural life is the best
life, and resolutions that, by-and-by, in some golden hour, when the
sun of life begins to lengthen the eastward shadows, that life shall
be enjoyed, and that the soul shall pass at last from the quiet scenes
of Nature into those higher scenes which they symbolize. There is a
thought in all this that the farm is nearer heaven than the street,--a
reminiscence of the first estate, when man was lord of Eden; and this
thought, old as art and artificial life, cannot be rooted out of the
mind. It has a life of its own, independent of reason, above instinct,
among the quickest intuitions of the soul.
Now this idea, so universal, so identical in millions of minds,
springing with such spontaneity in the midst of infinitely varied
circumstances, abiding with such tenacity in every soul, can have its
basis nowhere save in a Divine intention and a human possibility. The
cultivation of the farm is the natural employment of man. It is upon
the farm that virtue should thrive the best, that the body and the
mind should be developed the most healthfully, that temptations should
be the weakest, that social intercourse should be the simplest and
sweetest, that beauty should thrill the soul with the finest raptures,
and that life should be tranquillest in its flow, longest in its
period, and happiest in its passage and its issues. This is the
general and the first ideal of the farmer's life, based upon the
nature of the farmer's calling and a universally recognized human
want. Why does the actual differ so widely from the ideal? It is not
because the farmer's labor is hard and constant, alone. There is no
fact better established than that it is through the habitual use both
of the physical and mental powers that the soul achieves, or receives,
its most healthful enjoyment, and acquires that tone which responds
most musically to the touch of the opportunities of leisure. Why,
then, we repeat, does the actual differ so widely from the ideal?
A general answer to this question is, that that is made an end of life
which should be but an incident or a means. Life is confounded with
labor, and thrift with progress; and material success is the aim to
which all other aims are made subordinate. There is no fact in
physiology better established than that hard labor, followed from day
to day and year to year, absorbing every thought and every physical
energy, has the direct tendency to depress the intellect, blunt the
sensibilities, and animalize the man. In such a life, all the
energies of the brain and nervous system are directed to the support
of nutrition and the stimulation of the muscular system. Man thus
becomes a beast of burden,--the creature of his calling; and though he
may add barn to barn and acre to acre, he does not lead a life which
rises in dignity above that of the beasts which drag his plough. He
eats, he works, he sleeps. Surely, there is no dignity in a life like
this; there is nothing attractive and beautiful and good in it. It is
a mean and contemptible life; and all its maxims, economies,
associations, and objects are repulsive to a mind which apprehends
life's true enjoyments and ends. We say that it is a pestilent
perversion. We say that it is the sale of the soul to the body; it is
turning the back upon life, upon growth, upon God, and descending into
The true ideal of the farmer's life--of any life--contemplates
something outside of, and above, the calling which is its instrument.
The farmer's life is no better than the life of a street-sweeper, if
it rise no higher than the farmer's work. If the farmer, standing
under the broad sky, breathing the pure air, listening to the song of
birds, watching the progress of
"The great miracle that still goes on,"
to work the transformation of the brown seeds which he drops into the
soil into fields of green and gold, and gazing upon landscapes
shifting with the seasons and flushed with new tints through every
sunlit and moonlit hour, does not apprehend that his farm has higher
uses for him than those of feeding his person and his purse, he might
as well dwell in a coal-mine.
Our soil is sterile, our modes of farming have been rude until within
a few years; and under the circumstances,--with the Yankee notion that
the getting of money is the chief end of man,--exclusive devotion to
labor has been deemed indispensable to success. The maxims of Franklin
have been literally received and adopted as divine truth. We have
believed that to labor is to be thrifty, that to be thrifty is to be
respectable, that to be respectable is to afford facilities for being
still more thrifty; and our experience is, that with increased thrift
comes increased labor. This is the circle of our ambitions and
rewards. All begins and ends in labor. The natural and inevitable
result of this is both physical and mental deterioration.
It is doubtful whether the world furnishes a finer type of man,
physically and intellectually, than the Irish gentleman. He is
handsome, large, courageous,--a man of fine instincts, brilliant
imagination, courtly manners, and full, vital force. By the side of
the Irish gentleman, there has grown for centuries the Irish
peasant. He is ugly, of stunted stature, and pugnacious; and he
produces children like himself. The two classes started from a common
blood; they now present the broadest contrast. We do not say that
freedom from severe labor on one side, and confinement to it on the
other, are entirely responsible for this contrast; difference of food
and other obvious causes have had something to do with it; but we say
that hard labor has, directly and indirectly, degraded from a true
style of manhood the great mass of the Irish peasantry. They are a
marked class, and carry in their forms and faces the infallible
insignia of mental and physical degeneration.
We would by no means compare New England farmers with the Irish
peasantry. We only present the contrast between these two classes of
the Irish population as the result of unremitting toil on one side,
and a more rational kind of life on the other. If we enter a New
England church, containing a strictly rural assembly, and then visit
another containing a class whose labor is lighter, and whose style of
life is based upon different ideas, we shall see a contrast less
marked, perhaps, but presenting similar features. The farming
population of New England is not a handsome population, generally.
The forms of both men and women are angular; their features are not
particularly intellectual; their movements are not graceful; and their
calling is evident by indubitable signs. The fact that the city
assemblage is composed of a finer and higher grade of men, women, and
children is of particular moment to our argument, because it is
composed of people who are only one, two, or three removes from a
rural origin. The city comes from the country; the street is
replenished by the farm; but the city children, going back to the
farm, show that a new element has been introduced into their
blood. The angles are rounded; the face is brighter; the movements are
more graceful; there is in every way a finer development.
There is probably no better exponent of the farmer's life than the
farmer's home. We propose to present the portrait of such a home, and,
while we offer it as a just outline of the farmer's home generally, in
districts removed from large social centres, we gladly acknowledge the
existence of a great multitude of happy exceptions. But the sketch:--A
square, brown house; a chimney coming out of the middle of a roof; not
a tree nearer than the orchard, and not a flower at the door. At one
end projects a kitchen; from the kitchen projects a wood-shed and
wagon-cover, occupied at night by hens; beyond the wood-shed, a
hog-pen, fragrant and musical. Proceeding no farther in this
direction, we look directly across the road, to where the barn stands,
like the hull of a great black ship-of-the-line, with its port-holes
opened threateningly upon the fort opposite, out of one of which a
horse has thrust his head for the possible purpose of examining the
strength of the works. An old ox-sled is turned up against the wall
close by, where it will have the privilege of rotting. This whole
establishment was contrived with a single eye to utility. The barn
was built in such a manner that its deposits might be convenient to
the road which divides the farm, while the sty was made an attachment
of the house for convenience in feeding its occupants.
We enter the house at the back door, and find the family at dinner in
the kitchen. A kettle of soap-grease is stewing upon the stove, and
the fumes of this, mingled with those that were generated by boiling
the cabbage which we see upon the table, and by perspiring men in
shirt-sleeves, and by boots that have forgotten or do not care where
they have been, make the air anything but agreeable to those who are
not accustomed to it. This is the place where the family live. They
cook everything here for themselves and their hogs. They eat every
meal here. They sit here every evening, and here they receive their
friends. The women in this kitchen toil incessantly, from the time
they rise in the morning until they go to bed at night. Here man and
woman, sons and daughters, live, in the belief that work is the great
thing, that efficiency in work is the crowning excellence of manhood
and womanhood, and willingly go so far into essential self-debasement,
sometimes, as to contemn beauty and those who love it, and to glory
above all things in brute strength and brute endurance.
Here we are ready to state the point and the lesson of our
discussion:--The real reason for the deterioration of agriculture in
New England is to be found in the fact, that the farmer's life and the
farmer's home, generally, are unloved and unlovable things, and in the
multitude of causes which have tended to make them so. Let the son of
such a home as we have pictured get a taste of a better life than
this, or, through sensibilities which he did not inherit, apprehend a
worthier style of existence, and what inducements, save those which
necessity imposes, can retain him there? He hates the farm, and will
flee from it at the first opportunity. If the New England farmer's
life were a loved and lovable thing, the New England boys could hardly
be driven from the New England hills. They would not only find a way
to live here, but they would make farming profitable. They would honor
the employment to which they are bred, and would leave it, save in
exceptional instances, for no other. It is not strange that the
country grows thin and the city plethoric. It is not strange that
mercantile and mechanical employments are thronged by young men,
running all risks for success, when the alternative is a life in which
they find no meaning, and no inspiring and ennobling influence.
The popular ideal of the farmer's life and home, to which we have
alluded, we believe to be what God intended. That life contemplates
the institution and maintenance of personal and social habits, and the
cultivation of tastes and faculties, separate from, and above, labor.
Every farm-house should be a residence of men and women, boys and
girls, who, appreciating something of the meaning and end of life,
rise from every period of labor into an atmosphere of intellectual and
social activity, or into some form of refined family enjoyment. It is
impossible to do this while surrounded with all the associations of
labor. If there is a room in every farmer's house where the work of
the family is done, there should be a room in every farmer's house
where the family should live,--where beauty should appeal to the eye,
where genuine comfort of appointments should invite to repose, where
books should be gathered, where neatness and propriety of dress should
be observed, and where labor may be forgotten. The life led here
should be labor's exceeding great reward. A family living like
this--and there are families that live thus--will ennoble and beautify
all their surroundings. There will be trees at their door, and
flowers in their garden, and pleasant and graceful architectural ideas
in their dwelling. Human life will stand in the foreground of such a
home,--human life, crowned with its dignities and graces,--while
animal life will be removed among the shadows, and the gross material
utilities, tastefully disguised, will be made to retire into an
unoffending and harmonious perspective.
But we have alluded to other causes than labor as in some measure
responsible for the unattractiveness of the farmer's life, and
affecting adversely the farming interest. These touch the matter at
various points, and are charged with greater or less importance. We
know of no one cause more responsible for whatever there may be of
physical degeneracy among the farming population than the treatment of
its child-bearing women; and this, after all, is but a result of
entire devotion to the tyrannical idea of labor. If there be one
office or character higher than all others, it is the office or
character of mother. Surely, the bringing into existence of so
marvellous a thing as a human being, and the training of that being
until it assumes a recognized relation to God and human society, is a
sacred office, and one which does not yield in dignity and importance
to any other under heaven. For a woman who faithfully fulfils this
office, who submits without murmuring to all its pains, who patiently
performs its duties, and who exhausts her life in a ceaseless overflow
of love upon those whom God has given her, no words can express a true
man's veneration. She claims the homage of our hearts, the service of
our hands, the devotion of our lives.
Yet what is the position of the mother in the New England farmer's
home? The farmer is careful of every animal he possesses. The
farm-yard and the stall are replenished with young, by creatures for
months dismissed from labor, or handled with intelligent care while
carrying their burden; because the farmer knows that only in this way
can he secure improvement, and sound, symmetrical development, to the
stock of his farm. In this he is a true, practical philosopher. But
what is his treatment of her who bears his children? The same
physiological laws apply to her that apply to the brute. Their strict
observance is greatly more imperative, because of her finer
organization; yet they are not thought of; and if the farm-yard fail
to shame the nursery, if the mother bear beautiful and well-organized
children, Heaven be thanked for a merciful interference with the
operation of its own laws! Is the mother in a farm-house ever regarded
as a sacred being? Look at her hands! Look at her face! Look at her
bent and clumsy form! Is it more important to raise fine colts than
fine men and women? Is human life to be made secondary and subordinate
to animal life? Is not she who should receive the tenderest and most
considerate ministries of the farmer's home, in all its appointments
and in all its service, made the ceaseless minister and servant of the
home and all within it, with utter disregard of her office? To expect
a population to improve greatly under this method is simply to expect
miracles; and to expect a farmer's life and a farmer's home to be
attractive, where the mother is a drudge, and secures less
consideration than the pets of the stall, is to expect impossibilities.
Another cause which has tended to the deterioration of the farmer's
life is its solitariness. The towns in New England which were settled
when the Indians were in possession of the country, and which, for
purposes of defence, were settled in villages, have enjoyed great
blessings; but a large portion of agricultural New England was
differently settled. It is difficult to determine why isolation
should produce the effect it does upon the family development. The
Western pioneer, who, leaving a New England community, plants himself
and his young wife in the forest, will generally become a coarse man,
and will be the father of coarse children. The lack of the social
element in the farmer's life is doubtless a cause of some of its most
repulsive characteristics. Men are constituted in such a manner, that
constant social contact is necessary to the healthfulness of their
sympathies, the quickness of their intellects, and the symmetrical
development of their powers. It matters little whether a family be
placed in the depths of a Western forest, or upon the top of a New
England hill; the result of solitude will be the same in kind, if not
Now the farmer, partly from isolation and partly from absorption in
labor, is the most unsocial man in New England. The farmers are
comparatively few who go into society at all, who ever dine with their
neighbors, or who take any genuine satisfaction in the company of the
women whom their wives invite to tea. They may possibly be
farmers among farmers, but they are not men among men and
women. Intellectually, they are very apt to leave life where they
begin it. Socially, they become dead for years before they die. The
inhabitants of a city can have but a poor apprehension of the amount
of enjoyment and development that comes to them through social
stimulus. Like gold, humanity becomes bright by friction, and grows
dim for lack of it. So, we say, the farmer's life and home can never
be what they should be,--can never be attractive by the side of other
life containing a true social element,--until they have become more
social. The individual life must not only occupy a place above that of
a beast of burden, but that life must be associated with all congenial
life within its reach. The tree that springs in the open field, though
it be fed by the juices of a rood, through absorbents that penetrate
where they will, will present a hard and stunted growth; while the
little sapling of the forest, seeking for life among a million roots,
or growing in the crevice of a rock, will lift to the light its cap of
leaves upon a graceful stem, and whisper, even-headed, with the
stateliest of its neighbors. Men, like trees, were made to grow
together, and both history and philosophy declare that this Divine
intention cannot be ignored or frustrated with impunity.
Traditional routine has also operated powerfully to diminish the
attractiveness of agricultural employments. This cause, very happily,
grows less powerful from year to year. The purse is seen to have an
intimate sympathy with intelligent farming. Were we to say that God
had so constituted the human mind that routine will tire and disgust
it, we should say in effect that he never intended the farmer's life
to be one of routine. Nature has done all she can to break up routine.
While the earth swings round its orbit once a year, and turns on its
axis once in twenty-four hours,--while the tide ebbs and flows twice
daily, and the seasons come and go in rotation, every atom changes its
relations to every other atom every moment. Influences are tossed into
these skeleton cycles of motion and event which start a myriad of
diverse currents, and break up the whole surface of life and being
into a healthful confusion. There are never two days alike. The
motherly sky never gives birth to twin clouds. The weather shakes its
bundle of mysteries in our faces, and banters us with, "Don't you wish
you knew?" We prophesy rain upon the morrow, and wake with a bar of
golden sunlight on the coverlet. We foretell a hard winter, and,
before it is half gone, become nervous lest we should miss our supply
of ice. The fly, the murrain, the potato-rot, and the grasshoppers,
all have a divine office in tipping over our calculations. The
phantom host of the great North come out for parade without
announcement, and shoot their arrows toward the zenith, and flout the
stars with their rosy flags, and retire, leaving us looking into
heaven and wondering. Long weeks of drought parch the earth, and then
comes the sweet rain, and sets the flowers and the foliage
dancing. All the seasons are either very late or very early, or, for
some reason, "the most remarkable within the memory of man."
This is God's management for destroying routine within the law of
stated revolution, and for bringing the mind constantly into contact
with fresh influences. The soul, encased by a wall of adamantine
circumstances, and driven around a track of unvarying duties,
shrivels, or gets diseased. But these circumstances need not imprison
the farmer, nor these duties become the polished pavement of his
cell. He has his life among the most beautiful scenes of Nature and
the most interesting facts of Science. Chemistry, geology, botany,
meteorology, entomology, and a dozen other related or constituent
sciences,--what is intelligent farming but a series of experiments,
involving, first and last, all of these? What is a farm but a
laboratory where the most important and interesting scientific
problems are solved? The moment that any field of labor becomes
intelligently experimental, that moment routine ceases, and that field
becomes attractive. The most repulsive things under heaven become
attractive, on being invested with a scientific interest. All,
therefore, that a farmer has to do, to break up the traditional
routine of his method and his labor, is to become a scientific
farmer. He will then have an interest in his labor and its results
above their bare utilities. Labor that does not engage the mind has no
dignity; else the ox and the ass are kings in the world, and we are
but younger brothers in the royal family. So we say to every
farmer,--If you would make your calling attractive to yourself and
your boys, seek that knowledge which will break up routine, and make
your calling, to yourself and to them, an intelligent pursuit.
A recent traveller in England speaks enthusiastically of a visit which
he paid to an old farm-house in that country, and of the garden-farm
upon which it stood, which had descended from father to son through a
period of five hundred years. He found a family of charming
intelligence and the politest culture. That hallowed soil was a
beautiful body, of which the family interests and associations were
the soul. To be dissociated from that soil forever would be
regarded by its proprietors as almost equivalent to family
annihilation. Proprietorship in English soil is one of the prime
ambitions of the true Englishman; but we do not find in New England
any kindred sentiments of pride in landed property and family
affection for the paternal acres. The nomadic tribes of Asia would
seem to have quite as strong local attachments as Yankee landholders,
most of whom will sell their homesteads as readily as they will their
horses. This fact we cannot but regard as one among the many causes
which have conspired to despoil the farmer's calling of some of its
legitimate attractions. The son slips away from the old homestead as
easily as he does from the door of a hotel. Very likely his father has
rooted up all home attachments by talking of removing Westward ever
since the boy saw the light. This lack of affection for the family
acres is doubtless owing somewhat to the fact that in this country
landed property is not associated with political privilege, as it has
been in England; but this cannot be the sole reason; for the sentiment
has a genuine basis in nature, and, in not a few instances, an actual
existence amongst us.
Resulting from the operation of all the causes which we have briefly
noticed, there is another cause of the deterioration of farming life
in New England, which cannot be recovered from in many years. Actual
farming life has been brought into such harsh contrast with other
life, that its best materials have been sifted out of it, have slid
away from it. An inquiry at the doors of the great majority of farmers
would exhibit the general fact, that the brightest boys have gone to
college, or have become mechanics, or are teaching school, or are in
trade, or have emigrated to the West. There have been taken directly
out from the New England farming population its best elements,--its
quickest intelligence, its most stirring enterprise, its noblest and
most ambitious natures,--precisely those elements which were necessary
to elevate the standard of the farmer's calling and make it what it
should be. It is very easy to see why these men have not been retained
in the past; it is safe to predict that they will not be retained in
the future, unless a thorough reform be instituted. These men cannot
be kept on a routine farm, or tied to a home which has no higher life
than that of a workshop or a boarding-house. It is not because the
work of the farm is hard that men shun it. They will work harder and
longer in other callings for the sake of a better style of individual
and social life. They will go to the city, and cling to it while half
starving, rather than engage in the dry details and the hard and
homely associations of the life which they forsook.
The boys are not the only members of the farmer's family that flee
from the farmer's life. The most intelligent and most enterprising of
the farmer's daughters become school-teachers, or tenders of shops, or
factory-girls. They contemn the calling of their father, and will,
nine times in ten, marry a mechanic in preference to a farmer. They
know that marrying a farmer is a very serious business. They remember
their worn-out mothers. They thoroughly understand that the vow that
binds them in marriage to a farmer seals them to a severe and homely
service that will end only in death.
As a consequence of this sifting process, to which we have given but a
glance, a very decidedly depressing element is now being rapidly
introduced into New England farming life. The Irish girls have found
their way into the farmer's kitchen, and the Irish laborer has become
the annual "hired man." At present, there are no means of measuring
the effect of this new element; but it cannot fail to depress the tone
of farming society, and surround it with a new swarm of menial
In our judgment, there is but little in the improved modes of farming,
in scientific discoveries, and new mechanical appliances, to be relied
upon for the elevation of New England agriculture and the emancipation
of New England farming life. The farmer needs new ideas more than he
needs new implements. The process of regeneration must begin in the
mind, and not in the soil. The proprietor of that soil should be the
true New England gentleman. His house should be the home of
hospitality, the embodiment of solid comfort and liberal taste, the
theatre of an exalted family-life which shall be the master and not
the servant of labor, and the central sun of a bright and happy social
atmosphere. When this standard shall be reached, there will be no
fear for New England agriculture. The noblest race of men and women
the sun ever shone upon will cultivate these valleys and build their
dwellings upon these hills; and they will cling to a life which
blesses them with health, plenty, individual development, and social
progress and happiness. This is what the farmer's life may be and
should be; and if it ever rise to this in New England, neither prairie
nor savanna can entice her children away; and waste land will become