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Gala-Days by Gail Hamilton

Part 4 out of 6

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for a chance to get it in.)

The Individual came at length to the conclusion that something
must be done. Masterly inactivity must give way to the
exigencies of the case. She had recourse to the "oldest
inhabitant." A series of questions disclosed the important
fact that--

"Well, there was a store at Sonose, about fourteen miles away;
and Mr. Williams, he kept candy, and slate-pencils, and sich--"

"Do you suppose be keeps good thick boots?"

"O la! no."

"Do you suppose he keeps any kind of boots? You see I have
worn mine out, and what am I to do?"

"Well, now, I thinks likely you can get 'em mended."

Individual brightens up. "O, do you?"

"Yes, there's Mr. Jacobs, lives right out there, under the
hill; he makes men's boots. I do' know as he could do yours,
but you might try. Thinks likely he ain't got the tools, nor
the stuff to do that sort of work with."

I didn't care for the tools or the stuff. All I wanted was the
shoemaker; if I could find HIM, little doubt that all the rest
would follow naturally from the premises. So I arranged my
"sandal shoon and scallop-shell," and departed on my
pilgrimage. The way had been carefully pointed out to me, but
I never can remember such things more than one turn, or street,
ahead; so I made a point of inquiring of every one I met, where
Mr. Jacobs lived. Every one, by the way, consisted of a little
girl with a basket of potatoes, and a man carrying the United
States mail on his arm.

At length the Individual found the house as directed, and found
also that it was no house, but a barn, and the shoemaker's shop
was upstairs, and the stairs were on the outside. If they were
firm and strong, their looks were against them. Neither step
nor balustrade invited confidence. The Individual stood on the
lower one in a meditative mood for a while, and then gave a
jump by way of test, thinking it best to go through the one
nearest the ground, if she must go through any. An ominous
creaking and swaying and cracking followed, but no actual
rupture. The second step was tested with the same result; then
the third and fourth; and, reflecting that appearances are
deceitful, and recollecting the rocking-stone at Gloucester,
Massachusetts, and the tower of Pisa, &c., the Individual shook
off her fears, and ascended rapidly. Being somewhat unfamiliar
with the etiquette of shoemaker's shop, she hesitated whether
to knock or plunge at once into the middle of things, but
decided to err on the safe side, and gave a very moderate and
conservative rap. Silence. A louder knock. The door rattled.
Louder still. The whole building shook. Knuckles filed a
caveat. Applied the heel of the dilapidated boot in her hand.
Suffocated with a cloud of dust thence ensuing. Contemplated
the nature of things for a while. Heard a voice. A man called
from a neighboring turnip-field, "Arter Jake?"

"Yes, sir,--if he is a shoemaker" (to make sure of identity).

"Yes, well, he ain't to home."


"He's gone to Sonose."

"When will he be back, if you please?"

"Wall, I can't say for sartin. Next week or week after,--
leastwise 'fore the fair. Got a job?"

"Yes, sir, but I can't very well wait so long. Do you know of
any shoemakers anywhere about?"

"Wall, ma'am, I do' know as I do. Folks is mostly farmers
here. There's Fuller, just moved, though. Come up from Exton
yesterday. P'r'aps he'll give you a lift. That's his house
right down there. 'Taint more 'n half a mile."

"Yes, sir, I see it. Thank you."

Individual descends from her precarious elevation, and marches
to the attack of Fuller. A fresh-faced, good-natured-looking
man is just coming out at the gate. His pleasant countenance
captivates her at once, and, with a silent but intense hope
that he may be the shoemaker, she asks if "Mr. Fuller lives

"Well," replies the man, in an easy, drawling tone, that
harmonizes admirably with his face, "when a fellow is moving,
he can't be said to live anywhere. I guess he'll live here,
though, as soon as the stove gets up."

I reciprocated his frankness with an engaging smile, and asked,
in a confidential tone, "Do you suppose he would mend a shoe
for me?"

I thought I would begin with a shoe, and, if I found him
acquiescent, I would mount gradually to a boot, then to a pair.
But my little subterfuge was water spilled on the ground.

"I don't know whether he would or not, but I know one thing."


"Couldn't if he wanted to. Ain't got his tools here. They
ain't come up yet."

"Oh! is that all?"


"Yes; because, if you know how, I shouldn't think it would make
so much difference about the tools. Couldn't you borrow a
gimlet or something from the neighbors?"


"Yes, or whatever you want, to make shoes with."

"An awl, you mean."

"Well, yes, an awl. Couldn't you borrow an awl?"

"Nary awl."

"When will your tools come?"

"Well, I don't know; you see I don't hurry 'em up, because it's
haying, and I and my men, we'd just as lieves work out of doors
a part of the time as not. We don't mend shoes much. We make
'em mostly."

"Oh that's better still; would you make me a pair?"

"Well, we don't do that kind of work. We work for the dealers.
We make the shoes that they send down South for the niggers.
We ain't got the lasts that would do for you."

Individual goes home, as Chaucer says, "in dumps," and
determines to take the boots under her own supervision. First,
she inks over all the gray parts. Then she takes some sealing-
wax, and sticks down all the bits of cuticle torn up. Then,
in lieu of anything better, she takes some white flannel-silk,--
not embroidery-silk, you understand, but flannel-silk, harder
twisted and stronger, such as is to be found, so far as I have
tried, only in Boston,--and therewith endeavors to down the
curled sole to its appropriate sphere, or rather plane. It is
not the easiest or the most agreeable work in the world. How
people manage to MAKE shoes I cannot divine, for of all awkward
things to get hold of, and to handle and manage after you have
hold, I think a shoe is the worst. The place where you put a
needle in does not seem to hold the most distant relation to
the place where it comes out. You set it where you wish it to
go, and then proceed vi et armis et thimble, but it resists
your armed intervention. Then you rest the head of the needle
against the windowsill, and push. You feel something move.
Everything is going on and in delightfully. Mind asserts its
control over matter. You pause to examine. In? Yes, head deep
in the pine-wood, but the point not an inch further in the shoe.
You pull out. The shoe comes off the needle, but the needle does
not come out of the windowsill. You pull the silk, and break it,
and then work the needle out as well as you can, and then begin
again,--destroying three needles, getting your fingers "exquisitely
pricked," and keeping your temper--if you can.

By some such process did the Individual, a passage of whose
biography I am now giving you, endeavor to repair the ravages
of time and toil. In so far as she succeeded in making the
crooked places straight and the rough places plain, her efforts
may be said to have been crowned with success. It is but fair
to add, however, that the result did not inspire her with so
much confidence but that she determined to lay by the boots for
a while, reserving them for such times as they should be most
needed, with a vague hope also that rest might exercise some
wonderful recuperative power.

About five days after this, they were again brought out, to do
duty on a long walk. The event was most mournful. The
flannel-silk gave at the first fire. The soles rolled
themselves again in a most uncomfortable manner. At every
step, the foot had to be put forward, placed on the ground, and
then drawn back. The walk was an agony. It so happened that
on our return, without any intention, we came out of woods in
the immediate vicinity of the shoemaker's aforesaid, and the
Individual was quite sure she heard the sound of his hammer.
She remembered that, when she was young and at school, she was
familiar with a certain "wardrobe" which was generally so
bulging-full of clothes that the doors could not, by any fair,
straightforward means, be shut; but if you sprang upon them
suddenly, taking them unawares, as it were, and when they were
off their guard, you could sometimes effect a closure. She
determined to try this plan on the shoemaker. So she bade the
rest of the party go on, while she turned off in the direction
of the hammering. She went straight into the shop, without
knocking, the door being ajar. There he was at it, sure enough.

"Your tools have come!" she exclaimed, with ill-concealed
exultation. "Now, will you mend my shoes?"

"Well, I don't know as I can, hardly. I'm pretty much in a
hurry. What with moving and haying, I've got a little behindhand."

"Oh! but you must mend them, because I am going up on the
mountain tomorrow, and I have no others to wear, and I am
afraid of the snakes; so you see, you must."

"Got 'em here?"

Individual furtively works off the best one, and picks it up,--
while his eyes are bent on his work,--as if she had only
dropped it, and hands it to him. He takes it, turns it over,
pulls it, knocks it, with an evident intention of understanding
the subject thoroughly.

"Rather a haggard-looking boot," he remarks, after his close survey.

"Yes, but--"

"Other a'n't so bad, I suppose?"

"Well--I--don't know--that is--"

"Both bad enough."

"Yes, indeed," with an uneasy laugh.

"Let's see the other one." The other one is produced, and
examined in silence.

"Are YOU going to wear them boots up the mountain?" with a tone
that said very plainly, "Of course you're not."

"Why, yes, I WAS going to wear them. Don't you think they
will do?"

"I wouldn't trust MY feet in 'em."

"O--h! ARE there snakes? Do you think snakes could bite
through them?"

A shake of the head, and a little, low, plaintive whistle, is
the only reply, but they speak in thunder of boa-constrictors,
anacondas, and cobra de capellos.

"They were very good and stout when I had them. I called them
very stout shoes."

"O yes, they're made of good material, but you see they 're
worn out. I don't believe I could mend them worth while. The
stitches would tear out."

"But couldn't you, somehow, glue on a pair of soles? any way
to make them stick. I'll pay you anything, if you'll only make
them last till I go home, or even till I get down the mountain.
Now, I am sure you can do it, if you will only think so. Don't
you know Kossuth says, 'Nothing is difficult to him who

He was evidently moved by the earnestness of the appeal. "I
suppose they'd be worth more to you now than half a dozen pair
when you get home."

"Worth! why, they would be of inestimable value. Think of the
snakes! I don't care how you do them, nor how you make them
look. If you will only glue on, or sew on, or nail on, or
rivet on, something that is thick and will stick, I will pay
you, and be grateful to you through the remainder of my natural

"Well,--you leave 'em, and come over again this afternoon, and
if I can do anything, I'll do it by that time."

"Oh! I am so much obliged to you"; and I went away in high
spirits, just putting my head back through the door to say,
"Now you persevere, and I am sure you will succeed."

I was as happy as a queen. To be sure, I had to walk home
without any shoes; but the grass was as soft as velvet, and the
dust as clean as sand, and it did not hurt me in the least.
To be sure, he had not promised to mend them; but I had faith
in him, and how did it turn out? Verily, I should not have
known the boots, if I seen only the soles. They were clipped,
and shaved, and underpinned, and smoothed, and looked as if
they had taken out "a new lease of life."

"I don't suppose they will last you as long as I have been
doing them," he remarked, with unprofessional frankness. I did
not believe him, and indeed his prophecy was not true, for they
are in existence yet, and I never disposed of "a quarter" in
my life with more satisfaction than I dropped it that day into
his benevolent hand.

A thousand years hence, when New Hampshire shall have become
as populous as Babylon, this sketch may become the foundation
of some "Tale of Beowulf" or other. At any rate here it is

Of all the White Mountains, the one of which you hear least
said is Agamenticus, and perhaps justly, for it is not one of
the White Mountains, but an isolated peak by itself. My
information concerning it is founded partly on observation,
partly on testimony, and partly on memory, supported where she
is weak by conjecture. These sources, however, mingle their
waters together somewhat too intricately for accurate analysis,
and I shall, therefore, waive distinctions, and plant myself
on the broad basis of assertion, warning the future historian
and antiquary not take this paper as conclusive without
extraneous props.

Agamenticus is a huge rock rising abruptly from a level country
along New Hampshire's half-yard of sea-shore. As it is the
only large rock on the eastern coast of the United States, it
is in invaluable beacon to mariners. The first city ever built
on American continent was laid out at its base, the remains are
now visible from its summit; but, as funds failed, and the
founders were killed by the Indians, it was never completed,
in fact was never begun, only laid out. To the east I was
certain I saw Boar's Head and a steamer steaming towards it,
till I was assured that in such case the steamer must have been
steaming over the corn-fields, because, unlike Aenon near to
Salim, there was no water there. So I suppose it must have

"A painted ship upon a painted ocean."

The ascent to Agamenticus is sidling and uncertain so long as
you hug your carriage; but, leaving that, and confiding
yourself to Mother Earth, you gather both strength and
equipoise from the touch, and, with a little boy to guide you
through the woods and over the rocks, you will find the ascent
quite pleasant and safe, if you are careful not to slip down,
which you will be sure to do on your descent, whether you are
careful or not. At the summit of the mountain is a fine and
flourishing growth of muskmelon, sugar, and currant-wine. At
least we found them there in profusion.

Agamenticus has its legend. Many years ago, the Indians, to
avert the plague, drove twenty thousand cattle to the top of
the mountain, and there sacrificed them to the Great Spirit.
We could still discern traces of the sacrifice,--burnt stones,
bits of green-black glass, and charred pine branches. Then we
came home.

Perthes says, "That part of a journey which remains after the
travelling is the journey." What remains of my journey, for
me, for you? Will any live over again a pleasant past and look
more cheerily into a lowering future for these wayward words
of mine? Are there clouded lives that will find a little
sunshine; pent-up souls that will catch a breath of blooms in
my rambling record? Are there lips that will relax their
tightness; eyes that will lose for a moment the shadow of
remembered pain? Then, indeed, the best part of my journey is
yet to come.


In the newspapers and magazines you shall see many poems and
papers--written by women who meekly term themselves weak, and
modestly profess to represent only the weak among their sex--
discussing the duties which the weak owe to their country in
days like these. The invariable conclusion is, that, though
they cannot fight, because they are not men,--or go down to
nurse the sick and wounded, because they have children to take
care of,--or write effectively, because they do not know how,-
-or do any great and heroic thing, because they have not the
ability,--they can pray; and they generally do close with a
melodious and beautiful prayer. Now praying is a good thing.
It is, in fact, the very best thing in the world to do, and
there is no danger of our having too much of it; but if women,
weak or strong, consider that praying is all they can or ought
to do for their country, and so settle down contented with
that, they make as great a mistake as if they did not pray at
all. True, women cannot fight, and there is no call for any
great number of female nurses; notwithstanding this, the issue
of this war depends quite as much upon American women as upon
American men,--and depends, too, not upon the few who write,
but upon the many who do not. The women of the Revolution were
not only Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Reed, and Mrs. Schuyler, but the
wives of the farmers and shoemakers and blacksmiths everywhere.
It is not Mrs. Stowe, or Mrs. Howe, or Miss Stevenson, or Miss
Dix, alone, who is to save the country, but the thousands upon
thousands who are at this moment darning stockings, tending
babies, sweeping floors. It is to them I speak. It is they
whom I wish to get hold of; for in their hands lies slumbering
the future of this nation.

Shall I say that the women of today have not come up to the
level of today,--that they do not stand abreast with its
issues,--they do not rise to the height of its great argument?
I do not forget what you have done. I have beheld, O Dorcases,
with admiration and gratitude, the coats and garments, the lint
and bandages, which you have made. If you could have finished
the war with your needle, it would have been finished long ago;
but stitching does not crush rebellion, does not annihilate
treason, or hew traitors in pieces before the Lord. Excellent
as far as it goes, it stops fearfully of the goal. This ought
ye to do, but there other things which you ought not to leave
me. The war cannot be finished by sheets and pillow-cases.
Sometimes I am tempted to believe that it cannot be finished
till we have flung them all away. When I read of the rebels
fighting bare-headed, bare-footed, haggard, and shorn, in rags
and filth,--fighting bravely, heroically, successfully,--I am
ready to make a burnt-offering of our stacks of clothing. I
feel and fear that we must come down, as they have to a
recklessness of all incidentals, down to the rough and rugged
fastnesses of life, down to very gates of death itself, before
we shall be ready and worthy to win victories. Yet it is not
for the hardest fights the earth has ever known have been made
by the delicate-handed and purple-robed. So, in the ultimate
analysis, it is neither gold-lace nor rags that overpower
obstacles, but the fiery soul that consumes both in the
intensity of its furnace-heat, bending impossibilities to
the ends of its passionate purpose.

This soul of fire is what I wish to see kindled in our women,
burning white and strong and steady, through all weakness,
timidity, vacillation, treachery in church or state or press
or parlor, scorching, blasting, annihilating whatsoever loveth
and maketh a lie,--extinguished by no tempest of defeat, no
drizzle of delay, but glowing on its steadfast path till it
shall have cleared through the abomination of our desolation
a highway for the Prince of Peace.

O my countrywomen, I long to see you stand under the time and
bear it up in your strong hearts, and not need to be borne up
through it. I wish you to stimulate, and not crave stimulants
from others. I wish you to be the consolers, the encouragers,
the sustainers, and not tremble in perpetual need of
consolation and encouragement. When men's brains are knotted
and their brows corrugated with fearful looking for and hearing
of financial crises, military disasters, and any and every form
of national calamity consequent upon the war, come you out to
meet them, serene and smiling and unafraid. And let your smile
be no formal distortion of your lips, but a bright ray from the
sunshine in your heart. Take not acquiescently, but joyfully,
the spoiling of your goods. Not only look poverty in the face
with high disdain, but embrace it with gladness and welcome.
The loss is but for a moment; the gain is for all time. Go
further than this. Consecrate to a holy cause not only the
incidentals of life, but life itself. Father, husband, child,--
I do not say, Give them up to toil, exposure, suffering,
death, without a murmur;--that implies reluctance. I rather
say, Urge them to the offering; fill them with sacred fury;
fire them with irresistible desire; strengthen them to heroic
will. Look not on details, the present, the trivial, the
aspects of our conflict, but fix your ardent gaze on its
eternal side. Be not resigned, but rejoicing. Be spontaneous
and exultant. Be large and lofty. Count it all joy that you
are reckoned worthy to suffer in a grand and righteous cause.
Give thanks evermore that you were born in this time; and
BECAUSE it is dark, be you the light of world.

And follow the soldier to the battle-field with spirit. The
great army of letters that marches southward with every morning
sun is a powerful engine of war. Fill them with tears and
sighs, lament separation and suffering, dwell on your
loneliness and fears, mourn over the dishonesty of contractors
and the incompetency of leaders, doubt if the South will ever
be conquered, and foresee financial ruin, and you will damp the
powder and dull the swords that ought to deal death upon the
foe. Write as tenderly as you will. In camp, the roughest man
idealizes his far-off home, and every word of love uplifts him
to a lover. But let your tenderness unfold its sunny side, and
keep the shadows for His pity who knows the end from the
beginning, and whom no foreboding can dishearten. Glory in
your tribulation. Show your soldier that his unflinching
courage, his undying fortitude, are your crown of rejoicing.
Incite him to enthusiasm by your inspiration. Make a mock of
your discomforts. Be unwearying in details of the little
interests of home. Fill your letters with kittens and
canaries, with baby's shoes, and Johnny's sled, and the old
cloak which you have turned into a handsome gown. Keep him
posted in all the village-gossip, the lectures, the courtings,
the sleigh-rides, and the singing schools. Bring out the good
points of the world in strong relief. Tell every piquant and
pleasant and funny story you call think of. Show him that you
clearly apprehend that all this warfare means peace, and that
a dastardly peace would pave the way for speedy, incessant,
and more appalling warfare. Help him to bear his burdens by
showing him how elastic you are under yours. Hearten him,
enliven him, tone him up to the true hero-pitch. Hush your
plaintive Miserere, accept the nation's pain for penance, and
commission every Northern breeze to bear a Te Deum laudamus.

It fell to me once to read the record of a young life laid
early on our country's altar. I saw noble words traced by the
still hand,--words of duty and honor and love and trust that
thrilled my heart and brought back once more the virtue of the
Golden Age,--nay, rather revealed the virgin gold of this; but
through all his letters and his life shone, half concealed,
yet wholly revealed, a silver thread of light, woven in by a
woman's hand. Rest and courage and hope, patience in the
weariness of disease, strength that nerved his arm for shock
and onset, and for the last grand that laid his young head
low,--all flowed in upon him through the tones of one brave,
sweet voice far off. A gentle, fragile, soft-eyed woman, what
could such a delicate flower do against the "thunder-storm of
battle"? What DID she do? Poured her own great heart and own
high spirit into the patriot's heart and soul, and so did all.
Now as she goes to fro and in her daily life, soft-eyed still
and serene, she seems to me no longer a beautiful girl, but a
saint wrapped around already with the radiance of immortality.

Under God, the only question, as to whether war shall be
conducted to a shameful or an honorable close, is not of men
or money or material resource. In these our superiority is
unquestioned. As Wellington phrased it, there is hard
pounding; but we shall pound the longest, if only our hearts
not fail us. Women need not beat their pewter spoon into
bullets, for there are plenty of bullets without them. It is
not whether our soldiers shall fight a good fight; they have
played the man on a hundred battle-fields. It is not whether
officers are or are not competent; generals have blundered
nation into victory since the world began. It is whether this
people shall have virtue to endure to the end,--to endure, not
starving, not cold, but the pangs of hope deferred, of
disappointment and uncertainty, of commerce deranged and
outward prosperity checked. Will our vigilance to detect
treachery and our perseverance to punish it hold out? If we
stand firm, we shall be saved, though so as by fire. If we do
not, we shall fall, and shall richly deserve to fall; and may
God sweep us off from the face of the earth, and plant in our
stead a nation with the hearts of men!

O women, here you may stand powerful, invincible, I had almost
said omnipotent. Rise now to the heights of a sublime
courage,--for the hour has need of you. When the first ball
smote the rocky sides of Sumter, the rebound thrilled from
shore to shore, and waked the slumbering hero in every human
soul. Then every eye flamed, every lip was touched with a live
coal from the sacred altar, every form dilated to the stature
of the ideal time. Then we felt in our veins the pulse of
immortal youth. Then all the chivalry of the ancient days, all
the heroism, all the self-sacrifice that shaped itself into
noble living, came back to us, poured over us, swept away the
dross of selfishness and deception and petty scheming, and
Patriotism rose from the swelling wave stately as a goddess.
Patriotism, that had been to us but a dingy and meaningless
antiquity, took on a new form, a new mien, a countenance
divinely fair and forever young, and received once more the
homage of our hearts. Was that a childish outburst of
excitement, or the glow of an aroused principle? Was it a
puerile anger, or a manly indignation? Did we spring up
startled pygmies, or girded giants? If the former, let us
veil our faces, and march swiftly (and silently) to merciful
forgetfulness. If the latter, shall we not lay aside every
weight, and this besetting sin of despondency, and run with
patience the race set before us?

A true philosophy and a true religion make the way possible to
us. The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it
to whomsoever He will; and he never yet willed that a nation
strong in means, and battling for the right, should be given
over to a nation weak and battling for the wrong. Nations
have their future--reward and penalty--in this world; and it
is as certain as God lives, that Providence AND the heaviest
battalions will prevail. We have had reverses, but no
misfortune hath happened unto us but such as is common unto
nations. Country has been sacrificed to partisanship. Early
love has fallen away, and lukewarmness has taken its place.
Unlimited enthusiasm has given place to limited stolidity.
Disloyalty, overawed at first into quietude, has lifted its
head among us, and waxes wroth and ravening. There are
dissensions at home worse than the guns of our foes. Some
that did run well have faltered; some signal-lights have gone
shamefully out, and some are lurid with a baleful glare. But
unto this end were we born, and for this cause came we into the
world. When shall greatness of soul stand forth, if not in
evil times? When the skies are fair and the seas smooth, all
ships sail festively. But the clouds lower, the winds shriek,
the waves boil, and immediately each craft shows its quality.
The deep is strown with broken masts, parted keels, floating
wrecks; but here and there a ship rides the raging sea, and
flings defiance to the wind. She overlives the sea because she
is sea-worthy. Not our eighty years of peace alone, but our two
years of war, are the touchstone of our character. We have rolled
our Democracy as a sweet morsel under our tongue; we have gloried
in the prosperity which it brought to the individual; but if the
comforts of men minister to the degradation of man, if Democracy
levels down and does not level up, if our era of peace and plenty
leaves us so feeble and frivolous, so childish, so impatient, so
deaf to all that calls to us from the past, and entreats us in the
future, that we faint and fail under the stress of our one short
effort, then indeed is our Democracy our shame and curse. Let us
show now what manner of people we are. Let us be clear-sighted
and far-sighted to see how great is the issue that hangs upon the
occasion. It is not a mere military reputation that is at stake,
not the decay of a generation's commerce, not the determination of
this or that party to power. It is the question of the world that
we have been set to answer. In the great conflict of ages, the
long strife between right and wrong, between progress and sluggardy,
through the providence of God we are placed in the vanguard. Three
hundred years ago a world was unfolded for the battle-ground.
Choice spirits came hither to level and intrench. Swords clashed
and blood flowed, and the great reconnaissance was successfully
made. Since then both sides have been gathering strength,
marshalling forces, planting batteries, and today we stand in
the thick of the fray. Shall we fail? Men and women of America,
will you fail? Shall the cause go by default? When a great
idea, that has been uplifted on the shoulders of generations,
comes now to its Thermopylae, its glory-gate, and needs only
stout hearts for its strong hands,--when the eyes of a great
multitude are turned upon you, and the of dumb millions in the
silent future rest you,--when the suffering and sorrowful, the
lowly, whose immortal hunger for justice gnaws at hearts, who
blindly see, but keenly feel, by their God-given instincts,
that somehow you are working out their salvation, and the
high-born, monarchs in the domain of mind, who, standing far
off; see with prophetic eye the two courses that lie before
you, one to the Uplands of vindicated Right, one to the Valley
of the Shadow of Death, alike fasten upon you their hopes,
their prayers, their tears,--will you, for a moment's bodily
comfort and rest and repose, grind all these expectations and
hopes between the upper and nether millstone? Will you fail
the world in this fateful hour by your faint-heartedness? Will
you fail yourself; and put the knife to your own throat? For
the peace which you so dearly buy shall bring to you neither
ease nor rest. You will but have spread a bed of thorns.
Failure will write disgrace upon the brow of this generation,
and shame will outlast the age. It is not with us as with
the South. She can surrender without dishonor. She is the
weaker power, and her success will be against the nature of
things. Her dishonor lay in her attempt, not in its
relinquishment. But we shall fail, not because of mechanics
and mathematics, but because our manhood and womanhood weighed
in the balance are found wanting. There are few who will not
share in the sin. There are none who will not share in the
shame. Wives, would you hold back your husbands? Mothers,
would you keep your sons? From what? for what? From the
doing of the grandest duty that ever ennobled man, to the grief
of the greatest infamy that ever crushed him down. You would
hold him back from prizes before which Olympian laurels fade,
for a fate before which a Helot slave might cower. His
country in the agony of her death-struggle calls to him for
succor. All the blood in all the ages, poured out for liberty,
poured out for him, cries unto him from the ground. All that
life has of noble, of heroic, beckons him forward. Death
itself wears for him a golden crown. Ever since the world
swung free from God's hand, men have died,--obeying the blind
fiat of Nature; but only once in a generation comes the
sacrificial year, the year of jubilee, when men march lovingly
to meet their fate and die for a nation's life. Holding back,
we transmit to those that shall come after us a blackened
waste. The little one that lies in his cradle will be accursed
for our sakes. Every child will be base-born, springing from
ignoble blood. We inherited a fair fame, and bays from a
glorious battle; but for him is no background, no stand-point.
His country will be a burden on his shoulders, a blush upon his
cheek, a chain about his feet. There is no career for the
future, but a weary effort, a long, a painful, a heavy-hearted
struggle to lift the land out of its slough of degradation and
set it once more upon a dry place.

Therefore let us have done at once and forever paltry
considerations, with talk of despondency and darkness. Let
compromise, submission, and every form of dishonorable peace
be not so much as named among us. Tolerate no coward's voice
or pen or eye. Wherever the serpent's head is raised, strike
it down. Measure every man by the standard of manhood.
Measure country's price by country's worth, and country's worth
by country's integrity. Let a cold, clear breeze sweep down
from the mountains of life, and drive out these miasmas that
befog and beguile the unwary. Around every hearthstone let
sunshine gleam. In every home let fatherland have its altar
and its fortress. From every household let words of cheer and
resolve and high-heartiness ring out, till the whole land is
shining and resonant in the bloom of its awakening spring.


The conjunction of amiability and sense in the same individual
renders that individual's position in a world like us very
disagreeable. Amiability without sense, or sense without
amiability, runs along smoothly enough. The former takes
things as they are. It receives all glitter as pure gold, and
does not see that it is custom alone which varnishes wrong with
a slimy coat of respectability, and glorifies selfishness with
the aureole of sacrifice. It sets down all collisions as
foreordained, and never observes that they occur because people
will not smooth off their angles, but sharpen them, and not
only sharpen them, but run them into you. It forgets that the
Lord made man upright, but he hath sought out many inventions.
It attributes all the collision and inaptitude which it finds
to the nature of things, and never suspects that the Devil goes
around in the night, thrusting the square men into the round
places, and the round men into the square places. It never
notices that the reason why the rope does not unwind easily is
because one strand is a world too large, and another a world
too small, and so it sticks where it ought to roll, and rolls
where it ought to stick. It makes sweet, faint efforts, with
tender fingers and palpitating heart to oil the wheels and
polish up the machine, and does not for a moment imagine that
the hitch is owing to original incompatibility of parts and
purposes, that the whole machine must be pulled to pieces and
made over, and that nothing will be done by standing patiently
by, trying to sooth away the creaking and wheezing and groaning
of the laboring, lumbering thing, by laying on a little drop
of sweet oil with a pin-feather. As it does not see any of
these things that are happening before its eyes, of course it
is shallowly happy. And on the other hand, he who does see
them, and is not amiable, is grimly and Grendally happy. He
likes to say disagreeable things, and all this dismay and
disaster scatter disagreeable things broadcast along his path,
so that all he has to do is to pick them up and say them.
Therefore this world is his paradise. He would not know what
to do with himself in a world where matters were sorted and
folded and laid away ready for you when you should want them.
He likes to see human affairs mixing themselves up in
irretrievable confusion. If he detects a symptom of
straightening, it shall go hard but he will thrust in his own
fingers and snarl a thread or two. He is delighted to find
dogged duty and eager desire butting each other. All the
irresistible forces crashing against all the immovable bodies
give him no shock, only a pleasant titillation. He is never
so happy as when men are taking hold of things by the blade,
and cutting their hands, and losing blood. He tells them of
it, but not in order to relieve so much as to "aggravate" them;
and he does aggravate them, and is satisfied. O, but he is an
aggravating person!

It is you, you who combine the heart of a seraph with the head
of a cherub, who know what trouble is. You see where the shoe
pinches, but your whole soul shrinks from pointing out the
tender place. You see why things go wrong, and how they might
be set right; but you have a mortal dread of being thought
meddlesome and impertinent, or cold and cruel, or restless and
arrogant, if you attempt to demolish the wrong or rebel against
the custom. When you draw your bow at an abuse, people think
you are trying to bring down religion and propriety and
humanity. But your conscience will not let you see the abuse
raving to and fro over the earth without taking aim; so, either
way, you are cut to the heart.

I love men. I adore women. I value their good opinion. There
is much in them to applaud and imitate. There is much in them
to elicit faith and reverence. If, only, one could see their
good alone, or, seeing their vapid and vicious ones, could
contemplate them with no touch of tenderness for the owner,
life might indeed be lovely. As it is, while I am at one
moment rapt in enthusiastic admiration of the strength and
grace, the power and pathos, the hidden resources, the profound
capabilities of my race, at another, I could wish, Nero-like,
that all mankind were concentrated in one person, and all
womankind in another, that I might take them, after the fashion
of rural schoolmasters, and shake their heads together.
Condemnation and reproach are not in my line; but there is so
much in the world that merits condemnation and reproach, and
receives indifference and even reward, there is so munch
acquiescence in wrong doing and wrong thinking, so much letting
things jolt along in the same rut wherein we and they were
born, without inquiring whether, lifted into another groove,
they might not run more easily, that, if one who does see the
difficulty holds his peace, the very stones will cry out.
However gladly one would lie on a bed of roses and glide
silken-sailed down the stream of life, how exquisitely painful
soever it may be to say what you fear and feel may give pain,
it is only a Sybarite who sets ease above righteousness, only
a coward who misses victory through dread of defeat.

There are many false ideas afloat regarding womanly duties.
I do not design now to open anew any vulgar, worn-out,
woman's-rightsy question. Every remark that could be made on
that theme has been made--but one, and that I will take the
liberty to make now in a single sentence, close the discussion.
It is this: the man who gave rubber-boots to women did more
to elevate woman than all the theorizers, male or female, that
were born.

But without any suspicious lunges into that dubious region
which lies outside of woman's universally acknowledged
"sphere," (a blight rest upon the word!) there is within the
pale, within boundary-line which the most conservative never
dreamed of questioning, room for a great divergence of ideas.
Now divergence of ideas does not necessarily imply fighting at
short range. People may adopt a course of conduct which you
not approve; yet you may feel it your duty to make no open
animadversio. Circumstances may have suggested such a course
to them, or forced it upon them; and perhaps, considering all
things, it is the best they can do. But when, encouraged by
your silence, they publish it to the world, not only as
relatively, but intrinsically, the best and most desirable,--
when, not content with swallowing it themselves as medicine,
they insist on ramming it down your throat as food,--it is time
to buckle on your armor, and have at them.

A little book, published by the Tract Society, "The Mother and
her Work," has been doing just this thing. It is a modest
little book. It makes no pretensions to literary or other
superiority. It has much excellent counsel, pious reflection,
and comfortable suggestion. Being a little book, it costs but
little, and it will console, refresh, and instruct weary,
conscientious mothers, and so have a large circulation, a wide
influence, and do an immense amount of mischief. For the Evil
One in his senses never sends out poison labelled "POISON."
He mixes it in with great quantities of innocent and nutritive
flour and sugar. He shapes it in cunning shapes of pigs and
lambs and hearts and birds and braids. He tints it with gay
lines of green and pink and rose, and puts it in the
confectioner's glass windows, where you buy--what? Poison?
No, indeed! Candy, at prices to suit the purchasers. So this
good and pious little book has such a preponderance of goodness
and piety that the poison in it will not be detected, except
by chemical analysis. It will go down sweetly, like grapes of
Beulah. Nobody will suspect he is poisoned; but just so far
as it reaches and touches, the social dyspepsia will be

I submit a few atoms of the poison revealed by careful examination.

"The mother's is a MOST HONORABLE calling. 'What a pity that
one so gifted should be so tied down!' remarks a superficial
observer, as she looks upon the mother of a young and
increasing family. The pale, thin face and feeble step,
bespeaking the multiplied and wearying cares of domestic
life, elicit an earnest sympathy from the many, thoughtlessly
flitting across her pathway, and the remark passes from mouth
to mouth, 'How I pity her! What a shame it is! She is
completely worn down with so many children.' It may be,
however, that this young mother is one who needs and asks no
pity," etc.

"But the TRUE MOTHER yields herself uncomplainingly, yea,
cheerfully, to the wholesome privation, solitude, and
self-denial allotted her...... Was she fond of travelling, of
visiting the wonderful in Nature and in Art, of mingling in new
and often-varying scenes? Now she has found 'an abiding city,'
and no allurements are strong enough to tempt her thence. Had
society charms for her, and in the social circle and the
festive throng were her chief delights? Now she stays at home,
and the gorgeous saloon and brilliant assemblage give place to
the nursery and the baby. Was she devoted to literary
pursuits? Now the library is seldom visited, the cherished
studies are neglected, the rattle and the doll are substituted
for the pen. Her piano is silent, while she chants softly and
sweetly the soothing lullaby. Her dress can last another
season now, and the hat--oh, she does not care, if it is not
in the latest mode, for she has a baby to look after, and has
no time for herself. Even the ride and the walk are given up,
perhaps too often, with the excuse, 'Baby-tending is exercise
enough for me.' Her whole life is reversed."

The assumption is, that all this is just as it should be. The
thoughtless person may fancy that it is a pity; but it is not
a pity. This is a model mother and a model state of things.
It is not simply to be submitted to, not simply to be patiently
borne; it is to be aspired to as the noblest and holiest state.

That is the strychnine. You may counsel people to take
joyfully the spoiling of their goods, and comfort, encourage,
and strengthen them by so doing; but when you tell them that
to be robbed and plundered is of itself a priceless blessing,
the highest stage of human development, you do them harm;
because, in general, falsehood is always harmful, and because,
in particular, so far as you influence them at all, you prevent
them from taking measures to stop the wrong-doing. You ought
to counsel them to bear with Christian resignation what they
cannot help; but you ought with equal fervor to counsel them
to look around and see if there are not many things which they
can help, and if there are, by all means to help them. What
is inevitable comes to us from God, no matter how many hands
it passes through; but submission to unnecessary evils is
cowardice or laziness; and extolling of the evil as good is
sheer ignorance, or perversity, or servility. Even the ills
that must be borne, should be borne under protest, lest
patience degenerate into slavery. Christian character is
never formed by acquiescence in, or apotheosis of wrong.

The principle that underlies these extracts, and makes them
ministrative of evil, is the principle that a woman can benefit
her children by sacrificing herself. It teaches, that pale,
thin faces and feeble steps are excellent things in young
mothers,--provided they are gained by maternal duties. We
infer that it is meet, right, and the bounden of such to give
up society, reading, riding, music, and become indifferent to
dress, cultivation, recreation, to everything, in short, except
taking care of the children. It is all just as wrong as it can
be. It is wrong morally; it is wrong socially; wrong in
principle, wrong in practice. It is a blunder as well as a
crime, for it works woe. It is a wrong means to accomplish an
end; and it does not accomplish the end, after all, but
demolishes it.

On the contrary, the duty and dignity of a mother require that
she should never subordinate herself to her children. When she
does so, she does it to their manifest injury and her own. Of
course, if illness or accident demand unusual care, she does
well to grow thin and pale in bestowing unusual care. But when
a mother in the ordinary routine of life grows thin and pale,
gives up riding, reading, and the amusements and occupations
of life, there is a wrong somewhere, and her children shall
reap the fruits of it. The father and mother are the head of
the family, the most comely and the most honorable part.
They cannot benefit their children by descending from their
Heaven-appointed places, and becoming perpetual and exclusive
feet and hands. This is the great fault of American mothers.
They swamp themselves in a slough of self-sacrifice. They are
smothered in their own sweetness. They dash into domesticity
with an impetus and abandonment that annihilate themselves.
They sink into their families like a light in a poisonous well,
and are extinguished.

One hears much complaint of the direction and character of
female education. It is dolefully affirmed that young ladies
learn how to sing operas but not how to keep house,--that they
can conjugate Greek verbs, but cannot make bread,--that they
are good for pretty toying, but not for homely using.
Doubtless there is foundation for this remark, or it would
never have been made. But I have been in the East and the
West, and the North and the South; I know that I have seen the
best society, and I am sure I have seen very bad, if not the
worst; and I never met a woman whose superior education, whose
piano, whose pencil, whose German, or French, or any
school-accomplishments, or even whose novels, clashed with her
domestic duties. I have read of them in books; I did hear of
one once; but I never met one,--not one. I have seen women,
through love of gossip, through indolence, through sheer famine
of mental PABLUM, leave undone things that ought to be done,--
rush to the assembly, lecture-room, the sewing-circle, or
vegetate in squalid, shabby, unwholesome homes; but I never saw
education run to ruin. So it seems to me that we are needlessly
alarmed in that direction.

I have seen scores and scores of women leave school, leave
their piano and drawing and fancy-work, and all manner of
pretty and pleasant things, and marry and bury themselves. You
hear of them about six times in ten years, and there is a baby
each time. They crawl out of the farther end of the ten years,
sallow and wrinkled and lank,--teeth gone, hair gone, roses
gone, plumpness gone,--freshness, and vivacity, and sparkle,
everything that is dewy, and springing, and spontaneous, gone,
gone, gone forever. This our Tract-Society book puts very
prettily. "She wraps herself in the robes of infantile
simplicity, and, burying her womanly nature in the tomb of
childhood, patiently awaits the sure-coming resurrection in the
form of a noble, high-minded, world-stirring son, or a
virtuous, lovely daughter. The nursery is the mother's
chrysalis. Let her abide for a little season, and she shall
emerge triumphantly, with ethereal wings and a happy flight."

But the nursery ought not to be the mother's chrysalis. God
never intended her to wind herself up into a cocoon. If he
had, he would made her a caterpillar. She has no right to bury
her womanly nature in the tomb of childhood. It will surely
be required at her hands. It was given her to sun itself in
the broad, bright day, to root itself fast and firm in the
earth, to spread itself wide to the sky, that her children in
their infancy and youth and maturity, that her husband in his
strength and his weakness, that her kinsfolk and neighbors and
the poor of the land, the halt and the blind and all Christ's
little ones, may sit under its shadow with great delight. No
woman has a right to sacrifice her own soul to problematical,
high-minded, world-stirring sons, and virtuous, lovely
daughters. To be the mother of such, one might perhaps pour
out one's life in draughts so copious that the fountain should
run dry; but world-stirring people are extremely rare. One in
a century is a liberal allowance. The overwhelming
probabilities are, that her sons will be lawyers and shoemakers
and farmers and commission-merchants, her daughters nice,
"smart," pretty girls, all good, honest, kind-hearted,
commonplace people, not at all world-stirring, not at all the
people one would glory to merge one's self in. If the mother
is not satisfied with this, if she wants them otherwise, she
must be otherwise. The surest way to have high-minded children
is to be high-minded yourself. A man cannot burrow in his
counting-room for ten or twenty of the best years of his life,
and come out as much of a man and as little of a mole as he
went in. But the twenty years should have ministered to his
manhood, instead of trampling on it. Still less can a woman
bury herself in her nursery, and come out without harm. But
the years should have done her great good. This world is not
made for a tomb, but a garden. You are to be a seed, not a
death. Plant yourself, and you will sprout. Bury yourself,
and you can only decay. For a dead opportunity there is no
resurrection. The only enjoyment, the only use to be attained
in this world, must be attained on the wing. Each day brings
its own happiness, its own benefit; but it has none to spare.
What escapes today is escaped forever. Tomorrow has no
overflow to atone for the lost yesterdays.

Few things are more painful to look upon than the
self-renunciation, the self-abnegation of mothers,--painful
both for its testimony and its prophecy. Its testimony is of
over-care, over-work, over-weariness, the abuse of capacities
that were bestowed for most sacred uses, an utter waste of most
pure and life-giving waters. Its prophecy is early decline and
decadence, forfeiture of position and power, and worst,
perhaps, of all, irreparable loss and grievous wrong to the
children for whom all is sacrificed.

God gives to the mother supremacy in her family. It belongs
to her to maintain it. This cannot not be done without
exertion. The temptation to come down from her throne, and
become a mere hewer of wood and drawer of water is very strong.
It is so much easier to work with the hands than with the head.
One can chop sticks all day serenely unperplexed. But to
administer a government demands observation and knowledge and
judgment and resolution and inexhaustible patience. Yet,
however uneasy lies the head that wears the crown of womanhood,
that crown cannot be bartered away for any baser wreath without
infinite harm. In both cases there must be sacrifice; but in
the one case it is unto death, in the other unto life. If the
mother stands on high ground, she brings her children up to her
own level; if she sinks, they sink with her.

To maintain her rank, no exertion is too great, no means too
small. Dress is one of the most obvious things to a child.
If the mother wears cheap or shabby or ill-assorted clothes,
while the children's are fine and harmonious, it is impossible
that they should not receive the impression that they are of
more consequence than their mother. Therefore, for her
children's sake, if not for her own, the mother should always
be well-dressed. Her baby, so far as it is concerned in the
matter, instead of being an excuse for a faded bonnet, should
be an inducement for a fresh one. It is not a question of
riches or poverty; it is a thing of relations. It is simply
that the mother's dress--her morning and evening and street
and church dress--should be quite as good as, and if there is
any difference, better than her child's. It is of manner of
consequence how a child is clad, provided only its health be
not injured, its taste corrupted, or its self-respect wounded.
Children look prettier in the cheapest and simplest materials
than in the richest and most elaborate. But how common is it
to see the children gaily caparisoned in silk and feathers and
flounces, while the mother is enveloped in an atmosphere of
cottony fadiness! One would take the child to be mistress, and
the mother a servant. "But," the mother says, "I do not care
for dress, and Caroline does. She, poor child, would be
mortified not to be dressed like the other children." Then do
you teach her better. Plant in her mind a higher standard of
self-respect. Don't tell her you cannot afford to do for her
thus and thus; that will scatter premature thorns along her
path; but say that you do not approve of it; it is proper for
her to dress in such and such a way. And be so nobly and
grandly a woman that she shall have faith in you.

It is essential also that the mother have sense, intelligence,
comprehension. As much as she can add of education and
accomplishments will increase her stock in trade. Her reading
and riding and music, instead of being neglected for her
children's sake, should for their sake be scrupulously
cultivated. Of the two things, it is a thousand times better
that they should be attended by a nursery-maid in their infancy
than by a feeble, timid, inefficient matron in their youth.
The mother can oversee half a dozen children with a nurse; but
she needs all her strength, all her mind, her own eyes, and
ears, and quick perceptions, and delicate intuition, and calm
self-possession, when her sturdy boys and wild young girls are
leaping and bounding and careering into their lusty life. All
manner of novel temptations beset them,--perils by night and
perils by day,--perils in the house and by the way. Their
fierce and hungry young souls, rioting in awakening
consciousness, ravening for pleasure, strong and tumultuous,
snatch eagerly at every bait. They want then a mother able to
curb, and guide, and rule them; and only a mother who commands
their respect can do this. Let them see her sought for her
social worth,--let them see that she is familiar with all the
conditions of their life,--that her vision is at once broader
and keener than theirs,--that her feet have travelled along the
paths they are just beginning to explore,--that she knows all
the phases alike of their strength and their weakness,--and her
influence over them is unbounded. Let them see her uncertain,
uncomfortable, hesitating, fearful without discrimination,
leaning where she ought to support, interfering without power
of suggesting, counseling, but not controlling, with no
presence, no hearing, no experience, no prestige, and they will
carry matters with a high hand. They will overrule her
decisions, and their love will not be unmingled with contempt.
It will be strong enough to prick them when they have done
wrong, but not strong enough to keep them from doing wrong.

Nothing gives a young girl such vantage-ground in society and
in life as a mother,--a sensible, amiable, brilliant, and
commanding woman. Under the shelter of such a mother's wing,
the neophyte is safe. This mother will attract to herself the
wittiest and the wisest. The young girl can see society in its
best phases, without being herself drawn out into its glare.
She forms her own style on the purest models. She gains
confidence, without losing modesty. Familiar with wisdom, she
will not be dazed by folly. Having the opportunity to make
observations before she begins to be observed, she does not
become the prey of the weak and the wicked. Her taste is
strengthened and refined, her standard elevates itself; her
judgment acquires a firm basis. But cast upon own resources,
her own blank inexperience, at her first entrance into the
world, with nothing to stand between her and what is openly
vapid and covertly vicious, with no clear eye to detect for
her the false and distinguish the true, no firm, judicious hand
to guide tenderly and undeviatingly, to repress without
irritating and encourage without emboldening, what wonder that
the peach-bloom loses its delicacy, deepening into rouge or
hardening into brass, and the happy young life is stranded on
a cruel shore?

Hence it follows that our social gatherings consist, to so
lamentable an extent, of pert youngsters, or faded oldsters.
Thence come those abominable "young people's parties," where
a score or two or three of boys and girls meet and manage after
their own hearts. Thence it happens that conversation seems
to be taking its place among the Lost Arts, and the smallest
of small talk reigns in its stead. Society, instead of giving
its tone to the children, takes it from them, and since it
cannot be juvenile, becomes insipid, and because it is too old
to prattle, jabbers. Talkers are everywhere, but where are the
men that say things? Where are the people that can be listened
to and quoted? Where are the flinty people whose contact
strikes fire? Where are the electric people who thrill a whole
circle with sudden vitality? Where are the strong people who
hedge themselves around with their individuality, and will be
roused by no prince's kiss, but taken only by storm, yet once
captured, are sweeter than the dews of Hymettus? Where are the
seers, the prophets, the Magi, who shall unfold for us the
secrets of the sky and the seas, and the mystery of human hearts?

Yet fathers and mothers not only acquiesce in this state of
things, they approve of it. They foster it. They are forward
to annihilate themselves. They are careful to let their
darlings go out alone, lest they be a restraint upon them,--as
if that were not what parents were made for. If they were what
they ought to be, the restraint would be not only wholesome,
but impalpable. The relation between parents and children
should be such that pleasure shall not be quite perfect, unless
shared by both. Parents ought to take such a tender, proud,
intellectual interest in the pursuits and amusements of their
children that the children shall feel the glory of the victory
dimmed, unless their parents are there to witness it. If the
presence of a sensible mother is felt as a restraint, it shows
conclusively that restraint is needed.

A woman also needs self-cultivation, both physical and mental,
in order to self-respect. Undoubtedly Diogenes glorified
himself in his tub. But people in general, and women in
universal,--except the geniuses,--need the pomp of circumstance.
A slouchy garb is both effect and cause of a slouchy mind. A
woman who lets go her hold upon dress, literature, music,
amusement, will almost inevitably slide down into a bog of
muggy moral indolence. She will lose her spirit, and when the
spirit is gone out of a woman, there not much left of her.
When she cheapens herself, she diminishes her value. Especially
when the evanescent charms of mere youth are gone, when the
responsibilities of life have left their mark upon her, is it
indispensable that she attend to all the fitnesses of externals,
and strengthen and polish all her mental and social qualities.
By this I do not mean that women should allow themselves to lose
their beauty as they increase in years. Men grow handsomer as
they grow older. There is no reason, there ought to be no reason,
why women should not. They will have a different kind of beauty,
but it will be just as truly beauty and more impressive and
attractive than the beauty of sixteen. It is absurd to suppose
that God has made women so that their glory passes away in half
a dozen years. It is absurd to suppose that thought and feeling
and passion and purpose, all holy instincts and impulses, can
chisel away on a woman's face for thirty, forty, fifty years, and
leave that face at the end worse than they found it. They found
it a negative,--mere skin and bone, blood and muscle and fat.
They can but leave their mark upon it, and the mark of good is
good. Pity does not have the same finger-touch as revenge.
Love does not hold the same brush as hatred. Sympathy and
gratitude and benevolence have a different sign-manual from
cruelty and carelessness and deceit. All these busy little
sprites draw their fine lines, lay on their fine colors; the
face lights up under their tiny hands; the prisoned soul shines
clearer and clearer through, and there is the consecration and
the poet's dream.

But such beauty is made, not born. Care and despondency come
of themselves, and groove their own furrows. Hope and
intelligence and interest and buoyancy must be wooed for their
gentle and genial touch. A mother must battle against the
tendencies that drag her downward. She must take pains to
grow, or she will not grow. She must sedulously cultivate her
mind and heart, or her old age will be ungraceful; and if she
lose freshness without acquiring ripeness, she is indeed in an
evil case. The first, the most important trust which God has
given to any one is himself. To secure this trust, He has made
us so that in no possible way can we benefit the world so much
as by making the most of ourselves. Indulging our whims, or,
inordinately, our just tastes, is not developing ourselves; but
neither is leaving our own fields to grow thorns and thistles,
that we may plant somebody else's garden-plot, keeping our
charge. Even were it possible for a mother to work well to
her children in thus working ill to herself, I do not think
she would be justified in doing it. Her account is not
complete when she says, "Here are they whom thou hast given
me." She must first say, "Here am I." But when it is seen
that suicide is also child-murder, it must appear that she is
under doubly heavy bonds for herself.

Husbands, moreover, have claims, though wives often ignore
them. It is the commonest thing in the world to see parents
tender of their children's feelings, alive to their wants,
indulgent to their tastes, kind, considerate, and forbearing;
but to each other hasty, careless, and cold. Conjugal love
often seems to die out before parental love. It ought not so
to be. Husband and wife should each stand first in the other's
estimation. They have no right to forget each other's comfort,
convenience, sensitiveness, tastes, or happiness, in those of
their children. Nothing can discharge them from the
obligations which they are under to each other. But if a woman
lets herself become shabby, drudgy, and commonplace as a wife,
in her efforts to be perfect as a mother, can she expect to
retain the consideration that is due to the wife? Not a man
in the world but would rather see his wife tidy, neat, and
elegant in her attire, easy and assured in her bearing,
intelligent and vivacious in her talk, than the contrary; and
if she neglect these things, ought she to be surprised if he
turns to fresh woods and pastures new for the diversion and
entertainment which he seeks in vain at home? This is quaky
ground, but I know where I am, and I am not afraid. I don't
expect men or women to say that they agree with me, but I am
right for all that. Let us bring our common sense to bear on
this point, and not be fooled by reiteration. Cause and effect
obtain here as elsewhere. If you add two and two, the result
is four, however much you may try to blink it. People do not
always tell lies, when they are telling what is not the truth;
but falsehood is still disastrous. Men and women think they
believe a thousand which they do not believe; but as long as
they think so, it is just as bad as if it were so. Men talk--
and women listen and echo--about the overpowering loveliness
and charm of a young mother surrounded by her blooming family,
ministering to their wants and absorbed in their welfare, self-
denying and self-forgetful; and she is lovely and charming; but
if this is all, it is little more than the charm and loveliness
of a picture. It is not magnetic and irresistible. It has the
semblance, but not the smell of life. It is pretty to look at,
but it is not vigorous for command. Her husband will have a
certain kind of admiration and love. Her wish will be law
within a certain very limited sphere; but beyond that he will
not take her into his counsels and confidence. A woman must
make herself obvious to her husband, or he will drift out
beyond her horizon. She will be to him very nearly what she
wills and works to be. If she adapts herself to her children,
and does not adapt herself to her husband, he will fall into
the arrangement, and the two will fall apart. I do not mean
that they quarrel, but they will lead separate lives. They
will be no longer husband and wife. There will be a domestic
alliance, but no marriage. A predominant interest in the same
objects binds them together after a fashion; but marriage is
something beyond that. If a woman wishes and purposes to be
the friend of her husband,--if she would be valuable to him,
not simply as the nurse of his children and the directress of
his household, but as a woman fresh and fair and fascinating,--
to him intrinsically lovely and attractive,--she should make
an effort for it. It is not by any means a thing that comes
of itself, or that can be left to itself. She must read, and
observe, and think, and rest up to it. Men, as a general
thing, will not tell you so. They talk about having the
slippers ready, and enjoin women to be domestic. But men are
blockheads,--dear, and affectionate, and generous blockheads,--
benevolent, large-hearted, and chivalrous,--kind, and patient,
and hard-working,--but stupid where women are concerned.
Indispensable and delightful as they are in real life,--
pleasant and comfortable as women actually find them,--not one
in ten thousand but makes a dunce of himself the moment he
opens his mouth to theorize about women. Besides, they have
"an axe to grind." The pretty things they inculcate--slippers,
and coffee, and care, and courtesy--ought indeed to be done,
but the others ought not to be left undone. And to the former
women seldom need to be exhorted. They take to them naturally.
A great many more women fret boorish husbands with fond little
attentions than wound appreciative ones by neglect. Women
domesticate themselves to death already. What they want is
cultivation. They need to be stimulated to develop a large,
comprehensive, catholic life, in which their domestic duties
shall have an appropriate niche, and not dwindle down to a
narrow and servile one, over which those duties shall spread
and occupy the whole space.

This mistake is the foundation of a world of wretchedness and
ruin. I can see Satan standing at the mother's elbow. He
follows her around into the nursery and the kitchen. He tosses
up the babies and the omelets, delivers dutiful harangues about
the inappropriateness of the piano and the library, and grins
fiendishly in his sleeve at the wreck he is making,--a wreck
not necessarily of character, but of happiness; for I suppose
Satan has so bad a disposition, that, if he cannot do all the
harm he would wish, he will still do all he can. It is true
that there are thousands of good men married to fond and
foolish women, and they are happy. Well, the fond and foolish
women are very fortunate. They have fallen into hands that
will entreat them tenderly, and they will not perceive any
lack. Nor are the noble men wholly unfortunate, in that they
have not taken to their hearts shrews. But this is not

There are women less foolish. They see their husbands
attracted in other directions more often and more easily than
in theirs. They have too much sterling worth and profound
faith to be vulgarly jealous. They fear nothing like shame or
crime; but they feel the fact that their own preoccupation with
homely household duties precludes real companionship, the
interchange of emotions, thoughts, sentiments,--a living, and
palpable, and vivid contact of mind with mind, of heart with
heart. They see others whose leisure ministers to grace,
accomplishments, piquancy, and attractiveness, and the moth
flies towards the light by his own nature. Because he is a
wise, and virtuous, and honorable moth, he does not dart into
the flame. He does not even scorch his wings. He never thinks
of such a thing. He merely circles around the pleasant light,
sunning himself in it without much thought one way or another,
only feeling that it is pleasant; but meanwhile Mrs. Moth sits
at home in darkness, mending the children's clothes, which is
not exhilarating. Many a woman who feels that she possesses
her husband's affection misses something. She does not secure
his fervor, his admiration. His love is honest and solid, but
a little dormant, and therefore dull. It does not brace, and
tone, and stimulate. She wants not the love only, but the
keenness, and edge, and flavor of the love; and she suffers
untold pangs. I know it, for I have seen it. It is not a
thing to be uttered. Most women do not admit it even to
themselves; but it is revealed by a lift of the eyelash, by a
quiver of the eye, by a tone of the voice, by a trick of the

But what is the good of saying all this, if a woman cannot help
herself? The children must be seen to, and the work must be
done, and after that she has no time left. The "mother of a
young and increasing family," with her "pale, thin face and
feeble step," and her "multiplied and wearying cares," is
"completely worn down with so many children." She has neither
time nor for self-culture, beyond what she may obtain in the
nursery. What satisfaction is there in proving that she is far
below where she ought to be, if inexorable circumstance prevent
her from climbing higher? What use is there in telling her
that she will alienate her husband and injure her children by
her course, when there is no other course for her to pursue?
What can she do about it?

There is one thing that she need not do. She need not sit down
and write a book, affirming that the most glorious and
desirable condition imaginable. She need not lift up her voice
and declare that "she lives above the ills and disquietudes of
her condition, in an atmosphere of love and peace and pleasure
far beyond the storms and conflicts of this material life."
Who ever heard of the mother of a young and increasing family
living in an atmosphere of peace, not to say pleasure, above
conflicts and storms? Who does not know that the private
history of families with the ordinary allowance of brains is
a record of recurring internecine warfare? If she said less,
we might believe her. When she says so much, we cannot help
suspecting. To make the best of any thing, it is not necessary
to declare that it is the best thing. Children must be taken
care of; but it is altogether probable that there are too many
of them. Some people think that opinion several times more
atrocious than murder in the first degree; but I see no
atrocity in it. I think there is an immense quantity of
nonsense about, regarding this thing. I believe in Malthus,--
a great deal more than Malthus did himself. The prosperity
of a country is often measured by its population; but quite
likely it should be taken in inverse ratio. I certainly do
not see why the mere multiplication of the species is so
indicative of prosperity. Mobs are not so altogether lovely
that one should desire their indefinite increase. A village is
honorable, not according to the number, but the character of
its residents. The drunkards and the paupers and the thieves
and the idiots rather diminish than increase its respectability.
It seems to me that the world would be greatly benefited by
thinning out. Most of the places that I have seen would be much
unproved by being decimated, not to say quinqueted or bisected.
If people are stubborn and rebellious, stiff-necked and
uncircumcised in heart and ears, the fewer of them the better.
A small population, trained to honor and virtue, to liberality of
culture and breadth of view, to self-reliance and self-respect,
is a thousand times better than an over-crowded one with
everything at loose ends. As with the village, so with the
family. There ought to be no more children than can be healthily
and thoroughly reared, as regards the moral, physical, and
intellectual nature both of themselves and their parents. All
beyond this is wrong and disastrous. I know of no greater crime
than to give life to souls, and then degrade them, or suffer them
to be degraded. Children are the poor man's blessing and Cornelia's
jewels, just so long as Cornelia and the poor man can make adequate
provision for them. But the ragged, filthy, squalid, unearthly
little wretches that wallow before the poor man's shanty-door
are the poor man's shame and curse. The sickly, sallow,
sorrowful little ones, shadowed too early by life's cares, are
something other than a blessing. When Cornelia finds children
too many for her, when her step trembles and her cheek fades,
when the sparkle dies on her chalice-brim and her salt has lost
its savor, her jewels are Tarpeian jewels. One child educated
by healthy and happy parents is better than seven dragging
their mother into the grave, notwithstanding the unmeasured
reprobation of our little book. Of course, if they can stand
seven, very well. Seven and seventy times seven, if you like,
only let them be buds, not blights. If we obeyed the laws of
God, children would be like spring blossoms. They would impart
as much freshness and strength as they abstract. They are a
natural institution, and Nature is eminently healthy. But when
they "come crowding into the home-nest," as our book daintily
says, they are unnatural. God never meant the home-nest to be
crowded. There is room enough and elbow-room enough in the
world for everything that ought to be in it. The moment there
is crowding, you may be sure something wrong is going on.
Either a bad thing is happening, or too much of a good thing,
which counts up just the same. The parents begin to repair the
evil by a greater one. They attempt to patch their own rents
by dilapidating their children. They recruit their own
exhausted energies by laying hold of the young energies around
them, and older children are wearied, and fretted, and deformed
in figure and temper by the care of younger children. This is
horrible. Some care and task and responsibility are good for
a child's own development; but care and toil and labor laid
upon children beyond what is best for their own character is
intolerable and inexcusable oppression. Parents have no right
to lighten their own burdens by imposing them upon the
children. The poor things had nothing to do with being born.
They came into the world without any volition of their own.
Their existence began only to serve the pleasure or the pride
of others. It was a culpable cruelty, in the first place, to
introduce them into a sphere where no adequate provision could
be made for their comfort and culture; but to shoulder them,
after they get here, with the load which belongs to their
parents is outrageous. Earth is not a paradise at best, and
at worst it is very near the other place. The least we can do
is to make the way as smooth as possible for the new-comers.
There is not the least danger that it will be too smooth. If
you stagger under the weight which you have imprudently
assumed, stagger. But don't be such an unutterable coward as
to illumine your own life by darkening the young lives which
sprang from yours. I wonder that children do not open their
mouths and curse the father that begat and the mother that bore
them. I often wonder that parents do not tremble lest the cry
of the children whom they oppress go up into the ears of the
Lord of Sabaoth, and bring down wrath upon their guilty heads.
It was well that God planted filial affection and reverence as
an instinct in the human breast. If it depended upon reason
it would have but a precarious existence.

I wish women would have the sense and courage,--I will not say,
to say what they think, for that is not always desirable,--but
to think according to the facts. They have a strong desire to
please men, which is quite right and natural; but in their
eagerness to do this, they sometimes forget what is due to
themselves. To think namby-pambyism for the sake of pleasing
men is running benevolence into the ground. Not that women
consciously do this, but they do it. They don't mean to pander
to false masculine notions, but they do. They don't know that
they are pandering to them, but they are. Men say silly
things, partly because they don't know any better, and partly
because they don't want any better. They are strong, and can
generally make shift to bear their end of the pole without
being crushed. So they are tolerably content. They are not
very much to blame. People cannot be expected to start on a
crusade against ills of which they have but a vague and cloudy
conception. The edge does not cut them, and so they think it
is not much of a sword after all. But women have, or ought to
have, a more subtle and intimate acquaintance with realities.
They ought to know what is fact and what is fol-de-rol. They
ought to distinguish between the really noble and the simply
physical, not to say faulty. If men do not, it is women's duty
to help them. I think, if women would only not be quite so
afraid of being thought unwomanly, they would be a great deal
more womanly than they are. To be brave, and single-minded,
and discriminating, and judicious, and clear-sighted, and self-
reliant, and decisive, that is pure womanly. To be womanish
is not to be womanly. To be flabby, and plastic, and weak, and
acquiescent, and insipid, is not womanly. And I could wish
sometimes that women would not be quite so patient. They often
exhibit a degree of long-suffering entirely unwarrantable.
There is no use in suffering, unless you cannot help it; and
a good, stout, resolute protest would often be a great deal
more wise, and Christian, and beneficial on all sides, than so
much patient endurance. A little spirit and "spunk" would go
a great way towards setting the world right. It is not
necessary to be a termagant. The firmest will and the stoutest
heart may be combined with the gentlest delicacy. Tameness is
not the stuff that the finest women are made of. Nobody can
be more kind, considerate, or sympathizing towards weakness or
weariness than men, if they only know it exists; and it is a
wrong to them to go on bolstering them up in their bungling
opinions, when a few sensible ideas, wisely administered, would
do so much to enlighten them, and reveal the path which needs
only to be revealed to secure their unhesitating entrance upon
it. It is absurd to suppose that unvarying acquiescence is
necessary to secure and retain their esteem, and that a frank
avowal of differing opinions, even if they were wrong, would
work its forfeiture. A respect held on so frail a tenure were
little worth. But it is not so. I believe that manhood and
womanhood are too truly harmonious to need iron bands, too
truly noble to require the props of falsehood. Truth, simple
and sincere, without partiality and without hypocrisy, is the
best food for both. If any are to be found on either side too
weak to administer or digest it, the remedy is not to mix it
with folly or falsehood, for they are poisons, but to
strengthen the organisms with wholesome tonics,--not undiluted,
perhaps, but certainly unadulterated.

O Edmund Sparkler, you builded better than you knew, when you
reared eulogiums upon the woman with no nonsense about her.


I, who labor under the suspicion of not knowing the difference
between "Old Hundred" and "Old Dan Tucker,"--I, whose every
attempt at music, though only the humming of a simple household
melody, has, from my earliest childhood, been regarded as
premonitory symptom of epilepsy, or, at the very least,
hysterics, to be treated with cold water, the bellows, and an
unmerciful beating between my shoulders,--I, who can but with
much difficulty and many a retrogression make my way among the
olden mazes of tenor, alto, treble, bass, and who stand "clean
daft" in the resounding confusion of andante, soprano,
falsetto, palmetto, pianissimo, akimbo, l'allegro, and il
penseroso,--_I_ was bidden to Camilla's concert, and, like a
sheep to slaughter, I went.

He bears a great loss and sorrow who has "no ear for music."
Into one great garden of delights he may not go. There needs
no flaming sword to bar the way, since for him there is no gate
called Beautiful which he should seek to enter. Blunted and
stolid he stumbles through life for whom its harp-strings
vainly quiver. Yet, on the other hand, what does he not gain?
He loses the concord of sweet sounds, but he is spared the
discord of harsh noises. For the surges of bewildering harmony
and the depths of dissonant disgust, he stands on the levels
of perpetual peace. You are distressed, because in yonder
well-trained orchestra a single voice is pitched one sixteenth
of a note too high. For me, I lean out of my window on summer
nights enraptured over the organ-man who turns poor lost Lilian
Dale round and round with his inexorable crank. It does not
disturb me that his organ wheezes and sputters and grunts.
Indeed, there is for me absolutely no wheeze, no sputter, no
grunt. I only see dark eyes of Italy, her olive face, and her
gemmed and lustrous hair. You mutter maledictions on the
infernal noise and caterwauliug. I hear no caterwauliug, but
the river-god of Arno ripples soft songs in the summertide to
the lilies that bend above him. It is the guitar of the
cantatrice that murmurs through the scented, dewy air,--the
cantatrice with the laurel yet green on her brow, gliding over
the molten moonlit water-ways of Venice, and dreamily chiming
her well-pleased lute with the plash of the oars of the
gondolier. It is the chant of the flower-girl with large eyes
shining under the palm-branches in the market-place of Milan;
and with the distant echoing notes come the sweet breath of her
violets and the unquenchable odors of her crushed geraniums
borne on many a white sail from the glorified Adriatic.
Bronzed cheek and swart brow under my window, I shall by and
by throw you a paltry nickel cent for your tropical dreams;
meanwhile tell me, did the sun of Dante's Florence give your
blood its fierce flow and the tawny hue to your bared and
brawny breast? Is it the rage of Tasso's madness that burns
in your uplifted eyes? Do you take shelter from the fervid
noon under the cypresses of Monte Mario? Will you meet queenly
Marguerite with myrtle wreath and myrtle fragrance, as she
wanders through the chestnut vales? Will you sleep tonight
between the colonnades under the golden moon of Napoli? Go
back, O child of the Midland Sea! Go out from this cold shore,
that yields crabbed harvests for your threefold vintages of
Italy. Go, suck the sunshine from Seville oranges under the
elms of Posilippo. Go, watch the shadows of the vines swaying
in the mulberry-trees from Epomeo's gales. Bind the ivy in a
triple crown above Bianca's comely hair, and pipe not so
wailingly to the Vikings of this frigid Norseland.

But Italy, remember, my frigid Norseland has a heart of fire
in her bosom beneath its overlying snows, before which yours
dies like the white sick hearth-flame before the noonday sun.
Passion, but not compassion, is here "cooled a long age in the
deep-delved earth." We lure our choristers with honeyed words
and gentle ways: you lay your sweetest songsters on the
gridiron. Our orchards ring with the full-throated happiness
of a thousand birds: your pomegranate groves are silent, and
your miserable cannibal kitchens would tell the reason why, if
outraged spits could speak. Go away, therefore, from my
window, Giuseppo; the air is growing damp and chilly, and I do
not sleep in the shadows of broken temples.

Yet I love music; not as you love it, my friend, with
intelligence, discrimination, and delicacy, but in a dull,
woodeny way, as the "gouty oaks" loved it, when they felt in
their fibrous frames the stir of Amphion's lyre, and
"floundered into hornpipes"; as the gray, stupid rocks loved
it, when they came rolling heavily to his feet to listen; in
a great, coarse, clumsy, ichthyosaurian way, as the rivers
loved sad Orpheus's wailing tones, stopping in their mighty
courses, and the thick-hided hippopotamus dragged himself up
from the unheeded pause of the waves, dimly thrilled with a
vague ecstasy. The confession is sad, yet only in such beastly
fashion come sweetest voices to me,--not in the fulness of all
their vibrations, but sounding dimly through many an earthly
layer. Music I do not so much hear as feel. All the exquisite
nerves that bear to your soul these tidings of heaven in me lie
torpid or dead. No beatitude travels to my heart over that
road. But as sometimes an invalid, unable through mortal
sickness to swallow his needed nutriment, is yet kept alive
many days by immersed in a bath of wine and milk, which
somehow, through unwonted courses, penetrates to the sources
of vitality,--so I, though the natural avenues of sweet sounds
have been hermetically sealed, do yet receive the fine flow of
the musical ether. I feel the flood of harmony pouring around
me. An inward, palpable, measured tremulousness of the subtile
secret essence of life attests the presence of some sweet
disturbing cause, and, borne on unseen wings, I mount to
loftier heights and diviner airs.

So I was comforted for my waxed ears and Camilla's concert.

There is one other advantage in being possessed with a
deaf-and-dumb devil, which, now that I am on the subject of
compensation, I may as well mention. You are left out of the
arena of fierce discussion and debate. You do not enter upon
the lists wherefrom you would be sure to come off discomfited.
Of all reputations, a musical reputation seems the most
shifting and uncertain; and of all rivalries, musical rivalries
are the most prolific of heart-burnings and discomfort. Now,
if I should sing or play, I should wish to sing and play well.
But what is well? Nancie in the village "singing-seats" stands
head and shoulders above the rest, and wears her honors
tranquilly, an authority at all rehearsals and serenades. But
Anabella comes up from the town to spend Thanksgiving, and,
without the least mitigation or remorse of voice, absolutely
drowns out poor Nancie, who goes under, giving many signs. Yet
she dies not unavenged, for Harriette sweeps down from the
city, and immediately suspends the victorious Anabella from her
aduncate nose, and carries all before her. Mysterious is the
arrangement of the world. The last round of the ladder is not
yet reached. To Madame Morlot, Harriette is a savage, une
bete, without cultivation. "Oh, the dismal little fright! a
thousand years of study would be useless; go, scour the floors;
she has positively no voice." No voice, Madame Morlot?
Harriette, no voice,--who burst every ear-drum in the room last
night with her howling and hooting, and made the stoutest heart
tremble with fearful forebodings of what might come next? But
Madame Morlot is not infallible, for Herr Driesbach sits
shivering at the dreadful noises which Madame Morlot extorts
from his sensitive and suffering piano, and at the necessity
which lies upon him to go and congratulate her upon her
performance. Ah! if his tortured conscience might but
congratulate her and himself upon its close! And so the scale
ascends. Hills on hills and Alps on Alps arise, and who shall
mount the ultimate peak till all the world shall say, "Here
reigns the Excellence"? I listen with pleasure to untutored
Nancie till Anabella takes all the wind from her sails. I
think the force of music can no further go than Madame Morlot,
and, behold, Herr Driesbach has knocked out that underpinning.
I am bewildered, and I say, helplessly, "What shall I admire
and be a la mode?" But if it is so disheartening to me, who
am only a passive listener, what must be the agonies of the
dramatis personae? "Hang it!" says Charles Lamb, "how I like
to be liked, and what I do to be liked!" And do Nancie,
Harriette, and Herr Driesbach like it any less? What shall
avenge them for their spretae injuria formae? What can repay
the hapless performer, who has performed her very best, for
learning by terrible, indisputable indirections that her
cherished and boasted Cremona is but a very second fiddle?

So, standing on the high ground of certain immunity from
criticism and hostile judgment, I do not so much console myself
as I do not stand in need of consolation. I rather give thanks
for my mute and necessarily unoffending lips, and I shall go
in great good-humor to Camilla's concert.

There are many different ways of going to a concert. You can
be one of a party of fashionable people to whom music is a
diversion, a pastime, an agreeable change from the assembly or
the theatre. They applaud, they condemn, they criticise. They
know all about it. Into such company as this, even I, whose
poor old head is always getting itself wedged in where it has
no business to be, have chanced to be thrown. This is torture.
My cue is to turn into the Irishman's echo, which always
returned for his "How d'ye do?" a "Pretty well, thank you."
I cling to the skirts of that member of the party who is agreed
to have the best taste and echo his responses an octave higher.
If he sighs at the end of a song, I bring out my
pocket-handkerchief. If he says "charming," I murmur
"delicious." If he thinks it "exquisite," I pronounce it
"enchanting." Where he is rapt in admiration, I go into a
trance, and so shamble through the performances, miserable
impostor that I am, and ten to one nobody finds out that I am
a dunce, fit for treason, stratagem, and spoils. It is a great
strain upon the mental powers, but it is wonderful to see how
much may be accomplished, and what skill may be attained, by
long practice.

Also one may go to a concert as a conductor with a single
musical friend. By conductor I do not mean escort, but a
magnetic conductor, rapture conductor, a fit medium through
which to convey away his delight, so that he shall not become
surcharged and explode. He does not take you for your
pleasure, nor for his own, but for use. He desires some one
to whom he can from time to time express his opinions and his
enthusiasm, sure of an attentive listener,--since nothing is
so pleasant as to see one's views welcomed. Now you cannot
pretend that in such a case your listening is thoroughly
honest. You are receptive of theories, criticisms, and
reminiscences; but you would not like to be obliged to pass an
examination on them afterwards. You do, it must be confessed,
sometimes, in the midst of eloquent dissertations, strike out
into little flowery by-paths of your own, quite foreign to the
grand paved-ways along which your friend supposes he is so kind
as to be leading you. But however digressive your mind may
be, do not suffer your eyes to digress. Whatever may be the
intensity of your ennui, endeavor to preserve an animated
expression, and your success is complete. This is all that is
necessary. You will never be called upon for notes or
comments. Your little escapades will never be detected. It
is not your opinions that were sought, nor your education that
was to be furthered. You were only an escape-pipe, and your
mission ceased when the soul of song fled and the gas was
turned off. This, too, is all that can justly be demanded.
Minister, lecturer, singer, no one has any right to ask of his
audience anything more than opportunity,--the externals of
attention. All the rest is his own look-out. If you
prepossess your mind with a theme, you do not give him an even
chance. You must offer him in the beginning a tabula rasa,--a
fair field, and then it is his business to go in and win your
attention; and if he cannot, let him pay the costs, for the
fault is his own.

This also is torture, but its name is Zoar, a little one.

There is yet another way. You may go with one or many who
believe in individuality. They go to the concert for love of
music,--negatively for its rest and refreshment, positively for
its embodied delights. They take you for your enjoyment, which
they permit you to compass after your own fashion. They force
from you no comment. They demand no criticism. They do not
require censure as your certificate of taste. They do not
trouble themselves with your demeanor. If you choose to talk
in the pauses, they are receptive and cordial. If you choose
to be silent, it is just as well. If you go to sleep, they
will not mind,--unless, under the spell of the genius of the
place, your sleep becomes vocal, and you involuntarily join the
concert in the undesirable role of De Trop. If you go into
raptures, it is all the same; you are not watched and made a
note of. They leave you at the top of your bent. Whether you
shall be amused, delighted, or disgusted, they respect your
decisions and allow you to remain free.

How did I go to my concert? Can I tell for the eyes that made
"a sunshine in the shady place"? Was I not veiled with the
beautiful hair, and blinded with the lily's white splendor?
So went I with the Fairy Queen in her golden coach drawn by six
white mice, and, behold, I was in Camilla's concert-room.

It is to be a fiddle affair. Now I am free to say, if there
is anything I hate, it is a fiddle. Hide it away under as many
Italian coatings as you choose, viol, violin, viola, violone,
violoncello, violncellettissimo, at bottom it is all one, a
fiddle; in its best estate, a whirligig, without dignity,
sentiment, or power; and at worst a rubbing, rasping,
squeaking, woollen, noisy nuisance that it sets teeth on edge
to think of. I shudder at the mere memory of the reluctant bow
dragging its slow length across the whining strings. And here
I am, in my sober senses, come to hear a fiddle!

But it is Camilla's. Do you remember a little girl who, a few
years ago, became famous for her wonderful performance on the
violin? At six years of age she went to a great concert, and
of all the fine instruments there, the unseen spirit within her
made choice, "Papa, I should like to learn the violin." So she
learned it and loved it, and when ten years old delighted
foreign and American audiences with her marvelous genius. It
was the little Camilla who now, after ten years of silence,
tuned her beloved instrument once more.

As she walks softly and quietly in, I am conscious of a
disappointment. I had unwittingly framed for her an aesthetic
violin, with the essential strings and bridge and bow indeed,
but submerged and forgot in such Orient splendors as befit her
glorious genius. Barbaric pearl and gold, finest carved work,
flashing gems from Indian watercourses, the delicatest pink
sea-shell, a bubble-prism caught and crystallized,--of all rare
and curious substances wrought with dainty device, fantastic
as a dream, and resplendent as the light, should her instrument
be fashioned. Only in "something rich and strange" should the
mystic soul lie sleeping for whom her lips shall break the
spell of slumber, and her young fingers unbar the sacred gates.
And, oh me! it is, after all, the very same old red fiddle!
Dee, dee!

But she neither glides nor trips nor treads, as heroines
invariably do, but walks in like a Christian woman. She steps
upon the stage and faces the audience that gives her hearty
greeting and waits the prelude. There is time for cool survey.
I am angry still about the red fiddle, and I look
scrutinizingly at her dress, and think how ugly is the mode.
The skirt is white silk,--a brocade, I believe,--at any rate,
stiff, and, though probably full to overflowing in the hands
of the seamstress, who must compress it within prescribed
limits about the waist, looks scanty and straight. Why should
she not, she who comes before us tonight, not as a fashion, but
an inspiration,--why should she not assume that immortal
classic drapery whose graceful falls and folds the sculptor
vainly tries to imitate, the painter vainly seeks to limn?
When Corinne tuned her lyre at the Capitol, when she knelt to
be crowned with her laurel crown at the hands of a Roman
senator, is it possible to conceive her swollen out with
crinoline? And yet I remember, that, though sa roe etait
blanche, et son costume etait tres pittoresque, it was sans s'e
carter cependant assez des usages recus pour que l'on put y
trouver de l'affectation; and I suppose, if one should now
suddenly collapse from conventional rotundity to antique
statuesqueness, the great "on" would very readily "y trouver
de l'affectation." Nevertheless, though one must dress in Rome
as Romans do, and though the Roman way of dressing is, taking
all things into the account, as good as any, and if not more
graceful, a thousand times more convenient, wholesome,
comfortable, and manageable that Helen's, still it does seem
that, when one steps out of the ordinary area of Roman life and
assumes an abnormal position, one might, without violence,
assume temporarily an abnormal dress, and refresh our dilated
eyes once more with flowing, wavy outlines. Music is one of
the eternities: why should not its accessories be? Why should
a discord disturb the eye, when only concords delight the ear?

But I lift my eyes from Camilla's unpliant drapery to the red
red rose in her hair, and thence, naturally, to her silent
face, and in that instant ugly dress and red red rose fade out
of my sight. What is it that I see, with tearful tenderness
and a nameless pain at the heart? A young face deepened and
drawn with suffering; dark, large eyes, whose natural laughing
light has been quenched in tears, yet shining still with a
distant gleam caught from the eternal fires. O still,
pathetic face! A sterner form than Time has passed and left
his vestige there. Happy little girl, playing among the
flickering shadows of the Rhine-land, who could not foresee the
darker shadows that should settle and never lift nor flicker
from her heavy heart? Large, lambent eyes, that might have
been sweet, but now are only steadfast,--that may yet be sweet,
when they look tonight into a baby's cradle, but gazing now
upon a waiting audience, are only steadfast. Ah! so it is.
Life has such hard conditions, that every dear and precious
gift, every rare virtue, every pleasant facility, every genial
endowment, love, hope, joy, wit, sprightliness, benevolence,
must sometimes be cast into the crucible to distil the one
elixir, patience. Large, lambent eyes, in which days and
nights of tears are petrified, steadfast eyes that are neither
mournful nor hopeful nor anxious, but with such unvoiced
sadness in their depths that the hot tears well up in my heart,
what do you see in the waiting audience? Not censure, nor
pity, nor forgiveness for you do not need them,--but surely a
warm human sympathy, since heart can speak to heart, though the
thin, fixed lips have sealed their secret well. Sad mother,
whose rose of life was crushed before it had budded, tender
young lips that had drunk the cup of sorrow to the dregs, while
their cup of bliss should hardly yet be brimmed for life's
sweet springtime, your crumbling fanes and broken arches and
prostrate columns lie not among the ruins of Time. Be
comforted of that. They witness of a more pitiless Destroyer,
and by this token I know there shall dawn a brighter day. The
God of the fatherless and the widow, of the worse than widowed
and fatherless, the Avenger of the Slaughter of the Innocents,
be with you, and shield and shelter and bless!

But the overture wavers to its close, and her soul hears far
off the voice of the coming Spirit. A deeper light shines in
the strangely introverted eyes,--the look as of one listening
intently to a distant melody which no one else can hear,--the
look of one to whom the room and the people and the presence
are but a dream, and past and future centre on the far-off
song. Slowly she raises her instrument. I almost shudder to
see the tawny wood touching her white shoulder; yet that cannot
be common or unclean which she so loves and carries with almost
a caress. Still intent, she raises the bow with a slow sweep,
as were a wand of divination. Nearer and nearer comes the
heavenly voice, pouring around her a flood of mystic melody.
And now at last it breaks upon our ears,--softly at first, only
a sweet faint echo from that other sphere, but deepening,
strengthening, conquering,--now rising on the swells of a
controlling passion, now sinking into the depths with its low
wail of pain; exultant, scornful, furious, in the glad outburst
of opening joy and the fierce onslaught of strength; crowned,
sceptred, glorious in garland and singing-robes, throned in the
high realms of its inheritance, a kingdom of boundless scope
and ever new delights: then sweeping down through the lower
world with diminishing rapture, rapture lessening into
astonishment, astonishment dying into despair, it gathers up
the passion and the pain, the blight and woe and agony; all
garnered joys are scattered. Evil supplants the good. Hope
dies, love pales, and faith is faint and wan. But every death
has its moaning ghost, pale spectre of vanished loves. Oh,
fearful revenge of the outraged soul! The mysterious,
uncomprehended, incomprehensible soul! The irrepressible,
unquenchable, immortal soul, whose every mark is everlasting!
Every secret sin committed against it cries out from the
house-tops. Cunning may strive to conceal, will may determine
to smother, love may fondly whisper, "It does not hurt"; but
the soul will not BE outraged. Somewhere, somehow, when and
where you least expect, unconscious, perhaps, to its owner,
unrecognized by the many, visible only to the clear vision,
somewhere, somehow, the soul bursts asunder its bonds. It is
but a little song, a tripping of the fingers over the keys, a
drawing of the bow across the strings,--only that! Only that?
It is the protest of the wronged and ignored soul. It is the
outburst of the pent and prisoned soul. All the ache and
agony, all the secret wrong and silent endurance, all the
rejected love and wounded trust and slighted truth, all the
riches wasted, all the youth poisoned, all the hope trampled,
all the light darkened,--all meet and mingle in a mad whirl of
waters. They surge and lash and rage, a wild storm of harmony.
Barriers are broken. Circumstance is not. The soul! the soul!
the soul! the wronged and fettered soul! the freed and royal
soul! It alone is king. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and
be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory
shall come in! Tremble, O Tyrant, in your mountain-fastness!
Tremble, Deceiver, in your cavern under the sea! Your victim
is your accuser. Your sin has found you out. Your crime cries
to Heaven. You have condemned and killed the just. You have
murdered the innocent in secret places, and in the noonday sun
the voice of their blood crieth unto God from the ground.
There is no speech nor language. There is no will nor design.
The seal of silence is unbroken. But unconscious, entranced,
inspired, the god has lashed his Sybil on. The vital instinct
of the soul, its heaven-born, up-springing life, flings back
the silver veil, and reveals the hidden things to him who hath
eyes to see.

The storm sobs and soothes itself to silence. There is a hush,
and then an enthusiasm of delight. The small head slightly
bows, the still face scarcely smiles, the slight form
disappears,--and after all, it was only a fiddle.

"When Music, heavenly maid, was young," begins the ode; but
Music, heavenly maid, seems to me still so young, so very
young, as scarcely to have made her power felt. Her language
is yet unlearned. When a baby of a month is hungry or in pain,
he contrives to make the fact understood. If he is at peace
with himself and his surroundings, he leaves no doubt on the
subject. To precisely this degree of intelligibility has the
Heavenly Maid attained among us. When Beethoven sat down to
the composition of one of his grand harmonies, there was
undoubtedly in his mind as distinct a conception of that which
he wished to express, of that within him which clamored for
expression, as ever rises before a painter's eye, or sings in
a poet's brain. Thought, emotion, passion, hope, fear, joy,
sorrow, each had its life and law. The painter paints you
this. This the poet sings you. You stand before a picture,
and to your loving, searching gaze its truths unfold. You read
the poem with the understanding, and catch its concealed
meanings. But what do you know of what was in Beethoven's
soul? Who grasps his conception? Who faithfully renders, who
even thoroughly knows his idea? Here and there to some patient
night-watcher the lofty gates are unbarred, "on golden hinges
turning." But, for the greater part, the musician who would
tell so much speaks to unheeding ears. We comprehend him but
infinitesimally. It is the Battle of Prague. Adrianus sits
down to the piano, and Dion stands by his side, music-sheet in
hand, acting as showman. "The cannon," says Dion, at the
proper place, and you imagine you recognize reverberation.
"Charge," continues Dion, and with a violent effort you fancy
the ground trembles. "Groans of the wounded," and you are
partly horror-struck and partly incredulous. But what lame
representation is this! As if one should tie a paper around
the ankle of the Belvedere Apollo, with the inscription, "This
is the ankle." A collar declares, "This is the neck." A
bandeau locates his "forehead." A bracelet indicates the
"arm." Is the sculpture thus significant? Hardly more does
our music yet signify to us. You hear an unfamiliar air. You
like it or dislike it, or are indifferent. You can tell that
it is slow and plaintive, or brisk and lively, or perhaps even
that it is defiant or stirring; but how insensible you are to
the delicate shades of its meaning! How hidden is the song in
the heart of the composer till he gives you the key! You hear
as though you heard not. You hear the thunder, and the
cataract, and the crash of the avalanche; but the song of the
nightingale, the chirp of the katydid, the murmur of the
waterfall never reach you. This cannot be the ultimatum.
Music must hold in its own bosom its own interpretation, and
man must have in his its corresponding susceptibilities. Music
is language, and language implies a people who employ and
understand it. But music, even by its professor, is as yet
faintly understood. Its meanings go on crutches. They must
be helped out by words. What does this piece say to you?
Interpret it. You cannot. You must be taught much before you
can know all. It must be translated from music into speech
before you can entirely assimilate it. Musicians do not trust
alone to notes for moods. Their light shines only through a
glass darkly. But in some other sphere, in some happier time,
in a world where gross wants shall have disappeared, and
therefore the grossness of words shall be no longer necessary,
where hunger and thirst and cold and care and passion have no
more admittance, and only love and faith and hope and
admiration and aspiration, shall crave utterance, in that
blessed unseen world shall not music be the everyday speech,
conveying meaning not only with a sweetness, but with an
accuracy, delicacy, and distinctness, of which we have now but
a faint conception? Here words are not only rough, but
ambiguous. There harmonies shall be minutely intelligible.
Speak with what directness we can, be as explanatory, emphatic,
illustrative as we may, there are mistakes, misunderstandings,
many and grievous, and consequent missteps and catastrophes.
But in that other world language shall be exactly coexistent
with life; music shall be precisely adequate to meaning. There
shall be no hidden corners, no bungling incompatibilities, but

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