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Gala-Days by Gail Hamilton

Part 5 out of 6

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the searching sound penetrates into the secret sources of the
soul, all-pervading. Not a nook, not a crevice, no maze so
intricate, but the sound floats in to gather up fragrant aroma,
to bear it yonder to another waiting soul, and deposit it as
deftly by unerring magnetisms in the corresponding clefts.

Toot away, then, fifer-fellow! Turn your slow crank,
inexorable Italian! Thrum your thrums, Miss Laura, for Signor
Bernadotti! You are a way off, but your footprints point the
right way. With many a yawn and sigh subjective, I greatly
fear me, many a malediction objective, you are "learning the
language of another world." To us, huddled together in our
little ant-hill, one is "une bete," and one is "mon ange"; but
from that fixed star we are all so far to have no parallax.

But I come down from the golden stars, for the white-robed one
has raised her wand again, and we float away through the
glowing gates of the sunrise, over the purple waves, over the
vine-lands of sunny France, in among the shadows of the storied
Pyrenees. Sorrow and sighing have fled away. Tragedy no
longer "in sceptred pall comes sweeping by"; but young lambs
leap in wild frolic, silken-fleeced sheep lie on the slopes of
the hills, and shepherd calls to shepherd from his
mountain-peak. Peaceful hamlets lie far down the valley, and
every gentle height blooms with a happy home. Dark-eyed Basque
girls dance through the fruitful orchards. I see the gleam of
their scarlet scarfs wound in with their bold black hair. I
hear their rich voices trilling the lays of their land, and
ringing with happy laughter. But I mount higher and yet
higher, till gleam and voice are lost. Here the freshening air
sweeps down, and the low gurgle of living water purling out
from cool, dark chasms, mingles with the shepherd's flute.
Here the young shepherd himself climbs, leaping from rock to
rock, supple, strong, brave, and free as the soul of his race,-
-the same iron in his sinews, and the same fire in his blood
that dealt the "dolorous rout" to Charlemagne a thousand years
ago. Sweetly across the path of Roncesvalles blow the evening
gales, wafting tender messages to the listening girls below.
Green grows the grass and gay the flowers that spring from the
blood of princely paladins, the flower of chivalry. No
bugle-blast can bring old Roland back, though it wind long and
loud through the echoing woods. Lads and lasses, worthy scions
of valiant stems, may sit on happy evenings in the shadow of
the vines, or group themselves on the greensward in the pauses
of the dance, and sing their songs of battle and victory,--the
olden legends of their heroic sires; but the strain that floats
down from e darkening slopes into their heart of hearts, the
song that reddens in their glowing cheeks, and throbs in their
throbbing breasts, and shines in their dewy eyes, is not the
shock of deadly onset, glorious though it be. It is the sweet
old song,--old, yet ever new,--whose burden is,

Come live with me and be my love,"--

old, yet always new,--sweet and tender, and not to be gainsaid,
whether it be piped to a shepherdess in Arcadia, or whether a
princess hears it from princely lips in her palace on the sea.

But the mountain shadows stretch down the valleys and wrap the
meadows in twilight. Farther and farther the notes recede as
the flutesman gathers his quiet flock along the winding paths.
Smooth and far in the tranquil evening-air fall the receding
notes, a clear, silvery sweetness; farther and farther in the
hushed evening air, lessening and lowering, as you bend to
listen, till the vanishing strain just cleaves, a single thread
of pearl-pure melody, finer, finer, finer, through the dewy
twilight, and--you hear only your own heart-beats. It is not
dead, but risen. It never ceased. It knew no pause. It has
gone up the heights to mingle with the songs of the angels.
You rouse yourself with a start, and gaze at your neighbor half
bewildered. What is it? Where are we? Oh, my remorseful
heart! There is no shepherd, no mountain, no girl with scarlet
ribbon and black braids bound on her beautiful temples. It was
only a fiddle on a platform!

Now you need not tell me that. I know better. I have lived
among fiddles all my life,--embryotic, Silurian fiddles,
splintered from cornstalks, that blessed me in the golden
afternoons of green summers waving in the sunshine of long
ago,--sympathetic fiddles that did me yeomen's service once,
when I fell off a bag of corn up garret and broke my head, and
the frightened fiddles, not knowing what else to do, came and
fiddled to me lying on the settee, with such boundless,
extravagant flourish that nobody heard the doctor's gig rolling
by, and so sinciput and occiput were left overnight to compose
their own quarrels, whereby I was naturally all right before
the doctor had a chance at me, suffering only the slight
disadvantage of going broken-headed through life. What I might
have been with a whole skull, I don't know; but I will say,
that, good or bad, and even in fragments, my head is the best
part of me.

Yes, I think I may dare affirm that whatever there is to know
about a fiddle I know, and I can give my affidavit that it is
no fiddle that takes you up on its broad wings, outstripping
the "wondrous horse of brass," which required

"the space of a day natural,
This is to sayn, four and twenty houres,
Wher so you list, in drought or elles showres,
To beren your body into every place
To which your herte willeth for to pace,
Withouten wemme of you, thurgh foule or faire,"

since it bears you, "withouten" even so much as your "herte's"
will, in a moment's time, over the and above the stars.

A fiddle, is it? Do not for one moment believe it.--A poet
walked through Southern woods, and the Dryads opened their
hearts to him. They unfolded the secrets that dwell in the
depths of forests. They sang to him under the starlight the
songs of their green, rustling land. They whispered the loves
of the trees sentient to poets:--

"The sayling pine; the cedar, proud and tall;
The vine-propt elme; the poplar, never dry;
The builder oake, sole king of forrests all;
The aspine, good for staves; the cypresse funerall;
The lawrell, meed of mightie conquerours
And poets sage; the firre, that weepeth stille;
The willow, worne of forlorne paramours;
The eugh, obedient to the benders will
The birch, for shaftes; the sallow, for the mill;
The mirrhe, sweete-bleeding in the bitter wounde;
The warlike beech; the ash, for nothing ill;
The fruitful olive; and the platane round;
The carver holme; the maple, seldom inward sound."

They sang to him with their lutes. They danced before him with
sunny, subtile grace, wreathing with strange loveliness. They
brought him honey and wine in the white cups of lilies, till
his brain was drunk with delight; and they kept watch by his
moss pillow, while he slept.

In the dew of the morning, he arose and felled the kindly tree
that had sheltered him, not knowing it was the home of
Arborine, fairest of the wood-nymphs. But he did it not for
cruelty, but tenderness, to carve a memorial of his most
memorable night, and so pulled down no thunders on his head.
For Arborine loved him, and, like her, sister Undine in the
North, found her soul in loving him. Unseen, the beautiful
nymph guided his hand as he fashioned the sounding viol, not
knowing he was fashioning a palace for a soul new-born. He
wrought skilfully strung the intense chords, and smote them
with the sympathetic bow. What burst of music flooded the
still air! What new song trembled among the mermaiden tresses
of the oaks! What new presence quivered in every listening
harebell and every fearful windflower? The forest felt a
change, for tricksy nymph had proved a mortal love, and put off
her fairy phantasms for the deep consciousness of humanity.
The wood heard, bewildered. A shudder as of sorrow thrilled
through it. A breeze that was almost sad swept down the shady
aisles as the Poet passed out into the sunshine and the world.

But Nature knows no pain, though Arborines appear never more.
A balm springs up in every wound. Over the hills, and far away
beyond their utmost purple rim, and deep into the dying days
the happy love-born one followed her love, happy to exchange
her sylvan immortality for the spasm of mortal life,--happy,
in her human self-abnegation, to lie close on his heart and
whisper close in his ear, though he knew only the loving voice
and never the loving lips. Through the world they passed, the
Poet and his mystic viol. It gathered to itself the melodies
that fluttered over sea and land,--songs of the mountains, and
songs of the valleys,--murmurs of love, and the trumpet-tones
of war,--bugle-blast of huntsman on the track of the chamois,
and mother's lullaby to the baby at her breast. All that earth
had of sweetness the nymph drew into her viol-home, and poured
it forth anew in strains of more than mortal harmony. The fire
and fervor of human hearts, the quiet ripple of inland waters,
the anthem of the stormy sea, the voices of the flowers and the
birds, their melody to the song of her who knew them all.

The Poet died. Died, too, sweet Arborine, swooning away in the
fierce grasp of this stranger Sorrow, to enter by the black
gate of death into the full presence and recognition of him by
loving whom she had learned to be.

The viol passed into strange hands, and wandered down the
centuries, but its olden echoes linger still. Fragrance of
Southern woods, coolness of shaded waters, inspiration of
mountain-breezes, all the secret forces of Nature that the
wood-nymph knew, and the joy, the passion, and the pain that
throb only in a woman's heart, lie still, silent under the
silent strings, but wakening into life at the touch of a royal

Do you not believe my story? But I have seen the viol and the
royal hand!


Cheri is the Canary-bird,--a yellow bird with a white tail,
when the cat leaves him any tail at all. He came as a gift,
and I welcomed him, but without gratitude. For a gift is
nothing. Always behind the gift stands the giver, and under
the gift lies the motive. The gift itself has no character.
It may be a blunder, a bribe, an offering, according to the
nature and design of the giver; and you are outraged, or
magnanimous, or grateful. Cheri came to me with no love-token
under his soft wings,--only the "good riddance" of his
heartless master. Those little black eyes had twinkled, those
shining silken feathers had gleamed, that round throat had
waved with melody in vain. He had worn his welcome out. Even
the virtues which should have throbbed, tender and all-embracing,
under priestly vestments, had no tenderness, no embrace for him,--
only a mockery and a prophecy, a cold and cynical prediction that
I should soon tire of his shrill voice. Yes, Cheri, your sweet
silver trills, your rippling June-brook warbles, were to him only
a shrew's scolding. I took the bird wrathfully, his name had been
Cherry, and rechristened him on the spot Cheri, in anticipation of
the new life that was to dawn upon him, no longer despised Cherry,
but Cheri, my cherished one.

He has been with me now nearly a year, and every trick of his
voice and head and tail is just as fresh, graceful, and
charming as on the first day of his arrival. He is a constant
recreation and delight. I put him in my own room, and went up
to look at him two or three times the first evening. Every
time I looked he would be quite still, but his little black
beads of eyes shone wide open in the candle-light, and I
recalled how Chaucer's

"Smale foules maken melodie
That slepen alle night with open eye,"

and reflected that Cheri certainly made melodie enough in the
daytime to be ranked with the poetic tribe; but one night,
after he had been here long enough to have worn away his
nervous excitement, I happened to go into the room very softly,
and the black beads had disappeared. The tiny head had
disappeared, too, and only a little round ball of feathers was
balanced on his perch. Then I remembered that chickens have
a way of putting their heads in their pockets when they go to
sleep, and poetry yielded to poultry, Cheri stepped out of
Chaucer, and took his place in the hencoop.

He has had an eventful life since he came to me. In the summer
I hung him on a hook under piazza for the merry company of
robins and bluebirds, which he enjoyed excessively. One day,
in the midst of a most successful concert, an envious gust
swept down the cage, up went the door, and out flew the
frightened bird. I could have borne to lose him, but I was
sure he would lose himself,--a tender little dilettante, served
a prince all the days of his life, never having to lift a
finger to help himself, or knowing a want unsatisfied. Now,
thrown suddenly upon his own resources, homeless, friendless,
forlorn, how could ever make his fortune in this bleak New
England, for all he has, according to Cuvier, more brains in
his head in proportion to his size than any other created
being? I saw him already in midsummer, drenched with cold
rains, chilled and perishing; but sharper eyes than mine had
marked his flight, and a pair of swift hands plunged after him
into the long grass that tangled his wings and kept him back
from headlong destruction. Amicable relations between Cheri
and the cat are on a most precarious footing. The cat was
established in the house before Cheri came,--a lovely,
frolicsome kitten, that sat in my lap, purred in my face,
rubbed her nose against my book, and grew up, to my horror, out
of all possibility of caresses, into a great, ugly, fierce,
fighting animal, that comes into the house drenched and
dripping from the mud-puddle in which she has been rolling in
a deadly struggle with every Tom Hyer and Bill Sayers of the
cat kind that make night hideous through the village. This cat
seems to be possessed with a devil every time she looks at
Cheri. Her green eyes bulge out of her head, her whole feline
soul rushes into them, and glares with a hot, greeny-yellow
fire and fury of unquenchable desire. One evening I had put
the cage on a chair, and was quietly reading in the room below,
when a great slam and bang startled the house. "The bird!"
shrieked a voice, mine or another's. I rushed upstairs. The
moonlight shone in, revealing the cage upturned on the floor,
the water running, the seeds scattered about, and a feather
here and there. The cat had managed to elude observation and
glide in, and she now managed to elude observation and glide
out. Cheri was alive, but his enemy had attacked him in the
flank, and turned his left wing, which was pretty much gone,
according to all appearances. He could not mount his perch,
and for three days, crouching on the floor of his cage, life
seemed to have lost its charm. His spirits drooped, his
appetite failed, and his song was hushed. Then his feathers
grew out again, his spirit returned to him with his appetite,
and he hopped about as good as new. To think that cat should
have been able to thrust her villanous claw in far enough to
clutch a handful of feathers of him before she upset the cage!
I have heard that canaries sometimes die of fright. If so, I
think Cheri would have been justified in doing it. To have a
great overgrown monster, with burning globes of eyes as big as
your head and claws as sharp as daggers, come glaring on you
in the darkness, overturn your house, and grab half your side
with one huge paw, is a thing well calculated to alarm a person
of delicate organization.

Then I said to myself, this cat thinks she has struck a placer,
and a hundred to one she will be driving her pick in here again
directly. So I removed the cage immediately, and set it on a
high bureau, with a "whisking-stick" close by it. Sure enough
I was awakened the next morning before day by a prolonged and
mournful "maeouw" of disappointment from the old dragon at not
finding the prey where she had expected. Before she had time
to push her researches to success, she and I and the stick were
not letting the grass grow under our feet on the stairs. Long
after, when the fright and flurry had been forgotten, the cage
was again left in a rocking-chair in the upper front entry,
where I had been sitting in sunshine all the afternoon with
Cheri, who thinks me, though far inferior to a robin or a
finch, still better than no company at all. In the course of
the evening I happened to open the lower entry door, when the
cat suddenly appeared on the lower stair. I should have
supposed she had come from the sitting-room with me, but for
a certain elaborate and enforced nonchalance in her demeanor,
a jaunty air of insouciance, as far removed, on the one hand,
from the calm equilibrium of dignity which almost imperceptibly
soothes and reassures you, as from the guileless gayety of
infantile ignorance, which perforce "medicines your weariness,"
on the other,--a demeanor which at once disgusts and alarms
you. I felt confident that some underhand work was going on.
I went upstairs. There was Cheri again, this time with his
right wing gone, and a modicum of his tail. The cage had
retained its position, but the Evil One had made her grip at
him; and the same routine of weariness, silence, loss of
appetite and spirits was to be gone through with again,
followed by re-pluming and recuperating. But every time I
think of it, I am lost in wonder at the skill and sagacity of
that cat. It was something to carry on the campaign in a
rocking-chair, without disturbing the base of operations so as
to make a noise and create a diversion in favor of the bird;
but the cunning and self-control which, as soon as I opened the
door, made her leave the bird, and come purring about my feet,
and tossing her innocent head to disarm suspicion, was
wonderful. I look at her sometimes, when we have been sitting
together a while, and say, with steadfast gaze, "Cat-soul, what
are you? Where are you? Whence come you? Whither go you?"
But she only her whiskers, and gives me no satisfaction.

But I saw at once that I must make a different disposition of
Cheri. It would never do to have him thus mauled. To be sure,
I suppose the cat might be educationally mauled into letting
him alone; but why should I beat the beast for simply acting
after her kind? Has not the Manciple, with as much philosophy
as poetry, bidden,--

"Let take a cat, and foster hire with milke
And tendre flesh, and make hire couche of silke,
And let hire see a mous go by the wall,
Anon she weiveth milke and flesh, and all,
And every deintee that is in that hous,
Swich appetit hath she to ete the mous
Lo, here hath kind hire domination,
And appetit flemeth discretion"?

Accordingly I respected the "domination" of "kind," took the
cage into the parlor and hung it up in the folds of the
window-curtain, where there is always sunshine, wrapping a
strip of brown paper around the lower part of the cage, so that
he should not scatter his seeds over the carpet. What is the
result? Perversely he forsakes his cup of seed, nicely mixed
to suit his royal taste; forsakes his conch-shell, nicely
fastened within easy reach; forsakes the bright sand that lies
whitely strewn beneath his feet, and pecks, pecks, pecks away
at that stiff, raw, coarse brown paper, jagging great gaps in
it from hour to hour. I do not mind the waste of paper, even
at its present high prices; but suppose there should be an
ornithological dyspepsia, or a congestion of the gizzard, or
some internal derangement? The possibility of such a thing
gave me infinite uneasiness at first; but he has now been at
it so long without suffering perceptible harm, that I begin to
think Nature knows what she is about, and brown paper agrees
with birds. I am confident, however, that he would devout it
all the same, whether it were salutary or otherwise, for he is
a mule-headed fellow. I let him loose on the flower-stand
yesterday, hoping he might deal death to a horde of insects who
had suddenly squatted on the soil of the money-plant. He
scarcely so much as looked at the insects, but hopped up to the
adjoining rose-bush, and proceeded to gorge himself with tender
young leaves. I tilted him away from that, and he fluttered
across the money-plant over to the geranium opposite.
Disturbed there, he flashed to the other side of the stand,
and, quick as thought, gave one mighty dab at a delicate little
fuchsia that is just "picking up" from the effects of
transplanting and a long winter journey. Seeing he was bent
on making himself disagreeable, I put him into his cage again,
first having to chase him all about the room to catch him, and
prying him up at last from between a picture and the wall,
where he had flown and settled down in his struggle to get out.
For my Cheri is not in the least tame. He is an entirely
uneducated bird. I have seen canaries sit on people's fingers
and eat from their tongues, but Cheri flies around like a
madman at the first approach of fingers. Indeed, he quite
provokes me by his want of trust. He ought to know by this
time that I am his friend, yet he goes off into violent
hysterics the moment I touch him. He does not even show fight.
There is no outcry of anger or alarm, but one "Yang!" of utter
despair. He gives up at once. Life is a burden, his "Yang!"
says. "Everything is going to ruin. There is no use in
trying. I wish I never was born. Yang!" Little old croaker,
what are you Yang-ing for? Nobody wishes to harm you. It is
your little cowardly heart that sees lions and hyenas in a
well-meaning forefinger and thumb. Be sensible.

Another opportunity for the exhibition of his perversity is
furnished by his bathing. His personal habits are exquisite.
He has a gentleman's liking for cold water and the appliances
of cleanliness; but if I spread a newspaper on the floor, and
prepare everything for a comfortable and convenient bath, the
little imp clings to his perch immovable. It is not only a
bath that he wishes, but fun. Mischief is his sine qua non of
enjoyment. "What is the good of bathing, if you cannot spoil
anything?" says he. "If you will put the bathtub in the
window, where I can splash and spatter the glass and the
curtains and the furniture, very well, but if not, why--" he
sits incorrigible, with eyes half closed, pretending to be
sleepy, and not see water anywhere, the rogue!

One day I heard a great "to-do" in the cage, and found that
half the blind was shut, and helped Cheri to a reflection of
himself, which he evidently thought was another bird, and he
was in high feather. He hopped about from perch to perch,
sidled from one side of the cage to the other, bowed and bobbed
and courtesied to himself, sung and swelled and smirked, and
became thoroughly frantic with delight. "Poor thing!" I said,
"you are lonely, no wonder." I had given him a new and shining
cage, a green curtain, a sunny window; but of what avail are
these to a desolate heart? Who does not know that the soul may
starve in splendor? "Solitude," says Balzac, I think, "is a
fine thing; but it is also a fine thing to have some one to
whom you can say, from time to time, that solitude is a fine
thing." I know that I am but a poor substitute for a
canary-bird,--a gross and sorry companion for one of ethereal
mould. I can supply seed and water and conch-shells, but what
do I know of finchy loves and hopes? What sympathy have I to
offer in his joyous or sorrowful moods? How can I respond to
his enthusiasms? How can I compare notes with him as to the
sunshine and the trees and the curtain and views of life? It
is not sunshine, but sympathy, that lights up houses into
homes. Companionship is what he needs, for his higher
aspirations and his everyday experiences,--somebody to whom he
can observe "The sand is rather gritty today, isn't it?"

"Very much as usual, my dear."

"Here is a remarkably plump seed, my dear, won't you have it?"

"No, thank you, dear, nothing more. Trol-la-la-r-r-r!"

"Do let me help you to a bit of this hemp. It is quite a
marvel of ripeness."

"Thank you. Just a snip. Plenty."

"My dear, I think you are stopping in the bathtub too long this
morning. I fancied you a trifle hoarse yesterday."

"It was the company, pet. I strained my voice slightly in that
last duet."

"We shall have to be furnished with a new shell before long.
This old one is getting to be rather the last peas of the

"Yes, I nearly broke my beak over it yesterday. I was quite
ashamed of it when the ladies were staring at you so

"Little one, I have a great mind to try that swing. It has
tempted me this long while."

"My love, I beg you will do no such thing. You will inevitably
break your neck."

Instead of this pleasant conjugal chit-chat, what has he?
Nothing. He stands looking out at the window till his eyes
ache, and then he turns around and looks at me. If any one
comes in and begins to talk, and he delightedly joins, he gets
a handkerchief thrown over his cage. Sometimes the cat creeps
in,--very seldom, for I do not trust her, even with the height
of the room between them, and punish her whenever I find her
on forbidden ground, by taking her upstairs and putting her out
on the porch-roof, where she has her choice to stay and starve
or jump off. This satisfies my conscience while giving a good
lesson to the cat, who is not fond of saltatory feats, now that
she is getting into years. If it is after her kind to prey
upon birds, and she must therefore not be beaten, it is also
after her kind to leap from anywhere and come down on her feet,
and therefore the thing does not harm her. Whenever she does
stealthily worm herself in, Cheri gives the pitch the moment
he sets eyes on her. Cat looks up steadily at him for five
minutes. Cheri, confident, strikes out in a very tempting way.
Cat describes a semicircle around the window, back and forth,
back and forth, keeping ever her back to the room and her front
to the foe, glaring and mewing and licking her chaps. O, what
a delicious tit-bit, if one could but get at it! Cheri sings
relentlessly. Like Shirley with Louis Moore in her clutches,
he will not subdue one of his charms in compassion.

"Certes it is NOT of herte, all that he sings."

She leaps into a chair. Not a quarter high enough. She jumps
to the window-seat, and walks to and fro, managing the
turning-points with much difficulty. Impossible. She goes
over to the other window. Still worse. She takes up position
on the sofa, and her whole soul exhales into one want.

She mews and licks her chaps alternately. Cheri "pitilessly
sweet" sings with unsparing insolence at the top of his voice,
and looks indifferently over her head.

That is the extent of his society. "It is too bad," I said one
day, and scoured the country for a canary-bird. Everybody had
had one, but it was sold. Then I remembered Barnum's Happy
Family, and went out to the hen-pen, and brought in a little
auburn chicken, with white breast, and wings just budding; a
size and a half larger than Cheri, it is true, but the smallest
of the lot, and very soft and small for a chicken, the
prettiest wee, waddling tot you ever saw, a Minnie Warren of
a little duck, and put him in the cage. A tempest in a teapot!
Cheri went immediately into fits and furies. He hopped about
convulsively. You might have supposed him attacked
simultaneously with St. Anthony's fire, St. Vitus's dance, and
delirium tremens. He shrieked, he writhed, he yelled, he
raved. The chicken was stupid. If he had exerted himself a
little to be agreeable, if he had only shown the smallest
symptom of interest or curiosity or desire to cultivate an
acquaintance, I have no doubt something might have been
accomplished; but he just huddled down in one corner of the
cage, half frightened to death, like a logy, lumpy, country
bumpkin as he was, and I swept him back to his native coop in
disgust. Relieved from the lout's presence, Cheri gradually
laid aside his tantrums, smoothed down his ruffled plumes, and
resumed the manners of a gentleman.

My attempt at happy families was nipped in the bud, decidedly.

By and by I went to the market-town, and, having sold my butter
and eggs, hunted up a bird-fancier. He had plenty of
heliotropes, verbenas, and japonicas, and HAD had plenty of
birds, but of course they were every one gone. Nobody wanted
them. He had just about given them away, for a quarter of a
dollar or so, and since then ever so many had been to buy them.
Could he tell me where I might find one? Yes, he sold one to
the barber last week, down near the depot. Didn't believe but
what he would sell it. Was it a female bird? For my ambition
had grown by what it fed on, and, instead of contenting myself
simply with a companion for Cheri, I was now planning for a
whole brood of canaries, with all the interests of housekeeping,
baby-tending, and the manifold small cares incident upon domestic
life. In short, I was launching out upon an entirely new career,
setting a new world a-spinning in that small wire cage. Yes, it
was a female bird. A good bird? For I could not understand the
marvelously low price. Yes 'm, prime. Had eight young ones last
year. Eight young ones! I rather caught my breath. I wanted a
brood, but I thought three was the regular number, and I must
confess I could hardly look with fortitude on such a sudden and
enormous accession of responsibility. Besides, the cage was not
half large enough. And how could they all bathe? And how could
I take proper care of so many? And, dear me, eight young ones!
And eight more next year is sixteen. And the grandchildren! And
the great-grandchildren! Hills on hills and Alps on Alps! I
shall be pecked out of house and home. I walked up the street
musingly, and finally concluded not to call on the barber just yet.

It was very well I did so, for just afterwards Cheri's matins
and vespers waxed fainter and fainter, and finally ceased
altogether. In great anxiety I called in the highest medical
science, which announced that he was only shedding his
feathers. This opinion was corroborated by numerous little
angelic soft fine feathers scattered about in localities that
precluded the cat. Cheri is a proud youngster, and I suppose
he thought if he must lose his good looks, there was no use in
keeping up his voice; therefore he moped and pouted for several
months, and would have appeared to very great disadvantage in
case I had introduced a stranger to his good graces.

So Cheri is still alone in the world, but when my ship comes
home from sea and brings an additional hour to my day, and a
few golden eagles to my purse, he is going to have his mate,
eight young ones and all, and I shall buy him a new cage, a
trifle smaller than Noah's ark, and a cask of canary-seed and
a South Sea turtle-shell, and just put them in the cage and let
them colonize. If they increase and multiply beyond all
possibility of provision, why, I shall by that time, perhaps
have become world-encrusted and hard-hearted, and shall turn
the cat in upon them for an hour or two, which will no doubt
have the effect of at once thinning them down to wieldy

Sweet little Cheri. My heart smites me to see you chirping
there so innocent and affectionate while I sit here plotting
treason against you. Bright as is the day and dazzling as the
sunlit snow, you turn away from it all, so strong is your
craving for sympathy, and bend your tiny head towards me to
pour out the fulness of your song.

And what a song it is! All the bloom of his beautiful islands
sheds its fragrance there. The hum of his honey-bees roving
through beds of spices, the loveliness of dark-eyed maidens
treading the wine-press with ruddy feet, the laughter of young
boys swinging in the vines and stained with the scented
grapes,--all the music that rings through his orange-groves,
all the sunshine of the tropics caught in the glow of fruit and
flower, in the blue of sky and sea, in the blinding whiteness
of the shore and the amethystine evening,--all come quivering
over the western wave in the falls of his tuneful voice. You
shall hear it while the day is yet dark in the folds of the
morning twilight,--a weak, faint, preliminary "whoo! whoo!"
uncertain and tentative, then a trill or two of awakened
assurance, and then, with a confident, courageous gush and
glory of soul, he flings aside all minor considerations, and
dashes con amore into the very middle of things. I am not
musical, and cannot give you his notes in technical
hieroglyphs, but in exact and intelligible lines such as all
may understand, whether musical or not, his song is like this,--
and you may rely upon its accuracy, for I wrote it down from
his own lips this morning:--

/_`'`______ ....... ^^------^^^ ^^\\^^^-------- / / / ---- |||
----^^_^/ ^^^ ///\\\ ^^


It happened to me once to "assist" at the celebration of
Class-Day at Harvard University. Class-Day is the peculiar
institution of the Senior Class, and marks its completion of
College study and lease from College rules.

Harvard has set up her Lares and Penates in a fine old grove,
or a fine old grove and green have sprouted up around her, as
the case may be,--most probably the latter, if one may judge
from the appearance of the buildings which constitute the homes
of the students, and which seem to have been built, and to be
now sustained, without the remotest reference to taste or
influence, but solely to furnish shelter,--angular, formal,
stiff, windowy, bricky, and worse within than without. Why,
I pray to know, as the first inquiry suggested by Class-Day,
why is it that a boys' school should be placed beyond the pale
of civilization? Do boys take so naturally to the amenities
of life, that they can safely dispense with the conditions of
amenity? Have boys so strong a predisposition to grace, that
society can afford to take them away from home and its
influences, and turn them loose with dozens of other boys into
a bare and battered boarding-house, with its woodwork dingy,
unpainted, gashed, scratched; windows dingy and dim; walls
dingy and gray and smoked; everything narrow and rickety,
unhomelike and unattractive?

America boasts of having the finest educational system in the
world. Harvard is, if not the most distinguished, certainly
among the first institutions in the country; but it is
necessary only to stand upon the threshold of the first Harvard
house which I entered, to pass through its mean entry and climb
up its uncouth staircase, to be assured that our educational
system has not yet found its key-stone. It has all the
necessary materials, but it is incomplete. At its base it is
falling every day more and more into shape and symmetry, but
towards the top it is still only a pile of pebbles and
boulders, and no arch. We have Primary Schools, Grammar
Schools, High Schools, in which, first, boys and girls are
educated together, as it seems impossible not to believe that
God meant them to be; in which, secondly, home life and school
life come together, and correct each other; in which, thirdly,
comfortable and comely arrangements throughout minister to
self-respect. But the moment you rise as high as a college,
nature is violated. First, boys go off by themselves to their
own destruction; secondly, home influences withdrawn; and,
thirdly,--at Harvard, which the only college I ever visited,--
the thorough comeliness which is found in the lower grades of
schools does not appeal. The separation of boys and girls in
school is a subject which has much talked about, but has not
yet come to its adequate discussion. But the achievements of
the past are the surest guaranties of the future. When we
remember that, sixty years ago, the lowest district public
schools were open to boys only, and that since that time girls
have flocked into every grade of school below a college, it is
difficult to believe that college doors will forever stand
closed to them. _I_ believe that the time will come when any
system framed for boys alone or for girls alone will be looked
upon in the same light in which we now regard a monastery or
a nunnery. Precisely the same course will not be prescribed
to both sexes, but they will be associated in their education
to the inestimable advantage of both.

This, however, I do not purpose now to discuss further.
Neither shall I speak of the second deficiency,--that of home
influences,--any further than it is connected with the third,
namely, a culpable neglect of circumstances which minister
directly to character. I design to speak only of those evils
which lie on the surface, patent to the most casual observer,
and which may be removed without any change in the structure
of society. And among the first of these I reckon the mean and
meagre homes provided for the college students. If the State
were poor, if the question were between mere rude shelter and
no college education, we should do well to choose the former,
and our choice would be our glory. It would be worthwhile even
to live in such a house as Thoreau suggests, a tool-box with
a few augur-holes bored in it to admit air, and a hook to hook
down the lid at night. But we are not poor. Society has money
enough to do everything it wishes to do; and it has provided
no better homes for its young men because it has not come to
the point of believing that better homes are necessary.
Sometimes it affects to maintain that this way of living is
beneficial, and talks of the disciplinary power of soldiers'
fare. It is true that a soldier, living on a crust of bread
and lying on the ground for love of country or of duty, is
ennobled by it; but it is also true, that a miser doing the
same things for love of stocks and gold is degraded; and a
dreamer doing it serenely unconscious is neither ennobled nor
degraded, but is simply laying the foundation for dyspepsia.
To despise the elegances of life when they interfere with its
duties the part of a hero. To be indifferent to them when
they stand in the way of knowledge is the attribute of a
philosopher. To disregard them when they would contribute to
both character and culture is neither the one nor the other.
It was very well to cultivate the muses on a little oatmeal,
when resources were so scanty that a bequest of seven hundred
and seventy-nine pounds seventeen shillings and two pence was
a gift munificent enough to confer upon the donor the honor of
giving his name to the College so endowed; when a tax of one
peck of corn, or twelve pence a year, from each family was all
could reasonably be levied for the maintenance of poor scholars
at the College; when the Pilgrims--hardly escaped from
persecution, and plunged into the midst of perils by Indian
warfare, perils by frost and famine and disease, but filled
with the love of liberty, and fired with the conviction that
only fortified by learning could be a blessing--gave of their
scanty stock and their warm hearts, one man his sheep, another
his nine shillings' worth of cotton cloth, a third his pewter
flagon, and so on down to the fruit-dish, the sugar-spoon, the
silver-tipt jug, and the trencher-salt; but a generation that
is not astonished when a man pays six thousand dollars for a
few feet land to bury himself in, is without excuse in not
providing for its sons a dignified and respectable home during
the four years of their college life,--years generally when
they are most susceptible of impressions, most impatient of
restraints, most removed from society, and most need to be
surrounded by every inducement to a courteous and Christian
life. What was a large winded liberality then may be but
niggardliness or narrowness now. If indeed there be a
principle in the case, the principle that this arrangement is
better adapted to a generous growth than a more ornate one,
then let it be carried out. Let all public edifices and
private houses be reduced to a scale of Spartan simplicity; let
camel's-hair and leathern girdles take the place of broadcloth,
and meat be locusts and wild honey. But so long as treasures
of art and treasures of wealth are lavished on churches, and
courthouses, and capitols, and private dwellings, so long as
earth and sea are forced to give up the riches which are in
them for the adornment of the person and the enjoyment of the
palate, we cannot consistently bring forward either principles
or practice to defend our neglect withal. If the experiment
of a rough and primitive life is to be tried, let it be tried
at home, where community of interests, and diversity of tastes,
and the refinements of family and social life, will prevent it
from degenerating into a fatal failure; but do not let a horde
of boys colonize in a base and shabby dwelling, unless you are
willing to admit the corollary that they may to that extent
become base and shabby. If they do become so they are scarcely
blameworthy; if they do not, it is no thanks to the system, but
because other causes come in to deflect its conclusions. But
why set down a weight at one end of the lever because there is
a power at the other? Why not wait until, in the natural
course of things, lever comes to an obstacle, and then let
power bear down with all its might to remove it?

Doubtless those who look back upon their college days through
the luminous mist of years, see no gray walls or rough floors,
and count it only less than sacrilege to find spot or wrinkle
or any such thing on the garments of their alma mater. But
awful is the gift of the gods that we can become used to
things; awful, since, by becoming used to them, we become
insensible to their faults and tolerant of their defects.
Harvard is beloved of her sons: would she be any less beloved
if she were also beautiful to outside barbarians? Would her
fame be less fair, or her name less dear, if those who come up
to her solemn feasts, filled the idea of her greatness, could
not only tell her towers, but consider her palaces, without
being forced to bury their admiration and reverence under the
first threshold which they cross? O, be sure the true princess
is not yet found, for king's daughter is all glorious within.

Deficiency takes shelter under antiquity and associations:
associations may, indeed, festoon unlovely places, but would
they cluster any less richly around walls that were stately and
adequate? Is it not fitter that associations should adorn,
than that they should conceal? If here and there a relic of
the olden time is cherished because it is olden,--a house, a
book, a dress,--shall we then live only in the houses, read
only the books, and wear the dresses of our ancestors? If here
and there some ship has breasted the billows of time, and sails
the seas today because of its own inherent grace and strength,
shall we, therefore, cling to crazy old crafts that can with
difficulty be towed out of harbor, and must be kept afloat by
constant application of tar and oakum? As I read the Bible and
the world, gray hairs are a crown unto a man only when they are
found in the way of righteousness. Laden with guilt and heavy
woes, behold the AGED SINNER goes. A seemly old age is fair
and beautiful, and to be had in honor by all people; but an old
age squalid and pinched is of all things most pitiful.

After the Oration and Poem, which, having nothing distinctive,
I pass over, comes the "Collation." The members of the Senior
Class prepare a banquet,--sometimes separately and sometimes
in clubs, at an expense ranging from fifty to five hundred
dollars,--to which they invite as many friends as they choose,
or as are available. The banquet is quite as rich, varied, and
elegant as you find at evening parties, and the occasion is a
merry and pleasant one. But it occurred to me that there may
be unpleasant things connected with this custom. In a class
of seventy-five, in a country like America, it is probable that
a certain proportion are ill able to meet the expense which
such custom necessitates. Some have fought their own way
through college. Some must have been fought through by their
parents. To them I should think this elaborate and
considerable outlay must be a very sensible inconvenience. The
mere expense of books and board, tuition and clothing, cannot
be met without strict economy, and much parental and family
sacrifice. And at the end of it all, when every nerve has been
strained, and must be strained harder still before the man can
be considered fairly on his feet and able to run his own race
in life, comes this new call for entirely uncollegiate
disbursements. Of course it is only a custom. There is no
college by-law, I suppose, which prescribes a valedictory
SYMPOSIUM. Probably it grew up gradually from small ice-cream
beginnings to its present formidable proportions; but a custom
is as rigid as a chain. I wondered whether the moral character
of the young men was generally strong enough, by the time they
were in their fourth collegiate year, to enable them to go
counter to the custom, if it involved personal sacrifice at
home,--whether there was generally sufficient courtliness, not
to say Christianity, in the class,--whether there was
sufficient courtesy, chivalry, high-breeding,--to make the
omission of this party-giving unnoticeable, or not unpleasant.
I by no means say, that the inability of a portion of the
students to entertain their friends sumptuously should prevent
those who are able from doing so. As the world is, some will
be rich and some will be poor. This is a fact which they have
to face the moment they go out into the world; and the sooner
they grapple with it, and find out its real bearings and worth,
or worthlessness, the better. Boys are usually old enough by
the time they are graduated to understand and take
philosophically such a distinction. Nor do I admit that poor
people have any right to be sore on the subject of their
poverty. The one sensitiveness which I cannot comprehend, with
which I have no sympathy, for which I have no pity, and of
which I have no tolerance, is sensitiveness about poverty. It
is an essentially vulgar feeling. I cannot conceive how a man
who has any real elevation of character, any self-respect, can
for a moment experience so ignoble a shame. One may be annoyed
at the inconveniences, and impatient of the restraints of
poverty; but to be ashamed to be called poor or to be thought
poor, to resort to shifts, not for the sake of being
comfortable or elegant, but of seeming to be above the
necessity of shifts, is an indication of an inferior mind,
whether it dwell in prince or in peasant. The man who does it
shows that he has not in his own opinion character enough to
stand alone. He must be supported by adventitious
circumstances, or he must fall. Nobody, therefore, need ever
expect to receive sympathy from me in recounting the social
pangs or slights of poverty. You never can be slighted, if you
do not slight yourself. People may attempt to do it, but their
shafts have no barb. You turn it all into natural history.
It is a psychological phenomenon, a study, something to be
analyzed, classified, reasoned from, and bent to your own
convenience, but not to be taken to heart. It amuses you; it
interests you; it adds to your stock of facts; it makes life
curious and valuable: but if you suffer from it, it is because
you have not basis, stamina; and probably you deserve be
slighted. This, however, is true only when people have become
somewhat concentrated. Children know nothing of it. They live
chiefly from without, not from within. Only gradually as they
approach maturity do they cut loose from the scaffolding, and
depend upon their own centre of gravity. Appearances are very
strong in school. Money and prodigality have great weight
there, notwithstanding the democracy of attainments and
abilities. Have the students self-poise enough to refrain from
these festive expenses without suffering mortification? Have
they virtue enough to refrain from them with the certainty of
incurring such suffering? Have they nobility, and generosity,
and largeness of soul enough, while abstaining themselves for
conscience' sake, to share in the plans, and sympathize without
servility in the pleasures of their rich comrades? to look on
with friendly interest, without cynicism or concealed malice,
at the preparations in which they do not join? Or do they
yield to selfishness, and gratify their own vanity, weakness,
self-indulgence, and love of pleasure, at whatever cost to
their parents? Or is there such a state of public opinion and
usage in College, that this custom is equally honored in the
breach and in the observance?

When the feasting was over, the most picturesque part of the
day began. The College green put off suddenly its antique
gravity, and became

"Embrouded ..... as it were a mede
Alle ful of fresshe floures, white and rede,"

"floures" which to their gay hues and graceful outlines added
the rare charm of fluttering in perpetual motion. It was a
kaleidoscope without angles. To me, niched in the embrasure
of an old upper window, the scene, it seemed, might have
stepped out of the Oriental splendor of Arabian Nights. I
never saw so many well-dressed people together in my life
before. That seems a rather tame fact to buttress Arabian
Nights withal, but it implies much. The distance was a little
too great for one to note personal and individual beauty; but
since I have heard that Boston is famous for its ugly women,
perhaps that was an advantage, as diminishing likewise
individual ugliness. If no one was strikingly handsome, no
one was strikingly plain. And though you could not mark the
delicacies of faces, you could have the full effect of
costume,--rich, majestic, floating, gossamery, impalpable.
Everything was fresh, spotless, and in tune. It scarcely
needed music to resolve all the incessant waver and shimmer
into a dance; but the music came, and, like sand-grains under
the magnet, the beautiful atoms swept into stately shapes and
tremulous measured activity,--

"A fine, sweet earthquake gently moved
By the soft wind of whispering silks."

Then it seemed like a German festival, and came back to me the
Fatherland, the lovely season of the Blossoming, the short,
sweet bliss-month among the Blumenbuhl Mountains.

Nothing call be more appropriate, more harmonious, than dancing
on the green. Youth, and gaiety, and beauty--and in summer we
are all young, and gay, and beautiful--mingle well with the
eternal youth of blue sky, and velvet sward, and the light
breezes toying in the treetops. Youth and Nature kiss each
other in the bright, clear purity of the happy summer-tide.
Whatever objections lie against dancing elsewhere must veil
their faces there.

If only men would not dance! It is the most unbecoming
exercise which they can adopt. In women you have the sweep and
wave of drapery, gentle undulations, summer-cloud floatings,
soft, sinuous movements, fluency of pliant forms, the willowy
bend and rebound of lithe and lovely suppleness. It is grace
generic,--the sublime, the evanescent mysticisin of motion,
without use, without aim, except its own overflowing and
all-sufficing fascination. But when a man dances, it reminds
me of that amusing French book called "Le Diable Boiteux,"
which has been free-thinkingly translated, "The Devil on Two
Sticks." A woman's dancing is gliding, swaying, serpentine.
A man's is jerks, hops, convulsions, and acute angles. The
woman is light, airy, indistinctly defined. Airy movements are
in keeping. The man is sombre in hue, grave in tone,
distinctly outlined; and nothing is more incongruous, to my
thinking, than his dancing. The feminine drapery conceals
processes and gives results. The masculine absence of drapery
reveals processes, and thereby destroys results.

Once upon a time, long before the Flood, the clergyman of a
country-village, possessed with such a zeal as Paul bore record
of concerning Israel, conceived it his duty to "make a note"
of sundry young members of his flock who had met for a drive
and a supper, with a dance fringed upon the outskirts. The
fame whereof being noised abroad, a sturdy old farmer, with a
good deal of shrewd sense and mother-wit in his brains, and a
fine, indirect way of hitting the nail on the head with a
side-stroke, was questioned in a neighboring village as to the
facts of the case. "Yes," he said, surlily, "the young folks
had a party, and got up a dance, and the minister was mad,--and
I don't blame him,--he thinks nobody has any business to dance,
unless he knows how better than they did!" It was a rather
different casus belli from that which the worthy clergyman
would have preferred before a council; but it "meets my views"
precisely as to the validity of the objections urged against
dancing. I would have women dance, and women only, because it
is the most beautiful thing in the world. And I think my views
are Scriptural, for I find that it was the VIRGINS of Israel
that were to go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
It was the DAUGHTERS of Shiloh that went out to dance in dances
at the feast of the Lord on the south of Lebonah.

From my window overlooking the green, I was led away into some
one or other of the several halls to see the "round dances";
and it was like going from Paradise to Pandemonium. From the
pure and healthy lawn, all the purer for the pure and peaceful
people pleasantly walking up and down in the sunshine and
shade, or grouped in the numerous windows, like bouquets of
rare tropical flowers,--from the green, rainbowed in vivid
splendor, and alive with soft, tranquil motion, fair forms, and
the flutter of beautiful and brilliant colors,--from the green,
sanctified already by the pale faces of sick, and wounded, and
maimed soldiers who had gone out from the shadows of those
sheltering trees to draw the sword for country, and returned
white wraiths of their vigorous youth, the sad vanguard of that
great army of blessed martyrs who shall keep forever in the
mind of this generation how costly and precious a thing is
liberty, who shall lift our worldly age out of the slough of
its material prosperity in to the sublimity of suffering and
sacrifice,--from suggestions, and fancies, and dreamy musing,
and "phantasms sweet," into the hall, where, for flower-scented
summer air were thick clouds of fine, penetrating dust; and for
lightly trooping fairies, a jam of heated human beings, so that
you shall hardly come nigh the dancers for the press; and when
you have, with difficulty, and many contortions, and much
apologizing, threaded the solid mass, piercing through the
forest of fans,--what? An enclosure, but no more illusion.

Waltzing is a profane and vicious dance. When it is prosecuted
in the centre of a great crowd, in a dusty hall, on a warm
midsummer day, it is also a disgusting dance. Night is its
only appropriate time. The blinding, dazzling gas-light throws
a grateful glare over the salient points of its indecency, and
blends the whole into a wild whirl that dizzies and dazes one;
but the uncompromising afternoon, pouring in through manifold
windows, tears away every illusion, and reveals the whole
coarseness and commonness and all the repulsive details of this
most alien and unmaidenly revel. The very POSE of the dance
is profanity. Attitudes which are the instinctive expression
of intimate emotions, glowing rosy-red in the auroral time of
tenderness, and justified in unabashed freedom only by a long
and faithful habitude of unselfish devotion, are here openly,
deliberately, and carelessly assumed by people who have but a
casual and partial society-acquaintance. This I reckon
profanity. This is levity the most culpable. This is a guilty
and wanton waste of delicacy. That it is practised by good
girls and tolerated by good mothers does not prove that it is
good. Custom blunts the edge of many perceptions. A good
thing soiled may be redeemed by good people; but waltz as many
as you may, spotless maidens, you will only smut yourselves,
and not cleanse the waltz. It is of itself unclean.

There were, besides, peculiar desagrements on this occasion.
As I said, there was no illusion,--not a particle. It was no
Vale of Tempe, with Nymphs and Apollos. The boys were boys,
young, full of healthful promise, but too much in the husk for
exhibition, and not entirely at ease in their situation,--
indeed, very much NOT at ease,--unmistakably warm, nervous, and
uncomfortable. The girls were pretty enough girls, I dare say,
under ordinary circumstances,--one was really lovely, with soft
cheeks, long eyelashes, eyes deep and liquid, and Tasso's gold
in her hair, though of a bad figure, ill set off by a bad
dress,--but Venus herself could not have been seen to advantage
in such evil plight as they, panting, perspiring, ruffled,
frowzy,--puff-balls revolving through an atmosphere of dust,--
a maze of steaming, reeking human couples, inhumanly heated
and simmering together with a more than Spartan fortitude.

It was remarkable, and at the same time amusing, to observe the
difference in the demeanor of the two sexes. The lions and the
fawns seemed to have changed hearts,--perhaps they had. It was
the boys that were nervous. The girls were unquailing. The
boys were, however, heroic. They tried bravely to hide the fox
and his gnawings; but traces were visible. They made desperate
feint of being at the height of enjoyment and unconscious of
spectators; but they had much modesty, for all that. The girls
threw themselves into it pugnis et calcibus,--unshrinking,
indefatigable. Did I say that it was amusing? I should rather
say that it was painful. Can it be anything but painful to see
young girls exhibiting the hardihood of the "professional"
without the extenuating necessity?

There is another thing which girls and their mothers do not
seem to consider. The present mode of dress renders waltzing
almost as objectionable in a large room as the boldest feats
of a French ballet-dancer.

If the title of my article do not sufficiently indicate the
depth and breadth of knowledge on which my opinions assume to
be based, let me, that I may not seem to claim confidence upon
false pretences, confess that I have never seen, either in this
country or abroad, any ballet-dancer or any dancer on any
stage. I do not suppose that I have ever been at any assembly
where waltzing was a part of the amusements half a dozen times
in my life, and never in the daytime, upon this occasion. I
also admit that the sensations with which one would look upon
this performance at Harvard would depend very much upon whether
one went to it from that end of society which begins at the
Jardin Mabille, or that which begins at a New England
farm-house. I speak from the stand-point of the New England
farm-house. Whether that or the Jardin Mabille is nearer the
stand-point of the Bible, every one must decide for himself.
When I say "this is right, this is wrong," I do not wish to be
understood as settling the question for others, but as
expressing my own strongest conviction. When I say that the
present mode of dress renders waltzing almost as objectionable
in a large room as the boldest feats of a French ballet-dancer,
I mean that, from what I have heard and read of ballet-dancers,
I judge that these girls gyrating in the centre of their
gyrating and unmanageable hoops, cannot avoid, or do not know
how to avoid, at any rate do not avoid, the exposure which the
short skirts of the ballet-dancer are intended to make, and
which, taking to myself all the shame of both the prudery and
the coarseness if I am wrong, I call an indecent exposure. In
the glare and glamour of gas-light, it is flash and clouds and
indistinctness. In the broad and honest daylight it is not.
Indeed, I do not know that I will say "almost." Anything which
tends to remove from woman her sanctity is not only almost, but
altogether objectionable. Questionable action is often
consecrated by holy motive, and there, even mistake is not
fatal; but in this thing is no noble principle to neutralize
practical error.

I do not speak thus about waltzing because I like to say it;
but ye have compelled me. If one member suffers, all the
members suffer with it. I respect and revere woman, and I
cannot see her destroying or debasing the impalpable fragrance
and delicacy of her nature without feeling the shame and
shudder in my own heart. Great is my boldness of speech
towards you, because great is my glorying of you. Though I
speak as a fool, yet as a fool receive me. My opinions may be
rustic. They are at least honest; and it not be that the first
fresh impressions of an unprejudiced and uninfluenced observer
are as likely to be natural and correct views as those which
are the result of many after-thoughts, long and use, and an
experience of multifold fascinations, combined with the
original producing cause? My opinions may be wrong, but they
will do no harm; the penalty will rest alone on me: while, if
they are right, they may serve as a nail or two to be fastened
by the masters of assemblies.

O girls, I implore you to believe me! They are not your true
friends who would persuade you that you can permit this thing
with impunity. It is not they who best know your strength,
your power, your possibilities. It is not they who pay you the
truest homage. Believe ME, for it is not possible that I can
have any but the highest motive. If the evil of foreign
customs is to be incorporated into American society, if foul
freedom of manners is to defile our pure freedom of life, if
the robes of our refinement are to be white only when relieved
against the dark background revealed by polluted stage of a
corrupt metropolis, on you will fall the burden of the
consequences. Believe ME, for your weal and mine are one.
Your glory is my glory. Your degradation is mine. There are
honeyed words whose very essence is insult. There are bold and
bitter words whose roots lie in the deepest reverence. Beware
of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Beware
of the honor which is dishonor.

I hear that the ground is taken that the affairs of Class-Day
are not a legitimate subject of public comment; that it is a
private matter of the Senior Class, of which one has no more
right to speak in print than one has so to speak of a house in
Beacon Street to which one might be invited. Is it indeed so?
I have no right to go into Mr. Smith's house in Beacon Street,--
I use the term Smith as simply generic, not meaning to imply
for a moment that so plebeian a name ever marred a Beacon
Street door-plate,--and subsequently print that I was
hospitably entreated, or that the chair-covers were faded and
the conversation brilliant. Neither have I any right to go
into Master Jones's room, in Hollis Hall, and inform the public
that he keeps wine in his cigar-box, and that he entertained
his friends awkwardly or gracefully. But suppose all the
Beacon Street families have a custom of devoting one day of
every year to festivities, in which festivities all Boston, and
all the friends, and the friends' friends, whom each Beacon
Street family chooses to invite, are invited to partake. The
Common, and the State-House, and the Music-Hall, &c. are set
apart for dancing, the houses are given up to feasting,--and
this occurs year after year. Is it a strictly private affair?
I have still no right to denounce or applaud or in any way
characterize Mr. Smith's special arrangements; but have I not
a right to discuss in the most public manner the general
features of the custom? May I not say that I consider feasting
a possible danger, and the dancing a certain evil, and assign
my reasons for these opinions?

I have spoken of the condition of some of the buildings. I
find in the College records repeated instances of the College
authorities appealing to the public concerning this very thing.
So early as 1651, the Rev. Henry Dunster, President of the
College, represented to the Commissioners of the United
Colonies the decaying condition of the College buildings, and
the necessity of their repair and enlargement: and the
Commisioners reply, that they will recommend to the Colonies
to give some yearly help, by pecks, half-bushels, and bushels
of wheat. Is a subject that is brought before Congress
improper to be brought before the public in a magazine?

I have spoken of the banqueting arranged by the Senior Class.
Is that private? I find in a book regularly printed and
published, a book written by a former President of the
College,--a man whom no words of mine can affect, yet whom I
cannot pass without laying at his feet my tribute of gratitude
and reverence; a man who lives to receive from his contemporaries
the honors which are generally awarded only by posterity,--I find
in this book accounts of votes passed by the Corporation and
Overseers, prohibiting Commencers from "preparing or providing
either plum-cake, or roasted, boiled, or baked meats, or pies of
any kind"; and afterwards, if anyone should do anything contrary
to this act, or "go about to evade it by plain cake, they shall
not be admitted to their degree; and also, "that commons be of
better quality, have more variety, clean table-cloths of convenient
length and breadth twice a week, and that plates be allowed." Now
if the plum-cake and pies of the "Commencers" are spread before
the public, how shall one know that the plum-cake and pies of an
occasion at least equally public, and only a month beforehand,
must not be mentioned? If any family in Beacon Street should
publish its housekeeping rules and items in this unhesitating
manner, I think a very pardonable confusion of ideas might
exist as to what was legitimately public, and what must be held
private. If it be said that these items concern a period from
which the many years that have since elapsed remove the seal
of silence, I have but to turn to the Boston Daily Advertiser,
a journal whose taste and judgment are unquestionable, and find
in its issue of July 18, 1863, eight closely printed columns
devoted to a minute description of what they said, and what
they did, at the College festival arranged by the Association
of the Alumni, in which description may be read such eminently
private incidents as that--by some unfortunate mistake, which
would have been a death-blow to any Beacon Street housekeeper-
-there were one hundred more guests than there were plates,
and--what it might be hoped would be quite unnecessary to
state--that the unlucky De trop "bore the disappointment with
the most admirable good-breeding, AND RETIRED FROM THE HALL
WITHOUT NOISE OR DISTURBANCE." (Noble army of martyrs! Let
a monument more durable than brass rise in the hearts of their
countrymen to commemorate their heroism, and let it graven all
over, in characters of living light, with the old-time query,
"Why didn't Jack eat his supper?")

I find also in the same issue of the same paper the Commencement
Dinner, its guests, its quantity and quality, its talk, its
singing of songs, and giving of gifts, spread before the public.
If, now, the festivities of Commencement and of the Alumni
Association are public, by what token shall one know that the
festivities of Class-Day, which have every appearance of being
just as public, are in reality a family affair, and strictly private?

I have spoken of waltzing. The propriety of my speaking must
stand or fall with the previous count. But in the book to
which I have before referred is recorded a vote passed by the
Overseers, "To restrain unsuitable and unseasonable dancing in
the College." If a rule of the College is published throughout
the land, is not the land in some measure appealed to, and may
it not speak when it thinks it sees a custom in open and
systematic violation of the rule?

But, independent of this special rule, Harvard College was
founded in the early days of the Colony. It was the pet and
pride and hope of the colonists. They gave to it of their
abundance and their poverty. To what end? "Dreading to leave
an illiterate ministry to the churches," says the author of
"New England First-Fruits." The first Constitution of the
College declares one of its objects to be "to make and
establish all such orders, statutes, and constitutions as they
shall see necessary for the instituting, guiding, and
furthering of the said College, and the several members
thereof, from time to time, in piety, morality, and learning."
Later, its objects are said to be "the advancement of all good
literature, arts, and sciences," and "the education of the
English and Indian youth of this country in knowledge and
godliness." Of the rules of the College, one is, "Let every
student be earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of
his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ, which
is eternal life, and, therefore, to lay Christ in the bottom,
as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning."
Quincy says that to the Congregational clergy the "institution
is perhaps more indebted than to any other class of men for
early support, if not for existence." That it has not avowedly
turned aside from its original object is indicated by the motto
which it still bears, Christo et Ecclesiae. Now I wish to know
if the official sanction of this College, founded by
statesmen-clergy for the promotion of piety and learning, to
further the welfare of the State, consecrated to Christ and the
Church, is to be given to a practice which no one will maintain
positively conduces to either piety or learning, which many
believe to be positively detrimental to both, and which an
overwhelming majority of the clergy who founded the College,
and of their ecclesiastical descendants at the present day,
would, I am confident, condemn, and yet is not to be publicly
spoken of, because it is a private affair! Has it any right
to privacy? Does the College belong to a Senior Class, or to
the State? Have the many donations been given, and the
appropriations been made, for the pleasure or even profit of
any one class, or for the whole Commonwealth? Has any class
any right to introduce in any College hall, or anywhere, as a
College class, with the sanction of the Faculty, a custom which
is entirely disconnected with either learning or piety, a
custom of doubtful propriety, not to say morality inasmuch as
many believe it to be wrong, and a custom, therefore, whose
tendency is to weaken confidence in the College, and
consequently to restrict its beneficence? And is the
discussion of this thing a violation of the rites of

These are my counts against "Class-Day," as it is now
conducted. It contains much that is calculated to promote
neither learning nor godliness, but to retard both. Neither
literary nor moral excellence seems to enter as an element into
its standard. In point of notoriety and popular interest it
seems to me to reach, if not to over-top, Commencement-Day, and
therefore it tends to subordinate scholarship to other and
infinitely less important matters. It in a manner necessitates
an expenditure which many are ill able to bear, and under
which, I have reason to believe, many parents do groan, being
burdened. It has not the pleasure and warmth of reunion to
recommend it, for it precedes separation. The expense is not
incurred by men who are masters of their own career, who know
where they stand and what they can do; but chiefly by boys who
are dependent upon others, and whose knowledge of ways and
means is limited, while their knowledge of wants is deep and
pressing and aggressive. It is an extraordinary and
unnecessary expense, coming in the midst of ordinary and
necessary expense, while the question of reimbursement is still
entirely in abeyance. It launches young men at the outset of
their career into extravagance and display,--limited indeed in
range, but rampant within that range,--and thereby throws the
influence of highest authority in favor of, rather than
against, that reckless profusion, display, and dissipation
which is the weakness and the bane of our social life. It
signalizes in a marked and public manner the completion of the
most varied and thorough course of study in the country, and
the commencement of a career which should be the most noble and
beneficial, not by peculiar and appropriate ceremonies, but by
the commonest rites of the lecture-room and ball-room; and I
cannot but think that, especially at this period of history,
when no treasure is esteemed too precious for sacrifice, and
the land is red with the blood of her best and bravest,--when
Harvard herself mourns for her children lost, but glories in
heroes fallen,--that the most obvious and prominent customs of
Class-Day would be more honored in the breach than in the

I look upon the violation of hospitality as one of the seven
deadly sins,--a sin for which no punishment is too great; but
this sin I have not consciously, and I do not think I have
actually, committed. I cannot but suspect, that, if I had
employed the language of exclusive eulogy,--such language as
is employed at and concerning the Commencement dinners and the
Alumni dinners, I might have described the celebration of
Class-Day with much more minuteness than I have attempted to
do, and should have heard no complaints of violated
hospitality. This I would gladly have done, had it been
possible. As it was not, I have pointed out those features
which seemed to me objectionable,--certainly with no design so
ridiculous as that of setting up myself against Harvard
University, but equally certainly with no heart so craven as
to shrink from denouncing what seemed to me wrong because it
would be setting myself against Harvard University. Opinions
must be judged by their own weight, not by the weight of the
persons who utter them. The fair fame of Harvard is the
possession of every son and daughter of Massachusetts, and the
least stain that mars her escutcheon is the sorrow of all. But
Harvard is not the Ark of the Covenant, to be touched only by
consecrated hands, upon penalty of instant death. She is
honorable, but not sacred; wise, but not infallible. To
Christo et Ecclesiae, she has a right; to Noli me tangere, she
has none. A very small hand may hurl an arrow. If it is
heaven-directed, it may pierce in between the joints of the
armor. If not, it may rebound upon the archer. I make the
venture, promising that I shall not follow the example of that
President of Harvard who died of a broken heart, because,
according to Cotton Mather, he "FELL UNDER THE DISPLEASURE OF

As it may never again happen to me to be writing about
colleges, I desire to say in this paper everything I have to
say on the subject, and therefore take this opportunity to
refer to the practice of "hazing," although it is but remotely
connected with Class-Day. If we should find it among hinds,
a remnant of the barbarisms of the Dark Ages, blindly handed
down by such slow-growing people as go to mill with their meal
on side of the saddle and a stone on the other to balance, as
their fathers did, because it never occurred to them to divide
the meal into two parcels and make it balance itself, we should
be surprised; but "hazing" occurs among boys who have been
accustomed to the circulation of ideas, boys old enough and
intelligent enough understand the difference between brutality
and frolic, old enough to know what honor and rage mean, and
therefore I cannot conceive how they should countenance a
practice which entirely ignores and defies honor, and which not
a single redeeming feature. It has neither wisdom nor wit, no
spirit, no genius, no impulsiveness, scarcely boyish mirth.
A narrow range of stale practical jokes, lighted up by no gleam
of originality, seems to be transmitted from year to year with
as much fidelity as the Hebrew Bible, and not half the latitude
allowed to clergymen of the English Established Church. But
besides its platitude, its one over-powering and fatal
characteristic is its intense and essential cowardice.
Cowardice is its head and front and bones and blood. One boy
does not single out another boy of his own weight, and take his
chances in a fair stand-up fight. But a party of Sophomores
club together in such numbers as to render opposition useless,
and pounce upon their victim unawares, as Brooks and his
minions pounced upon Sumner, and as the Southern chivalry is
given to doing. For sweet pity's sake, let this mode of
warfare be monopolized by the Southern chivalry.

The lame excuse is offered, that it does the Freshmen good,--
takes the conceit out of them. But if there is any Class in
College so divested of conceit as to be justified in throwing
stones, it is surely not the Sophomore Class. Moreover,
whatever good it may do the sufferers, it does harm, and only
harm, to the perpetrators; and neither the Law nor the Gospel
requires a man to improve other people's characters at the
expense of his own. Nobody can do a wrong without injuring
himself; and no young man can do a mean, cowardly wrong like
this without suffering severest injury. It is the very spirit
of the slaveholder, a dastardly and detestable, a tyrannical
and cruel spirit. If young men are so blinded by custom and
habit that a meanness is not to them a meanness because it has
been practised for years, so much the worse for the young men,
and so much the worse for our country, whose sweat of blood
attests the bale and blast which this evil spirit has wrought.
If uprightness, if courage, if humanity and rectitude and the
mind conscious to itself of right are anything more than a
name, let the young men who mean to make time minister to life
scorn this debasing and stupid practice.

Why, as one resource against this, as well as for its own
intrinsic importance, should there not be a military department
to every college, as well as a mathematical department? Why
might not every college be a military normal school, so that
the exuberance and riot of animal spirits, the young,
adventurous strength and joy in being, might not only be kept
from striking out as now in illegitimate, unworthy, and hurtful
directions, but might become the very basis and groundwork of
useful purposes. Such exercise would be so promotive of health
and discipline, it would so train and LIMBER the physical
powers, that the superior quality of study would, I doubt not,
more than atone for whatever deficiency in quantity might
result. And even suppose a little less attention should be
given to Euclid and Homer, which is of the greater importance
now-a-days, an ear that can detect a false quantity in a Greek
verse, or an eye that can sight a Rebel nine hundred yards off,
and a hand that can pull a trigger and shoot him? Knowledge
is power; but knowledge must sharpen its edges and polish its
points, if it would be greatliest available in days like these.
The knowledge that can plant batteries and plan campaigns, that
is fertile in expedients and wise to baffle the foe, is just
now the strongest power. Diagrams and first-aorists are good,
and they who have fed on such meat have grown great, and done
the state service in their generation; but these times demand
new measures and new men. It is conceded that we shall
probably be for many years a military nation. At least a
generation of vigilance shall be the price of our liberty. And
even of peace we can have no stronger assurance than a wise and
wieldy readiness for war. But the education of our unwarlike
days is not adequate to the emergencies of this martial hour.
We must be seasoned with something stronger than Attic salt,
or we shall be cast out and trodden under foot of men. True,
all education is worthy. Everything that exercises the mind
fits it for its work; but professional education is
indispensable to professional men. And the profession, par
excellence, of every man of this generation is war. Country
overrides all personal considerations. Lawyer, minister, what
not, a man's first duty is the salvation of his country. When
she calls, he must go; and before she calls, let him, if
possible, prepare himself to serve her in the best manner. As
things are now at Harvard, college boys are scarcely better
than cow-boys for the army. Their costly education runs
greatly to waste. It gives no them direct advantage over the
clod who stumbles against a trisyllable. So far as it makes
them better men, of course they are better soldiers; but for
all of military education which their college gives them, they
are fit only for privates, whose sole duty is to obey. They
know nothing of military drill or tactics or strategy. The
State cannot afford this waste. She cannot afford to lose the
fruits of mental toil and discipline. She needs trained mind
even more than trained muscle. It is harder to find brains
than to find hands. The average mental endowment may be no
higher in college than out; but granting it to be as high, the
culture which it receives gives it immense advantage. The
fruits of that culture, readiness, resources, comprehensiveness,
should all be held in the service of the State. Military
knowledge and practice should be imparted and enforced to
utilize ability, and make it the instrument, not only of
personal, but of national welfare. That education which gives
men the advantage over others in the race of life should be so
directed as to convey that advantage to country, when she stands
in need. Every college might and should be made a nursery of
athletes in mind and body, clear-eyed, stout-hearted, strong-
limbed, cool-brained,--a nursery of soldiers; quick, self-possessed,
brave and cautions and wary, ready in invention, skilful to command
men and evolve from a mob an army,--a nursery of gentlemen,
reminiscent of no lawless revels, midnight orgies, brutal outrages,
launching out already attainted into an attainting world, but with
many a memory of adventure, wild, it may be, and not over-wise,
yet pure as a breeze from the hills,--banded and sworn

"To serve as model for the mighty world,
To break the heathen and uphold the Christ,
To ride abroad redressing human wrongs,
To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it,
To lead sweet lives in purest chastity,
Not only to keep down the base in man,
But teach high thought, and amiable words,
And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
And love of truth, and all that makes a man."



There are successes more melancholy than any failure. There
are failures more noble than success. The man who began life
as a ploughboy, who went from his father's farm to the great
city with his wardrobe tied up in his handkerchief, and one
dollar in his pocket, and who by application, economy, and
forecast has amassed a fortune, is not necessarily a successful
man. If his object was to amass a fortune, he is so far
successful; but it is a mean and miserable object, and his life
would be a contemptible, if it were not a terrible, failure.
We do not keep this sufficiently in mind. American society,
and perhaps all society, is too apt to do homage to material
prosperity; but material prosperity may be obtained by the
sacrifice of moral grandeur; and so obtained, it is an apple
of Sodom. A man may call out his whole energy, wield all his
power, and wealth follow as one of the results. This is well.
Wealth may even be an object, if it be a subordinate object,--
the servant of a higher power. Wealth may minister to the
best part of man,--but only minister, not master. Only as a
minister it deserves regard. When it usurps the throne and
becomes monarch, it is of all things most pitiful and abject.
The man who sets out with the determination to be rich as an
end, sets out with a very ignoble determination; and he who
seeks or values wealth for the respect which it secures and the
position it gives, is not very much higher in the scale; yet
such people are often held up to the admiration and imitation
of American youth; and oftener still have those men been held
up for imitation who, whether by determination or drift, had
become rich, and whose sole claim to distinction was that they
had become rich. Again and again I have seen "success" which
seemed to me to be the brand of ignominy rather than the stamp
of worth,--the epitaph of culture, if not of character. I look
on with a profound and regretful pity. You successful,--YOU!
with half your powers lying dormant,--you, with your
imagination stifled, your conscience unfaithful, your chivalry
deadened into shrewdness, your religion a thing of tithes and
forms;--you successful, in whom romance has died out; to whom
fidelity and constancy and aspiration are nothing but a voice;
who remember love and heroism and self-sacrifice only as the
vaporings of youth; who measure principles by your purse,
utility by your using; who see nothing glorious this side of
honesty; nothing terrible in the surrender of faith; nothing
degrading that is not amenable to the law; nothing in your
birthright that may not be sold for a mess of pottage, if only
the mess be large enough, and the pottage savory;--you
successful? Is this success? Then, indeed, humanity is a
base and bitter failure.

It is not necessary that a man should be a robber or a
murderer, in order to degrade himself. Without defrauding his
neighbor of a cent, without laying himself open to a single
accusation of illegality or violence, a man may destroy
himself. A moral suicide, he kills out all that belongs to his
highest nature, and leaves but a bare and battered wreck where
the temple of the holy Ghost should rise.

"Measure not the work
Until the day's out, and the labor done;
Then bring your gauges."

Is that man successful who trades on his country's necessities?
He, not a politician, nor a horse-jockey, nor a footpad, but
a man who talks of honor and integrity,--a man of standing and
influence, whose virtue is not tempted by hunger, whose life
has been such that he may be supposed intelligently to
comprehend the interests which are at stake, and the measures
which should be taken to secure them,--is he successful because
he obtains in a few months, by the perquisites--not illegal,
but strained to the extreme verge of legal --of an office,--not
illegal, but accidental, not in the line of promotion,--a sum
of money which the greatest merit and the highest office in the
land cannot claim for years? He is shrewd. He understands his
business. He knows the ins and outs. He can manage the
sharpers. He can turn an honest penny, and a good many of
them. He need not refuse to do himself a good turn with his
left hand, while he is doing his country a good turn with his
right. It is all fair and aboveboard. He does the business
assigned him, and does it well. He takes no more compensation
than the law allows. The money may as well go to him as to
shoddy contractors, Shylock sutlers, and the legion of plebeian
rascals. But it was a good stroke. It was a great chance.
It was a rare success.

O wretched failure! O pitiful abortion! O accursed hunger for
gold! When the nation struggles in a death-agony, when her
life-blood is poured out from hundreds of noble hearts, when
men and women and children are sending up to the Lord the
incense of daily sacrifice in her behalf, and we know not yet
whether prayer and effort, whether faith and works, shall
avail,--whether our lost birthright, sought carefully, and with
tears, shall be restored to us once more,--in this solemn and
awful hour, a man can close his eyes and ears to the fearful
sights and great signs in the heavens, and, stooping earthward,
delve with his muck-rake in the gutter for the paltry pennies!
A man? A MAN! Is this manhood? Is this manliness? Is this
the race that our institutions engender? Is this the best
production which we have a right to expect? Is this the result
which Christianity and civilization combine to offer? Is this
the advantage which the nineteenth century claims over its
predecessors? Is this the flower of all the ages,--earth's
last, best gift to heaven?

No,--no,--no,--this is a changeling, and no child. The true
brother's blood cries to us from Baltimore. It rings out from
the East where Winthrop fell. It swells up from the West with
Lyon's dirge. And all along, from hill and valley and
river-depths, where the soil is drenched, and the waters are
reddened, and nameless graves are scattered,--cleaving clearly
through the rattle of musketry, mingling grandly with the
"diapason of the cannonade," or floating softly up under the
silent stars, "the thrilling, solemn, proud, pathetic voice"
ceases not to cry unto us day and night; its echoes linger
tenderly and tearfully around every hearth-stone, and vibrate
with a royal resonance from mountain to sea-shore. The mother
bends to it in her silent watches. The soldier, tempest-tost,
hears it through the creaking cordage, and every true heart
knows its brother, and takes up the magnificent strain,--
victorious, triumphant, exultant,--

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."
Sweet and honorable is it for country to die.


The unsuccessful men are all around us; and among them are
those who confound all distinctions set up by society, and
illustrate the great law of compensation set up by God, cutting
society at right angles, and obtuse angles, and acute angles,
unnoticed, or but flippantly mentioned by the careless, but
giving food for intimate reflections to those for whom things
suggest thoughts.

Have you not seen them,--these unsuccessful men?--men who seem
not to have found their niche, but are always on somebody's
hands for settlement, or, if settled, never at rest? If they
are poor, their neighbors say, Why does he not learn a trade?
or, Why does he not stick to his trade? He might be well off,
if he were not so flighty. He has a good head-piece, but he
potters rhymes; he tricks out toy-engines and knick-knacks; he
roams about the woods gathering snakes and toads; and meanwhile
he is out at the elbows. If he is rich, they say, Why does he
not make a career? He has great resources. His brain is
inexhaustible. He is equipped for any emergency. There is
nothing which he might not attain, if he would only apply
himself, but he fritters himself away. He sticks to nothing.
He touches on this, that, and the other, and falls off.

True, O Philosophers, he does stick to nothing, but condemn him
not too harshly. It is the old difficulty of the square man
in the round hole, and the round man in the square hole. They
never did rest easy there since time began, and never will.
Many--perhaps the greater number--of people have no overmastering
inclination for any employment. They are farmers because their
fathers were before them, and that road was graded for them,--or
shoemakers, or lawyers, or ministers, for the same reason. If
circumstances had impelled them in a different direction, they
would have gone in a different direction, and been content. It
is not easy for them to conceive that a man is an indifferent
lawyer, because his raw material should have been worked up into
a practical engineer; or an unthrifty shoemaker, because he is a
statesman nipped in the bud. Yet such things are. Sometimes
these men are gay, giddy, rollicking fellows. Sometimes their
faces are known at the gaming-houses and the gin-palaces.
Sometimes they go down quickly to a dishonored grave, over which
Love stands bewildered, and weeps her unavailing tears. Sometimes,
on the other hand, they are gloomy, sad, silent. Perhaps they are
morose. Worse still, they are whining, fretful, complaining. You
would even call them sour. Often they are cynical and disagreeable.
But be not too hasty, too sweeping, too clear-cut. I have seen such
men who were the reverse of the Pharisees. Their faces were a
tombstone. The portals of their soul were guarded by lions scarcely
chained. But though their temple had no Beautiful Gate, it was none
the less a temple, consecrated to the Most High. Within it, day and
night, the sacred fire burned, the sacred Presence rested. There,
honor, justice, devotion, and all heroic virtues dwelt. Thence
falsehood, impurity, profanity, whatsoever loveth and maketh a
lie,-- were excluded. They are unsuccessful, because they will not
lower the standard which their youth unfurled. Its folds float high
above them, out of reach, but not out of sight, nor out of desire.
With constant feet they are climbing up to grasp it. You do not see
it; no, and you never will. You need not strain your aching eyes;
but they see it, and comfort their weary hearts withal.

These men may receive sympathy, but they do not need pity.
They are a thousand times more blessed than the vulgarly
successful. The shell is wrinkled, and gray, and ugly; but
within, the meat is sweet and succulent. Perhaps they will
never make a figure in the world, but

"True happiness abides with him alone
Who in the silent hour of inward thought
Can still suspect and still revere himself
In lowliness of mind."

And it is even better never to be happy than to be sordidly
happy. It is better to be nobly dissatisfied than meanly
content. A splendid sadness is better than a vile enjoyment.

I hear of people that never failed in anything they undertook.
I do not believe in them. In the first place, however, I do
not believe this testimony is true. It is the honest
false-witness, it is the benevolent slander of their affectionate
and admiring friends. But if it were in any case true, I should
not believe in the man of whom it was affirmed. It is difficult
to conceive that a person of elevated character should not attempt
many things too high for him. He finds himself set down in the
midst of life. Earth, air, and water, his own mind and heart, the
whole mental, moral, and physical world, teem with mysteries. He
is surrounded with problems incapable of mortal solution. He must
grasp many of them and he foiled. He must attack many foes and be
repulsed. He may be stupidly blind, or selfish, or cowardly, and
make no endeavor,--in which case he will of course endure no defeat.
If he sets out with small aims, he may accomplish them; but it
is not a thing to boast of. It is better to fall below a high
standard than to come up to a low one,--to try great things and
fail, than to try only small ones and succeed. For he who
attempts grandly will achieve much, while he whose very desires
are small will make but small acquisitions. Of course, I am
not speaking now of definite, measurable matters of fact, in
which the reverse is the case. Of course, it is better to
build a small house and pay for it, than to build a palace and
involve yourself in debt. It is wiser to set yourself a
reasonable task and perform it, than a prodigious one and do
nothing. I am endeavoring to present only one side of a truth
which is many-sided,--and that side is, that great deeds are
done by those who aspire greatly. You may not attain
perfection, but if you strive to be perfect, you will be better
than if you were content to be as good as your neighbors. You
are not, perhaps, the world's coming man; but if you aim at
the completest possible self-development, you will be a far
greater man than if your only aim is to keep out of the poor-
house. "I have taken all knowledge to be my province," said
Lord Bacon. He did not conquer; he could not even overrun his
whole province; but he made vast inroads,--vaster by far than
if he had designed only to occupy a garden-plot in the
Delectable Land. True greatness is a growth, and not an
accident. The bud, brought into light and warmth, may burst
suddenly into flower; but the seed must have been planted, and
the kindly soil must have wrapped it about, and shade and shine
and shower must have wrought down into the darkness, and nursed
and nurtured the tiny germ. The touch of circumstance may
reveal, may even quicken, but cannot create, nobility.

This I reckon to be success in life,--fitness,--perfect
adaptation. I hold him successful, and him only, who has found
or conquered a position in which he can bring himself into full
play. Success is perfect or partial, according as it comes up
to, or falls below, this standard. But entire success is rare
in this world. Success in business, success in ambition, is
not success in life, though it may be comprehended in it. Very
few are the symmetrical lives. Very few of us are working at
the top of our bent. One may give scope to his mechanical
invention, but his poetry is cramped. One has his intellect
at high pressure, but the fires are out under his heart. One
is the bond-servant of love, and Pegasus becomes a dray-horse,
Apollo must keep the pot boiling, and Minerva is hurried with
the fall sewing. So we go, and above us the sun shines, and
the stars throb; and beneath us the snows, and the flowers, and
the blind, instinctive earth; and over all, and in all, God
blessed forever.

Now, then, success being the best thing, we do well to strive
for it; but success being difficult to attain, if not
unattainable, it remains for us to wring from our failures all
the sap and sustenance and succor that are in them, if so be
we may grow thereby to a finer and fuller richness, and hear
one day the rapturous voice bid us come up higher.

And be it remembered, what a man is, not what a man does, is
the measure of success. The deed is but the outflow of the
soul. By their fruits ye shall know THEM. The outward act has
its inward significance, though we may not always interpret it
aright, and its moral aspect depends upon the agent. "In
vain," says Sir Thomas Browne, "we admire the lustre of
anything seen; that which is truly glorious is invisible."
Character, not condition, is the trust of life. A man's own
self is God's most valuable deposit with him. This is not
egotism, but the broadest benevolence. A man can do no good
to the world beyond himself. A stream can rise no higher than
its fountain. A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.
If a man's soul is stunted and gnarled and dwarfed, his actions
will be. If his soul is corrupt and base and petty, so will
his actions be. Faith is the basis of works. Essence
underlies influence. If a man beget an hundred children, and
live many years, and his soul be not filled with good, I say
that an untimely birth is better than he.

When I see, as I sometimes do see, those whom the world calls
unsuccessful, furnished with every virtue and adorned with
every grace, made considerate through suffering, sympathetic
by isolation, spiritedly patient, meek, yet defiant, calm and
contemptuous, tender even of the sorrows and tolerant of the
joys which they despise, enduring the sympathy and accepting
the companionship of weakness because it is kindly offered,
though it be a burden to be dropped just inside the door, and
not a treasure to be taken into the heart's chamber, I am ready
to say, Blessed are the unsuccessful.

Blessed ARE the unsuccessful, the men who have nobly striven
and nobly failed. He alone is in an evil case who has set his
heart on false or selfish or trivial ends. Whether he secure
them or not, he is alike unsuccessful. But he who "loves high"
is king in his own right, though he "live low." His plans may
be abortive, but himself is sure. God may overrule his
desires, and thwart his hopes, and baffle his purposes, but all
things shall work together for his good. Though he fall, he
shall rise again. Every defeat shall be a victory. Every
calamity shall drop down blessing. Inward disappointment shall
minister to enduring joy. From the grapes of sorrow he shall
press the wine of life.

Theodore Winthrop died in the bud of his promise. As I write
that name, hallowed from our olden time, and now baptized anew
for the generations that are to follow, comes back again warm,
bright, midsummer morning, freighted with woe,--that dark, sad
summer morning that wrenched him away from sweet life, and left
silence for song, ashes for beauty,--only cold, impassive clay,
where glowing, vigorous vitality had throbbed and surged.

Scarcely had his fame risen to illumine that early grave, but,
one by one, from his silent desk came those brilliant books,
speaking to all who had ears to hear words of grand resolve and
faith,--words of higher import than their sound,--key-words to
a lofty life; for all the bravery and purity and trust and
truth and tenderness that gleam in golden setting throughout
his books must have been matched with bravery and purity and
trust and truth and tenderness in the soul from which they
sprang. Looking at what might have been accomplished with
endowments so rare, culture so careful, and patience so
untiring, our lament for the dead is not untinged with
bitterness. A mind so well poised, so self-confident, so eager
in its honorable desire for honorable fame, that, without the
stimulus of publication, it could produce work after work,
compact and finished, studded with gems of wit and wisdom,
white and radiant with inward purity,--could polish away
roughness, and toil on alone, pursuing ideal perfection, and
attaining a rare excellence,--surely, here was promise of great
things for the future; but it seemed otherwise to God. A poor
little drummer-boy, not knowing what he did, sped a bullet
straightway to as brave a heart as ever beat, and quenched a
royal life.

I have spoken of Winthrop, but a thousand hearts will supply
each its own name wreathed with cypress and laurel. Were these
lives failures? Is not the grandeur of the sacrifice its
offset? The choice of life or death is in no man's hands. The
choice is only and occasionally in the manner. All must die.
To a few, and only a few, is granted the opportunity of dying
martyrs. They rush on to meet the King of Terrors. They wrest
the crown from his awful brow, and set it on their own
triumphant. They die, not from inevitable age or irresistible
disease, but in the full flush of manhood, in the very prime
and zenith of life, in that glorious transition-hour when hope
is culminating in fruition. They die of set purpose, with
unflinching will, for God and the right. O thrice and four
times happy these who bulwark liberty with their own breasts!
No common urn enshrines their sacred dust. No vulgar marble
emblazons their hero-deeds. Every place which their life has
touched becomes at once and forever holy ground. A nation's
gratitude embalms their memory. In the generations which are
to come, when we are lying in undistinguished earth, mothers
shall lead their little children by the hand, and say: "Here
he was born. This is the blue sky that bent over his baby
head. Here he fell, fighting for his country. Here his ashes
lie";--and the path thither shall be well worn, and for many
and many a year there shall be hushed voices, and trembling
lips, and tear-dimmed eyes. Everywhere there shall be death,--
yours and mine,--but only here and there immortality,--and it
is his.

So the young soldier's passing away is not untimely. The
longest life can accomplish only benefaction and fame, and the
life that has accomplished these has reached life's ultimatum.
It is a fair and decorous fate to devote length of days to
humanity, but he who gathers up his life with all its beauty
and happiness and hope, and lays it on the altar of sacrifice,--
he has done all. A century of earthly existence only scatters
its benefits one by one. The martyr binds his in a single
bundle of life, and the offering is complete. To all noble
minds fame is sweet and desirable, and threescore years and ten
are all too few to carve the monument more durable than brass;
but when such men as Winthrop die such death as his, we seize
the tools that fall from their dying grasp, and complete the
fragmentary structure, in shape more graceful, it may be, in
height more majestic, in colors more lovely, than their own
hands could have wrought. We attribute to them, not simply
what they did, but all that they might have done. Had Winthrop
lived, failing health, adverse circumstance, might have blasted
his promise in the bud; but now nothing of that can ever mar
his fame. We surround him with his aspirations. We glorify
him with his possibilities. He is not only the knight without
fear and without reproach, but the author immortal as the
brightest auspices could have made his strong and growing
powers. A century could not have left him greater than the
love and hope and sorrow of his countrymen, building on the
little that is known of his short and beautiful life, have made

O men and women everywhere who are following on to know the
Lord, faint yet pursuing; men women who are troubled, toiling,
doubting, hoping, watching, struggling; whose attainments
"through the long green days, worn bare of grass and sunshine,"
lag hopelessly behind your aspirations; who are haunted
evermore by the ghosts of your young purposes; who see far off
the shining hills your feet are fain to tread; who work your
work with dumb, assiduous energy, but with perpetual protest,--
I bid you good luck in the name of the Lord.


Long ago, when you were a little boy or a little girl,--perhaps
not so very long ago, either,--were you never interrupted in
your play by being called in to have your face washed, your
hair combed, and your soiled apron exchanged for a clean one,
preparatory to an introduction to Mrs. Smith, or Dr. Jones, or
Aunt Judkins, your mother's early friend? And after being
ushered into that august presence, and made to face a battery
of questions which where either above or below your capacity,
and which you consequently despised as trash or resented as
insult, did you not, as were gleefully vanishing, hear a soft
sigh breathed out upon the air,--"Dear child, he is seeing his
happiest days"? In the concrete, it was Mrs. Smith or Dr.
Jones speaking of you. But going back to general principles,
it was Commonplacedom expressing its opinion of childhood.

There never was a greater piece of absurdity in the world. I
thought so when I was a child, and now I know it; and I desire
here to brand it as at once a platitude and a falsehood. How
the idea gained currency, that childhood is the happiest period
of life, I cannot conceive. How, once started, it kept afloat,
is equally incomprehensible. I should have supposed that the
experience of every sane person would have given the lie to it.
I should have supposed that every soul, as it burst into
flower, would have hurled off the imputation. I can only
account for it by recurring to Lady Mary Wortley Montague's
statistics, and concluding that the fools ARE three out of four
in every person's acquaintance.

I for one lift up my voice emphatically against the assertion,
and do affirm that I think childhood is the most undesirable
portion of human life, and I am thankful to be well out of it.
I look upon it as no better than a mitigated form of slavery.
There is not a child in the land that can call his soul, or his
body, or his jacket his own. A little soft lump of clay he
comes into the world, and is moulded into a vessel of honor or
a vessel of dishonor long before he can put in a word about the
matter. He has no voice as to his education or his training,
what he shall eat, what he shall drink, or wherewithal he shall
be clothed. He has to wait upon the wisdom, the whims, and
often the wickedness of other people. Imagine, my six-foot
friend, how you would feel, to be obliged to wear your woollen
mittens when you desire to bloom out in straw-colored kids, or
to be buttoned into your black waistcoat when your taste leads
you to select your white, or to be forced under your Kossuth
hat when you had set your heart on your black beaver: yet this
is what children are perpetually called on to undergo. Their
wills are just as strong as ours, and their tastes are
stronger, yet they have to bend the one and sacrifice the
other; and they do it under pressure of necessity. Their
reason is not convinced; they are forced to yield to superior
power; and, of all disagreeable things in the world, the most
disagreeable is not to have your own way. When you are grown
up, you wear a print frock because you cannot afford a silk,
or because a silk would be out of place,--you wear India-rubber
overshoes because your polished patent-leather would be ruined
by the mud; and your self-denial is amply compensated by the
reflection of superior fitness or economy. But a child has no
such reflection to console him. He puts on his battered, gray
old shoes because you make him; he hangs up his new trousers
and goes back into his detestable girl's-frock because he will
be punished if he does not, and it is intolerable.

It is of no use to say that this is their discipline, and is
all necessary to their welfare. It is a repulsive condition
of life in which such degrading SURVEILLANCE is necessary.
You may affirm that an absolute despotism is the only
government fit for Dahomey, and I may not disallow it; but when
you go on and say that Dahomey is the happiest country in the
world, why--I refer you to Dogberry. Now the parents of a
child are, from the nature of the case, absolute despots. They
may be wise, and gentle, and doting despots, and the chain may
be satin-smooth and golden-strong; but if it be of rusty iron,
parting every now and then and letting the poor prisoner
violently loose, and again suddenly caught hold of, bringing
him up with a jerk, galling his tender limbs and irretrievably
ruining his temper,--it is all the same; there is no help for
it. And really to look around the world and see the people
that are its fathers and mothers is appalling,--the
narrow-minded, prejudiced, ignorant, ill-tempered, fretful,
peevish, passionate, careworn, harassed men and women. Even
we grown people, independent of them and capable of self-defence,
have as much as we can do to keep the peace. Where is there a
city, or a town, or a village, in which are no bickerings, no
jealousies, no angers, no petty or swollen spites? Then fancy
yourself, instead of the neighbor and occasional visitor of
these poor human beings, their children, subject to their
absolute control, with no power of protest against their

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