Letters of Life/VI

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LETTER VI.


SOCIAL AMUSEMENTS—MENTAL PLEASURES.


Possibly you may imagine, my friend, that the routine of employment sketched in my last might prove the significance of the old proverb, dulness arising from "all work, and no play." Not at all. Every day was lark-like. There was no dulness among us, no nervousness. Indeed, I scarcely ever heard nerves mentioned, and did not suppose that I had any. I am convinced that feminine household industry is conducive to health, and a happy flow of spirits.

Yet there were plenty of amusements in those days, and, from leaving school at so early a period, I was sooner ready to be their participant. I have sometimes wondered that my mother should permit me at thirteen to mingle in those evening sleighing-parties which were the favorite and most exciting kind of winter festivity. Methinks there was more snow then than now, and that it lasted longer. At any rate, it was faithfully improved. The plan of those parties which I have mentioned, was for a select number of young friends of both sexes to wrap themselves up warmly, and soon after tea drive out a few miles to one of those quiet, respectable houses of entertainment, which the rural districts afforded. The season of snow being their time of harvest, they kept in readiness a large room for dancing, and a man who, after the labor of the day, was able and willing with his violin to quicken the "light, fantastic toe." There we amused ourselves for a while with quadrilles and cotillons, waltzes being happily unknown, when some slight refreshment was handed round, and we returned. Gay were our spirits with this exhilarating recreation, yet wonderfully restrained within bounds of decorum. Our party was composed of the sons and daughters of neighbors, or those who associated on intimate terms, and was seldom too large for three well-filled sleighs. Most of us had the affinity of school days, or of hereditary friendship, so that there were many subjects in common to render conversation delightful. Some of us girls were in the habit of recapitulating and prolonging these pleasures by notes, of which the following from a favorite companion, may serve as a specimen:


"Dearest L: Did not we have a good time last evening? Such a moon I We might have seen to work muslin by it. Then the smooth, well-beaten roads, and the snow so high on each side, and all over the fences and fields, like a great white world. I declare it was romantic. The horses enjoyed themselves too. I know they did by their prancing, and seeming to keep time to the bells. I suppose they thought we got up that music for their especial merriment and behoof.

"We succeeded quite well with our new cotillon, did not we? That good old fiddler—I hope he'll live forever—that is, as long as we want him. But those horrid cakes they regaled us with, at last. Not the least light, and scarcely sweet at all. I could have made better ones myself. If that is a specimen of village cookery, I'm glad I don't 'tarry' in their tabernacles.

"Brother thinks it would be a pleasant variety to sing a song or two just before leaving. What do you say? Would not it look too frolicsome? I told him you'd never consent to any thing short of Old Hundred, or St. Martin's. He is half crazy about the 'Battle of the Nile,' and pretends to play it on a flute. You may hear him any hour in the day, and for aught I know, in the night too, shouting the hideous chorus:


'And Nelson, gallant Nelson's name
Immortal shall be.'


Mother thinks he improves mightily, and grows more of a gentleman in the house since he has gone with us nice ladies to these sleighing parties. So she promises we shall go again. That's just right. To please her, and be so happy, and grow wiser too, all at the same time, is a very grand business. So good-bye for the present. Be a good girl, and mind every word your mother says.

"B. Nevins."


The confidence of our parents in us was not misplaced. We were allowed the frequent intercourse of walks amid the varied and pleasant scenery of our native place, and of short evening visits. Conversation between the sexes was social and friendly, though the established manner might seem at this time that of the most distant politeness. To press the hand would have been a thing inadmissible, and to walk arm in arm was considered as an announcement of matrimonial engagement. I mention not these minutiæ as examples, but traits of the times. And looking back upon them through the lapse of years, I think it better to settle in the minds of young people that true basis of propriety and delicacy which will make them a "law to themselves," than to keep watch over them like a sentinel, or divide the sexes as though they were mutual adversaries. Those whom God has ordained to walk together through life's changeful day, it would seem ill-judged and useless for "man to put asunder," through the whole of its fair morning.

Dancing, it will be perceived, was one of our prime forms of entertainment. At a period when the puritanical prejudices against it were still it force, it may be thought strange that my father, with his high standing for piety, should have given it his sanction. But I was indulged in it, probably, from the suggestions of my mother. She reasoned that the exercise was healthful, and the accomplishment conducive to ease and courtesy of manner. Like Addison, she thought a "lady should learn to dance, in order to know how to sit still gracefully." But the argument by which she chiefly prevailed was the isolation of my brotherless and sisterless estate, and innate fondness for solitary musing, which required stronger aid in the full development of social feeling, lest the love of a happy home becoming too intense, should make a selfish character. My sweet sister-mother did not use her eloquence in vain, and her grave husband, who had for years borne the title of Deacon, though without the office, consented that his child should attend a dancing school. As I had adopted the rule to endeavor to excel in whatever I attempted to do, his sacrifice of sentiment, if indeed it was one, was sometimes compensated when he came to escort me home in the evening, and lingered among the spectators, by hearing what is so agreeable to parental ears, a daughter's praise.

Our first teacher was a Frenchman, whose previous history not even Yankee perseverance could elicit. He bore the sobriquet of Colonel, and was disturbed at the name of Bonaparte. It was inferred that he had been aggrieved in some form by his imperial sway, and had in consequence forsaken his native clime. He was tall, gaunt, well stricken in years, and impassable beyond aught we had seen of his mercurial race. His style of instruction betrayed his military genius. He would have been an excellent drill-sergeant. Perfect order was established. We were under a kind of martial law. During the hours of practice not a whisper was heard in our camp. The girls received elementary instruction afternoons, and, when a particular grade of improvement was attained, met and mingled with the other sex for two hours in the evening. Being his own musician, and executing with correctness on the violin, he required a strict adaptation of movement to measure. At his cry of "Balancez!" we all hopped up in a line like so many roasted chestnuts. Low obeisances, lofty promenades to solemn marches, and the elaborate politeness of the days of Louis Quatorze, were inculcated. Many graceful forms of cotillon he taught us, and some strange figures called hornpipes, in which he put forth a few of his show-pupils on exhibition days. They comprised sundry absurd chamois-leaps and muscle-wringing steps, throwing the body into contortions. Being stiff in his joints from age, he could not exemplify these more complex gyrations, but gave out words of command, as if at the head of a regiment. As imperative was he as Frederick the Great, and we as much of automatons as his soldiers. Monsieur le Colonel seemed to regard his elegant art as a species of tactics, a joyless yet bounden duty incumbent on all civilized humanity. But our young, elastic natures were able to clothe and beautify these bare bones. The mere circumstance of being together, timing our movements to sweet sounds, and practising that politeness which has affinity with higher virtues, made us happy.

Afterwards we had teachers of greater indulgence, and who better understood the poetry of motion. Yet our thorough elementary instruction was an evident advantage, and we looked back with the memory of respect to our severe old teacher. Every separate term closed with what was styled a dancing-school ball. Then we were joined by beaux and belles of more advanced age, and prolonged the festivity to a later hour. These were the only occasions on which the dance was continued beyond nine in the evening. The ringing of that curfew put us all to flight, like shot among a bevy of pigeons. Thus, one of the most serious objections against this amusement—its tendency to late hours—was removed. Another, founded on extravagance of dress, was also entirely obviated. I distinctly remember the simple and becoming costume which was deemed sufficient for our most ceremonious assemblages:-a plain white frock, broad blue sash usually passed over one shoulder, shoes of the same color, and hair without ornament, save its own abundant curls, falling richly on the neck. The principal consultation about dress for those balls, with my friend and second self, Nancy Maria Hyde, was wont to resolve itself into the interrogation, "Will you wear a full, or a half mane?" The former implied the whole mass of tresses pendent; the other, a portion of them confined by the comb, and falling gracefully over it. It was pleasant to us to dress with a sisterly similarity, and mane was the term which she had adopted for our chief natural adornment.

Quite satisfied in all respects was my dear mother with the salubrious result of her theory of dancing. If her quick eye chanced to detect—what no other would have discerned—some indication of too close application to books, at the close of a long winter evening, she would allure me, just before retiring, to dance up and down our spacious kitchen, after her own spirited singing of appropriate tunes. Occasionally she used, as a substitute, her own native humor or histrionic powers to elicit laughter, which she said was the friend of good sleep. She coincided, without knowing it, in the philosophy of the Rev. Dr. Edmund Dorr Griffin, who, while president of a college, once convened, during the prevalence of a northeasterly storm, his theological students, addressing them in a solemn, impressive, tone:

"I am satisfied with your class, save in one respect."

Every eye regarded him with earnest attention.

"Of your proficiency in study, your general deportment, I have no complaint to make. Still, there is one essential, one very sad deficiency."

They gazed upon each other, and upon him, with intense and painful curiosity.

"That to which I allude, young gentlemen, is a neglect of the duty of Christian laughter." Then, drawing up to its full height of six feet his large, symmetrical person, and expanding his broad chest, he commanded, "Do as I do," and uttered a peal of hearty, sonorous laughter. After summoning each one separately to imitate his example, and observing how the corrugated muscles untwisted, and the brow cast off its wrinkling thought, he said, "There, that will do for the present." He did not narrate any incident provocative of mirth, as he might readily have done, for he possessed wit as well as eloquence. Probably he deemed it sufficient to enforce the habit, and trust to their own ludicrous resources for themes to sustain it. The risible faculties might be a good counterpoise for polemics. If they were allowed their due exercise, I doubt whether we should have as many cross controversies. If Milton and Salmasius had sacrificed to Momus, instead of concocting bitter objurgations, the world would have been just as wise.

Singing-school was a graver yet much-prized enjoyment of early days. It was the custom of our church to employ a competent teacher for several months in the year, to train her young people in the melodies of Sabbath worship. We were instructed the remainder of the time by our own regular choir-leader.

The gentleman to whom I was first indebted for initiation into the rules and practice of sacred vocal music, was a resident in a distant part of the State. He was somewhat past middle age, of a very comely aspect, and sufficiently scientific. I now recall the thrill of pleasure with which, having completed the rather long process of examining the voice, and what was technically called "learning the gamut," we were permitted to execute our first tune—a simple, common metre, in the minor key. It was called "Lebanon," and is probably out of print in modern collections of music; but its notes, which I now sing while I write, give force to the plaintive words to which they were wedded:


"Lord, what is man?—poor, feeble man,
Born of the earth at first,
His life a shadow, light and vain,
Still hasting to the dust."


We were led on gradually to complex music, elaborate anthems, and some of the noble compositions of Handel. The teacher had in his book some pieces of music not contained in any selections which we had opportunity to purchase. When these were given out, it was necessary to copy them for the classes; and he, being more expert with the voice than the pen, deputed this branch to those most willing to take it. Quantities of such work were accepted by me, until I became accomplished in notation, and was honored with the gratuitous custom of a respectable patron of the choir.

After the reading of the psalm or hymn on Sundays, when he rose in his place, enunciating audibly the name of the tune to be sung, giving the key-tone through the pitch-pipe, raising high his very white hand to beat the time, and scrutinizing every division of his forces with the eye of a commander, I thought him beautiful. The taste of the congregation was decidedly for that plain, slow music in which the devotion of their fathers had clothed itself, and "wherein the majesty of buried Denmark did sometime march." Though he taught this extremely well, he had an innate love for those brisk fugues, where one part leads off, and the rest follow with a sort of belligerent spirit. In these he occasionally indulged, thinking, probably, that the ancient prejudice had better be dismissed, or would be more honored in "the breach than the observance."

Acting on this principle, he one Sabbath morning gave out a tune of the most decidedly lively and stirring character, which we had taken great pains in practising. Its allegro, altissimo opening,


"Raise your triumphant songs
To an immortal tune,"


startled the tranquillity of the congregation, as though a clarion had sounded in their midst. The music, being partially antiphonal, comprehended several stanzas. On we went complacently, until the last two lines:


"No bolts to drive their guilty souls '
To fiercer flames below."


There was the forte of the composer. Of course, it was our duty to give it full expression. Off led the treble, having the air, and expending con spirito upon the adjective "fiercer," especially its first syllable, about fourteen quavers, not counting semis and demis. After us came the tenor, in a more dignified manner, bestowing their principal emphasis on "flames." "No bolts, no bolts," shrieked a sharp counter of boys, whose voices were in the transition-state. But when a heavy bass, like claps of thunder, kept repeating the closing word "below," and finally all parts took up the burden, till, in full diapason, "guilty souls" and "fiercer flames below "reverberated from wall to arch, it was altogether too much for Puritanic patience. Such skirmishing had never before been enacted in that meeting-house. The people were utterly aghast. The most stoical manifested muscular emotion. Our mothers hid their faces with their fans. Up jumped the tithing-man, whose office it was to hunt out and shake refractory boys. The ancient deacons slowly moved in their seats at the foot of the pulpit, as if to say, "Is not there something for us to do in the way of church government?"

As I came down from the gallery, a sharp, gaunt Welsh woman seized me by the arm, saying:

"What was the matter with you all, up there? You begun wery well, only too much like a scrame. Then you went gallivanting off like a parcel of wild colts, and did not sing the tune that you begun—not at all."

How the shrill-voiced old lady, who could not sing, should know what the new tune was, or ought to be, I was not given to understand.

The apartment allotted to our musical instruction was a very large one in the Court-House. Behind a broad table, where, in term time, the lawyers took notes of evidence, or rectified their briefs, sat we girls of the novitiate, technically called the "young treble." In the gallery, raised a few steps above us, were the older, more experienced singers, some of whom were the beautiful belles of the city. If aught in our deportment displeased them, or they fancied us growing too self-complacent, they did not fail to look over the parapet and reprehend us. Our teacher was painfully sensitive to discords. I have seen him set his teeth, and the color forsake his lips, at a succession of false sounds. They were to him what donkeys were to Betsy Trotwood. On such occasions his irritability usually vented itself upon us. Being more susceptible than grammatical, the exclamation usually was, after a picturesque attitude of listening:

"There! it's them young treble."

However, it was not always them young treble. They knew it, and he also. It was safer to reprove us than to offend the more elevated part of his forces, whose irritability, if in proportion to the degree of musical genius, might chance to approach his own. So he accounted us a species of scapegoat. After a little seasoning, this ceased to trouble us. We knew that at heart he did not despise us, because, in other company, he spoke of us as his "nice, hopeful young birds." Considering his impatience as a constitutional infirmity, we were willing to act as a safety-valve for the benefit of the whole. Possibly our amiable philosophy might have been helped by the consciousness that the young gentlemen of our circle were in presence there, either as spectators or members of the choir. Certainly it did not impair our smiling endurance, or our powers of melody. The mutual influence of the sexes in the plastic period of youth has been long conceded. Where there is a right education, refinement, and piety, it is doubtless for good. Association with the excellent of our sex is a protection to young men from many temptations. I have observed that those who from early years have been most constantly in the society either of sisters or judicious female friends, attain a fuller development of those sympathies and virtues which shed happiness around the sphere of the husband and father.

Very pleasant were our familiar forms of social intercourse in the loved land of my birth. In winter, various individuals from our more intimate circle spent an hour or two of the evening unceremoniously at each other's houses. Apples and nuts, the product of our own groves, were the accustomed and adequate entertainment. So many subjects had we in common, that conversation never flagged. Games, however, we had, if desired, and sometimes two of the more contemplative might be seen seated at the checker or draught board. Now and then some stenographic genius found a secret place, and took notes of all that was said, and then, emerging from concealment, read it aloud for the diversion of the dramatis personæ. This, however, was not frequent, and never revealed to the circle until about to part; for, had it been known that there was "a chiel amang us, takin' notes," it might have invaded colloquial freedom, or possibly quickened some scintillation of that spirit with which Johnson said, when told of the designs of Boswell: "If I really supposed, sir, that he contemplated writing my life, I would take his."

In summer we enjoyed a walk after tea, or a short sail on the quiet Yantic, the oars keeping time to the favorite melody of "Row, vassals, row!" or the Canadian Boat-Song. Once or twice in the season we extended our excursion, early in the afternoon, to the distant wood, ostensibly in search of whortleberries, but usually returning with baskets better stocked with wild flowers than fruit. Redolent was that romantic region of Flora's gifts. From the early-wakened arbutus, vainly striving to keep the secret of its sweetness, a regular succession was kept up—the columbine, dancing on its wiry stem; the wild honeysuckle, commonly called the swamp-apple, which we plunged through morasses to secure; the fringed gentian and grass violet, blue as the skies that fostered them; the laurel, luring us to the cliffs; the white lotus sleeping upon the waters, and the magnificent lobelia cardinalis, towering in queenly beauty.

It may possibly be thought, from this rather minute enumeration of domestic employments and social pleasures, that those of the intellect were overlooked. No such thing. There were always space and heart for them. Indeed, I had never so much leisure when waited on by many servants, as at this period of my life, when we had none at all. Time was systematized, work simplified, and no waste of feeling incurred by watchfulness over doubtful fidelity. The mind found its true level, and did not forget its natural aliment. Instincts are prone to take care of themselves. Among them, it seems to me, should be ranked the love of knowledge.

At the time of our removal I was engaged in abridging, for private use, a treatise on Rhetoric, which had been among my favorite school studies. To multiply examples and illustrations of its different figures, gave additional interest to a perusal of the standard poets. A large and elaborate Commonplace Book was also commenced, where selections both in prose and poetry are characterized by solid and serious thought. Its clear and compact chirography is embellished by a few paintings in water colors, more remarkable for adaptation of subject than accuracy of perspective or artistic execution. One in particular, which represents the flight of Eneas from the flames of Troy, and accompanies a copious extract from Dryden's Virgil, is amenable to criticism. The group seem proceeding leisurely down the steps of a temple, whose columns and entablatures, notwithstanding the proximity of the fire, are in an untouched freshness of bright brown. Anchises sits calmly upon the bowed back of his heroic son, as if enjoying the ride, carrying in a section of his purple robe what might seem to be a paper of yellow-headed dolls, intended for his household gods. Eneas, though sorely burdened, finds a hand wherewith to grasp Ascanius, a bewildered-looking little personage in a red frock. The flames shoot up like slender, pointed, red needles, from arches whose integrity is unbroken, and the volumed smoke, in regular half-circles and rhomboids, has a decided tint of azure. Creusa follows closely, with an unmoved aspect, clothed in a flowing garment painted with thick Prussian blue, a corner of which is thrown over her head, like a stiff hood. So decidedly unprepossessing is she, that one is tempted to think her disappearance might not be an irreparable affliction to her lord, though the poet constrains him to exclaim:


"Alas! I lost Creusa—hard to tell
If by her fatal destiny she fell,
Or weary sate, or wandered with affright;
But she was lost forever from my sight."


The faults of my painting in those days, which arose from laying on the colors too thickly, came from incorrect teaching, and were afterwards remedied by more skilful instruction in softening the shades. Still, in its most unscientific state, my pencil was a source of almost daily pleasure. Landscapes and flowers from nature were its chosen themes. Of these the drawing was always accurate, and sometimes spirited, but the coat of water-colors often too heavy, for want of a few simple rules.

Committing passages from the poets to memory, was a systematic exercise. Cowper and Goldsmith were among the first chosen for that purpose. The melody of the latter won both the ear and heart; and "The Deserted Village," or "The Traveller," were voicelessly repeated, after retiring at night, if sleep,


"Like parting summer's lingering bloom delay'd."


With the earnest perusal of Shakspeare and Thomson was interspersed that of the German poets, Klopstock and Kotzebue, and also some of the modern travellers and ancient historians. Among the latter was Josephus, whose study did not, on the whole, produce any great satisfaction. I found myself more attracted by the historians of the Mother Land, still, with immaturity of taste, preferring the conciseness of Goldsmith to the discursive and classic Hume. A reading society of a few young people was commenced and sustained with various fluctuations, where the prescribed course was the history of our own country, with a garnish of the poems of Walter Scott. Attached to this circle were some fine readers, among whom I recollect with unalloyed pleasure the perfect enunciation and emphasis of a lady who afterwards, as the wife of the Rev. Samuel Nott, went out with our first band of missionaries to Asia. Passages from the poets, thus rendered by her, come back over the waste of years with clear, unchanged melody. I think the intonations of fine reading are longer and more definitely recollected than those of music. The latter is sometimes permitted to overpower the words with which it is combined, thus having only the vibrations of the ear, or the transient pleasure of the thrilling nerves to rely upon. But the other, walking hand in hand with sentiment, or deathless knowledge, adheres with augmented force. The young of my own sex are not often fully aware of the value of this elegant attainment of reading, or the influence it might enable them to exert. Half the daily practice required to thrum passably upon the piano, would make them respectable proficients. Narrative and poetry, in their appropriate robe of tuneful utterance, throw a strong charm around the wintry fireside. Parents forget the toil of nurturing the daughter who thus repays them. Perchance the aged grandparents are there to listen with delight, and the deafened ear rejoices in that sweet benevolence which without effort links it to the world of sound. "I quicken my homeward steps," said a young husband at the close of day, "for my wife reads so beautifully that I forget all the toils of business." A man who had been in youth tempted by wild associates, admitted that he was withheld from many allurements to vice by the delightful evening readings of his sister. It is a form of giving pleasure to the invalid or the solitary which the benevolent heart should not disregard. The amiable Miss Hannah Adams, one of our earliest literary women, and the author of a History of the Jews, was thus solaced in her venerable age. Some of the most lovely and accomplished young ladies of Boston went by rotation to read to her such works as renovated and refreshed her mind. The service was appreciated, and spoken of with the warmth and simplicity that characterized her nature.

"They pay me such respect," said she, "that I quite forget that I am old. They sit by my side as if I were their own relative. By their help I travel every day through the world of books; and their tones are so clear, and distinct, and sweet, that sometimes I think I am hearing an angel's song."

Among my solitary satisfactions was a journal. It was commenced of my own accord when a school-girl of eleven. Its sole object then was a record of my studies. One day was almost a fac-simile of the other. The length of the lessons in grammar and geography, history, rhetoric, and philosophy, the number of sums in arithmetic, or problems in geometry, were its unvaried themes. Their only embellishment was a couplet or stanza, savoring of Sternhold and Hopkins, which here and there inserted itself perforce, like a slender grass-blade peeping through the crevices of a log tenement. Feeling that the habit might be conducive to improvement, I recommenced it after leaving school; and having tried my skill in bookbinding upon a large volume of foolscap, whose exterior was marble paper made thick by some of my own paintings pasted on the inside, and interleaved by a map of the world which I had carefully executed, I dedicated it as a journal on my thirteenth birthday. This was done without advice from others, and intended for no eye but my own. Yet it repaid me by becoming a sort of companion and confidant. As I showed it the respect of always writing in it with neatness, and reserving for it my best reflections, instead of smothering it with the froth and ephemera of trifling events, it seemed to yield me a sort of reciprocity, and minister to mental elevation. Indeed, at one time, especially while reading the works of Johnson, it became almost pompous in diction, with aphorisms on the follies and vanities of life better fitted to maturity than girlhood. In process of time the habit became a part of my existence, and the single volume multiplied like the "line of Banquo." By the aid of these many books I can now, when I choose, retrace


"As in a map, the voyager his course,
The windings of my way, for many years."


It sometimes interests me to search out for the passing day, its genealogy through half a century. Turning the manuscript pages, it stands with its fifty sisters before me, like the daughters of Danaus. Each bears its burden of change, its garland of hope—pointing silently to its felicity of progress, or its sum of error and of loss. Each knits into the web of life a slender thread of gold, or sable. Each brings its budding rose, its leaf of cypress, or its spray of evergreen, for the wreath of memory. All, as they fleet away again to the dreamy past, demand praise for the Preserver, whose "mercies are new every morning, and fresh every moment."

The pleasures of written thought into which I had been early initiated, revealed themselves more fully after the removal to our new habitation.

Yet my effusions, of whatever nature they were, I strove to keep in uninvaded secresy. Unsuggested by others, and unambitious of praise, they "hid themselves, like the son of Jesse," among the stuff. Even from my darling mother I concealed them, though in all things else every possession and sympathy were a common stock. Especially in my attempts at poetry was I mysterious and sensitive. It came to me in the beginning, I knew not how. Waking from downy sleep I sometimes received a few lines, and thanked with strange rapture their ethereal giver. Thus I learned to personify the Muse, ere I had read of Urania, and to hold her gifts sacred. Afterwards, when I linked rhymes mechanically, or as an exercise of skill, though they had naught to do with her who at the first "visited me nightly," I regarded them with a shrinking delicacy, and desired no human being to know of their existence. Perhaps the sentiment was morbid, and never perfectly understood by myself. Still, with some modifications, it has ever adhered to me. Though in later years literary effort has become a trade or traffic, a transmutation into gold which the utilitarian prizes, yet contracts with publishers are repugnant to my tastes; and apart from the necessity of circumstances, I am never in the habit of conversing about what I may have been enabled to write, even with the most intimate friend, unless they introduce or press the subject.

Our simple mode of life which I have so hastily sketched for you, dear friend, was eminently happy. Does it seem to you too much burdened by household toils? No; for they were balanced by social and intellectual pleasures. Truly, as well as beautifully, has Ruskin said, that "it is only by labor, that thought can be made healthful; and only by thought, that labor can be made happy. The two cannot be separated with impunity. The worker ought, therefore, to be often thinking, and the thinker to be working."

I feel as if I had but inadequately expressed my gratitude to that spirit of poesy, which, amid the brightest allurements of life's cloudless morning, vouchsafed a still higher and purer enjoyment.


Even now, though that life from its zenith doth wane,
And its morn-gathered garlands grow scentless and vain,
And many a friend who its pilgrimage blest,
Have fallen from my bosom, and gone to their rest—
Yet still by my side, unforgetful and true,
Is the Being who walk'd with me all the way through;
She doth cling to the High Rock wherein is my trust,
Let her chant to my soul when I go to the dust;
Hand in hand with the Faith that my Saviour hath given,
May we kneel at His feet mid the anthems of heaven.[1]



  1. "Western Home and Other Poems," p. 161.