The Atlantic Monthly/Volume 2/Number 4/The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table

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The Atlantic Monthly
The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table by Oliver Wendell Holmes
498237The Atlantic Monthly — The Autocrat of the Breakfast-TableOliver Wendell Holmes


The company looked a little flustered one morning when I came in,--so much so, that I inquired of my neighbor, the divinity-student, what had been going on. It appears that the young fellow whom they call John had taken advantage of my being a little late (I having been rather longer than usual dressing that morning) to circulate several questions involving a quibble or play upon words,--in short, containing that indignity to the human understanding, condemned in the passages from the distinguished moralist of the last century and the illustrious historian of the present, which I cited on a former occasion, and known as a _pun_. After breakfast, one of the boarders handed me a small roll of paper containing some of the questions and their answers. I subjoin two or three of them, to show what a tendency there is to frivolity and meaningless talk in young persons of a certain sort, when not restrained by the presence of more reflective natures.--It was asked, "Why tertian and quartan fevers were like certain short-lived insects." Some interesting physiological relation would be naturally suggested. The inquirer blushes to find that the answer is in the paltry equivocation, that they _skip_ a day or two.--"Why an Englishman must go to the Continent to weaken his grog or punch." The answer proves to have no relation whatever to the temperance-movement, as no better reason is given than that island--(or, as it is absurdly written, _ile and_) water won't mix.--But when I came to the next question and its answer, I felt that patience ceased to be a virtue. "Why an onion is like a piano" is a query that a person of sensibility would be slow to propose; but that in an educated community an individual could be found to answer it in these words,--"Because it smell odious," _quasi_, it's melodious,--is not credible, but too true. I can show you the paper.

Dear reader, I beg your pardon for repeating such things. I know most conversations reported in books are altogether above such trivial details, but folly will come up at every table as surely as purslain and chickweed and sorrel will come up in gardens. This young fellow ought to have talked philosophy, I know perfectly well; but he didn't,--he made jokes.

I am willing,--I said,--to exercise your ingenuity in a rational and contemplative manner.--No, I do not proscribe certain forms of philosophical speculation which involve an approach to the absurd or the ludicrous, such as you may find, for example, in the folio of the Reverend Father Thomas Sanchez, in his famous tractate, "De Sancto Matrimonio." I will therefore turn this levity of yours to profit by reading you a rhymed problem, wrought out by my friend the Professor.



  Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss-shay,
  That was built in such a logical way
  It ran a hundred years to a day,
  And then, of a sudden, it----ah, but stay,
  I'll tell you what happened without delay,
  Scaring the parson into fits,
  Frightening people out of their wits,--
  Have you ever heard of that, I say?

  Seventeen hundred and fifty-five.
  _Georgius Secundus_ was then alive,--
  Snuffy old drone from the German hive!
  That was the year when Lisbon-town
  Saw the earth open and gulp her down,
  And Braddock's army was done so brown,
  Left without a scalp to its crown.
  It was on the terrible Earthquake-day
  That the Deacon finished the one-hoss-shay.

  Now in building of chaises, I tell you what,
  There is always _somewhere_, a weakest spot,--
  In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,
  In panel, or crossbar, or floor, or sill,
  In screw, bolt, thoroughbrace,--lurking still
  Find it somewhere you must and will,--
  Above or below, or within or without,--
  And that's the reason, beyond a doubt,
  A chaise _breaks down_, but doesn't _wear out_,

  But the Deacon swore (as Deacons do,
  With an "I dew vum," or an "I tell _yeou_,")
  He would build one shay to beat the taown
  'n' the keounty 'n' all the kentry raoun';
  It should be so built that it _couldn'_ break daown:
  --"Fur," said the Deacon, "'t's mighty plain
  Thut the weakes' place mus' stan' the strain;
  'n' the way t' fix it, uz I maintain,
    Is only jest
  To make that place uz strong uz the rest."

  So the Deacon inquired of the village folk
  Where he could find the strongest oak,
  That couldn't be split nor bent nor broke,--
  That was for spokes and floor and sills;
  He sent for lancewood to make the thills;
  The crossbars were ash, from the straightest trees;
  The panels of white-wood, that cuts like cheese,
  But lasts like iron for things like these;
  The hubs of logs from the "Settler's ellum,"--
  Last of its timber,--they couldn't sell 'em,--
  Never an axe had seen their chips,
  And the wedges flew from between their lips,
  Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips;
  Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,
  Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too,
  Steel of the finest, bright and blue;
  Thoroughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide;
  Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide
  Found in the pit when the tanner died.
  That was the way he "put her through."--
  "There!" said the Deacon, "naow she'll dew!"

  Do! I tell you, I rather guess
  She was a wonder, and nothing less!
  Colts grew horses, beards turned gray,
  Deacon and deaconess dropped away,
  Children and grand-children--where were they?
  But there stood the stout old one-hoss-shay
  As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day!

  EIGHTEEN HUNDRED;--it came and found
  The Deacon's Masterpiece strong and sound.
  Eighteen hundred increased by ten;--
  "Hahnsum kerridge" they called it then.
  Eighteen hundred and twenty came;--
  Running as usual; much the same.
  Thirty and forty at last arrive,
  And then come fifty, and FIFTY-FIVE.

  Little of all we value here
  Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
  Without both feeling and looking queer.
  In fact, there's nothing that keeps its youth,
  So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
  (This is a moral that runs at large;
  Take it.--You're welcome--No extra charge.)

  FIRST OF NOVEMBER,--the Earthquake-day.--
  There are traces of age in the one-hoss-shay,
  A general flavor of mild decay,
  But nothing local, as one may say.
  There couldn't be,--for the Deacon's art
  Had made it so like in every part
  That there wasn't a chance for one to start.
  For the wheels were just as strong as the thills,
  And the floor was just as strong as the sills,
  And the panels just as strong as the floor,
  And the whippletree neither less nor more,
  And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,
  And spring and axle and hub _encore_.
  And yet, _as a whole_, it is past a doubt
  In another hour it will be _worn out_!

  First of November, 'Fifty-five!
  This morning the parson takes a drive.
  Now, small boys, get out of the way!
  Here comes the wonderful one-hoss-shay,
  Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.
  "Huddup!" said the parson.--Off went they.

  The parson was working his Sunday's text,--
  Had got to _fifthly_, and stopped perplexed
  At what the--Moses--was coming next.
  All at once the horse stood still,
  Close by the meet'n'-house on the hill.
  --First a shiver, and then a thrill,
  Then something decidedly like a spill,--
  And the parson was sitting upon a rock,
  At half-past nine by the meet'n'-house-clock,--
  Just the hour of the Earthquake-shock!
  --What do you think the parson found,
  When he got up and stared around?
  The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
  As if it had been to the mill and ground!
  You see, of course, if you're not a dunce,
  How it went to pieces all at once,--
  All at once, and nothing first,--
  Just as bubbles do when they burst.

  End of the wonderful one-hoss-shay.
  Logic is logic. That's all I say.

--I think there is one habit,--I said to our company a day or two afterwards,--worse than that of punning. It is the gradual substitution of cant or flash terms for words which truly characterize their objects. I have known several very genteel idiots whose whole vocabulary had deliquesced into some half dozen expressions. All things fell into one of two great categories,--_fast_ or _slow_. Man's chief end was to be a _brick_. When the great calamities of life overtook their friends, these last were spoken of as being _a good deal cut up_. Nine-tenths of human existence were summed up in the single word, _bore_. These expressions come to be the algebraic symbols of minds which have grown too weak or indolent to discriminate. They are the blank checks of intellectual bankruptcy;--you may fill them up with what idea you like; it makes no difference, for there are no funds in the treasury upon which they are drawn. Colleges and good-for-nothing smoking-clubs are the places where these conversational fungi spring up most luxuriantly. Don't think I undervalue the proper use and application of a cant word or phrase. It adds piquancy to conversation, as a mushroom does to a sauce. But it is no better than a toadstool, odious to the sense and poisonous to the intellect, when it spawns itself all over the talk of men and youths capable of talking, as it sometimes does. As we hear flash phraseology, it is commonly the dishwater from the washings of English dandyism, school-boy or full-grown, wrung out of a three-volume novel which had sopped it up, or decanted from the pictured urn of Mr. Verdant Green, and diluted to suit the provincial climate.

The young fellow called John spoke up sharply and said, it was

"rum" to hear me "pitchin' into fellers" for "goin' it in the slang line," when I used all the flash words myself just when I pleased.

I replied with my usual forbearance.--Certainly, to give up the

algebraic symbol, because _a_ or _b_ is often a cover for ideal nihility, would be unwise. I have heard a child laboring to express a certain condition, involving a hitherto undescribed sensation, (as it supposed,) all of which could have been sufficiently explained by the participle--_bored_. I have seen a country-clergyman, with a one-story intellect and a one-horse vocabulary, who has consumed his valuable time (and mine) freely, in developing an opinion of a brother-minister's discourse which would have been abundantly characterized by a peach-down-lipped sophomore in the one word--_slow_. Let us discriminate, and be shy of absolute proscription. I am omniverbivorous by nature and training. Passing by such words as are poisonous, I can swallow most others, and chew such as I cannot swallow.

Dandies are not good for much, but they are good for something. They invent or keep in circulation those conversational blank checks or counters just spoken of, which intellectual capitalists may sometimes find it worth their while to borrow of them. They are useful, too, in keeping up the standard of dress, which, but for them, would deteriorate, and become, what some old fools would have it, a matter of convenience, and not of taste and art. Yes, I like dandies well enough,--on one condition.

What is that, Sir?--said the divinity-student.
That they have pluck. I find that lies at the bottom of all true

dandyism. A little boy dressed up very fine, who puts his finger in his mouth and takes to crying, if other boys make fun of him, looks very silly. But if he turns red in the face and knotty in the fists, and makes an example of the biggest of his assailants, throwing off his fine Leghorn and his thickly-buttoned jacket, if necessary, to consummate the act of justice, his small toggery takes on the splendors of the crested helmet that frightened Astyanax. You remember that the Duke said his dandy officers were his best officers. The "Sunday blood," the super-superb sartorial equestrian of our annual Fast-day, is not imposing or dangerous. But such fellows as Brummel and D'Orsay and Byron are not to be snubbed quite so easily. Look out for "la main de fer sous le gant de velours" (which I printed in English the other day without quotation-marks, thinking whether any _scarabaeus criticus_ would add this to his globe and roll in glory with it into the newspapers,--which he didn't do it, in the charming pleonasm of the London language, and therefore I claim the sole merit of exposing the same). A good many powerful and dangerous people have had a decided dash of dandyism about them. There was Alcibiades, the "curled son of Clinias," an accomplished young man, but what would be called a "swell" in these days. There was Aristoteles, a very distinguished writer, of whom you have heard,--a philosopher, in short, whom it took centuries to learn, centuries to unlearn, and is now going to take a generation or more to learn over again. Regular dandy, he was. So was Marcus Antonius: and though he lost his game, he played for big stakes, and it wasn't his dandyism that spoiled his chance. Petrarca was not to be despised as a scholar or a poet, but he was one of the same sort. So was Sir Humphrey Davy; so was Lord Palmerston, formerly, if I am not forgetful. Yes,--a dandy is good for something as such; and dandies such as I was just speaking of have rocked this planet like a cradle,--aye, and left it swinging to this day.--Still, if I were you, I wouldn't go to the tailor's, on the strength of these remarks, and run up a long bill which will render pockets a superfluity in your next suit. _Elegans "nascitur, non fit._" A man is born a dandy, as he is born a poet. There are heads that can't wear hats; there are necks that can't fit cravats; there are jaws that can't fill out collars--(Willis touched this last point in one of his earlier ambrotypes, if I remember rightly); there are _tournures_ nothing can humanize, and movements nothing can subdue to the gracious suavity or elegant languor or stately serenity which belong to different styles of dandyism.

We are forming an aristocracy, as you may observe, in this country,--not a _gratiâ-Dei_, nor a _jure-divino_ one,--but a _de-facto_ upper stratum of being, which floats over the turbid waves of common life as the iridescent film you may have seen spreading over the water about our wharves,--very splendid, though its origin may have been tar, tallow, train-oil, or other such unctuous commodities. I say, then, we are forming an aristocracy; and, transitory as its individual life often is, it maintains itself tolerably, as a whole. Of course, money is its corner-stone. But now observe this. Money kept for two or three generations transforms a race,--I don't mean merely in manners and hereditary culture, but in blood and bone. Money buys air and sunshine, in which children grow up more kindly, of course, than in close, back streets; it buys country-places to give them happy and healthy summers, good nursing, good doctoring, and the best cuts of beef and mutton. When the spring-chickens come to market----I beg your pardon,--that is not what I was going to speak of. As the young females of each successive season come on, the finest specimens among them, other things being equal, are apt to attract those who can afford the expensive luxury of beauty. The physical character of the next generation rises in consequence. It is plain that certain families have in this way acquired an elevated type of face and figure, and that in a small circle of city-connections one may sometimes find models of both sexes which one of the rural counties would find it hard to match from all its townships put together. Because there is a good deal of running down, of degeneration and waste of life, among the richer classes, you must not overlook the equally obvious fact I have just spoken of,--which in one or two generations more will be, I think, much more patent than just now.

The weak point in our chryso-aristocracy is the same I have alluded to in connection with cheap dandyism. Its thorough manhood, its high-caste gallantry, are not so manifest as the plate-glass of its windows and the more or less legitimate heraldry of its coach-panels. It is very curious to observe of how small account military folks are held among our Northern people. Our young men must gild their spurs, but they need not win them. The equal division of property keeps the younger sons of rich people above the necessity of military service. Thus the army loses an element of refinement, and the moneyed upper class forgets what it is to count heroism among its virtues. Still I don't believe in any aristocracy without pluck as its backbone. Ours may show it when the time comes, if it ever does come.

These United States furnish the greatest market for intellectual

_green fruit_ of all the places in the world. I think so, at any rate. The demand for intellectual labor is so enormous and the market so far from nice, that young talent is apt to fare like unripe gooseberries--get plucked to make a fool of. Think of a country which buys eighty thousand copies of the "Proverbial Philosophy," while the author's admiring countrymen have been buying twelve thousand! How can one let his fruit hang in the sun until it gets fully ripe, while there are eighty thousand such hungry mouths ready to swallow it and proclaim its praises? Consequently, there never was such a collection of crude pippins and half-grown windfalls as our native literature displays among its fruits. There are literary green-groceries at every corner, which will buy anything, from a button-pear to a pine-apple. It takes a long apprenticeship to train a whole people to reading and writing. The temptation of money and fame is too great for young people. Do I not remember that glorious moment when the late Mr. ---- we won't say who,--editor of the ---- we won't say what, offered me the sum of fifty cents _per_ double-columned quarto page for shaking my young boughs over his foolscap apron? Was it not an intoxicating vision of gold and glory? I should doubtless have revelled in its wealth and splendor, but for learning the fact that the _fifty cents_ was to be considered a rhetorical embellishment, and by no means a literal expression of past fact or present intention.

Beware of making your moral staple consist of the negative

virtues. It is good to abstain, and teach others to abstain, from all that is sinful or hurtful. But making a business of it leads to emaciation of character, unless one feeds largely also on the more nutritious diet of active sympathetic benevolence.

I don't believe one word of what you are saying,--spoke up the

angular female in black bombazine.

I am sorry you disbelieve it, Madam,--I said, and added softly to my next neighbor,--but you prove it.

The young fellow sitting near me winked; and the divinity-student said, in an undertone,--_Optime dictum_.

Your talking Latin,--said I,--reminds me of an odd trick of one of my old tutors. He read so much of that language, that his English half turned into it. He got caught in town, one hot summer, in pretty close quarters, and wrote, or began to write, a series of city pastorals. Eclogues he called them, and meant to have published them by subscription. I remember some of his verses, if you want to hear them.--You, Sir, (addressing myself to the divinity-student,) and all such as have been through college, or, what is the same thing, received an honorary degree, will understand them without a dictionary. The old man had a great deal to say about "aestivation," as he called it, in opposition, as one might say, to _hibernation_. Intramural festivation, or town-life in summer, he would say, is a peculiar form of suspended existence or semi-asphyxia. One wakes up from it about the beginning of the last week in September. This is what I remember of his poem:--


_An Unpublished Poem, by my late Latin Tutor._

  In candent ire the solar splendor flames;
  The foles, languescent, pend from

arid rances;
  His humid front the cive, anheling, wipes,
  And dreams of erring on ventiferous ripes.

  How dulce to vive occult to mortal eyes,
  Dorm on the herb with none to supervise,
  Carp the suave berries from the crescent vine,
  And bibe the flow from longicaudate kine!

  To me, alas! no verdurous visions come,
  Save yon exigous pool's conferva-scum,--
  No concave vast repeats the tender hue
  That laves my milk-jug with celestial blue!

  Me wretched! Let me curr to quercine shades!
  Effund your albid hausts, lactiferous maids!
  Oh, might I vole to some umbrageous clump,--
  Depart,--be off,--excede,--evade,--crump!

--I have lived by the sea-shore and by the mountains.--No, I am not going to say which is best. The one where your place is is the best for you. But this difference there is: you can domesticate mountains, but the sea is _ferae naturae_. You may have a hut, or know the owner of one, on the mountain-side; you see a light half-way up its ascent in the evening, and you know there is a home, and you might share it. You have noted certain trees, perhaps; you know the particular zone where the hemlocks look so black in October, when the maples and beeches have faded. All its reliefs and intaglios have electrotyped themselves in the medallions that hang round the walls of your memory's chamber.--The sea remembers nothing. It is feline. It licks your feet,--its huge flanks purr very pleasantly for you; but it will crack your bones and eat you, for all that, and wipe the crimsoned foam from its jaws as if nothing had happened. The mountains give their lost children berries and water; the sea mocks their thirst and lets them die. The mountains have a grand, stupid, lovable tranquillity; the sea has a fascinating, treacherous intelligence. The mountains lie about like huge ruminants, their broad backs awful to look upon, but safe to handle. The sea smooths its silver scales until you cannot see their joints,--but their shining is that of a snake's belly, after all.--In deeper suggestiveness I find as great a difference. The mountains dwarf mankind and foreshorten the procession of its long generations. The sea drowns out humanity and time; it has no sympathy with either; for it belongs to eternity, and of that it sings its monotonous song forever and ever.

Yet I should love to have a little box by the sea-shore. I should love to gaze out on the wild feline element from a front window of my own, just as I should love to look on a caged panther, and see it stretch its shining length, and then curl over and lap its smooth sides, and by-and-by begin to lash itself into rage and show its white teeth and spring at its bars, and howl the cry of its mad, but, to me, harmless fury.--And then,--to look at it with that inward eye,--who does not love to shuffle off time and its concerns, at intervals,--to forget who is President and who is Governor, what race he belongs to, what language he speaks, which golden-headed nail of the firmament his particular planetary system is hung upon, and listen to the great liquid metronome as it beats its solemn measure, steadily swinging when the solo or duet of human life began, and to swing just as steadily after the human chorus has died out and man is a fossil on its shores?

--What should decide one, in choosing a summer residence?--Constitution, first of all. How much snow could you melt in an hour, if you were planted in a hogshead of it? Comfort is essential to enjoyment. All sensitive people should remember that persons in easy circumstances suffer much more from cold in summer--that is, the warm half of the year--than in winter, or the other half. You must cut your climate to your constitution, as much as your clothing to your shape. After this, consult your taste and convenience. But if you would be happy in Berkshire, you must carry mountains in your brain; and if you would enjoy Nahant, you must have an ocean in your soul. Nature plays at dominos with you; you must match her piece, or she will never give it up to you.

The schoolmistress said, in rather a mischievous way, that she was

afraid some minds or souls would be a little crowded, if they took in the Rocky Mountains or the Atlantic.

Have you ever read the little book called "The Stars and the Earth?"--said I.--Have you seen the Declaration of Independence photographed in a surface that a fly's foot would cover? The forms or conditions of Time and Space, as Kant will tell you, are nothing in themselves,--only our way of looking at things. You are right, I think, however, in recognizing the category of Space as being quite as applicable to minds as to the outer world. Every man of reflection is vaguely conscious of an imperfectly-defined circle which is drawn about his intellect. He has a perfectly clear sense that the fragments of his intellectual circle include the curves of many other minds of which he is cognizant. He often recognizes those as manifestly concentric with his own, but of less radius. On the other hand, when we find a portion of an arc outside of our own, we say it _intersects_ ours, but are very slow to confess or to see that it _circumscribes_ it. Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions. After looking at the Alps, I felt that my mind had been stretched beyond the limits of its elasticity, and fitted so loosely on my old ideas of space that I had to spread these to fit it.

If I thought I should ever see the Alps!--said the schoolmistress.

Perhaps you will, some time or other,--I said.

It is not very likely,--she answered.--I have had one or two opportunities, but I had rather be anything than governess in a rich family.

Proud, too, you little soft-voiced woman! Well, I can't say I like you any the worse for it. How long will schoolkeeping take to kill you? Is it possible the poor thing works with her needle, too? I don't like those marks on the side of her forefinger.

_Tableau_. Chamouni. Mont Blanc in full view. Figures in the foreground; two of them standing apart; one of them a gentleman of----oh,--ah,--yes! the other a lady in a white cashmere, leaning on his shoulder.--The ingenuous reader will understand that this was an internal, private, personal, subjective diorama, seen for one instant on the background of my own consciousness, and abolished into black non-entity by the first question which recalled me to actual life, as suddenly as if one of those iron shop-blinds (which I always pass at dusk with a shiver, expecting to stumble over some poor but honest shop-boy's head, just taken off by its sudden and unexpected descent, and left outside upon the sidewalk) had come down "by the run."

Should you like to hear what moderate wishes life brings one to at

last? I used to be very ambitious,--wasteful, extravagant, and luxurious in all my fancies. Head too much in the "Arabian Nights." Must have the lamp,--couldn't do without the ring. Exercise every morning on the brazen horse. Plump down into castles as full of little milk-white princesses as a nest is of young sparrows. All love me dearly at once.--Charming idea of life, but too high-colored for the reality. I have outgrown all this; my tastes have become exceedingly primitive,--almost, perhaps, ascetic. We carry happiness into our condition, but must not hope to find it there. I think you will be willing to hear some lines which embody the subdued and limited desires of my maturity.


  "Man wants but little here below."

  Little I ask; my wants are few;
    I only wish a hut of stone,
  (A _very plain_ brown stone will do,)
    That I may call my own:--
  And close at hand is such a one,
  In yonder street that fro

  Plain food is quite enough for me;
    Three courses are as good as ten;--
  If Nature can subsist on three,
        Thank Heaven for three. Amen!
  I always thought cold victual nice;--
  My choice would be vanilla-ice.

  I care not much for gold or land;--
    Give me a mortgage here and there,--
  Some good bank-stock,--some note of hand,
        Or trifling railroad share;--
  I only ask that Fortune send
  A _little_ more than I shall spend.

  Honors are silly toys, I know,
    And titles are but empty names;--
  I would, _perhaps_, be Plenipo,--
        But only near St. James;--
  I'm very sure I should not care
  To fill our Gubernator's chair.

  Jewels are baubles; 'tis a sin
    To care for such unfruitful things;--
  One good-sized diamond in a pin,--
        Some, _not so large_, in rings,--
  A ruby, and a pearl, or so,
  Will do for me;--I laugh at show.

  My dame should dress in cheap attire;
    (Good, heavy silks are never dear;)--
  I own perhaps I _might_ desire
        Some shawls of true cashmere,--
  Some marrowy crapes of China silk,
  Like wrinkled skins on scalded milk.

  I would not have the horse I drive
    So fast that folks must stop and stare;
  An easy gait--two, forty-five--
        Suits me; I do not care;--
  Perhaps, for just a _single spurt_,
  Some seconds less would do no hurt.

  Of pictures, I should like to own
    Titians and Raphaels three or four,--
  I love so much their style and tone,--
        One Turner, and no more
  (A landscape,--foreground golden dirt;
  The sunshine painted with a squirt).

  Of books but few,--some fifty score
    For daily use, and bound for wear;
  The rest upon an upper floor;--
        Some _little_ luxury _there_
  Of red morocco's gilded gleam,
  And vellum rich as country cream.

  Busts, cameos, gems,--such things as these,
    Which others often show for pride,
  _I_ value for their power to please,
        And selfish churls deride;--
  _One_ Stradivarius, I confess,
  _Two_ Meerschaums, I would fain possess.

  Wealth's wasteful tricks I will not learn,
    Nor ape the glittering upstart fool;--
  Shall not carved tables serve my turn,
        But _all_ must be of buhl?
  Give grasping pomp its double share,--
  I ask but _one_ recumbent chair.

  Thus humble let me live and die,
    Nor long for Midas' golden touch;
  If Heaven more generous gifts deny,
        I shall not miss them _much_.--
  Too grateful for the blessing lent
  Of simple tastes and mind content!

(_A Parenthesis_.)

I can't say just how many walks she and I had taken together before this one. I found the effect of going out every morning was decidedly favorable on her health. Two pleasing dimples, the places for which were just marked when she came, played, shadowy, in her freshening cheeks when she smiled and nodded good-morning to me from the schoolhouse-steps.

I am afraid I did the greater part of the talking. At any rate, if I should try to report all that I said during the first half-dozen walks we took together, I fear that I might receive a gentle hint from my friends the publishers, that a separate volume, at my own risk and expense, would be the proper method of bringing them before the public.

———I would have a woman as true as Death. At the first real lie which works from the heart outward, she should be tenderly chloroformed into a better world, where she can have an angel for a governess, and feed on strange fruits which will make her all over again, even to her bones and marrow.--Whether gifted with the accident of beauty or not, she should have been moulded in the rose-red clay of Love, before the breath of life made a moving mortal of her. Love-capacity is a congenital endowment; and I think, after a while, one gets to know the warm-hued natures it belongs to from the pretty pipe-clay counterfeits of it.--Proud she may