Atlantic Monthly Volume 6, No. 37, November, 1860

Part 4 out of 5

in her nature far less; but with the stream, the fountain also had
dried, and she was conscious that an aridness, unpleasant and unnatural,
threatened to desolate her soul, and her conflict with this had been the
hardest battle of all. It is so hard to love voluntarily,--to satisfy
one's self with minor affections,--to know that life offers no more its
grandest culmination, its divinest triumph,--to accept a succession of
wax-lights because the sun and the day can return no more,--above all,
to feel that the capacity of receiving that sunlight is fled,--that, so
far, one's own power is eternally narrowed, like the loss of a right
hand or the blinding of a right eye! Patience endures it, but even
patience weeps to think how the fair intent of the Maker is marred,--to
see the mutilated image, the brokenness of perfection!

Not that 'Tenty was conscious of all these ideas. They simplified
themselves to her simple nature in a brief soliloquy, as she sat looking
at the splendid haze of October, glorifying the scarlet maples and
yellow elms of Deerfield Street, now steeped in a sunset of purpled
crimson that struck its level rays across the sapphire hill-tops
and transfigured briefly that melancholy earth dying into winter's

"Well, it is curious to think I ever cared so much for anybody as I did
for Ned Parker! poor, selfish cre'tur', just playing with me for fun,
as our kitty does with a mouse! and I re'lly thought he was a fine man!
Live and learn, I declare for't! He let me know what kind of cre'turs
men are, though. I haven't had to be pestered with one all my life, I'm
thankful: that's one good thing to come out of evil. I don't know but
what I should like to feel as wide awake again as I did then; but
'tisn't worth the price."

Saying which, Miss 'Tenty brewed her tea, spread her bread and butter,
and with a bit of cheese made her savory meal, cleared it away, washed
the dishes, and resumed her work as peacefully as if her life had been
all as serene as today.

Ned Parker did come back to Deerfield, and settled there,--a coarse,
red-faced, stout, sailor-like man, with a wooden leg. Ten years in
Patagonia and ten years of whaling had not improved his aspect or his
morals. He swore like a pirate, chewed, smoked a pipe, and now and then
drank to excess; and by way of elegant diversion to these amusements,
fell in love with Content Scranton! Her trim figure, her bright,
cheerful face, her pretty, neat little house and garden, the rumored
"interest-money," that was the fruit of years of hard work and saving,
all attracted this lazy, selfish man, who, remembering his youth,
fancied he had only to ask, to receive; and was struck with astonishment
to hear,--

"No, thank you," in a very calm, clear tone, answered to his

"Good Lord! you women are queer craft! I swear, I thought you'd lay to
when I h'isted signals; I ha'n't forgot past times and the meetin'-house
steps, if you have, 'Tenty Scranton."

"You've forgotten Hannah-Ann Hall, I guess," retorted the indignant
little woman.

Ned Parker swore a great oath; he _had_ forgotten that passage,--though
only for a moment.

"Look here!" said 'Tenty, coloring with quiet wrath. "I cannot be
friendly, even, with a man that talks that way. You had your sport,
makin' believe you liked me, and I didn't know better than to believe
you was an honest man. I did think a sight of you then, Ed'ard Parker. I
a'n't ashamed to own it. I had reason to,--for your actions was louder
than words. But when I come to know you hadn't meant nothing by all your
praises and kisses and fine words, except just to have your own fun
while you stayed, no matter what become of me, I see, after I'd got the
tears out of my eyes, what kind of a self-seekin', mean, paltry man it
was that could carry on so with an innocent young girl, and I hadn't no
more respect for you than I have for a potato-peeling. I've lived to
bless the Lord that kept me from you, and I a'n't going to take my
blessings back. It's because I do remember them times that I say No,
now. Your locket is at the bottom of our well; but any love I had with
it is drowned deeper, down to the bottom of nothing. I wish you well,
and to mend your ways; but I don't want to see you here, never!"

After this pungent dismission, nothing was left for Ned Parker but to
hobble from the house, cursing to himself for shame, while 'Tenty buried
her face in her apron and cried as bitterly as if fifteen, instead of
fifty, assailed her with its sorrows.

Why did she cry? Who knows? Perhaps, if you, my dear friend, longing for
the face that bloomed, the lips that kissed, the eyes that smiled for
you, years ago, should suddenly be confronted by those features, after
years of death and decay had done their ghastly work on them, bones
grinning from their clinging morsels of clay, you, too, might hide your
head and cry with terror and disgust and regret. And again you might
not. As I said before, who knows?

But after this, Content subsided into her peaceful routine. Ned Parker
drank himself into delirium-tremens, spent all his money, and came upon
the town. But at that juncture, the Reverend Everett Goodyear, Parson
Goodyear's son and successor, interfered in his behalf, hired a room
and a nurse for him, and had him taken care of in the most generous and
faithful way for the remaining year-and-a-half of his life. Mr. Goodyear
said he was acting for Parker's friends; some said he had a rich uncle,
who was moved to compassion at last; some thought it was Hannah-Ann
Hall; but only one person knew, and she said nothing.

The day Ned Parker died, the young minister stepped in to see 'Tenty
Scran', and told her he was gone. Content did not cry nor smile.

"I'm glad he's rested," said she; "though I haven't no certainty about
his state hereafter."

"You must leave that with the Lord, Miss Content," said Mr. Goodyear.
"You have done what was right; you can't think He will do less."

"That's a fact; and now I expect my last trouble is over."

"But it has taken almost all your money," hesitatingly replied the

"Well, that's the least of my concerns, Mr. Goodyear," smiled 'Tenty.
"I'm spared my hands yet, and I sha'n't want for nothing while they
last. When I get helpless, I expect the Lord will take care of me. I
sha'n't worry about it till it comes."

"That is philosophy, certainly," said Mr. Goodyear.

"I don't know as it's that; but I guess it's six of common-sense and
half-a-dozen of religion; I always thought they was near about the same
thing. Fact is, people don't die of troubles in this world; they die of
frettin' at 'em, only they don't seem to know it."

"According to that rule, you won't die this long time, Miss 'Tenty,"
said the minister, unable to resist a smile.

"Well, I don't know, Sir. I guess I shall live as long as I want to; and
I expect I shall die content. I a'n't troubled."

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth," murmured Mr.
Goodyear, as he walked away.

* * * * *



You are aware that one of the most interesting reunions of men connected
with literary pursuits in England is at the annual dinner of the
"Literary Fund,"--the management of which has been so often dissected of
late by Dickens and others. It is a fund for disabled authors; and, like
most other British charities, requires to be fed annually by a public
dinner. A notable occasion of this kind happened on the 11th of May,
1842. It was at this that I first met Mr. Irving in Europe. The
president of the festival was no less than the Queen's young husband,
Prince Albert,--his first appearance in that (presidential) capacity.
His three speeches were more than respectable, for a prince; they were
a _positive_ success. In the course of the evening we had speeches by
Hallam and Lord Mahon for the historians; Campbell and Moore for the
poets; Talfourd for the dramatists and the bar; Sir Roderick Murchison
for the _savans_; Chevalier Bunsen and Baron Brunnow for the
diplomatists; G. P. R. James for the novelists; the Bishop of
Gloucester; Gally Knight, the antiquary; and a goodly sprinkling of
peers, _not_ famed as authors. Edward Everett was present as American
Minister; and Washington Irving (then on his way to Madrid in diplomatic
capacity) represented American authors. Such an array of speakers in
a single evening is rare indeed, and it was an occasion long to be

The toasts and speeches were, of course, very precisely arranged
beforehand, as etiquette requires, I suppose, being in the presence of
"His Royal Highness," yet most of them were animated and characteristic.
When "Washington Irving and American Literature" was propounded by the
fugleman at the elbow of H.R.H., the cheering was vociferously hearty
and cordial, and the interest and curiosity to see and hear Geoffrey
Crayon seemed to be intense. His name appeared to touch the finest
chords of genial sympathy and good-will. The other famous men of the
evening had been listened to with respect and deference, but Mr.
Irving's name inspired genuine enthusiasm. We had been listening to the
learned Hallam, and the sparkling Moore,--to the classic and fluent
author of "Ion," and to the "Bard of Hope,"--to the historic and
theologic diplomate from Prussia, and to the stately representative of
the Czar. A dozen well-prepared sentiments had been responded to in as
many different speeches. "The Mariners of England," "And doth not
a meeting like this make amends," had been sung, to the evident
satisfaction of the authors of those lyrics--(Campbell, by-the-way, who
was near my seat, had to be "regulated" in his speech by his friend and
publisher, Moxon, lest H.R.H. should be scandalized). And now everybody
was on tiptoe for the author of "Bracebridge Hall." If his speech had
been proportioned to the cheers which greeted him, it would have been
the longest of the evening. When, therefore, he simply said, in his
modest, beseeching manner, "I beg to return you my very sincere thanks,"
his brevity seemed almost ungracious to those who didn't know that it
was physically impossible for him to make a speech. It was vexatious
that routine had omitted from the list of speakers Mr. Everett, who
was at Irving's side; but, as diplomate, the Prussian and Russian
had precedence, and as American author, Irving, of course, was
the representative man. An Englishman near me said to his
neighbor,--"Brief?" "Yes, but you can tell the _gentleman_ in the very
tone of his voice."

In the hat-room I was amused to see "little Tom Moore" in the crowd,
appealing, with mock-pathos, to Irving, as the biggest man, to pass his
ticket, lest he should be demolished in the crush. They left the hall
together to encounter a heavy shower; and Moore, in his "Diary," tells
the following further incident.

"The best thing of the evening (as far as I was concerned) occurred
after the whole grand show was over. Irving and I came away together,
and we had hardly got into the street, when a most pelting shower came
on, and cabs and umbrellas were in requisition in all directions. As
we were provided with neither, our plight was becoming serious, when a
common cad ran up to me, and said,--'Shall I get you a cab, Mr. Moore?
Sure, a'n't I the man that patronizes your Melodies?' He then ran off in
search of a vehicle, while Irving and I stood close up, like a pair of
male caryatides, under the very narrow protection of a hall-door ledge,
and thought, at last, that we were quite forgotten by my patron. But
he came faithfully back, and while putting me into the cab, (without
minding at all the trifle I gave him for his trouble,) he said
confidentially in my ear,--'Now mind, whenever you want a cab, Misthur
Moore, just call for Tim Flaherty, and I'm your man.'--Now, this I call
_fame_, and of somewhat more agreeable kind than that of Dante, when
the women in the street found him out by the marks of hell-fire on his

When I said that Mr. Irving could not speak in public, I had forgotten
that he did once get through with a very nice little speech on such an
occasion as that just alluded to. It was at an entertainment given in
1837, at the old City Hotel in New York, by the New York booksellers to
American authors. Many of "the Trade" will remember the good things said
on that evening, and among them Mr. Irving's speech about Halleck,
and about Rogers the poet, as the "friend of American genius." At my
request, he afterwards wrote out his remarks, which were printed in the
papers of the day. Probably this was his last, if not his best effort in
this line; for the Dickens-dinner remarks were not _complete_.

In 1845, Mr. Irving came to London from his post at Madrid, on a short
visit to his friend, Mr. McLane, then American Minister to England. It
was my privilege at that time to know him more domestically than before.
It was pleasant to have him at my table at "Knickerbocker Cottage." With
his permission, a quiet party of four was made up;--the others being
Dr. Beattie, the friend and biographer of Campbell; Samuel Carter Hall,
the _litterateur_, and editor of the "Art Journal"; and William Howitt.
Irving was much interested in what Dr. Beattie had to tell about
Campbell, and especially so in Carter Hall's stories of Moore and his
patron, Lord Lansdowne. Moore, at this time, was in ill-health and shut
up from the world. I need not attempt to quote the conversation. Irving
had been somewhat intimate with Moore in former days, and found him
doubtless an entertaining and lively companion,--but his replies to
Hall about the "patronage" of my Lord Lansdowne, etc., indicated pretty
clearly that he had no sympathy with the _small_ traits and parasitical
tendencies of Moore's character. If there was anything specially
detestable to Irving and at variance with his very nature, it was that
self-seeking deference to wealth and station which was so characteristic
of the Irish poet.

I had hinted to one of my guests that Mr. Irving was sometimes "caught
napping" even at the dinner-table, so that such an event should not
occasion surprise. The conversation proved so interesting that I had
almost claimed a victory, when, lo! a slight lull in the talk disclosed
the fact that our respected guest was nodding. I believe it was a
habit with him, for many years, thus to take "forty winks" at the
dinner-table. Still, the conversation of that evening was a rich
treat, and my English friends frequently thanked me afterwards for the
opportunity of meeting "the man of all others whom they desired to

The term of Mr. Irving's contract with his Philadelphia publishers
expired in 1843, and, for five years, his works remained _in statu quo_,
no American publisher appearing to think them of sufficient importance
to propose definitely for a new edition. Surprising as this fact appears
now, it is actually true that Mr. Irving began to think his works had
"rusted out" and were "defunct,"--for nobody offered to reproduce them.
Being, in 1848, again settled in Now York, and apparently able to render
suitable business-attention to the enterprise, I ambitiously proposed an
arrangement to publish Irving's Works. My suggestion was made in a
brief note, written on the impulse of the moment; but (what was more
remarkable) it was promptly accepted without the change of a single
figure or a single stipulation. It is sufficient to remark, that the
number of volumes since printed of these works (including the later
ones) amounts to about eight hundred thousand.

The relations of friendship--I cannot say intimacy--to which this
arrangement admitted me were such as any man might have enjoyed with
proud satisfaction. I had always too much earnest _respect_ for Mr.
Irving ever to claim familiar intimacy with him. He was a man who would
unconsciously and quietly command deferential regard and consideration;
for in all his ways and words there was the atmosphere of true
refinement. He was emphatically a gentleman, in the best sense of that
word. Never forbidding or morose, he was at times (indeed always, when
quite well) full of genial humor,--sometimes overflowing with fun. But I
need not, here at least, attempt to sum up his characteristics.

That "Sunnyside" home was too inviting to those who were privileged
there to allow any proper opportunity for a visit to pass unimproved.
Indeed, it became so attractive to strangers and lion-hunters, that some
of those whose _entree_ was quite legitimate and acceptable refrained,
especially during the last two years, from adding to the heavy tax which
casual visitors began to levy upon the quiet hours of the host. Ten
years ago, when Mr. Irving was in his best estate of health and spirits,
when his mood was of the sunniest, and Wolfert's Roost was in the
spring-time of its charms, it was my fortune to pass a few days there
with my wife. Mr. Irving himself drove a snug pair of ponies down to the
steamboat to meet us--(for, even then, Thackeray's "one old horse" was
not the only resource in the Sunnyside stables). The drive of two miles
from Tarrytown to that delicious lane which leads to the Roost,--who
does not know all that, and how charming it is? Five hundred
descriptions of the Tappan Sea and the region round about have not
exhausted it. The modest cottage, almost buried under the luxuriant
Melrose ivy, was then just made what it is,--a picturesque and
comfortable retreat for a man of tastes and habits like those of
Geoffrey Crayon,--snug and modest, but yet, with all its surroundings,
a fit residence for a gentleman who had means to make everything
suitable as well as handsome about him. Of this a word anon.

I do not presume to write of the home-details of Sunnyside, further than
to say that this delightful visit of three or four days gave us the
impression that Mr. Irving's element seemed to be at home, as head of
the family. He took us for a stroll over the grounds,--some twenty acres
of wood and dell, with babbling brooks,--pointing out innumerable trees
which he had planted with his own hands, and telling us anecdotes
and reminiscences of his early life:--of his being taken in the
Mediterranean by pirates;--of his standing on the pier at Messina, in
Sicily, and looking at Nelson's fleet sweeping by on its way to the
Battle of Trafalgar;--of his failure to see the interior of Milan
Cathedral, because it was being decorated for the coronation of the
first Napoleon;--of his adventures in Rome with Allston, and how near
Geoffrey Crayon came to being an artist;--of Talleyrand, and many other
celebrities;--and of incidents which seemed to take us back to a former
generation. Often at this and subsequent visits I ventured to suggest,
(not professionally,) after some of these reminiscences, "I hope you
have taken time to make a note of these";--but the oracle nodded a sort
of humorous No.--A drive to Sleepy Hollow--Mr. Irving again managing
the ponies himself--crowned our visit; and with such a coachman and
guide, in such regions, we were not altogether unable to appreciate the

You are aware that in "Knickerbocker," especially, Mr. Irving made
copious revisions and additions, when the new edition was published in
1848. The original edition (1809) was dedicated with mock gravity to the
New York Historical Society; and the preface to the revision explains
the origin and intent of the work. Probably some of the more
literal-minded grandsons of Holland were somewhat unappreciative of the
precise scope of the author's genius and the bent of his humor; but if
this "veritable history" really elicited any "doubts" or any hostility,
at the time, such misapprehension has doubtless been long since removed.
It has often been remarked that Diedrich Knickerbocker had really
enlisted more practical interest in the early annals of his native State
than all other historians together, down to his time. But for him we
might never have had an O'Callaghan or a Brodhead.

The "Sketch-Book" also received considerable new matter in the revised
edition; and the story, in the preface, of the author's connection with
Scott and with Murray added new interest to the volume, which has always
been _the_ favorite with the public. You will remember Mr. Bryant's
remark about the change in the tone of Mr. Irving's temperament shown in
this work as contrasted with Knickerbocker, and the probable cause of
this change. Mr. Bryant's very delicate and judicious reference to
the fact of Mr. Irving's early engagement was undoubtedly correct. A
miniature of a young lady, intellectual, refined, and beautiful, was
handed me one day by Mr. Irving, with the request that I would have a
slight injury repaired by an artist and a new case made for it, the old
one being actually worn out by much use. The painting (on ivory) was
exquisitely fine. When I returned it to him in a suitable velvet case,
he took it to a quiet corner and looked intently on the face for some
minutes, apparently unobserved, his tears falling freely on the glass as
he gazed. That this was a miniature of the lady,--Miss Hoffman, a sister
of Ogden Hoffman,--it is not now, perhaps, indelicate to surmise. It
is for a poet to characterize the nature of an attachment so loyal, so
fresh, and so fragrant, _forty years_ after death had snatched away the
mortal part of the object of affection.

During one of his visits to the city, Mr. Irving suddenly asked if I
could give him a bed at my house at Staten Island. I could. So we had
a nice chatty evening, and the next morning we took him on a charming
drive over the hills of Staten. Island. He seemed to enjoy it highly,
for be had not been there, I believe, since he was stationed there in a
military capacity, during the War of 1812, as aid of Governor Tompkins.
He gave us a humorous account of some of his equestrian performances,
and those of the Governor, while on duty at the island; but neither
his valor nor the Governor's was tested by any actual contact with the

In facility of composition, Mr. Irving, I believe, was peculiarly
influenced by "moods." When in his usual good health, and the spirit was
on him, he wrote very rapidly; but at other times composition was an
irksome task, or even an impossible one. Dr. Peters says he frequently
rose from his bed in the night and wrote for hours together. Then again
he would not touch his pen for weeks. I believe his most rapidly written
work was the one often pronounced his most spirited one, and a model as
a biography, the "Life of Goldsmith." Sitting at my desk one day, he
was looking at Forster's clever work, which I proposed to reprint. He
remarked that it was a favorite theme of his, and he had half a mind to
pursue it, and extend into a volume a sketch he had once made for an
edition of Goldsmith's Works. I expressed a hope that he would do so,
and within sixty days the first sheets of Irving's "Goldsmith" were in
the printer's hands. The press (as he says) was "dogging at his heels,"
for in two or three weeks the volume was published.

Visiting London shortly after the "Life of Mahomet" was prepared for
the press, I arranged with Mr. Murray, on the author's behalf, for an
English edition of "Mahomet," "Goldsmith," etc., and took a request from
Mr. Irving to his old friend Leslie, that he would make a true sketch of
the venerable Diedrich Knickerbocker. Mr. Irving insisted that the great
historian of the Manhattoes was not the vulgar old fellow they would
keep putting on the omnibuses and ice-carts; but that, though quaint and
old-fashioned, he was still of gentle blood. Leslie's sketches, however,
(he made two,) did not hit the mark exactly; Mr. Irving liked Darley's

Among the briefer visits to Sunnyside which I had the good-fortune
to enjoy was one with the estimable compiler of the "Dictionary of
Authors." Mr. Irving's amiable and hospitable nature prompted him always
to welcome visitors so kindly, that no one, however dull, and however
uncertain his claims, would fail to be pleased with his visit. But
when the genial host was in good health and in his best moods, and the
visitor had any magnetism in his composition, when he found, in short,
a kindred spirit, his talk was of the choicest. Of Sir Walter Scott,
especially, he would tell us much that was interesting. Probably no two
writers ever appreciated each other more heartily than Scott and Irving.
The sterling good sense, and quiet, yet rich humor of Scott, as well as
his literary tastes and wonderful fund of legendary lore, would find
no more intelligent and discriminating admirer than Irving; while the
rollicking fun of the veritable Diedrich and the delicate fancy and
pathos of Crayon were doubtless unaffectedly enjoyed by the great
Scotsman. I wish I could tell you accurately one-half of the anecdotes
which were so pleasantly related during those various brief visits at
"the Cottage"; but I did not go there to take notes, and it is wicked to
spoil good stories by misquotation. One story, however, I may venture to

You remember how the author of the "Pleasures of Hope" was once
hospitably entertained by worthy people, under the supposition that he
was the excellent missionary Campbell, just returned from Africa,--and
how the massive man of state, Daniel Webster, had repeated occasion, in
England, to disclaim honors meant for Noah, the man of words. Mr. Irving
told, with great glee, a little story against himself, illustrating
these uncertainties of distant fame. Making a small purchase at a shop
in England, not long after his second or third work had given currency
to his name, he gave his address ("Mr. Irving, Number," etc.) for the
parcel to be sent to his lodgings. The salesman's face brightened: "Is
it possible," said he, "that I have the pleasure of serving Mr. Irving?"
The question, and the manner of it, indicated profound respect and
admiration. A modest and smiling acknowledgment was inevitable. A few
more remarks indicated still more deferential interest on the part of
the man of tape; and then another question, about Mr. Irving's "latest
work," revealed the pleasant fact that he was addressed as the famous
Edward Irving, of the Scotch Church,--the man of divers tongues.
The very existence of the "Sketch-Book" was probably unknown to his
intelligent admirer. "All I could do," added Mr. Crayon, with that rich
twinkle in his eye,--"all I could do was to take my tail between my legs
and slink away in the smallest possible compass."

A word more about Mr. Irving's manner of life. The impression given by
Thackeray, in his notice (genial enough, and well-meant, doubtless) of
Irving's death, is absurdly inaccurate. His picture of the "one old
horse," the plain little house, etc., would lead one to imagine Mr.
Irving a weak, good-natured old man, amiably, but parsimoniously, saving
up his pennies for his "eleven nieces," (!) and to this end stinting
himself, among other ways, to "a single glass of wine," etc., etc.
Mr. Thackeray's notions of style and state and liveried retinues are
probably not entirely un-English, notwithstanding he wields so sharp a
pen against England's snobs; and he may naturally have looked for more
display of greatness at the residence of an ex-ambassador. But he
could scarcely appreciate that simple dignity and solid comfort, that
unobtrusive _fitness_, which belonged to Mr. Irving's home-arrangements.
There were no flunkies in gold and scarlet; but there were four or five
good horses in the stable, and as many suitable carriages. Everything in
the cottage was peculiarly and comfortably elegant, without the least
pretension. As to the "single glass of wine," Mr. Irving, never a
professed teetotaller, was always temperate on instinct both in eating
and drinking; and in his last two years I believe he did not taste
wine at all. In all financial matters, Mr. Irving's providence and
preciseness were worthy of imitation by all professional literary men;
but with exactness and punctuality he united a liberal disposition to
make a suitable use of money, and to have all around him comfortable and
appropriate. Knowing that he could leave a handsome independence for
those nearest to him, he had no occasion for any such anxious care as
Mr. Thackeray intimates.

Thackeray had been invited to Yonkers, to give his lecture on "Charity
and Humor." At this "Ancient Dorp" he was the guest of Cozzens, and I
had the honor of accompanying the greater and lesser humorist in a
drive to Sunnyside, nine miles. (This call of an hour, by-the-way, was
Thackeray's only glimpse of the place he described.) The interview was
in every way interesting. Mr. Irving produced a pair of antiquated
spectacles, which had belonged to Washington, and Major Pendennis tried
them on with evident reverence. The hour was well filled with rapid,
pleasant chat; but no profound analysis of the characteristics of wit
and humor was elicited either from the Stout Gentleman or from Vanity
Fair. Mr. Irving went down to Yonkers, to hear Thackeray's lecture in
the evening, after we had all had a slice of bear at Mr. Sparrowgrass's,
to say nothing of sundry other courses, with a slight thread of
conversation between. At the lecture, he was so startled by the
eulogistic presentation of the lecturer to the audience, by the
excellent chief of the committee, that I believe he did not once nod
during the evening. We were, of course, proud to have as our own guest
for the night such an embodiment of "Charity and Humor" as Mr. Thackeray
saw in the front bench before him, but whom he considerately spared from
holding up as an illustration of his subject.

Charity, indeed, practical "good-will toward men," was an essential
part of Mr. Irving's Christianity,--and in this Christian virtue he was
sometimes severely tested. Nothing was more irksome to him than to be
compelled to endure calls of mere curiosity, or to answer letters either
of fulsome eulogy of himself or asking for his eulogy of the MSS. or new
work of the correspondent. Some letters of that kind he probably never
did answer. Few had any idea of the _fagging_ task they imposed on
the distinguished victim. He would worry and fret over it trebly in
anticipation, and the actual task itself was to him probably ten times
as irksome as it would be to most others. Yet it would be curious to
know how many letters of suggestion and encouragement he actually did
write in reply to solicitations from young authors for his criticism and
advice, and his recommendation, or, perhaps, his pecuniary aid. Always
disposed to find merit, even where any stray grains of the article lay
buried in rubbish, he would amiably say the utmost that could justly be
said in favor of "struggling genius." Sometimes his readiness to aid
meritorious young authors into profitable publicity was shamefully
abused,--as in the case of Maitland, an Englishman, who deliberately
forged an absurdly distorted paraphrase of a note of Mr. Irving's,
besides other disreputable use of the signature which he had enticed
from him in answer to urgent appeals. But these were among the penalties
of honorable fame and influence which he might naturally expect to pay.
The sunny aspect on the "even tenor of his way" still prevailed; and
until the hand of disease reached him in the last year of his life, very
few probably enjoyed a more tranquil and unruffled existence.

It became almost a proverb, that Mr. Irving was a nearly solitary
instance of a long literary career (half a century) untouched by even
a breath of ill-will or jealousy on the part of a brother-author. The
annals of the _genus irritabile_ scarcely show a parallel to such a
career. The most prominent American contemporary of Mr. Irving in
imaginative literature, I suppose, was Fenimore Cooper,--whose genius
raised the American name in Europe more effectively even than Irving's,
at least on the Continent. Cooper had a right to claim respect and
admiration, if not affection, from his countrymen, for his brilliant
creations and his solid services to American literature; and he knew it.
But, as we all know,--for it was patent,--when he returned from Europe,
after sending his "Letter to his Countrymen," and gave us "Home as
Found," his reception was much less marked with warmth and enthusiasm
than Mr. Irving's was; and while he professed indifference to all such
whims of popular regard, yet he evidently brooded a little over the
relative amount of public attention extended to his brother-author. At
any rate, he persistently kept aloof from Mr. Irving for many years; and
not unfrequently discoursed, in his rather authoritative manner, about
the humbuggery of success in this country, as exhibited in some shining
instances of popular and official favor. With great admiration for
Cooper, whose national services were never recognized as they deserved
to be, I trust no injustice is involved in the above suggestion, which I
make somewhat presumptuously,--especially as Mr. Irving more than once
spoke to me in terms of strong admiration of the works and genius of
Cooper, and regretted that the great novelist seemed to cherish some
unpleasant feeling towards him. One day, some time after I had commenced
a library edition of Cooper's best works, and while Irving's were in
course of publication in companionship, Mr. Irving was sitting at my
desk, with his back to the door, when Mr. Cooper came in, (a little
bustlingly, as usual,) and stood at the office-entrance, talking. Mr.
Irving did not turn, (for obvious reasons,) and Cooper did not see him.
Remembering his "Mr. Sharp, Mr. Blunt,--Mr. Blunt, Mr. Sharp," I had
acquired caution as to introductions without mutual consent; but with
a brief thought of how matters stood, (they had not met for several
years,) and a sort of instinct that reduced the real difference between
the parties to a baseless fabric of misapprehension, I stoutly obeyed
the impulse of the moment, and simply said,--"Mr. Cooper, here is Mr.
Irving." The latter turned,--Cooper held out his hand cordially, dashed
at once into an animated conversation, took a chair, and, to my surprise
and delight, the two authors sat for an hour, chatting in their best
manner about almost every topic of the day and some of former days. They
parted with cordial good wishes, and Mr. Irving afterwards frequently
alluded to the incident as being a very great gratification to him.
He may have recalled it with new satisfaction, when, not many months
afterwards, he sat on the platform at the "Cooper Commemoration," and
joined in Bryant's tribute to the genius of the departed novelist.

Mr. Irving was never a systematic collector of books, and his little
library at Sunnyside might have disappointed those who would expect to
see there rich shelves of choice editions, and a full array of all the
favorite authors among whom such a writer would delight to revel. Some
rather antiquated tomes in Spanish,--in different sets of Calderon
and Cervantes, and of some modern French and German authors,--a
presentation-set of Cadell's "Waverley," as well as that more recent and
elegant emanation from the classic press of Houghton,--a moderate amount
of home-tools for the "Life of Washington," (rarer materials were
consulted in the town-libraries and at Washington,)--and the remainder
of his books were evidently a hap-hazard collection, many coming from
the authors, with their respects, and thus sometimes costing the
recipient their full (intrinsic) value in writing a letter of

The little apartment had, nevertheless, become somewhat overcrowded, and
a suggestion for a general renovation and pruning seemed to be gladly
accepted,--so I went up and passed the night there for that purpose.
Mr. Irving, in his easy-chair in the sitting-room, after dinner, was
quite content to have me range at large in the library and to let me
discard all the "lumber" as I pleased; so I turned out some hundred
volumes of _un_-classic superfluity, and then called him in from his
nap to approve or veto my proceedings. As he sat by, while I rapidly
reported the candidates for exclusion, and he nodded assent, or as, here
and there, he would interpose with "No, no, not _that_," and an anecdote
or reminiscence would come in as a reason against the dismissal of the
book in my hand, I could not help suggesting the scene in Don Quixote's
library, when the priest and the barber entered upon their scrutiny of
its contents. Mr. Irving seemed to be highly amused with this pruning
process, and his running commentary on my "estimates of value" in
weighing his literary collections was richly entertaining.

Observing that his library-table was somewhat antiquated and inadequate,
I persuaded him to let me make him a present of a new one, with the
modern conveniences of drawers and snug corners for keeping his stray
papers. When I sent him such a one, my stipulation for the return of the
old one as a present to me was pleasantly granted. This relic was of no
great intrinsic value; but, as he had written on this table many of his
later works, including "Mahomet," "Goldsmith," "Wolfert's Roost," and
"Washington," I prize it, of course, as one of the most interesting
mementos of Sunnyside.

As an illustration of habit, it may be added, that, some time after the
new table had been installed, I was sitting with him in the library,
when he searched long and fruitlessly for some paper which had been "so
_very_ carefully stowed away in some _very_ safe drawer" that it was
not to be found, and the search ended in a sort of half-humorous,
half-earnest denunciation of all "modern conveniences";--the simple old
table, with its primitive facilities, was, after all, worth a dozen of
these elegant contrivances for memory-saving and neatness.

One rather curious characteristic of Mr. Irving was excessive,
unaffected modesty and distrust of himself and of his own writings.
Considering how many a _debutant_ in letters, not yet out of his teens,
is so demonstratively self-confident as to the prospective effect of his
genius on an expecting and admiring world, it was always remarkable to
hear a veteran, whose fame for half a century had been cosmopolitan,
expressing the most timid doubts as to his latest compositions, and
fearing they were unequal to their position,--so unwilling, too, to
occupy an inch of ground to which any other writer might properly lay
claim. Mr. Irving had planned and made some progress in a work on the
Conquest of Mexico, when he learned of Mr. Prescott's intentions, and
promptly laid his project aside. His "Life of Washington," originating
more than thirty years ago, was repeatedly abandoned, as the successive
works of Mr. Sparks, Mr. Padding, and others, appeared; and though he
was subsequently induced to proceed with his long-considered plan of a
more dramatic and picturesque narrative from a new point of view, yet
he was more than once inclined to put his MSS. into the fire, in the
apprehension that the subject had been worn threadbare by the various
compilations which were constantly coming out. When he ventured his
first volume, the cordial and appreciative reception promptly accorded
to it surprised as much as it cheered and pleased him; for though he
despised hollow flattery, no young writer was more warmly sensitive than
he to all discriminating, competent, and honest applause or criticism.
When "Wolfert's Roost" was published, (I had to entice the papers
of that volume from his drawers, for I doubt whether he would have
collected them himself,) I saw him affected actually to tears, on
reading some of the hearty and well-written personal tributes which
that volume called forth. But though every volume was received in this
spirit by the press and the public, he was to the last apprehensive of
failure, until a reliable verdict should again reassure him. The very
last volume of his works (the fifth of "Washington") was thus timidly
permitted to be launched; and I remember well his expression of relief
and satisfaction, when he said that Mr. Bancroft, Professor Felton, and
Mr. Duyckinck had been the first to assure him the volume was all that
it should be. His task on this volume had perhaps extended beyond the
period of his robust health,--it had _fagged_ him,--but he had been
spared to write every line of it with his own hand, and my own copy is
enriched by the autograph of his valedictory.

To refer, however briefly, to Mr. Irving's politics or religion, even if
I had intimate knowledge of both, (which assuredly I had not,) would
be, perhaps, to overstep decorous limits. It may, however, properly be
mentioned, that, in the face of all inherent probabilities as to
his comfortable conservatism, and his earnest instincts in favor of
fraternal conciliation and _justice_, (which was as marked a quality in
him as in the great man whom be so faithfully portrayed,) in spite of
all the considerations urged by timid gentlemen of the old school in
favor of Fillmore and the _status quo_, he voted in 1856, as he told me,
for Fremont. In speaking of the candidates then in the field, he said of
Fremont, that his comparative youth and inexperience in party-politics
were points in his favor; for he thought the condition of the country
called for a man of nerve and energy, one in his prime, and unfettered
by party-traditions and bargains for "the spoils." His characterization
of a more experienced functionary, who had once served in the State
Department, was more severe than I ever heard from him of any other
person; and severity from a man of his judicious and kindly impulses had
a meaning in it.

Favored once with a quiet Sunday at "the Cottage," of course there was
a seat for us all in the family-pew at Christ Church in the village
(Tarrytown). Mr. Irving's official station as Church-Warden was
indicated by the ex-ambassador's meek and decorous presentation of
the plate for the silver and copper offerings of the parishioners. At
subsequent successive meetings of the General (State) Convention of
the Protestant Episcopal Church, (to which I had been delegated from
a little parish on Staten Island,) the names of Washington Irving and
Fenimore Cooper were both recorded,--the latter representing Christ
Church, Cooperstown. Mr. Irving for several years served in this
capacity, and as one of the Missionary Committee of the Convention, his
name was naturally sought as honoring any organization. He was the last
person to be demonstrative or conspicuous either as to his faith or his
works; but no disciple of Christ, perhaps, felt more devoutly than he
did the reverential aspiration of "Glory to God in the highest, and on
earth peace, good-will toward men."

Passing a print-window in Broadway one day, his eye rested on the
beautiful engraving of "Christus Consolator." He stopped and looked at
it intently for some minutes, evidently much affected by the genuine
inspiration of the artist in this remarkable representation of the
Saviour as the consoler of sorrow-stricken humanity. His tears fell
freely. "Pray, get me that print," said he; "I must have it framed
for my sitting-room." When he examined it more closely and found the
artist's name, "It's by my old friend Ary Scheffer!" said he,--remarking
further, that he had known Scheffer intimately, and knew him to be a
true artist, but had not expected from him anything so excellent as
this. I afterwards sent him the companion, "Christus Remunerator"; and
the pair remained his daily companions till the day of his death. To me,
the picture of Irving, amid the noise and bustle of noon in Broadway,
shedding tears as he studied that little print, so feelingly picturing
human sorrow and the source of its alleviation, has always remained
associated with the artist and his works. If Irving could enjoy wit and
humor and give that enjoyment to others, no other writer of books had a
heart more tenderly sensitive than his to the sufferings and ills which
flesh is heir to.

Of his later days,--of the calmly received premonitions of that peaceful
end of which only the precise moment was uncertain,--of his final
departure, so gentle and so fitting,--of that "Washington-Irving-day"
so dreamily, blandly still, and almost fragrant, December though it was,
when with those simple and appropriate obsequies his mortal remains were
placed by the side of his brothers and sisters in the burial-ground of
Sleepy Hollow, while thousands from far and near silently looked for the
last time on his genial face and mourned his loss as that of a personal
friend and a national benefactor, yet could hardly for _his_ sake desire
any more enviable translation from mortality,--of the many beautiful
and eloquent tributes of living genius to the life and character and
writings of the departed author,--of all these you have already an ample
record. I need not repeat or extend it. If you could have "assisted"
at the crowning "Commemoration," on his birthday, (April 3d,) at the
Academy of Music, you would have found it in many respects memorably in
accordance with the intrinsic fitness of things. An audience of five
thousand, so evidently and discriminatingly intelligent, addressed for
two hours by Bryant, with all his cool, judicious, deliberate criticism,
warmed into glowing appreciation of the most delicate and peculiar
beauties of the character and literary services he was to
delineate,--and this rich banquet fittingly _desserted_ by the periods
of Everett,--such an evening was worthy of the subject, and worthy to
be remembered. The heartiness and the genial insight into Irving's best
traits which the poet displayed were peculiarly gratifying to the nearer
friends and relatives. His sketch and analysis, too, had a remarkable
completeness for an address of that kind, while its style and manner
were models of chaste elegance. Speaking of Irving's contemporaries and
predecessors, he warms into poetry, thus:--

"We had but one novelist before the era of the 'Sketch-Book': their
number is now beyond enumeration by any but a professed catalogue-maker,
and many of them are read in every cultivated form of human speech.
Those whom we acknowledge as our poets--one of whom is the special
favorite of our brothers in language who dwell beyond the sea--appeared
in the world of letters and won its attention after Irving had become
famous. We have wits and humorists and amusing essayists, authors of
some of the airiest and most graceful contributions of the present
century,--and we owe them to the new impulse given to our literature
in 1819. I look abroad on these stars of our literary firmament,--some
crowded together with their minute points of light in a galaxy, some
standing apart in glorious constellations; I recognize Arcturus and
Orion and Perseus and the glittering jewels of the Southern Crown, and
the Pleiades shedding sweet influences; but the Evening Star, the soft
and serene light that glowed in their van, the precursor of them all,
has sunk below the horizon. The spheres, meanwhile, perform their
appointed courses; the same motion which lifted them up to the mid-sky
bears them onward to their setting; and they, too, like their bright
leader, must soon be carried by it below the earth."

Let me quote also Mr. Bryant's closing remarks:--

"Other hands will yet give the world a bolder, more vivid, and more
exact portraiture. In the mean time, when I consider for how many
years he stood before the world as an author, with still increasing
fame,--half a century in this most changeful of centuries,--I cannot
hesitate to predict for him a deathless renown. Since he began to write,
empires have arisen and passed away; mighty captains have appeared on
the stage of the world, performed their part, and been called to
their account; wars have been fought and ended which have changed the
destinies of the human race. New arts have been invented and adopted,
and have pushed the old out of use; the household economy of half
mankind has undergone a revolution. Science has learned a new dialect
and forgotten the old; the chemist of 1807 would be a vain babbler among
his brethren of the present day, and would in turn become bewildered in
the attempt to understand them. Nation utters speech to nation in words
that pass from realm to realm with the speed of light. Distant countries
have been made neighbors; the Atlantic Ocean has become a narrow frith,
and the Old World and the New shake hands across it; the East and the
West look in at each other's windows. The new inventions bring new
calamities, and men perish in crowds by the recoil of their own devices.
War has learned more frightful modes of havoc, and armed himself with
deadlier weapons; armies are borne to the battle-field on the wings of
the wind, and dashed against each other and destroyed with infinite
bloodshed. We grow giddy with this perpetual whirl of strange events,
these rapid and ceaseless mutations; the earth seems to be reeling under
our feet, and we turn to those who write like Irving for some assurance
that we are still in the same world into which we were born; we read,
and are quieted and consoled. In his pages we see that the language of
the heart never becomes obsolete; that Truth and Good and Beauty,
the offspring of God, are not subject to the changes which beset the
inventions of men. We become satisfied that he whose works were the
delight of our fathers, and are still ours, will be read with the same
pleasure by those who come after us."


O'er far Pacific waves the wanderer holding
His steady course before the strong monsoon,
Entranced, beholds the coral isle unfolding
Its ring of emerald and its bright lagoon.

At first their shadowy helms in the faint distance
The tree-tops rear; then, as he nearer glides,
The white surf gleams where the firm reef's resistance
Meets and hurls back the fiercely charging tides.

He sees outspread the wide sea-beach, all sparkling
With coral sand and many-tinted shells,
While high above, in tropic rankness darkling,
A cloud of verdure ever-brooding dwells,

With growing wonder and delight the stranger,
While his swift shallop nears the enchanted strand,
Sees the white surf cleared with one flash of danger,
And a broad portal opening through the land.

And deftly through the verdurous gateway steering,
The strong-armed oarsmen urge their flying boat,
Till now, the broad horizon disappearing,
On the still island-lake they pause and float.

The gun booms loud. With wishful eyes receding,
They watch from their swift boat the lessening isle.
The yards are squared. Again the good ship speeding
Sees the chafed waves beneath her counter file.

Long musing o'er his scientific pages,
The curious voyager pursues the theme,
And learns whate'er the geologic sages
Have found or fancied,--building each his scheme.

The Professor's Story.

This pleased him best:--In earth's red primal morning,
When Nature's forces wrought with youthful heat,
A mighty continent outspread, adorning
Our planet's face, where now the surges beat:

A land of wondrous growths, of strange creations,
Of ferns like oaks, of saurians huge and dire,
Of marshes vast, their dreary habitations,
Of mountains flaming with primeval fire.

At length, by some supernal fiat banished,
The land sank down in one great cataclysm;
The vales, the plains, the mountains slowly vanished,
Buried and quenched in the wide sea's abysm.

'Twas then (so ran the scheme) on each lost crater
The coral-builders laid their marvellous pile;
Millions on millions wrought, till ages later
Saw reared to light and air the circling isle.

Thus Science dreams: but from the dream upflashes
On his swift thought the subtly shadowed truth,
That all serener joys bloom on the ashes,
The lava, and spent craters of lost youth.

The heart, long worn by fierce volcanic surges,
Feels its old world slow sinking from the sight,
Till o'er the wreck a home of peace emerges,
Bright with unnumbered shapes of new delight.




There was a good deal of interest felt, as has been said, in the lonely
condition of Dudley Venner in that fine mansion-house of his, and with
that strange daughter, who would never be married, as many people
thought, in spite of all the stories. The feelings expressed by the good
folks who dated from the time when they "buried aour little Anny Mari,"
and others of that homespun stripe, were founded in reason, after all.
And so it was natural enough that they should be shared by various
ladies, who, having conjugated the verb _to live_ as far as the
preterpluperfect tense, were ready to change one of its vowels and begin
with it in the present indicative. Unfortunately, there was very little
chance of showing sympathy in its active form for a gentleman who kept
himself so much out of the way as the master of the Dudley Mansion.

Various attempts had been made, from time to time, of late years, to get
him out of his study, which had, for the moat part, proved failures. It
was a surprise, therefore, when he was seen at the Great Party at
the Colonel's. But it was an encouragement to try him again, and the
consequence had been that he had received a number of notes inviting him
to various smaller entertainments, which, as neither he nor Elsie had
any fancy for them, he had politely declined.

Such was the state of things when he received an invitation to take tea
_sociably,_ with _a few friends,_ at Hyacinth Cottage, the residence of
the Widow Rowens, relict of the late Beeri Rowens, Esquire, better known
as Major Rowens. Major Rowens was at the time of his decease a promising
officer in the militia, in the direct line of promotion, as his
waistband was getting tighter every year; and, as all the world knows,
the militia-officer who splits off most buttons and fills the largest
sword-belt stands the best chance of rising, or, perhaps we might say,
spreading, to be General.

Major Rowens united in his person certain other traits that help a
man to eminence in the arm of the service referred to. He ran to high
colors, to wide whisker, to open pores; he had the saddle-leather skin
common in Englishmen, rarer in Americans,--never found in the Brahmin
caste, oftener in the military and the commodores: observing people know
what is meant; blow the seed-arrows from the white-kid-looking button
which holds them on a dandelion-stalk, and the pricked-pincushion
surface shows you what to look for. He had the loud, gruff voice which
implies the right to command. He had the thick hand, stubbed fingers,
with bristled pads between their joints, square, broad thumb-nails, and
sturdy limbs, which mark a constitution made to use in rough out-door
work. He had the never-failing predilection for showy switch-tailed
horses that step high, and sidle about, and act as if they were going to
do something fearful the next minute, in the face of awed and admiring
multitudes gathered at mighty musters or imposing cattle-shows. He had
no objection, either, to holding the reins in a wagon behind another
kind of horse,--a slouching, listless beast, with a strong slant to his
shoulder and a notable depth to his quarter and an emphatic angle at the
hock, who commonly walked or lounged along in a lazy trot of five or
six miles an hour; but, if a lively colt happened to come rattling up
alongside, or a brandy-faced old horse-jockey took the road to show off
a fast nag, and threw his dust into the Major's face, would pick his
legs up all at once, and straighten his body out, and swing off into a
three-minute gait, in a way that "Old Blue" himself need not have been
ashamed of.

For some reason which must be left to the next generation of professors
to find out, the men who are knowing in horse-flesh have an eye also
for,----let a long dash separate the brute creation from the angelic
being now to be named,--for lovely woman. Of this fact there can be no
possible doubt; and therefore you shall notice, that, if a fast horse
trots before two, one of the twain is apt to be a pretty bit of
muliebrity, with shapes to her, and eyes flying about in all directions.

Major Rowens, at that time Lieutenant of the Rockland Fusileers, had
driven and "traded" horses not a few before he turned his acquired skill
as a judge of physical advantages in another direction. He knew a neat,
snug hoof, a delicate pastern, a well-covered stifle, a broad haunch, a
deep chest, a close ribbed-up barrel, as well as any other man in the
town. He was not to be taken in by your thick-jointed, heavy-headed
cattle, without any go to them, that suit a country-parson, nor yet by
the "galinted-up," long-legged animals, with all their constitutions
bred out of them, such as rich greenhorns buy and cover up with their
plated trappings.

Whether his equine experience was of any use to him in the selection of
the mate with whom he was to go in double harness so long as they both
should live, we need not stop to question. At any rate, nobody could
find fault with the points of Miss Marilla Van Deusen, to whom he
offered the privilege of becoming Mrs. Rowens. The _Van_ must have been
crossed out of her blood, for she was an out-and-out brunette, with hair
and eyes black enough for a Mohawk's daughter. A fine style of woman,
with very striking tints and outlines,--an excellent match for the
Lieutenant, except for one thing. She was marked by Nature for a widow.
She was evidently got up for mourning, and never looked so well as in
deep black, with jet ornaments.

The man who should dare to marry her would doom himself; for how could
she become the widow she was bound to be, unless he would retire and
give her a chance? The Lieutenant lived, however, as we have seen, to
become Captain and then Major, with prospects of further advancement.
But Mrs. Rowens often said she should never look well in colors. At last
her destiny fulfilled itself, and the justice of Nature was vindicated.
Major Rowens got overheated galloping about the field on the day of the
Great Muster, and had a rush of blood to the head, according to the
common report,--at any rate, something which stopped him short in his
career of expansion and promotion, and established Mrs. Rowens in her
normal condition of widowhood.

The Widow Rowens was now in the full bloom of ornamental sorrow. A very
shallow crape bonnet, frilled and froth-like, allowed the parted raven
hair to show its glossy smoothness. A jet pin heaved upon her bosom with
every sigh of memory, or emotion of unknown origin. Jet bracelets shone
with every movement of her slender hands, cased in close-fitting black
gloves. Her sable dress was ridged with manifold flounces, from beneath
which a small foot showed itself from time to time, clad in the same hue
of mourning. Everything about her was dark, except the whites of her
eyes and the enamel of her teeth. The effect was complete. Gray's Elegy
was not a more perfect composition.

Much as the Widow was pleased with the costume belonging to her
condition, she did not disguise from herself that under certain
circumstances she might be willing to change her name again. Thus, for
instance, if a gentleman not too far gone in maturity, of dignified
exterior, with an ample fortune, and of unexceptionable character,
should happen to set his heart upon her, and the only way to make him
happy was to give up her weeds and go into those unbecoming colors again
for his sake,--why, she felt that it was in her nature to make the
sacrifice. By a singular coincidence it happened that a gentleman was
now living in Rockland who united in himself all these advantages. Who
he was, the sagacious reader may very probably have divined. Just to see
how it looked, one day, having bolted her door, and drawn the curtains
close, and glanced under the sofa, and listened at the keyhole to be
sure there was nobody in the entry,--just to see how it looked, she
had taken out an envelope and written on the back of it _Mrs. Marila
Venner._ It made her head swim and her knees tremble. What if she should
faint, or die, or have a stroke of palsy, and they should break into the
room and find that name written? How she caught it up and tore it into
little shreds, and then could not be easy until she had burned the small
heap of pieces! But these are things which every honorable reader will
consider imparted in strict confidence.

The Widow Rowens, though not of the mansion-house set, was among the
most genteel of the two-story circle, and was in the habit of visiting
some of the great people. In one of these visits she met a dashing young
fellow with an olive complexion at the house of a professional gentleman
who had married one of the white necks and pairs of fat arms from a
distinguished family before referred to. The professional gentleman
himself was out, but the lady introduced the olive-complexioned young
man as Mr. Richard Venner.

The Widow was particularly pleased with this accidental meeting. Had
heard Mr. Venner's name frequently mentioned. Hoped his uncle was well,
and his charming cousin,--was she as original as ever? Had often admired
that charming creature he rode: _we_ had had some fine horses. Had never
got over her taste for riding, but could find nobody that liked a good
long gallop since--well--she couldn't help wishing she was alongside of
him, the other day, when she saw him dashing by, just at twilight.

The Widow paused; lifted a flimsy handkerchief with a very deep black
border so as to play the jet bracelet; pushed the tip of her slender
foot beyond the lowest of her black flounces; looked up; looked down;
looked at Mr. Richard, the very picture of artless simplicity,--as
represented in well-played genteel comedy.

"A good bit of stuff," Dick said to himself,--"and something of it left
yet; _caramba!_" The Major had not studied points for nothing, and
the Widow was one of the right sort. The young man had been a little
restless of late, and was willing to vary his routine by picking up an
acquaintance here and there. So he took the Widow's hint. He should like
to have a scamper of half a dozen miles with her some fine morning.

The Widow was infinitely obliged; was not sure that she could find any
horse in the village to suit her; but it was _so_ kind in him! Would he
not call at Hyacinth Cottage, and let her thank him again there?

Thus began an acquaintance which the Widow made the most of, and on the
strength of which she determined to give a tea-party and invite a number
of persons of whom we know something already. She took a half-sheet of
note-paper and made out her list as carefully as a country "merchant's"
"clerk" adds up two and threepence (New-England nomenclature) and twelve
and a half cents, figure by figure, and fraction by fraction, before he
can be sure they will make half a dollar, without cheating somebody.
After much consideration the list reduced itself to the following names:
Mr. Richard Venner and Mrs. Blanche Creamer, the lady at whose house she
had met him,--mansion-house breed,--but will come,--soft on Dick; Dudley
Venner,--take care of him herself; Elsie,--Dick will see to her,--won't
it fidget the Creamer woman to see him round her? the old Doctor,--he's
always handy; and there's that young master there, up at the
school,--know him well enough to ask him,--oh, yes, he'll come. One,
two, three, four, five, six,--seven; not room enough, without the leaf
in the table; one place empty, if the leaf's in. Let's see,--Helen
Darley,--she'll do well enough to fill it up,--why, yes, just the
thing,--light brown hair, blue eyes,--won't my pattern show off well
against her? Put her down,--she's worth her tea and toast ten times
over,--nobody knows what a "thunder-and-lightning woman," as poor Major
used to have it, is, till she gets alongside of one of those old-maidish
girls, with hair the color of brown sugar, and eyes like the blue of a

The Widow smiled with a feeling of triumph at having overcome her
difficulties and arranged her party,--arose and stood before her glass,
three-quarters front, one-quarter profile, so as to show the whites of
the eyes and the down of the upper lip. "Splendid!" said the Widow,
--and to tell the truth, she was not far out of the way, and with
Helen Darley as a foil anybody would know she must be foudroyant and
pyramidal,--if these French adjectives may be naturalized for this one
particular exigency.

So the Widow sent out her notes. The black grief which had filled her
heart and overflowed in surges of crape around her person had left a
deposit half an inch wide at the margin of her note-paper. Her seal was
a small youth with an inverted torch, the same on which Mrs. Blanche
Creamer made her spiteful remark, that she expected to see that boy of
the Widow's standing on his head yet; meaning, as Dick supposed, that
she would get the torch right-side up as soon as she had a chance. That
was after Dick had made the Widow's acquaintance, and Mrs. Creamer had
got it into her foolish head that she would marry that young fellow,
if she could catch him. How could he ever come to fancy such, a
quadroon-looking thing as that, she should like to know?

It is easy enough to ask seven people to a party; but whether they will
come or not is an open question, as it was in the case of the "vasty
spirits." If the note issues from a three-story mansion-house, and goes
to two-story acquaintances, they will all be in an excellent state of
health, and have much pleasure in accepting this very polite invitation.
If the note is from the lady of a two-story family to a three-story one,
the former highly respectable person will find that an endemic complaint
is prevalent, not represented in the weekly bills of mortality, which
occasions numerous regrets in the bosoms of eminently desirable parties
that they _cannot_ have the pleasure of and-so-forth-ing.

In this case there was room for doubt,--mainly as to whether Elsie
would take a fancy to come or not. If she should come, her father would
certainly be with her. Dick had promised, and thought he could bring
Elsie. Of course the young schoolmaster will come, and that poor
tired-out looking Helen,--if only to get out of sight of those horrid
Peckham wretches. They don't get such invitations every day. The others
she felt sure of,--all but the old Doctor,--he might have some horrid
patient or other to visit; tell him Elsie Venner's going to be
there,--he always likes to have an eye on her, they say,--oh, he'd come
fast enough, without any more coaxing.

She wanted the Doctor, particularly. It was odd, but she was afraid of
Elsie. She felt as if she should be safe enough, if the old Doctor were
there to see to the girl; and then she should have leisure to devote
herself more freely to the young lady's father, for whom all her
sympathies were in a state of lively excitement.

It was a long time since the Widow had seen so many persons round her
table as she had now invited. Better have the plates set and see how
they will fill it up with the leaf in.--A little too scattering with
only eight plates set; if she could find two more people now that would
bring the chairs a little closer,--snug, you know,--which makes the
company sociable. The Widow thought over her acquaintances. Why! how
stupid! there was her good minister, the same that had married her, and
might--might--bury her for aught she knew, and his granddaughter
staying with him,--nice little girl, pretty, and not old enough to be
dangerous;--for the Widow had no notion of making a tea-party and asking
people to it that would be like to stand between her and any little
project she might happen to have on anybody's heart,--not she! It was
all right now;--Blanche was married and so forth; Letty was a child;
Elsie was his daughter; Helen Darley was a nice, worthy drudge,--poor
thing!--faded, faded,--colors wouldn't wash,--just what she wanted to
show off against. Now, if the Dudley mansion-house people would only
come,--that was the great point.

"Here's a note for us, Elsie," said her father, as they sat round the
breakfast-table. "Mrs. Rowens wants us all to come to tea."

It was one of "Elsie's days," as Old Sophy called them. The light in her
eyes was still, but very bright. She looked up so full of perverse and
wilful impulses, that Dick knew he could make her go with him and
her father. He had his own motives for bringing her to this
determination,--and his own way of setting about it.

"I don't want to go," he said. "What do you say, Uncle?"

"To tell the truth, Richard, I don't much fancy the Major's widow. I
don't like to see her weeds flowering out quite so strong. I suppose you
don't care about going, Elsie?"

Elsie looked up in her father's face with an expression which he knew
but too well. She was just in the state which the plain sort of people
call "contrary," when they have to deal with it in animals. She would
insist on going to that tea-party; he knew it just as well before she
spoke as after she had spoken. If Dick had said he wanted to go and her
father had seconded his wishes, she would have insisted on staying at
home. It was no great matter, her father said to himself, after
all; very likely it would amuse her; the Widow was a lively woman
enough,--perhaps a little _comme il ne faut pas_ socially, compared with
the Thorntons and some other families; but what did he care for these
petty village distinctions?

Elsie spoke.

"I mean to go. You must go with me, Dudley. You may do as you like,

That settled the Dudley-mansion business, of course. They all three
accepted, as fortunately did all the others who had been invited.

Hyacinth Cottage was a pretty place enough, a little too much choked
round with bushes, and too much overrun with climbing-roses, which, in
the season of slugs and rose-bugs, were apt to show so brown about
the leaves and so coleopterous about the flowers, that it might be
questioned whether their buds and blossoms made up for these unpleasant
animal combinations,--especially as the smell of whale-oil soap was very
commonly in the ascendant over that of the roses. It had its patch
of grass called "the lawn," and its glazed closet known as "the
conservatory," according to that system of harmless fictions
characteristic of the rural imagination and shown in the names applied
to many familiar objects. The interior of the cottage was more tasteful
and ambitious than that of the ordinary two-story dwellings. In place
of the prevailing hair-cloth covered furniture, the visitor had the
satisfaction of seating himself upon a chair covered with some of the
Widow's embroidery, or a sofa luxurious with soft caressing plush. The
sporting tastes of the late Major showed in various prints on the
wall: Herring's "Plenipotentiary," the "red bullock" of the '34 Derby;
"Cadland" and "The Colonel"; "Crucifix"; "West-Australian," fastest of
modern racers; and ugly, game old "Boston," with his straight neck and
ragged hips; and gray "Lady Suffolk," "extending" herself till she
measured a rod, more or less, skimming along within a yard of the
ground, her legs opening and shutting under her with a snap, like the
four blades of a compound jack-knife.

These pictures were much more refreshing than those dreary fancy
death-bed scenes, common in two-story country-houses, in which
Washington and other distinguished personages are represented as
obligingly devoting their last moments to taking a prominent part in a
tableau, in which weeping relatives, attached servants, professional
assistants, and celebrated personages who might by a stretch of
imagination be supposed present, are grouped in the most approved style
of arrangement about the chief actor's pillow.

A single glazed bookcase held the family library, which was hidden from
vulgar eyes by green silk curtains behind the glass. It would have been
instructive to get a look at it, as it always is to peep into one's
neighbor's bookshelves. From other sources and opportunities a partial
idea of it has been obtained. The Widow had inherited some books from
her mother, who was something of a reader: Young's "Night-Thoughts";
"The Preceptor"; "The Task, a Poem," by William Cowper; Hervey's
"Meditations"; "Alonzo and Melissa"; "Buccaneers of America"; "The
Triumphs of Temper"; "La Belle Assemblee"; Thomson's "Seasons"; and a
few others. The Major had brought in "Tom Jones" and "Peregrine Pickle";
various works by Mr. Pierce Egan; "Boxiana"; "The Racing Calendar"; and
a "Book of Lively Songs and Jests." The Widow had added the Poems of
Lord Byron and T. Moore; "Eugene Aram"; "The Tower of London," by
Harrison Ainsworth; some of Scott's Novels; "The Pickwick Papers"; a
volume of Plays, by W. Shakspeare; "Proverbial Philosophy"; "Pilgrim's
Progress"; "The Whole Duty of Man" (a present when she was married);
with two celebrated religious works, one by William Law and the other
by Philip Doddridge, which were sent her after her husband's death, and
which she had tried to read, but found that they did not agree with her.
Of course the bookcase held a few school manuals and compendiums, and
one of Mr. Webster's Dictionaries. But the gilt-edged Bible always lay
on the centre-table, next to the magazine with the fashion-plates and
the scrapbook with pictures from old annuals and illustrated papers.

The reader need not apprehend the recital, at full length, of such
formidable preparations for the Widow's tea-party as were required in
the case of Colonel Sprowle's Social Entertainment. A tea-party, even in
the country, is a comparatively simple and economical piece of business.
As soon as the Widow found that all her company were coming, she set to
work, with the aid of her "smart" maid-servant and a daughter of her
own, who was beginning to stretch and spread at a fearful rate, but whom
she treated as a small child, to make the necessary preparations. The
silver had to be rubbed; also the grand plated urn,--her mother's before
hers,--style of the Empire,--looking as if it might have been made to
hold the Major's ashes. Then came the making and baking of cake and
gingerbread, the smell whereof reached even as far as the sidewalk in
front of the cottage, so that small boys returning from school snuffed
it in the breeze, and discoursed with each other on its suggestions; so
that the Widow Leech, who happened to pass, remembered she hadn't called
on Marilly Raowens for a consid'ble spell, and turned in at the gate and
rang three times with long intervals,--but all in vain, the inside Widow
having "spotted" the outside one through the binds, and whispered to her
aides-de-camp to let the old thing ring away till she pulled the bell
out by the roots, but not to stir to open the door.

Widow Rowens was what they called a real smart, capable woman, not very
great on books, perhaps, but knew what was what and who was who as well
as another,--knew how to make the little cottage look pretty, how to set
out a tea-table, and, what a good many women never can find out, knew
her own style and "got herself up tip-top," as our young friend Master
Geordie, Colonel Sprowle's heir-apparent, remarked to his friend from
one of the fresh-water colleges. Flowers were abundant now, and she had
dressed her rooms tastefully with them. The centre-table had two or
three gilt-edged books lying carelessly about on it, and some prints,
and a stereoscope with stereographs to match, chiefly groups of picnics,
weddings, etc., in which the same somewhat fatigued-looking ladies
of fashion and brides received the attentions of the same
unpleasant-looking young men, easily identified under their different
disguises, consisting of fashionable raiment such as gentlemen are
supposed to wear habitually. With these, however, were some pretty
English scenes,--pretty except for the old fellow with the hanging
under-lip who infests every one of that interesting series; and a statue
or two, especially that famous one commonly called the Lahcoon, so as to
rhyme with moon and spoon, and representing an old man with his two sons
in the embraces of two monstrous serpents.

There is no denying that it was a very dashing achievement of the
Widow's to bring together so considerable a number of desirable guests.
She felt proud of her feat; but as to the triumph of getting Dudley
Venner to come out for a visit to Hyacinth Cottage, she was surprised
and almost frightened at her own success. So much might depend on the
impressions of that evening!

The next thing was to be sure that everybody should be in the right
place at the tea-table, and this the Widow thought she could manage by a
few words to the older guests and a little shuffling about and shifting
when they got to the table. To settle everything the Widow made out
a diagram, which the reader should have a chance of inspecting in an
authentic copy, if these pages were allowed under any circumstances to
be the vehicle of illustrations. If, however, he or she really wishes to
see the way the pieces stood as they were placed at the beginning of the
game, (the Widow's gambit,) he or she had better at once take a sheet
of paper, draw an oval, and arrange the characters according to the
following schedule.

At the head of the table, the Hostess, Widow Marilla Rowens. Opposite
her, at the other end, Rev. Dr. Honeywood. At the right of the Hostess,
Dudley Venner, next him Helen Darley, next her Dr. Kittredge, next him
Mrs. Blanche Creamer, then the Reverend Doctor. At the left of the
Hostess, Bernard Langdon, next him Letty Forester, next Letty Mr.
Richard Venner, next him Elsie, and so to the Reverend Doctor again.

The company came together a little before the early hour at which it was
customary to take tea in Rockland. The Widow knew everybody, of course:
who was there in Rockland she did not know? But some of them had to
be introduced: Mr. Richard Venner to Mr. Bernard, Mr. Bernard to Miss
Letty, Dudley Venner to Miss Helen Darley, and so on. The two young men
looked each other straight in the eyes,--both full of youthful life,
but one of frank and fearless aspect, the other with a dangerous feline
beauty alien to the New England half of his blood.

The guests talked, turned over the prints, looked at the flowers, opened
the "Proverbial Philosophy" with gilt edges, and the volume of Plays by
W. Shakspeare, examined the horse-pictures on the walls, and so passed
away the time until tea was announced, when they paired off for the room
where it was in readiness. The Widow had managed it well; everything was
just as she wanted it. Dudley Venner was between herself and the poor
tired-looking schoolmistress with her faded colors. Blanche Creamer, a
lax, tumble-to-pieces, _Greuze_-ish looking blonde, whom the Widow
hated because the men took to her, was purgatoried between the two old
Doctors, and could see all the looks that passed between Dick Venner and
his cousin. The young schoolmaster could talk to Miss Letty: it was his
business to know how to talk to school-girls. Dick would amuse himself
with his cousin Elsie. The old Doctors only wanted to be well fed and
they would do well enough.

It would be very pleasant to describe the tea-table; but the truth is,
it did not pretend to offer a plethoric banquet to the guests. The Widow
had not visited at the mansion-houses for nothing, and she had learned
there that an overloaded tea-table may do well enough for farm-hands
when they come in at evening from their work and sit down unwashed in
their shirt-sleeves, but that for decently bred people such an insult to
the memory of a dinner not yet half-assimilated is wholly inadmissible.
There was no lump of meat on the table, no wedge of cheese, no dish
of pickles. Everything was delicate, and almost everything of fair
complexion: white bread and biscuits, frosted and sponge cake, cream,
honey, straw-colored butter; only a shadow here and there, where the
fire had crisped and browned the surfaces of a stack of dry toast, or
where a preserve had brought away some of the red sunshine of the last
year's summer. The Widow shall have the credit of her well-ordered
tea-table, also of her bountiful cream-pitchers; for it is well known
that city-people find cream a very scarce luxury in a good many
country-houses of more pretensions than Hyacinth Cottage. There are no
better maxims for ladies who give tea-parties than these:--

_Cream is thicker than water._

_Large heart never loved little cream-pot._

There is a common feeling in genteel families that the third meal of
the day is not so essential a part of the daily bread as to require any
especial acknowledgment to the Providence that bestows it. Very devout
people, who would never sit down to a breakfast or a dinner without the
grace before meat which honors the Giver of it, feel as if they thanked
Heaven enough for their tea and toast by partaking of them cheerfully
without audible petition or ascription. But the Widow was not exactly
mansion-house-bred, and so thought it necessary to give the Reverend
Doctor a peculiar look which he understood at once as inviting his
professional services. He, therefore, uttered a few simple words of
gratitude, very quietly,--much to the satisfaction of some of the
guests, who had expected one of those elaborate effusions, with rolling
up of the eyes and rhetorical accents, so frequent with eloquent divines
when they address their Maker in genteel company.

Everybody began talking with the person sitting next at hand. Mr.
Bernard naturally enough turned his attention first to the Widow; but
somehow or other the right side of the Widow seemed to be more wide
awake than the left side, next him, and he resigned her to the
courtesies of Mr. Dudley Venner, directing himself, not very
unwillingly, to the young girl next him on the other side. Miss Letty
Forester, the granddaughter of the Reverend Doctor, was city-bred, as
anybody might see, and city-dressed, as any woman would know at sight; a
man might only feel the general effect of clear, well-matched colors, of
harmonious proportions, of the cut which makes everything cling like a
bather's sleeve where a natural outline is to be kept, and ruffle itself
up like the hackle of a pitted fighting-cock where art has a right to
luxuriate in silken exuberance. How this city-bred and city-dressed girl
came to be in Rockland Mr. Bernard did not know, but he knew at any rate
that she was his next neighbor and entitled to his courtesies. She was
handsome, too, when he came to look, very handsome when he came to
look again,--endowed with that city beauty which is like the beauty of
wall-fruit, something finer in certain respects than can be reared off
the pavement.

The truth is, the miserable routinists who keep repeating invidiously

"God made the country and man made the town,"

as if the town were a place to kill out the race in, do not know what
they are talking about. Where could they raise such Saint-Michael pears,
such Saint-Germains, such Brown Beurres, as we had until within a few
years growing within the walls of our old city-gardens? Is the dark
and damp cavern where a ragged beggar hides himself better than a
town-mansion that fronts the sunshine and backs on its own cool shadow,
with gas and water and all appliances to suit all needs?

God made the _cavern_ and man made the _house_! What then? The truth is,
the pavement keeps a deal of mischief from coming up out of the earth,
and, with a dash off of it in summer, just to cool the soles of the feet
when it gets too hot, is the best place for many constitutions, as some
few practical people have already discovered. And just so these beauties
that grow and ripen against the city-walls, these young fellows with
cheeks like peaches and young girls with cheeks like nectarines, show
that the most perfect forms of artificial life can do as much for the
human product as garden-culture for strawberries and blackberries.

If Mr. Bernard had philosophized or prosed in this way, with so pretty,
nay, so lovely a neighbor as Miss Letty Forester waiting for him to
speak to her, he would have to be dropped from this narrative as a
person unworthy of his good-fortune, and not deserving the kind reader's
further notice. On the contrary, he no sooner set his eyes fairly on her
than he said to himself that she was charming, and that he wished she
were one of his scholars at the Institute. So he began talking with her
in an easy way; for he knew something of young girls by this time, and,
of course, could adapt himself to a young lady who looked as if she
might be not more than fifteen or sixteen years old, and therefore
could hardly be a match in intellectual resources for the seventeen and
eighteen year-old first-class scholars of the Apollinean Institute.
But city-wall-fruit ripens early, and he soon found that this girl's
training had so sharpened her wits and stored her memory, that he need
not be at the trouble to stoop painfully in order to come down to her

The beauty of good-breeding is that it adjusts itself to all relations
without effort, true to itself always, however the manners of those
around it may change. Self-respect and respect for others,--the
sensitive consciousness poises itself in these as the compass in the
ship's binnacle balances itself and maintains its true level within the
two concentric rings that suspend it on their pivots. This thoroughbred
school-girl quite enchanted Mr. Bernard. He could not understand where
she got her style, her way of dress, her enunciation, her easy manners.
The minister was a most worthy gentleman, but this was not the Rockland
native-born manner; some new element had come in between the good,
plain, worthy man and this young girl, fit to be a Crown Prince's
partner where there were a thousand to choose from.

He looked across to Helen Barley, for he knew she would understand the
glance of admiration with which he called her attention to the young
beauty at his side; and Helen knew what a young girl could be, as
compared with what too many a one is, as well as anybody.

This poor, dear Helen of ours! How admirable the contrast between her
and the Widow on the other side of Dudley Venner! But, what was very
odd, that gentleman apparently thought the contrast was to the advantage
of this poor, dear Helen. At any rate, instead of devoting himself
solely to the Widow, he happened to be just at that moment talking in a
very interested and, apparently, not uninteresting way to his right-hand
neighbor, who, on her part, never looked more charmingly,--as Mr.
Bernard could not help saying to himself,--but, to be sure, he had just
been looking at the young girl next him, so that his eyes were brimful
of beauty, and may have spilled some of it on the first comer: for
you know M. Becquerel has been showing us lately how everything is
phosphorescent; that it soaks itself with light in an instant's
exposure, so that it is wet with liquid sunbeams, or, if you will,
tremulous with luminous vibrations, when first plunged into the negative
bath of darkness, and betrays itself by the light which escapes from its

Whatever was the reason, this poor, dear Helen never looked so sweetly.
Her plainly parted brown hair, her meek, blue eyes, her cheek just a
little tinged with color, the almost sad simplicity of her dress, and
that look he knew so well,--so full of cheerful patience, so sincere,
that he had trusted her from the first moment as the believers of the
larger half of Christendom trust the Blessed Virgin,--Mr. Bernard took
this all in at a glance, and felt as pleased as if it had been his own
sister Dorothea Elizabeth that he was looking at. As for Dudley Venner,
Mr. Bernard could not help being struck by the animated expression of
his countenance. It certainly showed great kindness, on his part, to
pay so much attention to this quiet girl, when he had the
thunder-and-lightning Widow on the other side of him.

Mrs. Marilla Rowens did not know what to make of it. She had made her
tea-party expressly for Mr. Dudley Venner. She had placed him just as
she wanted, between herself and a meek, delicate woman who dressed in
gray, wore a plain breastpin with hair in it, who taught a pack of
girls up there at the school, and looked as if she were born for a
teacher,--the very best foil that she could have chosen; and here was
this man, polite enough to herself, to be sure, but turning round to
that very undistinguished young person, as if he rather preferred her
conversation of the two!

The truth was that Dudley Venner and Helen Darley met as two travellers
might meet in the desert, wearied, both of them, with their long
journey, one having food, but no water, the other water, but no food.
Each saw that the other had been in long conflict with some trial; for
their voices were low and tender, as patiently borne sorrow and humbly
uttered prayers make every human voice. Through these tones, more than
by what they said, they came into natural sympathetic relations with
each other. Nothing could be more unstudied. As for Dudley Venner, no
beauty in all the world could have so soothed and magnetized him as the
very repose and subdued gentleness which the Widow had thought would
make the best possible background for her own more salient and effective
attractions. No doubt, Helen, on her side, was almost too readily
pleased with the confidence this new acquaintance she was making seemed
to show her from the very first. She knew so few men of any condition!
Mr. Silas Peckham: he was her employer, and she ought to think of him
as well as she could; but every time she thought of him it was with
a shiver of disgust. Mr. Bernard Langdon: a noble young man, a true
friend, like a brother to her,--God bless him, and send him some young
heart as fresh as his own! But this gentleman produced a new impression
upon her, quite different from any to which she was accustomed. His
rich, low tones had the strangest significance to her; she felt sure
he must have lived through long experiences, sorrowful like her own.
Elsie's father! She looked into his dark eyes, as she listened to him,
to see if they had any glimmer of that peculiar light, diamond-bright,
but cold and still, which she knew so well in Elsie's. Anything but
that! Never was there more tenderness, it seemed to her, than in the
whole look and expression of Elsie's father. She must have been a great
trial to him; yet his face was that of one who had been saddened, not
soured, by his discipline. Knowing what Elsie must be to him, how hard
she must make any parent's life, Helen could not but be struck with the
interest Mr. Dudley Venner showed in her as his daughter's instructress.
He was too kind to her; again and again she meekly turned from him, so
as to leave him free to talk to the showy lady at his other side, who
was looking all the while

"like the night Of cloudless realms and starry skies";

but still Mr. Dudley Venner, after a few courteous words, came back to
the blue eyes and brown hair; still he kept his look fixed upon her, and
his tones grew sweeter and lower as he became more interested in talk,
until this poor, dear Helen, what with surprise, and the bashfulness
natural to one who had seen little of the gay world, and the stirring of
deep, confused sympathies with this suffering father, whose heart seemed
so full of kindness, felt her cheeks glowing with unwonted flame, and
betrayed the pleasing trouble of her situation by looking so sweetly as
to arrest Mr. Bernard's eye for a moment, when he looked away from the
young beauty sitting next him.

Elsie meantime had been silent, with that singular, still, watchful
look which those who knew her well had learned to fear. Her head just a
little inclined on one side, perfectly motionless for whole minutes, her
eyes seeming to grow small and bright, as always when she was under her
evil influence, she was looking obliquely at the young girl on the
other side of her cousin Dick and next to Bernard Langdon. As for Dick
himself, she seemed to be paying very little attention to him. Sometimes
her eyes would wander off to Mr. Bernard, and their expression, as old
Dr. Kittredge, who watched her for a while pretty keenly, noticed, would
change perceptibly. One would have said that she looked with a kind of
dull hatred at the girl, but with a half-relenting reproachful anger at
Mr. Bernard.

Miss Letty Forester, at whom Elsie had been looking from time to time in
this fixed way, was conscious meanwhile of some unusual influence. First
it was a feeling of constraint,--then, as it were, a diminished power
over the muscles, as if an invisible elastic cobweb were spinning round
her,--then a tendency to turn away from Mr. Bernard, who was making
himself very agreeable, and look straight into those eyes which would
not leave her, and which seemed to be drawing her towards them, while at
the same time they chilled the blood in all her veins.

Mr. Bernard saw this influence coming over her. All at once he noticed
that she sighed, and that some little points of moisture began to
glisten on her forehead. But she did not grow pale perceptibly; she had
no involuntary or hysteric movements; she still listened to him and
smiled naturally enough. Perhaps she was only nervous at being stared
at. At any rate, she was coming under some unpleasant and unnatural
influence or other, and Mr. Bernard had seen enough of the strange
impression Elsie sometimes produced to wish this young girl to be
relieved from it, whatever it was. He turned toward Elsie and looked at
her in such a way as to draw her eyes upon him. Then he looked steadily
and calmly into them. It was a great effort, for some perfectly
inexplicable reason. At one instant he thought he could not sit where he
was; he must go and speak to Elsie. Then he wanted to take his eyes away
from hers; there was something intolerable in the light that came from
them. But he was determined to look her down, and he believed he could
do it, for he had seen her countenance change more than once when he had
caught her gaze steadily fixed on him. All this took not minutes, but
seconds. Presently she changed color slightly,--lifted her head, which
was inclined a little to one side,--shut and opened her eyes two or
three times, as if they had been pained or wearied,--and turned away
baffled, and shamed, as it would seem, and shorn for the time of her
singular and formidable or at least evil-natured power of swaying the
impulses of those around her.

It takes too long to describe these scenes where a good deal of life
is concentrated into a few silent seconds. Mr. Richard Venner had sat
quietly through it all, although this short pantomime had taken place
literally before his face. He saw what was going on well enough, and
understood it all perfectly well. Of course the schoolmaster had been
trying to make Elsie jealous, and had succeeded. The little school-girl
was a decoy-duck,--that was all. Estates like the Dudley property were
not to be had every day, and no doubt the Yankee usher was willing to
take some pains to make sure of Elsie. Doesn't Elsie look savage? Dick
involuntarily moved his chair a little away from her, and thought he
felt a pricking in the small white scars on his wrist. A dare-devil
fellow, but somehow or other this girl had taken strange hold of his
imagination, and he often swore to himself, that, when he married her,
he would carry a loaded revolver with him to his bridal chamber.

Mrs. Blanche Creamer raged inwardly at first to find herself between the
two old gentlemen of the party. It very soon gave her great comfort,
however, to see that Marilla Rowens had just missed it in her
calculations, and she chuckled immensely to find Dudley Venner devoting
himself chiefly to Helen Darley. If the Rowens woman should hook Dudley,
she felt as if she should gnaw all her nails off for spite. To think of
seeing her barouching about Rockland behind a pair of long-tailed bays
and a coachman with a band on his hat, while she, Blanche Creamer, was
driving herself about in a one-horse "carriage"! Recovering her spirits
by degrees, she began playing her surfaces off at the two old Doctors,
just by way of practice. First she heaved up a glaring white shoulder,
the right one, so that the Reverend Doctor should be stunned by it, if
such a thing might be. The Reverend Doctor was human, as the Apostle was
not ashamed to confess himself. Half-devoutly and half-mischievously he
repeated inwardly, "Resist the Devil and he will flee from you." As the
Reverend Doctor did not show any lively susceptibility, she thought
she would try the left shoulder on old Dr. Kittredge. That worthy and
experienced student of science was not at all displeased with the
manoeuvre, and lifted his head so as to command the exhibition through
his glasses. "Blanche is good for half a dozen years or so, if she is
careful," the Doctor said to himself, "and then she must take to her
prayer-book." After this spasmodic failure of Mrs. Blanche Creamer's
to stir up the old Doctors, she returned again to the pleasing task of
watching the Widow in her evident discomfiture. But dark as the Widow
looked in her half-concealed pet, she was but as a pale shadow, compared
to Elsie in her silent concentration of shame and anger.

"Well, there is one good thing," said Mrs. Blanche Creamer; "Dick
doesn't get much out of that cousin of his this evening! Doesn't he look
handsome, though?"

So Mrs. Blanche, being now a good deal taken up with her observations of
those friends of hers and ours, began to be rather careless of her two
old Doctors, who naturally enough fell into conversation with each other
across the white surfaces of that lady,--perhaps not very politely, but,
under the circumstances, almost as a matter of necessity.

When a minister and a doctor get talking together, they always have a
great deal to say; and so it happened that the company left the table
just as the two Doctors were beginning to get at each other's ideas
about various interesting matters. If we follow them into the other
parlor, we can, perhaps, pick up something of their conversation.



The company rearranged itself with some changes after leaving the
tea-table Dudley Venner was very polite to the Widow; but that lady
having been called off for a few moments for some domestic arrangement,
he slid back to the side of Helen Darley, his daughter's faithful
teacher. Elsie had got away by herself, and was taken up in studying the
stereoscopic Lahcoon. Dick, being thus set free, had been seized upon by
Mrs. Blanche Creamer, who had diffused herself over three-quarters of
a sofa and beckoned him to the remaining fourth. Mr. Bernard and Miss
Letty were having a snug _tete-a-tete_ in the recess of a bay-window.
The two Doctors had taken two armchairs and sat squared off against each
other. Their conversation is perhaps as well worth reporting as that of
the rest of the company, and, as it was earned on in a louder tone, was
of course more easy to gather and put on record.

It was a curious sight enough to see those two representatives of two
great professions brought face to face to talk over the subjects they
had been looking at all their lives from such different points of view.
Both were old; old enough to have been moulded by their habits of
thought and life; old enough to have all their beliefs "fretted in," as
vintners say,--thoroughly worked up with their characters. Each of them
looked his calling. The Reverend Doctor had lived a good deal among
books in his study; the Doctor, as we will call the medical gentleman,
had been riding about the country for between thirty and forty years.
His face looked tough and weather-worn; while the Reverend Doctor's,
hearty as it appeared, was of finer texture. The Doctor's was the graver
of the two; there was something of grimness about it,--partly owing
to the northeasters he had faced for so many years, partly to long
companionship with that stern personage who never deals in sentiment or
pleasantry. His speech was apt to be brief and peremptory; it was a way
he had got by ordering patients; but he could discourse somewhat, on
occasion, as the reader may find out. The Reverend Doctor had an open,
smiling expression, a cheery voice, a hearty laugh, and a cordial
way with him which some thought too lively for his cloth, but which
children, who are good judges of such matters, delighted in, so that he
was the favorite of all the little rogues about town. But he had the
clerical art of sobering down in a moment, when asked to say grace while
somebody was in the middle of some particularly funny story; and though
his voice was so cheery in common talk, in the pulpit, like almost all
preachers, he had a wholly different and peculiar way of speaking,
supposed to be more acceptable to the Creator than the natural manner.
In point of fact, most of our anti-papal and anti-prelatical clergymen
do really _intone_ their prayers, without suspecting in the least that
they have fallen into such a Romish practice.

This is the way the conversation between the Doctor of Divinity and the
Doctor of Medicine was going on at the point where these notes take it

"_Ubi tres medici, duo athei_, you know, Doctor. Your profession has
always had the credit of being lax in doctrine,--though pretty stringent
in _practice_, ha! ha!"

"Some priest said that," the Doctor answered, dryly. "They always talked
Latin when they had a bigger lie than common to get rid of."

"Good!" said the Reverend Doctor; "I'm afraid they would lie a little
sometimes. But isn't there some truth in it, Doctor? Don't you think
your profession is apt to see 'Nature' in the place of the God of
Nature,--to lose sight of the great First Cause in their daily study of
secondary causes?"

"I've thought about that," the Doctor answered, "and I've talked about
it and read about it, and I've come to the conclusion that nobody
believes in God and trusts in God quite so much as the doctors; only it
isn't just the sort of Deity that some of your profession have wanted
them to take up with. There was a student of mine wrote a dissertation
on the Natural Theology of Health and Disease, and took that old lying
proverb for his motto. He knew a good deal more about books than ever
I did, and had studied in other countries. I'll tell you what he said
about it. He said the old Heathen Doctor, Galen, praised God for his
handiwork in the human body, just as if he had been a Christian, or the
Psalmist himself. He said they had this sentence set up in large letters
in the great lecture-room in Paris where he attended: _I dressed his
wound and God healed him._ That was an old surgeon's saying. And he gave
a long list of doctors who were not only Christians, but famous ones. I
grant you, though, ministers and doctors are very apt to see differently
in spiritual matters."

"That's it," said the Reverend Doctor; "you are apt to see 'Nature'
where we see God, and appeal to 'Science' where we are contented with

"We don't separate God and Nature, perhaps, as you do," the Doctor
answered. "When we say that God is omnipresent and omnipotent and
omniscient, we are a little more apt to mean it than your folks are.
We think, when a wound heals, that God's _presence_ and _power_ and
_knowledge_ are there, healing it, just as that old surgeon did. We
think a good many theologians, working among their books, don't see the
facts of the world they live in. When we tell 'em of these facts, they
are apt to call us materialists and atheists and infidels, and all
that. We can't help seeing the facts, and we don't think it's wicked to
mention 'em."

"Do tell me," the Reverend Doctor said, "some of these facts we are in
the habit of overlooking, and which your profession thinks it can see
and understand."

"That's very easy," the Doctor replied. "For instance: you don't
understand or don't allow for idiosyncrasies as we learn to. We know
that food and physic act differently with different people; but you
think the same kind of truth is going to suit, or ought to suit, all
minds. We don't fight with a patient because he can't take magnesia or
opium; but you are all the time quarrelling over your beliefs, as if
belief did not depend very much on race and constitution, to say nothing
of early training."

"Do you mean to say that every man is not absolutely free to choose his

"The men you write about in your studies are, but not the men we see
in the real world. There is some apparently congenital defect in the
Indians, for instance, that keeps them from choosing civilization and
Christianity. So with the Gypsies, very likely. Everybody knows
that Catholicism or Protestantism is a good deal a matter of race.
Constitution has more to do with belief than people think for. I went to
a Universalist church, when I was in the city one day, to hear a famous
man whom all the world knows, and I never saw such pews-full of broad
shoulders and florid faces, and substantial, wholesome-looking persons,
male and female, in all my life. Why, it was astonishing. Either their
creed made them healthy, or they chose it because they were healthy.
Your folks have never got the hang of human nature."

"I am afraid this would be considered a degrading and dangerous view of
human beliefs and responsibility for them," the Reverend Doctor replied.
"Prove to a man that his will is governed by something outside of
himself, and you have lost all hold on his moral and religious nature.
There is nothing bad men want to believe so much as that they are
governed by necessity. Now that which is at once degrading and dangerous
cannot be true."

"No doubt," the Doctor replied, "all large views of mankind limit our
estimate of the absolute freedom of the will. But I don't think it
degrades or endangers us, for this reason, that, while it makes us
charitable to the rest of mankind, our own sense of freedom, whatever it
is, is never affected by argument. _Conscience won't be reasoned with_.
We feel that _we_ can practically do this or that, and if we choose the
wrong, we know we are responsible; but observation teaches us that this
or that other race or individual has not the same practical freedom of
choice. I don't see how we can avoid this conclusion in the instance of
the American Indians. The science of Ethnology has upset a good many
theoretical notions about human nature."

"Science!" said the Reverend Doctor, "science! that was a word the
Apostle Paul did not seem to think much of, if we may judge by the
Epistle to Timothy: 'Oppositions of science falsely so called.' I own
that I am jealous of that word and the pretensions that go with
it. Science has seemed to me to be very often only the handmaid of

"Doctor!" the physician said, emphatically, "science is knowledge.
Nothing that is not _known_ properly belongs to science. Whenever
knowledge obliges us to doubt, we are always safe in doubting.
Astronomers foretell eclipses, say how long comets are to stay with us,
point out where a new planet is to be found. We see they _know_ what
they assert, and the poor old Roman Catholic Church has at last to knock
under. So Geology _proves_ a certain succession of events, and the best
Christian in the world must make the earth's history square with it.
Besides, I don't think you remember what great revelations of himself
the Creator has made in the minds of the men who have built up science.
You seem to me to hold his human masterpieces very cheap. Don't
you think the 'inspiration of the Almighty' gave Newton and Cuvier

The Reverend Doctor was not arguing for victory. In fact, what he
wanted was to call out the opinions of the old physician by a show of
opposition, being already predisposed to agree with many of them. He was
rather trying the common arguments, as one tries tricks of fence merely
to learn the way of parrying. But just here he saw a tempting opening,
and could not resist giving a horne-thrust.

"Yes; but you surely would not consider it inspiration of the same kind
as that of the writers of the Old Testament?"

That cornered the Doctor, and he paused a moment before he replied. Then
he raised his head, so as to command the Reverend Doctor's face through
his spectacles, and said,--

"I did not say that. You are clear, I suppose, that the Omniscient spoke
through Solomon, but that Shakspeare wrote without his help?"

The Reverend Doctor looked very grave. It was a bold, blunt way
of putting the question. He turned it aside with the remark, that
Shakspeare seemed to him at times to come as near inspiration as any
human being not included among the sacred writers.

"Doctor," the physician began, as from a sudden suggestion, "you won't
quarrel with me, if I tell you some of my real thoughts, will you?"

"Say on, my dear Sir, say on," the minister answered, with his most
genial smile; "your real thoughts are just what I want to get at. A
man's real thoughts are a great rarity. If I don't agree with you, I
shall like to hear you."

The Doctor began; and in order to give his thoughts more connectedly, we
will omit the conversational breaks, the questions and comments of the
clergyman, and all accidental interruptions.

"When the old ecclesiastics said that where there were three doctors
there were two atheists, they lied, of course. They called everybody
that differed from them atheists, until they found out that not
believing in God wasn't nearly so ugly a crime as not believing in some
particular dogma; then they called them _heretics_, until so many good
people had been burned under that name that it began to smell too strong
of roasting flesh,--and after that _infidels_, which properly means
people without faith, of whom there are not a great many in any place or
time. But then, of course, there was some reason why doctors shouldn't
think about religion exactly as ministers did, or they never would have
made that proverb. It's very likely that something of the same kind is
true now; whether it is so or not, I am going to tell you the reasons
why it would not be strange, if doctors should take rather different
views from clergymen about some matters of belief. I don't, of course,
mean all doctors nor all clergymen. Some doctors go as far as any old
New-England divine, and some clergymen agree very well with the doctors
that think least according to rule.

"To begin with their ideas of the Creator himself. They always see him
trying to help his creatures out of their troubles. A man no sooner gets
a cut, than the Great Physician, whose agency we often call _Nature_,
goes to work, first to stop the blood, and then to heal the wound, and
then to make the scar as small as possible. If a man's pain exceeds a
certain amount, he faints, and so gets relief. If it lasts too long,
habit comes in to make it tolerable. If it is altogether too bad, he
dies. That is the best thing to be done under the circumstances. So you
see, the doctor is constantly in presence of a benevolent agency working
against a settled order of things, of which pain and disease are
the accidents, so to speak. Well, no doubt they find it harder than
clergymen to believe that there can be any world or state from which
this benevolent agency is wholly excluded. This may be very wrong; but
it is not unnatural. They can hardly conceive of a permanent state of
being in which cuts would never try to heal, nor habit render suffering
endurable. This is one effect of their training.

"Then, again, their attention is very much called to human limitations.
Ministers work out the machinery of responsibility in an abstract kind
of way; they have a kind of algebra of human nature, in which _friction_
and _strength_ (or _weakness_) _of material_ are left out. You see,
a doctor is in the way of studying children from the moment of birth
upwards. For the first year or so he sees that they are just as much
pupils of their Maker as the young of any other animals. Well, their
Maker trains them to _pure selfishness_. Why? In order that they may be
sure to take care of themselves. So you see, when a child comes to be,
we will say a year and a day old, and makes his first choice between
right and wrong, he is at a disadvantage; for he has that _vis a tergo_,
as we doctors call it, that force from behind, of a whole year's life of
selfishness, for which he is no more to blame than a calf is to blame
for having lived in the same way, purely to gratify his natural
appetites. Then we see that baby grow up to a child, and, if he is fat
and stout and red and lively, we expect to find him troublesome and
noisy, and, perhaps, sometimes disobedient more or less; that's the way
each new generation breaks its eggshell; but if he is very weak and
thin, and is one of the kind that may be expected to die early, he will
very likely sit in the house all day and read good books about other
little sharp-faced children just like himself; who died early, having
always been perfectly indifferent to all the out-door amusements of the
wicked little red-cheeked children. Some of the little folks we watch
grow up to be young women, and occasionally one of them gets nervous,
what we call hysterical, and then that girl will begin to play all sorts
of pranks,--to lie and cheat, perhaps, in the most unaccountable way, so
that she might seem to a minister a good example of total depravity. We
don't see her in that light. We give her iron and valerian, and get her
on horseback, if we can, and so expect to make her will come all right
again. By-and-by we are called in to see an old baby, three-score years
and ten or more old. We find this old baby has never got rid of that
first year's teaching which led him to fill his stomach with all he
could pump into it, and his hands with everything he could grab. People
call him a miser. We are sorry for him; but we can't help remembering
his first year's training, and the natural effect of money on the great
majority of those that have it. So while the ministers say he 'shall
hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven' we like to remind them that
'with God all things are possible.'

"Once more, we see all kinds of monomania and insanity. We learn from
them to recognize all sorts of queer tendencies in minds supposed to
be sane, so that we have nothing but compassion for a large class of
persons condemned as sinners by theologians, but considered by us as
invalids. We have constant reasons for noticing the transmission of
qualities from parents to offspring, and we find it hard to hold a child
accountable in any moral point of view for inherited bad temper or
tendency to drunkenness,--as hard as we should to blame him for
inheriting gout or asthma. I suppose we are more lenient with human
nature than theologians generally are. We know that the spirits of men
and their views of the present and the future go up and down, with the
barometer, and that a permanent depression of one inch in the mercurial
column would affect the whole theology of Christendom.

"Ministers talk about the human will as if it stood on a high look-out,
with plenty of light, and elbow-room reaching to the horizon. Doctors
are constantly noticing how it is tied up and darkened by inferior
organization, by disease, and all sorts of crowding interferences, until
they get to look upon Hottentots and Indians--and a good many of their
own race--as a kind of self-conscious blood-clocks with very limited
power of self-determination. That's the _tendency_, I say, of
a doctor's experience. But the people to whom they address their
statements of the results of their observation belong to the thinking
class of the highest races, and _they_ are conscious of a great deal of
liberty of will. So in the face of the fact that civilization with all
it offers has proved a dead failure with the aboriginal races of this
country,--on the whole, I say, a dead failure,--they talk as if they
knew from their own will all about that of a Digger Indian! We are more
apt to go by observation of the facts in the case. We are constantly
seeing weakness where you see depravity. I don't say we're _right_; I
only tell what you must often find to be the fact, right or wrong, in
talking with doctors. You see, too, our notions of bodily and moral
disease, or sin, are apt to go together. We used to be as hard on
sickness as you were on sin. We know better now. We don't look at
sickness as we used to, and try to poison, it with everything that is
offensive,--burnt toads and earth-worms and viper-broth, and worse
things than these. We know that disease has something back of it which
the body isn't to blame for, at least in most cases, and which very
often it is trying to get rid of. Just so with sin. I will agree to take
a hundred new-born babes of a certain stock and return seventy-five of
them in a dozen years true and honest, if not 'pious' children. And I
will take another hundred, of a different stock, and put them in the
hands of certain Ann-Street teachers, and seventy-five of them will be
thieves and liars at the end of the same dozen years. I have heard of
an old character, Colonel Jaques, I believe it was, a famous
cattle-breeder, who used to say he could breed to pretty much any
pattern he wanted to. Well, we doctors see so much of families, how the
tricks of the blood keep breaking out, just as much in character as they
do in looks, that we can't help feeling as if a great many people hadn't
a fair chance to be what is called 'good,' and that there isn't a text
in the Bible better worth keeping always in mind than that one, 'Judge
not, that ye be not judged.'

"As for our getting any quarter at the hands of theologians, we don't
expect it, and have no right to. You don't give each other any quarter.
I have had two religious books sent me by friends within a week or
two. One is Mr. Brownson's; he is as fair and square as Euclid; a
real honest, strong thinker, and one that knows what he is talking
about,--for he has tried all sorts of religions, pretty much. He tells
us that the Roman Catholic Church is the one 'through which alone we can
hope for heaven.' The other is by a worthy Episcopal rector, who appears
to write as if he were in earnest, and he calls the Papacy the 'Devil's
Masterpiece,' and talks about the 'Satanic scheme' of that very Church
'through which alone,' as Mr. Brownson tells us, 'we can hope for
heaven'! What's the use in _our_ caring about hard words after
this,--'atheists,' heretics, infidels, and the like? They're, after all,
only the cinders picked up out of those heaps of ashes round the stumps
of the old stakes where they used to burn men, women, and children for
not thinking just like other folks. They'll 'crock' your fingers, but
they can't burn us.

"Doctors are the best-natured people in the world, except when they get
fighting with each other. And they have some advantages over you. You
inherit your notions from a set of priests that had no wives and no
children, or none to speak of, and so let their humanity die out of
them. It didn't seem much to them to condemn a few thousand millions of
people to purgatory or worse for a mistake of judgment. They didn't know
what it was to have a child look up in their faces and say 'Father!' It
will take you a hundred or two more years to get decently humanized,
after so many centuries of dehumanizing celibacy.

"Besides, though our libraries are, perhaps, not commonly quite so big
as yours, God opens one book to physicians that a good many of you don't
know much about,--the Book of Life. That is none of your dusty folios
with black letters between pasteboard and leather, but it is printed


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