University of California Berkeley
From the library
JAMES D. HART
A BOOK OF THE HEART.
BY IK MARVEL.
It is worth the labor saith Plotinus to consider well of Love, whether
it be a God or a divell, or passion of the minde, or partly God t partly divelh
partly passion. BURTON'S ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY, Part III. Sec. i.
A NEW EDITION.
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by
CHARLES SCRTBNER &Co.,
tn the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Uuited States for the Southera
District of New York
STBREOTYPED AHD PRINTED BT
H 0. HOUQHTON AND COMPANY
ONE AT HOME,
IN WHOM ARE MET SO MANY OF THE GRACES AND
THE VIRTUES, OF WHICH AS BACHELOR
THIS NEW EDITION OF MY BOOK
A NEW PREFACE.
MY publisher has written me that the old type of
this book of the Reveries are so far worn and
battered, that they will bear no further usage ; and, in
view of a new edition, he asks for such revision of the
text as I may deem judicious, and for a few lines in way
1 began the revision. I scored out word after word ;
presently I came to the scoring out of paragraphs ; and
before I had done, I was making my scores by the page.
It would never do. It might be the better, but it
would not be the same. I cannot lop away those twelve
swift, changeful years that are gone.
Middle age does not look on life like youth ; we can-
not make it. And why mix the years and the thoughts ?
Let the young carry their own burdens, and banner ;
and we ours.
I have determined not to touch the book. A race
lias grown up which may welcome its youngness, and
find a spirit or a sentiment in it that cleaves to them,
and cheers them, and is true. I hope they will.
For me those young years are gone. I cannot go
6 A NEW
back to that tide. I hear the rush of it in quiet hours,
like the murmur of lost music. The companions whc
discussed with me these little fantasies as they came
reeking from the press, and suggested how I might
have mended matters by throwing in a new light here,
or deepening the shadows there, are no longer within
ear-shot. If living, they are widely scattered ; heads
of young families, maybe, who will bring now to the
re-reading of passages they thought too sombre, the light
of such bitter experience as, ten years since, neither
they nor I had fathomed. Others are dapper, elderly
bachelors, coquetting with the world in the world's
great cities, brisk in their step, coaxing all the
features of youth to stay by them, brushing their hair
with needless and nervous frequency over the growing
spot of baldness, perversely reckoning themselves
still proper mates for girlhood, dreaming yet (as we
once dreamed together) of an Elysium in store, and of
a fairy future, where only roses shall bloom.
The houses where I was accustomed to linger show
other faces at the windows, bright and cheery faces, it
is true, but they are looking over at a young fellow
upon the other side of the way.
The children who sat for my pictures are grown ; the
boys I watched at their game of taw, and who clapped
their hands gleefully at a good shot, are buttoned
into natty blue frocks, and wear little lace-bordered
bands upon their shoulders; and over and over, as J
read my morning paper, I am brought to sudden pause,
A NEW PREFACE. 7
and a strange electric current thrills me, as I come upon
their boy-names printed in the dead-roll of the war.
The girls who wore the charming white pinafores, and
a wild tangle of flaxen curls, have now netted up all
those clustering tresses into a stately Pompadour head-
dress ; and they rustle past me in silks, and do not know
The elderly friends who cheered me with kindly ex-
pressions of look and tongue I am compelled to say
now trip in their speech ; and I observe a little mo-
rocco case at their elbows for eye-glasses.
And as they put them on, to read what I may be say-
ing now, let them keep their old charity, and think as
tvell of me as they can.
THUS book is neither more nor less than it pretends
to be : it is a collection of those floating Reveries
which have, from time to time, drifted across my brain.
I never yet met with a bachelor who had not his share
of just such floating visions ; and the only difference
between us lies in the fact that I have tossed them from
me in the shape of a Book.
If they had been worked over with more unity of
design, I dare say I might have made a respectable
novel ; as it is, I have chosen the honester way of setting
them down as they came seething from my thought, with
all their crudities and contrasts, uncovered.
As for the truth that is in them, the world may be-
lieve what it likes ; for having written to humor the
world, it would be hard if I should curtail any of its
privileges of judgment. I should think there was as
much truth in them as in most Reveries.
The first story of the book has already had some
publicity ; and the criticisms upon it have amused and
pleased me. One honest journalist avows that it could
never have been written by a bachelor. I thank him
for thinking so well of me, and heartily wish that his
thought were as true as it is kind.
Yet I am inclined to think that bachelors are the only
safe and secure observers of all the phases of married
life. The rest of the world have their hobbies, and by
law, as well as by immemorial custom, are reckoned
unfair witnesses in everything relating to their matri
Perhaps I ought however to make an exception in
favor of spinsters, who, like us, are independent spec-
tators, and possess just that kind of indifference to the
marital state which makes them intrepid in their obser-
vations, and very desirable for authorities.
As for the style of the book, I have nothing to say for
it, except to refer to my title. These are not sermons,
nor essays, nor criticisms ; they are only Reveries.
And if the reader should stumble upon occasional mag-
niloquence, or be worried with a little too much of sen-
timent, pray let him remember that I am dreaming
But while I say this in the hope of nicking off the
wiry edge of my reader's judgment, I shall yet stand up
boldly for the general tone and character of the book,
If there is bad feeling in it, or insincerity, or shallow
sentiment, or any foolish depth of affection betrayed,
I am responsible ; and the critics may expose it to their
I have moreover a kindly feeling for these Reveries ;
from their very private character : they consist mainly
of just such whimseys, and reflections, as a great many
brother bachelors are apt to indulge in, but which they
are too cautious, or too prudent, to lay before the world.
As I have in this matter shown a frankness and naivete
which are unusual, I shall ask a corresponding frankness
in my reader ; and I can assure him safely that this is
eminently one of those books which were "never in-
tended for publication."
In the hope that this plain avowal may quicken the
reader's charity, and screen me from cruel judgment,
I remain, with sincere good wishes,
NEW YORK, Nov. 1850
UVKK A WOOD-FIRE 17
I. SMOKE SIGNIFYING DOUBT ..... 21
II. BLAZE SIGNIFYING CHEER 3C
III. ASHES SIGNIFYING DESOLATION .... 31
BY A CITY GRATE .53
I. SEA-COAL .60
II. ANTHRACITE .77
OVER HIS CIGAR 95
I. LIGHTED WITH A COAL, 99
II. LIGHTED WITH A WISP OF PAPER .... 112
III. LIGHTED WITH A MATCP 126
MORNING, NOON, AND EVENING 141
I. MORNING WHICH is THE PAST .... 148
THE SEA . . .... 168
THE FATHER-LAND ..... .175
A ROMAN GIRL .184
THE APENNINES . . . . . . . 194
ENRICA .... . 202
II. NOON WHICH IS THE PRESENT f . . . 210
EARLY FRIENDS 212
SCHOOL REVISITED ...... 220
THE PACKET OF BELLA. ... 232
III. EVENING WHICH is THE FUTURE . . . , 241
CARRY , ,245
THE LETTER ,253
NEW TRAVEL 259
HOMJS . . . a 271
SMOKE, FLAME, AND ASHES.
OVER A WOOD-FIRE.
"1 HAVE got a quiet farm-house in the country, a very
-*- humble place to be sure, tenanted by a worthy
enough man, of the old New-England stamp, where I
sometimes go for a day or two in the winter, to look
over the farm accounts, and to see how the stock is
thriving on the winter's keep.
One side the door, as you enter from the porch, is a
little parlor, scarce twelve feet by ten, with a cosy-look-
ing fireplace, a heavy oak floor, a couple of arm-chairs,
and a brown table with carved lions' feet. Out of this
room opens a little cabinet, only big enough for a broad
bachelor bedstead, where I sleep upon feathers, and
wake in the morning with my eye upon a saucy colored
lithographic print of some fancy " Bessy."
It happens to be the only house in the world of
which I 9m bona-fidc owner ; and I take a vast deal of
comfort in treating it just as I choose. I manage tc
break some article of furniture, almost every time I paj
it a visit ; and if T cannot open the window readily of a
18 REVERIES OF A BACHELOR.
morning, to breathe the fresh air, I knock out a pane 01
two of glass with my boot. I lean against the walls in
a very old arm-chair there is on the premises, and sea rce
ever'fail to worry such a hole in the plastering as would
set me down for a round charge for damages in town, 01
make a prim housewife fret herself into a raging fever.
I iaugli out loud with myself, in my big arm-chair, whon
I think that I am neither afraid of one nor the other.
As for the fire, I keep the little hearth so hot as to
warm half the cellar below, and the whole space be-
tween the jambs roars for hours together with white
flame. To be sure, the windows are not very tight, be-
tween broken panes and bad joints, so that the fire,
large as it is, is by no means an extravagant comfort.
As night approaches, I have a huge pile of oak and
hickory placed beside the hearth ; I put out the tallow
candle on the mantel, (using the family snuffers, with
one leg broke,) then, drawing my chair directly in front
of the blazing wood, and setting one foot on each of
the old iron fire-dogs, (until they grow too warm,) I dis-
pose myself for an evening of such sober an d thought-
ful quietude, as I believe, on my soul, that very few of
my fellow-men have the good fortune to enjoy.
My tenant, meantime, in the other room, I can hear
riow and then, though there is a thick stone chimney
and broad entry between, multiplying contrivances with
his wife to put two babies to sleep. This occupies
OVER A WOOD-FIRE. 19
them, I should say, usually an hour ; though my only
measure of time (for I never carry a watch into the
country) is the blaze of my fire. By ten, or there-
abouts, my stock of wood is nearly exhausted ; I pile
upon the hot coals what remains, and sit watching how
it kindles, and blazes, and goes out, even like our
joys ! and then slip by the light of the embers into
my bed, where I luxuriate in such sound and healthful
slumber as only such rattling window-frames, and coun-
try air, can supply.
But to return. The other evening, it happened to
be on my last visit to my farm-house, when I had
exhausted all the ordinary rural topics of thought, had
formed all sorts of conjectures as to the income of the
year ; had planned a new wall around one lot, and the
clearing up of another, now covered with patriarchal
wood ; and wondered if the little rickety house would
not be after all a snug enough box to live and to die
in. I fell on a sudden into such an unprecedented line
of thought, which took such deep hold of my sympathies
sometimes even starting tears that I determined,
the next day, to set as much of it as I could recall, on
Something it may have been the home-looking
blaze, (I am a bachelor of say six and twenty,) or
possibly a plaintive cry of the baby in my tenant's
room had suggested to me the thought of Mar-
20 REVERIES OF A BACHELOR.
I piled upon the heated fire-dogs the last armful of
my wood ; and now, said I, bracing myself courageously
between the arms of my chair, I '11 not flinch ; I '11 pur-
sue the thought wherever it leads, though it lead me to
the d , (I am apt to be hasty,) at least, continued
I, softening, until my fire is out.
The wood was green, and at first showed no disposi
lion to blaze. It smoked furiously. Smoke, thought I,
always goes before blaze ; and so does doubt go before
decision : and my Reverie, from that very starting point
slipped into this shape :
Smoke Signifying Doubt.
A WIFE ? thought I ; yes, a wife !
And why !
And pray, my dear sir, why not why ? Why not
doubt ; why not hesitate ; why not tremble ?
Does a man buy a ticket in a lottery a poor man,
whose whole earnings go in to secure the ticket
without trembling, hesitating, and doubting ?
Can a man stake his bachelor respectability, his
independence and comfort, upon the die of absorbing,
unchanging, relentless marriage, without trembling at
the venture ?
Shall a man who has been free to chase his fancies
over the wide world, without let or hindrance, shut
himself up to marriage-ship, within four walls called
Home, that are to claim him, his time, his trouble, and
his tears, thenceforward forevermore, without doubts
thick, and thick-coming as Smoke ?
Shall he who has been hitherto a mere observer of
other men's cares and business, moving off where
22 REVERIES OF A BACHELOR.
they made him sick of heart, approaching whenevei
and wherever they made him gleeful, shall he now
undertake administration of just such cares and busi-
ness, without qualms ? Shall he, whose whole life has
been but a nimble succession of escapes from trifling
ilifficulties, now broach without doubtings that Matri
inony, where if difficulty beset him, there is no escape.
Shall this brain of mine, careless-working, never tired
with idleness, feeding on long vagaries and high gigan-
tic castles, dreaming out beatitudes hour by hour,
turn itself at length to such dull task-work, as thinking
out a livelihood for wife and children ?
Where thenceforward will be those sunny dreams in
which I have warmed my fancies and my heart, and
lighted my eye with crystal? This very marriage,
which a brilliant working imagination has invested time
and again with brightness and delight, can serve nc
longer as a mine for teeming fancy : all, alas ! will be
gone reduced to the dull standard of the actual !
No more room for intrepid forays of imagination no
more gorgeous realm-making all will be over !
Why not, I thought, go on dreaming ?
Can any wife be prettier than an after-dinner fancy,
idle and yet vivid, can paint for you ? Can any chil-
dren make less noise than the little, rosy-cheeked ones,
who have no existence except in the omnium gatherum
of your own brain ? Can any housewife be more unex
SMOKE SIGNIFYING DOUBT. 28
septionable than she who goes sweeping daintily the cob-
webs that gather in your dreams ? Can any domestic
larder be better stocked than the private larder of
your head dozing on a cushioned chair-back at Del-
monico's ? Can any family purse be better filled thai
the exceeding plump one you dream of, after reading
such pleasant books as Miinchhausen, or Typee?
But if, after all, it must be, duty, or what-not, mak-
ing provocation, what then ? And I clapped my feet
hard against the fire-dogs, and leaned back, and turned
my face to the ceiling, as much as to say, And where
on earth, then, shall a poor devil look for a wife ?
Somebody says, Lyttleton or Shaftesbury I think,
that " marriages would be happier if they were all
arranged by the Lord Chancellor." Unfortunately, we
have no Lord Chancellor to make this commutation of
Shall a man then scour the country on a mule's
back, like Honest Gil Bias of Santillane ; or shall he
make application to some such intervening providence
as Madame St. Marc, who, as I see by the Presse,
manages these matters to one's hand for some five per
tent, on the fortunes of the parties ?
I have trouted, when the brook was so low, and the
gky so hot, that I might as well have thrown my fly
upon the turnpike; and I have hunted hare at noon,
and woodcock in snow-time, never despairing, scarce
24 REVERIES OF A BACHELOR.
doubting j but for a poor hunter of his kind, without
traps or snares, or any aid of police or constabulary,
to traverse the world, where are swarming, on a mod-
erate computation, some three hundred and odd mill-
ions of unmarried women, for a single capture irre-
mediable, unchangeable and yet a capture which, by
strange metonymy not laid down in the books, is very
apt to turn captor into captive, and make game of
hunter, all this, surely, surely may make a man shrug
with doubt !
Then, again, there are the plaguey wife's rela-
tions. Who knows how many third, fourth, or fifth
cousins will appear at careless complimentary intervals,
long after you had settled into the placid belief that
all congratulatory visits were at an end ? How many
twisted-headed brothers will be putting in their advice,
as a friend to Peggy ?
How many maiden aunts will come to spend a month
or two with their " dear Peggy," and want to know
every tea-time " if she is n't a dear love of a wife ? "
Then, dear father-in-law will beg (taking dear Peggy's
hand in his) to give a little wholesome counsel; and
will be very sure to advise just the contrary of what
you had determined to undertake. And dear mamma-
in-law must set her nose into Peggy's cupboard, and
insist upon having the key to your own private lockei
in the wainscot
SMOKE SIGNIFYING DOUBT. 25
Then, perhaps, there is a little bevy of dirty-nosed
nephews who come to spend the holidays, and eat up
your East India sweetmeats; and who are forever
tramping over your head, or raising the old Harry be-
low, while you are busy with your clients. Last, and
worst, is some fidgety old uncle, forever too cold or too
hot, who vexes you with his patronizing airs, and impu
dently kisses his little Peggy !
That could be borne, however ; for perhaps he
has promised his fortune to Peggy. Peggy, then, will
be rich : (and the thought made me rub my shins,
which were now getting comfortably warm upon the
fire-dogs.) Then, she will be forever talking of her
fortune ; and pleasantly reminding you, on occasion
of a favorite purchase, how lucky that she had the
means ; and dropping hints about economy ; and buy-
ing very extravagant Paisleys.
She will annoy you by looking over the stock-list at
breakfast-time ; and mention quite carelessly to your
clients that she is interested in such or such a specu-
She will be provokingly silent when you hint to a
tradesman that you have not the money by you foi
his small bill; in short, she will tear the life out of
you, making you pay in righteous retribution of annoy-
ance, grief, vexation, shame, and sickness of heart, for
the superlative folly of " marrying rich."
26 REVERIES OF A BACHELOR.
But if not rich, then poor. Bah ! the thought
made me stir the coals ; but there was still no blaze.
The paltry earnings you are able to wring out of clients
by the sweat of your brow, will now be all our income ;
you will be pestered for pin-money, and pestered with
your poor wife's relations. Ten to one, she will stickle
about taste, " Sir Visto's," and want to make thia
so pretty, and that so charming, if she only had the
means ; and is sure Paul (a kiss) can't deny his little
Peggy such a trifling sum, and all for the common
Then she, for one, means that her children sha'n't
go a-begging for clothes, and another pull at the
purse. Trust a poor mother to dress her children in
Perhaps she is ugly ; not noticeable at first, but
growing on her, and (what is worse) growing faster
on you. You wonder why you did n't see that vulgar
nose long ago ; and that lip it is very strange, you
think, that you ever thought it pretty. And then, to
come to breakfast, with her hair looking as it does,
and you not so much as daring to say, " Peggy, do
brush your hair ! " Her foot too not very bad when
decently chaussee but now since she 's married she
does wear such infernal slippers ! And yet for all this,
to be prigging up for an hour when any of my old
"hums come to dine with me !
SMOKE SIGNIFYING DOUBT. 27
* Bless your kind hearts my dear fellows," said I
thrusting the tongs into the coals, and speaking out
loud, as if my voice could reach from Virginia to Paris :
(( not married yet ! "
Perhaps Peggy is pretty enough, only shrewish.
No matter for cold coffee ; you should have been
What sad, thin, poorly cooked chops, to eat with your
She thinks they are very good, and wonders how
you can set such an example to your children.
The butter is nauseating.
She has no other, and hopes you '11 not raise
a storm about butter a little turned. I think I see
myself, ruminated I, sitting meekly at table, scarce dar-
ing to lift up my eyes, utterly fagged out with some
quarrel of yesterday, choking down detestably sour
muffins, that my wife thinks are " delicious," slipping in
dried mouthfuls of burnt ham off the side of my fork
tines, slipping off my chair sideways at the end, and
slipping out, with my hat between my knees, to business,
and never feeling myself a competent, sound-minded
man, till the oak door is between me and Peggy.
" Ha, ha ! not yet," said I ; and in so earnest a
tone that my dog started to his feet, cocked his eye to
have a good look into mv face, met my smile of tri-
umph with an amiable wag of the tail, and curled up
again in the corne~
S8 REVERIES OF A BACHELOR.
Again, Peggy is rich enough, well enough, mild
enough, only she does n't care a fig for you. She has
married you because father or grandfather thought the
match eligible, and because she did n't wish to disoblige
them. Besides, she did n't positively hate you, and
thought you were a respectable enough young person ;
she has told you so repeatedly at dinner. She wonders
you like to read poetry ; she wishes you would buy her
a good cook-book, and insists upon your making your
will at the birth of the first baby.
She thinks Captain So-and-So a splendid-looking
fellow, and wishes you would trim up a little, were i*
only for appearance' sake.
You need not hurry up from the office so early at
night : she, bless her dear heart ! does not feel lonely
You read to her a love-tale : she interrupts the pathetic
parts with directions to her seamstress. You read of
marriages : she sighs, and asks if Captain So-and-So
has left town ! She hates to be mewed up in a cottage,
or between brick walls ; she does so love the Springs !
But, again, Peggy loves you ; at least she swears it,
with her hand on the " Sorrows of Werther." She has
pin-money which she spends for the " Literary World "
ind the " Friends in Council." She is not bad-looking
save a bit too much of forehead ; nor is she sluttish,
unless a neglige till three o'clock, and an ink-stain on
the forefinger be sluttish ; but then she is such a sad
SMOKE SIGNIFYING DOUBT. 29
You never fancied, when you saw her buried in a
three-volume novel, that it was anything more than a
.girlish vagary ; and when she quoted Latin, you thought
innocently that she had a capital memory for her sam-
But to be bored eternally about divine Dante and
funny Goldoni, is too bad. Your copy of Tasso, a
treasure print of 1 680, is all bethumbed and dogs-eared,
and spotted with baby-gruel. Even your Seneca an
Elzevir is all sweaty with handling. She adores La
Fontaine, reads Balzac with a kind of artist-scowl, and
will not let Greek alone.
You hint at broken rest and an aching head at break-
fast, and she will fling you a scrap of Anthology, in lieu
of the camphor-bottle, or chant the cuat, alal, of tragic
The nurse is getting dinner; you are holding
the baby ; Peggy is reading Bruyere.
The fire smoked thick as pitch, and puffed out little
clouds over the chimney-piece. I gave the fore-stick a
kick, at the thought of Peggy, baby, and Bruyere.
Suddenly the flame flickered bluely athwart the
smoke, caught at a twig below, rolled round the mossy
oak stick, twined among the crackling tree - limbs,
mounted, lit up the whole body of smoke, and blazed
ant cheerily and bright. Doubt vanished with Smoke,
and Hope began with Flame.