Henry Cabot Lodge.

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of the back districks in the Veneshun legislater. Old Brabantio was as
mad as thunder at this & tore round considerable, but finally cooled
down, telling Otheller, howsoever, that Desdemony had come it over her
par, & that he had better look out or she'd come it over him

Mr. and Mrs. Otheller git along very comfortable-like for a spell. She
is sweet-tempered and lovin - a nice, sensible female, never goin in
for he-female conventions, green cotton umbrellers, and pickled beats.
Otheller is a good provider and thinks all the world of his wife. She
has a lazy time of it, the hird girl doin all the cookin and washin.
Desdemony in fact don't have to git the water to wash her own hands
with. But a low cuss named Iago, who I bleeve wants to git Otheller
out of his snug government birth, now goes to work & upsets the
Otheller family in most outrajus stile. Iago falls in with a brainless
youth named Roderigo & wins all his money at poker. (Iago allers
played foul.) He thus got money enuff to carry out his onprincipled
skeem. Mike Cassio, a Irishman, is selected as a tool by Iago. Mike
was a clever feller & a orficer in Otheller's army. He liked his tods
too well, howsoever, & they floored him as they have many other
promisin young men. Iago injuces Mike to drink with him, Iago slily
throwin his whiskey over his shoulder. Mike gits as drunk as a biled
owl & allows that he can lick a yard full of the Veneshun fancy before
breakfast, without sweating a hair. He meets Roderigo & proceeds for
to smash him. A feller named Mentano undertakes to slap Cassio, when
that infatooated person runs his sword into him.

That miserble man, Iago, pretends to be very sorry to see Mike conduck
hisself in this way & undertakes to smooth the thing over to Otheller,
who rushes in with a drawn sword & wants to know what's up. Iago
cunningly tells his story & Otheller tells Mike that he thinks a good
deal of him but that he cant train no more in his regiment. Desdemony
sympathizes with poor Mike & interceds for him with Otheller. Iago
makes him bleeve she does this because she thinks more of Mike than
she does of hisself. Otheller swallers Iagos lying tail & goes to
makin a noosence of hisself ginrally. He worries poor Desdemony
terrible by his vile insinuations & finally smothers her to death with
a piller. Mrs. Iago comes in just as Otheller has finished the fowl
deed & givs him fits right & left, showin him that he has been orfully
gulled by her miserble cuss of a husband. Iago cums in & his wife
commences rakin him down also, when he stabs her. Otheller jaws him a
spell & then cuts a small hole in his stummick with his sword. Iago
pints to Desdemony's deth bed & goes orf with a sardonic smile onto
his countenance. Otheller tells the peeple that he has dun the state
some service & they know it; axes them to do as fair a thing as they
can for him under the circumstances, & kills hisself with a
fish-knife, which is the most sensible thing he can do. This is a
breef skedule of the synopsis of the play.

Edwin Forrest is a grate acter. I thot I saw Otheller before me all
the time he was actin &, when the curtin fell, I found my spectacles
was still mistened with salt-water, which had run from my eyes while
poor Desdemony was dyin. Betsy Jane - Betsy Jane! let us pray that our
domestic bliss may never be busted up by a Iago!

Edwin Forrest makes money acting out on the stage. He gits five
hundred dollars a nite & his board & washin. I wish I had such a
Forrest in my Garding!


Born in 1836; died in 1908; a literary man in New York in
early life; removing to Boston, became editor of _Every
Saturday_ in 1870-74; editor of the _Atlantic Monthly_ in
1881-1890; among his works "The Ballad of Babie Bell"
published in 1856, "Cloth of Gold" in 1874, "Flower and
Thorn" in 1876, "Story of a Bad Boy" in 1870, "Marjorie Daw"
in 1873, "Prudence Palfrey" in 1874, "The Queen of Sheba" in
1877, "The Stillwater Tragedy" in 1880, "From Ponkapog to
Pesth" in 1883, "The Sister's Tragedy" in 1891.



It is close upon daybreak. The great wall of pines and hemlocks that
keep off the east wind from Stillwater stretches black and
indeterminate against the sky. At intervals a dull, metallic sound,
like the guttural twang of a violin string, rises from the
frog-invested swamp skirting the highway. Suddenly the birds stir in
their nests over there in the woodland, and break into that wild
jargoning chorus with which they herald the advent of a new day. In
the apple orchards and among the plum-trees of the few gardens in
Stillwater the wrens and the robins and the blue-jays catch up the
crystal crescendo, and what a melodious racket they make of it with
their fifes and flutes and flageolets!

[Footnote 57: From Chapter I of "The Stillwater Tragedy." Copyright,
1880, by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Published by Houghton, Mifflin

The village lies in a trance like death. Possibly not a soul hears
this music, unless it is the watchers at the bedside of Mr. Leonard
Tappleton, the richest man in town, who has lain dying these three
days, and can not last till sunrise. Or perhaps some mother, drowsily
hushing her wakeful baby, pauses a moment and listens vacantly to the
birds singing. But who else?

The hubbub suddenly ceases - ceases as suddenly as it began - and all is
still again in the woodland. But it is not so dark as before. A faint
glow of white light is discernible behind the ragged line of the tree
tops. The deluge of darkness is receding from the face of the earth,
as the mighty waters receded of old.

The roofs and tall factory chimneys of Stillwater are slowly taking
shape in the gloom. Is that a cemetery coming into view yonder, with
its ghostly architecture of obelisks and broken columns and huddled
headstones? No, that is only Slocum's marble yard, with the finished
and unfinished work heaped up like snowdrifts - a cemetery in embryo.
Here and there in an outlying farm a lantern glimmers in the
barn-yard: the cattle are having their fodder betimes. Scarlet-capped
chanticleer gets himself on the nearest rail fence and lifts up his
rancorous voice like some irate old cardinal launching the curse of
Rome. Something crawls swiftly along the gray of the serpentine
turnpike - a cart, with the driver lashing a jaded horse. A quick wind
goes shivering by, and is lost in the forest.

Now a narrow strip of two-colored gold stretches along the horizon.

Stillwater is gradually coming to its senses. The sun has begun to
twinkle on the gilt cross of the Catholic chapel and make itself known
to the doves in the stone belfry on the South Church. The patches of
cobweb that here and there cling tremulously to the coarse grass of
the inundated meadows have turned into silver nets, and the
mill-pond - it will be steel-blue later - is as smooth and white as if
it had been paved with one vast unbroken slab out of Slocum's marble
yard. Through a row of buttonwoods on the northern skirt of the
village is seen a square, lap-streaked building, painted a
disagreeable brown, and surrounded on three sides by a platform - one
of seven or eight similar stations strung like Indian beads on a
branch thread of the Great Sagamore Railway.

Listen! That is the jingle of the bells on the baker's cart as it
begins its rounds. From innumerable chimneys the curled smoke gives
evidence that the thrifty housewife - or, what is rarer in Stillwater,
the hired girl - has lighted the kitchen fire.

The chimney-stack of one house at the end of a small court - the last
house on the easterly edge of the village, and standing quite
alone - sends up no smoke. Yet the carefully trained ivy over the
porch, and the lemon verbena in a tub at the foot of the steps,
intimate that the place is not unoccupied. Moreover, the little
schooner which acts as weathercock on one of the gables, and is now
heading due west, has a new topsail. It is a story-and-a-half cottage,
with a large expanse of roof, which, covered with porous, unpainted
shingles, seems to repel the sunshine that now strikes full upon it.
The upper and lower blinds on the main building, as well as those on
the extensions, are tightly closed. The sun appears to beat in vain at
the casements of this silent house, which has a curiously sullen and
defiant air, as if it had desperately and successfully barricaded
itself against the approach of morning; yet if one were standing in
the room that leads from the bedchamber on the ground floor - the room
with the latticed window - one would see a ray of light thrust through
a chink of the shutters, and pointing like a human finger at an object
which lies by the hearth.

This finger, gleaming, motionless, and awful in its precision, points
to the body of old Mr. Lemuel Shackford, who lies there dead in his
night-dress, with a gash across his forehead.

In the darkness of that summer night a deed darker than the night
itself had been done in Stillwater.



The memory of man, even that of the oldest inhabitant runneth not back
to the time when there did not exist a feud between the North End and
the South End boys of Rivermouth.

[Footnote 58: From Chapter XIII of "The Story of a Bad Boy."
Copyright, 1869, 1877, by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Published by
Houghton, Mifflin Company.]

The origin of the feud is involved in mystery; it is impossible to say
which party was the first aggressor in the far-off anterevolutionary ages;
but the fact remains that the youngsters of those antipodal sections
entertained a mortal hatred for each other, and that this hatred had been
handed down from generation to generation, like Miles Standish's

I know not what laws, natural or unnatural, regulated the warmth of
the quarrel; but at some seasons it raged more violently than at
others. This winter both parties were unusually lively and
antagonistic. Great was the wrath of the South-Enders when they
discovered that the North-Enders had thrown up a fort on the crown of
Slatter's Hill.

Slatter's Hill, or No-man's-land, as it was generally called, was a
rise of ground covering, perhaps, an acre and a quarter, situated on
an imaginary line marking the boundary between the two districts. An
immense stratum of granite, which here and there thrust out a wrinkled
boulder, prevented the site from being used for building purposes. The
street ran on either side of the hill, from one part of which a
quantity of rock had been removed to form the underpinning of the new
jail. This excavation made the approach from that point all but
impossible, especially when the ragged ledges were a-glitter with ice.
You see what a spot it was for a snow-fort.

One evening twenty or thirty of the North-Enders quietly took
possession of Slatter's Hill, and threw up a strong line of
breastworks. The rear of the entrenchment, being protected by the
quarry, was left open. The walls were four feet high, and twenty-two
inches thick, strengthened at the angles by stakes driven firmly into
the ground.

Fancy the rage of the South-Enders the next day, when they spied our
snowy citadel, with Jack Harris's red silk pocket-handkerchief
floating defiantly from the flagstaff.

In less than an hour it was known all over town, in military circles
at least, that the "puddle-dockers" and the "river-rats" (these were
the derisive sub-titles bestowed on our South End foes) intended to
attack the fort that Saturday afternoon.

At two o'clock all the fighting boys of the Temple Grammar School, and
as many recruits as we could muster, lay behind the walls of Fort
Slatter, with three hundred compact snowballs piled up in pyramids,
awaiting the approach of the enemy. The enemy was not slow in making
his approach - fifty strong, headed by one Mat Ames. Our forces were
under the command of General J. Harris.

Before the action commenced a meeting was arranged between the rival
commanders, who drew up and signed certain rules and regulations
respecting the conduct of the battle. As it was impossible for the
North-Enders to occupy the fort permanently, it was stipulated that
the South-Enders should assault it only on Wednesday and Saturday
afternoons between the hours of two and six. For them to take
possession of the place at any other time was not to constitute a
capture, but, on the contrary, was to be considered a dishonorable and
cowardly act.

The North-Enders, on the other hand, agreed to give up the fort
whenever ten of the storming party succeeded in obtaining at one time
a footing on the parapet, and were able to hold the same for the space
of two minutes. Both sides were to abstain from putting pebbles into
their snowballs, nor was it permissible to use frozen ammunition. A
snowball soaked in water and left out to cool was a projectile which
in previous years had been resorted to with disastrous results.

These preliminaries settled, the commanders retired to their
respective corps. The interview had taken place on the hillside
between the opposing lines.

General Harris divided his men into two bodies; the first comprized
the most skilful marksmen, or gunners; the second, the reserve force,
was composed of the strongest boys, whose duty it was to repel the
scaling parties, and to make occasional sallies for the purpose of
capturing prisoners, who were bound by the articles of treaty to
faithfully serve under our flag until they were exchanged at the close
of the day.

The repellers were called light infantry; but when they carried on the
operations beyond the fort they became cavalry. It was also their
duty, when not otherwise engaged, to manufacture snowballs. The
General's staff consisted of five Templars (I among the number, with
the rank of major), who carried the General's orders and looked after
the wounded.

General Mat Ames, a veteran commander, was no less wide-awake in the
disposition of his army. Five companies, each numbering but six men,
in order not to present too big a target to our sharpshooters, were
to charge the fort from different points, their advance being covered
by a heavy fire from the gunners posted in the rear. Each scaler was
provided with only two rounds of ammunition, which were not to be used
until he had mounted the breastwork and could deliver his shots on our

The thrilling moment had now arrived. If I had been going into a real
engagement I could not have been more deeply imprest by the importance
of the occasion.

The fort opened fire first - a single ball from the dextrous hand of
General Harris taking General Ames in the very pit of his stomach. A
cheer went up from Fort Slatter. In an instant the air was thick with
flying missiles, in the midst of which we dimly descried the storming
parties sweeping up the hill, shoulder to shoulder. The shouts of the
leaders, and the snowballs bursting like shells about our ears made it
very lively.

Not more than a dozen of the enemy succeeded in reaching the crest of
the hill; five of these clambered upon the icy walls, where they were
instantly grabbed by the legs and jerked into the fort. The rest
retired confused and blinded by our well-directed fire.

When General Harris (with his right eye bunged up) said, "Soldiers, I
am proud of you!" my heart swelled in my bosom.

The victory, however, had not been without its price. Six
North-Enders, having rushed out to harass the discomfited enemy, were
gallantly cut off by General Ames and captured. Among these were
Lieutenant P. Whitcomb (who had no business to join in the charge,
being weak in the knees) and Captain Fred Langdon, of General Harris's
staff. Whitcomb was one of the most notable shots on our side, tho he
was not much to boast of in a rough-and-tumble fight, owing to the
weakness before mentioned. General Ames put him among the gunners, and
we were quickly made aware of the loss we had sustained by receiving a
frequent artful ball which seemed to light with unerring instinct on
any nose that was the least bit exposed. I have known one of Pepper's
snowballs, fired point-blank, to turn a corner and hit a boy who
considered himself absolutely safe.

But we had no time for vain regrets. The battle raged. Already there
were two bad cases of black eye, and one of nose-bleed, in the

It was glorious excitement, those pell-mell onslaughts and
hand-to-hand struggles. Twice we were within an ace of being driven
from our stronghold, when General Harris and his staff leapt
recklessly upon the ramparts and hurled the besiegers heels over head
down hill.

At sunset the garrison of Fort Slatter was still unconquered, and the
South-Enders, in a solid phalanx, marched off whistling "Yankee
Doodle," while we cheered and jeered them until they were out of



This page will be wafted possibly through a snow-storm to the reader's
hand; but it is written while a few red leaves are still clinging to
the maple bough, and the last steamer of the year from across the
ocean has not yet discharged on our shores the final cargo of
returning summer tourists. How glad they will be, like those who came
over in previous ships, to sight that fantomish, white strip of Yankee
land called Sandy Hook! It is thinking of them that I write.

[Footnote 59: From Chapter IX of "From Ponkapog to Pesth." Copyright,
1883, by Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Published by Houghton, Mifflin

Some one - that anonymous person who is always saying the wisest and
most delightful things just as you are on the point of saying them
yourself - has remarked that one of the greatest pleasures of foreign
travel is to get home again. But no one - that irresponsible person
forever to blame in railway accidents, but whom, on the whole, I
vastly prefer to his garrulous relative quoted above - no one, I
repeat, has pointed out the composite nature of this pleasure, or
named the ingredient in it which gives the chief charm to this getting
back. It is pleasant to feel the pressure of friendly hands once more;
it is pleasant to pick up the threads of occupation which you dropt
abruptly, or perhaps neatly knotted together and carefully laid away,
just before you stept on board the steamer; it is very pleasant, when
the summer experience has been softened and sublimated by time, to sit
of a winter night by the cheery wood fire, or even at the register,
since one must make one's self comfortable in so humiliating a
fashion, and let your fancy wander back in the old footprints; to form
your thoughts into happy summer pilgrims, and dispatch them to Arles
or Nuremberg, or up the vine-clad heights of Monte Cassino, or embark
them at Vienna for a cruise down the swift Danube to Budapest. But in
none of these things lies the subtle charm I wish to indicate. It lies
in the refreshing, short-lived pleasure of being able to look at your
own land with the eyes of an alien; to see novelty blossoming on the
most commonplace and familiar stems; to have the old manner and the
threadbare old custom to present themselves to you as absolutely
new - or if not new, at least strange.

After you have escaped from the claws of the custom-house
officers - who are not nearly as affable birds as you once thought
them - and are rattling in an oddly familiar hack through well-known
but half-unrecognizable streets, you are struck by something comical
in the names on the shop signs - are American names comical, as
Englishmen seem to think? - by the strange fashion of the iron
lamp-post at the corner, by peculiarities in the architecture, which
you ought to have noticed, but never did notice until now. The candid
incivility of the coachman, who does not touch his hat to you, but
swears at you, has the vague charm of reminiscence. You regard him as
the guests regarded the poor relation at table in Lamb's essay; you
have an impression that you have seen him somewhere before. The truth
is, for the first time in your existence, you have a full,
unprejudiced look at the shell of the civilization from which you
emerged when you went abroad. Is it a pretty shell? Is it a
satisfactory shell? Not entirely. It has strange excrescences and
blotches on it. But it is a shell worth examining; it is the best you
can ever have; and it is expedient to study it very carefully the two
or three weeks immediately following your return to it, for your
privilege of doing so is of the briefest tenure. Some precious things
you do not lose, but your newly acquired vision fails you shortly.
Suddenly, while you are comparing, valuing, and criticizing, the old
scales fall over your eyes, you insensibly slip back into the
well-worn grooves, and behold all outward and most inward things in
nearly the same light as your untraveled neighbor, who has never known

"The glory that was Greece
And the grandeur that was Rome."

You will have to go abroad again to renew those magical spectacles
which enabled you for a few weeks to see your native land.


Born in Ohio in 1837; consul to Venice in 1861-65; editor of
_The Atlantic Monthly_ in 1871-81; associate editor of
_Harper's Magazine_ since 1886; among his many works,
"Venetian Life" published in 1866, "Italian Journeys" in
1869, "Poems" in 1867, "Their Wedding Journey" in 1872, "A
Chance Acquaintance" in 1873, "The Lady of the Aroostook" in
1875, "The Undiscovered Country" in 1880, "A Modern
Instance" in 1882, "Silas Lapham" in 1885, "Annie Kilburn"
in 1888.


There is little proportion about either pain or pleasure: a headache
darkens the universe while it lasts, a cup of tea really lightens the
spirit bereft of all reasonable consolation. Therefore I do not think
it trivial or untrue to say that there is for the moment nothing more
satisfactory in life than to have bought your ticket on the night boat
up the Hudson and secured your stateroom key an hour or two before
departure, and some time even before the pressure at the clerk's
office has begun. In the transaction with this castellated baron, you
have, of course, been treated with haughtiness, but not with ferocity,
and your self-respect swells with a sense of having escaped positive
insult; your key clicks cheerfully in your pocket against its
gutta-percha number, and you walk up and down the gorgeously
carpeted, single-columned, two-story cabin, amid a multitude of plush
sofas and chairs, a glitter of glass, and a tinkle of prismatic
chandeliers overhead, unawed even by the aristocratic gloom of the
yellow waiters. Your own stateroom, as you enter it from time to time,
is an ever new surprize of splendors, a magnificent effect of
amplitude, of mahogany bedstead, of lace curtains, and of marble topt
washstand. In the mere wantonness of an unalloyed prosperity you say
to the saffron nobleman nearest your door, "Bring me a pitcher of
ice-water, quick, please!" and you do not find the half-hour that he
is gone very long.

[Footnote 60: From Chapter III of "Their Wedding Journey." Copyright,
1871, 1888, Houghton, Mifflin Company.]

If the ordinary wayfarer experiences so much pleasure from these
things, then imagine the infinite comfort of our wedding journeyers,
transported from Broadway on that pitiless afternoon to the shelter
and the quiet of that absurdly palatial steamboat. It was not yet
crowded, and by the river-side there was almost a freshness in the
air. They disposed of their troubling bags and packages; they
complimented the ridiculous princeliness of their stateroom, and then
they betook themselves to the sheltered space aft of the saloon, where
they sat down for the tranquiller observance of the wharf and whatever
should come to be seen by them. Like all people who have just escaped
with their lives from some menacing calamity, they were very
philosophical in spirit; and having got aboard of their own motion,
and being neither of them apparently the worse for the ordeal they had
passed through, were of a light, conversational temper.

"What an amusingly superb affair!" Basil cried as they glanced through
an open window down the long vista of the saloon. "Good heavens!
Isabel, does it take all this to get us plain republicans to Albany in
comfort and safety, or are we really a nation of princes in disguise?
Well, I shall never be satisfied with less hereafter," he added. "I am
spoiled for ordinary paint and upholstery from this hour; I am a
ruinous spendthrift, and a humble three-story swell-front up at the

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Online LibraryHenry Cabot LodgeThe Best of the World's Classics, Restricted to Prose, Vol. X (of X) - America - II, Index → online text (page 13 of 17)