Nebraska State Historical Society.

The New England magazine (Volume n.s. v.21, yr.1899-1900) online

. (page 18 of 89)
Online LibraryNebraska State Historical SocietyThe New England magazine (Volume n.s. v.21, yr.1899-1900) → online text (page 18 of 89)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

B A G E B E E F set to a signature
of four sharps in the bass, and
BEEFCABBAGEto eight flats
in the treble, common time, — the
combination representing the result

"'Midst the frying-pan, in accents savage,
The beef, so sntiy, quarrels with the

That the household management of
the earlier generation was dispensed
on a humane plan, despite large fam-
ilies, mammoth ovens and crowded
clothes lines, is evinced by the fact
that the one houseworker who for so
many years stood by Miss Lucia in
her cares, as servant, friend and coun-
sellor, — a shrewd Yankee body of no
more than normal physique, — lived
to a greater age than the dainty mis-
tress herself, and looked back with
pride upon past achievements.



But our lady's mental force was
not concentrated merely upon cook-
cry. We pass on to the volumes of
travel and history which carried her
beyond the confines of the farm acres
during lamplit evenings or snow-
bound days of retreat. Here is Hel-
on's "Pilgrimage to Jerusalem," a
birthday gift from her aunt, the wife
of a Harvard professor, — an early
Boston edition with rough blue paste-
board covers ; and from a New York
house, of a later date of publication,
D'Aubigne's "History of the Refor-
mation," in neat yellow-brown boards
with black backs. More popular for
general family perusal seems to have
been a wornout and mended copy of
Goldsmith's "Manners, Customs and
Curiosities of Nations," printed in
Philadelphia in 1810, with calf bind-
ing and good illustrations, maps and
plates ; also Chateaubriand's "Trav-
els," embellished v/ith etchings.
Goldsmith's "England." New York,
1 81 3, bears the note in Miss Lucia's
hand, more completely formed and
characteristic than the copies in the
old exercise-book, "Commenced read-
ing, Jan. nth, '42." A thoroughly
charming record of travel in England,
Holland and Scotland, from the es-
tablishment of Ezra Sargeant. 86
Broadway, corner of Wall Street,
1 8 10, shows in its much turned pages
the appreciation of many readers.
The traveller is apparently an Ameri-
can, but his name is not given on the
title-page of the second volume,
which is all that remains. One of the
oldest books in the library is a Lon-
don edition, calf, with gilt trimmings,
1779, of a "History of Modern
Europe, with an account of the de-
cline and fall of the Roman Empire
and a view of the Progress of Society
from the Fifth to the Eighteenth Cen-
tury, in a series of letters from a No-
bleman to his Son." Beneath this
title we find the quotation from Ches-
terfield, "Modern History is particu-
larly your business." This is also one
of the best specimens of eighteenth-
century publishers' work, — good pa-

per, wide margins and clear type, with
excellent paragraphing. The letters
are interesting ; and wc find pencilled
comments showing intelligent perusal
and interchange of opinion with oth-
ers, which would seem to indicate that
the bookshelves furnished entertain-
ment for their owner's friends as well
as for herself. It is hardly to be sup-
posed that a set of Blackstone's Com-
mentaries can have belonged to the
catalogue of Miss Lucia's books, but
as a probable relic of her father's law
library it may be noticed in passing,- — ■
the first Worcester edition, published
by Isaiah Thomas, both in Worcester
and Boston, with the date MDCCXC
and a frontispiece engraving repre-
senting "the Honorable Mr. Justice
Blackstone of Llis Brittanick Majes-
ty's Court of Common Pleas."

In a metaphysical and theological
direction, the daughter of a stern •#
Puritan was not fed upon "milk for
babes." Paley's Philosophy has evi-
dently been a text-book, to judge
from its marks ; whether a pressed
spray of arbutus found at the chapter
on "Utility" indicated its application
to the moral needs of some reader we
cannot tell. Rochefoucault's "Max-
ims," in an extremely pretty little
volume from Ludlow, England, 1799,
had been presented by the recluse
brother to his sister, and was evi-
dently prized and perused. Butler's
sermons. Combe "On the Constitu-
tion of Man," Fellowes's "Picture of
Christian Philosophy" (London, 1800,
margined). Hunter's "Sacred Biogra-
phy,'' Boston, 1795, and a host of
dreary discourses from the lips of
more or less well known divines were
probably the Sunday reading of years.
But the one book in this department
whose leaves are literally dropping
apart is a copy of the "Pilgrim's
Progress," printed by Manning and
Loring, Cornhill, Boston, no earlier
than 1805, yet clearly the delight of a
whole family of children, if its brown,
thin, crumpled pages may be taken
as an indication. The pictures arc
graphic, if not artistic ; and one of


"Cliristiaiia passing by the gibbet of
Simple, Sloth and Presumption" was
perhaps made a warning to youth, as
it appears to have had a sort of fas-
cination, evinced by many finger-
marks upon its edge. Possibly also
some timorous young Puritan may
have been braced by the contents of
another well read page, whereon
he could find Valiant's courageous
stanza :

"Who so beset him round
With dismal stories,
Do but themselves confound,
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fri.s^ht,
He'll with a giant fight,
But he will have a right
To be a Pilgrim."

Biography had its place in a lady's
literature, as will be seen from the
volumes of Cowper's Private Corre-
spondence, Washington's Official Let-
ters, the Memoirs of Jane Taylor, and
Coleridge's Table Talk, the latter in a
fancy dress of old-rose-pink cloth,
from Harper and Brothers, 1835, with
clear print on paper which has pre-
served an unusual whiteness com-
pared to the rest. In a Philadelphia
edition of the Essays of Elia, with yel-
low boards, red backed, is a written
dedication of the copy, in strong,
characteristic handwriting: "To one
who in my wandering to a Western
world I think of sadly and only."
This givesa hint of a romance, doubt-
less one of several in its fair and win-
ning owner's life. Another sugges-
tion of unrequited passion, not how-
ever in her chirography, but written
by a trembling hand on a circular slip
evidently once worn in a watch, drops
from between the leaves of a neigh-
bor volume:

"It is not so — it is not so, —

The world may think me gay.
And on my cheek the ready smile

]\Iay careless seem to play:
The ray that tips with gold the sun

Gilds not the depth below:
All bright alike the eye may dance.

But yet — it is not so!"

We come next to a row of most al-

luring little books, mostly En.glish
editions of the last century, bound in
calf or morocco, ornamented with gilt
scroll work and edges. Here are the
poets Burns, Montgomery, Akenside,
Pope, Dryden and many others ;
Scott's "Marmion" and "Lord of the
Isles," Gessner's "Idyls," Southey's
"Curse of Kehama," published by
David Longworth at the Dramatic
Repository, Shakespeare Gallery. New
York, 181 1, with the inscription in
Greek on the title-page, "Curses are
like young chickens, they always
come home to roost." Voltaire's
"La Henriade," in French, bears an
interest for us in the fact that its price-^
mark, still visible, of seventy-five
cents, points to a wonderful cheap-
ness of imported books at the time,
181 5 ; the cost in France, also marked,
with the designation "papier velin."
was but three francs. In a gracefully
embellished copy of B3a"on's poems,
with a very handsome dark green
cover-lining, a verse of "Childe Flar-
old" is marked:

"I do believe.

Though I have found them not, that there
may be

Words which are things, hopes which will
not deceive.

And virtues wliich are merciful, nor

Snares for the failing: I would also deem

O'er others' griefs that some sincerely

That two, or one, are almost what they
seem, — ■ •

Tliat goodness is no name, and happiness
no dream."

It is pleasant to think that by lines
like these an optimism and courage
were kept alive which made life bear-
able even in the seclusion of an old
farm, amid the performance of harsh
duties and a dreary association with
decayed or repressed mental powers.
But there was companionship of a
lighter sort for the young ladies of the
period, and as we turn the leaves of
the various novels in this library we
are able to believe that they inspired
keen feminine enjoyment. There are
plent}- of them, enougfi to have fur-
nished entertainment for much leisure



time. Occasionally we find a bit of
colored yarn or faded ribbon used to
mark an interruption, or a flower
pressed at some favorite passage ; and
the written inscriptions on their fly-
leaves show that many were gifts,
as for example one reading "Lucia
— from her afifectionate cousin —
'L' Amour passe, Vamitie restc' " This
was received when Lucia was at the
age of fifteen, at which time she was
already familiar with the poets and
many novelists of her day.

A charming miniature copy of
"Evelina" may well lead ofif, hailing
from London, and prized as a deli-
cious bit of literature by the young
nieces to whom Miss Lucia lent it in
later years. Miss Burney's other
\yorks, more spun out and less cap-
tivating, are also here ; five volumes of
"Cecilia." a London sixth edition,
1791, price-marked seven shillings
per volume, and two different editions
of "Camilla," one a first Boston edi-
tion, 1797, calf, embellished hand-
somely in red, green and gilt, the
other, much like it, but in "no way
superior as to binding and paper, from
Cork, 1796, the press of J. Connor,
Castle Street. The crop of three-vol-
ume novels modelled after this school
is well represented. Do we not know,
from our mothers and grandmothers,
if not from our own delighted read-
ing, of the thrilling interest of "The
Children of the Abbev," by Regina
Maria Roche, of Mrs. Opie's inimita-
ble "Temper," or the anonymously
written "Self-Control," in which, as in
so many of the rest, an innocent and
lovely heroine flees through all three
volumes from a designing and profli-
gate lover? "Destiny"' and "Mar-
riage" are here also, "Traits of Na-
ture," "Thinks I to Mvself." and
"Says She to Her Neighbor, — What?"
and "Coelebs in Search of a Wife."
And can any one be found to remem-
ber a queer tale by Miss Owenson,
dedicated to "The most noble Ann
Jane. Marchioness of Abercorn," with
a taking portrait of the author, in
decollete attire, as frontispiece, entitled

"The Missionary"? Then comes a
well worn copy of "Scottish Chiefs,"
the delight of girlhood and boyhood,
and "Thaddeus of Warsaw," — this a
first American edition, with Miss Por-
ter's quaint dedication, which we can-
not refrain from copying:

"Thaddeus of Warsaw is inscribed to Sir
Sidney Smith under the hope that as Sir
Philip Sidney did not disdain to write a
romance, Sir Sidney Smith will not refuse
to read one. Sir Philip Sidney con-
signed his excellent work to the affection
of A Sister. I confide my feeble attempt
to the Urbanity of the Brave. To the man
of taste, of feeling, and of candour; to him
whose clemency will bestow that indul-
gence on the Author, which his judgment
might have denied to the book; of whom
future ages will speak with honour and the
present times boast as their glory! To
Sir Sidney Smith I submit this tribute of
the highest respect which can be offered
by a Briton or animate the heart of his
most obedient and obliged servant."

Miss Edgeworth's "Moral Tales," as
well as "Harrington" and "Ormond,"
were evidently favorites of the youth-
ful Lucia ; and by her eighteenth
year she had accumulated nearly all
the Waverley Novels, chiefly American
reprints from Boston publishers, with
"Tales of My Landlord," in extremely
pretty covers of dull pink and backs
of darker red leather, gilt lettered, —
this a New Year's gift marked
"Gage d'amitie." The first issues of
Dickens's works also found their way
to the old house under the pines, later
( )n ; and in middle age Miss Lucia
took the London literary weekly,
edited by him, several files of which
were preserved on the lower shelves of
the bookcase. Then there are worn
copies of "Shirley," "Villette" and
"Jane Eyre," some of Miss Austen's
novels, and one of the humorous his-
torical satires of the day, "The Forest-
ers." We give a portion of the Clavis
Allegoric a: •

"John Bull, The Kingdom of England.
His Mother. The Church of England.
His Wife, The Parliament.
His Sister Peg, The Church of Scotland.
Lord Strut, The Kingdom of Spain.



Nicholas Frog, The Dutch Republic.
Madam Kate, The Empire of Russia.
The Foresters, The United States of

John Codline, Massachusetts.

Peter Bull-frog, New York, etc., etc."

There is enough fun in this to have
relaxed even the severe countenance
of Miss Lucia's father, which, from a
large oil pai'nting left in the "south
parlor," hanging above the great in-
laid sideboard, seems to follow be-
holders with disapproving looks, as if
it saw no redeeming feature in modern
life. Our glance rests more gladly
upon the gentle lady herself, portrayed
as we last saw her, with the lace cap
on her soft white locks and the bit of
black velvet at one side, which
brought out the rosy softness of her
cheek. There are more living por-
traits of her to remember. We see
her still, wearing her plain black cloak
and large bonnet, stepping from the
deep-hooded chaise which carried her
about the village; standing on her
porch under the hanging red and

.orange bells of the trumpet-vine in
her lilac and white print gown and
net cap ; on the long parlor sofa knit-
ting at sunset, ready to talk books and
politics with the elders or tell stories
of old times to delighted children ;
lying one day, — a silent image now, —
among saddened neighbors and de-
pendents, her bright eyes closed for-
ever, but not a sign of mourning in
the brilliant sunshine which forced its
way to her through crack and crevice,
nor in the autumn pomp of golden-
rod and crimson maple that lined the
roadsides and piled drifts of richness
over her grave. We take a regretful
farewell of the little bookcase, know-
ing that, its work is done, and that to
no woman of a later generation could
it give the same comfort or delight.
One can only hope that in this busy
age Nature will be graciously "careful
of the type," keeping among us still
some rare and cultivated spirits whose
intellectual activity shall temper the
absorptions and ambitions of a prac-
tical sisterhood.


By Helen Campbell.

ORRANCE had not
gone there for material
— that is, in any ordi-
nary sense of the word.
The supply already on
hand was far beyond
any present power of use ; or it
might be more strictly correct to
say that his own powers of ordering
and combining had for the time being
lapsed, and each page of his note-
books seemed to stand for accumu-
lated obstacles, before which he beat
a temporary retreat. It also struck
him that New England needed
neither further analysis nor descrip-
tion. All the thoughts the average
Yankee seldom thinks and less sel-
dom speaks had been assumed as part

of his daily walk and conversation,
till the most guileless and vmsuspi-
cious inhabitant of any New England
village might well look distrustfully
on any arrival not a legitimate sum-
mer boarder. Lie wanted neither ma-
terial of this nature, nor — if it might
be avoided — any contact with the
summer boarder. Fairly good roads
for a httle wheeling after the day's
work was done; a hill or so to climb
when the wheel palled, as it some-
times does ; and a quiet room with
quiet people — these were the essen-
tials of the summer's work, and he
sought a spot where neither tragedy
nor comedy was likely to obtrude
itself. Undoubtedly they would be
there, since to be alive at all coinpels



one or the other. But "expectant
attention" often determines an un-
necessary crisis, and the wandering,-
story-teller is thus responsible for the
very facts over which he gloats and
which, without his presence, would
have been merely a quiet simmer be-
low the surface, not the wild irrup-
tion of the unsuspected volcano.

To state the case briefly, Torrance
had paused in the half-finished novel
to prepare by request a sjiort biog-
raphy of a man dead for nearly a gen-
eration and, curiously enough, but
now coming to general knowledge as
the original discoverer of certain
phases in scientific work. It was,
save for his discovery, a singularly
colorless life, and finding that the
man had spent some years of his
youth in this small hill town, it
seemed to Torrance well that a back-
ground should be sought here, doing
it, if possible, with no direct question
or investigation, since either is likely
to produce a crop of purely imagi-
nary recollections on the part of who-
ever fills the role of town chronicler.
His own theory as to the summer's
need had been quite clear, before the
demand came. The village might
meet it, or compel immediate flight.
He was ready for either condition.

The valley narrowed as the train
made its way through. A group or
two of palpably summer boarders
had left it at the last station, and Tor-
rance looked with some anxiety at
another just before, then glanced be-
hind him, as his station was called
and he went forward to watch the de-
scent of his wheel from the baggage
car. Save for this, and a small and ap-
parently empty mail bag, received in
silence by an old man who made his
slow way from the little station to the
car, there was no other token of life,
'ind Torrance had a momentary thrill
of exultation as he noted this and
then the transfer of the bag to a light
wagon which had waited at a discreet
distance from the train and now
drove up to the platform.

Torrance paused for a moment and

stern!}- repressed a smile. "I decline
to be surprised. I don't want to
knov/ what it means," he said in-
wardly ; but his eyes were on the pair,
and in spite of himself, as it were, he
saw that they were twins, not only
in form and face, l)ut garments as

"Ride?" the driver said l)ricfly.

"How far?'' Torrance returned,
with a look towards his wheel.

".Six mile, and a fair enough road,"
the station master said, his voice the
duplicate of the first speaker's. "If
you know where you're going — there
ain't any tavern."

"I don't. Perhaps you will tell me
what house will take me in for a little

The two old men eyed him consid-
erately. "We're kind of ofif tlie
track," one of them said at last ; and
Torrance, who had been looking over
his wheel, turned in doubt as to
which had spoken.

"We ain't used to folks that just
come an' go. Them that come has
folks. You're sure you ain't ac-

"Who's the minister?" Torrance
asked after a pause.

"First house after you've passed
the big elm just beyond the store.
He'll take you in most likely. There
ain't any one else. Wife might for a
night, but it would kind of put her
out. You just g-o circulatin' along,
an' you'll be there before you know
it — the way them wheels go. I've
seen 'em. It's my opinion it's the
fulfillin' of the prophecy an' the wheel
Ezekiel had a vision of, for all livin'
creeters outside o' Linborough seems
to be gettin' 'em."

"Sho, Hezekiah," said the other
twin, "that kind of talk ain't what it
ought to be. Ezekiel an' this gener-
ation is gettin' further an' further
apart. What I think is — " I'ut Tor-
rance had mounted his wheel with a
nod toward the two heads wagging
solemnly over the proposition laid
down, and laughed aloud as he rode.

"All the same, thev are not to be



noted," he said resolutely. "My
business is to look at this landscape
and judg-e its probable effect upon
Abner P"orsyth in his two years of
teaching- district school ; no railroad,
mail once a week, and these aged
twins probably his scholars. Now
for the minister."

The ground rose gradually but
steadily, a little river at one side mak-
ing its unquiet way toward the larger
stream in the distance, gleams of
which came now and then through
openings in the thick wood skirting
tlTC hills which rose sharply, part of
the spur sent out by the mountain
chain to the east. They fell away
presently, and the valley widened
again, and the river with it, meadows
lying fair before him, a farmhouse
or so with its curl of light smoke
seeming only another phase of the
utter loneliness and isolation of the
little hamlet beyond.

"It has age, at least," Torrance
said as the road broadened into the
village street, great elms on either
side, and two or three square old-
fashioned houses, holding still the
look of what had once been not only
comfort, but a certain stateliness.
The store and the blacksmith's shop,
side by side, were the only traces of
occupation ; and as Torrance dis-
mounted as directed, just beyond the
big elm, there came upon him a sud-
den sense of intrusion, and he lifted
tl:c knocker with something like
shamefacedness. It occurred to him
now that he did not know the min-
ister's name, but anxiety on this
point was over in a moment. The
door opened suddenly, a withered
but energetic little woman faced him
and. pointing to the nearest door,
said, "Mr. Foster's in there," and

An hour or two later Torrance
looked about the square chamljer,
the offer of which had been as
prompt as his welcome, and felt as if
lie had known it and its faint odor of
dried rose leaves for a thousand
years. The twins had brought up his

trunk; the minister had certified that,
after the funeral which would take
him to the next tow-nship that after-
noon, he had full store of facts as to
x\bner Forsyth's two years in Lin-
borough. They had taken a mid-day
meal together under the superintend-
ence of the little woman, who had
few words, but looked favorably upon
the unlooked-for guest; and now he
gave himself to the arrangement of
his writing-table, an unexpected lux-
ury, which he fancied must have been
taken up from the study.

"I will give a week here, and then
pass on," Torrance had said, but he
presently realized that all he had
most wished for was in this spot: sc -
elusion, absolute, from any life he had
ever known, unquestioned liberty of
action? a companionship given when
he wanted it, but never obtruding

lender such auspices, the "Life of
.Vbner Forsyth" day by day unfolded
itself, complicated by the fact that
also day by day Torrance came face
tij face with "material" which he had
vowed to himself to leave untouched.
The novel had another country, other
men, other manners of its own ; and
beyond that, plain to see. shaped itself
another. Yet here in spite of himself,
as if a double life were to be wTitten.
lie saw a story that danced between
the lines of the grave biography and
invaded the pages of the romance,
Ijiding its time in the table drawer
and threatened with extinction by
this new claimant, pushed always to
the background, yet always at every
turn showing a face so real that Tor-
rance labored in vain to cleave wholly
to the work he must do. Up hill and
down dale, by winding river and in
deep pine wood, by day and by night,
the tale unfolded, a gigantic interro-
gation point at beginning and end ;
and Torrance's forehead wore an
anxious pucker, which nothing in the
"Life of Abner Forsyth" had power
to wipe out.

It had begun so simply. The vil-
lage church held few people, even



though the neighboring township
sent most of its population. Tor-
rance had gone on that first Sunday,
the day after his arrival, in deference
to his host, announcing that the after-
noon belonged to his wheel, and
looking about the bare, unbeautiful
building with a wonder as to what
the congregation would do if they
were suddenly set down in Notre
Dame de Paris, or the cathedral of
Milan. The minister's pew was well
down the aisle ; and he saw the twins
in their Sunday suits, a shadowy
little woman in their train, move
carefully up to their places. The old
judge and his maiden daughters —
the governor's father and the retired
sea captain, each representing one of
the big houses — had been defined to
him beforehand, and he pleased him-
self with identifying each, and then
again fell to meditating on Abner

Online LibraryNebraska State Historical SocietyThe New England magazine (Volume n.s. v.21, yr.1899-1900) → online text (page 18 of 89)