« AnkstesnisTęsti »
defy dry heat and gas, if the leaves are frequently washed; while the Begonias flourish in the poison with a Borgian delight.
Very pretty effects may be produced, too, at the cost of a few cents, by planting verbenas, morning. glories, cobea scandens, and the Maurandias in baskets or flower-pots, which can be concealed behind statuary or bronzes. They will grow luxuriantly, with blossoms which are miniatures of those which they yield in summer. The best fertilizer which can be applied to them or to any other house plants is that afforded by the tea-pot. The cold teagrounds which the Irish throw on the hearth as an offering to the lares, if poured as a libation to these household fairies, will produce a miracle of beauty and perfume.
ON the street the other day we saw a fretful mother roughly shaking and chiding, for "being so cross," a sensitive child, who shrank in nervous terror from the harsh blast of a toy trumpet, sounded in his ear by a jolly little urchin, who evidently had intended to give pleasure, not pain. The frightened child, with pale face, trembling lips, and pathetic little suppressed sob, struggled manfully to conquer his nerves and his wounded heart. "Cross" was clearly the very last word that should have been applied to the suffering little fellow, whose nerves were set a-tremble for at least one whole day-not so much by the shock of the discordant blast, which a few kind words might have soothed away, as by the subsequent rough handling and rougher tones of his mother, and by his own very great effort at self-command.
Of course, the cruelty of this mother was unconscious, but not, on that account, much the less culpable. It should be the business of those who have the care of children, not only to see that they have proper food and clothing, but also to study their characters, dispositions, and nerves. Notwithstanding the attention that scientific physicians are now paying to the nervous system, we cannot yet expect to know the reasons why a noise, an odor, a touch, that is innocuous to most, to a few may cause terror, or pain, or faintness, or death. Yet, by observation, we may find out what affects unpleasantly the nerves of the child intrusted to our care, and, by avoiding as far as possible exposing it to the cause of its nervous fears or irritation, and by gently soothing it when such exposure is unavoidable, gradually inure its nerves to bear with fortitude the painful excitement.
In this way we have known nervous antipathies to be overcome when a contrary course would have produced serious consequences; perhaps, even death.
A little girl whom we knew was thrown almost into convulsions at the sight of a dog or a cat. The parents would not allow either animal to be about their premises; and with equal good sense, would never permit the child's terrors to be spoken of in her presence. If, by chance, one of the obnoxious animals approached her, she was always taken up,
as if by accident, and her attention diverted. After a time, she gained courage enough to look at the causes of her terror, when their beauties and good qualities were pointed out to her, though she was never asked to touch them. Now the child has grown to be a young woman, conspicuous for her fondness for all animals, and especially for dogs and Had her parents abruptly attempted to make her conquer her antipathy, its impression would, in all probability, have been so deepened that she could never have risen above it. In a similar case, of which we have been told, the child died in convulsions, induced by being compelled to touch a horse, the object of its nervous terror. On the other hand, by weakly humoring such fears, talking about them in the presence of those subject to them, and thus allowing, or leading, their minds to dwell upon them, the unfortunates may be all their lives subject to the bondage of an unreasoning terror.
A striking instance of the danger of disregarding a nervous dread is related in the memoir of Charles
Mayne Young. A young gentleman had been appointed attaché to the British Legation at St. Petersburg. On his arrival at that capital, he was congratulated by the ambassador on being in time to witness the celebration of a grand fête, and invited to accept in the great church a seat among those reserved for the ambassadorial party. Though, in such cases, an invitation is equivalent to a command, the attaché begged to be excused. Being pressed for his reasons, he gave them with much reluctance.
"There will be martial music," he said, "and I have an insuperable objection to the sound of a drum. It gives me tortures that I cannot describe. My respiration becomes so obstructed that it seems to me that I must die."
The ambassador laughed, saying that he should esteem himself culpable if he allowed his attaché to yield to a weakness so silly, and commanded him to be present at the fête.
On the day appointed all were in their places, when suddenly was heard the clang of martial music and the beat of the great drum. The ambassador, with ironical smile, turned to see the effect upon the "young hypochondriac." The poor fellow was upon the floor, quite dead. On a post-mortem | examination, it appeared that the shock to his finelystrung nervous organization had caused a rupture of one of the valves of the heart.
If then, as we see, the adult, with every reason for subduing nervous antipathies, apparently so unreasonable and ridiculous, finds it impossible to do so, how can a little child be expected to control or explain them?
HAS it never occurred to any of our readers that in the general endeavor now being made by Americans for the better ordering of our homes and society, it was high time that some consideration should be given to the subject of visiting? We make a fine art of house-building, of house-decoration, of the dress and conversation which shall be found in our
houses; but as to the people who shall come into them, the how or when they shall come, or the relations between us and them, that is all left to chance or whim, to our good nature or their modesty or impudence. The common sense of society by this time should have evolved certain rules in this matter for the behoof of all civilized people. In fact, in large cities there are such rules, narrowing hospitality within formal lines, and insisting, first of all, that it must be distinctly offered before it is claimed. There is very little " "dropping in" or "surprises" practiced among the better classes of the sea-board cities; hence, we hear bitter complaints among strangers, used to provincial customs, of the coldness and lack of sociability of New Yorkers and Philadelphians. Yet it seems to us that the cities have caught the higher idea of hospitality. A man's house, if he means to carry out his own theories of family life or education, ought to be his castle, to which he admits only such outsiders as seems best to him. When that is the case, the guest receives honor for whom the draw-bridge is lowered. But, where the draw-bridge is down all the time, and the house is subject to an irruption at any hour of the day of the most alien and vulgar folk, simply because they happen to rent the house next door, the hospitality becomes that of the market-place.
Our friends Tom and Amelia have just been married this winter, and want, of course, to extract the most happiness and noblest meaning out of their life. We would advise them, if they live in town, to choose but few friends, and to receive them on certain set evenings; but, when they do receive them, let their hospitality and welcome be as liberal and warm as their hearts can offer. Reception evenings have been abused by fashionable folly, but the idea is practical and rational. Whether Amelia lives on a third-floor flat, and prepares her own table of refreshments, or in a palace on Murray Hill, it will be cheaper and pleasanter for her to know when her friends will come, and to be ready for them, than to have them filtered through the week, both in and out of season. If the young people settle down in a country village, let them by all means lock the back-door to everybody but the milk-man and the butcher. Why, in the name of common sense, should Amelia surrender half her time to gossips over pickles and preserves, or to friendships based upon the loan of copper kettles? We shall be told that this intercourse is kindly, and that our neighbors are, nine times out of ten, good people. If they are, the less reason for founding our intercourse with them on the privacies of household economies. Let us give our friendship, our charity, our love, as freely as we will, but keep our backstairs to ourselves.
The country idea of hospitality grew out of the primitive condition of society, when a man was his own butcher, tailor, physician, and green-grocer, and in time of need relied upon his neighbors for these necessary offices. We have grown out of that. There are few people of culture living in villages who would not gladly do away with the custom of sewing-bees, or accidentals, or the pushing, kindly VOL. XI.-29.
crowd at the time of births and funerals. thy every man should give to his neighbor, but companionship and aid only when he is sure they are welcome.
The generous and splendid hospitality of the Southern States before the war is often cited as the perfection of social life. Amelia, perhaps, is a Virginian. A dozen unexpected guests, more or less, at her father's table, made little difference when the plantation furnished unlimited provisions, and there was a horde of servants delighted to do their part. But now she has come to other skies and other manners in hall and kitchen. Her safest rule is to surprise nobody with a visit. Nine times out of ten the one spare chamber is occupied, her hostess has an engagement, or there is a strike below stairs on account of the run of company. The visit which, if expected, would have been a mutual delight, is a wretched failure. In time, too, Amelia, if she does not guard herself, will find hospitality, like everything else, casily degenerate into sham and snobbishness. She will be tempted to leave cards on fashionable people whom she despises; she will be tempted to entertain Mrs. B., who gives a ball next week, rather than the poor little governess to whom a tea-drinking is rapturous dissipation, or the shop boys from the country, or a dozen other morbid lonely souls,-the lame, the halt, and the blind.
In fact, when we think of this vast aggregate of fashionable calling in towns, of the back-door, inane, country gossips, of the congregation of Irishwomen dawdling on alley door-steps all over the land, we begin to think that purposeless visiting is the root of all evils, and true hospitality the rarest and finest of the virtues.
The Fashion of Fancy Prices. NEW YORK, November 17, 1875. Editor of SCRIBNER: Your remark in a recent number, that "the principle of economy is not so much self-sacrifice as discretion," has received a marked exemplification in a recent experience of mine, which may be of interest to some of your city readers.
Having occasion to purchase a brass rod from which to suspend a curtain in a door-way, I went to the rooms of a prominent house-furnishing establishment on Broadway, and stated my wants—a simple one-inch brass rod, three feet long, with plain finials and supports-and inquired the cost. The gentleman in charge fingered leisurely at some rare French tapestry, and after a glance at the William Morris paper on the wall, said he thought "such a fixtuah could be made as low as $30 or $40." I assured him again, with emphasis, that I only wished a plain brass rod; but he merely reiterated the high figures, in a monotonous way, as if such practice were the familiar habit of his mind. I could only falter out my astonishment and leave.
And so I went from store to store on Broadway--from one Dealer in Taste to another-nowhere finding a plain rod, of brass or wood, for less than $15, which, it may be of interest to know, was tv ce the cost of the curtain. Finally, at a homely potand-ke. le,-dust-pan-and-match-safe-furnishing store, I was told that I could perhaps find what I wanted at their factory in West Twenty-ninth street. Here, in the midst of all sorts of house-furnishing wares, from hotel annunciators to door-hinges, I found the foreman, and selected the brass rod and fixtures from samples, with a clear understanding of what I was getting. At six o'clock the same evening the package was delivered at my room-as chaste and serviceable a rod as one would want; and all at the total expense of $1.75!
Do your readers wonder how the fashionable caterers to
fashionable tastes grow rich? And does it ever occur to the wealthy that their indulgence is responsible for the necessitics of the poorer classes. He who fees a well-paid waiter for his wine, makes it necessary that others should fee him for their bread. Why, so accustomed have some of these dealers become to the:e exorbitant charges, that they seem to be oblivious to smail prices, as if small prices had been "retired,"
CULTURE AND PROGRESS.
The American Argonauts.*
IT is fortunate that there are writers who are competent to put on record some of the interior history of the early emigrants to California. To do justice to that unique movement which peopled an old Spanish colonial possession with an AngloSaxon race, requires a familiar acquaintance with the men engaged in it, as well as a rare faculty of observation. The absurd blunders of an Englishman who attempts to use our Americanisms or American slang, are not more melancholy than the failures of those who have essayed to give us glimpses of an early California life of which they have had no actual experience. It is true that much of the wild flavor of that life is peculiarly American; and it is also true that our language has been enriched, if we may use that word, with many idioms which are compact of meaning, because they have originated in the stress and strain of a wonderful pioneer experience. But, after all, we cannot help feeling that one must have had some part in the life of the goldseekers, if he would truly tell us of their character, repeat their language, and chronicle any part of their queer doings. The race of gold-hunting pioneers has passed away. Here and there a few battered old fellows remain, like stranded drift-wood on the shore. Some have been absorbed into the reputable and well-regulated society which has replaced the disorderly elements of earlier times. But, for the most part, the multitudes which swept over the Sierra, or up the shores of the Pacific, have utterly vanished from all human observation. The curious tourist vainly searches in the smug interior towns of California and Nevada for the types which Bret Harte has immortalized, like flies in amber, in the crystalline pages of his stories of the "Argonauts." The rough-talking, picturesque, generous, uncouth, and generally disreputable "Forty-Niner has as completely ceased to be as the old-time lazzarone of sunny Naples.
The gold-seekers, and in this class we include all the early immigrants to California, are properly divided into two groups-those who went by sea and those who journeyed by land. By those who ought to know it is said that the subtle distinction
as the Government might call in the smaller denominations of the bank-notes. Such firms are apt to get the patronage of the newly rich and the reckless; but thoughtful people, whose comfort and little luxuries represent days of labor, are always glad to hear of short cuts to first prices. Very respectfully yours, PAUL GRAVES, JR.
Tales of the Argonauts and Other Sketches. By Bret Harte. Including "The Rose of Tuolumne " "A Passage in the Life of Mr. John Oakhurst," "Wan Lee, the Pagan;" "How Old Man Plunkett went Home," "The Fool of Five Forks," "Baby Sylvester." "An Episode of Fiddletown," "A Jersey Centenarian." Boston: J. R. Osgood & Co.
between these two varieties of emigrants never wholly vanished. Certainly, the wild freedom of the sea is a very different thing from the wild freedom of the vast untrodden spaces which we used to call "the plains." Before either Argonauts or plainsmen reached the land of gold, they had developed traits of character which entered into the composite man now known as the early Californian. Similar, yet unlike, these rovers of the sea and land together met and formed a novel race of men. One had the careless swing of the ocean; the other, the rude abandon of frontier solitudes. One had endured without discipline the wearisome monotony of a long voyage; the other had been literally let loose in
the heart of the continent, where for months he was outside of the restraints of society and human law. Both had been turned in upon themselves, compelled to draw upon whatever of moral stamina they had by nature. They were compelled to bring to the surface the strongest faculties with which they had been endowed. The Argonaut was sanguine, hungry for gold, improvident. He who had traveled "the plains across" had already suffered the hard training of defeat, privation, and often disappointment.
The men in this most novel exodus were for a time emancipated from all artificial restraint. Some of the ships of the Argonauts were filled with wrecks-wrecks of moral character-long before their passengers debarked on the golden shores. The names of some of these vessels which early doubled Cape Horn and made their slow way up the Pacific are historic. Their living freight was a mass of lawlessness, violence, and self-abandonment. Men who had been well nurtured and schooled in all the proprieties of a conservative form of society, gradually bloomed into the most picturesque of vagabonds. Thrown by themselves into an idle life at sea, as isolated as the ship which bore them, they preyed upon each other. Herded together, without any special stimulus to mental invented pastimes, employments, a language, and exertion, these active and adventurous spirits modes of thought of their own. Depravity is always sure to come to the surface under such conditions. Among the earlier emigrants by sea were many companies which landed in California without serious loss of moral tone. But, for the most part, it was true of the men who embarked with good habits, an honest intention to keep themselves unspotted, and a legacy of parental blessing, that
they began life in California with wild recklessness, and an utter contempt for all their early training. But. while this was measurably true, it should be said that this strange experience, whether by sea or land, also developed some admirable traits of character. Men who had been weak and inefficient at home hardened into heroes while voyaging by sea or tramping across the continent. Here and there were limp young fellows who went down utterly in the struggle of which the voyage was made up. Here and there, too, was one who might have been worth something elsewhere, but who was too delicate to endure the brutal nagging and purposeless persecution of his comrades. A majority of the Argonauts left their ships with the coarser attributes of character all toughened and in high condition. With some desirable things, they had discarded sentiment, softness, and every appearance of weakness. They expressed themselves tersely; they wasted neither words nor time. They were eager | for the race for wealth. To secure the shining prize they stripped themselves of every ounce of superfluousness. No man voyaged around Cape Horn in those far-off days with the faintest intention of making a home in the land of gold. It was thought impossible for a high form of civilization to exist over a gold mine. Perhaps this is still true. But these men took with them only rations to sustain themselves in their search for gold, and tools to tear the precious stuff from the bosom of the earth. They proposed to snatch their share of the treasure, and return more swiftly than they had gone.
With those who went to California across the plains the case was somewhat different. They bore with them some remnants of domesticity. Their journey was almost pastoral. Their cattle, horses, or mules were their companions-brought from home. Their canvas-covered wagons perpetually reminded them of the land out of which they journeyed. Some of them had brought their wives and children and household goods. They often suffered from unexpected hardships. Starvation, sickness, and a multitude of perils overtook them. A pestilence walked up and down the half-trodden highway from ocean to ocean. Hostile Indians menaced many and cut off not a few. Brigands sprang up from the scattered bands of emigrants, finding robbery more congenial than a daily struggle to reach the promised land. Outlaws must be dealt with summarily, and that rough justice which later was so promptly dispensed in the mines was the only appearance of human law on the plains. The pathway of these pilgrims was thickly set with the graves of those who fell in this battle of life. By night one might fancy he saw the long line of campfires gleaming by every stream, or glowing in countless valleys, from the Missouri to the Sacramento a belt of lights. By day one could see the confused heaps of earth along the trail which marked where hundreds had fallen by the way.
marked feature of this new race of men was its individuality. No man was like any other man. There were strong, almost fierce, friendships; but it seems as if no two men thought alike. Each human unit refused to be absorbed into any problem whatever. Old ties fell off from men, with their old habits and manners. Sons and fathers quarreled and fought like unnatural brothers, while at sea or on the plains. Old neighbors hated each other, and some mysterious bond united in new associations the most unlikely and dissimilar partners. To "go back on" a friend or "shake" a partner was one of the gravest of crimes. It was worse than murderit was next to theft in the brief table of deadly sins.
These men wrought always in the open air, or they burrowed in pits and caves of the earth. They endured fatigue and exposure with marvelous patience. They knew no domestic life, but consorted together in drinking-shops. There they sought that human sympathy and society which every soul craves. The grasshoppers are not more unfixed in their abodes than were these. They camped by streams and placers to-day; to-morrow they were gone. They rushed from point to point, wherever there was promise of gold. A mining hamlet sprang up in a night; in a day it was as utterly deserted as a primeval solitude.
Still the multitude kept on; and from these strange channels two mighty streams met in California. The schooling of the invaders had been novel. It produced novel results. The most
Into this strange existence woman came tardily. While she delayed she was idealized, almost deified. Men who lived lives of roughness and violence preserved an inner shrine, in which was locked the image of what they fondly fancied a far-off mother, sister, or sweetheart to be. So when the feminine element was gradually added to the population of the new State, long-banished man was toward her chivalrous, tender, adoring. If the women did not always deserve this homage, it was nevertheless a genuine tribute of the savage man to the finer creature which she should be. And men fought for these women, good or bad, as other animals have fought; and these women, too, good or bad, evoked the long-slumbering sentiment of the rude cynics who had almost hardened into satyrs as they dug in the earth.
Such a society as this, such a movement as that which peopled the State of California, may never be seen again. Perhaps it is well that this is so. It was a curious phenomenon. Its results will long be valuable to the student of human nature. The grotesque element in it is a novel addition to literature; its few heroic episodes make us think better of human kind. But the sordidness, the avarice, selfishness, and wild license of passion which the life of the gold-hunters brought into strong relief, let us hope, will never be produced on so grand a stage not fore so vast an audience.
When we consider, however, the character of this movement--so unique and so picturesque-we begin to appreciate the true value of Bret Harte's work. It is possible that in a few minor and immaterial points historical accuracy has been sacrificed to the requirements of art. But, for all purposes of record, these wonderful stories of the Argonauts may be accepted as faithful pictures of the men, of
their manners, and of the scenes in which they moved. Whatever "Oakhurst," "Tennessee's Partner," and the men of "Roaring Camp" may be in fiction, they deserve to be recollected as types of character. The adventures and homely doings of the FortyNiners were dramatic; the plainest statement of the events which illustrated their brief career must be a strange story. Bret Harte has done more than tell his tale with graphic power-he has caught the subtle, elusive spirit of those earlier times. His books are picture galleries, vivid with light and color.
Longfellow's "Masque of Pandora and Other Poems."
It seems to us that "The Masque of Pandora" could not have been written by a poet thoroughly penetrated by the spirit of Greek mythological literature. Were the author unknown, one might conjecture that the sources from which he drew were translations, and not the originals; that he had become acquainted with Greek mythology and the drama, but had quite failed in imbibing its essence or its art because the middleman, the translator, was not a poet. Not a few of the literary giants of England have, in former centuries, ventured into this species of writing, and their intellectual force has succeeded in making Anglo-Greek masques acceptable; but the vast majority of such efforts, even those of the great men, are no longer read. We fear a like fate will quickly befall "The Masque of Pandora" in spite of several good passages in it, such, for instance, as the following:
"Chorus of Oreades.
Centuries old are the mountains; Their foreheads wrinkled and rifted Helios crowns by day,
Pallid Selene by night;
From their bosoms uptossed
The snows are driven and drifted,
Thunder and tempest of wind
Among the "Other Poems," "Amalfi" is delightful for its sweetness, grave humor, beautiful landscape painting, and the delicate way in which the human element has been infused into the lovely scene. We cannot quote without giving the whole poem. The lines for the fiftieth anniversary of the Class of 1825 in Bowdoin College, called "Morituri Salutamus," are certainly the most important in this collection. Here Mr. Longfellow has left the region of generalization and charming fancies; here, with a hand well trained in more impersonal work, he strikes the heart's quivering fiber. There is room only for these few lines:
*The Masque of Pandora, and Other Poems. By H. W. Longfellow. Boston: J. R. Osgood & Co.
It seems to us that in the sonnets also Longfellow is at his best. Should he never publish another poem (Heaven foresend such a catastrophe!), these sonnets would form a most noble and beautiful close to the complete poem which his collected works would make. Or, if we use the figure of the symphony in speaking of the Longfellow anthology, it may be said that the first melodious notes, sounded so long ago, had in them the prediction of a closing strain not unlike that to which we listen in the "Book of Sonnets." There is about them an indefinable charm of tone,-a purity, a calmness, a melancholy,-that belongs only to this poet, and could belong to him perfectly only in the fullness of age.
As to the matter of form, the sonnets are after the Italian model; but this model is used as Milton and as Wordsworth used it, not with slavish adherence to rules. Among the sonnets which have given us most delight are the following, the first of which is from "Three Friends of Mine: "
"River, that stealest with such silent pace Around the City of the Dead, where lies
A friend who bore thy name, and whom these eyes
And say good night, for now the western skies