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with common wooden rakes. At the same time of sowing these, sow with them a small quantity of Red Clover seed, and scatter some common oats over the ground; then roll the surface and remove any stones or other obstructions. The oats will germinate in a week or ten days, and if kept cut back will keep the surface green the early part of the first summer. The Red Clover will take its place in the fall, and will keep the lawn green and fresh-looking, until the grass seed takes root and begins to tiller.
HOW TO MANAGE GRASS PLATS.-During the first and second season, the grass plat, by the kind of care it receives, may be made an eye-sore, or a spot of beauty. Frequent cutting and winter protection are absolutely necessary. The lawn-mowers, now within the reach of every one, make grass cutting on the lawn anything but hard work. During the first growing season, one should go over the young grass with the mower at least once in every ten days. Later in the summer, in spots where the grass is coming in sparsely, a forkful of yard manure should be scattered. Cut at intervals of ten days; it is policy to leave the cut grass on the surface as a mulch. Later in the fall, before cold weather sets in, the grass plat may be covered over with horse or yard manure, the coating to be left on until the following spring, when the coarser part may be removed by the rake. This will leave the ground in excellent condition for the next year's growth. P. T. Q.
A Family Journal.
In a certain farm-house twenty years ago a great blank-book was kept, and labeled Home Journal. Every night somebody made an entry in it. Father set down the sale of the calves, or mother the cutting of the baby's eye-tooth; or, perhaps, Jenny wrote a full account of the sleighing party last night; or Bob the proceedings of the Phi Beta Club; or Tom scrawled "Tried my new gun. Bully. Shot into the fence and Johnson's old cat."
On toward the middle of the book there was an entry of Jenny's marriage, and one of the younger girls had added a description of the brides-maids' dresses, and long afterward there was written, "This day father died," in Bob's trembling hand. There was a blank of many months after that.
The children's birthdays, their mother's wedding day, the day when they all came into the new home. There are a hundred cheerful, happy little events which some cheerful and happy little ceremony will make a life-long pleasure. The Germans keep alive their strong domestic attachments by just such means as these: it seems natural and right to their children that all the house should be turned topsy-turvy with joy at Vater or Mutter's Geburtstag; while to the American boy or girl it is a matter of indifference when his father and mother were born. We know a house in which it is the habit to give to each servant a trifling gift on the anniversary of their coming into the family; and, as might be expected, these anniversaries return for many years. Much of the same softening, humanizing effect may be produced by remembering and humoring the innocent whims and peculiarities of children. Among hard-working people it is the custom too often to bring up a whole family in platoons and to marshal them through childhood by the same general, inflexible rules. They must eat the same dishes, wear the same clothes, work, play, talk, according to the prescribed notions of father or mother. When right or wrong is concerned, let the rule be inexorable; but when taste, character, or stomach only is involved, humor the boy. Be to Tom's red cravat a little blind; make Will the pudding that he likes, while the others choose pie. They will be surer of your affection than if you sentimentalized about a mother 's love for an hour. Furthermore, do not grow old yourself too soon. Buy chess-boards, dominoes, bagatelle; learn to play games with the boys and girls; encourage them to ask their friends to dinner and tea, and take care that your dress and the table be pretty and attractive, that the children may be ashamed of neither. Why should I stay at home in the evening?" said a lad the other day. "Mother sits and darns stockings or reads Jay's Devotions; father dozes, and Maggy writes to her lover. I'll go where I can have fun." Meanwhile father and mother were broken-hearted because Joe was "going to ruin," which was undoubtedly the fact.
But nothing could have served better to bind that family of headstrong boys and girls together than the keeping of this book. They come back to the old homestead now, men and women with grizzled hair, to see their mother who is still living, and turn over its pages reverently with many a hearty laugh, or the tears coming into their eyes. It is their childhood come back again in visible shape.
There are many other practical ways in which home ties can be strengthened and made more enduring for children, and surely this is as necessary and important a matter in the management of a household as the furnishing of the library or chambers in good taste, or the accumulation of bric-à-brac. One most direct way is the keeping of anniversaries; not Christmas, Easter, nor the Fourth of July alone, but those which belong to that one home alone. VOL. XI.-48.
Old Clothes and Cold Victuals.
Now that we have all left the general season of yearly gift-giving, months behind us, we suggest to mothers and housekeepers whether it is not too much their custom to make it only a yearly matter. On Christmas the poor are suddenly exalted on a pedestal of woes, which the pulpit and press urge us to consider; our sympathies overflow to this or that hospital or asylum. Like Scrooge, we frantically order home turkeys or barrels of flour to the nearest pauper, or heap dolls and candies on the washerwoman's barefoot children. Now all this is very well, and no doubt we are brought by it, as we suppose, into closer communion with the spirit of our Master. But the pauper's children are just as cold and needy in February as December. You cannot clothe the naked and feed the hungry by
flinging them an alms once a year as you would a bone to a dog.
There is a pretty story of a French country family, which every mother should read to teach her the true practical method of charity. She would learn how, in the careful pious French woman's ménage, no scrap of clothing or food is suffered to go to waste; and how the value of old garments is doubled by their being cut and altered to fit the poor children to whom they are given. We propose that every housekeeper who reads this shall begin to make of this year a prolonged Christmas. Let her first find one or more really needy families who are willing to work, and therefore deserve such help as she can give. This is a much safer outlet for her charity than any agency or benevolent | society. In every household there is a perpetual stock of articles-clothes, bedding, furniture-too shabby for use, and which in the great majority of cases are torn up, thrown away, or become the perquisites of greedy servants already overpaid. As soon as the house-mother has some definite liveable, woolen wrapper, not flowing loose, but belted
in neatly at the waist, and finished at wrists and neck with narrow linen ruffling, and with a linen necktie. Tasteful white linen aprons are pretty and serviceable. At night, if necessary, throw around the shoulders a decent shawl. Even in summer, when calico wrappers are worn through the day, it will be found comfortable to change at night to the woolen fabric. Wear slippers, or warm boots made of felt, or of any soft material that does not make a noise.
objects of charity in her mind, it is astonishing how quickly these articles accumulate, and how serviceable they become by aid of a patch here, or tuck there, sewed by her own skilled fingers. Our children should each be allowed to give away their own half-worn clothes or toys. The shoes or top given in the fullness of their little hearts to some barefoot Mary or Bob whom they know, will teach them more of the spirit and practice of Christian charity than a dozen missionary boxes full of pennies for the far-off heathen. The same oversight should be exercised by the mother of a family in the matter of food. Enough wholesome provision, it is safe to say, is wasted in the kitchen of every well-to-do American family to feed another of half its size. Very few ladies will tolerate regular back-gate beggars, and the cold meat, bread, etc., go into the garbage cart, because nobody knows precisely what to do with them. A woman of society, or one with dominant æsthetic tastes, will very likely resent the suggestion that she should give half an hour daily to the collection and distribution of this food to her starving neighbors. But if they go unfed, what apology will it be for her in the time of closing accounts that her weekly receptions were the most agreeable in town? If she would establish, for instance, a big soup digester on the back of her range, and insist that all bones or scraps should go into it, her own hands could serve out nourishing basins of broth to many a famishing soul the winter round, and really it would be as fine a deed as though she had conquered Chopin on the ivory keys.
Blunders in the Sick-Room.
A MATTER often neglected in a sick-room, and yet very important, is the dress of the nurse. A patient is not likely to tell the affectionate relative "hovering around his bedside" that her dress is such an out
rage on taste that it makes him melancholy to look at it. He tries to fix his gaze upon some other object,—even the medicine bottles are more lovely to his view, but his eyes will wander back again to the horrible fascination of that costume. The dingy old dress that has been discarded and hung in the garret is not a proper one in which to robe one's self for the office of nurse. A short flannel sacque and felt skirt may be an economical costume, but is not particularly charming. As for the dismal, poverty-stricken shawls, with which ladies delight to array themselves in sick-rooms, one wonders where they came from. They are never seen or heard of at any other time. They appear and disappear mysteriously like malevolent spirits. Some ladies have a fancy for tying up their heads at such times in faded veils, or handkerchiefs of fearful construction. People in health would not remain an hour in the presence of such a sight, but the helpless patient suffers in silence. The most suitable dress for the sick-room in winter is a dark, wash
A want of sympathy on the part of a nurse is like a perpetual cold bath to a patient. This is not a very common blunder. But the opposite is so common, that it may sometimes become a question in the patient's mind whether he would not prefer absolute coldness. To be continually dodging around the bed, and pouncing upon every object that is not at right angles, smoothing out the sheet, and dabbing at the pillows, and saying a dozen times an hour: "How do you feel now?" "Don't you want something to eat?" "Can I do anything for you ?" "Let me bathe your head!"-is enough to drive a sick man wild. He feels that he would like to ask you to go away and hold your tongue; but he knows that all this fidgeting is prompted by affection, so he holds his tongue instead, and bears it all with what measure of patience nature has bestowed upon him. In point of fact, the sick person is generally very ready to tell his wants. His food and drink and physic are the momentous matters of the day to him, and will not be forgotten. He is likely to tell you when he feels better. He is sure to tell you when he feels worse.
Worse than all these things is the long, solemn face in a sick-room. It is hard for a troubled heart to put on a cheerful countenance, and it is no wonder that nurses so often fail in this. But we have known persons who thought that a cheerful face and a bright smile in a sick-room were indications of a hard heart.
CULTURE AND PROGRESS.
We must frankly admit, however, that we find great inequality in these essays-an inequality not attributable to the interval of time between the different parts, through this interval covers ten years or more, but to other causes. And it may be well to begin, after the fashion of reviewers, with the chap
ter we like least, that on Milton.
Lowell's "Among My Books." (Second Series.)*
ALL who have at heart the interests of American literature must rejoice at receiving a new volume from Professor Lowell's pen; and the dissatisfied Professor Wilkinson himself must admit that it is the best prose book ever published by this poet. It contains his keenest and broadest criticism, his best wit, his most varied knowledge, and his most mature and harmonious writing. He still lays himself open to the charge of being sometimes, as a critic, arbitrary, whimsical, and over-vehement in censure; and of being, as a writer, uneven in his finish, and not quite patient enough of labor to master his own marvelous wealth. But that all these defects are at a minimum in this book, and his merits at a maximum, must be fairly recognized at the outset.
Indeed, the very selection of his present topics carries us into the purest air of literature, and guarantees some immunity from personalities. Mr. Lowell, it must be frankly said, can never quite be trusted to deal with his contemporaries. He came forward into literary manhood at a time when the "Noctes Ambrosianæ " were considered good models, when Poe wrote criticisms, and the method of the bowie-knife prevailed strongly in English and American literature. The young poet came in for his share of this influence, and it is indelibly stamped on his "Fable for Critics." Our literature has outgrown this fault, through sheer breadth and compass; but Lowell has never quite shed it, and the least agreeable pages in his volume of " My Study Windows are those in which he devotes himself to the worrying of shy and lonely poets, like Percival and Thoreau, or to experiments in corpore vili, like his dissection of Mr. W. C. Hazlitt. With one unfortunate exception,-to be mentioned presently, this volume affords no opportunity for such treatment; it relates to some of the very highest themes in literature, and to themes which few men living are bet-lutely no right to deal with Professor Masson as the ter qualified to discuss.
And even had none of these unlucky parallelisms occurred, there are still some laws of courtesy which should prevail, if not between professor and professor, at least between authors of established position. Professor Masson is not a literary poacher or pettifogger; he belongs to the community of scholars, and has performed much literary labor, as honest and honorable as that of Mr. Lowell himself. Evidence of this may be found in his many books, and in his editorship of "Macmillan's Magazine." He has also done a noble work in his Professorship at Edinburgh, where he has accomplished what the united Faculty of Harvard College have thus far failed in doing, for he has created among his own students an ardent love for the study of Belles-Lettres. This affords, of course, no reason for withholding fair criticism; but it affords a reason for surrounding that criticism with all the courtesy that literary skill can command. Professor Lowell has abso
Saturday Review" might deal with an American poet, or "The Nation" with a Sophomore.
Passing to the other essays, we find that on Wordsworth one of the very best ever written on that difficult theme; incomparably more penetrating and thoughtful than that of Mr. Whipple, with which it has been compared; and only liable to criticism in some points where the generalization seems hasty, and particular poems appear to have been overlooked or ignored. When he compares Wordsworth to "those saints of Dante who gather brightness by revolving on their own axis" (p. 250); when he says, "groping in the dark passages of life, we come upon some axiom of his, as it were a wall that gives us our bearings and enables us to find an outlet" (p. 250); when he says of "The Excursion," that "Wordsworth had his epic mold to fill, and, like Benvenuto Cellini in casting his Perseus, was forced to throw in everything, debasing the metal, lest it should run short" (p. 238); when he speaks of "the historian of Wordsworthshire"
The immediate theme of this essay is a series of volumes relating to Milton, and published by Professor Masson of Edinburgh. Mr. Lowell says, with more or less justice, of this worthy editor: "I think he made a mistake in his very plan, or else was guilty of a misnomer in his title" (page 266). But this is exactly the criticism that the reader is disposed to bring against Mr. Lowell's essay. It is called an essay on Milton; yet it is, from the begin
* Among My Books. Second Series. By James Russell Lowell, Professor of Belles-Lettres in Harvard College. Boston: J. R. Osgood & Co.
ning almost to the end, simply a sharp diatribe against Mr. Masson as a literary workman. And, by a singular fatality, the American critic lays himself open to precisely the most serious charges brought against the Scottish author. He complains of Professor Masson for prolixity, and reiterates the charge with such laboriousness of statement, page after page, that not even the play of wit can save the prolonged arraignment from becoming tedious. He points out the difficulty of finding Milton among the profuse details of his biographer, forgetful of the fact that Milton plays almost as subordinate a part in the pages of the criticism. Finally, he devotes whole paragraphs to the superfluous task of proving that the Scottish editor does not always write in good taste; and then allows himself to say of Milton : "A true Attic bee, he made boot on every lip where there was a taste of truly classic honey" (page 271). The italics are our own.
(p. 240); when he describes the double life of the poet, as of Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch (p. 245); -he says things that could not be bettered, and there are many such things in the essay. There are also very many delicious obiter dicta, as, where he says of Goethe's Ueber allen Gipfeln ist Ruh, that "the lines, as if shaken down by a momentary breeze of emotion, drop lingeringly one after another like blossoms upon turf" (p. 214); or, where he describes the German poet Klopstock, whom Wordsworth visited, as "the respectable old poet, who was passing the evening of his days by the chimneycorner, Darby and Joan-like, with his respectable Muse" (p. 222). But, when Mr. Lowell says dogmatically of Wordsworth that "he had no dramatic power" (p. 240), we would take leave to recall to the critic's memory that extraordinary poem, "The Affliction of Margaret," than which nothing of Browning's is more absolutely real in its intensity, more utterly detached from all the individuality of Wordsworth, and all his actual or supposable experiences; than which not one of Mr. Lowell's favorite Scottish ballads has traits of more simple and picturesque vigor. Again, when he says that Wordsworth " never attained" to " severe dignity and reserved force" in his blank verse, we would venture to remind him of that glorious fragment: "There is a yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale❞—a poem which, for imagination and rhythm, is, to our thinking, far beyond Keats, beyond Landor, and finds no parallel this side of Milton. And what surprises us most is, that throughout Mr. Lowell's criticisms he wholly ignores that profoundly emotional side of Wordsworth's nature which is revealed in two poems only, "The Complaint," and the sonnet, "Why art thou Silent?"-poems without which we should have forever missed knowing the deep human sensibility which must, after all, have marked this grave poet; poems, which no critic has cited in this connection, we believe, except Mr. Lowell's old antagonist, Margaret Fuller Ossoli." Papers on Literature and Art," p. 167.)
With the essay upon Keats, we can find no fault, -xcept for its shortness, and, perhaps, for a little undue censure attached to an innocent remark by Lord Houghton. The essay on Dante is the longest in the book, and is in part-thirty-four pages-a reprint of Mr. Lowell's memoir of the Italian poet in Appleton's "Cyclopædia." The combination of this with the rest involves some repetition, but the whole is too valuable to admit of complaint. Most attractive of all is the paper on Spenser, reprinted from "The North American Review;" in this, Mr.
Lowell is delightful throughout, and only microscopic criticisms can be made, as upon his first apologizing (p. 171) for Spenser's occasional grossness as being a vice of the times, and then saying in conclusion that "Spenser needs no such extenuations," though others may (p. 200).
Thus much for the matter of this book; and, looking now at its style, we must repeat that, to our thinking, Mr. Lowell is here seen at his best. The whole nation has an interest in the style of its prose writers, and even in pointing out their weak
points, so long as this only holds them to their own highest standard. Mr. Lowell, while an unwearied reader, has sometimes seemed rather indolent in dealing with the details of his own literary execution. Surely a careful revision would have retouched such a sentence as this, "John Keats, the second of four children, like Chaucer and Spenser, was a Londoner" (p. 304); where we are left a moment in doubt whether the two other poets resembled Keats in birthplace or in the statistics of brothers and sisters. Nor would such revision have excused "a startling personal appeal to our highest consciousness and our noblest aspiration, such as we wait for in vain from any other poet" (p. 240); where the "such," referring grammatically to "aspiration," was plainly intended by the author to refer to "appeal." Nor should we have Mr. Lowell's indorsement (p. 231) of the opinion that Wordsworth's prose sentences were “long and involved,” accompanied by such a sentence on the critic's part as this, without even a beneficent semicolon to help us through it:
"But now we must admit the shortcomings, the failures, the defects, as no less essential elements in forming a sound judgment as to whether the seer and artist were so united in him as to justify the claim first put in by himself and afterward maintained by his sect to a place beside the few great poets who exalt men's minds, and give a right direction and safe outlet to their passions through the imagination, while insensibly helping them toward balance of character and serenity of judgment by stimulating their sense of proportion, form, and the nice adjustment of means to ends." (P. 202.)
It is fair to say that this is by far the worst senence in the book, and is an instance of the "survival" of that early habit of involved writing which was so conspicuous in Mr. Lowell's first prose book, the "Conversations." We may almost rejoice that such an example is preserved, like a schoolboy's first bad autograph, to throw out in bolder relief a superb sentence like this, where he compares Wordsworth to Milton:
"His mind had not that reach and elemental movement of Milton's, which, like the trade-wind, gathered to itself thoughts and images like stately fleets from every quarter; some deep with silks and spicery, some brooding over the silent thunders of their battailous armaments, but all swept lows of his verse, every inch of canvas strained forward in their destined track, over the long bilby the unifying breath of their common epic impulse." (P. 241.)
We may demur, if we please, at single words in this sentence-as "battailous," "unifying,"-but for nobleness of swell and rhythm, it might be the work of Milton himself. The book contains many shorter phrases which are marked by a similar beauty of execution. The wonder is not that there should be frequent irregularities in Mr. Lowell's prose writing, but that he should ever write so admirably, when he appears to have so little
abstract reverence for the art. He always seems to define prose,-as on pages 138, 226, 326,-as if it were merely poetry that had failed of its duty and got into disgrace. And in the mere mechanism of prose structure, we must point out one habit in which he falls far below the literary standard of Emerson, the practice, namely, of allowing part of his thought to straggle into foot-notes, instead of working it all into the main text, and leaving the notes to contain only references and citations.
In conclusion, we perceive with joy that Mr. Lowell shows no trace in this book of that cynicism which has been, perhaps, too hastily suspected in him, as the growth of advancing years. There are here no sneers at the proposition that Teague should have a note, nor is there any visible evidence of a reactionary mood. He does, indeed, say what would have come strangely from the Lowell of thirty years ago, that, "like all great artistic minds, Dante was essentially conservative" (p. 36). But, inasmuch as Professor Lowell's own period of poetic production coincided pretty closely with his period of radicalism; and as the one great poem of his maturer years,—the “Commemoration Ode,"- -was a pæan over a completed reform, we may safely leave his artistic theory, in this respect, to be corrected by his personal example.
John Burroughs's "Winter Sunshine."*
How many of us can boast an acquaintance who speaks of all the pretty and melodious creatures of woods and fields with the sure tone of an intimate friend? Not many, it is to be feared. Yet the largest public has in Mr. Burroughs a near approach to such a charming companion, and one, moreover, who, for our delight, has condensed many hours of keen out-door enjoyment, many days of loving scrutiny of woody things, into the compass of a small book. His gentle muse is fresh, alert, and out of doors; less booky, as well as less literary, than that of Izaak Walton, for instance; but all the freer and breezier for that. Read in this hurried and overworked atmosphere of the United States, "Wake Robin" and "Winter Sunshine" give one the same deep-lunged delight that a cramped dweller in cities feels when he steps out from wholesome pine groves upon the windy summit of a mountain. This is real air, blood-quickening; these are real pages of nature, delighting the mind.
Indeed, is it not a little privilege to listen to a man who talks about foxes, we will say, as Mr. Burroughs can? How many persons speak of pretty Reynard and suffer from his craft, who in all their lives have never seen him running wild. Even the hunter needs a dog to get sight of him.
"I go out in the morning after a fresh fall of snow and see at all points where he has crossed the road. Here he has leisurely passed within rifle-range of the house, evidently reconnoitering the premises with an eye to the hen-roost. That clear, sharp track,-there is no mistaking it for the clumsy footprint of a little dog. All his wildness and agility
* Winter Sunshine. By John Burroughs, Author of "Wake Robin." New York: Hurd & Houghton. 1876.
are photographed in it. Here he has taken fright, or suddenly recollected an engagement, and in long, graceful leaps, barely touching the fence, he has gone careering up the hill as fleet as the wind. "The wild, buoyant creature, how beautiful he is ! This is thoroughly a winter sound,— this voice of the hound upon the mountain,—and one that is music to many ears. The long, trumpetlike bay, heard for a mile or more,-now faintly back to the deep recesses of the mountain,-now distinct, but still faint, as the hound comes over some prominent ridge, and the wind favors.
"The fox usually keeps half a mile ahead, regulating his speed by that of the hound, occasionally pausing a moment to divert himself with a mouse, or to contemplate the landscape, or to listen for his pursuer. If the hound press him too closely, he leads off from mountain to mountain, and so generally escapes the hunter; but if the pursuit be slow, he plays about some ridge or peak, and falls a prey, though not an easy one, to the experienced sportsman."
About apples, there is a chapter which invests that cheap and overlooked fruit with something of the divinity which is bred of enthusiasm. Listen to this outburst over apples, this thanksgiving fitted for the whole year, and realize how well Mr. Burroughs has done to name the whole book "Winter Sunshine:"
"I love to stroke its polished rondure with my hand, to carry it in my pocket on my tramp over the winter hills, or through the early spring woods. You are company, you red-cheeked spitz, or you, salmon-fleshed greening! I toy with you, press your face to mine, toss you in the air, roll you on the ground, see you shine out where you lie amid the moss and dry leaves and sticks. You are so alive! You glow like a ruddy flower. You look so animated, I almost expect you to move! I postpone the eating of you, you are so beautiful. How compact! How exquisitely tinted! Stained by the sun, and varnished against the rains."
Of birds, Mr. Burroughs earned long ago the right to speak with authority, and of birds he has something good to say in this book, as well as of the pleasures and the habits of many small beasts of our woods; but the impressions made upon him by a short tour in England and a flight into France give us reason to admire his well-trained powers of observation in other and more complex fields. Of the many writers on the same country no one has approached England quite in the way he has. It is the look of the land and people which he records, the way the birds and beasts impress a new arriver, and all those other points which are, to be sure, outside, but, to a sufficiently sensitive person, not necessarily superficial. London he finds singularly countrylike, in spite of its enormous size; Paris, pulled down, rebuilt, renovated, and centralized, he calls the handiwork of a race of citizens; admires it, but tires of it soon. Especially good are his remarks about the monotony of the fine Parisian architecture, and the following may give an idea of the lightness of his hand :