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The family, including the servants, numbered discuss the question whether women have the some twenty persons; and when I asked, "What is meant in England by a person of no wealth?" I was told that it meant one who could not portion his daughters when they married.
It was the period of our distressing financial crisis of 1857, and English as well as American families were ruined. I asked of an English lady, "What will become of the daughters of an English family in which there is no property?" She replied, "They will live on their brother." And the question was asked of me, "What will become of the daughters of an American family in which there is no money?" "They will earn money," I replied. The answer was, "You Americans are a sensible people."
The house was very extensive, the grounds proportionately so: the table was to me, as all English tables seemed, over-bountiful; but in style of furniture and of dress I know no merchant's family in Boston so simple.
English habits may have changed since 1857, but at that time I saw no young ladies in silk. The plain print for morning and simple white for evening were all that the daughters of the astronomer royal or those of Sir John Herschel wore; and yet in the family of the astronomer royal, as in that of Sir John Herschel, a ring of the door-bell might announce not only the highest potentate of science in England, but the highest representative of any social circleeven the Queen herself.
You would say, in looking at Caroline Herschel's portrait, which hung in the drawingroom, "She must have been handsome when she was young." Her ruffled cap shades a mild face, whose blue eyes were even then full of animation. But it was merely the beauty of age. I suspect that this is often the case, especially when the life has been such as to develop the soul, which overcomes ugliness of feature and coarseness of complexion.
If you had asked Caroline Herschel after ten years of labor what good had come of it, she would probably have answered, with the extreme simplicity of her nature, that she had relieved her brother of a good deal of wearisome labor and perhaps kept up his vigor and prolonged his life. Probably it never entered her thoughts to be other than the patient and self-sacrificing assistant to a truly great man.
The woman who has peculiar gifts has a definite line marked out for her, and the call from God to do his work in the field of scientific investigation may be as imperative as that which calls the missionary into the moral field, or the mother into the family: as missionary, or as scientist, as sister, or as mother, no woman has the right to lose her individuality. To
capacity for original investigation in science is simply idle until equal opportunity is given them. We cannot overrate the consequences of such lives, whether it be Mrs. Somerville translating Laplace, Harriet Hosmer modeling her statues, Mrs. Browning writing her poems, or Caroline Herschel spending nights under the open canopy; in all it is the devotion to idea, the loyalty to duty, which reaches to all ages.
One of Caroline Herschel's strong characteristics was the carefulness with which everything was done. We are apt to hurry in everything, as if railroad-speed were the law of daily lifeas if our hearts did not beat fast enough. She worked slowly, as if she knew that she had ninety-eight years of this life and all eternity in the next. When she worked in the little observatory at Slough, where the first observations were made, she not only worked in every observatory of the world, but she reached to every school for girls.
If what Caroline Herschel did is a lesson and a stimulus to all women, what she did not do is a warning. Has any being a right not to be? When Caroline Herschel so devoted herself to her brother that on his death her own self died, and her life became comparatively useless, she did, all unconsciously, a wrong, and she made the great mistake of her life.
The fault was only in part her fault. She was honored late in life- as few women have been, by her family, by her sovereign, by the savants of all Europe. It was too late. It seems probable that her gifts were as fully bestowed as those of her brother; she was left uneducated and undeveloped. It was the English way; it is still the way of the world. Living on more than twenty years after his death, she needed for her own comfort pursuits and avocations outside the life that she had given him, and throughout her nearly one hundred years the world needed all that she could do.
When she kept the records, so systematically and so scientifically that after nearly one hundred years they are still valuable, every line that she wrote was an argument for the higher education of women; when she wrapped herself in innumerable wrappings and took care of the body that the mind might do its duty, she gave a lesson which every girl ought to follow.
She showed also the lesson of the usefulness of the unmarried woman. In England much more than in our country the unmarried woman holds a secondary place- unless she has some title. She even enters the dining-room after every married woman. I would in no way underrate the higher value of the wife and the mother and the blessedness of those whom
God has placed in families, but life need not be a failure and a blank when this position is denied. The family is only a larger one; the usefulness is not so intense, but it may be wider spread.
The peculiarity of Caroline Herschel's character, which in the thought of most persons gave the great charm, was her capacity of selfabnegation. She was the sister of a great man; to help him to make his work complete, to see that it was the best work that could be done, that all guards were placed around it to preserve it, was what she believed to be her duty, and she did it. It seems ungenerous to blame at all where we admire so much.
We make close friendships in England, and then we cross the Atlantic and for a few
months, perhaps for a few years, letters pass, telling of the life on the different sides of the world; then they grow few and far between. In my case came the dreadful war, and America and Great Britain seemed to be still farther separated.
Engrossed as we all were by the great moral question in our own country, personal ties, except of the closest nature, were subordinated. Letters became fewer and then more concisely stated. I heard that Sir John Herschel suffered from "dreadful coughs" in winter, and before the war was over the letters had ceased altogether. Suddenly one spring came the news that sent a pang to many a heart in America-"Sir John Herschel is dead." Maria Mitchell.
THE OLD BASCOM PLACE.
BY JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS,
Author of "Days and Nights with Uncle Remus,' ," "Free Joe," etc.
LL this was no less the result of Francis Underwood's desire than of the doctor's commands. The old practitioner was noted for his skill throughout the region, and after he had talked with Judge Bascom he gave it as his opinion that the only physic necessary in the case was perfect rest and quiet, and that these could be secured only by allowing the old man to remain undisturbed in the belief that he was once more the owner of the Bascom Place.
"He'll not trouble you for long," said Dr. Bynum, wiping his spectacles, "and I 've no doubt that whatever expense may be incurred will be settled by his old friends. Oh, Bascom still has friends here," exclaimed the doctor, misunderstanding Underwood's gesture of protest. "He went wrong, badly wrong; but he is a Southerner, sir, to the very core, and in the South we are in the habit of looking after our own. We may differ, sir, but when the pinch comes you'll find us together."
The doctor's lofty air was wholly lost on his companion.
"My dear sir," said Underwood, laying his hand somewhat heavily on the doctor's shoulder, "what do you take me for? Do you suppose that I intend to set up a hospital here ?" "Oh, by no means, by no means," said Dr. Bynum, soothingly. "Not at all; in fact, quite
"Dr. Bynum," said Underwood, with some degree of emphasis, " permit me to remind you that Judge Bascom is my guest. There is no question of money except so far as your bill is concerned, and that-"
"Now, now, my dear boy," exclaimed the old doctor, holding up both hands in a gesture of expostulation, "don't, don't fly up! What is the use? I was only explaining matters; I was only trying to let you know how we Southerners feel. You must have noticed that the poor old Judge has n't been treated very well since his return here. His best friends have avoided him. I was only trying to tell you that they hold him in high esteem, and that they are willing to do all they can for him."
"As a Southerner?" inquired Underwood, "or as a man?"
"Tut, tut!" exclaimed Dr. Bynum. "Don't come running at me with your head down and your horns up. We 've no time to fall into a dispute. You look after the Judge as a Northerner, and I'll look after him as a Southerner. His daughter must come here. He is very feeble. He has but one irrational idea, and that is that he owns the old Place. In every other particular his mind is sound, and he will give you no trouble. His idea must be humored and even then the collapse will come too soon for that poor girl, his daughter-as lovely a creature, sir, as you ever saw."
This statement was neither information nor news so far as Underwood was concerned. "If
I see her," the old doctor went on, with a somewhat patronizing air, "I'll try to explain matters; but it is a very delicate undertaking, sir-very delicate."
"No," said Underwood; "there will be no need for explanations. My sister will go for Miss Bascom, and whatever explanations may be necessary she will make at the proper time." "An admirable arrangement," said Dr. Bynum with a grunt of satisfaction" an admirable arrangement indeed. Well, my boy, you must do the best you can, and I know that will be all that is necessary. I am sorry for Bascom, very sorry, and I'm sorrier for his daughter. I'll call again to-night."
As Dr. Bynum drove down the avenue, Underwood was much gratified to see Jesse coming through the gate. The negro appeared to be much perplexed. He took off his hat as he approached Underwood, and made a display of politeness somewhat unusual, although he was always polite.
"Is you seed Marse Judge Bascom?" he inquired.
"Yes," said Underwood. "He is in the house yonder, resting himself. You seem frightened; what is the trouble?"
“Well, suh, I ain't had no sech worriment sence de Sherman army come 'long. I dunner what got inter Marse Judge Bascom. He been gwine on des like yuther folks, settin' 'roun' en talkin' 'long wid hisse'f, en den all of er sudden he break out en shave en dress hisse'f, en go visitin' whar he ain't never been visitin' befo'. I done year 'im say p'intedly dat he ain't never gwine come yer les'n de Place b'long ter 'im. Do he look downhearted, suh?"
"No," said Underwood, "I can't say that he does. He seems to be very well satisfied. He has called several times for Wesley. I have heard you called Jesse, but perhaps the Judge knows you as Wesley. There are several negroes around here who answer to different names."
"No, suh," said Jesse, scratching his head. "I ain't never been call Wesley sence I been bornded inter de worl'. Dey was er nigger name Wesley what use ter go 'long wid Marse Judge Bascom en wait on 'im when I wuz er little boy, but Wesley done been dead too long ago ter talk about. I dunner what make folks's min' drop back dat away. Look like dey er sorter fumblin' 'roun' tryin' fer ter ketch holt er sump'n ne'r what done been pulled up out'n reach."
"Well," said Underwood, "the Judge is in the house. See if he wants anything; and if he asks about his daughter, tell him she will be here directly."
When Jesse went into the house he found the Judge lying on a lounge in the hall. His
eyes were closed, and he seemed to be dozing; but Jesse's movements aroused him. "Ah! is that you, Wesley? Where is your Miss Mildred?"
'She comin', suh; she comin' right now." "Very well, very well. You must make yourself at home here," he said to Francis Underwood, who had followed Jesse. "I am somewhat dilapidated myself, but my daughter will entertain you. Wesley, I believe I will go to my room. Lend me your arm."
"Allow me to assist you," said Underwood; and so between the two the old man was carried to the room that had been his own when the house was his. It happened to be Underwood's room, but that made no difference. It belonged once more to the Judge in his disordered fancy, and thither he went.
After a while Miss Sophie came bringing Mildred. Just how she had explained matters to the poor girl no one ever knew, but it must have been in some specially sympathetic way, for when Francis Underwood assisted the ladies from the carriage Miss Bascom appeared to be the less agitated of the two.
"The Judge is as comfortable as possible," Underwood said cheerily. "Jesse is with him, and I think he is asleep. His nervousness has passed away."
"Oh, do you think he is seriously ill ?" exclaimed Mildred, clasping her hands together. "Certainly not, just now," said Francis. Underwood. "The doctor has been here, and he has gone away apparently satisfied. Sister, do you take charge of Miss Bascom, and show her how to be at home here."
And so Judge Bascom and his beautiful daughter were installed at the old Place. Mildred, under the circumstances, would rather have been elsewhere, but she was practically under orders. It was necessary to the well-being of her father, so the doctor said, that he should remain where he was; it was necessary that he should be humored in the belief that he was the owner of the old Place. It is only fair to say that Miss Sophie Underwood and her brother were more willing and anxious to enter into this scheme than Mildred appeared to be. She failed to comprehend the situation until after she had talked with her father, and then she was in despair. Judge Bascom was the representative of everything substantial and enduring in his daughter's experience, and when she realized that his mind had been seized by a vagaiy she received a tremendous shock. But the rough edges of the situation, so to speak, were smoothed and turned by Miss Sophie, who assumed motherly charge of the young girl. Miss Sophie's methods were so sympathetic and so womanly, and she gave to the situation such a matter-of-fact interpre
tation, that the grief and dismay of the young girl were not as overwhelming as they otherwise would have been.
look right. Pap used to say he'd never be happy ontel the Bascoms come back inter the'r prop'ty."
"Well, he 's dead, ain't he?" inquired Mrs. Bass in a tone that showed she had the best of the argument.
"Yessum," said Mr. Grissom, shifting about in his chair and crossing his legs, as if anxious to dispose of an unpleasant subject-"yessum, pap 's done dead." To this statement, after a somewhat embarrassing silence, he added: "Pap took an' died a long time ago."
NATURALLY all the facts that have just been set down here were soon known to the inhabitants of Hillsborough. Naturally, too, something more than the facts were also known and talked about. There was the good old doctor ready to shake his head and look mysterious," and there were the negroes ready to give out an exaggerated version of the occurrences that followed Judge Bascom's visit to his old home. Well," said Major Jimmy Bass to his wife, with something like a snort, "ef the old Judge is gone there an' took holt of things, like they say, it's bekaze he 's out'n his mind. I wonder what in the round world could 'a' possessed him?"
"I 'spec' he 's done drapt back into his dolt-age," said farmer Joe-Bob Grissom, who had gone to the major's for the purpose of discussing the matter. "An' yit, they do say that he's got a clean title to every bit of the prop'ty ef you take into account all that talk about his wife's brother an' sech like."
"Well," remarked the major grimly, "Sarah there ain't got no brother, an' I reckon I'm sorter pretected from them kind of gwines-on." "Why, tooby shore you are," said his wife, who was the Sarah referred to; "but I ain't so mighty certain that I would n't be better off if I had a brother to follow you around where the wimmen folks can't go. You 've flung away a many a bright dollar that he might have picked up."
“Who, Sarah?" inquired the major, wincing a little.
My brother," returned Mrs. Bass.
Why, you have n't got a brother, Sarah," said Major Bass.
"More 's the pity," exclaimed the major's wife. "I ought to have had one— a great big double-j'inted chap. But you need n't tell me about the old Judge," she went on. "He tried to out-Yankee the Yankees up yonder in Atlanty, and now he 's a-trying to out-Yankee them down here. Lord! You need n't tell me a thing about old Judge Bascom. Show me a man that's been wrapped up with the Radicals, and I'll show you a man that ain't got no better sense than to try to chousel somebody. I'd just as lieve see Underwood have the Bascom Place as the old Judge-every bit and grain."
"Well, I had n't," said the major, emphatically.
No, ner me nuther," said Mr. Joe-Bob Grissom. "Hit may be right, but hit don't
Yes," said Mrs. Bass in a gentler tone, "and I 'll warrant you that when he died he was n't pestered about whether the Bascoms owned the old Place or not. Did he make any complaints?"
"No 'm," replied Mr. Grissom, in a reminiscent way, "I can't say that he did. He jest did n't bother about 'em. Hit looked like they jest natchally slipped outer his mind."
"Why, certainly," said Mrs. Bass, with a little shake of her head; "they slipped outer your pa's mind, and now they say the old Judge has slipped out of his own mind."
"Well, we need n't boast of it, Sarah," remarked the major with a feeble attempt at severity. Nobody knows the day when some of us may be twisted around. We've no room to brag."
"No, we ain't," said his wife, bridling up. "I've trembled for you a many a day when you thought I was thinking about something else a many a day.”
"Now you know mighty well, Sarah, that no good-natured man like me ain't a-gwine to up an' lose their mind, jest dry so," said the major earnestly. "They've got to have some mighty big trouble."
"Yes," said Mrs. Bass, grimly, "and they have to have mind too, I reckon. Nobody that never had a horse ever lost one."
The major nodded his head at Joe-Bob Grissom, as much as to say that it was only a very able man who could afford to have such a sprightly wife. The mute suggestion, however, was lost on Grissom, who was accustomed to taking life seriously.
"I hear a mighty heap of talk," he said, "but I ain't never been so mighty certain an' shore that the old Judge is lost his mind. There 'd be lots of fun ef it should happen to be that he had the papers all made out in his pocket, an' I 've hearn some hints thataway."
"Well," said the more practical Mrs. Bass, "he ain't got no papers. The minute eyes on him after he come back here, I says to Mr. Bass there, 'Mr. Bass,' says I, 'the old Judge has gone wrong in his upper story.' Ah, you can't fool me. I know a thing when I see it, more especially if I look at it close. I've seen folks that had to rub the silver off a thrip
to tell whether it was passable or not. I might be fooled about the silver in a thrip, but you can't fool me about a grown man.'
"Nobody ain't tryin' to fool you, Sarah," said the major, with some show of spirit.
"Well, I reckon not," exclaimed Mrs. Bass, somewhat contemptuously. "I'd like to see anybody try to fool me right here in my own house and right before my face."
"There ain't no tellin'," said Mr. Joe-Bob Grissom, in his matter-of-fact way, ignoring everything that had been said-"there ain't no tellin' whether the old Judge is got the papers or not. 'T would be hard on Frank Underwood an' his sister, an' they ain't no better folks than them. They don't make no fuss about it, an' they don't hang out no signs, but when you come to a narrer place in the road where you can't go forrerd nor back'ards, an' nuther can you turn 'roun', you may jest count on them Underwoods. They'll git you out ef you can be got out, an' before you can say thanky-do, they'll be away off yonder helpin' some yuther poor creetur."
"Well," said Major Bass, with an air of independence, "I'm at the fust of it. It may be jest as you say, Joe-Bob; but ef so, I 've never knowed it."
"Hit 's jest like I tell you," said Joe-Bob, emphatically.
"Well, the Lord love us!" exclaimed Mrs. Bass, "I hope it's so I do from the bottom of my heart. It would be a mighty queer world if it did n't have some tender spots in it, but you need n't be afraid that they'll ever get as thick as the measles. I reckon you must be renting land on the old Bascom Place," she went on, eying Mr. Grissom somewhat sharply.
"Yessum," said Joe-Bob, moving about uneasily in his chair. "Yessum, I do."
Whereupon Mrs. Bass smiled, and her smile was more significant than anything she could have said. It was disconcerting indeed, and it was not long before Mr. Joe-Bob Grissom made some excuse for depriving Major Jimmy and Mrs. Sarah Bass of his company.
As he was passing the Bascom Place on his way home he saw lights in the house and heard voices on the piazza.
"Ef it warn't for that blamed dog," he thought, "I'd go up there an' see what they er talkin' about so mighty peart."
BUT Mr. Grissom's curiosity would not have been satisfied. Judge Bascom was sitting in a large rocking chair, enjoying the pleasant evening air, and the others were sitting near, talking on the most ordinary topics. This sit
uation was one of the doctor's prescriptions, as Miss Sophie said. Those around were to wear a cheerful air, and the Judge was to be humored in the belief that he was once more the proprietor of the Bascom Place. He seemed to respond to this treatment in the most natural way. The old instinct of hospitality rose in him and had its way. He grew garrulous indeed, and sat on the piazza, or walked up and down and talked by the hour. He was full of plans and projects, and some of them were so suggestive that Francis Underwood made a note of them for further consideration. The Judge was the genial host, and while his daughter was full of grief and humiliation at the position in which she was placed, he appeared to draw new life and inspiration from his surroundings. He took a great fancy to Miss Sophie: her observations, which were practical in the extreme, and often unflattering, were highly relished by him. The Judge himself was a good talker, and he gave Miss Sophie an opportunity to vent some of her pet opinions, the most of which were very pronounced.
As for Mildred, in spite of her grief and anxiety, she found her surroundings vastly more pleasant than she had at first imagined they could be. Some instinct or prepossession made her feel at home in the old house, and as she grew more cheerful and more contented she grew more beautiful and more engaging. At least this was the opinion of Francis Underwood.
"Brother," said Miss Sophie one day when they were together, "you are in love." "I don't know whether to say yes or no," he replied. "What is it to be in love?"
"How should I know ?" exclaimed Miss Sophie, reddening a little. "I see you mooning around, and moping. Something has come over you, and if it is n't love, what is it?"
He held up his hands, white and muscular, and looked at them. Then he took off his hat and tousled his hair in an effort to smooth it with his fingers.
"It is something," he said after a while, "but I don't know what. Is love such an everyday affair that it can be called by name as soon as it arrives?"
"Don't be absurd, brother," said Miss Sophie, with a gesture of protest. "You talk as if you were trying to take a census of the affair."
"No," said he; "I am trying to get a special report. I saw Dr. Bynum looking at you over his spectacles yesterday."
Miss Sophie tried to show that this suggestion was an irritating one, but she failed, and then fell to laughing.
"I never knew I was so full of humor before," said Francis Underwood, by way of comment.