Puslapio vaizdai

straw. When we were publishing an our copy of his book, printed in 1891, article of travel by him, I found in one than the proof of yours, printed in instalment a long quotation from 1792, since he died twenty-five years Sterne's “A Sentimental Journey." before even yours was published." In the passage occurred the word We had thought it a huge joke, and "désobligeante," the post-chaise used no one had for a moment doubted by Sterne. In the author's quotation that his copy of Sterne was as old as he the word was written "desobligeante." said and that its désobligeante had no In verifying the passage, I found that accent-even with the best of intenthe copy I used had printed the word tions such oversights are not wholly correctly, with the acute accent over unknown even in our instructed time! the initial e, and I therefore corrected —but he had been too certain of his the word. In returning his proof the omniscience to suppose that fate could author insisted that he was right, and play him so scurvy a trick as to remove had copied the passage as Sterne had Sterne so untimely, and he never forwritten it. In reply, Mr. Gilder sent gave me. And I, too, was ill satisfied. him the copy of the book I had used in I had come off second best in so many verifying the passage, and the author encounters with him that I felt the returned it with this note:

right to be a little aggrieved at his "Dear Mr. Gilder:

failure to accept with good temper my "This is a very pretty little copy of triumph. It appeared a picayune Sterne's 'Sentimental Journey' that affair if the victim did not applaud. you have sent me, but I notice that it It seemed, too, a picayune affair to was printed in 1891, and Sterne could concern oneself so greatly about trifles. not have read the proof. My copy was But if one had standards, where was printed in 1792, and Sterne did read the point at which one could begin to the proof of it."

break them without eventually comMr. Gilder called me into his room ing to a state where one no longer had and gave me the note.

any standards at all? Liberty may "Oh, let him have his way," he said. easily become license, and license

I read the note, and thought I saw become chaos. a way out. It was all petty enough One can laugh at it all to-day, but and not worth wasting a thought over, once the contentions and doubts but he had always been so insistent brought unquiet hours. It is so much about trifles that I in turn had become pleasanter pleasing people! The gods equally stubborn.

and the half-gods of literature are "Well, may I answer him, Mr. temperamental, and with the best Gilder?" I asked.

of intentions one cannot always lure He consented, and after the veri- them into the ways of consistent and fication of my suspicion I wrote: logical editors. Oftener than not, like Dear Mr. X -:

Howells, they "sometimes like to play "Mr. Gilder says that you are to have by ear." And one of the things that your way in regard to désobligeante, every editor ought to know is that though we are nevertheless at a loss to though consistency may be a jewel, understand how it could be any more a "foolish consistency," as Emerson diffieult for Sterne to read the proof of said, “is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

(The end of tbe sixth part of As I Saw It from an Editor's Desk.")

Matthew Bradford



F you go among the Cornwalls in childless, he has a lean, fussy houseConnecticut-North, East, South, keeper whose husband slackly does

or West Cornwall, Cornwall Cen- the work on the farm with the help ter, Cornwall Plains, Cornwall Bridge, of their half-grown boy. This tame or Cornwall Hollow-looking for Yan menage the old man governs from his kees of the sort thought of as quaint habitual seat, in all but the coldest by summer visitors, you will not often weather, on the narrow porch from find them. Once I thought I had which he looks across a meadow befound one; he, however, told me that yond which are a swamp, a row of the last true Cornwall Yankee had maples, gradual hills, and the sky. died some fifty years before. Cer- Frail even when the sun shines, he tainly my nearest neighbor is not of almost hibernates during the bitter the eccentric stock. Except for a few winter. Once I came to Cornwall in Doric touches in his speech, he might April, about some early prospects for be a good and wise man of any age, my garden, and was shocked at the withdrawn from the world to his na- apathy into which he seemed to have tive province.

sunk. He was not surly, of course, Matthew Bradford is the fifth person nor was he particularly silent, but he of that name to own his land, which was not responsive in his usual dehas never belonged to any person who gree. That grave voice which alwas not named Matthew Bradford. In ways charms me with its rich tone his youth this Matthew went to Water- and its tempered diction might almost bury and there built up a considerable be coming, I felt on this occasion, out trade in farm products, but he later of a cave in which its possessor had lost so large a part of his fortune that taken refuge from the driving snow he was obliged to retire to the home of which a few packed drifts still stead which he had hitherto main- remained. Or rather, I perceived in tained rather out of piety than out of a few moments, he was answering me any more profitable instinct. Since from a deep region within himself I have known him I have rarely seen where he had lived with his thoughts him leave his house, though he goes during a season when there was little now and then to church, to the village else in his universe to distract him. three miles away, and, in summer, to Now he could not emerge instantly, a spring in Cornwall Hollow for water but had slowly to unfold his senses which he prefers to that in his own to the sun. The image which his well. Wifeless for a dozen years, and state suggested, I finally understood, his swamp.

was that not of a cave but of a brook, over the ridge of the hills, rolled down bound with ice, yet hardly the less the long slope, turned the row of itself beneath its fetters, bright, clear, maples a darker green as it touched cool. By the end of May, when I them, swept solidly across the swamp returned, the covering ice had melted and meadow, and went by us with and my neighbor, sitting upon his what I almost thought was a swish. porch, greeted me with his customary I half caught my breath. Similar zest.

shadows, I realized, must have been It was on this May afternoon that breaking over us all afternoon as we I first discovered how little and how talked, and I had not noted them. Yet much he saw across his meadow and at a few quiet words from this quiet

man they had become as tangible as a “I suppose,” he said, “you can see

salt wave.

He who saw so little that the new leaves on the willows. I envy

I envy color had almost disappeared from you. That has always seemed to me the landscape for him, as well as the loveliest green of the year, but I all small objects unless they were can't distinguish it any more from the nearly under his hand, saw so much other shades.”

that he had for me added a new specI knew him well enough to know he tacle to nature and had fixed it unforwas not inviting sympathy, and I getably in my consciousness. I found spoke of the willows, not of his eyes. I had suddenly a changed conception And I was no less discreet when, later, of him. During the two summers in he pointed to a noisy robin skirmish- which I had daily seen him sitting on ing in the grass only a few yards his porch looking out across the away.

meadow I had imagined him as wrap“I could n't be sure it was a robin ped almost entirely in his own thoughts if I had n't heard it crying just now.” and memories. Now I knew that he He smiled at his own phrase. “When had been subtly alive to the rapid I was a child my mother said the patterns which the sun painted with robins sounded to her as if they were so powerful though with so coarse a crying, and I have always thought of brush upon the wide canvas of the their song in that way.

valley. He was a connoisseur whom We talked about the varied cries of I had not suspected. birds. Then I noticed that his gaze

"I have been troubled with my eyes was fixed again upon the meadow. this past winter," he told me without

“Do you see that cloud-shadow apologies, “but I think they are betcoming toward us?” he asked. “I can ter lately. Certainly, though, I have guess almost to a second when it will little reason to complain. You probreach the house. The shadows are ably do not know how near I came my chief entertainment. If you watch to losing my sight altogether. A few you will see how they keep the valley years ago I was so much troubled that always changing. Some days they I went to an oculist in Waterbury to are very leisurely. To-day they go have my eyes examined. He frightlike the wind. They are my moving ened me by telling me that I could pictures."

not count on seeing anything for more As I looked, another shadow broke than a few months longer. I shall never forget how desperate I felt. On must be real, for I have seen people my way home I made a kind of com- like most of them here in Cornwall or pact with God. 'God,' I said, 'if you in Waterbury." will keep me from going blind, I will At various times I have offered to never ask for another favor from you. read to him, but he generally prefers I will be content with whatever else to talk. I can read in the winter. may come to me. I can't say that I would rather talk when I have a I stopped with my prayer. I made chance to." The things he says are myself spare my eyes in every way always reflective and never speculapossible. I sat for hours day after tive. Full of serene curiosity as he day with my eyes closed. I did all is, he has been neither a reader nor a I could to hold myself calm and steady. traveler. His actual topics are his It was not always a simple thing to observations in Connecticut and pardo, but I had more success than I ticularly in Cornwall. really expected. As you see, I did One day when I was driving with not go blind. And I have never him to his favorite spring I asked allowed myself to worry about any- him the name of a certain hill in the thing else that has happened since neighborhood. "I don't know," he then, strong as the temptation is when said after a moment. “I ought to I see the farm going to rack and ruin, know, for I was a member of the with no one to do the work as it needs committee which named all our hills to be done. I mean to abide by my a good many years ago. But I have bargain.”

forgotten. Perhaps it does n't matI had never heard Matthew Bradford ter.

ter. They had got along without mention the name of God before, and names so long that the names seem I have never heard him mention it not to stick to them very tight in since, but I know what I need to know their old age-any more than they do about his religion.

to my memory.” That same day, as

we were passing a rough boulder $ 2

which juts out over the Hollow Road, Reading, he told me, had been per- Matthew Bradford smiled. “I can tell mitted him at intervals this spring, you more about that rock than I can and he had gone through the three about the hill. The last wolf ever seen volumes of "Jean-Christophe." I re- in Cornwall, so far as I know, was member the surprise with which I standing on the top of the rock when heard him mention the book. Though my father came by here. Not long he pronounced its title, and the name after that, when I was still a small of its author, in the fashion of one boy, I was hunting the cows and had who was quite ignorant of French, he to crawl under the rock to keep out had heartily enjoyed it.

of a terrible rain. I can remember “That is a world," he said, "about yet how much afraid I was that the which I of course know nothing. But wolf was somewhere around. If he I found it very interesting to follow was, he liked me less than the rain. the young man through all his adven- But, then, I have always found Corntures. The strange thing is, that I wall a safe place to live in. Probfelt at home. The people in the book ably it is safer now than it was when


I was a boy, when it had twice as because she had a poor opinion of that large a population as it has to-day. particular minister. When he told There are some, no doubt, who find her that there had recently been a fire it so safe that it is tiresome."

in the church, she said, 'I cal'late it Thus, without discoursing formally did n't start in the pulpit.' He enupon the town's past, he manages to joyed the joke and told me about it." open up vistas into it, and to bind With the same delight in the comedy past and present together with vivid of existence this kindly spectator has links. It is the same when he speaks hit off for me most of our contempoof the men and women who have raries in Cornwall. He is disillusioned lived here. "Most of the stone walls without being bitter. I have never in Cornwall," he told me, "were built caught the note of scorn in his disby an Indian who was very expert in

It is possibly for the reason that art. He spent his life building that I am farm-bred that he admits them, and covered the whole town me to considerable intimacy with him, with his monuments.” I am not sure but he shows no signs of thinking whether my neighbor feels how iron- often, as some of the farmers do, about ical it is that an Indian should have the distinction between them and the marked the boundaries of the new- summer residents. All such minor comers who had dispossessed his race, differences have long ceased to weigh but I hesitate to doubt it; I know with him, if they ever did. Of a certain that the irony of the fact was com- pompous neighbor of ours Matthew municated to me. Again Matthew Bradford once told me that the man Bradford said: “The Warwick men reminded him of "a statue of Daniel who used to own your house were all Webster rolling itself around on caslarge, strong men with thick beards who tors.” But this is nearer to wit than liked the heaviest work best. It was he frequently comes. Of another, said of them that if they had enough who is extraordinarily dull and inarhard cider, they would undertake to ticulate, I heard my old friend say, move mountains; but they never had "His wife may find his conversation enough, so the mountains stayed interesting, but I find his silence the where they were." I remembered the most interesting thing about him." enormous timbers in my barns and For the most part, however, these the flag-stones in my walks, and had comments upon the neighbors are a sense of dim giants tugging at them. simple narratives, of their births, mar

Matthew Bradford's observations, riages, children, goings and comings, however, are not all in the heroic key accomplishments and qualities. “The You should have known old Mrs. man who works for me is a Doty. In Warwick, the mother of the last War- Cornwall we say ‘once a Doty, always wick who lived in your house. She a Doty. The first members of the was not very devout and she had a family came here with the original sharp tongue. Once the minister went settlers nearly two hundred years ago; to call on her, as he called on every came as hired men. They have been one in his parish. She liked the news hired men ever since. Now and then of the congregation when she could one of them shows promise or marries get it, but she never went to church, an unusually ambitious woman, and

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