Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

tion of the food, but neither over pro- with whom the possession of a servant curing it in the first place, nor over an still savors somewhat of social disunnatural economy in its consumption tinction, that people as desperately in the second. Food is the most valu- pressed as these provincials of presentable commodity in a bankrupt situa- day Germany should still employ tion. She also receives clothes. In servants at all. But, as I have indicertain communities where every peas- cated, their wages are trivial. Labor ant girl, no matter how wealthy her is still the cheapest thing in Germany, parents, is compelled by tradition to almost criminally cheap, and where a go into service for two years prior to trained nurse can be engaged for five her marriage, the materials of her cents a day, it may be expected that trousseau-peasant trousseau is ex- a servant-girl can be hired for a few tremely elaborate as well as the ma- paltry trillions of marks per month. terials for her bright working and Furthermore, their food consumption dress costumes, bedding, linens, and is alarming more in bulk than in value, sundries must be furnished, also by an consisting principally of potatoes, unwritten tradition as iron as law, by while the economic gain of their labor, the mistress. Salary in these com- upon which a good part of the family's munities plays absolutely no rôle in food itself depends, fits so snugly in the matter, and in some regions has the housewife's program, frees her of hardly risen above pre-war figures. so much dull labor which would comBut the value of these materials has pletely rout her remaining energy, gone up to such an extent that in these that the servant remains almost the districts middle-class women must do most important and vital element in without servants. However, in towns

However, in towns the household's efficiency. like Büdingen, where servants are still One day last May I walked up the plentifully retained, there are specific Monks' Woods hill. One progresses laws, already mentioned, insuring their along zigzag inclines, for the hill is proper medical attention in case of ill- steep up all its thousand feet of height. ness, against peremptory discharge, Half-way to the top I paused for and legal protection and redress if need breath, and looked down on the little be. Their pay is being continually in town, placed in position like neatly creased, schools are being opened pro

ordered models of Christmas toy viding for their further education,- houses. Sleepily, anciently beautiful they enter service at sixteen,—they lay the old town in the sunlight, its have won the latch-key, Sunday after- crumply colored town walls, gates, and noons off, and now and then a holiday castle soft in the eternal revivification furlough. Best of all, they have an of spring. I set my face to the stern intimate personal standing in the fam- slant of the path again, and as I turned ily, a warm, human share in its tribu- a corner where the incline broke lations and joys, which makes of them sharply up a new direction I saw an personalities, human identities, en- old woman ahead of me. tirely different from the typical Eng- The picture of that old woman will lish slavey or the usual American remain with me as the symbol of housemaid.

quality, an endurance, a tradition, am It will seem strange to many of us, instinct of race preservation, of a

grim tough grit finer than battle hero- wee town in its rose-colored wall rested ism, yet pathetically less recognized on that old woman's shoulders. Beand, I sometimes think, just as futile. yond it, across that blue-hazed rolling The symbol of all provincial dogged- plain and behind those distant, faint ness and humorlessness, and yet I had hills, on one of which the old castle of seen her kind dozens of times; others the Ronneburg proudly reared the like her were undoubtedly toiling up arrogant shell of its ruin, lay Frankdifferent trails of the hill at that mo- fort, a great city. And the city of ment. It was only that something in Frankfort rested on that old woman's the juxtaposition of that soft, colorful shoulders. And over there, behind view of the town below and the picture the dark pine-crowned ridge of the of her a moment later created a pass- Tiergarten and the Hunter's Valley, ing responsiveness to impression that and far beyond, lay Berlin. And the sticks.

great city of Berlin lay on that old She had across her shoulders and woman's shoulders. And all the back a heavy yoke, from the ends of proud cities of Germany–Munich and which were suspended two big iron Leipsic, Hamburg and Bremen-all of buckets on chains about which her them lay on that old woman's shoulders. arms twined. The buckets were about For she was the provincial, tough, three times the size of our ordinary enduring. Unable to cry quits, unscrub-buckets. They were filled al- able to stop her sons rushing after most to the brim with the dark, green- drums, unable to stop her tears when ish fertilizing liquid from a stable in they failed to follow the drums back, the town. Up to her little field she unable, until her legs utterly failed was lugging that dead weight, care- her, to stop toiling up the thousand fully would she sprinkle it over the feet of stiff hillside with two buckets thirsty ground, and to-morrow trudge of waste to fertilize a thirsty field the up with two other buckets.

better to make the restive sons of her The foundations of the beautiful dead sons grow.

The Shrine of Gilbert White

BY CHARLES S. BROOKS

A

s every one knows, the only that lived in a muddy pool inside his reason for coming to Selborne is garden, and contrasts the marking of

Gilbert White. It is one of those sheep in the valleys near his own. It English towns that are forever dedi- is all so casual, so seemingly lacking in cated to a single memory. I suppose conscious art—a mere record day by that nearly every one has read White's day and month by month of a keen"Natural History and Antiquities of eyed gentleman roaming the fields and Selborne" or has intended to read it. hills and writing of what he sees. It is one of those good intentions of Every school-boy knows,-Macauwhich the devil makes his cobblestones, lay's school-boy, at least, who must and is undeniably a book without which have been a precious Rollo—every one no gentleman's library is complete. I knows that White's "Selborne" is comconfess that a few of its chapters are prised of letters. And really it was full of charm, but I fear, on the whole, lucky that no one of his village shared that it has bored me. Several times I his avocation, or his observations have run ashoal in its famous pages, would have spent themselves in unand a dozen markers here and there recorded talk with his neighbors at the indicate, as on a beach, the extreme hearth; for one single crony in the tide of my exhausted interest. But it twilight would have drained this flow is at least the prince of bedtime books of letters. It was lucky, too, that -a capsule to be taken without shak- Gilbert White lived in the age of lettering among the cushions, a sleepy pellet writing, when roads were slow and when one is tucked inside the covers long, and friends met chiefly in corfor the night.

respondence; when a triennial acAnd yet I find it interesting to be in quaintance face to face had to be Selborne. I like to think of this vil- patched and mended by letters against lage curate who lived hereabout nearly the wearing of the years. all his life, who spent his leisure in A letter was then nothing to be rambling on the neighboring hills, who scribbled at. It engaged one's eveobserved the nesting birds, the rising nings for a week, and was not written crops, the foliage changing with the in the rush of business between the season. With what care he notes the ringing of the telephone. One took precise arrival of the swallow, the his pen in hand and let the hours tick fashion in which the martin builds through endless pages. Sir Walter against the wall! Now he throws in a Scott once lamented to Joanna Baillie, paragraph on the habits of a tortoise the dramatist, that persons of kindred taste did not grow up like beeches in a about all we know of him. An early grove, but that they sprouted far biographer went to Selborne not long apart. And so, luckily, the letters of after White's death to pick up a fact Cowper were written, of Byron, and of or two, but he met with scant success. a hundred others in those spacious One villager, it is said, informed him horse-drawn days.

that "he was thought very little of till I fancy that ink-wells then were he was dead and gone, and then he was mighty cisterns that held the full thought a great deal of." This, algallon of a winter's correspondence, though an excellent text for the honor and that roosters who grew the chosen that is paid to prophets, throws little quill crowed with a prouder note than light upon his life or the manner of their fallen kin to-day, whose utmost his friendships. Another neighbor reboast is feather dusters and storage marked that "he was a quiet old gentleeggs. A waggish fellow has counted man with very old-fashioned sayings; the pages of Pamela's letters, and by he was very kind in giving presents to laying their total into hours at a swift- the poor, and used to keep a tortoise est rate of pen, has discovered that the which crawled about his garden." dear creature must have sat at her desk Shakspere moved not more darkly in each day from breakfast up to mid- the mist. Gilbert White and this night, lunch and dinner on a tray! A will have to serve exposed in his spoon in the left hand! A quill in the letters to fellow-naturalists the whole right! And that she sadly neglected sequence of his studies; and when at her dusting, which was, after all, the the end the letters were set together work for which she was paid. Our and formed a book, it was he who was own good second maid, although she most amazed at the fame that came to wastes time on her complexion and him. talks endlessly with her rival lovers on It is a slim volume of almost careless the telephone, does nevertheless find pages, and yet its author's fame is still time to sweep a bit.

fresh in memory. Such an unnecesBut a letter was a letter in those sary deal of scribbling we writers do golden days, and it held a mighty seal. when so slight a product persists so And the carrier put it in his boot long! We perspire through a million among the pistols and jounced for a words and run our tired volumes into week to London. And he who re- sets, and the children's children of our ceived it got the neighbors in, and they generation elect at most to remember broached a cask of ale and made a but a single book. We are the lucky night of it. But Pamela's mighty well dozen of our time if one book alone is dry at last, her pen is rusty with stands for a while above the general neglect; for now she throws her broken clutter of its ten thousand failures. dishes into the sink and rattles to the Once every third blue moon a giant movies in the flivver of her wicked arises and fills his shelf with almost master.

equal masterpieces --for who shall Gilbert White, having no crony for choose with general consent among the his passion and held by his fellow- works of Shakspere or Thackeray or townsmen as an odd stick of a genius, Dickens?—but most writers, and exlaid out his heart in letters; and that is cellent writers too, must be content if a single volume is reprinted for the the series and is dated August 4, 1767. second generation of young Lollypops The series appeared as a volume in grown up. What besides “Cranford" 1789. He died in 1793, having outdid Mrs. Gaskell write? Who reads lived by three years his allotted three Gray except in the "Elegy"? John score and ten. Galt, I am told, labored until his long None of the ruffle of the world is shelf was full, but the “Annals of the marked upon the quiet pages of his Parish” only is left. Of the mass of book. And it is pleasant to think of a Coleridge no more than three or four man cloistered in contemplation from poems are read by suffering students. the hurly-burly of his century, as if the Keats and Shelley even have shrunk Hampshire Hills were pads upon his to a dozen pages, and time nibbles at ears. He was born in the year of the Browning's thriftless margin. One South Sea Bubble. He lived during wonders if a cynical god never whis- England's conquest of two great empered to all these that their exalted pires, India and Canada. He might work was done, that now they might have read the speeches of Pitt and give up the long fret of composition Burke, thundering a warning to Parliaand run happy in the sunlight. The ment lest the American colonies be lost. “Ancient Mariner" is finished, master Some faint echo of the guns of Lexingpoet. Lay down your pen! The ton must have sounded on his peaceful “Grecian Urn” stands on its perfect woodland. France! The rising of the page, and nothing you can do will third estate, the Bastille, the Revolustretch your memory a day. And yet tion! Did not the tumbrils of the they dip and scribble till their pens guillotine rumble into Selborne on drop from their exhausted fingers, and some quiet night when the singing stars the long darkness falls upon their eyes. .

were hushed in clouds? As a child he

might have seen Pope and Swift, and 2

carried a cup at Buttons. In his full Gilbert White was born in Selborne maturity he might have sat at the in the year 1720, in a house on the Mitre with Sam Johnson, in old age main street that still stands, although have known Robert Burns and Walter altered, and is called the Wakes. Scott. Yet his narrative never outWake means a parish festival to com- runs the quiet parish lying obscurely in memorate the dedication of a church, the hills between Winchester and the but it is used also for a fair or market Portsmouth road. It is as if a single and even for a rowdy holiday. White poem of fragile loveliness-a poem that was educated in the near-by town of might tire one a bit for its contentment Basingstoke and later at Oriel College, and isolation-had been composed in Oxford, where in 1744 he was elected a Paris attic when the sky burned red. to a fellowship. He then held succes- Having now consumed our bread sive curacies in the neighborhood of and cheese at the Queen's Arms, we Selborne. In 1755 he settled in Sel- walked forth to see the town. It is an borne itself, inherited the Wakes in ordinary village, with no pretension of 1763, and lived there for the remainder fine houses. At the top of almost its of his life. The first letter of his "Nat- single street there is an open square ural History” is probably the tenth of with a generous tree. This square is

« AnkstesnisTęsti »