"The Hermitage" at Nashville, which is still a very attractive spot for visitors, was built solely to please Mrs. Jackson, and there she dispensed gracious hospitality. Not merely a guest or two, but whole families, came for weeks at a time, for the mistress of the mansion was fond of entertaining, and proved herself a charming hostess. She had a good memory, had passed through many and greatly varied experiences, and above all she had that rare faculty which is called tact.
Though her husband's love for her was evident to every one, yet, in the presence of others, he always maintained a dignified reserve. He never spoke of her as "Rachel," nor addressed her as "My Dear." It was always "Mrs. Jackson," or "wife." She always called him "Mr. Jackson," never "Andrew" nor "General."
Both of them greatly desired children, but this blessing was denied them; so they adopted a boy, the child of Mrs. Jackson's brother, naming him "Andrew Jackson," and bringing him up as their own child.
The lady's portrait shows her to have been wonderfully attractive. It does not reveal the dusky Oriental tint of her skin, the ripe red of her lips, nor the changing lights in her face, but it shows the high forehead, the dark soft hair, the fine eyes, and the tempting mouth which was smiling, yet serene. A lace head-dress is worn over the waving hair, and the filmy folds fall softly over neck and bosom.
When Jackson was elected to the Presidency, the ladies of Nashville organized themselves into sewing circles to prepare Mrs. Jackson's wardrobe. It was a labour of love. On December 23, 1828, there was to be a grand banquet in Jackson's honour, and the devoted women of their home city had made a beautiful gown for his wife to wear at the dinner. At sunrise the preparations began. The tables were set, the dining-room decorated, and the officers and men of the troop that was to escort the President-elect were preparing to go to the home and attend him on the long ride into the city. Their horses were saddled and in readiness at the place of meeting. As the bugle sounded the summons to mount, a breathless messenger appeared on a horse flecked with foam. Mrs. Jackson had died of heart disease the evening before.
The festival was changed to a funeral, and the trumpets and drums that were to have sounded salute were muffled in black. All decorations were taken down, and the church bells tolled mournfully. The grief of the people was beyond speech. Each one felt a personal loss.
At the home the blow was terrible. The lover-husband would not leave his wife. In those bitter hours the highest gift of his countrymen was an empty triumph, for his soul was wrecked with the greatness of his loss.
When she was buried at the foot of a slope in the garden of "The Hermitage," his bereavement came home to him with crushing strength. Back of the open grave stood a great throng of people, waiting in the wintry wind. The sun shone brightly on the snow, but "The Hermitage" was desolate, for its light and laughter and love were gone. The casket was carried down the slope, and a long way behind it came the General, slowly and almost helpless, between two of his friends.
The people of Nashville had made ready to greet him with the blare of bugles, waving flags, the clash of cymbals, and resounding cheers. It was for the President-elect—the hero of the war. The throng that stood behind the open grave greeted him with sobs and tears—not the President-elect, but the man bowed by his sixty years, bareheaded, with his gray hair rumpled in the wind, staggering toward them in the throes of his bitterest grief.
In that one night he had grown old. He looked like a man stricken beyond all hope. When his old friends gathered around him with the tears streaming down their cheeks, wringing his hand in silent sympathy, he could make no response.
He was never the same again, though his strength of will and his desperate courage fought with this infinite pain. For the rest of his life he lived as she would have had him live—guided his actions by the thought of what his wife, if living, would have had him do—loving her still, with the love that passeth all understanding.
He declined the sarcophagus fit for an emperor, that he might be buried like a simple citizen, in the garden by her side.
His last words were of her—his last look rested upon her portrait that hung opposite his bed, and if there be dreaming in the dark, the vision of her brought him peace at last.
The Bachelor President's Loyalty to a Memory
The fifteenth President was remarkable among the men of his time for his lifelong fidelity to one woman, for since the days of knight-errantry such devotion has been as rare as it is beautiful. The young lawyer came of Scotch-Irish parentage, and to this blending of blood were probably in part due his deep love and steadfastness. There was rather more of the Irish than of the Scotch in his face, and when we read that his overflowing spirits were too much for the college in which he had been placed, and that, for "reasons of public policy," the honours which he had earned were on commencement day given to another, it is evident that he may sometimes have felt that he owed allegiance primarily to the Emerald Isle.
Like others, who have been capable of deep and lasting passion, James Buchanan loved his mother. Among his papers there was found a fragment of an autobiography, which ended in 1816, when the writer was only twenty-five years of age. He says his father was "a kind father, a sincere friend, and an honest and religious man," but on the subject of his mother he waxes eloquent:
"Considering her limited opportunities in early life [he writes], my mother was a remarkable woman. The daughter of a country farmer, engaged in household employment from early life until after my father's death, she yet found time to read much, and to reflect deeply on what she read.
"She had a great fondness for poetry, and could repeat with ease all the passages in her favorite authors which struck her fancy. These were Milton, Pope, Young, Cowper, and Thompson.
"I do not think, at least until a late period in life, she had ever read a criticism on any one of these authors, and yet such was the correctness of her natural taste, that she had selected for herself, and could repeat, every passage in them which has been admired....
"For her sons, as they grew up successively, she was a delightful and instructive companion.... She was a woman of great firmness of character, and bore the afflictions of her later life with Christian philosophy.... It was chiefly to her influence, that her sons were indebted for a liberal education. Under Providence I attribute any little distinction which I may have acquired in the world to the blessing which He conferred upon me in granting me such a mother."
If Elizabeth Buchanan could have read these words, doubtless she would have felt fully repaid for her many years of toil, self-sacrifice, and devotion.
After the young man left the legislature and took up the practice of law, with the intention of spending his life at the bar, he became engaged to Anne Coleman, the daughter of Robert Coleman, of Lancaster.
She is said to have been an unusually beautiful girl, quiet, gentle, modest, womanly, and extremely sensitive. The fine feelings of a delicately organized nature may easily become either a blessing or a curse, and on account of her sensitiveness there was a rupture for which neither can be very greatly blamed.
Mr. Coleman approved of the engagement, and the happy lover worked hard to make a home for the idol of his heart. One day, out of the blue sky a thunderbolt fell. He received a note from Miss Coleman asking him to release her from her engagement.
There was no explanation forthcoming, and it was not until long afterward that he discovered that busy-bodies and gossips had gone to Miss Coleman with stories concerning him which had no foundation save in their mischief-making imaginations, and which she would not repeat to him. After all his efforts at re-establishing the old relations had proved useless, he wrote to her that if it were her wish to be released from her engagement he could but submit, as he had no desire to hold her against her will.
The break came in the latter part of the summer of 1819, when he was twenty-eight years old and she was in her twenty-third year. He threw himself into his work with renewed energy, and later on she went to visit friends in Philadelphia.
Though she was too proud to admit it, there was evidence that the beautiful and high-spirited girl was suffering from heartache. On the ninth of December, she died suddenly, and her body was brought home just a week after she left Lancaster. The funeral took place the next day, Sunday, and to the suffering father of the girl, the heart-broken lover wrote a letter which in simple pathos stands almost alone. It is the only document on this subject which remains, but in these few lines is hidden a tragedy:
"LANCASTER, December 10, 1819.
"MY DEAR SIR:
"You have lost a child, a dear, dear child. I have lost the only earthly object of my affections, without whom, life now presents to me a dreary blank. My prospects are all cut off, and I feel that my happiness will be buried with her in her grave.
"It is now no time for explanation, but the time will come when you will discover that she, as well as I, has been greatly abused. God forgive the authors of it! My feelings of resentment against them, whoever they may be, are buried in the dust.
"I have now one request to make, and for the love of God, and of your dear departed daughter, whom I loved infinitely more than any human being could love, deny me not. Afford me the melancholy pleasure of seeing her body before its interment. I would not, for the world, be denied this request.
"I might make another, but from the misrepresentations that have been made to you, I am almost afraid. I would like to follow her remains, to the grave as a mourner. I would like to convince the world, I hope yet to convince you, that she was infinitely dearer to me than life.
"I may sustain the shock of her death, but I feel that happiness has fled from me forever. The prayer which I make to God without ceasing is, that I yet may be able to show my veneration for the memory of my dear, departed saint, by my respect and attachment for her surviving friends.
"May Heaven bless you and enable you to bear the shock with the fortitude of a Christian.
"I am forever, your sincere and grateful friend,
The father returned the letter unopened and without comment. Death had only widened the breach. It would have been gratifying to know that the two lovers were together for a moment at the end.
For such a meeting as that there are no words but Edwin Arnold's:
"But he—who loved her too well to dread The sweet, the stately, the beautiful dead— He lit his lamp, and took the key, And turn'd it!—alone again—he and she!"
For him there was not even a glimpse of her as she lay in her coffin, nor a whisper that some day, like Evelyn Hope, she might "wake, and remember and understand." With that love that asks only for the right to serve, and feeling perhaps that no pen could do her justice, he obtained permission to write a paragraph for a local paper, which was published unsigned:
"Departed this life, on Thursday morning last, in the twenty-third year of her age, while on a visit to friends in the city of Philadelphia, Miss Anne C. Coleman, daughter of Robert Coleman, Esquire of this city.
"It rarely falls to our lot to shed a tear over the remains of one so much and so deservedly beloved as was the deceased. She was everything which the fondest parent, or the fondest friend could have wished her to be.
"Although she was young and beautiful and accomplished, and the smiles of fortune shone upon her, yet her native modesty and worth made her unconscious of her own attractions. Her heart was the seat of all the softer virtues which ennoble and dignify the character of woman.
"She has now gone to a world, where, in the bosom of her God, she will be happy with congenial spirits. May the memory of her virtues be ever green in the hearts of her surviving friends. May her mild spirit, which on earth still breathes peace and good will, be their guardian angel to preserve them from the faults to which she was ever a stranger.
"The spider's most attenuated thread Is cord, is cable, to man's tender tie On earthly bliss—it breaks at every breeze."
How deeply he felt her death is shown by extracts from a letter written to him by a friend in the latter part of December:
"I am writing, I know not why, and perhaps had better not. I write only to speak of the awful visitation of Providence that has fallen upon you, and how deeply I feel it.... I trust to your philosophy and courage, and to the elasticity of spirits natural to most young men....
"The sun will shine again, though a man enveloped in gloom always thinks the darkness is to be eternal. Do you remember the Spanish anecdote?
"A lady who had lost a favorite child remained for months sunk in sullen sorrow and despair. Her confessor, one morning visited her, and found her, as usual immersed in gloom and grief. 'What,' said he, 'Have you not forgiven God Almighty?'
"She rose, exerted herself, joined the world again, and became useful to herself and her friends."
Time's kindly touch heals many wounds, but the years seemed to bring to James Buchanan no surcease of sorrow. He was always under the cloud of that misunderstanding, and during his long political career, the incident frequently served as a butt for the calumnies of his enemies. It was freely used in "campaign documents," perverted, misrepresented, and twisted into every conceivable shape, though it is difficult to conceive how any form of humanity could ever be so base.
Next to the loss of the girl he loved, this was the greatest grief of his life. To see the name of his "dear, departed saint" dragged into newspaper notoriety was absolute torture. Denial was useless, and pleading had no effect. After he had retired to his home at Wheatland, and when he was past seventy—when Anne Coleman's beautiful body had gone back to the dust, there was a long article in a newspaper about the affair, accompanied by the usual misrepresentations.
To a friend, he said, with deep emotion: "In my safety-deposit box in New York there is a sealed package, containing papers and relics which will explain everything. Sometime, when I am dead, the world will know—and absolve."
But after his death, when his executors found the package, there was a direction on the outside: "To be burned unopened at my death."
He chose silence rather than vindication at the risk of having Anne Coleman's name again brought into publicity. In that little parcel there was doubtless full exoneration, but at the end, as always, he nobly bore the blame.
It happened that the letter he had written to her father was not in this package, but among his papers at Wheatland—otherwise that pathetic request would also have been burned.
Through all his life he remained true to Anne's memory. Under the continual public attacks his grief became one that even his friends forebore to speak of, and he had a chivalrous regard for all women, because of his love for one. His social instincts were strong, his nature affectionate and steadfast, yet it was owing to his disappointment that he became President. At one time, when he was in London, he said to an intimate friend: "I never intended to engage in politics, but meant to follow my profession strictly. But my prospects and plans were all changed by a most sad event, which happened at Lancaster when I was a young man. As a distraction from my grief, and because I saw that through a political following I could secure the friends I then needed, I accepted a nomination."
A beautiful side of his character is shown in his devotion to his niece, Harriet Lane. He was to her always a faithful father. When she was away at school or otherwise separated from him, he wrote to her regularly, never failing to assure her of his affection, and received her love and confidence in return. In 1865, when she wrote to him of her engagement, he replied, in part, as follows:
"I believe you say truly that nothing would have induced you to leave me, in good or evil fortune, if I had wished you to remain with me.
"Such a wish on my part would be very selfish. You have long known my desire that you should marry whenever a suitor worthy of you should offer. Indeed, it has been my strong desire to see you settled in the world before my death. You have now made your own unbiased choice; and from the character of Mr. Johnston, I anticipate for you a happy marriage, because I believe from your own good sense, you will conform to your conductor, and make him a good and loving wife."
The days passed in retirement at Wheatland were filled with quiet content. The end came as peacefully as the night itself. He awoke from a gentle sleep, murmured, "O Lord, God Almighty, as Thou wilt!" and passed serenely into that other sleep, which knows not dreams.
The impenetrable veil between us and eternity permits no lifting of its folds; there is no parting of its greyness, save for a passage, but perhaps, in "that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns" Anne Coleman and her lover have met once more, and the long life of faithfulness at last has won her pardon.
The trees bow their heads in sorrow, While their giant branches wave, With the requiems of the forest, To the dead in a soldier's grave.
The pitying rain falls softly, In grief for a nation's brave, Who died 'neath the scourge of treason And rest in a lonely grave.
So, under the willow and cypress We lay our dead away, And cover their graves with blossoms, But the debt we never can pay.
All nature is bathed in tears, On our sad Memorial day, When we crown the valour of heroes With flowers from the garments of May.
The Romance of the Life of Lincoln
By the slow passing of years humanity attains what is called the "historical perspective," but it is still a mooted question as to how many years are necessary.
We think of Lincoln as a great leader, and it is difficult to imagine him as a lover. He was at the helm of "the Ship of State" in the most fearful storm it ever passed through; he struck off the shackles of a fettered people, and was crowned with martyrdom; yet in spite of his greatness, he loved like other men.
There is no record for Lincoln's earlier years of the boyish love which comes to many men in their school days. The great passion of his life came to him in manhood but with no whit of its sweetness gone. Sweet Anne Rutledge! There are those who remember her well, and to this day in speaking of her, their eyes fill with tears. A lady who knew her says: "Miss Rutledge had auburn hair, blue eyes, and a fair complexion. She was pretty, rather slender, and good-hearted, beloved by all who knew her."
Before Lincoln loved her, she had a sad experience with another man. About the time that he came to New Salem, a young man named John McNeil drifted in from one of the Eastern States. He worked hard, was plucky and industrious, and soon accumulated a little property. He met Anne Rutledge when she was but seventeen and still in school, and he began to pay her especial attention which at last culminated in their engagement.
He was about going back to New York for a visit and leaving he told Anne that his name was not McNeil, but McNamar—that he had changed his name so that his dependent family might not follow him and settle down upon him before he was able to support them. Now that he was in a position to aid his parents, brothers, and sisters, he was going back to do it and upon his return would make Anne his wife.
For a long time she did not hear from him at all, and gossip was rife in New Salem. His letters became more formal and less frequent and finally ceased altogether. The girl's proud spirit compelled her to hold her head high amid the impertinent questions of the neighbors.
Lincoln had heard of the strange conduct of McNeil and concluding that there was now no tie between Miss Rutledge and her quondam lover, he began his own siege in earnest. Anne consented at last to marry him provided he gave her time to write to McNamar and obtain a release from the pledge which she felt was still binding upon her.
She wrote, but there was no answer and at last she definitely accepted Lincoln.
It was necessary for him to complete his law studies, and after that, he said, "Nothing on God's footstool shall keep us apart."
He worked happily but a sore conflict seemed to be raging in Anne's tender heart and conscience, and finally the strain told upon her to such an extent that when she was attacked by a fever, she had little strength to resist it.
The summer waned and Anne's life ebbed with it. At the very end of her illness, when all visitors were forbidden, she insisted upon seeing Lincoln. He went to her—and closed the door between them and the world. It was his last hour with her. When he came out, his face was white with the agony of parting.
A few days later, she died and Lincoln was almost insane with grief. He walked for hours in the woods, refused to eat, would speak to no one, and there settled upon him that profound melancholy which came back, time and again, during the after years. To one friend he said: "I cannot bear to think that the rain and storms will beat upon her grave."
When the days were dark and stormy he was constantly watched, as his friends feared he would take his own life. Finally, he was persuaded to go away to the house of a friend who lived at some distance, and here he remained until he was ready to face the world again.
A few weeks after Anne's burial, McNamar returned to New Salem. On his arrival he met Lincoln at the post-office and both were sorely distressed. He made no explanation of his absence, and shortly seemed to forget about Miss Rutledge, but her grave was in Lincoln's heart until the bullet of the assassin struck him down.
In October of 1833, Lincoln met Miss Mary Owens, and admired her though not extravagantly. From all accounts, she was an unusual woman. She was tall, full in figure, with blue eyes and dark hair; she was well educated and quite popular in the little community. She was away for a time, but returned to New Salem in 1836, and Lincoln at once began to call upon her, enjoying her wit and beauty. At that time she was about twenty-eight years old.
One day Miss Owens was out walking with a lady friend and when they came to the foot of a steep hill, Lincoln joined them. He walked behind with Miss Owens, and talked with her, quite oblivious to the fact that her friend was carrying a heavy baby. When they reached the summit, Miss Owens said laughingly: "You would not make a good husband, Abe."
They sat on the fence and a wordy discussion followed. Both were angry when they parted, and the breach was not healed for some time. It was poor policy to quarrel, since some time before he had proposed to Miss Owens, and she had asked for time in which to consider it before giving a final answer. His letters to her are not what one would call "love-letters." One begins in this way:
"MARY:—I have been sick ever since my arrival, or I should have written sooner. It is but little difference, however, as I have very little even yet to write. And more, the longer I can avoid the mortification of looking in the post-office for your letter, and not finding it, the better. You see I am mad about that old letter yet. I don't like very well to risk you again. I'll try you once more, anyhow."
The remainder of the letter deals with political matters and is signed simply "Your Friend Lincoln."
In another letter written the following year he says to her:
"I am often thinking about what we said of your coming to live at Springfield. I am afraid you would not be satisfied. There is a great deal of flourishing about in carriages here, which it would be your doom to see without sharing it. You would have to be poor without the means of hiding your poverty. Do you believe you could bear that patiently?
"Whatever woman may cast her lot with mine, should any ever do so, it is my intention to do all in my power to make her happy and contented; and there is nothing I can imagine that would make me more unhappy than to fail in the effort.
"I know I should be much happier with you than the way I am, provided I saw no signs of discontent in you. What you have said to me may have been in the way of jest, or I may have misunderstood it.
"If so, then let it be forgotten; if otherwise I much wish you would think seriously before you decide. For my part, I have already decided.
"What I have said I will most positively abide by, provided you wish it. My opinion is that you would better not do it. You have not been accustomed to hardship, and it may be more severe than you now imagine.
"I know you are capable of thinking correctly upon any subject and if you deliberate maturely upon this before you decide, then I am willing to abide by your decision."
Matters went on in this way for about three months; then they met again, seemingly without making any progress. On the day they parted, Lincoln wrote her another letter, evidently to make his own position clear and put the burden of decision upon her.
"If you feel yourself in any degree bound to me [he said], I am now willing to release you, provided you wish it; while, on the other hand, I am willing and even anxious, to bind you faster, if I can be convinced that it will in any considerable degree add to your happiness. This, indeed, is the whole question with me. Nothing would make me more miserable than to believe you miserable—nothing more happy than to know you were so."
In spite of his evident sincerity, it is not surprising to learn that a little later, Miss Owens definitely refused him. In April, of the following year, Lincoln wrote to his friend, Mrs. L. H. Browning, giving a full account of this grotesque courtship:
"I finally was forced to give it up [he wrote] at which I very unexpectedly found myself mortified almost beyond endurance.
"I was mortified it seemed to me in a hundred different ways. My vanity was deeply wounded by the reflection that I had so long been too stupid to discover her intentions, and at the same time never doubting that I understood them perfectly; and also, that she, whom I had taught myself to believe nobody else would have, had actually rejected me, with all my fancied greatness.
"And then to cap the whole, I then, for the first time, began to suspect that I was really a little in love with her. But let it all go. I'll try and outlive it. Others have been made fools of by the girls; but this can never with truth be said of me. I most emphatically in this instance made a fool of myself. I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying, and for this reason I can never be satisfied with any one who would be blockhead enough to have me!"
The gist of the matter seems to be that at heart Lincoln hesitated at matrimony, as other men have done, both before and since his time. In his letter to Mrs. Browning he speaks of his efforts to "put off the evil day for a time, which I really dreaded as much, perhaps more, than an Irishman does the halter!"
But in 1839 Miss Mary Todd came to live with her sister, Mrs. Ninian Edwards, at Springfield. She was in her twenty-first year, and is described as "of average height and compactly built." She had a well-rounded face, rich dark brown hair, and bluish grey eyes. No picture of her fails to show the full, well-developed chin, which, more than any other feature is an evidence of determination. She was strong, proud, passionate, gifted with a keen sense of the ridiculous, well educated, and swayed only by her own imperious will.
Lincoln was attracted at once, and strangely enough, Stephen A. Douglas crossed his wooing. For a time the two men were rivals, the pursuit waxing more furious day by day. Some one asked Miss Todd which of them she intended to marry, and she answered laughingly: "The one who has the best chance of becoming President!"
She is said, however, to have refused the "Little Giant" on account of his lax morality and after that the coast was clear for Lincoln. Miss Todd's sister tells us that "he was charmed by Mary's wit and fascinated by her quick sagacity, her will, her nature, and culture." "I have happened in the room," she says, "where they were sitting, often and often, and Mary led the conversation. Lincoln would listen, and gaze on her as if drawn by some superior power—irresistibly so; he listened, but scarcely ever said a word."
The affair naturally culminated in an engagement, and the course of love was running smoothly, when a distracting element appeared in the shape of Miss Matilda Edwards, the sister of Mrs. Edwards's husband. She was young and fair, and Lincoln was pleased with her appearance. For a time he tried to go on as before, but his feelings were too strong to be concealed. Mr. Edwards endeavoured to get his sister to marry Lincoln's friend, Speed, but she refused both Speed and Douglas.
It is said that Lincoln once went to Miss Todd's house, intending to break the engagement, but his real love proved too strong to allow him to do it.
His friend, Speed, thus describes the conclusion of this episode. "Well, old fellow," I said, "did you do as you intended?"
"Yes, I did," responded Lincoln thoughtfully, "and when I told Mary I did not love her, she, wringing her hands, said something about the deceiver being himself deceived."
"What else did you say?"
"To tell you the truth, Speed, it was too much for me. I found the tears trickling down my own cheeks. I caught her in my arms and kissed her."
"And that's how you broke the engagement. Your conduct was tantamount to a renewal of it!"
And indeed this was true, and the lovers again considered the time of marriage.
There is a story by Herndon to the effect that a wedding was arranged for the first day of January, 1841, and then when the hour came Lincoln did not appear, and was found wandering alone in the woods plunged in the deepest melancholy—a melancholy bordering upon insanity.
This story, however, has no foundation; in fact, most competent witnesses agree that no such marriage date was fixed, although some date may have been considered.
It is certain, however, that the relations between Lincoln and Miss Todd were broken off for a time. He did go to Kentucky for a while, but this trip certainly was not due to insanity. Lincoln was never so mindless as some of his biographers would have us believe, and the breaking of the engagement was due to perfectly natural causes—the difference in temperament of the lovers, and Lincoln's inclination to procrastinate. After a time the strained relations gradually improved. They met occasionally in the parlor of a friend, Mrs. Francis, and it was through Miss Todd that the duel with Shields came about.
She wielded a ready and a sarcastic pen, and safely hidden behind a pseudonym and the promise of the editor, she wrote a series of satirical articles for the local paper, entitled: "Letters from Lost Townships." In one of these she touched up Mr. Shields, the Auditor of State, to such good purpose that believing that Lincoln had written the article, he challenged him to a duel. Lincoln accepted the challenge and chose "cavalry broadswords" as the weapons, but the intervention of friends prevented any fighting, although he always spoke of the affair as his "duel."
As a result of this altercation with Shields, Miss Todd and the future President came again into close friendship, and a marriage was decided upon.
The license was secured, the minister sent for, and on November 4, 1842, they became man and wife.
It is not surprising that more or less unhappiness obtained in their married life, for Mrs. Lincoln was a woman of strong character, proud, fiery, and determined. Her husband was subject to strange moods and impulses, and the great task which God had committed to him made him less amenable to family cares.
That married life which began at the Globe Tavern was destined to end at the White House, after years of vicissitude and serious national trouble. Children were born unto them, and all but the eldest died. Great responsibilities were laid upon Lincoln and even though he met them bravely it was inevitable that his family should also suffer.
Upon the face of the Commander-in-chief rested nearly always a mighty sadness, except when it was occasionally illumined by his wonderful smile, or when the light of his sublime faith banished the clouds.
Storm and stress, suffering and heartache, reverses and defeat were the portion of the Leader, and when Victory at last perched upon the National standard, her beautiful feet were all drabbled in blood, and the most terrible war on the world's records passed down into history. In the hour of triumph, with his great purpose nobly fulfilled, death came to the great Captain.
The United Republic is his monument, and that rugged, yet gracious figure, hallowed by martyrdom, stands before the eyes of his countrymen forever serene and calm, while his memory lingers like a benediction in the hearts of both friend and foe.
She is standing alone by the window— A woman, faded and old, But the wrinkled face was lovely once, And the silvered hair was gold. As out in the darkness, the snow-flakes Are falling so softly and slow, Her thoughts fly back to the summer of life, And the scenes of long ago.
Before the dim eyes, a picture comes, She has seen it again and again; The tears steal over the faded cheeks, And the lips that quiver with pain, For she hears once more the trumpet call And sees the battle array As they march to the hills with gleaming swords— Can she ever forget that day?
She has given her boy to the land she loves, How hard it had been to part! And to-night she stands at the window alone, With a new-made grave in her heart. And yet, it's the day of Thanksgiving— But her child, her darling was slain By the shot and shell of the rebel guns— Can she ever be thankful again?
She thinks once more of his fair young face, And the cannon's murderous roll, While hatred springs in her passionate heart, And bitterness into her soul. Then out of the death-like stillness There comes a battle-cry— The song that led those marching feet To conquer, or to die.
"Yes, rally round the flag, boys!" With tears she hears the song, And her thoughts go back to the boys in blue, That army, brave and strong— Then Peace creeps in amid the pain. The dead are as dear as the living, And back of the song is the silence, And back of the silence—Thanksgiving.
In the Flash of a Jewel
Certain barbaric instincts in the human race seem to be ineradicable. It is but a step from the painted savage, gorgeous in his beads and wampum, to my lady of fashion, who wears a tiara upon her stately head, chains and collars of precious stones at her throat, bracelets on her white arms, and innumerable rings upon her dainty fingers. Wise men may decry the baleful fascination of jewels, but, none the less, the jeweller's window continues to draw the crowd.
Like brilliant moths that appear only at night, jewels are tabooed in the day hours. Dame Fashion sternly condemns gems in the day time as evidence of hopelessly bad taste. No jewels are permitted in any ostentatious way, and yet a woman may, even in good society, wear a few thousand dollars' worth of precious stones, without seeming to be overdressed, provided the occasion is appropriate, as in the case of functions held in darkened rooms.
In the evening when shoulders are bared and light feet tread fantastic measures in a ball room, which is literally a bower of roses, there seems to be no limit as regards jewels. In such an assembly a woman may, without appearing overdressed, adorn herself with diamonds amounting to a small fortune.
During a season of grand opera in Chicago, a beautiful white-haired woman sat in the same box night after night without attracting particular attention, except as a woman of acknowledged beauty. At a glance it might be thought that her dress, although elegant, was rather simple, but an enterprising reporter discovered that her gown of rare old lace, with the pattern picked out here and there with chip diamonds, had cost over fifty-five thousand dollars. The tiara, collar, and few rings she wore, swelled the grand total to more than three hundred thousand dollars.
Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, pearls, and opals—these precious stones have played a tremendous part in the world's history. Empires have been bartered for jewels, and for a string of pearls many a woman has sold her soul. It is said that pearls mean tears, yet they are favourite gifts for brides, and no maiden fears to wear them on her way up the aisle where her bridegroom waits.
A French writer claims that if it be true that the oyster can be forced to make as many pearls as may be required of it, the jewel will become so common that my lady will no longer care to decorate herself with its pale splendour. Whether or not this will ever be the case, it is certain that few gems have played a more conspicuous part in history than this.
Not only have we Cleopatra's reckless draught, but there is also a story of a noble Roman who dissolved in vinegar and drank a pearl worth a million sesterces, which had adorned the ear of the woman he loved. But the cold-hearted chemist declares that an acid which could dissolve a pearl would also dissolve the person who swallowed it, so those two legends must vanish with many others that have shrivelled up under the searching gaze of science.
There is another interesting story about the destruction of a pearl. During the reign of Elizabeth, a haughty Spanish ambassador was boasting at the Court of England of the great riches of his king. Sir Thomas Gresham, wishing to get even with the bragging Castilian, replied that some of Elizabeth's subjects would spend as much at one meal as Philip's whole kingdom could produce in a day! To prove this statement, Sir Thomas invited the Spaniard to dine with him, and having ground up a costly Eastern pearl the Englishman coolly swallowed it.
Going back to the dimness of early times, we find that many of the ancients preferred green gems to all other stones. The emerald was thought to have many virtues. It kept evil spirits at a distance, it restored failing sight, it could unearth mysteries, and when it turned yellow its owner knew to a certainty that the woman he loved was false to him.
The ruby flashes through all Oriental romances. This stone banished sadness and sin. A serpent with a ruby in its mouth was considered an appropriate betrothal ring.
The most interesting ruby of history is set in the royal diadem of England. It is called the Black Prince's ruby. In the days when the Moors ruled Granada, when both the men and the women of that race sparkled with gems, and even the ivory covers of their books were sometimes set with precious stones, the Spanish king, Don Pedro the Cruel, obtained this stone from a Moorish prince whom he had caused to be murdered.
It was given by Don Pedro to the Black Prince, and half a century later it glowed on the helmet of that most picturesque of England's kings, Henry V, at the battle of Agincourt.
The Scotchman, Sir James Melville, saw this jewel during his famous visit to the Court of Elizabeth, when the Queen showed him some of the treasures in her cabinet, the most valued of these being the portrait of Leicester.
"She showed me a fair ruby like a great racket ball," he says. "I desired she would send to my queen either this or the Earl of Leicester's picture." But Elizabeth cherished both the ruby and the portrait, so she sent Marie Stuart a diamond instead.
Poets have lavished their fancies upon the origin of the opal, but no one seems to know why it is considered unlucky. Women who laugh at superstitions of all kinds are afraid to wear an opal, and a certain jeweller at the head of one of the largest establishments in a great city has carried his fear to such a length that he will not keep one in his establishment—not only this, but it is said that he has even been known to throw an opal ring out of the window. The offending stone had been presented to his daughter, but this fact was not allowed to weigh against his superstition. It is understood when he entertains that none of his guests will wear opals, and this wish is faithfully respected.
The story goes that the opal was discovered at the same time that kissing was invented. A young shepherd on the hills of Greece found a pretty pebble one day, and wishing to give it to a beautiful shepherdess who stood near him, he let her take it from his lips with hers, as the hands of neither of them were clean.
Many a battle royal has been waged for the possession of a diamond, and several famous diamonds are known by name throughout the world. Among these are the Orloff, the Koh-i-noor, the Regent, the Real Paragon, and the Sanci, besides the enormous stone which was sent to King Edward from South Africa. This has been cut but not yet named.
The Orloff is perhaps the most brilliant of all the famous group. Tradition says that it was once one of the eyes of an Indian idol and was supposed to have been the origin of all light. A French grenadier of Pondicherry deserted his regiment, adopted the religion and manners of the Brahmans, worshipped at the shrine of the idol whose eyes were light itself, stole the brightest one, and escaped.
A sea captain bought it from him for ten thousand dollars and sold it to a Jew for sixty thousand dollars. An Armenian named Shafras bought it from the Jew, and after a time Count Orloff paid $382,500 for this and a title of Russian nobility.
He presented the wonderful refractor of light to the Empress Catherine who complimented Orloff by naming it after him. This magnificent stone, which weighs one hundred and ninety-five carats, now forms the apex of the Russian crown.
The Real Paragon was in 1861 the property of the Rajah of Mattan. It was then uncut and weighed three hundred and seven carats. The Governor of Batavia was very anxious to bring it to Europe. He offered the Rajah one hundred and fifty thousand dollars and two warships with their guns and ammunition, but the offer was contemptuously refused. Very little is known of its history. It is now owned by the Government of Portugal and is pledged as security for a very large sum of money.
It has been said that one could carry the Koh-i-noor in one end of a silk purse and balance it in the other end with a gold eagle and a gold dollar, and never feel the difference in weight, while the value of the gem in gold could not be transported in less than four dray loads!
Tradition says that Karna, King of Anga, owned it three thousand years ago. The King of Lahore, one of the Indies, heard that the King of Cabul, one of the lesser princes, had in his possession the largest and purest diamond in the world. Lahore invited Cabul to visit him, and when he had him in his power, demanded the treasure. Cabul, however, had suspected treachery, and brought an imitation of the Koh-i-noor. He of course expostulated, but finally surrendered the supposed diamond.
The lapidary who was employed to mount it pronounced it a piece of crystal, whereupon the royal old thief sent soldiers who ransacked the palace of the King of Cabul from top to bottom, in vain. At last, however, after a long search, a servant betrayed his master, and the gem was found in a pile of ashes.
After the annexation of the Punjab in 1849, the Koh-i-noor was given up to the British, and at a meeting of the Punjab Board was handed to John (afterward Lord) Lawrence who placed it in his waistcoat pocket and forgot the treasure. While at a public meeting some time later, he suddenly remembered it, hurried home and asked his servant if he had seen a small box which he had left in his waistcoat pocket.
"Yes, sahib," the man replied; "I found it, and put in your drawer."
"Bring it here," said Lawrence, and the servant produced it.
"Now," said his master, "open it and see what it contains."
The old native obeyed, and after removing the folds of linen, he said: "There is nothing here but a piece of glass."
"Good," said Lawrence, with a sigh of relief, "you can leave it with me."
The Sanci diamond belonged to Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who wore it in his hat at the battle of Nancy, where he fell. A Swiss soldier found it and sold it for a gulden to a clergyman of Baltimore. It passed into the possession of Anton, King of Portugal, who was obliged to sell it, the price being a million francs.
It shortly afterward became the property of a Frenchman named Sanci, whose descendant being sent as an ambassador, was required by the King to give the diamond as a pledge. The servant carrying it to the King was attacked by robbers on the way and murdered, not, however, until he had swallowed the diamond. His master, feeling sure of his faithfulness, caused the body to be opened and found the gem in his stomach. This gem came into the possession of the Crown of England, and James II carried it with him to France in 1688.
From James it passed to his friend and patron, Louis XIV, and to his descendants, until the Duchess of Berry at the Restoration sold it to the Demidoffs for six hundred and twenty-five thousand francs.
It was worth a million and a half of francs when Prince Paul Demidoff wore it in his hat at a great fancy ball given in honour of Count Walewski, the Minister of Napoleon III—and lost it during the ball! Everybody was wild with excitement when the loss was announced—everybody but Prince Paul Demidoff. After an hour's search the Sanci was found under a chair.
After more than two centuries, "the Regent is," as Saint-Simon described it in 1717, "a brilliant, inestimable and unique." Its density is rather higher than that of the usual diamond, and it weighs upwards of one hundred and thirty carats. This stone was found in India by a slave, who, to conceal it, made a wound in his leg and wrapped the gem in the bandages. Reaching the coast, he intrusted himself and his secret to an English captain, who took the gem, threw the slave overboard, and sold his ill-gotten gains to a native merchant for five thousand dollars.
It afterwards passed into the hands of Pitt, Governor of St. George, who sold it in 1717 to the Duke of Orleans, then Regent of France, for $675,000. Before the end of the eighteenth century the stone had more than trebled in worth, and we can only wonder what it ought to bring now with its "perfect whiteness, its regular form, and its absolute freedom from stain or flaw!"
The collection belonging to the Sultan of Turkey, which is probably the finest in the world, dates prior to the discovery of America, and undoubtedly came from Asia. One Turkish pasha alone left to the Empire at his death, seven table-cloths embroidered with diamonds, and bushels of fine pearls.
In the war with Russia, in 1778, Turkey borrowed $30,000,000 from the Ottoman Bank on the security of the crown jewels. The cashier of the bank was admitted to the treasure-chamber and was told to help himself until he had enough to secure his advances.
"I selected enough," he says, "to secure the bank against loss in any event, but the removal of the gems I took made no appreciable gap in the accumulation."
In the imperial treasury of the Sultan, the first room is the richest in notable objects. The most conspicuous of these is a great throne or divan of beaten gold, occupying the entire centre of the room, and set with precious stones: pearls, rubies, and emeralds, thousands of them, covering the entire surface in a geometrical mosaic pattern. This specimen of barbaric magnificence was part of the spoils of war taken from one of the shahs of Persia.
Much more interesting and beautiful, however, is another canopied throne or divan, placed in the upper story of the same building. This is a genuine work of old Turkish art which dates from some time during the second half of the sixteenth century. It is a raised square seat, on which the Sultan sat cross-legged. At each angle there rises a square vertical shaft supporting a canopy, with a minaret or pinnacle surmounted by a rich gold and jewelled finial. The entire height of the throne is nine or ten feet. The materials are precious woods, ebony, sandal-wood, etc., with shell, mother-of-pearl, silver, and gold.
The entire piece is decorated inside and out with a branching floriated design in mother-of-pearl marquetry, in the style of the fine early Persian painted tiles, and the centre of each of the principal leaves and flowers is set with splendid cabochon gems, fine balass rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and pearls.
Pendant from the roof of the canopy, and in a position which would be directly over the head of the Sultan, is a golden cord, on which is hung a large heart-shaped ornament of gold, chased and perforated with floriated work, and beneath it hangs a huge uncut emerald of fine colour, but of triangular shape, four inches in diameter, and an inch and a half thick.
Richly decorated arms and armour form a conspicuous feature of the contents of all three of these rooms. The most notable work in this class in the first apartment is a splendid suit of mixed chain and plate mail, wonderfully damascened and jewelled, worn by Sultan Murad IV, in 1638, at the taking of Bagdad.
Near to it is a scimetar, probably a part of the panoply of the same monarch. Both the hilt and the greater part of the broad scabbard of this weapon are incrusted with large table diamonds, forming checkerwork, all the square stones being regularly and symmetrically cut, of exactly the same size—upward of half an inch across. There are many other sumptuous works of art which are similarly adorned.
Rightfully first among the world's splendid coronets stands the State Crown of England. It was made in 1838 with jewels taken from old crowns and others furnished by command of the Queen.
It consists of diamonds, pearls, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, set in silver and gold. It has a crimson velvet cap with ermine border; it is lined with white silk and weighs about forty ounces. The lower part of the band above the ermine border consists of a row of one hundred and ninety-nine pearls, and the upper part of this band has one hundred and twelve pearls, between which, in the front of the crown, is a large sapphire which was purchased for it by George IV.
At the back is a sapphire of smaller size and six others, three on each side, between which are eight emeralds. Above and below the sapphires are fourteen diamonds, and around the eight emeralds are one hundred and twenty-eight diamonds. Between the emeralds and sapphires are sixteen ornaments, containing one hundred and sixty diamonds. Above the band are eight sapphires, surmounted by eight diamonds, between which are eight festoons, consisting of one hundred and forty-eight diamonds.
In the front of the crown and in the centre of a diamond Maltese cross is the famous ruby of the Black Prince. Around this ruby to form the cross are seventy-five brilliant diamonds. Three other Maltese crosses, forming the two sides and back of the crown, have emerald centres, and each contains between one and two hundred brilliant diamonds. Between the four Maltese crosses are four ornaments in the form of the French fleur-de-lis, with four rubies in the centre, and surrounded by rose diamonds.
From the Maltese crosses issue four imperial arches, composed of oak leaves and acorns embellished with hundreds of magnificent jewels. From the upper part of the arches are suspended four large pendant pear-shaped pearls, with rose diamond caps. Above the arch stands the mound, thickly set with brilliants. The cross on the summit has a rose cut sapphire in the centre, surrounded by diamonds.
A gem is said to represent "condensed wealth," and it is also condensed history. The blood of a ruby, the faint moonlight lustre of a pearl, the green glow of an emerald, and the dazzling white light of a diamond—in what unfailing magic lies their charm? Tiny bits of crystal as they appear to be—even the Orloff diamond could be concealed in a child's hand—yet kings and queens have played for stakes like these. Battle and murder have been done for them, honour bartered and kingdoms lost, but the old magic beauty never fades, and to-day, as always, sin and beauty, side, by side, are mirrored in the flash of a jewel.
The Coming of My Ship
Straight to the sunrise my ship's sails are leaning, Brave at the masthead her new colours fly; Down on the shore, her lips trembling with meaning, Love waits, but unanswering, I heed not her cry. The gold of the East shall be mine in full measure, My ship shall come home overflowing with treasure, And love is not need, but only a pleasure, So I wait for my ship to come in.
Silent, half troubled, I wait in the shadow, No sail do I see between me and the dawn; Out in the blue and measureless meadow, My ship wanders widely, but Love has not gone. "My arms await thee," she cries in her pleading, "Why wait for its coming, when I am thy needing?" I pass by in stillness, all else unheeding, And wait for my ship to come in.
See, in the East, surrounded by splendour, My sail glimmers whitely in crimson and blue; I turn back to Love, my heart growing tender, "Now I have gold and leisure for you. Jewels she brings for thy white breast's adorning, Measures of gold beyond a queen's scorning"— To-night I shall rest—joy comes in the morning, So I wait for my ship to come in.
Remembering waters beat cold on the shore, And the grey sea in sadness grows old; I listen in vain for Love's pleading once more, While my ship comes with spices and gold. The sea birds cry hoarsely, for this is their songing, On masthead and colours their white wings are thronging, But my soul throbs deep with love and with longing, And I wait for my ship to come in.
Romance and the Postman
A letter! Do the charm and uncertainty of it ever fade? Who knows what may be written upon the pages within!
Far back, in a dim, dream-haunted childhood, the first letter came to me. It was "a really, truly letter," properly stamped and addressed, and duly delivered by the postman. With what wonder the chubby fingers broke the seal! It did not matter that there was an inclosure to one's mother, and that the thing itself was written by an adoring relative; it was a personal letter, of private and particular importance, and that day the postman assumed his rightful place in one's affairs.
In the treasure box of many a grandmother is hidden a pathetic scrawl that the baby made for her and called "a letter." To the alien eye, it is a mere tangle of pencil marks, and the baby himself, grown to manhood, with children of his own, would laugh at the yellowed message, which is put away with his christening robe and his first shoes, but to one, at least, it speaks with a deathless voice.
It is written in books and papers that some unhappy mortals are swamped with mail. As a lady recently wrote to the President of the United States: "I suppose you get so many letters that when you see the postman coming down the street, you don't care whether he has anything for you or not."
Indeed, the President might well think the universe had gone suddenly wrong if the postman passed him by, but there are compensations in everything. The First Gentleman of the Republic must inevitably miss the pleasant emotions which letters bring to the most of us.
The clerks and carriers in the business centres may be pardoned if they lose sight of the potentialities of the letters that pass through their hands. When a skyscraper is a postal district in itself, there is no time for the man in grey to think of the burden he carries, save as so many pounds of dead weight, becoming appreciably lighter at each stop. But outside the hum and bustle, on quiet streets and secluded by-ways, there are faces at the windows, watching eagerly for the mail.
The progress of the postman is akin to a Roman triumph, for in his leathern pack lies Fate. Long experience has given him a sixth sense, as if the letters breathed a hint of their contents through their superscriptions.
The business letter, crisp and to the point, has an atmosphere of its own, even where cross lines of typewriting do not show through the envelope.
The long, rambling, friendly hand is distinctive, and if it has been carried in the pocket a long time before mailing, the postman knows that the writer is a married woman with a foolish trust in her husband.
Circulars addressed mechanically, at so much a thousand, never deceive the postman, though the recipient often opens them with pleasurable sensations, which immediately sink to zero. And the love-letters! The carrier is a veritable Sherlock Holmes when it comes to them.
Gradually he becomes acquainted with the inmost secrets of those upon his route. Friendship, love, and marriage, absence and return, death, and one's financial condition, are all as an open book to the man in grey. Invitations, cards, wedding announcements, forlorn little letters from those to whom writing is not as easy as speech, childish epistles with scrap pictures pasted on the outside, all give an inkling of their contents to the man who delivers them.
When the same bill comes to the same house for a long and regular period, then ceases, even the carrier must feel relieved to know that it has been paid. When he isn't too busy, he takes a friendly look at the postal cards, and sometimes saves a tenant in a third flat the weariness of two flights of stairs by shouting the news up the tube!
If the dweller in a tenement has ingratiating manners, he may learn how many papers, and letters are being stuffed into the letter-box, by a polite inquiry down the tube when the bell rings. Through the subtle freemasonry of the postman's voice a girl knows that her lover has not forgotten her—and her credit is good for the "two cents due" if the tender missive is overweight.
"All the world loves a lover," and even the busy postman takes a fatherly interest in the havoc wrought by Cupid along his route. The little blind god knows neither times nor seasons—all alike are his own—but the man in grey, old and spectacled though he may be, is his confidential messenger.
Love-letters are seemingly immortal. A clay tablet on which one of the Pharaohs wrote, asking for the heart and hand of a beautiful foreign princess, is now in the British Museum. But suppose the postman had not been sure-footed, and all the clay letters had been smashed into fragments in a single grand catastrophe! What a stir in high places, what havoc in Church and State, and how many fond hearts broken, if the postman had fallen down!
"Nothing feeds the flame like a letter," said Emerson; "it has intent, personality, secrecy." Flimsy and frail as it is, so easily torn or destroyed, the love-letter many times outlasts the love. Even the Father of his Country, though he has been dead this hundred years or more, has left behind him a love-letter, ragged and faded, but still legible, beginning: "My Dearest Life and Love."
"Matter is indestructible," so the scientists say, but what of the love-letter that is reduced to ashes? Does its passion live again in some far-off violet flame, or, rising from its dust, bloom once more in a fragrant rose, to touch the lips of another love?
In countless secret places, the tender missives are hidden, for the lover must always keep his joy in tangible form, to be sure that it was not a dream. They fly through the world by day and night, like white-winged birds that can say, "I love you"—over mountain, hill, stream, and plain; past sea and lake and river, through the desert's fiery heat and amid the throbbing pulses of civilisation, with never a mistake, to bring exquisite rapture to another heart and wings of light to the loved one's soul.
Under the pillow of the maiden, her lover's letter brings visions of happiness too great for the human heart to hold. Even in her dreams, her fingers tighten upon his letter—the visible assurance of his unchanging and unchangeable love.
When the bugle sounds the charge, and dimly through the flash and flame the flag signals "Follow!" many a heart, leaping to answer with the hot blood of youth, finds a sudden tenderness in the midst of its high courage, from the loving letter which lies close to the soldier's breast.
Bunker Hill and Gettysburg, Moscow and the Wilderness, Waterloo, Mafeking, and San Juan—the old blood-stained fields and the modern scenes of terror have all alike known the same message and the same thrill. The faith and hope of the living, the kiss and prayer of the dying, the cries of the wounded, and the hot tears of those who have parted forever, are on the blood-stained pages of the love-letters that have gone to war.
"Ich liebe Dich," "Je t'aime," or, in our dear English speech, "I love you,"—it is all the same, for the heart knows the universal language, the words of which are gold, bedewed with tears that shine like precious stones.
Every attic counts old love-letters among its treasures, and when the rain beats on the roof and grey swirls of water are blown against the pane, one may sit among the old trunks and boxes and bring to light the loves of days gone by.
The little hair-cloth trunk, with its rusty lock and broken hinges, brings to mind a rosy-cheeked girl in a poke bonnet, who went a-visiting in the stage-coach. Inside is the bonnet itself—white, with a gorgeous trimming of pink "lute-string" ribbon, which has faded into ashes of roses at the touch of the kindly years.
From the trunk comes a musty fragrance—lavender, sweet clover, rosemary, thyme, and the dried petals of roses that have long since crumbled to dust. Scraps of brocade and taffeta, yellowed lingerie, and a quaint old wedding gown, daguerreotypes in ornate cases, and then the letters, tied with faded ribbon, in a package by themselves.
The fingers unconsciously soften to their task, for the letters are old and yellow, and the ink has faded to brown. Every one was cut open with the scissors, not hastily torn according to our modern fashion, but in a slow and seemly manner, as befits a solemn occasion.
Perhaps the sweet face of a great-grandmother grew much perplexed at the sight of a letter in an unfamiliar hand, and perhaps, too, as is the way of womankind, she studied the outside a long time before she opened it. As the months passed by, the handwriting became familiar, but a coquettish grandmother may have flirted a bit with the letter, and put it aside—until she could be alone.
All the important letters are in the package, from the first formal note asking permission to call, which a womanly instinct bade the maiden put aside, to the last letter, written when twilight lay upon the long road they had travelled together, but still beginning: "My Dear and Honoured Wife."
Bits of rosemary and geranium, lemon verbena, tuberose, and heliotrope, fragile and whitened, but still sweet, fall from the opened letters and rustle softly as they fall.
Far away in the "peace which passeth all understanding," the writer of the letters sleeps, but the old love keeps a fragrance that outlives the heart in which it bloomed.
At night, when the fires below are lighted, and childish voices make the old house ring with laughter, Memory steals into the attic to sing softly of the past, as a mother croons her child to sleep.
Rocking in a quaint old attic chair, with the dear familiar things of home gathered all about her, Memory's voice is sweet, like a harp tuned in the minor mode when the south wind sweeps the strings.
Bunches of herbs swing from the rafters and fill the room with the wholesome scent of an old-fashioned garden, where rue and heartsease grew. With the fragrance comes the breath from that garden of Mnemosyne, where the simples for heartache nod beside the River of Forgetfulness.
In a flash the world is forgotten, and into the attic come dear faces from that distant land of childhood, where a strange enchantment glorified the commonplace, and made the dreams of night seem real. Footsteps that have long been silent are heard upon the attic floor, and voices, hushed for years, whisper from the shadows from the other end of the room.
A moonbeam creeps into the attic and transfigures the haunted chamber with a sheen of silver mist. From the spinning-wheel come a soft hum and a delicate whir; then a long-lost voice breathes the first notes of an old, old song. The melody changes to a minuet, and the lady in the portrait moves, smiling, from the tarnished gilt frame that surrounds her—then a childish voice says: "Mother, are you asleep?"
Down the street the postman passes, bearing his burden of joy and pain: letters from far-off islands, where the Stars and Stripes gleam against a forest of palms; from the snow-bound fastnesses of the North, where men are searching for gold; from rose-scented valleys and violet fields, where the sun forever shines, and from lands across the sea, where men speak an alien tongue—single messages from one to another; letters that plead for pardon cross the paths of those that are meant to stab; letters written in jest too often find grim earnest at the end of their journey, and letters written in all tenderness meet misunderstandings and pain, when the postman brings them home; letters that deal with affairs of state and shape the destiny of a nation; tidings of happiness and sorrow, birth and death, love and trust, and the thousand pangs of trust betrayed; an hundred joys and as many griefs are all in the postman's hands.
No wonder, then, that there is a stir in the house, that eyes brighten, hearts beat quickly, and eager steps hasten to the door of destiny, when the postman rings the bell!
A Summer Reverie
I sit on the shore of the deep blue sea As the tide comes rolling in, And wonder, as roaming in sunlit dreams, The cause of the breakers' din.
For each of the foam-crowned billows Has a wonderful story to tell, And the surge's mystical music Seems wrought by a fairy spell.
I wander through memory's portals, Through mansions dim and vast, And gaze at the beautiful pictures That hang in the halls of the past.
And dream-faces gather around me, With voices soft and low, To draw me back to the pleasures Of the lands of long ago.
There are visions of beauty and splendour, And a fame that I never can win— Far out on the deep they are sailing— My ships that will never come in.
It was a muddy down-town corner and several people stood in the cold, waiting for a street-car. A stand of daily papers was on the sidewalk, guarded by two little newsboys. One was much younger than the other, and he rolled two marbles back and forth in the mud by the curb. Suddenly his attention was attracted by something bright above him, and he looked up into a bunch of red carnations a young lady held in her hands. He watched them eagerly, seemingly unable to take his eyes from the feast of colour. She saw the hungry look in the little face, and put one into his hand. He was silent, until his brother said: "Say thanky to the lady." He whispered his thanks, and then she bent down and pinned the blossom upon his ragged jacket, while the big policeman on the corner smiled approvingly.
"My, but you're gay now, and you can sell all your papers," the bigger boy said tenderly.
"Yep, I can sell 'em now, sure!"
Out of the crowd on the opposite corner came a tiny, dark-skinned Italian girl, with an accordion slung over her shoulder by a dirty ribbon; she made straight for the carnations and fearlessly cried, "Lady, please give me a flower!" She got one, and quickly vanished in the crowd.
The young woman walked up the street to a flower-stand to replenish her bunch of carnations, and when she returned, another dark-skinned mite rushed up to her without a word, only holding up grimy hands with a gesture of pathetic appeal. Another brilliant blossom went to her, and the young woman turned to follow her; on through the crowd the child fled, until she reached the corner where her mother stood, seamed and wrinkled and old, with the dark pathetic eyes of sunny Italy. She held the flower out to her, and the weary mother turned and snatched it eagerly, then pressed it to her lips, and kissed it as passionately as if it had been the child who brought it to her.
Just then the car came, and the big grey policeman helped the owner of the carnations across the street, and said as he put her on the car, "Lady, you've sure done them children a good turn to-day."
I sail through the realms of the long ago, Wafted by fancy and visions frail, On the river Time with its gentle flow, In a silver boat with a golden sail.
My dreams, in the silence are hurrying by On the brooklet of Thought where I let them flow, And the "lilies nod to the sound of the stream" As I sail through the realms of the long ago.
On the shores of life's deep-flowing stream Are my countless sorrows and heartaches, too, And the hills of hope are but dimly seen, Far in the distance, near heaven's blue.
I find that my childish thoughts and dreams Lie strewn on the sands by the cruel blast That scattered my hopes on the restless streams That flow through the mystic realms of the past.
Pointers for the Lords of Creation
Some wit has said that the worst vice in the world is advice, and it is also quite true that one ignorant, though well-meaning person can sometimes accomplish more damage in a short time, than a dozen people who start out for the purpose of doing mischief.
The newspapers and periodicals of to-day are crowded with advice to women, and while much of it is found in magazines for women, written and edited by men, it is also true that a goodly quantity of it comes from feminine writers; it is all along the same lines, however, the burden of effort being to teach the weaker sex how to become more attractive and more lovable to the lords of creation. It is, of course, all intended for our good, for if we can only please the men, and obey their slightest wish even before they take the trouble to mention the matter, we can then be perfectly happy.
A man can sit down any day and give us directions enough to keep us busy for a lifetime, and we seldom or never return the compliment. This is manifestly unfair, and so this little preachment is meant for the neglected and deserving men, and for them only, so that all women who have read thus far are invited to leave the matter right here and turn their attention to the column of "Advice to Women" which they can find in almost any periodical.
In the first place, gentlemen, we must admit that you do keep us guessing, though we do not sit up nights nor lose much sleep over your queer notions.
We can't ask you many questions, either, dear brethren, for, as you know, you rather like to fib to us, and sometimes we are able to find it out, and then we never believe you any more.
We may venture, however, to ask small favours of you, and one of these is that you do not wear red ties. You look so nice in quiet colours that we dislike exceedingly to have you make crazy quilts of yourselves, and that is just what you do when you begin experimenting with colours which we naturally associate with the "cullud pussons."
And a cane may be very ornamental, but it's of no earthly use, and we would rather you would not carry it when you go out with us.
Never tell us you haven't had time to come and see us, or write to us, because we know perfectly well that if you wanted to badly enough, you would take the time, so the excuse makes us even madder than does the neglect. Still, when you don't want to come, we would not have you do it for anything.
There is an old saying that "absence makes the heart grow fonder"—so it does—of the other fellow. We don't propose to shed any tears over you; we simply go to the theatre with the other man and have an extremely good time. When you are very, very bright, you can manage some way not to allow us to forget you for a minute, nor give us much time to think of anything else.
When we are angry, for heaven's sake don't ask us why, because that shows your lack of penetration. Just simply call yourself a brute, and say you are utterly unworthy of even our faint regard, and you will soon realise that this covers a lot of ground, and everything will be all right in a few minutes.
And whatever you do, don't show any temper yourself. A woman requires of a man that he shall be as immovable as the rock of Gibraltar, no matter what she does to him. And you play your strongest card when you don't mind our tantrums—even though it's a state secret we are telling you.
Don't get huffy when you meet us with another man; in nine cases out of ten, that's just what we do it for. And don't make the mistake of retaliating by asking another girl somewhere. You'll have a perfectly miserable time if you do, both then and afterward.
When you do come to see us, it is not at all nice to spend the entire evening talking about some other girl. How would you like to have the graces of some other man continually dinned into your ears? Sometimes we take that way in order to get a rest from your overweening raptures over the absent girl.
We have a well-defined suspicion that you talk us over with your chums and compare notes. But, bless you, it can't possibly hold a candle to the thorough and impartial discussions that some of you get when girls are together, either in small bevies, or with only one chosen friend. And we don't very much care what you say about us, for a man never judges a woman by the opinion of any one else, but another woman's opinion counts for a great deal with us, so you would better be careful.
If you are going to say things that you don't mean, try to stamp them with the air of sincerity—if you can once get a woman to fully believe in your sincerity, you have gone a long way toward her heart.
Haven't you found out that women are not particularly interested in anecdotes? Please don't tell us more than fifteen in the same evening.
And don't begin to make love to us before you have had time to make a favourable impression along several lines—a man, as well as a woman, loses ground and forfeits respect by making himself too cheap.
If a girl runs and screams when she has been caught standing under the mistletoe, it means that she will not object; if she stiffens up and glares at you, it means that she does. The same idea is sometimes delicately conveyed by the point of a pin. But a woman will be able to forgive almost anything which you can make her believe was prompted by her own attractiveness, at least unless she knows men fairly well.
You know, of course, that we will not show your letters, nor tell when you ask us to marry you and are refused. This much a woman owes to any man who has honoured her with an offer of marriage—to keep his perfect trust sacredly in her own heart. Even her future husband has no business to know of this—it is her lover's secret, and she has no right to betray it.
Keeping the love-letters and the offers of marriage from any honourable man safe from a prying world are points of honour which all good women possess, although we may sometimes quote certain things from your letters, as you do from ours.
There's nothing you can tell a woman which will please her quite so much as that knowing her has made you better, especially if you can prove it by showing a decided upward tendency in your morals. That's your good right bower, but don't play it too often—keep it for special occasions.
There's one mistake you make, dear brethren, and that is telling a woman you love her as soon as you find it out yourself, and the most of you will do that very thing. There is one case on record where a man waited fifteen minutes, but he nearly died of the strain. The trouble is that you seldom stop to consider whether we are ready to hear you or not, nor whether the coast is clear, nor what the chances are in your favour. You simply relieve your mind, and trust in your own wonderful charms to accomplish the rest.
And we wish that when the proper time comes for you to speak your mind you'd try to do it artistically. Of course you can't write it, unless you are far away from her, for if you can manage an opportunity to speak, a resort to the pen is cowardly. And don't mind our evading the subject—we always do that on principle, but please don't be scared, or at least don't show it, whatever you may feel. If there is one thing a woman dislikes more than another it is a man who shows cowardice at the crucial point in life.
Every man, except yourself, dear reader, is conceited. And one particular sort of it makes us very, very weary. You are so blinded by your own perfections, so sure that we are desperately in love with you, that you sometimes give us little unspoken suggestions to that effect, and then our disgust is beyond words.
Another cowardly thing you sometimes do, and that is to say that we have spoiled your life—that we could have made you anything we pleased—and that you are going straight to perdition. If one woman is all that keeps you from going to ruin, you have secured a through ticket anyway, and it's too late to save you. You don't want a woman who might marry you only out of pity, and you are not going to die of a broken heart. Men die of broken vanity, sometimes, but their hearts are pretty tough, being made of healthy muscle.
You get married very much as you go down town in the morning. You run, like all possessed, until you catch your car, and then you sit down and read your newspaper. When you think your wife looks unusually well, it would not hurt you in the least to tell her so, and the way you leave her in the morning is going to settle her happiness for the day, though she may be too proud to let you know that it makes any difference. Women are quick to detect a sham, and they don't want you to say anything that you don't feel, but you are pretty sure to feel tenderly toward her sometimes, careless though you may be, and then is the time to tell her so. You don't want to wait until she is dead, and then buy a lily to put on her coffin. You'd better bring her the lily some time when you've been cross and grumpy.
But don't imagine that a present of any kind ever atones for a hurt that has been given in words. There's nothing you can say which is more manly or which will do you both so much good as the simple "forgive me" when you have been wrong.
Rest assured, gentlemen, that you who spend the most of your evenings in other company, and too often find fault with your meals when you come home, are the cause of many sorrowful talks among the women who are wise enough to know, even though your loyal wife may put up a brave front in your defense.
How often do you suppose the brave woman who loves you has been actually driven in her agony to some married friend whom she can trust and upon her sympathetic bosom has cried until she could weep no more, simply because of your thoughtless neglect? How often do you think she has planned little things to make your home-coming pleasant, which you have never noticed? And how often do you suppose she has desperately fought down the heartache and tried to believe that your absorption in business is the reason for your forgetfulness of her?
Do you ever think of these things? Do you ever think of the days before you were sure of her, when you treasured every line of her letters, and would have bartered your very hopes of heaven for the earthly life with her?
But perhaps you can hardly be expected to remember the wild sprint that you made from the breakfast table to the street-car.
I am thy Pleasure. See, my face is fair— With silken strands of joy I twine thee round; Life has enough of stress—forget with me! Wilt thou not stay? Then go, thou art not bound.
I am thy Pastime. Let me be to thee A daily refuge from the haunting fears That bind thee, choke thee, fill thy soul with woe. Seek thou my hand, let me assuage thy tears.
I am thy Habit. Nay, start not, thy will Is yet supreme, for art thou not a man? Then draw me close to thee, for life is brief— A little space to pass as best one can.
I am thy Passion. Thou shalt cling to me Through all the years to come. The silken cord Of Pleasure has become a stronger bond, Not to be cleft, nor loosened at a word.
I am thy Master. Thou shalt crush for me The grapes of truth for wine of sacrifice; My clanking chains were forged for such as thee, I am thy Master—yea, I am thy vice!
The Superiority of Man
Without pausing to inquire why savages and barbarians are capable of producing college professors, who sneer at the source from which they sprung, we may accept for the moment the masculine hypothesis of intellectual superiority. Some women have been heard to say that they wish they had been born men, but there is no man bold enough to say that he would like to be a woman.
If woman can produce a reasoning being, it follows that she herself must be capable of reasoning, since a stream can rise no higher than its fountain. And yet the bitter truth stares us in the face. We have no Shakespeare, Michelangelo, or Beethoven; our Darwins, our Schumanns are mute and inglorious; our Miltons, Raphaels, and Herbert Spencers have not arrived.
Call the roll of the great and how many women's names will be found there? Scarcely enough to enable you to call the company mixed.
No woman in her senses wishes to be merely the female of man. She aspires to be distinctly different—to exercise her varied powers in wholly different ways. Ex-President Roosevelt said: "Equality does not imply identity of function." We do not care to put in telephones or to collect fares on a street-car.
Primitive man set forth from his cave to kill an animal or two, then repaired to a secluded nook in the jungle, with other primitive men, to discuss the beginnings of politics. Primitive woman in the cave not only dressed his game, but she cooked the animal for food, made clothing of its skin, necklaces and bracelets of its teeth, passementerie of its claws, and needles of its sharper bones. What wonder that she had no time for an afternoon tea?
The man of the twentieth century has progressed immeasurably beyond this, but his wife, industrially speaking, has not gone half so far. Is she not still in some cases a cave-dweller, while he roams the highways of the world?
If a woman mends men's socks, should he not darn her lisle-thread hosiery, and run a line of machine stitching around the middle of the hem to prevent a disastrous run from a broken stitch? If she presses his ties, why should he not learn to iron her bits of fine lace?
Some one will say: "But he supports her. It is her duty."
"Yes, dear friend, but similarly does he 'support' the servant who does the same duties. He also gives her seven dollars every Monday morning, or she leaves." Are we to suppose that a wife is a woman who does general housework for board and clothes, with a few kind words thrown in?
A German lady, whom we well knew, worked all the morning attending to the comforts of her liege lord. In the dining room he was stretched out in an easy chair, while the queen of his heart brushed and repaired his clothes—yes, and blacked his boots! Doubtless for a single kiss, redolent of beer and sausages, she would have pressed his trousers. Kind words and the fragrant osculation had already saved him three dollars at his tailor's.
By such gold-brick methods, dear friends, do men get good service cheap. Would that we could do the same! Here, and gladly, we admit masculine superiority.
Our short-sightedness, our weakness for kind words, our graceful acceptance of the entire responsibility for the home, have chained us to the earth, while our lords soar. After having worked steadily for some six thousand years to populate the earth passably, some of us may now be excused from that duty.
Motherhood is a career for which especial talents are required. Very few women know how to bring up children properly. If you don't believe it, look at the difference between our angelic offspring, and the little imps next door! It is as unreasonable to suppose that all women can be good mothers as it is to suppose that all women can sing in grand opera.
And yet, let us hug to our weary hearts, in our most discouraged moments, the great soul-satisfying truth that men, no matter what they say or write, think that we are smarter than they are. Otherwise, they would not expect of us so much more than they can possibly do themselves.
In every field of woman's work outside the house, the same illustration applies. They also think that we possess greater physical strength. They chivalrously shield us from the exhausting effort of voting, but allow us to stand in the street-cars, wash dishes, push a baby carriage, and scrub the kitchen floor. Should we not be proud because they consider us so much stronger and wiser than they? Interruptions are fatal to their work, as the wife of even a business man will testify.
What would have become of Spencer's Data of Ethics if, while he was writing it, he had two dressmakers in the house? Should we have had Hamlet, if at the completion of the first act Mr. Shakespeare had given birth to twins, when he had made clothes for only one?
The great charm of marriage, as of life itself, is its unexpectedness. The only way to test a man is to marry him. If you live, it's a mushroom; if you die, it's a toadstool!
Or, as another saying goes: "Happiness after marriage is like the soap in the bath-tub; you knew it was there when you got in."
Man's clothes are ugly, but the styles change gradually. A judge on the bench may try a case lasting two weeks, and his hat will not be hopelessly behind the times when it is finished. A man can stoop to pick up a fallen magazine without pausing to remember that his front steels are not so flexible this year as they were last.
He is not distressed by the fear that some other man may have a suit just like his, or that the neighbours will think it is his last year's suit dyed.
We women fritter ourselves away upon a thousand unnecessary things. We waste our creative energies and our inspired moments upon pursuits so ephemeral that they are forgotten to-morrow. Our day's work counts for nothing when tested by the standards of eternity. We are unjust, not only to ourselves, but to the men who strive for us, for civilisation must progress very slowly when half of us are dragged by pots and pans.
A house is a material fact, but a home is a fine spiritual essence which may pervade even the humblest abode. If love means harmony, why not try a little of it in the kitchen? Better a perfect salad than a poor poem; better a fine picture than an immaculate house.
The Year of My Heart
A sigh for the spring, full flowered, promised spring, Laid on the tender earth, and those dear days When apple blossoms gleamed against the blue! Ah, how the world of joyous robins sang: "I love but you, Sweetheart, I love but you!"
A sigh for summer fled. In warm, sweet air Her thousand singers sped on shining wing; And all the inward life of budding grain Throbbed with a thousand pulses, while I cling To you, my Sweet, with passion near to pain.
A sigh for autumn past. The garnered fields Lie desolate to-day. My heart is chill As with a sense of dread, and on the shore The waves beat grey and cold, and seem to say: "No more, oh, waiting soul, oh nevermore!"
A sigh for winter come. No singing bird, Nor harvest field, is near the path I tread; An empty husk is all I have to keep. The largess of my giving left me bare, And I ask God but for His Lethe—sleep.
The Average Man
The real man is not at all on the outskirts of civilisation. He is very much in evidence and everybody knows him. He has faults and virtues, and sometimes they get so mixed up that "you cannot tell one from t'other."
He is erratic and often queer. He believes, with Emerson, that "with consistency a great soul has nothing to do." And he is, of course, "a great soul." Logical, isn't it?
The average man thinks that he is a born genius at love-making. Henders, in The Professor's Love Story, states it thus:
"Effie, ye ken there are some men ha' a power o'er women.... They're what ye might call 'dead shots.' Ye canna deny, Effie, that I'm one o' those men!"
Even though a man may be obliged to admit, in strict confidence between himself and his mirror, that he is not at all handsome, nevertheless he is certain that he has some occult influence over that strange, mystifying, and altogether unreasonable organ—a woman's heart.
The real man is conceited. Of course you are not, dear masculine reader, for you are one of the bright particular exceptions, but all of your men friends are conceited—aren't they?
And then he makes fun of his women folks because they spend so much time in front of the mirror in arranging hats and veils. But when a high wind comes up and disarranges coiffures and chapeaux alike, he takes "my ladye fair" into some obscure corner, and saying, "Pardon me, but your hat isn't quite straight," he will deftly restore that piece of millinery to its pristine position. That's nice of him, isn't it? He does very nice things quite often, this real man.
He says women are fickle. So they are, but men are fickle too, and will forget all about the absent sweetheart while contemplating the pretty girls in the street. For while "absence makes the heart grow fonder" in the case of a woman, it is presence that plays the mischief with a man, and Miss Beauty present has a very unfair advantage over Miss Sweetheart absent.
The average man thinks he is a connoisseur of feminine attractiveness. He thinks he has tact, too, but there never was a man who was blessed with much of this valuable commodity. Still, as that is a favourite delusion with so large a majority of the human race, the conceit of the ordinary masculine individual ought not to be censured too strongly.
The real man is quite an expert at flattery. Every girl he meets, if she is at all attractive, is considered the most charming lady that he ever knew. He is sure she isn't prudish enough to refuse him a kiss, and if she is, she wins not only his admiration, but that which is vastly better—his respect.
If she hates to be considered a prude and gives him the kiss, he is very sweet and appreciative at the time, but later on he confides to his chum that she is a silly sort of a girl, without a great deal of self-respect!
There are two things that the average man likes to be told. One is that his taste in dress is exceptional; the other that he is a deep student of human nature and knows the world thoroughly. This remark will make him your lifelong friend.
Again, the real man will put on more agony when he is in love than is needed for a first-class tragedy. But there's no denying that most women like that sort of thing, you, dear dainty feminine reader, being almost the only exception to this rule.
But, resuming the special line of thought, man firmly believes that woman cannot sharpen a pencil, select a necktie, throw a stone, drive a nail, or kill a mouse, and it is very certain that she cannot cook a beef-steak in the finished style of which his lordship is capable.
Yes, man has his faults as well as woman. There is a vast room for improvement on both sides, but as long as this old earth of ours turns through shadow and sunlight, through sorrow and happiness, men and women will forgive and try to forget, and will cling to, and love each other.
The Book of Love
I dreamt I saw an angel in the night, And she held forth Love's book, limned o'er with gold, That I might read of days of chivalry And how men's hearts were wont to thrill of old.
Half wondering, I turned the musty leaves, For Love's book counts out centuries as years, And here and there a page shone out undimmed, And here and there a page was blurred with tears.
I read of Grief, Doubt, Silence unexplained— Of many-featured Wrong, Distrust, and Blame, Renunciation—bitterest of all— And yet I wandered not beyond Love's name.
At last I cried to her who held the book, So fair and calm she stood, I see her yet; "Why write these things within this book of Love? Why may we not pass onward and forget?"
Her voice was tender when she answered me: "Half child, half woman, earthy as thou art, How should'st thou dream that Love is never Love Unless these things beat vainly on the heart?"
The Ideal Man
He isn't nearly so scarce as one might think, but happy is the woman who finds him, for he is often a bit out of the beaten paths, sometimes in the very suburbs of our modern civilisation. He is, however, coming to the front rather slowly, to be sure, but nevertheless he is coming.
He wouldn't do for the hero of a dime novel—he isn't melancholy in his mien, nor Byronic in his morals. It is a frank, honest, manly face that looks into the other end of our observation telescope when we sweep the horizon to find something higher and better than the rank and file of humanity.
He is a gentleman, invariably courteous and refined. He is careful in his attire, but not foppish. He is chivalrous in his attitude toward woman, and as politely kind to the wrinkled old woman who scrubs his office floor as to the aristocratic belle who bows to him from her carriage.
He is scrupulously honest in all his dealings with his fellow men, and meanness of any sort is utterly beneath him. He has a happy way of seeing the humorous side of life, and he is an exceedingly pleasant companion.
When the love light shines in his eyes, kindled at the only fire where it may be lighted, he has nothing in his past of which he need be ashamed. He stands beside her and pleads earnestly and manfully for the treasure he seeks. Slowly he turns the pages of his life before her, for there is not one which can call a blush to his cheek, or to hers.
Truth, purity, honesty, chivalry, the highest manliness—all these are written therein, and she gladly accepts the clean heart which is offered for her keeping.
Her life is now another open book. To him her nature seems like a harp of a thousand strings, and every note, though it may not be strong and high, is truth itself, and most refined in tone.
So they join hands, these two: the sweetheart becomes the wife; the lover is the husband.
He is still chivalrous to every woman, but to his wife he pays the gentler deference which was the sweetheart's due. He loves her, and is not ashamed to show it. He brings her flowers and books, just as he used to do when he was teaching her to love him. He is broad-minded, and far-seeing—he believes in "a white life for two." He knows his wife has the same right to demand purity in thought, word, and deed from him, as he has to ask absolute stainlessness from her. That is why he has kept clean the pages of his life—why he keeps the record unsullied as the years go by.
He is tender in his feelings; if he goes home and finds his wife in tears, he doesn't tell her angrily to "brace up," or say, "this is a pretty welcome for a man!" He doesn't slam the door and whistle as if nothing was the matter. But he takes her in his comforting arms and speaks soothing words. If his comrades speak lightly of his devotion, he simply thinks out other blessings for the little woman who presides at his fireside.
His wife is inexpressibly dear to him, and every day he shows this, and takes pains, also, to tell her so. He admires her pretty gowns, and is glad to speak appreciatively of the becoming things she wears. He knows instinctively that it is the thoughtfulness and the little tenderness which make a woman's happiness, and he tries to make her realise that his love for her grew brighter, instead of fading, when the sweetheart blossomed into the wife. For every woman, old, wrinkled, and grey, or young and charming, likes to be loved.
The ideal man will do his utmost to make his wife realise that his devotion intensifies as the years go by.
What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life—to strengthen each other in all labour, to rest upon each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?
God bless the ideal man and hasten his coming in greater numbers.
Good-night, Sweetheart; the winged hours have flown; I have forgotten all the world but thee. Across the moon-lit deep, where stars have shone, The surge sounds softly from the sleeping sea.