BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN
THEIR STRUGGLES, FAILURES, AND TRIUMPHS.
O.E. FULLER, A.M.
"Find out what you are fitted for; work hard at that one thing, and keep a brave, honest heart."
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COPYRIGHT By O.E. FULLER 1884 All rights reserved.
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Struggle, failure, triumph: while triumph is the thing sought, struggle has its joy, and failure is not without its uses.
"It is not the goal," says Jean Paul, "but the course which makes us happy." The law of life is what a great orator affirmed of oratory—"Action, action, action!" As soon as one point is gained, another, and another presents itself.
"It is a mistake," says Samuel Smiles, "to suppose that men succeed through success; they much oftener succeed through failure." He cites, among others, the example of Cowper, who, through his diffidence and shyness, broke down when pleading his first cause, and lived to revive the poetic art in England; and that of Goldsmith, who failed in passing as a surgeon, and yet wrote the "Deserted Village" and the "Vicar of Wakefield." Even when one turns to no new course, how many failures, as a rule, mark the way to triumph, and brand into life, as with a hot iron, the lessons of defeat!
The brave man or the brave woman is one who looks life in the eye, and says: "God helping me, I am going to realize the best possibilities of my nature, by calling into action the beneficent laws which govern and determine the development of each individual member of the race." And the failures of such a person are the jewels of triumph; that triumph which is certain in the sight of heaven, if not in the eyes of men.
"Brave Men and Women," the title of this volume, is used in a double sense, as referring not only to those whose words and deeds are here recorded, or cited as examples, but also to all who read the book, and are striving after the riches of character.
Some of the sketches and short papers are anonymous, and have been adapted for use in these pages. Where the authorship is known, and the productions have been given verbatim, the source, if not the pen of the editor, has been indicated. Thanks are due to the press, and to those who have permitted the use of copyrighted matter.
In conclusion, the editor lays little claim to originality—save in the metrical pieces, and in the use he has made of material. His aim has simply been to form a sort of mosaic or variegated picture of the Brave Life—the life which recognizes the Divine Goodness in all things, striving through good report and evil report, and in manifold ways, which one is often unqualified to judge, to attain to the life of Him who is "the light of the world."
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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.—HIS FAME STILL CLIMBING TO HEAVEN—WHAT HE HAD DONE AT FIFTY-TWO—POOR RICHARD'S ADDRESS
DEFENCE OF A GREAT MAN.—WAS DR. FRANKLIN MEAN?—JAMES PARTON'S ANSWER
SIR WALTER SCOTT AND HIS MOTHER.—THE MOTHER'S EDUCATION—THE SON'S TRAINING—DOMESTIC LOVE AND SOCIAL DUTIES
ABIGAIL ADAMS.—THE WIFE OF OUR SECOND PRESIDENT—THE MOTHER OF OUR SIXTH
TWO NEIGHBORS.—WHAT THEY GOT OUT OF LIFE
HORACE GREELEY.—THE MOLDER OF PUBLIC OPINION—THE BRAVE JOURNALIST
WENDELL PHILLIPS.—THE TIMES WHEN HE APPEARED—"WHO IS THIS FELLOW?"—A FLAMING ADVOCATE OF LIBERTY—LIBERTY OF SPEECH AND THOUGHT—POWER TO DISCERN THE RIGHT—THE MOB-BEATEN HERO TRIUMPHANT
MARY WORDSWORTH.—THE KINDLY WIFE OF THE GREAT POET
MADAME MALIBRAN.—HER CAREER AS A SINGER—KINDNESS OF HEART
GARFIELD MAXIMS.—GATHERED FROM HIS SPEECHES, ADDRESSES, LETTERS, ETC.
WHAT I CARRIED TO COLLEGE.—A REMINISCENCE AT FORTY—PICTURES OF RURAL LIFE
SIR JOHN FRANKLIN.—HEROISM ON THE GREAT DEEP—A MARTYR OF THE POLAR SEA
ELIZABETH ESTAUGH.—A QUAKER COURTSHIP IN WHICH SHE WAS THE PRINCIPAL ACTOR
"CHINESE" GORDON.—IN THE TRENCHES OF THE CRIMEA—PUTS DOWN THE GREAT TAIPING REBELLION IN CHINA, IN 1863-4—HERO OF THE SOUDAN—BEARDS THE MEN-STEALERS IN THEIR STRONGHOLDS AND MAKES THE PEOPLE LOVE HIM
MEN'S WIVES.—BITS OF COMMON SENSE AND WISDOM ON A GREAT SUBJECT
WOMEN'S HUSBANDS.—WHAT THE "BREAD-WINNERS" LIKE IN THEIR WIVES—A LITTLE CONSTITUTIONAL OPPOSITION
JOHN PLOUGHMAN.—WHAT HE SAYS ABOUT RELIGIOUS GRUMBLERS—GOOD NATURE AND FIRMNESS, ETC.
CAROLINE LUCRETIA HERSCHEL.—A NOBLE, SELF-SACRIFICING WOMAN
PESTIFEROUS LITERATURE.—THE PRINTING PRESS—THE FLOOD OF IMPURE AND LOATHSOME LITERATURE, ETC.
SATISFIED.—AND OTHER POEMS
HEROES OF SCIENCE.—MICHAEL FARADAY—SIR WILLIAM SIEMENS—M. PASTEUR
MY UNCLE TOBY.—ONE OF THE BEAUTIFUL CREATIONS OF A GREAT GENIUS
STEPHEN GIRARD.—THE NAPOLEON OF MERCHANTS—HIS LIFE SUCCESSFUL, AND YET A FAILURE
DISAPPOINTMENTS.—PLEASURE AFTER PAIN—PAIN AFTER PLEASURE
THE THREE KINGS.—AN OLD STORY IN A NEW LIGHT
FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE.—THE HEROINE OF THE CRIMEA
SHY PEOPLE.—HAWTHORNE—WASHINGTON, IRVING, AND OTHERS—MADAME RECAMIER
JOHN MARSHALL.—IN THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY—His MARRIAGE—LAW LECTURES—AT THE BAR—His INTELLECTUAL POWERS—ON THE BENCH
A NOBLE MOTHER.—How SHE TRAINED HERSELF, AND EDUCATED HER BOYS
THE CARE OF THE BODY.—WHAT DR. SARGENT, OF THE HARVARD GYMNASIUM, SAYS ABOUT IT—POINTS FOR PARENTS, TEACHERS, AND PUPILS
SAINT CECILIA.—THE PATRONESS OF MUSIC—MYTHS CONCERNING THE ORIGIN OF MUSIC—ITS RELATION TO WORK AND BLESSEDNESS
THOMAS DE QUINCEY.—A LIFE OF WONDER AND WARNING
A VISION OF TIME.—NEW YEAR'S EVE
JOHN BUNYAN.—FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
MADAME ROLAND.—THE MOST REMARKABLE WOMAN OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION—THE IPHIGENIA OF FRANCE
CHEERFUL AND BRAVE.—THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON—SIR WALTER RALEIGH—XENOPHON—CAESAR—NELSON, ETC.
HAROLD.—THE LAST SAXON KING OF ENGLAND
PETER COOPER.—THE LESSONS OF A LONG AND USEFUL LIFE
ILLUSIONS.—"THEREFORE TRUST TO THY HEART AND WHAT THE WORLD CALLS ILLUSIONS"
PHILLIPS BROOKS.—At Home
ST. JOHN AND THE ROBBER.—A LEGEND OF THE FIRST CENTURY
JOHN PLOUGHMAN AGAIN.—THE PITH AND MARROW OF CERTAIN OLD PROVERBS
HENRY WILSON.—FROM THE SHOEMAKER'S BENCH TO THE CHAIR OF VICE-PRESIDENT
JOAN OF ARC.—THE PEASANT MAIDEN WHO DELIVERED HER COUNTRY AND BECAME A MARTYR IN ITS CAUSE
THE SONG OF WORK.—MANY PHASES AND MANY EXAMPLES
ALVAN S. SOUTHWORTH.—CROSSING THE NUBIAN DESERT
A FORBIDDEN TOPIC.—WHICH SOME PEOPLE PERSIST IN INTRODUCING
IDA LEWIS WILSON.—THE GRACE DARLING OF AMERICA
RACHEL JACKSON.—THE WIFE OF OUR SEVENTH PRESIDENT
DISCONTENTED GIRLS.—ONE PANACEA FOR THEM—AND ONE REFUGE
THE VOICE IN RAMAH.—"RACHEL WEEPING FOR HER CHILDREN, AND WOULD NOT BE COMFORTED BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT"
LA FAYETTE.—THE FRIEND AND DEFENDER OF LIBERTY ON TWO CONTINENTS
LYDIA SIGOURNEY.—THE LESSON OF A USEFUL AND BEAUTIFUL LIFE
OLD AGE AND USEFULNESS.—THE GLORY OF BRAVE MEN AND WOMEN
RHYMES AND CHIMES.—SUITABLE FOR AUTOGRAPH ALBUMS
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(BORN 1706—DIED 1790.)
HIS FAME STILL CLIMBING TO HEAVEN—WHAT HE HAD DONE AT FIFTY-TWO—POOR RICHARD'S ADDRESS.
The late Judge Black was remarkable not only for his wit and humor, which often enlivened the dry logic of law and fact, but also for flashes of unique eloquence. In presenting a certain brief before the United States Supreme Court he had occasion to animadvert upon some of our great men. Among other things he said, as related to the writer by one who heard him: "The colossal name of Washington is growing year by year, and the fame of Franklin is still climbing to heaven," accompanying the latter words by such a movement of his right hand that not one of his hearers failed to see the immortal kite quietly bearing the philosopher's question to the clouds. It was a point which delivered the answer. In the life of every great man there is likewise a point which delivers the special message which he was born to publish to the world. Biography is greatly simplified when it confines itself chiefly to that one point. What does the reader, who has his own work to do, care for a great multitude of details which are not needed for the setting of the picture? To the point is the cry of our busy life.
Benjamin Franklin is here introduced to the reader
What had he done at that age to command more than ordinary respect and admiration?
I. Born in poverty and obscurity, in which he passed his early years; with no advantages of education in the schools of his day, after he entered his teens; under the condition of daily toil for his bread; he had carried on, in spite of all obstacles, the process of self-education through books and observation, and become in literature and science, as well as in the practical affairs of every-day life, the best informed man in America.
II. Apprenticed to a printer in his native Boston, at thirteen; a journeyman in Philadelphia at seventeen; working at the case in London at nineteen; back to the Quaker City, and set up for himself at twenty-six; he had long since mastered all the details of a great business, prepared to put his hand to any thing, from the trundling of paper through the streets on a wheel-barrow to the writing of editorials and pamphlets, and had earned for himself a position as the most prosperous printer and publisher in the colonies.
III. Retired from active business at forty-six, considering that he had already earned and saved enough to supply his reasonable wants for the rest of his life; fired with ambition to do something for the advancement of science; he had now for six years given himself to philosophical investigation and experiment, among other things demonstrated the identity of electricity as produced by artificial means and atmospheric lightning, and made himself a name throughout the civilized world.
IV. Besides, it must not be forgotten that he had all along been foremost in many a work for the public good. The Franklin Library, of Philadelphia, owes to him its origin. The University of Pennsylvania grew out of an educational project in which he was a prime mover. And his ideas as to the relative importance of ancient and modern classics were more than a hundred years in advance of his times.
Such is a glimpse of Franklin at fifty-two, as preliminary to a single episode which will occupy the rest of this chapter. But the episode itself requires a special word.
V. For a quarter of a century Franklin had published an almanac under the pseudonym of Richard Saunders, into the pages of which he crowded year by year choice scraps of wit and wisdom, which made the little hand-book a welcome visitor in almost every home of the New World. Now in the midst of those philosophical studies which so much delighted him, when about to cross the Atlantic as a commissioner to the Home Government, he found time to gather up the maxims and quaint sayings of twenty-five years and set them in a wonderful mosaic, as the preface of Poor Richard's world-famous almanac—as unique a piece of writing as any language affords. Here it is:
POOR RICHARD'S ADDRESS.
Courteous Reader: I have heard that nothing gives an author so great pleasure as to find his works respectfully quoted by others. Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am going to relate to you. I stopped my horse lately where a great company of people were collected at an auction of merchants' goods. The hour of the sale not being come, they were conversing on the badness of the times; and one of the company called to a plain, clean old man, with white locks, "Pray, Father Abraham, what think you of the times? Will not those heavy taxes quite ruin the country? How shall we ever be able to pay them? What would you advise us to do?" Father Abraham stood up and replied, "If you would have my advice, I will give it you in short; 'for a word to the wise is enough,' as Poor Richard says." They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and gathering around him, he proceeded as follows:—
"Friends," says he, "the taxes are indeed very heavy; and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the commissioners can not ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement. However, let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us; 'God helps them that help themselves,' as Poor Richard says.
"I. It would be thought a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth of their time to be employed in its service, but idleness taxes many of us much more: sloth, by bringing on disease, absolutely shortens life. 'Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright,' as Poor Richard says. 'But dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of,' as Poor Richard says. How much more than is necessary do we spend in sleep! forgetting that the sleeping fox catches no poultry, and that there will be sleeping enough in the grave,' as Poor Richard says. 'If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be,' as Poor Richard says, 'the greatest prodigality;' since as he elsewhere tell us, 'Lost time is never found again; and what we call time enough always proves little enough.' Let us then up and be doing, and doing to the purpose, so by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity. 'Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy, and he that riseth late must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night; while laziness travels so slowly, that poverty soon overtakes him. Drive thy business, let not that drive thee; and early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,' as Poor Richard says.
"So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We may make these times better if we bestir ourselves. 'Industry need not wish, and he that lives upon hope will die fasting. There are no gains without pains; then help hands, for I have no lands,' or if I have they are smartly taxed. 'He that hath a trade, hath an estate; and he that hath a calling, hath an office of profit and honor,' as Poor Richard says; but then the trade must be worked at, and the calling well followed, or neither the estate nor the office will enable us to pay our taxes. If we are industrious we shall never starve; for 'at the workingman's house hunger looks in, but dares not enter.' Nor will the bailiff or the constable enter, for 'industry pays debts, while despair increaseth them.' What though you have found no treasure, nor has any rich relation left a legacy; 'Diligence is the mother of good luck, and God gives all things to industry. Then plow deep, while sluggards sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and to keep.' Work while it is called to-day, for you know not how much you may be hindered to-morrow. 'One to-day is worth two to-morrows,' as Poor Richard says; and farther, 'Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day.' If you were a servant, would you not be ashamed that a good master should catch you idle? Are you then your own master? Be ashamed to catch yourself idle, when there is so much to be done for yourself, your family, your country, and your king. Handle your tools without mittens; remember, that 'the cat in gloves catches no mice,' as Poor Richard says. It is true there is much to be done, and, perhaps, you are weak-handed; but stick to it steadily, and you will see great effects; for, 'Constant dropping wears away stones; and by diligence, and patience the mouse ate in two the cable; and little strokes fell great oaks.'
"Methinks I hear some of you say, 'Must a man afford himself no leisure?' I will tell thee, my friend, what Poor Richard says: 'Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure; and, since thou art not sure of a minute, throw not away an hour.' Leisure is time for doing something useful; this leisure the diligent man will obtain, but the lazy man never; for 'A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. Many, without labor, would live by their wits only, but they break for want of stock;' whereas industry gives comfort, and plenty, and respect. 'Fly pleasures, and they will follow you. The diligent spinner has a large shift; and now I have a sheep and a cow, every body bids me good morrow.'
"II. But with our industry we must likewise be steady, settled, and careful, and oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and not trust too much to others, for, as Poor Richard says,
"'I never saw an oft removed tree, Nor yet an oft removed family, That throve so well as those that settled be.'
"And again, 'three removes is as bad as a fire;' and again, 'Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee;' and again, 'If you would have your business done, go; if not, send;' and again,
"'He that by the plow would thrive, Himself must either hold or drive.'
And again, 'the eye of the master will do more work than both his hands;' and again, 'Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge;' and again, 'Not to oversee workmen is to leave them your purse open.' Trusting too much to others' care is the ruin of many; for, 'In the affairs of this world, men are saved, not by faith, but by the want of it; but a man's own care is profitable, for, 'If you would have a faithful servant, and one that you like, serve yourself. A little neglect may breed great mischief; for want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost,' being overtaken and slain by the enemy; all for want of a little care about a horseshoe nail.
"III. So much for industry, my friends, and attention to one's own business; but to these we must add frugality, if we would make our industry more certainly successful. A man may, if he knows not how to save as he gets, 'keep his nose all his life to the grindstone, and die not worth a groat at last. A fat kitchen makes a lean will;' and
"'Many estates are spent in the getting, Since women for tea forsook spinning and knitting, And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting.'
'If you would be wealthy, think of saving, as well as of getting. The Indies have not made Spain rich, because her outgoes are greater than her incomes.'
"Away then with your expensive follies, and you will not then have so much cause to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable families; for
"'Women and wine, game and deceit, Make the wealth small, and the want great.'
And farther, 'What maintains one vice would bring up two children.' You may think, perhaps, that a little tea, or a little punch now and then, diet a little more costly, clothes a little finer, and a little entertainment now and then, can be no great matter; but remember, 'Many a little makes a mickle.' Beware of little expenses. 'A small leak will sink a great ship,' as Poor Richard says; and again, 'Who dainties love, shall beggars prove;' and moreover, 'Fools make feasts, and wise men eat them.' Here you are all got together to this sale of fineries and knick-knacks. You call them goods, but, if you do not take care, they will prove evils to some of you. You expect they will be sold cheap, and perhaps they may, for less than they cost; but if you have no occasion for them, they must be dear to you. Remember what Poor Richard says, 'Buy what thou hast no need of, and erelong thou shalt sell thy necessaries.' And again, 'At a great pennyworth pause awhile;' he means, that perhaps the cheapness is apparent only, and not real; or the bargain, by straitening thee in thy business, may do thee more harm than good. For in another place he says, 'Many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths.' Again, 'It is foolish to lay out money in a purchase of repentance;' and yet this folly is practiced every day at auctions, for want of minding the almanac. Many a one, for the sake of finery on the back, have gone with a hungry belly, and half starved their families; 'Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen fire,' as Poor Richard says. These are not the necessaries of life; they can scarcely be called the conveniences; and yet, only because they look pretty, how many want to have them? By these and other extravagances, the greatest are reduced to poverty, and forced to borrow of those whom they formerly despised, but who, through industry and frugality, have maintained their standing; in which case it appears plainly, that 'A plowman on his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees,' as Poor Richard says. Perhaps they have had a small estate left them, which they knew not the getting of; they think 'It is day, and will never be night;' that a little to be spent out of so much is not worth minding; but 'Always taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom,' as Poor Richard says; and then, 'When the well is dry, they know the worth of water.' But this they might have known before, if they had taken his advice. 'If you would know the value of money, go and try to borrow some; for he that goes a borrowing, goes a sorrowing,' as Poor Richard says; and, indeed, so does he that lends to such people, when he goes to get it in again. Poor Dick farther advises, and says,
"'Fond pride of dress is sure a very curse; Ere fancy you consult, consult your purse.'
And again, 'Pride is as loud a beggar as Want, and a great deal more saucy.' When you have bought one fine thing, you must buy ten more, that your appearance may be all of a piece; but Poor Dick says, 'It is easier to suppress the first desire, than to satisfy all that follow it.' And it is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as for the frog to swell in order to equal the ox.
"'Vessels large may venture more, But little boats should keep near shore.'
It is, however, a folly soon punished; for, as Poor Richard says, 'Pride that dines on vanity, sups on contempt; Pride breakfasted with Plenty, dined with Poverty, and supped with Infamy.' And after all, of what use is this pride of appearance, for which so much is risked, so much is suffered? It can not promote health, nor ease pain; it makes no increase of merit in the person; it creates envy, it hastens misfortune.
"But what madness it must be to run in debt for these superfluities! We are offered by the terms of this sale six months' credit; and that, perhaps, has induced some of us to attend it, because we can not spare the ready money, and hope, now to be fine without it. But, ah! think what you do when you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty. If you can not pay at the time, you will be ashamed to see your creditor; you will be in fear when you speak to him; you will make poor, pitiful, sneaking excuses, and, by degrees, come to lose your veracity, and sink into base downright lying; for 'The second vice is lying, the first is running in debt,' as Poor Richard says; and again, to the same purpose, 'Lying rides upon debt's back;' whereas a freeborn Englishman ought not to be ashamed nor afraid to see or speak to any man living. But poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue. 'It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.' What would you think of that prince, or of that government, who should issue an edict forbidding you to dress like a gentleman or gentlewoman, on pain of imprisonment or servitude? Would you not say that you were free, have a right to dress as you please, and that such an edict would be a breach of your privileges, and such a government tyrannical? and yet you are about to put yourself under that tyranny when you run in debt for such dress! Your creditor has authority, at his pleasure, to deprive you of your liberty, by confining you in jail for life, or by selling you for a servant, if you should not be able to pay him. When you have got your bargain, you may, perhaps, think little of payment; but, as Poor Richard says, 'Creditors have better memories than debtors; creditors are a superstitious sect, great observers of days and times.' The day comes round before you are aware, and the demand is made before you are prepared to satisfy it; or, if you bear your debt in mind, the term, which at first seemed so long, will, as it lessens, appear extremely short: Time will seem to have added wings to his heels as well as his shoulders. 'Those have a short Lent, who owe money to be paid at Easter.' At present, perhaps, you may think yourselves in thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance without injury; but
"'For age and want save while you may, No morning sun lasts a whole day.'
"Gain may be temporary and uncertain; but ever, while you live, expense is constant and certain; and 'It is easier to build two chimneys than to keep one in fuel,' as Poor Richard says: so, 'Rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt.'
"'Get what you can, and what you get hold, 'Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold.'
And, when you have got the philosopher's stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes.
"IV. This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom; but, after all, do riot depend too much upon your own industry and frugality and prudence, though excellent things; for they may all be blasted without the blessing of Heaven; and, therefore, ask that blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want it, but comfort and help them. Remember Job suffered, and was afterwards prosperous.
"And now to conclude, 'Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other,' as Poor Richard says, and scarce in that; for it is true, 'We may give advice, but we can not give conduct.' However, remember this, 'They that will not be counseled, can not be helped;' and farther, that, 'If you will not hear reason, she will surely rap your knuckles,' as Poor Richard says."
Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue. The people heard it, and approved the doctrine, and immediately practiced the contrary, just as if it had been a common sermon; for the auction opened, and they began to buy extravagantly. I found the good man had thoroughly studied my Almanac, and digested all I had dropped on these topics during the course of twenty-five years. The frequent mention he made of me must have tired any one else; but my vanity was wonderfully delighted with it, though I was conscious that not a tenth part of the wisdom was my own which he ascribed to me; but rather the gleanings that I had made of the sense of all ages and nations. However, I resolved to be the better for the echo of it; and, though I had at first determined to buy stuff for a new coat, I went away, resolved to wear my old one a little longer. Reader, if thou wilt do the same, thy profit will be as great as mine. I am, as ever, thine to serve thee,
This quaint address made a brilliant hit. It was at once printed on large sheets, framed, and hung up in cottages in England, as well as in this country. It was also translated into French, Spanish, and modern Greek. At the present day, however, it is not often met with, except in the author's collected works, or in fragments; and the young reader, especially, will be thankful to find it here in full.
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DEFENSE OF A GREAT MAN.
WAS DR. FRANKLIN MEAN?—JAMES PARTON'S ANSWER.
A man of no enviable notoriety is reported to have spoken of Dr. Franklin as "hard, calculating, angular, unable to comprehend any higher object than the accumulation of money." Not a few people who profess much admiration for Franklin in other respects seem to think that in money matters there was something about him akin to meanness. To correct this false impression and show "how Franklin got his money, how much he got, and what he did with it," one of his recent biographers is called up in his defense, and to the question, "Was Dr. Franklin mean?" here is
JAMES PARTON'S ANSWER.
I will begin with the first pecuniary transaction in which he is known to have been concerned, and this shall be given in his own words:
"When I was a child of seven years old my friends, on a holiday, filled my pockets with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children, and, being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one."
That was certainly not the act of a stingy, calculating boy.
His next purchase, of which we have any knowledge was made when he was about eleven years old; and this time, I confess, he made a much better bargain. The first book he could ever call his own was a copy of Pilgrim's Progress, which he read and re-read until he got from it all so young a person could understand. But being exceedingly fond of reading, he exchanged his Pilgrim's Progress for a set of little books, then much sold by peddlers, called "Burton's Historical Collections," in forty paper-covered volumes, containing history, travels, tales, wonders, and curiosities, just the thing for a boy. As we do not know the market value of his Pilgrim's Progress, we can not tell whether the poor peddler did well by him or the contrary. But it strikes me that that is not the kind of barter in which a mean, grasping boy usually engages.
His father being a poor soap-and-candle maker, with a dozen children or more to support or assist, and Benjamin being a printer's apprentice, he was more and more puzzled to gratify his love of knowledge. But one day he hit upon an expedient that brought in a little cash. By reading a vegetarian book this hard, calculating Yankee lad had been led to think that people could live better without meat than with it, and that killing innocent animals for food was cruel and wicked. So he abstained from meat altogether for about two years. As this led to some inconvenience at his boarding-house, he made this cunning proposition to his master:
"Give me one-half the money you pay for my board and I will board myself."
The master consenting, the apprentice lived entirely on such things as hominy, bread, rice, and potatoes, and found that he could actually live upon half of the half. What did the calculating wretch do with the money? Put it into his money-box? No; he laid it out in the improvement of his mind.
When at the age of seventeen, he landed in Philadelphia, a runaway apprentice, he had one silver dollar and one shilling in copper coin. It was a fine Sunday morning, as probably the reader remembers, and he knew not a soul in the place. He asked the boatmen upon whose boat he had come down the Delaware how much he had to pay. They answered, Nothing, because he had helped them row. Franklin, however, insisted upon their taking his shilling's worth of coppers, and forced the money upon them. An hour after, having bought three rolls for his breakfast, he ate one and gave the other two to a poor woman and her child who had been his fellow-passengers. These were small things, you may say; but remember he was a poor, ragged, dirty runaway in a strange town, four hundred miles from a friend, with three pence gone out of the only dollar he had in the world.
Next year when he went home to see his parents, with his pocket full of money, a new suit of clothes and a watch, one of his oldest Boston friends was so much pleased with Franklin's account of Philadelphia that he determined to go back with him. On the journey Franklin discovered that his friend had become a slave to drink. He was sorely plagued and disgraced by him, and at last the young drunkard had spent all his money and had no way of getting on except by Franklin's aid. This hard, calculating, mercenary youth, did he seize the chance of shaking off a most troublesome and injurious traveling companion? Strange to relate, he stuck to his old friend, shared his purse with him till it was empty, and then began on some money which he had been intrusted with for another, and so got him to Philadelphia, where he still assisted him. It was seven years before Franklin was able to pay all the debt incurred by him to aid this old friend, for abandoning whom few would have blamed him.
A year after he was in still worse difficulty from a similar cause. He went to London to buy types and a press with which to establish himself in business at Philadelphia, the governor of Pennsylvania having promised to furnish the money. One of the passengers on the ship was a young friend of Franklin's named James Ralph, with whom he had often studied, and of whom he was exceedingly fond. Ralph gave out that he, too, was going to London to make arrangements for going into business for himself at Philadelphia. The young friends arrived. Franklin nineteen and Ralph a married man with two children. On reaching London Franklin learned, to his amazement and dismay, that the governor had deceived him, that no money was to be expected from him, and that he must go to work and earn his living at his trade. No sooner had he learned this than James Ralph gave him another piece of stunning intelligence; namely, that he had run away from his family and meant to settle in London as a poet and author.
Franklin had ten pounds in his pocket, and knew a trade. Ralph had no money, and knew no trade. They were both strangers in a strange city. Now, in such circumstances, what would a mean, calculating young man have done? Reader, you know very well, without my telling you. What Franklin did was this: he shared his purse with his friend till his ten pounds were all gone; and having at once got to work at his trade, he kept on dividing his wages with Ralph until he had advanced him thirty-six pounds—half a year's income—not a penny of which was ever repaid. And this he did—the cold-blooded wretch!—because he could not help loving his brilliant, unprincipled comrade, though disapproving his conduct and sadly needing his money.
Having returned to Philadelphia, he set up in business as a printer and editor, and, after a very severe effort, he got his business well established, and at last had the most profitable establishment of the kind in all America. During the most active part of his business life he always found some time for the promotion of public objects. He founded a most useful and public-spirited club; a public library, which still exists, and assisted in every worthy scheme. He was most generous to his poor relations, hospitable to his fellow-citizens, and particularly interested in his journeymen, many of whom he set up in business.
The most decisive proof, however, which he ever gave that he did not overvalue money, was the retirement from a most profitable business for the purpose of having leisure to pursue his philosophical studies. He had been in business twenty years, and he was still in the prime of life—forty-six years of age. He was making money faster than any other printer on this continent. But being exceedingly desirous of spending the rest of his days in study and experiment, and having saved a moderate competency, he sold his establishment to his foreman on very easy terms, and withdrew. His estate, when he retired, was worth about a hundred thousand dollars. If he had been a lover of money, I am confident that he could and would have accumulated one of the largest fortunes in America. He had nothing to do but continue in business, and take care of his investments, to roll up a prodigious estate. But not having the slightest taste for needless accumulation, he joyfully laid aside the cares of business, and spent the whole remainder of his life in the services of his country; for he gave up his heart's desire of devoting his leisure to philosophy when his country needed him.
Being in London when Captain Cook returned from his first voyage to the Pacific, he entered warmly into a beautiful scheme for sending a ship for the purpose of stocking the islands there with pigs, vegetables, and other useful animals and products. A hard, selfish man would have laughed such a project to scorn.
In 1776, when he was appointed embassador of the revolted colonies to the French king, the ocean swarmed with British cruisers, General Washington had lost New York, and the prospects of the Revolution were gloomy in the extreme. Dr. Franklin was an old man of seventy, and might justly have asked to be excused from a service so perilous and fatiguing. But he did not. He went. And just before he sailed he got together all the money he could raise—about three thousand pounds—and invested it in the loan recently announced by Congress. This he did at a moment when few men had a hearty faith in the success of the Revolution. This he did when he was going to a foreign country that might not receive him, from which he might be expelled, and he have no country to return to. There never was a more gallant and generous act done by an old man.
In France he was as much the main stay of the cause of his country as General Washington was at home.
Returning home after the war, he was elected president of Pennsylvania for three successive years, at a salary of two thousand pounds a year. But by this time he had become convinced that offices of honor, such as the governorship of a State, ought not to have any salary attached to them. He thought they should be filled by persons of independent income, willing to serve their fellow-citizens from benevolence, or for the honor of it. So thinking, he at first determined not to receive any salary; but this being objected to, he devoted the whole of the salary for three years—six thousand pounds—to the furtherance of public objects. Part of it he gave to a college, and part was set aside for the improvement of the Schuylkill River.
Never was an eminent man more thoughtful of people who were the companions of his poverty. Dr. Franklin, from amidst the splendors of the French court, and when he was the most famous and admired person in Europe, forgot not his poor old sister, Jane, who was in fact dependent on his bounty. He gave her a house in Boston, and sent her every September the money to lay in her Winter's fuel and provisions. He wrote her the kindest, wittiest, pleasantest letters. "Believe me, dear brother," she writes, "your writing to me gives me so much pleasure that the great, the very great, presents you have sent me give me but a secondary joy."
How exceedingly absurd to call such a man "hard" and miserly, because he recommended people not to waste their money! Let me tell you, reader, that if a man means to be liberal and generous, he must be economical. No people are so mean as the extravagant, because, spending all they have upon themselves, they have nothing left for others. Benjamin Franklin was the most consistently generous man of whom I have any knowledge.
* * * * *
SIR WALTER SCOTT AND HIS MOTHER.
THE MOTHER'S EDUCATION—THE SON'S TRAINING—DOMESTIC LOVE AND SOCIAL DUTIES.
It was in the Spring of 1758 that the daughter of a distinguished professor of medicine in the University of Edinburgh changed her maiden name of Rutherford for her married name of Scott, having the happiness to unite her lot with one who was not only a scrupulously honorable man, but who, from his youth up, had led a singularly blameless life. Well does Coventry Patmore sing:
"Who is the happy husband? He, Who, scanning his unwedded life, Thanks Heaven, with a conscience free, 'Twas faithful to his future wife."
Such a husband as this was the father of Sir Walter Scott, a writer to the signet (or lawyer) in large practice in Edinburgh. He had never been led from the right way; and when the less virtuously inclined among the companions of his early life in Edinburgh found that they could not corrupt him, they ceased after a little while to laugh at him, and learned to honor him and to confide in him, "which is certainly," says he who makes the record on the authority of Mrs. Scott herself, "a great inducement to young men in the outset of life to act a similar part." It does not appear that old Walter Scott sought for beauty of person in his bride, though no doubt the face he loved was more beautiful to him than that of the bonniest belle in Scotland; but beauty of mind and disposition she certainly had. Of her father it is told that, when in practice as "a physician, he never gave a prescription without silently invoking on it the blessing of Heaven, and the piety which dictated the custom had been inherited by his daughter.
THE MOTHER'S' EDUCATION.
Mrs. Scott's education, also, had been an excellent one—giving, besides a good general grounding, an acquaintance with literature, and not neglecting "the more homely duties of the needle and the account-book." Her manners, moreover (an important and too often neglected factor in a mother's influence over her children), were finished and elegant, though intolerably stiff in some respects, when compared with the manners and habits of to-day. The maidens of today can scarcely realize, for instance, the asperity of the training of their embryo great-grandmothers, who were always made to sit in so Spartanly upright a posture that Mrs. Scott, in her seventy-ninth year, boasted that she had never allowed her shoulders to touch the back of her chair!
THE SON'S TRAINING.
As young Walter was one of many children he could not, of course, monopolize his mother's attention; but probably she recognized the promise of his future greatness (unlike the mother of the duke of Wellington, who thought Arthur the family dunce), and gave him a special care; for, speaking of his early boyhood, he tells us: "I found much consolation in the partiality of my mother." And he goes on to say that she joined to a light and happy temper of mind a strong turn to study poetry and works of imagination. Like the mothers of the Ettrick Shepherd and of Burns, she repeated to her son the traditionary ballads she knew by heart; and, so soon as he was sufficiently advanced, his leisure hours were usually spent in reading Pope's translation of Homer aloud to her, which, with the exception of a few ballads and some of Allan Ramsay's songs, was the first poetry he made acquaintance with. It must often have been with anxiety, and sometimes not without a struggle, that his mother—solicitous about every trifle which affected the training of her child—decided on the books which she was to place in his hands. She wished him to develop his intellectual faculties, but not at the expense of his spiritual; and romantic frivolity and mental dissipation on the one hand, and a too severe repression—dangerous in its after reaction—on the other, were the Scylla and Charybdis between which she had to steer. The ascetic Puritanism of her training and surroundings would naturally have led her to the narrower and more restrictive view, in which her husband, austerer yet, would have heartily concurred; but her broad sense, quickened by the marvelous insight that comes from maternal love, led her to adopt the broader, and, we may safely add, with Sir Walter's career and character before us, the better course. Her courage was, however, tempered with a wise discretion; and when he read to her she was wont, he says, to make him "pause upon those passages which expressed generous and worthy sentiments"—a most happy method of education, and a most effective one in the case of an impressionable boy. A little later, when he passed from the educational care of his mother to that of a tutor, his relations to literature changed, as the following passage from his autobiography will show: "My tutor thought it almost a sin to open a profane play or poem; and my mother had no longer the opportunity to hear me read poetry as formerly. I found, however, in her dressing-room, where I slept at one time, some odd volumes of Shakespeare; nor can I easily forget the rapture with which I sat up in my shirt reading them by the light of a fire in her apartment, until the bustle of the family rising from supper warned me that it was time to creep back to my bed, where I was supposed to have been safely deposited since 9 o'clock." This is a suggestive, as well as frank, story. Supposing for a moment that instead of Shakespeare the room had contained some of the volumes of verse and romance which, though denying alike the natural and the supernatural virtues, are to be found in many a Christian home, how easily might he have suffered a contamination of mind.
DOMESTIC LOVE AND SOCIAL DUTY.
It has been proudly said of Sir Walter as an author that he never forgot the sanctities of domestic love and social duty in all that he wrote; and considering how much he did write, and how vast has been the influence of his work on mankind, we can scarcely overestimate the importance of the fact. Yet it might have been all wrecked by one little parental imprudence in this matter of books. And what excuse is there, after all, for running the terrible risk? Authors who are not fit to be read by the sons and daughters are rarely read without injury by the fathers and mothers; and it would be better by far, Savonarola-like, to make a bonfire of all the literature of folly, wickedness, and infidelity, than run the risk of injuring a child simply for the sake of having a few volumes more on one's shelves. In the balance of heaven there is no parity between a complete library and a lost soul. But this story has another lesson. It indicates once more the injury which may be done to character by undue limitations. Under the ill-considered restrictions of his tutor, which ran counter to the good sense of his mother, whose wisdom was justified by the event, Walter Scott might easily have fallen into tricks of concealment and forfeited his candor—that candor which developed into the noble probity which marked his conduct to the last. Without candor there can not be truth, and, as he himself has said, there can be no other virtue without truth. Fortunately for him, by the wise sanction his mother had given to his perusal of imaginative writings, she had robbed them of a mystery unhealthy in itself; and he came through these stolen readings substantially unharmed, because he knew that his fault was only the lighter one of sitting up when he was supposed to be lying down.
Luckily this tutor's stern rule did not last long; and when a severe illness attacked the youth (then advanced to be a student at Edinburgh College) and brought him under his mother's charge once more, the bed on which he lay was piled with a constant succession of works of imagination, and he was allowed to find consolation in poetry and romance, those fountains which flow forever for the ardent and the young. It was in relation to Mrs. Scott's control of her son's reading that he wrote with gratitude, late in life, "My mother had good natural taste and great feeling." And after her death, in a letter to a friend, he paid her this tribute: "She had a mind peculiarly well stored. If I have been able to do any thing in the way of painting the past times, it is very much from the studies with which she presented me. She was a strict economist, which, she said, enabled her to be liberal. Out of her little income of about fifteen hundred dollars a year, she bestowed at least a third in charities; yet I could never prevail on her to accept of any assistance." Her charity, as well as her love for genealogy, and her aptitude for story-telling, was transmitted to her son. It found expression in him, not only in material gifts to the poor, but in a conscientious care and consideration for the feelings of others. This trait is beautifully exhibited by many of the facts recorded by Lockhart in his famous memoir, and also by a little incident, not included there, which I have heard Sir Henry Taylor tell, and which, besides illustrating the subject, deserves for its own sake a place in print. The great and now venerable author of "Philip Van Artevelde" dined at Abbotsford only a year or two before the close of its owner's life. Sir Walter had then lost his old vivacity, though not his simple dignity; but for one moment during the course of the evening he rose into animation, and it happened thus: There was a talk among the party of an excursion which was to be made on the following day, and during the discussion of the plans Miss Scott mentioned that two elderly maiden ladies, living in the neighborhood, were to be of the number, and hinted that their company would be a bore. The chivalrous kindliness of her father's heart was instantly aroused. "I can not call that good-breeding," he said, in an earnest and dignified tone—a rebuke which echoed the old-fashioned teaching on the duties of true politeness he had heard from his mother half a century before.
We would gladly know more than we do of Mrs. Scott's attitude toward her son when first his penchant for authorship was shown. That she smiled on his early evidences of talent, and fostered them, we may well imagine; and the tenderness with which she regarded his early compositions is indicated by the fact that a copy of verses, written in a boyish scrawl, was carefully preserved by her, and found, after her death, folded in a paper on which was inscribed, "My Walter's first lines, 1782." That she gloried in his successes when they came, we gather; for when speaking late in life to Dr. Davy about his brother Sir Humphrey's distinction, Sir Walter, doubtless drawing on his own home memories, remarked, "I hope, Dr. Davy, that your mother lived to see it; there must have been great pleasure in that to her." But with whatever zeal Mrs. Scott may have unfolded Sir Walter's mind by her training, by her praise, by her motherly enthusiasm, it is certain that, from first to last, she loved his soul, and sought its interest, in and above all. Her final present to him before she died was not a Shakespeare or a Milton, but an old Bible—the book she loved best; and for her sake Sir Walter loved it too.
Happy was Mrs. Scott in having a son who in all things reciprocated the affection of his mother. With the first five-guinea fee he earned at the bar he bought a present for her—a silver taper-stand, which stood on her mantle-piece many a year; when he became enamored of Miss Carpenter he filially wrote to consult his mother about the attachment, and to beg her blessing upon it; when, in 1819, she died at an advanced age, he was in attendance at her side, and, full of occupations though he was, we find him busying himself to obtain for her body a beautifully situated grave. Thirteen years later he also rested from his labors. During the last hours of his lingering life he desired to be read to from the New Testament; and when his memory for secular poetry had entirely failed him, the words and the import of the sacred volume were still in his recollection, as were also some of the hymns of his childhood, which his grandson, aged six years, repeated to him. "Lockhart," he said to his son-in-law, "I have but a minute to speak to you. My dear, be a good man; be virtuous, be religious, be a good man. Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie here."
So passed the great author of "Waverley" away. And when, in due course, his executors came to search for his testament, and lifted up his desk, "we found," says one of them, "arranged in careful order a series of little objects, which had obviously been so placed there that his eye might rest on them every morning before he began his tasks." There were the old-fashioned boxes that had garnished his mother's toilet-table when he, a sickly child, slept in her dressing-room; the silver taper-stand which the young advocate bought for her with his first fee; a row of small packets inscribed by her hand, and containing the hair of such of her children as had died before her; and more odds and ends of a like sort—pathetic tokens of a love which bound together for a little while here on earth, and binds together for evermore in heaven, Christian mother and son.
Sir Walter of the land Of song and old romance, Tradition in his cunning hand Obedient as the lance
His valiant Black Knight bore, Wove into literature The legend, myth, and homely lore Which now for us endure,
To charm our weary hours, To rouse our stagnant hearts, And leave the sense of new-born powers, Which never more departs.
We thank him in the name Of One who sits on high, And aye abides in every fame Which makes a brighter sky.
* * * * *
(BORN 1744—DIED 1818.)
THE WIFE OF OUR SECOND PRESIDENT—THE MOTHER OF OUR SIXTH.
Abigail Smith, the daughter of a Congregational minister, of Weymouth, Massachusetts, was one of the most noted women of our early history. She left a record of her heart and character, and to some extent a picture of the stirring times in which she lived, in the shape of letters which are of perennial value, especially to the young. "It was fashionable to ridicule female learning" in her day; and she says of herself in one of her letters, "I was never sent to any school." She adds in explanation, "I was always sick." When girls, however, were sent to school, their education seldom went beyond writing and arithmetic. But in spite of disadvantages, she read and studied in private, and by means of correspondence with relatives and others, cultivated her mind, and formed an easy and graceful style of writing.
On the 25th of October, 1764, Miss Smith became the wife of John Adams, a lawyer of Braintree, the part of the town in which he lived being afterwards called Quincy, in honor of Mrs. Adams's maternal grandfather. Charles Francis Adams, her grandson, from whose memoir of her the material for this brief sketch is drawn, says that the ten years immediately following her marriage present little that is worth recording.
But when the days of the Revolution came on, those times that tried men's souls, women were by no means exempt from tribulation, and they, too, began to make history. The strength of Mrs. Adams's affection for her husband may be learned from an extract from one of her letters: "I very well remember when Eastern circuits of the courts, which lasted a month, were thought an age, and an absence of three months intolerable; but we are carried from step to step, and from one degree to another, to endure that which we at first think impossible."
In 1778 her husband went as one of the commissioners to France. During his absence Mrs. Adams managed, as she had often done before, both the household and the farm—a true wife and mother of the Revolution. "She was a farmer cultivating the land, and discussing the weather and the crops; a merchant reporting prices current and the rates of exchange, and directing the making up of invoices; a politician speculating upon the probabilities of peace and war; and a mother writing the most exalted sentiments to her son."
John Quincy Adams, the son, in his twelfth year, was with his father in Europe. The following extracts are from letters to him, dated 1778-80:
"'Tis almost four months since you left your native land, and embarked upon the mighty waters, in quest of a foreign country. Although I have not particularly written to you since, yet you may be assured you have constantly been upon my heart and mind.
"It is a very difficult task, my dear son, for a tender parent to bring her mind to part with a child of your years going to a distant land; nor could I have acquiesced in such a separation under any other care than that of the most excellent parent and guardian who accompanied you. You have arrived at years capable of improving under the advantages you will be likely to have, if you do but properly attend to them. They are talents put into your hands, of which an account will be required of you hereafter; and being possessed of one, two, or four, see to it that you double your numbers.
"The most amiable and most useful disposition in a young mind is diffidence of itself; and this should lead you to seek advice and instruction from him who is your natural guardian, and will always counsel and direct you in the best manner, both for your present and future happiness. You are in possession of a natural good understanding, and of spirits unbroken by adversity and untamed with care. Improve your understanding by acquiring useful knowledge and virtue, such as will render you an ornament to society, an honor to your country, and a blessing to your parents. Great learning and superior abilities, should you ever possess them, will be of little value and small estimation unless virtue, honor, truth, and integrity are added to them. Adhere to those religious sentiments and principles which were early instilled into your mind, and remember that you are accountable to your Maker for all your words and actions.
"Let me enjoin it upon you to attend constantly and steadfastly to the precepts and instructions of your father, as you value the happiness of your mother and your own welfare. His care and attention to you render many things unnecessary for me to write, which I might otherwise do; but the inadvertency and heedlessness of youth require line upon line and precept upon precept, and, when enforced by the joint efforts of both parents, will, I hope, have a due influence upon your conduct; for, dear as you are to me, I would much rather you should have found your grave in the ocean you have crossed, or that any untimely death crop you in your infant years, than see you an immoral, profligate, or graceless child.
"You have entered early in life upon the great theater of the world, which is full of temptations and vice of every kind. You are not wholly unacquainted with history, in which you have read of crimes which your inexperienced mind could scarcely believe credible. You have been taught to think of them with horror, and to view vice as
'A monster of so frightful mien, That, to be hated, needs but to be seen.'
"Yet you must keep a strict guard upon yourself, or the odious monster will soon lose its terror by becoming familiar to you. The modern history of our own times furnishes as black a list of crimes as can be paralleled in ancient times, even if we go back to Nero, Caligula, or Caesar Borgia. Young as you are, the cruel war into which we have been compelled by the haughty tyrant of Britain and the bloody emissaries of his vengeance, may stamp upon your mind this certain truth, that the welfare and prosperity of all countries, communities, and, I may add, individuals, depend upon their morals. That nation to which we were once united, as it has departed from justice" eluded and subverted the wise laws which formerly governed it, and suffered the worst of crimes to go unpunished, has lost its valor, wisdom, and humanity, and, from being the dread and terror of Europe, has sunk into derision and infamy....
"Some author, that I have met with, compares a judicious traveler to a river, that increases its stream the further it flows from its source; or to certain springs, which, running through rich veins of minerals, improve their qualities as they pass along. It will be expected of you, my son, that, as you are favored with superior advantages under the instructive eye of a tender parent, your improvement should bear some proportion to your advantages. Nothing is wanting with you but attention, diligence, and steady application. Nature has not been deficient.
"These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. Would Cicero have shone so distinguished an orator if he had not been roused, kindled, and inflamed by the tyranny of Catiline, Verres, and Mark Antony? The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. All history will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruit of experience, not the lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities, which would otherwise lie dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and statesman. War, tyranny, and desolation are the scourges of the Almighty, and ought no doubt to be deprecated. Yet it is your lot, my son, to be an eye-witness of these calamities in your own native land, and, at the same time, to owe your existence among a people who have made a glorious defense of their invaded liberties, and who, aided by a generous and powerful ally, with the blessing of Heaven, will transmit this inheritance to ages yet unborn.
"Nor ought it to be one of the least of your incitements towards exerting every power and faculty of your mind, that you have a parent who has taken so large and active a share in this contest, and discharged the trust reposed in him with so much satisfaction as to be honored with the important embassy which at present calls him abroad.
"The strict and inviolable regard you have ever paid to truth gives me pleasing hopes that you will not swerve from her dictates, but add justice, fortitude, and every manly virtue which can adorn a good citizen, do honor to your country, and render your parents supremely happy, particularly your ever affectionate mother.
... "The only sure and permanent foundation of virtue is religion. Let this important truth be engraven upon your heart. And also, that the foundation of religion is the belief of the one only God, and a just sense of his attributes, as a being infinitely wise, just, and good, to whom you owe the highest reverence, gratitude, and adoration; who superintends and governs all nature, even to clothing the lilies of the field, and hearing the young ravens when they cry; but more particularly regards man, whom he created after his own image, and breathed into him an immortal spirit, capable of a happiness beyond the grave; for the attainment of which he is bound to the performance of certain duties, which all tend to the happiness and welfare of society, and are comprised in one short sentence, expressive of universal benevolence, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'
"Justice, humanity, and benevolence, are the duties you owe to society in general. To your country the same duties are incumbent upon you, with the additional obligation of sacrificing ease, pleasure, wealth, and life itself for its defense and security. To your parents you owe love, reverence, and obedience to all just and equitable commands. To yourself,—here, indeed, is a wide field to expatiate upon. To become what you ought to be, and what a fond mother wishes to see you, attend to some precepts and instructions from the pen of one who can have no motive but your welfare and happiness, and who wishes in this way to supply to you the personal watchfulness and care which a separation from you deprived you of at a period of life when habits are easiest acquired and fixed; and though the advice may not be new, yet suffer it to obtain a place in your memory, for occasions may offer, and perhaps some concurring circumstances unite, to give it weight and force.
"Suffer me to recommend to you one of the most useful lessons of life—the knowledge and study of yourself. There you run the greatest hazard of being deceived. Self-love and partiality cast a mist before the eyes, and there is no knowledge so hard to be acquired, nor of more benefit when once thoroughly understood. Ungoverned passions have aptly been compared to the boisterous ocean, which is known to produce the most terrible effects. 'Passions are the elements of life,' but elements which are subject to the control of reason. Whoever will candidly examine themselves, will find some degree of passion, peevishness, or obstinacy in their natural tempers. You will seldom find these disagreeable ingredients all united in one; but the uncontrolled indulgence of either is sufficient to render the possessor unhappy in himself, and disagreeable to all who are so unhappy as to be witnesses of it, or suffer from its effects.
"You, my dear son, are formed with a constitution feelingly alive; your passions are strong and impetuous; and, though I have sometimes seen them hurry you into excesses, yet with pleasure I have observed a frankness and generosity accompany your efforts to govern and subdue them. Few persons are so subject to passion but that they can command themselves when they have a motive sufficiently strong; and those who are most apt to transgress will restrain themselves through respect and reverence to superiors, and even, where they wish to recommend themselves, to their equals. The due government of the passions has been considered in all ages as a most valuable acquisition. Hence an inspired writer observes, 'He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he than taketh a city.' This passion, co-operating with power, and unrestrained by reason, has produced the subversion of cities, the desolation of countries, the massacre of nations, and filled the world with injustice and oppression. Behold your own country, your native land, suffering from the effects of lawless power and malignant passions, and learn betimes, from your own observation and experience, to govern and control yourself. Having once obtained this self-government, you will find a foundation laid for happiness to yourself and usefulness to mankind. 'Virtue alone is happiness below;' and consists in cultivating and improving every good inclination, and in checking and subduing every propensity to evil. I have been particular upon the passion of anger, as it is generally the most predominant passion at your age, the soonest excited, and the least pains are taken to subdue it;
'What composes man, can man destroy.'"
With such a mother to counsel him, one is led to ask, how could John Quincy Adams help becoming a noble-minded and great man? Who wonders that, with good natural endowments and his excellent privileges, coupled with maternal training, he fitted himself to fill the highest office in the gift of a free people?
In June, 1784, Mrs. Adams sailed for London, to join her husband, who was then our Minister at the Court of St. James. While absent, she visited France and Netherlands; resided for a time in the former country; and returned with her knowledge of human nature, of men, manners, etc., enlarged; disgusted with the splendor and sophistications of royalty, and well prepared to appreciate the republican simplicity and frankness of which, she was herself a model. While Mr. Adams was Vice-president and President, she never laid aside her singleness of heart and that sincerity and unaffected dignity which had won for her many friends before her elevation, and which, in spite of national animosity, conquered the prejudices and gained the heart of the aristocracy of Great Britain. But her crowning virtue was her Christian humility, which is beautifully exemplified in a letter which she wrote to Mr. Adams, on the 8th of February, 1797, "the day on which the votes for President were counted, and Mr. Adams, as Vice-president, was required by law to announce himself the President elect for the ensuing term:"
"'The sun is dressed in brightest beams, To give thy honors to the day.'
"And may it prove an auspicious prelude to each ensuing season. You have this day to declare yourself head of a nation. 'And now, O Lord, my God, thou hast made thy servant ruler over the people. Give unto him an understanding heart, that he may know how to go out and come in before this great people; that he may discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge this thy so great a people?' were the words of a royal sovereign; and not less applicable to him who is invested with the chief magistracy of a nation, though he wear not a crown nor the robes of royalty.
"My thoughts and my meditations are with you, though personally absent; and my petitions to Heaven are, that 'the things which make for peace may not be hidden from your eyes.' My feelings are not those of pride or ostentation, upon the occasion. They are solemnized by a sense of the obligations, the important trusts, and numerous duties connected with it. That you may be enabled to discharge them with honor to yourself, with justice and impartiality to your country, and with satisfaction to this great people, shall be the daily prayer of your A.A."
From her husband's retirement from the Presidency in 1801, to the close of her life in 1818, Mrs. Adams remained constantly at Quincy. Cheerful, contented, and happy, she devoted her last years, in that rural seclusion, to the reciprocities of friendship and love, to offices of kindness and charity, and, in short, to all those duties which tend to ripen the Christian for an exchange of worlds.
But it would be doing injustice to her character and leaving one of her noblest deeds unrecorded, to close without mentioning the influence for good which she exerted over Mr. Adams, and her part in the work of making him what he was. That he was sensible of the benignant influence of wives, may be gathered from the following letter, which was addressed to Mrs. Adams from Philadelphia, on the 11th of August, 1777:
"I think I have sometimes observed to you in conversation, that upon examining the biography of illustrious men you will generally find some female about them, in the relation of mother or wife or sister, to whose instigation a great part of their merit is to be ascribed. You will find a curious example of this in the case of Aspasia, the wife of Pericles. She was a woman of the greatest beauty and the first genius. She taught him, it is said, his refined maxims of policy, his lofty imperial eloquence, nay, even composed the speeches on which so great a share of his reputation was founded.
"I wish some of our great men had such wives. By the account in your last letter, it seems the women in Boston begin to think themselves able to serve their country. What a pity it is that our generals in the northern districts had not Aspasias to their wives!
"I believe the two Howes have not very great women to their wives. If they had, we should suffer more from their exertions than we do. This is our good fortune. A smart wife would have put Howe in possession of Philadelphia a long time ago."
While Mr. Adams was wishing that some of our great men had such wives as Aspasia, he had such a wife, was himself such a man, and owed half his greatness to his Aspasia. The exalted patriotism and cheerful piety infused into the letters she addressed to him during the long night of political uncertainty that hung over the country, strengthened his courage, fired his nobler feelings, nerved his higher purposes, and, doubtless, greatly contributed to make him one of the chief pillars of the young republic. All honor to a brave wife, and not less heroic mother. If her husband and son kept the ship of state from the rocks, the light which guided them was largely from her.
Heroic wife and mother, Whose days were toil and grace, Thy glory gleams for many another, And shines in many a face.
The heart, as of a nation, Throbs with thy tender love; And all our drama of salvation Thou watchest from above.
Our days, which yet are evil, And only free in part, Have need of things with Heaven co-eval, Of Faith's unbounded heart.
God grant the times approaching Be full of glad events, No unheroic aims reproaching Our line of Presidents.
* * * * *
WHAT THEY GOT OUT OF LIFE.
It was just two o'clock of one of the warmest of the July afternoons. Mrs. Hill had her dinner all over, had put on her clean cap and apron, and was sitting on the north porch, making an unbleached cotton shirt for Mr. Peter Hill, who always wore unbleached shirts at harvest-time. Mrs. Hill was a thrifty housewife. She had pursued this economical avocation for some little time, interrupting herself only at times to "shu!" away the flocks of half-grown chickens that came noisily about the door for the crumbs from the table-cloth, when the sudden shutting down of a great blue cotton umbrella caused her to drop her work, and exclaim:
"Well, now, Mrs. Troost! who would have thought you ever would come to see me!"
"Why, I have thought a great many times I would come," said the visitor, stamping her little feet—for she was a little woman—briskly on the blue flag-stones, and then dusting them nicely with her white cambric handkerchief, before venturing on the snowy floor of Mrs. Hill. And, shaking hands, she added, "It has been a good while, for I remember when I was here last I had my Jane with me—quite a baby then, if you mind—and she is three years old now."
"Is it possible?" said Mrs. Hill, untying the bonnet-strings of her neighbor, who sighed as she continued, "Yes, she was three along in February;" and she sighed again, more heavily than before, though there was no earthly reason that I know of why she should sigh, unless, perhaps, the flight of time, thus brought to mind, suggested the transitory nature of human things.
Mrs. Hill laid the bonnet of Mrs. Troost on her "spare bed," and covered it with a little pale-blue crape shawl, kept especially for such occasions; and, taking from the drawer of the bureau a large fan of turkey feathers, she presented it to her guest, saying, "A very warm day, isn't it?"
"O, dreadful, dreadful! It seems as hot as a bake oven; and I suffer with the heat all Summer, more or less. But it's a world of suffering;" and Mrs. Troost half closed her eyes, as if to shut out the terrible reality.
"Hay-making requires sunshiny weather, you know; so we must put up with it," said Mrs. Hill; "besides, I can mostly find some cool place about the house; I keep my sewing here on the porch, and, as I bake my bread or cook my dinner, manage to catch it up sometimes, and so keep from getting overheated; and then, too, I get a good many stitches taken in the course of the day."
"This is a nice cool place—completely curtained with vines," said Mrs. Troost; and she sighed again. "They must have cost you a great deal of pains."
"O, no! no trouble at all; morning-glories grow themselves; they only require to be planted. I will save seed for you this Fall, and next Summer you can have your porch as shady as mine."
"And if I do, it would not signify," said Mrs. Troost; "I never get time to sit down from one week's end to another; besides, I never had any luck with vines. Some folks don't, you know."
Mrs. Hill was a woman of a short, plethoric habit; one that might be supposed to move about with little agility, and to find excessive warmth rather inconvenient; but she was of a happy, cheerful temperament; and when it rained she tucked up her skirts, put on thick shoes, and waddled about the same as ever, saying to herself, "This will make the grass grow," or, "It will bring on the radishes," or something else equally consolatory.
Mrs. Troost, on the contrary, was a little thin woman, who looked as though she could move about nimbly at any .season; but, as she herself often said, she was a poor, unfortunate creature, and pitied herself a great deal, as she was in justice bound to do, for nobody else cared, she said, how much she had to bear.
They were near neighbors, these good women, but their social interchanges of tea-drinking were not of very frequent occurrence, for sometimes Mrs. Troost had nothing to wear like other folks; sometimes it was too hot and sometimes it was too cold; and then, again, nobody wanted to see her, and she was sure she didn't want to go where she wasn't wanted. Moreover, she had such a great barn of a house as no other woman ever had to take care of. But in all the neighborhood it was called the big house, so Mrs. Troost was in some measure compensated for the pains it cost her. It was, however, as she said, a barn of a place, with half the rooms unfurnished, partly because they had no use for them, and partly because they were unable to get furniture. So it stood right in the sun, with no shutters, and no trees about it, and Mrs. Troost said she didn't suppose it ever would have. She was always opposed to building it; but she never had her way about any thing. Nevertheless, some people said Mr. Troost had taken the dimensions of his house with his wife's apron-strings—but that may have been slander.
While Mrs. Troost sat sighing over things in general, Mrs. Hill sewed on the last button, and, shaking the loose threads from the completed garment, held it up a moment to take a satisfactory view, as it were, and folded it away.
"Well, did you ever!" said Mrs. Troost. "You have made half a shirt, and I have got nothing at all done. My hands sweat so I can not use the needle, and it's no use to try."
"Lay down your work for a little while, and we will walk in the garden."
So Mrs. Hill threw a towel over her head, and, taking a little tin basin in her hand, the two went to the garden—Mrs. Troost under the shelter of the blue umbrella, which she said was so heavy that it was worse than nothing. Beans, radishes, raspberries, and currants, besides many other things, were there in profusion, and Mrs. Troost said every thing flourished for Mrs. Hill, while her garden was all choked up with weeds. "And you have bees, too—don't they sting the children, and give you a great deal of trouble? Along in May, I guess it was, Troost [Mrs. Troost always called her husband so] bought a hive, or, rather, he traded a calf for one—a nice, likely calf, too, it was—and they never did us a bit of good;" and the unhappy woman sighed.
"They do say," said Mrs. Hill, sympathizingly, "that bees won't work for some folks; in case their king dies they are very likely to quarrel and not do well; but we have never had any ill luck with ours; and we last year sold forty dollars' worth of honey, besides having all we wanted for our own use. Did yours die off, or what, Mrs. Troost?"
"Why," said the ill-natured visitor, "my oldest boy got stung one day, and being angry, upset the hive, and I never found it out for two or three days; and, sending Troost to put it up in its place, there was not a bee to be found high or low."
"You don't tell! the obstinate little creatures! But they must be treated kindly, and I have heard of their going off for less things."
The basin was by this time filled with currants, and they returned to the house. Mrs. Hill, seating herself on the sill of the kitchen door, began to prepare her fruit for tea, while Mrs. Troost drew her chair near, saying, "Did you ever hear about William McMicken's bees?"
Mrs. Hill had never heard, and, expressing an anxiety to do so, was told the following story:
"His wife, you know, was she that was Sally May, and it's an old saying—
'To change the name and not the letter, You marry for worse and not for better.'
"Sally was a dressy, extravagant girl; she had her bonnet 'done up' twice a year always, and there was no end to her frocks and ribbons and fine things. Her mother indulged her in every thing; she used to say Sally deserved all she got; that she was worth her weight in gold. She used to go everywhere, Sally did. There was no big meeting that she was not at, and no quilting that she didn't help to get up. All the girls went to her for the fashions, for she was a good deal in town at her Aunt Hanner's, and always brought out the new patterns. She used to have her sleeves a little bigger than anybody else, you remember, and then she wore great stiffeners in them—la, me! there was no end to her extravagance.
"She had a changeable silk, yellow and blue, made with a surplus front; and when she wore that, the ground wasn't good enough for her to walk on, so some folks used to say; but I never thought Sally was a bit proud or lifted up; and if any body was sick there was no better-hearted creature than she; and then, she was always good-natured as the day was long, and would sing all the time at her work. I remember, along before she was married, she used to sing one song a great deal, beginning
'I've got a sweetheart with bright black eyes;'
and they said she meant William McMicken by that, and that she might not get him after all—for a good many thought they would never make a match, their dispositions were so contrary. William was of a dreadful quiet turn, and a great home body; and as for being rich, he had nothing to brag of, though he was high larnt and followed the river as dark sometimes."
Mrs. Hill had by this time prepared her currants, and Mrs. Troost paused from her story while she filled the kettle and attached the towel to the end of the well-sweep, where it waved as a signal for Peter to come to supper.
"Now, just move your chair a leetle nearer the kitchen door, if you please," said Mrs. Hill, "and I can make up my biscuit and hear you, too."
Meantime, coming to the door with some bread-crumbs in her hands, she began scattering them on the ground and calling, "Biddy, biddy, biddy—chicky, chicky, chicky"—hearing which, a whole flock of poultry was around her in a minute; and, stooping down, she secured one of the fattest, which, an hour afterward, was broiled for supper.
"Dear me, how easily you get along!" said Mrs. Troost.
And it was some time before she could compose herself sufficiently to take up the thread of her story. At length, however, she began with—
"Well, as I was saying, nobody thought William McMicken would marry Sally May. Poor man! they say he is not like himself any more. He may get a dozen wives, but he'll never get another Sally. A good wife she made him, for all she was such a wild girl.
"The old man May was opposed to the marriage, and threatened to turn Sally, his own daughter, out of house and home; but she was headstrong, and would marry whom she pleased; and so she did, though she never got a stitch of new clothes, nor one thing to keep house with. No; not one single thing did her father give her when she went away but a hive of bees. He was right down ugly, and called her Mrs. McMicken whenever he spoke to her after she was married; but Sally didn't seem to mind it, and took just as good care of the bees as though they were worth a thousand dollars. Every day in Winter she used to feed them—maple-sugar, if she had it; and if she had not, a little Muscovade in a saucer or some old broken dish.
"But it happened one day that a bee stung her on the hand—the right one, I think it was—and Sally said right away that it was a bad sign; and that very night she dreamed that she went out to feed her bees, and a piece of black crape was tied on the hive. She felt that it was a token of death, and told her husband so, and she told me and Mrs. Hanks. No, I won't be sure she told Mrs. Hanks, but Mrs. Hanks got to hear it some way."
"Well," said Mrs. Hill, wiping the tears away with her apron, "I really didn't know, till now, that poor Mrs. McMicken was dead."
"O, she is not dead," answered Mrs. Troost, "but as well as she ever was, only she feels that she is not long for this world." The painful interest of her story, however, had kept her from work, so the afternoon passed without her having accomplished much—she never could work when she went visiting.