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sighted, slovenly, losing, hand-to-mouth practices which are wasting the riches of the land.
The waking-up is quite amusing. To find that nobody perceives his own deficiencies, while everybody is taking great pains to make yours apparent; that your knowledge is considered among your chief disabilities; that you are, in short, looked upon as a pitiable ignoramus, stuffed only with useless fancies, offensive pride, silly fastidiousness, and childish love of trifles; that your grand farming theories are laughed at, and your social refinements viewed as indicating a sad lack of common sense and good feeling;—the blank and helpless sense of unfitness that comes over one under such circumstances is indescribable. This is always supposing that you are unequal to bodily labour. If you can chop or plough, there is confessed to be something of you, even though your ideas be silly. But if, coming from a land where head is all-powerful and hand only subservient, your muscles are feeble and your brain active, you must be content with the position of an inferior, and for awhile play the part of a child in the hands of older and wiser people.
This aspect of bush-life lacks the pleasant stimulant with which the imagination is apt to invest it. Where are the hunting and fishing which were to cheer your leisure hours? You have no leisure hours; and if you had, to spend them in hunting or fishing would set you down at once as a "loafer"—the last term of condemnation where everybody works all the time; lives to work rather than works to live. Your fine forest dreams give way before the necessity for " clearing." If you take a morning walk over the breezy hills, it will probably be in search of a stray cow; and you may find it necessary to prolong your stroll indefinitely, returning, under the blazing sun of noon, to dinner instead of breakfast. Your delightful, uninterrupted evenings, where so many books were to be devoured, in order to maintain a counter-influence to the homely toils of the day, must be sacrificed, perhaps, to sleep, in order to be ready for an early start in the morning, in search of additional "hands" at the threshing, or that most valuable and most slippery of all earthly goods in the new country—a "hired girl." If you chance to have an old friend undergoing a similar probation ten or twenty miles off, and feel a yearning desire to seek counsel or sympathy at his hands, be sure that after you have made up your mind to sacrifice everything to this coveted visit, which you feel will set you up in courage for a month to come, you will find you "cannot have the horses," without such a derangement of the business at home as would bespeak an insane disregard of your interest and lead your whole
dependency to look upon you as a fool past praying for.
Has new-country life, then, no pleasures! Many; but they are not exactly those we anticipate. To recur to the testimony with which our musings began.—" None can tell how dear the memory of that wild bush-life becomes to him who has tried it with a fitting tpirit!" And it could hardly become dear to the cultivated, if it were that mere dull, mechanical, animal, grabbing existence that some suppose it to be. Wherein then consists the charm? It is hard to specify; for, like other charms, it has something of inexplicable magic in it. We spend our lives, here, in weaving nets for ourselves, yet we delight to throw them off; even as the merchant who prides himself on the well-fitted coat, the neat cravat, the spotless gloves, the shining boots, in which he proceeds to his counting-house in the morning, enjoys with all his heart the privilege of exchanging them for the easy douillette, soft slippers, and general negligf of a quiet evening at home. Dress, and ceremony, and formal behaviour seem necessary in the city—teem, not are,—for humanity is more truly dignified than convention, and more effective in every way;—but in the woods we may follow nature—dress to be warm or to be easy, or to be picturesque, if we like, without shocking anybody. We have in town perhaps all the essentials of liberty; we are more alone and independent in a crowd than in a thinly settled neighbourhood;—but in the country we have the tense of liberty: the free breezes suggest it; the wide expanse of prospect; the unconstrained manners of those about us; the undisguised prominence of the common matters of daily life—so carefully kept out of sight in our anxious refinement—all remind us and seem to us symbolical of an ideal liberty. There are no fixed "business hours" or "visiting hours;" we may work all day if we like, or we may make a call at seven in the morning; and although we shall never care to do these particular things, it is yet pleasant to think we may do them. It is true, other people's large liberty sometimes infringes a little on ours; but after all, there is a vast surplus in our favour, since we have really more of it, with all chance deductions, than we know what to do with. The idea—the feeling—is the main thing. This is certainly the chief source of the fascination of a wild western life.
The inspiring influence of progress is however very potent in its way. To see everything about you constantly improving, is delightful. There is an impression of young, joyous life in such a state of society. As the breath and atmosphere of infancy is said to infuse new animal spirits into the sluggish veins of age, so the fresh movement of new-country life stirs the pulses of him who has long made part of a social system which claims to have discovered everything and settled everything, and to be resting on the result of past effort. If it be happiness to have all one's faculties in constant and profitable use, the dweller in the woods should be happy, for every day brings new calls upon his powers; upon his ingenuity, his industry, his patience, his energy. Let him be 'many-sided" or even "myriad-minded," he will find use for all his faculties; it is only onesided people—of whom there are, alas! so many!—who find bush-life intolerable.
This calling out of one's powers certainly gives a new aspect to many things that would seem intolerable if we were so placed as to depend on the services of others. There is something in human nature which glories in performance, be the matter ever so humble. We might stand by in irrepressible impatience to see another bungling at some expedient, which appears very tolerable when it is our own work, as we have seen a gentleman really vain-glorious of a garden-gate of his own manufacture, which he would have discharged a workman for making. We put a portion of our very selves into these rude specimens of our handiwork, and we love them with a most phternal affection as long as they last. Is not some of the ennui of life referable to a disregard of this hint of nature? Would not something of the vapidity of which the spoiled children of refinement complain be remedied by the habit of doing something for ourselves—. .iven if it were imperfectly done—instead of requiring the incessant intervention of servants and tradespeople V It would perhaps not be easy to find a rich man who is odd enough to keep an amateur work-bench, or a lady bold enough to perform some of the lighter household duties, suffering from that disgust of life which is the torture of some of the idle. It is at least certain that dyspepsia is a complaint unknown in the woods!
The enjoyment of health is then another of the pleasant things of true rustic life. We talk not of agues! They must be caught and let go again—endured and forgotten—before -ne can know how truly healthy our western country and its out-door habits are. Afttr one "acclimated, there is probably no more favourable climate for health and longevity in the temperate zones. No skies—not the boasted ones of Italy—are clearer; their transparency is even remarked, not only by Englishmen, but by our own countrymen from the Atlantic shores. The stars and the aurora seem brighter '.here than elsewhere, and a long succession )f brilliantly clear days is too common an occurrence to be noticed. This naturally contributes to good health and good spirits; and if
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people have sense enough to live with some attention to the laws of health, they may defy the druggist, and live till they drain existence to the lees, enjoying the draught more and more as years mellow its flavour.
Do our western population generally make as nruch of their health-privilege as they are sure to do of a "water-privilege?" Alas! where ague kills its units, hot bread, hot meat, pickles and strong tea—to say nothing of accursed whiskey—slay their tens of thousands. No people live so insanely as our western brethren; in truth, nothing but the kind and genial climate saves them from the complication of horrid ills which beset the gourmand in our old cities. Butter is considered rather more a necessary of life than bread; in fact that which we call bread is almost unknown in some regions, hot cakes supplying its place at every meal. The "staff of life," however, is tea—strong, green tea. This is usually taken, unless poverty forbid, with breakfast, dinner, and supper, and without milk or sugar. With this is eaten fried meat, almost universally (we speak throughout exclusively of country habits), fried and swimming in fat. Infants partake of all these things; and if they are teething and fretful, they often have a peeled cucumber given them to nibble, by way of quietus, which indeed it may be supposed admirably calculated to become. That many young children die is therefore less astonishing than that some live. Those who do survive probably owe their chance of future years' hot bread to their being allowed to creep about in the open air as soon as they are old enough to be out of the mother's arms. The fine climate does all it can for them, and it does everything for those who will accept its kind ministering.
No inconsiderable variety and amusement arc produced by the unfettered agency of nature and natural objects. Where the earth is hidden under piles of stone, nothing short of an earthquake can produce very striking occurrences of a natural kind; but in the woods hardly a day passes without something noticeable in earth, air, or water, or among their denizens. Tom Stiles, in felling a huge old oak, brings to light perhaps a hundred and fifty pounds of honey, which turns the whole neighbourhood into a bee-hive for the nonce. John Nokes, mowing without boots, gets bitten by a rattlesnake, and a thrill of sympathy runs through the settlement. The road to his house is thronged with people from far and near, coming to urge remedies—all infallible— and to offer aid as nurses or watchers. Perhaps the musk-rats work so stealthily and so well that the mill-dam will be completely riddled or undermined, and the whole pond will run away in the night, leaving a huge scoop of long grass and stumps instead of the fair expanse of water which the setting sun delighted to dye with crimson and purple. Then every hand that can be hired is in requisition, and everybody who is not hirable, thinks it necessary to spend nearly the whole time in looking on, lamenting, suggesting, advising, and prognosticating. Now the great business of the young men and boys is setting traps for quails and prairie-hens, and again every fallow is bespread with nets to catch
pigeons; or perhaps Mr. A , after sitting up
all night to watch for the fox that robs his henroost of late, comes very near shooting that
"loafer," Sam B , who, though he will
not work, unreasonably continues to eat, and of the fat of the land too. Or poor John Smith's stick chimney takes fire and burns his house and all that is in it, hardly excepting his wife and children. Then somebody must take wagon and horses and thread the whole region roundabout for aid in the shape of clothing, provisions, furniture, farming utensils, and stock, to set him up again; while the neighbours fall to chopping and notching logs for a new house, and finish by having a famous raising, and installing the sufferers in their rejuvenate domicile, with perhaps more of worldly goods than the fire found to consume, and hearts full of gratitude and joy.
Do these things and all that they typify seem trifles? Those whose hearts quake at the rise and fall of stocks should be ashamed to call them so. To the dweller in the woods they can never be trifles. And this brings us to what is perhaps after all the secret charm of a life far removed from pride and formality —the feeling of brotherhood. There is in every human heart not totally sophisticated a capacity lor this; but where men are crowded together in large cities, or subjected to the friction of keen and pitiless competition, it is well-nigh obliterated. Where all that each man gains may be said in some sense to be so much abstracted from the common stock, and where the brotherly feeling is not kept awake by any obvious dependence upon others, individualism and selfishness are too apt to prevail. But when, on the contrary, whatever each man docs for his own profit is sure to turn to the advantage of all about him; when the means of life and comfort are drawn directly from the bounteous bosom of earth, not impoverishing, but enriching the source and fitting it the better to afford wealth to a coming generation; when the circumstances of life are such that each man is obliged to be personally indebted to his neighbour for many of those offices which affect most nearly our business and bosom, while common toils compel contact and consultation, and the state of
things is adverse to any separation by ceremony—all the bonds of life arc drawn closer; the heart is obliged to act, and the tone of manners becomes freer and more genial; less polite perhaps but more humane; and after some little experience of this, a return to the cold polish of city intercourse seems indeed a plunging into "frigid impertinences,"—a descent from the free mountain air which braces every nerve to health and pleasure, to the calmer but more stagnant atmosphere of the plain.
The days of this fresh aspect of things are passing away. The influence of wealth and of facilitated intercourse will before very long produce a great equalization of manners. The West has already tinged not a little, as we said before, the social intercourse of the East in our country. We adopt her humorous expressions and even her scorn of the cherished conventions of the old world. To be "manly'' is more prized among us than to be "elegant,*' even while we are reaching after liveries and other antiquated remuants of the pride of the dark ages. Our gentlemen print their cards with names ungraced by even the commonest title, leaving the Mr. which used to be felt essential, to chiropodists and other pretenders. All this while the West is disposed to take up the politenesses we lay down, and her ambition is such that it will not be wonderful if she should in time devise some original ones of her own, so that to our descendants at no very remote distance, it may perhaps be hardly credible that the distinction between western manners and those of the older settled parts of the country was ever as great as it has really been up to our day.
But it is a state of things worth remembering. In an age and country where everything is doing, some things run the risk of being forgotten, for who can afford time for the " slow" business of chronicling, in the very face of the lightning-flashes which are melting into one, the Present, Past and Future? With so much to accomplish for ourselves, can we be expected to think of the coming age, whoso wings already fan our faces? When golden splendours arc dawning, is it worth while to fix on the canvass the sober hue of twilight'!
For the sake of contrast, at least, let lis preserve a clear recollection of the great West in her dress of "hoddin gray," by way of aesthetic, not humiliating contrast; as the rough disguise thrown off by the triumphant hero of the drama, imparts new splendour to the robes he has been only veiling beneath it; or, more nearly, as the sun, in his might, turns the bars of purple cloud which for awhile obscured his disk, into a glorious ladder for his ascent to the meridian.
BY HISS C. M. SEDGWICK.
"There is no wealth but the labour of man" or woman.
Anne Cleveland was the daughter of a wealthy farmer. She had a good New England school education, and was well bred and well taught at home in the virtues and manners that constitute domestic social life. Her father died a year before her marriage. He left a will dividing his property equally between his son and daughter, giving to the son the homestead with all its accumulated rural riches, and to the daughter the largest share of the personal property, amounting to six or seven thousand dollars. This little fortune, the earnings of a life of labour and frugality, became at Anne's marriage the property of her husband. She had no longer any right to control it; to keep, or expend it. It would seem, to the perceptions of common sense and common justice, that the property of a woman received from her father should be hers, and should be so appropriated as to secure her independence, and to maintain and educate her children. But the laws of a barbarous uge decided otherwise, and it is found very hard to right a wrong deeply fixed in the usages of society, and long-transmitted habit.* Anne Cleveland married John Warren. He was the youngest child, daintily bred by his parents, and let off from all heavy work and difficult tasks, by his good-natured elder brothers. Anne's judgment was perhaps warped by his agreeableness, and an exterior with a little less of the rustic, and a little more of the gentleman than belonged to her other admirers; for many admirers had Anne Cleveland attracted by her charming countenance, her virtues, her sweet manners, to say nothing of the "plenty that feeds the lover's lire."
This plenty, obtained with Anne's hand, was soon vested in a stock of goods, and Warren opened a dry-goods shop in a small town in the vicinity of Boston. He had not thought of his qualifications for merchandise, but only of escaping from distasteful farming, and frugal life. He went on tolerably for five or six years, living genteelly and recklessly; expecting that next year's gains would bring round the excess of this year's expenses.
* Much has been said and is saying about the rights of womeu. If the right to their own property, by inheritance or by their own labour (the first of social rights), and the right of the mother to tho custody of her children lthe first of nature's rights), were secured to them, the rest might be left to the accidents of character and conduct.
When sixteen years of their married life had passed, they were living in a single room in the most crowded street of Itoxbury, Massachusetts. Mrs. Warren's inheritance had long been gone from them, every penny of it. The lives of three children had been sacrificed to unhealthy locations, and to the overtasked and wusted strength of their mother. Three survived—a girl fifteen years old, whom the mother by incredible exertions was educating to be a teacher, a boy of twelve, who was still living at home, and a delicate, pale, little struggler for life, Jessie, a girl of three years. Mrs. Warren was much changed in these sixteen years. Her round, blooming cheek was pale and sunken. Her dark, abundant chestnut hair had become thin and gray. Her sweet, dovelike eye, overtaxed by use and watching, was faded, and her whole person shrunken. Yet she had gained the great victory. The buoyancy of youth had given place to a most gentle submission and resignation, and the light of hope to a most sweet patience.
This blessed patience, and even a certain degree of cheerfulness was visible, as she sat one July evening, sewing by the light of a single lamp, while her boy was getting his Latin lesson beside her, and at intervals threading her needle.
"Dear mother," he said, "I will always thread your needles if you will not wear those horrid spectacles; they make you look a hundred years old, besides hiding your sweet eyes."
"Ah, George, all children hate their mother's spectacles, 1 believe. They do not like to see those they love getting old; but you must make up your mind to it. I cannot leave off work, and I cannot see in the evening without them."
George picked up the lamp-wick and then said, "There is no use—the oil is bad. 1 wish we had some of the lights that are burning away for nothing in rich men's houses."
"Covet not your neighbour's goods, my son."
"Covet! I don't covet, mother, I only wish. It makes me feel so, mother, to sec you working your eyes out. Why do you work so late, mother? You work later and later, and that shoe-binding, you say, is so trying to your eyes."
"I have good reason for doing extra work now, George; I have kept up without debt, and have now fifty-five dollars due to me at Mr. Doylo's."
"Then you have a good right to stop your work, mother," said George, affectionately, taking the shoe from her, "and if you won't, I shall make you."
"No; give it to me, George. I must have sixty dollars, and then I shall treat myself to rest and recreation too. Anne must have some new clothes, or she cannot remain in the Rev. Mr. Howe's family, and you know what privileges she has there, and what a struggle I had to get the place for her. In one year more, Mr. Howe says she will be qualified to be head teacher in a schoel, or governess in a private family. By-and-by, George, my children will take off my spectacles indeed, and give my eyes and heart too rest."
"I hope so, mother, I hope so," and resolves and joyous visions for a moment checked George's utterance. But he returned to the subject. "Sixty dollars, mother! Anne surely can't want sixty dollars!"
"Oh no, I can make her quite comfortable with fifteen, or twenty at the utmost, and the rest I want to take poor little Jessie to the shore; the doctor has advised me to make some change for her. Last week ho said if anything would do her good it was seabathing."
"If anything, mother!—Is Jessie so ill?" "She is very ill, George. She seems to be going just in the way my other little girls went. Have you not observed that every day she gets weaker and paler?"
"No, mother, but now I remember that she fell down twice to-day, when I was walking up the street just a little way with her, and I brought her home in my arms." George went to the crib where the child was sleeping unquictly, kissed her, stroked her attenuated arms, and kissed over and over again her almost transparent little hands, and bending over her, whispered, "Pettest of pets!"—then returning to his mother's side, his eyes brimming with tears, he said, "Oh, mother, Jessie must not die!—Do not wait to make up the sixty dollars. I will give up my school, and go into the cord and tassel factory. They give boys high wages there."
"No, my son, we must pursue a steady plan. All that is gained will be lost if you are interrupted now; no, at the end of the week I shall have made up the sum, and then, without the fear of running in debt, I shall set out with my light little burden, and return with it heavier I trust,—but much less a burden."
"Oh! dear mother, if you only had some of that money that father says he lost in business." George paused thoughtfully for a few moments, and then added, " How did my father
ever get any money, mother ?—Was his father rich?"
"No, my son, but my father was—at least what is called very rich,—for a farmer."
"Then it was yours after all. Surely my father would not take it from you; he is not such a man—at least he was not always," added the boy, blushing with a painful consciousness.
"Your father took it, used it, and lost it, my son ; but you must not blame him,—the money was his according to law."
"What! your money his ?—I don't understand that, mother. I don't see how money can belong to a person that does not earn it, nor inherit it, nor have it given to him. Oh, I suppose you did give it to him, mother?"
"No; the law gave it to him."
"It's a mean, dishonest law, then,—a law fit to have been made by pickpockets. Who made such a law ?—when was it made, mother?"
"Oh! a long while ago."
"Why don't they alter it, now they know better?"
"They probably think it is better as it is. Men are bound to support their families, and they are supposed to be more capable of earning property than women, and of taking care of it."
"Well, I suppose some men are much more capable of earning and keeping property than some other men, but for that, all the property is not given to them. And certainly some women are every way more capable than some men. What would we have done, mother, but for what you have earned and saved? And if you had kept your own property how comfortable and happy you might have been, instead of having half your heart in the grave of my poor little sister, and the other half contriving how to take care of the rest of us."
"I have but done my duty, dear, and you must look on the best side, George;" and the mother was proceeding to show that best side, when she was interrupted by the entrance of her husband, whose loud voice and thickened utterance indicated that he was in his usual state of partial inebriation. He was accompanied by a Mr. Hutton, one of his early friends, who, for the sake of Mrs. Warren, still endured her husband's society. George's colour rose at the sight of his father, and a mist came before his eyes. His mother perceived this, and saying " Good-night, my son," she pushed an unlighted lamp towards him. He lighted it, and after pausing a moment at Jessie's crib, and drawing a deep sigh, he withdrew to an adjoining closet bed-room.
"Well, Madam Warren," said her husband, in a loud, husky voice, "have not you a bit of pie, or crumb of cake to give us ?—Hutton and