Mr. and Mrs. Woodbridge
by Harriet Beecher Stowe
MR. AND MRS.
TO A WITHERED
A SISTER'S LOVE.
TO ONE BELOVED.
FROM THE GERMAN
ON THE DEATH OF
THE PORTRAIT OF
THE SAILOR BOY'S
THE SUMMER RAIN.
EXPERIENCE OF A
THE SOFT ANSWER.
Well written Tales, with only real life set forth, are profitable.
A two fold object is gained by such publications; interest is blended
with utility. No writings are made so profitable as those which, while
they are eminently calculated to afford the richest instructions to
the mind, instructions embodying the very elements of virtue, awaken
the finer sensibilities of our nature by the exhibition of life as
it is. More moral principle is instilled into the mind by the
exhibition of a living example than was ever accomplished by
essayists however correct might be their doctrines. The ways of life
are better learned by seeing than any other way.
With these views of life and manners, the publishers thought it
would subserve the interests of morality by giving a wider
circulation than otherwise could be done of the matters of this
volume. A few choice poems are given for variety. Most of the
articles are taken from the Lady's Book, a very popular monthly
magazine published in Philadelphia. The poems are mostly from the
Ladies' Companion, published in New York. The publishers can not
object to so good matter being circulated. The reputation of the
magazines will not hereby be impaired but rather the works will be
brought more into notice.
As it regards youth, this little volume it is thought will prove
very instructive. Their minds are more susceptible of impression than
the more aged. If Mrs. Woodbridge had been under like influences in
her mother's care as those improprieties of her conduct and the talk
of her neighbors had upon her mind she would never have been so
reckless about the happiness of her husband and his and her friends.
The difficulties of overcoming such effects as her training produced
upon her mind while young are clearly seen in her reformation. No
young girl can read this story (no matter if such persons as Mrs. W.
ever had an existence save in the author's imagination) and then
resolve to be such a connubial tormentor. Married life is every way
calculated to yield enjoyment when all the principles therein involved
are duly regarded; but if they are not regarded, it will make its
subject as miserable as they would have been happy.
To promote the highest enjoyment of matrimonial alliances, and
encourage mutual affection it is necessary that married persons live
for one another. This done all will be well. So with the world, "Do
as you would be done by" is the great maxim. To teach this important
lesson has been a special object in sending out these pieces in the
MR. AND MRS. WOODBRIDGE.
The morning subsequent to their arrival in Philadelphia, Harvey
Woodbridge proposed to his bride, (a New York beauty, to whom he had
recently been united, after a very short acquaintance,) that she
should accompany him to look at the new house he had taken previous to
their marriage, and which he had delayed furnishing till the taste of
his beloved Charlotte could be consulted as well as his own. Meanwhile
they were staying at one of the principal boarding-houses of his
Ten o'clock was the time finally appointed by the lady for this
visit to their future residence: and her husband, after taking a
melancholy leave (they had been married but seven days) departed to
pass an hour at his place of business.
When he returned, Mr. Woodbridge sprang up stairs three steps at a
time, (we have just said he had been married only a week,) and on
entering their apartment he was saluted by his wife as she held out
her watch to him, with — "So after all, you are ten minutes beyond
"I acknowledge it, my dear love" — replied the husband — "but I
was detained by a western customer to whom I have just made a very
"Still" — persisted the bride, half pouting — "people should
always be punctual, and keep their appointments to the very minute."
"And yet, my dearest Charlotte," — observed Woodbridge, somewhat
hesitatingly — "I do not find you quite ready to go out with
"Oh! that is another thing," — replied the lady — "one may be
kept waiting without being ready."
"That is strange logic, my love," — said Woodbridge, smiling.
"I don't know what you call logic"—answered the beautiful
Charlotte. "I learnt all my logic at Mrs. Fooltrap's boarding-school,
where we said a logic lesson twice a week. But I am sure 'tis much
easier for a man to hurry with his bargaining than for a lady to hurry
with her dressing; that is if she pays any regard to her appearance.
I have been pondering for an hour about what I shall put on to go out
this morning. I am sadly puzzled among all my new walking-dresses.—
There are my chaly, and my gros des Indes, and my peau-de-soie, and
my foulard —"
"If you will tell me which is which" — interrupted Woodbridge —
"I will endeavor to assist you in your choice. But from its name
(foulard, as you call it,) I do not imagine that last thing can be a
very nice article."
"What fools men are!" — exclaimed the lovely Charlotte — "Now
that is the very prettiest of all my walking-dresses, let the name be
what it will. I always did like foulard from the moment I first saw
it at Stewart's. I absolutely doat upon foulard. So that is the very
thing I will wear, upon my first appearance in Chesnut street as Mrs.
"Don't," — said her husband, surveying the dress as she held it
up — "it looks like calico —"
"Say don't to me," — exclaimed the bride`
threateningly;—"Calico, indeed! — when it is a French silk at
twelve shillings a yard — a dollar and a half as you foolishly say
"Well, well," — replied Woodbridge, pacifyingly— "wear what
ever you please — it is of no consequence."
"So then, you think it of no consequence how I am drest! I dare say
you would not grieve in the least, if I were really to go out in a
calico gown — I did suppose that perhaps you took some
little interest in me."
"I do indeed," — anwered Woodbridge.
"You confess then that it is but
"No — a very great interest, certainly — and you know that I
do. But as to your dress, you, of course, must be the best judge. And
to me you always look beautifully."
"To you but not to others — I suppose that is what you mean."
"To every one" — replied the husband — "I observed this morning
the glance of admiration that ran round the breakfast table as soon as
you had taken your seat. That little cap with the yellow ribbon is
remarkably becoming to you."
"So then, it was the cap and not myself that was admired!"—said
the wife.—"I am sure I am much obliged to the cap. Yellow
ribbon, too!— To call it yellow when it is the most delicate
primrose. As if I would wear a yellow ribbon."
"Indeed, my love" — answered Woodbridge — "you must forgive me
if I am not au-fait to all the technicalities of a lady's
toilet. I acknowledge my ignorance with due humility."
"You well may — I was absolutely ashamed of you one evening at
our house in New York, when Mrs. Rouleau and the two Miss Quillings
and Miss Biasfold were present, and we were all enjoying ourselves
and discussing the last fashions. And thinking you ought to say
something by way of joining in the conversation, you called my deep
flounce a long tuck."
"I'll never do so again" — said Woodbridge, imitating the tone of
a delinquent school boy.
The foulard silk was energetically put on; the fair Charlotte
pertinaciously insisting on hooking it up the back entirely herself: a
herculean task which, in his heart of hearts, her husband was rather
glad to be spared. And not knowing that spite gives strength, he stood
amazed at the vigour and dexterity with which his lovely bride put her
hands behind her and accomplished the feat. When it was done, she
took a long survey of herself in the glass, and then turned round to
her husband and made a low curtesy, saying —"There now — you see
me in my calico gown."
Woodbridge uttered no reply: but he thought in his own mind —
"What a pity it is that beauties are so apt to be spoiled!" — He
might have added — "What a pity it is that men are so apt to spoil
At length, after much fixing and unfixing, and putting on and
taking off the finishing articles of her attire (particularly
half-a-dozen pair of tight fitting new kid gloves, none of which were
quite tight enough) her ignoramus of a husband again offending by
calling her pelerine a cape and her scarf a neckcloth, and mistaking
the flowers in her bonnet for roses when he ought to have known they
were almond blossoms, Mrs. Harvey Woodbridge sullenly acknowledged
herself ready to go out.
During their walk to the new house, our hero endeavored to restore
the good-humour of his bride by talking to her of the delightful life
he anticipated when settled in a pleasant mansion of their own. But
his glowing picture of domestic happiness elicited no reply; her
attention being all the time engaged by the superior attractions of
numerous ribbons, laces, scarfs, shawls, trinkets, &c., displayed in
the shop-windows, and of which though she could now take only a
passing glance, she mentally promised herself the enjoyment of making
large purchases at her leisure.
They arrived at their future residence, a genteel and well-finished
house of moderate size, where all was so bright and clean, that it was
impossible for the bride not to be pleased with its aspect, as her
husband unlocked the doors and threw open the shutters of room after
room. Mrs. Woodbridge rejoiced particularly on observing that the
ceilings of the parlors had centre circles for chandeliers, and she
began to consider whether the chandeliers should be bronzed or gilt.
She also began to talk of various splendid articles of furniture that
would be necessary for the principal rooms. "Mamma charged me" —
said she — "to have silk damask lounges and chair-cushions, and
above all things not to be sparing in mirrors. She said she should
hate to enter my parlors if the pier-glasses were not tall enough to
reach from the floor to the ceiling; and that she would never forgive
me if my mantel-glasses did not cover the whole space of the wall
above the chimney-pieces. She declared she would never speak to me
again if my centre-table were not supplied with all sorts of elegant
things, in silver, and china and coloured glass. And her last words
were to remind me of getting a silver card basket, very wide at the
top that the cards of the best visiters might be spread out to
advantage. The pretty things on Mrs. Overbuy's enamelled centre-table
are said to have cost not less than five hundred dollars." "Was it
not her husband that failed last week for the fourth time?" —
asked Woodbridge. "I believe he did"—replied Charlotte—"but that
is nothing. Almost every body's husband fails now. Mrs. Overbuy says
it is quite fashionable." — "In that respect, as in many others, I
hope to continue unfashionable all my life" — remarked Woodbridge.
"That is so like pa"' — observed Charlotte. — "He has the
strangest dread of failing; though ma' often tells him that most
people seem to live much the better for it, and make a greater show
than ever—at least after the first few weeks. And then pa' begins to
explain to her about failing, and breaking, and stopping payment, and
debtors and creditors, and all that sort of thing. But she cuts him
short, and says she hates business talk. And so do I, for I am exactly
At this information Woodbridge felt as if he was going to sigh; but
he looked at his bride, and, consoled himself with the reflection that
he had certainly married one of the most beautiful girls in America;
and therefore his sigh turned to a smile.
They had now descended to the lower story of the house. "Ah!"—
exclaimed Charlotte—"the basement, back and front, is entirely
filled up with cellars. How very ridiculous!" — "It does not seem
so to me" — replied Woodbridge — "this mode of building is very
customary in Philadelphia." — "So much the worse" — answered the
lady. — "Now in New York nothing is more usual than to have a nice
sitting room down in the basement story, just in front of the
kitchen." "A sort of servants' parlor, I suppose" said her husband.
"It is certainly very considerate to allot to the domestics, when not
at work, a comfortable place of retirement, removed from the heat,
and slop and all the desegremens of a kitchen."
"How foolishly you always talk" — exclaimed Mrs. Woodbridge. "As
if you would give the basement-room to the servants! No we use it
ourselves. In ma's family, as in hundreds of others all over New
York, it is the place where we sit when we have no company, and where
we always eat."
"What! — half under ground" — exclaimed Woodbridge — "Really
I should feel all the time as if I was living in a kitchen."
"It is very wrong in you to say so," replied the lady — "and very
unkind to say it to me, when we had a basement-room in our
house in New York, and used it constantly. To be sure I've heard ma'
say she had some trouble in breaking pa' into it — but he had to
give up. Men have such foolish notions about almost every thing, that
it is well when they have somebody to put their nonsense out of their
"I never saw you in that basement-room" — observed Woodbridge.
"To be sure you did not. I do not say that it is the fashion for
young ladies to receive their beaux in the basement-room. But beaux
and husbands are different things."
"You are right" — murmured Woodbridge.— "If always admitted
behind the scenes, perhaps fewer beaux would be willing to take the
character of husbands."
They now descended the lower staircase, and went to inspect the
kitchen, which formed a part of what in Philadelphia is called the
back building. Woodbridge pointed out to his wife its numerous
conveniences; upon which she told him that she was sorry to find he
knew so much about kitchens. They then took a survey of the chambers;
and on afterwards descending the stairs they came to a few steps
branching off from the lower landingplace, and entered a door which
admitted them into a narrow room in the back-building, directly over
the kitchen. This room had short windows, a low ceiling, a small
coal-grate, and was in every respect very plainly finished.
"This" — said Woodbridge — "is the room I intend for my
"I did not know I had married a literary man"— said Charlotte
looking highly discomposed.
"I am not what is termed a literary man" — replied her husband
— "I do not write, but I take much pleasure in reading. And it is my
intention to have this room fitted up with book-shelves, and
furnished with a library-table, a stuffed leather fauteuil, a
reading-lamp, and whatever else is necessary to make it comfortable."
"Where then is to be our sitting-room?"
"We can seat ourselves very well in either the back parlor or the
front one. We will have a rocking-chair a-piece, besides ottomans or
"But where are we to eat our meals?"
"In the back parlor, I think — unless you prefer the front."
"I prefer neither. We never ate in a parlour at ma's in spite of
all pa' could say. Down in the basement story we were so snug, and so
out of the way."
"I have always been accustomed to eating quite above ground" —
said Woodbridge — "I am quite as much opposed to the burrowing
system as you say your good father was."
"Oh! but he had to give up" — replied Charlotte.
"Which is more than I shall do" — answered her husband —
looking very resolute. "On this point my firmness is not to be shaken."
"Nobody asks you to eat in the basement story" — said Charlotte
— "because there is none. But this little room in the back-building
is the very thing for our common sitting-place — and also to use as
"We can dine far more agreeably in one of the parlors."
"The parlors, indeed! — suppose somebody should chance to come in
and catch us at table, would not you be very much mortified?"
"By no means — I hope I shall never have cause to be ashamed of
"You don't know what may happen. After a trial of the expenses of
housekeeping, we may find it necessary to economize. And whether or
not, I can assure you I am not going to keep an extravagant table.
Ma' never did in spite of pa's murmurings."
"Then we will economize in finery rather than in comfort" — said
Woodbridge. "I do not wish for an extravagant table, and I am not a gourmand; but there is no man that does not feel somewhat meanly
when obliged, in his own house, to partake of a paltry or scanty
dinner; particularly when he knows that he can afford to have a good
"That was just the way pa' used to talk to ma'. He said that as the
head of the house earned all the market-money — (only think of his
calling himself the head of the house,) and gave out a liberal
allowance of it, he had a right to expect, for himself and family, a
well-supplied and inviting table. He had some old saying that he who
was the bread-winner ought to have his bread as he liked it."
"And in this opinion I think most husbands will coincide with Mr.
Stapleford" — said the old gentleman's son-in-law.
"There will be no use in that, unless their wives coincide also"
— remarked the old gentleman's daughter. "However, to cut the matter
short, whatever sort of table we may keep, this apartment must
certainly be arranged for an eating room."
"But we really do not require it for that purpose" — replied her
husband, with strange pertinacity— "and I must positively have it
for a library."
"The truth is, dear Harvey" — said Charlotte, coaxingly — "I am
afraid if I allow you a regular library, I should lose too much of
your society — think how lonely I shall be when you are away from
me at your books. Even were I always to sit with you in the library,
(as Mrs. Deadweight does with her husband,) it would be very hard for
me to keep silent the whole time, according to her custom. And
if, like Mrs. Le Bore, I were to talk to you all the while you were
reading, perhaps you might think it an interruption. Mrs. Duncely,
who has had four husbands (two lawyers, one doctor, and a clergyman,)
all of whom spent as little time with her as they could, frequently
told us that libraries were of no use but to part man and wife. Dear
Harvey, it would break my heart to suppose that you could prefer any
thing in the world to the company of your own Charlotte Augusta. So
let us have this nice little place for our dining-room, and let us sit
in it almost always. It will save the parlors so much."
"Indeed my dear Charlotte, I do not intend to get any furniture for
the parlors of so costly a description that we shall be afraid to use
"What! — are we not to have Saxony carpets, and silk curtains,
and silk-covered lounges, and large glasses, and chandeliers, and
beautiful mantel-lamps; and above all, a'n't we to have elegant
things for the centre-table?"
"My design" — answered Woodbridge — "is to furnish the house
throughout, as genteelly, and in as good taste as my circumstances
will allow: but always with regard to convenience rather than to
"Then I know not how I can look ma' in the face!"
"You may throw all the blame on me, my love."
"Pray, Mr. Harvey Woodbridge (if I may venture to ask) how will
these plain, convenient, comfortable parlors look when we have a
"I do not furnish my house for the occasional reception of a crowd
of people, but for the every day use of you and myself, with a few
chosen friends in whose frequent visits we can take pleasure."
"If you mean frequent tea-visits, I can assure you, sir, I shall
take no pleasure in any such trouble and extravagance — with your
few chosen friends, indeed! when it is so much cheaper to have a
large party once a year (as we always had at ma's:) asking every
presentable person we knew, and every body to whom we owed an
invitation; and making one expense serve for all. Though our yearly
party was always an absolute squeeze, you cannot think how much we
saved by it. Pa' called it saying grace over the whole barrel —
some foolish idea that he got from Dr. Franklin."
"For my part"—remarked Woodbridge—"I hope I shall never be
brought to regard social intercourse as a mere calculation of dollars
and cents. I would rather, if necessary, save in something else than
make economy the chief consideration in regulating the mode of
entertaining my friends and acquaintances."
"Then why do you object to saving our parlors by using them as
little as possible?"
"When our furniture wears out, or ceases to look
comme it faut
, I hope I shall be able to replace it with new articles, quite as
good, and perhaps better—particularly if we do not begin too
extravagatly at first."
"I suppose then
your plan is to fit up these parlors with
ingrain carpets, maple-chairs, and black hair-cloth sofas, and instead
of curtains, nothing but venitian blinds."
"Not exactly — though young people, on commencing married life in
moderate circumstances, have been very happy with such furniture."
"More fools they! For my part, I should be ashamed to show my face
to a morning visitor in such paltry parlors. That sort of furniture is
scarcely better than what I intend for this little up-stairs sitting
"If this little room is devoted to the purpose you talk of, we must
there show our faces to each other."
"Nonsense, Mr. Woodbridge! — How can it possibly signify what
faces married people show to each other?"
"It sigifies much — very much indeed."
"To put an end to this foolery"— resumed the bride — "I tell
you once for all, Harvey Woodbridge, that I must and will have this
very apartment for an eating-room, or a dining-room or a sitting-room
or whatever you please to call it — to take our meals in without
danger of being caught at them, and to stay in when I am not drest and
do not wish to be seen."
"The hiding room I think would be the best name for it" —
"Only let us try it awhile"—persisted the fair Charlotte,
softening her tone, and looking fondly at her leige-lord—"think how
happy we shall be in this sweet little retreat, where I will always
keep a few flower-pots—you know I doat on flowers— imagine your
dear Charlotte Augusta in a comfortable wrapper, seated on a nice
calico sofa, and doing beautiful worsted work: and yourself in a
round jacket, lolling in a good wooden rocking chair either
cane-colored or green, with slippers on your feet, and a newspaper in
your hand. We can have a shelf or two for a few select books. And of
an evening, when I do not happen to be sleepy you can read to me in
the Summer at Brighton, or the Winter in London, or Almacks, or Santo
Sebastiano. I have them all. Brother Jem bought them cheap at auction.
But I never had time to get to the second volume of any of them. So
we have all that pleasure to come. And I shall be delighted to have
those sweet books read aloud to me by you. You will like them far
better than those Scotch novels that people are always talking about."
Woodbridge looked dubious. Finally, being tired of the controversy,
he thought best to end it by saying — "Well, well — we'll let this
subject rest for the present." — But he resolved in his own mind to
hold out for ever against it.
At their boarding-house dinner-table, Mrs. Woodbridge informed a
lady who sat opposite, that she was delighted with her new house; and
that it was a love of a place; particularly a snug little apartment
in the back building which Mr. Woodbridge had promised her for a
sitting-room, to save the parlors, as they were to be furnished in
very handsome style. Woodbridge reddened at her pertinacity, and to
divert the attention of those around him from a very voluble expose of
what she called her plans, he began to talk to a gentleman on the
other side of the table about the latest news from Europe.
From this day our heroine spoke of the little sitting-room as a
thing course, without noticing any of the deprecatory lookings and
sayings of her husband. And she succeeded in teazing him into
allowing her to choose all the furniture of the house without his
assistance: guided only by the taste of one of the female boarders,
Mrs. Squanderfield, a lady who had been married about a twelvemonth,
and after commencing house-keeping in magnificent style, her husband
(whose affairs had been involved at the time of their marriage,) was
obliged at the close of the winter, to make an assignment for the
benefit of his creditors; and the tradesmen who had supplied it took
back the unpaid furniture.
After her parlors had been fitted up in a very showy and expensive
manner, (not forgetting the centre-table and its multitude of costly
baubles,) Mrs. Woodbridge found that these two rooms had already
absorbed so large a portion of the sum allotted by her husband for
furnishing the whole house that it was necessary to economize greatly
in all the other apartments; and to leave two chambers in the third
story with nothing but the bare walls. This discrepancy was much
regretted by Mr. Woodbridge, even after his wife had reminded him
that these chambers could only have been used as spare bed-rooms,
which in all probability would never be wanted as they did not intend
keeping a hotel; and that as to encouraging people to come and stay at
her house, (even her own relations) she should do no such expensive
thing. "You may depend upon it, my dear," said she — on the day
that they installed themselves in their new abode, "I shall make you a
very economical wife."
And so she did, as far as comforts were concerned, aided and
abetted by the advice of her friend Mrs. Squanderfield, who consulted
her in what to spend money; and in what to save it she was guided by
the precepts of Mrs. Pinchington, an other inmate of the same
boarding-house, a widow of moderate income, whose forte was the
closest parsimony, and who had broken up her own establishment and
gone to boarding ostensibly because she was lonely, but in reality
because she could get no servant to live with her. The advice of
these two counsellors never clashed, for Mrs. Squanderfield took
cognizance of the dress and the parlor arrangements of the pupil,
while Mrs. Pinchington directed the housewifery: and both of them
found in our heroine an apt scholar.
We need not tell our readers that the fair bride carried her point
with regard to the little apartment at the head of the stairs, which
she concluded to designate as the dining-room, though they ate all
their meals in it; and it became in fact their regular abiding place,
her husband finding all opposition fruitless, and finally yielding for
the sake of peace.
It took Mrs. Woodbridge a fortnight to recover from the fatigue of
moving into their new house: and during this time she was denied to
all visitors, and spent the day in a wrapper on the dining-room sofa,
sometimes sleeping, and sometimes sitting up at a frame and working in
worsted a square-faced lap-dog, with paws and tail also as square as
cross-stitch could make them; this remarkable animal most miraculously
keeping his seat upon the perpendicular side of an upright green bank,
with three red flowers growing on his right and three blue ones on
the left. During the progress of this useful and ornamental piece of
needle-work, the lady kept a resolute silence, rarely opening her
lips except to check her husband for speaking to her, as it put her
out in counting the threads. And if he attempted to read aloud, (even
in Santo Sebastiano,) she shortly desired to him to desist, as it
puzzled her head and caused her to confuse the proper number of
stitches alloted to each of the various worsted shades. If he tried to
interest her by a really amusing book of his own choice, she always
went fast asleep, and on raising his eyes from the page he found
himself reading to nothing. If, on the other hand, he wished to
entertain himself by reading in silence, he was generally interrupted
by something like this, precluded by a deep sigh — "Harvey you are
not thinking now of your poor Charlotte Augusta — you never took up
a book and read during the week you were courting me. Times are sadly
altered now; but I suppose all wives must make up their minds to be
forgotten and neglected after the first fortnight. Don't look so
disagreeable; but if you really care any thing about me, come and
wind this gold-colored worsted — I want it for my dog's collar."
The fortnight of rest being over, Mrs. Woodbridge concluded to
receive morning visitors and display to them her handsome parlors;
which for two weeks were opened every day for that purpose during the
usual hours for making calls. Also she availed herself of the
opportunity of wearing in turn twelve new and beautiful dresses, and
twelve pelerines and collars equally new and beautiful.
Various parties were made for his bride by the families that knew
Harvey Woodbridge, who was much liked throughout the circle in which
he had visited; and for every party the bride found that she wanted
some new and expensive articles of decoration, notwithstanding her
very recent outfit; she and her ma' having taken care that the trousseau should in the number and costliness of its items be the
admiration of all New York, that is of the set of people among which
the Staplefords were accustomed to revolve.
When the bridal parties were over, Woodbridge was very earnest that
his wife should give one herself in return for the civilities she had
received from his friends; for though he had no fondness for parties
he thought they should be reciprocated by those who went to them
themselves, and who had the appliances and means of entertaining
company in a house of their own and in a customary manner. To this
proposal our heroine pertinaciously objected, upon the ground that she
was tired and worn out with parties, and saw no reason for incurring
the expense and trouble of giving one herself.
"But" — said her husband — "have you not often told me of your
mother's annual parties. Did she not give at least one every season?"
"She never did any such thing" — replied Charlotte — "till
after I was old enough to come out. And she had as many
invitations herself, before she began to give parties as she
had afterwards. It makes no sort of difference. Ladies that dress
well and look well, and therefore help to adorn the rooms are under no
necessity of making a return (as you call it) even if they go to
parties every night in the season. Then, if, besides being elegantly
drest, they are belles and beauties (here she fixed her eyes on the
glass) their presence gives an eclat which is a sufficient
compensation to their hostess."
"But if they are
not belles and beauties" — observed
Woodbridge, a little mischievously.
"I don't know what you are talking about!"— replied the lady with
a look of surprise.
"Well, well" — resumed the husband — "argue as you will on this
subject, you never can convince me that it is right first to lay
ourselves under obligations, and then to hold back from returning
them, when we have it amply in our power to do so."
"I am glad to hear you are so rich a man. It was but last week you
told me you could not afford to get me that case of emeralds I set my
mind upon at Thibaut's."
"Neither I can. And excuse me for saying that I think you have
already as many articles of jewelry as the wife of a Market-street
merchant ought to possess."
"Are the things you gave me on our wedding-day to last my
life-time? Fashion changes in jewelry as well as in every thing else."
"It cannot have changed much already, as but a few weeks have
elapsed since that giorno felice. However, let us say no more
"Oh! yes — I know it is an irksome topic to husbands and fathers
and all that sort of thing. Pa' was always disagreeable whenever
Marquand's bill was sent in."
"To return to our former subject" — resumed Woodbridge — "I
positively cannot be satisfied, if after accepting in every instance
the civilties of our friends, we should meanly pass over our
obligation of offering the usual return. I acknowledge that I do not
like parties; but having in compliance with your wishes accompanied
you to so many, we really must make the exertion of giving one
"If you disapprove of parties you ought not to have a party. I
thought you were a man that always professed to act up to your
"I endeavor to do so. And one of my principles is to accept no
favors without making a return as far as lies in my power. I
disapprove of prodigality, but I hate meanness."
"It is wicked to hate any thing. But married men get into such a
violent way of talking. When pa' did break out, he was awful.
And then, instead of arguing the point, ma' and I always quitted the
room, and left him to himself. He soon cooled down when he found there
was nobody to listen to him: and the next day he was glad enough to
make his peace and give up."
Woodbridge could endure no more, but hastily left the room himself:
and Charlotte walked to the glass and arranged her curls, and altered
the tie of her neck-ribbon; and then sat down and worked at the
Finding it utterly impossible to prevail on his wife to consent to
a large party, Woodbridge next endeavored to persuade her to invite a
few families at a time (sociably, as the ladies call it,) till they
had thus gone round all their acquaintances.
"Why this is worse than the other way" — exclaimed Charlotte —
"really, Mr. Woodbridge, I am surprised at you. Did I not tell you,
when we were first married, that ma' never had any evening company
whatever, except when she gave a squeeze once in the season. The
expense of having a few people at a time is endless, and there is no eclat in it either, as there is with a large general party; so it
is an absolute throwing away of money."
"Then let us have a large general party."
"Harvey you really make me sick. Will you never cease harping on
the same subject. Is it an affair of life and death, our paying back
again what we owe to the people who saw proper to invite us. Shall we
lose our characters if we do not?"
"Was there ever such nonsense."
"Our characters will so far suffer that we shall be justly
considered mean, sordid, and inhospitable."
"Will any one ask us why we do not invite company. How can they
kuow what reasons we may have? And then again how business-like to
regard the thing as an affair of debtor and creditor! But men will be
"Charlotte" — said Harvey Woodbridge — "I am tired of this
foolish contention — and I insist, (yes — I positively insist) on
a few of our friends being invited to take tea with us to-morrow
evening. Next week we will have a few more, and so on, till we shall
have entertained at our own house, the whole circle of our
"But when these people paid me their bridal visits" — said
Charlotte, — "I carried my politeness so far as to hint to every one
of them a general invitation to come and see us of an evening without
ceremony, as soon as they chose."
"No matter" — returned her husband —"why should they hasten to
avail themselves of a mere general invitation, when there is no reason
for their not receiving a special one. Among women I know very well
that volunteer visits are only made where there is a very familiar
intimacy; and never when the parties are but newly or slightly
acquainted. Again — supposing that any of these ladies or gentlemen
were to take you at your word — are we ever prepared for unexpected
guests? — Could we receive them in this vile room that you insist
on living in; or in the cold dark parlors, with the fire out, and no
Mrs. Woodbridge began to conclude that, for this time, she had best
give up to her husband; and therefore, with a very ill grace, she
finally consented to his desire; and he felt so happy at having
carried his point, that he apologized for the epithet he had bestowed
on the sitting-room; and conceded that, used in moderation, there was
some convenience in having such places.
Accordingly, invitations were given to three married couples, one
widow, two young ladies and three young gentlemen; all of them being
among those of our hero's friends, who stood highest in his esteem,
from whom his wife had received the utmost civility, and in whose eyes
she was most anxious that she and her domestic arrangements should
appear to the greatest advantage. In the interim, he took particular
care to be as amiable to her as possible: only once giving her
occasion to say that "all men were fools."
Harvey Woodbridge came home from his store in excellent spirits,
anticipating the most splendid evening he had yet enjoyed in his own
house. Anxious to keep his wife in good humor, he had foreborne
during the day to offer any suggestion as to the preparations for the
evening; merely hinting his hope that every thing would be arranged in
a liberal and convenient manner."
"Why should you doubt it?" — replied Charlotte— "But I am not
going to tell you a word beforehand. Perhaps I shall surprise you."
"So much the better" — said Woodbridge gaily — and he resolved
to trust entirely to his wife, and to ask no questions; calculating
greatly on this surprise that was in store for him, and feeling
persuaded that, on this, their first reception of evening company, she
would take care that all should be sclon les regles.
But, a "change came o'er the spirit of his dreams" when he found
that at seven o'clock the parlors were not lighted; Mrs. Woodbridge,
who had not yet began to dress, averring that people never arrived
till at least one hour after the time specified, and that she would
encourage no useless waste of oil. About ten minutes past seven the
door-bell rang, our heroine flew to her toilet, and Mr. Woodbridge
had the mortification of seeing the first detachment of visitors make
their entrance by the light of a dim and newly-kindled fire; the
ladies leaving their cloaks and hoods in the entry; Charlotte having
given orders that nobody should be shown up stairs. The servant man
now hurried to light the lamps which stood on the centre-tables in
each parlor, omitting those on the mantel-piece, because he knew that
they were unfurnished with oil, as they had never yet been prepared
In a very short time all the guests had arrived, and Woodbridge was
obliged for nearly an hour to entertain them entirely himself; his
consort not being ready to made her appearance. Finally, the
beautiful Charlotte came down elegantly and elaborately drest: and
smiled, and looked sweet, and expressed to the company her regret at
not being aware of their intention of coming so early, and her
delight at their having done so, as by that means she should have the
pleasure of enjoying a larger proportion of their society.
Then she took her seat, changing it occasionally so as to afford
each of the guests a share of her talk. They were all intelligent
people, with cultivated minds and polished manners, and Woodbridge,
who was well able himself, to sustain apart in rational and amusing
conversation, thought his wife had never talked with less tact and
more folly. She discoursed with untiring volubility on new style
bonnets, new style shawls, and remembered with surprising accuracy the
exact figures of certain new style mouselines de laines, embroidered
chalys, and brocaded satins. And she varied her declamations by
describing divers patterns for worsted work, particularly the new
style dog that she was doing for the cover of a tabouret, and to
which she was going to give a companion in the shape of a basket of
fruit, to be taken in hand for another tabouret as soon as the present
occupant was out of the frame.
After a while, the attention of the visiters began to flag; all
seemed to grow dull and tired, and our hero felt that he was becoming
dull and tired himself, and in fact quite out of spirits. The truth
was, he wanted his tea, and thought that all the company did the same;
and his only hope was now in the exiliarating influence of "the cups
that cheer but not inebriate." The time-piece showed the hour of
nine, and still there was no sign of tea. He wondered it did not
appear, and was at a loss to conjecture what had retarded it.
At last, the conversation subsided into silence, and after a dead
pause, Mrs. Woodbridge proposed music. For herself she had never been
able to acquire any proficiency in the art, and therefore did not
profess to play. But she had insisted on the purchase of a highly
ornamented instrument as an elegant piece of furniture for the back
parlour, and because, as she — "No decent house is without a piano."
She sat two young ladies down to the overture to La Cenerentola
played as a duet, aud which she said was "ma's favorite." During the
move which generally takes place when music is about to commence,
Woodbridge found an opportunity of saying in a low voice to his wife
— "I wish the music had been deferred till after tea. We have
already waited too long, and want something to brighten us."
"People must be badly off when their brightness depends upon tea"
— replied Charlotte, also soto voce — "is that the only
excuse you can make for being so stupid this evening — you and your
select friends. But sensible people are always stupid — at least I find them so." — Then turning amay from her husband, she
walked into the other parlor, and taking her seat beside a lady who
was looking over the splendid annuals that lay on the table, our
heroine remarked that a figure in one of the plates reminded her of a
celebrated actress then performing at the Chesnut street theatre; and
from thence she ran into a minute description of the costume of that
actress in every character in which she had seen her. The truth was
that our fair Charlotte never observed or remembered any thing
concerning a play, except the habiliments of the performers; her eyes
being chiefly engaged in wandering round the boxes, and taking
cognizance of the caps, turbans, feathers, flowers, and other head
ornaments there displayed.
The overture to La Cenerentola was played mechanically well, the
musicians (like the hearers) being tired before they began. When it
was over, the young ladies rose from the instrument, and returned
with the rest of the company to the other room; and it was well they
did so, for in a few minutes the back-parlour lamp died out,
self-extinguished for want of sufficient oil.
At length, Mrs. Woodbridge desired her husband to touch the bell,
and he obeyed with alacrity, thinking to himself — "Now we shall
have tea, to a certainty."
The servant man made his entrance: and (to the utter dismay of our
hero) he handed round a waiter set out with diminutive glasses of weak
sour lemonade, and a silver basket half filled up with a large
thickly folded damask napin, upholding some very small thin slices of
stale tasteless sponge cake.
"Is this the surprise she promised me" — thought Woodbridge —
almost betrayed into an audible exclamation. But he checked himself,
and with heightened color proceeded to do the honors of the banquet,
imagining (and it was not altogether "fancy's sketch") that he
perceived a look of disappointment in the countenances of the whole
company, none of whom had taken tea at home, having all understood
that Mrs. Woodbridge's invitation included that refreshment. His
wife, however, smiled on; and assured the ladies that they would not
find the lemonade too strong, and that if any cake could be considered
wholesome, it was sponge-cake eaten in moderation.
The remainder of the evening dragged on still more heavily than the
former; Woodbridge being too much annoyed either to talk himself or to
be the cause of talking in others; and also watching anxiously, but
vainly, for the appearance of something else in the way of
refreshments. It was scarcely ten o'clock when one of the married
ladies signified to Mrs. Woodbridge that she must go home on account
of her baby. All the other guests seemed eager to avail themselves of
the first system of breaking up, and hastened to take their leaves;
their hostess assuring them that it was quite early: that she had not
enjoyed one half enough of their company: that she hoped they had
spent as pleasant an evening as she had done: and that she trusted it
would not be long before they repeated their visit, and that they
might rely on being always treated in the same unceremonious manner.
"You had better not put that in" — thought her husband, as he
glanced at her with ill-concealed disapprobation.
When all the company had departed, and the husband and wife were
left to themselves, our hero (making an effort to throw as much
mildness into his tone as possible) inquired why there had been no
tea for the visitors.
"Because I did not choose to go to any unnecessary trouble and
expense" — was the reply:
"You went round yourself," — said Woodbridge— "and gave the
invitations verbally. Of course you asked them to come to tea."
"There is no `of course' in the case. I do not remember saying any
thing to them about tea. Perhaps I did, and perhaps I did not. None of
ma's friends ever gave tea, whether the company was large or small.
And Mrs. Pinchington told me herself that when she kept house
she always expressly asked her friends to come after tea. I
wish I had done so, and then these people would not have
"But why should they not expect any? At their own houses they on
all occasions have tea. Is tea and its appendages so enormously
expensive that we cannot afford to give them to our friends?"
"I am always at a loss to know what you can afford, and what you
cannot. When after a great deal of trouble I had made you understand
what blond was, did you not object to my giving eight dollars a yard
for seven yards of blond trimming to go round the skirt of that gros
d'Afrique I had made for Mrs. Hillingdon's ball. To be sure I did
get the blond notwithstanding; and it was not my fault if it caught
in the flowers of Miss Wireblossoms skirt and was half torn to pieces
that very evening. Then when I fell in love with that superb gold
card-case at Thibault's did you not meanly refuse to let me have it,
merely because you had given me a silver one already. And now when I
try as much as I can to economise in things that are of no consequence
you are displeased at my not giving tea to these people, as if they
could not just as well have all drank their tea at home."
"Undoubtedly they would have done so, had it been possible for them
to foresee that they would get none at our house. Did you not invite
them to come at an early hour?"
"Yes but I did not suppose they would be so simple as to take me at
my word. And I asked them to come socially, just to meet half a
dozen friends. Therefore they need not have expected any thing."
"Socially! — Yes, we were all very social indeed. The truth is
that persons accustomed to the refreshment of tea, feel the want of it
in the evening after the fatigues of the day are over. And if they
chance to go without it, they always miss its exhilirating effects. I
wonder you did not want it yourself."
"Oh! I am not such a fool as to let my vivacity depend on a cup of
tea. Besides, I had some made for myself, and I drank it in the
sitting room before I came down. When I had done, the pot was filled
up with water, and left by the fire — I dare say it is there yet,
and if you are in distress for tea, you can get some of that. For my
part I am very sleepy, and very tired of all this nonsense, and I
will not hear another word on the subject. But I can assure you this
is the last time you shall ever prevail on me to invite evening
visitors. If my society is not good enough for you, I shall not
assist in bringing other people here to entertain you."
So saying, she flounced up stairs, and her husband sighed, and went
out to a restaurant in quest of something by way of refreshment:
experience having taught him that nothing was to be had in the house.
The lovely Charlotte did not speak to him all next day, and gave no
token of her knowledge that he was in existence, except that she
contrived for dinner something that she knew he particularly disliked.
Finally, he was fain to bribe her into good humor by the gift of a
Time passed on, and Harvey Woodbridge became sadly apprehensive
that for him the bonds of married life would never be "golden chains
inlaid with down." As his mental vision cleared, the beautiful
Charlotte Augusta seemed every day to grow less and less beautiful.
And too often his recollection dwelt on some favorite adages of his
grandmother, such as — "Handsome is that handsome does" — and
"Marry in haste and repent at leisure."
No home could be more cheerless than that of our hero;
notwithstanding that his wife piqued herself greatly on her domestic
qualifications, after the pattern of her ma'. But her housewifery
consisted only in the perpetual practice of a mean, sordid, and
annoying parsimony, carried into the most minute details of every
thing connected with comfort. While at the same time there were no
limits to her extravagance in all that related to the adornment of her
own person. And her passion for dress, increasing by indulgence, soon
superceded even her love for fine parlor furniture; taking care only
to preserve what they had already by using it as little as possible.
Till they learn by experience, men have a very faint idea of the sums
that can be expended on the external decorations of a woman who is
resolved on being the first to adopt every new fashion, and the first
to throw it aside for another, and who takes a silly pride not only
in the costliness but in the number of her dresses. As Mrs. Woodbridge
never gave any thing away, a spare room (or rather a room which could
not be spared, and ought to have been appropriated to a better use)
was filled with receptacles for her discarded finery: discarded in
many instances after having been worn but two or three times.
With the usual selfishness and folly of women whose ruling passion
is a love of dress, our heroine seemed to think that almost every cent
expended for any other purpose was taken wrongfully from the fund
which ought to be devoted exclusively to the adornment of her own
person. Now that her parlors were furnished, she appeared to consider
all expenditure for the comfort or convenience of the establishment
as an encroachment on her selfassumed right to be indulged in every
new and costly vanity that fashion and ostentation was continually
introducing into female attire. Yet though her milliner and
mantua-maker were the most modish, and therefore the most extravagant
in their charges that Philadelphia could support, if she wanted any
other sort of work to be executed she would walk to the most distant
suburbs of the city in all the torture of tight shoes, to make a hard
bargain with a cheap seamstress; or she would absurdly hire a carriage
for the purpose of conveying her to cheap (or rather low-priced)
stores in remote places: where, by Mrs. Pinchington's account, she
could buy articles of household necessity at a cent or two less than
in the best part of the town.
In charity Mrs. Woodbridge gave nothing. When her feelings
sometimes prompted her to afford relief in a case of severe distress
that chanced to fall in her way, her hand was stayed by some such
reflection as that a quarter of a dollar would buy her a yard of
ribbon, or a half dollar the same quantity of narrow edging: that
seventy-five cents would pay for a pair of white kid gloves, and that
a dollar would purchase a flower sprig. Therefore the money remained
in her purse to be expended in some article of similar utility to the
A book was one of the last things she would have thought of
purchasing for herself; and she even looked displeased whenever her
husband bought a new one for his own reading; and wondered what
people that had the Athenæum to go to, and also a share in the City
Library, could possibly want with any more books.
As is usually the case in families where the practice is ultra
economy our heroine was always in difficulties about servants, some of
whom left her or were dismissed by her in two or three days: and few
that were worth having remained more than a week, for good servants
can easily obtain good places. She usually began her daily routine by
keeping her husband waiting an hour or more beyond the appointed
breakfast time, for it was always a difficult task to her to get up in
the morning, and it was deferred and delayed as if it could be
dispensed with altogether. On this subject no remonstrance on the part
of her husband ever made the slightest impression; her pretence being
that early rising was injurious to her health. And if he resorted to
the desperate measure of eating his breakfast without her, he was
punished by her not speaking to him for the remainder of the day.
When breakfast was over, Mrs. Woodbridge devoted an hour to scolding
the servants, and five minutes to arranging her scheme of parsimony
for that day. This she called superintending her household affairs.
Then, having taken off her wrapper, and spent two hours in making a
very recherche toilette, she issued forth in a superb
dress-bonnet, with every thing to match, and passed the remainder of
the morning in costly visits to the fashionable shops, and to the
fashionable milliners and mantua-makers; and in leaving cards at the
doors of such of her acquaintances as lived in handsome houses, and
dressed expensively. The only persons with whom, on making her calls,
she desired an interview, were her cronies Mesdames Squanderfield and
Pinchington. Friends she had none.
About three o'clock Mrs. Woodbridge went home and undressed for
dinner, which in her house was always a paltry and uninviting repast:
such as her husband would have been really ashamed of if seen, and
which it was certainly politic to serve up in the privacy of the
little dining-room. As it was, he thought that at his own table he
never felt exactly like a gentlemen; and his genteel feelings were
brought still lower at times when for a day or two he found his house
without a single domestic: a condition to which a menage of
this description is not unfrequently reduced. Indeed, their servants
very often left them on account of the scanty supply of kitchen
utensils, averring that they were not allowed things to do their work
Of afternoons, the fair Charlotte, continuing in her dishabille,
and establishing herself permanently up stairs for the remainder of
the day, pursued her worsted work for a while, and then took a nap
till tea-time, and another after tea, while her husband went to the
Exchange to read the news by the eastern mail. During the remainder
of the evening, by the glare of a small, low, shadeless lamp, she
made herself an occupation with a bit of trifling and useless sewing,
interrupting him every few minutes with some querulous remark if he
was reading to himself, and falling into a doze if he was reading
aloud. About nine o'clock, (and sometimes before) she always began to
be very fidgety on the subject of having the lights and fires
extinguished, the house shut up, and preparations made by all within
it to go to bed with the utmost dispatch: implying that she saw no
use in wasting fuel and oil any longer; and always worrying without
ceasing till she had carried her point of a general retirement at an
unseasonably early hour.
If a gentleman called in the evening to see Mr. Woodbridge, the
parlor fire had gone out, no lamp had been lighted there, and all
below was gloomy and cheerless. It was a formidable undertaking to
clear out the grate and rekindle the fire, and to make an astral lamp
burn which was not in order for want of being in nightly use; and our
aggrieved hero soon found that of the two evils, the least was to
entertain his friends in the ever obnoxious dining-room: Mrs
Woodbridge, to avoid being caught in dishabille, always taking flight
to her own chamber before the guest could find his way up stairs.
Under these circumstances, it was not surprising that their house was
soon relieved from the inconvenience of visiters, and that the husband
and wife were left to the full enjoyment of each other's society;
except when he occasionally indulged himself by going to the Athenæum
for an evening of quiet reading in a well-warmed and well-lighted
room: even though sure to incur the penalty of finding his lady
speechless all the next day.
Mrs. Stapleford had several times volunteered to quit for a while
the delights of her beloved New York, and make a visit to her daughter
even in Philadelphia; but was always put off with some trifling
excuse from our heroine. Mrs. Woodbridge was well aware that
notwithstanding the close parsimony that prevailed in the paternal (or
rather maternal) mansion, her mother, when a guest at the house of
another person, was greatly displeased if all things were not
conducted on the most liberal scale.
Finally, however, Mrs. Stapleford was allowed to come. She
disappointed her daughter by not admiring sufficiently the handsome
parlor furniture which (on inquiring the prices of all the articles)
she took much pains to prove could have been purchased far better and
infinitely lower in New York. In return, Mrs. Woodbridge resolved to
make no alteration in her domestic arrangements during the visit of
her mother; saying when any thing was unusually mean or comfortless
— "You see, ma', I keep house exactly on your plan." And
indeed she rather outdid her pattern.
Mrs. Stapleford sometimes hinted a desire that this strict
adherence to her plan might be dispensed with, but her dutiful
daughter would make no improvement, and endeavored to persuade her
mother that, in Philadelphia, servants and all other things were far
worse, and more difficult to procure than in New York. Woodbridge was
annoyed, ashamed, and angry nearly the whole time. The visit was by
no means a satisfactory one to any of the parties: and Mrs.
Stapleford, instead of remaining a month (as she had at first
intended) stayed but a week; alledging that she was obliged to hurry
back to New York that she might not lose Mrs. Legion's grand annual
ball, for which there were never less than six hundred invitations
Each of the two brothers of our heroine came at different times on
business to Philadelphia, but wisely stayed at a hotel. Both were
invited to take a family dinner at their sister's house: she assuring
them that they need not expect any thing more than she would have had
for her husband and herself—"As you know"— said she—"that one
never stands on ceremony with one's brothers." This entire absence of
ceremony was indeed so very apparent that the young Staplefords
concluded for the future, not to forego an excellent dinner at an
excellent hotel for the scanty and unpalatable repast provided by
On the first of these occasions, our hero bore his vexation in
silence; on the second he expostulated with his wife when they were
alone in the evening. But she replied that the dinner was quite as
good as any they ever had in ma's house, and just such as her brothers
were used to at home; adding — "Harvey Woodbridge, I wonder you are
not tired of continually trying to make me change my plans. What
reason have you to suppose me one of those trifling, weak-minded
persons that can be persuaded to any thing? No — from my earliest
childhood I was always distinguished for firmness of character. I
remember when only five years old, because pa' bought me a doll for a
Christmas gift, when he knew I wanted a pearl ring, I held out for a
whole week; and all that time I would neither play with the doll or
even look at it, nor kiss pa' at bidding good night. So that on New
Year's day he was glad to get the pearl ring for me, as ma' had been
advising him all the while. No — no — have you yet to learn that
firmness is my forte?"
"That obstinacy is, I have learnt most thoroughly" — replied her
husband —"and that united with your other fortes is fast
wearing away the peace of my life. You really seem to be trying your
utmost to make my home irksome to me."
"Then you will have the more excuse for spending your evenings at
your beloved Athen æum. You had better go there now."
"I will take you at your word" — replied Woodbridge, rising to
"Harvey" — said his wife, as he was about to leave the room —
"as you have to pass Mustin's in your way, you may as well take this
bit of brown worsted and try and match it for me — I can't go on
with my work to-morrow, till I get some more of it."
"Confound the worsted!" — exclaimed her husband, turning angrily
away from her.
And as he hastily shut the door and precipitately ran down stairs,
she struck up melodiously the refrain of "Sweet — sweet home."
During a slight access of graciousness (purchased by the gift of a
diamond ring) Harvey Woodbridge prevailed on his consort to engage a
cook that had lived a long time in his father's family; and also to
take a waiter that had been for many years a servant to the brother of
our hero, a gentleman residing in Baltimore. Both these domestics
were excellent in their way, and (as far as permitted by what Mrs.
Woodbridge called her plans) they performed their duties well. Her
husband now thought that he would avail himself of the convenience of
having a very good cook and a very good waiter, and invite some
gentlemen to dine with him: trusting that the displeasure he had
evinced on the occasion of the evening visiters, &c., would operate as
a warning to his wife and induce her to make a proper provision for
the dinner party.
But the dinner party, as soon as he ventured to propose it, met a
decided disapproval from the lady, who said she did not see the use of
a parcel of men dining together, and that if money must be
spent, there were better ways of spending it: and that she fully
expected she should have to live all her life without an India shawl.
Her husband being very anxious to carry his point, reminded her that
they had not yet had an opportunity of displaying their fine French
china dinner set and other elegances appertaining. And then he called
her Charlotte Augusta, and assured her that a pretty woman always
looked peculiary well presiding at her own table, and doing the
honors to a company of gentlemen.
At length, after much assenting and dissenting, and agreeing with a
bad grace and disagreeing with no grace at all, the dinner was finally
undertaken, and fixed for the following Thursday. Interviews between
Mrs. Woodbridge and Mrs. Pinchington commenced forthwith.
In the mean time, as the appointed day drew near, our hero had
frequent and increasing misgivings, and at last ventured to question
his wife: concerning her preparations.
"You need not be afraid to leave every thing to me" — replied
Charlotte — pa' often had gentlemen to dine with him (much as it
annoyed ma') so I know very well what arrangements to make. And I
have very good advices, besides my natural judgment. Even if I were
incapable of preparing for dinner company, men have no business to be
"What is a cot-betty?" asked her husband.
"I wish you were as ignorant of the character as you are of the
name" — replied the lady sharply. "A cot-betty is what ma' used to
call pa.' A man that meddles with house affairs, and undertakes to
advise his wife about her domestic concerns; instead of sticking to
his store or his office (or whatever place he goes to) and giving his
whole attention to providing the money for his family expenses, as all
Harvey Woodbridge did not like to be classed among the cot-betties;
though, as young ladies are now brought up, a capable cot-betty
may prove a very valuable husband. Therefore, he, after this, held
his peace with respect to the dinner-party: which forbearance he was
only enabled to exercise by closing his eyes, ears, and understanding
against much that he saw, heard, and suspected.
At length the eventful afternoon arrived, and Mr. Woodbridge left
his store at an early hour, and repaired to his dwelling-house to be
ready for the reception of his guests. To his surprise he found that
no table had been set in the back-parlor. This was a thing he could
not on this occasion have anticipated: and hastily running up stairs,
he found it laid in the more-than-ever obnoxious little dining-room,
which looked even smaller and meaner than usual. His vexation was
intense, and hastening to the apartment of his wife, whom he found at
her toilette. "How is this" — said he — "I had not the most
distant idea of the dinner-table being set to-day in any other place
than the back-parlor. That vile little room will not do at all. It is
too small, too narrow, and the ceiling is too low."
"I did not expect we were to dine on the ceiling" — replied Mrs.
Woodbridge. But this attempt at a witticism did not succeed; and her
husband plainly expressed his displeasure at finding that his friends
were to be entertained in what he called in his anger "that abominable
"It is neither a hole nor abominable" — answered the lady —
"but a nice comfortable apartment. And you pay me a great compliment
by talking of it in that outrageous manner, when you know it is my
pet place, where you have spent so many happy hours in my society."
"Fudge!" — exclaimed Woodbridge, turning away from her,
completely out of patience.
"If domestic happiness is fudge" — resumed his wife — "I shall
be sorry enough for having quitted ma', and left my own city to go
away to a new place and live with a strange man."
"It is true" — said her husband, with a sort of sigh — "we
were almost strangers to each other when we married."
"And all this fuss" — pursued Charlotte — "is about dining in a
dining-room, as if it was not always the most proper place. Do not we
continually read of dining-rooms in the English fashionable novels.
The very lords and ladies do not dine in their parlors or
drawing-rooms even when they have company."
"The dining-rooms of the English gentry" — replied Woodbridge —
"are very different apartments from that paltry little place of ours.
I have no objection to a dining-room, provided that it is commodious
and pleasant, and that it has an air of gentility as well as
convenience. But I cannot endure the idea of making my guests eat
their dinner in the worst apartment of my house, though I have
yielded to the infliction myself."
"And I" — said Mrs. Woodbridge — "cannot endure the idea of
having our parlor furniture greased or stained or injured in any way,
even by one single dinner. Never supposing such a thing would be
wanted, I did not get a parlor crumbcloth, and the one we have up
stairs is too small to save any other carpet than that of the
"And is this the reason you have set so small a table. Worse than
all, my friends will not have elbow-room."
"I never saw a man yet"—replied Charlotte— "who would not
somehow or other manage to convey his dinner to his mouth. When a
large table is set, there must be a great deal to cover it: and it is
not my way to provide more than is necessary. I know very well how ma'
managed when pa' would have dinner company. And besides I have
consulted Mrs. Pinchington. She was so kind as to accompany me to
this occasion" — said Woodbridge, with a look
of alarm — "you are not going to mortify me before my friends with
the sight of a mean and scanty dinner."
"There will be dinner enough" — replied his wife coolly — "and
even if there should not, (as I heard a man say in a play,) nobody
calls for more at another persons table. The fact is, I so hate
extravagance that, as I have often told you it is really a pleasure to
me to save in every little thing as much as I can."
And she finished adjusting before a glass, a new laced pelerine
that she had bought the day before and which Mrs. Squanderfield
assured her was cheap at forty dollars.
"You Philadelphians" — she added — "think there can never be
too much on the table, and I am told that the further south the worse."
"Two of my guests are southern gentlemen"— said Woodbridge —
"and I am convinced that all who dine with me to-day have been
accustomed to `sit at good men's feasts.' "
"Harvey" — said his wife — "do not make me uncomfortable, or I
won't come to table. I feel very much like hysterics already. I have
been annoyed enough with Phillis this morning."
"Phillis, who was brought up by my mother"— exclaimed Woodbridge
— "there cannot be a more excellent cook."
"Rather too excellent for me" — replied Charlotte, "I have been
thinking for some time of parting with her. Mrs. Pinchington tells me
(and I have found it so myself,) that it is cheapest to keep cooks
that are not considered very good. And as to particularity about food,
it is a thing I am not going to encourage. Ma' never did. Phillis is
the last professed cook I shall ever be troubled with. This morning
she was so vexed at my not having things as extravagant as she thought
proper, that she said something that made me angry, and I packed her
out of the house. So then I had to coax Mary to get the dinner."
"What, Mary — the raw Irish girl — the chamber-maid. Surely she
knows nothing about cooking. It would have been better at once to have
sent out and hired a professed cook for the day."
"So Cæsar had the assurance to tell me, and he did prevail on me to
let him go for an aunt of his, who goes out cooking at what she calls
a low price, a dollar a day. But, as Phillis had already made a
begining, I was determined not to give more than sixty-two cents, so
we could not agree; though at the last I did offer her
seventy-five. As for my giving a dollar for cooking one dinner, it
was quite out of the question: so there was nothing to be done but to
set Mary about it."
"I would rather have given ten dollars! Mary is little better than
"How can you say so, when she came from New York, where she
had lived a whole month with ma'. And even if she is rather
stupid, there is the less danger of her objecting to any thing I tell
her to do. Ma' could never get along with smart servants. But I wish
you would go down stairs. Your friends will be arriving presently."
"Cæsar, of course, has obeyed the orders I gave him about the wine"
— said Woodbridge.
"He wanted to do so" — replied the wife — "but between you and
him I found there was wine enough got out for twenty people instead of
eight. So I made him put back the half of it. He began to look gruff,
and then —"
"Charlotte! Charlotte!" — exclaimed the alarmed husband — "if
you have turned Cæsar out of doors — Cæsar who had lived ten years
with my brother, and is so useful and so faithful —"
"Do not be frightened" — replied Charlotte — "Cæsar would not
go. He had the insolence to say he should wait till Mr. Woodbridge
"He is a good fellow" — said Woodbridge — "and I am obliged to
him for not deserting me this day."
"Don't talk of his goodness. When I threatened to tell Mrs.
Pinchington of him, he held down his head to keep from laughing in my
A ring at the door-bell now announced that the guests were
beginning to come, and Woodbridge smoothed the discomposure of his
countenance, and hastened down stairs to receive them. His lady did
not appear till the gentlemen had all assembled, and she then made her
entrance through the folding-doors of the back-parlor, and proceeded
gracefully to the front; elegantly drest, and looking as sweet and
innocent as if incapable of uttering one unamiable word, or conceiving
one unamiable thought. Just so she had looked when Woodbridge was
first introduced to her at a party in New York.
All the gentlemen having arrived, Woodbridge took an opportunity of
asking his wife, in a low voice, if it was not time that dinner was
announced. Upon which she whispered to him that she was waiting for
Mrs. Pinchington, who had kindly volunteered to come and support her
on this her first appearance as hostess at a gentlemen's party. In
about half an hour Mrs. Pinchington came, excusing herself for being
detained by an unexpected visiter; but in reality having prudently
stayed to secure a good dinner at her boarding-house. Mr. Woodbridge,
though she had become his besetting antipathy, was obliged to offer
Mrs. Pinchington his arm; and his face flushed with shame as
Charlotte, all smiles and sweetness, accompanied by his principal
guest (a gentleman from Virginia) led the way up stairs into the
paltry dining-room: and he bit his lips at the first glance at the
table, though it was profusely ornamented with flowers.
The festive board was so short, that the guests could scarcely
squeeze into their places, and the dining room was so narrow that the
said table had to be set over to one side, that Cæsar might have
space to pass on the other. When all were with some difficulty
seated, Mrs. Woodbridge with great sang froid began to send
around some thin greasy ash-colored broth, being a decoction of cold
veal with a few shreds of vermicelli floating in it, and
highly-flavored with smoke: Mary having forgotten to cover it while it
was simmering over an ill-made fire. This potation, Mrs. Pinchington,
after swallowing a spoonful or two, announced to be a delicious white
soup. The unfortunate man whose duty it was to perform the part of
host, proceeded to help a piece of boiled halibut served up without
draining, but it looked so sanguinary that no one chose to try it;
for even the lovers of what is called rare beef seldom have a
fancy for rare fish. For the second course, the soup was replaced by a
small tough round of par-baked beef, black on the outside, and
raw within, and denominated boeuf-a-la-mode: the a-la-moding
being a few cloves stuck over the top which had been previously rubbed
with powdered allspice; this beef Mrs. Pinchington declined tasting
lest it should prove too rich for her. The bottom dish was a meagre
roast pig, (called "delicate" by Mrs. Pinchington) accompanied by a
tureen of watery panada termed, on this occasion, bread-sauce. After
the company had pretended to eat these things, Cæsar was desired to
bring on the third course. The third course was mutton chops, which
were to have been cotellettes a la Maintenon, but which Irish
Mary had produced au naturel: and also a dish of something
begun as croquettes, but ended as mere minced veal, washy and
tasteless. Afterwards was introduced as a bonne-bouch, two pair
of split birds sprawling on greasy slices of ill-made toast, and
called game by the ladies but known to be pigeons by Cæsar and the
gentlemen. All the vegetables prepared for this dinner were few in
number, small in quantity, half-boiled, halfdrained, and mixed with
that disgrace to a lady's house, cooking butter, its
disagreeable taste predominating through all disguise, and rendering
every thing unpalatable. The fourth course was at the top a superb
glass bowl half full of a pale lilac liquid, consisting of
faintly sweetened milk that had been skimmed till blue, and was then
tinged with something pinkish. This was dignified by the name of
floating island; the island being a spoonful of cream taken from the
said milk and beaten up with sufficient white of egg to give it "a
local habitation and a name," by forming a small heap in the centre of
the bowl. At the bottom sat a dish containing a few cones of boiled
rice that had been moulded in wineglasses, the summit of each cone
decorated with a red spot made by sticking on a mashed cranberry.
This part of the dessert was highly recommended to the company by
Mrs. Pinchington, who assured them that rice was a delicious thing
and "so pure." The centre confection was a flat leathery pancake
denominated omelette soufflee, the very sight of which would
have made Fossard tear his hair. This strange affair had been
manufactured under the immediate superintendence of Mrs. Woodbridge
herself, who did it exactly "ma's way." The side-dishes held a few
very small stale tartlets about the size of a half dollar procured at
a low-priced cake-shop, each containing a half tea-spoonful of
mysterious marmelade, made of some indescribable fruit mounted in
marvellous heavy paste. These tartlets Mrs. Pinchington called
We need not attempt to depict the sufferings of our excitable hero
during the progress of this dinner, or to tell how continually his
resolutions to bear it manfully were on the point of giving way. In
vain did he try to repress the outward and visible signs of vexations,
mortifications, indignation and all the other ations that in
spite of his efforts to conceal them were flushing his cheek, knitting
his brow, compressing his lips, and trembling in his voice. Once he
found his hand rambling through his hair, and once he found his teeth
gritting against each other; but on both these occasions he
recollected himself in time to smile an unnatural smile, and to talk
some ransom talk.
But Mr. Woodbridge's disgust and anger did not quite rise to its
climax till he tasted the madeira which, when he purchased it, he knew
to be of the first quality, and which he now found had been greatly
diluted with water after being decanted; evidently to make it go
further. On glancing at his wife he met her eye watching his, and he
saw by her guilty look to whom he must attribute the adulteration. Had
she been able to draw the corks, it is most probable that the hock
and champaigne would not have escaped a similar allongement.
Poor Cæsar well understood and deeply sympathized in the numerous
annoyances that assailed Mr. Woodbridge at this unhappy dinner: to
say nothing of the griefs that were more particularly his own. He
prided himself greatly on his skill and alertness in the art of
waiting on company, on his savior faire in arranging, on his
dexterity in executing, and in the harmonious but unquestionable
authority with which he could give a tone to the movements of the apt
and welltutored "coloured gentlemen," that on similar occasions had
always been employed to assist him. Mrs. Woodbridge having persisted
in not hiring a single additional waiter, Cæsar had so much to do
that he had no chance of doing any thing well, or of displaying his
usual tact in seeing without seeming to see, and anticipating the
wishes of the guests. To-day he felt "his laurels withering on his
brow," but his crowning horror was the sight of Irish Mary, when he
had to receive from her the dishes at the door of a little back
staircase that led down to the kitchen. Having put on her worst
costume to cook in, she presented herself in full view, slip-shod, and
bareheeled, in an old dirty gown its sleeves dipped in grease, a
ragged and filthy apron, her handkerchief pinned awry over one
shoulder and leaving the other exposed, and her elf-locks hanging
about her ears. On handing in each dish she took an opportunity of
standing awhile with her stupid whitish eyes and her large heavy mouth
wide open, to stare at the company, till Cæsar shut the door in her
face; upon which affront her murmurs and threats were audable all the
way down stairs.
This dinner appeared endless to all concerned in it, except to
Mary, who taking no note of time, and being unprovided with the organ
of clockknowledge, had nothing ready when wanted, or indeed for a
long while after. The dusk of evening had darkened the table, and the
guests were feeling about among the spotted oranges and worm-eaten
apples, the cooking raisins and the stony-shelled almonds that
had been set on subsequent to the removal of the cloth. Mr. Woodbridge
after waiting in vain for his wife to order lights till it became so
dark that he could scarcely discern her, gave several hints to that
effect: but she continued hint-proof. He then audibly desired Cæsar
to bring them. Cæsar on passing near Mrs. Woodbridge was detained a
few moments by a low talk from her, and the result was two candles
only. Immediately after their introduction, she made a signal to Mrs.
Pinchington, and both ladies left the table; Mrs. Woodbridge taking
an opportunity of telling Cæsar that it was not worth while to light
the entry-lamp as the gentlemen would soon go. Having reached her own
apartment Mrs. Woodbridge changed her dress and threw herself on the
bed, exclaiming that she was dead with fatigue: and Mrs. Pinchington
prepaired to go home, escorted by Cæsar, who was rung up for the
purpose. She took an affectionate leave of her hostess, assuring her
that she should report every where how delightfully the dinner had
gone off, and expressing her hope to be at many more exactly like it.
"Oh! Jupiter!" exclaimed Cæsar, for a moment forgetting where he was.
Mrs. Woodbridge frowned, and Mrs. Pinchington stooped down to tie her
In consequence of having to walk behind this lady to her lodgings,
Cæsar to his vexation was unable to superintend the making of the
coffee, and when he got home he found that Mrs. Woodbridge, in her
impatience to hurry the departure of the gentlemen, had ordered Irish
Mary to prepare and carry it in herself; and the weak, cold and muddy
beverage was left in every cup, almost untasted by the company.
The guests departed: and Cæsar cleared away the table sighing
heavily over the disgraces of the day: and confirmed in his resolution
of seeking another place when he found his Hibernian colleague lying
intoxicated on the kitchen floor.
Harvey Woodbridge passed the remainder of the evening extended on
one of the parlor sofas, and endeavoring to devise some plan for
expanding the mind and heart of his wife, improving her disposition,
and rendering her ideas and practices less mean and less selfish.
Knowing, however, that she could not have been blind to all the
inconveniences and vexations which, on this occasion particularly, had
arisen from her ill-judged parsimony and her wilful perseverance in
it, he imagined her touched for once with compunction, and perhaps
sincerely disposed to try and do better for the future. "This after
all" — thought he — "may prove a salutary lesson to her. She
cannot be always incorrigible. I will spare her feelings to-night,
and refrain from all expostulation till to-morrow; and then I will
reason with her as calmly and mildly as I can."
He rose early next morning and took a walk to Schuylkill, willing
to defer a little longer his intended remonstrance. On his return,
breakfast was not ready, and Charlotte had not come down. He tried in
vain to read the newspaper: but threw it aside, and traversed the room
till she made her appearance; and Cæsar at the same time brought in
As soon as the repast was over and the breakfast apparatus removed,
our hero commenced his expostulation, making a strong effort to
control his feelings and to speak with calmness. Without referring to
former subjects of similar annoyance, he tried to confine himself
entirely to the dinner-party: setting forth with all the eloquence of
truth the shame and mortification she had caused him by her unhappy
notions of ultra-economy, so absurdly and annoyingly put in practice
on that much-to-be-regretted occasion; lessening both her and himself
in the eyes of his guests, all whom, as he said, had a just right to
consider themselves treated with disrespect at being set down in a
gentlemen's house to so paltry an entertainment, and in so paltry a
"If you talk in this way, Harvey" — said Charlotte Woodbridge —
"I shall go off into strong hysterics."
This threat, however, had lost its effect; for though Harvey had
often heard of hysterics he had never seen them.
"Charlotte" — said he — "this is no time for folly. Beleieve me
when I assure you that I am seriously determined to insist on a
general reform in the whole tenor of your household arrangements. I
am completely disgusted with living in this manner, and will submit to
it no longer. My patience is exhausted with the vain effort of
suppressing my vexation, and in trying to endure in silence the
innumerable petty annoyances with which you contrive to embitter every
hour of my life; and I am still more tired of ineffectual
remonstrances, and useless bickerings about trifles."
"Why then do you bicker?"
"Nonsense! — Is not domestic misery composed chiefly of trifles:
each a unit in itself, but the whole when added togather making a
large sum total."
"I despise business talk."
"Charlotte — Charlotte! — I doubt if in reality you are as
silly as you would seem to be."
"Yes, I am — and so you will always find me. As I never had the
least wish to be sensible, I did not trouble myself to try. Ma' always
said that sensible girls got but few beaux, and did not go off well.
Her only care was that I should grow up pretty, and be handsomely and
fashionably drest. So I always had plenty of beaux, and I did go off
— to be sure it was no great go. And, now, though I am a married
woman, I see no reason why I should not wish to look as well and be
admired just the same as before. As to the management of the house and
all that sort of thing, I again assure you that I shall not make the
least change in my plans now or ever — do you attend to your business, and I will manage mine."
"Oh! Charlotte" — exclaimed her husband, having listened to this
tirade as much in sorrow as in anger, "Can nothing make any
impression on you. Or rather, why are all your sayings and doings so
perverse and wilful, when there must at the bottom of your heart be
some latent touch of tenderness for the man who loving you sincerely,
was willing to take you upon trust, without any previous knowledge of
your temper and habits; and who so frankly and fondly entrusted his
happiness to your keeping."
"`Nobody asked you, sir,' she said"—
was the reply of our wayward heroine, singing a line from a
well-known ballad, and making a low curtesy; "did you not fall in love
the moment you were introduced to me at Mrs. Vanvernigen's party,
where I wore my rose-colored ærophine with the satin corsage and the
coquille trimming, and carried in my hand a silver bouquetaire with
six dollars worth of hot-house flowers in it? And did not you steal a
sprig of heliotrope from my bouquet, and put it to your lips instead
of your nose — I saw you do it! And did not you follow me all about
the room, and talk to nobody else, and give me your arm to the
supper-table, and go without your own supper that you might accompany
me back to the front drawing-room and get a seat on an ottoman beside
me? And did not you wait at the door to put me into the carriage, tho'
my pa' and brothers were along? And then you know very well how you
came next morning the clock struck eleven, (a full hour before any
reasonable creature thinks of making a visit:) and how you bespoke
yourself to escort me to Miss Semibreve's musical soiree; and whenever
a song finished and a piece began did not you look delighted, because
then you could talk to me all the while, as nobody is bound to listen
to pieces? Did you not from that time visit me twice a day, and go
every where with me even to church, and actually come to a proposal on
our way home, at the corner of Broadway and Warren street. And did
not you detain me on the door-step till I consented, scrambling hold
of my hand and tearing my white kid glove? And the very moment we were
engaged did not you bounce after me into the front parlor and ask
"I plead guilty to all this" — replied Woodbridge— "Next time I
will be less precipitate."
"So will I" — said Charlotte.
"We are talking very absurdly" — resumed Woodbridge — after a
short pause — "I began this conversation with an earnest desire to
make a serious impression on you, and to awaken your good feelings;
for I hope and trust you are not entirely without them."
"Feelings" — replied our heroine — "I do not know why I should
be suspected of want of feeling. I am sure I always cry at the theatre
when I see other ladies with their handkerchiefs to their eyes, for
then I am certain there is something to be cried at. When I was a
little girl I actually sobbed one night at the play, when
Cinderella's sisters made her stay at home from the ball. It is not a
month ago that I looked very serious when every one else was laughing
at that wicked Petruchio not allowing his wife to have her new gown
and cap. However, I suppose I had best say nothing about Petruchio —
as it may not be quite safe for me to put him into your head."
"Charlotte — Charlotte" — exclaimed her husband— "no more of
this folly: but listen attentively to what I am going to say. In the
first place I insist on your giving up Mrs. Pinchington and Mrs.
"What, my best friends! — my most intimate friends! — the only
true friends I have!"
"Your husband is your best and truest friend."
"You really make me laugh — as if husbands and friends were not
totally different things! — Do you think I could ever talk to you,
and consult you on all occasions, as I do these two ladies."
"Supposing then that that were impossible — have you not become
acquainted with other ladies far superior to these for all purposes of
conversation and consultation."
"How should you know — men are no judges of women. I can assure
you that of all the ladies I have met with in Philadelphia, Mrs.
Pinchington and Mrs. Squanderfield are the most to my taste."
"I am sorry to hear it."
"I tell you again that I shall always regard them as my best and
dearest and only friends. Both of them are so fond of me that they
actually grieve if they do not see me every day. They have nothing so
much at heart as me and my good."
"I wish they would let you and your good alone!"
"That is not your writ, Mr. Woodbridge — I heard a man say
something like it in a play. No— the interest they feel in me is
quite astonishing, and they always give me proper advice, just such
as I like to take; and as they have nothing to do but to go about and
see people, they always have a great deal to tell me of such things as
I like to hear. As to this dinner that has so much affronted you, I
have the most cause to be offended at your finding fault with it
after all the trouble it gave me. So I assure you it is the last
dinner party I will ever preside over."
"Would you wish me to invite my friends to dine with me at a hotel,
as if I had no means of entertaining them at home."
"No, indeed — when ma' was on here, she told me that pa' had
tried that experiment, and that the expense was enormous; and besides,
the leavings were all lost, as they could not be had to furnish
family dinners afterwards. People can live, I suppose, without
having dinner company, or indeed any company at all. And much as you
despise yesterday's entertainment, the expense of it actually
frightened me. However, I can tell you, for your comfort, that we dine
to-day upon the cold things that were left."
"What cold things?"
"No matter what. When pa'
would have dinner company, ma'
never sent to market for a week afterwards."
"And was he contented to dine on scraps for a week?"
"Contented or not, he had to do it for years and years. To be sure
at last he got into a very provoking way of dining at a hotel whenever
he expected a scrap dinner (as you call it,) at his own table."
"I will follow your worthy father's example, and dine to-day at a
"Are you in earnest."
"Yes, I am. If you will not listen to talking, I will try what
virtue there is in acting."
"Why it will cost you a dollar or more."
"I know it. But I shall at least obtain a dollars worth of comfort,
and have a chance of composing my temper, and dining in peace."
"I have no more time to waste with you" — said his wife, seeing
that he was determined on accomplishing this new feat. "I must go to
Madame Tourtelot's at eleven o'clock, to be fitted for my
pearl-colored figured satin and my fawncolored lustre-silk. But to
think of your throwing away a dollar upon a dinner for yourself. The
extravagance of men is awful."
She then repaired to her own apartment; and her husband too much
ruffled to pursue his expostulation with the temper he desired,
prepared to go out.
In the entry he was way-laid by Cæsar, who informed him that he
wished Mr. Woodbridge to suit himself with another waiter by the end
of the month, adding — "Indeed, sir, I am sorry to leave you, but I
seem as if I could not stand things no longer, 'specially Irish Mary.
Her head is so muddled from yesterday, that I found her, when she was
getting breakfast, haggling at the loaf with the side of a fork
instead of a knife, and saying — "Oh! but it's hard this bread is to
cut, then." And I catched her greasing the griddle with the end of a
candle, and when I stopped her short in her wickedness, she said —
"Ah! and what would ye have then — grase is grase all the world
over." Indeed, sir, you don't know how hard it is to live day in and
day out with a woman that's a born fool."
"Yes, I do" — thought Woodbridge — and he almost sighed to
think that he had not, like Cæsar, the resource of changing his home.
However, he merely replied — "Very well, Cæsar — you may refer to
me for a character" — and with a heavy heart he walked to his store.
That day, resolving to put his threat into practice, our hero
dine at a hotel. His wife, after finishing her dress-fitting,
shopping, and cardleaving, went to take her dinner, as the guest of
Mesdames Squanderfield and Pinchington, at their boarding-house. She
found that both these ladies had gone together up the river; one on a
visit to an acquaintance at Burlington, the other to see a relative
living at Bristol. Nevertheless she accepted the slight invitation of
her former hostess, the mistress of the establishment, to stay and
dine with ker, as the dinner-bell was about to ring.
Towards evening, Mr. Woodbridge came home in much better temper;
and was disposed to enter into a cheerful conversation with his
wayward Charlotte. But she kept a sullen silence; and at the
tea-table she steadily put aside every thing he offered her, helping
herself to it immediately after. When their uncomfortable tea was
over, her husband again tried to reason with her on the subject of
that perverseness which was undermining his affection and destroying
their peace. She made not a word of answer, but lay motionless and
speechless, reclining on the sofa. After a while, she turned to the
wall and threw a handkerchief over her head. "She is touched at last"
— thought Woodbridge. "To hide her face and weep in silence is a
good symptom. I have hopes of her yet." He then softened his tone,
and made a tender and powerful appeal to what he called her best
feelings. In conclusion, he rose from his chair, went to her in much
emotion, and taking her passive hand, addressed her as his beloved
Charlotte. Still, she replied not. He gently withdrew the handkerchief
from her face. She was fast asleep.
Her husband sighed — replaced the handkerchief; resumed his seat
before the dull and ashy fire; folded his arms: and gazed awhile on
the ceiling. Then he took up a book, but held it unconsciously for
half an hour, forgetting to open it. At last he started up, and went
out to revive himself by a walk in the open air. Finally, on passing
one of the theatres he strolled in and placed himself in the back of a
box; but though his eyes were fixed on the stage, he had no perception
of any thing that he saw, and no comprehension of any thing he heard.
He only knew when the performance was over by finding that the lights
were extinguishing and the benches vacated. He then went to his
cheerless home, and found that his wife had retired for the night and
was sleeping with her usual tranquility.
Next morning their breakfast passed exactly like the tea of the
preceding evening, and Woodbridge went to his house in silent despair.
When he again came home he found that though yesterday he had dined
at a hotel to escape the threatened leavings of a vile dinner, his
wife, with malice prepense, had kept these "shadows of a
shade" to set before him to-day, and as long as they could be made to
It chanced that just at that time Mr. Stapleford the father of our
heroine, had some commercial business which made it necessary for him
to visit Philadelphia and Baltimore. He left New York in the earliest
morning line, and having reached the Delaware and dined in the boat,
his attention as he sat reading on deck, was withdrawn from the
newspaper by the conversation of two ladies who occupied seats just in
front of him. One of the dames proved to be Mrs. Squanderfield. She
had come on board at Bristol, and expressed great delight at meeting
her friend, Mrs. Pinchington, who had been taken in at Burlington.
Both ladies talked in a very audible under-tone, and Mr. Stapleford
thought of changing his place 'till he was startled by hearing the
name of his daughter. Curiosity then triumphed over every other
consideration, and, keeping his eyes on the paper, he sat still and
"A-propos, my dear Mrs. Pinchington" — proceeded Mrs.
Squanderfield — "you have not yet told me the particulars of the
great Woodbridge dinner. I was out when you came home from it— and
yesterday morning, as we went up the river, you know how I was beset
by that persevering man, Mr. Bulkworthy, who monopolized me the whole
time; as, to say the truth, he always does whenever we meet."
"You seemed very well pleased to be thus monopolized" — replied
Mrs. Pinchington, with a Sardonic smile. "If you had chosen to change
your seat, he could not have made much progress in following you,
with his immense size and his gouty foot. However, my dear Mrs.
Squanderfield, let me advise you, as a friend, to take care what you
are about. Old fat men are not always rich: though silly girls and
dashing widows seem to think so. Neither is the gout always caused by
high living, and therefore a proof that they have a great deal to live
on. Besides, by not paying their debts, they may get the gout at
other people's expense."
"How you run on" — answered Mrs. Squanderfield— evidently
desirous of changing the subject. "But do tell me how the Woodbridge
dinner-party went off. I suppose, as usual, Mrs. W. was superbly
drest. I know she got every thing new for the occasion, for I was with
her when she bought all her paraphernalia. That pearl-colored figured
satin could not have cost less than fifty-dollars by the time it was
made up— and that laced pelerine was forty. What a passion she has
for laced pelerines. I know that she has six others, all equally
elegant and costly. Then the blond cap and French flowers, that she
bought to wear on the back of her head, was fifteen. When I am out
shopping with Mrs. Woodbridge, it almost makes my hair stand on end to
see how readily she agrees to buying the most extravagant things, and
things which she cannot possibly want. I cannot imagine where she
finds room to stow away all her dead stock. Her husband will find
that the dressing alone of his pretty doll will add to his annual
expenses, not merely hundreds of dollars, but actually thousands. I
was telling my friends at Bristol all about the Woodbridges; and they
agree with me that the poor man little knows what is before him. I
have asked several New Yorkers about her family, and they say that
old Stapleford's wife is a bye word, even there, for her extravagance
Mr. Stapleford changed color, and looked off from his paper, and
could not suppress a deep sigh — and then made an effort to appear
more intent on his reading than ever.
"I have heard, also" — continued Mrs. Squanderfield— ("and from
persons who have been at her house,) that in her domestic concerns
there never was a meaner skin-flint than that same Mrs. Stapleford.
One of my New York friends told me she had a cook that had once lived
at Stapleford's. On some grand occasion, when they were to have an
apple-pie, Mrs. S. gave out six apples to pare and quarter; and then
she came into the kitchen and counted the bits of apple, and because
there were only twenty-two pieces instead of twenty-four, she scolded
the cook violently, and ended by calling her a thief. So the woman
went right out of the house, leaving the dinner at a stand. Of course
she told the apple story every where, and in a day or two it was all
over New York."
Mr. Stapleford's sigh was now audible — for he remembered this
cook, (the best they ever had,) and he was well aware of the
circumstances attending her departure. The ladies, however, were
sitting with their backs that way, and did not observe him. After
pausing a minute to take breath, Mrs. Squanderfield proceeded —
"But about this dinner — it must have gone to Mrs. Woodbridge's
heart to get it up. I long to know all the particulars."
"It would take me till to-morrow morning to tell the whole" —
replied Mrs. Pinchington — "so at present, I can only give you a
slight sketch. Well — in the first place we were ushered into that
wretched hole that she calls the dining-room: though it's their sole
abiding-place, morning, noon, and night. There was a little bit of a
table set cater-cornered to give more space; notwithstanding which we
were all squeezed flat by the time we had got wedged into our seats.
The only waiter was their man Cæsar, for she could not open her heart
so far as to hire an assistant even on that extraordinary occasion,
the first dinner company they have ever had. The dishes were handed
in by a horrid Irish girl, all filth and rags, who stood staring, open
mouthed, the whole time— never having seen such great doings before."
"But do tell me what they had by way of eatables" — cried Mrs.
"Why there was a soup which tasted exactly like smoked dish-water.
And a hard, tough, black looking piece of beef — and a morsel of
half-raw fish. The chief dish seemed to be a pig, that looked as if
he had been killed just in time to save him from dying, and which I
know she got at half-price, for I went to market with her myself.
Then, by way of game, were some pigeons, with scarcely a mouthful of
flesh on their bones, split in half, and looking as flat as boards.
The butter was detestable, and would have spoiled every thing, only
that every thing was spoiled before. The dessert was utter trash —
milk — and rice — and froth — and a few miserable cheap tarts,
made of nothing: and a little decayed fruit, turned with the best side
uppermost. And as dusk came on, we had to poke about among the things
all in the dark, for she would not allow us candles to eat by. But the
wine — the wine above all — I forgot to tell you of the wine. It
had actually been watered to make it go further. Think of gentlemen
at a dining-party filling their glasses with wine and water!"
"Wretched, indeed! — But how did the sensitive Mr. Harvey
Woodbridge live through all this?"
"Oh! poor miserable creature" — replied Mrs. Pinchington — "he
really moved my compassion— I absolutely felt for him. I wish you
could have beheld his face when his eye first glanced over the dinner
table: I could scarcely keep from laughing all the time, to see how
ashamed he was of every thing, and how he labored to conceal his
mortification; the natural man peeping out in spite of himself. It
was really too good to see how he tried to smile, not knowing that his
smile was only a ghastly grin. And how he twinkled his eyes and
essayed to look pleasant, when he felt the fire flashing from them;
and how he twitched his brows to smooth them, when he found they were
contracting into a frown; and how he endeavored to soften his voice
and talk agreeably, lest he should break out into an open fury."
"And how did his wife take all this?"
"His wife — it was best of all to see how she sat in her finery,
with a coolness that really amounted to impudence and looking as sweet
and amiable as if she was presiding at the best spread table in the
world, and enjoying the satisfaction of the company. That woman has
not an atom of either sense or feeling. For my part, I was glad to
get away as soon as I possibly could, that I might indemnify myself at
my own tea-table for the miserable dinner I had pretended to
eat.— Young as she is, Mrs. Woodbridge is certainly the meanest
woman I ever yet met with — and I have a good chance of knowing, for
she consults me about all her plans, as she calls them."
"And she is also the most extravagant, rejoined Mrs. Squanderfield.
"I ought certainly to know when I so often go shopping with her."
"The fact is" — rejoined Mrs. Pinchington — "she will drive
that husband of hers to desperation before long."
Mr. Stapleford could listen no more. He threw down his newspaper,
started up, and walked the deck in unconcealed pertubation: forgetting
where he was, and regardless of all observers. In the mean time,
Mesdames Squanderfield and Pinchington continued to regale each other
with alternate and exagerated anecdotes of the meanness and
extravagance of their friend Mrs. Woodbridge, till the boat arrived at
Chestnut-street wharf from whence the two cronies proceeded to their
lodgings, arm in arm.
The unhappy father of our heroine had been too much absorbed in his
own irritated feelings to be conscious of the progress of the boat. He
looked not at either shore — he recognized none of the landmarks;
and he only started from his painful reverie when the boat touched the
pier and the roaring of the steam announced that its work was over
for that day. On landing, he almost unconsciously replied to the
importunities of a hack-driver, threw himself and his baggage into a
coach, and repaired to the dwelling of his son-in-law.
On arriving at the house, the front door was opened by Cæsar, (who
yet lingered in the establishment) and the old gentleman exclaimed —
"Where is that dining-room — I know she is there." He then before
Cæsar could show him into the parlor, ran straight up stairs, and
found the place intuitively.
The young couple had just concluded their slender dinner at which
Woodbridge (to whom nothing was more intolerable than silent anger,
and who already longed to conciliate his wife, almost on any terms)
had been trying in vain to force a conversation. But Charlotte held
out, and answered in sullen monosyllables — it being her way when
she knew she had done wrong to behave always as if she was the person
that had most cause to be offended. They were both struck with
surprise at the unexpected appearance of Mr. Stapleford. When they
recovered, Harvey shook hands with him, and Charlotte kissed her pa',
and asked him if he had dined.
"Yes" — he replied, struggling to keep down his wrath — "I
dined in the boat — I have had my dinner — Are you not glad? But I
am hot and thirsty, and I want some drink."
"What will you have, pa'?" — inquired Charlotte. "Here is some
"I want some brandy also" — Said Mr. Stapleford. "Water is weak
— it does not drive away care. Give me some brandy, too — I must
Woodbridge rang the bell, and Cæsar was desired to bring some cool
water; after which our hero silently brought some brandy himself, and
placed it on the table, while Charlotte looked pale and amazed.
Mr. Stapleford mixed a tumbler full of strong brandy and water, and
then said to his son-in-law — "Shall I mix one for you? — I have
become quite clever at the business."
"I never drink brandy" — replied Woodbridge.
"Then I hope to Heaven you never may" — said the old man,
fervently, and raising his eyes, in which the tears seemed to glisten.
But he passed the back of his hand across them, paused a moment, then
snatched up the glass, and hastily swallowed the half of its contents.
"There" — said he, throwing himself into a chair — "you see
what I have come to, I, your father-in-law, and her father.
Have you not heard it? Don't you know it? I am a drunkard now — I
am — I am. It is a shameful, dreadful vice. It came upon me by slow
degrees; but it has come, and every body knows it: you see it
in my face, don't you? Look at me, look, I bear about me the
unfailing signs, you know I do."
They looked at him: it was too true. There was that redness in his
face which never can be mistaken for the honest glow of health.
"Do you know what has made me a drunkard?"— resumed Mr.
Stapleford — "A bad wife. A wife may be bad, and yet she may neither
play cards nor tipple, nor betray the honor of her husband. But she
may destroy his peace, she may undermine his happiness, she may wear
out his love by the everlasting rubbing of petty annoyances. I have
read — (for I once did read) — that one of the severest
tortures inflicted by the Romish Inquisition, was a contrivance which
caused water to fall unceasingly, day after day, week after week,
month after month, in single drops, one at a time, upon the head of
the miserable captive. I too, have had my drops, and I know what I
have suffered from them. And she that selfishly and heartlessly
inflicted that suffering was my wife, your mother Charlotte, and I
fear that you are indeed her true daughter."
"Dear pa"' — said Charlotte — "pray don't talk so dreadfully,
and, above all, before Harvey."
"I will, I will" — exclaimed her father, "and before Harvey,
above all, will I do it. Let him take warning, for I know that he
needs the lesson. Do not exchange glances at each other, I am not
intoxicated yet, I am quite sober still, and I know exactly
what I am saying. But while I can yet do so, (for now I have begun
with the poison I must keep on) I will tell you what I heard in the
Delaware boat to-day. There were two women taken on board, (ladies I
suppose I must call them.) I chanced to sit where I overheard their
conversation, and I could not help listening, when my ear was struck
with your name, and I found they were talking about my daughter.
Perhaps it was dishonorable to sit and listen; but I am not an
honorable man now; I do things every day that once I would have
shuddered at. I found that these women knew you well."
"Mrs. Squanderfield and Mrs. Pinchington, I suppose" — said
Woodbridge, turning to his wife.
"Yes" — continued Mr. Stapleford — "those were their names. One
of them had been at a dinner-party, here, in this little room; and she
detailed it all to her companion, broadly and coarsely enough, but
still I knew that, in the main, her statement was true. She described
and ridiculed the paltry, contemptible dinner, and its wretched
arrangements; and Woodbridge's ill-concealed effort to repress his
shame and mortification. Then as one of these women talked about your
meanness, the other discussed your extravagance: and told of the money
you were continually throwing away in useless finery for the
decoration of your own person, while you denied your husband the
comforts which every gentleman has a right in his own house to expect,
if he can furnish the means of procuring them. I listened to their
talk, and I understood it all, I felt it all, for I knew by sad
experience what it was."
"Is it possible," said Charlotte, with quivering lips, "that Mrs.
Squanderfield and Mrs. Pinchington could have talked of me in that
manner — and in a public steam-boat, too!"
"They were your friends, Charlotte" — said her husband, "your
dearest, best, your only friends; your aiders and abettors in the
practice of your two besetting sins."
"The vile, false, wicked creatures" — exclaimed Mrs. Woodbridge
— I will never speak to them again."
"I am delighted to hear it" — said Woodbridge— "and earnestly
do I hope you will keep that resolution."
"Listen to me, Charlotte" — said Mr. Stapleford, trying to speak
with more composure — "Listen to me, also, Harvey Woodbridge, and
may both of you profit by the lesson. I married Mary Holman when we
were both very young. I was then a clerk in a merchant's
counting-house, she was the daughter of a poor clergyman. Her beauty
first attracted me, and I thought she had been well brought up.
Necessity had obliged the family to be notable and industrious, and to
economize in superfluities. Her mother often told me of Mary's talent
of housewifery, and of her ingenuity with her needle, and how clever
she was in the art of making a genteel appearance at a small expense.
I thought I had drawn a prize in the lottery of marriage, and I loved
her with my whole heart. We took possession of a small
plainly-furnished two story house in a remote street, and I thought
we might live respectably and comfortably with my salary. I soon
discovered my wife's innate passion for dress, which in her father's
house, she had been unable to indulge. But now that she was a married
woman, and emancipated from the control of her parents, she seemed
resolved to run her course as she chose. In a very short time, I found
a great falling off in every thing connected with household comforts,
and a corresponding increase in the finery of my wife's attire. I saw
her in silks, and laces, and feathers, and flowers; all being such as
were worn by ladies whose husbands had five times my income. But our
servant woman (we could keep but one) was dismissed for a half grown
girl, at half wages. These girls (we had a succession of them) were
changed at least every month, as most of them were found to be
worthless, idle, dirty, or dishonest; and all were incapable of doing
work. If by chance we obtained a good one, she would not stay above a
week in a house where she had to work hard and fare badly, for low
wages. Often, when at our late dining hour I came home tired and
hungry, I found no dinner — and when, after waiting an hour or two,
the repast was at last produced, it was scanty, poor, and unpalatable.
My wife had been out nearly all day, visiting, shopping, and going
after mantua-makers. When our dinners was unusually late, she said it
would save the trouble and expense of tea, so she went early to bed,
and obliged her girl to do the same by way of saving fire and light in
the kitchen; and I passed the evening alone in our cheerless parlor,
laboriously engaged in extra book-keeping, or some other such job,
which I was glad to undertake for the purpose of obtaining a little
addition to our income, and which frequently occupied me till
midnight. I had hoped by this means to gain some improvement in our
way of living. But I found it only encouraged my wife to run up bills
for finery, which she knew I would be obliged eventually to pay for.
Vain, selfish woman, at what sacrifices was her trumpery obtained? For
the price of one or two of her expensive dresses we could have kept a
grown servant a whole year. One French bonnet less, and we could have
had good fires all winter, and the cost of one of her
embroidered muslin collars would have furnished me every evening with
a better light to toil by.
"After a while I obtained another situation at a higher salary. I
then proposed allowing a certain sum weekly for the household expenses
alone— and I made this allowance as ample as I could. It was in
vain — she pinched off so much of this money for additional finery,
that we lived as badly as ever. At length, the death of my uncle James
put me in possession of sufficient property to enable me to
emancipate myself from the drudgery of clerkship, and to commence
business on my own account. I did so, and was soon considered a
"From the time that I went into business there were no bounds to my
wife's extravagance — that is, in articles of show. But in all that
regarded comfort and convenience, her penurious habits remained
unchanged — and so they always will. In a few years we had a
handsome house, and she furnished the parlors elegantly — but she
made us take all our meals in a little, low, cheerless room in the
basement story; and in fact, it became our chief abiding place. How I
despised it, and how long I held out against it!"
"I wonder you submitted at all" — said Woodbridge.
"I submitted to that, and to all the other proceedings of my wife,
because I found resistance was in vain — as it always must be with a
heartless, selfish, obstinate woman. Often, after the fatigues of the
day, I was too tired to undertake the trouble of altercation. Nothing
then seemed so desirable as peace and quiet, and, for the sake of
present peace, I let the evil grow till it darkened my whole life with
its baleful shadow. Naturally my disposition is cheerful, and as I
could not be quarrelling for ever, I sometimes tried to laugh at the
inconvenience and mortifications to which my wife continually
subjected me. But it would not do — the iron, notwithstanding, had
entered my soul and was fast corroding it. My affection for my wife
was at last worn out. How could I love her, when I had daily proof
that she had no regard for me? It was still worse when I was left
alone with her — after Charlotte was married and gone, and my son
Frank went to live in New Orleans. To James and myself our home was
more than ever uncomfortable, for she allowed us no society; indeed,
things were so managed that we became ashamed to invite any one to
the house. Jem could endure it no longer — so he took lodgings at a
hotel, where he is drinking wine every day, and going to destruction.
For myself, I became reckless — desperate. I had long ceased to
remonstrate with my wife on the sums she expended in dress — but I
had grown very tired of the petty squabbling about fires, and lights,
and food, and servants, and all other necessary expenses, which for
five-and-twenty years had embittered my married life. I hated my home
— and I was driven to seek elsewhere for peace and comfort; such, at
least, as I could get in houses of public resort. I took my meals at
restaurants and hotels — I frequented oyster-cellars — I joined a
club. Gradually the vice of intemperance came upon me — wine was
not enough, I took brandy also. I drank to raise my spirits, and to
drown the sense of degradation that always oppressed me when I was
sober. My wife did not care — she dressed more than ever, and went
almost every night to a party — making me come for her when I was
not fit to be seen — and thus exposing me to her `dear five hundred
friends,' when it was she, herself, that made me what I am. I shall
grow worse — I shall be seen reeling through the streets, with the
boys hooting after me — I shall be taken up out of the gutter, and
laid dead drunk on my own door step. I know I shall — I see it all
before me — yet, when it comes to that, and my children hear of it,
let them remember it is the fault of their mother. Look what she has
made of me — and what my wife's daughter is going to make of her
husband— She knows how wretchedly we lived — she knows how
all domestic happiness was worried away from her father's house —
and still she has been walking fast in her mother's footsteps. —
Charlotte — Charlotte — do you not tremble?"
Charlotte did tremble — and pale and terrified she threw herself
into the arms of her husband, hid her face on his shoulder, and burst
into a flood of tears. Woodbridge also was deeply affected. But he
saw at that moment a dawn of hope — and he hailed this first
indication of feeling on the part of his wayward wife as an omen of
reform and happiness.
"I am glad to see you cry" — said the old man after a pause. —
"I have never seen my wife shed a tear, except when a splendid
dress has been spoiled by the mantua-maker. I begin to hope that the
daughter may be better than the mother."
"Dear sir," said Woodbridge, "do not persist in speaking so harsly
of your wife."
"I will — I will" — exclaimed the old man — swallowing the
remainder of the brandy and water. "Has she not embittered my life,
and turned to gall the love I once felt for her. What has Mary
Stapleford ever done to make me happy? Has she ever cared for me
— why then should I care for her? Has she ever regarded my tastes,
my wishes? Why then should I have any respect for hers? And now I am
a drunkard — disreputable, despised — looked at askance by
respectable men, (I was once a respectable man myself,) obliged to
associate now with those that have degraded themselves as I have done.
And my wife has caused it all. She has made me wretched, and she has
brought up her daughter to make you so too."
Mrs. Woodbridge now threw herself on the sofa, buried her face in
one of the cushions, and sobbed aloud: and, on her husband
approaching, she motioned him to leave her to herself. Woodbridge,
after removing the brandy, prevailed on his father-in-law, (who had
sunk back in his chair, and thrown his handkerchief over his face) to
go to the spare chamber, and lie down and repose himself: and
Charlotte in a faint voice said, she would also retire to her
room. As she passed her husband she caught his hand and pressed it
fervently: but her eyes again overflowed, and she was unable to speak.
"Dear sir" — said Woodbridge — "do not persist in speaking so
harshly of your wife."
Woodbridge having ascertained that the sparechamber was in order,
conducted Mr. Stapleford to its door, now thought it best to leave his
wife awhile to the retirement of her own apartment. He then repaired
to his store, where he recollected his presence at this time was
particularly essential; and he endeavored, but in vain, to occupy his
mind with business during the short remainder of the day.
When he came home in the evening, he found that Mr. Stapleford,
having requested that some tea might be brought to him, had gone to
bed for the night, and was now asleep. Charlotte remained also in her
room, and at her desire the tea-table had been set for her husband
alone. After he had somewhat refreshed himself with a cup of tea, he
went up to see her. He found her lying on the bed, and looking very
pale and dejected. "Harvey" — said she — "don't talk to me
to-night — I shall feel better in the morning— I know all you
would say. I have indeed made you a very bad wife — I acknowledge
and regret it: my eyes are opened at last, and I will try to do
better in future. But I am so shocked at my father, to see him as he
is now, and to hear all he thinks and feels, and all that he fears.
Oh! — no — no — you shall never be brought to his condition by
me. Indeed, indeed you never shall. It is too dreadful. But leave
me now, dear Harvey, and when I deserve it, I will beg you to forgive
In compassion to the distress of her feelings, Woodbridge quitted
the room in silence. He passed the evening alone, in perturbed
meditation; hope for the future and regret for the past, alternately
casting their lights and shadows on his mind. But, the sunbeam of
hope rested there at last.
Our heroine passed a restless night of bitter retrospection, and
silent tears. Towards morning, she had wept herself into an uneasy
slumber. Woodbridge rose with the dawn, resolved to try and compose
himself by an early walk, his usual remedy after an extraordinary
excitement. On descending the stairs, he overtook his father-in-law
who had risen for the same purpose. They walked together as far as
the Schuylkill, and had much conversation on the subject that was
upper-most in both their minds.
When the two gentlemen returned, they were met in the entry by
Cæsar, who, while his face shone with smiles, stopped them as they
were proceeding to the staircase, and with a flourish of his hand as
he threw open the door, said to Mr. Woodbridge, "We breakfast in the
back parlor sir."
They found the table nicely set out with a better breakfast than
either of the gentlemen had ever seen in their own house: and Cæsar
said, with increasing smiles, "Mrs. Woodbridge was up early, sir. She
came down soon after you went out. And we have been to market already.
And after we came home, I got the breakfast myself, and would not let
Irish Mary put her paws to any thing. Mrs. Woodbridge has given Mary a
short warning, and I am to get Phillis to come back, for our
everlasting cook. Please to excuse my saying paws: but that
Paddy woman is enough to make the genteelest colored gentleman forget
himself. People of the best polishment can't be decoromous when they
have to deal with Irish."
At these excellent signs of the times, our hero's smile became
almost as bright as Cæsar's. And Mr. Stapleford said, in a low voice
to Woodbridge, "I was just going to ask for my early dram, but I
believe I will not take any this morning."
"I have made the coffee very good and strong" said Cæsar, "Mrs.
Woodbridge told me to do so. And we bought the best butter that was to
be had in market; and we took cream this morning instead of milk."
At this moment the lady of the house appeared. Her father and her
husband kissed her as they bade her good morning. Her heart and eyes
filled and she held her handkerchief to her face, while each the
gentlemen turned to a window and seemed to look out. There were a few
minutes of silence: after which our heroine took a seat at the table,
and Woodbridge and Mr. Stapleford did the same. Cæsar entered with a
damask napkin and a silver salver, and waited on the table con
amore. Woodbridge introduced a cheerful conversation, and though
he had to sustain it himself, he was repaid by an occasional smile
from Charlotte, and a laugh from her father.
When breakfast was over, and Mrs. Woodbridge had left the room, Mr.
Stapleford said to his son-in-law, "She is touched at last. She is
going to set about a reform — I only hope she will stay reformed.
Ah! there is no touching her mother. I have tried often to work on her feelings: but she has none. Vanity, sordidness, and
selfishness have hardened her heart till it is like `the nether
millstone.' But Charlotte is not so bad; and I trust she will do well
yet. I must have a bottle more than usual to-day at dinner, in
celebration of this joyful change."
"Rather celebrate it," said Woodbridge, "by a day of entire
"Ah!" replied Stapleford, "that is easier said than done. I am
ashamed to confess that a day of temperance will be a day of suffering
to me. The habit of drinking once formed, the craving once acquired,
it is hard indeed to abstain. A drunkard is not easily cured."
"Let me beg of you, dear sir," said Woodbridge, "not to give
yourself that detestable appellation."
"Do I not deserve it?" replied Stapleford. "Am I not really what I
call myself? But she made me so. I know that many men who are
blest with excellent and affectionate wives have become sots
notwithstanding — to their eternal shame be it spoken. But that was
not my disposition. No man was more capable of enjoying
domestic happiness if it had been allowed me. However, I cannot trust
myself on this theme. So let it drop for the present."
Mr. Stapleford and his son-in-law went out together, but parted at
the corner: each going his own way to his respective business. That
morning Mrs. Woodbridge did no shopping or visiting, but busied
herself at home in improving her menage. Irish Mary, being
dismissed, was loud in her vociferations at parting, asserting that
she had never seen a raal lady or gentleman since she came to
Philadelphia, and that she would never more darken the doors of a
Philadelphia house: for she knew scores of places in New York where
they would jump out of their skins for joy to get her back again, and
where the silver would come pouring into her lap. A week's wages
extra, however, somewhat quieted her wrath: but on leaving the
presence of Mrs. Woodbridge, she slammed the door, and exclaimed as
soon as she got into the entry, "Bad luck to ye any how, and I wish
to the holy Patrick ye may never have nobody but black nagurs to cook
your bit of victuals for you."
"That's a good wish instead of a bad one," said Cæsar, who had just
come in at the front-door, triumphantly conducting Phillis.
That day an excellent dinner was served up in the back-parlor: and
as all were now in good spirits it would have gone off pleasantly,
only that Mr. Stapleford filled his wine-glass too often. But he
said, as he poured out the last, "I cannot help it — indeed I
cannot. It is a dreadful vice— easily contracted and hard to cure.
Shame on the woman that brought me to it. Well, well, enough of that,
I wish I could forget her always. Come, I'll not drink any thing more
to-day. Only I must have my glass of hot whiskey punch at
As soon as the two gentlemen were alone, Woodbridge told his
father-in-law that having now the most sanguine hopes of Charlotte's
improvement, he thought it best to make no further reference to what
had already passed; and that, unless he saw unequivocal symptoms of a
relapse, he would gladly consign to oblivion every thing that had
hitherto embittered their married life.
"I fear," said Mr. Stapleford, "her goodness will not last.
However, even a little of it is better than none at all. Her mother
never had a single fit of goodness — not, even for one day. Well,
well, I will not trust myself to talk of her."
Next day the old gentleman set out at an early hour for Baltimore;
and Woodbridge, (judging from appearances) found that in future the
table was to be set always in the back parlor, and supplied in a
That morning Mesdames Squanderfield and Pinchington made together a
visit to Mrs. Woodbridge. Her intention had been to send them each a
concise indicative of her desire that their acquaintance should cease;
and she had purposed consulting her husband that very afternoon on the
best manner of wording these notes. But they had seen her as they
came past the window, and the moment Cæsar opened the front door they
pushed by him, and with their usual familiarity made their entrance
into the room. At the first sight of her two perfidous friends, our
heroine determined to meet them with calm and dignified resentment;
but this wise determination soon gave way to the passion which she
felt burning in her cheeks and sparkling in her eyes.
Mrs. Squanderfield began —"Dear Mrs. Woodbridge, it seems an age
since I have seen you. But I was busy the whole day yesterday,
shopping all through Chesnut street, with two ladies from the far
west (who with their husbands are staying at our house) and taking
them to milliners and mantua-makers. They have travelled more than a
thousand miles, each bringing a young baby along; and their sole
business is to get fitted out with the Philadelphia fashions. They
take this journey twice every year, and carry wagon loads home with
"For my part," said Mrs. Pinchington, "I was all day yesterday
going about in search of a cheap washerwoman. Mine has raised her
price to six dollars a quarter, and rather than give more than five I
will wash and iron my own things in my own room. But as Mrs.
Squanderfield says, it seems an age since I have seen you. I really
believe we have not met since the day of your delightful
"Delightful was it," said Charlotte, unable longer to restrain
herself, "you did not think so in the boat coming down the river, when
you were telling Mrs. Squanderfield about it: and I am very sure you
made it out worse even than it really was."
Mrs. Pinchington changed color, and looked much embarrassed; but
rallied in a few moments and said, "My dear Mrs. Woodbridge you must
be misinformed. Some vile mischief-maker, some wicked slanderer has
been trying to disturb our friendship."
"My informant," replied Charlotte, "is neither a mischief-maker nor
a slanderer. It was my own father, Mr. Stapleford. He happened to be
seated near you: and he heard every word. First, you led me on by
your own advice to do all sorts of mean paltry things"—
"I found you willing enough to be led," interrupted Mrs.
"And now," continued Charlotte, "you have abused me for following
your instructions. I should not have been half so bad, had you left
me to myself. But my eyes are now opened, and as I intend to act very
differently for the future, I shall have the better chance of keeping
that resolution by declining all further intercourse with Mrs.
"With all my heart," said Mrs. Pinchington, rising angrily, "I have
no occasion to force my acquaintance on any one. And from what I have
heard of her, I am very sure your notions of economy came from your
own mother far more than from me. I wish you all possible success in
your new scheme of reform; which you will find a tough job, take my
word for it."
So saying, Mrs. Pinchington flounced out of the room, and scuttled
out of the house.
"What a strange woman that is" — remarked Mrs. Squanderfield. "I
have thought several times of telling you how little she is, in
reality, your friend, and how shamefully she talks about you wherever
she goes. It is a great pity you asked her to that unlucky
dinner-party; the account she gives of it is awful. I own I was a
little hurt at your not inviting me. I should then have had it
in my power to contradict her ill-natured reports."
"Perhaps not" — said our heroine — "for with shame I
acknowledge that there was too much foundation for her statements,
however unfavorable they might be. But the next time I prepare for
company, things will be found very different. I have had a mortifying
"I must say" — pursued Mrs. Squanderfield — "that I greatly
approve of liberality. People in genteel life should not mind expense.
By the bye, have you heard of the splendid new style shawls that Lev
y has just opened. I saw them yesterday, and they are the most divine
things I ever beheld. Get ready, and come with me, and secure one
before all the best are gone."
"To be plain with you Mrs. Squanderfield"— said Charlotte — "my
intention is, in future, to expend less money on dress, and more on
things of greater importance. And I know that both my husband and
myself will be happier for the change."
"Really" — observed Mrs. Squanderfield — "I thought all men
were happy to see their wives handsomely drest."
"I begin to think" — said Charlotte — "that a woman may be
drest handsomely without spending enormous sums, and getting five
times as many new things as she can possibly want. My husband has not
yet made his fortune: and in the mean time, that our housekeeping may
be on a more liberal scale, I shall lessen my own personal expenses.
But as I am going to reform both ways, I think it best to relinquish
my intimacy with Mrs. Squanderfield as well as with Mrs. Pinchington,
for I wish not to be led farther into temptation."
"I declare you are very polite" — exclaimed Mrs. Squanderfield,
starting up — "I cannot think what has got into you to-day. You
don't seem at all like yourself."
"So much the better, perhaps" — replied Charlotte; "but as my
father could not have overheard Mrs. Pinchington, without also
overhearing Mrs. Squanderfield, his report has convinced me that neither of these ladies has any right to call herself my friend."
"Upon my word" — said Mrs. Squanderfield, forcing a laugh, "it is
really amusing to see how new you are. I thought you were old enough
to know that in all circles, even in the highest, every body talks of
every body without the least scruple. It is the way of the world: and
I do not pretend to be better than my neighbors. However, as Mrs.
Pinchington says, I have no occasion to force my society on any one. I
have more friends already than I can possibly visit, even if I were
to do nothing else from noon till midnight. I see we don't suit: but
you will lose more than I shall. However, let us part decently, and
be civil whenever we chance to meet. So I wish you good morning, and
success to your plan of reforming both ways."
"Good morning" — said Charlotte, softening her voice; for in
truth, she felt rather better disposed toward Mrs. Squanderfield than
to Mrs. Pinchington, whose report of the dinner-party seemed
unforgivable. She accompanied her visiter to the door, and ere they
parted, our heroine found herself asking, "who did you say had just
opened these elegant shawls, Levy or Vanharlingen?"
"Aha" — replied Mrs. Squanderfield, with a sneer; "still
hankering after new shawls, I saw them at Levy's: and I fear the
naughty child is not going to get quite good all at once."
"I wish it were more easy to do so" — said Charlotte, colorirg
highly, and hastily returning to the parlor, where she sat down awhile
and pondered. She then went up to her chamber, and looked out some
sewing. But her thread knotted and her needle broke, and she found she
was not in the humor to sew. So she dressed herself, and went out,
and habit directed her steps to Chestnut street. "At least," thought
she, "I may as well stop in at Levy's and see the shawls. Tis
certainly pleasant to look at things that are new and elegant. But I
am determined that nothing shall tempt me to buy one."
She went into Levy's, saw the shawls, and
was tempted to buy
one. But she thought she would not mention it to her husband for some
days at least; and, as a salvo, she resolved on paying extra
attention to his comforts and wishes.
"My dear Harvey," said she, after helping him at dinner to a second
piece of pie, "would you not like to have a carpenter or a
cabinet-maker or some such person, to fit up the dining-room with
book-shelves or book-cases. You can have it for a library if you wish,
as in future we shall use the parlors entirely."
The delighted husband started from his seat, and replied by a kiss:
and the same afternoon he bespoke both shelves and cases; and went to
a bookseller's to begin his selection of books.
Next morning, shortly after breakfast, Harvey Wooodbridge came home
from his store with a look of consternation which much alarmed his
wife; and as gently as he could, he broke to her the appalling
intelligence of her mother's sudden death. A letter had just arrived
from New York, written by her brother James, who stated that on the
preceding day while a mantua-maker was fitting her for a new dress,
Mrs. Stapleford had fallen down and instantly expired. Great was the
horror of our heroine at this unexpected termination of her mother's
mortal existence. And she and her husband set out by the first
conveyance for New York, leaving a letter for Mr. Stapleford, who
arrived that afternoon from Baltimore, and followed them in the mail.
The old gentleman was excessively shocked at his wife being so
suddenly hurried to her last account, unprepared as she was for the
awful change into eternity. He grieved exceedingly, and never made
any farther allusion to her faults. The day after the funeral he took
the temperance pledge.
The fate of her vain, selfish, and heartless mother made a deep
impression on our heroine, and soon completed the work of reformation
which her father's representations had begun. The old gentleman was
prevailed on to return with his daughter and his son-in-law, and to
pass a few weeks with them in Philadelphia. Though her father was
completely sobered, Charlotte soon perceived that, after the first
shock had subsided, the husband of such a woman as Mrs. Stapleford,
could not be inconsolable for her loss: and that (though he said
nothing) he soon began to feel it a relief. "Ah!" — thought she —
"I must make Harvey happy while I live — or he too will regard my
death as a deliverance from misery."
On Mr. Stapleford's return to New York, it was arranged that his
sister, an excellent woman who had been left a widow with a small
income, should take charge of his house: and that his son James
should again reside beneath the roof of his father. This change had a
most salutary effect on the habits of the young man, and he found it
easy to abandon the incipient vice which as yet had not fixed itself
Mr. Stapleford found an affectionate and intelligent companion in
his amiable and considerate sister, (though she had always been his
wife's aversion) and now that he had a well-ordered and happy home,
he had no inclination to seek for pleasure elsewhere. The entire
abandonment of liquor soon restored his good looks and his
selfrespect: and his visits to Philadelphia were always anticipated
with delight by his son-in-law and daughter.
We will not say that our heroine had not for a while occasional
lapses from her good resolutions: but these aberations gradually
became slighter and less frequent. Love for her husband once
awakened, she no longer took pleasure in wilfully annoying him,
either by word or deed: and when she showed any indication of her
former waywardness, a gentle remonstrance from Harvey always brought
her to reason. Also, having so unceremoniously dismissed her two evil
counsellors, she felt the advantage of being released from their
She now formed an intimacy with some of the most valuable of her
husband's female friends. These ladies set her in every respect an
excellent example, particularly in improving her mind, and
cultivating a taste for books. Her heart and hand also expanded to
the relief of the unfortunate and the indigent. Her reform at length
became complete, both with regard to extravagance in dress and
parsimony in house-keeping; and there is not, at this day, in
Philadelphia, a more happy or a more popular couple than Mr. and Mrs.
TO A WITHERED ROSE.
Nature's warm spirit's! from thee fled, As now thon hangst upon thy
stem All sapless, withered, wan and dead, Yet fragrant still, sweet
gem! So is it with the pure in life; When, from this earth, they pass
away; Their deeds, with virtue's sweets are rife, They live beyond decay. R. H.
A SISTER'S LOVE.
Bind on your heart this jewel rare, Oh, ye to whom this prize is
given! Nor let rude hands your treasure tear, But hold it as the gift
of heaven! Till death its shining worth improve, And angel's crown a
MY SISTER'S CHILD.
BY MRS. ANNAN, LATE MISS A. M. F. BUCHANAN.
It had my sister's gentle eyes, Her soft and shining hair; Her
cheek, in form and changeful dyes, And placid brow are there. My
darling! when with merry laugh I echo back thine own, 'Tis oft that I
forget me, half, What cares my way have strown; The partner of my
being's spring, Herself, while seemest thou, I scarce can feel the
world-worn thing That acts thy mother now. Yet while by yonder
turf-bank low Thou hid'st in feigning sleep, Thine eyes, a glance may
hardly know From violets, when they peep; While o'er the runlet thou
dost lean And from its eddies dip The foam, in cups of oak leaves
green, To wet thy smiling lip; Though bounds my heart to meet thy
play, 'Tis sometimes chilled with fear;— Thus rang her voice
but yesterday — How long shall thine be here? "My
sister's child!" — how well that sound Recalls the happy hour,
When, looking innocent and fond As thou upon yon flower, A mother's
title sweet she heard And on the accents hung, While first thou
marred the tender word With thy unpractis'd tongue: How proud I
spoke! your beauty rare To me was triumph high;— Ye formed a
picture strangely fair, Its owner rich was I! "My sister's child! my
sister's child!' With aching heart I said, To watch her stroke thy
ringlets wild, Upon her dying bed. She gave thee to my love, her
trust Most precious and the last, To guard, when unto silent dust
Her worshipped form had passed; I clasped thee from her thin white
hand, She faded as she smiled;— God helps me in her stead to stand
And bless her angel child!
TO ONE BELOVED.
BY PARK BENJAMIN.
Dost thou not turn, Fairest and sweetest, from the flowery way, On
which thy feet are treading every day, And seek to learn Tidings,
sometimes, of him who loved thee well— More than the pen can write
or tongue can tell? Gaze not thine eyes (Oh, wild and lustrous eyes,
ye were my fate!) Upon the lines he fashioned, not of late, But when
the skies Of joy were over him, and he was blessed That he could sing
of treasures he possessed? Treasures more dear Than gold in ingots or
barbaric piles Of pearls and diamonds—thy most precious smiles!
Bring, bring me here, Oh ruthless Time, some of those treasures now,
And print a hundred wrinkles on my brow. Make me grow old Before my
years are many—take away Health, youth, ambition—let my strength
decay, My mind be sold To be the slave of some strange, barren
lore— Only those treasures to my heart restore! Ah, I implore A
boon that cannot be, a blessing flown Unto a realm so distant from my
own That, could I soar On eagle's wings, it still would be afar As
if I strove by flight to reach a star! The future vast Before me
lifts majestic steps on high, Which I must stand upon before I die;
For, in the past Love buried lies; and nothing lives but Fame To
speak unto the coming age, my race and name.
BY MRS. H. E. B. STOWE.
"Come, Mark Meriden! don't settle down into an old grandfather
before your time — a pretty wife's a pretty thing, Mark, and a
pretty house is a pretty thing — but hang it! — one must have a
little of life."
Mark Meriden stood at his desk, giving a last look at his books,
while Ben Sanford — the roguish— the merry — the song singing
— the Ben of all Bens, was thus urging on him the claims of a
projected frolic that evening. Now Ben was precisely the messenger
for such an embassy — there was fun in the twinkle of his blue eye,
and a world of waggery in the turn of his head, and in a pair of
broad roguish dimples that went merrily dodging in and out of his
cheeks every time he spoke, and he had laid hold of Mark's arm to drag
him away. But Mark shook off his hand, and finished summing up a
column of figures — put the blotting paper into the book, and the
book into the place, wiped his pen — all with an air of great
thoughtfulness, and, at last, turning to Ben, said — "I think I
won't go this time."
"Now why not?" said Ben, eagerly.
"Because — because," said Mark, smiling; "because I have an odd
fancy that I should like Mrs. Meriden's company better this evening."
"Hang Mrs. Meriden — beg pardon, Mark, hang myself for saying so,
but one don't like to see a fine fellow buried alive! come, take a
real wake up with us."
"Thank you, Ben, but I hav'n't been asleep and don't need it. So
I'll go home and see my wife" — and thereat Mark turned a resolute
footstep homeward as a well-trained husband ought.
"Now," says one of our readers, "who was Mark Meriden?" You would
not have asked, good reader, if you had lived in the town of —,
when his name first appeared on the outside of one of its most
fashionable shops `Mark Meriden,' surrounded by these waving insignia
of grace and fashion that young belles need to have their eyes turned
off from beholding. Every thing in the tasteful establishment told of
well arranged business, and Mark himself, the mirror of fashion,
faultless in every article of costume, quick, attentive, polite, was
every day to be seen there winning "golden opinions from all sorts of
people." Mark's store became the resort of high ton — the
fashionable exchange, the promenade of beauty and wealth, who came
there to be enlightened as to the ways and means of disposing of their
surplus revenue — to see and to be seen. So attentive, polite, and
considerate was Mark, so profound his bows, so bright his eyes, so
unexceptionable his whiskers, that it might have proved a dangerous
resort for the ladies, had not a neat, tasteful house, going up in
the neighborhood, been currently reported as the future residence of
an already elected Mrs. Meriden; and in a few months, the house
neatly finished, and tastefully furnished, received a very pretty lady
who called herself to that effect. She was as truly refined and lovely
a woman as ever formed the centre flower in a domestic bouquet, and
Mark might justly be pardoned for having as good again an opinion of
himself for having been fortunate enough to secure her.
Mark had an extensive circle of business and pleasure
acquaintances, for he had been one of the social, companionable sort,
whose money generally found its way out of his pocket in very fair
proportion to the rate it came in. In short, he was given to clubs,
oyster suppers, and now and then a wine party, and various other
social privileges for elevating one's spirits and depressing one's
cash, that abound among enlightened communities.
But nevertheless, at the bottom of Mark's head, there was a very
substantial stratum of a certain quality called common sense, a trait,
which though it was never set down in any chart of phrenology, may
very justly be called a faculty, and one too which makes a very
striking difference among people as the world goes. In consequence of
being thus constituted, Mark, when he found himself in love with, and
engaged to a very pretty girl, began to reflect with more than
ordinary seriousness on his habits, ways, and manners of life. He
also took an accurate survey of his business, formed an average
estimate of his future income on the soberest probabilities, and
determined to live a little even within that. He also provided
himself with a small account book, with which he intended to live in
habits of very close acquaintance, and in this book he designed to
note down all the savings consequent upon the retrenching of certain
little extras, before alluded to, in which he had been in the habit of
pretty freely indulging himself.
Upon the present occasion, it had cost him something of an effort
to say "no," for Mark was one of your easy "clever fellows" to whom
the enunciation of this little syllable causes as much trouble as all
the gutturals of the German. However, when he came in sight of his
parlor windows through which a bright fire was shining — when he
entered and found a clean glowing hearth, the easy chair drawn up in
front, and a pair of embroidered slippers waiting for him quite at
their leisure, and above all, when he read the quick glance of
welcome in a pair of very bright eyes, Mark forgot all about Ben
Sanford, and all bachelor friends and allurements whatsoever, and
thought himself the happiest fellow on earth.
The evening passed off rapidly by the help of music, and the little
small talk of which newly married people generally find a supply, and
the next morning saw Mark at early business hours with as steady a
hand and as cool a head as if there had been no such things as
bachelor frolicks in existence.
Late in the forenoon, Ben Sanford lounged in to ogle a few of the
ladies, and above all, to rally Mark on losing the glorious fun of the
"Upon my word, Mark," he began, "we must have you put up for
Selectman, you are becoming so extremely ancient and venerable in your
ways— however, you are to be excused," he added, "circumstances
considered; female influence! — ah! well! its a fine affair this
try it, Mr. Sanford," said a bright saucy girl, who,
with her laughing companions, was standing by while Ben was speaking.
"Ah, madam! the wherewithal!" said Ben, rolling up his eyes with a
tragic expression. "If some clever old fellow would be so obliging as
to die now and leave me a few thousands, then, ladies! you should
"But speaking of
money," said Mark, when he saw the ladies
busy over some laces he had just thrown on to the counter, "what did
your `glorious fun' cost you?"
"Pooh! nothing! only a ten dollar bill — nothing in
purse, you know!"
"Nothing in your purse! not an uncommon incident after these
occasions," said Mark, laughing.
"Oh, hang it all!" said Ben, "too true! I can get no remedy for
this consumption of the purse, as old Falstaff says; however, the
world owes me a living and so good morning!"
Ben Sanford was just one of that class of young men of whom common
report goes, that they can do any thing they please, and who consider
this point so well established, that they do not think it necessary
to illustrate it by doing any thing at all. He was a lawyer of
talents, and would have had an extensive run of business, had he not
been one of the class of people never to be found when wanted. His
law books and law office saw far less of him than certain fashionable
places of resort, where his handsome person and various social
accomplishments, always secured to him a welcome reception. Ben had
some little property left him by his father, just enough as he used
laughingly to quote, "to keep him in gloves and cologne water," and
for the rest, he seemed vastly contented with his old maxim, "the
world owes me a living," forgetting that the world can sometimes
prove as poor a paymaster as the most fashionable young gentleman
But to return to Mark. When he had settled his accounts at night,
he took from a pigeon-hole in his desk, the little book aforenamed,
and entered as follows: "To one real wake up, $10," which being done,
he locked his desk, and returned once more to Mrs. Meriden.
Days flew on, and the shop of Mark became increasingly popular, and
still from time to time he was assailed by the temptation we have
described. Now it was, "Mark, my dear fellow, do join us in a trip to
G — 's;" and now, "Come, my old boy, let us have a spree at F —
's;" now it was the club, now the oyster supper — but still Mark
was invincible and still as one or another gaily recounted the history
of the scene, he silently committed the account of the expense to his
little book. Yet was not mark cynical or unsocial. His refusals,
though so firm, were invariably good natured, and though he could not
be drawn abroad, yet he was unquestionably open handed and free in
his own home. No house had so warm a welcome— no dinner table could
be more bountiful or more freely open for the behoof of all gentlemen
of the dining-out order — no tea-table presented more
unexceptionable toast, and no evening lounge was more easy, home-like,
and cheerful, than on the warm sofas in the snug parlors of Mark
Meriden. They also gave evening parties, where all was brilliant,
tasteful, and well ordered; and, in fine, notwithstanding his short
comings, Mark was set down as a fine open-handed fellow after all.
At the end of the year, Mark cast up the account in his little
book, and was mightily astonished at it, for with all his ideas of the
power of numbers, he had no idea that the twos, and fives, and tens,
and ones, which on greater or smaller occasions, had found their way
into its columns, would mount up to a sum so considerable. Mark looked
about him — the world was going well — his business machinery
moving in exact touch and time — his house — where was there a
prettier one? — where a place more replete with every home-drawing
comfort? Had he lost any thing in pleasure the year past? Mark
thought not, and therefore as he walked homeward, he stepped into a
bookseller's and ordered some books of superb engravings for Mrs.
Meriden, and spoke to a gardener to send some elegant flowering
exotics for which he had heard her express an admiration some
That same evening came in Ben Sanford, as he expressed it, "in
the very depths of indigo," for young gentlemen whose worldly
matters invariably go on wrong end foremost, will sometimes be found
in this condition, however exuberant may be their stock of animal
"Pray Ben, what is the matter?" said Mark kindly, as the latter
streched himself at length, in an arm-chair, groaning audibly.
bilious attack, Mark! shoemakers' bills! tailors'
bills! boarding house bills! all sent in for new years' presents! hang
Mark was silent for a few moments, and Ben continued "Confound it,
Mark! what's the sense of living, if a fellow is to be so cursedly
poor! Here you, Mark, born in the same town with me, and younger than
I by some two years — you have a house, as snug, as cosy, and
comfortable as man need ask — a wife like an angel — peace and
plenty by the bushed, and all comes of having a good run of luck in
the money line" — and Ben kicked his slippers against the andiron
"What has become of Emily P —?" asked Mark, after a pause.
"Poor soul!" said Ben, "there she is yet, with all sweetness and
patience, waiting till such a luckless scapegrace as I can give her a
home and a husband, I wish to my soul, for her sake, I could afford
to be married, and have a home of my own; besides, to tell the truth,
I am tired of this rambling, scrambling, out-at-elbow, slip-shod life."
"Why don't you get married?" said Mark.
"Why don't I? to be sure — use my tailors' bills for fuel, and my
board bill for house rent, and my shoe bill for bread and butter —
hey? Would you recommend a poor girl to try me, Mark — all things
considered?" said Ben, bitterly.
Mark reflected awhile in silence, and then drew out his book —
his little book, to which we have before alluded.
"Just look at this account, Ben," said he; "I know you hate
figures, but just for once."
Ben glanced at it impatiently — laughed when he read over the two
or three first items, but his face lengthened as he proceeded, and
Mark detected a sort of whistle of astonishment as he read the sum
"Well, Mark!" he exclaimed, "what a very old gentlemanly
considerate trick is this of yours— to sit behind your curtain so
coolly noting down the `cost and come to' of all our little frolicks
— really it is most edifying! How much you must have enjoyed your
superior discretion and forethought," and Ben laughed, but not with
his usual glee.
Nay, you mistake," said Mark. "I kept this account merely to see
what I had been in the habit of spending myself, and as you and
I have been always hand and glove in every thing, it answers equally
for you. It was only yesterday that I summed up the account, and I
assure you the result surprised myself; and now Ben, the sum here set
down, and as much more as you please, is freely at your disposal, to
clear off old scores for the year, provided you will accept with it
this little book as a new year's gift, and use it one twelve-month as
I have done; and if at the end of that time, you are not ready to
introduce me to Mrs. Sanford, I am much mistaken."
Ben grasped his friend's hand — but just then the entrance of
Mrs. Meriden prevented his reply— Mark however, saw with
satisfaction that he put the book carefully in his vest pocket, and
buttoned up his coat with the air of a man who is buttoning up a new
When they parted for the night, Mark said with a smile, "In case of
bilious attacks, you know where to send for Medicine." Ben
answered only by a fervent grasp of the hand, for his throat felt too
full for him to answer.
Mark Meriden's book answered the purpose admirably. In less than
two years Ben Sanford was the most popular lawyer in —, and as
steady a householder as you might wish to see, and, in conclusion, we
will just ask our readers their opinion on one point, and it is this:
If Mrs. Meriden had been a woman who understood what is called
"catching a beau," better than securing a husband — if she had never
curled her hair except for company, and thought it a
degradation to know how to keep a house comfortable, would all these
things have happened?
THE COSSACK'S CHARGE.
BY F. A. DURIVAGE.
The following verses refer to the fate of a small detachment of the
Imperial army, on their retreat from Moscow.
I. Night on the boundless waste! And the snow-flakes wildly driven,
A shroud on the face of earth, And a frown on the face of heaven! Is
it the tempest's howl That sweeps o'er moor and glen? Or is it the
deep drum that times The march of martial men? II. Against the storm
they move, With manly port and tread, And thy glorious engles,
France, Are waving overhead. With features proud and stern The
serried warriors come, While ever in their van is heard The deep
sepulchral drum. III. And some are there who fought On Egypt's
burning sand, And met the savage Austrian At Lodi, hand to hand, Who
saw their eagles fly Above Marengo's plain, And proudly marched to
victory O'er dying men and slain. IV. From Moscow's scorching flame,
From the Kremlin's fallen walls, The remnant of her bravest brave, A
tearful nation calls. Yet proudly come they back, As if from victory
won, For the spell words breathed by each platoon, Are France!
Napoleon! V. The conscsipt dreams of home — A cottage by the Seine
— The lips that smiled upon him once, He seems to press again.
Once more he joins the dance, With Julie hand in hand, As the sailor
in his fever-dreams, Appears to tread the land. VI. "Halt!" Is't a
cloud that flings Its shadow o'er the snow — A shifting cloud, that
moves as oft As storm-gusts wildly blow? But hark! a sound — a
shout Arises from afar; It is no tempest-voice — it is The
Cossack's wild hurrah! VII. Through wreaths of blinding snow They
marked, those men of France, The well-known Cossack steed, The
well-known Cossack lance. Halt! at the chief's command, The advancing
steps are staid, Promptly as in the Champ de Mars, Of old, upon
parade. VIII. "Fix bayonets!" At once Is heard the crash of steel
— They form the hollow square — At a word — the front ranks
kneel There, in the biting cold, Equal to either fate, The brave,
devoted regiment, The Cossack's charge await. IX. The Hetman waves
his blade — On dash the Cossack horse — No volley from the hollow
square Arrests their headlong course. No chieftain's rallying shout,
His troop to action calls — But heavily, without a groan, The
front rank slowly falls. X. The Hetman reins his steed With a wild
and troubled air — What need of Cossack's levelled lance? The hand
of death is there! The valiant were no more — From the soil that
foemen trod — From the tempest and the battle, Sped their stormy
souls to God.
TRANSLATIONS FROM THE GERMAN OF
RICHTER, (JEAN PAUL.)
BY MRS. F. M. BAKER.
Reflection of Mt. Vesuvius from the Sea.
"See how the flames rise from below, under the stern; red streams
roll heavily around the mountain of the deep and consume the beautiful
garden. But safe we glide over the cooling flames, and our
countenances smile from the burning wave." Thus said the delighted
navigator, and then glanced fearfully towards the thundering
mountain. "But," I said: behold, thus presents the poet in the
everlasting mirror, the heavy calamities of the world, and the
unfortunate glance carelessly on, but the sorrow even gladdens them."
Beyond the sun, in the farthest blue, rest other suns, their
strange beams flying for thousands of years upon the road to this
small earth, have come not yet near. O, thou softer, nearer God,
scarcely can'st injure the weak spirit of man, so mildly thou beamest
into his young eye. O, Sun of Suns and Spirits.
In the day spoke the full Sunflower: Apollo sends forth his rays
and I spread myself out; he travels round the earth and I follow after
him. In the night said the Violet: Lowly stand I and concealed —
and bloom in brief night: sometimes Venus' mild sister glistens upon
me, then I am discovered and gathered and die in the bosom.
As the beautiful but pale and tender Flowers of May fell off and
perished, thus said the leaves: "What infirmity and uselessness!
scarcely born, they sink in all their loveliness; but we, how we
stand firmly and outlast the summer heat, always large, brilliant and
strong, till we finally reach a good age, when we produce and give the
earth the richest fruits, and under a cannonade of storms remain with
fine variegated colors at rest." But the early fallen Flowers said:
"Willing were we to fall; yet before had we produced the fruit." You
silent unobserved men in your homes, or in the counting room; you with
little parade and display of learning; you noble benefactors unnamed
in history; and you unknown mothers, never disheartened, never
affected by the glitter in public greatness, in wealth, in that glory
which rises over victims slain in battle,—you are the flowers!
Where think you is the likeness of that female mind, which endures
much but continually looks up to God, which always appears joyous
before the world, while secretly she weeps and suffers, and which the
storms of life neither disturb nor obscure?— Near the Heavens: where
stands the rainbow; the clouds and winds that fly near him move him
not, but he shines forth before his sun and his drops become colors,
and he lies upon the Heavens like brilliant morning dew in a clear
Who is greatest? the philosopher, who raises himself above the
tumults of time and only contemplates without engaging in them, or the
one, that from the heights of repose can throw himself amid the
bustle and confusion of the world? It is noble, when the eagle soars
upward through the tempest, to the screne sky; but it is more noble
when floating in the blue vault above the storms, he precipitates
himself through them, upon the rocky eyrie, where lay his unfledged
and trembling brood.
ON THE DEATH OF A CHILD.
"Of such is the kingdom of Heaven."
Withdrawn in love from earthly pain, And every evil passion's power;
Borne from the world ere sin could stain Or sorrow blight the opening
flower: How sweet to think the cherub fair, That so on earth absorbed
our love, Transplanted by an angel's care, Blooms in the Paradise
above! And shall we meet him in the sky, So loved and so
lamented here? And shall we greet again on high The face and form on
earth so dear? Then let us calmly wait the day, The glorious day of
Heavenly bliss; Joy cannot speed nor sorrow stay The hour that brings
a boon like this! B.
THE PORTRAIT OF TWO SISTERS.
BY MRS. LYDIA H. SIGOURNEY.
Sweet sisters — blest the art that keeps The form of grace, the
brow of snow, From Time's dark wing, that coldly sweeps To blight
those beauties while they glow; But that which gives each charm its
power, The heart sincere — the thought refin'd — The love that
soothes affliction's hour — The calm and holy light of mind —
These ask no limner's magic skill, Nor shrink at adverse fortune's
moan; Through fading years they flourish still — Sweet sisters,
guard them as your own.
The above lines were suggested on seeing the portrait of two
beautiful sisters, the daughters of Robert Walsh, Esq. of
Philadelphia, at the studio of Mr. Healy, in Paris.
THE MOTHER'S OFFERING.
BY MISS A. D. WOODBRIDGE.
I Hannah, to Shiloh, brought her child, The beautiful, the pure;
The weary way he had beguil'd With many an artless lure, Yet now she
nerv'd herself to part — Ah! woman's strength is in her heart
. II Once and again she fondly press'd Her own, her cherish'd one;
With tearful eye, the babe she bless'd, And then she felt 'twas done!
He was the Lord's! an off'ring fair, The mother joy'd to leave him
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
"Didn't I see you walking up the street with a young lady
yesterday, William?" said Anna Enfield to her brother, who had but a
few days before returned from New York, after an absence of some
"Perhaps you did; I was in company with a young lady in the
afternoon," replied the brother.
"Well, who was she? I did not see you until after you had passed
the store I was in, and then I could not see her face."
"It was Caroline Murry; you know her, I suppose."
"Caroline Murry! Why, brother! what were you doing in her company?"
and Anna's face expressed unfeigned astonishment.
"Why, really, you surprise me, sister! I hope there is no blemish
on her character. But what is the matter? I feel concerned to know."
"There's nothing much the matter, brother; but, then, Caroline
Murry is not genteel. We don't think of keeping her company."
"Indeed! and you don't associate with her because she is not
genteel. Well, if I am any judge of gentility, Anna, Caroline Murry is
about as genteel and lady-like as any girl I know, always excepting,
of course, my own dear sister."
"Why, brother, how you talk! You don't certainly pretend to compare
her with Ernestine Eberly and Zepherine Fitzwilliams, whom you have
seen here several times?"
"No, I do not," replied the brother, emphatically.
"Well, they're what I call genteel; and Caroline Murry wouldn't be
tolerated in the society where they visit."
"And why not, sister?"
"Havn't I told you? Because she is not considered genteel; that is
"But I don't understand what you consider genteel, Anna. If I know
what gentility means, Caroline, as far as that is concerned, is in
every way superior to Ernestine Eberly and Zepherine Fitzwilliams."
"Now, William, that is too bad! If any other man had said so to me,
I would never have spoken to him again as long as I lived."
"But seriously, Anna, what do you mean by gentility?" asked the
"That's a question more easily asked than answered; but you know,
as well as I do, what is meant by gentility. Every body knows."
"I know what I mean by it, Anna. But it seems that we don't agree
on the subject; for I call Caroline Murry genteel, and you don't: so
you see that different things may be called by the same name. Now,
what I wish to know is, what precise meaning you attach to the word?
or, why you do not think Caroline genteel?"
"Why, in the first place, she don't go into genteel company. People
of the first rank won't associate with her."
Here ensued a pause, and the brother said —
"Well, why won't they associate with her, Anna? I hope she has not
been guilty of improper or immoral conduct."
"O, no! nothing of that. I never heard the slightest reflection on
her character," replied the sister. "But, then, genteel young ladies
don't work in the kitchen, like hired servants; and she does. And,
besides this, call on her when you will, and she is always doing
something. Why, I am told that she has even been seen at the chamber
windows, fronting on the public street, with her head tied up,
sweeping and making the beds! And Clarrissa Spiggler says that she saw
her once, with the parlor windows open, sweeping and dusting like a
servant! Nobody is going to associate, or be seen in the street with
any one who hasn't the spirit to be above the condition of a
hireling. And, besides this, whenever she was invited to balls or
parties, she never would stay later than ten or eleven o'clock, which
every one knows to be vulgar. Somebody had to go home with her, of
course; and the choicest beau in the company was almost sure to have
his good nature and his politeness taxed for this purpose. Once I
heard her say, that she considered the theatre an unfit place for any
young lady; she offended the whole company, and has never been invited
to a party among genteel people since."
"And is that all?" said William Enfield, taking a long breath.
"Yes, and I should think that was enough, in all conscience,"
replied the sister.
"So should I, Anna, to make me respect her."
"But seriously, William, you cannot be in earnest?"
"And seriously, Anna, are you in earnest?"
"Of course I am."
"Well, sister, I'm afraid my old fashioned notions, for such I
suppose you will call them, and your new fangled notions, for such I
must call them, will not chime well together. All that I have heard
you allege against Caroline Murry, raises, instead of lowering her in
my estimation. So far as a gentle, and truly lady-like deportment is
concerned, I think her greatly superior to the two friends you have
named as the pinks of gentility."
Anna looked into the face of her brother for some moments, her
countenance exhibiting a mingled expression of surprise and
"But you are not going to walk with her in the street any more, I
hope," she at length said.
"And why not, Anna?"
"Because, as I have said before, she is not gen —"
"Genteel, you were going to say. But that allegation, you perceive,
Anna, has no weight with me; I do not consider it a true one."
"Well, we won't talk any more about it just now, for it would be no
use," said the sister, changing her voice and manner; "and so I will
change the subject. I want you to make a call or two with me this
"On Miss Eberly and Miss Fitzwilliams."
"It wouldn't be right for me to do so, would it? You know I don't
consider them genteel," said the brother, with affected gravity.
"O nonsense, brother? why will you trifle so?"
"But, seriously, Anna, I do not consider that those young ladies
have any very strong claims to gentility; and, like you, I have no
wish to associate with those who are not genteel."
"If you talk in that way, William, I shall get angry with you, I
cannot hear my most intimate friends spoken of so lightly; and, at the
same time accused of a want of gentility. You must remember that you
are reflecting upon your sister's associates."
"You must not, and I know you will not, get angry with me, sister,
for speaking plainly; and you must do me the justice to believe that
in speaking as I do I am in earnest. And you must also remember,
that, in saying what you did of Caroline Murry, you spoke of one with
whom your brother has associated, and with whom he is still willing
Anna looked very serious at this, nor could she frame in her own
mind a reply that was satisfactory to her. At last she said —
"But, seriously, brother William, won't you call on those young
ladies with me?"
"Yes, on one condition."
"Well, what is that?"
"Why, on condition that you will, afterwards, call with me, and see
"I cannot do that, William," she replied, in a positive tone.
"And why not, Anna?"
"I have already told you."
"I cannot perceive the force of that reason, Anna. But, if you will
not go with me, I must decline going with you. The society of Miss
Murry cannot be more repulsive to you, than is that of the Misses
Eberly and Fitzwilliams to me."
"You don't know what you are talking about, William."
"That is my own impression about you. But come, now, sister, let us
both be rational to each other. I am willing to go with you, if you
will go with me."
"Yes, but, William, you don't reflect, that, in doing as you desire
me, I will be in danger of losing my present position in society.
Caroline Murry is not esteemed genteel in the circle in which I move,
and if it should be known that I visit her, I will be considered on a
level with her. I would do any thing to oblige you, but, indeed, I
would be risking too much here."
"You would only be breaking loose," replied the brother, "from the
slavery you are now in to false notions of what is truly genteel. If
any one esteems you less for being kind, attentive, and courteous, to
one against whom suspicion has never dared to breathe a word, and
whose whole life is a bright example of the pure and high-toned
principles that govern her, that one is unworthy of your regard. True
gentility does not exist, my sister, merely in a studied and
artificial elegance of behavior, but in inward purity and taste, and a
true sense of what is right, all exhibiting themselves in their
natural external expression. The real lady judges of others from what
they are, and neglects none but the wilfully depraved. True, there
are distinctions in society, and there are lines of social demarcation
— and all this is right. But we should be careful into what social
sphere we are drawn, and how we suffer ourselves to be influenced by
the false notions of real worth which prevail in some circles that
profess a high degree of gentility. I hold that every one, no matter
what may be his or her condition in life, fails to act a true part if
not engaged in doing something that is useful. Let me put it to your
natural good sense, which do you think the most deserving of praise,
Caroline Murry, who spends her time in `doing something' useful to her
whole family; or your friends, the Misses Eberly and Fitzwilliams,
and those constituting their particuler circle, who expect service
from others, but never think of rendering any, and who carry their
prejudices so far as to despise those who work?"
Anna did not reply, and her brother said —
"I am in earnest, sister, when I say, that you cannot confer a
greater favor upon your brother, than to go with him to see Caroline
Murry. Cannot I induce you to comply with my wishes?"
"I will go," she replied to this appeal, and then hurried away,
evidently no little disturbed in her feelings.
In half an hour she was ready, and, taking her brother's arm, was
soon on the way to Miss Ernestine Eberly's residence. That young lady
received them with all the graces and fashionable airs she could
assume, and entertained them with the idle gossip of the day,
interspersed with an occasional spice of envious and ill-natured
remark. Knowing that her brother was a close discriminator, and
knowing that he was by no means prepossessed in her friends favor,
Anna herself observed her more narrowly, and, as it were, with his
eyes. It seemed to her that Miss Eberly never was so uninteresting, or
so mal-apropos in what she said. The call on Zepherine Fitzwilliams
came next in turn. Scanning her also with other eyes than her own,
Anna was disappointed in her very dear friend. She looked through her,
and was pained to see that there was a hollowness and want of any
thing like true strength or excellence of character about her.
Particularly was she displeased at a gratuitous sneer thrown out at
the expense of Caroline Murry.
And now, with a reluctance which she could not overcome, Anna
turned with her brother, towards the residence of the young lady who
had caste, because she had good sense and was industrious.
"I know my sister's lady-like character will prompt her to right
action, in our next call," said the brother, looking into Anna's face
with an encouraging smile.
She did not reply, yet she felt somehow or other pleased with the
remark. A few minutes walk brought them to the door, and they were
presently ushered into a neat parlor in which was the young lady they
were seeking. She sat near a window, and was sewing. She was plainly
dressed in comparison with the young ladies just called upon; but in
neatness, and in all that constitutes the lady in air and appearance,
in every way their superior.
"I believe you know my sister," said Enfield, on presenting Anna.
"We have met a few times," she replied with a pleasant,
unembarrassed smile, extending at the same time her hand.
Miss Enfield took the offered hand with less reluctance than she
had imagined she could, but a few hours before. Somehow or other,
Caroline seemed to her to be very much changed for the better in
manner and appearance. And she could not help, during all the visit,
drawing contrasts between her and the two very dear friends she had
just called upon; and the contrast was in no way favorable to the
latter. The conversation was on topics of ordinary interest, but did
not once degenerate into frivolity or censoriousness. Good sense
manifested itself in almost every sentence that Caroline uttered, and
this was so apparent to Anna, that she could not help frequently
noticing and involuntarily approving it. "What a pity," Anna once or
twice remarked to herself, "that she will be so singular."
The call was but a brief one. Anna parted with Caroline under a
different impression of her character than she had ever before
entertained. After her return with her brother, he asked her this
"Which of the young ladies, Anna, of the three we called upon this
morning, would you prefer to call your sister?"
Anna looked up, bewildered and surprised, into the face of her
brother, for a few moments, and then said;
"I don't understand you, brother William."
"Why, I thought I asked a very plain question. But I will make it
plainer. Which one of the three young ladies we called upon this
morning, would you advise me to marry?"
"Neither," replied Anna promptly.
"That is only jumping the question," he said, smiling. "But, to
corner you so that there can be no escape, I will confess that I have
made up my mind to marry one of the three. Now tell me which you
would rather it would be."
"Caroline Murry, said Anna, emphatically, while her cheeks burned,
and her eyes became slightly suffused.
William Enfield did not reply to the hoped for, though rather
unexpected admission, but stooping down, he kissed her glowing cheek,
and whispered in her ear,
"Then she shall be your sister, and I know you will love one
He said truly. In a few months he claimed Caroline Murry as his
bride, and her good sense, and winning gentleness of character,
influenced Anna, and effectually counteracted the false notions which
were beginning to corrupt a good heart and to overshadow a sound
judgment. It was not long before she was fully sensible of the real
difference which there was between the character of her two friends,
and that of her brother's wife; and also between true and false
gentility. Although Caroline Murry had been proscribed by a certain
circle in which false pride, instead of principle, was the governing
motive, she had still been esteemed among those who knew how to look
beyond the surface. As the wife of Enfield, she at once took a
position in circles where those who had passed her by as unworthy
would have sought in vain for admission, and in those circles she
shone as a bright particular star.
THE SAILOR BOY'S LAMENT.
BY MRS. CAROLINE ORNE.
Alas! why did I leave My pleasant home A wanderer o'er the waves,
Afar to roam? Ah! why was I the first To rend apart Those household
ties that long Bound heart to heart, 'Tis night: the waves are round,
The sky above, Whence the bright stars look down On those I love;
On those whose fondest thoughts Will still be given To me, whene'er
they lift Their hearts to Heaven. For this yon beaming stars Seem
friends to me, But soon on distant seas My course will be — Seas
where a stranger host Will meet my gaze, That ne'er on those I love,
Poured their soft rays. Then will there nought be left Save mem'ry's
chain, To link my thoughts with those Beyond the main; But many a
lovely flower, Unheeded when I mingled joys with them, Will bloom
again. The sunny places where The violet Nestled amid the grass,
With dew still wet — The fount, the mossy rock, The old oak tree,
Will, in my night-watch, oft Come back to me. Oh, for one hour with
those I left behind, Whose voices in the night, Borne on the wind,
Like the low wind-harp's notes Oft seem to come, Wafted from flowery
fields, Near by my home. Why did I leave the fount, The rock, the
tree — The glades where wild-flowers bloomed, And roved the bee?
Why did I leave my home, And those I love, O'er the wild, pathless
sea, Afar to rove?
THE SUMMER RAIN.
When parched and dewless is the ground, And wither'd herb and
flower, New life is spread the earth around, As falls the summer
shower. Each drooping flower new strength receives, And brightly
blooms again, As gently falls upon its leaves The cool refreshing
rain. Then, when the clouds has pass'd away, How radiant all appears,
The rain drops glitter on each spray, Like childhood's laughing
EXPERIENCE OF A MECHANIC.
"Two young men, both of them mechanics, were married about the same
time, and entered life with apparently equal prospects—except that
one was rather given to extravagance and fashion, while the other was
more prudent and frugal.— The wife of the latter, however, being of
a different turn from her husband, became uneasy because the former,
without any superior advantages, made more show than they did, and had
many more fine things. She told her husband that his
income must be as much as the other's, and that she knew they were
able to appear as well as their neighbor. "I want to do as other folks
do," was her all conquering argument. Her husband yielded again and
again to her entreaties, although professing that he was not able
"At length his more showy neighbor
failed! And seeing their
fine things sold under the hammer of the auctioneer, his wife, who
was far from being destitute of good feelings, began to mistrust
whether by imitating them, and "doing as other folks do" they might
not meet with a similar fate. She anxiously inquired of her husband
how his affairs stood. He told her that his expenses had exceeded his
income, but he hoped to get through and pay what he owed.
"Before long, however, he was
sued for debt. Then his wife
was in panics! She knew that his misfortune was chargeable to
her folly; although he never reproached her, nor cast any unkind
reflections. Disturbed with contending emotions she tried to plan
some way to get along in this terrible difficulty! But finding all her
endeavors fruitless, she said to her husband, with unfeigned distress,
"What shall we do? What can we do?" "Do?" he calmly
replied, "we must do as other folks do have our fine things sold
under the hammer!"
"This was enough for her. She had seen the beginning and ending of
this common folly, and she was satisfied. From that time he had no
trouble to persuade her to be frugal and prudent. They were both
agreed in pursuing the same course. And it is almost useless to say,
that their prosperity was in proportion to their wisdom and prudence."
BY FRANCIS W. THOMAS,
Author of `Clinton Bradshaw,' Etc.
How beautiful is woman's life, When first her suppliant woos and
kneels, And she with young and warm hopes rife, Believes he deeply
feels. Then day is gladness, and the night Looks on her with its
starry eyes, As though it gave her all their might Over men's
destinies. Wrapt watchers of the skicy gleam, Then men are like
astronomers Who gaze and gladden at the beam Of that bright eye of
hers. And if a frown obscure its light, 'Tis like a cloud to
star-struck men, Through the long watches of the night, — Oh! for
that beam again! How heart-struck that astrologer, A gazer on the
starry zone, When first he looked in vain for her, The lovely Pleiad
gone. But men watch not the stars always — And though the Pleiad
may be lost, Yet still there are a thousand rays From the surrounding
host. And woman, long before the grave Closes above her dreamless
rest, May be man's empress and his slave, And his discarded jest.
Still may that Pleiad shine afar, But pleasure-led o,er summer seas,
Who dwells upon a single star Amid the Pleiades. Man courts the
constellations bright, That beam upon his bounding bark, Nor thinks
upon the left lone light, 'Till all above is dark. Then when he knows
nor land nor main, And darkly is his frail bark tossed, He counts the
separate stars in vain And mourns the Pleiad lost.
THE SOFT ANSWER.
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
"I'll give him law to his heart's content, the scoundrel!" said Mr.
Singleton, walking backwards and forwards, in a state of angry
"Don't call harsh names, Mr. Singleton," said Lawyer Trueman,
looking up from the mass of papers before him, and smiling, in a
quiet, benevolent way, that was peculiar to him.
"Every man should be known by his true name. Williams is a
scoundrel, and so he ought to be called!" responded the client, with
"Did you ever do a reasonable thing in your life, when you were
angry?" asked Mr. Trueman whose age and respectability gave him the
license to speak thus freely to his young friend, for whom he was
endeavoring to arrange some business difficulty with a former partner.
"I can't say that I ever did, Mr. Trueman.— But now, I have good
reason for being angry; and the language I use in reference to
Williams is but the expression of a sober and rational conviction,"
replied Singleton, a little more calmly.
"Did you not pronounce him a scoundrel before you received his
reply to your last letter," asked Mr. Trueman.
"No, I did not. But that letter confirmed my previously formed
impression of his character."
"But I cannot find in that letter any evidence proving your late
partner to be a dishonest man. He will not agree to your proposed mode
of settlement, because he does not see it to be the most proper way."
"He won't agree to it, because it is an honest and equitable method
of settlement, that is all! He wants to over-reach me, and is
determined to do so if he can!" responded Mr. Singleton, still
"There you are decidely wrong," said the lawyer. "You have both
allowed yourselves to become angry, and are both unreasonable, and, if
I must speak plainly, I think you the most unreasonable, in the
present case. Two angry men can never settle any business properly.
You have very unnecessarily increased the difficulties in the way of
a speedy settlement, by writing Mr. Williams an angry letter which he
has responded to in a like unhappy temper. Now, if I am to settle
this business for you, I must write all letters that pass to Mr.
Williams in future."
"But how can you properly express my views and feelings?"
"That I do not wish to do, if your views and feelings are to remain
as they now are, for any thing like adjustment of the difficulties
under such circumstances, I should consider hopeless," replied Mr.
"Well, let me answer this letter, and after that, I promise that
you shall have your own way."
"No, I shall consent to no such thing. It is the reply to
letter which is to modify the negotiation for a settlement in such a
way as to bring success or failure; and I have no idea of allowing
you, in the present state of your mind, to write such a one as will
most assuredly defeat an amicable arrangement."
Singleton paused for some time, before making a reply. He had been
forming in his mind a most cutting and bitter rejoinder to the letter
just alluded to, and he was very desirous that Mr. Williams should
have the benefit of knowing that he thought him a "tricky and
deliberate scoundrel," with other opinions of a similar character. He
found it, therefore, impossible to make up his mind to let the
unimpassioned Mr. Trueman write this most important epistle.
"Indeed I must write
this letter, Mr. Trueman," he said,"
"There are some things that I want to say to him, that I know you
won't write. You don't seem to consider the position in which he has
placed me by that letter, nor what is obligatory upon me as a man of
honor. I never allow any man to reflect upon me, directly of
indirectly, without a prompt response."
"There is, in the Bible," said Mr. Trueman, "a passage that is
peculiarly applicable in the present case. It is this—A soft
answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.— I
have found this precept, in a life that has numbered more than double
your years, to be one that may be safely and honorably adopted, in all
cases. You blame Mr. Williams for writing you an angry letter, and
are indignant at certain expressions contained therein. Now, is it any
more right for you to write an angry letter, with cutting epithets,
than it is for him?"
"But, Mr. Trueman—"
"I do assure you, my young friend," said the lawyer interrupting
him, "that I am acting in this case for your benefit, and not for my
own; and, as your legal adviser, you must submit to my judgment, or I
cannot consent to go on."
"If I will promise not to use any harsh language, will you not
consent to let me write the letter?" urged the client.
"You and I, in the present state of your mind, could not possibly
come at the same conclusion in reference to what is harsh and what is
mild," said Mr. Trueman, "therefore I cannot consent that you shall
write one word of the proposed reply. I must write it."
"Well, I suppose, then I shall have to submit. When will it be
"Come this afternoon, and I will give you the draft, which you can
copy and sign."
In the afternoon Mr. Singleton came and received the letter
prepared by Mr. Trueman. It ran thus, after the date and formal
"I regret that my proposition did not meet your approval. The mode
of settlement which I suggested was the result of a careful
consideration of our mutual interests. Be kind enough to suggest to
Mr. Trueman, my lawyer, any plan which you think will lead to an
amicable adjustment of our business. You may rely upon my consent to
it, if it meets his approbation."
"Is it possible, Mr. Trueman, that you expect
me to sign
such a cringing letter as that?" said Mr. Singleton, throwing it down,
and walking backwards and forwards with great irritation of manner.
"Well, what is your objection to it," replied Mr. Trueman, mildly,
for he was prepared for just such an exhibition of feelings.
"Objection! How can you ask such a question? Am I to go on my knees
to him and beg him to do me justice. No! I'll sacrifice every cent
I've got in the world first, the scoundrel!"
"You wish to have your business settled, do you not?" asked Mr.
Trueman, looking him steadily in the face.
"Of course I do!—Honorably settled!"
"Well, let me hear what you mean by an honorable settlement?"
"Why I mean—"
The young man hesitated a moment, and Mr. Trueman said,
"You mean a settlement in which your interest shall be equally
considered with that of Mr. Williams."
"Yes, certainly. And that—"
"And that," continued Mr. Trueman, "Mr. Williams, in the
settlement, shall consider and treat you as a gentleman."
"Certainly I do. But that is more than he
"Well, never mind. Let what is past go for as much as it worth. The
principal point of action is in the present."
"But I'll never send that mean, cringing letter, though."
"You mistake its whole tenor, I do assure you, Mr. Singleton. You
have allowed your angry feelings to blind you. You, certainly,
carefully considered, before you adopted it, the proposed basis of a
settlement, did you not."
"Of course I did."
"So the letter which I have prepared for you, states. Now as an
honest and honorable man, you are, I am sure, willing to grant to him
the same privilege which you asked for yourself, viz, that of
proposing a plan of settlement. Your pro position does not seem to
please him: now it is but fair that he should be invited to state how
he wishes the settlement to be made. And in giving such an
invitation, a gentleman should use gentlemanly language."
"But, he don't deserve to be treated like a gentleman. In fact, he
has no claim to the title," the young man.
"If he has none, as you say,
you profess to
gentleman, and all gentlemen should prove by their actions and their
words that they are gentle men."
"I can't say that I am convinced by what you say, but, as you seem
so bent on having it your own way, why, here, let me copy the thing
and sign it," said the young man, suddenly changing his manner.
"There now!" he added, passing across the table the brief letter he
had copied, "I suppose he'll think me a low spirited fellow, after he
gets that. But he's mistaken. After it's all over, I'll take good
care to tell him, that it didn't contain my sentiments!
Mr. Trueman smiled, as he took the letter, and went on to fold and
"Come to-morrow afternoon, and I think we'll have things in a
pretty fair way," he said, looking up with his usual pleasant smile,
as he finished the direction of the letter.
"Good afternoon, Mr. Singleton," he said, as that gentleman entered
his office on the succeeding day.
"Good afternoon," responded the young man. "Well, have you heard
from that milk and water letter of yours? I can't call it mine."
"Yes, here is the answer. Take a seat, and I will read it to you,"
said the old gentleman.
"Well, let's hear it."
"Dear George—I have your kind, reasonable, and gentlemanly note
of yesterday, in reply to my harsh, unreasonable, and ungentlemanly
one of the day before. We have both been playing the fool; but you
are ahead of me in becoming sane. I have examined, since I got your
proposition for a settlement, and it meet my views precisely. My
foolish anger kept me from seeing it before. Let our mutual friend,
Mr. Trueman, arrange the matter, according to the plan mentioned, and
I shall most heartily acquiesce. Yours, &c."
"He never wrote that letter in the world!" exclaimed Singleton,
starting to his feet."
"You know his writing, I presume," said Mr. Trueman, handing him
"It's Thomas Williams' own hand, as I live!" ejaculated Singleton,
on glancing at the letter.— "My old friend, Thomas Williams, the
best natured fellow in the world!" he continued, his feelings
undergoing a sudden and entire revolution. "What a fool I have been!"
"And what a fool
I have been!" said Thomas Williams,
advancing from an adjoining room, at the same time extending his hand
"God bless you, my old friend!" exclaimed Singleton, grasping his
hand. "Why what has been the matter with us both?"
"My young friends," said old Mr. Trueman, one of the kindest
hearted men in the world, rising and advancing towards them. "I have
known you long, and have always esteemed you both. This pleasant
meeting and reconciliation, you perceive, is of my arrangement. Now
let me give you a precept that will both make friends, and keep
friends. It has been my motto through life; and I don't know that I
have an enemy in the world. It is
"A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up