"Look there," said Jim Fellows, throwing down a pair of Jouvin's gloves. "There's from the divine Alice."

"A present?"

"A philopena."

"Seems to me, Jim, you are pushing your fortunes in that quarter?"

"Yes; having a gay time! Adoring at the shrine and all that," said Jim. "The lovely Alice is like one of the Madonna pictures—to be knelt to, sworn to, vowed to—but I can't be the possessor. In the meanwhile, let's have as good a time as possible. We have the very best mutual understanding. I am her sworn knight, and wear her colors—behold!"

And Jim opened his coat, and showed a pretty knot of carnation-colored ribbon.

"But, I thought, Jim, you talked the other night as if you could get any of them you wanted?"

"Who says I couldn't, man? Does not the immortal Shakespeare say, 'She is a woman; therefore to be won'? You don't go to doubting Shakespeare at this time of day, I hope?"

"Well, then—"

"Well, then; you see Hal, we get wiser every day—that is, I do—and it begins to be borne in on my mind that these rich girls won't pay, if you could get them. The game isn't worth the candle."

"But there is real thought and feeling and cultivation among them," said I, taking up the gauntlet with energy.

"So there is real juice in hot-house grapes; but if I should have a present of a hot-house to-morrow, what should I have to run it with? These girls have the education of royal princesses, and all the habits and wants of them; and what could a fellow do with them if he got them? We haven't any Parliament to vote dowries to keep them up on. I declare, I wish you had heard those girls the other night go on about that engagement, and what they expected when their time comes. Do you know the steps of getting engaged?"

"I cannot say I have that happiness," said I.

"Well, first, there's the engagement-ring, not a sign of love, you understand, but a thing to be discussed and compared with all the engagement-rings, past, present, and to come, with Tom's ring, and Dick's ring, and Harry's ring. If you could have heard the girls tell over the prices of the different engagement-rings for the last six months, and bring up with Rivington's, which, it seems, is a solitaire worth a thousand! Henceforth nothing less is to be thought of. Then the wedding present to your wife. Rivington gives $30,000 worth of diamonds. Wedding fees, wedding journey to every expensive place that can be thought of, you ought to have a little fortune to begin with. The lovely creatures are perfectly rapacious in their demands under these heads. I heard full lists of where they were going and what they wanted to have. Then comes a house, in a fashionable quarter, to the tune of fifty thousand dollars; then furniture, carriages, horses, opera-boxes. The short of the matter is, old Van Arsdel's family are having a jolly time on the income of a million. There are six of them, and every one wants to set up in life on the same income. So, you see, the sum is how to divide a million so as to make six millions out of it. The way to do it is plain. Each son and daughter must marry a million, and get as much of a man or woman with it as pleases heaven."

"And suppose some of them should love some man, or woman, more than gold or silver, and choose love in place of money?" said I.

"Well," said Jim, "that's quite supposable; any of these girls is capable of it. But after all, it would be rough on a poor girl to take her at her word. What do they know about it? The only domestic qualification the most practical of them ever think of attaining, is how to make sponge-cake. I believe, when they are thinking of getting married, they generally make a little sponge-cake, and mix a salad dressing, that fits them for the solemn and awful position of wife and mother, which you hear so much about. Now, the queenly Alice is a splendid girl, and can talk French and German and Italian; but her knowledge of natural history is limited. I imagine she thinks gloves grow in packs on the trees, and artificial flowers are raised from seed, and dresses develop by uniform laws of nature at the rate of three or four a month. If you could get the darling to fly to your arms, and the old gentleman should come 'round, and give her what he could afford, how could you console her when she finds out the price of gloves and gaiter-boots, and all the ordinary comforts? I'm afraid the dear child will be ready to murder you for helping her to her own way. So you see, Jim doesn't invest in engagement-rings this year."

Thereupon I sung:

"A sly old fox one day did spy,

A bunch of grapes that hung so high," &c.

"Sing away, my good fellow," said Jim. "Maybe I am the fox; but I'm a fox that has cut his eye-teeth. I'm too cute to put my neck in that noose, you see. No, sir; you can mention to Queen Victoria that if she wants Jim Fellows to marry one of her daughters, why Parliament has got to come down handsomely with dowry to keep her on. They are worth keeping, these splendid creations of nature and art; but it takes as much as to run a first-class steamer. They go exactly in the line of fine pictures and statuary, and all that. They may be adorable and inspiring, and exalting and refining and purifying, the very poetry of existence, the altogether lovely; but, after all, it is only the rich that can afford to keep them. A wife costs more in our day than a carriage or a conscience, and both those are luxuries too expensive for Jim."

"Jim! Jim!! Jim!!!" I exclaimed, in tones of expostulation; but the impracticable Jim cut a tall pirouette, and sung,

"My old massa told me so,

Best looking nigger in the country, O!

I looked in the glass and I found it so—o—o—O—O."

The crescendo here made the papers flutter, and created a lively breeze in the apartment.

"And now, farewell, divinest Alice, Jim must go to work. Let's see. Oh! I've promised a rip-staving skinner on Tom Brown in that Custom House affair."

"What is that business? What has Brown done? If all is true that is alleged he ought to be turned out of decent society."

"Oh pshaw! you don't understand; its nothing but a dust we're kicking up because its a dry time. Brown's a good fellow enough, I dare say, but you know we want to sell our papers and these folks want hot hash with their breakfast every morning, and somebody has got to be served up. You see the Seven Stars started this story, and sold immensely, and we come in on the wave; the word to our paper is 'pitch in' and so I'm pitching in."

"But, Jim, is it the fair thing to do when you don't know the truth of the story?"

"The truth! well, my dear fellow, who knows or cares anything about truth in our days? We want to sell our papers."

"And to sell your papers you will sell your honor as a man and a gentleman."

"Oh! bother, Hal, with your preaching."

"But, Jim, you ought to examine both sides and know the truth."

"I do examine; generally write on both sides when these rows come on. I'm going to defend Brown in the Forum; you see they sent round yesterday for an article, so you see Jim makes his little peculium both ways."

"Jim, is that the square thing?"

"Why not? It would puzzle the Devil himself to make out what the truth is in one of our real double and twisted New York newspaper rows. I don't pretend to do it, but I'll show up either side or both sides if I'm paid for it. We young men must live! If the public must have spicery we must get it up for them. We only serve out what they order. I tell you, now, what this great American people wants is a semi-occasional row about something, no matter what; a murder, or a revival, or a great preacher, or the Black Crook; the Lord or the Devil, anything to make matters lively, and break up the confounded dull times round in the country."

"And so you get up little personal legends, myths, about this or that man?"

"Exactly, that's what public men are good for. They are our drums and tamborines; we beat on 'em to amuse the people and make a variety; nobody cares for anything more than a day; they forget it to-morrow, and something else turns up."

"And you think it right," said I, "to use up character just as you do boot-blacking to make your boots shine? How would you like to be treated so yourself?"

"Shouldn't mind it a bit—Bless your buttons—it don't hurt anybody. Nobody thinks the worse of them. Why, you could prove conclusively that any of our public men break the whole ten commandments at a smash—break 'em for breakfast, dinner and supper, and it wouldn't hurt 'em. People only oh and ah and roll up their eyes and say "Terrible!" and go out and meet him, and it's "My dear fellow how are you? why haven't you been round to our house lately?" By and by they say, "Look here, we're tired of this about Brown, give us more variety." Then Jones turns up and off go the whole pack after Jones. That keeps matters lively, you see."

I laughed and Jim was perfectly satisfied. All that he ever wanted in an argument was to raise a laugh, and he was triumphant, and went scratching on with his work with untiring industry. He always left me with an uneasy feeling, that by laughing and letting him alone I was but half doing my duty, and yet it seemed about as feasible to present moral considerations to a bob-o-link.

"There," he said, after half an hour of scribbling, "there's so much for old Mam."

"Who's old 'Mam'?"

"Haven't heard! why, your mistress and mine, the old Mammon of unrighteousness; she is mistress of all things here below. You can't even carry on religion in this world but through her. You must court old Mam, or your churches, and your missions, and all the rest go under, and Jim works hard for her, and she owes him a living."

"There have been men in our day who prevailed in spite of her."

"Who, for example?"


"Well, he's top of the heap now, sure enough, but I tell you that was a long investment. Jim has to run on ready cash and sell what's asked for now. I stand at my counter, "Walk up, gentlemen, what'll you take; orders taken and executed with promptness and despatch. Religion? yes sir. Here's the account of the work of Divine grace in Skowhegan; fifty awakened and thirty-nine indulging in hope. Here's criticism on Boanerges' orthodoxy, showing how he departs from the great vital doctrines of grace, giving up Hell and all the other consolations of our holy religion. We'll serve you out orthodoxy red hot. Anything in this line? Here's the latest about sweet little Dame Aux Camelias, and lovely little Kitty Blondine.

'Oh! Kitty is my darling, my darling, my darling, etc.'

And here's the reformatory, red hot, hit or miss, here's for the niggers and the paddies and the women and all the enslaved classes. Jim will go it for any of them, only give him his price." I think of getting up a show bill with list of prices affixed. Jim will run anybody up or run anybody down to order."

I put my hand over his mouth. "Come, you born magpie," said I, "you shan't make yourself out so much worse than you are."

[Eva Van Arsdel to Isabel Convers.]

My Dear Belle:—I told you I would write the end of my little adventure, and whether the "hermit" comes or not. Yes, my dear, sure enough, he did come, and mamma and we all like him immensely; he had really quite a success among us. Even Ida, who never receives calls, was gracious and allowed him to come into her sanctum because he is a champion of the modern idea about women. Have you seen an article in the "Milky Way" on the "Women of our Times," taking the modern radical ground? Well, it was by him; it suited Ida to a hair, but some little things in it vexed me because there was a phrase or two about the "fashionable butterflies," and all that; that comes a great deal too near the truth to be altogether agreeable. I don't care when Ida says such things, because she's another woman, and between ourselves we know there is a deal of nonsense current among us, and if we have a mind to talk about it among ourselves, why its like abusing one's own relations in the bosom of the family, one of the sweetest domestic privileges, you know; but, when lordly man begins to come to judgment and call over the roll of our sins, I am inclined to tell him to look at home, and to say, "Pray, what do you know about us sir?" I stand up for my sex, right or wrong; so you see we had a spicy little controversy, and I made the hermit open his eyes, (and, between us, he has handsome eyes to open). He looked innocently astonished at first to be taken up so briskly, and called to account for his sayings. You see the way these men have of going on and talking without book about us quite blinds them; they can set us down conclusively in the abstract when they don't see us or hear us, but when a real live girl meets them and asks an account of their sayings they begin to be puzzled. However, I must say my lord can talk when he fairly is put up to it. He is a true, serious, earnest-hearted man, and does talk beautifully, and his eyes speak when he is silent. The forepart of the evening, you see we were in a state of most charming agreement; he was in our little "Italy," and we had the nicest of times going over all the pictures and portfolios and the dear old Italian life; it seems as if we had both of us seen, and thought of, and liked the same things—it was really curious!

Well, like enough, that's all there is to it. Ten to one he never will call again. Mamma invited him to be here every Wednesday, quite urged it upon him, but he said his time was so filled up with work. There you see is where men have the advantage of girls! They have something definite to fill up their time, thought and hearts; we nothing, so we think of them from sheer idleness, and they forget us through press of business. Ten to one he never calls here again. Why should he? I shouldn't think he would. I wouldn't if I were he. He isn't a dancing man, nor an idler, but one that takes life earnestly, and after all I dare say he thinks us fashionable girls a sad set. But I'm sure he must admire Ida; and she was wonderfully gracious for her, and gave him the entrée of her sanctum, where there never are any but rational sayings and doings.

Well, we shall see.

I am provoked with what you tell me about the reports of my engagement to Mr. Sydney, and I tell you now once again "No, no." I told you in my last that I was not engaged, and I now tell you what is more that I never can, shall or will be engaged to him; my mind is made up, but how to get out of the net that is closing round me I don't see. I think all these things are "perplexing and disagreeable." If a girl wants to do the fair thing it is hard to know how. First you refuse outright, and then my lord comes as a friend. Will you only allow him the liberty to try and alter your feelings, and all that? You shall not be forced; he only wants you to get more acquainted, and the result is you go on getting webbed and meshed in day after day more and more. You can't refuse flowers and attentions offered by a friend; if you take them you may be quite sure they will be made to mean more. Mamma and Aunt Maria have a provoking way of talking about it constantly as a settled thing, and one can't protest from morning till night, apropos to every word. At first they urged me to receive his attentions; now they are saying that I have accepted so many I can't honorably withdraw. And so he doesn't really give me an opportunity to bring the matter to a crisis; he has a silent taking-for-granted air, that is provoking. But the law that binds our sex is the law of all ghosts and spirits; we can't speak till we are spoken to; meanwhile reports spread, and people say hateful things as if you were trying and failing. How angry that makes me! One is almost tempted sometimes to accept just to show that one can; but, seriously, dear Belle, this is wicked trifling. Marriage is an awful, a tremendous thing, and we of the church are without excuse if we go into it lightly or unadvisedly, and I never shall marry till I see the man that is my fate. I have what mamma calls domestic ideas, and I'm going to have them, and when I marry it shall be for the man alone, not a pieced up affair of carriages, horses, diamonds, opera boxes, cashmeres with a man, but a man for whom all the world were well lost; then I shall not be afraid of the church service which now stands between me and Mr. Sydney. I cannot, I dare not lie to God and swear falsely at the altar, to gain the whole world.

I wish you could hear our new rector. He is making a sensation among us. If the life he is calling on us all to live is the real and true one, we shall soon have to choose between what is called society, and the church; for if being a church-woman means all he says, one cannot be in it without really making religion the life's business—which, you know, we none of us do or have. Dear man, when I see him tugging and straining to get our old, sleepy, rich families into heavenly ways, I think of Pegasus yoked to a stone cart. He is all life and energy and enthusiasm, he breathes fire, and his wings are spread heavenward, but there's the old dead, lumbering cart at his heels! Poor man!—and poor cart too—for I am in it with the rest of the lumber!

We are in all the usual Spring agonies now about clothes. The house reverberates with the discussion of hats and bonnets, and feathers and flowers, and overskirts and underskirts, and all the paraphernalia—and what an absurd combination it makes with the daily services in Lent. Absurd? No—dreadful! for at church we are reading of our Saviour's poverty and fasting and agonies—what a contrast between his life and ours! Was it to make us such as we are that he thus lived and died?

Cousin Sophia is happy in her duties in the sisterhood. Her church life and daily life are all of a piece—one part is not a mockery of the other. There's Ida too—out of the church, making no profession of churchly religion, but living wholly out of this bustling, worldly sphere, devoted to a noble life purpose—fitting herself to make new and better paths for women. Ida has none of these dress troubles; she has cut loose from all. Her simple black dress costs incredibly less than our outfit—it is all arranged with a purpose—yet she always has the air of a lady, and she has besides a real repose, which we never do. This matter of dress has a thousand jars and worries and vexations to a fastidious nature; one wishes one were out of it.

I have heard that nuns often say they are more blessed than ever they were in the world, and I can conceive why,—it is a perfect and blissful rest from all that troubles ordinary women. In the first place, the marriage question. They know that they are not to be married, and it is a comfort to have a definite settlement of that matter. Then all agitations and fluctuations about that are over. In the next place, the dress question. They have a dress provided, put it on, and wear it without thought or inquiry; there is no room for thought, or use for inquiry. In the third place, the question of sphere and work is settled for them; they know their duties exactly; and if they don't, there is a director to tell them; they have only to obey. This must be rest—blissful rest.

I think of it sometimes, and wonder why it is that this dress question must smother us women and wear us out, and take our whole life and breath as it does! In our family it is perfectly fearful. If one had only one's self to please, it is hard enough—what with one's own fastidious taste, with dressmakers who never keep their word, and push you off at the last moment with abominable things; but when one has pleased one's self, then comes mamma, and then all the girls, every one with an opinion; and then when this gauntlet is run, comes Aunt Maria, more solemn and dictatorial than the whole—so that by the time anything gets really settled, one is so fatigued that life doesn't seem really worth having.

I told Mr. Henderson, in our little discussion last night, that I envied men because they had a chance to live a real, grand, heroic life, while we were smothered under trifles and common-places, and he said, in reply, that the men had no more chances in this way than we; that theirs was a life of drudgeries and detail; and that the only way for man or woman was to animate ordinary duties by a heroic spirit. He said that woman's speciality was to idealize life by shedding a noble spirit upon its ordinary trifles. I don't think he is altogether right. I still think the opportunities for a noble life are ten to one in the hands of men; but still there is a great deal in what he says. He spoke beautifully of the noble spirit shown by some women in domestic life. I thought perhaps it was his mother he was thinking of. He must have known some noble woman, for his eye kindled when he spoke about it.

How I have run on—and what a medley this letter is. I dare not look it over, for I should be sure to toss it into the fire. Write to me soon, dearest Bella, and tell me what you think of matters so far.

Your ever loving


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