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  • Her mind was often the leading one, always effective.

    When I talked with her upon these matters, and had said very much what I have written, she smilingly replied, And yet we must admit that I have been fortunate, and this should not be. My good father’s early trust gave the first bias, and the rest followed of course. It is true that I have had less outward aid, in after years, than most women, but that is of little consequence. Religion was early awakened in my soul, a sense that what the soul is capable to ask it must attain, andthat, though I might be aided by others, I must depend on myself as the only constant friend. This self-dependence, which was honored in me, is deprecated as a fault in most women. They are taught to learn their rule from without, not to unfold it from within.

    This is the fault of man, who is still vain, and wishes to be more important to woman than by right he should be.

    Men have not shown this disposition towards you, I said.

    No, because the position I early was enabled to take, was one of self-reliance.

    And were all women as sure of their wants as I was, the result would be the same.

    The difficulty is to get them to the point where they shall naturally develop self-respect, the question how it is to be done.

    Once I thought that men would help on this state of things more than I do now.

    I saw so many of them wretched in the connections they had formed in weakness and vanity. They seemed so glad to esteem women whenever they could!

    But early I perceived that men never, in any extreme of despair, wished to be women. Where they admired any woman they were inclined to speak of her as above her sex. Silently I observed this, and feared it argued a rooted skepticism, which for ages had been fastening on the heart, and which only an age of miracles could eradicate. Ever I have been treated with great sincerity; and I look upon it Page | 1058

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    as a most signal instance of this, that an intimate friend of the other sex said in a fervent moment, that I deserved in some star to be a man. Another used as highest praise, in speaking of a character in literature, the words “a manly woman.”

    It is well known that of every strong woman they say she has a masculine mind.

    This by no means argues a willing want of generosity towards woman. Man is as generous towards her, as he knows how to be.

    Wherever she has herself arisen in national or private history, and nobly shone forth in any ideal of excellence, men have received her, not only willingly, but with triumph. Their encomiums indeed are always in some sense mortifying, they show too much surprise.

    In every-day life the feelings of the many are stained with vanity. Each wishes to be lord in a little world, to be superior at least over one; and he does not feel strong enough to retain a life-long ascendant over a strong nature. Only a Brutus would rejoice in a Portia. Only Theseus could conquer before he wed the Amazonian Queen. Hercules wished rather to rest from his labors with Dejanira, and received the poisoned robe, as a fit guerdon. The tale should be interpreted to all those who seek repose with the weak.

    But not only is man vain and fond of power, but the same want of development, which thus affects him morally in the intellect, prevents his discerning the destiny of woman. The boy wants no woman, but only a girl to play ball with him, and mark his pocket handkerchief.

    Thus in Schiller’s Dignity of Woman, beautiful as the poem is, there is no

    “grave and perfect man,” but only a great boy to be softened and restrained by the influence of girls. Poets, the elder brothers of their race, have usually seen further; but what can you expect of every-day men, if Schiller was not more prophetic as to what women must be! Even with Richter one foremost thought about a wife was that she would “cook him something good.”

    The sexes should not only correspond to and appreciate one another, but prophesy to one another. In individual instances this happens. Two persons love in one another the future good which they aid one another to unfold. This is very imperfectly done as yet in the general life. Man has gone but little way, now he is waiting to see whether woman can keep step with him, but instead of calling out like a good brother; You can do it if you only think so, or impersonally; Any one can do what he tries to do, he often discourages with school-boy brag; Girls can’t do that, girls can’t play ball. But let any one defy their taunts, break through, and be brave and secure, they rend the air with shouts.

    No! man is not willingly ungenerous. He wants faith and love, because he is not yet himself an elevated being. He cries with sneering skepticism; Give us a sign. But if the sign appears, his eyes glisten, and he offers not merely approval, but homage.

    The severe nation which taught that the happiness of the race was forfeited through the fault of a woman, and showed its thought of what sort of regard man owed her, by making him accuse her on the first question to his God, who gave her Page | 1059

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    to the patriarch as a handmaid, and, by the Mosaical law, bound her to allegiance like a serf, even they greeted, with solemn rapture, all great and holy women as heroines, prophetesses, nay judges in Israel; and, if they made Eve listen to the serpent, gave Mary to the Holy Spirit. In other nations it has been the same down to our day. To the woman, who could conquer, a triumph was awarded. And not only those whose strength was recommended to the heart by association with goodness and beauty, but those who were bad, if they were steadfast and strong, had their claims allowed. In any age a Semiramis , an Elizabeth of England, a Catharine of Russia makes her place good, whether in a large or small circle.

    How has a little wit, a little genius, always been celebrated in a woman!

    What an intellectual triumph was that of the lonely Aspasia , and how heartily acknowledged! She, indeed, met a Pericles. But what annalist, the rudest of men, the most plebeian of husbands, will spare from his page one of the few anecdotes of Roman women!-—Sappho , Eloisa ! The names are of thread-bare celebrity.

    The man habitually most narrow towards women will be flushed, as by the worst assault on Christianity, if you say it has made no improvement in her condition.

    Indeed, those most opposed to new acts in her favor are jealous of the reputation of those which have been done.

    We will not speak of the enthusiasm excited by actresses, improvisatrici, female singers, for here mingles the charm of beauty and grace, but female authors, even learned women, if not insufferably ugly and slovenly, from the Italian professor’s daughter, who taught behind the curtain, down to Mrs. Carter and Madame Dacier, are sure of an admiring audience, if they can once get a platform on which to stand.

    But how to get this platform, or how to make it of reasonably easy access is the difficulty. Plants of great vigor will almost always struggle into blossom, despite impediments. But there should be encouragement, and a free, genial atmosphere for those of more timid sort, fair play for each in its own kind. Some are like the little, delicate flowers, which love to hide in the dripping mosses by the sides of mountain torrents, or in the shade of tall trees. But others require an open field, a rich and loosened soil, or they never show their proper hues.

    It may be said man does not have his fair play either; his energies are repressed and distorted by the interposition of artificial obstacles. Aye, but he himself has put them there; they have grown out of his own imperfections. If there is a misfortune in woman’s lot, it is in obstacles being interposed by men, which do not mark her state, and if they express her past ignorance, do not her present needs. As every man is of woman born, she has slow but sure means of redress, yet the sooner a general justness of thought makes smooth the path, the better.

    Man is of woman born, and her face bends over him in infancy with an expression he can never quite forget. Eminent men have delighted to pay tribute to this image, and it is a hacknied observation, that most men of genius boast some remarkable development in the mother. The rudest tar brushes off a tear with his coat-sleeve at the hallowed name. The other day I met a decrepit old man of seventy, on a journey, who challenged the stage-company to guess where he was Page | 1060

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    going. They guessed aright, “To see your mother.” “Yes,” said he, “she is ninety-two, but has good eye-sight still, they say. I’ve not seen her these forty years, and I thought I could not die in peace without.” I should have liked his picture painted as a companion piece to that of a boisterous little boy, whom I saw attempt to declaim at a school exhibition.

    O that those lips had language! Life has passed

    With me but roughly since I heard thee last. [William Cowper]

    He got but very little way before sudden tears shamed him from the stage.

    Some gleams of the same expression which shone down upon his infancy, angelically pure and benign, visit man again with hopes of pure love, of a holy marriage. Or, if not before, in the eyes of the mother of his child they again are seen, and dim fancies pass before his mind, that woman may not have been born for him alone, but have come from heaven, a commissioned soul, a messenger of truth and love.

    In gleams, in dim fancies, this thought visits the mind of common men. It is soon obscured by the mists of sensuality, the dust of routine, and he thinks it was only some meteor or ignis fatuus that shone. But, as a Rosicrucian lamp, it burns unwearied, though condemned to the solitude of tombs. And, to its permanent life, as to every truth, each age has, in some form, borne witness. For the truths, which visit the minds of careless men only in fitful gleams, shine with radiant clearness into those of the poet, the priest, and the artist.

    Whatever may have been the domestic manners of the ancient nations, the idea of woman was nobly manifested in their mythologies and poems, where she appeared as Sita in the Ramayana , a form of tender purity, in the Egyptian Isis , of divine wisdom never yet surpassed. In Egypt, too, the Sphynx , walking the earth with lion tread, looked out upon its marvels in the calm, inscrutable beauty of a virgin’s face, and the Greek could only add wings to the great emblem. In Greece, Ceres and Proserpine , significantly termed “the goddesses,” were seen seated, side by side.

    They needed not to rise for any worshipper or any change; they were prepared for all things, as those initiated to their mysteries knew. More obvious is the meaning of those three forms, the Diana , Minerva , and Vesta . Unlike in the expression of their beauty, but alike in this,—that each was self-sufficing. Other forms were only accessories and illustrations, none the complement to one like these. Another might indeed be the companion, and the Apollo and Diana set off one another’s beauty. Of the Vesta, it is to be observed, that not only deep-eyed deep-discerning Greece, but ruder Rome, who represents the only form of good man (the always busy warrior) that could be indifferent to woman, confided the permanence of its glory to a tutelary goddess, and her wisest legislator spoke of Meditation as a nymph.

    In Sparta, thought, in this respect as all others, was expressed in the characters of real life, and the women of Sparta were as much Spartans as the men. The Citoyen, Citoyenne, of France, was here actualized. Was not the calm equality they Page | 1061

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    enjoyed well worth the honors of chivalry? They intelligently shared the ideal life of their nation.

    Generally, we are told of these nations, that women occupied there a very subordinate position in actual life. It is difficult to believe this, when we see such range and dignity of thought on the subject in the mythologies, and find the poets producing such ideals as Cassandra , Iphigenia , Antigone , Macaria , (though it is not unlike our own day, that men should revere those heroines of their great princely houses at theatres from which their women were excluded,) where Sibylline priestesses told the oracle of the highest god, and he could not be content to reign with a court of less than nine Muses. Even Victory wore a female form.

    But whatever were the facts of daily life, I cannot complain of the age and nation, which represents its thought by such a symbol as I see before me at this moment. It is a zodiac of the busts of gods and goddesses, arranged in pairs. The circle breathes the music of a heavenly order. Male and female heads are distinct in expression, but equal in beauty, strength, and calmness. Each male head is that of a brother and a king, each female of a sister and a queen. Could the thought, thus expressed, be lived out, there would be nothing more to be desired. There would be unison in variety, congeniality in difference.

    Coming nearer our own time, we find religion and poetry no less true in their revelations. The rude man, but just disengaged from the sod, the Adam, accuses woman to his God, and records her disgrace to their posterity. He is not ashamed to write that he could be drawn from heaven by one beneath him. But in the same nation, educated by time, instructed by successive prophets, we find woman in as high a position as she has ever occupied. And no figure, that has ever arisen to greet our eyes, has been received with more fervent reverence than that of the Madonna.

    Heine calls her the Dame du Comptoir of the Catholic Church, and this jeer well expresses a serious truth.

    And not only this holy and significant image was worshipped by the pilgrim, and the favorite subject of the artist, but it exercised an immediate influence on the destiny of the sex. The empresses, who embraced the cross, converted sons and husbands. Whole calendars of female saints, heroic dames of chivalry, binding the emblem of faith on the heart of the best beloved, and wasting the bloom of youth in separation and loneliness, for the sake of duties they thought it religion to assume, with innumerable forms of poesy, trace their lineage to this one. Nor, however imperfect may be the action, in our day, of the faith thus expressed, and though we can scarcely think it nearer this ideal than that of India or Greece was near their ideal, is it in vain that the truth has been recognised, that woman is not only a part of man, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, born that men might not be lonely, but in themselves possessors of and possessed by immortal souls.

    This truth undoubtedly received a greater outward stability from the belief of the church, that the earthly parent of the Saviour of souls was a woman.

    The Assumption of the Virgin, as painted by sublime artists, Petrarch’s Hymn to the Madonna , cannot have spoken to the world wholly without result, yet oftentimes those who had ears heard not.

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    Thus, the Idea of woman has not failed to be often and forcibly represented. So many instances throng on the mind, that we must stop here, lest the catalogue be swelled beyond the reader’s patience.

    Neither can she complain that she has not had her share of power. This, in all ranks of society, except the lowest, has been hers to the extent that vanity could crave, far beyond what wisdom would accept. In the very lowest, where man, pressed by poverty, sees in woman only the partner of toils and cares, and cannot hope, scarcely has an idea of a comfortable home, he maltreats her, often, and is less influenced by her. In all ranks, those who are amiable and uncomplaining, suffer much. They suffer long, and are kind; verily they have their reward. But wherever man is sufficiently raised above extreme poverty, or brutal stupidity, to care for the comforts of the fireside, or the bloom and ornament of life, woman has always power enough, if she choose to exert it, and is usually disposed to do so in proportion to her ignorance and childish vanity. Unacquainted with the importance of life and its purposes, trained to a selfish coquetry and love of petty power, she does not look beyond the pleasure of making herself felt at the moment, and governments are shaken and commerce broken up to gratify the pique of a female favorite. The English shopkeeper’s wife does not vote, but it is for her interest that the politician canvasses by the coarsest flattery. France suffers no woman on her throne, but her proud nobles kiss the dust at the feet of Pompadour and Dubarry, for such are in the lighted foreground where a Roland would modestly aid in the closet. Spain shuts up her women in the care of duennas, and allows them no book but the Breviary; but the ruin follows only the more surely from the worthless favorite of a worthless queen.

    It is not the transient breath of poetic incense, that women want; each can receive that from a lover. It is not life-long sway; it needs but to become a coquette, a shrew, or a good cook to be sure of that. It is not money, nor notoriety, nor the badges of authority, that men have appropriated to themselves. If demands made in their behalf lay stress on any of these particulars, those who make them have not searched deeply into the need. It is for that which at once includes all these and precludes them; which would not be forbidden power, lest there be temptation to steal and misuse it; which would not have the mind perverted by flattery from a worthiness of esteem. It is for that which is the birthright of every being capable to receive it,—the freedom, the religious, the intelligent freedom of the universe, to use its means, to learn its secret as far as nature has enabled them, with God alone for their guide and their judge.

    Ye cannot believe it, men; but the only reason why women ever assume what is more appropriate to you, is because you prevent them from finding out what is fit for themselves. Were they free, were they wise fully to develop the strength and beauty of woman, they would never wish to be men, or manlike. The well-instructed moon flies not from her orbit to seize on the glories of her partner. No; for she knows that one law rules, one heaven contains, one universe replies to them alike. It is with women as with the slave.

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    Vor dem Sklaven, wenn er die Kette bricht,

    Vor dem freien Menschen erzittert nicht

    Tremble not before the free man, but before the slave who has chains to break.

    [Schiller, “Woods of Faith”]

    In slavery, acknowledged slavery, women are on a par with men. Each is a work-tool, an article of property-no more! In perfect freedom, such as is painted in Olympus, in Swedenborg’s angelic state, in rhe heaven where there is no marrying nor giving in marriage, each is a purified intelligence, an enfranchised soul,—no less!

    Jene himmlissche Gestalten

    Sie fragen nicht nach Mann und Weib,

    Und keine Kleider, keine Falten

    Umgeben den verklrten Leib. [Goethe]

    The child who sang this was a prophetic form, expressive of the longing for a state of perfect freedom, pure love. She could not remain here, but was transplanted to another air. And it may be that the air of this earth will never be so tempered, that such can bear ir long. But, while they stay, they must bear testimony to the truth they are constituted to demand.

    That an era approaches which shall approximate nearer to such a temper than any has yet done, there are many tokens, indeed so many that only a few of the most prominent can here be enumerated.

    The reigns of Elizabeth of England and Isabella of Castile foreboded this era.

    They expressed the beginning of the new state, while they forwarded its progress.

    These were strong characters, and in harmony with the wants of their time. One showed that this strength did not a woman for the duties of a wife and mother; the other, that it could enable her to live and die alone. Elizabeth is certainly no pleasing example. In rising above the weakness, she did not lay aside the weaknesses ascribed to her sex; but her strength must be respected now,as it was in her own time.

    We may accept it as an omen for ourselves, that it was Isabella who furnished Columbus with the means of coming hither. This land must back its debt to woman, without whose aid it would not have been brought into alliance with the civilized world.

    The influence of Elizabeth on literature was real, though, by sympathy with its finer productions, she was no more entitled to give name to an era than Queen Anne. It was simply that the fact of a female sovereign on the throne affected the course of a writer’s thoughts. In this sense, the presence of a woman on the throne always makes its mark. Life is lived before the eyes of all men, and their imaginations are stimulated as to the possibilities of woman. “We will die for our Page | 1064

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    King, Maria Theresa,” cry the wild warriors, clashing their swords, and the sounds vibrate through the poems of that generation. The range of female character in Spenser alone might content us for one period. Britomart and Belphoebe have as much room in the canvass as Florimel; and where this is the case, the haughtiest Amazon will not murmur that Una should be felt to be the highest type.

    Unlike as was the English Queen to a fairy queen, we may yet conceive that it was the image of a queen before the poet’s mind, that called up this splendid court of women.

    Shakespeare’s range is also great, but he has left out the heroic characters, such as the Macaria of Greece , the Britomart of Spenser . Ford and Massinger have, in this respect, shown a higher flight of feeling than he. It was the holy and heroic woman they most loved, and if they could not paint an Imogen , a Desdemona , a Rosalind , yet in those of a stronger mould, they showed a higher ideal, though with so much less poetic power to represent it, than we see in Portia or Isabella . The simple truth of Cordelia , indeed, is of this sort. The beauty of Cordelia is neither male nor female; it is the beauty of virtue.

    The ideal of love and marriage rose high in the mind of all the Christian nations who were capable of grave and deep feeling. We may take as examples of its English aspect, the lines,

    I could not love thee, dear, so much,

    Loved I not honor more. [Richard Lovelace ]

    The address of the Commonwealth’s man to his wife as she looked out from the Tower window to see him for the last time on his way to execution. “He stood up in the cart, waved his hat, and cried, ‘To Heaven, my love, to Heaven! and leave you in the storm!”

    Such was the love of faith and honor, a love which stopped, like Colonel Hutchinson’s , “on this side idolatry,” because it was religious. The meeting of two such souls Donne describes as giving birth to an “abler soul.”

    Lord Herbert wrote to his love,

    Were not our souls immortal made,

    Our equal loves can make them such.

    In Spain the same thought is arrayed in a sublimity, which belongs to the sombre and passionate genius of the nation. Calderon’s Justina resists all the temptation of the Demon, and raises her lover with her above the sweet lures of mere temporal happiness. Their marriage is vowed at the stake, their souls are liberated together by the martyr flame into “a purer state of sensation and existence.

    In Italy, the great poets wove into their lives an ideal love which answered to the highest wants. It included those of the intellect and the affections, for it was a love of spirit for spirit. It was not ascetic and superhuman, but interpreting all Page | 1065

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    things, gave their proper beauty to details of the common life, the common day; the poet spoke of his love not as a flower to place in his bosom, or hold carelessly in his hand, but as a light towards which he must find wings to fly, or “a stair to heaven.”

    He delighted to speak of her not only as the bride of his heart, but the mother of his soul, for he saw that, in cases where the right direction has been taken, the greater delicacy of her frame, and stillness of her life, left her more open to spiritual influx than man is. So he did not look upon her as betwixt him and earth, to serve his temporal needs, but rather betwixt him and heaven, to purify his affections and lead him to wisdom through her pure love. He sought in her not so much the Eve as the Madonna.

    In these minds the thought, which glitters in all the legends of chivalry shines in broad intellectual effulgence, not to be misinterpreted. And their thought is reverenced by the world, though it lies so far from them as yet, so far, that it seems as though a gulf of Death lay between.

    Even with such men the practice was often widely different from the mental faith. I say mental, for if the heart were thoroughly alive with it, the practice could not be dissonant. Lord Herbert’s was a marriage of convention, made for him at fifteen; he was not discontented with it, but looked only to the advantages it brought of perpetuating his family on the basis of a great fortune. He paid, in act, what he considered a dutiful attention to the bond; his thoughts travelled elsewhere, and, while forming a high ideal of the companionship of minds in marriage, he seems never to have doubted that its realization must be postponed to some other stage of being. Dante, almost immediately after the death of Beatrice, married a lady chosen for him by his friends.

    Centuries have passed since, but civilized Europe is still in a transition state about marriage, not only in practice, but in thought. A great majority of societies and individuals are still doubtful whether earthly marriage is to be a union of souls, or merely a contract of convenience and utility. Were woman established in the rights of an immortal being, this could not be. She would not in some countries be given away by her father, with scarcely more respect for her own feelings than is shown by the Indian chief, who sells his daughter for a horse, and beats her if she runs away from her new home. Nor, in societies where her choice is left free, would she be perverted, by the current of opinion that seizes her, into the belief that she must marry, if it be only to find a protector, and a home of her own.

    Neither would man, if he thought that the connection was of permanent importance, enter upon it so lightly. He would not deem it a trifle, that he was to enter into the closest relations with another soul, which, if not eternal in themselves, must eternally affect his growth.

    Neither, did he believe woman capable of friendship, would he, by rash haste, lose the chance of finding a friend in the person who might, probably, live half a century by his side. Did love to his mind partake of infinity, he would not miss his chance of its revelations, that he might the sooner rest from his weariness by a bright fireside, and have a sweet and graceful attendant, “devoted to him alone.”

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    Were he a step higher, he would not carelessly enter into a relation, where he might not be able to do the duty of a friend, as well as a protector from external ill, to the other party, and have a being in his power pining for sympathy, intelligence, and aid, that he could not give.

    Where the thought of equality has become pervasive, it shows itself in four kinds.

    The household partnership. In our country the woman looks for a “smart but kind” husband, the man for a “capable, sweet-tempered” wife.

    The man furnishes the house, the woman regulates it. Their relation is one of mutual esteem, mutual dependence. Their talk is of business, their affection shows itself by practical kindness. They know that life goes more smoothly and cheerfully to each for the other’s aid; they are grateful and content. The wife praises her husband as a “good provider,” the husband.in return compliments her as a “capital housekeeper.” This relation is good as far as it goes.

    Next comes a closer tie which takes the two forms, either of intellectual companionship, or mutual idolatry. The last, we suppose, is to no one a pleasing subject of contemplation. The parties weaken and narrow one another; they lock the gate against all the glories of the universe that they may live in a cell together.

    To themselves they seem the only wise, to all others steeped in infatuation, the gods smile as they look forward to the crisis of cure, to men the woman seems an unlovely syren, to women the man an effeminate boy.

    The other form, of intellectual companionship, has become more and more frequent. Men engaged in public life, literary men, and artists have often found in their wives companions and confidants in thought no less than in feeling. And, as in the course of things the intellectual development of woman has spread wider and risen higher, they have, not unfrequently, shared the same employment. As in the case of Roland and his wife, who were friends in the household and the nation’s councils, read together, regulated home affairs, or prepared public documents together indifferently”

    It is very pleasant, in letters begun by Roland and finished by his wife, to see the harmony of mind and the difference of nature, one thought, but various ways of treating it.

    This is one of the best instances of a marriage of friendship. It was only friendship, whose basis was esteem; probably neither party knew love, except by name.

    Roland was a good man, worthy to esteem and be esteemed, his wife as deserving of admiration as able to do without it. Madame Roland is the fairest specimen we have yet of her class, as clear to discern her aim, as valiant to pursue it, as Spenser’s Britomart, austerely set apart from all that did not belong to her, whether as woman or as mind. She is an antetype of a class to which the coming time will afford a field, the Spartan matron, brought by the culture of a book-furnishing age to intellectual consciousness and expansion.

    Self-sufficing strength and clear-sightedness were in her combined with a power of deep and calm affection. The page of her life is one of unsullied dignity.

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    Her appeal to posterity is one against the injustice of those who committed such crimes in the name of liberty. She makes it in behalf of herself and her husband. I would put beside it on the shelf a little volume, containing a similar appeal from the verdict of contemporaries to that of mankind, that of Godwin in behalf of his wife, the celebrated, the by most men detested Mary Wolstonecraft. In his view it was an appeal from the injustice of those who did such wrong in the name of virtue.

    Were this little book interesting for no other cause, it would be so for the generous affection evinced under the peculiar circumstances. This man had courage to love and honor this woman in the face of the world’s verdict, and of all that was repulsive in her own past history. He believed he saw of what soul she was, and that the thoughts she had struggled to act out were noble. He loved her and he defended her for the meaning and intensity of her inner life. It was a good fact.

    Mary Wolstonecraft , like Madame Dudevant (commonly known as George Sand ) in our day, was a woman whose existence better proved the need of some new interpretation of woman’s rights, than anything she wrote. Such women as these, rich in genius, of most tender sympathies, and capable of high virtue and a chastened harmony, ought not to find themselves by birth in a place so narrow, that in breaking bonds they become outlaws. Were there as much room in the world for such, as in Spenser’s poem for Britomart, they would not run their heads so wildly against its laws. They find their way at last to purer air, but the world will not take off the brand it has set upon them. The champion of the rights of woman found in Godwin, one who pleads her own cause like a brother. George Sand smokes, wears male attire, wishes to be addressed as Mon frère; perhaps, if she found those who were as brothers indeed, she would not care whether she were brother or sister.

    We rejoice to see that she, who expresses such a painful contempt for men in most of her works, as shows she must have known great wrong from them, in La Roche Mauprat depicting one raised, by the workings of love, from the depths of savage sensualism to a moral and intellectual life. It was love for a pure object, for a steadfast woman, one of those who, the Italian said, could make the stair to heaven.

    Women like Sand will speak now, and cannot be silenced; their characters and their eloquence alike foretell an era when such as they shall easier learn to lead true lives. But though such forebode, not such shall be the parents of it.

    Those who would reform the world must show that they do not speak in the heat of wild impulse; their lives must be unstained by passionate error; they must be severe lawgivers to themselves. As to their transgressions and opinions, it may be observed, that the resolve of Eloisa to be only the mistress of Abelard, was that of one who saw the contract of marriage a seal of degradation. Wherever abuses of this sort are seen, the timid will suffer, the bold protest. But society is in the right to outlaw them till she has revised her law, and she must be taught to do so, by one who speaks with authority, not in anger and haste.

    If Godwin’s choice of the calumniated authoress of the “Rights of Woman,” for his honored wife, be a sign of a new era, no less so is an article of great learning and eloquence, published several years since in an English review, where the writer, in Page | 1068

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    doing full justice to Eloisa, shows his bitter regret that she lives not how to love him, who might have known better how to prize her love than did the egotistical Abelard.

    These marriages, these characters, with all their imperfections, express an onward tendency. They speak of aspiration of soul, of energy of mind, seeking clearness and freedom. Of a like promise are the tracts now publishing by Goodwyn Barmby (the European Pariah as he calls himself) and his wife Catharine

    . Whatever we may think of their measures, we see them in wedlock, the two minds are wed by the only contract that can permanently avail, of a common faith, and a common purpose.

    We might mention instances, nearer home, of minds, partners in work and in life, sharing together, on equal terms, public and private interests, and which have not on any side that aspect of offence which characterizes the attitude of the last named; persons who steer straight onward, and in our freer life have not been obliged to run their heads against any wall. But the principles which guide them might, under petrified or oppressive institutions, have made them warlike, paradoxical, or, in some sense, Pariahs. The phenomenon is different, the law the same, in all these cases.

    Men and women have been obliged to build their house from the very foundation. If they found stone ready in the quarry, they took it peaceably, otherwise they alarmed the country by pulling down old towers to get materials.

    These are all instances of marriage as intellectual companionship. The parties meet mind to mind, and a mutual trust is excited which can buckler them against a million. They work together for a common purpose, and, in all these instances, with the same implement, the pen.

    A pleasing expression in this kind is afforded by the union in the names of the Howitts. William and Mary Howitt we heard named together for years, supposing them to be brother and sister; the equality of labors and reputation, even so, was auspicious, more so, now we find them man and wife. In his late work on Germany, Howitt mentions his wife with pride, as one among the constellation of distinguished English women, and in a graceful, simple manner.

    In naming these instances we do not mean to imply that community of employment is an essential to union of this sort, more than to the union of friendship. Harmony exists no less in difference than in likeness, if only the same key-note govern both parts. Woman the poem, man the poet; woman the heart, man the head; such divisions are only important when they are never to be transcended.

    If nature is never bound down, nor the voice of inspiration stifled, that is enough.

    We are pleased that women should write and speak, if they feel the need of it, from having something to tell; but silence for a hundred years would be as well, if that silence be from divine command, and not from man’s tradition.

    While Goetz von Berlichingen rides to battle, his wife is busy in the kitchen; but difference of occupation does not prevent that community of life, that perfect esteem, with which he says,

    Whom God loves, to him gives he such a wife!

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    Manzoni thus dedicates his Adelchi.

    To his beloved and venerated wife, Enrichetta Luigia Blondel, who, with conjugal affections and maternal wisdom, has preserved a virgin mind, the author dedicates this Adelchi grieving that he could not, by a more splendid and more durable monument, honor the dear name and the memory of so many virtues.

    The relation could not be fairer, nor more equal, if she too had written poems.

    Yet the position of the parties might have been the reverse as well; the woman might have sung the deeds, given voice to the life of the man, and beauty would have been the result, as we see in pictures of Arcadia the nymph singing to the shepherds, or the shepherd with his pipe allures the nymphs, either makes a good picture. The sounding lyre requires not muscular strength, but energy of soul to animate the hand which can control it. Nature seems to delight in varying her arrangements, as if to show that she will be fettered by no rule, and we must admit the same varieties that she admits.

    I have not spoken of the higher grade of marriage union, the religious, which may be expressed as pilgrimage towards a common shrine. This includes the others; home sympathies, and household wisdom, for these pilgrims must know how to assist one another to carry their burdens along the dusty way; intellectual communion, for how sad it would be on such a journey to have a companion to whom you could not communicate thoughts and aspirations, as they sprang to life, who would have no feeling for the more and more glorious prospects that open as we advance, who would never see the flowers that may be:gathered by the most industrious traveler. It must include all these. Such a fellow pilgrim Count Zinzendorf seems to have found in his countess of whom he thus writes.

    Twenty-five years’ experience has shown me that just the help-mate whom I have is the only one that could suit my vocation. Who else could have so carried through my family affairs? Who lived so spotlessly before the world? Who so wisely aided me in my rejection of a dry moralit?! Who so clearly set aside the Pharisaism which, as years passed, threatened to creep in among us? Who so deeply discerned as to the spirits of delusion which sought to bewilder us?

    Who would have governed my whole economy so wisely, richly, and hospitably when circumstances commanded? Who have taken indifferently the part of servant or mistress, without on the one side affecting an especial spirituality, on the other being sullied by any worldly pride? Who, in a community where all ranks are eager to be on a level, would, from wise and real causes, have known how to maintain inward and outward distinctions? Who, without a murmur, have seen her husband encounter such dangers by land and sea? Who undertaken with him and sustained such astonishing pilgrimages! Who amid such difficulties always held up her head, and supported me? Who found so Page | 1070

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    many hundred thousands and acquitted them on her own credit? And, finally, who, of all human beings, would so well understand and interpret to others my inner and outer being as this one, of such nobleness in her way of thinking, such great intellectual capacity, and free from the theological perplexities that enveloped me?

    An observer adds this testimony.

    We may in many marriages regard it as the best arrangement, if the man has so much advantage over his wife that she can, without much thought of her own, be, by him, led and directed, as by a father. But it was not so with the Count and his consort. She was not made to be a copy; she was an original; and, while she loved and honored him, she thought for herself on all subjects with so much intelligence, that he could and did look on her as a sister and friend also.

    Such a woman is the sister and friend of all beings, as the worthy man is their brother and helper.

    Another sign of the time is furnished by the triumphs of female authorship.

    These have been great and constantly increasing. They have taken possession of so many provinces for which men had pronounced them unfit, that though these still declare there are some inaccessible to them, it is difficult to say just where they must stop.

    The shining names of famous women have cast light upon the path of the sex, and many obstructions have been removed. When a Montague could learn better than her brother, and use her lore to such purpose afterwards as an observer, it seemed amiss to hinder women from preparing themselves to see, or from seeing all they could when prepared. Since Somerville has achieved so much, will any young girl be prevented from attaining a knowledge of the physical sciences, if she wishes it? De Stael ’s name was not so clear of offence; she could not forget the woman in the thought; while she was instructing you as a mind, she wished to be admired as a woman. Sentimental tears often dimmed the eagle glance. Her intellect, too, with all its splendor, trained in a drawing room, fed on flattery, was tainted and flawed; yet its beams make the obscurest school house in New England warmer and lighter to the little rugged girls, who are gathered together on its wooden bench. They may never through life hear her name, but she is not the less their benefactress.

    This influence has been such that the aim certainly is, how, in arranging school instruction for girls, to give them as fair a field as boys. These arrangements are made as yet with little judgment or intelligence, just as the tutors of Jane Grey, and the other famous women of her time, taught them Latin and Greek, because they knew nothing else themselves, so now the improvement in the education of girls is made by giving them gentlemen as teachers, who only teach what has been caught themselves at college, while methods and topics need revision for those new cases, which could better be made by those who had experienced the same Page | 1071

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    wants. Women are often at the head of these institutions, but they have as yet seldom been thinking women, capable to organize a new whole for the wants of the time, and choose persons to officiate in the departments. And when some portion of education is got of a good sort from the school, the tone of society, the much larger proportion received from the world, contradicts its purport. Yet books have not been furnished, and a little elementary instruction been given in vain. Women are better aware how large and rich the universe is, not so easily blinded by the narrowness and partial views of a home circle.

    Whether much or little has or will be done, whether women will add to the talent of narration, the power of systematizing, whether they will carve marble as well as draw, is not important. But that it should be acknowledged that they have intellect which needs developing, that they should not be considered complete, if beings of affection and habit alone, is important.

    Yet even this acknowledgment, rather obtained by woman than proffered by man, has been sullied by the usual selfishness. So much is said of women being better educated that they may be better companions and mothers of men! They should be fit for such companionship, and we have mentioned with satisfaction instances where it has been established. Earth knows no fairer, holier relation than that of a mother. But a being of infinite scope must not be treated with an exclusive view to any one relation. Give the soul free course, let the otganization be freely developed, and the being will be fit for any and every relation to which it may be called. The intellect, no more than the sense of hearing, is to be cultivated, that she may be a more valuable companion to man, but because the Power who gave a power by its mere existence signifies that it must be brought out towards perfection.

    In this regard, of self-dependence and a greater simplicity and fulness of being, we must hail as a preliminary the increase of the class contemptuously designated as old maids.

    We cannot wonder at the aversion with which old bachelors and old maids have been regarded. Marriage is the natural means of forming a sphere, of taking root on the earth: it requires more strength to do this without such an opening, very many have failed of this, and their imperfections have been in every one’s way. They have been more partial, more harsh, more officious and impertinent than others. Those, who have a complete experience of the human instincts, have a distrust as to whether they can be thoroughly human and humane, such as is hinted at in the saying, “Old maids’ and bachelors’ children are well cared for,”

    which derides at once their ignorance and their presumption.

    Yet the business of society has become so complex, that it could now scarcely be carried on without the presence of these despised auxiliaries, and detachments from the army of aunts and uncles are wanted to stop gaps in every hedge. They rove about, mental and moral Ishmaelites, pitching their tents amid the fixed and ornamented habitations of men.

    They thus gain a wider, if not so deep, experience. They are not so intimate with others, but thrown more upon themselves, and if they do not there find Page | 1072

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    peace and incessant life, there is none to flatter them that they are not very poor and very mean.

    A position, which so constantly admonishes, may be of inestimable benefit.

    The person may gain, undistracted by other relationships, a closer communion with the One. Such a use is made of it by saints and sibyls. Or she may be one of the lay sisters of charity, or more humbly only the useful drudge of all men, or the intellectual interpreter of the varied life she sees.

    Or she may combine all these. Not “needing to care that she may please a husband,” a frail and limited being, all her thoughts may turn to the centre, and by steadfast contemplation enter into the secret of truth and love, use it for the use of all men, instead of a chosen few, and interpret through it all the forms of life.

    Saints and geniuses have often chosen a lonely position, in the faith that, if undisturbed by the pressure of near ties they could give themselves up to the inspiring spirit, it would enable them to understand and reproduce life better than actual experience could.

    How many old maids take this high stand, we cannot say; it is an unhappy fact that too many of those who come before the eye are gossips rather, and not always good-natured gossips. But, if these abuse, and none make the best of their vocation, yet, it has nor failed to produce some good fruit. It has been seen by others, if not by themselves, that beings likely to be left alone need to be fortified and furnished within themselves, and education and thought have tended more and more to regard beings as related to absolute Being, as well as to other men. It has been seen that as the loss of no bond ought to destroy a human being, so ought the missing of none to hinder him from growing. And thus a circumstance of the time has helped to put woman on the true platform. Perhaps the next generation will look deeper into this matter, and find that contempt is put on old maids, or old women at all, merely because they do not use the elixir which will keep the soul always young. No one thinks of Michael Angelo’s Persican Sibyl , or St. Theresa , or Tasso’s Leonora , or the Greek Electra as an old maid, though all had reached the period in life’s course appointed to take that degree.

    Even among the North American Indians, a race of men as completely engaged in mere instinctive life as almost any in the world, and where each chief, keeping many wives as useful servants, of course looks with no kind eye on celibacy in woman, it was excused in the following instance mentioned by Mrs. Jameson. A woman dreamt in youth that she was betrothed to the sun. She built her a wigwam apart, filled it with emblems of her alliance and means of an independent life. There she passed her days, sustained by her own exertions, and true to her supposed engagement.

    In any tribe, we believe, a woman, who lived as if she was betrothed to the sun, would be tolerated, and the rays which made her youth blossom sweetly would crown her with a halo in age.

    There is on this subject a nobler view than heretofore, if not the noblest, and we greet improvement here, as much as on the subject of marriage. Both are fertile themes, but time permits not here to explore them.

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    If larger intellectual resources begin to be deemed necessary to woman, still more is a spiritual dignity in her, or even the mere assumption of it listened to with respect. Joanna Southcote , and Mother Ann Lee are sure of a band of disciples; Ecstatica, Dolorosa, of enraptured believers who will visit them in their lowly huts, and wait for hours to revere them in their trances. The foreign noble traverses land and sea to hear a few words from the lips of the lowly peasant girl, whom he believes specially visited by the Most High. Very beautiful in this way was the influence of the invalid of St. Petersburg, as described by De Maistre .

    To this region, however misunderstood, and ill-developed, belong the phenomena of Magnetism, or Mesmerism, as it is now often called, where the trance of the Ecstatica purports to be produced by the agency of one human being on another, instead of, as in her case, direct from the spirit.

    The worldling has his sneer here as about the services of religion. “The churches can always be filed with women.” “Show me a man in one of your magnetic states, and I will believe.”

    Women are indeed the easy victims of priestcraft, or self-delusion, but this might not be, if the intellect was developed in proportion to the other powers. They would then have a regulator and be in better equipoise, yet must retain the same nervous susceptibility, while their physical structure is such as it is.

    It is with just that hope, that we welcome everything that tends to strengthen the fibre and develop the nature on more sides. When the intellect and affections are in harmony, when intellectual consciousness is calm and deep, inspiration will not be confounded with fancy.

    The electrical, the magnetic element in woman has not been fairly developed at any period. Everything might be expected from it; she has far more of it than man. This is commonly expressed by saying that her intuitions are more rapid and more correct.

    But I cannot enlarge upon this here, except to say that on this side is highest promise. Should I speak of it fully, my title should Cassandra, my topic the Seeress of Prevorst , the first, or the best served subject of magnetism in our times, and who, like her ancestresses at Delphos , was roused to ecstacy or phrenzy by the touch of the laurel.

    In such cases worldlings sneer, but reverent men learn wondrous news, either from the person observed, or by the thoughts caused in themselves by the observation. Fenelon learns from Guyon , Kerner from his Seeress what we fain would know. But to appreciate such disclosures one must be a child, and here the phrase, “women children,” may perhaps be interpreted aright, that only little child shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    All these motions of the time, tides that betoken a waxing moon, overflow upon our own land. The world at large is readier to let woman learn and manifest the capacities of her nature than it ever was before, and here is a less encumbered field, and freer air than anywhere else. And it ought to be so; we ought to pay for Isabella’s jewels.

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    The names of nations are feminine. Religion, Virtue, and Victory are feminine. To those who have a superstition as to outward signs it is not without significance that the name of the Queen of our mother-land should at this crisis be Victoria. Victoria the First. Perhaps to us it may be given to disclose the era there outwardly presaged.

    Women here are much better situated than men. Good books are allowed with more time to read them. They are not so early forced into the bustle of life, nor so weighed down by demands for outward success. The perpetual changes, incident to our society, make the blood circulate freely through the body politic, and, if not favorable at present to the grace and bloom of life, they are so to activity, resource, and would be to reflection but for a low materialist tendency, from which the women are generally exempt.

    They have time to think, and no traditions chain them, and few conventionalities compared with what must be met in other nations. There is no reason why the fact of a constant revelation should be hid from them, and when the mind once is awakened by that, it will not be restrained by the past, but fly to seek the seeds of a heavenly future.

    Their employments are more favorable to the inward life than those of the men.

    Woman is not addressed religiously here, more than elsewhere. She is told to be worthy to be the mother of a Washington, or the companion of some good man.

    But in many, many instances, she has already learnt that all bribes have the same flaw; that truth and good are to be sought for themselves alone. And already an ideal sweetness floats over many forms, shines in many eyes.

    Already deep questions are put by young girls on the great theme, What shall I do to inherit eternal life?

    Men are very courteous to them. They praise them often, check them seldom.

    There is some chivalry in the feelings towards “the ladies,” which gives them the best seats in the stage-coach, frequent admission not only to lectures of all sorts, but to courts of justice, halls of legislature, reform conventions. The newspaper editor “would be better pleased that the Lady’s Book were filled up exclusively by ladies. It would, then, indeed, be a true gem, worthy to be presented by young men to the mistresses of their affections.” Can gallantry go farther?

    In this country is venerated, wherever seen, the character which Goethe spoke of as an Ideal. “The excellent woman is she, who, if the husband dies, can be a father to the children.” And this, if rightly read, tells a great deal.

    Women who speak in public, if they have a moral power, such as has been felt from Angelina Grimke and Abby Kelly , that is, if they speak for conscience’ sake, to serve a cause which they hold sacred, invariably subdue the prejudices of their hearers, and excite an interest proportionate to the aversion with which it had been the purpose to regard them.

    A passage in a private letter so happily illustrates this, that I take the liberty to make use of it, though there is not opportunity to ask leave either of the writer or owner of the letter. I think they will pardon me when they see it in print; it is so good, that as many as possible should have the benefit of it.

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    Abby Kelly in the Town-House of —-

    The scene was not unheroic,—to see that woman, true to humanity and her own nature, a centre of rude eyes and tongues, even gentlemen feeling licensed to make part of a species of mob around a female out of her sphere. As she took her seat in the desk amid the great noise, and in the throng full, like a wave, of something to ensue, I saw her humanity in a gentleness and unpretension, tenderly open to the sphere around her, and, had she not been supported by the power of the will of genuineness and principle, she would have failed. It led her to prayer, which, in woman especially, is childlike; sensibility and will going to the side of God and looking up to him; and humanity was poured out in aspiration.

    She acted like a gentle hero, with her mild decision and womanly calmness.

    All heroism is mild and quiet and gentle, for it is life and possession, and combativeness and firmness show a want of actualness. She is as earnest, fresh, and simple as when she first entered the crusade. I think she did much good, more than the men in her place could do, for woman feels more as being and reproducing; this brings the subject more into home relations. Men speak through and mostly from intellect, and this addresses itself in others, which creates and is combative.

    Not easily shall we find elsewhere, or before this time, any written observations on the same subject, so delicate and profound.

    The late Dr. Channing, whose enlarged and tender and religious nature shared every onward impulse of his time, though his thoughts followed his wishes with a deliberative caution, which belonged to his habits and temperament, was greatly interested in these expectations for women. His own treatment of them was absolutely and thoroughly religious. He regarded them as souls, each of which had a destiny of its own, incalculable to other minds, and whose leading it must follow, guided by the light of a private conscience. He had sentiment, delicacy, kindness, taste, but they were all pervaded and ruled by this one thought, that all beings had souls, and must vindicate their own inheritance. Thus all beings were treated by him with an equal, and sweet, though solemn courtesy. The young and unknown, the woman and the child, all felt themselves regarded with an infinite expectation, from which there was no reaction to vulgar prejudice. He demanded of all he met, to use his favorite phrase, “great truths.”

    His memory, every way dear and reverend, is by many especially cherished for this intercourse of unbroken respect.

    At one time when the progress of Harriet Martineau through this country, Angelina Grimke’s appearance in public, and the visit of Mrs. Jameson had turned his thoughts to this subject, he expressed high hopes as to what the coming era would bring to woman. He had been much pleased with the dignified courage of Mrs.

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    shrink, because, if they express themselves on such subjects with sufficient force and clearness to do any good, they are exposed to assaults whose vulgarity makes them painful. In intercourse with such a woman, he had shared her indignation at the base injustice, in many respects, and in many regions done to the sex; and been led to think of it far more than ever before. He seemed to think that he might some time write upon the subject. That his aid is withdrawn from the cause is a subject of great regret, for on this question, as on others, he would have known how to sum up the evidence and take, in the noblest spirit, middle ground. He always furnished a platform on which opposing parties could stand, and look at one another under the influence of his mildness and enlightened candor.

    Two younger thinkers, men both, have uttered noble prophecies, auspicious for woman. Kinmont, all whose thoughts tended towards the establishment of the reign of love and peace, thought that the inevitable means of this would be an increased predominance given to the idea of woman. Had he lived longer to see the growth of the peace party, the reforms in life and medical practice which seek to substitute water for wine and drugs, pulse for animal food, he would have been confirmed in his view of the way in which the desired changes are to be effected.

    In this connection I must mention Shelley , who, like all men of genius, shared the feminine development, and unlike many, knew it. His life was one of the first pulse-beats in the present reform-growth. He, too, abhorred blood and heat, and, by his system and his song, tended to reinstate a plant-like gentleness in the development of energy. In harmony with this his ideas of marriage were lofty, and of course no less so of woman, her nature, and destiny.

    For woman, if by a sympathy as to outward condition, she is led to aid the enfranchisement of the slave, must no less so, by inward tendency, to favor measures which promise to bring the world more thoroughly and deeply into harmony with her nature. When the lamb takes place of the lion as the emblem of nations, both women and men will be as children of one spirit, perpetual learners of the word and doers thereof, not hearers only.

    A writer in a late number of the New York Pathfinder, in two articles headed

    “Femality,” has uttered a still more pregnant word than any we have named. He views woman truly from the soul, and not from society, and the depth and leading of his thoughts is proportionably remarkable. He views the feminine nature as a harmonizer of the vehement elements, and this has often been hinted elsewhere; but what he expresses most forcibly is the lyrical, the inspiring and inspired apprehensiveness of her being.

    Had I room to dwell upon this topic, I could not say anything so precise, so near the heart of the matter, as may be found in that article; but, as it is, I can only indicate, not declare, my view.

    There are two aspects of woman’s nature, expressed by the ancients as Muse and Minerva. It is the former to which the writer in the Pathfinder looks. It is the latter which Wordsworth has in mind, when he says,

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    With a placid brow,

    Which woman ne’er should forfeit, keep thy vow.

    The especial genius of woman I believe to be electrical in movement, intuitive in function, spiritual in tendency. She is great not so easily in classification, or recreation, as in an instinctive seizure of causes, and a simple breathing out of what she receives that has the singleness of life, rather than the selecting or energizing of art.

    More native to her is it to be the living model of the artist, than to set apart from herself any one form in objective reality; more native to inspire and receive the poem than to create it. In so far as soul is in her completely developed, all soul is the same; but as far as it is modified in her as woman, it flows, it breathes, it sings, rather than deposits soil, or finishes work, and that which is especially feminine flushes in blossom the face of earth, and pervades like air and water all this seeming solid globe, daily renewing and purifying its life. Such may be the especially feminine element, spoken of as Femality. But it is no more the order of nature that it should be incarnated pure in any form, than that the masculine energy should exist unmingled with it in any form.

    Male and female represent the two sides of the great radical dualism. But, in fact, they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman.

    History jeers at the attempts of physiologists to bind great original laws by the forms which flow from them. They make a rule; they say from observation what can and cannot be. In vain! Nature provides exceptions to every rule. She sends women to battle, and sets Hercules spinning; she enables women to bear immense burdens, cold, and frost; she enables the man, who feels maternal love, to nourish his infant like a mother. Of late she plays still gayer pranks. Not only she deprives organizations, but organs, of a necessary end. She enables people to read with the top of the head, and see with the pit of the stomach. Presently she will make a female Newton, and a male Syren.

    Man partakes of the feminine in the Apollo, woman of the Masculine as Minerva.

    Let us be wise and not impede the soul. Let her work as she will. Let us have one creative energy, one incessant revelation. Let it take what form it will, and let us not bind it by the past to man or woman, black or white. Jove sprang from Rhea, Pallas from Jove. So let it be.

    If it has been the tendency of the past remarks to call woman rather to the Minerva side,—if I, unlike the more generous writer, have spoken from society no less than the soul,—let it be pardoned. It is love that has caused this, love for many incarcerated souls, that might be freed could the idea of religious self-dependence be established in them, could the weakening habit of dependence on others be broken up.

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    Every relation, every gradation of nature, is incalculably precious, but only to the soul which is poised upon itself, and to whom no loss, no change, can bring dull discord, for it is in harmony with the central soul.

    If any individual live too much in relations, so that he becomes a stranger to the resources of his own nature, he falls after a while into a distraction, or imbecility, from which he can only be cured by a time of isolation, which gives the renovating fountains time to rise up. With a society it is the same. Many minds, deprived of the traditionary or instinctive means of passing a cheerful existence, must find help in self-impulse or perish. It is therefore that while any elevation, in the view of union, is to be hailed with joy, we shall not decline celibacy as the great fact of the time. It is one from which no vow, no arrangement, can at present save a thinking mind. For now the rowers are pausing on their oars, they wait a change before they can pull together. All tends to illustrate the thought of a wise contemporary. Union is only possible to those who are units. To be fit for relations in time, souls, whether of man or woman, must be able to do without them in the spirit.

    It is therefore that I would have woman lay aside all thought, such as she habitually cherishes, of being taught and led by men. I would have her, like the Indian girl, dedicate herself to the Sun, the Sun of Truth, and go no where if his beams did not make clear the path. I would have her free from compromise, from complaisance, from helplessness, because I would have her good enough and strong enough to love one and all beings, from the fulness, not the poverty of being.

    Men, as at present instructed, will not help this work, because they also are under the slavery of habit. I have seen with delight their poetic impulses. A sister is the fairest ideal, and how nobly Wordsworth , and even Byron , have written of a sister.

    There is no sweeter sight than to see a father with his little daughter. Very vulgar men become refined to the eye when leading a little girl by the hand. At that moment the right relation between the sexes seems established, and you feel as if the man would aid in the noblest purpose, if you ask him in behalf of his little daughter. Once two fine figures stood before me, thus. The father of very intellectual aspect, his falcon eye softened by affection as he looked down on his fair child, she the image of himself, only more graceful and brilliant in expression.

    I was reminded of Southey’s Kehama , when lo, the dream was rudely broken. They were talking of education, and he said.

    “I shall not have Maria brought too forward. If she knows too much, she will never find a husband; superior women hardly ever can.”

    “Surely,” said his wife, with a blush, “you wish Maria to be as good and wise as she can, whether it will help her to marriage or not.”

    “No,” he persisted, “I want her to have a sphere and a home, and some one to protect her when I am gone.”

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    would have looked at it on the other side, he was the last that would have been willing to have been taken himself for the home and protection he could give, but would have been much more likely to repeat the tale of Alcibiades with his phials.

    But men do not look at both sides, and women must leave off asking them and being influenced by them, but retire within themselves, and explore the groundwork of being till they find their peculiar secret. Then when they come forth again, renovated and baptized, they will know how to turn all dross to gold, and will be rich and free though they live in a hut, tranquil, if in a crowd. Then their sweet singing shall not be from passionate impulse, but the lyrical overflow of a divine rapture, and a new music shall be elucidated from this many-chorded world.

    Grant her then for a while the armor and the javelin. Let her put from her the press of other minds and meditate in virgin loneliness. The same idea shall reappear in due time as Muse, or Ceres, the all-kindly, patient Earth-Spirit.

    I tire every one with my Goethean illustrations. But it cannot be helped.

    Goethe, the great mind which gave itself absolutely to the leadings of truth, and let rise through him the waves which are still advancing through the century, was its intellectual prophet. Those who know him, see, daily, his thought fulfilled more and more, and they must speak of it, till his name weary and even nauseate, as all great names have in their time. And I cannot spare the reader, if such there be, his wonderful sight as to the prospects and wants of women.

    As his Wilhelm grows in life and advances in wisdom, he becomes acquainted with women of more and more character, rising from Mariana to Macaria.

    Macaria, bound with the heavenly bodies in fixed revolutions, the centre of all relations, herself unrelated, expresses the Minerva side. Mignon, the electrical, inspired lyrical nature.

    All these women, though we see them in relations, we can think of as unrelated.

    They all are very individual, yet seem nowhere restrained. They satisfy for the present, yet arouse an infinite expectation.

    The economist Theresa, the benevolent Natalia , the fair Saint, have chosen a path, but their thoughts are not narrowed to it. The functions of life to them are not ends, but suggestions.

    Thus to them all things are important, because none is necessary. Their different characters have fair play, and each is beautiful in its minute indications, for nothing is enforced or conventional, but everything, however slight, grows from the essential life of the being.

    Mignon and Theresa wear male attire when they like, and it is graceful for them to do so, while Macaria is confined to her arm chair behind the green curtain, and the Fair Saint could not bear a speck of dust on her robe.

    All things are in their places in this little world because all is natural and free, just as “there is room for everything out of doors.” Yet all is rounded in by natural harmony which will always arise where Truth and Love are sought in the light of freedom.

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    Goethe’s book bodes an era of freedom like its own, of “extraordinary generous seeking,” and new revelations. New individualities shall be developed in the actual world, which shall advance upon it as gently as the figures come out upon his canvass.

    A profound thinker has said “no married woman can represent the female world, for she belongs to her husband. The idea of woman must be represented by a virgin.”

    But that is the very fault of marriage, and of the present relation between the sexes, that the woman does belong to the man, instead of forming a whole with him. Were it otherwise there would be no such limitation to the thought.

    Woman, self-centred, would never be absorbed by any relation; it would be only an experience to her as to man. It is a vulgar error that love, a love to woman is her whole existence; she also is born for Truth and Love in their universal energy.

    Would she but assume her inheritance, Mary would not be the only Virgin Mother.

    Not Manzoni alone would celebrate in his wife the virgin mind with the maternal wisdom and conjugal affections. The soul is ever young, ever virgin.

    And will not she soon appear? The woman who shall vindicate their birthright for all women; who shall teach them what to claim, and how to use what they obtain? Shall not her name be for her era Victoria, for her country and her life Virginia? Yet predictions are rash; she herself must teach us to give her the fitting name.

    4.17.2 Reading and Review Questions

    1. What does Fuller mean when she speaks of the universe-spirit and the desired relationship of humans to this universe-spirit? How do you know? How does this spirit relate to Emerson’s idea of “one universal order?”

    2. What role does this artist play in relation to the universe-spirit? Why?

    How do you know? What is the effect of this relationship on the place of women in society?

    3. To what degree and effect, does Fuller use Christian ideals, images, and language? What of classical (Greek and Roman) ideals, images, and language? How, if at all, does she reconcile the two?

    4. What position do women hold in the harmonious universe that Fuller describes? Why? How? What role do they hold in the universe as it is, i.e.

    in disharmony with the universe-spirit? Why? How?

    5. How do Fuller’s transcendental tenets correct, or improve upon, failures (even atrocities) of such American institutions as Puritanism, Slavery, Domesticity, and/or Government?

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    4.18 HARRIET BEECHER STOWE

    (1811–1886)

    Harriet Beecher Stowe was born into

    a severe Calvinist household in Litchfield,

    Connecticut. From there, she moved

    to Hartford to live with her older sister

    Catherine, the founder of the Hartford

    Female Seminary. After completing

    her education at the Seminary, Harriet

    became one of its teachers until 1832,

    when she moved to Cincinnati, Ohio,

    where her father Lyman Beecher

    (1775–1863) was made president of the

    Lane Theological Seminary. He later

    lost a number of students who left the

    seminary to protest Lyman’s conservative

    position on Abolition, as evidenced in

    his supporting the colonization of free

    black slaves in Africa. Stowe’s brother

    Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887)

    began his influential preaching career Image 4.16 | Harriet Beecher Stowe in Cincinnati, supporting women’s Photographer | Unknown suffrage and condemning slavery. Stowe Source | Wikimedia Commons began her writing career, in this border License | Public Domain state, where she experienced first-hand the rising tensions over the slavery issue.

    In 1836, Stowe married Calvin Stowe (1802–1886), one of the professors at Lane Theological Seminary, and bore eight children. Stowe sold stories to augment their income. The Mayflower, a collection of these stories, was published 1843.

    She also opposed slavery in “Immediate Emancipation—A Sketch” published in 1845. The same year as the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, she and her husband moved to Maine, where Calvin Stowe taught at Bowdoin College.

    There, at the prompting of a vision from God, Stowe wrote the book that made her famous, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It ran from 1851 to 1852 as a serial in The National Era, an Abolitionist newspaper. When Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in book form in 1852, it sold over 300,000 copies. It eventually sold in the millions, was performed as a stage drama, and was translated into several languages. Stowe became a celebrated figure in America and Europe. The impact this book had on American history was summed up by Abraham Lincoln who, upon first meeting Stowe, said, “So this is the little lady who made this big war.” Stowe had hoped to convert true Christian hearts towards a voluntary aversion of slavery through her sympathetic depiction of the suffering and cruelties slaves endured.

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    She became a celebrated Abolitionist author, traveling to Europe in 1853; meeting with such black Abolitionist authors as Harriet Jacobs and Frederick Douglass; publishing another anti-slavery novel entitled Dred; A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp (1856), and contributing to The Independent. Very much a product of its time, Uncle Tom’s Cabin contributed to the popular nineteenth-century genre of domestic fiction, novels that viewed culture and society from the woman’s perspective.

    Stowe promoted the centrality of the woman’s perspective and the importance of women to society in her other works, including Pink and White Tyranny: A Society Novel (1871) and We and Our Neighbors (1875).

    4.18.1 Uncle Tom’s Cabin

    (1852)

    Chapter I

    In Which the Reader Is Introduced to a Man of Humanity

    Late in the afternoon of a chilly day in February, two gentlemen were sitting alone over their wine, in a well-furnished dining parlor, in the town of P——, in Kentucky. There were no servants present, and the gentlemen, with chairs closely approaching, seemed to be discussing some subject with great earnestness.

    For convenience sake, we have said, hitherto, two gentlemen. One of the parties, however, when critically examined, did not seem, strictly speaking, to come under the species. He was a short, thick-set man, with coarse, commonplace features, and that swaggering air of pretension which marks a low man who is trying to elbow his way upward in the world. He was much over-dressed, in a gaudy vest of many colors, a blue neckerchief, bedropped gayly with yellow spots, and arranged with a flaunting tie, quite in keeping with the general air of the man. His hands, large and coarse, were plentifully bedecked with rings; and he wore a heavy gold watch-chain, with a bundle of seals of portentous size, and a great variety of colors, attached to it,—which, in the ardor of conversation, he was in the habit of flourishing and jingling with evident satisfaction. His conversation was in free and easy defiance of Murray’s Grammar, and was garnished at convenient intervals with various profane expressions, which not even the desire to be graphic in our account shall induce us to transcribe.

    His companion, Mr. Shelby, had the appearance of a gentleman; and the arrangements of the house, and the general air of the housekeeping, indicated easy, and even opulent circumstances. As we before stated, the two were in the midst of an earnest conversation.

    “That is the way I should arrange the matter,” said Mr. Shelby.

    “I can’t make trade that way—I positively can’t, Mr. Shelby,” said the other, holding up a glass of wine between his eye and the light.

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    “Why, the fact is, Haley, Tom is an uncommon fellow; he is certainly worth that sum anywhere,—steady, honest, capable, manages my whole farm like a clock.”

    “You mean honest, as niggers go,” said Haley, helping himself to a glass of brandy.

    “No; I mean, really, Tom is a good, steady, sensible, pious fellow. He got religion at a camp-meeting, four years ago; and I believe he really did get it. I’ve trusted him, since then, with everything I have,—money, house, horses,—and let him come and go round the country; and I always found him true and square in everything.”

    “Some folks don’t believe there is pious niggers Shelby,” said Haley, with a candid flourish of his hand, “but I do. I had a fellow, now, in this yer last lot I took to Orleans—‘t was as good as a meetin, now, really, to hear that critter pray; and he was quite gentle and quiet like. He fetched me a good sum, too, for I bought him cheap of a man that was ’bliged to sell out; so I realized six hundred on him. Yes, I consider religion a valeyable thing in a nigger, when it’s the genuine article, and no mistake.”

    “Well, Tom’s got the real article, if ever a fellow had,” rejoined the other. “Why, last fall, I let him go to Cincinnati alone, to do business for me, and bring home five hundred dollars. ‘Tom,’ says I to him, ‘I trust you, because I think you’re a Christian—I know you wouldn’t cheat.’ Tom comes back, sure enough; I knew he would. Some low fellows, they say, said to him—Tom, why don’t you make tracks for Canada?’ ’Ah, master trusted me, and I couldn’t,’—they told me about it. I am sorry to part with Tom, I must say. You ought to let him cover the whole balance of the debt; and you would, Haley, if you had any conscience.”

    “Well, I’ve got just as much conscience as any man in business can afford to keep,—just a little, you know, to swear by, as ’t were,” said the trader, jocularly; “and, then, I’m ready to do anything in reason to ’blige friends; but this yer, you see, is a leetle too hard on a fellow—a leetle too hard.” The trader sighed contemplatively, and poured out some more brandy.

    “Well, then, Haley, how will you trade?” said Mr. Shelby, after an uneasy interval of silence.

    “Well, haven’t you a boy or gal that you could throw in with Tom?”

    “Hum!—none that I could well spare; to tell the truth, it’s only hard necessity makes me willing to sell at all. I don’t like parting with any of my hands, that’s a fact.”

    Here the door opened, and a small quadroon boy, between four and five years of age, entered the room. There was something in his appearance remarkably beautiful and engaging. His black hair, fine as floss silk, hung in glossy curls about his round, dimpled face, while a pair of large dark eyes, full of fire and softness, looked out from beneath the rich, long lashes, as he peered curiously into the apartment. A gay robe of scarlet and yellow plaid, carefully made and neatly fitted, set off to advantage the dark and rich style of his beauty; and a certain comic air of assurance, blended with bashfulness, showed that he had been not unused to being petted and noticed by his master.

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    “Hulloa, Jim Crow!” said Mr. Shelby, whistling, and snapping a bunch of raisins towards him, “pick that up, now!”

    The child scampered, with all his little strength, after the prize, while his master laughed.

    “Come here, Jim Crow,” said he. The child came up, and the master patted the curly head, and chucked him under the chin.

    “Now, Jim, show this gentleman how you can dance and sing.” The boy commenced one of those wild, grotesque songs common among the negroes, in a rich, clear voice, accompanying his singing with many comic evolutions of the hands, feet, and whole body, all in perfect time to the music.

    “Bravo!” said Haley, throwing him a quarter of an orange.

    “Now, Jim, walk like old Uncle Cudjoe, when he has the rheumatism,” said his master.

    Instantly the flexible limbs of the child assumed the appearance of deformity and distortion, as, with his back humped up, and his master’s stick in his hand, he hobbled about the room, his childish face drawn into a doleful pucker, and spitting from right to left, in imitation of an old man.

    Both gentlemen laughed uproariously.

    “Now, Jim,” said his master, “show us how old Elder Robbins leads the psalm.”

    The boy drew his chubby face down to a formidable length, and commenced toning a psalm tune through his nose, with imperturbable gravity.

    “Hurrah! bravo! what a young ’un!” said Haley; “that chap’s a case, I’ll promise.

    Tell you what,” said he, suddenly clapping his hand on Mr. Shelby’s shoulder, “fling in that chap, and I’ll settle the business—I will. Come, now, if that ain’t doing the thing up about the rightest!”

    At this moment, the door was pushed gently open, and a young quadroon woman, apparently about twenty-five, entered the room.

    There needed only a glance from the child to her, to identify her as its mother.

    There was the same rich, full, dark eye, with its long lashes; the same ripples of silky black hair. The brown of her complexion gave way on the cheek to a perceptible flush, which deepened as she saw the gaze of the strange man fixed upon her in bold and undisguised admiration. Her dress was of the neatest possible fit, and set off to advantage her finely moulded shape;—a delicately formed hand and a trim foot and ankle were items of appearance that did not escape the quick eye of the trader, well used to run up at a glance the points of a fine female article.

    “Well, Eliza?” said her master, as she stopped and looked hesitatingly at him.

    “I was looking for Harry, please, sir;” and the boy bounded toward her, showing his spoils, which he had gathered in the skirt of his robe.

    “Well, take him away then,” said Mr. Shelby; and hastily she withdrew, carrying the child on her arm.

    “By Jupiter,” said the trader, turning to him in admiration, “there’s an article, now! You might make your fortune on that ar gal in Orleans, any day. I’ve seen over a thousand, in my day, paid down for gals not a bit handsomer.”

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    “I don’t want to make my fortune on her,” said Mr. Shelby, dryly; and, seeking to turn the conversation, he uncorked a bottle of fresh wine, and asked his companion’s opinion of it.

    “Capital, sir,—first chop!” said the trader; then turning, and slapping his hand familiarly on Shelby’s shoulder, he added—

    “Come, how will you trade about the gal?—what shall I say for her—what’ll you take?”

    “Mr. Haley, she is not to be sold,” said Shelby. “My wife would not part with her for her weight in gold.”

    “Ay, ay! women always say such things, cause they ha’nt no sort of calculation.

    Just show ’em how many watches, feathers, and trinkets, one’s weight in gold would buy, and that alters the case, I reckon.”

    “I tell you, Haley, this must not be spoken of; I say no, and I mean no,” said Shelby, decidedly.

    “Well, you’ll let me have the boy, though,” said the trader; “you must own I’ve come down pretty handsomely for him.”

    “What on earth can you want with the child?” said Shelby.

    “Why, I’ve got a friend that’s going into this yer branch of the business—wants to buy up handsome boys to raise for the market. Fancy articles entirely—sell for waiters, and so on, to rich ’uns, that can pay for handsome ’uns. It sets off one of yer great places—a real handsome boy to open door, wait, and tend. They fetch a good sum; and this little devil is such a comical, musical concern, he’s just the article!’

    “I would rather not sell him,” said Mr. Shelby, thoughtfully; “the fact is, sir, I’m a humane man, and I hate to take the boy from his mother, sir.”

    “O, you do?—La! yes—something of that ar natur. I understand, perfectly.

    It is mighty onpleasant getting on with women, sometimes, I al’ays hates these yer screechin,’ screamin’ times. They are mighty onpleasant; but, as I manages business, I generally avoids ’em, sir. Now, what if you get the girl off for a day, or a week, or so; then the thing’s done quietly,—all over before she comes home. Your wife might get her some ear-rings, or a new gown, or some such truck, to make up with her.”

    “I’m afraid not.”

    “Lor bless ye, yes! These critters ain’t like white folks, you know; they gets over things, only manage right. Now, they say,” said Haley, assuming a candid and confidential air, “that this kind o’ trade is hardening to the feelings; but I never found it so. Fact is, I never could do things up the way some fellers manage the business. I’ve seen ’em as would pull a woman’s child out of her arms, and set him up to sell, and she screechin’ like mad all the time;—very bad policy—damages the article—makes ’em quite unfit for service sometimes. I knew a real handsome gal once, in Orleans, as was entirely ruined by this sort o’ handling. The fellow that was trading for her didn’t want her baby; and she was one of your real high sort, when her blood was up. I tell you, she squeezed up her child in her arms, and talked, and Page | 1086

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    went on real awful. It kinder makes my blood run cold to think of ’t; and when they carried off the child, and locked her up, she jest went ravin’ mad, and died in a week. Clear waste, sir, of a thousand dollars, just for want of management,—there’s where ’t is. It’s always best to do the humane thing, sir; that’s been my experience.”

    And the trader leaned back in his chair, and folded his arm, with an air of virtuous decision, apparently considering himself a second Wilberforce.

    The subject appeared to interest the gentleman deeply; for while Mr. Shelby was thoughtfully peeling an orange, Haley broke out afresh, with becoming diffidence, but as if actually driven by the force of truth to say a few words more.

    “It don’t look well, now, for a feller to be praisin’ himself; but I say it jest because it’s the truth. I believe I’m reckoned to bring in about the finest droves of niggers that is brought in,—at least, I’ve been told so; if I have once, I reckon I have a hundred times,—all in good case,—fat and likely, and I lose as few as any man in the business. And I lays it all to my management, sir; and humanity, sir, I may say, is the great pillar of my management.”

    Mr. Shelby did not know what to say, and so he said, “Indeed!”

    “Now, I’ve been laughed at for my notions, sir, and I’ve been talked to. They an’t pop’lar, and they an’t common; but I stuck to ’em, sir; I’ve stuck to ’em, and realized well on ’em; yes, sir, they have paid their passage, I may say,” and the trader laughed at his joke.

    There was something so piquant and original in these elucidations of humanity, that Mr. Shelby could not help laughing in company. Perhaps you laugh too, dear reader; but you know humanity comes out in a variety of strange forms now-adays, and there is no end to the odd things that humane people will say and do.

    Mr. Shelby’s laugh encouraged the trader to proceed.

    “It’s strange, now, but I never could beat this into people’s heads. Now, there was Tom Loker, my old partner, down in Natchez; he was a clever fellow, Tom was, only the very devil with niggers,—on principle ’t was, you see, for a better hearted feller never broke bread; ’t was his system, sir. I used to talk to Tom. ‘Why, Tom,’

    I used to say, ‘when your gals takes on and cry, what’s the use o’ crackin on’ ’em over the head, and knockin’ on ’em round? It’s ridiculous,’ says I, ‘and don’t do no sort o’ good. Why, I don’t see no harm in their cryin’,’ says I; ’it’s natur,’ says I, ‘and if natur can’t blow off one way, it will another. Besides, Tom,’ says I, ‘it jest spiles your gals; they get sickly, and down in the mouth; and sometimes they gets ugly,—

    particular yallow gals do,—and it’s the devil and all gettin’ on ’em broke in. Now,’

    says I, ‘why can’t you kinder coax ’em up, and speak ’em fair? Depend on it, Tom, a little humanity, thrown in along, goes a heap further than all your jawin’ and crackin’; and it pays better,’ says I, ‘depend on ’t.’ But Tom couldn’t get the hang on

    ’t; and he spiled so many for me, that I had to break off with him, though he was a good-hearted fellow, and as fair a business hand as is goin’.”

    “And do you find your ways of managing do the business better than Tom’s?”

    said Mr. Shelby.

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    “Why, yes, sir, I may say so. You see, when I any ways can, I takes a leetle care about the onpleasant parts, like selling young uns and that,—get the gals out of the way—out of sight, out of mind, you know,—and when it’s clean done, and can’t be helped, they naturally gets used to it. ’Tan’t, you know, as if it was white folks, that’s brought up in the way of ’spectin’ to keep their children and wives, and all that. Niggers, you know, that’s fetched up properly, ha’n’t no kind of ’spectations of no kind; so all these things comes easier.”

    “I’m afraid mine are not properly brought up, then,” said Mr. Shelby.

    “S’pose not; you Kentucky folks spile your niggers. You mean well by ’em, but

    ’tan’t no real kindness, arter all. Now, a nigger, you see, what’s got to be hacked and tumbled round the world, and sold to Tom, and Dick, and the Lord knows who,

    ’tan’t no kindness to be givin’ on him notions and expectations, and bringin’ on him up too well, for the rough and tumble comes all the harder on him arter. Now, I venture to say, your niggers would be quite chop-fallen in a place where some of your plantation niggers would be singing and whooping like all possessed. Every man, you know, Mr. Shelby, naturally thinks well of his own ways; and I think I treat niggers just about as well as it’s ever worth while to treat ’em.”

    “It’s a happy thing to be satisfied,” said Mr. Shelby, with a slight shrug, and some perceptible feelings of a disagreeable nature.

    “Well,” said Haley, after they had both silently picked their nuts for a season,

    “what do you say?”

    “I’ll think the matter over, and talk with my wife,” said Mr. Shelby. “Meantime, Haley, if you want the matter carried on in the quiet way you speak of, you’d best not let your business in this neighborhood be known. It will get out among my boys, and it will not be a particularly quiet business getting away any of my fellows, if they know it, I’ll promise you.”

    “O! certainly, by all means, mum! of course. But I’ll tell you. I’m in a devil of a hurry, and shall want to know, as soon as possible, what I may depend on,” said he, rising and putting on his overcoat.

    “Well, call up this evening, between six and seven, and you shall have my answer,” said Mr. Shelby, and the trader bowed himself out of the apartment.

    “I’d like to have been able to kick the fellow down the steps,” said he to himself, as he saw the door fairly closed, “with his impudent assurance; but he knows how much he has me at advantage. If anybody had ever said to me that I should sell Tom down south to one of those rascally traders, I should have said, ’Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?’ And now it must come, for aught I see. And Eliza’s child, too! I know that I shall have some fuss with wife about that; and, for that matter, about Tom, too. So much for being in debt,—heigho! The fellow sees his advantage, and means to push it.”

    Perhaps the mildest form of the system of slavery is to be seen in the State of Kentucky. The general prevalence of agricultural pursuits of a quiet and gradual nature, not requiring those periodic seasons of hurry and pressure that are called for in the business of more southern districts, makes the task of the negro a more Page | 1088

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    healthful and reasonable one; while the master, content with a more gradual style of acquisition, has not those temptations to hardheartedness which always overcome frail human nature when the prospect of sudden and rapid gain is weighed in the balance, with no heavier counterpoise than the interests of the helpless and unprotected.

    Whoever visits some estates there, and witnesses the good-humored indulgence of some masters and mistresses, and the affectionate loyalty of some slaves, might be tempted to dream the oft-fabled poetic legend of a patriarchal institution, and all that; but over and above the scene there broods a portentous shadow—the shadow of law. So long as the law considers all these human beings, with beating hearts and living affections, only as so many things belonging to a master,—so long as the failure, or misfortune, or imprudence, or death of the kindest owner, may cause them any day to exchange a life of kind protection and indulgence for one of hopeless misery and toil,—so long it is impossible to make anything beautiful or desirable in the best regulated administration of slavery.

    Mr. Shelby was a fair average kind of man, good-natured and kindly, and disposed to easy indulgence of those around him, and there had never been a lack of anything which might contribute to the physical comfort of the negroes on his estate. He had, however, speculated largely and quite loosely; had involved himself deeply, and his notes to a large amount had come into the hands of Haley; and this small piece of information is the key to the preceding conversation.

    Now, it had so happened that, in approaching the door, Eliza had caught enough of the conversation to know that a trader was making offers to her master for somebody.

    She would gladly have stopped at the door to listen, as she came out; but her mistress just then calling, she was obliged to hasten away.

    Still she thought she heard the trader make an offer for her boy;—could she be mistaken? Her heart swelled and throbbed, and she involuntarily strained him so tight that the little fellow looked up into her face in astonishment.

    “Eliza, girl, what ails you today?” said her mistress, when Eliza had upset the wash-pitcher, knocked down the workstand, and finally was abstractedly offering her mistress a long nightgown in place of the silk dress she had ordered her to bring from the wardrobe.

    Eliza started. “O, missis!” she said, raising her eyes; then, bursting into tears, she sat down in a chair, and began sobbing.

    “Why, Eliza child, what ails you?” said her mistress.

    “O! missis, missis,” said Eliza, “there’s been a trader talking with master in the parlor! I heard him.”

    “Well, silly child, suppose there has.”

    “O, missis, do you suppose mas’r would sell my Harry?” And the poor creature threw herself into a chair, and sobbed convulsively.

    “Sell him! No, you foolish girl! You know your master never deals with those southern traders, and never means to sell any of his servants, as long as they behave Page | 1089

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    well. Why, you silly child, who do you think would want to buy your Harry? Do you think all the world are set on him as you are, you goosie? Come, cheer up, and hook my dress. There now, put my back hair up in that pretty braid you learnt the other day, and don’t go listening at doors any more.”

    “Well, but, missis, you never would give your consent—to—to—”

    “Nonsense, child! to be sure, I shouldn’t. What do you talk so for? I would as soon have one of my own children sold. But really, Eliza, you are getting altogether too proud of that little fellow. A man can’t put his nose into the door, but you think he must be coming to buy him.”

    Reassured by her mistress’ confident tone, Eliza proceeded nimbly and adroitly with her toilet, laughing at her own fears, as she proceeded.

    Mrs. Shelby was a woman of high class, both intellectually and morally. To that natural magnanimity and generosity of mind which one often marks as characteristic of the women of Kentucky, she added high moral and religious sensibility and principle, carried out with great energy and ability into practical results. Her husband, who made no professions to any particular religious character, nevertheless reverenced and respected the consistency of hers, and stood, perhaps, a little in awe of her opinion. Certain it was that he gave her unlimited scope in all her benevolent efforts for the comfort, instruction, and improvement of her servants, though he never took any decided part in them himself. In fact, if not exactly a believer in the doctrine of the efficiency of the extra good works of saints, he really seemed somehow or other to fancy that his wife had piety and benevolence enough for two—to indulge a shadowy expectation of getting into heaven through her superabundance of qualities to which he made no particular pretension.

    The heaviest load on his mind, after his conversation with the trader, lay in the foreseen necessity of breaking to his wife the arrangement contemplated,—

    meeting the importunities and opposition which he knew he should have reason to encounter.

    Mrs. Shelby, being entirely ignorant of her husband’s embarrassments, and knowing only the general kindliness of his temper, had been quite sincere in the entire incredulity with which she had met Eliza’s suspicions. In fact, she dismissed the matter from her mind, without a second thought; and being occupied in preparations for an evening visit, it passed out of her thoughts entirely.

    Chapter VII

    The Mother’s Struggle

    It is impossible to conceive of a human creature more wholly desolate and forlorn than Eliza, when she turned her footsteps from Uncle Tom’s cabin.

    Her husband’s suffering and dangers, and the danger of her child, all blended in her mind, with a confused and stunning sense of the risk she was running, in leaving the only home she had ever known, and cutting loose from the protection of a friend whom she loved and revered. Then there was the parting from every Page | 1090

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    familiar object,—the place where she had grown up, the trees under which she had played, the groves where she had walked many an evening in happier days, by the side of her young husband,—everything, as it lay in the clear, frosty starlight, seemed to speak reproachfully to her, and ask her whither could she go from a home like that?

    But stronger than all was maternal love, wrought into a paroxysm of frenzy by the near approach of a fearful danger. Her boy was old enough to have walked by her side, and, in an indifferent case, she would only have led him by the hand; but now the bare thought of putting him out of her arms made her shudder, and she strained him to her bosom with a convulsive grasp, as she went rapidly forward.

    The frosty ground creaked beneath her feet, and she trembled at the sound; every quaking leaf and fluttering shadow sent the blood backward to her heart, and quickened her footsteps. She wondered within herself at the strength that seemed to be come upon her; for she felt the weight of her boy as if it had been a feather, and every flutter of fear seemed to increase the supernatural power that bore her on, while from her pale lips burst forth, in frequent ejaculations, the prayer to a Friend above—“Lord, help! Lord, save me!”

    If it were your Harry, mother, or your Willie, that were going to be torn from you by a brutal trader, tomorrow morning,—if you had seen the man, and heard that the papers were signed and delivered, and you had only from twelve o’clock till morning to make good your escape,—how fast could you walk? How many miles could you make in those few brief hours, with the darling at your bosom,—the little sleepy head on your shoulder,—the small, soft arms trustingly holding on to your neck?

    For the child slept. At first, the novelty and alarm kept him waking; but his mother so hurriedly repressed every breath or sound, and so assured him that if he were only still she would certainly save him, that he clung quietly round her neck, only asking, as he found himself sinking to sleep,

    “Mother, I don’t need to keep awake, do I?”

    “No, my darling; sleep, if you want to.”

    “But, mother, if I do get asleep, you won’t let him get me?”

    “No! so may God help me!” said his mother, with a paler cheek, and a brighter light in her large dark eyes.

    “You’re sure, an’t you, mother?”

    “Yes, sure!” said the mother, in a voice that startled herself; for it seemed to her to come from a spirit within, that was no part of her; and the boy dropped his little weary head on her shoulder, and was soon asleep. How the touch of those warm arms, the gentle breathings that came in her neck, seemed to add fire and spirit to her movements! It seemed to her as if strength poured into her in electric streams, from every gentle touch and movement of the sleeping, confiding child. Sublime is the dominion of the mind over the body, that, for a time, can make flesh and nerve impregnable, and string the sinews like steel, so that the weak become so mighty.

    The boundaries of the farm, the grove, the wood-lot, passed by her dizzily, as she walked on; and still she went, leaving one familiar object after another, slacking Page | 1091

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    not, pausing not, till reddening daylight found her many a long mile from all traces of any familiar objects upon the open highway.

    She had often been, with her mistress, to visit some connections, in the little village of T——, not far from the Ohio river, and knew the road well. To go thither, to escape across the Ohio river, were the first hurried outlines of her plan of escape; beyond that, she could only hope in God.

    When horses and vehicles began to move along the highway, with that alert perception peculiar to a state of excitement, and which seems to be a sort of inspiration, she became aware that her headlong pace and distracted air might bring on her remark and suspicion. She therefore put the boy on the ground, and, adjusting her dress and bonnet, she walked on at as rapid a pace as she thought consistent with the preservation of appearances. In her little bundle she had provided a store of cakes and apples, which she used as expedients for quickening the speed of the child, rolling the apple some yards before them, when the boy would run with all his might after it; and this ruse, often repeated, carried them over many a half-mile.

    After a while, they came to a thick patch of woodland, through which murmured a clear brook. As the child complained of hunger and thirst, she climbed over the fence with him; and, sitting down behind a large rock which concealed them from the road, she gave him a breakfast out of her little package. The boy wondered and grieved that she could not eat; and when, putting his arms round her neck, he tried to wedge some of his cake into her mouth, it seemed to her that the rising in her throat would choke her.

    “No, no, Harry darling! mother can’t eat till you are safe! We must go on—

    on—till we come to the river!” And she hurried again into the road, and again constrained herself to walk regularly and composedly forward.

    She was many miles past any neighborhood where she was personally known.

    If she should chance to meet any who knew her, she reflected that the well-known kindness of the family would be of itself a blind to suspicion, as making it an unlikely supposition that she could be a fugitive. As she was also so white as not to be known as of colored lineage, without a critical survey, and her child was white also, it was much easier for her to pass on unsuspected.

    On this presumption, she stopped at noon at a neat farmhouse, to rest herself, and buy some dinner for her child and self; for, as the danger decreased with the distance, the supernatural tension of the nervous system lessened, and she found herself both weary and hungry.

    The good woman, kindly and gossipping, seemed rather pleased than otherwise with having somebody come in to talk with; and accepted, without examination, Eliza’s statement, that she “was going on a little piece, to spend a week with her friends,”—all which she hoped in her heart might prove strictly true.

    An hour before sunset, she entered the village of T——, by the Ohio river, weary and foot-sore, but still strong in heart. Her first glance was at the river, which lay, like Jordan, between her and the Canaan of liberty on the other side.

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    It was now early spring, and the river was swollen and turbulent; great cakes of floating ice were swinging heavily to and fro in the turbid waters. Owing to the peculiar form of the shore on the Kentucky side, the land bending far out into the water, the ice had been lodged and detained in great quantities, and the narrow channel which swept round the bend was full of ice, piled one cake over another, thus forming a temporary barrier to the descending ice, which lodged, and formed a great, undulating raft, filling up the whole river, and extending almost to the Kentucky shore.

    Eliza stood, for a moment, contemplating this unfavorable aspect of things, which she saw at once must prevent the usual ferry-boat from running, and then turned into a small public house on the bank, to make a few inquiries.

    The hostess, who was busy in various fizzing and stewing operations over the fire, preparatory to the evening meal, stopped, with a fork in her hand, as Eliza’s sweet and plaintive voice arrested her.

    “What is it?” she said.

    “Isn’t there any ferry or boat, that takes people over to B——, now?” she said.

    “No, indeed!” said the woman; “the boats has stopped running.”

    Eliza’s look of dismay and disappointment struck the woman, and she said, inquiringly,

    “May be you’re wanting to get over?—anybody sick? Ye seem mighty anxious?”

    “I’ve got a child that’s very dangerous,” said Eliza. “I never heard of it till last night, and I’ve walked quite a piece today, in hopes to get to the ferry.”

    “Well, now, that’s onlucky,” said the woman, whose motherly sympathies were much aroused; “I’m re’lly consarned for ye. Solomon!” she called, from the window, towards a small back building. A man, in leather apron and very dirty hands, appeared at the door.

    “I say, Sol,” said the woman, “is that ar man going to tote them bar’ls over tonight?”

    “He said he should try, if ’t was any way prudent,” said the man.

    “There’s a man a piece down here, that’s going over with some truck this evening, if he durs’ to; he’ll be in here to supper tonight, so you’d better set down and wait. That’s a sweet little fellow,” added the woman, offering him a cake.

    But the child, wholly exhausted, cried with weariness.

    “Poor fellow! he isn’t used to walking, and I’ve hurried him on so,” said Eliza.

    “Well, take him into this room,” said the woman, opening into a small bedroom, where stood a comfortable bed. Eliza laid the weary boy upon it, and held his hands in hers till he was fast asleep. For her there was no rest. As a fire in her bones, the thought of the pursuer urged her on; and she gazed with longing eyes on the sullen, surging waters that lay between her and liberty.

    Here we must take our leave of her for the present, to follow the course of her pursuers.

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    than one to make a bargain. So, although the order was fairly given out in Haley’s hearing, and carried to Aunt Chloe by at least half a dozen juvenile messengers, that dignitary only gave certain very gruff snorts, and tosses of her head, and went on with every operation in an unusually leisurely and circumstantial manner.

    For some singular reason, an impression seemed to reign among the servants generally that Missis would not be particularly disobliged by delay; and it was wonderful what a number of counter accidents occurred constantly, to retard the course of things. One luckless wight contrived to upset the gravy; and then gravy had to be got up de novo, with due care and formality, Aunt Chloe watching and stirring with dogged precision, answering shortly, to all suggestions of haste, that she “warn’t a going to have raw gravy on the table, to help nobody’s catchings.” One tumbled down with the water, and had to go to the spring for more; and another precipitated the butter into the path of events; and there was from time to time giggling news brought into the kitchen that “Mas’r Haley was mighty oneasy, and that he couldn’t sit in his cheer no ways, but was a walkin’ and stalkin’ to the winders and through the porch.”

    “Sarves him right!” said Aunt Chloe, indignantly. “He’ll get wus nor oneasy, one of these days, if he don’t mend his ways. His master’ll be sending for him, and then see how he’ll look!”

    “He’ll go to torment, and no mistake,” said little Jake.

    “He desarves it!” said Aunt Chloe, grimly; “he’s broke a many, many, many hearts,—I tell ye all!” she said, stopping, with a fork uplifted in her hands; “it’s like what Mas’r George reads in Ravelations,—souls a callin’ under the altar! and a callin’ on the Lord for vengeance on sich!—and by and by the Lord he’ll hear

    ’em—so he will!”

    Aunt Chloe, who was much revered in the kitchen, was listened to with open mouth; and, the dinner being now fairly sent in, the whole kitchen was at leisure to gossip with her, and to listen to her remarks.

    “Sich’ll be burnt up forever, and no mistake; won’t ther?” said Andy.

    “I’d be glad to see it, I’ll be boun’,” said little Jake.

    “Chil’en!” said a voice, that made them all start. It was Uncle Tom, who had come in, and stood listening to the conversation at the door.

    “Chil’en!” he said, “I’m afeard you don’t know what ye’re sayin’. Forever is a dre’ful word, chil’en; it’s awful to think on ’t. You oughtenter wish that ar to any human crittur.”

    “We wouldn’t to anybody but the soul-drivers,” said Andy; “nobody can help wishing it to them, they ’s so awful wicked.”

    “Don’t natur herself kinder cry out on ’em?” said Aunt Chloe. “Don’t dey tear der suckin’ baby right off his mother’s breast, and sell him, and der little children as is crying and holding on by her clothes,—don’t dey pull ’em off and sells ’em?

    Don’t dey tear wife and husband apart?” said Aunt Chloe, beginning to cry, “when it’s jest takin’ the very life on ’em?—and all the while does they feel one bit, don’t dey drink and smoke, and take it oncommon easy? Lor, if the devil don’t get them, Page | 1094

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    what’s he good for?” And Aunt Chloe covered her face with her checked apron, and began to sob in good earnest.

    “Pray for them that ’spitefully use you, the good book says,” says Tom.

    “Pray for ’em!” said Aunt Chloe; “Lor, it’s too tough! I can’t pray for ’em.”

    “It’s natur, Chloe, and natur ’s strong,” said Tom, “but the Lord’s grace is stronger; besides, you oughter think what an awful state a poor crittur’s soul ’s in that’ll do them ar things,—you oughter thank God that you an’t like him, Chloe.

    I’m sure I’d rather be sold, ten thousand times over, than to have all that ar poor crittur’s got to answer for.”

    “So ’d I, a heap,” said Jake. “Lor, shouldn’t we cotch it, Andy?”

    Andy shrugged his shoulders, and gave an acquiescent whistle.

    “I’m glad Mas’r didn’t go off this morning, as he looked to,” said Tom; “that ar hurt me more than sellin’, it did. Mebbe it might have been natural for him, but ’t would have come desp’t hard on me, as has known him from a baby; but I’ve seen Mas’r, and I begin ter feel sort o’ reconciled to the Lord’s will now. Mas’r couldn’t help hisself; he did right, but I’m feared things will be kinder goin’ to rack, when I’m gone Mas’r can’t be spected to be a pryin’ round everywhar, as I’ve done, a keepin’ up all the ends. The boys all means well, but they ’s powerful car’less. That ar troubles me.”

    The bell here rang, and Tom was summoned to the parlor.

    “Tom,” said his master, kindly, “I want you to notice that I give this gentleman bonds to forfeit a thousand dollars if you are not on the spot when he wants you; he’s going today to look after his other business, and you can have the day to yourself. Go anywhere you like, boy.”

    “Thank you, Mas’r,” said Tom.

    “And mind yourself,” said the trader, “and don’t come it over your master with any o’ yer nigger tricks; for I’ll take every cent out of him, if you an’t thar. If he’d hear to me, he wouldn’t trust any on ye—slippery as eels!”

    “Mas’r,” said Tom,—and he stood very straight,—“I was jist eight years old when ole Missis put you into my arms, and you wasn’t a year old. ‘Thar,’ says she, ‘Tom, that’s to be your young Mas’r; take good care on him,’ says she. And now I jist ask you, Mas’r, have I ever broke word to you, or gone contrary to you, ’specially since I was a Christian?”

    Mr. Shelby was fairly overcome, and the tears rose to his eyes.

    “My good boy,” said he, “the Lord knows you say but the truth; and if I was able to help it, all the world shouldn’t buy you.”

    “And sure as I am a Christian woman,” said Mrs. Shelby, “you shall be redeemed as soon as I can any way bring together means. Sir,” she said to Haley, “take good account of who you sell him to, and let me know.”

    “Lor, yes, for that matter,” said the trader, “I may bring him up in a year, not much the wuss for wear, and trade him back.”

    “I’ll trade with you then, and make it for your advantage,” said Mrs. Shelby.

    “Of course,” said the trader, “all ’s equal with me; li’ves trade ’em up as down, Page | 1095

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    so I does a good business. All I want is a livin’, you know, ma’am; that’s all any on us wants, I, s’pose.”

    Mr. and Mrs. Shelby both felt annoyed and degraded by the familiar impudence of the trader, and yet both saw the absolute necessity of putting a constraint on their feelings. The more hopelessly sordid and insensible he appeared, the greater became Mrs. Shelby’s dread of his succeeding in recapturing Eliza and her child, and of course the greater her motive for detaining him by every female artifice. She therefore graciously smiled, assented, chatted familiarly, and did all she could to make time pass imperceptibly.

    At two o’clock Sam and Andy brought the horses up to the posts, apparently greatly refreshed and invigorated by the scamper of the morning.

    Sam was there new oiled from dinner, with an abundance of zealous and ready officiousness. As Haley approached, he was boasting, in flourishing style, to Andy, of the evident and eminent success of the operation, now that he had “farly come to it.”

    “Your master, I s’pose, don’t keep no dogs,” said Haley, thoughtfully, as he prepared to mount.

    “Heaps on ’em,” said Sam, triumphantly; “thar’s Bruno—he’s a roarer! and, besides that, ’bout every nigger of us keeps a pup of some natur or uther.”

    “Poh!” said Haley,—and he said something else, too, with regard to the said dogs, at which Sam muttered,

    “I don’t see no use cussin’ on ’em, no way.”

    “But your master don’t keep no dogs (I pretty much know he don’t) for trackin’

    out niggers.”

    Sam knew exactly what he meant, but he kept on a look of earnest and desperate simplicity.

    “Our dogs all smells round considable sharp. I spect they’s the kind, though they han’t never had no practice. They ’s far dogs, though, at most anything, if you’d get

    ’em started. Here, Bruno,” he called, whistling to the lumbering Newfoundland, who came pitching tumultuously toward them.

    “You go hang!” said Haley, getting up. “Come, tumble up now.”

    Sam tumbled up accordingly, dexterously contriving to tickle Andy as he did so, which occasioned Andy to split out into a laugh, greatly to Haley’s indignation, who made a cut at him with his riding-whip.

    “I ’s ’stonished at yer, Andy,” said Sam, with awful gravity. “This yer’s a seris bisness, Andy. Yer mustn’t be a makin’ game. This yer an’t no way to help Mas’r.”

    “I shall take the straight road to the river,” said Haley, decidedly, after they had come to the boundaries of the estate. “I know the way of all of ’em,—they makes tracks for the underground.”

    “Sartin,” said Sam, “dat’s de idee. Mas’r Haley hits de thing right in de middle.

    Now, der’s two roads to de river,—de dirt road and der pike,—which Mas’r mean to take?”

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    Andy looked up innocently at Sam, surprised at hearing this new geographical fact, but instantly confirmed what he said, by a vehement reiteration.

    “Cause,” said Sam, “I’d rather be ’clined to ’magine that Lizy ’d take de dirt road, bein’ it’s the least travelled.”

    Haley, notwithstanding that he was a very old bird, and naturally inclined to be suspicious of chaff, was rather brought up by this view of the case.

    “If yer warn’t both on yer such cussed liars, now!” he said, contemplatively as he pondered a moment.

    The pensive, reflective tone in which this was spoken appeared to amuse Andy prodigiously, and he drew a little behind, and shook so as apparently to run a great risk of failing off his horse, while Sam’s face was immovably composed into the most doleful gravity.

    “Course,” said Sam, “Mas’r can do as he’d ruther, go de straight road, if Mas’r thinks best,—it’s all one to us. Now, when I study ’pon it, I think de straight road de best, deridedly.”

    “She would naturally go a lonesome way,” said Haley, thinking aloud, and not minding Sam’s remark.

    “Dar an’t no sayin’,” said Sam; “gals is pecular; they never does nothin’ ye thinks they will; mose gen’lly the contrary. Gals is nat’lly made contrary; and so, if you thinks they’ve gone one road, it is sartin you’d better go t’ other, and then you’ll be sure to find ’em. Now, my private ’pinion is, Lizy took der road; so I think we’d better take de straight one.”

    This profound generic view of the female sex did not seem to dispose Haley particularly to the straight road, and he announced decidedly that he should go the other, and asked Sam when they should come to it.

    “A little piece ahead,” said Sam, giving a wink to Andy with the eye which was on Andy’s side of the head; and he added, gravely, “but I’ve studded on de matter, and I’m quite clar we ought not to go dat ar way. I nebber been over it no way. It’s despit lonesome, and we might lose our way,—whar we’d come to, de Lord only knows.”

    “Nevertheless,” said Haley, “I shall go that way.”

    “Now I think on ’t, I think I hearn ’em tell that dat ar road was all fenced up and down by der creek, and thar, an’t it, Andy?”

    Andy wasn’t certain; he’d only “hearn tell” about that road, but never been over it. In short, he was strictly noncommittal.

    Haley, accustomed to strike the balance of probabilities between lies of greater or lesser magnitude, thought that it lay in favor of the dirt road aforesaid. The mention of the thing he thought he perceived was involuntary on Sam’s part at first, and his confused attempts to dissuade him he set down to a desperate lying on second thoughts, as being unwilling to implicate Liza.

    When, therefore, Sam indicated the road, Haley plunged briskly into it, followed by Sam and Andy.

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    Now, the road, in fact, was an old one, that had formerly been a thoroughfare to the river, but abandoned for many years after the laying of the new pike. It was open for about an hour’s ride, and after that it was cut across by various farms and fences. Sam knew this fact perfectly well,—indeed, the road had been so long closed up, that Andy had never heard of it. He therefore rode along with an air of dutiful submission, only groaning and vociferating occasionally that ’t was “desp’t rough, and bad for Jerry’s foot.”

    “Now, I jest give yer warning,” said Haley, “I know yer; yer won’t get me to turn off this road, with all yer fussin’—so you shet up!”

    “Mas’r will go his own way!” said Sam, with rueful submission, at the same time winking most portentously to Andy, whose delight was now very near the explosive point.

    Sam was in wonderful spirits,—professed to keep a very brisk lookout,—at one time exclaiming that he saw “a gal’s bonnet” on the top of some distant eminence, or calling to Andy “if that thar wasn’t ’Lizy’ down in the hollow;” always making these exclamations in some rough or craggy part of the road, where the sudden quickening of speed was a special inconvenience to all parties concerned, and thus keeping Haley in a state of constant commotion.

    After riding about an hour in this way, the whole party made a precipitate and tumultuous descent into a barn-yard belonging to a large farming establishment.

    Not a soul was in sight, all the hands being employed in the fields; but, as the barn stood conspicuously and plainly square across the road, it was evident that their journey in that direction had reached a decided finale.

    “Wan’t dat ar what I telled Mas’r?” said Sam, with an air of injured innocence.

    “How does strange gentleman spect to know more about a country dan de natives born and raised?”

    “You rascal!” said Haley, “you knew all about this.”

    “Didn’t I tell yer I knowd, and yer wouldn’t believe me? I telled Mas’r ’t was all shet up, and fenced up, and I didn’t spect we could get through,—Andy heard me.”

    It was all too true to be disputed, and the unlucky man had to pocket his wrath with the best grace he was able, and all three faced to the right about, and took up their line of march for the highway.

    In consequence of all the various delays, it was about three-quarters of an hour after Eliza had laid her child to sleep in the village tavern that the party came riding into the same place. Eliza was standing by the window, looking out in another direction, when Sam’s quick eye caught a glimpse of her. Haley and Andy were two yards behind. At this crisis, Sam contrived to have his hat blown off, and uttered a loud and characteristic ejaculation, which startled her at once; she drew suddenly back; the whole train swept by the window, round to the front door.

    A thousand lives seemed to be concentrated in that one moment to Eliza.

    Her room opened by a side door to the river. She caught her child, and sprang down the steps towards it. The trader caught a full glimpse of her just as she was disappearing down the bank; and throwing himself from his horse, and calling Page | 1098

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    loudly on Sam and Andy, he was after her like a hound after a deer. In that dizzy moment her feet to her scarce seemed to touch the ground, and a moment brought her to the water’s edge. Right on behind they came; and, nerved with strength such as God gives only to the desperate, with one wild cry and flying leap, she vaulted sheer over the turbid current by the shore, on to the raft of ice beyond. It was a desperate leap—impossible to anything but madness and despair; and Haley, Sam, and Andy, instinctively cried out, and lifted up their hands, as she did it.

    The huge green fragment of ice on which she alighted pitched and creaked as her weight came on it, but she staid there not a moment. With wild cries and desperate energy she leaped to another and still another cake; stumbling—leaping—

    slipping—springing upwards again! Her shoes are gone—her stockings cut from her feet—while blood marked every step; but she saw nothing, felt nothing, till dimly, as in a dream, she saw the Ohio side, and a man helping her up the bank.

    “Yer a brave gal, now, whoever ye ar!” said the man, with an oath.

    Eliza recognized the voice and face for a man who owned a farm not far from her old home.

    “O, Mr. Symmes!—save me—do save me—do hide me!” said Elia.

    “Why, what’s this?” said the man. “Why, if ’tan’t Shelby’s gal!”

    “My child!—this boy!—he’d sold him! There is his Mas’r,” said she, pointing to the Kentucky shore. “O, Mr. Symmes, you’ve got a little boy!”

    “So I have,” said the man, as he roughly, but kindly, drew her up the steep bank. “Besides, you’re a right brave gal. I like grit, wherever I see it.”

    When they had gained the top of the bank, the man paused.

    “I’d be glad to do something for ye,” said he; “but then there’s nowhar I could take ye. The best I can do is to tell ye to go thar,” said he, pointing to a large white house which stood by itself, off the main street of the village. “Go thar; they’re kind folks. Thar’s no kind o’ danger but they’ll help you,—they’re up to all that sort o’

    thing.”

    “The Lord bless you!” said Eliza, earnestly.

    “No ’casion, no ’casion in the world,” said the man. “What I’ve done’s of no

    ’count.”

    “And, oh, surely, sir, you won’t tell any one!”

    “Go to thunder, gal! What do you take a feller for? In course not,” said the man.

    “Come, now, go along like a likely, sensible gal, as you are. You’ve arnt your liberty, and you shall have it, for all me.”

    The woman folded her child to her bosom, and walked firmly and swiftly away.

    The man stood and looked after her.

    “Shelby, now, mebbe won’t think this yer the most neighborly thing in the world; but what’s a feller to do? If he catches one of my gals in the same fix, he’s welcome to pay back. Somehow I never could see no kind o’ critter a strivin’ and pantin’, and trying to clar theirselves, with the dogs arter ’em and go agin ’em.

    Besides, I don’t see no kind of ’casion for me to be hunter and catcher for other folks, neither.”

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    So spoke this poor, heathenish Kentuckian, who had not been instructed in his constitutional relations, and consequently was betrayed into acting in a sort of Christianized manner, which, if he had been better situated and more enlightened, he would not have been left to do.

    Haley had stood a perfectly amazed spectator of the scene, till Eliza had disappeared up the bank, when he turned a blank, inquiring look on Sam and Andy.

    “That ar was a tolable fair stroke of business,” said Sam.

    “The gal ’s got seven devils in her, I believe!” said Haley. “How like a wildcat she jumped!”

    “Wal, now,” said Sam, scratching his head, “I hope Mas’r’ll ’scuse us trying dat ar road. Don’t think I feel spry enough for dat ar, no way!” and Sam gave a hoarse chuckle.

    You laugh!” said the trader, with a growl.

    “Lord bless you, Mas’r, I couldn’t help it now,” said Sam, giving way to the long pent-up delight of his soul. “She looked so curi’s, a leapin’ and springin’—ice a crackin’—and only to hear her,—plump! ker chunk! ker splash! Spring! Lord! how she goes it!” and Sam and Andy laughed till the tears rolled down their cheeks.

    “I’ll make ye laugh t’ other side yer mouths!” said the trader, laying about their heads with his riding-whip.

    Both ducked, and ran shouting up the bank, and were on their horses before he was up.

    “Good-evening, Mas’r!” said Sam, with much gravity. “I berry much spect Missis be anxious ’bout Jerry. Mas’r Haley won’t want us no longer. Missis wouldn’t hear of our ridin’ the critters over Lizy’s bridge tonight;” and, with a facetious poke into Andy’s ribs, he started off, followed by the latter, at full speed,—their shouts of laughter coming faintly on the wind.

    Chapter IX

    In Which It Appears That a Senator Is But a Man

    The light of the cheerful fire shone on the rug and carpet of a cosey parlor, and glittered on the sides of the tea-cups and well-brightened tea-pot, as Senator Bird was drawing off his boots, preparatory to inserting his feet in a pair of new handsome slippers, which his wife had been working for him while away on his senatorial tour. Mrs. Bird, looking the very picture of delight, was superintending the arrangements of the table, ever and anon mingling admonitory remarks to a number of frolicsome juveniles, who were effervescing in all those modes of untold gambol and mischief that have astonished mothers ever since the flood.

    “Tom, let the door-knob alone,—there’s a man! Mary! Mary! don’t pull the cat’s tail,—poor pussy! Jim, you mustn’t climb on that table,—no, no!—You don’t know, my dear, what a surprise it is to us all, to see you here tonight!” said she, at last, when she found a space to say something to her husband.

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    “Yes, yes, I thought I’d just make a run down, spend the night, and have a little comfort at home. I’m tired to death, and my head aches!”

    Mrs. Bird cast a glance at a camphor-bottle, which stood in the half-open closet, and appeared to meditate an approach to it, but her husband interposed.

    “No, no, Mary, no doctoring! a cup of your good hot tea, and some of our good home living, is what I want. It’s a tiresome business, this legislating!”

    And the senator smiled, as if he rather liked the idea of considering himself a sacrifice to his country.

    “Well,” said his wife, after the business of the tea-table was getting rather slack,

    “and what have they been doing in the Senate?”

    Now, it was a very unusual thing for gentle little Mrs. Bird ever to trouble her head with what was going on in the house of the state, very wisely considering that she had enough to do to mind her own. Mr. Bird, therefore, opened his eyes in surprise, and said,

    “Not very much of importance.”

    “Well; but is it true that they have been passing a law forbidding people to give meat and drink to those poor colored folks that come along? I heard they were talking of some such law, but I didn’t think any Christian legislature would pass it!”

    “Why, Mary, you are getting to be a politician, all at once.”

    “No, nonsense! I wouldn’t give a fig for all your politics, generally, but I think this is something downright cruel and unchristian. I hope, my dear, no such law has been passed.”

    “There has been a law passed forbidding people to help off the slaves that come over from Kentucky, my dear; so much of that thing has been done by these reckless Abolitionists, that our brethren in Kentucky are very strongly excited, and it seems necessary, and no more than Christian and kind, that something should be done by our state to quiet the excitement.”

    “And what is the law? It don’t forbid us to shelter those poor creatures a night, does it, and to give ’em something comfortable to eat, and a few old clothes, and send them quietly about their business?”

    “Why, yes, my dear; that would be aiding and abetting, you know.”

    Mrs. Bird was a timid, blushing little woman, of about four feet in height, and with mild blue eyes, and a peach-blow complexion, and the gentlest, sweetest voice in the world;—as for courage, a moderate-sized cock-turkey had been known to put her to rout at the very first gobble, and a stout house-dog, of moderate capacity, would bring her into subjection merely by a show of his teeth. Her husband and children were her entire world, and in these she ruled more by entreaty and persuasion than by command or argument. There was only one thing that was capable of arousing her, and that provocation came in on the side of her unusually gentle and sympathetic nature;—anything in the shape of cruelty would throw her into a passion, which was the more alarming and inexplicable in proportion to the general softness of her nature. Generally the most indulgent and easy to be entreated of all mothers, still her boys had a very reverent remembrance of a most Page | 1101

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    vehement chastisement she once bestowed on them, because she found them leagued with several graceless boys of the neighborhood, stoning a defenceless kitten.

    “I’ll tell you what,” Master Bill used to say, “I was scared that time. Mother came at me so that I thought she was crazy, and I was whipped and tumbled off to bed, without any supper, before I could get over wondering what had come about; and, after that, I heard mother crying outside the door, which made me feel worse than all the rest. I’ll tell you what,” he’d say, “we boys never stoned another kitten!”

    On the present occasion, Mrs. Bird rose quickly, with very red cheeks, which quite improved her general appearance, and walked up to her husband, with quite a resolute air, and said, in a determined tone,

    “Now, John, I want to know if you think such a law as that is right and Christian?”

    “You won’t shoot me, now, Mary, if I say I do!”

    “I never could have thought it of you, John; you didn’t vote for it?”

    “Even so, my fair politician.”

    “You ought to be ashamed, John! Poor, homeless, houseless creatures! It’s a shameful, wicked, abominable law, and I’ll break it, for one, the first time I get a chance; and I hope I shall have a chance, I do! Things have got to a pretty pass, if a woman can’t give a warm supper and a bed to poor, starving creatures, just because they are slaves, and have been abused and oppressed all their lives, poor things!”

    “But, Mary, just listen to me. Your feelings are all quite right, dear, and interesting, and I love you for them; but, then, dear, we mustn’t suffer our feelings to run away with our judgment; you must consider it’s a matter of private feeling,—

    there are great public interests involved,—there is such a state of public agitation rising, that we must put aside our private feelings.”

    “Now, John, I don’t know anything about politics, but I can read my Bible; and there I see that I must feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the desolate; and that Bible I mean to follow.”

    “But in cases where your doing so would involve a great public evil—”

    “Obeying God never brings on public evils. I know it can’t. It’s always safest, all round, to do as He bids us.

    “Now, listen to me, Mary, and I can state to you a very clear argument, to show—”

    “O, nonsense, John! you can talk all night, but you wouldn’t do it. I put it to you, John,—would you now turn away a poor, shivering, hungry creature from your door, because he was a runaway? Would you, now?”

    Now, if the truth must be told, our senator had the misfortune to be a man who had a particularly humane and accessible nature, and turning away anybody that was in trouble never had been his forte; and what was worse for him in this particular pinch of the argument was, that his wife knew it, and, of course was making an assault on rather an indefensible point. So he had recourse to the usual means of gaining time for such cases made and provided; he said “ahem,” and coughed several times, took out his pocket-handkerchief, and began to wipe his Page | 1102

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    glasses. Mrs. Bird, seeing the defenceless condition of the enemy’s territory, had no more conscience than to push her advantage.

    “I should like to see you doing that, John—I really should! Turning a woman out of doors in a snowstorm, for instance; or may be you’d take her up and put her in jail, wouldn’t you? You would make a great hand at that!”

    “Of course, it would be a very painful duty,” began Mr. Bird, in a moderate tone.

    “Duty, John! don’t use that word! You know it isn’t a duty—it can’t be a duty!

    If folks want to keep their slaves from running away, let ’em treat ’em well,—that’s my doctrine. If I had slaves (as I hope I never shall have), I’d risk their wanting to run away from me, or you either, John. I tell you folks don’t run away when they are happy; and when they do run, poor creatures! they suffer enough with cold and hunger and fear, without everybody’s turning against them; and, law or no law, I never will, so help me God!”

    “Mary! Mary! My dear, let me reason with you.”

    “I hate reasoning, John,—especially reasoning on such subjects. There’s a way you political folks have of coming round and round a plain right thing; and you don’t believe in it yourselves, when it comes to practice. I know you well enough, John. You don’t believe it’s right any more than I do; and you wouldn’t do it any sooner than I.”

    At this critical juncture, old Cudjoe, the black man-of-all-work, put his head in at the door, and wished “Missis would come into the kitchen;” and our senator, tolerably relieved, looked after his little wife with a whimsical mixture of amusement and vexation, and, seating himself in the arm-chair, began to read the papers.

    After a moment, his wife’s voice was heard at the door, in a quick, earnest tone,—“John! John! I do wish you’d come here, a moment.”

    He laid down his paper, and went into the kitchen, and started, quite amazed at the sight that presented itself:—A young and slender woman, with garments torn and frozen, with one shoe gone, and the stocking torn away from the cut and bleeding foot, was laid back in a deadly swoon upon two chairs. There was the impress of the despised race on her face, yet none could help feeling its mournful and pathetic beauty, while its stony sharpness, its cold, fixed, deathly aspect, struck a solemn chill over him. He drew his breath short, and stood in silence.

    His wife, and their only colored domestic, old Aunt Dinah, were busily engaged in restorative measures; while old Cudjoe had got the boy on his knee, and was busy pulling off his shoes and stockings, and chafing his little cold feet.

    “Sure, now, if she an’t a sight to behold!” said old Dinah, compassionately;

    “‘pears like ’t was the heat that made her faint. She was tol’able peart when she cum in, and asked if she couldn’t warm herself here a spell; and I was just a-askin’

    her where she cum from, and she fainted right down. Never done much hard work, guess, by the looks of her hands.”

    “Poor creature!” said Mrs. Bird, compassionately, as the woman slowly unclosed her large, dark eyes, and looked vacantly at her. Suddenly an expression of agony crossed her face, and she sprang up, saying, “O, my Harry! Have they got him?”

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    The boy, at this, jumped from Cudjoe’s knee, and running to her side put up his arms. “O, he’s here! he’s here!” she exclaimed.

    “O, ma’am!” said she, wildly, to Mrs. Bird, “do protect us! don’t let them get him!”

    “Nobody shall hurt you here, poor woman,” said Mrs. Bird, encouragingly.

    “You are safe; don’t be afraid.”

    “God bless you!” said the woman, covering her face and sobbing; while the little boy, seeing her crying, tried to get into her lap.

    With many gentle and womanly offices, which none knew better how to render than Mrs. Bird, the poor woman was, in time, rendered more calm. A temporary bed was provided for her on the settle, near the fire; and, after a short time, she fell into a heavy slumber, with the child, who seemed no less weary, soundly sleeping on her arm; for the mother resisted, with nervous anxiety, the kindest attempts to take him from her; and, even in sleep, her arm encircled him with an unrelaxing clasp, as if she could not even then be beguiled of her vigilant hold.

    Mr. and Mrs. Bird had gone back to the parlor, where, strange as it may appear, no reference was made, on either side, to the preceding conversation; but Mrs.

    Bird busied herself with her knitting-work, and Mr. Bird pretended to be reading the paper.

    “I wonder who and what she is!” said Mr. Bird, at last, as he laid it down.

    “When she wakes up and feels a little rested, we will see,” said Mrs. Bird.

    “I say, wife!” said Mr. Bird after musing in silence over his newspaper.

    “Well, dear!”

    “She couldn’t wear one of your gowns, could she, by any letting down, or such matter? She seems to be rather larger than you are.”

    A quite perceptible smile glimmered on Mrs. Bird’s face, as she answered,

    “We’ll see.”

    Another pause, and Mr. Bird again broke out,

    “I say, wife!”

    “Well! What now?”

    “Why, there’s that old bombazin cloak, that you keep on purpose to put over me when I take my afternoon’s nap; you might as well give her that,—she needs clothes.”

    At this instant, Dinah looked in to say that the woman was awake, and wanted to see Missis.

    Mr. and Mrs. Bird went into the kitchen, followed by the two eldest boys, the smaller fry having, by this time, been safely disposed of in bed.

    The woman was now sitting up on the settle, by the fire. She was looking steadily into the blaze, with a calm, heart-broken expression, very different from her former agitated wildness.

    “Did you want me?” said Mrs. Bird, in gentle tones. “I hope you feel better now, poor woman!”

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    and fixed them on her with such a forlorn and imploring expression, that the tears came into the little woman’s eyes.

    “You needn’t be afraid of anything; we are friends here, poor woman! Tell me where you came from, and what you want,” said she.

    “I came from Kentucky,” said the woman.

    “When?” said Mr. Bird, taking up the interogatory.

    “Tonight.”

    “How did you come?”

    “I crossed on the ice.”

    “Crossed on the ice!” said every one present.

    “Yes,” said the woman, slowly, “I did. God helping me, I crossed on the ice; for they were behind me—right behind—and there was no other way!”

    “Law, Missis,” said Cudjoe, “the ice is all in broken-up blocks, a swinging and a tetering up and down in the water!”

    “I know it was—I know it!” said she, wildly; “but I did it! I wouldn’t have thought I could,—I didn’t think I should get over, but I didn’t care! I could but die, if I didn’t. The Lord helped me; nobody knows how much the Lord can help ’em, till they try,” said the woman, with a flashing eye.

    “Were you a slave?” said Mr. Bird.

    “Yes, sir; I belonged to a man in Kentucky.”

    “Was he unkind to you?”

    “No, sir; he was a good master.”

    “And was your mistress unkind to you?”

    “No, sir—no! my mistress was always good to me.”

    “What could induce you to leave a good home, then, and run away, and go through such dangers?”

    The woman looked up at Mrs. Bird, with a keen, scrutinizing glance, and it did not escape her that she was dressed in deep mourning.

    “Ma’am,” she said, suddenly, “have you ever lost a child?”

    The question was unexpected, and it was thrust on a new wound; for it was only a month since a darling child of the family had been laid in the grave.

    Mr. Bird turned around and walked to the window, and Mrs. Bird burst into tears; but, recovering her voice, she said,

    “Why do you ask that? I have lost a little one.”

    “Then you will feel for me. I have lost two, one after another,—left ’em buried there when I came away; and I had only this one left. I never slept a night without him; he was all I had. He was my comfort and pride, day and night; and, ma’am, they were going to take him away from me,—to sell him,—sell him down south, ma’am, to go all alone,—a baby that had never been away from his mother in his life! I couldn’t stand it, ma’am. I knew I never should be good for anything, if they did; and when I knew the papers the papers were signed, and he was sold, I took him and came off in the night; and they chased me,—the man that bought him, and some of Mas’r’s folks,—and they were coming down right behind me, and I heard Page | 1105

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    ’em. I jumped right on to the ice; and how I got across, I don’t know,—but, first I knew, a man was helping me up the bank.”

    The woman did not sob nor weep. She had gone to a place where tears are dry; but every one around her was, in some way characteristic of themselves, showing signs of hearty sympathy.

    The two little boys, after a desperate rummaging in their pockets, in search of those pocket-handkerchiefs which mothers know are never to be found there, had thrown themselves disconsolately into the skirts of their mother’s gown, where they were sobbing, and wiping their eyes and noses, to their hearts’ content;—Mrs.

    Bird had her face fairly hidden in her pocket-handkerchief; and old Dinah, with tears streaming down her black, honest face, was ejaculating, “Lord have mercy on us!” with all the fervor of a camp-meeting;—while old Cudjoe, rubbing his eyes very hard with his cuffs, and making a most uncommon variety of wry faces, occasionally responded in the same key, with great fervor. Our senator was a statesman, and of course could not be expected to cry, like other mortals; and so he turned his back to the company, and looked out of the window, and seemed particularly busy in clearing his throat and wiping his spectacle-glasses, occasionally blowing his nose in a manner that was calculated to excite suspicion, had any one been in a state to observe critically.

    “How came you to tell me you had a kind master?” he suddenly exclaimed, gulping down very resolutely some kind of rising in his throat, and turning suddenly round upon the woman.

    “Because he was a kind master; I’ll say that of him, any way;—and my mistress was kind; but they couldn’t help themselves. They were owing money; and there was some way, I can’t tell how, that a man had a hold on them, and they were obliged to give him his will. I listened, and heard him telling mistress that, and she begging and pleading for me,—and he told her he couldn’t help himself, and that the papers were all drawn;—and then it was I took him and left my home, and came away. I knew ’t was no use of my trying to live, if they did it; for ’t ’pears like this child is all I have.”

    “Have you no husband?”

    “Yes, but he belongs to another man. His master is real hard to him, and won’t let him come to see me, hardly ever; and he’s grown harder and harder upon us, and he threatens to sell him down south;—it’s like I’ll never see him again!”

    The quiet tone in which the woman pronounced these words might have led a superficial observer to think that she was entirely apathetic; but there was a calm, settled depth of anguish in her large, dark eye, that spoke of something far otherwise.

    “And where do you mean to go, my poor woman?” said Mrs. Bird.

    “To Canada, if I only knew where that was. Is it very far off, is Canada?” said she, looking up, with a simple, confiding air, to Mrs. Bird’s face.

    “Poor thing!” said Mrs. Bird, involuntarily.

    “Is ’t a very great way off, think?” said the woman, earnestly.

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    “Much further than you think, poor child!” said Mrs. Bird; “but we will try to think what can be done for you. Here, Dinah, make her up a bed in your own room, close by the kitchen, and I’ll think what to do for her in the morning. Meanwhile, never fear, poor woman; put your trust in God; he will protect you.”

    Mrs. Bird and her husband reentered the parlor. She sat down in her little rocking-chair before the fire, swaying thoughtfully to and fro. Mr. Bird strode up and down the room, grumbling to himself, “Pish! pshaw! confounded awkward business!” At length, striding up to his wife, he said,

    “I say, wife, she’ll have to get away from here, this very night. That fellow will be down on the scent bright and early tomorrow morning: if ’t was only the woman, she could lie quiet till it was over; but that little chap can’t be kept still by a troop of horse and foot, I’ll warrant me; he’ll bring it all out, popping his head out of some window or door. A pretty kettle of fish it would be for me, too, to be caught with them both here, just now! No; they’ll have to be got off tonight.”

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