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SHARPENING body in the room, with one single exception, is charmed and delighted; and that little Miss Cann herself creeps up the stairs, and stands with Mrs. Ridley at the door to listen to the music.
Miss She nick looks doubly handsome as she sings. Clive Newcomeis in a rapture; so is goodnatured Miss Rosey, whose little heart beats with pleasure, and who says quite unaffectedly to Miss Sherrick, with delight and gratitude beaming from her blue eyes, "Why did you ask me to sing, when you sing so wonderfully, so beautifully yourself? Do not leave the piano, please; dosing again." And she puts out a kind little hand toward the superior artist, and, blushing, leads her back to the instrument. "I'm sure me and Emily will sing for you as much as you like, dear," says Mrs. Sherrick, nodding to Rosey good-naturedly. Mrs. Mackenzie, who has been biting her lips and drumming the time on a side-table, forgets at last the pain of being vanquished, in admiration of the conquerors. "It was cruel of you not to tell us, Mr. Honeyman," she says, "of the—of the treat you had in store for us. I had no idea we were going to meet professional people; Mrs. Sherrick's singing is indeed beautiful."
'' If you come up to our place in the Regent's Park, Mr Neweome," Mr. Sherrick says, "Mrs. S. and Emily will give you as many songs as you like. How do you like the house in Fitzroy Square? Any thing wanting doing thcro! I'm a good landlord to a good tenant. Don't care what I spend on my houses. Lose by 'em sometimes. Name a day when you'll come to us; and I'll ask some good fellows to meet you. Your father and Mr. Binnie came once. That was when you were a young chap. They didn't have a bad evening, I believe. You just come and try us—I can give you as good a glass of wine as most, I think," and he smiles, perhaps thinking of the champagne which Mr. Warrington had slighted. "I've ad the close carriage for my wife this evening," he continues, looking out of window at a very handsome brougham which has just drawn up there. "That little pair of horses steps prettily together, don't they? Fond of horses! I know you are. See you in the park; and going by our house sometimes. The Colonel sits a horse uncommonly well: so do you, Mr. Newcome. I've often said, 'Why don't they get off their horses and say, Sherrick, we're come for a bit of lunch and a glass of sherry V Name a day. Sir. Mr. P., will you be in it?"
Clive Neweome named a day, and told his father of the circumstance in the evening. The Colonel looked grave. "There was something which I did not quite like about Mr. Sherrick," said that acute observer of human nature. "It was easy to see that the man is not quite a gentleman. I don't care what a man's trade is, Clive. Indeed, who are we, to give ourselves airs upon that subject? But when I am gone, my boy, and there is nobody near you who knows the world as I do, you may fall into designing hands, and rogues may lead you into mischief: keep a sharp look out, Clive. Mr. Pendennis, here, knows that there are designing fellows abroad" (and the dear
THE SCYTHE. 73old gentleman gives a very knowing nod as he speaks). "When I am gone, keep the lad from harm's way, Pendennis. Meanwhile Mr. Sherrick has been a very good and obliging landlord; and a man who sells wine may certainly give a friend a bottle. I am glad you had a pleasant evening, boys. Ladies! I hope you have had a pleasant afternoon. Miss Rosey, you are conic back to make tea for the old gentlemen I James begins to get about briskly now. He walked to Hanover Square, Mrs. Mackenzie, without hurting his ankle in the least."
"I'm almost sorry that he is getting well," says Mrs. Mackenzie, sincerely. "He won't want us when he is quite cured."
"Indeed, my dear creature !" cries the Colonel, taking her pretty hand and kissing it. "He will want you, and he shall want you. James no more knows the world than Miss Rosey here; and if I had not been with him, would have been perfectly unable to take care of himself. When I am gone to India, somebody must stay with him; and— and my boy must have a home to go to," says the kind soldier, his voice dropping. "I had been in hopes that his own relatives would have received him more; but never mind about that," he cried more cheerfully. "Why, I may not be absent a year! perhaps need not go at all—I am second for promotion. A couple of our old generals may drop any day; and when I get my regiment I come back to stay, to live at home. Meantime, while I am gone, my dear lady, you will take care of James; and you will be kind to my boy!"
"That I will!" said the widow, radiant with pleasure, and she took one of dive's hands and pressed it for an instant; and from Clive's father's kind face there beamed out that benediction, which always made his countenance appear to me among the most beautiful of human faces.
SHARPENING THE SCYTHE.
IN the heart of a high table-land that overlooks many square leagues of the rich scenery of Devonshire, the best scythe-stone is found. The whole face of the enormous cliff in which it is contained is honeycombed with minute quarries; half-way down there is a wagon road, entirely formed of the sand cast out from them. To walk along that vast soft terrace on a July evening is to enjoy one of the most delightful scenes in England. Forests of fir rise overhead like cloud on cloud; through openings of these there peeps the purple moorland stretching far southward to the Roman Camp, and barrows from which spears and skulls are dug continually. Whatever may be underground, it is all soft and bright above, with heath and wild flowers, about which a breeze will linger in the hottest noon. Down to the sand road the breeze does not come; there we may walk in calm, and only see that it is quivering among the topmost trees. From the camp the Atlantic can be seen, but from the sand road the view is more limited, though many a bay and headland far beneath show where the ocean of a past age rolled. Fossils and shells are almost as plentiful within the cliff a* tho scythe-stone itself, and wondrous bones of extinct animals are often brought to light.
All day long, summer and winter, in the sombre fir-groves may be heard the stroke of the spade and the click of the hammer; a hundred men are at work like bees upon the cliff, each in his own cell of the great honeycomb, his private passage. The right to dig in his own burrow each of these men has purchased for a trifling sum, and he toils in it daily. Though it is a narrow space, in which he is not able to stand upright, and can scarcely turn—though the air in it that he breathes is damp and deadly—though the color in his cheek is commonly the hectic of consumption, and he has a cough that never leaves him night or day—though he will himself remark that he does not know among his neighbors one old man—and though, all marrying early, few ever see a father with his grown-up son, yet, for all this, the scythe-stone cutter works in his accustomed way, and lives his short life merrily, that is to say, he drinks down any sense or care that he might have. These poor men are almost without exception sickly drunkards. The women of this community are not much healthier. It is their task to cut and shape the rough-hewn stone into those pieces wherewith "the mower whets his scythe." The thin particles of dust that escape during this process are very pernicious to the lungs; but, as usual, it is found impossible to help the ignorant sufferers by any thing in the form of an idea from without; a number of masks and respirators have been more than once provided for them by the charity of the neighboring gentry, but scarcely one woman has given them her countenance.
The short life of the scythe-stone cutter is also always liable to be abruptly ended. Safety requires that fir-poles from the neighboring wood should be driven in one by one on either side of him, and a third flat stake be laid across to make the walls and roof safe, as the digger pushes his long burrow forward. Cheap as these fir-poles are, they arc too often dispensed with. There is scarcely one of the hundred mined entrances of disused caverns here to be seen, through which some crushed or suffocated workman has not been brought out dead. The case is common. A man can not pay the trifle that is necessary to buy fir-poles for the support of his cell walls; the consequence is, that sooner or later, it must almost inevitably happen that one stroke of the pickax shall produce a fall of sand behind him, and set an impassable barrier between him and the world without. It will then be to little purpose that another may be working near him, prompt to give the alarm and get assistance; tons upon tons of heavy sand divide the victim from the rescuers, and they must prop and roof their way at every step, lest they too perish. Such accidents are therefore mostly fatal; if the man was not at once crushed by a fall of sand upon him, he has been cut off from the outer air, and suffocated in his narrow worm-hole. Whiteknights is a small village at the foot of this cliff, inhabited almost entirely by persons following
this scythe-stone trade. The few agricultural laborers there to be met with may be distinguished at a glance from their brethren of the pits; the bronzed cheeks from the hectic, the muscular frames from the bodies which disease has weakened, and which dissipation helps to a more swift decay. The cottages are not ill-built, and generally stand detached in a small garden; thenlittle porches may be seen of an evening thronged with dirty pretty children, helping father outside his cavern by carrying the stone away in little baskets, as he brings it out to them.
Beside the Luta rivulet, which has pleasanter nooks, more flowery banks, and falls more musical than any stream in Devon; beside this brook, and parted by a little wood of beeches and wild laurel from the village, is a very pearl of cottages. Honeysuckle, red-rose, and sweet-briar hold it entangled in a fragrant net-work; they fall over the little windows, making twilight at midnoon, yet nobody has ever thought of cutting them away or tying up a single tendril. Grandfather Markham and his daughter Alice, with John Drewit, her husband and master of the house, used to live there, and they had three little children, Jane, Henry, and Joe.
A little room over the porch was especially neat. It was the best room in the cottage, and therein was lodged old Markham, who had, so far as the means of his children went, the best of board as well. He was not a very old man, but looked ten years older than he was, and his hand shook through an infirmity more grievous than age. He was a gin-drinker. John Drrwit had to work very hard to keep not only his own household in food and clothing, but also his poor old father-in-law in drink.
John was a hale young man when first I knew him, but he soon began to alter. As soon as it was light he was away to the sand-cliff by a pleasant winding path through the beechwood and up the steps which his own spade had cut. One or two of them he had made broader than the rest, at intervals, where one might willingly sit down to survey the glory spread beneath; the low, white, straw-thatched farms gleaming like light among the pasture-lands, the little towns each with its shining river, and the great old city in the hazy distance; the high beacon hills, the woods, and far as eye could see, the mist that hung over the immense Atlantic. This resting on the upward path, at first a pleasure, became soon a matter of necessity, and that, too, long before the cough had settled down upon him; few men in Whiteknights have their lungs so whole that they can climb up to their pits without a halt or two.
The old man helped his son-in-law sometimes; he was a good sort of old man by nature, and not a bit more selfish than a drunkard always must be. He ground the rough stones into shape at home, minded the children in his daughter's absence, and even used the pick himself when he was sober. John, too, was for his wife's sake tolerant of the old man's infirmity, though half his little earnings went to gratify the old man't SHARPENING
appetite. At last necessity compelled him to be, as he thought, undutiful. Print after print vanished i ro.u the cottage walls, every little ornament, not actually necessary furniture, was sold: absolute want threatened the household, when John at last stated firmly, though tenderly, that grandfather must give up the gin-bottle or find some other dwelling. Alice was overcome with tears, but when appealed to by the old man, pointed to her dear husband, and bowed her head to his wise words.
For two months after this time, there were no more drunken words nor angry tongues to be heard within John's pleasant cottage. Nothing was said by daughter or by son-in-law of the long score at the publie-house that was being paid off by instalments; the daughter looked no longer at her father with reproachful eyes, and the children never again had to be taken to bed before their time—hurried away from the sight of their grandfather's shame. At last, however, on one Sunday evening in July, the ruling passion had again the mastery; Markham came home in a worse state than ever; and in addition to the usual debasement, it was evident that he was possessed also by some maudlin terror, that he had no power to express.
Leaving him on his bed in a lethargic sleep, John sallied forth as usual at dawn; his boys, Harry and Joe, carrying up for him his miner's spade and basket. Heavy-hearted as he was, he could not help being gladdened by the wonderful beauty of the landscape. His daughter told me that she never saw him stand so long looking at the country—he seemed unwillingly to leave the sunlight for his dark, far-winding burrow. His burrow he had no reason to dread. Poverty never had pressed so hard upon John Drewit as to induce him to sell away the fir-props that assured the safety of his life. Often and often had his voice been loud against those men, who, knowing of the mortal danger to which they exposed their neighbors, gave drink or money in exchange for them to the foolhardy and vicious. Great, therefore, was his horror when he went into his cave that morning, and found that his own props had been removed. They had not been taken from the entrance, where a passer-by might have observed their absence; all was right for the first twenty yards, but beyond that distance down to the end of his long toil-worn labyrinth every pole was stripped away. Surely he knew at once that it was not an enemy who had done this; he knew that the wretched old man who lay stupefied at home, had stolen and sold his life defense for drink. All that the poor fellow told his boys was that they should keep within the safe part of the digging while he himself worked on into the rock as usual. Three or four times he brought out a heap of scythe-stones in his basket, and then he was seen alive no more.
Harry, his eldest son, was nearest to the unpropped passage when the sand cliff fell. When he heard his father call out suddenly, he ran at once eagerly, running toward the candle by which the miner worked, but on a sudden all was dark;
THE SCYTHE. 76there was no light from candle or from sun— before and behind was utter blackness, and there was a noise like thunder in his ears. The whole hill seemed to have fallen upon them both, and many tons of earth parted the father from his child. The sand about the boy did not press on him closely. A heavy piece of cliff that held together was supported by the narrow walls of the passage, and his fate was undetermined. He attended only to the muffled sounds within the rock, from which he knew that his father, though they might be the sounds of his death struggle, still lived.
To the people outside the alarm had instantly been given by the other child, and in an incredibly short space of time the laborers from field and cave came hurrying up to the rescue. Two only could dig together, two more propped the way behind them foot by foot; relays eagerly waited at the entrance; and not an instant was lost in replacing the exhausted workmen. Every thing was done as quickly, and, at the same time, as judiciously as possible; the surgeon had at the first been ridden for, at full speed, to the neighboring town; brandy and other stimulants, a rude lancet—with which many of the men were but too well practiced operators—bandages and blankets were all placed ready at hand: for the disaster was so common at Whiteknights that every man at once knew what was proper to be done. Thosowho were not actively engaged about the cave, were busy in the construction of a litter— perhaps a bier—for the unhappy victims.
How this could have happened! was the whispered wonder. John was known to be far too prudent a man to have been working without props, and yet fresh ones had to be supplied to the rescuers, for they found none as they advanced. The poor widow—every moment made more sure of her bereavement—stood a little way aside; having begged for a spade and been refused, she stood with her two children hanging to her apron, staring fixedly at the pit's mouth.
Down at the cottage there was an old man invoking Heaven's vengeance on his own gray head and reproaching himself fiercely with the consequences of his brutal vice; he had stolen the poles from his son's pit on the previous morning, to provide himself with drink; and on that very day, even before he was quite recovered from his yesterday's debauch, he was to see the victim of his recklessness brought home a lifeless heap. He saw John so brought in, but with the eyes of a madman; his brain, weakened by drunkenness, never recovered from that shock.
Basket and barrow had been brought full out of the pit a hundred times; and it was almost noon before, from the bowels of the very mountain as it seemed, there came up a low moaning cry. "My child, my child," murmured the mother: and the digging became straightway even yet more earnest, almost frantic in its speed and violence. Presently into the arms of Alice little Harry was delivered, pale and corpse-like, but alive; and then a shout as of an army was set up by all the men.
They dug on until after sunset—long after they had lost all hope of finding John alive. His body was at last found. It was placed upon the litter, and taken, under the soft evening sky, down through the beech wood home. Alice walked by its side, holding its hand in hers, speechless, and with dry eyes. She never knew until after her father's death, how her dear John was murdered. She used to wonder why the old man shrank from her when she visited him, as she often did, in his confinement. The poor widow is living now, though she has suffered grief and want. Her daughter Jane has married a field laborer, and her sons, by whom she is now well supported, have never set foot in a pit since they lost their father.
RIGHTS AND WRONGS OF WOMEN. 0 one denies the fact that women have wrongs; we wrangle only over the alphabet of amelioration. Some advocate her being unsexed as the best means of doing her justice; others propose her intellectual annihilation, and the further suppression of her individuality, on the homoeopathic principle of giving as a cure the cause of the disease.
How few open the golden gates which lead to the middle Sacred Way, whose stillness offends the noisy, and whose retirement disgusts the restless; the middle path of a noble, unpretending, redeeming, domestic, usefulness: stretching out from Home, like the rays of a beautiful star, all over the world! Vet hero have walked the holy women of all ages; a long line of saints and heroines; whose virtues have influenced countless generations, and who have done more for the advancement of humanity than all the Public Functionists together. Not that the comparison bespeaks much, or is worthy of the sacred Truth.
A word with ye, 0 Public Functionists—ye damagers of a good cause by loading it with ridicule—ye assassins of truth by burying it beneath exaggeration! A woman such as ye would make her—teaching, preaching, voting, judging, commanding a man-of-war, and charging at the head of a battalion—would be simply an amorphous monster, not worth the little finger of the wife we would all secure if we could, the taeens ct placcus uxor, the gentle helpmeet of our burdens, the soother of our sorrows, and the enhancer of our joys! Imagine a follower of a certain Miss Betsy Millar, who for twelve years commanded the Scotch brig, Cloetus—imagine such an one at the head of one's table, with homy hands covered with fiery red scars and blackened with tar, her voice hoarse and cracked, her skin tanned and hardened, her language seasoned with nautical allusions and quarter-deck imagery, and her gait and step the rollicking roll of a bluff Jack-tar. She might be very estimable as a human being, honorable, brave, and generous, but she would not be a woman: she would not fulfill one condition of womanhood, and therefore she would be unfit and imperfect, unsuited to her place and unequal to her functions. What man
(moderately sane) would prefer a woman who had been a sea captain ten or twelve years, to the most ordinary of piano-playing and flower-painting young ladies? Mindless as the one might be, the rough practicality of the other would be worse; and helpless as fashionable education makes young ladies, Heaven defend us from the virile energy of a race of Betsy Millars! Yet one philosopher has actually been found, who has had the moral courage to quote this lady's career as a proof that women are fitted by nature for offices which men have always assumed to themselves, and that it would be a wise, and healthful, and a natural state of society which should man brigs with boarding-school girls, and appoint emancipated females as their commanders. We wish Mr. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the heroic champion of Betsy Millar, no worse fate than to marry one of his favorite sea captainesses.
In the Utopia that is to come, women are to be voters, barristers, members of congress, and judges. They are to rush to the polling-booth, and mount the hustings, defiant of brickbats and careless of eggs and cabbages. They arc to mingle with the passions and violences of men by way of asserting their equality, and to take part in their vices by way of gaining their rights. They are to be barristers, too, with real blue bags, pleading for murderers and sifting the evidence of divorce cases; offices, no doubt, highly conducive to their moral advancement and the maintenance of their purity, but such as we, being of the old-fashioned and eminently unenlightened school, would rather not see our wives or daughters engaged in. Of doctoresses we will say nothing. The care and the cure of the sick belong to women, as do all things gentle and loving. And though we can scarcely reconcile it with our present notions of the fitness of things, that a gentlewoman of refinement and delicacy should frequent dissecting-rooms among the crowd of young students, and cut up dead bodies and living ones as her mother cut out baby-clothes, yet the care of the sick is so holy a duty, that if these terrible means are necessary, they arc sanctified by the end, and God prosper those who undertake them! But they are not necessary. Women are better as medical assistants than as independent practitioners; their services are more valuable when obeying than when originating orders; and as nurses they do more good than as doctors. Besides, it would be rather an inconvenient profession at times. A handsome woman, under forty—or over it—would be a dangerous doctor for most men; and as specialities in medicine are quackeries, it would be humbug and affectation to shrink from any cases. For, admitting the principle that woman's mission—at least one of them—is to doctor, it must be extended in practice to all alike. And we may imagine various circumstances in which a young doctress would be somewhat embarrassing, if not embarrassed; yet what are we to do when all the doctors are driven out of the field, and we have no choice left us! And if women are to be our doctors, will they be only old women, and ugly ones—will there never be bright eyes or dimpled cheeks among them 1 It might be very delightful to be cured by a beautiful young woman, instead of by a crabbed old man, yet for prudence sake we should recommend most wires and mothers to send for the crabbed old man when their sons and husbands are ill, and to be particularly cautious of feminine M. D.'s in general.
One or two points of human nature the Public Functionists and emancipated women either sink or pervert. The instincts above all. The instinct of protection in man and the instinct of dependence in woman they decline to know any thing about; they see nothing sacred in the fact of maternity, no fulfillment of natural destiny in marriage, and they find no sanctifying power in the grace of self-sacrifice. These arc in their eyes the causes of woman's degradation. To be equal with man, she must join in the strife with him, wrestle for the distinctions, and scramble for the good places. She must no longer stand in the shade apart, shedding the blessing of peace and and calmness on the combatants, when they return home heated and weary, but she must be out in the blazing sun, toiling and fighting too, and marking every victory by the grave-stone of some dear virtue, canonized since the world began. Homes deserted, children—the most solemn responsibility of all—given to a stranger's hand, modesty, unselfishness, patience, obedience, endurance, all that has made angels of humanity must be trampled under foot, while the Emancipated Woman walks proudly forward to the goal of the glittering honors of public life, her true honors lying crushed beneath her, unnoticed. This these noisy gentry think will elevate woman.
Women have grave legal and social wrongs, but will this absurd advocacy of exaggeration remedy theml The laws which deny the individuality of a wife, under the shallow pretense of a legal lie; which award different punishments for the same vice; the laws which class women with infants and idiots, and which recognize principles they neither extend nor act on; these are the real and substantial Wrongs of Women, which will not, however, be amended by making them commanders in the navy or judges on the bench. To fling them into the thick of the strife would be but to teach them the egotism and hardness, the grasping selfishness, and the vain-glory of men, which it has been their mission, since the world began, to repress, to elevate, to soften, and to purify. Give woman public functions, and you destroy the very springs of her influence. For her influence is, and must be, moral more than intellectual—intellectual only as filtering through the moral nature; and if you destroy the moral nature, if you weaken its virtues and sully its holiness, what of power or influence remains 1 She will gain place and lose power; she will gain honors and lose virtues, when she has pushed her father or her son to the wall, and usurped the seats consecrated by nature Vol. IX.—No. 49 —F
to them alone. Yes, by nature; in spite of the denial of the Public Functionists. Her flaccid muscles, tender skin, highly nervous organization, and aptitude for internal injury, decide the question of offices involving hard bodily labor; while the predominance of instinct over reason, and of feeling over intellect, as a rule, unfits her for judicial or legislative command. Her power is essentially a silent and unseen moral influence; her functions are those of a wife and mother. The emancipatists rate these functions very lightly, compared with the duty and delight of hauling in main-top-sails or speechifying at an election. They seem to regard the maternal race as a race apart, a kind of necessary cattle, just to keep up the stock; and even of these natural drudges the most gifted souls may give up their children to the care of others, as queen-bees give their young to the workers. Yet no woman who does her duty faithfully to her husband and children, will fmd her time unemployed, or her life incomplete. The education of her children alone would sufficiently employ any true-hearted woman; for education is not a matter of school-hours, but of that subtle influence of example which makes every moment a seed-time of future good or ill. And the woman who is too gifted, too intellectual, to find scope for her mind and heart in the education of her child, who pants for a more important work than the training of an immortal soul, who prefers quarter-decks and pulpits to a still home and a school-desk, is not a sea-captain, nor a preacher by mission—she is simply not a woman. She is a natural blunder, a mere unfinished sketch; fit neither for quarter-decks nor for home, able neither to command men nor to educate children.
But the true Woman, for whose ambition a husband's love and her children's adoration are sufficient, who applies her military instincts to the discipline of her household, and wnose legislative faculties exercise themselves in making laws for her nursery; whose intellect has field enough for her in communion with her husband, and whose heart asks no other honors than his love and admiration; a woman who does not think it a weakness to attend to her toilette, and who does not disdain to be beautiful; who believes in the virtue of glossy hair and well-fitting gowns, and who eschews rents and raveled edges, slipshod shoes, and audacious make-ups; a woman who speaks low and who does not speak much; who is patient and gentle, and intellectual and industrious; who loves more than she reasons, and yet does not love blindly; who never scolds, and rarely argues, but who rebukes with a caress, and adjusts with a smile: a woman who is the wife we all have dreamt of once in our lives, and who is the mother we still worship in the backward distance of the past: such a woman as this does more for human nature, and more for woman's cause, than all the sea-captains, judges, barristers, and members of parliament put together—God-given and God-blessed as she is! If such a wife as this has leisure which she wishes to employ actively, he will always find