I HAVE been trying to aid some friends who are delighting themselves with making a collection of old pewter, and I must confess that, after having laughed a good deal at first at such an unromantic fancy as this, I have become much interested in the old platters and bowls myself. I have been taught to recognize the dignity of the time-worn color and shape of old English and colonial ware, and to be disdainful of modern Britannia metal. It is a humbler sort of china craze, but its interest lies, with me, in its bringing the collector into contact with a different phase of life among New England country people. It carries one back, not to the sanctity of the parlor china-closet and the ceremony attendant upon having company, but to the homely every-day living ; to the time of wide open fire-places and kitchen dressers, where the pewter plates shone like silver in bright array upon the shelves ; to the time when one great platter in the middle of the farmer’s dinner-table held the various ingredients of a boiled dish, or the pork and beans, unflanked by side dishes, except potatoes, and unfollowed by dessert. In the early New England days wooden ware was in far more common use than would be supposed, and a handsome set of pewter was an enviable possession. As for china, any amount of that betokened unusual prosperity. There was very little money in the farming districts of New England for many years, and numerous persons live in vastly more comfortable fashion now on the same land which gave their ancestors a bare living fifty years ago. We can have no idea what a serious thing it was in the last century, or early in this present one, to undertake any new expense ; for instance, sending a boy to college. To raise an extra two or three hundred a year meant that the men and women both should drudge early and late, and deny themselves most cruelly. Any one who looks closely at the signs that are left us of the pewter-plateage in Massachusetts will find much that is interesting, and he may discover in the fields the nameless graves of many a hero and heroine, unmarked except by a rough lichened stone gathered from the abundant harvest of the soil. The building of so many mills and the rapid growth of the manufacturing villages have afforded better markets; and beside the money that the young people have earned and brought home, the income of the farms has been made larger year by year, and the farm-houses and the way of living in them have steadily grown more comfortable.
The pewter was not all melted into bullets wherewith to fight our foes, but it is fast disappearing in other ways, and my friends’ collection may come to be in time most precious. They can tell some amusing stories, as all collectors can, about their securing the chief prizes. The beer-mug, with its clanking cover and many dents and the portraits of William and Mary on its side, came from a charmingly quaint house near the sea; and they like to remember the droll gossip with which a shrewd and merry old woman entertained them one showery afternoon, when they were weather-bound in her house, at last hunting out from the upper-shelf rubbish of her store closet the dearest of their many ancient bowls. She told them how her elbows used to ache in the days when her grandmother (who was a splendid housekeeper, and who brought her up) used to have the pewter scoured. They had to be very careful not to scratch it; and indeed there seems to be a general feeling of relief that the ware has gone out of fashion, it was so hard to keep it looking as it ought. At any rate, the proper care of pewter is a lost art, I fear ; the great platters were one by one gathered to their rest by the tin-peddlers when pewter was high in the war-time, and the little plates have been melted on the stoves by careless cooks.
The peddlers are the men to buy it from : it was not long ago that I found a treasure in this way for my friends,— part of an old communion service which had been used for a great many years in a country church. I suppose that parish rose in the world to the dignity of using plated silver, and this was sold after a while for a few cents a pound, and was thrown among old metal in the store-house of a tin-shop, whence it was brought to me. Old pewter seems to belong only to kitchens and ale-houses, and to the practical side of life ; it was strange to see it fashioned into such a shape as this, and put to such a use. It seemed like sacrilege ; there was something most pathetic about the dingy, worn old leaden cups to me, and I could not help remembering to what sorrowful lips they had been held for comfort, and what a part they had taken in stories that will never be written or told, — in tragedies of despair and fear, of doubt and pain. They seemed to me, as they had to so many before me, a visible link with the mystical and immortal. I handled them reverently, for a certain awe and sacredness still clung to them ; their plainness and poverty thrilled me through and through.
— Mr. Gay, in his lucid article on When did the Pilgrim Fathers Land at Plymouth ? seems to have overlooked a fact of some importance. The New England Society of New York eats its annual dinner on the 22d of December, following the date fixed upon by the Old Colony Club of Plymouth in 1769. The question is this : How came the Old Colony Club to make the mistake — if it be a mistake — of celebrating on the 22d instead of the 21st? Mr. Gay seems to imply that “ the antiquary of the Old Colony Club ” must have been “a careless reader,” who was misled by the use of a comma instead of a semicolon, in the narrative of Mourt’s Relation. I should not like to say that the gentleman referred to was not a careless reader, although antiquaries are not generally such. Even if he never had an existence outside of Mr. Gay’s fancy, it is hardly fair to reflect on so venerable a shade when a better and more ingenious reason than carelessness or dullness can be given for his choice of dates. Mr. Gay writes thus: “Judge Davis’s suggestion was that the mistake was made by adding eleven days instead of ten to December 11th, Old Style, to make it conform to New Style. But as the Gregorian calendar had been only a few years before adopted by England, it seems incredible that the principal citizens of one of the chief towns of the best educated colony in America could have made such a blunder. Such men could hardly have failed to understand why the Gregorian calendar was adopted, and that to change Old Style into New, ten days only should be added to the day of the month in the seventeenth century.” Nevertheless, Judge Davis’s suggestion was in all probability the correct one. When the bill for the reform of the calendar was introduced into Parliament in 1751, Lord Macclesfield said, “ The same day which, in each month, is with us the first is called the twelfth day of the month throughout almost all the other parts of Europe ; and, in like manner, through all the other days of the month we are just eleven days behind them.” This error of eleven days in the Julian calendar was rectified by the enactment that the year should henceforth commence on the first day of January, and that the day after the 2d of September, 1752, should be called the 14th, — not the 13th. What, then, is less incredible, and was more likely, than that “ the principal citizens of one of the chief towns of the best educated colony in America ” should follow the fashion, not of Paris, by taking off ten days, but of London, by taking off eleven ? And if this was a blunder, our friend the antiquary could sue for grace with a lighter conscience than ourselves.
— As different orders of the classic column are distinguished by the peculiar ornament, so we may, if we please, distinguish the architecture of “lofty verse ” by the kind and amount of verbal decoration which it carries, as we11 as by the intrinsic idea and purely musical quality. He would, perhaps, be taking too low a ground of criticism who would claim that poetry is to be differentiated by its adjectives ; and yet there would be some justice in his theory, since, above every other class of words, it is the adjective which gives color to the language, whether spoken or written. It might be demonstrated, in this line, that the epic, lyric, and didactic schools have each a distinctive palette, and even that the various prosodic forms have their chosen and recurring adjectives, syllabically assorted. As a rule, the heroic measure looks out for commodious adjectives of one or two syllables; letting alone, if discreet, those of three, which have to be pronounced either with undue stress upon the final syllable, or slightingly as regards the penult. On the other hand, every experimenter with dactylic or anapestic forms knows how pat and trippingly these same trisyllables come to the rescue. Take, for example, this line from Mr. Swinburne’s melodious hexameters : —
happy, memorial places.”
We might instance the adjectives of Homer, but what would be the use, when we know, beforehand, that the sea is “ many-sounding,” that the best worthy of Troy will be depicted as “ crest-
waving,” and that every Greek will be “ curl-haired ” and “ well-greaved,” Hera “ white-armed,” and Pallas “ blue-eyed ” (or “ gray-eyed,” if the intellectual cast please you better) ? Let us, instead, sample the adjectives of Milton, and in doing so taste a reminiscence of Dante. Here, in the sly language of Moth, we seem to have come to a “ great feast of languages,” wherefrom we may profitaably “ steal the scraps.” Nowhere else may one imbibe so much of the “sciential sap ” of classic learning and nomenclature : innumerable proper adjectives, and adjectives of geographical description ; rich words, that, standing alone, are both poetry and painting. Such are, “ Etrurian shades,” “ Iberian fields,” “ Serbonian bogs,” “ Sabean odors,” “ Atlantean shoulders,” “ Memnonian palace,” “ rich Cathaian coast,” “ the Black-moor Sea,” “ the starred Ethiop queen,” and others equally opulent, from this gold-coining mint of epic verse. Many an impecunious and untraveled muse has been enriched by this free-circulating currency, if the truth were told.
We would also take note of a singular class of adjectives continually recurring in the poetry of Shelley. These may be termed adjectives of negation or privation, and suggest having been transplanted from the Greek. The following phrases will serve as specimens : “ unascended majesty,” “ uncommunicating dead,” “ untransmitted torch of hope,” “ unpavilioned sky.” Add to this class such cumbrous polysyllables as “ intertranspicuous,” “ circumfluous,” “ semivital,” “ superincumbent,” “ amphisbænic,” etc. Here is a single passage from Prometheus Unbound which well illustrates the adjective repertory of the poet of the “ white ideal : ” —
Trampling the torrent streams and glassy lakes
With feet unwet, unwearied, undelaying,
And up the green ravine, across the vale,
Beside the windless and crystalline pool,
Wherever lies, on unerasing waves,
The image of a temple.”
Note the carious dislocation of accent in the word crystalline; with few exceptions this is the pronunciation followed by Shelley.
In the poetic work of Matthew Arnold are many instances of musicallyleagued adjectives, two, three, or four in number, preceding the noun, and lending a sort of procrastinating majesty to the verse. In The Strayed Reveller we find such combinations as these : “the warm, grassy, Asopus bank;” “ the broad, clay-laden, lone Chorasmian stream ; ” the
The desired, the divine,
Beloved Iacchus,” —
this, with the sublime adagio movement of inrolling waves : —
Sitting in the dark ship,
On the foamless, long-heaving,
At sunset nearing
The Happy Islands.”
— A friend of mine who has just returned from a long residence in the East is much disturbed by the slovenly manner of speaking which he observes to be prevalent among American children of the refined class. His two little girls have been brought up in a colony where their playmates were mostly English, while his son, a boy of ten or twelve, has spent the last six years in America. The relative advantages, so far as the language was concerned, have been nearly the same, yet the contrast between the boy’s speech and that of his sisters is remarkable, not only in pronunciation, but also in facility of expression. The girls, who, it should be remarked, are but seven and nine years respectively, pronounce with a clear-cut precision and form their sentences upon a model of incisive brevity refreshing to hear. The boy’s language flounders. His phrases are turbid and incomplete, and his words are often docked past recognition, or drawled to an absurd length, besides being enunciated with that nasal twang which, by the way, has oddly enough been called " speaking through the nose,” whereas it is caused by obstructing certain sounds in their passage through that organ.
Viewed in the light of the above illustration, the comparison of Englishspoken English with American-spoken English is unfavorable to the latter. Leaving out of the question that small and highly cultivated class of Americans who are thought by some to speak better English than the best which England affords, this seems in general to be a true statement of the case. The average colloquial American English is undoubtedly open to criticism on the score of careless articulation, not to speak of the nasal accent, which may possibly find more or less excuse in an instinctive attempt to guard against our great national catarrh by contracting certain muscles. I am reminded in this regard of an acquaintance who used to be accused of “ speaking like a book,” because he neither mouthed nor curtailed his words.
— Recent unfortunate occasion has obliged me to look about among that order of people which furnishes — or fails to furnish — our servants, and the only advantage that I have thus far gained by it consists in an improved acquaintance with the proper signification of the term lady.
For the greater part of this I am indebted to a certain melancholy, molasses-candy-colored mulatto girl, of a scrofulous habit and an exalted notion of her social value, who favored us for a very short time by becoming a member of our household. “ Some people,” she took pains to remark, “ thinks that folks that works ain’t ladies, but they is. My sisters works, but they ’re all ladies.”
A distinguished washer-lady of our neighborhood also illuminated the question by excusing her absence on a Monday with the explanation that she and another lady had been cleaning house for a woman who was about to travel in Europe with her family.
This reversal of definitions doubtless occurs in accordance with the spirit which asserts humanity’s right to climb, but it indicates, under the circumstances, that the ideas which bring about such a result are very much underdone. My respected washer-woman and my benevolent cook and my condescending indoor man have reached that half-baked condition of republican development which claims privileges without having taken the intermediate steps. In the mean time these slack-baked notions give rise to endless inconveniences, which make us long for Chinese, Hindus, Nihilists, — persons of any sort, who, pending their attainment of the lecture platform or the presidential chair, are contented to assume that station in life to which their intrinsic worth entitles them.
— In the library of the Literary Institution of Bath, England (as we are told by Dr. Dibdin), there is an unpublished work, in two quarto volumes, MS., written by John Sherwen, M. D., entitled Vindicatio Shakespeariana, in which the author has retrieved and cleverly explained several words in the original text of Shakespeare, by his accurate knowledge of the dialects of the Northern and Border counties. It is much to be regretted that this work has not been published. A glance through almost any of the plays will convince the reader that the poet had not only an extensive familiarity with, but a partiality for, words in provincial use in these counties; and his strikingly correct descriptions of locality and scenery in Macbeth have been adduced as proof that at some period of his early life he had visited Scotland. Be that as it may, such words as the following, — greet (to cry or weep), sag (to hang down), shive (a slice), sliver (noun, a small branch, and verb, to tear off), neb (the beak), brock (a badger), biggen (a night-cap), pick (to pitch or throw), scale (to spread, as manure), side (adjective, wide, loose), clean (adverb, entirely), leathercoats (apples), clap (to pat or tap), chare (a job of work), flapjack (a pan-cake), — and many others, are terms “ familiar in the mouth as household words ” in the North of England. Mr. Brockett’s Glossary has done some service in explaining Northern provincialisms, but it is very imperfect ; and the labors of the recently-established English Dialect Society cannot but have a happy effect in shedding light on many a Shakespearean expression that has hitherto been deemed obscure or unintelligible. Take, as an example, the " scamels ” with which Caliban seeks to tempt the appetite of his new “ King ” Stephano. These scamels have for one hundred and fifty years proved an indigestible morsel to the editors, puzzled as they have been to decide whether they were “ fish, flesh, or good red herring,” and some of them preferring to have stanniels, sea-malls, or even shamois kids served up instead. Now, however, it has been discovered that the “ scamel ” is simply the provincial name in Norfolk of a “ gamey ” bird of the godwit species, the flavor of which was undoubtedly familiar enough to the connoisseurs of the London restaurants of the poet’s day.
It occasionally happens that a word has a special or provincial signification, in addition to its ordinary one ; and obscurity arises from the author using it sometimes in one sense, sometimes in the other. Such a word is the common adverb soon. In such passages as the following, — “ Soon at five o’clock I ’ll meet with you,” Com. of Err., I. ii. 26 ; “ Soon at supper shalt thou see Lorenzo,” Mer. of Ven., II. iii. 5 ; “ Come to me soon at after supper,” Rich. III., IV. iii. 31 ; “ You shall bear the burden soon at night,” Rom. and Jul., II. v. 78 ; “ We ’ll have a posset for ’t soon at night,” Merry Wives, I. iv. 8, and a dozen more, it is evident from the context that “ soon ” cannot have its common meaning of " in a short time.”
Take the first instance above : the time we know exactly to be eleven o’clock, because Antipholus bids his servant go to the inn,
And stay there, Dromio, till I come to thee;
Within this hour it will be dinner time.”
He then invites his friend, the First Merchant, to dinner : —
And then go to my inn, and dine with me ?”
To which the Merchant replies: —
Of whom I hope to make much benefit;
I crave your pardon. Soon at five o'clock,
Please you, I ’II meet with you upon the mart,
And afterward consort you till bed-time.”
Now, bearing in mind that noon is the universal dinner-hour in Shakespeare, six hours must intervene ere they meet again, which could hardly be called “ soon.” An examination of the other passages will present the same inconsistency ; and yet I believe no editor or commentator has ever given any acceptable explanation of it. Even so exact annotators as the Clarkes only say that “ soon ” == about or towards; and Dr. Schmidt says that “ soon at night ” == this very night, which, to say the least, is very unsatisfactory. The fact is that “ soon ” in these passages is a pure provincialism, and corresponds exactly with the New England expression “ at early candle-light,” and the Latin “ ad primam vesperam,” for which our term “night-fall ” is a good synonym. If a collation of these passages had failed to show the correct meaning of “ soon,” Mr. Halliwell, in his Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, tells us that in the West of England the word still signifies “ evening; ” and if this were not sufficient, we have the authority of a book written by Gil, a contemporary of Shakespeare, a head master of St. Paul’s School, that the use of “ soon ” as an adverb, in the familiar sense of “ betimes,” “ by and by,” or “ quickly,” had, when he wrote, been eclipsed with most men by an acceptation restricted to “ night-fall.”
Another provincial stumbling-block occurs in Coriolanus (V. v. 34), where Aufidius says of his great rival, —
Made him joint servant with me; gave him way
In all his own desires; nay, let him choose
Out of my files, his projects to accomplish,
My best and freshest men; served his designmenta
In mine own person; holp to reap the fame which
he did end all his.”
Various changes have been proposed and made in the last clause; the most common being to read ear instead of “ end,” and to transpose this word and “ reap.” But the old text is perfectly correct. To “ end ” a crop succeeds reaping it, and means to gather it into garners, to house it, or stack it up in ricks. “ A well-ended rick of hay ” and “ well-ended stacks of wheat ” are among the commonest harvest technicalities in not only Northern but other English counties. It is the consummation of harvest ; and Aufidius metaphorically says that after he had reaped the crop of war and victory, Coriolanus had taken the advantage of it to himself by gathering all the glory into his own garners.
This will also serve to explain a passage in L’Allegro, where the poet, referring to Puck, —
To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn,
That ten day-laborers could not end.”
The last word has, no doubt, puzzled many a reader, though it is perfectly intelligible to any “ Northern farmer.”
The word “ fettle ” is another pure Northern provincialism, meaning to get ready, prepare, dress one’s self. Many a time have I been told by my father “ to fettle myself and go to school,” “ to fettle up for church,” etc. It is used both as an active and a neuter verb ; and Shakespeare has given it its exact signification in Romeo and Juliet, III. v. 154: —
To go with Paris to Saint Peter’s Church.”
The very singular word “ pheeze ” occurs twice in Shakespeare, and has bothered the commentators exceedingly to find its correct meaning; some explaining it == to beat, others == to drive. In the North of England they have an old word pronounced phaze, meaning generally to make an impression upon, to arouse, stir up. It is commonly used in such expressions as “ I called the man a fool, but it never phased him,” “I hit the door with all my might, but could n’t phaze it.” This word has sometimes seemed to me to come very near fitting the situation in Shakespeare. In Tam. of Shr., Ind., i. 1, Sly says to the hostess, “ I 'll pheeze you, in faith,” that is, I ’ll stir you up, I ’ll startle you ; and in Tro. and Cres., II. iii. 215, Ajax says, “ An a’ be proud with me, I ’ll pheeze his pride,” meaning, I ’ll make an impression on him, I ’ll bring down his pride.
Another Northern peculiarity is the use of the term wife for a woman in general, without any reference to the conjugal relation, in the same way that femme in French and frau in German are occasionally used. Brockett mentions this, and derives it from the Saxon wif, mulier, femina; and says that Bede uses wif-cild for a female infant. In Henry V., Act V., chorus, we have, —
Pales in the flood with men, with wives, with
Whose shouts and claps outvoice the deep-mouth’d
where “ wives ” is surely not confined to married women, but includes women of all ages and relations. Again, when Lord Bacon says, “ Strawberry-wives lay two or three great strawberries at the mouth of their pot, and all the rest are little ones,” he plainly means all women, married or not, who deal in the fruit; and Charles Reade, in his Scotch novel, Christie Johnstone, frequently calls his heroine and her friend “ fishwives,” though they are both unmarried girls. I was amused at Grant White, in his Every-Day English, ridiculing the
newspaper that spoke of a certain Miss A. K., a young country girl, who raised and sold chickens, as a “ lady poultryist,” As he sensibly says, if the good old terra “ henwife ” were too homely, she might well enough have been a “ poulterer ” or “ poulteress.” This point is interesting, as it helps to establish the accuracy of the Folio text in the celebrated crux in Othello, I. i. 21, “A fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife,” — a line that has exercised the ingenuity of the commentators to the extent of at least sixteen conjectural emendations. Let us examine it for a moment. First, bearing in mind the above-named usage of “ wife,” we must remember, secondly, that the preposition in is frequently used, in old writers, for on account of, by reason of; as in Macb., IV. iii. 55 :
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn’d
In evils to top Macbeth; ”
and in 1 Henry IV., V. iv. 121, “The better part of valor is discretion ; in the which better part I have saved my life;” that is, through which, by reason of which. And lastly, the line in question has no special reference to Cassio’s connection with Bianca, nor with any woman in particular, but is a general photograph of a certain trait of his character, as contemptuously portrayed by Iago. Dashing paladin that he is himself, Iago is bitterly mortified that the general should have passed over him, and preferred to the lieutenancy a man who had no soldierly qualifications whatever. He designates the new officer as a theorist only, a “ counter - caster,” and a mere woman’s man ; one of those amorous, susceptible fools who are ready to risk all they possess for a fair face or a charming woman. Iago knew that Cassio had one mistress, “ a customer,” hanging about his neck; and he thought that he was also in love with Desdemona, — “That Cassio loves her, I can well believe it;” and it is through this susceptibility to female fascinations that he aims to have “ our Cassio on the hip.” He says, “ I will abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb; ” that is, I will take care the general shall know what a libertine his lieutenant is, and what lengths the “voluble knave” will go “for the better compassing of his salt and most hidden loose affection.” What, then, could be more natural, when Iago is expressing his indignation at the promotion of Cassio, than that he should, in exaggerated language, depreciate those characteristics in the “Florentine” that were most unfitting for a soldier, — qualities, by the way, that he despised the more for being so opposite to his own nature ? “ One Michael Cassio, a Florentine, a fellow ” who is willing to go to perdition, almost to sell himself to the devil, for a beautiful woman, — “ a fellow almost damn’d in a fair wife.”
Does not this give to the Folio text a clear and easy interpretation, without changing a letter, and without any subtilty or sophistication whatever ? If it be claimed that Iago is referring to the lieutenant’s connection with Bianca, the line might well enough be paraphrased, “ A fellow almost cracked after a goodlooking wench; ” but I think it more likely that he is speaking of Cassio’s general character among the sex, as a gay Lothario or a love-smitten Miss Nancy, and the paraphrase would be, “A fellow who is almost ready to throw himself away, body and soul, for the sake of a pretty woman.”
If space permitted, other instances might be adduced of this use of provincial words by the great poet. But the main object of this note was to bring to the attention of the readers of The Atlantic Monthly a word that has caused almost as much conjecture regarding its meaning as any other in the plays, — a word that I have been surprised to find no editor or commentator has done justice to, though some years ago, at least, it was common enough (and may be so still) among the peasantry of the North-
ern and Border counties, and no Cumberland girl would have had the least difficulty in understanding it perfectly. I mean the word “braid,” in Diana’s speech, in All’s Well, IV. ii. 74: —
Many that will, I live and die a maid.”
I need only refer the reader to the Variorum for pages of speculation on the signification of this word. Steevens’s explanation, that it is equivalent to deceitful, is the one generally accepted. It escaped the notice of Brockett when he compiled his Glossary, and that may partly account for recent commentators missing its provincial meaning. When a boy, I have myself heard this word used, more than once, in exactly the sense that Diana gives to it; and it seems to me that the poet could not have selected a more forcible expression, there being no one English word that so fully gives the sense required. It is evidently derived from the Scotch braid, but has acquired a much more comprehensive meaning than our broad, the latter being generally applied to language, whereas the braid in question is applied to both language and actions, oftener to the latter. Impudent comes fairly near to it, but is not quite forcible enough, while lustful is perhaps in the other extreme. A man was said to be “ braid ” whose behavior among women was audaciously gross or insulting, or who had a noted character for making improper advances, or for taking saucy liberties. And now, after the lapse of forty years, when I recall hearing such expressions as these, “ John, you munnot be sae braid, noo,” or, “ He’s far ower braid to keep my company,” it seems to me, from his putting this word so aptly in Diana’s mouth, that the poet himself must at some time have heard similar expressions. The word “braided,” however, so far as I recollect, was no relative of “ braid.” “ Braided” was a word always applied to goods or wares, and meant dirty, tumbled, crumpled up. Soiled or damp clothing, carelessly put away, was said to come out braided; that is, in braids, wrinkled, or creased. And, if I am not mistaken, it was applied also to cheap or second - hand articles, especially of haberdashery. It will be remembered that the shepherd’s son, in Winter’s Tale (IV. iv. 204), asks if Autolycus, in his guise of a peddler, has any " unbraided wares ; ” and his language has generally been supposed to be a press error for “ embroided wares,” which is the reading of Collier’s Corrected Folio of 1632. But I have never been able to divest myself of the impression that he rather means any new, fresh, unsoiled wares, — wares that are nice and untumbled, and not second-hand goods. Of this meaning of " braided,” as a Northern word, I am not so confident as I am in the case of “ braid ; ” and I have looked in vain for any corroborating references to it in such glossaries as I have access to. Probably some of my readers may be able to add their authority, and so to confirm, or otherwise, what I have written, and thus help to elucidate these long-disputed obscurities in the text of our beloved poet.
— Married women of tender sensibilities on the subject of equal rights, as well as tall boys who are hankering after the rights they have not yet earned, are quietly snubbed in their aspirations, when traveling in the trim little screw steamers on the coast and fiords of Norway. For women accompanying their liege lords and for children under age only half fare is charged. Doubtless, a certain brilliant essayist of the North American Review would not deign to ask the reason for this regulation. But the high-stepping and grayhaired patriarch of our party, elated by this unwonted leniency towards his pocket-book, applied to a good-natured captain for an explanation.
“ Captain, why does your company carry a man’s wife and children on half tickets ? ”
The jocund captain removes his wellblackened meerschaum, and declares that all the companies do the same.
“ But why, captain ? There must be some reason.”
“ Why, bless your soul, I don’t know; only they always have.”
The traveler persists, and remarks that he has noticed that the country is poor in everything but children. “ May it not be, captain,” he inquires, “ that this is a plan to encourage matrimony, and to mitigate the hardships that heads of families have to endure while raising a family on these gray old rocks ? ”
The captain nods assent, and adds, “ Perhaps so,” in a parenthesis, as it were to his thoughts, as he surveys the bold stranger who has dared to suggest that his grand and cool and healthy Northland may be barren or dreary, or that poverty is really pressing his kinsfolk more closely in their narrow mountain homes than on the broad fields of Minnesota, of which he hears much from his cousins. . . .
Neither the grandeur of the mountains nor the weird intricacies of the fiords serve to keep the terrible woman question out of Norway. The time was, and not long ago, when no self-respecting Norwegian woman would consent to enter the saloon of a steamer to eat in the company of the masculine passengers. The example of the English and American women who travel in that country has changed this custom, and now the officers are no longer vexed by the problem as to how to serve two first-class meals at the same time to the few first-class passengers who frequent their lines of travel. The Norwegian woman traveler is nevertheless a model of quiet reserve and dignity. The influence of English-speaking women in Norway is not confined to table manners alone ; a still greater impression is being made upon this proud and energetic race of women in reference to the question of education. The Governesses’ School in Christiania no longer meets their demands, and the younger women especially are restless, and begin to beg that the highest educational privileges may be made as free to them as to men.
— It has been discovered that beer cures intemperance. It has also been discovered that beer causes intemperance, and does not cure it. The British Parliament discovered in 1830 that beer would cure the evil. Forty years later the Convocations of Canterbury and York discovered that beer was one of the chief causes of intemperance. Literary men are just now discovering the beer antidote. One of them says, “ He would do a priceless work in the Lord’s vineyard who should teach the English lower classes to drink lager beer.”
On the side of beer we have two discoveries: (1.) Beer cures intemperance. (2.) England drinks too little of it, and so is not cured. But how much does England drink ? Professor Levi tells us that in 1866 she drank .863 of an imperial gallon of proof spirits and thirty-seven gallons of beer and ale for every man, woman, and child. He estimates the proof spirits contained in the beer and ale at 3.393 gallons a head.
So, England drinks about four times as much alcohol in beer and ale as in spirits. This suggests two questions: (1.) Does English intemperance come from the one fifth of alcohol contained in the spirits, or from the four fifths contained in the beer ? (2.) If thirty-seven gallons a head is not enough to effect a cure, how much beer does the Lord’s English vineyard require ?
We will now look at the anti-beer discovery. In 1869, thirty-nine years after England had, by fostering legislation, quadrupled its use of beer, the English church took measures to ascertain the causes and extent of intemperance. The Convocation of Canterbury, through a large committee, sent letters of inquiry to the judges of criminal courts, chief constables, superintendents of police, recorders, coroners, chaplains and governors of prisons and workhouses, and others whose official position gave them special means for observation.
The convocation, in summing up the evidence obtained from 2223 witnesses, say that the parliamentary Beer Act of 1830 appears to be one of the foremost and most prolific causes of intemperance, and that “ the testimony on this point, on the part of the magistracy, the constabulary, the parochial clergy, and others most competent to judge, is most emphatic and unanimous.” This report was forwarded to the throne with the indorsement of the Upper House, together with 2223 extracts from the evidence on which it was based. Some years later the Convocation of York made similar inquiries. Its report, based on the testimony of 2711 witnesses, is still more emphatic in relation to the disastrous effects of beer on the people of England. We know about how much beer England has used for the last half century. We know, too, or may easily learn, whether it has or has not cured English intemperance.
— Of late years we Americans have had sufficient cause to bemoan ourselves on account of our climate, which not only treats us to the severest extremes of tropical heat and Siberian cold, but springs from one to the other with a suddenness for which no one can be prepared, the most alert Yankee not being “lively” enough to keep up with such volatile weather. Since living in a country with so absurd a climate is really a grave misfortune, we may be thankful to find that there is anything good to be said for it; and I think it may be noticed, as balancing in some degree its unpleasant characteristics, that when the weather is in a good humor it can give us as line days as are to be had anywhere in the world, and a remarkable variety of them. In this month of October there have been days equaling those we may have reveled in in Italy, and others, again, which for brilliancy of beauty were like the most superb we have known among Swiss mountains, — days when the landscape seemed wrapped in softest haze, which yet was not a haze, since all things appeared in true outline and relief; and other days when the crystalline air was so pure that there actually seemed to be no atmosphere at all, and one fancied that one could touch with the finger objects two or three miles off. Happy is he who, in such rare days, is living in a hill country, for their beauty is there best noted and enjoyed. From where I live, the river (the Hudson) has the look of a lake, or rather of two lakes at north and south, the water directly in front being hidden by trees ; but a few minutes’ walk brings one to a spot where the straight course of the river may be seen for twenty miles. I passed the place to-day in my afternoon stroll, and had to stop there several minutes, I was so struck with the beauty of the familiar view. The river had taken on that peculiar tint of dark, brilliant, living blue which most suggests the motion, the flow, of water whose movement cannot, on account of distance, be really observed ; the imagination could follow the noble stream the long way from its far-off beginning to its end. The hills — we towns-people do not dignify them as mountains, though we are proud of their respectable height — wore that indescribable hue one sees on them only in autumn, which is not purple, but a mingling of red and blue, as in a changeable silk. The houseroofs of the town below, and even the ugly village on the opposite shore, were picturesque, seen in mass and in that splendid light. I knew it all so well ! And yet the beauty of it flashed on me as newly as if it were some strange foreign town I was looking on, and an unfamiliar river and hills. On the way home, as the sun declined, the hills became ruby-color, and the sky gold ; and soon, with another turn of the kaleidoscope, it was the sky that had flushed rose-pink, while the hills below it were softened to dusky blue. It is this changefulness of aspect in the hills which lovers of them rejoice in ; it is like the changes of mood and of countenance we notice in a dear friend, all of whose moods and looks are lovely to us.
Although we constantly speak of nature as painting pictures for our eye, I think the real effect of her on those who are sensitive to her influence is like that of music, suggesting the same strong and quite indefinable emotions. I don’t know whether or not this has been remarked upon before, but it is a fact that any nature-lover easily discovers for himself. Why a certain slope of upland, a certain grouping of trees, a certain quality of light, cheers, or soothes, or saddens us it would be hard to say, — as hard as it would be for some of us to tell why and how we are moved by a Schubert symphony. There may be persons who are able to find a reason for their enjoyment, but we who cannot explain the meaning of what we feel are none the less sure of the strength of our feeling. There is a difference in the effect upon us of natural scenes, and some of them — such as the impressions of a desert waste or of Alpine summits, solitary or in glorious companies — we can come nearer to rendering an intelligible account of to ourselves ; in the same way, the meaning of certain music, as some of Beethoven’s symphonies, we might, if we tried, translate in imperfect fashion into words. Analogies of this sort cannot of course be pressed ; nothing of man’s invention is strictly comparable to the glory of the great mountains or the sea, yet there is enough of likeness between the sentiments suggested by music and by nature to make the lovers of them both pleased to notice it. I recollect the delight of first hearing Schubert’s symphony in C, — a delight the more complete and intense that it appeared to need not the slightest attempt at analysis; it was pure, unmixed emotion, —without any conscious exertion of mind, that is, —and after it was all over the first spontaneous thought
was, How like what nature has often seemed to say to us ! It was the only comparison one could make between anything else and that quintessence of music as such.