صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

a child,-and he showed with pride what he had done by his personal labor in gardening and in washing. He placed the clothes on the line as carefully as if they were meant to hang there always, and they must be admired, too! He said, and truly, that he had never seen snowier ones.

Oh, thou heroic old man! Thou hast a right to thy pride in those exact strokes of the hoe and in those superb potatoes, “the best ever seen in the New Orleans market,” and in those long lines of snowy drapery! But those to whom thou art showing these things are looking beyond them, at the man! They are gazing reverently, and with scarce suppressed tears, on the hands that have been in this world for three-score and ten years, and are beginning to-day to support a houseful of children!

At the end of the hard day's work he would say, sometimes: “General Sherman has not brought my daughters to the wash-tub. I could not stand that."

General Sherman's words were as a cruel spur in the side of a noble steed that needed no spur, and was already running beyond his strength.

lle urged some of his old friends to follow his example, and was quite disgusted at the answer of one, that he had no “turn” for working in a garden. “No turn !” he repeated, indignantly, in speaking of it to his children. “I hear that he allows the ladies to do all this work. I wonder what turn for it they have! I have no toleration for such big Indian talk.”

His hands were much bent with age and gout. No glove could be drawn over them. They had been so soft that a bridle-rein, unless he had his gloves on, chafed them unpleasantly. He expressed thankfulness that the bent fingers and palms did not interfere with his hoiding either his hoe-handle or his pen. He wrote as many letters as ever, and an article for a State newspaper or a Virginia or New Orleans paper occasionally, if interested in anything that was going on. But he said that politics were getting to the state that only disgusted him, and he took no active part or interest even in State government till he saw a hope of throwing off “ carpet-bag” rule. When he spoke of the expense of the postage on his correspondence, he said that he could not maintain himself in his station if he wrote fewer letters.

He tried hard to learn to plough, but he could not do it. It was a real disappointment. He tried to learn to cut wood, but complained that he could not strike twice in the same spot. It was with great labor that he got a stick cut in two. His failure in this filled him with a dogged determination to succeed, and he persisted in cutting wood in the most painful manner, often till he was exhausted. Some one told him of a hand-saw for sawing wood, and he was delighted and felt independent when he got one. He enjoyed it like a new tov, it was so much better in his hands than the axe. He sawed wood by the hour, in the cold and in the heat. It seemed to be his rule never to stop any work till he was exhausted.

His son Edward lived with him during these years. He tried to lessen his father's labors. But Thomas Dabuey was not a man to sit down while his children worked. Besides, there was work enough for these two men, and more than enough. The arrangement of both house and plantation had been planned to employ many servants, as was the custom in the South. Everything was at a long distance from everything else. As time went on, an effort was made to concentrate things. But, without money, it was impossible to arrange the place like a Northern farm, with every convenience near at hand.

One fall, in putting down the dining-room carpet, Thomas heard his daughter say that she meant to turn the carpet, because it looked new on the other side.

Do not turn it, then,” he said. “I do not wish any one to suppose that I would buy a new carpet, owing money as I do.”

In these years he was preparing once for a business visit to New Orleans. His daughter asked him to buy a new suit, as he spoke of calling on his friends in the city.

“No,” he answered ; “I should be ashamed to wear new clothes. What hope would my creditors have of ever getting their money if they saw me in New Orleans in new clothes ? No; I am going in this suit that you say looks so shabby and faded. I shall call on all my creditors in this suit. I have not a dollar to take to them, but I shall let them see that I am not shunning them for that. I shall show myself to them, and tell them that I am doing my very best to pay them, and that they shall have every dollar if they will have patience. You see, my child, this is the only assurance I can give them that I mean to pay them. Now, could I expect to be believed if I were handsomely dressed ?"

His merchants, Giquel & Jamison, were among the creditors whom he saw during this visit. They informed him that all their books had been burned during the war, and that they had no bill against him. They said also that they had accounts amounting to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars set down in those books, and that he was the only man who had come forward to pay them. He was not to be turned from paying his debt.

An humble neighbor had said years ago that he hated Colonel Dabney because he acted as if he considered himself a prince. In these later days he admired Thomas as much as he had before disliked him. “I thought him a haughty man because he was rich; now I see that he is the same man poor that he was rich. Now I know that he is a prince.”

One of his daughters had occasion to offer a draft of his to an ignorant man in a distant county of Mississippi. She felt a natural diffidence, as she was not sure that it would be accepted in payment of her indebtedness. She asked the man if he had ever heard of Thomas Dabney.

“Heard of him ?” he said. “Every letter in his name is pure gold. I would as soon have that draft as the gold in my hand.”

Seeing one of his daughters look sad and quiet, Thomas said to her: “My child, it seems to me that you look coldly on me. I cannot bear that. You are the very core of my heart. If I have done anything that you do not like, tell me.”

Oh, what heart would not bound out to the father who could say that to his own child !

And the tender, satisfied look when he was embraced and kissed, and the real trouble confided to his sympathizing bosom!

Annie Douglas Robinson.

Born in Plymouth, N. H., 1842.


(Poems by "Marian Douglas.”]
An old farm-house, with meadows wide,
A And sweet with clover on each side;
A bright-eyed boy, who looks from out
The door with woodbine wreathed about,
And wishes his one thought all day,-
“Oh, if I could but fly away

From this dull spot the world to see,
How happy, happy, happy,

How happy I should be!”
Amid the city's constant din,
A man who round the world has been,
Who, 'mid the tumult and the throng,
Is thinking, thinking all day long, -
“Oh, could I only tread once more
The field-path to the farm-house door,

The old green meadows could I see,
How happy, happy, happy,

How happy I should be!”

[blocks in formation]

Bronson Howard.

BORN in Detroit, Mich., 1842.




[From a Lecture before the Shakespeare Club of Harvard University. 1886.] TT happens that one of my own plays has had a very curious history. It

I has appeared before the American public in two forms, so radically different that a description of the changes made, and of the reasons for making them, will involve the consideration of some very interesting laws of dramatic construction. I shall ask you to listen very carefully to the story, or “plot,” of the piece as it was first produced in Chicago in 1873. Then I shall trace the changes that were made in this story before the play was produced at the Union Square Theatre in New York, five years later. And after that, to follow the very odd adventures of the same play still further, I shall point out briefly the changes which were made necessary by adapting it to English life with English characters, for its production at the Court Theatre, London, in 1879. All the changes which I shall describe to you were forced upon me (as soon as I had decided to make the general alterations in the play) by the laws of dramatic construction; and it is to the experimental application of these laws to a particular play that I ask your attention. The learned professors of Harvard University know much more about them than I do, so far as a study of dramatic literature, from the outside, can give them that knowledge; and the great modern authorities on the subject—Hallam, Lessing, Schlegel, and many others-are open to the students of Harvard in her library; or, rather, shall I say, they lie closed on its shelves. But I invite you to-day to step into a little dramatic workshop, instead of a scientific library, and to see an humble workman in the craft, trying, with repeated experiments—with failures and wasted time-not to elucidate the laws of dramatic construction, but to obey them ; exactly as an inventor (deficient, it may be, in all scientific knowledge) tries to apply the general laws of mechanics to the immediate necessities of the machine he is working out in his mind. . . But what are the laws of dramatic construction ? No one man knows much about them. They bear about the same relation to human character and human sympathies as the laws of nature bear to the material universe. When all the mysteries of humanity have been solved, the laws of dramatic construction can be codified and clearly explained ; not until then. But every scientific man can tell you a little about nature, and every dramatist can tell you a little about dramatic truth. A few general principles have been discovered by experiment and discussion. These few principles can be brought to your attention. But after you have learned all that has yet been learned by others, the field of humanity will still lie before you, as the field of nature lies before the scientist, with millions of times more to be discovered, by you or by some one else, than has ever yet been known. All I purpose to-night is to show you how certain laws of dramatic construction asserted themselves from time to time as we were making the changes in this play; how they thrust themselves upon our notice; how we could not possibly ignore them, and you will see how a man comes to understand any particular law, after he has been forced to obey it, although, perhaps, he has never heard of it or dreamed of it before.

And let me say here, to the students of Harvard—I do not presume to address words of advice to the faculty-it is to you and to others who enjoy the high privileges of liberal education that the American stage ought to look for honest and good dramatic work in the future. Let me say to you, then : Submit yourselves truly and unconditionally to the laws of dramatic truth, so far as you can discover them by honest mental exertion and observation. Do not mistake any mere defiance of these laws for originality. You might as well show your originality by defying the law of gravitation. . . . Even if you feel sometimes that your genius—that's always the word in the secret vocabulary of our own minds—even if your genius seems to be hampered by these dramatic laws, resign yourself to them at once.

The story of the play, as first produced in Chicago, may be told as follows:

Act first-Scene, New York. Lilian Westbrook and Harold Routledge have a lovers' quarrel. Never mind what the cause of it is. To quote a passage from the play itself: “A woman never quarrels with a man she doesn't love”—this is one of the minor laws of dramatic construction—"and she is nerer tired of quarrelling with a man she does love." But, when Lilian announces to Harold Routledge that their engagement is broken forever, he thinks she means to imply that she doesn't intend to marry him. Women are often misunderstood by our more grossly practical sex ; we are too apt to judge of what they mean by what they say. Harold Routledge, almost broken-hearted, bids Lilian farewell, and leaves her presence. . . . Lilian's father enters. He is on the verge of financial ruin, and he has just received a letter from Mr. John Strebelow, a man of great wealth, asking his daughter's hand in marriage. Mr. Westbrook urges her to accept him, because he dreads to leave, in his old age, a helpless girl, trained only to luxury and extravagance, to a merciless world. Lilian, on her part, shudders at the thought of her father renewing the struggle of life when years have exhausted his strength; and she sacrifices her own heart. Mr. Strebelow is a man of about forty years, of unquestioned honor, of noble personal character in every way. He marries her without knowing that she does not love him ; much less, that she loves another.

Act second-Paris. Lilian has been married five years, and is residing with her husband in the French capital. As the curtain rises, Lilian is teaching her little child, Natalie, her alphabet. All the warm affection of a woman's nature, suppressed and thrown back upon her own heart, has concentrated itself upon this child. Lilian has been a good wife, and she reverences her husband. But she does not love him as a wife. Mr. Strebelow now enters, and tells Lilian that he has just met an old friend of hers and of him

« السابقةمتابعة »