查看: 2785|回复: 15

[在线小说] How To Do It by Edward Everett Hale

发表于 2010-4-28 10:45 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
How To Do It(1870)


Fan of this book? Help us introduce it to others by writing an introduction for it. It's quick and easy, click here.

使用道具 举报

发表于 2010-4-28 11:20 | 显示全部楼层

Introductory.--How We Met.

The papers which are here collected enter in some detail into the successand failure of a large number of young people of my acquaintance, who arehere named as

Alice Faulconbridge,Bob Edmeston,Clara,Clem Waters,Edward Holiday,Ellen Liston,Emma Fortinbras,Enoch Putnam, brother of Horace,Esther,Fanchon,Fanny, cousin to Hatty FieldingFlorence,Frank,George Ferguson (Asaph Ferguson's brother),Hatty Fielding,Herbert,Horace Putnam,Horace Felltham (a very different person),Jane Smith,Jo Gresham,Laura Walter,Maud Ingletree,Oliver Ferguson, brother to Asaph and George,Pauline,Rachel,Robert,Sarah Clavers,Stephen,Sybil,Theodora,Tom Rising,Walter,William Hackmatack,William Withers.

It may be observed that there are thirty-four of them. They make up avery nice set, or would do so if they belonged together. But, in truth,they live in many regions, not to say countries. None of them are toobright or too stupid, only one of them is really selfish, all but one ortwo are thoroughly sorry for their faults when they commit them, and allof them who are good for anything think of themselves very little. Thereare a few who are approved members of the Harry Wadsworth Club. That meansthat they "look up and not down," they "look forward and not back," they"look out and not in," and they "lend a hand." These papers were firstpublished, much as they are now collected, in the magazine "Our YoungFolks," and in that admirable weekly paper "The Youth's Companion," whichis held in grateful remembrance by a generation now tottering off thestage, and welcomed, as I see, with equal interest by the grandchildren asthey totter on. From time to time, therefore, as the different series havegone on, I have received pleasant notes from other young people, whoseacquaintance I have thus made with real pleasure, who have asked moreexplanation as to the points involved. I have thus been told that myfriend, Mr. Henry Ward Beecher, is not governed by all my rules for youngpeople's composition, and that Miss Throckmorton, the governess, does notbelieve Archbishop Whately is infallible. I have once and again been askedhow I made the acquaintance of such a nice set of children. And I can wellbelieve that many of my young correspondents would in that matter be gladto be as fortunate as I.
Perhaps, then, I shall do something to make the little book moreintelligible, and to connect its parts, if in this introduction I tell ofthe one occasion when the dramatis personae met each other; and in orderto that, if I tell how they all met me.
First of all, then, my dear young friends, I began active life, as soon asI had left college, as I can well wish all of you might do. I began inkeeping school. Not that I want to have any of you do this long, unless anevident fitness or "manifest destiny" appear so to order. But you may besure that, for a year or two of the start of life, there is nothing thatwill teach you your own ignorance so well as having to teach children thefew things you know, and to answer, as best you can, their questions onall grounds. There was poor Jane, on the first day of that charming visitat the Penroses, who was betrayed by the simplicity and cordiality of thedinner-table--where she was the youngest of ten or twelve strangers--intotaking a protective lead of all the conversation, till at the very last Iheard her explaining to dear Mr. Tom Coram himself,--a gentleman who hadlived in Java ten years,--that coffee-berries were red when they wereripe. I was sadly mortified for my poor Jane as Tom's eyes twinkled. Shewould never have got into that rattletrap way of talking if she had keptschool for two years. Here, again, is a capital letter from OliverFerguson, Asaph's younger brother, describing his life on the Island atParis all through the siege. I should have sent it yesterday to Mr.Osgood, who would be delighted to print it in the Atlantic Monthly, butthat the spelling is disgraceful. Mr. Osgood and Mr. Howells would thinkOliver a fool before they had read down the first page. "L-i-n, lin,n-e-n, nen, linen." Think of that! Oliver would never have spelled "linen"like that if he had been two years a teacher. You can go through fouryears at Harvard College spelling so, but you cannot go through two yearsas a schoolmaster.
Well, I say I was fortunate enough to spend two years as an assistantschoolmaster at the old Boston Latin School,--the oldest institution oflearning, as we are fond of saying, in the United States. And there firstI made my manhood's acquaintance with boys.
"Do you think," said dear Dr. Malone to me one day, "that my son Robertwill be too young to enter college next August?" "How old will he be?"said I, and I was told. Then as Robert was at that moment just six monthsyounger than I, who had already graduated, I said wisely, that I thoughthe would do, and Dr. Malone chuckled, I doubt not, as I did certainly, atthe gravity of my answer. A nice set of boys I had. I had above me two ofthe most loyal and honorable of gentlemen, who screened me from allreproof for my blunders. My discipline was not of the best, but mypurposes were; and I and the boys got along admirably.
It was the old schoolhouse. I believe I shall explain in another place,in this volume, that it stood where Parker's Hotel stands, and my roomoccupied the spot in space where you, Florence, and you, Theodora, dinedwith your aunt Dorcas last Wednesday before you took the cars forAndover,--the ladies' dining-room looking on what was then Cook's Court,and is now Chapman Place. Who Cook was I know not. The "Province Street"of to-day was then much more fitly called "Governor's Alley." For boysdo not know that that minstrel-saloon so long known as "Ordway's," justnow changed into Sargent's Hotel, was for a century, more or less, theofficial residence of the Governor of Massachusetts. It was the"Province House."
On the top of it, for a weathercock, was the large mechanical brazenIndian, who, whenever he heard the Old South clock strike twelve, shot offhis brazen arrow. The little boys used to hope to see this. But just astwelve came was the bustle of dismissal, and I have never seen one who didsee him, though for myself I know he did as was said, and have neverquestioned it. That opportunity, however, was up stairs, in Mr. Dixwell'sroom. In my room, in the basement, we had no such opportunity.
The glory of our room was that it was supposed, rightly or not, that apart of it was included in the old schoolhouse which was there before theRevolution. There were old men still living who remembered the troubloustimes, the times that stirred boys' souls, as the struggle forindependence began. I have myself talked with Jonathan Darby Robbins, whowas himself one of the committee who waited on the British general todemand that their coasting should not be obstructed. There is a readingpiece about it in one of the school-books. This general was not Gage, ashe is said to be in the histories, but General Haldimand; and hisquarters were at the house which stood nearly where Franklin's statuestands now, just below King's Chapel. His servant had put ashes on thecoast which the boys had made, on the sidewalk which passes the Chapel asyou go down School Street. When the boys remonstrated, the servantridiculed them,--he was not going to mind a gang of rebel boys. So theboys, who were much of their fathers' minds, appointed a committee, ofwhom my friend was one, to wait on General Haldimand himself. They calledon him, and they told him that coasting was one of their inalienablerights and that he must not take it away. The General knew too well thatthe people of the town must not be irritated to take up his servant'squarrel, and he told the boys that their coast should not be interferedwith. So they carried their point. The story-book says that he clasped hishands and said, "Heavens! Liberty is in the very air! Even these boysspeak of their rights as do their patriot sires!" But of this Mr. Robbinstold me nothing, and as Haldimand was a Hessian, of no great enthusiasmfor liberty, I do not, for my part, believe it.
The morning of April 19, 1775, Harrison Gray Otis, then a little boy ofeight years old, came down Beacon Street to school, and found a brigade ofred-coats in line along Common Street,--as Tremont Street was thencalled,--so that he could not cross into School Street. They were EarlPercy's brigade. Class in history, where did Percy's brigade go that day,and what became of them before night? A red-coat corporal told the Otisboy to walk along Common Street, and not try to cross the line. So he did.He went as far as Scollay's Building before he could turn their flank,then he went down to what you call Washington Street, and came up toschool,--late. Whether his excuse would have been sufficient I do notknow. He was never asked for it. He came into school just in time to hearold Lovel, the Tory schoolmaster, say, "War's begun and school's done.Dimittite libros"--which means, "Put away your books." They put themaway, and had a vacation of a year and nine months thereafter, before theschool was open again.
Well, in this old school I had spent four years of my boyhood, and here,as I say, my manhood's acquaintance with boys began. I taught them Latin,and sometimes mathematics. Some of them will remember a famous Latin poemwe wrote about Pocahontas and John Smith. All of them will remember howthey capped Latin verses against the master, twenty against one, and puthim down. These boys used to cluster round my table at recess and talk.Danforth Newcomb, a lovely, gentle, accurate boy, almost always at thehead of his class,--he died young. Shang-hae, San Francisco, Berlin,Paris, Australia,--I don't know what cities, towns, and countries have therest of them. And when they carry home this book for their own boys toread, they will find some of their boy-stories here.
Then there was Mrs. Merriam's boarding-school. If you will read thechapter on travelling you will find about one of the vacations of hergirls. Mrs. Merriam was one of Mr. Ingham's old friends,--and he is a manwith whom I have had a great deal to do. Mrs. Merriam opened a school fortwelve girls. I knew her very well, and so it came that I knew her wayswith them. Though it was a boarding-school, still the girls had just as"good a time" as they had at home, and when I found that some of themasked leave to spend vacation with her I knew they had better times. Iremember perfectly the day when Mrs. Phillips asked them down to the oldmansion-house, which seems so like home to me, to eat peaches. And it wasdetermined that the girls should not think they were under any "company"restraint, so no person but themselves was present when the peaches wereserved, and every girl ate as many as for herself she determined best.When they all rode horseback, Mrs. Merriam and I used to ride togetherwith these young folks behind or before, as it listed them. So, notunnaturally, being a friend of the family, I came to know a good many ofthem very well.
For another set of them--you may choose the names to pleaseyourselves--the history of my relationship goes back to the Sunday schoolof the Church of the Unity in Worcester. The first time I ever preached inthat church, namely, May 3, 1846, there was but one person in it who hadgray hair. All of us of that day have enough now. But we were a set ofyoung people, starting on a new church, which had, I assure you, no dustin the pulpit-cushions. And almost all the children were young, as you maysuppose. The first meeting of the Sunday school showed, I think,thirty-six children, and more of them were under nine than over. They areall twenty-five years older now than they were then. Well, we startedwithout a library for the Sunday school. But in a corner of my study JoMatthews and I put up some three-cornered shelves, on which I kept about ahundred books such as children like, and young people who are no longerchildren; and then, as I sat reading, writing, or stood fussing over myfuchsias or labelling the mineralogical specimens, there would come in oneor another nice girl or boy, to borrow a "Rollo" or a "Franconia," or tosee if Ellen Liston had returned "Amy Herbert." And so we got very goodchances to find each other out. It is not a bad plan for a young minister,if he really want to know what the young folk of his parish are. I knowit was then and there that I conceived the plan of writing "MargaretPercival in America" as a sequel to Miss Sewell's "Margaret Percival," andthat I wrote my half of that history.
The Worcester Sunday school grew beyond thirty-six scholars; and I havesince had to do with two other Sunday schools, where, though the childrendid not know it, I felt as young as the youngest of them all. And in thatsort of life you get chances to come at nice boys and nice girls whichmost people in the world do not have.
And the last of all the congresses of young people which I will name,where I have found my favorites, shall be the vacation congresses,--whenpeople from all the corners of the world meet at some country hotel, andwonder who the others are the first night, and, after a month, wonderagain how they ever lived without knowing each other as brothers andsisters. I never had a nicer time than that day when we celebratedArthur's birthday by going up to Greely's Pond. "Could Amelia walk sofar? She only eight years old, and it was the whole of five miles by awood-road, and five miles to come back again." Yes, Amelia was certain shecould. Then, "whether Arthur could walk so far, he being nine." Why, ofcourse he could if Amelia could. So eight-year-old, nine-year-old,ten-year-old, eleven-year-old, and all the rest of the ages,--we trampedoff together, and we stumbled over the stumps, and waded through the mud,and tripped lightly, like Somnambula in the opera, over the log bridges,which were single logs and nothing more, and came successfully to Greely'sPond,--beautiful lake of Egeria that it is, hidden from envious and lazymen by forest and rock and mountain. And the children of fifty years oldand less pulled off shoes and stockings to wade in it; and we caught intin mugs little seedling trouts not so long as that word "seedling" is onthe page, and saw them swim in the mugs and set them free again; and weate the lunches with appetites as of Arcadia; and we stumped happily homeagain, and found, as we went home, all the sketch-books and bait-boxesand neckties which we had lost as we went up. On a day like that you getintimate, if you were not intimate before.
O dear! don't you wish you were at Waterville now?
Now, if you please, my dear Fanchon, we will not go any further into theplaces where I got acquainted with the heroes and heroines of this book.Allow, of those mentioned here, four to the Latin school, five to theUnity Sunday school, six to the South Congregational, seven to vacationacquaintance, credit me with nine children of my own and ten brothers andsisters, and you will find no difficulty in selecting who of these arewhich of those, if you have ever studied the science of "IndeterminateAnalysis" in Professor Smythe's Algebra.
"Dear Mr. Hale, you are making fun of us. We never know when you arein earnest."
Do not be in the least afraid, dear Florence. Remember that a central rulefor comfort in life is this, "Nobody was ever written down an ass, exceptby himself."
Now I will tell you how and when the particular thirty-four names abovehappened to come together.
We were, a few of us, staying at the White Mountains. I think no NewEngland summer is quite perfect unless you stay at least a day in theWhite Mountains. "Staying in the White Mountains" does not mean climbing ontop of a stage-coach at Centre Harbor, and riding by day and by night forforty-eight hours till you fling yourself into a railroad-car atLittleton, and cry out that "you have done them." No. It means just livingwith a prospect before your eye of a hundred miles' radius, as you mayhave at Bethlehem or the Flume; or, perhaps, a valley and a set of hills,which never by accident look twice the same, as you may have at the GlenHouse or Dolly Cop's or at Waterville; or with a gorge behind the house,which you may thread and thread and thread day in and out, and still notcome out upon the cleft rock from which flows the first drop of the lovelystream, as you may do at Jackson. It means living front to front, lip tolip, with Nature at her loveliest, Echo at her most mysterious, withHeaven at its brightest and Earth at its greenest, and, all this time,breathing, with every breath, an atmosphere which is the elixir of life,so pure and sweet and strong. At Greely's you are, I believe, on thehighest land inhabited in America. That land has a pure air upon it. Well,as I say, we were staying in the White Mountains. Of course the youngfolks wanted to go up Mount Washington. We had all been up Osceola andBlack Mountain, and some of us had gone up on Mount Carter, and one or twohad been on Mount Lafayette. But this was as nothing till we had stood onMount Washington himself. So I told Hatty Fielding and Laura to go on tothe railroad-station and join a party we knew that were going up fromthere, while Jo Gresham and Stephen and the two Fergusons and I would goup on foot by a route I knew from Randolph over the real Mount Adams.Nobody had been up that particular branch of Israel's run since Channingand I did in 1841. Will Hackmatack, who was with us, had a blister on hisfoot, so he went with the riding party. He said that was the reason,perhaps he thought so. The truth was he wanted to go with Laura, andnobody need be ashamed of that any day.
I spare you the account of Israel's river, and of the lovely littlecascade at its very source, where it leaps out between two rocks. I spareyou the hour when we lay under the spruces while it rained, and the littlebirds, ignorant of men and boys, hopped tamely round us. I spare you eventhe rainbow, more than a semicircle, which we saw from Mount Adams.Safely, wetly, and hungry, we five arrived at the Tiptop House about six,amid the congratulations of those who had ridden. The two girls and Willhad come safely up by the cars,--and who do you think had got in at thelast moment when the train started but Pauline and her father, who hadmade a party up from Portland and had with them Ellen Liston and SarahClavers. And who do you think had appeared in the Glen House party, whenthey came, but Esther and her mother and Edward Holiday and his father. Upto this moment of their lives some of these young people had never seenother some. But some had, and we had not long been standing on the rocksmaking out Sebago and the water beyond Portland before they were all verywell acquainted. All fourteen of us went in to supper, and were justbeginning on the goat's milk, when a cry was heard that a party of youngmen in uniform were approaching from the head of Tuckerman's Ravine. Joand Oliver ran out, and in a moment returned to wrench us all from ourcorn-cakes that we might welcome the New Limerick boat-club, who were on apedestrian trip and had come up the Parkman Notch that day. Nice, bravefellows they were,--a little foot-sore. Who should be among them but Tomhimself and Bob Edmeston. They all went and washed, and then with somedifficulty we all got through tea, when the night party from the NotchHouse was announced on horseback, and we sallied forth to welcome them.Nineteen in all, from all nations. Two Japanese princes, and the Secretaryof the Dutch legation, and so on, as usual; but what was not as usual,jolly Mr. Waters and his jollier wife were there,--she astride on hersaddle, as is the sensible fashion of the Notch House,--and, in the longstretching line, we made out Clara Waters and Clem, not together, butClara with a girl whom she did not know, but who rode better than she, andhad whipped both horses with a rattan she had. And who should this girl bebut Sybil Dyer!
As the party filed up, and we lifted tired girls and laughing mothers offthe patient horses, I found that a lucky chance had thrown Maud and herbrother Stephen into the same caravan. There was great kissing when mygirls recognized Maud, and when it became generally known that I wascompetent to introduce to others such pretty and bright people as she andLaura and Sarah Clavers were, I found myself very popular, of a sudden,and in quite general demand.
And I bore my honors meekly, I assure you. I took nice old Mrs. VanAstrachan out to a favorite rock of mine to see the sunset, and, what wasmore marvellous, the heavy thunder-cloud, which was beating up against thewind; and I left the young folks to themselves, only aspiring to be aYouth's Companion. I got Will to bring me Mrs. Van Astrachan's black furs,as it grew cold, but at last the air was so sharp and the storm clearly sonear, that we were all driven in to that nice, cosey parlor at the TiptopHouse, and sat round the hot stove, not sorry to be sheltered, indeed,when we heard the heavy rain on the windows.
We fell to telling stories, and I was telling of the last time I wasthere, when, by great good luck, Starr King turned up, having come overMadison afoot, when I noticed that Hall, one of those patient giants whokept the house, was called out, and, in a moment more, that he returnedand whispered his partner out. In a minute more they returned for theirrubber capes, and then we learned that a man had staggered into the stablehalf frozen and terribly frightened, announcing that he had left somepeople lost just by the Lake of the Clouds. Of course, we were allimmensely excited for half an hour or less, when Hall appeared with avery wet woman, all but senseless, on his shoulder, with her hair hangingdown to the ground. The ladies took her into an inner room, stripped offher wet clothes, and rubbed her dry and warm, gave her a little brandy,and dressed her in the dry linens Mrs. Hall kept ready. Who should sheprove to be, of all the world, but Emma Fortinbras! The men of the partywere her father and her brothers Frank and Robert.
No! that is not all. After the excitement was over they joined us in ourcircle round the stove,--and we should all have been in bed, but that Mr.Hall told such wonderful bear-stories, and it was after ten o'clock thatwe were still sitting there. The shower had quite blown over, when acheery French horn was heard, and the cheery Hall, who was neversurprised, I believe, rushed out again, and I need not say Oliver rushedout with him and Jo Gresham, and before long we all rushed out to welcomethe last party of the day.
These were horseback people, who had come by perhaps the most charmingroute of all,--which is also the oldest of all,--from what was EthanCrawford's. They did not start till noon. They had taken the storm,wisely, in a charcoal camp,--and there are worse places,--and then theyhad spurred up, and here they were. Who were they? Why, there was an armyofficer and his wife, who proved to be Alice Faulconbridge, and with herwas Hatty Fielding's Cousin Fanny, and besides them were Will Withers andhis sister Florence, who had made a charming quartette party with Walterand his sister Theodora, and on this ride had made acquaintance for thefirst time with Colonel Mansfield and Alice. All this was wonderful enoughto me, as Theodora explained it to me when I lifted her off her horse, butwhen I found that Horace Putnam and his brother Enoch were in the sametrain, I said I did believe in astrology.
For though I have not named Jane Smith nor Fanchon, that was because youdid not recognize them among the married people in the Crawford Houseparty,--and I suppose you did not recognize Herbert either. How shouldyou? But, in truth, here we all were up above the clouds on the night ofthe 25th of August.
Did not those Ethan Crawford people eat as if they had never seenbiscuits? And when at last they were done, Stephen, who had been out inthe stables, came in with a black boy he found there, who had his fiddle;and as the Colonel Mansfield party came in from the dining-room, Stevescreamed out, "Take your partners for a Virginia Reel." No! I do not knowwhose partner was who; only this, that there were seventeen boys and menand seventeen girls or women, besides me and Mrs. Van Astrachan andColonel Mansfield and Pauline's mother. And we danced till for one I wasalmost dead, and then we went to bed, to wake up at five in the morning tosee the sunrise.
As we sat on the rocks, on the eastern side, I introduced Stephen toSybil Dyer,--the last two who had not known each other. And I got talkingwith a circle of young folks about what the communion of saintsis,--meaning, of course, just such unselfish society as we had there. Andso dear Laura said, "Why will you not write us down something of what youare saying, Mr. Hale?" And Jo Gresham said, "Pray do,--pray do; if itwere only to tell us

使用道具 举报

发表于 2010-4-28 11:55 | 显示全部楼层
How To Talk

I wish the young people who propose to read any of these papers tounderstand to whom they are addressed. My friend, Frederic Ingham, has anephew, who went to New York on a visit, and while there occupied himselfin buying "travel-presents" for his brothers and sisters at home. Hisfunds ran low; and at last he found that he had still three presents tobuy and only thirty-four cents with which to buy them. He made therequisite calculation as to how much he should have for each,--looked inat Ball and Black's, and at Tiffany's, priced an amethyst necklace, whichhe thought Clara would like, and a set of cameos for Fanfan, and foundthem beyond his reach. He then tried at a nice little toy-shop there is alittle below the Fifth Avenue House, on the west, where a "clever" womanand a good-natured girl keep the shop, and, having there made one or twovain endeavors to suit himself, asked the good-natured girl if she hadnot "got anything a fellow could buy for about eleven cents." She foundhim first one article, then another, and then another. Wat bought themall, and had one cent in his pocket when he came home.
In much the same way these several articles of mine have been waiting inthe bottom of my inkstand and the front of my head for seven or nineyears, without finding precisely the right audience or circle of readers.I explained to Mr. Fields--the amiable Sheik of the amiable tribe whoprepare the "Young Folks" for the young folks--that I had six articles allready to write, but that they were meant for girls say from thirteen toseventeen, and boys say from fourteen to nineteen. I explained that girlsand boys of this age never read the "Atlantic," O no, not by any means!And I supposed that they never read the "Young Folks," O no, not by anymeans! I explained that I could not preach them as sermons, because manyof the children at church were too young, and a few of the grown peoplewere too old. That I was, therefore, detailing them in conversation tosuch of my young friends as chose to hear. On which the Sheik was so goodas to propose to provide for me, as it were, a special opportunity, whichI now use. We jointly explain to the older boys and girls, who ratebetween the ages of thirteen and nineteen, that these essays areexclusively for them.
I had once the honor--on the day after Lee's surrender--to address thegirls of the 12th Street School in New York. "Shall I call you 'girls' or'young ladies'?" said I. "Call us girls, call us girls," was the unanimousanswer. I heard it with great pleasure; for I took it as a nearly certainsign that these three hundred young people were growing up to be truewomen,--which is to say, ladies of the very highest tone.
"Why did I think so?" Because at the age of fifteen, sixteen, andseventeen they took pleasure in calling things by their right names.
So far, then, I trust we understand each other, before any one begins toread these little hints of mine, drawn from forty-five years of very quietlistening to good talkers; which are, however, nothing more than hints.

How To Talk.

Here is a letter from my nephew Tom, a spirited, modest boy of seventeen,who is a student of the Scientific School at New Limerick. He is at homewith his mother for an eight weeks' vacation; and the very first eveningof his return he went round with her to the Vandermeyers', where was alittle gathering of some thirty or forty people,--most of them, as heconfesses, his old schoolmates, a few of them older than himself. But poorTom was mortified, and thinks he was disgraced, because he did not haveanything to say, could not say it if he had, and, in short, because hedoes not talk well. He hates talking parties, he says, and never means togo to one again.
Here is also a letter from Esther W., who may speak for herself, and thetwo may well enough be put upon the same file, and be answered together:--
"Please listen patiently to a confession. I have what seems to me verynatural,--a strong desire to be liked by those whom I meet around me insociety of my own age; but, unfortunately, when with them my manners haveoften been unnatural and constrained, and I have found myself thinking ofmyself, and what others were thinking of me, instead of entering into theenjoyment of the moment as others did. I seem to have naturally verylittle independence, and to be very much afraid of other people, and oftheir opinion. And when, as you might naturally infer from the above, Ioften have not been successful in gaining the favor of those around me,then I have spent a great deal of time in the selfish indulgence of 'theblues,' and in philosophizing on the why and the wherefore of somepersons' agreeableness and popularity and others' unpopularity."
There, is not that a good letter from a nice girl?
Will you please to see, dear Tom, and you also, dear Esther, that both ofyou, after the fashion of your age, are confounding the method with thething. You see how charmingly Mrs. Pallas sits back and goes on with hercrochet while Dr. Volta talks to her; and then, at the right moment, shesays just the right thing, and makes him laugh, or makes him cry, or makeshim defend himself, or makes him explain himself; and you think that thereis a particular knack or rule for doing this so glibly, or that she has aparticular genius for it which you are not born to, and therefore you bothpropose hermitages for yourselves because you cannot do as she does. Dearchildren, it would be a very stupid world if anybody in it did just asanybody else does. There is no particular method about talking or talkingwell. It is one of the things in life which "does itself." And the onlyreason why you do not talk as easily and quite as pleasantly as Mrs.Pallas is, that you are thinking of the method, and coming to me toinquire how to do that which ought to do itself perfectly, simply, andwithout any rules at all.
It is just as foolish girls at school think that there is some particularmethod of drawing with which they shall succeed, while with all othermethods they have failed. "No, I can't draw in india-ink [pronouncedin-jink], 'n' I can't do anything with crayons,--I hate crayons,--'n' Ican't draw pencil-drawings, 'n' I won't try any more; but if this tiresomeold Mr. Apelles was not so obstinate, 'n' would only let me try the'monochromatic drawing,' I know I could do that. 'T so easy. Julia Ann,she drew a beautiful piece in only six lessons."
My poor Pauline, if you cannot see right when you have a crayon in yourhand, and will not draw what you see then, no "monochromatic system" isgoing to help you. But if you will put down on the paper what you see, asyou see it, whether you do it with a cat's tail, as Benjamin West did it,or with a glove turned inside out, as Mr. Hunt bids you do it, you willdraw well. The method is of no use, unless the thing is there; and whenyou have the thing, the method will follow.
So there is no particular method for talking which will not also apply toswimming or skating, or reading or dancing, or in general to living. Andif you fail in talking, it is because you have not yet applied in talkingthe simple master-rules of life.
For instance, the first of these rules is,
Tell the Truth.
Only last night I saw poor Bob Edmeston, who has got to pull through adeal of drift-wood before he gets into clear water, break down completelyin the very beginning of his acquaintance with one of the nicest girls Iknow, because he would not tell the truth, or did not. I was standingright behind them, listening to Dr. Ollapod, who was explaining to me thehistory of the second land-grant made to Gorges, and between the sentencesI had a chance to hear every word poor Bob said to Laura. Mark now, Laurais a nice clever girl, who has come to make the Watsons a visit throughher whole vacation at Poughkeepsie; and all the young people are delightedwith her pleasant ways, and all of them would be glad to know more of herthan they do. Bob really wants to know her, and he was really glad to beintroduced to her. Mrs. Pollexfen presented him to her, and he asked herto dance, and they stood on the side of the cotillon behind me and infront of Dr. Ollapod. After they had taken their places, Bob said: "Jew goto the opera last week, Miss Walter?" He meant, "Did you go to the operalast week?"
"No," said Laura, "I did not."
"O, 't was charming!" said Bob. And there this effort at talk stopped, asit should have done, being founded on nothing but a lie; which is to say,not founded at all. For, in fact, Bob did not care two straws about theopera. He had never been to it but once, and then he was tired before itwas over. But he pretended he cared for it. He thought that at an eveningparty he must talk about the opera, and the lecture season, and theassemblies, and a lot of other trash, about which in fact he carednothing, and so knew nothing. Not caring and not knowing, he could notcarry on his conversation a step. The mere fact that Miss Walter had shownthat she was in real sympathy with him in an indifference to the operathrew him off the track which he never should have been on, and broughthis untimely conversation to an end.
Now, as it happened, Laura's next partner brought her to the very sameplace, or rather she never left it, but Will Hackmatack came and claimedher dance as soon as Bob's was done. Dr. Ollapod had only got down to theappeal made to the lords sitting in equity, when I noticed Will'sbeginning. He spoke right out of the thing he was thinking of.
"I saw you riding this afternoon," he said.
"Yes," said Laura, "we went out by the red mills, and drove up the hill byMr. Pond's."
"Did you?" said Will, eagerly. "Did you see the beehives?"
"Beehives? no;--are there beehives?"
"Why, yes, did not you know that Mr. Pond knows more about bees thanall the world beside? At least, I believe so. He has a gold medal fromParis for his honey or for something. And his arrangements there arevery curious."
"I wish I had known it," said Laura. "I kept bees last summer, and theyalways puzzled me. I tried to get books; but the books are all written forSwitzerland, or England, or anywhere but Orange County."
"Well," said the eager Will, "I do not think Mr. Pond has written anybook, but I really guess he knows a great deal about it. Why, he toldme--" &c., &c., &c.
It was hard for Will to keep the run of the dance; and before it was overhe had promised to ask Mr. Pond when a party of them might come up to thehill and see the establishment; and he felt as well acquainted with Lauraas if he had known her a month. All this ease came from Will's notpretending an interest where he did not feel any, but opening simply wherehe was sure of his ground, and was really interested. More simply, Willdid not tell a lie, as poor Bob had done in that remark about the opera,but told the truth.
If I were permitted to write more than thirty-five pages of thisnote-paper (of which this is the nineteenth), I would tell you twentystories to the same point. And please observe that the distinctionbetween the two systems of talk is the eternal distinction between thepeople whom Thackeray calls snobs and the people who are gentlemen andladies. Gentlemen and ladies are sure of their ground. They pretend tonothing that they are not. They have no occasion to act one or anotherpart. It is not possible for them, even in the choice of subjects, totell lies.
The principle of selecting a subject which thoroughly interests yourequires only one qualification. You may be very intensely interested insome affairs of your own; but in general society you have no right to talkof them, simply because they are not of equal interest to other people. Ofcourse you may come to me for advice, or go to your master, or to yourfather or mother, or to any friend, and in form lay open your own troublesor your own life, and make these the subject of your talk. But in generalsociety you have no right to do this. For the rule of life is, that menand women must not think of themselves, but of others: they must live forothers, and then they will live rightly for themselves. So the second rulefor talk would express itself thus:--
Do Not Talk About Your Own Affairs.
I remember how I was mortified last summer, up at the Tiptop House, thoughI was not in the least to blame, by a display Emma Fortinbras made ofherself. There had gathered round the fire in the sitting-room quite agroup of the different parties who had come up from the different houses,and we all felt warm and comfortable and social; and, to my real delight,Emma and her father and her cousin came in,--they had been belatedsomewhere. She is a sweet pretty little thing, really the belle of thevillage, if we had such things, and we are all quite proud of her in oneway; but I am sorry to say that she is a little goose, and sometimes shemanages to show this just when you don't want her to. Of course she showsthis, as all other geese show themselves, by cackling about things thatinterest no one but herself. When she came into the room, Alice ran to herand kissed her, and took her to the warmest seat, and took her little coldhands to rub them, and began to ask her how it had all happened, andwhere they had been, and all the other questions. Now, you see, this wasa very dangerous position. Poor Emma was not equal to it. The subject wasgiven her, and so far she was not to blame. But when, from the misfortunesof the party, she rushed immediately to detail individual misfortunes ofher own, resting principally on the history of a pair of boots which shehad thought would be strong enough to last all through the expedition, andwhich she had meant to send to Sparhawk's before she left home to havetheir heels cut down, only she had forgotten, and now these boots werethus and thus, and so and so, and she had no others with her, and shewas sure that she did not know what she should do when she got up inthe morning,--I say, when she got as far as this, in all this thrustingupon people who wanted to sympathize a set of matters which had noconnection with what interested them, excepting so far as their personalinterest in her gave it, she violated the central rule of life; for sheshowed she was thinking of herself with more interest than she thought ofothers with. Now to do this is bad living, and it is bad living whichwill show itself in bad talking.
But I hope you see the distinction. If Mr. Agassiz comes to you on theField day of the Essex Society, and says: "Miss Fanchon, I understand thatyou fell over from the steamer as you came from Portland, and had to swimhalf an hour before the boats reached you. Will you be kind enough to tellme how you were taught to swim, and how the chill of the water affectedyou, and, in short, all about your experience?" he then makes choice ofthe subject. He asks for all the detail. It is to gratify him that you gointo the detail, and you may therefore go into it just as far as youchoose. Only take care not to lug in one little detail merely because itinterests you, when there is no possibility that, in itself, it can havean interest for him.
Have you never noticed how the really provoking silence of these brave menwho come back from the war gives a new and particular zest to what theytell us of their adventures? We have to worm it out of them, we drag itfrom them by pincers, and, when we have it, the flavor is all pure. It isexactly what we want,--life highly condensed; and they could have given usindeed nothing more precious, as certainly nothing more charming. But whensome Bobadil braggart volunteers to tell how he did this and that, howhe silenced this battery, and how he rode over that field of carnage,in the first place we do not believe a tenth part of his story, and in thesecond place we wish he would not tell the fraction which we suppose ispossibly true.
Life is given to us that we may learn how to live. That is what it is for.We are here in a great boarding-school, where we are being trained in theuse of our bodies and our minds, so that in another world we may know howto use other bodies and minds with other faculties. Or, if you please,life is a gymnasium. Take which figure you choose. Because of this, goodtalk, following the principle of life, is always directed with a generaldesire for learning rather than teaching. No good talker is obtrusive,thrusting forward his observation on men and things. He is ratherreceptive, trying to get at other people's observations; and what he sayshimself falls from him, as it were, by accident, he unconscious that he issaying anything that is worth while. As the late Professor Harris said,one of the last times I saw him, "There are unsounded depths in a man'snature of which he himself knows nothing till they are revealed to him bythe plash and ripple of his own conversation with other men." This greatprinciple of life, when applied in conversation, may be stated simply thenin two words,--
  Confess Ignorance.
You are both so young that you cannot yet conceive of the amount oftreasure that will yet be poured in upon you, by all sorts of people, ifyou do not go about professing that you have all you want already. Youknow the story of the two school-girls on the Central Railroad. They weredead faint with hunger, having ridden all day without food, but, onconsulting together, agreed that they did not dare to get out at anystation to buy. A modest old doctor of divinity, who was coming home froma meeting of the "American Board," overheard their talk, got somesponge-cake, and pleasantly and civilly offered it to them as he mighthave done to his grandchildren. But poor Sybil, who was nervous andanxious, said, "No, thank you," and so Sarah thought she must say, "No,thank you," too; and so they were nearly dead when they reached theDelavan House. Now just that same thing happens whenever you pretend,either from pride or from shyness, that you know the thing you do notknow. If you go on in that way you will be starved before long, and thecoroner's jury will bring in a verdict, "Served you right." I could havebrayed a girl, whom I will call Jane Smith, last night at Mrs. Pollexfen'sparty, only I remembered, "Though thou bray a fool in a mortar, hisfoolishness will not depart from him," and that much the same may be saidof fools of the other sex. I could have brayed her, I say, when I saw howshe was constantly defrauding herself by cutting off that fine MajorAndrew, who was talking to her, or trying to. Really, no instances giveyou any idea of it. From a silly boarding-school habit, I think, she keptsaying "Yes," as if she would be disgraced by acknowledging ignorance."You know," said he, "what General Taylor said to Santa Anna, when theybrought him in?" "Yes," simpered poor Jane, though in fact she did notknow, and I do not suppose five people in the world do. But poor Andrew,simple as a soldier, believed her and did not tell the story, but went onalluding to it, and they got at once into helpless confusion. Still, hedid not know what the matter was, and before long, when they were speakingof one of the Muhlbach novels, he said, "Did you think of the resemblancebetween the winding up and Redgauntlet?" "O yes," simpered poor Janeagain, though, as it proved, and as she had to explain in two or threeminutes, she had never read a word of Redgauntlet. She had merely said"Yes," and "Yes," and "Yes" not with a distinct notion of fraud, but froman impression that it helps conversation on if you forever assent to whatis said. This is an utter mistake; for, as I hope you see by this time,conversation really depends on the acknowledgment of ignorance,--being,indeed, the providential appointment of God for the easy removal of suchignorance.
And here I must stop, lest you both be tired. In my next paper I shallbegin again, and teach you, 4. To talk to the person you are talking with,and not simper to her or him, while really you are looking all round theroom, and thinking of ten other persons; 5. Never in any other way tounderrate the person you talk with, but to talk your best, whatever thatmay be; and, 6. To be brief,--a point which I shall have to illustrate atgreat length.
If you like, you may confide to the Letter-Box your experiences on thesepoints, as well as on the three on which we have already been engaged.But, whether you do or do not, I shall give to you the result, not only ofmy experiences, but of at least 5,872 years of talk--Lyell says manymore--since Adam gave names to chattering monkeys.

使用道具 举报

发表于 2010-4-28 12:30 | 显示全部楼层
How To Talk II


May I presume that all my young friends between this and Seattle haveread paper Number Two? First class in geography, where is Seattle? Eight.Go up. Have you all read, and inwardly considered, the three rules, "Tellthe truth"; "Talk not of yourself"; and "Confess ignorance"? Have you allpractised them, in moonlight sleigh-ride by the Red River of theNorth,--in moonlight stroll on the beach by St. Augustine,--in eveningparty at Pottsville,--and at the parish sociable in Northfield? Then youare sure of the benefits which will crown your lives if you obey thesethree precepts; and you will, with unfaltering step, move quickly overthe kettle-de-benders of this broken essay, and from the thistle, danger,will pluck the three more flowers which I have promised. I am to teachyou, fourth,--
To Talk To The Person Who Is Talking To You.
This rule is constantly violated by fools and snobs. Now you might as wellturn your head away when you shoot at a bird, or look over your shoulderwhen you have opened a new book,--instead of looking at the bird, orlooking at the book,--as lapse into any of the habits of a man whopretends to talk to one person while he is listening to another, orwatching another, or wondering about another. If you really want to hearwhat Jo Gresham is saying to Alice Faulconbridge, when they are standingnext you in the dance, say so to Will Withers, who is trying to talk withyou. You can say pleasantly, "Mr. Withers, I want very much to overhearwhat Mr. Gresham is saying, and if you will keep still a minute, I think Ican." Then Will Withers will know what to do. You will not be preoccupied,and perhaps you may be able to hear something you were not meant to know.
At this you are disgusted. You throw down the book at once, and say youwill not read any more. You cannot think why this hateful man supposesthat you would do anything so mean.
Then why do you let Will Withers suppose so? All he can tell is what youshow him. If you will listen while he speaks, so as to answerintelligently, and will then speak to him as if there were no otherpersons in the room, he will know fast enough that you are talking to him.But if you just say "yes," and "no," and "indeed," and "certainly," inthat flabby, languid way in which some boys and girls I know pretend totalk sometimes, he will think that you are engaged in thinking of somebodyelse, or something else,--unless, indeed, he supposes that you are notthinking of anything, and that you hardly know what thinking is.
It is just as bad, when you are talking to another girl, or another girl'smother, if you take to watching her hair, or the way she trimmed herfrock, or anything else about her, instead of watching what she is sayingas if that were really what you and she are talking for. I could name toyou young women who seem to go into society for the purpose of studyingthe milliner's business. It is a very good business, and a very properbusiness to study in the right place. I know some very good girls whowould be much improved, and whose husbands would be a great deal happier,if they would study it to more purpose than they do. But do not study itwhile you are talking. No,--not if the Empress EugA(C)nie herself should betalking to you.
[Footnote: This was written in 1869, and I leave it inmemoriam. Indeed, in this May of 1871, EugA(C)nie's chances of receivingClare at Court again are as good as anybody's, and better than some.]
Suppose, when General Dix has presented you and mamma, the Empress shouldsee you in the crowd afterwards, and should send that stiff-looking oldgentleman in a court dress across the room, to ask you to come and talk toher, and should say to you, "Mademoiselle, est-ce que l'on permet auxjeunes filles AmA(C)ricaines se promener A  cheval sans cavalier?" Do you lookher frankly in the face while she speaks, and when she stops, do youanswer her as you would answer Leslie Goldthwaite if you were coming homefrom berrying. Don't you count those pearls that the Empress has tiedround her head, nor think how you can make a necktie like hers out of thatold bit of ribbon that you bought in Syracuse. Tell her, in as good Frenchor as good English as you can muster, what she asks; and if, after youhave answered her lead, she plays again, do you play again; and if sheplays again, do you play again,--till one or other of you takes the trick.But do you think of nothing else, while the talk goes on, but the subjectshe has started, and of her; do not think of yourself, but addressyourself to the single business of meeting her inquiry as well as you can.Then, if it becomes proper for you to ask her a question, you may. Butremember that conversation is what you are there for,--not the study ofmillinery, or fashion, or jewelry, or politics.
Why, I have known men who, while they were smirking, and smiling, andtelling other lies to their partners, were keeping the calendar of thewhole room,--knew who was dancing with whom, and who was looking atpictures, and that Brown had sent up to the lady of the house to tell herthat supper was served, and that she was just looking for her husband thathe might offer Mrs. Grant his arm and take her down stairs. But do youthink their partners liked to be treated so? Do you think their partnerswere worms, who liked to be trampled upon? Do you think they werepachydermatous coleoptera of the dor tribe, who had just fallen fromred-oak trees, and did not know that they were trampled upon? You arewholly mistaken. Those partners were of flesh and blood, like you,--of thesame blood with you, cousins-german of yours on the Anglo-Saxon side,--andthey felt just as badly as you would feel if anybody talked to you whilehe was thinking of the other side of the room.
And I know a man who is, it is true, one of the most noble and unselfishof men, but who had made troops of friends long before people had foundthat out. Long before he had made his present fame, he had found thesetroops of friends. When he was a green, uncouth, unlicked cub of a boy,like you, Stephen, he had made them. And do you ask how? He had made themby listening with all his might. Whoever sailed down on him at an eveningparty and engaged him--though it were the most weary of odd oldladies--was sure, while they were together, of her victim. He would lookher right in the eye, would take in her every shrug and half-whisper,would enter into all her joys and terrors and hopes, would help her by hissympathy to find out what the trouble was, and, when it was his turn toanswer, he would answer like her own son. Do you wonder that all the oldladies loved him? And it was no special court to old ladies. He talked soto school-boys, and to shy people who had just poked their heads out oftheir shells, and to all the awkward people, and to all the gay and easypeople. And so he compelled them, by his magnetism, to talk so to him.That was the way he made his first friends,--and that was the way, Ithink, that he deserved them.
Did you notice how badly I violated this rule when Dr. Ollapod talked tome of the Gorges land-grants, at Mrs. Pollexfen's? I got very badlypunished, and I deserved what I got, for I had behaved very ill. I oughtnot to have known what Edmeston said, or what Will Hackmatack said. Iought to have been listening, and learning about the Lords sitting inEquity. Only the next day Dr. Ollapod left town without calling on me, hewas so much displeased. And when, the next week, I was lecturing inNaguadavick, and the mayor of the town asked me a very simple questionabout the titles in the third range, I knew nothing about it and wasdisgraced. So much for being rude, and not attending to the man who wastalking to me.
Now do not tell me that you cannot attend to stupid people, or long-windedpeople, or vulgar people. You can attend to anybody, if you will rememberwho he is. How do you suppose that Horace Felltham attends to these oldladies, and these shy boys? Why, he remembers that they are all of theblood-royal. To speak very seriously, he remembers whose children theyare,--who is their Father. And that is worth remembering. It is not ofmuch consequence, when you think of that, who made their clothes, or whatsort of grammar they speak in. This rule of talk, indeed, leads to ournext rule, which, as I said of the others, is as essential in conversationas it is in war, in business, in criticism, or in any other affairs ofmen. It is based on the principle of rightly honoring all men. For talk,it may be stated thus:--
  Never Underrate Your Interlocutor.
In the conceit of early life, talking to a man of thrice my age, and ofimmense experience, I said, a little too flippantly, "Was it not theKing of Wurtemberg whose people declined a constitution when he hadoffered it to them?"
"Yes," said my friend, "the King told me the story himself."
Observe what a rebuke this would have been to me, had I presumed to tellhim the fact which he knew ten times as accurately as I. I was just savedfrom sinking into the earth by having couched my statement in the form ofa question. The truth is, that we are all dealing with angels unawares,and we had best make up our minds to that, early in our interviews. One ofthe first of preachers once laid down the law of preaching thus: "Preachas if you were preaching to archangels." This means, "Say the very bestthing you know, and never condescend to your audience." And I once heardMr. William Hunt, who is one of the first artists, say to a class ofteachers, "I shall not try to adapt myself to your various lines ofteaching. I will tell you the best things I know, and you may make theadaptations." If you will boldly try the experiment of entering, withanybody you have to talk with, on the thing which at the moment interestsyou most, you will find out that other people's hearts are much like yourheart, other people's experiences much like yours, and even, my dearJustin, that some other people know as much as you know. In short, nevertalk down to people; but talk to them from your best thought and your bestfeeling, without trying for it on the one hand, but without rejecting iton the other.
You will be amazed, every time you try this experiment, to find how oftenthe man or the woman whom you first happen to speak to is the very personwho can tell you just what you want to know. My friend Ingham, who is aworking minister in a large town, says that when he comes from a housewhere everything is in a tangle, and all wrong, he knows no way ofrighting things but by telling the whole story, without the names, in thenext house he happens to call at in his afternoon walk. He says that ifthe Windermeres are all in tears because little Polly lost theirgrandmother's miniature when she was out picking blueberries, and if hetells of their loss at the Ashteroths' where he calls next, it will besure that the daughter of the gardener of the Ashteroths will have foundthe picture of the Windermeres. Remember what I have taught you,--thatconversation is the providential arrangement for the relief of ignorance.Only, as in all medicine, the patient must admit that he is ill, or he cannever be cured. It is only in "Patronage,"--which I am so sorry you boysand girls will not read,--and in other poorer novels, that the leechcures, at a distance, patients who say they need no physician. Find outyour ignorance, first; admit it frankly, second; be ready to recognizewith true honor the next man you meet, third; and then, presto!--althoughit were needed that the floor of the parlor should open, and a littleblack-bearded Merlin be shot up like Jack in a box, as you saw inHumpty-Dumpty,--the right person, who knows the right thing, will appear,and your ignorance will be solved.
What happened to me last week when I was trying to find the History ofYankee Doodle? Did it come to me without my asking? Not a bit of it.Nothing that was true came without my asking. Without my asking, therecame that stuff you saw in the newspapers, which said Yankee Doodle was aSpanish air. That was not true. This was the way I found out what wastrue. I confessed my ignorance; and, as Lewis at Bellombre said of thatill-mannered Power, I had a great deal to confess. What I knew was, thatin "American Anecdotes" an anonymous writer said a friend of his had seenthe air among some Roundhead songs in the collection of a friend of his atCheltenham, and that this air was the basis of Yankee Doodle. What wasmore, there was the old air printed. But then that story was good fornothing till you could prove it. A Methodist minister came to JeremiahMason, and said, "I have seen an angel from heaven who told me that yourclient was innocent." "Yes," said Mr. Mason, "and did he tell you how toprove it?" Unfortunately, in the dear old "American Anecdotes," there wasnot the name of any person, from one cover to the other, who would beresponsible for one syllable of its charming stories. So there I was! AndI went through library after library looking for that Roundhead song, andI could not find it. But when the time came that it was necessary I shouldknow, I confessed ignorance. Well, after that, the first man I spoke tosaid, "No, I don't know anything about it. It is not in my line. But ourold friend Watson knew something about it, or said he did." "Who isWatson?" said I. "O, he's dead ten years ago. But there's a letter by himin the Historical Proceedings, which tells what he knew." So, indeed,there was a letter by Watson. Oddly enough it left out all that was ofdirect importance; but it left in this statement, that he, an authenticperson, wrote the dear old "American Anecdote" story. That was something.So then I gratefully confessed ignorance again, and again, and again. AndI have many friends, so that there were many brave men, and many fairwomen, who were extending the various tentacula of their feeling processesinto the different realms of the known and the unknown, to find that lostscrap of a Roundhead song for me. And so, at last, it was a girl--as old,say, as the youngest who will struggle as far as this page in theCleveland High School--who said, "Why, there is something about it in thatfunny English book, 'Gleanings for the Curious,' I found in the BostonLibrary." And sure enough, in an article perfectly worthless in itself,there were the two words which named the printed collection of music whichthe other people had forgotten to name. These three books were eachuseless alone; but, when brought together, they established a fact. Ittook three people in talk to bring the three books together. And if I hadbeen such a fool that I could not confess ignorance, or such another foolas to have distrusted the people I met with, I should never have had thepleasure of my discovery.
Now I must not go into any more such stories as this, because you will sayI am violating the sixth great rule of talk, which is
  Be Short.
And, besides, you must know that "they say" (whoever they may be) that"young folks" like you skip such explanations, and hurry on to thestories. I do not believe a word of that, but I obey.
I know one Saint. We will call her Agatha. I used to think she could bepainted for Mary Mother, her face is so passionless and pure and good. Iused to want to make her wrap a blue cloth round her head, as if she werein a picture I have a print of, and then, if we could only find thepainter who was as pure and good as she, she should be painted as MaryMother. Well, this sweet Saint has done lovely things in life, and will domore, till she dies. And the people she deals with do many more than she.For her truth and gentleness and loveliness pass into them, and inspirethem, and then, with the light and life they gain from her, they can dowhat, with her light and life, she cannot do. For she herself, like all ofus, has her limitations. And I suppose the one reason why, with suchserenity and energy and long-suffering and unselfishness as hers, she doesnot succeed better in her own person is that she does not know how to "beshort." We cannot all be or do all things. First boy in Latin, you maytranslate that sentence back into Latin, and see how much better it soundsthere than in English. Then send your version to the Letter-Box.
For instance, it may be Agatha's duty to come and tell me that--whatshall we have it?--say that dinner is ready. Now really the best way butone to say that is, "Dinner is ready, sir." The best way is, "Dinner,sir"; for this age, observe, loves to omit the verb. Let it. But really ifSt. Agatha, of whom I speak,--the second of that name, and of theProtestant, not the Roman Canon,--had this to say, she would say: "I am soglad to see you! I do not want to take your time, I am sure, you have somany things to do, and you are so good to everybody, but I knew you wouldlet me tell you this. I was coming up stairs, and I saw your cook,Florence, you know. I always knew her; she used to live at Mrs. Cradock'sbefore she started on her journey; and her sister lived with that friendof mine that I visited the summer Willie was so sick with the mumps, andshe was so kind to him. She was a beautiful woman; her husband would beaway all the day, and, when he came home, she would have a piece ofmince-pie for him, and his slippers warmed and in front of the fire forhim; and, when he was in Cayenne, he died, and they brought his body homein a ship Frederic Marsters was the captain of. It was there that I metFlorence's sister,--not so pretty as Florence, but I think a nice girl.She is married now and lives at Ashland, and has two nice children, a boyand a girl. They are all coming to see us at Thanksgiving. I was so gladto see that Florence was with you, and I did not know it when I came in,and when I met her in the entry I was very much surprised, and she saw Iwas coming in here, and she said, 'Please, will you tell him that dinneris ready?'"
Now it is not simply, you see, that, while an announcement of that naturegoes on, the mutton grows cold, your wife grows tired, the children growcross, and that the subjugation of the world in general is set back, sofar as you are all concerned, a perceptible space of time on The GreatDial. But the tale itself has a wearing and wearying perplexity about it.At the end you doubt if it is your dinner that is ready, or FredMarsters's, or Florence's, or nobody's. Whether there is any real dinner,you doubt. For want of a vigorous nominative case, firmly governing theverb, whether that verb is seen or not, or because this firm nominative ismasked and disguised behind clouds of drapery and other rubbish, the bestof stories, thus told, loses all life, interest, and power.
Leave out then, resolutely. First omit "Speaking of hides," or "Thatreminds me of," or "What you say suggests," or "You make me think of," orany such introductions. Of course you remember what you are saying. Youcould not say it if you did not remember it. It is to be hoped, too, thatyou are thinking of what you are saying. If you are not, you will not helpthe matter by saying you are, no matter if the conversation do have firmand sharp edges. Conversation is not an essay. It has a right to manylarge letters, and many new paragraphs. That is what makes it so much moreinteresting than long, close paragraphs like this, which the printers hateas much as I do, and which they call "solid matter" as if to indicatethat, in proportion, such paragraphs are apt to lack the light, etherealspirit of all life.
Second, in conversation, you need not give authorities, if it be onlyclear that you are not pretending originality. Do not say, as dearPemberton used to, "I have a book at home, which I bought at the sale ofByles's books, in which there is an account of Parry's first voyage, andan explanation of the red snow, which shows that the red snow is," &c.,&c., &c. Instead of this say, "Red snow is," &c., &c., &c. Nobody willthink you are producing this as a discovery of your own. When theauthority is asked for, there will be a fit time for you to tell.
Third, never explain, unless for extreme necessity, who people are. Letthem come in as they do at the play, when you have no play-bill. If whatyou say is otherwise intelligible, the hearers will find out, if it isnecessary, as perhaps it may not be. Go back, if you please, to myaccount of Agatha, and see how much sooner we should all have come todinner if she had not tried to explain about all these people. The truthis, you cannot explain about them. You are led in farther and farther.Frank wants to say, "George went to the Stereopticon yesterday." Insteadof that he says, "A fellow at our school named George, a brother of TomTileston who goes to the Dwight, and is in Miss Somerby's room,--not theMiss Somerby that has the class in the Sunday school,--she's at theBrimmer School,--but her sister,"--and already poor Frank is far fromGeorge, and far from the Stereopticon, and, as I observe, is wanderingfarther and farther. He began with George, but, George having suggestedTom and Miss Somerby, by the same law of thought each of them would havesuggested two others. Poor Frank, who was quite master of his one theme,George, finds unawares that he is dealing with two, gets flurried, butplunges on, only to find, in his remembering, that these two have doubledinto four, and then, conscious that in an instant they will be eight, and,which is worse, eight themes or subjects on which he is not prepared tospeak at all, probably wishes he had never begun. It is certain that everyone else wishes it, whether he does or not. You need not explain. Peopleof sense understand something.
Do you remember the illustration of repartee in Miss Edgeworth? Itis this:--
Mr. Pope, who was crooked and cross, was talking with a young officer.The officer said he thought that in a certain sentence aninterrogation-mark was needed.
"Do you know what an interrogation-mark is?" snarled out the crooked,cross little man.
"It is a crooked little thing that asks questions," said the young man.
And he shut up Mr. Pope for that day.
But you can see that he would not have shut up Mr. Pope at all if he hadhad to introduce his answer and explain it from point to point. If he hadsaid, "Do you really suppose I do not know? Why, really, as long ago aswhen I was at the Charter House School, old William Watrous, who wasmaster there then,--he had been at the school himself, when he and EzekielCheever were boys,--told me that a point of interrogation was a littlecrooked thing that asks questions."
The repartee would have lost a good deal of its force, if this unknownyoung officer had not learned, 1, not to introduce his remarks; 2, not togive authorities; and 3, not to explain who people are. These are,perhaps, enough instances in detail, though they do not in the leastdescribe all the dangers that surround you. Speaking more generally, avoidparentheses as you would poison; and more generally yet, as I said atfirst, BE SHORT.
These six rules must suffice for the present. Observe, I am only speakingof methods. I take it for granted that you are not spiteful, hateful, orwicked otherwise. I do not tell you, therefore, never to talk scandal,because I hope you do not need to learn that. I do not tell you never tobe sly, or mean, in talk. If you need to be told that, you are beyondsuch training as we can give here. Study well, and practise daily thesesix rules, and then you will be prepared for our next instructions,--whichrequire attention to these rules, as all Life does,--when we shallconsider

使用道具 举报

发表于 2010-4-28 13:05 | 显示全部楼层
How To Write

It is supposed that you have learned your letters, and how to make them.
It is supposed that you have written the school copies, from
  Apes and Amazons aim at Art
down to
  Zanies and Zodiacs are the zest of Zoroaster

It is supposed that you can mind your p's and q's, and, as Harriet Byronsaid of Charles Grandison, in the romance which your great-grandmotherknew by heart, "that you can spell well." Observe the advance of thetimes, dear Stephen. That a gentleman should spell well was the onlyliterary requisition which the accomplished lady of his love made upon hima hundred years ago. And you, if you go to Mrs. Vandermeyer's partyto-night, will be asked by the fair Marcia, what is your opinion as to theorigin of the Myth of Ceres!
These things are supposed. It is also supposed that you have, at heart andin practice, the essential rules which have been unfolded in Chapters II.and III. As has been already said, these are as necessary in one duty oflife as in another,--in writing a President's message as in finding yourway by a spotted trail, from Albany to Tamworth.
These things being supposed, we will now consider the special needs forwriting, as a gentleman writes, or a lady, in the English language, whichis, fortunately for us, the best language of them all.
I will tell you, first, the first lesson I learned about it; for it wasthe best, and was central. My first undertaking of importance in this linewas made when I was seven years old. There was a new theatre, and a prizeof a hundred dollars was offered for an ode to be recited at theopening,--or perhaps it was only at the opening of the season. Our schoolwas hard by the theatre, and as we boys were generally short ofspending-money, we conceived the idea of competing for this prize. You cansee that a hundred dollars would have gone a good way in barley-candy andblood-alleys,--which last are things unknown, perhaps, to Young Americato-day. So we resolutely addressed ourselves to writing for the ode. I wassoon snagged, and found the difficulties greater than I had thought. Iconsulted one who has through life been Nestor and Mentor to me,--(Secondclass in Greek,--Wilkins, who was Nestor?--Right; go up. Third class inFrench,--Miss Clara, who was Mentor?--Right; sit down),--and he replied bythis remark, which I beg you to ponder inwardly, and always act upon:--
"Edward," said he, "whenever I am going to write anything, I find it bestto think first what I am going to say."
In the instruction thus conveyed is a lesson which nine writers out of tenhave never learned. Even the people who write leading articles for thenewspapers do not, half the time, know what they are going to say whenthey begin. And I have heard many a sermon which was evidently written bya man who, when he began, only knew what his first "head" was to be. Thesermon was a sort of riddle to himself, when he started, and he wascurious as to how it would come out. I remember a very worthy gentlemanwho sometimes spoke to the Sunday school when I was a boy. He would beginwithout the slightest idea of what he was going to say, but he was surethat the end of the first sentence would help him to the second. This isan example.
"My dear young friends, I do not know that I have anything to say to you,but I am very much obliged to your teachers for asking me to address youthis beautiful morning.--The morning is so beautiful after the refreshmentof the night, that as I walked to church, and looked around and breathedthe fresh air, I felt more than ever what a privilege it is to live in sowonderful a world.--For the world, dear children, has been all contrivedand set in order for us by a Power so much higher than our own, that wemight enjoy our own lives, and live for the happiness and good of ourbrothers and our sisters.--Our brothers and our sisters they are indeed,though some of them are in distant lands, and beneath other skies, andparted from us by the broad oceans.--These oceans, indeed, do not so muchdivide the world as they unite it. They make it one. The winds which blowover them, and the currents which move their waters,--all are ruled by ahigher law, that they may contribute to commerce and to the good ofman.--And man, my dear children," &c., &c., &c.
You see there is no end to it. It is a sort of capping verses withyourself, where you take up the last word, or the last idea of onesentence, and begin the next with it, quite indifferent where you comeout, if you only "occupy the time" that is appointed. It is very easyfor you, but, my dear friends, it is very hard for those who read andwho listen!
The vice goes so far, indeed, that you may divide literature into twogreat classes of books. The smaller class of the two consists of the bookswritten by people who had something to say. They had in life learnedsomething, or seen something, or done something, which they really wantedand needed to tell to other people. They told it. And their writings make,perhaps, a twentieth part of the printed literature of the world. It isthe part which contains all that is worth reading. The othernineteen-twentieths make up the other class. The people have written justas you wrote at school when Miss Winstanley told you to bring in yourcompositions on "Duty Performed." You had very little to say about "DutyPerformed." But Miss Winstanley expected three pages. And she gotthem,--such as they were.
Our first rule is, then,
  Know What You Want To Say.
The second rule is,
  Say It.
That is, do not begin by saying something else, which you think will leadup to what you want to say. I remember, when they tried to teach me tosing, they told me to "think of eight and sing seven." That may be a verygood rule for singing, but it is not a good rule for talking, or writing,or any of the other things that I have to do. I advise you to say thething you want to say. When I began to preach, another of my Nestors saidto me, "Edward, I give you one piece of advice. When you have written yoursermon, leave off the introduction and leave off the conclusion. Theintroduction seems to me always written to show that the minister canpreach two sermons on one text. Leave that off, then, and it will do foranother Sunday. The conclusion is written to apply to the congregation thedoctrine of the sermon. But, if your hearers are such fools that theycannot apply the doctrine to themselves, nothing you can say will helpthem." In this advice was much wisdom. It consists, you see, in advisingto begin, at the beginning, and to stop when you have done.
Thirdly, and always,
  Use Your Own Language.
I mean the language you are accustomed to use in daily life. David didmuch better with his sling than he would have done with Saul's sword andspear. And Hatty Fielding told me, only last week, that she was very sorryshe wore her cousin's pretty brooch to an evening dance, though Fanny hadreally forced it on her. Hatty said, like a sensible girl as she is, thatit made her nervous all the time. She felt as if she were sailing underfalse colors. If your every-day language is not fit for a letter or forprint, it is not fit for talk. And if, by any series of joking or fun, atschool or at home, you have got into the habit of using slang in talk,which is not fit for print, why, the sooner you get out of it the better.Remember that the very highest compliment paid to anything printed is paidwhen a person, hearing it read aloud, thinks it is the remark of thereader made in conversation. Both writer and reader then receive thehighest possible praise.
It is sad enough to see how often this rule is violated. There arefashions of writing. Mr. Dickens, in his wonderful use of exaggeratedlanguage, introduced one. And now you can hardly read the court report ina village paper but you find that the ill-bred boy who makes up what hecalls its "locals" thinks it is funny to write in such a style as this:--
"An unfortunate individual who answered to the somewhat well-wornsobriquet of Jones, and appeared to have been trying some experiments asto the comparative density of his own skull and the materials of thesidewalk, made an involuntary appearance before Mr. Justice Smith."
Now the little fool who writes this does not think of imitating Dickens.He is only imitating another fool, who was imitating another, who wasimitating another,--who, through a score of such imitations, got the ideaof this burlesque exaggeration from some of Mr. Dickens's earlier writingsof thirty years ago. It was very funny when Mr. Dickens originated it. Andalmost always, when he used it, it was very funny. But it is not in theleast funny when these other people use it, to whom it is not natural, andto whom it does not come easily. Just as this boy says "sobriquet,"without knowing at all what the word means, merely because he has read itin another newspaper, everybody, in this vein, gets entrapped into usingwords with the wrong senses, in the wrong places, and making himselfridiculous.
Now it happens, by good luck, that I have, on the table here, a prettyfile of eleven compositions, which Miss Winstanley has sent me, which thegirls in her first class wrote, on the subject I have already named. Thewhole subject, as she gave it out, was, "Duty performed is a Rainbow inthe Soul." I think, myself, that the subject was a hard one, and that MissWinstanley would have done better had she given them a choice from twofamiliar subjects, of which they had lately seen something or readsomething. When young people have to do a thing, it always helps them togive them a choice between two ways of doing it. However, Miss Winstanleygave them this subject. It made a good deal of growling in the school,but, when the time came, of course the girls buckled down to the work,and, as I said before, the three pages wrote themselves, or were writtensomehow or other.
Now I am not going to inflict on you all these eleven compositions. Butthere are three of them which, as it happens, illustrate quite distinctlythe three errors against which I have been warning you. I will copy alittle scrap from each of them. First, here is Pauline's. She wrotewithout any idea, when she began, of what she was going to say.
  "Duty performed is a Rainbow in the Soul.
"A great many people ask the question, 'What is duty?' and there hasbeen a great deal written upon the subject, and many opinions have beenexpressed in a variety of ways. People have different ideas upon it, andsome of them think one thing and some another. And some have very strongviews, and very decided about it. But these are not always to be themost admired, for often those who are so loud about a thing are not theones who know the most upon a subject. Yet it is all very important, andmany things should be done; and, when they are done, we are allembowered in ecstasy."
That is enough of poor Pauline's. And, to tell the truth, she was as muchashamed when she had come out to this "ecstasy," in first writing what shecalled "the plaguy thing," as she is now she reads it from the print. Butshe began that sentence, just as she began the whole, with no idea how itwas to end. Then she got aground. She had said, "it is all veryimportant"; and she did not know that it was better to stop there, if shehad nothing else to say, so, after waiting a good while, knowing that theymust all go to bed at nine, she added, "and many things should be done."Even then, she did not see that the best thing she could do was to put afull stop to the sentence. She watched the other girls, who were goingwell down their second pages, while she had not turned the leaf, and so,in real agony, she added this absurd "when they are done, we are allembowered in ecstasy." The next morning they had to copy the"compositions." She knew what stuff this was, just as well as you and Ido, but it took up twenty good lines, and she could not afford, shethought, to leave it out. Indeed, I am sorry to say, none of her"composition" was any better. She did not know what she wanted to say,when she had done, any better than when she began.
Pauline is the same Pauline who wanted to draw in monochromatic drawing.
Here is the beginning of Sybil's. She is the girl who refused thesponge-cake when Dr. Throop offered it to her. She had an idea that anintroduction helped along,--and this is her introduction.
  "Duty performed is a Rainbow in the Soul.
"I went out at sunset to consider this subject, and beheld how thedeparting orb was scattering his beams over the mountains. Every blade ofgrass was gathering in some rays of beauty, every tree was glittering inthe majesty of parting day.
"I said, 'What is life?--What is duty?' I saw the world folding itself upto rest. The little flowers, the tired sheep, were turning to their fold.So the sun went down. He had done his duty, along with the rest."
And so we got round to "Duty performed," and, the introduction well over,like the tuning of an orchestra, the business of the piece began. Thatlittle slip about the flowers going into their folds was one which Sybilafterwards defended. She said it meant that they folded themselves up. Butit was an oversight when she wrote it; she forgot the flowers, and wasthinking of the sheep.
Now I think you will all agree with me that the whole composition wouldhave been better without this introduction.
Sarah Clavers had a genuine idea, which she had explained to the othergirls much in this way. "I know what Miss Winstanley means. She meansthis. When you have had a real hard time to do what you know you ought todo, when you have made a good deal of fuss about it,--as we all did theday we had to go over to Mr. Ingham's and beg pardon for disturbing theSunday school,--you are so glad it is done, that everything seems nice andquiet and peaceful, just as when a thunder-storm is really over, only justa few drops falling, there comes a nice still minute or two with a rainbowacross the sky. That's what Miss Winstanley means, and that's what I amgoing to say."
Now really, if Sarah had said that, without making the sentencebreathlessly long, it would have been a very decent "composition" for sucha subject. But when poor Sarah got her paper before her, she made twomistakes. First, she thought her school-girl talk was not good enough tobe written down. And, second, she knew that long words took up more roomthan short; so, to fill up her three pages, she translated her littlewords into the largest she could think of. It was just as Dr.Schweigenthal, when he wanted to say "Jesus was going to Jerusalem," said,"The Founder of our religion was proceeding to the metropolis of hiscountry." That took three times as much room and time, you see. So Sarahtranslated her English into the language of the Talkee-talkees;thus:--
  "Duty performed is a Rainbow in the Soul.
"It is frequently observed, that the complete discharge of theobligations pressing upon us as moral agents is attended with conflictand difficulty. Frequently, therefore, we address ourselves to thedischarge of these obligations with some measure of resistance, perhapswith obstinacy, and I may add, indeed, with unwillingness. I wish I couldpersuade myself that our teacher had forgotten" (Sarah looked on this asa masterpiece,--a good line of print, which says, as you see, reallynothing) "the afternoon which was so mortifying to all who wereconcerned, when her appeal to our better selves, and to our educatedconsciousness of what was due to a clergyman, and to the institutions ofreligion, made it necessary for several of the young ladies to cross tothe village," (Sarah wished she could have said metropolis,) "and obtainan interview with the Rev. Mr. Ingham."
And so the composition goes on. Four full pages there are; but you see howthey were gained,--by a vicious style, wholly false to a frank-spoken girllike Sarah. She expanded into what fills sixteen lines on this page what,as she expressed it in conversation, fills only five.
I hope you all see how one of these faults brings on another. Such is theway with all faults; they hunt in couples, or often, indeed, in largercompany. The moment you leave the simple wish to say upon paper the thingyou have thought, you are given over to all these temptations, to writethings which, if any one else wrote them, you would say were absurd, asyou say these school-girls' "compositions" are. Here is a good rule of thereal "Nestor" of our time. He is a great preacher; and one day he wasspeaking of the advantage of sometimes preaching an old sermon a secondtime. "You can change the arrangement," he said. "You can fill in anypoint in the argument, where you see it is not as strong as you proposed.You can add an illustration, if your statement is difficult to understand.Above all, you can
  "Leave Out All The Fine Passages."
I put that in small capitals, for one of our rules. For, in nineteencases out of twenty, the Fine Passage that you are so pleased with, whenyou first write it, is better out of sight than in. Remember Whately'sgreat maxim, "Nobody knows what good things you leave out."
Indeed, to the older of the young friends who favor me by reading thesepages I can give no better advice, by the way, than that they read"Whately's Rhetoric." Read ten pages a day, then turn back, and readthem carefully again, before you put the book by. You will find it avery pleasant book, and it will give you a great many hints for clearand simple expression, which you are not so likely to find in any otherway I know.
Most of you know the difference between Saxon words and Latin words in theEnglish language. You know there were once two languages in England,--theNorman French, which William the Conqueror and his men brought in, and theSaxon of the people who were conquered at that time. The Norman French waslargely composed of words of Latin origin. The English language has beenmade up of the slow mixture of these two; but the real stock, out of whichthis delicious soup is made, is the Saxon,--the Norman French should onlyadd the flavor. In some writing, it is often necessary to use the words ofLatin origin. Thus, in most scientific writing, the Latin words morenicely express the details of the meaning needed. But, to use the Latinword where you have a good Saxon one is still what it was in the times ofWamba and of Cedric,--it is to pretend you are one of the conqueringnobility, when, in fact, you are one of the free people, who speak, andshould be proud to speak, not the French, but the English tongue. To thoseof you who have even a slight knowledge of French or Latin it will be verygood fun, and a very good exercise, to translate, in some thoroughly badauthor, his Latin words into English.
To younger writers, or to those who know only English, this may seem toohard a task. It will be doing much the same thing, if they will trytranslating from long words into short ones.
Here is a piece of weak English. It is not bad in other regards, butsimply weak.
"Entertaining unlimited confidence in your intelligent and patrioticdevotion to the public interest, and being conscious of no motives on mypart which are not inseparable from the honor and advancement of mycountry, I hope it may be my privilege to deserve and secure, not onlyyour cordial co-operation in great public measures, but also thoserelations of mutual confidence and regard which it is always so desirableto cultivate between members of co-ordinate branches of the government."
[Footnote: From Mr. Franklin Pierce's first message to Congress asPresident of the United States.]
Take that for an exercise in translating into shorter words. Strike outthe unnecessary words, and see if it does not come out stronger. The samepassage will serve also as an exercise as to the use of Latin and Saxonwords. Dr. Johnson is generally quoted as the English author who uses mostLatin words. He uses, I think, ten in a hundred. But our Congressmen farexceed him. This sentence uses Latin words at the rate of thirty-five ina hundred. Try a good many experiments in translating from long to short,and you will be sure that, when you have a fair choice between two words,
  A Short Word Is Better Than A Long One.
For instance, I think this sentence would have been better if it had beencouched in thirty-six words instead of eighty-one. I think we should havelost nothing of the author's meaning if he had said, "I have full trust inyou. I am sure that I seek only the honor and advance of the country. Ihope, therefore, that I may earn your respect and regard, while weheartily work together."
I am fond of telling the story of the words which a distinguished friendof mine used in accepting a hard post of duty. He said:--"I do not think Iam fit for this place. But my friends say I am, and I trust them. I shalltake the place, and, when I am in it, I shall do as well as I can."
It is a very grand sentence. Observe that it has not one word which ismore than one syllable. As it happens, also, every word is Saxon,--thereis not one spurt of Latin. Yet this was a learned man, who, if he chose,could have said the whole in Latin. But he was one American gentlemantalking to another American gentleman, and therefore he chose to use thetongue to which they both were born.
We have not space to go into the theory of these rules, as far as I shouldlike to. But you see the force which a short word has, if you can use it,instead of a long one. If you want to say "hush," "hush" is a much betterword than the French "taisez-vous" If you want to say "halt," "halt" ismuch better than the French "arretez-vous" The French have, in fact,borrowed "halte" from us or from the German, for their tactics. For thesame reason, you want to prune out the unnecessary words from yoursentences, and even the classes of words which seem put in to fill up. If,for instance, you can express your idea without an adjective, yoursentence is stronger and more manly. It is better to say "a saint" than"a saintly man." It is better to say "This is the truth" than "This is thetruthful result." Of course an adjective may be absolutely necessary. Butyou may often detect extempore speakers in piling in adjectives, becausethey have not yet hit on the right noun. In writing, this is not to beexcused. "You have all the time there is," when you write, and you dobetter to sink a minute in thinking for one right word, than to put in twoin its place,--because you can do so without loss of time. I hope everyschool-girl knows, what I am sure every school-boy knows, Sheridan'ssaying, that "Easy writing, is hard reading." In general, as I saidbefore, other things being equal,
  "The Fewer Words, The Better,"
"as it seems to me." "As it seems to me" is the quiet way in which Nestorstates things. Would we were all as careful!
There is one adverb or adjective which it is almost always safe to leaveout in America. It is the word "very." I learned that from one of themasters of English style. "Strike out your 'verys,'" said he to me, when Iwas young. I wish I had done so oftener than I have.
For myself, I like short sentences. This is, perhaps, because I have reada good deal of modern French, and I think the French gain in clearness bythe shortness of their sentences. But there are great masters ofstyle,--great enough to handle long sentences well,--and these men wouldnot agree with me. But I will tell you this, that if you have a sentencewhich you do not like, the best experiment to try on it is the experimentMedea tried on the old goat, when she wanted to make him over:--
  Cut It To Pieces.
What shall I take for illustration? You will be more interested in one ofthese school-girls' themes than in an old Congress speech I have heremarked for copying. Here is the first draft of Laura Walter's composition,which happens to be tied up in the same red ribbon with the finishedexercises. I will copy a piece of that, and then you shall see, from thecorrected "composition," what came of it, when she cut it to pieces, andapplied the other rules which we have been studying.
  Laura's First Draft.
"Duty performed is a Rainbow in the Soul.
"I cannot conceive, and therefore I cannot attempt adequately to consider,the full probable meaning of the metaphorical expression with which thepresent 'subject' concludes,--nor do I suppose it is absolutely necessarythat I should do so, for expressing the various impressions which I haveformed on the subject taken as a whole, which have occurred to me in suchcareful meditation as I have been able to give to it,--in naturalconnection with an affecting little incident, which I will now, so far asmy limited space will permit, proceed, however inadequately, to describe.
"My dear little brother Frankie--as sweet a little fellow as ever plaguedhis sister's life out, or troubled the kindest of mothers in her dailyduties--was one day returning from school, when he met my father hurryingfrom his office, and was directed by him to proceed as quickly as waspossible to the post-office, and make inquiry there for a letter of a gooddeal of importance which he had reason to expect, or at the least to hopefor, by the New York mail."
Laura had come as far as this early in the week, when bedtime came. Thenext day she read it all, and saw it was sad stuff, and she frankly askedherself why. The answer was, that she had really been trying to spin outthree pages. "Now," said Laura to herself, "that is not fair." And shefinished the piece in a very different way, as you shall see. Then shewent back over this introduction, and struck out the fine passages. Thenshe struck out the long words, and put in short ones. Then she saw shecould do better yet,--and she cut that long introductory sentence topieces. Then she saw that none of it was strictly necessary, if she onlyexplained why she gave up the rainbow part. And, after all thesereductions, the first part of the essay which I have copied was cut downand changed so that it read thus:--
  "Duty performed is a Rainbow in the Soul.
"I do not know what is meant by a Rainbow in the Soul."
Then Laura went on thus:--
"I will try to tell a story of duty performed. My brother Frank was sentto the post-office for a letter. When he came there, the poor child founda big dog at the door of the office, and was afraid to go in. It was justthe dead part of the day in a country village, when even the shops arelocked up for an hour, and Frank, who is very shy, saw no one whom hecould call upon. He tried to make Miss Evarts, the post-office clerk,hear; but she was in the back of the office. Frank was frightened, but hemeant to do his duty. So he crossed the bridge, walked up to the butcher'sshop in the other village,--which he knew was open,--spent two pennies fora bit of meat, and carried it back to tempt his enemy. He waved it in theair, called the dog, and threw it into the street. The dog was much morewilling to eat the meat than to eat Frankie. He left his post. Frank wentin and tapped on the glass, and Miss Evarts came and gave him the letter.Frank came home in triumph, and papa said it was a finer piece of dutyperformed than the celebrated sacrifice of Casabianca's would have been,had it happened that Casabianca ever made it."
That is the shortest of these "compositions." It is much the best. MissWinstanley took the occasion to tell the girls, that, other things beingequal, a short "composition" is better than a long one. A short"composition" which shows thought and care, is much better than a long onewhich "writes itself."
I dislike the word "composition," but I use it, because it is familiar. Ithink "essay" or "piece" or even "theme" a better word.
Will you go over Laura's story and see where it could be shortened, andwhat Latin words could be changed for better Saxon ones?
Will you take care, in writing yourself, never to say "commence" or"presume"?
In the next chapter we will ask each other

使用道具 举报

发表于 2010-4-28 13:40 | 显示全部楼层
How To Read

I.--The Choice of Books.

You are not to expect any stories this time. There will be very few wordsabout Stephen, or Sybil, or Sarah. My business now is rather to answer, aswell as I can, such questions as young people ask who are beginning tohave their time at their own command, and can make their own selection ofthe books they are to read. I have before me, as I write, a handful ofletters which have been written to the office of "The Young Folks," askingsuch questions. And all my intelligent young friends are asking each othersuch questions, and so ask them of me every day. I shall answer thesequestions by laying down some general rules, just as I have done beforebut I shall try to put you into the way of choosing your own books, ratherthan choosing for you a long, defined list of them.
I believe very thoroughly in courses of reading, because I believe inhaving one book lead to another. But, after the beginning, these coursesfor different persons will vary very much from each other. You all go outto a great picnic, and meet together in some pleasant place in the woods,and you put down the baskets there, and leave the pail with the ice in theshadiest place you can find, and cover it up with the blanket. Then youall set out in this great forest, which we call Literature. But it is onlya few of the party, who choose to start hand in hand along a gravel-paththere is, which leads straight to the Burgesses' well, and probably thosefew enjoy less and gain less from the day's excursion than any of therest. The rest break up into different knots, and go some here and somethere, as their occasion and their genius call them. Some go afterflowers, some after berries, some after butterflies; some knock the rocksto pieces, some get up where there is a fine view, some sit down and copythe stumps, some go into water, some make a fire, some find a camp ofIndians and learn how to make baskets. Then they all come back to thepicnic in good spirits and with good appetites, each eager to tell theothers what he has seen and heard, each having satisfied his own taste andgenius, and each and all having made vastly more out of the day than ifthey had all held to the gravel-path and walked in column to theBurgesses' well and back again.
This, you see, is a long parable for the purpose of making you rememberthat there are but few books which it is necessary for every intelligentboy and girl, man and woman, to have read. Of those few, I had as liefgive the list here.
First is the Bible, of which not only is an intelligent knowledgenecessary for your healthy growth in religious life, but--which is of lessconsequence, indeed--it is as necessary for your tolerable understandingof the literature, or even science, of a world which for eighteencenturies has been under the steady influence of the Bible. Around theEnglish version of it, as Mr. Marsh shows so well, the English languageof the last three centuries has revolved, as the earth revolves around thesun. He means, that although the language of one time differs from that ofanother, it is always at about the same distance from the language of KingJames's Bible.
[Footnote: Marsh's Lectures on the English Language: veryentertaining books.]
Second, every one ought to be quite well informed as to the history of thecountry in which he lives. All of you should know the general history ofthe United States well. You should know the history of your own State inmore detail, and of your own town in the most detail of all.
Third, an American needs to have a clear knowledge of the general featuresof the history of England.
Now it does not make so much difference how you compass this generalhistorical knowledge, if, in its main features, you do compass it. WhenMr. Lincoln went down to Norfolk to see the rebel commissioners, Mr.Hunter, on their side, cited, as a precedent for the action which hewanted the President to pursue, the negotiations between Charles theFirst and his Parliament. Mr. Lincoln's eyes twinkled, and he said, "Uponquestions of history I must refer you to Mr. Seward, for he is posted uponsuch things, and I do not profess to be. My only distinct recollection ofthe matter is, that Charles lost his head." Now you see it is of no sortof consequence how Mr. Lincoln got his thoroughly sound knowledge of thehistory of England,--in which, by the way, he was entirely at home,--andhe had a perfect right to pay the compliment he did to Mr. Seward; but itwas of great importance to him that he should not be haunted with the fearthat the other man did know, really, of some important piece ofnegotiation of which he was ignorant. It was important to him to knowthat, so that he might be sure that his joke was--as it was--exactly thefitting answer.
Fourth, it is necessary that every intelligent American or Englishmanshould have read carefully most of Shakespeare's plays. Most people wouldhave named them before the history, but I do not. I do not care, however,how early you read them in life, and, as we shall see, they will be amongyour best guides for the history of England.
Lastly, it is a disgrace to read even the newspaper, without knowingwhere the places are which are spoken of. You need, therefore, the verybest atlas you can provide yourself with. The atlas you had when youstudied geography at school is better than none. But if you can compassany more precise and full, so much the better. Colton's American Atlas isgood. The large cheap maps, published two on one roller by Lloyd, aregood; if you can give but five dollars for your maps, perhaps this is thebest investment. Mr. Fay's beautiful atlas costs but three and a halfdollars. For the other hemisphere, Black's Atlas is good. Rogers's,published in Edinburgh, is very complete in its American maps. Stieler'sis cheap and reliable.
When people talk of the "books which no gentleman's library should bewithout," the list may be boiled down, I think--if in any stress we shouldbe reduced to the bread-and-water diet--to such books as will cover thesefive fundamental necessities. If you cannot buy the Bible, the agent ofthe County Bible Society will give you one. You can buy the whole ofShakespeare for fifty cents in Dicks's edition. And, within two miles ofthe place where you live, there are books enough for all the historicalstudy I have prescribed. So, in what I now go on to say, I shall take itfor granted that we have all of us made thus much preparation, or can makeit. These are the central stores of the picnic, which we can fall backupon, after our explorations in our various lines of literature.
Now for our several courses of reading. How am I to know what are yourseveral tastes, or the several lines of your genius? Here are, as I learnfrom Mr. Osgood, some seventy-six thousand five hundred and forty-threeYoung Folks, be the same more or less, who are reading this paper. How amI to tell what are their seventy-six thousand five hundred and forty-threetastes, dispositions, or lines of genius? I cannot tell. Perhaps theycould not tell themselves, not being skilled in self-analysis; and it isby no means necessary that they should be able to tell. Perhaps we can setdown on paper what will be much better, the rules or the system by whicheach of them may read well in the line of his own genius, and so find out,before he has done with this life, what the line of that genius is, as faras there is any occasion.
  Do Not Try To Read Everything.
That is the first rule. Do not think you must be a Universal Genius. Donot "read all Reviews," as an old code I had bade young men do. And giveup, as early as you can, the passion, with which all young peoplenaturally begin, of "keeping up with the literature of the time." As forthe literature of the time, if one were to adopt any extreme rule, Mr.Emerson's would be the better of the two possible extremes. He says it iswise to read no book till it has been printed a year; that, before theyear is well over, many of those books drift out of sight, which just nowall the newspapers are telling you to read. But then, seriously, I do notsuppose he acts on that rule himself. Nor need you and I. Only, we willnot try to read them all.
Here I must warn my young friend Jamie not to go on talking aboutrenouncing "nineteenth century trash."
It will not do to use such words about a century in which have writtenGoethe, Fichte, Cuvier, Schleiermacher, Martineau, Scott, Tennyson,Thackeray, Browning, and Dickens, not to mention a hundred others whomJamie likes to read as much as I do.
No. We will trust to conversation with the others, who have had theirdifferent paths in this picnic party of ours, to learn from them just thebrightest and best things that they have seen and heard. And we will tryto be able to tell them, simply and truly, the best things we find on ourown paths. Now, for selecting the path, what shall we do,--since onecannot in one little life attempt them all?
You can select for yourself, if you will only keep a cool head, and haveyour eyes open. First of all, remember that what you want from books isthe information in them, and the stimulus they give to you, and theamusement for your recreation. You do not read for the poor pleasure ofsaying you have read them. You are reading for the subject, much more thanfor the particular book, and if you find that you have exhausted all thebook has on your subject, then you are to leave that book, whether youhave read it through or not. In some cases you read because the author'sown mind is worth knowing; and then the more you read the better you knowhim. But these cases do not affect the rule. You read for what is in thebooks, not that you may mark such a book off from a "course of reading,"or say at the next meeting of the "Philogabblian Society" that you "havejust been reading Kant" or "Godwin." What is the subject, then, which youwant to read upon?
Half the boys and girls who read this have been so well trained that theyknow. They know what they want to know. One is sure that she wants to knowmore about Mary Queen of Scots; another, that he wants to know more aboutfly-fishing; another, that she wants to know more about the Egyptianhieroglyphics; another, that he wants to know more about propagating newvarieties of pansies; another, that she wants to know more about "The Ringand the Book"; another, that he wants to know more about the "Tenure ofOffice bill" Happy is this half. To know your ignorance is the great firststep to its relief. To confess it, as has been said before, is the second.In a minute I will be ready to say what I can to this happy half; but oneminute first for the less happy half, who know they want to read somethingbecause it is so nice to read a pleasant book, but who do not know whatthat something is. They come to us, as their ancestors came to a relativeof mine who was librarian of a town library sixty years ago: "Please, sir,mother wants a sermon book, and another book."
To these undecided ones I simply say, now has the time come for decision.Your school studies have undoubtedly opened up so many subjects to youthat you very naturally find it hard to select between them. Shall youkeep up your drawing, or your music, or your history, or your botany, oryour chemistry? Very well in the schools, my dear Alice, to have startedyou in these things, but now you are coming to be a woman, it is for youto decide which shall go forward; it is not for Miss Winstanley, far lessfor me, who never saw your face, and know nothing of what you can orcannot do.
Now you can decide in this way. Tell me, or tell yourself, what is thepassage in your reading or in your life for the last week which rests onyour memory. Let us see if we thoroughly understand that passage. If we donot, we will see if we cannot learn to. That will give us a "course ofreading" for the next twelve months, or if we choose, for the rest of ourlives. There is no end, you will see, to a true course of reading; and, onthe other hand, you may about as well begin at one place as another.Remember that you have infinite lives before you, so you need not hurry inthe details for fear the work should be never done.
Now I must show you how to go to work, by supposing you have beeninterested in some particular passage. Let us take a passage fromMacaulay, which I marked in the Edinburgh Review for Sydney to speak,twenty-nine years ago,--I think before I had ever heard Macaulay's name. Agreat many of you boys have spoken it at school since then, and many ofyou girls have heard scraps from it. It is a brilliant passage, rather tooornate for daily food, but not amiss for a luxury, more than candiedorange is after a state dinner. He is speaking of the worldly wisdom andskilful human policy of the method of organization of the Roman CatholicChurch. He says:--
"The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of humancivilization. No other institution is left standing which carries the mindback to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, whencamelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudestroyal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of theSupreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from thePope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century, to the Pope whocrowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the augustdynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The Republic ofVenice came next in antiquity. But the Republic of Venice was modern whencompared to the Papacy; and the Republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacyremains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full oflife and youthful vigor. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to thefarthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed inKent with Augustine; and still confronting hostile kings with the samespirit with which she confronted Attila....
"She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain,before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence stillflourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple ofMecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigor, when some travellerfrom New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his standon a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's."
I. We will not begin by considering the wisdom or the mistake of thegeneral opinion here laid down. We will begin by trying to make out whatis the real meaning of the leading words employed. Look carefully alongthe sentence, and see if you are quite sure of what is meant by such termsas "The Roman Catholic Church," "the Pantheon," "the Flavianamphitheatre," "the Supreme Pontiffs," "the Pope who crowned Napoleon,""the Pope who crowned Pepin," "the Republic of Venice," "the missionarieswho landed in Kent," "Augustine," "the Saxon had set foot in Britain,""the Frank had passed the Rhine," "Grecian eloquence still flourished atAntioch," "idols in Mecca," "New Zealand," "London Bridge," "St. Paul's."
For really working up a subject--and this sentence now is to be oursubject--I advise a blank book, and, for my part, I like to write down thekey words or questions, in a vertical line, quite far apart from eachother, on the first pages. You will see why, if you will read on.
II. Now go to work on this list. What do you really know about theorganization of the Roman Catholic Church? If you find you are vague aboutit, that such knowledge as you have is only half knowledge, which is noknowledge, read till you are clear. Much information is not necessary, butgood, as far as it goes, is necessary on any subject. This is acontroverted subject. You ought to try, therefore, to read some statementby a Catholic author, and some statement by a Protestant. To find out whatto read on this or any subject, there are different clews.
1. Any encyclopA|dia, good or bad, will set you on the trail. Most of youhave or can have an encyclopA|dia at command. There are one-volumeencyclopA|dias better than nothing, which are very cheap. You can pick upan edition of the old EncyclopA|dia Americana, in twelve volumes, for tenor twelve dollars. Or you can buy Appleton's, which is really quite good,for sixty dollars a set. I do not mean to have you rest on anyencyclopA|dia, but you will find one at the start an excellent guide-post.Suppose you have the old EncyclopA|dia Americana. You will find there thatthe "Roman Catholic Church" is treated by two writers,--one a Protestant,and one a Catholic. Read both, and note in your book such allusions asinterest you, which you want more light upon. Do not note everything whichyou do not know, for then you cannot get forward. But note all thatspecially interests you. For instance, it seems that the Roman CatholicChurch is not so called by that church itself. The officers of that churchmight call it the Roman church, or the Catholic church, but would not callit the Roman Catholic church. At the Congress of Vienna, Cardinal Consalviobjected to the joint use of the words Roman Catholic church. Do you knowwhat the Congress of Vienna was? No? then make a memorandum, if you wantto know. We might put in another for Cardinal Consalvi. He was a man, whohad a father and mother, perhaps brothers and sisters. He will give us alittle human interest, if we stop to look him up. But do not stop for himnow. Work through "Roman Catholic Church," and keep these memoranda inyour book for another day.
2. Quite different from the encyclopA|dia is another book of reference,"Poole's Index." This is a general index to seventy-three magazines andreviews, which were published between the years 1802 and 1852. Now a greatdeal of the best work of this century has been put into such journals. Areference, then, to "Poole's Index" is a reference to some of the bestseparate papers on the subjects which for fifty years had most interestfor the world of reading men and women. Let us try "Poole's Index" on "TheRepublic of Venice." There are references to articles on Venice in the NewEngland Magazine, in the Pamphleteer, in the Monthly Review, Edinburgh,Quarterly, Westminster, and De Bow's Reviews. Copy all these referencescarefully, if you have any chance at any time of access to any of thesejournals. It is not, you know, at all necessary to have them in thehouse. Probably there is some friend's collection or public library whereyou can find one or more of them. If you live in or near Boston, or NewYork, or Philadelphia, or Charleston, or New Orleans, or Cincinnati, orChicago, or St. Louis, or Ithaca, you can find every one.
When you have carefully gone down this original list, and made yourmemoranda for it, you are prepared to work out these memoranda. You beginnow to see how many there are. You must be guided, of course, in yourreading, by the time you have, and by the opportunity for getting thebooks. But, aside from that, you may choose what you like best, for abeginning. To make this simple by an illustration, I will suppose you havebeen using the old EncyclopA|dia Americana, or Appleton's CyclopA|dia andPoole's Index only, for your first list. As I should draw it up, it wouldlook like this:--

                        ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
See (for instance)                  Eclectic Rev., 4th S. 13, 485.Council of Trent.                   Quart. Rev., 71, 108.Chrysostom.                         For. Quart. Rev., 27, 184.Congress of Vienna.                 Brownson's Rev., 2d S. 1, 413; 3, 309.Cardinal Consalvi.                  N. Brit. Rev., 10, 21.
                        THE PANTHEON.
Built by Agrippa. Consecrated,607, to St. Mary ad Martyros.Called Rotunda.
                        THE FLAVIAN AMPHITHEATRE.
The Coliseum, b. by T. FlaviusVespasian.
                        SUPREME PONTIFFS.
Popes. The line begins with       New-Englander, 7, 169.St. Peter, A. D. 42. Ends       N. Brit. Rev., 11, 135.with Pius IX., 1846.
                       POPE WHO CROWNED NAPOLEON.
Pius VII., at Notre Dame, in      For. Quart. Rev., 20, 54.Paris, Dec. 2, 1804.
                        POPE WHO CROWNED PEPIN.
Probably Pepin le Bref is meant.But he was not crowned bya Pope. Crowned by ArchbishopBoniface of Mayence,at the advice of Pope Zachary.b. @ 715. d. 768.
                          REPUBLIC OF VENICE.
452 to 1815. St. Real's History.       Quart. Rev. 31, 420.Otway's Tragedy, Venice Preserved.   Month. Rev., 90, 525.Hazlitt's Hist, of Venice.           West. Rev., 23, 38.Ruskin's Stones of Venice.
                         MISSIONARIES IN KENT.
                                       Dublin Univ. Mag., 21, 212.
There are two Augustines. Thisis St. Austin, b. in 5th century,d. 604-614.Southey's Book of Church.Sharon Turner's Anglo-Saxons.Wm. of Malmesbury.Bede's Ecc. History.
                            SAXON IN BRITAIN.
Turner as above.                       Edin. Rev., 89, 79.Ang.-Saxon Chronicle.                  Quart. Rev., 7, 92.Six old Eng. Chronicles.               Eclect. Rev., 25, 669.
                         FRANK PASSED THE RHINE.
Well established on west side,         For. Quart. Rev., 17, 139.at the beginning of 5th century.
                       GREEK ELOQUENCE AT ANTIOCH.
Muller's Antiquitates AntiochianA|      Greek Orators. Ed. Rev., 36, 62.
                              IDOLS IN MECCA.
Burckhardt's Travels.Burton's Travels.
                                NEW ZEALAND.
3 islands, as large as Italy.         N. Am. Rev., 18, 328.Discovered, 1642; taken by Cookfor England, 1769.Gov. sent out, 1838.                  West. Rev., 45, 133.Thomson's story of N. Z.              Edin. Rev., 91, 231; 56, 333.Cook's Voyages.                       N. Brit. Rev., 16, 176.Sir G. Gray's Poems, &c. of           Living Age.Maoris.
                               LONDON BRIDGE.
5 elliptical arches. "Presentsan aspect unequalled for interestand animation."
                                ST. PAUL'S.
Built in thirty years between1675 and 1705, by Christ.Wren.

Now I am by no means going to leave you to the reading of cyclopA|dias.The vice of cyclopA|dias is that they are dull. What is done for thispassage of Macaulay in the lists above is only preliminary. It could beeasily done in three hours' time, if you went carefully to work. And whenyou have done it, you have taught yourself a good deal about your ownknowledge and your own ignorance,--about what you should read and whatyou should not attempt. So far it fits you for selecting your own courseof reading.
I have arranged this only by way of illustration. I do not mean that Ithink these a particularly interesting or particularly important series ofsubjects. I do mean, however, to show you that the moment you will siftany book or any series of subjects, you will be finding out where yourignorance is, and what you want to know.
Supposing you belong to the fortunate half of people who know what theyneed, I should advise you to begin in just the same way.
For instance, Walter, to whom I alluded above, wants to know aboutFly-Fishing. This is the way his list looks.

    CYCLOPEDIA.                         POOLE'S INDEX.
(For instance)                      Quart. Rev., 69, 121; 37, 345.W. Scott, Redgauntlet.              Edin. Rev., 78, 46, or 87; 93,174, or 340.
Dr. Davy's Researches, 1839.        Am. Whig Rev., 6, 490.Cuvier and Valenciennes, Hist.      N. Brit. Rev., 11, 32, or 95; I,Naturelle des Poissons, Vol.        326; 8, 160; or Liv. Age, 2,XXI.                                291; 17, I.Blackwood, 51, 296.Richardson's Fauna Bor. Amer.       Quart. Rev., 67, 98, or 332; 69,226.Blackwood, 10, 249; 49, 302;De Kay, ZoAlogy of N. Y.              21, 815; 24, 248; 35, 775;Agassiz, Lake Superior.               38, 119; 63, 673; 5, 123; 5,281; 7, 137.Fraser, 42, 136.
See also,
  Izaak Walton, Compleat Angler. (Walton and Cotton first appeared, 1750.)Humphrey Day's Salmonia, or The Days of Fly-Fishing,Blakey, History of Angling Literature.Oppianus, De Venatione, Piscatione et Aucupio. (Halieutica translated.)Jones's English translation was published in Oxford, 1722.Bronner, Fischergedichte und Erzahlungen (Fishermen's Songs and Stories).Norris, T., American Angler's Book.Zouch, Life of Iz. Walton.Salmon Fisheries. Parliamentary Reports. Annual."Blackwood's Magazine, an important landmark in English anglingliterature." See Noctes AmbrosianA|.H. W. Beecher, N. Y. Independent, 1853.In the New York edition of Walton and Cotton is a list of books onAngling, which Blakey enlarges. His list contains four hundred andfifty titles.American Angler's Guide, 1849.Storer, D. H., Fishes of Massachusetts.Storer, D. H., Fishes of N. America.Girard, Fresh-Water Fishes of N. America (SmithsonianContributions, Vol. III.).Richard Penn, Maxims and Hints for an Angler, and Miseries of Fishing,1839.James Wilson, The Rod and the Gun, 1840.Herbert, Frank Forester's Fish of N. America.Yarrel's British Fishes.The same, on the Growth of Salmon.Boy's Own Book.

Please to observe, now, that nobody is obliged to read up all theauthorities that we have lighted on. What the lists mean is this;--thatyou have made the inquiry for "a sermon book and another book," and youare now thus far on your way toward an answer. These are the first answersthat come to hand. Work on and you will have more. I cannot pretend togive that answer for any one of you,--far less for all those who would belikely to be interested in all the subjects which are named here. But withsuch clews as are given above, you will soon find your ways into thedifferent parts that interest you of our great picnic grove.
Remember, however, that there are no royal roads. The difference between awell-educated person and one not well educated is, that the first knowshow to find what he needs, and the other does not. It is not so much thatthe first is better informed on details than the second, though heprobably is. But his power to collect the details at short notice isvastly greater than is that of the uneducated or unlearned man.
In different homes, the resources at command are so different that I mustnot try to advise much as to your next step beyond the lists above. Thereare many good catalogues of books, with indexes to subjects. In theCongressional Library, my friend Mr. Vinton is preparing a magnificent"Index of Subjects," which will be of great use to the whole nation. InHarvard College Library they have a manuscript catalogue referring to thesubjects described in the books of that collection. The "Cross-References"of the Astor Catalogue, and of the Boston Library Catalogue, areinvaluable to all readers, young or old. Your teacher at school can helpyou in nothing more than in directing you to the books you need on anysubject. Do not go and say, "Miss Winstanley, or Miss Parsons, I want anice book"; but have sense enough to know what you want it to be about.Be able to say,--"Miss Parsons, I should like to know about heraldry," or"about butterflies," or "about water-color painting," or "about RobertBrowning," or "about the Mysteries of Udolpho." Miss Parsons will tell youwhat to read. And she will be very glad to tell you. Or if you are not atschool, this very thing among others is what the minister is for. Do notbe frightened. He will be very glad to see you. Go round to his house, noton Saturday, but at the time he receives guests, and say to him: "Mr.Ingham, we girls have made quite a collection of old porcelain, and wewant to know more about it. Will you be kind enough to tell us where wecan find anything about porcelain. We have read Miss Edgeworth's 'PrussianVase' and we have read 'Palissy the Potter,' and we should like to knowmore about SAvres, and Dresden, and Palissy." Ingham will be delighted,and in a fortnight, if you will go to work, you will know more about whatyou ask for than any one person knows in America.
And I do not mean that all your reading is to be digging or hard work. Ican show that I do not, by supposing that we carry out the plan of thelist above,--on any one of its details, and write down the books whichthat detail suggests to us. Perhaps VENICE has seemed to you the mostinteresting head of these which we have named. If we follow that up onlyin the references given above, we shall find our book list for Venice,just as it comes, in no order but that of accident, is:--

St. Real, Relation des Espagnols contre Venise.Otway's Venice Preserved.Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.Howells's Venetian Life.Blondus. De Origine Venetorum.Muratori's Annals.Ruskin's Stones of Venice.D'Israeli's Contarini Fleming.Contarina, Della Republica di Venetia.Flagg, Venice from 1797 to 1849.Crassus, De Republica Veneta.Jarmot, De Republica Veneta.Voltaire's General History.Sismondi's History of Italy.Lord Byron's Letters.Sketches of Venetian History, Fam. Library, 26, 27.Venetian History, Hazlitt.Dandolo, G. La Caduta della Republica di Venezia (The Fall of theRepublic of Venice).Ridolfi, C., Lives of the Venetian Painters.Monagas, J. T., Late Events in Venice.Delavigne, Marino Faliero, a Historical Drama.Lord Byron, The same.Smedley's Sketches from Venetian History.Daru, Hist. de la Republique de Venise.

So much for the way in which to choose your books. As to the choice, youwill make it, not I. If you are a goose, cackling a great deal, silly atheart and wholly indifferent about to-morrow, you will choose just whatyou call the interesting titles. If you are a girl of sense, or a boy ofsense, you will choose, when you have made your list, at least two books,determined to master them. You will choose one on the side of information,and one for the purpose of amusement, on the side of fancy. If you choosein "Venice" the "Merchant of Venice," you will not add to it "VenicePreserved," but you will add to it, say the Venetian chapters of"Sismondi's Italy." You will read every day; and you will divide yourreading time into the two departments,--you will read for fact and youwill read for fancy. Roots must have leaves, you know, and leaves musthave roots. Bodies must have spirits, and, for this world at least,spirits must have bodies. Fact must be lighted by fancy, and fancy must bebalanced by fact. Making this the principle of your selection, you may,nay, you must, select for yourselves your books. And in my next chapter Iwill do my best to teach you

使用道具 举报

发表于 2010-4-28 14:15 | 显示全部楼层
How To Read II

Liston tells a story of a nice old lady--I think the foster-sister of thegodmother of his brother-in-law's aunt--who came to make them a visit inthe country. The first day after she arrived proved to be much such a dayas this is,--much such a day as the first of a visit in the country isapt to be,--a heavy pelting north-easter, when it is impossible to goout, and every one is thrown on his own resources in-doors. The differentladies under Mrs. Liston's hospitable roof gathered themselves to theirvarious occupations, and some one asked old Mrs. Dubbadoe if she wouldnot like to read.
She said she should.
"What shall I bring you from the library?" said Miss Ellen. "Do nottrouble yourself to go up stairs."
"My dear Ellen, I should like the same book I had last year when I washere, it was a very nice book, and I was very much interested in it."
"Certainly," said Miss Ellen; "what was it? I will bring it at once."
"I do not remember its name, my dear; your mother brought it to me; Ithink she would know."
But, unfortunately, Mrs. Liston, when applied to, had forgotten.
"Was it a novel, Mrs. Dubbadoe?"
"I can't remember that,--my memory is not as good as it was, my dear,--butit was a very interesting book."
"Do you remember whether it had plates? Was it one of the books of birds,or of natural history?"
"No, dear, I can't tell you about that. But, Ellen, you will find it, Iknow. The color of the cover was the color of the top of the baluster!"
So Ellen went. She has a good eye for color, and as she ran up stairs shetook the shade of the baluster in her eye, matched it perfectly as she ranalong the books in the library with the Russia half-binding of thecoveted volume, and brought that in triumph to Mrs. Dubbadoe. It proved tobe the right book. Mrs. Dubbadoe found in it the piece of corn-coloredworsted she had left for a mark the year before, so she was able to go onwhere she had stopped then.
Liston tells this story to trump one of mine about a schoolmate of ours,who was explaining to me about his theological studies. I asked him whathe had been reading.
"O, a capital book; King lent it to me; I will ask him to lend it to you."
I said I would ask King for the book, if he would tell me who wasthe author.
"I do not remember his name. I had not known his name before. But thatmade no difference. It is a capital book. King told me I should find itso, and I did; I made a real study of it; copied a good deal from itbefore I returned it."
I asked whether it was a book of natural theology.
"I don't know as you would call it natural theology. Perhaps it was. Youhad better see it yourself. Tell King it was the book he lent me."
I was a little persistent, and asked if it were a book of biography.
"Well, I do not know as I should say it was a book of biography. Perhapsyou would say so. I do not remember that there was much biography in it.But it was an excellent book. King had read it himself, and I found it allhe said it was."
I asked if it was critical,--if it explained Scripture.
"Perhaps it did. I should not like to say whether it did or not. You canfind that out yourself if you read it. But it is a very interesting bookand a very valuable book. King said so, and I found it was so. You hadbetter read it, and I know King can tell you what it is."
Now in these two stories is a very good illustration of the way in which agreat many people read. The notion comes into people's lives that the mereprocess of reading is itself virtuous. Because young men who read insteadof gamble are known to be "steadier" than the gamblers, and becausechildren who read on Sunday make less noise and general row than those whowill play tag in the neighbors' front-yards, there has grown up thisnotion, that to read is in itself one of the virtuous acts. Some people,if they told the truth, when counting up the seven virtues, would countthem as Purity, Temperance, Meekness, Frugality, Honesty, Courage, andReading. The consequence is that there are unnumbered people who read asMrs. Dubbadoe did or as Lysimachus did, without the slightest knowledge ofwhat the books have contained.
My dear Dollie, Pollie, Sallie, Marthie, or any other of my young friendswhose names end in ie who have favored me by reading thus far, thechances are three out of four that I could take the last novel but threethat you read, change the scene from England to France, change the timefrom now to the seventeenth century, make the men swear by St. Denis,instead of talking modern slang, name the women Jacqueline and Marguerite,instead of Maud and Blanche, and, if Harpers would print it, as I dare saythey would if the novel was good, you would read it through without onesuspicion that you had read the same book before.
So you see that it is not certain that you know how to read, even if youtook the highest prize for reading in the Amplian class of InghamUniversity at the last exhibition. You may pronounce all the words well,and have all the rising inflections right, and none of the falling oneswrong, and yet not know how to read so that your reading shall be of anypermanent use to you.
For what is the use of reading if you forget it all the next day?
"But, my dear Mr. Hale," says as good a girl as Laura, "how am I going tohelp myself? What I remember I remember, and what I do not remember I donot. I should be very glad to remember all the books I have read, and allthat is in them; but if I can't, I can't, and there is the end of it."
No! my dear Laura, that is not the end of it. And that is the reason thispaper is written. A child of God can, before the end comes, do anythingshe chooses to, with such help as he is willing to give her; and he hasbeen kind enough so to make and so to train you that you can train yourmemory to remember and to recall the useful or the pleasant things youmeet in your reading. Do you know, Laura, that I have here a note youwrote when you were eight years old? It is as badly written as any note Iever saw. There are also twenty words in it spelled wrong. Suppose you hadsaid then, "If I can't, I can't, and there's an end of it." You neverwould have written me in the lady-like, manly handwriting you write into-day, spelling rightly as a matter of mere feeling and of course, sothat you are annoyed now that I should say that every word is spelledcorrectly. Will you think, dear Laura, what a tremendous strain on memoryis involved in all this? Will you remember that you and Miss Sears andMiss Winstanley, and your mother, most of all, have trained your memorytill it can work these marvels? All you have to do now in your reading isto carry such training forward, and you can bring about such a power ofclassification and of retention that you shall be mistress of the booksyou have read for most substantial purposes. To read with such results isreading indeed. And when I say I want to give some hints how to read, itis for reading with that view.
When Harry and Lucy were on their journey to the sea-side, they fell todiscussing whether they had rather have the gift of remembering all theyread, or of once knowing everything, and then taking their chances forrecollecting it when they wanted it. Lucy, who had a quick memory, waswilling to take her chance. But Harry, who was more methodical, hated tolose anything he had once learned, and he thought he had rather have thegood fairy give him the gift of recollecting all he had once learned. Formy part, I quite agree with Harry. There are a great many things that Ihave no desire to know. I do not want to know in what words the King ofAshantee says, "Cut off the heads of those women." I do not want to knowwhether a centipede really has ninety-six legs or one hundred and four. Inever did know. I never shall. I have no occasion to know. And I am gladnot to have my mind lumbered up with the unnecessary information. On theother hand, that which I have once learned or read does in some way orother belong to my personal life. I am very glad if I can reproduce thatin any way, and I am much obliged to anybody who will help me.
For reading, then, the first rules, I think, are: Do not read too much ata time; stop when you are tired; and, in whatever way, make some review ofwhat you read, even as you go along.
Capel Lofft says, in quite an interesting book, which plays about thesurface of things without going very deep, which he callsSelf-Formation,
[Footnote: Self-Formation. Crosby and Nichols. Boston.1845.]
that his whole life was changed, and indeed saved, when he learnedthat he must turn back at the end of each sentence, ask himself what itmeant, if he believed it or disbelieved it, and, so to speak, that he mustpack it away as part of his mental furniture before he took in anothersentence. That is just as a dentist jams one little bit of gold-foil home,and then another, and then another. He does not put one large wad on thehollow tooth, and then crowd it all in at once. Capel Lofft says thatthis reflection--going forward as a serpent does, by a series ofbackward bends over the line--will make a dull book entertaining, and willmake the reader master of every book he reads, through all time. For mypart, I think this is cutting it rather fine, this chopping the book upinto separate bits. I had rather read as one of my wisest counsellors did;he read, say a page, or a paragraph of a page or two, more or less; thenhe would look across at the wall, and consider the author's statement, andfix it on his mind, and then read on. I do not do this, however. I readhalf an hour or an hour, till I am ready, perhaps, to put the book by.Then I examine myself. What has this amounted to? What does he say? Whatdoes he prove? Does he prove it? What is there new in it? Where did he getit? If it is necessary in such an examination you can go back over thepassage, correct your first impression, if it is wrong, find out themeaning that the writer has carelessly concealed, and such a process makesit certain that you yourself will remember his thought or his statement.
I can remember, I think, everything I saw in Europe, which was worthseeing, if I saw it twice. But there was many a wonder which I was takento see in the whirl of sight-seeing, of which I have no memory, and ofwhich I cannot force any recollection. I remember that at Malines--what wecall Mechlin--our train stopped nearly an hour. At the station a crowd ofguides were shouting that there was time to go and see Rubens's pictureof----, at the church of----. This seemed to us a droll contrast to thecry at our stations, "Fifteen minutes for refreshments!" It offered suchaesthetic refreshment in place of carnal oysters, that purely for thefrolic we went to see. We were hurried across some sort of square intothe church, saw the picture, admired it, came away, and forgot it,--clearand clean forgot it! My dear Laura, I do not know what it was about anymore than you do. But if I had gone to that church the next day, and hadseen it again, I should have fixed it forever on my memory. Moral: Renewyour acquaintance with whatever you want to remember. I think Ingham sayssomewhere that it is the slight difference between the two stereoscopicpictures which gives to them, when one overlies the other, their reliefand distinctness. If he does not say it, I will say it for him now.
I think it makes no difference how you make this mental review of theauthor, but I do think it essential that, as you pass from one division ofhis work to another, you should make it somehow.
Another good rule for memory is indispensable, I think,--namely, to readwith a pencil in hand. If the book is your own, you had better make what Imay call your own index to it on the hard white page which lines the coverat the end. That is, you can write down there just a hint of the thingsyou will be apt to like to see again, noting the page on which they are.If the book is not your own, do this on a little slip of paper, which youmay keep separately. These memoranda will be, of course, of all sorts ofthings. Thus they will be facts which you want to know, or funny storieswhich you think will amuse some one, or opinions which you may have adoubt about. Suppose you had got hold of that very rare book, "Veragas'sHistory of the Pacific Ocean and its Shores"; here might be your privateindex at the end of the first volume:--
Percentage of salt in water, 11: Gov. Revillagigedo, 19: Caciques andpotatoes, 23: Lime water for scurvy, 29. Enata, Kanaka, a1/4EuroI1/2I(R)I a1/4EuroI1/2I? 42:Magelhaens vs. Wilkes, 57: Coral insects, 20: Gigantic ferns, 84,&c., &c., &c.
Very likely you may never need one of these references; but if you do, itis certain that you will have no time to waste in hunting for them. Makeyour memorandum, and you are sure.
Bear in mind all along that each book will suggest other books which youare to read sooner or later. In your memoranda note with care the authorswho are referred to of whom you know little or nothing, if you think youshould like to know more, or ought to know more. Do not neglect this lastcondition, however. You do not make the memorandum to show it at thePhilogabblian; you make it for yourself; and it means that you yourselfneed this additional information.
Whether to copy much from books or not? That is a question,--and theanswer is,--"That depends." If you have but few books, and much time andpaper and ink; and if you are likely to have fewer books, why, nothing isnicer and better than to make for use in later life good extract-books toyour own taste, and for your own purposes. But if you own your books, orare likely to have them at command, time is short, and the time spent incopying would probably be better spent in reading. There are some verydiffusive books, difficult because diffusive, of which it is well to writeclose digests, if you are really studying them. When we read John Locke,for instance, in college, we had to make abstracts, and we used to stintourselves to a line for one of his chatty sections. That was good practicefor writing, and we remember what was in the sections to this hour. If youcopy, make a first-rate index to your extracts. They sell books preparedfor the purpose, but you may just as well make your own.
You see I am not contemplating any very rapid or slap-dash work. You mayput that on your novels, or books of amusement, if you choose, and I willnot be very cross about it; but for the books of improvement, I want youto improve by reading them. Do not "gobble" them up so that five yearshence you shall not know whether you have read them or not. What I adviseseems slow to you, but if you will, any of you, make or find two hours aday to read in this fashion, you will be one day accomplished men andwomen. Very few professional men, known to me, get so much time as thatfor careful and systematic reading. If any boy or girl wants really toknow what comes of such reading, I wish he would read the life of myfriend George Livermore, which our friend Charles Deane has just nowwritten for the Historical Society of Massachusetts. There was a youngman, who when he was a boy in a store began his systematic reading. Henever left active and laborious business; but when he died, he was one ofthe accomplished historical scholars of America. He had no superior in hisspecial lines of study; he was a recognized authority and leader amongmen who had given their lives to scholarship.
I have not room to copy it here, but I wish any of you would turn to aletter of Frederick Robertson's, near the end of the second volume of hisletters, where he speaks of this very matter. He says he read, when he wasat Oxford, but sixteen books with his tutors. But he read them so thatthey became a part of himself, "as the iron enters a man's blood." Andthey were books by sixteen of the men who have been leaders of the world.No bad thing, dear Stephen, to have in your blood and brain and bone thevitalizing element that was in the lives of such men.
I need not ask you to look forward so far as to the end of a life as longas Mr. George Livermore's, and as successful. Without asking that, I willsay again, what I have implied already, that any person who will take anyspecial subject of detail, and in a well-provided library will worksteadily on that little subject for a fortnight, will at the end of thefortnight probably know more of that detail than anybody in the countryknows. If you will study by subjects for the truth, you have thesatisfaction of knowing that the ground is soon very nearly all your own.
I do not pretend that books are everything. I may have occasion some dayto teach some of you "How to Observe," and then I shall say some very-hardthings about people who keep their books so close before their eyes thatthey cannot see God's world, nor their fellow-men and women. But booksrightly used are society. Good books are the best society; better than ispossible without them, in any one place, or in any one time. To know howto use them wisely and well is to know how to make Shakespeare and Miltonand Theodore Hook and Thomas Hood step out from the side of your room, atyour will, sit down at your fire, and talk with you for an hour. I have nosuch society at hand, as I write these words, except by such magic. Haveyou in your log-cabin in No. 7?

使用道具 举报

发表于 2010-4-28 14:50 | 显示全部楼层
How To Go Into Society

Some boys and girls are born so that they enjoy society, and all the formsof society, from the beginning. The passion they have for it takes themright through all the formalities and stiffness of morning calls, eveningparties, visits on strangers, and the like, and they have no difficultyabout the duties involved in these things. I do not write for them, andthere is no need, at all, of their reading this paper.
There are other boys and girls who look with half horror and half disgustat all such machinery of society. They have been well brought up, inintelligent, civilized, happy homes. They have their own varied andregular occupations, and it breaks these all up, when they have to go tothe birthday party at the Glascocks', or to spend the evening with theyoung lady from Vincennes who is visiting Mrs. Vandermeyer.
When they have grown older, it happens, very likely, that such boys andgirls have to leave home, and establish themselves at one or another newhome, where more is expected of them in a social way. Here is Stephen, whohas gone through the High School, and has now gone over to New Altona tobe the second teller in the Third National Bank there. Stephen's fatherwas in college with Mr. Brannan, who was quite a leading man in NewAltona. Madam Chenevard is a sister of Mrs. Schuyler, with whom Stephen'smother worked five years on the Sanitary Commission. All the bank officersare kind to Stephen, and ask him to come to their houses, and he, who isone of these young folks whom I have been describing, who knows how to behappy at home, but does not know if he is entertaining or in any wayagreeable in other people's homes, really finds that the greatest hardshipof his new life consists in the hospitalities with which all these kindpeople welcome him.
Here is a part of a letter from Stephen to me,--he writes pretty mucheverything to me: "...Mrs. Judge Tolman has invited me to another ofher evening parties. Everybody says they are very pleasant, and I can seethat they are to people who are not sticks and oafs. But I am a stick andan oaf. I do not like society, and I never did. So I shall decline Mrs.Tolman's invitation; for I have determined to go to no more parties here,but to devote my evenings to reading."
Now this is not snobbery or goodyism on Stephen's part. He is not writinga make-believe letter, to deceive me as to the way in which he is spendinghis time. He really had rather occupy his evening in reading than in goingto Mrs. Tolman's party,--or to Mrs. Anybody's party,--and, at the presentmoment, he really thinks he never shall go to any parties again. Just sotwo little girls part from each other on the sidewalk, saying, "I neverwill speak to you again as long as I live." Only Stephen is in no sortangry with Mrs. Tolman or Mrs. Brannan or Mrs. Chenevard. He only thinksthat their way is one way, and his way is another. His determination isthe same as Tom's was, which I described in Chapter II. But where Tomthought his failure was want of talking power, Steve really thinks that hehates society.
It is for boys and girls like Stephen, who think they are "sticks andoafs," and that they cannot go into society, that this paper is written.
You need not get up from your seats and come and stand in a line for me totalk to you,--tallest at the right, shortest at the left, as if you wereat dancing-school, facing M. LabbassA(C). I can talk to you just as wellwhere you are sitting; and, as Obed Clapp said to me once, I know verywell what you are going to say, before you say it. Dear children, I havehad it said to me four-score and ten times by forty-six boys and forty-sixgirls who were just as dull and just as bright as you are,--as like you,indeed, as two pins.
There is Dunster,--Horace Punster,--at this moment the favorite talker insociety in Washington, as indeed he is on the floor of the House ofRepresentatives. Ask, the next time you are at Washington, how manydinner-parties are put off till a day can be found at which Dunster canbe present. Now I remember very well, how, a year or two after Dunstergraduated, he and Messer, who is now Lieutenant-Governor of Labrador, andsome one whom I will not name, were sitting on the shore of theCattaraugus Lake, rubbing themselves dry after their swim. And Dunstersaid he was not going to any more parties. Mrs. Judge Park had asked him,because she loved his sister, but she did not care for him a draw, and hedid not know the Cattaraugus people, and he was afraid of the girls, whoknew a great deal more than he did, and so he was "no good" to anybody,and he would not go any longer. He would stay at home and read Plato inthe original. Messer wondered at all this; he enjoyed Mrs. Judge Park'sparties, and Mrs. Dr. Holland's teas, and he could not see why as bright afellow as Dunster should not enjoy them. "But I tell you," said Dunster,"that I do not enjoy them; and, what is more, I tell you that these peopledo not want me to come. They ask me because they like my sister, as Isaid, or my father, or my mother."
Then some one else, who was there, whom I do not name, who was at leasttwo years older than these young men, and so was qualified to advise them,addressed them thus:--
"You talk like children. Listen. It is of no consequence whether you liketo go to these places or do not like to go. None of us were sent toCattaraugus to do what we like to do. We were sent here to do what we canto make this place cheerful, spirited, and alive,--a part of the kingdomof heaven. Now if everybody in Cattaraugus sulked off to read Plato, or toread 'The Three Guardsmen,' Cattaraugus would go to the dogs very fast, inits general sulkiness. There must be intimate social order, and this isthe method provided. Therefore, first, we must all of us go to theseparties, whether we want to or not; because we are in the world, not to dowhat we like to do, but what the world needs.
"Second," said this unknown some one, "nothing is more snobbish than thistalk about Mrs. Park's wanting us or not wanting us. It simply shows thatwe are thinking of ourselves a good deal more than she is. What Mrs. Parkwants is as many men at her party as she has women. She has made her listso as to balance them. As the result of that list, she has said she wantedme. Therefore I am going. Perhaps she does want me. If she does, I shalloblige her. Perhaps she does not want me. If she does not, I shall punishher, if I go, for telling what is not true; and I shall go cheered andbuoyed up by that reflection. Anyway I go, not because I want to or do notwant to, but because I am asked; and in a world of mutual relationships itis one of the things that I must do."
No one replied to this address, but they all three put on theirdress-coats and went. Dunster went to every party in Cattaraugus thatwinter, and, as I have said, has since shown himself a most brilliant andsuccessful leader of society.
The truth is to be found in this little sermon. Take society as you findit in the place where you live. Do not set yourself up, at seventeen yearsold, as being so much more virtuous or grand or learned than the youngpeople round you, or the old people round you, that you cannot associatewith them on the accustomed terms of the place. Then you are free from thefirst difficulty of young people who have trouble in society; for you willnot be "stuck up," to use a very happy phrase of your own age. Whenanybody, in good faith, asks you to a party, and you have nopre-engagement or other duty, do not ask whether these people are aboveyou or below you, whether they know more or know less than you do, leastof all ask why they invited you,--but simply go. It is not of muchimportance whether, on that particular occasion, you have what you call agood time or do not have it. But it is of importance that you shall notthink yourself a person of more consequence in the community than others,and that you shall easily and kindly adapt yourself to the social life ofthe people among whom you are.
This is substantially what I have written to Stephen about what he is todo at New Altona.
Now, as for enjoying yourself when you have come to the party,--for I wishyou to understand that, though I have compelled you to go, I am not inthe least cross about it,--but I want you to have what you yourselves calla very good time when you come there. O dear, I can remember perfectly thefirst formal evening party at which I had "a good time." Before that I hadalways hated to go to parties, and since that I have always liked to go. Iam sorry to say I cannot tell you at whose house it was. That isungrateful in me. But I could tell you just how the pillars looked betweenwhich the sliding doors ran, for I was standing by one of them when myeyes were opened, as the Orientals say, and I received great light. I hadbeen asked to this party, as I supposed and as I still suppose, by somepeople who wanted my brother and sister to come, and thought it would notbe kind to ask them without asking me. I did not know five people in theroom. It was in a college town where there were five gentlemen for everylady, so that I could get nobody to dance with me of the people I didknow. So it was that I stood sadly by this pillar, and said to myself,"You were a fool to come here where nobody wants you, and where you didnot want to come; and you look like a fool standing by this pillar withnobody to dance with and nobody to talk to." At this moment, and as if toenlighten the cloud in which I was, the revelation flashed upon me, whichhas ever since set me all right in such matters. Expressed in words, itwould be stated thus: "You are a much greater fool if you suppose thatanybody in this room knows or cares where you are standing or where youare not standing. They are attending to their affairs and you had bestattend to yours, quite indifferent as to what they think of you." In thisreflection I took immense comfort, and it has carried me through everyform of social encounter from that day to this day. I don't remember inthe least what I did, whether I looked at the portfolios ofpictures,--which for some reason young people think a very poky thing todo, but which I like to do,--whether I buttoned some fellow-student whowas less at ease than I, or whether I talked to some nice old lady who hadseen with her own eyes half the history of the world which is worthknowing. I only know that, after I found out that nobody else at the partywas looking at me or was caring for me, I began to enjoy it as thoroughlyas I enjoyed staying at home.
Not long after I read this in Sartor Resartus, which was a great comfortto me: "What Act of Parliament was there that you should be happy? Make upyour mind that you deserve to be hanged, as is most likely, and you willtake it as a favor that you are hanged in silk, and not in hemp." Of whichthe application in this particular case is this: that if Mrs. Park or Mrs.Tolman are kind enough to open their beautiful houses for me, to fill themwith beautiful flowers, to provide a band of music, to have ready theirbooks of prints and their foreign photographs, to light up the walks inthe garden and the greenhouse, and to provide a delicious supper for myentertainment, and then ask, I will say, only one person whom I want tosee, is it not very ungracious, very selfish, and very snobbish for me torefuse to take what is, because of something which is not,--because Ellenis not there or George is not? What Act of Parliament is there that Ishould have everything in my own way?
As it is with most things, then, the rule for going into society is not tohave any rule at all. Go unconsciously; or, as St. Paul puts it, "Do notthink of yourself more highly than you ought to think." Everything butconceit can be forgiven to a young person in society. St. Paul, by theway, high-toned gentleman as he was, is a very thorough guide in suchaffairs, as he is in most others. If you will get the marrow out of thoselittle scraps at the end of his letters, you will not need any hand-booksof etiquette.
As I read this over, to send it to the printer, I recollect that, in oneof the nicest sets of girls I ever knew, they called the thirteenthchapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians the "society chapter."Read it over, and see how well it fits, the next time Maud has beendisagreeable, or you have been provoked yourself in the "German."
"The gentleman is quiet," says Mr. Emerson, whose essay on society youwill read with profit, "the lady is serene." Bearing this in mind, youwill not really expect, when you go to the dance at Mrs. Pollexfen's,that while you are standing in the library explaining to Mr. Sumner whathe does not understand about the Alabama Claims, watching at the sametime with jealous eye the fair form of Sybil as she is waltzing in thathated Clifford's arms,--you will not, I say, really expect that her lightdress will be wafted into the gas-light over her head, she be surroundedwith a lambent flame, Clifford basely abandon her, while she cries, "OFerdinand, Ferdinand!"--nor that you, leaving Mr. Sumner, seizing Mrs.General Grant's camel's hair shawl, rushing down the ball-room, will wrapit around Sybil's uninjured form, and receive then and there the thanksof her father and mother, and their pressing request for your immediateunion in marriage. Such things do not happen outside the Saturdaynewspapers, and it is a great deal better that they do not. "Thegentleman is quiet and the lady is serene." In my own private judgment,the best thing you can do at any party is the particular thing which yourhost or hostess expected you to do when she made the party. If it is awhist party, you had better play whist, if you can. If it is a dancingparty, you had better dance, if you can. If it is a music party, you hadbetter play or sing, if you can. If it is a croquet party, join in thecroquet, if you can. When at Mrs. Thorndike's grand party, Mrs. ColonelGoffe, at seventy-seven, told old Rufus Putnam, who was five years hersenior, that her dancing days were over, he said to her, "Well, it seemsto be the amusement provided for the occasion." I think there is a gooddeal in that. At all events, do not separate yourself from the rest as ifyou were too old or too young, too wise or too foolish, or had not beenenough introduced, or were in any sort of different clay from the rest ofthe pottery.
And now I will not undertake any specific directions for behavior. Youknow I hate them all. I will only repeat to you the advice which myfather, who was my best friend, gave me after the first evening call Iever made. The call was on a gentleman whom both I and my father greatlyloved. I knew he would be pleased to hear that I had made the visit, and,with some pride, I told him, being, as I calculate, thirteen years fivemonths and nineteen days old. He was pleased, very much pleased, and hesaid so. "I am glad you made the call, it was a proper attention to Mr.Palfrey, who is one of your true friends and mine. And now that you beginto make calls, let me give you one piece of advice. Make them short. Thepeople who see you may be very glad to see you. But it is certain theywere occupied with something when you came, and it is certain, therefore,that you have interrupted them."
I was a little dashed in the enthusiasm with which I had told of my firstvisit. But the advice has been worth I cannot tell how much to me,--yearsof life, and hundreds of friends.
Pelham's rule for a visit is, "Stay till you have made an agreeableimpression, and then leave immediately." A plausible rule, but dangerous.What if one should not make an agreeable impression after all? Did notBelch stay till near three in the morning? And when he went, because Ihad dropped asleep, did I not think him more disagreeable than ever?
For all I can say, or anybody else can say, it will be the manner of somepeople to give up meeting other people socially. I am very sorry for them,but I cannot help it. All I can say is that they will be sorry before theyare done. I wish they would read Aesop's fable about the old man and hissons and the bundle of rods. I wish they would find out definitely why Godgave them tongues and lips and ears. I wish they would take to heart thefolly of this constant struggle in which they live, against the whole lawof the being of a gregarious animal like man. What is it that Westerlywrites me, whose note comes to me from the mail just as I finish thispaper? "I do not look for much advance in the world until we can getpeople out of their own self." And what do you hear me quoting to you allthe time,--which you can never deny,--but that "the human race is theindividual of which men and women are so many different members "? Youmay kick against this law, but it is true.
It is the truth around which, like a crystal round its nucleus, all moderncivilization has taken order.

使用道具 举报

发表于 2010-4-28 16:00 | 显示全部楼层
Life At School

I do not mean life at a boarding-school. If I speak of that, it is to beat another time. No, I mean life at a regular every-day school, in townor in the country, where you go in the morning and come away at elevenor at noon, and go again in the afternoon, and come away after two orthree hours. Some young people hate this life, and some like ittolerably well. I propose to give some information which shall make itmore agreeable all round.
And I beg it may be understood that I do not appear as counsel for eitherparty, in the instruction and advice I give. That means that, as thelawyers say, I am not retained by the teachers, formerly calledschoolmistresses and schoolmasters, or by the pupils, formerly called boysand girls. I have been a schoolmaster myself, and I enjoyed the life verymuch, and made among my boys some of the best of the friends of my life.I have also been a school-boy,--and I roughed through my school life withcomparative comfort and ease. As master and as boy I learned some thingswhich I think can be explained to boys and girls now, so as to make lifeat school easier and really more agreeable.
My first rule is, that you
  Accept The Situation.
Perhaps you do not know what that means. It means that, as you are atschool, whether you really like going or not, you determine to make thevery best you can of it, and that you do not make yourself and everybodyelse wretched by sulking and grumbling about it, and wishing school wasdone, and wondering why your father sends you there, and asking leave tolook at the clock in the other room, and so on.
When Dr. Kane or Captain McGlure was lying on a skin on a field of ice, ina blanket bag buttoned over his head, with three men one side of him andthree the other, and a blanket over them all,--with the temperatureseventy-eight degrees below zero, and daylight a month and a half away,the position was by no means comfortable. But a brave man does not growlor sulk in such a position. He "accepts the situation." That is, he takesthat as a thing for granted, about which there is to be no furtherquestion. Then he is in condition to make the best of it, whatever thatbest may be. He can sing "We won't go home till morning," or he can tellthe men the story of William Fitzpatrick and the Belgian coffee-grinder,or he can say "good-night" and imagine himself among the Kentishhop-fields,--till before he knows it the hop-sticks begin walking roundand round, and the haycocks to make faces at him,--and--and--and--he--he--he is fast asleep. That comfort comes of "accepting the situation."
Now here you are at school, I will say, for three hours. Accept thesituation, like a man or a woman, and do not sulk like a fool. As Mr.Abbot says, in his admirable rule, in Rollo or Jonas, "When you grant,grant cheerfully." You have come here to school without a fight, Isuppose. When your father told you to come, you did not insult him, aspeople do in very poor plays and very cheap novels. You did not say tohim, "Miscreant and villain, I renounce thee, I defy thee to the teeth; Iam none of thine, and henceforth I leave thee in thy low estate." You didnot leap in the middle of the night from a three-story window, with yourbest clothes in a handkerchief, and go and assume the charge of a pirateclipper, which was lying hidden in a creek in the Back Bay. On thecontrary, you went to school when the time came. As you have done so,determine, first of all, to make the very best of it. The best can be madefirst-rate. But a great deal depends on you in making it so.
To make the whole thing thoroughly attractive, to make the time passquickly, and to have school life a natural part of your other life, mysecond rule is,
  Do What You Do With All Your Might.
It is a good rule in anything; in sleeping, in playing, or in whateveryou have in hand. But nothing tends to make school time pass quicker; andthe great point, as I will acknowledge, is to get through with the schoolhours as quickly as we fairly can.
Now if in written arithmetic, for instance, you will start instantly onthe sums as soon as they are given out; if you will bear on hard on thepencil, so as to make clear white marks, instead of greasy, flabby, paleones on the slate; if you will rule the columns for the answers ascarefully as if it were a bank ledger you were ruling, or if you will washthe slate so completely that no vestige of old work is there, you willfind that the mere exercise of energy of manner infuses spirit andcorrectness into the thing done.
I remember my drawing-teacher once snapped the top of my pencil with hisforefinger, gently, and it flew across the room. He laughed and said, "Howcan you expect to draw a firm line with a pencil held like that?" It was agood lesson, and it illustrates this rule,--"Do with all your might thework that is to be done."
When I was at school at the old Latin School in Boston,--opposite whereBen Franklin went to school and where his statue is now,--in the same spotin space where you eat your lunch if you go into the ladies' eating-roomat Parker's Hotel,--when I was at school there, I say, things were in thatsemi-barbarous state, that with a school attendance of four hours in themorning, and three in the afternoon, we had but five minutes' recess inthe morning and five in the afternoon. We went "out" in divisions of eightor ten each; and the worst of all was that the play-ground (now called so)was a sort of platform, of which one half was under cover,--all of whichwas, I suppose, sixteen feet long by six wide, with high walls, and stairsleading to it.
Of course we could have sulked away all our recess there, complaining thatwe had no better place. Instead of which, we accepted the situation, wemade the best of it, and with all our might entered on the one amusementpossible in such quarters.
We provided a stout rope, well knotted. As soon as recess began, wedivided into equal parties, one under cover and the other out, graspingthe rope, and endeavoring each to drew the other party across the dividingline. "Greeks and Trojans" you will see the game called in English books.Little we knew of either; but we hardened our hands, toughened ourmuscles, and exercised our chests, arms, and legs much better than couldhave been expected, all by accepting the situation and doing with all ourmight what our hands found to do. Lessons are set for average boys atschool,--boys of the average laziness. If you really go to work with allyour might then, you get a good deal of loose time, which, in general, youcan apply to that standing nuisance, the "evening lesson." Sometimes, Iknow, for what reason I do not know, this study of the evening lesson inschool is prohibited. When it is, the good boys and quick boys have tolearn how to waste their extra time, which seems to be a pity. But with asensible master, it is a thing understood, that it is better for boys orgirls to study hard while they study, and never to learn to dawdle.Taking it for granted that you are in the hands of such masters ormistresses, I will take it for granted that, when you have learned theschool lesson, there will be no objection to your next learning the otherlesson, which lazier boys will have to carry home.
Lastly, you will find you gain a great deal by giving to the school lessonall the color and light which every-day affairs can lend to it. Do not letit be a ghastly skeleton in a closet, but let it come as far as it willinto daily life. When you read in Colburn's Oral Arithmetic, "that a manbought mutton at six cents a pound, and beef at seven," ask your motherwhat she pays a pound now, and do the sum with the figures changed. Whenthe boys come back after vacation, find out where they have been, and lookout Springfield, and the Notch, and Dead River, and Moosehead Lake, on themap,--and know where they are. When you get a chance at the "Republican,"before the others have come down to breakfast, read the Vermont news,under the separate head of that State, and find out how many of thoseVermont towns are on your "Mitchell." When it is your turn to speak, donot be satisfied with a piece from the "Speaker," that all the boys haveheard a hundred times; but get something out of the "Tribune," or the"Companion," or "Young Folks," or from the new "Tennyson" at home.
I once went to examine a high school, on a lonely hillside in a lonelycountry town. The first class was in botany, and they rattled off from thebook very fast. They said "cotyledon," and "syngenesious," and"coniferous," and such words, remarkably well, considering they did notcare two straws about them. Well, when it was my turn to "make a fewremarks," I said,--
I do not remember another word I said, but I do remember the sense ofamazement that a minister should have spoken such a wicked word in aschool-room. What was worse, I sent a child out to bring in some unripehuckleberries from the roadside, and we went to work on our botany tosome purpose.
My dear children, I see hundreds of boys who can tell me what is thirteenseventeenths of two elevenths of five times one half of a bushel of wheat,stated in pecks, quarts, and pints; and yet if I showed them a grain ofwheat, and a grain of unhulled rice, and a grain of barley, they would notknow which was which. Try not to let your school life sweep you whollyaway from the home life of every day.

使用道具 举报

发表于 2010-4-28 16:35 | 显示全部楼层
Life In Vacation

How well I remember my last vacation! I knew it was my last, and I did notlose one instant of it. Six weeks of unalloyed!
True, after school days are over, people have what are called vacations.Your father takes his at the store, and Uncle William has the "longvacation," when the Court does not sit. But a man's vacation, or awoman's, is as nothing when it is compared with a child's or a young man'sor a young woman's home from school. For papa and Uncle William arecarrying about a set of cares with them all the time. They cannot help it,and they carry them bravely, but they carry them all the same. So you seea vacation for men and women is generally a vacation with its weight ofresponsibility. But your vacations, while you are at school, though theyhave their responsibilities, indeed, have none under which you ought notto walk off as cheerfully as Gretchen, there, walks down the road withthat pail of milk upon her head. I hope you will learn to do that someday, my dear Fanchon.
Hear, then, the essential laws of vacation:--
First of all,
  Do Not Get Into Other People's Way.
Horace and Enoch would not have made such a mess of it last summer, andgot so utterly into disgrace, if they could only have kept this rule inmind. But, from mere thoughtlessness, they were making people wish theywere at the North Pole all the time, and it ended in their wishing thatthey were there themselves.
Thus, the very first morning after they had come home from LeicesterAcademy,--and, indeed, they had been welcomed with all the honors only thenight before,--when Margaret, the servant, came down into the kitchen, shefound her fire lighted, indeed, but there were no thanks to Master Enochfor that. The boys were going out gunning that morning, and they had takenit into their heads that the two old fowling-pieces needed to bethoroughly washed out, and with hot water. So they had got up, really athalf past four; had made the kitchen fire themselves; had put on ten timesas much water as they wanted, so it took an age to boil; had got tiredwaiting, and raked out some coals and put on some more water in a skillet;had upset this over the hearth, and tried to wipe it up with the cloththat lay over Margaret's bread-cakes as they were rising; had meanwhiletaken the guns to pieces, and laid the pieces on the kitchen table; hadpiled up their oily cloths on the settle and on the chairs; had spilledoil from the lamp-filler, in trying to drop some into one of the ramrodsockets, and thus, by the time Margaret did come down, her kitchen and herbreakfast both were in a very bad way.
Horace said, when he was arraigned, that he had thought they should be allthrough before half past five; that then they would have "cleared up," andhave been well across the pasture, out of Margaret's way. Horace did notknow that watched pots are "mighty unsartin" in their times of boiling.
Now all this row, leading to great unpopularity of the boys in regionswhere they wanted to be conciliatory, would have been avoided if Horaceand Enoch had merely kept out of the way. There were the Kendal-house inthe back-yard, or the wood-shed, where they could have cleaned the guns,and then nobody would have minded if they had spilled ten quarts of water.
This seems like a minor rule. But I have put it first, because a good dealof comfort or discomfort hangs on it.
Scientifically, the first rule would be,
  Save Time.
This can only be done by system. A vacation is gold, you see, if properlyused; it is distilled gold,--if there could be such,--to be correct, it isburnished, double-refined gold, or gold purified. It cannot be lengthened.There is sure to be too little of it. So you must make sure of all thereis; and this requires system.
It requires, therefore, that, first of all,--even before the term time isover,--you all determine very solemnly what the great central business ofthe vacation shall be. Shall it be an archery club? Or will we build theFalcon's Nest in the buttonwood over on the Strail? Or shall it be someother sport or entertainment?
Let this be decided with great care; and, once decided, hang to thisdetermination, doing something determined about it every living day. Intruth, I recommend application to that business with a good deal offirmness, on every day, rain or shine, even at certain fixed hours;unless, of course, there is some general engagement of the family, or ofthe neighborhood, which interferes. If you are all going on a lily party,why, that will take precedence.
Then I recommend, that, quite distinct from this, you make up your ownpersonal and separate mind as to what is the thing which you yourself havemost hungered and thirsted for in the last term, but have not been able todo to your mind, because the school work interfered so badly. Some suchthing, I have no doubt, there is. You wanted to make some electrotypemedals, as good as that first-rate one that Muldair copied when he livedin Paxton. Or you want to make some plaster casts. Or you want to readsome particular book or books. Or you want to use John's tool-box for somevery definite and attractive purpose. Very well; take this up also, foryour individual or special business. The other is the business of thecrowd; this is your avocation when you are away from the crowd. I sayaway; I mean it is something you can do without having to hunt them up,and coax them to go on with you.
Besides these, of course there is all the home life. You have the gardento work in. You can help your mother wash the tea things. You can makecake, if you keep on the blind side of old Rosamond; and so on.
Thus are you triply armed. Indeed, I know no life which gets onwell, unless it has these three sides, whether life with the others,life by yourself, or such life as may come without any plan oreffort of your own.
No; I do not know which of these things you will choose,--perhaps you willchoose none of them. But it is easy enough to see how fast a day ofvacation will go by if you, Stephen, or you, Clara, have these severalresources or determinations.
Here is the ground-plan of it, as I might steal it from Fanchon'sjournals:--
"TUESDAY.--Second day of vacation. Fair. Wind west. Thermometersixty-three degrees, before breakfast.
"Down stairs in time." [Mem. 1. Be careful about this. It makes muchmore disturbance in the household than you think for, if you are late tobreakfast, and it sets back the day terribly.]
"Wiped while Sarah washed. Herbert read us the new number of 'Tig andTag,' while we did this, and made us scream, by acting it with Silas,behind the sofa and on the chairs. At nine, all was done, and we went upthe pasture to Mont Blanc. Worked all the morning on the drawbridge. Wehave got the two large logs into place, and have dug out part of thetrench. Home at one, quite tired."
[Mem. 2. Mont Blanc is a great boulder,--part of a park of boulders, inthe edge of the wood-lot. Other similar rocks are named the "Jung-frau,"because unclimbable, the "Aiguilles" &c. This about the drawbridge andlogs, readers will understand as well as I do.]
"Had just time to dress for dinner. Mr. Links, or Lynch, was here; a veryinteresting man, who has descended an extinct volcano. He is going togive me some Pele's hair. I think I shall make a museum. After dinner weall sat on the piazza some time, till he went away. Then I came up here,and fixed my drawers. I have moved my bed to the other side of thechamber. This gives me a great deal more room. Then I got out mypalette, and washed it, and my colors. I am going to paint a cluster ofgrape-leaves for mamma's birthday. It is a great secret. I had only gotthe things well out, when the Fosdicks came, and proposed we should allride over with them to Worcester, where Houdin, the juggler, was. Such asplendid time as we have had! How he does some of the things I do notknow. I brought home a flag and three great peppermints for Pet. We didnot get home till nearly eleven."
[Mem. 3. This is pretty late for young people of your age; but, asMadame Roland said, a good deal has to be pardoned to the spirit ofliberty; and, so far as I have observed, in this time, generally is.]
Now if you will analyze that bit of journal, you will see, first, that theday is full of what Mr. Clough calls
  "The joy of eventful living."
That girl never will give anybody cause to say she is tired of hervacations, if she can spend them in that fashion. You will see, next, thatit is all in system, and, as it happens, just on the system I proposed.For you will observe that there is the great plan, with others, of thefortress, the drawbridge, and all that; there is the separate plan forFanchon's self, of the water-color picture; and, lastly, there is theunplanned surrender to the accident of the Fosdicks coming round topropose Houdin.
Will you observe, lastly, that Fanchon is not selfish in these matters,but lends a hand where she finds an opportunity?

使用道具 举报

您需要登录后才可以回帖 登录 | 注册


诚聘英才|移动端|Archiver|版权声明|大家论坛 ( 京ICP备06071611号,京公网安备11010802018363号 

GMT+8, 2017-5-28 14:34 , Processed in 0.496369 second(s), 19 queries .

Powered by Discuz!

© Comsenz Inc.

快速回复 返回顶部 返回列表