THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER.
VOL. VIII.—NO. 357.
OCTOBER 30, 1886.
PRICE ONE PENNY.
THE SHEPHERD'S FAIRY
BY DARLEY DALE, Author of "Fair Katherine," etc.
THE CHATEAU AFTER THE LOSS OF THE BABY.
As the baron had conjectured, the housemaid whom he had called out of the nursery to look for Leon's cane, on finding her master had gone without it, did not hurry back, but stopped talking to some of the other servants for perhaps a quarter of an hour, when she returned to the nursery, and to her amazement found the baby was gone. She was not alarmed at first, except she supposed she should get a scolding from the nurse, who she imagined had come in and taken the child to another room; however, having the excellent excuse that her master had called her away she went in search of the nurse, but now not finding her anywhere, and hearing from the footman that she was not expected back till very late, Marie became seriously alarmed.
"Perhaps madame has taken it into her room; she might have heard it crying, and fetched it," suggested the footman, and Marie, very much against her will, felt she was in duty bound to go and see.
So, knocking at her mistress's door, she called out, "Madame, has she taken the baby?"
The poor little baroness, who was asleep, started up, and called to the servant to come in.
"Madame, has she the baby?" repeated the girl.
"The baby? No, what do you mean? Where is it, and where is nurse?" cried the baroness, jumping up and slipping on a dressing-gown and slippers.
Marie began to cry, and to pour forth such a volley of words, excuses, fears, alarms, and wonders that the baroness could make out nothing, and rushed to the nursery to see for herself what had happened. The empty cradle did not, however, throw much light upon it, and the servants who answered the bell, which the baroness clashed wildly, looked as scared as the sobbing Marie to find the baby had disappeared. A search from attic to basement was at once instituted, the men-servants were sent into the grounds with lanterns, the whole house was turned topsy-turvy, in the midst of which the nurse returned, and finding her baby was gone, went into violent hysterics, while the young baroness, with flying hair and dilated eyes, rushed about, wringing her hands, and looking, as she felt, distracted with grief.
The search was, of course, in vain, and they were just coming to the conclusion that the baby had been stolen, when the baron returned from seeing Leon off.
The moment the baroness heard his voice in the hall she flew down the wide oak staircase, crying, "Arnaud! Arnaud! My precious baby is gone, it is stolen; find her, find her, or I shall go mad." And a glance at her wild eyes almost testified she spoke the truth.
"She is not stolen, she is safe enough," said the baron, sulkily.
"Safe? Where? Where? Take me to her, my precious one; where is she?" cried the baroness, with a loud burst of hysteric laughter on hearing her child was safe.
"Silence, Mathilde, don't behave in this ridiculous style. Come with me," said the baron, in a tone his wife had never heard him use to her before, and which had the effect of reducing her to tears; and, sobbing wildly, she hung on her husband's arm as he half led, half carried her upstairs, and laid her on a sofa in her own room.
"Now, Mathilde, if you will try and compose yourself, I will tell you what I have done with the baby. For some time I have felt sure that you were ruining the child's health by the absurd way in which you coddle it up, and, moreover, making yourself a perfect slave to it, neglecting all your other duties," began the baron, as he seated himself on the edge of the sofa by the side of his sobbing wife, who was, however, much too anxious about her baby to be able to listen patiently to the marital lecture to which the baron was about to treat her.
"But Arnaud! Arnaud! where is the baby? Oh, do tell me; it is cruel to keep me in this suspense," sobbed the baroness.
Now, to be cruel to his wife was the very last thing the baron intended; it was only out of the extremity of his jealous love for her that he had sent the baby away. Thoughtless and selfish he might have been, but surely no one could say he had been guilty of cruelty to this wife, whom he loved so madly that even her love for her child had raised the demon of jealousy within his breast. The word "cruel" stung him to the quick; it was a new phase of his conduct, one that had never struck him before, and as he glanced at the poor little baroness, who had half risen on the sofa, and was looking at him with an agonised look on her pretty face, he was seized with remorse, and felt it impossible to go on with the role he had attempted to play of the wise father and husband, who had only acted for the good of his wife and child. Already he was beginning to repent of his rash act, and if it had been possible to go after the yacht the chances are the baron would have started at once, and brought back the baby for the pleasure of seeing its mother smile again. As it was impossible, the next best thing was to make the best of it, and if Mathilde could not be comforted in any other way, why he must promise to let her have it back again. He decided all this as he petted the baroness, and tried to comfort her by whispering fond nothings into her ear; but he soon found all his caresses were useless, unless he yielded to her entreaties and told her where the baby was, and as all he knew about it was that it was on board Leon's yacht, on which it was being taken, he believed, to England, though he was by no means sure, this did not tend to allay the poor mother's anxious fears.
Her baby confided to the wild Leon's charge, tossed about in a yacht with not a woman on board to take care of it, her fragile little daughter, on whom the wind had never been allowed to blow, now at the mercy of wind and waves for days, and then, supposing the child was alive, which in her present mood the baroness declared to be impossible, even if it were, not to know where it was till Leon came back, perhaps for a week or more, for the baron dare not tell her it would probably be a month before he returned—oh, it was unbearable! She was sure she could neither eat nor sleep until she had her baby back. Life until then would be a burden to her. What could she do without it? Already she was sure it knew her; and oh, how happy she had been watching by its cradle! If Arnaud only knew how she delighted in nursing and playing with it, even to gaze on it while it slept was a joy to her! Oh, if he only understood, he would never have been so cruel as to send it away.
All the baron's arguments as to the advantages to the baby which were to be derived from his scheme, and the wonderful health and strength it was to derive from leading a less luxurious life, failed to reassure the baroness, and she passed a sleepless night, and looked so ill and miserable the next morning that the baron was angry with her for looking ill, and with himself for being the cause. No one in the house but the baroness had been told the night before what had become of the baby, the general opinion being that it had been taken or sent to some woman in the neighbourhood to look after; but when it became known that it was sent away in Leon's charge no one knew where, the sympathy with the baroness was universal, and the baron found himself looked upon as a jealous tyrant, with no real love for either his wife or child.
"A nice father you are," cried his brother Jacques.
"The idea of trusting Leon with a baby. Why, he will pitch it overboard if it cries," said little Louis, a remark which so annoyed the baron that he promptly seized Louis by the collar and turned him out of the room.
"You really must have been mad, Arnaud, to dream of such a thing as entrusting Leon, of all people in the world, with an infant," said the old baroness, for once taking the part of her daughter-in-law against her son.
Pere Yvon said nothing just then; it would not have been wise to have done so while the baron's temper was ruffled by the criticisms of his family or in their presence, but when he was alone with Arnaud, Pere Yvon spoke his mind pretty freely, and read the baron a severer lecture than he had ever done all the years he was under his tuition.
It was nothing but jealousy which had prompted such a mad, cruel act, and jealousy of the most unreasonable—he might almost say unpardonable—kind: a father to be jealous of his wife's love for his own child! There was a German saying, excellent in the original, but which lost the double play upon the words in the translation which Pere Yvon quoted to the baron—
"Die Eifersucht ist eine Leidenschaft, Der mit Eifer sucht muss Leiden schaffen,"
which means, freely translated, that jealousy is a passion which brings misery to him who indulges in it; and Pere Yvon impressed upon Arnaud that if any misfortune happened to the baby, he would have no one to blame but himself, for though all sins bring their own punishment, jealousy is undoubtedly one that can never be indulged in with impunity. This, and much more to the same effect, Pere Yvon said, and the baron, lying in an easy chair, listened patiently enough, partly because he was very fond of the chaplain, and partly because he was so angry with himself now for his folly that it was a relief to him to be blamed roundly for it.
All that day the baroness wandered about the house in a vague, restless way, unable to settle to anything, and trying to amuse herself by consulting with the nurse as to how they should go and fetch the baby back when they discovered where it was. She ate little or nothing, and after another sleepless night looked so worn and ill that the baron sent for a doctor, who came and urged strongly that the baby should be sent for at once, or he would not be answerable for the consequences; the suspense and anxiety were telling so on the baroness that if the strain lasted much longer he feared she would have an attack of brain fever.
On hearing this the baron was dreadfully alarmed, and telegraphed to Leon's agent at Havre to let him know immediately he heard from M. Leon de Thorens, who had sailed two nights before in the Hirondelle for a cruise in the Channel. The agent telegraphed back that he knew no more than M. le Baron at present, but so soon as he received any further information he would let the baron know. This did not reassure the baroness, who had taken it into her head that something had happened to the yacht, and not all Arnaud's promises that the moment he knew where the child was he would go himself and bring her back could comfort the poor, anxious little mother, who, with pale cheeks and black marks round her great brown eyes, which were always large but looked bigger than ever now that they had not been closed since the baby left, wandered about the chateau, looking like a picture of despair.
This lasted for nearly a week, and then came a telegram from the agent to say the Hirondelle was lost in a fog off the east coast of England with all hands drowned. The baron was alone when the telegram was handed to him, and the news was such a shock to him that he read the message over again and again before the words, though they were burnt indelibly into his brain, conveyed their full meaning to his mind. Slowly he grasped the terrible truth; poor Leon, the life of the house, wild, handsome Leon was drowned, and his own poor innocent baby as well, drowned, and by his fault. He was little better than a murderer, he thought, in the first outburst of his grief, and he must tell Mathilde, and perhaps kill her too. How should he ever have the courage to do this? Strange to say, though perhaps, after all, it was not strange, the baron was far more cut up at the sad fate of his little girl, whom, a few days ago, he had been so anxious to get rid of, for a while, at least, than he was at the news of poor Leon's death. So much hung on the baby; Mathilde's life might almost be said to depend upon its recovery, and now he must go and strike the blow which would perhaps kill her. Pere Yvon was indeed right; his jealousy was truly bringing a terrible punishment in its train, and the baron buried his face in his hands, and sobs of bitterest grief shook his whole frame. At last, rousing himself, he went to the door of the study where the chaplain was engaged teaching the younger boys, and beckoned him out. Pere Yvon saw at a glance by the baron's pale, scared face, as well as by the telegram he held in his hand, that something terrible had happened, and drawing Arnaud into the nearest room, he asked eagerly what was the matter. The baron answered by placing the telegram in his hands, and paced the room in a frenzy while Pere Yvon read it. The chaplain's first thought was for the poor widowed mother, whose darling son was thus cut off in the beauty of his youth. He had known her so many years, and had comforted her in so many sorrows, it was natural he should think of her first, before the other mother, who had her husband to comfort her, and whose child was only an infant of a few months old.
"La pauvre baronne! My poor madame! It will break her heart: her darling son," murmured the chaplain.
"Ah, poor Leon. I can't realise it yet that we shall never see him again, and my poor, innocent baby too; it will kill Mathilde. Oh, mon pere, how are we to tell them?" groaned the baron.
"I will tell your mother; it is not the first time I have been the bearer of ill news to her, and you must break it as gently as you can to your wife. It is a sad day indeed for this household, but the Lord's will be done. He knows best, and He will not send any of us more than we are able to bear," replied Pere Yvon, as he went on his sad mission to the old baroness.
As he had said, he had broken many sorrows to her, but he had never had to deal a heavier blow than when he told her her favourite son was drowned, the son of whom she was so proud, whom she loved better than all her other children; but the baroness was a saintly woman, and one of her first sayings after she heard the news was, "Mon pere, it is hard, but it is just—he was my idol."
She did not grieve in any extravagant way; she did not absent herself from any meals; she attended mass, for she was a devout Catholic, in the private chapel every morning, and, indeed, spent a great deal of time there in prayer; she never gave up one of her accustomed duties, visited the poor as regularly as ever, but from the day she heard the sad news to her death, which happened a few years later, she was scarcely seen to smile again, and she was never heard to mention Leon's name except to Pere Yvon. Hers was a life-long sorrow, too deep for words, too deep for even tears to assuage its poignancy; her heart was broken; she had no further interest in this life; all her hopes were centred on that life where she hoped to meet her darling son again, never to be separated from him.
The young baroness bore her trial very differently. She gave way to a passionate outburst of grief on learning that her baby was drowned—a grief in which the baron shared, and was, indeed, in more need of consolation than his wife, for to his sorrow was added remorse and bitterest stings of conscience for having brought such sorrow to his wife, about whom he was very anxious, until the doctor assured him the sad certainty was even better for her than the terrible suspense she had been enduring for the last week. To a young, passionate nature hitherto undisciplined by the sorrows of life, like the young baroness's, anything was easier to bear than suspense, and the doctor assured Arnaud that the passionate grief in which his wife indulged would do her no harm—on the contrary, she was more likely to get over it quickly. Violent grief is rarely lasting; there invariably follows a reaction.
A few days later the baron received another telegram from the Havre agents, telling him they had found out that the Hirondelle had left Yarmouth, on the Norfolk coast, where she had been lying for two or three days, the day before she was lost, and was then intending to cruise round the coast of Great Britain. The baron was immediately raised from the depths of despair to the highest pinnacle of hope on hearing this, for he felt sure Leon had gone ashore at Yarmouth to place the baby with some Englishwoman, and had remained there some days on purpose. Confiding his new hope to Pere Yvon, he at once decided to start that night for England by Dover and Calais, for already steamers ran once or twice a week between these ports. He would then go on to Yarmouth by stage-coach, and make all inquiries for his baby. His difficulty was, he did not know the language, but living near the Chateau de Thorens was a Monsieur de Courcy, who had married an English wife, and spoke English very well. He was intimate with the De Thorens, and the baron hoped he might be able to help him in his trouble.
Accordingly he called on the De Courcys at once, and, to his great relief, Monsieur de Courcy offered to go to Yarmouth with him, while Madame de Courcy suggested that the baroness should come and stay with her during their husbands' absence, for the chateau was a very gloomy place for the poor young mother while the shadow of death rested upon it. Arnaud jumped at this, for he had never been separated from his wife since their marriage, and he would far rather leave her with this pretty young English lady than at the chateau, while his mother's grief for Leon saddened the whole household. It was easy to account for his journey to England, by saying that he was going to get particulars of the accident from the place off which it happened. This would seem only natural to Mathilde, who must on no account be told that he had any hope of finding the child. She had accepted the news of its death without questioning it, and it was far better to let her continue under this impression than to raise fresh hopes, which, after all, might never be realised, and if he could only persuade her to come to Parc du Baffy while he was away he would feel quite happy about her.
Madame de Courcy and the baroness were on intimate terms with each other, although Madame de Courcy was a staunch Protestant, and both the baron and baroness bigoted Romanists; but the great attraction to Mathilde, as Madame de Courcy guessed, would be her child, a beautiful boy of three years old, in whom the baroness had delighted until her own baby was born and absorbed all her time and affection. Knowing this, Madame de Courcy offered to send her boy to the chateau with the baron, hoping to inveigle the baroness to return with him to Parc du Baffy, a manoeuvre which succeeded admirably, for Mathilde, not having seen the little Rex for some weeks, was so enraptured with him that she could not part with him, and as Madame de Courcy could not be asked to spare her child as well as her husband, the baroness consented to go and stay at the Parc while the baron was away. The little Rex was too old to remind her of her own baby, and his pretty mixture of French and English amused her immensely, and for the moment charmed away her sorrow. Had she known the real object of her husband's visit to England, the suspense and anxiety would have made her seriously ill; not knowing it, the change and Rex's society did her good, so that Madame de Courcy was able, after a day or two, to write to the baron and tell him his wife was certainly better and more cheerful since she had been at the Parc du Baffy.
Meanwhile the baron and M. de Courcy reached Yarmouth safely, and learned the day and hour on which the Hirondelle arrived and also left Yarmouth, and that the cause of her remaining so long there was the absconding of an English sailor, named, or, at all events, calling himself, John Smith. The baron was more elated than ever at hearing this, for he knew the Englishman was to place the baby out to nurse, and if he were safe, the chances were that the child was too; but when, after having run two or three John Smiths to earth and discovered that they bore no resemblance to the original, it became evident that the real John Smith had made himself scarce, and was probably not John Smith at all, the baron's hopes of recovering the child again fell, though he could not abandon the idea that if he could only find the runaway sailor he should hear some news of the child. The wish was, perhaps, father to the thought, but he could not help thinking the child was not on board the Hirondelle when she went down, now that he found the English carpenter had left the yacht at Yarmouth. But the baron felt his inability to speak English a great drawback to prosecuting his inquiries as fully as he would have liked, although M. de Courcy was very kind and did all any friend could have been expected to do; still, it was not the same as speaking the language himself, as the baron felt, and he bitterly regretted he had never tried to master its difficulties. Many of the Yarmouth fishermen and boatmen remembered the Hirondelle and the handsome French gentleman to whom she belonged, but not one had ever seen the sign of a baby on board her, though this did not throw much light on the matter, as the baby might easily have been kept below or removed at night.
At last, after spending a week or ten days in fruitless inquiries, the baron and his friend returned to France, the baron convinced in his own mind that some hope of his child being safe still existed, a hope which he dared not communicate to the baroness, but which, nevertheless, lingered in his breast for many a long day.
(To be continued.)
THE ROMANCE OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND;
THE OLD LADY OF THREADNEEDLE STREET.
BY EMMA BREWER.
A gentleman asked me the other day upon what subject I intended next to write, and on telling him that the Editor had kindly permitted me to deal with the Bank of England and the National Debt, he said, "Nonsense! what do girls want to know about the Bank of England and the National Debt? Let them be content to leave all such knowledge to men, and rest satisfied if they get their dividends all right and know how to spend them properly and keep out of debt."
He seemed to forget that to do even the little he permitted us would require knowledge and education of a liberal character, and that without these our desires might outrun our income, and getting into debt might prove our normal condition.
A thorough knowledge of our circumstances is better than partial blindness, and to see things all round and weigh them justly is better than sitting with hands folded while men see and judge for us.
The subjects of the Bank of England and the National Debt are well worth a study, and will not fail to afford us both varied and interesting information.
Among other things they will tell us how the Bank of England came into existence; what the nation did previous to its existence; how our country came to have a debt which it has never been able to pay off, and how it would prove a calamity if it were possible to pay it off suddenly.
Again, we shall learn the meaning of "selling out" and "buying in" money, and what is understood by "consols," "reduced threes," "stocks going up and down," "a run upon the Bank," "panic," and many other such terms.
There is no reason why girls should not be able to give answers to all of these, and every reason why they should, seeing that an intimate knowledge of these subjects is as much a part of our nation's history as is the history of our kings and queens, our wars, and our institutions.
And even beyond this, it is a matter of importance that girls having property, little or much, should understand the character of those to whom they entrust it.
There are many and valuable books published upon these subjects, but they are expensive to buy and take a long time to wade through; in addition to this, they are so learned that we women-folk fail often to get the simple information we require, even when we have read them.
The Bank of England, either by name or by sight, is known, I suppose, to all of us; but its origin, its working, its influence, is not so familiar to us, and it does not seem to me that we should be going at all out of our province if we were to ask the "Old Lady of Threadneedle-street" to tell us something of her history, her household, and her daily life, seeing that most of us contribute to her housekeeping, some more, some less.
We trust her so completely that "safe as the Bank of England" has passed into a proverb; yet, for all that, we should like the old lady's own account of how she came into existence, and how she became such a power in the land, and what she does with all the money we lend her, and out of what purse she pays us for the loan.
She certainly ought to be able to tell an interesting tale—for her palace, her servants, her house-keeping, her treasures, her cellars, her expenditure, her receipts and clearing, the frights she has every now and again both given and received, must each and all be more amusing and full of interest than any fairy tale told by Grimm or Andersen.
THE STORY OF THE OLD LADY OF THREADNEEDLE STREET.
And so you want me to tell you the story of my life! Telling tales is not quite in my line, but I will do the best I can; and should I become garrulous and tedious, as old ladies are wont sometimes to be, you must recall me by a gentle reminder that you live in the present century, whose characteristics are short, decisive, and by all means amusing.
My career has been a strange and eventful one, as you yourselves will see if I can interest you sufficiently to listen to the end.
Of course, I was not always known as the Old Lady of Threadneedle-street; indeed, I can well remember the feeling of annoyance with which I saw Mr. Punch's illustration of me in 1847, as a fat old woman without a trace of beauty, except in my garments, which were made of bank notes. I have kept a copy of it, and will just pencil you the outline.
The annoyance was intensified when I found myself handed down to posterity by him as the Old Lady of Threadneedle-street. He could have no authority for this picture, seeing that, like the Delphian mystery of old, I am invisible, and deliver my oracles through my directors.
You are girls, and will quite understand the distress of being thrust suddenly into old age. Up to 1847 I was young, good-looking, and attractive, and to be bereft of my youth and romance at one blow; to know that from henceforth all would be prosaic and business-like, that I should never again have lovers seeking my favour, was a condition of extreme pain. I had always prided myself on my figure, but even this Mr. Punch did not leave me, but told the world that it was due to tight-lacing. It was very cruel, and I have sometimes thought it was envy of my position; but let that go. I took counsel with myself, and determined to face the future with the resolve to be the very nicest old lady in the world, and to make myself so useful to my fellow-creatures that they should love me and stand by me even though my first youth had passed. And I am sure you will agree with me in thinking that I have accomplished this, and that not only have I kept clear of weakness and decrepitude, but have achieved for myself a reputation and position second to no lady in the land.
It has been necessary for me to make this little explanation, otherwise you might have thought I had never been young. And now to proceed.
It was in the reign of William and Mary that I first saw the light, being born in Mercers' Hall on the 27th of July, 1694.
From this place, after a few months, I was removed to Grocers' Hall, Poultry; not the stately structure with which you are acquainted, but one much more simple, which was razed to make room for the present building.
I may say, without vanity, that my birth created a sensation throughout the length and breadth of the land.
The House of Commons even was not exempt from this excitement, but set aside its serious work to discuss whether or not I should be strangled and put out of the way, or nurtured into strength by its support and countenance.
Those members who were in favour of the last resolution declared that I should rescue the nation out of the hands of extortioners, lower interests, raise the value of land, revive public credit, improve commerce, and connect the people more closely with the Government, while those of the contrary opinion assured the House that I should engross the whole money of the kingdom, that I should weaken commerce by tempting people to withdraw their money from trade, that I should encourage fraud and gaming, and corrupt the morals of the nation.
Little recked I of all the stir and commotion my birth was causing, as, nursed and cared for by my father, William Paterson, a Scotch merchant, and his friend, Mr. Michael Godfrey, I gradually grew into strength. It was not till long afterwards that I heard and understood the circumstances of my birth, and how around me were centred the interests of the kingdom.
When I was only twelve months old, those who were bound together to take care of my interests separated my father from me, giving as an excuse that he was of too speculative and adventurous a spirit to be entrusted with my welfare.
Poor father! It has always seemed to me very sad that he who had worked so long and so persistently for my success should have been condemned to spend the last years of his life in solitude and neglect in Scotland, while I, his child, was gradually becoming everything that his highest ambition could have pictured; but so it was.
I have often wished that he had employed those last weary years of his in writing a history of his life. I am sure it would have interested all classes of readers, but I suppose he was too sad and out of heart. He was forty-one years of age at the time of my birth, having been born in Dumfries in 1658. He was one of those who may be said to live before their time. He possessed great ability, knowledge, and experience, and was a great traveller, yet, with all this, his life was a series of disappointments and failures.
His great friend, Michael Godfrey, who had worked so faithfully by his side, would, I am sure, never have forsaken him, but he was struck down by a ball in the trenches of Namur, in 1695, while seeking the king in my interests.
He was a great loss to me, although I was too young at the time to estimate it fully. He has left behind him a quaint and graphic account of my infancy, with which I shall hope to make you acquainted later on.
Should you feel any interest in him, look in St. Swithin's Church some day when passing, and there you will find a monument to his memory, which records that he "died a batchelour, much lamented by his friends, relations, and acquaintances for his integrity, his knowledge, and the sweetness of his manners."
My name "Bank," which signifies "bench" or "high seat," I derived from Italian forefathers, who, in early days, carried on their business in the public places or exchanges on benches.
This business of theirs consisted chiefly in being the depositories of the wealth of rich people, and making payments for them according to written orders, and further in receiving money from some people on interest, and lending it to others at a higher rate. I have been told that in their day making a profit by lending money was not considered at all an aristocratic proceeding, and procured for those who indulged in it the name of usurers, a word I do not like; it savours of sordidness.
From my very birth I was educated to be reliable, steady, secure, and faithful, and to be true and just in all my dealings.
It was made clear to me that it was the lack of these qualities in the money affairs of the kingdom which had led to the necessity of my existence, and I was made distinctly to understand that it was only upon my developing largely these peculiar traits of character that I should continue the existence thus begun.
* * * * *
My education was quite different from that of other girls. I had to learn arithmetic almost before I could speak, and the state and condition of kings and governments were instilled into my mind as regularly as food into my body.
There were no novels, no light literature for me, except what I could extract for myself out of the dry material placed before me. Still, my mind was not warped with this peculiar bringing up, and now that I am an old woman, I think I can see that I owe this to the character of those who governed and directed me.
Of course, this peculiar education and training kept me far ahead of other girls, and while they were scarcely out of the nursery, and still enjoying battledore and shuttlecock, I was seeking information, either by reading or conversation, concerning my forefathers, position, duties, and property.
Young as I was, I began to feel creeping over me a sense of responsibility, and a longing to know how best to fulfil all that was required of me. I knew that I was rich, but how did I become so? I knew that my riches were expected to make others rich, but how? I was always asking questions, and sometimes succeeded in getting an answer, which served as a clue, and sent me to search old parchments or to make comparisons.
It was some time before I could piece the scraps of information together, but gradually I did so, and then assuredly I saw the awfulness of my influence and position, and determined, with God's blessing, to be a comfort and support to the widows and orphans who trusted in me, as well as a source of strength, security, and honour to the nation and its rulers, and I resolved that henceforth my name, the Bank of England, should carry with it a meaning wherever it was heard, far beyond its original signification; it should be another term for wealth, honour, and thrift—a something to be trusted, and in which nothing foul, mean, or sordid must be found.
(To be continued.)
HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF MUSICAL FORMS.
SKETCH I.—THE ORATORIO AND PASSION MUSIC (SACRED DRAMA).
BY MYLES B. FOSTER, Organist of the Foundling Hospital.
In a former number, in prefacing reviews of new music, we said sufficient upon the subject of listening to music to call the attention of our many readers to the performances going on so frequently in all parts of the world, and now we persuade ourselves that there may be some to whom a short account of the various and varied forms, to which our attention as audience is most frequently invited, would be of interest, even though they have some knowledge of the subject already; and that there may be others to whom these very incomplete sketches may appear as information, and as an incentive to further investigation.
For our first sketch we have chosen the oratorio, for it is undoubtedly the highest form of musical dramatic art, and is founded upon and contains the greatest and deepest truths of the Christian life. As regards the actual music forms employed, we find, indeed, similar ones in the operas, such as the various forms of recitative, the aria, the duet, and the chorus, and even the scena; but in the sacred works, who are the heroes and heroines? Are they not the instruments of the Divine power, the messengers of the good tidings? And what are the subjects? Are they not the struggles, the trials, the victories of noble souls? With such sacred characters, with such lofty thoughts, the composers of the oratorio, dealing, not with the semblance of truth that the opera contains, but with the truth itself, are bound to express their feelings and emotions in the grandest and most perfect thoughts.
Purely sentimental ideas, and the whole list of passions and struggles in human existence, rather form the basis of opera than the proper subjects for oratorio, and the modern attempts to transform the sacred ideal into the region of operatic and dramatic realism seem to fall singularly short of expectation. To our minds, the strongest period in the history of oratorio was the time of Handel and Bach, and writers of to-day have yet to graft on to their work the more careful study, and the strengthening influence of these noble masterpieces in stronger cuttings, to make the struggling young plant a healthy and beautiful tree. Let us progress, by all means, but true progression is but the joining of all that is good in the preceding age with all the fresh beauty God bestows upon us in this our day.
We seem to be comparing or contrasting the secular form opera and the sacred oratorio, and it is interesting to know that the origin of both may be traced back to the same source—viz., early miracle plays and moralities. For some time after the introduction of Christianity into Eastern Europe, the new converts seem to have retained their fondness for the heathen practice used in religious, as in secular, celebrations of theatrical representations, which were chiefly upon mythological subjects, and all of which angered and distressed the priests of the new religion. However, the latter soon found out that it was necessary to reach the minds of these people through their more acutely trained senses and the medium of their old traditions, and thus in these early ages the dramatic element worked its way into the church worship. Spiritual plays were arranged by the priests in all parts of Christianised Europe, who chose scenes and stories from both Old and New Testaments, and from the lives of the saints and holy men. The plays were acted upon a stage, usually erected under the choir of the church. As women were not permitted to appear, priests took all the characters, male and female. We learn, from many reliable sources, that these sacred representations had a great effect upon the pious worshippers.
In the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and chiefly in the west of Europe, profane elements crept in amongst the holy legends, and these religious entertainments also developed so greatly, that hundreds of actors would be engaged in representations lasting over several days, whilst the eager audiences were so large that the churches could not contain them, and the stage had to be erected in the market-places, and out of doors.
The direction passed more and more into the hands of the laity, who employed jongleurs, histrions, and strolling vagabonds, whose acting included gross buffoonery, and whose profanity completely choked the religious growth first implanted by these miracle plays. The stages, it should be explained, were of curious construction, being divided into three stories, the upper one containing the heavenly characters, the middle one being for the people upon earth, and the lowest for the denizens of hell.
At the beginning of the sixteenth century the whole Catholic world was influenced by those reforms so necessary to the Christian Church of that time, and so bravely contended for and gained by Luther. The demoralisation which weakened all the church's fabric was deeply deplored by the Catholic clergy, and we find at the close of this century St. Philip Neri founding a congregation of priests in Rome and drawing youths to church by dramatising in simple form such stories as the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, etc., which were set to music in four parts with alternate solos, first by Animuccia (a pupil of Goudimel), and later on by the great Palestrina. These "sacred actions" or plays were not performed in the church itself, but in an adjoining chamber, called in Italian "oratorio," an oratory, and the title has since then adhered to this species of sacred work.
Our girls will be pleased to know that the first oratorio, set to music by Emilio del Cavalieri, was written by a lady, Laura Guidiccioni. It was acted for the first time in the year 1600, probably in the oratory of the Church of Santa Maria della Vallicella, in Rome. The name of the work is "The Representation of the Soul and the Body." It was to be played in appropriate costumes, and certain choruses were to be accompanied, in a reverent and sedate manner, by solemn dances. Some of the characters were Time, Pleasure, the World, Human Life, the Body, etc.
As the various forms of music, already named as common to the opera and oratorio, developed in the former, so in proportion they expanded and became freer in the latter; those portions which had been mainly founded upon plain song became more expressive and dramatic, and the melody assumed a flowing and cantabile character. But whereas you would imagine that a closer connection between the secular and sacred would be the result of this change, nevertheless, the composer's conviction that the music must strive to be of adequate importance to the sacred words and subjects caused a line to be drawn, ever growing more and more marked, as time and growth in grace and knowledge went on, between the secular and sacred musical drama.
In the seventeenth century we find Carissimi greatly advancing oratorio, and composing really noble music. You may remember a revival of his "Jephtha," by Mr. Henry Leslie, a few years back. Scarlatti, Stradella, and others also contributed to this period. But, notwithstanding its Italian birth and infancy, it remained for Germany to bring oratorio to a vigorous manhood, and to its lofty position in the world of music. The compositions of Handel and Bach, early in the eighteenth century, placed this sacred art form upon a pinnacle of such height and strength, that few composers have the stamina or knowledge wherewith to reach it.
Having gazed at this, for a time, culminating summit, let us go back to the early days again for a moment to notice a branch of this tree, a member of this sacred family, whose growth has been parallel with that of the subject of our sketch, viz., the Passion oratorio, one dealing with the sufferings and death of our blessed Redeemer. Foremost amongst the miracle plays, in which originated the sacred drama, was the representation, during Holy Week, of the Passion of our Lord. To this day we have interesting relics of this custom, such as the Oberammergau play in South Bavaria, the performances in the Sistine Chapel in Rome, and in some parts of Spain. The oldest Protestant composition on this subject was published in 1570.
At the commencement of the seventeenth century a great development followed in the writings of Heinrich Schuetz, who wrote music to the Passion, as told by all four evangelists, and whose tercentenary was celebrated last year by commencing the publication of all his works. He did much towards the great musical development in Germany. Following in his footsteps came Sebastiani, at the end of the century, and Keiser at the commencement of the eighteenth. In Keiser's Passion we find, in addition to the Bible narrative, reflective passages for a chorus, holding much the same functions as the old Greek chorus, with interpolated solos for "the Daughter of Sion" and "the Believing Soul," some of which are used later on by Bach, especially in his setting of the subject according to St. John's Gospel. John Sebastian Bach added, moreover, many well-known chorales in which the people could join, and these favourite old hymn tunes had the greatest power over the hearts of the worshippers.
Now we have returned to the period at which we left oratorio, and side by side with Bach's great Passion music stand up those massive monuments, the oratorios of Handel, of which so much has been written, and many of which you all know and love so well. It is worthy of notice, if only to show how recently (viz., almost halfway through the eighteenth century) action, and costume, and other accessories were tolerated in connection with the sacred subjects, to tell you that at the performance of his first English oratorio, "Esther," at the theatre in the Haymarket, Handel appended the following note to the playbills:—
"N.B. There will be no acting on the stage," this being called shortly after "oratorio fashion," even when applied to performances of secular dramatic subjects which were to be sung, and not acted.
After these great works of Handel, no important oratorio was heard in England until Haydn's "Creation," in 1798. Then, in the present century, Spohr followed with his "Crucifixion," "Last Judgment," and "Fall of Babylon;" and then Mendelssohn, that greatest disciple of Bach, whose "Elijah" and "St. Paul" quite revived the taste for oratorio, and gave an impetus to it, which extends to our day.
To end this fragmentary sketch, we may fairly say that oratorio should contain two important elements:—
I. The narrative form, as subject of the whole work.
II. The didactic and contemplative, as interpolations in soliloquy, or in chorus of adoration, prayer, and warning.
A third element, the dramatic accessories of costume, scenery, and action, we have dispensed with, and, I think, happily so.
We find in these days in many nations, including our own dear country, composers are striving after this highest and noblest ideal; let us pray they may receive that strength necessary for so great a responsibility. There is none greater in music, and our hearts tell us that unless a composer knows and believes himself that the subject which in reverence he approaches is the truth itself, which he must proclaim and preach as a conviction of his own—we say that unless he thus incorporates himself in his work it is but mockery, and the result of it nothingness.
NOTES FOR NOVEMBER.
During this month we get the finest effects of the changing tints of foliage; after a wet, windy summer the colours are poor, but fine and varied after dry calm weather.
These autumnal changes of colour are caused by decay and death; the life in the leaf enabled it to withstand certain chemical changes, which it can no longer resist as the vital force wanes, and the green colouring matter is either changed or destroyed.
We can prove this fact for ourselves if we notice how often, while all the rest of a tree is green, the leaves and small branches which are partly broken, and have, therefore, lost a great part of their vitality, lose their green colour, and become yellow or red.
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Not only are the broad effects of a landscape made beautiful in autumn by the rich colouring of large masses of trees, but the close observer will find every hedge, bottom, and wild common flaming with colour. Heath tell us "it is the commonest plants whose colours are the most beautiful and striking." Amongst those which produce the most brilliant autumnal tints, the following are found almost everywhere in the hedges in England: Bramble, hawthorn, wild strawberry, dock, spindle-tree, herb robert, cranes-bill, silver weed, hedge maple, dogwood, black bryony, ivy; while in the kitchen gardens nothing can exceed the beauty of the asparagus and the common carrot.
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Many birds come to England from the north to spend the winter. Wild ducks, woodcocks, fieldfares, and curlews are coming now, besides thrushes, larks, and other small birds. Some of these live with us all through the year, and are only joined by relatives from colder climates. In very cold winters many birds who do not usually migrate, are driven south in search of food; but the reception they meet with is hardly calculated to attract great numbers of strangers to our shores; for the notice one usually reads in the newspapers is that such and such a rare bird "has been seen and shot."
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"It is as hot as we have it in India, or, at any rate, I feel the heat as much." One often hears this statement on a hot summer's day from an Indian visitor; while, on the other hand, our Canadian cousins assure us that their bright, clear winter, though so intensely cold, is not so trying as ours. This is to a great extent caused by the unusual moisture of the air in England. John Burroughs tells us that "the average rainfall in London is less than in New York, and yet it doubtless rains ten days in the former to one in the latter," which he explains by the fact that in England "it rains easily, but slowly."
That we can bear greater dry than damp heat is easily proved by holding one's hand before a fire, and then plunging it into hot water, using a thermometer in both cases to test the heat. The same fact with regard to cold can be tried by holding both hands in a draught of cold air, the one hand being wet, the other dry.
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Lovers of natural history are not all aware what advantages the first sharp frost offers them for the study of animal and vegetable life in ponds. Thoreau, one of the most devoted admirers of nature, says in his "Walden," that, "The first ice is especially interesting, being hard, dark, and transparent, and affords the best opportunity that ever offers for examining the bottom, where it is shallow; for you can lie at your length on ice only an inch thick, like a skater insect on the surface of the water, and study the bottom at your leisure, only two or three inches distant, like a picture behind a glass."
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Country girls have an opportunity during the early darkness of winter afternoons of appreciating one of the dangers which beset arctic explorers during the long twilight which takes the place of day during the winter months in those northern climes. In towns, the well-lighted and well-paved streets make walking in the dusk as easy as in the day; but girls, whose walks lead through fields and rough country lanes, know how many trips and stumbles are caused by the uncertain light before darkness sets in. Greely, in his terribly sad history of the sufferings of his men during their arctic expedition, tells us how much their difficulties were increased by this dimness of the light. It was necessary that they should go long journeys on foot, each man carrying a heavy load of provisions and other stores; and he adds: "The absence of sufficient light to cast a shadow has had very unfortunate results, as several of the men have been badly bruised and sprained. When no shadow is formed, and the light is feeble and blurred, there is the same uncertainty about one's walk as if the deepest darkness prevailed. The most careful observation fails to advise you as to whether the next step is to lie on a level, up an incline, or over a precipice. A few bad falls quite demoralise a man, and make him more than ever distrustful of his eyesight."
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There is not much to be done in the garden this month, but bulbs may still be put in, though the flowers will not be so good as those planted earlier. Hyacinths, narcissi, and tulips planted now ought to flower in April.
If the weather is mild, the grass should be rolled occasionally; early peas and beans may be planted in a dry place, and a little radish seed sown in a warm corner, but they must be carefully covered if a sharp frost comes.
Green hedges should be clipped, and shrubs needing it pruned. Now that the leaves are off, the fruit trees may be more easily examined, and dead branches, or those that rub against one another, removed.
If the weather is very cold, take care of delicate plants by spreading cocoa-nut fibre or light manure over the beds, or by covering the plants with matting.
FAIRY TALE FOR YOUNGER GIRLS.
A long time ago—so long that it was ages before my grandfather was a little boy, and long before his grandmother was a little girl—there was, not far from fairyland, a beautiful lake, the waters of which were so clear that as they sparkled in the sunlight they glistened and gleamed like silver: and so it was called the Silver Lake. Beautiful white swans sailed majestically on its surface, and thousands of gold fishes swam in its clear waters.
On one part of the lake the most lovely water-lilies opened up their white flowers, looking, as some people said, like tiny boats; but one of the little girls I am going to tell you about thought they looked like a set of green saucers and white cups, and used to call them the swans' best tea-things. Now, in the midst of this Silver Lake stood the beautiful island called Child's Island. Such a lovely little island as it was had never been seen before, and I verily believe has never been seen since.
Black clouds never came near it, for there the sky was blue and cloudless always, and I am told that at night more stars might be seen from that pretty isle than from any other part of the world; but whether that is true or not I cannot tell. But I do know that its shores sloped green down to the water's edge, that the brightest and sweetest flowers bordered every pathway, that the roses were without thorns, and there was not a single nettle in the whole island. I know, also, that the grass was the greenest, the trees the shadiest, the flowers the brightest, and the fruit the ripest to be found anywhere. As to the animals, there were none but the gentlest kind. Little white mice went peeping about with their wee pink eyes, pretty tame squirrels bounded from tree to tree, and a herd of graceful fawns fed and played in the meadows. Birds of the gayest plumage and sweetest song were there; pretty poll-parrots hopped among the trees, crying, "What's o'clock? What's o'clock?" In short, it was the brightest, merriest, sunniest spot in the world, and I can say no more in its praise than that. All day long the sun shone gently down upon the little isle, and the wind never raised its voice above a whisper.
But, besides birds and butterflies, fawns, and flowers, there was something else in this pretty isle. Now, what do you guess that something was? Why, a beautiful fairy palace.
I call it a fairy palace, not because fairies lived there, for they did not, but because it was the work of fairy hands, and was more beautiful than any other palace in the world. It stood in the midst of a lovely garden, but no wall or railing shut it in from the rest of the island; and you and I, had we been there, might have walked across the green lawn, and plucked some of the gay flowers, and gone up the marble steps, without anyone saying, "Stop! You must not go there." Round about the palace, in groups of twos and threes, were several little houses, all very beautiful and all exactly alike.
Now, I daresay you will think that this was a very pretty place, at the same time, very strange; yet the strangest and, to me, the most charming thing of all was that there were none but children in this little island. They were all quite young, the eldest amongst them were not twelve years old; they were the king and the queen, who, of course, lived in the beautiful palace. And thus, because only children dwelt there, it was called Child Island.
Well, these little folks had nothing to do but to play; and a rare time they had of it, as you shall hear; but perhaps you would first like to know how it happened that they were alone in this island without any grown people to take care of them. Then listen, and I will tell you.
The Silver Lake and Child Island belonged to the good fairy Corianda, who was very fond of little children, and took great pleasure in inventing games for, and otherwise amusing them. She loved all children, but she was especially fond of those of Noviland, the king of which was one of her subjects. She used often to slip on her magic veil, which rendered her invisible, and go amongst the little folks of Noviland to watch them at their play, or at their lessons, or to peep at them whilst they slept. It was in this way that she found out there was scarcely a child in Noviland but what was discontented with what it had, and sighed for what it had not.
One fancied that Noviland would be the jolliest place in the world for little boys if there were no lessons, no schools; but grammar and spelling spoiled all. Pepitia thought that if she might wear fine dresses like mamma, have a coach and six to ride in, and no one to control her, she would be perfectly contented. The little Teresa sighed for a land where there was no A B C, and Dorinda for one where toys grew on trees, and no hard-hearted shopkeeper demanded money before they were plucked. Herbert wished he lived in a place where there were plenty of gay butterflies, and that he had nothing to do but to hunt them. Thus each child had something to wish for, and something to be discontented about.
I wonder whether there are children in any other part of the world who, like those of Noviland, want what they have not, and grumble at what they have? Do you know any? Ah, no! I suppose there are no other little folks so silly, so I won't urge the question, but go on with my story.
When the good fairy heard all these murmurings, she said to herself, "I will gratify these little people for a short time in what they want, and we shall see if they will be happy then."
So she set her fays to work, and had built on Child Island the beautiful palace and houses I have told you of. When all was ready, she and her fays took the little grumblers out of their beds one fine night and wafted them away, whilst still asleep, to Child Island, taking care, I should tell you, to leave changelings from Fairyland in their places, so that the parents might not be filled with grief in the morning to find that their dear children had been stolen away.
The next morning, after the sun had dispelled the mist which always seemed to hang about him before breakfast at Child Island, and he was fresh and bright for the day, like little boys with clean faces ready for school, the young strangers were all assembled on the lawn in front of the palace, and the fairy spoke to them as follows:—
"My dear children, as you all fancy you would be happier if you were quite free from control, and if you had nothing to do but to play, I have brought you to this beautiful island, where you can amuse yourselves all day long. You will have everything supplied to you, and there will be no one to dictate to you. These pretty houses I give you to live in. The palace is for the king and queen, and the other houses are so precisely alike that none of you will be able to dispute as to choice. You, Philip, who are the eldest boy, shall be king, and you, Pepitia, who are the eldest girl, shall be queen. Be kind and good-natured to one another, and I will always be your friend. Don't eat too much fruit or cake, as that will make you ill. Now, come with me, and I will show you the inside of the palace."
Then they followed the good fairy, in a merry crowd, up the marble steps into the hall of the palace, and a grand hall it was, with its rows of pillars and richly decorated walls. The fairy led them up the staircase and through the royal apartments, which consisted of drawing-rooms, dining-rooms, bedrooms, and dressing-rooms, where the looking-glasses reached from floor to ceiling and the wardrooms were filled with magnificent dresses. Then into the throne-room, hung with crimson velvet embroidered in gold, and where, at the upper end, were two golden thrones inlaid with precious stones and cushioned with crimson velvet. The more they saw the more delighted the little folks were; they clapped their hands with joy, and cried, "Oh, my! how beautiful!" at least twenty times in a minute.
"Oh! shouldn't I like to be you," said Amanda to Pepitia, "you will be queen, and have all these fine things."
After they had seen all that was in the palace, the fairy took them over the other houses, all of which were elegantly furnished, but it would take up too much time to tell you of all the beautiful things that were in them. Just fancy how you would like to furnish a little house that had drawing-rooms, dining-rooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and whatever you fancy you would like to put there was there, and even more than that. No wonder the children were pleased.
After the fairy had shown them all the pretty things the houses contained, and had allotted to each set of children the particular house they were to inhabit, a crystal car, drawn by six white swans, was seen to approach the shore. Then the fairy said, "Now, my little dears, I must go, for here is my coach and six come to fetch me." So she kissed them all round, bade them be good children, said she would come to see them again some day, got into her car, and was soon out of sight, the children shouting, "Good-bye, dear Fairy, good-bye," till they could see her no longer.
Then they said, "What shall we play at first?"
"Let us go into that pretty dell, where the fawns are at play, and gather some of the flowers," said Pepitia. To this they all readily assented, and ran skipping and singing into the dell. Some pulled long rushes and sat themselves down to weave little baskets; some gathered nosegays, some played with the fawns. Presently one of them said, "Oh! suppose we have a dance."
"Yes, yes, yes, so do," cried a dozen little voices.
"But there's no music," objected the queen, "we can't dance without music. How I wish we had some!"
"I'll hum a tune," said Sophia; and she immediately began one.
"No, that's so stupid," said Amanda.
"Oh!" screamed a little boy. "Look there!"
"Look where? What's the matter?" cried they all.
"Why, look at that big yellow thing," replied the child, pointing to a large gourd which lay upon the ground, "it's opening all by itself!"
And sure enough it was slowly opening, as if it were a monster mouth taking a lazy yawn. The children clustered together and watched it eagerly, when, to their great amazement, out popped a little figure, not more than six inches high, dressed in a suit of sky blue velvet with white lace ruffles at the throat and wrists. The dress was fastened down the front and at the knees by diamond buttons; diamond buckles were in its shoes, white silk stockings on its legs, and on its head a crimson cap with white feather. As soon as this quaint little figure jumped out of the gourd he was followed by another, and another, and another, till there were a full score of them, all dressed exactly like the first, and each carrying a tiny musical instrument in his hand.
As the last jumped out the gourd closed, and the leader of the Liliputian band stepped a few paces in front of his fellows, and, taking off his feathered cap, made a low bow to the king and queen, then, without speaking a word, he sprang on to the foremost branch of a white Mayflower bush, which was in full blossom, and immediately his little companions perched themselves on different branches behind him, and began tuning their tiny instruments.
The children, full of glee, arranged themselves for a dance, the band struck up "Sir Roger de Coverley," and away they all went, their little feet keeping time to the music as truly as the leader's tiny baton. They danced, and they danced, and they danced, till they were too tired to dance any more, then they flung themselves down to rest; upon which the little leader of the band jumped down from his perch and placed himself on a broad smooth leaf, that two of his band spread on the grass opposite to where sat the king and queen.
He made a low bow to their majesties, the band struck up, and the little fellow commenced dancing a pas seul. If you had seen him prancing and capering about the leaf, now with his arms akimbo, going jauntily round and gracefully bending his body from side to side, keeping time to the music as he did so; now suddenly clasping his hands above his head, whirl rapidly round and round till he got to the front edge of the leaf, and then, springing into the air, come down on the very tips of his pointed shoes; if you had seen all this I think you would have laughed and shouted as loudly as did Rosetta, Minette, and all the rest of the little folks. When the droll fellow had finished his dance he flourished his feathered cap, made a low bow, and backed to where his companions were standing. The gourd slowly opened again, and each little fellow making his bow, popped in as quickly as he had popped out; then the gourd closed, and nothing more was seen of the little musicians that day.
The children gathered round the gourd and tried to open it; tapped at it; called to the little musicians to come back; bent down their pretty heads to listen; but all was useless, no sound came from it, and they might as well have tried to open the oak tree 'neath which they stood as it.
Now, for fear you should think that the good fairy had left these little children to take care of themselves entirely, to cook their own food, wash their own clothes, make their own beds, and all that sort of work—for children, you know, cannot do these things for themselves, and that is why they are always so good and obedient to mammas and papas and kind aunts, who see to all these things being done for them—I will tell you what queer, droll little beings she left in the island to attend to the domestic concerns of the young king and queen and their little subjects.
Just shut your eyes and fancy you see a little brown figure with small dark eyes, like black beads, sharp nose, thin lips, and glossy red hair, combed off the face, plaited into a long tail behind, and tied by a bow of black ribbon. Then fancy this little figure, with arms so long that they reach to its knees, dressed in a dark blue smock frock without sleeves, a red leather belt round its waist, dark red trousers on its legs, and green morocco shoes on its feet; then call it a Noman, and you will see precisely the sort of beings which were left to wait on the young inhabitants of Child Island. They were all alike and all dressed alike; they used to make their appearance and begin to dust and sweep, and light fires, and such like, just after cock-crow every morning, and they all disappeared every night directly the children were safely tucked in bed. They came all together and they disappeared all together, but where they came from or where they went to nobody ever knew, so you must not expect me to tell you.
I daresay you will think these Nomen a strange race, but I am going to tell you something stranger still concerning them, and that is that none of them could talk, no—not one!
Was not that odd? They had some way of talking amongst themselves by means of signs, but the only words they could say to their young masters and mistresses were, "nob, nob," which meant no, and "yah, yah," which meant yes. These they uttered very quickly, and nodding their heads at each sound.
Now, the good fairy had charged these little beings to be very kind and attentive to the children; to cook their meals and serve them nicely, and to keep their houses in pretty order.
She also charged the children to be kind and gentle to the Nomen; never in any way to tease, annoy, or insult them, for if they did, the fairy said, and she looked very grave as she said it, "some punishment would immediately follow." This Master Edmund found to be quite true, when one day he attempted to kick the Noman who was brushing his hair, for as he raised his leg to kick, an invisible hand pulled the other from under him, and Master Edmund measured his length on the floor. So, also, Miss Sophia, who said one day, whilst looking in the glass, admiring herself and sneering at the Noman who was fastening her frock, "What a fright you are with your squiny eyes and red hair! I shouldn't like to be such a fright as you are." Upon which she immediately felt a sharp prick on her nose, whereon a large red pimple, as big as a cherry, made its appearance; her frock was torn to tatters, and on going to her wardrobe for another she found it quite empty, so she had to wear her rags all that day, as it was not until the next that the clothes came back to her wardrobe, and the pimple left her nose. I warrant me she will never be saucy to the Nomen again!
Master King Philip had a lesson of the same kind once, at his dinner table, when all his court were dining with him. Calling to one of the Nomen who were waiting, "Make haste, you brown rascal, and fill me a glass of wine!" the words were scarcely out of his mouth than he got a smart sounding slap on his face, and his elbow was violently jerked, so that he spilt all his wine, whereupon the little lords and ladies tittered, and some were so uncourtly as to laugh outright, and say it "served him right," which made Master King Philip wish he had not been so bounceable.
One evening, after they had been some weeks on the island, the king told his courtiers to prepare for a butterfly hunt, which he intended to have the next day. Early on the morrow they all assembled at the palace, attired in green and white, and each carrying an ivory rod, at the end of which was a green net, with which to catch the butterflies. On reaching the top of the staircase the little lords went to the dressing-room of the king, and the little ladies to that of the queen. Her majesty was dressed in white satin trimmed with green.
"Won't you wear your crown?" asked Rosetta.
"Well, I don't know," said the queen, in an undecided tone of voice. "Ought I? Won't it be too heavy for the chase?"
"Oh, but kings and queens always wear their crowns when they go out—don't they?" said Rosetta, appealing to her companions.
"Yes, yes; to be sure they do. Wear the crown—do wear the crown!" they all cried, clapping their hands.
Pepitia did not require much persuasion on the subject, as she dearly liked to be finely dressed. And, indeed, when she had put it on, and also her velvet train lined with satin and trimmed with ermine, I must confess she did look a charming young queen. The little Dorinda was so struck with her appearance that she screwed up her face into a comical expression of surprise, and, holding up both her hands, exclaimed—
"Oh, my! Aren't you smart!"
"But I don't like the way your hair is done," said Amanda, who was disposed to be quizzical.
"Don't you?" rejoined the queen, tartly. "Then you needn't."
Amanda was on the point of making an equally tart reply, when fortunately the king appeared at the door, and so interrupted the threatened dispute. He also wore his crown and train, and, moreover, he carried the ball and sceptre in his hand; for this little monarch was not disposed to part with any of the insignia of royalty, and thought he might as well not be a king if he did not wear the grand trappings belonging to his office.
Then the whole party went down into the hall to be marshalled into proper order by Alphonse, who always took upon himself to be master of the ceremonies whenever he could get a chance. This was not effected without a vast deal of chattering and confusion; and report says that one or two sounds like "Shan't!" "Shall!" were distinctly heard, followed by what sounded like, and probably was, a slap.
The little train-bearers were especially difficult to manage, owing to their constantly wanting to speak to one or other of their companions in the rear, which inclination occasioned their majesties several unmajestic jerks from behind, and, of course, called forth a sharp reprimand from the majesty so pulled; the only effect of which was a vast deal of giggling amongst the little girls, and the making of droll faces by the little boys.
"Please, queen, Edmund's making a face!" cried a little lady-in-waiting, looking at the culprit and speaking to the queen.
"Oh, you story-teller!" cried Edmund, indignantly. "I ain't."
"I'll box your ears if you do so again, you rude boy," said the queen, turning sharp round on the guilty Edmund. At this threat the urchin made a queer grimace, and then pretended to cry, sobbing out, "Oh, please, queen, don't!"
At length all were got into their proper places, and the procession set out. The king and queen, with their train-bearers, marched first, then strode consequential Master Alphonse, and the rest of the party followed, two and two, all singing a jingling rhyme as they marched, and swinging their nets to the tune. This is what they sang:—
"Bring your nets and make haste; Come away to the butterfly chase, Up the meadow and through the dell, By the path we know so well; Shout loud, jump high, And haste to catch the butterfly."
When they came to the dell where most butterflies were to be found they all separated and got their nets ready, whilst Alphonse took a thin switch and gently beat amongst the flowers, which grew in great profusion.
Presently a cloud of large, brilliant butterflies flew up, and the children, shouting, started off in chase of them. The train-bearers were not proof against the excitement of the moment, and, quite forgetting their post of honour, scampered off pell-mell with the rest, leaving their majesties looking rather foolish.
"The rude little things, to run off in that manner!" cried the queen.
"Here, I say, you Alphonse!" shouted the king, forgetting his dignity, "come back! I shan't play if you're going off like that. Come back."
But Alphonse was too busy chasing a brown and gold butterfly to heed King Philip or anybody else.
Just then there flew past an immense butterfly with wings of crimson, black, and gold. Philip immediately forgot all about being a king; away went ball and sceptre, and off he started in full chase. Now the queen loved butterflies no less than the king, so no sooner did she see him take to his heels than she started off in pursuit of the same butterfly.
Away they both went, their trains flying behind them, over hillocks and through bushes, quite regardless of their fine clothing.
The butterfly led them a fine dance; many a time they thought they had got it, but it always managed to fly off just as the extended thumb and finger were about to close upon it. Philip and Pepitia were tired, though by no means inclined to give up the chase, when the butterfly burrowed itself deep into a convolvulus flower that grew on the top of a not very high bank.
"Now we shall have him," cried Philip, as they both scrambled up the bank. But, alack and alas! Pepitia's foot got caught in her long train just as she got to the top of the bank, and down she fell, roly-poly, to the bottom.
Poor Pepitia! she quite forgot she was a queen, and began to cry most lustily, not the less because she could not use her arms to raise herself, for in her tumble she had got so rolled round and round in her train that she could not move her limbs.
Philip ran quickly to her assistance, and soon extricated her from her embarrassment, but as she still continued to cry, he tenderly, for he was a tender-hearted boy, sat her down on a grassy mound and tried to console her.
"What is the matter? Have you hurt yourself, dear?"
But Pepitia only sobbed and sobbed instead of answering, partly because she was hurt, and partly because she was vexed, and the poor little king began to fear she would never leave off crying.
"I wish that Alphonse and the rest would come back," said he, feeling disposed to pick a quarrel with "that" Alphonse when he did come.
(To be concluded.)
A pretty cottage, and maidens three, Blithe and happy as maids can be, Out in the garden at afternoon tea.
Just such a feast as girls will make— Fruit and flowers and a big plum cake, And plenty of laughter for laughter's sake.
The sunflowers nodded their heads so tall, The dahlias smiled 'neath the moss-grown wall, The three little maids outdid them all.
I warrant me in that garden gay Was never a bloom more fair than they, As they sipped their tea on that summer day.
Three little maids. Ah! one is dead, And one is married; and one, unwed, Now lives alone in the old homestead.
There are silver threads in her golden hair, Her cheek is pallid and lined with care, Yet is she still accounted fair.
And daily her gracious, tender ways Win a more loving meed of praise Than did the prime of her girlish days.
Yes, youth will wane as the years go by; Too soon do the rose-leaves scattered lie, But charms there are which may never die.
And hence it happens that oft we trace Through timeworn features the soul's sweet grace, And beauty lives in a faded face.
HEALTHY LIVES FOR WORKING GIRLS.
"Grant her in health and wealth long to live."
These are the words in which many of us, Sunday after Sunday, pray for our gracious Queen. We desire for her health and wealth; and justly so; both are necessary. The one for her comfort, and to enable her to perform her arduous duties; the other for her exalted rank and position.
For ourselves, however, it is to be hoped we rarely pray for what is termed wealth; but, on the other hand, how needful it is that we should supplicate unceasingly for health. "Grant me health, Lord, to perform my daily task." We have, indeed, need to ask for that unpurchasable, that priceless blessing. If we possess it already, we need to implore its continuance; if we have lost it, so much the more earnestly and devoutly should we solicit a return to its paths. Yes, next to the possession of a healthy conscience, we hold physical health to be the greatest of all gifts, but, like most of the grandest, fairest, and divinest things on earth, many of us accept it as a matter of course. And when, through our own want of forethought, through neglect of the most ordinary rules of health, through reckless indifference, we are forced practically to acknowledge that the most robust health has its limits of endurance, then we chafe and pine; and life, which seemed such a joyous, easy thing a month ago, is now a dreary burden, duty a heavy chain, pleasure a fiction; and self, weary self, rises in the ascendant, occupies all our sympathies and thoughts, and leaves us dissatisfied and indifferent, ungrateful and ungracious.
There are those who believe that by not attending to or neglecting their health they are acting unselfishly. They say it is so selfish to be always considering whether this is good or harmful or that is likely to encroach upon the domain of health. If this sentiment is carried to the verge of hypochondria, we grant its truth. There is nothing more odious than a person who is constantly looking out for the weathercocks, and who, as soon as he finds the wind in a certain quarter, shuts himself up, and carefully excludes all intercourse from the outer world; or who can trace certain symptoms—the hypochondriacs' pet word—to the extra spoonful of salt or sugar in yesterday's seasoning; who is a bore to his surroundings and a melancholy object of interest to himself; who is nothing but a useless encumbrance upon the face of the earth.
This is not the taking care which we advise or suggest. Things good in themselves may be perverted into errors by the spirit and the want of judgment with which they are pursued, and we fervently believe that if our prayer for health is answered, it will be first by the opening of our own eyes to facts and laws to which we were hitherto blind, or of which we have been ignorant, than to the practical observance of these laws, and our willingness to be subject to them.
But it is not of those who are merely inconvenienced by illness that we would speak to-day. Not of those who are only subjected to the loss of a little pleasure, a good deal of temper, and who are learning a lesson in being patient. In a word, we do not write for the well-to-do invalid, but for a very different class. Our remarks are intended especially for those of "our girls" to whom health is, perhaps, the only capital they possess. To whom loss of health means loss of work, loss of wage, anxiety, which aggravates matters, and perhaps serious privations to those in any way dependent upon their exertions.
Yes, the army of girl and women workers in this great metropolis is, indeed, a vast one, and work for them is no sinecure. If they cannot work so thoroughly or efficiently as men, at least it is for them greater toil than for the sterner sex. Of a more delicate organisation, of less robust frame, of smaller powers of endurance, the "buffets of fortune" meet with less resistance, and are more readily yielded to. Added to this, men have the advantage of being early trained to the habit of work which many of our girls have not, and they have greater facilities afforded them for outdoor exercise, of which they very readily avail themselves. These are all advantages which women do not possess, or if they do, it is after a careful course of acquired systematic training with a view to meet those demands upon their health and strength which are entailed by the continued and steady application to one branch of labour or to one particular profession. There is no doubt that a girl cannot take up an engagement which demands her daily presence at a stated place and at a given time, to perform duties which perhaps require the concentration of mental powers, and very frequently the maintenance of the body in one position for many hours together. There is no doubt, we repeat, that unless such avocations are begun and continued with decidedly common-sense views as to diet, hygiene, and general deportment, but little time will elapse ere our girl will succumb for a greater or less period to the unusual fatigue and the unwonted restrictions to which she has to submit.
It is fatal in such cases to regard health from a careless or indifferent standpoint. It is a question which must be considered by every one of the legion of working girls and women who labour for their own, and often for others' bread. Looking at it from the most practical standpoint, it will be found to be the greatest economy in the end. If the health is kept at a fair standard of excellence, the mental powers are maintained in a state of useful energy. As soon as health is below par, even when not sufficiently so as to force us to desist from work, the brain loses its elasticity; we are dull, become mere machines instead of intelligent workers, and our duty gets irksome and fails to interest us. And here let us interpose one word. If we wish to spare ourselves that most wearying of all sensations, that fatal sense of boredom and disgust for our daily task which sometimes creeps in upon us, we must try with all our hearts to take an interest in what our hands find to do. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do that do with thy might." It is not only right to think and act up to this; it is the greatest wisdom also; for our own comfort and happiness. Work done with a will only takes half the time in doing. The hours fly, and the sense of weariness has no time to creep in. This is a spirit, it will be found, which can be easily cultivated, and will, after a little effort, come quite naturally, much to our benefit in every way.
It has seemed to us, in spite of the great advance that has been made in the teaching of hygiene, and the possession by many of a fair knowledge of the laws which govern it, that there is still a lamentable want of practicability in its application; that is to say, the theories we learn, and to which we subscribe, are rarely, and then very imperfectly, carried out in actual individual life. We grant that great improvements are visible on all sides, in what we might term general hygiene; but where we perceive a great deficiency still, is in that personal application of the laws of health which must and can only be properly applied by individuals to themselves, so as to make them fit into the circumstances under which they exist.
It will not help our girls much, for instance, to have learnt the number of cubic feet of oxygen that is necessary for turning the purple blood into scarlet—the amount of nitrogenous, phosphatic, carbonaceous, and other elements which are requisite for building up new tissue, etc., etc., and many other dry facts of a kindred nature, if she does not put this knowledge to practical use. There is a wide division between facts thus learnt off glibly at school and the practical application of them to our daily wants.
The human body, if it is to be maintained in but a fair state of health, requires a certain amount of fresh air—a certain amount of flesh-forming, bone-forming, brain-forming, and warmth-giving nutriment. Our girls require to have a tolerable, if not exactly a faultless, circulation, in order that these various foodstuffs may be digested, i.e., converted into these flesh, bone, and brain-forming tissues. In order to have a tolerable circulation, the body must have a regular amount of exercise and of fresh air. There, in a nutshell, is the secret of the whole matter. Given a fairly normal state of health to begin with, that health may be maintained by a little wise direction of our actions towards supplying the really very moderate demands of Nature, upon which, however, modest as they are, she insists, to enable her to carry on the process of healthy life. Deprive her of that little, and the results are such as we too frequently see—broken-down health from overwork (so-called) of many of our busy sisters. It is our intention here to endeavour to put this plainly before our girls.
We will imagine, then, that some of our girls have to pass many—say eight or ten—hours of their days in work; that that work is sedentary work; that our girls are very apt to stoop, for their poor backs get weary sometimes. We will imagine that it is winter, and sitting as they do all day, they like to have all the windows closed. Our girls will not feel very hungry when meal-time comes, especially if they have to provide their own meals. In fact, many of our girls practise a little economy in this direction, if the choice of doing so rests with them. Economy, we all know, is imperative in many conditions of life—not only amongst working girls; and it is a serious matter to practise it wisely—to determine and mark clearly the line that divides the luxuries from the necessities. In the former practise as much economy as you will; in the latter it is only a false way of meeting matters which will have to be balanced by-and-by with heavy interest.