« AnteriorContinuar »
I protest that when he speaks to me I feel as if I had were so numerous in it, that they absolutely darkened had the wine. Well, only a month ago, he sent me a the water. I had only just lodged my fly upon the card, permitting me to have one day's fishing in his surface, and, behold! I caught and easily landed a home preserves. Piscator tried to persuade me to magnificent carp; again, and a trout of at least six give it up to him, but I said 'No,' because he can pounds rewarded me; a third time, and I hooked catch fish anywhere, and I do not possess that faculty; another carp; and so on. I was intoxicated with my so he gave me the most minute directions overnight, success. In the couple of hours of daylight which yet and lent me his famous book of flies, and his best remained to me, I filled not only Piscator's largest rod.
fishing-basket, but my pockets also. What will my How beautiful looked the grand old park upon that uncle say to this ?’ thought I. He did not know what August morning! The deer
to say. We dined, we supped, we breakfasted off the In copse and fern,
very finest; we spent the next morning in despatching Twinkled the innumerable ear and tail--the next best in baskets to distant friends.
the hero of the family for four-and-twenty hours, cropping with reverted glance the short rich herbage, although Piscator tried to make out that it was all or bounding across the carriage-drives in herds; the owing to the excellence of his flies. At four o'clock mighty oak-trees, shadowing half an acre each; the on the following afternoon, however, arrived my friend sedgy pools, with water-fowl rising from their rims the keeper, taller than ever, pale with passion, more with sudden cry; and the winding brooks, where shot inimical-looking than on the day before. the frequent trout from side to side. Now from their Well, thee hast about been and done it, with thy right banks I fished—now from their left; and now, ticket and thy friend B.,' quoth he. regretful that I did not borrow Piscator's boots, I • Yes,' said I cheerfully, you're right: I rather strode, with turned-up trousers, in the very bed of flatter myself I have. Sixty-seven pounds of fish, the stream ; still, I could not touch a fin. I began my man'(triumphantly). to think that my uncle had given me, out of envy, Sixty-seven pounds!' said lie, with a ghastly grin. wrong directions, and provided me with impossible Ay,' said I, ‘not an ounce less: thirty pounds of Alies. At last I came upon a large brown pool, with carp, twenty pounds of trout, and seventeen pounds a tumbling fall; and Now,' cried I aloud, 'for a of- I'm hanged if I know what fishi.' tremendous trout, or never!'
"Thirty pounds of carp, twenty pounds of trout, and * Never,' cried a hoarse voice, with provincial accent; seventeen pounds of he's hanged if he knows what *I'm dang'd if thee isn't a cool hand, anyway.'
fish,' repeated the keeper, as if he was going to cry. This was the keeper. I saw how the case stood at Yes,added I; . and all out of one little bit of a once, and determined to have a little sport of some pond.' kind, at all events.
* Pond !' cried Piscator, entering the room at this * Hush, my good man,' I whispered, don't make a juncture, you never told me anything about a pond, noise; I have reason to believe that there are fish Bob.' here.'
Well- no,' said I, blushing a little. I confess I Woot thee coom out of t'stream (it was up to my thought it better to say stream. I did catch them in waist), or maun I coom in and fetch thee?'
the pond close by the Hall.' "No,' said I blandly, don't come in on any account, Why, you've been fishing in the marquis's private the least splash would be fatal ; stay just where you stew, Bob!' cried my uncle horrorstruck. are, and I daresay you will see me catch one in this “Yes,' cried the keeper, blowing into his fists, as if very spot. It's beautiful weather.'
preparing for a murderous assault upon my counteI got out upon one bank, as the giant, speechless nance; "he's been a-fishing in the stew-pond, in his with rage, slipped in from the other. When he had friend B.'s private stew.' waded half-way across
And this was the only really good day's fishing I *Do you think I am poaching, my good man?' ever had. inquired I innocently.
I knaws thee is't,' quoth the keeper, adding a violent expletive.
A WOMAN'S THOUGHTS ABOUT WOMEN. • Well, I have a card here from my friend B.,' said 1, which I should have thought was quite sufficient.'
Do ye think of the days that are gone, Jeanie, “Thy friend B.,' roared the other sarcastically, 'let As ye sit by your fire at night? me get at thee.'
Do ye wish that the morn would bring back the time, *Yes,' said I, old B. of the Hall; don't you know
When your heart and your step were so light! him?—the marquis.'
'I think of the days that are gone, Robin,
And of all that I joyed in then ; The dripping savage was obliged to confess that my But the brightest that ever arose on me, ticket of permission was genuine.
I have never wished back again.' * But how do I knaw as thee beest the right man as Growing old. A time we talk of, and jest or moralise is named here?' urged he obstinately.
over, but find almost impossible to realise—at least to A cold sweat began to bedew me, for I had not ourselves. In others, we can see its approach clearer: thought it necessary to bring out my visiting-cards.
* Right man,' cried I indignantly; of course I am, yet even then we are slow to recognise it. What, why not?'
Miss So-and-so looking old—did you say? Impossible: "Of coorse, why of coorse,' sneered the brutal she is quite a young person; only a year older than Iruffian, 'thee must coom along with me.'
and that would make her just Bless me! I am A bright thouglit suddenly flashed across me: forgetting how time goes on. Yes'- with a faint Look here, my good man; look at my pocket-hand- deprecation which truth forbids you to contradict, and kerchief; J. P.; ain't those the right initials? Con politeness to notice-'I suppose we are neither of us found you, would you like to see the tail of my shirt so young as we used to be.” also ? I'll tell B. of you, as sure as you live. At which the giant, convinced against his will, left me in
Without doubt, it is a trying crisis in a woman's peace.
life-a single woman's particularly-when she begins I fished until dewy eve, and still caught nothing. to suspect she is ‘not so young as she used to be;' At last, in the near neighbourhood of the Hall itself, I that, after crying 'Wolf' ever since the respectable came upon a little pond environed by trees ; the fish maturity of seventeen-as some young ladies are fond
of doing, to the extreme amusement of their friends— recognition cannot but be fraught with considerable the grim wolf, old age, is actually shewing his teeth in pain. Even the most frivolous are somewhat to be the distance; and no courteous blindness on the part pitied, when, not conducting themselves as passées, of these said friends, no alarmed indifference on her because they really do not think it, they expose themown, can neutralise the fact that he is, if still far off, selves to all manner of misconstructions by still deterin sight. And, however charmingly poetical he may minedly grasping that fair sceptre of youth, which appear to sweet fourteen-and-a-half, who writes melan- they never suspect is now the merest 'rag of sovecholy verses about 'I wish I were again a child,' or reignty'-sovereignty deposed. merry three-and-twenty, who preserves in silver paper Nor can the most sensible woman fairly put aside my first gray hair,' old age, viewed as a near her youth, all it has enjoyed, or lost, or missed-its approaching reality, is-quite another thing.
hopes and interests, omissions and commissions, To feel that you have had your fair half at least of doings and sufferings--satisfied that it is henceforth to the ordinary term of years allotted to mortals; that be considered entirely as a thing gone by-without a you have no right to expect to be any handsomer, or momentary spasm of the heart. Young people forget stronger, or happier than you are now; that you have this as completely as they forget that they themselves climbed to the summit of life, whence the next step may one day experience the same, or they would not must necessarily be decadence. Ay, though you do be so ready to laugh at even the foolishest of those not feel it; though the air may be as fresh, and the foolish old virgins, who deems herself juvenile long view as grand-still, you know that it is so. Slower after everybody else has ceased to share in the pleasor faster, you are going down-hill. To those who go ing delusion, and thereby makes both useless and ridi• hand-in-hand,'
culous that season of early autumn which ought to be And sleep thegither at the foot,
the most peaceful, abundant, safe, and sacred time in it may be a safer and sweeter descent; but I am
a woman's whole existence. They would not, with the writing for those who have to make the descent proverbial harsh judgment of youth, scorn so cruelly alone.
those poor little absurdities, of which the unlucky It is not a pleasant descent at the beginning. When person who indulges therein is probably quite unaware you find at parties that you are not asked to dance -merely dresses as she has always done, and carries as much as formerly, and your partners are chiefly
on the harmless coquetries and minanderies of her stout middle-aged gentlemen and slim lads who blush teens, unconscious how exceedingly ludicrous they terribly and require a great deal of drawing out appear in a lady of—say forty! Yet in this sort of When you are dear’ed and patronised by stylish exhibition, which society too often sees and enjoys, young chits who were in their cradles when you were
any honest heart cannot but often feel that of all the à grown woman; or when some boy, who was your tionable and disgraceful part is she who only makes a
actors engaged in it, the one who plays the least objecplaything in petticoats, has the impertinence to look
fool of herself. over your head, bearded and grand, or even to consult you on his love-affairs. When you find your
Yet why should she do it? Why cling so desperacquaintance delicately abstaining from the term old ately to the youth that will not stay? and which, after maid' in your presence, or immediately qualifying it all, is not such a very precious or even a happy thing? by an eager panegyric on the solitary sisterhood. When Wby give herself such a world of trouble to deny or servants address you as 'Ma'am' instead of 'Miss;' must either know it or guess it, or be supremely
conceal her exact age, when half her acquaintance and if you are at all stout and comfortable-looking, indifferent about it? Why appear dressed-undressed, strange shopkeepers persist in making out your bills to Mrs Blank," and pressing upon your notice toys belle of the ball; annoying the eye with beauty either
cynics would say-after the pattern of her niece, the and perambulators. Rather trying, too, when in speaking of yourself as
half withered, or long overblown, and which in its a “girl?—which, from long habit
, you unwittingly do prime would have been all the lovelier for more
concealment? -you detect a covert smile on the face of your interlocutor; or, led by chance excitement to deport yourself two styles of costume which ladies past their première
In this matter of dress, a word or two. There are in an ultra-youthful manner, some instinct warns you jeunesse are most prone to fall into: one hardly knows that you are making yourself ridiculous. Or catching which is the worst. Perhaps, though, it is the ultrain some strange looking-glass the face that you are juvenile--such as the insane juxtaposition of a yellow too familiar with to notice much, ordinarily, you skin and white tarlatane, or the anomalous adorning suddenly become aware that it is not a young face; of gray hair with artificial flowers. It may be questhat it will never be a young face again; that it will tioned whether at any age beyond twenty a ballgradually alter and alter, until the known face of your very last sort of attire that a lady can assume with
costume is really becoming; but after thirty, it is the girlhood, whether plain or pretty, loved or disliked, impunity. It is said that you can only make yourself admired or despised, will have altogether vanished- look younger by dressing a little older than you really nay, is vanished : look as you will, you cannot see it are; and truly I have seen many a woman look
withered and old in the customary evening-dress There is no denying the fact, and it ought to silence which, being unmarried, she thinks necessary to shiser many an ill-natured remark upon mutton dressed in, who would have appeared fair as a sunshiny lamb-fashion,” “young ladies of a certain age,' and the October day, if she would only have done nature the like—that with most people the passing from maturity livery. If she would only have the sense to believe
justice to assume, in her autumn-time, an autumnal to middle age is so gradual, as to be almost imper- that gray hair was meant to soften wrinkles and ceptible to the individual concerned. It is very brighten faded cheeks, giving the same effect for difficult for a woman to recognise that she is growing which our youthful grandmothers wore powder; that old; and to many-nay, to all, more or less—this flimsy, light-coloured gowns, fripperied over with
trimmings, only suit airy figures and active motions; exemplified her theory, has written and expressed it, that a sober-tinted substantial gown and a pretty cap is a good and beautiful thing; to grow old worthily, will any day take away ten years from a lady's appear- a better. And the first effort to that end, is not only ance. Above all
, if she would observe this one grand to recognise, but to become personally reconciled to rule of the toilet, always advisable, but after youth the fact of youth's departure; to see, or, if not seeing, indispensable—that though good personal "points' are to have faith in, the wisdom of that which we call by no means a warrant for undue exhibition thereof, change, yet which is in truth progression ; to follow no point that is positively unbeautiful ought ever, by openly and fearlessly, in ourselves and our own life, any pretence of fashion or custom, to be shewn. the same law which makes spring pass into summer,
The other sort of dress, which, it must be owned, is summer into autumn, autumn into winter, preserving less frequent, is the dowdy style. People say-though an especial beauty and fitness in each of the four. not very soon-Oh, I am not a young woman now; Yes, if women could only believe it, there is a it does not signify what I wear.' Whether they quite wonderful beauty even in growing old. The charm believe it, is another question ; but they say it-and of expression arising from softened temper or ripened act upon it when laziness or indifference prompts. | intellect, often amply atones for the loss of form and Foolish women! they forget that if we have reason at colouring ; and, consequently, to those who never any time more than another to mind our looks,' it is could boast either of these latter, years give much when our looks are departing from us. Youth can more than they take away. A sensitive person often do almost anything in the toilet-middle age cannot; requires half a lifetime to get thoroughly used to this yet is none the less bound to present to her friends corporeal machine, to attain a wholesome indifference and society the most pleasing exterior she can. Easy both to its defects and perfections—and to learn at last, is it to do this, when we have those about us who love what nobody would acquire from any teacher but us, and take notice of what we wear, and in whose experience, that it is the mind alone which is of any eyes we would like to appear gracious and lovely to consequence; that with a good temper, sincerity, and the last, so far as nature allows: not easy when a moderate stock of brains-or even the two former things are otherwise. This perhaps is the reason why only—any sort of body can in time be made useful, we see so many unmarried women grow careless and respectable, and agreeable, as a travelling-dress for • old-fashioned'in their dress—What does it signify ? the soul. Many a one, who was absolutely plain in -nobody cares.
youth, thus grows pleasant and well-looking in declining I think a woman ought to care a little for herself-a years. You will hardly ever find anybody, not ugly very little. Without preaching up vanity, or undue in mind, who is repulsively ugly in person after middle waste of time over that most thankless duty of adorn- life. ing one's self for nobody's pleasure in particular-is it So with the character. If a woman is ever to be wise not still a right and becoming feeling to have some or sensible, the chances are that she will have become respect for that personality which, as well as our soul, so somewhere between thirty and forty. Her natural heaven gave us to make the best of? And is it not good qualities will have developed; her evil ones have our duty-considering the great number of uncomely either been partly subdued, or have overgrown her people there are in the world—to lessen it by each of like rampant weeds; for however we may talk about us making herself as little uncomely as she can ? people being 'not a whit altered'-'just the same as
Because a lady ceases to dress youthfully, she has ever’-not one of us is, or can be, for long together, no excuse for dressing untidily; and though having exactly the same; no more than that the body we found out that one general style suits both her person, carry with us is the identical body we were born her taste, and convenience, she keeps to it, and gener- with, or the one we supposed ours seven years ago. ally prefers moulding the fashion to herself, rather Therein, as in our spiritual self which inhabits it, goes than herself to the fashion. Still, that is no reason on a perpetual change and renewal: if this ceased, the why she should shock the risible nerves of one gener- result would be, not permanence, but corruption. In ation, by shewing up to them the out-of-date costume moral and mental, as well as physical growth, it is of another. Neatness invariable; hues carefully har- impossible to remain stationary; if we do not advance, monised, and, as time advances, subsiding into a we retrograde. Talk of too late to improve'-'too general unity of tone, softening and darkening in old to learn,' &c. Idle words! A human being should colour, until black, white, and gray alone remain, as be improving with every day of a lifetime; and will the suitable garb for old age: these things are every probably have to go on learning through all the ages woman's bounden duty to observe as long as she of immortality. lives. No poverty, grief, sickness, or loneliness- And this brings me to one among the number of those mental causes which act so strongly upon the what I may term the pleasures of growing old.' external life-can justify any one (to use a phrase At our outset, 'to love' is the verb we are most probably soon to be obsolete when charity and com- prone to conjugate; afterwards, we discover that mon sense have left the rising generation no Fifth though the first, it is by no means the sole verb in the of November) involuntarily making a Guy of herself.' grammar of life, or even the only one that implies
That slow, fine, and yet perceptible change of mien (vide Lennie or Murray) to be, to do, or to suffer. To and behaviour, natural and proper to advancing years, know-that is, to acquire, to find out, to be able to is scarcely reducible to rule at all. It is but the outer, trace and appreciate the causes of things, gradually reflection of an inward process of the mind. We only becomes a necessity, an exquisite delight. We begin discover its full effect by the absence of it, as noticeable to taste the full meaning of that promise which desin a person who has such very "young” manners, cribes the other world as a place where we shall know who falls into raptures of enthusiasm, and expresses even as we are known.' Nay, even this world, with all loudly every emotion of her nature. Such a charac- its burdens and pains, presents itself in a phase of ter, when real, is unobjectionable, nay, charming, in abstract interest entirely apart from ourselves and our extreme youth; but the great improbability of its small lot therein, whether joyful or sorrowful. We take being real, makes it rather ludicrous, if not disagree. pleasure in tracing the large workings of all thingsable, in mature age, when the passions die out, or more clearly apprehended as we cease to expect, or are quieted down, the sense of happiness itself is conduct ourselves as if we expected, that Providence calm, and the fullest, tenderest tide of which the loving will appear as Deus ex machinê for our own private heart is capable, may be described by those still benefit. We are able to pass out of our own small waters' which 'run deep.'
daily sphere, and take interest in the marvellous To 'grow old gracefully,' as one, who truly has government of the universe; to see the grand workings
of cause and effect, the educing of good out of apparent the recognition of one's own comparative unimportevil, the clearing away of the knots in tangled destinies, ance and helplessness in the scale of fate. We begin general or individual, the wonderful agency of time, by thinking we can do everything, and that everything change, and progress in ourselves, in those surrounding rests with us to do; the merest trifle frets and disturbs us, and in the world at large. We have lived just us; the restless heart wearies itself with anxieties over long enough to atch a faint tone or two of the its own future, the tender one over the futures of those large harmonies of nature and fate-to trace the dear to it. Many a young face do I see, wearing apparent plot and purpose of our own life and that of the indescribable Martha-look - troubled about others, sufficiently to make us content to sit still and many things'-whom I would fain remind of the anecsee the play played out. As I once heard said: "We dote of the ambassador in China. To him, tossing feel we should like to go on living, were it only out of sleepless on his bed, his old servant said: curiosity.'
“Sir, may I put to you, and will you answer, three In small minds, this feeling expends itself in questions? First, did not the Almighty govern this meddling, gossiping, scandal-mongering; but such are world very well before you came into it?' only the abortive developments of a right noble "Of course.' quality, which, properly guided, results in benefits And will He not also do the same when you are incalculable to the individual and to society. For, gone out of it?' undoubtedly, the after-half of life is the best working • I know that.' time. Beautiful is youth's enthusiasm, and grand are "Then, do you not think, sir, that He is able to its achievements; but the most solid and permanent govern it while you are in it?' good is done by the persistent strength and wide The ambassador smiled assent, turned round, and experience of middle age.
slept calmly. A principal agent in this is a blessing which rarely Alas, it is the slowest and most painful lesson that comes till then-contentment: not mere resignation, Faith has to learn-Faith, not Indifference to do a passive acquiescence in what cannot be removed, but steadfastly and patiently all that lies to her hand; and active contentment; bought, and cheaply, too, by a there leave it, believing that the Almighty is able to personal share in that daily account of joy and pain, govern His own world. which, the longer one lives the more one sees, is pretty It is said that we suffer less as we grow older, that equally balanced in all lives. Young people are happy pain, like joy, becomes dulled by repetition, or by the --enjoy ecstatically, either in prospect or fruition, the callousness that comes with years. In one sense this top of life;' but they are very seldom contented. It is is true. If there is no joy like the joy of youth, the not possible. Not till the cloudy maze is half travelled rapture of a first love, the thrill of a first ambition, through, and we begin to see the object and purpose God's great mercy has also granted that there is no of it, can we be really content.
anguish like youth's pain ; so total, so hopeless, blotting One great element in this—nor let us think shame out earth and heaven, falling down upon the whole to grant that which God and nature also allow- being like a stone. This never comes in after-life, consists in the doubtful question 'to marry or not to because the sufferer, if he or she have lived to any marry,' being by this time generally settled; the purpose at all, has learned that God never meant any world's idle curiosity or impertinent meddling there- human being to be crushed under any calamity like with having come to an end; which alone is a great a blindworm under a stone. boon to any woman. Her relations with the other sex For lesser evils, the fact that our interests gradually imperceptibly change their character, or slowly decline. take a wider range, allows more scope for the healing Though there are exceptions, of old lovers who have power of compensation. Also our strongest idiosynbecome friends, and friends whom no new love could crasies, our loves, hates, sympathies, and prejudices, make swerve from the fealty of years, still it usually having assumed a more rational and softened shape, we happens thus. If a woman wishes to retain her sway do not present so many angles for the rough attrition over mankind, not an unnatural wish even in the good of the world. Likewise, with the eye of that Faith and amiable, who have been long used to attention already referred to, we have come to view life in its and admiration in society, she must do it by means entirety, instead of agonisingly puzzling over its quite different from any she has hitherto employed. disjointed parts, which are not, and were never meant Even then, be her wit ever so sparkling, her influence to be, made wholly clear to mortal eye. And that ever so pure and true, she will often find her listener calm twilight, which by nature's kindly law so soon preferring bright eyes to intellectual conversation, and begins to creep over the past, throws over all things the satisfaction of his heart to the improvement of his a softened colouring which altogether transcends and mind. And who can blame him?
forbids regret. I suppose there is hardly any woman Pleasant as men's society undoubtedly is ; honour with a good heart, and a clear conscience, who does able, well-informed gentlemen, who meet a lady on the not feel, on the whole, the infinite truth of the verses easy neutral ground of mutual esteem, and take more at the head of this paper, and of the other two verses pains to be agreeable to her than, unfortunately, her which I here add-partly because a pleasant rhyme is own sex frequently do; they are, after all, but men. Not a wholesome thing to cling about the memory, and one of them is really necessary to a woman's happiness, partly in the hope that some one may own or claim except the one whom, by this time, she has probably this anonymous song: either seen, or lost, or found. Therefore, however uncomplimentary this may sound to those charming Do ye think of the hopes that are gone, Jeanie, and devoted creatures, which of course they always
As ye sit by your fire at night ? are in ladies', young ladies' society, an elderly lady Do ye gather them up as they faded fast may be well content to let them go, before they depart Like buds with an early blight? of their own accord. I fear the waning coquette and 'I think of the hopes that are gone, Robin, the ancient beauty, as well as the ordinary woman, And I mourn not their stay was fleet; who lias had her fair share of both love and liking, For they fell as the leaves of the red rose fall, must learn and shew by her demeanour she has learned And were even in falling, sweet.' that the only way to preserve the unfeigned respect of the opposite sex, is by letting them see that she can Do ye think of the friends that are gone, Jeanie, do without either their attention or their admiration.
As ye sit by your fire at night? Another source of contentment, which in youth's Do ye wish they were round you again once more fierce self-dependence it would be vain to look for—is By the hearth that they made so bright?
"I think of the friends that are gone, Robin,
making, and whose lot lies in their own hands. Not. They are dear to my heart as then :
through any foolish independence of mankind, or But the best and the dearest among them all
adventurous misogamy: let people prate as they will, I have never wished back again!'
the woman was never born yet who would not cheer
fully and proudly give herself and her whole destiny Added to all these reasons, contentment, faith, into a worthy hand, at the right time, and under cheerfulness, and the natural calming down of both fitting circumstances--that is, when her whole heart and passions and emotions, which give a woman greater conscience accompanied and sanctified the gift. But capacity for usefulness in middle life, than in any marriage ought always to be a question not of necesprevious portion of her existence, is another, her sity but choice. Every girl ought to be taught that a greater independence. By the time she has arrived at hasty, loveless union stamps upon her as foul disthe half of those threescore-years-and-ten, which form honour as one of those connections which omit the legal the largest available limit of active life, she will ceremony altogether; and that, however pale, dreary, generally have become, in the best sense of the term, and toilsome a single life may be, unhappy married life her own mistress: I do not mean as regards exemption must be tenfold worse-an ever-haunting temptation, from family ties and restrictions, for this sort of an incurable regret, a torment from which there is no liberty is sadder than bondage, but she will be mistress escape but death. There is many a bridal-chamber over herself—she will have learned to understand over which ought to be placed no other inscription herself, mentally and bodily. Nor is this last a small than that well-known one over the gate of Dante's advantage, for it often takes years to comprehend, and hell: act upon when comprehended, the physical peculi
Lasciate ogni speranza, voi chi entrate. arities of one's own constitution. Much valetudinarianism among women arises from ignorance or neglect God forbid that any woman in whose heart is any of the commonest sanitary laws; and indifference to sense of real marriage, with all its sanctity, beauty, that grand preservative of a healthy body, a well- and glory, should ever be driven to enter such an controlled, healthy mind. Both of these are more accursed door! attainable in middle age than youth; and, therefore, But after the season of growing old, there comes, to the sort of happiness they bring- a solid, useful, a few, the time of old age; the withered face, the available happiness—is more in her power then, than failing strength, the bodily powers gradually sinking at any earlier period.
into incapacity for both usefulness and enjoyment. I And why? Because she has ceased to think prin- will not say but that this season has its sad aspect to a cipally of herself and her own pleasures; because, as woman who has never married; and who, as her own I tried to shew in a former paper, happiness itself has generation dies out, probably bas long since died out, become to her an accidental thing, which the good retains no longer, nor can expect to retain, any fleshGod may give or withhold as He sees most fit for her and-blood claim upon a single human being. When -most adapted to the work for which He means to all the downward ties which give to the decline of life use her in her generation. This conviction of being a rightful comfort, and the interest in the new generat once an active and a passive agent-self-working, ation which brightens it with a perpetual hope, are to worked through, and worked upon-is surely conse- her either unknown, or indulged in chiefly on one side. cration enough to form the peace, nay, the happiness, Of course there are exceptions; when an aunt has of any good woman's life: enough, be it ever so been almost a mother, and a loving and lovable greatsolitary, to sustain it until the end.
aunt is as important a personage as any grandmother. In what manner such a conviction should be carried But I speak of things in general. It is a condition out, no one individual can venture to advise. Women's to which a single woman must make up her mind, that work is, in this age, if undefined, almost unlimited, the close of her days will be more or less solitary. when the woman herself so chooses. She alone can Yet there is a solitude which old age feels to be as be a law unto herself; deciding, acting according to natural and satisfying as that rest which seems such an the circumstances in which her lot is placed.
irksomeness to youth, but which gradually grows into And have we not many who do so act? Women of the best blessing of our lives; and there is another property, whose name is a proverb for generous and solitude, so full of peace and hope, that it is like wise charities—whose riches, carefully guided, flow Jacob's sleep in the wilderness, at the foot of the into innumerable channels, freshening ihe whole land. ladder of angels. Women of rank and influence, who use both, or lay aside both, in the simplest humility, for labours of
All things are less dreadful than they seem. love, which level, or rather raise, all classes to one And it may be that the extreme loneliness which, common sphere of womanhood. And many others, of viewed afar off, appears to an unmarried woman as whom the world knows nothing, who have taken the one of the saddest and most inevitable results of her wisest course that any unmarried woman can take, lot, shall by that time have lost all its pain, and be and made for themselves a home and a position: some regarded but as the quiet dreamy hour between the as the ladies Bountiful of a country neighbourhood; lights;' when the day's work is done, and we lean some as elder sisters, on whom has fallen the bringing back, closing our eyes, to think it all over before we up of whole families, and to whom has tacitly been finally go to rest, or to look forward, in faith and accorded the headship of the same, by the love and hope, unto the Coming Morning. respect of more than one generation thereof; and some A finished life; a life which has made the best of all as writers, painters, and professional women generally, the materials granted to it, and through which, be its who make the most of the special gift apparently web dark or bright, its pattern clear or clouded, can allotted to them, believing that, be it great or small, now be traced plainly the hand of the Great Designer ; it is not theirs either to lose or to waste, but that surely this is worth living for? And though at its they must one day render up to the Master His own, end it may be somewhat lonely; though a servant's
and not a daughter's arm may guide the failing step; Would that, instead of bringing up our young girls though most likely it will be strangers only who with the notion that they are to be wives, or nothing come about the dying bed, close the eyes that no -matrons, with an acknowledged position and duties, husband ever kissed, and draw the shroud kindly over or with no position and duties at all, we could instil the poor withered breast where no child's head has into them, that above and before all, they are to be ever lain; still, such a life is not to be pitied, for it is women-women, whose character is of their own a completed life. It has fulfilled its appointed course,