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IiATt Tntsn Ie Fmn, tm taiot, OmoOD, k Oo. 


Xotend aoeording to Act of CongzMB, in the 7«ar 1871, 


In thu Office of the libxaxiaxi of Congran, %X Wwhhigton. 

UmvBRsiTY Pbxss : Welch, Bigblow, & Ca, 


^^tA — 

• ■ 



Introduotobt. — How wk Met • . • • 1 

How TO Talk 26 

Talk 46 

How TO Wbitb ; • • 69^ 

How TO Read. I. 97 

How TO Read, n 127 



How TO 00 ncTo Sooiett 144 


How TO Travel ...*... 161 

Life at School. . • . . . . « 180 

Life in Vacation 190 

Life Alone 200 

Habits in Church 217 

Life with Children . 226 

Life with tour Elders ....«• 237 

Habits of Reading 248 

Getting Readt 259 

- .' , jbtj-' 







fTlIIE papers which are here collected enter in 
-^ some detail into the success and failure of a 
large number of young people of iny acquaintance, 
who are here named as 

Alice Fatjlconbeidgb, 

Bob Edmeston, 


Clem Watbks, 

Edward Holiday, 

Ellen Liston, 

Emma Fobtinbras, 

Enoch Putnam, brother of 


HoRAOE Felltham (a very dif- 
ferent person), 

Jane Smith, 

Jo Gresham, 

Laura Wvlter, 

Maud Ingletree, 

Oliver Ferguson, brother to 
Asaph and George, 




Fanny, cotcsin to Hatty Sarah Clavers, 

George Ferguson (Asaph 

Ferguson's brother), 
Hatty Fielding, 
Horace Putnam, 




Tom Rising, 


William Hackmatack, 

William Withers. 



It may be observed that there are thirty-four 
of them. They make up a very nice set, or 
would do so if they belonged together. But, in 
truth, they live in many regions, not to say 
countries. None of them are too bright or too 
stupid, only one of them is really selfish, all 
but one or two are thoroughly sorry for their 
faults when they commit them, and all of them 
who are good for anything think of themselves 
very littla There are a few who are approved 
members of the Harry Wadsworth Club. That 
means that they "look up and not down," they 
"look forward and not back," they "look out and 
not in," and they "lend a hand." These papers 
were first published, much as they are now col- 
lected, in the magazine " Our Young Folks," and in 
that admirable weekly paper " The Youth's Com- 
panion," which is held in grateful remembrance 
by a generation now tottering ofif the stage, and 
welcomed, as I see, with equal interest by the 
grandchildren as they totter on. From time to 
time, therefore, as the diiGferent series have gone 
on, I have received pleasant notes from other 

HOW TO DO rr, 8 

young people, whose acquaintance I have thus 
made with real pleasure, who have asked more 
explanation as to the points involved. I have 
thus been told that my friend, Mr. Henry Ward 
Beecher, is not governed by all my rules for 
young people's composition, and that Miss Throck- 
morton, the governess, does not believe Archbishop 
Whately is infallible. I have once and again 
been asked how I made the acquaintance of such 
a nice set of children. And I can weU believe 
that many of my young correspondents would in 
that matter be glad to be as fortunate as I. 

Perhaps, then, I shall do something to make the 
little book more intelligible, and to connect its 
parts, if in this introduction I teU of the one 
occasion when the dramatis personce met each 
other; arid in order to that, if I tell how they 
aU met me. 

First of all, then, my dear young friends, I began 
active life, as soon as I had left college, as I can 
well wish all of you might do. I began in keep- 
ing school. Not that I want to have any of you 
do this long, unless an evident fitness or '' manifest 


destiny" appear so to order. But you may be 
sure that, for a year or two of the start of life, 
there is nothing that will teach you your own 
ignorance so well as having to teach children 
the few things you know, and to answer, as best 
you can, their questions on all grounds. There 
was poor Jane, on the first day of that charming 
visit at the Penroses, who was betrayed by the 
simplicity and cordiality of the dinner-table — 
where she was the yoimgest of ten or twelve 
strangers — into taking a protective lead of all 
the conversation, till at the very Ijist I heard her 
explaining to dear Mr. Tom Coram himself, — a 
gentleman who had lived in Java ten years, — that 
cofifee-berries were red when they were ripe. I 
was sadly mortified for my poor Jane as Tom's 
eyes twinkled. She would never have got into 
that rattletmp way of talking if she had kept 
school for two years. Here, again, is a capital 
letter from Oliver Ferguson, Asaph's younger 
brother, describing his life on the Island at Paris 
all through the siege. I should have sent it yes- 
terday to Mr. Osgood, who would be delighted to 


print it in the Atlantic Monthly, hut that the 
spelling is disgracefuL Mr. Osgood and Mr. 
Howells would think Oliver a fool hefore they 
had read down the first page. " L-i-n, lin, n-e-n, 
nen, linen." Think of that ! Oliver would never 
have spelled " linen " like that if he had been two 
years a teacher. You can go through four years 
at Harvard College spelling so, but you cannot 
go through two years as a schoolmaster. 

Well, I say I was fortunate enough to spend 
two years as an assistant schoolmjister at the old 
Boston Latin School, — the oldest institution of 
learning, as we are fond of saying, in the United 
States. And there first I made my manhood's 
acquaintance with boys. 

"Do you think," said dear Dr. Malone to me 
one day, " that my son Eobert will be too young 
to enter college next August?" "How old will 
he be ? " said I, and I was told. Then as Eobert 
was at that moment just six months younger than 
I, who had already graduated, I said wisely, that I 
thought he would do, and Dr. Malone chuckled, I 
doubt not, as I did certainly, at the gravity of 

,, .^ ■ or TO. • \ 

M W •»■» 

\Pjf'v^ '^r' V -' 


my answer. A nice set of beys I had. I had 
above me two of the most loyal and honorable of 
gentlemen, who screened me from all reproof for 
my blunders. My discipline was not of the best, 
but my purposes were; and I and the boys got 
along admirably. 

It was the old schoolhouse. I believe I shall 
explain in another place, in this volume, that it 
stood where Parker's Hotel stands, and my room 
occupied the spot in space where you, Florence, and 
you, Theodora, dined with your aunt Dorcas last 
Wednesday before you took the cars for Andover, 
— the ladies' dining-room looking on what was 
then Cook's Court, and is now Chapman Place. 
Who Cook was I know not. The "Province 
Street" of to-day was then much more fitly. called 
" Governor's Alley." For boys do not know that 
that minstrel-saloon so long known as " Ordway's," 
just now changed into Sargent's Hotel, was for a 
century, more or less, the ofl&cial residence of the 
Governor of Massachusetts. It was the " Province 

On the top of it, for a. weathercock, was the 



large mechanical brp-zen Indian, who, whenever he 
heard the Old South clock strike twelve, shot off 
his brazen arrow. The little boys used to hope to 
see this. But just as twelve came was the bustle 
of dismissal, and I have never seen one who did 
see him, though for myself I know he did as wgis 
said, and have never questioned it. That oppor- 
tunity, however, was up stairs, in Mr. Dixwell's 
room. In my room, in the basement, we had no 
such opportunity. 

The glory of our room was that it was supposed, 
rightly or not, that a part of it was included in 
the old fijchoolhouse which was there before the 
Eevolution. There were old men still living who 
remembered the troublous times, the times that 
stirred boys* souls, as the struggle for independence 
began. I have myself talked with Jonathan Darby 
Eobbins, who was himself one of the committee 
who Waited on the British general to demand that 
their coasting should not be obstructed. There is 
a reading piece about it in one of the school-books. 
This general was not Gage, as he is said to be 
in tibe histories, but Greneral Haldimand ; and his 


quarters were at the house which stood nearly 
I where Franklin's statue stands now, just below 
King's ChapeL His servant had put ashes on the 
coast which the boys had made, on the sidewalk 
which passes the Chapel as you go down School 
Street. When the boys remonstrated, the servant 
ridiculed them, — he was not going to mind a 
gang of rebel boys. So the boys, who were much 
of their fathers' minds, appointed a committee, of 
whom my friend was one, to wait on General Hal^ 
dimand himself. They called on him, and they 
told him that coasting was one of their inalienable 
rights and that he must not take it away. The 
4dF6nefal Jcaew too well, that tha- people. of.theL 
town must not be irritated to take up his servant's 
quarrel, and he told the boys that their coast 
should not be interfered with. So they carried 
their point. The story-book says that he clasped 
his hands and said, " Heavens ! Liberty is in the 
very air ! Even these boys speak of their rights 
as do their patriot sires ! " But of this Mr. Eobbins 
told me nothing, and as Haldimand was a Hessian, 
of no great enthusiasm for liberty, I do not, for my 
part, believe it 


The morning of April 19, 1775, Harrison Gray 
Otis, then a little boy of eight years old, came 
down Beacon Street to school, and found a brigade 
of red-coats in line along Common Street, — as 
Tremont Street was then called, — so that he 
could not cross into School Street. They were 
Earl Percy's brigade. Class in history, where did 
Percy's brigade go that day, and what became of 
them before night ? A red-coat corporal told the 
Otis boy to walk along Common Street, and not 
try to cross the line. So he did. He went as far 
as Scollay's Building before he could turn their 
flank, then he went down to what you call Wash- 
ington Street, and came up to school, — late. 
Whether his excuse would have been sufl&cient I 
do not know. He was never asked for it. He 
came into school just in time to hear old Level, 
the Tory schoolmaster, say, "War's begun and 
school's done. Dimittite Itiros,'* — which means, 
" Put away your books." They put them away, 
and had a vacation of a year and nine months 
thereafter, before the school was open again. 

Well, in this old school I had spent four years 


of my boyhood, and here, as I say, my man- 
hood's acquaintance with boys began. I taught 
them Latin, and sometimes mathematics. Some 
of them will remember a famous Latin poem we 
wrote about Pocahontas and John Smith. All of 
them will remember how they capped Latin verses 
against the master, twenty against one, and put 
him down. These boys used to cluster round my 
table at recess and talk. Danforth Kewcomb, a 
lovely, gentle, accurate boy, almost always at the 
head of his class, — he died young. Shang-hae, San 
Francisco, Berlin, Paris, Australia^ — I don't know 
what cities, towns, and countries have the rest of 
them. And when they carry home this book for 
their own boys to read, they will find some of their 
boy-stories here. 

Then there was Mrs. Merriam'd boarding-schooL 
If you will read the chapter on travelling you wiU 
find about one of the vacations of her girls. Mrs. 
Merriam was one of Mr. Ingham's old friends, — 
and he is a man with whom I have had a great 
deal to do. Mrs. Merriam opened a school for 
t^^ve girla. I knew bar tqxjt wqU, and ao it 


came that 1 knew her ways with ttiem. Though 
it was a boarding-school, still the girls had just as 
''good a time ** as they had at home, and when I 
found that some of them asked leave to spend va- 
cation with her I knew they had better times. I 
remember perfectly the day when Mrs. Phillips 
asked them down to the old mansion-house, which 
seems so like home to me, to eat peaches. And 
it was determined that the girls should not think 
ihey were under any ''company" restraint, so 
no person but themselves was present when the 
peaches were served, and every girl ate as many 
as for herself she determined best. When they aU 
rode horseback, Mrs. M6rriam and I used to ride 
together with these young folks behind or before, 
as it listed them. So, not unnaturally, being a 
friend of the family^ I came to know a good many 
of them very well. 

For another set of them — you may choose the 
names to please yourselves — the history of my 
relationship goes back to the Sunday school of the 
Church of the Unity in Worcester. The first time 
i «v«9^ preached m that church, namely. May 3, 


1846, there was but one person in it who had gray 
hair. All of us of that day have enough now. 
But we were a set of young people, starting on a 
new church, which had, I assure you, no dust in 
the. pulpit-cushions. And almost all the children 
were young, as you may suppose. The first meet- 
ing of the Sunday school showed, I think, thirty- 
six children, and more of them were under mne 
than over. They are all twenty-five years older 
now than they were then. WeU, we started with- 
out a library for the Sunday schooL But in a 
comer of my study Jo Matthews and I put up 
some three-cornered shelves, on which I kept 
about a hundred books such as children like, and 
young people who are no longer children ; and then, 
as I sat reading, writing, or stood fussing over my 
fuchsias or labelling the mineralogical specimens, 
there would come in one or another nice girl or 
boy, to borrow a "EoUo" or a "Franconia," or to 
see if EUen listen had returned *' Amy Herbert." 
And so we got very good chances to find each 
othfer out. It is not a bad plan for a young minis- 
ter, if he really want to know what the young 



folk of his pariah are. I know it was then and 
there that I conceived the plan of writing " Mar- 
garet Percival in America" as a sequel to Miss 
Sewell's "Margaret Percival," and that I wrote 
my half of that history. 

The Worcester Sunday school grew beyond 
thirty-six scholars; and I have since had to do 
with two other Sunday schools, where, though the 
children did not know it, I felt as young as the 
youngest of them alL And in that sort of life 
you get chances to come at jiice boys and nice 
girls which most people in the world do not 

And the last of all the congresses of young 
people which I will name, where I have found 
my favorites, shall be the vacation congresses, ^- 
when people from all the comers of the world 
meet at some country hotel, and wonder who the 
others are the first night, and, after a month, won- 
der again how .they ever lived without knowing 
each other as brothers and sisters. I never had 
a nicer time than that day when we celebrated 
Arthur's birthday by going up to Greely's Pond. 

14 wosw TO DO m 

^' Could Amelia walk so £ac? She only eight 
jeaxs old, and it was the whole of five miles hj 
a wood-road, and five miles to come back again." 
Yes, Amelia was certain she could. Then, ^ whether 
Arthur could walk so far, he being nine." Why, 
of course he could if Amelia could. So eight-year- 
old, nine-year-old, ten-year-old, eleven-year-old, 
and all the rest of the ages, — we tramped off 
together, and we stumbled ov^ the stumps, and 
waded throu^ the mud, and tripped lightly, like 
Somnambula in the opera, over the log bridges, 
which were single logs and nothing more, and 
came successfully to Greely's Pond, — beautiful 
lake of Egeria that it is, hidden from envious and 
lazy men by forest and rock and mountain. And 
the children of fifty years old and less pulled off 
shoes and stockings to wade in it ; and we caught 
in tin mugs little seedling trouts not so long as 
that word ''seedling" is on the page, and saw 
them swim in the mugs and set them free again ; 
and we ate the lunches with appetites as of Ar- 
cadia ; and we stumped happily home again, and 
found, as we weiit home^ all the sketchrbooks ane 

HOW TO DO rr. 16 

bait-boxes and neckties which we had lost as we 
went up. On a day like that you get intimate, if 
you were not intimate before. 

dear ! don't you wish you were at WatervOle 

Now, if you please, my dear Fanchon, we will 
not go any further into the places where I got 
acquainted with the heroes and heroines of this 
book. Allow, of those mentioned here, four to the 
Latin school, five to the Unity Sunday school, six 
to the South Congregational, sev^i to vacation 
acquaintance, credit me with nine children of my 
own and ten brothers and sisters, and you will 
find no difl&culty in selecting who of these are 
which of those, if you have ever studied the 
science of ** Indeterminate Analysis " in Professor 
Smythe*s Algebra. 

" Dear Mr. Hale, you are making fun of us. 
We never know when you are in earnest" 

Do not be in the least afraid, dear Florence. 
Remember that a central rule for comfort in life 
is this, "Nobody was ever written down an ass, 
except by himself" 


Now I will tell you how ariA when the partic- 
ular thirty-four names above happened to come 

We were, a few of us, staying at the White 
Mountains. I think no New England summer is 
quite perfect imless you stay at least a day in the 
White Mountains. " Staying in the White Moun- 
tains " does not mean climbing on top of a stage- 
coach at Centre Harbor, and riding by day and by 
night for forty-^ight hours till you fling yourself 
into a railroad-car at Littleton, and cry out that 
" you have done them." No. It means just living 
with a prospect before your eye of a hundred mUes* 
radius, as you may have at Bethlehem or the 
Flume ; or, perhaps, a valley and a set of hills, 
which never by accident look twice the same, as 
you may have at the Glen House or Dolly Cop's 
or at Waterville ; or with a gorge behind the 
house, which you may thread and thread and 
thread day in and out, and still not come out 
upon the cleft rock from which flows the first 
drop of the lovely stream, as you may do at Jack- 
son. It means Uving front to front. Up to_ Up, 


with Nature at her leireliest, Echo at her most mys- 
terious, with Heaven at its brightest and Earth at 
its greenest, and, all this time, breathing, with 
every breath, an atmosphere which is the elixir of 
life, so pure and sweet and strong. At Greely's 
you are, I believe, on the highest land inhabited 
in America. That land has a pure air upon it. 
Well, as I say, we were staying in the White 
Mountains. Of course the young folks wanted to 
go up Mount Washington. We had all been up 
Osceola and Black Mountain, and some of us had 
gone up on Mount Carter, and one or two had 
been on Mount Lafayette. But this was as noth- 
ing till we had stood on Mount Washington him- 
self. So I told Hatty Fielding and Laura to go 
on to the railroad-station and join a party we 
knew that were going up from there, while Jo 
Gresham and Stephen and the two Fergusons and 
I would go up on foot by a route I kn^w from 
Eandolph over the real Mount Adams. Kobody 
had been up that particular branch of Israel's run 
since Channing and I did in 1841. Will Hack- 
matack, who was with us, had a blister on his 



foot, SO he Went with the riding party. He said 
that was the reason, perhaps he thought sa The 
truth was he wanted to go with Laura, and nobody 
need be ashamed of that any day. 

I spare you the account of Israel's river, and of 
the lovely little cascade at its very source, where 
it leaps out between two rocks. I spare you the 
hour when we lay under the spruces while it 
rained, and the little birds, ignorant of men aiMi 
boys, hopped tamely round us. I spare you even 
the rainbow, more than a semicircle, which we 
saw from Mount Adams. Safely, wetly, and hun- 
gry, we five arrived at the Tiptop House about 
six, amid the congratulations of those who had 
ridden. The two girk and Will had come safely 
up by the cars, — and who do you think had got 
in at the last moment when the train started but 
Pauline and her father, who had made a party up 
from Portland and had with them Ellen listen 
and Sarah Clavers. And who do you think had 
appeared in the Glen House party, when they 
came, but Esther and her mother and Edward 
Holiday and his &ther. Up to this moment of 



their lives gome of these young people had never 
seen other some. But some had, and we had 
not long been standing on the rocks making out 
Sebago and the water beyond Portland before they 
were all very well acquainted. All fourteen of us 
went in to supper, and were just beginning on the 
goat's milk, when a cry was heard that a party of 
young men in uniform were approaching from the 
head of Tuckerman's Eavine. Jo and Oliver ran 
out, and in a moment returned to wrench us all 
from our corn-cakes that we might welcome the 
New Limerick boat-club, who were on a pedestrian 
trip and had come up the Parkman Notch that 
day. Nice, brave fellows they were, — a little 
foot-sore. Who should be among them but Tom 
himself and Bob Edmeston. They all went and 
washed, and then with some difi&culty we all got 
through tea, when the night party from the 
Notch House was announced on horseback, and 
we sallied forth to welcome them. Nineteen in 
all, from all imtions. Two Japanese princes, and 
the Secretary of the Dutch legation, and so on, 
as usual; but what was no| ^as usual^ jolly Mi; 



Waters and bis jollier wife were there, — she 
astride on her saddle, as is the sensible fashion 
of the Notch House, — and, in the long stretch- 
ing line, we made out Clara Waters and Clem, 
not together, but Clara with a girl whom she 
did not know, but who rode better than she, 
and had whipped both horses with a rattan she 
had. And who should this girl be but Sybil 
Dyer ! 

As the party filed up, and we lifted tired girls 
and laughing mothers oS the patient horses, I 
found that a lucky chance had thrown Maud 
and her brother Stephen into the same caravan. 
There was great kissing when my girls recog- 
nized Maud, and when it became generally 
known that I was competent to introduce to 
others such pretty and bright people as she and 
Laura and Sarah Clavers were, I found myself 
very popular, of a sudden, and in quite general 

And I bore my honors meekly, I assure you. 
I took nice old Mrs. Van Astrachan out to a 
favorite rock of mine to see the sunset, and, what 


was more marvellous, the heavy thunder-doud, 
which was beating up against the wind; and I 
left the young folks to themselves, only aspiring 
to be a Youth's Companion. I got Will to bring 
me Mrs. Van Astrachan's black furs, as it grew 
cold, but at last the air was so sharp and the 
storm clearly so near, that we were all driven in 
to that nice, cosey parlor at the Tiptop House, 
and sat round the hot stove, not sorry to be shel- 
tered, indeed, when we heard the heavy rain on 
the windows. 

We fell to telling stories, and I was telling of 
the last time I was there, when, by great good 
luck, Starr King turned up, having come over 
Madison afoot, when I noticed that Hall, one of 
those patient giants who kept the house, was called 
out, and, in a moment more, that he returned and 
whispered his partner out. In a minute more 
they returned for their rubber capes, and then we 
learned that a man had staggered into the stable 
half frozen and terribly frightened, announcing 
that he had left some people lost just by the 
Lake of the Clouds. Of course, we were all im- 



mensely excited for half an hour or less, when Hall 
appeared with a very wet woman, all but sense- 
less, on his shoulder, with her hair hanging down 
to the ground. The ladies took her into an inner 
room, stripped off her wet clothes, and rubbed her 
dry and warm, gave her a little brandy, and 
dressed her in the dry linens Mrs. Hall kept 
ready. Who should she prove to be, of all the 
world, but Emma FortinbrasI The men of the 
party were her father and her brothers Frank 
and Eobert. 

No ! that is not alL After the excitement was 
over they joined us in our circle round the stove, 
— and we should all have been in bed, but that 
Mr. Hall told such wonderful bear-stories, and 
it was after ten o'clock that we were still sitting 
there. The shower had quite blown over, when 
a cheery French horn was heard, and the cheery 
Hall, who was never surprised, I believe, rushled 
out again, and I need not say Oliver rushed out 
with him and Jo Gresham, and before long we 
all rushed out to welcome the last party of the 

woif TO DO IT. 23 

These were horseback people, who had come 
by perhaps the most charming route of all, — 
which is also the oldest of all, — from what was 
Ethan Crawford's. They did not start till noon. 
They had taken the storm, wisely, in a charcoal 
camp, — and there are worse places, — and then 
they had spurred np, and here they were. Who 
were they I Why, there was an army ofl&cer 
and his wife, who proved to be Alice Faulcon- 
bridge, and with her was Hatty Fielding's Cousin 
Fanny, and besides them were Will Withers and 
his sister Florence, who had made a charming 
quartette party with Walter and his sister Theo- 
dora, and on this ride had made acquaintance 
for the first time with Colonel Mansfield and 
Alice. All this was wonderful enough to me, 
as Theodora explained it to me when I lifted 
her off her horse, but when I found that Horace 
Putnam and his brother Enoch were in the same 
train, I said I did believe in astrology. 

For though I have not named Jane Smith nor 
Fanchon, that was because you did not recog- 
nize them among the married people in the 


Crawford House party, — and I suppose you did 
not recognize Herbert either. How should you ? 
But, in truth, here we all were up above the 
clouds on the night of the 25th of August. 

Did not those Ethan Crawford people eat as 
if they had never seen biscuits? And when at 
last they were done, Stephen, who had been out 
in the stables, came in with a black boy he 
found there, who had his fiddle ; and as the 
Colonel Mansfield party came in from the dining- 
room, Steve screamed out, "Take your partners 
for a Virginia EeeL" No! I do not know, whose 
partner was who ; only this, that there were 
seventeen boys and men and seventeen girls or 
women, besides me and Mrs. Van Astrachan and 
Colonel Mansfield and Pauline's mother. And 
we danced till for one I was almost dead, and 
then we went to bed, to wake up at five in the 
morning to see the sunrise. 

As we sat on the rocks, on the eastern side, I 
introduced Stephen to Sybil Dyer, — the last two 
who had not known each other. And I got talk- 
ing with a circle of young folks about what the 



commimion of saints is, — meaning, of course, 
just such unselfish society as we had there. 
And so dear Laura said, "Why will you not 
write us down something of what you are say- 
ing, Mr. Hale?" And Jo Giesham said, "Pray 
do, — pray do; if it were only to tell us 

"How TO po rr" 



T WISH the young people who propose to read 
-*- any of these papers to understand to whom 
they are addressed. My friend, Frederic Ingham, 
has a nephew, who went t(f New York on a visit, 
and while there occupied himseK in buying 
"travel-presents" for his brothers and sisters at 
home. His funds ran low ; and at last he found 
that he had still three presents to buy and only 
thirty-four cents with which to buy them. He 
made the requisite calculation as to how much 
he should have for each, — looked in at Ball and 
Black's, and at Tiffany's, priced an amethyst neck- 
lace, which he thought Clara would like, and a set 
of cameos for Fanfan, and found them beyond his 
reach. He then tried at a nice little toy-shop 
there is a little below the Fifth Avenue House, 
on the west, where a "clever" woman and a 
good-natured girl keep the shop, and, having 
there made one or two vain endeavors to suit 


himself, asked the good-natured girl if she had 
not ''got anything a fellow could buy for about 
eleven cents." She found him first one article, 
then another, and then another. Wat bought 
them all, and had one cent in his pocket when 
he came home. ^ i 

In much the same way these several articles 
of mine have been waiting in the bottom of my 
inkstand and the front of my head for seven 
or nine years, without finding precisely the right 
audience or circle of readers. I explained to Mr. 
Fields — the amiable Sheik of the amiable tribe 
who prepare the "Young Folks" for the young 
folks — that I had six articles all ready to write, 
but that they were meant for girls say from 
thirteen to seventeen, and boys say from fourteen 
to nineteen. I explained that girls and boys of 
this age never read the "Atlantic," no, not by 
any means ! And I supposed that they never read 
the "Tbung Folks," no, not by any means ! I 
explained that .1 could not preach them as ser- 
mons, because many of the children at church 
were too young, and a few of the grown people 
were too old. That I was, therefore, detailing 


them in conyersation to such of my young friends 
as chose to hear. On which the Sheik was so 
good as to propose to provide for me, as it were, a 
special opportunity, which I now use. We jointly 
explain to the older boys and girls, who rate be- 
tween the ages of thirteen and nineteen, that 
these essays are exclusively for them. 

I had once the honor — on the day after Lee's 
surrender — to address the girls of the 12th Street 
School in New York ** Shall I call you ' girls ' 
or ' young ladies ' ? " said I. " Call us girls, call 
us girls," was the unanimous answer. I heard 
it with great pleasure ; for I took it as a nearly 
certain sign that these three hundred young peo- 
ple were growing up to be true women, — which 
is to say, ladies of the very highest tone. 

" Why did I think so ? " Because at the age 
of fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen they took pleas- 
ure in calling things by their right names. 

So far, then, I trust we understand each other, 
before any one begins to read these little hints of 
mine, drawn from forty-five years of very quiet 
listening to good talkers; which are, however, 
nothing more than hints 

HOW TO DO nr. 29 


Here 13 a letter from my nephew Tom, a 
epirited, modest ])oy of seventeen, who is a stu- 
dent of the Scientific School at New Limerick. 
He is at home with his mother for an eight weeks' 
vacaticm ; and the very first evening of his return 
he went round with her to the Vandermeyers', 
wh^» "^as a little gathering of some thirty or 
fwty people, — most of them, as he confesses, his 
old schoolmates, a few of them older than himself. 
But poor Tom was mortified, and thinks he was 
disgraced, because he did not have anything to 
«ay, could not say it if he had, and, in short, 
because he does not talk weE He hates talking 
parties, be says, and never means to go to one 

Here is also a letter from Esther W., who may 
speak for herself, and the two may well enough 
be put upon tibe same file, and be answered to- 
gether : '^ 

^'Please listen patiently to a confession. I 
have wbAt seems to me very »ato»al,— a strong 


desire to be liked by those whom I meet around 
me in society of my own age ; but, unfortunately, 
when with them my manners have often been . 
unnatural and constrained, and I have foimd . 
myself thinking of myseK, and what others were 
thinking of me, instead of entering into the en- 
joyment of the moment as others did. I seem to 
have naturally very little independence, and to 
be very much afraid of other people, and of their 
opinion. And when, as you might naturally infer 
from the above, I often have not been successful 
in gaining the favor of those around me, then I 
have spent a great deal of time in the selfish 
indulgence of 'the blues,' and in philosophizing 
on the why and the wherefore of some persons' 
agreeableness and popularity and others' unpopu- 

There, is not that a good letter from a nice 

Will you please to see, dear Tom, and you also, 
dear Esther, that both of you, after the fashion of 
your age, are confounding the method with the 
thing. You see how charmingly Mrs. Pallas sits 

HOW TO DO It. 31 

back and goes on with her crochet while Dr. 
Volta talks to her ; and then, at the right moment, 
she says just the right thing, and makes him 
, laiigh, or makes him cry, or makes him defend 
himself, or makes him explain himself ; and you 
think that there is a particular knack or rule for 
doing this so glibly, or that she has a particular 
genius for it which you are not bom to, and there- 
fore you both propose hermitages for yourselves 
because you cannot do as she does. Dear chil- 
dren, it would be a very stupid world if anybody 
in it did just as anybody else does. There is no 
particular method about talking or talking well 
It is one of the things in life which " does itself." 
And the only reason why you do not talk as 
easily and quite as pleasantly as Mrs. Pallas is, 
that you are thinking of the method, and coming 
to me to inquire how to do that which ought 
to do itself perfectly, simply, and without any 
rules at alL 

It is just as foolish girls at school think that 
there is some particular method of drawing with 
which they shall succeed, while with all other 


methods they have failed. " No, I can't draw in 
india-ink [pronounced in-jink], 'n' I can't do any. 
thing with crayons, — I hate crayons, — 'n' I can't 
draw pencil-drawings, 'n' I won't try any more ; 
but if this tiresome old Mr. Apelles was not so ob- 
stinate, 'n' would only let me try the ' monochro- 
matio drawing,' I know I could do that. 'T so 
easy* Julia Ann, she drew a beautiful piece in 
only six lessors/' 

My poor Pauline, if you cannot see right when 
you have a crayon in your hand, and will not 
draw what you se^ then, no " monochromatic 
system" is going to help you. But if you will 
put down on the paper what you see, as you 
see -it, whether you do it with a cat's tail, as 
Benjamin West did it, or with a glove turned 
inside out, as Mr. Hunt bids you do it, you will 
draw well The method is of no use, imless the 
thing is there ; and when you have the thing, the 
method will foUow. 

So there is no particular method for taUdng 
which wiU not also apply to swimming or skating, 
ay leading qit Ammg, ox in general to living. 

gOW TO DO JT. 33 

Jjid if you fail in talking, it is because you have 
not yet applied in talking the simple master-^es 
pf lif a 
For io^tancei the first of iliese rules is. 

Tell the Tkuth. 

Only last night I saw poor Bob Edmestoii, vko 
has got to pull throi^h a ^©al of drift-wood before 
te gets into dear water, break down completely in 
the very beginning of his acquaint^tnce with one 
of the nicest girls I know, because he would not 
teU the truth, or did not. J was standing right 
behind them, listening to Pr. OUapod, who was 
explaining to nje the history of the second land- 
graut made to Gorges, and between the sentences 
I had a chance to hear every word poor Bob said 
to Laura. Mark now, Laura is a nice clever gir]^ 
who has come to make the Watsons a visit 
through her whole vacation at Poughkeepsie ; and 
all the young people are delighted with her pleas- 
ant ways, and all of them would be glad to know 
more of her than they do. Bob really wants to 

toow her, and he wfs really glad to be introduwi 


to her. Mrs. Pollexfen presented him to her, and 
he asked her to dance, and they stood on the side 
of the cotillon behind me and in front of Dr. 
OUapod. After they had taken their places, Bob 
said : "Jew go to the opera last week. Miss Wal- 
ter ? " He meant, " Did you go to the opera last 
week ? " 

" No," said Lanra, " I did not." 

" 0, 't was charming ! " said Bob. And there 
this effort at talk stopped, as it should have done, 
being founded on nothing but a lie ; which is to 
say, not founded at alL For, in fact. Bob did not 
care two straws about the opera. He had never 
been to it but once, and then he was tired before 
it was over. But he pretended he cared for it. 
He thought that at an evening party he must talk 
about the opera, and the lecture season, and the 
assemblies, and a lot of other trash, about which 
in fact he ocured nothing, and so knew nothing. 
Not caring and not knowing, he could not carry 
on his conversation a step. The mere fact that 
Miss Walter had shown that she was in real sym- 
pathy with him in an indifference to the opera 

HOW TO DO rr. 35 

threw him off the track which he never should 
have been on, and brought his untimely conversa- 
tion to an end. 

Now, as it happened, Laura's next partner 
brought her to the very same place, or rather she 
never left it, but Will Hackmatack came and 
claimed her dance as soon as Bob's was done. Dr. 
OUapod had only got down to the appeal made to 
the lords sitting in equity, when I noticed Will's 
beginning. He spoke right out of the thing he 
was thinking of. 

" I saw you riding this afternoon," he said. 

"Yes," said Laura, "we went out by the red 
•mills, and drove up the hiU by Mr. Pond's." 

" Did you ? " said Will, eagerly. " Did you see 
the beehives ? " 

" Beehives ? no ; — are there beehives ? " 

" Why, yes, did not you know that Mr. Pond 
knows more about bees than all the world beside ? 
At least, I believe so. He has a gold medal from 
Paris for his honey or for something. And his 
arrangements there are very curious." 

" I wish I had known it," said Laura. ** I kept 

g6 mw TO DO IT. 

1)069 l^t fiuinmer, cmd they always puzzled me. I 
tried to get book? ; but the books 9jre all written 
for Switzerland, or England, or aaywhere but 
Orange County." 

''Well," said the eager WilJ, ^'J do not think 
Mr. Pond has written any book, but I really guess 
he k^pws g. great dQptl about it. Why, he told 
ine — " &c., &c., &c. 

It was hard for Will to ke^ the run of the 
dance ; and befoi:e it was over he bad promised to 
ask Mr. Pond when a party of them might come 
up to the hill and see the establishment ; and he 
felt as well acquainted with Laura as if he had 
known her a inonth. All this ease came from 
Will's not pretending an interest where he did not 
feel any, but opening simply where he was flure of 
his ground, and was reftUy interested. More 
simply. Will did not teU a lie, as poor Bob had 
done in that remark about the oper^ but told 
the truth. 

If I were periftitted to write more than thirty- 
five pages of this note-pap^r (of which this is the 
pjseleent^), I wouJci teU jm twenty stories to the 
sam^ point And please observe that the distinction 



between the two systems of talk is the eternal dis- 
tinction between the people whom Thackeray calls 
snobs and the people who are gentlemen and la- 
dies. Gentlemen and ladies are sure of thei? 
ground. They pretend to nothing that they are 
not. They have no occasion to act one or another 
part. It is not possible fop them, even in the 
ehoiee qf mitget^, to tell lies. 

The principle of selecting f^ subject which 
thoroughly interests you j^uires only one quali- 
fieation. Ton may be veiy intaisely inta?ested in 
some a£fairs of you? own ; but i^ general society 
you hare no right to talk of them, simply because 
th^ are not of equal interest to other people. Of 
eourse you may come to me for advice, or go to 
your mast^, ox to yoijr fetb^ or mother, or to any 
friwd, and i^ foym lay (f^n your own troubles or 
your own life, and make these the subject of your 
talk. But in genesral society you have no right tp 
do this. For the ?^e of life is, that men a^d 
women must not think of themselves, but of 
^ ^hers : thay must live for others, and then they 
will live rightiy fm liemfi^lves. So the second 
rule for talk would express itself thus : — 



I remember how I was mortified last summer^ 
up at the Tiptop House, though I was not in the 
least to blame, by a display Emma Fortinbras 
made of herself. There had gathered round the 
fire in the sitting-room quite a group of the differ- 
ent parties who had come up from the different 
houses, and we all felt warm' and comfortable and 
social; and, to my real delight, Emma and her 
father and her cousin came in, — they had been 
belated somewhere. She is a sweet pretty little 
thing, really the belle of the village, if we had 
such things, and we are all quite proud of her in 
one way ; but I am sorry to say that she is a little 
goose, and sometimes she manages to show this 
just when you don't want her to. Of course she 
shows this, as all other geese show themselves, by 
cackling about things that interest no one but her- 
sel£ When she came into the room, Alice ran to 
her and kissed her, and took her to the wannest 
seat, and took her little cold hands to rub them^ 
and b^an to ask her how it had all happened, and 


where they had been, and all the other questions. 
Now, you see, this was a very dangerous position. 
Poor Emma was not equal to it. The subject was 
given her, and so far she was not to blame. But 
when, from the misfortunes of the party, she rushed 
immediately to detail individual misfortunes of 
her own, resting principally on the history of a 
pair of boots which she had thought would be 
strong enough to last all through the expedition, 
and which she had meant to send to Sparhawk's 
before she left home to have their heels cut down, 
only she had forgotten, and now these boots were 
thus and thus, and so and so, and she had no 
others with her, and she was sure that she did not 
know what she should do when she got up in the 
morning, — I say, when she got as far as this, in 
all this thrusting upon people who wanted to 
sympathize a set of matters which had no connec- 
tion with what interested them, excepting so far 
as their personal interest in her gave it, she vio- 
lated the central rule of life; for she showed she 
was thinking of herself with more interest than 
she thought of others with. Now to do this is 

40 gOW TO W IT. 

b^ living, and it is tad liyiiig which will ahow 
iteelf in bad talking. 

But I hope you Be^ tbe^ distinetio». If Mr. 
Agassiz comes to you on the Field day of the Essex 
Society, and says : '* Miss FftBehon, I understand 
that you feJJ over froBi the pteamer as you came 
from Portland, ai^d had to swim half au hour be- 
fore the boats reached you. Will you be kind 
enough to tell me how you wei^ taught to swim, 
and how the qhill of the water affected you, and, 
in shorty all about your experience?" he then 
makes choice pf the subject. He asks for all 
the detaiL It is to gratify him that you go into 
the detail, and you may therefore go into it just 
as far as you choose. Only take care not to lug in 
one little detail merely because it interests you, 
when there is no possibility that, in itself, it can 
have an interest for him. 

Have you never noticed how the really jarovokr 
ing snence of these brave men who come back 
from the war gives a new and particular zest to 
what they tell us of their adventures ? We have 
to WQp» it ^ut pf them, w^ drag it from them by 

WW TO DO IT. 41 

pincers, ftnd, when we have it, the flavor is fJl 
pure, It is exactly what we want, — life highly 
condensed ; and they could have given us indeed 
nothing more precious, as certainly nothing more 
charming. But when some Bobadil braggart vol- 
unteers to tell how he did this and that, how he 
silenced this battery, fi«id how he rode over that 
field of carnage, in the first place we do not be^ 
lieve a tenth part of his story, and in the second 
place we wish he would not tell the fraction 
which we suppose is possibly true, 

life is given to us that we may learn how to 
live. That is what it is for. We are here in a 
gj?eat boardingHschool, where we are being trained 
in the use of our bodies and our minds, so that 
in another world we may know how to use other 
bodies and minds with other faculties. Or, if you 
please, life is a gymnasium. Take which figure 
you choose. Because of this, good talk, following 
the principle of life, is always directed with a gen- 
eral desire for learning rather than teaching. No 
good talker is obtrusive, thrusting forward his ob- 
SOTvation QA men and tJiJMir:-^iSfltisL^ther recep- 



tive, trjdng to get at other people's observations ; 
and what he says himself falls from him, as it 
were, by accident, he unconscious that he is say- 
ing anything that is worth while. As the late 
Professor Harris said, one of the last times I saw 
him, " There are unsounded depths in a man's na- 
ture of which he himself knows nothing till they 
are rerealed to him by the plash and ripple of his 
own conrersation with other men." This great 
principle of life, when applied in conversation, 
may be stated simply then in two words, — 

Confess Ignorance. 

You are both so young that you cannot yet 
conceive of the amount of treasure that will yet 
be poured in upon you, by all sorts of people, if 
you do not go about professing that you have all 
you want abeady. Ton know the story of the 
two school-girls on the Central Eailroad. They 
were dead faint with hunger, having ridden all 
day without food, but, on consulting together, 
agreed that they did not dare to get out at any 
station to buy. A modest old doctor of divinity. 


who was coming home from a meeting of the 
" American Board/' overheard their talk, got some 
sponge-cake, and pleasantly and civilly offered it 
to them as he might have done to his grand- 
children. But poor Sybil, who was nervous and 
anxious, said, "No, thank you," and so Sarah 
thought she must say, "No, thank you," too; 
and so they were nearly dead when they reached 
the Delavan House. Now just that same thing 
happens whenever you pretend, either from pride 
or from shyness, that you know the thing you do 
not know. K you go on in that way you will be 
starved before long, and the coroner's jury wiU 
bring in a verdict, " Served you right." I could 
have brayed a girl, whom I will call Jane Smith, 
last night at Mrs. PoUexfen's party, only I remem- 
bered, " Though thou bray a fool in a mortar, his 
foolishness will not depart from him," and that 
much the same may be said of fools of the other 
sex. I could have brayed her, I say, when I saw 
how she was constantly defrauding herself by cut- 
ting off that fine Major Andrew, who was talking 
to her, or trying to. Eeally, no instances give you 


any idea of it. From a silly boarding-school habit^ 
I think, she kept saying *' Yes," as if she would be 
disgraced by acknowledging ignorance. ^ You 
know," said he, "what General Taylor said to 
Santa Anna, when they brought him in ? " 
"Yes," simpered poor Jane, though in fact she 
did not know, and I do not suppose five people 
in the world do. But poor Andrew, simple as a 
soldier, believed her and did not tell the story, 
but went on alluding to it, and they got at once 
into helpless confusion. Still, he did not know 
what the matter was, and before long, when they 
were speaking of one of the Muhlbach novels, he 
said, '' Did you think of the resemblance between 
the winding up and Eedgauntlet ? " " O yes,*' 
simpered poor Jane again, though, as it proved, 
and as she had to explain in two or three minutes, 
she had never read a word of Bedgauntlet. She 
had merely said "Yes,'' and "Yes," and "Yes'' 
not with a distinct notion of fraud, but from an 
impression that it helps conversation on if you 
forever assent to what is said. This is an utter 
mistake ; for, as Z hope you see by this time, con-^ 

BOW TO DO rr. 45 

versation really depends on the acknowledgment 
of ignorance, — being, indeed, the providential 
appointment of God foor the easy removal of such 

And here I must stop, lest you both be tired. 
In my next paper I shall begin again, and teach 
you, 4 To t£dk to the person you are talking with, 
and not simper to her or him, while really you are 
looking all round the room, and thinking of ten 
other persons; 5. Never in any other way to 
underrate the person you talk with, but to talk 
your best, whatever that may be ; and, 6. To be 
brief, — a point which I shall have to illustrate 
at great length. 

If you like, you may confide to the Letter-Box 
your experiences on these points, as well as on 
the three on which we have already been engaged. 
But, whether you do or do not, I shall give to you 
the result, not only of my experiences, but of at 
least 5,872 years of talk — Lyell says many more 
— since Adam gave names to chattering monkeys. 




ni T"AY I presume that all my young friends 
•^-^ between this and Seattle have read paper 
Number Two ? First class in geography, where 
is Seattle ? Eight. Go up. Have you all read, 
and inwardly considered, the three rules, "TeU 
the truth"; ''Talk not of yourself"; and "Con- 
fess ignorance"? Have you all practised them, 
in moonlight sleigh-ride by the Eed Eiver of 
the North, — in moonlight stroll on the beach 
by St. Augustine, — in evening party at Potts- 
ville, — and at the parish sociable in Northfield ? 
Then you are sure of the benefits which will 
crown your lives if you obey these three pre- 
cepts ; and you will, with xmfaltering step, move 
quickly over the kettle-de-benders of this broken 
essay, and from the thistle, danger, will pluck the 
three more flowers which I have promised. I 
am to teach you, fourth, — 



This rule is constantly violated by fools and 
snobs. Now you might as well turn your head 
away when you shoot at a bird, or look over your 
shoulder when you have opened a new book, — 
instead of looking at the bird, or looking at the 
book, — as lapse into any of the habits of a man 
who pretends to talk to one person while he 
is listening to another, or watching another, or 
wondering about another. If you really want to 
hear what Jo Gresham is saying to Alice Faul- 
conbridge, when they are standing next you in 
the dance, say so to Will Withers, who is trying 
to talk with you. You can say pleasantly, '' Mr. 
Withers, I want very much to overhear what Mr. 
Gresham is saying, and if you will keep still a 
minute, I think I can." Then Will Withers will 
know what to do. You will not be preoccupied, 
and perhaps you may be able to hear something 
you were not meant to know. 

At this you are disgusted. You throw down 
the book at once, and say you will not read 

48 HOW TO DO IT. * 

any more. Tou cannot think why this hateful 
man supposes that you would do anything so 

Then why do you let Will Withers suppose so ? 
All he can tell is what you show him. If you 
will listen while he speaks, so as to answer in- 
telligently, and will then speak to him as if 
there were no other persons in the room, he will 
know fast enough that you are talking to him. 
But if you just say "yes," and "no," and "in- 
deed," and "certainly," in that flabby, languid 
way in which some boys and girls I know pre- 
tend to talk sometimes, be will think that you 
are engaged in thinking of somebody else, or 
something else, — unless, indeed, he supposes 
that you are not thinking of anything, and that 
you hardly know what thinking is. 

It is just as bad, when you are talking to 
another girl, or another girl's mother, if you take 
to watching her hair, or the way she trimmed 
her frock, or anything else about her, instead of 
watching what she is saying as if that were 
really what you and she are talking for. I 

fow Ta i>o rr. 49 

could name to yon young womeii who seem to 
go into society for the purpose of studying the 
milliner's business. It is a very good business, 
and a very proper business to study in the right 
place. I know some very good girls who would 
be much improved, and whose husbands would be 
a great deal happier, if they would study it to 
more purpose than they do. But do not study it 
while you are talking. No, -^ not if the Em- 
press Eugenie herself should be talking to you.^ 
Suppose, when General Dix has presented you 
and mamma, the Empress . should see you in the 
crowd afterwards, and should spnd that stiff- 
looking old gentleman in a court dress across 
the room, to ask you to come and talk to her, 
and should say to you, ''Mademoiselle, est-ce 
que Ton permet aux jeunes filles Am^ricaines 
se promener k cheval sans cavalier?" Do you 
look her frankly in the face while she speaks, 

* This was written in 1869, and I leave it in memcriam. 
Indeed, in this May of 1871, Eugenie's chances of receiving 
Clare at Court again are as good as anybody's, and better 
tiian some. 


50 HOW TO DO m 

and when she stops, do you answer her as you 
would answer Leslie Goldthwaite if you were 
coming home from berrying. Don't you count 
those pearls that the Empress has tied roimd her 
head, nor think how you can make a necktie 
like hers out of that old bit of ribbon that you 
bought in Syracuse. Tell her, in as good French 
or as good English as you can muster, what she 
asks ; and if, after you have answered her lead, 
she plays again, do you play again; and if she 
plays again, do you play again, — till one or 
other of you takes the trick But do you think 
of nothing else, while the talk goes on, but the 
subject she has started, and of her ; do not think 
of yoiu^elf, but address yourself to the single 
business of meeting her inquiry as well as you 
can. Then, if it becomes proper for you to ask 
her a question, you may. But remember that 
conversation is what you are there for, — not the 
study of millinery, or fashion, or jewelry, or 

Why, I have known men who, while they were 
smirking, and smiling, and telling other lies to 


their partners, were keeping the calendar of the 
whole room, - knew who waa dancing with 
whom, and who was looking at pictures, and [ 

that Brown had sent up to the lady of the 
house to tell her that supper was served, and 
that she was just looking for her husband that 
he might offer Mrs. Grant his arm and take her 
down stairs. But do you think their partners 
liked to be treated so ? Do you think their 
partners were worms, who liked to be trampled 
upon? Do you think they were pachyderma- 
tous coleoptera of the dor tribe, who had just 
fallen from red-oak trees, and did not know that 
they were trampled upon ? You are wholly mis- 
taken. Those partners were of flesh and blood, 
like you, — of the same blood with you, cousins- 
german of yours on the Anglo-Saxon side, — 
and they felt just as badly as you would feel 
if anybody talked to you while he was thinking 
of the other side of the room. 

And I know a man who is, it is true, one of 
the most noble and unselfish of men, but who 
had made troops of friends long before people 

52 HOW Ta DO 


liad found that out Loi^ before lie bad loftde 
his- present fame, lie had found these tioops of 
fdends. When he was a green, uncouth^ un- 
licked cub of a boy, like you, Stephen^ he had 
made them. And do you ask howl He had 
made them by listening with all his might. 
Whoever sailed down on him at an evening 
party and engaged him — though it were the 
most weary of odd old ladies — was sure, while 
they were together, of her victim. He would 
look her right in the eye, would take in her 
every shrug and half-whisper, would enter into 
all her joys and terrors and hopes, would help 
her by his sympathy to find out what the trouble 
was, and, when it was his turn to answer, he 
would answer like her own son. Do you won- 
der that all the old ladies loved him? And it 
was no special court to old ladies. He talked 
so to school-boys, and to shy people who had 
just poked their heads out of their shells, and 
to all the awkward people, and to all the gay 
and easy people. And so he ccanpelled them, by 
his magnetism, to talk so to him. That was the 

• Ifcir T* DO IT. 68 

vnBf lie iH«ie lr» &irt fiaends, — amd ffaat -was 
lite -way, I Uattk, that Tie deserved them. 

Did JWL notice how iadly I violated iMs Ttfle 
^hen Dr. OUapod ta&ed to foe of tiie Gorges 
iaad-gmnlB, «rtj Sfai. P^iexfen'ssl I got Tery 
ksMy puraahed, and I deserved wkat I got,*^ 
I beA feehavBd veiy iH. I fmgi^ Twt to hsnne 
knowa what Edmeston saM, or wfait Wifl Sack- 
imatadk «ttid. I ^ugbt to lia^e %een fistemng, and 
tatming about the (Lords fiiMing m Eqnily. Only 
{be ^BXt dajr i^T. OMapod left town withoirt cffTKng 
«iL me, he was m mnch cUspleased. And when, the 
next week, I was lecturing in Naguadavick, and 
the mayor of the town asked me a very simple 
question about the titles in the third range, I 
knew ^citlmi^ i»bout tit "ond was disgraced. So 
mundi hfc being rude, and n^t tittending to the 
man ^v^o iwas taUdi^ to me. 

SCowcdon^^tellone that ^ou cannot a^ttend to 

stupid people, or long-winded people, or vulgar 

^Bopte. '¥ou ^oeoL stttsnd to anybody, <£f ytm will 

remember who he is. How do you suppose thstt 

fioaoKoe B^eQChamiattenflB 4o 4^^ese old kdiee, und 


these shy boys ? "Why, he remembers that they 
are all of the blood-royaL To speak very seri- 
ously, he remembers whose children they are, — 
who is their Father. And that is worth remem- 
bering. It is not of much consequence, when you 
think of that, who made their clothes, or what 
sort of grammar they speak in. This rule of talk, 
indeed, leads to our next rule, which, as I said of 
the others, is as essential in conversation as it is 
in war, in business, in criticism, or in any other 
affairs of men. It is based on the principle of 
rightly honoring all men. For talk, it may be 
stated thus : — 

Never undekrate youb Interlocutor. 

In the conceit of early life, talking to a man of 
thrice my age, and of immense experience, I said, 
a little too flippantly, " Was it not the King of 
Wurtemberg whose people declined a constitution 
when he had oflTered it to them ? " 

" Yes," said my Mend, " the King told me the 
story himself." 

Observe what a rebuke this would have been to 

sow TO DO IT. 65 

me, had I presumed to tell him the fact which he 
knew ten times as accurately as I. I was just 
saved from sinking into the earth by having 
couched my statement in the form of a question. 
The truth is, that we are all dealing with angek 
unawares, and we had best make up our minds 
to that, early in our interviews. One of the first 
of preachers once laid down the law of preaching 
thus : " Preach as if you were preaching to arch- 
angels." This means, " Say the very best thing 
you know, and never condescend to your audi- 
ence." And I once heard Mr. William Hunt, who 
is one of the first artists, say to a class of teachers, 
" I shall not try to adapt myself to your various 
lines of teaching. I will tell you the best things 
I know, and you may make the adaptations." If 
you will boldly try the experiment of entering, 
with anybody you have to talk with, on the thing 
which at the moment interests you most, you will 
find out that other people's hearts are much like 
your heart, other people's experiences much like 
yours, and even, my dear Justin, that some other 
people know as much as you know. In short. 


never talk doWn to Jiieople ; but talk to them from 
yomr bert thotigM aJnd your best feeling, witbont 
trying for it on. tbe <me hand, but without reject- 
ing it on the other. 

You will be amazed, every time you try this ex- 
perimeiiLt, to fifid hoW often the num or the woman 
whkto you filrst haj^n to speak to iti the very 
p^^t^lbi 'Who eaZH tell you just what you want to 
know. My friend Ingham, Who is a working 
liai^ififtet in ^ large town, lijays that wh^ he 
comely from 'a house Where everyfliing is in 
a ttogle, knd all wrong, he knows no way of 
r^hfe^ things but by telling the whole story, 
Wrt^6«tt iSt^b names, in the next house he hap- 
peiffl to 'cail at in his afternoon waBc He says 
that if the Windermeres are all in teaife be- 
cause little Polly lost their grandmother^s min- 
iature when she Was out picking blueberries, and 
if he tells of Iheir losis at this Ashteroths' where he 
calls next, it Will be sure that thie daughter of the 
gardener df "ttife Ashteroths Will have found the 
picture of tl* Windermeres. Bemember what I 
l»ve 1»ught you, -^^^fliat tjonversation is the provi- 

WOiW TO DO IT. 67 

drntial arttfig^Nnent fot tiie i^litif of ignofaflce. 
Onty, as Ia all Btedicme, tiiie patient most admit 
tiiat 1m IB m, ojf h» can never be eured. It is 
only ia " Patwiwge," — which I am so soupy yo«i 
boys aod girib wiB not lead, — and in other pocwer 
ficrvete, that the leech cu^es, at a distance^ pati^ts 
irtio say they need no physician. Knd out yiDur 
igiM>¥a(fiee, ^e/t; admit it ftankly, seoond; be 
iMdy to lecognije with fme honor the next man 
yon meet, third ; wd then, presto ! — afthongh it 
were needed that the floor of the parlor sho^ 
&pm, and a little black-bearded Merlin be shot 
tip like Jack in a box, as you saw in Hnmpty- 
IDompty, — the right petson, who knowe the rig^ 
ttdng, wiS appear, and yoetr %noiaiice wiD be 

' What happened to me last week when I was 
^ying to ftotd &e Histoty of Taskee Doodle? 
Did it eome to me withont my asMng f 9f ot a 
bit of it Kothmg that was trufe eame withont 
my asking. Without my adking, there came that 
itoff you saw in the newspapers, which said 
¥ai&ie Doodle was « l^aais^ ak. That was 


not true. This was the way I found out what 
was true. I confessed my ignorance; and, as 
Lewis at Bellombre said of that ill-mannered 
Power, I had a great deal to confess. What I 
knew was, that in "American Anecdotes" an 
anonymous writer said a friend of his had seen 
the air among some Eoundhead songs in the col- 
lection of a friend of his at Cheltenham, and that 
this air was the basis of Yankee Doodle. What 
was more, there was the old air printed. But 
then that story was good for nothing till you could 
prove it. A Methodist minister came to Jeremiah 
Mason, and said, " I have seen an angel from 
heaven who told me that your client was innocent" 
'' Yes," said Mr. Mason, " and did he tell you how 
to prove it?" Unfortunately, in the dear old 
''American Anecdotes," there was not the name 
of any person, fix)m one cover to the other, who 
would be responsible for one syllable of its charm- 
ing stories. So there I was I And I went through 
library after library looking for that Soundhead 
song, and I could not find it. But when the time 
came that it was necessary I should know, I con- 

HOW TO DO rr. 69 

fessed ignorance. Well^ after that^ the first man I 
spoke to said, ''Ko,I don't know anything about it. 
It is not in my line. But our old friend Watson 
knew something about it, or said he did." " Who 
is Watson? " said I. '* 0, he 's dead ten years ago. 
But there 's a letter by him in the Historical 
Proceedings, which tells what he knew." So, 
indeed, there was a letter by Watson. Oddly 
enough it left out all that was of direct importance ; 
but it left in this statement, that he, an authen- 
tic person, wrote the dear old " American Anec- 
dote" story. That was something. So then I 
gratefully confessed ignorance again, and again, 
and again. And I have many friends, so that 
there were many brave men, and many fair 
women, who were extending the various tentacula 
of their feeling processes into the different realms 
of the known and the unknown, to find that lost 
scrap of a Boundhead song for me. And so, at 
last, it was a girl — as old, say, as the youngest 
who will struggle as far as this page in the 
Cleveland High School — who said, " Why, there 
is something about it in that funny English book. 

60 BOW TO DO 17. 

' Gleamngs fiOr tiM» Cw^us/ I found in the Boston 
Lilnary/' And give ^laugh, in on article perfectly 
wotthleaa in itdelf^ there were the two words 
which named the printed coUectioa of music 
which the other people had forgotten to nan^ 
These three books were eaek useless alone; but, 
when brought together^ they established a £Act 
It took tkcee people in talk to bring the three 
books together. And if I had been such a fool 
that I could not confess ignorance, or such 
another fool aa to have distrusted the people I 
met with, I should never have had the pleasure 
of m^r discovery. 

Kow 1' must not go into any more such stories 
as this, because you will say I am vic^ating tiie 
sixth great role of talk, whidi is 

Be Short. 

And,, besides, you nmst koow thai ''they say" 
(whoever Ikey may be) that "young folks" like 
you skip such expkna^ns^ a^ htErry on to tiie 
stoxj^ I do' not beiieve % word of that^ but I 

HOW TO DO rr. 61 

I kBdw die Saint We wt31 caQ ber Agatha. I 
nsmd to think she could be painted for Mary 
Mother^ her face is so passionless and pure and 
good. I used to want to make her wrap a bhie 
cloth round her head^ as if she were in a pickire I 
have a print oj^ and then, if we could only find 
^ painter who was as pure and good as she, she 
should be painted as Mary Mother. Wdl, this 
sweet Saint has done lovelj things in life, and 
will do mote, till she dies. And the people she 
deals with do many more than she. For her truth 
and g^ftteness and loveliness pass into them, and 
iMpire tib^n, and then, with the li^t and life 
they gain frc^aa her, th^ can do what, with her 
B^i and life, she eaniK)t do. Vc^ she herself, like 
fiE of us, has her liinitalicaid. And I suppose tl^ 
on^ reascm why, with such ssrenity and energy 
aind kxng-safireiiog and unselfishness as hers, she 
does not sucked better in her own person is thai 
she does not know how to ''be i^ort." We cannot 
aU be (XT do aU things. First boy in Latin, you 
ffifty tanuislate that sentence back into Latin, and 
(Me bow mudir better it SMnda th^re thazk in Eng- 
lish. Then send your version to the Letter-Box. 


For instance^ it may be Agatha's duty to come 
and tell me that — what shall we have it ? — say 
that dimier is ready. Now really the best way 
but one to say that is, " Dinner is ready, sir." The 
best way is, " Dinner, sir " ; for this age, observe, 
loves to omit the verb. Let it. But really if St 
Agatha, of whom I speak, — the second of that 
name, and of the Protestant, not the Boman Can- 
on, — had this to say, she would say : " I am so 
glad to see you ! I do not want to take your time, 
I am sure, you have so many things to do, and 
you are so good to everybody, but I knew you 
would let me tell you this. I was coming up 
stairs, and I saw your cook, Florence, you know. 
I always knew her ; she used to live at Mrs. era- 
dock's before she started on her journey ; and her 
sister lived with that friend of mine that I visited 
the summer Willie was so sick with the mumps, 
and she was so kind to him. She was a beautiful 
woman ; her husband would be away aU the day, 
and, when he came home, she would have a piece 
of mince-pie for him, and his slippers warmed and 
in front of the fire for him; and, when he was in 


Cayenne, he died, and they brought his body home 
in a ship Frederic Marsters was the captain of. It 
was there that I met Florence's sister, — not so 
pretty as Florence, but I think a nice girL She is 
married now and lives at Ashland, and has two 
nice children, a boy and a girL They are all com- 
ing to see us at Thanksgiving. I was so glad to see 
that Florence was with you, and I did not know it 
when I came in, and when I met her in the entry 
I was very much surprised, and she saw I was 
coming in here, and she said, ' Please, will you tell 
him that dinner is ready ? ' " 

Now it is not simply, you see, that, while an 
announcement of that nature goes on, the mutton 
grows cold, your wife grows tired, the children 
grow cross, and that the subjugation of the world 
in general is set back, so far as you are aU con- 
cerned, a perceptible space of time on The Great 
Dial But the tale itself has a wearing and weary- 
ing perplexity about it. At the end you doubt if 
it is your dinner that is ready, or Fred Marsters's, 
or Florence's, or nobody's. Whether there is any 
real dinner, you doubt For want of a vigorous 

H HOW Ta DO n. 

iu»ninative case, finaolj gorenuBg the y«rb> wlietti^ 
er that verb is seen (x not^ or beeaufi^ tbl» firai 
nominative k masked and disguised behind olonds 
of drapeiy and other mbbish, the best oi stories^ 
thus told, loses all Hfe, interest, and power. 

Leave out then, residutely. First omit *^ Speskk" 
ing of hidesy" or " That reminds me of/' gs " What 
you say suggests," o^ ''Tou make me think of/' 
or any such introductions. Of course you teme^' 
loex what you are saying. Tou could not say il^ if 
you did not remember it It is to be hoped, too^ 
that you are thinking of what you are saying H 
you are not, you will not help the matter Igr say- 
ing you are, no matt^ if the c(HiTersati<m do have 
firm and sharp edges. CS<mveEBation is noi an 
essay. It has a right to many latge letters, and 
many new paragraplHk That is what niakes it so 
much more interestii^ than long; close paiagnq^ 
like this, which the printetrs hate as much as I d(^ 
and which they caU " solid matUr,'* as if to indi- 
cate that, in {^portion, such paragraphs are ap4 
to lack the light, ethereal spirit of all life. 

SeciHkU iA coayfrsatikon, you neei not gif» 


tlioTities, if it 1)6 asly ^ear that yon aie not pre* 
tendiiig origiimKty. Do ftot say, as dear Ptoiber- 
ton used to, " I have a book at home, which I 
"bought at the sde (rf By Ws books, in which there 
is an account of Parf^s fir^ l^age, and an expla^ 
nation oi th^ red efioW, w*fiL©h shows <iat the red 
adoW is,** &c., &t,, *d. fuBtfeM of this say, « Eed 
snow is," &c., &e., &c. Nobody will «unk you we 
producilig ttns a^ a discov^ of yoot oWn. When 
the Authority is asked 4br, Ubibte wiU Tbe 4 fit time 
ft/t you %o teE 

Itird, nfever ej^lain, unless for exteeme neces- 
sfty, who people are. Let them come in as they 
do att the plaj^, when you have no play-bilL If 
what you say is ofliCTWise inftelligible, the hearers 
will find out, 'if 4t is necessary, as perhaps it may 
not be. <3o back, if you please, to my aceount of 
-Agatha, and see how mtibh eoon^ we i*hould all 
have come to dintior if she had not tried to e:i£plain 
about all these people. The truth is, you cannot 
ei^lain "about ^em. You -are led in farther and 
farther. Prank wants to fi*iy, " Greorge went to 
the St€»^tic^ y^st^Dday.'' Instead of that he 


says, "A fellow at our school named George, a 
brother of Tom Tileston who goes to the Dwight, 
and is in Miss Somerby's room, — not the Miss 
Somerby that has the class in the Sunday school, 

— she *s at the Brimmer School, — ^^but her sister," 

— and already poor Frank is far from George, and 
far from the Stereopticon, and, as I observe, is 
wandering farther and farther. He began with 
George, but, George having suggested Tom and 
Miss Somerby, by the same law of thought each 
of them would have suggested two others. Poor 
Frank, who was quite master of his one theme, 
George, finds unawares that he is dealing with 
two, gets flurried, but plunges on, only to find, in 
his remembering, that these two have doubled into 
four, and then, conscious that in an instant they 
will be eight, and, which is worse, eight themes or 
subjects on which he is not prepared to speak at 
all, probably wishes he had never begun. It is 
certain that eveiy one else wishes it, whether he 
does or not. You need not explain. People of 
sense understand something. 

Do you remember the illustration of repartee in 
Miss Edgeworth ? It is this : — 


Mr. Pope, who was crooked and cross, was talk- 
ing with a young officer. The officer said he 
thought that in a certain sentence an interroga- 
tion-mark was needed. 

"Do you know what an interrogation-mark 
is?" snarled out the crooked, cross little man. 

"It is a crooked little thing that asks ques- 
tions," said the young man. 

And he shut up Mr. Pope for that day. 

But you can see that he would not have shut 
up Mr. Pope at all if he had had to introduce his 
answer and explain it from point to point. If he 
had said, " Do you really suppose I do not know ? 
Why, really, as long ago as when I was at the 
Charter House School, old William Watrous, who 
was master there then, — he had been at the 
school himself, when he and Ezekiel Cheever were 
boys, — told me that a point of interrogation was 
a little crooked thing that asks questions." 

The repartee would have lost a good deal of 
its force, if this unknown yoimg officer had not 
learned, 1, not to introduce his remarks ; 2, not to 
give authorities ; and 3, not to explain who people 

66 HOW ^0 !)0 It. 

aSPb, Th^s^ t0t^, p<»li«ps, <enot^ ^iftatit»s m lie- 
tail, thcmgh <^7 4o not !b the VsBialt deacribe all 
1^ dangers thfi^ matenaA yoti. Speaking mote 
generally, avoid parentheses «s yea 'rouM poison; 
cfflid ifioiye ^&Dfft^j yet, fts I cfaid fit £ii^. Be 

Ttese Mx raleto sm^ 'stt£^ for the present 
Observe, I am only spea'king of uw^ods. I take 
it for gralrted ^ttt you are not spfteSPd, Ittttefiil, or 
lrt(ied otl^iwifie. I ^do not tdl you, ftierrfore, 
^V€ar to tfHk soandal, because I hope you do mot 
need to ieiBtm ^^, I do iiot teH ytm nev^r tol)e 
sly, 43i» naeto, in tfeflk. H youiieed to be tiSd that, 
ycm 9»e ^eycmd Budi li^aiDing^s ^we^can give Jiere. 
Study m^, and practise daaSy tliese mx Tules, tend 
then you 'wHl be prepared for our next instrac- 
tim&, — which ipe<iuire attention to these Tuks, as 
aU i^ does,— *• when ^we shall -eonsidear 





TT is supposed that you have learned your 
"■" letters, and bow to make them. It is sup- 
posed that you have ynitten the school copies, 

down to 
)uinM CMiu^ l^^tAaed rntem^ ^i^e^io/ M^oa&iifi^. 

It is supposed that you can ndnd your p's 
and q's, and, as Harriet Byron said of Clu^rlesi 
Grandiscm, in the youiance which your grqat- 
grandmother knew by heart, "that you can spell 
welL" Observe the advance of the times, dear 
Stephen. That a gentleman should spell well 
was the only literary requisition which the aci» 
complished lady of hi^ love xnadf» upo» bim i^ 

70 HOW TO DO rr. 

Hundred years ago. And you, if you go to Mrs. 
Vandermeyer's party to-night, will be asked by 
the fair Marcia, what is your opinion as to ,the 
origin of the Myth of Ceres ! 

These things are supposed. It is also sup- 
posed that you have, at heart and in practice, 
the essential rules which have been unfolded in 
Chapters II. and III. As has been akeady said, 
these are as necessary in one duty of life as 
in another, — in writing a President's message as 
in finding your way by a spotted trail, from 
Albany to TamwortL 

These things being supposed, we will now 
consider the special needs for writing, as a gen- 
tleman writes, or a lady, in the English language, 
which is, fortunately for us, the best language 
of them all. 

I will tell you, first, the first lesson I learned 
about it; for it was the best, and was central 
My first undertaking of importance in this line 
was made when I was seven years old. There 
was a new theatre, and a prize of a hundred 
dollars was offered for an ode to be recited at 


the opening, — or perhaps it was only at the 
opening of the season. Our school was hard 
by the theatre, and as we boys were generally 
short of spending-money, we conceived the idea 
of competing for this prize. You can see that 
a hundred dollars would have gone a good way 
in barley-candy and blood-alleys, — which last 
are things unknown, perhaps, to Young America 
to-day. So we resolutely addressed ^ourselves 
to, writing for the ode. I was soon snagged, 
and found the difl&culties greater than I had 
thought. I consulted one who has through life 
been Nestor and Mentor to me, — (Second class 
in Greek, — Wilkins, who was Nestor? — Eight; 
go up. Third class in French, — Miss Clara, who 
was Mentor? — Eight; sit down), — and he re- 
plied by this remark, which I beg you to ponder 
inwardly, and always act upon: — 

"Edward," said he, "whenever I am going to 
write anything, I find it best to think first what 
I am going to say." 

In the instruction thus conveyed is a lesson 
which nine writers out of ten have never learned. 


Even the people wha write leading articles for 
the newspapers do , naif the time, know what 
they are going to say when they begin. And 
I have heard many a sermon which was evi- 
dently written by a man who, when he began, 
only knew what his first "head" was to be. 
The sermon was a sort of riddle to himself, 
when he started, and he was curious as to, how 
it would come out. I remember a very worthy 
gentleman who sometimes spoke to the Sunday 
pchool when I was a boy. He would begin- 
without the slightest idea of what he was going 
to say, but he was sure that the end of the first 
sentence would help him to the second. This 
is an example. 

"My dear young friends, I do not know that 
I have anything to say to you, but I am very 
much obliged to your teachers for asking me 
to address you this beautiful morning. — The 
morning is so beautiful after the refreshment 
of the night, that as I walked to church, and 
looked around and breathed the fresh air, I felt 
more than ever what a privilege it is tp live in 


SO wonderful a world. — For the world, dear chil- 
dren, has been all contrivew 1 set in order for 
US by a Power so much higher than our own, that 
we might enjoy our own lives, and live for the hap- 
piness and good of our brothers and our sisters. — 
Our brothers and our sisters they are indeed, though 
some of them are in distant lands, and beneath 
other skies, and parted from us by the broad oceans. 
— These oceans, indeed, do not so much divide 
the world as they unite it. They make it one. 
The winds which blow over them, and the cur- 
rents which move their waters, — all are ruled 
by a higher law, that they may contribute to 
commerce and to the good of man. — And man, 
my dear children," &c., &c., &c. 

You see there is no end to it. It is a sort 
of capping verses with yourself, where you take 
up the last word, or the last idea of one sentence, 
and begin the next with it, quite indiflferent where 
you come out, if you only "occupy the time" 
that is appointed. It is very easy for you, but, 
my dear friends, it is very hard for those who 
read and who listen 1 


The vice goes so far, indeed^ that you may divide 
literature into two great classes of books. The 
smaller class of the two consists of the books 
written by people who had something to say. 
They had in life learned something, or seen some- 
things or done something, which they really 
wanted and needed to tell to other people. They 
told it. And their writings make, perhaps, a twen- 
tieth part of the printed literature of the world. 
It is the part which contains all that is worth 
reading. The other nineteen-twentieths make up 
the other class. The people have written just as 
you wrote at school when Miss Winstanley told 
you to bring in your compositions on *' Duty Per- 
formed." You had very little to say about " Duty 
Performed.'* But Miss Winstanley expected three 
pages. And she got them, — such as they were. 

Our first rule is, then» 

Know what you want to sat. 

The second rule is. 

Say it. 

That is, do not begin by saying something else. 

HOW TO DO rr. 75 

which you ihink will lead up to what you want to 
s£iy. I remember, when they tried to teach me to 
sing, they told me to "think of eight and sing 
seven." That may be a very good rule for singing, 
but it is not a good rule for talking, or writing, or 
any of the other things that I have to do. I ad- 
vise you to say the thing you want to say* Wlien 
I began to preach, another of my Nestors said to 
me, "Edward, I give you one piece of advice. 
When you have written your sermon, leave off the 
introduction and leave oflT the conclusion. The in- 
troduction seems to me always written to show 
that the minister can preach two sermons on one 
text Leave that off, then, and it will do for an- 
other Sunday. The (inclusion is written 'to apply 
to the' congregation the doctrine of the sermon. 
But, if your hearers are such fools that they can- 
not apply the doctrine to themselves, nothing you 
can say will help them." In this advice was much 
wisdom. It consists, ypu see, in advising to begin 
at the beginning, and to stop when you have dona 
Thirdly, and always. 

Use your own Language. 


I mean the language you are accustomed to use in 
daily life. David did much better with his sling 
than he would have done with Saul's sword and 
spear. And Hatty - Fielding told me, only last 
week, that she was very sorry she wore her cous- 
in's pretty brooch to an evening dance, though 
Fanny had really forced it on her. Hatty said, 
like a sensible girl as she is, that it made her ner- 
vous all the time. She felt as if she were sailing 
under false colors. If your every-day language is 
not fit for a letter or for print, it is not fit for talk. 
And if, by any series of joking or fun, at school or 
at home, you have got into the habit of using 
slang in talk, which is not fit for print, why, the 
sooner fon get out of it the better. Eemember 
that the very highest compliment paid to anything 
printed is paid when a person, hearing it read 
aloud, thinks it is the remark of the reader made 
in conversation. Both writer and reader then re- 
ceive the highest possible praise. 

It is sad enough to see how often this rule is 
violated. There are fashions of writing. Mr. 
Dickens, in his wonderful use of exaggerated Ian- 


guage, introduced one. And now you can hardly 
read the court report in a village paper but you 
find that the ill-bred boy who makes up what he 
calls its "locals" thinks it is funny to write in 
such a style as this: — 

"An unfortunate individual who answered to 
the somewhat well-worn sobriquet of Jones, and 
appeared to have been trying some experiments aa 
to the comparative density of his own skull and 
the materials of the sidewalk, made an involuntary 
appearance before Mr. Justice Smith." 

Now the little fool who writes this does not 
think of imitating Dickens. He is only imitating 
OQother fool, who was imitating another, who waB 
imitating another, — who, through a score of such 
imitations, got the idea of this burlesque exaggera- 
tion from some of Mr. Dickens's earlier writings 
of thirty years ago. It was very funny when Mr. 
Dickens originated it. And almost always, when 
he used it, it was very funny. But it is not in the 
least funny when these other people use it, to 
whom it is not natural, and to whom it does 
not come easily. Just as this boy says "sobri- 


queV' without knowing at all what the woid 
means^ merely because he has read it in anoth* 
er newspaper, everybody, in this Vein, gets en- 
trapped into using words with the wrong senses, 
in the wrong places, and making himself ridicu- 

Now it happens, by good luck, that I have, on 
the table here, a pretty file of eleven compositicms^ 
which Miss Winstanley has sent me, which the 
girls in her first class wrote, on the subject I have 
already named. The whole subject, as she gave it 
out, was, " Duty performed is a Eainbow in the 
SouL" I think, myself, that the sulgect was a 
hard one, and that Miss Winstanley would have 
done better had she given them a choice firom 
two familiar subjects, of which they had lately 
seen something or recul something. When young 
people have to do a thing, it always helps them to 
give them a choice between two ways of doing it 
However, Miss Winstanley gave them this subject 
It made a good deal of growling in the school, but, 
when the time came, of course the girls buckled 
down to the work, and, as I said before, the three 

HOW to DO IT. 


pages wrote themselves, or were written somehow 
or other. 

Now I am not going to inflict on you all these 
eleven compositions. But there are three of them 
which, as it happens, illustrate quite distinctly the 
three errors against which I have been warning 
you. I will copy a little scrap from each of them. 
First, here is Pauline's. She wrote without any 
idea, when she began, of what she was going to 

" Duty performed is a Rainbow in the SouL 

"A great many people ask the question, 'What 
is duty ? ' and there has been a great deal written 
upon the subject, and many opinions have been 
expressed in a variety of ways. People have differ- 
ent ideas upon it, and some of them think one 
thing and some another. And some have very 
strong views, and very decided about it. But 
these are not always to be the most admired, for 
often those who are so loud about a thing are not 
the ones who know the most upon a subject 
Yet it is aU very important, and many things 
should be done ; and, when they are done, we are 
all embowered in ecstasy." 


That is enough of poor Pauline's. And, to tell 
the truth, she was as much ashamed when she 
had come out to this " ecstasy," in first writing 
what she called " the plaguy thing," as she is now 
she reads it from the print. But she began that 
sentence, just as she began the whole, with no 
idea how it was to end. Then she got aground. 
She had said, "it is all very important"; and 
she did not know that it was better to stop there, 
if she had nothing else to say, so, after waiting a 
good while, knowing that they must all go to bed 
at nine, she added, " and many things should be 
done." Even then, she did not see that the best 
thing she could do was to put a full stop to the 
sentence. She watched the other girls, who were 
going weU down their second pages, whHe she had 
not turned the leaf, and so, in real agony, she 
added this absurd "when they are done, we are 
all embowered in ecstasy." The next morning 
they had to copy the " compositions." She knew 
what stuff this was, just as well as you and I 
do, but it took up twenty good lines, and she 
could not afford, she thought^ to leave it out 


Indeed^ I am sorry to say, none of her "com- 
position" was any better. She did not kaow 
what ehe wanted to say, when she had done, any 
better than when she began. 

Pauline is the same Pauline who wanted to 
draw in monochromatic drawing. 

Here is the beginning of Sybil's. She is the 
girl who refused the sponge-cake when Dr. Throop 
offered it to her. She had an idea that an intro- 
duction helped along, — emd this is her introduc- 

^'Duty performed is a Rairibow in the Sovl. 

" I went out at sunset to consider this subject, 
and beheld how the departing orb was scattering 
his beams over the mountains. Every blade of 
grass was gathering in some rays of beauty, 
every tree was glittering in the majesty of part- 
ing day. 

"I said, 'What is life?— What is duiy?' I 
saw the world folding itself up to rest. The little 
flowers, the tired sheep, were turning to their fold. 
So the sun went down. He had done his duty, 
along with the rest.** 



And so we got rotmd to Thity perfonned/* 
and, the introduction well over, like the tuning 
of an orchestra, the business of the piece b^aa 
That little slip about the flowers going into their 
folds was one which Sybil afterwards defended. 
She said it meant that they folded themselves up. 
But it was an oversight when she wrote it ; she 
forgot tiie flowers, and was thinking of the 

Now I think you will all agree with me that 
the whole composition would have been better 
without this introduction. 

Sarah Clavers had a genuine idea, which she 
had explained to the other girls much in this way. 
" I know what Miss Winstanley means. She 
means this. When you have had a real hard 
time to do what you know you ought to do, when 
you have made a good deal of fuss about it, — 
as We all did the day we had to go over to Mr. 
Ingham's and beg pardon for disturbing the Sim- 
day school, — you are so glad it id done, that 
everything seems nice and quiet and peaceful, — 


just as when a thunder-storm is really over, only 
just a few drops falling, there comes a nice still 
minute or two with a rainhow across the sky. 
That 's what Miss Winstanley means, and that 's 
what I am going to say." 

Now really, if Sarah had said that, without 
making the sentence breathlessly long, it would 
have been a very decent "composition" for such 
a subject* But when poor Sarah got her paper 
before her, she made two mistakes. First, she 
thought her school-girl talk was not good enough 
to be written down. And, second, she knew that 
long words took up more room than short; so, 
to fill up her three pages, she translated her little 
words into the largest she could think o£ It was 
just as Dr. Schweigenthal, when he wanted to 
say "Jesus was going to Jerusalem," said, " The 
Founder of our religion was proceeding to the 
metropolis of his country." That took three 
times as much room and time, you see. So Sarah 
translated her English into the language of the 
Talkee-talkees ; thus: — 


^'Duty performed is a Rairibow in the Soul, 

"It is frequently observed, that the complete 
discharge of the obligations pressing upon us as 
moral agents is attended with conflict and diffi- 
culty. Frequently, therefore, we address our- 
selves to the dischaige of these obUgations with 
some measure of resistance, perhaps with ob- 
stinacy, and I may add, indeed, with unwilling- 
ness. I wish I could persuade myself that our 
teacher had forgotten" (Sarah looked on this as 
a masterpiece, — a good line of print, which says, 
as you see, really nothing) ^' the afternoon which 
was so mortifying to all who were concerned, 
when her appeal to our better selves, and to our 
educated consciousness of what was due to a 
clergyman, and to the institutions of religion, 
made it necessary for several of the young ladies 
to cross to the village," (Sarah wished she could 
have said metropolis,) " and obtain an interview 
with the Rev. Mr. Ingham." 

And so the composition goes on. Four full 
pages there are; but you see how they were 
gained, — by a vicious style, wholly false to a 
frank-spoken girl like Sarah. She expanded 


into what fills sixteen lines on this page what^ 
as she expressed it in conversation, fills only 

I hope you all see how one of these faults 
brings on another. Such is the way with aU 
faults ; they hunt in couples, or often, indeed, in 
larger company. The moment you leave the 
simple wish to say upon paper the thing you have 
thought, you are given over to all these tempta- 
tions, to write things which, if any one else wrote 
them, you would say were absurd, as you say 
these school-girls' " compositions " are. Here is a 
good rule of the real "Nestor" of our time. He 
is a great preacher ; and one day he was speaking 
of the advantage of sometimes preaching an old 
sermon a second time. "You can change the 
arrangement," he said. " You can fill in any 
point in the argument, where you see it is not 
as strong as you proposed. You can add an 
illustration, if your statement is difficult to under- 
stand. Above aU, you can 

*' Leave out all the Finb Passages." 


I put that in email capitals, for one of our rules. > 
For, in nineteen cases out of twenty, the Fine 
Passage that you are so pleased with, when you 
first write it, is b^ter out of sight than in. Re- 
member Whately's great maxim, " Nobody knows 
what good things you leave out." 

Indeed, to the older of the young friends who 
favor me by reading these pages I can give no 
better advice, by the way, than tliat they read 
"Whatel/s Rhetoric." Read ten pages k day, 
then turn back, and read them carefully again, 
before you put the book by. You will find it a 
very pleasant book, and it will give you a great 
many hints for clear and simple expression, which 
you are not so likely to find in any other way I 

Most of you know th6 difterence between Saxon 
words and Latin words in the English language. 
You know there were once two languages in Eng^ 
land, — the Norman French, which William the 
Conqueror and his men brought in, and the Saxon 
of the people who were conquered at that time. 
The Norman French WAA largely oomposed of 


words of Latin origin. The English language 
has been made np of the slow mixture of these 
two; but the real stock, out of which this deli- 
cious soup is made, is the Saxon, — the Norman 
French should only add the flavor. In some writ- 
ing, it is often necessary to use the words of 
Latin origio* Thus, in most scientific writing, the 
Latiu words more nicely express the details of the 
meaning needed. But, to use the Latin word 
where you have a good Saxon one is still what 
it was in the times of Wamba and of Cedric, — it 
is to pretend^ you are one of the conquering 
nobility, when, in fact, you are one of the free 
people, who speak, and should be proud to speak, 
not the French, but the English tongue. To those 
of you who have even a slight knowledge of 
French or Latin it will be very good fun, and a 
very good exercise, to translate, in some thor- 
oughly bad author, his Latin words into English. 
To younger writers, or to those who know only 
English, this may seem too hard a task. It will 
be doing much the same thing, if they will try 
translating from long wordfl into short ones. 

88 . HOW TO DO IT. 

Here is a piece of weak English. It is not bad 
in other regards, but simply weak 

" Entertaining unlimited confidence in your in- 
telligent and patriotic devotion to the public in- 
terest, and being conscious of no motives on my 
part which are not inseparable from the honor and 
advancement of my country, I hope it may be my 
privilege to deserve and secure, not only your cor- 
dial co-operation in great public measures, but 
also those relations of mutual confidence and re- 
gard which it is always so desirable to cultivate 
between members of co-ordinate branches of the 
government." * 

Take that for an exercise in translating into 
shorter words. Strike out the unnecessary words, 
and see if it does not come out stronger. The 
same passage will serve also as an exercise as to 
the use of Latin and Saxon words. Dr. Johnson 
is generally quoted as the English author who 
uses most Latin words. He uses, I think, ten 
in a hundred. But our Congressmen far exceed 

* From Mr. Franklin Pierce's first message to Congreaa as 
President of the United States. 


hinL This sentence uses Latin words at the rate 
of thirty-five in a hundred. Try a good many ex- 
periments in translating from long to shorty and 
you will be sure that, when you haye a fair choice 
between two words, 

A SHORT Word is better than a long one. 

For instance, I think this sentence would have 
been better if it had been couched in thirty-six 
words instead of eighty-one. I think we should 
have lost nothing of the author's meaning if he 
had said, " I have full trust in you. I am sure 
that I seek only the honor and advance of the 
country. I hope, therefore, that I may earn your 
respect and regard, while we heartily work to- 

I am fond of telling the story of the words 
which a distinguished friend of mine used in 
accepting a hard post of duty. He said: — 

"I do not think I am fit for this place. But 
my friends say I am, and I trust them. I shall 
take the place, and, when I am in it, I shall do as 
well as I can." 


It is a very grand sentence. Observe that it 
has not one word which is more than one syllable. 
As it happens, also, every word is Saxon, — there 
is not one spurt of Latin. Yet this was a learned 
man, who, if he chose, could have said the whole 
in Latin. But he was one American gentleman 
talking to another American gentleman, and there- 
fore he chose to use the tongue to which they both 
were born. 

We have not Space to go into the theory of 
these rules^ as far as I should like to. But you 
see the force which a short word has, if you can 
use it, instead of a long one. If you want to say 
"hush," "hush" is a much better word than 
the French '^ taisez-votis," If you want to say 
"halt," "halt" is much better than the French 
" arretez^ottsJ' The French have, in f£U3t, bor- 
rowed "Judte" from us or from the German, for 
their tactics. For the same reason, you want to 
prune out the unnecessary words from your sen- 
tences, and even the classes of words which seem 
put in to fill up. If, for instance, you can express 
your idea without an adjective, your sentence i«J 


stronger and more manly. It is better to say '' a 
saint " than *' a saintly man." It is better to say 
" This is the truth " than " This is the truthful re- 
sult." Of course an adjective may be absolutely 
necessary. But you may oftw detect extempore 
speakers in piling in adjectives, because they have 
not yet hit on the right noun. In writing, ^ins is 
not to be excused. " You have all the time there 
is," when you write, and you do better to sink a 
minute in thinking for one right word, than to put in 
two in its place, — because you can do so without 
loss of time. I hope every school*girl knows, 
what I am sure every school-boy knows, Sheri- 
dan's saying, that '' Easy writing is hard reading." 
In general, as I said before, oth^ things being 

"The fewer Words, the better," 

'^ as it seems to me." ^ As it seems to me " is the 
quiet way in which Nestor states things. Would 
we were all as careful ! 

There is one adverb or acljective which it is 
almost always safe to leave out in America. It 


is the word " very/* I learned that from one of 
the masters of English style. "Strike out your 
'verys/" said he to me, when I was yotmg. 
I wish I had done so oftener than I have. 

For myself, I Uke short sentences. This is, 
perhaps, because I have read a good deal of 
modem French, and I think the French gain in 
clearness by the shortness of their sentences. 
But there are great masters of style, — great 
enough to handle long sentences well,^ — and these 
men would not agree with me. But I will teU 
you this, that if you have a sentence which you 
do not like, the best experiment to try on it is the 
experiment Medea tried on the old goat, when she 
wanted to make him over : — 

Cut it to Pieces. 

What shall I take for illustration? You will 
be more interested in one of these school-girls* 
themes than in an old Congress speech I have 
here marked for copying. Here is the first draft 
of Laura Walter*s composition, which happens to 
be tied up in the same red ribbon with the finished 


exercises. I will copy a piece of that, and then 
you shall see, from the corrected "composition," 
what came of it, when she cut it to pieces, and 
applied the other rules which we have been 


" Duty performed is a Bairibow in the SoiU, 

"I cannot conceive, and therefore I cannot 
attempt adequately to consider, the full probable 
meaning of the metaphorical expression with which 
the present 'subject' concludes, — nor do I sup- 
pose it is absolutely necessary that I should do so, 
for expressing the various impressions which I 
have formed on the subject taken as a whole, 
which have occurred to me in such careful med- 
itation as I have been able to give to it, — in 
natural connection with an affecting little incident, 
which I will now, so far as my limited space will 
permit, proceed, however inadequately, to describe. 

"My dear little brother Frankie — as sweet a 
little fellow as ever plagued his sister's life out, 
or troubled the kindest of mothers in her daily 
duties — was one day returning from school, when 
he met my father hurrying from his ofl&ce, and 


was directed by him to proceed as quickly as 
was possible to the post-office, and make inquiry 
there for a letiter of a good deal of importance 
which he had reason to expect, or at the least to 
hope for, by the New York mail."/ 

Laura had come as far as this esirly in the week, 
when bedtime came. The next day she read it 
all, and saw it was sad stuff, and sh,a frankly asked 
herself why. The answer was, that she had really 
been trying to spin out three pages* " Now," said 
Laura to herself, "that is not fair." And she 
finished the piece in a very different way, as you 
shall see. Then she went back over this introduc- > 
tion, and struck out the fine passages. Then she 
struck out the long words, and put in short ones. 
Then she saw she could do better yet, — and she 
cut that long introductory sentence to pieces. 
Then she saw that none of it was strictly ne- 
cessary, if she only explained why she gave up 
the rainbow part. And, after all these reductions, 
the first part of the essay which I have copied was 
cut down and changed so that it read thus : — 


** Duty ferforoied is a Rainbow in tJie Soul, 

" I do not know what is meant by a Eainbow in 

the SouL" 

Then Laura went on thus : — 

"I will try to tell a story of duty performed. 
My brother Frank was sent to the post-office 
for a letter. When he came there, the poor 
child found a big dog at the door of the office, 
and was afraid to go in. It was just the dead 
part of the day in a country village, when even 
the shops are locked up for an hour, and Frank, 
who is very shy, saw no one whom he could call 
upon. He tried to make Miss Evarts, the post- 
office clerk, hfear ; but she was in the back of the 
office. Frank was frightened, but he meant to do 
his duty. So he crossed the bridge, walked up to 
the butcher's shop in the other village, — which 
he knew was open, ^- spent two pennies for a bit 
of meat, and carried it back to tempt his enemy. 
He waved it in the air, called the dog, and threw 
it into the street. The dog was much more 
willing to eat the meat than to eat Frankie. He 
left his post. Frank went in and tapped on the 
glass, and Miss Evarts came and gave him the 
letter. Frank came home in triumph, and papa 
said it was a finer piece of duty performed than 





the celebrated sacrifice of Casablanca's would 
have been, had it happened that Casablanca ever 
made it." 

That is Tjne shortest of these "compositions." 
It is much the best. Miss Winstanley took the 
occasion to tell the girls, that, other things being 
equal, a short " composition " is better than a long 
one. A short ''composition" which shows thought 
and care, is much better than a long one which 
" writes itseK." 

I dislike the word " composition," but I use it, 
because it is familiar. I think "essay" or "piece" 
or even " theme " a better word. 

Will you go over Laura's story and see where it 
could be shortened, and what Latin words could 
be changed for better Saxon ones ? 

Will you take care, in writing yourself, never to 
say " commence " or " presume " ? 

In the next chapter we will ask each other 





I. — The Choice of Books, 

■'VT'OU are not to expect any stories this time. 
-■- There will be very few words about Stephen, 
or Sybil, or Sarah. My business now is rather to 
answer, as well as I can, such questions as youngs 
people ask who are beginning to have their 
time at their own command, and can make their 
own selection of the books they are to read. I 
have before me, as I write, a handful of letters 
which have been written to the office of "The 
Young Folks," asking such questions. And all 
my intelligent young friends are asking each other 
such questions, and so ask them of me every day. 
I shall answer these questions by laying down 
some general rules, just as I have done before 
but I shall try to put you into the way of choos- 
ing your own books, rather than choosing for you 
a long, defined list of them. 


I believe very thoroughly in courses of reading, 
because I believe in having one book lead to an- 
other. But, after the beginning, these courses for 
different persons will vary very much from each 
other. You all go out to a great picnic, and meet 
together in some pleasant place in the woods, and 
you put down the baskets there, and leave the 
pail with the ice in the shadiest place you can 
find, and cover it up with the blanket. Then you 
all set out in this great forest, which we call Lit- 
erature. But it is only a few of the party, who 
choose to start hand in hand along a gravel-path 
there is, which leads straight to the Burgesses' 
well, and probably those few enjoy less and gain 
less from the day's excursion than any of the rest 
The rest break up into different knots, and go 
some here and some there, as their occasion and* 
their genius call them. Some go after flowers7 
some after berries, some after butterflies; some 
knock the rocks to pieces, some get up where 
there is a fine view/some sit down and copy 
the stumps, some go into water, some make a fir^ 
some find a camp of Indians and learn how to 



make baskets. Then they all come back to the 
picnic in good spirits and with good appetites, 
each eager to tell the others what he has seen 
and heard, each having satisfied his own taste and 
genius, and each and all having made vastly more 
out of the day than if they had all held to the 
gravel-path and walked in column to the Bur- 
gesses' well and back again. 

This, you see, is a long parable for the purpose 
of making you remember that there are but few 
books which it is necessary for every intelligent 
boy and girl, man and woman, to have read. Of 
those few, I had as lief give the list here. 

First is the Bible, of which not only is an intel- 
ligent knowledge necessary for your healthy growth 
in religious life, but — which is of less conse- 
quence, indeed — it is as necessary for your toler- 
able understanding of the literature, or even sci- 
ence, of a world which for eighteen centuries has 
been under the steady iufluence of the Bible. 
Around the English version of it, as Mr. Marsh * 

* Marsh's Lectures on the English Language : very entertain- 
ing books. 

100 HOW TO DO IT. 

shows SO well, the English language of the last 
three centuries has revolved, as the earth revolves 
around the sun. He means, that although the 
language of one time differs from that of another, 
it is always at about the same distcmce from the 
language of King James's Bible. 

Second, every one ought to be quite well in- 
formed as to the history of the country in which 
he lives. AU of you should know the general 
history of the United States well. You should 
know the history of your own State in more 
detail, and of your own town in the most detail 
of alL 

Third, an American needs to have a clear 
knowledge of the general features of the history 
of England- 

Now it does not make so much difference how 
you compass this general historical knowledge, if, 
in its main features, you do compass it. When 
Mr. Lincoln went down to Norfolk to see the rebel 
commissioners, Mr. Hunter, on their side, cited, as 
a precedent for the action which he wanted the 
President to pursue, the negotiations between 

HOW TO DO IT. 101 

Charles the First and his Parliament. Mr. lin- 
coin's eyes twinkled, and he said, "Upon ques- 
tions of history I must refer you to Mr. Seward, 
for he is posted upon such things, and I do not pro- 
fess to be. My only distinct recollection of the 
matter is, that Charles lost his head." Now you 
see it is of no sort of consequence how Mr. Lin- 
coln got his thoroughly sound knowledge of the 
history of England, — in which, by the way, he 
was entirely at home, — and he had a perfect 
right to pay the compliment he did to Mr. Sew- 
ard; but it was of great importance to him that 
he should not be haunted with the fear that the 
other man did know, really, of some important 
piece of negotiation of which he was ignorant. It 
was important to him to know that, so that he 
might be sure that his joke was — as it was — 
exactly the fitting answer. 

Fourth, it is necessary that every intelligent 
American or Englishman should have read care- 
fully most of Shakespeare's plays. Most people 
would have named them before the history, but I 
do not. I do not care, however, how early you 

102 HOW TO DO IT. 

read them in life, and, as we shall see, they will 
be among your best guides for the history of 

Lastly, it is a disgrace to read even the news- 
paper, without knowing where the places are 
which are spoken of. You need, therefore, the 
very best atlas you can provide yourself with. 
The atlas you had when you studied geography 
at school is better than none. But if you can 
compass any more precise and full, so much the 
better. Colton's American Atlas is good. The 
large cheap maps, published two on one roller by 
Lloyd, are good ; if you can give but five dollars 
for your maps, perhaps this is the best investment. 
Mr. Fay's beautiful atlaa costs but three and a 
half dollars. For the other hemisphere. Black's 
Atlas is good. Eogers's, published in Edinburgh, 
is very complete in its American maps. Stieler's 
is cheap and relialde. 

"When people talk of the "books which no gen- 
tleman's library should be without," the list may 
be boiled down, I think — if in any stress we 
should be reduced to the bread*and-water diet — 

HOW TO DO IT. 103 

to such books as will cover these five fundamental 


necessities. If you cannot buy the Bible, the 
agent of the County Bible Society will give you 
one. You can buy the whole of Shakespeare for 
fifty cents in Dicks's edition. And, within two 
miles of the place where you live, there are books 
enough for all the historical study I have pre- 
scribed. So, in what I now go on to say, I shaU 
take it for granted that we have all of us made 
thus much preparation, or can make it. These are 
the central stores of the picnic, which we can fall 
back upon, after our explorations in our various 
lines of literature. 

Now for our several courses x)f reading. How 
am I to know what are your several tastes, or the 
several lines of your genius ? Here are, as I learn 
from Mr. Osgood, some seventy-six thousand five 
hundred and forty-three Young Folks, be the same 
more or less, who are reading this paper. How 
am I to tell what are their seventy-six thousand 
five hundred and forty-three tastes, dispositions, 
or lines of genius ? I cannot telL Perhaps they 
could not tell themselves, not being skilled in self- 

104 HOW TO DO IT. 

analysis; and it is by no means necessary that 
they should be able to telL Perhaps we can set 
down on paper what wiU be much better, the rules 
or the system by which each of them may read 
well in the line of his own genius, and so find ou^ 
before he has done with this life, what the line of 
that genius is, as far as there is any occasion. 


That is the first rule. Do not think you must 
be a Universal Genius. Do not "read all Ee- 
views," as an old code I had bade young men do. 
And give up, as early as you can, the passion, " 
with which aU yoimg people naturally begin, of 
"keeping up with the literature of the tima" 
As for the literature of the time, if one were to > 
adopt any extreme rule, Mr. Emerson's would be n 
the better of the two possible extremes. He says 
it is wise to read no book till it has been printed 
a year ; that, before the year is well over, many 
of those books drift out of sight, which just now ^ 
oil the newspapers are telling you to read. But y ^ 


HOW TO DO IT. 105 

then, seriously, I do not suppose he acts on that 
rule himseK. Nor need you and I. Only, we 
will not try to read them alL 

Here I must warn my young friend Jamie not 
to go on talking about renouncing "nineteenth 
century trash." 

It will not do to use such words about a century 
in which have written Groethe, Fichte, Cuvier, 
Schleiermacher, Martineau, Scott, Tennyson, Thack- 
eray, Browning, and Dickens, not to mention a 
hundred others whom Jamie likes to read as 
much as I do. 

No. We will trust to conversation with the 
others, who have had their different paths in this 
picnic party of ours, to learn from them just the 
brightest and best things that they have seen and 
heard. And we will try to be able to tell them, 
simply and truly, the best things we find on our 
own paths. Now, for selecting the path, -^hat 
shall we do, — since one cannot in one little life 
attempt them all ? 

Tou can select for yourself, if you wiU only 
keep a cool head, and have your eyes open. First 

106 HOW TO DO rr. 

of all, remember that what you want fix>m books 
is the information in them, and the stimulus they 
give to you, and the amusement for your recreation. 
You do not read for the poor pleasure of saying 
you have read them. You are reading for the 
subject, much more than for the particular book, 
and if you find that you have exhausted all the 
book has on your subject, then you are to leave 
that book, whether you have read it through or 
not. In some cases you read because the author's 
own mind is worth knowing ; and then the more 
you read the better you know him. But these 
cases do not affect the ruld You read for what is 
in the books, not that you may mark such a book 
off from a " course of reading," or say at the next 
meeting of the " Philogabblian Society " that you 
"have just been reading Kant" or "Grodwin.** 
What is the subject, then, which you want to 
read upon? 

Half the boys and girls who read this have 
been so well trained that they know. They know 
what they want to know. One is sure that she 
wants to know more about Mary Queen o£ Soots ; 

HOW TO DO IT. 107 

atiother, that he wants to know more about 
fly-fishing ; another, that she wants to know more 
about the Egyptian hieroglyphics; another, that 
he wants to know more about propagating new 
varieties of pansies; another, that she wants to 
know more about ''The Eing and the Book"; 
another, that he wants to know more about the 
« Tenure of Ofiace bilL'' Happy is this hal£ To 
know your ignorance is the great first step to 
its relief. To confess it, as has been said before, 
is the second. In a minute I wiU be ready to 
say what I caa to this happy half; but one 
minute first for the less happy half, who know 
they want to read something because it is so nice 
to read a pleasant book, but who do not know 
what that something is. They come to us, aa 
their ancestors came to a relative of mine who 
was librarian of a town library sixty years ago; 
"Please, sir, mother wants a sermon book, and 
another book" 

To these undecided ones I simply say, now has 
the time come for decision. Your school studies 
have undoubtedly opened up eo many subjects 

108 HOW TO DO IT. 

to you that you very naturally find it hard to 
select between them. Shall you keep up your 
drawing, or your music, or your history, or your 
botany,' or your chemistry ? Very well in the 
schools, my dear Alice, to have started you in 
these things, but now you are coming to be a 
woman, it is for you to decide which shall go 
forward; it is not for Miss Winstanley, far lesa 
for me, who never saw your face, and know 
nothing of what you can or cannot do. 

Now you can decide in this way. Tell me, or 
tell yourself, what is the passage in your reading • 
or in your life for the last week which rests 
on your memory. Let us see if we thoroughly - 
understand that passage. If we do not, we will . 
see if we cannot learn to. That will give us a 
"course of reading" for the next twelve months, 
or if we choose, for the rest of our lives. There 
is no end, you will see, to a true course of read- 
ing ; and, on the other hand, you may about as 
well begin at one place as another. Bemember 
that you have infinite lives before you, so you 
need not hurry in the details for fear the work 
should be never done. 

HOW TO DO IT. 109 

Now I must show you how to go to'^work, 
by supposing you have been interested in some 
particular passage. Let us take a passage from 
Macaulay, which I marked in the Edinburgh 
Eeview for Sydney to speak, twenty-nine years 
ago, — I think before I had ever heard Macaulay's 
name. A great many of you boys have spoken it 
at school since then, and many of you girls have 
heard scraps from it. It is a brilliant passage, 
rather too ornate for daily food, but not amiss for 
a luxury, more than candied orange is after a 
state dioner. He is speaking of the worldly 
wisdom and skilful human policy of the method 
of organization of the Eoman Catholic Church. 
He says: — 

" The history of that Church joins together the 
two great ages of human civilization. No other 
institution is left standing which carries the mind 
back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice 
rose from the Pantheon, when camelopards and 
tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The 
proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when 
compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. 

110 HOW TO DO IT. 

That line we trace back in an unbroken series, 
from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the 
nineteenth century, to the Pope who crowned. 
Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of 
Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in 
the twilight of fable. The Eepublic of Venice 
came next in antiquity. But the Eepublic of 
Venice was modem when compared to the Papacy ; 
and the Eepublic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy 
remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not 
a mere antique, but full of life and youthful 
vigor. The Catholic Church is stiU sending forth 
to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as 
zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augusr 
tine ; and still confronting hostile kings with the 

same spirit with which she confronted Attila 

"She was great and respected before the Saxon 
had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had 
passed the Ehine, when Grecian eloquence still 
flourished at Antioch, when idols were still 
worshipped in the temple of Mecca, And she 
may still exist in imdiminished vigor, when some 
traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of 


a vast soKtude, take* his stand on a broken arch of 
London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St Paul's." 

I. We will not begin by considering the wisdom 
or the mistake of the general opinion here laid 
down. We- will begin by trying to make out 
what is the real meaning of the leading words 
employed. Look carefully along the sentence, 
and see if you are quite sure of what is meant 
by such terms as " The Eoman Catholic Church," 

the Pantheon," " the Flavian amphitheatre," 
the Supreme Pontiffs," " the Pope who crowned 
Napoleon," " the Pope who crowned Pepin," " the 
Bepublic of Venice," " the missionaries who 
landed in Kent," "Augustine," "the Saxon had 
set foot in Britain," " the Prank had passed the 
Ehine," "Grecian eloquence still flourished at 
Antioch," " idols in Mecca," " New Zealand," 
"London Bridge," "St. Paul's." 

For really working up a subject — and this 
sentence, now is to be our subject — I advise a 
blank book, and, for my part, I like to write 
down the key words or questions, in a vertical 



112 HOW TO DO IT. 

line, quite far apart from each other, on the 
first pages. You will see why, if you will 
read on. 

II. Now go to work on this list. What do you 
really know about the organization of the Eoman 
Catholic Church ? If you find you are vague 
about it, that such knowledge as you have is 
only haK knowledge, which is no knowledge, 
read tiU you are clear. Much information is 
not necessary, but good, as far as it goes, is neces- 
sary on any subject. This is a controverted sub- 
ject. You ought to try, therefore, to read some 
statement by a Catholic author, and some state- 
ment by a Protestant. To find out what to read 
on this or any subject, there are different clews. 

1. Any encyclopsedia, good or bad, will set 
you on the traiL Most of you have or can have 
an encyclopaedia at command. There are one-vol- 
ume encyclopaedias better than notHng. which are 
very cheap. You can pick up an edition of the 
old Encyclopaedia Americana, in twelve volumes, 
for ten or twelve dollars. Or you can buy Apple- 
ton's, which is really quite good, for sixty dollars 

HOW TO DO IT. 113 

a set. I do not mean to have you rest on any 
encyclopaedia, but you will find one at the start 
an excellent guide-post. Suppose you have the 
old Encyclopaedia Americana. You will find 
there that the " Eoman Catholic Church " is 
treated by two writers, — one a Protestant, and 
one a Catholic. Eead both, and note in your 
book such allusions as interest you, which you 
want more light upon. Do not note everything 
which you do not know, for then you cannot get 
forward. But note aU that specially interests 
you. For instance, it seems that the Eoman 
CathoUc Church is not so called by that church 
itself. The officers of that church might call it 
the Eoman church, or the CathoUc church, but 
would not caU it the Eoman Catholic church. 
At the Congress of Vienna, Cardinal Consalyi 
objected to the joint use of the words Eoman 
Catholic church. Do you know what the Con- 
gress of Vienna was ? No ?. then make a mem- 
orandum, if you want to know. We might put 
in another for Cardinal Consalvi He was a 
man^ who had a father and mother, perhaps broth- 


114 HOW TO DO IT. 

ers and sisters. He will give us a little human 
interest, if we stop to look him up. But do not 
stop for him now. Work through *' Eoman Cath- 
olic Church," and keep these memoranda in your 
book for another day. 

2. Quite different from the encyclopaedia is 
another book of reference, " Poole's Index." This 
is a general index to seventy-three magazines 
and reviews, which were published between the 
years 1802 and 1852. Now a great deal of the 
best work of this century has been put into such 
journals. A reference, then, to " Poole's Index " 
is a reference to some of the best separate papers 
on the subjects which for fifty years had most 
interest for the world of reading men and women. 
Let us try " Poole's Index " on " The EepubKc of 
Venice." There are references to articles on 
Venice in the New England Magazine, in the 
Pamphleteer, in the Monthly Eeview, Edinburgh, 
Quarterly, Westminster, and De Bow's Eeviews. 
Copy all these references carefully, if you have 
any chance at any time of access to any of these 
journals. It is not, you know, at all necessary to 

HOW TO DO IT. 115 

have them in the house. Probably there is some 
friend's collection or public library where you can 
find one or more of them. If you live in or near 
Boston, or New York, or Philadelphia, or Charles- 
ton, or New Orleans, or Cincinnati, or Chicago, or 
St. Louis, or Ithaca, you can find every one. 

When you have carefully gone down this origi- 
nal list, and made your memoranda for it, you are 
prepared to work out these memoranda. You 
begin now to see how many there are. You must 
be guided, of course, in your reading, by the time 
you have, and by the opportunity for getting the 
books. But, aside from that, you may choose 
what you like best, for a beginning. To make 
this simple b7 an iUustration. I wiU suppose you 
have been using the old Encyclopaedia Americana, 
or Appleton's Cyclopaedia and Poole's Index only, 
for your first list. As I should draw it up, it 
would look like this: — 





See (for instance) 
Council of Trent. 
Congress of Vienna. 

Cardinal ConsalvL 

Eclectic Rey., 4tli S. 18, 485. 
Quart. Rev., 71, 108. 
For. Quart. Rev., 27, 184. 
Brownson's Rev., 2d S. 1, 418; 

8, 309. 
N. Brit. Rev., 10, 21. 


Built by Agrippa. Consecrated, 
607, to St. Mary ad Martyros. 
Called Rotunda. 


The Coliseum, b, by T. Flavins 


Popes. The line begins with 
St. Peter, A. D. 42. Ends 
with Pius IX., 1846. 

New-Englander, 7, 169. 
N. Brit. Rev., 11, 136. 


Pius VII., at Notre Dame, in I For. Quart. Rev., 20, 54. 
Paris, Dec. 2, 1804. I 


Probably Pepin le Bref is meant. 
But he was not crowned by 
a Pope. Crowned by Arch- 
bishop Boniface of Mayence, 



at the advice of Pope Zacli- 1 
ary. I, @ 715. d, 768. I 


452 to 1815. St. Eeal's His- 

Otway's Tragedy, Venice Pre- 

Hazlitt's Hist, of Venice. 

Buskin's Stones of Venice. 

Quart. Bev. 81, 420. 
Month. Bev., 90, 525. 
West. Bev., 23, 38. 


1 Dublin Univ. Mag., 21, 212. 


There are two Augustines. This 
is St. Austin, 6. in 5th cen- 
tury, d, 604-614. 

Southey's Book of Church. 

Sharon Turner's Anglo-Saxons. 

Wm. of Malmesbury. 

Bede's Ecc. History. 


Turner as above. 
Aug. -Saxon Chronicle. 
Six old Eng. Chronicles. 

Edin. Bev., 89, 79. 
Quart. Bev., 7, 92. 
Select. Bev., 25, 669. 


Well established on west side, 
at the beginning of 5th cen- 

For. Quart. Bev., 17, 139. 


Muller^s Antiquitates Antioch- 

Greek Orators. Ed. Bev., 86, 




Burckhardt's Travels. 
Burton's Travels. 


3 islands, as large as Italy. Dis- 
covered, 1642 ; taken by Cook 
for England, 1769. 

Gov. sent out, 1838. 

Thomson's story of N. Z. 

Cook's Voyages. 

Sir G. Gray's Poems, kc, of 

N. Am. Bev., 18, 828, ' 

West. Eev., 45, 138. 
Edin. Eev., 91, 281 ; 56, 383. 
N. Brit. Bev., 16, 176. 
Living Age. 


5 elliptical arches. " Presents 
an aspect unequalled for in- 
terest and animation." 


Built in thirty years "between 
1675 and 1705, by Christ. 

Now I am by no means going to leave 
you to the reading of cyclopsedias. The vice 
of cyclopaedias is that they are dulL What is 
done for this passage of Macaulay in the lists 
above is only preliminary. It could be easily 
done in three hours' time, if you went carefuUy 
to work And when you have done it, you have 

HOW TO DO IT. 119 

taught yourself a good deal about your own 
knowledge and your own ignorance, — about 
what you should read and what you should not 
attempt. So far it fits you for selecting your own 
course of reading. 

I have arranged this only by way of illustra- 
tion. I do not mean that I think these a par- 
ticularly interesting or particularly important 
series of subjects. I do mean, however, to show 
you that the moment you will sift any book or 
any series of subjects, you will be finding out 
where your ignorance is, and what you want to 

Supposing you belong to the fortunate half of 
people who know what they need, I should advise 
you to begin in just the same way. 

For instance, Walter, to whom I alluded above, 
wants to know about Fly-Fishing, This is the 
way his list looks. 

(For instance) 

W. Scott, Redgauntlet. 



Quart. E«v., 69, 121 ; 37, 845. 
Edin. Eev., 78, 46, or 87 ; 93, 
174, or 340. ' 

• w^ -I ^ ^* ^ St" ' * ' ' * *■ 



Br. Davy's Besearclies, 1839. 
Cuvier and Valenciennes, Hist. 

Naturelle des Poissons, YoL 


Bichardson*s Fauna Bor. Amer. 

De Kay, ZoSlogy of IT. Y. 
Agassiz, Lake Superior. 

Am. Whig Rev., 6, 490. 

N. Brit. Rev., 11, 32, or 95 ; 1, 

326 ; 8, 160 ; or Liv. Age, 2, 

291 ; 17, 1. 
Blackwood, 51, 296. 
Quart. Rev., 67, 98, or 332; 69, 

Blackwood, 10, 249; 49, 302; 

21, 815 ; 24, 248 ; 35, 775 ; 

38, 119 ; 63, 673 ; 5, 123 ; 5, 

281 ; 7, 137. 
Fraser, 42, 136. 

See also, 

Izaak Walton, Compleat Angler. (Walton and Cotton first 
appeared, 1750.) 

Humphrey Day's Salmonia, or The Days of Fly-Fishing. 

Blakey, History of Angling Literature. 

Oppianus, De Yenatione, Piscatione et Aucupio. (Halieutica 
translated. ) Jones's English translation was published in Ox- 
ford, 1722. 

Bronner, Fischergedichte und Erzahlungen (Fishennen's 
Songs and Stories). 

Norris, T., American Angler's Book. 

Zouch, Life of Iz. Walton. 

Salmon Fisheries. Parliamentary Reports. Annual. 

** Blackwood's Magazine, an important landmark in English 
angling literature." See Noctes Ambrosianse. 

H. W. Beecher, N. Y. Independent, 1853. 

In the New York edition of Walton and Cotton is a list of 
books on Angling, which Blakey enlarges. His list contains 
four hundred and fifty titles. 

American Angler's Guide, 1849. 

Storer, D. H., Fishes of Massachusetts. 

Storer, D. H., Fishes of N. America. 

HOW TO DO IT. 121 

Girard, Fresli- Water Fishes of N. America (Smithsonian 
Contributions, Vol. III.). 

Richard Penn, Maxims and Hints for an Angler, and Mis- 
eries of Fishing, 1839. 

James Wilson, The Rod and the Gun, 1840. 

Herbert, Frank Forester's Fish of N. America. 

Yarrel's British Fishes. 

The same, on the Growth of Salmon. 

Boy's Own Book. 

Please to observe, now, that nobody is obliged 
to read up all the authorities that we have lighted 
on. What the lists mean is this ; — that you have 
made the inquiry for " a sermon book and another 
book," and you are now thus far on your way to- 
ward an answer. These are the first answers that 
come to hand. Work on and you will have more. 
I cannot pretend to give that answer for any one 
of you, — far less for all those who would be 
likely to be interested in all the subjects which 
are named here. But with such clews as are 
given above, you will soon find your ways into 
the different parts that interest you of our great 
picnic grove. 

Eemember, however, that there are no royal 
roads. The difference between a well-educated 
person and one not well educated is, that the first 

122 HOW TO DO IT. 

knows how to find what he needs, and the other 
does not. It is not so much that the first is bet- 
ter informed on details than the second, though he 
probably is. But his power to collect the details 
at short notice is vastly greater than is that of the 
uneducated or unlearned man. 

In different homes, the resources at command 
are so different that I must not try to advise 
much as to your next stdj) beyond the lists above. 
There are many good catalogues of books, with 
indexes to subjects. In the Congressional Library, 
my friend Mr. Vinton is preparing a magnificent 
" Index of Subjects," which wiU be of great use 
to the whole nation. In Harvard College Library 
they have a manuscript catalogue referring to the 
subjects described in the books of that collection. 
The " Cross-Eeferences " of the Astor Catalogue, 
and of the Boston Library Catalogue, are invalu- 
able to all readers, young or old. Your teacher 
at school can help you in nothing more than in 
directing you to the books you need on any 
subject. Do not go and say, *' Miss Winstanley, 
or Miss Parsons, I want a nice book " ; but have 

HOW TO DO IT. 123 

sense enough to know what you want it to be 
about. Be able to say, — " Miss Parsons, I should 
like to know about heraldry," or " about butterflies," 
or '' about water-color painting," or '' about Eobert 
Browning," or " about the Mysteries of TJdolpho." 
JMiss Parsons will tell you what to read. And 
she will be very glad to tell you. Or if you are 
not at school, this very thing among others is 
what the minister is for. Do not be frightened. 
He will be very glad to see you. Go round to 
his house, not on Saturday, but at the time he 
receives guests, and say to him: "Mr. Ingham, 
we girls have made quite a collection of old por- 
celain, and we want to know more about it. Will 
you be kind enough to tell us where we can find 
anything about porcelain. We have read Miss 
Edgeworth's 'Prussian Vase' and we have read 
' Palissy the Potter,' and we should like to know 
more about Sevres, and Dresden, and Palissy." 
Ingham will be delighted, and in a fortnight, 
if you wiU go to work, you will know more about 
"what you ask for than any one person knows in 

124 HOW TO DO IT. 

And I do not mean that all your reading ia 
to be digging or hard work. I can show that I 
do not, by supposing that we carry out the plan of 
the list above, — on any one of its details, and 
write down the books which that detail suggests 
to us. Perhaps Venice has seemed to you the 
most interesting head of these which we ha ze 
named. If we follow that up only in the refer- 
ences given above, we shall find our book list for 
Venice, just as it comes, in no order but that of 
accident, is : — 

St. Real, Belation des Espagnols contre Yenise. 

Otway's Venice Preserved. 

Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. 

Howells's "Venetian Life. 

Blondus. De Origine Yenetonim. 

Muratori's Annals. 

Raskin's Stones of Venice. 

©'Israeli's Contarini Fleming. 

Contarina, Delia Republica di Venetia. 

Flagg, Venice from 1797 to 1849. 

Crassus, De Republica Veneta. 

Jai-raot, De Republica Veneta. 

Voltaire's General History. 

SismoncU'a History of Italy. 

Lord Byron's Letters. 

Sketches of Venetian History, Fam. library, 26, 27. 

Venetian History, Hazlitt. 

HOW TO DO rr. 125 

Dandolo, G. La Oadnta delta Bepublica di Yenezia fThe Fall <^ 

the Bepublic of Yenice). 
KidolU, C, Lives of the Yenetian Painters. 
Monagas, J. T., Late Events in Yenice. 
Delavigne^ Marino Faliero, a Historical Drama. 
Lord Byron, The same. 
Smedley's Sketches from Yenetian History. 
Dam, Hist, de hi Bepublique de Yenise. 

So mucli for the way in which to choose your 
books. As to the choice, you will make it, not I. 
If you are a goose, cackling a great deal, silly at 
heart and wholly indifferent about to-morrow, you 
wiU choose just what you call the interesting titles. 
If you are a girl of sense, or a boy of sense, you 
wiU choose, when you have made your list, at least 
two books, determined to master them. You will 
choose one on the side of information, and one for 
the purpose of amusement, on the side of fancy. 
If you choose in "Venice" the "Merchant of 
Venice," you will not add to it "Venice Pre- 
served," but you will add to it, say the Venetian 
chapters of "Sismondi's Italy." You will read 
every day; and you will divide your reading 
time into the two departments, — you will read 
for fact and you will read for fancy. Boots 

126 HOW TO DO IT. 

must have leaves, you know, and leaves must 
have roots. Bodies must have spirits, and, for 
this world at least, spirits must have bodies. 
Fact must be lighted by fancy, and fancy must be 
balanced by fact. Making this the principle of 
your selection, you may, nay, you must, select for 
yourselves your books. And in my next chapter 
I will do my best to teach you 


HOW TO DO IT. 127 



T ISTON tells a stoiy of a nice old lady— I 
-*-^ think the foster-sister of the godmother of 
his brother-in-laVs aunt — who came to make 
them a visit in the country. The first day after 
she arrived proved to be much such a day as this 
is, — much such a day as the first of a visit in 
the country is apt to be, — a heavy pelting north- 
easter, when it is impossible to go out, and every 
one is thrown on his own resources in-doors. The 
different ladies under Mrs. liston's hospitable roof 
gathered themselves to their various occupations, 
and some one asked old Mrs. Dubbadoe if she 
would not like to read. 

She said she should. 

" What shall I bring you from the library ? " 
said Miss EUen. " Do not trouble yourself to go 
up stairs." 

128 HOW TO DO IT. 

" My dear EUen, I should like the same book I 
had last year when I was here. It was a very 
nice book, and I was very much interested in it." 

" Certainly," said Miss Ellen ; ".what was it ? I 
will bring it at once." 

" I do not remember its name, my dear ; your 
mother brought it to me ; I think she would.know." 

But, imfortunately, Mrs. Listen, when applied to, 
had forgotten. 

" Was it a novel, Mrs. Dubbadoe ? " 

" I can't remember that, — my memory is not as 
good as it was, my dear, — but it wa»^a very inter- 
esting book." 

"Do you remember whether it had plates? 
Was it one of the books of birds, or of natural 
history ? " 

"No, dear, I can't tell you about that. But, 
Ellen, you will find it, I know. The color of the 
cover was the color of the top of the baluster ! " 

So Ellen went. She has a good eye for color, 
and as she ran up stairs she took the shade of the 
baluster in her eye, matched it perfectly as she ran 
along, the books in the Ubraiy with the Eussia 

HOW TO DO IT. 129 

half-binding of the coveted volume, and brought 
that in triumph to Mrs. Dubbadoe. It proved to 
be the right book. Mrs. Dubbadoe found in it 
the piece of corn-colored worsted she had left for 
a mark the year before, so she was able to go on 
where she had stopped then. 

listen tells this story to trump one of mine 
about a schoolmate of ours, who was explaining to 
me about his theological studies. I asked him 
what he had been reading. 

" 0, a capital book ; King lent it to me ; I will 
ask him to lend it to you." i 

I said I would ask Eng for the book, if he 
would tell me who was the author. 

''I do not remember his name. I had not 
known his name before. But that made no differ- 
ence. It is a capital book. King told me I should 
find it so, and I did ; I made a real study of it ; 
copied a good deal from it before I returned it.** 

I asked whether it was a book of natural 

"I don't know as you would call it natural 
theology. Perhaps it was. You had better see 


130 HOW TO DO IT. 

it yourseK. Tell King it was the book he lent 


I was a little persistent, and asked if it were a 
book of biography. 

" Well, I do not know as I should say it was a 
book of biography. Perhaps you would say so. 
I do not remember that there was much biography 
in it. But it was an excellent book. King had 
read it himseK, and I found it all he said it was." 

I asked if it was critical, — if it explained 
Scripture. . ^ 

"Perhaps it did. I should not like to say 
whether it did or not. You can find that out 
yourself if you read it. But it is a very interest- 
ing book and a very valuable book. King said so, 
and I found it was so. You had better read it, 
and I know King can tell you what it is." 

Now in these two stories is a very good illus- 
tration of the way in which a great many people 
read. The notion comes into people's lives that 
the mere process of reading is itself virtuous. 
Because young men who read instead of gamble 
are known to be "steadier" than the gamblers, and 

HOW TO DO IT. 131 

because children who read on Sunday make less 
noise and general row than those who will play tag 
in the neighbors' front-yards, there has grown up 
this notion, that to read is in itself one of the vir- 
tuous acts. Some people, if they told the truth, 
when counting up the seven virtues, would count 
them as Purity, Temperance, Meekness, Frugality, 
Honesty, Courage, and Eeading. The consequence 
is that there are unnumbered people who read as 
Mrs. Dubbadoe did or as Lysimachus did, without 
the slightest knowledge of what the books have 

My dear Dollie, PoUie, Sallie, Marthie, or any 
other of my young friends whose names end in ie, 
who have favored me by reading thus far, the 
chances are three out of four that I could take 
the last novel but three that you read, change the 
scene from England to France, change the time 
from now to the seventeenth century, make the 
men swear by St. Denis, instead of talking mod- 
em slang, name the women Jacqueline and Mar- 
guerite, instead of Maud and Blanche, and, if 
Harpers would print it, as I dare say they would 

132 HOW TO DO IT. 

if the novel was good, you would read it through 
without one suspicion that you had read the 
same book before. 

So you see that it is not certain that you know 
how to read, even if you took the highest prize 
for reading in the Amplian class of Ingham Uni- 
versity at the last exhibition. You may pronounce 
all the words well, and have all the rising inflec- 
tions right, and none of the falling ones wrong, 
and yet not know how to read so that your read- 
ing shall be of any permanent use to you. 

For what is the use of reading if you forget it 
all the next day ? 

" But, my dear Mr. Hale," sayB as good a girl as 
Laura, " how am I going to help myself ? What I 
remember I remember, and what I do not remem- 
ber I do not. I should be very glad to remember 
all the books I have read, and all that is in them ; 
but if I can't, I can't, and there is the end of it." 

No ! my dear Laura, that is not the end of it 
And that is the reason this paper is written. 
A child of God can, before the end comes, do any- 
thing she chooses to^ with such help as he is 



HOW TO DO IT. 133 

willing to give her ; and he has been kind enongh 
so to make and so to train you that you can train 
your memory to remember and to recall the 
useful or the pleasant things you meet in your 
reading. Do you know, Laura, that I have here a 
note you wrote when you were eight years old ? 
It is as badly written as any note I ever saw. 
There are also twenty words in it spelled wrong. 
Suppose you had said then, " If I can't, I can't, 
and there 's an end of it" You never would have 
written me in the lady-like, manly handwriting 
you write in to-day, spelling rightly as a matter 
of mere feeling and of course, so that you are 
annoyed now that I should say that every word is 
spelled correctly. Will you think, dear Laura, 
what a tremendous strain on menaory is involved 
in aU this ? Will you remember that you and 
Miss Sears and Miss Winstanley, and your mother, 
most of all, have trained your memory tiU it can 
work these marvels ? All you have to do now in 
your reading is to carry such training forward, and 
you can bring about such a power of classification 
and of retention that yon shall be mistress of the 

134 HOW TO DO XT. 

books you have read for most substantial purposes. 
To read with such results is reading indeed. And 
when I say I want to give some hints how to read, 
it is for reading with that view. 

When Harry and Lucy were on their journey 
to the sea-side, they feU to discussing whether 
they had rather have the gift of remembering all 
they read, or of once knowing everything, and 
then taking their chances for recollecting it when 
they wanted it. Lucy, who had a quick memory, 
was willing to take her chance. But Harry, who 
was more methodical, hated to lose anything he 
had once learned, and he thought he had rather 
have the good fairy give him the gift of recollect- 
ing all he had once learned. For my part, I quite 
agree with Harry. There are a great many things 
that I have no desire to know. I do not want to 
know in what words the King of Ashantee says, 
" Cut off the heads of those women." I do not 
want to know whether a centipede really has 
ninety-six legs or one hundred and four. I never 
did know. I never shall. I have no occasion to 
know. And I am glad not to have my mind 

HOW TO DO IT. 135 

lumbered up with the unnecessary information. 
On the other hand, that which I have once learned 
or read does in some way or other belong to my 
personal life. I am very glad if I can reproduce 
that in any way, and I am much obliged to any- 
body who will help me. 

For reading, then, the first rules, I think, are : 
Do not read too much at a time ; stop when you 
are tired; and, in whatever way, make some re- 
view of what you read, even as you go along. 

Capel Lofift says, in quite an interesting book, 
which plays about the surface of things without 
going very deep, which he calls Self-Formation* 
that his whole life was changed, and indeed saved, 
when he learned that he must turn back at the 
end of each sentence, ask himself what it meant, 
if he believed it or disbelieved it, and, so to speak, 
that he must pack it away as part of his men- 
tal furniture before he took in another sentence. 
That is just as a dentist jams one little bit of 
gold-foil home, and then another, and then another. 
He does not put one large wad on the hoUow 

^ * Self-Formation. Crosby and Nichols. Boston. 1845. 

136 HOW TO DO IT. 

tooth, and then crowd it all in at once. Capel 
LofiPb says that this reflection — going forward as a 
serpent does, by a series of backward bends over 
the line — will make a dull book entertaining, 
and will make the reader master of every book 
he reads, through aU time. For my part, I think 
this is cutting it rather fine, this chopping the book 
up into separate bits. I had rather read as one of 
my wisest counsellors did ; he read, say a page, or 
a paragraph of a page or two, more or less ; then 
he would look across at the wall, and consider the 
author's statement, and fix it on his mind, and 
then read on. I do not do this, however. I read 
half an hour or an hour, tiU I am ready, perhaps, 
to put the book by. Then I examine myself. 
What has this amounted to ? What does he say ? 
What does he prove ? Does he prove it ? What 
is there new in it ? Where did he get it ? If it 
is necessary in such an examination you can go 
back over the passage, correct your first impression, 
if it is. wrong, find out the meaning that the writer 
has carelessly concealed, and such a process makes 
it certain that you yourself will remember his 
thought or his statement 

HOW -TO DO IT. 137 

I can remember, I think, everything I saw in 
Europe, which was worth seeing, if I saw it twice. 
But there was many a wonder which I was taken 
to see in the whirl of sight-seeing, of which I 
have no memory, and of which I cannot force any 
recollection. I remember that at Malines — what 
we call Mechlin — our train stopped nearly an 
hour. 'At the station a crowd of guides were 
shouting that there was time to go and see Eu- 

bens's picture of , at the church of . 

This seemed to us a droll contrast to the cry at 
our stations, " Fifteen minutes for refreshments ! " 
It offered such aesthetic refreshment in place of 
carnal oysters, that purely for the frolic we went 
to see. We were hurried across some sort of 
square into the church, saw the picture, admired 
it, came away, and forgot it,. — clear and clean 
forgot it ! My dear Laura, I do not know what it 
was about any more than you do. But if I had 
gone to that church the next day, and had seen it 
again, I should have fixed it forever on my mem- 
ory. Moral : Eenew your acquaintance with 
whatever you want to remember. I think Ing- 

138 HOW TO DO IT. 

ham says somewhere that it is the slight differ- 
ence between the two stereoscopic pictures which 
gives to them, when one overlies the other, their 
relief and distinctness. If he does not say it, I 
will say it for him now. 

I think it makes no difference how you make 
this mental review of the author, but I do think 
it essential that, as you pass from one division of 
his work to another, you should make it some- 

Another good rule for memory is indispensable, 
I think, — namely, to read with a pencil in hand. 
If the book is your own, you had better make 
what I may caU your own index to it on the hard 
white page which lines the cover at the end. 
That is, you can write down there just a hint of 
the things you will be apt to like to see again, 
noting the page on which they are. If the book 
is not your own, do this on a little slip of paper, 
which you may keep separately. These memo- 
randa will be, of course, of all sorts of things. 
Thus they will be facts which you want to know, 
or funny stories which you think wiU amuse some 

HOW TO DO IT. 139 

one, or opinions which you may have a doubt 
about. Suppose you had got hold of that very 
rare book, " Veragas's History of the Pacific Ocean 
and its Shores " ; here might be your private in- 
dex at the end of the first volume: — 

Percentage of salt in water, 11 : Gov. EeviUagi- 
gedo, 19 : Caciques and potatoes, 23 : Lime water 
for scurvy, 29. Enata, Kanaka, dvrip, aval 42: 
Magelhaens vs, Wilkes, 57: Coral insects, 72: 
Gigantic ferns, 84, &c., &c., &c. 

Very likely you may never need one of these 
references ; but if you do, it is certain that you 
will have no time to waste in hunting for them. 
Make your memorandum, and you are sure. 

Bear in mind all along that each book will 
suggest other books which you are to read sooner 
or later. In your memoranda note with care the 
authors who are referred to of whom you know 
little or nothing, if you think you should like to 
know more, or ought to know more. Do not 
neglect this last condition, however. You do not 
make the memorandum to show it at the Philo- 
gabblian; you make it for yourself; and it meajis 

140 HOW TO DO IT. 

that you yourself need this additional informa- 

Whether to copy much from books or not ? 
That is a question, — and the answer is, — *' That 
depends." If you have but few books, and 
much time and paper and ink; and if you are 
likely to have fewer books, why, nothing is nicer 
and better than to make for use in later life good 
extract-books to your own taste, and for your 
own purposes. But if you own your books, or 
are likely to have them at command, time is 
short, and the time spent in copying would prob- 
ably be better spent in reading. There are some 
veiy diflfdsive books, difficult because difPdsive, 
of which it is well to write close digests, if 
you are reaUy studying them. When we read 
John Locke, for instance, in college, we had to 
make abstracts, and we used to stint ourselves to 
a line for one of his chatty sections. That was 
good practice for writing, and we remember what 
was in the sections to this hour. If you copy, 
make a first-rate index to your extracts. They 
sell books prepared for the purpose, but you may 
just as well make your own. 

HOW TO DO IT. 141 

Ton see I am not contemplating any very rapid 
or slap-dash work. You may put that on your 
novels, or books of amusement, if you choose, and 
I wiU not be very cross about it; but for the 
books of improvement, I want you to improve by 
reading them. Do not "gobble" them up so 
that five years hence you shall not know whether 
you have read them or not. What I advise seems 
slow to you, but if you will, any of you, make or 
find two hours a day to read in this fashion, you 
will be one day accomplished men and women. 
Very few professional men, known to me, get so 
much time as that for careful and systematic read- 
ing. If any boy or girl wants really to know 
what comes of such reading, I wish he would read 
the life of my friend George Livermore, which 
our friend Charles Deane has just now written 
for the Historical Society of Massachusetts. There 
was a young man, who when he was a boy in a 
store began his systematic reading. He never left 
active and laborious business ; but when he died, 
he was one of the accomplished historical scholars 
of America. He had no superior in his special 

142 HOW TO DO IT. 

lines of study ; lie was a recognized authority and 
leader among men who had given their lives to 

I have not room to copy it here, but I wish any 
of you would turn to a letter of Frederick Eobert- 
son's, near the end of the second volume of his 
letters, where he speaks of this very matter. He 
says he read, when he was at Oxford, but sixteen 
books with his tutors. But he read them so that 
they became a part of himself," as the iron enters 
a man's blood." And they were books by sixteen 
of the men who have been leaders of the world. 
No bad thing, dear Stephen, to have in your blood 
and brain and bone the vitalizing element that 
was in the lives of such men. 

I need not ask you to look forward so far as to 
the end of a life as long as Mr. George livermore's, 
and as successful Without asking that, I will 
say again, what I have implied already, that any 
person who will take any special subject of detail, 
and in a weU-provided library will work steadily 
on that little subject for a fortnight, wiU at the 
end of the fortnight probably know more of tbo<- 


HOW TO DO IT. 143 

detail than anybody in the country knows. If 
you will study by subjects for the truth, you have 
the satisfaction of knowing that the ground is 
soon very nearly all your own. 

I do not pretend that books are everything. I 
may have occasion some day to teach some of you 
" How to Observe," and then I shall say some very 
hard things about people who keep their books so 
close before their eyes that they cannot see God's 
world, nor their feUow-men and women. But 
books rightly used are society. Good books are 
the best society; better than is possible without 
them, in any one place, or in any one time. To 
know how to use them wisely and well is to know 
how to make Shakespeare and Milton and Theo- 
dore Hook and Thomas Hood step out from the 
side of your room, at your will, sit down at your 
fire, and talk with you for an hour. I have no 
such society at hand, as I write these words, ex- 
cept by such magic. Have you in your log-cabin 
in No. 7 ? 

144 HOW TO DO IT. 



QIOME boys and girls are bom so that they 
^^ enjoy society, and all. the forms of society, 
from the beginning. The passion they have for 
it takes them right through aU the formalities and 
stiffness of morning calls, evening parties, visits 
on strangers, and the like, and they have no difli- 
culty about the duties involved in these things. 
I do not write for them, and there is no need, at 
aU, of their reading this paper. 

There are other boys and girls who look with 
half horror and half disgust at aU such machinery 
of society. They have been weU brought up, in 
intelligent, civilized, happy homes. They have 
their own varied and regular occupations, and it 
breaks these aU up, when they have to go to the 
birthday party at the Glascocks', or to spend the 
evening with the young lady from Vincennes who 
is visiting Mrs. Vandermeyer. 

HOW TO DO IT. 145 

When they have grown older, it happens, very- 
likely, that such boys and girls have to leave 
home, and establish themselves at one or another 
new home, where more is expected of them in a 
social way. Here is Stephen, who has gone 
through the High School, and has now gone over 
to New Altona to be the second teller in the 
Third National Bank there. Stephen's father was 
in college with Mr. Brannan, who was quite a 
leading man in New Altona. Madam Chenevard 
is a sister of Mrs. Schuyler, with whom Ste- 
phen's mother worked five years on the Sanitary 
Commission. All the bank of&cers are kind to 
Stephen, and ask him to come to their houses, and 
he, who is one of these young folks whom I have 
been describing, who knows how to be happy at 
home, but does not know if he is entertaining or 
in any way agreeable in other people's homes, 
reaUy finds that the greatest hardship of his new 
life consists in the hospitalities with which aU 
these kind people welcome him. 

Here is a part of a letter from Stephen to me, 
— he writes pretty much everything to me : 


146 HOW TO DO IT. 

" , . . , Mrs. Judge Tolman has invited me ■ to 
another of her evening parties. Everybody says 
they are very pleasant, and I can see that they are 
to people who are not sticks and oafs. But I am 
a stick and an oaf. I do not like society, and 
I never did. So I shall declipe Mrs. Tolman's 
invitation; for I have determined to go to no 
more parties here, but to devote my evenings to 

Now this is not snobbery or goodyism on Ste- 
phen's part. He is not writing a make-believe 
letter, to deceive me as to the way in which he is 
spending his time. He really had rather occupy 
his evening in reading than in going to Mrs. Tol- 
man's party, — or to Mrs. Anybody's party, — 
and, at the present moment, he. really thinks he 
never shall go to any parties again. Just so two 
little girls part from each other on the sidewalk, 
saving, " I never will speak to you again as long 
as I Uve." Only Stephen is in no sort angry with 
Mrs. Tolman or Mrs. Brannan or Mrs. Chenevard. 
He pnly thinks that their way is one way, and his 
way is another. His determination is the same as 

HOW TO DO IT. 147 

Tom's was, which I described in Chapter 11. But 
where Tom thought his failure was want of tak- 
ing power, Steve really thinks that he hates so- 

It is for boys and girls like Stephen, who think 
they are " sticks and oafs," and that they cannot 
go into society, that this paper is written. 

You need not get up from your seats and come 
and stand in a line for me to talk to you, — tallest 
at the right, shortest at the left, as if you were at 
dancing-school, facing M. Labbass^. I can talk to 
you just as well where you are sitting ; and, as 
Obed Clapp said to me once, I know very well 
what you are going to say, before you say 
it. Dear children, I have had it said to me four- 
score and ten times by forty-six boys and forty- 
six girls who were just as dull and just as bright 
as you are, — as like you, indeed, as two pins. 

There is Dunster, — Horace Dunster, — at this 
moment the favorite talker in society in Wash- 
ington, as indeed he is on the floor of the House 
of Eepresentatives. Ask, the next time you are 
at Washington, how many dinner-parties are put 

148 HOW TO DO IT. 

oflf till a day can be found at which Dunster can 
be present. Now I remember very well, how, 
a year or two after Dunster graduated, he and 
Messer, who is now Lieutenant-Governor of 
Labrador, and some one whom I will not name, 
were sitting on the shore of the Cattaraugus Lake, 
rubbing themselves dry after their swim. And 
Dunster said he was not going to any more 
parties. Mrs. Judge Park had asked him, be- 
cause she loved his sister, but she did not care 
for him a Straw, and he did not know the Cat- 
taraugus people, and he was afraid of the girls, 
who knew a great deal more than he did, and 
so he was " no good " to anybody, and he would 
not go any longer. He would stay at home and 
read Plato in the original. Messer wondered at 
aU this ; he enjoyed Mrs. Judge Park's parties, 
and Mrs. Dr. Holland's teas, and he could not see 
why as bright a feUow as Dunster should not 
enjoy them. "But I teU you," said Dunster, 
" that I do not enjoy them ; and, what is more, 
I tell you that these people do not want me to 
come. They ask me because they like my sister, 
as I said, or my father, or my mother." 

HOW TO DO IT. 149 

Then some one else, who was there, whom I do 
not name, who was at least two years older than 
these young men, and so was qualified to advise 
them, addressed them thus : — 

"You talk like children. Listen. It is of no 
consequence whether you like to go to these places 
or do not like to go. None of us were sent to Cat- 
taraugus to do what we like to do. We were sent 
here to do what we can to make this place cheer- 
ful, spirited, and alive, — a part of the kingdom of 
heaven. Now if everybody in Cattaraugus sulked 
off to read Plato, or to read " The Three Guards- 
men," Cattaraugus would go to the dogs very fast, 
in its general sulkiness. There must be intimate 
social order, and this is the method provided. 
Therefore, first, we must aU of us go to these par- 
ties, whether we want to or not ; because we are 
in the world, not to do what we like to do, but 
what the world needs. 

" Second," said this unknown some one, " noth- 
ing is more snobbish than this talk about Mrs. 
Park's wanting us or not wanting us. It simply 
shows that we are thinking of ourselves a good 

150 HOW TO DO rr. 

deal more than she is. What Mrs. Fai^ wants is 
as many men at her party as she has women. She 
has made her list so as to balance them. As the 
result of that list^ she has said she wanted me. 
Therefore I am going. Perhaps she does want 
me. If she does> I shall oblige her. Perhaps she 
does not want me. If she does not, I shall punish 
her, if I go, for telling what is not true ; and I 
shall go cheered and buoyed up by that reflection. 
Anyway I go, not because I want to or do not 
want to, but because I am asked ; and in a world 
of mutual relationships it is one of the things 
that I must do." 

No one replied to this address, but they all 
three put on their dress-coats and went Dunster 
went to every party in Cattaraugus that winter, 
and, as I have said, has since shown himself a 
most brilliant and successful leader of society. 

The truth is to be found in this little sermon. 
Take society as you find it in the place where you 
live. Do not set yourself up, at seventeen years 
old, as being so much more virtuous or grand or 
leaxndd than the young people round you, or 

HOW TO DO IT. 151 

the old people round you, that you cannot asso- 
ciate with them on the accustomed terms of the 
place. Then you are free from the first diffi- 
culty of young people who have trouble in soci- 
ety ; for you wiU not be "stuck up," to use a very 
happy phrase of your own age. When anybody, 
in good faith, asks you to a party, and you have 
no pre-engagement or other duty, do not ask 
whether these people are above you or below you, 
whether they know more or know less than you 
do, least of aU ask why they invited you, — but 
simply go. It is not of much importance wheiiier, 
on that particular occasion, you have what you 
call a good time or do not have it. But it is of 
importance that you shall not think yourself a 
person of more consequence in the commimity 
than others, and that you shall easily and kindly 
adapt yourself to the social life of the people 
among whom you ara 

This is substantially what I have written to 
Stephen about what he is to do at New Altona. 

Now, as for enjoying yourself when you have 
come to the party, — for I wish you to understand 

152 HOW TO DO IT. 

that, though I have compelled you to go, I am not 
in the least cross about it, — but I want you to 
have what you yourselves call a very good time 
when you come there. dear, I can remember 
perfectly the first formal evening party at which I 
had "a good time.'* Before that I had always 
hated to go to parties, and since that I have al- 
ways liked to go. I am sorry to say I cannot tell 
you at whose house it was. That is ungrateful in 
me. But I could tell you just how the pUlars 
looked between which the sliding doors ran, for I 
was standmg by one of them when my eyes were 
opened, as the Orientals say, and I received great 
light. I had been asked to this party, as I sup- 
posed and as I still suppose, by some people who 
wanted my brother and sister to come, and thought 
it would not be kind to ask them without asking 
me. I did not know five people in the room. It 
was in a coUege town where there were five gen- 
tlemen for every lady, so that I could get nobody 
to dance with me of the people I did know. So it 
was that I stood sadly by this pillar, and said to 
myself, " You were a fool to come here where no- 

HOW TO DO rr. 153 

body wants you, and where you did not want to 
come; and you look like a fool standing by this 
piUar with nobody to dance with and nobody to 
talk to." At this moment, and as if to enlighten 
the cloud in which I was, the revelation flashed 
upon me, which has ever since set me all right in 
such matters. Expressed in words, it would be 
stated thus : " You are a much greater fool if you 
suppose that anybody in this room knows or cares 
where you are standing or where you are not 
standing. They are attending to their affairs and 
you had best attend to yours, quite indifferent as 
to what they think of you." In this reflection I 
took immense comfort, and it has carried me 
through every form of social encounter from that 
day to this day. I don't remember in the least 
what I did, whether I looked at the portfolios of 
pictures, — which for some reason young people 
think a very poky thing to do, but which I like 
to do, — whether I buttoned some fellow-student 
who was less at ease than I, or whether I talked 
to some nice old lady who had seen with her 
own eyes half the history of the world which is 

154 HOW TO DO rr. 

worth knowing. I only know that, after I fotmd 
out that nobody else at the party was looking at 
me or was caring for me, I began to enjoy it as 
thoroughly as I enjoyed staying at home. 

Not long after I read this in Sartor Resartus, 
which was a great comfort to me : " What Act of 
Parliament was there that you should be happy ? 
Make up your mind that you deserve to be hanged, 
as is most likely, and you will take it as a favor 
that you are hanged in silk, imd not in hemp." Of 
which the application in this particular case is this : 
that if Mrs. Park or Mis, Tdman are kind enough 
to open their beautiful houses for me, to fill them 
with beautiful flowers, to provide a band of music, 
to have ready their books of prints and their for- 
eign photographs, to light up the walks in the 
garden and the greenhouse, and to provide a deli- 
cious supper for my entertainment, and then ask, 
I will say, only one person whom I want to see, is 
it not very ungracious, very selfish, and veiy snob- 
bish for me to refuse to take what is, because of 
something which is not, — because Ellen is not 
there or George is not ? What Act of Parliament 

HOW TO DO IT. 155 

is there that I should have everything in my own 

As it is with most tldngs^ then^ the role for 
going into society is not to have any rule at all. 
Gro unconsciously ; or, as St. Paul puts it, " Do not 
think of yourseK more highly than you ought to 
think." Everything but conceit can be forgiven 
to a young person in society. St Paul, by the 
way, high-toned gentleman as he was, is a very 
thorough guide in such affairs, as he is in most 
others. If you will get the marrow out of those 
little scraps at the end of his letters, you will not 
need any hand-books of etiquette. 

As I read this over, to send it to the printer, I 
recollect that, in one of the nicest sets of girls I 
ever knew, they called the thirteenth chapter of 
the First Epistle to the Corinthians the " society 
chapter." Eead it over, and see how well it fits, 
the next time Maud has been disagreeable, or 
you have been provoked yourself in the ''Ger- 

''The g^tleman is quiet," says Mr. Emerson 
whose essay on society you will read with profit. 

156 HOW TO DO IT. 

" the lady is serene." Beaxing this in mind, you 
will not reaUy expect, when you go to the dance 
at Mrs. PoUexfen's, that while you are standing 
in the library explaining to Mr. Sumner what he 
does not imderstand about the Alabama Claims, 
watching at the same time with jealous eye the 
fair form of Sybil as she is waltzing in that hated 
Clifford's arms, — you wiU not, I say, reaUy expect 
that her light dress wiU be wafted into the gas- 
light over her head, she be surrounded with a 
lambent flame, Clifford basely abandon her, while 
she cries, " Ferdinand, Ferdinand ! " — nor that 
you, leaving Mr. Sumner, seizing Mrs. General 
Grant's camel's hair shawl, rushing down the ball- 
room, wiU wrap it around Sybil's uninjured form, 
and receive then and there the thanks of her father 
and mother, and their pressing request for your 
immediate union in marriage. Such things do not 
happen outside the Saturday newspapers, and it is 
a great deal better that they do not " The gen- 
tleman is quiet and the lady is serene." In my 
own private judgment, the best thing you can do 
at any party is the particular thing which your 

HOW TO DO IT. 157 

host or hostess expected you to do when she made 
the party. If it is a whist party, you had better 
play whist, if you can. If it is a dancing party, 
you had better dance, if you can. If it is a music 
party, you had better play or sing, if you can. If 
it is a croquet party, join in the croquet, if you 
can. When at Mrs. Thomdike's grand party, Mrs. 
Colonel Gofife, at seventy-seven, told old Eufus 
Putnam, who was five years her senior, that her 
dancing days were over, he said to her, " Well, it 
seems tq be the amusement provided for the occa- 
sion." I think there is a good deal in that At 
all events, do not separate yourself from the rest 
as if you were too old or too young, too wise or 
too foolish, or had not been enough introduced, or 
were in any sort of different clay from the rest of 
the pottery. 

And now I will not imdertake any specific di- 
rections for behavior. You know I hate them 
all I will only repeat to you the advice which 
my father, who was my best friend, gave me 
after the first evening call I ever made. The caU 
was on a gentleman whom both I and my father 

158 HOW TO DO IT. 

greatly loved. I knew he would be pleased to 
hear that I had made the visit, and^ with sixtLB 
pride, I told him, being, as I calculate, thirteen 
years five months and nineteen days old. He was 
pleased, very much pleased, and he said so. "I 
am glad you made the call, it was a proper atten- 
tion to Mr. Palfrey, who is one of your true 
j&iends and mine. And now that you begin to 
make calls, let me give you one piece of advice. 
Make them short. The people who see you may 
be very glad to see you. But it is certain they 
were occupied with something when you came, 
and it is certain, therefore, that you have inter- 
rupted them." 

I was a little dashed in the enthusiasm with 
which I had told of my first visit But the ad- 
vice has been worth I cannot tell how much to 
me, — years of life, and hundreds of friends. 

Pelham's rule for a visit is, " Stay till you have 
made an agreeable impression, and then leave 
immediately." A plausible rule, but dangerous. 
What if one should not make an agreeable im- 
pression after all ? Did not Beldi stay till near 

HOW TO DO IT. 159 

three in the morning ? And when he went^ be- 
cause I had dropped asleep, did I not think him 
more disagreeable than ever ? 

For all I can say, or anybody else can say, it 
will be the manner of some people to give up 
meeting other people socially. I am very sorry 
for them, but I cannot help it. All I can say is 
that they will be sorry before they are done. I 
wish they would read -^op*s fable about the old 
man and his sons and the bundle of rods. I wish 
they would find out definitely why God gave them 
tongues and lips and ears. I wish they would 
tal^e to heart the folly of this constant struggle in 
which they live, against the whole law of the 
being of a gregarious animal like man. What is 
it that Westerly writes me, whose note comes 
to me from the mail just as I finish this paper? 
"I do not look for much, advance in the world 
until we can get people out of their own self." 
And what do you hear me quoting to you all 
the time, — which you can never deny, — but 
that " the human race is the individual of which 
men and women are so many different mem- 

160 HOW TO DO IT. 

bers" ? You may kick against this law, but it is 

It is the truth around which, like a crystal 
round its nucleus, all modem civilization has 
taken order. 

HOW TO DO IT. 161 



FIEST, as to manneT. You may travel on foot, 
on horseback, in a carriage with horses, in a 
carriage with steam, or in a steamboat or ship, and 
also in many other ways. 

Of these, so far as mere outside circumstance 
goes, it is probable that the travelling with horses 
in a canal-boat is the pleasantest of all, granting 
that there is no crowd of passengers, and that the 
weather is agreeable. But there are so few parts 
of the world where this is now practicable, that 
we need not say much of it. The school-girls of 
this generation may well long for those old halcyon 
days of Miss Portia Lesley's SchooL In that ideal 
establishment the girls went to Washington to 
study political economy in the winter. They went 
to Saratoga in July and August to study the ana- 
lytical processes of chemistry. There was also a 

course there on the history of the Eevolution. 


162 HOW TO DO IT. 

They went to Newport alternate yeaxs in the same 
months, to study the Norse literature and swim- 
ming. They went to the White Sulphur Springs 
and to Bath, to study the history of chivalry as 
illustrated in the annual tournaments. They went 
to Paris to study French, to Rome to study Latin, 
to Athens to study Greek. In all parts of the 
world where they could travel by canals they did 
so. While on the journeys they studied their 
arithmetic and other useful matters, which had 
been passed by at the capitals. And while they 
were on the canals they washed and ironed their 
clothes, so as to be ready for the next stopping* 
place. You can do anything you choose on a 

Next to canal travelling, a journey on horse- 
back is the pleasantest It is feasible for girls as 
well as boys, if they have proper escort and super* 
intendence. You see the country; you know 
every leaf and twig; you are tired enough, and 
not too tired, when the day is done. When you 
are at the end of each day's journey you find you 
have, all the way alcmg, been laying up a store of 

HOW TO DO IT. 163 

pleasant memories. You have a good appetite for 
supper, and you sleep in one nap for the tiiup. 
hours between nine at night and six in the morn- 

You might try this, PhiUis,— you and Eoberfc. 
I do not think your little pony would do, but your 
uncle will lend you Throg for a fortnight. There 
is nothing your imcle will not do for you, if you 
ask him the right way. When Eobert's next 
vacation comes, after he has been at home a week, 
he will be glad enough to start. You had better 
go now and see your Aunt Fanny about it. She 
is always up to anything. She and your Uncle 
John will be only too glad of the excuse to do this 
thing again. They have not done it since they 
and I and P. came down through the Dixville 
Notch aU four on a hand gallop, with the rain run- 
ning in sheets ofif our waterproofs. Get them to 
say they will go, and then hold them up to it. 

For dress, you, PhiUis, wiU want a regular 
bloomer to use when you are scrambling over the 
mountains on foot. Indeed, on the White Moun- 
tains noWf the ladies best e<j[uipped ride up those 

164 HOW TO DO IT. 

steep pulls on men's saddles. For that work this 
is much the safest Have a simple skirt to but- 
ton round your waist while you are riding. It 
should be of waterproof, — the English is the best. 
Besides this, have a short waterproof sack with a 
hood, which you can put on easily if a shower 
comes. Be careful that it has a hood. Any crev- 
ice between the head cover and the back cover 
which admits air or wet to the neck is misery, if 
not fatal, in such showers as you are going to ride 

You want another skirt for the evening, and this 
and your tooth-brush and linen must be put up 
tight and snug in two little bags. The old-fash- 
ioned saddle-bags will do nicely, if you can find a 
pair in the garret. The waterproof sack must be 
in another roll outside. 

As for Eobert, I shall tell him nothing about his 
dress. ''A true gentleman is always so dressed 
that he can mount and ride for his Ufe." That 
was the rule three hundred years ago, and I think 
it holds true now. 

Do not tiy to ride too much in one day. At 

HOW TO DO IT. 165 

the start, in particular, take care that you do not 
tire your horses or yourselves. For yourselves, 
very likely ten miles will be enough for the first 
day. It is not distance you are after, it is the en- 
joyment of every blade of grass, of every flying 
bird, of every whiff of air, of every cloud that 
hangs upon the blue. 

Walking is next best. The difficulty is about 
baggage and sleeping-places ; and then there has 
been this absurd theory, that girls cannot walk. 
But they can. School-boys — trying to make im- 
mense distances — blister their feet, strain their 
muscles, get disgusted, borrow money and ride 
home in the stage. But this is all nonsense. 
Distance is not the object. Five miles is as good 
as fifty. On the other hand, while the riding 
party cannot well be larger than four, the more 
the merrier on the walking party. It is true, that 
the fare is sometimes better where there are but 
few. Any number of boys and girls, if they can 
coax some older persons to go with them, who can 
supply sense and direction to the high spirits of 
the juniors, may imdertake such a journey. There 

166 HOW TO DO IT, 

are but few rules ; beyond them^ each party may 
make its own. 

First, never walk before breakfast If you like, 
you may make two breakfasts and take a mile or 
two between. But be sure to eat something be- 
fore you are on the road. 

Second, do not walk much in the middle of the 
day. It is dusty and hot then ; and the landscape 
has lost its special glory. By ten o'clock you 
ought to have found some camping*ground for the 
day ; a nice brook running throi^h a grove, — a 
place to draw or paint or tell stories or read them 
or write them; a place to make waterfalls and 
dams, — to sail chips or build boats, — a place to 
make a fire and a cup of tea for the oldsters. Stay 
here till four in the afternoon, and then push on 
in the two or three hours which are left to the 
sleeping-place agreed upon. Four or five hours on 
the road is all you want in each day. Even reso- 
lute idlers, as it is to be hoped you aU are on such 
occasions, can get eight miles a day out of that, — - 
and that is enough for a true walking party. Re- 
member all along, that you are not running a rarv* 

HOW TO DO IT. 167 

with the railway train. If you were, you would 
be beaten certainly ; and the less you think you 
are the better. You are travelling in a method of 
which the ment is that it is not fast, and that you 
see every separate detail of the glory of the world. 
What a fool you are, then, if you tire yourself to 
death, merely that you may say that you did in 
ten hours what the locomotive would gladly have 
finished in one, if by that effort you have lost 
exactly the enjoyment of nature and society that 
you started for. 

The perfection of undertakings in this line was 
Mrs. Merriam's famous walking party in the Green 
Mountains, with the Wadsworth girls. Wads- 
worth was not their name, — it was the name of 
her school. She chose eight of the girls when 
vacation came, and told them they might get 
leave, if they could, to join her m Brattleborough 
for this tramp. And she sent her own invitation 
to the mothers and to as many brothers. Six of 
the girls came. Clara Ingham w^as one of them, 
and she told me aU about it. Margaret Tyler and 
Etta were there. There were six brothers also. 

168 HOW TO DO IT. 

and Archie Muldair and his wife, Fanny Muldair's 
mother. They two " tended out " in a buggy, but 
did not do much walking. Mr. Merriam was with 
them, and, quite as a surprise, they had Thur- 
lessen, a nice old Swede, who had served* in the 
army, and had ever since been attached to that 
school as chore-man. He blacked the girls' shoes^ 
waited for them at concert, and sometimes, for a 
slight bribe, bought almond candy for them in 
school hours, when they could not possibly live till 
afternoon without a supply. The girls said that the 
reason the war lasted so long was that Old Thur- 
lessen was in the army, and that nothing ever 
went quick when he was in it. I believe there 
was something in this. Well, Old Thurlessen had 
a canvas-top wagon, in which he carried five tents, 
five or six trunks, one or two pieces of kitchen 
gear, his own self and Will Corcoran. 

The girls and boys did not so much as know that 
Thurlessen was in the party. That had aU been 
kept a solemn secret. They did not know how 
their trunks were going on, but started on foot in 
the morning from the hotel, passed up that beau- 

HOW TO DO IT. 169 

tiful village stteet in Brattleborough, came out 
through West Dummerston, and so along that 
lovely West Eiver. It was very easy to find a 
camp there, and when the sun came to be a little 
hot, and they had all blown off a little of the 
steam of the morning, I think they were all glad 
to come upon Mr. Muldair, sitting in the wagon 
waiting for them. He explained to them that, if 
they would cross the fence and go down to the 
river, they would find his wife had planted 
herself ; and there, sure enough, in a lovely little 
nook, round which the river swept, with rocks and 
trees for shade, with shawls to lounge upon, and 
the water to play with, they spent the day. Of 
course they made long excursions into the woods 
and up and down the stream, but here was head- 
quarters. Hard-boiled eggs from the haversacks, 
with bread and butter, furnished forth the meal, 
and Mr. Muldair insisted on toasting some salt- 
pork over the fire, and teaching the girls to like 
it sandwiched between crackers. Well, at four 
o'clock everybody was ready to start again, and 
was willing to walk briskly. And at six, what 

170 HOW TO DO IT. 

should they see but the American flag flying, and 
Thurlessen's pretty little encampment of his five 
tents, pitched in a horseshoe form, with his wagon, 
as a sort of commissary's tent, just outside. Two 
tents were for the girls, two tents for the boys, and 
the head-quarters tent for Mr. and Mrs. Merriam. 
And that night they aU learned the luxury and 
sweetness of sleeping upon beds of hemlock 
branches. Thurlessen had supper all ready as 
soon as they were washed and ready for it. And 
after supper they sat round the fire a little while 
singing. But before nine o'clock every one of 
them was asleep. 

So they fared up and down through those lovely 
valleys of the Green Mountains, sending Thur- 
lessen on about ten miles every day, to be ready 
for them when night came. If it rained, of course 
they could put in to some of those hospitable Ver- 
mont farmers' homes, or one of the inns in the 
villages. But, on the whole, they had good 
weather, and boys and girls always hoped that 
they might sleep out-doors. 

These are, however, but the variations and 

HOW TO DO IT. 171 

amusements of travel. You and I would find it 
hard to walk to Liverpool, if that happened to be 
the expedition in hand or on foot. And in 
ninety-nine cases out of a hundred you and I will 
have to adapt ourselves to the methods of travel 
which the majority have agreed upon. 

But for pleasure travel, in whatever form, much 
of what has been said already applies. The best 
party is two, the next best four, the next best one, 
and the worst three. Beyond four, except in 
walking parties, aU are impossible, unless they be 
members of one family under the command of a 
father or mother. Command is essential when you 
pass four. All the members of the party should 
have or should make a community of interests. 
If one draws, all had best draw. If one likes to 
climb mountains, all had best climb mountains. 
If one rises early, all had best rise early ; and so 
on. Do not tell me you cannot draw. It is quite 
time you did. You are your own best teacher. 
And there is no time or place so fit for learning as 
when you are sitting under the shade of a high 
rock on the side of White Face, or looking oflf 

172 HOW TO DO IT. 

into the village street Crom the piazza of a ho- 

The party once determined on and the route, re- 
member that the old conditions of travel and the 
new conditions of most travel of to-day are pre- 
cisely opposite. For in old travel, as on horse- 
back or on foot now, you saw the country while 
you travelled. Many of your stopping-places 
were for rest, or because night had fallen, and you 
could see nothing at night. Under the old sys- 
tem, therefore, an intelligent traveller might keep 
in motion from day to day, slowly, indeed, but 
seeing something all the time, and learning what 
the country was through which he passed by talk 
with the people. But in the new system, popu- 
larly called the improved system, he is shut up 
with his party and a good many other parties in 
a tight box with glass windows, and whirled on 
through dust if it be dusty, or rain if it be rainy, 
under arrangements which make it impossible to 
converse with the people of the country, and al- 
most impossible to see what that country is. 
There is a little conversation with the natives. 

sow TO DO IT. I*t3 

But it relates mostly to the price of pond-lilies 
ot of erullers or of native diamonds. I once put 
my head out of a window in Ashland, and, ad- 
dressing a crowd of boys promiscuously, called 
"John, John." John stepped forward, as I had 
felt sure he would, though I had not before had 
the pleasure of his acquaintance. I asked how 
his mother was, and how the other chfldren were, 
and he said they were very weU. But he did not 
say anything else, and as the train started at that 
moment I was not able to continue the conversa- 
tion, which was at the best, you see, conducted 
under difficulties. All this makes it necessary 
that, in our modem travelling, you select with 
particular care your places to rest, and, when you 
have selected them, that you stay in them, at the 
least one day, that you may rest, and that you 
may know something of the country you are 
passing. A man or a strong woman may go from 
Boston to Chicago in a little more than twenty- 
five hours. If he be going because he has to, it is 
best for him to go in that way, because he is out 
of his misery the Sooner. Just so it is better to 

174 HOW TO DO IT. 

be beheaded than to be starved to deatL But a 
party going from Boston to Chicago purely on an 
expedition of pleasure, ought not to advance more 
than a hundred miles a day, and might well spend 
twenty hours out of every twenty-four at well- 
chosen stopping-places on the way. They would 
avoid all large cities, which are for a short stay 
exactly alike and equally uncomfortable; they 
would choose pleasant places for rest, and thus 
when they arrived at Chicago they would have a 
real fund of happy, pleasant memories. 

Applying the same principle to travel in Europe, 
I am eager to correct a mistake which many of 
you will be apt to make at the beginning, — hot- 
blooded young Americans as you are, eager to 
"put through" what you are at, even though it 
be the most exquisite of enjoyments, and ignorant 
as you all are, till you are taught, of the possibili- 
ties of happy life before you, if you will only let 
the luscious pulp of your various bananas lie on 
your tongue and take all the good of it, instead 
of bolting it a3 if it were nauseous medicine. 
Because you have but little time in Europe, you 

HOW TO DO IT. 175 

■will be anxious to see all you can. That is quite 
right. Eemember, then, that true wisdom is to 
stay three days in one place, rather than to spend 
but one day in each of three. If you insist on 
one day in Oxford, one in Birmingham, one in 
Bristol, why then there are three inns or hotels 
to be hunted up, three packings and unpackings, 
three sets of letters to be presented, three sets of 
streets to learn, and, after it is all over, your memo- 
ries of those three places wiU be merely of the 
outside misery of traveL Give up two of them 
altogether, then. Make yourself at home for the 
three days in whichever place of the three best 
pleases you. Sleep tfll your nine hours are up 
every night. Breakfast all together. Avail your- 
selves of your letters of introduction. See things 
which are to be seen, or persons who are to be 
known, at the right times. Above all, see twice 
whatever is worth seeing. Do not forget this 
rule; — we remember what we see twice. It is 
that stereoscopic memory of which I told you 
once before. We do not remember with anything 
like the same reality or precision what we have 

176 HOW TO DO IT. 

obIj seen once. It is in some sliglit appreciation 
gI this great fandamental rule^ that you stay- 
three days in any place which you really mean 
to be acquainted with^ t^at Miss Ferrier lays 
down her bright rule for a visit, that a visit ought 
"to consist of three days, — the rest day, the 
drest day, and the pres^sd day." 

And, lastly, dear friends, — for the most enter- 
taining of discourses on the most fascinating of 
themes must have a "lastly," — lastly, be sure 
that you know what you travel for. " Why, we 
travel to have a good time,** says tiiaJb incorrigible 
Pauline Ingham, who will talk none but the 
Yankee language. Dear Pauline, if you go about 
the woild expecting to find that same "good time" 
of yours ready-made, inspected, branded, stamped, 
jobbed by the jobbeis, retailed by the retailers, 
and ready for you to buy with your spending- 
money, you wiU be sadly mistaken, though you 
have for spending-money all that united health, 
high spirits, good-nature, and kind heart of yours, 
and all papa's lessons of forgetting yesterday, 
leaving to-morrow alone, and living with all your 

HOW TO DO It. 1T7 

might to-day. It will never do, Pauline, to have 
to walk up to the innkeeper and say, '' Please, we 
have come for a good time, and where shall we 
find it ? " Take care that you have in reserve one 
object, I do not care much what it is. Be ready 
to press plants^ or be ready to collect minerals. 
Or be ready to wash in wat^-colors, I do not care 
how po(» they are. Or, in Europe, be ready to 
inquire about the libraries, or the baby-rnurseries, 
or the art-collections, or the botanical gardens. 
Understand in your own mind that there is some- 
thing you cau inquire for and be interested in, 
thou^ you be dumped out of a car at Kew 
Smithville. It may, perhaps, happen that yon do 
not for weeks or months revert to this reserred 
object of yours. Then happiness may come ; for, 
as you have found out already, I think, happiness 
is somethij]^ ndiich happem^ and is not contrived. 
On titiis tl^uie you will find an excellent discourse 
in the beginning of Mr. Freeman Clarke's '' Eleveoi 
Weeks in Europe." 

For directions for the detail of travel, tiiere are 
Bona batter tiian those in th» beginning of '' B(dlo 



178 HOW TO DO IT. 

in Europe." There is mucli wisdom in the gen- 
eral directions to travellers in the prefaces to the 
old editions of Murray. A young American will 
of course eliminate the purely English necessities 
from both sides of those equations. There is a 
good article by Dr. Bellows on the matter in the 
North American Eeview. And you yourself, after 
you have been forty-eight hours in Europe, will 
feel certain that you can write better directions 
than all the rest of us can, put together. 

And so, my dear young friends, the first half of 
this book comes to an end. The programme of 
the beginning is finished, and I am to say ** Grood 
by." If I have not answered all the nice, intelli- 
gent letters which one and another of you have 
sent me since we began together, it has only been 
because I thought I could better answer the mul- 
titude of such unknown friends in print, than a 
few in shorter notes of reply. It has been to me 
a charming thing that so many of you have been 
tempted to break through the magic circle of the 
printed pages, and come to closer terms with one 

HOW TO DO rr. 179 

•who has certainly tried to speak as a friend to all 
of you. Do we all understand that in talking, 
in reading, in writing, in going into society, in 
choosing our books, or in travelling, there is no 
arbitrary set of rules ? The commandments are 
not carved in stone. We shall do these things 
rightly if we do them simply and unconsciously, 
if we are not selfish, if we are willing to profit by 
other people's experience, and if, as we do them, 
we can manage to remember that right and wrong 
depend much more on the spirit than on the man. 
ner in which the thing is done. We shall not 
make many blunders if we live by the four rules 
they painted on the four walls of the Detroit Club- 

Do not you know what those were ? 

1. Look up, and not down. 

2. Look forward, and not backward. 

3. Look out, and not in. 
4 Lend a hand. 

The next half of the book will be the applica- 
tion of these rules to life in school, in vacation, 
life together, life alone, and some other details not 
yet touched upoa 

180 HOW TO DO IT. 



T DO not mean life at a boarding-schooL If 
•^ I speak of that^ it is to be at aaoth^ time. 
No, I mean life at a regular every-day school^ in 
town or in the country, where you go in the morn- 
ing and come away at eleven or at noon, and go 
again in the afternoon, and come away after two 
or three hours. Some young people hate this life, 
and some like it tolerably welL I propose to give 
some information which shall make it more agree- 
able all round. ■ 

And I beg it may be understood that I do not 
appear as counsel for either party, in the instruc- 
tion and advice I give. That means that, as the 
lawyers say, I am not retained by the teachers^ 
formerly called schoolmistresses and school- 
masters, or by the pupils, f onnerly called boys and 
girls. I have been a schoolmaster myself, and 
I enjoyed the life very much, and made among 

HOW TO DO It. 181 

my boys some of the best of the friends of my 
life. I have also been a school-boy, — and I 
roughed through my school life with comparative 
comfort and ease. As master and as boy I 
learned some thii^ which I think can be ex- 
plained to boys and girls now, so as to make life 
at school easier and reaUy more agreeable. 
My first rule is, that you 

Accept the Situation. 

Perhaps you do not know what that means. It 
means that, as you are at school, whether you 
reaUy like going or not, you determine to make 
the very best you can of it, and that you do not 
make yourself and everybody else wretched by 
sulking and grumbling about it, and wishing 
school was done, and wondering why your father 
sends you there, and asking leave ta look at tie 
clock in the other room, tad so on. 

When Dr. Kane or Captain McClure was lying 
on a skin on a field of ice, in a blanket bag buttoned 
ov^ his head, with three men one side of him and 
thvee the other, and a blanket over them all, — 

"<\ /^ . or** ^ •> , 

182 HOW TO DO rr. 


with the temperature seventy-eight degrees below 
zero, and daylight a month and a half away, the 
position was by no means comfortable. But a 
brave man does not growl or sulk in such a 
position. He "accepts the situation." That is, 
he takes that as a thing for granted, about which 
there is to be no farther question. Then he is in 
condition to make the best of it, whatever that 
best may be. He can sing " We won't go home 
till morning," or he can tell the men the story 
of William Fitzpatrick and the Belgian coflFee- 
grinder, or he can say " good-night " and imagine 
himself among the Kentish hop-fields, — till be- 
fore he knows it the hop-sticks begin walking 
round and round, and the haycocks to make faces 
at him,— and— and— and — he— he — he is 
fast asleep. That comfort comes of "accepting 
the situation." 

Now here you are at school, I will say, for 
three hours. Accept the situation, like a man 
or a woman, and do not sulk like a fooL As Mr. 
Abbot says, in his admirable rule, in BoUo or 
Jonas, " When you grant, grant cheerfully." Tou 

HOW TO DO IT. 183 

have come here to school without a fight, I sup- 
pose. When your father told you to come, you 
did not insult him, as people do in very poor 
plays and very cheap novels. You did not say 
to him, " Miscreant and villain, I renounce thee, 
I defy thee to the teeth ; I am none of thine, and 
henceforth I leave thee in thy low estate." You 
did not leap in the middle of the night from a 
three-story window, with your best clothes in a 
handkerchief, and go and assume the charge of 
a pirate clipper, which was lying hidden in a 
creek in the Back Bay. On the contrary, you 
went to school when the time came. As you 
have done so, determine, first of all, to make the 
very best of it The best can be made first-rate. 
But a great deal depends on you in making it so. 

To make the whole thing thoroughly attractive, 
to make the time peas quickly, and to have school 
life a natural part of your other life, my second 
rule is. 


It is a good rule in anything; in sleeping, in 

184 ;i HOW TO DO rr. 

• • 

phyiug, or in whatevOT you have in band. But 
nothing tends to m^e school time pass quicker ; 
and the great point, as I will acknowledge, is to 
get through with the school hours as quickly 
as we fairly can. 

!N'ow if in written arithmetic, for instance, you 
will start instantly on the sums as soon as they 
are given out ; if you will bear cm bard chi the 
pencil, so as to make clear white marks, instead 
of greasy, flabby, pale ones on the slate ; if you 
win rule the columns for the answers as carefully 
as if it were a bank ledger you wei^ ruling, or 
if you will wash the slate so completely that no 
vestige of old work is there, you will find that 
the mere exercise of energy of manner infuses 
spirit and correctness into the thing done. 

I remember my drawii^^teacher once snapped 
the top of my pencil with his forefinger, gently, 
and it flew across the room. He latched and 
said, " How can you expect to draw a finai lim 
with a pencil held like that?" It was a good 
lesson, and it illustrates this rule, — "Do with all 
your m%ht the work thai is to be done*" 

HOW TO DO IT. .•; 185 

When I was at school at the old Latin School 
in Boston, — opposite where Ben Franklin went 
to school and where his statue is now, — in the 
same spot in space where you eat your lunch if 
you go into the ladies' eating-room at Parker's 
Hotel, — when I was at school there, I say, things 
were in that semi-barbarous state, that with a 
school attendance of four hours in the morning, 
and three in the afternoon, we had but five min- 
utes' recess in the morning and five in the after- 
noon. We went "out" in divisions of eight or 
ten each ; and the worst of all was that the play- 
ground (now called so) was a sort of platform, of 
which one half was under cover, — all of which 
was, I suppose, sixteen feet long by six wide, with 
high walls, and stairs leading to it. 

Of course we could have sulked away all our 
recess there, complaining that we had no better 
place. Instead of which, we accepted the situa- 
tion, we made the best of it, and with all our 
might entered on the one amusement possible 
in such quarters. 

We provided a stout lope, well knotted. As 

186 HOW TO DO IT. 


soon as recess began, we divided into equal 
parties, one under cover and the other out, 
grasping the rope, and endeavoring each to 
drew the other party across the dividing line. 
"Greeks and Trojans" you will see the game 
called in English books. Little we knew of 
either; but we hardened our hands, toughened 
our muscles, and exercised our chests, arms, and 
legs much better than could have been ex- 
pected, all by accepting the situation and doing 
with all our might what our hands found to do. 
Lessons are set for average boys at school, — 
boys of the average laziness. If you really go 
to work with aU your might then, you get a good 
deal of loose time, which, in general, you can apply 
to that standing nuisance, the "evening lesson." 
Sometimes, I know, for what reason I do not know, 
this study of the evening lesson in school is pro- 
hibited. When it is, the good boys and quick boys 
have to learn how to waste their extra time, which 
seems to be a pity. But with a sensible master, 
it is a thing understood, that it is better for boys 
or girls to study hard while they study, and never 

HOW TO DO IT. 187 

to learn to dawdle. Taking it for granted that you 
are in the hands of such masters or mistresses^ I 
will take it for granted that, when you have learned 
the school lesson, there will be no objection to your 
next learning the other lesson, which lazier boys 
wiU have to carry home. 

Lastly, you will find you gain a great deal by 
giving to the school lesson all the color and light 
which eveiy-day affairs can lend to it. Do not let 
it be a ghastly skeleton in a closet, but let it come 
as far as it will into daily life. When you read in 
Colbum's Oral Arithmetic, "that a man bought 
mutton at six cents a pound, and beef at seven," 
ask your mother what she pays a pound now, and 
do the sum with the figures changed. When the 
boys come back after vacation, find out where they 
have been, and look out Springfield, and the Notch, 
and Dead River, and Moosehead Lake, on the map, 
— and know where they are. When you get a 
chance at the " Republican," before the others have 
come down to breakfast, read the Vermont news, 
imder the separate head of that State, and find out 
how many of those Vermont towns are on your 

188 HOW TO DO IT. 

** Mitchell** When it is your turn to speak, do not 
be satisfied with a piece from the " Speaker," that 
all the boys have heard a hundred times ; but get 
something out of the " Tribune," or the ** Compan- 
ion," or " Young Folks," or from the new " Tenny- 
son" at home. 

I once went to examine a high school, on a 
lonely hillside in a lonely country town. The first 
class was in botany, and they rattled oflF from the 
book very fast. They said ** cotyledon/' and " syn- 
genesious," and "coniferous," and such words, re- 
markably well, considering they did not care 
two straws about them. Well, when it was my 
turn to " make a few remarks," I said, — 


I do not remember another word I said, but I 
do remember the sense of amazement that a min- 
ister should have spoken such a wicked word in a 
school-room. What was worse, I sent a child out 
to bring in some tmripe huckleberries from th6 
roadside, and we went to work on our botany to 
some purpose. 

My dear children, I see hundreds of boys who 

HOW TO DO IT. 189 

can tell me what is thirteen seventeenths of two 
elevenths of five times one half of a bushel of 
wheat, stated in pecks, quarts, and pints ; and yet 
if I showed them a grain of wheat, and a grain of 
imhnlled rice, and a grain of barley, they would 
not know, which was which. Try not to let your 
school life sweep you wholly away from the home 
life of every day. 

190 HOW TO DO IT. 



TT"OW well I remember my last vacation 1 I 
-*— ^ knew it was my last, and I did not lose one 
instant of it Six weeks of unalloyed ! 

True, after school days are over, people have 
what are called vacations. Your father takes his 
at the store, and Uncle William has the "long 
vacation," when the Court does not sit. But a 
man's vacation, or a woman's, is as nothing when 
it is compared with a child's or a young man's or 
a young woman's home from schooL For papa 
and Uncle William are carrying about a set of 
cares with them all the time. They cannot help 
it, and they carry them bravely, but they carry 
them all the same. So you see a vacation for 
men and women is generally a vacation with its 
weight of responsibility. But your vacations, 
while you are at school, though they have their 
responsibilities, indeed, have none under whi^^ 

HOW TO DO IT. 191 

you ought not to walk ofif as cheerfully as Gretch- 
en, there, walks down the road with that pail of 
milk upon her head. I hope you will learn to 


do that some day, my dear Fanchon. 

Hear, then, the essential laws of vacation : — 
First of all. 


Horace and Enoch would not have made such a 
mess of it last summer, and got so utterly into 
disgrace, if they could only have kept this rule in 
mind. But, from mere thoughtlessness, they were 
making people wish they were at the North Pole 
all the time, and it ended in their wishing that 
they were there themselves. 

Thus, the very first morning after they had come 
home from Leicester Academy, — and, indeed, they 
had been welcomed with all the honors only the 
night before, — when Margaret, the servant, came 
down into the kitchen, she found her fire lighted, 
indeed, but there were no thanks to Master Enoch 
for that. The boys were going out gunning that 
morning, and they had taken it into their heads 

192 HOW TO DO rr. 

that the two old fowling-pieces needed to be thor- 
oughly washed out, and with hot water. So they 
had got up, really at half past four ; had made the 
kitchen fire themselves ; had put \>n ten times as 
much water as they wanted, so it took an age to 
boil; had got tired waiting, and raked out some 
coals and put on some more water in a skillet ; 
had upset this over the hearth, and tried to wipe 
it up with the cloth that lay over Margaret's 
bread-cakes as they were rising; had meanwhile 
taken the guns to pieces, and laid the pieces 
on the kitchen table; had piled up their oily 
cloths on the settle and on the chairs ; had 
spilled oil from the lamp-filler, in trying to 
drop some into one of the ramrod sockets, and 
thus, by the time Margaret did come down, her 
kitchen and her breakfast both were in a very 
bad way. 

Horace said, when he was arraigned, that he 
had thought they should be all through before 
half past five ; that then they would have " cleared 
up," and have been weU across the pasture, out 
of Margaret's way. Horace did not know that 

HOW TO DO rr. 193 

watched pots are "mighty unsartin" in their times 
of boiling. 

Now all this row, leading to great unpopularity 
of the boys in regions where they wanted to be 
conciliatory, would have been avoided if Horace 
and Enoch had merely kept out of the way. There 
were the Kendal-house in the back-yard, or the 
wood-shed, where they could have cleaned the 
guns, and then nobody would have minded if 
they had spilled ten quarts of water. 

This seems like a minor rule. But I have put 
it first, because a good deal of comfort or discom- 
fort hangs on it. 

Scientifically, the first rule would be. 

Save Timb. 

This can only be done by system. A vacation is 
gold, you see, if properly used ; it is distilled gold, 
— if there could be such, — to be correct, it is 
burnished, double-refined gold, or gold purified. 
It cannot be lengtliened. There is sure to be too 
little of it. So you must make sure of all there 
is ; and this requires system. 


194 »)W TO DO IT. 

It TOqubftis, tiheKefotfe, ttiat, firtt 6f all, — tevaa 
before the term time is over, — you all deter- 
mixiie V€jy ^oiemnly what the greiat central 
business of the f acatioti shall be. ShaU it be 
an archery club ? Or will we build the Falcon's 
Nest in tlie buttbnwood t)ver on the Strail? 
Or iBhall it be some other i^rt or entertain- 

Let this be decided with ^reat care ; and, once 
decided, hang to this determination, doing some- 
thing detennihed about it every Uving day. In 
trvcth, I Tecommend apptication to that business 
with a good deal of firmness, on every day, rain 
or shine, eveoi at certain feted hours; unless, of 
course, there is some general engagement of the 
family, or of the neighborhood, which interferes, 
if you are til going on a lily party, why, that will 
take precedence. 

Theai I tecomtdend, ticat, quite distinct from 
tiais, you make up your own personal and separate 
inind as to what is the ttring which you yourself 
iiava knoft bttdgered and thirstcid for in the last 
term, but have not bett atfleto do to your mind. 

flotr Tb DO ft. 195 

T)e6ktiBe thfe fecliodl "t^ork ifitetfetefi SD badly. 
Some such thing, I have no dolibt, there is. You 
Wanted to niake sotne electwtype medals, as good 
as that first-l^te one that Muldait copied t^heu he 
lived in Paxton. Oi^ you want to make somfe 
plaster casts. Ot you want to read some par- 
ticular book or hooks. Or you want to use John's 
tool-box for some very definite and attractive pur- 
pose. Veiy well ; tkke this up also, for your indi- 
vidual or special business. The other is the busi- 
ness of the crowd; this is your avocation when 
you are away froiSi the crowd. I say away; I 
mean it is something you can do without having 
to huiit them up, and coax them to go on with 

Besides these, of course there is all the home 
life. You have the garden to work iU. You can 
help your mother wash the tea things. You can 
make cake, if you keep on the blind side of old 
Rosamond ; and so on. 

Thus are you triply aimed. Indfeed, I know no 
life which gets dn well, unless it had these three 
iaides, whel^er life with tiie others> life by yout- 

196 HOW TO DO IT. 

self^ or such life as may come without any plan 
or effort of your own. 

No ; I do not know which of these things you 
will choose, — perhaps you will choose none of 
them. But it is easy enough to see how fast a 
day of vacation will go by if you, Stephen, or you, 
Clara, have these several resources or determina- 

Here is the ground-plan of it, as I might steal 
it from Fanchon's journals : — 

"Tuesday. — Second day of vacation. Fair. 
Wind west. Thermometer sixty-three degrees, 
before breakfast. 

"Down stairs in time." [Mem. 1. Be careful 
about this. It makes much more disturbance in 
the household than you think for, if you are 
late to breakfast, and it sets back the day ter- 

" Wiped while Sarah washed. Herbert read us 
the new number of ' Tig and Tag,* while we did 
this, and made us scream, by acting it with Silas, 
behind the sofa and on the chairs. At nine, all 
was done, and we went up the pasture to Mont 

HOW TO DO IT. 197 

Blanc. Worked all the morning on the draw- 
hridge. We have got the two large logs into 
place, and have dug out part of th& trench. Home 
at one, quite tired." 

[Mem, 2. Mont Blanc is a great boulder, — part 
of a park of boulders, in the edge of the wood- 
lot Other similar rocks are named the "Jung- 
frau," because unclimbable, the "Aiguilles,** &c. 
This about the drawbridge and logs, readers will 
imderstand as well as I do.] 

'* Had just time to dress for dinner. Mr. links, 
or Lynch, was here ; a very interesting man, who 
has descended an extinct volcano. He is going 
to give me some Pele's hair. I think I shall 
make a museum. After dinner we all sat on the 
piazza some time, till he went away. Then I 
came up here, and fixed my drawers. I have 
moved my bed to the other side of the chamber. 
This gives me a great deal more room. Then I 
got out my palette, and washed it, and my colors. 
I am going to paint a cluster of grape-leaves for 
mamma's birthday. It is a great secret I had 
only got the things well out, when the Fosdicks 

^d^ S9W TQ. Da i^ 

c^m^,^ aoxd p;irQpo8e4 Y^ s^Qvld ali m^ over «i& 
tbepi t^ WQr({este[?^ wfe^r^ HqwJmi, the ju^^toe^ 
vas, Si^cJ^ % 9Ple|^ii4 ^iw© ^ vq have had! 
How he does some of the things I d^ not knom 
I trou^hJt l?A«ie a^ fl^ a]q4 t]u5%ft gre?^ pepper- 
n^ut^ {f>J{ P#. We 4^1 ^0% g^ti }^»xm tm. ^ear^^ 

lMeW(. 3- piis is pi'oto^ to^ foi^ jowig pe<>^ 
fid of your 9ge; 1^^, ^ Madama Boland audc^ 
a good deal has to -be p^nJQU^d to tba spirit ot 
lit^(Brty; and, 9a f a^ a^ I feliyQ Qfes»r¥«4> ia this 
1<ime, generally is.] 

Now if you will aiiajj^ ^^ ^ ^ jfmxmSt, 
you wiU a^, fiyst, ^l^^t th|^ da5^ i^ fijH of ijfhafc. 
Mf* P^oji^gh QaU% 

« The joy of eventful living." 

l^iat ^1 neY^r will j^^vq any^l oai^ Ic^ siajr 
s^ie is tirei of Jj^ v^iqps, if s^ qj^ gxmdt 
then^ in ttat faaJiiiojft. Yo^ ^ift Sfife^ 51^%. tt^ft!^, 
it i$ q^, i(j system^ ao4,, aft ^t haj^eiijsju^jr (^ tfee. 
systi^i]^ I |)ropo9!^d. fox you :«pp ^l^^e^^ %^ 

Haw TO DO re 199 

the drawbridge, and all that; there is the sepa- 
rate plan for Fanchon's self, of the water-color 
picture ; and, laajtly, tl^^re ia tJaej iiuplanned sur- 
render to the accident of the Fosdicks coming 
round to propose Houdin. 

Will yon ohiseiire, lastfy, thai Fmchoik is uot 
sdfiak in these matters, but leada a h&od where 
she finds an opp(arfcumty i 

200 HOW TO DO rr. 




HEN I was a very young man, I had 
occasion to travel two hundred miles 
down the vaUey of the Connecticut Eiver. I 
had just finished a delightful summer excursion 
in the service of the State of New Hampshire 
as a geologist, — and I left the other geological 
surveyors at HaverhilL 

I remembered John Ledyard. Do you, dear 
Young America ? John Ledyard, having deter- 
mined to leave Dartmouth College, built himself 
a boat, or digged for himself a canoe, and sailed 
down on the stream reading the Greek Testament, 
or " Plutarch's lives," I forget which, on the way. 

Here was I, about to go down the same river. 
I had ten dollars in my pocket, be the same more 
or less. Could not I buy a boat for seven, my 
provant for a week for three more, and so arrive 
in Springfield in ten days' time, go up to the 

HOW TO DO IT. 201 

Hardings' and spend the night, and go down to 
Boston, on a free pass I had, the next day? 

Had I heen as young as I am now, I should 
have done that thing. I wanted to do it then, 
but there were difficulties. 

First, whatever was to be done must be done 
at once. For, if I were delayed only a day at 
Haverhill, I should have, when I had paid my 
bill, but eight dollars and a half left. Then how 
buy the provant for three doUars, and the boat 
for six? 

So I went at once to the seaport or maritime 
district of that flourishing town, to find, to my 
dismay, that there was no boat, canoe, dug-out, 
or hatteau, — there was nothing. As I remember 
things now, there was not any sort of coflBn that 
would ride the waves in any sort of way. 

There were, however, many pundits, or learned 
men. They are a class of people I have always 
found in places or occasions where something 
besides learning was needed. They tried, as is 
the fashion of their craft, to make good the lack 
of boats by advice. 

99^ T<^ D(i 5|. 

:f irat, they p??v^d tjjat it wc^ld ^ye. \i^^^ o^ 
n(x i^Q li^d t\^Te b^^ auy bo^itgL SqQpnd, tii^ 
y^y^ th^. ^Q pnp ^ver ^iftd go»^ do]v^ %)m 
Haverhill p {^ 1^ ^ that reason ol th^ y^ar,^rr 
ergo, that no one ought to thiiJf pf going. Third, 
they g^v^^ w^^ I \ri^ y^ well before, that 
I coidd gp d.ova ^^cl^ qoiiqke? ixi th^ at^iga. 
Fpprth^ with aptpj^yn^ uijaniii^y they ^^reg^ 
that, ijf I woujd only go down ^ far ^ B{%aoY^ 

thei^ W^d 1^ ^i^lf0 <?f ^#? ^ % 4ver v^^t 
have more water in it ; I should be past this fi^ 
and that fall, tl^ ^^fld, ^d tl^t J^^id ; afid, in 
short, th^t, befpre the worlds. :^Qre, it se^m§4. E^. 
destined that I shflijld start fip^, ^jnovef . 

All this thpy sa^^ in t^ aed|CK5tiye ^j|y i^ 
Vhich a dry-gopds Q}ffck tell^. you thfit he ^9^ nft 
checked gbghapi, and ipk^ yoij think yoif ^^ % 
fool thjat yoi^ ask^d fpj cl^J^. gjwI'^araL; ttiat 
you i^ever shoul^ l^tye ai^^ Iga^b of a^, sl^9]i^ 
have asked him. 

So I left th^ beacl^. at ipayj^^hijl, di?c<?nf^^;^ 

folly, and, as I was bid, took V^§gj/^ ^ii^'^f^ 

mw TQ DQ. m 909 

gpa^ cpaph &r Hanayer, giving gorqbrst <^ Z 

I was c^lljed ia the Qioiiup^ I ini^ujited iim 
stag§-Qoa(^ and J. t}iink WQ caipQ tp Hwp^^ 
9l)piit hal£ pa§t teux, — mj fir^t^ wd laat viidt ^ tiiai 
sbrine of learning. I^retty hojb it was op Hx^ top 
of the cojBudi, aftd I was pi:^ty tired, and ^ gpod 
deal chafed as I saw from that eyij tbe loY^y,. qqqSI 
liver oil thQ ^ra.y ;it my side. I toofe Sfime qjHisge 
when. I 8aw White's cUgn ond Broil's (iajp, car 
Smifli'Q dean a»d Jones's <teni, oif whatey^?? the 
dams were, and^persuadec^ myself that it wan]4 
hftVQ been haid vork hgjulipg i;oimd th^nj. 

KatUess, I wa9 worn and vi^ee^ wJaei^ t aniy^ 
at BfenQVQr, and was UM ft^re T^^onld be aiji loQjjix 
brft>re th^ Trf^grajdi w^t forvsswL -^ga^ft { 
Ifnxiied to th^ isyti^n/d. 

This time I found a bo^fe 4. BPP5 craf^ it -^fti, 
but probably as good as Le^ard's. Let^, bj^ 
could be. caulksd Destitute of xowrlodjs,, but 
they could be m^a 

I fojaftdt 4^ oTO?Br» ¥ss, be wqiM aatt few. to 

h J } V J^ .-. 

V ^^ 

204 HOW TO DO IT. 

Perhaps he knew that she was not worth any- 
thing. But, with that loyalty to truth, not to say 
pride of opinion, which is a part of the true New- 
Englander's life, this- sturdy man said, frankly, 
that he did not want to sell her, because he did 
not think I ought to go that way. 

Vain for me to represent that that was my 
affair, and not his. 

Clearly he thought it was his. Did he think I 
was a boy who had escaped from parental care ? 

Perhaps. For at that age I had not this mus* 
tache or these whiskers. 

Had he, in the Laccadives Islands, some worth- 
less son who had escaped from home to go a 
whaling ? Did he wish in his heart that some 
other shipmaster had hindered him, as he now 
was hindering me ? Alas, I know not ! Only 
this I know, that he advised me, argued with me, 
iMty> hegged me not to go that way. I should get 
aground. I should be upset. The boat would be 
swamped. Much better go by the Telegraph. 

Dear reader, I was young in life, and I accepted 
the reiterated advice, and took the Tel^grapL It 

HOW TO DO rr. 205 

was one of about four prudent things which I 
have done in my life, which I can remember now, 
all of which I regret at this moment. 

Now, why did I give up a plan, at the solicita- 
tion of an utter stranger, which I had formed 
intelligently, and had looked forward to with 
pleasure ? Was I afraid of being drowned ? Not 
L Hard to drown in the upper Connecticut the 
boy who had, for weeks, been swimming three 
times a day in that river and in every lake or 
stream in upper or central New Hampshire. Was 
I afraid of wetting my clothes ? Not L Hard 
to hurt with water the clothes in which I had 
slept on the top of Mt. Washington, swam the 
Ammonoosuc, or sat out a thunder-shower on Mi 

Dear boys and girls, I was, by this time, afraid 
of myself. I was afraid of being alone. 

This is a pretty long text. But it is the text 
for this paper. You see I had had this four or 
five hours' pull down on the hot stage-coach. I 
had been conversing with myself all the time, 
and I had not found it the best of company. I 

20^ HOW XO I^ IX. 

Maybe it wou^d cost j^qif^ 4^d I yasr ^fi^ftiii 
that I should be yery tiw^ of it anpl pf. Qiyisfelf 
before tbQ tbii^g ^a^ doi^a So I luepkly ^tjipjed 
to the Telegraph, faintly tirie^ tl^e same experi- 
ment at Windspj;, foi? the last t^n^, and then took 
the Telegraph for tbp n^ht^ and brought ng next 
day at Greenfield. 

" Can I, pejrhaps, give som^ hi^s tq, yo^, boy§ 
and §irls, 3?rhich will saye you froj» snqh a mi^ 
tak§ as I made ttiep?" 

I do nqt pretend that you ^hould Qomt spjitwjp. 
That is aip. noi^nsQ, though thei:e is a good d^al 
of ijb in the boQ)$:s, as Uiere is of otbe^: pon^eps^ 
Yoi; a.T^ made for society, for cfjnverse, syn^gatljy, 
and communion. Tongues are made to t^l^ Gif^i 
ews aire made to listeif. Sp aj:e eyes wde to ^' 
Yet night faljs sometime?, when you cannot i^e, 
And, ag^ ypu ought not be afptid of ijoght, you 
ought not. be afraid of sojitude, whe^. yojf §?^Q^ 
taiik OT listen. 

TSThat is the^e,^ thp, t]tot ^e cp. df}. ^hgj^. 

90^ TO. JX^, «. M 

Mjmj tyngsf. 0{ wWch no^ ijt will Im Qi^^Pfi^ 
tp spe^ a little in (tetii^l of fiva W^ caoj, tl^iq]^ 
w^ can re^ we oan write,, w^ pan d^w, v^ cw 
^ing. Of these we wiE speak s^pars^^. Of 
t^Q rest I will say a word, and bp^diy mprse* 

First, ve cg^ think And tfeere are some 
places wlfere y® ^^^^ do nothing ds^ In a ra^- 
-^^ray carri^i^, for instance, oijt ^ r^^y 0^ ^ frosty 
day, you cannot s^ th$ country. If yojn 8^ 
without cprnpanioj^^ yo^ Ci^pnot talk, — ought nf^% 
indeed, taljc ijmch, if you Ijad thpift. You wgfet 
not read, be^caaiSQ reading in the traiiit put^ you? 
eyes out, sooner or later. You cannot "^tj^. 
And in mo^t kains thQ usages are sucdi t^at you 
Qannpt sing. Or, whe?^ t^ey siifg in tEain§f, the 
whole compi^^- generally ^g^ so th§bt rules for 
solitude np long^ WV^J- 

What c^ yoTj. do tjje^.? You cap tl^iik. 
Lejin^ to think c^ajefuUy, xegi;%ly, so fja to. 
tjiink with pleasure. 

I ]^w some young peopj^p, Tjdio ha^ *^o 9?^ 
threna s^a^tp ir^ggini^Ty livei?, ^M^lf^ tbpy tpcdj: 

208 HOW TO DO IT. 

in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Eoberfc 
used to plan the whole house and grounds ; just 
what horses he would keep, what hounds, what 
cows, and other stock. He planned all the 
neighbors* houses, and who should live in them. 
There were the Fairfaxes, very nice, but rather 
secesh; and the Sydneys, who had been loyal 
through and through. There was that plucky 
Frank Fairfax, and that pretty Blanche Sydney. 
Then there were riding parties, archery parties^ 
picnics on the river, expeditions to the Natural 
Bridge, and once a year a regular "meet" for a 
fox-hunt. _ 

"Springfield, twenty-five minutes for refresh- 
ments," says the conductor, and Eobert is left to 
take up his history some other time. 

It is a very good plan to have not simply 
stories on hand, as he had, but to be ready to 
take up the way to plan your garden, the ar- 
rangement of your books, the order of next' year's 
Beading Club, or any other truly good subjects 
which have been laid by for systematic thinking, 
the first time you are alone. Bear this in mind as 

HOW TO DO IT. 209 

you read. If you had been General Sullivan, at 
the battle of Brandywine, you are not quite cer- 
tain whether you would have done as he did. 
No. Well, then, keep that for a nut to crack the 
first time you have to be alone. What would 
you have done? 

This matter of being prepared to think is really 
a pretty important matter, if you find some night 
that you have to watch with a sick friend. You 
must not read, write, or talk there. But you must 
keep awake. Unless you mean to have the time 
pass dismally slow, you must have your regular 
topics to think over, carefully and squarely. 

An imaginary conversation, such as Madame 
de Genlis describes, is an excellent resource at 
such a time. . " , 

Many aad many a time, as I have been grinding 

along at night on some railway in the Middle 

States, when it was too early to sleep, and too 

late to look at the scenery, have I called into 

imaginary council a circle of the nicest people 

in the world. 

''Let me suppose," I would say to myself, "that 


21Q ^0W TO DO IS. 

WQ were all at Mia Tile^toix's in the fix)iit piirlo^ 
where the light falls so beautifully on th^ l^^^*: 
log face and shoulder of that Bacchai^t^. X/^t mf^ 
suppose that besides I^ilrs. Til^tpn, Edith w£^ 
there^ and Emily an4 Carrie and Halibustoii s^i 
Fred. Suppose just then the door-bell rang, a^d 
Mr. Char^ ^umner came up st^in^ ^e^ ^roon 
Washington. What should we all say and da?, 

" Why, of course we sho^hi be ^ad to see h^ 
and we should ask hii^i about Washington and tb^ 
Session, — what sort of ^ perspn 14<ly Bcucg ^s^ 
— and whether it was re%Uy true) th^t GeneiQl 
Butler said that bright thing about th^ Gpvernoc 
of Arkansas^ 

''And Mr. Sumner -^ould aoy th^t Cf^^ral 
Butler said a much better thing than th^t. "E^ 
said that m-m-m-mr-m — : 

" Then Mrs. Ti^toi^ would say, ' 0, 1 thought, 
that srs-s-e-s — * 

" Thj^ I should say, f Q no^ I I am wr% tbat$ 

U-Ur-U-U — , &c.* 

" Then Edith would laugh and say,. • Why, Vlc^ 
Mr. Qalcy. I m S3u;e t^ &p,, ^, &p., ^' '' 

HOW %0 DO m 211 

Yqu will finfl that the d^Tyiog out an inaagi* 
nary conversation, wh.erQ yoi^ really fill the^^ 
Idanks, and n^iako the remarks o( th^ diJGfer^t 
people in chjaractea:^ ^ a YjEsry good entertainment, 
— what we called very good fun when you and I 
were at siehQol,— ajad helps along tb^ hour^ of 
your watching or of yqifr travel greatly. 

Second, as I oaid, there i^ reading. Ijfqw X 
have already gone into some detail in this ntdic 
ter. Bi;t under the head, of spUtude, this ift to 
be added, that one i& oftei^ alone^ when he can 
read. And hooks^ of course,, are suph a lu;8:ury. 
But do you know tbalj if you expect tp be alonOi^ 
you had better ta]^e with you only books enough, 
and not too many ? It is an " embarr^sment of 
richies/* spmetiuj^es, to find yourself with too many 
books. You are tempted to lay dpwn o|ie and 
take up ap^Qther; jw are te^ipted tp skip and 
skim too mx|icb, 9Q that you really ^t the good 
of none of them. 

There is np time^ so good as the forced stopping- 
pl»p.e» of tr^Yd iqx mding ^^ the b^rd. heavy 
r^^^ding vWfib pustj fee dqngj^ Ijut Tyhich nfjhody 

212 HOW TO DO IT. 


wants to do. Here, for two years, I have been 
trying to make you read Gibbon, and you would 
not touch it at home. But if I had you in the 
mission-house at Mackinaw, waiting for days for 
a steamboat, and you had finished ''Blood and 
Thunder," and *' Sighs and Tears,'* and then found 
a copy of Gibbon in the house, I think you would 
go through half of it, at least, before the steamer 

Walter Savage Landor used to keep five books, 
and only five, by him, I have heard it said. When 
he had finished one of these, and finished it com- 
pletely, he gave it away, and bought another. I 
do not recommend that, but I do recommend the 
principle of thorough reading on which it is 
founded. Do not be fiddling over too many 
books at one time. 

Third, " But, my dear Mr. Hale, I get so tired, 
sometimes, of reading." Of course you do. Who 
does not ? I never knew anybody who did not 
tire of reading sooner or later. But you are alone, 
as we suppose. Then be all ready to write. Take 
care that your inkstand is filled as regularly as 

HOW. TO DO IT. 213 


the wash-pitcher on your washstand. Take care 
that there are pens and blotting-paper, and every- 
thing that you need. These should be looked to 
every day, with the same care with which every 
other arrangement of your room is made. JVben 
I come to make you that long-promised visit, and 
say to you, before my ttunk is open, " I want to 
write a note, Blanche," be all ready at the instant. 
Do not have to put a little water into the ink- 
stand, and to run down to papa's ofl&ce for some 
blotting-paper, and get the key to mamma's desk 
for some paper. Be ready to write for your life, 
at any moment, as Walter, there, is ready to ride 
for his. 

"Dear me ! Mr. Hale, I hate to write. What 

Do not say what Mr. Hale has told you, what- 
ever else you do. Say what you yourself may 
want to see hereafter. The chances are very small 
that anybody else, save some dear friend, will 
want to see what you write. 

But, of course, your journal, and especially your 
letters, are matters always new, for which the day 

2i4 HOW TO DO rir. 

iteelf ^ves plenty of subjects, and these two are 
an admirable regular resort when you are alone. 

As to drawing, no one can have a better draw- 
ing-teacher than himsett Eemember that. And 
whoever can learn to write can learn to draw. 
Of all the boys who have ever entered at the 
Worcester Technical School, it has proved that all 
could draw, and I think the same is true at West 
Point Keep your drawings, not to show to oth^r 
people, but to show yourself whether you are im- 
proving. And thank me, ten years hence, that I 
advised yon to do so. 

You do not expect me to go into detail as to 
the method in which you can teach yourself. 
This is, however, snre. If you will determine to 
learn to see things truly, you will begin to draw 
them truly. It is, for instance, almost never that 
the wheel of a damage really is rbund to your 
eye. It is round to your thought. But unless 
your eye is exactly opposite the hub of the wheel 
in the line of the axle> the #heel does not make 
a circle on the retina of your eye, and etight not 
to be rept^dsented by ia eirele m your drawing. 

^a# TO DO IT. 215 

Tb flmw well, the first resolution and the first 
duty is to *ee ^ell. Second, do not suppose that 
mere technical method has much te do with real 
success. Soft pencil rather than hard ; sepia rather 
than India ink. It h pure truth thistt tells in 
drawing, and that is what you can gain. Take 
perfectly simple objects, at a little distance, to 
begin with. Yes, the gate-posts at the garden 
gate are as good as anything. Draw the outline 
as accurately as you can, but remember there is 
no outline in nature, and that the outline in draw- 
ing is simply conventional; represent — which 
means present again, or re-present — the shadows 
as well as you can. Notice is the shadow under 
the cap of the post deeper than that of the side. 
Then let it be re-presented so on your paper. 
Do this honestly, as well as you can. Keep it to 
compare with what you do next week or next 
month. And if you have a chance to see a good 
draughtsman work, quietly watch him, and re- 
member. Do not hurry, nor try hard things at 
the beginning. Above aU, do not begin with 
large landscapes. 

216 HOW TO DO IT. 

As for singing, there is nothing that so lights 
up a whole house as the strain, through the open 
windows, of some one who is singing alone. We 
feel sure, then, that there is at least one person in 
that house who is well and is happy. 

HOW TO DO IT. 217 



T^ERHAPS I can fill a gap, if I say something 
"^ to young people about their habits in church- 
going, and in spending the hour of the church ser- 

When I was a boy, we went to school on week- 
days for four hours in the morning and three in 
the afternoon. We went to church on Sunday at 
about half past ten, and church "let out" at twelve. 
We went again in the afternoon, and the service 
was a little shorter. I knew and know precisely 
how much shorter, for I sat in sight of the clock, 
and bestowed a great deal too much attention on 
it But I do not propose to tell you that. 

Till I was taught some of the things which I 
now propose to teach you, this hour and a half 
in church seemed to me to correspond precisely 
to the four hours in school, — I mean it seemed 
just as long. The hour and twenty minutes of 

218 HOW TO DO IT. 

the aftemoon seemed to me to correspond pre- 
cisely with the three hours of aftemoon schooL 
After I learned some of these things, qhurch- 
going seemed to me very natural and simple, and 
the time I spent there was very short and very 
pleasant to me. 

I should say, then, that there are a great 
many reasonably good boys and girls, reasonably 
thoughtful, also, who find the confinement of a 
pew oppressive, merely because they do not 
know the best way to get the advantage of a 
service, which is really of profit to children as 
it is to grown-up people, — and which never has 
its full value as it does when children and grown 
people join together in it. 

Now to any young people who are reading this 
paper, and are thinking about their own habits 
in church, I should say very much what I should 
about swimming, or drawing, or gardening ; that, 
if the thing to be done is worth doing at aU, you 
want to do it with your very best power. You 
want to give yourself up to it, and get the very 
utmost from it 

HOW TO DO IT. 210 

You go to churcli, I will suppose, twice a day 
on Sunday. Is it not clearly best, then, to carry 
out to the very best the purpose with which you 
are there ? You are there to worship God. Steadily 
and simply determine that you wiU worship him, 
and you wiU not let such trifles distract you as 
often do distract people from this purpose. 

What if the door does creak ? what if a dog 
does bark near by ? what if the horses outside do 
neigh or stamp ? You do not mean to confess 
that you, a child of God, are going to submit to 
dogs, or horses, or creaking doors ! 

If you will give yourself to the service with all 
your heart and soul, — with all your might, as a 
boy does to his batting or his catching at base- 
ball ; if, when the congregation is at prayer, you 
determine that you will not be hindered in your 
prayer; or, when the time comes for singing, 
tliat you will not be hindered from joining in 
the singing with voice or with heart, — why, you 
can do so. I never heard of a good fielder in 
base-ball missing a fly because a dog barked, or a 
horse neighed, on the outside of the ball-ground. 

220 HOW TO DO IT. 


If I kept a high school, I would call together 
the school once a month, to train all hands in 
the habits requisite for listeners in public assem- 
blies. They should be taught that just as row- 
ers in a boat-race row and do nothing else, — as 
soldiers at dress parade present arms, shoulder 
arms, and the rest, and do nothing else, no mat- 
ter what happens, during that half-hour, — that 
so, when people meet to listen to an address or 
to a concert they should listen, and do nothing 

It is perfectly easy for people to get control 
and keep control of this habit of attentioa If I 
had the exercise I speak of, in a high school, 
the scholars should be brought together, as I 
say, and carried through a series of discipline in 
presence of mind. 

Books, resembling hymn-books in weight and 
size, should be dropped from galleries behind 
them, till they were perfectly firm under such 
scattering fire, and did not look round ; squeak- 
ing doUs, of the size of large children, should be 
led squeaking down the passages of the school- 

HOW TO DO IT. 221 

Toom, and other strange objects should be intro- 
duced, until the scholars were all proof, and did 
not turn towards them once. Every one of those 
scholars would thank me afterwards. 

Think of it You give a dollar, that you may 
hear one of Thomas's concerts. How little of 
your money's worth you get, if twenty times, as 
the concert goes on, you must turn roimd to see if 
it was Mrs. Grundy who sneezed, or Mr. Bundy ; 
or if it was Mr. Golightly or Mrs. Heavyside who 
came in too late at the door. And this attention 
to what is before you is a matter of habit and 
discipline. You should determine that you will 
only do in church what you go to church for, 
and adhere to your determination xmtil the habit 
is formed. 

If you find, as a great many boys and girls do, 
that the sermon in church comes in as a stum- 
bling-block in the way of this resolution, that you 
cannot fix your attention steadily upon it, I recom- 
mend that you try taking notes of it. I have never 
known this to fail 

It is not necessary to do this in short-hand. 

222 HOW TO DO IT. 

though that is a very charming accomfdishmeni. 
Any one of you can teach himself how to write 
short-hand^ and there is no better practice than 
you can make for yourself at church in taking 
notes of sermons. 

But supposing you cannot write short-hand. 
Take a little book with stiff covers, such as you 
can put in your pocket. The reporters use books 
of ruled paper, of the length of a school writing- 
book, but only two or three inches wide, and open- 
ing at the end. That is a very good shape. Then 
you want a pencil or two cut sharp before you go 
to church. You wiU learn more easily what you 
want to write than I can teach you. You cannot 
write the whole, even of the shortest sentence, 
without losing part of the next But you can 
write the leading ideas, perhaps the leading words. 

When you go home you will find you have 
a " skeleton," as it is called, of the whole sermon. 
And, if you want to profit by the exercise, you 
may very well spend an hour of the afternoon in 
writing out in neat and finished form a sketch 
of some one division of it 

HOW TO DO IT. 223 

But, even if you do nothing with the notes 
after you come home, you will find hat they 
have made the sermon very short for you ; that 
you have been saved from sleepiness, and that 
you afterwards remember what the preacher 
said, with unusual distinctness. You will also 
graduaUy gain a habit of Ustening, with a view 
to remembering; noticing specially the course 
and train of the argument or of the statement of 
any speaker. 

Of course I need not say that in church you 
must be reverent in manner, must not disturb 
others, and must not occupy yourself intentionally 
with other people's dress or demeanor. If you really 
meant or wanted to do these things, you would not 
be reading this paper. 

But it may be worth while to say that even 
children and other young people may remember to 
advantage that they form a very important part 
of the congregation. If, therefore, the "custom of 
worship where you are arranges for responses to 
be read by the people, you, who are among the 
people, are to respond. If it provides for congre- 

224 HOW TO DO IT. 

gational singing, and you can sing the tune, you 
are to sing. It is certain that it requires the 
people all to be in their places when the service 
begins. That you can do as well as the oldest of 

When the service is ended, do not huny away. 
Do not enter into a wild and useless competition 
with the other boys as to which shall leap off 
the front steps the soonest upon the grass of the 
churchyard. You can arrange much better races 

When the benediction is over, wait a minute in 
your seat ; do not look for your hat and gloves till 
it is over, and then quietly and without jostling 
leave the church, as you might pass from one room 
of your father's house into another, when a large 
number of his friends were at a great party. That 
is precisely the condition of things in which you 
are all together. 

Observe, dear children, I am speaking only of 
habits of outside behavior at church. I inten- 
tionally turn aside from speaking of the com- 
munion with God, to which the church wiU help 

HOW TO DO IT. 225 

you, and the help from your Saviour which the 
church will make real These are very great 
blessings, as I hope you will know. Do not run 
the risk of losing them by neglecting the lit- 
tle habits of concentrated thought and of devout 
and simple behavior which may make the hour in 
church one of the shortest and happiest hours of 
the week. 


226 EK)w TO 4)0 rr. 



rriHERE is a good deal of the life of boys and 
-*- girls which passes when they are with other 
boys and girls, and involves some difficulties with 
a great many pleasures, all its own. It is gen- 
erally taken for granted that if the children are 
by themselves, all will go weU. And if you 
boys and gurls did but know it, many very com- 
plimentary things are said about you in this veiy 
matter. "Children do understand each other so 
well" '^ Children get along so well with each 
other/* " I feel quite relieved when the children 
find some companions." This sort of thing is said 
behind the children's backs at the very moment 
when the same children, quite strangers to each 
other, are wishing that they were at home them- 
selves, or at least that these sudden new com- 
panions were. 
There is a well-studied picture of this mixed- 

HOW^O DO IT. 227 

up life of boys and girls with other boys and girls 
who are quite strangers to them in the end of Miss 
Edgeworth's " Sequel to Frank," — a book which I 
cannot- get the young people to read as much as 
I wish they would. And I do not at this moment 
remember any other sketch of it in fiction quite 
so well managed, with so little overstatement, and 
mth so much real good sense which children may 
remember to advantage. 

Of course, in the first place, you are to do as 
you would be done by. But, when you have said 
this, a question is still involved, for you do not 
know for a moment how you would be done by ; 
or if you do know, you know simply that you 
would like to be let off from the company of 
these new-found friends. "If I did as I would 
be done by," said Clara, ''I should turn round 
and walk to the other end of the piazza, and I 
should leave the whole party of these strange 
girls alone. I was having a very good time 
without them, and I dare say they would have 
a better time without me. But papa brought 
m6 to them, and said their fathet was in college 

228 HOW T(S%0 IT. 

with him, and that he wanted that we should 
know each other. So I could not do, in that case, 
exactly as I would be done by without displeasing 
papa, and that would not be doing to him at all 
as I would be done by." 

The English of all this is, my dear Clara, 
that in that particular exigency on the piazza at 
Newbury you had a nice book, and you would 
have been glad to be left alone; nay, at the 
bottom of your heart, you would be glad to be 
left alone a good deal of your life. But you do 
not want to be loft alone all your life. And 
if your father had taken you to Old Point Com- 
fort for a month, instead of Newbury, and you 
were as much a stranger to the ways there as this 
shy Lucy Percival is to our Northern ways at 
Newbury, you would be very much obliged to 
any nice Virginian girl who swallowed down her 
dislike of Yankees in general, and came and wel- 
comed you as prettily as, in fact, you did the Per- 
civals when your father brought you to thenL 
The doing as you would be done by requires a 
study of all the conditions, not of the mere out- 
side accident of the moment. 

HOW » DO IT. 22s/ 

The direction familiarly given is that We should 
meet strangers half-way. But I do not find that 
this wholly answers. These strangers may be 
represented by globules of quicksilver, or, in- 
deed, of water, on a marble table. Suppose you 
pour out two little globules of quicksilver at 
each of two points • • like these two. Sup- 
pose you make the globules just so large that they 
meet half-way, thus, 00. At the points where 
they touch they only touch. It even seems as 
if there were a little repulsion, so that they 
shrink away from each other. But, if you will 
enlarge one of the drops never so little, so that 
it shall meet the other a very little beyond half- 
way, why, the two will gladly run together into 
one, and will even forget that they ever have been 
parted. That is the true rule for meeting stran- 
gers. Meet them a little bit more than half-way. 
You will find in life that the people who do this 
are the cheerful people, and happy, who get the 
most out of society, and, indeed, are everywhere 
prized and loved. All this is worth saying in 
a book published in Boston, Jt{|g|9(m||^=iittl«:^ng- 

/'^^^ or "xii' ' M x 

'^ or rii ' 


»* .5 

230 HOW T* DO Tt. 

landers inherit a great deal of the English shy- 
ness, — ivhich the French call " manvaise honte," 
or " bad shame/* — and they need to be cautious 
particularly to meet strangers a little more than 
half-way. Boston people, in particular, are said 
to suffer from the habits of " distance " or " re- 

" But I am sure I do not know what to say to 
them,*' says Eobert, who with a good deal of diffi- 
culty has been made to read this paper thus far. 
My dear Bob, have I said that you must talk to 
them ? I knew you pretended that you could not 
talk to people, though yesterday, when I was 
trying to get my nap in the hammock, I certainly 
heard a great deal of rattle from somebody wha 
was fixing his boat with Clem Waters in the 
woodhouse. But I have never supposed that you 
were to sit in agreeable conversation about the 
weather, or the opera, with these strange boys and 
girls. Nobody but prigs would do that, and I am 
glad to say you are not a prig. But if you were 
turned in on two or three boys as Clara was oh 
the Percival gids, a good thing to say would h^. 

HOW Tt DO m 231 

"Would you like to go in swimming ? ** ot "How 
would you like to see us clean our fish ? " or " I 
am going up to set snares for rabbits ; how would 
you like to go ? " Give them a piece of youiselfl 
That is what I mean by meeting more than half- 
way. Frankly, honorably, without unfair reserve, 
— which is to say, like a gentleman, — share with 
these strangers some part of your own life which 
makes you happy. Clara, there, will do the 
same thing. She will take these girls to ride, or 
she will teach them how to play " copack," or she 
will tell them about her play of the "Sleeping 
Beauty," and enlist some of them to take parts. 
This is what I mean by meeting people more than 

It may be that some of the chances of life 
pitchfork in upon you and your associates a bevy 
of little children smaller than yourselves, whom 
you are expected to keep an eye upon. This is a 
much severer trial of your kindness, and of your 
good sense also, than the mere introduction to 
strange boys and girls of your own age. Little 
chiltben seam vary exacting. They are not so to 

232 HOW TO DO rr. 

a person who understands how to manage them. 
But very likely you do not imderstand, and, 
whether you do or do not, they require a constant 
eye. You will find a good deal to the point in 
Jonas's directions to RoUo, and in Beechnut's 
directions to those children in Vermont ; and per- 
haps in what Jonas and Beechnut did with the 
boys and girls who were hovering round them 
all the time you will find more light than in their 
directions. Children, particularly little children, 
are very glad to be directed, and to be kept even 
at work, if they are in the company of older per- 
sons, and think they are working with them. 
Jonas states it thus : '^ Boys will do any amount 
of work if there is somebody to plan for them, 
and they will like to do it." K there is any un- 
dertaking of an afternoon, and you find tihat there 
is a body of the younger children who want to be 
with you who are older, do not make them and 
yourselves unhappy by rebuking them for "tag- 
ging after" you. Of course they tag after you. 
At their age you were glad of such improving com- 
pany as yours is. It has made you what you aze. 

HOW TO DO IT. 233 

Instead of scolding them, then, just avail your- 
selves of their presence, and make the occasion 
comfortable to them, by giving them some occupa- 
tion for their hands. See how cleverly Fanny is 
managing down on the beach with those four little 
imps. Fanny really wants to draw, and she has 
her water-colors, and Edward Holiday has his and 
is teaching her. And these four children from 
the hotel have " tagged " down after her. You 
would say that was too bad, and you would 
send them home, I am afraid. Fanny has not 
said any such thing. She has " accepted the posi- 
tion," and made herself queen of it, as she is 
apt to do. She showed Reginald, first of all, how 
to make a rainbow of pebbles, — violet pebbles, 
indigo pebbles, blue pebbles, and so on to red 
ones. She explained that it had to be quite large 
so as to give the good effect. In a minute EUen 
had the idea and started another, and then little 
Jo began to help Ellen, and Phil to help Rex. 
And there those four children have been tramp- 
ing back and forth over the beach for an hour, 
bringing and sorting and arranging colored peb- 

234 ' HOW TO DO IT. 

bles, while Edward and Fanny have gone on 
quietly with their drawing. 

In short, the great thing with children, as with 
grown people, is to give them something to do. 
You can take a child of two years on your knee, 
while there is reading aloud, so that the company 
hopes for silence. WeU, if you only tell that 
child to be stiU,he will be wretched in one minute, 
and in two will be on the floor and rushing wildly 
all round the room. But if you will take his 
little plump hand and " pat a cake " it on yours, or 
make his little fat fingers into steeples or letters 
or rabbits, you can keep him quiet without say- 
ing a single word for half an hour. At the end of 
the most tiresome railway journey, when every- 
body in the car is used up, the children most of 
all, you can cheer up these poor tired little things 
who have been riding day and night for six days 
from Pontchatrain, if you will take out a pair of 
scissors and cut out cats and dogs and dancing- 
girls from the newspaper or from the back of a 
letter, and will teach them how to parade them 
along on the velvet c^ the car. Indeed, I am not 

HOW TO DO IT. 235 

quite sure bnt you will aitertain jrourseK as 
much as any of them. 

In any acting of charades, any arrangement of 
tableaux vivans, or similar amusements, you will 
always find that the little children are well 
pleased, and, indeed, are fully satisfied, if they also 
can be pressed into the service as " slaves " or " sol- 
diers," or, as the procession-makers say, " citizens 
generally," or what the stage-managers call super- 
numeraries. They need not be intnisted with 
*' speaking parts" ; it is enough for them to know 
that they are recognized as a part of the company. 

I do not think that I enjoy anything more than 
I do watching a birthday party of children who 
have known each other at a good Kinder-Garten 
school like dear Mrs. Heard's. Instead of sitting 
wearily around the sides of the room, with only 
such variations as can be rendered by a party of 
rude boys playing tag up and down the stairs and 
in the hall, these children, as soon as four of them 
arrive, begin to play some of the games they have 
been used to playing at school, or branch off into 
other games which neither school nor recess has 

236 HOW TO DO IT. 

all the appliances for. This is because these chil- 
dren are trained together to associate with each 
other. The misfortune of most schools is that, 
to preserve the discipline, the children are trained 
to have nothing to do with each other, and it is 
only at recess, or in going and coming, that they 
get the society which is the great charm and only 
value of school life. In college, or in any good 
academy, things are so managed that young men 
study together when they choose ; and there is no 
better training. In any way you manage it, bring 
that about. If the master will let you and Sachel 
sit on the garden steps while you study the Te- 
lemachus, — or if you, Robert and Horace, can 
go up into the beKry and work out the Algebra 
together, it will be better for the Telemachus, bet- 
ter for the Algebra, and much better for you. 

HOW TO DO IT. 237 



TTAVE you ever read Amyas Leigh ? Amyas 
-^ — ■- Leigh is an historical novel, written by 
Charies Kingsley, an English author. His object, 
or one of his objects, was to extol the old system 
of education, the system which trained such men 
as Walter Raleigh and Philip Sidney. 

The system was this. When a boy had grown 
up to be fourteen or fifteen years old, he was sent 
away from home by his father to some old friend 
of his father, who took him into his train or com- 
pany for whatever service or help he could render. 
And so, of a sudden, the boy found himself con- 
stantly in the company of men, to learn, as he 
could, what they were doiDg, and to become a 
man himself under their contagion and sympa- 

We have abandoned this system. We teach 
boys and girls as much from books as we can, and 

238 HOW TO DO IT. 

we give them all the fewer chances to learn from 
people or from life. 

None the less do the boys and girls meet men 
and women. And I think it is well worth our 
while, in these papers, to see how much good and 
how much pleasure they can get from the com- 

I reminded you, in the last chapter, of Jonas 
and Beechnut's wise advice about little children. 
Do you remember what Jonas told Eollo, when 
Eollo was annoyed because his father would not 
take him to ride ? That instruction belongs to our 
present subject. Eollo was very fond of riding 
with his father and mother, but he thought he did 
not often get invited, and that, when he invited 
himself, he was often refused. He confided in 
Jonas on the subject. Jonas told him substan- 
tially two things : First, that his father would not 
ask him any the more often because he teased bim 
for an invitation. The teazing was in itself wrong, 
and did not present him in an agreeable light to 
his father and mother, who wanted a pleasant com- 
panion, if they wanted any. This was the first 

HOW TO DO IT. 239 

thing. The second was that Eollo did, not make 
himseK agreeable when he did ride. He soon 
wanted water to drink. Or he wondered when 
they should get home. Or he complained because 
the sun shone in his eyes. He made what the 
inn-keeper called " a great row generally," and so 
when his father and mother took their next ride, 
if they wanted rest and quiet, they were very apt 
not to invite him. Eollo took the hint. The next 
time he had an invitation to ride, he remembered 
that he was the invited party, and bore himself 


accordingly. He did not " pitch in " in the con- 
versation. He did not obtrude his own affairs. 
He answered when be was spoken to, listened 
when he was not spoken to, and found that he 
was well rewarded by attending to the things 
which interested his father and mother, and to the 
matters he was discussing with her. And so it 
came about that Eollo, by not offering himself 
again as captain of the party, became a frequent 
and a favorite companion. 

Now in that experience of Eollo*s there is in- 
volved a good deal of the philosophy of the inter- 

240 HOW TO DO IT. 

course between young people and their elders. 
Yes, I know what you are saying, Theodora and 
George, just as well as if I heard you. You are 
saying that you are sure you do not want to go 
among the old folks, — certainly you shall not go 
if you are not wanted. But I wish you to observe 
that sometimes you must go among them, whether 
you want to or not ; and if you must, there are 
two things to be brought about, — first, that you 
get the utmost possible out of the occasion; 
and, second, that the older people do. So, if you 
please, we will not go into a huff about it, but 
look the matter in the face, and see if there 
is not some simple system which governs the 

Do you remember perhaps, George, the first time 
you found out what good reading there was in 
men's books, — that day when you had sprained 
your ankle, and found Mayne Eeid palled a lit- 
tle bit, — when I brought you Lossing's Field-Book 
of the Revolution, as you sat in the wheel-chair, 
and you read away upon that for hours ? Do you 
remember how, when you were getting well, you 

HOW TO DO IT. 241 

used to limp into my room, and I let you hook 
down books with the handle of your crutch, so 
that you read the English Parrys and Captain 
Back, and then got hold of my great Schoolcraft 
and Catlin, and finally improved your French a 
good deal, before you were well, on the thirty- 
nine volumes of Gramier's " Imaginary Voyages " ? 
You remember that? So do I. That was your 
first experience in grown-up people's books, — 
books that are not written down to the supposed 
comprehension of children. Now there is an ex- 
perience just like that open to each of you, The- 
odora and George, whenever you will choose to 
avail yourselves of it in the society of grown-up 
people, if you will only take that society simply 
and modestly, and behave like the sensible boy 
and girl that you really are. 

Do not be tempted to talk among people who 
are your elders. Those horrible scrapes that Frank 
used to get into, such as Hsury once got into, arose, 
like most scrapes in this world, from their want 
of ability to hold their tongues. Speak when you 
are spoken to, not till then^ and then get off 


242 HOW TO DO IT. 

with as little talk as you can. After the second 
French revolution, my young friend Walter used 
to wish that there might be a third, so that he 
might fortunately be in the gallery of the revolu- 
tionary convention just when everything came to 
a dead lock ; and he used to explain to us, as we 
sat on the parallel bars together at recess, how he 
would just spring over the front of the gallery, 
swing himseK across to the canopy above the 
Speaker's seat, and slide down a column to the 
Tribune, there "where the orators speak, you 
know," and how he would take advantage of 
the surprise to address them in their own lan- 
guage ; how he would say **Frangais, — mesfrhres " 
(which means. Frenchmen, — brothers); and how, 
in such strains of burning eloquence, he would set 
all right so instantaneously that he would be pro- 
claimed Dictator, placed in a carriage instantly, and 
drawn by an adoring and grateful people to the 
Palace of the Tuileries, to live there for the rest 
of his natural life. It was natural for Walter to 
think he could do all that if he got the chance. But 
I remember, in planning it out, he never got much 

HOW TO DO IT. 243 

beyond " Francis, — mes frhresl' and in forty 
years this summer, in which time four revolu- 
tions have taken place in France, Walter haa 
never found the opportunity. It is seldom, 
very seldom, that in a mixed company it is 
necessary for a boy of sixteen, or a girl of fifteen, 
to get the others out of d difl&culty. You may 
bum to interrupt, and to cry out "Frangais, — rties 
fr^res" but you had better bite your tongue, and 
sit stilL Do not explain that Rio Janeiro is the 
capital of BraziL In a few minutes it will appear 
that they all knew it, though they did not mention 
it, and, by your waiting, you will save yourseK 
horrible mortification. 

Meanwhile you are learning things in the nicest 
way in the world. Do not you think that Amyas 
Leigh enjoyed what he learned of Guiana and the 
Orinoco River much more than you enjoy aU you 
have ever learned of it ? Yes. He learned it all 
by going there in the company of Walter Ralqigh 
and sundry other such men. Suppose, George, 
that you could get the engineers, Mr. Bumell and 
Mr. Philipson, to take you with them when they 

244 QOW TO DO IT. 

ran the new railroad line^ this summer, through 
the passes of the Adirondack Monntains. Do you 
not think you shall enjoy that more even than 
reading Mr. Murray's book, {ai more than studying 
levelling and surveying in the first class at the 
High School Get a chance to carry chain for 
them, if you can. No matter if you lose at school 
two medals, three diplomas, and four double pro- 
motions by your absence. Come round to me 
some afternoon, and I will tell you in an hour all 
the school-boys learned while you were away in 
the mountains ; all, I mean, that you cannot make 
up in a well-used month after your return. 

And please to remember this, all of you, though 
it seems impossible. Eemember it as a fact, even 
tf you cannot account for it, that though we all 
seem so old to you, just as if we were dropping 
into our graves, we do not, in practice, feel any 
older than we did when we were sixteen. True, 
we have seen the folly of a good many things 
which you want to see the folly of We do not, 
therefore, in practice, sit on the rocks in the spray 
quite so near to the water as you do ; and we go 

HOW TO DO IT. 245 

to bed a little earlier, even on moonlight nights. 
This is the reason that, when the whole merry 
party meet at breakfast, we are a little more apt 
to be in our places than — some young people I 
know. But, for all that, we do not feel any older 
than we did when we were sixteen. We enjoy 
building with blocks as well, and we can do it a 
great deal better; we like the "Arabian Nights" 
just as well as we ever did ; and we can laugh at 
a good charade quite as loud as any of you can. 
So you need not take it on yourselves to suppose 
that because you are among "old people," — by 
which you mean married people, — all is lost, and 
that the hours are to be stupid and forlorn,. .The 
best series of parties, lasting year in and out, that 
I have ever known, were in Worcester, Massachti- 
setts, where old and young people associated to- 
gether more commonly and frequently than in 
any other town I ever happened to live in, and 
where, for that very reason, society was on the 
best footing. I have seen a boy of twelve take 
a charming lady, three times his age, down Pearl 
Street on his sled. And I have ridden in a riding 

246 H(^ TO DO IT. 

party to. Paradise with twenty other horsemen an:d 
with twenty-one horsewomen, of whom tiie young- 
est, Theodora, was younger than you are, and quite 
as pretty, and the oldest very likely was a judge 
on the Supreme Bench. I will not say that she 
did not like to have one of the judges ride up and 
talk with her quite as well as if she had been left 
to Ferdinand Fitz-Mortimer. I will say that some 
of the Fitz-Mortimer tribe did not ride as well as 
they did ten years after. 

Above all, dear children, work out in life the 
problem or the method by which you shall be a 
great deal with your father and your mother. 
There is no joy in life like the joy you can have 
with them. Fun or learning, sorrow or jollity, you 
can share it with them as with nobody beside. 
You are just like your father, Theodora, and you, 
Greorge, I see your mother's face in you as you 
stand behind the bank coimter, and I wonder 
what you have done with your curls. I say 
you are just like. I am tempted to say you 
are the same. And you can and you will draw 
in from them notions and knowledges, lights 


HOW TO DO jr. 


on life, and impulses and directions which no 
books will ever teach you, and which it is a 
shame to work out from long experience, when 
you can — as you can — have them as your birth- 




213 HOW TO DO IT. 



X HAVE devoted two chapters of this book to 
"^ the matter of Eeading, speaking of the selec- 
tion of books and of the way to read them. But 
since those papers were first printed, I have had 
I know not how many nice notes from young peo^ 
pie, in all parts of this land, asking all sorts of ad- 
ditional directions. Where the matter has seemed 
to me private or local, I have answered them in 
private correspondence. But I believe I can bring 
together, under the head of "Habits of Eeading," 
some additional notes, which will at least rein- 
force what has been said already, and will perhaps 
give clearness and detail 

All young people read a good deal, but I do not 
see that a great deal comes of it. They think 
they have to read a good many newspapers and a 
good many magazines. These are entertaining, — 
they are very entertaining. But it is not always 

HOW TO DO IT. 249 

certain that the reader gets from them just what 
he needs. On the other hand, it is certain that 
people who only read the current newspapers and 
magazines get very little good from each other's 
society, because they are all fed with just the 
same intellectual food. You hear them repeat to 
each other the things they have all read in the 
" Daily Trumpet," or the " Saturday Woodpecker." 
In these things, of course, there can be but little 
variety, all the Saturday Woodpeckers of the 
same date being very much like each other. 
When, therefore, the people in the same circle 
meet each other, their conversation cannot be 
called very entertaining or very improving, if 
this is all they have to draw upon. It reminds 
one of the pictures in people's houses in the days 
of " Art Unions." An Art Union gave you, once 
a year, a very cheap engraving. But it gave the 
same engraving to everybody. So, in every house 
you went to, for one year, you saw the same men 
dancing on a flat-boat. Then, a year after, you 
saw Queen Mary signing Lady Jane Grey's death- 
warrant. She kept signing it all the time. You 

250 HOW TO DO IT. 


might make seventeen visits in an afternoon. 
Everywhere you saw her signing away on that 
death-warrant. You came to be very tired of the 
death-warrant and of Queen Mary. Well, that is 
much the same way in which seventeen people 
improve each other, who have all been reading 
the " Daily Trumpet " and the " Saturday Wood- 
pecker/* and have read nothing beside. 

I see no objection, however, to light reading, 
desultoiy reading, the reading of newspapers, or 
the reading of fiction, if you take enough ballast 
with it, so that these light kites, as the sailors 
call them, may not carry your ship over in some 
sudden gale. The principle of sound habits of 
reading, if reduced to a precise rule, comes out 
thus: That for each hour of light reading, of 
what we read for amusement, we ought to take 
another hour of reading for instruction. Nor have 
I any objection to stating the same rule backward ; 
for that is a poor rule that will not work both 
ways. It is, I think, true, that for every hour we 
give to grave reading, it is well to give a corre- 
sponding hour to what is light and amusiog. 

HOW TO DO IT. 251 

Now a great deal more is possible under this 
rule than you boys and girls think at first Some 
of the best students in the world, who have ad- 
vanced its affairs farthest in their particular lines, 
have not in practice studied niore than two hours 
a day. Walter Scott, except when he was goaded 
to death, did not work more. Dr. Bowditch trans- 
lated the great MScanique CSleste in less than two 
hours' daily labor. I have told you already of 
George livermore. But then this work was regu- 
lar as the movement of the planets which Dr. 
Bowditch and La Place described. It did not stop 
for whim or by accident, more than Jupiter stops 
in his orbit because a holiday comes round. 

" But what in the world do you suppose Mr. 
Hale means by 'grave reading,* or 'improving 
reading ' ? Does he mean only those stupid books 
that ' no gentleman's library should be without ' ? 
I suppose somebody reads them at some time, or 
they would not be printed ; but I am sure I do 
not know when or where or how to begin." 
This is what Theodora says to Florence, when 
they have read thus far. 

252 HOW TO DO IT. 

Let VLB see. In the first place> you are not, 
all of you, to attempt everything. Do one thing 
well, and read one subject well; that is much 
better than reading ten subjects shabbily and 
carelessly. What is your subject ? It is not hard 
to find that out. Here you* are, living perhaps on 
the very road on which the English troops marched 
to Lexington and Concord. In one of the beams 
of the bam there is a hole made by a musket-ball, 
which was fired as they retreated. How much do 
you know of that march of theirs ? How much 
have you read of the accounts that were written 
of it the next day? Have you ever read Ban- 
croft's account of it? or Botta's? or Frothing- 
ham*s ? There is a large book, which you can 
get at without much difficulty, called the " Amer- 
ican Archives." The Congress of this country 
ordered its preparation, at immense expense, that 
you and people like you might be able to study, 
in detail, the early history in the original docu- 
ments, which are reprinted there. In that book 
you will find the original accounts of the battle 
as they were published in the next issues of the 

HOW TO DO IT. 253 

Massachusetts newspapers. You will find the 
official reports written home by the English offi- 
cers. You will find the accounts published by 
order of the Provincial Congress. When you 
have read these, you begin to know something 
about the battle .of Lexington. 

Then there are such books as General Heath's 
Memoirs, written by people who were in the bat- 
tle, giving their account of what passed, and how 
it was done. If you really want to know about a 
piece of history which transpired in part under 
the windows of your house, you will find you 
can very soon bring together the improving and 
very agreeable solid reading which my rule de- 

Perhaps you do not live by the road that leads 
to Lexington. Everybody does not. Still you 
live somewhere, and you live next to something. 
As Dr. Thaddeus Harris said to me (Yes, Harry, 
the same wh# made your insect-book), "If you 
have nothing else to study, you can study the 
mosses and lichens hanging on the logs on the 
woodpile in the woodhouse." Try that winter 

254 HOW TO DO rr. 

botany. Observe for yourself, and bring together 
the books that will teach you the laws of growth 
of those wonderful plants. At the end of a win- 
ter of such careful study I believe you could have 
more knowledge of God*s work in that realm of 
nature than any man in America now has, if I 
except perhaps some five or six of the most dis' 
tinguished naturalists. 

I have told you about making your own index 
to any important book you reetd. I ought to have 
advised you somewhere not to buy many books. 
If you are reading in books from a library, never, 
as you are a decently well-behaved boy or girl, 
never make any sort of mark upon a page which 
is not your own. All you need, then, for your 
index, is a little page of paper, folded in where 
you can use it for a book-mark, on which you 
will make the same memorandum which you 
would h^tve made on the fly-leaf^ were the book 
your own. In tins case you will li^p these mem- 
orandum pages together in your scrap-book, so 
that you can easily find them. And if, as is 
very likely, you have to refer to the book after- 

HOW TO DO IT. 255 

ward, in another edition, you will be glad if your 
first reference has been so precise that you can 
easily find the place, although the paging is 
changed. John Locke's rule is this : Eefer to 
the page, with another reference to the num- 
ber of pages in the volume. At the same time 
tell how many volumes there are in the set you 
use. You would enter Charles II.'s escape from 
England, as described in the Pictorial History of 
England, thus : — 

" Charles II. escapes after battle of Worcester. 

« Pictorial Hist. Eng. gl. Vol. |" 

You will have but little difficulty in finding 
your place in any edition of the Pictorial History, 
if you have made as careful a reference as this is. 

My own pupils, if I may so call the young 
friends who read with me, wiU laugh when they 
see the direction that you go to the original au- 
thorities whenever you can do so. For I send 
them on very l|*rd-working tramps, that they may 
find the original authorities, and perhaps they 
think that I am a little particular about it Of 
course, it depends a good deal on what your cir- 

256 HOW TO DO IT. 

cumstances are, whether you can go to the origi- 
nals. But if you are near a large library, the 
sooner you can cultivate the habit of looking in the 
original writers, the more will you enjoy the study 
of history, of biography, of geography, or of any 
other subject. It is stupid enough to learn at 
school, that the Bay of God's Mercy is in K Lati- 
tude 73^ W. Longitude 117®. But read Captain 
McClure''s account of the way the Eesolute ran 
into the Bay of God*s Mercy, and what good rea- 
son he had for naming it so, and I think you will 
never again forget where it is, or look on the 
words as only the answer to a stupid " map ques- 

I was saying very much what I have been 
writing, last Thursday, to Ella, with whom I had 
a nice day's sail ; and she, who is only too eager 
about her reading and study, said she did not 
know where to begin. She felt her ignorance so 
terribly about every separate thing that she 
wanted to take hold everywhere. - She had been 
reading Lothair, and found she knew nothing 
about Garibaldi and the battle of Aspramonte. 

HOW TO DO IT. 257 

Then she had been talking about the long Arctic 
days with a traveller, and she found she knew 
nothing about the Arctic regions. She was 
ashamed to go to a concert, and not know the dif- 
ference between the lives of Mozart and of Men- 
delssohn. I had to tell Ella, what I have said to 
you, that we cannot all of us do all things. Far 
less can we do them all at once. I reminded her 
of the rule for European travelling, — which you 
may be sure is good, — that it" is better to spend 
three days in one place than one day each in three 
places. And I told Ella that she must apply the 
same rule to subjects. Take these very instances. 
If she really gets well acquainted with Mendels- 
sohn's life, — -"feels that she knows him, his habit of 
writing, and what made him what he was, — she 
will enjoy every piece of his music she ever hears 
with ten times the interest it had for her before. 
But if she looks him out in a cyclopaedia and for- 
gets him, and looks out Mercadante and forgets 
him, and finally mixes up Mozart and Merca- 
dante and Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer,^ because 
all four of these names begin with M, why, she 


258 HOW TO DO IT. 

will be where a great many very nice "boys and 
girls are who go to concerts, but where as sensible 
a girl as Ella does not want to be, and where I 
hope none of you want to be for whom I am 

But perhaps this is more than need be said 
after what is in Chapters V. and VI. Now you 
may put down this book and read for recreation. 
Shall it*be the "Bloody Dagger," or shall it be 
the " Injured GranAnother " X 

HOW TO DO IT. 259 



"TTTHEKT I have written a quarter part of this 
paper the horse and wagon will be brought 
round, and I shall call for Ferguson and Putnam 
to go with me for a swim. When I stop s,t Fer- 
guson's house, he will himself* come to the door 
with his bag of towels, — I shall not even leave 
the wagon, — Ferguson will jump in, and then we 
shall drive to Putnam's. When we come to Put- 
nam's house, Ferguson wiU jump out and ring 
the belL A girl will come to the door, and Fer- 
guson wiU ask her to teU Horace that we have 
come for him. She will look a little confused, aa 
if she did not know where he was, but she will 
go and find him. Ferguson and I will wait in the 
wagon three or four minutes and then Horace wiU 
come. Ferguson will ask him if he has his towels, 
and he will say, " no, I laid them down when I 
was packing my lunch," and he will run and get 

260 HOW TO DO IT. 

them. Just as we start, he will ask me to exctsb^^ 
him just a moment, and he will run back for a 
letter his father wants him to post as we come 
home. Then we shall go and have a good swim 

Now, in the regular line of literature made and 
provided for young people, I should go on and make 
out that Ferguson, simply by his habit of prompt- 
nessaad by being in the right place when he is 
needed, would riae rapidly to the highest posts 
of honor and command, becoming indeed Khan of 
Tartary, or President of the United States, as the 
exigencies and costume of the story might requira 
But Horace, merely from not being ready on oc- 
casion, would miserably decline, and come to a 
wretched felon's end; owing it, indeed, only to 
the accident of his early acquaintance with Fer- 
guson, that, when the sheriff is about to hang him, 
a pardon arrives just in time from him (the Presi- 
dent). But I shall not carry out for you any such 
horrible picture of these two good fellows' fates. 

* P. S« — We have been and returned, and all has happened 
substantially as I said. 

HOW TO DO IT. 261 

In my judgment, one of these results is almost as 
horrible as is the other. I will tell you, however, 
that the habit of being ready is going to make 
for Ferguson a great deal of comfort in this world, 
and bring him in a great deal of enjoyment. And, 
on the other hand, Horace the Unready, as they 
would have called him in French history, will 
work through a great deal of discomfort and mor- 
tification before he rids himself of the habit which 
I have illustrated for you. It is true that he has 
a certain rapidity, which somebody calls " shifti- 
ness," of resolution and of performance, which 
gets him out of his scrapes as rapidly as he gets 
in. But there is a good deed, of vital power 
lost in getting in and getting out, which might 
be spent to better purpose, — for pure enjoy- 
ment, or for helping other people to pure en- 

The art of getting ready, then, shall be the clos- 
ing subject of this little series of papers. Of 
course, in the wider sense, all education might be 
called the axt of getting ready, as, in the broad- 
est sense of all, I hope all you children remember 

262 HOW TO DO IT. 

every day that the whole of this life is the get- 
ting ready for life beyond this. Bear that in mind, 
and you will not say that this is a trivial aocom- 
plishment of Ferguson's, which makes him always 
a welcome companion, often and often gives him 
the power of rendering a favor to somebody who 
has forgotten something, and, in short, in the twen- 
ty-four hours of every day, gives to him " all the 
time there is." It is also one of those accomplish- 
ments, as I believe, which can readily be learned 
or gained, not depending materially on tempera- 
ment or native constitution. It comes almost of 
course to a person who has his various powers 
well in hand, — who knows what he can do, and 
what he cannot do, and does not attempt more 
than he can perform. On the other hand, it is an 
accomplishment very difficult of acquirement to a 
boy who has not yet found what he is good for, 
who has forty irons in the fire, and is changing 
from one to another as rapidly as the circus-rider 
changes, or seems to change, from Mr. Pickwick to 
Sam WeUer. 

Form the habit, then, of looking at to-morrow 

HOW TO DO IT. 263 

as if yon were the master of to-morrow, and not 
its slave. " There 's no such word as fail ! " That 
is 'v^at Eichelieu says to the boy, and in the real 
conviction that you can control such circum- 
stances as made Horace late for our ride, you have 
the power that will master them. As Mrs. Henry 
said to her husband, about leaping over the high 
bar, — "Throw your heart over, John, and your 
heels will go over." That is a very fine remark, 
and it covers a great many problems in Ufe besides 
those of circus-riding. You are, thus far, master 
of to-morrow. It has not outflanked you, nor 
circumvented you at any point. You do not pro- 
pose that it shall. What, then, is the first thing 
to be sought by way of "getting ready," of prepa- 
ration ? 

It is vivid imagination of to-morrow. Ask in 
advance. What time does the train start ? Answer, 
" Seven minutes of eight." What time is break- 
fast ? Answer, " For the family, half past seven." 
Then I will now, lest it be forgotten, ask Mary to 
give me a cup of coffee at seven fifteen ; and, lest 
she should forget it, I will write it on this card. 

264 HOW TO DO IT. 

kad she may tuck the card in her kitchen-clock 
case. What have I to take in the train ? Ansiuer, 
*' Father's foreign letters, to save the English tfxaiL, 
my own "Young Folks " to be bound, and Fanny's 
breast-pin for a new pin." Then I hang my hand- 
bag now on the peg under my hat, put into it the 
" Young Folks " and the breast-pin box, and ask 
father to put into it the English letters when they 
are done. Do you not see that the more exact the 
work of the imagination on Tuesday, the less petty 
strain will there be on memory when Wednes- 
day comes ? If you have made that preparation, 
you may lie in bed Wednesday morning till the 
ver}'- moment which shall leave you time enough 
for washing and dressing; then you may take 
your breakfast comfortably, may strike your train 
accurately, and attend to your commissions 
easily. Whereas Horace, on his method of life, 
would have to get up early to be sure that his 
things were brought together, in the confusion 
of the morning would not be able to find No. 11 
of the " Young Folks," in looking for that would 
lose his breakfast, and afterwards would lose 

HOW TO DO IT. 265 

the train, and, looking back on his day, would 
find that he rose early, came to town late, and 
did not get to the bookbinder's, after aU. The 
relief from such blunders and annoyance comes, 
I say, in a lively habit of imagination, fore- 
casting the thing that is to be done. Once fore- 
cast in its detail, it is very easy to get ready 
for it. 

Do you not remember, in " Swiss Family Eobin- 
Bon," that when they came to a very hard pinch 
for want of twine or scissors or nails, the mother, 
Elizabeth, always had it in her " wonderful bag " ? 
I was young enough when I first read " Swiss 
Family " to be really taken in by this, and to think 
it magic. Indeed, I supposed the bag to be a 
lady's work-bag of beads or melon-seeds, such as 
were then in fashion, and to have such quantities 
of things come out of it was in no wise short of 
magic. It was not for many, many years that I 
observed that Francis sat on this bag in his tub, as 
they sailed to the shore. In those later years, 
however, I also noticed a sneer of Ernest's which 
I had overlooked before. He says, '' I do not see 

266 HOW TO DO IT. 

HHything very wonderful in taking out of a bag 
the same thing you have put into it" But his 
wise father says that it is the presence of ndnd 
which in the midst of shipwreck put the right 
things into the bag which makes the wonder. 
Now, in daily life, what we need for the comfort 
and readiness of the next day is such forecast and 
presence of mind, with a vivid imagination of the 
various exigencies it will bring us to. 

Jo Matthew was the most prompt and ready 
person, with one exception, whom I have ever had 
to deal with. I hope Jo will read this. If he 
does, will he not write to me ? I said to Jo 
once when we were at work together in the bam, 
that I wished I had his knack of laying down a 
tool so carefully that he knew just where to find 
it. "Ah," said he, laughing, "we learned that 
in the cotton-milL When you are running four 
looms, if something gives way, it will not do 
to be going round asking where this or where 
that is." Now Jo's answer really fits all life 
very well. The tide will not wait, dear Pauline, 
while you are asking, "Where is my blue bow ? " 

HOW TO DO IT. 267 

Nor will the train wait, dear George, while you 
are asking, "Where is my Walton's Arithme- 
tic »" 

We are all in a great mill, and we can master 
it, or it will master us, just as we choose to be 
ready or not ready for the opening and shutting 
of its opportunities. 

I remember that when Haliburton was visiting 
General Hooker's head-quarters, he arrived just 
as the General, with a brUliant staff, was about 
to ride out to make an interesting examination of 
the position. He asked Haliburton if he would 
join them, and, when Haliburton accepted the 
invitation gladly, he bade an aid mount him. 
The aid asked Haliburton what sort of horse 
he would have, and Haliburton said he would — 
and he knew he could — " ride anything." He is 
a thorough horseman. You see what a pleasure it 
was to him that he was perfectly ready for that 
contingency, wholly unexpected as it was. I like 
to hear him tell the story, and I often repeat it to 
young people, who wonder why some persons get 
forward so much more easily than others. War- 

268 HOW TO DO IT. 

burton, at the same moment, would have had to 
apologize, and say he would stay in camp writing 
letters, though he would have had nothing to say. 
For Warburton had never ridden horses to water or 
to the blacksmith's, and could not have mounted on 
the stupidest beast in the head-quarters encamp- 
ment. The diflference between the two men is 
simply that the one is ready and the other is 

Nothing comes amiss in the great business 
of preparation, if it has been thoroughly well 
learned. And the strangest things come of use, 
too, at the strangest times. A sailor teaches you 
to tie a knot when you are on a fishing party, 
and you tie that knot the next time when you are 
patching up the Emperor of Eussia's carriage for 
him, in a valley in the Ural Mountains. But *' get- 
ting ready" does not mean the piling in of a heap of 
accidental accomplishments. It means sedulously 
examining the coming duty or pleasure, ima- 
gining it even in its details, decreeing the ut- 
most punctuality so far as you are concerned, 
and thus entering upon them as a knight armed 



from head to foot This is the man whom Words- 
worth describes, — 

'* Who, if he be called upon to face 
Some awfiil moment to which Heaven has joined 
Great issaes, good or bad for human kind. 
Is happy as a Lover ; and attired 
With sadden brightness, like a man inspired ; 
And through the heat of conflict keeps the law 
In cahnness made, and sees what he foresaw ; 
Or if an unexpected call succeed, 
Come when it wiU, is equal to the need.'* 


Cunbridge : Printed by Welch, Bigeloir, ft Cow 

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