4th April, [1831]. It is I, my friend, who wish to go and see you, to thank you, to shake hands with you. Your letter gave me great and true pleasure. You see, my friend, at least I feel it, that one cannot get rid of an old friendship like ours so easily. It would be a great misfortune if we could survive the death of such a large fragment of ourselves.

VICTOR HUGO. You will come and dine with us one of these days, won't you?

6th July, 1831.

What I have to write to you, dear friend, gives me the greatest pain, but yet I must write it. Had you gone to Liège I need not have done so, and that is why I have seemed sometimes to desire a thing which at any other time would have been a real misfortune to me, namely, your absence. But since you are not going, and I admit you may have good reasons for it, I must make a clean breast of everything to you, my friend, even should it be for the last time. I can no longer bear a state of things which your remaining in Paris would probably prolong indefinitely.

I do not know if you have come to the same melancholy conclusion as I have, but this three months' attempt at a semi-intimacy, badly renewed and badly patched up, has not been a success. It is not, my friend, our old irrecoverable friendship. When you are not with me, I feel from the bottom of my heart that I love you as much as ever; but when you are, I suffer tortures. We are no longer at ease with one another, you see! We are not the two brothers that we were. I have lost you, and you have lost me: there is something between us. It is terrible to feel this, when we are together, in the same room, seated or the same sofa, and can touch each other's hands. When one is a couple of hundred miles off, one fancies it is the distance that causes the separation. That is why I said to you-Go! Don't you understand all this, Sainte-Beuve?

What has become of our trust, our mutual confidences, our freedom of coming and going, our endless and unreserved talks? They have all disappeared.


Everything is a torture to me Even the obligation, imposed on me by a person whom I cannot mention here, of being always present when you are there, reminds me constantly and very painfully that we are not the friends of old days. My poor friend, there is an element of absence in your presence which makes it even more unbearable than your real absence. At all events, if you go, the blank will be complete.

Let us give up seeing each other, then, for some time to come, so as not to cease loving each other. Has your wound healed? I am sure I do not know. All I do know is that mine has not. Every time I see you it bleeds afresh. You must sometimes feel that I am no longer the same. The reason is, that I suffer as you do. This irritates me, in the first place, and especially against myself; then against you, my poor, dear friend; and finally against another, whose wishes perhaps correspond with those I express in this letter. In spite of all I do, some traces of all this heart-ache will come out; and this makes us all miserable,-more

[blocks in formation]

Let us give up seeing each other, then, for the present, so as to meet again some day, as soon as possible, and then not to part. The distance we live from each other, the season of the year, our expeditions into the country, that I am never to be found at home, will be sufficient reasons for the world. As for us, we shall understand what it means. You and I will still love each other; we will write to each other, will we not? If we meet anywhere, it will be a pleasure to us; we shall shake hands with more affection and more expansiveness than here. What do you think of all this? Write me a few lines.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

7th July, 1831,

I have just received your letter, dear friend; it breaks my heart. You are quite right, your conduct has been perfectly loyal, you have not injured any one either consciously or unconsciously it is all my unhappy imagination, my friend! I love you now more than ever. I hate myself,-it is no exaggeration to say I hate myself for being so foolish and morbid. Should the day come when my life would be of service to you, you should have it, and the sacrifice would be a slight one, for, I say this to you only, I am no longer happy. I have acquired the conviction that it was possible for the object of all my love to cease to love me. It is no use my repeating to myself all that you say, and that the mere idea of such a thing is folly; this one drop or suspicion is enough to poison my whole life. Yes, indeed you must pity me, for I am really unhappy. I no longer know how I stand with the two beings whom I love most on earth. You are one of them. Pity me, love me, write to me.

For three months I had been suffering more than ever. The sight of you every day, when I was in this state, stirred up all these fatal ideas within me. I shall never allow anything of this to appear to the outside world; you alone will know of it. You are still you agree to this, do you not?-my first and best friend. Yet you had never seen this aspect of my character. How foolish I must seem to you! and how I must grieve you! Write and tell me that you still love me. It will do me good. And I shall look forward to the happy day when we shall meet again.


10th July, 1831.

Your letter has done me good. Yes, indeed, you are still my friend, and more so than ever. It is only a kind

[blocks in formation]

Sainte-Beuve, is, as you know, quite My friendship with you, my dear apart from all literary and political would give me great pleasure to know questions whatsoever. No doubt it that your opinions were, as in the old days, in harmony with mine on all those art problems, the solution of which is one of the interests of my life. But it can't be helped: we are all more or less unsettled. One thing is settled and unvarying with me, and that is my admiration for all you do, and my love for what you are.

You propose that we should dine together. It would be a great pleasure to me, and I should have endless things to tell you. I will write and let you know the first day I am disengaged. Farewell. We shall meet soon.


20th August, [1833].

I must go and see you one of these days, my dear Sainte-Beuve. I want to have a talk with you. I want to tell you what I have just said to some one who repeated to me, without malice, however, some cold remarks which you are supposed to have made about me.. I said it could not be so; that we both knew we had no truer friend than each other; that our friendship was one of those which are proof against absence and gossip, and that I loved you with all my heart, as I have always done. I said this, and now I sit down to write it to you, so that nothing may come between us unawares, and that not even the faintest shadow may arise between your heart and mine.

We shall soon meet. Farewell. My eyes are still very bad, and I am working hard.


22d August, [1833].

I must write to you at once, while the impression your letter has made is still fresh in my mind. Perhaps I ought to wait a day or two, but I cannot. How little you understand my character, Sainte-Beuve: you have always thought me ruled by my head, whereas I am guided by my heart. To love, and to need love and friendship, apply these two words as you like, is the principle of my existence, whether in joy or grief, before the world or in private, heart-whole or not. You have never recognized this sufficiently in me, and this accounts for more than one signal mistake in your estimate of me, so kindly in other respects. You will shake your head at this, but it is nevertheless perfectly true. You write me a long letter, my poor, dear friend, full of literary details and unimportant facts magnified by our separation, which would vanish into nothing and make us both laugh after half-an-hour's chat. I am so convinced of this that I am sure you would think so too, after a moment's reflection, and I therefore do not dwell on it. I think I have already told you, Sainte-Beuve, there can be no literary question between us. were two friends, no more, no less. I admit that absence has produced an opposite effect on us both. You love me less than you did two years ago, while I love you more. On reflection, the explanation is very simple. I was the offended party. The slow and gradual process of forgetting the events which estranged us acts in your favor in my heart, and against me in yours. Since life is so constituted, let us resign ourselves.


On my side I was still so firmly attached to you, that your letter telling me that you are no longer my friend leaves me all sore and torn. The wound will continue to bleed for a long time. Farewell, I am still your sincere friend. My consolation in this life will be that I have never been the first to part from one who loved me.

Boulanger had not told me anything. I should have mentioned it to you.

24th August, [1833].

Thank you, my friend, for your letter; thanks even for the first, since it brings me the second. You had no idea how deeply you had wounded me, nor how much good you do me now. Great Heavens! why cannot the depths of my heart, which is yours more than ever, be laid bare? Absence kills nothing in me-friendship as little as love. I thought you knew this. Twelve years

ago, a separation of eighteen months
only caused my love to become deeper
and more holy. My heart has never
altered. I am still the same stubborn
creature in all things, who loves even
without seeing the object of his affec-
tion. I suffer, but I love on.
Do you
suppose that I have not gone through
much on your account during the last
two years? You have often been mis-
led by a certain outward calm in me.
My wishes coincide with yours, of

course. We will dine together once a
week. We will let no dust settle on
our memories of the past or on our se-
cret shrines. My warmest thanks for
what you propose to me about Charles.
We will talk it over. I feel how sin-
cere and touching your offer is, and it
would be a great thing for the child.
But you see what obstacles there are.
Anyhow, whether the thing is done or
not, I am deeply grateful. A thousand
thanks. You do me good: you bring
me back a friend, and such a friend!

I must love you, and feel that I am loved by you. It is part of my life.

I am under an engagement to finish and send in a play before the 1st of September. You know how my work absorbs me when once I get into it: so I must end this letter. After that date I will go and see you, or I will write to ask you to fix a day for us to have a long, unreserved talk. I did go to see

you a little while ago. Did you know it? Oh! Sainte-Beuve, two such friends as we are should never part. It would be a crime. There! I am your devoted friend.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

The dress of the people during the colonial period was generally plain, as well because of their limited resources as because it was the policy of the colonies to discourage the wasting of their resources by habits of extravagance. And yet those in official positions were frequently passing to and from England, and it was necessary for them to maintain the style and manners of gentlemen of their rank in the old country. Professional men and public officers were expected to wear a distinctive dress. The typical Puritan, as his appearance is preserved in the old portraits, and in modern statues, looks like a man of distinction. Clothes counted for quite as much in the seventeenth century, as they do now. The Simple Cobbler of Agawam complained of five or six extravagant women in the colony, who inquire "what dresse the queen is in this week," and "what is the very newest fashion of the court," and who "egge to be in it in all haste, whatever it be." "I honor the woman," he says, "that can honor herself with her attire, but for a woman who lives but to ape the newest court fashions I look at her as the very gizzard of a trifle, the product of a quarter of a cipher, the epitome of nothing."

from the customs of the pioneers. In 1634, it was enacted that "noe person, either man or woman, shall hereafter make or buy any apparel that hath lace in it, or silver and gold." It was afterward ordered that no one whose estate is less than two hundred pounds shall wear gold or silver lace, or gold or silver buttons. Still later, it was enacted that no one shall wear embroidered caps, gold and silver girdles, immoderate great sleeves, or slashed apparel. We read in the Records of the Plymouth Colony of a man who created a sensation by appearing in the streets of Plymouth in long, red silk stockings. In the inventory of the estate of plain Elder Brewster, we find "one blue cloth coat," one "violet color cloth coat," "one green waistcoat." In "New England's First Fruits" it is said: "Linnen fustian we are making already; sheep are coming on for woolen cloth; in the mean time we may be supplied by way of trade from other parts, cordovan deer, seal and moose skins are to be had plentifully, which will help the way, especially for servants' clothing." Evidently these pioneers were thrifty people, who respected themselves, and dressed as well as they were able, though they avoided with prudent care habits that were beyond their incomes.

The amusements of these plain peo. ple. dwelling in the wilderness, were few and simple. And yet they were not as few as some writers would lead us to suppose. It is true that games of chance were prohibited by law. No one was permitted to possess cards, dice, or other instruments of gaming. Dancing was also prohibited. But it is possible for the right sort of people to lead a pleasent social life without gaming and dancing.

The General Court enacted laws at various times to limit extravagance in dress. The fact that such laws were needed shows that human nature in the times of the Puritans was very much The Puritans enjoyed their religion. the same that it is now. Their young They delighted in prayer and in compeople had a love for beautiful things; munion with God. They were proand they sought to adorn themselves, foundly interested in religious truth. even beyond their means. The younger Religious services were very attractive generation were not iconoclasts. Some to them. They were intellectual peoof them were disposed to break away ple. The religious spirit has been

found to agree very well with the intellectual spirit. The independent thinkers of New England, as a rule, had a Puritan ancestry

Our fathers loved their new country, as pioneers generally do. They be lieved it was better than any other. They were free to work out their own ideas in this new world. They were readers and thinkers. They debated great questions under the shadows of the primitive forests. They did not feel the need of the pleasures which people of less intellect and less faith seem to require.

There is abundant evidence that there was a genuine, hearty, social life in these colonies. Travellers of that period, who came to New England, do not speak of the life they found here as a gloomy life. The people were interested in each other. They had their own simple, rustic amusements, such as those to which they had been accustomed in England.

Take as an example the first Harvest Festival at Plymouth. The Pilgrims

had gathered their first harvest, after the year of severe labor and privation, while they were building their houses, and breaking up the ground, and caring for their crops. The harvest was bountiful, and they had at last a right to give themselves up to recreation. We read, in Mourt's Relation: "Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent foure men on fowling, that we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we hau gathered the fruit of our labors. They foure in one day killed as much fowle, as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time, amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest, their greatest King, Massasayt, with some ninety men, whome for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation, and bestowed on our Governor, and vpon the captaine, and others."

This was not a religious festival. There is no mention of any religious

services. The week seems to have been given up to sports, and a succession of festivals, as well as to the entertainment of their dusky neighbors. In these ways these vigorous men enjoyed themselves, making the best use of their limited opportunities.

In Massachusetts, there was a larger population and a greater variety of occasions of interest. The house of Governor Winthrop was seldom without its guests. There were interesting people coming from abroad, whose presence added interest to the homelife. The commencement week at the new college was always interesting. We read of a great training on Boston Common, which brought together the people from the various settlements. Many gentlemen and gentlewomen dined in tents on the common. Judge Sewell, in his Diary, refers very often to the dinner parties which he attended. He sometimes gives us the names of the guests and tells us something of the bill of fare. The picture of a New England holiday, in the "Scarlet Letter," with its mingled light and shade, gives a very fair impression of life in those days. Hawthorne says, very truly, that the generation next to the early emigrants-who had never mingled in the sports of Old England-were the darkest shade of Puritanism.

Human nature in the colonies was very much like human nature in the rest of the world. The amusements of the young people were not always such as the fathers and mothers approved. There are numerous records of "mixt dancing, unlawful gamings, extravagance in dress, light behavior" and such like offences. These things do not appear to have been confined to any one period in our history. They became more frequent as the colonies became richer and more populous. The family discipline was careful and faithful, but the habits and characters of the children did not always develop according to the Puritan model.

From "The Puritan in England and New England."
By Ezra Hoyt Byington, D.D. Roberts Bros.

« VorigeDoorgaan »