An Astronomer's Wife: The Biography of Angeline Hall by Hall, Angelo
AN ASTRONOMER’S WIFE
[Illustration: ANGELINE HALL IN MATURE LIFE]
AN ASTRONOMER’S WIFE
THE BIOGRAPHY OF ANGELINE HALL
BY HER SON
BALTIMORE NUNN & COMPANY 1908
COPYRIGHT, 1908, BY ANGELO HALL
The Lord Baltimore Press BALTIMORE, MD., U.S.A.
_TO MY DAUGHTER PEGGY_
PAGE PROLOGUE 11 CHAPTER I. A GRAND-DAUGHTER OF THE REVOLUTION 13 II. THE FATHERLESS CHILD 20 III. LADY ANGELINE 24 IV. TEACHING SCHOOL 30 V. THE NEXT STEP 33 VI. COLLEGE DAYS 38 VII. COLLEGE PRODUCTIONS 47 VIII. ASAPH HALL, CARPENTER 54 IX. COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE 59 X. ANN ARBOR AND SHALERSVILLE 66 XI. STRENUOUS TIMES 70 XII. LOVE IN A COTTAGE 80 XIII. WASHINGTON AND THE CIVIL WAR 86 XIV. THE GAY STREET HOME 96 XV. AN AMERICAN WOMAN 104 XVI. A BUNDLE OF LETTERS 116 XVII. AUGUSTA LARNED’S TRIBUTE 127 EPILOGUE 130
ANGELINE HALL IN MATURE FRONTISPIECE LIFE
AN OLD DAGUERREOTYPE OPPOSITE CHAPTER V
THE GAY STREET HOME OPPOSITE CHAPTER XIV
PHOTOGRAPH OF 1878 OPPOSITE CHAPTER XV
_Dear Peggy_: As I tell you this story of the noble grandmother who, dying long before you were born, would otherwise be to you a picture of the imagination, I am going to let the public listen, for several reasons:
_First._ The public will want to listen, for everybody is interested in true stories of real folks.
_Secondly._ While your grandmother was not the most wonderful woman that ever lived, she was a typical American. Her story possesses the charm and fascination of a romance, for she was a daughter of the pioneers—those ill-fed and ill-clothed people who, in spite of their shortcomings, intellectual, moral, and physical, have been the most forceful race in history.
_Thirdly._ This story vindicates the higher education of women. Your grandmother, dear Peggy, was a Bachelor of Arts. Now it is maintained in some quarters that women become bachelors so as to avoid having children. But your grandmother had four sons, every one of whom she sent through Harvard College.
_Finally._ This story will demonstrate conclusively that college-bred women should not marry young men who earn less than three hundred dollars a year. When you marry, dear Peggy, insist that your husband shall earn at least a dollar a day. This precept will bar out the European nobility, but will put a premium on American nobility.
Signed and sealed this 1st day of November, in the year of our Lord 1908, at Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
[Illustration: 1755 SONS OF MARS 1775
The Halls of Goshen
Qui transtulit sustinet.
MOONS OF MARS 1877]
CHAPTER I. –––––– A GRAND-DAUGHTER OF THE REVOLUTION.
One fine winter morning a little more than a hundred years ago the sun peeped into the snow-clad valley of the Connecticut, and smiled cordially upon the snug homes of the sons and daughters of the American Revolution. The Yankee farmers had long been stirring. Smoke curled up from every chimney in Ellington. The cattle had been fed and watered. Pans of new milk stood on the pantry shelves, breakfast was over, and the family was gathered about the fireside to worship God and to render Him thanks for peace and plenty.
At Elisha Cook’s, on this particular winter morning, the simple Puritan rites were especially earnest. The mother had gathered the children into her arms, and the light of high resolve lit up her face; for this day the family was to begin a long, hard journey westward—away from the town of Ellington, away from Tolland County, away from Connecticut and New England, beyond the Dutch settlements of New York State to Lake Ontario and the Black River Country!
I will not attempt to describe that journey in January, 1806. Suffice it to say that Elisha Cook and his wife Huldah, setting their faces bravely westward, sought and found a home in the wilderness. They went to stay. No turning back for those hardy pioneers. Children and household goods went with them. With axe and plough, hammer and saw, spinning-wheel and loom, they went forth to enlarge the Kingdom of God. There was no Erie Canal in those early days. The red men had hardly quitted the unbroken forests. Not many years had passed since Fort Stanwix resounded with the warwhoops of St. Leger’s Indians. Indeed, Huldah Cook herself—she was Huldah Pratt then, a little girl of ten years—had been in Albany when Burgoyne surrendered.
No doubt as the emigrants entered the Mohawk Valley, little Electa Cook heard from her mother’s lips something about Arnold and Morgan and their victorious soldiers. Perhaps she saw in imagination what her mother had actually seen—soldiers in three-cornered hats, some in uniform and some in plain homespun, every man armed with powder horn and musket, hurrying through the streets of the quaint old town to the American camp beyond. Perhaps she saw the fiery Arnold himself, mounted on his fiery warhorse. Perhaps she saw Daniel Morgan and his men—of all the heroes of the Revolution none was braver and truer than he, and of all the soldiers in Washington’s army none could shoot straighter than the men that magnanimous general sent to Gates—Morgan’s riflemen.
* * * * *
Moses Stickney was a crack shot, too. I have seen a long-barreled musket of fine workmanship which he carried in the Revolution, and have listened to tales of his marksmanship still preserved in the Vermont valley whither his sons treked westward from their New Hampshire home. Between that snug little valley and the Connecticut River is a high ridge, from the top of which Mt. Monadnock is clearly seen. And it was by the side of that grand old mountain, in the town of Jaffrey, that Moses Stickney, late of Washington’s army, provided a home for his bride, Mary Hastings, whom he loved and cherished for sixty-nine years, lacking four days. Tradition says this lady was descended from an English earl. Certain it is she bore her husband four noble sons and four fair daughters.
But who was Moses Stickney? Why, he bears the same relation to the heroine of this story as does Elisha Cook. He was Angeline Stickney’s grandfather—her paternal grandfather, of course. No child could have wished better forebears than these—Moses Stickney and Mary Hastings, Elisha Cook and Huldah Pratt. It is recorded of Moses Stickney that he yoked up his oxen on the day he became one hundred years old. A nonagenarian of Gill, Mass., by the name of Perry, who resided in Jaffrey, N.H., from 1837 to 1847, used to tell me of this Revolutionary ancestor, with whom he became well acquainted during those ten years. The old soldier was fond of telling war stories, and tradition has it that he carried his long-barreled musket at Bunker Hill. Though his eyes were bloodshot, like the Moses of Scripture his natural force was unabated. He was about five feet, ten inches tall, rather slender, and a good walker even in extreme old age.
Now Moses Stickney had a daughter Mary, who was courted and won by a gay young man of the name of Daniel Gilman. Just what the virtues and vices of this gallant may have been I am unable to say; but he vexed his father-in-law to such an extent that the old gentleman declared no more young men should come to woo his daughters. “If they come,” said he, “damn ’em, I’ll shoot ’em.” Being a crack shot, he simply needed thus to define his position. His daughters Lois and Charlotte lived out their days at home, maiden ladies. The oldest sister, Susan, had escaped the parental decree, presumably, by marrying before its promulgation.
Young Gilman shortly left for parts unknown—though shrewdly guessed at. The War of 1812 was going on, and the Black River Country, home of Elisha Cook, was the scene of great activity. Thither, then, went young Theophilus Stickney, brother to Mary, in search of her runaway husband. Tradition says he unearthed him. However that may be, young Stickney, himself a gay and handsome youth of four and twenty, found the country pleasant, and its maidens fresh and blooming. Moreover, his skill in carpentry, for he was an excellent workman, was much in demand. So instead of returning home to New Hampshire, he wooed and wedded Electa, daughter of Elisha Cook.
It would be agreeable to me to record that they lived happily ever after. But they did not. No couple could have started life under more favorable auspices: the bride, a dark-haired, rosy-cheeked maiden of eighteen years, daughter of a prosperous farmer; the groom a handsome, curly-haired man of twenty-six, of proved ability in his calling, and a prize for any country girl. They were married on Washington’s birthday, 1816—at a time when this country had finally declared her emancipation from the tyranny of foreign kings, when the star-spangled banner had been vindicated by Old Hickory at New Orleans, and hallowed by Francis Scott Key at Baltimore. So these young patriots needed only to conquer themselves; but herein they failed—at least, Theophilus Stickney did.
It is delightful to contemplate how Americans of those days, clinging to the songs of Merrie England, to the English Bible, and to English learning, defied the political authority of the Old World, and realized the dream of eighteen Christian centuries by establishing on a new soil the Brotherhood of Man. But it is sad to see how many Americans of those days and of these days, too, have failed to overcome the weaknesses inherent in human nature. The only free man is he who is master of himself, whether the person at the head of the government be called King or President.
But do not form the impression that Theophilus Stickney was guilty of unpardonable sins. He was an altogether lovable man. In fact, I half suspect he won his father-in-law as readily as his bride. Both men were fond of music, and sang well. They were generous, large-hearted, as befits the pioneer. Resolved to win a home on the shores of the Great Lakes, they yet loved New England and Old England, too. Little pertaining to my unfortunate grandfather, Theophilus Stickney, has come down to me, except the songs he sang. One of them begins:
’Twas on the fourteenth day of May Our troops set sail for America.
Perhaps the best stanza of this homely ballad is the following:
We saw those bold American sons Deal death and slaughter with their guns. Bold British blood runs thro’ their veins, While proud old England sinks in chains.
The best of his ballads, to my mind, was this—the music of which I have tried to preserve, for a little old lady of seventy years, his daughter, sang it to me long ago:
On yonder high mountain there the castle doth stand, All decked in green ivy from the top to the strand; Fine arches, fine porches, and the limestone so white— ’Tis a guide for the sailor in the dark stormy night.
’Tis a landscape of pleasure, ’tis a garden of green, And the fairest of flowers that ever was seen. For hunting, for fishing, and for fowling also— The fairest of flowers on this mountain doth grow.
At the foot of this mountain there the ocean doth flow, And ships from the East Indies to the westward do go, With the red flags aflying and the beating of drums— Sweet instruments of music and the firing of guns.
Had Polly proved loyal I’d have made her my bride, But her mind being inconstant it ran like the tide; The king can but love her, and I do the same— I’ll crown her my jewel and be her true swain.
Trouble was in store for the young carpenter and his bride. He contracted to build a house for a neighbor, finding all the lumber himself, and going into the woods with his men to hew out the timbers. The work done, the pay for it was not forthcoming, and his own little home, with a farm of eighty-five acres, nearly paid for, was swallowed up. So the family moved to the Genesee Country to seek a better fortune. Here the children—for there were children now—suffered from fever and ague; and humbling his pride, Theophilus Stickney accepted his father-in-law’s invitation to return to the Black River Country and live on a piece of the Cook farm. Here it was, in the town of Rodman, Jefferson County, that Chloe Angeline Stickney, the carpenter’s sixth child, was born. There were three older sisters, and two little brothers had died in infancy.
The soil of Rodman is to this day very productive. In those early days grain grew abundantly, there were no railroads to ship it away, and distilleries were set up everywhere. The best of good whisky was as free as water; and Theophilus Stickney became a drunkard. It is the sin of many a fine nature, but like other sins it is visited upon the third and fourth generations. Especially was it visited upon little Angeline, a child of a very fine and sensitive organization. For sixty-two years, in a weakened nervous system, did she pay the penalty of her father’s intemperance. To her that father was but a name. Before she was three years old he had left home to become a wanderer. And in February, 1842, he died among strangers in a hospital at Rochester.
CHAPTER II. –––––– THE FATHERLESS CHILD.
All the saints had not appeared on earth till the birth of Chloe Angeline Stickney on All Saints’ Day, 1830. At least, if she is not one of the All Saints she is one of the Hall Saints. No doubt the associations connected with her birthday helped the growing girl toward a realization of her ideals; for in after life, in the sweet confidence of motherhood, she used to tell her sons that her birthday fell on All Saints’ Day.
But it appears that all the saints were not present at the baby’s birth. Else the child’s father might have been rescued from the demon of strong drink—the child herself might have been blessed with a strong body as a fit abode for her spirit—and she might have been protected from the silly women who named her!
Chloe Angeline! Think of it! The name Angeline alone might do. Chloe might do; for, altho’ unheard of in the Cook and Stickney families, it belonged to the good woman who nursed the child’s mother. But Chloe Angeline!—the second name borrowed from a cheap novel current in those days! What’s in a name? In this case this much: Proof that the father’s standing in his own family was lost. His eldest daughter was named Charlotte, the third one Mary—the same sensible names as were borne by two of his sisters in New Hampshire. Apparently the defenceless babe was a fatherless child from the day of birth.
Rough and crude was the civilization into which she was born. Bears still haunted the woods and gathered blackberries in the more remote fields. In a deep ravine Angeline’s sister Elmina encountered a wild-cat. Matches were not yet in use. Spinning-wheel and household loom supplied the farmer’s homespun clothing. For salt Grandfather Cook drove sixty miles to Syracuse. Bigoted religion was rampant, with forenoon and afternoon services, and a five-mile drive in Grandfather’s wagon. Aunt Clary Downs, one of Elisha Cook’s daughters, kept a dream-book; and his mother in her old age used to protect parties of young people from witches. Singing schools flourished. Elmina Stickney, herself a good singer, was won by David, not the sweet singer of Israel, but David Cooley, sweet singer of Rodman. Education was dispensed in the brutal, old-fashioned way. For example, a teacher in those parts invented the fiendish punishment of piercing the lip of an offending pupil with a needle. Elisha, a weak-minded boy who lived at Angeline’s, was flogged within an inch of his life for cutting up and hiding the school-mistress’s cowhide. Two school supervisors were present at this flogging. The schoolmistress would ply her punishment until exhausted; then rest, and go at it again. Small wonder that Elisha survived the beating only a year or two.
Angeline’s oldest sister, Charlotte, married young. There were no brothers or father, so that the mother and four young daughters were thrown upon their own resources. Grandfather Cook, who lived half a mile up the road, was their kindly protector. But from the beginning the sisters learned to look out for themselves and one another. It must have been a quiet household, saddened by the thought of the absent father, and much too feminine. For one thing I am very grateful: the mother did not whip the obedient, sensitive little Angeline.
Angeline was a very solemn little girl, happy at times, with a sort of saintly happiness, but never merry. Perhaps too many of the saints had watched over her nativity. Had some little red devil been present he might have saved the situation. Had her cousin Orville Gilman, son of the renegade Daniel, only appeared upon the scene to inform the company that Elisha Cook’s hens, of New England ancestry, were stalking about crying, “Cut-cut-cut-Connecticut”!
At three years of age Angeline began to attend district school. At five she was spinning flax. As a little girl, watching her mother at work, she wondered at the chemistry of cooking. At nine she had read a church history through. At twelve she was an excellent housekeeper, big enough to be sent for to help her sister Charlotte keep tavern. So from her earliest years she was a student and worker. She had some playmates, her life-long friends, and she enjoyed some sober pleasures. But the healthy enjoyment of healthy, vigorous childhood she missed—was frightened nearly out of her wits listening to the fearful stories told about the fireside—and broke her leg sliding down hill when she was eight years old. The victim of a weak stomach, coarse fare did not agree with her; and again and again she vomited up the salt pork some well-meaning friend had coaxed her to eat. But she accepted her lot patiently and reverently; and after the cold dreary winters one blade of green grass would make her happy all day long.
She really did enjoy life intensely, in her quiet way, and no doubt felt very rich sometimes. There were the wild strawberries down in the meadow and by the roadside, raspberries and blackberries in abundance, and in the woods bunch-berries, pigeon-berries, and wintergreen. The flowers of wood and field were a pure delight, spontaneous and genuine; and to the end of her days wild rose and liverwort sent a thrill of joy to her heart. She and her sister Ruth, three years younger, were inseparable companions. Near the house was the mouth of a deep ravine—or gulf, as it is called in Rodman—and here the little sisters played beside the brook and hunted the first spring flowers. Still nearer was a field filled with round bowlders, a delightful place to play house. Across the road was a piece of woods where the cows were pastured, and whither the sisters would go to gather hemlock knots for their mother.
The house stood upon a knoll commanding a pleasant landscape; and from high ground near by the blue waters of Lake Ontario could be seen. The skies of Jefferson County are as clear as those of Italy, and in the summer Angeline lived out of doors in God’s temple, the blue vault above, and all around the incense of trees and grasses. Little she cared if her mother’s house was small; for from the doorstep, or from the roof of the woodhouse, where she used to sit, she beheld beauty and grandeur hidden from eyes less clear. Nor was she content simply to dream her childhood’s dream. The glory of her little world was an inspiration. Ambition was born in her, and she used to say, quaintly enough, “You may hear of me through the papers yet.”
CHAPTER III. –––––– LADY ANGELINE.
In the summer of 1841 Elisha Cook closed his brave blue eyes in death; and the following winter a letter came to the Rodman postmaster saying that a man by the name of Theophilus Stickney had died on the 14th of February in the hospital at Rochester. So the Stickney girls were doubly orphans. Elmina married, and Angeline went to live with her sister Charlotte in the town of Wilna. How dark the forests on the road to Wilna that December day! Forty years afterward Angeline used to tell of that ride with Edwin Ingalls, Charlotte’s husband. With his cheery voice he tried to dispel her fears, praising his horses in homely rhyme:
They’re true blue, They’ll carry us through.
Edwin Ingalls was a wiry little man, a person of character and thrift, like his good wife Charlotte; for such they proved themselves when in after years they settled in Wisconsin, pioneers of their own day and generation. In December, 1842, they kept tavern, and a prime hostess was Charlotte Ingalls, broiling her meats on a spit before a great open fire in the good old-fashioned way. Angeline attended school, taught by Edwin Ingalls, and found time out of school hours to study natural philosophy besides. Indeed, the little girl very early formed the habit of reading, showing an especial fondness for history. And when news came the next Spring of her mother’s marriage to a Mr. Milton Woodward, she was ready with a quotation from “The Lady of the Lake”:
... Woe the while That brought such wanderer to our isle.
The quotation proved altogether appropriate. Mr. Woodward was a strong-willed widower with five strong-willed sons and five strong-willed daughters. The next four years Angeline was a sort of white slave in this family of wrangling brothers and sisters. When her sister Charlotte inquired how she liked her new home, her answer was simply, “Ma’s there.”
The story of this second marriage of Electa Cook’s is worthy of record. Any impatience toward her first husband of which she may have been guilty was avenged upon her a hundred-fold. And yet the second marriage was a church affair. Mr. Woodward saw her at church and took a fancy to her. Had the minister intercede for him. “It will make a home for you, Mrs. Stickney,” said the minister—as if she were not the mistress of seventy-two acres in her own right! Why she gave up her independence it is difficult to see; but the ways of women are past finding out. Perhaps she sympathized with the ten motherless Woodward children. Perhaps she loved Mr. Milton Woodward, for he was a man of violent temper, and sometimes abused her in glorious fashion. At the very outset, he opposed her bringing her unmarried daughters to his house. She insisted; but might more wisely have yielded the point. For two of the daughters married their step-brothers, and shared the Woodward fate.
Twelve-year old Angeline went to work very industriously at the Woodward farm on Dry Hill. What the big, strapping Woodward girls could have been doing it is hard to say—wholly occupied with finding husbands, perhaps. For until 1847 Angeline was her mother’s chief assistant, at times doing most of the housework herself. She baked for the large family, mopped floors, endured all sorts of drudgery, and even waded through the snow to milk cows. But with it all she attended school, and made great progress. She liked grammar and arithmetic, and on one occasion showed her ability as a speller by spelling down the whole school. She even went to singing school, and sang in the church choir. Some of the envious Woodward children ridiculed the hard-working, ambitious girl by calling her “Lady Angeline,” a title which she lived up to from that time forth.
Let me reproduce here two of her compositions, written when she was fourteen years of age. They are addressed as letters to her teacher, Mr. George Waldo:
RODMAN, January 21st 1845
SIR, As you have requested me to write and have given me the subjects upon which to write, I thought I would try to write what I could about the Sugar Maple. The Sugar Maple is a very beautiful as well as useful tree. In the summer the beasts retire to its kind shade from the heat of the sun. And though the lofty Oak and pine tower above it, perhaps they are no more useful. Sugar is made from the sap of this tree, which is a very useful article. It is also used for making furniture such as tables bureaus &c. and boards for various uses. It is also used to cook Our victuals and to keep us warm. But its usefulness does not stop here even the ashes are useful; they are used for making potash which with the help of flint or sand and a good fire to melt it is made into glass which people could not very well do without. Glass is good to help the old to see and to give light to our houses. Besides all this teliscopes are made of glass by the help of which about all the knowledge of the mighty host of planetary worlds has been discovered. This tree is certainly very useful. In the first place sugar is made from it. Then it gives us all sorts of beautiful furniture. Then it warms our houses and cooks our victuals and then even then we get something from the ashes yes something very useful. No more at present.
I wish there was a good deal more. This is well written. Write more next time.
The next composition is as follows:
RODMAN February 17th 1845
Slavery or holding men in bondage is one of the most unjust practices. But unjust as it is even in this boasted land of liberty many of our greatest men are dealers in buying and selling slaves. Were you to go to the southern states you would see about every dwelling surrounded by plantations on which you would see the half clothed and half starved slave and his master with whip in hand ready to inflict the blow should the innocent child forgetful of the smart produced by the whip pause one moment to hear the musick of the birds inhale the odor of the flowers or through fatigue should let go his hold from the hoe. And various other scenes that none but the hardest hearted could behold without dropping a tear of pity for the fate of the slave would present themselves probably you would see the slave bound in chains and the driver urging him onward while every step he takes is leading him farther and farther from his home and all that he holds dear. But I hope these cruelties will soon cease as many are now advocating the cause of the slave. But still there are many that forget that freedom is as dear to the slave as to the master, whose fathers when oppressed armed in defence of liberty and with Washington at their head gained it. But to their shame they still hold slaves. But some countries have renounced slavery and I hope their example will be followed by our own.
I hope so too. And expect it also. When men shall learn to do unto others as they themselves wish to be done unto. And not only say but _do_ and that _more than_ HALF as they say. Then we may hope to see the slave Liberated, and _not_ till _then_. _Write again._
The composition on slavery (like the mention of the telescope) is in the nature of a prophecy, for our astronomer’s wife during her residence of thirty years in Washington was an unfailing friend of the negro. Many a Northerner, coming into actual contact with the black man, has learned to despise him more than Southerners do. Not so Angeline. The conviction of childhood, born of reading church literature on slavery and of hearing her step-father’s indignant words on the subject—for he was an ardent abolitionist—lasted through life.
In the fall of 1847 the ambitious school-girl had a stroke of good fortune. Her cousin Harriette Downs, graduate of a young ladies’ school in Pittsfield, Mass., took an interest in her, and paid her tuition for three terms at the Rodman Union Seminary. So Angeline worked for her board at her Aunt Clary Downs’, a mile and a half from the seminary, and walked to school every morning. A delightful walk in autumn; but when the deep snows came, it was a dreadful task to wade through the drifts. Her skirts would get wet, and she took a severe cold. She never forgot the hardships of that winter. The next winter she lived in Rodman village, close to the seminary, working for her board at a Mr. Wood’s, where on Monday mornings she did the family washing before school began. How thoroughly she enjoyed the modest curriculum of studies at the seminary none can tell save those who have worked for an education as hard as she did. That she was appreciated and beloved by her schoolmates may be inferred from the following extracts from a letter dated Henderson, Jefferson Co., N.Y., January 9, 1848:
Our folks say they believe you are perfect or I would not say so much about you. They would like to have you come out here & stay a wek, they say but not half as much as I would I dont believe, come come come.... Your letter I have read over & over again, ther seems to be such a smile. It seems just like you. I almost immagin I can see you & hear you talk while I am reading your letter.... Those verses were beautiful, they sounded just lik you.... Good Night for I am shure you will say you never saw such a boched up mess
I ever remain your sincere friend
E. A. BULFINCH.
No doubt as to the genuineness of this document! Angeline had indeed begun to write verses—and as a matter of interest rather than as an example of art, I venture to quote the following lines, written in October, 1847:
Farewell, a long farewell, to thee sweet grove, To thy cool shade and grassy seat I love; Farewell, for the autumnal breeze is sighing Among thy boughs, and low thy leaves are lying. Farewell, farewell, until another spring Rolls round again, and thy sweet bowers ring With song of birds, and wild flowers spring, And on the gentle breeze their odors fling. Farewell, perhaps I ne’er again may view Thy much-loved haunt, so then a sweet adieu.
CHAPTER IV. –––––– TEACHING SCHOOL.
In the North teaching follows schooling almost as a matter of course. In 1848 Angeline Stickney began to teach the district school in Heath Hollow, near Rodman, for a dollar and a quarter a week and board. The same year she taught also at Pleasant Valley, near Cape Vincent, whither Edwin Ingalls had moved. Angeline boarded with her sister and spun her wool. Would that some artist had painted this nineteenth century Priscilla at the spinning-wheel! For the next nine years, that is, until a year after her marriage, she was alternately teacher and pupil. In the winter of 1849-50 she tutored in the family of Elder Bright, who six years later, in Wisconsin, performed her marriage ceremony. In the winter of 1850-51 she attended the seminary at Rodman, together with her sister Ruth.
An excellent teacher always, she won the respect and affection of her pupils. After her death a sturdy farmer of Rodman told me, with great feeling, how much he liked the patient teacher. He was a dull boy, and found many perplexities in arithmetic, which Miss Stickney carefully explained. And so she became the boy’s ideal woman. Very seldom did she have to resort to punishment, but when punishment was necessary she did not flinch. The same might be said of her in the rearing of her four sons. Her gentleness, united to a resolute will and thorough goodness of heart, made obedience to her word an acknowledged and sacred duty.
The following fragment of a letter, written after she had begun her college course at McGrawville, gives a glimpse of her at this period:
WATERTOWN Nov. 27th ’52
... it is half past eight A.M. there is one small scholar here. I have had but fourteen scholars yet, but expect more next week. Sister Ruth teaches in the district adjoining this. I see her often, have been teaching two weeks. I do not have a very good opportunity for studying, or reciting. There is a gentleman living about a mile and a half from me to whom I suppose I might recite, but the road is bad and so I have to content myself without a teacher, and I fear I shall not make much progress in my studies this winter. Saturday Dec 4th.... I do not teach to-day, so I started off in the rain this morning to come and see Sister Ruth. It is about a mile and a half across through swamp and woods, but I had a very fine walk after all. I had to climb a hill on the way, that may well vie in height with the hills of McGrawville, and the prospect from its summit is the finest I ever saw. Sister saw me coming and came running to meet me and now we are sitting side by side in her school room with none to molest us.... I board around the district.... Oh! how I long for a quiet little room, where I might write and study....
Let me add here an extract from a brief diary kept in 1851, which illustrates a phase of her character hardly noticed thus far. She was, like the best young women of her day and generation, intensely religious—even morbidly so, perhaps. But as sincerity is the saving grace of all religions, we may forgive her maidenly effusion:
Monday June 2 David came and brought me down to school to-day. When I came to dinner found uncle Cook at Mr. Moffatts. Think I shall attend prayer meeting this evening. I love these prayer meetings. Mr. Spear always there with something beautiful and instructive to say. And the Savior always there to bless us, and to strengthen us. And I feel I am blessed and profited every time that I attend. Tuesday June 3rd Feel sad this evening, have evening, have a hard headache, pain in the chest, and cough some. Think Consumption’s meagre hand is feeling for my heart strings. Oh that I may be spared a little longer, though unworthy of life on earth and how much more unfit to live in Heaven. Oh Heavenly Father wash me clean in the blood of thy precious son, and fit me for life, or death. I have desired to get for me a name that would not be forgotten, when my body was moldered into dust. Vain desire! better to have a name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Earth may forget me, but Oh my Savior! do not Thou forget me and I shall be satisfied. Wednesday June 4th I am sitting now by my chamber window, have been gazing on the beautiful clouds of crimson and purple, that are floating in the bright west. How beautiful is our world now in this sweet month, beautiful flowers beautiful forests, beautiful fields, beautiful birds, and murmuring brooks and rainbows and clouds and then again the clear blue sky without clouds or rainbows, or stars, smiling in its own calm loveliness Oh yes! this Earth is beautiful, and so exquisitely beautiful that I sometimes feel that there is in it enough of beauty to feast my eyes forever. Do not feel quite so badly this evening as I did last, yet I by no means feel well.
[Illustration: AN OLD DAGUERREOTYPE]
CHAPTER V. –––––– THE NEXT STEP.
“Do the next thing”—such is the sage advice of some practical philosopher. Had Angeline Stickney failed to keep advancing she would have sunk into obscurity, as her sisters did, and this story could not have been written. But ambition urged her forward, in spite of the morbid religious scruples that made ambition a sin; and she determined to continue her education. For some time she was undecided whether to go to Albany, or to Oberlin, or to McGrawville. If she went to Albany, board would cost her two dollars a week—more than she could well afford. Besides, Ruth could not accompany her. So she finally chose McGrawville—where both sisters together lived on the incredibly small sum of one dollar a week—fifty cents for a room and twenty-five cents each for provisions. As we shall see, she met her future husband at McGrawville; and so it was not an altogether miserly or unkind fate that led her thither.
She was determined to go to college, and to have Ruth go with her. We may laugh at the means she employed to raise funds, but we must respect the determination. The idea of a young woman’s going about the country teaching monochromatic painting, and the making of tissue-paper flowers! Better to take in washing. And yet there could have been no demand for a professional washerwoman in that part of the country. Indeed, Ruth and Angeline had many a discussion of the money problem. One scheme that suggested itself—whether in merriment or in earnest I cannot say—was to dress like men and go to work in some factory. In those days women’s wages were absurdly small; and the burden of proof and of prejudice rested on the young woman who maintained her right to go to college. They saved what they could from their paltry women’s wages, and upon these meagre savings, after all, they finally depended; for the monochromatic painting and the tissue-paper flowers supplied nothing more substantial than a little experience.
The following extracts from the second and last journal kept by Angeline Stickney need no explanation. The little book itself is mutely eloquent. It is hand-made, and consists of some sheets of writing paper cut to a convenient size and stitched together, with a double thickness of thin brown wrapping paper for a cover.
_Thursday_ [Jan. 8, 1852].... I intended to go to Lockport to teach painting to-day, but the stage left before I was ready to go, so I came back home. Ruth and I had our daguerreotypes taken to-day. David here when we arrived at home to carry Ruth to her school. _Friday, Jan. 9th_ To-day Mr. Vandervort came up after the horses and sleigh to go to Mr. Losea’s. He said he would carry me to Watertown and I could take the stage for Lockport, but the stage had left about half an hour before we arrived there, so Mr. Vandervort said he would bring me up in the evening. We started after tea and arrived here in safety, but too late to do anything towards getting a class. _Sat., Jan. 10th_ Mr. Granger the landlord told me I had better go and get Miss Cobe to assist me in getting a class. She called with me at several places. Did not get much encouragement, so I thought best to go to Felts Mills in the afternoon. Tavern bill 3 shillings, fare from Lockport to the Mills 2 s. Arrived at the Mills about 1 o’clock. Proceeded directly to the village school to see if any of the scholars wished to take lessons. Found two of them that would like to take lessons. Called at several places. Met with some encouragement. _Sunday, 11th._ Went to church in the afternoon. Very noisy here. Not much appearance of being the Sabbath. _Monday, 12th._ Concluded not to stay at the Mills. Found but three scholars there. So in the afternoon I came up to the Great Bend. Several called this evening to see my paintings. _Tuesday._ Very stormy. Went to the school to see if any of the scholars wished to take lessons in painting. Found none. Thought I would not stay there any longer. So when the stage came along in the afternoon I got on board, and thought I would stop at Antwerp, but on arriving there found that the stage was going to Ogdensburgh this evening. Thought I would come as far as Gouverneur. Arrived at Gouverneur about 9 o’clock. Put up at the Van Buren Hotel. _Wednesday 14._ Quite stormy, so that I could not get out much, but went to Elder Sawyer’s and to Mr. Fox’s. Mr. Clark, the principal of the Academy, carried the paintings to the hall this afternoon so that the pupils might see them. Brought them to me after school and said he would let me know next day whether any of the scholars wished to take lessons. I am almost discouraged, yet will wait with patience the decisions of to-morrow. _Thursday._ Pleasant day. Mr. Clark came down this morning. Said Miss Wright, the preceptress, would like to take lessons; and I found several others that thought they would take lessons. Found a boarding place at Mr. Horr’s. The family consists of Mr. and Mrs. Horr and their two daughters, hired girl and a little girl that they have adopted, and seven boarders, besides myself. _Sunday, February 8th._ Have been to church to-day. Eld. Sawyer preached in the forenoon. Communion this afternoon. Went to prayer meeting this evening. _Monday, 9th._ Went to Mr. Fox’s to-day to give Miss Goddard a lesson in painting. Miss Wright also takes lessons. _Tues., 10th._ This has been a beautiful day. Spring is coming again. I hear her sweet voice, floating on the south wind, and the sound of her approaching footsteps comes from the hills. Have given Miss Goddard two lessons in painting to-day. _Wednesday, Feb. 18th._ Have packed my trunk and expect to leave Gouverneur to-morrow morning. Have received two letters to-day, one from Mrs. Shea, and one from Elmina and Ruth. Have settled with all my scholars and with Mrs. Horr. Have eighteen dollars and a half left. _Thursday, 19th._ Left Mr. Horr’s this morning for Antwerp. Fare from Gouverneur to Antwerp five shillings. Have endeavored to get a class here to-day. Think I shall not succeed. Fare and bill 7 and 6. _Friday, 20th._ Came to North Wilna to-day. Left my trunk at Mr. Brewer’s and came down to Mr. Gibbs’. Found Mr. Gibbs, Electa and Miranda at home. It was seven years last October since I left North Wilna, yet it looks quite natural here.... _Thursday, March 4th._ Frederick came and brought me to Philadelphia to-day. Am stopping at Mr. Kirkbride’s. Think I shall get something of a class here. _Friday._ Have been trying to get a class. Think I shall get a class in flowers. Have $15 with me now. _Sat., 6th_. Think I shall not succeed in forming a class here. The young ladies seem to have no time or money to spend except for leap year rides. _Sunday, 7th_ Went to the Methodist church this forenoon. Mr. Blanchard preached. The day is very beautiful, such a day as generally brings joy and gladness to my heart, but yet I am rather sad. I would like to sit down a little while with Miss Annette and Eleanor Wright to read Mrs. Hemans. Those were golden moments that I spent with them, and with Miss Ann in Gouverneur. _Sunday, Apr. 4th._ It is now four weeks since I have written a word in my journal. Did not get a class in Philadelphia, so I went down to Evans Mills. Stayed there two days but did not succeed in forming a class there, so I thought best to go to Watertown. Fare at Mr. Kirkbride’s 6 s at Mr. Brown’s $1. From Evans Mills to Watertown $0.50. Came up to Rutland Village Wednesday evening, fare 3 s. Went to Mrs. Staplin’s Tuesday. There was some prospect of getting a class there. Taught Charlotte to paint and Albina to make flowers. Came to Champion Friday March 26th to see if I could get a class here. Went back to Mrs. Staplin’s Friday evening. The next Monday evening Mr. K. Jones came and brought me up here again. Commenced teaching Wednesday the last day of March. Have four scholars, Miss C. Johnson, Miss C. Hubbard, Miss Mix, and Miss A. Babcock. Have attended church to-day. Mr. Bosworth preached. Am boarding at Mr. Babcock’s. There is some snow on the ground yet, and it is very cold for the season.
_McGrawville, May 5th, Wed. evening._ Yes, I am in McGrawville at last and Ruth is with me. We left home for this place Apr. 22nd. Came on the cars as far as Syracuse. Took the stage there for Cortland. Arrived at Cortland about ten in the evening. Stayed there over night. Next morning about 8 o’clock started for McG. Arrived here about nine.
_Saturday, Sept. 17 ’53._ What a long time has elapsed since I have written one word in my journal. Resolve now to note down here whatever transpires of importance to me. Am again at McGrawville after about one year’s absence. Arrived here Tuesday morning. To-day have entered the junior year in New York Central College. This day may be one of the most important in my life.
_Monday, Sept. 11th, 1854._ To-day have commenced my Senior year, at New York Central College. My studies are: Calculus; Philosophy, Natural and Mental; Greek, Homer. What rainbow hopes cluster around this year.
CHAPTER VI. –––––– COLLEGE DAYS.
New York Central College, at McGrawville, Cortland County, seems to have been the forerunner of Cornell University. Anybody, white or black, man or woman, could study there. It was a stronghold of reform in general and of abolition in particular, numbering among its patrons such men as John Pierpont, Gerrit Smith, and Horace Greeley. The college was poor, and the number of students small—about ninety in the summer of 1852, soon after Angeline Stickney’s arrival. Of this number some were fanatics, many were idealists of exceptionally high character, and some were merely befriended by idealists, their chief virtue being a black skin. A motley group, who cared little for classical education, and everything for political and social reforms. Declamation and debate and the preparation of essays and orations were the order of the day—as was only natural among a group of students who felt that the world awaited the proper expression of their doctrines. And in justice be it said, the number of patriotic men and women sent out by this little college might put to shame the well-endowed and highly respectable colleges of the country.
Angeline Stickney entered fully into the spirit of the place. In a letter written in December, 1852, she said:
I feel very much attached to that institution, notwithstanding all its faults; and I long to see it again, for its foundation rests on the basis of Eternal Truth—and my heart strings are twined around its every pillar.
To suit her actions to her words, she became a woman suffragist and adopted the “bloomer” costume. It was worth something in those early days to receive, as she did, letters from Susan B. Anthony and Horace Greeley. Of that hard-hitting Unitarian minister and noble poet, John Pierpont, she wrote, at the time of her graduation:
The Rev. John Pierpont is here. He preached in the chapel Sunday forenoon. He is a fine looking man. I wish you could see him. He is over seventy years old, but is as straight as can be, and his face is as fresh as a young man’s.
Little did she dream that this ardent patriot would one day march into Washington at the head of a New Hampshire regiment, and break bread at her table. Nor could she foresee that her college friends Oscar Fox and A. J. Warner would win laurels on the battlefields of Bull Run and Antietam, vindicating their faith with their blood. Both giants in stature, Captain Fox carried a minie-ball in his breast for forty years, and Colonel Warner, shot through the hip, was saved by a miracle of surgery. Of her classmates—there were only four, all men, who graduated with her—she wrote:
I think I have three as noble classmates as you will find in any College, they are Living Men.
It is amusing to turn from college friends to college studies—such a contrast between the living men and their academic labors. For example, Angeline Stickney took the degree of A.B. in July, 1855, having entered college, with a modest preparation, in April, 1852, and having been absent about a year, from November, 1852 to September, 1853, when she entered the Junior Class. It is recorded that she studied Virgil the summer of 1852; the fall of 1853, German, Greek, and mathematical astronomy; the next term, Greek and German; and the next term, ending July 12, 1854, Greek, natural philosophy, German and surveying. She began her senior year with calculus, philosophy, natural and mental, and Anthon’s Homer, and during that year studied also Wayland’s Political Economy and Butler’s Analogy. She is also credited with work done in declamation and composition, and “two orations performed.” Her marks, as far as my incomplete records show, were all perfect, save that for one term she was marked 98 per cent in Greek. Upon the credit slip for the last term her “standing” is marked “1”; and her “conduct” whenever marked is always 100.
However, be it observed that Angeline Stickney not only completed the college curriculum at McGrawville, but also taught classes in mathematics. In fact, her future husband was one of her pupils, and has borne witness that she was a “good, careful teacher.”
If McGrawville was not distinguished for high thinking, it could at least lay claim to plain living. Let us inquire into the ways and means of the Stickney sisters. I have already stated that board and lodging cost the two together only one dollar a week. They wrote home to their mother, soon after their arrival:
We are situated in the best place possible for studying domestic economy. We bought a quart of milk, a pound of crackers, and a sack of flour this morning.
Tuition for a term of three months was only five dollars; and poor students were encouraged to come and earn their way through college. Ruth returned home after one term, and Angeline worked for her board at a Professor Kingley’s, getting victuals, washing dishes, and sweeping. Even so, after two terms her slender means were exhausted, and she went home to teach for a year. Returning to college in September, 1853, she completed the course in two years, breaking down at last for lack of recreation and nourishment. Ruth returned to McGrawville in 1854, and wrote home: “found Angie well and in good spirits. We are going to board ourselves at Mr. Smith’s.” And Angeline herself wrote: “My health has been quite good ever since I came here. It agrees with me to study.... We have a very pleasant boarding place, just far enough from the college for a pleasant walk.”
Angeline was not selfishly ambitious, but desired her sister’s education as well as her own. Before the bar of her Puritanical conscience she may have justified her own ambition by being ambitious for her sister. In the fall of 1853 she wrote to Ruth:
I hope you will make up your mind to come out here to school next spring. You can go through college as well as I. As soon as I get through I will help you. You can go through the scientific course, I should think, in two years after next spring term if you should come that term. Then we would be here a year together, and you would get a pretty good start. There seems to be a way opening for me to get into good business as soon as I get through college.
And again, in January, 1854:
Ruth, I believe I am more anxious to have you come to school than I ever was before. I see how much it will increase your influence, and suffering humanity calls for noble spirits to come to its aid. And I would like to have you fitted for an efficient laborer. I know you have intellect, and I would have it disciplined and polished. Come and join the little band of reformers here, will you not? I want your society. Sometimes I get very lonely here, and I never should, if you were only here. Tell me in your next letter that you will come. I will help you all I can in every thing.
But Ruth lacked her sister’s indomitable will. She loved her, and wished to be with her, whether at home or at college. Indeed, in a letter to Angeline she said she would tease very hard to have her come home, did she not realize how her heart was set upon getting an education. Ruth did return to McGrawville in 1854, but remained only two months, on account of poor health. The student fare did not agree with the vigorous Ruth, apparently; and she now gave up further thought of college, and generously sought to help her sister what she could financially.
Though a dime at McGrawville was equivalent to a dollar elsewhere, Angeline was much cramped for money, and to complete her course was obliged finally to borrow fifty dollars from her cousin Joseph Downs, giving her note payable in one year. When her breakdown came, six weeks before graduation, Ruth, like a good angel, came and took her home. It was a case of sheer exhaustion, aggravated by a tremendous dose of medicine administered by a well-meaning friend. Though she returned to McGrawville and graduated with her class, even producing a sorry sort of poem for the commencement exercises, it was two or three years before she regained her health. Such was a common experience among ambitious American students fifty years ago, before the advent of athletics and gymnasiums.
In closing this chapter, I will quote a character sketch written by one of Angeline’s classmates:
_Slate Pencil Sketches—No. 2. L. A. C—and C. A. Stickney._ Miss C— is Professor of Rhetoric, and Miss Stickney is a member of the Senior Class, in N.Y. Central College. A description of their personal appearance may not be allowable; besides it could not be attracting, since the element of Beauty would not enter largely into the sketch. Both are fortunately removed to a safe distance from Beauty of the Venus type; though the truth may not be quite apparent, because the adornments of mind by the force of association have thrown around them the Quakerish veil of _good looks_ (to use moderate terms), which answers every desirable end of the most charming attractions, besides effectually saving both from the folly of Pride. Nevertheless, the writer of this sketch can have no earthly object in concealing his appreciation of the high brow, and Nymphean make of the one, and the lustrous eye of the other.
And these personal characteristics are happily suggestive of the marked mental traits of each. The intellect of the one is subtle, apprehensive, flexible, docile; with an imagination gay and discursive, loving the sentimental for the beauty of it. The intellect of the other is strong and comprehensive, with an imagination ardent and glowing, inclined perhaps to the sentimental, but ashamed to own it.
However, let these features pass for the moment until we have brought under review some other more obvious traits of character.
Miss C—, or if you will allow me to throw aside the _Miss_ and the Surname, and say Lydia and Angeline, who will complain? Lydia, then, is possessed of a good share of self-reliance—self-reliance arising from a rational self-esteem. Whether Angeline possesses the power of a proper self-appreciation or not, she is certainly wanting in self-reliance. She may manifest much confidence on occasions, but it is all acquired confidence; while with Lydia, it is all natural.
From this difference spring other differences. Lydia goes forward in public exercises as though the public were her normal sphere. On the other hand Angeline frequently appears embarrassed, though her unusual powers of _will_ never suffer her to make a failure. Lydia is ambitious; though she pursues the object of her ambition in a quiet, complacent way, and appropriates it when secured _all as a matter of course_. It is possible with Angeline to be ambitious, but _not at once_—and _never_ so naturally. Her ambition is born of many-yeared wishes—wishes grounded mainly in the moral nature, cherished by friendly encouragements, ripening at last into a settled purpose. Thus springs up her ambition, unconfessed—its triumph doubted even in the hour of fruition.
When I speak of the ambition of these two, I hope to be understood as meaning ambition with its true feminine modifications. And this is the contrast:—The ambition of the one is a necessity of her nature, the ripening of every hour’s aspiration; while the ambition of the other is but the fortunate afterthought of an unsophisticated wish.
Both the subjects of this sketch excel in prose and poetic composition. Each may rightfully lay claim to the name of poetess. But Lydia is much the better known in this respect. Perhaps the constitution of her mind inclines her more strongly to employ the ornaments of verse, in expressing her thoughts; and perhaps the mind of Angeline has been too much engrossed in scientific studies to allow of extensive English reading, or of patient efforts at elaboration. Hence her productions reveal the _poet_ only; while those of her friend show both the _poet_ and the _artist_. In truth, Lydia is by nature far more artificial than Angeline—perhaps I should have said _artistic_. Every line of her composition reveals an effort at ornament. The productions of Angeline impress you with the idea that the author must have had no foreknowledge of what kind of style would come of her efforts. Not so with Lydia. Her style is manifestly Calvinistic; in all its features it bears the most palpable marks of election and predestination. Its every trait has been subjected to the ordeal of choice, either direct or indirect. You know it to be a something _developed_ by constant retouches and successive admixtures. Not that it is an _imitation_ of admired authors; yet it is plainly the result of an imitative nature—a something, not borrowed, but _caught_ from a world of beauties, just as sometimes a well-defined thought is the sequence of a thousand flitting conceptions. Her style is the offspring, the issue of the love she has cherished for the beautiful in other minds yet bearing the image of her own.
Not so with Angeline, for there is no imitativeness in her nature. Her style can arise from no such commerce of mind, but the Spirit of the Beautiful overshadowing her, it springs up in its singleness, and its genealogy cannot be traced.
But this contrast of style is not the only contrast resulting from this difference in imitation and in love of ornament. It runs through all the phases of their character. Especially is it seen in manner, dress and speech; but in speech more particularly. When Lydia is in a passage of unimpassioned eloquence, her speech reminds you that the tongue is Woman’s plaything; while Angeline plies the same organ with as utilitarian an air as a housewife’s churn-dasher. But pardon this exaggeration: something may be pardoned to the spirit of liberty; and the writer is aware that he is using great liberties.
To return: Lydia has a fine sense of the ludicrous. Her name is charmingly appropriate, signifying in the original playful or sportive. Her laughter wells up from within, and gurgles out from the corners of her mouth. Angeline is but moderately mirthful, and her laughter seems to come from somewhere else, and shines on the outside of her face like pale moonlight. In Lydia’s mirthfulness there is a strong tincture of the sarcastic and the droll. Angeline at the most is only humorous. When a funny thing happens, Lydia laughs _at_ it—Angeline laughs _about_ it. Lydia might be giggling all day alone, just at her own thoughts. Angeline I do not believe ever laughs except some one is by to talk the fun. And in sleep, while Lydia was dreaming of jokes and quips, Angeline might be fighting the old Nightmare.
After all, do not understand me as saying that the Professor C—– is always giggling like a school-girl; or that the Senior Stickney is apt to be melancholy and down in the mouth. I have tried to describe their feelings relatively.
Lydia has a strong, active imagination, marked by a vivid playfulness of fancy. Her thoughts flow on, earnest, yet sparkling and flashing like a raven-black eye. Angeline has an imagination that glows rather than sparkles. It never scintillates, but gradually its brightness comes on with increasing radiance. If the thoughts of Lydia flit like fire flies, the thoughts of Angeline unfold like the blowing rose. If the fancy of one glides like a sylph or tiptoes like a school-girl, the imagination of the other bears on with more stateliness, though with less grace. Lydia’s imagination takes its flight up among the stars, it turns, dives, wheels, peers, scrutinizes, wonders and grows serious and then fearful. But the imagination of the other takes its stand like a maiden by the side of a clear pool, and gazes down into the depths of Beauty.
Their different gifts befit their different natures. While one revels in delight, the other is lost in rapture; while one is trembling with awe, the other is quietly gazing into the mysterious. While one is worshipping the beautiful, the other lays hold on the sublime. Beauty is the ideal of the one; sublimity is the normal sphere of the other. Both seek unto the spiritual, but through different paths. When the qualities of each are displayed, the one is a chaste star shining aloft in the bright skies; the other is a sunset glow, rich as gold, but garish all around with gray clouds.
CHAPTER VII. –––––– COLLEGE PRODUCTIONS.
It is next in order to examine some of the literary productions of Angeline Stickney while at college. Like the literary remains of Oliver Cromwell, they are of a strange and uncertain character. It would be easy to make fun of them; and yet sincerity is perhaps their chief characteristic. They are Puritanism brought down to the nineteenth century—solemn, absurd, almost maudlin in their religious sentimentality, and yet deeply earnest and at times noble. The manuscripts upon which these literary productions are recorded are worn, creased, stained, torn and covered with writing—bearing witness to the rigid economy practiced by the writer. The penmanship is careful, every letter clearly formed, for Angeline Stickney was not one of those vain persons who imagine that slovenly handwriting is a mark of genius.
First, I will quote a passage illustrating the intense loyalty of our young Puritan to her Alma Mater:
About a year since, I bade adieu to my fellow students here, and took the farewell look of the loved Alma Mater, Central College. It was a “longing, lingering look” for I thought it had never seemed so beautiful as on that morning. The rising sun cast a flood of golden light upon it making it glow as if it were itself a sun; and so I thought indeed it was, a sun of truth just risen, a sun that would send forth such floods of light that Error would flee before it and never dare to come again with its dark wing to brood over our land.—And every time I have thought of Central College during my absence, it has come up before me with that halo of golden light upon it, and then I have had such longings to come and enjoy that light; and now I have come, and I am glad that I am here. Yes, I am glad, though I have left my home with all its clear scenes and loving hearts; I am glad though I know the world will frown upon me, because I am a student of this unpopular institution, and I expect to get the name that I have heard applied to all who come here, “fanatic.” I am glad that I am here because I love this institution. I love the spirit that welcomes all to its halls, those of every tongue, and of every hue, which admits of “no rights exclusive,” which holds out the cup of knowledge in it’s crystal brightness for all to quaff; and if this is fanaticism, I will glory in the name “fanatic.” Let me live, let me die a fanatic. I will not seal up in my heart the fountain of love that gushes forth for all the human race. And I am glad I am here because there are none here to say, “thus far thou mayst ascend the hill of Science and no farther,” when I have just learned how sweet are the fruits of knowledge, and when I can see them hanging in such rich clusters, far up the heights, looking so bright and golden, as if they were inviting me to partake. And all the while I can see my brother gathering those golden fruits, and I mark how his eye brightens, as he speeds up the shining track, laden with thousands of sparkling gems and crowned with bright garlands of laurel, gathered from beside his path. No, there are none here to whisper, “_that_ is beyond _thy_ sphere, thou couldst never scale those dizzy heights”; but, on the contrary, here are kind voices cheering me onward. I have long yearned for such words of cheer, and now to hear them makes my way bright and my heart strong.
C. A. STICKNEY.
Next, behold what a fire-eater this modest young woman could be:
Yes, let the union be dissolved rather than bow in submission to such a detestable, abominable, infamous law, a law in derogation of the genius of our free institutions, an exhibition of tyranny and injustice which might well put to the blush a nation of barbarians. Ours is called a glorious union. Then is a union of robbers, of pirates, a glorious union; for to rob a man of liberty is the worst of robberies, the foulest of piracies. Let us just glance at one of the terrible features of this law, at the provision which allows to the commissioner who is appointed to decide upon the future freedom or slavery of the fugitive the sum of ten dollars if he decides in favor of his slavery and but five if in favor of freedom. Legislative bribery striking of hands with the basest iniquity!... What are the evils that can accrue to the nation from a dissolution of the union? Would such a dissolution harm the North? No. It would be but a separation from a parasite that is sapping from us our very life. Would it harm the South? No. Let them stand alone and be abhorred of all nations, that they may the sooner learn the lesson of repentance! Would it harm the slave? No. Such a dissolution would strike the death blow to slavery. Let us look: Deut. 23, 15 & 16: “Thou shalt not deliver over unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee. He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose.”—The law of God against the fugitive slave law. Which shall we obey?
The passages quoted are more fraught with feeling than any of the rest of the prose selections before me; and I will pass over most of them, barely mentioning the subjects. There is a silly and sentimental piece entitled “Mrs. Emily Judson,” in which the demise of the third wife of the famous missionary is noticed. There is a short piece of argumentation in behalf of a regulation requiring attendance on public worship. There is a sophomoric bit of prose entitled “The Spirit Of Song,” wherein we have a glimpse of the Garden of Eden and its happy lovers. There is a piece, without title, in honor of earth’s angels, the noble souls who give their lives to perishing and oppressed humanity. The following, in regard to modern poetry, is both true and well expressed:
The superficial unchristian doctrine of our day is that poetry flourishes most in an uncultivated soil, that the imagination shapes her choicest images from the mists of a superstitious age. The materials of poetry must ever remain the same and inexhaustible. Poetry has its origin in the nature of man, in the deep and mysterious recesses of the human soul. It is not the external only, but the inner life, the mysterious workmanship of man’s heart and the slumbering elements of passion which furnish the materials of poetry.
Finally, because of the subject, I quote the following:
The study of Astronomy gives us the most exalted views of the Creator, and it exalts ourselves also, and binds our souls more closely to the soul of the Infinite. What wonders does it reveal! It teaches that the earth, though it seem so immovable, not only turns on its axis, but goes sweeping round a great circle whose miles are counted by millions; and though it seem so huge, with its wide continents and vast oceans, it is but a speck when compared with the manifold works of God. It teaches the form, weight, and motion of the earth, and then it bids us go up and weigh and measure the sun and planets and solve the mighty problems of their motion. But it stops not here. It bids us press upward beyond the boundary of our little system of worlds up to where the star-gems lie glowing in the great deep of heaven. And then we find that these glittering specks are vast suns, pressing on in their shining courses, sun around sun, and system around system, in harmony, in beauty, in grandeur; and as we view them spread out in their splendour and infinity, we pause to think of Him who has formed them, and we feel his greatness and excellence and majesty, and in contemplating Him, the most sublime object in the universe, our own souls are expanded, and filled with awe and reverence and love. And they long to break through their earthly prison-house that they may go forth on their great mission of knowledge, and rising higher and higher into the heavens they may at last bow in adoration and worship before the throne of the Eternal.
To complete this study of Angeline Stickney’s college writings, it is necessary, though somewhat painful, to quote specimens of her poetry. For example:
There was worship in Heaven. An angel choir, On many and many a golden lyre Was hymning its praise. To the strain sublime With the beat of their wings that choir kept time. etc., etc., etc.
One is tempted to ask maliciously, “Moulting time?”
Here is another specimen, of which no manuscript copy is in existence, its preservation being due to the loving admiration of Ruth Stickney, who memorized it:
Clouds, ye are beautiful! I love to gaze Upon your gorgeous hues and varying forms, When lighted with the sun of noon-day’s blaze, Or when ye are darkened with the blackest storms. etc., etc., etc.
Next, consider this rather morbidly religious effusion in blank verse:
I see thee reaching forth thy hand to take The laurel wreath that Fame has twined and now Offers to thee, if thou wilt but bow down And worship at her feet and bring to her The goodly offerings of thy soul. I see Thee grasp the iron pen to write thy name In everlasting characters upon The gate of Fame’s fair dome. But stay thy hand! Ah, take not yet the wreath of Fame, lest thou Be satisfied with its false glittering And fail to win a brighter, fairer crown,— Such crown as Fame’s skilled fingers ne’er have learned To fashion, e’en a crown of Life. And bring Thy offerings, the first, the best, and place Them on God’s altar, and for incense sweet Give Him the freshness of thy youth. And thus Thou mayest gain a never fading crown. And wait not now to trace thy name upon The catalogue of Fame’s immortal ones, but haste thee first To have it writ in Heaven in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Pardon this seeming betrayal of a rustic poetess. For it seems like betrayal to quote such lines, when she produced much better ones. For example, the following verses are, to my mind, true and rather good poetry:
I have not known thee long friend, Yet I remember thee; Aye deep within my heart of hearts Shall live thy memory. And I would ask of thee friend That thou wouldst think of me.
I love to live. There are ten thousand cords Which bind my soul to life, ten thousand sweets Mixed with the bitter of existence’ cup Which make me love to quaff its mingled wine. There are sweet looks and tones through all the earth That win my heart. Love-looks are in the lily’s bell And violet’s eye, and love-tones on the winds And waters. There are forms of grace which all The while are gliding by, enrapturing My vision. O, I can not guess how one Can weary of the earth, when ev’ry year To me it seems more and more beautiful; When each succeeding spring the flowers wear A fairer hue, and ev’ry autumn on The forest top are richer tints. When each Succeeding day the sunlight brighter seems, And ev’ry night a fairer beauty shines From all the stars....
Likewise, this rather melancholy effusion, entitled “Waiting”:
Love, sweet Love, I’m waiting for thee, And my heart is wildly beating At the joyous thought of meeting With its kindred heart so dear. Love, I’m waiting for thee here.
Love, _now_ I am waiting for thee. _Soon_ I shall not wait thee more, Neither by the open casement, Nor beside the open door Shall I sit and wait thee more.
Love, I shall not wait long for thee, Not upon Time’s barren shore, For I see my cheek is paling, And I feel my strength is failing. Love, I shall not wait here for thee.
Yet in Heaven I will await thee. When I ope the golden door I will ask to wait there for thee, Close beside Heaven’s open door.
There I’ll stand and watch and listen Till I see thy white plumes glisten, Hear thy angel-pinions sweeping Upward through the ether clear; Then, beloved, at Heaven’s gate meeting, This shall be my joyous greeting, “Love, I’m waiting for thee here.”
CHAPTER VIII. –––––– ASAPH HALL, CARPENTER.
Like many other impecunious Americans (Angeline Stickney included), Asaph Hall, carpenter, and afterwards astronomer, came of excellent family. He was descended from John Hall, of Wallingford, Conn., who served in the Pequot War. The same John Hall was the progenitor of Lyman Hall, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Governor of Georgia. The carpenter’s great-grandfather, David Hall, an original proprietor of Goshen, Conn., was killed in battle near Lake George on that fatal 8th of September, 1755. His grandfather, Asaph Hall 1st, saw service in the Revolution as captain of Connecticut militia. This Asaph and his sister Alice went from Wallingford about 1755, to become Hall pioneers in Goshen, Conn., where they lived in a log house. Alice married; Asaph prospered, and in 1767 built himself a large house. He was a friend of Ethan Allen, was with him at the capture of Ticonderoga, and was one of the chief patriots of Goshen. He saw active service as a soldier, served twenty-four times in the State legislature, and was a member of the State convention called to ratify the Federal Constitution. Hall Meadow, a fertile valley in the town of Goshen, still commemorates his name. He accumulated considerable property, so that his only child, the second Asaph Hall, born in 1800 a few months after his death, was brought up a young gentleman, and fitted to enter Yale College. But the mother refused to be separated from her son, and before he became of age she set him up in business. His inheritance rapidly slipped away; and in 1842 he died in Georgia, where he was selling clocks, manufactured in his Goshen factory.
_See Wallingford Land Records, vol. 13, p. 541._
Asaph Hall 3rd, born October 15, 1829, was the eldest of six children. His early boyhood was spent in easy circumstances, and he early acquired a taste for good literature. But at thirteen he was called upon to help his mother rescue the wreckage of his father’s property. Fortunately, the Widow, Hannah (Palmer) Hall, was a woman of sterling character, a daughter of Robert Palmer, first of Stonington, then of Goshen, Conn. To her Asaph Hall 3rd owed in large measure his splendid physique; and who can say whether his mental powers were inherited from father or mother?
For three years the widow and her children struggled to redeem a mortgaged farm. During one of these years they made and sold ten thousand pounds of cheese, at six cents a pound. It was a losing fight, so the widow retired to a farm free from mortgage, and young Asaph, now sixteen, was apprenticed to Herrick and Dunbar, carpenters. He served an apprenticeship of three years, receiving his board and five dollars a month. During his first year as a journeyman he earned twenty-two dollars a month and board; and as he was still under age he gave one hundred dollars of his savings to his mother. Her house was always home to him; and when cold weather put a stop to carpentry, he returned thither to help tend cattle or to hunt gray squirrels. For the young carpenter was fond of hunting.
One winter he studied geometry and algebra with a Mr. Rice, principal of the Norfolk Academy. But he found he was a better mathematician than his teacher. Indeed, he had hardly begun his studies at McGrawville when he distinguished himself by solving a problem which up to that time had baffled students and teachers alike. But this is anticipating.
Massachusetts educators would have us believe that a young man of twenty-five should have spent nine years in primary and grammar schools, four years more in a high school, four years more at college, and three years more in some professional school. Supposing the victim to have begun his career in a kindergarten at the age of three, and to have pursued a two-years’ course there, at twenty-five his education would be completed. He would have finished his education, provided his education had not finished him.
Now at the age of twenty-four or twenty-five Asaph Hall 3rd only began serious study. He brought to his tasks the vigor of an unspoiled youth, spent in the open air. He worked as only a man of mature strength can work, and he comprehended as only a man of keen, undulled intellect can comprehend. His ability as a scholar called forth the admiration of fellow-students and the encouragement of teachers. The astronomer Brünnow, buried in the wilds of Michigan, far from his beloved Germany, recognized in this American youth a worthy disciple, and Dr. Benjamin Apthorp Gould, father of American astronomy, promptly adopted Asaph Hall into his scientific family.
If our young American’s experience puts conventional theories of education to the blush, much more does his manhood reflect upon the theory that unites intellectuality with personal impurity. The historian Lecky throws a glamor over the loathesomeness of what is politely known as the social evil, and calls the prostitute a modern priestess. And it is well known that German university students of these degenerate days consider continence an absurdity. Asaph Hall was as pure as Sir Gallahad, who sang:
My good blade carves the casques of men, My tough lance thrusteth sure, My strength is as the strength of ten, Because my heart is pure.
Let it be conceded that this untutored American youth had had an excellent course in manual training—anticipating the modern fad in education by half a century. However, he had never belonged to an Arts and Crafts Movement, and had never made dinky little what-nots or other useless and fancy articles. He had spent eight years at carpenter work; three years as an apprentice and five years as a journeyman, and he was a skilful and conscientious workman. He handled his tools as only carpenters of his day and generation were used to handle them, making doors, blinds, and window-sashes, as well as hewing timbers for the frames of houses. Monuments of his handiwork, in the shape of well-built houses, are to be seen in Connecticut and Massachusetts to this day. Like other young men of ability, he was becomingly modest, and his boss, old Peter Bogart, used to say with a twinkle in his eye, that of all the men in his employ, Asaph Hall was the only one who didn’t know more than Peter Bogart.
And yet it was Asaph Hall who showed his fellow carpenters how to construct the roof of a house scientifically. “Cut and try” was their rule; and if the end of a joist was spoilt by too frequent application of the rule, they took another joist. But the young carpenter knew the thing could be done right the first time; and so, without the aid of text-book or instructor, he worked the problem out, by the principles of projection. The timbers sawed according to his directions fitted perfectly, and his companions marveled.
To himself the incident meant much, for he had proved himself more than a carpenter. His ambition was aroused, and he resolved to become an architect. But a kindly Providence led him on to a still nobler calling. In 1854 he set out for McGrawville thinking that by the system of manual labor there advertised he could earn his way as he studied. When the stage rolled into town, whom should he see but Angeline Stickney, dressed in her “bloomer” costume!
CHAPTER IX. –––––– COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE.
President Eliot of Harvard University is quoted as saying that marriage ought to unite two persons of the same religious faith: otherwise it is likely to prove unhappy. President Eliot has said many wise things, but this is not one of them—unless he is shrewdly seeking to produce bachelors and spinsters to upbuild his university. One of Angeline Stickney’s girl friends had a suitor of the Universalist denomination, and a very fine man he was; but the girl and her mother belonged to the Baptist denomination, which was the denomination of another suitor, whom she married for denominational reasons. Abbreviating the word, her experience proves the following principle: If a young woman belonging to the Baptist demnition rejects an eligible suitor because he belongs to the Universalist demnition, she is likely to go to the demnition bow-wows.
For religious tolerance even in matrimony there is the best of reasons: We are Protestants before we are Baptists or Universalists, Christians before we are Catholics or Protestants, moralists before we are Jews or Christians, theists before we are Mohammedans or Jews, and human before every thing else.
Angeline Stickney, like her girl friend, was a sincere Baptist. Had joined the church at the age of sixteen. One of her classmates, a person of deeply religious feeling like herself, was a suitor for her hand. But she married Asaph Hall, who was outside the pale of any religious sect, disbelieved in woman-suffrage, wasted little sympathy on negroes, and played cards! And her marriage was infinitely more fortunate than her friend’s. To be sure she labored to convert her splendid Pagan, and partially succeeded; but in the end he converted her, till the Unitarian church itself was too narrow for her.
Cupid’s ways are strange, and sometimes whimsical. There was once a young man who made fun of a red-haired woman and used to say to his companions, “Get ready, get ready,” till Reddy got him! No doubt the little god scored a point when Asaph Hall saw Angeline Stickney solemnly parading in the “bloomer” costume. Good humor was one of the young man’s characteristics, and no doubt he had a hearty laugh at the young lady’s expense. But Dan Cupid contrived to have him pursue a course in geometry taught by Miss Stickney; and, to make it all the merrier, entangled him in a plot to down the teacher by asking hard questions. The teacher did not down, admiration took the place of mischief, and Cupid smiled upon a pair of happy lovers.
The love-scenes, the tender greetings and affectionate farewells, the ardent avowals and gracious answers—all these things, so essential to the modern novel, are known only in heaven. The lovers have lived their lives and passed away. Some words of endearment are preserved in their old letters—but these, gentle reader, are none of your business.
However, I may state with propriety a few facts in regard to Angeline Stickney’s courtship and marriage. It was characteristic of her that before she became engaged to marry she told Asaph Hall all about her father. He, wise lover, could distinguish between sins of the stomach and sins of the heart, and risked the hereditary taint pertaining to the former—and this although she emphasized the danger by breaking down and becoming a pitiable invalid. Just before her graduation she wrote:
I believe God sent you to love me just at this time, that I might not get discouraged.
How very good and beautiful you seemed to me that Saturday night that I was sick at Mr. Porter’s, and you still seem just the same. I hope I may sometime repay you for all your kindness and love to me. If I have already brightened your hopes and added to your joy I am thankful. I hope we may always be a blessing to each other and to all around us; and that the great object of our lives may be the good that we can do. There are a great many things I wish to say to you, but I will not try to write them now. I hope I shall see you again soon, and then I can tell you all with my own lips. Do not study too hard, Love, and give yourself rest and sleep as much as you need.
A. HALL. C. A. S.
After her graduation, Mr. Hall accompanied her to Rodman, where he visited her people a week or ten days—a procedure always attended with danger to Dan Cupid’s plans. In this case, it is said the young carpenter was charmed with the buxom sister Ruth, who was, in fact, a much more marriageable woman than Angeline. But he went about to get the engagement ring, which, in spite of a Puritanical protest against such adornment, was faithfully worn for twenty years. At last the busy housewife burned her fingers badly washing lamp-chimneys with carbolic acid, and her astronomer husband filed asunder the slender band of gold.
That the Puritan maiden disdained the feminine display by which less manly lovers are ensnared is illustrated by the following extract from a letter to Mr. Hall:
Last week Wednesday I went to Saratoga. Staid there till the afternoon of the next day. The Convention was very interesting. The speakers were Rev. Antoinette L. Brown, Lucy Stone Blackwell, Ernestine Rose, Samuel J. May, and T. W. Higginson.
The streets of Saratoga were thronged with fashionables. I never saw before such a display of dress. Poor gilded butterflies, no object in life but to make a display of their fine colors. I could not help contrasting those ladies of fashion with the earnest, noble, working women who stood up there in that Convention, and with words of eloquence urged upon their sisters the importance of awaking to usefulness.
This letter was written in August, 1855, when Angeline Stickney was visiting friends and relatives in quest of health. In the same letter she sent directions for Mr. Hall to meet her in Albany on his way to McGrawville; but for some reason he failed her, although he passed through the city while she was there. This was a grievous disappointment, of which she used to speak in after years.
But in a few days they were together at McGrawville, where she remained ten weeks—visiting friends, of course. November 13 she set out for Wisconsin, hoping to find employment as a teacher near her sister Charlotte Ingalls. Mr. Hall purposed to follow later. At depots and hotels, during the journey westward, she thought of the absent lover, and sent him long messages. In one letter she said:
One night I dreamed you had gone away somewhere, without letting any one know where, and I tried to find where you had gone but could not. Then I felt as miserable as could be. When I awoke it still seemed a reality.... You must be a good boy and not go away where I shall not know where you are.... It makes my heart ache to think what a long weary way it is from Wisconsin to McGrawville.
In the same letter she speaks about lengthening a poem, so that the time occupied in reading it was about twenty minutes. In married life Mr. Hall rather discouraged his wife’s inclination to write verses. Is it possible that he flattered her before marriage? If so, it was no more than her other admirers did.
Again, in the same letter, she pleads for the cultivation of religion:
Did you go to the prayer-meeting last evening? It seemed to me that you were there. If you do not wish to go alone I am sure Mr. Fox will go with you. You must take some time, Love, to think of the life beyond the grave. You must not be so much engaged in your studies that you cannot have time to think about it and prepare for it.
About the middle of December she had reached Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where she remained a fortnight with Elder Bright, her old pastor. Then she went to her sister Charlotte’s, at Milford. In one of her letters from this place she speaks of going surveying. It seems the surveyor of the neighborhood was surprised to find a woman who understood his business.
In the latter part of December, Asaph Hall returned to Goshen, Conn. Hence the following letter:
GOSHEN, Jan. 17th, 1856.
DEAREST ANGIE: ... I think of you a great deal, Angie, and sometimes when I feel how much better and holier you are than I am, I think that I ought to go through with much trial and affliction before I shall be fitted for your companion. In this way I presume that my letters have been shaded by my occasional sad thoughts. But Angie you _must not_ let them affect you any more, or cherish gloomy thoughts about me. I would not drive the color from your cheek or give you one bad thought concerning me for the world. I want, very much, to see you look healthy and strong when I meet you.... Every time I go away from home, among strangers, I feel my need of you. My friends here, even my sisters, seem cold and distant when compared with you. O there is no one like the dear one who nestles in our hearts, and loves us always. My mother loves me, and is very dear to me, and my sisters too, but then they have so many other things to think about that their sympathies are drawn towards other objects. I must have you, Angie, to love me, and we will find a good happy home somewhere, never fear. And now you must be cheerful and hopeful, try to get rid of your headaches, and healthy as fast as you can.... You must remember that I love you very much, and that with you life looks bright and hopeful, while if I should lose you I fear that I should become sour and disheartened, a hater of my kind. May God bless you, Angie.
The next month Mr. Hall was in Milford, Wisconsin, whence he wrote to Angeline’s mother as follows:
MILFORD, WISCONSIN, Feb. 28th.
DEAR MRS. WOODWARD: ... I find Angeline with her health much improved.... We expect to be married some time this spring. I fear that I shall fail to fulfil the old rule, which says that a man should build his house before he gets his wife, and shall commence a new life rather poor in worldly goods. But then we know how, and are not ashamed to work, and feel trustful of the future. At least, I am sure that we shall feel stronger, and better fitted to act an honorable part in life, when we are living together, and encouraging each other, than we could otherwise. I know that this will be the case with myself, and shall try to make it so with Angeline.
This hardly sounds like the epistle of a reluctant lover; and yet tradition says the young carpenter hesitated to marry; and for a brief season Angeline Stickney remembered tearfully that other McGrawville suitor who loved her well, but whose bashful love was too tardy to forestall the straightforward Mr. Hall. “The course of true love never did run smooth.” In this case, the trouble seems to have been the lady’s feeble health. When they were married she was very weak, and it looked as if she could not live more than two or three years. But her mental powers were exceptionally strong, and she remembered tenaciously for many a year the seeming wrong.
However, under date of April 2, 1856, Angeline wrote to her sister Mary, from Ann Arbor, Michigan:
Mr. Hall and I went to Elder Bright’s and staid over Sunday. We were married Monday morning, and started for this place in the afternoon. Mr. Hall came here for the purpose of pursuing his studies. We have just got nicely settled. Shall remain here during the summer term, and perhaps three or four years.
And so Asaph Hall studied astronomy under the famous Brünnow, and French under Fasquelle. And he used to carry his frail wife on his back across the fields to hunt wild flowers.
CHAPTER X. –––––– ANN ARBOR AND SHALERSVILLE.
Do you know the beautiful legend of St. Christopher, the strong man who served his masters well, but was dissatisfied in their service until he heard of the Lord and Master Jesus Christ?—how he then served gladly at a ford, carrying pilgrims across on his back—how one day a little child asked to be carried across, and perching on his broad shoulders grew heavier and heavier till the strong man nearly sank beneath the weight? But he struggled manfully over the treacherous stones, and with a supreme effort bore his charge safely through the waters. And behold, the little child was Christ himself!
I think of that legend when I think of the poor ambitious scholar, literally saddled by his invalid wife. For three years he hardly kept his head above water. At one time he thought he could go no further, and proposed that she stay with his mother while he gained a better footing. But she pleaded hard, and he struggled through, to receive the reward of duty nobly done.
They remained at Ann Arbor about three months. But in that time Asaph Hall had made so favorable an impression that Professor Brünnow urged him to continue his studies, and arranged matters so that he might attend college at Ann Arbor as long as he chose without paying tuition fees. Angeline made plans for her sister Ruth and husband to move to Michigan, where Asaph could build them a house.
But a living for two must be provided. They went southward into Ohio, where they spent a month with Angeline’s Aunt Achsah Taylor, her mother’s sister. You may be sure they earned their board, Angeline in the house and Asaph in the hayfield. Uncle Taylor was a queer old fellow, shedding tears when his hay got wet, and going off to the hotel for dinner when his wife happened to give him the wrong end of a fish.
August 6, 1856, they arrived at Shalersville, Ohio, where they had engaged to teach at the Shalersville Institute. Here they remained till about May 1 of the next year, when Angeline returned to Rodman with funds enough to pay with interest the money borrowed from her cousin Joseph Downs; and Asaph proceeded to Cambridge, Mass., where the director of the Harvard Observatory was in need of an assistant.
Let it not be inferred that teaching at Shalersville was financially profitable. Asaph Hall concluded that he preferred carpentry. And yet, in the best sense they were most successful—things went smoothly—their pupils, some of them school teachers, were apt—and they were well liked by the people of Shalersville. Indeed, to induce them to keep school the last term the townspeople presented them with a purse of sixty dollars to eke out their income. Asaph Hall turned his mechanical skill to use by making a prism, a three-sided receptacle of glass filled with water. Saturdays he held a sort of smoke-talk for the boys—the smoke feature absent—and at least one country boy was inspired to step up higher. The lad became a civil engineer.
The little wife was proud of her manly husband, as the following passage from a letter to her sister Ruth shows:
He is real good, and we are very happy. He is a real noble, true man besides being an extra scholar, so you must never be concerned about my not being happy with him. He will take just the best care of me that he possibly can.
It appears also that she was converting her husband to the profession of religion. Before he left Ohio he actually united with the Campbellites, and was baptized. In the letter just quoted Angeline says:
We have been reading some of the strongest arguments against the Christian religion, also several authors who support religion, and he has come to the conclusion that all the argument is on the side of Christianity.
She looked after his physical welfare, also. When he was threatened with a severe fever, she wrapped him up in hot, wet blankets, and succeeded in throwing the poison off through the pores of the skin. So they cherished each other in sickness and in health.
Angeline’s cousin Mary Gilman, once a student at McGrawville, came to Shalersville seeking to enlarge the curriculum of the institute with a course in fine arts. She hindered more than she helped, and in January went away—but not till she had taught Angeline to paint in oil.
The old home ties were weakening. News came of the death of Joseph Downs, and Angeline wrote to her aunt, his mother:
He always seemed like a brother to me. I remember all our long walks and rides to school. How kind it was in him to carry me all that cold winter. Then our rides to church, and all the times we have been together.... I can send you the money I owed him any time.... I never can be enough obliged to him for his kindness in lending me that money, and I wished to see him very much, that I might tell him how thankful I felt when he sent it to me.
Her sister Ruth wrote:
Sweet sister, I am so _very lonely_. It would do me so much good to tell you all I wish. I have never found ... one so _willing to share all my grief and joy_.
But when Angeline did at length return to Rodman, Ruth’s comfort must have been mixed with pain. A letter to Asaph tells the story:
It is almost dark, but I wish to write a few words to you before I go to bed. I have had one of those bad spells of paralysis this afternoon, so that I could not speak for a minute or two.... I do not know what is to become of me. If I had some quiet little room with you perhaps I might get strength slowly and be good for something after awhile.... I do not mourn much for the blasting of my own hopes of usefulness; but I can not bear to be the canker worm destroying all your beautiful buds of promise.
She remained in poor health a long time—so thin and pale that old acquaintances hardly knew her. She wrote:
I feel something as a stranger feels in a strange land I guess. This makes me turn to you with all the more love. My home is where you are.
CHAPTER XI. –––––– STRENUOUS TIMES.
They had left Shalersville resolved that Asaph should continue his studies, but undecided where to go. Professor Brünnow invited him to Ann Arbor; and Mr. Bond, director of the Harvard College Observatory, encouraged him to go there. Besides, the famous mathematician Benjamin Peirce taught at Harvard. Not till they reached Cleveland was the decision made. The way West was barred by a storm on Lake Erie, and Angeline said, “Let’s go East.”
So she returned to Rodman for a visit, while her husband set out for Harvard University. Fifty years and more have passed since then. Their four sons have long since graduated at Harvard, and growing grandchildren are turning their eyes thither. Mr. Hall talked with Professors Peirce and Bond, and with the dean of the faculty, Professor Hosford. All gave him encouragement, and he proceeded to Plymouth Hollow, Conn., now called Thomaston, to earn money enough at carpentry to give him a start. He earned the highest wages given to carpenters at that time, a dollar and a half a day; but his wife’s poor health almost discouraged him. On May 19, 1857, he wrote her as follows:
I get along very well with my work, and try to study a little in the evenings, but find it rather hard business after a day’s labor.... I don’t fairly know what we had better do, whether I had better keep on with my studies or not. It would be much pleasanter for you, I suppose, were I to give up the pursuit of my studies, and try to get us a home. But then, as I have no tact for money-making by speculation, and it would take so long to earn enough with my hands to buy a home, we should be old before it would be accomplished, and in this case, my studies would have to be given up forever. I do not like to do this, for it seems to me that with two years’ more study I can attain a position in which I can command a decent salary. Perhaps in less time, I can pay my way at Cambridge, either by teaching or by assisting in the Observatory. But how and where we shall live during the two years is the difficulty. I shall try to make about sixty dollars before the first of August. With this money I think that I could stay at Cambridge one year and might possibly find a situation so that we might make our home there.
But I think that it is not best that we should both go to Cambridge with so little money, and run the risk of my finding employment. You must come here and stay with our folks until I get something arranged at Cambridge, and then, I hope that we can have a permanent home.... Make up your mind to be a stout-hearted little woman for a couple of years. Come to Conn. as soon as you are ready.
But Angeline begged to go to Cambridge with him, although she wrote:
These attacks are so sudden, I might be struck down instantly, or become helpless or senseless.
About the first of July she went to Goshen, Conn., to stay with his mother, in whom she found a friend. Though very delicate, she was industrious. Her husband’s strong twin sisters wondered how he would succeed with such a poor, weak little wife. But Asaph’s mother assured her son that their doubts were absurd, as Angeline accomplished as much as both the twins together.
So it came to pass that in the latter part of August, 1857, Asaph Hall arrived in Cambridge with fifty dollars in his pocket and an invalid wife on his arm. Mr. George Bond, son of the director of the observatory, told him bluntly that if he followed astronomy he would starve. He had no money, no social position, no friends. What right had he and his delicate wife to dream of a scientific career? The best the Harvard Observatory could do for him the first six months of his stay was to pay three dollars a week for his services. Then his pay was advanced to four dollars. Early in 1858 he got some extra work—observing moon-culminations in connection with Col. Joseph E. Johnston’s army engineers. For each observation he received a dollar; and fortune so far favored the young astronomer that in the month of March he made twenty-three such observations. His faithful wife, as regular as an alarm clock, would waken him out of a sound sleep and send him off to the observatory. In 1858, also, he began to eke out his income by computing almanacs, earning the first year about one hundred and thirty dollars; but competition soon made such work unprofitable. In less than a year he had won the respect of Mr. George Bond by solving problems which that astronomer was unable to solve; and at length, in the early part of 1859, upon the death of the elder Bond, his pay was raised to four hundred dollars a year. He had won the fight.
After his experience such a salary seemed quite munificent. The twin sisters visited Cambridge and were much dissatisfied with Asaph’s poverty. They tried to persuade Angeline to make him go into some more profitable business. Mr. Sibley, college librarian, observing his shabby overcoat and thin face, exclaimed, “Young man, don’t live on bread and milk!” The young man was living on astronomy, and his delicate wife was aiding and abetting him. In less than a year after his arrival at Cambridge, he had become a good observer. He had learned to compute. He was pursuing his studies with great ardor. He read _Brünnow’s Astronomy_ in German, which language his wife taught him mornings as he kindled the fire. In 1858 he was reading _Gauss’s Theoria Motus_.
Angeline was determined her husband should make good use of the talents God had given him. She was courageous as only a Puritan can be. In domestic economy she was unsurpassed. Husband and wife lived on much less than the average college student requires. She mended their old clothes again and again, turning the cloth; and economized with desperate energy.
At first they rented rooms and had the use of the kitchen in a house on Concord Avenue, near the observatory. But their landlady proving to be a woman of bad character, after eight or nine months they moved to a tenement house near North Avenue, where they lived a year. Here they sub-let one of their rooms to a German pack-peddler, a thrifty man, free-thinker and socialist, who was attracted to Mrs. Hall because she knew his language. He used to argue with her, and to read to her from his books, until finally she refused to listen to his doctrines, whereupon he got very angry, paid his rent, and left.
One American feels himself as good as another—if not better—especially when brought up in a new community. But Cambridge was settled long ago, and social distinctions are observed there. It was rather exasperating to Asaph Hall and his wife to be snubbed and ignored and meanly treated because they were poor and without friends. Even their grocer seemed to snub them, sending them bad eggs. You may be sure they quit him promptly, finding an honest grocer in Cambridgeport, a Deacon Holmes.
There is a great advantage in obscurity. Relieved of petty social cares and distractions a man can work. Mrs. Hall, writing to her sister Mary, February 4, 1859, declared her husband was “getting to be a _grand_ scholar”:
.... A little more study and Mr. Hall will be excelled by few in this country in his department of science. Indeed that is the case now, though he is not very widely known yet.
In another letter, dated December 15, 1858, she wrote:
People are beginning to know something of Mr. Hall’s worth and ability.
May 4, 1858 she wrote:
Mr. Hall has just finished computing the elements of the orbit of one [a comet] which have been published neatly in the _Astronomical Journal_.
And thus Dr. B. A. Gould, editor of the Journal, became acquainted with the young astronomer who was afterward his firm friend and his associate in the National Academy of Sciences.
Merit wins recognition—recognition of the kind which is worth while. It was not many months before the Halls found friends among quiet, unassuming people, and formed friendships that lasted for life. It was worth much to become acquainted with Dr. Morrill Wyman, their physician. In a letter of February 4, 1859, already cited, Mrs. Hall wrote: “Mr. Hall and I have both had some nice presents this winter,” and she mentions a Mrs. Wright and a Mr. Pritchett as donors. This Mr. Pritchett, an astronomer clergyman from Missouri, was the father of Dr. Henry S. Pritchett, a recent president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Hall had given him some assistance in his studies; and twenty years afterward Henry S. Pritchett, the son, became a member of the Hall family.
“We are having a holiday,” wrote Mrs. Hall, on the first May-day spent in Cambridge; “the children are keeping May-day something like the old English fashion. It is a beautiful day, the warmest we have had this spring. Mr. Hall and I have been Maying. Got some dandelions, and blossoms of the soft maple. Have made quite a pretty bouquet.” The tone of morbidness was beginning to disappear from her letters, for her health was improving. Her religious views were growing broader and more reasonable, also. Too poor to rent a pew in any of the churches, she and her husband attended the college chapel, where they heard the Rev. F. D. Huntington. In the following poem, suggested by one of his sermons, she seems to embody the heroic experience of those early days in Cambridge:
“THE MOUNTAINS SHALL BRING PEACE.”
O grand, majestic mountain! far extending In height, and breadth, and length,— Fast fixed to earth yet ever heavenward tending, Calm, steadfast in thy strength!
Type of the Christian, thou; his aspirations Rise like thy peaks sublime. The rocks immutable are thy foundations, His, truths defying time.
Like thy broad base his love is far outspreading; He scatters blessings wide, Like the pure springs which are forever shedding Sweet waters down thy side.
“The mountains shall bring peace,”—a peace transcending The peace of sheltered vale; Though there the elements ne’er mix contending, And its repose assail,
Yet ’tis the peace of weakness, hiding, cow’ring;— While thy majestic form In peerless strength thou liftest, bravely tow’ring Above the howling storm.
And there thou dwellest, robed in sunset splendor, Up ’mid the ether clear, Midst the soft moonlight and the starlight tender Of a pure atmosphere.
So, Christian soul, to thy low states declining, There is no peace for thee; Mount up! mount up! where the calm heavens are shining, Win peace by victory!
What giant forces wrought, O mount supernal! Back in the early time, In building, balancing thy form eternal With potency sublime!
O soul of mightier force, thy powers awaken! Work, sovereign energy! Build thou foundations which shall stand unshaken When heaven and earth shall flee.
O Mount! thy heart with earthquake shocks was rifted, With red fires melted through, And many were the mighty throes which lifted Thy head into the blue.
Let Calv’ry tell, dear Christ! the sacrificing By which thy peace was won; And the sad garden by what agonizing The world was overcome.
Then Christian soul! throughout thy grand endeavor Pray not that trials cease! ’Tis these that lift thee into Heaven forever, The Heaven of perfect peace.
It was the eve of the Civil War. The young astronomer and his Wife used to attend the Music Hall meetings in Boston, where Sumner, Garrison, Theodore Parker, and Wendell Phillips thundered away. On one occasion, after Lincoln’s election, Phillips spoke advocating disunion. The crowd was much excited, and threatened to mob him. “Hurrah for old Virginny!” they yelled. Phillips was as calm as a Roman; but it was necessary to form a body-guard to escort him home. Asaph Hall was a six-footer, and believed in fair play; so he joined the little knot of men who bore Phillips safely through the surging crowd. In after years he used to tell of Phillips’ apparent unconcern, and of his courteous bow of thanks when arrived at his doorstep.
Angeline Hall had an adventure no less interesting. She became acquainted with a shrewd old negress, called Moses, who had helped many slaves escape North, stirring up mobs, when necessary, to free the fugitives from the custody of officers. One day she went with Moses to call upon the poet Lowell. He treated them very kindly. Was glad to have a chat with the old woman, and smilingly asked her if it did not trouble her conscience to resist the law. Moses was ready to resist the law again, and Lowell gave her some money.
Superstitious people hailed the advent of Donati’s comet as a sign of war—and Angeline Hall was yet to mourn the loss of friends upon the battlefield. But hoping for peace and loving astronomy, she published the following verses in a local newspaper:
O, not in wrath but lovingly, In beauty pure and high, Bright shines the stranger visitant, A glory in our sky.
No harbinger of pestilence Nor battle’s fearful din; Then open wide, ye gates of heaven, And let the stranger in.
It seems a spirit visible Through some diviner air, With burning stars upon her brow And in her shining hair.
Through veil translucent, luminous Shines out her starry face, And wrapped in robes of light she glides Still through the silent space.
Ye everlasting stars shine on! And fill till it o’errun Thy silver horn thou ancient moon, From fountains of the sun!
But open wide the golden gates Into your realm of Even, And let the angel presence pass In glory through the heaven.
CHAPTER XII. –––––– LOVE IN A COTTAGE.
Miss Sarah Waitt, a Cambridge school-teacher of beautiful character, and firm friend of Angeline Hall, once said, after an acquaintance of thirty years or more, that she had never known of a happier married life than that of Mr. and Mrs. Hall. And yet these lovers quarreled!
The husband was opposed to woman suffrage. He opposed his wife’s writing poetry—not from an aversion to poetry, but because poetry inferior to the best is of little value. The wife, accustomed as an invalid to his thoughtful attentions, missed his companionship as health returned. What were her feelings the first night she found herself obliged to walk home alone! But thereafter, like a more consistent apostle of woman’s rights, she braved the night alone wherever duty led. She undertook to help her husband in his computations, but, failing to persuade him that her time was worth as much as his, she quit work. He could, indeed, compute much faster than she, but she feelingly demanded a man’s wages.
However, this labor trouble subsided without resort to boycott. The most serious quarrel—and for a time it was very dreadful—arose in this way:
It is well known that Boston is the intellectual and moral centre of the country, in fact of the world; the hub of the universe, as it were. There in ancient times witchcraft and the Quaker superstition were gently but firmly discouraged (compare _Giles Corey_, Longfellow’s fine drama, long since suppressed by Boston publishers). There in modern times descendants of the Puritans practice race-suicide and Irishmen practice politics. There a white man is looked upon as the equal of a negro, though somewhat inferior, in many ways, to the Boston woman. Now it so happened that some Boston and Cambridge ladies of Angeline Hall’s acquaintance had resolved beyond equivocation that woman should thenceforth be emancipated from skirts. They were delighted to find that Mrs. Hall, in college days, had worn the “bloomer” costume. So they very generously suggested that she have the honor of inaugurating bloomers in Boston and vicinity. Truly it showed a self-sacrificing spirit on the part of these ladies to allow this comparatively unknown sister to reap the honor due her who should abolish skirts. They would not for one moment think of robbing her of this honor by donning bloomers themselves. They could only suggest that the reform be instituted without delay, and they were eager to see how much the Boston public would appreciate it.
Mrs. Hall was enthusiastic. Mr. Hall was not. Sordid considerations biased his judgment. He reminded his wife that they were just struggling to their feet, and the bloomers might ruin their prospects. Mrs. Hall was furious! A pure-minded woman to be interfered with in this manner! And worse than that, to think that she had married a coward! “A coward”—yes, that is what she called him. It so happened, shortly afterward, that the astronomer, returning home one night, found his wife by the doorstep watching a blazing lamp, on the point of explosion. He stepped up and dropped his observing cap over the lamp. Whereupon she said, “You _are_ brave!” Strange she had not noticed it before!
Asaph Hall used to aver that a family quarrel is not always a bad thing. It may serve to clear the atmosphere. Could he have been thinking of his own experience? It is possible that the little quarrels indicated above led to a clearer understanding of the separate duties of husband and wife, and thence to a division of labor in the household. The secret of social progress lies in the division of labor. And the secret of success and great achievement in the Hall household lay in the division of labor. At an early date Mr. Hall confined his attention to astronomy, and Mrs. Hall confined hers to domestic cares. The world gained a worthy astronomer. Did it lose a reformer-poetess? Possibly. But it was richer by one more devoted wife and mother.
From the spring of 1859 to the end of their stay in Cambridge, that is, for three years, the Halls occupied the cozy little Bond cottage, at the top of Observatory Hill. Back of the cottage they had a vegetable garden, which helped out a small salary considerably. There in its season they raised most delicious sweet corn. In the dooryard, turning an old crank, was a rosy-cheeked little boy, who sang as he turned:
Julee, julee, mem, mem, Julee, julee, mem, mem;
then paused to call out:
“Mama, don’t you like my sweet voice?”
Asaph Hall, Jr., was born at the Bond cottage, October 6, 1859. If we may trust the accounts of his fond mother, he was a precocious little fellow—played bo-peep at four months—weighed twenty-one pounds at six months, when he used to ride out every day in his little carriage and get very rosy—took his first step at fourteen months, when he had ten teeth—was quite a talker at seventeen months, when he tumbled down the cellar stairs with a pail of coal scattered over him—darned his stocking at twenty-six months, and demanded that his aunt’s letter be read to him three or four times a day—at two and a half years trudged about in the snow in his rubber boots, and began to help his mother with the housework, declaring, “I’m big enough, mama.” “Little A.” was a general favorite. He fully enjoyed a clam bake, and was very fond of oranges. One day he got lost, and his terrified mother thought he might have fallen into a well. But he was found at last on his way to Boston to buy oranges.
Love in a cottage is sweeter and more prosperous when the cottage stands a hundred miles or more from the homes of relatives. How can wife cleave unto husband when mother lives next door? And how can husband prosper when father pays the bills? It was a fortunate piece of hard luck that Angeline Hall saw little of her people. As it was, her sympathy and interest constantly went out to mother and sisters. This is seen from her letters. In one she threatened to rescue her mother from the irate Mr. Woodward by carrying her off bodily to Cambridge. By others it appears that she was always in touch with her sisters Ruth and Mary. Indeed, during little A.’s early infancy Mary visited Cambridge and acted as nurse. In the summer of 1860, little A. and his mother visited Rodman. Charlotte Ingalls was on from the West, also, and there was a sort of family reunion. Charlotte, Angeline and Ruth, and their cousins Huldah and Harriette were all mothers now, and they merrily placed their five babies in a row.
In the fall of the same year Angeline visited her aunts, Lois and Charlotte Stickney, who still lived on their father’s farm in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. The old ladies were very poor, and labored in the field like men, maintaining a pathetic independence. Angeline was much concerned, but found some comfort, no doubt, in this example of Stickney grit. She had found her father’s old home, heard his story from his sisters’ lips, learned of the stalwart old grandfather, Moses Stickney; and from that time forth she took a great interest in the family genealogy. In 1863 she visited Jaffrey again, and that summer ascended Mt. Monadnock with her little boy. Just twenty-five years afterward, accompanied by her other three sons, she camped two or three weeks on her grandfather’s farm; and it was my own good fortune to ascend the grand old mountain with her. What a glorious day it was! Great white clouds lay against the blue sky in windrows. At a distance the rows appeared to merge into one great mass; but on the hills and fields and ponds below the shadows alternated with the sunshine as far as eye could reach. There beneath us lay the rugged land whose children had carried Anglo-Saxon civilization westward to the Pacific. Moses Stickney’s farm was a barren waste now, hardly noticeable from the mountain-top. Lois and Charlotte had died in the fall of 1869, within a few days of each other. House and barn had disappeared, and the site was marked by raspberry bushes. We drew water from the old well; and gathered the dead brush of the apple orchard, where our tent was pitched, to cook our victuals.
CHAPTER XIII. –––––– WASHINGTON AND THE CIVIL WAR.
Many an obscure man of ability was raised to prominence by the Civil War. So it was with the astronomer, Asaph Hall. A year after the war broke out, the staff of workers at the U.S. Naval Observatory was much depleted. Some resigned to go South; others were ordered elsewhere by the Federal Government. In the summer of 1862, while his wife was visiting her people in Rodman, Mr. Hall went to Washington, passed an examination, and was appointed an “Aid” in the Naval Observatory.
The city was in a turmoil. On August 27, three weeks after he entered the observatory, Mr. Hall wrote to his wife:
When I see the slack, shilly-shally, expensive way the Government has of doing everything, it appears impossible that it should ever succeed in beating the Rebels.
He soon became disgusted at the wire-pulling in Washington, and wrote contemptuously of the “_American_ astronomy” then cultivated at the Naval Observatory. But he decided to make the best of a bad bargain; and his own work at Washington has shed a lustre on American astronomy.
When he left Cambridge, thanks to his frugal wife, he had three hundred dollars in the bank, although his salary at the Harvard Observatory was only six hundred a year. The Bonds hated to lose him, and offered him eight hundred in gold if he would stay. This was as good as the Washington salary of one thousand a year in paper money which he accepted, to say nothing of the bad climate and high prices of that city, or of the uncertainties of the war.
The next three years were teeming with great events. In less than a month after his arrival in Washington, the second battle of Bull Run was fought. At the observatory he heard the roar of cannon and the rattle of musketry; and it was his heart-rending task to hunt for wounded friends. His wife, still at the North, wrote under date of September 4, 1862:
DEAREST ASAPH: ... I wish I could go right on to you, I feel so troubled about you. You will write to me, won’t you, as soon as you get this, and tell me whether to come on now or not. If there is danger I had rather share it with you.
What are you doing now? Does the excitement stop your business?
Little A says he does not want papa to get shot. Cried about it last night, and put his arms round my neck. He says he is going to take care of mamma. There is a terrible excitement in Boston.
To this her husband replied, September 6:
DEAREST ANGIE: I have just got your letter.... You must not give yourself any uneasiness about me. I shall keep along about my business. We are now observing the planet Mars in the morning, and I work every other night.
Don’t tell little A that I am going to be shot. Don’t expect anything of that kind. You had better take your time and visit at your leisure now. Things will be more settled in a couple of weeks.
Capt. Fox [his room-mate at McGrawville] seems to be doing well. The ball is in his chest and probably lodged near his lungs. It may kill him, but I think not....
Observing Mars every other night, and serving Mars the rest of the time! His wife’s step-brothers Constant and Jasper Woodward were both wounded. Jasper, the best of the Woodward brothers, was a lieutenant, and led his company at Bull Run, the captain having scalded himself slightly with hot coffee in order to keep out of the fight. Jasper was an exceedingly bashful fellow, but a magnificent soldier, and he fairly gloried in the battle. When he fell, and his company broke in retreat, Constant paused to take a last shot in revenge, and was himself wounded. Mr. Hall found them both, Constant fretful and complaining, though not seriously wounded, and Jasper still glorying in the fight. The gallant fellow’s wound did not seem fatal; but having been left in a damp stone church, he had taken cold in it, so that he died.
Next followed the battle of Antietam, and the astronomer’s wife, unable to find out who had won, and fearful lest communication with Washington might be cut off if she delayed, hastened thither. Now Col. A. J. Warner, a McGrawville schoolmate, whose family lived with the Halls in Georgetown, was brought home shot through the hip. To add to the trials of the household, little A. and the colonel’s boy Elmer came down with diphtheria. Through the unflagging care and nursing of his mother, little A. lived. But Elmer died. Mr. Hall, exhausted by the hot, unwholesome climate no less than by his constant exertions in behalf of wounded friends, broke down, and was confined within doors six weeks with jaundice. Indeed, it was two years before he fully recovered. Strange that historians of the Civil War have not dwelt upon the enormous advantage to the Confederates afforded by their hot, enervating climate, so deadly to the Northern volunteer.
In January, 1863, the Halls and Warners moved to a house in Washington, on I Street, between 20th and 21st Streets, N.W. Here a third surgical operation on the wounded colonel proved successful. Though he nearly bled to death, the distorted bullet was at last pulled out through the hole it had made in the flat part of the hip bone. Deceived by the doctors before, the poor man cried: “Mr. Hall, is the ball out? Is the ball out?”
Soon after this, in March, small-pox, which was prevalent in the city, broke out in the house, and Mr. Hall sent his wife and little boy to Cambridge, Mass. There she stayed with her friend Miss Sarah Waitt; and there she wrote the following letter to Captain Gillis, Superintendent of the Naval Observatory:
CAMBRIDGE, Apr. 17, 1863.
DEAR SIR: I received a letter from Mr. Hall this morning saying that Prof. Hesse has resigned his place at the Observatory. I wish Mr. Hall might have the vacant place.
If the question is one of ability, I should be more than willing that he with all other competitors should have a thorough and impartial examination. I know I should be proud of the result. If on the other hand the question is who has the greatest number of influential friends to push him forward whether qualified or unqualified, I fear, alas! that he will fail. He stands alone on his merits, but his success is only a question of time. I, more than any one, know of all his long, patient and faithful study. A few years, and he, like Johnson, will be beyond the help of some Lord Chesterfield.
Mr. Hall writes me that he shall do nothing but wait. I could not bear not to have his name at least proposed.
ANGELINE S. HALL.
On the 3rd of May Mr. Hall wrote to his wife from Washington:
DEAREST ANGIE: Yesterday afternoon Capt. Gillis told me to tell you that the best answer he could make to your letter is that hereafter you might address me as Prof. A. Hall....
You wrote to Capt. Gillis, did you? What did you write?
And so it was that Asaph Hall entered permanently into the service of the United States Government. His position in life was at last secure, and the rest of his days were devoted completely to science. His wife, grown stronger and more self-reliant, took charge of the family affairs and left him free to work. That summer he wrote to her, “It took me a long time to find out what a good wife I have got.”
Some fifteen years afterward Mrs. Hall rendered a similar service to the famous theoretical astronomer, Mr. George W. Hill, who for several years was an inmate of her house. Knowing Mr. Hill’s rare abilities, and his extreme modesty, Mrs. Hall took it upon herself to urge his appointment to the corps of Professors of Mathematics, U.S. Navy, to which her husband belonged. There were two vacancies at the time, and Mr. Hill, having brilliantly passed a competitive examination, was designated for appointment. But certain influences deprived the corps of the lustre which the name of Hill would have shed upon it.
In the fall of 1863 the Halls settled down again in the house on I Street. Here the busy little wife made home as cheerful as the times permitted, celebrating her husband’s birthday with a feast. But the I Street home was again invaded by small-pox. Captain Fox, having been appointed to a government clerkship, was boarding with them, when he came down with varioloid. And Mr. Hall’s sister, on a visit to Washington, caught the small-pox from him. However, she recovered without spreading the disease.
In May, 1864, they rented rooms in a house on the heights north of the city. Their landlord, a Mr. Crandle, was a Southern sympathizer; but when General Jubal A. Early threatened the city he was greatly alarmed. On the morning of July 12 firing was heard north of the city. Crandle, with a clergyman friend, had been out very early reconnoitering, and they appeared with two young turkeys, stolen somewhere in anticipation of the sacking of the city. For the Confederates were coming, and the house, owned as it was by a United States officer, would surely be burned. A hiding place for the family had been found in the Rock Creek valley.
Mr. Hall went to his work that morning as usual; but he did not return. Mrs. Hall, who was soon to give birth to another son, took little Asaph and went in search of her husband. He was not at the observatory, but the following note explained his absence:
July 12, 1864.
DEAR ANGIE: I am going out to Fort Lincoln. Don’t know how long I shall stay. Am to be under Admiral Goldsborough. We all go. Keep cool and take good care of little A.
Together with other Observatory officials, Mr. Hall was put in command of workmen from the Navy Yard, who manned an intrenchment near Fort Lincoln. Many of the men were foreigners, and some of them did not know how to load a gun. Had the Confederates charged upon them they might have been slaughtered like sheep. But in a day or two Union troops arrived in sufficient force to drive Early away.
Before the summer was over, the Halls moved to a house in Georgetown, on the corner of West and Montgomery Streets. It was an old-fashioned brick house, with a pleasant yard fenced by iron pickets. These were made of old gun barrels, and gave the place the name of “Gunbarrel Corner.” Here, on the 28th of September, 1864, their second child, Samuel, was born. And here the family lived for three years, renting rooms to various friends and relatives. One of these was Mr. Hall’s sister, Mrs. Charles Kennon, whose soldier husband lost his life in the Red River expedition, leaving her with three noble little sons. Mr. Kennon and the Halls had been neighbors in Cambridge, where he studied at the Harvard Divinity School.
From the beginning Mr. Hall had objected to having a home in Washington, and had looked to New England as a fitter place for his family to live; but his wife would not be separated from him. The curse of war was upon the city. Crowded with sick and wounded soldiers, idle officers and immoral women, it was scourged by disease. Forty cases of small-pox were at one time reported within half a mile of the place where Mr. Hall lived. But people had become so reckless as to attend a ball at a small-pox hospital. Most of the native population were Southern sympathizers, and some of the women were very bitter. They hated all Yankees—people who had lived upon saw-dust, and who came to Washington to take the Government offices away from Southern gentlemen. As Union soldiers were carried, sick and wounded, to the hospital, these women would laugh and jeer at them.
But there were people in Washington who were making history. One day Mr. Hall saw Grant—short, thin, and stoop-shouldered, dressed in his uniform, a slouch hat pulled over his brow—on his way to take command of the Army of the Potomac. That venerable patriot John Pierpont, whom she had seen and admired at McGrawville, became attached to Mrs. Hall, and used to dine at her house. She took her little boy to one of Lincoln’s receptions, and one night Lincoln and Secretary Stanton made a visit to the Naval Observatory, where Mr. Hall showed them some objects through his telescope. At the Cambridge Observatory the Prince of Wales had once appeared, but on that occasion the young astronomer was made to feel less than nobody. Now the great War President, who signed his commission in the United States Navy, talked with him face to face. One night soon afterward, when alone in the observing tower, he heard a knock at the trap door. He leisurely completed his observation, then went to lift the door, when up through the floor the tall President raised his head. Lincoln had come unattended through the dark streets to inquire why the moon had appeared inverted in the telescope. Surveyors’ instruments, which he had once used, show objects in their true position.
At length the war was over, and the Army of the Potomac and Sherman’s Army passed in review through the city. Mrs. Hall was one of those who witnessed these glorious spectacles—rank after rank, regiment after regiment of seasoned veterans, their battle-flags torn and begrimed, their uniforms shabby enough but their arms burnished and glistening, the finest soldiers in the world! Among the officers was General Osborne, an old Jefferson County acquaintance.
Among all the noble men of those heroic times, I, for my part, like to think of old John Pierpont, the minister poet, who broke bread at my mother’s table. Whether this predilection is due to prenatal causes, some Oliver Wendell Holmes may decide. Certain it is that I was born in September, 1868, and in the preceding April my mother wrote:
O dear anemone, and violet fair, Beloved hepatica, arbutus sweet! Two years ago I twined your graces rare, And laid the garland at the poet’s feet.
The grand old poet on whose brow the snow Of eighty winters lay in purest white, But in whose heart was held the added glow Of eighty summers full of warmth and light.
Like some fair tree within the tropic clime In whose green boughs the spring and autumn meet, Where wreaths of bloom around the ripe fruits twine, And promise with fulfilment stands complete,
So twined around the ripeness of his thought An ever-springing verdure and perfume, All his rich fullness from October caught And all her freshness from the heart of June.
But last year when the sweet wild flowers awoke And opened their dear petals to the sun, He was not here, but every flow’ret spoke An odorous breath of him the missing one.
Of this effusion John Greenleaf Whittier—to whom the verses were addressed—graciously wrote:
The first four verses of thy poem are not only very beautiful from an artistic point of view, but are wonderfully true of the man they describe.
CHAPTER XIV. –––––– THE GAY STREET HOME.
In November, 1867, the Halls bought the Captain Peters’ place, No. 18 Gay Street, Georgetown, and for twenty-five years, that is, for the rest of Angeline Hall’s life, this was her home. The two-story brick house, covered with white stucco, and having a shingled roof, stood in the centre of a generous yard, looking southward. Wooden steps led up to a square front porch, the roof of which was supported by large wooden pillars. The front door opened into a hall, with parlor on the right hand and sitting room on the left. Back of the sitting room was the dining room, and back of that the kitchen. In the year of the Centennial, 1876, the house was enlarged to three stories, with a flat tin roof, and three bay-windows were added, one in the dining room and two in front of the house, and the front porch was lengthened so as to extend from one bay window to the other. The new house was heated chiefly by a furnace and a large kitchen range, but in the dining room and sitting room grates were put in for open coal fires. The two rooms were thrown together by sliding doors, and became the centre of home comfort; though the room over the sitting room, where, in a low cane-seated rocking chair of oak, Mrs. Hall sat and did the family sewing, was of almost equal importance. In the sitting room hung the old-fashioned German looking-glass with its carved and gilded frame, the gift of Dr. Powalky. Over the fire-place was an engraving of Lincoln, and in one corner of the room was the round mahogany table where Professor Hall played whist with his boys. Over the dining room mantle hung a winter scene painted by some relative of the family, and in the bay window stood Mrs. Hall’s fern table.
[Illustration: THE GAY STREET HOME]
In the front yard was a large black-heart cherry tree, where house-wrens built their nests, a crab-apple tree that blossomed prodigiously, a damson plum, peach trees, box-trees and evergreens. The walks were bordered with flower beds, where roses and petunias, verbenas and geraniums, portulacas and mignonnette blossomed in profusion. In the back yard was a large English walnut tree, from the branches of which the little Halls used to shoot the ripe nuts with their bows and arrows. In another part of the back yard was Mrs. Hall’s hot-bed, with its seven long sashes, under which tender garden plants were protected during the winter, and sweet English violets bloomed. Along the sidewalk in front of the premises was a row of rather stunted rock-maples; for the Southern soil seemed but grudgingly to nourish the Northern trees.
Such, in bare outline, was the Gay Street home. Here on September 16, 1868, the third child, Angelo, was born. Among the boys of the neighborhood 18 Gay Street became known as the residence of “Asaph, Sam, and Angelico.” This euphonious and rhythmical combination of names held good for four years exactly, when, on September 16, 1872, the fourth and last child, Percival, was born. One of my earliest recollections is the sight of a red, new-born infant held in my father’s hands. It has been humorously maintained that it was my parents’ design to spell out the name “Asaph” with the initials of his children. I am inclined to discredit the idea, though the pleasantry was current in my boyhood, and the fifth letter,—which might, of course, be said to stand for Hall,—was supplied by Henry S. Pritchett, who as a young man became a member of the family, as much attached to Mrs. Hall as an own son. In fact, when Asaph was away at college, little Percival used to say there were five boys in the family _counting Asaph_. As a curious commentary upon this letter game, I will add that my own little boy Llewellyn used to pronounce his grandfather’s name “Apas.” Blood is thicker than water, and though the letters here are slightly mixed, the proper four, and four only, are employed.
So it came to pass that Angeline Hall reared her four sons in the unheard-of and insignificant little city of Georgetown, whose sole claim to distinction is that it was once the home of Francis Scott Key. What a pity the Hall boys were not brought up in Massachusetts! And yet how glad I am that we were not! In Georgetown Angeline Hall trained her sons with entire freedom from New England educational fads; and for her sake Georgetown is to them profoundly sacred. Here it was that this woman of gentle voice, iron will, and utmost purity of character instilled in her growing boys moral principles that should outlast a lifetime. One day when about six years old I set out to annihilate my brother Sam. I had a chunk of wood as big as my head with which I purposed to kill him. He happened to be too nimble for me, so that the fury of my rage was ungratified. My mother witnessed the affair. Indeed, she wept over it. She told me in heartfelt words the inevitable consequences of such actions—and from that day dated my absolute submission to her authority.
In this connection it will not be amiss to quote the words of Mrs. John R. Eastman, for thirteen years our next-door neighbor:
During the long days of our long summers, when windows and doors were open, and the little ones at play out of doors often claimed a word from her, I lived literally within sound of her voice from day to day. Never once did I hear it raised in anger, and its sweetness, and steady, even tones, were one of her chief and abiding charms.
The fact is, Angeline Hall rather over-did the inculcation of Christian principles. Like Tolstoi she taught the absolute wickedness of fighting, instead of the manly duty of self-defense. And yet, I think my brothers suffered no evil consequences. I myself did. Perhaps the secret of her great influence over us was that she demanded the absolute truth. Dishonesty in word or act was out of the question. In two instances, I remember, I lied to her; for in moral strength I was not the equal of George Washington. But those lies weighed heavily on my conscience, till at last, after many years, I confessed to her.
If she demanded truth and obedience from her sons, she gave to them her absolute devotion. Miracles of healing were performed in her household. By sheer force of character, by continual watchings and utmost care in dieting, she rescued me from a hopeless case of dysentery in the fifth year of my age. The old Navy doctor called it a miracle, and so it was. And I have lived to write her story. Serious sickness was uncommon in our family, as is illustrated by the fact that, for periods of three years each, not one of her four boys was ever late to school, though the distance thither was a mile or two. When Percival, coasting down one of the steep hills of Georgetown, ran into a street car and was brought home half stunned, with one front tooth knocked out and gone and another badly loosened, Angeline Hall repaired to the scene of the accident early the next morning, found the missing tooth, and had the family dentist restore it to its place. There it has done good service for twenty years. Is it any wonder that such a woman should have insisted upon her husband’s discovering the satellites of Mars?
Perhaps the secret of success in the moral training of her sons lay in her generalship. She was an ideal general. In house and yard there was work to do, and she marshaled her boys to do it. Like a good general she was far more efficient than any of her soldiers, but under her leadership they did wonders. Sweeping, dusting, making beds, washing dishes, sifting ashes, going to market, running errands, weeding the garden, chopping wood, beating carpets, mending fences, cleaning house—there was hardly a piece of work indoors or out with which they were unfamiliar. Nor did they lack for play hours. There was abundance of leisure for all sorts of diversions, including swimming and skating, two forms of exercise which struck terror to the mother heart, but in which, through her self-sacrifice, they indulged quite freely.
Their leisure was purchased by her labor; for until they were of academic age she was their school teacher. In an hour or two a day they mastered the three R’s and many things besides. Nor did they suffer from too little teaching, for at the preparatory school each of them in turn led his class, and at Harvard College all four sons graduated with distinction. Four sons graduates of Harvard! How few mothers have so proud a record, and how impossible would such an achievement have seemed to any observer who had seen the collapse of this frail woman at McGrawville! But as each successive son completed his college course it was as if she herself had done it—her moral training had supplied the incentive, her teaching and encouragement had started the lad in his studies, when he went to school her motherly care had provided nourishing food and warm clothing, when he went to college her frugality had saved up the necessary money. She used to say, “Somebody has got to make a sacrifice,” and she sacrificed herself. It is good to know that on Christmas Day, 1891, half a year before she died, she broke bread with husband and all four sons at the old Georgetown home.
Let it not be supposed that Angeline Hall reached the perfection of motherhood. I make no such claim. The Gay Street home was the embodiment of her spirit; and as she was a Puritan, her sons suffered sometimes from her excess of Puritanism. They neither drank nor used tobacco; but fortunately their father taught them to play cards. Their mother brought them up to believe in woman suffrage; but fortunately Cupid provided them wives regardless of such creed. She taught them to eschew pride, sending them to gather leaves in the streets, covering their garments with patches, discouraging the use of razors on incipient beards; but fortunately a boy’s companions take such nonsense out of him. She even left a case of chills and fever to the misdirected mercies of a woman doctor, a homœopathist. I myself was the victim, and for twenty-five years I have abhorred women homœopathic physicians.
But such trivial faults are not to be compared with the depths of a mother’s love. To all that is intrinsically noble and beautiful she was keenly sensitive. How good it was to see her exult in the glories of a Maryland sunset—viewed from the housetop with her boys about her. And how strange that this timid woman could allow them to risk their precious necks on the roof of a three-story house!
Perhaps her passion for the beautiful was most strikingly displayed in the cultivation of her garden. To each son she dedicated a rose-bush. There was one for her husband and another for his mother. In a shady part of the yard grew lilies of the valley; and gladiolas, Easter lilies and other varieties of lilies were scattered here and there. In the early spring there were crocuses and hyacinths and daffodils. Vines trailed along the fences and climbed the sides of the house. She was especially fond of her English ivy. Honeysuckles flourished, hollyhocks ran riot even in the front yard, morning-glories blossomed west of the house, by the front porch grew a sweet-briar rose with its fragrant leaves, and by the bay windows bloomed blue and white wisterias. A magnolia bush stood near the parlor window, a forsythia by the front fence, and by the side alley a beautiful flowering bush with a dome of white blossoms. The flower beds were literally crowded, so that humming birds, in their gorgeous plumage, were frequent visitors. In childhood Mrs. Hall had loved the wild flowers of her native woods and fields; and in the woods back of Georgetown she sought out her old friends and brought them home to take root in her yard, coaxing their growth with rich wood’s earth, found in the decayed stump of some old tree.
Thus the following poem, like all her poems, was but the expression of herself:
The violet dreams forever of the sky, Until at last she wakens wondrous fair, With heaven’s own azure in her dewy eye, And heaven’s own fragrance in her earthly air.
The lily folds close in her heart the beams That the pure stars reach to her deeps below, Till o’er the waves her answering brightness gleams— A star hath flowered within her breast of snow.
The rose that watches at the gates of morn, While pours through heaven the splendor of the sun, Needs none to tell us whence her strength is born, Nor where her crown of glory she hath won.
And every flower that blooms on hill or plain In the dull soil hath most divinely wrought To haunting perfume or to heavenly stain The sweetness born of her aspiring thought.
O yearnful soul of infinite desire! With what expectancy we wait the hour When all the hopes to which thou dost aspire Shall in the holiness of beauty flower.
CHAPTER XV. –––––– AN AMERICAN WOMAN.
The desire of knowledge is a powerful instinct of the soul, as inherent in woman as in man.... It was designed to be gratified, all the avenues of her soul are open for its gratification. Her every sense is as perfect as man’s: her hand is as delicate in its touch, her ear as acute in hearing, her eye the same in its wonderful mechanism, her brain sends out the same two-fold telegraphic network. She is endowed with the same consciousness, the same power of perception. Every attribute of his soul is hers also. From her very organization she is manifestly formed for the pursuit of the same knowledge, for the attainment of the same virtue, for the unfolding of the same truth. Whatever aids man in the pursuit of any one of these objects must aid her also. Let woman then reject the philosophy of a narrow prejudice or of false custom, and trust implicitly to God’s glorious handwriting on every folded tissue of her body, on every tablet of her soul. Let her seek for the highest culture of brain and heart. Let her apply her talent to the highest use. In so doing will the harmony of her being be perfect. Brain and heart according well will make one music. All the bright intellections of the mind, all the beautiful affections of the heart will together form one perfect crystal around the pole of Truth.
From these words of hers it appears that Angeline Hall believed in a well-rounded life for women as well as for men; and to the best of her ability she lived up to her creed. Physically deficient herself, she heralded the advent of the American woman—the peer of Spartan mother, Roman matron or modern European dame. Her ideal could hardly be called “the new woman,” for she fulfilled the duties of wife and mother with the utmost devotion. Among college women she was a pioneer; and perhaps the best type of college woman corresponds to her ideal.
[Illustration: PHOTOGRAPH OF 1878]
In person she was not remarkable—height about five feet three inches, weight with clothing about one hundred and twenty-three pounds. In middle life she was considerably bent over, more from years of toil than from physical weakness. Nervous strength was lacking; and early in life she lost her teeth. But her frame was well developed, her waist being as large as a Greek goddess’s, for she scorned the use of corsets. Her smooth skin was of fine stout texture. Her well-shaped head was adorned by thin curls of wonderfully fine, dark hair, which even at the time of death showed hardly a trace of white. Straight mouth, high forehead, strong brow, large straight nose, and beautiful brown eyes indicated a woman of great spiritual force.
She cared little for adornment, believing that the person is attractive if the soul is good. Timid in the face of physical danger, she was endowed with great moral courage and invincible resolution. She used to speak of “going along and doing something,” and of “doing a little every day.” Friends and relatives found in her a wise counsellor and fearless leader. She was gifted with intellect of a high order—an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, a good memory, excellent mathematical ability, and the capacity for mental labor. But her sense of duty controlled, and she devoted her talents to the service of others.
Unlike Lady Macbeth in other respects, she was suited to bear men-children. And, thanks to her true womanhood, she nursed them at the breast. There were no bottle babies in the Hall family. Tradition has it that she endured the pains of childbirth with unusual fortitude, hardly needing a physician. But this seeming strength was due in part to an unwise modesty.
With hardly enough strength for the duties of each day, she did work enough for two women through sheer force of will. It is not surprising then that she died, in the sixty-second year of her age, from a stroke of apoplexy. She was by no means apoplectic in appearance, being rather a pale person; but the blood-vessels of the brain were worn out and could no longer withstand the pressure. In the fall of 1881, after the death of her sister Mary and of Nellie Woodward, daughter of her sister Ruth, she was the victim of a serious sickness, which continued for six months or more. Friends thought she would die; but her sister Ruth came and took care of her, and saved her for ten more years of usefulness. She lived to see her youngest son through college, attended his Class Day, and died a few days after his graduation.
The motive power of her life was religious faith—a faith that outgrew all forms of superstition. Brought up to accept the narrow theology of her mother’s church, she became a Unitarian. The eldest son was sent regularly to the Unitarian Sunday School in Washington; but a quarrel arising in the church, she quietly withdrew, and thereafter assumed the whole responsibility of training her sons in Christian morals. Subsequently she took a keen interest in the Concord School of Philosophy; and, adopting her husband’s view, she looked to science for the regeneration of mankind. In this she was not altogether wise, for her own experience had proven that the advancement of knowledge depends upon a divine enthusiasm, which must be fed by a religion of some sort. Fortunately, she was possessed of a poetic soul, and she never lost religious feeling.
The following poem illustrates very well the faith of her later life:
Friend of our race, O Science, strong and wise! Though thou wast scorned and wronged and sorely tried, Bound and imprisoned, racked and crucified, Thou dost in life invulnerable rise The glorious leader ’gainst our enemies. Thou art Truth’s champion for the domain wide Ye twain shall conquer fighting side by side. Knowledge and Freedom are thy great allies. Thus thou art strong, and able thou to cope With all thy enemies that yet remain. They fly already from the open plain, And climb, hard-pressed, far up the rugged slope. We hear thy bugle sound o’er land and sea And know that victory abides with thee.
Because thou’st conquered all _one_ little world Thou never like the ancient king dost weep, But like the brave Ulysses, on the deep Dost launch thy bark, and, all its sails unfurled, Dost search for new worlds which may lie impearled By happy islands where the billows sleep; Or into sunless seas dost fearless sweep, Braving the tempest which is round thee hurled; Or, bolder still, mounting where far stars shine, From conquest unto conquest thou dost rise And hold’st dominion over realms divine, Where, clear defined unto thy piercing eyes, And fairer than Faith’s yearnful heart did ween Stretches the vastness of the great Unseen.
E’en where thy sight doth fail thou givest not o’er, But still “beyond the red” thy spectraphone The ray invisible transforms to tone, Thus winning from the silence more and more; Wherein thou buildest new worlds from shore to shore With hills perpetual and with mountains lone; To music moving pond’rous stone on stone As unto Orpheus’ lyre they moved of yore. Still, Science, lightning-winged! thy way pursue! Beyond the farthest sweep of farthest sun, Beyond the music of the sounding spheres Which chant the measures of the months and years, Toward realms that e’en to daring Thought are new Still let thy flying feet unwearied run.
O, friend of Faith! let her not deem thee foe, Though thou dost drive her from the Paradise To which she clings with backward turning eyes, Thou art her angel still, and biddest her go To wider lands where the great rivers flow, And broad and green many a valley lies, Where high and grand th’ eternal mountains rise, And oceans fathomless surge to and fro. Thus thou dost teach her that God’s true and real, Fairer and grander than her dreams _must_ be; Till she shall leave the realm of the Ideal To follow Truth throughout the world with thee, Through earth and sea and up beyond the sun Until the mystery of God is won.
Whatever the literary defects, these are noble sonnets. But I had rather take my chances in a good Unitarian church than try to nourish the soul with such Platonic love of God. She disliked the Unitarian habit of clinging to church traditions and ancient forms of worship; but better these than the materialism of a scientific age.
Perhaps I do her an injustice. She was absolutely loyal to truth, not guilty of that shuffling attitude of modern theologians who have outgrown the superstition of Old Testament only to cling more tenaciously to the superstition of the New. In the Concord School of Philosophy, and later in her studies as a member of the Ladies’ Historical Society of Washington, she was searching for the new faith that should fulfil the old. It might be of interest here to introduce selections from some of her Historical Society essays, into the composition of which she entered with great earnestness. Written toward the close of life, they still retain the freshness and unspoiled enthusiasm of youth. One specimen must suffice:
In thinking of Galileo, and the office of the telescope, which is to give us increase of light, and of the increasing power of the larger and larger lenses, which widens our horizon to infinity, this constantly recurring thought comes to me: how shall we grow into the immensity that is opening before us? The principle of light pervades all space—it travels from star to star and makes known to us all objects on earth and in heaven. The great ether throbs and thrills with its burden to the remotest star as with a joy. But there is also an all-pervading force, so subtle that we know not yet how it passes through the illimitable space. But before it all worlds fall into divine order and harmony. It is gravitation. It imparts the power of one to all, and gathers from all for the one. What in the soul answers to these two principles is, first, also light or knowledge, by which all things are unveiled; the other which answers to gravitation, and before which all shall come into proper relations, and into the heavenly harmony, and by which we shall fill the heavens with ourselves, and ourselves with heaven, is love.
This is better than most philosophy. But after all, Angeline Hall gave herself to duty and not to philosophy—to the plain, monotonous work of home and neighborhood. Like the virtuous woman of Scripture, she supplied with her own hands the various family wants—cooked with great skill, canned abundance of fruit for winter, and supplied the table from day to day with plain, wholesome food. Would that she might have taught Bostonians to bake beans! If they would try her method, they would discover that a mutton bone is an excellent substitute for pork. Pork and lard she banished from her kitchen. Beef suet is, indeed, much cleaner. The chief article of diet was meat, for Mrs. Hall was no vegetarian, and the Georgetown markets supplied the best of Virginia beef and mutton. Like the virtuous woman of Scripture, she provided the family with warm clothing, and kept it in repair. A large part of her life was literally spent in mending clothes. She never relaxed the rigid economy of Cambridge days. She commonly needed but one servant, for she worked with her own hands and taught her sons to help her. The house was always substantially clean from roof to cellar. No corner was neglected. Nowhere on the whole premises was a bad smell tolerated.
While family wants were scrupulously attended to, she stretched forth a hand to the poor. The Civil War filled Washington with negroes, and for several winters Mrs. Hall helped to distribute supplies among them. In 1872 she was “Directress” of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth wards; and for a long time she was a member of a benevolent society in Georgetown, having charge of a section of the city near her residence. For the last fourteen years of her life, she visited the Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children in north Washington. Her poor colored neighbors regarded her with much esteem. She listened to their stories of distress, comforted them, advised them. The aged she admitted to her warm kitchen; and they went away, victuals in their baskets or coins in their hands, with the sense of having a friend in Mrs. Hall. Uncle Louis, said to be one hundred and fourteen years old, rewarded her with a grape-vine, which was planted by the dining room window. And “the Uncle Louis grape” was the best in the garden.
At the close of the Civil War she even undertook to redeem two fallen Irish women by taking them into her house to work. But their appetite for whiskey was too strong, and they would steal butter, barter it for liquor, and come home drunk. On one occasion one of these women took little Asaph along to visit the saloon; and there his mother found him, with the servant standing by joking with rough men, her dress in shreds.
Mrs. Hall had no time or strength for such charitable enterprises, and soon abandoned them. She was saved from most of the follies of philanthropy by the good sense of her husband, whom she rewarded with the devotion of a faithful wife. His studies and researches, almost from the first, were much too deep for her entire comprehension, but she was always enthusiastic about his work. In the introduction to his “_Observations and Orbits of the Satellites of Mars_,” Professor Hall chivalrously says:
In the spring of 1877, the approaching favorable opposition of the planet Mars attracted my attention, and the idea occurred to me of making a careful search with our large Clark refractor for a satellite of this planet. An examination of the literature of the planet showed, however, such a mass of observations of various kinds, made by the most experienced and skillful astronomers that the chance of finding a satellite appeared to be very slight, so that I might have abandoned the search had it not been for the encouragement of my wife.
In fact, Mrs. Hall was full of enthusiasm. Each night she sent her husband to the observatory supplied with a nourishing lunch, and each night she awaited developments with eager interest. I can well remember the excitement at home. There was a great secret in the house, and all the members of the family were drawn more closely together by mutual confidence.
The moral and intellectual training of her sons has already been referred to. Summer vacations were often spent with her sisters in Rodman, N.Y. Her mother, who reached the age of eighty years, died in the summer of 1878, when Mrs. Hall became the head of the Stickney family. Her sisters Mary and Elmina were childless. Ruth had six children, in whose welfare their Aunt Angeline took a lively interest. The three girls each spent a winter with her in Washington, and when, in the summer of 1881, Nellie was seized with a fatal illness, Aunt Angeline was present to care for her. Now and then Charlotte Ingalls, who had prospered in Wisconsin, would come on from the West, and the Stickney sisters would all be together. The last reunion occurred in the summer of 1891, a year previous to Angeline’s death. It was a goodly sight to see the sisters in one wagon, near the old home place; and when, at Elmina’s house, Angeline was bustling about attending to the needs of the united family, it was good to hear Charlotte exclaim, “Take care, old lady!” She was thirteen years older than Angeline, and seemed almost to belong to an earlier generation. She remembered her father well, and had no doubt acquired from him some of the ancient New Hampshire customs lost to her younger sisters. Certainly her exclamations of “Fiddlesticks,” and “Witch-cats,” were quaint and picturesque.
But it was Angeline who was really best versed in the family history. She had made a study of it, in all its branches, and could trace her descent from at least eleven worthy Englishmen, most of whom arrived in New England before 1650. She made excursions to various points in New England in search of relatives. At Belchertown, Mass., in 1884, she found her grandfather Cook’s first cousin, Mr. Thomas Sabin. He was then one hundred years old, and remembered how in boyhood he used to go skating with Elisha Cook.
How brief the history of America in the presence of such a man! I remember seeing an old New Englander, as late as 1900, who as a boy of eleven years had seen General Lafayette. It was a treat to hear him describe the courteous Frenchman, slight of stature, bent with age, but active and polite enough to alight from the stage-coach to shake hands with the people assembled to welcome him in the little village of Charlton, Mass.
Mrs. Hall had no time for travel. At the close of life she longed to visit Europe, but death intervened, and her days were spent in her native country. She passed two summers in the mountains of Virginia. In 1878, with her little son Percival, she accompanied her husband to Colorado, to observe the total eclipse of the sun. Three years before they had taken the whole family to visit her sister Charlotte’s people in Wisconsin.
It was through her family loyalty that she acquired the Adirondack habit. In the summer of 1882, after the severe sickness of the preceding winter, she was staying with a cousin’s son, a country doctor, in Washington County, N.Y. He proposed an outing in the invigorating air of the Adirondacks. And so, with her three youngest sons and the doctor’s family, she drove to Indian Lake, and camped there about a week. Her improvement was so marked that the next summer, accompanied by three sons and her sister Ruth, she drove into the wilderness from the West, camping a few days in a log cabin by the side of Piseco Lake. In 1885, setting out from Rodman again, she drove four hundred miles, passing north of the mountains to Paul Smith’s, and thence to Saranac Lake village, John Brown’s farm, Keene Valley, and Lake George, and returning by way of the Mohawk Valley. In 1888 she camped with the three youngest sons on Lower Saranac, and in 1890 she spent July and August at the summer school of Thomas Davidson, on the side of Mt. Hurricane. One day I escorted her and her friend Miss Sarah Waitt to the top of the mountain, four or five miles distant, and we spent the night on the summit before a blazing camp-fire. Two years later she was planning another Adirondack trip when death overtook her—at the house of her friend Mrs. Berrien, at North Andover, Mass., July 3, 1892.
Her poem “Heracles,” written towards the close of her career, fittingly describes her own herculean labors:
Genius of labor, mighty Heracles! Though bound by fate to do another’s will, Not basely, as a slave, dost thou fulfil The appointed task. The eye of God to please Thou seekest, and man to bless, and not thy ease. So to thy wearying toil thou addest still New labors, to redeem some soul from ill, Performing all thy generous mind conceives. From the sea-monster’s jaws thy arm did free, And from her chains, the fair Hesione. And when Alcestis, who her lord to save, Her life instead a sacrifice she gave, Then wast thou near with heart that never quailed, And o’er Death’s fearful form thy might prevailed.
Because thou chosest virtue, when for thee Vice her alluring charms around thee spread, The gods, approving, smiled from overhead, And gave to thee thy shining panoply. Then wentest thou forth to certain victory. Nature obedient to thy will was led, Out rushed the rivers from their ancient bed And washed the filth of earth into the sea. When ’gainst thy foes thy arrows all were spent, Zeus stones instead, in whirling snow-cloud sent. When with sore heat oppressed, O wearied one! Thou thought’st to aim thy arrows at the sun, Then Helios sent his golden boat to thee To bear thee safely through the trackless sea.
CHAPTER XVI. –––––– A BUNDLE OF LETTERS.
The letters of Angeline Hall are genuine letters—not meant for publication, but for the eyes of the persons addressed. The style, even the spelling and punctuation, are faulty; and the subject-matter in most cases can have no general interest. However, I have selected a few of her letters, which I trust will be readable, and which may help to give a truer conception of the astronomer’s wife:
RODMAN, July 26, ’66.
DEAREST ASAPH: I am at Mother’s this morning. Staid over to help see to Ruth, and now cannot get back over to Elminas, all so busy at their work, have no time to carry me, then Franklin is sick half the time. I shall probably get over there in a day or two. I have had no letters from you since a week ago last night, have had no opportunity to send to the Office.
Ruth and baby are doing well. Franklin has finished his haying but has a little hoing to do yet—Constant is trying to get his work along so that he will be ready to take you around when you come. He wishes you to write when you will come so that he can arrange his work accordingly. I hope you will come by the middle of August.
The children are pretty well. Samie has some cold. He thinks you have forsaken him. When I ask him now where is papa, he says “no papa.” I have weaned him. He stayed with Aunt Mary three nights while I was taking care of Ruth. He eats his bread and milk very well now. Little “A” has been a very good boy indeed, a real little man. I bought him and Homer some nice bows and arrows of an Indian who brought them into the cars to sell just this side of Rome, so that he shoots at a mark with Grandfather Woodward.
I suppose Adelaide starts for Goshen next week. I have received two letters from her.
Now do come up here as soon as you can. I do not enjoy my visit half so well without you. I am going out with Mary after raspberries this morning—Little Samie is very fond of them.
GEORGETOWN Sept. 28 (1868)
DEAR SISTER MARY, Little Angelo is only twelve days old, but he is as bright and smart as can be. I have washed and dressed him for four days myself. I have been down to the gate to-day. And have sewed most all day, so you see I am pretty well.
To day is Samie’s birthday, four years old—he is quite well and happy—The baby he says is his.
How do you all do. I should like very much to take a peep at you in your new home. Do you like it? We like our old place better and better all the time. You must write to me as soon as you can. Do you get your mail at Adams Centre? Have you any apples in that vicinity this year?
Mr. Hall has just been reading in the newspaper a sketch of Henry Keep’s life which says he was once in the Jefferson Co. Poor house, is it true?
Much love to you all
GEORGETOWN March 3rd 1871
DEAR SISTER MARY: We received your letter, also the tub of apples and cider. I have made some apple sauce, it is splendid. I have not had one bit of boiled cider apple sauce before since we came to Washington. I shall try to pay you for all your expense and trouble sometime. I would send you some fresh shad if I was sure it would keep to get to you. We had some shad salted last spring but it is not very nice. I think was not put up quite right, so it is hardly fit to send.
We are all very well. Samie has had a little ear-ache this week but is better. Angelo is the nicest little boy you ever saw.
It is raining this morning. A man came to spade the ground to sow our peas but it began to rain just as he got here, so we shall have to wait a few days. My crocuses and daffodils are budded to blossom, and the sweet-scented English violets are in bloom, filling the parlors here with fragrance. I do like the spring here so much. We do not have to wait for it, but before we are aware it is here.
You must write often. I think we shall make you a little visit this summer. How are Father and Mother and Constant and yourself? Much love to you all from all of us.
GEORGETOWN Jan. 18th ’74
DEAR SISTER MARY: I am getting very anxious to hear from you. Little “A” commenced a letter to you during his vacation, and copied those verses you sent so as to send the original back to you. But he did not finish his letter and I fear he will not have time to write again for some time as his studies take almost every minute he can spare from eating and sleeping. We are all well. Baby grows smart and handsome all the time.
Angelo keeps fat and rosy though we have to be careful of him. Samie is getting taller and taller, and can not find time to play enough. Mother Hall is with us this winter, is helping me about the sewing.
How is Mother and yourself and all? I hope you are all well. You must dress warm so as not to take cold. Have you got any body to help you this winter? Write all the news. Has Salina gone to the music school?
I will try to write again soon. Must write to Elmina in a day or two.
The baby thinks Granpa’s saw-man is the nicest thing he can find. Angelo is so choice of it he will not let him touch it often.
GEORGETOWN March 22nd [1877 probably]
DEAR SISTER MARY: We are working on our grounds some as the weather permits. It will be very pretty here when we get it done. And our house is as convenient as can be now. Tell Mother I have set out a rose bush for her, and am going to plant one for Grandma Hall too.
Samie has improved a great deal the last year, he is getting stout and tall. Angelo is as fat as a pig and as keen as a knife. Percy is a real nice little boy, he has learned most of his letters. Asaph Jr. will go ahead of his Father yet if he keeps his health. I never saw a boy of his age study as he does, every thing must be right, and be understood before he will go an inch.
I am pretty well, but have to be careful, if I get sick a little am sure to have a little malarial fever.
Much love to you all and write soon telling me how Mother is.
RODMAN Aug. 13th 1881
DEAR ASAPH, Yesterday we buried Nellie over in the cemetery on Grandfather’s old farm in Rodman. You can not think how beautiful and grand she looked. She had improved very much since she was at our house, and I see she had many friends. I think she was a superior girl, but too sensitive and ambitious to live in this world so cramped and hedged about. She went down to help Mary, and Mr. Wright’s people came for her to go up and help them as Mrs. Wright was sick, so Nellie went up there and washed and worked very hard and came back to Mary’s completely exhausted, and I think she had a congestive chill to begin with and another when she died.
The little boys and I are at Elminas. I came over to rest a little, am about used up. One of the neighbors has just come over saying that Mary died last night at nine o’clock, and will be buried to-morrow. So to-morrow morning I suppose I shall go back over to Constant’s, do not know how long I shall stay there.
I wish to know how you are getting on at home. Keep well if you can.
Tell Asaph and Samie to write.
With Much Love
C. A. S. HALL.
[P.S.] I do not know whether I had better go home, or try to stay here and rest, I am so miserably tired.
THE OLD BRICK, GOSHEN 9 A.M. Monday Morning July 14, 1884
DEAR ASAPH: I have just got through the morning’s work. Got up at half past five, built the fire, got the breakfast which consisted of cold roast beef, baked potatoes, Graham gems, and raspberries and cream.
Percie got up with me and went for the berries, Angelo went over to his Uncle Lyman’s for the milk and cream, and Samie went out into the garden to work. Breakfast at half past seven. After breakfast all the boys went to the garden, Samie and Percie to kill potato bugs and Angelo to pick the peas for dinner. Samie has just come in to his lessons. Angelo is not quite through, Percie is done. I have washed the dishes and done the chamber work. Now I have some mending and a little ironing to do. I have done our washing so far a little at a time. I washed some Saturday so I have the start of the common washer-women and iron Monday. I suppose at home you have got somebody to wait on you all round, and then find it hard work to live. I have mastered the situation here, though it has been very hard for two weeks, and have got things clean and comfortable.
The old brick and mortar though, fall down freely whenever one raises or shuts a window, or when the wind slams a door, as it often does here in this country of wind.
Lyman has begun haying. It was showery Friday and Saturday afternoon and some of his hay got wet.
Next month Lyman is to take the superintendency of the Torrington creamery much to the discomfiture of Mary. [Professor Hall’s brother Lyman married Mary Gilman, daughter of Mrs. Hall’s cousin.] He made no arrangements as to stated salary. Mary is trying to have that fixed and I hope she will.
Now how is A. Jr.? I think he had better come up here and stay with us awhile if his health does not improve very soon.
How is George?
Adelaide is staying with Dine during her vacation, they both came up here last Tuesday, stayed to dinner, brought little Mary. I have not seen Mary Humphrey yet. [Adelaide and Adeline, twins, and Mary Humphrey were Professor Hall’s sisters.] But the boys saw her the Fourth.
C. A. S. HALL.
[P.S.] I do not think best for A. to go to Pulkowa.
WASHINGTON Nov. 17th 1887
MY DEAR BOYS [Samuel and Angelo at college] We received Angelo’s letter the first of the week and were very glad to get such a nice long letter and learn how strong you were both growing.
I left for New Haven two weeks ago this morning; had a pleasant journey. A. met me at the depot. I had a room on Wall street not far from the College buildings, so it was a long way to the Observatory and I did not get up to the Observatory till Sunday afternoon, as A. wanted to sleep in the mornings. Friday A. drove me up to East Rock, which overlooks the city, the sea and the surrounding country. Saturday evening we went to tea to Mrs. Elkins and after tea, a pleasant little party gathered there. Sunday, Prof. Newton came and took me to hear President Dwight preach, in the afternoon A. and I went to Mrs. Winchesters to see the beautiful flowers in the green houses, then we went to Prof. Marshes, after which we went to Miss Twinings to tea then to Prof. Wrights. Monday I went up to the Observatory and mended a little for A. then went to Dr. Leighton’s to tea and afterwards to a party at Mrs. Winchesters. I forgot to say that Monday morning Mrs. Wright came for me and we went through Prof. Wright’s physical Laboratory, then to the top of the Insurance building with Prof. Newton to get a view of the city. Tuesday morning I went up to the Observatory again and mended a little more for A., then went down to dinner and at about half past two left for New York where I arrived just before dark, went to the Murray Hill Hotel, got up into the hall on the way to my room and there met Dr. Peters, who said that father was around somewhere, after awhile he came. Then we got ready and went to Prof. Chandler’s party. Wednesday I went to the meeting of the Academy. In the afternoon Pres. Barnard gave a reception. In the evening Mrs. Draper gave a supper, and before supper Prof. Pickering read a paper on his spectroscopic work with the Draper fund, and showed pictures of the Harvard Observatory, and of the spectra of stars etc.
Thursday it rained all day, but I went to the Academy meeting. Friday a number of the members of the Academy together with Mrs. Prof. Barker Mrs. Draper and myself went over to Llewellyn Park to see Edison’s new phonograph. They gave us an elaborate lunch. Saturday morning your father and I went to the museum and saw the statuary and paintings there, and left Jersey City about 2 P.M. for home, where we arrived at about half past eight: We had a pleasant time, but were rather tired. Percie and all are well as usual. Aunt Charlotte is a great deal better. Aunt Ruth has not gone to Wisconsin. I sent her thirty dollars to go with. I guess she will send some of it to Homer to come home with. Jasper has left home again said he was going to Syracuse. Aunt Ruth has trouble enough, says she has been over to Elmina’s, and David does not get up till breakfast time leaving E. to do all the chores I suppose. She writes that Leffert Eastman’s wife is dead, and their neighbor Mr. Adnah Carley.
Now I must close my diary or I shall not get it into the office to-night.
I am putting down carpets and am very busy
C. A. S. HALL.
[WASHINGTON] Nov. 12th ’88
MY DEAR ANGELO AND PERCIVAL [at college], ... Sam. is reading Goethe’s Faust aloud to me when I can sit down to sew, and perhaps I told you that he is helping me to get things together for my Prometheus Unbound. He is translating now Aeschylos’ fragments for I wish to know as far as possible how Aeschylos treated the subject. I have a plan all my own which I think a good one, and have made a beginning. I know I shall have to work hard if I write any thing good, but am willing to work. You must write often. Father and Sam. and I went to Mr. Kings to tea last evening. On the next day after Thanksgiving our Historical Society begins its work.
C. A. S. HALL.
CLINTON, N.Y. Sept. 8th, 1890
MY DEAR BOYS [Angelo and Percival], I arrived here safely early this afternoon. Miss Waitt and I had a very pleasant drive on Thursday. We passed the Cascade Lakes. Stopped at the John Brown place for lunch, then drove over to Lake Placid, we went up to the top of the tower at Grand View House and had a good look at the mountains and the lake as far as we could see it there. Then we passed on to Wilmington Notch which I think much finer than any mountain pass which I have before seen. We went on to Wilmington and stayed over night. There was a hard shower before breakfast, but the rain stopped in time for the renewal of our journey. We arrived at Au Sable Chasm a little after noon on Saturday. The Chasm is very picturesque but not so grand as the Wilmington Pass. We saw the falls in the Au Sable near the Pass; there are several other falls before the river reaches the Chasm. From the Chasm we went on to Port Kent where Miss Waitt took the steamer for Burlington, and where I stayed over night. In the morning I took the steamer for Ticonderoga. We plunged into a fog which shut out all view till we neared Burlington, when it lifted a little. After a while it nearly all went away, and I had a farewell look of the mountains as we passed. It began to rain before we reached Ticonderoga but we got a very good view of the old Fort. I thought of Asaph Hall the first, and old Ethan Allen, and of your great great grandfather David Hall whose bones lie in an unknown grave somewhere in the vicinity.
The steamer goes south only to Ticonderoga; and there I took the cars for Whitehall where I found my cousin Elizabeth Benjamin seemingly most happy to see me. She is an intelligent woman though she has had very little opportunity for book learning. She has a fine looking son at Whitehall.
It will soon be time for you to leave Keene. I think it would be well for you to pack your tent the day before you go if you can sleep one night in the large tent. Of course the tent should be dry when it is packed if possible, otherwise you will have to dry it after you get to Cambridge. Remember to take all the things out of my room there. The essence of peppermint set near the west window.
They are all well here at the Borsts.
I shall go up to Aunt Elmina’s this week. Write to me there.
Love to all,
C. A. S. HALL.
2715 N Street [same as 18 Gay St] WASHINGTON D.C. March 28th 1891
MY DEAR BOYS [Angelo and Percival at college], ... I am sorry the Boston girl is getting to be so helpless. I think all who have to keep some one to take care of them had better leave for Europe on the first steamer.
I think co-education would be a great help to both boys and girls. I have never liked schools for girls alone since Harriette Lewis and Antoinette McLain went to Pittsfield to the Young Ladies Institute.
I have just been reading Mrs. Stanton’s advice to her sons, “When you marry do choose a woman with a spine and sound teeth.” Now I think a woman needs two kinds of good back-bone.
As for Astronomical work, and all kinds of scientific work, there may not be the pressing need there was for it a few centuries ago; but I think our modern theory of progress is nearly right as described by Taine, “as that which founds all our aspirations on the boundless advance of the sciences, on the increase of comforts which their applied discoveries constantly bring to the human condition, and on the increase of good sense which their discoveries, popularized, slowly deposit in the human brain.” Of course Ethical teaching must keep pace. It is well to keep the teaching of the Prometheus Bound in mind, that merely material civilization is not enough; and must not stand alone. But the knowledge that we get from all science, that effects follow causes always, will teach perhaps just as effectively as other preaching.
This makes me think of the pleasant time Sam and I had when he was home last, reading George Eliot’s Romola. This work is really a great drama, and I am much impressed with the power of it.
I would say _Philosophy_ AND Science now and forever one and inseparable....
With much love
C. A. S. HALL.
WASHINGTON D.C. June 10th ’92
MY DEAR PERCIVAL [at college], Your father has just got home from Madison. He says you can go to see the boat-race if you wish to. A. Jr. says perhaps he will go, when are the tickets to be sold, he says, on the train that follows the race? He thinks perhaps he would like two tickets.
Now about your furniture. When Sam was home we talked it over. He thought you had better sell to the Fays the bureau, bedstead, chairs, etc. and that you send home the revolving bookcase, the desk and hair mattress; and such of the bedclothes as you wish to carry to the mountains of course you will keep, but I expect to go up there and will look over the bedclothes with you, there may be some to send home.
Now I suppose you are to keep your room so that our friends can see the exercises around the tree on Class-day, I wish Mr. and Mrs. King to come and Mr. and Mrs. Berrien. Will you write to them or shall I write?
I expect to go up on Wednesday the 22nd so as to get a little rested before Class-day. I intend to go over to stay with Mrs. Berrien at North Andover between Class-day and Commencement.
We have just received an invitation to Carrie Clark’s wedding.
An invitation came from Theodore Smith to Father and me, but father says he will not go.
C. A. S. HALL.
CHAPTER XVII. –––––– AUGUSTA LARNED’S TRIBUTE.
The following tribute was written by Miss Augusta Larned, and published in the _Christian Register_ of July 28, 1892:
There is one master link in the family bond, as there is one keystone in the arch. Often we know not its binding power until it is taken away. Then the home begins to crumble and fall into confusion, and the distinct atoms, like beads from a broken string, roll off into distant corners. We turn our thoughts to one who made the ideal home, pervaded it, filled its every part like air and sunshine coming in at open windows, as unobtrusive as gentle. A spiritual attraction drew all to this centre. It was not what she said or did; it was what she was that inclined footsteps to her door. Those who once felt that subtle, penetrating sweetness felt they must return to bask in it again and again. So she never lost friends by a loss more pathetic than death. There were no dislocations in her life. All was even development and growth.
The good she did seemed to enter the pores of the spirit, and to uplift in unknown ways the poor degraded ideal of our lives. The secret of her help was not exuberance, but stillness and rest. Ever more and more the beautiful secret eluded analysis. It shone out of her eyes. It lingered in the lovely smile that irradiated her face, and made every touch and tone a benediction. Even the dullest perception must have seen that her life was spiritual, based on unselfishness and charity. Beside her thoughtfulness and tender care all other kinds of self-abnegation seemed poor. She lived in the higher range of being. The purity of her face and the clearness of her eyes was a rebuke to all low motives. But no word of criticism fell from her lips. She was ready to take into her all-embracing tenderness those whom others disliked and shunned. Her gentle nature found a thousand excuses for their faults. Life had been hard with them; and, for this reason, she must be lenient. The good in each soul was always present to her perceptions. She reverenced it even in its evil admixture as a manifestation of the divine.
She shunned the smallest witticism at another’s expense, lest she should pain or soil that pure inner mirror of conscience by an exaggeration. Perfect justice was the rule of her life. To the poor and despised she never condescended, but poured out her love and charity as the woman of Scripture broke the box of precious ointment to anoint the Master’s feet. All human beings received their due meed of appreciation at her hands. She disregarded the conventional limits a false social order has set up, shunning this one and honoring that one, because of externals. She was not afraid of losing her place in society by knowing the wrong people. She went her way with a strange unworldliness through all the prickly hedges, daring to be true to her own nature. She drew no arbitrary lines between human beings. It was the soul that interested her. The rich were not welcome for their riches, nor the poor for their poverty; but all were welcome for their humanity.
Her door was as the door of a shrine because the fair amenities were always found within. Hospitality to her was as sacred as the hearth altar to the ancients. If she had not money to give the mendicant, she gave that something infinitely better,—the touch of human kinship. Many came for the dole she had to bestow, the secret charity that was not taken from her superfluity, but from her need. Her lowliness of heart was like that of a little child. How could a stranger suspect that she was a deep and profound student? Her researches had led her to the largest, most liberal faith in God and the soul and the spirit of Christ incarnate in humanity. The study of nature, to which she was devoted, showed her no irreconcilable break between science and religion. She could follow the boldest flights of the speculative spirit or face the last analysis of the physicist, while she clung to God and the witness of her own being. She aimed at an all-round culture, that one part of her nature might not be dwarfed by over-balance and disproportion.
But it was the high thinking that went on with the daily doing of common duties that made her life so exceptional. A scholar in the higher realms of knowledge, a thinker, a seeker after truth, but, above all, the mother, the wife, the bread-giver to the household. It was a great privilege to know this woman who aped not others’ fashions, who had better and higher laws to govern her life, who admitted no low motive in her daily walk, who made about her, as by a magician’s wand, a sacred circle, free from all gossip, envy, strife, and pettiness, who kept all bonds intact by constancy and undimmed affection, and has left a memory so sacred few can find words to express what she was to her friends.
* * * * *
But love and self-forgetfulness and tender service wear out the silver cord. It was fretted away silently, without complaint, the face growing ever more seraphic, at moments almost transparent with the shining of an inner light. One trembled to look on that spiritual beauty. Surely, the light of a near heaven was there. Silently, without complaint or murmur, she was preparing for the great change. Far-away thoughts lay mirrored in her clear, shining eyes. She had seen upon the mount the pattern of another life. Still no outward change in duty-doing, in tender care for others. Then one day she lay down and fell asleep like a little child on its mother’s breast, with the inscrutable smile on her lips. She who had been “mothering” everybody all her life long was at last gathered gently and painlessly into the Everlasting Arms.
An amber Adirondack river flows Down through the hills to blue Ontario; Along its banks the staunch rock-maple grows, And fields of wheat beneath the drifted snow. The summer sun, as if to quench his flame, Dips in the lake, and sinking disappears. Such was the land from which my mother came To college, questioning the future years; And through the Northern winter’s bitter gloom, Gilding the pane, her lamp of knowledge burned. The bride of Science she; and he the groom She wed; and they together loved and learned. And like Orion, hunting down the stars, He found and gave to her the moons of Mars.
● Transcriber’s Notes: ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected. ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected. ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only when a predominant form was found in this book. ○ Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).