Half a Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 352 pages of information about Half a Century.

My style I caught from my crude, rural surroundings, and was familiar to the unlearned, and I was not surprised to find the letters eagerly read.  The Journal announced them the day before publication, the newsboys cried them, and papers called attention to them, some by daring to indorse, but more by abusing Mr. Riddle for publishing such unpatriotic and “incendiary rant.”  In quoting the strong points, a venal press was constrained to “scatter the living coals of truth.”  The name was held to be a nom de plume, for in print it looked so unlike the common pronunciation of that of one of the oldest families in the county that it was not recognized.  Moreover, it must be a disguise adopted by some man.  Wiseacres, said one of the county judges.  No western Pennsylvania woman had ever broken out of woman’s sphere.  All lived in the very centre of that sacred enclosure, making fires by which, husbands, brothers and sons sat reading the news; each one knowing that she had a soul, because the preacher who made his bread and butter by saving it had been careful to inform her of its existence as preliminary to her knowledge of the indispensable nature of his services.

But the men whom I ridiculed and attacked knew the hand which, held the mirror up to nature, and also knew they had a legal remedy, and that to their fines and imprisonment I was as indifferent as to their opinions.  One of these, Hon. Gabriel Adams, had taken me by the hand at father’s funeral, led me to a stranger and introduced me as: 

“The child I told you of, but eight years old, her father’s nurse and comforter.”

He had smoothed my hair and told me not to cry; God would bless me for being a good child.  He was a member of the session when I joined church; his voice in prayer had soothed mother’s hard journey through the dark valley; and now, as mayor of the city, had ordered its illumination in honor of the battle of Buena Vista, and this, too, on Saturday evening, when the unholy glorification extended into the Sabbath.  Measured by the standards of his profession as an elder in the church, whose highest judicatory had pronounced slavery and Christianity incompatible; no one was more valuable than he, and of none was I so unsparing, yet as I wrote, the letter was blistered with tears; but his oft repeated comment was: 

“Jane is right,” and he went out of his way to take my hand and say, “You were right.”

Samuel Black, a son of my pastor, dropped his place as leader of the Pittsburg bar and rushed to the war.  My comments were thought severe, even for me, yet the first intimation I had that I had not been cast aside as a monster, came from his sister, who sent me a message that her father, her husband and herself, approved my criticism.  Samuel returned with a colonel’s commission, and one day I was about to pass him without recognition, where he stood on the pavement talking to two other lawyers, when he stepped before me and held out his hand.  I drew back, and he said:  “Is it possible you will not take my hand?”

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Half a Century from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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