And my advice to all people is, Don’t stay at home any more than you can help; but when you have got to stay at home a while, buy a package of those insurance tickets and sit up nights. You cannot be too cautious.
[One can see now why I answered that ticket-agent in the manner recorded at the top of this sketch.]
The moral of this composition is, that thoughtless people grumble more than is fair about railroad management in the United States. When we consider that every day and night of the year full fourteen thousand railway-trains of various kinds, freighted with life and armed with death, go thundering over the land, the marvel is, not that they kill three hundred human beings in a twelvemonth, but that they do not kill three hundred times three hundred!
I never can look at those periodical portraits in the galaxy magazine without feeling a wild, tempestuous ambition to be an artist. I have seen thousands and thousands of pictures in my time —acres of them here and leagues of them in the galleries of Europe —but never any that moved me as these portraits do.
There is a portrait of Monsignore Capel in the November number, now could anything be sweeter than that? And there was Bismarck’s, in the October number; who can look at that without being purer and stronger and nobler for it? And Thurlow and Weed’s picture in the September number; I would not have died without seeing that, no, not for anything this world can give. But look back still further and recall my own likeness as printed in the August number; if I had been in my grave a thousand years when that appeared, I would have got up and visited the artist.
I sleep with all these portraits under my pillow every night, so that I can go on studying them as soon as the day dawns in the morning. I know them all as thoroughly as if I had made them myself; I know every line and mark about them. Sometimes when company are present I shuffle the portraits all up together, and then pick them out one by one and call their names, without referring to the printing on the bottom. I seldom make a mistake—never, when I am calm.
I have had the portraits framed for a long time, waiting till my aunt gets everything ready for hanging them up in the parlor. But first one thing and then another interferes, and so the thing is delayed. Once she said they would have more of the peculiar kind of light they needed in the attic. The old simpleton! it is as dark as a tomb up there. But she does not know anything about art, and so she has no reverence for it. When I showed her my “Map of the Fortifications of Paris,” she said it was rubbish.