But there is a hovering of pathos over this wreck of matter. Some of these wasted things were written for bread by intelligent wives with drunken husbands trying to support their families with the pen. Over that mutilated manuscript some weary man toiled until daybreak. How we wish we could have printed what they wrote! Alas for the necessity that disappoints the literary struggle of so many women and men, when it is ten dollars for that article or children gone supperless to bed!
Let no one enter the field of literature for the purpose of “making a living” unless as a very last resort. There are thousands of persons to-day starving to death with a steel pen in their hand. The story of Grub street and poets living on thin soup is being repeated all over this land, although the modern cases are not so conspicuous. Poverty is no more agreeable because classical and set in hexameters. The hungry author cannot breakfast on “odes to summer.” On this, cold day how many of the literati are shivering! Martyrs have perished in the fire, but more persons have perished for lack of fire. Let no editor through hypercriticism of contributed articles add to this educated suffering.
What is that we hear in the next room? It is the roar of a big fire as it consumes unavailable literary material—epics, sonnets, homilies, tractates, compilations, circulars, dissertations. Some of them were obscure, and make a great deal of smoke. Some of them were merry, and crackle. All of them have ended their mission and gone down, ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
The manhood of service.
At the Crawford House, White Mountains, we noticed, one summer, unusual intelligence and courtesy on the part of those who served the tables. We found out that many of them were students from the colleges and seminaries—young men and women who had taken this mode of replenishing their purses and getting the benefit of mountain air. We felt like applauding them. We have admiration for those who can be independent of the oppressive conventionalities of society. May not all of us practically adopt the Christian theory that any work is honorable that is useful? The slaves of an ignominious pride, how many kill themselves earning a living! We have tens of thousands of women in our cities, sitting in cold rooms, stabbing their life out with their needles, coughing their lungs into tubercles and suffering the horrors of the social inquisition, for whom there waits plenty of healthy, happy homes in the country, if they could only, like these sons and daughters of Dartmouth and Northampton, consent to serve. We wish some one would explain to us how a sewing machine is any more respectable than a churn, or a yard stick is better than a pitchfork. We want a new Declaration of Independence, signed by all the laboring classes. There is plenty of work for all kinds of people, if they were not too proud to do it. Though the country is covered with people who can find nothing to do, we would be willing to open a bureau to-morrow, warranting to give to all the unemployed of the land occupation, if they would only consent to do what might be assigned them. We believe anything is more honorable than idleness.