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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 155 pages of information about Backlog Studies.

If it should ever become the sad duty of this biographer to write of disappointed love, I am sure he would not have any sensational story to tell of the Young Lady.  She is one of those women whose unostentatious lives are the chief blessing of humanity; who, with a sigh heard only by herself and no change in her sunny face, would put behind her all the memories of winter evenings and the promises of May mornings, and give her life to some ministration of human kindness with an assiduity that would make her occupation appear like an election and a first choice.  The disappointed man scowls, and hates his race, and threatens self-destruction, choosing oftener the flowing bowl than the dagger, and becoming a reeling nuisance in the world.  It would be much more manly in him to become the secretary of a Dorcas society.

I suppose it is true that women work for others with less expectation of reward than men, and give themselves to labors of self-sacrifice with much less thought of self.  At least, this is true unless woman goes into some public performance, where notoriety has its attractions, and mounts some cause, to ride it man-fashion, when I think she becomes just as eager for applause and just as willing that self-sacrifice should result in self-elevation as man.  For her, usually, are not those unbought—­presentations which are forced upon firemen, philanthropists, legislators, railroad-men, and the superintendents of the moral instruction of the young.  These are almost always pleasing and unexpected tributes to worth and modesty, and must be received with satisfaction when the public service rendered has not been with a view to procuring them.  We should say that one ought to be most liable to receive a “testimonial” who, being a superintendent of any sort, did not superintend with a view to getting it.  But “testimonials” have become so common that a modest man ought really to be afraid to do his simple duty, for fear his motives will be misconstrued.  Yet there are instances of very worthy men who have had things publicly presented to them.  It is the blessed age of gifts and the reward of private virtue.  And the presentations have become so frequent that we wish there were a little more variety in them.  There never was much sense in giving a gallant fellow a big speaking-trumpet to carry home to aid him in his intercourse with his family; and the festive ice-pitcher has become a too universal sign of absolute devotion to the public interest.  The lack of one will soon be proof that a man is a knave.  The legislative cane with the gold head, also, is getting to be recognized as the sign of the immaculate public servant, as the inscription on it testifies, and the steps of suspicion must ere-long dog him who does not carry one.  The “testimonial” business is, in truth, a little demoralizing, almost as much so as the “donation;” and the demoralization has extended even to our language, so that a perfectly respectable man is often obliged to see himself “made the recipient of” this and that.  It would be much better, if testimonials must be, to give a man a barrel of flour or a keg of oysters, and let him eat himself at once back into the ranks of ordinary men.

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