“I must tell all. I cannot be unfaithful to my past. If I cut it away, I am but half myself. I wish also faith in the years to come, and those lofty delights which defy the tomb.”
In the meantime my work went steadily on, and I wrote a good deal for a Mr. Marks, who very soon removed to London. But in the interval he supplied the place of the Christian Union which in the years 1876 to 1877 was at such a low ebb, that no one but Dr. Lyman Abbott, who then took it in charge, could have guided it over the sea of its difficulties, into the safe harbor of its present influence and success.
In looking over my diaries for these years, I am astonished at the amount of money I made from short stories, poems, and articles. We lived comfortably on it, and wanted no good things. And I think my readers must be so familiar now with my regular life, that I will only specify the incidents which varied and changed it somewhat, until I reach the period when I gave up newspaper and magazine work for the purpose of writing books.
The first event of moment was our leaving Rutherford, and going to Denver, Colorado. To this day, I wonder at the circumstance. I was certainly ill, no, not ill, but completely tired out body and mind, so that even my ever upspringing soul was inert and indifferent. A change was imperative, but the sea, and a week or two of my native air, would have put me all right. Let no one smile at my prescription. In cases of lost vitality and extreme weariness, one’s native air is the finest tonic and builder up that can be taken. Drugs have nothing to compare with it. I am very weary now, but I know that if I could sit on Ulverston fells, and breathe the potent mixture of her sea and land ozone, I would be in a week ten years younger. I do not say this on my own experience or authority. English specialists insist on its virtue, and I know one of the greatest surgeons of New York, who takes this tonic every summer, if possible, and comes home a new man.
Well, I went to Denver. It was the most foolish thing I ever did, and I can not tell why I did it. There was a vague idea in my mind, that if I could not write any more, I might open in this new, growing town, such a school, as I had had in Chicago; and then my children had been talked into an enthusiasm about the West, and youth is always sure that change must be for the better. I gave way with a supineness that astonishes me to remember. A letter to Mr. Abbott, the passenger agent of the Erie line, settled the matter. He offered me a compartment for four at half-price if I would write an article for a pamphlet they would publish, and speak otherwise favorably of the line as I had opportunity. The girls were delighted, and I tried to feel some of their enthusiasm. The great trouble to me, was the breaking up of the home and the sale of the furniture I had worked so hard to obtain. But there was no alternative. If there were storage houses then, we knew nothing about them, and Lilly, who always looked at the bright side, said,
“It would be well to be rid of it. We didn’t know how, or where to buy furniture, Mamma, when we bought this heavy stuff. I know now where far prettier and cheaper can be had. Just let this go, Mamma. We can’t drag it to Denver, and if we do come back, we will buy things far more suitable.”
I made no further dissent. I only reflected how many of my homes I had seen torn to pieces, and scattered wide, and I wondered why this experience seemed obligatory. Then it struck me, that there might be a psychic side to the circumstance—that to break up my dwelling place, and send me on some far off journey was perhaps the best, the only thing my angel could do, in order to save me and my children from “Him that followeth after.” For I know well, that the breaking up of existing conditions, is often the only salvation; that we are sent long, unexpected, and often unpleasant journeys because it is the best way to defeat disaster; that we are often prevented from taking journeys we have planned and prepared for, because they would be fatal; yea, that we are often stripped as Job was stripped, in order to make possible the two-fold blessing of Job.
I felt the long, dirty, monotonous journey to Denver very much. But the children were happy. They made friends with an United States General and his charming wife and daughter, and were half sorry not to accept their invitation to go on with them to the frontier station which was their home.
We arrived in Denver on the twenty-first of July, 1878, after five days’ travel; and the next day we rented a small furnished house belonging to Miss Sargent, a writer of that day whose stories were much liked both in England and America. We made the place pretty and comfortable, and then took time to consider what we had done. I felt painfully the extreme rarity of the atmosphere. It affected my ears, and gave me a peculiar headache; but it is not fair to describe the Denver of that date, for it was the point to which all consumptives past hope were then sent. It was full of the sick and the dying, yet withal a busy town; but I saw at once that we should never like it, and my heart turned to New York with a home-sickness impossible to describe.
However, the great total eclipse of the sun was to be noted there in perfection on the twenty-ninth of the month, and we were glad to have an opportunity to witness what we should never see again in this incarnation. The day was clear, unnaturally still, and tenuous; and there was a sense of something supernatural about to occur. As the sun was gradually darkened, and the earth lay passive in that unearthly gloom, a dead silence prevailed, but the moment of totality, or the moment after it, was saluted with the shouts and huzzas of the crowd watching the marvelous event. It was no doubt the most sincere way in which the unlearned thousands could express their feelings, but it was not the awful wonder and worship that seemed fitting.
My old pupil, Mr. William Libbey, called afterwards. He with many other young men and students from the different universities had come purposely to observe the eclipse, and Mrs. Jackson, the beloved H. H. of the literary world, quickly found us out. But no kindness could reconcile us to a life full of strange conditions. Mary went back to New York with some returning friends in a month; I, as soon as I could bear the journey, and Lilly and Alice as quickly as the bitter cold of winter was over, and it was safe for Alice to cross the plains.
Thankfully I close this chapter with our happy reunion in some pleasant rooms in the St. Stephens, a very quiet respectable hotel on Eleventh Street and University Place. Many of my Rutherford friends stayed there when in town for a few days, and it was also the resort of at least three ministers whom I knew well. We lived there a long time, for among its many advantages was its proximity to the Astor and the Mercantile Libraries.
The day after my return to New York I went back to my sunny quiet alcove in the Astor, and found the paper and pencils I had left on its table untouched. I lifted them with affection, and tears sprang to my eyes as I looked around the hall, and from far and near received a smile and a nod of welcome. For I was the familiar of most of the alcove students, and always ready to give them the help of my own index in finding the material they wanted. All day long, I had little visits and pleasant words, and at the lunch hour Dr. Strasneky, the superintendent, came and chatted with me about my journey. He said he was glad to see me in my place again. “Every one missed you,” he continued, “we all liked to look up and see you sitting here, as happy and busy as if writing was the most blessed work in the world.”
“So it is, Doctor,” I answered. “If we write good words, and write them well, it is the work God gives to His beloved.”
“You talk mystically,” he said, “but you write plain enough. Don’t go away again.”
As he left me, a tall, pale young man brought his lunch in his hand, and sat down to eat it beside me. It was Wolcott Balestier, the brother of the young lady whom Rudyard Kipling married, and no mean writer of fiction. He was employed in the Patent Department, and he never told me he was writing. He liked to eat his lunch beside me, and discuss the people around, and what they were doing. Sometimes he gave me some of his marshmallows, and I gave him half of my apple. We always had a happy moment over these exchanges, and he used to banter me for being so extravagant as to buy apples, when they were five cents each. Well, when I first came to New York, I had sometimes hesitated between the apple and the ride home. If I got my apple, I had to walk up to Eighteenth Street, if I could do without my apple I could afford the cars home. Always the apple won, for I told myself, “I ought to walk home after sitting so long. It is really a question of health, and not of apples.” I wonder how it would have affected me, if I had been then made sure, that the day was coming when I would have apple trees of many kinds, that were all my own, and apples without stint to eat, and to sell, and to give away. Would it have been good for me to know this? No. It would not. Every one’s experience will teach them that much.
Above all other visitors in my alcove, I liked Frank Norton. He also was in the Patent Department, but I never saw a man so far out of his place. It was hard enough for young Balestier to be working over some old mechanical patent, when he was dreaming of love and ladies and great adventures; but the darkly handsome Professor N—— dwelt constantly among the stars, and believed himself to be spiritually related to them. He came into my alcove one day, and began talking about our earth having once been part of the sun, and he declared that her day and night, her tides and seasons, and simplest phenomena, would be unintelligible without taking into account her heavenly companions. He then attempted to prove to me how these extra-telluric influences, have also dominion over the phenomena of mind, because man, being a product not only of the earth but of the universe, is influenced by the stars as well as the earth. I confess that his wisdom was mostly beyond me, but I was greatly delighted with the word “telluric” and when he talked of “extra-telluric influences” I was eager and anxious to know what the word might mean. As soon therefore as he left me, I went to a dictionary and found out. I might have asked him, and saved some stair-climbing and research, but I knew if I compelled myself to look for the meaning, I would never forget it. Ever since the word has had a charm for my ear, and I have wanted to use it in the books I have written; but this is the first opportunity I have found. Professor N—— was then a young, handsome man, enthusiastically full of dreams, and of an extra-telluric nature; yet apparently under very good telluric influences, for he was always happy, always well dressed, and always had the air of a man well supplied with money. I wonder where he is today, and I hope sincerely that the stars and all other extra-telluric powers, have been very kind and generous to him.
And on the evening of the day on which this conversation with Professor N—— occurred, after thinking it over, I said to myself, “This earth, with its days and nights, its change of seasons, its tides and earthquakes, and magnetic storms, may be under extra-telluric influences; but the phenomena of the soul, is beyond all such control. By some mysterious exercise of its own powers, it moves on from phase to phase, from gloom to sunshine, from doubt to faith, from repose to activity, and natural laws are of no importance to it. What telluric, or extra-telluric influence, can govern thought?”
Lilly had always been the manager of our home affairs, and now that this employment was taken away, her mind reverted to mission work; and she went on a journey for the American Missionary Society that promised her a great deal of the kind of adventure she liked. She was to go to the southern states where schools and home missions had been established to report on the work they were doing, and the success or failure that had attended it. I do not remember how long she was thus occupied, but it was not long, for she was soon busy in her own way “among southern cabins;” for in Charleston she met Mr. Tourgee, and he advised her to go to John’s Island, which lay some miles off the coast of South Carolina and was famous for its long staple cotton. Here, he told her, she would find negroes far different from the usual type, and natural surroundings of great beauty and interest.
On this island there was a fine old manor house called “Headquarters,” then owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Peck, and she went there to see it. Every brick in this house had been brought from England by Lord Fenwick its builder, and its noble entrance hall, leaded library windows, and magnificent cypress paneling were still in beautiful preservation. It received its name from having been headquarters during the war of the Revolution, the war of A.D. 1812, and twice during the war of A.D. 1860. A very sincere friendship grew up between its owners and Lilly, and she stayed at “Headquarters” more than a year, writing charming papers about its woods and lagoons, its birds and reptiles, and its picturesque and exceedingly interesting negro life and character. These papers were all bought by the Independent and Harper’s Weekly.
Immediately after her settlement at “Headquarters,” she began to dream of, or to see in a kind of vision, an old lady and gentleman who appeared to be much interested in her. Their dress was that prevalent among the nobles and gentry during the reign of Queen Anne, or the early Georges, and they impressed her with a strong persuasion of their constant care and guardianship. She was sure that it was not only interest, but love that prompted them. Phantoms, of course! Yes, but phantoms of remarkable clearness and evidence, and all the time she was at “Headquarters” she saw, or she dreamed of them.
Now the singular point in this experience, was not known until this summer, when I received officially from the county clerk a list of all the references to my family, the Huddlestons of Millom, to be found in the county histories of the shires of Cumberland and Westmoreland. It will be remembered that I have just stated, that this fine old mansion was built by Lord Fenwick, and in the historical list just referred to, I find the following record:
“John Huddleston, son of the above-named Richard, who succeeded his father in 1337, married a daughter of Henry Fenwick, Lord of Fenwick, county of Northumberland.”
These few lines gave me food for some very pleasant thoughts, which I followed further than I can do here, but it was evident that these early Fenwicks who built “Headquarters,” still remembered that their family and the Huddlestons were kindred. After more than five hundred years had elapsed, as we count them, they remembered it, and knew that the alliance still influenced the Huddleston strain. Well, then the dead do not forget in the next life what happened in this life. Also, the affections of the dead remain in the same channel as when they were on earth. Far off from the original strain as Lilly was, they knew her, and they felt an interest in her welfare and safety. My readers can of themselves follow out these trains of thoughts; they may find comfort and explanations in so doing. And I think those of our families who are in another world like us to remember them.
Truly Lilly needed some protection, for she was surrounded by many dangers; the climate was dangerous, the reptile life was dangerous, and the negro element was tremendously in the ascendant; there being only forty white families on the whole island, while the negroes probably numbered four thousand, more or less. And Lilly knew not the word fear; she stood an hour in the hot swamp one day, and watched the long battle between a very large rattlesnake and an equally large black snake, watched them at close quarters until the black snake tore the skin off his antagonist, and left him flayed from head to tail in the burning sun. It never struck her that there was any danger to herself. “The snakes,” she said, “paid no attention to me. They were too busy with themselves. I was in no danger whatever.”
And at that time, in that lonely island, the white man and woman had no fear of the black man; nor did Lilly see while she was there any ill will of the black man to the whites. They still regarded with liking and respect the white families to which they had belonged, as the following incident will exemplify. One woman had worked four years after her freedom for her master, and he had never paid her any wage. Lilly asked “Why do you not sue him, Mary? The law would give you your wage, for he is able to pay it.”
“O Miss Lill,” was the answer, with a positive shake of the head, “we couldn’t hab a suit in the fambly.”
So much trust was there then in the old servants, that Lilly accompanied by Mrs. Peck, often went to Charleston in the long boat, rowed by four black men. Their leader was a gigantic negro called Binyard, and to his impromptu songs and recitatives the oars kept time all the sixteen miles. Thus when Binyard saw a steamer approaching, his stentorian voice hailed it thus:
“Git out ob de way, you steamboat!
Binyard’s on de ribber!
Binyard’s on de ribber, steamboat,
Git out ob Binyard’s way!”
Then when the steamer swept across their bow and left them rocking in its wash he continued,
“Go on dis time, little steamer,
I let you pass dis time,
Dere’s white ladies on Binyard’s boat,
So he let you pass dis time—
“But keep out ob de way, steamboat,
When no white ladies wid him;
He sink you sure, little steamboat;
He sink you wid his oar!”
As soon as they cleared Ashley River, and got fairly around the bend and into Stono River, they met many boats coming from John, James, and Edisto Islands, and then invariably the singing began, the leading boat flinging out the challenge,
“Gwine to hang up de sword in Zion?”
and the rest answering,
“Yes, Lord! ’Tis a great camp meeting
In de Promised Land!”
And this spiritual was followed by others, until they went singing into “Headquarters” landing. It is all changed now. The negro has been to the university and got “eddicated” and the white man no longer trusts him, and the white woman fears him.
In the evening hours while Mary was out at various houses, or entertainments I wrote a novel, one of the very best I ever wrote. It was called “The Last of the McAllisters.” I sent it to Henry Holt, being moved to do so by a feeling I could not resist, and cannot explain. He returned it with a letter saying, “If you will write me an American novel as clever and interesting, I will gladly publish it.” This letter, so kind and wise, set me thinking of the possibilities of American history for fiction, and was in fact the seed thought of “The Bow of Orange Ribbon,” and consequently of the series of American historical tales which followed it. The origin of novels is often very interesting, and far to seek.
Early in November, 1880, I had an almost fatal attack of inflammation of the brain, followed before I recovered consciousness, by double pneumonia. At the crisis of the sickness, I was for five days neither here nor there. Where was I? I was in a land where all was of fine shifting sand, a land of such awful silence, that I could feel the deadly stillness. And I wanted to pray, and could not pray. I was conscious of no pain, and no desire, but this terrible, urgent longing to pray, and yet not being able to cry to God for help. To want God, and to have no power to call Him, or to go to Him, was an agony there are no words to express. At last, as I stood helpless and hopeless among mountains of sand, there was a whisper, and the pang of unpermitted prayer was taken away. Then I cried out, “Spare me, Lord, that I may recover strength, before I go hence and be no more forever.” Instantly I was conscious. I knew that I was on earth, in my own room, and I spoke one word, “Mary!”
Mary was kneeling beside me, kissing my almost clay hands and face, and moistening my lips with drops of water. And I knew that I was saved. I knew that God had really given me a new life—a new physical and mental power. Physicians had said, I would never be mentally well again. I was dictating poems and other work to Mary, before I was permitted to have any light in my room—when I lay in my bed, while Mary stood at the open door, writing down my words. My convalescence was rapid and sure. I was in the Astor Library on the twenty-first of March, making notes for an article on “Nollekins, the Sculptor,” for Harper’s Monthly. The next week I went again for notes on “Beating the Bounds” for Mr. Munroe, the editor of Harper’s Young People.
I had been four months in my room. I felt now an urgent necessity to be at work again. I have a list beside me of the work I did in this month of March, and of the work done in the nine months following. It may interest some of my friends to read the list for March, because I was then scarcely out of the shadow of the grave. It includes twelve poems, four for Harper’s Weekly and eight for the Ledger, as follows:
“An old Man’s Valentine.”
“’Tis God’s World After All.”
“Blue and Gray Together.”
“The Fortune Teller.”
“The Best I Can.”
“The Lover that Comes in the Morning.”
“No Room for Me.”
“When To Drop the Bridle.”
“We’ve Always Been Provided For.”
“When Mother and I Were Married.”
Beside these twelve poems, I went to the library and procured the material for the Nollekins article, a lengthy one which depicted the Georgian life and celebrities; wrote two articles for Lippincott’s, and the school paper called “Beating the Bounds,” for the editor of Harper’s Young People. For the year following, I have a list which shows one hundred and thirty-one poems, eight stories, two of which were long enough to be called novelettes, and twenty-five articles referring mostly to remarkable people, places or events.
Mrs. Barr, November, 1880
But when the home is broken up the family scatters. I felt this painfully, for I missed Lilly constantly, and Mary was a great deal with friends, or away, so that Alice and I were really much alone. I had most of the office work to do, and was obliged to leave her when about it, though I took her with me to the library, if the weather was favorable.
Under these conditions it was as easy for me to go to England as to remain in New York during the summer, and in May, 1882, having just finished and sold to Appleton, my book on the “Children of Shakespeare’s Dramas,” I took Alice and went first to Glasgow and afterwards to Yorkshire; remaining away until Christmas was approaching. During that summer vacation, so-called, I sent back to New York eighty-one poems, stories, and descriptive articles, and this number does not include poems and stories written for English papers and magazines during the same period, but of which I have kept no list. These eighty-one poems and stories were sent to Mary, who managed their sale so well, that all were placed and mostly paid for, when I returned home.
This voyage is memorable to me because of a great salvation. On May the third, 1882, I dreamed that a Presence whose enmity I felt, stood by my bedside and said, “You are going to be lost! You are going to be lost! You are going to be ship-wrecked!” And I answered, even as I slept, “I do not believe you. God is able and willing to keep me in all my ways, and my soul trusteth in Him forever.” Then I awoke, and I said consciously over and over, the words I had said in my dream, and so fell asleep again, fighting the fear in my heart with trust and faith. And again I dreamed a Presence stood by my side, a holy loving Presence, and it said confidently “Go, and the Lord be with thee” (1st Samuel, 17:37). And I opened my eyes full of happiness, and there was no shadow of fear in my heart, and three days afterwards Alice and I sailed in the Devonia for Glasgow. We were, as before said, in Scotland and Yorkshire all summer; but took passage for New York again on the eleventh of November. I held fast to the promise given me, and in pleading it for our return voyage, I was suddenly affected in a remarkable way, by the wording of the promise. For the first time I noticed the word “be” in it. It seemed to stand out more plainly than any other word. Then I understood. God had promised not only to go with me, but to be with me. That was sufficient. There were very few saloon passengers. I remember only two ladies beside Alice and myself, an actress, and a Mrs. Orr of Cornwall-on-Hudson. No one comes into your life for nothing, and the next year being advised to go to the mountains for a month or two, I remembered what this lady had said about Cornwall, and I wrote and asked her if she knew of a house I could rent. She advised me to come and see Cornwall. I did so, took a house for six months, and have been here twenty-eight years.
Our first three days at sea were fine, and the wind favorable; the next day the sea was rough, and I was thrown against the brass pipe of the saloon stove, and my right hand painfully burned. On the eighteenth of November, at eleven o’clock at night, we broke our machinery, and in the morning, when I went on deck, I was appalled by the sight of the deck covered with pieces of iron, and wreckage of every kind; and my heart for a moment failed me. For nine days we drifted helplessly about the Atlantic, but all the time, day and night, men were working steadily to repair our engine. Captain Young, a devout man and a fine sailor, was speechlessly anxious, but he clung to Alice whenever he saw her, for she had told him the ship would reach New York safely; and he believed her.
On the night of the twenty-seventh, after dinner, he asked Alice and me to pray for the ship. “At eight bells,” he said, “listen and pray! We are then going to try the engine. If she works, we may, if God wills, reach our harbor in safety——”
“And if not, Captain?”
“We shall still be in God’s hands.”
With these words he turned away, and Alice and I watched faithfully with the anxious man. At eight bells we were on our knees, and as the bells began to strike, the thud of the engine began with them.
“I told you all would be right,” said Alice, and I kissed her, and both our cheeks were wet.
A few days later in the afternoon, Alice sitting quite alone in the saloon saw smoke coming from a place where smoke had no business. She instantly found an officer, and he ran for the captain. For a few hours there was an unusual commotion, but the subject was not named, and I understood from the captain’s reticence, that danger was over, and that silence was wise, and even imperative. For our long detention at sea, had made both water and provisions very scarce, and there was actual mutiny among the emigrant passengers, whose number was unusually large. It happened, however, that there was a big consignment of nuts on board, and they were given to the angry crowd, who were thus pacified. Two days afterwards we reached our pier in New York harbor, so grateful and happy, that we hardly felt the blustering wind, and snow and cold. We had been threatened with fire, and shipwreck, and mutiny, but all had failed to really injure. Nothing of us had suffered; for He had given His angels charge concerning us.
My readers, I hope, remember what I wrote about charms. They were not my words, but I endorsed them from my experience. Well I confess that this wonderful verse, 1st Samuel, 17:37, has assumed something of the character of a sacred amulet. When I first read it, I wrote the words of the covenant God had given me on a piece of paper, folded the paper with a prayer, and put it into a little pocket of my purse. It remained there for many, many years. Other documents placed beside it became invalid, useless, or outworn, and were destroyed. But the golden promise of God’s constant care remained. On certain occasions, I took it out and reminded God, that it read He would be with me. Finally the writing became so nearly illegible, and the paper so frail I solemnly renewed both, putting this renewal in the same purse pocket, where it remains unto this moment. It will go to the grave with me, for I will never give up that promise. God made it. God will keep it. Whether I deserve it, or not, He will keep it. Yea, if I did not deserve one letter of it, all the more I would plead,
“Because I seek Thee not, Oh, seek Thou me,
Because my lips are dumb, oh, hear the cry
I do not utter as Thou passest by!
Because content I perish far from Thee,
Oh, seize and snatch me from my fate; draw nigh,
And let me blinded, Thy Salvation see.
“If I were pouring at thy feet my tears,
If I were clamoring to see Thy face,
I should not need Thee, Lord, as now I need,
Because my dumb, dead soul knows neither hopes nor fears,
Nor dreads the outer darkness of this place,
Because I seek not, pray not, give Thou heed!”
For, alas! there have been times in the years gone by when I was even in such case, when I went wandering after strange Gods, and New Thought, and my dear, closed Bible reproached me. But of this interlude I will write in its proper place. I name it here, only that I may have the opportunity of thanking God as frequently as I possibly can, for the blessed, eternal possibility of repentance. For well I know, that God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy, and that
“... our place is kept, and it will wait
Ready for us to fill, soon or late;
No star is ever lost we once have seen,
We always may be, what we might have been.”
In March and April of 1883 I wrote one of the most interesting of all my Scotch novels. I began it on March twenty-fifth, and finished it on the thirtieth of April. I worked on it nine hours every day excepting four days when I only wrote eight hours. During this same time I wrote the following for Robert Bonner and Harper’s:
Mar. 25th. Finished my long paper on famous Irish women and began my novel, “Cluny MacPherson.”
Mar. 26th. At home all day writing on “Cluny MacPherson.”
Mar. 27th. Ditto.
Mar. 28th. Writing on “Cluny” all morning. Went down to several offices in afternoon. Did nothing in the evening. Had a bad headache.
Mar. 29th. Very sick headache, but wrote “Cato’s Song.”
Mar. 30th. At the last hour wrote “Two Workers” for Bonner, and he praised it very much, a great thing for him to do.
Mar. 31st. Very sick. Went to the dentist’s but could not have anything done.
April 1st. Wrote an “April Wedding” and worked on “Cluny.”
April 2nd. Still sick but on “Cluny,” and wrote “The Reconciliation.”
April 3rd. All day on “Cluny;” in the evening wrote “Lending a Hand.”
April 4th. All day on “Cluny.”
April 5th. All day on “Cluny.”
April 6th. All day on “Cluny,” but am feeling tired.
April 7th. On “Cluny,” very tired. A wet day and Peter Cooper’s funeral.
April 8th. On “Cluny,” and wrote a poem called “O Mollie, How I Love You!”
April 9th. On my novel nine hours.
April 10th. On my novel eight hours.
April 11th. On my novel eight hours.
April 12th. On my novel eight hours, and wrote “Two Ships.”
April 13th. On my novel nine hours.
April 14th. On my novel eight hours.
April 15th, 16th, 17th. Nine hours each.
April 18th. Very sick.
April 19th. Wrote “My Pretty Canary” and “The Little Evangel.”
April 20th. Wrote nine hours on “Cluny.”
April 21st to 28th. I wrote all day long on “Cluny,” but managed to write for Harper’s a poem called, “A Tap at the Door.”
April 29th. On “Cluny,” and wrote for Bonner a poem called, “Take Care.”
April 30th. Wrote “A Birthday,” finished “Cluny” and took it to Mr. Rand, of the Tract House.
Eleven days afterwards I saw Mr. Rand, and he told me they were reading proof, and much pleased with the book, and on February seventeenth, A.D. 1884, I received a letter from the Cluny MacPherson, chief of the clan MacPherson, thanking me for such a good picture of the clan life. The letter was dated from Castle Cluny, but the chief himself filled some important office in the Queen’s Household.
Just about the time that I finished “Cluny MacPherson,” Lilly returned home at my urgent request, and we went to housekeeping in some furnished rooms at 128 East Tenth Street. Then I made a short visit to England, leaving Alice at home with her sisters, as she was very averse to taking another ocean voyage.
My visit to Glasgow this year contained one scene, which made a great impression on me, and the recent death of General Booth brings it back so vividly, that I think my readers will be interested in the picture of this early salvation service.
At that time I had thought little of the movement. What I had seen of its noisy, moblike parades, with their deafening clang of cymbals and drums, and their shouting, jumping excitement, was not calculated to enlist the sympathy of intelligent persons. But then it was not such persons Mr. Booth wished to reach. “I have been sent into the world, to do the Lord’s gutter work,” was his own definition of his mission; and certainly at that day, his methods could only appeal to those on the lowest plane of humanity.
Well, one Saturday night in June, I had been dining with an old friend living beyond Rutherglen Bridge on the east side of the city, and in returning to my hotel, I had to pass through that portion of the old town, where Hamilton Street, High Street, the Saltmarket, and the Trongate pour their night crowd into the open place around the old Cross. The rain was falling in a black, steady downpour. The ragged crowd was swaying to and fro to the sounds of drums and cornets, and above all, I heard the shrill continuous scream of a woman’s voice.
I put down the window of the carriage, and saw the woman. She was marching, with an open Bible in her hands, at the head of a noisy crowd, and reading, or rather reciting, verses from the Gospels. Her face showed deathly white from under her black hood, her voice cut the yellow dismal fog in sharp screaming octaves, her whole appearance was that of one inspired or insane, and the rain poured down on the barefooted women, with ragged kilted petticoats, and wretched little babies hanging over their shoulders, who followed her. I shut the window, and shut my eyes in a kind of horror. I had a feeling, that somewhere, centuries ago, I had seen such a nightmare of black houses, and black rain, and such a heaving and tossing flood of miserable humanity, and somehow it comforted me to hope, that through the tumult, the fierce sorrowful laughter, and drunken jibes, some poor breaking heart must have heard, and understood, that woman’s shrill intensity as she called out, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
I had another experience of the Salvation Army, so perfectly Scotch and so characteristic, that I think my friends will be pleased to hear it. I was coming down the old Shorehead of Arbroath, and I met a band of men and women carrying flags and singing hymns. In Glasgow I had become familiar with these parades, and had been astonished at the toleration with which they were regarded. But the men and women of Arbroath, were of a different spirit and the tumult, and abusive storm of language became so great, that I stepped inside a little shop for shelter. The proprietor, a very dry rusk of a Scotchman, in a green duffle apron, and a red Kilmarnock night cap, was standing at the open door.
“The Salvation Army?” I said inquiringly.
“Ye arena far wrang.”
“What do you think of them?”
“I’m thinking it is better for men to meddle wi’ the things o’ God, which they canna change, than wi’ those o’ the government wi’ which they can wark a’ kinds o’ mischief and mischance. Thae Irish kirns now!” Then his face flushed, angrily, and fixing his eyes on a lad who was in the procession he cried,
“If there isna my Jock wi’ thae loons! Certie, the words arena to seek, that I’ll gie him, when he wins home again!”
“Then you don’t approve of the movement?” I asked.
“What way would I do that?”
“Have you read or heard anything of Mr. Booth?”
“Ow, ay, he is just a parfect Goliath o’ conceit, but he isna the man to hold the deil, for a’ his talk.”
“Is there a deil to hold? You know some ministers have given up the idea of personal devil,” I said; and I quite anticipated the look I got in reply,
“Have they? Ay weel, getting rid o’ the Wicked One, hasna got us rid o’ the wicked. Good day to you, ma’am. I’ll be requiring to go ben.”
These scenes were in the early days of the Salvation Army. A short time afterward, I saw Glasgow ministers of the strictest sect of the Calvinistic Pharisees, with their congregations at their heels, following the music of the Moody and Sankey evangelical movement, and I met their leaders as guests in the most exclusive religious families. After my return home Dr. Talmage, then editor of the Christian At Work, asked me to tell him frankly, which side the paper ought to take.
“The popular side,” I answered.
“Is that for, or against them?”
“For them, decidedly. Sankey’s voice draws the crowd, and then they listen to Moody’s speaking, and so the singing may lead to prayer.”
“You think it will be a success?”
“It is a success,” I answered, “and is going to a very great one.”
Then Dr. Talmage turning to Mr. B—— the active editor said, “The Christian At Work, will stand with Moody and Sankey, Mr. B——. It is the proper thing to do, I suppose?”
“Yes,” I answered, and he then asked if I had “seen anything of General Booth.”
“I have seen him several times,” I replied.
“What kind of a man is Booth?” Dr. Talmage asked.
“A big man, every way. He is the Cromwell of Dissent.” I heard that he was a passionate little Chartist when he was thirteen years old. I will tell you something, a good name is a good fortune, and the name of the Salvation Army was a kind of inspiration. One day a secretary drawing up a paper wrote, “We are a Volunteer Army,” and Mr. Booth took the pen from his hand, crossed out the word “Volunteer” and wrote in its place “Salvation.” He saw in a moment the splendid capabilities of the word, it fitted itself to the work, as promptly as the stuttering out of the word “tee-to-tal” inaugurated the grand successes of the temperance cause.
They are burying William Booth today, and no one can deny that he has fought a good fight; for he, and only he and his army, reach down to that strata of humanity which has fallen below the churches; and which are emphatically “ready to perish.” And if the Salvation Army only succeeds in facing a man around, or in making him take one step upward, instead of downward, there is hope for his next reincarnation.
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