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toms of reaction are numerous and unmistakable, and Rümelin's book is the most conspicuous one. That he and Humbert are not wholly without influential sympathizers, is evident from the following passage taken from Unsere Zeit, the semi-monthly supplement to Brockhaus Conversationslexikon: "We should think now that every one, even with regard to Shakespeare, has the right to go to heaven in his own way. The manner in which, in the recent (German) Shakespeare Annual, Rümelin is set down and set right, just like a meddlesome intruder who has not properly taken his degree as Shakespeare Doctor by some happy text-emendation, shows unmistakably that, besides the Shakespeare gospel, there has been set up an entire body of Highchurch Shakespeare dogmatics, that no one may venture to oppose under penalty of anathema."
Such language, in one of the most conspicuous and influential periodicals of Germany, is significant of the feelings with which the true corps of literary critics (I take Rudolph Gottschall to be author of the passage) regard the spirit of such men as Ulrici, Elze, and Gervinus.
We, to whom the language and thought of Shakespeare are native, cannot look with indifference upon the position that Shakespeare occupies in Germany. International relations are so unrestrained that not even a literary bubble of importance can burst in one quarter without spreading its circles of
influence far and wide. If the leading minds of Germany should one day come to consider Shakespeare as a sort of Merovingian king, who had outlived his times, and dethrone him among themselves, we should soon find like symptoms of revolt among ourselves.
Rümelin's Shakespeare Studies may be regarded, then, as marking a new era in German criticism. Indeed, I know of no work in our own language that is so characterized by an earnest, keen desire to get at the marrow of the matter. Rümelin has most rightfully called himself a realist. If we take up any ordinary biography of Shakespeare, any essay upon his genius, we find this one idea constituting the atmosphere of the picture that Shakespeare is an incomprehensible genius, a child of mystery, who lived, it is true, in England, on the border-line of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but who really existed independent of time and space and all the other surroundings that hamper ordinary men. As Rümelin says, we conceive of him as a Titanic genius striding over the centuries and the countries. The realist coolly pauses and asks himself, "Can this be so? Was not Shakespeare a mortal, and therefore limited by the circumstances in which he lived, guided and misguided, stimulated and fettered, by his associates ? Let us not bow down and worship him, then, as a myth; let us rather seek him out as a man, and understand him as a man."
MORE OF THE DOMESTIC ROMANCE.
I NEVER thought to have resumed this story, for I supposed the Van Hattan episode had closed the "story part" of my life. People are apt to feel so, I believe, when existence has fallen back to its usual round after some great experience, and as the years flow on they are surprised to find themselves leading lives just as eager and interested as in those days when the sky fell.
I remember Ellen Zerrahn once said to me, that the worst thing about marriage was that, thoroughly settled at housekeeping, there would not seem to be much more of any thing; there would be no more splendid possibilities in the life of a girl once seated opposite Mr. Jones at the diurnal coffee and softboiled eggs. And now? Never did life open out so illimitably to Ellen Zerrahn in her most romantic years as it does today, as she sits with the little flannel bundle on her lap!
How difficult it is to believe that the people who are living most are sometimes those whose lives seem to us like "weeds on Lethe's wharf." So to some very young Fanny, who has just read another of Edward's impassioned notes, seems the old maid who sits patient in her faded sweetness, with all these things forever gone by her. But what of the sage's little sentence, "It is only in renunciation true life may be said to begin?"
We had entered very easily and naturally upon the bequest. It was not a vast sum, certainly, but with the skill learned in our hard school we were enabled to produce quite wonderful results. The always fair young sisters now blossomed out so brightly that they were speedily gathered by honorable hands. In less than four years three of the Misses Hayne were wives, and the homecircle narrowed, and seemed to settle itself with great permanence in the persons of Mr., Mrs., and the eldest Miss
Hayne. Yes, as my twenty-seventh year drew on, the map of my life to come began to roll out before me. To cherish these two, so venerable and dear, while they should remain, and then to begin the lone pilgrimage of "Aunty" among the others-that was the programme.
They did not need me much so far. The three brides were so edger to display their domestic prowess to their appreciative parents that these were for a while kept en route continually. I too had been the rounds, and formed the unneeded third in those duets of bliss familiar to all who have enjoyed the society of the newly-married.
At this juncture came a call for one more repetition of the role. It was from Ellen Zerrahn, now Mrs. Browne-a name not far behind that of the imagined Jones. But this was a college-bred, prosperous—nay, an aristocratic Browne. His mother was a Lanphier, and the superb Misses Lanphier, his cousins, had accepted an invitation for the three months I was to be there; and then, too, we should have Stephen, first from Saturday till Monday every week, then for the four weeks' vacation.
Of this desirable Stephen, considered sufficient to bear subdivision among three young ladies, I had heard much. Projected as a smart boy" into college at fifteen, and finished at nineteen, he, at twenty-five a young lawyer of promise, had made the unique discovery that he had not enough education, and was taking a two years' turn at Harvard.
All these visitors for the winter Ellen secured in the spring, just as they had taken a house and begun to furnish it.
I found the result of their labors charming beyond what I had imagined or Ellen described, on the bright October evening which began my visit. The little house was beautiful, indeed, with the skill and taste which had dispensed
the "siller and to spare" upon its furnishings, and in the soft, radiant light of the parlor I found a fitting group. The eyes of the sweet bride shone with welcome. The Mr. Browne, now that I saw him, I did not wonder Ellen thought a prince of men. He had a face so true, and lovely, and manly, you were just glad he was alive and an American citizen.
I never saw more elegant girls than Lucretia and Juliet Lanphier. They were not of the regulation-type-just one friz and flounce though there was amply enough concession to fashion in their rich dresses to show their recognition of its high claims. I dimly remembered having seen them at a Van Hattan dinnerparty. They were of that order of beings, though they made the literary and intellectual rather more an end and aim than the others had done.
After half an hour Ellen wanted to show me the house, and I paused for a moment outside the open parlor-door, while she gave a message in the hall, and fully saw Stephen Zerrahn.
I saw how his face was the very seat of thought, and as his exceedingly dark blue eyes looked from under their black lashes with such earnest attention upon Juliet Lanphier as she spoke, I thought they might have warmed any woman to the beauty and inspiration she certainly showed.
I found all perfect up-stairs and downstairs and in my lady's chamber, and felt confident there was not a skeleton in one of those trim closets-no serpent in this Eden, unless-my experience would suggest the notion-it might possibly be the prismatic creature I had seen gliding from the area, with ten flounces to her trail.
When we went back to the parlor, Mr. Browne was employed in reading the newspaper and the others were discussing something very deep indeed. Unable to get any clue, we had an easy-talk with Mr. Browne, from which Ellen presently slipped away. Shortly after, some one called to see him, and I went into the little library off the parlor and looked over the books. After a while
my household ear began to listen, to find in what part of her domain Ellen might be. A faint grating sound from the kitchen enabled me to guess, and I went down. I found her not "superintending," as our manuals on the duty of wives propose as the limit of reasonable request, but tugging away with her own hands at a freezer of water-ice.
Mary understood perfectly," said she, ruefully, "that she was to freeze it after I made it, but she has gone out for all that. Oh, dear." It was a long sigh, and came, I well knew, not only from present weariness, but many a trouble past. I turned over a little tub to secure a low seat, and in spite of her protest lend a hand, and as we worked she poured out the familiar story. "I have had nine different girls since I kept house," said she. "We concluded after a while that one was not enough, but now we have two, things don't seem to go on a bit better. The cook is a careless old Irish thing, and the housemaid one of the sort who paint their cheeks and are out all night at balls. Her idea of putting in order is to poke things under and shove them out of sight. Neither of them half mind me."
I told her it was the common lot"romanced about the future cooperative kitchens and the Chinese; and by the time the ice was stiff she cheered up, and admitted her Browne-hood was happier, with all its cares, than the easiest of her young-lady days had been. At this juncture Miss Kitty returned, and we were allowed to go back to the parlor, while she tied on a white apron and tiptoed in with the ice and a meritorious air, which led Miss Lucretia to remark upon Mrs. Browne's "nice little Ganymede." She also placidly mentioned the impossibility of people of real intelligence suffering to any extent from poor servants, as their acquired knowledge of character must always enable then to avoid making bad selections.
With this consoling axiom our first evening together closed. Tired with my journey I slept late, and finally awake, set my senses at work to find if my tardiness would be likely to inconvenience
the others. People conversant with housekeeping can tell the rate of progress below-stairs before they have risen. If there comes up a woody odor, it shows the fire just made or mended and breakfast a long way off; and as the meal progresses, its various stages of preparation declare themselves. This morning the odors of coffee and ham crept up so long before the bell announced them on the table, I knew we should find both "done to death."
It is, unhappily, no rare sight to see an elegant group of breakfasters sipping overboiled, sickish coffee out of fine china and picking at chippy ham; but it troubled the Brownes exceedingly that these things should be in the house they meant should be so perfect.
The cousins Lanphier, fresh in white cashmere wrappers, left things for the most part untasted, and lunched upon crackers in a pointedly cheerful and unconcerned way meant to convey their ability to rise above the most adverse of material circumstances.
Afterwards they assumed their velvet togas," as Ellen called them, and went to a morning lecture at the Athenæum with Stephen, while we stayed at home and made the dessert and "saw to things" generally, visiting famously all the while.
In the after-dinner leisure we all met and talked at a great rate, and under the stimulus of appreciation, and perhaps a little friction, some very creditable mental sparkles were thrown off.
After a while I found we were all talking chiefly for Stephen Zerrahn, and should have been provoked had I not also perceived the reason. Only he listened to the remarks of each person with that close, thoughtful interest which is at once so rare and so flattering. People so listened to are apt to imagine that they are saying things very well worth while.
He certainly drew us out wonderfully on all the usual topics, including the woman-question. Perhaps I cannot give you a better idea of the respective styles of the Lanphiers than by repeating their views.
First. Lucretia the stately, with a little bend of her black brows, demanded for women the All-the seat in Congress, the equal hand and voice in the tribune and in the mart. Take the conventional cramping hand from woman, and she expanded at once intellectually and physically into the absolute equal of man.
Then up spoke Juliet softly fair, speaking as the most of men love to hear women speak. She just reproduced the old chivalric ideas-women were made for men, and set as high or as low as their lords so pleased. And she seemed to take it for granted that men had been and would still be pleased to make them queens; and what more could be asked? She seemed to take no count of all those modern queens for whom wait no men with crowns or even bread and butter. Of herself, Juliet cared to be nothing; she, however, was the woman who,
"If Love were guide,
Would climb to power or in obscure content
Miss Hayne, upon being examined, deposed that she was afraid of the New Testament. Interpreted as it read, without any effort after "interior meanings," it was hard to escape the conclusion that the power on woman's head, because of the angels, was not the kind of power to send her to Congress and make her a civil ruler over men. And yet woman ought to vote-not to hold office, but to choose her rulers. And if she would only be content to "throw away the worser part of it," this strife for hard domination, and feel herself truly as she is," not less but different," then her greatest pride might seem this same "heavenly difference" which gains for her the award that man shall love her even as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it.
Thus we all spoke, and did not observe at the time that none of us had found out what Mr. Zerrahn thought. Very fine and airy altogether ran the speculations of us care-free young folks, though I soon began to discover that life was not going quite so lightly with our hostess as with her guests. She had en
tered the hard experiment of carrying out a very high ideal of housekeeping before an observant husband, and valued and possibly critical friends.
Needless to say the materials did not prove adequate to the work. She herself had little more than the idea of what should be done. Had she possessed both skill and experience to the full, it would not have altered the need for hard work on her part. The difference would have been that she would have tired herself to death to some approach to the Juggernaut "ideal," while now she worked all the time only to feel the result a failure.
Ellen and her husband both possessed a self-sacrificing courtesy not very usual, I am bound to say, among young householders, and anxious that my visit should be only delightful, Ellen tried to conceal the worst of her perplexities from me, and often drove me out to take holiday with the other ladies when I felt I ought to be at home with her.
As the visit went on, I observed that the Mecca to which the thoughts of the Misses Lanphier progressed all the week was the Saturday which brought the student in from Harvard. Lucretia's classic coiffure took on an additional burnish and elaboration, and her toilet, from being perfect, became, so to speak, "past human." Juliet's crimps flowed in deeper waves, and for this occasion only the old flower-woman was patronized for the bouquet which from the lovely girl's slender zone sent up its incense to the dark-eyed youth.
They talked with him a great deal about domestic life, for it appeared Lucretia included a home in her stately programme. And, verily, it was to be a wonderful place. Those mythical public laundries and coöperative kitchens were all presupposed, and the labors of the wife, so far as we could gather, would be all discharged when the " thetic tea," brought hot to the door in the hermetical teapot, should be by her graciously poured out.
We did not get a perfectly clear idea of the working-model of Juliet's home, but it was, as a modest whole, to closely
resemble Mr. Tennyson's "Summer isle of Eden in dark purple spheres of sea."
And the young man listened in his earnest way, and, thinking the long thoughts of youth, doubtless Juliet and her plan seemed fully reasonable. He could hardly be expected to know how the thing was actually working at the Brownes'.
As the weeks went, I saw that the circumstances which had made a winter's visit from three young ladies desirable, ceased to exist. Dear little Ellen began to sit apart "printing her thoughts in lawn," or, fagging at dinner and dessert, did her ineffectual best to have that meal good and in season. But the domestic machinery ran down more and more. The Misses Lanphier's bell formed no slight part of the service. Miss Ganymede, Ellen was satisfied to find, answered it tolerably. Running up with the morning paper, or to rake the fire, was easier than the Browne part of the work, besides admitting her to a sight of Juliet doing her hair, and other processes profitable to observe for use at second hand.
It would have been puzzling to imagine how the two servants disposed of much of the time, had the housemaid been seen in the garden less frequently, interviewing the girl next door, while the ironing mildewed in the basket. Then, too, the odor of a dudheen in business hours would steal up from the kitchen, showing that Mrs. O'Shaughnessy was entertaining a cousin. Finally, I descended upon these quietly one day, and found upon the table a loaded pillow-case of fine linen, which proved to contain a tasteful little "cold collection," consisting of half a plum-cake, roast fowls, ham, canned fruit, and other entremets, with a-perhaps accidentalfork and spoon of the Browne silver in the midst. The cousin, starting up in confusion, dropped and broke his pipe upon the hot range, and disappeared in the cloud. Mrs. O'Shaughnessy lingered but to pack up her pair or two of footless stockings and the other dress, and to attempt a judicious selection from our