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Charles Dudley Warner.
(A graceful writer, chiefly known by his short sketches. Mr. Warner is, with Mark Twain,
the joint author of "The Gilded Age."]
(From "Pusley.") I KNOW that there is supposed to be a prejudice against the onion; but I think there is rather a cowardice in regard to it. I doubt not that all men and women love the onion ; but few confess their love. Affection for it is concealed. Good New-Englanders are as shy of owning it as they are of talking about religion. Some people have days on which they eat onions,—what you might call “retreats," or their “ Thursdays.” The act is in the nature of a religious ceremony, an Eleusinian mystery; not a breath of it must get abroad. On that day they see no company; they deny the kiss of greeting to the dearest friend ; they retire within themselves, and hold communion with one of the most pungent and penetrating manifestations of the moral vegetable world. Happy is said to be the family which can eat onions together. They are, for the time being, separate from the world, and have a harmony of aspiration. There is a hint here for the reformers. Let them become apostles of the onion ; let them eat, and preach it to their fellows, and circulate tracts of it in the form of seeds. In the onion is the hope of universal brotherhood. If all men will eat onions at all times, they will come into a universal sympathy. Look at Italy. I hope I am not mistaken as to the cause of her unity. It was the Reds who preached the gospel which made it possible. All the Reds of Europe, all the sworn devotees of the mystic Mary Ann. eat of the common vegetable. Their oaths are strong with it.
It is the food, also, of the common people of Italy. All the social atmosphere of that delicious land is laden with it. Its odour is a practical democracy. In the churches all are alike: there is one faith, one smell. The entrance of Victor Emanuel into Rome is only the pompous proclamation of a unity which
garlic had already accomplished; and yet we, who boast of our democracy, eat onions in secret. I now see that I have left out many of the most moral ele
Neither onions, parsnips, carrots, nor cabbages, are here. I have never seen a garden in the autumn before, without the uncouth cabbage in it; but my garden gives the impression of a garden without a head. The cabbage is the rose of Holland. I admire the force by which it compacts its crisp leaves into a solid head. The secret of it would be priceless to the world. We should see less expansive foreheads with nothing within. the largest cabbages are not always the best. But I mention these things, not from any sympathy I have with the vegetables named, but to show how hard it is to go contrary to the expectations of society. Society expects every man to have certain things in his garden. Not to raise cabbage is as if one had no pew in church. Perhaps we shall come some day to free churches and free gardens, when I can show my neighbour through my tired garden, at the end of the season, when skies are overcast, and brown leaves are swirling down, and not mind if he does raise his eyebrows when he observes, “Ah ! I see you have none of this, and of that.” At present, we want the moral courage to plant only what we need; to spend only what will bring us peace, regardless of what is going on over the fence. We are half ruined by conformity; but we should be wholly ruined without it; and I presume I shall make a garden next year that will be as popular as possible.
And this brings me to what I see may be a crisis in life. Ι begin to feel the temptation of experiment. Agriculture, horticul. ture, floriculture,—these are vast fields, into which one may wander away, and never be seen more. It seemed to me a very simple thing, this gardening ; but it opens up astonishingly. It is like the infinite possibilities in worsted-work. Polly sometimes says to me, “I wish you would call at Bobbin's, and match that skein of worsted for me when you are in town.” Time was I used to accept such a commission with alacrity and self-confidence. I went to Bobbin's and asked one of his young men, with
indifference, to give me some of that. The young man, who is as handsome a young man as ever I looked at, and who appears to own the shop, and whose suave superciliousness would be worth
everything to a cabinet minister who wanted to repel applicants for place, says,
"I haven't an ounce : I have sent to Paris, and I expect it every day. I have a good deal of difficulty in getting
I that shade in my assortment.” To think that he is in communication with Paris, and perhaps with Persia! Respect for such a being gives place to awe. I go to another shop, holding fast to my scarlet clew. There I am shown a heap of stuff, with more colours and shades than I had supposed existed in all the world. What a blaze of distraction! I have been told to get as near the shade as I could ; and so I compare and contrast, till the whole thing seems to me about of one colour. But I can settle my mind on nothing. The affair assumes a high degree of importance. I am satisfied with nothing but perfection. I don't know what may happen if the shade is not matched. I go to another shop, and another, and another. At last a pretty girl, who could make any customer believe that green is blue, matches the shade in a minute. I buy five cents' worth. That was the order. Women are the most economical persons that ever were.
I have spent two hours in this five cent business; but who shall say they were wasted, when I take the stuff home, and Polly says it is a perfect match, and looks so pleased, and holds it up with the work, at arm's-length, and turns her head on one side, and then takes her needle, and works it in? Working in, I can see, my own obligingness and amiability in every stitch. Five cents is dirt cheap for such a pleasure.
The things I may do in my garden multiply on my vision. How fascinating have the catalogues of the nurserymen become! Can I raise all those beautiful varieties, each one of which is preferable to the other? Shall I try all the kinds of grapes, and all the sorts of pears? I have already fifteen varieties of strawberries (vines); and I have no idea that I have hit the right one. Must I subscribe to all the magazines and weekly papers which offer premiums of the best vines ? Oh that all the strawberries were rolled into one, that I could enclose all its lusciousness in one bite ! Oh for the good old days when a strawberry was a strawberry, and there was no perplexity about it! There are more berries now than churches ; and no one knows what to believe. I have seen gardens which were all experiment, given over to every new thing, and
which produced little or nothing to the owners except the pleasure of expectation. People grow pear-trees at great expense of time and money, which never yield them more than four pears to the tree. The fashions of ladies' bonnets are nothing to the fashions of nurserymen. He who attempts to follow them has a business for life; but his life may be short. If I enter upon this wide field of horticultural experiment, I shall leave peace behind ; and I may expect the ground to open and swallow me and all my fortune. May Heaven keep me to the old roots and herbs of my forefathers ! Perhaps, in the world of modern reforms, this is not possible; but I intend now to cultivate only the standard things and learn to talk knowingly of the rest. Of course, one must keep up a reputation. I have seen people greatly enjoy themselves, and elevate themselves in their own esteem, in a wise and critical talk about all the choice wines, while they were sipping a decoction, the original cost of which bore no relation to the price of grapes.
JOSH BILLINGS' PHILOSOPHY. THE higher up we git, the more we are watched—the rooster on the top oy the church-steeple is ov more importance, altho' he is tin, than two roosters in a barn-yard.
If men are honest they will tell yu that their suckcess in life iz more ov a wonder tew them than it iz to you.
Take all the pride out ov this world, and mankind would be like a bob-tailed pekok, anxious to hide under sumbody's barn.
I think the heft ov people take az mutch comfort in bragging ov their misfortunes, az they do ov their good luk.
Call a man a thief, and yu license him tew steal.
A sekret ceases tew be a sekret if it iz once confided-it iz like a dollar bill, once broken, it iz never a dollar agin.
All fights, tew produce enny moral advantage, should end in viktory tew one side, or the other. Yu will alwus see dorgs renew a drawn battle, every time they meet.
Thare iz a grate difference between holding a hi offis, or having a hi offis hold us.
If a man iz full ov himself, don't tap him, but rather plugg him up, and let him choke tew deth or bust.
Laws are not made out ov justiss, they are made out ov necessity.
The man who kant find enny virtew in the human heart haz probably given us a faithful sinopsiss ov his own.
I don't think that Fortune haz got enny favourites, she was born blind, and i notis them who win the oftenest, go it blind,
It iz a safer thing enny time, to follow a man's advice, than hiz example.
The heart is wife ov the head, and we (who hav tried it) all kno how purswasiv the wife iz—espeshily when she wants sumthing.
I konsider a weak man more dangerous than a malishus one, malishus men hav sum karacter, but weak ones don't have enny.
I hav notissed one thing, that the most virtewous and diskreet folks we hav amungst us, are thoze who hav either no pashuns at all, or verry tame ones—it iz a grate deal cazier tew be a good dove than a decent sarpent.
The man who takes a dollar iz a thief, but if he steals a millyun he iz a genius.
Virtew haz no pride in it, nor sin enny humility.
Owls are grave, not on account ov their wisdom, but on account ov their gravity.
He who duz a good thing sekretly, steals a march on heaven.
Hunting after health, iz like hunting after fleas, the more yu hunt them, the more the flea.
Take the sellfishness out ov this world, and thare would be more happeness than we should kno what to do with.
When a man gits so reduced that he kant help ennyboddy else, then we vote him a pension for the rest ov his days, by calling him a “poor devil,”
CASSELL & COMPANY, LIMITED, BELLE SAUVAGE WORKS, LONDON, E.C.