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several hands, was in the possession piece, has three niches for ornamental of a gentleman near Bristol when engraved for Shaw's "Ancient Furniture," in 1836.
In the Douce Collection of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, there is figured in a manuscript of the fifteenth century a cradle, with the baby very nicely tucked up in it. The cradle resembles those of modern date, and is upon rockers. Another illustration of the same period shows us a cradle of similar form, the "cradle, baby, and all" carried on the head of the nursery-maid, — a caryatid style of baby - tending which we cannot suppose to have been universal. The inventories of household furniture belonging to Reginald de la Pole, after enumerating some bed-hangings of costly stuff, describe: "Item, a pane" (piece of cloth which we now call counterpane) "and head-shete for ye cradell, of same sute, bothe furred with mynever,"-giving us a comfortable idea of the nursery establishment in the De la Pole family. The recent discovery in England of that which tradition avers to be the tomb of Canute's little daughter, speaks of another phase in nursery experience. The relics, both of the cradle and the grave, bear their own record of the joys, cares, and sorrows of the nursery in vanished years, and bring near to every mother's heart the baby that was rocked in the one, and the grief which came when that little form was given to the solemn keeping of the other.
A miniature in an early manuscript, called "The Birth of St. Edmund," gives us a picture of a bedroom and baby in the fifteenth century. St. Edmund himself was born five hundred years previous to that date; but as saints and sinners look very much alike when they are an hour old, we can imagine that, as far as the baby is concerned, it may be considered a portrait. A pretty young woman, in a long white gown, whose cap looks like magnified butterflies' wings turned upside down, sits on a low seat before the blazing woodfire burning on great andirons in a wide fireplace, which, instead of a mantel
vases. She holds the baby very nicely, and, having warmed his feet, has wrapt him in a long white garment, so that we see only his little head in a plain night-cap, surrounded indeed by the gilded nimbus of his saintship, which we hope was not of tangible substance, as it would have been an appendage very inconvenient to all parties concerned. The mother reposes in a bed with high posts and long curtains. She must have been a woman of strong nerves to have borne the sight of such stupendous head-gears as those in which her attendants are nid-nodding over herself and baby, or to have supported the weight of that which she wears by way of night-cap. One nurse raises the lady, while another, who, from her showy dress, appears to be the head of the department, offers a tall, elegant, but very inconveniently - shaped goblet, which contains, we presume, mediæval gruel. The room has a very comfortable aspect, from which we judge that some babies in those times were carefully attended.
Many centuries ago, a young woman sat one day among the boys to whom she had come, as their father's bride, from a foreign land, to take the name and place of their mother. She showed to them a beautiful volume of Saxon poems, one of her wedding-gifts,-perhaps offered by the artists of the court of Charles le Chauve, of whose skill such magnificent specimens yet exist. As the attention of the boys was arrested by the brilliant external decorations, Judith, with that quick instinct for the extension of knowledge which showed her a true descendant of Charlemagne, promised that the book should be given to him who first learned to read it. Young Alfred won the prize, and became Alfred the Great.
We are brought near to the presence of a woman of the Middle Ages when we stand beside the monument of Eleanor of Castile, queen of Edward I., in Westminster Abbey. The figure is lifelike and beautiful, with flowing drapery folded simply around it. The
countenance, with its delicate features, wears a look of sweetness and dignity as fresh to-day as when sculptured seven hundred years ago. The hair, confined by a coronet, falls on each side of her face in ringlets; one hand lies by her side, and once held a sceptre; the other is brought gracefully upward; the slender fingers, with trusting touch, are laid upon a cross suspended from her neck.
Historians have done their best, or their worst, to throw doubt upon the story of Eleanor's sucking the poison with her lips from the arm of her husband when a dastardly assassin of those days struck at the life of Edward. But such a tradition, whether actually a fact or not, is a tribute to the affection and strength of Eleanor's character; and all historians agree that she instilled no poison into the life of king or country. As a wife, a mother, and a queen, Eleanor of Castile stands high on the record of the women of the Middle Ages.
Coming from Westminster Abbey, in the spring of 1856, we stood one day at a window in the Strand, and watched a multitude which no man could number, pulsing through that great artery of the mighty heart of London. It was the day of the great Peace celebration, and a holiday. Hour after hour the mighty host swept on, in undiminished numbers. The place where we stood was Charing Cross,
and our thoughts went back seven hundred years, when Edward, following the mortal remains of his beloved Eleanor, erected on this spot, then a country suburb of London, the last of that line of crosses which marked those places where the mournful procession paused on its way from Herdeby to Westminster. It was the cross of the dear queen, la chère reine, which time and changes of language have since corrupted into Charing Cross. Through this pathway crowds have trodden for many centuries, and few remember that its name is linked with the queenly dead or with a kingly sorrow. Thus it is, as we hasten on through the busy thoroughfares of life from age to age, even as one of our own poets hath said,
"We pass, and heed each other not."
In these pages we have made some record of woman's work in past centuries, and also caught glimpses of duties, loves, hopes, fears, and sorrows not unlike our own. A wider sphere is now accorded, and a deeper responsibility devolves upon woman to fill it wisely and well. We should never forget that, as far as they were faithful to the duties appointed to them, they elevated their sex to a higher and nobler position, and therein performed the best work of the women of the Middle Ages.
wood, are his familiar friends. He is also on intimate terms with the clouds, and can tell the portents of storms. It is a characteristic trait, that he has a great regard for the memory of the Indian tribes, whose wild life would have suited him so well; and, strange to say, he seldom walks over a ploughed field without picking up an arrow-point, spear-head, or other relic of the red man, as if their spirits willed him to be the inheritor of their simple wealth.
With all this he has more than a tincture of literature, — a deep and true taste for poetry, especially for the elder poets, and he is a good writer, - at least he has written a good article, a rambling disquisition on Natural History, in the last Dial, which, he says, was chiefly made up from journals of his own observations. Methinks this article gives a very fair image of his mind and character, so true, innate, and literal in observation, yet giving the spirit as well as letter of what he sees, even as a lake reflects its wooded banks, showing every leaf, yet giving the wild beauty of the whole scene. Then there are in the article passages of cloudy and dreamy metaphysics, and also passages where his thoughts seem to measure and attune themselves into spontaneous verse, as they rightfully may, since there is real poetry in them. There is a basis of good sense and of moral truth, too, throughout the article, which also is a reflection of his character; for he is not unwise to think and feel, and I find him a healthy and wholesome man to know.
After dinner, (at which we cut the first watermelon and muskmelon that our garden has grown,) Mr. Thoreau and I walked up the bank of the river, and at a certain point he shouted for his boat. Forthwith a young man paddled it across, and Mr. Thoreau and I voyaged farther up the stream, which soon became more beautiful than any picture, with its dark and quiet sheet of water, half shaded, half sunny, between high and wooded banks. The late rains have swollen the stream so much that many trees are standing up VOL. XVIII.NO. 107.
to their knees, as it were, in the water, and boughs, which lately swung high in air, now dip and drink deep of the passing wave. As to the poor cardinals which glowed upon the bank a few days since, I could see only a few of their scarlet hats, peeping above the tide. Mr. Thoreau managed the boat so perfectly, either with two paddles or with one, that it seemed instinct with his own will, and to require no physical effort to guide it. He said that, when some Indians visited Concord a few years ago, he found that he had acquired, without a teacher, their precise method of propelling and steering a canoe.
Nevertheless he was desirous of selling the boat of which he was so fit a pilot, and which was built by his own hands; so I agreed to take it, and accordingly became possessor of the Musketaquid. I wish I could acquire the aquatic skill of the original owner.
Sept. 2. Yesterday afternoon Mr. Thoreau arrived with the boat. The adjacent meadow being overflowed by the rise of the stream, he had rowed directly to the foot of the orchard, and landed at the bars, after floating over forty or fifty yards of water where people were lately making hay. I entered the boat with him, in order to have the benefit of a lesson in rowing and paddling. . . . . I managed, indeed, to propel the boat by rowing with two oars, but the use of the single paddle is quite beyond my present skill. Mr. Thoreau had assured me that it was only necessary to will the boat to go in any particular direction, and she would immediately take that course, as if imbued with the spirit of the steersman. It may be so with him, but it is certainly not so with me. The boat seemed to be bewitched, and turned its head to every point of the compass except the right one. He then took the paddle himself, and though I could observe nothing peculiar in his management of it, the Musketaquid immediately became as docile as a trained steed. I suspect that she has not yet transferred her affections from her old master to her
new one. By and by, when we are better acquainted, she will grow more tractable. ... We propose to change her name from Musketaquid (the Indian name of the Concord River, meaning the river of meadows) to the PondLily, which will be very beautiful and appropriate, as, during the summer season, she will bring home many a cargo of pond-lilies from along the river's weedy shore. It is not very likely that I shall make such long voyages in her as Mr. Thoreau has made. He once followed our river down to the Merrimack, and thence, I believe, to Newburyport, in this little craft. In the evening,
see us, wishing to talk with me about a Boston periodical, of which he had heard that I was to be editor, and to which he desired to contribute. He is an odd and clever young man, with nothing very peculiar about him, some originality and self-inspiration in his character, but none, or very little, in his intellect. Nevertheless, the lad himself seems to feel as if he were a genius. I like him well enough, however; but, after all, these originals in a small way, after one has seen a few of them, become more dull and commonplace than even those who keep the ordinary pathway of life. They have a rule and a routine, which they follow with as little variety as other people do their rule and routine, and when once we have fathomed their mystery, nothing can be more wearisome. An innate perception and reflection of truth give the only sort of originality that does not finally grow intolerable.
it. O that I could run wild! — that is, that I could put myself into a true relation with Nature, and be on friendly terms with all congenial elements.
We had a thunder-storm last evening; and to-day has been a cool, breezy autumnal day, such as my soul and body love.
Sept. 18.- How the summer - time flits away, even while it seems to be loitering onward, arm in arm with autumn! Of late I have walked but little over the hills and through the woods, my leisure being chiefly occupied with my boat, which I have now learned to manage with tolerable skill. Yesterday afternoon I made a voyage alone up the North Branch of Concord River. There was a strong west wind blowing dead against me, which, together with the current, increased by the height of the water, made the first part of the passage pretty toilsome. The black river was all dimpled over with little eddies and whirlpools; and the breeze, moreover, caused the billows to beat against the bow of the boat, with a sound like the flapping of a bird's wing. The water-weeds, where they were discernible through the tawny water, were straight outstretched by the force of the current, looking as if they were forced to hold on to their roots with all their might. If for a moment I desisted from paddling, the head of the boat was swept round by the combined might of wind and tide. However, I toiled onward stoutly, and, entering the North Branch, soon found myself floating quietly along a tranquil stream, sheltered from the breeze by the woods and a lofty hill. The current, likewise, lingered along so gently that it was merely a pleasure to propel the boat against it. I never could have conceived that there was so beautiful a river-scene in Concord as this of the North Branch. The stream flows through the midmost privacy and deepest heart of a wood, which, as if but half satisfied with its presence, calm, gentle, and unobtrusive as it is, seems to crowd upon it, and barely to
allow it passage; for the trees are rooted on the very verge of the water, and dip their pendent branches into it. On one side there is a high bank, forming the side of a hill, the Indian name of which I have forgotten, though Mr. Thoreau told it to me; and here, in some instances, the trees stand leaning over the river, stretching out their arms as if about to plunge in headlong. On the other side, the bank is almost on a level with the water; and there the quiet congregation of trees stood with feet in the flood, and fringed with foliage down to its very surface. Vines here and there twine themselves about bushes or aspens or alder-trees, and hang their clusters (though scanty and infrequent this season) so that I can reach them from my boat. I scarcely remember a scene of more complete and lovely seclusion than the passage of the river through this wood. Even an Indian canoe, in olden times, could not have floated onward in deeper solitude than my boat. I have never elsewhere had such an opportunity to observe how much more beautiful reflection is than what we call reality. The sky, and the clustering foliage on either hand, and the effect of sunlight as it found its way through the shade, giving lightsome hues in contrast with the quiet depth of the prevailing tints, all these seemed unsurpassably beautiful when beheld in upper air. But on gazing downward, there they were, the same even to the minutest particular, yet arrayed in ideal beauty, which satisfied the spirit incomparably more than the actual scene. I am half convinced that the reflection is indeed the reality, the real thing which Nature imperfectly images to our grosser sense. rate, the disembodied shadow is nearest to the soul.
There were many tokens of autumn in this beautiful picture. Two or three of the trees were actually dressed in their coats of many colors, the real scarlet and gold which they wear before they put on mourning. These stood on low, marshy spots, where a
frost has probably touched them already. Others were of a light, fresh green, resembling the hues of spring, though this, likewise, is a token of decay. The great mass of the foliage, however, appears unchanged; but ever and anon down came a yellow leaf, half flitting upon the air, half falling through it, and finally settling upon the water. A multitude of these were floating here and there along the river, many of them curling upward, so as to form little boats, fit for fairies to voyage in. They looked strangely pretty, with yet a melancholy prettiness, as they floated along. The general aspect of the river, however, differed but little from that of summer, - at least the difference defies expression. It is more in the character of the rich yellow sunlight than in aught else. The water of the stream has now a thrill of autumnal coolness; yet whenever a broad gleam fell across it, through an interstice of the foliage, multitudes of insects were darting to and fro upon its surface. The sunshine, thus falling across the dark river, has a most beautiful effect. It burnishes it, as it were, and yet leaves it as dark as ever.
On my return, I suffered the boat to float almost of its own will down the stream, and caught fish enough for this. morning's breakfast. But, partly from a qualm of conscience, I finally put them all into the water again, and saw them swim away as if nothing had happened.
Monday, October 10, 1842. A long while, indeed, since my last date. But the weather has been generally sunny and pleasant, though often very cold; and I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air. My chief amusement has been boating up and down the river. A week or two ago (September 27 and 28) I went on a pedestrian excursion with Mr. Emerson, and was gone two days and one night, it being the first and only night that I have spent away