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“A poem requested on the dog-star Sirius.

“To write an ode for the wedding of people in Maine, of whom I had never heard.

“To punctuate a three-volume novel for an author who complained that the work of punctuating always brought on a pain in the small of his back.

“Asked to assist a servant-man not very well able to read in getting his Sunday-school lessons, and to write out all the answers for him clear through the book—to save his time.

“A lady whose husband expects to be absent on a journey for a month or two wishes I would write a poem to testify her joy at his return.

“An elegy on a young man, one of the nine children of a judge of probate.”

Miss Sedgwick, in her letters, occasionally showed a keen sense of humor, as, when speaking of a certain novel, she said:

“There is too much force for the subject. It is as if a railroad should be built and a locomotive started to transport skeletons, specimens, and one bird of Paradise.”

Mrs. Caroline Gilman, born in 1794, and still living, author of “Recollections of a Southern Matron,” etc., will be represented by one playful poem, which has a veritable New England flavor:



Stout Joshua was a farmer’s son,

And a pondering he sat

One night when the fagots crackling burned,

And purred the tabby cat.

Joshua was a well-grown youth,

As one might plainly see

By the sleeves that vainly tried to reach

His hands upon his knee.

His splay-feet stood all parrot-toed

In cowhide shoes arrayed,

And his hair seemed cut across his brow

By rule and plummet laid.

And what was Joshua pondering on,

With his widely staring eyes,

And his nostrils opening sensibly

To ease his frequent sighs?

Not often will a lover’s lips

The tender secret tell,

But out he spoke before he thought,

“My gracious! Nancy Bell!”

His mother at her spinning-wheel,

Good woman, stood and spun,

“And what,” says she, “is come o’er you,

Is’t airnest or is’t fun?”

Then Joshua gave a cunning look,

Half bashful and half sporting,

“Now what did father do,” says he,

“When first he came a courting?”

“Why, Josh, the first thing that he did,”

With a knowing wink, said she,

“He dressed up of a Sunday night,

And cast sheep’s eyes at me.”

Josh said no more, but straight went out

And sought a butcher’s pen,

Where twelve fat sheep, for market bound,

Had lately slaughtered been.

He bargained with a lover’s zeal,

Obtained the wished-for prize,

And filled his pockets fore and aft

With twice twelve bloody eyes.

The next night was the happy time

When all New England sparks,

Drest in their best, go out to court,

As spruce and gay as larks.

When floors are nicely sanded o’er,

When tins and pewter shine,

And milk-pans by the kitchen wall

Display their dainty line;

While the new ribbon decks the waist

Of many a waiting lass,

Who steals a conscious look of pride

Toward her answering glass.

In pensive mood sat Nancy Bell;

Of Joshua thought not she,

But of a hearty sailor lad

Across the distant sea.

Her arm upon the table rests,

Her hand supports her head,

When Joshua enters with a scrape,

And somewhat bashful tread.

No word he spake, but down he sat,

And heaved a doleful sigh,

Then at the table took his aim

And rolled a glassy eye.

Another and another flew,

With quick and strong rebound,

They tumbled in poor Nancy’s lap,

They fell upon the ground.

While Joshua smirked, and sighed, and smiled

Between each tender aim,

And still the cold and bloody balls

In frightful quickness came.

Until poor Nancy flew with screams,

To shun the amorous sport,

And Joshua found to cast sheep’s eyes

Was not the way to court.

“Fanny Forrester” and “Fanny Fern” both delighted the public with individual styles of writing, vastly successful when a new thing.

When wanting a new dress and bonnet, as every woman will in the spring (or any time), Fanny Forrester wrote to Willis, of the New Mirror, an appeal which he called “very clever, adroit, and fanciful.”

“You know the shops in Broadway are very tempting this season.

Such beautiful things! Well, you know (no, you don’t know

that, but you can guess) what a delightful thing it would be to

appear in one of those charming, head-adorning,

complexion-softening, hard-feature-subduing Neapolitans, with a

little gossamer veil dropping daintily on the shoulder of one of

those exquisite balzarines, to be seen any day at Stewart’s

and elsewhere. Well, you know (this you must know) that

shopkeepers have the impertinence to demand a trifling exchange

for these things, even of a lady; and also that some people have

a remarkably small purse, and a remarkably small portion of the

yellow “root” in that. And now, to bring the matter home, I am

one of that class. I have the most beautiful little purse in the

world, but it is only kept for show. I even find myself under

the necessity of counterfeiting—that is, filling the void with

tissue-paper in lieu of bank-notes, preparatory to a shopping

expedition. Well, now to the point. As Bel and I snuggled down

on the sofa this morning to read the New Mirror (by the way,

Cousin Bel is never obliged to put tissue-paper in her purse),

it struck us that you would be a friend in need, and give good

counsel in this emergency. Bel, however, insisted on my not

telling what I wanted the money for. She even thought that I had

better intimate orphanage, extreme suffering from the bursting

of some speculative bubble, illness, etc.; but did I not know

you better? Have I read the New Mirror so much (to say nothing

of the graceful things coined under a bridge, and a thousand

other pages flung from the inner heart) and not learned who has

an eye for everything pretty? Not so stupid, Cousin Bel, no,


“And to the point. Maybe you of the New Mirror PAY for

acceptable articles, maybe not. Comprenez vous? Oh, I do hope

that beautiful balzarine like Bel’s will not be gone before

another Saturday! You will not forget to answer me in the next

Mirror; but pray, my dear Editor, let it be done very

cautiously, for Bel would pout all day if she should know what I

have written.

“Till Saturday, your anxiously-waiting friend,


Such a note received by an editor of this generation would promptly fall into the waste-basket. But Willis was captivated, and answered:

“Well, we give in! On condition that you are under twenty-five and that you will wear a rose (recognizably) in your bodice the first time you appear in Broadway with the hat and balzarine, we will pay the bills. Write us thereafter a sketch of Bel and yourself as cleverly done as this letter, and you may ‘snuggle’ down on the sofa and consider us paid, and the public charmed with you.”