This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
I fear you underrate the comprehensiveness of Mrs. Atticus' talent. Circumstances have never sounded their depths. Women, I think, more than men possess a vast amount of undeveloped energy and capability, and there's no telling till this is called out by circumstances what an amount, and what very varied things, she can do - gliding from sphere to sphere of duty with ease and facileness, If Mrs. AttiCus is not such an one, then you have somehow spoiled her. But I'11 warrant, place her here for instance, you would find every nook and corner of the house still in fastidious neatness. She would find time to impart some of the accomplishments and learning of other days to her children and attend to your dinners practically as well as theoretically; and at evening visit with you, or at some social gathering join in converse on literature, and taste, and science with others whom you might fancy, knew you not to the contrary, had never entered the kitchen except to order the cook, or out out whole stores of garments needed by a numerous household, but merely directed her sempstress. Such are the women the West produces.
If she had once had her choicest silk dress and crape shawl ruined by the blundering of a stupid Dutchman, who, in his attempts to put the carriage in order, had daubed the whole "gear," and every part of wood work and leather work, with a superfluous quantity of grease to make it shine. While you were wondering how in the world you would ever teach that stupid fellow what and how to do, she would insinuate Bridget into the taking out pails of water and sponges, and superintend the whole operation, and even take the sponge in hand herself when fearing for the fate of the delicate lining. And Bridget couldn't object at going out of her sphere to finish the "gear" when madm encouraged by showing and touching up any difficult places herself An educated imaginative woman has more ingenuity about work that she has never even seen performed, than an ignorant servant, devoid of ideality, who has never cultivated aught but muscular power, and directed his ideas and powers only in certain directions. At evening she would with you turn over your drawings and engravings, and you would not dream so "sticky a substance as grease" had ever pointed her fingers.
Such diversity of talent does the West, where help is poor and scarce, call forth in daughters more tenderly reared in the without ever soiling their fingers, or exerting their strength, in what we call work, and just as capable of doing justice to a pietnre gallery and rooms of recherche elegance.
Bat I wouldn't blame Mrs. ATTICUs or any other lady lor not wishing to call up any snch hidden genius. There are talents and occupations enough much more agreeable in their execution and performance, and through which one can be quite as useful to themselves and others. Though I would not advise them to shrink from any duty, but where they hare the choosing of their own duties and manner of life, untrammeled by compulsive circumstances, it would be a great waste of opportunities and time to seek notability in occupations which others, who are not capable of filling their sphere of duties, can do quite as well.
I was just thinking of a day in my youth when I sat in a handsome city parlor with a married friend whom I greatly admired. She possessed a mind richly and variedly stored - a countenance all sweetness and amiability, tinged with a soft dreaminess which peculiarly harmonised with her quiet, gentle manner. One would scarce suppose her gifted with more than energy to gently hint the presence of "dust" that might fleck her "carriage cushions." How I enjoyed her conversation as she opened to my youthful mind the rich stores garnered in her own. I seem to hear, even now, that lute-like voice. Now behold her in a Western home, far from church or school, doing much household work, rearing her own little ones while she burnished up her Latin and Greek to assist in preparing sundry nephews for college, and shrinking not to ride off a dozen miles to take care of a sick neighbor's family through the night Her fingers have doubtless been often very "greasy," but did you know her, you would not dream of shotting up your choicest rooms from her supervision and enjoyment.
You can't have a hand in rearing my home, if you dubb children as troublesome creatures. It is for my children that I wish it - for them I desire all things about me comfortable, convenient and attractive. Were I a lone maiden, or motherless wife, greatly diminished would my longings fir these things be. I can scarce imagine how anybody can have hopes and wishes that are not somewhere connected with children - children which One has, may have, or expects and hopes to have. You "forget" them 1 Did you ransack your whole vocabulary for some word to test the provocative depth of my wrath! Were there no more children on this earth, how quickly would all research, and invention, and improvement be stayed. Who would exert themselves when the fruits of labor would only be known and enjoyed by the present generation, so soon to pass away.
But Mr. Barry will shut me out of his beautiful monthly if I am so prolix and loquacious. It's a pity that I am just now so particularly engaged that I can't pay you a visit of cheer and sympathy, but I hope to hear better things of those swollen feet soon. If ever there comes for me some leisure day- - which now seems so improbable - I may knock at your gates if you will promise not to rank me among the "inquisitive idlers," but where objects of floriculture and horticulture present themselves, let me indulge my admiration and curiosity to its full extent ELSER - Woodside, Waukesha, Wis.
This lost letter of our fair friend "Elsie" is interspersed with many sharp and good things, but really it is too long. Ladies's pens are like their tongues, not easily tired. We hazard something in saying this.