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 could not be so ungenerous as to take advantage of a consent forced from you by a severe twinge of gout. I should surely expect as that "biggest toe "grows beautifully less, you would forget past pain and regret the yes. I begin to think it wouldn't be a very light thing for myself or husband to change our present active lives for the goutee's easy-chair and canes. It is hard to realize, when in the full tide of life and health, all the inconveniences of sickness and helplessness. The vividness of such things have seemed to come home to me in their reality this past trying summer, coming with pain and death to so many families. I have pressed my own with a trembling fear, and felt how much I loved them. I have felt the deep springs of gratitude well up with a warm gushing, that not a pain or an ache has occurred in my large household to quiver the heart-strings of sympathy. And rather than have.my heart wrung with sights and sounds of pain, I would dwell forever in a humble home, nor wish for change.
But you read me wrong when you take me as disconted with my lot. I cannot say that I have known such feeling. I have only felt at times an ineffable longing for the fulfillment of plans for comfort and convenience which gild our future, and which we expect so surely some day to enjoy. It was not the enjoyment' of your perfected home for two years which dazzled me, though I tried to prove how contented we could be there and our capability for it. It was the thought that our home in that interim, under the supervision of one of so much taste, and means at command, and who seemed to need some more stirring and active occupation, would be made in a much shorter time than we could bring about, partly at least, what we wish it. Your obtuseness in perceiving this is quite a convenient evasion, and you glance from this principal point with a lawyer-like cleverness of ingenious retorts upon your correspondent.
I do not fancy we should return to such a home, though far short of yours in elegance, with discontented spirits. Such temporary enjoyment would no more make us unhappy than a visit to some rare museum of art and beauty, or to some distant friend occupying such a home. Should my sons chance to journey to storied lands of old renown, where objects of classic beauty from time immemorial were gathered, and come discontented because they could not dwell forever there, or bring home all they saw desirable, I should confess that their parental training or self-culture was somewhere deficient. Were you, sir, made a prey to discontent or envy by such journeys The treasure you brought with you was but a mite compared with that you left. But could you not still enjoy those in memory, as well as these in possession I have found it easy to enjoy the better and more beautiful things that surround others for a time and lived them over and over again in retrospect, and felt them expand my intellect and heart, instead of being all shrunk up into an insignificant mummy of discontent, as though my feast of luscious fruits had been one of green persimmons.
As to the shutting up of certain apartments as too choice for us, or beyond our orderly, skillful care - to that I could not stoop. My haughty pride would not brook an insinuation that the choicest spot in any grandee's palace was too fine, or beyond the appreciation and care of me and mine. Because the wheel of fortune has landed you, sir, in a palace, and me in a cottage, is it that we were not good enough for the palace! Allow me rather to suppose that it is because you needed the reflected lustre of fine surroundings, and needed the appliances of convenince to accomplish aught of note, but in the cottage might pass along a mere ordinary like many other specimens of plodding humanity; while we were capable of reflecting brightness upon the cottage and accomplishing much, unaided by favorable circumstances, and yet were not incapable of doing justice to a palace home. Ah, I see, you deem us too plebeian for your patrician halls! "Well, there's a niche in this world for every one, but I don't know as it will be defeating or thwarting our destiny if we exert ourselves to get out ofgthe cottage niche into the house niche of our hope.
So you are a grandfather! then I fear past the time for entering into the full spirit of rearing a new home with all its appurtenances. A more youthful tide should quicken your veins and give the gusto of present eniovment. to insure final success are no longer for you Beat you in the quiet enjoyment of gathered perfections. Dispence all the happiness you can to those about you. Instruct, advise, and lecture all the inquisitive and ignorant idlers so likely to hover about one in your position, and rouse them to walks of useful activity. Let the world about you enjoy the mental and bodily labors of your many years and collected treasures. It is but a little while you can enjoy them, and you cannot take them hence. So will you pass down to the dark valley with a peaceful quiet, feeling conscious that the talent for such accomplishment, and the wealth to execute great plans, bestowed upon you, have not been selfishly expended.
Shall I mistrust that you are not the possessor of such varied and all-comprehensive talent as I supposed you Surely I see nothing incompatible in the enjoyment of all you boast, in addition to wildwood, prairie, and all more truly natural things and occupations. And I see no reason why one cannot enjoy more than one degree or class of objects, pursuits and pleasures.
How can I help "persisting" that you are "unfortunate"? Are you not continually rousing my tenderest sympathiest Now they are awakened afresh, and unbidden tears spring, as ever and anon like a solemn knell, rings through my soul with its sadgvibrations," hope, which to me alas, is loet They echo there till I feel my heart with rueful sorrow swelling. How can you live without that feeling which seems to tinge unconsciously every hour of my Ufa It never would do for you to come here without a lively, hopeful spirit Could I relate to you the trials of the past season, and difficulties of obtaining "help" of any sex or age - such longings, and searchings, and enquirings, and hopings for something or somebody - then wondering whether that whole class of helpful humanity has been obliterated, that there seems none to be roused anywhere, you would see that one need have a stock of hope, high, broad and well grounded And there are many other things for which one need have a vast store in reserve.