Showing posts with label Peabody. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peabody. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ada Shepard Badger

Ann Adeline "Ada" Shepard/Shephard (1835-1874) daughter of Otis Shepard/Shephard (1797-1858) and Ann Pope (1803-1886) born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. She married Henry Clay Badger and had four children: Theodore Badger (1862-1910), Frederick Badger (1865-1944), Ernest Badger (1869-1888), and Katharine Badger (1872-18920. Ada is a direct line to Ralph Shephard, who came to Massachusetts in 1635 on the ship "Abigail." Photo from Special Collections Concord Library
The "Banner of Light" published an account of Ada was governess and translator to the children of author Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) and Sophia Peabody (1809–1871): Below is a photo of the Hawthorne children: Una Hawthorne (1844-1877) Julian Hawthorne (1846-1934) Rose Hawthorne (1851-1926) taken 1862 by Silsbee and Case courtesy of Hawthorne in Salem
Ada was recommend by Horace Mann, husband of Mary Tyler Peabody Mann, sister of Sophia Peabody Hawthorne. Horace was president of the co-ed Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio where Ada was a student.
Read my article on GenealogyBank blog "Writer Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Real-Life ‘Ghost Story’"

Ada traveled with the Hawthorne family for two years visiting major cities in France, England, Italy and Switzerland. 

Susan D Abele (1904-1999), granddaughter of Ada notes in her essay, "Ada Shepard and her Pocket Sketchbooks, Florence 1858,"
that "scholars have pigeonholed Ada as the governess, using her correspondence to illuminate her famous employer's European experiences. But Ada was more than a governess. Her education was unusual for the time and her later work as an educator gained the respect of her peers." Susan Abele's assertion is quite accurate. Ada attended speeches and lectures given by women's right advocate Lucy Stone and abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison

In Memories of Hawthorne, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop (1851-1926)  "Last evening Miss Ada Shepard and I went to a neighboring villa to see some table-turning, which I have never seen, nor anything appertaining to spirits,"  Miss Shepard then took a pencil and paper for the spirits to write Photo from Sundry Thoughts
Aunt Ingersoll Julian Hawthorne wrote to regarding Mary Rondel.
Among the artist circles present during these 
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1860), Robert Browning (1812-1889) and their son, Robert "Pen" Wiedeman Barrett Browning (1849-1912), Margret Fuller  
William Wetmore Story (1819-1895), his wife Emelyn Story (1820-1895). 

William Wetmore Story (1819-1895) son of Joseph Story (1779-1845) and Sarah Waldo Wetmore (1779-1855) married Emelyn Eldredge (1820-1895) daughter of Oliver Eldredge (1789–1857) and Hannah Smalley (1793–1867) His sculpture Cleopatra Photo from The New York Times 1916

Ada married Henry Clay Badger (1832-1894) son of Joseph Badger (1792-1852) and Eliza Mehitable Sterling (1799-184) .

Henry Clay Badger (1833-1894) graduated from Antioch College in 1857, and from 1859 to 1861, he was its Professor of Modern Languages. He was ordained on Nov. 13, 1862, and served congregations in Cambridge, Dorchester (Christ Church), Staten Island, and Ithaca, New York. He was curator of the Harvard Map collection from 1889 to 1892 Photo from Unitarian Universalist Association. Minister files, bMS 1446. Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School

The couple met a professor at Antioch Ada established a  School known as the Newbury Street School in Boston.
One account of Ada's death was published by Henry's brother, William Whittlesey Badger (1835-1898) who it an "over-sensitive constitution resulting in nervous prostration and loss of reason."

Henry Clay Badger Photo from Andover-Harvard Theological Library Special collections Unitarian Ministers bms 1446

The Newbury Street School. [A Circular.] 1874 The school year announcement to reopen after Ada passed

Lucretia Peabody Hale (1820-1900) daughter of Nathan Hale and Sarah Preston Everett

 William Wetmore Story--Cleopatra (1858) was described and admired in Nathaniel Hawthorne's romance, The Marble Faun, or The Romance of Monte Beni. The replica in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry M. Bateman (78.3) see William Story and Cleopatra by Albert T Gardner 

  • Giles Badger and his Descendants, First Four Generations by a Descendant John Cogswell Badger, Manchester, N.H. 
  • A History of the Dorchester Pope Family. 1634-1888: With Sketches of Other Popes in England and America, and Notes Upon Several Intermarrying Families
  • Ralph Shepard, Puritan published in Massachusetts 1893 Ralph Hamilton Shepard
  • Ada Shepard and Her Pocket Sketchbooks, Florence 1858 Susan D, Abele
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife, Volume II Julian Hawthorne, 1884
  • A Volume of Records Relating to the Early History of Boston, Volume 36
  • Letter 
  • The Brownings Correspondence 
  • The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne 2001 Margaret B. Moore 
  • Hawthorne and his circles Julian Hawthorne 
  • Mary Peabody and Horace Mann 
  • Julian Hawthorne's Contributions to the "Pasadena Star-News", 1923–1935 
  • Tea, Strawberries, and Spirits: A History of Spiritualism and the Occult in Salem: The Rise of Witch City Maggi Smith-Dalton (Charleston, SC: History Press, 2012)
  • Hawthorne's mad scientists: pseudoscience and social science in nineteenth-century life and letters
Joseph Badger the first missionary of the Western Reserve published by Ohio Archeological and Historical publication Byron R Long
Jonathan PHELPS, father of Rachel Phelps Hawthorne from "The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 104"

Thursday, May 1, 2014

B G Willey & Gilead Maine

Chapter XVI from Benjamin G. Willey's Incidents in White Mountain History (1856) From the Bethel Historical Society  Photo share from Gilead Historical Society NEW AD From Heirlooms Reunited  1803 Brunswick, Maine Document: Joseph Lary, Jr. Promises to Pay Robert McManus
Benjamin G. Willey (1795-1867)
Portrait from Bent's Bibliography of the White Mountains (1911) Situation of Gilead — Soil — Wild River — Early Settlers — Ministers — First Church — Slide — Bears — Encounter of One Bean — York's Warm Reception by a Bear — Oliver Peabody's Loose Ox — Famine Among Bears — Bear and Hog Story — Horrible Tragedy. Gilead, formerly called Peabody's Patent, took its name from a great Balm of Gilead tree, still standing near the centre of the town.  It lies on both sides of the Androscoggin River, which runs through its entire length from east to west, the town being six miles long, and three wide.  On the borders of this river is some of the best land in the region, producing very bountiful crops.  One farm, some years since, under the cultivation of a very skillful, industrious farmer, when a premium was offered by the State of Maine for the best crop of wheat on a given portion of land, secured the premium.  Large crops of corn and potatoes have been raised on it.  Some of the former have equaled one hundred bushels to the acre.  The more usual crop is from forty to sixty bushels.  Potatoes have gone up as high as one thousand six hundred bushels to the acre; and one man, for a number of years in succession, raised one thousand five hundred bushels to the acre.
    The town is so situated as to escape almost entirely the early frosts of autumn.  Ranges of high mountains bound the valley in which it is situated, completely shutting it in on the east and west.  A continual current of air is thus formed, preserving the crops in the valley and on the hillsides, while the frost is busily at work in the adjoining towns.  Shaggy and rude in the extreme are the mountains which so completely wall in this fertile valley.  One has remarked that "the expense of transportation of fuel down the mountains, in a slippery time, is very trifling."
Androscoggin River from the Bridge at Gilead, June, 1973. U.S. EPA. National Archives #NWDNS-412-DA-8215
 Wild River, one of those impetuous mountain streams, empties into the Androscoggin in this town.  "It is a child of the mountains; at times fierce, impetuous and shadowy, as the storms that howl around the bald heads of its parents, and bearing down everything that comes in its path; then again, when subdued by long summer calms, murmuring gently in consonance with the breezy rustle of the trees, whose branches depend over it.  An hour's time may swell it into a headlong torrent; an hour may reduce it to a brook that a child might ford without fear."
    This town was settled about the time Shelburne was, whose brief history we have just given [in a previous chapter].  The settlers came generally from Massachusetts and the southern part of New Hampshire.  They were Thomas Peabody, Capt. Joseph Lary, Isaac Adams, Eliphalet Chapman, Capt. Eliphalet Burbank, George Burbank, Ephraim and Seth Wight, John Mason, Stephen Coffin, and Samuel Wheeler.  After this, soon came Phineas Kimball, Henry Philbrook, Peter Coffin, and Joseph Lary, Jr.  These were all exemplary good men, giving a character of energy to the place.  They regarded religious institutions, and helped sustain them by their property and example.  They were a church-going people, always attending the worship of God on the Sabbath. From Find A Grave Peter Coffin
From the earliest time of its settlement it has enjoyed more or less steadily the preaching of the gospel.  Before any Christian church was planted in it, it had a succession of missionaries, sent from different sources, who were instrumental of great religious benefit to the people.  Among these were the Rev. Jotham Sewall, or, as he is often called, "Father Sewall," and the Rev. Samuel Hidden, of Tamworth. In 1818, a Congregational church was formed, consisting of Melvin Farwell and wife, Abraham Burbank and wife, Widow Susannah Burbank, Betsey Philbrook, John Mason, Jr., H. Ingalls, Rhoda Styles, Mary Peabody, and Ephraim and Seth Wight.  This church, sometimes through its own efforts, and sometimes in connection with Shelburne, has had preaching most of the time since its formation.  Its regularly settled pastors have been Rev. Henry White, and Rev. Henry Richardson.  Besides those, Rev. Daniel Goodhue and others have been supplies for different portions of time.  There is a Methodist church, also, which has been instrumental of great religious and moral benefit to the place. During the terrible storm of 1826, when my brother's [Samuel Willey] family was destroyed at the [Crawford] Notch, slides also took place on many of the mountains in this town.  From Picked Hill came rushing down thousands of tons of earth, and rocks, and trees, and water, destroying all that lay in their path.  No lives were lost, but the consternation of the inhabitants was great.  The darkness was so intense as almost to be felt.  The vivid lightnings and long streams of fire, covering the sides of the mountains, caused by the concussion of the rocks, only served to make the darkness more visible.  Amid the deluge of rain, the terrific crashings of the thunder, and, over all, the deafening roar of the descending slides, it was impossible to make one's self heard.  The valley rocked as though an earthquake was shaking the earth.  The frightful scene did not last long; but, during its continuance, more terror was crowded into it than during an ordinary lifetime.  The inhabitants under these mountains alone can appreciate the awful scene through which my brother and his family passed on that terrible night. This region has been very much infested with bears, especially during the summer months.  Many live now on the mountains, preventing entirely the raising of sheep.  Though much of the land, especially on the mountains, is well adapted to grazing, still it is never safe to trust sheep and young stock far from the settlements.  So late as the summer of 1852, a most desperate encounter took place between one of the farmers in this vicinity and a large black bear of the white-face breed—the most savage of that variety.   A Mr. Bean was at work in his field, accompanied by a boy twelve years of age.  The bear approached him, and having his gun with him, charged for partridges, he fired, but with little effect.  The bear bore down upon him; he walked backwards, loading his gun at the same time, when his foot caught by a twig, which tripped him up, and the bear leaped upon him.  He immediately fired again, but with no visible effect.  The bear at once went to work,—seizing his left arm, biting through it, and lacerating it severely.  While thus amusing himself, he was tearing with his fore paws the clothes, and scratching the flesh on the young man's breast.  Having dropped his arm, he opened his huge mouth to make a pounce at his face.  Then it was that the young man made the dash that saved his life.  As the bear opened his jaws, Bean thrust his lacerated arm down the brute's throat, as far as desperation would enable him.  There he had him!  The bear could neither retreat nor advance, though the position of the besieged was anything but agreeable.  Bean now called upon the lad to come and take from his pocket a jack-knife and open it.  The boy marched up to the work boldly.  Having got the knife, Bean with his untrammeled hand cut the bear's throat from ear to ear, killing him stone dead, while he lay on his body!  It was judged the bear weighed nearly four hundred pounds.  One of his paws weighed two pounds eleven ounces.
    The earlier annals of this town are full of adventure, nearly equaling this in daring and bravery.  The older inhabitants can recall many a scene of thrilling interest which took place within sight of their very cabins.
    A man by the name of York, living in the woods, one day came rather suddenly upon a full-grown bear.  They both stopped and looked each other steadily in the face.  Neither seemed disposed to retreat.  The bear bade defiance in her look, and York did the same.  An encounter seemed unavoidable, partly because he dare not retreat now if he might, and partly because he had the pluck not to do it if he could.  So they both addressed themselves to the battle.  The bear raised herself on her hind feet, standing upright, and spread her fore legs to receive her antagonist.  York responded by opening his arms, and a close grip succeeded.  Then followed a struggle for dear life, the issue of which no one could have decided but for one circumstance.  York had the advantage in it from having an open, long-bladed jack-knife in his right hand when he commenced.  This, of course, he used in the best way he could, not stopping to ask whether it was fair or not.  Making a little extra exertion on the first good opportunity, he drew the blade across the bear's throat, and she relaxed her hold and soon bled to death.  The victory was his.
    One dark night Mr. Oliver Peabody, living in a log hut, was disturbed by his cattle in the hovel near by.  Supposing that one of them had broken from his fastening, and was goring the rest, he rose from his bed, and, with nothing on but his night-dress, ran towards the hovel to search out the cause of the trouble.  As he came to the entrance, which was merely a hole in its side, he espied some black creature standing just inside, and, thinking it one of his cattle, stepped forward a little, and struck it on the rump with a stick he had in his hand, crying, "Hurrup! hurrup there!"  The creature, deeming this rather a rough salutation, turned round, and, with the full force of his huge paw, gave him a heavy slap on the side.  By this time he began to imagine that he was in no very delicate, refined company, and must look out for himself.  The salutation he received from the creature was a little more unceremonious and rude than the one he first gave him.  He was fully aware, now, that sometimes a person must take blows as well as give them, and hard ones, too.  Certain it was, he had no disposition to repeat his stroke, or his cry of "Hurrup! hurrup!" and, perceiving that the bear was about to repeat the blow, he sounded a retreat, and made haste back to his hut.  Whether the bear kept his ground, and proceeded to annoy the cattle further, we were not informed.
   In the autumn of 1804, it required all the vigilance and courage of the inhabitants to preserve their cattle and hogs from the ferocious creatures.  The nuts and berries, their usual food, had failed them, and, driven on by hunger, the infuriated beasts would rush almost into the very houses of the settlers.  Young hogs were caught and carried off in sight of their owners, and within gunshot of their pens.  A huge, growling monster seized a good-sized hog in his paws, and ran off with it, standing on his hind legs, satisfying his hunger as he went. The red barn built for Col. Oliver Peabody
One dark night, Mr. Oliver Peabody, the same we have spoken of before, was disturbed by the loud squealing of his hogs.  As unsuspecting as before, he rushed out in his nightdress to the yard where they were kept, back of his barn.  Scarcely yet fully awake, he placed his hands upon the top rail, and stood peering into the darkness, shouting lustily to whatever might be disturbing his hogs.  So intent was he on driving away the intruder, that he was conscious of nothing until he felt the warm breath of a large bear breathing directly in his face.  The huge monster had left the hogs on his first approach, and, rearing herself on her hind legs, placed her paws on the same rail, near his hands, and stood ready for the new-year salutation of the Russians—a hug and a kiss.  Realizing fully his danger, he darted away for his house, the bear following close at his heels.  He had barely time to reach his door, and throw himself against it as a fastening, when Madam Bruin came rushing against it.  The frail thing trembled and squeaked on its wooden hinges, but his wife placed the wooden bar across it, and thus it withstood the shock.  Opening the door slightly, on the first opportunity, he let out his dog.  The dog, used to the business, seized the bear fiercely by the throat, as she sat on her haunches eyeing the door.  Not so easily driven off, however, she threw the mastiff with tremendous force against the house, and leaping a fence near at hand, sat coolly down.  The noble dog, as soon as he could recover from the stunning blow, again attacked her.  With still more force she threw him this time against the cabin, displacing some of its smaller timbers, near where some of the children were asleep in a truckle-bed.  Bounding away, she ran some eighty rods, to the house of one Stephen Messer, seized a large hog, and leaping a fence three feet high with it in her arms, ran thirty rods, and sat down to her feast.  Before Messrs. Peabody and Messer could reach her, she had finished her repast and walked slowly off into the woods.
    About the middle of June, 1850, one of the most tragical scenes transpired in this town that ever took place in any region.  Happily the principal actors in it were not natives of the town or region, but foreigners.  A contractor on the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad, which was then being constructed through the Androscoggin valley, after burying his wife in Bethel, went to board with a Mr. George W. Freeman, a blacksmith.  This man was in the employ of the contractor, helping him build a very expensive bridge over Wild River.  Mr. Freeman's family consisted of a wife and three children.  He had been somewhat remarkable as a kind and faithful husband and indulgent parent, and nothing had ever occurred to mar the peace of the family until the advent of the contractor into it.  Mrs. Freeman, young and beautiful, was very attractive in looks and address, but in all respects, heretofore, had shown herself an exemplary woman and devoted wife.  Freeman, unable to harbor the thought of anything wrong in his wife, for a long time passed by many things which caused him much uneasiness.  The particular attentions of the contractor to his wife he tried long and hard to construe as only the civilities due from a gentleman to a lady.  As each day the attentions became more marked, and the evident partiality of the two for each other's society became more manifest, the loathed suspicion worked itself gradually into the terrible conviction that his companion was yielding to the wiles of the seducer.  So bold had they become in their course, that scarcely a day passed but they rode out together, sometimes extending their rides to late hours in the night.  At last they went to Bethel, a distance of nine miles, to attend a ball, and did not return until near morning.  This fully roused Mr. Freeman from his heretofore almost stupid forbearance.  He undressed and put his children to bed, and then calmly awaited the return of the guilty pair.  Not in anger, but intensely in earnest, he expostulated with them, warning them of the consequences of their guilty course.  Passionately he besought his wife to remember their hitherto happy life, and spare himself and her babes the disgrace and loss of such a companion and a mother.  It was all, however, to no purpose.
Saturday, December 18, 1802 Paper: New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, NH) Volume: IV Issue: 196 Page: 3
Shortly after the ball at Bethel, Mrs. Freeman threw off all restraint, and asked her husband for a divorce.  Her affection, she said, for him was gone, and it was better for them to separate.  She could never again love him as she had, and to live with him in her present state of mind was unendurable.  She not only asked him for divorcement, but told him that, with or without it, she should certainly leave him.  That she was in earnest was clearly manifest.  She commenced her preparations for a journey, proceeding even so far as to pack some of her things.
    The contractor's office was in Freeman's house, and his clerk was almost constantly employed in it.  By chance Freeman overheard one day a conversation between his wife and the clerk.  She had come for advice, and imagining no opposition from the clerk, disclosed to him her plans.  Contrary to her expectations, the noble young man reprimanded her severely for her conduct, and warmly advised her for her good.  Freeman heard all, and it confirmed his worst suspicions.
    Previous to these active preparations of Mrs. Freeman for her departure, the contractor had left for New York.  Before leaving, it seems, it had been arranged between them that Mrs. Freeman should soon follow to meet at some place yet to be agreed upon.  Freeman learned these facts but too soon.  Not long after the contractor had left, a beautiful trunk, marked for Mrs. Freeman, was one day left at the door, when Mrs. Freeman chanced to be out.  With a shop-key Freeman opened the trunk in his shop, and there full evidence of the intentions of the pair was manifest.  Beautiful dresses and jewelry for herself and children were the contents, and under all a letter disclosing the plans.  She was to meet the contractor at Syracuse, N.Y.  There were minute directions as to the routes to travel, and particular caution to fasten the door of her bedchamber, at night, in the different hotels.  The day for her departure was named.  He concealed from his wife the trunk and letter, and she never probably knew of its arrival.
    The day for Mrs. Freeman's departure was already fixed, and the night preceding her leaving in the morning had arrived.  Calmly Freeman sat among his family during the evening, and on their retiring had embraced and kissed them according to his usual custom.  Long he lingered near his wife, but, at length, bidding her the last good-night, retired to his room.  They had not slept together for some time, a servant girl occupying the bed with his wife and young child.  Stillness had settled down upon the house, when suddenly a piercing shriek broke upon the night, startling every sleeper from his slumbers.  "I am murdered!  I am murdered!" was all that could be distinguished in the confusion which ensued.  Each hurried whence the voice proceeded, and there, in Mrs. Freeman's room, weltering in blood, lay the unhappy wife, shrieking in paroxysms of terror.  She rose up in bed, as they entered, the mutilated, bleeding arm hanging at her side.  Medical assistance was soon at hand, the wounded limb amputated and carefully dressed, but to no effect; from loss of blood the murdered woman died but a few hours after.  A few buckshot were taken from the head.  The shattered condition of the arm, and the broken window, made it evident in what manner the poor woman had been murdered.  Sleeping on her side, the murderer had aimed directly at her heart, but, missing, had discharged the whole contents of the gun into her arm.  He had accomplished, however, his purpose as well as though he had not missed his aim.
    The murdered wife was conscious who had murdered her.  Her husband was the only one of the large family who gathered not around her bedside at her fearful summons.  "It was my husband," were her words.  And the full weight of her great guilt bursting upon her too late, she could but groan and ejaculate, "O, my own dear husband!  And will he not come!  O, George, my husband, shall I not see him, to be forgiven!"  She died, not suspecting that her husband was dead, but that he avoided seeing her from grief.  Fully forgiving him, she died with his name upon her lips.
    But to turn from the sad spectacle of the wife to the still sadder sight of her husband.  Instant search was made for him as the murderer of his wife, and after long hours of hunting, about a mile from his house, he was found dead, lying in a pool of his own blood.  His throat was cut from ear to ear, his hand still grasping the fatal razor.  By him lay his gun and a piece of rope.  The gun, it seems, he had tried, but it had not done its work, merely bruising badly one cheek.
    A jury of inquest was holden on his body, and a verdict rendered according to facts.  On examination of his affairs, letters were found, written by his own hand, giving directions in regard to his children, and the disposition he wished to be made of his property when he was dead.  It is supposed, from some things in his case, especially one important incident, that until a late period in his life, he did not intend to kill his wife, but the contractor.
    He asked the clerk of the contractor, one day, [on] which side of the bed they held in common he, the contractor, slept? giving an occasion by this for an inference that he had some design upon him.  But the contractor leaving before the design could be executed, and determined, as he had declared, that the contractor should never enjoy his wife, he made up his mind to kill her, and did actually perform the dreadful deed we have rehearsed.  How strongly this whole affair impresses upon us the importance of watching against the first emotions of any great sin, and praying earnestly the prayer taught us by the Saviour, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil," we certainly need not say.  There being no minister in Gilead at this time, Rev. Mr. Leland, of Bethel, attended the funeral on the occasion.  He preached to a very large concourse of people on the text, "When lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
Peabody Tavern, Gilead, Maine, 1895; courtesy of Joanne Peabody Stewart

Saturday, February 8, 2014


This is from Daughters of the Puritans by Seth Curtis Beach

Miss Alcott has been called, perhaps truly, the most popular story-teller for children, in her generation. Like those elect souls whom the apostle saw arrayed in white robes, she came up through great tribulation, paying dearly in labor and privation for her successes, but one must pronounce her life happy and fortunate, since she lived to enjoy her fame and fortune twenty years, to witness the sale of a million volumes of her writings, to receive more than two hundred thousand dollars from her publishers, and thereby to accomplish the great purpose upon which as a girl she had set her heart, which was, to see her father and mother comfortable in their declining years. Little Womem

Successful as Miss Alcott was as a writer, she was greater as a woman, and the story of her life is as interesting,—as full of tragedy and comedy,—as the careers of her heroes and heroines. In fact, we have reason to believe that the adventures of her characters are often not so much invented as remembered, the pranks and frolics of her boys and girls being episodes from her own youthful experience. In the preface to "Little Women," the most charming of her books, she tells us herself that the most improbable incidents are the least imaginary. The happy girlhood which she portrays was her own, in spite of forbidding conditions. The struggle in which her cheerful nature extorted happiness from unwilling fortune, gives a dramatic interest to her youthful experiences, as her literary disappointments and successes do to the years of her maturity. Louisa about age 25 

Miss Alcott inherited a name which her father's genius had made known on both sides of the sea, before her own made it famous in a hundred thousand households. Alcott is a derivative from Alcocke, the name by which Mr. Alcott himself was known in his boyhood.  Below Parents Abby and Amos

John Alcocke, born in New Haven, Ct., married Mary Pierson, daughter of Rev. Abraham Pierson, first president of Yale College. He was a man of considerable fortune and left 1,200 acres of land to his six children, one of whom was Capt. John Alcocke, a man of some distinction in the colonial service. Joseph Chatfield Alcocke, son of Capt. John, married Anna Bronson, sister of Rev. Tillotson Bronson, D.D. Of this marriage, Amos Bronson Alcott, father of Louisa, was born, Nov. 29, 1799. The fortunes of Joseph Chatfield Alcocke were those of other small farmers of the period, but Mrs. Alcocke could not forget that she was the sister of a college graduate, and it was worth something to her son to know that he was descended from the president of a college. The mother and son early settled it that the boy should be a scholar, and the father loyally furthered their ambitions, borrowing of his acquaintances such books as he discovered and bringing them home for the delectation of his studious son. At the age of thirteen, Bronson became a pupil in a private school kept by his uncle, Dr. Bronson, and at eighteen, he set out for Virginia with the secret purpose of teaching if opportunity offered, at the same time taking along a peddler's trunk out of which to turn an honest penny and pay the expenses of his journey. Circumstances did not favor his becoming a Virginia teacher, but between his eighteenth and twenty-third years, he made several expeditions into the Southern States as a Yankee peddler, with rather negative financial results, but with much enlargement of his information and improvement of his rustic manners. Mr. Alcott was rather distinguished for his high-bred manners and, on a visit to England, there is an amusing incident of his having been mistaken for some member of the titled aristocracy. Concord School of Philosophy

At the age of twenty-five, Mr. Alcott began his career as a teacher in an Episcopal Academy at Cheshire, Ct. His family were Episcopalians, and he had been confirmed at sixteen. Since the age of eighteen when he started for Virginia as a candidate for a school, he had been theorizing upon the art of teaching and had thought out many of the principles of what, a century later, began to be called the "New Education." He undertook, perhaps too rapidly, to apply his theories in the conduct of the Cheshire Academy. His experiments occasioned a vast amount of controversy, in which Connecticut conservatism gained a victory, and Mr. Alcott retired from the school at the end of two years' service. His results however had been sufficient to convince him of the soundness of his principles, and to launch him upon the troubled career of educational reform.

Among a few intelligent friends and sympathizers who rallied to Mr. Alcott's side in this controversy, was (pic above) Rev. Samuel J. May, a Unitarian minister then of Brooklyn, Ct., at whose house, in 1827, Mr. Alcott met  Mr. May's sister Abbie, who shared fully her brother's enthusiasm for the new education and its persecuted apostle. Miss May began her relations with Mr. Alcott as his admirer and champion, a dangerous part for an enthusiastic young lady to play, as the sequel proved when, three years later, she became Mrs. Alcott.

Mrs. Alcott was the daughter of a Boston merchant, Col. Joseph May, and his wife, Dorothy Sewall, daughter of Samuel Sewall and his wife, Elizabeth Quincy, sister of (pic above)  Dorothy Quincy, wife of John Hancock. By the marriage of Joseph May and Dorothy Sewall, two very distinguished lines of ancestry had been united. Under her father's roof, Mrs. Alcott had enjoyed every comfort and the best of social advantages. She was tall, had a fine physique, good intellect, warm affections, and generous sympathies, but it would have astonished her to have been told that she was bringing to the marriage altar more than she received; and however much it may have cost her to be the wife of an unworldly idealist, it was precisely his unworldly idealism that first won her admiration and then gained her heart. Picture below Elizabeth Sewall Alcott

Life may have been harder for Mrs. Alcott than she anticipated, but she knew very well that she was abjuring riches. Two years before her marriage, her brother had written her: "Mr. Alcott's mind and heart are so much occupied with other things that poverty and riches do not seem to concern him much." She had known Mr. Alcott three years and had enjoyed ample opportunity to make this observation herself. Indeed, two months after her marriage, she wrote her brother, "My husband is the perfect personification of modesty and moderation. I am not sure that we shall not blush into obscurity and contemplate into starvation." That she had not repented of her choice a year later, may be judged from a letter to her brother on the first anniversary of her marriage: "It has been an eventful year,—a year of trial, of happiness, of improvement. I can wish no better fate to any sister of my sex than has attended me since my entrance into the conjugal state." That Mr. Alcott, then in his young manhood, had qualities which, for a young lady of refinement and culture, would compensate for many privations is evident. Whether he was one of the great men of his generation or not, there is no doubt he seemed so. When, in 1837, Dr. Bartol came to Boston, Mr. Emerson asked him whom he knew in the city, and said: "There is but one man, Mr. Alcott." Dr. Bartol seems to have come to much the same opinion. He says: "Alcott belonged to the Christ class: his manners were the most gentle and gracious, under all fair or unfair provocation, I ever beheld; he had a rare inborn piety and a god-like incapacity in the purity of his eyes to behold iniquity." These qualities were not visible to the public and have no commercial value, but that Mr. Alcott had them is confirmed by the beautiful domestic life of the Alcotts, by the unabated love and devotion of Mrs. Alcott to her husband in all trials, and the always high and always loyal appreciation with which Louisa speaks of her father, even when perhaps smiling at his innocent illusions. The character of Mr. Alcott is an important element in the life of Louisa because she was his daughter, and because, being unmarried, her life and fortunes were his, or those of the Alcott family. She had no individual existence. Below Elizabeth Peabody

Two years after the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Alcott, Louisa, their second daughter was born in Germantown, Pa., where Mr. Alcott was in charge of a school belonging to the Society of Friends, or Quakers. The date was November 29, 1832, also Mr. Alcott's birthday, always observed as a double festival in the family. In 1834, Mr. Alcott opened his celebrated school in Masonic Temple in Boston, Mass., under the auspices of Dr. Channing and with the assured patronage of some of the most cultivated and influential families in the city. As assistants in this school, he had first Miss Sophia Peabody afterward Mrs. Hawthorne, her sister Miss Elizabeth Peabody, and finally(pic below) Margaret Fuller.

The school opened prosperously and achieved remarkable success until, in 1837, the publication of Mr. Alcott's "Conversations on the Gospels" shocked the piety of Boston newspapers, whose persistent and virulent attacks frightened the public and caused the withdrawal of two-thirds of the pupils. Mr. Emerson came to Mr. Alcott's defence, saying: "He is making an experiment in which all the friends of education are interested," and asking, "whether it be wise or just to add to the anxieties of this enterprise a public clamor against some detached sentences of a book which, on the whole, is pervaded by original thought and sincere piety." In a private note, Mr. Emerson urged Mr. Alcott to give up his school, as the people of Boston were not worthy of him. Mr. Alcott had spent more than the income of the school in its equipment, creating debts which Louisa afterward paid; all his educational ideals were at stake, and he could not accept defeat easily.

However, in 1839, a colored girl was admitted to the school, and all his pupils were withdrawn, except the little negress and four whites, three of whom were his own daughters. So ended the Temple school. The event was very fateful for the Alcott family, but, much as it concerned Mrs. Alcott, there can be no doubt she much preferred that the school should end thus, than that Mr. Alcott should yield to public clamor on either of the issues which wrecked the enterprise. Orchard House

Louisa was seven years old when this misfortune occurred which shaped the rest of her life, fixing the straitened circumstances in which she was to pass her youth and preparing the burdens which ultimately were to be lifted by her facile pen. Happily the little Alcotts, of whom there were three, were too young to feel the perplexities that harassed their parents and their early years could hardly have been passed more pleasantly or profitably if they had been the daughters of millionaires. The family lived very comfortably amidst a fine circle of relatives and friends in Boston, preached and practised a vegetarian gospel,—rice without sugar and graham meal without butter or molasses,—monotonous but wholesome, spent their summers with friends at Scituate and, in town or country, partly owing to the principles of the new education, partly to the preoccupation of the parents, the children of the family were left in large measure to the teaching of nature and their own experience. Very abundant moral instruction there was in this apostolic family, both by example and precept, but the young disciples were expected to make their own application of the principles. The result, in the case of Louisa, was to develop a girl of very enterprising and adventurous character, who might have been mistaken for a boy from her sun-burned face, vigorous health, and abounding animal spirits. It was her pride to drive her hoop around the Common before breakfast and she tells us that she admitted to her social circle no girl who could not climb a tree and no boy whom she had not beaten in a race. Her autobiography of this period, she has given us, very thinly disguised, in "Poppy's Pranks."

Meanwhile, her mental faculties were not neglected. Mr. Alcott began the education of his children, in a kindergarten way, almost in their infancy, and before his Boston school closed, Louisa had two or three years in it as a pupil. What his method of education could do with a child of eight years is shown by a poem written by Louisa at that age. The family were then living in Concord, in the house which, in "Little Women," is celebrated as "Meg's first home." One early Spring day, Louisa found in the garden a robin, chilled and famished, and wrote these lines: "Welcome, welcome, little stranger, Fear no harm, and fear no danger; We are glad to see you here, For you sing, Sweet Spring is near.
Now the white snow melts away; Now the flowers blossom gay: Come, dear bird, and build your nest, For we love our robin best."
It will be remembered that this literary faculty, unusual at the age of eight, had been attained by a girl in the physical condition of an athlete, who could climb a tree like a squirrel.

Readers of "Little Women" will remember what a child's paradise "Meg's first home" was, with its garden full of fruit-trees and shade, and its old empty barn which the children alternately turned into a drawing-room for company, a gymnasium for romps, and a theatre for dramatic performances. "There," says Louisa, "we dramatized the fairy tales in great style," Jack the Giant-killer and Cinderella being favorites, the passion for the stage which came near making Louisa an actress, as also her sister Anna, getting early development. The fun and frolic of these days were the more enjoyed because they alternated with regular duties, with lessons in housework with the mother and language lessons with the father, for which he now had abundant leisure. As he had no other pupils, he could try all his educational experiments in his own family. Among other exercises, the children were required to keep a journal, to write in it regularly, and to submit it to the examination and criticism of the parents. Facility in writing thus became an early acquisition. It was furthered by a pretty habit which Mrs. Alcott had of keeping up a little correspondence with her children, writing little notes to them when she had anything to say in the way of reproof, correction, or instruction, receiving their confessions, repentance, and good resolutions by the next mail.

Some of these maternal letters are very tender and beautiful. One to Louisa at the age of eleven, enclosed a picture of a frail mother cared for by a faithful daughter, and says, "I have always liked it very much, for I imagined that you might be just such an industrious daughter and I such a feeble and loving mother, looking to your labor for my daily bread." There was prophecy in this and there was more prophecy in the lines with which Louisa replied:

"I hope that soon, dear mother, You and I may be In the quiet room my fancy Has so often made for thee,—
The pleasant, sunny chamber, The cushioned easy-chair, The book laid for your reading, The vase of flowers fair;
The desk beside the window When the sun shines warm and bright, And there in ease and quiet, The promised book you write.
While I sit close beside you, Content at last to see That you can rest, dear mother, And I can cherish thee."
The versification is still juvenile, but there is no fault in the sentiment, and Miss Alcott, in a later note, says, "The dream came true, and for the last ten years of her life, Marmee sat in peace with every wish granted." Evidently Louisa had begun to feel the pinch of the family circumstances. The income was of the slenderest. Sometimes Mr. Alcott gave a lecture or "conversation" and received a few dollars; sometimes he did a day's farm work for a neighbor; now and then Mr. Emerson called and clandestinely left a bank note, and many valuable packages came out from relatives in Boston; but frugal housekeeping was the chief asset of the family. Discouraging as the outlook was, some bitter experience might have been escaped if the Alcotts had remained in Concord, pursuing their unambitious career. It was, however, the era of social experiments in New England. The famous Brook Farm community was then in the third year of its existence, and it was impossible that Mr. Alcott should not sympathize with this effort to ease the burden of life, and wish to try his own experiment. Therefore, in 1843, being joined by several English socialists, one of whom financed the undertaking, Mr. Alcott started a small community on a worn-out not to say abandoned farm, which was hopefully christened "Fruitlands."

Visiting the community five or six weeks after its inception, Mr. Emerson wrote: "The sun and the evening sky do not look calmer than Alcott and his family at Fruitlands. They seem to have arrived at the fact,—to have got rid of the show, and so to be serene. They look well in July; we will see them in December." An inhospitable December came upon the promising experiment, as it generally has upon all similar enterprises. Under the title Transcendental Wild Oats, in "Silver Pitchers," Miss Alcott gives a lively account of the varying humors of this disastrous adventure.

Whatever disappointments and privations the enterprise had in store for their parents, the situation, with its little daily bustle, its limitless range of fields and woods, its flower hunting and berry picking, was full of interest and charm for four healthy children all under the age of twelve years. The fateful December, to which Mr. Emerson postponed his judgment, had not come before the elders were debating a dissolution of the community. "Father asked us if we saw any reason for us to separate," writes Louisa in her journal. "Mother wanted to, she is so tired. I like it." Of course she did; but "not the school part," she adds, "nor Mr. L.", who was one of her teachers. The inevitable lessons interfered with her proper business.
"Fruitlands" continued for three years with declining fortunes, its lack of promise being perhaps a benefit to the family in saving for other purposes a small legacy which Mrs. Alcott received from her father's estate. With this and a loan of $500 from Mr. Emerson, she bought "The Hillside" in Concord, an estate which, after the Alcotts, was occupied by Mr. Hawthorne. Thither Mrs. Alcott removed with her family in 1846, and the two years that followed is the period which Louisa looked back upon as the happiest of her life, "for we had," she says, "charming playmates in the little Emersons, Channings, Hawthornes, and Goodwins, with the illustrious parents and their friends to enjoy our pranks and share our excursions." Here the happy girlish life was passed which is so charmingly depicted in "Little Women," and here at the age of sixteen, Louisa wrote, for the entertainment of the little Alcotts and Emersons, a series of pretty fairy tales, still to be read in the second volume of Lulu's Library. Much as there was to enjoy in these surroundings, the problem of subsistence had not been solved and, with the growth of her daughters toward womanhood, it became more difficult for Mrs. Alcott. The world had, apparently, no use for Mr. Alcott; there were six persons to be fed and clothed, and no bread-winner in the family. The story is that one day, a friend found her in tears and demanded an explanation. "Abby Alcott, what does this mean?" asked the visitor, and when Mrs. Alcott had made her confessions, her friend said, "Come to Boston and I will find you employment." Accepting the proposition, the family removed to Boston in 1848, and Mrs. Alcott became the agent of certain benevolent societies. Mr. Alcott taught private classes, or held "conversations"; the older daughters, Anna and Louisa, found employment; and we may think of the family as fairly comfortable during the seven or eight years of its life in Boston. "Our poor little home," says Miss Alcott, "had much love and happiness in it, and was a shelter for lost girls, abused wives, friendless children, and weak and wicked men. Father and mother had no money to give but they gave time, sympathy, help; and if blessings would make them rich, they would be millionaires." Fugitive slaves were among the homeless who found shelter, one of whom Mrs. Alcott concealed in an unused brick oven. In Miss Alcott's journal of this period, we find the burden of existence weighing very heavily upon her, a state of mind apparently induced by her first experience in teaching. "School is hard work," she says, "and I feel as though I should like to run away from it. But my children get on; so I travel up every day and do my best. I get very little time to write or think, for my working days have begun." Later, she seems to have seen the value of this experience. "At sixteen," she writes, "I began to teach twenty pupils and, for ten years, I learned to know and love children."

Amateur theatricals were still the recreation of the Alcott girls, as they had been almost from infancy, and the stage presented a fascinating alternative to the school-room. "Anna wants to be an actress and so do I," writes Louisa at seventeen. "We could make plenty of money perhaps, and it is a very gay life. Mother says we are too young and must wait. Anna acts splendidly. I like tragic plays and shall be a Siddons if I can. We get up harps, dresses, water-falls, and thunder, and have great fun." Both of the sisters wrote many exciting dramas at this period, and one of Louisa's, "The Rival Prima Donnas," was accepted by the manager of the Boston Theatre, who "thought it would have a fine run" and sent the author a free pass to the theatre, which partly compensated for the non-appearance of the play. Some years later, a farce written by Louisa, "Nat Bachelor's Pleasure Trip, or the Trials of a Good-Natured Man," was produced at the Howard Athenæum, and was favorably received. Christie's experience as an actress, in Miss Alcott's novel entitled, "Work," is imaginary in its incidents, but autobiographical in its spirit.

All these experiments in dramatic literature, from Jack the Giant-Killer on, were training the future story-teller. Miss Alcott's first story to see the light was printed in a newspaper at the age of twenty, in 1852, though it had been written at sixteen. She received $5.00 for it, and the event is interesting as the beginning of her fortune. This little encouragement came at a period of considerable trial for the family. The following is from her journal of 1853: "In January, I started a little school of about a dozen in our parlor. In May, my school closed and I went to L. as second girl. I needed the change, could do the wash, and was glad to earn my $2.00 a week." Notice that this is her summer vacation. "Home in October with $34.00 for my wages. After two days' rest, began school again with ten children." The family distributed themselves as follows: "Anna went to Syracuse to teach; father to the west to try his luck,—so poor, so hopeful, so serene. God be with him. Mother had several boarders. School for me, month after month. I earned a good deal by sewing in the evening when my day's work was done."

Mr. Alcott returned from the west, and the account of his adventures is very touching: "In February father came home. Paid his way, but no more. A dramatic scene when he arrived in the night. We were awakened by the bell. Mother flew down crying, My Husband. We rushed after and five white figures embraced the half-frozen wanderer who came in, hungry, tired, cold, and disappointed, but smiling bravely and as serene as ever. We fed and warmed and brooded over him, longing to ask if he had made any money; but no one did till little May said, after he had told us all the pleasant things, 'Well, did people pay you?' Then with a queer look he opened his pocket book, and showed one dollar, saying with a smile, 'Only that. My overcoat was stolen, and I had to buy a shawl. Many promises were not kept, and traveling is costly; but I have opened the way, and another year shall do better.' I shall never forget how beautifully mother answered him, though the dear, hopeful soul had built much on his success: but with a beaming face she kissed him, saying, 'I call that doing very well. Since you are safely home, dear, we don't ask anything else.'" One of Miss Alcott's unfulfilled purposes was to write a story entitled "The Pathetic Family." This passage would have found a place in it. It deserves to be said that Mr. Alcott's faith that he had "opened a way and another year should do better," was justified. Fifteen years later, from one of his western tours, he brought home $700, but, thanks to Louisa's pen, the family were no longer in such desperate need of money.

More than once Miss Alcott declares that no one ever assisted her in her struggles, but that was far from true, as appears from many favors acknowledged in her journal. It was by the kindness of a lady who bought the manuscripts and assumed the risk of publication, that her first book, "Flower Fables," was brought out in 1854. It consisted of the fairy tales written six years before for the little Emersons. She received $32.00, a sum which would have seemed insignificant thirty years later when, in 1886, the sale of her books for six months brought her $8,000; but she says, "I was prouder over the $32.00 than over the $8,000." The picture of Jo in a garret in "Little Women," planning and writing stories, is drawn from Louisa's experiences of the following winter. A frequent entry in her journal for this period is "$5.00 for a story" and her winter's earnings are summed up, "school, one quarter, $50, sewing $50, stories, $20." In December we read, "Got five dollars for a tale and twelve for sewing." Teaching, writing, and sewing alternate in her life for the next five years, and, for a year or two yet, the needle is mightier than the pen; but in 1856, she began to be paid $10 for a story, and, in 1859, the Atlantic accepted a story and paid her $50.
A friend for whose encouragement during these hard years, she acknowledges great indebtedness and who appears as one of the characters in her story, entitled "Work," was Rev. Theodore Parker, a man as helpful, loving, and gentle as she depicts him, but then much hated by those called orthodox and hardly in good standing among his Unitarian brethren. Miss Alcott, then as ever, had the courage of her convictions, was a member of his Music Hall congregation, and a regular attendant at his Sunday evening receptions, finding him "very friendly to the large, bashful girl who adorns his parlor regularly." She "fought for him," she says, when some one said Mr. Parker "was not a Christian. He is my sort; for though he may lack reverence for other people's God, he works bravely for his own, and turns his back on no one who needs help, as some of the pious do." After Mr. Parker's death, Miss Alcott, when in Boston, attended the church of Dr. C. A. Bartol, who buried her mother, her father and herself.

In 1857, the Alcotts returned to Concord, buying and occupying the Orchard House, which thenceforth became their home. Other family events of the period were, the death of Miss Alcott's sister Elizabeth, Beth in "Little Women," the marriage of Anna, Meg in "Little Women," and a proposal of marriage to Louisa, serious enough for her to hold a consultation over it with her mother. Miss Alcott is said to have been averse to entangling alliances for herself, to have married off the heroines in her novels reluctantly at the demand of her readers, and never to have enjoyed writing the necessary love-passages. The year 1860, when Miss Alcott is twenty-seven, has the distinction of being marked in the heading of her journal as "A Year of Good Luck." Her family had attained a comfortable, settled home in Concord; Mr. Alcott had been appointed superintendent of public schools, an office for which he was peculiarly well qualified and in which he was both happy and admirably successful; Anna, the eldest sister, was happily married; May, the youngest, was making a reputation as an artist; and Louisa, in perfect health, having in May before, "walked to Boston, twenty miles, in five hours, and attended an evening party," was becoming a regular contributor to the Atlantic, and receiving $50, $75, and sometimes $100 for her stories. In these happy conditions, Miss Alcott sat down to a more ambitious attempt at authorship and wrote the first rough draft of "Moods," a "problem novel" that provoked much discussion and, though it caused her more trouble than any other of her books, was always dearest to her heart. It was written in a kind of frenzy of poetic enthusiasm. "Genius burned so fiercely," she says, "that for four weeks, I wrote all day and planned nearly all night, being quite possessed by my work. I was perfectly happy, and seemed to have no wants. Finished the book, or a rough draft of it, and put it away to settle." It was not published till four years later. Even in this year of good luck, there seem to have been some privations, as she records being invited to attend a John Brown meeting and declining because she "had no good gown." She sends a poem instead. The breaking out of the Civil War stirred Miss Alcott's soul to its depths, and we have numerous references to its progress in her journal. "I like the stir in the air," she writes, "and long for battle like a war-horse when he smells powder." Not being permitted to enlist as a soldier, she went into a hospital in Washington as a nurse. Her experiences are graphically and dramatically told in "Hospital Sketches." That book, chiefly made from her private letters, met the demand of the public, eager for any information about the great war; it was widely read and, besides putting $200 in her purse, gave her a reputation with readers and publishers.

Many applications for manuscript came in and she was told that "any publisher this side of Baltimore would be glad to get a book" from her. "There is a sudden hoist," she says, "for a meek and lowly scribbler. Fifteen years of hard grubbing may come to something yet." Her receipts for the year 1863, amounted to $600 and she takes comfort in saying that she had spent less than one hundred on herself. The following year, after having been twice re-written, "Moods" was brought out and, thanks to the "Hospital Sketches," had a ready sale. Wherever she went, she says, she "found people laughing or crying over it, and was continually told how well it was going, how much it was liked, how fine a thing I had done." The first edition was exhausted in a week. An entire edition was ordered by London publishers. She was very well satisfied with the reception of "Moods" at the time, though in after years when fifty thousand copies of a book would be printed as a first edition, the sale of "Moods" seemed to her inconsiderable. The present day reader wonders neither at the eagerness of the public for the book, nor at the criticisms that were freely made upon it. It is interesting from cover to cover and as a study of "a life affected by moods, not a discussion of marriage," it is effective. In spite, however, of the warning of the author, everyone read it as "a discussion of marriage," and few were satisfied. The interest centres in the fortunes of a girl who has married the wrong lover, the man to whom, by preference, she would have given her heart being supposed to be dead. Would that he had been, for then, to all appearance, she would have been contented and happy. Unfortunately he returns a year too late, finds the girl married and, though endowed with every virtue which a novelist can bestow upon her hero, he does not know enough to leave the poor woman in peace. On the contrary, he settles down to a deliberate siege to find out how she feels, wrings from her the confession that she is miserable, as by that time no doubt she was, and then convinces her that since she does not love her husband, it is altogether wrong to live under the same roof with him. Surely this was nobly done. Poor Sylvia loves this villain, Miss Alcott evidently loves him, but the bloody-minded reader would like to thrust a knife into him. However, he is not a name or a type, but a real man, or one could not get so angry with him. All the characters live and breathe in these pages, and no criticism was less to the purpose than that the situations were unnatural. Miss Alcott says "The relations of Warwick, Moor, and Sylvia are pronounced impossible; yet a case of the sort exists, and a woman came and asked me how I knew it. I did not know or guess, but perhaps felt it, without any other guide, and unconsciously put the thing into my book." Everyone will agree that Miss Alcott had earned a vacation, and it came in 1865, in a trip to Europe, where she spent a year, from July to July, as the companion of an invalid lady, going abroad for health. The necessity of modulating her pace to the movements of a nervous invalid involved some discomforts for a person of Miss Alcott's pedestrian abilities, but who would not accept some discomforts for a year of European travel? She had a reading knowledge of German and French, and in the abundant leisure which the long rests of her invalid friend forced upon her, she learned to speak French with facility.

On her return from Europe, she found her circumstances much improved. She had established her position as a regular contributer to the Atlantic whose editor, she says, "takes all I'll send." In 1868, she was offered and accepted the editorship of Merry's Museum at a salary of $500, and, more important, she was asked by Roberts Brothers to "write a girl's book." Her response to this proposition was "Little Women," which she calls "the first golden egg of the ugly duckling, for the copyright made her fortune." Two editions were exhausted in six weeks and the book was translated into French, German and Dutch. "Little Men" was written, a chapter a day, in November of the same year, and "An Old-fashioned Girl," a popular favorite, the year following. "Hospital Sketches" had not yet outlived its welcome, was republished, with some additions, in 1869, and two thousand copies were sold the first week. She is able to say, "Paid up all debts, thank the Lord, every penny that money can pay,—and now I feel as if I could die in peace." Besides, she has invested "$1,200 for a rainy day," and is annoyed because "people come and stare at the Alcotts. Reporters haunt the place to look at the authoress, who dodges into the woods."

The severe application which her achievement had cost had impaired Miss Alcott's fine constitution and, in 1870, taking May, her artist sister, she made a second trip to Europe, spending the summer in France and Switzerland and the winter in Rome. A charming account of the adventures of this expedition is given in "Shawl-Straps." A pleasant incident of the journey was the receipt of a statement from her publisher giving her credit for $6,212, and she is able to say that she has "$10,000 well invested and more coming in all the time," and that she thinks "we may venture to enjoy ourselves, after the hard times we have had." In 1872, she published "Work: a story of Experience," and it is for the most part, a story of her own experience. "Christie's adventures," she says, "are many of them my own: Mr. Power is Mr. Parker: Mrs. Wilkins is imaginary, and all the rest. This was begun at eighteen, and never finished till H. W. Beecher wrote me for a serial for the Christian Union and paid $3,000 for it." It is one of the most deservedly popular of her books.

In 1877, for Roberts Brothers' "No Name Series," Miss Alcott wrote "A Modern Mephistopheles," her least agreeable book, but original, imaginative, and powerful. The moral of the story is that, in our modern life, the devil does not appear with a cloven foot, but as a cultivated man of the world. Miss Alcott's Mephistopheles is even capable of generous impulses. With the kindness of a Good Samaritan, he saves a poor wretch from suicide and then destroys him morally. The devil is apparently a mixed character with a decided preponderance of sinfulness. Miss Alcott had now reached her forty-fifth year, had placed her family in independent circumstances, thus achieving her early ambition, and the effort began to tell upon her health. A succession of rapid changes soon came upon her. Mrs. Alcott, having attained her seventy-seventh year, was very comfortable for her age. "Mother is cosy with her sewing, letters, and the success of her 'girls,'" writes Miss Alcott in January; but in June, "Marmee grows more and more feeble," and in November the end came. "She fell asleep in my arms," writes Louisa; "My duty is done, and now I shall be glad to follow her."

May, the talented artist sister, whom Louisa had educated, had once taken to Europe and twice sent abroad for study, was married in London in 1878, to a Swiss gentleman of good family and some fortune, Mr. Nieriker. The marriage was a very happy one but the joy of the young wife was brief. She died the year following, leaving an infant daughter as a legacy to Louisa. Mr. Emerson's death in 1882, was, to her, much like taking a member of her own family: "The nearest and dearest friend father ever had and the man who helped me most by his life, his books, his society. I can never tell all he has been to me,—from the time I sang Mignon's song under his window (a little girl) and wrote letters a la Bettine to him, my Goethe, at fifteen, up through my hard years, when his essays on Self-Reliance, Character, Compensation, Love, and Friendship helped me to understand myself and life, and God and Nature."
Mr. Alcott is still with her, vigorous for his years. In 1879, at the age of eighty, he inaugurated the Concord School of Philosophy, "with thirty students. Father the dean. He has his dream realized at last, and is in glory, with plenty of talk to swim in." The school was, for Miss Alcott, an expensive toy with which she was glad to be able to indulge her father. Personally she cared little for it. On one of her rare visits to it, she was asked her definition of a philosopher, and responded instantly: "My definition is of a man up in a balloon, with his family and friends holding the ropes which confine him to earth and trying to haul him down." For her father's sake, she rejoiced in the success of the enterprise. Of the second season, she writes, "The new craze flourishes. The first year, Concord people stood aloof; now the school is pronounced a success, because it brings money to the town. Father asked why we never went, and Anna showed him a long list of four hundred names of callers, and he said no more." In addition to the labors which the school laid upon Mr. Alcott, he prepared for the press a volume of sonnets, some of which are excellent, especially one to Louisa: "Ne'er from thyself by Fame's loud trump beguiled, Sounding in this and the farther hemisphere,— I press thee to my heart as Duty's faithful child." Mr. Alcott seemed to be renewing his youth but, in November, he was prostrated by paralysis. "Forty sonnets last winter," writes Louisa, "and fifty lectures at the school last summer, were too much for a man of eighty-three." He recovered sufficiently to enjoy his friends and his books and lingered six years, every want supplied by his devoted daughter.

With Miss Alcott the years go on at a slower pace, the writing of books alternating with sleepless nights and attacks of vertigo. "Jo's Boys" was written in 1884, fifty thousand copies being printed for the first edition. In 1886, her physician forbids her beginning anything that will need much thought. Life was closing in upon her, and she did not wish to live if she could not be of use. In March, 1888, Mr. Alcott failed rapidly, and died on the sixth of the month. Miss Alcott visited him and, in the excitement of leave-taking, neglected to wrap herself properly, took a fatal cold, and two days after, on the day of his burial, she followed him, in the fifty-sixth year of her age. Dr. C. A. Bartol, (pic above) who had just buried her father, said tenderly at her funeral: "The two were so wont to be together, God saw they could not well live apart." If Miss Alcott, by the pressure of circumstances, had not been a writer of children's books, she might have been a poet, and would, from choice, have been a philanthropist and reformer. Having worked her own way with much difficulty, it was impossible that she should not be interested in lightening the burdens which lay upon women, in the race of life, and though never a prominent worker in the cause, she was a zealous believer in the right of women to the ballot. She attended the Woman's Congress in Syracuse, in 1875, "drove about and drummed up women to my suffrage meeting" in Concord, she says, in 1879, and writes in a letter of 1881, "I for one don't want to be ranked among idiots, felons, and minors any longer, for I am none of them."

To say that she might have been a poet does her scant justice. She wrote two or three fine lyrics which would justify giving her a high place among the verse-writers of her generation. "Thoreau's Flute," printed in the Atlantic, has been called the most perfect of her poems, with a possible exception of a tender tribute to her mother. Personally, I consider the lines in memory of her mother one of the finest elegiac poems within my knowledge: "Mysterious death: who in a single hour Life's gold can so refine, And by thy art divine, Change mortal weakness to immortal power."

There are twelve stanzas of equal strength and beauty. The closing lines of this fine eulogy we may apply to Miss Alcott, for both lives have the same lesson:
"Teaching us how to seek the highest goal, To earn the true success,— To live, to love, to bless,— And make death proud to take a royal soul."
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