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I wear 'em, then ? Indeed, Mr. Caudle, I shall wear 'em. No, sir; I'm not going out a dowdy to please you or any body else. Gracious knows ! it is n't often I step over the threshold; indeed, I might as well be a slave at once; better, I should say; but when I do go out, Mr. Caudle, I choose to go as a lady. Oh! that rain! if it is n't enough to break in the windows. Ugh! I look forward with dread for tomorrow! How I am to go to mother's, I'm sure I can't tell, but if I die, I'll do it. No, sir ; I'll not borrow an umbrella : no, and you sha'n't buy one. Mr. Caudle, if you bring home another umbrella, I'll throw it into the street.
6. Ha! it was only last week I had a new nozzle put on that umbrella. I'm sure if I'd known as much as I do now, it might have gone without one. Paying for new nozzles for other people to laugh at you! Oh!’t is all very well for you. You've no thought of your poor, patient wife, and your own dear children; you think of nothing but lending umbrellas. Men, indeed! call themselves lords of creation ! pretty lords, when they can't even take care of an umbrella!
7. I know that walk to-morrow will be the death of me, but that's what you want : then you may go to your club, and do as you like; and then, nicely my poor, dear children will be used; but then, sir, then you'll be happy. Oh! don't tell me! I know you will: else you 'd never have lent the umbrella! You have to go on Thursday about that summons; and, of course you can't go. No, indeed, you do n't go without the umbrella. You may lose the debt for what I care; 't is not so bad as spoiling your clothes; better lose it; people deserve to lose debts who lend umbrellas.
8. And I should like to know how I'm to go to mother's without the umbrella. Oh! do n't tell me that I said I would go; that's nothing to do with it; nothing at all. She'll think I'm neglecting her; and the little money we're to have, we sha'n't have at all; because we've no umbrella. The children too! (dear things) they'll be sopping wet; for they sha'n't stay at home; they sha'n't lose their learning; 't is all their father will leave them, I'm sure. But they shall go to school. Do n't tell me I said they should n't (you are so aggravating, Caudle, you'd spoil the temper of an angel); they shall go to school; mark that; and if they get their deaths of cold, 't is not my fault; I did n't lend the umbrella.
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES. 1. Spring has come. You will find some verses to that effect at the end of these notes. If you are an impatient reader, skip to them at once. In reading aloud, omit, if you please, the sixth and seventh verses. These are parenthetical and digressive, and, unless your audience is of superior intelligence, will confuse them. Many people can ride on horseback who find it hard to get on and to get off without assistance. One has to dismount from an idea, and get into the saddle again, at every parenthesis.
2. The old gentleman who sits opposite, finding that spring had fairly come, mounted a white hat one day, and walked into the street. It seems to have been a premature or otherwise exceptionable exhibition. When the old gentleman came home, he looked very red in the face, and complained that he had been "made sport of.” By sympathizing questions, I learned from him that a boy had called him “old daddy," and asked him when he had his hat whitewashed.
. 3. This incident led me to make some observations at table the next morning, which I here repeat for the benefit of the readers of this record. The hat is the vulnerable point in the artificial integument. I learned this in early boyhood. I was once equipped in a hat of Leghorn straw, having a brim of much wider dimensions than were usual at that time, and sent to school in that portion of my native town which lies nearest to this metropolis. On my way I was met by a “ Port-chuck," as we used to call the young gentlemen of that locality, and the following dialogue ensued :
THE PORT CHUCK.-Hullo, you-sir, joo know th' wuz gon-to be a race to-morrah?
MYSELF.— No. Who's gon-to run, 'n' wher’s't gon-to be?
THE PORT CHUCK.-Squire Mico 'n' Doctor Williams, round the brim o' your hat.
These two much-respected gentlemen being the oldest inhabitants at that time, and the alleged race-course being out of the question, the Port-chuck also winking and thrusting his tongue into his cheek, I perceived that I had been trifled with, and the effect has been to make me sensitive and observant respecting this article of dress ever since. Here is an axiom or two relating to it.
5. A hat which has been popped, or exploded by being sat down upon, is never itself again afterwards.
It is a favorite illusion of sanguine natures to believe the contrary.
Shabby gentility has nothing so characteristic as its hat. There is always an unnatural calmness about its nap, and an unwholesome gloss, suggestive of a wet brush. The last effort of decayed fortune is expended in smoothing its dilapidated castor. The hat is the ultimum moriens of “ respectability.”
The old gentleman took all these remarks and maxims very pleasantly, saying, however, that he had forgotten most of his French except the word for potatoes,-pummies de ture. l'ltimum moriens, I told him, is old Italian, and signifies last thing to die. With this explanation he was well contented, and looked quite calm when I saw him afterwards in the entry with a black hat on his head and the white one in his hand.
C. -OLD AGE.
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES. 1. “ Stand in the light of the window, professor,” said I, The professor took up the desired position. “You have white hairs,” I said. “Had 'em any time these twenty years," said the professor. “And the crow's foot, -pes anserinus, rather.” The professor smiled, as I wanted him to, and the folds radiated like the ridges of a half-opened fan, from the outer corner of the eyes to the temples. “And the calipers,” said I. "What are the calipers ?” he asked curiously. “Why, the parenthesis," said I. “ Parenthesis 2” said the professor, “what's that ?” “Why, look in the glass when you are disposed to laugh, and see if your mouth isn't framed in a couple of crescent lines, —so, my boy ( ).” “It's all nonsense,” said the professor; “just look at my biceps ;" — and he began pulling off his coat to show me his arm. “Be careful,” said I; “you can't bear exposure to the air, at your time of life, as you could once." "I will box with you," said the professor, “row with you, ride with you, swim with you, or sit at table with you, for fifty dollars a side.” “ Pluck survives stamina," I answered.
2. The professor went off, a little out of humor. A few wecks afterwards he came in, looking very good-natured, and brought me a paper, which I have here, and from which I shall read you some portions, if you don't object. He had
been thinking the matter over, he said, —had read Cicero “ De Senectute," and made up his mind to meet old age half way. These were some of his reflections that he had written down; so here you have
THE PROFESSOR'S PAPER. 3. There is no doubt when old age begins. The human body is a furnace which keeps in blast three-score years and ten, more or less. It burns about three hundred pounds of carbon a year (besides other fuel), when in fair working order, according to a great chemist's estimate. When the fire slackens, life declines; when it goes out, we are dead.
4. It has been shown by some noted French experimenters, that the amount of combustion increases up to about the thirtieth year, remains stationary to about forty-five, and then diminishes. This last is the point where old age starts from. The great fact of physical life is the perpetual commerce with the elements, and the fire is the measure of it.
5. About this time of life, if food is plenty where you live —for that, you know, regulates matrimony,- you may be expecting to find yourself a grandfather some fine morning; a kind of domestic felicity that gives one a cool shiver of delight to think of, as among the not remotely possible events.
6. I do n't mind much those slipshod lines Dr. Johnson wrote to Thrale, telling her about life's declining from thirty
five; the furnace is in full blast for ten years longer, as I have said. The Romans came very near the mark; their age of enlistment reached from seventeen to forty-six years.
7. What is the use of fighting against the seasons, or the tides, or the movements of the planetary bodies, or this ebb in the wave of life that flows through us? We are old fellows from the moment the fire begins to go out. Let us always behave like gentlemen when we are introduced to new acquaintances.