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{Transcriber's note:

The author's spelling and hyphenation are inconsistent, and have not been
changed except in the case of obvious typographical errors, which are
listed at the end of this e-text. Spellings and accents in foreign
languages are particularly eccentric.}




RECORDS OF LATER LIFE

BY

FRANCES ANN KEMBLE




NEW YORK
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
1882.




COPYRIGHT, 1882,
BY
HENRY HOLT & CO.




RECORDS OF LATER LIFE.


PHILADELPHIA, October 26th, 1834.
DEAREST MRS. JAMESON,

However stoutly your incredulity may have held out hitherto against the
various "authentic" reports of my marriage, I beg you will, upon receipt
of this, immediately believe that I was married on the 7th of June last,
and have now been a wife nearly five mortal months. You know that in
leaving the stage I left nothing that I regretted; but the utter
separation from my family consequent upon settling in this country, is a
serious source of pain to me....

With regard to what you say, about the first year of one's marriage not
being as happy as the second, I know not how that may be. I had pictured
to myself no fairyland of enchantments within the mysterious precincts
of matrimony; I expected from it rest, quiet, leisure to study, to
think, and to work, and legitimate channels for the affections of my
nature....

In the closest and dearest friendship, shades of character, and the
precise depth and power of the various qualities of mind and heart,
never approximate to such a degree, as to preclude all possibility of
occasional misunderstandings.

"Not e'en the nearest heart, and most our own,
Knows half the reasons why we smile or sigh."

It is impossible that it should be otherwise: for no two human beings
were ever fashioned absolutely alike, even in their gross outward bodily
form and lineaments, and how should the fine and infinite spirit admit
of such similarity with another? But the broad and firm principles upon
which all honorable and enduring sympathy is founded, the love of truth,
the reverence for right, the abhorrence of all that is base and
unworthy, admit of no difference or misunderstanding; and where these
exist in the relations of two people united for life, it seems to me
that love and happiness, as perfect as this imperfect existence affords,
may be realized....

Of course, kindred, if not absolutely similar, minds, do exist; but they
do not often meet, I think, and hardly ever unite. Indeed, though the
enjoyment of intercourse with those who resemble us may be very great, I
suppose the influence of those who differ from us is more wholesome; for
in mere _unison_ of thought and feeling there could be no exercise for
forbearance, toleration, self-examination by comparison with another
nature, or the sifting of one's own opinions and feelings, and testing
their accuracy and value, by contact and contrast with opposite feelings
and opinions. A fellowship of mere accord, approaching to identity in
the nature of its members, would lose much of the uses of human
intercourse and its worth in the discipline of life, and, moreover,
render the separation of death intolerable. But I am writing you a
disquisition, and no one needs it less....

I did read your praise of me, and thank you for it; it is such praise as
I wish I deserved, and the sense of the affection which dictated it, in
some measure, diminished my painful consciousness of demerit. But I
thank you for so pleasantly making me feel the excellence of moral
worth, and though the picture you held up to me as mine made me blush
for the poor original, yet I may strive to become more like your
likeness of me, and so turn your praise to profit. Those who love me
will read it perhaps with more satisfaction than my conscience allows me
to find in it, and for the pleasure which they must derive from such
commendation of me I thank you with all my heart.

What can I tell you of myself? My life, and all its occupations, are of
a sober neutral tint. I am busy preparing my Journal for the press. I
read but little, and that of old-fashioned kinds. I have never read
much, and am disgracefully ignorant: I am looking forward with delight
to hours of quiet study, and the mental hoards in store for me. I am
busy preparing to leave town; I am at present, and have been ever since
my marriage, staying in the house of my brother-in-law, and feel not a
little anxious to be in a home of my own. But painters, and carpenters,
and upholsterers are dirty divinities of a lower order, not to be moved,
or hastened, by human invocations (or even imprecations), and we must
e'en bide their time.

I please myself much in the fancying of furniture, and fitting up of the
house; and I look forward to a garden, green-house, and dairy, among my
future interests, to each of which I intend to addict myself zealously.

My pets are a horse, a bird, and a black squirrel, and I do not see
exactly what more a reasonable woman could desire. Human companionship,
indeed, at present, I have not much of; but as like will to like, I do
not despair of attracting towards me, by-and-by, some of my own kind,
with whom I may enjoy pleasant intercourse; but you can form no
idea--none--none--of the intellectual dearth and drought in which I am
existing at present.

I care nothing for politics here, ... though I wish this great Republic
well. But what are the rulers and guides of the people doing in England?
I see the abolition of the Peerage has been suggested, but, I presume,
as a bad joke.... If I were a man in England, I should like to devote my
life to the cause of national progress, carried on through party
politics and public legislation; and if I was not a Christian, I think,
every now and then, I should like to shoot Brougham.... You speak of
coming to this country: but I do not think you would like it; though you
are much respected, admired, and loved here.

I have not met Miss Martineau yet, but I am afraid she is not likely to
like me much. I admire her genius greatly, but have an inveterate
tendency to worship at all the crumbling shrines, which she and her
employers seem intent upon pulling down; and I think I should be an
object of much superior contempt to that enlightened and clever female
Radical and Utilitarian.

I was introduced to Mrs. Austin some years ago, and she impressed me
more, in many ways, than any of the remarkable women I have known. Her
husband's constant ill-health kept her in a state of comparative
seclusion, and deprived London society of a person of uncommon original
mental power and acquired knowledge; in most respects I thought her
superior to the most brilliant female members of the society of my day,
of which her daughter, Lucy Gordon, was a distinguished ornament.

Once too, years ago, I passed an evening with Lady Byron, and fell in
love with her for quoting the axiom which she does apply, though she did
not invent it--"To treat men as if they were better than they are, is
the surest way to _make_ them better than they are:"--and whenever I
think of her I remember that.

I congratulate you on your acquaintance with Madame von Goethe: to know
any one who had lived intimately with the greatest genius of this age,
and one of the greatest the world has produced, seems to me an immense
privilege.

Your letter is dated July--how many things are done that you then meant
to do?

I am just now seeing a great deal of Edward Trelawney; he traveled with
us last summer when we went to Niagara, and professing a great regard
for me, told me, upon reading your "notice" of me, that he felt much
inclined to write to you and solicit your acquaintance....

Good-bye, and God bless you; write to me when the spirit prompts you,
and believe me always

Yours very truly,
F. A. B.

[My long experience of life in America presents the ideas and
expectations with which I first entered upon it in an aspect at once
ludicrous and melancholy to me now. With all an Englishwoman's
notions of country interests, duties, and occupations; the village,
the school, the poor, one's relations with the people employed on
one's place, and one's own especial hobbies of garden, dairy, etc.,
had all been contemplated by me from a point of view which, taken
from rural life in my own country, had not the slightest resemblance
to anything in any American existence.

Butler Place--or as I then called it, "The Farm," preferring that
homely, and far more appropriate, though less distinctive
appellation, to the rather pretentious title, which neither the
extent of the property nor size and style of the house
warranted--was not then our own, and we inhabited it by the kind
allowance of an old relation to whom it belonged, in consequence of
my decided preference for a country to a town residence.

It was in no respect superior to a second-rate farm-house in
England, as Mr. Henry Berkeley told a Philadelphia friend of ours,
who considered it a model country mansion and rural residence and
asked him how it compared with the generality of "country places" in
England.

It was amply sufficient, however, for my desires: but not being
mine, all my busy visions of gardening and green-house improvement,
etc., had to be indefinitely postponed. Subsequently, I took great
interest and pleasure in endeavoring to improve and beautify the
ground round the house; I made flower-beds and laid out
gravel-walks, and left an abiding mark of my sojourn there in a
double row of two hundred trees, planted along the side of the
place, bordered by the high-road; many of which, from my and my
assistants' combined ignorance, died, or came to no good growth. But
those that survived our unskillful operations still form a screen of
shade to the grounds, and protect them in some measure from the dust
and glare of the highway.

Cultivating my garden was not possible.



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