Julia Ward Howe
May 27, 1819 – October 17, 1910
By: Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards
Julia Ward Howe, the author of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," was a prominent American abolitionist, social activist, and prodigious poet.
A little girl was born in New York, in a house on the beautiful Bowling Green, near where the emigrant ships now come in. Her father's name was Samuel Ward, and she was named Julia, after her lovely young mother. People were very sorry for little Julia Ward, because she had red hair, which was thought a great misfortune in those days. Visitors coming to see her mother would shake their heads and say "Poor little Julia! what a pity she has red hair!" and the tender mother, whose own hair was dark, would sigh, and wonder how such a thing should happen in her family. The beautiful hair was combed with a leaden comb, as one old lady said that would turn it dark; and it was soaked in honey-water, as another old lady said that was really the best thing you could do with it; and the little girl felt that she might almost as well be a hunchback or a cripple as that unfortunate creature, a red-haired child.
Still, there were some who saw Julia's beauty, for there is a story of how once, when she was very little, she heard her aunts talking about her looks, and saying how pretty she was, spite of the red hair. Julia could not reach up to the mirror, even on tiptoe; so she climbed on a chair, and took a good look at herself. "75 that all?" she cried; and scrambled down again as fast as she could, sadly disappointed.
When she was six years old her beautiful dark-eyed mother died; and after that Julia and her brothers and sisters (there were six of them in all) were brought up by their good aunt, who came to make her home with them and their father.
|Julia, Samuel, and Henry Ward, circa 1825 From a miniature by Miss Anne Hall.|
A very good and kind aunt she was, and devoted to the motherless children; but sometimes she did funny things. Every day the children were sent out to drive in a great yellow chariot lined with fine blue cloth. Auntie Francis thought it would be a good plan to have them dressed to match the chariot; so one day they appeared, the three little girls, Julia,Louisa, and Annie, in bright blue pelisses (a pelisse was a kind of long coat, much worn at that time) and yellow satin bonnets. This costume was becoming to Louisa and Annie, who had dark hair and eyes, but Julia thought it did not suit her so well. However, she thought very little about her clothes; she had so many other things to think about! One day one of her sisters met her coming home from school with one blue shoe and one green; and often they had to wake her up from her day-dreams and remind her that this or that must be seen to about her dress.
Speaking of shoes, the Ward children must have been very uncomfortable when they went to school in winter; Auntie Francis believed in "hardening" them, so in the coldest weather they went in thin slippers and white cotton stockings. No rubbers then, no arctics or leggings!
Once, when they were all little, the good housekeeper was taken ill and died in the house. The children were very fond of her, and Auntie Francis did not wish them to be saddened by the funeral arrangements; so she gave them a strong dose of physic, which made them all ill; put them to bed, and kept them there till the funeral was over.
Julia Ward was very happy at school, for study was one of the things she loved best in the world, then and all through her long life, to the very end. At nine years old she was studying Paley's "Moral Philosophy" with girls of sixteen and eighteen. She could not have been older than this when, one day, she heard a class reciting an Italian lesson. She was delighted with the sound of the musical language, and listened, and listened again and again. Then she managed to get hold of an Italian grammar, and studied it by herself, saying nothing to any one; till one day she handed to the astonished Italian teacher a letter correctly written in Italian, begging to be allowed to join the class. She loved the study of languages, always; she spoke French and German beautifully, and wrote them easily and correctly. Later in life she studied Spanish somewhat; she was never afraid to try to speak any language that she heard. Once, when she and my father were in Santo Domingo, where Spanish is the national language, my father wrote home to her sister, "Julia knows three words of Spanish, and talks it all day long!"
I shall have more to say by and by about her studies.
Her father was a grave, stern man, but devoted to his children. He loved Julia deeply, and she loved him as much as she feared him, which is saying a great deal. She always sat on his left at table, and often he would take her hand in his and hold it. He could go on with his dinner, because it was his left hand that held hers; but it was Julia's right hand that was held, and as she dared not draw it away, she often got little dinner.
She had a habit of dropping off her slippers while at table. One day her father felt the little slipper, with no foot inside it. He put his own foot on it and moved it under his chair, then said in his deep, grave voice, "My daughter, will you be so good as to bring me my seals, which I have left on the table in my room?"
Poor Julia! she hunted with both feet, but could not find the slipper; and at last she had to go on the errand in one slipper and one white stocking-foot. She never would have dreamed of asking for the shoe.
She was a very good child, but she could be naughty sometimes, as every child can. She loved to tease her good old Grandfather Ward, who lived with them at one time. This dear old gentleman had not always been old. He was a gallant young soldier in Revolutionary times, the son of Governor Ward of Rhode Island, and nephew of General Greene. He was only eighteen when, already a captain, he marched his company to the siege of Boston, and then through the wilderness of Maine (as it then was), through ice and snow, barefoot, to Quebec. Some of you may have seen a copy of Trumbull's famous painting of "The Attack on Quebec." Look in the left-hand corner, and you will see a group of three men, one of them a young, active figure with flashing eyes. That is Samuel Ward, Julia's grandfather. He rose to be major, then lieutenant-colonel; was at Peekskill, Valley Forge, and Red Bank, and wrote the official account of the last-named battle, which may now be found in Washington's correspondence. He was a good soldier, and in course of time he became a good grandfather. Little Julia Ward loved him dearly, and yet, as I say, she was sometimes naughty. Once, when she was a very little child, she sat down at the piano, placed a music-book on the rack before her, and began to pound and thump on the keys with all her might, making the most dreadful noise. Her grandfather was sitting by, book in hand. He had no ear for music, but he thought it did not sound right, somehow. After enduring it patiently for some time, he said in his kind, courtly way, " Is it so set down in the book, my dear?"
"Yes, Grandpapa!" said naughty little Julia, and went on banging; and the dear good gentleman said nothing more.
She was naughty to her Uncle Ben, too, one day, and stamped her foot, and cried out: "I don't care for old Ben Cutler!" (but she did, really)!
Julia began to read poetry when she was very little indeed; and she was still a child when she began to write it. I have beside me as I write a little brown blank book, in which are many poems and hymns written by her in her eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth years. One of these poems is in French, and in the four stanzas there is only one mistake.
When Julia was nine years old, her dolls were taken away from her, that she might realize more the dignity of her position as "Miss Ward," the eldest daughter and sister. She was always addressed as "Miss Ward" by servants and masters; and tried hard to be dignified, poor little girl! One day she found her sisters playing some childish game in the nursery. Perhaps she would have liked to play too, but she felt that she ought to lead them to think of more serious things, so she bade them lay aside their toys and improve their minds by writing poetry. Louisa said she could not, and would not; but little sweet Annie would try, to please Sister Julia. So she sat down and thought hard for some time, and finally produced these lines.
"He feeds the ravens when they call, And stands them in a pleasant hall."
When Julia was still a growing girl, her father built a fine new house, on the corner of Bond Street and Broadway. It was considered very far up town, which will amuse New York children who may happen to read this. The rooms were large and lofty, and Julia spent much of her spare time in walking up and down the long picture-gallery, dreaming of all the wonderful things she would see and do some day. She was generally alone, for the little sisters were much younger, and paired off naturally together, and her brothers were at boarding-school; but she was not lonely, for her mind was full of beautiful thoughts. She read Shakespeare and Byron, and all the poetry she could find, and she wrote more and more herself. Among other poems of her early girlhood was one called "The Hi-cut Mantell; A Romaunt of the time of Kynge Arthur." The story is an old one, but the telling of it was all Julia's own, and I must quote a few lines.
I cannot well describe in rhyme The female toilet of that time.
I do not know how trains were carried,
How single ladies dressed, or married;
If caps were proper at a ball,
Or even if caps were worn at all;
If robes were made of crape or tulle,
If skirts were narrow, gored, or full.
Perhaps, without consulting grace,
The hair was scraped back from the face,
While on the head a mountain rose,
Crowned, like Mont Blanc, with endless snows.
It may be that the locks were shorn;
It may be that the lofty puff,
The stomacher, the rising ruff,
The bodice, or the veil were worn.
Perhaps mantillas were the passion,
Perhaps ferronnieres were in fashion,
I cannot, and I will not tell.
But this one thing I wot full well,
That every lady there was dressed
In what she thought became her best.
The Wards spent the summer at Newport, and that was always a happy time. The boys were at home then, Sam and Henry and Marion, and they all played, and walked, and rode together. Julia had a little thorough-bred mare on which she used to scamper all about the country. Sometimes the mare, a wild little creature, would throw her off, though she was a good rider; then Julia would pick herself up and run home, and creep in at the back door, for fear Auntie should see her and forbid her riding any more.
So Julia Ward grew up, dreaming and studying, writing and playing and thinking; grew up into a lovely young woman. And then, while on a visit to Boston, she heard the wonderful story of Laura Bridgman, and of the man who had brought her from darkness into light. She went with some friends to visit the Perkins Institution for the Blind, and there met my father. She has herself told how she first saw him, " a noble rider, on a noble horse." She felt at once that he was the most remarkable man she had ever met; he was no less strongly attracted by her. Acquaintance ripened into friendship, friendship into love; and in 1843 Samuel Gridley Howe and Julia Ward were married.
|Julia Ward Howe, January 18th, 1897, letter to Mrs. Ward|
TWO HAPPY HOMES
Now begins the part of these two noble lives that I and my sisters and brother remember, the happy time when Dr. and Mrs. Howe were our dear father and mother. I have told fully about these happy years in another book,1 but I must say something about them here, for we children were a very important part of the two lives. I suppose there never were more tender or devoted parents than these two people, whose days were so full of work for all kinds of other people and causes. I think one reason why they were able to do so much was that they never wasted any time. My father was up at four or five o'clock, winter and summer, writing his letters and reports, which were eagerly read all over the world. By six o'clock he was ready for his ride, and one of us children
When I Was Your Age. always went with him. He was a superb rider, and he taught us all how to sit a horse, how to hold the whip and reins, and so forth. There were many stories of his skill in managing horses. Once, when my sister Julia was a baby, he and my mother were travelling in Italy; there were no railroads there in those days, so they drove in an old-fashioned travelling-carriage. One day they stopped at the door of an inn, and my father went in for a moment to make some inquiries. No sooner was he out of sight than the driver slipped in at the side door to get a glass of wine; and the next moment the horses, finding themselves free, ran away, with my mother, the nurse and baby, in the carriage.
My father, hearing the sound of wheels, came out, caught sight of the driver's guilty face peering round the corner in affright, and at once saw what had happened. He ran along the road in the direction in which the horses were headed; and presently, rounding a corner of the mountain which the road skirted, he saw a country wagon coming towards him, drawn by a stout horse, with a stout driver half-asleep on the seat. My father ran up, stopped the horse,unhitched him in the twinkling of an eye, leaped on his back, and was,off, like a flash, before the man got his eyes^afrty 6peri.; '*« lie . galloped on at full speed till he overtook the lumbering carriage-horses, which were easily stopped. No one was hurt; he turned the horses back, and soon came to where the wagoner still sat on his seat with his mouth wide open. My father paid him well for the use of the horse, and he probably regretted that there were no more mad Americans to steal a ride and pay for it.
Another time (this was at home), the horses ran away with my father inside the carriage, — a carryall with a large plate-glass window in front. The coachman had got down to pick up his whip, which he had dropped. Again, like a flash, my father did the thing that had to be done; sprang through the glass, shivering it to atoms, caught up the reins, and stopped the runaways before any damage was done.
Still another time, we were sitting at dinner, when word came that the Perkins Institution was on fire. Between our house and the Institution was a high hill, the last remaining bit of Washington Heights, where General Washington gathered his troops in the Revolutionary'' days. The' messenger had come round by way of the street, wasting precious minutes; but my father never wasted minutes. He ran up the hill, which sloped gently up behind our house, but on the further side showed a steep descent like the face of a cliff. Down this cliff he slid, reached the Institution, and before any one knew he had come, had swarmed up the gutter-spout, and was hacking away at the burning timbers with an axe that he had managed to pick up on his way. The fire was soon put out; so were all the fires he had to do with.
We lived at South Boston then, in a very old house, quaint and comfortable. It stood in a beautiful green garden full of lilacs and snowballs, and lovely blossoming trees, the laburnum, with its showers of gold, and white and pink hawthorn. When my mother first entered the garden, in early summer, she exclaimed "Oh! this is green peace!" and Green Peace the place was called ever after.
My mother did not get up at four o'clock, as my father did, but she was as busy in her way as he in his. When she had finished her housekeeping duties and taken her morning walk, she went straight to her desk, and spent the morning, and often a great part of the day, in study and composition. When we were children, she seemed always to be studying Latin and German: later, when she was fifty years old, she learned Greek, and from that time on always read some of it every day. She helped my father, too, in his anti-slavery work, and in editing a newspaper, the Commonwealth, which he carried on for some time; but most of the time when she was not studying, she was writing poems and plays and essays, which have given pleasure and help to their readers ever since.
My first recollection of my mother is standing by the piano in the great dining-room at Green Peace, in a black velvet dress, with her beautiful neck and arms bare, singing to us. She had a wonderful voice, and her singing was one of our chief delights. She knew every song that ever was written, or so we thought. English, Scotch, and Irish songs; French, German, Italian, and even Polish; there truly was no end to them. She taught us to sing with her, too, and so we learned a great deal, besides having the most delightful times. But she made songs of her own, also, and these we loved best of all.
We were not allowed to interrupt my mother's study hours, unless there was some good reason; but there came a time in the afternoon that was all our own. Then " Mamma " would sit down at the piano, and we would all sing and dance together. First we sang, my mother leading; old German student songs, plantation melodies, "Dearest May " and the like; and those of her own songs that we loved best. Then, when we could sing no more, the dancing began, my mother playing the most delightful tunes that ever were. And while we were dancing, perhaps the door would open and "Papa" come in to join the merrymaking; he might come playing bear, wrapped in his great fur coat, growling terribly. That was wonderful fun, for he was the good-natured bear of the fairy stories, and we could climb all over him, and pull him about, and make him dance with us; only when he was tired, he said he had "a bone in his leg," and would dance no more.
They both read aloud to us a great deal, these dear parents. Both read very beautifully; from them we learned to love Shakespeare and Scott and Dickens; and we never can forget how my father read the Bible, in his deep, melodious voice. They made us read aloud, too, and took great pains to make us finish our words, read clearly and with the right emphasis. My mother was specially careful about our reading poetry, and never let us read it, as some people do to-day, as if it were prose. We must always make the music of the verse evident.
We had plenty of good books; I never saw any " trash " in my father's house.
As I have told you, they were busy all day long, from morning till night; but they were never too busy to listen to us, to help us, when we needed anything. When my mother took her morning walk, she might have liked to think over what she had to write that day; but instead, she had two or three children "tagging" after her, asking questions, and telling important things, about how Sally Bradford, the rubber doll, had a hole in her head, or why the cover of the sugar-bowl was buried in the garden. And when my father was pruning his trees and gathering his pears, we must go too, and get in his way (only we never knew we were in it!) and find out all about everything connected with pears or peaches. We must have hampered them sadly sometimes, but as I say, we never knew it; and oh, how much we learned in this way! Not only a great deal about fruits and flowers, but things far different: that it was not honorable to take fruit without leave; that we must not be greedy, but must share with the rest; that it was delightful to give pleasure to others, as by taking baskets of fruit to the "Institution" and distributing it among our little blind friends, and seeing them enjoy it.
We had school, of course, and learned lessons out of books, as other children do; but no other children ever had our father and mother to learn from.
They had parties for us, too. My mother wrote plays, and she and my father and some of their friends acted them for us, till we grew big enough to take part ourselves; and there was Jose, the brown donkey, for us to ride on, and the " junk " or rocking-boat, for us to rock in; there was really no end to our pleasures.
All these things were at Green Peace, and were pleasures of spring and autumn and winter. In summer we went to our other home, no less dear; Lawton's Valley, near Newport, Rhode Island. This was another children's paradise; we were always as happy to get down to the Valley as we were to get back to Green Peace; we never knew which we loved best. There was the brook to paddle in, and the old mill, and the Valley itself, like a long green parlor, shaded by great trees, and floored with smooth turf, where we used to have the most wonderful picnics that ever were. There were the apple-trees, too, not to be compared with the Green Peace trees for fruit-bearing, but far better for climbing in; and the meadows full of blackberries, and the salt water to bathe in.
We had nurses to take care of us, but when we were ill I cannot remember them at all; I only remember my mother tending us, smoothing the aching head with her beautiful white hands, singing to us softly, making us forget the pain; and my father, leaving his work to come and cheer us up, and tell us the wonderful story about Jacky Nory, the story that had no end. And when we had to go to the dentist, — it was much more dreadful to go in those days, for there was no " gas," and when a tooth had to be pulled, — well! — never mind about that; anyhow, when we had to go, either " Papa " or "Mamma " always went with us, and held our hand, and helped us to bear it as well as we could.
And all this time, remember, the great work was going on, without pause or rest. The blind, the deaf, the insane, and all the sufferers were being helped; the beautiful poems and books were being written; every day and all day, people of all kinds and all nations were coming to my father and mother for help, or comfort, or pleasure; but the happy home was always there for the children.
BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord: He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword.
His truth is marching on!
I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps; I can read his righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on!
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;"Let the hero born of woman crush the serpent with his heel, —
Since God is marching on!
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat; He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment seat; Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer him, be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on!
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me; As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on!
By: Stanley Yavneh Klos
IN WAR TIME
In the year 1861 the terrible Civil War broke out in this country, and North and South were for a time divided. My father was past the age for active service, and could not join the army, as he would have liked to do; but he was able to help a great deal, first by going, at Governor Andrew's request, to examine into the condition of the Union soldiers in the field, and later by helping to found the famous Sanitary Commission, (the fore-runner of the Red Cross) and taking part in its labors. This duty took him to battle-field, camp, hospital and prison; and wherever he went he shed the light of his wisdom and the fire of his patriotism.
My mother, too, longed to help her country.
At first she did not know how she could do this, except by doing what all the women and children were doing in those days, making clothing and sending comforts to the soldiers in camp and field. Soon, however, she found a way of her own.
In the late autumn of this year, 1861, she went to Washington with my father and a party of friends, among them Governor Andrew, who was called " the great War Governor." One day they drove out of the city to see a review of the troops. It had hardly begun when the alarm was given. Some of the Union soldiers near by had been surrounded and surprised by the enemy; the review was given up, and some troops sent to the rescue of their comrades. The rest of the army marched back to Washington, and the carriage containing Governor and Mrs. Andrew, my mother, and the Reverend James Freeman Clarke, returned also, moving at a foot-pace, the soldiers marching on either side and filling the roadway. My mother and her friends began to sing some of the well-known war-songs, among them "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave;" this seemed to please the soldiers, who cried out "Good for you!" and took up the song themselves.
Mr. Clarke said to my mother, " Mrs. Howe, why do you not write some good words for that stirring tune?"
"I wish I might! " said my mother.
Very early the next morning, when the east was still gray, my mother awoke, and found to her amazement that lines of poetry seemed to be shaping themselves in her mind.
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord " — She lay quite still, and the words went on, grouping themselves into lines, the lines flowing on into verses. By and by the whole poem was complete in her mind. Then she said to herself, " I shall lose this if I don't write it down immediately!" She rose at once, found a sheet of paper and an old stump of a pen which she had had the night before, and began to write down the lines almost without looking, as she had often done while watching by us children in our sleep.
"Having completed this," she says, "I lay down again and fell asleep, but not without feeling that something of importance had happened to me."
Something of importance indeed, not to her alone, but to her whole country. The Battle Hymn of the Republic was printed in the Atlantic Monthly. Most people were too busy just then to read poetry, but my mother heard that her verses were making their way into the camps and being sung by the soldiers, and she was well content. Among those who read them was Chaplain McCabe, a good and earnest man, who was about to devote his time and strength to the service of his country. He was so much impressed by the poem that he learned it by heart. Soon after, he went to the front with his regiment, was taken prisoner at Winchester, while caring for the wounded, and sent to Libby Prison. Here he was confined, with many other Union soldiers, in a large bare room, like a loft in a warehouse; there was no furniture in it; the prisoners sat on the floor by day, and slept on it by night, without mattress or pillow. One evening, the officer in charge of them told them that the Union armies had just sustained a terrible defeat. This filled them with sorrow, and they gathered together in little groups, some sitting on the cold bare floor, some standing by the narrow windows to get a little light, and talked over the sad news with heavy hearts. As they sat thus in darkness and sorrow, the negro who waited on them came in, and bending over one of the groups seated on the floor, whispered something in their ears. The news they had heard, he said, was false; the Union armies had triumphed, had won a great and glorious victory.
The glad tidings spread like wildfire through the gloomy vault; men wept and laughed, embracing one another, wild with joy and hope; and Chaplain McCabe, his heart lifted up in thanksgiving, lifted up his voice also, a noble one, and began to sing the poem he had so lately learned.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword; His truth is marching on.
Every soul in that prison knew the tune, and every voice joined in the chorus that rang out upon the night air.
Glory, glory hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.
That was a happy night in Libby Prison; for the victory was that of Gettysburg.
By and by Chaplain McCabe was released, and came to Washington. Here he gave a lecture, in which he told about the things he had seen and done, on the field and in prison. Among other stirring tales, he told of the scene in Libby Prison; and once more, to a vast audience of loyal people, he sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic. The effect was magical. People sprang to their feet, wept and shouted and sang with all their might; and when the song was ended, above all the tumult was heard the voice of Abraham. Lincoln, crying while the tears rolled down his cheeks, "Sing it again!"
So the Battle Hymn sang itself into the heart of the nation; and to-day, as I need not tell you, it is sung in church and school and home, throughout the length and breadth of the land my mother loved.
She wrote many other poems about the war. One of them, " The Flag," was always a favorite of hers and of mine, so I shall print two stanzas from it here.
There's a flag hangs over my threshold, whose folds are more dear to me Than the blood that thrills in my bosom its earnest of liberty; And dear are the stars it harbors in its sunny field of blue, As the hope of a further heaven, that lights all our dim lives through.The flag of our stately battles, not struggles of wrath and greed, Its stripes were a holy lesson, its spangles a deathless creed; Twas red with the blood of freemen, and white with the fear of the foe; And the stars that fight in their courses 'gainst tyrants its symbols know.
AFTERNOON AND EVENING
In the year 1867 my father had the happiness of going once more to Greece on an errand of mercy. When Greece won her freedom, the island of Crete had been left under Turkish rule; but now the islanders, a brave and hardy race, had risen against their tyrants, and made a gallant struggle to win their freedom too. As in the case of Greece so many years before, there was great suffering among the women and children. My father was now an old man, but he felt that he could not let them suffer while he had strength to help; he called a meeting of kind people in Boston, told them the sad story of the brave Cretans, and called on them for aid. It was generously given; and once more he sailed for Greece, carrying food for the hungry and clothing for the naked. My mother went with him, as did my sister Julia and I; and we all helped in giving out the clothes, many of which had been made by Boston school-girls. It was a delightful time for all of us. The Turks were angry, and forbade my father to go to Crete, setting a price on his head, but he went all the same, and came back safe. Once, indeed, he came very near shipwreck. He was in a wretched little steamboat, the machinery of which broke down, leaving the vessel helpless. They drifted about all night, at the mercy of the waves. With the morning a breeze sprang up, but the captain and crew of the tug (for it was nothing more) were only the more frightened, and wept and wailed, calling on the saints to help them. My father, however, tore down a piece of the awning, and with the help of a passenger held it up by way of a sail, and so brought the vessel safe into port.
The brave Cretans did not succeed in winning their freedom that year, though they fought hard for it; but now they have their own government, and are prosperous and thriving.
So long as he lived, my father never ceased to work for the good of others; he has been called " the Servant of Humanity," because he gave his whole life for the service of his fellow men. In the year 1876 this great and good life ended.
My mother had still many long years before her, and she continued to nil them full of good and lovely and helpful deeds. She did not give up her studies, but she added to them all kinds of other work. We children were now grown up and married, so she had much more time at her disposal. She felt that the women of our country and of all countries might make their lives fuller and freer and broader than they had been; so she founded or helped to found many clubs and associations of women, some for work and some for study, all based upon the idea of helping women to help themselves. She felt that women should have the right to vote, and worked ardently in this cause. She wrote many essays and lectures, and went about the country delivering them; and wherever she went she was gladly welcomed, as the author of the famous Battle Hymn, and as an earnest lover of her kind. The words of wisdom and cheer that she spoke gave help and comfort and strength to very many people, and her name became more and more beloved.
She felt that war was one of the most terrible evils, and that women ought to fight against it with the weapons of peace; so for this cause too she spoke, often and well, and for it she wrote more than one poem.
My mother's poems fill several volumes, and some of them have become household words. Here is one which I have always specially loved.
I sent a child of mine to-day;
I hope you used him well."
Now, Lord, no visitor of yours
Has waited at my bell.
The children of the Millionaire
Run up and down our street;
I glory in their well-combed hair,
Their dress and trim complete.
But yours would in a chariot come,
With thorough-breds so gay;
And little merry men and maids
To cheer him on his way.
Stood, then, no child before your door?
The Lord, persistent, said.
"Only a ragged beggar-boy,
With rough and frowzy head.
The dirt was crusted on his skin,
His muddy feet were bare;
The cook gave victuals from within;
I cursed his coming there.
What sorrow, silvered with a smile,
Slides o'er the face divine?
What tenderest whisper thrills rebuke?
The beggar-boy was mine!
As the long, golden afternoon of my mother's life deepened toward sunset, with every year she grew dearer and wiser and more beautiful. You have all seen pictures of her, taken in recent years, with the quaint, pretty cap crowning her silver hair. And with every year more and more people came to her, from all parts of the country, and from foreign countries, just for the pleasure of looking in her face and hearing her voice. They wrote to her, too, from all over the world. Many merely asked for her autograph; but there were others who asked and expected strange things. She always tried to answer every letter, to send her autograph to every man, woman and child who asked for it; but as she grew older and less strong, she could not keep up with the flood of requests that poured in upon her. As it was, I suppose she wrote more letters in a year than many people do their whole lives long.
She never seemed to be in haste; the habit of work was so strong in her that she could work rapidly and quietly. She knew what to say and how to say it; and so her words were never wasted, and there were never too many of them.
She kept up her studies, reading Greek every morning; holding fast to the ancient wisdom, and yet keeping abreast of all the new thought, and welcoming new light wherever it shone. She loved to visit schools and talk to the children; some children who read these words may have seen and heard her, and they will never forget it, I am sure. Hundreds of children wrote to her, and she answered their letters whenever it was possible for her to do so. On her ninetieth birthday she received a letter from an old gentleman in New York, reminding her how, nearly seventy years before, she had picked him up, a little orphan boy, five years old, and had found a home for him in the Orphan Asylum. She was a young girl then; she had done the kind deed and forgotten it; but he had never forgotten.
|Julia Ward Howe bust by Clevenger at the Boston Public Library|
Some of her best poems were written during the last ten years of her life; several of them when she was over ninety years old; and she did not cease writing till the very end.
In her later years a pleasant and graceful custom grew up in Boston, the city she loved so well, and spread to other cities. When she entered a theatre or hall, the audience would rise unbidden to their feet, and remain standing till she had taken her seat. This never failed to surprise her, for she was as modest as she was beloved.
She had grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and was never happier than when she could gather them round her. Never was such a wonderful and delightful grandmother seen; or so they thought. She was as ready to play with them as to talk of high and grave matters with the wise and good men and women who came from afar to see her; and she loved to sit down at the piano and play and sing for them the nursery rhymes which she had set to music. It was for her grandchildren that she made up the wonderful story of Flibbertigibbet, the naughty imp who came down the chimney and set the whole village by the ears. It was a musical story, and she always told it seated at the piano. Music and words were all her own, and when she played the jig, everyone wanted to dance, just like the people in the story. She was as full of fun as she was of wisdom and goodness, and there was no other fun like hers.
So the long golden afternoon passed, and evening came. She died on the eleventh day of October, 1910.
The lives of husband and wife together had covered more than a century.
You have seen, when the sun has set in a clear sky, how the light lingers, first in the west, then broadening and brightening over hill and dale, till all the world is bathed in golden glory? So the light of these two lives, and of other good and great lives, may shine for you and for me, brightening the path before us and helping us on our way.
Capitals of the United States and Colonies of America
Sept. 5, 1774 to Oct. 24, 1774
May 10, 1775 to Dec. 12, 1776
Dec. 20, 1776 to Feb. 27, 1777
March 4, 1777 to Sept. 18, 1777
September 27, 1777
Sept. 30, 1777 to June 27, 1778
July 2, 1778 to June 21, 1783
June 30, 1783 to Nov. 4, 1783
Nov. 26, 1783 to Aug. 19, 1784
Nov. 1, 1784 to Dec. 24, 1784
New York City
Jan. 11, 1785 to Nov. 13, 1788
New York City
Nov. 1788 to March 3,1789
New York City
March 3,1789 to August 12, 1790
December 6,1790 to May 14, 1800
November 17,1800 to Present
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