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Prue and I   By: (1824-1892)

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PRUE AND I.

BY

GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS.

"Knitters in the sun." Twelfth Night.

A WORD TO THE GENTLE READER.

An old book keeper, who wears a white cravat and black trowsers in the morning, who rarely goes to the opera, and never dines out, is clearly a person of no fashion and of no superior sources of information. His only journey is from his house to his office; his only satisfaction is in doing his duty; his only happiness is in his Prue and his children.

What romance can such a life have? What stories can such a man tell?

Yet I think, sometimes, when I look up from the parquet at the opera, and see Aurelia smiling in the boxes, and holding her court of love, and youth, and beauty, that the historians have not told of a fairer queen, nor the travellers seen devouter homage. And when I rememember that it was in misty England that quaint old George Herbert Sang of the

"Sweet day so cool, so calm, so bright The bridal of the earth and sky,"

I am sure that I see days as lovely in our clearer air, and do not believe that Italian sunsets have a more gorgeous purple or a softer gold.

So, as the circle of my little life revolves, I console myself with believing, what I cannot help believing, that a man need not be a vagabond to enjoy the sweetest charm of travel, but that all countries and all times repeat themselves in his experience. This is an old philosophy, I am told, and much favored by those who have travelled; and I cannot but be glad that my faith has such a fine name and such competent witnesses. I am assured, however, upon the other hand, that such a faith is only imagination. But, if that be true, imagination is as good as many voyages and how much cheaper! a consideration which an old book keeper can never afford to forget.

I have not found, in my experience, that travellers always bring back with them the sunshine of Italy or the elegance of Greece. They tell us that there are such things, and that they have seen them; but, perhaps, they saw them, as the apples in the garden of the Hesperides were sometimes seen over the wall. I prefer the fruit which I can buy in the market to that which a man tells me he saw in Sicily, but of which there is no flavor in his story. Others, like Moses Primrose, bring us a gross of such spectacles as we prefer not to see; so that I begin to suspect a man must have Italy and Greece in his heart and mind, if he would ever see them with his eyes.

I know that this may be only a device of that compassionate imagination designed to comfort me, who shall never take but one other journey than my daily beat. Yet there have been wise men who taught that all scenes are but pictures upon the mind; and if I can see them as I walk the street that leads to my office, or sit at the office window looking into the court, or take a little trip down the bay or up the river, why are not my pictures as pleasant and as profitable as those which men travel for years, at great cost of time, and trouble, and money, to behold?

For my part, I do not believe that any man can see softer skies than I see in Prue's eyes; nor hear sweeter music than I hear in Prue's voice; nor find a more heaven lighted temple than I know Prue's mind to be. And when I wish to please myself with a lovely image of peace and contentment, I do not think of the plain of Sharon, nor of the valley of Enna, nor of Arcadia, nor of Claude's pictures; but, feeling that the fairest fortune of my life is the right to be named with her, I whisper gently, to myself, with a smile for it seems as if my very heart smiled within me, when I think of her "Prue and I."

CONTENTS.

I. DINNER TIME II. MY CHATEAUX III. SEA FROM SHORE IV. TITBOTTOM'S SPECTACLES V. A CRUISE IN THE FLYING DUTCHMAN VI. FAMILY PORTRAITS VII. OUR COUSIN THE CURATE

DINNER TIME.

"Within this hour it will be dinner time; I'll view the manners of the town, Peruse the traders, gaze upon the buildings." Comedy of Errors .

In the warm afternoons of the early summer, it is my pleasure to stroll about Washington Square and along the Fifth Avenue, at the hour when the diners out are hurrying to the tables of the wealthy and refined... Continue reading book >>




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