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XI. — BUNKER HILL MONUMENT.
1. I am asked, What good will the monument do? And I ask, What good does anything do? What is good ? Does anything do any good ? The persons who suggest this objection, of course, think that there are some projects and undertakings that do good; and I should, therefore, like to have the idea of good explained, and analyzed, and run out to its elements.
2. When this is done, if I do not demonstrate, in about two minutes, that the monument does the same kind of good that anything else does, I will consent that the huge blocks of granite, already laid, should be reduced to gravel and carted off to fill up the mill-pond; for that, I suppose, is one of the good things.
3. Does a railroad or a canal do good? Answer: Yes. And how? It facilitates intercourse, opens markets, and increases the wealth of the country. But what is this good for? Why, individuals prosper and get rich.
And what good does that do? Is mere wealth, as an ultimate end; gold and silver, without an inquiry as to their use, — are these good ? Certainly not. I should insult this audience by attempting to prove that a rich man, as such, is neither better nor happier than a poor one.
4. But as men grow rich, they live better. Is there any good in this, stopping here? Is mere animal life — feeding, working, and sleeping like an ox — entitled to be called good ? Certainly not.
But these improvements increase the population.
And what good does that do? What is the good in counting twelve millions instead of six of mere feeding, working, sleeping animals ?
5. There is, then, no good in the mere animal life, except that it is the physical basis of that higher moral existence which resides in the soul, the heart, the mind, the conscience; in good principles, good feelings, and the good actions — and the more disinterested, the more entitled to be called good — which flow from them.
6. Now, sir, I say that generous and patriotic sentiments - sentiments which prepare us to serve country, to live for our country, to die for our country — feelings like those which carried Prescott, and Warren, and Putnam to the battle-field, are good — good, humanly speaking, of the highest order.
It is good to have them, good to encourage them, good to honor them, good to commemorate them; and whatever tends to cherish, animate, and strengthen such feelings, does as much right-down practical good as filling low grounds and building railroads.
XII. - THE SECRET OF CONTENT.
1. The other day, as I was walking on one of the streets of Newport, I saw a little girl standing before the window of a milliner's shop. It was a very rainy day. The pavement of the sidewalks on this street is so sunken and irregular that in wet weather, unless one
walks with care he steps continually into small wells of water. Up to her ankles in one of these wells stood the little girl, apparently as unconscious as if she were high and dry before a fire. It was a very cold day, too. I was hurrying along, wrapped in furs, and not quite warm enough even so.
2. The child was but thinly clothed. She wore an old plaid shawl and a ragged knit hood of scarlet worsted. One little red ear stood out unprotected by the hood, and drops of water trickled down over it from her hair. She seemed to be pointing with her finger at articles in the window, and talking to some one inside. I watched her for several moments, and then crossed the street to see what it all meant.
3. I stole noiselessly up behind her, and she did not hear me. The window was full of artificial flowers of the cheapest sort, but of very gay colors. Here and there a knot of ribbon or a bit of lace had been tastefully added, and the whole effect was really remarkably gay and pretty. Tap, tap, tap, went the small hand against the window-pane, and with every tap the unconscious little creature murmured, in a half-whispering, half-singing voice: “I choose that color.” “I choose that color.” “I choose that color.”
4. I stood motionless. I could not see her face, but there was in her whole attitude and tone the heartiest content and delight. I moved a little to the right, hoping to see her face without her seeing me, but the slight movement caught her ear, and in a second she had sprung aside and turned toward me. The spell was broken. She was no longer the queen of an air-castle, decking herself in all the rainbow-hues which pleased her eye. She was a poor beggar child, out in the rain, and a little frightened at the approach of a stranger. She did not move away, however, but stood eying me irresolutely, with that pathetic mixture of interrogation and defiance in her face which is so often seen in the prematurely developed faces of poverty-stricken children.
5. “ Aren't the colors pretty?” I said. She brightened instantly. “Yes, ma’am; I'd like a gown of that blue color.” “But you will take cold standing in the wet,” said I. “Won't you come under my umbrella ?” She looked down at her wet dress suddenly, as if it had not occurred to her before that it was raining. Then she drew first one little foot and then the other out of the muddy puddle in which she had been standing, and moving a little closer to the window, said, “ I'm not going home just yet, ma'am. I'd like to stay here a while.”
6. So I left her. But after I had gone a few blocks the impulse seized me to return by a cross-street and see if she were still there. Tears sprang to my eyes as I first caught sight of the upright little figure, standing in the same spot, still pointing with the rhythmic finger to the blues and reds and yellows, and half chanting under her breath as before: “I choose that color.” “I choose that color.” “I choose that color.”
7. I went quietly on my way, without disturbing her again. But I said in my heart, “I will remember you all my life!” Why should days be ever dark, life
ever be colorless? There is always sun; there are always blue and scarlet and yellow and purple. We cannot reach them, perhaps, but we can see them; if it is only “through a glass” and “ darkly,” still we can see them. We can choose " our colors.
HELEN HUNT JACKSON.
XIII. - THE POOR AND THE RICH.
The rich man's son inherits lands,
The rich man's son inherits cares,
What does the
poor man's son inherit?