Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Busy Idleness (part three)

[click here for part one and part two]

The Test

The Test

Giclee Print
Armstrong, Thomas

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When the two tables were spread, their mother was summoned to attend. Caroline's, which was first examined, contained, first, her various exercises in the different branches of study, regularly executed the same as usual. And there were papers placed in the books she was reading in school hours, to show how far she had proceeded in them. Besides these, she had read in her leisure time, in French, Florian's “Numa Pompilius;” and in English, Mrs. More's “Practical Piety,” and some part of Johnson's “Lives of the Poets.” All the needlework which had been left to do or not, at her option, was neatly finished; and her parcel  of linen for the poor was also completely and well done. The only instance in which Caroline had availed herself of her mother's license, was that she had prolonged her drawing lessons a little every day, in order to present her mother with a pretty pair of screens, with flowers copied from nature. These were, last of all, placed on the table with an affectionate note, requesting her acceptance of them.

Mrs. Dawson, having carefully examined this table, proceeded to the other, which was quite piled up with different articles. Here, amid the heap, were her three pages of shorthand; several scraps of paper containing fragments of  her poetical history; the piece (not large enough for a doll's cradle) of her patchwork counterpane; her botanical specimens; together with the large unfinished pile out of the Dorcas bag, – many of the articles of which were begun, but not one quite finished. There was a baby's cap with no border, a frock body without sleeves, and the skirt only half hemmed at the bottom; and slides, tapes, and buttonholes were all, without exception, omitted. After these, followed a great variety of thirds, halves, and quarters of undertakings, each perhaps good in itself, but quite useless in its unfinished state.

The examination being at length ended, Mrs. Dawson retired, without a single comment, to her dressing-room; where, in about an hour afterwards, she summoned the girls to attend her. Here also were two tables laid out, with several articles on each. Their mother then leading Caroline to the first, told her that, as the reward of her industry and perseverance, the contents of the table were her own. Here, with joyful surprise, she beheld, first, a little gold watch, which Mrs. Dawson said she thought a suitable present for one who had made a good use of her time; a small telescope next appeared;   and lastly, Paley's “Natural Theology,” neatly bound.
 Charlotte was then desired to take possession of the contents of the other table, which were considerably more numerous. The first prize she drew out was a very beautiful French fan; but upon opening it, it stretched into an oblong shape, for want of the pin to confine the sticks at the bottom. Then followed a new parasol; but when unfurled there was no catch to confine it, so that it would not remain spread. A penknife handle without a blade, and the blade without the handle, next presented themselves to her astonished gaze.

In great confusion she then unrolled a paper which discovered a telescope apparently like her sister's; but on applying it to her eye, she found it did not contain a single lens, – so that it was not better than a roll of pasteboard. She was, however, greatly encouraged to discover that the last remaining article was a watch; for, as she heard it tick, she felt no doubt that this was at least complete; but upon examination she discovered that there was no hour hand, the minute hand alone pursuing its lonely and useless track.

  Charlotte, whose conscience had very soon explained to her the moral of all this, now turned from the tantalizing table in confusion, and burst into an agony of tears. Caroline wept also; and Mrs. Dawson, after an interval of silence, thus addressed her daughters: –
“It is quite needless for me to explain my reasons for making you such presents, Charlotte. I assure you your papa and I have had a very painful employment the past hour spoiling them all for you. If I had found on your table in the schoolroom any one thing that had been properly finished, you would have received one complete present to answer it; but this you know was not the case."

“I should be very glad if this disappointment should teach you what I have hitherto vainly endeavored to impress upon you, – that as all those things, pretty or useful as they are in themselves, are rendered totally useless for want of completeness, so exertion without perseverance  is no better than busy idleness. That employment does not deserve the name of industry which requires the stimulus of novelty to keep it going. Those who will only work so long as they are amused will do no more good in the world, either to themselves or others, than those who refuse to work at all. If I had required you to pass the six weeks of my absence in bed or in counting your fingers, you would, I suppose, have thought it a sad waste of time; and yet I appeal to you whether (with the exception of an hour or two of needlework) the whole mass of articles on your table could produce anything more useful. And thus, my dears, may life be squandered away, in a succession of busy nothings.”

“I have now a proposal to make to you. These presents, which you are to take possession of as they are, I advise you to lay by carefully. Whenever you can show me anything that you have begun, and voluntarily finished, you may at the same time bring with you one of these things, beginning with those of least value, to which I will immediately add the part that is deficient. Thus, by degrees, you may have them all completed; and if by this means you should acquire the wise and virtuous habit of perseverance, it will be far more valuable to you than the richest present you could possibly receive.”
-By Jane Taylor

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Busy Idleness (part two)

[click here for Part One]

A Rising Star Design Coverlet, Probably Philadelphia, Pieced and Quilted Silk, 1880, 1890

A Rising Star Design Coverlet, Probably Philadelphia, Pieced and Quilted Silk, 1880, 1890

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Charlotte's next undertaking was, to be sure, a rapid descent from the last in the scale of dignity. She now thought, that, by working very hard during the remainder of the time, she should be able to accomplish a patchwork counterpane, large enough for her own little tent bed; and the case of this employment formed a most agreeable contrast in her mind with the extreme difficulty of the last.
Accordingly, as if commissioned with a search warrant, she ransacked all her mother's drawers, bags, and bundles in quest of new pieces; and these spoils proving very insufficient, she set off to tax all her friends, and to tease all the linen drapers in the town for their odds and ends, urging that she wanted some particularly. As she was posting along the street on this business, she espied at a distance a person whom she had no wish to encounter, namely, old Mr. Henderson. To avoid the meeting she crossed over. But this manoeuvre did not succeed; for no sooner had they come opposite to each other, than, to her great confusion, he called out across the street, in his loud and tremulous voice, and shaking his stick at her, “How d'ye do, Miss Shorthand? I thought how it would be! Oh, fie! Oh, fie!”

Charlotte hurried on; and her thoughts soon returned to the idea of the splendid radiating star which she designed for the centrepeice of her counterpane. While she was arranging the different patterns, and forming the alterations of light and shade, her interest continued nearly unabated; but when she came to the practical part of sewing piece to piece with unvarying sameness, it began, as usual, to flag. She sighed several times, and cast many disconsolate looks at the endless hexagons and octagons, before she indulged any distinct idea of relinquishing her task. At length, however, it did forcibly occur to her that, after all, she was not obliged to go on with it; and that, really, patchwork was a thing that was better done by degrees, when one happens to want a job, than to be finished all at once. So, with this thought (which would have been a very good one if it had occurred to her in  proper time), she suddenly drew out her needle, thrust all her pieces, arranged and unarranged, into a drawer, and began to meditate a new project.

Fortunately, just at this juncture some young ladies of their acquaintance called upon Charlotte and Caroline. They were attempting to establish a society amongst their friends for working for the poor, and came to request their assistance. Caroline cheerfully entered into the design;  but as for Charlotte, nothing could exceed the forwardness of her zeal. She took it up so warmly that Caroline's appeared, in comparison, only lukewarm. It was proposed that each member of the society should have her equal proportion of the work to do at her own house; but when the articles came to be distributed, Charlotte, in the heat of her benevolence, desired that a double portion might be allotted to her. Some of the younger ones admired her industrious intentions, but the better judging advised her not to undertake too much at once. However, she would not be satisfied till her request was complied with. When the parcels  of work arrived, Charlotte with exultation seized the larger one, and without a minute's delay commenced her charitable labors. The following morning she rose at four o'clock, to resume the employment; and not a little self-complacency did she feel, when, after nearly two hours' hard work, she still heard Caroline breathing in a sound sleep. But, alas! Charlotte soon found that work is work, of whatever nature, or for whatever purpose.

She now inwardly regretted that she had asked for more than her share; and the cowardly thought that after all she was not obliged to do it next occurred to her. For the present, therefore, she squeezed all the things, done and undone, into what she called her “Dorcas bag;” and to banish unpleasant thoughts, she opened the first book that happened to lie within reach. It proved to be “An Introduction to Botany.” Of this she had not read more than a page and a half before she determined to collect some specimens herself; and having found a blank copy book she hastened into the garden, where, gathering a few common flowers, she proceeded to dissect them, not, it is to be feared, with much scientific nicety. Perhaps as many as three pages of this copy book were bespread with her specimens before she discovered that botany was a dry study.

It would be too tedious to enumerate all the subsequent ephemeral undertakings which filled up the remainder of the six weeks. At the expiration of that time Mrs. Dawson returned. On the next morning after her arrival she reminded her daughters of the account she expected of their employments during her absence, and desired them to set out on two tables in the schoolroom everything they had done that could be exhibited, together with the books they had been reading. Charlotte would gladly have been excused from her part of the exhibition; but this was not permitted; and she reluctantly followed her sister to make the preparation.

To Be Continued...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Busy Idleness (part one)

by Jane Taylor

[Editor's Note: I was unable to find anything about this authoress online; there is some reason to believe she may be the same as this Jane Taylor, poetess.  I obtained this story from a book last copyrighted in 1908; therefore I am blogging it under the impression that it is in the public domain by now. I am offering it to our readers in a series of three postsThis is a very good read-aloud story. Be sure to check back for the rest!]

Far Away Thoughts, 1890

Far Away Thoughts, 1890

Giclee Print
Alma-Tadema, Sir...

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Mrs. Dawson being obliged to leave home for six weeks, her daughters, Charlotte and Caroline, received permission to employ the time of her absence as they pleased; that is, she did not require of them the usual strict attention to particular hours and particular studies, but allowed them to chose their own employments, – only recommending them to make a good use of the license, and apprising them, that, on her return, she should require and exact account of the manner in which the interval had been employed.

The carriage that conveyed their mother away was scarcely out of hearing, when Charlotte, delighted with her freedom, hastened upstairs to the schoolroom, where she looked around on books, globes, maps, drawings, to select some new employment for the morning. Long before she had decided upon any, her sister had quietly seated herself at her accustomed station, thinking that she could do nothing better than finish the French exercise she had begun the day before. Charlotte, however, declined attending to French that day, and after much indecision, and saying “I have a great mind to”  several times without finishing the sentence, she at last took down a volume of Cowper, and read in different parts for about half an hour. Then throwing it aside, she said she had a great mind to put the bookshelves in order, – a business which she commenced with great spirit. But in the course of her laudable undertaking, she met with a manuscript in shorthand; whereupon she exclaimed to her sister, “Caroline, don't you remember that old Mr. Henderson once promised he would teach us shorthand? How much I should like to learn! Only, mamma thought we had not time. But now, this would be such a good opportunity. I am sure I could learn it well in six weeks; how convenient it would be! One could take down sermons, or anything; and I could make Rachel learn, and then how very pleasant it would be to write to each other in  shorthand! Indeed, it would be convenient in a hundred ways.” So saying, she ran upstairs, without any further delay, and putting on her hat and spencer, set off to old Mr. Henderson's.

Mr. Henderson happened to be at dinner. Nevertheless, Charlotte obtained admittance on the plea of urgent business; but she entered his apartment so much out of breath, and in such apparent agitation, that the old gentleman, rising hastily from the table, and looking anxiously at her over his spectacles, inquired in a tremulous tone what was the matter. When, therefore, Charlotte explained her business, he appeared a little disconcerted; but having gently reproved her for her undue eagerness, he composedly resumed his knife and fork, though his hand shook much more than usual during the remainder of his meal. However, being very good-natured, as soon as he had dined he cheerfully gave Charlotte her first lesson in shorthand, promising to repeat it regularly every morning.

Charlotte returned home in high glee. She at this juncture considered shorthand as one of the most useful, and decidedly the most interesting of acquirements; and she continued to exercise herself in it all the rest of the day. She was exceedingly pleased at being able  already to write two or three words which neither her sister nor even her father could decipher. For three successive mornings Charlotte punctually kept her appointment with Mr. Henderson; but on the fourth morning she sent a shabby excuse to her kind master; and, if the truth must be told, he from that time saw no more of his scholar.

Now the cause of this desertion was twofold: first, and principally, her zeal for shorthand, which for the last eight-and-forty hours had been sensibly declining in its temperature, was, on the above morning, within half a degree of freezing point; and, second, a new and far more arduous and important undertaking had by this time suggested itself to her mind. Like many young persons of desultory inclinations, Charlotte often amused herself with writing verses; and it now occurred to her that an abridged history of England in verse was still a desideratum in literature. She commenced this task with her usual diligence; but was somewhat discouraged in the outset by the difficulty of finding a rhyme to Saxon, whom she indulged the unpatriotic wish that the Danes had laid a tax on. But, though she got over this obstacle by a new construction of the line, she found these difficulties occur so continually that she soon felt a more thorough disgust at this employment than at the preceding one. So the epic stopped short, some hundred years before the Norman conquest. Difficulty, which quickens the ardor of industry, always damps, and generally extinguishes, the false zeal of caprice and versatility.

To Be Continued...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Corner Bookcase in Pink and Black

This is the corner case as it looks this month in pink and black. The inspiration for the color theme was the recipe box on the second-from-the-top shelf. Until someone thought to gift me with this elegant box, my recipes were crammed into a little plastic card file holder, with no lid. It was very ugly. I was happy to change over to the new one!
Besides the color theme, the shelves ended up with "Sit back, relax, have a cup of tea, sew a little and read a good book" theme.
 I thought perhaps some readers may like to know what is on the shelves in more detail, so below I've listed the book titles.

Starting from the top shelf, back to front:
Large pink book is a home-made "magazine" called "Serendipity" that my mother put together with pretty pictures on pink paper.
"Keepers at Home" book from
"Daughters of Eve" study of the women of the Bible by Lottie Beth Hobbs
A Latin Grammar book from about 100 years ago... probably hasn't been opened in about as long!
"Marcia Schuyler" by Grace Livingston Hill (a very favorite)
Cute pink mini metal bucket with all the pink crayons from the crayon box

Second shelf:
"Taking Tea" by Andrea Israel
"Victorian Parlors and Tea Parties" by Patricia B. Mitchell
"A Cup of Friendship" gift book by dollar store
The Elegant Recipe Box

Third shelf:
"Spot Illustrations from Women's Magazines of the Teens and Twenties" by Judy M. Johnson
"Wide as the Waters" by Benson Bobrick (a history of the King James version of the Bible, very enjoyable read!)
"Princess Ka'iulani" by Sharon Linnea
Box of Celestial Seasonings Vanilla Rose Tea, so wonderful with cream!
Wooden "Relax" sign, from dollar store, painted pink and glittered.

Fourth shelf:
McCall's Quilting magazine with a pink cover (this is my sewing-theme shelf!)
"Sew Pretty Homestyle" Tilda book
"My Little House Sewing Book" by Margaret Irwin
"She Hath Done What She Could" study book by Jane McWhorter (a good study on our hands and our works)
Pink basket and pink doily with home-made sewing cards & laces inside.

Bottom shelf:
"America's Providential History" by Mark A. Beliles and Stephen K. McDowell
"The Christian Girl" by Mamie W. Hayhurst
Under the two cute little pink crates, there is "The Best Loved Poems of the American People,"
"The Bible Lessons of John Quincy Adams for His Sons"
"The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt for His Sons" 
Several tiles of the Sower Series: Abigail Adams, Isaac Newton, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln, and Christopher Columbus

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Sunday, October 17, 2010


I am working on some things to post later on, but in the meantime, I found this 12 minute video very interesting. Click the link and then click "Project Walk Goes Primetime"

(Edited to add the link....thought ya'll might appreciate it...)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Psalm 35

 1Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
 2Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.
 3Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
 4Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.
 5Let them be as chaff before the wind: and let the angel of the LORD chase them.
 6Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.
 7For without cause have they hid for me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul.
 8Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.
 9And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD: it shall rejoice in his salvation.
 10All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him?
 11False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not.
 12They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul.
 13But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
 14I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.
 15But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not:
 16With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.
 17Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.
 18I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.
 19Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause.
 20For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land.
 21Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it.
 22This thou hast seen, O LORD: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me.
 23Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord.
 24Judge me, O LORD my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me.
 25Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up.
 26Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.
 27Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
 28And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Playing at Schools, 1857

A Noun's the name of anything;
As, school or garden, hoop or swing.

Adjectives tell the kind of noun;
As, great, small, pretty, white or brown.
Three of these words we often see,
Called articles – a, and, and the.

Instead of nouns the pronouns stand;
John's head, his face, my arm, your hand.

Verbs tell of something being done;
As, read, write, spell, sing, jump or run.

How things are done the adverbs tell;
As, slowly, quickly, ill, or well.
They also tell us where and when;
As, here, and there, and now, and then.

A preposition stands before
A noun; as in, or through, a door.

Conjunctions sentences unite;
As, kittens scratch and puppies bite.

The interjection shows surpise;
As, O, how pretty! Ah, how wise!

-David B. Tower and Benjamen F. Tweed

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Love in a Mist

Love in a Mist

Giclee Print
Anderson, Sophie

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 In the vegetable garden this year, a couple beds were set aside for "mystery seeds." These were saved seeds from the flower garden last year, put in Ziploc bags and envelopes, but not labeled. Yes, I know we ought to label them. Ahem! To get back to my subject... a plot of these beautiful blue flowers came up, but there were no blue flowers in the flower garden last year, making these extra mysterious.

 A friend told me they were called "Love-In-A-Mist."  I have heard of or read about Love-In-A-Mist, but must not have paid attention to what they looked like. I thought the shades of blue were so lovely, and now I have extra reason to like these, and grow them again: their beautiful name!

 I have not yet identified the wee blue-purple-white-ish flowers that have come up with the Love-In-A-Mist.
 What fascinated me about these, was that there are at least 4 different variations of this flower in this plot. Some more blue, some more white, some more purple. Some with many petals, some with a single layer.

 Here are the four different variations I have seen so far (above), and three close-ups (below).