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What act of Legislature was there that thou shouldst be Happy? What if thou wert born and predestined not to be Happy but to be Unhappy? Close thy Byron; open thy Goethe. There is in man a Higher than Love of Happiness; he can do without Happiness and instead thereof find Blessedness!"
YRTLE REED the novelist, the
humourist, the poet, was wellknown; Myrtle Reed the thinker and philosopher was known to but few, for she was chary about disclosing this side of her complex nature.
When but about eighteen, she became enamoured of Carlyle, and Sartor Resartus made an indelible impression upon her mind. Other deep thinkers and philosophers followed Carlyle in her reading, and while she read voluminously of poetry and
fiction-grave and gay—she was always
She read so voraciously and thought so
Frequently, when talking with the writer, she would quote, almost verbatim, some pertinent passage from Sartor Resartus, always referring to the author thereof as “our friend Tommy C." It was characteristic of her that the more august the personage referred to, the more lightly and familiarly would she name that individual. Thus, Emerson, George Eliot, and others for whose words she had the highest regard, had each his fondly familiar appellation in her conversation.
She regarded Sartor Resartus as one of the greatest books of the century, and one which had exerted an incalculable influence upon her life. In this connection I feel compelled to relate an incident which now seems to me far more significant than it did when it occurred, which was fully ten or twelve years ago when I regarded Myrtle Reed as but little more than a school girl.
I chanced upon her one day in the street car, intent upon a small volume. The only vacant seat was almost opposite her, and into it I sank without attracting her attention, thereby (in my own opinion) exhibiting commendatory self-sacrifice. Presently she saw me, and with characteristic cordiality and one of her most comical exclamations-she was pastmaster in original salutations and pleasantly satirical appellations for her friendsmotioned me to the seat beside her just vacated. I naturally glanced at the little
book in her hand and saw that it was her
loved and oft-quoted Sartor, and in reply, as it were, to my expression of pleasurable surprise, she vehemently broke forth with: “Yes, I picked it up when starting on this long car ride because I needed a tonic. The front sheet of my morning paper completely upset me, for it told several stories of divorce in high life on accountin the majority of the cases of the wife's wanting a 'career.' It made me fairly ill. I was positively heartsick over one or two of the cases, and so ashamed of my sex, that my own self-respect fell far below par so that I needed a strong stimulant—a good, stiff dose of orthodoxy, and where better could I go than to dear old Tommy C.? How I wish that every High School girl were compelled to memorise parts of this chapter—('The Everlasting Yea') and recite them aloud every morning as part of her 'devotional exercises'! Listen to
this: “ (quoting the paragraph at the head of this introduction).
“You forget that there are now no 'devotional exercises' in school," I reminded her, and then queried why she did not include the brothers in her would be compulsory inculcation of Carlyle's wisdom.
“Oh, all need it, unquestionably, but to-day it seems to me it is woman more than man who needs to have a better acquaintance with that word Duty of which dear old Tommy speaks so earnestly in this chapter. When we see so many women utterly regardless of their responsibilities to their homes; when we see the incessant pursuit of pleasure“happiness' they would call it-on the part of so many mothers through the many avenues open to the woman of comparative leisure—card parties or receptions four afternoons a week and the matinee the