**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

by [?]

Introspection {276}


{276} December thirty-first, 1888.

The close of a year must bring even to the careless and the least inclined toward self-inspection, an hour of thoughtfulness, a desire to glance back across the past, and set one’s mental house in order, before starting out on another stage of the journey for that none too distant bourne toward which we all are moving.

Our minds are like solitary dwellers in a vast residence, whom habit has accustomed to live in a few only of the countless chambers around them. We have collected from other parts of our lives mental furniture and bric- a-brac that time and association have endeared to us, have installed these meagre belongings convenient to our hand, and contrived an entrance giving facile access to our living-rooms, avoiding the effort of a long detour through the echoing corridors and disused salons behind. No acquaintances, and but few friends, penetrate into the private chambers of our thoughts. We set aside a common room for the reception of visitors, making it as cheerful as circumstances will allow and take care that the conversation therein rarely turns on any subject more personal than the view from the windows or the prophecies of the barometer.

In the old-fashioned brick palace at Kensington, a little suite of rooms is carefully guarded from the public gaze, swept, garnished and tended as though the occupants of long ago were hourly expected to return. The early years of England’s aged sovereign were passed in these simple apartments and by her orders they have been kept unchanged, the furniture and decorations remaining to-day as when she inhabited them. In one corner, is assembled a group of dolls, dressed in the quaint finery of 1825. A set of miniature cooking utensils stands near by. A child’s scrap-books and color-boxes lie on the tables. In one sunny chamber stands the little white-draped bed where the heiress to the greatest crown on earth dreamed her childish dreams, and from which she was hastily aroused one June morning to be saluted as Queen. So homelike and livable an air pervades the place, that one almost expects to see the lonely little girl of seventy years ago playing about the unpretending chambers.

Affection for the past and a reverence for the memory of the dead have caused the royal wife and mother to preserve with the same care souvenirs of her passage in other royal residences. The apartments that sheltered the first happy months of her wedded life, the rooms where she knew the joys and anxieties of maternity, have become for her consecrated sanctuaries, where the widowed, broken old lady comes on certain anniversaries to evoke the unforgotten past, to meditate and to pray.

Who, as the year is drawing to its close, does not open in memory some such sacred portal, and sit down in the familiar rooms to live over again the old hopes and fears, thrilling anew with the joys and temptations of other days? Yet, each year these pilgrimages into the past must become more and more lonely journeys; the friends whom we can take by the hand and lead back to our old homes become fewer with each decade. It would be a useless sacrilege to force some listless acquaintance to accompany us. He would not hear the voices that call to us, or see the loved faces that people the silent passages, and would wonder what attraction we could find in the stuffy, old-fashioned quarters.

Many people have such a dislike for any mental privacy that they pass their lives in public, or surrounded only by sporting trophies and games. Some enjoy living in their pantries, composing for themselves succulent dishes, and interested in the doings of the servants, their companions. Others have turned their salons into nurseries, or feel a predilection for the stable and the dog-kennels. Such people soon weary of their surroundings, and move constantly, destroying, when they leave old quarters, all the objects they had collected.