St. Nicholas/Volume 32/Number 12/In Memory of

St. Nicholas, Volume 32, Number 12 (1905)
edited by Mary Mapes Dodge
In Memory of Mary Mapes Dodge by William Fayal Clarke
4084056St. Nicholas, Volume 32, Number 12 — In Memory of Mary Mapes DodgeWilliam Fayal Clarke

In Memory of Mary Mapes Dodge
Died August 21, 1905

Long before this number of St. Nicholas reaches its readers, the daily newspapers will have brought to them the sad news of the death of the beloved editor of this magazine. Mrs. Dodge had been suffering from a severe illness for several months, and it was hoped that the usual sojourn in her summer cottage at Onteora, New York, might restore her to health. But she steadily grew weaker until the end, which came peacefully on the morning of Monday, August 21st.

To all who knew and loved her it seems almost unbelievable that one who was so vital a part of the lives of those around her has vanished forever from our sight. Mrs. Dodge was always so triumphantly alive and joyous, so “in love with life and raptured with the world”; she had served so long and faithfully in her chosen field; she belonged so thoroughly to her great task, and held so high a place in both public and private esteem, that, as many a sorrowing friend has written, “We cannot imagine life without her.” The recognized leader in juvenile literature for almost a third of a century, she was universally honored by the children of America and even of the world—for from shore to shore of our country and across the widest seas her name was held in reverent affection by child-readers and their parents. Two generations of girls and boys have known her work and learned to love the noble, gifted, kindly nature which that work revealed. Children’s faces all over the land broke into smiles of joy at the mention of her name; parents all over the land, knowing well the debt which they and their children owed to her, said many a quiet God bless her!” in their hearts. Upon her desk today are loving, grateful letters from children whose fathers and mothers sent her just such letters in the cramped handwriting of their own childhood twenty-five years ago. “And we love you, dear Mrs. Dodge, as much as we love St. Nicholas!” was always the burden of these missives. Every copy of St. Nicholas made a personal friend for Mrs. Dodge of every girl and boy who read it, and everywhere she was honored and beloved as one who had done a great work in the world.

But it was not by any luck or good fortune that she accomplished that work; it was by patient, devoted, conscientious labor—by the exercise of noble gifts to a noble end. It was her mission to minister to the thoughts and interests and aspirations of childhood, and for this she was divinely fitted, From first to last—in her delight in simple things, in her simple faith,and in her eager impulses and quick sympa-thies—she was herself a child. But not in powers—for her powers were of the rarest and the greatest; not in knowledge and wisdom—for there have been few wiser or more accomplished women; not in courage—for her courage nothing could daunt, Yet these high endowments, with all the other manifold gifts of her nature, she consecrated to the service of childhood. To make child-readers happy first, and through this happiness to lead them on to higher and nobler living,—this was her aim and work. And all the joy and sweetness and enlargement which she brought into their lives, they have still and cannot lose.

Mrs. Dodge came of distinguished ancestry, which included, on both her father’s and her mother’s side, the names of many well-known citizens of New York. General Jonas Mapes had a patriot’s share in the War of the Revolution, and was an intimate personal friend of the Marquis de Lafayette; and other members of the Mapes family attained a well-earned distinction a century ago. Her own father, Professor James J. Mapes, has been called a “universal genius”—for he was noted as a scholar, an inventor,a scientist, and an author. Moreover he was a man of wide social acquaintance and a brilliant, humorous, accomplished talker—famous for his wit, and as a story-teller. The foremost men of his day in literary, artistic, and political life—men like Horace Greeley and William Cullen Bryant — were his familiar friends. Captain John Ericsson, who usually kept himself secluded from the world, was a close comrade of Professor Mapes, and a frequent visitor to his home in New York city—a home which attracted the best thought and the best people of the time—the hospitable center of a large literary and scientific circle.

It was into this home that little Mary Elizabeth was born on January 26, 1831. “I had a devoted father and mother and a happy childhood, a remarkably happy childhood, watched over with loving care,” is Mrs. Dodge’s own tribute to the wise and tender rearing which she received and to the home influences which molded her earliest thoughts.

The picture of Professor Mapes’s daughters in their childhood, painted by William Page, shows Mary, the second daughter, as the little figure in the foreground holding a doll in her arms. “I would not part with my dolly for all their coaxing,” she used to say. In this devotion, as well as in the clear, bright eyes of the little girl, which look into our own with such a happy and yet searching gaze, in the frank, earnest, eager, and joyous expression of the round, rosy face, and in the tender grasp with which the motherly arm clutches the dolly, we may surely read prophetic glimpses of the child-lover and benefactor of children that she was one day to become. And as if to fit her for the work, she was, as a good friend once wrote of her, “one of those fortunate mortals at whose christening feast no ill-tempered fairy sulked.” She was supremely gifted from the first.

But until she was twice as old as at the time when the picture was painted, she was merely a happy, healthy child, with a buoyant nature and a child’s delight in the joys and pleasures of the passing hour,—frolicsome, filled with energy and animal spirits like many another, and taking no thought of time, as the happy days sped by. Before she was ten, however, she had become a great reader, and she early showed her literary bent by celebrating the family anniversaries in “poetical effusions.” Some of these stately but comical efforts she used to repeat with gleeful amusement in after years.

The daughters of Professor Mapes never went to school. They gained their education at home under the care of tutors and governesses, being carefully trained, not only in the usual English branches, but in French, drawing, music, and Latin.

There was no such thing in those days as a children’s magazine; but there were the great masterpieces of literature, the Bible, the old English ballads, Shakspere, Milton, Bunyan, and Walter Scott. Professor Mapes inspired in his daughters a love for the world’s great books, and Mrs, Dodge may have gained from them the crystal clearness and the force of her literary style. As she grew into her teens she grew also more and more fond of writing, and before her girlhood ended was already helping her father in the preparation of his learned pamphlets and essays; and for him throughout her life she

“The Sisters” Engraved for “St. Nicholas” by Timothy Cole from the portrait-painting by William Page.
The little girl holding a doll is Mary Elizabeth Mapes (Mrs. Dodge), at the age of four.

cherished a boundless pride and love. Both in her home study and her editorial office his picture decorated the wall above her desk.

While still a very young woman, however, she became the wife of William Dodge, a prominent lawyer of New York, and for several happy years a new love reigned supreme in her life, while the claims of husband and children—for two boys had come to bless the fireside—filled the days with peace and joy. Her own home, like her father’s, was an ideal one, where the best people and the best influences found always an open door and open hearts. All too soon, however, it was desolated and closed by the sudden death of the head of the household, and with her two children Mrs. Dodge returned to the homestead, a large country house near Newark, New Jersey.

Here her life was mainly devoted to her children. She was not only their mother, but their comrade and friend. She entered into all their daily interests, their work and play; and as time went on she found herself obliged to provide the money for their education. It was for this purpose that she turned to writing.

A small cottage or farm-house which adjoined the orchard on her father’s estate was confiscated for use as a study, and Mrs, Dodge and her boys soon transformed it into a cozy “den.” In this simply furnished and quaint little abode, far enough away from the great house to insure quiet, she set to work in earnest. Fortunately, everything that she wrote was successful. The periodicals to which she sent even her earliest manuscripts accepted them all and eagerly asked for more,

After the publication in leading magazines of several essays and stories for grown-up readers, Mrs. Dodge brought out, in 1864, her first book— made up of short tales for children—under the title “Irvington Stories.” So great was its popularity that the publisher begged for a second series or a sequel. But Mrs. Dodge, meantime, had begun work upon a longer narrative. She was really improvising it as a “good-night story” for her boys “making it up as she went along,” as children say, From Motley’s histories and other books her mind was filled with admiration of the sturdy, heroic little nation which for centuries has held its own against the mightiest powers of Europe and a still mightier enemy—the sea. In the heat of kindled imagination she began to tell her children a story of life in Holland, weaving into it much interesting material from the history of that quaint and valiant country, which at that time she had never seen.

The subject grew more and more absorbing to her. She worked upon the manuscript from morning till night, and sought eagerly for every source of information which could make her pages more true to life or more entertaining to her readers. “She ransacked libraries, public and private, for books upon Holland; made
Professor James J. Mapes, Mrs. Dodge’s father.
every traveler whom she knew tell her his tale of that unique country; and submitted every chapter to the test of the criticism of two accomplished Hollanders living near her. It was the genius of patience and toil, the conscientious touching and retouching of the true artist, which wrought the seemingly spontaneous and simple task.”

From the day of its issue, “Hans Brinker” found multitudes of readers, and more copies of it are still sold every year than of the average newly-written juvenile story. Besides its large circulation in America, it has passed through several editions in England; has been published in French at Paris; in German at Leipsic; in Russian at St. Petersburg; and in Italian at Rome. The French Academy awarded it one of the Monthyon prizes of fifteen hundred francs. In Holland itself a Dutch translation has found a sale of many editions. By a curious coincidence, too, when Mrs. Dodge was in Amsterdam with her son in 1873, a copy of this Dutch edition was recommended to him by a bookseller as the best and most faithful juvenile story of Dutch life that was known in Holland. It was a pleasant experience for Mrs. Dodge when the boy, having purchased a copy, proudly presented it to her, repeating the bookseller’s comment, and confiding to him that she was the author of the story. To-day, in our own country and in all English-speaking lands, “Hans Brinker” is a veritable classic of juvenile literature. Even if Mrs. Dodge had done nothing more than to write this book, her place would be forever secure in the affection of child-readers.

But after bringing out, in 1869, a clever little book of home pastimes entitled “A Few Friends,” she accepted, in 1870, the position of associate editor of ‘Hearth and Home,” a weekly family paper, of which the editors were Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mr. Donald G. Mitchell. On this journal she took charge of the household and juvenile departments, and ere long Mrs. Dodge’s reputation as editor equaled that which she had already attained as author. The circulation of the periodical was greatly increased, and the department itself rapidly grew into a very prominent feature of the weekly issues. It was her work in this field which first attracted the attention of Dr. J. G. Holland and Mr. Roswell Smith when, early in the seventies, as directors of the company which now publishes “The Century Magazine,” they began to consider the publication of a new juvenile monthly. Their decision really hinged upon hers, for they were heartily ready to undertake the project provided they could obtain her consent to assume its management and become its editor.

Let it be confessed that she had other aims. Ambition tempted her. She was eager to try her hand at novel-writing. Her triumphs in juvenile literature had already exceeded her expectations; she longed for other fields to conquer. Thus her mind reasoned; but her heart—her heart turned again to thoughts of the children. Many gifted men and women were writing novels; no one was doing all that could be done—that ought to be done—for the boys and girls. Not without a pang of regret, but without further hesitation, she obeyed the call of duty. How clearly she heard, how faithfully she answered the cry of the children all the world knows to-day.

For thus it was that St. Nicholas was founded; and from the choice of its title and its first issue, in November, 1873, the best years of Mrs, Dodge’s life have been devoted to St. Nicholas.

Looking back upon it from the standpoint of to-day, what a vast performance it represents! In no wise can it be measured by the size or contents of the single magazine which the postman leaves every mouth at the door. It means twelve of these, each year, for more than thirty years. A complete set, in book-form, means fifty-eight large bound volumes, which would almost fill an ordinary book-case. But it means, also, such a golden treasury of stories, verses, pictures for boys and girls—such a children’s library in itself—as, in the form of a single publication, can be found nowhere else in the world.

We must remember, too, that at the time when St. Nicholas first appeared it was such an advance upon any preceding juvenile periodical that it might justly be called an absolutely new creation. A comparison of the best issues of “The Riverside Magazine” or “Our Young Folks” with the very first number of St. Nicholas showed at a glance the immeasurable superiority of the new magazine. From the first, Mrs. Dodge set herself to prove the truth of her own statement—

The child’s magazine must not be a milk-and-water variety of the periodical for adults, In fact, it needs to be stronger, truer, bolder, more uncompromising than the other; its cheer mast be the cheer of the bird-song; it must mean freshness and heartiness, life and joy. Therefore took to it that it be strong, warm, beautiful, and true. Most children of the present attend school. Their heads are strained and taxed with the day’s lessons. They do not want to be bothered nor amused or taught nor petted. They just want to have their own way over their own magazine. They want to enter the one place where they may come and go as they please, where they are not obliged to mind, or say “yes, ma’am”’ and “yes, sir,”— where, in short, they can live a brand-new, free life of their own for a little while, accepting acquaintances as they choose and turning their backs without ceremony upon what does not concern them. Of course they expect to pick up odd bits and treasures, and now and then to “drop in” familiarly at an air-castle, or step over to fairyland. A child’s magazine is its playground.

Even with the opening issues, the child-readers of the country recognized that they had come into their own at last. It was the aim of both editor and publishers to produce the most beautiful and entertaining periodical for youth which it was possible to create. Mrs. Dodge was at her prime, and she made the magazine a marvel of inventiveness and youthful jollity; of absorbing stories, helpful articles, and historical sketches; of nonsense verse and genuine poetry—a rich mine, in short, of entertaining reading fitted with wonderful skill to the tastes and the wholesome development of the boys and girls, And all her conscientious labor was heartily seconded by her generous publishers. As Mrs. Dodge has said of him, Mr. Roswell Smith, the founder of the magazine, was “ambitious for the work in hand, rather than for himself. He counted no cost too great for the carrying out of a plan; and the success of St. Nicholas has rested upon his energy and liberality.” In her editorial work, also, she was fortunate in having capable and devoted assistants who shared her own enthusiasm for the magazine and its readers. The work was never drudgery to her nor to them. Her ardent zeal, keen wit, and tireless invention brightened with zest the dullest hour and the hardest task. Winter or summer, her spirits were unflagging, her powers always mettlesome and ready, Her mind teemed with ideas, Many a time, to fill a page or two in St. Nicholas, she has written, at white heat and while the presses were waiting, contributions in prose and verse that are now household favorites in the land.

An incident connected with her editorial career on “Hearth and Home” illustrates the spirit which always animated her. A happy idea came to her that would, she knew, greatly improve the number of the paper just then going to press. But—it involved a change of many pages, the rewriting of almost the entire contents of her department, and—the presses were waiting. A consultation was quickly held; the project was outlined and was promptly declared by all to be an inspiration, Bur could it be carried out in time? A half-hour went by in discussion; and then the decision was gently broken to Mrs, Dodge in the words “It is impossible. We are very sorry, but it is impossible.”

“Yes, I know. It is impossible. of course. But let’s do it, just the same! Why not?” was the quick, inspiring reply; and it was done—to the final enthusiastic admiration of all concerned.

What she attempted, she performed. There was no emergency, great or small, to which she was not equal; there was no Hill of Difficulty which she did not easily climb; for she believed with Emerson that “difficulties exist to be surmounted.”

Perhaps it is not too much to say that with the advent of St. Nicholas the Children’s Age began. Assuredly, nothing to compare with it had ever been known before. In proof of this, let us quote from a recent issue of the New York “Evening Post” this cordial recognition of what the magazine did in those days:

In that golden era the St. Nicholas published several of Trowbridge’s best tales, “The Young Surveyor” and others of the “Jack Hazard” series; Noah Brooks’s “Boy Emigrants,” Miss Alcott’s “Eight Cousins,” and some of the wittiest and most whimsical of Frank R. Stockton’s short sketches. Surely that is a noble muster-roll. Graybeards of forty will testify to the eagerness with which they awaited the mail that brought the St. Nicholas, to the gusto with which they plunged into. the fresh instalment of Trowbridge or Miss Alcott, to the earnestness with which they begged to sit up a little later that night, and to the bright, troubled dreams in which they lived over the fascinating adventures. But in a day or two the magazine had been read from cover to cover, including the alluring advertisements of bargains in foreign stamps and jig-saws; and twenty-eight long days stretched away before the next issue,

“Are n’t you going to ask me to write for St. Nicholas?” asked Mr. Rudyard Kipling, when he met Dodge for the first time.

“I am not sure that you can! Do you think you are equal to it?” was the bantering reply, to which he quickly answered:

“Oh, but I must and shall! for my sister and I used to scramble for St. Nicholas every month, when I was a kid.”

How gloriously he redeemed his vow and earned the lasting gratitude of the St. Nicholas editor and readers is indeed a cause of congratulation not only to the magazine but to the world. For a few weeks later, at Mrs. Dodge’s home, he outlined the wonderful stories of little “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and “Toomai of the Elephants,” and her joy may be imagined, as these were the first two of the famous “Jungle Stories” which were written especially for this magazine. The incident illustrates, however, Mrs. Dodge’s editorial gift of enlisting great writers in the service of children and of getting from each of them his or her best. She had always the fitting word for every occasion, and her wide and intimate acquaintance with the greatest writers of the time was made to contribute to the benefit of the eager-minded boys and girls, It was through her personal friendship with William Cullen Bryant, Henry W. Longfellow, and John G. Whittier that those distinguished poets became frequent contributors to St. Nicholas. But she had also the gift of inspiring all contributors with her own zeal in behalf of her beloved army of child-readers, and it was invariably in their name, and not for her own sake, that she made her appeal, as this extract from a letter to her good friend Mr. Whittier will testify:

Dear Mr. Whittier: I cannot help hoping that among your unwritten poems there may be some song or story for children—some Christmas thought or some personal reminiscence of a sleigh-ride or boyish coasting—in short, a legend or something from school-life, home-life, or thought-life that you may feel like giving to the children. If so, thousands upon thousands of them will be glad—and so will we editors be—and so will you be, for I know you truly enjoy making others happy.

The gentle poet responded a characteristic story in verse.

Even Lord Tennyson was persuaded by an irresistible letter to contribute the two exquisite child-songs which appeared in St. Nicholas in 1880. There is little doubt that personal friendship—the authors’ liking for Mrs. Dodge as well as for the magazine—helped to secure for St. Nicholas such serials as Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “Little Lord Fauntleroy,” the most popular juvenile story of its day, and in due time, with Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer Abroad”; besides notable single contributions by leading writers, including President Roosevelt, John Hay, Bret Harte, Mrs, Oliphant, Mary E. Wilkins, W. D. Howells, Edmund Clarence Stedman, Bayard Taylor, George W. Cable, John Burroughs, Frank R. Stockton, Charles Dudley Warner, and other authors of equal reputation.

Who shall measure the benefit which she thus conferred upon the boys and girls of America and upon their parents?

But, after all, this was only the lesser part of the service which she rendered. Far greater than any contribution or set of contributions to the magazine, was the patient, ceaseless, ardent attention which the editor herself bestowed upon its pages, and the conscientious, unremitting thoroughness of her work upon it from month to month and year to year.

No mention of Mrs. Dodge’s editorial lite would be complete without reference to the department which was her own especial joy and pride—though, all too modestly, she never even acknowledged its authorship. What reader of the early volumes of St. Nicholas will ever forget the famous “Jack-in-the-Pulpit,” the inimitably wise and witty little preacher whose tiny discourses of the keenest sense and most inspiriting nonsense—sometimes uttered from the “pulpit” direct, and at others through the blithe “Little School-ma’am” or good “Deacon Green”—were a feast for the minds and souls of young folks every month? It is no betrayal of a confidence, now, to reveal that Mrs. Dodge was herself “Jack-in-the-Pulpit,” “Deacon Green,” and the “Little School-ma’am” all in one. These were very actual and charming personages, however, to the boys and girls of that time. Like Shakspere’s characters to children of a larger growth, they were quite as “real” as many of the living, breathing folk whose voices we hear and whose hands we touch. There was never so delightful a department for young readers as “Jack-in-the-Pulpit,” nor one so endeared by matchless wit and wisdom to every youthful heart.

As if the heavy and steadily recurring tasks of editorial work were not enough, Mrs. Dodge found time, in the intervals of her busy life, to publish, in the year 1874, her famous “Rhymes and Jingles”; in 1877, a book of essays and short stories entitled “Theophilus and Others”; and in 1879 a collection of poems and verses for grown-up readers, entitled “Along the Way.”

From the first issue the success of “Rhymes and Jingles” was almost as great as that of “Hans Brinker.” Their keen wit and frolicsome jollity, their cleverness and pith and point, had an irresistible charm tor youngsters, who delighted in the nonsense-verses and jingles, declaring them “every bit as good as ‘Mother Goose’”; while parents found many pieces useful as sermonettes for the nursery. Many a child has been shamed out of the crying habit by the story of “Whimpy, Little Whimpy” who

“cried so much one day
That his mother could n’t stand it
And his father ran away.”

And there are hundreds of like rhymes which are equally familiar to every St. Nicholas boy or girl, for Mrs. Dodge continued to write delightful verses for the magazine long after “Rhymes and Jingles” was published as a book, Nor were they all mere clever jingles of words, or rhymes with a moral. In many of them there was genuine poetry and a fine lyric quality. The music-book “St. Nicholas Songs” gives ample evidence of this, for more than a third of all the text in the volume was written by Mrs. Dodge.

“Theophilus and Others” was a book of stories and sketches for grown people. Among its contents were a remarkably clever satire, “The Insanity of Cain,” which at once attracted wide notice, and that mirth-provoking comicality in Irish dialect “Miss Maloney on the Chinese Question.” This skit—well worthy to rank with Bret Harte’s “Heathen Chinee”—had an enormous popularity in its day, and has since been included in almost every collection of humorous masterpieces. It was written in a single evening, to fill a blank space in a magazine, Charlotte Cushman immediately gave it a place of honor in her public readings as one of her favorite selections, and sending for its author asked her to write a companion-piece. A long and warm friendship between the two distinguished women dated from this interview.

With her usual modesty, Mrs, Dodge would not dignify her volume of verse by the name of “poems,” preferring the simple title of “Along the Way.” But, as one critic said of it at the time, “It is a happy thing for those of us who do not walk such ways to have her show us what may there be seen.” Only last year Mrs. Dodge was persuaded to issue a new edition of this work, under the title “Poems and Verses.” Throughout, it shows sincerity of poetic feeling; a rich imagination; a genuine love of nature; and a happy serenity of heart. “Enfoldings,” the sonnet on “The Stars,” “Inverted,” “The Two Mysteries,” and not a few other pieces are poems indeed—poems that the world will not willingly let die. They have found their way already into various Anthologies of Poetry, whose editors—some of them distinguished critics—are quite willing to call them poems, even if their author was not.

In 1882 Mrs. Dodge wrote as a serial for St. Nicholas her well-known “Donald and Dorothy,” the narrative of a boy’s chivalrous love for his sister. This was one of her favorites among her books, and it is still one of the most popular of children’s stories in the book-stores and libraries. It has an original and absorbing plot and a full share of the author’s rich humor. In description and character-drawing, it quite equals “Hans Brinker.” So alluringly were the brother and sister depicted that in many families throughout the land there are living Donalds and Dorothys who were named after the hero and heroine of Mrs. Dodge’s noble story.

Tn 1894. she brought out two other books: “The Land of Pluck,” a collection of sketches and stories which takes its name from the opening article about Holland, and “When Life is Young,” a collection of her later verses for children. The first of these ought to be read by every lover of “Hans Brinker,” for it adds many new and fresh pictures of Dutch life to those which the earlier book presented; while the volume of verses opens with her well-known poem “The Minuet,” and contains many other favorite pieces. Both books have won the heartiest praise from critics, and a very large audience among young readers. With “Poems and Verses,” already mentioned, these complete a list of seven books which Mrs. Dodge has published during her editorial career—truly a remarkable showing, considering the pressure and exactions of her extremely busy life. And, in addition, she compiled from the volumes of the magazine, with most conscientious care and skill, two famous nursery-books for very little folk, entitled “Baby Days" and “Baby World,” which in their special field never have been equaled in merit or popularity.

The “Hans Brinker” occurrence in the Holland book-store was matched by several
Mrs. Dodge at about the time when she became editor of “St. Nicholas.”
like incidents. During a conversation which had turned upon the many varieties of dialect in the British Isles, Mrs. Dodge once asked a distinguished general of the Civil War—a courtly, well-read gentleman of Irish ancestry—where she could find a piece of genuine and accurate Irish dialect. He replied: “Why, I happen to have one in my pocket. It is simply perfect”; and, to her astonishment, he drew forth her own “Miss Maloney on the Chinese Question.”

“But you are jesting,” she said. “You know who wrote that.”

“No,” he answered. “I clipped it from a newspaper, as you see, and the author's name is not given.”

“But—I wrote it,” said Mrs. Dodge.

You wrote it!” exclaimed the general, in amazement. “Surely you are jesting!”

When she took down a copy of “Theophilus and Others” and turned to the page containing “Miss Maloney,” he laughed heartily and said, with a touch of blarney: “Well, even if you did write it, it is just what you asked me for—a bit of perfect Irish dialect.”

Again at a certain evening reception at Mrs. Dodge’s home it chanced that a well-known singer gave as an encore a musical setting of the little poem “Snow-Flakes.” After the applause had subsided, another guest said to the singer, “Your choice of ‘Snow-Flakes’ was a pretty compliment to Mrs. Dodge.”

“In what way, please?—I don’t understand.”

“Why, you know she wrote the words,” was the reply.

“Oh, pardon me,” said the singer; “the verses were written by Longfellow. See, here it is, in print, upon the music: ‘Words by Henry W. Longfellow.’”

“But Mrs. Dodge wrote it, nevertheless; it is the music-publisher who is mistaken. I will show you the verses themselves in “Along the Way.”

Without waiting for this, the singer hurried to her hostess, and asked eagerly, “Oh, Mrs. Dodge, did you really write ‘Snow-Flakes’?”

“For poor Mr. Longfellow’s sake, I must confess that I did!” was the answer. “But in the latest edition of the song, I am glad to say, justice has been done to Mr. Longfellow and my name appears in place of his.”

On another and a sadder occasion, Mrs. Dodge called upon a dear friend who had recently suffered a sore bereavement, and who said to her visitor, in response to a word of earnest sympathy, “I have received, to-day, a little poem which has brought me more comfort than anything else. A friend cut it from a newspaper and sent it to me”; and, to Mrs. Dodge's surprise, she began to read “The Two Mysteries.” It must have been a still dearer solace for the mourner when she learned that the tender hand which was then resting upon hers had penned the poem.

A great many others have treasured and loved these consoling stanzas without knowing who wrote them, When they were originally published in October, 1876, it was the custom of magazines to print the names of the authors of contributions in the table of contents only. For this reason, no doubt, the verses were widely copied by the newspapers of the time with noname signed to them. Moreover, they have been many times credited to Walt Whitman, because of the incident narrated in the head-note in connection with that well-known poet. Of course, that incident did suggest the form and phrasing of the lines. But Walt Whitman himself and his literary executors have repeatedly corrected the mistake which ascribed it to him, and have made it clear that Mrs. Dodge, and not he, had written this inspired and lofty poem.

In her personality, Mrs. Dodge was one of the most lovely and lovable of women. There was in her face a higher quality than what the world calls beauty. As her pictures show, she had a fair and noble countenance, but the first and the most lasting impression which she made was that of a singular radiance and cheer.

Mr. Frank R. Stockton used to relate quietly, but with a twinkle of the eye, a story of his first meeting with Mrs. Dodge. From the fact that she was “a writer and editor for little folks,” he had conceived an ideal of her as “a tall, spare, angular woman, very old-maidish in appearance, with a Maria Edgeworth type of face, spectacles at her eyes, and little round curls dangling in front of her ears.” When, therefore, on entering her sanctum in the office of “Hearth and Home,” he was greeted warmly, as he has often said, by “one of the most attractive and brilliant women he had ever seen,” aglow with enthusiasm and wit, he was surprised almost to the point of embarrassment. It is needless to say that it was a fortunate meeting for both, and the beginning of a long association in which they were the happiest and heartiest of co-workers. Mr. Stockton soon joined the editorial staff of “Hearth and Home”; when Mrs. Dodge took charge of the new magazine, St. Nicholas, he accepted at her request the position of assistant editor, which he retained for several years; and until the close of his life each of these two favorite writers for children had no better friend than the other.

At the varied social gatherings which she enjoyed in those days—whether in homes of affluence or in the studios of artistic and literary workers—Mrs. Dodge was eagerly sought and welcomed for her infectious gaiety, the felicitous surprises of her conversation, her sincerity, kindliness, and good will. During her later years repeated illnesses lessened her activities, both social and literary, but they could not chill her joyous spirit nor her warmth of nature. Even when far from well, she could rarely forego the pleasure of welcoming her friends to her home, in one of the large apartment-buildings overlooking Central Park. Within the spacious rooms, her artistic tastes, rare sense of color, and love of elegance and refinement were reflected in the rugs and the antique furniture, the soft lights, and the family portraits on the walls. On one evening of each week, she was “at home” to a little coterie of special friends and cronies whose affection was very dear to her. She always counted upon these “little evenings,” as she called them, which will be ever memorable to those who had the privilege of sharing in them, She was an ideal hostess, whose face shone with the happiness of seeing others happy. The hospitality was of the simplest. There was no formality in these friendly gatherings, but only the most homelike feeling and camaraderie. She was always their central figure, and the charm of her personality was their dominant joy. Without her, they could not have been.

A memorable chapter in Mrs. Dodge’s life began with her purchase, in 1888, of a cottage in the summer colony at Onteora Park, in the Catskill Mountains. In the beginning it was a simple little square frame-house, and Mrs. Dodge took great delight in adding, year by year, a room or a veranda, a bay-window or an extension, until she erected, at last, a quaint, many-gabled home, to which, each season, she joyfully returned. Nestling upon the slope of Onteora Mountain, it faced two lofty summits toward the east; while to the right stretched the beautiful blue gaps and summits of the South Range. Her cottage she named “Yarrow,” from the masses of that little wild-flower which grew close about its doors, and over the fireplace were inscribed as a motto Wordsworth’s well- known lines:

Enough if in our hearts we know
There ’s such a place as Yarrow.”

It was a rambling, rustic home, unpretentious enough—for simplicity was always one of Mrs.

“Yarrow” cottage, Mrs. Dodge’s summer home at Onteora, New York.

Dodge’s chosen virtues, and simplicity reigned without and within. But she loved the cozy rooms with their quaint corners, the fire upon the hearth, and the view, from the veranda, of the green, wooded slopes and the towering blue hills beyond. Here she dwelt, summer after summer, in sweet content; in love with Nature and her little home, and yet more in love with her fellow-colonists—many of them dear and old-time friends whose cottages neighbored her own or made delightful Meccas for her in her drives about the mountain.

Yor Onteora had cast its spell, not only upon writers, but upon leading artists, players, and men of the first rank in their professions, who had found themselves lured to congenial association within its leafy byways. Thus, during one or another happy summer, the veranda of “Yarrow” echoed to merry laughter when Mark Twain, Laurence Hutton, Rev. Dr. R. Heber Newton, Carroll Beckwith, or Brander Matthews—fellow-cottagers all—dropped in, with jest or story, and found their own wits sharpened ere they left. Jere, too, it was a joy to see Mrs. Dodge’s unconscious pride in her elder son, James Mapes Dodge, who, not content with carrying the family genius for inven-tion to new heights of recognition, is-also a marvelous entertainer, telling stories as only he—and possibly his distinguished grandfather—could tell them. Here, again, came her neighbor, “Lady Babbie” herself, the sweet and gracious Maude Adams, with a posy of old-fashioned flowers from her own garden. Here John Burroughs, from the rustic balustrade of “Yarrow,” introduced to his hostess the most unfamiliar of her other loved neighbors,—the birds,— naming each as it perched near or flitted by. Hither her most intimate and cherished friend of many years, Mrs. Lucia Gilbert Runkle, and the well-beloved Miss Sarah C. Woolsey, Mrs. Candace Wheeler, Mrs. Ruth McEnery Stuart, Mrs. Elizabeth B. Custer, brought the sunshine of their presence, and brightened her days as she had brightened theirs. And hither, during her last illness, thronged her other Onteora friends—men and women of generous and gentle hearts—with all manner of neighborly kindnesses and messages of homage and affection.

It is a consoling thought that, when the final summons came, it found her in this peaceful home, where loving hands and hearts ministered to her to the last.

The simple funeral services were held in the Onteora Church, on Wednesday, August 23d. They included the singing of the hymns “Lead, Kindly Light” and “Abide With Me,” The service, read by Rev. Henry Charles Stone, the resident clergyman, was followed by the reading of Mrs. Dodge’s own poem, “The Two Mysteries”—the poem that, for so many, has shed a clear light where the way was dark. For her who wrote them, the childlike faith which inspired the lines had always illumined the Valley of the Shadow. “I had to give up one of my boys,” she once said, and added, in the same tender tone: “but I don’t think God feels about death as we do.”

A beautiful and touching tribute was offered by the children of Onteora, who preceded all that was mortal of their friend down the woodland way to the church, and, on the return of the funeral procession, carried reverently in their hands some of the floral offerings with which affection had beautified the chancel. For one of these—a great cross of yarrow —the children had gathered the blooms; and next day at the private interment, this cross was laid as a fitting remembrance, upon Mrs. Dodge’s grave in Evergreen Cemetery, near Elizabeth, New Jersey.

It is sad indeed to record her death in the magazine which was her life-work and her greatest pride for so many years. Her unfailing gentleness and courtesy endeared her to all those who were associated with her in her editorial tasks. Each of them remembers with tender gratitude many a special act of kindness, a word of help or warm encouragement fitly spoken; a letter of good cheer or of earnest praise. No one ever came really to know Mrs. Dodge without being better and happier for it—and the impression which she made was strengthened by closer acquaintance. As intimacy grew, so did admiration, She was always greatest to those who knew her best.

Mrs. Dodge would have been the last to claim the entire credit for the success of St. Nicholas. Every magazine is, of course, the work of many minds and many hands. No one more promptly or willingly acknowledged how much St. Nicholas owed to the business energy and foresight of its publishers, and to the diligence and devotion of her editorial associates. No one gave heartier recognition to the generous coöperation of its contributors and artists. The editorial authority was hers, but she trusted her assistants more and more with the actual making of the magazine; and in her later years she had, of necessity, to depend upon them more and more as she gradually withdrew from active management.

In one sense, she neither will nor can have any successor. But the work which she established and directed so ably will be continued, and will endure, a source of pleasure and of benefit to thousands, adapting itself to new conditions as they arise, and fulfilling—or even enlarging, let us hope—its mission and its influence.

To have sent out into the world a story that is a classic of juvenile literature, and unnumbered verses that have gone straight to the heart of childhood with joy and innocent laugh-ter; to have created the best of magazines for children, and to have made it vital with the best thought and fancy of the time; to have written poems which touch the soul to a new love of beauty and a stronger faith in God—many a writer would be proud to have achieved any one of these successes, She achieved them all, and with seeming ease. But the reason is not far to seek; for what she did was merely the expression of what she was. All that she wrote and accomplished was as natural as the fruit upon the bough or the blossom on the stem. It was but the flowering of a royal nature—of noble gifts patiently and faithfully used for noble ends.

Her best memorial is already builded by her own life-work, for the volumes of St. Nicholas and the copies of her books that are to be found in thousands of homes to-day will never lie dust-covered, but will continue to gladden the family life, and to inspire a love for goodness, truth, and beauty in the hearts of those who are to come after us. It is given to few to exercise so far-reaching an influence upon young minds, and thus upon the future of the nation. She left the world not only happier, but better than she found it. Few lives have been more worthy and high-minded, more useful and successful, more devoted and unselfish. Perhaps it was a part of her recompense that she retained to the last the charm of inexhaustible youth—the radiance of the morning-time of life. Through all her cares, responsibilities, and sorrows, as through all her laureled years of triumph and success, her heart was as the heart of a little child.
William Fayal Clarke.