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A New England girlhood, outlined from memory (Beve

Produced by Susan L. Farley. HTML version by Al Haines.

Project Gutenberg/Make a Difference Day Project 1999.

A NEW ENGLAND GIRLHOOD

OUTLINED FROM MEMORY

By

LUCY LARCOM

I dedicated this sketch To my girlfriends in general; And in particular To my namesake-niece, Lucy Larcom Spaulding.

Happy those early days, when I Shined in my angel-infancy! --When on some gilded cloud or flower My gazing soul would dwell an hour, And in those weaker glories spy Some shadows of eternity:-- Before I taught my tongue to wound My conscience by a sinful sound;-- But felt through all this fleshy dress Bright shoots of everlastingness.

HENRY VAUGHAN

The thought of our past years in me doth breed Perpetual benediction.

WORDSWORTH

PREFACE

THE following sketch was written for the young, at the suggestion of friends.

My audience is understood to be composed of girls of all ages, and of women who have not forgotten their girlhood. Such as have a friendly appreciation of girls--and of those who write for them--are also welcome to listen to as much of my narrative as they choose. All others are eavesdroppers, and, of course, have no right to criticise.

To many, the word "autobiography" implies nothing but conceit and egotism. But these are not necessarily its characteristics. If an apple blossom or a ripe apple could tell its own story, it would be, still more than its own, the story of the sunshine that smiled upon it, of the winds that whispered to it, of the birds that sang around it, of the storms that visited it, and of the motherly tree that held it and fed it until its petals were unfolded and its form developed.

A complete autobiography would indeed be a picture of the outer and inner universe photographed upon one little life's consciousness. For does not the whole world, seen and unseen go to the making up of every human being? The commonest personal history has its value when it is looked at as a part of the One Infinite Life. Our life--which is the very best thing we have--is ours only that we may share it with Our Father's family, at their need. If we have anything, within us worth giving away, to withhold it is ungenerous; and we cannot look honestly into ourselves without acknowledging with humility our debt to the lives around us for whatever of power or beauty has been poured into ours.

None of us can think of ourselves as entirely separate beings. Even an autobiographer has to say "we" much oftener than "I." Indeed, there may be more egotism in withdrawing mysteriously into one's self, than in frankly unfolding one's life--story, for better or worse. There may be more vanity in covering, one's face with a veil, to be wondered at and guessed about, than in drawing it aside, and saying by that act, "There! you see that I am nothing remarkable."


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