Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

I am grateful to the many individuals and institutions that have supported the preparation of this edition. The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey generously provided a semester sabbatical, a Research and Professional Development grant, and Provost Opportunity grants...

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Editor’s Introduction

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pp. ix-xlii

In the preface to her final novel, Married or Single?, published in 1857, Catharine Maria Sedgwick declared that her latest work had an ambitious goal: to change American attitudes about single women, from ridicule to respect. Having spent decades in the spotlight as a celebrated...

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A Note on the Text

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pp. xliii-4

Married or Single? was published in two volumes in July of 1857, the first by Harper and Brothers in New York and the second by Knight and Son in London. A second edition was printed by Harper and Brothers in 1858. A revised edition based on the London copy was published in...

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Preface

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pp. 5-8

The want of an innocent occupation may be reason enough why one should write, but some better reason or a plausible apology should be rendered for inflicting the writing upon the public; for if the public, in the large sense, is not obliged to read, there is a small public of kind...

Volume I

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Chapter I

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pp. 11-41

Two sisters were sitting, one evening, in their small private library, adjoining their sleeping apartment, in their step-mother’s house, in a fashionable quarter of New York. It matters not in what year, for though this their history makes great pretension to veritableness, it pays no...

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Chapter II

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pp. 42-48

We reckon the hours made happy by the presence of some people. Does it ever occur to us to reckon those made happy by the absence of some other people? On the evening after the reading of the old letters, Eleanor and her sister were sitting together in Mrs. Herbert’s drawing-room...

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Chapter III

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pp. 49-53

Let us look into the apartment of a young lawyer preparing his first great case. The room is in the upper story of a lodging-house, comfortable and respectable, but without pretension to style or luxury of any sort. There is a forgotten fire in the grate, that, thanks to the enduring...

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Chapter IV

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pp. 54-58

Grace Herbert had not seen Archibald Lisle since the memorable day when he enacted second part to Goldsmith’s bashful man.² His blunders on that occasion had faded from her mind, while they had left an open wound in his memory, and it was that, much more than the failure...

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Chapter V

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pp. 59-64

It is always a surprising, but a no less comfortable fact in human life, that no sooner does an event become inevitable, than all the hopes and projects that hung upon its decision are subdued to acquiescence. The mariner goes down calmly in the ship from which there is no deliverance...

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Chapter VI

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pp. 65-76

Mrs. Herbert’s family were punctual church-goers, and none of them wandered from their own fold excepting Grace. She sometimes strayed away to hear an eloquent preacher, or fine music, to her more eloquent; or to lend her imagination to the ritual of the elder church. Of late, she...

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Chapter VII

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pp. 77-83

The closest friendship of Lisle’s youth was with Arthur Clifford, his classmate. This young man died in the midst of his college career, leaving to his contemporary students a memory to be loved and honored to the end of their lives; and leaving his mother’s friendship to Archibald...

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Chapter VIII

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pp. 84-89

In the attic room of a crowded tenement, in an obscure but decent quarter of our great city, sat a middle- aged man, working at the jeweler’s trade, ill provided with the means and appliances of his craft, but working ingeniously, and by fits, with almost supernatural rapidity and effect. One...

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Chapter IX

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pp. 90-97

“I come to you for advice, Mr. Lisle,” said the agent of a rich landlord to Archibald. “One of our tenants is refractory.² I think the man is half crazy; he has been punctual till last quarter-day, but now he has thrown up work, and I doubt if he ever works again. I hate to be harsh with...

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Chapter X

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pp. 98-110

Martha Young, with the common feeling that a lawyer’s pen has some latent magic, had sought Lisle, in the hope that a letter he should write might reach Jessie’s mother when all she had heretofore sent had failed. Turning, sorely disappointed, from his door, she next sought...

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Chapter XI

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pp. 111-117

Spring-lane is one of those secluded, winding roads, just wide enough for the passing of two carriages, that adorn the vicinity of Boston. The hand of “improvement,” reckless of beauty, and blind to nature, has yet spared it; and it is still fenced on each side with an impervious hedge...

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Chapter XII

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pp. 118-126

The moon that had lit the last nights of Archibald’s homeward voyage shone on him and Letty, as they sat on the porch of his father’s house, on the evening after his funeral.
“I was struck with the change in my father, when first I saw him,” said Archibald. “Not only had he...

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Chapter XIII

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pp. 127-135

More than four years have glided away since Eleanor’s marriage, and she is now a matron of six-and-twenty. She had experienced the transition, common in the happiest married relation, from adoration to friendship—passed from the tropics to the temperate zone, a passage that often chills...

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Chapter XIV

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pp. 136-153

Grace Herbert was in a false position in our American Paris. Happy those who find their right one anywhere! A creature of her rare gifts was about as well adapted to the fashionable world of New York, as a first-rate ship would be to the artificial lake of a pleasure-ground. In...

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Chapter XV

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pp. 154-168

Of the many discords of domestic life, those that proceed from uncongeniality are most common.
Grace Herbert and her step-mother never quarreled, neither did they bespatter their lives with bickerings; they were both too well-bred, but they had no sympathy, and therefore no...

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Chapter XVI

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pp. 169-189

Grace entered Mrs. Herbert’s drawing-room, dressed for Mrs. Seton’s ball, just as her uncle was rising from a prolonged game of picquet² with her step-mother. He turned his delighted eyes upon his niece, and commended her dress. It was of white crape, decorated only with a wreath...

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Chapter XVII

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pp. 190-196

The pursuit of Grace Herbert was the present business of Horace Copley’s life; he had set upon it the force of an unbending and relentless will. But there were interesting episodes in this pursuit; bowery and fragrant nooks on a perplexed and obstructed road. He had turned toward...

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Chapter XVIII

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pp. 197-204

“All other interests are superseded just now by the alarming illness of Eleanor’s boy—her only boy. His illness has come suddenly. But yesterday, he seemed to stand on the hill- top of life, radiant with the rosy tints of morning, casting down into many hearts the hopes...

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Chapter XIX

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pp. 205-211

There was no bitterness in Eleanor’s affliction—no dregs in her sorrow. For years to come there must be a burning about her heart, and a moistening of her eye, when her thoughts turned to the lost boy who had left a life-long aching vacancy in her home that no other child could fill...

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Chapter XX

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pp. 212-220

When Grace returned from the funeral at her sister’s house to her own home, Mrs. Herbert, after little a-hem-ing, said, “Grace, I wish to consult you—or rather, I wished to say to you that I hope and trust Eleanor’s feelings will not be wounded by Anne not putting on mourning.” Grace...

Volume II

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Chapter I

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pp. 223-235

Miss Herbert went in, on her way to her sister’s, to Steinberg’s musicshop. He was not there. The door was ajar that communicated with a little inner parlor; and while she was tossing over some sheets of music on the counter, she heard voices. One was cheerful, and familiar; the...

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Chapter II

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pp. 236-248

On the banks of the Hudson river, on one of the old roads not yet absorbed into a broad and numbered avenue, was a farm-house on a property called “Blossom Farm.” The house stood under a bluff overlooking the river and the Palisades. It was completely screened, winter and summer...

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Chapter III

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pp. 249-257

The Esterlys, returned to their home, are at breakfast in the sunny room where all the home-breakfasts of their married life had been eaten. The beginning of each day has a flavor of youth. Each morning, as in Paradise, “heaven wakes with all his eyes”;² and what happier scene do they...

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Chapter IV

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pp. 258-266

If our readers have not forgotten our humble little friend, Letty, they will be glad to know that if she had not conquered her love, she had mastered herself. No thought, bidden or unbidden, no vagrant fancy now blended her future with Lisle’s. He had become her earthly providence...

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Chapter V

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pp. 267-274

There are tides in the affairs of men; tides so strong as to sweep every obstruction away and bear down every opposing force. Circumstances had of late been auspicious to Copley, and the object that for years he had pursued with unwavering determination, was within his grasp. The...

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Chapter VI

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pp. 275-288

It was a significant circumstance that Grace did not communicate to one of her friends, not even to her dear Uncle Walter, her engagement by word of mouth. Was it that she instinctively avoided the truth that flashes from the face before the soul is shrouded in plastic words and...

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Chapter VII

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pp. 289-305

Grace had eagerly escaped from Mrs. Herbert’s forced politeness, Miss Anne’s sulkiness, and, above all, from her dear uncle’s pathetic countenance, and passed the interim of her lover’s absence with her sister at Harlem; where, in her obscure dwelling, she realized that home is...

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Chapter VIII

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pp. 306-314

It was just at the close of day, a soft, showery April day, that the body which had invested Letty’s sweet spirit was let softly down into its mother earth. The sun sent its slanting beams athwart the turf, jeweled by the shower, and checkered by the shadows of an old oak that...

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Chapter IX

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pp. 315-323

True to his dinner hour, six o’clock, Walter Herbert was slowly mounting the steps to his sister-in-law’s house, with that heavy-heartedness one feels when there is no face within the door one cares to see, no voice one cares to hear. “This house is a tomb to me,” he murmured—old...

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Chapter X

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pp. 324-334

By the liberal use of those appliances which do the work in our actual life, of wishing-caps and talismanic-rings in Eastern story, Alice procured, through the turnkey, that unspeakable consolation to lads of twenty and thereabouts—a good supper; and when her brother had...

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Chapter XI

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pp. 335-339

“Beautiful is the light and pleasant to behold!”² and never did it seem to Alice so beautiful, so pleasant to behold, as when, brightening the world, it stole slowly and dimly into her cell. The little doers of evil deeds had shrunk away into darkness; and yet she waited, and listened...

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Chapter XII

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pp. 340-350

After getting his bail accepted for Max Clifford, Archibald sent him to his sister, while he went to the house of Gilmore’s father, in the hope of eliciting something that might be available to Max’s defence. Mr. Gilmore’s residence was in a fashionable street, and in one of those...

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Chapter XIII

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pp. 351-358

Occupation, that mighty helper, and consolation of life, and the best occupation, thought, feeling, and doing for others, had been Grace’s friend in need. The few last days had been divided between her ministry to Augusta Tallis, and her solacing companionship with Alice. In a...

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Chapter XIV

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pp. 359-366

Mapleton is, or was—our to-days are very unlike our yesterdays—a secluded village in New England. It lies in a hill and lake country with intervening valleys and meadows that are enriched by the spring freshets with alluvial soil. A railroad now skirts the valley, but at the epoch...

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Chapter XV

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pp. 367-374

When the breakfast-bell rang the next morning, and while the family were assembling, Alice brought in her arms into the breakfast-room a pale, sickly child, and seated her between her mother and herself. The little girl had rather a pleasing face, but spiritless, except for her large...

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Chapter XVI

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pp. 375-385

Grace was sitting by a table with her open portfolio upon it, and a pencil in her hand; and so she had been sitting for a half hour without making a stroke with it, and lost in a reverie, when Lisle joined her. Whether her start and the blush that suffused her cheek as he entered, indicated...

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Chapter XVII

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pp. 386-397

Those are said to be the happiest days of our lives of which there is least to record. Least, perhaps, to be published, but not least to be cherished in grateful remembrance. Who counts the drops that compose the shower which sustains the vitality of nature? And who sets down...

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Chapter XVIII

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pp. 398-401

We return to poor Amy. The humblest have their own world of day and night, sunshine and storm. Amy had gone on quietly with her duties since her encounter with her father at the mill. Conscious that her anxieties implied distrust of her father, she buried them in her own bosom...

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Chapter XIX

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pp. 402-406

A change had come over Alice from the hour she had inspected the newspaper over Lisle’s shoulder. This change was obvious to all her family, but by none referred to the right moment, or traced to the true cause. She had been so uniformly sparkling with vivacity since Grace’s...

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Chapter XX

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pp. 407-418

Our friends were proceeding on their walk through the village street, embowered with sugar-maples and far-stretching elms, and sweet with the thousand flowers that were exhaling heavenward in delicious incense the showers that had poured on them at mid-day when they...

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Chapter XXI

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pp. 419-425

In the open-door life of Mapleton it was soon known that Alice Clifford was at the mill on the evening of the explosion. Consequently half the street (as Seymour would have worded it) poured into Mrs. Clifford’s the next morning to get an explanation of what (as Seymour said...

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Chapter XXII

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pp. 426-432

When Grace went to her room after the eventful walk to Prospect Hill, she found a letter from her sister on her table. Eleanor wrote as follows:
“My Dear Grace:—
“Uncle Walter came home yesterday; for home, my house is to be to him henceforth, unless you steal him from me. The children...

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Chapter XXIII

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pp. 433-443

The moral atmosphere that surrounded our friends at Mapleton during the two days that followed the explosion of the mill, might be fairly typified by what in vulgar parlance is termed a “dry storm”; when the wind stands due east, and does “stand,” not a whiff stirring to relieve...

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Chapter XXIV

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pp. 444-454

It was not till after a night of meditation and prayer, and its blessed sequence, sweet sleep, that Mrs. Clifford was able to appear with serenity before her family. It was hard to surrender hopes so long cherished, and so nearly fulfilled; and very difficult to readjust the glass of faith...

Notes

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pp. 455-481