Mullikin, Mary Augusta
Precious things, pp. 67-68 ff.
PRECIOUS THINGS. I BY MARY AUGUSTA MULLIKIN. V From Handicraft for July, 1903 an out-of-the-way church of a small Italian town, the attend- nt handed me an index of its contents, the "cose preziose" precious things) in possession of the church. They were vorth cherishing, these bits of carving and bronze casting, hough their makers' fame has scarcely reached beyond their - t*1A t'P xn Suppose one of our present-day cities should be arrested in its development, as was the case with this Italian town, and should be preserved, Fvith all its contents, as it now is, a spectacle to our descend- ants. Precious thingsl What do you own that you caress with word and look and touch? Not long ago, I attempted to buy a bowl and pitcher for my wash- stand. Until then, I had hardly realized the grotesque shapes and decorations offered us. Cheap and expensive alike were hideous. I was in a real quandary. Could I consent to see and handle daily, to grow accustomed and callous to such deformities? I compromised on a pitcher for drinking-water and a salad-bowl of "willow pattern." Thus, at my home, we attempt to exercise a strict censorship over everything that enters our door. Yet there is an "open sesame"-the fatal words: "It is a gift." Opening some pacakage we exclaim: "Wasn't it sweet for her to remember us?" Presently we ask: "What shall we do with it?" and the most courageous suggests: "Can't some accident happen to it?" If you come into possession of a vase, for instance, caught in the plight of ugliness, why not treat it with the same courageous kindness you would a sick dog-put it out of its misery! Perhaps you are asking: "Why should we be so particular? Why not buy and give, and receive and furnish with and live with, just what the shops offer us?" But the shops, you know, will furnish us with just what we demand. Do you remember the civil-war standard-bearer who, some hundred yards in advance of his regiment, responded to his Colonel's call: "Bring back that standard," with the retort: "Bring up your regiment to the standard !" A small proportion of our time is spent in real thinking; more time in doing; but I believe with most of us the largest proportion of our days is spent in a more or less unconscious seeing, feeling, and hearing. 67
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