It is generally supposed that people who live at home,--good domestic people, who love
tea and their arm-chairs, and who keep the parlour hearth-rug ever warm,--it is generally
supposed that these are the people who value home the most, and best appreciate all the
comforts of that cherished institution. I am inclined to doubt this. It is, I think, to those
who live farthest away from home, to those who find the greatest difficulty in visiting
home, that the word conveys the sweetest idea. In some distant parts of the world it may
be that an Englishman acknowledges his permanent resting place; but there are many
others in which he will not call his daily house, his home. He would, in his own idea,
desecrate the word by doing so. His home is across the blue waters, in the little northern
island, which perhaps he may visit no more; which he has left, at any rate, for half his
life; from which circumstances, and the necessity of living, have banished him. His home
is still in England, and when he speaks of home his thoughts are there.
No one can understand the intensity of this feeling who has not seen or felt the absence of
interest in life which falls to the lot of many who have to eat their bread on distant soils.
We are all apt to think that a life in strange countries will be a life of excitement, of
stirring enterprise, and varied scenes;--that in abandoning the comforts of home, we shall
receive in exchange more of movement and of adventure than would come in our way in
our own tame country; and this feeling has, I am sure, sent many a young man roaming.
Take any spirited fellow of twenty, and ask him whether he would like to go to Mexico
for the next ten years! Prudence and his father may ultimately save him from such
banishment, but he will not refuse without a pang of regret.
Alas! it is a mistake. Bread may be earned, and fortunes, perhaps, made in such countries;
and as it is the destiny of our race to spread itself over the wide face of the globe, it is
well that there should be something to gild and paint the outward face of that lot which so
many are called upon to choose. But for a life of daily excitement, there is no life like life
in England; and the farther that one goes from England the more stagnant, I think, do the
waters of existence become.
But if it be so for men, it is ten times more so for women. An Englishman, if he be at
Guatemala or Belize, must work for his bread, and that work will find him in thought and
excitement. But what of his wife? Where will she find excitement? By what pursuit will
she repay herself for all that she has left behind her at her mother's fireside? She will love
her husband. Yes; that at least! If there be not that, there will be a hell, indeed. Then she
will nurse her children, and talk of her--home. When the time shall come that her
promised return thither is within a year or two of its accomplishment, her thoughts will
all be fixed on that coming pleasure, as are the thoughts of a young girl on her first ball
for the fortnight before that event comes off.