Ten-year old (ostensibly) Virginia Cary Hudson wrote O Ye Jigs & Juleps! in 1904.
It cracks me up.
She wrote it while at an Episcopalian boarding school, and as the above-linked Time article says, it had been undiscovered in a trunk for many years. Once found, it was published in 1960 and has been giving people the chuckles ever since.
I was reminded of it again last week in Vermillion, SD, where I was presenting some lectures over the course of a couple of days. There a wonderful gentleman gave me his copy, and Virginia’s good humor have reached across years and through trunks and made me laugh again and again since I had the book in my hands once more.
She’s on my mind today because of her entry on gardening. My children and I began our seeding last weekend, and who knows what would be coming up in a few weeks if I’d read this chapter first.
You’ll see why.
After a relatively long description of how Virginia’s going to set up her garden, she writes:
Then you pray for the rain to come and if too much comes, you pray for it to stop. It keeps you busy all summer praying and hoeing.
Mrs. Harris and myself were picking potato bugs one day, and Mrs. Harris put down her tin can and said, “Snow and Ice in Beulah Land, here come my rich kin.” And there was, I mean were, Miss Fanny Bannister and Miss Ruby Porter, all dressed up, except Miss Ruby went back home. And Miss Fanny said, “Get out of that potato patch, Sister Ada, and take off that sunbonnet and fix me a julep.” And Mrs. Harris says to me, she says, “You fix it,” and I did. I ran to the mint bed and got the sugar and the ice and the whiskey behind the blankets on the top shelf, and Miss Fanny said, “How much whiskey in here?” and I said, “One jigger,” and Miss Fanny says, she says, “That’s for faith. Where’s the hope and Charity? Go back and put in two more.” And I ran back to the potato patch and told Mrs. Harris what Miss Fanny said, and Mrs. Harris says, “Give her a Corinthian julep if she wants one and by the time I get in the house she won’t know whether I am wearing a sunbonnet or a crown.” And that’s what Mrs. Harris said, and I did.
So then they decided to throw a garden party. And among others, they invited the bishop. And Virginia asked everybody to help with the weeding.
Everybody started pulling. The bishop too, except he was the slowest puller we had. When I got around to see how he was doing, he wasn’t doing so good. So I got him a chair to sit on, and I asked Mrs. Harris if she thought he would like a Corinthian julep, and she said, “Just the thing, fix it” and I did, and I said, “Drink it,” and he did, and after that he felt well enough to play London Bridge, Leap Frog and Skip-to-my-Lou.
(For the record, I have never invited my bishop over to weed or for a Corinthian julep, but might now.)
And then Virginia closes with a benediction, as she always does at the end of every chapter. “O ye Sun and Moon, oh ye beans and roses, oh ye jigs and juleps, Bless ye the Lord, Praise Him and Magnify Him Forever. Amen.”
Corinthian juleps. Corinthian gardening. Corinthian living.
Gardening takes faith, and hope, and charity (in the spirit of the latter, little Elsegirl has even taken to reading to her bean plant in hopes of offering it tender company. She pulls up her little blue chair, opens a book, and reads. She even shows it the pictures).
One plants a seed and is never entirely sure that it will root and grow and bear edible fruit, or any fruit at all.
Yet one still plants, because if you don’t, you can be certain that no fruit will be forthcoming. No seeding (i.e., no faith and no hope) is a sure path to no possibility of abundance.
Or bothersome weeds, one could argue.
On with the more hopeful analogy.
Living takes faith, and hope, and charity too. If one does not have faith, and hope, one is paralyzed. It would quite literally be impossible to move.
And when one does move out of faith and hope, and then discovers that it was a wrong move, one needs charity (a word which means affection and love [in the sense of agape]) toward oneself and toward others so that one can move again, and move with faith and hope.
Occasionally, a julep comes in handy, that is true.
A Corinthian julep, even.
So in this time of new beginnings, both literally and figuratively, I wish you a Corinthian season of luscious beans and roses, jigs and juleps, and of possibilities born out of faith and hope and charity toward others, and toward yourself.