The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 06, No. 35, September, 1860

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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 06, No. 35, September, 1860

Author: Various

Release date: February 1, 2004 [eBook #11087]
Most recently updated: December 23, 2020

Language: English


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In our studies of Trees, we cannot fail to be impressed with their importance not only to the beauty of landscape, but also in the economy of life; and we are convinced that in no other part of the vegetable creation has Nature done so much to provide at once for the comfort, the sustenance, and the protection of her creatures. They afford the wild animals their shelter and their abode, and yield them the greater part of their subsistence. They are, indeed, so evidently indispensable to the wants of man and brute, that it would be idle to enlarge upon the subject, except in those details which are apt to be overlooked. In a state of Nature man makes direct use of their branches for weaving his tent, and he thatches it with their leaves. In their recesses he hunts the animals whose flesh and furs supply him with food and clothing, and from their wood he obtains the implements for capturing and subduing them. Man's earliest farinaceous food was likewise the product of trees; for in his nomadic condition he makes his bread from the acorn and the chestnut: he must become a tiller of the soil, before he can obtain the products of the cereal herbs. The groves were likewise the earliest temples for his worship, and their fruits his first offerings upon the divine altar.

As man advances nearer to civilization, trees afford him the additional advantage which is derived from their timber. The first houses were constructed of wood, which enables him by its superior plastic nature, compared with stone, to progress more rapidly in his ideas of architecture. Wood facilitates his endeavors to instruct himself in art, by its adaptedness to a greater variety of purposes than any other substance. It is, therefore, one of the principal instruments of civilization which man has derived from the material world. Though the most remarkable works of the architect are constructed of stone, it was wood that afforded man that early practice and experience which initiated him into the laws of mechanics and the principles of art, and carried him along gradually to perfection.

But as man is nomadic before he is agricultural, and a maker of tents and wigwams before he builds houses and temples,—in like manner he is an architect and an idolater before he becomes a student of wisdom; he is a sacrificer in temples and a priest at their altars, before he is a teacher of philosophy or an interpreter of Nature. After the attainment of science, a higher state of mental culture succeeds, causing the mind to see all Nature invested with beauty and fraught with imaginative charms, which add new wonders to our views of creation and new dignity to life. Man now learns to regard trees in other relations beside their capacity to supply his physical and mechanical wants. He looks upon them as the principal ornaments of the face of creation, and as forming the conservatories of Nature, in which she rears those minute wonders of her skill, the flowers and smaller plants that will flourish only under their protection, and those insect hosts that charm the student with their beauty and excite his wonder by their mysterious instincts. Science, too, has built an altar under the trees, and delivers thence new oracles of wisdom, teaching man how they are mysteriously wedded to the clouds, and are thus made the blessed instruments of their beneficence to the earth.

Not without reason did the ancients place the Naiad and her fountain in the shady arbor of trees, whose foliage gathers the waters of heaven into her fount and preserves them from dissipation. From their dripping shades she distributes the waters, which she has garnered from the skies, over the plain and the valley: and the husbandman, before he has learned the marvels of science, worships the beneficent Naiad, who draws the waters of her fountain from heaven, and from her sanctuary in the groves showers them upon the arid glebe and adds new verdure to the plain. After science has explained to us the law by which these supplies of moisture are furnished by the trees, we still worship the beneficent Naiad: we would not remove the drapery of foliage that protects her fountain, nor drive her into exile by the destruction of the trees, through whose leaves she holds mysterious commerce with the skies and saves our fields from drought.

It is in these relations, leaving their uses in economy and the arts untouched, that I would now speak of trees. I would consider them as they appear to the poet and the painter, as they are connected with scenery, and with the romance and mythology of Nature, and as serving the purposes of religion and virtue, of freedom and happiness, of poetry and science, as well as those of mere taste and economy. I am persuaded that trees are closely connected with the fate of nations, that they are the props of industry and civilization, and that in all countries from which the forests have disappeared the people have sunk into indolence and servitude.

Though we may not be close observers of Nature, we cannot fail to have remarked that there is an infinite variety in the forms of trees, as well as in their habits. By those who have observed them as landscape ornaments, trees have been classified according to their shape and manner of growth. They are round-headed or hemispherical, like the Oak and the Plane; pyramidal, like the Pine and the Fir; obeliscal, like the Arbor-Vitæ and Lombardy Poplar; drooping, like the White Elm and the Weeping Willow; and umbrella-shaped, like the Palm. These are the natural or normal varieties in the forms of trees. There are others which may be considered accidental: such are the tall and irregularly shaped trees which have been cramped by growing in a dense forest that does not permit the extension of their lateral branches; such also are the pollards which have been repeatedly cut down or dwarfed by the axe of the woodman.

Of the round-headed trees, that extend their branches more or less at wide angles from their trunk, the Oak is the most conspicuous and the most celebrated. To the mind of an American, however, the Oak is far less familiar than the Elm, as a way-side tree; but in England, where many

"a cottage-chimney smokes From betwixt two aged Oaks,"

this tree, which formerly received divine honors in that country, is now hardly less sacred in the eyes of the inhabitants, on account of their familiarity with its shelter and its shade, and their ideas of its usefulness to the human family. The history of the British Isles is closely interwoven with circumstances connected with the Oak, and the poetry of Great Britain has derived from it many a theme of inspiration.

The Oak is remarkable for the wide spread of its lower branches and its broad extent of shade,—for its suggestiveness of power, and consequent expression of grandeur. It is allied with the romance of early history; it is celebrated by its connection with the religion and religious rites of the Druids,—with the customs of the Romans, who formed of its green leaves the civic crown for their heroes, and who planted it to overshadow the temple of Jupiter; and many ancient superstitions give its name a peculiar significance to the poet and the antiquary. From its timber marine architecture has derived the most important aid, and it has thereby become associated with the grandeur of commerce and the exploits of a gallant navy, and is regarded as the emblem of naval prowess. The Oak, therefore, to the majority of the human race, is, beyond all other trees, fraught with romantic interest, and invested with classic and historical dignity.

The American continent contains a great many species of Oak in its indigenous forest. Of these the White Oak bears the most resemblance to the classical tree, in its general appearance, in the contorted growth of its branches, and in the edible quality of its fruit. But the Red Oak, the most northerly species, exceeds all others in size. No other attains so great a height, or spreads its branches so widely, or surpasses it in regularity of form. As we advance south, the White Oak is conspicuous until we arrive at North Carolina, where the forests and way-sides exhibit the beautiful Evergreen Oak, which, with its slender undivided leaves, the minute subdivisions of its branches, and its general comeliness of form, would be mistaken by a stranger for a Willow. A close inspection, however, would soon convince him that it has none of the fragility of the Willow. On the contrary, it is the most noted of all the genus for its hardness and durability, being the identical Live Oak which has supplied our navy with the most valuable of timber. At the South the Evergreen Oak is a common way-side tree, mingling its hues with the lighter green of the Cypress and the sombre verdure of the Magnolia.

The Oak exceeds all other trees, not only in actual strength, but also in that outward appearance by which this quality is manifested. This expression is due to the general horizontal spread of its principal boughs, the peculiar angularity of the unions of its small branches, the want of flexibility in its spray, and its great size when compared with its height, all manifesting its power to resist the wind and the storm. Hence it is regarded as the monarch of trees, surpassing all in those qualities that indicate nobleness and capacity. It is the emblem of strength, dignity, and grandeur: the severest hurricane cannot overthrow it, and, by destroying some of its branches, leaves it only with more wonderful proofs of its resistance. Like the rock that rises in mid-ocean, it becomes in its old age a just symbol of fortitude, parting with its limbs one by one, as they are broken by the gale or withered by decay; but still retaining its many-centuried existence, when, like an old patriarch, it has seen all its early companions removed.

Standard Oaks are comparatively rare in the New England States, and not many adorn our way-sides and inclosures, which are mostly shaded by Elms, Limes, Maples, and Ash-trees. The scarcity of Oaks in these places is attributable in some degree to the peculiar structure of their roots, which extend downwards to a great depth in the soil, causing them to be difficult of transplantation. It is owing in still greater measure to the value of Oak-wood for ship-timber,—especially as those full-grown trees which have sprung up by the road-sides, and the noble pasture Oaks, contain the greatest number of those joints which are in special demand for ship-building. Year after year, therefore, has witnessed the gradual disappearance of these venerable trees, which the public should have protected from the profane hands of the "timberer," by forcing him to procure his materials from the forest. The community needs to be taught that a standard tree of good size and well-developed proportions is of more value for its shade, and as an object in the landscape, than a whole acre of trees in the middle of a wood.

One of the most majestic trees in the American forest is the Chestnut, remarkable, like the Oak, for its broad extent of shade. In some parts of the country it is one of the most common standards in the field and pasture, having been left unmolested on account of the value of its fruit and the comparative inferiority of its timber. The foliage of this tree is dense and flowing, and peculiar in its arrangement. The leaves are clustered in stars of from five to seven, on short branches that grow from one of greater length. Hence, at a little distance, the whole mass of foliage seems to consist of tufts, each containing a tassel of long pointed leaves, drooping divergently from a common centre. The flowers come out from the centre of these leaves in the same manner, and by their silvery green lustre give a pleasing variety to the darker verdure of the whole mass. "This is the tree," says Gilpin, "which graces the landscapes of Salvator Rosa. In the mountains of Calabria, where Salvator painted, the Chestnut flourished. There he studied it in all its forms, breaking and disposing of it in a thousand beautiful shapes, as the exigencies of his composition required."

The Beech is one of the same class of trees, but does not equal the Chestnut in magnitude. It is distinguished by the beauty of its clean, smooth shaft, which is commonly ribbed or fluted in a perceptible degree; and in a wood, where there is an assemblage of these columns, rising without a branch to the height of thirty feet or more, they are singularly beautiful. A peculiarity often observed in the Beech is a sort of double head of foliage. This is produced by the habit of the tree of throwing out a whorl of imperfect branches just below the union of the main branches with the trunk. The latter, taking more of an upward direction, cause an observable space a little below the middle of the height of the tree. This double tier of branches and foliage has been noticed by painters in the European Beech. I have observed it in several instances in the American tree.

Standard Beech-trees are not numerous in this part of the country; indeed, they are seldom seen except in a wood, or in clumps which have originated from the root of some tree that has perished. I think they appear to better advantage in groups and small assemblages than when single, as there is nothing greatly attractive in the form of a standard Beech; but there is a peculiar sweep of the lateral branches, when they are standing in a group, which the student of trees cannot fail to admire. They send out their branches more in right lines than most other trees, and, as their leaves and the extremities of their spray all have an upright tendency, they give a beautiful airy appearance to the edge of a wood. The foliage of other deciduous trees, even when the branches tend upward, is mostly of a drooping character. The Beech forms a pleasing exception to this habit, having leaves that point upward and outwardly, instead of hanging loosely. In most other trees the foliage is so heavy and flowing, that the courses of their branches are concealed under their drapery of leaves; but in the Beech all the lines produced by the branches and foliage are harmonious, and may be distinctly traced.

By taking note of these peculiarities in their arborescent growth, one greatly magnifies his capacity for enjoying the beauties of trees. Without this observation, their general appearance forms the chief object of his attention: he observes them only as a person of taste who cannot distinguish tunes would listen to music. He feels the agreeable sensation which their forms and aspects produce; but, like one who thinks without adequate language for his thoughts, his ideas are vague and indefinite. The Beech is particularly worthy of study, as in many points it differs characteristically from most other trees. I am acquainted with no tree in the forest that equals it, when disrobed of its foliage, in the gracefulness of its spray. There is an airiness about its whole appearance, at all seasons, that gives an expression of cheerfulness to the scene it graces, whether it skirt the banks of a stream or spread out its courteous arms over a sunny knoll or little sequestered nook.

There are some trees which are peculiarly American, being confined to the Western continent, and unknown in other parts of the world. Among these is the Hickory, a well-known and very common tree, celebrated rather for its usefulness than its beauty. The different trees of this family make an important feature in our landscape: they are not abundant in the forest, but they are conspicuous objects in the open plain, hill, and pasture. Great numbers of them have become standards; we see them following the lines of old stone walls that skirt the bounds and avenues of the farm, in company with the Ash and the Maple. In these situations, where they would not "cumber the ground," they have been allowed to grow, without exciting the jealousy of the proprietor of the land. Accident, under these circumstances, has reared many a beautiful tree, which would in any other place have been cut down as a trespasser. Thus Nature is always striving to clothe with beauty those scenes which man has despoiled; and while the farmer is hoeing and grubbing, and thinking only of his physical wants, unseen hands are draping all his fences with luxuriant vinery, and bordering his fields with trees that shall gladden the eyes of those who can understand their beauties.

The Hickory is not a round-headed tree; it approaches a cylindrical form, somewhat flattened at the top, but seldom attaining any strict regularity of shape. It does not expand into a full and flowing head, but is often divided into distinct masses of foliage, separated by vacant spaces of considerable size, and presenting an appearance as if a portion of the tree had been artificially removed. These gaps do not extend all round the tree; they are irregularly disposed, some trees having several of them, others none or only one; and they seem to have been caused, when the tree was young, by the dwindling of some principal branch. The Hickory throws out its branches at first very obliquely from the shaft; afterwards the lower ones bend down as the tree increases in size, and acquire an irregular and contorted shape; for, notwithstanding their toughness, they bend easily to the weight of their fruit and foliage.

This tree is celebrated in the United States for the toughness of its wood; and the term Hickory is used as emblematical of a sturdy and vigorous character. It possesses some of the ruggedness, without the breadth and majesty of the Oak, though it exceeds even this tree in braving the force of a tempest. It is one of our most common pasture-trees, and its deep-green foliage makes amends for the general want of comeliness in its outline.

As we are journeying through the older settlements of New England, the melancholy forms of the ill-fated Plane-trees tower above the surrounding objects, and attract our attention not only by their magnitude, but also by the marks of decay which are stamped upon all. This appearance is chiefly remarkable in the early part of summer: for the trees are not dead; but their vitality is so far gone that they are tardy in putting out their leaves, and seldom before July are they fully clad in verdure. When they are not in leaf, we may observe an unnatural growth of slender twigs in tufts at the ends of their branches. This is caused by the failure of the tree in perfecting its wood before the growth of the branches is arrested by the autumnal frosts; and this accident has been repeated annually ever since the trees began to be affected with their malady. The Plane was formerly a very common way-side tree in New England, until the fatality occurred which has caused the greater number of them to perish. It is a fact worthy of notice, that all the trees of this species below the latitude of Long Island have escaped the malady.

The Chenar-tree, or Oriental Plane, is celebrated in history, having had a place in all the public and private grounds of the Greeks and Romans, as well as of the Eastern nations. The American, or Western Plane, called in New England the Buttonwood, is not less remarkable for its size and grandeur. It is one of the loftiest trees, and its lateral branches, being of great length, give it extraordinary breadth. It also runs up to an unusual height, compared with other trees, before it forms a head, so that its lower branches are sometimes elevated above the roofs of the houses of common height Hence it would be a valuable tree for road-sides, if it were healthy, as it would allow the largest vehicles to pass freely under its boughs.

A far more beautiful tree, gracing equally the forest and the way-side, is the Ash, charming our sight with the gracefulness of its proportions in winter, with its flowing drapery of verdure in summer, and its variety of glowing tints in autumn. The Ash has been styled in Europe "the painter's tree,"—a fact which is worthy of notice, inasmuch as those writers who have theorized concerning the nature of beauty have generally regarded trees of broken and irregular shapes, like the Hickory, as more picturesque than those of prim and symmetrical habit, like the Ash. The practice of the great masters in painting seems adverse to this idea, since they have introduced the Ash more frequently than other trees into their pictures; and it shows the futility of the attempt to draw a distinction between picturesque and beautiful trees. All trees, indeed, of every natural shape, may be considered picturesque, as, in one situation or another, every species may be introduced to heighten the character of a picture or a landscape.

The Ash never fails to attract attention by the peculiar beauty of its outlines, the regular subdivision of its branches, its fair proportions and equal balance without any disagreeable formality. Nothing can exceed the gracefulness of its pinnate foliage, hanging loosely from its equally divergent spray, easy of motion, but not fluttering, and always harmonizing in its tints with the season of the year. Notwithstanding the different character, in regard to symmetry, of the Ash and the Hickory, the two trees are often mistaken for each other, and, when the latter is evenly formed, it is sometimes difficult at first sight to distinguish it. They differ, however, in all cases, in the opposite arrangement of the leaves and small branches of the Ash, and their alternate arrangement in the Hickory. One of these branches invariably becomes abortive, as the tree increases in size, so that their opposite character is apparent only in the spray.

In wet places which have never been subjected to the plough, in grounds partly inundated a great portion of the year, luxuriating in company with the Northern Cypress, over an undergrowth of Dutch Myrtles and Button-bushes, we find the singular Tupelo-tree. This tree is the opposite of the Ash in all its characteristics. There is no regularity in any part of its growth, and no tree in the forest sports in such a variety of grotesque and fantastic shapes. Sometimes it spreads out its branches horizontally, forming a perfectly flat top, as if it had grown under a platform; again it forms an irregular pyramid, most commonly leaning from an upright position. It has usually no definable shape, often sending out one or two branches greatly beyond the rest, some directed obliquely downwards, others twisted and horizontal. This tree, if it had no other merit, would be prized for its eccentricities; but it is not without beauty. It possesses a fine glossy foliage, unrivalled in its verdure, and every branch is fully clothed with it; and, whatever may be the age of the tree, it never shows the marks of decrepitude.

The pyramidal trees are included chiefly among the coniferous evergreens, embracing the Pine, the Fir, the Spruce, and the Cypress. Though many of the deciduous trees assume more or less of this outline, it is the normal and characteristic form of the Pines and their kindred species. It is a peculiarity of the pyramidal trees, with a few exceptions, to remain always disfigured, after the loss of an important branch, having no power to fill the vacant space by a new growth. Other trees readily fill up a vacancy occasioned by the loss of a branch, and may suffer considerable mutilation without losing their beauty, because an invariable proportion is not necessary to render them pleasing objects of sight. On account of the symmetry of their forms, the pyramidal trees are made ugly by the loss of a limb, as the porch of a temple would be ruined by the removal of one of its pillars. Hence we may understand the charm of that irregularity that prevails in the forms of vegetation. If we remove a branch from an Elm or an Oak, or even from an Ash, we destroy no positive symmetry; it is like removing a stone from a loose stone wall; we do but slightly modify its disproportions.

The White Pine may be selected as the American representative of the pyramidal trees, being the most important as well as the most striking in its appearance. It is a Northern tree, not extending so far south as the region of the Cypress and Magnolia, and attaining perfection only on the northeastern part of the continent. In the New England States, it contributes more than any other species to the beauty of our landscapes, where it is commonly seen in scattered groups, but not often as a solitary standard. We see it in our journeys, projecting over eminences that are skirted by old roads, shading the traveller from the sun and protecting him from the wind. We have sat under its fragrant shade, in our pedestrian tours, when, weary with heat and exercise, we sought its gift of coolness, and blessed it as one of the benign deities of the forest. We are familiar with it in all pleasant and solitary places; and in our afternoon rambles we have listened, underneath its boughs, to the plaintive note of the Green Warbler, who selects it for his abode, and who has caught a melancholy tone from the winds that from immemorial time have tuned to soft music its long sibilant leaves.

The White Pine is a tree that harmonizes with all situations, rude and cultivated, level and abrupt. On the side of the mountain it adds grandeur to the declivity, and gives a look of sweeter tranquillity to the green pastoral meadow. It yields a darker frown to the projecting cliff, and a more awful uncertainty to the mountain-pass or the hollow ravine. Amid desolate scenery it spreads a cheerfulness that detracts nothing from its power over the imagination, while it relieves it of its terrors by presenting a green bulwark to defend us from the elements. Nothing can be more cheerful in scenery than the occasional groups of Pines which have come up spontaneously on the bald hills near our coast, elsewhere a dreary waste of gray rocks, stunted shrubbery, and prostrate Juniper. In the forest the White Pine constitutes the very sanctuary of Nature, its tall pillars extending into the clouds, and its broad canopy of foliage mixing with the vapors that descend in the storm.

Such are its picturesque aspects: but in a figurative light it may be regarded as a true symbol of benevolence. Under its outspread roof, thousands of otherwise unprotected animals, nestling in the bed of dry leaves which it has spread upon the ground, find shelter and repose. The squirrel subsists upon the kernels obtained from its cones; the rabbit browses upon the Trefoil and the spicy foliage of the Hypericum which are protected in its conservatory of shade; and the fawn reposes on its brown couch of leaves, unmolested by the outer tempest. From its green arbors the quails may be roused in midwinter, when they resort thither to find the still sound berries of the Mitchella and the Wintergreen. Nature, indeed, seems to have designed this tree to protect the animal creation, both in summer and winter, and I am persuaded that she has not conferred upon them a more beneficent gift.

As an object of sight, the White Pine is free from some of the defects of the Fir and Spruce, having none of their stiffness of foliage and inflexibility of spray, that cause them to resemble artificial objects. It has the symmetry of the Fir, joined with a certain flowing grace that assimilates it to the deciduous trees. With sufficient amplitude to conceal a look of primness that often arises from symmetry, we observe a certain negligent flowing of its leafy robes that adds to its dignity a grace which is apparent to all. It seems to wear its honors like one who feels no constraint under their burden; and when smitten by a tempest, it bids no defiance to the gale, bending to its wrath, but securely resisting its power.

Of the American coniferous trees, the Hemlock is of the next importance, being, perhaps, in its perfection, a more beautiful tree than the White Pine, or than any other known evergreen. It is far less formal in its shape than other trees of the same family. Its branches, being slender and flexible, do not project stiffly from the shaft; they bend slightly at their terminations, and are easily moved by the wind; and as they are very numerous, and covered with foliage, we behold in the tree a dense mass of glittering verdure, not to be seen in any other tree of the forest.

The Hemlock is unknown as a shade-tree; it is seldom seen by the road-side, except on the edge of a wood, and not often in cultivated grounds. The want of success usually attending the transplantation of it from the woods has prevented the general adoption of it as an ornamental tree. The Hemlock, when transplanted from the wood, is almost sure to perish; for Nature will not allow it to be desecrated by any association with Art. She reserves it for her own demesnes; and if you would possess one, you must go to its native spot and plant your garden around it, and take heed, lest, by disturbing its roots, you offend the deity who protects it. Some noble Hemlocks are occasionally seen in rude situations, where the cultivator's art has not interrupted their spontaneous growth; and the poet and the naturalist are inspired with a more pleasing admiration of their beauty, because they have seen them only where the solitary birds sing their wild notes, and where the heart is unmolested by the crowding tumult of human settlements.

The Pitch Pine has neither grace nor elegance, and though it is allied botanically to the pyramidal trees, it approaches the shape of the round-headed trees. There is a singular ruggedness about it; and when bristling all over with the stiff foliage that sometimes covers it from the extremities of the branches down almost to the roots, it cannot fail to attract observation. Trees of this species, for the most part too rough and homely to please the eye, are not generally valued as objects in the landscape; but there is a variety in their shape that makes amends for their want of comeliness, and gives them a marked importance. We do not in general sufficiently appreciate the value of homely objects among the scenes of Nature,—which are, indeed, the ground-work of all charming scenery, and set off to advantage the beauty of more comely things. They prepare us, by increasing our susceptibility, to feel more keenly the force of beauty in other objects. They give rest and relief to the eye, after it has experienced the stimulating effects of beautiful forms and colors, which would soon pall upon the sense; and they are interesting to the imagination, by leaving it free to dress the scene with the wreaths of fancy.

It is from these reflections that I have been led to prize many a homely tree as possessing a high value, by exalting the impressions of beauty which we derive from other trees, and by relieving Nature of that monotony which would attend a scene of unexceptional beauty. This monotony is apparent in almost all dressed grounds of considerable extent. We soon become entirely weary of the ever-flowing lines of grace and elegance, and the harmonious blending of forms and colors introduced by art. On the same principle we may explain the difficulty of reading with attention a whole volume on one subject, written in verse. We are soon weary of luxuries; and when we have been strolling in grounds laid out with gaudy flower-beds, the tired eye, when we go out into the fields, rests with serene delight upon rough pastures bounded by stone walls, and hills clothed with lichens and covered with boulders.

The homely Pitch Pine serves this important purpose of relief in the landscapes of Nature. Trees of this species are abundant in sandy levels, in company with the slender and graceful White Birch, "The Lady of the Woods," as the poet Coleridge called it. From these Pines proceed those delightful odors which are wafted to our windows by a mild south wind, not less perceptible in winter than in summer, and which are in a different manner as charming as a beautiful prospect.

The Juniper, or Red Cedar, known in some places as the Savin, is another homely tree that gives character to New England scenery. It is one of the most frequent accompaniments of the bald hills near certain parts of our coast, giving them a peculiar aspect of desolation. This tree acquires larger dimensions and a fuller and fairer shape in the Middle and Southern States. There the Junipers are beautiful trees, having a finer verdure than they ever acquire at the North. But the Juniper, with all its imperfections, its rugged form, and its inferior verdure, is not to be contemned; and it possesses certain qualities and features which ought to be prized hardly less than beauty. Its sombre ferruginous green adds variety to our wood-scenery at all times, and by contrast serves to make the foliage of other trees the more brilliant and conspicuous. In the latter part of summer, when the woods have acquired a general uniformity of verdure, the Junipers enliven the face of Nature by blending their duller tints with the fading hues of the fully ripened foliage. Thus will an assemblage of brown and gray clouds soften and at the same time enliven the deep azure of the heavens.

In this sketch, I have omitted to describe many important trees, especially those which have but little individuality of character, leaving them to be the subject of another essay concerning Trees in Assemblages. I have likewise said nothing here of those species which are commonly distinguished as flowering trees. But I must not omit, while speaking of the pyramidal trees, to say a word concerning the Larch, which has some striking points of form and habit. Like the Southern Cypress, it differs in its deciduous character from other coniferous trees: hence both are distinguished by the brilliancy of their verdure in the early part of summer, when the other evergreens are particularly sombre; but they are leafless in the winter. The Larch is beautifully pyramidal in its shape when young. In the vigor of its years it tends to uniformity, and to variety when it is old. Indeed, an aged Larch is often as rugged and fantastic as an old Oak. The American and European Larches differ only in the longer flowing foliage and the larger cones of the latter. Among the minor beauties of both species may be mentioned the bright crimson cones that appear in June and resemble clusters of fruit. The Larch is a Northern tree, being in its perfection in the latitude of Maine. It seems to delight in the coldest situations, and, like the Southern Cypress, is found chiefly in low swamps.

There are not many trees that assume the shape of an obelisk, or a long spire; but Nature, who presents to our eyes an ever-charming variety of forms as well as hues, in the objects of her creation, has given us the figure of the obelisk in the Chinese Juniper, in the Balsam Fir, in the Arbor-Vitæ, and lastly in the Lombardy Poplar, which may be offered to exemplify this class of forms. The Lombardy Poplar is interesting to thousands who were familiar with it in their youth, as an ornament to road-sides and village inclosures. It was formerly a favorite shade-tree, and still retains its privileges in many old-fashioned places. A century ago great numbers of Poplars were planted on the village way-sides, in front of dwelling-houses, on the borders of public grounds, and particularly on the sides of lanes and avenues leading to houses situated at a short distance from the high-road. Hence a row of these trees becomes suggestive at once of the approach to some old mansion or country-seat, which has now, perhaps, been converted into a farm-house, having exchanged its proud honors of wealth for the more simple and delightful appurtenances of rustic independence.

Some of these ancient rows of Poplars are occasionally seen in old fields, where almost all traces of the habitation which they were intended to grace are obliterated. There is a melancholy pleasure in surveying these humble ruins, whose history would illustrate the domestic habits of our ancestors. The cellar of the old house is now a part of the pasture-land, and its form can be traced by the simple swelling of the turf. Sumachs and Cornel-bushes have usurped the place of the exotic shrubbery in the old garden; and the only ancient companions of the Poplars, now remaining, are here and there a straggling Lilac or Currant-bush, a tuft of Houseleek, and perhaps, under the shelter of some dilapidated wall, the White Star of Bethlehem is seen meekly glowing in the rude society of the wild-flowers.

The Lombardy Poplar, which was formerly a favorite way-side ornament, a sort of idol of the public, and, like many another idol, exalted to honors that exceeded its merits, fell suddenly into unpopularity and disgrace. After having been admired and valued as if its leaves were all emeralds and its buds apples of gold, it was spurned and ridiculed and everywhere cut down as a cumberer of the ground. The faults attributed to it did not belong to the tree, but were the effects of the climate into which it had been removed. It was brought from the sunny vales of Italy, where it had been delicately reared by the side of the Orange and the Myrtle, and transplanted into the cold climate of New England. The tender constitution of this tree could not endure our rude winters; and every spring witnessed the decay of a large portion of its small branches. Hence it became prematurely aged, and in its decline carried with it the marks of its infirmities.

But, with all these imperfections, the Lombardy Poplar was more worthy of the honors it received from our predecessors than of its present disrepute. It is one of the fairest of trees, in the vigor of its health and the greenness of its youth. But nearly all the old Poplars are extirpated, and but few young trees are coming up to supply their places. While I am now writing, I see from my window the graceful spire of one solitary tree, towering above the surrounding objects in the landscape, and yielding to the view something of an indescribable charm. There it stands, the symbol of decayed reputation, in its old age still retaining the primness of its youth; neither drooping in its infirmities under the weight of their burden, nor losing in its desertedness the fine lustre of its foliage; and in its disgrace still bearing itself proudly, as if conscious that its former honors were deserved, and not forgetting that dignity which becomes one who has fallen without dishonor.

There is no other tree that so pleasantly adorns the sides of narrow lanes and avenues, or so neatly accommodates itself to limited inclosures. Its foliage is dense and of the liveliest green, tremulous, and making delicate music to the light fingers of every breeze; its terebinthine odors scent the soft vernal wind that enters your open windows with the morning sunshine; its branches, always tending upward, closely gathered together, and slenderly formed, afford a harbor to the singing-birds, who revel among them as a favorite resort; and its long tapering spire, that points to heaven, gives an air of cheerfulness and religious tranquillity to village scenery.

Of the drooping trees, the Weeping Willow is the most conspicuous example, unless we except the American Elm; but a remarkable difference may be observed in the drooping character of these two trees. In the Elm we perceive a general arching or curvature of all its branches, from their points of junction with the tree to their extremities; so that two rows of Elms, meeting over an avenue, would represent, more nearly than any other trees disposed in the same manner, the vault of a Gothic arch. A double row of Weeping Willows would make no such figure by the meeting of their branches. The Weeping Willow extends its long arms in lines more nearly straight, not originating, as in the Elm, for the most part, from one common centre of junction, but joining the shaft of the tree at different points;—hence the drooping character of this tree is observed only in its long, slender, and terminal spray.

The Weeping Willow is one of the most poetical of trees, being consecrated to the Muse by the part which has been assigned it in many a scene of romance, and by its connection with events recorded in Holy Writ. It is invested with a poetical interest by its symbolical representation of sorrow in the pendulous character of its spray, by its fanciful uses as a garland for disappointed lovers, and by the employment of it in burying-grounds, and in pictures as drooping over graves. We remember it in sacred history by its association with the rivers of Babylon, with the tears of the Children of Israel, and with the forsaken harps of their sorrowing minstrels, who hung them upon its branches. It is distinguished by the graceful beauty of its outlines, its light-green delicate foliage, its sorrowing attitude, and its gently waving spray, all in sweet accordance with its picturesque, poetic, and Scriptural associations.

Hence the Weeping Willow never fails to give pleasure to the sight even of the most insensible observer. There are not many whose minds are so obtuse as to be blind to its peculiarly graceful attitude and motions, and every one is familiar with its history, as recorded in poetry and romance, all the incidents of which have served to elevate it above any association with fashion or vulgarity. When we see it waving its long branches neatly over some private inclosure, overshadowing the gravelled walk and the flower-garden,—or watching pensively over the graves of the dead, where the light hues of its foliage help to soften the glowing fancies which are apt to arise from our meditations among the tombs,—or on some wide common, giving solace to the passing traveller, and inviting the playful children to its shade,—or trailing its sweeping spray, like the tresses of a Naiad, over some silvery pond or gently flowing stream,—it is in all cases a delightful object, always picturesque, always soothing, inspiring, and sacred to memory, and serving, by its alliance with what is hallowed in literature, to bind us more closely to Nature.

Above all the trees of the New World, the Elm deserves to be considered the sovereign tree of New England. It is abundant both in field and forest, and forms the most remarkable feature in our cleared and cultivated grounds. Though the Elm is found in almost all parts of the country, in no other is it so conspicuous as in the Northeastern States, where, from the earliest settlement of the country, it has been planted as a shade-tree, and has been valued as an ornament above the proudest importations from a foreign clime. It is the most remarkable of the drooping trees except the Willow, which it surpasses in stateliness and in the variety of its growth.

When I look upon a noble Elm,—though I feel no disposition to contemn the studies of those who examine its flowers and fruit with the scrutinizing eye of science, or the calculations of those who consider only its practical use—it is to me an object of pleasing veneration. I look upon it as the embodiment of some benign intention of Providence, who has adapted it in numerous ways to the wants of his creatures. While admiring its grace and its majesty, I think of the great amount of human happiness and of comfort to the inferior animals of which it has been the blessed instrument. How many a happy assemblage of children and young persons has been, during the past century, repeatedly gathered under its shade, in the sultry noons of summer! How many a young May-queen has been crowned under its roof, when the greensward was just daisied with the early flowers of spring! And how many a weary traveller has rested from his journey in its benevolent shade, and from a state of weariness and vexation, when o'erspent by heat and length of way, has subsided into one of quiet thankfulness and content!

Though the Elm has never been consecrated by the Muse, or dignified by making a figure in the paintings of the old masters, the native inhabitant of New England associates its varied forms with all that is delightful in the scenery of his own land or memorable in its history. He has beheld many a noble avenue formed of Elms, when standing in rows in the village, or by the rustic road-side. He has seen them extending their broad and benevolent arms as a protection over many a spacious old farm-house and many an humble cottage, and equally harmonizing with all. They meet his sight in the public grounds of the city, with their ample shade and flowing spray, inviting him to linger under their pleasant umbrage in summer; and in winter he has beheld them among the rude hills and mountains, like spectral figures keeping sentry among their passes, and, on the waking of the year, suddenly transformed into towers of luxuriant verdure and beauty. Every year of his life has he seen the beautiful Hang-Bird weave his pensile habitation upon the long and flexible branches of the Elm, secure from the reach of every living creature. From its vast dome of interwoven branches and foliage he has listened to the songs of the earliest and the latest birds; and under its shelter he has witnessed many a merry-making assemblage of children, employed in the sportive games of summer.

To a native of New England, therefore, the Elm has a value more nearly approaching that of sacredness than any other tree. Setting aside the pleasure derived from it as an object of visual beauty, it is intimately associated with the familiar scenes of home and the events of his early life. In my own mind it is pleasingly allied with those old dwelling-houses which were built in the early part of the last century, and form one of the marked features of New England home architecture during that period. They are known by their broad and ample, but low-studded rooms, their numerous windows with small panes, their single chimney in the centre of the roof that sloped down to the lower story in the back part, and in their general unpretending appearance, reminding one vividly of that simplicity of life which characterized our people before the Revolution. Their very homeliness is delightful, by leaving the imagination free to dwell upon their pleasing suggestions. Not many of these charming old houses are now extant: but whenever we see one, we are almost sure to find it accompanied by its Elm, standing upon the green open space that slopes up to it in front, and waving its long branches in melancholy grandeur over the venerable habitation which it seems to have taken under its protection, while it droops with sorrow over the infirmities of its old companion of a century.

The Elm is remarkable for the variety of forms which it assumes in different situations. Often it has a drooping spray only when it has attained a large size; but it almost invariably becomes subdivided into several equal branches, diverging from a common centre, at a considerable elevation from the ground. One of these forms is that of a vase: the base being represented by the roots of the tree that project above the soil and join the trunk,—the middle by the lower part of the principal branches, as they swell out with a graceful curve, then gradually diverge, until they bend downward and form the lip of the vase, by their circle of terminal branches. Another of its forms is that of a vast dome, as represented by those trees that send up a single shaft to the height of twenty feet or more, and then extend their branches at a wide divergency and to a great length. The Elms which are remarkable for their drooping character are usually of this shape. At other times the Elm assumes the shape of a plume, presenting a singularly fantastical appearance. It rises upwards, with an undivided shaft, to the height of fifty feet or more, without a limb, and bending over with a gradual curve from about the middle of its height to its summit, which is sometimes divided into two or three terminal branches. The whole is covered from its roots to its summit with a fringe of vine-like twigs, extremely slender, twisted and irregular, and resembling a parasitic growth. Sometimes it is subdivided at the usual height into three or four long branches, which are wreathed In the same manner, and form a compound plume.

These fantastic forms are very beautiful, and do not impress one with the idea of monstrosity, as we are affected by the sight of a Weeping Ash. Though the Elm has many defects of foliage, and is destitute of those fine autumnal tints which are so remarkable in some other trees, it is still almost without a rival in the American forest. It presents a variety in its forms not to be seen in any other tree,—possessing the dignity of the Oak without its ruggedness, and uniting the grace of the slender Birch with the lofty grandeur of the Palm and the majesty of the Cedar of Lebanon.

Of the parasol-trees the North furnishes no true examples, which are witnessed only in the Palms of the tropics. Not many of our inhabitants have seen these trees in their living beauty; but all have become so familiar with them, as they are represented in paintings and engravings, that they can easily appreciate their effect in the sunny landscapes of the South. There they may be seen bending over fields tapestried with Passion-Flowers and verdurous with Myrtles and Orange-trees, and presenting their long shafts to the tendrils of the Trumpet Honeysuckle and the palmate foliage of the Climbing Fern. But the slender Palms, when solitary, afford but little shade. It is when they are standing in groups, their lofty tops meeting and forming a uniform umbrage, that they afford any important protection from the heat of the sun.

In pictures of tropical scenery we see these trees standing on the banks of a stream, or in the vicinity of the sea, near some rude hut constructed of Bamboo and thatched with the broad leaves of the Fan Palm. In some warm countries Nature affords the inhabitants an almost gratuitous subsistence from the fruit of the different Palms,—a plantation of Dates and Cocoa-nuts supplying the principal wants of the owner and his family, during the life of the trees. But the Palm is not suggestive of the arts, for the South is not the region of the highest civilization. Man's intelligence is greatest in those countries in which he is obliged to struggle with difficulties sufficient to require the constant exercise of the mind and body to overcome them. Science and Art have built their altars in the region of the Oak, and in valleys which are annually whitened with snow, where labor invigorates the frame, and where man's contention with the difficulties presented by the elements sharpens his ingenuity and strengthens all his facilities. Hence, while the Oak is the symbol of hospitality and of the arts to which it has given its aid, the Palm symbolizes the voluptuousness of a tropical clime and the indolence of its inhabitants.

I have said that the North produces no parasol-trees; but it should be remarked that all kinds of trees occasionally approximate to this shape, when they have grown compactly in a forest. The general shape which they assume under these conditions is what I have termed accidental, because that shape cannot be natural which a growing body is forced to take when cramped in an unnatural or constrained position. Trees when thus situated become greatly elongated; their shafts are despoiled of the greater part of their lateral branches, and the tree has no expansion until it has made its way above the level of the wood. The trees that cannot reach this level will in a few years perish; and this is the fate of the greater number in the primitive forest. But after they have attained this level, they spread out suddenly into a head. Many such trees are seen in recent clearings; and when their termination is a regular hemisphere of branches and foliage, the tree exhibits a shape nearly approaching that of a parasol.

The Elm, under these circumstances, often acquires a very beautiful shape. Unlike other trees that send up a single undivided shaft, the Elm, when growing in the forest as well as in the open plain, becomes subdivided into several slightly divergent branches, running up almost perpendicularly until they reach the level of the wood, when they suddenly spread themselves out, and the tree exhibits the parasol shape more nearly even than the Palm. When one of these forest Elms is left by the woodman, and is seen standing alone in the clearing, it presents to our sight one of the most graceful and beautiful of all arborescent forms.

The rows of Willows, so frequent by the way-side where the road passes over a wet meadow, afford the most common examples of the pollard forms. Some of these willows, having escaped the periodical trimming of the woodcutter, have become noble standards, emulating the Oak in the sturdy grandeur of their giant arms extending over the road. Most of them, however, from the repeated cropping which they have suffered, exhibit a round head of long, slender branches, growing out of the extremity of the beheaded trunk.

My remarks thus far relate to trees considered as individual objects; but I must not tire the patience of the reader by extending them farther, though there are many other relations in which they may be treated. In whatever light we regard them, they will be found to deserve attention as the fairest ornaments of Nature, and as objects that should be held sacred from their importance to our welfare and happiness. The more we study them, the more desirous are we of their preservation, and the more convinced of the necessity of using some active means to effect this purpose. He takes but a narrow view of their importance who considers only their value in the economy of animal and vegetable life. The painter has always made them a particular branch of his study; and the poet understands their advantage in increasing the effect of his descriptions, and believes them to be the blessed gifts of Providence to render the earth a beautiful abode and sanctify it to our affections. The heavenly bodies affect the soul with a deeper sense of creative power; but trees, like flowers, serve to draw us more closely to the bosom of Nature, by exemplifying the beauties of her handiwork, and the wonders of that Wisdom that operates unseen, and becomes, in our search for it, a source of perpetual delight.




The three days passed away. And every hour's progress was marked as it passed over the citizens of Meaux. Leclerc, and the doctrines for which he suffered, filled the people's thought; he was their theme of speech. Wonder softened into pity; unbelief was goaded by his stripes to cruelty; faith became transfigured, while he, followed by the hooting crowd, endured the penalty of faith. Some men looked on with awe that would become adoring; some with surprise that would take refuge in study and conviction. There were tears as well as exultation, solemn joy as well as execration, in his train. The mother of Leclerc followed him with her undaunted testimony, "Blessed be Jesus Christ and His Witnesses!"

By day, in the field, Jacqueline Gabrie thought over the reports she heard through the harvesters, of the city's feeling, of its purpose, of its judgment; by night she prayed and hoped, with the mother of Leclerc; and wondrous was the growth her faith had in those days.

On the evening of the third day, Jacqueline and Elsie walked into Meaux together. This was not invariably their habit. Elsie had avoided too frequent conversation with her friend of late. She knew their paths were separate, and was never so persuaded of the fact as this night, when, of her own will, she sought to walk with Jacqueline. The sad face of her friend troubled her; it moved her conscience that she did not deeply share in her anxiety. When they came from Domrémy, she had relied on Jacqueline: there was safety in her counsel,—there was wisdom in it: but now, either?

"It made me scream outright, when I saw the play," said she; "but it is worse to see your face nowadays,—it is more terrible, Jacqueline."

Jacqueline made no reply to this,—and Elsie regarded the silence as sufficient provocation.

"You seem to think I have no feeling," said she. "I am as sorry about the poor fellows as you can be. But I cannot look as if I thought the day of judgment close at hand, when I don't, Jacqueline."

"Very well, Elsie. I am not complaining of your looks."

"But you are,—or you might as well."

"Let not that trouble you, Elsie. Your face is smooth, at least; and your voice does not sound like the voice of one who is in grief. Rejoice,—for, as you say, you have a right to yourself, with which I am not to interfere. We are old friends,—we came away from Lorraine together. Do not forget that. I never will forget it."

"But you are done with me. You say nothing to me. I might as well be dead, for all you care."

"Let us not talk of such things in this manner," said Jacqueline, mildly. But the dignity of her rebuke was felt, for Elsie said,—

"But I seem to have lost you,—and now we are alone together, I may say it. Yes, I have lost you, Jacqueline!"

"This is not the first time we have been alone together in these dreadful three days."

"But now I cannot help speaking."

"You could help it before. Why, Elsie? You had not made up your mind. But now you have, or you would not speak, and insist on speaking. What have you to say, then?"

"Jacqueline! Are you Jacqueline?"

"Am I not?"

"You seem not to be."

"How is it, Elsie?"

"You are silent and stern, and I think you are very unhappy,

"I do not know,—not unhappy, I think. Perhaps I am silent,—I have been so busy. But for all it is so dreadful—no! not unhappy, Elsie."

"Thinking of Leclerc all the while?"

"Of him? Oh, no! I have not been thinking of him,—not constantly. Jesus Christ will take care of him. His mother is quiet, thinking that. I, at least, can be as strong as she. I'm not thinking of the shame and cruelty,—but of what that can be worth which is so much to him, that he counts this punishment, as they call it, as nothing, as hardly pain, certainly not disgrace. The Truth, Elsie!—if I have not as much to say, it is because I have been trying to find the Truth."

"But if you have found it, then I hope I never shall,—if it is the
Truth that makes you so gloomy. I thought it was this business in

"Gloomy? when it may be I have found, or shall find"—

Here Jacqueline hesitated,—looked at Elsie. Grave enough was that look to expel every frivolous feeling from the heart of Elsie,—at least, so long as she remained under its influence. It was something to trust another as Jacqueline intended now to trust her friend. It was a touching sight to see her seeking her old confidence, and appearing to rely on it, while she knew how frail the reed was. But this girl, frivolous as was her spirit, this girl had come with her from the distant native village; their childhood's recollections were the same. And Jacqueline determined now to trust her. For in times of blasting heat the shadow even of the gourd is not to be despised.

"You know what I have looked for so long, Elsie," she said, "you ought to rejoice with me. I need work for that no longer."

"What is that, Jacqueline?"

Even this question, betraying no such apprehension as Jacqueline's words seemed to intimate, did not disturb the girl. She was in the mood when, notwithstanding her show of dependence, she was really in no such necessity. Never was she stronger than now when she put off all show of strength. Elsie stood before her in place of the opposing world. To Elsie's question she replied as readily as though she anticipated the word, and had no expectation of better recollection,—not to speak of better apprehension.

"To bring him out of suffering he has never been made to endure, as surely as God lives. As if the Almighty judged men so! I shall send back no more money to Father La Croix. It is not his prayer, nor my earnings, that will have to do with the eternity of John Gabrie.—Do you hear me, Elsie?"

"I seem to, Jacqueline."

"Have I any cause for wretched looks, then? I am in sight of better fortune than I ever hoped for in this world."

"Then don't look so fearful. It is enough to scare one. You are not a girl to choose to be a fright,—unless this dreadful city has changed you altogether from what you were. You would frighten the Domrémy children with such a face as that; they used not to fear Jacqueline."

"I shall soon be sailing on a smoother sea. As it is, do not speak of my looks. That is too foolish."

"But, oh, I feel as if I must hold you,—hold you!—you are leaving me!"

"Come on, Elsie!" exclaimed Jacqueline, as though she almost hoped this of her dear companion.

"But where?" asked Elsie, not so tenderly.

"Where God leads. I cannot tell."

"I do not understand."

"You would not think the Truth worth buying at the price of your life?"

"My life?"

"Or such a price as he pays who—has been branded to-day?"

"It was not the truth to your mother,—or to mine. It was not the truth to any one we ever knew, till we came here to Meaux."

"It is true to my heart, Elsie. It is true to my conscience. I know that
I can live for it. And it may be"—

"Hush!—do not! Oh, I wish that I could get you back to Domrémy! What is going to come of this? Jacqueline, let us go home. Come, let us start to-night. We shall have the moon all night to walk by. There is nothing in Meaux for us. Oh, if we had never come away! It would have been better for you to work there for—what you wanted,—for what you came here to do."

"No, let God's Truth triumph! What am I? Less than that rush! But if His breath is upon me, I will be moved by it,—I am not a stone."

Then they walked on in silence. Elsie had used her utmost of persuasion, but Jacqueline not her utmost of resistance. Her companion knew this, felt her weakness in such a contest, and was silent.

On to town they went together. They walked together through the streets, passing constantly knots of people who stood about the corners and among the shops, discussing what had taken place that day. They crossed the square where the noonday sun had shone on crowds of people, men and women, gathered from the four quarters of the town and the neighboring country, assembled to witness the branding of a heretic. They entered their court-yard together,—ascended the stairway leading to their lodging. But they were two,—not one.

Elsie's chief desire had been to get Jacqueline safely into the house ere she could find opportunity for expression of what was passing in her mind. Her fear was even greater than her curiosity. She had no desire to learn, under these present circumstances, the arguments and incidents which the knots of men and women were discussing with so much vehemence as they passed by. She could guess enough to satisfy her. So she had hurried along, betraying more eagerness than was common with her to get out of the street. Not often was she so overcome of weariness,—not often so annoyed by heat and dust. Jacqueline, without remonstrance, followed her. But they were two,—not one.

Once safe in their upper room, Elsie appeared to be, after all, not so devoid of interest in what was passing in the street as her hurried walk would seem to betoken. She had not quite yet lost her taste for excitement and display. For immediately she seated herself by the window, and was all eye and ear to what went on outside.

Jacqueline's demonstrations also were quite other than might have been anticipated. Each step she took in her chamber gave an indication that she had a purpose,—and that she would perform it.

She removed from her dress the dust and stain of toil, arranged her hair, made herself clean and decent, to meet the sober gaze of others. Then she placed upon the table the remains of their breakfast,—but she ate nothing.


It was nearly dark when Jacqueline said to Elsie,—

"I am now going to see John and his mother. I must see with my own eyes, and hear with my own ears. I may be able to help them,—and I know they will be able to help me. John's word will be worth hearing,—and I want to hear it. He must have learned in these days more than we shall ever be able to learn for ourselves. Will you go with me?"

"No," cried Elsie,—as though she feared she might against her will be taken into such company. Then, not for her own sake, but for Jacqueline's, she added, almost as if she hoped that she might prove successful in persuasion, "I remember my father and mother. What they taught me I believe. And that I shall live by. I shall never be wiser than they were. And I know I never can be happier. They were good and honest. Jacqueline, we shall never be as happy again as we were in Domrémy, when the pastor blessed us, and we hunted flowers for the altar,—never!—never!" And Elsie Méril, overcome by her recollections and her presentiments, burst into tears.

"It was the happiness of ignorance," said Jacqueline, after a solemn silence full of hurried thought. "No,—I, for one, shall never be as happy as I was then. But my joy will be full of peace and bliss. It will be full of satisfaction,—very different, but such as belongs to me, such as I must not do without. God led us from Domrémy, and with me shall He do as seemeth good to Him. We were children then, Elsie; but now may we be children no longer!"

"I will be faithful to my mother. Go, Jacqueline,—let me alone."

Elsie said this with so much spirit that Jacqueline answered quickly, and yet very kindly,—

"I did not mean to trouble you, dear,—but—no matter now."

No sooner had Jacqueline left the house than Elsie went down to a church near by, where she confessed herself to the priest, and received such goodly counsel as was calculated to fortify her against Jacqueline in the future.

* * * * *

Jacqueline went to the house of the wool-comber, as of late had been her nightly custom,—but not, as heretofore, to lighten the loneliness and anxiety of the mother of Leclerc. Already she had said to the old woman,—

"I need not work now for my father's redemption. Then I will work for you, if your son is disabled. Let us believe that God brought me here for this. I am strong. You can lean on me. Try it."

Now she went to make repetition of the promise to Leclerc, if, perchance, he had come back to his mother sick and sore and helpless. For this reason, when she entered the humble home of the martyr, his eyes fell on her, and he saw her as she had been an angel; how serene was her countenance; and her courage was manifestly such as no mortal fear, no human affliction, could dismay.

Already in that room faithful friends had gathered, to congratulate the living man, and to refresh their strength from the abounding richness of his.

Martial Mazurier, the noted preacher, was there, and Victor Le Roy; besides these, others, unknown by name or presence to Jacqueline.

Among them was the wool-comber,—wounded with many stripes, branded, a heretic! But a man still, it appeared,—a living man,—brave as any hero, determined as a saint,—ready to proclaim now the love of God, and from the couch where he was lying to testify to Jesus and his Truth.

It was a goodly sight to see the tenderness of these men here gathered; how they were forgetful of all inequalities of station, such as worldlings live by,—meeting on a new ground, and greeting one another in a new spirit.

They had come to learn of John. A halo surrounded him; he was transfigured; and through that cloud of glory they would fain penetrate. Perchance his eyes, as Stephen's, had seen heaven open, when men had tried their torments. At least, they had witnessed, when they followed the crowd, that his face, in contrast with theirs who tormented, shone, as it had been the face of an angel. They had witnessed his testimony given in the heroic endurance of physical pain. There was more to be learned than the crowd were fit to hear or could hear. Broken strains of the Lord's song they heard him singing through the torture. Now they had come longing for the full burden of that divinest melody.

Jacqueline entered the room quietly, scarcely observed. She sat down by the door, and it chanced to be near the mother of Leclerc, near Victor Le Roy.

To their conversation she listened as one who listens for his life,—to the reading of the Scripture,—to the singing of the psalm,—that grand old version,—

  "Out of the depths I cry to thee,
  Lord God! Oh, hear my prayer!
  Incline a gracious ear to me,
  And bid me not despair.
  If thou rememberest each misdeed,
  If each should have its rightful meed,
  Lord, who shall stand before thee?

  "Lord, through thy love alone we gain
  The pardon of our sin:
  The strictest life is but in vain,
  Our works can nothing win,
  That man should boast himself of aught,
  But own in fear thy grace hath wrought
  What in him seemeth righteous.

  "Wherefore my hope is in the Lord,
  My works I count but dust;
  I build not there, but on his word,
  And in his goodness trust.
  Up to his care myself I yield;
  He is my tower, my rook, my shield,
  And for his help I tarry."

To the praying of the broken voice of John Leclerc she listened. In his prayer she joined. To the eloquence of Mazurier, whose utterances she laid up in her heart,—to the fervor of Le Roy, which left her eyes not dry, her soul not calm, but strong in its commotion, grasping fast the eternal truths which he, too, would proclaim, she listened.

She was not only now among them, she was of them,—of them forevermore. Though she should never again look on those faces, nor listen to those voices, of them, of all they represented, was she forevermore. Their God was hers,—their faith was hers; their danger would she share,—their work would aid.

Their talk was of the Truth, and of the future of the Truth. Well they understood that the spirit roused among the people would not be quieted again,—that what of ferocity in the nature of the bigot and the powerful had been appeased had but for the moment been satisfied. There would be unremitting watch for victims; everywhere the net for the unwary and the fearless would be laid. Blood-thirstiness and lust and covetousness would make grand their disguises,—broad would their phylacteries be made,—shining with sacred gems, their breast-plates.

Of course it was of the great God's honor these men would be jealous. This heresy must needs be uprooted, or no knowing where would be the end of the wild growth. And, indeed, there was no disputing the fact that there was danger in open acceptance of such doctrines as defied the authority of priestcraft,—ay, danger to falsehood, and death to falsehood!

Fanaticism, cowardice, cruelty, the spirit of persecution, the spirit of authority aroused, ignorance and vanity and foolishness would make themselves companions, no doubt. Should Truth succumb to these? Should Love retreat before the fierce onset of Hate? These brave men said not so. And they looked above them and all human aid for succor,—Jacqueline with them.

When Mazurier and Victor Le Roy went away, they left Jacqueline with the wool-comber's mother, but they did not pass by her without notice. Martial lingered for a moment, looking down on the young girl.

"She is one of us," said the old woman.

Then the preacher laid his hand upon her head, and blessed her.

"Continue in prayer, and listen to the testimony of the Holy Ghost," said he. "Then shall you surely come deep into the blessed knowledge and the dear love of Jesus Christ."

When he had passed on, Victor paused in turn.

"It is good to be here, Jacqueline," said he. '"This is the house of
God; this is the gate of heaven."

And he also went forth, whither Mazurier had gone.

Then beside the bed of the poor wool-comber women like angels ministered, binding up his wounds, and soothing him with voices soft as ever spoke to man. And from the peasant whose toil was in harvest-fields and vineyards came offers of assistance which the poor can best give the poor.

But the wool-comber did not need the hard-earned pence of Jacqueline. When she said, "Let me serve you now, as a daughter and a sister, you two,"—he made no mistake in regard to her words and offer. But he had no need of just such service as she stood prepared to render. In his toil he had looked forward to the seasons of adversity,—had provided for a dark day's disablement; and he was able now to smile upon his mother and on Jacqueline, and to say,—

"I will, indeed, be a brother to you, and my mother will love you as if you were her child. But we shall not take the bread from your mouth to prove it. Our daughter and our sister in the Lord, we thank you and love you, Jacqueline. I know what you have been doing since I went away. The Lord love you, Jacqueline! You will no longer be a stranger and friendless in Meaux, while John Leclerc and his mother are alive,—nay, as long as a true man or woman lives in Meaux. Fear not."

"I will not fear," said Jacqueline.

And she sat by the side of the mother of Leclerc, and thought of her own mother in the heavens, and was tranquil, and prepared, she said to herself, to walk, if indeed she must, through the valley of the shadow of death, and would still fear no evil.


Strengthened and inspired by the scenes of the last three days, Martial Mazurier began to preach with an enthusiasm, bravery, and eloquence unknown before to his hearers. He threw himself into the work of preaching, the new revelation of the ancient eternal Truth, with an ardor that defied authority, that scorned danger, and with a recklessness that had its own reward.

Victor Le Roy was his ardent admirer, his constant follower, his loving friend, his servant. Day by day this youth was studying with indefatigable zeal the truths and doctrines adopted by his teacher. Enchanted by the wise man's eloquence, already a convert to the faith he magnified, he was prepared to follow wherever the preacher led. The fascination of danger he felt, and was allured by. Frowning faces had for him no terrors. He could defy evil.

Jacqueline and he might be called most friendly students. Often in the cool of the day the young man walked out from Meaux along the country-roads, and his face was always toward the setting sun, whence towards the east Jacqueline at that hour would be coming. The girls were living in the region of the vineyards now, and among the vines they worked.

It began to be remarked by some of their companions how much Jacqueline Gabrie and the young student from the city walked together. But the subject of their discourse, as they rested under the trees that fringed the river, was not within the range of common speculation; far enough removed from the ordinary use to which the peasants put their thought was the thinking of Le Roy and Jacqueline.

Often Victor went, carefully and with a student's precision, over the grounds of Martial's arguments, for the satisfaction of Jacqueline. Much pride as well as joy had he in the service; for he reverenced his teacher, and feared nothing so much, in these repetitions, as that this listener, this animated, thinking, feeling Jacqueline, should lose anything by his transmission of the preacher's arguments and eloquence.

And sometimes, on those special occasions which were now constantly occurring, she walked with him to the town, and hearkened for herself in the assemblages of those who were now one in the faith.

Elsie looked on and wondered, but did not jest with Jacqueline, as girls are wont to jest with one another on such points as seemed involved in this friendship between youth and youth, between man and woman.

Towards the conclusion of the girls' appointed labor in the vineyard, a week passed in which Victor Le Roy had not once come out from Meaux in the direction of the setting sun. He knew the time when the peasants' labor in the vineyard would be done; Jacqueline had told him; and with wonder, and with trouble, she lived through the days that brought no word from him.

At work early and late, Jacqueline had no opportunity of discovering what was going on in Meaux. But it chanced, on the last day of the last week in the vineyard, tidings reached her: Martial Mazurier had been arrested, and would be tried, the rumor said, as John Leclerc had been tried; and sentence would be pronounced, doubtless, said conjecture, severe in proportion to the influence the man had acquired, to the position he held.

Hearing this, oppressed, troubled, yet not doubting, Jacqueline determined that she would go to Meaux that evening, and so ascertain the truth. She said nothing to Elsie of her purpose. She was careful in all things to avoid that which might involve her companion in peril in an unknown future; but at nightfall she had made herself ready to set out for Meaux, when her purpose was changed in the first steps by the appearing of Victor Le Roy.

He had come to Jacqueline,—had but one purpose in his coming; yet it was she who must say,—

"Is it true, Victor, that Martial Mazurier is in prison?"

His answer surprised her.

"No, it is not true."

But his countenance did not answer the glad expression of her face with an equal smile. His gravity almost communicated itself to her. Yet this rebound from her recent dismay surely might demand an opportunity.

"I believe you," said she. "But I was coming to see if it could be true. It was hard to believe, and yet it has cost me a great deal to persuade myself against belief, Victor."

"It will cost you still more, Jacqueline. Martial Mazurier has recanted."

"He has been in prison, then?"

"He has retracted, and is free again,—has denied himself. No more glorious words from him, Jacqueline, such as we have heard! He has sold himself to the Devil, you see."


"Mazurier has thought raiment better than life. He has believed a man's life to consist in the abundance of the things he possesseth," said the youth, bitterly. He continued, looking steadfastly at Jacqueline,—"Probably I must give up the Truth also. My uncle is dead: must I not secure my possessions?—for I am no longer a poor man; I cannot afford to let my life fall into the hands of those wolves."

"Mazurier retracted? I cannot believe it, Victor Le Roy!"

"Believe, then, that yesterday the man was in prison, and to-day he is at large. Yes, he says that he can serve Jesus Christ more favorably, more successfully, by complying with the will of the bishop and the priests. You see the force of his argument. If he should be silenced, or imprisoned long, or his life should be cut off, he would then be able to preach no more at all in any way. He only does not believe that whosoever will save his life, in opposition to the law of the everlasting gospel, must lose it."

"Oh, do you remember what he said to John,—what he prayed in that room?
Oh, Victor, what does it mean?"

"It means what cannot be spoken,—what I dare not say or think."

"Not that we are wrong, mistaken, Victor?"

"No, Jacqueline, never! it can never mean that! Whatever we may do with the Truth, we cannot make it false. We may act like cowards, unworthy, ungrateful, ignorant; but the Truth will remain, Jacqueline."

"Victor, you could not desert it."

"How can I tell, Jacqueline? The last time I saw Martial Mazurier, he would have said nobler and more loving words than I can command. But with my own eyes I saw him walking at liberty in streets where liberty for him to walk could be bought only at an infamous price."

"Is there such danger for all men who believe with John Leclerc, and with—with you, Victor?"

"Yes, there is danger, such danger."

"Then you must go away. You must not stay in Meaux," she said, quickly, in a low, determined voice.

"Jacqueline, I must remain in Meaux," he answered, as quickly, with flushed face and flashing eyes. The dignity of conscious integrity, and the "fear of fear," a beholder who could discern the tokens might have perceived in him.

"Oh, then, who can tell? Did he not pray that he might not be led into temptation?"

"Yes," Victor replied, more troubled than scornful,—"yes, and allowed himself to be led at last."

"But if you should go away"——

"Would not that be flying from danger?" he asked, proudly.

"Nay, might it not be doing with your might what you found to do, that you might not be led into temptation?"

"And you are afraid, that, if I stay here, I shall yield to them."

"You say you are not certain, Victor. You repeat Mazurier's words."

"Yet shall I remain. No, I will never run away."

The pride of the young fellow, and the consternation occasioned by the recreancy of his superior, his belief in the doctrines he had confessed with Mazurier, and the time-serving of the latter, had evidently thrown asunder the guards of his peace, and produced a sad state of confusion.

"It were better to run away," said Jacqueline, not pausing to choose the word,—"far better than to stay and defy the Devil, and then find that you could not resist him, Victor. Oh, if we could go, as Elsie said, back to Domrémy,—anywhere away from this cruel Meaux!"

"Have you, then, gained nothing, Jacqueline?"

"Everything. But to lose it,—oh, I cannot afford that!"

"Let us stand together, then. Promise me, Jacqueline," he exclaimed, eagerly, as though he felt himself among defences here, with her.

"What shall I promise, Victor?" she asked, with the voice and the look of one who is ready for any deed of daring, for any work of love.

"I, too, have preached this word."

Her only comment was, "I know you preached it well."

"What has befallen others may befall me."


So strongly, so confidently did she speak this word, that the young man went on, manifestly influenced by it, hesitating no more in his speech.

"May befall me," he repeated.

"'Whosoever believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,'" she answered, with lofty voice, repeating the divine word. "What is our life, that we should hold it at the expense of his Truth? Mazurier was wrong. He can never atone for the wrong he has done."

"I believe it!" exclaimed Victor, with a brightening countenance. The clouds of doubt rose from his face and floated away, as we see the mists ascending from the heights, when we are so happy as to live in the wild hill-country. "You prize Truth more than life. Stand with me in this, Jacqueline. Speak of this Truth as it has come to me. You are all that I have left. I have lost Mazurier. Jacqueline, you are a woman, but you never,—yes! yes! though I dare not say as much of myself, I dare say it of you,—you never could have bought your liberty at such a price as Martial has paid. I know not how, even with the opportunity, he will ever gain the courage to speak of these things again,—those great mysteries which are hidden from the eyes of the covetous and worldly and unbelieving. Promise, stand with me, Jacqueline, and I will rely on you. Forsake me not."

"Victor, has He not said, who can best say it, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'?"

"But, Jacqueline, I love you."

Having said these words, the face of the young man emerged wholly from the eclipse of the former shadow.

"What is this?" said the brave peasant from Domrémy, manifestly doubting whether she had heard aright; and her clear pure eyes were gazing full on Victor Le Roy, actually looking for an explanation of his words.

"I love you, Jacqueline," he repeated. "And I do not involve you in danger, oh, my friend! Only let me have it to believe that my life is dear to Jacqueline, and I shall not be afraid then to lose it, if that testimony be required of me. Shall we not stand side by side, soldiers of Christ, stronger in each other than in all the world beside? Shall it not be so, Jacqueline? True heart, answer me! And if you will not love me, at least say, say you are my friend, you trust me. I will hold your safety sacred."

"I am your friend, Victor."

"Say my wife, Jacqueline. I honored you, that you came from Domrémy.
You are my very dream of Joan,—as brave and as true as beautiful.
Jacqueline, it is not all for the Truth's sake, but for my love's sake.
Is not our work one, moreover? Are we not one in heart and purpose,
Jacqueline? You are alone; let me protect you."

He needed no other answer than he had while his eyes constantly sought hers. Her calm look, the dignity and strength of her composure, assured him of all he longed to learn,—assured him that their hearts, even as their purposes and faith, were one."

"But speak one word," he urged.

The word she spoke was, "I can be true to you, Victor."

Won hardly by a word: too easily, you think? She loved the youth, my friends, and she loved the Truth for which he dared not say that he could sacrifice himself.

"We are one, then," said Victor Le Roy. "It concerned me above all things to prove that, Jacqueline. So you shall have no more to do with these harvest-fields and vineyards henceforth, except to eat of the fruits, if God will. You have borne all the burden and heat of labor you shall ever bear. I can say that, with God's blessing. We shall sit under our own vine. Death in one direction has prepared for life in another. I inherit what my uncle can make use of no longer. We shall look out on our own fields, our harvests; for I think this city will keep us no longer than may he needful. We will go away into Picardy, and I will show you where our Joan was a prisoner; and we will go back to Domrémy, and walk in the places she loved, and pray God to bless us by that fountain, and in the grave-yard where your father and mother sleep. Oh, Jacqueline, is it not all blessed and all fair?"

She could hardly comprehend all the brightness of this vision which Victor Le Roy would fain bring before her. The paths he pointed out to her were new and strange; but she could trust him, could believe that together they might walk without stumbling.

She had nothing to say of her unfitness, her unworthiness, to occupy the place to which he pointed. Not a doubt, not a fear, had she to express. He loved her, and that she knew; and she had no thought of depreciating his choice, its excellency or its wisdom. Whatever excess of wonder she may have felt was not communicated. How know I that she marvelled at her lover's choice, though all the world might marvel?

Then remembering Mazurier, and thinking of her strength of faith, and her high-heartedness, he was eager that Jacqueline should appoint their marriage-day. And more than he, perhaps, supposed was betrayed by this haste. He made his words profoundly good. Strong woman that she was, he wanted her strength joined to his. He was secretly disquieted, secretly afraid to trust himself, since this defection of Martial Mazurier.

What did hinder them? They might be married on Sunday, if she would: they might go down together to the estate, which he must immediately visit.

Through the hurry of thought, and the agitation of heart, and the rush of seeming impossibilities, he brought out at length in triumph her consent.

She did consent. It should all be as he wished. And so they parted outside that town of Meaux on the fair summer evening.—plighted lovers,—hopeful man and woman. For them the evening sky was lovely with the day's last light; for them the serene stars of night arose.

So they parted under the open sky: he going forward to the city, strengthened and refreshed in faith and holy courage; she, adorned with holy hopes which never until now had found place among her visions. Neither was she prepared for them; until he brought them to a heart which, indeed, could never be dismayed by the approach and claim of love.

Love was no strange guest. Fresh and fair as Zephyrus, he came from the forest depths, and she welcomed him,—no stranger,—though the breath that bore him was all heavenly, and his aspiration was remote from earthly sources. Yes, she so imagined.

She went back to the cottage where she and Elsie lodged now, to tell Elsie what had happened,—to thankfulness,—to gazing forward Into a new world,—to aspiration, expectation, joy, humility,—to wonder, and to praise,—to all that my best reader will perceive must be true of Jacqueline on this great evening of her life.


That same night Victor Le Roy was arrested on charge of heresy,—arrested and imprisoned. Watchmen were on the look-out when the lover walked forward with triumphant steps to Meaux.

"This fellow also was among the wool-comber's disciples," said they; and their successful dealing with Mazurier encouraged the authorities to hope that soon all this evil would be overcome,—trampled in the dust: this impudent insurrection of thought should certainly be stifled; youth and age, high station, low, should be taught alike of Rome.

Tidings reached Martial Mazurier next day of what had befallen Victor Le Roy, and he went instantly to visit him in prison. It was an interview which the tender-hearted officials would have invited, had he not forestalled them by inviting himself to the duty. Mazurier had something to do in the matter of reconciling his conscience to the part he had taken, in his recent opportunity to prove himself equally a hero with Leclerc. He had recanted, done evil, in short, that good might come; and was not content with having done this thing: how should he be? Now that his follower was in the same position, he had but one wish,—that he should follow his example. He did not, perhaps, entirely ascertain his motive in this; but it is hardly to be supposed that Mazurier was so persuaded of the justice of his course that he desired to have it imitated by another under the same circumstances.

No! he was forever disgraced in his own eyes, when he remembered the valiant John Leclerc; and it was not to be permitted that Victor Le Roy should follow the example of the wool-comber in preference to that he had given,—that politic, wise, blood-sparing, flesh—loving, truth-depreciating, God-defrauding example.

Accordingly he lost no time in seeking Victor in his cell. It was the very cell in which he himself had lately been imprisoned. Within those narrow walls he had meditated, prayed, and made his choice. There he had stood face to face with fate, with God, with Jesus, and had decided—not in favor of the flogging, and the branding, and the glorious infamy. There, in spite of eloquence and fervor and devotion, in spite of all his past vows and his hopes, he had decided to take the place and part of a timeserver;—for he feared disgrace and pain, and the hissing and scoff and persecution, more than he feared the blasting anger of insulted and forsaken Truth.

He found Victor within his cell, his bright face not overcast with gloom, his eyes not betraying doubts, neither disappointed, astonished, nor in deep dejection. The mood he deemed unfavorable for his special word,—poor, deceived, self-deceiving Mazurier!

He was not merely surprised at these indications,—he was at a loss. A little trepidation, doubt, suspicion would have better suited him. Alas! and was his hour the extremity of another's weakness, not in the elevation of another's spiritual strength? Once when he preached the Truth as moved by the Holy Ghost, it was not to the prudence or the worldly wisdom of his hearers he appealed, but to the higher feelings and the noblest powers of men. Then he called on them to praise God by their faith in all that added to His glory and dominion. But now his eloquence was otherwise directed,—not full of the old fire and enthusiasm,—not trustful in God, but dependent on prudence, as though all help were in man. He had to draw from his own experience now, things new and old,—and was not, by confession of the result of such experience, humiliated!

"You are under a mistake," was his argument. "You have not gone deep into these matters; you have made acquaintance only with the agitated surface of them." And he proceeded to make good all this assertion, it was so readily proven! He also had been beguiled,—ah, had he not? He had been beguiled by the rude eloquence, the insensibility to pain, the pride of opposition, the pride of poverty, the pride of a rude nature, exhibited by John Leclerc.

He acknowledged freely, with a fatal candor, that, until he came to consider these things in their true light, when shut away from all outward influences, until compelled to quiet meditation beyond the reach and influence of mere enthusiasm, he had believed with Leclerc, even as Victor was believing now. He could have gone on, who might tell to what fanatical length? had it not been for that fortunate arrest which made a sane man of him!

Leclerc was not quite in the wrong,—not absolutely,—but neither was he, as Mazurier had once believed, gloriously in the right. It was clearly apparent to him, that Victor Le Roy, having now also like opportunity for calm reflection, would come to like conclusions.

With such confident prophecy, Mazurier left the young man. His visit was brief and hurried;—no duty that could be waived should call him away from his friend at such a time; but he would return; they would speak of this again; and he kissed Victor, and blessed him, and went out to bid the authorities delay yet before the lad was brought to trial, for he was confident, that, if left to reflection, he would come to his senses, and choose wisely—between God and Mammon? Mazurier expressed it in another way.

* * * * *

In the street, Elsie Méril heard of Victor's arrest, and she brought the news to Jacqueline. They had returned to Meaux, to their old lodging, and a day had passed, during which, moment by moment, his arrival was anticipated. Elsie went out to buy a gift for Jacqueline, a bit of fine apparelling which she had coveted from the moment she knew Jacqueline should be a bride. She stole away on her errand without remark, and came back with the gift,—but also with that which made it valueless, unmentionable, though it was a costly offering, purchased with the wages of more than a week's labor in the fields.

It was almost dark when she returned to Jacqueline. Her friend was sitting by the window,—waiting,—not for her; and when she went in to her, it was silently, with no mention of her errand or her love-gift. Quietly she sat down, thankful that the night was falling, waiting for its darkness before she should speak words which would make the darkness to be felt.

"He does not come," said Jacqueline, at length.

"Did you think it was he, when I came up the stairs?" inquired Elsie, tenderly.

"Oh, no! I can tell your step from all the rest."

"His, too, I think."

"Yes, and his, too. My best friends. Strange, if I could not!"

"Oh, I'm glad you said that, Jacqueline!"

"My best friends," repeated Jacqueline,—not merely to please Elsie. Love had opened wide her heart,—and Elsie, weak and foolish though she might be,—Elsie, her old companion, her playmate, her fellow-laborer,—Elsie, who should be to her a sister always, and share in her good-fortune,—Elsie had honorable place there.

"Could anything have happened, Jacqueline?" said Elsie, trembling: her tremulous voice betrayed it.

"Oh, I think not," was the answer.

"But he is so fearless,—he might have fallen into—into trouble."

"What have you heard, Elsie?"

This question was quietly asked, but it struck to the heart of the questioned girl. Jacqueline suspected!—and yet Jacqueline asked so calmly! Jacqueline could hear it,—and yet how could this be declared?

Her hesitation quickened what was hardly suspicion into a conviction.

"What have you heard?" Jacqueline again questioned,—not so calmly as before; and yet it was quite calmly, even to the alarmed ear of Elsie Méril.

"They have arrested Victor, Jacqueline."

"For heresy?"

"I heard it in the street."

Jacqueline arose,—she crossed the chamber,—her hand was on the latch.
Instantly Elsie stood beside her.

"What will you do? I must go with you, Jacqueline."

"Where will you go?" said Jacqueline.

"With you. Wait,—what is it you will do? Or,—no matter, go on, I will follow you,—and take the danger with you."

"Is there danger? For him there is! and there might be for you,—but none for me. Stay, Elsie. Where shall I go, in truth?"

Yet she opened the door, and began to descend the stairs even while she spoke; and Elsie followed her.

First to the house of the wool-comber. John was not at home,—and his mother could tell them nothing, had heard nothing of the arrest of Victor. Then to the place which Victor had pointed out to her as the home of Mazurier. Mazurier likewise they failed to find. Where, then, was the prison of Le Roy's captivity? That no man could tell them; so they came home to their lodging at length in the dark night, there to wait through endless-seeming hours for morning.

On the Sunday they had chosen for their wedding-day Mazurier brought word of Victor to Jacqueline,—was really a messenger, as he announced himself, when she opened for him the door of her room in the fourth story of the great lodging-house. He had come on that day with a message; but it was not in all things—in little beside the love it was meant to prove—the message Victor had desired to convey. In want of more faithful, more trustworthy messenger, Le Roy sent word by this man of his arrest,—and bade Jacqueline pray for him, and come to him, if that were possible. He desired, he said, to serve his Master,—and, of all things, sought the Truth.

To go to the prisoner, Mazurier assured Jacqueline, was impossible, but she might send a message; indeed, he was here to serve his dear friends. Ah, poor girl, did she trust the man by whom she sent into a prison words like these?—

"Hold fast to the faith that is in you, Victor. Let nothing persuade you that you have been mistaken. We asked for light,—it was given us,—let us walk in it; and no matter where it leads,—since the light is from heaven. Do not think of me,—nor of yourself,—but only of Jesus Christ, who said, 'Whosoever would save his life shall lose it.'"

Mazurier took this message. What did he do with it? He tossed it to the winds.

A week after, Le Roy was brought to trial,—and recanted; and so recanting, was acquitted and set at liberty.

Mazurier supposed that he meant all kindly in the exertion he made to save his friend. He would never have ceased from self-reproach, had he conveyed the words of Jacqueline to Victor,—for the effect of those words he could clearly foresee.

And so far from attempting to bring about an interview between the pair, he would have striven to prevent it, had he seen a probability that it would be allowed. He set little value on such words as Jacqueline spoke, when her conscience and her love rose up against each other. The words she had committed to him he could account for by no supposition acceptable and reasonable to him. There was something about the girl he did not understand; she was no fit guide for a man who had need of clear judgment, when such a decision was to be made as the court demanded of Le Roy.

Elsie Méril, between hope and fear, was dumb in these days; but her presence and her tenderness, though not heroic in action nor wise in utterance, had a value of which neither she nor Jacqueline was fully aware.

When Jacqueline learned the issue of the trial, and that Victor had falsified his faith, her first impulse was to fly, that she might never see his face again. For, the instant she heard his choice, her heart told her what she had been hoping during these days of suspense. She had tried to see Martial Mazurier, but without success, since he conveyed, or promised to convey, her message to the prisoner. Of purpose he had avoided her. He guessed what strength she would by this time have attained, and he was determined to save both to each other, though it might be against their will.


Victor Le Roy's first endeavor, on being liberated, was—of course to find Jacqueline? Not so. That was far from his first design. His impulse was to avoid the girl he had dared to love. Mazurier had, indeed, conveyed to his mind an impression that would have satisfied him, if anything of this character could do so. But this was impossible. The secret of his disquiet was far too profound for such easy removal.

He had not in himself the witness that he had fulfilled the will of God. He was disquieted, humiliated, wretched. He could not think of Leclerc, nor upon his protestations, except with shame and remorse,—remorse, already. In his heart, in spite of the impression Mazurier had contrived to convey, he believed not that Jacqueline would bless him to such work as he could henceforth perform, no longer a free man,—no longer possessed of liberty of speech and thought.

He had no sooner renounced his liberty than he became persuaded, by an overwhelming reasoning, as he had never been convinced before, of the pricelessness of that he had sacrificed. When he went from the court-room, from the presence of his judges, he was not a free man, though the dignitaries called him so. Martial Mazurier walked arm in arm with him, but the world was a den of horrors, a blackened and accursed world, to the young man who came from prison, free to use his freedom—as the priests directed!

He went home from the prison with Mazurier. The world had conquered. Love had conquered,—Love, that in the conquest felt itself disgraced. He had sold the divine, he had received the human: it was the old pottage speculation over again. This privilege of liberty from his dungeon had looked so fair!—but now it seemed so worthless! This prospect of life so priceless in contemplation of its loss,—oh, the beggar who crept past him was an enviable man, compared with young Victor Le Roy, the heir of love and riches, the heir of liberty and life!

Yes,—he went home with Mazurier. Where else should he go? Congratulations attended him. He was compelled to receive them with a countenance not too sombre, and a grace not all thankless, or—or—they would say it was of cowardice he had saved his precious body from the sentence of the judges, and given his precious LIFE up to the sentence of the JUDGE.

Yes,—Martial took him home. There they might talk at leisure of those things,—and ask a blessing on the testimony of Jesus, made and kept by them!

Victor Le Roy was too proud to complain now. He assented to all the preacher's sophistry. He allowed himself to be cheered. But this was no such evening as had been spent in the room of the wool-comber, when Leclerc's voice, strong, even through his weakness, called on God, and blessed and praised Him, and the spirit conquered the flesh gloriously,—the old mother of Leclerc sharing his joy, as she had also shared his anguish. Here was no Jacqueline to say to Victor, "Thou hast done well! 'Glory be to Jesus Christ, and His witnesses!'"

Mazurier thanked God for the deliverance of His servant! He dedicated himself and Victor anew to the service of Truth, which they had shrunk from defending! And his eloquence and fervor seemed to stamp the words with sincerity. He seemed not in the least to suspect or fear himself.

With Victor Le Roy such self-deception, such sophistry, was simply impossible.

* * * * *

Not of purpose did he meet Jacqueline that night. She had heard that Le Roy was at liberty, and alone now she applied at the door of Martial Mazurier for admittance, but in vain. The master had signified that his evening was not to be interrupted. Therefore she returned, from waiting near his door, to the street where she and Elsie lived.

Should her woman's pride have led her to her lofty lodging, and kept her there without a sign, till Victor himself came seeking her? She knew nothing of such pride,—but much of love; and her love took her back to the post where she had waited many an hour since that disastrous arrest: she would wait there till morning, if she must,—at least, till one should enter, or come forth, who might tell her of Victor Le Roy.

The light in the preacher's study she could see from the door-step in a court-yard where she waited. Should Mazurier come with Victor, she would let them pass; but if Victor came alone, she had a right to speak.

It was after midnight when the student came down from the preacher's study. She heard his voice when the door opened,—by the street-lamp saw his face. And she recognized also the voice of Mazurier, who, till the last moment of separation, seemed endeavoring to dissuade his friend from leaving him that night.

He heard footsteps following him, as he passed along the pavement,—observed that they gained on him. And could it be any other than Jacqueline who touched his arm, and whispered, "Victor"?

His fast-beating heart told him it was she. He took her hand, and drew it within his arm, and looked upon her face,—the face of his Jacqueline.

"Now where?" said he. "It is late. It is after midnight. Why are you alone in the street?"

"Waiting for you, Victor. I heard you were at liberty, and I supposed you were with him. I was safe."

"Yes,—for you fear nothing. That is the only reason. You knew I was with the preacher, Jacqueline. Why? Because—because I am with him, of course."

"Yes," she said. "I heard it was so, Victor."

"Strange!—strange!—is it not? A prison is a better place to learn the truth than the pure air of liberty, it seems," said he, bitterly.

"What is that?" she asked. She seemed not to understand his meaning.

"Nothing. I am acquitted of heresy, you know. It seems, what we talked so bravely meant—nothing. Oh, I am safe, now!"

"It was to preach none the less,—to hold the truth none the less. But if he lost his life, there was an end of all; or if he lost his liberty, it was as bad. But he would keep both, and serve God so," said Jacqueline.

"Yes," cried Victor, "precisely what he said. I have said the same, you think?"

"If you are quite clear that Leclerc and the rest of us are all wrong,


"What is it, Victor?"

"'The rest of us,' you say. What would you have done in my place?"

"God knows. I pretend not to know anything more."

"But 'the rest of us,' you said. You think that you at least are with

"That was the truth you taught me, Victor. But—I have not yet been tried."

"That is safe to say. What makes you speak so prudently, Jacqueline? Why do you not declare, 'Though all men deny Thee, yet will I never deny Thee'? Ah, you have not been tried! You are not yet in danger of the judgment, Jacqueline!"

"Do not speak so; you frighten me; it is not like you. How can I tell? I do not know but in this retirement, in this thought you have been compelled to, you have obtained more light than any one can have until he comes to just such a place."

"Ah, Jacqueline, why not say to me what you are thinking? Have you lost your courage? Say, 'Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.'"

"No,—oh, no! How could I say it, my poor Victor? How do you know?"

"Surely you cannot know, as you say. But from where you stand, that is what you are thinking. Jacqueline, confess! If you should speak your mind, it would be, 'Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God, poor coward!' Oh, Jacqueline, Mazurier may deceive himself! I speak not for him; but what will you do with your poor Victor, my poor Jacqueline?"

She did not linger in the answer,—she did not sob or tremble,—he was by her side.

"Love him to the end. As He, when He loved His own."

"Your own, poor girl? No, no!"

"You gave yourself to me," she answered straightway, with resolute firmness clinging to the all she had.

"I was a man then," he answered. "But I will never give a liar and a coward to Jacqueline Gabrie. Everything but myself, Jacqueline! Take the old words, and the old memory. But for this outcast, him you shall forget. My God! thou hast not brought this brave girl from Domrémy, and lighted her heart with a coal from Thine altar, that she should turn from Thee to me! If you love a liar and a coward, Jacqueline, you cannot help yourself,—he will make you one, too. And what I loved you for was your truth and purity and courage. I have given you a treasure which was greater than I could keep.—Where is it that you live now, Jacqueline? I am not yet such a poltroon that I am afraid to conduct you. I think that I should have the courage to protect you to-night, if you were in any immediate danger. Come, lead the way."

"No," said Jacqueline. "I am not going home. I could not sleep; and a roof over my head—any save God's heaven—would suffocate me, I believe."

"Go, then, as you will. But where?"

Jacqueline did not answer, but walked quietly on; and so they passed beyond the city-borders to the river-bank,—far away into the country, through the fields, under the light of stars and of the waning moon.

"If I had been true!" said Victor,—"if I had not listened to him! But him I will not blame. For why should I blame him? Am I an idiot? And his influence could not have prevailed, had I not so chosen, when I stood before my judges and they questioned me. No,—I acquit Mazurier. Perhaps what I have denied never appeared to him so glorious as it did once to me; and so he was guiltless at least of knowing what it was I did. But I knew. And I could not have been deceived for a moment. No,—I think it impossible that for a moment I should have been deceived. They would have made a notable example of me, Jacqueline. I am rich,—I am a student.—Oh, yes! Jesus Christ may die for me, and I accept the benefit; but when it comes to suffering for His sake,—you could not have expected that of such a poltroon, Jacqueline! We may look for it in brave men like Leclerc, whose very living depends on their ability to earn their bread,—to earn it by daily sweat; but men who need not toil, who have leisure and education,—of course you would not expect such testimony to the truth of Jesus from them! Bishop Briconnet recants,—and Martial Mazurier; and Victor Le Roy is no braver man, no truer man than these!"

With bitter shame and self-scorning he spoke.—Poor Jacqueline had not a word to say. She sat beside him. She would help him bear his cross. Heavy-laden as he, she awaited the future, saying, in the silence of her spirit's dismal solitude, "Oh, teach us! Oh, help us!" But she called not on any name; her prayer went out in search of a God whom in that hour she knew not. The dark cloud and shadow of Satan that overshadowed him was also upon her.

"Mazurier is coming in the morning to take me with him, Jacqueline," said Victor. "We are to make a journey."

"What is it, Victor?" she asked, quietly.

There was nothing left for her but patience,—that she clearly saw,—nothing but patience, and quiet enduring of the will of God.

"He is afraid of me,—or of himself,—or of both, I believe. He thinks a change of scene would be good for both of us, poor lepers that we are."

"I must go with you, Victor Le Roy," said the resolute Jacqueline.

"Wherefore?" asked he.

"Because, when you were strong and happy, that was your desire, Victor; and now that you are sick and sorrowing, I will not give you to another: no! not to Mazurier, nor to any one that breathes, except myself, to whom you belong."

"I must stay here in Meaux, then?"

"That depends upon yourself, Victor."

"We were to have been married. We were going to look after our estate, now that the hard summer and the hard years of work are ended."

"Yes, Victor, it was so."

"But I will not wrong you. You were to be the wife of Victor Le Roy. You are his widow, Jacqueline. For you do not think that he lives any longer?"

"He lives, and he is free! If he has sinned, like Peter even, he weeps bitterly."

"Like Peter? Peter denied his Lord. But he did weep, as you say,—bitterly. Peter confessed again."

"And none served the Master with truer heart or greater courage afterward. Victor, you remember."

"Even so,—oh, Jacqueline!"

"Victor! Victor! it was only Judas who hanged himself."

"Come, Jacqueline!"

She arose and went with him. At dawn they were married. Love did lead and save them.

I see two youthful students studying one page. I see two loving spirits walking through thick darkness. Along the horizon flicker the promises of day. They say, "O Holy Ghost, hast thou forsaken thine own temples?" Aloud they cry to God.

I see them wandering among Domrémy woods and meadows,—around the castle of Picardy,—talking of Joan. I see them resting by the graves they find in two ancient villages. I see them walk in sunny places; they are not called to toil; they may gather all the blossoms that delight their eyes. Their love grows beyond childhood,—does not die before it comes to love's best estate. Happy bride and bridegroom! But I see them as through a cloud whose fair hues are transient.

From the meadow-lands and the vineyards and the dark forests of the mountains, from study and from rest, I see them move with solemn faces and calm steps. Brave lights are in their eyes, and flowers that are immortal they carry in their hands. No distillation can exhaust the fragrance of those blooms.

What dost thou here, Victor? What dost thou here, Jacqueline?

This is the place of prisons. Here they light again, as they have often lighted, torch and fagot;—life must pay the cost! Angry crowds and hooting multitudes love this dreary square. Oh, Jacqueline and Victor, what is this I behold?

They come together from their prison, hand in hand. "The testimony of Jesus!" Stand back, Mazurier! Retire, Briconnet! Here is not your place,—this is not your hour! Yet here incendiaries fire the temples of the Holy Ghost!

The judges do not now congratulate. Jacqueline waits not now at midnight for the coming of Le Roy. Bride and bridegroom, there they stand; they face the world to give their testimony.

And a woman's voice, almost I deem the voice of Elsie Méril, echoes the mother's cry that followed John Leclerc when he fought the beasts at Meaux,—

"Blessed be Jesus Christ, and His witnesses."

So of the Truth were they borne up that day in a blazing chariot to meet their Lord in the air, to be forever with their Lord.

* * * * *


  Memorial of my former days,
  Magnolia, as I scent thy breath,
  And on thy pallid beauty gaze,
  I feel not far from death!

  So much hath happened! and so much
  The tomb hath claimed of what was mine!
  Thy fragrance moves me with a touch
  As from a hand divine:

  So many dead! so many wed!
  Since first, by this Magnolia's tree,
  I pressed a gentle hand and said,
  A word no more for me!

  Lady, who sendest from the South
  This frail, pale token of the past,
  I press the petals to my mouth,
  And sigh—as 'twere my last.

  Oh, love, we live, but many fell!
  The world's a wreck, but we survive!—
  Say, rather, still on earth we dwell,
  But gray at thirty-five!


In 1849, the discovery by Mr. Payne Collier of a copy of the Works of Shakspeare, known as the folio of 1632, with manuscript notes and emendations of the same or nearly the same date, created a great and general interest in the world of letters.

The marginal notes were said to be in a handwriting not much later than the period when the volume came from the press; and Shakspearian scholars and students of Shakspeare, and the far more numerous class, lovers of Shakspeare, learned and unlearned, received with respectful eagerness a version of his text claiming a date so near to the lifetime of the master that it was impossible to resist the impression that the alterations came to the world with only less weight of authority than if they had been undoubtedly his own.

The general satisfaction of the literary world in the treasure-trove was but little alloyed by the occasional cautiously expressed doubts of some caviller at the authenticity of the newly discovered "curiosity of literature"; the daily newspapers made room in their crowded columns for extracts from the volume; the weekly journals put forth more elaborate articles on its history and contents; and the monthly and quarterly reviews bestowed their longer and more careful criticism upon the new readings of that text, to elucidate which has been the devout industry of some of England's ripest scholars and profoundest thinkers; while the actors, not to be behindhand in a study especially concerning their vocation, adopted with more enthusiasm than discrimination some of the new readings, and showed a laudable acquaintance with the improved version, by exchanging undoubtedly the better for the worse, upon the authority of Mr. Collier's folio, soon after the publication of which I had the ill-fortune to hear a popular actress destroy the effect and meaning of one of the most powerful passages in "Macbeth" by substituting the new for the old reading of the line,—

  "What beast was it, then,
  That made you break this enterprise to me?"

The cutting antithesis of "What beast" in retort to her husband's assertion, "I dare do all that may become a man," was tamely rendered by the lady, in obedience to Mr. Collier's folio, "What boast was it, then,"—a change that any one possessed of poetical or dramatic perception would have submitted to upon nothing short of the positive demonstration of the author's having so written the passage.

Opinions were, indeed, divided as to the intrinsic merit of the emendations or alterations. Some of the new readings were undoubted improvements, some were unimportant, and others again were beyond all controversy inferior to the established text of the passages; and it seemed not a little difficult to reconcile the critical acumen and poetical insight of many of the corrections with the feebleness and prosaic triviality of others.

Again, it was observed by those conversant with the earlier editions, especially with the little read or valued Oxford edition, that a vast number of the passages given as emendations in Mr. Collier's folio were precisely the same in Hanmer's text. Indeed, it seems not a little remarkable that neither Mr. Collier nor his opponents have thought it worth their while to state that nearly half, and that undoubtedly the better half, of the so-called new readings are to be found in the finely printed, but little esteemed, text of the Oxford Shakspeare. If, indeed, these corrections now come to us with the authority of a critic but little removed from Shakspeare's own time, it is remarkable that Sir Thomas Hanmer's, or rather Mr. Theobald's, ingenuity should have forestalled the fiat of Mr. Collier's folio in so many instances. On the other hand, it may have been judged by others besides a learned editor of Shakspeare from whom I once heard the remark, that the fact of the so-called new readings being many of them in Rowe and Hanmer, and therefore well known to the subsequent editors of Shakspeare, who nevertheless did not adopt them, proved that in their opinion they were of little value and less authority. But, says Mr. Collier, inasmuch as they are in the folio of 1632, which I now give to the world, they are of authority paramount to any other suggestion or correction that has hitherto been made on the text of Shakspeare.

Thus stood the question in 1853. How stands it in 1860? After a slow, but gradual process of growth and extension of doubt and questionings, more or less calculated to throw discredit on the authority of the marginal notes in the folio,—the volume being subjected to the careful and competent examination of certain officers of the library of the British Museum,—the result seems to threaten a considerable reduction in the supposed value of the authority which the public was called upon to esteem so highly.

The ink in which the annotations are made has been subjected to chemical analysis, and betrays, under the characters traced in it, others made in pencil, which are pronounced by some persons of a more modern date than the letters which have been traced over them.

Here at present the matter rests. Much angry debate has ensued between the various gentlemen interested in the controversy,—Mr. Collier not hesitating to suggest that pencil-marks in imitation of his handwriting had been inserted in the volume, and a fly-leaf abstracted from it, while in the custody of Messrs. Hamilton and Madden of the British Museum; while the replies of these gentlemen would go towards establishing that the corrections are forgeries, and insinuating that they are forgeries for which Mr. Collier is himself responsible.

While the question of the antiquity and authority of these marginal notes remains thus undecided, it may not be amiss to apply to them the mere test of common sense in order to determine upon their intrinsic value, to the adequate estimate of which all thoughtful readers of Shakspeare must be to a certain degree competent.

The curious point, of whose they are, may test the science of decipherers of palimpsest manuscripts; the more weighty one, of what they are worth, remains, as it was from the first, a matter on which every student of Shakspeare may arrive at some conclusion for himself. And, indeed, to this ground of judgment Mr. Collier himself appeals, in his preface to the "Notes and Emendations," in no less emphatic terms than the following:—"As Shakspeare was especially the poet of common life, so he was emphatically the poet of common sense; and to the verdict of common sense I am willing to submit all the more material alterations recommended on the authority before me."

I take "The Tempest," the first play in Mr. Collier's volume of "Notes and Emendations," and, while bestowing my principal attention on the inherent worth of the several new readings, shall point out where they tally exactly with the text of the Oxford edition, because that circumstance has excited little attention in the midst of the other various elements of interest in the controversy, and also because I have it in my power to give from a copy of that edition in my possession some passages corrected by John and Charles Kemble, who brought to the study of the text considerable knowledge of it and no inconsiderable ability for poetical and dramatic criticism.

In the first scene of the first act of "The Tempest" Mr. Collier gives the line,—

"Good Boatswain, have care,"—

adding, "It may be just worth remark, that the colloquial expression is have a care, and a is inserted in the margin of the corrected folio, 1632, to indicate, probably, that the poet so wrote it, or, at all events, that the actor so delivered it."

In the copy of Hanmer in my possession the a is also inserted in the margin, upon the authority of one of the eminent actors above mentioned.


  "The sky. it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
  But that the sea, mounting to the welkin's cheek,
  Dashes the fire out."

The manuscript corrector of the folio, 1632, has substituted heat for "cheek," which appears to me an alteration of no value whatever. Shakspeare was more likely to have written cheek than heat; for elsewhere he uses the expression, "Heaven's face," "the welkin's face," and, though irregular, the expression is poetical.

At Miranda's exclamation,—

  "A brave vessel,
  Who had no doubt some noble creature in her,
  Dash'd all to pieces,"—

Mr. Collier does Theobald the justice to observe, that he, as well as the corrector of the folio, 1632, adds the necessary letter s to the word "creature," making the plural substantive agree with her other exclamation of, "Poor souls, they perished!"

Where Mr. Collier, upon the authority of his folio, substitutes _pre_vision for "provision" in the lines of Prospero,—

  "The direful spectacle of the wreck . . .
  I have with such provision in mine art
  So safely ordered," etc.,—

I do not agree to the value of the change. It is very true that _pre_vision means the foresight that his art gave him, but _pro_vision implies the exercise of that foresight or _pre_vision; it is therefore better, because more comprehensive.

Mr. Collier's folio gives as an improvement upon Malone and Steevens's reading of the passage,—

  "And thy father
  Was Duke of Milan; and his only heir
  A princess; no worse issued,"—

the following:—

  "And thy father
  Was Duke of Milan,—thou his only heir
  And princess no worse issued."

Supposing the folio to be ingenious rather than authoritative, the passage, as it stands in Hanmer, is decidedly better, because clearer:—

  "And thy father
  Was Duke of Milan,—thou, his only heir
  A princess—no worse issued."

In the next passage, given as emended by the folio, we have what appears to me one bad and one decidedly good alteration from the usual reading, which, in all the editions given hitherto, has left the meaning barely perceptible through the confusion and obscurity of the expression.

  "He being thus lorded,
  Not only with what my revenue yielded,
  But what my power might else exact,—like one
  Who having unto truth by telling of it
  Made such a sinner of his memory
  To credit his own lie,—he did believe
  He was indeed the Duke."

The folio says,—

"He being thus loaded."

And to this change I object: the meaning was obvious before; "lorded" stands clearly enough here for made lord of or over, etc.; and though the expression is unusual, it is less prosaic than the proposed word loaded. But in the rest of the passage the critic of the folio does immense service to the text, in reading

  "Like one
  Who having to untruth by telling of it
  Made such a sinner of his memory
  To credit his own lie,—he did believe
  He was indeed the Duke."

This change carries its own authority in its manifest good sense.

Of the passage,—

  A treacherous army levied, one midnight
  Fated to the purpose, did Antonio open
  The gates of Milan, and in the dead of darkness
  The ministers for the purpose hurried thence
  Me and thy crying self,"—

Mr. Collier says that the iteration of the word "purpose," in the fourth line, after its employment in the second, is a blemish, which his folio obviates by substituting the word practice in the first line. I think this a manifest improvement, though not an important one.

Mr. Collier gives Rowe the credit of having altered "butt" to boat, and "have quit it" to had quit it, in the lines,—

  "Where they prepar'd
  A rotten carcase of a butt not rigg'd,
  Nor tackle, sail, nor mast,—the very rats
  Instinctively have quit it."

Adding, that in both changes he is supported by the corrector of the folio, 1632. Hanmer gives the passage exactly as the latter, and as Rowe does.

We now come to the stage-directions in the folio, to which Mr. Collier gives, I think, a most exaggerated value. He says, that, where Prospero says,—

  "Lend thy hand
  And pluck my magic garment from me,—so
  Lie there, my art,"—

the words, "Lay it down," are written over against the passage. Now this really seems a very unnecessary direction, inasmuch as the text very clearly indicates that Prospero lays down as well as plucks off his "magic garment,"—unless we are to suppose Miranda holding it over her arm till he resumes it. But still less do I agree with Mr. Collier in thinking the direction, "Put on robe again," at the passage beginning, "Now I arise," any extraordinary accession to the business, as it is technically called, of the scene: for I do not think that his resuming his magical robe was in any way necessary to account for the slumber which overcomes Miranda, "in spite of her interest in her father's story," and which Mr. Collier says the commentators have endeavored to account for in various ways; but putting "because of her interest in her father's story," instead of "in spite of," I feel none of the difficulty which beset the commentators, and which Mr. Collier conjures by the stage-direction which makes Prospero resume his magic robe at a certain moment in order to put his daughter to sleep. Worthy Dr. Johnson, who was not among the puzzled commentators on this occasion, suggests, very agreeably to common sense, that "Experience proves that any violent agitation of the mind easily subsides in slumber." But Mr. Collier says, the Doctor gives this very reasonable explanation of Miranda's sleep only because he was not acquainted with the folio stage-direction about Prospero's coat, and knew no better. Now we are acquainted with this important addition to the text, and yet know no better than to agree with Doctor Johnson, that Miranda's slumbers were perfectly to be accounted for without the coat. Mr. Collier does not seem to know that a deeper and heavier desire to sleep follows upon the overstrained exercise of excited attention than on the weariness of a dull and uninteresting appeal to it.

But let us consider Shakspeare's text, rather than the corrector's additions, for a moment. Within reach of the wild wind and spray of the tempest, though sheltered from their fury, Miranda had watched the sinking ship struggling with the mad elements, and heard when "rose from sea to sky the wild farewell." Amazement and pity had thrown her into a paroxysm of grief, which is hardly allayed by her father's assurance, that "there's no harm done." After this terrible excitement follows the solemn exordium to her father's story,—

  "The hour's now come;
  The very minute bids thee ope thine ear.
  Obey and be attentive."

The effort she calls upon her memory to make to recover the traces of her earliest impressions of life,—the strangeness of the events unfolded to her,—the duration of the recital itself, which is considerable,—and, above all, the poignant personal interest of its details, are quite sufficient to account for the sudden utter prostration of her overstrained faculties and feelings, and the profound sleep that falls on the young girl. Perhaps Shakspeare knew this, though his commentators, old and new, seem not to have done so; and without a professed faith, such as some of us moderns indulge in, in the mysteries of magnetism, perhaps he believed enough in the magnetic force of the superior physical as well as mental power of Prospero's nature over the nervous, sensitive, irritable female organization of his child to account for the "I know thou canst not choose" with which he concludes his observation on her drowsiness, and his desire that she will not resist it. The magic gown may, indeed, have been powerful,—but hardly more so, we think, than the nervous exhaustion which, combined with the authoritative will and eyes of her lord and father, bowed down the child's drooping eyelids in profoundest sleep.

The strangest of all Mr. Collier's comments upon this passage, however, is that where he represents Miranda as, up to a certain point of her father's story, remaining "standing eagerly listening by his side." This is not only gratuitous, but absolutely contrary to Shakspeare's text,—a greater authority, I presume, than even that of the annotated folio. Prospero's words to his daughter, when first he begins the recital of their sea-sorrow, are,—

  "Sit down!
  For thou must now know further."

Does Mr. Collier's folio reject this reading of the first line? or does he suppose that Miranda remained standing, in spite of her father's command? Moreover, when he interrupts his story with the words, "Now I arise," he adds, to his daughter, "Sit still," which clearly indicates both that she was seated and that she was about to rise (naturally enough) when her father did. We say, "Sit down," to a person who is standing; and, "Sit still," to a person seated who is about to rise; and in all these minute particulars, the simple text of Shakspeare, if attentively followed, gives every necessary indication of his intention with regard to the attitudes and movements of the persons on the stage in this scene; and the highly commended stage-directions of the folio are here, therefore, perfectly superfluous.

The next alteration in the received text is a decided improvement. In speaking of the royal fleet dispersed by the tempest, Ariel says,—

  "They all have met again,
  And are upon the Mediterranean flote
  Bound sadly home for Naples";—

for which Mr. Collier's folio substitutes,—

  "They all have met again,
  And all upon the Mediterranean float,
  Bound sadly back to Naples."

Mr. Collier notices, that the improvement of giving the lines,

"Which any print of goodness will not take,"

to Prospero, instead of Miranda, dates as far back as Dryden and Davenant's alteration of "The Tempest," from which he says Theobald and others copied it.

The corrected folio gives its authority to the lines of the song,—

  "Foot it featly here and there,
  And, sweet sprites, the burden bear,"—

which stands so in Hanmer, and, indeed is the usually received arrangement of the song.

This is the last corrected passage in the first act, in the course of which Mr. Collier gives us no fewer than sixteen, altered, emended, and commented upon in his folio. Many of the emendations are to be found verbatim in the Oxford and subsequent editions, and three only appear to us to be of any special value, tried by the standard of common sense, to which we agreed, on Mr. Collier's invitation, to refer them.

The line in Prospero's threat to Caliban,—

  "I'll rack thee with old cramps,
  Fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar,"—

occasioned one of Mr. John Kemble's characteristic differences with the public, who objected, perhaps not without reason, to hearing the word "aches" pronounced as a dissyllable, although the line imperatively demands it; and Shakspeare shows that the word was not unusually so pronounced, as he introduces it with the same quantity in the prose dialogue of "Much Ado about Nothing," and makes it the vehicle of a pun which certainly argues that it was familiar to the public ear as ache and not ake. When Hero asks Beatrice, who complains that she is sick, what she is sick for,—a hawk, a hound, or a husband,—Beatrice replies, that she is sick for—or of—that which begins them all, an ache,—an H. Indeed, much later than Shakspeare's day the word was so pronounced; for Dean Swift, in the "City Shower," has the line,—

"Old aches throb, your hollow tooth will rage."

The opening of this play is connected with my earliest recollections. In looking down the "dark backward and abysm of time," to the period when I was but six years old, my memory conjures up a vision of a stately drawing-room on the ground-floor of a house, doubtless long since swept from the face of the earth by the encroaching tide of new houses and streets that has submerged every trace of suburban beauty, picturesqueness, or rural privacy in the neighborhood of London, converting it all by a hideous process of assimilation into more London, till London seems almost more than England can carry.

But in those years, "long enough ago," to which I refer,—somewhere between Lea and Blackheath, stood in the midst of well-kept grounds a goodly mansion, which held this pleasant room. It was always light and cheerful and warm, for the three windows down to the broad gravel-walk before it faced south; and though the lawn was darkened just in front of them by two magnificent yew-trees, the atmosphere of the room itself, in its silent, sunny loftiness, was at once gay and solemn to my small imagination and senses,—much as the interior of Saint Peter's of Rome has been since to them. Wonderful, large, tall jars of precious old china stood in each window, and my nose was just on a level with the wide necks, whence issued the mellowest smell of fragrant pot-pourri. Into this room, with its great crimson curtains and deep crimson carpet, in which my feet seemed to me buried, as in woodland moss, I used to be brought for recompense of having been "very good," and there I used to find a lovely-looking lady, who was to me the fitting divinity of this shrine of pleasant awfulness. She bore a sweet Italian diminutive for her Christian name, added to one of the noblest old ducal names of Venice, which was that of her family.

I have since known that she was attached to the person of, and warmly personally attached to, the unfortunate Caroline of Brunswick, Princess of Wales,—then only unfortunate; so that I can now guess at the drift of much sad and passionate talk with indignant lips and tearful eyes, of which the meaning was then of course incomprehensible to me, but which I can now partly interpret by the subsequent history of that ill-used and ill-conducted lady.

The face of my friend with the great Venetian name was like one of Giorgione's pictures,—of that soft and mellow colorlessness that recalls the poet's line,—

  "E smarrisce 'l bel volto in quel colore
  Che non è pallidezza, ma candore,"—

or the Englishman's version of the same thought,—

"Her face,—oh, call it fair, not pale!"

It seemed to me, as I remember it, cream-colored; and her eyes, like clear water over brown rocks, where the sun is shining. But though the fair visage was like one of the great Venetian master's portraits, her voice was purely English, low, distinct, full, and soft,—and in this enchanting voice she used to tell me the story of the one large picture which adorned the room.

Over and over again, at my importunate beseeching, she told it,—sometimes standing before it, while I held her hand and listened with upturned face, and eyes rounding with big tears of wonder and pity, to a tale which shook my small soul with a sadness and strangeness far surpassing the interest of my beloved tragedy, "The Babes in the Wood,"—though at this period of my existence it has happened to me to interrupt with frantic cries of distress, and utterly refuse to hear, the end of that lamentable ballad.

But the picture.—In the midst of a stormy sea, on which night seemed fast settling down, a helmless, mastless, sailless bark lay weltering giddily, and in it sat a man in the full flower of vigorous manhood. His attitude was one of miserable dejection, and, oh, how I did long to remove the hand with which his eyes were covered, to see what manner of look in them answered to the bitter sorrow which the speechless lips expressed! His other hand rested on the fair curls of a girl-baby of three years old, who clung to his knee, and, with wide, wondering blue eyes and laughing lips, looked up into the half-hidden face of her father.—"And that," said the sweet voice at my side, "was the good Duke of Milan, Prospero,—and that was his little child, Miranda."

There was something about the face and figure of the Prospero that suggested to me those of my father; and this, perhaps, added to the poignancy with which the representation of his distress affected my childish imagination. But the impression made by the picture, the story, and the place where I heard the one and saw the other, is among the most vivid that my memory retains. And never, even now, do I turn the magic page that holds that marvellous history, without again seeing the lovely lady, the picture full of sad dismay, and my own six-year-old self listening to that earliest Shakspearian lore that my mind and heart ever received. I suppose this is partly the secret of my love for this, above all other of the poet's plays;—it was my first possession in the kingdom of unbounded delight which he has since bestowed upon me.

* * * * *


Shall I not to-day, Estelle, give you the history of this great arm-chair, the only historical piece of furniture in our house? The heavy oak frame was carved by an imprisoned poet. They took away his pen, and in larger lines he carved this chair. Heavily moulded Sphinxes form its arms; the strong legs and feet of some wild beast its support; the crest, a winged figure with bandaged eyes,—a Fate or Fortune we might call it,—that mild look not to be resisted in its gentle strength. But blind Fortune could not so master him: his prison made for him only a secure room, in which to study, to work out, the mysteries.

The rich covering was wrought long years ago, in some ancient convent, by a saintly nun. Holy, pious tears dropped on it as she wrought. She pricked out brave bright flowers with her needle, though her own life was pale and sad. I cover this sacred work with housewifely care; but it makes our rest there more hallowed.

This old chair we call our dreaming-chair,—to borrow a name, our Sleepy-Hollow. It is so simple and grand in workmanship, it should be the seat of honor in a king's palace; and yet it is in place in our small parlor. Perhaps some day I may tell you of the ancient dames and knights who once possessed it; but they have long since slept their last sleep,—no summer-afternoon's nap, but a sleep so long to last, now their long day's work is done.

Not quite finished is the old man's work who this afternoon sat in the chair and quietly dreamed back his youth. I saw the hardened, withered face soften, as the bright light of childhood played around it; the meagre, hard old man forgot for a little the sharp want that pinched him; when he waked, he still babbled of green fields.

"Did Robinson Crusoe ever come back to his father and mother?" he says to me. "Poor boy! poor boy! I went to sea when I was young. Father and mother didn't like it. Came back after a four-years' voyage, and off again, soon as the ship had unloaded, on another trip up the Channel: took all my money to fit out. Might have had the Custom-House, if there had been anybody to speak for me; would have done my work well, and maybe had kept it thirty or forty years. Should be glad to creep into a hay-mow and pay somebody to feed me. Wish old Uncle Jack was good for somethin' besides work, work,—nothin' but hard work! Wish he could talk and say somethin'.

"Now that was good, sensible poetry you were reading, wasn't it? Good stuff? Couldn't hear a word of it: poor old fellow can't hear much now. Wish my father had lived longer; he would have told me things; he used to be different to me. I could have been a sight of comfort to him in mathematics." (His father died when the son was fifty years old; the thirty years he had lived since seemed a long life to the old man.) "Mayn't I look at the poetry?"

I found the place for him,—"New England."

"Yes, the farmer takes lots of comfort, walking on the road, foddering cattle, cutting wood."

Uncle Jack believes heartily in New England corn, and in the planting and hoeing of Indian corn he takes great delight: not to corn-laws, but to Indian corn, the talk always drifts.

"I hear you are going to plant a couple of acres of corn, Sir. Glad of it. This is an excellent dish of tea, Marm. This bread tastes like my mother's bread; baked in a bake-kettle. These mangoes are nice,—such as we used to have."

Turning to Aunt Sarah, he says,—

"Did you ever notice a difference in eggs, Marm?"

"Yes, Aunt thinks there is a difference between fresh and stale eggs."

"But I mean, Marm, that some are thin-shelled, some rough, some round, some peaked: a hen lays 'em just so all her life. Ever see a difference?"

It is an open question.

Then turning to the master of the house,—

"Do you like choc'late, Sir? Well, how you going to fix it when you haven't got any milk? Well, you just beat up an egg, and pour on the choc'late, boiling hot, stirring all the time, and you won't want any milk, Sir. That was what kept me alive aboard the Ranger."

Now comes the story of the Ranger. He was getting in years, he said, and wanted a home for his old age; so he built him a boat. He put a little open stove in it, because an open fire felt kind o' comfortable to his toes. He named it the Ranger; because when he was a little boy he took a long walk to the beach with his father, the little Iulus following with unequal steps, and they saw a shipwrecked vessel, named the Ranger, and he liked the name. He kept that name in his heart many years. When at last, by dint of much saving and scraping together, much hoeing of Indian corn, the old stocking-foot was at last filled, all the little odd bits, poured out and counted up, came to enough to speak to the ship-builder. Oh, the model! how the old man's brain worked over that! Then the timber,—each was a chosen piece; oak, apple, cherry, pine, each tree sent a stick. The home was builded, was launched, was christened: The Ranger. Alas, it was an ill-omened name to him! Brave and young was he in heart, and loved right well his tossing, rolling home; and many a hard gale did he ride out in her alone, old as he was.

Too old was he to be trusted on the treacherous deep; and friends (?) advised and counselled, and the home of his old age was sold. (He never got the pay!) Now, with restless, wandering feet, he makes long tramps, trying to collect old debts. Kind-hearted old man that he is, thinking always he is hard on 'em when he gets a promise to pay! A wife has been sick; perhaps he had better not ask for it now. His ox has died; maybe he had better wait. Fumbling over old papers in his pocket-book, muttering something about a pension: he was on the list, but was never called out, or somebody took his place.

Poor old Uncle Jack, with his dream of a pension, his dream of an office, his dream of a home in a boat! With him "many a dream has gone down the stream."

May some friendly hand at last close his eyes to that last long sleep, when his turn comes to heave down!

He is always finding Indian arrowheads and hatchets and pestles. He picks full pails of the nicest-looking huckleberries. He is always dressed in clean, tidy clothes, a little scant and well patched. He pats me on the head and says, "Didn't know you were Evelyn's sister; thought it was a little three-year old." About to tell me a sad story he had read in the newspaper, he stops suddenly and says, "Believe I won't tell you, dear!" "Did you hear the newspipe has broke?" when the Atlantic Telegraph Cable parted. He had plans for shoving off the Leviathan when it stuck.

Shall I not tell you he brings me a little bunch of eels of his own spearing? that you must be careful at table he has enough to eat, he takes such small pieces? that he is altogether a sparse man? has rows of pins on his sleeve that he picks up?—an old-fashioned man, whose type is fast fading out from these "fast," "steep" times. He tells a story of a stream of black flies which came so thick and so fast pouring on, he looked as long as he darst to. Yet he can tell a good, big story yet, and when somebody was talking of turtles of good size, jumped up suddenly, "Did you ever see a terrapin, Sir?" and then walked round the long dining-table to tell how big he was and how high he stood on his feet. "When I was in the West Indies, Sir——Wish I could creep into a good English hay-mow and pay somebody to feed me!"

Do you remember, Estelle, the story we read together once, out of the "Casket" or "Gem," one of those old annuals, where a certain princess was sent to a desolate island, whose maids of honor were all old crones, once distinguished by their wonderful beauty? Her task was to discover each especial grace, long since buried by the rubbish which time and folly had heaped upon it; in each old, yellow, wrinkled hag to find the charm which had once adorned her: as she found the grace, it was transferred to her own youthful person. Slowly and patiently she unwound those wrapped-up mummies, and disclosed the gems hidden in those burial-clothes; and returned to her father's court enriched with all those long-buried graces, now revived to their former youthful beauty, and with the added charm which wisdom and patience give.

My task is not so difficult,—as I seek virtues, not perishable stuffs. We will learn the history of these thickly crossing wrinkles, that, checkering, map out the face like the streets of a busy city. We will read the story "that youth and observation copied there." Many sit in my chair with weather-beaten looks, but time and want and necessity have ploughed still deeper furrows.

It is not in vain, this brave encounter with the elements,—this battle to keep the wolf Want outside the door,—the patient, laborious building up of the small house, made almost a comfortable home by many years of toil,—the sufficient meal snatched from Nature by the line or the gun, or wrung from her by hard labor of the hands. Is the face too thin and hard, the lips compressed? Would you turn away from so much patient endurance of a hard lot? Turn again, and read the story the clear eye tells; listen to the words of a deep religious experience which the thin, cracked voice relates: how in visions of the night the Comforter has come to them, and henceforth the way of duty is clear, and the burden of life is lightened. Will you go with me, dear, into those homely houses, sit with me by the firesides, and hear the simple story of New England's farmers and farmers' wives? We cannot call those poor who are so rich in all the manly virtues, and in the deep experiences of a faithful life.

Uncle Jack stops on his way, going up to get the oxen, and passes the night,—says, "Other people can't find enough to do; for his part, he should like to lie down in the hay-mow and rest,—all worn out, used up. Now Josiah, good, conversable man, knows about geography and the country round. Well, when you've got that, got the best of him,—likes variety too well,—goes off, leaves the homestead like a dismantled ship. Now, if a man only gets three good days down cellar, that's something. Don't believe 'Siah ever does it. So many notions in's head bothers him." (Uncle Jack is quite right; 'tis not economical to have notions; besides, they are revolutionary, they subvert the order of things.) "Got a cunning little heifer used to have some manners. Lost some of our lambs; read in a book, that, take what care you might, you would lose some lambs at times."—To-day he has gone driving the oxen round by Perkins's.

"Had the rheumatism this winter,—guess Jack Frost pinched him."—Ah! dear old man, an older than Jack Frost has got hold of your aged limbs! Harder pinches old Time gives than any mortal man!

"Used to get a little bird, Harris and me, and roast it, and mother would give us a little apple-sauce in a clam-shell, and we would go off back the island and eat it. Harris was sent to school up to Perkins's; couldn't stay; run away, and borrowed a boat, and came home again; afraid of his father, and hid in the barn. Dug a well in the hay, and they used to lower him down things to eat, and water to drink in scooped-out water-melon rinds."

* * * * *


  On, sad are they who know not love,
  But, far from passion's tears and smiles,
  Drift down a moonless sea, and pass
  The silver coasts of fairy isles!

  And sadder they whose longing lips
  Kiss empty air, and never touch
  The dear warm mouth of those they love,
  Waiting, wasting, suffering much!

  But clear as amber, sweet as musk,
  Is life to those whose lives unite:
  They walk in Allah's smile by day,
  And nestle in his heart by night!


There is no kind of writing which is undertaken so much from will and so little from instinct as History. It seems the great resource of baffled ambition, of leisure, of minds disciplined rather than inspired, of men with pecuniary means and without professional obligations. Sympathy with or opposition to an author prompts those thus situated to write criticism; a dominant sentiment inspires poetical composition; and usually an impressive experience suggests adventure in the field of fiction: but we find educated men, in independent circumstances, not remarkable for sensibility to Nature, acute critical perception, or dramatic talent, whose literary aspirations are vague, and who desire to be occupied eligibly, turn to History as the most available vantage-ground, busy themselves with wars and councils that happened ages ago,—with kings and soldiers, institutions and adventures, politics and dynasties, so far removed from the associations and interests of the hour, that only a scholar's enthusiasm or ambition could sustain the research or keep alive the enterprise thus voluntarily assumed. It is this objective method and motive that chiefly accounts for the numberless inert and the few vital histories. Like any intellectual task assumed without special fitness therefor or motive thereto,—without a comprehensive grasp of mind that impels to historic exploration,—without a patriotic zeal that warms to national heroism,—without, especially, a love of some principle, a conviction of some truth, an admiration of some national development, irresistibly urging the cultivated and ardent mind to seek for the facts, to celebrate the persons, to evolve the truth involved in and manifest through public events,—the annals recorded are but dry chronology,—a monotonous, more or less authentic, perhaps quite respectable, but far from a very important or peculiarly interesting work. Thousands of such cumber the shelves of libraries and fill the pages of catalogues,—dusted once a year, perhaps, to verify a date, to authenticate the details of a treaty, or fix the statistics of a war, but never read consecutively and with zest, because there was no genuine relation between the writer and his book. He undertook the latter in the spirit of a mechanical job; industry and learning may be embodied therein, but no moral life, no human charm; yet the work is cited with respect, the author enrolled with honor;—whereas, had he sought in poetry or philosophy, in a novel or a drama, thus to occupy and celebrate himself with literature, the failure would have been signal, the attempt ignominious. There is, indeed, no safer investment for middling literary abilities than History; for, if it fail to yield any large harvest of renown, it is comparatively secure from the assaults of ridicule, such as make pretension in other spheres of writing conspicuous.

Even in what are considered the successful exemplars in this department of literature, the errors incident to artificiality, the conventional forms of writing, are patent. Only in passages do we recognize that beauty or truth, that reality and genuineness, which so often wholly pervade a poem, a story, a memoir, or even a disquisition: at some point, the flow incident to wilful instead of soulful utterance becomes apparent;—ambition, pride of opinion, love of display somewhere manifest themselves. It has been said that the chief element of Hume's mental power was skepticism; and, singular as it may appear, his doubts about what are deemed the vital interests of humanity gave a charm to his record of her political vicissitudes; while he made capital of touching "situations," he displayed his own strength of intellect; but, with all this, did not write complete and authentic history. And when analyzed, what was the animus of Gibbon's elaborate chronicle? He "spent his time, his life, his energy," says a severe, but just critic, "in putting a polished gloss on human tumult, a sneering gloss on human piety." And who has not felt, in following Macaulay's animated periods and thorough exposition and illustration of some event, trait, or economy,—in itself of little importance and limited value,—how much better it would have been to reserve his brilliant descriptive and keen analytical powers for the grand episodes, the prolific crises, and the leading characters of history, instead of indiscriminately devoting them to a consecutive account of national incidents and persons, both great and small, illustrious and insignificant?

A popular British author of our own day, in order to demonstrate the law of compensation, as regards the literary vocation, cites its inexpensiveness,—arguing, that, whereas the artist must invest capital, however small, in colors, marble, canvas, and studio-hire, and the professional man occupy a costly locality, the author needs but a quire of foolscap and a pen and ink to set up in trade. While there is literal truth in this comparison, the fact is not applicable to historical writing, except in a very limited degree. The preparation of the most successful works in this department, in modern times, has been attended with an outlay impossible to the poor scholar. It has involved the examination and reproduction of voluminous manuscript authorities, distant travel, the purchase of rare books and family papers, and sometimes years of busy reference, observation, and study, lucrative only in prospect. The same amount of culture and facile vigor of composition which less prosperous authors expend on a masterly review would suffice to make them famous historians, if blessed with the pecuniary means to seek foreign sources of information, or gather about them scattered and rare materials wherewith to weave a chronicle of the past. Hence, not only has History become the chosen field of writers with no special gift for more individually inspired kinds of literature, but of the educated sons of fortune. Accordingly, it is curious to remark the contrast between the lives of historians and those of poets; and in the average circumstances of the former there is some justification for the title of an aristocratic guild in letters. Compare Cowper's humble home at Olney with Gibbon's elegant library at Lausanne,—the social environment of Hallam, Grote, or Macaulay with the rustic isolation of Wordsworth, the economies of Shelley, or the life-struggle of Jerrold. Of course, there can thence be inferred no general rule; and the very differences in temperament between inventive and reproductive writers suggest a consequent diversity of habits; but the very idea of historical composition, on an extensive scale and as a permanent occupation, implies the leisure which competency alone yields, the means indispensable for gradual literary achievement, and more or less of the luxury and social position which, when education obtains, usually attend upon these advantages.

It results from these considerations that there is no sphere of literature which is so often the refuge of wealthy scholars, idle men of taste, baffled politicians of independent means, ambitious and well-read but not specially gifted citizens who have inherited comfortable estates. It is so dignified an employment, that it gratifies pride,—so possible without trenchant opinions, that it does not alarm the conservative,—so thoroughly respectable, safe, and capable of being made illustrious, so comparatively easy to the fluent but unoriginal mind, and practicable to follow, when methodically carried out, in a stated, regular manner, that we can scarcely be astonished at the alacrity with which such voluntary tasks are undertaken or the steadiness with which they are followed; at the same time, it may be because so few are able to command the means and opportunity, that historical writing is so highly estimated. As a test of intellectual power, a gauge of individual sentiment, an evidence of original genius, it is immeasurably inferior to dramatic, philosophical, or any of the more personal forms of literature, when inspired by deep convictions, original ideas, or creative imagination. It requires more knowledge than reflection, more patience than earnestness, more judgment than sentiment; and those who have raised it to a vital significance and profound beauty and interest have done so by virtue of endowments which, otherwise directed, would have placed them high and firm on the roll of genius: for it is possible to write history without this transcendent gift,—possible to write it respectably without the slightest grandeur or grace of mind,—by virtue of command of words, industry, care, and good sense. We cannot imagine Shakspeare tracing out his conception of Hamlet, or giving language to Lear or Miranda, without a soulful experience as far above mere intellectual assiduity as humanity is above mechanism; we cannot think of Milton elaborating his sublime epic, without, in fancy, taking in the studious years, the Italian nights of music, starlight, and high converse, the beautiful youth, the self-sacrificing prime, the blind old age, the religious patriotism, the pious loyalty, the learning and love, and the isolated meditation, cheered by grand symphonies and hoarded wisdom, through and by which, concentrated into melodious expression, the life of a noble mind thus majestically expressed itself: but we can easily fancy cold and cultured Gibbon returning from the Continent, full of classic lore, disgusted with his failure in public life, not sympathetic enough to enjoy heartily a career either of pleasure or of society, and so, in his dreams of scholarship, seizing upon the idea of a long, laborious, erudite, and elegant task; and we can also well imagine Hume, with his love of speculation, turning gratefully to the records of the past for subjects of reflection, analysis, and inference. In these and other notable instances, we feel it is more an accident than an inspiration, more from circumstances than from innate and absolute endowment and impulse, that the historic Muse is wooed.

Within a brief period the grave has closed over one of the most irreproachable and assiduous of American writers of History,—whose career signally illustrates the blessing of such a resource to unoccupied and cultivated leisure, and at the same time the fortuitous circumstances which often originate and prolong this kind of literary labor. In a letter to a friend abroad, written by Prescott soon after he found himself thus congenially occupied, the case is most frankly stated. "Ennui crept over me, when I found myself a perfectly idle man, with nothing to do, and, what made it worse, with eyes so debilitated that I had no power of doing anything with them. However, 'necessity is the mother of invention,' and I resolved to turn author in spite of my eyes; and it is a great satisfaction to me to think that the volumes I have put together for my own amusement should have afforded some to my countrymen, and, above all, to my friends."[A]

[Footnote A: Letter of W. H. Prescott to Miss Preble, dated Boston, February 28, 1845. Memoir of Harriet Preble, by Professor R.H. LEE, p. 285-6.]

This modest and candid estimate of his vocation indicates how much more a thing of volition and opportunity, and how much less a work of special endowment and intuitive recognition is the literature of History than that of Poetry, Psychology, or Philosophy, notwithstanding all these may be fused therein. "Whatever may be the use of this sort of composition in itself and abstractedly," observes a judicious critic,[B] "it is certainly of great use relatively and to literary men. Consider the position of a man of that species. He sits beside a library-fire, with nice white paper, a good pen, a capital style, every means of saying everything, but nothing to say. What, again, if something would happen, and then one could describe it? Something has happened, and that something is History." To feel fully the difference between a formal, mechanical annalist and the revival of the past through poetic or artistic sympathy, it is only requisite to turn from some dry chronicle of political vicissitudes, duly registered by a dull, matter-of-fact, conscientious antiquary, to the fresh classical or colonial romance, of which such graceful and well-studied exemplars have been produced by Lockhart, Bulwer, D'Azeglio, Kingsley, Ware, Longfellow, and other bards and novelists. While the attempt, by intensity of description and brilliant generalities, to impart to veritable history the charm we accept in the historical romance, has caused many an old-school reader to place Macaulay's fascinating volumes, called "The History of England," on the same shelf with works of fiction,—Aytoun, Hugh Miller, and William Penn's champions have given special meaning to this principle or prejudice, whichever it may be, by challenging the delightful author to the test of fact.

[Footnote B: Bagehot.]

In statesmen, or those who have excelled in political writing, the ambition to write history, the desire to illustrate and record national events, is not only a natural, but an auspicious feeling; and so it is in educated poets in whom the sentiment of patriotism or the narrative art gives scope and glow to such an enterprise. That Fox and Bacon, Milton and Swift, Mackintosh, Schiller, and Lamartine, should have partially adventured in this field seems but a legitimate result of their endowments and experience, however fragmentary or inadequate may have been some of the fruits of their historic studies.

When an enlightened and executive or speculative man is an obvious part of the history of his own times, his chronicle must have a certain significance and value. Raleigh, when he wrote the "History of the World" in prison, gave hints by which subsequent and less obsolete annalists have wisely profited. The scholar and the patriot coalesced in the mind of Camden, prompting him to rescue and conserve the materials of English history and note the fading traditions,—a purely antiquarian service, which only those can appreciate who seek authentic data of the far past. Such as cavil at the legal tone and crude arrangement of Clarendon are none the less his debtors for specific memoirs, the personal element of history; and while Burnet has been vigorously repudiated by standard historians, he continues, and justly, to be a prolific authority. It is conceded by all candid explorers, that, as far as it goes, the account of England by Rapin is the best. Franklin's old friend Ralph was commended and quoted by Fox. As the enterprise of historical writers enlarged and their style became elaborate, these and such as these lost in popularity what they gained in usefulness. The charm of rhetorical elegance and broad generalizations gradually usurped the place of simple narrative and detailed statement. In the very design of Gibbon there is a certain poetical attraction; his work may aptly be described as panoramic, unrolling a vast picture or succession of pictures, too vague in outline and too monotonous in color for minute impressions, yet, on this account, the more remarkable for general effect. What Europe was in the Middle Ages we find more specifically in Hallam; the Moors in Spain have been more vividly painted by subsequent writers, whose aim was less comprehensive: but how the imperial sway of Rome subsided into the Christian era, how a republican episode gleamed athwart her waning power in the casual triumph of Rienzi, the later emperors, and what occurred in their reign in Jerusalem and Constantinople, pass emphatically before us in the stately pages which once charmed readers of English as the model of historic eloquence, and now excite the admiration of scholars as a monument of erudition and elaborate but artificial writing. There was a new attraction in the pleasing style of Robertson and the characterization of Hume; the winsome language of the one and the transparent diction of the other made historical reading not so much a task to cumber the memory as a pastime to entertain the mind; in the one chronicle we followed events gracefully unfolded, and in the other discussed persons with acuteness; yet, when to either was subsequently applied the test of absolute accuracy and sound deduction, large allowances were demanded for inadequate research on the part of Robertson and partial inferences on that of Hume. The theories of the latter indicate why and how, with all his intellectual abilities, the sympathies of his readers were inevitably limited; in his view of humanity we find the true cause of all his deficiencies as an historian: "Human life," he somewhere remarks, "is more governed by fortune than by reason, is to be regarded more as a dull pastime than a serious occupation, and is more influenced by particular humor than by general principles." Yet, in a philosophical retrospect of English historians, we can trace a progressive development from the purely antiquarian researches of Camden to the personal memoirs of Clarendon and Burnet; thence to the comprehensive erudition and majestic narrative of Gibbon; onward to the reasoning, lucid record of Hume and the fascinating narrative of Robertson;—all of which qualities of industry, characterization, broad knowledge, taste, emphasis, and reflection blend, culminate, and intensify along the copious, rhetorical, and vivid page of Macaulay.

The Italian historians prolong, in style at least, the method of their classic predecessors: "La Storia del Guicciardini è considerata come opera classica,"—we are told by one of the critics of that nation; who adds, "His descriptions are always accurate, clear, and expressed with eloquence; the causes of events and their consequences are enumerated with rare acuteness; and his personages are delineated in their true characters, the historian descending into the deepest penetralia of their hearts: but the most eminent merit of this History consists in the moral and political considerations with which it abounds; it is like Tacitus." In like manner, Machiavelli is compared to Thucydides; while Varchi's long periods, adulation of the Medici, and municipal details are condemned by the same authority: yet one familiar with modern literature in this department will, despite this general commendation of native critics, be apt to ascribe the conservative charm of the Italian historians to their style rather than their method or matter.

It is remarkable how late the French writers won laurels in the field of historical composition, and how long France, with all her national vanity, has lacked a complete and classical chronicle,—brilliant and invaluable fragments whereof abound. According to the most esteemed French critics, until this century the nation actually knew nothing of its own history; and it is characteristic of their speculative and methodical mind and taste, that History became popular and philosophical, a novelty and a reform, simultaneously. Guizot, Thierry, Sismondi, and others, created a new era in this branch of letters; Thiers and Michelet enlarged its sphere and increased its charms; and yet, while the graphic simplicity of Froissart, the critical insight and ingenious generalizations of Guizot, and the poetical glow and richness of Michelet have made the history of France both highly suggestive as regards the development of civilization, and picturesque and dramatic as a narrative, the greatest allowance for brilliant theorizing, political sympathies, and an errant fancy are indispensable in order to attain to a clear view of genuine facts and absolute principles. It has been said that "leading ideas" are fatal to accuracy of statement; and these dominate in the minds of French philosophical annalists; while the more sympathetic class are fond of rhetorical display and fanciful episodes. A recent critic, after bestowing merited encomiums on Michelet, gives the following instance of his absurd generalizations, which occur in the midst of grave historical statements and descriptions: "Wool and flesh are the primitive foundations of England and the English race; ere becoming the world's manufactory of hardware and tissues, England was a victualling-shop; before they became a commercial, they were a breeding and a pastoral people,—a race fatted on beef and mutton; hence their freshness of tint, their beauty and strength: their greatest man, Shakspeare, was originally a butcher."

Less prominent and more recent names on the roll of historic literature are as distinctly associated with special excellences and defects. Thus, Grote keeps attention more by the intelligence of his comments than by the flow of his narration; he is far more political than picturesque; and while he gives a masterly analysis of the Athenian system of government, so as to place it in a new light even to the scholar's apprehension, he discusses the arts and the literature so inspiring to most cultivated minds, when describing Greece, with comparative indifference. Those who would examine English annals unbiased by Protestant zeal, and realize how the events and characters look to a Roman Catholic vision, may gather from Lingard some views which may not disadvantageously modify their interpretation of familiar men and occurrences. Two English writers have hastily compiled her annals during certain epochs; but while they are equally chargeable with superficiality, the manner in which the work is done is by no means similar. Smollet's continuation of Hume was confessedly a bookseller's job: four octavo volumes in only ten times the number of months, even in our days of locomotive celerity, would be thought rather a suspicious piece of literary handiwork; and besides the indecent haste, so incompatible with thoroughness, the misrepresentations of Smollet are patent. Goldsmith, as unambitious in research as he was genial in expression, made so agreeable a story, that, with all its imperfection, his sketch still finds readers; while the rarely quoted work of Henry most conveniently enumerates, at the end of each reign, details economical and social which identify and illustrate both period and progress in Anglo-Saxon civilization. As a copious and consecutive record of the salient incidents in modern Continental history,—so needful now for reference, and the diverse phases of which are so widely chronicled in the memoirs, the journals, the diplomatic correspondence, and what may be called the incidental history of the period,—the plan of Alison's work might have achieved a triumph of industry and skill, valuable as well as interesting to general readers and professional writers: but the political opinions, with the partial feelings they engender, continually distort the view and influence the estimate of this positive yet pleasant historian; while his almost wilful blunders, like the errors of Lord Mahon in regard to the American War, have been repeatedly demonstrated. Mackintosh philosophized about events, measures, and men, better than he described either. Sharon Turner nobly illustrates the value of intrepid research and patient collation. Mitford represents the aristocratic as Grote the democratic element in Grecian history. Tytler wrote of the past in the life of nations with the exclusive reliance on written proof that a conveyancer places upon title-deeds, and beside the glowing and harmonious pictures of later annalists such writing now appears obsolete. Napier describes battles scientifically, and Carlyle revolutions melodramatically,—each with original power, in their respective methods,—while Miss Strickland brings to the record of queenly sorrows and duties a woman's sympathetic prepossessions.

Since those quaintly simple and emphatic statements which, under the name of Froissart's Chronicles, seem to perpetuate the instinctive notion of History, as an honest and earnest, but unadorned and unelaborate narrative of military and political facts,—not only has there been a continual refinement of style and enlargement of scope and art, but a greater complexity and subdivision in the historian's labors. Abstract political ideas, purely intellectual phenomena, have found their annalists, as well as executive enterprise; events have been analyzed, as well as described,—characters discussed, as well as pictured,—the elements of society laid bare with as much zeal and scrutiny as its development has been traced and delineated. European historical students read anew the records of the past by the light of philosophy; more subtile divisions than the geographer indicates organize the record; events are narrated with reference to a dominant idea; governments are chronicled through their ultimate results, and not exclusively with regard to their locality; rulers are considered in groups; a faith is made the nucleus of an historical development, instead of a nation. Thus, we have Ranke's "Popes" and D'Aubigne's "Reformation," Hallam's "Middle Ages" and "English Constitution"; De Quincey treats of "The Caesars"; Vico demonstrates that History is a science with positive laws; Gervinus illustrates it as a development of certain inevitably progressive ideas; Niebuhr interprets it by fresh tests and ordeals; Dr. Arnold teaches it by an original method; Humboldt points out its naturalistic tendencies and origin; Herder and Hegel, De Tocqueville and Guizot, the eminent writers on Civilization, on Art, on Education, Political Economy, Literature, and Natural History, more and more exhibit the facts of humanity and of time under such new combinations, by so many parallel truths and principles, that it is difficult to conceive that History, as now understood by the educated and the reflective, is the same thing once crudely embodied in a ballad or mystically conserved by an inscription. To multiply relations is the destiny of our age, and to converge all that is discovered through the laws of Science upon the records and relics of the past is a process now habitual and pervasive.

And yet how little positive satisfaction does the lover of truth, the aspirant for what is authentic and significant, find in current and even popular histories! Certain general notions of the character of nations we, indeed, distinctly and correctly attain: that Chinese civilization is stationary, the French instinctively a military race, the Swiss mercenary, and adventurous in engineering and religious reform,—that modern German literature was as sudden as simultaneous in its development,—that Holland redeemed her foundations from the sea,—that Italy owes to art, and England to manufactures, her growth and grandeur. These and such as these are problems which the history of the respective countries, however inadequately told, reveals with authenticity; but when we go beyond and below the patent facts of local civilization, to the analysis of character, and, through it, of destiny, few and far between are the satisfactory records whence we can draw legitimate materials for inference and conjecture. The most attractive method is apt to be that upon which least reliance can be placed. We seldom consult Sir Walter's essays at serious history, while the novels he created out of historic material are as familiar as they are endeared; but their imaginative charm is in the inverse ratio of their authenticity. With every new candidate for public favor in this sphere of literature, there arises a "mooted question" whereon the historian and his readers are irreconcilably divided. The character of Penn, of Marlborough, and of the facts of the Massacre at Glencoe are still vehemently discussed, whenever Macaulay's popular History is referred to. Froude advances a new and plausible theory of the character of Henry VIII.; few of Bancroft's American readers accept his estimate of John Jay, Sam Adams, or Dr. Johnson, or of the political character of the Virginia Colonists; and Palfrey and Arnold interpret quite diversely the influence and career of Roger Williams. Nor are such discrepancies surprising, when we remember how the history which transpires now and here fails of harmonious report. Every battle, diplomatic arrangement, political event, nay, each personal occurrence, which forms the staple of to-day's journalism and talk, is regarded from so many different points of view, and stated under so many modifying influences, that only judicial minds have a prospect of reaching the exact truth. Hence the true way to profit by History is eclectic.

Let the erudition of the German, the genial animation of the French, the Saxon good sense, the Italian grace be enjoyed, and whatsoever of glamour or of inadequacy these charms hide be duly estimated; reflection and sympathy will often separate the gold of truth from the alloy of prejudice or fantasy. Above all, let this eclectic test be applied beyond nominal history,—to the geological data on the ancient rock,—the handwriting of the ages upon race, costume, language,—the incidental, but genuine history innate in all true literature, vivid elements whereof live in passages of Milton's controversial writings, in Petrarch's sonnets, De Foe's fictions, our Revolutionary correspondence, South's sermons, Swift's diaries, Burke's speeches, French memoirs, Walpole's letters, in the poems, plays, and epistles of the past, and every fact and person which society and life offer to our cognizance or sympathy.

"When we are much attached to our ideas, we endeavor to attach everything to them," says Madame de Staël. "The secret of writing well," observes a Scotch professor, "is to write from a full mind." These two maxims seem to us to illustrate the whole subject of historical composition; an earnest votary thereof will instinctively find material in every interest and influence that sways events or moulds character, and from the assimilation of all these will educe a vital and harmonious picture and philosophy. There is an historical as well as a judicial or poetic type of mind; and to such there is no object too trifling, no fact too remote, not directly or indirectly to minister to the unwritten history which vaguely shapes itself to his intelligence. In his reading and travel it is by no means to the ostensible monuments and trophies of the past that his observation and inquiry are confined: the Letters of Madame de Sévigné give him authentic hints for the social tendencies of France and their influence upon politics, as the blood-stains at Holyrood identify the place of Rizzio's murder; the "Edinburgh Review" reveals the spirit of the Reform movement as clearly as the Parliamentary records its letter; the South-Sea House and the Temple are as suggestive as Whitehall and the Abbey,—for trade and jurisprudence, in the retrospect, are as much a part of the by-gone life and present character of a nation, as the fate and the fame of her dead kings; and a Spanish ballad is as valuable an illustration as a Madrid state-paper; while the life of Harry Vane vindicates the Puritan nature as clearly as the letter of a Venetian ambassador exhibits the domestic life of a Pope.

The redeeming influence of strong personal sympathy and earnest conviction, both in the choice of a subject and the method of its treatment, has been signally illustrated by a countryman of our own. The interest of the general reader and the approbation of historical scholars were at once enlisted by Motley's "Rise and Fall of the Dutch Republic." That work differs from and is superior to any American historical composition by virtue of a certain fluent animation, a certain decided and sustained tone, such as can be derived only from an absolute relation between the author's mind and heart and his subject. Accordingly his record not only seizes upon the attention, but wins the sympathy of the reader, who recognizes a vital and genuine spirit in the work, which gives it unity, completeness, and a living style, whereby its incidents, characters, and philosophy are unfolded, not only with art, but with nature, and so made real, attractive, and significant. That we are right in ascribing these merits to the affinity between the author and his work is amply evidenced by his own confession in a letter called forth by the death of Prescott, in which he says,—

"It seems to me but as yesterday, though it must be now twelve years ago, that I was talking with our ever-lamented friend Stackpole about my intention of writing a history upon a subject to which I have since that time been devoting myself. I had then made already some general studies in reference to it, without being in the least aware that Prescott had the intention of writing the history of Philip II. Stackpole had heard the fact, and that large preparations had already been made for the work, although 'Peru' had not yet been published. I felt, naturally, much disappointed. I was conscious of the immense disadvantage to myself of making my appearance, probably at the same time, before the public, with a work not at all similar in plan to 'Philip II.,' but which must, of necessity, traverse a portion of the same ground. My first thought was, inevitably as it were, only of myself. It seemed to me that I had nothing to do but to abandon at once a cherished dream, and probably to renounce authorship. For I had not first made up my mind to write a history, and then cast about to take up a subject. My subject had taken up me, drawn me on, and absorbed me into itself. It was necessary for me, it seemed, to write the book I had been thinking much of,—even if it were destined to fall dead from the press,—and I had no inclination or interest to write any other."

The same inspiration is partially obvious in those portions of every history which come home to the writer's experience: as, for instance, some of the military episodes in Colletta's "History of Naples," he having been a soldier,—and the descriptive phases of Parkman's "History of Pontiac," the author having been a Prairie traveller, and familiar with the woods and the bivouac. In like manner, it is the idiosyncrasy of historians which gives original value to their labors: Botta's knowledge of American localities and civilization was meagre, but his sympathy with the patriots of the Revolution was strong, and this gave warmth and effect to his "Guerra Americana"; Niebuhr was specially gifted to develop what has been called the law of investigation, and hence he penetrates the Roman life, and lays bare much of its unapparent meaning and spirit. So apt and patient are the Germans in research, that they have been justly said to "quarry" out the past; while so native are rhetoric, theorizing, and fancifulness to the French, that they make history, as they do life and government, theatrical and picturesque, rather than gravely real and practically suggestive.

A peculiar feature in the labors of modern historians is the research expended upon what the elder annalists regarded as purely incidental and extraneous. The collation of archives, official correspondence, and state-papers is now but the rough basis of research; memoirs are equally consulted,—localities minutely examined,—the art and literature of a given era analyzed,—the geography, climate, and ethnology of the scene made to illustrate the life and polity,—social phases, educational facts estimated as not less valuable than statistics of armies and judicial enactments. Michelet has some charming rural pictures and female portraits in his History of France; Macaulay thinks no custom or economy of a reign insignificant in the great historical aggregate. Topography, botany, artistic knowledge are not less parts of the chronicler's equipment than philology, rhetoric, and philosophy; a newspaper is not beneath nor a traveller's gossip beyond his scope; architecture reveals somewhat which diplomacy conceals; an inscription is not more historical than the average temperature or the staple productions. Whatever affects national character and destiny, whatever accounts for national manners or confirms individual sway, is brought into the record. Diaries, like those of Pepys and Evelyn, the tithe-book of a county, the taste in portraiture, the costume and the play-bill yield authentic hints not less than the census, the parliamentary edicts, or the royal signatures; the popular poem, the social favorite, the cause célèbre, what pulpit, bar, peasant and beau, doctor and lady à la mode do, say, and are, then and there, must coalesce with the battle, the legislation, and the treaty,—or these last are but technical landmarks, instead of human interests.

Even our most generalized historical ideas are made emphatic only through association and observation. How the vague sense of Roman dominion is deepened as we trace the outline of a camp, the massive ranges of a theatre, or the mouldy effigy on a coin, in some region far distant from the Imperial centre,—as at Nismes or Chester! How complete becomes the idea of mediaeval life, contemplated from the ramparts of a castle, in the "dim, religious light" of an old monastic chapel, or amid the obsolete trappings and weapons of an armory! What a distinct and memorable revelation of ancient Greece is the Venus or Apollo, a Parthenon frieze or a fateful drama! The best political essays on the French Revolution are based on the economical and social facts recorded in the Travels of Arthur Young. The equivocal action of Massena, when he commanded Paris against the Allies, is explained in the recently published letter of Joseph Bonaparte, wherein we learn his deficiency of muskets. Humboldt accounted for the defects of Prescott's "Conquest of Mexico" by the fact that the historian had never visited that country. Napoleon gave a key to the misfortunes of Italy, when he said, "It is a peninsula too long for its breadth." And the significance of the Seven Years' War is expressed in a single phrase by Milton's last biographer, when he defines it as the "consummation politically and the attenuation spiritually of the movement begun in Europe by the Lutheran Reformation."

Indeed, so intimate is the connection between private life and public events, between political and social phenomena, that the historical mind finds material in all literature, and the very attempt to keep to a high strain and to bend facts to theory limits the authenticity of professed annalists. What Macaulay says of an eminent party-leader is modified to those who have studied the character through his memoirs or writings. The charming narrative of Robertson, the characterization of Hume, the stately periods of Gibbon, fail to win implicit confidence, when the scene, the age, or the personages described are known to the reader through original authorities. When Bancroft declares a treaty of Colonial governors against Indian ravages the germ of democratic government, we know that it is his attachment to a theory, and not the actual circumstances, which leads to such an inference; for the very authority he cites merely indicates a defensive alliance among rulers, not a coalition of the ruled. And so when to an account of the Battle of Lexington he appends a rhetorical argument connecting that event, so meagre and simple in itself and so wonderful in its consequences, with the progress of truth and humanity in political science and reformed religion, we feel that the reasoning is forced and irrelevant,—more an experiment in fine writing than an evolution of absolute truth.

Thus continually is the independent reader of history taught eclecticism: he makes allowance for the want of careful research in this writer, for the love of effect in that,—for the skepticism of one, and the credulity of another,—for enthusiasm here, and fastidiousness there,—and especially for the greater or less attachment to certain opinions, and the absence or presence of strong convictions and genuine sympathies. Hence, to read history aright, we must read human nature as well; we must bring the light of philosophy and of faith, the calmness of judgment and the insight of love, to the record; collateral revelations drawn from our own experience, modified acceptance of both statement and inference, superiority to the blandishments of style, are as needful for the right interpretation of a chronicle as of a scientific problem. Thus history is perpetually rewritten; fresh knowledge opens new vistas in the past as well as the future; the discovery of to-day may rectify, in important respects, the statement which has been unchallenged for centuries; one new truth leavens a thousand old formulas; and nothing is more gradual than the elucidation of historical events and characters. Even our own brief annals suggest how large must be the historian's faith in time: only within a year or two has it been possible to demonstrate the justice of Washington's estimate of Lee, and how completely the sagacious provision of Schuyler secured the capture of Burgoyne. Since the American Revolution, one of these men has been as much overrated as the other has failed of just appreciation—because the documentary wisdom requisite for an enlightened judgment has not until now been patent.[C]

[Footnote C: See Lossing's Life and Correspondence of General
, and Professor Moore's paper on Charles Lee.]

With the imposing array of professed histories and historians in view, it is curious to revert to the actual sources of our own historic ideas,—those which are definite and pervasive. The vast number of intelligent readers, who have made no special study of this kind of literature, probably derive their most distinct and attractive impressions of the past from poetry, travel, and the choicest works of the novelist; local association and imaginative sympathy, rather than formal chronicles, have enlightened and inspired them in regard to Antiquity and the great events and characters of modern Europe. This fact alone suggests how inadequate for popular effect have been the average labors of historians; and so fixed is the opinion among scholars that it is impossible for the annalist to be profound and interesting, authentic and animated, at the same time, that a large class of the learned repudiate as spurious the renown of Macaulay,—although his research and his minuteness cannot be questioned, and only in a few instances has his accuracy been successfully impugned. They distrust him chiefly because he is agreeable, doubt his correctness for the reason that his style fascinates, and deem admiration for him inconsistent with their own self-respect, because he is such a favorite as no historian ever was before, and his account of a parliament, a coinage, or a feud as winsome as a portraiture of a woman. In one of his critical essays, Macaulay himself gives a partial explanation of this protest of the minority in his own case. "People," he remarks, "are very loath to admit that the same man can unite very different kinds of excellence. It is soothing to envy to believe that what is splendid cannot be solid and what is clear cannot be profound." And it has been most justly said of his own method of writing history, "He must make everything clear and bright, and bring it into the range of his analysis; his exaggeration chiefly applies to individual characters, not to general facts"; and the reason given for the decided preference manifested for his vivid record is not less true than philosophical,—"We learn so much from him enjoyably." It is precisely the lack of this pleasurable trait which makes the greater part of the annals of the past a dead letter to the world, and wins to romance, ballad, epic, fiction, relic, and poetry the keen attention which facts coldly "set in a note-book" never enlisted. How many of us unconsciously have adopted the portraits of the early English kings as Shakspeare drew them! To what a host of living souls is the history of Scotland what the author of "Waverley" makes it! Charles I. haunts the fancy, not as drawn by Hume, but as painted by Vandyck. The institutions of the Middle Ages are realized to every reflective tourist through the architecture of Florence more than by the municipal details of Hallam. Pyramids, obelisks, mummies have brought home Egyptian civilization; the "old masters," that of Europe in the fifteenth century; the ruins of the Colosseum, Roman art and barbarism, as they never were by Livy or Gibbon. Lady Russell's letters tell us of the Civil War in England,—Saint Mark's, at Venice, of Byzantine taste and Oriental commerce,—the Escurial and the Alhambra, Versailles, a castle on the Rhine, and a "modest mansion on the banks of the Potomac," of their respective eras and their characteristics, social, political, religious,—more than the most elaborate register, muster-roll, or judicial calendar. For around and within these memorials lingers the life of Humanity; they speak to the eye as well as to memory,—to the heart as well as the intelligence; they draw us by human associations to the otherwise but technical statement; they lure us to repeople solitudes and reanimate shadows; and having become intimate with the scenes, the effigies, the monuments of the Past, we have, as it were, a vantage-ground of actual experience an impulse from personal observation and, perhaps, a sympathy born of local inspiration, whereby the phantoms of departed ages are once more clothed with flesh, and their sorrows and triumphs are renewed in the soul of enlightened contemplation.

* * * * *


The point of commencement for a story is altogether arbitrary. Some writers stick to Nature and go back to the Creation; others take a few dozen of the grandfatherly old centuries for granted; others seize Time by the forelock and bounce into the middle of a narrative; but, as I said before, the beginning is a mere matter of taste and convenience. I choose to open my tale with the day on which I took possession of my newly purchased country-house.

It was a pretty little cottage, wooden, old-fashioned, a story and a half high, with a long veranda, a shady door-yard, and a sunny garden. I bought it as it was, furniture included, of a gentleman who was about to remove southward on account of his wife's health, or, to speak more exactly, on account of her want of it. I laugh here to think how surprised you will be when you learn that these matters have no connection with my story. All the important events which I propose to relate might have happened had this gentleman never sold nor I purchased; and, as a proof of it, I can adduce the fact that they actually did occur some years before we enjoyed the honor of each other's acquaintance. But I could not resist the temptation of the episode. I am as delighted at getting into my first house as was my little son when he poked his chubby legs into his first trousers.

"Who is my nearest neighbor?" I asked of the former proprietor, when he made his parting call.

"What, the occupant of the new house just below you? I can tell you very little of him. I haven't made his acquaintance, and don't know his name. We call him the Mormon."

"Mercy on us! You don't mean to hint at anything in the way of polygamy,
I hope. He doesn't keep an omnibus with seats for twenty, does he?"

"No, not so bad as that. In fact, I don't know much about him. I thought you were aware of his—his style of living," stammered my friend. "Oh, I dare say he is respectable enough. But then we noticed three or four women about the house, and only one man; and so we clapped the title of Mormon on him. Nicknaming is funny work, you know,—a short and easy way to be witty. I believe, however, that he does pretend to be a prophet."

"The Pilgrim Fathers protect us! Why, he may attempt to proselytize us by force. He may declare a religious war against us. It would be no joke, if he should invade us with the sword in one hand, and the Koran, or whatever he may call his revelation, in the other."

"Oh, don't be alarmed. He is quite harmless, and even unobtrusive. A sad-faced, pale, feeble-looking, white-bearded old man. He won't attack you, or probably even speak to you. I will tell you all I know of him. The house was built under his direction about six months ago. I understand that the women own it, and that they are not relatives according to the flesh, but simply sisters in faith. They have some queer sort of religion which I am shamefully ignorant of. At all events, they believe this old gentleman to be a prophet, and consider it a duty or a pleasure to support him. That is the extent of my knowledge. I hope it doesn't disgust you with your neighborhood?"

"By no means. May you find as pleasant a one, wherever you settle!"

"Thank you. Well, it is nearly train-time, and I suppose I must leave you and my old place. I wish you every happiness in it."

And so the old proprietor sighingly departed, leaving the new one smiling on the doorstep. I was just thinking how nicely the world is arranged, so that one man's trouble may turn out another man's blessing, (the illness in this gentleman's family, for instance, being the cause of my getting a neat country-house cheap,) when my attention was arrested by the appearance of a thin, feeble-looking, white-bearded old man, who passed down the street with head bent and hands joined behind him. I stared at him till he got by; then I ran down to the gate and looked after him earnestly; and at last I darted forward, hatless, in eager pursuit. He heard my approaching steps, and put his snowy beard against his right shoulder in the act of taking a glance rearward. I now recognized the profile positively, and began conversation.

"Is it possible? My dear Doctor Potter, how are you? Don't you know me?
Your old friend Elderkin."

"Sir? Elderkin? Oh!—ah!—yes! How do you do, Mr. Elderkin?" he stammered, seeming very awkward, and hardly responding at all to my vigorous hand-shaking.

"I am delighted to see you again," I continued. "I have had no news of you these five years. Do you live in this neighborhood?"

"I—I reside in the next house, Sir," he replied, not looking me in the face, but glancing around uneasily, as if he wanted to run away.

"What! are you the prophet?" I blurted out before I could stop myself.

"I am, Mr. Elderkin," he said, blushing until I thought his white hair would turn crimson.

We stared at each other in silence for ten seconds, each wishing himself or his interlocutor at the antipodes.

"I congratulate you on your gift," I remarked, as soon as I could speak. "I will see you again soon, and have a talk on the subject. We have discussed similar matters before. Good day, Doctor."

"Good day, Mr. Elderkin," he replied, drawing himself up with a poor pretence at self-respect.

He was greatly changed. Heterodoxy had not been so fattening to him as Orthodoxy. When I knew him, six years before, as pastor of a flourishing church, Doctor of Divinity, and staunch Calvinist, he had a plump and rosy face, a portly form, and vigorous carriage. He was a great favorite with the ladies, as clergymen are apt to be, and consequently never lacked for delicate and appetizing sustenance. He was esteemed, self-respectful, and happy; and all these things tend to good health and good looks. I propose to make myself famous as the Gibbon of the decline and fall of this reverend gentleman, once so honorably established on the everlasting hills of Orthodoxy, and now so overthrown and trampled under foot by the Alaric of Spiritualism. I do not expect, indeed, that anybody will take warning by my friend's sad history; nor do I insist that people in general would find it advantageous to learn much wisdom from the experience of others; for it is very clear, that, if we attempted only what our neighbors or our fathers had succeeded in doing, we should kill all chance of variety or improvement. It would be a stupidly wise world; there would be no sins, and, very possibly, no virtues; instead of "Everything happens," it would be "Nothing happens." Believing and hoping, therefore, that Dr. Potter's calamities will not be the smallest check upon any person who shall feel disposed to follow in his footsteps, I present the story to the public, not at all as a lesson, but merely as an item of curious information.

Oddly enough, it was on that day of delusions, the first of April, that I stumbled into the Doctor's revival of the age of miracles. I had been engaged for three months on a geological survey in a Western Territory, during which time I had received very brief and vague news from the little city which was then my place of abode, and had not even had a hint of the signs and wonders which there awaited my astonished observation. Reaching home, I made it my first business to call on my reverend friend; for the Doctor, it must be known, was one of my most valued intimates, had baptized me, had counselled me, had travelled with me in foreign lands; we had many interests, many sympathies in common, and no differences except with regard to the extent of the Flood, the date of the Creation, and other matters of small personal importance. I found him in his study, surrounded by those seven hundred and odd volumes, the learning and excellent spirit of which gave to his sermons such a body of venerable divinity, such a bouquet of savory eloquence. He was walking to and fro rapidly, studying a slip of manuscript with an air of serious ecstasy. He did not look up until I had seized his hand, and even then he stared at me as a man might be supposed to stare who had been passing a fortnight with angels or other spiritual existences and unexpectedly found himself among natural and reasonable beings again.

"Ah, my dear Elderkin," he said at last, "I am glad to see you. How are you, and how have you been? Excuse me for not recognizing you at once. I had just lost myself in the consideration of a mystery which I believe to be of the sublimest importance. Oh, my dear friend, I hope you will be brought to attend to these things! They are above and beyond all your geologies; they preceded and will outlive them."

"Indeed!" I replied. "Nothing in the way of chaos, I hope?"

"Look here at this sheet of foolscap," he exclaimed, waving it excitedly. "Do you remember the belief which I have often expressed to you,—the belief that the dispensation of miracles has never yet ceased from earth,—that we have still a right to expect signs, wonders, instantaneous healings, and unknown tongues,—and that, but for our wretched incredulity, these things would constantly happen among us? You have disputed it and ridiculed it, but here I hold a proof of its truth. A month ago this blessing was vouchsafed to me. It was at one of our Wednesday-evening exercises. I had just been speaking of supernatural gifts, and of the duty which we lie under of expecting and demanding them. The moment I sat down, a stranger (a gentleman whom I had previously noticed at church) rose up with a strangely beaming look and broke out in a discourse of sounds that were wholly unintelligible. You need not smile. It was a true language, I am confident; it flowed forth with a moving warmth and fluency; and the gestures which accompanied it were earnest and most expressive."

"That was fortunate," said I; "otherwise you must have been very little edified. But isn't it rather odd that the man should use earthly gestures with an unearthly language?"

The Doctor shook his head reprovingly, and continued,—

"Deacon Jones, the editor of the 'Patriot,' is a phonographer. He took down the close of the stranger's address, and next day brought it to me written out in the ordinary alphabet. Let me read it to you. As you are acquainted with several modern languages, perhaps you can give me a key to an interpretation."

"I don't profess to know the modern languages of the other world," said
I. "However, let us hear it."

"Isse ta sopon otatirem isais ka rabatar itos ma deok," began the Doctor, with a gravity which almost made me think him stark mad. "De noton irbila orgonos ban orgonos amartalannen fi dunial maran ta calderak isais deluden homox berbussen carantar. Falla esoro anglas emoden ebuntar ta diliglas martix yehudas sathan val caraman mendelsonnen lamata yendos nix poliglor opos discobul vanitarok ken laros ma dasta finomallo in salubren to mallomas. Isse on esto opos fi sathan."

And so he read on through more than a page and a half of closely written manuscript, his eyes flashing brighter at each line, and his right hand gesturing as impressively as if he understood every syllable.

"Bless you, it's nothing new," said I. "There's an institution at
Hartford where they cure people of talking that identical language."

"Just what I expected you to say," he replied, flushing up. "I know you,—you scientific men,—you materialists. When you can't explain a phenomenon, you call it nonsense, instead of throwing yourselves with childlike faith into the arms of the supernatural. That is the sum and finality of your so-called science. But, come, be rational now. Don't you catch a single glimpse or suspicion of meaning in these remarkable words?"

"I am thankful to say that I don't," declared I. "If ever I go mad, I may change my mind."

"Well now, I do" he asseverated loudly. "There are words here that I believe I understand, and I am not ashamed to own it. Why, look at it, yourself," he added, pleadingly. "That word sathan, twice repeated, can it be anything else than Satan? Yehudas, what is that but Jews? And then homox, how very near to the Latin homo! I think, too, that I have even got a notion of some of the grammatical forms of the language. That termination of en, as in deluden, salubren, seems to me the sign of the present tense of the plural form of the verb. That other termination of tar, as in ebuntar, carantar, I suppose to be the sign of the infinitive. Depend upon it that this language is one of absolute regularity, undeformed by the results of human folly and sorrow, and as perfect as a crystal."

"But not as clear," I observed,—"at least, not to our apprehension.
Well, how was this extraordinary revelation received by the audience?"

"In dumb silence," said the Doctor. "Faith was at too low an ebb among us to reach and encircle the amazing fact. I had to call out the astonished brethren by name; and even then they responded briefly and falteringly. But the leaven worked. I went round the next day and talked to all my leading men. I found faith sprouting like a grain of mustard-seed. I found my people waking up to the great idea of a continuous, deathless, present miracle-demonstration. And these dim suspicions, these far-off longings and fearful hopes, were, indeed, precursors of such a movement of spirits, such a shower of supernatural mercies, as the world has not perhaps seen for centuries. Yes, there have been wonders wrought among us, and there are, I am persuaded, greater wonders still to come. What do you think must be my feelings when I see my worthiest parishioners rise in public and break out with unknown tongues?"

"I should suppose you would rather see them break out with the small-pox," I answered.

"Ah, Professor! wait, wait, and soon you will not laugh," said the
Doctor, solemnly.

"Perhaps not. I am a sincere friend of yours, and a tolerably good-hearted sort of man, I hope. I shall probably feel more like crying. But the world may laugh long and loud, Doctor. All who hate the true revelation may laugh to see it mocked and caricatured by those who profess and mean to honor it. Just consider, while it is yet time to mend matters, how imprudent you are. Why, what do you know of the man who has been your Columbus in this sea of wonders? Are you sure that he is not a sharper, or an impostor, or a lunatic?"

"Impossible! He brought letters to three of our most respectable families. His name is Riley, John M. Riley, of New York; and he is son of the wealthy old merchant, James M. Riley, who has been such a generous donor to all good works. As for his being a lunatic, you shall hear his conversation."

"I should be a very poor judge of it, if he always speaks in his unknown tongues."

"English! English! he talks English as good as your own. A more gentlemanly person, a more intelligent mind, a meeker and more believing spirit, I have not met this many a day. He is still here, and he is my right hand in the work. I shall soon have the pleasure of making you acquainted with him."

"Thank you; I shall be delighted," said I. "Only be good enough to hint to him that I like to understand what is said to me. If he comes at me with unknown tongues, I shall wish him in unknown parts. I can't stand mysteries. I am a geologist, and believe that there are rocks all the way down, and that we had much better stand on them than wriggle in mere chaotic space. Good morning, Doctor. I shall come again soon; I shall keep a lookout on you."

"Good morning," he replied, kindly. "I hope to see you in a better frame before many days."

I hurried back to my hotel, and questioned the landlord about this revival of the age of miracles. He gave me a long account of the affair, and then every neighbor who strolled in gave me another, until by dinner-time I had heard wonders and absurdities enough to make a new "Book of Mormon." The lunacies of this Riley had entered into Dr. Potter and his parishioners, like the legion of devils into the herd of swine, and driven them headlong into a sea of folly. There had been more tongues spoken during the past month in this little Yankee city than would have sufficed for our whole stellar system. Blockheads who were not troubled with an idea once a fortnight, and who could neither write nor speak their mother English decently, had undertaken to expound things which never happened in dialects which nobody understood. People who hitherto had been chiefly remarkable for their ignorance of the past and the slowness of their comprehension of the present fell to foretelling the future, with a glibness which made Isaiah and Ezekiel appear like minor prophets, and a destructiveness which nothing would satisfy out the immediate advent of the final conflagration. Gouty brothers whose own toes were a burden to them, and dropsical sisters with swelled legs, hobbled from street to street, laying would-be miraculous hands on each other, on teething children, on the dumb and blind, on foundered horses and mangy dogs even, or whatsoever other sickly creature happened to get under their silly noses. The doctors lost half their practice in consequence of the reliance of the people on these spiritual methods of physicking. Children were taken out of school in order that they might attend the prophesyings and get all knowledge by supernatural intuition. Logic and other worldly methods of arriving at truth were superseded by dreams, discernings of spirits, and similar irrational processes. The public madness was immense, tempestuous, and unequalled by anything of the kind since the "jerks" which appeared in the early part of this century under the thundering ministrations of Peter Cartwright. That nothing might be lacking to make the movement a fact in history, it had acquired a name. As its disciples used the word "dispensation" freely, the public called them Dispensationists, and their faith Dispensationism, while their meetings received the whimsical title of Dispensaries.

Amid this clamor of daft delusion, Dr. Potter congratulated his people on the resurrection of the age of miracles, and preached in furtherance of the work with a fervid sincerity and eloquence rarely surpassed by men who support the claims of true religion and right reason. Had he brought the same zeal to bear against mathematics, it seems to me he might have shaken the popular faith in the multiplication-table. The wonders transacting in his church being noised abroad, the town was soon crowded with curious strangers, mostly laymen, but several clergymen, some anxious to believe, others ready to sneer, but all resolute to see. As might have been expected, the nature of the excitement alarmed the wiser pastors of the vicinity for the cause of Orthodoxy. They saw that several of the asserted miracles were simply hoaxes or delusions; they suspected that the unknown tongues might be nothing but the senseless bubbling of overheated brainpans; they perceived that the Doctor in his enthusiastic flights was soaring clear into the murky clouds of Spiritualism; and they dreaded lest the scoffing world should make a weapon out of these absurdities for an attack upon the Christian faith. They began to preach against the fanaticism; and, of course, my friend denounced them as infidels. High war ensued among the principalities and powers of theology in all that portion of Yankeedom.

The reaction roused by the unbelieving clergymen reached the Doctor's congregation, and emboldened all the sensible members to combine into an anti-miracle party. At a meeting of these persons a committee was appointed to wait upon the pastor and respectfully request him to dismiss Riley, to cease his efforts after the supernatural, and to return to his former profitable manner of ministration. Dr. Potter was amazed and indignant; he replied, that he should preach the truth as it was revealed to himself; he scouted the dictation of the committee, and fell back upon the solemn duty of his office; he ended by informing the gentlemen that they were unbelievers and materialists. Naturally the dissenters grew all the more fractious for this currying, and held another meeting, in which the reaction kicked up higher than ever. Being resolved now to proceed to extremities, and, if necessary, to form a new congregation, they drew up the following recantation and sent it to Dr. Potter,—not with any hope that he would put his name to it, but for the purpose of ridiculing his infatuation, and driving him to resign his pulpit.

"I, the undersigned, pastor of the First Church in Troubleton, having been led far from the truth by the absurdities of modern miracleism and spiritualism, and having seen the error of my ways, do penitently subscribe to the accompanying articles.

"1st. I promise to cease all intercourse with a blasphemous blockhead named John M. Riley, who has been the human cause of my downfall.

"2d. I promise to avoid in future all rhapsodies, ecstasies, frenzies, and whimseys which throw ridicule on true religion by caricaturing its influences.

"3d. I promise to regard with the profoundest contempt and indifference both my own dreams or somnambulisms and those of other people.

"4th. I promise not to unveil the secret things of Infinity, nor to encourage others to unveil them, but to mind my own finite business, and to rest satisfied with the revelations that are contained in the Bible.

"5th. I promise not to speak unknown tongues as long as I can speak English, and not to listen to other people who commit the like absurdity, unless I know them to be Frenchmen or Dutchmen or other foreigners of some human species.

"6th. I promise not to heal the sick by any unnatural and miraculous means, but rather to call in for their aid properly educated physicians, giving the preference to those of the allopathic persuasion.

"7th. I promise not to work signs in heaven nor wonders on earth, but to let all things take the course allotted to them by a good and wise Providence."

Of course Dr. Potter looked upon this production as the height of irreverence and irreligion, and proposed to excommunicate the authors of it. Hence the dissenters declared themselves seceders, and took immediate steps to form a new society.

It was at this stage of the excitement that I returned to Troubleton and made my call upon the Doctor. I felt anxious to save my old friend and worthy pastor. I saw, that, if he continued in his present courses, he would strip himself, one after the other, of his influence, his position, his religion, and his reason. That very evening, after the usual conference-meeting was over, I called again on him, and found him in a truly lyrical frame of spirit.

"Ah, my dear friend, there is no end to it!" exclaimed he. "The doors are opening, one beyond another. Wonder shows forth after wonder, miracle after miracle. Behind the veil! behind the veil!"

"Indeed!" said I, rather vexed. "You'll find yourself behind a grate some day."

"There is now no question of the physical value as well as the spiritual sublimity of these revelations," he continued, without observing my sneer. "Life and death, the sparing of precious blood, the prevention of crime, the punishment of the guilty,—you can appreciate these things, I presume."

"When I am in my senses," returned I. "But what is the row? if I may use that worldly expression. Has Mr. John M. Riley been brought to confess any state-prison offences?"

"Ah, Elderkin!" sighed the Doctor, letting go my hand with a look of sad reproach. "But no: you cannot remain forever in this skepticism; you will be brought over to us before long. Let me tell you what has happened. But, remember, you must keep the secret until to-morrow, as you value precious lives. Mr. Riley has just left me. He has made me a revelation, a prophecy, which will be proof to all men of the origin of our present experiences. He has had a vision, thrice repeated. It foretold that this very night a robbery and murder would be attempted in the city of New Haven. The evil drama will open between two and three o'clock. There will be three burglars. The house threatened is situated in the suburbs, to the east of the city, and about a mile from the colleges."

"Is it? And what are you going to do about it?—telegraph?"

"No. We will be there in person. We will ourselves prevent the crime and seize the criminals. I shall have a word in season for that family, Sir. I wish to improve the occasion for its conversion to a full belief in these sublime mysteries. Mr. Riley, with three of my people, will meet me at the station. We shall be in New Haven by eleven, stay an hour or two in some hotel, and at half past one go to the house."

"My dear Sir, I remonstrate," exclaimed I. "You will get laughed at. You will get shot at. You will get into disgrace. You will get into jail. For pity's sake, give up this quixotic expedition, and grant me an absolution before the fact for kicking Riley out of doors."

The Doctor turned his face away from me and walked to a window. His air of profound, yet uncomplaining grief, struck me with compunction, and, following him, I held out my hand.

"Come, excuse me," said I. "Look here,—if this comes true, I'll quit geology and go to working miracles to-morrow. I'll come over to your faith, if I have to wade through my reason."

"Will you?" he responded, joyfully. "You will never repent it. There, shake hands. I am not angry. Your unbelief is natural, though saddening. To-morrow night, then, come and see me again and I will tell you the whole adventure. I must be off to the train now. Excuse me for leaving you. Would you like to sit here awhile and look at Humby's 'Modern Miracles'?"

"No, thank you. Prefer to look at your miracles. I am going with you."

"Going with me? Are you? I'm delighted!" he cried, not in the least startled or embarrassed by the proposition. "Now you shall see with your own eyes."

"Yes, if it isn't too dark, I will,—word of a geologist. Well, shall we start?"

"But won't you have a weapon? We go armed, of course, inasmuch as the scoundrels may show fight when we come to arrest them."

"I don't want it," said I, gently pushing away a pocket-pistol, about as dangerous as a squirt. "All the burglars you see to-night may shoot at me, and welcome."

We walked to the station, and found our party waiting for the Boston train. The Doctor introduced me, with much affectionate effusion and many particulars concerning my family and early history, to the man of unearthly lingoes. He was a tall, lean, flat-chested, cadaverous being, of about forty, his sandy hair nicely sleeked, thin yellow whiskers spattered on his hollow cheeks, his nose short and snub, his face small, wilted, and so freckled that it could hardly be said to have a complexion. In short, by its littleness, by its yellowness, by its appearance of dusty dryness, this singular physiognomy reminded me so strongly of a pinch of snuff, that I almost sneezed at sight of it. His diminutive green eyes were fringed with ragged flaxen lashes, and seemed to be very loose in their reddened lids, as if he could cry them out at the shortest notice. I observed that he never looked his interlocutors in the face, but stared chiefly at their feet, as if surmising whether they would kick, or gazed into remote distance, as if trying to see round the world and get a view of his own back. His dress was a full suit of black, fine in texture, but bagging about him in a way that made you wonder whether he had not lost a hundred-weight or so in training for his spiritual battles. His manners were quiet, and would not have been disagreeable, but for an air of uncomfortably stiff solemnity, which draped him from head to foot like a robe of moral oilcloth, and might almost be said to rustle audibly. Whether he was a practical joker, a swindler, a fanatic, or a madman, my spiritual vision was not keen enough to discover at first sight. Beside him and ourselves the party consisted of a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick-maker, all members of the Doctor's church and indefatigable workers of miracles,—plain men and foolish, but respectable in standing and sincere in their folly. Mr. Riley was so commonplace as to address me in English, probably because he wanted an answer.

"Do you accompany us, Sir, on this blessed crusade against crime and unbelief?" he asked.

"My friend, Dr. Potter, has granted me that inestimable privilege," responded I.

"I hope—in fact, I firmly believe—that Providence will aid us," he continued.

"I hope so, too," said I. "But wouldn't it be advisable to have a policeman, too?"

"By no means! Certainly not!" he returned, with considerable excitement. "All we want is a band of saints, of justified souls, of men fitted for the martyr's crown."

"Oh, that's all, is it, Sir? Well, shall we get into the cars? There they are."

The train was full, and our party had to scatter, but Mr. Riley and I got seats together.

"I have not seen you at our meetings, Sir," he continued. "Allow me to ask, are you a believer in Dispensationism?"

"Not so strong as I might be. However, I have been absent from
Troubleton for three months, and only returned yesterday."

"Ah! you have lost precious opportunities. You must lose no more. Life is short."

"And uncertain," I added. "Especially in railroad travelling."

"My dear Sir, I hope this road is prudently conducted," he said, with a look of some little anxiety.

"Not many accidents," I answered. "And then, you know, we are always in the hands of Providence. No fear of slipping through the fingers unnoticed."

"No, Sir, certainly not," he remarked, wrapping his moral oilcloth about him again. "Have you felt any extraordinary spiritual impressions since you returned?"

"Nothing lasting, I think. Nothing that a night's sleep wouldn't take off the edge of."

"No desire to lay hands on some sin-stricken wretch and cure him of the evil that is in him?"

Now I did feel a strong desire to lay hands on this very Riley and pull out his snub nose for him; but I forbore to say so, and simply shook my head despondently.

"I know, that, if you would come to our Dispensaries and join in our exercises, you would be sensible of a softening," he observed.

"Yes, in the brain," thought I; but I still remained silent.

"You should meditate upon the value of manifestations, unknown tongues, the laying on of hands, visions, ecstasies, and such like matters," he continued.

"So I have," said I.

"And with no result?"

"Nothing that particularly astonishes me. I think that I hate humbug more than I did."

"That's a good sign," he replied, after a brief, sharp glance of inquiry at me. "This vain world is a humbug, as you phrase it. Dead Orthodoxy is a humbug. Human reason is a humbug. We are all humbugs, unless we are made true by Dispensation. This age will be a humbug, unless it can be wrought into an age of miracles. If you could be brought to hate earnestly all these things, it would be a hopeful sign."

I was on the point of disputing the hypothesis, but prudently checked myself. Suddenly he removed my hat and put his broad, hard palm upon my organs with an impudent dexterity which made me doubt whether he had not been a pickpocket or a phrenological lecturer.

"I lay my hand upon your head and desire you to note the effect," said he. "Can no life come into these dry bones? Shall they not live? Yea, they shall live! Do you feel no irrepressible emotion, Sir,—no shaking?"

"Not a shake," replied I,—"unless it be from the bad grading."

"Evil is mighty, but the good must eventually prevail," he observed, impertinently cocking his snub nose toward heaven.

"I believe you are quite right in both propositions," I admitted.
"Cardinal points of mine. But excuse me, Sir, if you could spare my hat,
I should like to put it on my head."

I had lost patience with the man, partly because it irks me to have strangers take liberties with my person, and also because I had reached the conclusion that he was simply a shallow dissembler and rascal. In a minute more I had cause to reconsider my charge of hypocrisy, and to question whether he might not lay claim to the nobler distinction of lunacy. The conductor came down the car, picking out Troubletonians with his undeceivable eye, and leaned toward us with outstretched fingers. Mr. Riley rose to his whole gaunt height at a jerk, and laid his hand on the official's arm with a fierce, bony gripe, which seemed to startle him as if it were the clutch of a skeleton.

"There is my ticket," said he. "Where is yours? Have you one for the
Holy City? None? Then you are lost, lost, lost!"

The last words rose to a high, clear shriek, which pierced the heavy rumble of the train and rang throughout the car. The conductor, in spite of the coolness which becomes second nature to men of his profession, turned slightly pale and shrank back before this wild apostrophe, with a thrill of spiritual horror at the solemn meaning of the words, (I thought,) and not because he considered the man a maniac. The fanaticism of Troubleton had already flown far and cast a vague shadow of dread over a large community.

Turning abruptly from the conductor, my companion flung out his long arms toward the staring passengers, and continued in his strident, startling tenor:—"I have warned him. I call you all to witness that I have warned this man of his fearful peril. His blood be on his own head! The blood of your souls will be upon your heads, unless you turn to Dispensationism. I have said it. Amen!"

Before he had sat down again I was in the alley on my way to another car, not anxious to become known as the intimate of this extraordinary apostle. I found an empty seat by the Doctor, dropped into it, and told my story.

"My dear friend, give the fellow up," I concluded. "He's as mad as he can possibly be."

"So Festus thought of Paul," returned my poor comrade, with hopeless fatuity.

"Festus be d——d!" said I, losing my temper, and swearing for the first time since I graduated.

"I fear he was so," remarked the Doctor, severely. "Let me urge you to take warning from his fate."

"I beg your pardon, and that of Festus," I apologized. "But when I see you losing your reason, I can't keep my patience, and don't wish to."

"You will wonder at these feelings before many hours," he responded gently. "To-morrow you will be a believer."

"That makes no difference with me now," said I. "I am just as skeptical as if I hadn't a chance of conversion. Why, Doctor,—well, come now,—I'll argue the case with you. In the first place, all Church history is against you. There isn't a respectable author who upholds the doctrine of modern miracles."

"Mistake!" he exclaimed. "I wish I had you in my library. I could face you with writer on writer, fact on fact, all supporting my views. I can prove that miracles have not ceased for eighteen centuries; that they appeared abundantly in the days of the venerable Catholic fathers; that a stream of prophecies and healings and tongues ran clear through the Dark Ages down to the Reformation; that the superhuman influence flamed in the dreams of Huss, the ecstasies of Xavier, and the marvels of Fox and Usher. Look at the French Prophets, or Tremblers of the Cevennes, who had prophesyings and healings and discoverings of spirits and tongues and interpretations. Look at the ecstatic Jansenists, or Convulsionists of St. Médard, who were blessed with the same holy gifts. Look at the Quakers, from Fox downward, who have held it as a constant principle to expect powers, revelations, discernings of spirits, and instantaneous healings of diseases. Why, here we are in our own days; here we are with our chain of miracles still unbroken; here we are in the midst of this geological and unbelieving nineteenth century."

"Yes, here we are," said I; "and we must make the best of it. It's a bad affair, of course, to live in scientific times; and it's a great pity that we were not born in the Dark Ages; but it is too late to try to help it."

"Ah! you answer with a sneer; you are materialistic and infidel."

"Stop, Doctor! Let me make a bargain with you. If you won't call me names, I won't call you names. You are not in the pulpit now, and you have no right to domineer over me."

"But what do you say to all these signs and wonders which I have mentioned?"

"What do you say to the Rochester knockings and the Stratford mysteries and the Mormon miracles?"

"All deceptions, or works of the Devil," affirmed the Doctor, without a moment's hesitation.

"Excuse me for smiling," I replied "It is pleasant to observe what a quick spirit you have for discerning the true wonders from the false."

"You will see, you will see," he answered, and relapsed into a grave silence.

We reached New Haven and took rooms at the New Haven Hotel. I had anticipated a little nap before going out on our expedition; but I had not made allowance for the proselyting zeal of Dispensationists. My poor bewildered friend Potter uttered something which he sincerely meant to be a prayer, but which sounded to me painfully like blasphemy. Next they sang a queer hymn of theirs in discordant chorus. After that, Mr. Riley rolled up his sleeves and his eyes, flung his arms about, wept and shrieked unknown tongues for twenty minutes. Then the butcher, the baker, and candlestick-maker had a combined convulsion on the floor, rolling over each other and upsetting furniture. By this time the hotel was roused and the landlord made us a call.

"What the Old Harry are you about?" he demanded, angrily. "Don't you know it's after midnight?"

"We are holding a Dispensary," said Mr. Riley, solemnly.

"Well, I'll dispense with your company, if you don't stop it," returned mine host. "There's a nervous lady in the next room, and you've worried her into fits."

"Let me see her," cried the Doctor, eagerly. "It may be that the power of our faith is upon her. Which is her door?"

"You're drunk, Sir," returned the landlord, severely. "Keep quiet now, or I'll have you put to bed by the porters."

So saying, he shut the door and went muttering down-stairs. This untoward incident put an end to our exercises. A whispered palaver on Dispensationism followed, during which I tilted my chair back against the wall and stole a pleasant little nap.

It was about half past one when the Doctor shook me up and said, "It is time." We slipped down-stairs in our stockinged feet, got the front-door open without awakening the porter, shut it carefully after us, and put on our boots outside. Mr. Riley immediately started up College Street, which, as all the world is aware, runs northerly to the Canal Railroad, where it changes to Prospect Street and goes off in a half-wild state up country. At the end of College Street we left the city behind us, struck the rail-track, forsook that presently for a desert sort of road known as Canal Street, and kept on in a northwesterly direction for half a mile farther. It was a dark, cool, and blustering night, such as the New Englanders are very apt to have on the second of April. The wind blew violently down the open country, shaking the scattered trees as if it meant to wake them instantly out of their winter's slumber, and screeching in the murky distances like a tomcat of the housetops, or rather like a continent of tomcats. The Doctor lost his hat, chased it a few rods, and then gave it up, lest he should miss his burglars. Once I halted and watched, thinking that I saw two or three dark shapes dogging us not far behind, but concluded that I had been deceived by the black-art of magical Night, and hastened on after my crazy comrades. Presently Riley stopped, pointed to a dark mass on our right which seemed about large enough to be a story-and-a-half cottage, and whispered, "Here we are, brethren."

"No doubt about that," said I. "But what the mischief is to come of it?"

"Oh! let's go back and call the police," urged the baker, in a tremulous gurgle.

"Too late!" returned Riley. "It is given to me to see the burglars. They are inside. They are taking the silver out of the closet. There will be murder in five minutes."

"If there must be murder, why, of course we ought to have a hand in it,"
I suggested. "Our motives at least will be good."

"Right!" said Riley. "Come on, brethren! We must prove our faith by our works."

But the baker hung back in a most dough-faced fashion, while the butcher and the candlestick-maker encouraged him in his cowardice. At last it was agreed that this unheroic trio should wait in the yard as a reserve, while Riley, the Doctor, and I went in to worry the burglars. Leaving the weaker brethren in a clump of evergreen shrubbery, we, the forlorn-hope, stole around the house to get at a back-door which Prophet Riley had plainly seen in his dream, and which he foretold us we should find unlocked. I was not much amazed to discover a back-door, inasmuch as most houses have one, but I really was surprised to learn that it was unfastened. My astonishment at this circumstance, however, was over- balanced by my alarm at finding that the Doctor still persisted in his intention of entering; for I had hoped that at the last moment his faith would give way, and let him slide down from the elevation of his ridiculous and reckless purpose.

"But you are not really going in?" I whispered, jerking at his coat-tails.

"Certainly," he replied. "The robbers are surely there. The door was unlocked."

"Mere carelessness of the servants. Stop! Come back! Nonsense! Madness! You'll get into a scrape. Respectable family. Good gracious, what a pack of fools!"

While I was rapidly muttering these observations, he was pulling away from me and stealing into the house after his prophet. Finding that there was no stopping him, I followed, in obedience, perhaps, to that great and no doubt beneficent, but as yet unexplained, instinct which causes sheep to leap after their bellwether. We were in a basement, or semi-subterranean story. I felt the walls of a narrow passage on either side of me, and can swear to a kitchen near by, for I smelt its cooking-range. I walked on the foremost end of my toes, and would have paid five dollars for a pair of list slippers. Rather than take another such little promenade as I had in that passage, I would submit to be placed on the middle sleeper of a railroad-bridge, with an express-train coming at me without a cowcatcher. Presently I overtook the Doctor's coat-tails again, and found that they were ascending a staircase. At the top of the stairs was a door, and on the other side of the door was a room, the uses of which I won't undertake to swear to, for I never saw it, although I was in it longer than I wanted to be. All I know is that it seemed to be as full of chairs, and tables, and sofas, and sideboards, and stoves, and crickets, as if it had been a shop for second-hand furniture. I was just rubbing my shins after an encounter with a remarkably solid object, nature uncertain, when somebody near me fell over something with a crash and a groan. Immediately somebody else seized me by the cravat and began to throttle me. Whoever it was, I floored him with a right-hander, and sent him across the other person, as I judged by the combined grunt, and the desperate, though dumb struggle which followed. Now there were two of them down, and how many standing I could not guess. An instant afterward, a muffled voice, like that of a man only half awake, shouted from a room behind me, "Who's there? Get out! I'm a-coming!" This seemed to encourage the individuals who were having a rough-and-tumble on the carpet, for they commenced roaring simultaneously, "Help! murder! thieves! fire!" without, however, relaxing hostilities for a moment.

The next pleasant incident was a pistol-shot, the ball of which whizzed so near my head that it made me dodge, although I have not the least notion who fired it or whom it was aimed at. Female screams and masculine shouts now sounded from various directions. Thinking that I had done all the good in my power, I concluded to get out of this confusion; but either the doorway by which we entered had suddenly walled itself up, or else I had lost my reckoning; for, stumble where I would, feel about as I would, I could not find it. I did, indeed, come to an opening in the wall, but there was no staircase the other side of it, and it simply introduced me to another invisible apartment. I had no chance to reflect upon the matter and decide of my own free will whether I would go in or not. A sudden rush of fighting, howling persons swept me along, jammed me against a pillar, pushed me over a table, and forced me to engage in a furious struggle, exceedingly awkward by reason of the darkness and the extraordinary amount of furniture. A tremendous punch in the side of the head upset me and made me lose my temper. Rising in a rage, I grappled some man, tripped up his heels, got on his chest, and never left off belaboring him until I felt pretty sure that he would keep quiet during the rest of the soiree. I hope sincerely that this suffering individual was Mr. John M. Riley; but, from the rotundity of stomach which I bestrode, I very much fear that it was the Doctor.

All this while the house resounded with outcries of, "Who's there?" "What's the matter?" "Father!" "Henry!" "Jenny!" "Maria!" "Thieves!" "Murder!" "Police!" and so forth. Of course I did not feel disposed to tell who was there; and in actual fact I could not have explained what was the matter. Accordingly I left all these inquisitive people unsatisfied, and busied myself solely with my fallen antagonist. Quitting him at last in a state of quiescence, I knocked over a person who had been attacking me in the rear, and then blundered into a passage, which I suppose to have been the front-hall, just as a light glimmered up in the rooms behind me. It gives one a very odd sensation to tread on a prostrate body, not knowing whether it is dead or alive, whether it is a man or a woman. I had that sensation in ascending a stairway which seemed to be the only egress from the aforesaid passage. The individual made no movement, and I did not stop to count his or her pulses. Without feeling at all disposed to take my oath on the matter, I rather suspect that a negro servant-girl had fainted away there in the act of trying to run off in her nightgown. Upstairs I tumbled, resolved to get upon the roof and slide down the lightning-rod, or else jump from a window. Pushing open a door, which I fell against, I found myself in a pretty little bedroom lighted by a single candle, articles of female costume banging across chairs and scattered over dressing-tables, while on the floor, just as she had swooned in her terror, lay a blonde girl of nineteen or twenty, pale as marble, but beautiful. Right through my alarm jarred a throb of mingled self-reproach and pity and admiration. I tossed a pile of bedclothes over her, kissed the long light-brown hair which rippled on the straw matting, daguerreotyped the face on my memory with a glance, blew out the light, opened a window, and slipped out of it. It is unpleasant to drop through darkness, not knowing how far you will fall, nor whether you will not alight on iron pickets. Fortunately, I came down in a fresh flower-bed, with no unpleasant result, except a sensation of having nearly bitten my tongue off. I had scarcely steadied myself on my feet, when a tall figure made a rush from some near ambuscade and seized me by the collar. Supposing him to be one of our reserve force, I quietly suffered him to lead me forward, and was on the point of whispering my name, when my eye caught a glimmer of metal, and I knew that I was in the hands of a policeman.

"Come in and help," said I. "The house is full of rascals."

Thinking me one of the family, he loosed his hold on my broadcloth and hurried away to the back-door. Whoever reads this story has already taken it for granted that I did not follow him, but that I did, on the contrary, make for the city and never cease travelling until I had reached the hotel. Let no man reproach me with forsaking my friend, the Doctor, in his extremity. I was brought up to reverence the law and to entertain a virtuous terror of policemen; and, besides, what could I have effected in that horrible labyrinth of dark rooms and multitudinous furniture? I rang up the porter, went to bed, and lay awake alt the rest of the night, listening for the return of my companions. No one came: no Doctor, no Riley, no butcher, no baker, no candlestick-maker. I was apparently the sole survivor of our little army. In the morning I walked over to the police-station, peeped cautiously through the grated door of a long room where the night's gatherings are lodged, and discovered my five friends, tattered and bruised, but holding a lively Dispensary in one corner. From that moment I despaired of the Doctor and resolved to let him manage his own monomania. I was still peeping when two of the police and a sly-looking man in citizen's dress came up and stared boldly at the prisoners.

"Well, Old Cock, do you see your game?" asked one of the "force."

"Thaht's him," returned the Old Cock, speaking with the soft drawl of the New York cockney. "Tall fellah thah with thah black eye, thaht's a-goin' it now. Thundah, what a roarah!"

"Well, what is he?" inquired the second of the New-Haveners.

"Joseph Hull, 'ligious lunatic," said the Old Cock. "Was in thah Bloomingdale Asylum. Cut off one night about foah months ago and stole a suit o' clothes that belonged to John M. Riley, with a lot o' money and papahs and lettahs in thah pockets. How'd you get hold of him?"

"Broke into a house eout here last night," related the first New-Havener. "He and them other fellers, and one more that we ha'n't found. I was on my beat 'bout one o'clock, and see 'em puttin' up College Street full chisel. I thought they looked kinder dangerous. So I called Doolittle here, and Jarvis, and Jacobs, and we after 'em. Chased 'em 'bout a mild and treed 'em at Square Russoll's, way up Canal, eout in the country. Three was in the yard and gin right up without doublin' a fist, though they had their pockets chuck full o' little pistols. We locked 'em into the cellar, and then, went upstairs, where there was a devil of a yellin' and fightin'. Hanged if I know what they come there for. They'd been pitchin' into one another and knockin' one another's heads off, besides smashin' furnichy and chimbly crockery, but hadn't stole a thing. The fat one and the long one—them two with white chokers—was lyin' on the floor pootty much used up. There was another that got up-stairs and jumped out a winder. Jarvis was outside and collared him, but thought he was Russell's son-in-law,—ho, ho, ho!—and let him off,—ho, ho, ho! Tell ye, Jarvis feels thunderin' small 'bout it. Ha'n't been reound this mornin'."

"Well, I'll leave my warrant with your big-wigs, and come after my man when they've got through with him," said the New York detective, turning away.

Fearing the return of the enlightened Jarvis, I now left, and, taking the first train to Troubleton, informed some of the leading Dispensationists concerning their pastor's calamity. By dint of heavy bail and strong representations they saved him, together with the butcher and baker and candlestick-maker, from the disgrace of prison and the lunatic asylum. But the adventure was the ruin of Dispensationism. Mr. Joseph Hull had to give up Mr. John M. Riley's valuables, and return to his seclusion at Bloomingdale. Deprived of the apostle who had set them on fire, and overwhelmed by public ridicule, the Dispensationists lost their faith, got ashamed of their minister, and turned him adrift. He disappeared in the great whirl of men and other circumstances which fills this wonderful country. From time to time, during five years, I had made inquiries concerning him of mineralogists, botanists, and other vagrant characters, without getting the smallest hint as to his whereabouts. At last he had turned up as the private prophet of three middle-aged widows.

"Jenny," said I to my wife, "do you remember the night I frightened you so and kissed you as you lay in a fainting-fit?"

"You always say you kissed me, but I don't believe it," returned that dear woman whom I love, honor, and cherish. "Yes, I remember the night well enough."

"Well, that poor Doctor Potter, who was my Mahomet on that occasion, and led me to victory in your parlor, and was the indirect means of my getting my houri,—I have heard from him. He is our next neighbor."

"Mercy on us, Frederic! I hope not! What mischief won't he do to people who are so handy?"

"Don't be worried, my dear," said I. "I sha'n't go over to his religion again,—unless, indeed, you should insist upon it. But here he is, and still a supernaturalist. I am anxious to know just how mad he is. I shall call on him in a day or two."

So I did. One of the three widows met me with a tearful countenance and told me that Doctor Potter had disappeared. So he had. I think that he was ashamed to meet me again, and therefore ran away. The widows thought not. They came to the conclusion, that, like Enoch and Elijah before him, he had been translated. They cried for him a good deal more than he was worth, quarreled scandalously among themselves, sold their house at a loss, and dispersed. I know nothing more of them. Neither do I know anything further of my neighbor, the prophet.

* * * * *



  It was a story the pilot told, with his back to his hearers,—
  Keeping his hand on the wheel and his eye on the globe of the jack-staff,
  Holding the boat to the shore and out of the sweep of the current,
  Lightly turning aside for the heavy logs of the drift-wood,
  Widely shunning the snags that made us sardonic obeisance.


  All the soft, damp air was full of delicate perfume
  From the young willows in bloom on either bank of the river,—
  Faint, delicious fragrance, trancing the indolent senses
  In a luxurious dream of the river and land of the lotus.
  Not yet out of the west the roses of sunset were withered;
  In the deep blue above light clouds of gold and of crimson
  Floated in slumber serene, and the restless river beneath them
  Rushed away to the sea with a vision of rest in its bosom.
  Far on the eastern shore lay dimly the swamps of the cypress;
  Dimly before us the islands grew from the river's expanses,—
  Beautiful, wood-grown isles,—with the gleam of the swart inundation
  Seen through the swaying boughs and slender trunks of their willows;
  And on the shore beside its the cotton-trees rose in the evening,
  Phantom-like, yearningly, wearily, with the inscrutable sadness
  Of the mute races of trees. While hoarsely the steam from her
  Shouted, then whispered a moment, then shouted again to the silence,
  Trembling through all her frame with the mighty pulse of her engines,
  Slowly the boat ascended the swollen and broad Mississippi,
  Bank-full, sweeping on, with nearing masses of drift-wood,
  Daintily breathed about with hazes of silvery vapor,
  Where in his arrowy flight the twittering swallow alighted,
  And the belated blackbird paused on the way to its nestlings.


  It was the pilot's story:—"They both came aboard there, at Cairo,
  From a New Orleans boat, and took passage with us for Saint Louis.
  She was a beautiful woman, with just enough blood from her mother,
  Darkening her eyes and her hair, to make her race known to a trader:
  You would have thought she was white. The man that was with her,—you
     see such,—
  Weakly good-natured and kind, and weakly good-natured and vicious,
  Slender of body and soul, fit neither for loving nor hating.
  I was a youngster then, and only learning the river,—
  Not over-fond of the wheel. I used to watch them at monte,
  Down in the cabin at night, and learned to know all of the gamblers.
  So when I saw this weak one staking his money against them,
  Betting upon the turn of the cards, I knew what was coming:
  They never left their pigeons a single feather to fly with.
  Next day I saw them together,—the stranger and one of the gamblers:
  Picturesque rascal he was, with long black hair and moustaches,
  Black slouch hat drawn down to his eyes from his villanous forehead:
  On together they moved, still earnestly talking in whispers,
  On toward the forecastle, where sat the woman alone by the gangway.
  Roused by the fall of feet, she turned, and, beholding her master,
  Greeted him with a smile that was more like a wife's than another's,
  Rose to meet him fondly, and then, with the dread apprehension
  Always haunting the slave, fell her eye on the face of the gambler,
  Dark and lustful and fierce and full of merciless cunning.
  Something was spoken so low that I could not hear what the words were;
  Only the woman started, and looked from one to the other,
  With imploring eyes, bewildered hands, and a tremor
  All through her frame: I saw her from where I was standing, she shook so.
  'Say! is it so?' she cried. On the weak, white lips of her master
  Died a sickly smile, and he said,—'Louise, I have sold you.'
  God is my judge! May I never see such a look of despairing,
  Desolate anguish, as that which the woman cast on her master,
  Griping her breast with her little hands, as if he had stabbed her,
  Standing in silence a space, as fixed as the Indian woman,
  Carved out of wood, on the pilot-house of the old Pocahontas!
  Then, with a gurgling moan, like the sound in the throat of the dying,
  Came back her voice, that, rising, fluttered, through wild incoherence,
  Into a terrible shriek that stopped my heart while she answered:—
  'Sold me? sold me? sold——And you promised to give me my freedom!—
  Promised me, for the sake of our little boy in Saint Louis!
  What will you say to our boy, when he cries for me there in Saint Louis?
  What will you say to our God?—Ah, you have been joking! I see it!—
  No? God! God! He shall hear it,—and all of the angels in heaven,—
  Even the devils in hell!—and none will believe when they hear it!
  Sold me!'—Fell her voice with a thrilling wail, and in silence
  Down she sank on the deck, and covered her face with her fingers."


  In his story a moment the pilot paused, while we listened
  To the salute of a boat, that, rounding the point of an island,
  Flamed toward us with fires that seemed to burn from the waters,—
  Stately and vast and swift, and borne on the heart of the current.
  Then, with the mighty voice of a giant challenged to battle,
  Rose the responsive whistle, and all the echoes of island,
  Swamp-land, glade, and brake replied with a myriad clamor,
  Like wild birds that are suddenly startled from slumber at midnight;
  Then were at peace once more, and we heard the harsh cries of the
  Perched on a tree by a cabin-door, where the white-headed settler's
  White-headed children stood to look at the boat as it passed them,
  Passed them so near that we heard their happy talk and their laughter.
  Softly the sunset had faded, and now on the eastern horizon
  Hung, like a tear in the sky, the beautiful star of the evening.


  Still with his back to us standing, the pilot went on with his story:—
  "Instantly, all the people, with looks of reproach and compassion,
  Flocked round the prostrate woman. The children cried, and their mothers
  Hugged them tight to their breasts; but the gambler said to the
  'Put me off there at the town that lies round the bend of the river.
  Here, you! rise at once, and be ready now to go with me.'
  Roughly he seized the woman's arm and strove to uplift her.
  She—she seemed not to heed him, but rose like one that is dreaming,
  Slid from his grasp, and fleetly mounted the steps of the gangway,
  Up to the hurricane-deck, in silence, without lamentation.
  Straight to the stern of the boat, where the wheel was, she ran, and
     the people
  Followed her fast till she turned and stood at bay for a moment,
  Looking them in the face, and in the face of the gambler.
  Not one to save her,—not one of all the compassionate people!
  Not one to save her, of all the pitying angels in heaven!
  Not one bolt of God to strike him dead there before her!
  Wildly she waved him back, we waiting in silence and horror.
  Over the swarthy face of the gambler a pallor of passion
  Passed, like a gleam of lightning over the west in the night-time.
  White, she stood, and mute, till he put forth his hand to secure her;
  Then she turned and leaped,—in mid air fluttered a moment,—
  Down, there, whirling, fell, like a broken-winged bird from a tree-top,
  Down on the cruel wheel, that caught her, and hurled her, and
     crushed her,
  And in the foaming water plunged her, and hid her forever."


  Still with his back to us all the pilot stood, but we heard him
  Swallowing hard, as he pulled the bell-rope to stop her. Then, turning,—
  "This is the place where it happened," brokenly whispered the pilot.
  "Somehow, I never like to go by here alone in the night-time."
  Darkly the Mississippi flowed by the town that lay in the starlight,
  Cheerful with lamps. Below we could hear them reversing the engines,
  And the great boat glided up to the shore like a giant exhausted.
  Heavily sighed her pipes. Broad over the swamps to the eastward
  Shone the full moon, and turned our far-trembling wake into silver.
  All was serene and calm, but the odorous breath of the willows
  Smote like the subtile breath of an infinite sorrow upon us.


"Good morning!" said the old custodian, as he stood in the door of the lodge, brushing out with his knuckles the cobwebs of sleep entangled in his eyelashes, and ventilating the apartments of his fleshly tabernacle with prolonged oscitations. "You are on hand early this time, a'n't you? You're the first live man I've seen since I got up."

So saying, he vanished, and reappearing in a moment with a huge brass key, entered the arch, unlocked the gate which closed the aperture fronting the east like the cover of a porthole, and sent it with a heavy push wide open.

Wading through the flood of sunlight which poured into the passage-way——But stop! I was about,—who knows?—in imitation of divers admired models, to tell the reader in choicest poetic diction how the City of the Dead, with its magnificent streets, shining palaces, and lofty monuments, burst upon my dazzled vision,—how I walked for half a mile along a spacious avenue, beneath an arcade of giant elms hung with wreaths of mist and vocal with singing, feathery fruit,—past marble tombs whose yards were filled with bright and fragrant flowers,— among waving grassy knolls spread with the silver nets of spiders and sparkling dew,—through vales of cool twilight and ravines of sombre dusk,—and so on for more than a page, until finally, step by step, through laboriously elegant sentences, I worked my way up to the top of a lofty hill, the view from which to be graphically described as a picture and a poem dissolved together into mingled glory and mirage, and inundating with a billowy sea of beauty the landscape below;—and then further depicting to the delighted fancy of the reader, how on one side was a most remarkable river,—such as was never heard of before, probably,—in fact, a web of water framed between the hills, its rushing warp-currents, as it rolled along, woven by smoking steam-shuttles with a woof of foam,—how, at the entrance of a bay, flocks of snowy sails, with black, shining beaks, and sleek, unruffled plumage, were swimming out to sea,—how another river, not quite so unique as the last, was also in sight, coiling among emerald steeps and crags and precipices and forest,—while beyond, green woodlands, checkered fields, groves, orchards, villages, hills, farms, and villas, all glowed in an exceedingly charming manner in the morning sun;—and then, still further, to say something as brilliant as possible about a certain city, designated as the Great Metropolis,—how it resembled, perhaps, a Cyclopean type-form, with blocks of buildings for letters, domes, turrets, and towers for punctuation-points, church-spires for interrogation and exclamation marks, and squares and avenues for division-spaces between the paragraphs, set up and leaded with streets into a vast editorial page of original matter on Commerce and Manufactures, rolled every morning with the ink of toil, and printing before night an edition of results circulated to the remotest quarters of the globe. And the tall chimneys yonder were to be called—let me see—oh, the smoking cathedral-towers of the Holy Catholic Church of Labor, islanding the air with clouds of incense more grateful to the Deity than the fume of priest-swung censers. All this, and much more of a similar nature, including an eloquent address to the ocean hard by, it is possible I was about to say. But, unwilling to smother the reader beneath a mountain of rhetorical flowers,—which accident might happen, should I resolve to be "equal to the occasion,"—I shall contain myself, and state, in the way of a curt preface, in plain prose, and directly to the point, that I entered a remarkably large and populous cemetery, no matter where, very early one morning,—in fact, you have the gate-keeper's word for it that I was the first person there,—that I climbed to the summit of a high hill and enjoyed the view of a beautiful landscape, just after sunrise; and with this finally said and done, let us proceed.

As I stood listening to the music of the sea-breeze in the pine-forests below, and watching the ships sinking into the ocean from view or dropping through the sky into sight at the rim of the horizon, and the clouds changing their picturesque sunrise-dress for a uniform of sober white, forming into rank and file, marching and countermarching, sending off scouts into the far distance and foraging-parties to scour the yellow fields of air, pitching their tents and placing sentinels on guard around the camp,—amusing myself with fashioning quaint, arabesque fancies,—a sort of intellectual whittling-habit I have when idle,—I was roused from my reverie by the creaking of an iron gate.

Descending a few steps into a cluster of trees, I saw through their leafy lattice-work, in an inclosure ornamented with rose-bushes and other flowering shrubs, a young woman, richly dressed in black, kneeling by the side of a new-made grave. The mound, evidently covering a full-grown person, was nicely laid at the top with carefully cut sods, the dark edges of which projected a little over the lighter-colored gravel that sloped gradually down to the greensward. I was not long in becoming satisfied that the person I saw was a young widow at the grave of her husband, now three or four weeks dead, hither on her accustomed morning visit to display her love and affection for his memory.

Bowing her head, for a few moments she gave way to sobs and weeping, and then, removing the cover from a little willow basket, which stood by her side, she took from it handfuls of bright flowers, and began to adorn the table of sods upon the top of the mound.

As I regard her thus employed, weaving the tokens of her affection into garlands, chaplets, and fanciful devices, arranging their symbolic characters into interpretable monograms and hieroglyphs, matching their colors and blending their hues and shades with the skill of an artist, she becomes more and more absorbed in her work, the tears disappear from her eyes, and the morning light flushes her pale and beautiful face. Is she thinking now, I wonder, of the dead husband, or of something else? What has she found among the flowers so consoling? Do they suggest pleasant fancies, or recall the memories of happy days? Have they, perhaps, a double meaning,—souvenirs of felicity as well as symbols of sorrow? Are they opiates obliterating actual suffering, or prophets uttering hopeful predictions? Or is it none of these things, and does she find her work pleasant only because duty makes its performance cheerful labor? I cannot say what it is, but something has assuaged her grief; for I see her smiling now, as she holds a rosebud in her fingers, and gazes at it abstractedly; and her thoughts and feelings, whatever they may be, are indubitably not of a mournful character;—in fact, I am sure that she never was happier in her life than she is at this moment.

"Happy, do you say?"

Yes, I say happy.

The nature of woman, it is conceded by all men, is a curious, interesting, and perplexing, if not, in respect of positive practical results, a most unsatisfactory study. But nothing puzzles us so much to comprehend as the fact just alluded to. The tenderest female constitution will sustain a burden of grief which would crush a robust and iron-nerved man, and drive him to despair and suicide. A woman rarely succumbs to a calamity; however sudden and overwhelming the initial shock may be, she revives and grows cheerful and happy under it in a way and to a degree marvellous to behold. What singular secret is there among the psychological mysteries of her nature which is able to account for this phenomenon?—A gentle, timid girl of sixteen, whom the sight of a spider or a live snake would have frightened into hysterics, I had once an opportunity, on a tour through Italy, to observe, while she took little or no notice of other works of art, would gaze, as if fascinated, at the writhings of Laocoön and his sons in the folds and fangs of the serpents, at the sculptured death of the Gladiator, and even at the ghastly, repulsive pictures of martyrdoms and barbaric mutilations and tortures,—the hideous monstrosities of a diseased and degraded imagination found in the churches and convents of Rome, which made others turn their backs with a shivering of the bones and a creeping of the flesh. On expressing surprise at such a singular exhibition of taste, I received this innocent, unpremeditated reply:—"Why, I don't like them; the sight of them almost freezes my blood; but—somehow I do like to look at them, for I always feel better after it!" Now is there not involved in this artless answer a possible explanation of the above-mentioned fact? Has not woman, hidden somewhere among her other (of course angelic)—affections, a positive love of sickness, death, sorrow, and suffering, which man does not possess? Is not the pain they cause, in her case, qualified by actual pleasure? Do they not act as a stimulus upon her sensitive nervous system, and produce, somehow, a delightfully intoxicated state of the feelings? Would not this explain her otherwise unaccountable fondness for witnessing the execution of murderers, for the horrible in novels and the deaths and catastrophes in the newspapers, that she has a constitutional relish for such horrid things, and that she enjoys them, not because they are in se productive of pleasure, but just, as is the case with her "crying," because she feels better after it? And I think it would be found, if an investigation of the subject were instituted, that a foreknowledge of this inevitable result, derived from intuition or experience, is the agent which breaks up the clouds of her sorrow: so that, while the grief of a man stricken down by misfortune is an equinoctial storm, dark and dismal, which lasts for weeks and months, the grief of woman is a succession of refreshing April showers, each of brief duration, and the spaces between them filled with sunshine and rainbows.

But the sweets of that widow's present sorrow will be soon extracted. How many weeks will she find it a pleasure to make morning visits here and plait pretty flowers on the grave of her husband?—The grave in the next inclosure furnishes an answer to the question. A few months ago, it, too, was tended at sunrise by just such a tearful woman; but now the wreaths of evergreen are yellow, and the weeds are springing up among the withered garlands. The living partner has visited already the "mitigated grief" department of the mourning store, and the severed cords of her affections have been spliced and made almost as good as new. Not that I would not have it so; not that I believe the grief of woman to be less real and sincere than man's, though it be enjoyed; not that I would have her thrum a long mournful threnody on the harpstrings of her heart, and waste on the dead, who need them not, affections which, Heaven knows, the living need too much.

Retracing my steps, and descending the opposite slope of the hill, I entered a beautiful vale covered with stately tombs and containing a little lake, in the middle of which a fountain was springing high into the air. In a spot so much frequented at a later hour of the day only a single human being was in sight,—a young man, perhaps five-and-twenty years of age, jauntily dressed, and his upper lip adorned with a long moustache, who was leaning lazily upon a marble balustrade, and staring, with a stupid, vacant look, at the massive monument it surrounded. As nothing appeared at the moment more attractive to my eyes, I fixed them upon him. No great skill in deciphering human character is required to tell his past or foretell his future history, or even to read the few poor spent thoughts that flicker in his brain. His father—some city merchant—died last year, and left him a man of leisure, with a fortune on his hands to spend in idleness and dissipation. This is the first anniversary of the old gentleman's decease and departure to another and better world, and the hopeful heir of his bank-stock and buildings has, as a matter of etiquette, come out here from the city this morning to pass an hour of solemn meditation—as he calls the sixty minutes in which he does not smoke or swear—by the old man's grave. I observe him every moment forming a firm resolution to fix his feeble thoughts upon sober things and his latter end, and breaking it the second afterwards: the effort is too much for the exhausted condition of his mind, and results in a total failure. He is evidently well pleased that any attention is directed towards him, and fancies that I regard him as a very dutiful son, and his appearance here, so early in the morning and long before breakfast, a remarkable example of posthumous filial affection. To intensify, if possible, this sentiment in my breast, he has just now pulled out a white cambric handkerchief and pretends to be wiping tears from his eyes. Poor fellow! you have no natural talent for the solemn parts in acting, or you would know that the expression which your face now wears is not that of sorrow, solemnity, meekness, gentleness, humility, or any other sober Christian grace or virtue. But I leave you, for I see something more attractive now. Stand thy hour out, young man! we shall meet again.

"In the other world?"

No: to-morrow evening, as I am taking my accustomed walk into the country, I shall be wellnigh run over by a swiftly driven team; I shall spring suddenly aside, when thou wilt pass, O bogus son of Jehu, with thy dog-cart and two-forty span of bays, dashing down the road, thy thoughts fixed on horse-flesh instead of eternity, and thy soul bounded, north by thy cigar, east and west by the wheels thy vehicle, and south by the dumb beasts that drag thee along.

But, not to introduce the reader to more solemn scenes of affliction and sorrow which are witnessed here during the first vigil of the day, we pass to a later hour. The mourners who come hither in the early morning to decorate the graves of the recent dead, and to weep over them undisturbed by visitors, have now departed. The sun is already high, the dew has disappeared from the trees and the shrubs, and the paths and walks and avenues begin to be thronged with loungers and sight-seers from the city.

I had stopped at the forks of a lane and was hesitating which branch to take and what to do with myself, when a tall and beautiful Willow, standing upon a knoll a few rods distant, with thick drooping boughs sweeping the ground on every side, beckoned to me. On approaching him, he extended a branch, shook me cordially by the hand, and invited me to accept the shelter and hospitality of his roof. The proposal so generously made was at once accepted with profuse thanks, and, parting the boughs, I entered the tent and threw myself upon the soft grass.

Do you ever talk with trees? It is a custom of mine, and I usually find their conversation much more entertaining and profitable than that of most men I know. "Good morning!" I say to an acquaintance. "Fine day," he replies; "how's business?" And so on for an hour, over themes of every nature, the current of conversation rippled with trite truisms, and whirling in the surface-eddies of Tupper's "Proverbial Philosophy." But the tree takes the whole of the Tupperian philosophy for granted at the start, and the truisms which most men utter, and takes you for granted likewise,—supposing neither half of your eyeballs blind, and that you have a soul as well as a body,—and enters at once into conversation upon the high table-land of science, reason, and poetry. The entire talk of a fashionable tea-party, strained from its lees of scandal, filtered through a sober reflection of the following morning, is not equal in value to the quivering of a single leaf. A tree will discourse with you upon botany, physiology, music, painting, philosophy, and a dozen arts and sciences besides, none of which it simply chats about, but all of which it is: and if you do not understand its language and comprehend what it tells you about them, so much the worse for you; it is not the fault of the tree.

I say, I talk with trees for this reason,—because their wisdom is so much greater than that of my ordinary acquaintances,—and further, (to put the major after the minor premise,) because they are virtually living beings, endowed with instinct, feeling, reason, and display every essential attribute of sentient creatures,—in fact, because they have souls as well as men, only they are clothed in vegetable flesh.

"That is transcendental moonshine, and you don't believe a word of it!"

Well, my friend, allow me, then, to tell you, in all charity and with bowels of compassion, that you hold dangerous and fatal views respecting one of the cardinal doctrines of mythology,—yes, to be plain, you are a Joveless infidel, and in fearful danger of being locked out of Elysium; and I shall offer up a smoking sacrifice, the next time I get a sirloin, and pour out a solemn libation, in the presence of my whole family seated around the domestic altar early in the morning, for your speedy conversion.

Know, then, O obtuse, faithless, and perverse skeptic, that these things are so: that ocular and auricular evidence, indubitable and overwhelming, exists, that the arboreal and human natures are in substance one. Know that once on a time, as Daphne, the lovely daughter of Peneus, was amusing herself with a bow and arrows in a forest of Thessaly, she was surprised by a rude musician named Phoebus. Timid and bashful, as most young ladies are, she turned and fled as fast as her [Greek: skelae] could carry her. After running, closely pursued by the eager Delphian, for several miles, and becoming very much fatigued, she felt inclined to yield: but wishing to faint in a reputable manner, she lifted up her hands and asked the gods to help her. Her call was heard in a jiffy, and quicker than you could say, "Presto: change!" she was a Laurel-tree, which Phoebus married on the spot. This was the Eve of the Laurel family, so that all these trees you meet in the world at present must be rational beings, since they are the descendants of the beautiful Greek maiden Daphne. And to satisfy you that this is no foolish legend, but, on the contrary, a well-authenticated fact, clinched and riveted in the boiler-head of historical truth, permit me to assure you,—for I have seen it myself,—that in the Villa Borghese, near Rome in Italy, is an exact representation of the wonderful incident, cut in Carrara marble,—the bark of the Laurel growing over the vanishing girl, and her hands and fingers sprouting into branches and leaves,—supposed to have been copied from a photograph taken on the spot,—for there is a photograph in existence exactly like the marble statue.

We know positively—for we have an equally minute account of the transaction—that the Cypress originated in a similar way. And is it not reasonable to infer, therefore, though we may not find the facts stated in every case, that all trees were created out of men and women, their bodies being miraculously clothed in woody tissue? In the time of Virgil this was certainly the established orthodox belief; for he relates an anecdote, expressing no doubt whatever of its truth, of a party of travellers who commenced one day in a forest the indiscriminate destruction of some young trees, when their roots forthwith began to bleed, and voices proceeded from them, begging to be spared from laceration. And, in fact, hundreds of instances, similarly weighty as evidence, from equally veracious and trustworthy classic authors, might be cited to the point, did time and space permit. But we hasten to the other proof of their essential humanity, which I set out with assuming as an undoubted fact, and which is already foreshadowed in the adventure of the Trojan wanderers just related,—namely, that they possess the faculty of speech.

Tasso, the author of a well-known metrical history, states distinctly, as you shall see in half a moment, that a tree upon one occasion discoursed with Major General Tancred,—

  "Pur tragge alfin la spada e con gran forza
  Percuote l' alta pianta. Oh, maraviglia!
  ——quasi di tomba, uscir ne sente
  Un indistinto gemito dolente,
  Che poi distinto in voci."

And then it goes on to tell the General how it once rejoiced in extensive hoops, wore a coal-scuttle on its head, and rubbed its face with prepared chalk,—(w-w-w-hy! what was I saying? such a mistake! I should say)—was a woman by the name of Clorinda, and is still animated and sentient both in trunk and limbs, and that he will presently be guilty of murder, if he continues to hack her with his sword.

The celebrated explorer, Sir John Mandeville, relates in the history of his discoveries that he heard whole groves of trees talking to one another. And when we come down to the present day, R.W. Emerson, of Concord, asseverates that trees have conversed with him,—that they speak Italian, English, German, Basque, Castilian, and several other languages perfectly,—

  "Mountain speech to Highlanders,
  Ocean tongues to islanders,"—

and that he himself was on one occasion transformed into a Pine (Pinus rigida) and talked quite a large volume of philosophy while in that condition. Walter Whitman, Esq., author of "Leaves of Grass," relates similar personal experience. Tennyson, (Alfred,) now the Laureate of England, and upon whom the University of Oxford, a few years ago, conferred the title of Doctor of Laws, gives us a long conversation he once held with an Oak, reporting the exact words it said to him: they are excellent English, and corroborate what I said above respecting the wisdom of trees.

If all this evidence, and I might add much more equally conclusive, did I think it necessary, does not, O skeptic, convince you of the humanity of trees, why, let me say that you hold for true a hundred things not based upon half so good testimony as this,—that I have seen juries persuaded of facts, and bring in verdicts in accordance with them, not nearly so well authenticated as these,—and that I have heard clergymen preach sermons two hours long, constructed out of arguments which they positively persisted you should regard as decisive, that were, to say the least, no better than those here advanced. And now, if these things be so, in the words of the great Grecian, John P., what are you going to do about it?

Trees, like animals, are righteously sacrificed only when required to supply our wants. A man does not go out into the fields and mutilate or destroy his horses and oxen: let him treat the oaks and the elms with the same humanity. I would that enough of the old mythology to which I have alluded, and which our fathers called religion, still lived among us to awaken a virtuous indignation in our breasts when we witnessed the wanton destruction of trees. I once remonstrated with a cruel wretch whom I saw engaged in taking the life of some beautiful elms inhabiting a piece of pasture-land. He replied, that in the hot days of summer the cattle did nothing but lie under them and chew their cud, when they should be at work feeding on the grass,—that his oxen did not get fat fast enough, nor his cows give as much milk as they should give,—"and so," said he, "I'm goin' to fix 'em,"—and down came every one of the hospitable old trees. We are not half so humane in our conduct towards the inferior races and tribes as the old Romans whom we calumniate with the epithet of Pagans. The Roman Senate degraded one of its members for putting to death a bird that had taken refuge in his bosom: would not the Senate of the United States "look pretty," undertaking such a thing? A complete Christian believes not only in the dogmas of the Bible, but also in the mythology, or religion of Nature, which teaches us, no less than it taught our fathers, to regard wanton cruelty towards any vegetable or animal creature which lives in the breath and smile of the Creator, as a sin against Heaven.

Having in the above paragraph got into the parson's private preserve, as I shall be liable anyhow to an action for trespass, I am tempted to commit the additional transgression of poaching, and to give you a few extracts from a sermon a friend of mine once delivered. [It was addressed to a small congregation of Monothelites in a village "out West," just after the annual spring freshet, when half the inhabitants of the place were down with the chills and fever. It was his maiden effort,—he having just left the Seminary,—and did not "take" at all, as he learned the next day, when Deacon Jenners (the pious philanthropist of the place) called to tell him that his style of preaching "would never do," that his thoughts were altogether of too worldly a nature, and his language, decidedly unfit for the sacred "desk." Besides,—though he would not assume the responsibility of deciding that point before he had consulted with the Standing Committee,—he did not think his sentiments exactly orthodox. My friend was disgusted on the spot, and, being seized with a chill shortly afterwards, concluded not to accept the "call," and, packing his trunk, started in quest of a healthier locality and a more enlightened congregation.]

"And here permit me to add a word or two for the purpose of correcting a very prevalent error.

"Most men, I find, suppose that this earth belongs to them,—to the human race alone. It does not,—no more than the United States belong to Rhode Island. Human life is not a ten-thousand-millionth of the life on the planet, nor the race of men more than an infinitesimal fraction of the creatures which it nourishes. A swarm of summer flies on a field of clover, or the grasshoppers in a patch of stubble, outnumber the men that have lived since Adam. And yet we assume the dignity of lords and masters of the globe! Is not this a flagrant delusion of self-conceit? Let a pack of hungry wolves surround you here in the forest, and who is master? Let a cloud of locusts descend upon a hundred square miles of this territory, and what means do you possess to arrest their ravages?…

"As a matter of fact, then, we do not own the world. And now let me say, that, as a matter of right, we ought not: man was the last created of creatures. When our race appeared on the earth, it had been for millions of years in quiet, exclusive, undisputed possession of the birds, beasts, fishes, and insects: it was their world then, and we were intruders and trespassers upon their domain….

"If, then, the other races have a right to exist on the planet as much as we, what follows? Surely, that they have a right to their share and proportion of the ground and its fruits, and the blessings of Heaven by which life here is sustained: man has no right to expect a monopoly of them. If we get a week of sunshine which supplies our wants, we have no reason to complain of the succeeding week of rain which supplies the wants of other races. If we raise a crop of wheat, and the insect foragers take tithes of it, we have no right to find fault: a share of it belongs to them. If you plant a field with corn, and the weeds spring up also along with it, why do you complain? Have not the weeds as much right there as the corn? If you encamp in one of the numberless swamps which surround this settlement, and get assailed by countless millions of robust mosquitoes, why do you rave and swear (as I know most of you would do under such circumstances) and want to know 'what in the —— mosquitoes were made for'? Why, to puncture the skin of blockheads and blasphemers like you, and suck the last drop of blood from their veins. Why, let me ask you, did you go out there? That place belonged to the mosquitoes, not to you; and you knew you were trespassing upon their land. The mosquitoes exist for themselves, and were created for the enjoyment of their own mosquito-life. Why was man created? The Bible does not answer the question directly; the divines in the Catechism say, 'To glorify God.' Now I should like to know if a Westminster Catechism of the mosquitoes would'nt make as good an answer for them?

"And here I am just in the act of annihilating with a logical stroke a multitude of grumblers and croakers. If this world does not belong exclusively to man, and the other races have as much right here as he, and, consequently, a claim to their proportion of land, water, and sky, and their share of food for the sustenance of life, what follows?

"A great many men, taking northeast storms, bleak winds, thunder-showers, flies, mosquitoes, Canada thistles, hot sunshine, cold snows, weeds, briers, thorns, wild beasts, snakes, alligators, and such like things, which they don't happen to like, and putting them all together, attempt to persuade you that this green earth is a complete failure, a wreck and blasted ruin. Don't you believe that, for it's wicked infidelity. I tell you the world is not all so bad as Indiana, and especially that part of the State which you, unfortunately, inhabit. I have seen, my friends, a large portion of the planet, and if there is another spot anywhere quite so infernal as Wabashville, why, I solemnly assure you I never found it.—And now for the point which shall prick your conscience and penetrate your understanding! Do the bears and wolves, the coons and foxes, the owls and wild-geese, find this region unhealthy, and get the chills and fever, and go around grumbling and cursing? Don't they find this climate especially salubrious and suited exactly to their constitutions? Well, then, that's because they belong here, and you don't. This region was never intended for the habitation of man: it belongs exclusively to the wild beasts and the fowls of the air, and you have no business here. [Manifest signs of disapprobation on part of Deacon Taylor, an extensive owner of town-lots.] And if you persist in remaining here, what moral right have you to complain of God?…

"Remember, then, in conclusion, that, for millions of years before our race existed, mosquitoes, weeds, briers, thorns, thistles, snow-storms, and northeast winds prevailed upon this planet, and that during all this time it was pronounced by the Deity himself to be 'very good.' If, then, the earth appears to be evil, is it not because 'thine eye is evil'? We share this world, my friends, with other races, whose wants are different from ours; and we are all of equal importance in the eyes of our Maker, who distributes to each its share of blessings—man and monster both alike—with impartial favor. Is not thus the fallacy of the corruption of Nature exposed, and the lie against our Creator's wisdom, love, and goodness dragged into noonday light?"

* * * * *

But it is time to recommence our rambles through the City of the Dead.

Right here I come across on a tombstone,—"All our children. Emma, aged 1 mo. 23 days. John, 3 years 5 days. Anna, aged 1 year 1 mo." As a physiologist, I might make some very instructive comments upon this; but I forbear.

And here, upon another, a few rods farther on, is an epitaph in verse:—


  "Calm be her slumbers near kindred are sighing,
  A husband deplores in deep anguish of heart,
  Beneath the cold earth unconsciously lying,
  No murmur can reach her, no tempest can start."


  "Calm be her sleep as the silence of even
  When hearts unto deep invocation give birth.
  With a prayer she has knelt at the portal of heaven
  And found the admission she hoped for on earth_."

Not to speak of the "poetry" just here, how charmingly consistent with each other are the ideas contained in the passages I have italicized! In the first verse, you observe, the inmate is sleeping unconscious beneath the ground: in the second verse, she has ascended to heaven and found admittance to mansions in the skies!—A similar confusion and contradiction of ideas occur in most of the epitaphs I see. Does our theology furnish us with no clear conception of the state of the soul after death? The Catholic Church teaches that the spirit at death descends into the interior of the earth to a place called Hades, where it is detained until the day of judgment, when it is reunited with the dust of the body, and ascends to a heaven in the sky. This doctrine has the merit of being positive, clear, and comprehensible, and, consequently, whenever expressed, it always means something exact and well-defined. Has the Protestant Church equally definite notions on the subject, or, in fact, any fixed opinions respecting it whatever? If not, why, as a matter of good taste, for no weightier reason, in records almost imperishable like these, leave the matter alone! Silence is better than nonsense. Suppose a few thousand years hence our civilization to have become extinct, and that some antiquary from the antipodes should visit this desolate hill to excavate, like Layard at Nineveh, for relics of the old Americans. Suppose, having collected a ship-load of broken tombstones, he should forward them to the Polynesian Museum, and set the savans of the age at work deciphering their inscriptions, what sense would be made out of these epitaphs? How would they interpret our notions of a future state? Taking our own monuments, cut with our own hands, inscribed with our own signs-manual, what would they infer our system of religion to have been? If the Egyptians were as vague and careless as we in this matter, our archaeologists must have made some amusing blunders.

Here are two epitaphs which suggest something else:—

No. I.

  "I loved him in his beauty,
  A mother boy while here,
  I knew he was an angel bright
  Formed for another sphere."

No. II.

  "Farewell my wife and children dear
  God calls you home to rest.
  Still Angels wisper in my ear
  We'll meet in heavenly bliss."

I want to make two annotations upon these. In No. 1 you will notice that a possessive 's is wanting, and in No. 2 that the h is omitted from whisper. A marble-cutter told me once, that a Pennsylvania Dutchman came to him one day to have an inscription cut upon a gravestone for his daughter, whose name was Fanny. The father, upon learning that the price of the inscription would be ten cents a letter, insisted that Fanny should be spelt with one n, as he should thereby save a dime! The marble-cutter, unable to overcome the obstinacy of the frugal Teuton, and unwilling to set up such a monument of his ignorance of spelling, compromised the matter by conforming to the current orthography, and inserted the superfluous consonant for nothing. And my second annotation shall consist of an inquiry: What is there in corrupt and diseased human nature which makes persons prefer such execrable rhyme as that quoted above, and that which I find upon two-thirds of the tombstones here, to decent English prose, which one would suppose might have been produced at a much less expenditure of intellectual effort? But since it is an unquestionable fact that we are thus totally depraved in taste and feeling, why don't some of our bards, to whom the Muse has not been propitious in other departments of metrical composition, and who, to be blunt, are good for nothing else, such as ——, or ——, and many others you know, come out here among the marble-cutters and open an epitaph-shop? Mournful stanzas might then be procured of every size and pattern, composed with decent reverence for the rules of grammar, respect for the feet and limbs of the linear members, and possibly some regard for consistency in the ideas they might chance occasionally to express. Genin the hatter, and Cockroach Lyon, each keeps a poet. Why cannot the marble-cutters procure some of the Heliconian fraternity as partners? Bards would thus serve the cause of education, benefit future antiquaries, and earn more hard dimes ten times over than they do in writing lines for the blank corners of newspapers and the waste spaces between articles in magazines. I throw this hint out of the window of the "Atlantic," in the fervent hope that it will be seen, picked up, and pocketed by some reformer who is now out of business; and I would earnestly urge such individual to agitate the question with all his might, and wake up the community to the vital importance, by making use of "poetic fire" and "inspired frenzy" now going to waste, or some other instrumentality, of a reformation in epitaphic necrology.

Seriously, modern epitaphs are a burlesque upon religion, a caricature of all things holy, divine, and beautiful, and an outrage upon the common sense and culture of the community. A collection of comic churchyard poetry might be made in this place which would eclipse the productions of Mr. K.N. Pepper, and cause a greater "army of readers to explode" than his "Noad to a Whealbarrer" or the "Grek Slaiv" has done.

* * * * *

During our rambles among the tombstones the sun has long since passed the meridian, and the streets and avenues of the cemetery are crowded with carriages and thronged with pedestrians, the tramping of horses' feet, the rumbling of wheels, and the voices of men fill the air, and the place which was so silent and deserted this morning is now as noisy and bustling as the metropolis yonder. And soon begin to arrive thick and fast the funeral trains. Many of the black-plumed hearses are followed by only a single hired coach or omnibus, others by long trails of splendid equipages. Upon the broad slope of a hill, whither the greater number of the processions move, entirely destitute of trees and flooded with sunshine, many thousand graves, mostly unmarked by headstones, lie close together, resembling in appearance a corn-field which has been permitted to run to grass unploughed. Standing upon an elevated point near the summit, and looking down those acres of hillocks to where the busy laborers are engaged in putting bodies into the ground, covering them with earth, and rounding the soil over them, one is perhaps struck for the first time with the full force, meaning, and beauty of the language of Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians:—"That which thou sowest is not that body which shall be, but bare grain. It [the human body] is sown in corruption, is sown in dishonor, is sown in weakness. It is sown a natural body; it is raised [or springs up, to complete the figure] a spiritual body. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven."—I once heard a distinguished botanist dispute the accuracy of this simile, inasmuch, he said, as the seed, when it is sown in the ground, does not die, but in fact then first begins to live and to display the vital force which was previously asleep in it; while the human body decays and is resolved into its primitive gaseous, mineral, and vegetable elements, the particles of which, disseminated everywhere, and transferred through chemical affinities into other and new organisms, lose all traces of their former connection.—In answer to such a finical criticism as this, intended to invalidate the authority of the great Apostolic Theologian, I replied, that Paul was not an inspired botanist,—in fact, that he probably knew nothing whatever about botany as a science,—but an inspired religious teacher, who employed the language of his people and the measure of knowledge to which his age had attained, to expound to his contemporaries the principles of his Master's religion. I am not familiar with the nicer points of strict theological orthodoxy, but, from modern sermons and commentaries, I should infer that few doctors of even the most straitest school of divinity hold to the doctrine of verbal inspiration. That the Prophets and Apostles were acquainted with botany, chemistry, geology, or any other modern science, is a notion as unfounded in truth as it is hostile and foreign to the object and purpose of Revelation, which is strictly confined to religion and ethics. Those persons, therefore, (and they are a numerous class,) who resort to the Bible, assuming that it professes to be an inspired manual of universal knowledge, and then, because they find in its figurative Oriental phraseology, or in its metaphors and illustrations, some inaccuracies of expression or misstatements of scientific facts, would throw discredit upon the essential religious dogmas and doctrines which it is its object to state and unfold, are, to say the least, extremely disingenuous, if not deficient in understanding.

But a much more prolific source of injury to the character of the Bible than that just mentioned is the injudicious and impertinent labors of many who volunteer in its defence. "Oh, save me from my friends!" might the Prophets and Apostles, each and all, too often exclaim of their supporters.—It is said that all men are insane upon some point: so are classes and communities. The popular monomania which at present prevails among a class of persons whose zeal surpasses their prudence and knowledge is a foolish fear and trembling lest the tendencies of science should result in the overthrow of the Bible. They seem, somehow, to be fully persuaded that the inspired word of God has no inherent power to stand alone,—that it has fallen among thieves and robbers,—is being pelted with fossil coprolites, suffocated with fire-mist and primitive gases, or beaten over the head with the shank-bones of Silurian monsters, and is bawling aloud for assistance. Therefore, not stopping to dress, they dash out into the public notice without hat or coat, in such unclothed intellectual condition as they happen to be in,—in their shirt, or stark naked often,—and rush frantically to its aid.

The most melancholy case of this intellectual delirium tremens that probably ever came under the notice of any reader is found in a professed apology for the Scriptures, recently published, under the pompous and bombastic title of "COSMOGONY, OR THE MYSTERIES OF CREATION."—A volume of such puerile trash, such rubbish, twaddle, balderdash, and crazy drivelling[A] as this, was never before vomited from the press of any land, and beside it the "REVELATIONS" of Andrew Jackson Davis, the "Poughkeepsie Seer," rises to the lofty grandeur of the "Novum Organon,"—a sight that makes one who really respects the Bible hang his head for shame.

[Footnote A: As the reader may never have seen this unique volume, and will be amused by a specimen of its grammar, rhetoric, wisdom, and learning, let him take a morceau or two from the commencement of a chapter entitled, "Naturalists.—Their Classification of Man and Beasts."—"We look upon the animal in no different light from that of a vegetable, a plant, or a rock-crystal, which forms under the Creative hand, performs its part for the use of man, dissolves and reproduces by its parts another comfort for him. The animal bears no resemblance to man, not even in his brain."—"One tree may bear apples, and another acorns, but they are not to be compared, the one as bearing a relation to the other, because they have each a body and limbs. They are distinct trees, and one will always produce apples and the other acorns, as long as they produce anything." (Indeed!)—"The usual classification of animals, is that of Vertebrata, Articulata, Mollusca, and Radiata. This is not only offensive to man,—but is impiety towards God." (Why?)—"We are told by these naturalists that man belongs to the class called 'Vertebrata.' So does the snake, the monkey, the lizard and crocodile, and many other low and mean animals.—Have these creatures the reasoning faculties of man? Do they walk erect like man? Have they feet, hands, legs, arms, hair upon their heads, or beards upon their faces? Do they speak languages and congregate and worship at the altar?" (!!)—"Those who are ambitious of such relations, may plant their heraldic coat-of-arms in the serpent, the lizard, the crocodile, or the monkey, but we disclaim such relationship—we do not think it good taste or good morals to place the fair daughters of Eve on a level with horrid and hideous animals, simply from some apparent similarity, which we are certain never existed."]

The belligerent pundit who has flung in the face of peaceful geologists this octavo camouflet of his scientific lucubrations professes to have scoured the surface and ravaged the bottom (in a suit of patent sub-marine Scriptural armor) of a no less abysmal subject than the cryptology of Genesis,—to have undermined with his sapping intellect and blown up with his explosive wisdom the walled secrets of time and eternity, carrying away with him in the shape of plunder a whole cargo of the plans and purposes of the Omnipotent in the Creation. I have not the least doubt, if he were respectfully approached and interrogated upon the subject, he would answer with the greatest ease and accuracy the famous question with which Dean Swift posed the theological tailor. The man who can tell us all about the institution of the law of gravity, how the inspired prophet thought and felt while writing his history, and who knows everything respecting "affinity and attraction when they were in Creation's womb," could not hesitate a moment to measure an arch-angel for a pair of breeches.—But I was talking of funerals.

* * * * *

A friend once assured me that the heartiest laugh of which he was ever guilty on a solemn occasion occurred at a funeral. A trusty Irish servant, who had lived with him for many years, and for whom he had great affection, died suddenly at his house. As he was attending the funeral in the Catholic burial-place, and stood with his wife and children listening to the service which the priest was reading, his heart filled with grief and his eyes moist with tears, the inscription on a gravestone just before him happened to attract his attention. It was this_:—"Gloria in Excelsis Deo! Patrick Donahoe died July 12. 18—." Now the exclamation-point after "Deo"_ and the statement of the fact of Mr. D.'s demise following immediately thereafter made the epitaph to read, "Glory to God in the highest! Patrick is dead." This, which at another time would perhaps have caused no more than a smile, struck him as irresistibly funny, and drove in a moment every trace of sadness from his face and sorrow from his heart,—to give place to violent emotions of another nature, which his utmost exertions could not conceal.

["I beg your pardon! I've been afloat," was the graceful parenthetical apology which a distinguished naval officer used to make, when by mistake he let drop one of "those big words which lie at the bottom of the best man's vocabulary," in conversation with sensitive persons whose ears he feared it might offend. I ought possibly, at the end of the following anecdote, to make some such excuse to the scrupulous reader, whose notions of propriety it will perhaps slightly infringe: "I beg your pardon! I couldn't help telling it."]

An eminent divine once described to me a scene he witnessed at a funeral, which he said nearly caused him to expire with—well, you shall see. An intimate acquaintance of his, who belonged to a neighboring parish, having died, he was naturally induced to assist at the burial-service. The rector of this parish was a man who, though sensitive in the extreme to the absurdities of others,—being, in fact, a regular son of Momus,—was entirely unconscious of his own amusing eccentricities. Among these, numerous and singular, he had the habit of suddenly stopping in the middle of a sentence, while preaching, and calling out to the sexton, across the church, "Dooke, turn on more gas!" or "Dooke, shut that window!" or "Dooke, do"—something else which was pretty sure to be wanting itself done during the delivery of his discourse. Nearly every Sunday, strangers not acquainted with his ways were startled out of their propriety by some such unexpected behavior.

On the occasion referred to, the funeral procession having entered the churchyard, and my informant and the officiating clergyman having taken their places at the head of the grave, the undertaker and his assistants having removed the coffin from the hearse, and the mourners, of whom there was a large crowd, having gathered into a circular audience, the Reverend Doctor —— began the service.

"'Man that is born of a woman'—Oh, stop those carriages! don't you see where they are going to?" (he suddenly broke out, rushing from the place where he stood, frantically, among the bystanders; and then returning to his former position, continued,)—"'hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up'—Oh, don't let that coffin down yet! wait till I tell you to," (addressed to the undertaker, who was anticipating the proper place in the service,)—"'and is cut down like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow,'—Please to hold the umbrella a little further over my head," (sotto voce to the man who was endeavoring to protect his head from the sun,)-"'and never continueth in one stay.'—Hold the umbrella a little higher, will you?" (sotto voce again to the man holding the umbrella.)—"'In the midst of life we are in death.'—Stand down from there, boys, and be quiet!" (addressed to some urchins who were crowding and pushing one another about the grave, in their efforts to look at the coffin.) At length he had proceeded without further interruptions as far as the sentence, "'We therefore commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,'"—when Dooke, the sexton,—a queer, impetuous fellow,—who was vainly endeavoring to keep the boys away from the edge of the grave, seized suddenly the rope with which the coffin had just been lowered down, and, stooping forward, laid it like a whip-lash, "cut!" across the shins of a dozen youngsters, making them leap with "Oh! oh! oh!" a foot from the ground, and scatter in short order,—"'looking for the'"—(turning to my friend, as he witnessed the successful exploit of his favorite sexton, and whispering in his ear,) "Dooke made 'em hop that time, didn't he!—'general resurrection in the last day, and the life of the world to come.'"

Dooke's mode of dispersing the boys, and the officiating clergyman's comment upon it, parenthesized into the middle of the most solemn sentence of the burial-service, were too much for the usual stern gravity of my clerical friend, and, under pretence of shedding tears, he buried his face in his handkerchief and his handkerchief in his hat and shook with laughter.

Speaking of funerals reminds me of a congenial subject.—Nothing in New York astonishes visitors from the country so much as the magnificent coffin-shops, rivalling, in the ostentatious and tempting display of their wares, the most elegant stores on Broadway. Model coffins, of the latest style and pattern, are set up on end in long rows and protected by splendid show-cases, with the lids removed to exhibit their rich satin lining. Fancy coffins, decorated with glittering ornaments, are placed seductively in bright plate-glass windows, and put out for baiting advertisements upon the side-walks: as much as to say, "Walk in, walk in, ladies and gentlemen! Now's your chance! here's your fine, nice coffins!"—while in ornamental letters upon extensive placards hung about the doors, "IRON COFFINS," "ROSEWOOD COFFINS," "AIR-TIGHT COFFINS," "MAHOGANY COFFINS," "PATENT SARCOPHAGI," address the eyes and appeal to the purses of the passers-by. And I saw in one of these places, the other day, painted on glass and inclosed in an elegant gilt frame, "ICE COFFINS," which struck me as queer enough. As though it were not sufficiently cool to be dead!

It seems to me, that, in this matter, the undertakers, digging a little too deep below the surface of the present age, have thrown out some of the mystical and grotesque remains of a very antique religious faith, which look as singular just now to the eyes of common people as would an Egyptian temple with its sacred Apis in Broadway, or a Sphinx on Boston Common. To the eyes of an old Egyptian, no object could be more grateful than the sarcophagus in which he was to repose at death. He purchased it as early in life as he could raise the means, and displayed it in his parlor as an attractive and costly ornament. Indeed, I do not know but it was useful as well, and the children kept their playthings in it, or the young ladies their knitting-work and embroidery.

Are we not, in this class of our tastes and feelings, becoming rapidly Egyptianized? Why, I expect in a year or two to see coffins introduced into the parlors of the Fifth Avenue, and to find them, when their owners fail or absquatulate, advertised for sale at auction, with the rest of the household furniture, at a great sacrifice on the original cost.


And then the fashion will become popular with the less aristocratic portion of the community, and you will see crowds of servant-girls and street-loungers around the windows of our magnificent coffin-bazaars, and hear from them such exclamations as these: "Oh! do look here, Matilda! Wouldn't you like to have such a nice coffin as that?" or, "What a dear, sweet sarcophagus that one is there!" or, "Faith, I should like to own that air-tight!"

* * * * *

But the day is now far advanced. The funeral processions have ceased to arrive, and the husbandmen, having sown the immortal seed furnished by the metropolis, with shovels and empty dinner-pails, are on their way, whistling and talking in groups, homeward. The number of loungers and sight-seers is rapidly diminishing as the light in the more thickly shaded walks becomes dim, and the clock at the gateway indicates the near approach of the hour when the portals will be closed.

—Alone with the dead! Alone in the night among tombs and graves! How many readers do not at the sight of these words feel an involuntary soupçon of a shudder? Would not the cause of this indefinable secret dread of the darkness which covers a graveyard be a curious matter of inquiry? Let one ever so cultivated and skeptical, familiar as a physician or a soldier with the spectacle of death, ever so full of mental and physical courage, passing alone late at night through a graveyard, hear the least sound among the graves, or see a moving object of any kind, especially a white one, and he will instantly feel an alloverishness foreign to ordinary experience, and I will not answer for him that his hair does not stand on end and his flesh grow rough as a nutmeg-grater. A company of three or four persons would feel far less disturbed. This proves the emotion to be genuine fear. And with this recognized as a fact, ask the question, Of what are you afraid? What makes your feet stick to the ground so fast, or inspires you to take to your legs and run for your life? "A ridiculous, foolish superstition," reason answers.

I do not intend by this to intimate that you, reader, bold and courageous person that I know you to be, would not dare to go through a graveyard at night. By no means. I only predicate the existence within you of this ridiculous, foolish superstition, and maintain that you would do so under all circumstances with peculiar feelings which you did not possess before you entered it and which you will not possess as soon as you have left it, and under certain circumstances with a trembling of the nerves and a palpitation of the heart, and that the occasion might occur when you would be still more strongly and strangely affected. To illustrate the latter case I have an anecdote à-propos.

A college class-mate, (Poor B——! the shadows of the Pyramids now fall upon his early grave!) a young man easily agitated, to be sure, and possibly timid, on his way home, late one autumn night, from the house of a relative in the country, was hurrying past a dismal old burying-yard in the midst of a gloomy wood, when he was suddenly startled by a strange noise a short distance from the road. Turning his head, alarmed, in the direction whence it proceeded, he was horror-struck at seeing through the darkness a white object on the ground, struggling as if in the grasp of some terrible monster. Instantly the blood froze in his veins; he stood petrified,—the howlings of the wind, clanking of chains, and groans of agony, filling his ears,—with his eyes fixed in terror upon the white shape rolling and plunging and writhing among the tombs. Attempting to run, his feet refused to move, and he swooned and fell senseless in the road. A party of travellers, happening shortly to pass, stumbled over his body. Raising him upon his feet, they succeeded by vigorous shakes in restoring him to a state of consciousness.

While explaining to them the cause of his fright, the noise was renewed. The men, although somewhat alarmed, clubbed their individual courage, climbed the wall, and found—nearly in the centre of the graveyard—an old white horse thrown down by his fetters and struggling violently to regain his feet.

B—— assured me, the explanation of the spectacle instinctively occurring to his mind at the moment as indubitable was that some reprobate had just been buried there, and that the Devil, coming for his body, was engaged in binding his unwilling limbs, preparatory to carrying him away!

The reader may smile at the weakness and folly displayed in this case, but the assertion may nevertheless be safely ventured, that there is not one person in a hundred who would not under the same circumstances have been greatly disturbed, or would have invented a much less frightfully absurd solution of the phenomenon than poor B——'s.

I think the singular feelings associated with graveyard darkness, which the wisest and bravest of men find slumbering beneath all their courage and philosophy, would be found upon investigation to proceed principally from two sources,—a constitutional inclination to religious superstition, and an acquired educational belief in the reality of the dreams and fancies of poets, mingled, of course, with some natural cowardice.

The dryest and hardest men have more poetry in them than they or we begin to suspect. Indeed, if we could take our individual or collective culture to pieces and award to each separate influence its due and just share of results, I should not be surprised at finding that the poet had done more in the way of fashioning our education than the scientist or any other teacher. Milton, to give but a single example, with his speculations concerning the Fall,—its effects upon humanity, the brute creation, and physical nature,—and his imaginary conflicts between the hostile armies of heaven, and his celestial and Satanic personifications, has had so much influence in Anglo-Saxon culture, that nine-tenths of the people believe, without knowing it, as firmly in "Paradise Lost" as in the text of the Bible. The Governor of Texas, citing in his proclamation a familiar passage in Shakspeare as emanating from the inspired pen of the Psalmist, is not to so great extent an example of ignorance as an illustration of the lofty peerage instinctively assigned the great dramatist in the ordinary associations of our thoughts. This faith in the visionary world of poets is instilled into us (and it is for this reason that Rousseau, in his masterly work on education, the "Émile," reprobates the custom as promotive of superstition) in early infancy by our parents and nurses with their stories of nymphs, fairies, elves, dwarfs, giants, witches, hobgoblins, and the like fabulous beings, and, as soon as we are able to read, by the tales of genii, sorcerers, demons, ghouls, enchanted caves and castles, and monsters and monstrosities of every name. The exceedingly impressible and poetical nature of children (for all children are poets and talk poetry as soon as they can lisp) appropriates and absorbs with intense relish these fanciful myths, and for years they believe more firmly in their truth than in the realities of the actual world. And I more than suspect that this child-credulity rather slumbers in the grown man, smothered beneath superimposed skepticisms and cognitions, than is ever eradicated from his mind, and thus, upon the shock of an emergency disturbing him suddenly to the foundation, is ready to burst up through the crevices of his shattered practical experience and appear on the surface of his judgment and understanding.

In addition, then, to an instinctive tendency to religious superstition, (of which I shall here say nothing,) to the fairy mythology of the nursery, and the phantom machinery invented by poets to clothe with the semblance of reality their dreams and fancies, can be traced in a great measure the existence in the mind of the credulity which renders the fear in question possible, opening an introduction for it into the heart excited by inexplicable phenomena or circumstanced where such phenomena might, according to our superstitious beliefs, easily occur.

Without entering into an analysis of the fear itself, beyond the remark that any extraordinary sight or sound not immediately explicable by the eye or ear to the understanding (as a steamboat to the Indians or a comet to our ancestors) is a legitimate cause of the emotion, as well as the possibility of the occurrence of such sights and sounds, for believing which we have seen man prepared, first by natural superstitious inclination, and secondly by a peculiar education,—I will only further add, for the purpose of a brief introduction to an anecdote I wish to relate, that there is another fountain of knowledge, from which we drink at a later period than childhood, as well as then, whose waters are strongly impregnated with this superstitious, fear-provoking credulity: I mean the stories of ghosts which have been seen and heard in all ages and countries, revealing important secrets, pointing out the places where murder has been committed or treasure concealed, foretelling deaths and calamities, and forewarning men of impending dangers. Hundreds of books familiar to all have been written upon this subject and form an extensive department of our literature, especially of our older literature.

The philosopher attempts to account for such phenomena by referring them to optical illusions or a disordered condition of the brain, making them subjective semblances instead of objective realities. But one is continually being puzzled and perplexed with evidence contradicting this hypothesis, which, upon any other subject a priori credible to the reason and judgment, would be received as satisfactory and decisive without a moment's hesitation. In truth, with all the light which science is able to shed upon it, and all the resolute shutting of the eyes at points which no elucidating theory is available to explain, there are facts in this department of supernaturalism which stagger the unbelief of the stoutest skeptic.

It is constantly urged, among other objections to the credibility of supernatural apparitions, that the names of the witnesses have singularly and suspiciously disappeared,—that you find them, upon investigation, substantiated thus: A very worthy gentleman told another very worthy gentleman, who told a very intelligent lady, who told somebody else, who told the individual who finally communicated the incident to the world. There are, however, as just intimated, instances in which such ambiguity is altogether wanting. Among these is one so well authenticated by well-known witnesses of undoubted veracity, that, having never before been published, I venture to relate it here.

My informant was Professor Tholuck, of Halle University, the most eminent living theologian in Germany, and the principal ecclesiarch of the Prussian Church. He prefaced the account by assuring me that it was received from the lips of De Wette himself, immediately after the occurrence,—that De Wette was an intimate personal friend, a plain, practical man, of remarkably clear and vigorous intellect, with no more poetry and imagination in his nature than just sufficient to keep him alive,—in a word, that he would rely upon his coolness of judgment and accuracy of observation, under any possible combination of circumstances, as confidently as upon those of any man in the world.

Dr. De Wette, the famous German Biblical critic, returning home one evening between nine and ten o'clock, was surprised, upon arriving opposite the house in which he resided, to see a bright light burning in his study. In fact, he was rather more than surprised; for he distinctly remembered to have extinguished the candles when he went out, an hour or two previously, locked the door, and put the key in his pocket, which, upon feeling for it, was still there. Pausing a moment to wonder by what means and for what purpose any one could have entered the room, he perceived the shadow of a person apparently occupied about something in a remote corner. Supposing it to be a burglar employed in rifling his trunk, he was upon the point of alarming the police, when the man advanced to the window, into full view, as if for the purpose of looking out into the street. It was De Wette himself!—the scholar, author, professor,—his height, size, figure, stoop,—his head, his face, his features, eyes, mouth, nose, chin, every one,—skullcap, study-gown, neck-tie, all, everything: there was no mistaking him, no deception whatever: there stood Dr. De Wette in his own library, and he out in the street:—why, he must be somebody else! The Doctor instinctively grasped his body with his hands, and tried himself with the psychological tests of self-consciousness and identity, doubtful, if he could believe his senses and black were not white, that he longer existed his former self, and stood, perplexed, bewildered, and confounded, gazing at his other likeness looking out of the window. Upon the person's retiring from the window, which occurred in a few moments, De Wette resolved not to dispute the possession of his study with the other Doctor before morning, and ringing at the door of a house opposite, where an acquaintance resided, he asked permission to remain over night.

The chamber occupied by him commanded a full view of the interior of his library, and from the window he could see his other self engaged in study and meditation, now walking up and down the room, immersed in thought, now sitting down at the desk to write, now rising to search for a volume among the book-shelves, and imitating in all respects the peculiar habits of the great Doctor engaged at work and busy with cogitations. At length, when the cathedral clock had finished striking through first four and then eleven strokes, as German clocks are wont to do an hour before twelve, De Wette Number Two manifested signs of retiring to rest,—took out his watch, the identical large gold one the other Doctor in the other chamber felt sure was at that moment safe in his waistcoat-pocket, and wound it up, removed a portion of his clothing, came to the window, closed the curtains, and in a few moments the light disappeared. De Wette Number One, waiting a little time until convinced that Number Two had disposed himself to sleep, retired also his-self to bed, wondering very much what all this could mean.

Rising the next morning, he crossed the street, and passed up-stairs to his library. The door was fastened; he applied the key, opened it, and entered. No one was there; everything appeared in precisely the same condition in which he had left it the evening before,—his pen lying upon the paper as he had dropped it on going out, the candles on the table and the mantel-piece evidently not having been lighted, the window-curtains drawn aside as he had left them; in fine, there was not a single trace of any person's having been in the room. "Had he been insane the night before? He must have been. He was growing old; something was the matter with his eyes or brain; anyhow, he had been deceived, and it was very foolish of him to have remained away all night." Endeavoring to satisfy his mind with some such reflections as these, he remembered he had not yet examined his bed-room. Almost ashamed to make the search, now convinced it was all an hallucination of the senses, he crossed the narrow passageway and opened the door. He was thunderstruck. The ceiling, a lofty, massive brick arch, had fallen during the night, filling the room with rubbish and crushing his bed into atoms. De Wette the Apparition had saved the life of the great German scholar.

Tholuck, who was walking with me in the fields near Halle when relating the anecdote, added, upon concluding, "I do not pretend to account for the phenomenon; no knowledge, scientific or metaphysical, in my possession, is adequate to explain it; but I have no more doubt it actually, positively, literally did occur, than I have of the existence of the sun im Himmel da."


The word of ambition at the present day is Culture. Whilst all the world is in pursuit of power, and of wealth as a means of power, culture corrects the theory of success. A man is the prisoner of his power. A topical memory makes him an almanac; a talent for debate, a disputant; skill to get money makes him a miser, that is, a beggar. Culture reduces these inflammations by invoking the aid of other powers against the dominant talent, and by appealing to the rank of powers. It watches success. For performance Nature has no mercy, and sacrifices the performer to get it done,—makes a dropsy or a tympany of him. If she wants a thumb, she makes one at the cost of arms and legs, and any excess of power in one part is usually paid for at once by some defect in a contiguous part.

Our efficiency depends so much on our concentration, that Nature usually, in the instances where a marked man is sent into the world, overloads him with bias, sacrificing his symmetry to his working power. It is said, no man can write but one book; and if a man have a defect, it is apt to leave its impression on all his performances. If she create a policeman like Fouché, he is made up of suspicions and of plots to circumvent them. "The air," said Fouché, "is full of poniards." The physician Sanctorius spent his life in a pair of scales, weighing his food. Lord Coke valued Chaucer highly, because the Canon Yeman's Tale illustrates the Statute Hen. V. Chap. 4, against Alchemy. I saw a man who believed the principal mischiefs in the English state were derived from the devotion to musical concerts. A freemason, not long since, set out to explain to this country, that the principal cause of the success of General Washington was the aid he derived from the freemasons.

But, worse than the harping on one string, Nature has secured individualism by giving the private person a high conceit of his weight in the system. The pest of society is egotists. There are dull and bright, sacred and profane, coarse and fine egotists. 'Tis a disease that, like influenza, falls on all constitutions. In the distemper known to physicians as chorea, the patient sometimes turns round and continues to spin slowly on one spot. Is egotism a metaphysical varioloid of this malady? The man runs round a ring formed by his own talent, falls into an admiration of it, and loses relation to the world. It is a tendency in all minds. One of its annoying forms is a craving for sympathy. The sufferers parade their miseries, tear the lint from their bruises, reveal their indictable crimes, that you may pity them. They like sickness, because physical pain will extort some show of interest from the bystanders; as we have seen children, who, finding themselves of no account when grown people come in, will cough till they choke, to draw attention.

This distemper is the scourge of talent,—of artists, inventors, and philosophers. Eminent spiritualists shall have an incapacity of putting their act or word aloof from them, and seeing it bravely for the nothing it is. Beware of the man who says, "I am on the eve of a revelation!" It is speedily punished, inasmuch as this habit invites men to humor it, and, by treating the patient tenderly, to shut him up in a narrower selfism, and exclude him from the great world of God's cheerful fallible men and women. Let us rather be insulted, whilst we are insultable. Religious literature has eminent examples; and if we run over our private list of poets, critics, philanthropists, and philosophers, we shall find them infected with this dropsy and elephantiasis, which we ought to have tapped.

This goitre of egotism is so frequent among notable persons, that we must infer some strong necessity in Nature which it subserves,—such as we see in the sexual attraction. The preservation of the species was a point of such necessity, that Nature has secured it at all hazards by immensely overloading the passion, at the risk of perpetual crime and disorder. So egotism has its root in the cardinal necessity by which each individual persists to be what he is.

This individuality is not only not inconsistent with culture, but is the basis of it. Every valuable nature is there in its own right; and the student we speak to must have a mother-wit invincible by his culture, which uses all books, arts, facilities, and elegancies of intercourse, but is never subdued and lost in them. He only is a well-made man who has a good determination. And the end of culture is, not to destroy this,—God forbid!—but to train away all impediment and mixture, and leave nothing but pure power. Our student must have a style and determination, and be a master in his own specialty. But, having this, he must put it behind him. He must have a catholicity, a power to see with a free and disengaged look every object. Yet is this private interest and self so overcharged, that, if a man seeks a companion who can look at objects for their own sake, and without affection or self-reference, he will find the fewest who will give him that satisfaction; whilst most men are afflicted with a coldness, an incuriosity, as soon as any object does not connect with their self-love. Though they talk of the object before them, they are thinking of themselves, and their vanity is laying little traps for your admiration.

But after a man has discovered that there are limits to the interest which his private history has for mankind, he still converses with his family, or a few companions,—perhaps with half a dozen personalities that are famous in his neighborhood. In Boston, the question of life is the names of some eight or ten men. Have you seen Mr. Allston, Doctor Channing, Mr. Adams, Mr. Webster, Mr. Greenough? Have you heard Everett, Garrison, Father Taylor, Theodore Parker? Have you talked with Messieurs Turbinewheel, Summitlevel, and Lacofrupees? Then you may as well die. In New York, the question is of some other eight, or ten, or twenty. Have you seen a few lawyers, merchants, and brokers,—two or three scholars, two or three capitalists, two or three editors of newspapers? New York is a sucked orange. All conversation is at an end, when we have discharged ourselves of a dozen personalities, domestic or imported, which make up our American existence. Nor do we expect anybody to be other than a faint copy of these heroes.

Life is very narrow. Bring any club or company of intelligent men together again after ten years, and if the presence of some penetrating and calming genius could dispose them to frankness, what a confusion of insanities would come up! The "causes" to which we have sacrificed, Tariff or Democracy, Whiggism or Abolition, Temperance or Socialism, would show like roots of bitterness and dragons of wrath: and our talents are as mischievous as if each had been seized upon by some bird of prey, which had whisked him away from fortune, from truth, from the dear society of the poets, some zeal, some bias, and only when he was now gray and nerveless was it relaxing its claws, and he awaking to sober perceptions.

Culture is the suggestion from certain best thoughts, that a man has a range of affinities, through which he can modulate the violence of any master-tones that have a droning preponderance in his scale, and succor him against himself. Culture redresses his balance, puts him among his equals and superiors, revives the delicious sense of sympathy, and warns him of the dangers of solitude and repulsion.

'Tis not a compliment, but a disparagement, to consult a man only on horses, or on steam, or on theatres, or on eating, or on books, and, whenever he appears, considerately to turn the conversation to the bantling he is known to fondle. In the Norse heaven of our forefathers, Thor's house had five hundred and forty floors: and Man's house has five hundred and forty floors. His excellence is facility of adaptation, and of transition through many related points to wide contrasts and extremes. Culture kills his exaggeration, his conceit of his village or his city. We must leave our pets at home when we go into the street, and meet men on broad grounds of good meaning and good sense. No performance is worth loss of geniality. 'Tis a cruel price we pay for certain fancy goods called fine arts and philosophy. In the Norse legend, Allfadir did not get a drink of Mimir's spring, (the fountain of wisdom,) until he left his eye in pledge. And here is a pedant that cannot unfold his wrinkles, nor conceal his wrath at interruption by the best, if their conversation do not fit his impertinency,—here is he to afflict us with his personalities. 'Tis incident to scholars, that each of them fancies he is pointedly odious in his community. Draw him out of this limbo of irritability. Cleanse with healthy blood his parchment skin. You restore to him his eyes which he left in pledge at Mimir's spring. If you are the victim of your doing, who cares what you do? We can spare your opera, your gazetteer, your chemic analysis, your history, your syllogisms. Your man of genius pays dear for his distinction. His head runs up into a spire, and, instead of a healthy man, merry and wise, he is some mad dominie. Nature is reckless of the individual. When she has points to carry, she carries them. To wade in marshes and sea-margins is the destiny of certain birds; and they are so accurately made for this, that they are imprisoned in those places. Each animal out of its habitat would starve. To the physician, each man, each woman, is an amplification of one organ. A soldier, a locksmith, a bank-clerk, and a dancer could not exchange functions. And thus we are victims of adaptation.

The antidotes against this organic egotism are—the range and variety of attractions, as gained by acquaintance with the world, with men of merit, with classes of society, with travel, with eminent persons, and with the high resources of philosophy, art, and religion: books, travel, society, solitude.

The hardiest skeptic, who has seen a horse broken, a pointer trained, or who has visited a menagerie, or the exhibition of the Industrious Fleas, will not deny the validity of education. "A boy," says Plato, "is the most vicious of all wild beasts"; and, in the same spirit, the old English poet Gascoigne says, "A boy is better unborn than untaught." The city breeds one kind of speech and manners; the back-country a different style; the sea another; the army a fourth. We know that an army which can be confided in may be formed by discipline,—that by systematic discipline all men may be made heroes. Marshal Lannes said to a French officer, "Know, Colonel, that none but a poltroon will boast that he never was afraid." A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before. And, in all human action, those faculties will be strong which are used. Robert Owen said, "Give me a tiger, and I will educate him." 'Tis inhuman to want faith in the power of education, since to meliorate is the law of Nature; and men are valued precisely as they exert onward or meliorating force. On the other hand, poltroonery is the acknowledging an inferiority to be incurable.

Incapacity of melioration is the only mortal distemper. There are people who can never understand a trope, or any second or expanded sense given to your words, or any humor,—but remain literalists, after hearing the music and poetry and rhetoric and wit of seventy or eighty years. They are past the help of surgeon or clergy. But even these can understand pitchforks and the cry of "Fire!"—and I have noticed in some of this class a marked dislike of earthquakes.

Let us make our education brave and preventive. Politics is an after-work, a poor patching. We are always a little late. The evil is done, the law is passed, and we begin the up-hill agitation for repeal of that of which we ought to have prevented the enacting. We shall one day learn to supersede politics by education. What we call our root-and-branch reforms of slavery, war, gambling, intemperance, is only medicating the symptoms. We must begin higher up,—namely, in Education.

Our arts and tools give to him who can handle them much the same advantage over the novice as if you extended his life ten, fifty, or a hundred years. And I think it the part of good sense to provide every fine soul with such culture, that it shall not, at thirty or forty years, have to say, "This which I might do is made hopeless through my want of weapons."

But it is conceded that much of our training fails of effect,—that all success is hazardous and rare,—that a large part of our cost and pains is thrown away. Nature takes the matter into her own hands, and, though we must not omit any jot of our system, we can seldom be sure that it has availed much, or that as much good would not have accrued from a different system.

Books, as containing the finest records of human wit, must always enter into our notion of culture. The best heads that ever existed, Pericles, Plato, Julius Caesar, Shakspeare, Goethe, Milton, were well-read, universally educated men, and quite too wise to undervalue letters. Their opinion has weight, because they had means of knowing the opposite opinion. We look that a great man should be a good reader, or in proportion to the spontaneous power should be the assimilating power. Good criticism is very rare, and always precious. I am always happy to meet persons who perceive the transcendent superiority of Shakspeare over all other writers. I like people who like Plato. Because this love does not consist with self-conceit.

But books are good only as far as a boy is ready for them. He sometimes gets ready very slowly. You send your child to the schoolmaster; but 'tis the schoolboys who educate him. You send him to the Latin class; but much of his tuition comes on his way to school, from the shop-windows. You like the strict rules and the long terms; and he finds his best leading in a by-way of his own, and refuses any companions but of his choosing. He hates the grammar and Gradus, and loves guns, fishing-rods, horses, and boats. Well, the boy is right; and you are not fit to direct his bringing-up, if your theory leaves out his gymnastic training. Archery, cricket, gun and fishing-rod, horse and boat, are all educators, liberalizers; and so are dancing, dress, and the street-talk; and—provided only the boy has resources, and is of a noble and ingenuous strain—these will not serve him less than the books. He learns chess, whist, dancing, and theatricals. The father observes that another boy has learned algebra and geometry in the same time. But the first boy has acquired much more than these poor games along with them. He is infatuated for weeks with whist and chess; but presently will find out, as you did, that, when he rises from the game too long played, he is vacant and forlorn, and despises himself. Thenceforward it takes place with other things, and has its due weight in his experience. These minor skills and accomplishments—for example, dancing—are tickets of admission to the dress-circle of mankind, and the being master of them enables the youth to judge intelligently of much on which otherwise he would give a pedantic squint. Landor said, "I have suffered more from my bad dancing than from all the misfortunes and miseries of my life put together." Provided always the boy is teachable, (for we are not proposing to make a statue out of punk,) football, cricket, archery, swimming, skating, climbing, fencing, riding, are lessons in the art of power, which it is his main business to learn,—riding specially, of which Lord Herbert of Cherbury said, "A good rider on a good horse is as much above himself and others as the world can make him." Besides, the gun, fishing-rod, boat, and horse constitute, among all who use them, secret freemasonries.

They are as if they belonged to one club.

There is also a negative value in these arts. Their chief use to the youth is, not amusement, but to be known for what they are, and not to remain to him occasions of heartburn. We are full of superstitions. Each class fixes its eyes on the advantages it has not: the refined, on rude strength; the democrat, on birth and breeding. One of the benefits of a college-education is, to show the boy its little avail. I knew a leading man in a leading city, who, having set his heart on an education at the university and missed it, could never quite feel himself the equal of his own brothers who had gone thither. His easy superiority to multitudes of professional men could never quite countervail to him this imaginary defect. Balls, riding, wine-parties, and billiards pass to a poor boy for something fine and romantic, which they are not; and a free admission to them on an equal footing, if it were possible, only once or twice, would be worth ten times its cost, by undeceiving him.

I am not much an advocate for travelling, and I observe that men run away to other countries because they are not good in their own, and run back to their own because they pass for nothing in the new places. For the most part, only the light characters travel. Who are you that have no task to keep you at home? I have been quoted as saying captious things about travel; but I mean to do justice. I think there is a restlessness in our people which argues want of character. All educated Americans, first or last, go to Europe,—perhaps because it is their mental home, as the invalid habits of this country might suggest. An eminent teacher of girls said, "The idea of a girl's education is whatever qualifies them for going to Europe." Can we never extract this tape-worm of Europe from the brain of our country-men? One sees very well what their fate must be. He that does not fill a place at home cannot abroad. He only goes there to hide his insignificance in a larger crowd. You do not think you will find anything there which you have not seen at home? The stuff of all countries is just the same. Do you suppose there is any country where they do not scald milkpans, and swaddle the infants, and burn the brushwood, and broil the fish? What is true anywhere is true everywhere. And let him go where he will, he can find only so much beauty or worth as he carries.

Of course, for some men travel may be useful. Naturalists, discoverers, and sailors are born. Some men are made for couriers, exchangers, envoys, missionaries, bearers of despatches, as others are for farmers and working-men. And if the man is of a light and social turn, and Nature has aimed to make a legged and winged creature, framed for locomotion, we must follow her hint, and furnish him with that breeding which gives currency as sedulously as with that which gives worth. But let us not be pedantic, but allow to travel its full effect. The boy grown up on the farm which he has never left is said in the country to have had no chance, and boys and men of that condition look upon work on a railroad or drudgery in a city as opportunity. Poor country-boys of Vermont and Connecticut formerly owed what knowledge they had to their peddling-trips to the Southern States. California and the Pacific Coast are now the university of this class, as Virginia was in old times. "To have some chance" is their word. And the phrase, "to know the world," or to travel, is synonymous with all men's ideas of advantage and superiority. No doubt, to a man of sense travel offers advantages. As many languages as he has, as many friends, as many arts and trades, so many times is he a man. A foreign country is a point of comparison where-from to judge his own. One use of travel is, to recommend the books and works of home; (we go to Europe to be Americanized;) and another, to find men. For as Nature has put fruits apart in latitudes, a new fruit in every degree, so knowledge and fine moral quality she lodges in distant men. And thus, of the six or seven teachers whom each man wants among his contemporaries, it often happens that one or two of them live on the other side of the world.

Moreover, there is in every constitution a certain solstice, when the stars stand still in our inward firmament, and when there is required some foreign force, some diversion or alternative, to prevent stagnation. And, as a medical remedy, travel seems one of the best. Just as a man witnessing the admirable effect of ether to lull pain, and, meditating on the contingencies of wounds, cancers, lockjaws, rejoices in Dr. Jackson's benign discovery, so a man who looks at Paris, at Naples, or at London, says, "If I should be driven from my own home, here, at least, my thoughts can be consoled by the most prodigal amusement and occupation which the human race in ages could contrive and accumulate."

Akin to the benefit of foreign travel, the aesthetic value of railroads is to unite the advantages of town and country life, neither of which we can spare. A man should live in or near a large town, because, let his own genius be what it may, it will repel quite as much of agreeable and valuable talent as it draws, and, in a city, the total attraction of all the citizens is sure to conquer, first or last, every repulsion, and drag the most improbable hermit within its walls some day in the year. In town he can find the swimming-school, the gymnasium, the dancing-master, the shooting-gallery, opera, theatre, and panorama,—the chemist's shop, the museum of natural history, the gallery of fine arts, the national orators in their turn, foreign travellers, the libraries, and his club. In the country he can find solitude and reading, manly labor, cheap living, and his old shoes,—moors for game, hills for geology, and groves for devotion. Aubrey writes, "I have heard Thomas Hobbes say, that, in the Earl of Devon's house, in Derbyshire, there was a good library and books enough for him, and his Lordship stored the library with what books he thought fit to be bought. But the want of good conversation was a very great inconvenience, and, though he conceived he could order his thinking as well as another, yet he found a great defect. In the country, in long time, for want of good conversation, one's understanding and invention contract a moss on them, like an old paling in an orchard."

Cities give us collision. 'Tis said, London and New York take the nonsense out of a man. A great part of our education is sympathetic and social. Boys and girls who have been brought up with well-informed and superior people show in their manners an inestimable grace. Fuller says, that "William, Earl of Nassau, won a subject from the King of Spain every time he put off his hat." You cannot have one well-bred man without a whole society of such. They keep each other up to any high point. Especially women: it requires a great many cultivated women,—saloons of bright, elegant, reading women, accustomed to ease and refinement, to spectacles, pictures, sculpture, poetry, and to elegant society,—in order that you should have one Madame de Staël. The head of a commercial house, or a leading lawyer or politician, is brought into daily contact with troops of men from all parts of the country,—and those, too, the driving-wheels, the business-men of each section,—and one can hardly suggest for an apprehensive man a more searching culture. Besides, we must remember the high social possibilities of a million of men. The best bribe which London offers to-day to the imagination is, that, in such a vast variety of people and conditions, one can believe there is room for persons of romantic character to exist, and that the poet, the mystic, and the hero may hope to confront their counterparts.

I wish cities could teach their best lesson,—of quiet manners. It is the foible especially of American youth,—pretension. The mark of the man of the world is absence of pretension. He does not make a speech; he takes a low business-tone, avoids all brag, is nobody, dresses plainly, promises not at all, performs much, speaks in monosyllables, hugs his fact. He calls his employment by its lowest name, and so takes from evil tongues their sharpest weapon. His conversation clings to the weather and the news, yet he allows himself to be surprised into thought, and the unlocking of his learning and philosophy. How the imagination is piqued by anecdotes of some great man passing incognito, as a king in gray clothes!—of Napoleon affecting a plain suit at his glittering levee!—of Burns, or Scott, or Beethoven, or Wellington, or Goethe, or any container of transcendent power, passing for nobody!—of Epaminondas, "who never says anything, but will listen eternally!"—of Goethe, who preferred trifling subjects and common expressions in intercourse with strangers, worse rather than better clothes, and to appear a little more capricious than he was! There are advantages in the old hat and box-coat. I have heard, that, throughout this country, a certain respect is paid to good broadcloth: but dress makes a little restraint; men will not commit themselves. But the box-coat is like wine; it unlocks the tongue, and men say what they think. An old poet says,—

  "Go far and go sparing;
  For you'll find it certain,
  The poorer and the baser you appear,
  The more you'll look through still."[A]

[Footnote A: Beaumont and Fletcher: The Tamer Tamed.]

Not much otherwise Milnes writes, in the "Lay of the Humble":—

  "To me men are for what they are,
  They wear no masks with me."

'Tis odd that our people should have—not water on the brain,—but a little gas there. A shrewd foreigner said of the Americans, that "whatever they say has a little the air of a speech." Yet one of the traits down in the books, as distinguishing the Anglo-Saxon, is a trick of self-disparagement. To be sure, in old, dense countries, among a million of good coats, a fine coat comes to be no distinction, and you find humorists. In an English party, a man with no marked manners or features, with a face like red dough, unexpectedly discloses wit, learning, a wide range of topics, and personal familiarity with good men in all parts of the world, until you think you have fallen upon some illustrious personage. Can it be that the American forest has refreshed some weeds of old Pictish barbarism just ready to die out,—the love of the scarlet feather, of beads, and tinsel? The Italians are fond of red clothes, peacock-plumes, and embroidery; and I remember, one rainy morning in the city of Palermo, the street was in a blaze with scarlet umbrellas. The English have a plain taste. The equipages of the grandees are plain. A gorgeous livery indicates new and awkward city-wealth. Mr. Pitt, like Mr. Pym, thought the title of Mister good against any king in Europe. They have piqued themselves on governing the whole world in the poor, plain, dark committee-room which the House of Commons sat in before the fire.

Whilst we want cities as the centres where the best things are found, cities degrade us by magnifying trifles. The countryman finds the town a chop-house, a barber's shop. He has lost the lines of grandeur of the horizon, hills and plains, and, with them, sobriety and elevation. He has come among a supple, glib-tongued tribe, who live for show, servile to public opinion. Life is dragged down to a fracas of pitiful cares and disasters. You say the gods ought to respect a life whose objects are their own; but in cities they have betrayed you to a cloud of insignificant annoyances:—

  "Mirmidons, race féconde,
  Enfins nous commandons;
  Jupiter livre le monde
  Aux mirmidons, aux mirmidons."[B]

[Footnote B: Béranger.]

  'Tis heavy odds
  Against the gods,
  When they will match with myrmidons.
  We spawning, spawning myrmidons,
  Our turn to-day; we take command:
  Jove gives the globe into the hand
  Of myrmidons, of myrmidons.

What is odious but noise, and people who scream and bewail?—people whose vane points always east, who live to dine, who send for the doctor, who raddle themselves, who toast their feet on the register, who intrigue to secure a padded chair and a corner out of the draught? Suffer them once to begin the enumeration of their infirmities, and the sun will go down on the unfinished tale. Let these triflers put us out of conceit with petty comforts. To a man at work, the frost is but a color; the rain, the wind, he forgot them when he came in. Let us learn to live coarsely, dress plainly, and lie hard. The least habit of dominion over the palate has certain good effects not easily estimated. Neither will we be driven into a quiddling abstemiousness. 'Tis a superstition to insist on a special diet. All is made at last of the same chemical atoms.

A man in pursuit of greatness feels no little wants. How can you mind diet, bed, dress, or salutes or compliments, or the figure you make in company, or wealth, or even the bringing things to pass, when you think how paltry are the machinery and the workers? Wordsworth was praised to me, in Westmoreland, for having afforded to his country neighbors an example of a modest household, where comfort and culture were secured without display. And a tender boy who wears his rusty cap and outgrown coat, that he may secure the coveted place in college and the right in the library, is educated to some purpose. There is a great deal of self-denial and manliness in poor and middle-class houses, in town and country, that has not got into literature, and never will, but that keeps the earth sweet,—that saves on superfluities, and spends on essentials,—that goes rusty, and educates the boy,—that sells the horse, but builds the school,—works early and late, takes two looms in the factory, three looms, six looms, but pays off the mortgage on the paternal farm, and then goes back cheerfully to work again.

We can ill spare the commanding social benefits of cities; they must be used,—yet cautiously, and haughtily,—and will yield their best values to him who best can do without them. Keep the town for occasions, but the habits should be formed to retirement. Solitude, the safeguard of mediocrity, is to genius the stern friend, the cold, obscure shelter where moult the wings which will bear it farther than suns and stars. He who should inspire and lead his race must be defended from travelling with the souls of other men,—from living, breathing, reading, and writing in the daily, time-worn yoke of their opinions. "In the morning, solitude," said Pythagoras,—that Nature may speak to the imagination, as she does never in company, and that her favorite may make acquaintance with those divine strengths which disclose themselves to serious and abstracted thought. 'Tis very certain that Plato, Plotinus, Archimedes, Hermes, Newton, Milton, Wordsworth did not live in a crowd, but descended into it from time to time as benefactors: and the wise instructor will press this point of securing to the young soul, in the disposition of time and the arrangements of living, periods and habits of solitude. The high advantage of university-life is often the mere mechanical one, I may call it, of a separate chamber and fire,—which parents will allow the boy without hesitation at Cambridge, but do not think needful at home. We say solitude, to mark the character of the tone of thought; but if it can be shared between two, or more than two, it is happier, and not less noble. "We four," wrote Neander to his sacred friends, "will enjoy at Halle the inward blessedness of a civitas Dei, whose foundations are forever friendship. The more I know you, the more I dissatisfy and must dissatisfy all my wonted companions. Their very presence stupefies me. The common understanding withdraws itself from the one centre of all existence."

Solitude takes off the pressure of present importunities, that more catholic and humane relations may appear. The saint and poet seek privacy to ends the most public and universal: and it is the secret of culture, to interest the man more in his public than in his private quality. Here is a new poem, which elicits a good many comments in the journals and in conversation. From these it is easy, at last, to eliminate the verdict which readers passed upon it; and that is, in the main, unfavorable. The poet, as a craftsman, is interested only in the praise accorded to him, and not in the censure, though it be just; and the poor little poet hearkens only to that, and rejects the censure, as proving incapacity in the critic. But the poet cultivated becomes a stockholder in both companies,—say Mr. Curfew,—in the Curfew stock, and in the humanity stock; and, in the last, exults as much in the demonstration of the unsoundness of Curfew as his interest in the former gives him pleasure in the currency of Curfew. For the depreciation of his Curfew stock only shows the immense values of the humanity stock. As soon as he sides with his critic against himself, with joy, he is a cultivated man.

We must have an intellectual quality in all property and in all action, or they are nought. I must have children, I must have events, I must have a social state and history, or my thinking and speaking want body or basis. But to give these accessories any value, I must know them as contingent and rather showy possessions, which pass for more to the people than to me. We see this abstraction in scholars, as a matter of course: but what a charm it adds when observed in practical men! Bonaparte, like Caesar, was intellectual, and could look at every object for itself, without affection. Though an egotist à l'outrance, he could criticize a play, a building, a character, on universal grounds, and give a just opinion. A man known to us only as a celebrity in politics or in trade gains largely in our esteem, if we discover that he has some intellectual taste or skill: as when we learn of Lord Fairfax, the Long Parliament's general, his passion for antiquarian studies; or of the French regicide Carnot, his sublime genius in mathematics; or of a living banker, his success in poetry; or of a partisan journalist, his devotion to ornithology. So, if, in travelling in the dreary wildernesses of Arkansas or Texas, we should observe on the next seat a man reading Horace, or Martial, or Calderon, we should wish to hug him. In callings that require roughest energy, soldiers, sea-captains, and civil engineers sometimes betray a fine insight, if only through a certain gentleness when off duty: a good-natured admission that there are illusions, and who shall say that he is not their sport? We only vary the phrase, not the doctrine, when we say that culture opens the sense of beauty. A man is a beggar who only lives to the useful, and, however he may serve as a pin or rivet in the social machine, cannot be said to have arrived at self-possession. I suffer, every day, from the want of perception of beauty in people. They do not know the charm with which all moments and objects can be embellished,—the charm of manners, of self-command, of benevolence. Repose and cheerfulness are the badge of the gentleman,—repose in energy. The Greek battle-pieces are calm; the heroes, in whatever violent actions engaged, retain a serene aspect: as we say of Niagara, that it falls without speed. A cheerful, intelligent face is the end of culture, and success enough; for it indicates the purpose of Nature and wisdom attained.

When our higher faculties are in activity, we are domesticated, and awkwardness and discomfort give place to natural and agreeable movements. It is noticed that the consideration of the great periods and spaces of astronomy induces a dignity of mind and an indifference to death. The influence of fine scenery, the presence of mountains, appeases our irritations and elevates our friendships. Even a high dome, and the expansive interior of a cathedral, have a sensible effect on manners. I have heard that stiff people lose something of their awkwardness under high ceilings and in spacious halls. I think sculpture and painting have an effect to teach us manners and abolish hurry.

But, over all, culture must reinforce from higher influx the empirical skills of eloquence, or of politics, or of trade and the useful arts. There is a certain loftiness of thought and power to marshal and adjust particulars, which can come only from an insight of their whole connection. The orator who has once seen things in their divine order will never quite lose sight of this, and will come to affairs as from a higher ground, and, though he will say nothing of philosophy, he will have a certain mastery in dealing with them, and an incapableness of being dazzled or frighted, which will distinguish his handling from that of attorneys and factors. A man who stands on a good footing with the heads of parties at Washington reads the rumors of the newspapers and the guesses of provincial politicians with a key to the right and wrong in each statement, and sees well enough where all this will end. Archimedes will look through your Connecticut machine at a glance, and judge of its fitness. And much more, a wise man who knows not only what Plato, but what Saint John can show him, can easily raise the affair he deals with to a certain majesty. Plato says, Pericles owed this elevation to the lessons of Anaxagoras. Burke descended from a higher sphere when he would influence human affairs. Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, stood on a fine humanity, before which the brawls of modern senates are but pot-house politics.

But there are higher secrets of culture, which are not for the apprentices, but for proficients. These are lessons only for the brave. We must know our friends under ugly masks. The calamities are our friends. Ben Jonson specifies in his address to the Muse:—

  "Get him the time's long grudge, the court's ill-will,
  And, reconciled, keep him suspected still,
  Make him lose all his friends, and, what is worse,
  Almost all ways to any better course;
  With me thou leav'st a better Muse than thee,
  And which thou brought'st me, blessed Poverty."

We wish to learn philosophy by rote, and play at heroism. But the wiser God says, Take the shame, the poverty, and the penal solitude that belong to truth-speaking. Try the rough water, as well as the smooth. Rough water can teach lessons worth knowing. When the state is unquiet, personal qualities are more than ever decisive. Fear not a revolution which will constrain you to live five years in one. Don't be so tender at making an enemy now and then. Be willing to go to Coventry sometimes, and let the populace bestow on you their coldest contempts. The finished man of the world must eat of every apple once. He must hold his hatreds also at arm's length, and not remember spite. He has neither friends nor enemies, but values men only as channels of power.

He who aims high must dread an easy home and popular manners. Heaven sometimes hedges a rare character about with ungainliness and odium, as the burr that protects the fruit. If there is any great and good thing in store for you, it will not come at the first or the second call, nor in the shape of fashion, ease, and city drawing-rooms. Popularity is for dolls. "Steep and craggy," said Porphyry, "is the path of the gods." Open your Marcus Antoninus. In the opinion of the ancients, he was the great man who scorned to shine, and who contested the frowns of Fortune. They preferred the noble vessel too late for the tide, contending with winds and waves, dismantled and unrigged, to her companion borne into harbor with colors flying and guns firing. There is none of the social goods that may not be purchased too dear, and mere amiableness must not take rank with high aims and self-subsistency.

Bettine replies to Goethe's mother, who chides her disregard of dress,—"If I cannot do as I have a mind, in our poor Frankfort, I shall not carry things far." And the youth must rate at its true mark the inconceivable levity of local opinion. The longer we live, the more we must endure the elementary existence of men and women: and every brave heart must treat society as a child, and never allow it to dictate.

"All that class of the severe and restrictive virtues," said Burke, "are almost too costly for humanity." Who wishes to be severe? Who wishes to resist the eminent and polite, in behalf of the poor and low and impolite? and who that dares do it can keep his temper sweet, his frolic spirits? The high virtues are not debonair, but have their redress in being illustrious at last. What forests of laurel we bring, and the tears of mankind, to those who stood firm against the opinion of their contemporaries! The measure of a master is his success in bringing all men round to his opinion twenty years later.

Let me say here, that culture cannot begin too early. In talking with scholars, I observe that they lost on ruder companions those years of boyhood which alone could give imaginative literature a religious and infinite quality in their esteem. I find, too, that the chance for appreciation is much increased by being the son of an appreciator, and that these boys who now grow up are caught not only years too late, but two or three births too late, to make the best scholars of. And I think it a presentable motive to a scholar, that, as, in an old community, a well-born proprietor is usually found, after the first heats of youth, to be a careful husband, and to feel an habitual desire that the estate shall suffer no harm by his administration, but shall be delivered down to the next heir in as good condition as he received it,—so, a considerate man will reckon himself a subject of that secular melioration by which mankind is mollified, cured, and refined, and will shun every expenditure of his forces on pleasure or gain, which will jeopardize this social and secular accumulation.

The fossil strata show us that Nature began with rudimental forms, and rose to the more complex as fast as the earth was fit for their dwelling-place,—and that the lower perish, as the higher appear. Very few of our race can be said to be yet finished men. We still carry sticking to us some remains of the preceding inferior quadruped organization. We call these millions men; but they are not yet men. Half-engaged in the soil, pawing to get free, man needs all the music that can be brought to disengage him. If Love, red Love, with tears and joy,—if Want with his scourge,—if War with his cannonade,—if Christianity with its charity,—if Trade with its money,—if Art with its portfolios,—if Science with her telegraphs through the deeps of space and time, can set his dull nerves throbbing, and by loud taps on the tough chrysalis can break its walls and let the new creature emerge erect and free,—make way, and sing paean! The age of the quadruped is to go out,—the age of the brain and of the heart is to come in. The time will come when the evil forms we have known can no more be organized. Man's culture can spare nothing, wants all the material. He is to convert all impediments into instruments, all enemies into power. The formidable mischief will only make the more useful slave. And if one shall read the future of the race hinted in the organic effort of Nature to mount and meliorate, and the corresponding impulse to the Better in the human being, we shall dare affirm that there is nothing he will not overcome and convert, until at last culture shall absorb the chaos and gehenna. He will convert the Furies into Muses, and the hells into benefit.


  Between the dark and the daylight,
  When the night is beginning to lower,
  Comes a pause in the day's occupations
  That is known as the Children's Hour.

  I hear in the chamber above me
  The patter of little feet,
  The sound of a door that is opened,
  And voices soft and sweet.

  From my study I see in the lamplight,
  Descending the broad hall-stair,
  Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
  And Edith with golden hair.

  A whisper, and then a silence:
  Yet I know by their merry eyes
  They are plotting and planning together
  To take me by surprise.

  A sudden rush from the stairway,
  A sudden raid from the hall!
  By three doors left unguarded
  They enter my castle wall!

  They climb up into my turret
  O'er the arms and back of my chair;
  If I try to escape, they surround me;
  They seem to be everywhere.

  They almost devour me with kisses,
  Their arms about me entwine,
  Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
  In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

  Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
  Because you have scaled the wall,
  Such an old moustache as I am
  Is not a match for you all?

  I have you fast in my fortress,
  And will not let you depart,
  But put you down into the dungeons
  In the round-tower of my heart.

  And there will I keep you forever,
  Yes, forever and a day,
  Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
  And moulder in dust away!


It seems but yesterday, although more than thirteen years have gone by, since I first opened the little garden-gate and walked up the path leading to Mary Russell Mitford's cottage at Three-Mile Cross. A friend in London had given me his card to the writer of "Our Village," and I had promised to call on my way to Oxford, and have a half-hour's chat over her geraniums with the charming person whose sketches I had read with so much interest in my own country. Her cheerful voice at the head of the stairs, telling her little maid to show me the way to her sitting-room, sounded very musically, and I often observed in later interviews how like a melody her tones always appeared in conversation. Once when she read a lyrical poem, not her own, to a group of friends assembled at her later residence, in Swallowfield, of which number it was my good-fortune to be one, the verses came from her lips like an exquisite chant. Her laugh had a ringing sweetness in it, rippling out sometimes like a beautiful chime of silver bells; and when she told a comic story, which she often did with infinite tact and grace, she joined in with the jollity at the end, her eyes twinkling with delight at the pleasure her narrative was always sure to bring. Her enjoyment of a joke was something delicious, and when she heard a good thing for the first time her exultant mirth was unbounded. As she sat in her easy-chair, listening to a Yankee story which interested her, her "Dear me! dear me! dear me!" (three times repeated always)

"Rang like a golden jewel down a golden stair."

The sunny summer-day was falling full on her honeysuckles, lilies, and roses, when I first saw her face in the snug cottage at Three-Mile Cross. As we sat together at the open casement, looking down on the flowers that sent up their perfumes to her latticed window like fragrant tributes from a fountain of distilled sweet waters, she pointed out, among the neighboring farm-houses and villas, the residences of her friends, in all of whom she seemed to have the most affectionate interest. I noticed, as the village children went by her window, they all stopped to bow and curtsy. One curly-headed urchin made bold to take off his well-worn cap and wait to be recognized as "little Johnny,"—"no great scholar," said the kind-hearted old lady to me, "but a sad rogue among our flock of geese. Only yesterday, the young marauder was detected by my maid with a plump gosling stuffed half-way into his pocket!" While she was thus discoursing of Johnny's peccadilloes, the little fellow looked up with a knowing expression, and very soon caught in his cap a gingerbread dog, which the old lady threw to him from the window. "I wish he loved his book as well as he relishes sweet cake," sighed she, as the boy kicked up his heels and disappeared down the lane.

Full of anecdote, her conversation that afternoon ran on in a perpetual flow of good-humor, until it was time for me to be on my way toward the University City. From that time till she died, our friendship continued, and, during other visits to England, I saw her frequently, driving about the country with her in her pony-chaise, and spending many happy hours under her cottage-roof. She was always the same cheerful spirit, enlivening our intercourse with shrewd and pertinent observations and reminiscences, some of which it may not be out of place to reproduce here. Country life, its scenery and manners, she was never tired of depicting; but not infrequently she loved to talk of those celebrities in literature and art whom she had known intimately, with a vivacity and sweetness of temper never-failing and delightful. I well remember, one autumn evening, when half a dozen friends were sitting in her library after dinner, talking with her of Tom Taylor's Life of Haydon, then lately published, how graphically she described to us the eccentric painter, whose genius she was among the fore-most to recognize. The flavor of her discourse I cannot reproduce; but I was too much interested in what she was saying to forget the main incidents she drew for our edification, during those pleasant hours now far away in the past.

"I am a terrible forgetter of dates," she used to say, when any one asked her of the time when; but for the manner how she was never at a loss. "Poor Haydon!" she began. "He was an old friend of mine, and I am indebted to Sir William Elford, one of my dear father's correspondents during my girlhood, for a suggestion which sent me to look at a picture then on exhibition in London, and thus was brought about my knowledge of the painter's existence. He, Sir William, had taken a fancy to me, and I became his child-correspondent. Few things contribute more to that indirect after-education, which is worth all the formal lessons of the school-room a thousand times told, than such good-humored condescension from a clever man of the world to a girl almost young enough to be his granddaughter. I owe much to that correspondence, and, amongst other debts, the acquaintance of Haydon. Sir William's own letters were most charming,—full of old-fashioned courtesy, of quaint humor, and of pleasant and genial criticism on literature and on art. An amateur-painter himself, painting interested him particularly, and he often spoke much and warmly of the young man from Plymouth, whose picture of the 'Judgment of Solomon' was then on exhibition in London. 'You must see it,' said he, 'even if you come to town on purpose.'"—The reader of Haydon's Life will remember that Sir William Elford, in conjunction with a Plymouth banker named Tingecombe, ultimately purchased the picture. The poor artist was overwhelmed with astonishment and joy when he walked into the exhibition-room and read the label, "Sold," which had been attached to his picture that morning before he arrived. "My first impulse," he says in his Autobiography, "was gratitude to God."

"It so happened," continued Miss Mitford, "that I merely passed through London that season, and, being detained by some of the thousand and one nothings which are so apt to detain women in the great city, I arrived at the exhibition, in company with a still younger friend, so near the period of closing, that more punctual visitors were moving out, and the doorkeeper actually turned us and our money back. I persisted, however, assuring him that I only wished to look at one picture, and promising not to detain him long. Whether my entreaties would have carried the point or not, I cannot tell; but half a crown did; so we stood admiringly before the 'Judgment of Solomon.' I am no great judge of painting; but that picture impressed me then, as it does now, as excellent in composition, in color, and in that great quality of telling a story which appeals at once to every mind. Our delight was sincerely felt, and most enthusiastically expressed, as we kept gazing at the picture, and seemed, unaccountably to us at first, to give much pleasure to the only gentleman who had remained in the room,—a young and very distinguished-looking person, who had watched with evident amusement our negotiation with the doorkeeper. Beyond indicating the best position to look at the picture, he had no conversation with us; but I soon surmised that we were seeing the painter, as well as his painting; and when, two or three years afterwards, a friend took me by appointment to view the 'Entry into Jerusalem,' Haydon's next great picture, then near its completion, I found I had not been mistaken.

"Haydon was, at that period, a remarkable person to look at and listen to. Perhaps your American word bright expresses better than any other his appearance and manner. His figure, short, slight, elastic, and vigorous, looked still more light and youthful from the little sailor's-jacket and snowy trousers which formed his painting costume. His complexion was clear and healthful. His forehead, broad and high, out of all proportion to the lower part of his face, gave an unmistakable character of intellect to the finely placed head. Indeed, he liked to observe that the gods of the Greek sculptors owed much of their elevation to being similarly out of drawing! The lower features were terse, succinct, and powerful,—from the bold, decided jaw, to the large, firm, ugly, good-humored mouth. His very spectacles aided the general expression; they had a look of the man. But how shall I attempt to tell you of his brilliant conversation, of his rapid, energetic manner, of his quick turns of thought, as he flew on from topic to topic, dashing his brush here and there upon the canvas? Slow and quiet persons were a good deal startled by this suddenness and mobility. He left such people far behind, mentally and bodily. But his talk was so rich and varied, so earnest and glowing, his anecdotes so racy, his perception of character so shrewd, and the whole tone so spontaneous and natural, that the want of repose was rather recalled afterwards than felt at the time. The alloy to this charm was a slight coarseness of voice and accent, which contrasted somewhat strangely with his constant courtesy and high breeding. Perhaps this was characteristic. A defect of some sort pervades his pictures. Their great want is equality and congruity,—that perfect union of qualities which we call taste. His apartment, especially at that period when he lived in his painting-room, was in itself a study of the most picturesque kind. Besides the great picture itself, for which there seemed hardly space between the walls, it was crowded with casts, lay figures, arms, tripods, vases, draperies, and costumes of all ages, weapons of all nations, books in all tongues. These cumbered the floor; whilst around hung smaller pictures, sketches, and drawings, replete with originality and force. With chalk he could do what he chose. I remember he once drew for me a head of hair with nine of his sweeping, vigorous strokes! Among the studies I remarked that day in his apartment was one of a mother who had just lost her only child,—a most masterly rendering of an unspeakable grief. A sonnet, which I could not help writing on this sketch, gave rise to our long correspondence, and to a friendship which never flagged. Everybody feels that his life, as told by Mr. Taylor, with its terrible catastrophe, is a stern lesson to young artists, an awful warning that cannot be set aside. Let us not forget that amongst his many faults are qualities which hold out a bright example. His devotion to his noble art, his conscientious pursuit of every study connected with it, his unwearied industry, his love of beauty and of excellence, his warm family affection, his patriotism, his courage, and his piety, will not easily be surpassed. Thinking of them, let us speak tenderly of the ardent spirit whose violence would have been softened by better fortune, and who, if more successful, would have been more gentle and more humble."

And so with her vigilant and appreciative eye she saw, and thus in her own charming way she talked of the man, whose name, says Taylor, as a popularizer of art, stands without a rival among his brethren.

* * * * *

Her passion for the Drama continued through life, and to see a friend's play would take her up to London when nothing else would tempt her to leave her cottage. It was delightful to hear her talk of the old actors, many of whom she had known. She loved to describe John Kemble, Mrs. Siddons, Miss O'Neill, and Edmund Kean, as they were wont to electrify the town. Elliston was a great favorite, and she had as many good things to tell of him as Elia ever had. One autumn afternoon she related all the circumstances attending the "first play" she ever saw,—which, by the way, was a tragedy enacted in a barn somewhere in the little town of Alresford, where she was born. The winking candles dividing the stage from the audience, she used to say, were winking now in her memory, although fifty years had elapsed since her father took her, a child of four years, to see "Othello." Her talent at mimicry made her always most interesting, when she spoke of Munden and his pleasant absurdities on the stage. For Bannister, Johnstone, Fawcett, and Emery she had a most exquisite relish, and she said they had made comedy to her a living art full of laughter and tears. Her passion for the stage, and overclouded prospects for the future, led her in early youth to write a play. She had already written a considerable number of verses which had been printed, and were honored by being severely castigated by Gifford in the "Quarterly."

"I didn't mind the great reviewer's blows at all," she used to say. "My poems had been republished in America; and Coleridge had prophesied that I should one day write a tragedy."

Talfourd was then, though a young man, a most excellent critic, and lent a helping hand to the young authoress. Her anxieties attending the first representation of her play at Covent Garden she was always fond of relating, and in such a manner that we who listened fell into such boisterous merriment with her, that I have known carriages stop in front of her window, and their inmates put out anxiously inquiring heads, to learn, if possible, what it all meant inside the cottage.

She never forgot "the warm grasp of Mrs. Charles Kemble's hand, when she saw her, all life and heartiness, at her house in Soho Square,—or the excellent acting of Young and Kemble and Macready, who did everything actors could do to secure success for her."

"These are the things," she once wrote, "one thinks of, when sitting calm and old by the light of a country fire."

The comic and the grotesque that were mingled up with her first experiences of the stage as a dramatic author were inimitably rendered by herself, whenever she sat down to relate the story of that visit to London for the purpose of bringing out her tragedy. The rehearsals, where "the only grave person present was Mr. Liston!—the tragic heroines sauntering languidly through their parts in bonnets and thick shawls,—the untidy ballet-girls" (there was a dance in "Foscari") "walking through their quadrille to the sound of a solitary fiddle,"—she was never weary of calling up for the amusement of her listeners.

The old dramatists she had grown up to worship,—Shakspeare first, as in all loyalty bound, and after him Fletcher. "Affluent, eloquent, royally grand," she used to call both Beaumont and Fletcher; and whole scenes from favorite plays she knew by heart. Dr. Valpy was her neighbor, he being in the days of her youth headmaster of Reading School. A family intimacy of long standing had existed between her father's household and that of the learned and excellent scholar, so that his well-known taste for the English dramatists had no small influence on Doctor Mitford's studious daughter. "He helped me also," she said, "to enter into the spirit of those mighty masters who dealt forth the stern Tragedies of Destiny."

One of the dearest friends of her youth was Miss Porden, (afterwards married, as his first wife, to Sir John Franklin,) and at her suggestion Miss Mitford wrote "Rienzi." I have heard her say, that, going up to London to bring out that play, she saw her old friend, then Mrs. Franklin, working a flag for the captain's ship, then about to sail on one of his early adventurous voyages. The agitation of parting with her husband was too great for her delicate temperament, and before the expedition was out of the Channel Mrs. Franklin was dead.

* * * * *

Often and often, when the English lanes were white with blossoms, I have sat by her side while her faithful servant guided her low-wheeled pony-chaise among the pleasant roads about Reading and Swallowfield. Once we went to a cricket-ground together, and as we sat under the trees, looking on as the game proceeded, she, who fell in love with Nature when a child, and had studied the landscape till she knew familiarly every flower and leaf that grows on English soil, assembled all that was best in poesy from her memory to illustrate the beautiful scene before us, and to prove how much better and more truly the great end of existence is answered in a rural life than in the vexatious cares of city occupation. As we sat looking at the vast lawn, magnificent in its green apparel, she quoted Irving as one who had understood English country-life perhaps more deeply and fully than any other foreign author who had ever written.

Speaking, one day, of the slowness of poetical fame, she said,—

"It always takes ten years to make a poetical reputation in England; but
America is wiser and bolder, and dares say at once, 'This is fine!'"

She rejoiced greatly in several of the American poets, and was never weary of quoting certain ringing couplets which she has celebrated in her "Notes of a Literary Life." "Is there anything under the sun," she exclaims, "that Dr. Holmes cannot paint?"

During the last six years of her life she became a great invalid and moved about only with severe pain. "It is not age," she said, "that has thus prostrated me, but the hard work and increasing anxieties of thirty years of authorship, during which my poor labors were all that my dear father and mother had to look to; besides which, for the greater part of that time I was constantly called upon to attend the sick bed, first of one parent, and then of the other. I have only to be intensely thankful that the power of exertion did not fail until the necessity for such exertion was removed."

"I love poetry and people as well at sixty as I did at sixteen," she said one day, when I gave her a new volume by an American friend, "and can never be sufficiently grateful to God for having permitted me to retain the two joy-giving faculties of admiration and sympathy." The "Ballad of Cassandra Southwick" she esteemed as one of the finest things of our time; and of "Astrea" she said,—"Nobody in England can write the glorious resonant metre of Dryden like that strain, nowadays."

Pope was a great favorite with her, and she took me one morning to an old house where he was a frequent guest, and where Arabella Fermor, the heroine of the "Rape of the Lock," passed her married life. On the way she often quoted the poet, whose works she seemed to know by heart. Returning at sunset, she was very anxious that I should hear my first nightingale among the woody lanes of her pretty country; but we were both disappointed. We listened long, but, although the air was full of birdsongs that evening, the sweet-voiced warbler was not of the choir. She talked much, as we rode along, of Kingsley and Ruskin, both of whom she loved as friends as well as authors. "John Ruskin," she said, "is good and kind, and charming beyond the common lot of mortals, and there are pages of his prose, to my thinking, more eloquent than any thing out of Jeremy Taylor."

Speaking of Humor, she said,—"Between ourselves, I always have a little doubt of genius, when there is none of that quality: certainly, in the very highest poetry, the two go together."

She greatly admired Béranger, and often spoke of him as the beautiful old man, the truest and best type of perfect independence. Hazlitt she ranked highly as an essayist, and she mentioned that she had heard both Charles Lamb and Talfourd praise him as not only the most brilliant, but the soundest of critics.

Among modern romances, those by the author of "The Scarlet Letter" seemed to impress her almost more than any others; and when "The House of the Seven Gables" was translated into Russian, she was filled with delight. Indeed, she was always among the first to cry, "Bravo!" over any good words for American literature.

"Do coax Mr. Hawthorne and Dr. Holmes," she said one day, "into visiting England. I want them to be welcomed as they deserve, and as they are sure to be."

Her interest in the French Emperor's career amounted to enthusiasm, and one day she told us a very pretty story about him which she knew to be true. She said, when he was in England after Strasbourg and before Boulogne, he spent a twelvemonth at Leamington, living in the quietest manner. One of the principal persons in that town, Mr. H., a very liberal and accomplished man, made a point of showing every attention in his power to the Prince; and they very soon became intimate. There was in the town an old officer of the Emperor's Polish Legion, who, compelled to leave France after Waterloo, had taken refuge in England, and, having a natural talent for languages, maintained himself by teaching French, Italian, and German in different families. The old exile and the young one found each other out, and the language-master was soon an habitual guest at the Prince's table, where he was treated with the most affectionate attention. At last Louis Napoleon was obliged to repair to London, but before he went he called on his friend Mr. H. to take leave. After warm thanks to him for all the pleasure he had experienced in his society, the Prince said,—

"I am about to prove to you my entire reliance upon your unfailing kindness by leaving you a legacy. I wish to ask that you would transfer to my poor old friend the goodness you have lavished on me. His health is failing,—his means are small; pray, call upon him sometimes, and see that the lodging-house people do not neglect him. Draw upon me for what may be wanting for his needs or for his comforts."

Mr. H. promised, and faithfully replaced the Prince in his kind attentions to his old friend. The poor old man grew ill at last, and died, Mr. H. defraying all the charges of his illness and of his funeral. "I would willingly have paid them myself," said he, "but I knew that would have offended and grieved the Prince. I found that provision had been made at his banker's to answer my drafts to a much larger amount than the actual debt."

Miss Mitford used to say that she kept this anecdote for non-admirers of the Emperor.

One day she came limping into the room, with her dog Fanchon following in the same lame plight,—she laughing heartily at their similarity of gait, and holding up a letter just in from the post.

"Here," said she, "is an epistle from my dear old friend, Lady M.," (Gibbon's correspondent,) "who at the age of eighty-three is caught by new books, and is as enthusiastic as a girl. She commissions me to inquire of you all about your new authoress, the writer of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' who she is, and all you know of her. So let me hear what you have to say about the lady."

During a brief visit to her cottage not long before she died, the chase was started one evening to find, if possible, the origin of the line quoted by Byron,—

"A fellow-feeling makes one wondrous kind."

In vain we searched among the poets, and at last all the party gave up in despair. I went up to London soon after, thinking no more of the lost line. In a few days, however, came a brief note, as follows:—

"Hurrah, dear friend! I have found the line without any other person's aid or suggestion! Last night it occurred to me that it was in some prologue or epilogue; and my little book-room being very rich in the drama, I have looked through many hundreds of those bits of rhyme, and at last made a discovery, which, if it have no other good effect, will at least have 'emptied my head of Corsica,' as Johnson said to Boswell; for never was the great biographer more haunted by the thought of Paoli than I by that line. It occurs in an epilogue by Garrick, on quitting the stage, June, 1776, when the performance was for the benefit of sick and aged actors.

"Not finding it quoted in Johnson convinced me that it would probably have been written after the publication of the Dictionary, and ultimately guided me to the right place. It is singular that epilogues were just dismissed at the first representation of one of my plays, 'Foscari,' and prologues at another, 'Rienzi.'

"Ever most affectionately yours,


"P.S. I am still a close prisoner in my room. But when fine weather comes, I will get down in some way or other, and trust myself to that which never hurts anybody, the honest open air. Spring, and even the approach of spring, sets me dreaming. I see leafy hedges in my sleep, and flowery banks, and then I long to make the vision a reality. I remember that my dog Flush, Fanchon's father, who was a famous sporting-dog, used, at the approach of the covering season, to hunt in his sleep, doubtless by the same instinct that works in me. So, as soon as the sun tells the same story with the primroses, I shall make a descent after some fashion, and, no doubt, aided by Sam's stalwart arm, successfully."

* * * * *

After leaving Three-Mile Cross for Swallowfield, her health, never of late years robust, seemed failing. In one of her letters to me she gives this pleasant picture of her home:—

"Ill as I am, my spirits are as good as ever; and just at this moment I am most comfortably seated under the acacia-tree at the corner of the house,—the beautiful acacia literally loaded with its snowy chains. The flowering-trees this summer, the lilacs, laburnums, and rhododendrons, have been one mass of blossoms, but none are so graceful as this waving acacia. On one side is a syringa, smelling and looking like an orange-tree,—a jar of roses on the table before me,—fresh gathered roses,—the pride of my gardener's heart. Little Fanchon is at my feet, too idle to eat the biscuits with which I am trying to tempt her,—biscuits from Boston, sent to me by kind Mrs. S., and which Fanchon ought to like; but you know her laziness of old, and she improves in it every day."

It was about this period that Walter Savage Landor sent to her these exquisite lines:—

  "The hay is carried; and the Hours
  Snatch, as they pass, the linden-flowers;
  And children leap to pluck a spray
  Bent earthward, and then run away.
  Park-keeper! catch me those grave thieves,
  About whose frocks the fragrant leaves,
  Sticking and fluttering here and there,
  No false nor faltering witness bear.

  "I never view such scenes as these
  In grassy meadow girt with trees,
  But comes a thought of her who now
  Sits with serenely patient brow
  Amid deep sufferings: none hath told
  More pleasant tales to young and old.
  Fondest was she of Father Thames,
  But rambled to Hellenic streams;
  Nor even there could any tell
  The country's purer charms so well
  As Mary Mitford.

  "Verse! go forth
  And breathe o'er gentle hearts her worth.
  Needless the task: but should she see
  One hearty wish from you and me,
  A moment's pain it may assuage,—
  A rose-leaf on the couch of Age."

In the early days of the year 1855 she sent, in her own handwriting, kind greetings to her old friends only a few hours before she died. Sweetness of temper and brightness of mind, her never-failing characteristics, accompanied her to the last; and she passed on in her usual cheerful and affectionate mood, her sympathies uncontracted by age, narrow fortune, and pain.




The two meeting-houses which faced each other like a pair of fighting-cocks had not flapped their wings or crowed at each other for a considerable time. The Reverend Mr. Fairweather had been dyspeptic and low-spirited of late, and was too languid for controversy. The Reverend Doctor Honeywood had been very busy with his benevolent associations, and had discoursed chiefly on practical matters, to the neglect of special doctrinal subjects. His senior deacon ventured to say to him that some of his people required to be reminded of the great fundamental doctrine of the worthlessness of all human efforts and motives. Some of them were altogether too much pleased with the success of the Temperance Society and the Association for the Relief of the Poor. There was a pestilent heresy about, concerning the satisfaction to be derived from a good conscience,—as if anybody ever did anything which was not to be hated, loathed, despised, and condemned.

The old minister listened gravely, with an inward smile, and told his deacon that he would attend to his suggestion. After the deacon had gone, he tumbled over his manuscripts, until at length he came upon his first-rate old sermon on "Human Nature." He had read a great deal of hard theology, and had at last reached that curious state which is so common in good ministers,—that, namely, in which they contrive to switch off their logical faculties on the narrow side-track of their technical dogmas, while the great freight-train of their substantial human qualities keeps in the main highway of common-sense, in which kindly souls are always found by all who approach them by their human side.

The Doctor read his sermon with a pleasant, paternal interest: it was well argued from his premises. Here and there he dashed his pen through a harsh expression. Now and then he added an explanation or qualified a broad statement. But his mind was on the logical side-track, and he followed the chain of reasoning without fairly perceiving where it would lead him, if he carried it into real life.

He was just touching up the final proposition, when his granddaughter, Letty, once before referred to, came into the room with her smiling face and lively movement. Miss Letty or Letitia Forrester was a city-bred girl of some fifteen or sixteen years old, who was passing the summer with her grandfather for the sake of country air and quiet. It was a sensible arrangement; for, having the promise of figuring as a belle by-and-by, and being a little given to dancing, and having a voice which drew a pretty dense circle around the piano when she sat down to play and sing, it was hard to keep her from being carried into society before her time, by the mere force of mutual attraction. Fortunately, she had some quiet as well as some social tastes, and was willing enough to pass two or three of the summer months in the country, where she was much better bestowed than she would have been at one of those watering-places where so many half-formed girls get prematurely hardened in the vice of self-consciousness.

Miss Letty was altogether too wholesome, hearty, and high-strung a young girl to be a model, according to the flat-chested and cachectic pattern which is the classical type of certain excellent young females, often the subjects of biographical memoirs. But the old minister was proud of his granddaughter for all that. She was so full of life, so graceful, so generous, so vivacious, so ready always to do all she could for him and for everybody, so perfectly frank in her avowed delight in the pleasures which this miserable world offered her in the shape of natural beauty, of poetry, of music, of companionship, of books, of cheerful cooperation in the tasks of those about her, that the Reverend Doctor could not find it in his heart to condemn her because she was deficient in those particular graces and that signal other-worldliness he had sometimes noticed in feeble young persons suffering from various chronic diseases which impaired their vivacity and removed them from the range of temptation.

When Letty, therefore, came bounding into the old minister's study, he glanced up from his manuscript, and, as his eye fell upon her, it flashed across him that there was nothing so very monstrous and unnatural about the specimen of congenital perversion he was looking at, with his features opening into their pleasantest sunshine. Technically, according to the fifth proposition of the sermon on Human Nature, very bad, no doubt. Practically, according to the fact before him, a very pretty piece of the Creator's handiwork, body and soul. Was it not a conceivable thing that the divine grace might show itself in different forms in a fresh young girl like Letitia, and in that poor thing he had visited yesterday, half-grown, half-colored, in bed for the last year with hip-disease? Was it to be supposed that this healthy young girl, with life throbbing all over her, could, without a miracle, be good according to the invalid pattern and formula?

And yet there were mysteries in human nature which pointed to some tremendous perversion of its tendencies,—to some profound, radical vice of moral constitution, native or transmitted, as you will have it, but positive, at any rate, as the leprosy, breaking out in the blood of races, guard them ever so carefully. Did he not know the case of a young lady in Rockland, daughter of one of the first families in the place, a very beautiful and noble creature to look at, for whose bringing-up nothing had been spared,—a girl who had had governesses to teach her at the house, who had been indulged almost too kindly,—a girl whose father had given himself up to her, he being himself a pure and high-souled man?—and yet this girl was accused in whispers of having been on the very verge of committing a fatal crime; she was an object of fear to all who knew the dark hints which had been let fall about her, and there were some that believed—Why, what was this but an instance of the total obliquity and degeneration of the moral principle? and to what could it be owing, but to an innate organic tendency?

"Busy, grandpapa?" said Letty, and without waiting for an answer kissed his cheek with a pair of lips made on purpose for that little function,—fine, but richly turned out, the corners tucked in with a finish of pretty dimples, the rosebud lips of girlhood's June.

The old gentleman looked at his granddaughter. Nature swelled up from his heart in a wave that sent a glow to his cheek and a sparkle to his eye. But it is very hard to be interrupted just as we are winding up a string of propositions with the grand conclusion which is the statement in brief of all that has gone before: our own starting-point, into which we have been trying to back our reader or listener as one backs a horse into the shafts.

"Video meliora, proboque,—I see the better, and approve it; deteriora sequor,—I follow after the worse: 'tis that natural dislike to what is good, pure, holy, and true, that inrooted selfishness, totally insensible to the claims of"—

Here the worthy man was interrupted by Miss Letty.

"Do come, if you can, grandpapa," said the young girl; "here is a poor old black woman wants to see you so much!"

The good minister was as kind-hearted as if he had never groped in the dust and ashes of those cruel old abstractions which have killed out so much of the world's life and happiness, "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness"; a man's love is the measure of his fitness for good or bad company here or elsewhere. Men are tattooed with their special beliefs like so many South-Sea Islanders; but a real human heart, with Divine love in it, beats with the same glow under all the patterns of all earth's thousand tribes!

The Doctor sighed, and folded the sermon, and laid the Quarto Cruden on it. He rose from his desk, and, looking once more at the young girl's face, forgot his logical conclusions, and said to himself that she was a little angel,—which was in violent contradiction to the leading doctrine of his sermon on Human Nature. And so he followed her out of the study into the wide entry of the old-fashioned country-house.

An old black woman sat on the plain oaken settle which humble visitors waiting to see the minister were wont to occupy. She was old, but how old it would be very hard to guess. She might be seventy. She might be ninety. One could not swear she was not a hundred. Black women remain at a stationary age (to the eyes of white people, at least) for thirty years. They do not appear to change during this period any more than so many Trenton trilobites. Bent up, wrinkled, yellow-eyed, with long upper-lip, projecting jaws, retreating chin, still meek features, long arms, large flat hands with uncolored palms and slightly webbed fingers, it was impossible not to see in this old creature a hint of the gradations by which life climbs up through the lower natures to the highest human developments. We cannot tell such old women's ages because we do not understand the physiognomy of a race so unlike our own. No doubt they see a great deal in each other's faces that we cannot,—changes of color and expression as real as our own, blushes and sudden betrayals of feeling,—just as these two canaries know what their single notes and short sentences and full song with this or that variation mean, though it is a mystery to us unplumed mortals.

This particular old black woman was a striking specimen of her class. Old as she looked, her eye was bright and knowing. She wore a red-and-yellow turban, which set off her complexion well, and hoops of gold in her ears, and beads of gold about her neck, and an old funeral ring upon her finger. She had that touching stillness about her which belongs to animals that wait to be spoken to and then look up with a kind of sad humility.

"Why, Sophy!" said the good minister, "is this you?"

She looked up with the still expression on her face. "It's old Sophy," she said.

"Why," said the Doctor, "I did not believe you could walk so far as this to save the Union. Bring Sophy a glass of wine, Letty. Wine's good for old folks like Sophy and me, after walking a good way, or preaching a good while."

The young girl stepped into the back-parlor, where she found the great pewter flagon in which the wine that was left after each communion-service was brought to the minister's house. With much toil she managed to tip it so as to get a couple of glasses filled. The minister tasted his, and made old Sophy finish hers.

"I wan' to see you 'n' talk wi' you all alone," she said presently.

The minister got up and led the way towards his study. "To be sure," he said; he had only waited for her to rest a moment before he asked her into the library. The young girl took her gently by the arm, and helped her feeble steps along the passage. When they reached the study, she smoothed the cushion of a rocking-chair, and made the old woman sit down in it. Then she tripped lightly away, and left her alone with the minister.

Old Sophy was a member of the Reverend Doctor Honeywood's church. She had been put through the necessary confessions in a tolerably satisfactory manner. To be sure, as her grandfather had been a cannibal chief, according to the common story, and, at any rate, a terrible wild savage, and as her mother retained to the last some of the prejudices of her early education, there was a heathen flavor in her Christianity, which had often scandalized the elder of the minister's two deacons. But the good minister had smoothed matters over: had explained that allowances were to be made for those who had been long sitting without the gate of Zion,—that, no doubt, a part of the curse which descended to the children of Ham consisted in "having the understanding darkened," as well as the skin,—and so had brought his suspicious senior deacon to tolerate old Sophy as one of the communion of fellow-sinners.

* * * * *

——Poor things! How little we know the simple notions with which these rudiments of souls are nourished by the Divine Goodness! Did not Mrs. Professor come home this very blessed morning with a story of one of her old black women?

"And how do you feel to-day, Mrs. Robinson?"

"Oh, my dear, I have this singing in my head all the time." (What doctors call tinnitus aurium.)

"She's got a cold in the head," said old Mrs. Rider.

"Oh, no, my dear! Whatever I'm thinking about, it's all this singing, this music. When I'm thinking of the dear Redeemer, it all turns into this singing and music. When the clark came to see me, I asked him if he couldn't cure me, and he said, No,—it was the Holy Spirit in me, singing to me; and all the time I hear this beautiful music, and it's the Holy Spirit a-singing to me."——

* * * * *

The good man waited for Sophy to speak; but she did not open her lips as yet.

"I hope you are not troubled in mind or body," he said to her at length, finding she did not speak.

The poor old woman took out a white handkerchief, and lifted it to her black face. She could not say a word for her tears and sobs.

The minister would have consoled her; he was used to tears, and could in most cases withstand their contagion manfully; but something choked his voice suddenly, and when he called upon it, he got no answer, but a tremulous movement of the muscles, which was worse than silence.

At last she spoke.

"Oh, no, no, no! It's my poor girl, my darling, my beauty, my baby, that's grown up to be a woman; she will come to a bad end; she will do something that will make them kill her or shut her up all her life. Oh, Doctor, Doctor, save her, pray for her! It a'n't her fault. It a'n't her fault. If they knew all that I know, they wouldn't blame that poor child. I must tell you, Doctor: if I should die, perhaps nobody else would tell you. Massa Venner can't talk about it. Doctor Kittredge won't talk about it. Nobody but old Sophy to tell you, Doctor; and old Sophy can't die without telling you."

The kind minister soothed the poor old soul with those gentle, quieting tones which had carried peace and comfort to so many chambers of sickness and sorrow, to so many hearts overburdened by the trials laid upon them.

Old Sophy became quiet in a few minutes, and proceeded to tell her story. She told it in the low half-whisper which is the natural voice of lips oppressed with grief and fears; with quick glances around the apartment from time to time, as if she dreaded lest the dim portraits on the walls and the dark folios on the shelves might overhear her words.

It was not one of those conversations which a third person can report minutely, unless by that miracle of clairvoyance known to the readers of stories made out of authors' brains. Yet its main character can be imparted in a much briefer space than the old black woman took to give all its details.

She went far back to the time when Dudley Venner was born,—she being then a middle-aged woman. The heir and hope of a family which had been narrowing down as if doomed to extinction, he had been surrounded with every care and trained by the best education he could have in New England. He had left college, and was studying the profession which gentlemen of leisure most affect, when he fell in love with a young girl left in the world almost alone, as he was. The old woman told the story of his young love and his joyous bridal with a tenderness which had something more, even, than her family sympathies to account for it. Had she not hanging over her bed a small paper-cutting of a profile—jet black, but not blacker than the face it represented—of one who would have been her own husband in the small years of this century, if the vessel in which he went to sea, like Jamie in the ballad, had not sailed away and never come back to land? Had she not her bits of furniture stowed away which had been got ready for her own wedding,—two rocking-chairs, one worn with long use, one kept for him so long that it had grown a superstition with her never to sit in it,—and might he not come back yet, after all? Had she not her chest of linen ready for her humble house-keeping, with store of serviceable huckaback and piles of neatly folded kerchiefs, wherefrom this one that showed so white against her black face was taken, for that she knew her eyes would betray her in "the presence"?

All the first part of the story the old woman told tenderly, and yet dwelling upon every incident with a loving pleasure. How happy this young couple had been, what plans and projects of improvement they had formed, how they lived in each other, always together, so young and fresh and beautiful as she remembered them in that one early summer when they walked arm in arm through the wilderness of roses that ran riot in the garden,—she told of this as loath to leave it and come to the woe that lay beneath.

She told the whole story;—shall I repeat it? Not now. If, in the course of relating the incidents I have undertaken to report, it tells itself, perhaps this will be better than to run the risk of producing a painful impression on some of those susceptible readers whom it would be ill-advised to disturb or excite, when they rather require to be amused and soothed. In our pictures of life, we must show the flowering-out of terrible growths which have their roots deep, deep underground. Just how far we shall lay bare the unseemly roots themselves is a matter of discretion and taste, in which none of us are infallible.

The old woman told the whole story of Elsie, of her birth, of her peculiarities of person and disposition, of the passionate fears and hopes with which her father had watched the course of her development. She recounted all her strange ways, from the hour when she first tried to crawl across the carpet, and her father shrank from her with an involuntary shudder as she worked her way towards him. With the memory of Juliet's nurse she told the story of her teething, and how, the woman to whose breast she had clung dying suddenly about that time, they had to struggle hard with the child before she would learn the accomplishment of feeding with a spoon. And so of her fierce plays and fiercer disputes with that boy who had been her companion, and the whole scene of the quarrel when she struck him with those sharp white teeth, frightening her, old Sophy, almost to death; for, as she said, the boy would have died, if it hadn't been for the old Doctor's galloping over as fast as he could gallop and burning the places right out of his arm. Then came the story of that other incident, sufficiently alluded to already, which had produced such an ecstasy of fright and left such a nightmare of apprehension in the household. And so the old woman came down to this present time. That boy she never loved nor trusted was grown to a dark, dangerous-looking man, and he was under their roof. He wanted to marry our poor Elsie, and Elsie hated him, and sometimes she would look at him over her shoulder just as she used to look at that woman she hated; and she, old Sophy, couldn't sleep for thinking she should hear a scream from the white chamber some night and find him in spasms such as that woman came so near dying with. And then there was something about Elsie she did not know what to make of: she would sit and hang her head sometimes, and look as if she were dreaming; and she brought home books they said a young gentleman up at the great school lent her; and once she heard her whisper in her sleep, and she talked as young girls do to themselves when they're thinking about somebody they have a liking for and think nobody knows it.

She finished her long story at last. The minister had listened to it in perfect silence. He sat still even when she had done speaking,—still, and lost in thought. It was a very awkward matter for him to have a hand in. Old Sophy was his parishioner, but the Venners had a pew in the Reverend Mr. Fairweather's meeting-house. It would seem that he, Mr. Fairweather, was the natural adviser of the parties most interested. Had he sense and spirit enough to deal with such people? Was there enough capital of humanity in his somewhat limited nature to furnish sympathy and unshrinking service for his friends in an emergency? or was he too busy with his own attacks of spiritual neuralgia, and too much occupied with taking account of stock of his own thin-blooded offences, to forget himself and his personal interests on the small scale and the large, and run a risk of his life, if need were, at any rate give himself up without reserve to the dangerous task of guiding and counselling these distressed and imperilled fellow-creatures?

The good minister thought the best thing to do would be to call and talk over some of these matters with Brother Fairweather,—for so he would call him at times, especially if his senior deacon were not within earshot. Having settled this point, he comforted Sophy with a few words of counsel and a promise of coming to see her very soon. He then called his man to put the old white horse into the chaise and drive Sophy back to the mansion-house.

When the Doctor sat down to his sermon again, it looked very differently from the way it had looked at the moment he left it. When he came to think of it, he did not feel quite so sure practically about that matter of the utter natural selfishness of everybody. There was Letty, now, seemed to take a very unselfish interest in that old black woman, and indeed in poor people generally; perhaps it would not be too much to say that she was always thinking of other people. He thought he had seen other young persons naturally unselfish, thoughtful for others; it seemed to be a family trait in some he had known.

But most of all he was exercised about this poor girl whose story Sophy had been telling. If what the old woman believed was true,—and it had too much semblance of probability,—what became of his theory of ingrained moral obliquity applied to such a case? If by the visitation of God a person receives any injury which impairs the intellect or the moral perceptions, is it not monstrous to judge such a person by our common working standards of right and wrong? Certainly, everybody will answer, in cases where there is a palpable organic change brought about, as when a blow on the head produces insanity. Fools! How long will it be before we shall learn that for every wound which betrays itself to the sight by a scar, there are a thousand unseen mutilations that cripple, each of them, some one or more of our highest faculties? If what Sophy told and believed was the real truth, what prayers could be agonizing enough, what tenderness could be deep enough, for this poor, lost, blighted, hapless, blameless child of misfortune, struck by such a doom as perhaps no living creature in all the sisterhood of humanity shared with her?

The minister thought these matters over until his mind was bewildered with doubts and tossed to and fro on that stormy deep of thought heaving forever beneath the conflict of windy dogmas. He laid by his old sermon. He put back a pile of old commentators with their eyes and mouths and hearts full of the dust of the schools. Then he opened the book of Genesis at the eighteenth chapter and read that remarkable argument of Abraham's with his Maker, in which he boldly appeals to first principles. He took as his text, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" and began to write his sermon, afterwards so famous,—"On the Obligations of an Infinite Creator to a Finite Creature."

It astonished the good people, who had been accustomed so long to repeat mechanically their Oriental hyperboles of self-abasement, to hear their worthy minister maintaining that the dignified attitude of the old Patriarch, insisting on what was reasonable and fair with reference to his fellow-creatures, was really much more respectful to his Maker, and a great deal manlier and more to his credit, than if he had yielded the whole matter, and pretended that men had not rights as well as duties. The same logic which had carried him to certain conclusions with reference to human nature, this same irresistible logic carried him straight on from his text until he arrived at those other results, which not only astonished his people, as was said, but surprised himself. He went so far in defence of the rights of man, that he put his foot into several heresies, for which men had been burned so often, it was time, if ever it could be, to acknowledge the demonstration of the argumentum ad ignem. He did not believe in the responsibility of idiots. He did not believe a new-born infant was morally answerable for other people's acts. He thought a man with a crooked spine would never be called to account for not walking erect. He thought, if the crook was in his brain, instead of his back, he could not fairly be blamed for any consequence of this natural defect, whatever lawyers or divines might call it. He argued, that, if a person inherited a perfect mind, body, and disposition, and had perfect teaching from infancy, that person could do nothing more than keep the moral law perfectly. But supposing that the Creator allows a person to be born with an hereditary or ingrafted organic tendency, and then puts this person into the hands of teachers incompetent or positively bad, is not what is called sin or transgression of the law necessarily involved in the premises? Is not a Creator bound to guard his children against the ruin which inherited ignorance might entail on them? Would it be fair for a parent to put into a child's hands the title-deeds to all its future possessions, and a bunch of matches? And are not men children, nay, babes, in the eye of Omniscience?—The minister grew bold in his questions. Had not he as good right to ask questions as Abraham?

This was the dangerous vein of speculation in which the Reverend Doctor Honeywood found himself involved, as a consequence of the suggestions forced upon him by old Sophy's communication. The truth was, the good man had got so humanized by mixing up with other people in various benevolent schemes, that, the very moment he could escape from his old scholastic abstractions, he took the side of humanity instinctively, just as the Father of the Faithful did,—all honor be to the noble old Patriarch for insisting on the worth of an honest man, and making the best terms he could for a very ill-conditioned metropolis, which might possibly, however, have contained ten righteous people, for whose sake it should be spared!

The consequence of all this was, that he was in a singular and seemingly self-contradictory state of mind when he took his hat and cane and went forth to call on his heretical brother. The old minister took it for granted that the Reverend Mr. Fairweather knew the private history of his parishioner's family. He did not reflect that there are griefs men never put into words,—that there are fears which must not be spoken,—intimate matters of consciousness which must be carried, as bullets that have been driven deep into the living tissues are sometimes carried, for a whole life-time,—encysted griefs, if we may borrow the chirurgeon's term, never to be reached, never to be seen, never to be thrown out, but to go into the dust with the frame that bore them about with it, during long years of anguish, known only to the sufferer and his Maker. Dudley Venner had talked with his minister about this child of his. But he had talked cautiously, feeling his way for sympathy, looking out for those indications of tact and judgment which would warrant him in some partial communication, at least, of the origin of his doubts and fears, and never finding them.

There was something about the Reverend Mr. Fairweather which repressed all attempts at confidential intercourse. What this something was, Dudley Venner could hardly say; but he felt it distinctly, and it sealed his lips. He never got beyond certain generalities connected with education and religious instruction. The minister could not help discovering, however, that there were difficulties connected with this girl's management, and he heard enough outside of the family to convince him that she had manifested tendencies, from an early age, at variance with the theoretical opinions he was in the habit of preaching, and in a dim way of holding for truth, as to the natural dispositions of the human being.

About this terrible fact of congenital obliquity his new beliefs began to cluster as a centre, and to take form as a crystal around its nucleus. Still, he might perhaps have struggled against them, had it not been for the little Roman Catholic chapel he passed every Sunday, on his way to the meeting-house. Such a crowd of worshippers, swarming into the pews like bees, filling all the aisles, running over at the door like berries heaped too full in the measure,—some kneeling on the steps, some standing on the side-walk, hats off, heads down, lips moving, some looking on devoutly from the other side of the street! Oh, could he have followed his own Bridget, maid of all work, into the heart of that steaming throng, and bowed his head while the priests intoned their Latin prayers! could he have snuffed up the cloud of frankincense, and felt that he was in the great ark which holds the better half of the Christian world, while all around it are wretched creatures, some struggling against the waves in leaky boats, and some on ill-connected rafts, and some with their heads just above water, thinking to ride out the flood which is to sweep the earth clean of sinners, upon their own private, individual life-preservers!

Such was the present state of mind of the Reverend Chauncy Fairweather, when his clerical brother called upon him to talk over the questions to which old Sophy had called his attention.



For the last few months, while all these various matters were going on in Rockland, the Reverend Chauncy Fairweather had been busy with the records of ancient councils and the writings of the early fathers. The more he read, the more discontented he became with the platform upon which he and his people were standing. They and he were clearly in a minority, and his deep inward longing to be with the majority was growing into an engrossing passion. He yearned especially towards the good old unquestioning, authoritative Mother Church, with her articles of faith which took away the necessity for private judgment, with her traditional forms and ceremonies, and her whole apparatus of stimulants and anodynes.

About this time he procured a breviary and kept it in his desk under the loose papers. He sent to a Catholic bookstore and obtained a small crucifix suspended from a string of beads. He ordered his new coat to be cut very narrow in the collar and to be made single-breasted. He began an informal series of religious conversations with Miss O'Brien, the young person of Irish extraction already referred to as Bridget, maid of all work. These not proving very satisfactory, he managed to fall in with Father McShane, the Catholic priest of the Rockland church. Father McShane encouraged his nibble very scientifically. It would be such a fine thing to bring over one of those Protestant heretics, and a "liberal" one too!—not that there was any real difference between them, but it sounded better to say that one of these rationalizing free-and-equal religionists had been made a convert than any of those half-way Protestants who were the slaves of catechisms instead of councils and of commentators instead of popes. The subtle priest played his disciple with his finest tackle. It was hardly necessary: when anything or anybody wishes to be caught, a bare hook and a coarse line are all that is needed.

If a man has a genuine, sincere, hearty wish to get rid of his liberty, if he is really bent upon becoming a slave, nothing can stop him. And the temptation is to some natures a very great one. Liberty is often a heavy burden on a man. It involves that necessity for perpetual choice which is the kind of labor men have always dreaded. In common life we shirk it by forming habits, which take the place of self-determination. In politics party-organization saves us the pains of much thinking before deciding how to cast our vote. In religious matters there are great multitudes watching us perpetually, each propagandist ready with his bundle of finalities, which having accepted we may be at peace. The more absolute the submission demanded, the stronger the temptation becomes to those who have been long tossed among doubts and conflicts.

So it is that in all the quiet bays which indent the shores of the great ocean of thought, at every sinking wharf, we see moored the hulks and the razees of enslaved or half-enslaved intelligences. They rock peacefully as children in their cradles on the subdued swell that comes feebly in over the bar at the harbor's mouth, slowly crusting with barnacles, pulling at their iron cables as if they really wanted to be free, but better contented to remain bound as they are. For these no more the round unwalled horizon of the open sea, the joyous breeze aloft, the furrow, the foam, the sparkle that track the rushing keel! They have escaped the dangers of the wave, and lie still henceforth, evermore. Happiest of souls, if lethargy is bliss, and palsy the chief beatitude!

America owes its political freedom to religious Protestantism. But political freedom is reacting on religious prescription with still mightier force. We wonder, therefore, when we find a soul which was born to a full sense of individual liberty, an unchallenged right of self-determination on every new alleged truth offered to its intelligence, voluntarily surrendering any portion of its liberty to a spiritual dictatorship which always proves to rest, in the last analysis, on a majority vote, nothing more nor less, commonly an old one, passed in those barbarous times when men cursed and murdered each other for differences of opinion, and of course were not in a condition to settle the beliefs of a comparatively civilized community.

In our disgust, we are liable to be intolerant. We forget that weakness is not in itself a sin. We forget that even cowardice may call for our most lenient judgment, if it spring from innate infirmity. Who of us does not look with great tenderness on the young chieftain in the "Fair Maid of Perth," when he confesses his want of courage? All of us love companionship and sympathy; some of us may love them too much. All of us are more or less imaginative in our theology. Some of us may find the aid of material symbols a comfort, if not a necessity. The boldest thinker may have his moments of languor and discouragement, when he feels as if he could willingly exchange faiths with the old beldame crossing herself at the cathedral-door,—nay, that, if he could drop all coherent thought, and lie in the flowery meadow with the brown-eyed solemnly unthinking cattle, looking up to the sky, and all their simple consciousness staining itself blue, then down to the grass, and life turning to a mere greenness, blended with confused scents of herbs,—no individual mind-movement such as men are teased with, but the great calm cattle-sense of all time and all places that know the milky smell of herds,—if he could be like these, he would be content to be driven home by the cow-boy, and share the grassy banquet of the king of ancient Babylon. Let us be very generous, then, in our judgment of those who leave the front ranks of thought for the company of the meek non-combatants who follow with the baggage and provisions. Age, illness, too much wear and tear, a half-formed paralysis, may bring any of us to this pass. But while we can think and maintain the rights of our own individuality against every human combination, let as not forget to caution all who are disposed to waver that there is a cowardice which is criminal, and a longing for rest which it is baseness to indulge. God help him over whose dead soul in his living body must be uttered the sad supplication, Requiescat in pace!

* * * * *

A knock at the Reverend Mr. Fairweather's study-door called his eyes from the book on which they were intent. He looked up, as if expecting a welcome guest.

The Reverend Pierrepont Honeywood, D.D., entered the study of the Reverend Chauncy Fairweather. He was not the expected guest. Mr. Fairweather slipped the book he was reading into a half-open drawer, and pushed in the drawer. He slid something which rattled under a paper lying on the table. He rose with a slight change of color, and welcomed, a little awkwardly, his unusual visitor.

"Good evening, Brother Fairweather!" said the Reverend Doctor, in a very cordial, good-humored way. "I hope I am not spoiling one of those eloquent sermons I never have a chance to hear."

"Not at all, not at all," the younger clergyman answered, in a languid tone, with a kind of habitual half-querulousness which belonged to it,—the vocal expression which we meet with now and then, and which says as plainly as so many words could say it, "I am a suffering individual. I am persistently undervalued, wronged, and imposed upon by mankind and the powers of the universe generally. But I endure all. I endure you. Speak. I listen. It is a burden to me, but I even approve. I sacrifice myself. Behold this movement of my lips! It is a smile."

The Reverend Doctor knew this forlorn way of Mr. Fairweather's, and was not troubled by it. He proceeded to relate the circumstances of his visit from the old black woman, and the fear she was in about the young girl, who being a parishioner of Mr. Fairweather's, he had thought it best to come over and speak to him about old Sophy's fears and fancies.

In telling the old woman's story, he alluded only vaguely to those peculiar circumstances to which she had attributed so much importance, taking it for granted that the other minister must be familiar with the whole series of incidents she had related. The old minister was mistaken, as we have before seen. Mr. Fairweather had been settled in the place only about ten years, and, if he had heard a strange hint now and then about Elsie, had never considered it as anything more than idle and ignorant, if not malicious, village-gossip. All that he fully understood was that this had been a perverse and unmanageable child, and that the extraordinary care which had been bestowed on her had been so far thrown away that she was a dangerous, self-willed girl, whom all feared and almost all shunned, as if she carried with her some malignant influence.

He replied, therefore, after hearing the story, that Elsie had always given trouble. There seemed to be a kind of natural obliquity about her. Perfectly unaccountable. A very dark case. Never amenable to good influences. Had sent her good books from the Sunday-school library. Remembered that she tore out the frontispiece of one of them, and kept it, and flung the book out of the window. It was a picture of Eve's temptation; and he recollected her saying that Eve was a good woman,—and she'd have done just so, if she'd been there. A very sad child,—very sad; bad from infancy.—He had talked himself bold, and said all at once,—

"Doctor, do you know I am almost ready to accept your doctrine of the congenital sinfulness of human nature? I am afraid that is the only thing which goes to the bottom of the difficulty."

The old minister's face did not open as approvingly as Mr. Fairweather had expected.

"Why, yes,—well,—many find comfort in it,—I believe;—there is much to be said,—there are many bad people,—and bad children,—I can't be so sure about bad babies,—though they cry very malignantly at times,—especially if they have the stomach-ache. But I really don't know how to condemn this poor Elsie; she may have impulses that act in her like instincts in the lower animals, and so not come under the bearing of our ordinary rules of judgment."

"But this depraved tendency, Doctor,—this unaccountable perverseness.
My dear Sir, I am afraid your school is in the right about human nature.
Oh, those words of the Psalmist, 'shapen in iniquity,' and the rest!
What are we to do with them,—we who teach that the soul of a child is
an unstained white tablet?"

"King David was very subject to fits of humility, and much given to self-reproaches," said the Doctor, in a rather dry way. "We owe you and your friends a good deal for calling attention to the natural graces, which, after all, may, perhaps, be considered as another form of manifestation of the divine influence. Some of our writers have pressed rather too hard on the tendencies of the human soul toward evil as such. It may be questioned whether these views have not interfered with the sound training of certain young persons, sons of clergymen and others. I am nearer of your mind about the possibility of educating children so that they shall become good Christians without any violent transition. That is what I should hope for from bringing them up 'in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.'"

The younger minister looked puzzled, but presently answered,—

"Possibly we may have called attention to some neglected truths; but, after all, I fear we must go to the old school, if we want to get at the root of the matter. I know there is an outward amiability about many young persons, some young girls especially, that seems like genuine goodness; but I have been disposed of late to lean toward your view, that these human affections, as we see them in our children,—ours, I say, though I have not the fearful responsibility of training any of my own,—are only a kind of disguised and sinful selfishness."

The old minister groaned in spirit. His heart had been softened by the sweet influences of children and grandchildren. He thought of a half-sized grave in the burial-ground, and the fine, brave, noble-hearted boy he laid in it thirty years before,—the sweet, cheerful child who had made his home all sunshine until the day when he was brought home, his long curls dripping, his fresh lips purpled in death,—foolish dear little blessed creature to throw himself into the deep water to save the drowning boy, who clung about him and carried him under! Disguised selfishness! And his granddaughter too, whose disguised selfishness was the light of his household!

"Don't call it my view!" he said, "Abstractly, perhaps, all Nature may be considered vitiated; but practically, as I see it in life, the divine grace keeps pace with the perverted instincts from infancy in many natures. Besides, this perversion itself may often be disease, bad habits transmitted, like drunkenness, or some hereditary misfortune, as with this Elsie we were talking about."

The younger minister was completely mystified. At every step he made towards the Doctor's recognized theological position, the Doctor took just one step towards his. They would cross each other soon at this rate, and might as well exchange pulpits,—as Colonel Sprowle once wished they would, it may be remembered.

The Doctor, though a much clearer-headed man, was almost equally puzzled. He turned the conversation again upon Elsie, and endeavored to make her minister feel the importance of bringing every friendly influence to bear upon her at this critical period of her life. His sympathies did not seem so lively as the Doctor could have wished. Perhaps he had vastly more important objects of solicitude in his own spiritual interests.

A knock at the door interrupted them. The Reverend Mr. Fairweather rose and went towards it. As he passed the table, his coat caught something, which came rattling to the floor. It was a crucifix with a string of beads attached. As he opened the door, the Milesian features of Father McShane presented themselves, and from their centre proceeded the clerical benediction in Irish-sounding Latin, Pax vobiscum!

The Reverend Doctor Honeywood rose and left the priest and his disciple together.

* * * * *


Autobiographical Recollections. By the late CHARLES ROBERT LESLIE, R.A. Edited, with a Prefatory Essay on Leslie as an Artist, and Selections from his Correspondence, by TOM TAYLOR, Esq., Editor of the "Autobiography of Haydon." With Portrait. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1860. pp. lviii., 363.

Those who remember the excellent judgment with which Mr. Taylor selected his material for the Autobiography of Haydon from the papers left by that artist need not be told that this work is executed with spirit and discrimination. It is a delicate task to publish just so much of the letters and reminiscences of a man lately dead as shall consist with good taste and gentlemanly feeling, to discriminate between legitimate anecdote and what at second-hand becomes tale-bearing gossip, and not to break faith with the dead by indiscreet confidences about the living. If the dead have any privilege, it ought to be that of holding their tongues; yet an unseemly fashion has prevailed lately of making them gabble for years in Diaries, Remains, Correspondences, and Recollections, perpetuating in a solid telltale record all they may have said and written thoughtlessly or in a momentary pet, giving to a fleeting whim the printed permanence of a settled opinion, and robbing the grave of what is sometimes its only consoling attribute, the dignity of reserve. We know of no more unsavory calling than this, unless it be that of the Egyptian dealers in mummy, peddling out their grandfathers to be ground into pigment. Obsequious to the last moment, the jackal makes haste to fill his belly from the ribs of his late lion almost before he is cold.

Mr. Taylor is too manly and well-bred to be guilty of any indiscretions, much more of any indecencies. He let Haydon tell his own story, nor assumed the function of a judge. And wisely, as we think; for, commonly, when men take it upon themselves uncalled, their inability to conceive the special weakness that is not theirs, (and which, perhaps, was but the negative of a strength equally alien to them.) their humanly narrow and often professionally back-attic view of character and circumstance, their easy after-dinner superiority to what was perhaps a loathing compromise with famine and the jail, fit them rather for the office of advocatus diaboli than of the justice which must be all-seeing that it may be charitable. It is so hard to see that a sin is sometimes but a thwarted and misdirected virtue! When Burns sighed that "the light that led astray was light from Heaven," he was but unconsciously repeating what a poet who of all men least needed the apology had said centuries before.

We do not admit, that, because a man has published a volume or a picture, he has published himself, excommunicated his soul from the sanctuary of privacy, and made his life as common as a tavern-threshold to every blockhead in the parish,—or that any Pharisee who kept carefully to windward of his virtues, out of the way of infection, has thereby earned the right to mismoralize his failings after he is dumbly defenceless. The moral compasses that are too short for the aberration may be, must be, unequal to the orbit. We would not deny that Burns was a chamberer and a drunkard because he was a great poet; but we would not admit that whiskey and wenches made him any the less the most richly endowed genius of his century, with just title to the love and admiration of men. It is not for us to decide whether he, who, by doubling the suggestive and associative power of any thought, fancy, feeling, or natural object, has so far added permanently to the sum of human happiness, is not as sure of a welcome and a well-done from the Infinite Fatherliness as he that has turned an honest penny by printing a catechism; but we are sure that it is a shallow cant which holds up the errors of men of genius as if they were especial warnings, and proofs of how little the rarest gifts avail. Is it intended to put men on their guard against being geniuses? That is scarcely called for till those who yield to the temptation become more numerous. Do they mean, We, too, might have been geniuses, but we chose rather to be good and dull? Self-denial is always praiseworthy, and we reconcile ourselves to the Ovid lost in consideration of the Deacon gained. But if it be meant that the danger was in the genius, we deny it altogether. Burns's genius was the one good thing he had, and it was always, as it always must be, good, and only good, the leaven of uncontaminate heaven in him that would not let him sink contentedly into the sty of oblivion with the million other tipplers and loose-livers of his century. It was his weakness of character, and not his strength or pride of intellect, that betrayed him; and to call his faults errors of genius is a mischievous fallacy. If they were, then they were no lesson for the rest of us; if they were not, to call them so is to encourage certain gin-and-water philosophers who would fain extenuate their unpleasant vices by the plea that they are the necessary complement of unusual powers,—as if the path to immortality were through the kennel, and fine verses were to be written only at the painful sacrifice of bilking your washerwoman.

We are over-fond of drawing monitory morals from the lives of gifted persons, tacking together our little ten-by-twelve pinfolds to impound breachy human nature in, but it is only because we know more than we have any business to know of the private concerns of such persons that we have the opportunity. We are thankful that the character of Shakspeare is wrapped safely away from us in un-Boswellable night. Samuel Taylor Coleridge the man stood forever in the way of Samuel Taylor Coleridge the poet and metaphysician, and the fault of the poppy-juice in his nature is laid at the door of the laudanum he bought of the apothecary. Yet all the drowsy juices of Circe's garden could not hinder De Quincey from writing his twenty-five volumes. To us nothing is more painful, and nothing seems more cruelly useless, than the parading of mortal weaknesses, especially of those to whom we are indebted for delight and teaching. For an inherent weakness has no lesson of avoidance in it, being helpless from the first, and by the doom of its own nature growing more and more helpless to the last, not more so in the example than in him who is to profit by it, and who is more likely to have his appetite flattered by good company than his fear aroused by the evil consequence. Because the swans have a vile habit of over-eating themselves, shall we nail them to the barn-door as a moral lesson to the crows?

There is, doubtless, a great deal to be taught by biography; but it is by the mistakes of men that we learn, and not by their weaknesses. To see clearly an error of judgment and its consequences may be of positive service to us in the conduct of life, while a vice of temperament concerns us not at all in private men, and only so far in statesmen and rulers as it may have been influential in history as a modifier of action, or is essential to an understanding of it as an explainer of motive.

The Autobiography of Leslie seems to us in some sort the complement of Haydon's, and throws the defiant struggle of that remarkable self-portraiture into stronger relief by the contrast of its equable good-fortune and fireside tranquillity. The causes of the wide difference in the course and the result of these two lives are on the surface and are instructive. Comparing the two men at the outset, we should have said that all the chances were on Haydon's side. If he had not genius, he had at least the temperament and external characteristics that go along with it. He had what is sometimes wanting to it in its more purely aesthetic manifestation, the ambition that spurs and the unflagging energy that seemed a guerdon of unlimited achievement. Yet the ambition fermented into love of notoriety and soured into a fraudulent self-assertion, that grew boastful as it grew distrustful of its claims and could bring less proof in support of them; the energy degenerated into impudence, evading the shame of spendthrift bankruptcy to-day by shifts that were sure to bring a more degrading exposure tomorrow; and the whole ended at last in a suicide whose tragic pang is deadened to us by the feeling that so much of the mixed motive that drove him to it as was not cowardice was a hankering after melodramatic effect, the last throb of a passion for making his name the theme of public talk, and his fate the centre of a London day's sensation. Chatterton makes us lenient to a life of fraud by the dogged and cynical uncomplainingness of the despair that drove him to cut it short; but Haydon continues his self-autopsy to the last moment, and in pulling the trigger seems to be only firing the train for an explosion that shall give him a week longer of posthumous notoriety. The egotism of Pepys was but a suppressed garrulity, which habitual caution, fostered by a period of political confusion and the mystery of office, drove inward to a kind of soliloquy in cipher; that of Montaigne was metaphysical,—in studying his own nature and noting his observations he was studying man, and that with a singular insouciance of public opinion; but Haydon appears to have written his journals with a deliberate intention of their some day advertising himself, and his most private aspirations are uttered with an eye to the world. Yet it was a genuine instinct that led him to the pen, and his lifelong succession of half-successes that are worse than defeats was due to the initial error of mistaking a passion for a power. A fine critic, a vivid sketcher of character, and a writer of singular clearness, point, and eloquence was spoiled to make an artist, sometimes noble in conception, but without sense of color, and utterly inadequate to any but the most confused expression of himself by the pencil. His very sense of the power which he was conscious of somewhere in himself harassed and hampered him, as time after time he refused to see that his failure was due, not to injustice or insensibility on the part of the world, but to his having chosen the wrong means of making his ability felt and acknowledged. His true place would have been that of Professor and Lecturer in the Royal Academy. The world is not insensible or unjust, but it knows what it wants, and will not long be put off with less. There is always a public for success; there never is, and never ought to be, for inadequacy. Haydon was in some respects a first-rate man, but the result of his anxious, restless, and laborious life was almost zero, as far as concerned its definite aims. It does not convey the moral of neglected genius, or of loose notions of money-obligations, ending in suicide, but simply of a mischosen vocation, leading sooner or later to utter and undeniable failure. Pas même académicien! Plenty of neglected geniuses have found it good to be neglected, plenty of Jeremy Diddlers (in letters and statesmanship as often as in money-matters) have lived to a serene old age, but the man who in any of the unuseful arts insists on doing what Nature never asked him to do has no place in the world. Leslie, a second-rate man in all respects, but with a genuine talent rightly directed, an obscure American, with few friends, no influential patrons, and a modesty that would never let him obtrude his claims, worked steadily forward to competence, to reputation, and the Council of the Academy. The only blunder of his life was his accepting the Professorship of Drawing at West Point, a place for which he was unsuited. But this blunder he had the good sense and courage to correct by the frank acknowledgment of resignation. Altogether his is a career as pleasant as Haydon's is painful to contemplate, the more so as we feel that his success was fairly won by honest effort directed by a contented consciousness of the conditions and limitations of his faculty.

Nothing can be more agreeable than the career of a successful artist. His employment does not force upon him the solitude of an author; it is eminently companionable; from its first design, through all the processes that bring his work to perfection, he is not shut out from the encouragement of sympathy; his success is definite and immediate; he can see it in the crowd around his work at the exhibition; and his very calling brings him into pleasant contact with beauty, taste, and (if a portrait-painter) with eminence in every department of human activity.

Leslie's passage through the world was of that equal temper which is happiest for the man and unhappiest for the biographer. With no dramatic surprises of fortune, and no great sorrows, his life had scarce any other alternation than that it went round with the earth through night and day, and would have been tame but for his necessary labor in an art which he loved wisely and with the untumultuous sentiment of an after-honey-moon constancy. We should say that his leading characteristic was Taste, an external quality, it is true, but one which is often the indication of more valuable ones lying deeper. In the conduct of life it insures tact, and in Art a certain gentlemanlike equipoise, incapable of what is deepest and highest, but secure also from the vulgar, the grotesque, and the extravagant. Leslie, we think, was more at home with Addison than with Cervantes.

His autobiographical reminiscences are very entertaining, especially that part of them which describes a voyage home to America, varied by a winter in Portugal, during the early part of his life. The Scotch captain, who, with his scanty merchant-crew, beats off a Bordeaux privateer, and then, crippled and half-sinking, clears for action with what he supposes to be a French frigate, but which turns out to be English, is a personage whose acquaintance it is pleasant to make. The sketches of life in Lisbon, too, are very lively, and the picture of the decayed Portuguese nobleman's family, for whose pride of birth an imaginary dinner-table was set every day in the parlor with the remains of the hereditary napery and plate, the numerous covers hiding nothing but the naked truth, while their common humanity, squatting on the floor in the kitchen, fished its scanty meal from an earthen pot with pewter spoons, is pathetically humorous and would have delighted Caleb Balderstone. In after-life, Leslie's profession made him acquainted with some of the best London life of his time, and the volume is full of agreeable anecdotes of Scott, Irving, Turner, Rogers, Wilkie, and many more. It contains also several letters of Irving, of no special interest, and some from a sort of Lesmahago of a room-mate of Leslie's, named Peter Powell, so queer, individual, and shrewd, that we are sorry not to have more of them and their writer. Altogether the book is one of the pleasantest we have lately met with.

The Old Battle-Ground. By J.T. TROWBRIDGE, Author of "Father Brighthopes," "Neighbor Jackwood," etc. New York: Sheldon & Company. 1860. pp. 276.

Mr. Trowbridge's previous works have made him known to a large circle of appreciating readers as a writer of originality and promise. His "Father Brighthopes" we have never read, but we have heard it spoken of as one of the most wholesome children's books ever published in America, and our knowledge of the author makes us ready to believe the favorable opinion a just one. Parts of "Neighbor Jackwood" we read with sincere relish and admiration; they showed so true an eye for Nature and so thorough an appreciation of the truly humorous elements of New England character, as distinguished from the vulgar and laughable ones. The domestic interior of the Jackwood family was drawn with remarkable truth and spirit, and all the working characters of the book on a certain average level of well-to-do rusticity were made to think and talk naturally, and were as full of honest human nature as those of the conventional modern novel are empty of it. An author who puts us in the way to form some just notion of the style of thought proper to so large a class as our New England country-people, and of the motives likely to influence their social and political conduct, does us a greater service than we are apt to admit. And the power to conceive the leading qualities that make up an average representative and to keep them always clearly in view, so as to swerve neither toward tameness nor exaggeration, is by no means common. This power, it seems to us, Mr. Trowbridge possesses in an unusual degree. The late Mr. Judd, in his remarkable romance of "Margaret," gave such a picture as has never been equalled for truth of color and poetry of conception, of certain phases of life among a half-gypsy family in the outskirts of a remote village, and growing up in the cold penumbra of our civilization and material prosperity. But his scene and characters were exceptional, or, if typical, only so of a very limited class, and his book, full of fine imagination as it is, is truly a romance, an ideal and artistic representation, rather a poem than a story of manners general and familiar enough to be called real.

Mr. Trowbridge, we think, fails in those elements of (we had almost said creative) power in which Mr. Judd was specially rich. If the latter had possessed the shaping spirit as fully as he certainly did the essential properties of imagination, he would have done for the actual, prosaic life of New England what Mr. Hawthorne has done for the ideal essence that lies behind and beneath it. But, with all his marvellous fidelity of dialect, costume, and landscape, and his firm clutch of certain individual instincts and emotions, his characters are wanting in any dramatic unity of relation to each other, and seem to be "moving about in worlds not realized," each a vivid reality in itself, but a very shadow in respect of any prevailing intention of the story. With the innate sentiments of a kind of aboriginal human nature Mr. Judd was at home; with the practical working of every-day motives he seemed strangely unfamiliar. It is just here that Mr. Trowbridge's strength and originality lie; but, with that not uncommon tendency to overvalue qualities that we do not possess, and to attempt their display, to the neglect, and sometimes at the cost, of others quite as valuable, but which seem cheap, because their exercise is easy and habitual,—and therefore, we may be sure, natural and pleasing,—he insists on being a little metaphysical and over-fine. What he means for his more elevated characters are tiresome with something of that melodramatic sentimentality with which Mr. Dickens has infected so much of the lighter literature of the day. Here and there the style suffers from that overmuchness of unessential detail and that exaggeration of particulars which Mr. Dickens brought into fashion and seems bent on wearing out of it,—a style which is called graphic and poetical by those only who do not see that it is the cheap substitute, in all respects equal to real plate, (till you try to pawn it for lasting fame,) introduced by writers against time, or who forget that to be graphic is to tell most with fewest penstrokes, and to be poetical is to suggest the particular in the universal. We earnestly hope, that, instead of trying to do what no one can do well, Mr. Trowbridge will wisely stick close to what he has shown that no one can do better.

"The Old Battle-Ground," whose name bears but an accidental relation to the story, is an interesting and well-constructed tale, in which Mr. Trowbridge has introduced what we believe is a new element in American fiction, the French Canadian. The plot is simple and not too improbable, and the characters well individualized. Here, also, Mr. Trowbridge is most successful in his treatment of the less ambitiously designed figures. The relation between the dwarf Hercules fiddler and the heroine Marie seems to be a suggestion from Victor Hugo's Quasimodo and Esmeralda, though the treatment is original and touching. Indeed, there is a good deal of pathos in the book, marred here and there with the sentimental extract of Dickens-flowers, unpleasant as patchouli. Generally, however, it has the merit of unobtrusiveness,—a rare piece of self-denial nowadays, when authors have found out, and the public has not, how very easy it is to make the public cry, and how much the simple creature likes it, as if it had not sorrows enough of its own. But it is in his more ordinary characters that Mr. Trowbridge fairly shows himself as an original and delightful author. His boys are always masterly. Nothing could be truer to Nature, more nicely distinguished as to idiosyncrasy, while alike in expression and in limited range of ideas, or more truly comic, than the two that figure in this story. Nick Whickson, too, the good-natured ne'er-do-well, who is in his own and everybody's way till he finds his natural vocation as an aid to a dealer in horses, is a capital sketch. The hypochondriac Squire Plumworthy is very good, also, in his way, though he verges once or twice on the "heavy father," with a genius for the damp handkerchief and long-lost relative line.

We are safe in assigning to Mr. Trowbridge a rank quite above that of our legion of washy novelists; he seems to have a definite purpose and an ambition for literary as well as popular success, and we hope that by study and observation he will be true to a very decided and peculiar talent. We violate no confidence in saying that the graceful poem, "At Sea," which first appeared in the "Atlantic," and which, under the name of now one, now another author, has been deservedly popular, was written by Mr. Trowbridge.


The Editors of the "Atlantic," of course, have universal knowledge (with few exceptions) at their fingers' ends,—that is, they possess an Encyclopaedia, gapped here and there by friends fond of portable information and familiar with that hydrostatic paradox in which the motion of solids up a spout is balanced by a very slender column of the liquidating medium. The once goodly row of quartos looks now like a set of mineral teeth that have essayed too closely to simulate Nature by assaulting a Boston cracker; and the intervals of vacuity among the books, as among the incisors, deprive the owner of his accustomed glibness in pronouncing himself on certain topics. Among the missing volumes is one of those in M, and accordingly our miss-information [A] on all subjects from Mabinogion to Mustard is not to be entirely relied upon. Under these painful circumstances, and with the chance of still further abstractions from our common stock of potential learning, we have engaged a staff of consulting engineers, who contract, for certain considerations, to know every useless thing from A to Z, and every obsolete one from Omega to Alpha. In these gentlemen we repose unlimited confidence in proportion to their salaries; for a considerable experience of mankind has taught us that omniscience is a much commoner and easier thing than science, especially in this favored country and under democratic institutions, which give to every man the inestimable right of knowing as much as he pleases. Everything was going on well when our Man of Science unaccountably disappeared, and our Aesthetic Editor experienced in all its terrors the Scriptural doom of being left to himself. This latter gentleman is tolerably shady in scientific matters, nay, to say sooth, light-proof, or only so far penetrable as to make darkness visible. Between science and nescience the difference seems to his mind little, if n e, and he would accept as perfectly satisfactory a statement that "the ponderability of air in a vitreous table-tipping medium (the abnormal variation being assumed as $ x-b .0000001) is exactly proportioned to the squares of the circumambient distances, provided the perihelia are equal, and the evolution of nituretted carbogen in the boomerang be carefully avoided during evaporation; the power of the parallax being represented, of course, according to the well-known theorem of Rabelais, by H.U.M. Hemsterhuysius seems to have been familiar with this pretty experiment." The above sentence being shown to the Aesthetic Editor aforesaid, he acknowledges that he sees nothing more absurd than common in it, and that the theory seems to him as worthy of trial as Hedgecock's quadrant, which he took with him once on a journey to New York, arriving safely with a single observation of the height of the steamer's funnel.

[Footnote A: MISS-INFORMATION. A higgledy-piggledy want of intelligence acquired by young misses at boarding-schools.—Supplement to Johnson's Dictionary.]

This premised, it naturally follows that the Aesthetic Editor (the July number falling to his turn) must take advantage of the absence of his Guardian Man of Science to publish an article on Meteorology. A condition of things in which the omne scibile was left entirely at his disposal, to be knocked about as he pleased, appeared to him no small omen of a near millennium; and what subject could be more suitable to begin with than the weather, a topic of general interest, (since we have no choice of weather or no,) in which exact knowledge is comfortably impossible, and in which he felt himself at home from his repeated experiments in raising the wind in order to lower the due-point? (See The Weathercock, an Essay on Rotation in Office, by Sir Airy Vane.)

Meanwhile, after the mischief was all done and a Provisional Government of Chaos Redux comfortably established in Physics, the Man of Science turns up suddenly in the following communication. [A council was called on the spot, the Autocrat in the chair, and it was decided, with only one dissenting voice, that the communication should be printed as a lesson to the peccant Editor, who, for the future, was laid under a strict interdict in respect of all and singular the onomies and ologies, and directed to consider the weather a matter altogether unprophetable, except to almanac-makers,—the said Editor to superintend such publication, and to be kept on a diet of corn-cob for the body and Sylvanus Cobb (or his own works, at his option) for the mind, till it be done. The chairman added, that for a second offence he should do penance, according to ancient usage, in a blank sheet of the Magazine, (a contribution of his own being to that end suppressed,)—a form of punishment likely to be as irksome to himself as grateful to the readers of that incomparable miscellany.]

"Abercwmdwddhwm Mine, 28th July, 1860.


"An unexpected opportunity of personally investigating a highly nauseous kind of mephitic vapor drew me and Jones suddenly hither without time to say farewell or make explanations. I made the journey in—10' by electric telegraph, and am delighted that I came, for anything more unpleasant never met my nostrils, and I am almost sure of adding a new element to the enjoyment of the scientific world.

"I have already secured several bottles-full, and shall exhibit it at the next meeting of the Association: of course you shall have a sniff in advance. I should have returned before this, but unhappily the chain by which we descended gave way a few days ago near the top, in hoisting out the first series of my observations, and as yet there has been no opportunity of replacing it. Communication with the upper world is kept up by means of a small cord, however, and in this way we are supplied with food for body and mind. As good luck would have it, our butter came down wrapped in a half-sheet of your last volume of poems, containing my old favorites, 'Modern Greece,' and the 'Ode to a Deserted Churn.' These I read aloud several times to the miners, and their longing to return sooner to a world where they could get the rest of the volume became so strong, that, as I was about to begin my fifth reading, they consented to an expedient of escape which I had already proposed once or twice in vain. This was to blow us out by means of the fire-damp. The result of the experiment I cannot yet fully report, as some confusion ensued. Jones has disappeared, having been, as I hope and believe, discharged upward, and I have found the remains of only one miner, so that it seems to have been a tolerable success, though I myself was blown inward, owing to the premature explosion of the train. In one respect the result was highly satisfactory to me personally. Jones had all along insisted that the vapor was antiphlogistic. Whichever way he went, I think (fair-minded as he is) he must be by this time convinced of his error, and I shall accordingly enter him in my Report as discharged cured. I may add, as an interesting scientific fact, that his ascent was accompanied by such a sudden and violent fall of the barometer (which he had in his lap) that the instrument was broken. This would seem to prove a considerable decrease in the weight of the atmosphere at the moment of explosion. The darkness was oppressive at first; but a happy thought occurred to me. You know Jones's poodle, and how obese he is? Well, he was shot into my lap, where he lay to all appearance dead. I had some matches in my pocket and at once kindled the end of his tail, which makes a very good candle, quite as good as average dips, tales, quales. By the light of this I proceed to note down my first series of comments as a tail-piece to your meteorological article in the July 'Atlantic,' of which we received a copy in due course, as the magazine has a large circulation among our friars miner down here.


"In glancing at the article on 'Meteorology' in the July number of the 'Atlantic Monthly,' I was so struck by the dashing style in which the writer presents what he calls the 'leading principles' of the science, that, in spite of portentous errors, I was tempted to follow his diversified flight to its very close. Reading pencil in hand, I gathered up a long list of mistakes in fact and in philosophy, of which the following specimens, although but the first fruits of a not very critical examination, may serve to illustrate the carelessness—shall I not say ignorance?—of the writer on the topics in regard to which he proposes to enlighten the general reader.

"1. According to our essayist, the weight of the atmosphere is about 43/1000ths that of the globe,—in other words, 1/23d part. Now a simple calculation, or a reference to one of the standard works on Physics, should have taught him that the weight of the entire air is less than one-millionth part of that of the earth,—that is, fifty thousand times less than he states it to be."

[We are quite sure that our (tor-)Mentor is mistaken in assuming a uniform weight for the atmosphere. It differs in different places. During our lecturing-tours, we have frequently observed an involuntary depression of the eyelids (producing almost an appearance of sleep) in a part of the audience, which we were at a loss to attribute to anything but the weight of the atmosphere. Water varies in the same way. It is hardly necessary to say that Lake Wetter derives its name from the superior quality of its dampness.]

"2. Of the specific gravity of the air he seems to be amusingly uncertain,—making it first 833 times and afterwards 770 times less than that of water; and in the same connection he says, in chosen phrase, that 'density, or closeness, is another quality of the atmosphere,'—as if it were its characteristic, and not common to all ponderable matter."

[A very neat way of arriving at specific gravity in its densest form is to distil the "funny column" of a weekly newspaper. To arrive at the desired result in the speediest way, let the operation be performed in what is known among bucolic journalists as a "humorous retort." Density and closeness should not be spoken of as equivalent terms. The former is a common quality of the human skull, rendering it impervious; whereas a man may be very close and yet capable of being stuck,—with bad paper, for example.]

"3. In mentioning the constituents of the atmosphere, he adopts without explanation the loose statement of some of the books, placing carburetted hydrogen on the same footing as to constancy and amount with carbonic acid, and making no allusion to nitric acid. Yet chemistry has shown, that, except in special localities, carburetted hydrogen occurs only as a slight trace, the existence of which in most cases is rather inferred than actually demonstrated, and that it has no important office to perform,—while nitric acid shares with ammonia in the grand function of the nourishment of plants. In a later paragraph the error is aggravated by the assertion, that 'no chemical combination of oxygen and nitrogen has ever been detected in the atmosphere, and it is presumed none will be,'—as if every flash of lightning did not produce a notable quantity of this compound, which, washed down by the rain, may be detected in almost every specimen of rain-water we meet. What would Johnstone, Boussingault, Liebig, and the other agricultural chemists say to this?"

[For complete proof on this head, be struck by lightning. For ourselves, we are convinced, and would rather have some other head taken for an experiment by way of illustration. But any of our readers who is unsatisfied has only to place himself in front of a lightning-express-train with an ordinary conductor. To insure being struck, let the experimenter provide himself amply with patent safety-rods. At least, this result is pretty sure in houses, and is worth trying out of doors.]

"In the same connection he characterizes nitrogen as a substance 'not condensible under fifty atmospheres,' leaving the reader to infer that the preceding ingredient on the list, oxygen, is condensible (liquefiable) within that limit of pressure, and that nitrogen becomes liquid at or above it; whereas neither oxygen nor nitrogen has ever yet been compressed into a liquid, although a force of more than fifty times fifty atmospheres has been brought to act upon them."

[We consider an experiment requiring twenty-five hundred atmospheres, when the thermometer marks 93° in the shade, indictable at common law. To desire more than one, under such circumstances, is unreasonable, and even wicked.]

"4. In referring to the Thermo-barometer as a means of measuring heights, the writer confounds the late Professor Edward Forbes with Professor James D. Forbes, recently of Edinburgh, but now Provost of the University of St. Andrews. The former was a great Zoölogist and Botanist, and did not occupy himself with investigations in Physics; the latter is an eminent Physicist, the author of the viscous theory of Glaciers; and it is he who made the observations here ascribed to the 'Professor Forbes, whose untimely death the friends of science have had so much reason to deplore.' The author adds the further mistake of supposing that the numerical constant, 549 feet for each degree, determined by James Forbes for Scotland, is equally correct for all latitudes."

[This hardly needed confutation. No university requires any numerical constant of height as qualification for a degree; and if they did, 549 feet would be excessive, unless, perhaps, at Warsaw, where everybody is tall enough to end in ski.]

"5. Our essayist discloses but an imperfect inkling of knowledge on the subject of capillarity in barometers, when he speaks of this complex action as equivalent to the attraction between the mercury and the glass tube; and he commits a yet graver mistake, practically speaking, in reiterating the long exploded error, that 'the weight of the atmosphere at the level of the sea is the same all over the world.' No fact in Meteorology is better established than that the mean pressure at the sea-level is different for different latitudes. In the vicinity of Cape Horn the barometer is three-fourths of an inch lower than at the Equator, and according to Schouw the pressure increases from the Equator up to a certain latitude (38°) in both hemispheres, and diminishes thence towards the Poles."

[The connection between capillarity and the fat of the common bear is well known to all manufacturers of trycoverus compounds, and they are probably right in advertising that grease of this description restores tone to the hair,—of course a fine beary tone. As the weight of the bear depends on his fat, the inference to a bear-ometer is obvious. It is a familiar fact that the bear supports life during hibernation by sucking his paws; but it may not be so generally known that the waste thus induced in the anterior extremities is restored by the moral consciousness of the animal that the fat he is so carefully hoarding is to confer a posthumous blessing on mankind. This is a touching example of the adaptation of means to end, and Shakspeare, the great natural philosopher, has made use of it for one of his most striking metaphors, where he says, "that the thought of something after death must give us paws."]

"6. Discoursing on the elasticity of the air, the writer styles it 'the most compressible of bodies,'—as if it had any advantage in this respect over the numerous other species of gaseous matter. As to the illustration which he gives, namely, that 'a glass vessel full of air, placed under a receiver and then exhausted by the air-pump, will burst into atoms,' we can only say, what every schoolboy knows, that the bursting would be inwards, unless, indeed, our meteorologist means that the external receiver was to be exhausted, and in that case he should so have expressed himself."

[The theory of exhausted receivers is, in our opinion, worthy only of the childhood of science, when chemistry and astronomy were alchemy and astrology, and people would believe anything. In this enlightened age of the universal subscription-paper, exhausted givers are familiar objects, but a receiver who finds the labors of his calling excessive is as non-existent as the harpy, his mythological prototype.]

"7. In regard to the extent to which the compression of air has been actually carried, he tells us that 'Brockhaus says that air has as yet been compressed only into one-eighth of its original bulk.' Is it possible that a writer on Meteorology is unacquainted with the well-known experiments of Dulong and Arago, and the more recent ones of Regnault, in which the compression was three times the amount here stated, or that he requires to be referred to those of Natterer, who, by a powerful condensing apparatus, has lately compressed seven hundred and twenty-six volumes of air into a single volume?"

[Any man who has succeeded in condensing seven hundred and twenty-six volumes into one deserves the applause of the reading public. We trust M. Natterer will extend his benevolent labors to all the great libraries. With the most perfect apparatus of compression, however, we doubt if contemporary literature will yield anything like so high an average as 1 in 726.]

"8. In the paragraphs devoted to the optical relations of the atmosphere, our author has shown a happy faculty for making his subject obscure. After suggesting that the refraction of the rays in the atmosphere may be due to what he calls its 'lenticular outline,' he defines refraction to be 'the bending of a ray passing obliquely from a rarer into a denser medium,'—a good enough popular definition, but for its sad defectiveness. Is he not aware that the light is also bent in penetrating obliquely from a denser into a rarer medium, as in passing from the surface of a low plain to the eye of a spectator on a neighboring mountain, and that the bending is just as great in this direction of its motion as in the other? And does he not know that it changes its course whenever it passes from a vacuum into any ponderable medium or in the opposite direction? In future attempts to make science easy, let him remember that these are all equally instances of refraction, and should be included in its definition.

"Under the same head, we are led to infer that it is only in 'the warm and moist nights of summer,' that 'the moon, as she rises above the horizon, appears much larger than when at the zenith'; and we are taught, in connection with the origin of the mirage and the spectre of the Bracken, that 'rainbows are due to this condition of the atmosphere.' If, instead of rainbows, we may be allowed to read halos, we can understand the writer, who, instead of thinking of summer showers, appears to have had a haze in his mind while penning this and other paragraphs."

[The dictum of our correspondent in regard to light passing from a ponderable medium into a vacuum requires some qualification. An exception should be made of "Spiritual Mediums," who, being flesh and blood, are of course ponderable. Now, if we represent the Medium by A, and the head of any one consulting her by B, there can be no doubt that the latter is an absolute vacuum; but it is demonstrable that nothing like light ever passed from the former to the latter. There is a closer analogy between refracted light and a Brocken spectre than our scientific friend seems willing to admit. For what follows we refer our readers to the remarkable essay of Alderman Moon, "On the Identity of Halocination and Lunacy."]

"9. As our author advances in this branch of his subject, he grows far too profound for our scientific apprehension. Giving him all credit for wishing to be clear, we confess to a sad mystification as to what he calls the 'Polarity of Light,' where a beam is described as 'revolving around poles peculiar to itself' and as producing 'beautiful spectres,' and we want new illumination from him as to his theory of colors. We agree to the statement that 'each object has a particular reflecting surface of its own,' as we cannot see how its particular surface could be the property of another,—but why this should make the surface 'throw back light at its own angle' we do not exactly fathom, and we are puzzled to know which is the owner of the said angle, the light or the surface. No one doubts that 'the modest blush which crimsons the cheek of beauty,' to use the author's words, is caused by a rush of blood to the skin; but how this produces 'a corresponding change in its angle of reflection,' and what such a change has to do with the result, are problems too transcendental for the exact sciences."

[On all questions relating to the Poles we reserve our opinion till the return of Dr. Hayes's expedition. But we think they have little to hope from any future attempt at revolution, especially with such insufficient weapons as their axes, which, though they keep up a constant stir about them, have been long superseded by the improvements of modern military science. We think our correspondent hasty in admitting that "each object has a particular reflecting surface of its own." A little inquiry among his neighbors would have satisfied him that the human brain seldom possesses anything of the kind.]

"But these specimens must suffice as indications of the general character of this attempt at popularizing science. To do this without misleading and confounding the general reader is a task which claims the largest and most exact knowledge, and the greatest perspicuity of statement, no less than a flowing style and felicitous illustration. It is a task in which true success, though apparently frequent, is in reality extremely rare."

"P.S. I had written thus far, when the fire suddenly penetrating, I suppose, to the nervous system of the poodle, he ran off, leaving me in total darkness and with no hope that his tail (like too many in the 'Atlantic') would be continued. By the brief candle of a match I manage to add this, and to subscribe myself

"Yours ever."

* * * * *



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