The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 18, No. 106, August, 1866

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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 18, No. 106, August, 1866

Author: Various

Release date: October 16, 2007 [eBook #23040]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, Josephine Paolucci and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
(This file was produced from images generously made
available by Cornell University Digital Collections).




A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by Ticknor and Fields, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

Transcriber's Note: Minor typos have been corrected and footnotes moved to the end of the article. Table of contents has been created for the HTML version.



[Pg 129]


The strictly professional man may have overcome his natural aversion to some of the most interesting objects of his study, such as snakes, and toads, and spiders, and vermin of all kinds; but people in general have always required that any attempt to force such abominations upon their notice should be preceded by a more or less elaborate and humble acknowledgment of their hideous aspect, their ferocious disposition, their dark and bloody deeds, and the utter impossibility of their conducing in any way to human comfort and convenience.

But, while admitting the truth of much that has been thus urged against spiders as a class, I must decline, or at least defer, conforming to custom in speaking of the particular variety which we are about to consider, and I believe that it will need only a glance at the insect and its silk, and a brief notice of its habits, to justify my indisposition to follow the usual routine.

Without apology, then, I shall endeavor to show that in the structure, the habits, the mode of growth, and, above all, in the productions of this spider are to be found subjects worthy the attention of every class of minds; for to the naturalist is exhibited a species which, though not absolutely new to science, was never seen nor heard of by Professor Agassiz till the spring of 1865, and which is so narrowly circumscribed in its geographical distribution that, so far as I can ascertain, it was never observed by Hentz,—a Southern entomologist, who devoted himself particularly to spiders,—and is met with only upon a few low, marshy islands on the coast of South Carolina, and perhaps of other Southern States. Its habits, too, are so interesting, and so different in many respects from those recorded of other species, that the observer of living creatures has here an abundant opportunity, not only for increasing his own knowledge, but for enlarging the domain of science. And this more especially in America; for while, in England, Blackwall and others have been laboring for more than thirty years, spiders seem to have received little attention on this side of the Atlantic.

[Pg 130]

We have now, moreover, in our observation of these insects, an incentive of sovereign effect, namely, the hope of increasing our national wealth; for to the practical man, to the manufacturer and the mechanic, is offered a new silken material which far surpasses in beauty and elegance that of the silk-worm, and which, however small in quantity at present, demands some attention in view of the alarming decrease in the silk crops of Europe. This material is obtained in a manner entirely new,—not, as with the worm, by unwinding the cocoons, nor yet, as might be suggested for the spider, by unravelling the web, but by drawing or winding or reeling directly from the body of the living insect, even as you would milk a cow, or, more aptly, as wire is pulled through a wire-drawing machine.

To the admirer of the beautiful and perfect in nature is presented a fibre of absolute smoothness, roundness, and finish, the colors of which resemble, and in the sunlight even excel in brilliancy those of the two precious metals, silver and gold; while the moralist who loves to illustrate the workings of God's providence in bringing forth good out of evil, by comparing the disgusting silk-worm with its beautiful and useful product, may now enforce the lesson by the still more striking contrast between this silk and the loathed and hated spider.

The statesman who, after a four years' war, sees few indications of a better spirit on the part of the South, and is almost ready to exclaim, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" may now perhaps discern a spot, small indeed, but brilliant, on the very edge of the dark Carolina cloud; and it may not be too much to hope that, in course of time, the cords of our spider's golden and silver silk may prove potent bonds of union with the first of the rebellious States.

As to the mathematician who believes in the inborn tendency of mankind to variation and imperfection, and holds up to us, as shining examples of mathematical accuracy, the work of certain insects, and who—since Professor Wyman has shown that the hexagonal form of the bee's cell is not of original design, but rather the necessary result of difficulties met and overcome in the most economical manner, though by no means always with perfect exactness and uniformity—has fallen back upon the ancient and still prevalent belief in the precise construction of the spider's web, (which, as will be seen, really displays it no more than does the bee's cell,)—to this disappointed man of geometry and figures is now offered the alternative of either finding a new and truer illustration, or of abandoning his position entirely.

Let us, then, wait till we have seen this spider and heard his story. His story! That reminds me of another class which may possibly be represented among my readers, and whose members, in the contemplation of the domestic economy of these insects, will, I fear, discover many and weighty arguments in favor of the various opinions entertained by the advocates of Woman's Rights; for here is a community in which the females not only far exceed the males in number, but present so great a contrast to them in size and importance, that, but for absolute proof, they never would be regarded as belonging to the same species.

Here, then, is a life-size picture of our spider and of—I was about to say, his partner; but in truth it is she who is the spider, and he is only her partner. Such is the real physical, and, so to speak, mental superiority of the female, that, even if we insist upon the legal equality at least of the masculine element, we can do so only in name, and will find it hard to avoid speaking of him as the male of the Nephila plumipes, thus tacitly admitting her as the truer representative of the species. Their relative size and appearance are shown by the figures; but it may be added that she is very handsome; the fore part of her body, which, being composed of the head and chest soldered together, is termed cephalothorax, is glossy-black and covered, except in[Pg 131] spots, with white hairs; she has also upon six of her legs one or two brushes of black hairs;—while he is an insignificant-looking insect of a dull-brown color and half-starved look, with only a few scattered bristles upon his slender limbs. He does nothing for himself, leaving her to make the web and provide the food, and even to carry him on her back when removal is necessary; but she makes up for the imposition by keeping him on short allowance and at a respectful distance, excepting when the impregnation of her eggs is necessary; and even then she is mistress of the situation, and, etiam in amoribus sæva, may afterward eat him up. But of this contrast between the two sexes, of their functions and their relations to each other, more hereafter. It is sufficient to observe that, when this spider is mentioned, and the sex is not specified, the female is always referred to.

Fig. 1. Male and Female Nephila plumipes. Fig. 1. Male and Female Nephila plumipes.

When, where, and how was this spider discovered? and why is it that we have never heard of it before? To answer these questions, we must go back three years, to the 19th of August, 1863, and to the camp of the Fifty-fifth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, on a desolate island a little south from the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, and in sight of the fortress which Gillmore had just begun to strengthen by the addition of tons of Union shot and shell, till, from tolerably strong masonry, its walls became solid earthworks which nothing could pierce or greatly injure. There, at the north end of Folly Island,—scarce wider than our camp at that point, and narrower than the magnificent beach which, at low tide, afforded ample space for the battalion drill,—I found in a tree a very large and handsome spider, whose web was at least three feet in diameter.

Glad enough to meet with anything new, and bearing in mind the interest with which, when a boy, I had watched and recorded the operations of our common house and hunting spiders, I entangled him—I didn't then know it was her, so let it pass—in the web, and carried it to my tent. The insect was very quiet, and did not attempt to escape; but presently, after crawling slowly along my sleeve, she let herself down to the floor, taking first the precaution, after the prudent fashion of most spiders, to attach to the point she left a silken line, which, as she descended, came from her body. Rather than seize the insect itself, I caught the thread and pulled. The spider was not moved, but the line readily drew out, and, being wound upon my hands, seemed so strong that I attached the end to a little quill, and, having placed the spider upon the side of the tent, lay down on my couch and turned the quill between my fingers at such a rate that in one minute six feet of silk were wound upon it. At the end of an hour and a half I estimated, with due allowance for stop-pages,[Pg 132] that I had four hundred and fifty feet, or one hundred and fifty yards, of the most brilliant and beautiful golden silk I had ever seen.

During all this operation the spider had remained perfectly quiet, but finally put an end to my proceedings by grasping the line with the tip of one of her hind legs so that it snapped. I was tired, however, and contented myself with the quantity already obtained, which now formed a raised band of gold upon the quill. This specimen is now in my possession, but has been removed from the quill to ascertain its weight, which is one third of a grain.

It is worthy of notice, perhaps, that in all this was involved no new fact, but only a happy deduction from one known ages ago; namely, that a spider, when dropping, leaves her line attached, and so allows it to be drawn from her body. Nothing was more natural than to simply reverse the position of the fixed point, and, instead of letting the spider go away from the end of her line, to take the end of her line away from her. So natural, indeed, did it seem, that my gratification at having been (as was then supposed) the first to do it was, on reflection, mixed with surprise that no one had ever thought of it before, and I am very glad to find that at least four individuals have, within the last century, pulled silk out of a spider, though of these only one, whose researches I hope to make known, regarded the matter as anything more than a curious experiment.

I had never before seen such a spider, nor even paid attention to any geometrical species; though one large black and yellow variety is, or used to be, common enough in our fields at the North. Neither had I ever heard of such a method of obtaining silk. But though my first specimen was not preserved, and a second was never seen on Folly Island, yet I was so impressed with its size and brilliant colors, and especially with the curious brushes of black hairs on its legs, that when, during the following summer, another officer described to me a great spider which was very common on Long Island, where he was stationed, I knew it was the same, and told him what I had done the year before, adding that I was sure something would come of it in time.

With leisure and many spiders at his command, this officer improved upon my suggestion, by substituting for my quill turned in the fingers a wooden cylinder worked by a crank, and by securing, at a proper distance, (between pins, I think,) one or more spiders, whose threads were guided between pins upon the cylinder. He thus produced more of the silk, winding it upon rings of hard rubber so as to make very pretty ornaments. With this simple machine I wound the silk in two grooves cut on a ring of hard rubber and parallel except at one point, where they crossed so as to form a kind of signet. Another officer now suggested and put in operation still another improvement, in the shape of the "gear-drill-stock" of our armorer's chest. This, being a machine for drilling iron, was rough in its construction and uneven in its action, but, having cog-wheels, a rapid and nearly steady motion could be given to its shaft. To this shaft he attached a little cross of rubber, and covered it with silk, which was of a silver-white color instead of golden-yellow, as in other cases. The difference in color was then supposed to depend upon individual peculiarities, but the true explanation will be given farther on. With this gear-drill-stock, upon a larger ring, one inch in diameter and three eighths of an inch in width, in a groove upon its periphery one fourth of an inch in width, and across the sides of the ring in two directions, I wound three thousand four hundred and eighty-four yards, or nearly two miles, of silk. The length was estimated by accurately determining the different dimensions of the ring where wound upon, and multiplying by this the number of revolutions of the cylinder per minute (170), and this product again by the number of minutes of actual winding (285), deducting from the gross time of winding[Pg 133] (about nine hours) each moment of stoppage for any cause.

This was late in the fall of 1864, and, our specimens being sent home, further experiments, and even thoughts upon the subject, were prevented by the expedition against the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, and the many changes of station that followed the disastrous battle of Honey Hill. But, when I was at the North in February, 1865, a friend expressed to me his confident belief that this new silken product could be made of practical utility, and advised me to make inquiries on the subject. So, before presenting it to the scientific societies, I tested the strength of the silk by attaching to a fixed point one end of a thread one four-thousandth of an inch in diameter, and tying the other end upon the arm of an accurate balance: weights were then dropped in to the amount of fifty-four grains before the line was broken. By a calculation from this, a solid bar of spider's silk, one inch in diameter, would sustain a weight of more than seventy tons; while a similar bar of steel will sustain only fifty-six, and one of iron twenty-eight tons. The specimens were then exhibited to Professors Wyman, Agassiz, and Cooke, of Harvard University, to all of whom the species of spider was unknown, though Professor Wyman has since found a single specimen among some insects collected at the South; while to them as well as to the silk-manufacturers the idea of reeling silk directly from a living insect was entirely new. The latter, of course, wished to see a quantity of it before pronouncing upon its usefulness. So most of my furlough was spent in making arrangements for securing a number of the spiders, and reeling their silk during the coming summer. These comprised six light wooden boxes with sliding fronts, each eighteen inches wide and high and one foot deep, and containing six tin trays one above another, each of which, again, held twenty-four square paper boxes two and a half inches in diameter, and with lids closed by an elastic. Into these the spiders were to be put for transportation. Then I had made a costly machine for reeling the silk, which, however, proved of no practical value.

In March, with these and other real or fancied adjuvants, (some of which proved even less useful and trustworthy than the machine,) but, above all, with a determination to put this matter to the test of actual experiment, I rejoined the regiment at Charleston, which had just fallen into our hands. It was not until April, however, that we were so situated that I could make any attempt to get spiders. Of course it was not expected that the full-grown ones should be found at that season, but the eggs or young should be abundant where the spiders had been in the summer.

Before recounting my adventures in pursuit of my spinster friends, it may be well to say a few words of the locality which they inhabited.

Fig. 2. Map of Charleston and Vicinity. Fig. 2. Map of Charleston and Vicinity.

Charleston stands upon the extremity of a narrow peninsula, between the Cooper and the Ashley Rivers. Charleston Harbor, supplied by these and some smaller streams, lies between Mt. Pleasant and Sullivan's Island on the northeast, and James and Morris Islands on the southwest. One cannot but be struck with the resemblance, so great as to be almost symmetrical, between the two sides of the harbor. Mt. Pleasant and James Island are quite high land,—high at least for the coast of South Carolina,—and are separated[Pg 134] from the mainland, the one by the Wando River, the other by Wappoo Creek; while Sullivan's Island, where stand Fort Moultrie and other Rebel batteries, corresponds almost precisely to Morris Island, both being low and sandy, and being, as it were, bent inland from the sea, with sharp points looking toward the city, their convex shores forming a rounded entrance to the harbor. Extending southward from Morris Island, and separated from it by Lighthouse Inlet, is Folly Island; and in exact correspondence to the latter, north of Sullivan's Island, and separated from it by Breach Inlet, is a similar sand-ridge called Long Island. But now occurs a difference; for while between Long and Sullivan's Islands and Christ's Church Parish is an immense salt marsh intersected by creeks, but presenting an unbroken surface, in the midst of the corresponding marsh between Morris and Folly Islands and James Island is a group of low wooded islands, the largest of which lies opposite the upper or north end of Folly Island. To this no name is given on the maps, nor is it even distinguished from the marsh. It is, however, completely surrounded by water; and, though this is in the form of creeks neither wide nor deep, yet the peculiar softness of the mud, and the absence of any landing-place except upon the side toward Folly Island, render it almost inaccessible.

To this narrow strip of land, not three miles in length, was given the name of Long Island,—perhaps by our own troops, who knew nothing of an island of the same name north of the harbor; and in case it is found that no other name belongs to it, we may properly avoid a confusion, and christen it Spider Island, in honor of the remarkable insects for whose especial benefit it seems to have been made, and which, with the exception of the mosquitoes, are its sole inhabitants.

As was said, the first spider was found on Folly Island on the 19th of August, 1863: it was also the last there seen. During the summer of 1864, many were found on Long Island (so called); and when, in the spring of 1865, our regiment was encamped on James Island near Wappoo Creek, it was toward Long Island that all my attention, so far as concerned spiders, was directed.

But first, as a bit of collateral history, and to show how easily and how far one may go astray when one of the links in the chain of argument is only an inference, let me relate that, while riding over James Island, I observed upon trees and bushes numbers of small brown bags, from half an inch to an inch and a half in diameter, pear-shaped, and suspended by strong silken cords. The bags themselves were made of a finer silk so closely woven as to resemble brown paper, and, when opened, were found to contain a mass of loose silk filled with young spiders to the number of five hundred or more. In certain localities, especially in a swampy field just outside the first line of Rebel works, they were quite abundant. I had soon collected about four hundred of them, which, by a moderate estimate, contained two hundred thousand little spiders,—quite enough, I thought, with which to commence operations. But one hot day in June I placed them all on a tray in the sun. I was called away, and on my return found my one fifth of a million young spiders dead,—baked to death.

Prior to this catastrophe, however, I had become convinced that these were not the spiders I sought. Indeed, my only reasons for thinking they might be were, first, the abundance of these cocoons in a locality so near Long Island; and, second, my own great desire that they should prove the spiders I wanted. The young spiders, it is true, did not at all resemble their supposed progenitors, as to either shape, or color, or markings; yet all of these evidently changed during growth, and would not of themselves disprove the relationship.

One day in April, however, a cocoon was found in a tree on James Island, of a very different appearance from the[Pg 135] others. It was of loose texture, and, instead of being pear-shaped, was hemispherical in form, and attached by its flat surface to the lower side of a leaf. This also contained young spiders, a little larger and a little brighter in color than the others, but really bearing no resemblance to the full-grown spiders of Long Island. This single cocoon formed the entering wedge of doubt, and soon it was clear that the only means of proof lay on Long Island itself.

But how was this to be reached? Easily enough while we were upon Folly Island and could row through the creeks to a wharf on the east side of Long Island. But now the case was altered; for between James and Long Islands was the immense marsh already mentioned, intersected by creeks, and composed of mud practically without bottom, and ranging from eighteen to twenty-three feet in depth by actual measurement. Around or over or through this marsh it was necessary to go, in order to reach Long Island, the home of the spiders.

I could easily occupy the rest of my allotted space in recounting my various attempts to reach this El Dorado, which my fancy, excited by every delay, stocked with innumerable cocoons of the kind already found so abundantly on James Island. These I expected would furnish thousands of spiders, the care of which, with the reeling of their silk, would give employment to all the freed people in South Carolina,—for even then the poor creatures were finding their way to the coast. And perhaps, I thought, some day, the Sea-Island silk may be as famous as the choice Sea-Island cotton. This hope I still cherish, together with the belief that, under certain conditions, the spiders may also be reared at the North.

After riding miles and miles in all directions in search of the readiest point of attack; after having once engaged a row-boat to go around through Stono River and meet me at the nearest point of land,—on which occasion I dismounted to give my horse a better chance of getting over a bad place in the road, and the ungrateful beast left me in the lurch and went home much faster than he came, while I, being now half-way, walked on through the marsh, and had the pleasure of sitting on a log in a pouring rain for an hour, with Long Island just on the other side of a creek over which no boat came to carry me,—after this and other disappointments, I at last made sure by going in the boat myself, and so finally reached the island. But now, to my discomfiture, after a most careful search, I saw only two or three cocoons of the kind I looked for, while the others, of loose texture, were quite abundant, and doubtless would have been found in still greater numbers but for their always being under leaves, and often at a considerable height. It was probable now that these latter cocoons contained the spiders, and that the former were a different species.

The regiment now removed to the interior of the State, and while there occurred the coup de soleil above mentioned. We remained at Orangeburg until the middle of August, and then, being stationed at Mt. Pleasant, I again made raids for spiders. Upon James Island, in the localities where during the spring the cocoons were abundant, I found many large geometrical spiders, all of one kind, but not of the kind I sought. They were bad-tempered, and their legs were so short and strong that it was not easy to handle them, while their silk was of a light, and not brilliant, yellow.

My first attempt upon Long Island was made by leaving Charleston in a boat, which, after touching at Sumter, landed me at Fort Johnson. Here I was joined by a sergeant and corporal of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts, and we walked across to a little settlement of freed people not far from Secessionville, where a boat and crew were engaged. It would be tedious to relate how, after sticking on invisible oyster-beds and mud-flats, and losing our way among the creeks, at two o'clock we found ourselves about one hundred[Pg 136] yards from the north end of the island; and how, since it was too late to try to reach the wharf on the east side, even had we been sure of the way, the two Fifty-fourth boys and myself got out of the boat and essayed to cross upon the marsh. Such a marsh! We have marshes at the North, but they are as dry land in comparison. I had seen them at the South, had stepped upon and into them, but never one like this. It was clear mud, as soft as mud could be and not run like the water that covered it at high tide. Even the tall rushes wore an unsteady look; and the few oysters upon its surface evidently required all their balancing powers to lie upon their flat sides and avoid sinking edgewise into the oozy depths. In we sank, over ankles, at the first step, and deeper and deeper till we took a second; for our only safety lay in pushing down the rushes with the inside of one foot and treading upon them, till the other could be withdrawn from its yielding bed, and a spot selected for the next step forward. I say selected, for even this mud was more firm than a hole in it filled with water and treacherously concealed by a few rushes. A misstep into one of these pitfalls brought me to my knees, and well-nigh compelled me to call for help; but a sudden and determined spring, and a friendly bunch of rushes beyond, spared me that mortification. When two thirds of the way across, and while thinking we should soon reach dry land, we came upon the edge of a creek, not wide, it is true, but with soft, slimy, sloping sides, (for banks they could not properly be called,) and no one knew how many feet of mud beneath its sluggish stream. Under ordinary circumstances I might have sounded a retreat; but, remembering that there was twice as much mud behind as before us, and feeling ourselves sinking slowly but surely in our tracks, we slid down the sides into the water. This received our bodies to the waist, the mud our legs to the knees; but we struggled through, and, after another terrible thirty yards of mud, reached Long Island. Leaving my faithful companions to rest, I struck off down the east side of the island, and soon found spiders in plenty. Stopping at the wharf, and returning upon the west side, I counted one hundred spiders in less than an hour. This was only a voyage of discovery, but I could not resist the temptation to capture one big fellow and put it in my hat, which, with the edges brought together, I was forced to carry in my teeth, for one hand was required to break down the webs stretched across my path, and the other to do battle in vain with the thousands of mosquitoes, of huge size and bloody intent, besetting me on every side. What with the extreme heat and my previous fatigue, and the dread lest my captive should escape and revenge herself upon my face while I was avoiding the nets of her friends, and the relentless attacks of their smaller but more venomous associates, it was the most uncomfortable walk imaginable. To complete my misery, the path led me out upon the marsh where I could see nothing of the boat or my companions, and whence, to reach them, I had to walk across the head of the island. Excepting the dreaded recrossing of the mud, I hardly remember how we made our way back; but by one means and another I finally reached Charleston at nine o'clock, about as disreputable-looking a medical man as ever was seen.

However, all this was soon forgotten, and, being now assured of the presence of the spiders in their former haunts, on the 30th of August, 1865, I organized a new expedition, which was to proceed entirely by water, and which consisted of a sail-boat and crew of picked volunteers. Leaving Mt. Pleasant in the morning, we crossed the harbor, and were soon lost in the meanderings of the creeks behind Morris Island. Lost is appropriate, for, once in these creeks, you know nothing, you see and hear nothing, and, if you change your course, must do so by mere guess. But the most annoying thing is, after an apparent advance of a quarter of a mile,[Pg 137] to find yourself not twenty yards from your starting-point, so tortuous are the windings of the creeks.

By dint of hard rowing (in the wrong direction, as we soon found), then by walking across Morris Island to Light-House Inlet, and still harder rowing from there to the wharf of Long Island, we succeeded in securing sixty spiders; but now arose a furious storm of wind and rain, which not only compelled our retreat, but drenched us to the skin, blew us back faster than we could row, and threatened to overturn our boat if we hoisted the sail; so slow was our progress, that it was eleven o'clock at night before we reached Mt. Pleasant. Thus ended my last and only successful raid upon Long Island.

It may seem that I have dwelt longer than was necessary upon the circumstances attending the discovery of this spider and its silk. If so, it is not merely because at that time both were new to myself and all to whom I showed them, and everything concerning them was likely to be impressed upon my mind, but also because I then hoped that the idea of obtaining silk directly from a living insect might be found of practical importance, as I still hope it may. The incidents illustrate, too, the nature of the obstacles daily encountered and overcome by our troops; for no one who has never seen or stepped into a Sea-Island marsh can realize how difficult it was for our forces to obtain a foothold in the vicinity of Charleston. This was appreciated by the old freedman whom we left in the boat while crossing the mud. "No wonder," he said, "the Yankees whipped the Rebels, if they will do such things for to catch spiders."

The sixty spiders so obtained were kept for several weeks in the little boxes in which they had been deposited when caught. Every day each box was opened, the occupant examined, and its condition, if altered, noted on the cover. They generally spun a few irregular lines on which to hang, and so remained quiet except when the boxes were opened: then, of course, they tried to escape. Half a dozen of the larger ones were placed on the window-seats and in corners of the room, where they speedily constructed webs. By preference these were stretched across the windows, illustrating one of the three principal instincts of this spider, which are, first, to seek the light; second, to ascend; and third, to take a position with the head downward.

It was now a question how they were to be fed; not so much while there, where flies were abundant, but after their arrival at the North. So, remembering that the young ones had seemed to relish blood, I took the tender liver of a chicken, cut it into little pieces, and dipped them in water, not, I am sorry to say, with any view to supply them with that fluid for the want of which they afterward perished, but in order that the bits of liver should be more easily pulled from the pins by the spiders. To my delight they greedily accepted the new food, and now I felt assured of keeping them during the winter.

Deferring, however, a more particular account of what was observed at Mt. Pleasant, until their habits and mode of life are taken up in order, it should be understood that, during our short stay, my attention was chiefly directed to getting from the spiders as much silk as possible; for it was evident that practical men would not credit the usefulness of spiders' silk until an appreciable quantity could be shown to them. The first trial of the machine with a live spider proved it an utter failure; for though quite ingenious and complicated, it had been devised with reference only to dead spiders. In regard to the arrangement (wherein lay its chief, if not sole, peculiarity) by which a thin slip of brass was sprung against a rubber band by the latter's elasticity, with a view to secure the spider's legs between them, it was found that, as the spider was alive, and, literally, kicking, and two of its legs were smaller than the rest, these were at once extricated, and the others soon followed; while, if the spring was made forcible enough to[Pg 138] hold the smaller legs, the larger were in danger of being crushed, and the spider, fearing this, often disjointed them, according to the convenient, though loose habit of most Arachnida, crabs, and other articulates. It was also proposed to secure several spiders in the above manner upon the periphery of a wheel, the revolution of which would give a twist to their conjoined threads, carried through a common eyelet upon the spindle; but this can be accomplished without the inconvenience of whirling the spiders out of sight, by modifications of the apparatus which has always been used for twisting ordinary silk. It will probably be inferred from the above, that, in securing the spider, two points are to be considered; first, to prevent its escape, and second, so to confine the legs that it cannot reach with their tips either the silk or the spinners. Now the machine accomplished this by putting all the legs together in a vice, as it were, entailing upon the captive much discomfort and perhaps the loss of some of its legs, which, though eight in number, are each appropriated to a special use by their possessor.

So, abandoning the machine, I fell back upon a simple reel, and a modification of my little contrivance of the previous year; which was, to grasp the spider by all the legs, holding them behind her back, and to let her body down into a deep notch or slot cut in a thin card, the edges of which reached the constriction between the two regions of the body, the cephalothorax and abdomen; so that, when a second piece of card was let down upon it, the cephalothorax, with the legs of the spider, was upon one side of a partition, while on the other was the abdomen, bearing upon its posterior extremity the spinning organs. The head and horns of a cow to be milked are secured in a similar manner. By placing in a row, or one behind another, several spiders thus secured, a compound thread was simultaneously obtained from them, and wound upon a spindle of hard rubber.

By this means were produced several very handsome bands of bright yellow silk; but the time was so short, and the means of constructing and improving my apparatus so deficient, that I could procure no more than these few specimens, which were very beautiful, and shone in the sun like polished and almost translucent gold; but which, being wound upon a cylinder only an inch in diameter, and from several spiders at different times, could not be unwound, and so made of any further use.

I tried now to ascertain how much silk could be obtained from a single spider at once. It will be remembered that the first specimen, wound on Folly Island, was one hundred and fifty yards in length, and weighed one third of a grain. I now exhausted the supply of a spider for three days, using the same spindle, one inch in diameter, and turning this at the rate of one hundred and sixty times per minute. On the first day I reeled for twenty minutes, which gave two hundred and sixty-six and two thirds yards; on the third day, the second being Sunday, for twenty-five minutes, giving three hundred and thirty-three and one third yards; and on the fourth day, for eighteen minutes, giving two hundred and thirty-three and one third yards,—amounting in all to eight hundred and thirty-three and one third yards in three or four days. This was all that could be got, and the spider herself seemed unable to evolve any more; but on killing her and opening her abdomen, plenty of the gum was found in the little silk bags into which it is secreted. As this has always been the case, I have concluded that the evolution of the silk is almost entirely a mechanical process, which is but little controlled by the spinners themselves, and that the gum requires some degree of preparation after it is secreted before it is fit for use as silk; for it must be remembered that with the spider, as with the silk-worm, the silk is formed and contained in little bags or glands in the abdomen, not as threads, but as a very viscid gum. This passes in little tubes or ducts to the spinners, through minute openings, in which it is drawn out into filaments,[Pg 139] uniting and drying instantly in the air, and so forming the single fibre from each spinner.

The silk obtained the first day was of a deep yellow; to my great astonishment, the second reeling from the same spider gave silk of a brilliant silver-white color; while on the third occasion, as if by magic, the color had changed again, and I got only yellow silk. The hypothesis of individual peculiarity, adopted the previous year to explain why some spiders gave yellow, and others white silk, was now untenable; and, remembering that, beside these two positive colors there was also (and indeed more commonly) a light yellow, as if a combination of the other two, I saw that the real solution of the mystery must lie in the spinners themselves. Examining carefully the thread as it came from the body, it was seen to be composed of two distinct portions, differing materially in their size, their color, their elasticity, and their relative position; for one of them was white and inelastic, crinkling and flying up when relaxed, and seemed to proceed from the posterior of the two principal pairs of spinners, while the other was larger, yellow, so elastic that when relaxed it kept its direction, and seemed to come from the anterior pair of spinners, and so, in the inverted position of the spider, was above the other. By putting a spider under the influence of chloroform, and then carrying the first thread under a pin stuck in a cork to one part of a spindle, and the second or yellow line over another pin to a different part of the spindle, I reeled off from the same spider, at the same time, two distinct bands of silk, of which one was a deep golden-yellow, the other a bright silver-white; while, if both threads ran together, there was formed a band of light yellow from the union of the two. Thinking such a difference must subserve some use in the economy of the insect, I made a more careful examination of its webs. At first sight these resembled those of most geometrical spiders, in being broad, rounded, nearly vertical nets; but they were unusually large, and in their native woods often stretched between trees and across the paths, so as to be two, three, and even more, feet in diameter, and in my room at Mt. Pleasant hung like curtains before the windows. They were of a bright yellow color and very viscid; but now I noticed that neither the color nor the viscidity pertained to the entire net, for although the concentric circles constituting the principal part of the web were yellow, and very elastic, and studded with little beads of gum, (Fig 3,) yet the diverging lines or radii of the wheel-shaped structure, with all the guys and stays by which it was suspended and braced, were dry and inelastic, and of a white or lighter yellow color.

Fig. 3. Silk threads, viscid and dry. Fig. 3. Silk threads, viscid and dry.

Now, however, a new mystery presented itself. We will admit that the spider had the power, not only to vary the size of her lines according to the number of spinners, or of the minute holes in each spinner, which were applied to the surface whence the line was to proceed, but also to make use of either golden or silver silk at will. But how was it that this yellow silk—which was quite dry and firm, though elastic, as reeled from the spider, or as spun by her in the formation of her cocoons—was nevertheless, when used for the concentric circles of the web, so viscid as to follow the point of a pin, stretching in so doing many times its length? A satisfactory explanation of this has never yet been offered, nor can be until the minute anatomy of the spinning organs is better understood, and the evolution of the silk more carefully observed[Pg 140] at every stage, and under all conditions. I will merely state very briefly the few facts already established, with some of the possible explanations.

The spinning mammulæ are placed in pairs at the lower part of the abdomen, near its hinder end, and number four, six, or eight in different species. They are little conical or cylindrical papillæ, closely resembling the pro-legs of caterpillars, and are composed of two or three joints, the terminal one of which is pierced with a greater or less number of minute holes, the sides of these, in some, if not all, cases, being prolonged into tubes. Through these holes or tubes issue the fine filaments, which, uniting as they dry in the air, constitute the line from each spinner.

Fig. 4. Spinners. Fig. 4. Spinners.

Now the Nephila plumipes possesses at least three pairs of spinners. Of these, two are much larger than the third, which indeed does not appear till they are separated. From the posterior of the two largest pairs seems to proceed the white, and from the anterior the yellow silk, while from the small intermediate pair seem to proceed very fine filaments of a pale-blue color, the use of which is to envelop the prey after it has been seized and killed, being drawn out by the bristles near the tips of the spider's hinder legs. Beside these six papillæ there is, just in front of the anterior pair, a single small papilla on the middle line, the nature and use of which I have not ascertained, though I feel quite sure that no silk comes from it. The large median papilla, just behind the posterior pair, surrounds the termination of the intestines, and through it the excrement is voided, the insect for this purpose turning back the abdomen as she hangs head downward, so that neither the web nor the spinners shall be contaminated. Now it has recently been ascertained that the minute globules with which the circles are studded, and the number of which on a web of average size is estimated at one hundred thousand, do not exist in that form when the viscid lines are first spun by the spider, but as a uniform coating of gum upon a thread; this gum, of itself and according to physical laws, soon exhibits little undulations, and then separates into the globules which have long been observed and supposed to be formed by the spider. The fact of spiders selecting the night for the construction of their webs, the difficulty of making any close observations upon them while so engaged without disturbing them, and the near approximation of the two larger pairs of spinners while the viscid line is slowly drawn out by the hind leg, have hitherto prevented my determining its exact source and manner of formation. If it comes from the anterior pair only, then one and the same organ has the power of evolving a central axis and covering it with viscid gum; and it seems less improbable that the axis is white and formed by the posterior pair, the yellow gum being spread upon it by the anterior pair, which also would then have the power to evolve this same gum at other times as an equally dry, though more elastic thread. But in either case we have only three pairs of spinners and four kinds of silk, the pale-blue fasciculi the dry white, the dry yellow, and the viscid and very elastic silk which is employed only in the circles of the web, and which often does not become yellow till after exposure to the light. Apparently the surest method of investigation will be carefully to destroy one pair of spinners at a time without injuring the others, and then note the effect upon the spinning.

Let us go back now to the sixty spiders left at Mt. Pleasant. A few of these died on the way North, but the majority reached Boston in safety about the 20th of September, 1865;[Pg 141] for some time I had observed that they all were becoming more or less emaciated, and relished their food less than at first. Occasionally one died from no apparent cause. The mortality increasing toward the end of the month, and all of them losing both flesh and vigor, I was persuaded to try them with water,—a thing I had thus far declined to do, never having heard of a spider's drinking water, and knowing that our common house species can hardly get it at all. The result was most gratifying: a drop of water upon the tip of a camel's-hair pencil, not only was not avoided, but greedily seized and slowly swallowed, being held between the jaws and the palpi. All of the spiders took it, and some even five or six drops in succession. You will exclaim, "Poor things! what tortures they must have suffered!" I admit that it could not have been pleasant for them to go so long without that which they crave every day, but I cannot believe that creatures whose legs drop off on very slight provocation, and which never show any sign whatever of real pain, suffered very acute pangs even when subjected to what occasions such distress to ourselves.

The few survivors straightway improved in health and spirits; but being now convinced that a moist atmosphere was almost as needful as water to drink, I turned them loose in the north wing of the hot-house in Dr. Gray's Botanical Garden at Cambridge. They all mysteriously disappeared, excepting one, which made a nice web at one end just under the ridge-pole, and for several weeks lived and grew fat upon the flies; but a thorough fumigation of the house with tobacco so shocked her not yet civilized organization that she died.

Her untimely death, however, afforded opportunity for a closer examination of the web itself. The first one she had made was not vertical; and, following the prevalent ideas as to the precise construction of the spider's web, I had felt somewhat ashamed of my pet, but supposed the next she made would be an improvement. But no, the rebellious insect constantly made them all (for, it should have been said before, this spider seldom uses the same web more than forty-eight hours) after the same manner, and finally I laid it to a depraved idiocrasy, incident to captivity and poor health. But now another and most unexpected feature developed itself; for, on attempting to remove the last web by placing against it a large wire ring, and cutting the guy-lines, I found that this most degenerate spider had not only failed to make her house perpendicular, but had so far departed from the traditions of our ancestors as to have the centre thereof decidedly eccentric, and four times as near the upper as the lower border of the web, so that its upper portion was only a confused array of irregular lines, which it was impossible to secure to the frame. For any accurate observation my web was of no value. But perhaps this was best; for had I then learned what I have since, that our spider utterly ignores every precedent, not only in the position and shape of her web, but also in its minute arrangement, I might have been so affected by her evident bad character and radical proclivities, as to have feared paying her any further attentions,—much more, presenting her to the world.

But in order to understand how these further discoveries were made, we must again go back to the original sixty spiders in my room at Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

At the time of their capture, I had observed upon a few of the webs little brown spiders, which I then imagined might be the half-grown young. Six of these were found among the sixty larger spiders, and a moment's examination of their palpi or feelers (Fig. 5) showed that they were males, though even then I could not believe they had reached their maturity; for their bodies were only about one fourth of an inch in length, and weighed only one thirty-second part of a grain, while the females were from an inch to an inch and a quarter in length, and weighed from three to four grains. It was as absurd[Pg 142] as if a man weighing one hundred and fifty pounds were joined to a bigger half of eighteen thousand pounds' weight, and I was not fully convinced that these small spiders were really the males of the Nephila plumipes till I had witnessed the impregnation of the eggs of the females by them.

Fig. 5. Palpi, or Feelers. Fig. 5. Palpi, or Feelers.

One morning, in the cell of a large female, I found a cocoon of beautiful yellow silk containing a rounded mass of eggs. Soon the same occurred with other females, and there were fifteen cocoons, which would give about seven thousand spiders. Early in October, just one month after they were laid, the eggs of the first cocoon were broken and disclosed little spiders with rounded yellow bodies and short legs, looking about as little like their parents as could be imagined. The eggs in the other cocoons followed in their order, and now each contained four or five hundred little spiders closely packed.

For some time they seemed to eat nothing at all; but within a few days all had shed their skins, and now the abdomen was smaller, while the cephalothorax and legs were larger and darker; but they showed no desire to leave their cocoons. Still they grew perceptibly; and coincident with this was a less pleasing fact: their numbers were decreasing in the same proportion, and occasionally one was seen eating another. It was some time before I could reconcile the good temper and quiet behavior of the parents with this instinctive and habitual fratricide on the part of their children. But look at it in this way: here were several hundred active little creatures in a space just large enough to contain them; presently they were hungry, and as no two could be of exactly the same size, the smaller and weaker naturally fell a prey to their larger brethren, or rather sisters, for either very few males are hatched, or else they are particularly good eating, and a very small proportion survive the perils of infancy. It is evidently an established and well-understood thing among them: all seem to be aware of their destiny, to eat or be eaten. What else can they do? Human beings would do the same under the same circumstances; and I have never seen the least sign of personal spite or malignity in the spider. There is no pursuit, for there is no escape; and we can only conclude that, as the new-born fish's first nourishment is the contents of the yolk-sac, partly outside, though still a portion of its body, so the first food of the young spiders is, if not themselves, the next best thing,—each other. Thus it is provided that the smaller and less vigorous shall furnish food for the larger until the latter are strong enough to venture forth in search of other means of support.

In consequence of this mutual destruction, aided materially by the depredations of birds and of other insects, and by exposure to the weather, only about one per cent of those hatched reach maturity. If properly protected, however, a far larger proportion may be saved; and as their multiplication is so rapid, no fear need be entertained of a limit to the supply.

By keeping these little spiders in glass jars, inverted, and with a wet sponge at the bottom, they were easily watched and cared for. At first only about one twentieth of an inch long and nearly as wide, they increased in length as they grew, but for many weeks lived in common on an irregular web, feeding together on the crushed flies or bugs thrown to them. But when one fourth of an inch in length, they showed a disposition to separate, and to spin each for herself a regular[Pg 143] web, out of which all intruders were kept. And now it was found that all these webs were inclined at nearly the same angle, and were never exactly vertical; that, like the spider in the first web she made in the Botanical Garden, the insect took a position much nearer the upper than the lower border; and also that, instead of a web of perfect circles laid upon regular radii, as used to be described and is still figured in our books, or even one of a spiral line, as is now more correctly described of ordinary geometrical spiders (Fig. 6), these never made a circle, nor even a spiral, but a series of concentric loops or arcs of circles, the lines turning back upon themselves before reaching a point over the spider, and leaving the larger portion of the web below her; and more than this, that the lines, though quite regular, were by no means perfectly so, as may be seen in Fig. 7, copied from a photograph.

Fig. 6. Web of common Garden Spider. Fig. 6. Web of common Garden Spider.
Fig. 7. Web of Nephila plumipes. Fig. 7. Web of Nephila plumipes.

As usual, the radii, or spokes, of the wheel-shaped structure are first made; then the spider begins a little way from the centre, and, passing from one radius to another, spins a series of loops at considerable distances from each other till she reaches the circumference. These first loops, like the radii, are of white, dry, and inelastic silk, and may be recognized by the little notches at their junction with the radii. The notches are made by the spider's drawing her body a little inward toward the centre of the web at the time of attaching them to the radii, and so they always point in the direction in which the spider is moving at that time, and in opposite directions on any two successive lines (Fig. 8). Having reached what is to be the border of her web, and thus constructed a firm framework or scaffolding, she begins to retrace her steps, moving more slowly and spinning now in the intervals of the dry loops two or three similar loops, but much nearer together and made of the elastic and viscid silk, till she has again reached her starting-point near the middle of the web, where, on its under side, she takes a position, head downward, hanging by her claws, and thus keeping her body from direct contact with the web.

Fig. 8. Section of Web. Fig. 8. Section of Web.

[Pg 144]

Here she will remain quiet for hours as if asleep; but no sooner does a fly or other insect strike the web, than she darts in the direction whence the vibrations proceed, and usually seizes her prey; but, strangely enough, if the insect have ceased its struggles before she reaches it, she stops, and if she cannot renew them by shaking the web with her claws, will slowly and disconsolately return to the centre of the web, there to await fresh vibrations. These and many other facts, even more conclusive, have satisfied me that, although this spider has eight eyes (Fig. 9), it is as blind as a man with his eyelids shut, and can only distinguish light from darkness, nothing more. This seems to be the case with other geometrical species, but not at all with the field and hunting spiders, some of which will boldly turn upon you and look right in your eyes; they alone, of all insects, seeming to recognize the face of man as different from his body.

Fig. 9. Face and Jaws, magnified (eyes dimly seen). Fig. 9. Face and Jaws, magnified (eyes dimly seen).

The hearing and touch of this spider are very acute. The latter is exercised by the palpi and the tips of the legs, especially the first pair, but no ear has yet been discovered; neither is anything known of the organs of taste and smell, or even whether the insect possesses these senses at all.

I ought before this to have anticipated and answered a question which nine out of ten, perhaps, of my readers have already asked themselves, "Do not spiders bite? and is not their bite poisonous, nay, at times, deadly even to man?" The answer is, in brief, Yes, spiders do bite, probably all of them, if provoked and so confined that they cannot escape; though only a few tropical species can be said to seek of their own accord an opportunity for attacking man, or any creature larger than the insects that form their natural prey. Even the Nephila plumipes, which, it has been intimated, is "Christian in its disposition, and well-behaved beyond most of its kind," will readily bite, if it is held in the fingers and anything is put to its jaws. But that is nothing. So would you, most gentle reader, if a great giant pinched you between his thumb and finger, and held your hands and feet and head; and if, too, like our spider, you could not see enough to distinguish friends from foes. Spiders, then, will bite. But to the second part of the inquiry our answer must be less positive. They have a very bad name; but much of this is due to their grim and forbidding aspect, and their bloody trade of trapping and eating poor little insects. It is to be remembered that there are very few, if any, medical reports of injuries from the bites of spiders, and that the accounts of such cases occurring in the newspapers consist in great measure of inference, and either make no mention of the offender at all, or merely speak of a little black or gray spider being found in the vicinity. A number of experiments have been made in England to ascertain the effect of the bite of the larger geometrical spiders upon the experimenter himself, upon other spiders, and upon common insects; and the conclusion was, that it produces no greater effect than the prick of a pin, or any other injury of equal extent and severity; while the speedy death of its victim is ascribed to the spider's sucking its juices, rather than to any poison instilled into the wound. But these experiments, though somewhat reassuring, are not conclusive; for they were tried only on one person, and people vary much in their susceptibility to poison of all kinds; moreover, the spiders employed were of the geometrical kinds, which have never been so much feared as the larger field and hunting spiders. Indeed, it may be found that among spiders there is as great a difference in respect to venom as among serpents, and that those which depend upon their jaws for taking and holding their prey, such as the[Pg 145] field and hunting spiders, are poisonous, while the web-builders which ensnare their victims are not so. In regard to our spiders, I have caused a large one to bite, so as to draw blood, a kitten three days old, and the kitten has not appeared to suffer in the least on that account.

They are very quiet insects, and never appear disturbed at what goes on about them; neither do they run away and hide in holes and corners, like our common spiders; but if their webs are injured, or they are startled by a noise, they will shake themselves from side to side in their webs, so as to be wholly invisible. Their natural food is insects of all kinds; but they soon learn to eat soft flesh, such as the liver of chickens, for which, as well as for water, they will sometimes stretch themselves and turn in their webs so as to take it from the point of a pin or camel's-hair pencil. Besides water to drink, they require an atmosphere saturated with moisture, like that of their native island, the relative humidity being about seventy on the Hygrodeik scale. If stroked upon the back, they often raise their bodies as a cat does, and sometimes put back a leg to push away your finger. They may be allowed to run over one's person with perfect safety, but, if suddenly seized, will hold on with tooth as well as nail.

They are quite economical, and every few days, when the web has become too dry and dusty for use, will gather it up in a mass, which they stuff into their jaws and masticate for hours, swallowing the gum, but throwing out the rest, with the little particles of dust, in the form of a hard black pellet,—an instance rare, if not indeed unique, of an animal eating a substance already excreted from its body.

Here I must close, though much against my will. It would please me to describe, as it has almost fascinated me to observe, the doings of my spiders, as they grew older and made their webs in the Wardian cases to which they were removed when too many and too large for the jars; how the young are gregarious, and move from place to place in a close column, protected on all sides by skirmishers, which continually report to the main body; how some of these young, whose parents were caught on Long Island, South Carolina, a year ago, and which were hatched from the egg in October last, have grown up during a Northern winter, have themselves become parents and laid eggs; how they periodically cast off their skins, even to that of the eyes, the jaws, and the breathing tubes, and how, from too great impatience, sad accidents sometimes befall them on these occasions; how, also, I have reeled silk from several of these spiders, and made a thread which has been woven in a power-loom as a woof or filling upon a warp of common black silk, so as to make a bit of ribbon two inches wide, thereby proving that it is real silk and can be treated as such.

Much, too, could be said of the only other attempts to utilize spiders' silk, a knowledge of which would have materially aided me. In France, one hundred and fifty years ago, M. Bon made gloves and stockings of silk got by carding spiders' cocoons, and seventy years later, as I have but recently ascertained, Termeyer, a Spaniard, not only used the cocoons, but also, by an observation similar to my own, was led to reel the silk from the living insect. He, however, had poorer spiders or too little perseverance, or friends and a government influenced by a most short-sighted economy and prudence, else the highly interesting and instructive account of his experiments would have been familiar to some one in this country, and would not have waited these many years to be found by accident last spring in an obscure corner of the Astor Library.

I will add, finally, that I believe some other geometrical spiders, especially of the genus Nephila, may be found as docile, and as productive of beautiful silk, as the species I have described. At any rate, you cannot find a more interesting inmate of your Wardian case than some large geometrical spider.

[Pg 146]


I could not have been more than seven or eight years old, when it happened; but it might have been yesterday. Among all other childish memories, it stands alone. To this very day it brings with it the old, utter sinking of the heart, and the old, dull sense of mystery.

To read the story, you should have known my mother. To understand it, you should understand her. But that is quite impossible now, for there is a quiet spot over the hill, and past the church, and beside the little brook where the crimsoned mosses grow thick and wet and cool, from which I cannot call her. It is all I have left of her now. But after all, it is not of her that you will chiefly care to hear. The object of my story is simply to acquaint you with a few facts, which, though interwoven with the events of her life, are quite independent of it as objects of interest. It is, I know, only my own heart that makes these pages a memorial,—but, you see, I cannot help it.

Yet, I confess, no glamour of any earthly love has ever utterly dazzled me,—not even hers. Of imperfections, of mistakes, of sins, I knew she was guilty. I know it now,—even with the sanctity of those crimsoned mosses, and the hush of the rest beneath, so close to my heart, I cannot forget them. Yet somehow—I do not know how—the imperfections, the mistakes, the very sins, bring her nearer to me as the years slip by, and make her dearer.

The key to her life is the key to my story. That given, as I can give it, I will try to compress. It lies in the fact that my mother was what we call an aristocrat, I do not like the term, as the term is used. I am sure she does not now; but I have no other word. She was a royal-looking woman, and she had the blood of princes in her veins. Generations back—how we children used to reckon the thing over!—she was cradled in a throne. A miserable race, to be sure, they were,—the Stuarts; and the most devout genealogist might deem it dubious honor to own them for great-grandfathers by innumerable degrees removed. So she used to tell us, over and over, as a damper on our childish vanity, looking such a very queen as she spoke, in every play of feature, and every motion of her hand, that it was the old story of preachers who did not practise. The very baby was proud of her. The beauty of a face, and the elegant repose of a manner, are by no means influences more unfelt at three years than at thirty.

As insanity will hide itself away, and lie sleeping, and die out,—while old men are gathered to their fathers scathless, and young men follow in their footsteps safe and free,—and start into life, and claim its own when children's children have forgotten it; as a single trait of a single scholar in a race of clods will bury itself in day-laborers and criminals, unto the third and fourth generation, and spring then, like a creation from a chaos, into statesmen and poets and sculptors;—so, I have sometimes fancied, the better and truer nature of voluptuaries and tyrants was sifted down through the years, and purified in our little New England home, and the essential autocracy of monarchical blood refined and ennobled in my mother into royalty.

A broad and liberal culture had moulded her; she knew its worth, in every fibre of her heart; scholarly parents had blessed her with their legacies of scholarly mind and name. With the soul of an artist, she quivered under every grace and every defect; and the blessing of a beauty as rare as rich had been given to her. With every instinct of her nature recoiling from the very shadow of crimes the world winks at, as from a loathsome reptile, the family record had been[Pg 147] stainless for a generation. God had indeed blessed her; but the very blessing was a temptation.

I knew, before she left me, what she might have been, but for the merciful and tender watch of Him who was despised and rejected of men. I know, for she told me, one still night when we were alone together, how she sometimes shuddered at herself, and what those daily and hourly struggles between her nature and her Christianity meant.

I think we were as near to one another as mother and daughter can be; but yet as utterly different. Since I have been talking in such lordly style of those miserable Jameses and Charleses, I will take the opportunity to confess that I have inherited my father's thorough-going democracy,—double measure, pressed down and running over. She not only pardoned it, but I think she loved it in me, for his sake.

It was about a year and a half, I think, after he died, that she sent for Aunt Alice to come to Creston. "Your aunt loves me," she said, when she told us in her quiet way, "and I am so lonely now."

They had been the only children, and they loved each other,—how much, I afterwards knew. And how much they love each other now, I like to think,—quite freely and fully, and without shadow or doubt between them, I dare to hope.

A picture of Aunt Alice always hung in mother's room. It was taken down years ago. I never asked her where she put it. I remember it, though, quite well; for mother's sake I am glad I do. For it was a pleasant face to look upon, and a young, pure, happy face,—beautiful too, though with none of the regal beauty crowned by my mother's massive hair, and pencilled brows. It was a timid, girlish face, with reverent eyes, and ripe, tremulous lips,—weak lips, as I remember them. From babyhood, I felt a want in the face. I had, of course, no capacity to define it; it was represented to me only by the fact that it differed from my mother's.

She was teaching school out West when mother sent for her. I saw the letter. It was just like my mother:—"Alice, I need you. You and I ought to have but one home now. Will you come?"

I saw, too, a bit of a postscript to the answer,—"I'm not fit that you should love me so, Marie."

And how mother laughed at it!

When it was all settled, and the waiting weeks became at last a single day, I hardly knew my mother. She was in her early married years; she was a girl; she was a child; she was every young thing, and merry thing, that she could have ever been. So full of fitful moods, and little fantastic jokes! such a flush on her cheeks too, as she ran to the window every five minutes, like a child! I remember how we went all over the house together, she and I, to see that everything looked neat, and bright, and welcome. And how we lingered in the guest-room, to put the little finishing touches to its stillness, and coolness, and coseyness. The best spread on the bed, and the white folds smoothed as only mother's fingers could smooth them; the curtain freshly washed, and looped with its crimson cord; the blinds drawn, cool and green; the late afternoon sunlight slanting through, in flecks upon the floor. Flowers, too, upon the table. I remember they were all white,—lilies of the valley, I think; and the vase of Parian marble, itself a solitary lily, unfolding stainless leaves. Over the mantle she had hung the finest picture in the house,—an "Ecce Homo," and an exquisite engraving. It used to hang in grandmother's room in the old house. We children wondered a little that she took it up stairs.

"I want your aunt to feel at home, and see home things," she said. "I wish I could think of something more to make it pleasant in here."

Just as we left the room she turned and looked into it. "Pleasant, isn't it? I am so glad, Sarah," her eyes[Pg 148] dimming a little. "She's a very dear sister to me."

She stepped in again to raise a stem of the lilies that had fallen from the vase, and lay like wax upon the table, then she shut the door and came away.

That door was shut just so for years; the lonely bars of sunlight flecked the solitude of the room, and the lilies faded on the table. We children passed it with hushed footfall, and shrank from it at twilight, as from a room that held the dead. But into it we never went.

Mother was tired out that afternoon; for she had been on her feet all day, busied in her loving cares to make our simple home as pleasant and as welcome as home could be. But yet she stopped to dress us in our Sunday clothes,—and no sinecure was it to dress three persistently undressable children; Winthrop was a host in himself. "Auntie must see us look our prettiest," she said.

She was a picture herself when she came down. She had taken off her widow's cap and coiled her heavy hair low in her neck, and she always looked like a queen in that lustreless black silk. I do not know why these little things should have made such an impression on me then. They are priceless to me now. I remember how she looked, framed there in the doorway, while we were watching for the coach,—the late light ebbing in golden tides over the grass at her feet, and touching her face now and then through the branches of trees, her head bent a little, with eager, parted lips, and the girlish color on her cheeks, her hand shading her eyes as they strained for a sight of the lumbering coach. She must have been a magnificent woman when she was young,—not unlike, I have heard it said, to that far-off ancestress whose name she bore, and whose sorrowful story has made her sorrowful beauty immortal. Somewhere abroad there is a reclining statue of Queen Mary, to which, when my mother stood beside it, her resemblance was so strong that the by-standers clustered about her, whispering curiously. "Ah, mon Dieu!" said a little Frenchman, aloud, "c'est une résurrection."

We must have tried her that afternoon, Clara and Winthrop and I; for the spirit of her own excitement had made us completely wild. Winthrop's scream of delight when, stationed on the gate-post, he caught the first sight of the old yellow coach, might have been heard a quarter of a mile.

"Coming?" said mother, nervously, and stepped out to the gate, full in the sunlight that crowned her like royal gold.

The coach lumbered on, and rattled up, and passed.

"Why, she hasn't come!" All the eager color died out of her face. "I am so disappointed!" speaking like a troubled child, and turning slowly into the house.

Then, after a while, she drew me aside from the others,—I was the oldest, and she was used to make a sort of confidence between us, instinctively, as it seemed, and often quite forgetting how very few my years were. "Sarah, I don't understand. You think she might have lost the train? But Alice is so punctual, Alice never lost a train. And she said she would come." And then, a while after, "I don't understand."

It was not like my mother to worry. The next day the coach lumbered up and rattled past, and did not stop,—and the next, and the next.

"We shall have a letter," mother said, her eyes saddening every afternoon. But we had no letter. And another day went by, and another.

"She is sick," we said; and mother wrote to her, and watched for the lumbering coach, and grew silent day by day. But to the letter there was no answer.

Ten days passed. Mother came to me one afternoon to ask for her pen, which I had borrowed. Something in her face troubled me vaguely.

"What are you going to do, mother?"

"Write to your aunt's boarding-place.[Pg 149] I can't bear this any longer," sharply. She had already grown unlike herself.

She wrote, and asked for an answer by return of mail.

It was on a Wednesday, I remember, that we looked for it. I remember everything that happened that day. I came home early from school. Mother was sewing at the parlor window, her eyes wandering from her work, up the road. It was an ugly day. It had rained drearily from eight o'clock till two, and closed in suffocating mist, creeping and dense and chill. It gave me a childish fancy of long-closed tombs and lowland graveyards, as I walked home in it.

I tried to keep the younger children quiet when we went in, mother was so nervous. As the early, uncanny twilight fell, we grouped around her timidly. A dull sense of awe and mystery clung to the night, and clung to her watching face, and clung even then to that closed room up stairs where the lilies were fading.

Mother sat leaning her head upon her hand, the outline of her face dim in the dusk against the falling curtain. She was sitting so when we heard the first rumble of the distant coach-wheels. At the sound, she folded her hands in her lap and stirred a little, rose slowly from her chair, and sat down again.


I crept up to her. At the near sight of her face, I was so frightened I could have cried.

"Sarah, you may go out and get the letter. I—I can't."

I went slowly out at the door and down the walk. At the gate I looked back. The outline of her face was there against the window-pane, white in the gathering gloom.

It seems to me that my older and less sensitive years have never known such a night. The world was stifling in a deluge of gray, cold mists, unstirred by a breath of air. A robin with feathers all ruffled, and head hidden, sat on the gate-post, and chirped a little mournful chirp, like a creature dying in a vacuum. The very daisy that nodded and drooped in the grass at my feet seemed to be gasping for breath. The neighbor's house, not forty paces across the street, was invisible. I remember the sensation it gave me, as I struggled to find its outlines, of a world washed out, like the figures I washed out on my slate. As I trudged, half frightened, into the road, and the fog closed about me, it seemed to my childish superstition like a horde of long-imprisoned ghosts let loose and angry. The distant sound of the coach, which I could not see, added to the fancy.

The coach turned the corner presently. On a clear day I could see the brass buttons on the driver's coat at that distance. There was nothing visible now of the whole dark structure but the two lamps in front, like the eyes of some evil thing, glaring and defiant, borne with swift motion down upon me by a power utterly unseen,—it had a curious effect. Even at this time, I confess I do not like to see a lighted carriage driven through a fog.

I summoned all my little courage, and piped out the driver's name, standing there in the road.

He reined up his horses with a shout,—he had nearly driven over me. After some searching, he discovered the small object cowering down in the mist, handed me a letter, with a muttered oath at being intercepted on such a night, and lumbered on and out of sight in three rods.

I went slowly into the house. Mother had lighted a lamp, and stood at the parlor door. She did not come into the hall to meet me.

She took the letter and went to the light, holding it with the seal unbroken. She might have stood so two minutes.

"Why don't you read, mamma?" spoke up Winthrop. I hushed him.

She opened it then, read it, laid it down upon the table, and went out of the room without a word. I had not seen her face. We heard her go up stairs and shut the door.

She had left the letter open there before[Pg 150] us. After a little awed silence, Clara broke out into sobs. I went up and read the few and simple lines.

Aunt Alice had left for Creston on the appointed day.

Mother spent that night in the closed room where the lilies had drooped and died. Clara and I heard her pacing the floor till we cried ourselves to sleep. When we woke in the morning, she was pacing it still.

Well, weeks wore into months, and the months became many years. More than that we never knew. Some inquiry revealed the fact, after a while, that a slight accident had occurred upon the Erie Railroad to the train which she should have taken. There was some disabling, but no deaths, the conductor had supposed. The car had fallen into the water. She might not have been missed when the half-drowned passengers were all drawn out.

So mother added a little crape to her widow's weeds, the key of the closed room lay henceforth in her drawer, and all things went on as before. To her children my mother was never gloomy,—it was not her way. No shadow of household affliction was placed like a skeleton confronting our uncomprehending joy. Of what those weeks and months and years were to her,—a widow, and quite uncomforted in their dark places by any human love,—she gave no sign. We thought her a shade paler, perhaps. We found her often alone with her little Bible. Sometimes, on the Sabbath, we missed her, and knew that she had gone into that closed room. But she was just as tender with us in our little faults and sorrows, as merry with us in our plays, as eager in our gayest plans, as she had always been. As she had always been,—our mother.

And so the years slipped by, to her and to us. Winthrop went into business in Boston; he never took to his books, and mother was too wise to push him through college; but I think she was disappointed. He was her only boy, and she would have chosen for him the profession of his father and grandfather. Clara and I graduated in our white dresses and blue ribbons, like other girls, and came home to mother, crochet-work, and Tennyson. And then something happened, as the veriest little things—which, unnoticed and uncomprehended, hold the destinies of lives in their control—will happen.

I mean that our old and long-tried cook, Bathsheba, who had been an heirloom in the family, suddenly fell in love with the older sexton, who had rung the passing-bell for every soul who died in the village for forty years, and took it into her head to marry him, and desert our kitchen for his little brown house under the hill.

So it came about that we hunted the township for a handmaiden; and it also came about that our inquiring steps led us to the poor-house. A stout, not over-brilliant-looking girl, about twelve years of age, was to be had for her board and clothes, and such schooling as we could give her,—in country fashion, to be "bound out" till she should be eighteen. The economy of the arrangement decided in her favor; for, in spite of our grand descent and grander notions, we were poor enough, after father died, and the education of three children had made no small gap in our little principal, and she came.

Her name was a singular one,—Selphar. It always savored too nearly of brimstone to please me. I used to call her Sel, "for short." She was a good, sensible, uninteresting-looking girl, with broad face, large features, and limp, tow-colored curls. I doubt if I ever see curls like them now without a little shudder. They used to hang straight down about her eyes, and were never otherwise than perfectly smooth. She proved to be of good temper, which is worth quite as much as brains in a servant, as honest as the daylight, dull enough at her books, but a good, plodding worker, if you marked out every step of the way for her beforehand. I do not think she would ever have discovered the laws of gravitation; but she might have jumped off a precipice[Pg 151] to prove them, if she had been bidden.

Until she was seventeen, she was precisely like any other rather stupid girl; never given to novel-reading or fancies; never frightened by the dark or ghost-stories; proving herself warmly attached to us, after a while, and rousing in us, in return, the kindly interest naturally felt for a faithful servant; but she was not in any respect uncommon,—quite far from it,—except in the circumstance that she never told a falsehood.

At seventeen she had a violent attack of diphtheria, and her life hung by a thread. Mother's aristocracy had nothing of that false pride which is afraid of contamination from kindly association with its inferiors. She was too thoroughly a lady. She was as tender and unwearying in her care of Selphar as the girl's own mother might have been. She was somehow touched by the child's orphaned life,—suffering always, in all places, appealed to her so strongly,—every sorrow found so warm a place in her heart.

From that time, I believe Sel was immovable in her faith in my mother's divinity. Under such nursing as she had, she slowly recovered, but her old, stolid strength never came back to her. Severe headaches became of frequent occurrence. Her stout, muscular arms grew weak. As weeks went on, it became evident in many ways that, though the diphtheria itself was quite out of her system, it had left her thoroughly diseased. Strange fits of silence came over her: her volubility had been the greatest objection we had to her hitherto. Her face began to wear a troubled look. She was often found in places where she had stolen away to be alone.

One morning she slept late in her little garret-chamber, and we did not call her. The girl had gone up stairs the night before crying with the pain in her temples, and mother, who was always thoughtful of her servants, said it was a pity to wake her, and, as there were only three of us, we might get our own breakfast for once. While we were at work together in the kitchen, Clara heard her kitten mewing out in the snow, and went to the door to let her in. The creature, possessed by some sudden frolic, darted away behind the well-curb. Clara was always a bit of a romp, and, with never a thought of her daintily-slippered feet, she flung her trailing dress over one arm and was off over the three-inch snow. The cat led her a brisk chase, and she came in flushed, and panting, and pretty, her little feet drenched, and the tip of a Maltese tail just visible above a great bundle she had made of her apron.

"Why!" said mother, "you have lost your ear-ring."

Clara dropped the kitten with unceremonious haste on the floor, felt of her little pink ear, shook her apron, and the corners of her mouth went down into her dimpled chin.

"They're the ones Winthrop sent, of all things in the world!"

"You'd better put on your rubbers, and have a hunt out-doors," said mother.

We hunted out-doors,—on the steps, on the well-boards, in the wood-shed, in the snow; Clara looked down the well till her nose and fingers were blue, but the ear-ring was not to be found. We hunted in-doors, under the stove, and the chairs, and the table, in every possible and impossible nook, cranny, and crevice, but gave up the search in despair. It was a pretty trinket,—a leaf of delicately wrought gold, with a pearl dew-drop on it,—very becoming to Clara, and the first present Winthrop had sent her from his earnings. If she had been a little younger she would have cried. She came very near it as it was, I suspect, for when she went after the plates she stayed in the cupboard long enough to set two tables.

When we were half through breakfast, Selphar came down, blushing, and frightened half out of her wits, her apologies tumbling over each other with such skill as to render each one unintelligible,—and evidently undecided[Pg 152] in, her own mind whether she was to be hung or burnt at the stake.

"It's no matter at all," said mother, kindly; "I knew you felt sick last night. I should have called you if I had needed you."

Having set the girl at her ease, as only she could do, she went on with her breakfast, and we forgot all about her. She stayed, however, in the room to wait on the table. It was afterwards remembered that she had not been out of our sight since she came down the garret-stairs. Also, that her room looked out upon the opposite side of the house from that on which the well-curb stood.

"Why, look at Sel!" said Clara, suddenly, "she has her eyes shut."

The girl was just passing the toast. Mother spoke to her. "Selphar, what is the matter?"

"I don't know."

"Why don't you open your eyes?"

"I can't."

"Hand the salt to Miss Sarah."

She took it up and brought it around the table to me, with perfect precision.

"Sel, how you act!" said Clara, petulantly. "Of course you saw."

"Yes'm, I saw," said the girl in a puzzled way, "but my eyes are shut, Miss Clara."



Whatever this freak meant, we thought best to take no notice of it. My mother told her, somewhat gravely, that she might sit down until she was wanted, and we returned to our conversation about the ear-ring.

"Why!" said Sel, with a little jump, "I see your ear-ring, Miss Clara,—the one with a white drop on the leaf. It's out by the well."

The girl was sitting with her back to the window, her eyes, to all appearance, tightly closed.

"It's on the right-hand side, under the snow, between the well and the wood-pile. Why, don't you see?"

Clara began to look frightened, mother displeased.

"Selphar," she said, "this is nonsense. It is impossible for you to see through the walls of two rooms and a wood-shed."

"May I go and get it?" said the girl, quietly.

"Sel," said Clara, "on your word and honor, are your eyes shut perfectly tight?"

"If they ain't, Miss Clara, then they never was."

Sel never told a lie. We looked at each other, and let her go. I followed her out, and kept my eyes on her closed lids. She did not once raise them; nor did they tremble, as lids will tremble, if only partially closed.

She walked without the slightest hesitation directly to the well-curb, to the spot which she had mentioned, stooped down, and brushed away the three-inch fall of snow. The ear-ring lay there, where it had sunk in falling. She picked it up, carried it in, and gave it to Clara.

That Clara had the thing on when she started after her kitten, there could be no doubt. She and I both remembered it. That Sel, asleep on the opposite side of the house, could not have seen it drop, was also settled. That she, with her eyes closed and her back to the window, had seen through three walls, and through three inches of snow, at a distance of fifty feet, was an inference.

"I don't believe it!" said my mother, "it's some nonsensical mistake." Clara looked a little pale, and I laughed.

We watched her carefully through the day. Her eyes remained tightly closed. She understood all that was said to her, answered correctly, but did not seem inclined to talk. She went about her work as usual, and performed it without a mistake. It could not be seen that she groped at all with her hands to feel her way, as is the case with the blind. On the contrary, she touched everything with her usual decision. It was impossible to believe, without seeing them, that her eyes were closed.

We tied a handkerchief tightly over them; see through it or below it she could not, if she had tried. We[Pg 153] then sent her into the parlor, with orders to bring from the book-case two Bibles which had been given as prizes to Clara and me at school, when we were children. The books were of precisely the same size, color, and texture. Our names in gilt letters were printed upon the binding. We followed her in, and watched her narrowly. She went directly to the book-case, laid her hands upon the books at once, and brought them to my mother. Mother changed them from, hand to hand several times, and turned them with the gilt lettering downwards upon her lap.

"Now, Selphar, which is Miss Sarah's?"

The girl quietly took mine up. The experiment was repeated and varied again and again. In every case the result was the same. She made no mistake. It was no guess-work. All this was done with the bandage tightly drawn about her eyes. She did not see those letters with them.

That evening we were sitting quietly in the dining-room. Selphar sat a little apart with her sewing, her eyes still closed. We kept her with us, and kept her in sight. The parlor, which was a long room, was between us and the front of the house. The distance was so great that we had often thought, if prowlers were to come around at night, how impossible it would be to hear them. The curtains and shutters were closely drawn. Sel was sitting by the fire. Suddenly she turned pale, dropped her sewing, and sprang from her chair.

"Robbers, robbers!" she cried. "Don't you see? they're getting in the east parlor window! There's three of 'em, and a lantern. They've just opened the window,—hurry, hurry!"

"I believe the girl is insane," said mother, decidedly. Nevertheless, she put out the light, opened the parlor door noiselessly, and went in.

The east window was open. There was a quick vision of three men and a dark lantern. Then Clara screamed, and it disappeared. We went to the window, and saw the men running down the street. The snow the next morning was found trodden down under the window, and their footprints were traced out to the road.

When we went back to the other room, Selphar was standing in the middle of it, a puzzled, frightened look on her face, her eyes wide open.

"Selphar," said my mother, a little suspiciously, "how did you know the robbers were there?"

"Robbers!" said the girl, aghast.

She knew nothing of the robbers. She knew nothing of the ear-ring. She remembered nothing that had happened since she went up the garret-stairs to bed, the night before. And, as I said, the girl was as honest as the sunlight. When we told her what had happened, she burst into terrified tears.

For some time after this there was no return of the "tantrums," as Selphar had called the condition, whatever it was. I began to get up vague theories of a trance state. But mother said, "Nonsense!" and Clara was too much frightened to reason at all about the matter.

One Sunday morning Sel complained of a headache. There was an evening service that night, and we all went to church. Mother let Sel take the empty seat in the carryall beside her.

It was very dark when we started to come home. But Creston was a safe old Orthodox town, the roads were filled with returning church-goers like ourselves, and mother drove like a man. A darker night I think I have never seen. Literally, we could not see a hand before our eyes. We met a carriage on a narrow road, and the horses' heads touched, before either driver had seen the other.

Selphar had been quite silent during the drive. I leaned forward, looked closely into her face, and could dimly see through the darkness that her eyes were closed.

"Why!" she said at last, "see those gloves!"


"Down in the ditch; we passed[Pg 154] them before I spoke. I see them on a blackberry-bush; they've got little brass buttons on the wrist."

Three rods past now, and we could not see our horse's head.

"Selphar," said my mother, quickly, "what is the matter with you?"

"If you please, ma'am, I don't know," replied the girl, hanging her head. "May I get out and bring 'em to you?"

Prince was reined up, and Sel got out. She went so far back, that, though we strained our eyes to do it, we could not see her. In about two minutes she came up, a pair of gentleman's gloves in her hand. They were rolled together, were of cloth so black that on a bright night it would never have been seen, and had small brass buttons at the wrist.

Mother took them without a word.

The story leaked out somehow, and spread all over town. It raised a great hue and cry. Four or five antediluvian ladies declared at once that we were nothing more nor less than a family of "them spirituous mediums," and seriously proposed to expel mother from the prayer-meeting. Masculine Creston did worse. It smiled a pitying smile, and pronounced the whole thing the fancy of "scared women-folks." I could endure with calmness any slander upon earth but that. I sent by the next mail for Winthrop, and stated the case to him in a condition of suppressed fury. He very politely bit back an incredulous smile, and said he should be very happy to see her perform. The answer was somewhat dubious. I accepted it in silent suspicion.

He came on Saturday noon. That afternoon we attended en masse one of those refined inquisitions commonly known as picnics, and Winthrop lost his pocket-knife. Selphar, of course, kept house at home.

When we returned, Winthrop made some careless reference to his loss in her presence, and thought no more of it. About half an hour after, we observed that she was washing the dishes with her eyes shut. The condition had not been upon her five minutes before she dropped the spoon suddenly into the water, and asked permission to go out to walk. She "saw Mr. Winthrop's knife somewhere under a stone, and wanted to get it." It was fully two miles to the picnic grounds, and nearly dark. Winthrop followed the girl, unknown to her, and kept her in sight. She went rapidly, and without the slightest hesitation or search, to an out-of-the-way gully down by the pond, where Winthrop afterwards remembered having gone to cut some willow-twigs for the girls, parted a thick cluster of bushes, lifted a large, loose stone under which the knife had rolled, and picked it up. She returned it to Winthrop, quietly, and hurried away about her work to avoid being thanked.

I observed that, after this incident, masculine Creston became more respectful.

Of several peculiarities in this development of the girl I made at the time careful memoranda, and the exactness of these can be relied upon.

1. She herself, so far from attempting to bring on these trance states, or taking any pride therein, was intensely troubled and mortified by them,—would run out of the room, if she felt them coming on in the presence of visitors.

2. They were apt to be preceded by severe headaches, but came often without any warning.

3. She never, in any instance, recalled anything that happened during the trance, after it was passed.

4. She was powerfully and unpleasantly affected by electricity from a battery, or acting in milder forms. She was also unable at any time to put her hands and arms into hot water; the effect was to paralyze them at once.

5. Space proved to be no impediment to her vision. She has been known to follow the acts, words, and expressions of countenance of members of the family hundreds of miles away, with accuracy; as was afterwards proved by comparing notes as to time.[Pg 155]

6. The girl's eyes, after her trances became habitual, assumed, and always retained, the most singular expression I ever saw on any face. They were oblong and narrow, and set back in her head like the eyes of a snake. They were not—smile if you will, O practical and incredulous reader!—but they were not human eyes. The eyes of Elsie Venner are the only eyes I can think of as at all like them. The most horrible circumstance about them—a circumstance that always made me shudder, familiar as I was with it—was, that, though turned fully on you, they never looked at you. Something behind them or out of them did the seeing, not they.

7. She not only saw substance, but soul. She has repeatedly told me my thoughts when they were upon subjects to which she could not by any possibility have had the slightest clew.

8. We were never able to detect a shadow of deceit about her.

9. The clairvoyance never failed in any instance to be correct, so far as we were able to trace it.

As will be readily imagined, the girl became a useful member of the family. The lost valuables restored and the warnings against mischances given by her quite balanced her incapacity for peculiar kinds of work. This incapacity, however, rather increased than diminished, and, together with her fickle health, which also grew more unsettled, caused us a great deal of care. The Creston physician—who was a keen man in his way, for a country doctor—pronounced the case altogether undreamt of before in Horatio's philosophy, and kept constant notes of it. Some of these have, I believe, found their way into the medical journals.

After a while there came, like a thief in the night, that which I suppose was poor Selphar's one unconscious, golden mission in this world. It came on a quiet summer night, that ended a long trance of a week's continuance. Mother had gone out into the kitchen to give an order for breakfast. I heard a few eager words in Selphar's voice, and then the door shut quickly, and it was an hour before it was opened.

Then my mother came to me without a particle of color in lips or cheek, and drew me away alone, and told the secret to me.

Selphar had seen Aunt Alice.

We sat down and looked at one another. There was a singular pinched look about my mother's mouth.



"She says"—and then she told me what she said. She had seen Alice Stuart in a Western town, seven hundred miles away. Among the living, she desired to be counted of the dead. And that was all.

My mother paced the room three times back and forth, her hands locked.

"Sarah." There was a chill in her voice—it had been such a gentle voice!—that froze me. "Sarah, the girl is an impostor."


She paced the room, once more, three times, back and forth. "At any rate, she is a poor, self-deluded creature. How can she see, seven hundred miles away, a dead woman who has been an angel all these years? Think! an angel, Sarah! So much better than I, and I—I loved—"

Before or since, I never heard my mother speak like that. She broke off sharply, and froze back into her chilling voice.

"We will say nothing about this, if you please. I do not believe a word of it."

We said nothing about it, but Selphar did. The delusion, if delusion it were, clung to her, haunted her, pursued her, week after week. To rid her of it, or to silence her, was impossible. She added no new facts to her first statement, but insisted that the long-lost dead was yet alive, with a quiet pertinacity that it was simply impossible to ridicule, frighten, threaten, or cross-question out of her, Clara was so thoroughly alarmed that she would not have slept alone for any mortal—perhaps not for any immortal—considerations. Winthrop[Pg 156] and I talked the matter over often and gravely when we were alone and in quiet places. Mother's lips were sealed. From the day when Sel made the first disclosure, she was never heard once to refer to the matter. A perceptible haughtiness crept into her manner towards the girl. She even talked of dismissing her; but repented it, and melted into momentary gentleness. I could have cried over her that night. I was beginning to understand what a pitiful struggle her life had become, and how utterly alone she must be in it. She would not believe—she knew not what. She could not doubt the girl. And with the conflict even her children could not intermeddle.

To understand the crisis into which she was brought, the reader must bear in mind our long habit of belief, not only in Selphar's personal honesty, but in the infallibility of her mysterious power. Indeed, it had almost ceased to be mysterious to us, from daily familiarity. We had come to regard it as the curious working of physical disease, had taken its results as a matter of course, and had ceased, in common with converted Creston, to doubt the girl's capacity for seeing anything that she chose to, at any place.

Thus a year wore on. My mother grew sleepless and pallid. She laughed often, in a nervous, shallow way, as unlike her as a butterfly is unlike a sunset; and her face settled into an habitual sharpness and hardness unutterably painful to me.

Once only I ventured to break into the silence of the haunting thought that she knew, and we knew, was never escaped by either. "Mother, it would do no harm for Winthrop to go out West, and—"

She interrupted me sternly: "Sarah, I had not thought you capable of such childish superstition. I wish that girl and her nonsense had never come into this house!"—turning sharply away, and out of the room.

Just what that year was to my mother, I suppose only God and she have ever known, or will know.

But it ended. It ended at last, as I had prayed every night and morning of it that it should end. Mother came into my room one night, locked the door behind her, and, walking over to the window, stood with her face turned from me.




But that was all for a little while. Then,—"Sick and in suffering, Sarah,—the girl—she may be right, God Almighty knows! Sick and in suffering, you see. I am going. I think, I—"

The voice broke and melted utterly. I stole away and left her alone.

Creston put on its spectacles and looked wise on learning, the next day, that Mrs. Dugald had taken the earliest morning train for the West, on sudden and important business. It was precisely what Creston expected, and just like the Dugalds for all the world,—gone to hunt up material for that genealogical book, or map, or tree, or something, that they thought nobody knew they were going to publish. O yes, Creston understood it perfectly.

Space forbids me to relate in detail the clews which Selphar had given as to the whereabouts of the wanderer. Her trances, just at this time, were somewhat scarce and fragmentary, and the information she had professed to give had come in snatches and very imperfectly,—the trance being apt to end suddenly at the moment when some important question was pending, and then, of course, all memory of what she had said, or was about to say, was gone. The names and appearance of persons and places necessary to the search had, however, been given with sufficient distinctness to serve as a guide in my mother's rather chimerical undertaking. I suppose ninety-nine persons out of a hundred would have thought her a candidate for the State Lunatic Asylum. Exactly what she herself expected, hoped, or feared, I think it doubtful if she knew. I confess to a condition of simple bewilderment, when[Pg 157] she was fairly gone, and Clara and I were left alone with Selphar's ghostly eyes forever on us. One night I had to lock the poor thing into her garret-room before I could sleep.

Just three weeks from the day mother started for the West, the coach rattled up to the door, and two women, arm in arm, came slowly up the walk. The one, erect, royal, with her great steadfast eyes alight; the other, bent and worn, gray-haired and sallow and dumb, crawling feebly through the golden afternoon sunshine, as the ghost of a glorious life might crawl back to its grave.

Mother threw open the door, and stood there like a queen. "Children, your aunt has come home. She is too tired to talk just now. By and by she will be glad to see you."

We took her gently up stairs, into the room where the lilies were mouldering to dust, and laid her down upon the bed. She closed her eyes wearily, turned her face over to the wall, and said no word.

What was the story of those tired eyes I never asked, and I never knew. Once, as I passed the room, a quick picture showed through the open door. The two women lying with their arms about each other's neck, as they used to do when they were children together; and above them, still and watchful, the wounded Face that had waited there so many years for this.

One was speaking with weak sobs, and very low. It was Aunt Alice. I caught but two words,—"My husband."

But what that husband was remains unknown till the day when the grave shall give up its dead, and the secrets of hearts oppressed and sinned against and sorrowful shall be revealed.

She lingered weakly there, within the restful room, for seven days, and then one morning we found her with her eyes upon the thorn-crowned face, her own quite still and smiling.

A little funeral train wound away one night behind the church, and left her down among those red-cup mosses that opened in so few months again to cradle the sister who had loved her. Two words only, by mother's orders, marked the simple headstone,—

"Alice Browning."

I have given you facts. Explain them as you will. I do not attempt it, for the simple reason that I cannot.

A word must be said as to the fate of poor Sel, which was mournful enough. Her trances grew gradually more frequent and erratic, till she became so thoroughly diseased in mind and body as to be entirely unfitted for household work, and, in short, nothing but an encumbrance. We kept her, however, for the sake of charity, and should have done so, till her poor, tormented life wore itself out; but after the advent of a new servant, and my mother's death, she conceived the idea that she was a burden, cried over it a few weeks, and at last one bitter winter's night she disappeared. We did not give up all search for her for years, but nothing was ever heard from her. He, I hope, who permitted life to be such a terrible mystery to her, has cared for her somehow, and kindly, and well.

[Pg 158]


Down 'mid the tangled roots of things
That coil about the central fire,
I seek for that which giveth wings,
To stoop, not soar, to my desire.
Sometimes I hear, as 't were a sigh,
The sea's deep yearning far above.
"Thou hast the secret not," I cry,
"In deeper deeps is hid my Love."
They think I burrow from the sun,
In darkness, all alone and weak;
Such loss were gain if He were won.
For 't is the sun's own Sun I seek.
The earth, they murmur, is the tomb
That vainly sought his life to prison;
Why grovel longer in its gloom?
He is not here; He hath arisen.
More life for me where He hath lain
Hidden, while ye believed him dead,
Than in cathedrals cold and vain,
Built on loose sands of "It is said."
My search is for the living gold,
Him I desire who dwells recluse,
And not his image, worn and old,
Day-servant of our sordid use.
If Him I find not, yet I find
The ancient joy of cell and church,
The glimpse, the surety undefined,
The unquenched ardor of the search.
Happier to chase a flying goal,
Than to sit counting laurelled gains,
To guess the Soul within the soul,
Than to be lord of what remains.

[Pg 159]



Major Coutinho and myself passed three days in the investigation of the Serra of Erreré. We found it to consist wholly of the sandstone deposits described in my previous article, and to have exactly the same geological constitution. In short, the Serra of Monte Alegre, and of course all those connected with it on the northern side of the river, lie in the prolongation of the lower beds forming the banks of the river, their greater height being due simply to the fact that they have not been worn to the same low level. The opposite range of Santarem, which has the same general outline and character, shares, no doubt, the same geological structure. In one word, all these hills were formerly part of a continuous formation, and owe their present outline and their isolated position to a colossal denudation. The surface of the once unbroken strata, which in their original condition must have formed an immense plain covered by water, has been cut into ravines or carried away over large tracts, to a greater or less depth, leaving only such portions standing as from their hardness could resist the floods which swept over it. The longitudinal trend of these hills is to be ascribed to the direction of the current which caused the denudation, while their level summits are due to the regularity of the stratification. They are not all table-topped, however; among them are many of smaller size, in which the sides have been gradually worn down, producing a gently rounded surface. Of course, under the heavy tropical rains this denudation is still going on, though in a greatly modified form.

I cannot leave this Serra without alluding to the great beauty and extraordinary extent of the view to be obtained from it. Indeed, it was here that for the first time the geography of the country presented itself to my mind as a living reality, in all its completeness. Insignificant as is its actual height, the Serra of Erreré commands a wider prospect than is to be had from many a more imposing mountain; for the surrounding plain, covered with forests, and ploughed by countless rivers, stretches away for hundreds of leagues in every direction, without any object to obstruct the view. Standing on the brow of the Serra, with the numerous lakes intersecting the low lands at its base, you look across the Valley of the Amazons, as far as the eye can reach, and through its midst you follow for miles on either side the broad flood of the great river, carrying its yellow waters to the sea. As I stood there, panoramas from the Swiss mountains came up to my memory, and I fancied myself standing on the Alps, looking across the plain of Switzerland, instead of the bed of the Amazons, the distant line of the Santarem hills on the southern bank of the river, and lower than the northern chain, representing the Jura range. As if to complete the comparison, I found Alpine lichens growing among cactus and palms, and a crust of Arctic cryptogamous growth covered rocks, between which sprang tropical flowers. On the northern flank of this Serra I found the only genuine erratic boulders I have seen in the whole length of the Amazonian Valley, from Pará to the frontier of Peru, though there are many detached masses of rock, as, for instance, at Pedreira, near the junction of the Rio Negro and Rio Branco, which might be mistaken for them, but are due to the decomposition of the rocks in place. The boulders of Erreré are entirely distinct from the rock of the Serra, and consist of masses of compact hornblende.

It would seem that these two ranges[Pg 160] skirting a part of the northern and southern banks of the Lower Amazons are not the only remnants of this arenaceous formation in its primitive altitude. On the banks of the Japura, in the Serra of Cupati, Major Coutinho has found the same beds rising to the same height. It thus appears, by positive evidence, that over an extent of a thousand miles these deposits had a very considerable thickness in the present direction of the valley. How far they extended in width has not been ascertained by direct observation, for we have not seen how they sink away to the northward, and towards the south the denudation has been so complete that, except in the very low range of hills in the neighborhood of Santarem, they do not rise above the plain. But the fact that this formation once had a thickness of more than eight hundred feet within the limits where we have had an opportunity of observing it, leaves no doubt that it must have extended to the edge of the basin, filling it to the same height throughout its whole extent. The thickness of the deposits gives a measure for the colossal scale of the denudations by which this immense accumulation was reduced to its present level. Here then is a system of high hills, having the prominence of mountains in the landscape, produced by causes to whose agency inequalities on the earth's surface of this magnitude have never yet been ascribed. We may fairly call them denudation mountains.

At this stage of the inquiry we have to account for two remarkable phenomena. First, the filling of the Amazonian bottom with coarse arenaceous materials and finely laminated clays, immediately followed by sandstones rising to a height of more than eight hundred feet above the sea; the basin meanwhile having no rocky barrier towards the ocean on its eastern side. Second, the wearing away and reduction of these formations to their present level, by a denudation, more extensive than any thus far recorded in the annals of geology, which has given rise to all the most prominent hills and mountain chains along the northern bank of the river. Before seeking an explanation of these facts, let us look at the third and uppermost deposit.

This deposit, essentially the same as the Rio drift, has been minutely described in my former article; but in the north, it presents itself under a somewhat different aspect. As in Rio, it is a clayey deposit, containing more or less sand, and reddish in color, though varying from deep ochre to a brownish tint. It is not so absolutely destitute of stratification here as in its more southern range, though the traces of stratification are rare, and, when they do occur, are faint and indistinct. The materials are also more completely comminuted, and, as I have said above, contain hardly any large masses, though quartz pebbles are sometimes scattered throughout the deposit, and occasionally a thin seam of pebbles, exactly as in the Rio drift, is seen resting between it and the underlying sandstone. In some places this bed of pebbles even intersects the mass of the clay, giving it in such instances an unquestionably stratified character. There can be no question that this more recent formation rests unconformably upon the sandstone beds beneath it; for it fills all the inequalities of their denudated surfaces, whether they be more or less limited furrows, or wide, undulating depressions. It may be seen everywhere along the banks of the river, above the stratified sandstone, sometimes with the river mud accumulated against it; at the season of the enchente, or high water, it is the only formation left exposed above the water level. Its thickness is not great; it varies from twenty or thirty to fifty feet, and may occasionally rise nearly to a hundred feet in height, though this is rarely the case. It is evident that this formation also was once continuous, stretching over the whole basin at one level. Though it is now worn down in many places, and has wholly disappeared in others, its connection may be readily traced; since it is everywhere visible,[Pg 161] not only on opposite banks of the Amazons, but also on those of all its tributaries, as far as their shores have been examined. I have said that it rests always above the sandstone beds. This is true, with one exception. Wherever the sandstone deposits retain their original thickness, as in the hills of Monte Alegre and Almeyrim, the red clay is not found on their summits, but occurs only in their ravines and hollows, or resting against their sides. This shows that it is not only posterior to the sandstone, but was accumulated in a shallower basin, and consequently never reached so high a level. The boulders of Erreré do not rest on the stratified sandstone of the Serra, but are sunk in the unstratified mass of the clay. This should be remembered, as it will presently be seen that their position associates them with a later period than that of the mountain itself. The unconformability of the ochraceous clay and the underlying sandstones might lead to the idea that the two formations belong to distinct geological periods, and are not due to the same agency, acting at successive times. One feature, however, shows their close connection. The ochraceous clay exhibits a remarkable identity of configuration with the underlying sandstones. An extensive survey of the two, in their mutual relations, shows clearly that they were both deposited by the same water-system within the same basin, but at different levels. Here and there the clay formation has so pale and grayish a tint, that it may be confounded with the mud deposits of the river. These latter, however, never rise so high as the ochraceous clay, but are everywhere confined within the limits of high and low water. The islands also in the main course of the Amazons consist invariably of river-mud, while those arising from the intersection and cutting off of portions of the land by diverging branches of the main stream always consist of the well-known sandstones, capped by the ochre-colored clay.

It may truly be said that there does not exist on the surface of the earth a formation known to geologists resembling that of the Amazons. Its extent is stupendous; it stretches from the Atlantic shore, through the whole width of Brazil, into Peru, to the very foot of the Andes. Humboldt speaks of it "in the vast plains of the Amazons, in the eastern boundary of Jaen de Bracamoros," and says, "This prodigious extension of red sandstone in the low grounds stretching along the east of the Andes is one of the most striking phenomena I observed during my examination of rocks in the equinoctial regions."[A] When the great natural philosopher wrote these lines, he had no idea how much these deposits extended beyond the field of his observations. Indeed, they are not limited to the main bed of the Amazons; they have been followed along the banks of its tributaries to the south and north as far as these have been ascended. They occur on the margins of the Huallaga and the Ucayall, on those of the Iça, the Jutahy, the Jurua, the Japura, and the Purus. On the banks of the Japura, where Major Coutinho has traced them, they are found as far as the Cataract of Cupati. I have followed them along the Rio Negro to its junction with the Rio Branco; and Humboldt not only describes them from a higher point on this same river, but also from the valley of the Orinoco. Finally, they may be tracked along the banks of the Madeira, the Tapajos, the Xingu, and the Tocantins, as well as on the shores of the Guatuma, the Trombetas, and other northern affluents of the Amazons. The observations of Martius, those of Gardner, and the recent survey above[Pg 162] alluded to, made by my assistant, Mr. St. John, of the valley of the Rio Guruguea and that of the Rio Paranahyba, show that the great basin of Piauhy is also identical in its geological structure with the lateral valleys of the Amazons. The same is true of the large island of Marajo, lying at the mouth of the Amazons. And yet I believe that even this does not cover the whole ground, and that some future writer may say of my estimate, as I have said of Humboldt's, that it falls short of the truth; for, if my generalizations are correct, the same formation will be found extending over the whole basin of the Paraguay and the Rio de la Plata, and along their tributaries, to the very heart of the Andes.

Such are the facts. The question now arises, How were these vast deposits formed? The easiest answer, and the one which most readily suggests itself, is that of a submersion of the continent at successive periods to allow the accumulation of these materials, and its subsequent elevation. I reject this explanation for the simple reason that the deposits show no sign whatever of a marine origin. No seashells nor remains of any marine animal have as yet been found throughout their whole extent, over a region several thousand miles in length and from five to seven hundred miles in width. It is contrary to all our knowledge of geological deposits to suppose that an ocean basin of this size, which must have been submerged during an immensely long period in order to accumulate formations of such a thickness, should not contain numerous remains of the animals formerly inhabiting it.[B] The only fossil remains of any kind truly belonging to it, which I have found in the formation, are the leaves mentioned above, taken from the lower clays on the banks of the Solimoens at Tomantins; and these show a vegetation similar in general character to that which prevails there to-day. Evidently, then, this basin was a fresh-water basin; these deposits are fresh-water deposits. But as the Valley of the Amazons exists to-day, it is widely open to the ocean on the east, with a gentle slope from the Andes to the Atlantic, determining a powerful seaward current. When these vast accumulations took place, the basin must have been closed; otherwise the loose materials would constantly have been carried down to the ocean.

It is my belief that all these deposits belong to the ice period in its earlier or later phases, and to this cosmic winter, which, judging from all the phenomena connected with it, may have lasted for thousands of centuries, we must look for the key to the geological history of the Amazonian Valley. I am aware that this suggestion will appear extravagant. But is it, after all, so improbable that, when Central Europe was covered with ice thousands of feet thick; when the glaciers of Great Britain ploughed into the sea, and when those of the Swiss mountains had ten times their present altitude; when every lake in Northern Italy was filled with ice, and these frozen masses extended even into Northern Africa; when a sheet of ice, reaching nearly to the summit of Mount Washington in the White Mountains (that is, having a thickness of nearly six thousand feet), moved over the continent of North America,—is it so improbable that, in this epoch of universal cold, the Valley of the Amazons also had its glacier poured down into it from the accumulations of snow in the Cordilleras,[Pg 163] and swollen laterally by the tributary glaciers descending from the table-lands of Guiana and Brazil? The movement of this immense glacier would be eastward, and determined as well by the vast reservoirs of snow in the Andes as by the direction of the valley itself. It must have ploughed the valley bottom over and over again, grinding all the materials beneath it into a fine powder or reducing them to small pebbles, and it must have accumulated at its lower end a moraine of proportions as gigantic as its own; thus building a colossal sea-wall across the mouth of the valley. I shall be asked at once whether I have found here also the glacial inscriptions,—the furrows, striæ, and polished surfaces so characteristic of the ground over which glaciers have travelled. I answer, not a trace of them; for the simple reason that there is not a natural rock surface to be found throughout the whole Amazonian Valley. The rocks themselves are of so friable a nature, and the decomposition caused by the warm torrential rains and by exposure to the burning sun of the tropics so great and unceasing, that it is hopeless to look for marks which in colder climates and on harder substances are preserved through ages unchanged. With the exception of the rounded surfaces so well known in Switzerland as the roches moutonnées heretofore alluded to, which may be seen in many localities, and the boulders of Erreré, the direct traces of glaciers as seen in other countries are wanting here. I am, indeed, quite willing to admit that, from the nature of the circumstances, I have not here the positive evidence which has guided me in my previous glacial investigations. My conviction in this instance is founded, first, on the materials in the Amazonian Valley, which correspond exactly in their character to materials accumulated in glacier bottoms; secondly, on the resemblance of the upper or third Amazonian formation to the Rio drift,[C] of the glacial origin of which there cannot, in my opinion, be any doubt; thirdly, on the fact that this fresh-water basin must have been closed against the sea by some powerful barrier, the removal of which would naturally give an outlet to the waters, and cause the extraordinary denudations, the evidences of which meet us everywhere throughout the valley.

On a smaller scale, phenomena of this kind have long been familiar to us. In the present lakes of Northern Italy, in those of Switzerland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as in those of New England, especially in the State of Maine, the waters are held back in their basins by moraines. In the ice period these depressions were filled with glaciers, which, in the course of time, accumulated at their lower end a wall of loose materials. These walls still remain, and serve as dams to prevent the escape of the waters. But for their moraines, all these lakes would be open valleys. In the Roads of Glen Roy, in Scotland, we have an instance of a fresh-water lake, which has now wholly disappeared, formed in the same manner, and reduced successively to lower and lower levels by the breaking down or wearing away of the moraines which originally prevented its waters from flowing out. Assuming then, that, under the low temperature of the ice period, the climatic conditions necessary for the formation of land-ice existed in the Valley of the Amazons, and that it was actually filled with an immense glacier, it follows that, when these fields of ice yielded to a gradual change of climate, and slowly melted away, the whole basin, then closed[Pg 164] against the sea by a huge wall of débris, was transformed into a vast fresh-water lake. The first effect of the thawing process must have been to separate the glacier from its foundation, raising it from immediate contact with the valley bottom, and thus giving room for the accumulation of a certain amount of water beneath it; while the valley as a whole would still be occupied by the glacier. In this shallow sheet of water under the ice, and protected by it from any violent disturbance, those finer triturated materials always found at a glacier bottom, and ground sometimes to powder by its action, would be deposited, and gradually transformed from an unstratified paste containing the finest sand and mud, together with coarse pebbles and gravel, into a regularly stratified formation. In this formation the coarse materials would of course fall to the bottom, while the most minute would settle above them. It is at this time and under such circumstances that I believe the first formation of the Amazonian Valley, with the coarse, pebbly sand beneath, and the finely laminated clays above, to have been accumulated.

I shall perhaps be reminded here of my fossil leaves, and asked how any vegetation would be possible under such circumstances. But it must be remembered, that, in considering all these periods, we must allow for immense lapses of time and for very gradual changes; that the close of this first period would be very different from its beginning; and that a rich vegetation springs on the very borders of the snow and ice fields in Switzerland. The fact that these were accumulated in a glacial basin would, indeed, at once account for the traces of vegetable life, and for the absence, or at least the great scarcity, of animal remains in these deposits. For while fruits may ripen and flowers bloom on the very edge of the glaciers, it is also well known that the fresh-water lakes formed by the melting of the ice are singularly deficient in life. There are indeed hardly any animals to be found in glacial lakes.

The second formation belongs to a later period, when, the whole body of ice being more or less disintegrated, the basin contained a larger quantity of water. Beside that arising from the melting of the ice, this immense valley bottom must have received, then as now, all which was condensed from the atmosphere above, and poured into it in the form of rain or dew. Thus an amount of water equal to that now flowing in from all the tributaries of the main stream must have been rushing towards the axis of the valley, seeking its natural level, but spreading over a more extensive surface than now, until, finally gathered up as separate rivers, it flowed in distinct beds. In its general movement toward the central and lower part of the valley, the broad stream would carry along all the materials small enough to be so transported, as well as those so minute as to remain suspended in the waters. It would gradually deposit them in the valley bottom in horizontal beds, more or less regular, or here and there, wherever eddies gave rise to more rapid and irregular currents, characterized by torrential stratification. Thus has been consolidated in the course of ages that continuous sand formation spreading over the whole Amazonian basin, and attaining a thickness of eight hundred feet.

While these accumulations were taking place within this basin, it must not be forgotten that the sea was beating against its outer walls,—against that gigantic moraine which I suppose to have closed it at its eastern end. It would seem that, either from this cause, or perhaps in consequence of some turbulent action from within, a break was made in this defence, and the waters rushed violently out. It is very possible that the waters, gradually swollen at the close of this period by the further melting of the ice, by the additions poured in from lateral tributaries, by the rains, and also by the filling of the basin with loose materials, would overflow, and thus contribute to destroy[Pg 165] the moraine. However this may be, it follows from my premises that, in the end, these waters obtained a sudden release, and poured seaward with a violence which cut and denuded the deposits already formed, wearing them down to a much lower level, and leaving only a few remnants standing out in their original thickness, where the strata were solid enough to resist the action of the currents. Such are the hills of Monte Alegre, of Obydos, Almeyrim, and Cupati, as well as the lower ridges of Santarem. This escape of the waters did not, however, entirely empty the whole basin; for the period of denudation was again followed by one of quiet accumulation, during which was deposited the ochraceous sandy clay resting upon the denudated surfaces of the underlying sandstone. To this period I refer the boulders of Erreré, sunk as they are in the clay of this final deposit. I suppose them to have been brought to their present position by floating ice at the close of the glacial period, when nothing remained of the ice-fields except such isolated masses,—ice-rafts as it were; or perhaps by icebergs dropped into the basin from glaciers still remaining in the Andes and on the edges of the plateaus of Guiana and Brazil. From the general absence of stratification in this clay formation, it would seem that the comparatively shallow sheet of water in which it was deposited was very tranquil. Indeed, after the waters had sunk much below the level which they held during the deposition of the sandstone, and the currents which gave rise to the denudation of the latter had ceased, the whole sheet of water would naturally become much more placid. But the time came when the water broke through its boundaries again, perhaps owing to the further encroachment of the sea and consequent destruction of the moraine. In this second drainage, however, the waters, carrying away a considerable part of the new deposit, furrowing it to its very foundation, and even cutting through it into the underlying sandstone, were, in the end, reduced to something like their present level, and confined within their present beds. This is shown by the fact that in this ochre-colored clay, and penetrating to a greater or less depth the sandstone below, are dug, not only the great longitudinal channel of the Amazons itself, but also the lateral furrows through which its tributaries reach the main stream, and the network of anastomosing branches flowing between them; the whole forming the most extraordinary river system in the world.

My assumption that the sea has produced very extensive changes in the coast of Brazil—changes more than sufficient to account for the disappearance of the glacial wall which I suppose to have closed the Amazonian Valley in the ice period—is by no means hypothetical. This action is still going on to a remarkable degree, and is even now rapidly modifying the outline of the shore. When I first arrived at Pará, I was struck with the fact that the Amazons, the largest river in the world, has no delta. All the other rivers which we call great, though some of them are insignificant as compared with the Amazons,—the Mississippi, the Nile, the Ganges, and the Danube,—deposit extensive deltas, and the smaller rivers also, with few exceptions, are constantly building up the land at their mouths by the materials they bring along with them. Even the little river Kander, emptying into the Lake of Thun, is not without its delta. Since my return from the Upper Amazons to Pará, I have made an examination of some of the harbor islands, and also of parts of the coast, and have satisfied myself that, with the exception of a few small, low islands, never rising above the sea-level, and composed of alluvial deposit, they are portions of the mainland detached from it, partly by the action of the river itself, and partly by the encroachment of the ocean. In fact the sea is eating away the land much faster than the river can build it up. The great island of Marajo was originally a continuation of the[Pg 166] Valley of the Amazons, and is identical with it in every detail of its geological structure. My investigation of the island itself, in connection with the coast and the river, leads me to suppose that, having been at one time an integral part of the deposits described above, at a later period it became an island in the bed of the Amazons, which, dividing in two arms, encircled it completely, and then, joining again to form a single stream, flowed onward to the sea-shore, which in those days lay much farther to the eastward than it now does. I suppose the position of the island of Marajo at that time to have corresponded very nearly to the present position of the island of Tupinambaranas, just at the junction of the Madeira with the Amazons. It is a question among geographers whether the Tocantins is a branch of the Amazons, or should be considered as forming an independent river system. It will be seen that, if my view is correct, it must formerly have borne the same relation to the Amazons that the Madeira River now does, joining it just where Marajo divided the main stream, as the Madeira now joins it at the head of the island of Tupinambaranas. If in countless centuries to come the ocean should continue to eat its way into the Valley of the Amazons, once more transforming the lower part of the basin into a gulf, as it was during the cretaceous period, the time might arrive when geographers, finding the Madeira emptying almost immediately into the sea, would ask themselves whether it had ever been indeed a branch of the Amazons, just as they now question whether the Tocantins is a tributary of the main stream or an independent river. But to return to Marajo, and to the facts actually in our possession.

The island is intersected, in its south-eastern end, by a considerable river called the Igarapé Grande. The cut made through the land by this stream seems intended to serve as a geological section, so perfectly does it display the three characteristic Amazonian formations above described. At its mouth, near the town of Souré, and at Salvaterra, on the opposite bank, may be seen, lowest, the well-stratified sandstone, with the finely laminated clays resting upon it, overtopped by a crust; then the cross-stratified, highly ferruginous sandstone, with quartz pebbles here and there; and, above all, the well-known ochraceous, unstratified sandy clay, spreading over the undulating surface of the denudated sandstone, following all its inequalities, and filling all its depressions and furrows. But while the Igarapé Grande has dug its channel down to the sea, cutting these formations, as I ascertained, to a depth of twenty-five fathoms, it has thus opened the way for the encroachments of the tides, and the ocean is now, in its turn, gaining upon the land. Were there no other evidence of the action of the tides in this locality, the steep cut of the Igarapé Grande, contrasting with the gentle slope of the banks near its mouth, wherever they have been, modified by the invasion of the sea, would enable us to distinguish the work of the river from that of the ocean, and to prove that the denudation now going on is due in part to both. But besides this, I was so fortunate as to discover here unmistakable and perfectly convincing evidence of the onward movement of the sea. At the mouth of the Igarapé Grande, both at Souré and at Salvaterra, on the southern side of the Igarapé, is a submerged forest. Evidently this forest grew in one of those marshy lands constantly inundated, for between the stumps is accumulated the loose, felt-like peat characteristic of such grounds, and containing about as much mud as vegetable matter. Such a marshy forest, with the stumps of the trees still standing erect in the peat, has been laid bare on both sides of the Igarapé Grande by the encroachments of the ocean. That this is the work of the sea is undeniable, for all the little depressions and indentations of the peat are filled with sea-sand, and a ridge of tidal sand divides it from the forest still standing behind. Nor is[Pg 167] this all. At Vigia, immediately opposite to Souré, on the continental side of the Pará River, just where it meets the sea, we have the counterpart of this submerged forest. Another peat-bog, with the stumps of innumerable trees standing in it, and encroached upon in the same way by tidal sand, is exposed here also. No doubt these forests were once all continuous, and stretched across the whole basin of what is now called the Pará River.

Since I have been pursuing this inquiry, I have gathered much information to the same effect from persons living on the coast. It is well remembered that, twenty years ago, there existed an island, more than a mile in width, to the northeast of the entrance of the Bay of Vigia, which has now entirely disappeared. Farther eastward, the Bay of Braganza has doubled its width in the last twenty years, and on the shore, within the bay, the sea has gained upon the land for a distance of two hundred yards during a period of only ten years. The latter fact is ascertained by the position of some houses, which were two hundred yards farther from the sea ten years ago than they now are. From these and the like reports, from my own observations on this part of the Brazilian coast, from some investigations made by Major Coutinho at the mouth of the Amazons, on its northern continental shore, near Macapa, and from the reports of Mr. St. John respecting the formations in the valley of the Paranahyba, it is my belief that the changes I have been describing are but a small part of the destruction wrought by the sea on the northeastern shore of this continent. I think it will be found, when the coast has been fully surveyed, that a strip of land not less than a hundred leagues in width, stretching from Cape St. Roque to the northern extremity of South America, has been eaten away by the ocean. If this be so, the Paranahyba and the rivers to the northwest of it, in the province of Maranham, were formerly tributaries of the Amazons; and all that we know thus far of their geological character goes to prove that this was actually the case. Such an extensive oceanic denudation must have carried away not only the gigantic glacial moraine here assumed to have closed the mouth of the Amazonian basin, but the very ground on which it stood.

During the last four or five years I have been engaged in a series of investigations, in the United States, upon the subject of the denudations connected with the close of the glacial period there, and the encroachments of the ocean upon the drift deposits along the Atlantic coast. Had these investigations been published in detail, with the necessary maps, it would have been far easier for me to explain the facts I have lately observed in the Amazonian Valley, to connect them with facts of a like character on the continent of North America, and to show how remarkably they correspond with facts accomplished during the same period in other parts of the world. While the glacial epoch itself has been very extensively studied in the last half-century, little attention has been paid to the results connected with the breaking up of the geological winter and the final disappearance of the ice. I believe that the true explanation of the presence of a large part of the superficial deposits lately ascribed to the agency of the sea, during temporary subsidences of the land, will be found in the melting of the ice-fields. To this cause I would refer all those deposits which I have designated in former publications as remodelled drift. When the sheet of ice, extending from the Arctic regions over a great part of North America and coming down to the sea, slowly melted away, the waters were not distributed over the face of the country as they now are. They rested upon the bottom deposits of the ice-fields, upon the glacial paste, consisting of clay, sand, pebbles, boulders, etc., underlying the ice. This bottom deposit did not, of course, present an even surface, but must have had extensive undulations and depressions. After[Pg 168] the waters had been drained off from the more elevated ridges, these depressions would still remain full. In the lakes and pools thus formed, stratified deposits would be accumulated, consisting of the most minutely comminuted clay, deposited in thin laminated layers, or sometimes in considerable masses, without any sign of stratification; such differences in the formation being determined by the state of the water, whether perfectly stagnant or more or less agitated. Of such pool deposits overlying the drift there are many instances in the Northern United States. By the overflowing of some of these lakes, and by the emptying of the higher ones into those on a lower level, channels would gradually be formed between the depressions. So began to be marked out our independent river-systems,—the waters always seeking their natural level, gradually widening and deepening the channels in which they flowed, as they worked their way down to the sea. When they reached the shore, there followed that antagonism between the rush of the rivers and the action of the tides,—between continental outflows and oceanic encroachments,—which still goes on, and has led to the formation of our eastern rivers, with their wide, open estuaries, such as the James, the Potomac, and the Delaware. All these estuaries are embanked by drift, as are also, in their lower course, the rivers connected with them. Where the country was low and flat, and the drift extended far into the ocean, the encroachment of the sea gave rise, not only to our large estuaries, but also to the sounds and deep bays forming the most prominent indentations of the continental coast, such as the Bay of Fundy, Massachusetts Bay, Long Island Sound, and others. The unmistakable traces of glacial action upon all the islands along the coast of New England, sometimes lying at a very considerable distance from the mainland, give an approximate, though a minimum, measure of the former extent of the glacial drift seaward, and the subsequent advance of the ocean upon the land. Like those of the harbor of Pará, all these islands have the same geological structure as the continent, and were evidently continuous with it at some former period. All the rocky islands along the coast of Maine and Massachusetts exhibit the glacial traces wherever their surfaces are exposed by the washing away of the drift; and where the drift remains, its character shows that it was once continuous from one island to another, and from all the islands to the mainland.

It is difficult to determine with precision the ancient limit of the glacial drift, but I think it can be shown that it connected the shoals of Newfoundland with the continent; that Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and Long Island made part of the mainland; that, in like manner, Nova Scotia, including Sable Island, was united to the southern shore of New Brunswick and Maine, and that the same sheet of drift extended thence to Cape Cod, and stretched southward as far as Cape Hatteras;—in short, that the line of shallow soundings along the whole coast of the United States marks the former extent of glacial drift. The ocean has gradually eaten its way into this deposit, and given its present outlines to the continent. These denudations of the sea no doubt began as soon as the breaking up of the ice exposed the drift to its invasion; in other words, at a time when colossal glaciers still poured forth their load of ice into the Atlantic, and fleets of icebergs, far larger and more numerous than those now floated off from the Arctic seas, were launched from the northeastern shore of the United States. Many such masses must have stranded along the shore, and have left various signs of their presence. In fact, the glacial phenomena of the United States and elsewhere are due to two distinct periods: the first of these was the glacial epoch proper, when the ice was a solid sheet; while to the second belongs the breaking up of this epoch, with the gradual disintegration and dispersion of the ice. We[Pg 169] talk of the theory of glaciers and the theory of icebergs in reference to these phenomena, as if they were exclusively due to one or the other, and whoever accepted the former must reject the latter, and vice versa. When geologists have combined these now discordant elements, and consider these two periods as consecutive,—part of the phenomena being due to the glaciers, part to the icebergs and to freshets consequent on their breaking up,—they will find they have covered the whole ground, and that the two theories are perfectly consistent with each other. I think the present disputes upon this subject will end somewhat like those which divided the Neptunic and Plutonic schools of geologists in the early part of this century; the former of whom would have it that all the rocks were due to the action of water, the latter that they were wholly due to the action of fire. The problem was solved, and harmony restored, when it was found that both elements had been equally at work in forming the solid crust of the globe. To the stranded icebergs alluded to above, I have no doubt, is to be referred the origin of the many lakes without outlet existing all over the sandy tract along our coast of which Cape Cod forms a part. Not only the formation of these lakes, but also that of our salt marshes and cranberry-fields, I believe to be connected with the waning of the ice period.

I hope at some future time to publish in detail, with the appropriate maps and illustrations, my observations on our coast changes, and upon other phenomena connected with the close of the glacial epoch in the United States. It is reversing the natural order of things to give results without the investigations which have led to them; and I should not have introduced the subject here except to show that the fresh-water denudations and the oceanic encroachments which have formed the Amazonian Valley, with its river system, are not isolated facts, but that the process has been the same in both continents. The extraordinary continuity and uniformity of the Amazonian deposits are due to the immense size of the basin enclosed, and the identity of the materials contained in it.

A glance at any geological map of the world will show the reader that the Valley of the Amazons, so far as any attempt is made to explain its structure, is represented as containing isolated tracts of Devonian, Triassic, Jurassic, cretaceous, tertiary, and alluvial deposits. As is shown by the above sketch, this is wholly inaccurate; and whatever may be thought of my interpretation of the actual phenomena, I trust that, in presenting for the first time the formations of the Amazonian basin in their natural connection and sequence, as consisting of three uniform sets of comparatively recent deposits, extending throughout the whole valley, the investigations here recorded have contributed something to the results of modern geology.


[A] Bohn's edition of Humboldt's Personal Narrative, p. 134. Humboldt alludes to these formations repeatedly; it is true that he refers them to the ancient conglomerates of the Devonian age, but his description agrees so perfectly with what I have observed along the banks of the Amazons, that there can be no doubt he speaks of the same thing. He wrote at a time when many of the results of modern geology were unknown, and his explanation of the phenomena was then perfectly natural. The passage from which the few lines in the text are taken shows that these deposits extend even to the Llanos.

[B] I am aware that Bates mentions having heard, that at Obydos calcareous layers, thickly studded with marine shells, had been found interstratified with the clay, but he did not himself examine the strata. The Obydos shells are not marine, but are fresh-water Unios, greatly resembling Aviculas, Solens, and Arcas. Such would-be marine fossils have been brought to me from the shore opposite to Obydos, near Santarem, and I have readily recognised them for what they truly are, fresh-water shells of the family of Naiades. I have myself collected specimens of these shells in the clay beds along the banks of the Solimoens, near Teffe, and might have mistaken them for fossils of that formation had I not known how Naiades burrow in the mud. Their resemblance to the marine genera mentioned above is very remarkable, and the mistake as to their true zoological character is as natural as that by which earlier ichthyologists, and even travellers of very recent date, have confounded some fresh-water fishes from the Upper Amazons of the genus Pterophyllum (Heckel) with the marine genus Platax.

[C] As I have stated in the beginning, I am satisfied that the unstratified clay deposit of Rio and its vicinity is genuine glacial drift, resulting from the grinding of the loose materials interposed between the glacier and the solid rock in place, and retaining to this day the position in which it was left by the ice. Like all such accumulations, it is totally free from stratification. If this be so, it is evident, on comparing the two formations, that the ochraceous sandy clay of the Valley of the Amazons has been deposited under different circumstances; that, while it owes its resemblance to the Rio drift to the fact that its materials were originally ground by glaciers in the upper part of the valley, these materials have subsequently been spread throughout the whole basin and actually deposited under the agency of water.

[Pg 170]


I am a maniac. I have for some years been the victim of a peculiar insanity, which has greatly distressed several of my friends and relatives. They generally soften it in their talk by the name monomania; but they do not hesitate to aver, when speaking their minds, that it has in truth infected my whole soul, and made me incapable of doing or thinking anything useful or rational. This sad delusion, which they endeavor to remove by serious advice, by playful banter, or by seeming to take an interest in my folly for a moment, is encountered with great acrimony by less gentle friends. They who are not bound to me by blood or intimacy—and some who are—deride, insult, and revile me in every way for my subjection to a mental aberration which is rapidly consuming a pretty property, more than average talents, and unrivalled opportunities.

Of course, like all madmen, I think just the reverse. When the fit is on me, I assert that this fever—this madness—far from being the bane of my life, is a blessing to it; that I am habitually devoting money, time, and wits to an object at once beautiful and elevating; that I have found consolation in its visions for many sufferings, which all the amusements offered me by my revilers are utterly inadequate to touch. I declare that I have found a better investment for my money than all the West Virginia coal companies that ever sunk oil-wells, and am making more useful acquaintances than if I danced every German during the season. I have not been shut up yet, for my friends know that, if they attempt any such thing, the Finance Committee on the Harvard Memorial and Alumni Hall are in possession of a bond conveying all my money to them; so I am still at large, scolded by my brother Henry, laughed at by my sister Bathsheba, the aversion of Beacon Street, and the scorn of Winthrop Square.

The other day, I took a little journey to Europe, with the view of feeding my madness on that whereby it grows. My friends did not choose to stop me, for they thought the charms of foreign travel might win me from my waywardness. To be sure, when they found, on my return, that I had never left England, they were convinced, if never before, that I was hopelessly insane; for what American, they very sanely said, "would stay in that dull, dingy island, among those stupid, cowardly bullies, when he might live in that lovely Paris, the most interesting and amusing city in the world, unless he were incomprehensibly mad." And, in truth, I begin to think I must be mad, when I find myself, like the man shut up with eleven obstinate jurymen, alone in thinking England a gay, beautiful, happy country, teeming with every gratification of art or nature, and inhabited by a manly, generous, and intelligent race; and that life in Paris, as Americans live it, is a senseless rush after excitement, where comfort is abandoned for unreal luxury, and society for vicious boon-companionship. Still I am very willing to admit that my special mania can be very capitally gratified in Paris, and I am meditating a little trip there for the purpose.

On my return from England, I was observed to be in great distress about a certain box that I missed at Liverpool, looked for at Halifax, and all but lost at East Boston; and when it was found and opened, it only contained two suits of clothes, when, as Henry said, "I might have brought forty, the only thing they did have decent in England," and all the rest—mad, mad! I beg the readers of the Atlantic to listen to my humble confession of madness, as it culminated in this box.

It is this. The most valuable property a man can possibly have is books; if he has a hundred or a thousand dollars to spare, he had better at once put[Pg 171] it into books than into any "paying investments," or any horses, clothes, pictures, or opera-tickets. A life passed among books, thinking, talking, living only for books, is the most amusing and improving life; and to make this possible, the acquisition of a library should be the first object of any one who makes any claim to the possession of luxuries. (My madness only allows me to make one exception,—I do acknowledge the solemn duty of laying in a stock of old Madeira.) But so far I have many fellow-maniacs. The special reason why I ought always to stop the Lowell cars at Somerville is, that I consider the reading of books only half the battle. I must have them in choice bindings, in rare imprints, in original editions, and in the most select forms. I must have several copies of a book I have read forty times, as long as there is anything about each copy that makes it peculiar, sui generis. I must own the first edition of Paradise Lost, because it is the first, and in ten books; the second, because it is the first in twelve; then Newton's, then Todd's, then Mitford's, and so on, till my catalogue of Miltons gets to equal Jeames de la Pluche's portraits of the "Dook." "And when," as Henry indignantly says, "he could read Milton all he wanted to, more than I should ever want to, notes and all, in Little and Brown's edition that father gave him, he must go spending money on a parcel of old truck printed a thousand years ago." Mad, quite mad.

Now, to finish the melancholy picture, I am classic mad. I prefer the ancient authors, decidedly, to the moderns. I love them as I never can the moderns; they are my most intimate friends, my heart's own darlings. And how I love to lavish money on them, to see them adorned in every way! How I love to heap them up, Aldines, and Elzevirs, and Baskervilles, and Biponts, in all their grace and majesty. This was what filled that London box. This was all I had to show for twenty-five or thirty guineas of good money; a parcel of trumpery old Greek and Latin books I had by dozens already! Mad, mad.

Will you come in and see them, ladies and gentlemen? Here they are, all ranged out on my table, large and small, clean and dirty. What have we first?

A goodly fat quarto in white vellum, "Plinii Panegyricus, cum notis Schwarzii, Norimbergæ, 1733." A fine, clean, fresh copy,—one of those brave old Teutonic classics of the last century, less exquisitely printed than the Elzevirs, less learnedly critical than the later Germans, but perfectly trustworthy and satisfactory, and attracting every one's eye on a library shelf, by the rich sturdiness of their creamy binding, that smacks of the true Dutch and German burgher wealth. The model of them all is Oudendorp's Cæsar. But there is nothing very great about Pliny's Panegyric, and a man must be a very queer bibliomaniac who would buy up all the vellum classics of the last century he saw. Look inside the cover; read under the book-plate the engraved name, "Edward Gibbon, Esq." What will you, my sanest friend, not give for a book that belonged to the author of the "Decline and Fall"?

The next is also a large quarto, but of a very different character. It is the Baskerville impression of the elegiac poets,—Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius: Birmingham, 1772. No books are more delightful to sight and touch than the Baskerville classics. This Catullus of mine is printed on the softest and glossiest post paper, with a mighty margin of two inches and a half at the side, and rich broad letters,—the standard n is a tenth of an inch wide,—of a glorious blackness in spite of their ninety-two years of age. The classics of all languages have never been more fitly printed than by Baskerville; and the present book may serve as an admirable lesson to those who think a large-paper book means an ordinary octavo page printed in the middle of a quarto leaf,—for instance; Irving's Washington. My Catullus is[Pg 172] bound in glossy calf, with a richly gilt back, and bears within the inscription, "From H. S. C. | to her valued friend | Doctor Southey | Feby ye 24th, 1813," in a true English lady's hand. This cannot be the poet Southey, who was not made LL. D. till 1821; but it may be his brother, Henry Herbert Southey, M. D.

Next comes a very neat and compact little Seneca, in four 18mo volumes, bound in rich old Russia, and bearing the esteemed imprint, "Amstelodami apud Ludovicum et Danielem Elzevirios, M.D.CLVIII." As the Baskerville classics are the noblest for the library table, so the Elzevirs are the neatest and prettiest for the pocket or the lecture-room. And to their great beauty of mechanical execution is generally added a scrupulous textual accuracy, which the great Birmingham printer did not boast. This edition of Seneca, for instance, is that of Gronovius. His dedicatory epistle, and the title-pages of Vols. II., III. and IV., are all dated 1658, but the general title-page in Vol. I. is 1659, as if, like White's Shakespeare, the first volume was the last published. Contrasting a bijou edition with a magnificent one, it may be noted that in the Elzevir the four words and two stops, "Moriar: die ergo verum," occupy just an inch, exactly the space of the one word "compositis" in the Baskerville; but the printing of each is in its way exquisite.

Just about a century after the Elzevirs, and contemporary with Baskerville, an English publisher of the name of Sandby, who appears to have been, as we should say, the University printer and bookseller at Cambridge, projected a series of classics, which are highly prized on large paper and not despised on small. I possess two of the latter, a Terence and a Juvenal; the second, curiously enough, lettered "Juvenalus," a regular binder's blunder. They are called pocket editions, but are much larger than the Elzevirs, and, though very pretty, just miss that peculiar beauty and finish which have made the former the delight of all scholars. There is a carelessness somewhere—it is hard to say where—about the printing, which prevents their being perfect; but a "Sandby" is a very nice thing.

My next "wanity" is a Virgil,—Justice's Virgil; a most elaborate and elegant edition, in five octavo volumes, published in the middle of the last century. It is noted, first, for the great richness and beauty of its engravings from ancient gems, coins, and drawings, which form an unrivalled body of illustration to the text. But, secondly, it will be seen, on inspection, that the whole book is one vast engraving, every line, word, and letter being cut on a metallic plate. Consequently, only every other page is printed on. The same idea was still more perfectly carried out by Pine, a few years later, who executed all Horace in this way, but only lived to complete one volume of Virgil, choicer even than Justice's. It is well bound, in perfect order, and ranks with the choicest of ornamental classics.

Side by side with this Virgil is another, the rare Elzevir Virgil, and a gem, if ever there was one. It is the corrected text of Heinsius, and thus has a fair claim to rank as the earliest of the modern critical editions of Maro. The elegance of this little book in size and shape, the clearness and beauty of the type, and the truly classical taste and finish of the whole design, can never be surpassed in Virgilian bibliography, unless by Didot's matchless little copies. Elzevir Virgils are common enough; but mine is, as I have said, the rare Elzevir, known by the pages introductory to the Eclogues and Æneid being printed in rubric, while the ordinary Elzevirs have them in black. It dates 1637,—the year when John Harvard left his money to the College at Newtowne, and the first printing-press in the United States was set up hard by.

The books, then, that I have described so far all date within the two hundred and thirty years of our collegiate history. But I have behind three of an earlier—a much earlier date; books which John Cotton and Charles[Pg 173] Chauncy might have gazed upon as old in Emmanuel College Library.

First, I show you a pair of Aldines, and, what is better, a pair editionum principum,—the first Sophocles and the first Thucydides. Both have the proper attestation at the end that they come from the Aldi in Venice in the year 1502,—the Thucydides in May, and the Sophocles in August; hence the former has not the Aldine anchor at the extreme end. Both are in exquisitely clean condition; but the Sophocles, though taller than other known copies of the same edition, has suffered from the knife of a modern binder, who otherwise has done his work with the greatest elegance and judgment. The Thucydides has a grand page, over twelve inches by eight; the Sophocles is about seven by four. The type of both is small, and, though distinct, especially the Thucydides, not at all what we should call elegant. In fact, elegant Greek type is a very late invention. There is, I believe, no claim to textual criticism in these early Aldines; the publishers printed from such manuscripts as they could get. The Thucydides has a long dedicatory address by Aldus to a Roman patrician; the Sophocles has no such introduction. But it is, at any rate, most curious to consider that these two writers, who stand at the very head of Greek, or at least Attic, prose and verse, both for matter and style, should not have found a printer till the fifteenth century was long past, and then in a style which, for the Sophocles, can only be called neat. The Thucydides is handsome, but far inferior to the glory of the princeps Homer. And to own them—for a maniac—O, it is glorious!

Last comes my special treasure,—my fifteener,—my book as old as America,—my darling copy of my darling author. Here, at the culmination of my madness, my friends, especially my brother Henry, are all ready to say at once what author I mean. For it has been my special mania for twenty years—thereby causing the deepest distress to nearly all my friends, even those who have been thought fellow-lunatics, except one,[D] who is for me about the only sane man alive—to prefer Virgil to all authors, living or dead, and to seek to accumulate as many different editions and copies of him as possible. I have in these pages chronicled two. My library holds twelve more, besides two translations, and I consider myself very short; for to my mind no breadth of paper, no weight of binding, no brilliancy of print, no delicacy of engraving, no elaboration of learning, can ever do honor enough to the last and best of the ancients, who was all but the first of the Christians,—who would have been, if his frame had not broken down under a genius too mighty and a soul too sweet for earth. (Mad, you see, beyond all question. Virgil is allowed to be a servile copyist, far inferior to Lucretius. Compare Lucr. V. 750 with Georg. II. 478, and Heyne's note.) This Virgil of mine bears the imprint of Antony Koburger, Nuremberg, 1492. It is in the original binding of very solid boards overlaid with stamped vellum, and is still clasped with the original skin and metal. It is a small folio, on very coarse paper, and the only one of my rare classics not in the cleanest condition. Its stains appear to be caused by its use in a school; for it is covered with notes, in German current hand, very antiquated, and very elementary in their scholarship. It has all the poetry ascribed to Virgil, and the Commentaries of Servius and Landini, which are so voluminous that the page looks like a ha'p'orth of sack to an intolerable deal of very dry bread. It is very rare, being unknown to the great Dibdin, and was snapped up by me for three guineas out of a London bookseller's catalogue. A Virgil printed by Koburger in the year America was discovered, original binding and clasps, not in Dibdin, for three guineas! Hurrah! It excites my madness so that I must rush straight to Piper's and buy right and left. Kind friends, come and take me away ere I am reduced to beggary.


[D] F. W. H. M., you know I mean you.

[Pg 174]




Five or six years of the life of our hero we must now pass over in silence, saying of them, simply, that Fancy had not cheated much in her promises concerning them. The first rude cabin had given place to a whitewashed cottage; the chimney-corner was bright and warm; the easy-chair was in it, and the Widow Walker often sat there with her grandson on her knee, getting much comfort from the reflection that he looked just as her own Johnny did when he was a baby!

The garden smiled at the doorside, and the village had sprung up just as Fancy promised; and Hobert and Jenny walked to church of a Sunday, and after service shook hands with their neighbors,—for everybody delighted to take their strong, willing hands, and look into their honest, cheerful faces,—they were amongst the first settlers of the place, and held an honored position in society. Jenny was grown a little more stout, and her cheek a little more ruddy, than it used to be; but the new country seemed not so well suited to Hobert, and the well-wishing neighbor often said when he met him, "You mustn't be too ambitious, and overdo! Your shoulders ain't so straight as they was when you come here! Be careful in time; nothing like that, Walker, nothing like that." And Hobert laughed at these suggestions, saying he was as strong as the rest of them; and that, though his cheek was pale, and his chest hollow, he was a better man than he seemed.

The summer had been one of the wildest luxuriance ever known in the valley of the Wabash; for it was in that beautiful valley that our friend Hobert had settled. The woods cast their leaves early, and the drifts lay rotting knee-deep in places. Then came the long, hot, soaking rains, with hotter sunshine between. Chills and fever prevailed, and half the people of the neighborhood were shivering and burning at once. It was a healthy region, everybody said, but the weather had been unusually trying; as soon as the frost came, the ague would vanish; the water was the best in the world, to be sure, and the air the purest.

Hobert was ploughing a piece of low ground for wheat, cutting a black snake in two now and then, and his furrow behind him fast filling with water that looked almost as black as the soil. Often he stopped to frighten from the quivering flank of the brown mare before him the voracious horse-flies, colored like the scum of the stagnant pools, and clinging and sucking like leeches. She was his favorite, the pride of his farm,—for had she not, years before, brought Jenny on her faithful shoulder to the new, happy home? Many a fond caress her neck had had from his arm; and the fine bridle with the silver bit, hanging on the wall at home, would not have been afforded for any other creature in the world. Hobert often said he would never sell her as long as he lived; and in the seasons of hard work he favored her more than he did himself. She had been named Fleetfoot, in honor of her successful achievement when her master had intrusted to her carrying the treasure of his life; but that name proving too formal, she was usually called Fleety. She would put down her forehead to the white hands of little Jenny, four years old and upward now, and tread so slow and so carefully when she had her on her back! Even the white dress of Johnny Hobert had swept down her silken side more than[Pg 175] once, while his dimpled hands clutched her mane, and his rosy feet paddled against her. He was going to be her master after a while, and take care of her in her old age, when the time of her rest was come; he knew her name as well as he knew his own, and went wild with delight when he saw her taking clover from the tiny hand of his sister or drinking water from the bucket at the well.

"She grows handsomer every year," Hobert often said; "and with a little training I would not be afraid to match her against the speediest racer they can bring." And this remark was always intended as in some sort a compliment to Jenny, and was always so received by her.

On this special day he had stopped oftener in the furrow than common; and as often as he stopped Fleety twisted round her neck, bent her soft eyes upon him, and twitched her little ears as though she would say, "Is not all right, my master?" And then he would walk round to her head, and pass his hand along her throat and through her foretop, calling her by her pet name, and pulling for her handfuls of fresh grass, and while she ate it resting himself against her, and feeling in her nearness almost a sense of human protection. His feet seemed to drag under him, and there was a dull aching in all his limbs; the world appeared to be receding from him, and at times he could hardly tell whether he stood upon solid ground. Then he accused himself of being lazy and good for nothing, and with fictitious energy took up the reins and started the plough.

He looked at the sun again and again. He was not used to leaving off work while the sun shone, and the clear waters of the Wabash held as yet no faintest evening flush. There were yet two good hours of working time before him, when the quick shooting of a pain, like the running of a knife through his heart, caused him to stagger in the furrow. Fleety stopped of her own accord, and looked pityingly back. He sat down beside the plough to gather up his courage a little. A strange sensation that he could not explain had taken possession of him, a feeling as if the hope of his life was cut off. The pain was gone, but the feeling of helpless surrender remained. He opened his shirt and passed his hand along his breast. He could feel nothing,—could see nothing; but he had, for all that, a clearly defined consciousness as of some deadly thing hold of him that he would fain be rid of.

He had chanced to stop his plough under an elm-tree, and, looking up, he perceived that from the fork upward one half of it was dead; mistletoe had sucked the life out of it, and lower and lower to the main body, deeper and deeper to the vital heart of it, the sap was being drawn away. An irresistible impulse impelled him to take the jack-knife from his pocket, and as far as he could reach cut away this alien and deadly growth. The sympathy into which he was come with the dying tree was positively painful to him, and yet he was withheld from moving on by a sort of fascination,—he was that tree, and the mistletoe was rooted in his bosom!

The last yellow leaves fluttered down and lodged on his head and shoulders and in his bosom,—he did not lift his hand to brush them away; the blue lizard slid across his bare ankle and silently vanished out of sight, but he did not move a muscle. The brown mare bent her side round like a bow, and stretched her slender neck out more and more, and at last her nose touched his cheek, and then he roused himself and shook the dead leaves from his head and shoulders, and stood up. "Come, Fleety," he said, "we won't leave the plough in the middle of the furrow." She did not move. "Come, come!" he repeated, "it seems like a bad sign to stop here";—and then he put his hand suddenly to his heart, and an involuntary shudder passed over him. Fleety had not unbent her side, and her dumb, beseeching eyes were still upon him. He looked at the sun, low, but still shining out bright,[Pg 176] and almost as hot as ever; he looked at his shadow stretching so far over the rough, weedy ground, and it appeared to him strange and fantastic. Then he loosed the traces, and, winding up the long rein, hung it over the harness; the plough dropped aslant, and Fleety turned herself about and walked slowly homeward,—her master following, his head down and his hands locked together behind him.

The chimney was sending up its hospitable smoke, and Jenny was at the well with the teakettle in her hand when he came into the dooryard.

"What in the world is going to happen?" she exclaimed, cheerfully. "I never knew you to leave work before while the sun shone. I am glad you have, for once. But what is the matter?"

He had come nearer now, and she saw that something of light and hope had gone out of his face. And then Hobert made twenty excuses,—there wasn't anything the matter, he said, but the plough was dull, and the ground wet and heavy, and full of green roots; besides, the flies were bad, and the mare tired.

"But you look so worn out, I am afraid you are sick, yourself!" interposed the good wife; and she went close to him, and pushed the hair, growing thinner now, away from his forehead, and looked anxiously in his face,—so anxiously, so tenderly, that he felt constrained to relieve her fears, even at some expense of the truth.

"Not to look well in your eyes is bad enough," he answered, with forced cheerfulness, "but I feel all right; never better, never better, Jenny!" And stooping to his little daughter, who was holding his knees, he caught her up, and tossed her high in the air, but put her down at once, seeming almost to let her fall out of his hands, and, catching for breath, leaned against the well-curb.

"What is it, Hobert? what is it?" and Jenny had her arm about him, and was drawing him toward the house.

"Nothing, nothing,—a touch of rheumatism, I guess,—no, no! I must take care of the mare first." And as she drank the water from the full bucket he held poised on the curb for her, he thought of the elm-tree in the field he had left, of the mistletoe sucking the life out of it, and of the unfinished furrow. "Never mind, Fleety," he said, as he led her away to the stable, "we'll be up betimes to-morrow, and make amends, won't we?"

"I believe, mother, I'll put on the new teacups!" Jenny said, as she set a chair before the cupboard, and climbed on it so as to reach the upper shelf. She had already spread the best table-cloth.

"Why, what for?" asked the provident mother, looking up from the sock she was knitting.

"O, I don't know; I want to make things look nice, that's all."

But she did know, though the feeling was only half defined. It seemed to her as if Hobert were some visitor coming,—not her husband. A shadowy feeling of insecurity had touched her; the commonness of custom was gone, and she looked from the window often, as the preparation for supper went on, with all the sweetness of solicitude with which she used to watch for his coming from under the grape-vines. Little Jenny was ready with the towel when he came with his face dripping, and the easy-chair was set by the door that looked out on the garden. "I don't want it," the good grandmother said, as he hesitated; "I have been sitting in it all day, and am tired of it!"

And as he sat there with his boy on his knee, and his little girl, who had climbed up behind him, combing his hair with her slender white fingers,—his own fields before him, and his busy wife making music about the house with her cheerful, hopeful talk,—he looked like a man to be envied; and so just then he was.

The next morning he did not fulfil his promise to himself by rising early; he had been restless and feverish all night, and now was chilly. If he lay till breakfast was ready, he would[Pg 177] feel better, Jenny said; she could milk, to be sure, and do all the rest of the work, and so he was persuaded. But when the breakfast was ready the chilliness had become a downright chill, so that the blankets that were over him shook like leaves in a strong wind.

Jenny had a little money of her own hidden away in the bottom of the new cream-pitcher. She had saved it, unknown to Hobert, from the sale of eggs and other trifles, and had meant to surprise him by appearing in a new dress some morning when the church-bell rang; but now she turned the silver into her hand and counted it, thinking what nice warm flannel it would buy to make shirts for Hobert. Of course he had them, and Jenny had not made any sacrifice that she knew of,—indeed, that is a word of which love knows not the meaning.

"We will have him up in a day or two," the women said, one to the other, as they busied themselves about the house, or sat at the bedside, doing those things that only the blessed hands of women can do, making those plans that only the loving hearts of women can make. But the day or two went by, and they didn't have Hobert up. Then they said to one another, "We must set to work in earnest; we have really done nothing for him as yet." And they plied their skill of nursing with new hope and new energy. Every morning he told them he was better, but in the afternoon it happened that he didn't feel quite like stirring about; he was still better, but he had a little headache, and was afraid of bringing on a chill.

"To be sure! you need rest and quiet; you have been working too hard, and it's only a wonder you didn't give out sooner!" So the two women said to him; and then they told him he looked better than he did yesterday, and, with much tender little caressing of neck and arms and hands, assured him that his flesh felt as healthy and nice as could be. Nevertheless, his eyes settled deeper and deeper, and gathered more and more of a leaden color about them; his skin grew yellow, and fell into wrinkles that were almost rigid, and that beseeching, yearning expression, made up of confidence in you, and terror of some nameless thing,—that look, as of a soul calling and crying to you, which follows you when you go farther than common from a sick-pillow,—all that terrible appealing was in his face; and often Jenny paused with her eyes away from him, when she saw that look,—paused, and steadied up her heart, before she could turn back and meet him with a smile.

And friendly neighbors came in of an evening, and told of the sick wife or boy at home; of the mildewed crop, and the lamed horse; of the brackish well, and of the clock bought from the pedler that wouldn't go, and wouldn't strike when it did go;—dwelling, in short, on all the darker incidents and accidents of life, and thus establishing a nearness and equality of relation to the sick man, that somehow soothed and cheered him. At these times he would be propped up in bed, and listen with sad satisfaction, sometimes himself entering with a sort of melancholy animation into the subject.

He would not as yet accept any offers of assistance. The wood-pile was getting low, certainly, and the plough still lying slantwise in the furrow; the corn-crop was to be gathered, and the potatoes to be got out of the ground,—but there was time enough yet! He didn't mean to indulge his laziness much longer,—not he!

And then the neighbor who had offered to serve him would laugh, and answer that he had not been altogether disinterested: he had only proposed to lend a helping hand, expecting to need the like himself some day. "Trouble comes to us all, Mr. Walker, and we don't know whose turn it will be next. I want to take out a little insurance,—that's all!"

"Well, another day, if I don't get better!"

And the long hot rains were over at last; the clouds drew themselves off,[Pg 178] and the sharp frosts, of a morning, were glistening far and near; the pumpkin-vines lay black along the ground, and the ungathered ears of corn hung black on the stalk.

Hobert was no better. But still the two women told each other they didn't think he was any worse. His disease was only an ague, common to the time of year and to the new country. It had come on so late it was not likely now that he would get the better of it before spring; making some little sacrifices for the present, they must all be patient and wait; and the nursing went on, till every device of nursing was exhausted, and one remedy after another was tried, and one after another utterly failed, and the fond hearts almost gave out. But there was the winter coming on, cold and long, and there was little Hobert, only beginning to stand alone, and prattling Jenny, with the toes coming through her shoes, and her shoulder showing flat and thin above her summer dress. Ah! there could be no giving out; the mother's petticoat must be turned into aprons for the pinched shoulders, and the knit-wool stockings must make amends for the worn-out shoes. So they worked, and work was their greatest blessing. A good many things were done without consulting Hobert at all, and he was led to believe that all went easily and comfortably; the neighbors, from time to time, lent the helping hand, without so much as asking leave; and by these means there were a few potatoes in the cellar, a little corn in the barn, and a load of wood under the snow at the door.

The table was not spread in the sickroom any more, as it had been for a while. They had thought it would amuse Hobert to see the little household ceremonies going on; but now they said it was better to avoid all unnecessary stir. Perhaps they thought it better that he should not see their scantier fare. Still they came into his presence very cheerfully, never hinting of hardship, never breathing the apprehension that began to trouble their hearts.

It was during these long winter evenings, when the neighbors sat by the fire and did what they could to cheer the sick man and the sad women, that the wonderful merits of the great Doctor Killmany began to be frequently discussed. Marvellous stories were told of his almost superhuman skill. He had brought back from the very gate of death scores of men and women who had been given up to die by their physicians,—so it was said; and special instances of cures were related that were certainly calculated to inspire hope and confidence. None of these good people could of their own knowledge attest these wonderful cures; but there were many circumstances that added weight to the force of the general rumor.

Dr. Killmany lived a great way off, and he charged a great price. He would not look at a man for less than a hundred dollars, so report said, and that was much in his favor. He had a very short way with patients,—asked no questions, and never listened to explanations,—but could tie down a man and take off his leg or arm, as the case might be, in an incredibly short space of time, paying as little heed to the cries and groans as to the buzzing of the flies. If anything further had been needed to establish his fame, it would have been found in the fact that he was very rich, wearing diamonds in his shirt-bosom, driving fine horses, and being, in fact, surrounded with all the luxuries that money can procure. Of course, he was a great doctor. How could it be otherwise? And it was enough to know that a Mr. A had seen a Mr. B who knew a Mr. C whose wife's mother was cured by him!

At first these things were talked of in hearing of the sick man; then there began to be whispers about the fire as to the possibility of persuading him to sell all that he had and go to the great Doctor; for it was now pretty generally felt that the ague was only the accompaniment of a more terrible disease.

Then at last it was suggested, as a wild pleasantry, by some daring visitor,[Pg 179] "Suppose, Hobert, we should send you off one of these days, and have you back after a few weeks, sound and vigorous as a young colt! What should you say to that, my boy?"

To the surprise of everybody, Hobert replied that he only wished it were possible.

"Possible! Why, of course it's possible! Where there's a will, you know!" And then it began to be talked of less as an insane dream.

One morning, as Jenny came into the sick man's room, she found him sitting up in bed with his shirt open and his hand on his breast.

"What is it, Hobert?" she said; for there was a look in his eyes that made her tremble.

"I don't know, Jenny; but whatever it is, it will be my death," he answered, and, falling upon her shoulder,—for she had come close to him and had her arm about his neck,—he sobbed like a child.

The little hand was slipped under his, but Jenny said she could feel nothing; and I think she will be forgiven for that falsehood. He was sick, she said, worn out, and it was no wonder that strange fancies should take possession of him. She had neglected him too much; but now, though everything should go to pieces, he should have her first care, and her last care, and all her care; he should not be left alone any more to conjure up horrors; and when he said he was weak and foolish and ashamed of his tears, she pacified him with petting and with praises. He was everything that was right, everything that was strong and manly. A little more patience, and then it would be spring, and the sunshine would make him well. She put the hair away from his forehead, and told him how fair in the face he was grown; and then she shoved his sleeve to his elbow, and told him that his arms were almost as plump as they ever were; and so he was comforted, cheered even, and they talked over the plans and prospects of years to come. At last he fell asleep with a bright smile of hope in his face, and Jenny stooped softly and kissed him, and, stealing away on tiptoe, hid herself from her good old mother and from the eyes of her children, and wept long and bitterly.

And the spring came, and Hobert crept out into the sunshine; but his cheek was pale, and his chest hollow, and there was more than the old listlessness upon him. As a tree that is dying will sometimes put forth sickly leaves and blossoms, and still be dying all the while, so it was with him. His hand was often on his breast, and his look often said, "This will be the death of me." The bees hummed in the flowers about his feet, the birds built their nests in the boughs above his head, and his children played about his knees; but his thoughts were otherwhere,—away beyond the dark river, away in that beautiful country where the inhabitants never say, "I am sick."

It was about midsummer that one Mrs. Brown, well known to Mrs. Walker's family, and to all the people of the neighborhood, as having suffered for many years with some strange malady which none of the doctors understood, sold the remnant of her property, having previously wasted nearly all she had upon physicians, and betook herself to the great Dr. Killmany. What her condition had actually been is not material to my story, nor is it necessary to say anything about the treatment she received at the hands of the great doctor. It is enough to say that it cost her her last dollar,—that she worked her slow way home as best she could, arriving there at last with shoes nearly off her feet and gown torn and faded, but with health considerably improved. That she had sold her last cow, and her feather-bed, and her teakettle, and her sheep-shears, and her grandfather's musket, all added wonderfully to the great doctor's reputation.

"You can't go to him if you don't go full-handed," said one to another; and he that heard it, and he that said it, laughed as though it were a good joke.

Some said he could see right through[Pg 180] a man: there was no need of words with him! And others, that he could take the brains out of the skull, or the bones out of the ankles, and leave the patient all the better for it. In short, there was nothing too extravagant to be said of him; and as for Mrs. Brown, the person who had seen her became semi-distinguished. She was invited all over the neighborhood, and her conversation was the most delightful of entertainments. Amongst the rest, she visited Mr. Walker; and through her instrumentality, his strong desire to see the great Dr. Killmany was shaped into purpose.

Two of the cows were sold, most of the farming implements, and such articles of household furniture as could be spared; and with all this the money realized was but a hundred and fifty dollars. Then Jenny proposed to sell her side-saddle; and when that was gone, she said Fleety might as well go with it. "If you only come home well, Hobert," she said, "we will soon be able to buy her back again; and if you don't—but you will!"

So Fleetfoot went with the rest; and when for the last time she was led up before the door, and ate grass from the lap of little Jenny, and put her neck down to the caressing hands of young Hobert, it was a sore trial to them all. She seemed half conscious herself, indeed, and exhibited none of her accustomed playfulness with the children, but stood in a drooping attitude, with her eye intent upon her master; and when they would have taken her away, she hung back, and, stretching her neck till it reached his knees, licked his hands with a tenderness that was pitiful to see.

"Don't, Hobert, don't take on about it," Jenny said, putting back the heart that was in her mouth; "we will have her back again, you know!"—and she gave Fleetfoot a little box on the ear that was half approval and half reproach, and so led Hobert back into the house.

And that day was the saddest they had yet seen. And that night, when the sick man was asleep, the two women talked together and cried together, and in the end got such comfort as women get out of great sacrifices and bitter tears.

They counted their little hoard. They had gathered three hundred dollars now, and there required to be yet as much more; and then they made plans as to what yet remained to be done. "We must mortgage the land," Jenny said, "that is all,—don't mind, mother. I don't mind anything, so that we only have Hobert well again." And then they talked of what they would do another year when they should be all together once more, and all well. "Think what Dr. Killmany has done for Mrs. Brown!" they said.

And now came busy days; and in the earnestness of the preparation the sorrow of the coming parting was in some sort dissipated. Hobert's wearing-apparel was all brought out, and turned and overturned, and the most and the best made of everything. The wedding coat and the wedding shirt were almost as good as ever, Jenny said; and when the one had been brushed and pressed, and the other done up, she held them up before them all, and commented upon them with pride and admiration. The fashions had changed a little, to be sure, but what of that? The new fashions were not so nice as the old ones, to her thinking. Hobert would look smart in the old garments, at any rate, and perhaps nobody would notice. She was only desirous that he should make a good impression on the Doctor. And all that could be done to that end was done, many friends contributing, by way of little presents, to the comfort and respectability of the invalid. "Here is a leather pouch," said one, "that I bought of a pedler the other day. I don't want it; but as you are going to travel, may be you can make use of it, Walker; take it, any how."

"I have got a new pair of saddle-bags," said the circuit-rider, "but I believe I like the old ones best. So, Brother Walker, you will oblige me by taking these off my hands. I find extra[Pg 181] things more trouble to take care of than they are worth."

It was not proposed that Hobert should travel with a trunk, so the saddle-bags were just what was required.

"Here is a pair of shoes," said another. "Try them on, Walker, and see if you can wear them: they are too small for my clumsy feet!" They had been made by the village shoemaker to Mr. Walker's measure. Of course they fitted him, and of course he had them.

"I'll bet you a new hat," said another, "that I come to see you ag'in, day after to-morrer, fur off as I live."

The day after the morrow he did not come: he was "onaccountably hendered," he said; but when he did come he brought the new hat. He thought he would be as good as his word in one thing if not in another, and redeem his bet at any rate.

"I'll bring my team: I want to go to town anyhow; and we'll all see you off together!" This was the offer of the farmer whose land adjoined Mr. Walker's; and the day of departure was fixed, and the morning of the day saw everything in readiness.

"Hobert looks a'most like a storekeeper or a schoolmaster, don't he, mother?" Jenny said, looking upon him proudly, when he was arrayed in the new hat and the wedding coat.

"Why, you are as spry as a boy!" exclaimed the farmer who was to drive them to town, seeing that Hobert managed to climb into the wagon without assistance. "I don't believe there is any need of Dr. Killmany, after all!" And the neighbors, as one after another they leaned over the sideboard of the wagon, and shook hands with Mr. Walker, made some cheerful and light-hearted remark, calculated to convey the impression that the leave-taking was a mere matter of form, and only for a day.

As Jenny looked back at the homestead, and thought of the possibilities, the tears would come; but the owner of the team, determined to carry it bravely through, immediately gathered up the slack reins, and, with a lively crack of his whip, started the horses upon a brisk trot.

"Don't spare the money," Jenny entreated, as she put the pocket-book in Hobert's hand; but she thought in her heart that Dr. Killmany would be touched when he saw her husband, and knew how far he had travelled to see him, and what sacrifices he had made to do so. "He must be good, if he is so great as they say," she argued; "and perhaps Hobert may even bring home enough to buy back Fleety." This was a wild dream. And the last parting words were said, the last promises exacted and given; the silent tears and the lingering looks all were past, and the farmer's wagon, with an empty chair by the side of Jenny's, rattled home again.

It was perhaps a month after this that a pale, sickly-looking man, with a pair of saddle-bags over his arm, went ashore from the steamboat Arrow of Light, just landed at New Orleans, and made his slow way along the wharf, crowded with barrels, boxes, and cotton-bales, and thence to the open streets. The sun was oppressively hot, and the new fur hat became almost intolerable, so that the sick man stopped more than once in the shade of some friendly tree, and, placing the saddle-bags on the ground, wiped the sweat from his forehead, and looked wistfully at the strange faces that passed him by.

"Can you tell me, my friend," he said at last, addressing a slave-woman who was passing by with a great bundle on her head,—"Can you tell me where to find Doctor Killmany, who lives somewhere here?"

The woman put her bundle on the ground, and, resting her hands on her hips, looked pitifully upon the stranger. "No, masser, cante say, not for sure," she answered. "I knows dar's sich a doctor somewhars 'bout, but just whars I cante say, an' he's a poor doctor fur the likes o' you,—don't have noffen to do with him, nohow."

"A poor doctor!" exclaimed the stranger. "Why, I understood he was the greatest doctor in the world; and[Pg 182] I've come all the way from the Wabash country to see him."

"Warbash! whar's dat? Norf, reckon; well you jes be gwine back Norf de fus boat, an dat's de bery bes' advice dis yere nigger can guv."

"But what do you know about Dr. Killmany."

"I knows dis yere, masser: he mos'ly sends dem ar' as ar' doctored by him to dar homes in a box!"

Mr. Walker shuddered. "I don't want your advice," he said directly; "I only want to know where Dr. Killmany lives."

"Cante say, masser, not percisely, as to dat ar'; kind o' seems to me he's done gone from hur, clar an' all; but jes over thar's a mighty good doctor; you can see his name afore the door if you'll step this yere way a bit. He doctors all de pour, an' dem dat ar' halt, and dem dat ar' struck with paralasy, jes for de love ob de ark and de covenant; an' he's jes de purtiest man to look at dat you ever sot eyes onto. Go in dar whar ye sees de white bline at de winder an' ax for Dr. Shepard, an' when you's once seen him, I reckon you won't want to find de udder man; but if you does, why he can pint de way. An' de Lord bless you and hab mercy on your soul."

The sick man felt a good deal discouraged by what the old slave had said, and her last words impressed him with feelings of especial discomfort. He knew not which way to turn; and, in fact, found himself growing dizzy and blind, and was only able, with great effort, to stand at all. He must ask his way somewhere, however, and it might as well be there as another place.

Dr. Shepard, who happened to be in his office, answered the inquiry promptly. Dr. Killmany was in quite another part of the city. "You don't look able to walk there, my good friend," he said; "but if you will sit here and wait for an hour, I shall be driving that way, and will take you with pleasure."

Mr. Walker gratefully accepted the proffered chair, as indeed he was almost obliged to do; for within a few minutes the partial blindness had become total darkness, and the whole world seemed, as it were, slipping away from him.

When he came to himself he was lying on a sofa in an inner room, and Dr. Shepard, who had just administered some cordial, was bending over him in the most kindly and sympathetic manner. It seemed not so much what he said, not so much what he did, but as though he carried about him an atmosphere of sweetness and healing that comforted and assured without words and without medicine. He made no pretence and no noise, but his smile was sunshine to the heart, and the touch of his hand imparted strength and courage to the despairing soul. It was as if good spirits went with him, and his very silence was pleasant company. Mr. Walker was in no haste to be gone. All his anxious cares seemed to fall away, and a peaceful sense of comfort and security came over him; his eyes followed Dr. Shepard as he moved about, and when a door interposed between them he felt lost and homesick. "If this were the man I had come to see, I should be happy." That was his thought all the while. Perhaps—who shall say not?—it was the blessings of the poor, to whom he most generously ministered, which gave to his manner that graciousness and charm which no words can convey, and to his touch that magnetism which is at once life-giving and love-inspiring.

How it was Mr. Walker could not tell, and indeed wiser men than he could not have told, but he presently found himself opening his heart to this new doctor, as he had never opened it to anybody in all his life,—how he had married Jenny, how they had gone to the new country, the birth of the boy and the girl, the slow coming on of disease, the selling of Fleety, and the mortgaging of the farm. Doctor Shepard knew it all, and, more than this, he knew how much money had been accumulated,[Pg 183] and how much of it was still left. He had examined the tumor in the breast, and knew that it could end in but one way. He had told Mr. Walker that he could be made more comfortable, and might live for years, perhaps, but that he must not hope to be cured, and that to get home to his family with all possible speed was the best advice he could give him. His words carried with them the weight of conviction, and the sick man was almost persuaded; but the thought of what would be said at home if he should come back without having seen the great Dr. Killmany urged him to try one last experiment.

"What do you suppose he will charge me to look at this?" he inquired of Dr. Shepard, laying his hand on his breast.

"Half you have, my friend."

"And if he cuts it out?"

"The other half."

"O, dear me!"—and the sick man fell back upon the sofa, and for a good while thought to himself. Then came one of those wild suggestions of a vain hope. "Perhaps this man is the impostor, and not the other!" it said. "And what do I owe you for all you have done for me to-day?" he inquired.

"Why, nothing, my good friend. I have done nothing for you; and my advice has certainly been disinterested. I don't want pay for that."

"And suppose you should operate?"

And then the doctor told him that he could not do that on any terms,—that no surgeon under the sun could perform a successful operation,—that all his hope was in quiet and care. "I will keep you here a few days," he said, "and build you up all I can, and when the Arrow of Light goes back again, I will see you aboard, and bespeak the kind attentions of the captain for you on the journey." That was not much like an impostor, and in his heart the sick man knew it was the right course to take,—the only course; and then he thought of Mrs. Brown and her wonderful cure, and of the great hopes they were entertaining at home, and he became silent, and again thought to himself.

Three days he remained with Dr. Shepard, undecided, and resting and improving a little all the while. On the morning of the fourth day he said, placing his hand on his breast, "If I were only rid of this, I believe I should get quite well again." He could not give up the great Dr. Killmany. "I do not intend to put myself in his hands,—indeed, I am almost resolved that I will not do so," he said to Dr. Shepard; "but I will just call at his office, so that I can tell my folks I have seen him."

"I must not say more to discourage you," replied Dr. Shepard; "perhaps I have already said too much,—certainly I have said much more than it is my habit to say, more than in any ordinary circumstances I would permit myself to say; but in your case I have felt constrained to acquit myself to my conscience";—and he turned away with a shadow of the tenderest and saddest gloom upon his face.

"Are you, sir, going to Dr. Killmany?" asked an old man, who had been sitting by, eying Mr. Walker with deep concern; and on receiving an affirmative nod, he went on with zeal, if not with discretion: "Then, sir, you might as well knock your own brains out! I regard him, sir, as worse than a highway robber,—a good deal worse! The robber will sometimes spare your life, if he can as well as not, but Dr. Killmany has no more regard for human life than you have for that of a fly. He has a skilful hand to be sure, but his heart is as hard as flint. In short, sir, he is utterly without conscience, without humanity, without principle. Gain is his first object, his last object, his sole object; and if he ever did any good, it was simply incidental. Don't put yourself in his hands, whatever you do,—certainly not without first making your will!" And the old man, with a flushed and angry countenance, went away.

Presently the sick man, relapsing[Pg 184] into silent thought, drowsed into sleep, and a strange dream came to him. He seemed at home, sitting under the tree with the mistletoe in its boughs; he was tired and hungry, and there came to him a raven with food in its mouth, and the shadow of its wings was pleasant. He thought, at first, the food was for him; but the bird, perching on his shoulder, devoured the food, and afterward pecked at his breast until it opened a way to his heart, and with that in its claws flew away; and when it was gone, he knew it was not a bird, but that it was Dr. Killmany who had thus taken out his heart. "I will go home," he thought, "and tell Jenny"; and when he arose and put his hand on the neck of Fleety, who had been standing in the furrow close by, she became a shadow, and instantly vanished out of sight. He then strove to walk, and, lo! the strength was gone out of his limbs, and, as he sank down, the roots of the mistletoe struck in his bosom, ran through and through him, and fastened themselves in the earth beneath, and he became as one dead, only with the consciousness of being dead.

When he awoke, he related the dream, having given it, as it appeared, a melancholy interpretation, for he expressed himself determined to return home immediately. "I will take passage on the Arrow," he said to Dr. Shepard; and then he counted up the number of days that must go by before he could have his own green fields beneath his eyes, and his little ones climbing about his knees.

"I wish I had never left my home," he said; "I wish I had never heard of Dr. Killmany!" and then he returned to his dream and repeated portions of it; and then he said, seeming to be thinking aloud, "My good old mother! my dear, poor Jenny!"

"The sick man's brain is liable to strange fancies," says Dr. Shepard; "you must not think too seriously of it, but your resolve is very wise." He then said he would see the captain of the Arrow, as he had promised, and went away with a smile on his face, and a great weight lifted off his heart.

A few minutes after this, Hobert Walker was again in the street, the heavy fur hat on his head, and the well-filled saddle-bags across his arm.

Perhaps sickness is in some sort insanity. At any rate, he no sooner found himself alone than the desire to see the great Dr. Killmany came upon him with all the force of insanity; his intention probably being to go and return within an hour, and keep his little secret to himself. Perhaps, too, he wished to have it to say at home that he had seen the great man for himself, and decided against him of his own knowledge.

Dr. Killmany was found without much difficulty; but his rooms were crowded with patients, and there was no possibility of access to him for hours.

"It cannot be that so many are deceived," thought Hobert. "I will wait with the rest." Then came the encouraging hope, "What if I should go home cured, after all!" He felt almost as if Dr. Shepard had defrauded him out of two or three days, and talked eagerly with one and another, as patient after patient came forth from consultation with Dr. Killmany, all aglow with hope and animation. It was near sunset when his turn came. He had waited five hours, but it was come at last; and with his heart in his mouth, and his knees shaking under him, he stood face to face with the arbitrator of his destiny. There was no smile on the face of the man, no sweetness in his voice as he said, looking at Hobert from under scowling brows, "What brings you, sir? Tell it, and be brief: time with me is money."

Then Hobert, catching at a chair to sustain himself, for he was not asked to sit, explained his condition as well as fright and awkwardness would permit him to do; going back to the commencement of his disease, and entering unnecessarily into many particulars, as well as making superfluous mention of wife and mother. "It isn't with your wife and mother that I have to deal," interposed Dr. Killmany;—"dear to[Pg 185] you, I dare say, but nothing to me, sir,—nothing at all. I have no time to devote to your relatives. Open your shirt, sir! there, that'll do! A mere trifle, sir, but it is well you have come in time."

"Do you mean to say you can cure me?" inquired Hobert, all his heart a-flutter with the excitement of hope.

"Exactly so. I can remove that difficulty of yours in five minutes, and have you on your feet again,—operation neglected, death certain within a year, perhaps sooner. Done with you sir. You now have your choice, make way!"

Hobert went staggering out of the room, feeling as if the raven of his dream already had its beak in his heart, when a pert official reached out his hand with the demand, "Consultation fee, if you please, sir."

"How much?" asked Hobert, leaning against the wall, and searching for his pocket-book.

"Fifty dollars, sir,"—and the official spoke as though that were a trifle scarcely worth mentioning. The hands of the sick man trembled, and his eyes grew blind as he sought to count up the sum; and as his entire treasure was formed out of the smallest notes, the process was a slow one, and before it was accomplished it seemed to him that not only Fleety was turning to a shadow, but the whole world as well.

Somehow, he hardly knew how, he found himself in the fresh air, and the official still at his elbow. "You are not going to leave us this way?" he said. "You will only have thrown your money away." And he pocketed the sum Hobert had just put in his hand.

"Better that than more," Hobert answered, and was turning sadly away.

"Allow me to detain you, sir, one moment, only just one moment!" And the official, or rather decoy, whispered in his ear tales of such wonderful cures as almost dissuaded him from his purpose.

"But I am resolved to go home on the Arrow," he said, making a last stand, "and I must have something to leave my poor Jenny."

And then the official told him that he could go home aboard the Arrow, if he chose, and go a well man, or the same as a well man; and what could he bring to his wife so acceptable as himself, safe and sound! And then he told other tales of sick men who had been carried to Dr. Killmany on their beds, and within a few hours walked away on their feet, blessing his name, and publishing his fame far and wide.

Hobert began to waver, nor is it strange; for what will not a man give for his life? The world had not loosened its hold upon him much as yet; the grass under his feet and the sunshine over his head were pleasant things to him, and his love for his good little wife was still invested with all the old romance; and to die and go he knew not where, there was a terror about that which his faith was not strong enough to dissipate. The decoy watched and waited. He contrasted the husband returning home with haggard cheek and listless step and the shadow of dark doom all about him, having a few hundred dollars in his pocket, with a husband empty-handed, but with bright cheeks, and cheerful spirits, and with strong legs under him! Then Hobert repeated the story he had told to Dr. Shepard,—all about the little treasure with which he had set out, how hardly it had been gathered together, what had been already fruitlessly expended, and just how much remained,—he told it all as he had told it in the first instance, but with what different effect!

Dr. Killmany never touched any case for a sum like that! Indeed, his services were in such requisition, it was almost impossible to obtain them on any terms; but he, the decoy, for reasons which he did not state, would exert to the utmost his own personal influence in Hobert's favor. "I cannot promise you a favorable answer," he said; "there is just a possibility, and that is all. A man like Dr. Killmany, sir, can't be haggling about dollars and cents!" And then he intimated that such things[Pg 186] might be well enough for Dr. Shepard and his sort of practice.

There was some further talk, and the time ran by, and it was night. Against his will almost, Hobert had been persuaded. He was to sleep in the Doctor's office that night, and his case was to be the first attended to in the morning. "You can rest very well on the floor, I suppose," the decoy had said, "taking your saddle-bags for a pillow. The whole thing will be over in half an hour, and I myself will see you aboard the Arrow before ten o'clock, and so you need take no more thought for yourself."

That night, when at last Hobert made a pillow of his saddle-bags and coiled himself together, he felt as if a circle of fire were narrowing around him, and yet utter inability to escape.

"You need take no more thought for yourself." These words kept ringing in his ears like a knell, and the mistletoe striking through his bosom, and the beak of the raven in his heart,—these were the sensations with which, long after midnight, he drowsed into sleep.

When he awoke, there was a rough hand on his shoulder and a harsh voice in his ear. The room was light with the light of morning, but dark with the shadow of coming doom. There came upon him a strange and great calmness when he found himself in the operating-room. There were all the frightful preparations,—the water, the sponges, the cloths and bandages, the Doctor with his case of instruments before him, and looking more like a murderer than a surgeon. Almost his heart misgave him as he looked around, and remembered Jenny and the little ones at home; but the carriage that was to take him aboard the Arrow already waited at the door, and the sight of it reassured him.

"You will hardly know where you are till you find yourself safe in your berth," said Dr. Killmany; "and to avoid any delay after the operation, from which you will necessarily be somewhat weak, you had perhaps better pay me now." And these were the most civil words he had yet spoken.

So Hobert paid into his hand the last dollar he had.

"Now, sir," he said; and Hobert laid himself down on the table. A minute, and of what befell him after that he was quite unconscious. It was as the doctor had told him; he knew not where he was until he found himself in his berth aboard the Arrow. "Where am I?" was his first inquiry, feeling a sense of strangeness,—feeling, indeed, as though he were a stranger to himself.

"You are going home, my poor friend,—going home a little sooner than you expected,—that is all."

Then the sick man opened his eyes; for he had recognized the tender voice, and saw Dr. Shepard bending over him, and he knew where he was, and what had happened; for he was shivering from head to foot. The sleeve of his right arm was red and wet, and there was a dull, slow aching in his bosom. "Ay, Doctor," he answered, pressing faintly the hand that held his, "I am going home,—home to a better country. 'T is all like a shadow about me now, and I am cold,—so cold!" He never came out of that chill, and these were the last words he ever spoke.

"That man has been just the same as murdered, I take it!" exclaimed the captain of the Arrow, meeting Dr. Shepard as he turned away from the bedside.

"I must not say that," replied the Doctor; "but if I had performed the operation, under the circumstances, I should think myself his murderer."

"And if you had taken his money, you would perhaps think yourself a thief, too! At any rate, I should think you one," was the answer of the captain. And he then related to Dr. Shepard how the man, in an almost dying condition, had been brought aboard the Arrow by one of Dr. Killmany's menials, hustled into bed, and so left to his fate; and he concluded by saying, "And what are we to do now, Doctor?"

What the Doctor's reply was need not[Pg 187] be reported at length. Suffice it to say, that the departure of the Arrow was deferred for an hour, and when she sailed the state-room in which Hobert had breathed his last was occupied by a lively little lady and two gayly-dressed children, and on the wall from which the fur hat and the saddle-bags had been removed fluttered a variety of rainbow-hued scarfs and ribbons, and in the window where the shadow had been a golden-winged bird was singing in the sunshine.

Some two or three weeks went by, and the farmer who had driven to town when Hobert was about to set out on his long journey, starting so smartly, and making so light of the farewells, drove thither again, and this time his wagon-bed was empty, except for the deep cushion of straw. He drove slowly and with downcast looks; and as he returned, a dozen men met him at the entrance of the village, and at sober pace followed to the meeting-house, the door of which stood wide.

A little low talk as they all gathered round, and then four of them lifted from the wagon the long box it contained, and bore it on their shoulders reverently and tenderly within the open gate, through the wide door, along the solemn aisle and close beneath the pulpit, where they placed it very softly, and then stood back with uncovered heads, while a troop of little girls, who waited, with aprons full of flowers, drew near and emptied them on the ground, so that nothing was to be seen but a great heap of flowers; and beneath them was the body of Hobert Walker.


Within a green and pleasant land
I own a favorite plantation,
Whose woods and meads, if rudely planned,
Are still, at least, my own creation.
Some genial sun or kindly shower
Has here and there wooed forth a flower,
And touched the fields with expectation.
I know what feeds the soil I till,
What harvest-growth it best produces.
My forests shape themselves at will,
My grapes mature their proper juices.
I know the brambles and the weeds,
But know the fruits and wholesome seeds,—
Of those the hurt, of these the uses.
And working early, working late,
Directing crude and random Nature,
'T is joy to see my small estate
Grow fairer in the slightest feature.
If but a single wild-rose blow,
Or fruit-tree bend with April snow,
That day am I the happiest creature![Pg 188]
But round the borders of the land
Dwell many neighbors, fond of roving;
With curious eye and prying hand
About my fields I see them moving.
Some tread my choicest herbage down,
And some of weeds would weave a crown,
And bid me wear it, unreproving.
"What trees!" says one; "whoever saw
A grove, like this, of my possessing?
This vale offends my upland's law;
This sheltered garden needs suppressing.
My rocks this grass would never yield,
And how absurd the level field!
What here will grow is past my guessing."
"Behold the slope!" another cries:
"No sign of bog or meadow near it!
A varied surface I despise:
There's not a stagnant pool to cheer it!"
"Why plough at all?" remarked a third,
"Heaven help the man!" a fourth I heard,—
"His farm's a jungle: let him clear it!"
No friendly counsel I disdain:
My fields are free to every comer;
Yet that, which one to praise is fain,
But makes another's visage glummer.
I bow them out, and welcome in,
But while I seek some truth to win
Goes by, unused, the golden summer!
Ah! vain the hope to find in each
The wisdom each denies the other;
These mazes of conflicting speech
All theories of culture smother.
I'll raise and reap, with honest hand,
The native harvest of my land;
Do thou the same, my wiser brother!

[Pg 189]



Concord, Saturday, August 13, 1842.—My life, at this time, is more like that of a boy, externally, than it has been since I was really a boy. It is usually supposed that the cares of life come with matrimony; but I seem to have cast off all care, and live on with as much easy trust in Providence as Adam could possibly have felt before he had learned that there was a world beyond Paradise. My chief anxiety consists in watching the prosperity of my vegetables, in observing how they are affected by the rain or sunshine, in lamenting the blight of one squash and rejoicing at the luxurious growth of another. It is as if the original relation between man and Nature were restored in my case, and that I were to look exclusively to her for the support of my Eve and myself,—to trust to her for food and clothing, and all things needful, with the full assurance that she would not fail me. The fight with the world,—the struggle of a man among men,—the agony of the universal effort to wrench the means of living from a host of greedy competitors,—all this seems like a dream to me. My business is merely to live and to enjoy; and whatever is essential to life and enjoyment will come as naturally as the dew from heaven. This is, practically at least, my faith. And so I awake in the morning with a boyish thoughtlessness as to how the outgoings of the day are to be provided for, and its incomings rendered certain. After breakfast, I go forth into my garden, and gather whatever the bountiful Mother has made fit for our present sustenance; and of late days she generally gives me two squashes and a cucumber, and promises me green corn and shell-beans very soon. Then I pass down through our orchard to the river-side, and ramble along its margin in search of flowers. Usually I discern a fragrant white lily, here and there along the shore, growing, with sweet prudishness, beyond the grasp of mortal arm. But it does not escape me so. I know what is its fitting destiny better than the silly flower knows for itself; so I wade in, heedless of wet trousers, and seize the shy lily by its slender stem. Thus I make prize of five or six, which are as many as usually blossom within my reach in a single morning;—some of them partially worm-eaten or blighted, like virgins with an eating sorrow at the heart; others as fair and perfect as Nature's own idea was, when she first imagined this lovely flower. A perfect pond-lily is the most satisfactory of flowers. Besides these, I gather whatever else of beautiful chances to be growing in the moist soil by the river-side,—an amphibious tribe, yet with more richness and grace than the wild-flowers of the deep and dry woodlands and hedge-rows,—sometimes the white arrow-head, always the blue spires and broad green leaves of the pickerel-flower, which contrast and harmonize so well with the white lilies. For the last two or three days, I have found scattered stalks of the cardinal-flower, the gorgeous scarlet of which it is a joy even to remember. The world is made brighter and sunnier by flowers of such a hue. Even perfume, which otherwise is the soul and spirit of a flower, may be spared when it arrays itself in this scarlet glory. It is a flower of thought and feeling, too; it seems to have its roots deep down in the hearts of those who gaze at it. Other bright flowers sometimes impress me as wanting sentiment; but it is not so with this.

Well, having made up my bunch of flowers, I return home with them.... Then I ascend to my study, and generally read, or perchance scribble[Pg 190] in this journal, and otherwise suffer Time to loiter onward at his own pleasure, till the dinner-hour. In pleasant days, the chief event of the afternoon, and the happiest one of the day, is our walk.... So comes the night; and I look back upon a day spent in what the world would call idleness, and for which I myself can suggest no more appropriate epithet, but which, nevertheless, I cannot feel to have been spent amiss. True, it might be a sin and shame, in such a world as ours, to spend a lifetime in this manner; but for a few summer weeks it is good to live as if this world were heaven. And so it is, and so it shall be, although, in a little while, a flitting shadow of earthly care and toil will mingle itself with our realities.

Monday, August 15th.—George Hillard and his wife arrived from Boston in the dusk of Saturday evening, to spend Sunday with us. It was a pleasant sensation, when the coach rumbled up our avenue, and wheeled round at the door; for I felt that I was regarded as a man with a household,—a man having a tangible existence and locality in the world,—when friends came to avail themselves of our hospitality. It was a sort of acknowledgment and reception of us into the corps of married people,—a sanction by no means essential to our peace and well-being, but yet agreeable enough to receive. So we welcomed them cordially at the door, and ushered them into our parlor, and soon into the supper-room.... The night flitted over us all, and passed away, and up rose a gray and sullen morning,... and we had a splendid breakfast of flapjacks, or slapjacks, and whortleberries, which I gathered on a neighboring hill, and perch, bream, and pout, which I hooked out of the river the evening before. About nine o'clock, Hillard and I set out for a walk to Walden Pond, calling by the way at Mr. Emerson's, to obtain his guidance or directions, and he accompanied us in his own illustrious person. We turned aside a little from our way, to visit Mr. ——, a yeoman, of whose homely and self-acquired wisdom Mr. Emerson has a very high opinion. We found him walking in his fields, a short and stalwart and sturdy personage of middle age, with a face of shrewd and kind expression, and manners of natural courtesy. He had a very free flow of talk, and not much diffidence about his own opinions; for, with a little induction from Mr. Emerson, he began to discourse about the state of the nation, agriculture, and business in general, uttering thoughts that had come to him at the plough, and which had a sort of flavor of the fresh earth about them. I was not impressed with any remarkable originality in his views; but they were sensible and characteristic, and had grown in the soil where we found them;... and he is certainly a man of intellectual and moral substance, a sturdy fact, a reality, something to be felt and touched, whose ideas seem to be dug out of his mind as he digs potatoes, beets, carrots, and turnips out of the ground.

After leaving Mr. ——, we proceeded through wood paths to Walden Pond, picking blackberries of enormous size along the way. The pond itself was beautiful and refreshing to my soul, after such long and exclusive familiarity with our tawny and sluggish river. It lies embosomed among wooded hills,—it is not very extensive, but large enough for waves to dance upon its surface, and to look like a piece of blue firmament, earth-encircled. The shore has a narrow, pebbly strand, which it was worth a day's journey to look at, for the sake of the contrast between it and the weedy, oozy margin of the river. Farther within its depths, you perceive a bottom of pure white sand, sparkling through the transparent water, which, methought, was the very purest liquid in the world. After Mr. Emerson left us, Hillard and I bathed in the pond, and it does really seem as if my spirit, as well as corporeal person, were refreshed by that bath. A good deal of mud and river slime had accumulated on my soul;[Pg 191] but these bright waters washed it all away.

We returned home in due season for dinner.... To my misfortune, however, a box of Mediterranean wine proved to have undergone the acetous fermentation; so that the splendor of the festival suffered some diminution. Nevertheless, we ate our dinner with a good appetite, and afterwards went universally to take our several siestas. Meantime there came a shower, which so besprinkled the grass and shrubbery as to make it rather wet for our after-tea ramble. The chief result of the walk was the bringing home of an immense burden of the trailing clematis-vine, now just in blossom, and with which all our flower-stands and vases are this morning decorated. On our return we found Mr. and Mrs. S——, and E. H——, who shortly took their leave, and we sat up late, telling ghost-stories. This morning, at seven, our friends left us. We were both pleased with the visit, and so I think were our guests.

Monday, August 22nd.—I took a walk through the woods yesterday afternoon, to Mr. Emerson's, with a book which Margaret Fuller had left, after a call on Saturday eve. I missed the nearest way, and wandered into a very secluded portion of the forest; for forest it might justly be called, so dense and sombre was the shade of oaks and pines. Once I wandered into a tract so overgrown with bushes and underbrush that I could scarcely force a passage through. Nothing is more annoying than a walk of this kind, where one is tormented by an innumerable host of petty impediments. It incenses and depresses me at the same time. Always when I flounder into the midst of bushes, which cross and intertwine themselves about my legs, and brush my face, and seize hold of my clothes, with their multitudinous grip,—always, in such a difficulty, I feel as if it were almost as well to lie down and die in rage and despair as to go one step farther. It is laughable, after I have got out of the moil, to think how miserably it affected me for the moment; but I had better learn patience betimes, for there are many such bushy tracts in this vicinity, on the margins of meadows, and my walks will often lead me into them. Escaping from the bushes, I soon came to an open space among the woods,—a very lovely spot, with the tall old trees standing around as quietly as if no one had intruded there throughout the whole summer. A company of crows were holding their Sabbath on their summits. Apparently they felt themselves injured or insulted by my presence; for, with one consent, they began to Caw! caw! caw! and, launching themselves sullenly on the air, took flight to some securer solitude. Mine, probably, was the first human shape that they had seen all day long,—at least, if they had been stationary in that spot; but perhaps they had winged their way over miles and miles of country, had breakfasted on the summit of Greylock, and dined at the base of Wachusett, and were merely come to sup and sleep among the quiet woods of Concord. But it was my impression at the time, that they had sat still and silent on the tops of the trees all through the Sabbath day, and I felt like one who should unawares disturb an assembly of worshippers. A crow, however, has no real pretensions to religion, in spite of his gravity of mien and black attire. Crows are certainly thieves, and probably infidels. Nevertheless, their voices yesterday were in admirable accordance with the influences of the quiet, sunny, warm, yet autumnal afternoon. They were so far above my head that their loud clamor added to the quiet of the scene, instead of disturbing it. There was no other sound, except the song of the cricket, which is but an audible stillness; for, though it be very loud and heard afar, yet the mind does not take note of it as a sound, so entirely does it mingle and lose its individuality among the other characteristics of coming autumn. Alas for the summer! The grass is still verdant on the hills and in the valleys;[Pg 192] the foliage of the trees is as dense as ever, and as green; the flowers are abundant along the margin of the river, and in the hedge-rows, and deep among the woods; the days, too, are as fervid as they were a month ago; and yet in every breath of wind and in every beam of sunshine there is an autumnal influence. I know not how to describe it. Methinks there is a sort of coolness amid all the heat, and a mildness in the brightest of the sunshine. A breeze cannot stir, without thrilling me with the breath of autumn, and I behold its pensive glory in the far, golden gleams among the long shadows of the trees. The flowers, even the brightest of them,—the golden-rod and the gorgeous cardinals,—the most glorious flowers of the year,—have this gentle sadness amid their pomp. Pensive autumn is expressed in the glow of every one of them. I have felt this influence earlier in some years than in others. Sometimes autumn may be perceived even in the early days of July. There is no other feeling like that caused by this faint, doubtful, yet real perception, or rather prophecy, of the year's decay, so deliciously sweet and sad at the same time.

After leaving the book at Mr. Emerson's I returned through the woods, and, entering Sleepy Hollow, I perceived a lady reclining near the path which bends along its verge. It was Margaret herself. She had been there the whole afternoon, meditating or reading; for she had a book in her hand, with some strange title, which I did not understand, and have forgotten. She said that nobody had broken her solitude, and was just giving utterance to a theory that no inhabitant of Concord ever visited Sleepy Hollow, when we saw a group of people entering the sacred precincts. Most of them followed a path which led them away from us; but an old man passed near us, and smiled to see Margaret reclining on the ground, and me sitting by her side. He made some remark about the beauty of the afternoon, and withdrew himself into the shadow of the wood. Then we talked about autumn, and about the pleasures of being lost in the woods, and about the crows, whose voices Margaret had heard; and about the experiences of early childhood, whose influence remains upon the character after the recollection of them has passed away; and about the sight of mountains from a distance, and the view from their summits; and about other matters of high and low philosophy. In the midst of our talk, we heard footsteps above us, on the high bank; and while the person was still hidden among the trees, he called to Margaret, of whom he had gotten a glimpse. Then he emerged from the green shade, and, behold! it was Mr. Emerson. He appeared to have had a pleasant time; for he said that there were Muses in the woods to-day, and whispers to be heard in the breezes. It being now nearly six o'clock, we separated,—Margaret and Mr. Emerson towards his home, and I towards mine....

Last evening there was the most beautiful moonlight that ever hallowed this earthly world; and when I went to bathe in the river, which was as calm as death, it seemed like plunging down into the sky. But I had rather be on earth than even in the seventh heaven, just now.

Wednesday, August 24th.—I left home at five o'clock this morning to catch some fish for breakfast. I shook our summer apple-tree, and ate the golden apple which fell from it. Methinks these early apples, which come as a golden promise before the treasures of autumnal fruit, are almost more delicious than anything that comes afterwards. We have but one such tree in our orchard; but it supplies us with a daily abundance, and probably will do so for at least a week to come. Meantime other trees begin to cast their ripening windfalls upon the grass; and when I taste them, and perceive their mellowed flavor and blackening seeds, I feel somewhat overwhelmed with the impending bounties of Providence.[Pg 193] I suppose Adam, in Paradise, did not like to see his fruits decaying on the ground, after he had watched them through the sunny days of the world's first summer. However, insects, at the worst, will hold a festival upon them, so that they will not be thrown away, in the great scheme of Nature. Moreover, I have one advantage over the primeval Adam, inasmuch as there is a chance of disposing of my superfluous fruits among people who inhabit no Paradise of their own.

Passing a little way down along the river-side, I threw in my line, and soon drew out one of the smallest possible of fishes. It seemed to be a pretty good morning for the angler,—an autumnal coolness in the air, a clear sky, but with a fog across the lowlands and on the surface of the river, which a gentle breeze sometimes condensed into wreaths. At first I could barely discern the opposite shore of the river; but, as the sun arose, the vapors gradually dispersed, till only a warm, smoky tint was left along the water's surface. The farm-houses across the river made their appearance out of the dusky cloud; the voices of boys were heard, shouting to the cattle as they drove them to the pastures; a man whetted his scythe, and set to work in a neighboring meadow. Meantime, I continued to stand on the oozy margin of the stream, beguiling the little fish; and though the scaly inhabitants of our river partake somewhat of the character of their native element, and are but sluggish biters, still I contrived to pull out not far from two dozen. They were all bream, a broad, flat, almost circular fish, shaped a good deal like a flounder, but swimming on their edges, instead of on their sides. As far as mere pleasure is concerned, it is hardly worth while to fish in our river, it is so much like angling in a mud-puddle; and one does not attach the idea of freshness and purity to the fishes, as we do to those which inhabit swift, transparent streams, or haunt the shores of the great briny deep. Standing on the weedy margin, and throwing the line over the elder-bushes that dip into the water, it seems as if we could catch nothing but frogs and mud-turtles, or reptiles akin to them. And even when a fish of reputable aspect is drawn out, one feels a shyness about touching him. As to our river, its character was admirably expressed last night by some one who said "it was too lazy to keep itself clean." I might write pages and pages, and only obscure the impression which this brief sentence conveys. Nevertheless, we made bold to eat some of my fish for breakfast, and found them very savory; and the rest shall meet with due entertainment at dinner, together with some shell-beans, green corn, and cucumbers from our garden; so this day's food comes directly and entirely from beneficent Nature, without the intervention of any third person between her and us.

Saturday, August 27th.—A peach-tree, which grows beside our house and brushes against the window, is so burdened with fruit that I have had to prop it up. I never saw more splendid peaches in appearance,—great, round, crimson-cheeked beauties, clustering all over the tree. A pear-tree, likewise, is maturing a generous burden of small, sweet fruit, which will require to be eaten at about the same time as the peaches. There is something pleasantly annoying in this superfluous abundance; it is like standing under a tree of ripe apples, and giving it a shake, with the intention of bringing down a single one, when, behold, a dozen come thumping about our ears. But the idea of the infinite generosity and exhaustless bounty of our Mother Nature is well worth attaining; and I never had it so vividly as now, when I find myself, with the few mouths which I am to feed, the sole inheritor of the old clergyman's wealth of fruits. His children, his friends in the village, and the clerical guests who came to preach in his pulpit, were all wont to eat and be filled from these trees. Now, all these hearty old people have passed away, and in their stead is a solitary pair, whose appetites[Pg 194] are more than satisfied with the windfalls which the trees throw down at their feet. Howbeit, we shall have now and then a guest to keep our peaches and pears from decaying.

G—— B——, my old fellow-laborer at the community at Brook Farm, called on me last evening, and dined here to-day. He has been cultivating vegetables at Plymouth this summer, and selling them in the market. What a singular mode of life for a man of education and refinement,—to spend his days in hard and earnest bodily toil, and then to convey the products of his labor, in a wheelbarrow, to the public market, and there retail them out,—a peck of peas or beans, a bunch of turnips, a squash, a dozen ears of green corn! Few men, without some eccentricity of character, would have the moral strength to do this; and it is very striking to find such strength combined with the utmost gentleness, and an uncommon regularity of nature. Occasionally he returns for a day or two to resume his place among scholars and idle people, as, for instance, the present week, when he has thrown aside his spade and hoe to attend the Commencement at Cambridge. He is a rare man,—a perfect original, yet without any one salient point; a character to be felt and understood, but almost impossible to describe: for, should you seize upon any characteristic, it would inevitably be altered and distorted in the process of writing it down.

Our few remaining days of summer have been latterly grievously darkened with clouds. To-day there has been an hour or two of hot sunshine; but the sun rose amid cloud and mist, and before he could dry up the moisture of last night's shower upon the trees and grass, the clouds have gathered between him and us again. This afternoon the thunder rumbles in the distance, and I believe a few drops of rain have fallen; but the weight of the shower has burst elsewhere, leaving us nothing but its sullen gloom. There is a muggy warmth in the atmosphere, which takes all the spring and vivacity out of the mind and body.

Sunday, August 28th.—Still another rainy day,—the heaviest rain, I believe, that has fallen since we came to Concord (not two months ago). There never was a more sombre aspect of all external nature. I gaze from the open window of my study, somewhat disconsolately, and observe the great willow-tree which shades the house, and which has caught and retained a whole cataract of rain among its leaves and boughs; and all the fruit-trees, too, are dripping continually, even in the brief intervals when the clouds give us a respite. If shaken to bring down the fruit, they will discharge a shower upon the head of him who stands beneath. The rain is warm, coming from some southern region; but the willow attests that it is an autumnal spell of weather, by scattering down no infrequent multitude of yellow leaves, which rest upon the sloping roof of the house, and strew the gravel-path and the grass. The other trees do not yet shed their leaves, though in some of them a lighter tint of verdure, tending towards yellow, is perceptible. All day long we hear the water drip, drip, dripping, splash, splash, splashing, from the eaves, and babbling and foaming into the tubs which have been set out to receive it. The old unpainted shingles and boards of the mansion and out-houses are black with the moisture which they have imbibed. Looking at the river, we perceive that its usually smooth and mirrored surface is blurred by the infinity of rain-drops; the whole landscape—grass, trees, and houses—has a completely water-soaked aspect, as if the earth were wet through. The wooded hill, about a mile distant, whither we went to gather whortleberries, has a mist upon its summit, as if the demon of the rain were enthroned there; and if we look to the sky, it seems as if all the water that had been poured down upon us were as nothing to what is to come. Once in a while, indeed, there is a gleam of sky along the horizon, or a half-cheerful, half-sullen lighting up of the atmosphere; the rain-drops cease to patter down, except when the trees shake off a gentle shower;[Pg 195] but soon we hear the broad, quiet, slow, and sure recommencement of the rain. The river, if I mistake not, has risen considerably during the day, and its current will acquire some degree of energy.

In this sombre weather, when some mortals almost forget that there ever was any golden sunshine, or ever will be any hereafter, others seem absolutely to radiate it from their own hearts and minds. The gloom cannot pervade them; they conquer it, and drive it quite out of their sphere, and create a moral rainbow of hope upon the blackest cloud. As for myself, I am little other than a cloud at such seasons, but such persons contrive to make me a sunny one, shining all through me. And thus, even without the support of a stated occupation, I survive these sullen days and am happy.

This morning we read the Sermon on the Mount. In the course of the forenoon, the rain abated for a season, and I went out and gathered some corn and summer-squashes, and picked up the windfalls of apples and pears and peaches. Wet, wet, wet,—everything was wet; the blades of the corn-stalks moistened me; the wet grass soaked my boots quite through; the trees threw their reserved showers upon my head; and soon the remorseless rain began anew, and drove me into the house. When shall we be able to walk again to the far hills, and plunge into the deep woods, and gather more cardinals along the river's margin? The track along which we trod is probably under water now. How inhospitable Nature is during a rain! In the fervid heat of sunny days, she still retains some degree of mercy for us; she has shady spots, whither the sun cannot come; but she provides no shelter against her storms. It makes one shiver to think how dripping with wet are those deep, umbrageous nooks, those overshadowed banks, where we find such enjoyment during sultry afternoons. And what becomes of the birds in such a soaking rain as this? Is hope and an instinctive faith so mixed up with their nature, that they can be cheered by the thought that the sunshine will return? or do they think, as I almost do, that there is to be no sunshine any more? Very disconsolate must they be among the dripping leaves; and when a single summer makes so important a portion of their lives, it seems hard that so much of it should be dissolved in rain. I, likewise, am greedy of the summer-days for my own sake: the life of man does not contain so many of them that one can be spared without regret.

Tuesday, August 30th.—I was promised, in the midst of Sunday's rain, that Monday should be fair, and, behold! the sun came back to us, and brought one of the most perfect days ever made since Adam was driven out of Paradise. By the by, was there ever any rain in Paradise? If so, how comfortless must Eve's bower have been! It makes me shiver to think of it. Well, it seemed as if the world was newly created yesterday morning, and I beheld its birth; for I had risen before the sun was over the hill, and had gone forth to fish. How instantaneously did all dreariness and heaviness of the earth's spirit flit away before one smile of the beneficent sun! This proves that all gloom is but a dream and a shadow, and that cheerfulness is the real truth. It requires many clouds, long brooding over us, to make us sad, but one gleam of sunshine always suffices to cheer up the landscape. The banks of the river actually laughed when the sunshine fell upon them; and the river itself was alive and cheerful, and, by way of fun and amusement, it had swept away many wreaths of meadow-hay, and old, rotten branches of trees, and all such trumpery. These matters came floating downwards, whirling round and round in the eddies, or hastening onward in the main current; and many of them, before this time, have probably been carried into the Merrimack, and will be borne onward to the sea. The spots where I stood to fish, on my[Pg 196] preceding excursion, were now under water; and the tops of many of the bushes, along the river's margin, barely emerged from the stream. Large spaces of meadow are overflowed.

There was a northwest wind throughout the day; and as many clouds, the remnants of departed gloom, were scattered about the sky, the breeze was continually blowing them across the sun. For the most part, they were gone again in a moment; but sometimes the shadow remained long enough to make me dread a return of sulky weather. Then would come the burst of sunshine, making me feel as if a rainy day were henceforth an impossibility....

In the afternoon Mr. Emerson called, bringing Mr. ——. He is a good sort of humdrum parson enough, and well fitted to increase the stock of manuscript sermons, of which there must be a fearful quantity already in the world. Mr. ——, however, is probably one of the best and most useful of his class, because no suspicion of the necessity of his profession, constituted as it now is, to mankind, and of his own usefulness and success in it, has hitherto disturbed him; and therefore he labors with faith and confidence, as ministers did a hundred years ago.

After the visitors were gone, I sat at the gallery window, looking down the avenue, and soon there appeared an elderly woman,—a homely, decent old matron, dressed in a dark gown, and with what seemed a manuscript book under her arm. The wind sported with her gown, and blew her veil across her face, and seemed to make game of her, though on a nearer view she looked like a sad old creature, with a pale, thin countenance, and somewhat of a wild and wandering expression. She had a singular gait, reeling, as it were, and yet not quite reeling, from one side of the path to the other; going onward as if it were not much matter whether she went straight or crooked. Such were my observations as she approached through the scattered sunshine and shade of our long avenue, until, reaching the door, she gave a knock, and inquired for the lady of the house. Her manuscript contained a certificate, stating that the old woman was a widow from a foreign land, who had recently lost her son, and was now utterly destitute of friends and kindred, and without means of support. Appended to the certificate there was a list of names of people who had bestowed charity on her, with the amounts of their several donations,—none, as I recollect, higher than twenty-five cents. Here is a strange life, and a character fit for romance and poetry. All the early part of her life, I suppose, and much of her widowhood were spent in the quiet of a home, with kinsfolk around her, and children, and the life-long gossiping acquaintances that some women always create about them. But in her decline she has wandered away from all these, and from her native country itself, and is a vagrant, yet with something of the homeliness and decency of aspect belonging to one who has been a wife and mother, and has had a roof of her own above her head,—and, with all this, a wildness proper to her present life. I have a liking for vagrants of all sorts, and never, that I know of, refused my mite to a wandering beggar, when I had anything in my own pocket. There is so much wretchedness in the world, that we may safely take the word of any mortal professing to need our assistance; and even should we be deceived, still the good to ourselves resulting from a kind act is worth more than the trifle by which we purchase it. It is desirable, I think, that such persons should be permitted to roam through our land of plenty, scattering the seeds of tenderness and charity, as birds of passage bear the seeds of precious plants from land to land, without even dreaming of the office which they perform.

[Pg 197]




"The fact is," said Marianne, "we must have a party. Bob don't like to hear of it, but it must come. We are in debt to everybody: we have been invited everywhere, and never had anything like a party since we were married, and it won't do."

"For my part, I hate parties," said Bob. "They put your house all out of order, give all the women a sick-headache, and all the men an indigestion; you never see anybody to any purpose; the girls look bewitched, and the women answer you at cross-purposes, and call you by the name of your next-door neighbor, in their agitation of mind. We stay out beyond our usual bedtime, come home and find some baby crying, or child who has been sitting up till nobody knows when; and the next morning, when I must be at my office by eight, and wife must attend to her children, we are sleepy and headachy. I protest against making overtures to entrap some hundred of my respectable married friends into this snare which has so often entangled me. If I had my way, I would never go to another party; and as to giving one—I suppose, since my empress has declared her intentions, that I shall be brought into doing it; but it shall be under protest."

"But, you see, we must keep up society," said Marianne.

"But I insist on it," said Bob, "it isn't keeping up society. What earthly thing do you learn about people by meeting them in a general crush, where all are coming, going, laughing, talking, and looking at each other? No person of common sense ever puts forth any idea he cares twopence about, under such circumstances; all that is exchanged is a certain set of common-places and platitudes which people keep for parties, just as they do their kid gloves and finery. Now there are our neighbors, the Browns. When they drop in of an evening, she knitting, and he with the last article in the paper, she really comes out with a great deal of fresh, lively, earnest, original talk. We have a good time, and I like her so much that it quite verges on loving; but see her in a party, when she manifests herself over five or six flounces of pink silk and a perfect egg-froth of tulle, her head adorned with a thicket of craped hair and roses, and it is plain at first view that talking with her is quite out of the question. What has been done to her head on the outside has evidently had some effect within, for she is no longer the Mrs. Brown you knew in her every-day dress, but Mrs. Brown in a party state of mind, and too distracted to think of anything in particular. She has a few words that she answers to everything you say, as, for example, 'O, very!' 'Certainly!' 'How extraordinary!' 'So happy to,' &c. The fact is, that she has come into a state in which any real communication with her mind and character must be suspended till the party is over and she is rested. Now I like society, which is the reason why I hate parties."

"But you see," said Marianne, "what are we to do? Everybody can't drop in to spend an evening with you. If it were not for these parties, there are quantities of your acquaintances whom you would never meet."

"And of what use is it to meet them? Do you really know them any better for meeting them, got up in unusual dresses, and sitting down together when the only thing exchanged is the remark that it is hot or cold, or it rains, or it is dry, or any other patent surface-fact that answers the purpose of making believe you are talking when neither of you is saying a word?"[Pg 198]

"Well, now, for my part," said Marianne, "I confess I like parties: they amuse me. I come home feeling kinder and better to people, just for the little I see of them when they are all dressed up and in good humor with themselves. To be sure we don't say anything very profound,—I don't think the most of us have anything very profound to say; but I ask Mrs. Brown where she buys her lace, and she tells me how she washes it, and somebody else tells me about her baby, and promises me a new sack-pattern. Then I like to see the pretty, nice young girls flirting with the nice young men; and I like to be dressed up a little myself, even if my finery is all old and many times made over. It does me good to be rubbed up and brightened."

"Like old silver," said Bob.

"Yes, like old silver, precisely; and even if I do come home tired, it does my mind good to have that change of scene and faces. You men do not know what it is to be tied to house and nursery all day, and what a perfect weariness and lassitude it often brings on us women. For my part, I think parties are a beneficial institution of society, and that it is worth a good deal of fatigue and trouble to get one up."

"Then there's the expense," said Bob. "What earthly need is there of a grand regale of oysters, chicken-salad, ice-creams, coffee, and champagne, between eleven and twelve o'clock at night, when no one of us would ever think of wanting or taking any such articles upon our stomachs in our own homes? If we were all of us in the habit of having a regular repast at that hour, it might be well enough to enjoy one with our neighbor; but the party fare is generally just so much in addition to the honest three meals which we have eaten during the day. Now, to spend from fifty to one, two, or three hundred dollars in giving all our friends an indigestion from a midnight meal, seems to me a very poor investment. Yet if we once begin to give the party, we must have everything that is given at the other parties, or wherefore do we live? And caterers and waiters rack their brains to devise new forms of expense and extravagance; and when the bill comes in, one is sure to feel that one is paying a great deal of money for a great deal of nonsense. It is, in fact, worse than nonsense, because our dear friends are in half the cases, not only no better, but a great deal worse, for what they have eaten."

"But there is this advantage to society," said Rudolph,—"it helps us young physicians. What would the physicians do if parties were abolished? Take all the colds that are caught by our fair friends with low necks and short sleeves, all the troubles from dancing in tight dresses and inhaling bad air, and all the headaches and indigestions from the mélange of lobster-salad, two or three kinds of ice-cream, cake, and coffee on delicate stomachs, and our profession gets a degree of encouragement that is worthy to be thought of."

"But the question arises," said my wife, "whether there are not ways of promoting social feeling less expensive, more simple and natural and rational. I am inclined to think that there are."

"Yes," said Theophilus Thoro; "for large parties are not, as a general thing, given with any wish or intention of really improving our acquaintance with our neighbors. In many cases they are openly and avowedly a general tribute paid at intervals to society, for and in consideration of which you are to sit with closed blinds and doors and be let alone for the rest of the year. Mrs. Bogus, for instance, lives to keep her house in order, her closets locked, her silver counted and in the safe, and her china-closet in undisturbed order. Her 'best things' are put away with such admirable precision, in so many wrappings and foldings, and secured with so many a twist and twine, that to get them out is one of the seven labors of Hercules, not to be lightly or unadvisedly taken in hand, but reverently, discreetly, and once for[Pg 199] all, in an annual or biennial party. Then says Mrs. Bogus, 'For Heaven's sake, let's have every creature we can think of, and have 'em all over with at once. For pity's sake, let's have no driblets left that we shall have to be inviting to dinner or to tea. No matter whether they can come or not,—only send them the invitation, and our part is done; and, thank Heaven! we shall be free for a year.'"

"Yes," said my wife; "a great stand-up party bears just the same relation towards the offer of real hospitality and good-will as Miss Sally Brass's offer of meat to the little hungry Marchioness, when, with a bit uplifted on the end of a fork, she addressed her, 'Will you have this piece of meat? No? Well, then, remember and don't say you haven't had meat offered to you!' You are invited to a general jam, at the risk of your life and health; and if you refuse, don't say you haven't had hospitality offered to you. All our debts are wiped out and our slate clean; now we will have our own closed doors, no company and no trouble, and our best china shall repose undisturbed on its shelves. Mrs. Bogus says she never could exist in the way that Mrs. Easygo does, with a constant drip of company,—two or three to breakfast one day, half a dozen to dinner the next, and little evening gatherings once or twice a week. It must keep her house in confusion all the time; yet, for real social feeling, real exchange of thought and opinion, there is more of it in one half-hour at Mrs. Easygo's than in a dozen of Mrs. Bogus's great parties.

"The fact is, that Mrs. Easygo really does like the society of human beings. She is genuinely and heartily social; and, in consequence, though she has very limited means, and no money to spend in giving great entertainments, her domestic establishment is a sort of social exchange, where more friendships are formed, more real acquaintance made, and more agreeable hours spent, than in any other place that can be named. She never has large parties,—great general pay-days of social debts,—but small, well-chosen circles of people, selected so thoughtfully, with a view to the pleasure which congenial persons give each other, as to make the invitation an act of real personal kindness. She always manages to have something for the entertainment of her friends, so that they are not reduced to the simple alternatives of gaping at each other's dresses and eating lobster-salad and ice-cream. There is either some choice music, or a reading of fine poetry, or a well-acted charade, or a portfolio of photographs and pictures, to enliven the hour and start conversation; and as the people are skilfully chosen with reference to each other, as there is no hurry or heat or confusion, conversation, in its best sense, can bubble up, fresh, genuine, clear, and sparkling as a woodland spring, and one goes away really rested and refreshed. The slight entertainment provided is just enough to enable you to eat salt together in Arab fashion,—not enough to form the leading feature of the evening. A cup of tea and a basket of cake, or a salver of ices, silently passed at quiet intervals, do not interrupt conversation or overload the stomach."

"The fact is," said I, "that the art of society among us Anglo-Saxons is yet in its ruder stages. We are not, as a race, social and confiding, like the French and Italians and Germans. We have a word for home, and our home is often a moated grange, an island, a castle with its drawbridge up, cutting us off from all but our own home-circle. In France and Germany and Italy there are the boulevards and public gardens, where people do their family living in common. Mr. A is breakfasting under one tree, with wife and children around, and Mr. B is breakfasting under another tree, hard by; and messages, nods, and smiles pass backward and forward. Families see each other daily in these public resorts, and exchange mutual offices of good-will. Perhaps from these customs of society come that naïve simplicity and abandon which one remarks[Pg 200] in the Continental, in opposition to the Anglo-Saxon, habits of conversation. A Frenchman or an Italian will talk to you of his feelings and plans and prospects with an unreserve that is perfectly unaccountable to you, who have always felt that such things must be kept for the very innermost circle of home privacy. But the Frenchman or Italian has from a child been brought up to pass his family life in places of public resort, in constant contact and intercommunion with other families; and the social and conversational instinct has thus been daily strengthened. Hence the reunions of these people have been characterized by a sprightliness and vigor and spirit that the Anglo-Saxon has in vain attempted to seize and reproduce. English and American conversazioni have very generally proved a failure, from the rooted, frozen habit of reticence and reserve which grows with our growth and strengthens with our strength. The fact is, that the Anglo-Saxon race as a race does not enjoy talking, and, except in rare instances, does not talk well. A daily convocation of people, without refreshments or any extraneous object but the simple pleasure of seeing and talking with each other, is a thing that can scarcely be understood in English or American society. Social entertainment presupposes in the Anglo-Saxon mind something to eat, and not only something, but a great deal. Enormous dinners or great suppers constitute the entertainment. Nobody seems to have formed the idea that the talking—the simple exchange of the social feelings—is, of itself, the entertainment, and that being together is the pleasure.

"Madame Recamier for years had a circle of friends who met every afternoon in her salon, from four to six o'clock, for the simple and sole pleasure of talking with each other. The very first wits and men of letters and statesmen and savans were enrolled in it, and each brought to the entertainment some choice morceau which he had laid aside from his own particular field to add to the feast. The daily intimacy gave each one such perfect insight into all the others' habits of thought, tastes, and preferences, that the conversation was like the celebrated music of the Conservatoire in Paris, a concert of perfectly chorded instruments taught by long habit of harmonious intercourse to keep exact time and tune together.

"Real conversation presupposes intimate acquaintance. People must see each other often enough to wear off the rough bark and outside rind of common-places and conventionalities in which their real ideas are enwrapped, and give forth without reserve their innermost and best feelings. Now what is called a large party is the first and rudest form of social intercourse. The most we can say of it is, that it is better than nothing. Men and women are crowded together like cattle in a pen. They look at each other, they jostle each other, exchange a few common bleatings, and eat together; and so the performance terminates. One may be crushed evening after evening against men or women, and learn very little about them. You may decide that a lady is good-tempered, when any amount of trampling on the skirt of her new silk dress brings no cloud to her brow. But is it good temper, or only wanton carelessness, which cares nothing for waste? You can see that a man is not a gentleman who squares his back to ladies at the supper-table, and devours boned turkey and paté de fois gras, while they vainly reach over and around him for something, and that another is a gentleman so far as to prefer the care of his weaker neighbors to the immediate indulgence of his own appetites; but further than this you learn little. Sometimes, it is true, in some secluded corner, two people of fine nervous system, undisturbed by the general confusion, may have a sociable half-hour, and really part feeling that they like each other better, and know more of each other than before. Yet these general gatherings have, after all, their value. They are not so good as something better would be,[Pg 201] but they cannot be wholly dispensed with. It is far better that Mrs. Bogus should give an annual party, when she takes down all her bedsteads and throws open her whole house, than that she should never see her friends and neighbors inside her doors at all. She may feel that she has neither the taste nor the talent for constant small reunions. Such things, she may feel, require a social tact which she has not. She would be utterly at a loss how to conduct them. Each one would cost her as much anxiety and thought as her annual gathering, and prove a failure after all; whereas the annual demonstration can be put wholly into the hands of the caterer, who comes in force, with flowers, silver, china, servants, and, taking the house into his own hands, gives her entertainment for her, leaving to her no responsibility but the payment of the bills; and if Mr. Bogus does not quarrel with them, we know no reason why any one else should; and I think Mrs. Bogus merits well of the republic, for doing what she can do towards the hospitalities of the season. I'm sure I never cursed her in my heart, even when her strong coffee has held mine eyes open till morning, and her superlative lobster-salads have given me the very darkest views of human life that ever dyspepsia and east wind could engender. Mrs. Bogus is the Eve who offers the apple; but, after all, I am the foolish Adam who take and eat what I know is going to hurt me, and I am too gallant to visit my sins on the head of my too obliging tempter. In country places in particular, where little is going on and life is apt to stagnate, a good, large, generous party, which brings the whole neighborhood into one house to have a jolly time, to eat, drink, and be merry, is really quite a work of love and mercy. People see one another in their best clothes, and that is something; the elders exchange all manner of simple pleasantries and civilities, and talk over their domestic affairs, while the young people flirt, in that wholesome manner which is one of the safest of youthful follies. A country party, in fact, may be set down as a work of benevolence, and the money expended thereon fairly charged to the account of the great cause of peace and good-will on earth."

"But don't you think," said my wife, "that, if the charge of providing the entertainment were less laborious, these gatherings could be more frequent? You see, if a woman feels that she must have five kinds of cake, and six kinds of preserves, and even ice-cream and jellies in a region where no confectioner comes in to abbreviate her labors, she will sit with closed doors, and do nothing towards the general exchange of life, because she cannot do as much as Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Parsons. If the idea of meeting together had some other focal point than eating, I think there would be more social feeling. It might be a musical reunion, where the various young people of a circle agreed to furnish each a song or an instrumental performance. It might be an impromptu charade party, bringing out something of that taste in arrangement of costume, and capacity for dramatic effect, of which there is more latent in society than we think. It might be the reading of articles in prose and poetry furnished to a common paper or portfolio, which would awaken an abundance of interest and speculation on the authorship, or it might be dramatic readings and recitations. Any or all of these pastimes might make an evening so entertaining that a simple cup of tea and a plate of cake or biscuit would be all the refreshment needed."

"We may with advantage steal a leaf now and then from some foreign book," said I. "In France and Italy, families have their peculiar days set apart for the reception of friends at their own houses. The whole house is put upon a footing of hospitality and invitation, and the whole mind is given to receiving the various friends. In the evening the salon is filled. The guests, coming from week to week, for years, become in time friends; the resort has the charm of a home circle; there are certain faces that you are always sure[Pg 202] to meet there. A lady once said to me of a certain gentleman and lady whom she missed from her circle, 'They have been at our house every Wednesday evening for twenty years.' It seems to me that this frequency of meeting is the great secret of agreeable society. One sees, in our American life, abundance of people who are everything that is charming and cultivated, but one never sees enough of them. One meets them at some quiet reunion, passes a delightful hour, thinks how charming they are, and wishes one could see more of them. But the pleasant meeting is like the encounter of two ships in mid-ocean: away we sail, each on his respective course, to see each other no more till the pleasant remembrance has died away. Yet were there some quiet, home-like resort where we might turn in to renew from time to time the pleasant intercourse, to continue the last conversation, and to compare anew our readings and our experiences, the pleasant hour of liking would ripen into a warm friendship.

"But in order that this may be made possible and practicable, the utmost simplicity of entertainment must prevail. In a French salon, all is, to the last degree, informal. The bouilloire, the French teakettle, is often tended by one of the gentlemen, who aids his fair neighbors in the mysteries of tea-making. One nymph is always to be found at the table dispensing tea and talk; and a basket of simple biscuit and cakes, offered by another, is all the further repast. The teacups and cake-basket are a real addition to the scene, because they cause a little lively social bustle, a little chatter and motion,—always of advantage in breaking up stiffness, and giving occasion for those graceful, airy nothings that answer so good a purpose in facilitating acquaintance.

"Nothing can be more charming than the description which Edmond About gives, in his novel of 'Tolla,' of the reception evenings of an old noble Roman family,—the spirit of repose and quietude through all the apartments,—the ease of coming and going,—the perfect homelike spirit in which the guests settle themselves to any employment of the hour that best suits them,—some to lively chat, some to dreamy, silent lounging, some to a game, others, in a distant apartment, to music, and others still to a promenade along the terraces.

"One is often in a state of mind and nerves which indisposes for the effort of active conversation; one wishes to rest, to observe, to be amused without an effort; and a mansion which opens wide its hospitable arms, and offers itself to you as a sort of home, where you may rest, and do just as the humor suits you, is a perfect godsend at such times. You are at home there, your ways are understood, you can do as you please,—come early or late, be brilliant or dull,—you are always welcome. If you can do nothing for the social whole to-night, it matters not. There are many more nights to come in the future, and you are entertained on trust, without a challenge.

"I have one friend,—a man of genius, subject to the ebbs and flows of animal spirits which attend that organization. Of general society he has a nervous horror. A regular dinner or evening party is to him a terror, an impossibility; but there is a quiet parlor where stands a much-worn old sofa, and it is his delight to enter without knocking, and be found lying with half-shut eyes on this friendly couch, while the family life goes on around him without a question. Nobody is to mind him, to tease him with inquiries or salutations. If he will, he breaks into the stream of conversation, and sometimes, rousing up from one of these dreamy trances, finds himself, ere he or they know how, in the mood for free and friendly talk. People often wonder, 'How do you catch So-and-so? He is so shy! I have invited and invited, and he never comes.' We never invite, and he comes. We take no note of his coming or his going; we do not startle his entrance with acclamation, nor clog his departure with expostulation; it is fully understood that with us he shall[Pg 203] do just as he chooses; and so he chooses to do much that we like.

"The sum of this whole doctrine of society is, that we are to try the value of all modes and forms of social entertainment by their effect in producing real acquaintance and real friendship and good-will. The first and rudest form of seeking this is by a great promiscuous party, which simply effects this,—that people at least see each other on the outside, and eat together. Next come all those various forms of reunion in which the entertainment consists of something higher than staring and eating,—some exercise of the faculties of the guests in music, acting, recitation, reading, etc.; and these are a great advance, because they show people what is in them, and thus lay a foundation for a more intelligent appreciation and acquaintance. These are the best substitute for the expense, show, and trouble of large parties. They are in their nature more refining and intellectual. It is astonishing, when people really put together, in some one club or association, all the different talents for pleasing possessed by different persons, how clever a circle may be gathered—in the least promising neighborhood. A club of ladies in one of our cities has had quite a brilliant success. It is held every fortnight at the house of the members, according to alphabetical sequence. The lady who receives has charge of arranging what the entertainment shall be,—whether charade, tableau, reading, recitation, or music; and the interest is much increased by the individual taste shown in the choice of the diversion and the variety which thence follows.

"In the summer time, in the country, open-air reunions are charming forms of social entertainment. Croquet parties, which bring young people together by daylight for a healthy exercise, and end with a moderate share of the evening, are a very desirable amusement. What are called 'lawn teas' are finding great favor in England and some parts of our country. They are simply an early tea enjoyed in a sort of picnic style in the grounds about the house. Such an entertainment enables one to receive a great many at a time, without crowding, and, being in its very idea rustic and informal, can be arranged with very little expense or trouble. With the addition of lanterns in the trees and a little music, this entertainment may be carried on far into the evening with a very pretty effect.

"As to dancing, I have this much to say of it. Either our houses must be all built over and made larger, or female crinolines must be made smaller, or dancing must continue as it now is, the most absurd and ungraceful of all attempts at amusement. The effort to execute round dances in the limits of modern houses, in the prevailing style of dress, can only lead to developments more startling than agreeable. Dancing in the open air, on the shaven green of lawns, is a pretty and graceful exercise, and there only can full sweep be allowed for the present feminine toilet.

"The English breakfast is an institution growing in favor here, and rightfully, too; for a party of fresh, good-natured, well-dressed people, assembled at breakfast on a summer morning, is as nearly perfect a form of reunion as can be devised. All are in full strength from their night's rest; the hour is fresh and lovely, and they are in condition to give each other the very cream of their thoughts, the first keen sparkle of the uncorked nervous system. The only drawback is, that, in our busy American life, the most desirable gentlemen often cannot spare their morning hours. Breakfast parties presuppose a condition of leisure; but when they can be compassed, they are perhaps the most perfectly enjoyable of entertainments."

"Well," said Marianne, "I begin to waver about my party. I don't know, after all, but the desire of paying off social debts prompted the idea; perhaps we might try some of the agreeable things suggested. But, dear me! there's the baby. We'll finish the talk some other time."

[Pg 204]



He went straight to the stable, and saddled Black Dick.

But, in the very act, his nature revolted. What, turn his back on her the moment he had got hold of her money, to take to the other. He could not do it.

He went back to her room, and came so suddenly that he caught her crying. He asked her what was the matter.

"Nothing," said she, with a sigh: "only a woman's foolish misgivings. I was afraid perhaps you would not come back. Forgive me."

"No fear of that," said he. "However, I have taken a resolve not to go to-day. If I go to-morrow, I shall be just in time; and Dick wants a good day's rest."

Mrs. Gaunt said nothing; but her expressive face was triumphant.

Griffith and she took a walk together; and he, who used to be the more genial of the two, was dull, and she full of animation.

This whole day she laid herself out to bewitch her husband, and put him in high spirits.

It was up-hill work; but when such a woman sets herself in earnest to delight a man, she reads our sex a lesson in the art, that shows us we are all babies at it.

However, it was at supper she finally conquered.

Here the lights, her beauty set off with art, her deepening eyes, her satin skin, her happy excitement, her wit and tenderness, and joyous sprightliness, enveloped Griffith in an atmosphere of delight, and drove everything out of his head but herself; and with this, if the truth must be told, the sparkling wines co-operated.

Griffith plied the bottle a little too freely. But Mrs. Gaunt, on this one occasion, had not the heart to check him. The more he toasted her, the more uxorious he became, and she could not deny herself even this joy; but, besides, she had less of the prudent wife in her just then than of the weak, indulgent mother. Anything rather than check his love: she was greedy of it.

At last, however, she said to him, "Sweetheart, I shall go to bed; for, I see, if I stay longer, I shall lead thee into a debauch. Be good now; drink no more when I am gone. Else I'll say thou lovest thy bottle more than thy wife."

He promised faithfully. But, when she was gone, modified his pledge by drinking just one bumper to her health, which bumper let in another; and, when at last he retired to rest, he was in that state of mental confusion wherein the limbs appear to have a memory independent of the mind.

In this condition do some men's hands wind up their watches, the mind taking no appreciable part in the ceremony.

By some such act of what physicians call "organic memory," Griffith's feet carried him to the chamber he had slept in a thousand times, and not into the one Mrs. Rider had taken him to the night before.

The next morning he came down rather late for him, and found himself treated with a great access of respect by the servants.

His position was no longer doubtful; he was the master of the house.

Mrs. Gaunt followed in due course, and sat at breakfast with him, looking young and blooming as Hebe, and her eye never off him long.

She had lived temperately, and had not yet passed the age when happiness can restore a woman's beauty and brightness in a single day.

As for him, he was like a man in a heavenly dream: he floated in the past and the present: the recent and the[Pg 205] future seemed obscure and distant, and comparatively in a mist.

But that same afternoon, after a most affectionate farewell, and many promises to return as soon as ever he had discharged his obligations, Griffith Gaunt started for the "Packhorse," to carry to Mercy Leicester, alias Vint, the money Catharine Gaunt had saved by self-denial and economy.

And he went south a worse man than he came.

When he left Mercy Leicester, he was a bigamist in law, but not at heart. Kate was dead to him: he had given her up forever, and was constant and true to his new wife.

But now he was false to Mercy, yet not true to Kate; and, curiously enough, it was a day or two passed with his lawful wife that had demoralized him. His unlawful wife had hitherto done nothing but improve his character.

A great fault once committed is often the first link in a chain of acts that look like crimes, but are, strictly speaking, consequences.

This man, blinded at first by his own foible, and after that the sport of circumstances, was single-hearted by nature; and his conscience was not hardened. He desired earnestly to free himself and both his wives from the cruel situation; but to do this, one of them, he saw, must be abandoned entirely; and his heart bled for her.

A villain or a fool would have relished the situation; many men would have dallied with it; but, to do this erring man justice, he writhed and sorrowed under it, and sincerely desired to end it.

And this was why he prized Kate's money so. It enabled him to render a great service to her he had injured worse than he had the other, to her he saw he must abandon.

But this was feeble comfort, after all. He rode along a miserable man; none the less wretched and remorseful, that, ere he got into Lancashire, he saw his way clear. This was his resolve: to pay old Vint's debts with Kate's money; take the "Packhorse," get it made over to Mercy, give her the odd two hundred pounds and his jewels, and fly. He would never see her again; but would return home, and get the rest of the two thousand pounds from Kate, and send it Mercy by a friend, who should tell her he was dead, and had left word with his relations to send her all his substance.

At last the "Packhorse" came in sight. He drew rein, and had half a mind to turn back; but, instead of that, he crawled on, and very sick and cold he felt.

Many a man has marched to the scaffold with a less quaking heart than he to the "Packhorse."

His dejection contrasted strangely with the warm reception he met from everybody there. And the house was full of women; and they seemed, somehow, all cock-a-hoop, and filled with admiration of him.

"Where is she?" said he, faintly.

"Hark to the poor soul!" said a gossip. "Dame Vint, where's thy daughter? gone out a-walking be-like?"

At this, the other women present chuckled and clucked.

"I'll bring you to her," said Mrs. Vint; "but prithee be quiet and reasonable; for to be sure she is none too strong."

There was some little preparation, and then Griffith was ushered into Mercy's room, and found her in bed, looking a little pale, but sweeter and comelier than ever. She had the bedclothes up to her chin.

"You look wan, my poor lass," said he; "what ails ye?"

"Naught ails me now thou art come," said she, lovingly.

Griffith put the bag on the table. "There," said he, "there's five hundred pounds in gold. I come not to thee empty-handed."

"Nor I to thee," said Mercy, with a heavenly smile. "See!"

And she drew down the bedclothes a little, and showed the face of a[Pg 206] babe scarcely three days old,—a little boy.

She turned in the bed, and tried to hold him up to his father, and said, "Here's my treasure for thee!" And the effort, the flush on her cheek, and the deep light in her dove-like eyes, told plainly that the poor soul thought she had contributed to their domestic wealth something far richer than Griffith had with his bag of gold.

The father uttered an ejaculation, and came to her side, and, for a moment, Nature overpowered everything else. He kissed the child; he kissed Mercy again and again.

"Now God be praised for both," said he, passionately; "but most for thee, the best wife, the truest friend—" Here, thinking of her virtues, and the blow he had come to strike her, he broke down, and was almost choked with emotion; whereupon Mrs. Vint exerted female authority, and bundled him out of the room. "Is that the way to carry on at such an a time?" said she. "'T was enow to upset her altogether. O, but you men have little sense in women's matters. I looked to you to give her courage, not to set her off into hysterics after a manner. Nay, keep up her heart, or keep your distance, say I, that am her mother."

Griffith took this hint, and ever after took pity on Mercy's weak condition; and, suspending the fatal blow, did all he could to restore her to health and spirits.

Of course, to do that, he must deceive her; and so his life became a lie.

For, hitherto, she had never looked forward much; but now her eyes were always diving into futurity; and she lay smiling and discussing the prospects of her boy; and Griffith had to sit by her side, and see her gnaw the boy's hand, and kiss his feet, and anticipate his brilliant career. He had to look and listen with an aching heart, and assent with feigned warmth, and an inward chill of horror and remorse.

One Drummond, a travelling artist, called; and Mercy, who had often refused to sit to him, consented now; "for," she said, "when he grows up, he shall know how his parents looked in their youth, the very year their darling was born." So Griffith had to sit with her, and excellent likenesses the man produced; but a horrible one of the child. And Griffith thought, "Poor soul! a little while and this picture will be all that shall be left to thee of me."

For all this time he was actually transacting the preliminaries of separation. He got a man of law to make all sure. The farm, the stock, the furniture and good-will of the "Packhorse," all these he got assigned to Mercy Leicester for her own use, in consideration of three hundred and fifty pounds, whereof three hundred were devoted to clearing the concern of its debts, the odd fifty was to sweeten the pill to Harry Vint.

When the deed came to be executed, Mercy was surprised, and uttered a gentle remonstrance. "What have I to do with it?" said she. "'T is thy money, not mine."

"No matter," said Griffith; "I choose to have it so."

"Your will is my law," said Mercy.

"Besides," said Griffith, "the old folk will not feel so sore, nor be afraid of being turned out, if it is in thy name."

"And that is true," said Mercy. "Now who had thought of that, but my good man?" And she threw her arms lovingly round his neck, and gazed on him adoringly.

But his lion-like eyes avoided her dove-like eyes; and an involuntary shudder ran through him.

The habit of deceiving Mercy led to a consequence he had not anticipated. It tightened the chain that held him. She opened his eyes more and more to her deep affection, and he began to fear she would die if he abandoned her.

And then her present situation was so touching. She had borne him a lovely boy; that must be abandoned[Pg 207] too, if he left her; and somehow the birth of this child had embellished the mother; a delicious pink had taken the place of her rustic bloom; and her beauty was more refined and delicate. So pure, so loving, so fair, so maternal, to wound her heart now, it seemed like stabbing an angel.

One day succeeded to another, and still Griffith had not the heart to carry out his resolve. He temporized; he wrote to Kate that he was detained by the business; and he stayed on and on, strengthening his gratitude and his affection, and weakening his love for the absent, and his resolution; till, at last, he became so distracted and divided in heart, and so demoralized, that he began to give up the idea of abandoning Mercy, and babbled to himself about fate and destiny, and decided that the most merciful course would be to deceive both women. Mercy was patient. Mercy was unsuspicious. She would content herself with occasional visits, if he could only feign some plausible tale to account for long absences.

Before he got into this mess, he was a singularly truthful person; but now a lie was nothing to him. But, for that matter, many a man has been first made a liar by his connection with two women; and by degrees has carried his mendacity into other things.

However, though now blessed with mendacity, he was cursed with a lack of invention; and sorely puzzled how to live at Hernshaw, yet visit the "Packhorse."

The best thing he could hit upon was to pretend to turn bagman; and so Mercy would believe he was travelling all over England, when all the time he was quietly living at Hernshaw.

And perhaps these long separations might prepare her heart for a final parting, and so let in his original plan a few years hence.

He prepared this manœuvre with some art: he told her, one day, he had been to Lancaster, and there fallen in with a friend, who had as good as promised him the place of a commercial traveller for a mercantile house there.

"A traveller!" said Mercy. "Heaven forbid! If you knew how I wearied for you when you went to Cumberland!"

"To Cumberland! How know you I went thither?"

"O, I but guessed that; but now I know it, by your face. But go where thou wilt, the house is dull directly. Thou art our sunshine. Isn't he, my poppet?"

"Well, well; if it kept me too long from thee, I could give it up. But, child, we must think of young master. You could manage the inn, and your mother the farm, without me; and I should be earning money on my side. I want to make a gentleman of him."

"Anything for him," said Mercy: "anything in the world." But the tears stood in her eyes.

In furtherance of this deceit, Griffith did one day actually ride to Lancaster, and slept there. He wrote to Kate from that town, to say he was detained by a slight illness, but hoped to be home in a week: and the next day brought Mercy home some ribbons, and told her he had seen the merchant, and his brother, and they had made him a very fair offer. "But I've a week to think of it," said he; "so there's no hurry."

Mercy fixed her eyes on him in a very peculiar way, and made no reply. You must know that something very curious had happened whilst Griffith was gone to Lancaster.

A travelling pedler, passing by, was struck with the name on the signboard. "Hallo!" said he, "why here's a namesake of mine; I'll have a glass of his ale any way."

So he came into the public room, and called for a glass; taking care to open his pack, and display his inviting wares. Harry Vint served him. "Here's your health," said the pedler. "You must drink with me, you must."

"And welcome," said the old man.

"Well," said the pedler, "I do travel five counties; but for all that, you are the first namesake I have found. I am Thomas Leicester, too, as sure as you are a living sinner."

The old man laughed, and said,[Pg 208] "Then no namesake of mine are you; for they call me Harry Vint. Thomas Leicester, he that keeps this inn now, is my son-in-law: he is gone to Lancaster this morning."

The pedler said that was a pity, he should have liked to see his namesake, and drink a glass with him.

"Come again to-morrow," said Harry Vint, ironically. "Dame," he cried, "come hither. Here's another Thomas Leicester for ye, wants to see our one."

Mrs. Vint turned her head, and inspected the pedler from afar, as if he was some natural curiosity.

"Where do you come from, young man?" said she.

"Well, I came from Kendal last; but I am Cumberland born."

"Why, that is where t'other comes from," suggested Paul Carrick, who was once more a frequenter of the house.

"Like enow," said Mrs. Vint.

With that she dropped the matter as one of no consequence, and retired. But she went straight to Mercy, in the parlor, and told her there was a man in the kitchen that called himself Thomas Leicester.

"Well, mother?" said Mercy, with high indifference, for she was trying new socks on King Baby.

"He comes from Cumberland."

"Well, to be sure, names do run in counties."

"That is true; but, seems to me, he favors your man: much of a height, and—There, do just step into the kitchen a moment."

"La, mother," said Mercy, "I don't desire to see any more Thomas Leicesters than my own: 'tis the man, not the name. Isn't it, my lamb?"

Mrs. Vint went back to the kitchen discomfited; but, with quiet pertinacity, she brought Thomas Leicester into the parlor, pack and all.

"There, Mercy," said she, "lay out a penny with thy husband's namesake."

Mercy did not reply, for at that moment Thomas Leicester caught sight of Griffith's portrait, and gave a sudden start, and a most extraordinary look besides.

Both the women's eyes happened to be upon him, and they saw at once that he knew the original.

"You know my husband?" said Mercy Vint, after a while.

"Not I," said Leicester, looking askant at the picture.

"Don't tell no lies," said Mrs. Vint. "You do know him well." And she pointed her assertion by looking at the portrait.

"O, I know him whose picture hangs there, of course," said Leicester.

"Well, and that is her husband."

"O, that is her husband, is it?" And he was unaffectedly puzzled.

Mercy turned pale. "Yes, he is my husband," said she, "and this is our child. Can you tell me anything about him? for he came a stranger to these parts. Belike you are a kinsman of his?"

"So they say."

This reply puzzled both women.

"Any way," said the pedler, "you see we are marked alike." And he showed a long black mole on his forehead.

Mercy was now as curious as she had been indifferent. "Tell me all about him," said she: "how comes it that he is a gentleman and thou a pedler?"

"Well, because my mother was a gypsy, and his a gentlewoman."

"What brought him to these parts?"

"Trouble, they say."

"What trouble?"

"Nay, I know not." This after a slight but visible hesitation.

"But you have heard say."

"Well, I am always on the foot, and don't bide long enough in one place to learn all the gossip. But I do remember hearing he was gone to sea: and that was a lie, for he had settled here, and married you. I'fackins, he might have done worse. He has got a bonny buxom wife, and a rare fine boy, to be sure."

And now the pedler was on his guard, and determined he would not be the one to break up the household he saw before him, and afflict the dove-eyed[Pg 209] wife and mother. He was a good-natured fellow, and averse to make mischief with his own hands. Besides, he took for granted Griffith loved his new wife better than the old one; and, above all, the punishment of bigamy was severe, and was it for him to get the Squire indicted, and branded in the hand for a felon?

So the women could get nothing more out of him; he lied, evaded, shuffled, and feigned utter ignorance; pleading, adroitly enough, his vagrant life.

All this, however, aroused vague suspicions in Mrs. Vint's mind, and she went and whispered them to her favorite, Paul Carrick. "And, Paul," said she, "call for what you like, and score it to me; only treat this pedler till he leaks out summut: to be sure he'll tell a man more than he will us."

Paul entered with zeal into this commission: treated the pedler to a chop, and plied him well with the best ale.

All this failed to loose the pedler's tongue at the time, but it muddled his judgment: on resuming his journey, he gave his entertainer a wink. Carrick rose and followed him out.

"You seem a decent lad," said the pedler, "and a good-hearted one. Wilt do me a favor?"

Carrick said he would, if it lay in his power.

"O, it is easy enow," said the pedler. "'T is just to give young Thomas Leicester, into his own hand, this here trifle as soon as ever he comes home." And he handed Carrick a hard substance wrapped up in paper. Carrick promised.

"Ay, ay, lad," said the pedler, "but see you play fair, and give it him unbeknown. Now don't you be so simple as show it to any of the womenfolk. D' ye understand?"

"All right," said Carrick, knowingly. And so the boon companions for a day shook hands and parted.

And Carrick took the little parcel straight to Mrs. Vint, and told her every word the pedler had said.

And Mrs. Vint took the little parcel straight to Mercy, and told her what Carrick said the pedler had said.

And the pedler went off flushed with beer and self-complacency; for he thought he had drawn the line precisely; had faithfully discharged his promise to his lady and benefactress, but not so as to make mischief in another household.

Such was the power of Ale—in the last century.

Mercy undid the paper and found the bullet, on which was engraved


As she read these words a knife seemed to enter her heart, the pang was so keen.

But she soon took herself to task. "Thou naughty woman," said she. "What! jealous of the dead?"

She wrapped the bullet up; put it carefully away; had a good cry; and was herself again.

But all this set her watching Griffith, and reading his face. She had subtle, vague misgivings, and forbade her mother to mention the pedler's visit to Griffith yet awhile. Womanlike she preferred to worm out the truth.

On the evening of his return from Lancaster, as he was smoking his pipe, she quietly tested him. She fixed her eyes on him, and said, "One was here to-day that knows thee, and brought thee this." She then handed him the bullet, and watched his face.

Griffith undid the paper carelessly enough; but, at sight of the bullet, uttered a loud cry, and his eyes seemed ready to start out of his head.

He turned as pale as ashes, and stammered piteously, "What? what? what d'ye mean? In Heaven's name, what is this? How? Who?"

Mercy was surprised, but also much concerned at his distress; and tried to soothe him. She also asked him piteously, whether she had done wrong to give it him. "God knows," said she, "'t is no business of mine to go and remind thee of her thou hast loved better[Pg 210] mayhap than thou lovest me. But to keep it from thee, and she in her grave,—O, I had not the heart."

But Griffith's agitation increased instead of diminishing; and, even while she was trying to soothe him, he rushed wildly out of the room, and into the open air.

Mercy went, in perplexity and distress, and told her mother.

Mrs. Vint, not being blinded by affection, thought the whole thing had a very ugly look, and said as much. She gave it as her opinion that this Kate was alive, and had sent the token herself, to make mischief between man and wife.

"That shall she never," said Mercy, stoutly; but now her suspicions were thoroughly excited, and her happiness disturbed.

The next day, Griffith found her in tears. He asked her what was the matter. She would not tell him.

"You have your secrets," said she; "and so now I have mine."

Griffith became very uneasy.

For now Mercy was often in tears, and Mrs. Vint looked daggers at him.

All this was mysterious and unintelligible, and, to a guilty man, very alarming.

At last he implored Mercy to speak out. He wanted to know the worst.

Then Mercy did speak out. "You have deceived me," said she. "Kate is alive. This very morning, between sleeping and waking, you whispered her name; ay, false man, whispered it like a lover. You told me she was dead. But she is alive, and has sent you a reminder, and the bare sight of it hath turned your heart her way again. What shall I do? Why did you marry me, if you could not forget her? I did not want you to desert any woman for me. The desire of my heart was always for your happiness. But O Thomas, deceit and falsehood will not bring you happiness, no more than they will me. What shall I do? what shall I do?"

Her tears flowed freely, and Griffith sat down, and groaned with horror and remorse, beside her.

He had not the courage to tell her the horrible truth,—that Kate was his wife, and she was not.

"Do not thou afflict thyself," he muttered. "Of course, with you putting that bullet in my hand so sudden, it set my fancy a wandering back to other days."

"Ah!" said Mercy, "if it be no worse than that, there's little harm. But why did thy namesake start so at sight of thy picture?"

"My namesake!" cried Griffith, all aghast.

"Ay, he that brought thee that love-token,—Thomas Leicester. Nay, for very shame, feign not ignorance of him. Why, he hath thy very mole on his temple, and knew thy picture in a moment. He is thy half-brother; is he not?"

"I am a ruined man," cried Griffith, and sank into a chair without power of motion.

"God help me, what is all this?" cried Mercy. "O Thomas, Thomas, I could forgive thee aught but deceit: for both our sakes speak out, and tell me the worst. No harm shall come near thee while I live."

"How can I tell thee? I am an unfortunate man. The world will call me a villain; yet I am not a villain at heart. But who will believe me? I have broken the law. Thee I could trust, but not thy folk; they never loved me. Mercy, for pity's sake, when was that Thomas Leicester here?"

"Four days ago."

"Which way went he?"

"I hear he told Paul he was going to Cumberland."

"If he gets there before me, I shall rot in gaol."

"Now God forbid! O Thomas, then mount and ride after him."

"I will, and this very moment."

He saddled Black Dick, and loaded his pistols for the journey; but, ere he went, a pale face looked out into the yard, and a finger beckoned. It was Mercy. She bade him follow her. She[Pg 211] took him to her room, where their child was sleeping; and then she closed and even locked the door.

"No soul can hear us," said she; "now look me in the face, and tell me God's truth. Who and what are you?"

Griffith shuddered at this exordium; he made no reply.

Mercy went to a box and took out an old shirt of his,—the one he wore when he first came to the "Packhorse." She brought it to him and showed him "G. G." embroidered on it with a woman's hair. (Ryder's.)

"Here are your initials," said she; "now leave useless falsehoods; be a man, and tell me your real name."

"My name is Griffith Gaunt."

Mercy, sick at heart, turned her head away; but she had the resolution to urge him on. "Go on," said she, in an agonized whisper: "if you believe in God and a judgment to come, deceive me no more. The truth, I say! the truth!"

"So be it," said Griffith, desperately: "when I have told thee what a villain I am, I can die at thy feet, and then thou wilt forgive me.

"Who is Kate?" was all she replied.

"Kate is my wife."

"I thought her false; who could think any other? appearances were so strong against her: others thought so beside me. I raised my hand to kill her; but she never winced. I trampled on him I believed her paramour: I fled, and soon I lay a-dying in this house for her sake. I told thee she was dead. Alas! I thought her dead to me. I went back to our house (it is her house) sore against the grain, to get money for thee and thine. Then she cleared herself, bright as the sun, and pure as snow. She was all in black for me; she had put by money, against I should come to my senses and need it. I told her I owed a debt in Lancashire, a debt of gratitude as well as money: and so I did. How have I repaid it? The poor soul forced five hundred pounds on me. I had much ado to keep her from bringing it hither with her own hands. O, villain! villain! Then I thought to leave thee, and send thee word I was dead, and heap money on thee. Money! But how could I? thou wast my benefactress, my more than wife. All the riches of the world can make no return to thee. What, what shall I do? Shall I fly with thee and thy child across the seas? Shall I go back to her? No; the best thing I can do is to take this good pistol, and let the life out of my dishonorable carcass, and free two honest women from me by one resolute act."

In his despair he cocked the pistol; and, at a word from Mercy, this tale had ended.

But the poor woman, pale and trembling, tottered across the room, and took it out of his hand. "I would not harm thy body, nor thy soul," she gasped. "Let me draw my breath and think."

She rocked herself to and fro in silence.

Griffith stood trembling like a criminal before his judge.

It was long ere she could speak, for anguish. Yet when she did speak, it was with a sort of deadly calm.

"Go tell the truth to her, as you have done to me; and, if she can forgive you, all the better for you. I can never forgive you, nor yet can harm you. My child! my child! Thy father is our ruin. O, begone, man, or the sight of you will kill us both."

Then he fell at her knees; kissed, and wept over her cold hand; and, in his pity and despair, offered to cross the seas with her and her child, and so repair the wrong he had done her.

"Tempt me not," she sobbed. "Go, leave me! None here shall ever know thy crime, but she whose heart thou hast broken, and ruined her good name."

He took her in his arms, in spite of her resistance, and kissed her passionately; but, for the first time, she shuddered at his embrace; and that gave him the power to leave her.

He rushed from her, all but distracted,[Pg 212] and rode away to Cumberland; but not to tell the truth to Kate, if he could possibly help it.


At this particular time, no man's presence was more desired in that county than Griffith Gaunt's.

And this I need not now be telling the reader, if I had related this story on the plan of a miscellaneous chronicle. But the affairs of the heart are so absorbing, that, even in a narrative, they thrust aside important circumstances of a less moving kind.

I must therefore go back a step, before I advance further. You must know that forty years before our Griffith Gaunt saw the light, another Griffith Gaunt was born in Cumberland: a younger son, and the family estate entailed; but a shrewd lad, who chose rather to hunt fortune elsewhere than to live in miserable dependence on his elder brother. His godfather, a city merchant, encouraged him, and he left Cumberland. He went into commerce, and in twenty years became a wealthy man,—so wealthy that he lived to look down on his brother's estate, which he had once thought opulence. His life was all prosperity, with a single exception; but that a bitter one. He laid out some of his funds in a fashionable and beautiful wife. He loved her before marriage; and, as she was always cold to him, he loved her more and more.

In the second year of their marriage she ran away from him; and no beggar in the streets of London was so miserable as the wealthy merchant.

It blighted the man, and left him a sore heart all his days. He never married again; and railed on all womankind for this one. He led a solitary life in London till he was sixty-nine; and then, all of a sudden, Nature, or accident, or both, changed his whole habits. Word came to him that the family estate, already deeply mortgaged, was for sale, and a farmer who had rented a principal farm on it, and held a heavy mortgage, had made the highest offer.

Old Griffith sent down Mr. Atkins, his solicitor, post haste, and snapped the estate out of that purchaser's hands.

When the lands and house had been duly conveyed to him, he came down, and his heart seemed to bud again, in the scenes of his childhood.

Finding the house small, and built in a valley instead of on rising ground, he got an army of bricklayers, and began to build a mansion with a rapidity unheard of in those parts; and he looked about for some one to inherit it.

The name of Gaunt had dwindled down to three, since he left Cumberland; but a rich man never lacks relations. Featherstonhaughs, and Underhills, and even Smiths, poured in, with parish registers in their laps, and proved themselves Gauntesses, and flattered and carneyed the new head of the family.

Then the perverse old gentleman felt inclined to look elsewhere. He knew he had a namesake at the other side of the county, but this namesake did not come near him.

This independent Gaunt excited his curiosity and interest. He made inquiries, and heard that young Griffith had just quarrelled with his wife, and gone away in despair.

Griffith senior took for granted that the fault lay with Mrs. Gaunt, and wasted some good sympathy on Griffith junior.

On further inquiry he learned that the truant was dependent on his wife. Then, argued the moneyed man, he would not run away from her but that his wound was deep.

The consequence of all this was, that he made a will very favorable to his absent and injured (?) namesake. He left numerous bequests; but made Griffith his residuary legatee; and, having settled this matter, urged on, and superintended his workmen.

Alas! just as the roof was going on, a narrower house claimed him, and he[Pg 213] made good the saying of the wise bard,—

"Tu secanda marmora
Locas sub ipsum funus et sepulchri
Immemor struis domos."

The heir of his own choosing could not be found to attend his funeral; and Mr. Atkins, his solicitor, a very worthy man, was really hurt at this. With the quiet bitterness of a displeased attorney, he merely sent Mrs. Gaunt word her husband inherited something under the will, and she would do well to produce him, or else furnish him (Atkins) with proof of his decease.

Mrs. Gaunt was offended by this cavalier note, and replied very like a woman, and very unlike Business.

"I do not know where he is," said she, "nor whether he is alive or dead. Nor do I feel disposed to raise the hue and cry after him. But favor me with your address, and I shall let you know should I hear anything about him."

Mr. Atkins was half annoyed, half amused, at this piece of indifference. It never occurred to him that it might be all put on.

He wrote back to say that the estate was large, and, owing to the terms of the will, could not be administered without Mr. Griffith Gaunt; and, in the interest of the said Griffith Gaunt, and also of the other legatees, he really must advertise for him.

La Gaunt replied, that he was very welcome to advertise for whomsoever he pleased.

Mr. Atkins was a very worthy man; but human. To tell the truth, he was himself one of the other legatees. He inherited (and, to be just, had well deserved) four thousand guineas, under the will, and could not legally touch it without Griffith Gaunt. This little circumstance spurred his professional zeal.

Mr. Atkins advertised for Griffith Gaunt, in the London and Cumberland papers, and in the usual enticing form. He was to apply to Mr. Atkins, Solicitor, of Gray's Inn, and he would hear of something greatly to his advantage.

These advertisements had not been out a fortnight, when Griffith Gaunt came home, as I have related.

But Mr. Atkins had punished Mrs. Gaunt for her insouciance, by not informing her of the extent of her good fortune; so she merely told Griffith, casually, that old Griffith Gaunt had left him some money, and the solicitor, Mr. Atkins, could not get on without him. Even this information she did not vouchsafe until she had given him her £500, for she grudged Atkins the pleasure of supplying her husband with money.

However, as soon as Griffith left her, she wrote to Mr. Atkins to say that her husband had come home in perfect health, thank God; had only stayed two days, but was to return in a week.

When ten days had elapsed, Atkins wrote to inquire.

She replied he had not yet returned; and this went on till Mr. Atkins showed considerable impatience.

As for Mrs. Gaunt, she made light of the matter to Mr. Atkins; but, in truth, this new mystery irritated her and pained her deeply.

In one respect she was more unhappy than she had been before he came back at all. Then she was alone; her door was closed to commentators. But now, on the strength of so happy a reconciliation, she had re-entered the world, and received visits from Sir George Neville, and others; and, above all, had announced that Griffith would be back for good in a few days. So now his continued absence exposed her to sly questions from her own sex, to the interchange of glances between female visitors, as well as to the internal torture of doubt and suspense.

But what distracted her most was the view Mrs. Ryder took of the matter.

That experienced lady had begun to suspect some other woman was at the bottom of Griffith's conduct; and her own love for Griffith was now soured. Repeated disappointments and affronts, spretæque injuria formæ, had not quite extinguished it, but had mixed so much[Pg 214] spite with it that she was equally ready to kiss or to stab him.

So she took every opportunity to instil into her mistress, whose confidence she had won at last, that Griffith was false to her.

"That is the way with these men that are so ready to suspect others. Take my word for it, Dame, he has carried your money to his leman. 'Tis still the honest woman that must bleed for some nasty trollop or other."

She enforced this theory by examples drawn from her own observations in families, and gave the very names; and drove Mrs. Gaunt almost mad with fear, anger, jealousy, and cruel suspense. She could not sleep, she could not eat; she was in a constant fever.

Yet before the world she battled it out bravely, and indeed none but Ryder knew the anguish of her spirit, and her passionate wrath.

At last there came a most eventful day.

Mrs. Gaunt had summoned all her pride and fortitude, and invited certain ladies and gentlemen to dine and sup.

She was one of the true Spartan breed, and played the hostess as well as if her heart had been at ease. It was an age in which the host struggled fiercely to entertain the guests; and Mrs. Gaunt was taxing all her powers of pleasing in the dining-room, when an unexpected guest strolled into the kitchen: the pedler, Thomas Leicester.

Jane welcomed him cordially, and he was soon seated at a table eating his share of the feast.

Presently Mrs. Ryder came down, dressed in her best, and looking handsomer than ever.

At sight of her, Tom Leicester's affection revived; and he soon took occasion to whisper an inquiry whether she was still single.

"Ay," said she, "and like to be."

"Waiting for the master still? Mayhap I could cure you of that complaint. But least said is soonest mended."

This mysterious hint showed Ryder he had a secret burning his bosom. The sly hussy said nothing just then, but plied him with ale and flattery; and, when he whispered a request for a private meeting out of doors, she cast her eyes down, and assented.

And in that meeting she carried herself so adroitly, that he renewed his offer of marriage, and told her not to waste her fancy on a man who cared neither for her nor any other she in Cumberland.

"Prove that to me," said Ryder, cunningly, "and may be I'll take you at your word."

The bribe was not to be resisted. Tom revealed to her, under a solemn promise of secrecy, that the Squire had got a wife and child in Lancashire; and had a farm and an inn, which latter he kept under the name of—Thomas Leicester.

In short, he told her, in his way, all the particulars I have told in mine.

Which told it the best will never be known in this world.

She led him on with a voice of very velvet. He did not see how her cheek paled and her eyes flashed jealous fury.

When she had sucked him dry, she suddenly turned on him, with a cold voice, and said, "I can't stay any longer with you just now. She will want me."

"You will meet me here again, lass?" said Tom, ruefully.

"Yes, for a minute, after supper."

She then left him, and went to Mrs. Gaunt's room, and sat crouching before the fire, all hate and bitterness.

What? he had left the wife he loved, and yet had not turned to her!

She sat there, waiting for Mrs. Gaunt, and nursing her vindictive fury, two mortal hours.

At last, just before supper, Mrs. Gaunt came up to her room, to cool her fevered hands and brow, and found this creature crouched by her fire, all in a heap, with pale cheek, and black eyes that glittered like basilisk's.

"What is the matter, child?" said Mrs. Gaunt. "Good heavens! what hath happened?"[Pg 215]

"Dame!" said Ryder, sternly, "I have got news of him."

"News of him?" faltered Mrs. Gaunt. "Bad news?"

"I don't know whether to tell you or not," said Ryder, sulkily, but with a touch of human feeling.

"What cannot I bear? What have I not borne? Tell me the truth."

The words were stout, but she trembled all over in uttering them.

"Well, it is as I said, only worse. Dame, he has got a wife and child in another county; and no doubt been deceiving her, as he has us."

"A wife!" gasped Mrs. Gaunt, and one white hand clutched her bosom, and the other the mantel-piece.

"Ay, Thomas Leicester, that is in the kitchen now, saw her, and saw his picture hanging aside hers on the wall. And he goes by the name of Thomas Leicester. That was what made Tom go into the inn, seeing his own name on the signboard. Nay, Dame, never give way like that. Lean on me,—so. He is a villain,—a false, jealous, double-faced villain."

Mrs. Gaunt's head fell back on Ryder's shoulder, and she said no word; but only moaned and moaned, and her white teeth clicked convulsively together.

Ryder wept over her sad state: the tears were half impulse, half crocodile.

She applied hartshorn to the sufferer's nostrils, and tried to rouse her mind by exciting her anger. But all was in vain. There hung the betrayed wife, pale, crushed, and quivering under the cruel blow.

Ryder asked her if she should go down and excuse her to her guests.

She nodded a feeble assent.

Ryder then laid her down on the bed with her head low, and was just about to leave her on that errand, when hurried steps were heard outside the door; and one of the female servants knocked; and, not waiting to be invited, put her head in, and cried, "O, Dame, the Master is come home. He is in the kitchen."


Mrs. Ryder made an agitated motion with her hand, and gave the girl such a look withal, that she retired precipitately.

But Mrs. Gaunt had caught the words, and they literally transformed her. She sprang off the bed, and stood erect, and looked a Saxon Pythoness: golden hair streaming down her back, and gray eyes gleaming with fury.

She caught up a little ivory-handled knife, and held it above her head.

"I'll drive this into his heart before them all," she cried, "and tell them the reason afterwards."

Ryder looked at her for a moment in utter terror. She saw a woman with grander passions than herself; a woman that looked quite capable of executing her sanguinary threat. Ryder made no more ado, but slipped out directly to prevent a meeting that might be attended with terrible consequences.

She found her master in the kitchen, splashed with mud, drinking a horn of ale after his ride, and looking rather troubled and anxious; and, by the keen eye of her sex, she saw that the female servants were also in considerable anxiety. The fact is, they had just extemporized a lie.

Tom Leicester, being near the kitchen window, had seen Griffith ride into the court-yard.

At sight of that well-known figure, he drew back, and his heart quaked at his own imprudence, in confiding Griffith's secret to Caroline Ryder.

"Lasses," said he, hastily, "do me a kindness for old acquaintance. Here's the Squire. For Heaven's sake, don't let him know I am in the house, or there will be bloodshed between us. He is a hasty man, and I'm another. I'll tell ye more by and by."

The next moment Griffith's tread was heard approaching the very door, and Leicester darted into the housekeeper's room, and hid in a cupboard there.[Pg 216]

Griffith opened the kitchen door, and stood upon the threshold.

The women courtesied to him, and were loud in welcome.

He returned their civilities briefly; and then his first word was, "Hath Thomas Leicester been here?"

You know how servants stick together against their master! The girls looked him in the face, like candid doves, and told him Leicester had not been that way for six months or more.

"Why, I have tracked him to within two miles," said Griffith, doubtfully.

"Then he is sure to come here," said Jane, adroitly. "He wouldn't ever think to go by us."

"The moment he enters the house, you let me know. He is a mischief-making loon."

He then asked for a horn of ale; and, as he finished it, Ryder came in, and he turned to her, and asked her after her mistress.

"She was well, just now," said Ryder; "but she has been took with a spasm; and it would be well, sir, if you could dress, and entertain the company in her place awhile. For I must tell you, your being so long away hath set their tongues going, and almost broken my lady's heart."

Griffith sighed, and said he could not help it, and now he was here, he would do all in his power to please her. "I'll go to her at once," said he.

"No, sir!" said Ryder, firmly. "Come with me. I want to speak to you."

She took him to his bachelor's room, and stayed a few minutes to talk to him.

"Master," said she, solemnly, "things are very serious here. Why did you stay so long away? Our dame says some woman is at the bottom of it, and she'll put a knife into you if you come a-nigh her."

This threat did not appall Griffith, as Ryder expected. Indeed, he seemed rather flattered.

"Poor Kate!" said he; "she is just the woman to do it. But I am afraid she does not love me enough for that. But indeed how should she?"

"Well, sir," replied Ryder, "oblige me by keeping clear of her for a little while. I have got orders to make your bed here. Now, dress, like a good soul, and then go down and show respect to the company that is in your house; for they know you are here."

"Why, that is the least I can do," said Griffith. "Put you out what I am to wear, and then run and say I'll be with them anon."

Griffith walked into the dining-room, and, somewhat to his surprise, after what Ryder had said, found Mrs. Gaunt seated at the head of her own table, and presiding like a radiant queen over a brilliant assembly.

He walked in, and made a low bow to his guests first: then he approached to greet his wife more freely; but she drew back decidedly, and made him a courtesy, the dignity and distance of which struck the whole company.

Sir George Neville, who was at the bottom of the table, proposed, with his usual courtesy, to resign his place to Griffith. But Mrs. Gaunt forbade the arrangement.

"No, Sir George," said she; "this is but an occasional visitor; you are my constant friend."

If this had been said pleasantly, well and good; but the guests looked in vain into their hostess's face for the smile that ought to have accompanied so strange a speech and disarmed it.

"Rarities are the more welcome," said a lady, coming to the rescue; and edged aside to make room for him.

"Madam," said Griffith, "I am in your debt for that explanation; but I hope you will be no rarity here, for all that."

Supper proceeded; but the mirth languished. Somehow or other, the chill fact that there was a grave quarrel between two at the table, and those two man and wife, insinuated itself into the spirits of the guests. There began to be lulls,—fatal lulls. And in one of these, some unlucky voice was heard[Pg 217] to murmur, "Such a meeting of man and wife I never saw."

The hearers felt miserable at this personality, that fell upon the ear of silence like a thunderbolt.

Griffith was ill-advised enough to notice the remark, though clearly not intended for his ears. For one thing, his jealousy had actually revived at the cool preference Kate had shown his old rival, Neville.

"Oh!" said he, bitterly, "a man is not always his wife's favorite."

"He does not always deserve to be," said Mrs. Gaunt, sternly.

When matters had gone that length, one idea seemed to occur pretty simultaneously to all the well-bred guests; and that idea was, Sauve qui peut.

Mrs. Gaunt took leave of them, one by one, and husband and wife were left alone.

Mrs. Gaunt by this time was alarmed at the violence of her own passions, and wished to avoid Griffith for that night at all events. So she cast one terribly stern look upon him, and was about to retire in grim silence. But he, indignant at the public affront she had put on him, and not aware of the true cause, unfortunately detained her. He said, sulkily, "What sort of a reception was that you gave me?"

This was too much. She turned on him furiously. "Too good for thee, thou heartless creature! Thomas Leicester is here, and I know thee for a villain."

"You know nothing," cried Griffith. "Would you believe that mischief-making knave? What has he told you?"

"Go back to her!" cried Mrs. Gaunt furiously. "Me you can deceive and pillage no more. So, this was your jealousy! False and forsworn yourself, you dared to suspect and insult me. Ah! and you think I am the woman to endure this? I'll have your life for it! I'll have your life."

Griffith endeavored to soften her,—protested that, notwithstanding appearances, he had never loved but her.

"I'll soon be rid of you, and your love," said the raging woman. "The constables shall come for you to-morrow. You have seen how I can love, you shall know how I can hate."

She then, in her fury, poured out a torrent of reproaches and threats that made his blood run cold. He could not answer her: he had suspected her wrongfully, and been false to her himself. He had abused her generosity, and taken her money for Mercy Vint.

After one or two vain efforts to check the torrent, he sank into a chair, and hid his face in his hands.

But this did not disarm her, at the time. Her raging voice and raging words were heard by the very servants, long after he had ceased to defend himself.

At last she came out, pale with fury, and, finding Ryder near the door, shrieked out, "Take that reptile to his den, if he is mean enough to lie in this house,"—then, lowering her voice, "and bring Thomas Leicester to me."

Ryder went to Leicester, and told him. But he objected to come. "You have betrayed me," said he. "Curse my weak heart and my loose tongue. I have done the poor Squire an ill turn. I can never look him in the face again. But 'tis all thy fault, double-face. I hate the sight of thee."

At this Ryder shed some crocodile tears; and very soon, by her blandishments, obtained forgiveness.

And Leicester, since the mischief was done, was persuaded to see the dame, who was his recent benefactor, you know. He bargained, however, that the Squire should be got to bed first; for he had a great dread of meeting him. "He'll break every bone in my skin," said Tom; "or else I shall do him a mischief in my defence."

Ryder herself saw the wisdom of this. She bade him stay quiet, and she went to look after Griffith.

She found him in the drawing-room, with his head on the table, in deep dejection.

She assumed authority, and said he must go to bed.

He rose humbly, and followed her like a submissive dog.[Pg 218]

She took him to his room. There was no fire.

"That is where you are to sleep," said she, spitefully.

"It is better than I deserve," said he, humbly.

The absurd rule about not hitting a man when he is down has never obtained a place in the great female soul; so Ryder lashed him without mercy.

"Well, sir," said she, "methinks you have gained little by breaking faith with me. Y' had better have set up your inn with me, than gone and sinned against the law."

"Much better: would to Heaven I had!"

"What d' ye mean to do now? You know the saying. Between two stools—"

"Child," said Griffith, faintly, "methinks I shall trouble neither long. I am not so ill a man as I seem; but who will believe that? I shall not live long. And I shall leave an ill name behind me. She told me so just now. And oh! her eye was so cruel; I saw my death in it."

"Come, come," said Ryder, relenting a little; "you mustn't believe every word an angry woman says. There, take my advice; go to bed; and in the morning don't speak to her. Keep out of her way a day or two."

And with this piece of friendly advice she left him; and waited about till she thought he was in bed and asleep.

Then she brought Thomas Leicester up to her mistress.

But Griffith was not in bed; and he heard Leicester's heavy tread cross the landing. He waited and waited behind his door for more than half an hour, and then he heard the same heavy tread go away again.

By this time nearly all the inmates of the house were asleep.

About twenty-five minutes after Leicester left Mrs. Gaunt, Caroline Ryder stole quietly up stairs from the kitchen, and sat down to think it all over.

She then proceeded to undress; but had only taken off her gown, when she started and listened; for a cry of distress reached her from outside the house.

She darted to the window and threw it open.

Then she heard a cry more distinct, "Help! help!"

It was a clear starlight night, but no moon.

The mere shone before her, and the cries were on the bank.

Now came something more alarming still. A flash,—a pistol shot,—and an agonized voice cried loudly, "Murder! Help! Murder!"

That voice she knew directly. It was Griffith Gaunt's.


Ryder ran screaming, and alarmed the other servants.

All the windows that looked on the mere were flung open.

But no more sounds were heard. A terrible silence brooded now over those clear waters.

The female servants huddled together, and quaked; for who could doubt that a bloody deed had been done?

It was some time before they mustered the presence of mind to go and tell Mrs. Gaunt. At last they opened her door. She was not in her room.

Ryder ran to Griffith's. It was locked. She called to him. He made no reply.

They burst the door open. He was not there; and the window was open.

While their tongues were all going, in consternation, Mrs. Gaunt was suddenly among them, very pale.

They turned, and looked at her aghast.

"What means all this?" said she. "Did not I hear cries outside?"

"Ay," said Ryder. "Murder! and a pistol fired. O, my poor master!"

Mrs. Gaunt was white as death; but self-possessed. "Light torches this moment, and search the place," said she.

There was only one man in the house; and he declined to go out[Pg 219] alone. So Ryder and Mrs. Gaunt went with him, all three bearing lighted links.

They searched the place where Ryder had heard the cries. They went up and down the whole bank of the mere, and cast their torches' red light over the placid waters themselves. But there was nothing to be seen, alive or dead,—no trace either of calamity or crime.

They roused the neighbors, and came back to the house with their clothes all draggled and dirty.

Mrs. Gaunt took Ryder apart, and asked her if she could guess at what time of the night Griffith had made his escape. "He is a villain," said she, "yet I would not have him come to harm, God knows. There are thieves abroad. But I hope he ran away as soon as your back was turned, and so fell not in with them."

"Humph!" said Ryder. Then, looking Mrs. Gaunt in the face, she said, quietly, "Where were you when you heard the cries?"

"I was on the other side of the house."

"What, out o' doors, at that time of night!"

"Ay; I was in the grove,—praying."

"Did you hear any voice you knew?"

"No: all was too indistinct. I heard a pistol, but no words. Did you?"

"I heard no more than you, madam," said Ryder, trembling.

No one went to bed any more that night in Hernshaw Castle.


This mysterious circumstance made a great talk in the village and in the kitchen of Hernshaw Castle; but not in the drawing-room; for Mrs. Gaunt instantly closed her door to visitors, and let it be known that it was her intention to retire to a convent; and, in the mean time, she desired not to be disturbed.

Ryder made one or two attempts to draw her out upon the subject, but was sternly checked.

Pale, gloomy, and silent, the mistress of Hernshaw Castle moved about the place, like the ghost of her former self. She never mentioned Griffith; forbade his name to be uttered in her hearing; and, strange to say, gave Ryder strict orders not to tell any one what she had heard from Thomas Leicester.

"This last insult is known but to you and me. If it ever gets abroad, you leave my service that very hour."

This injunction set Ryder thinking. However, she obeyed it to the letter. Her place was getting better and better; and she was a woman accustomed to keep secrets.

A pressing letter came from Mr. Atkins.

Mrs. Gaunt replied that her husband had come to Hernshaw, but had left again; and the period of his ultimate return was now more uncertain than ever.

On this Mr. Atkins came down to Hernshaw Castle. But Mrs. Gaunt would not see him. He retired very angry, and renewed his advertisements, but in a more explicit form. He now published that Griffith Gaunt, of Hernshaw and Bolton, was executor and residuary legatee to the late Griffith Gaunt of Coggleswade; and requested him to apply directly to James Atkins, Solicitor, of Gray's Inn, London.

In due course this advertisement was read by the servants at Hernshaw, and shown by Ryder to Mrs. Gaunt.

She made no comment whatever; and contrived to render her pale face impenetrable.

Ryder became as silent and thoughtful as herself, and often sat bending her black judicial brows.

By and by dark mysterious words began to be thrown out in Hernshaw village.

"He will never come back at all."

"He will never come into that fortune."

"'T is no use advertising for a man that is past reading."[Pg 220]

These, and the like equivocal sayings, were followed by a vague buzz, which was traceable to no individual author, but seemed to rise on all sides, like a dark mist, and envelop that unhappy house.

And that dark mist of Rumor soon condensed itself into a palpable and terrible whisper,—"Griffith Gaunt hath met with foul play."

No one of the servants told Mrs. Gaunt this horrid rumor.

But the women used to look at her, and after her, with strange eyes.

She noticed this, and felt, somehow, that her people were falling away from her. It added one drop to her bitter cup. She began to droop into a sort of calm, despondent lethargy.

Then came fresh trouble to rouse her.

Two of the county magistrates called on her in their official capacity, and, with perfect politeness, but a very grave air, requested her to inform them of all the circumstances attending her husband's disappearance.

She replied, coldly and curtly, that she knew very little about it. Her husband had left in the middle of the night.

"He came to stay?"

"I believe so."

"Came on horseback?"


"Did he go away on horseback?"

"No; for the horse is now in my stable."

"Is it true there was a quarrel between you and him that evening?"

"Gentlemen," said Mrs. Gaunt, drawing herself back, haughtily, "did you come here to gratify your curiosity?"

"No, madam," said the elder of the two; "but to discharge a very serious and painful duty, in which I earnestly request you, and even advise you, to aid us. Was there a quarrel?"

"There was—a mortal quarrel."

The gentlemen exchanged glances, and the elder made a note.

"May we ask the subject of that quarrel?"

Mrs. Gaunt declined, positively, to enter into a matter so delicate.

A note was taken of this refusal.

"Are you aware, madam, that your husband's voice was heard calling for help, and that a pistol-shot was fired?"

Mrs. Gaunt trembled visibly.

"I heard the pistol-shot," said she; "but not the voice distinctly. O, I hope it was not his voice Ryder heard!"

"Ryder, who is he?"

"Ryder is my lady's maid: her bedroom is on that side the house."

"Can we see Mrs. Ryder?"

"Certainly," said Mrs. Gaunt, and rose and rang the bell.

Mrs. Ryder answered the bell, in person, very promptly; for she was listening at the door.

Being questioned, she told the magistrates what she had heard down by "the mere"; and said she was sure it was her master's voice that cried "Help!" and "Murder!" And with this she began to cry.

Mrs. Gaunt trembled and turned pale.

The magistrates confined their questions to Ryder.

They elicited, however, very little more from her. She saw the drift of their questions, and had an impulse to defend her mistress there present. Behind her back it would have been otherwise.

That resolution once taken, two children might as well have tried to extract evidence from her as two justices of the peace.

And then Mrs. Gaunt's pale face and noble features touched them. The case was mysterious, but no more; and they departed little the wiser, and with some apologies for the trouble they had given her.

The next week down came Mr. Atkins, out of all patience, and determined to find Griffith Gaunt, or else obtain some proof of his decease.

He obtained two interviews with Ryder, and bribed her to tell him all she knew. He prosecuted other inquiries with more method than had hitherto been used, and elicited an important fact, namely, that Griffith Gaunt had been seen walking in a certain direction at[Pg 221] one o'clock in the morning, followed at a short distance by a tall man with a knapsack, or the like, on his back.

The person who gave this tardy information was the wife of a certain farmer's man, who wired hares upon the sly. The man himself, being assured that, in a case so serious as this, no particular inquiries should be made how he came to be out so late, confirmed what his wife had let out, and added, that both men had taken the way that would lead them to the bridge, meaning the bridge over the mere. More than that he could not say, for he had met them, and was full half a mile from the mere before those men could have reached it.

Following up this clew, Mr. Atkins learned so many ugly things, that he went to the Bench on justicing day, and demanded a full and searching inquiry on the premises.

Sir George Neville, after in vain opposing this, rode off straight from the Bench to Hernshaw, and in feeling terms conveyed the bad news to Mrs. Gaunt; and then, with the utmost delicacy, let her know that some suspicion rested upon herself, which she would do well to meet with the bold front of innocence.

"What suspicion, pray?" said Mrs. Gaunt, haughtily.

Sir George shrugged his shoulders, and replied, "That you have done Gaunt the honor to put him out of the way."

Mrs. Gaunt took this very differently from what Sir George expected.

"What!" she cried, "are they so sure he is dead,—murdered?"

And with this she went into a passion of grief and remorse.

Even Sir George was puzzled, as well as affected, by her convulsive agitation.


Though it was known the proposed inquiry might result in the committal of Mrs. Gaunt on a charge of murder, yet the respect in which she had hitherto been held, and the influence of Sir George Neville, who, having been her lover, stoutly maintained her innocence, prevailed so far that even this inquiry was private, and at her own house. Only she was present in the character of a suspected person, and the witnesses were examined before her.

First, the poacher gave his evidence.

Then Jane, the cook, proved that a pedler called Thomas Leicester had been in the kitchen, and secreted about the premises till a late hour; and this Thomas Leicester corresponded exactly to the description given by the poacher.

This threw suspicion on Thomas Leicester, but did not connect Mrs. Gaunt with the deed in any way.

But Ryder's evidence filled this gap. She revealed three serious facts:—

First, that, by her mistress's orders, she had introduced this very Leicester into her mistress's room about midnight, where he had remained nearly half an hour, and had then left the house.

Secondly, that Mrs. Gaunt herself had been out of doors after midnight.

And, thirdly, that she had listened at the door, and heard her threaten Griffith Gaunt's life.

This is a mere précis of the evidence, and altogether it looked so suspicious, that the magistrates, after telling Mrs. Gaunt she could ask the witnesses any question she chose, a suggestion she treated with marked contempt, put their heads together a moment and whispered. Then the eldest of them, Mr. Underhill, who lived at a considerable distance, told her gravely he must commit her to take her trial at the next assizes.

"Do what you conceive to be your duty, gentlemen," said Mrs. Gaunt, with marvellous dignity. "If I do not assert my innocence, it is because I disdain the accusation too much."

"I shall take no part in the committal of this innocent lady," said Sir George Neville, and was about to leave the room.

But Mrs. Gaunt begged him to stay. "To be guilty is one thing," said she, "to be accused is another. I shall go[Pg 222] to prison as easy as to my dinner; and to the gallows as to my bed."

The presiding magistrate was staggered a moment by these words; and it was not without considerable hesitation he took the warrant and prepared to fill it up.

Then Mr. Houseman, who had watched the proceedings very keenly, put in his word. "I am here for the accused person, sir, and, with your good leave, object to her committal—on grounds of law."

"What may they be, Mr. Houseman?" said the magistrate, civilly; and laid his pen down to hear them.

"Briefly, sir, these. Where a murder is proven, you can commit a subject of this realm upon suspicion. But you cannot suspect the murder as well as the culprit, and so commit. The murder must be proved to the senses. Now in this case, the death of Mr. Gaunt by violence is not proved. Indeed, his very death rests but upon suspicion. I admit that the law of England in this respect has once or twice been tampered with, and persons have even been executed where no corpus delicti was found; but what was the consequence? In each case the murdered man turned out to be alive, and justice was the only murderer. After Harrison's case, and ----'s, no Cumberland jury will ever commit for murder, unless the corpus delicti has been found, and with signs of violence upon it. Come, come, Mr. Atkins, you are too good a lawyer, and too humane a man, to send my client to prison on the suspicion of a suspicion, which you know the very breath of the judge will blow away, even if the grand jury let it go into court. I offer bail, ten thousand pounds in two sureties; Sir George Neville here present, and myself."

The magistrate looked to Mr. Atkins.

"I am not employed by the crown," said that gentleman, "but acting on mere civil grounds, and have no right nor wish to be severe. Bail by all means: but is the lady so sure of her innocence as to lend me her assistance to find the corpus delicti?"

The question was so shrewdly put, that any hesitation would have ruined Mrs. Gaunt.

Houseman, therefore, replied eagerly and promptly, "I answer for her, she will."

Mrs. Gaunt bowed her head in assent.

"Then," said Atkins, "I ask leave to drag, and, if need be, to drain that piece of water there, called 'the mere.'"

"Drag it or drain it, which you will," said Houseman.

Said Atkins, very impressively, "And, mark my words, at the bottom of that very sheet of water there, I shall find the remains of the late Griffith Gaunt."

At these solemn words, coming as they did, not from a loose unprofessional speaker, but from a lawyer, a man who measured all his words, a very keen observer might have seen a sort of tremor run all through Mr. Houseman's frame. The more admirable, I think, was the perfect coolness and seeming indifference with which he replied, "Find him, and I'll admit suicide; find him, with signs of violence, and I'll admit homicide—by some person or persons unknown."

All further remarks were interrupted by bustle and confusion.

Mrs. Gaunt had fainted dead away.


Of course pity was the first feeling; but, by the time Mrs. Gaunt revived, her fainting, so soon after Mr. Atkins's proposal, had produced a sinister effect on the minds of all present; and every face showed it, except the wary Houseman's.

On her retiring, it broke out first in murmurs, then in plain words.

As for Mr. Atkins, he now showed the moderation of an able man who feels he has a strong cause.

He merely said, "I think there should be constables about, in case of an escape being attempted; but I agree with[Pg 223] Mr. Houseman that your worships will be quite justified in taking bail, provided the corpus delicti should not be found. Gentlemen, you were most of you neighbors and friends of the deceased, and are, I am sure, lovers of justice; I do entreat you to aid me in searching that piece of water, by the side of which the deceased gentleman was heard to cry for help; and, much I fear, he cried in vain."

The persons thus appealed to entered into the matter with all the ardor of just men, whose curiosity as well as justice is inflamed.

A set of old, rusty drags was found on the premises; and men went punting up and down the mere, and dragged it.

Rude hooks were made by the village blacksmith, and fitted to cart-ropes; another boat was brought to Hernshaw in a wagon; and all that afternoon the bottom of the mere was raked, and some curious things fished up. But no dead man.

The next day a score of amateur dragsmen were out; some throwing their drags from the bridge; some circulating in boats, and even in large tubs.

And, meantime, Mr. Atkins and his crew went steadily up and down, dragging every foot of those placid waters.

They worked till dinner-time, and brought up a good copper pot with two handles, a horse's head, and several decayed trunks of trees, which had become saturated, and sunk to the bottom.

At about three in the afternoon, two boys, who, for want of a boat, were dragging from the bridge, found something heavy but elastic at the end of their drag: they pulled up eagerly, and a thing like a huge turnip, half gnawed, came up, with a great bob, and blasted their sight.

They let go, drags and all, and stood shrieking, and shrieking.

Those who were nearest them called out, and asked what was the matter; but the boys did not reply, and their faces showed so white, that a woman, who saw them, hailed Mr. Atkins, and said she was sure those boys had seen something out of the common.

Mr. Atkins came up, and found the boys blubbering. He encouraged them, and they told him a fearful thing had come up; it was like a man's head and shoulders all scooped out and gnawed by the fishes, and had torn the drags out of their hands.

Mr. Atkins made them tell him the exact place; and he was soon upon it with his boat.

The water here was very deep; and though the boys kept pointing to the very spot, the drags found nothing for some time.

But at last they showed, by their resistance, that they had clawed hold of something.

"Draw slowly," said Mr. Atkins: "and, if it is, be men, and hold fast."

The men drew slowly, slowly, and presently there rose to the surface a Thing to strike terror and loathing into the stoutest heart.

The mutilated remains of a human face and body.

The greedy pike had cleared, not the features only, but the entire flesh off the face; but had left the hair, and the tight skin of the forehead, though their teeth had raked this last. The remnants they had left made what they had mutilated doubly horrible; since now it was not a skull, not a skeleton; but a face and a man gnawed down to the bones and hair and feet. These last were in stout shoes, that resisted even those voracious teeth; and a leathern stock had offered some little protection to the throat.

The men groaned, and hid their faces with one hand, and pulled softly to the shore with the other; and then, with half-averted faces, they drew the ghastly remains and fluttering rags gently and reverently to land.

Mr. Atkins yielded to nature, and was violently sick at the sight he had searched for so eagerly.

As soon as he recovered his powers, he bade the constables guard the body (it was a body, in law), and see that no one laid so much as a finger on it until[Pg 224] some magistrate had taken a deposition. He also sent a messenger to Mr. Houseman, telling him the corpus delicti was found. He did this, partly to show that gentleman he was right in his judgment, and partly out of common humanity; since, after this discovery, Mr. Houseman's client was sure to be tried for her life.

A magistrate soon came, and viewed the remains, and took careful notes of the state in which they were found.

Houseman came, and was much affected both by the sight of his dead friend, so mutilated, and by the probable consequences to Mrs. Gaunt. However, as lawyers fight very hard, he recovered himself enough to remark that there were no marks of violence before death, and insisted on this being inserted in the magistrate's notes.

An inquest was ordered next day, and, meantime, Mrs. Gaunt was told she could not quit the upper apartments of her own house. Two constables were placed on the ground-floor night and day.

Next day the remains were removed to the little inn where Griffith had spent so many jovial hours; laid on a table, and covered with a white sheet.

The coroner's jury sat in the same room, and the evidence I have already noticed was gone into, and the finding of the body deposed to. The jury, without hesitation, returned a verdict of wilful murder.

Mrs. Gaunt was then brought in. She came, white as a ghost, leaning upon Houseman's shoulder.

Upon her entering, a juryman, by a humane impulse, drew the sheet over the remains again.

The coroner, according to the custom of the day, put a question to Mrs. Gaunt, with the view of eliciting her guilt. If I remember right, he asked her how she came to be out of doors so late on the night of the murder. Mrs. Gaunt, however, was in no condition to answer queries. I doubt if she even heard this one. Her lovely eyes, dilated with horror, were fixed on that terrible sheet, with a stony glance. "Show me," she gasped, "and let me die too."

The jurymen looked, with doubtful faces, at the coroner. He bowed a grave assent.

The nearest juryman withdrew the sheet. The belief was not yet extinct that the dead body shows some signs of its murderer's approach. So every eye glanced on her and on It by turns; as she, with dilated, horror-stricken eyes, looked on that awful Thing.



The Court of Chancery.—Feeling a desire to see for myself the highest embodiment of English law where it lurked—a huge and bloated personification of all that was monstrous and discouraging to suitors—in the secret place of thunder, just behind the altar of sacrifice, forever spinning the web that for hundreds of years hath enmeshed and overspread the mightiest empire upon earth with entanglement, perplexity, and procrastination, till estates have disappeared and families have died out, sometimes, while waiting for a decision,—I dropped into the Court of Chancery.

The first thing I saw was the Lord Chancellor himself,—Lord Eldon,—the mildest, wisest, slowest, and most benignant of men,—milder than Byron's Ali Pacha, wiser than Lord Bacon himself; and, if not altogether worthy[Pg 225] of being called "the greatest, wisest, meanest of mankind," like his prototype, yet great enough as a lawyer to set people wondering what he would say next. He was quite capable of arguing a question on both sides, and then of deciding against himself; and so patient, withal, that he had just then finished a sitting of three whole days to Sir Thomas Lawrence, for a portrait of his hand,—a beautiful hand, it must be acknowledged, though undecided and womanish, as if he had never quite made up his mind whether to keep it open or shut.

And the next thing I took notice of, after a hurried glance at the carved ceiling and painted windows, and over the array of bewigged and powdered solicitors and masters,—a magnificent bed of cauliflowers, in appearance, with some of the finest heads I ever saw in my life—out of a cabbage-garden,—was a large, dark, heavy picture of Paul before Felix, by Hogarth, representing these great personages at the moment when Felix, that earliest of Lord Chancellors, having heard Paul through, says: "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." Lord Eldon was larger than I supposed from the portrait above mentioned. And this is the more extraordinary, because the heads of Lawrence, like those of ancient statuary, are always smaller than life, to give them an aristocratic, high-bred air, and the bodies are larger. The expression of countenance, too, was benignity itself,—just such as Titian would have been delighted with,—calm, clear, passionless, without a prevailing characteristic of any strength. "Felix trembled," they say. Whatever Felix may have done, I do not believe that Lord Eldon would have trembled till he had put on his night-cap and weighed the whole question by himself at his chambers.

Kean.—Wishing to see how this grotesque but wonderful actor—a mountebank sometimes and sometimes a living truth—would play at home after driving us all mad in America, I went to see him in Sir Giles Overreach. He played with more spirit, more of settled purpose, than with us, being more in earnest, I think, and better supported. There is one absurdity in the play, which was made particularly offensive by Oxberry's exaggeration. The dinner is kept waiting, and the whole business of the play suspended, for the Justice to make speeches. But the last scene was capital,—prodigious,—full of that dark, dismal, despairing energy you would look for in a dethroned spirit, baffled, like Mephistopheles, at the very moment his arm is outstretched, and his long, lean fingers are clutching at the shoulder of his victim. Being about to cross blades with his adversary, in a paroxysm of rage he plucks at the hilt of his sword, and stops suddenly, as if struck with paralysis, pale, and gasping for breath, and says,—in that far-off, moaning voice we all remember in his famous farewell to the "big wars that make ambition virtue,"—"The widow sits upon my arm, and the wronged orphan's tear glues it to the scabbard,—it will not be drawn," etc., etc.,—or something of the sort. It was not so much a thrilling as a curdling you felt.

Young, in Sir Pertinax.—Very good, though full of stage trick, or what they call, when they get bothered, or would like to bother you, stage business;—as where he throws his pocket-handkerchief before him on leaving the stage, somewhat after the style of Macready in Hamlet, which Forrest called le pas à mouchoir, and took the liberty of hissing. Good Scotch, generally, with a few wretched blunders, though his "booin', and booin', and booin'," and his vehement snuff-taking, and the declaration that "he could never stand oopright in the presence of a great mon in a' his life," were evidently copied from, or suggested by, George Frederick Cooke, who borrowed both from Macklin, if we may trust surviving contemporaries.

Robert Owen.—Breakfasted with Robert[Pg 226] Owen, after having attended a conference of the brotherhood, where they talked a world of nonsense, and argued for a whole hour, without coming to a conclusion, about whether we are governed by circumstances or circumstances are governed by us. You would swear Owen was a Yankee, born and bred. He has the shrewd, inquisitive look, the spare frame, the sharp features, of a Connecticut farmer, and constantly reminds me of Henry Clay when he moves about. He is evidently sincere; but such a visionary! and so thoroughly satisfied that the world is coming to an end just as he would have it, that he allows no misgivings to trouble him, and never loses his temper, nor "bates one jot of heart or hope," happen what may. The last time we met—only three days ago—his great project was coming up before Parliament, and he told me, in confidence, that he was sure of a favorable result,—that he had counted noses, and had the most comfortable assurances from all the great leaders of the day,—and in short, between ourselves, that grass would be growing on the London Exchange within two years. The petition came up on the day appointed, and was allowed to drop out of the tail end of the cart, almost without a remark. But so far was he from being disheartened, that he lost no time in preparing for a trip across the Atlantic, which he had long had in contemplation, but was hindered from taking by the hopes he had been persuaded to entertain from his friends in Parliament, and by the business at Lanark,—a manufacturing place which he had built up of himself in Scotland, with eminent success, and most undoubted practical wisdom.

Wishing to leave a record with me for future ages, he wrote as follows in my album, with a cheerfulness, an imperturbability, a serene self-confidence, past all my conceptions of a visionary or enthusiast.

"I leave this country with a deep impression that my visit to America will be productive of permanent benefit to the Indian tribes, to the negro race, and to the whole population of the Western Continent, North and South, and to Europe.

"Robert Owen.
"London, 4th September, 1824."

What a magnificent scheme! How comprehensive and how vast! But nothing came of it, beyond the translation of his son, Robert Dale Owen, to this country,—a very clever, well-educated, and earnest, though rather awkward and sluggish young man, who has achieved a large reputation here, and will be yet more distinguished if he lives, being well grounded and rooted in the foundation principles of government, and both conscientious and fearless.

Old Bailey.—This and other like places, of which we have all read so much that we feel acquainted with them, not as pictures or descriptions, at second hand, but as decided and positive realities, I lost no time in seeing.

I found the court-room small, much smaller than the average with us, badly arranged, and worse lighted. A prisoner was up for burglary. He was a sullen, turbulent-looking fellow; and his counsel, an Old Bailey lawyer, was inquiring, with a pertinacity that astonished while it amused me, about the dirt in a comb. His object was to ascertain "whether it had been used or not"; and, as there were two sides to it, which side had become dirty from being carried in the pocket, and which from legitimate use. Before the prisoner was a toilet-glass, in which he could not help seeing his own pale, haggard, frightened face whenever he looked up,—a refinement of barbarism I was not prepared for in a British court of justice. I occupied a seat in the gallery, surrounded by professional pickpockets, burglars, and highwaymen, I dare say; for they talked freely of the poor fellow's chances, and like experts.

Joanna Baillie.—"Here," said Lady Bentham, wife of General Sir Samuel[Pg 227] Bentham, the originator of that Panopticon, which was the germ of all our prison discipline as well as of all penitentiary improvements, the world over,—"Here is an autograph you will think worth having, I am sure, after what I have heard you say of the writer, and of her tragedies, and I want you to see her";—handing me, as she spoke, the following brief note, written upon a bit of coarse paper about six inches by four.

"If you are perfectly disengaged this evening, Agnes and I will have the pleasure of taking tea with you, if you give us leave.

"J. Baillie."

Now, if there was a woman in the world I wanted to see, or one that I most heartily reverenced, it was Joanna Baillie. Her "De Montfort" I had always looked upon as one of the greatest tragedies ever written,—equal to anything of Shakespeare's for strength of delineation, simplicity, and effect, however inferior it might be in the superfluities of genius, in the overcharging of character and passion, of which we find so much in Shakespeare; and, on the whole, not unlike that wonderful Danish drama, "Dyveke," or a part of "Wallenstein."

My great desire was now to be satisfied. We met, and I passed one of the pleasantest evenings of my life with Mrs. Baillie, as they called her, Lady Bentham, her most intimate if not her oldest friend, and "sister Agnes."

I found Mrs. Baillie wholly unlike the misrepresentations I had seen of her. She was rather small,—though far from being diminutive, like her sister Agnes,—with a charming countenance, full of placid serenity, almost Quakerish, beautiful eyes, and gray hair, nearly white indeed, combed smoothly away from her forehead. We talked freely together, avoiding the shop, and the impression she left on my mind was that of a modest, unpretending gentlewoman, full of quiet strength and shrewd pleasantry, with a Scottish flavor, but altogether above being brilliant or showy, even in conversation with a stranger and an author. She questioned me closely about my country and about the people, and appeared to take much interest in our doings and prospects. Her sister Agnes never opened her mouth, to the best of my recollection and belief, though she listened with her eyes and ears to the conversation, and appeared to enjoy it exceedingly; and as for Lady Bentham, though a clever woman of large experience and great resources, such was her self-denial and her generous admiration of the "queenly stranger," as I had called her friend in sport,—remembering how it was applied to the magnificent Siddons, when she represented Jane de Montfort,—that she did nothing more and said nothing more than what was calculated to bring out her friend to advantage. There was nothing said, however, from which a person unacquainted with the writings of Joanna Baillie would have inferred her true character,—no flashing lights, no surprises, no thunder-bursts. The conversation was, at the best, but sociable and free, as if we were all of the same neighborhood or household; but knowing her by her great work on the Passions, I was profoundly impressed, nevertheless, and left her well satisfied with her revelations of character.

Catalani.—What a magnificent creature! How majestic and easy and graceful! And then what a voice! One would swear she had a nest of nightingales and a trumpet obligato in her throat. No wonder she sets the great glass chandeliers of the Argyle rooms ringing and rattling when she charges in a bravura.

That she is, in some passages, a little—not vulgar—but almost vulgar, with a dash of the contadina, is undeniable; and she certainly has not a delicate ear, and often sings false; yet, when that tempestuous warbling in her throat breaks forth, and the flush of her heart's blood hurries over her face and empurples her neck, why then "bow the high banners, roll the answering drums," and shut up, if you wouldn't be torn to pieces by a London mob.[Pg 228]

Say what you will, you must acknowledge—you must—that you never heard such a voice before, if there ever was one like it on earth,—so full and so impassioned, so rich and sympathetic. More educated, more brilliant organs there may be, like those of Pasta or Velluti, poor fellow!—more satisfying to the ear,—but none, I believe, so satisfying to the heart; none that so surely lifts you off your feet, and blinds and deafens you to all defects, and sets you wandering far away through the empyrean of musical sounds, till you are lost in a labyrinth of triumphant harmonies. The sad, mournful intonations of Velluti may bring tears into your eyes, but you are never transported beyond yourself by his piteous wailing.

And yet, if you will believe me, this woman has just been called out of bed to a London audience, who, instead of paying a guinea or half a guinea to hear her in opera, are paying only 2s. 6d. a head to hear her let off "God shave the King!" like a roll of musical thunder. She appears "in dish-abille" as they call it here, and in tears. And why is she summoned? Because the sufferin' people, having understood that she shares the house, insist on having their half-crowns and sixpences returned. It has been quite impossible to hear a word, ever since they were informed that she had been taken suddenly ill, and was not allowed to appear by her medical attendants. But what of that? Dead or alive, a British audience must have her out. And so a great banner was lifted on which was inscribed "Catalani sent for!" and then, after a while, as the uproar continued, and the outcries grew more violent, and the white handkerchiefs more and more stormy and threatening, another inscription appeared, "Catalani coming!" And lo! she comes! and comes weeping. But the people refuse to be comforted. And why? Because of their disappointment? Because of their passion for music? No indeed; but because they are told that she is to go snacks with the manager; and, her parsimony being proverbial, they are determined to rebuke it in a liberal spirit. Pshaw!

These people pretend to love music, and to love it with such a devouring passion that nothing less than the very best will satisfy them, cost what it may. Yet the opera-house, with the patronage of the royal family, the nobility, and the gentry, and open only twice a week, is never full even at the representation of the finest works of genius; and when such an artist as Catalani is engaged at one of the theatres, and the people are admitted for theatre prices, the first thing they do, after crowding the house to suffocation, is to call for "God save the King," or, if Braham is out, for "Kelvin Grove." Enthusiasts indeed,—carried away, and justly, by "Black-eyed Susan," or "Cherry Ripe," which they do understand, feel, and enjoy,—they are all ready to swear, and expect you to believe, that their passion is for opera music,—Italian or German, the Barber of Seville, or Der Freischütz. And therefore I say again, Pshaw!

John Dunn Hunter.—This luckiest and boldest of humbugs, whose book, by the merest accident, has obtained for him the favor of the Duke of Sussex, and, through the Duke, access to the highest nobility, has just been presented at Court, and is not a little mortified that his Majesty, on receiving a copy of the book, Hunter's "Captivity among the Indians," did not inquire after his health or make him a speech. He does not so much mind paying five guineas for the loan of a court suit, consisting of a single-breasted claret coat with steel buttons, a powdered tie, small-clothes, white-silk stockings, and a dress sword,—with instructions on which side it is to be worn, and how it is to be managed in backing out so as not to get between his legs and trip him up,—nor the having to pay for being mentioned in the Court Journal by a fellow who is called the King's Reporter; but then he will have the worth of his money, and so takes it out in grumbling and sulking. Not long ago[Pg 229] he sent a note through the penny-post, sealed with a wafer, directed to the Marchioness of Conyngham, the king's mistress, in reply to an invitation from her ladyship, which he accepted, to meet the king! At least, such was the interpretation he put upon it. And now, after all this, to be fobbed off with a bow by "Gentleman George," the "fat friend" of poor Brummell, was indeed a little too bad.

Nothing he can say or do, however, will undeceive these people. Though he cannot shout decently, cannot bear fatigue or pain, is so far from being swift of foot that he is not even a good walker, talks little or no Indian, and is continually outraging all the customs of society after getting well acquainted with them, and doing all this by calculation, as in the case of the note referred to above, they persist in believing his story. I shall have to expose him.—P. S. I have exposed him.

While speaking just now of his acquaintance with the Duke of Sussex, who was very kind to him, and a believer to the last, I said that it was obtained for him by accident. It was in this way. At the house where he lodged a Mr. Norgate of Norfolk—not far from Holkham, the seat of Mr. Coke afterward Earl of Leicester—was also a lodger. Mr. Norgate invited Hunter down to his father's, and they went over to Holkham together. And there they met the Duke of Sussex, a great friend of Mr. Coke, both being Liberals and Oppositionists. His Royal Highness took a great fancy to Hunter, got him to sit to Chester Harding for his picture, gave him a gold watch and lots of agricultural tools to subdue the Indians with, and stuck to him through thick and thin, till I found it necessary to tear off the fellow's mask.

On separating from me, before I had got possession of the facts which soon after appeared in the "London Magazine," he wrote in my album the following sententious and pithy apothegm, which, of course, only went to show the marvellous power of adaptation to circumstances which would naturally characterize the man, if his story were true. It was in this way his dupes reasoned. If he sealed a letter with a wafer, and sent it through the penny-post to a woman of rank, that proved his neglected education or a natural disregard of polite usage, and of course that he had been carried off in childhood by the Indians, and knew not where to look for father or mother, sister or brother,—while, on the contrary, if he used wax, and set the seal upon it which had been given to him by the Duke of Sussex, that showed, of course, the sagacity and readiness of adaptation which ought to characterize the hero of Hunter's narrative. In short, he was another Princess Caraboo, or young Chatterton, or Cagliostro, or Count Eliorich, all of whom were made great impostors by the help of others, the over-credulous and the over-confident in themselves.

"He who would do great actions," writes our enormous bug-a-boo, "must learn to empoly his powers to the least possible loss. The possession of brilliant and extraordinary talents" (this was probably meant for me, as he had been trying to prevail upon my "brilliant and extraordinary talents" to return to America with him, and go among the savages about the neighborhood of the Rocky Mountains, and there establish a confederacy of our own) "is not always the most valuable to its possessor. Moderate talents, properly directed, will enable one to do a great deal; and the most distinguished gifts of nature may be thrown away by an unskilful application of them.

"J. D. Hunter.
"London, 15th May, 1824."

Kean at a Public Dinner.—A terrible outcry just now, in consequence of certain exposures and a published correspondence. At a public dinner, he says he is going to America. The Duke of York, who presides, cries out, "No, no!" Shouts follow and the rattling of glasses, and men leap on the chairs and almost on the tables, repeating the Duke's "No, no!" till at last[Pg 230] Kean promises to make an apology from the stage,—a perilous experiment, he will find, after which he cannot stay here. The object of Price, who has engaged him, is to kill off Cooper. The best actors now get fifty guineas a week, or twenty-five pounds a night for so many nights, play or pay, with a benefit.

Architecture.—I have seen no greater barbarisms anywhere than I find here. The screen of Carleton House,—a long row of double columns, with a heavy entablature supporting the arms of Great Britain,—"that and nothing more"; the doings of Inigo Jones in his water-gates and arches, with two or three orders intermixed; and the late achievements of Mr. Nash along Regent Street,—with the church spire, which has the attractiveness and symmetry of an exaggerated marlin-spike, for a vanishing point,—are of themselves enough to show that the people here have no taste, and no feeling for this department of the Fine Arts, however much they may brag and bluster.

But I have just returned from a visit to one of Sir Christopher Wren's masterpieces, which has greatly disturbed my equanimity, and obliges me to modify my opinion. It is a church back of the Mansion House; and is the original of Godefroy's Unitarian church at Baltimore, beyond all question: the dome rests on arches, and springs into the air, as if buoyed up and aspiring of itself. Bad for the music, however. Here I find West's picture of the Martyrdom of St. Stephen, with a figure which he has repeated in "Christ Healing the Sick," and a woman,—or young man, you do not feel certain which,—weeping upon the hand of the martyr, precisely as in a painting in Baltimore Cathedral by Renou, who must have borrowed or stolen it from West, if West did not borrow or steal it from him.

Drawings.—I have just returned from visiting a collection of drawings by the old masters,—Raphael, Michael Angelo, Rembrandt, Titian, &c., &c. Wonderful, to be sure! There is a pen-and-ink drawing by Munro, of uncommon merit; another from a capital old engraving by Tiffen, hardly to be distinguished from an elaborate line engraving, full of good faces and straight lines, with nothing picturesque. A moonlight and cottage by Gainsborough, very fine. Jackson's and Robinson's miniatures, and sketches in water-colors,—charming. Leslie's designs, with Stothard's on the same subject, are delightfully contrasted: Leslie's, neatly finished and full of individuality; Stothard's, a beautiful, free generalization, without finish. (But the engraver understands him, and finishes for him, adding the hands and feet in his own way.) It is a representation of Jeanie Deans's interview with the Queen. Leslie's figure is standing; Stothard's, kneeling: yet both are expressive and helpful to our conceptions. Here, too, I saw Rembrandt's celebrated "Battle of Death," with a skeleton blowing a horn, and helmeted and plumed, and having a thigh-bone for a battle-axe,—shadows on the shoulders of horsemen, and skeleton feet;—on the whole, a monstrous nightmare, such as you might expect from Fuseli after a supper on raw beef, but never from such a painter as Rembrandt.

Phrenology.—There must be something in this new science,—for they persist in calling it a science,—though I cannot say how much. Just returned from a visit to De Ville, in the Strand, in company with Chester Harding, Robert M. Sully, the painter, and Humphries, the engraver,—each differing from the others in character and purpose; yet, after manipulating our crania, this man says of each what all the rest acknowledge to be true, and what, said of any but the particular person described, would be preposterous. Why are the busts of Socrates and Solon what they should be, according to this theory of Gall and Spurzheim? Were they modelled from life, or from characters[Pg 231] resembling them? Compared the head of a Greek boy with that of a young Hottentot. One was largely developed in the intellectual region, the other in the animal region, and the latter cries whenever his home or his mother is mentioned. Both are at school here. Thurtell's head is a great confirmation, which anybody can judge of. I must find time for a thorough investigation.

P. S.—I have kept my promise, and am thoroughly satisfied. Phrenology deserves to be called a science, and one of the greatest and best of sciences, notwithstanding all the quackery and self-delusion that I find among the professors. I have now studied it and experimented upon it for more than thirty years, and have no longer any misgivings upon the subject, so far as the great leading principles are involved.

Manners.—If we do not record our first impressions they soon disappear; and the greatest novelties are overlooked or forgotten. Already I begin to see women with heavily-laden wheel-barrows, without surprise. I have now learned, I hope, that a postman's rap is one, two, and no more; a servant's, one; while a footman gives from four to twenty, as hard as he can bang, so as to startle the whole neighborhood and make everybody run to the windows. Eating fish with a knife said to be fatal. Great personages give you a finger to shake. I did not know this when I took the forefinger of a cast-off mistress, the original of Washington Irving's Lady Sillicraft, a painted and withered old vixen, who meant to signify her liking for me, as I had reason to believe. Moles are reckoned such a positive beauty here that my attention has been called to them, as to fine eyes or a queenly bearing. A fine woman here means a large woman, tall, dignified, and showy, like a fine horse or a fine bullock.

Never shall I forget the looks and tones of a bashful friend, in describing his embarrassment. He was at Holkham, the seat of Mr. Coke, our Revolutionary champion, who, being in Parliament at the time, moved, session after session, the acknowledgment of our independence,—am I right here?—and actually gave the health of George Washington at a large dinner-party while the Revolutionary fires were raging. There was a large company at dinner, but for his life my friend did not know what to do with the ladies nor with his hands. Goes through room after room to get his dinner; is called upon to serve a dish he has never seen before, and knows not how to manage. Asked to take wine, and wants to ask somebody else, but cannot recall the name of a single person within reach, and whispers to the servant for relief, while his eye travels up and down both sides of the long table; is reminded of the guest who said to himself, loud enough to be overheard by the waiter behind his chair, "I wish I had some bread," to which the waiter replied without moving, "I wish you had." Durst not offer his arm to a lady, lest he should violate some of the multitudinous every-day usages of society, and so, instead of enjoying his dinner, just nibbled and choked and watched how others ate of the dishes he had never seen before. Yet this man was no fool, he was not even a blockhead; but he was frightened out of all propriety nevertheless. Poor fellow! Soon after this he went to Paris, and, having picked up a few French sentences, undertook to pass off one upon a servant who took his cloak as he entered the hotel of a French celebrity in a violent rainstorm. He flung the phrase off with an air, saying, "Mauvais temps," whereupon the word was passed up from mouth to mouth, and, to his unutterable horror, he was introduced to the company as M. Mauvais Temps.

Painting.—I have just been to see Mulready's famous "Lion and Lamb." He is a Royal Academician; and, spite of the cleverness we see in every touch, we are reminded of Pison's reply to the Academician, who asked what he[Pg 232] was,—"I? O, I am nobody; not even an Academician." The picture is about eighteen by twenty-two inches, and belongs to his Majesty, George the Fourth. It represents two boys, a little child, a woman, and a dog. One boy has broken the strap of his trousers, and, bracing himself up for a clinch, is evidently encroaching on the other with his foot. He stands with his legs on the straddle, both fists made up for mischief, and head turned away in profile, with hat and books flung down upon the turf; while the other—the lamb—keeps his satchel in his hand, with one arm raised to parry the blow he is expecting. He has a meek, boyish face, and we have it in full. The back of the child is towards you, the mother terribly frightened; parts very fine, but as a whole the picture is not worthy of its reputation, to say nothing of the extravagant price paid for it,—some hundreds of guineas, they say.

Greenwich Fair.—Having read so much in story-books and novels, from my earliest childhood,—at one time in the gilt-covered publication of E. Newbury, St. Paul's Church Yard, and after that in larger books,—of the rioting at Greenwich Fair (another Donnybrook in its way), I determined to see for myself, and went down for the purpose, April 19th, 1824. Universal decorum characterized the whole proceedings till the day was over, after which there was a large amount of dancing and frolicking and sight-seeing and beer-drinking, but no drunkenness and no quarrelling. The people were saucy, but good-natured, like the Italian rabble, with their plaster confectionery, at a carnival. Women and girls would run down the long green slope together, which it is said the cockneys believe to be the highest land in the world, after Richmond Hill; and many of them stumble and slip and roll to the bottom, screaming and laughing as they go. This I understand to be a favorite pastime with people who are big enough to know better; for a part of the fun, and that which all seem to enjoy most, is in tripping one another up. Plenty of giants and dwarfs to be seen for a penny, with white Circassians, silver-haired, and actors of all sorts and sizes. "Walk in, ladies and gentlemen! walk in! Here's the rope-dancing and juggling, with lots of gilt gingerbread,—and all for sixpence! Here is the great Numidian lion!"—leading forth a creature not larger than a moderate-sized English mastiff,—"with a throat like a turnpike gate, and teeth like mile-stones, and every hair on his mane as big as a broomstick!" It was worth sixpence to see the fellow's face when he said this; but most of the people round me seemed to believe what they heard rather than what they saw. Actors and actresses turn out and dance and strut before the curtain.

Went into the Hospital, of which we have all heard so much, and into the Chapel. Here is the best picture West ever painted, I think. It is the shipwreck of St. Paul, with the viper and the fire: rocks rather crowded and confused; on the right are two figures, frequently, I had almost said always, to be found in his pictures, and always together. Old man on the right, capital!—Roof of the Hospital highly ornamented, though chaste, with painted pilasters, fluted; ceiling done by Sir James Thornhill, and is really a grand affair, not only for coloring and drawing, but for composition and general treatment. Architecture of the building, once a palace, worthy of the highest commendation, though it needs a back part to correspond with the two wings. Cupolas made to correspond, but seem rather out of place,—not wanted.

Had quite an adventure before I got away. I saw a young girl running down hill by herself. She fell, and stained her white frock all over one hip of a grass-green. She seemed to be much hurt and near fainting. I found her young, pretty, and modest, as you may readily infer from what follows,—usually if you hear of a woman being run over in the street, you may be sure[Pg 233] she is neither young nor pretty,—and so seeing her greatly distressed about the figure she cut, and companionless, I took pity on her, and going with her found, after some search, an old woman in a garret with a husband, child, and grandchild, all huddled and starving in one room together. The husband was a waterman. He had "stove" his boat some years before, and was never able to get another; had two sons at sea; paid two shillings a week for the room, which they said was one shilling too dear, being only large enough to allow of two or three chairs, a table, and a turn-up bed. Poor Sarah took off her frock and washed it before me, without a sign of distress or embarrassment; and then we went off together and had a bit of a dance,—a rough-and-tumble fore-and-after,—at the nearest booth. With her bonnet off, and neat cap, her beautiful complexion and dark hair and eyes, how happened it that she was really modest and well-behaved? And how came she there? After some resolute questioning, I determined to see her home, at least so far as to set her down in safety in the neighborhood where she lived. The coach was crowded with strangers. It was late, and they were silent, and I thought sulky. Just as we were passing a lamp, after we had entered a wide thoroughfare, I saw a man's face under a woman's bonnet. Though not absolutely frightened, I was rather startled, and more and more unwilling to leave the poor girl to the mercy of strangers; for I saw, or thought I saw, signs of intelligence between two of the party; and in short, I never left her till the danger was over.

There were mountebanks and fortune-tellers and gypsies at every turn. The prettiest I met with told my fortune. "You are liked better by the women," said she, "than by the men." Very true. "You are loved by a widow named Mary." My landlady was a widow, and her name was Mary. "Which do you like best, Mary or Bessie?" In addition to Mary, there was another pleasant friend, supposed to be a natural daughter of George IV., named Bessie. But how the plague did the little gypsy know this? I found out, I believe, long after the whole affair was forgotten. There was present, without my knowledge, a man who was always full of such tricks, who knew me well, and who threw the gypsy in my way and put her up to all she knew. This was Humphries the engraver.

There was a great ball too,—a magnificent ball,—one shilling entrance. More than fifty couples stood up for a contra-dance, and tore down the middle and up outside, and cast off, as if they were all just out of a lunatic hospital. And yet, as I have said before, I believe, there was no drunkenness and no quarrelling.

Shooting the Bridge.—Wanting to go to the Tower, I took a boat above London Bridge at the wrong time of the tide, in spite of all remonstrances, and came near being swamped. Not being a good swimmer, and aware that people were often drowned there, I cannot understand what possessed me; but as the watermen were not afraid, and asked no questions, why should I be troubled? For aught they knew, I might be made of cork, or have a swimming-jacket underneath my coat, or a pocket life-preserver ready to be blown up at a moment's notice; and they were sure of the fee. At the mouth of the St. John's River, New Brunswick, they have a fall both ways, at a certain time of tide, through which and up and down which boats and rafts plunge headlong so as to take away your breath, while you are watching them from the bridge; but really, this little pitch of not more than three or four feet under London Bridge I should think more dangerous, and the people seem to think so too, for they are always on the watch after the tide turns, and swarm along the parapets, and rush from one side to the other, as the wherry shoots through the main arch, with a feeling akin to that of the man who followed Van Amburgh month after month to see him "chawed up" by the lion or tiger.[Pg 234]

Major Cartwright.—Another fast friend of our country and the institutions of our country, and always ready to take up the quarter-staff in our defence. A great reformer, and honest as the day is long. Wrote much in favor of American independence in 1774, and, with Sir Francis Burdett and others, who chose to meddle with the British Constitution wherever they found a fragment large enough to talk about, has been visited by the government, and tried and imprisoned. His book on the British Constitution is, though somewhat visionary, both original and ingenious. He is six feet high, with a very broad chest; wears a fur cap and blue cotton-velvet dressing-gown in the sultriest weather; is a great admirer of Jeremy Bentham, Mrs. Wheeler, and Fanny Wright, by the way.

Woolwich.—After spending a day here under special advantages, I have succeeded in seeing whatever was worth seeing for my purpose, and in getting a fine sketch of a Woolwich Pensioner by Sully,—Robert M. Sully, nephew of Thomas Sully, and a capital draughtsman,—to serve as a companion piece for the Greenwich Pensioner by the same artist. The man had served against us in the Revolutionary War, and participated in the "affair" of Bunker Hill. The shovel hats, the long chins and retreating mouths of these aged men at Greenwich, are wonderfully hit off by Cruikshank, with a mere flourish of the pen. I have a scene in a watch-house, with half a score of heads, thoroughly Irish, drunk or sleepy, and as many more of these shovel hats, which the clever artist amused himself with scratching off,—as we sat talking together at a table,—on a little bit of waste paper, which fluttered away in the draft from a window, and fell upon the floor.

Saw a prodigious quantity of guns to be "let loose" in the dock-yard, to which I was admitted as a great privilege. When Alexander of Russia and the king of Prussia were admitted after the war, they were greatly disappointed and mortified, I was told, at seeing such a vast accumulation of warlike material. They supposed England to be exhausted.

The English artillery is far superior in details to the French, though not half so abundant. Where the French bring eighty pieces at once into the field, the English never have more than twenty pieces. The English lost only two guns in the whole Peninsular war; the French lost nearly eleven hundred, Waterloo included.

At Woolwich there are two or three hundred acres full of machinery, with saw-mills, planing-mills, &c. Saw, among other inventions and improvements, anchor shanks made largest about one third of the distance from the crown, where they always bend or break; an original screw-cutter of uncommon merit; and a perpetual capstan for drawing in wood for the mill.

Illuminations.—His Majesty's birthday. By one odd arrangement of colored lamps, which was intended for George IV., it reads thus, Giver, being G. IV. R. The populace break windows which are not lighted up. The king's tradesmen are most astonishing in their manifestations of loyalty; and, among others, I see an establishment with this inscription: "Bug Destroyer to his Majesty."

Chimney-Sweeps.—May 1. The little monsters appear in cocked hats and gilt paper, with their faces painted, and with dancing and music, and a very pretty girl pirouetting in a hogshead of cut paper, with large boys about her, like trees dancing. Of course, we are constantly reminded of Edward Wortley Montagu, and of his delightful experience with the chimney-sweeps.

John Randolph.—This madman is full of his vagaries here; says the most offensive things, but in such a high-bred, supercilious, if not gentlemanly way, that people cannot make up their minds about him, nor whether to cut him dead or acknowledge him for a genius[Pg 235] and a humorist. Sir Robert Inglis says, publicly, that Mr. Randolph "on these boards" claimed for Virginia the first attempt at abolition. "And I am disposed to believe the gentleman correct," adds Sir Robert, "because of his opportunities for knowledge." Whatever related to the United States was received better than anything else in the proceedings of to-day at the Freemasons' Tavern. Very comfortable and gratifying.

Marquis of Stafford's Gallery.—Here I find about three hundred fine pictures, most of them by the old masters, and a large part worthy of enthusiastic admiration. Thirty-eight in the National Gallery cost sixty thousand pounds. What, then, are these worth as a collection?

Cary, the Translator of Dante.—Met him at Mr. Griffith's,—Sylvanus Urban's,—another great friend of our country, who insisted on my occupying the seat which Dr. Franklin used to sit in, and after him Lord Byron. Mr. Cary has a good, sensible face, is about five feet seven in height, and forty-six years old, very moderate of speech, and talks with a low voice. Among the guests were Captain Brace, who was with Lord Exmouth when he put through the Dey of Algiers after the fashion of our Preble. He seemed about sixty, with gray hair, and a youthful countenance.

Horticultural Exhibition.—Great show and surprising. No sales made. Pears better than ours; peaches nearly as good, and sell from a shilling to one and sixpence apiece. They resemble not our New Jersey or Maryland peaches, but such as grow about Boston. Grapes fine, nectarines capital; gooseberries, plums, mulberries, currants, all better than ours; apples wretched, "not fit to give the pigs," liked all the better for being hard, or ligneous.

I have just understood here, on the best authority, that Mr. Coke, of Norfolk, did move for an abandonment of the war, session after session, and finally gave the casting vote as mover. He did also give Washington's health at his own table once, with a large company of leading men about him, in the hottest part of the struggle. He looks like one of Trumbull's generals or statesmen, of the old Revolutionary type, and not unlike Washington himself, or General Knox.

Duke of Sussex.—Prodigious; even Chester Harding, who is a large man, over six feet, appears under-sized alongside of his Royal Highness. Went to a meeting for the encouragement of the arts. The Duke presided, and, being popular and willing so to continue, he made a speech. "Ladies and gentlemen," said he, "it affords me gratification to see, to recognize, so many persons assembled for the encouragement of what I may say is one of the best institutions of the country. Good deal of business coming up. I shall therefore reserve myself for the conclusion, and now call upon the Secretary to read the proceedings." Effect of the show seems to be very good. Some persons, girls and women, received three prizes.

Theatre.—Munden's farewell. Dosey and Sir Robert Bramble; among the finest pieces of acting I ever saw,—rich, warm, and full of unadulterated strength. Terrible crush at the entrance, the corners being neither stuffed nor rounded. Great screaming and screeching. "Take care o' that corner!" "Mind there!" "Oh! oh! you'll kill me!" "There now, lady's killed!" And it was indeed about as much as a woman's life was worth to venture into such a brutal mob. No consideration for women, as usual. They are pushed, crowded, overthrown sometimes, and sometimes trampled on without remorse or shame, as at the Duke of York's funeral.

Washington Irving.—Met him for the second time, and had more reason than ever for believing that, with all his[Pg 236] daintiness and fastidiousness, he is altogether a man, hearty and generous, and his books, with all their shifting shadows, but a transcript of himself and of his unacknowledged visions and meditations. His pleasantry, too, is delightful; and, as you cannot question his truthfulness, he gains upon you continually, even while you pity his girlish sensitiveness. I do not see any picture of him that satisfies me, or does him justice. Newton cannot paint a portrait, nor indeed can Leslie; and the result is, that what we have foisted off upon us for portraits are only misunderstandings.


Where the Wind River Chain of the Rocky Mountains stretches far away to the east, and the Bitter Root Range far away to the northwest, like giant arms holding in their embrace the fertile valleys whence the myriad springs which form the two great rivers of the continent take their rise,—on the northern border of the United States, and accessible only through leagues of desert,—lie the gold fields of Montana. Four years ago all this region was terra incognita. In 1805, Lewis and Clarke passed through it; but beyond a liberal gift of geographical inaccuracies, they have left only a few venerable half-breeds as relics of their journey. Among the Indians, what they did and said has passed into tradition; and the tribes of which they speak, the Ke-heet-sas, Minnetarees, Hohilpoes, and Tus-he-pahs, are as extinct as the dodo. Later explorers have added little to the scanty stock of information, save interesting descriptions of rich valleys and rough mountain scenery and severe hardships in the winters. For the most part, it was a country unexplored and unknown, and held by the various Indian tribes in the Northwest as a common hunting-ground.

One bright morning in August, 1864, after a brief rest at Salt Lake, we left Brigham's seraglios for this new El Dorado. We had taken the long trip of twelve hundred miles on the overland stage, which Mr. Bowles describes in his admirable book "Across the Continent." But his was the gala-day excursion of Speaker Colfax and his party, so full of studied and constant attention as to lead Governor Bross to tell the good people of Salt Lake, a little extravagantly, that the height of human happiness was to live in one of Holladay's stages. This life loses its rose-color when nine inside passengers, to fortune and to fame unknown, are viewed as so much freight, and transported accordingly.

It is four hundred miles due north from Salt Lake City to Montana. The low canvas-covered Concord hack, in which we travel, is constructed with an eye rather to safety than comfort, and, like a city omnibus, is never full. Still, our passengers look upon even their discomforts as a joke. They are most of them old miners, hard-featured but genial and kindly, and easily distinguished from men reared in the easy life of cities. Mr. Bowles describes them as characterized by a broader grasp and more intense vitality. I could not but notice, particularly, their freedom from all the quarrels and disagreements sometimes known among travellers in the States. The heavy revolver at every man's belt, and the miner's proverbial love of fair play, keep in every one's mind a clear perception of the bounds of meum and tuum.

I must hurry over our four days'[Pg 237] journey and its many objects of interest. All the first day we ride through brisk Mormon villages, prosperous in their waving cornfields and their heavy trade with the mines. At a distance is the Great Salt Lake,—properly an inland sea, like the Caspian and Sea of Aral,—having a large tributary, the Bear River, and no outlet. Crossing Bear River, and the low mountains beyond, we follow down the Portneuf Cañon to Snake River, or Lewis's Fork of the Columbia, along which and its affluents lies the rest of our journey.

Hurrying past the solitary station-houses, and over here and there a little creek, our fourth night brings us to a low hill, which we need to be told is a pass of the Rocky Mountains. We cross this during the night, and morning dawns upon us in a level prairie among the network of brooks which form the extreme sources of the Missouri. Here, more than sixty years ago, Lewis and Clarke followed the river up to the "tiny bright beck," so narrow that "one of the party in a fit of enthusiasm, with a foot on each side, thanked God that he had lived to bestride the Missouri." It is called Horse Prairie, from the circumstance that they here bartered for horses with the Shoshonee Indians. They had often seen the men, mounted on fleet steeds, watching them like timid antelopes at a distance, but never allowing this distance to lessen. No signs or proffered presents could induce a near approach. One lucky day, however, Captain Lewis surprised a chattering bevy of their squaws and made prisoner a belle of the tribe. Finding all effort to escape hopeless, the woman held down her head as if ready for death. There was among them the same effeminate fear of capture and the same heroic fortitude when death seemed inevitable, that Clive and Hastings found in the Bengalee. But the Captain gallantly painted her tawny cheeks with vermilion, and dismissed her loaded with presents. It is hardly necessary to add, that captures of Shoshonee Sabines were not long matters of difficult accomplishment. Very soon all the chiefs followed, with a rather exuberant cordiality towards the party, and with forced smiles the explorers "received the caresses and no small share of the grease and paint of their new friends."

Lewis and Clarke called Horse Prairie by the prettier name of Shoshonee Cove. But the names they gave have passed into as deep oblivion as the forgotten great man, Rush, whose pills they publish to the world as a sovereign specific in bilious fevers. Of all the names on their map only those of the three forks of the Missouri, from President Jefferson and his Secretaries Madison and Gallatin, remain. The unpoetical miner has invented a ruder nomenclature; and on the rivers which they called Wisdom, Philosophy, and Philanthropy, he bestows the barbarous names of Big Hole, Willow Creek, and Stinking Water.

A few hours' ride brings us to Grasshopper Creek, another affluent of the Missouri, and, like them all, a crooked little stream of clear cold water, fringed with alders and willows, and with a firm pebbly bed, along which the water tinkles a merry tune. What a pity that these pure mountain children should develop to such a maturity as the muddy Missouri! Parallel with this little stream, where it winds into a narrow chasm between abrupt mountain walls, winds a crooked street, with a straggling row of log-cabins on either side, and looking from the mountain-tops very much like the vertebræ of a huge serpent. This is Bannack, so called from the Indian tribe whose homes were in the vicinity. These were the bravest, the proudest, and the noblest looking Indians of the mountains till the white man came. Yet seldom has there been a stronger illustration of the inexorable law, that when a superior and inferior race come in contact the lower is annihilated. Every step of the white man's progress has been a step of the red man's decay. And now this tribe, once so warlike, is a nation of spiritless beggars, crouching near the white settlements for protection from[Pg 238] their old foes, over whom in times past they were easy victors.

At Bannack, in the summer of 1862, a party of Colorado miners, lost on their way to Gold Creek in the Deer Lodge Valley, discovered the first rich placer diggings of Montana. A mining town grew up straightway; and ere winter a nondescript crowd of two thousand people—miners from the exhausted gulches of Colorado, desperadoes banished from Idaho, bankrupt speculators from Nevada, guerilla refugees from Missouri, with a very little leaven of good and true men—were gathered in. Few of them speak with pleasant memories of that winter. The mines were not extensive, and they were difficult to work. Scanty supplies were brought in from Denver and Salt Lake, and held at fabulous prices. An organized band of ruffians, styled Road Agents, ruled the town. Street murders were daily committed with impunity, and travellers upon the road were everywhere plundered. Care was not even taken to conceal the bodies of the victims, which were left as food for the wolves by the roadside.

Next year, the discovery of richer mines at Virginia left Bannack a deserted village of hardly two hundred people. It is a dull town for the visitor; but the inhabitants have all Micawber's enthusiastic trust in the future, and live in expectation of the wealth which is to turn up in the development of the quartz lodes. We visited the most famous of these lodes,—the Dacotah,—almost every specimen from which is brilliant with little shining stars of gold. And deep down in the shaft of this lode has been found a spacious cave full of stones of a metallic lustre, sending out all the tints of the rainbow, and many-colored translucent crystallizations, varying from the large stalactites to the fragile glass-work that crumbles at the touch.

Leaving Bannack, the road ascends a very lofty range of mountains, and passes by much wild and picturesque scenery. Mountaineers call these ranges, where they separate two streams, by the name of "divides." They have a scanty but nutritious herbage, and are for many months in the year covered with snow. On many of them a stunted growth of hybrid pines and cedars flourishes in great abundance. These, with the quaking ash and cottonwood along the streams, are the only woods of Montana. None of the harder woods, such as oak or maple, are found. It is inconceivably grand from the top of this range to look out upon the endless succession of vast peaks rolling away on every side, like waves in the purple distance. High above them all towers Bald Mountain,—the old Indian landmark of this section,—like Saul among his brethren. I have crossed this range in the gray of a February morning, with the thermometer at thirty-five below zero, and I never felt such a sense of loneliness as in gazing out from our sleigh—little atom of life as it seemed—upon this boundless ocean of snow, whose winters had been unbroken solitude through all the centuries.

Over this divide we pass among a low range of hills seamed with veins of silver, having already a more than local reputation. The hills embosom a clear little creek called after the yellow rattlesnake, which is almost as plentiful a luxury in these wilds as the grasshopper. It is, however, less venomous than its Eastern brethren, for not even the oldest inhabitant can instance a death from its bite. Nervous people avoid it studiously, but it has many friends among the other animals. The prairie-dog, the owl, and the rattlesnake live a happy family in one burrow, and the serpent has another fast friend in the turtle-dove. These doves are called the rattlesnake's brothers-in-law, and there runs a pretty legend, that when an Indian kills one of them, or mocks their plaintive cry, they tell the rattlesnake, who lies in wait and avenges the wrong by a deadly sting. And when one of the snakes is killed, the turtle-doves watch long over his dead body and chant mournful dirges at his funeral.

The road to Virginia passes through[Pg 239] the basin in which lie the tributaries of Jefferson Fork. It is a barren waste. Being in the rich mineral section of the country, its agricultural resources are proportionally deficient. Providence does not sprinkle the gold among the grain lands, but, by the wise law of compensation, apportions it to remote and volcanic regions which boast of little else. Along the water-courses is a narrow belt of cottonwood, and then rise the low table-lands, too high for irrigation, and with a parched, alkaline soil which produces only the wild sage and cactus. Miners curse this sprawling cactus most heartily, and their horses avoid its poisonous porcupine thorns with great care. All through these brown wastes one sees no shelter for the herds, no harvests of grain or hay, and wonders not a little how animal life—as well the flocks of antelope, elk, and deer in the mountains, as the cattle and horses of the rancheros—is preserved through the deep snows of the Northern winter. But even when the mountains are impassable, there is seldom snow in the valleys; and along the sides of the hills grow stunted tufts of bunch-grass, full of sweetness and nutriment. Horses always hunt for it in preference to the greener growth at the water's edge. And it is not an annual, but a perennial, preserving its juices during the winters, and drawing up sap and greenness into the old blades in the first suns of spring. This bunch-grass grows in great abundance, and it is only in winters of extreme severity that animals suffer from a lack of nourishing food.

Specks of gold may be found in a pan of dirt from any of these streams, followed back to the mountain chasm of its source. Upon one of them, in June, 1863, a party of gold-hunters stopped to camp on their return to Bannack, after an unsuccessful trip to the Yellowstone. While dinner was being cooked, one of them washed out a pan of dirt and obtained more than a dollar. Further washings showed even greater richness; and, hurrying to Bannack, they returned at once with supplies and friends, and formed a mining district. In the absence of law, the miners frame their own law; and so long as its provisions are equal and impartial, it is everywhere recognized. The general principle of such laws is to grant a number of linear feet up and down the gulch or ravine to the first squatter, upon compliance with certain conditions necessary for mutual benefit. In deliberations upon these laws, technicalities and ornament are of little weight, and only the plainest common-sense prevails. Prominent among their conditions was a provision—for the exorcism of drones—that every claim must be worked a fixed number of days in each week, or else, in the miners' expressive vocabulary, it should be considered "jumpable." Compliance with law was never more rigidly exacted by Lord Eldon than by the miners' judges and courts, and in the first days of this legislation a hundred revolvers, voiceless before any principle of justice, yet too ready before any technicality, fixed the construction of every provision beyond all cavil.

This was the beginning of Virginia Gulch, from which twenty-five millions of dollars in gold have been taken, and which has to-day a population of ten thousand souls. The placer proved to be singularly regular, almost every claim for fifteen miles being found profitable. From the mouth of the cañon to its very end, among snows almost perpetual, are the one-storied log-cabins, gathered now and then into clusters, which are called cities, and named by the miner from his old homes in Colorado and Nevada. In travelling up the crazy road, with frowning mountains at our left, and yawning pit-holes at our right, we pass seven of these cities,—Junction, Nevada, Central, Virginia, Highland, Pine Grove, and Summit.

Virginia, the chief of the hamlets, has since developed into an organized city, and the capital of the Territory. Its site was certainly not chosen for its natural beauty. Along the main gulch are the mines,—huge piles of earth turned up in unsightly heaps. At one[Pg 240] side of the mines, and up a ravine which crosses the gulch at right angles, lies the city. In shape it was originally like the letter T, but its later growth has forced new streets and houses far up the hillsides. Not so much regard was paid, in laying the foundations of the new city, to its future greatness, as Penn gave when he planned Philadelphia. The miner only wanted a temporary shelter, and every new-comer placed a log-cabin of his own style of architecture next the one last built. Where convenience required a street, lo! a street appeared. There were no gardens, for beyond the narrow centre of the ravine only sage-brush and cactus would grow. But the mines thrived, and also grew and thrived the little city and its vices.

Gradually a better class of buildings appeared. What were called hotels began to flourish; but it was long before the monotony of bacon, bread, and dried apples was varied by a potato. And for sleeping accommodations, a limited space was allotted upon the floor, the guest furnishing his own blankets. A theatre soon sprang up. And either because of the refined taste of some of the auditors, or the advanced talent of the performers, the playing was not the broad farce which might have been entertaining, but was confined to Shakespeare and heavy tragedy, which was simply disgusting. This style of acting culminated in the début of a local celebrity, possessed of a sonorous voice and seized with a sudden longing for Thespian laurels. He chose the part of Othello, and all Virginia assembled to applaud. The part was not well committed, and sentences were commenced with Shakespearian loftiness and ended with the actor's own emendations, which were certainly questionable improvements. Anything but a tragic effect was produced by seeing the swarthy Moor turn to the prompter at frequent intervals, and inquire, "What?" in a hoarse whisper. A running colloquy took place between Othello and his audience, in which he made good his assertion that he was rude in speech. Since then, Shakespeare has not been attempted on the Virginia boards. "Othello's occupation's gone"; and all tragic efforts are confined to the legitimate Rocky Mountain drama. "Nick of the Woods" has frequently been produced with great applause, though the illusion is somewhat marred by the audible creaking of the wheels of the boat in which the Jibbenainosay sails triumphantly over the cataract.

Sunday is distinguished from other days in being the great day of business. The mines are not worked and it is the miners' holiday. All is bustle and confusion. A dozen rival auctioneers vend their wares, and gallop fast horses up and down the street. The drinking and gambling saloons and dance-houses are in full blast, all with bands of music to allure the passing miner, who comes into town on Sunday to spend his earnings. The discoverer of Virginia is the miner par excellence,—a good-natured Hercules clad in buckskin, or a lion in repose. All the week he toils hard in some hole in the earth for this Sunday folly. The programme for the day is prepared on a scale of grandeur in direct ratio to the length of his purse. The necessity of spending the entire week's earnings is obvious, and to assist him in doing so seems to be the only visible means of support of half the people of the town. The dance-house and the gambling-saloon, flaunting their gaudy attractions, own him for the hour their king. His Midas touch is all-powerful. I must confess, with all my admiration for his character, that his tastes are low. I know that the civilization of the East would bore him immeasurably, and that he considers Colt, with his revolvers, a broader philanthropist than Raikes with his Sunday schools. But he is frank and open, generous and confiding, honorable and honest, scorning anything mean and cowardly. Mention to him, in his prodigal waste of money, that a poor woman or child is in want of the necessaries of life, and the purse-strings open with a tear. Tell him[Pg 241] that corruption and wrong have worked an injury to a comrade or a stranger, and his pistol flashes only too quickly, to right it. Circumstances have made him coarse and brutal, but below all this surface beats a heart full of true instincts and honest impulses. I am certain the recording angel will blot out many of his sins, as he did those of Uncle Toby. His means exhausted, he abdicates his ephemeral kingdom, and, uncomplaining, takes his pick and shovel, his frying-pan, bacon, and flour, and starts over the mountains for new diggings. Yet he gains no wisdom by experience. The same bacchanalian orgies follow the next full purse.

The Road Agents came to the new city from Bannack increased in strength and boldness. Long impunity had made them scarcely anxious to conceal their connection with the band. Life and property were nowhere secure. Spies in Virginia announced to confederates on the road every ounce of treasure that left the city, and sometimes reports came back of robberies of the coaches, sometimes of murder of the travellers, and still more frequently the poor victim was never heard of after his departure. There were no laws or courts, except the miners' courts, and these were powerless. Self-protection demanded vigorous measures, and a few good men of Bannack and Virginia met together and formed a Vigilance Committee, similar in all respects to that which has had such a beneficent influence in the growth of California. It was, of course, secret, and composed of a mere handful. It must be secret, for the Road Agents had so overawed the people that few dared acknowledge themselves as champions of law and order. They had threatened, and they had the power to crush such an organization at its inception, by taking the lives of its members. But moving stealthily and unknown, the little organization grew. Whenever a good man and true was found, he became a link of the chain. At last it tried its power over a notorious desperado named Ives, by calling a public trial of the miners. It was a citizens' trial, but the Vigilantes were the leading spirits. Ives confronted his accusers boldly, relying on the promised aid of his confederates. They lay in wait to offer it, but the criminal was too infamous for just men to hesitate which side to take, and the cowards, as always in such cases, though probably a numerical majority, dared not meet the issue. Ives was hanged without any attempt at rescue.

The proceedings thus vigorously commenced were as vigorously continued. The Road Agents still trusted their power, and the contest was not settled. The Vigilantes settled it soon and forever. One morning their pickets barred every point of egress from Virginia. A secret trial had been held and six well-known robbers sentenced to death. Five of them were one by one found in the city. The quickness of their captors had foiled their attempts at escape or resistance, and their impotent rage at seeing every point guarded sternly by armed Vigilantes knew no bounds. They were all executed together at noon. It was a sickening scene,—five men, with the most revolting crimes to answer for, summoned with hardly an hour's preparation into eternity. Yet they are frequently spoken of with respect because they "died game." All of them, drinking heavily to keep up their courage, died with the most impious gibes and curses on their lips. Boone Helm, a hoary reprobate, actually said, as the block was being removed from him, "Good by, boys! I will meet you in hell in five minutes." Harsh measures were these, but their effect was magical. One of the leaders had been hanged at Bannack, and the others as fast as found were promptly executed,—perhaps thirty in all. A few fled, and are heard of now and then among the robbers of Portneuf Cañon; but under the sway of the Vigilantes life and property in Virginia became safer than to-day in Boston. For minor offences they banished the guilty, and for grave offences they took life. As their history is now recounted by the people,[Pg 242] there is no man who does not praise their work and agree that their acts were just and for the public good. The first courts were held in December, 1864, and the Vigilantes were the earliest to support their authority. They are still in existence, but as a support and ally of the courts, and only appearing when the public safety demands the most rigorous dealing.

Virginia can never be a pretty city, but in many respects it is a model one. The earlier log-houses are now giving way to substantial stores of granite; and the number of gambling and tippling shops is steadily decreasing, the buildings being taken up by the wholesale traders. An organized city government preserves strict police regulations. Two thriving churches have grown up, and very recently the principal merchants have agreed to close their houses on the Sabbath. The old residents are bringing in their wives and children, and society constantly gains in tone. Erelong, it will compare favorably with the steadiest town in the land of steady habits.

Eight miles above Virginia is Summit. Its name sufficiently designates its location, which is at the head of the gulch and among the highest mountains. The sun is not seen there till a late hour in the winter, and the few who make it their home burrow closely as rabbits from the bitter cold and deep snows. The placer diggings are at their greatest depth here, but exceedingly rich. Here also are the richest gold lodes of the Territory. All the quartz seems impregnated with gold, sometimes in little pockets of nuggets, sometimes spattered by the intense heat of old into all forms of wires and spangles.

Quartz mining is yet in its rudest form. The gold is buried in solid rock, and requires heavy crushing-mills and cumbrous machinery, which must be built and transported at immense expense by capitalists. It is a question with such capitalists how certain is the promise of returns. The uncertainty of mining, as shown by the results of ventures in Colorado, has naturally deterred them. Under the old process of crushing the quartz to powder by stamps, and then separating the gold by amalgamation with quicksilver, but twenty-five per cent of the gold is saved. After the amalgamation a practical chemist could take the "tailings" of the Dacotah ore, and produce almost the full assay of the original rock. Very much depends in the mountain territories upon the success of experiments, now in operation, with the various new desulphurizing processes. This success established, the wealth of the territories is incalculable.

All the mining of Montana is now confined to the placer or gulch diggings. There are many of these, but probably none to compare in all respects with those at Virginia. At Bannack is found purer gold, at Biven's are larger nuggets, and many diggings at McClellan's yield larger amounts per day. But these are lotteries,—some claims paying largely to-day and nothing to-morrow, or one yielding enormously, while the next, after all the labor and expense of opening, gives nothing. They are called "spotted," while nearly every claim at Virginia has yielded with great regularity. How the gold came into these gulches is of little consequence to the miner. It suffices him to know that it is there, and his practical experience enables him to point out its location with great accuracy, though without any scientific knowledge of its origin. Most probably, far away in the Preadamite periods, when these mountains were much loftier than to-day, they were cloven and pierced by volcanic fires, and then into their innumerable vents and fissures infiltrated the molten quartz and the base and precious metals. Afterwards followed the period of the glaciers, and all the working of the seasons and chemical decompositions. Traces of the glaciers and the rotten burnt quartz of the volcanic periods exist everywhere. Thus washing and crumbling away in the waters and suns of untold springs and summers, the gold has come down the mountain gorges into the valleys below. The manner of gathering it is[Pg 243] rude and incomplete enough. In all the gulches, at depths varying from six to fifty feet, is a bed-rock of the same general conformation as the surface. Usually this is granite; but sometimes before reaching the primitive rock two or three strata of pipe-clay—the later beds of the stream, upon which frequently lies a deposit of gold—are passed. Upon the bed-rock is a deposit, from three to four feet in depth, of gravel and boulders, in which the gold is hidden. This is called by the miners "pay-dirt," and to remove it to the surface and wash it is the end of mining. It is an expensive and laborious process indeed. The water has first to be controlled; and in mines of not too great depth this is done by a drain ditch along the bed-rock, commenced many claims below. In this all the claim-holders are interested, and all contribute their quota of the labor and expense of digging it. The district laws permit every person to run such a drain through all the claims below his own, and force every man to contribute alike towards its construction, on pain of not being allowed to use the water, even though it flows through his own land. The water controlled, the rest is mere physical labor, which only bones and sinews of iron can endure. In the shallow diggings the superincumbent earth above the pay-dirt is removed, and the process is called "stripping." In deep diggings a shaft is sunk to the bed-rock, and tunnels are run in every direction,—and this is called "drifting." The roof is supported by strong piles, but these supports too frequently give way, and hurry the poor miners to untimely deaths. The pay-dirt, in whichever way obtained, is then shovelled into the sluice-boxes,—a series of long troughs, set at the proper angle to prevent the gold from washing past, or the dirt from settling to the bottom. Managed with the skill which experience has taught, the constant stream of water carries over the sand, while the gold, being seven times heavier, sinks to the bottom, and is caught by cross-bars called "riffles," placed there for the purpose. In the lower boxes is frequently placed quicksilver, with which the lighter particles amalgamate. During the washings the larger stones and boulders are removed by a fork. These boxes, after a successful day's work, are a pleasant sight to see, all brilliant with gold and black sand and magnetic iron. All is gold that glitters. The heavy sand and iron are separated by a more careful washing by hand and by the magnet. Of course, all this system is very rude and imperfect,—so much so, that it has been found profitable in California to wash over the same earth nine times.

The gold-dust thus obtained is the only circulating medium in the Territory, and is the standard of trade. Treasury notes and coin are articles of merchandise. Everybody who has gold has also his little buckskin pouch to hold it. Every store has its scales, and in these is weighed out the fixed amount for all purchases according to Troy weight. An ounce is valued at eighteen dollars, a pennyweight at ninety cents, and so on. It is amusing to notice how the friction of the scales is made by some men—particularly the Jews, whose name is legion—to work them no loss. In weighing in, the scale-beam bows most deferentially to the gold side; but in weighing out, it makes profound obeisance to the weights. The same cupidity has given rise to two new terms in the miners' glossary,—trade dust and bankable dust. Bankable dust means simply gold, pure and undefiled. Trade dust is gold with a plentiful sprinkling of black sand, and is of three grades, described very clearly by the terms good, fair, and dirty. The trader, in receiving our money, complains if it does not approximate what is bankable, but in paying us his money pours out a combination in which black sand is a predominating ingredient. Many merchants even keep a saucer of black sand in readiness to dilute their bankable gold to the utmost thinness it will bear.

As might be expected, the courts were hardly opened before grave questions arose as to the construction of contracts[Pg 244] based on this anomalous currency. Notes were usually made to pay a given number of "dollars, in good, bankable dust." But the laws recognized no such commodity as a dollar in dust. The decision of the court protecting a trickster in paying treasury-notes worth but fifty cents for the gold loaned by a friend, savored to the plain miner of rank injustice. To avoid even this opportunity for a legal tender, sometimes notes promised to pay a certain number of ounces and pennyweights, with interest at a fixed rate. The question was immediately sprung as to whether such an agreement was to be construed as a promissory note, or was to be sued for as a contract to do a specified act, by setting out a breach and claiming damages for the non-performance. The miners listened to the long discussions on these points impatiently, and compared the courts unfavorably with the miners' courts, which unloosed all such Gordian knots with Alexander's directness.

In the month of September, 1864, reports came to Virginia of mines on the Yellowstone. The reports were founded on some strange tales of old trappers, and were clothed with a vagueness and mystery as uncertain as dreams. Yet on such unsubstantial bases every miner built a pet theory, and a large "stampede" took place in consequence. I started with a party for the new mines, early in October. A day's ride brought us to the Madison Fork, a broad, shallow stream, difficult of fording on account of its large boulders, and flowing through a narrow strip of arable land. Very different is the Gallatin, beyond. It is cut up into narrow streams of a very rapid current, and waters a valley of surprising fertility. The Snakes called it Swift River. This valley is forty miles long and from ten to fifteen wide, and rising at its sides into low plateaus plenteously covered with rich bunch-grass. It is already pre-empted by farmers, and by easy irrigation are produced all the hardier vegetables and cereals, in quantity, size, and closeness of fibre not equalled on the Iowa prairies. The valley gradually widens as you descend the stream, until, at the junction of the Three Forks, it stretches into a broad prairie, sufficient alone to supply all the mines with grain and vegetables. A few enterprising speculators once laid out a town here, with all the pomp and circumstance of Martin Chuzzlewit's Eden. Pictures of it were made, with steamers lying at the wharves and a university in the suburbs. Liberal donations of lots were made to the first woman married, to the first newspaper, to the first church, to the first child born. But there were no mines near, and the city never had an inhabitant. The half-dozen buildings put up by the proprietors are left for the nightly carnivals of bats and owls.

On our road we passed a half-dozen huts, dignified with the name of Bozeman City. Here lives a Cincinnatus in retirement, one of the great pioneers of mountain civilization, named Bozeman. To him belongs the credit of having laid out the Bozeman Cut-off, on the road from Fort Laramie to Virginia, and he is looked up to among emigrants much as Chief-Justice Marshall is among lawyers. I saw the great man, with one foot moccasoned and the other as Nature made it, giving Bunsby opinions to a crowd of miners as to the location of the mythical mines.

Parting from him, we crossed a high range of mountains, and from their tops looked down upon the spiral line of the Yellowstone, marked by the rich tints of its willows and cottonwoods, red, yellow, and green, in the crisp frosts of October. The air on these mountain-tops is much rarefied, and so very clear and pure that objects at a great distance seem within the reach of an easy walk. The Yellowstone flows in the eastern portion of Montana through an uninhabitable desert called the Mauvaises Terres, or Bad Lands, which, mingling their soil with its waters, give it the yellow color from which it is named. These lands are vast wastes, covered with what appears to be pine ashes. No signs of vegetation are found, but they are abundant in strange petrifactions.[Pg 245] I have seen from them petrified reptiles and portions of the human body, having a pearly lustre and inlaid with veins, and looking like the finest work in papier-maché.

The valley of the Upper Yellowstone has a thin, rocky soil, almost worthless for farming land. But what a paradise it would be for Izaak Walton and Daniel Boone! Quaint old Izaak would have realized a dream of Utopia in watching in the crystal stream its millions of speckled trout. It almost seems as if the New England trout had learned their proverbial wariness from long experience. There is none of it in these Yellowstone fish. They leap at the bare hook with the most guileless innocence. Trout are rarely found in the waters of the Missouri, but they fill all the brooks west of the mountains. They bite ravenously; one veracious traveller going so far as to assert that they followed him from the water far into the woods, and bit at the spurs on his boots. But mountaineers, even of the most scrupulous veracity, are occasionally given to hyperbole. Daniel Boone, too, would have found his paradise of a solitude undisturbed by white men, and full of wild game. Every night our camp was entertained with the hungry cry of wolves, the melancholy hooting of owls, and the growls of bears crackling the underbrush. The grizzly bear is not found in Montana; only the small black and cinnamon bears are seen. When wounded, these exhibit the most extreme ferocity; but persons who choose to avoid them will find them always willing to preserve the most distant relations. The most interesting of all the wild animals is the antelope. Every hour we passed flocks of these little fellows. They are timid as school-girls, but as inquisitive as village gossips; and while frightened and trembling at our presence, they could not resist keeping long in our view, and stopping every few moments to watch us, with most childish curiosity. Though fleet as the wind, I have seen many of the meek-eyed little fellows watch too long, and pay for their curiosity with their lives.

The most eastern settlement of Montana is at the mouth of a cañon near the Yellowstone, one hundred and thirty miles from Virginia. A party of Iowa emigrants found fair prospects here, and made it their home, calling their mines Emigrant Gulch, and their half-dozen log-huts Yellowstone City. Their gulch is rich in gold, but the huge boulders, many tons in weight, make it impossible to obtain the treasure by the present rude methods. The few profitable claims are high up in the mountains, and are free from ice only in the hottest days of summer. Even the donkeys, so much in use in transporting supplies to the mountain miners, cannot travel here, and every pound of flour is carried on men's backs over giddy paths almost impassable for the chamois. Still the emigrants went to work with a will, and full of confidence. They built themselves log-cabins, not so convenient as those at Virginia,—for they had not the miner's knack of reaping large results from such limited resources,—but still substantial and comfortable. They enacted written laws, as ample as the Code Napoleon. Almost every day during our visit they met to revise this code and enact new provisions. Its most prominent feature was the ample protection it afforded to women in the distribution of lots in their prospective city, and the terrible punishment with which it visited any man who dared offer one of them an insult. They certainly founded their republic on principles of adamant, but in spite of high hopes and wise laws the boulders refused to move. Even Iowa enterprise at last gave way under constant disaster, and the people of the little city are one by one forsaking it for the older mines.

The swift Yellowstone and the Colorado rise in lakes in the enchanted Wind River Mountains. Mr. Stuart mentions the weird tales, told by trappers and hunters, of places—avoided, if possible, by man and beast—in these mountains where trees and game and even Indians are petrified, and yet look natural as in life. These trappers are[Pg 246] accustomed to exaggerate. I remember hearing a very serious account from one of them of a vast mountain of quartz so transparent that he could see mules feeding on the other side. There is also a story of a trapper who was lost in the fastnesses of the mountains years ago, and wandered for many days among streams whose bottoms were pebbled with gold. It is the miner's romance to repeat these fables of the Wind River Mountains, and to look forward to the day when the Indians shall be forced to yield them to his enterprise.

We arrived at Virginia at the end of October, and the commencement of the long mountain winter. The snows were soon blown in deep drifts over the hills, and the roads became almost impassable. A few hardy prospecters braved them in the search for quartz lodes, but many perished, and others were brought back to the city with frozen limbs. The mines lay idle, and the business of the city, dependent upon them for support, was completely stagnant. It was humanity living a squirrel life among its little garners of roots and nuts. But as usual, the reason of humanity fell far behind the instinct of the squirrel. Before spring came, the supply of flour at Virginia failed, and the most hideous of all calamities was threatened,—a famine. The range on the Salt Lake road lay utterly impassable under more than fifteen feet of snow. No mails had arrived for three months. The fear of famine soon became a panic, and flour speedily rose from twenty dollars per sack of one hundred pounds to one hundred and ten dollars in gold. A mob was organized by the drones, who would rather steal than work; and the miners were wrought upon by statements that a few speculators held an abundance of flour, and were extorting money from the necessities of the people. The Robespierres of the new reform drew the miners into passing a resolution to place all the flour in Virginia in the hands of a committee, with authority to distribute it among the most needy, at a fair and reasonable compensation, payable to the owner. A riot followed, and the flour-merchants quietly awaited the mob behind barricades of their own flour. The County Sheriff stood at the front of these with cocked revolver, and threatened to kill the first who advanced. The thieves knew that he did not threaten idly, and, though a hundred were ready to follow, not one was bold enough to lead. The riot failed for want of a courageous leader, and towards night slowly dwindled away. Another mob followed in a few days; but the merchants had sold their flour at sacrifices, and the booty was only a few sacks. The want of this staff of life caused great suffering. All other vegetable food was rapidly consumed, and for six weeks the poorer classes were forced to live on beef alone. The effect was in all cases an inability to labor, and in some cases serious sickness.

While thus cut off from all communication with the outer world, and buried in the dull town, there was little for us to do save to study each other's characters and talk the miners' language. In all new and thinly settled countries, many ideas are expressed by figures drawn from the pursuits of the people. Among the Indians, more than half of every sentence is expressed by signs. And miners illustrate their conversation by the various terms used in mining. I have always noticed how clearly these terms conveyed the idea sought. Awkwardness in comprehending this dialect easily reveals that the hearer bears the disgrace of being a "pilgrim," or a "tender-foot," as they style the new emigrant. To master it is an object of prime necessity to him who would win the miner's respect. Thus the term "adobe," the sun-dried brick, as applied to a man, signifies vealiness and verdancy. A "corral" is an enclosure into which the herds are gathered; hence a person who has everything arranged to his satisfaction announces that he has everything "corralled." A man fortunate in any business has "struck the pay-dirt"; unfortunate, has "reached the bed-rock." Everything viewed in[Pg 247] the aggregate, as a train, a family, or a town, is an "outfit." I was much at a loss, on my first arrival, to comprehend the exact purport of a miner's criticism upon a windy lawyer of Virginia,—"When you come to pan him out, you don't find color." But this vocabulary is not extensive, and the pilgrim soon learns to perceive and use its beauties.

Helena, the second point of importance in the Territory, is one hundred and twenty-five miles north from Virginia. We travel to it over a fine, hard road, through the low valleys of the Missouri. The beauty and richness of these valleys increase as we leave Virginia, and everywhere the green spots are becoming the homes of thrifty farmers. On the divide near Boulder Creek are wonderful proofs of the gradual levelling of the mountains, in the huge blocks of rock piled up in the most grotesque shapes. Many of these are colossal pillars, surmounted by boulders weighing many tons. The softer rock and gravel have washed down the ravines, leaving these as monuments of the primal ages. The ravines penetrate the mountain on every side, and little by little wear the monster away. The beavers choose the prettiest nooks in them for their villages, and the miner, finding the water cut off, often learns that in a single night these busy architects have built a tight and closely interwoven dam up the stream, which it takes him many hours to demolish. Is it strange that, in speaking of the beaver dam, he should sometimes transpose the words?

We ride down the pleasantest of the ravines, till it develops into the Prickly Pear River, and past embryo cities,—at present noticeable for nothing except their rivalry of each other,—and hurry on to Last Chance Gulch and the city of Helena. A few emigrants from Minnesota had been here for many months. They made no excitement, no parade, but steadily worked on amid their majestic mountain scenery, and asked no heralding of their wealth. On either side of their cabins grew tall pines straight as arrows, and in front spread a vast fertile valley watered by clear rivulets, marked here and there with the low cottages of the rancheros, and dotted everywhere with innumerable herds of cattle. Beyond the Missouri rose abruptly chains of snow-capped mountains, glistening in the sunlight and veined with gold and silver. Reports of these men came at times to Virginia,—reports always of a quiet and unostentatious prosperity. In the winter of 1864 their secret became known, and half the nomadic population of Virginia hurried to the new mines, and puzzled the slow-moving Minnesotians by their bustle and activity. Claims advanced rapidly in price, and the discoverers reaped fortunes. A city rose like an exhalation. Yet I never saw better order than in the earliest days of Helena, though I am afraid that Hangman's Tree could tell some stories of too much haste and injustice in taking the lives of criminals.

The hundred ravines near Helena showed gold, and every one of them was soon claimed from mouth to source. Every night I heard the clattering hoofs of the stampeders for some new gulch, starting in the utmost secrecy to gain the first right for themselves and friends. A trifling hint induces these stampedes. A wink from one old miner to another, and hundreds mounted their horses to seek some inaccessible mountain fissure. The more remote the diggings, so much the greater the excitement. Half the people of Helena lately hurried, in the depth of winter, to diggings on Sun River, (where many and many a brave fellow perished in the snows,) to learn that far richer mines had lain unclaimed for months within a stone's throw of their homes. The excitement over quartz lodes rapidly followed; and every spot on the mountains which showed any slight indications of auriferous quartz was claimed by the prospecters. Hardly a third of these can ever prove rich, but here and there is one of great value.

Helena, supported by the trade of[Pg 248] the surrounding mines, already rivals Virginia. Perhaps in years to come it may have a larger population and a more reckless enterprise. One hundred and fifty miles north from Helena is Fort Benton, an old fortified post of the American Fur Company, and the head of navigation on the Missouri. Steamers have arrived here in the spring, but the uncertainty of the water will fix the terminus of travel at some point farther down. A town charter for such a terminus was granted to a party of Virginia speculators at the mouth of Maria's River. They called it Ophir, which a friend of mine says is a very appropriate name and of poetic origin, being derived from Cowper's line,

"O for a lodge in some vast wilderness!"

On the first visit of the proprietors to their new site, every one of them was murdered and scalped by the Indians.

These regions are held by the Blackfeet, who, with their offshoots, the Bloods, Gros Ventres, and Piegans, are the most formidable Indians of Montana. They are polygamists, being in that respect exceptional among the Indians. But Catlin rather unsentimentally apologizes for this, on the ground that the chiefs are required to give expensive entertainments, in getting up which the labor of a hundred wives is no trifling assistance. Attempts have long been made to civilize and Christianize these savages by the Catholic missions under Father de Smet, and the government has furthered these attempts by establishing a fine farm on Sun River. The chiefs would sometimes be induced to stolidly witness the grain-planting; but Captain Mullan quietly describes all this waste of philanthropy in the words: "I can only regret that the results as yet obtained would not seem commensurate with the endeavors so manfully put forth."

The noble Indians of history and poetry do not exist among the Indians of to-day. You seek in vain for Logan or Pocahontas, for Uncas or Minnehaha. The real Indians are cruel and treacherous, lazy and filthy, crafty and ungrateful. Many of them live upon ants and grasshoppers, and at the best only know enough to preserve in the rudest manner a few of the commonest roots and berries.

These tribes have no history and no growth. They live a mere animal life. Even their few traditions are rude and disgusting enough. I am indebted to Mr. Stuart for a fair example of the Bannack superstitions, from which not even Longfellow could glean any poetry or beauty. Among the caves in the rocks dwells a race of fairy imps, who, with arrow and quiver, kill game upon the mountains, and sing boisterous songs on the cliffs in summer evenings. Whenever an Indian mother leaves her infant, one of these pleasant cannibals devours it straightway, and takes its place, crying piteously. When the poor woman returns and seeks to pacify her child, the little usurper falls ravenously upon her. Fire-arms, knives, and stones are all powerless; and when the screams of the woman bring the men to her help, the destroyer runs away and leaves her in a dying condition. She always dies before morning. When little children play at a distance from camp, these fairies seek to sport among them. Lucky is it for those timid few who, frightened at the long tail, scamper away from the intruder; for, when allowed to mingle in the sport, he suddenly seizes the fairest child, and hurries away to make a dainty meal off him with his little wives in elfin-land. To the Indian men the fairies profess a real friendship; and when they meet one near their dwellings they invite him in and feast him, and press him to stay all night. He invariably declines the polite invitation with his thanks, and his regrets that he has killed an elk and must take it home before the wolves can eat it.

Beyond the main chain of the Rocky Mountains are the Deer Lodge and Bitter Root Valleys, celebrated for their great grazing capabilities. I rode through these valleys in June, passing[Pg 249] up the Pipestone Creek, whose waters flow into the Missouri, and down the Silver Bow, whose waters flow into the Columbia. At the highest point we could almost see the springs of either river, flowing on one hand to the Atlantic, on the other to the Pacific. How widely are these children of the same mother separated! Summer sprinkles all the ravines with innumerable wild-flowers, which make a rich carpet even up close to the white line of the snow. I found among them wild varieties of the harebell, larkspur, and sunflower, and many pansies. Upon the Silver Bow Creek is a city of the same name, built in the winter, when it was hoped that spring would prove the richness of its mines. From a distance it looked like a large town; but upon riding in, we found only here and there a straggling inhabitant. Other mines proved richer, and any purchaser can buy its best house for less than the cost of drawing the logs to build it. At Deer Lodge in this valley,—almost equal in extent and fertility to that of the Gallatin,—old Johnny Grant lived for many years a life of patriarchal serenity among his wives and concubines, his flocks and herds. By constant presents of beads and whiskey, and many a warm meal when on the war-path, he had raised himself high in the esteem of the savages, and had a favorite squaw from almost every tribe among his wives. When the Flatheads passed by, no woman appeared at his hearth but a Flathead; when the Blackfeet came, the sole wife of his bosom was a Blackfoot. Thus for many years, almost the only white man in these solitudes, he lived at peace with the natives, a sharer in all their spoils and arbiter in all their quarrels. And when the patriarch was gathered to his fathers, he left cattle on a thousand hills to his son. Young Johnny is a mere repetition of his father. He cannot read or write, and in conversation his nominatives are not always true to his verbs; but he has all the slyness and craftiness of the Indian. I heard that he was immensely disgusted at the white immigration. He acknowledges that his beeves are of greater value, and he has no small admiration for dollars and cents; but he fears that his moral and intellectual standing will suffer.

Passing down the Deer Lodge River,—

"In the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound
Save his own dashings,"—

we come to a pass through the mountains, called Hell-Gate by the Flatheads, because through it rode the scalping parties of the Eastern tribes. Beyond is the sunny valley of the Bitter Root. It has long been settled by hardy trappers and hunters, and by comfortable farmers with well-stored barns and granaries and fenced fields. There is a charm about this isolated life, and a freshness and exhilaration about these Daniel Boones, that one meets nowhere else. Many of them are old army officers, men of education, who left the exploring parties to which they were attached to make their homes among the wild allurements of this fascinating valley. It is pleasant to hear their stories of life among the Indians, and their accounts of the strange features of the mountains, their animal life, their flora and minerals. Most of them have squaw wives, and are rearing large families of ugly pappooses, and many have amassed wealth by their long trade with the fur companies. The great Hudson's Bay Company has for many years had a station in this valley, and drawn from it large quantities of costly furs and skins. Here and farther west is spoken the famous Chinnook jargon, invented by the Company to facilitate its trade with the Indians. It borrows words from the English, from the French, from all the Indian tongues, and works them all into an incongruous combination. It has an entire lack of system or rule, but is quickly learned, and is designed to express only the simplest ideas. The powerful influence of the Company introduced it everywhere, and it was found of indispensable utility. Ardent Oregonians[Pg 250] are said to woo their coy maidens in its unpronounceable gutturals. The white man is called "Boston" in this tongue, because the first whites whom the Oregon Indians met came in a Boston ship.

The best Indians of the mountains dwell in this valley,—the Flatheads and Pend' d'Oreilles. Many of them are devoted Catholics, but liable at times to lapse into intoxication. The Jesuits have a thriving mission among them, with a neat church, whose clear ringing bell sounds strangely enough in the mountain recesses. The strict asceticism of the fathers, their careful nursing of the sick and wounded, and their cordial co-operation in all objects of philanthropy, have enabled them to wield an immense influence among the Indians. The white miners also, who have often lain sick or frost-bitten in their hospitals, except these zealous priests in their too common sneers at religion. Captain Mullan quite reflects the universal sentiment when he says: "The only good that I have ever seen effected among these people [the Indians] has been due to the exertions of these Catholic missionaries."

I have hurried over the points of interest in the early days of Montana. But any picture of its shifting life can only be a view of one of the combinations of the kaleidoscope. The discovery of new mines, and the abandonment of old ones, the fresh advent of gold-seekers and the exodus of the winners of fortunes, the increase of facilities for travel and of all the comforts of life, are daily and perceptibly working out new combinations. But while welcoming all changes tending towards refinement and a higher civilization, the careful observer of the life of these remote people can point to some qualities among them which he would have unchangeable as their grand old mountains,—their frankness and honesty of purpose, their love of justice, and their sturdy democracy.


The Poems of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. Boston: Ticknor and Fields.

The things which please in these poems are so obvious, that we feel it all but idle to point them out; for who loves not graceful form, bright color, and delicate perfume? Of our younger singers, Mr. Aldrich is one of the best known and the best liked, for he has been wise as well as poetical in his generation. The simple theme, the easy measure, have been his choice; while he is a very Porphyro in the profusion with which he heaps his board with delicates:—

"Candied apple, quince and plum and gourd;
With jellies soother than the creamy curd,
And lucent syrops tinct with cinnamon;
Manna and dates, in argosy transferred
From Fez; and spicèd dainties, every one,
From silken Samarcand to cedared Lebanon."

And the feast is well lighted, and the guest has not to third his way through knotty sentences, past perilous punctuation-points, to reach the table, nor to grope in the dark for the dainties when he has found it. We imagine that it is this charm of perfect clearness and accessibility which attracts popular liking to Mr. Aldrich's poetry; afterwards, its other qualities easily hold the favor won. He is endowed with a singular richness of fancy, and he has well chosen most of his themes from among those which allow the exercise of his best gifts. He has seldom, therefore, attempted to poetize any feature or incident of our national life; for this might have demanded a realistic treatment foreign to his genius. But it is poetry, the result, which we want, and we do not care from what material it is produced. The honey is the same, whether the bee stores it from the meadow-clover and the wild-flower of our own fields, or, loitering over[Pg 251] city wharves, gathers it from ships laden with tropic oranges and orient dates.

If Mr. Aldrich needed any defence for the poems in which he gives rein to his love for the East and the South, he would have it in the fact that they are very beautiful, and distinctively his own, while they breathe full east in their sumptousness of diction, and are genuinely southern in their summer-warmth of feeling. We doubt if any poet of Persia could have told more exquisitely than he what takes place

"When the Sultan Shah-Zaman
Goes to the city Ispahan,
Even before he gets so far
As the place where the clustered palm-trees are,
At the last of the thirty palace-gates,
The pet of the harem, Rose-in-Bloom,
Orders a feast in his favorite room,—
Glittering squares of colored ice,
Sweetened with syrop, tinctured with spice,
Creams, and cordials, and sugared dates,
Syrian apples, Othmanee quinces,
Limes, and citrons, and apricots,
And wines that are known to Eastern princes;
And Nubian slaves, with smoking pots
Of spicèd meats and costliest fish,
And all that the curious palate could wish,
Pass in and out of the cedarn doors:
Scattered over mosaic floors
Are anemones, myrtles, and violets,
And a musical fountain throws its jets
Of a hundred colors into the air.
The dusk Sultana loosens her hair,
And stains with the henna-plant the tips
Of her pearly nails, and bites her lips
Till they bloom again,—but, alas! that rose
Not for the Sultan buds and blows;
Not for the Sultan Shah-Zaman,
When he goes to the city Ispahan.
"Then, at a wave of her sunny hand,
the dancing girls of Samarcand
Float in like mists from Fairy-land!
And to the low voluptuous swoons
Of music rise and fall the moons
Of their full, brown bosoms. Orient blood
Runs in their veins, shines in their eyes:
And there, in this Eastern Paradise,
Filled with the fumes of sandal-wood,
And Khoten musk, and aloes and myrrh,
Sits Rose-in-Bloom on a silk divan,
Sipping the wines of Astrakhan;
And her Arab lover sits with her.
That's when the Sultan Shah-Zaman
Goes to the city Ispahan.
"Now, when I see an extra light,
Flaming, flickering on the night
From my neighbor's casement opposite,
I know as well as I know to pray,
I know as well as a tongue can say,
That the innocent Sultan Shah-Zaman
Has gone to the city Ispahan."

As subtilely beautiful as this, and even richer in color and flavor than this, is the complete little poem which Mr. Aldrich calls a fragment:—

"So, after bath, the slave-girls brought
The broidered raiment for her wear,
The misty izar from Mosul,
The pearls and opals for her hair,
The slippers for her supple feet,
(Two radiant crescent moons they were,)
And lavender, and spikenard sweet,
And attars, nedd, and richest musk.
When they had finished dressing her,
(The eye of morn, the heart's desire!)
Like one pale star against the dusk,
A single diamond on her brow
Trembled with its imprisoned fire!"

Too long for quotation here, but by no means too long to be read many times over, is "Pampinea," an idyl in which the poet's fancy plays lightly and gracefully with the romance of life in Boccaccio's Florentine garden, and returns again to the beauty which inspired his dream of Italy, as he lay musing beside our northern sea. The thread of thought running through the poem is slight as the plot of dreams,—breaks, perhaps, if you take it up too abruptly; but how beautiful are the hues and the artificing of the jewels strung upon it!

"And knowing how in other times
Her lips were ripe with Tuscan rhymes
Of love and wine and dance, I spread
My mantle by almond-tree,
'And here, beneath the rose,' I said,
'I'll hear thy Tuscan melody.'
I heard a tale that was not told
In those ten dreamy days of old,
When Heaven, for some divine offence,
Smote Florence with the pestilence;
And in that garden's odorous shade,
The dames of the Decameron,
With each a loyal lover, strayed,
To laugh and sing, at sorest need,
To lie in the lilies in the sun
With glint of plume and silver brede!
And while she whispered in my ear,
The pleasant Arno murmured near,
The dewy, slim chameleons run
Through twenty colors in the sun;
The breezes broke the fountain's glass,
And woke æolian melodies,
And shook from out the scented trees
The lemon-blossoms on the grass.
The tale? I have forgot the tale,—
A Lady all for love forlorn,
A rose-bud, and a nightingale
That bruised his bosom on the thorn:
A pot of rubies buried deep,
A glen, a corpse, a child asleep,
A Monk, that was no monk at all,
In the moonlight by a castle wall."

As to "Babie Bell," that ballad has[Pg 252] passed too deeply into the popular heart to be affected for good or ill by criticism,—and we have only to express our love of it. Simple, pathetic, and real, it early made the poet a reputation and friends in every home visited by the newspapers, in which it has been printed over and over again. It is but one of various poems by Mr. Aldrich which enjoy a sort of perennial fame, and for which we have come to look in the papers, as we do for certain flowers in the fields, at their proper season. In the middle of June, when the beauty of earth and sky drives one to despair, we know that it is time to find the delicately sensuous and pensive little poem "Nameless Pain" in all our exchanges; and later, when the summer is subject to sudden thunderstorms, we look out for "Before the Rain," and "After the Rain." It is very high praise of these charming lyrics, that they have thus associated themselves with a common feeling for certain aspects of nature, and we confess that we recur to them with greater pleasure than we find in some of our poet's more ambitious efforts. Indeed, we think Mr. Aldrich's fame destined to gain very little from his recent poems, "Judith," "Garnaut Hall," and "Pythagoras"; for when it comes to be decided what is his and what is his period's, these poems cannot be justly awarded to him. To borrow a figure from the polygamic usages of our Mormon brethren, they are sealed to Mr. Aldrich for time and to Mr. Tennyson for eternity. They contain many fine and original passages: the "Judith" contains some very grand ones, but they must bear the penalty of the error common to all our younger poets,—the error of an imitation more or less unconscious. It is to the example of the dangerous poet named that Mr. Aldrich evidently owes, among other minor blemishes, a mouse which does some mischief in his verses. It is a wainscot mouse, and a blood-relation, we believe, to the very mouse that shrieked behind the mouldering wainscot in the lonely moated grange. This mouse of Mr. Aldrich's appears twice in a brief lyric called "December"; in "Garnaut Hall," she makes

"A lodging for her glossy young
In dead Sir Egbert's empty coat of mail,"

and immediately afterwards drags the poet over the precipice of anti-climax:—

"'T was a haunted spot.
A legend killed it for a kindly home,—
A grim estate, which every heir in turn
Left to the orgies of the wind and rain,
The newt, the toad, the spider, and the mouse."

A little of Costar's well-known exterminator would rid Mr. Aldrich of this rascal rodent. Perhaps, when the mouse is disposed of, the poet will use some other word than torso to describe a headless, but not limbless body, and will relieve Agnes Vail of either her shield or her buckler, since she can hardly need both.

We have always thought Mr. Aldrich's "Palabras Cariñosas" among the most delicious and winning that he has spoken, and nearly all of his earlier poems please us; but on the whole it seems to us that his finest is his latest poem, "Friar Jerome's Beautiful Book"; for it is original in conception and expression, and noble and elevated in feeling, with all our poet's wonted artistic grace and felicity of diction. We think it also a visible growth from what was strong and individual in his style, before he allowed himself to be so deeply influenced by study of one whose flower indeed becomes a weed in the garden of another.

The United States during the War. By August Laugel. New York: Baillière Brothers. Paris: Germer Baillière.

The Civil War in America. An Address read at the last Meeting of the Manchester Union and Emancipation Society. By Goldwin Smith. London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co. Manchester: A. Ireland & Co.

As a people, we are so used to policeman-like severity or snobbish ridicule from European criticism, that we hardly know what to make of the attentions of a Frenchman who is not an Inspector Javert, or of an Englishman who is not a Commercial Traveller. M. Laugel eulogizes us without the least patronage in his manner; Mr. Goldwin Smith praises us with those reserves which enhance the value of applause. We are ourselves accustomed to deal generously and approvingly with the facts of our civilization, but our pride in them falls short of M. Laugel's; and our most sanguine faith in the national future is not more cordial than Mr. Goldwin Smith's.

The diverse methods in which these writers discuss the same aspects and events of our history are characteristic and interesting, and the difference in spirit[Pg 253] is even greater than that of form,—greater than the difference between a book, which, made from articles in the Revue de Deux Mondes, recounts the political, military, and financial occurrences of the last four years, sketches popular scenes and characters, and deals with the wonders of our statistics, and a slender pamphlet address, in which the author concerns himself rather with the results than the events of our recent war. This is always Mr. Smith's manner of dealing with the past; but in considering a period known in all its particulars to his audience, he has been able to philosophize history more purely and thoroughly than usual. He arrives directly and clearly at the moral of the Ilias Americana, and sees that Christianity is the life of our political system, and that this principle, without which democracy is a passing dream, and equality an idle fallacy, triumphed forever in the downfall of slavery. He has been the first of our commentators to discern that the heroism displayed in the war could only come from that principle which made our social life decent and orderly, built the school-house and the church, and filled city and country with prosperous and religious homes. He has seen this principle at work under changing names and passing creeds, and has recognized that here, for the first time in the history of the world, a whole nation strives to govern itself according to the Example and the Word that govern good men everywhere.

In the Introduction to his book, M. Laugel declares as the reasons for his admiration of the United States, that they "have shown that men can found a government on reason, where equality does not stifle liberty, and democracy does not yield to despotism; they have shown that a people can be religious when the State neither pays the Church nor regulates belief; they have given to woman the place that is her due in a Christian and civilized society." It is this Introduction, indeed, that will most interest the American reader, for here also the author presents the result of his study of our national character in a sketch that the nation may well glass itself in when low-spirited. The truth is, that we looked our very best to the friendly eyes of M. Laugel, and we cannot but be gratified with the portrait he has made of us. An American would hardly have ventured to draw so flattering a picture, but he cannot help exulting that an alien should see us poetic in our realism, curious of truth and wisdom as well as of the stranger's personal history, cordial in our friendships, and not ignoble even in our pursuit of wealth, but having the Republic's greatness at heart as well as our own gain.

In the chapters which succeed this Introduction, M. Laugel discusses, in a spirit of generous admiration, the facts of our civilization as they present themselves in nearly all the States of the North and West; and while he does not pretend to see polished society everywhere, but very often an elemental ferment, he finds also that the material of national goodness and greatness is sound and of unquestionable strength. He falls into marvellously few errors, and even his figures have not that bad habit of lying to which the figures of travellers so often fall victims.

The books of M. Laugel and Mr. Goldwin Smith come to us, as we hinted, after infinite stupid and dishonest censure from their countrymen; but the intelligent friendship of such writers is not the less welcome to us because we have ceased to care for the misrepresentations of the French and English tourists.

Hospital Life in the Army of the Potomac. By William Howell Reed. Boston; William V. Spencer.

The advice of friends, so often mistaken, and so productive of mischief in goading reluctant authorship to the publication of unwise, immature, or feeble literature, prevailed upon Mr. Reed to give the world the present book; and we have a real pleasure in saying that for once this affectionate counsel has done the world a favor and a service. We have read the volume through with great interest, and with a lively impression of the author's good sense and modesty. In great part it is a personal narrative; but Mr. Reed, in recounting the story of the unwearied vigilance and tenderness and dauntless courage with which the corps of the Sanitary Commission discharged their high duties, contrives to present his individual acts as representative of those of the whole body, and to withdraw himself from the reader's notice. With the same spirit, in describing scenes of misery and suffering, he has more directly celebrated the patience and heroism of the soldiers who bore the pain than the indefatigable goodness that ministered to them, though[Pg 254] he does full justice to this also. The book is a record of every variety of wretchedness; yet one comes from its perusal strengthened and elevated rather than depressed, and with new feelings of honor for the humanity that could do and endure so much. Mr. Reed does not fail to draw from the scenes and experiences of hospital life their religious lesson, and throughout his work are scattered pictures of anguish heroically borne, and of Christian resignation to death, which are all the more touching because the example of courage through simple and perfect faith is enforced without cant or sentimentality.

The history of the great Christian aspect of our war cannot be too minutely written nor too often read. There is some danger, now the occasion of mercy is past, that we may forget how wonderfully complete the organization of the Sanitary Commission was, and how unfailingly it gave to the wounded and disabled of our hosts all the succor that human foresight could afford,—how, beginning with the establishment of depots convenient for the requisitions of the surgeons, it came to send out its own corps of nurses and watchers, until its lines of mercy were stretched everywhere almost in sight of the lines of battle, and its healing began almost at the hour the hurt was given. Mr. Reed devotes a chapter to this history, in which he briefly and clearly describes the practical operation of the system of national charity, accrediting to Mr. Frank B. Fay the organization of the auxiliary corps, and speaking with just praise of its members who perished in the service, or clung to it, till, overtaken by contagion or malaria, they returned home to die. The subject is dealt with very frankly; and Mr. Reed, while striving to keep in view the consoling and self-recompensing character of their work, does not conceal that, though they were rewarded by patience and thankfulness in far the greater number of cases, their charities were sometimes met by disheartening selfishness and ingratitude. But they bore up under all, and gave the world such an illustration of practical Christianity as it had never seen before.

Mr. Reed's little book is so earnestly and unambitiously written, that its graphic power may escape notice. Yet it is full of picturesque touches; and in the line of rapidly succeeding anecdote there is nothing of repetition.

A History of the Gypsies: with Specimens of the Gypsy Language. By Walter Simpson. Edited, with Preface, Introduction, and Notes, and a Disquisition on the Past, Present, and Future of Gypsydom, by James Simpson. New York: M. Doolady.

The history of the Gypsies, according to the editor of the present work, is best presented in a series of desultory anecdotes which relate chiefly to the Egyptian usages of murder, pocket-picking, and horse-stealing, and the behavior of the rogues when they come to be hanged for their crimes. Incidentally, a good deal of interesting character is developed, and both author and editor show a very intimate acquaintance with the life and customs and speech of an inexplicable people. But here the value of their book ends; and we imagine that the earlier Simpson, who contributed the greater part of it in articles to Blackwood's Magazine, scarcely supposed himself to be writing anything more than sketches of the Scotch Gypsies whom he found in the different shires, and of the Continental and English Gypsies of whom he had read. The later Simpson thought it, as we have seen, a history of the Gypsies, and he has furnished it with an Introduction and a Disquisition of amusingly pompous and inconsequent nature. His subject has been too much for him, and his mental vision, disordered by too ardent contemplation of Gypsies, reproduces them wherever he turns his thought. If he values any one of his illusions above the rest,—for they all seem equally pleasant to him,—it is his persuasion that John Bunyan was a Gypsy. "He was a tinker," says our editor. "And who were the tinkers?" "Why, Gypsies, without a doubt," answers the reader, and makes no struggle to escape the conclusion thus skilfully sprung upon him. Will it be credited that the inventor of this theory was denied admittance to the columns of the religious newspapers in this country, on the flimsy pretext that the editors could not afford the space for a disquisition on John Bunyan's Gypsy origin?

The comparison of the Gypsy language in this book with a dialect of the Hindostanee is interesting and useful, and the accounts of Gypsy habits and usages are novel and curious; and otherwise the work is a mass of rather entertaining rubbish.[Pg 255]

Eros. A Series of connected Poems. By Lorenzo Somerville, London: Trübner & Co.

Patriotic Poems. By Francis de Haes Janvier. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co.

The Contest: a Poem. By G. P. Carr. Chicago: P. L. Hanscom.

Poems. By Annie E. Clark. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co.

All these little books are very prettily printed and very pleasingly bound. Each has its little index and its little dedication, and each its hundred pages of rhymes, and so each flutters forth into the world.

"Dove vai, povera foglia frale?"

To oblivion, by the briefest route, we think; and we find a pensive satisfaction in speculating upon the incidents of the journey. Shall any one challenge the wanderers in their flight, and seek to stay them? Shall they all reach an utter forgetfulness, and be resolved again into elemental milk and water, or shall one of them lodge in a dusty library, here and there, and, having ceased to be literature, lead the idle life of a curiosity? We imagine another as finding a moment's pause upon the centre-table of a country parlor. Perhaps a third, hastily bought at a railway station as the train started, and abandoned by the purchaser, may at this hour have entered upon a series of railway journeys in company with the brakeman's lamps and oil-bottles, with a fair prospect of surviving many generations of short-lived railway travellers. We figure to ourselves the heart-breaking desolation of a village-tavern, where, on the bureau under the mirror, to which the public comb and brush are chained, a fourth might linger for a while.

But in all the world shall anybody read one of these books? We fancy not even a critic; for the race so vigilantly malign in other days has lost its bitterness, or has been broken of its courage by the myriad numbers of the versifiers once so exultingly destroyed. Indeed, that cruel slaughter was but a combat with Nature,—

"So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life";

and from the exanimate dust of one crushed poetaster she bade a thousand rhymesters rise. Yet one cannot help thinking with a shudder of the hideous spectacle of "Eros" in the jaws of Blackwood or the mortal Quarterly, thirty years ago; or of how ruthlessly our own Raven would have plucked the poor trembling life from the "Patriotic Poems," or "The Contest," or the "Poems."

The world grows wiser and better-natured every day, and the tender statistician has long since stayed the hand of the critic. "Why strike," says the gentle sage, "when figures will do your work so much more effectually, and leave you the repose of a compassionate soul? Do you not know that but one book in a thousand survives the year of its publication?" etc., etc., etc. "And then as to the infinite reproduction of the species," adds Science, "is Nature,

"'So careful of the single type?' But no,
From scarped cliff and quarried stone
She cries, 'A thousand types are gone.'"

Patience! the glyptodon and the dodo have been dead for ages. Perhaps in a million years the poetaster also shall pass.

Thirty Years of Army Life on the Border. By Colonel R. B. Marcy, U. S. A. With Numerous Illustrations. New York: Harper and Brothers.

There is not much variety in frontier life, it must be confessed, though there is abundant adventure. A family likeness runs through nearly all histories of bear-fights, and one Indian-fight might readily be mistaken for another. So also bear-fighters and Indian-fighters are akin in character, and the pioneers who appear in literature leave a sense of sameness upon the reader's mind. Nevertheless, one continues to read of them with considerable patience, and likes the stories because he liked their ancestral legends when a boy.

Colonel Marcy's book offers something more than the usual attractions of the class to which it belongs; for it contains the history of his own famous passage of the Rocky Mountains in mid-winter, and notices of many frontiersmen of original and striking character (like the immortal Captain Scott), as well as much shrewd observation of Indian nature and other wild-beast nature. All topics are treated with perfect common-sense; if our soldierly author sometimes philosophizes rather narrowly, he never sentimentalizes, though he is not without poetry; and he is thoroughly[Pg 256] imbued with the importance of his theme. One, therefore, suffers a great deal from him, in the way of unnecessary detail, without a murmur, and now and then willingly accepts an old story from him, charmed by the simplicity and good faith with which he attempts to pass it off as new.

The style of the book is clear and direct, except in those parts where light and humorous narration is required. There it is bad, and seems to have been formed upon the style of the sporting newspapers and the local reporters, with now and then a hint from the witty passages of the circus, as in this colloquy:—

"'Mought you be the boss hossifer of that thar army?'

"'I am the commanding officer of that detachment, sir.'

"'Wall, Mr. Hossifer, be them sure 'nuff sogers, or is they only make-believe chaps, like I see down to Orleans?'

"'They have passed through the Mexican war, and I trust have proved themselves not only worthy of the appellation of real, genuine soldiers, but of veterans, sir.'"

And so forth. We like Colonel Mercy when he talks of himself better than when he talks for himself. In the latter case he is often what we see him above, and in the former he is always modest, discreet, and entertaining.

Memoirs of a Good-for-Nothing. From the German of Joseph von Eichendorff, by Charles Godfrey Leland. With Vignettes by E. B. Bensell. New York: Leypoldt and Holt.

When, as Heine says, Napoleon, who was Classic like Cæsar and Alexander, fell to the ground, and Herren August Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel, who were Romantic like Puss in Boots, arose as victors, Baron von Eichendorff was one of those who shared the triumph. He wrote plays and poems and novels to the tunes set by the masters of his school, but for himself practically he was a wise man,—held comfortable offices all his life long, and, in spite of vast literary yearning, sentiment, and misanthropy, was a Philister of the Philisters. The tale which Mr. Leland translates so gracefully is an extravaganza, in marked contrast to all the other romances of Eichendorff, in so far as it is purposely farcical, and they are serious; but we imagine it does not differ from them greatly in its leading qualities of fanciful incoherency and unbridled feebleness. An idle boy, who is driven from home by his father, the miller, and is found with his violin on the road to nowhere by two great ladies and carried to their castle near Vienna,—who falls in love with one of these lovely countesses, and runs away for love of her to Italy, and, after passing through many confused adventures there, with no relation to anything that went before or comes after, returns to the castle, and finds that his lovely countess is not a countess, but a poor orphan adopted by the great folk,—and so happily marries her,—this is the Good-for-Nothing and his story. A young student of the German language, struggling through the dusty paths of the dictionary to a comprehension of the tale, would perhaps think it a wonderful romance, when once he had achieved its meaning; but being translated into our pitiless English, its poverty of wit and feeling and imagination is apparent; and one is soon weary of its mere fantasticality.