The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 14, No. 81, July, 1864

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Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 14, No. 81, July, 1864

Author: Various

Release date: April 1, 2010 [eBook #31838]

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.)









Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by
Ticknor and Fields,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.



Beer-Drinking, Head-Quarters ofAndrew Ten Broeck185
Biography, The New School ofGail Hamilton579
Cadmean Madness, TheW. L. Symonds265
Columbia River, On theFitz-Hugh Ludlow703
CommunicationD.A. Wasson424
CulletJane G. Austin304
CurrencyGeorge S. Lang109
Democracy and the Secession WarC. C. Hazewell505
Dixie, Our Last Day inEdmund Kirke715
Dolliver Romance, A Scene from theNathaniel Hawthorne101
Electric Girl of La Perrière, TheRobert Dale Owen284
England and AmericaProf. Goldwin Smith749
English Authors in FlorenceMiss K. Field660
Foreign Relations, Our RecentG. M. Towle243
Glorying in the GoadGail Hamilton21
Gourgues, Dominic de, The Vengeance ofF. Parkman530
Halcyon DaysCaroline Chesebro675
HawthorneO. W. Holmes98
Highland Light, TheH. D. Thoreau649
House and Home PapersHarriet Beecher Stowe93, 230, 434, 565, 689
How Rome is GovernedProf. G. W. Greene150
Ice and EsquimauxD. A. Wasson728
Ice-Period in AmericaProf. Louis Agassiz86
Inanimate Things, The Total Depravity ofMrs. E. A. Walker357
Jones, Paul, and Denis DuvalF. Ingham493
Lamb's, Charles, Uncollected WritingsJ. E. Babson478, 552
Leaves from an Officer's JournalT. W. Higginson521, 740
Little Country-Girl, TheMrs. A. M. Diaz212
Luigi, The True Story ofHarriet E. Prescott411
MexicoG. Reynolds51
MeyerbeerFrancis Williams116
Night in the Water, AT. W. Higginson393
Oregon, On Horseback intoFitz-Hugh Ludlow75
Paris, Literary Life in"Spiridion"200, 292
Presidential Election, The TwentiethC. C. Hazewell633
Reade, CharlesHarriet E. Prescott137
Récamier, MadameMiss J. M. Luyster446
Regular and Volunteer OfficersT. W. Higginson348
Revolution, Finances of theProf. G. W. Greene591
Richmond, Our Visit toEdmund Kirke372
Rim, TheHarriet E. Prescott63
SaadiR. W. Emerson33
San Francisco, Through-Tickets toFitz-Hugh Ludlow604
Sculpture, The Process ofHarriet Hosmer734
Sea-Hours with a DyspepticJoseph D. Howard617
Vendue, On a LateJ. E. Babson406
Virginia, The May Campaign in"Carleton"124
We are a NationJ. T. Trowbridge769
Wellfleet Oysterman, TheH. D. Thoreau470
[Pg iv]
Wet-Weather WorkDonald G. Mitchell39, 333
What shall we have for Dinner?E. E. Hale364
What will become of Them?J. T. Trowbridge170, 320
Wife's Story, TheAuthor of "Life in the Iron-Mills"1


Before VicksburgG. H. Baker371
Bridge of Cloud, TheH. W. Longfellow283
Bryant, To William CullenH. T. Tuckerman563
Bryant's Seventieth BirthdayO. W. Holmes738
ConcordH. W. Longfellow169
Divina Commedia, On Translating theH. W. Longfellow688
ForgottenElisabeth A. C. Akers332
Friar Jerome's Beautiful BookT. B. Aldrich195
Heart of the War, TheJ. G. Holland240
In Memory of J. W.—R. W.O. W. Holmes115
Last Rally, TheJ. T. Trowbridge589
Maskers, TheJ. T. Trowbridge303
PalingenesisH. W. Longfellow19
Return of the Birds, TheW. C. Bryant37
Ride to Camp, TheG. H. Boker404
ServiceJ. T. Trowbridge443
Summer, The Future503
Sweet-Brier 229
Tobacconalian Ode, A 672
Vanishers, TheJ. G. Whittier726
Watching 74
Works and DaysT. W. Parsons491

Reviews and Literary Notices.

Arnold on Translating Homer136
Arnold's Last Words136
Browning's Dramatis Personæ644
Carter's Summer Cruise515
Dufour's Strategy and Tactics259
Farnham's Eliza Woodson388
---- Woman and her Era388
Greeley's American Conflict133
Guizot's Meditations on Christianity784
Haupt on Military Bridges781
Hazard on Freedom of Mind in Willing778
Jennie Juneiana387
Kingsley's Roman and Teuton252
Marsh's Man and Nature261
Mill's Dissertations and Discussions776
Newman's Translation of the Iliad135
Owen's Wrong of Slavery517
Parton's Life and Times of Franklin383
Prescott's Azarian515
Privations and Sufferings of U.S. Soldiers in Rebel Prisons777
Reid's Cliff-Climbers390
Tennyson's Enoch Arden518
Thoreau's Maine Woods386
Trollope's Small House at Allington254
Webster's American Dictionary642
Wilson's History of the Anti-Slavery Measures of Congress787
Youmans's Class-Book of Chemistry256
Recent American Publications136, 263, 391, 648, 788

[Pg 1]





I will tell you the story of my life, since you ask it; for, though the meaning of the life of any woman of my character would be the same, I believe, the facts of mine, being sharp and compressed, may make it, perhaps, more apparent. It will be enough for me to give you the history of one day,—that of our first coming to Newport; for it seems to me as if it held and spoke out plainly whatever gist and significance there was in all the years for me. I know many people hold the theory, that once in every life God puts the stuff of which He has made the man or woman to the test, gives the soul a chance of a conscious fight with that other Power to win or lose itself, once for all. I do not know: it seems but just that one should be so left, untrammelled, to choose between heaven and hell: but who can shake off trammels,—make themselves naked of their birth and education? I know on that day when the face of my fate changed, I myself was conscious of no inward master-struggle: the great Life above and Life below pressed no closer on me, seemed to wait on no word of mine. It was a busy, vulgar day enough: each passing moment occupied me thoroughly. I did not look through them for either God or Death; and as for the deed I did, I had been drifting to that all my life: it began when I was a pampered, thin-blooded baby, learning the alphabet from blocks on my mother's lap; then years followed, succulent to satiety for my hungry brain and stimulated tastes; a taint of hereditary selfishness played its part, and so the end came. Yet I know that on that day I entered the gate through which there is no returning: for, believe me, there are such ways and gates in life; every day, I see more clearly how far and how immovably the paths into those other worlds abut into this, and I know that I, for one, have gone in, and the door is closed behind me. There is no going back for me into that long-ago time. Only He who led me here knows how humbly and through what pain I dared to believe this, and dare to believe that He did lead me,—that it was by no giddy, blear-sighted free-will of my own that I arrived where I stand to-day.[Pg 2]

It was about eighteen months after my marriage that we came to Newport. But let me go back a few weeks to one evening when my husband first told me of the failure of the house in which his property was invested; for it was then, I think, that the terror and the temptation which had beset my married life first took a definite shape and hold on me.

It was a cool September evening, I remember: a saffronish umber stain behind the low Hudson hills all that was left of the day's fresh and harvest-scented heat; the trails of black smoke from the boats against the sky, the close-shut cottages on the other shore, the very red cows coming slowly up from the meadow-pool, looking lonesome and cold in the sharp, blue air. In the library, however, there was a glow of warmth and light, as usual where Doctor Manning sat. He had been opening the evening's mail, and laid the last letter on the table, taking off his glasses in his slow, deliberate way.

"It is as we feared," turning to me. "It's quite gone, Hester, quite. I'll have to begin at the beginning again. It would have been better I had not trusted the whole to Knopps,—yes."

I said nothing: the news was not altogether unexpected. He took off his wig, and rubbed his head slowly, his eyes fixed on my face with some anxious, steady inquiry, which his tones did not express.

"I'll go back to Newport. Rob's there. I'll get a school again. You did not know I taught there when I was a young man?"


I knew nothing of my husband's youth. Miss Monchard, his ward, who was in the room, did, however; and after waiting for me a moment to go on, she said, cheerfully,—

"The boys will be men now, Sir. Friends ready waiting. And different sort of friends from any we have here, eh?"

He laughed.

"Yes, Jacky, you're right. Yes. They've all turned out well, even those Arndts. Jim Arndt used to trot you on his knee on the school-house steps, when you were a baby. But he was a wild chap. He's in the sugar-trade, Rob writes me. But they'll always be boys to me, Jacky,—boys."

His head dropped, with a smile still on his mouth, and he began fingering his scanty beard, as was his habit in his fits of silent musing. Jacqueline looked at him satisfied, then turned to me. I do not know what she saw upon my face, but she turned hastily away.

"It's a town with a real character of its own, Newport, Mrs. Manning,"—trying to make her coarse bass voice gentle. "You'll understand it better than I. New-York houses, now, even these on the Hudson, hint at nothing but a satisfied animal necessity. But there, with the queer dead streets, like a bit of the old-time world, and the big salt sea"——She began to stammer, as usual, and grow confused. "It's like looking out of some far-gone, drowsy old day of the Colonies, and yet feeling life and eternity fresh and near to you."

I only smiled civilly, by way of answer. Jacqueline always tried me. She was Western-born, I a New-Englander; and every trait about her, from the freedom with which she hurled out her opinions to the very setting-down of her broad foot, jarred on me as a something boorish and reckless. Her face grew red now.

"I don't say what I want exactly," she hesitated. "I only hoped you'd like the town, that it would reconcile——There's crabs there," desperately turning to Teddy, who was playing a furtive game of marbles under the table, and grabbing him by the foot. "Come here till I tell you about the crabs."

I remember that I got up and went out of the low window on to the porch, looking down at the quiet dun shadows and the slope of yellowed grass leading to the river, while Jacky and the boy kept up a hurly-burly conversation about soldier-crabs[Pg 3] that tore each other's legs off, and purple and pink sea-roses that ate raw meat, and sea-spiders like specks of blood in the rocks. My husband laughed once or twice, helping Jacky out with her natural history. I think it was the sound of that cheery, mellow laugh of his that fermented every bitter drop in my heart, and brought clearly before me for the first time the idea of the course which I afterwards followed. I thrust it back then, as if it had been a sneer of the Devil's at all I held good and pure. What was there in the world good and pure for me but the man sitting yonder, and the thought that I was his wife? And yet——I had an unquiet brain, of moderate power, perhaps, but which had been forced and harried and dragged into exertion every moment of my life, according to the custom with women in the States from which I came. Every meanest hint of a talent in me had been nursed, every taste purged, by the rules of my father's clique of friends. The chance of this was all over,—had been escaping since my marriage-day. Now I clearly saw the life opening before me. What would taste or talent be worth in the coarse struggle we were about to begin for bread and butter? "Surely, we have lost something beyond money," I thought, looking behind into the room, where my husband was quietly going back to the Arndts in quest of food for reflection, and Jacky prosed on about sea-anemones. I caught a glimpse of my sallow face in the mirror: it was full of a fierce disgust. Was their indifference to this loss a mere torpid ignorance of the actual brain- and soul-wants it would bring on us, or did they really look at life and accept its hard circumstances from some strange standing-ground of which I knew nothing? I had not become acclimated to the atmosphere of my husband's family in the year and a half that I had been his wife. He had been married before; there were five children, beginning at Robert, the young preacher at Newport, and ending with Teddy, beating the drum with his fists yonder on the table; all of them, like their father, Western-born, with big, square-built frames, and grave, downright-looking faces; simple-hearted, and much given, the whole party, to bursts of hearty laughter, and a habit of perpetually joking with each other. There might be more in them than this, but I had not found it: I doubted much if it were worth the finding. I came from a town in Massachusetts, where, as in most New-England villages, there was more mental power than was needed for the work that was to be done, and which reacted constantly on itself in a way which my husband called unwholesome; it was no wonder, therefore, that these people seemed to me but clogs of flesh, the mere hands by which the manual work of the world's progress was to be accomplished. I had hinted this to Doctor Manning one day, but he only replied by the dry, sad smile with which it had become his habit of late to listen to my speculations. It had cost me no pain thus to label and set aside his children: but for himself it was different; he was my husband. He was the only thing in the world which I had never weighed and valued to estimate how much it was worth to me: some feeling I could not define had kept me from it until now. But I did it that evening: I remember how the cool river-air blew in the window-curtain, and I held it back, looking steadily in at the thick-set, middle-aged figure of the man sitting there, in the lamp-light, dressed in rough gray: peering at the leather-colored skin, the nervous features of the square face, at the scanty fringe of iron-gray whisker, and the curly wig which he had bought after we were married, thinking to please me, at the brown eyes, with the gentle reticent look in them belonging to a man or beast who is thorough "game"; taking the whole countenance as the metre of the man; going sharply over the salient points of our life together, measuring myself by him, as if to know—what? to know what it would cost me to lose him. God be merciful to me, what thought was this? Oh, the wrench in[Pg 4] heart and brain that came then! A man who has done a murder may feel as I did while I stood for the next half-hour looking at the red lights of the boats going up and down the Hudson, in the darkening fog.

After a while Teddy came waddling out on the porch, in his usual uncouth fashion, and began pulling at my cape.

"You're getting cold, mother. Come in. Come!"

I remember how I choked as I tried to answer him, and, patting his gilt-buttoned coat, took the fat chapped little hands in mine, kissing them at last. I was so hungry for affection that night! I would have clung to a dog that had been kind to me. I thought of the first day Doctor Manning had brought him to me, in this same comical little jacket, by the way, and the strangely tender tone in which he had said,—"This is your mother, boy. He's as rough as a bear, Hetty, but he won't give you trouble or pain. Nothing shall give you pain, if I"——Then he stopped. I never heard that man make a promise. If he had come out instead of Teddy on the porch that night, and had spoken once in the old tone, calling me "Hetty," God knows how different all that came after would have been. The motherless boy, holding himself up by my knees, was more sturdy than I that night, and self-reliant: never could have known, in his most helpless baby-days, the need with which I, an adult woman, craved a cheering word, and a little petting.

Jacqueline came behind me and pinned a woollen shawl around my neck, patting my shoulders in her cozy, comfortable fashion.

"None of your dark river-fogs at Newport," she laughed. "The sea-air has the sweep of half the world to gather cold and freshness in, and it makes even your bones alive. Your very sleep is twice as much sleep there as anywhere else."

Jacky's rough voice was like the cuckoo's: it always prophesied pleasant weather. She went in again now, and sat down on her little sewing-chair. The low, rolling fogs outside, and the sharp September wind rattling the bare branches of the orchard-trees and the bushes on the lawn, only made the solid home-look of comfort within warmer and brighter. There was a wood-fire kindled on the library-hearth, and its glow picked out red flushes of light on the heavy brown curtains, and the white bust of Psyche, and a chubby plaster angel looking down. Jacky, rocking and sewing, her red mouth pursed up, half whistling, suited the picture, somehow, I could not but feel, mere lump and matter though she might be. There was something fresh and spicy about her. I never had been impressed so justly by her as on that night. Rough, perhaps, but it was a pure roughness: everything about the girl had been clean since she was born, you felt, from the paint of the house where she lived to the prayer her nurse had taught her. Her skin was white and ruddy, her blue eyes clear and full of honesty, her brown curls crisp and unoiled. She could not reason, maybe; but she was straightforward and comfortable: every bone in her roly-poly little figure forgot to be a bone, and went into easy cushions of dimpled flesh. If ever Jacky died and went into a more spiritual world, she would be sure to take with her much of the warmth and spring and vigor of this. She had drawn her chair close to Doctor Manning's, where the flickering light touched the soft woollen folds of her dress and the bit of crimson ribbon at her throat. He liked bright colors, like most men of his age. It was a pretty picture.

I turned and looked down at the river again, shivering,—trying to think of the place and all we were leaving. I did not wonder that it cost the others little to give up the house: it meant but little to them. Doctor Manning had bought it just before we were married, being then a square chocolate-colored farm-house, and we had worked our own whims on it to make it into a home, thrusting out a stout-pillared big porch at one side, and[Pg 5] one or two snug little bay-windows from my sewing-room. There was a sunny slope of clover down to the river, a dusky old apple and plum orchard at the left, and Mary's kitchen-garden on the right, with a purblind old peacock strutting through the paths, showing its green and gold. Not much in all this: nothing to please Jacky's artist and poet sense, if she had any. But——I held on to the porch-railings now, drumming with my fingers, as I thought of it. It was all the childhood I ever had known. He brought me there the day we were married, and until August—six months—we had been there alone. I could hear his old nag Tinder neighing now, in the stable where we used to go every evening to feed and rub him down: for I went with Daniel, as I called him, then, everywhere, even to consult his mason or farm-hands. He used to stand joking with them a minute after the business was over, in an unwonted fashion for him, and then scramble into the buggy beside me, and drive off, his fresh, bright eye turned to the landscape as if enjoying it for the first time.

"God bless you, Hetty!" he used to say, "this is putting new blood into my veins."

Generally, in those long rides, I used to succeed in coaxing him imperceptibly back to talk of his life in South America,—not only that I liked to hear this new phase of wild adventuring life, but my own blood would glow and freshen to see the fierce dare-devil look come back into the eye, and the shut teeth of the grave, laconic old Doctor. People did not know the man I had married,—no; and I would draw in closer to his shaggy coat, and spur him on to his years of trading in the West, and later in this State. He had a curious epigrammatic way of talking that I have noticed in a less degree in many Western men: coming at the marrow and meaning of a scene or person in his narration with a sheer subtilized common-sense, a tough appreciation of fact beyond theory, and of its deeper, juster significance, and a dramatic aptness for expression. Added to all this, my husband's life had been compacted, crowded with incident; it had saddened and silenced his nature abnormally; this was the first break: a going back to what he might have been, such as his children were now.

"I never talked to any one before, Hetty," he said thoughtfully once, as we were driving along, after a few moments' silence. "I feel as if I had got breath, this late in the day, that I never expected, for whatever thought was in me,—and—whatever love."

He turned away his face, crimson at this. He was as strangely reticent and tender on some points as a woman. So seldom he put his love into words! That time I remember how the tears suddenly blinded me, when I heard him, and my fingers grew unsteady, holding the reins. I was so happy and proud. But I said nothing: he would not have liked it.

Of one time in his life Doctor Manning had never talked to me: of his earlier youth; when he was married before. He was not a man of whom you could ask questions; yet I had hinted an inquiry once or twice in his presence, but only by a change of color and a strange vague restlessness had he shown that he understood my drift of meaning. Soon after that, his eldest son, Robert, came to see his father's new wife, and stayed with us a day or two. He was a short, thickly built young man, with heavy jaws and black hair and eyes,—keen eyes, I soon felt, that were weighing and analyzing me as justly, but more shrewdly than ever his father had done. The night before he went away he came up to the porch-step where I sat, and said abruptly,—

"I am satisfied, and happy to go now."

"I am glad of that," I said earnestly; for the tenderness of the son to the father had touched me.

"Yes. You cannot know the dread I had of seeing you. I knew the risk he ran in laying his happiness in any woman's hands at his hour of life. But it was hard he never should know a home and[Pg 6] love like other men,"—his voice unsteady, and with an appealing look.

"He never shall need it," I said, quietly.

"You think not?"—his eyes on the ground. "At all events,"—after a pause,—"he is resting like a child now: it will not be easy to startle him to any harsh reality, and," looking up, "I hope God may deal with you, Mrs. Manning, as you deal with my father. Forgive me," as I began to speak, "you do not know what this is to me. It makes me rough, I know. I never yet have forgiven the woman that"——His mother? He caught the look, stopped, pushed his hair back, caught his breath. "One thing let me say," after a moment's silence. "You do not know my father. If he wakens to find his wife is not what he thinks her, it will be too late for me to warn you then. He has been hurt sore and deeply in his life. Your chance is but once."

I did not reply to Robert Manning, nor was I offended: there was too much solemnity in his coarseness. The man's affection for his father was as part of his life-blood, I believed.

My husband came to me when he saw Robert go, and loosened my hands from my face. I clung to him as I never did before.

"What is this hurt he talks of in your life, Daniel? Will I be enough to take it out? Will I?"

He laughed, a low, constrained laugh, holding my shoulders as if I were a bit of a child.

"God knows you are enough, Hetty. I never thought He'd send me this. Rob has been talking to you? He"——

"He is bitter."

"He loves me,—poor Rob!"

"Tell me of those people that hurt you, as he says."

It was a prurient, morbid curiosity that had seized me. A sort of shiver ran over his frame.

"Eh, what, Hetty?"—in a low voice. "Let that go, let that go,"—standing silent a moment, looking down. "Why would we bring them back, and hack over the old dead faults? Had she no pain to bear? We couldn't find that out to speak for her. But God knows it."

I might have known how my question would have ended; for, always, he covered over the ill-doing of others with a nervous haste, with the charity of a man himself sharply sensitive to pain.

"It is healthful to go back to past pain," I said, half dissatisfied.

"Is it so?"—doubtfully, as he turned away with me. "I don't know, child. Now and then He has to punish us, or cut out a cancer maybe. But for going back to gloat over the cure or the whip-lash——No; it will keep us busy enough to find good air and food, every minute for itself"; and, with a ruddy, genial smile, he had stooped and kissed my forehead.

A year had passed since that night. I was standing on the same porch, but I was alone now. My husband sat a few feet from me in his old easy-chair, but no gulf could have parted us so wide and deeply. Robert Manning had said I would have but one chance. Well, I had had it, and it was gone. So I stood there, looking quietly at him and Jacky and the boy. The child had pushed his father's wig off, and his bare head with its thin iron-gray hair fell forward on his breast, resting on Teddy's sleeping cheek. I saw now how broad and sad the forehead was,—the quiet dignity on the whole face. Yet it had been such a simple-hearted thing to do,—to buy that wig to please me! One of those little follies the like of which would never come again.

I went in and sat down as usual, apart, throwing aside from my neck the shawl which Jacky had pinned there, loathing anything she had touched, so real and sharp was the thought about her become, as if the evening's fog and cold had lent it a venomous life. They had made a quiet cozy picture before, which had bitterly brought back our first married days, but it was broken up now. The Doctor's three boys came lumbering in, with muddy shoes, game-bags, and the usual fiery faces and loud jokes after their day's[Pg 7] sport. Jacky threw down her sewing, and went out to see the squirrels drawn, and the Doctor smoothed Teddy's hair, looking after them with a pleased smile. One of the rarest sparkles of our daily life! It was a year since Doctor Manning had brought his children home. They filled the house. Musing on the past now, and trying to look at that year calmly, while I sat by the fire, my husband would fade back in the picture into an unmeaning lay-figure. Was this my fault? Could I help it, if God had made me with a different, clearer insight into life and its uses than these people with their sound beef and muscle, their uncouth rejoicing in being alive? There was work enough in them: a broad-fisted grappling with the day's task or obstacle, a drinking of its pain or success into their slow brains, but nowhere the metre to note the soul's changes, nor the eye to speculate on them. "No," my husband had said to me one day, "we Western people have the mass of this country's appointed work to do, so we are content that God should underlie the hypotheses. We waste no strength in guesses at the reason why."

I remember how intolerably the days of that year dragged even in memory, as I sat there trying to judge them fairly,—how other years of my life thrust them aside, persistently, as foreign, alien to me. These others were to me home,—the thoughts that had held me nearest the divine life: I went back to them, my eyes wet, and my heart sick under my weak lungs. The little village of Concord, away up yonder, where I was born,—I was glad to have been born there: thinking how man not only had learned there to stand self-poised and found himself God, but Nature herself seemed there to stop and reflect on her own beauty, and so root deeper in the inner centre. The slow-dropping river, the thoughtful hills, the very dust-colored fern that covers its fields, which might grow in Hades, so breathless and crisp it is, came back to me with a glamour of quiet that night. The soul had space to grow there! remembering how its doors of thought stood wider open to welcome truth than anywhere else on earth. "The only object in life is to grow." It was my father's,—Margaret Fuller's motto. I had been nursed on it, I might say. There had been a time when I had dreamed of attaining Margaret's stature; and as I thought of that, some old subtile flame stirred in me with a keen delight. New to me, almost; for, since my baby was born, my soul as well as my body had been weak and nauseated. It had been so sharp a disappointment! I had intended my child should be reared in New England: what I had lacked in gifts and opportunities he should possess: there was not a step of his progress which I had not mapped out. But the child was a girl, a weazen-faced little mortal, crying night and day like any other animal. It was an animal, wearing out in me the strength needed by-and-by for its mental training. I sent it to a nurse in the country. Her father had met the woman carrying it out to the wagon, and took it in his arms. "Eh? eh? is it so, little lass?" I heard him say. For days after that he looked paler, and his face had a quiet, settled look, as if he had tested the world and was done with it. The days of Tinder and the paddock and the drives were long gone then. I do not remember that after this he ever called me Hetty. But he was cheerful as ever with the boys, and, the week after, Jacky came.

Why did I think of all this now? Some latent, unconscious jar of thought brought suddenly before me a scene of many years before, a damp spring morning in Paris, when I had gone to Rosa Bonheur's studio, just out of the city, to see her "Horse-Fair": the moist smell of jonquils; the drifting light clouds above the Seine, like patches of wool; but most, the peculiar life that seemed to impregnate the place itself, holding her, as it were, to her own precise niche and work in the world,—the sharply managed lights, the skins, trappings, her disguises on the walls, the stables outside, and the finished work before us, instinct with vigor and an observation as patient as keen. I remembered[Pg 8] how some one had quoted her as saying, "Any woman can be a wife or mother, but this is my work alone."

I, too, had my gift: but one. But again the quick shiver of ecstasy ran through me;—it was my power, my wand with which to touch the world, my "Vollmachtsbrief zum Glücke": was I to give it unused back to God? I could sing: not that only; I could compose music,—the highest soul-utterance. I remember clutching my hands up to my throat, as if holding safe the power that should release me, suffer me to grow again, and looking across the oil-lamp on the table at my husband. I had been called, then,—set apart to a mission; it was a true atom of the creative power that had fired my brain; my birth had placed me on a fitting plane of self-development, and I had thrust it all aside—for what? A mess of weakest pottage,—a little love, silly rides behind Tinker, petting and paltering such as other women's souls grew imbecile without. It was the consciousness of this that had grown slowly on me in the year just gone; I had put my husband from me day by day because of it; it had reached its intolerable climax to-night. Well, it was fact: no fancy. My nature was differently built from others: I could look now at my husband, and see the naked truth about us both. Two middle-aged people, with inharmonious intellects: tastes and habits jarring at every step, clenched together only by faith in a vague whim or fever of the blood called love. Better apart: we were too old for fevers. If I remained with Doctor Manning, my rôle was outlined plain to the end: years of cooking, stitching, scraping together of cents: it was the fate of thousands of married women without means, to grovel every year nearer the animal life, to grow niggardly and common. Better apart.

As I thought that, he laid Teddy down, and came towards me,—the usual uncertain, anxious half-smile on his face with which he regarded me.

"I am sure they will all like my old home, now, lads and all. I'm glad of that. Sure of all but you, Hester. But you say nothing."

"The loss is great."

I shut my lips firmly, and leaned back, for he had put his hard hand gently on my shoulder. It made me turn faint, with some weakness that must have come down to me from my infant days, so meaningless was it. I did not hear his answer; for with the same passionate feebleness I caught the sleeve of his dressing-gown in my fingers, and began smoothing it. It was the first thing I had ever made for him. I remembered how proud I was the evening he put it on. He was looking down steadily at me with his grave, reasonable eyes, and speaking when I looked up.

"I have been knocked up and down so perpetually in my own life: that may be the reason the change did not trouble me as it ought. It makes one feel as if outside matters were but just the tithes of mint and cumin,—a hurly-burly like that which I've lived in. I am sorry. I thought you would grieve least of all, Hester. You are stronger-brained than we Mannings, eh? I was sure the life meant so much more to you than food or raiment."

"What do you mean by the life? Have I found it here, Daniel?"

"No, Hester?"

"I want work fit for me," I said, almost fiercely. "God made me for a good, high purpose."

"I know," cheerfully. "We'll find it, dear: no man's work is kept back from him. We'll find it together."

But under the cheerfulness there was a sad quiet, as of one who has lost something forever, and tries to hide the loss from himself. There was a moment's silence, then I got up, and pushed him down into my chair. I took the gray head in my arms, leaned it on my shoulder, held the thin bits of hair in my hand.

"Why, why, child!"

"Call me Hetty, Daniel. I'd like to think that name belonged to me yet."

"Surely, dear. Why! but—this is just the old times again, Hetty! You'll be bringing me my slippers again."[Pg 9]

"Yes, I will."

I went to the cupboard, and brought them, sitting down on the floor as he put them on. Another of the old foolish tricks gone long ago. There was a look on his face which had not been there this many a day. He had such a credulous heart, so easy to waken into happiness. I took his wrist in my bony hands, to raise myself; the muscles were like steel, the cording veins throbbing with health; there was an indescribable rest in the touch.

"Daniel," I said, looking him full in the face, "I'd like to have no mission in God's world. I'd like to give up my soul, and forget everything but you."

He did not answer. I think now that he understood me then and before far better than I dreamed. He only put his hand on mine with an unutterable tenderness. I could read nothing on his face but a grave common-sense. Presently he unbuttoned my sleeves and the close collar about my throat to let the cool damp blow on me.

"Yes," I said, "it's a fever, Daniel. In the blood. That is all,—with me. I decided that long ago. It will not last long." And I laughed.

"Come," he said, quietly. "I am going to write to Rob now, about our plans. You can help me."

I followed him, and sat down by the table. "There is something in the man stronger than the woman," I thought, doggedly, "inside of blood and muscle." Yet the very galling of that consciousness set me more firmly in the mind to be again free.

A month after that we came to Newport. It was not an idle month. Jacky had proposed a review of my husband's and his sons' clothes, and day after day I had sat by the window looking out on the sluggish Hudson, a hank of patent thread about my neck, stitching patches on the stiff, half-worn trousers. "It becomes us to take care of the pence now," she would say, and go on with her everlasting whistling, La-la. It rasped on my brain like the chirp of the partridge outside in the cedar-hedge. When she would go out of the room sometimes, I would hold my hand to my head, and wonder if it was for this in reality God had made me.

Yet I had my own secret. The work of my life, before I was married, had been the score of an opera. I got it out now by stealth, at night, putting my pen to it here and there, with the controlled fever with which a man might lay his hand on a dear dead face, if he knew the touch would bring it back to life. Was there any waking that dead life of mine? At that time, in New York, M. Vaux was trying the experiment of an English opera in one of the minor theatres. I sent the score to him. It did not trouble me, that, if produced, its first effect would be tried on an uncultured caste of hearers: if the leaven was pure, what matter where it began to work? and no poet or artist was ever more sincere in the belief that the divine power spoke through Him than I. I thought, that, if I remained with Doctor Manning as his wife, this venture mattered little: if I shook myself free, and, taking up my mission, came before the public as a singer, it would open the way for me. For my plan had grown defined and practical to me now.

M. Vaux had left his family at Newport after the season was over. I was to meet him there when we went down, and hear his decision on the score. I met him one day on Broadway, and hinted my vague desire of making my voice also available.

"To sing? did you say sing, Mrs. Manning? go on the stage?"—pawing his chin with one hand.

He was a short, puffy little man, with a bullet head at half-cock in the air, producing a general effect of nostrils on you.

"Sing, eh?" he mumbled, once or twice.

Before this I had been Mrs. Manning, throwing off an opera-score as a careless whim, one of the class to whom he and his like presented arms: he surveyed me now with the eye of a stock-raiser buying a new mule, and set the next evening as the time when I should "drop in[Pg 10] at his house and give him a trill or two.—Keeping dark before the old man yet, eh?" with a wink. I went in the next day, but he declined to pronounce judgment until we came to Newport.

I remember my husband met me at the gate when I returned, and lifted me from the little pony-carriage.

"I'm so glad my girl is taking her drives again,"—his face in a glow,—"coming back with the old red cheeks, too. They're a sort of hint of all the good years coming. We're far off from being old people yet, Hetty." And so went beside me slowly up the garden-walk, his hands clasped behind him, stopping to look now and then at his favorite purple and crimson hollyhocks.

I looked at him askance, as we went through the evening shadows. There was something grand in the quiet of the face, growing old with the depth of sadness and endurance subdued in it: the kindly smile over all. I had brought the smile there. But it would not be for long: and I remember how the stalk of gillyflower I held snapped in my hand, and its spicy odor made me throw it down. I have loathed it ever since. Was my life to be wasted in calling a smile to an old man's face? My husband and M. Vaux were different men; but, on the other side, they were gates to me of different lives: here, a sordid slavery of work; there,—something in me glowed warm and triumphant,—fame and an accomplished deed in life!

Surely these mawkish home-ties were fast loosing their hold on me, I thought, as we went in. I asked no questions as to my husband's plans; no one spoke to me of them. In the few days before our departure I roped up chairs, packed china in straw, sorted clothes into trunks, working harder than the others, and then creeping off alone would hum an air from the score, thanking God for giving me this thoroughly pure, holy message to utter in the world. It was the redemption of my soul from these vulgar taints: it was a sort of mortgage I held on the eternal truth and life. Yet, when no one told me of their plans, when I saw they all held some secret back from me, watching me constantly and furtively, when Jacky buzzed about my husband all day, whispering, laughing, cooking his favorite omelet for breakfast, bringing his slippers at night,—it was like so many sharp stings through stupor. "It's the woman's flesh of me!" I used to say bitterly, when I would have been glad to meanly creep after them, to cuddle Teddy up in my arms, or to lean my head on his father's knees. "I can live it down. I have 'a manly soul.'" For it was part of my creed that Nature was something given us to be lived down in fulfilling our mission.

We went by the evening's boat to Newport. I saw M. Vaux in the outer cabin, as we passed through: he nodded familiarly when Doctor Manning's back was turned, without removing his cigar.

It was stifling below, with the smell of frying meat and numerous breaths. We went on deck, my husband drawing a bench around to shelter me from the keen wind across the bow, and wrapping my flannel hood closer to my throat when we drifted out within scent of salt water. It was a night that waited and listened: the sea silent and threatening, a few yellow, dogged, low breakers running in at long intervals; now and then a rasping gurgle of wind from shore, as of one who held his breath; some thin, brown clouds ragged along the edges of the cold sky, ready for flight.

I sat there thinking how well the meaning of the sea suited my soul that night. It was no work of God's praising Him continually: it was the eternal protest and outcry against Fate,—chained, helpless, unappealing. Let the mountains and the sunshine and the green fields chant an anthem, if they would; but for this solitary sea, with its inarticulate cry, surely all the pain and impatience of the world's six thousand years had gone down and found a voice in that. Having thus cleared to myself the significance of the sea in Nature, I was trying to define its exact effect upon my own temperament,[Pg 11] (a favorite mental exercise of my father's,) when my husband touched my shoulder.

"I'll go down and smoke a bit, Hetty dear, and leave you with Jacky. She's as good guard as a troop of horse."

Jacky nodded vehemently once or twice from where she stood, followed him with her eyes as he went down the steps, anxiously, and then stood gravely silent. She was but a lump of "woman's flesh," that was clear, and I doubted if there was any soul inside to live it down. Her face was red and her eyes shining with the sea-wind. She had been at the stern with the boys, making a riot about the porpoises rolling under the boat; in the engine-room with Teddy; had tried to drag me to the deck-railing to watch the unsteady shimmer of some pale-blue sea-weed under the water, which the wheel threw up in silver flashes, or to see how, before the sun went down, we floated over almost motionless stretches of pale tea-colored water, holding, it seemed, little curdling pools of light far below in their depths on depths of shivering brown and dull red mosses.

"Ach-h! I'm glad I'm alive to-night!" she had said, gritting her teeth in her Dutch fashion.

But some new demon had possession of her brain now: she stood working with her shawl uncertainly, a trifle pale, watching me. She came to me at last, and stood balancing herself first on her heels and then her toes, biting her lip as if doubtful how to begin.

"I wish we had the baby along!" came with a gruff burst, finally. "God bless its little soul! I went out to see it on Saturday. It would do Uncle Daniel good. He needs something fresh and hearty, bread-and-butter-like, or a baby. You did not notice him this evening particularly, Mrs. Manning, eh?" anxiously.


"Nothing——Well, no matter. I'm fanciful, maybe. There's an old saying in the family about him, some Doctor's prophecy, and it makes me over-watchful, likely."

She waited for a question. I asked none. There was a dull throb of pain in my heart, but I thrust it down. The girl waited a few moments, debating with herself: I could read the struggle on her face: then she looked up straight into my eyes, her small white teeth showing determined as a steel-trap.

"It's quiet here, Mrs. Manning, and will be for a bit, and there's a story I'd like to tell you. It would do me good, if it were off my mind. Perhaps you, too," with a sharp glance.

"Go on."

She put her hand into her pocket and pulled out a broken morocco case.

"Look here. This tells the whole of the story, almost,"—holding it where the light from the cabin-window fell on it.

It was the daguerreotype of a woman: one of those faces that grow out of a torpid, cunning, sensual life; apparently marked, too, by some strange disease, the skin white, and hanging loose from the flesh. I pushed it away. Jacqueline polished it with her palm.

"She was an opium-eater, you see? The eyes have that rigid staring, like Death looking into life. You pushed it from you, Mrs. Manning?"—shutting it. "Yet I know a man who cherished that living face tenderly in his bosom for fifteen long years, and never opened his lips to say to God once that it was hard to bear: faugh!" and she flung the case into the water. "I only kept it to show you. She, the foul vampire, sucked his youth away. I think it was but the husk of life that was left him when she died;—and we are making that mean and poor enough,"—in a lower voice. "Yet that man"—more firmly—"has a stronger brain and fresher heart than you or I are fit to comprehend, Mrs. Manning. One would think God meant that the last of his life, after that gone, should be a warm Indian-summer day, opening broad and happily into the life He is keeping for him,—would you not?"

"Who is the man?"—my lips growing cold.

"Your husband."[Pg 12]

"I thought so. You did well to tell me that story."

She looked from me, her color coming and going.

"It was hard to do it. You are an older woman than I. But I thought it was needed."

I looked up at the hard-set, chubby little face, beyond at the far yellow night-line of sea, listened to the low choke, choke, of the water in the wheels.

"I wish you would leave me. Let me be alone awhile."

She went to the other end of the deck, where she could keep me in sight. It was so dull, that throb of the water, playing some old tune that would not vary! The sea stretched out in such blank, featureless reaches!

To nestle down into this man's heart and life! To make his last years that warm Indian-summer day! I could do it! I! What utter rest there were in that!

Yet was this power within me to rot and waste? My nature, all the habit and teaching of the years gone, dragged me back, held up my Self before me, bade me look at that. A whiff of tobacco-scented breathing made me look up. M. Vaux was leaning on the deck-railing, his legs crossed, surveying me critically through his half-shut eyes.

"Well, 'm, glad of the chance t' tell you. Henz and Doctor Howe thought so well of that little thing of yours that we've put it in rehearsal,—bring it out Monday week. 'N' 've concluded you can try the part of Marian in it. Not much in that,—one aria you can make something of, but begin easy, hey?"

"I have concluded to give up that scheme, Monsieur."

"Tut! tut! No such thing. Why, you've a master-talent,—that is, with cultivation, cultivation. A fine gift, Madam. Belongs to the public. Why," tapping his yellow teeth with his cane-head, "it's shutting up a bird in a cage, to smother a voice like yours. Must have training,—yes, yes, 'll see to that; 'n' there are tricks and bits of stage-effect; but you'll catch 'em,—soon enough. There's other little matters," with a furtive glance at my square shoulders and bony figure, "necessary to success. But you'll understand."

I saw how anxious the man was that I should accede to the proposal. I had not overrated my genius, then?

"If the thing's to be done, let it be done quickly. I'm going to run back to town to-morrow night, and you'd best go with me, and go in rehearsal at once. You can break it to your people to-morrow. I'll meet you in the boat,—that is," with an unwilling hesitation, "if you decide to go."

Jacky approached us.

"I will let you know," I said; and as he walked away, the water began its dull throb, throb, again, that lasted all night long.

All night long! Other people may approach the crisis of their fate with senses and faculties all on guard and alert; but with me, although I knew the next day would witness my choice for life, I believe that heavy thud of the water was the most real thought, trying my brain beyond endurance. I tried to reason coolly in the night about M. Vaux and his scheme: both vulgar, degrading in outside appearance,—I felt that, to the quick, keenly enough; but inside lay a career, utterance for myself,—and I had been dumb and choking so long!

A beam of light from the cabin-chandelier struck just then sharply across Doctor Manning's face, where he lay asleep in his berth. There was an unusual look in it, as Jacky had said, now that I looked closely: a blueness about the mouth, and a contraction of the nostrils. Was it a hint of any secret disease, that she had looked so terrified, and even the boys had kept such a sidelong scrutiny over him all day? I sat up. If I could go to him, put my hands about his head, cling to him, let my young strength and life ooze into his to atone for all he had lost in those old days! There was passion and power of love under my stiff-muscled fingers and hard calculating[Pg 13] brain, such as these people with their hot blood knew nothing of. It was passion, a weak fever of the flesh. I drew the sheet over me, and lay down again.

The morning was stiflingly hot. I remember the crowd of porters, drays, etc., jostling on the wharf: the narrow street: Monsieur passing me, as we turned into it, and muttering, "By six this afternoon I must know your decision": Robert's grave, inquiring face, when he first met his father, and saw his changed look. The rooms he had taken for us were but partially furnished, carpetless, the sun staring in through dirty windows, blue and yellow paper on the walls. He went out with Dr. Manning for a walk; the boys scattered off noisily to the sea-side. I went to work making a sort of lounge for Teddy to sleep on, out of some blocks of wood and staves of an old barrel, and so passed the time until noon. Then I sat down to mend the weekly heap of boys' socks, half-washed and leather-stained. Out of the window where I sat I looked down into the muddy back-yard of the boarding-house, where an Irishwoman was washing and gossiping with the cook cleaning fish over the ash-heap. This was what Life held for me now, was it? When the door was opened, a strong whiff of dinner filled the room. Two o'clock came.

"I will not go down to dinner," I said to Jacqueline, when the cracked bell rang. "I will go out and find Doctor Manning on the cliffs. I may have something to say to him."

But when she was gone, I darned on at the unclean socks. Somehow the future faced me in my work and surroundings. But I did not think of it as a whole. The actual dignity and beauty of life, God's truth itself, may have grown dim to me, behind a faint body and tired fingers; but let the hard-worked woman who is without that sin throw the first stone at me. I got up at last, folded the stockings, and put them away; then pinned on my bonnet and shawl. Teddy was sitting on the stairs, half asleep. I stopped to kiss him.

"You'll be back soon, mother?"—hugging me close about the neck.

"Good bye, Bud! Bring your father his pipe to-night, as he likes you to do,—and every night."

I strained him close to my breast again; he had a warm, honest little heart of his own; he would be such a man as his father. I gasped, set him down: I dared not kiss him after I thought of that: and went out of the hall, stumbling over the boarders' hats and greasy oil-cloth. Without, the air had that yellow stirless calm peculiar to Newport, which gives to the sea and landscape the effect of those French pictures glassed in tinted crystal. There were but few passengers on the street. I wondered if any of them held his fate in his hand as I did mine that day. Before I reached the cliffs the afternoon was passing away rapidly; the heated pavements under my feet growing cooler, and barred with long gray shadows; a sea-breeze blowing tattered sand-colored clouds inland; the bell of the steamer rang out sharply down at the quiet little wharf. In half an hour she would sail. M. Vaux was on board, awaiting me. I had but little time to spare.

I turned and crept slowly along the road to where the grassy street opened on the cliffs, and sat down on the brown rocks. I could see my husband on the sands with Robert, pacing to and fro; the scent of their cigars almost reached me where I sat. I must see him once more. The bell of the boat rang again; but I sat still, breaking off bits of the salt crust from the rock, hardly looking up to see if her steam was up. I was going. I knew she would not sail until I was on board. And I must see him again; he would call me Hetty, maybe: that would be something to remember. It was very quiet. The bare, ghastly cliffs formed a sort of crescent, on which I sat; far below, the sea rolled in, over the white sand, in heavy ashen sweeps: in one horn of the crescent the quaint old town nestled, its smoky breath[Pg 14] sleepily giving good-night to the clear pink air; in the other stood the sullen fort, the flag flapping sharply against the sky. The picture cut itself vividly on my brain. The two black figures came slowly towards me, across the sands, seeing me at last. I would not tell him I was going: I could write from New York: I thought, my courage giving way. What a hard, just face Robert Manning had! What money I made should go to the support of my child: Robert should not think me derelict in every duty. Then I tried to get up to meet them, but leaned back more heavily on the rocks, twisting my fingers in a tuft of salt hay that grew there.

I heard Robert say something about "jaded" and "overworked," as he looked at me, throwing away his cigar; his father answered in a whisper, which made the young man's face soften, and when they came near, he called me "mother," for the first time. Into the face of the man beside him I did not look: I thought I never could look again. There was a small rip in the sleeve of his great-coat: I remember I saw it, and wondered feebly if Jacky would attend to it,—if my child, when she was a woman, would be careful and tender with her father. Meantime my husband was talking in his cheerfullest, heartiest voice.

"Coming here makes me feel as if the old boy-time had come back, Hetty. Rob and I have been planning out our new life, and the sea and the fresh air and the very houses seemed to join in the talk, and help me on as they used to do then. I'll begin all new: just as then. Only now"——

He put his hand on my shawl with a motion that had infinite meaning and affection in it. The little steamer at the wharf swayed and rocked. Her freight was nearly all on deck: I had but a few moments more,—that is, if I meant to be free.

"We are going down to the hotel for a few minutes,—business, Hetty," he said. "Will you wait for us here? or are you afraid to be alone?

"No, I'm not afraid to be alone. It is better for me."

"Good bye, then. Come, Rob."

I did not say good-bye. Even then, I think I did not know what I had resolved. I thrust my fingers deeper into the wet tuft of grass, heard the long dash of the breakers on the beach, looked at the square black figure of Robert Manning as it went slowly up the sandy road into the street. At the other, taller and more bent, beside it, I did not once look. I wiped the clammy moisture off my face and throat.

"It's the woman's flesh of me," I said. "There is better stuff in me than that. I will go now, and fulfil my calling."

On the wharf, as I went creeping along, I met Monsieur. He offered me his fat little arm, with smiles and congratulations, and handed me hurriedly over the plank on to the deck. In a moment the steamer was puffing out of harbor.

I was to play Marian in my own opera. God had given me a power of head-work, skill for a certain mission, and I was going to perform it. The vast, vague substance on which I was to act was brought before me to-night, palpable,—the world, posterity, time; how did I call it? But, somehow, it was not what I had dreamed of since my babyhood up yonder in Concord. Nothing was vast or vague. I was looking into a little glass in a black-painted frame, and saw the same Mrs. Manning, with the same high cheekbones, the yellow mole on the upper lip, the sorrowful brown eyes: dressed in tulle now, though, the angular arms and shoulders bare, and coated with chalk, a pat of rouge laid on each cheek: under the tulle-body the same old half-sickness; the same throbbing back-tooth threatening to ache. The room was small, triangular: a striped, reddish cotton carpet on the floor, a door with a brass handle, my bandbox open on a chair, a basin with soapy water, soiled towels, two dripping tallow-candles: in short, a dressing-room in a theatre. Outside, wheels, pulleys, pasteboard castles, trees, chairs,[Pg 15] more bony women, more chalk, more tulle. Monsieur in a greasy green dressing-gown odorous of tobacco, swearing at a boy with blear eyes,—a scene-shifter. The orchestra tuning beyond the foot-lights: how vilely the first violin slurred over that second passage! "Life's Prophecy," I called it; and that "Vision of Heaven," the trombonist came in always false on the bass, because, as Monsieur said, he had always two brandy-slings too much. Beyond was "the world," passive, to be acted upon; the parquet,—ranged seats of young men with the flash-stamp on them from their thick noses to the broad-checked trousers; the dress-circle,—young girls with their eyes and brains full-facing their attendant sweethearts, and a side-giggle for the stage; crude faces in the gallery, tamed faces lower down; gray and red and black and tow-colored heads full of myriad teeming thoughts of business, work, pleasure, outside of this: treble and tenor notes wandering through them, dying almost ere born; touching what soul behind the dress and brain-work? and touching it how? Ah, well! "I am going to fulfil my mission." I said that, again and again, as I stood waiting. "Now. This is it. I take it up." But my blood would not be made to thrill.

"This wart must be covered," said a walking-lady in red paper-muslin, touching the mole on my lip with Meen Fun. M. Vaux tapped at the door,—a sly, oily smile on his mouth.

"We are honored to-night. Be prepared, my dear Madam, for surprises in your audience. Your husband is in the house,—and his son, Robert Manning."

I put up my hands in the vain effort to cover the bare neck and shoulders,—then, going back into the dressing-room, sat down, without a word. I remember how the two tallow-candles flared and sputtered, as I sat staring at them; how on the other side of the brass-handled door the play went on, the pulleys creaked, and the trombones grated, and the other women in tulle and chalk capered and sang, and that at last the stuffy voice of the call-boy outside cried, "Marian, on," and it was my time to fulfil my mission. I remember how broad a gap the green floor of the stage made to the shining tin foot-lights; how the thousand brassy, mocking eyes were centred on the lean figure that moved forward; how I heard a weak quaver going up, and knew it to be my own voice: I remember nothing more until the scene was ended: the test and last scene of the opera it had been: and as the curtain fell, it was stopped by a faint, dismal hiss that grew slowly louder and more venomous, was mingled with laughs and jeers from the gallery, and the play was damned. I stood with my white gauze and bony body and rouge behind a pasteboard flower-vase, and looked out at the laughing mob of faces. This was the world; I had done my best head-work for it, and even these plebeian brains had found it unfit for use, and tossed it aside. I waited there a moment, and then passing Monsieur, whose puffy face was purple with disappointment and rage, went into the dressing-room.

"What wonder?" I heard him demand in French. "It was so coarse a theft! But I hoped the catch-dresses would pass it off."

I wrapped a flannel cloak over my airy robes, and went out, down the crooked back-stairs into the street. I had no money; if I went back to the hotel where I had been stopping, it would be as a beggar.

I waited outside of the theatre by an old woman's candy-stand for the crowd to hustle past, holding myself up by her chair-back. She was nodding, for it was past midnight, but opened her red eyes to lift a little child on her knees who had been asleep at her feet.

"Come, Puss, the play's out, it's time for you an' Granny to be snug at home."

I laughed. Why, there was not one of these women or men crowding by, the very black beggar holding your horse, who had not a home, a child to touch, to love them,—not one. And I—I had my Self. I had developed that.

I pulled the cloak closer about me and[Pg 16] went down the pavement. The street was thronged with street-cars stopping for the play-goers, hacks, and omnibuses; the gas flamed in red and green letters over the house-fronts; the crowd laughed and swayed and hummed snatches of songs, as they went by. I saw one or two husbands drawing the wrappings tighter about their wives' throats, for the air was sharp. My husband had seen my shoulders to-night,—so had they all, covered with chalk. There were children, too, cuddling close to their mothers' sides in the carriages. I wondered if my child would ever know it had a mother. So I went slowly down the street. I never saw the sky so dark and steely a blue as it was that night: if there had been one star in it, I think it would have looked softer, more pitying, somehow, when I looked up. Knowing all that I had done, I yet cannot but feel a pity for the wretch I was that night. If the home I had desolated, the man and child I had abandoned, had chosen their revenge, they could not have asked that the woman's flesh and soul should rise in me with a hunger so mad as this.

At the corner of the street, a group from the crowd had stopped at the door of a drug-shop; they were anxious, curious, whispering back to those behind them. Some woman fainting, perhaps, or some one ill. I could not pass the lock of carriages at the crossing, and stopped, looking into the green light of the window-bottles. In a moment I caught my own name, "Manning," from a policeman who came out, and a word or two added. The crowd drew back with a sudden breath of horror; but I passed them, and went in. It was a large shop: the lustres, marble soda-fountains, and glittering shelves of bottles dazzled me at first, but I saw presently two or three men, from whom the crowd had shrunk away, standing at the far end of the shop. Something lay on the counter among them,—a large, black figure, the arm hanging down, the feet crossed. It did not move. I do not know how long I stood there, it might be hours, or minutes, and it did not move. But I knew, the first moment I looked at it, that it never would move again. They worked with him, the three men, not speaking a word. The waistcoat and shirt were open; there was a single drop of blood on the neck, where they had tried to open a vein. After a while the physician drew back, and put his hand gently on the shoulder of the shorter, stouter of the other two men.

"My friend," he said, compassionately.

Robert Manning did not seem to hear him. He had knelt on the floor and hid his face in the hand that hung down still and cold. The druggist, a pale, little person, drew the doctor aside.

"What is it, now? Apoplexy?" his face full of pity.

"No. Brought on by nervous excitement,—heart, you know. Threatened a long time, his son says. His wife, the woman who"——

The policeman had been eying my dress under the cloak for some time.

"Hi! You'd best move on," he whispered. "This a'n't no place for the likes of you."

I stood still a moment looking at the brawny black figure lying on the counter. The old days of Tinder and the paddock,—I don't know why I thought of them. It did not move: it never would move again. Dead. I had murdered him. I! I got my fingers in my oily hair, and pulled at it. "Hetty, Hetty Manning," I said, "good bye! Good bye, Daniel!" I remember hearing myself laugh as I left the shop-door; then I went down the street.

When I was far down the Bowery, an old thought came feebly up in my brain. It was how the water had choked, choked, all that night long in the wheel of the boat. When I thought of that, I waited to think. Then I turned and went to the bay, beyond Castle Garden.

The rain, drip, dripping on a cottage-roof: on branches, too, near at hand, that rustled and struck now and then against the little window-shutters, in a fashion just dreary enough to make one nestle closer into the warm bed, and peep[Pg 17] out into the shadowy chamber, with the cozy little fire burning hotly in the grate. Patter, patter: gurgling down the spouts: slacking for a minute, threatening to stop and let you sleep in a usual, soundless, vulgar way, as on other nights: then at it again, drip, drip, more monotonous, cheerfuller in its dreariness than ever. Thunder, too: growling off in the hills, where the night and rain found no snug little bed-room to make brighter by their besieging: greenish-white jets of lightning in the cracks of the shutters, making the night-lamp on the toilet-table and the fire suddenly go out and kindle up fiercely again.

This for a long time: hours or not, why should one try to know? A little bed, with crimson curtains, cool white pillows: a soft bed, where the aching limbs rested afresh with every turn. After a while, a comfortable, dumpling little figure in a loose wrapper, popping out of some great chair's depths by the fire and stirring some posset on the hearth: smelling at a medicine-bottle: coming to the bed-side, putting a fat hand on one's forehead: a start, a nervous kiss, a shaky little laugh or two, as she fumbles about, saying, "Hush-h!" and a sudden disappearing behind the curtains. A grave, pale face looking steadily down, as if afraid to believe, until the dear eyes fill with tears, and the head, with its old wig, is dropped, and I and God only know what his soul is saying.

"My husband!"


"Is it you?—Daniel?"

He lifted me in his arms farther up on the pillow, smoothing the blankets about me, trying to speak, but only choking, in a ridiculous fashion.

"And the opera, and the drug-shop, and"——

I held my hand to my head.

"The truth is," said Jacky, bobbing out from behind the curtains, her eyes suspiciously red and shiny, "I'm afraid you've had some bad dreams, dear. Just take a teaspoonful of this, that's a good soul! You've been ill, you see. Brain-fever, and what not. The very day we came to Newport. Uncle Daniel and Robert found you on the cliff."

"When we came from the hotel, you remember?" still pulling the blanket up, his lip unsteady.

"You'll choke her; what a nurse you are, to be sure, Uncle Dan! And the woman's feet as bare"——

"There, there, Jacky! I know,"—submissively, twitching at my nightcap, and then gathering my head into his arms until I could hear how his heart throbbed under the strong chest. "My wife! Hetty! Hetty!" he whispered.

I knew he was thanking God for giving me to him again. I dared not think of God, or him: God, that had given me another chance.

I lay there until morning, weak and limp, on his arm, touching it now and then to be sure it was alive, an actual flesh-and-blood arm,—that I was not a murderer. Weak as any baby: and it seemed to me—it comes to me yet as a great truth—that God had let me be born again: that He, who gave a new life to the thief in his last foul breath, had given me, too, another chance to try again. Jacky, who was the most arbitrary of nurses, coiled herself up on the foot of the bed, and kept her unwinking eyes sharp on us to enforce silence. Never were eyes more healthful and friendly, I thought feebly. But I tried all the time to press my poor head in closer to my husband's breast: I was barely free from that vacuum of death and crime, and in there were the strength and life that were to save me; I knew that. God, who had brought me to this, alone knew how I received it: whether it was a true wife that lay on Daniel Manning's bosom that night; how I loathed the self I had worshipped so long; how the misused, diseased body and soul were alive with love for him, craved a week's, a day's life to give themselves utterly to him, to creep closer to him and the Father that he knew so simply and so well. I heard him once in the night, when he thought I was asleep, say to himself[Pg 18] something of the wife who had been restored to him, who "was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found." But how true those words were he can never know.

I fell asleep towards morning, and when I woke, it was with a clear head and stronger eye to comprehend my new chance in life. The room had a pure, fresh, daylight look, snug and tidy; a clear fire crackled on the clean hearth; Jacky herself had her most invigorating of morning faces, going off at the least hint of a joke into redness and smiles. It rained still, but the curtains were drawn back, and I could see through the gray wet what a pleasant slope of meadow there was outside, clumped over with horse-chestnuts and sycamores, down to a narrow creek. The water was fogged over now with drifting mist, but beyond I caught glimpses of low wooded hills, and far to the left the pale flush of the sea running in on the sand. My husband was watching me eagerly as I looked out.

"I do not know where I am, Daniel."

"No, of course you don't,"—rubbing his forehead, as he always did when he was especially pleased. "There's so much to tell you, Hetty dear! We're beginning all new again, you see."

"You'll not tell a word, until she's had her breakfast," said Jacky, dogmatically, coming with her white basin of cool water.

Oh, the remembrance of that plunge of cold on the hot skin, of the towel's smelling of lavender, of the hard-brushed hair, of the dainty little tray, with its smoking cup of fragrant, amber tea, and delicatest slice of crisp toast! Truly, the woman's flesh of me, having been triumphant so long, goes back with infinite relish to that first meal, and the two bright faces bent over me. And then came Teddy, slying to the pillow-side, watching my pale face and thin hands with an awe-struck gaze, and carrying off the tea and toast to finish by the hearth.

"You can't see much for the rain, mother," anxiously. "Not the orchard, nor the stable,—but there is a stable, and hay, and eggs every morning, only the gray hen's trying to set, if you'll believe it. And old Mary's in the kitchen, and we've got even Tinder and our old peacock from the Hudson."

"Eat your toast now, Captain," said his father, putting his arm about me again.

"Yes, Hetty, it's a bit of a farm,—ten or fifteen acres. Our cozery: yours and mine, dear. It's Rob's surprise,"—with the awkward laugh a man gives, when, if he were a woman, the tears would come.


"Yes. He had it ready. I knew it before we left New York, but we wanted to surprise you. The boys all put in a little. They're good boys. I've hardly deserved it of them,"—pulling at the quilt-fringe. "I've been a glum, unsociable old dog. I might have made their lives cheerfuller. They're going West: Bill and John to Chicago, and Jem to St. Louis: just waiting for you to be better."

"I am sorry."

I was sorry. The thought of their earnest, honest, downright faces came to me now with a new meaning, somehow: I could enter into their life now: it was an eager affection I was ready to give them, that they could not understand: I had wakened up, so thirsty for love, and to love.

"Yes, Rob did it,"—lingering on the name tenderly. "It's a snug home for us: we'll have to rough it outside a little, but we're not old yet, Hetty, eh?" turning up my face. "I have my old school in town again. We have everything we want now, to begin afresh."

I did not answer; nor, through the day, when Jacky and the boys, one after another, would say anxiously, as one does to a sick person, "Is there anything you need, mother?" did I utter a wish. I dared not: I knew all that I had done: and if God never gave me that gift again, I never should ask for it.[Pg 19] But I saw them watching me more uneasily, and towards evening caught part of Jacky's talk with Doctor Manning.

"I tell you I will. I'll risk the fever," impatiently. "It's that she wants. I can see it in her eyes. Heaven save you, Uncle Dan, you're not a woman!"

And in a moment she brought my baby and laid it in my breast. It was only when its little hand touched me that I surely knew God had forgiven me.

It ceased raining in the evening: the clouds cleared off, red and heavy. Rob had come up from town, and took his father's place beside me, but he and Jacky brought their chairs close, so we had a quiet evening all together. Their way of talking, of politics or religion or even news, was so healthy and alive, warm-blooded! And I entered into it with so keen a relish! It was such an earnest, heartsome world I had come into, out of myself! Once, when Jacqueline was giving me a drink, she said,—

"I wish you'd tell us what you dreamed in all these days, dear."

Robert glanced at me keenly.

"No, Jacky," he said, his face flushing.

I looked him full in the eyes: from that moment I had a curious reliance and trust in his shrewd, just, kindly nature, and in his religion, a something below that. If I were dying, I should be glad if Robert Manning would pray for me. I should think his prayers would be heard.

"I will not forget what I dreamed, Robert," I said.

"No, mother. I know."

After that, awhile, I was talking to him of the home he had prepared for his father and me.

"I wanted you just to start anew, with Teddy and the baby, here," he said, lightly.

"And Jacky," I added, looking up at the bright, chubby face.

It grew suddenly crimson, then colorless, then the tears came. There was a strange silence.

"Rob," she whispered, hiding her head sheepishly, "Rob says no."

"Yes, Rob says no," putting his hand on her crisp curls. "He wants you. And mother, here, will tell you a woman has no better work in life than the one she has taken up: to make herself a visible Providence to her husband and child."

I kissed Jacky again and again, but I said nothing. He went away just after that. When he shook hands, I held up the baby to be kissed. He played with it a minute, and then put it down.

"God bless the baby," he said, "and its mother," more earnestly.

Then he and Jacky went out and left me alone with my husband and my child.


I lay upon the headland-height, and listened
To the incessant sobbing of the sea
In caverns under me,
And watched the waves, that tossed and fled and glistened,
Until the rolling meadows of amethyst
Melted away in mist.
Then suddenly, as one from sleep, I started;
For round about me all the sunny capes
Seemed peopled with the shapes
[Pg 20] Of those whom I had known in days departed,
Apparelled in the loveliness which gleams
On faces seen in dreams.
A moment only, and the light and glory
Faded away, and the disconsolate shore
Stood lonely as before;
And the wild roses of the promontory
Around me shuddered in the wind, and shed
Their petals of pale red.
There was an old belief that in the embers
Of all things their primordial form exists,
And cunning alchemists
Could recreate the rose with all its members
From its own ashes, but without the bloom,
Without the lost perfume.
Ah, me! what wonder-working, occult science
Can from the ashes in our hearts once more
The rose of youth restore?
What craft of alchemy can bid defiance
To time and change, and for a single hour
Renew this phantom-flower?
"Oh, give me back," I cried, "the vanished splendors,
The breath of morn, and the exultant strife,
When the swift stream of life
Bounds o'er its rocky channel, and surrenders
The pond, with all its lilies, for the leap
Into the unknown deep!"
And the sea answered, with a lamentation,
Like some old prophet wailing, and it said,
"Alas! thy youth is dead!
It breathes no more, its heart has no pulsation,
In the dark places with the dead of old
It lies forever cold!"
Then said I, "From its consecrated cerements
I will not drag this sacred dust again,
Only to give me pain;
But, still remembering all the lost endearments,
Go on my way, like one who looks before,
And turns to weep no more."
Into what land of harvests, what plantations
Bright with autumnal foliage and the glow
Of sunsets burning low;
Beneath what midnight skies, whose constellations
Light up the spacious avenues between
This world and the unseen!
[Pg 21]
Amid what friendly greetings and caresses,
What households, though not alien, yet not mine,
What bowers of rest divine;
To what temptations in lone wildernesses,
What famine of the heart, what pain and loss,
The bearing of what cross!
I do not know; nor will I vainly question
Those pages of the mystic book which hold
The story still untold,
But without rash conjecture or suggestion
Turn its last leaves in reverence and good heed,
Until "The End" I read.


"Let the wealthy and great
Roll in splendor and state,
I envy them not, I declare it;
I eat my own lamb,
My own chickens and ham,
I shear my own fleece, and I wear it;
I have lawns, I have bowers,
I have fruits, I have flowers,
The lark is my morning alarmer;
So, jolly boys, now.
Here's God speed the plough,
Long life and success to the farmer!"

So sings a certain venerable pitcher its untiring song. A brave pitcher it was in its day. A well-ordered farm lies along its swelling sides. A purple man merrily drives his purple team afield. Gold and purple milkmaids are milking purple and golden cows. Young boys bind the ripened sheaves, or bear mugs of foaming cider to the busy hay-makers, with artistic defiance of chronology. There are ploughs and harrows, hoes and spades, beehives and poultry-houses, all in the best repair, and all resplendent in purple and gold. Alas! Ilium fuit. The gold is become dim, the purple is dingy, the lucent whiteness has gone gray; a very large, brown, zigzag fissure has rent its volcanic path through the happy home, dividing the fair garden, cutting the plough in two, narrowly escaping the ploughman; and, indeed, the whole structure is saved from violent disruption only by the unrelaxing clasp of a string of blue yarn. Thus passes away the glory of the world!

Is it not too often typical of the glory of our rural dreams? To live in the country; to lie on green lawns, or under bowers of roses and honeysuckle; to watch the procession of the flowers, and bind upon our brows the sweetest and the fairest; to take largess of all the fruits in their season; to be entirely independent of the world, dead to its din, alive only to its beauty; to feed upon butter and honey, and feast upon strawberries and cream, all found within your own garden-wall; to be wakened by the lark, and lulled asleep by the cricket; to hear the tinkling of the cow-bell as you walk, and to smell the new-mown hay: surely we have found Arcadia at last. Cast away day-book and ledger, green bag and yardstick; let us go straightway into the country and buy a farm.

But before the deeds are actually delivered, before your feet have finally deserted the pavement to make life-long acquaintance with the dew, it will be worth while to ascertain whether the pitcher's word is as good as its bond. If[Pg 22] its fallen fortunes are indicative of what yours shall be,—if Arcadia blooms only in its gorgeous bosom, and will turn into an Arabia Petræa at the first touch of your spade,—better for you a pitcher of roughest Delft on board of deal than all this pomp and circumstance of lies.

Reports of societies are not generally "as interesting as a novel." Nevertheless, if one will consult the Report of the Commission of Agriculture for 1862, he will find, among fascinating columns of figures, bold disquisitions on the midge, a mirage of grapes, pears, and peaches, and uncomfortable-looking "thoroughbred" cattle, an essay, by Dr. W.W. Hall of New York city, which may assist him in forming his plans. It is not necessarily destructive of the most charming theories, but it is very definite and damnatory as to facts. Among other unromantic and disagreeable things, it asserts—and proves its assertions by still more disagreeable, because incontrovertible statistics,—that, for all the sylvan delights of lawn and bower, and the exquisite sensation of eating your own hams, the largest class of patients in insane asylums comes from the "jolly boys" and their wives and daughters; but better watch a grass-blade struggling up under the curb-stone of the sidewalk than view the fairest landscape in the world from behind a grated window. We learn also, that, in spite of his ample larder, his freedom from envy and carking care, the farmer does not live so long as the pale clergyman whose white hands he looks upon with only not contempt; but how sweet soever may be the scent of clover and buttercup, he little heeds their fragrance who lies beneath them. We are told that a very large part of our farming population have no breadth of view; that they cannot enter into a conversation beyond a few comments on the weather, the crops, the markets, and the neighborhood-news. The freshness, the beauty, the music and motion, that breathe and stir around them, can gain no foothold in the unvarying routine of their lives; but in vain do the heavens spread out their glory, and in vain the earth unfolds her loveliness, if

"A primrose by the river's brim
A yellow primrose is to him,
And it is nothing more."

To these skeletons is added, perhaps, the causal and certainly the most common skeleton of all: in this rustic paradise, this home of all the graces and comforts, the grim spectre Debt stalks to and fro, eating out the farmer's substance, and giving him in return anxiety, makeshifts, irascibility, and despair. Three homes out of four, according to this writer's estimate, suffer from the ravages of debt.

This is a general, perhaps a national view. We may come a little nearer home, and find that a closer examination only confirms the conclusions arrived at by the broader survey. Thoreau, who "has travelled a great deal in Concord," and whose keen eyes took note there for forty years, says,—"When I consider my neighbors, the farmers of Concord,... I find that for the most part they have been toiling twenty, thirty, or forty years, that they may become the real owners of their farms, which commonly they have inherited with incumbrances, or else bought with hired money,... but commonly they have not paid for them yet. It is true, the incumbrances sometimes outweigh the value of the farm, so that the farm itself becomes one great incumbrance, and still a man is found to inherit it, being well acquainted with it, as he says. On applying to the assessors, I am surprised to learn that they cannot at once name a dozen in the town who own their farms free and clear. If you would know the history of these homesteads, inquire at the bank where they are mortgaged. The man who has actually paid for his farm with labor on it is so rare that every neighbor can point to him. I doubt if there are three such men in Concord. What has been said of the merchants,—that a very large majority, even ninety-seven in a hundred, are sure to fail,—is equally true of the farmers.... Yet the Middlesex Cattle-Show goes off here with éclat annually, as if[Pg 23] all the joints of the agricultural machine were suent."

If you do not trust the testimony of books, but will turn to living men, you will scarcely fare better. One man, whose recreations have been rural, but his business civic, conducts you through his groves and summer-houses, his stone barns and his latticed cottages, but tempers your enthusiasm with the remark, that this fancy farming is sowing ninepences to reap sixpences. Relinquishing fancy farms, you go to the practical man swinging his scythe in his hay-field, his shirt-sleeves rolled above his elbows, and his trousers tucked into his boots. He shows you the face-walls and the compost-heap, the drains and the resultant hay-cocks, with measurable pride, but tells you at the same time that every dollar he has earned on that farm has cost him nine shillings. This will never do. A third farmer has inherited his farm, not only without incumbrance, but with money at interest. Under his hands it waxes fat and flourishing, and sends to market every year its twelve or fifteen hundred dollars' worth of produce. But you overhear its owner telling his neighbor that "it's a Cain's business, this farming: make any man cross enough to kill his brother!" You find this farmer racked with rheumatism, though in the prime of life,—bent with the weight of years before his time. He has lost his health just as he has improved his farm, by working early and late through sun and rain. You turn to still another farm, whose owner brings the learning of a college as well as the muscles of a yeoman to the culture of the soil. His nurseries and orchards are thrifty, his cattle sleek and comfortable, his yards broad, cleanly, and sunny. His fields wave with plenty, his granary overflows. Here, surely, you have struck into the Happy Valley. Here at last Tityrus reposes under the shade of his broad-spreading beech-trees. On the contrary, you find Tityrus in the back sitting-room, rolling his eyes in a fine frenzy over a very prose bucolic on the Condition and Prospects of Sheep-Husbandry, which he is writing for the "Country Gentleman" at five dollars a page. All the cool of the day he works on his farm, and all the hot of the day he devotes to his manuscript; and he avers with a solemnity which carries conviction, that he and his wife have come to the conclusion that they are carrying on their farm for the benefit of the hired help! He is devoted to farming; he is interested in its processes; but the men and maids get all the profits, and he supports his family by his pen. Everywhere you find one song with variations. Farmers and farmers' wives are not in love with their calling. They are not enthusiastic over it. The "smartest" of the children do not remain at home to take charge of the farm, unless impelled by a sense of duty to their aged parents, or lured by some promise of extraordinary recompense. Everywhere the farmer finds farming to be "a slave's life," "a dog's life," "delve all your days, and nothin' to show for 't," "hard scrapin' to make both ends meet." It is so unwieldly a mode of applying means to ends, that, if you must believe him, every quart of milk costs him six cents, with the labor thrown in, while you pay the milkman but five cents at your own door; every dozen eggs which he gathers from his own barn he gathers at the rate of twenty-five cents a dozen, while you are paying only twenty-two. And even when both ends do meet, and not only meet, but lap over, you scarcely find a hearty cheerfulness and sunshine, a liberal praise and unfeigned ardor, a contagious delight in the soil. "Jolly boys" in purple blouses may drive ploughs around pitchers, but they are rarely met on the hill-sides of New England. If we may credit Dr. Hall, they are quite as rarely seen on the rich, rolling lands toward the sunset.

Is this state of things inevitable? Farmers have a very general belief that it is. They not only plod on in the old way themselves, but they have no faith in the possible opening-up of any other way. Their sole hope of bettering their condition lies in abandoning it altogether.[Pg 24] If one son is superior to the others, if an only son concentrates upon himself all the parental affection, they do not plan for him a brilliant career in their own line; they do not look to him to obtain distinction by some great agricultural achievement, a discovery of new laws or a new combination of old laws; all their love and hope find expression in the determination "not to bring him up to farming." They "don't mean he shall ever have to work." Hard work and small profits is the story of their lives and of the lives of their ancestors, and they do not believe any other story will ever be truly told of the genuine farmer. And when we say small profits, we wish the phrase to hold all the meaning of which it is capable. It is hard work and small profits to body and soul; small profits to heart and brain as well as purse. But every plan which looks to better things is "notional," "new-fangled," "easier to tell of than 'tis to do"; and so the farmer goes on his daily beat, with a shamefaced pride in his independence, fostered by the flattery of his county-fair orators, yet vituperating his occupation, bemoaning its hardships, and depreciating its emoluments, stubbornly set in the belief that he knows all there is to know about farming, and scornful of whatever attempts to go deeper than his own ploughshare or cut a broader swath than his own scythe.

To suggest the possibility that all this is the result of limited knowledge, and that the most favorable and beneficial change might be found in a more liberal education and a wider acquaintance with the facts discovered and the deductions made by science, would be considered by a bold yeomanry, our country's pride, as an outbreak of "book-farming" in its most virulent form. "You may bet your hat on one thing," says the bold yeoman,—"a man may know sunthin', an' be a good minister an' a tol'able deacon, but he's spiled for farmin'."

Two words are beginning to be coupled in the newspapers and to float about in the air, whose juxtaposition is the cause of many a demure chuckle among the rural population,—"Agricultural College." Separately, the words command all respect; united, they are a living refutation of the well-known axiom that "the whole is equal to all its parts." On the contrary, so far are our farmers from believing this, that, while they acknowledge each part to be a very serious and important fact, they look upon the whole as the flimsiest of fallacies.

"Gov'ment is goin' to build an Agriculteral College. Farmin' an' learnin' marry an' set up house-keepin'. Guess Uncle Sam'll have to give 'em a hist with a donation-party now 'n' then. Agriculteral College? Yes, Sir! Well, Sir, if you'll show me a man, Sir, that's a gradooate from that College, that'll ever be seen with a hoe in his hand, I'll give him leave to knock my brains out with it! Yes, Sir! An' it'll be the best use he can put it to, Sir! He'll do less mischief that way 'n any other! Agriculteral College! Edicated farmers! Yes, Sir, I've seen 'em! Got a grist up in Topsell. Jint-stock farm. The best talent in Essex County's been a-carryin' on that farm, an' nigh about carried it off, an' themselves along with it. Yes, Sir, the best talent in Essex County, an' had the farm given 'em, an' they've sunk a thousan' dollars, Sir, a'ready! That's what I call a Sinkin'-Fund, Sir! That's to begin with. Jones is an edicated farmer. He made his cider last fall on scinetific principles. Well, Sir, I could put an apple in my mouth, an' swim down Merrimac River, an' have better cider 'n that all the way! Edicated farmin' 's a very pootty thing, if a man can be at the expense on't; but when it comes to gittin' a livin', farmin' 's farmin'. Agriculteral College! Yes, Sir, farmin' 's a hard life, lookin' at the best side. Soil's light an' runnin' to stones. But this here college stuff's the poorest kind o' top-dressin' you can give it. Learnin's a good thing. I've nothin' agin learnin', but 't a'n't the best use you can make on 't to plough it in. The only way to promote the agriculteral interests of[Pg 25] Essex County, Sir, is to keep the farmers jest as they are. Greek 'n' Latin a'n't state-prison offences, but they're sure death to pork 'n' potaters. Minute you edicate the farmers they'll be as uneasy as a toad under a harrow. What kind of a hand would Doctor Hall or Squire Smith make, to come an' take a farm alongside o' me?"

This is the way our bold yeoman puts it. Planting himself on the indisputable facts of his pork and potatoes, he regards one who stands upon any other ground as a dreamer and a visionary. He forgets that pork and potatoes are not the only facts in the world. The earth itself is a larger fact than anything that springs from it. It is the inalienable inheritance, the sole support of man. Mother and nurse, from the cradle to the grave, there comes no hour when he can withdraw from her nourishing bosom. But, by our farmers' showing, it is but a harsh and niggardly step-mother, opening the fountains of life only under enforcement. Is this reasonable? Is it reasonable to suppose that the one calling which is essential to life, the one calling on which every other depends, should be the Canaan accursed, servant of servants to its brethren? Is it reasonable to suppose that God gave us this beautiful round world, source of all our wealth, almoner of every comfort, possessor and dispenser of all grace and loveliness, yet with such poison in her veins that they alone are safe who deal with her at a remove,—she withers the hand that touches her? The ancients believed better things than these. They reverenced the Mighty Mother, and fabled a giant's strength to him who craved a blessing by the laying-on of hands. We know that a curse was pronounced upon the earth, but why farmers should be so forward to monopolize the curse it is difficult to conceive. It is generally supposed that all the descendants of Adam are equally implicated. It is not the farmer alone, but the minister and the mechanic as well, who is to eat bread in the sweat of his face. One product of the earth was no more accursed than another. Wheat and barley and corn are no more under a ban than gold and iron and timber, which all come from the same bountiful bosom; but while artificers in gold and iron magnify their office and wax fat, the farmer depreciates his, and according to his own showing is clothed upon with leanness.

Surely these things ought not so to be. Looking at this earth as the divinely prepared dwelling-place of man, and looking at man as divinely appointed to dress and keep it, to replenish and subdue it, we should naturally suppose that there would be an obvious and preëminent adaptation of the one to the other. We should naturally suppose that the primary, the fundamental occupation of the race would be one which should not only keep body and soul together, but should be especially and exactly fitted to develop and strengthen all the powers called into exercise, and should also be most likely to call into exercise a great variety of powers to the fashioning of a healthy and beautiful symmetry. Looking still further at the secondary occupations, we find our views confirmed. The shoemaker must bend over his lapstone, and he becomes stooping and hollow-chested. The blacksmith twists the sinews of his arms to strength, but at the expense of his other members. The watchmaker trains his eyes to microscopic vision, but his muscles are small and his skin colorless. A very large majority of the secondary callings remove men from the open air, often from the sunshine, and generally train one or a few faculties at the expense of the others. The artisan carries skill to perfection, the genius towers into sublimity, but the man suffers. Not so the farmer. His life is not only many-, but all-sided. His ever-changing employment gives him every variety of motion and posture. Not a muscle but is pressed into service. His work lies chiefly out-of-doors. The freedom of earth and sky are his. Every power of his mind may be brought into play. He is surrounded by mysteries[Pg 26] which the longest life will not give him time enough to fathom, problems whose solution may furnish employment for the deepest thought and the most sustained attention, and whose solution is at the same time a direct and most important contribution to his own ease and riches. The constant presence of beautiful and ever-shifting scenery ministers to his taste and his imagination. Nature, in her grandeur, in her loveliness, in the surpassing beauty of her utilities, is always spread before him. All her wonderful processes go on beneath his eyes. The great laboratory is ever open. The furnace-fire is always burning. Patent to his curious or admiring gaze the transmutation takes place. The occult principle of life surrounds him, might almost bewilder him, with manifestations. Bee and bird, fruit and blossom, and the phantom humanity in beasts, offer all their secrets to his eyes. Every process is his minister. His mental and material interests lie in one right line. The sun is his servant. The shower fulfils his behest. The dew drops silently down to do his work. The fragrance of the apple-orchard shall turn to gold in his grasp. The beauty of bloom shall fill his home with plenty. The frost of winter is his treasure-keeper, and the snows wrap him about with beneficence. With nothing trivial, deceptive, inflated, has he to do. An unimpeachable sincerity pervades all things. All things are natural, and all things act after their kind. Is it a divine decree that all this shall tend to no good? Shall all this pomp of preparation rightly come to nothing? Do we gather the natural fruits of circumstance, when the mind travels on to madness, the body goes prematurely to disease and decay, and the heart shrivels away from love and is overcast with gloom? Is all the appearance of adaptation false, and do farmers gain the due emoluments of their position? Not so. It is their fault that they do not see the life which revels in exuberance around them. In their minds is no under-draining, no subsoiling. Earth with all her interests takes unrelaxing hold of their potato-patch, but they have eyes only for the potato-patch. Accustoming themselves to the contemplation of little things, considered separately and not as links in the universal chain, their angle of vision has grown preternaturally acute. Things they see, but not the relations of things. They dwell on desert islands. For all the integrity of Nature, they fail to learn integrity. The honest farmer is no more common than the honest merchant. He abhors the tricks of trade, he has his standing joke about the lawyer's conscience: but the load of hay which he sold to the merchant was heavier by his own weight on the scales than at the merchant's stable-yard; the lawyer who buys his wood, taught by broad rural experience, looks closely to the admeasurement; and a trout in the milk Thoreau counts as very strong circumstantial evidence. The farmer does not compass sublime swindles like the merchant, nor such sharp practice as the lawyer; but in small ways he is the peer of either. We do not say that farmers are any more addicted to their characteristic vices than the lawyers and merchants are to theirs; but that they have their peculiarities, like other classes, and that the term honest is as necessary a prefix to farmer as to any other noun of occupation. We admit all this, but we believe it is the fault of the farmer, and not of his circumstances.

"His fault!" says the farmer, and say many men of whom better things might be expected. "How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the goad, that driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labors, and whose talk is of bullocks?" How? By "seeking her as silver, and searching for her as for hid treasures." For remember, O farmer! the despairing question is from below, the inspiring answer from above. It is not the Bible, but the Apocrypha, that casts doubt upon agricultural education. There is wisdom to him that holdeth the plough. Honor and health and wealth and great-heartedness are to be found[Pg 27] in the soil. Earth is not one huge incumbrance to weigh man down; it is the means by which he may rise to heavenly heights. Earth has been the mother of dignity ever since her Maker's eyes looked upon her, and the Maker's voice pronounced her very good. And "Very Good" is the true verdict. Ignorance, stupidity, and sin insist upon perpetuating the curse from which she has been once redeemed; but a blessing lies in her heart for him who has but the courage to grasp it.

What analogies have they to prop their conclusions withal, who maintain the necessary degradation of the soil? Fire, air, and water bow down and do obeisance to man. They are analyzed and recombined. They are studied with insatiable curiosity. They receive the absorbed attention of a lifetime. Daily their secrets are wrested from them. Their likings and their dislikings are forced into man's service; they are coupled in strange unions and harnessed to his chariot. Whithersoever he will, they bear him. They minister to his lowliest needs, they bend to his loftiest dreams. They have lifted him from the earth whereon he crept, and have given him the wings of the wind. Swifter than the eagle flies, swift as the lightnings flash, they run to and fro at his command. Nor has the limit of their capacities been reached. Nor has man ceased to pry into the mysteries which lie hidden in their depths. He was once their abject slave. He is now their crowned king. He will one day be their absolute monarch.

But while the three ancient elements are thus wrought into glory and honor, the fourth sister, Earth, remains a clod. They give gifts to men, but she only sears him with the brand of servitude. Every bold seeker, adventuring into their arcana, bears back his treasure-trove; but the earth only mocks her wooer, and robs him of his strength who sleeps upon her knees!

It is easy to point to occurrences which seem to prove this,—to experiments which seemed fruitless,—to plans adopted only to be laid aside,—to new modes that were heralded with great flourish of trumpets, and shuffled ignominiously out through the pantry-door. But every science and every art has had its empirical age, and every age has its empiricists. Astrology spoke its great swelling words, made its cabalistic signs, and passed away to its burial; but astronomy remains eternal as the heavens. The stars cannot tell a man when he shall die, and they shine upon the shepherd as brightly as on the sage; but they have marvellous secrets to whisper to him who watches the long night through to behold their coming and mark the magic of their ways; and by so much knowledge unfolded Earth takes her place in the skies. There was no El Dorado beyond the western sea to bestow eternal youth upon the Spanish dreamer; but there was a land fairer than all his fancy painted, to whose light the Gentiles shall yet come, and kings to the brightness of its rising. The philosopher's stone has never been found which should transmute all metals to gold; but gold itself is worthless in the presence of such truths as philosophy reveals. All the way through, no science has been pushed to barren results. A thousand errors have branched off from the central truth, and have sometimes been mistaken for it; a thousand false steps have been made for one in the right direction; yet the truth is central and indivisible, and men have pressed on steadily to reach it. Counterfeits do not annihilate the pure coin. Pretenders do not destroy faith in the rightful prince. Even failures lead the way to success. Honest, wise, persevering research has ever been rewarded in full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. And it is not to be supposed that the one science of the earth vaster and nobler than all others, the science that ministers most directly to man's life, shall be the one science to baffle his research and yield him meagre returns. We do not know what wealth the earth holds in store for us, and it is our shame and misery that we[Pg 28] so little strive to know, so little care to seek. With an ignorance for which our rich experience leaves us no excuse, we doggedly assume that we have attained the ultimatum. The earth is to us but an immense pippin covered all over with the arrogant label, "Seek-no-further."

If farmers choose to accept this label as their motto, they should also accept the consequences without complaint. If they choose to live in a rut, they must not expect to breathe the air which they would find on a hill. Many readers will remember a passage at arms that occurred in the legislative assembly of one of our New-England States. A clergyman, advocating a bill which was to help a certain class of young men in obtaining education, referred to several persons who had by assistance become men of note, but who without it would have remained "only farmers." Another member immediately took umbrage, avowed himself to be a farmer, and assured the assembly that he should not vote for a bill which was to educate young men to sneer at him! The bill failed,—whether from constitutional weakness or from this death-blow we are not informed, but are left to infer the latter. The repartee was very good as a repartee, and a respectable degree of Parliamentary skill was shown in seizing upon a plausible pretext for a foregone conclusion; but so far as the question was of principle and not of repartee, the clergyman was right and the farmer was wrong. We may exalt democracy, and abase aristocracy, and cajole people with specious phrases. Ignorance and uncouthness may put on the garb of modest merit, and worthlessness seek to veil itself by an unattractive exterior; but under never so many layers the truth remains intact. "Only a farmer" expresses with all-sufficient accuracy the relative position of farmers,—not their necessary, but their actual position. The occupation which should be a liberal profession is a most illiberal labor. The eloquence of Demosthenes cannot change facts. Farming is honorable, just as any other business is honorable, according to the amount of mind and heart brought to bear on it. Shoemaking will always be an inferior craft to statesmanship, because the amount of intellect required is less in the former than in the latter. The man who aims at the highest culture, both of his farm and himself, is aiming, whether consciously or not, at the highest rank, and he shall not stand among mean men; but he who simply delves in the dirt will find no laurels there. Fine-sounding phrases cannot give dignity to that which is in itself undignified. No amount of complaint can elevate prejudice, obstinacy, and routine into intelligence, generosity, magnanimity. Farmers themselves act upon this principle with entire unanimity, because it is a law of Nature, and not an effort of the will. The man upon whose experiments they look with utter distrust, ill-concealed contempt, and covert ridicule, whose science seems to them mere nonsense, extravagance, and recklessness, they at the same time regard with reverence, admiration, and confidence. They look down upon him as a farmer, but they look up to him as a man. They have a consciousness that he lives on another plane than theirs. They are proud and pleased to have his family visit and receive theirs. They feel that he is of a different order from themselves. And if farmers persist in keeping education and science away from their farms, if they will bring only their hard hands to the work, and will leave their brains to shrivel in their skulls, this state of things must go on. The best of materials is of no use without will and skill to work it. Matter is a sorry substance until mind lays hold of it. The world was not made with tug and sweat, but He spake and it was done, He commanded, and it stood fast. As the world was made, so must it be subdued, not by matter clawing at matter, but by the calm dominion of spirit over matter. Until intellect percolates the soil, the soil will not part with its hidden hoards. We shall have effort, struggle, wear, and weariness, but no victory. It is the strife of clod with clod.[Pg 29]

So it is that the men who grieve to bring their minds into play will never make of their occupation a profession. The people who work mind and muscle, who turn knowledge into wisdom, shall stand before kings. Those who

"Keep in uninquiring trust
The old dull round of things"

shall be hewers of wood and drawers of water to the end of the days. If farming is doomed, farmers are doomed. For here is the earth ready-made, and however much we may dislike it, it is all we have and the best we shall get. If farming must be mere mechanical labor,—peine forte et dure,—then there is a point where elevation and improvement must stop, for there must always exist a class of serfs,—serfs to the soil, slaves of their own farms; and none are more sure of this than those who have lived in a farming community, and seen how surely the adventurous spirits, the active, the energetic, the intellectual, the promising, turn away from the dismal monotony of the farm and launch out on currents of freer flow, or, if they remain at home, remain only in consequence of the continued and earnest expostulations and the fairest promises of parents, to rock the cradle of their declining years, and not unfrequently to rock it over.

But if the founders of our Agricultural College, or if any furtherers of rural education, propose to themselves to diffuse light (and dispel darkness) by appealing to farmers,—if they think to correct the evils of ignorance by furnishing special opportunities to farmers,—if they flatter themselves that they can establish a college of aims and claims so moderate that farmers and farmers' boys will not be discouraged by the time, money, or mind required,—if they design to narrow the crown that lesser brows may be circled,—they are spending their strength for nought. No college and no school can be founded so wisely and fitly, that farmers, as a class, will send their sons to it. Why should they, believing, as they do, that the district-school already gives them as much "learnin'" as they need? Boys there can "read, write, and cipher." They gain knowledge enough to reckon with the hired man, to keep the tally of the marketing, to compute interest, and to do parish business. What more do they want? Your college-men will talk about selections and temperatures, silex and fluorine; but what has all that to do with planting the ten-acre lot? Timothy and red-top grew before Liebig was born. A rose by any other name is just as sweet to the agricultural nose. Farmers who have grown to manhood with full faith in the fixity of their condition, in the impossibility of its improvement, are not to be turned right-about-face by a programme. The best patent cultivator could not root out this main article of their creed. Agricultural colleges may spread all their blandishments; but farmers will not listen to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. The academic roof may be set low and the academic door flung wide open, and the academic Siren, with new and deeper meaning, may sweetly

"Sing a song of sixpence, a bag full of rye";

but before it reaches the rural ear, it will have transformed itself into a new rendering of the fatal entomological civility,—

"'Will you walk into my parlor?' said the spider to the fly."

Reasoning is of no avail. Analogy has nothing to take hold of. Farmers do not grasp the chances already offered them; how should they be expected to possess themselves of future ones? Able treatises on breeding, instructive, eloquent, and forcible, are written and printed; but these men continue to tie up nightly their ill-favored and lean-fleshed kine, and are weekly dragged to church by loose-jointed nags wabbling over the road, head between legs. There are yearly reports, rich in suggestion, well printed, cleverly illustrated, distributed without cost—to the receivers. They will not read them. They may glance at the foreign-looking sheep, with folds of wool on his throat; they will utter a strong idiomatic[Pg 30] exclamation over the broad-sided short-horn; but they will not go beyond the limits of their own township to replenish their stock. They have not time nor money nor heart for experiments. You prove to them beyond the possibility of gainsaying that their mode is cumbrous, and, in truth, extravagant; they will assent to your propositions, admit the force of your arguments, but inevitably leave your presence with the remark, that, "after all, they think, like Gran'ma'am Howdy, they'd better go on in the good old diabolical way,"—and there, accordingly, they go. Their logic is devious, but it is always ready. It may not be convincing, but it is conclusive. The major premise is often hidden, but it is as firm as Fate.

"Parson Edwards's been round with the temperance-pledge," says one old farmer to another.

"Yes," answers the latter. "Came to me. Asked me, says he, 'Mr. Solomon,' says he, 'have you got any cider in your suller?' 'Yes, Sir,' says I,—'sixteen barrels, good as ever you see in your life, I don't care where 't is.' 'Well,' says he, 'Mr. Solomon, my advice to you is, to go an' tap them barrels, every one on 'em, an' let it run!'"

"Guess you told him you'd wait a spell, didn't you?"

"Humph! Let it run! I knew his gran'sir! Meddlin' toad! Advisin' me to throw my cider away! I knew his gran'sir!"

Whenever any amendment is suggested, some "gran'sir" or other will be sure to block the way. That he has been two generations dead, or that he has no apparent connection with the point at issue, may be indisputably proved, but it does not open the road.

Nor will the farmer's sons be any more ready to avail themselves of their college than the farmer's self. As a general thing, they have either ploughed their own furrow "in the good old diabolical way," and walk in it as their fathers walked, caring for no other, or they have acquired so unconquerable a repugnance to the uncongenial toil that they cannot conceive of any plan or process by which it can be made tolerable. To elevate farming by placing the lever under the farmers is to attack a fort where its defences are strongest. But we can apply socially as well as agriculturally the principle of a rotation of crops. Poets are not necessarily the sons of poets. We do not draw upon engineers' families for our supply of engineers. The greatest statesman of the age may come from the smallest estate in the country. So also is there no Medo-Persic law compelling the cultivation of our lands by farmers' sons. An infusion of fresh blood is sometimes the best remedy for longstanding disease and weakness, especially in social organizations. The end desired is not the education of any special existing class, but the establishment of a class fit to receive in trust special existing interests. We want our country's soil to be intelligently and beneficially cultivated. We desire that it shall be rescued from ignorance and from quackery, and placed in the hands of active intellect and sound sense. We want our farmers to be working-men, not day-laborers. We want them to be practical farmers, book-farmers, and gentlemen-farmers in one. The proprietors of the soil stand at the base of society, and should constitute by themselves an order of nobility,—but eclectic, not hereditary. Whenever a boy displays a turn for agriculture, there is a fit subject for agricultural education, a proper student for an agricultural college, whether his father were merchant, farmer, policeman, or president. You cannot make a college so mean that farmers' sons will flock into it, but you can make it so great that the best of all classes shall press in. Endosmose and exosmose are the soul of growth; either, alone, would bring death,—death on one side from exhaustion, on the other from over-fulness. The city is currently said to draw its best blood from the country. Let the city pour it back again over field and meadow, turning our wildernesses into gardens. Country and city will be invigorated by an exchange of commodities,—the[Pg 31] one giving of its nature, the other of its culture. We want no exclusiveness, aristocratic or democratic. We want intelligent men to develop the capacity of the soil. The problem is, to vindicate the ways of God to man,—to demonstrate that He spake truth, when He looked upon the earth which He had made, and pronounced it very good. It is the duty of this generation to show to the future that agriculture opens a career, and not a grave, to thought, energy, and genius. It needs strong arms and stout hearts, but there are bays to be won and worn. We want farmers who do not look upon their land as a malicious menial, but who love it and woo it, and delight in enriching and adorning it. We want men who are enthusiastic,—who will not be put down by failures, nor disheartened by delay,—men who believe that the Earth holds in her lap richer stores than gold or silver,—who are not deceived by all the grovelling that has been laid to her charge, but know in their inmost souls that she is full of beneficence and power, and that it needs only to pronounce the "Open Sesame!" to gain admittance to her treasure-house and possession of her richest gifts. We want men who are willing to spend and be spent, not for paltry gains or sordid existence, but for gains that are not paltry and existence that is not sordid,—for love of truth,—men who attribute the failure of their experiments, not to the poverty of Nature, but to their own short-sighted, rough-handed endeavor, and who will simply take heart and try again,—men who are fully persuaded in their own minds that there must be, and are fully determined in their own hearts that there shall be, profit to him that glorieth in the goad.

It is left for our country to show that manual and mental skill, strength, exercise, and labor are not incompatible,—that hard hands may comport with gracious manners,—that one may be a gentleman digging in a ditch, as well as dancing in a drawing-room. The Old World groans under her peasant system,—even free England has her Hodge; but we will have no peasantry here, no Hodges in hobnailed shoes, no stolid perpetual serfdom to nurse our vanity and pride. The very genius of our nation makes every man's manhood his most valuable possession. America professes to believe that no one can with impunity evade the decree, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." She professes to hold labor in honor; but she should show her faith by her work. She should display her children of labor, fairer and fatter than the children of kings and princes. If they are seen to be decrepit in mind and body before their time,—if they have less happiness than the Austrian peasant, and less content than the English clown, and no breadth of vision or liberality of thought or clear foresight to atone for such deficiency, we shall have to compass sea and land before we make many intelligent men or nations proselytes to our faith.

The time especially has need of men. This hour, and every hour of the last three years, ought to prove to us beyond cavil that no class can safely be left in ignorance, least of all the class that holds in its hands a people's staff of life. Our country needs all the brain, all the conscience, all the nerve and patience and moral strength, that can be commanded. Her salvation lies in a yeomanry capable of comprehending the momentous issues at stake. "More light!" is the dying gasp of a dying people. Our republican institutions are but half completed. To give every man the right to vote, without giving him at the same time the power to vote intelligently, is but questionable service. If such an arrangement were perpetual, it would be unquestionable disservice. Only as fast and as far as we keep enlightenment abreast of power are we seeing that the Republic receives no detriment. Ignorance is the never-failing foe of freedom, the never-failing ally of despotism. We have organized and successfully fought a crusade against tyranny; we are now in the full tide of our crusade against slavery; let us have one more, organized[Pg 32] and efficient, against ignorance, that the fruit of our former victories be not lost to us for lack of wisdom to use them aright.

That the people who suffer most from want of knowledge should disdain it is but natural. To see the need of teaching, men must be taught. It is this very ignorance which is the strong buttress against education. Ignorance propagates itself. It can be subdued only by force or tact, not by argument. But for men who have attained by the help of their education whatever reputation they possess to affect to question its importance is to spurn the ladder by which they have mounted to eminence. We are sometimes almost tempted to suspect the existence of a petty jealousy in members of the learned professions. It would seem as if a small fear were indulged lest a wider diffusion of knowledge and a more thorough culture among the farming classes should detract from the supremacy of others. There is certainly, among some writers, a leaning towards a continuance of present abuses for which it is difficult to account. The shrewdness of the plain farmer is pitted against the science of the scholar, to the entire discomfiture of the latter. But would the plain farmer's shrewdness be at all diminished by educating the plain farmer? Would his sharp sense be blunted by being expressed with some partial subjection to grammatical forms? Would his observation be any less close for being trained? Would his reasoning be any less profitable by being wisely directed than by running at hap-hazard? Would it not be more economical to strengthen and polish his powerful weapons, and give them honest work to do, than to leave them rough and rusty from disuse, and only brought out at long intervals to hew and hack devices for walking in darkness? If education is not the foe of legal, mechanical, polemic, nor forensic acuteness, why should it be hostile to any?

No lover of his country, who brings to this view the same clearness and sense which he takes to political or personal plans, but must hail as an omen of good the efforts now making throughout the North in behalf of agriculture and education. It is a cause for proud and grateful gratulation and congratulation, that our government is so wise and strong as to look through all the smoke and cloud of warfare, and set firm in the tumultuous present the foundations of future greatness,—that, calm and confident, it lays in the midst of the thunder-storm of battle the corner-stone of the temple of Peace. It is equally encouraging to see the States from east to west responding to this movement, consulting with each other, enlisting in the enterprise their best men, and sending them up and down in the land, and in other lands, to observe and collate and infer, that the beneficent designs of Congress may be carried out and carried on in the best possible manner for the highest good of all. So a free people governs itself. So a free people discerns its weakness and unfolds its strength. So a true aristocracy will yet develop a worthy democracy. From such living, far-seeing patriotism we augur the best results. Mistakes will doubtless be made; wisdom will not die with this generation; but a beginning is the sure presage of the end. Hesitation and precipitancy, unseemly delay and ill-advised action, may retard, but will not prevent, a glorious consummation. In these colleges we look to see agricultural centres from which shall radiate new light across our hills and valleys. They will not at once turn every plough-boy into a philosopher, nor send us Liebigs to milk the cows; but to every plough-boy and dairyman in the country they will give a new and a wider horizon. They will bring fresh and manly incentives into the domain of toil. They will establish in society a new order of men,—an order whose mere existence will give heart and hope to the farmer-lad disgusted with his narrow life, yet unable to relinquish it. They will send out to us men who have learned and will teach that the plough, the hoe, the rake are implements of[Pg 33] profit and honor, as well as of industry. They will show that the hand and the head may march abreast, and that only so can their full capacity be tested. Science will be corrected by practice, and practice will be guided by science. These men will go over the land and quietly set up their household gods among our old-time farmers. They will gradually acquire influence, not by loud-voiced rhetoric, but by the silent eloquence of rich cornfields, heavy-laden orchards, full-uddered kine, and merry-hearted boys and girls,—by the gentle, but irresistible force of kindly words, pleasant ways, ready sympathy, a helping hand in trouble, "sage counsel in cumber,"—by the thousand little devices of taste and culture and good-fellowship,—by the cheap elegances, the fine endearments, all the small, sweet courtesies of life. They will approve the beneficence and the power of the Great Mother; they will demonstrate to farmers the possibility of large and generous living; they will teach them to distinguish between the mountebanks of pretended science and the apostles of that science which alone is truth; they will give to thought a new direction, to energy a new impulse, to earth a new creation, to man a new life.


Whilst the Journal of the Oriental Society attests the presence of good Semitic and Sanskrit scholars in our colleges, no translation of an Eastern poet has yet appeared in America. Of the two hundred Persian bards of whose genius Von Hammer Purgstall has given specimens to Germany, we have had only some fragments collected in journals and anthologies. There are signs that this neglect is about to be retrieved. In the interval, while we wait for translations of our own, we welcome the announcement of an American edition, if it be only a careful reprint, of the "Gulistan" of Saadi,—a book which has been current in Asia and Europe now for six hundred years. Of the "Gulistan or Rose-Garden" there exist three respectable English translations. That of Gladwin is to be preferred for its more simple and forcible style. Mr. Gladwin has not thought fit to turn into rhyme the passages of verse with which the "Gulistan" is interspersed. It is the less important, that these verses are seldom more than a metrical repetition of the sentiment of the preceding paragraph. Mr. Eastwick's metrical renderings do not make us regret their omission. Mr. James Ross, in an "Essay on the Life and Genius of Saadi," has searched the works of his author, as well as outside history, for biographical facts or personal allusions.

The slowness to import these books into our libraries—mainly owing, no doubt, to the forbidding difficulty of the original languages—is due also in part to some repulsion in the genius of races. At first sight, the Oriental rhetoric does not please our Western taste. Life in the East wants the complexity of European and American existence; and in the writing of the primitive nations a certain monotony betrays the poverty of the landscape, and of social conditions. Every word in Arabic is said to be derived from the camel, the horse, or the sheep. We fancy we are soon familiar with all their images. Medschun and Leila, rose and nightingale, parrots and tulips; mosques and dervishes; desert, caravan, and robbers; peeps at the harem; bags of gold dinars; slaves, horses, camels, sabres, shawls, pearls, amber,[Pg 34] cohol, and henna; insane compliments to the Sultan, borrowed from the language of prayer; Hebrew and Gueber legends molten into Arabesque;—'tis a short inventory of topics and tropes, which incessantly return in Persian poetry. I do not know but at the first encounter many readers take also an impression of tawdry rhetoric, an exaggeration, and a taste for scarlet, running to the borders of the negro-fine,—or if not, yet a pushing of the luxury of ear and eye where it does not belong, as the Chinese in their mathematics employ the colors blue and red for algebraic signs, instead of our pitiless x and y. These blemishes disappear, or diminish, on better acquaintance. Where there is real merit, we are soon reconciled to differences of taste. The charge of monotony lies more against the numerous Western imitations than against the Persians themselves, and though the torrid, like the arctic zone, puts some limit to variety, it is least felt in the masters. It is the privilege of genius to play its game indifferently with few or with many pieces, as Nature draws all her opulence out of a few elements. Saadi exhibits perpetual variety of situation and incident, and an equal depth of experience with Cardinal de Retz in Paris or Doctor Johnson in London. He finds room on his narrow canvas for the extremes of lot, the play of motives, the rule of destiny, the lessons of morals, and the portraits of great men. He has furnished the originals of a multitude of tales and proverbs which are current in our mouths, and attributed by us to recent writers; as, for example, the story of "Abraham and the Fire-Worshipper," once claimed for Doctor Franklin, and afterwards traced to Jeremy Taylor, who probably found it in Gentius.

The superlative, so distasteful in the temperate region, has vivacity in the Eastern speech. In his compliments to the Shah, Saadi says,—"The incurvated back of the sky became straight with joy at thy birth." "A tax-gatherer," he says, "fell into a place so dangerous, that, from fear, a male lion would become a female." Of dunces he says, with a double superlative,—"If the ass of Christ should go to Mecca, it would come back an ass still." It is a saying from I know not what poet,—"If the elegant verses of Dhoair Fariabi fall into thy hands, steal them, though it were in the sacred temple of Mecca itself." But the wildness of license appears in poetical praises of the Sultan:—"When his bow moves, it is already the last day [for his enemies]; whom his onset singles out, to him is life not appointed; and the ghost of the Holy Ghost were not sure of its time."

But when once the works of these poets are made accessible, they must draw the curiosity of good readers. It is provincial to ignore them. If, as Mackintosh said, "whatever is popular deserves attention," much more does that which has fame. The poet stands in strict relation to his people: he has the over-dose of their nationality. We did not know them, until they declared their taste by their enthusiastic welcome of his genius. Foreign criticism might easily neglect him, unless their applauses showed the high historic importance of his powers. In these songs and elegies breaks into light the national mind of the Persians and Arabians. The monotonies which we accuse, accuse our own. We pass into a new landscape, new costume, new religion, new manners and customs, under which humanity nestles very comfortably at Shiraz and Mecca, with good appetite, and with moral and intellectual results that correspond, point for point, with ours at New York and London. It needs in every sense a free translation, just as, from geographical position, the Persians attribute to the east wind what we say of the west.

Saadi, though he has not the lyric flights of Hafiz, has wit, practical sense, and just moral sentiments. He has the instinct to teach, and from every occurrence must draw the moral, like Franklin. He is the poet of friendship, love, self-devotion, and serenity. There is a[Pg 35] uniform force in his page, and, conspicuously, a tone of cheerfulness, which has almost made his name a synonyme for this grace. The word Saadi means Fortunate. In him the trait is no result of levity, much less of convivial habit, but first of a happy nature, to which victory is habitual, easily shedding mishaps, with sensibility to pleasure, and with resources against pain. But it also results from the habitual perception of the beneficent laws that control the world. He inspires in the reader a good hope. What a contrast between the cynical tone of Byron and the benevolent wisdom of Saadi!

Saadi has been longer and better known in the Western nations than any of his countrymen. By turns, a student, a water-carrier, a traveller, a soldier fighting against the Christians in the Crusades, a prisoner employed to dig trenches before Tripoli, and an honored poet in his protracted old age at home,—his varied and severe experience took away all provincial tone, and gave him a facility of speaking to all conditions. But the commanding reason of his wider popularity is his deeper sense, which, in his treatment, expands the local forms and tints to a cosmopolitan breadth. Through his Persian dialect he speaks to all nations, and, like Homer, Shakspeare, Cervantes, and Montaigne, is perpetually modern.

To the sprightly, but indolent Persians, conversation is a game of skill. They wish to measure wit with you, and expect an adroit, a brilliant, or a profound answer. Many narratives, doubtless, have suffered in the translation, since a promising anecdote sometimes heralds a flat speech. But Saadi's replies are seldom vulgar. His wit answers to the heart of the question, often quite over the scope of the inquirer. He has also that splendor of expression which alone, without wealth of thought, sometimes constitutes a poet, and forces us to ponder the problem of style. In his poem on his old age, he says,—"Saadi's whole power lies in his sweet words: let this gift remain to me, I care not what is taken."

The poet or thinker must always, in a rude nation, be the chief authority on religion. All questions touching its truth and obligation will come home to him, at last, for their answer. As he thinks and speaks will intelligent men believe. Therefore a certain deference must be shown him by the priests,—a result which conspicuously appears in the history of Hafiz and Saadi. In common with his countrymen, Saadi gives prominence to fatalism,—a doctrine which, in Persia, in Arabia, and in India, has had, in all ages, a dreadful charm. "To all men," says the Koran, "is their day of death appointed, and they cannot postpone or advance it one hour. Wilt thou govern the world which God governs? Thy lot is cast beforehand, and whithersoever it leads, thou must follow." "Not one is among you," said Mahomet, "to whom is not already appointed his seat in fire or his seat in bliss."

But the Sheik's mantle sits loosely on Saadi's shoulders, and I find in him a pure theism. He asserts the universality of moral laws, and the perpetual retributions. He celebrates the omnipotence of a virtuous soul. A certain intimate and avowed piety, obviously in sympathy with the feeling of his nation, is habitual to him. All the forms of courtesy and of business in daily life take a religious tinge, as did those of Europe in the Middle Age.

With the exception of a few passages, of which we need not stop to give account, the morality of the "Gulistan" and the "Bostan" is pure, and so little clogged with the superstition of the country that this does not interfere with the pleasure of the modern reader: he can easily translate their ethics into his own. Saadi praises alms, hospitality, justice, courage, bounty, and humility; he respects the poor, and the kings who befriend the poor. He admires the royal eminence of the dervish or religious ascetic. "Hunger is a cloud out of which falls a rain of eloquence and knowledge: when the belly is empty, the body becomes spirit; when it is full, the spirit becomes body." He[Pg 36] praises humility. "Make thyself dust, to do anything well." "Near Casbin," he tells us, "a man of the country of Parthia came forth to accost me, mounted on a tiger. At this sight, such fear seized me that I could not flee nor move. But he said,—'O Saadi, be not surprised at what thou seest. Do thou only not withdraw thy neck from the yoke of God, and nothing shall be able to withdraw its neck from thy yoke.'"

In a country where there are no libraries and no printing, people must carry wisdom in sentences. Wonderful is the inconsecutiveness of the Persian poets. European criticism finds that the unity of a beautiful whole is everywhere wanting. Not only the story is short, but no two sentences are joined. In looking through Von Hammer's anthology, culled from a paradise of poets, the reader feels this painful discontinuity. 'Tis sand without lime,—as if the neighboring desert had saharized the mind. It was said of Thomson's "Seasons," that the page would read as well by omitting every alternate line. But the style of Thomson is glue and bitumen to the loose and irrecoverable ramble of the Oriental bards. No topic is too remote for their rapid suggestion. The Ghaselle or Kassida is a chapter of proverbs, or proverbs unchaptered, unthreaded beads of all colors, sizes, and values. Yet two topics are sure to return in any and every proximity,—the mistress and the name of the poet. Out of every ambush these leap on the unwary reader. Saadi, in the "Gulistan," by the necessity of the narrative, corrects this arid looseness, which appears, however, in his odes and elegies, as in Hafiz and Dschami. As for the incessant return of the poet's name,—which appears to be a sort of registry of copyrights,—the Persians often relieve this heavy custom by wit and audacious sallies.

The Persians construct with great intrepidity their mythology and legends of typical men. Jamschid, who reigned seven hundred years, and was then driven from his throne, is their favorite example of the turns of fortune. Karun or Corah, the alchemist, who converted all things to gold, but perished with his treasures at the word of Moses, is their Crœsus. Lokman, the Æsop of the East, lived to an enormous age, was the great-grandson of Noah, etc. Saadi relates, that Lokman, in his last years, dwelt on the border of a reedy marsh, where he constructed a cabin, and busied himself with making osier baskets. The Angel of Death appeared to him, and said,—"Lokman, how is it, that, in three thousand years that you have lived in the world, you have never known how to build a house?" Lokman replied,—"O Azrael! one would be a fool, knowing that you were always at his heels, to set himself at building a house." Hatem Tai is their type of hospitality, who, when the Greek emperor sent to pray him to bestow on him his incomparable horse, received the messenger with honor, and, having no meat in his tent, killed the horse for his banquet, before he yet knew the object of the visit. Nushirvan the Just is their Marcus Antoninus, or Washington, to whom every wise counsel in government is attributed. And the good behavior of rulers is a point to which Saadi constantly returns. It is one of his maxims, that the "bons mots of kings are the kings of bons mots." One of these is,—"At night thou must go in prayer a beggar, if by day thou wilt carry thyself as a king." Again,—"A king is like a great and massive wall: as soon as he leans from the perpendicular [of equity], he is near his ruin." Again,—"You, O king, sit in the place of those who are gone, and of those who are to come: how can you establish a firm abode between two non-existences?" Dzoul Noun, of Grand Cairo, said to the Caliph,—"I have learned that one to whom you have given power in the country treats the subjects with severity, and permits daily wrongs and violences there." The Caliph replied,—"There will come a day when I will severely punish him." "Yes," returned the other, "you will wait until he has taken all the goods of[Pg 37] the subjects; then you will bestir yourself, and snatch them from him, and will fill your treasury. But what good will that do to your poor and miserable people?" The Caliph was ashamed, and ordered the instant punishment of the offender.

It appears, from the anecdotes which Professor Graf has rendered from the Calcutta manuscripts, that Saadi enjoyed very high respect from the great in his own time, and from the Sultan of the Mongolian court,—and that he used very plain dealing with this last, for the redress of grievances which fell under his notice. These, with other passages, mark the state of society wherein a shepherd becomes a robber, then a conqueror, and then sultan. In a rude and religious society, a poet and traveller is thereby a noble and the associate of princes, a teacher of religion, a mediator between the people and the prince, and, by his exceptional position, uses great freedom with the rulers. The growth of cities and increase of trade rapidly block up this bold access of truth to the courts, as the narrator of these events in Saadi's life plainly intimates. "The Sultan, Abake Khan, found great pleasure in the verses. Truly, at the present time, no learned men or Sheiks would dare to utter such advice, even to a grocer or a butcher; and hence, also, is the world in such bad plight as we see."

The Persians have been called "the French of Asia"; and their superior intelligence, their esteem for men of learning, their welcome to Western travellers, and their tolerance of Christian sects in their territory, as contrasted with Turkish fanaticism, would seem to derive from the rich culture of this great choir of poets, perpetually reinforced through five hundred years, which again and again has enabled the Persians to refine and civilize their conquerors, and to preserve a national identity. To the expansion of this influence there is no limit; and we wish that the promised republication may add to the genius of Saadi a new audience in America.


I hear, from many a little throat,
A warble interrupted long;
I hear the robin's flute-like note,
The bluebird's slenderer song.
Brown meadows and the russet hill,
Not yet the haunt of grazing herds,
And thickets by the glimmering rill
Are all alive with birds.
O Choir of Spring, why come so soon?
On leafless grove and herbless lawn
Warm lie the yellow beams of noon;
Yet winter is not gone.
For frost shall sheet the pools again;
Again the blustering East shall blow,
[Pg 38] Whirl a white tempest through the glen,
And load the pines with snow.
Yet, haply, from the region where,
Waked by an earlier spring than here,
The blossomed wild-plum scents the air,
Ye come in haste and fear.
For there is heard the bugle-blast,
The booming gun, the jarring drum,
And on their chargers, spurring fast,
Armed warriors go and come.
There mighty hosts have pitched the camp
In valleys that were yours till then,
And Earth has shuddered to the tramp
Of half a million men.
In groves where once ye used to sing,
In orchards where ye had your birth,
A thousand glittering axes swing
To smite the trees to earth.
Ye love the fields by ploughman trod;
But there, when sprouts the beechen spray,
The soldier only breaks the sod
To hide the slain away.
Stay, then, beneath our ruder sky;
Heed not the storm-clouds rising black,
Nor yelling winds that with them fly;
Nor let them fright you back,—
Back to the stifling battle-cloud,
To burning towns that blot the day,
And trains of mounting dust that shroud
The armies on their way.
Stay, for a tint of green shall creep
Soon o'er the orchard's grassy floor,
And from its bed the crocus peep
Beside the housewife's door.
Here build, and dread no harsher sound,
To scare you from the sheltering tree,
Than winds that stir the branches round
And murmur of the bee.
And we will pray, that, ere again
The flowers of autumn bloom and die,
Our generals and their strong-armed men
May lay their weapons by.
[Pg 39]
Then may ye warble, unafraid,
Where hands, that wear the fetter now,
Free as your wings shall ply the spade,
And guide the peaceful plough.
Then, as our conquering hosts return,
What shouts of jubilee shall break
From placid vale and mountain stern
And shore of mighty lake!
And midland plain and ocean-strand
Shall thunder: "Glory to the brave,
Peace to the torn and bleeding land,
And freedom to the slave!"
March, 1864.




In these notes upon the Farm-Writers and the Pastorals, I have endeavored to keep a certain chronologic order; and upon this wet morning I find myself embayed among those old gentlemen who lived in the latter part of the eighteenth century. George III. is tottering under his load of royalty; the French Revolution is all asmoke. Fox and Sheridan and Burke and the younger Pitt are launching speeches at this Gallic tempest of blood,—each in his own way. Our American struggle for liberty has been fought bravely out; and the master of it has retired to his estates upon the Potomac. There, in his house at Mount Vernon, he receives one day a copy of the early volumes of Young's "Annals of Agriculture," with the author's compliments, and the proffer of his services to execute orders for seeds, implements, cattle, or "anything else that might contribute to the General's rural amusements."

The General, in his good old-fashioned way, returns the compliments with interest, and says, "I will give you the trouble, Sir, of providing and sending to the care of Wakelin Welch, of London, merchant, the following articles:—

"Two of the simplest and best-constructed ploughs for land which is neither very heavy nor sandy; to be drawn by two horses; to have spare shares and coulters; and a mould, on which to form new irons, when the old ones are worn out, or will require repairing. I will take the liberty to observe, that, some years ago, from a description or a recommendation thereof which I had somewhere met with, I sent to England for what was then called the Rotherham or patent plough; and, till it began to wear and was ruined by a bungling country-smith, that no plough could have done better work, or appeared to have gone easier with two horses; but, for want of a mould, which I neglected to order with the plough, it became useless after the irons which came with it were much worn.

"A little of the best kind of cabbage seed for field-culture.

"Twenty pounds of the best turnip seed.[Pg 40]

"Ten bushels of sainfoin seed.

"Eight bushels of the winter vetches.

"Two bushels of rye-grass seed.

"Fifty pounds of hop-clover seed."

The curious reader may be interested to know that this shipment of goods, somewhat injured by stowage in the hold of the vessel, reached Mount Vernon just one week after Washington had left it to preside over the sittings of the Constitutional Convention. And amidst all the eagerness of those debates under which the ark of our nationality was being hammered into shape, this great man of system did not omit to send to his farm-manager the most minute directions in respect to the disposition of the newly arrived seeds.

Of those directions, and of the farm-method at the home of Washington, I may possibly have something to say at another time: I have named the circumstance only to show that Arthur Young had a world-wide reputation as an agriculturist at this day, (1786-7,) although he lived for more than thirty years beyond it.

Arthur Young was born at a little village near to Bury St. Edmund's, (evermore famous as the scene of Pickwickian adventure,) in the year 1741. He had his schooling like other boys, and was for a time in a counting-room at Lynn, where he plunged into literature at the unfledged age of seventeen, by writing a tract on the American war; and this he followed up with several novels, among which was one entitled "The Fair American."[A] I greatly fear that the book was not even with the title: it has certainly slipped away from the knowledge of all the bibliographers.

At twenty-two, he undertook the management of the farm upon which his mother was living, and of which the lease was about expiring: here, by his own account, he spent a great deal more than he ever reaped. A little later, having come to the dignity of a married man, he leased a farm in Essex, (Samford Hall,) consisting of some three hundred acres. This, however, he abandoned in despair very shortly,—giving a brother-farmer a hundred pounds to take it off his hands. Thereupon he advertises for another venture, gallops through all the South of England to examine those offered to his notice, and ends with renting a hundred-acre farm in Hertfordshire, which proved of "a hungry vitriolic gravel," where, he says, "for nine years, I occupied the jaws of a wolf."

Meantime, however, his pen has not been idle; for, previously to 1773, he had written and published no less than sixteen octavo volumes relating mostly to agricultural subjects, besides two ponderous quartos filled with tabular details of "Experiments on the Cultivation of all Sorts of Grain and Pulse, both in the Old and New Methods."

This last was the most pretentious of his books, the result of most painstaking labor, and by far the most useless and uninteresting; it passed long ago into the waste-paper shops of London. A very full synopsis of it, however, may be found in four or five consecutive numbers of the old "Monthly Review" for 1771.

The great fault of the book is, (and it is the fault of a good many books,) it does not prove what the author wants to prove. He had hoped by a long-continued course of minute experiments (and those detailed in his book count a thousand, and extend over a period of five years) to lay down an exact law of procedure for the guidance of his brother-farmers. But the brother-farmers did not weary themselves over his tables; or if they did, they found themselves as much muddled as the experimenter himself. A good rule for dry weather was a bad one for wet; and what might be advisable for Suffolk would be wrong in Herts. Upon one occasion, where he shows a loss of nearly three pounds to the acre on drilled wheat, against a loss[Pg 41] of two shillings fourpence on broadcast-sowing, he observes,—"Reason is so often mistaken in matters of husbandry, that it is never fully to be trusted, even in deducing consequences evident from experiment itself." By which we may safely conclude that the experiment disappointed his expectations. It must be remembered, however, that Mr. Young was quite youthful and inexperienced at the time of conducting these trials, and that he possessed none of that scientific accuracy which characterizes the analysis of farm-experiments at Rothamstead or at Bechelbron. He says, with a diverting sincerity, that he was never "absent more than a single week at a time from the field of his observations without leaving affairs in charge of a trusty bailiff." He was too full of a constitutional unrest, and too much wedded to a habit of wide and rapid generalization, to acquit himself well in the task of laborious and minute observation.

His "Tours" through the English counties, and his "Letters to Farmers," were of great service, and were widely read. His "Farmer's Calendar" became a standard work. He entertained at one time the project of emigrating to America; but, abandoning this, he enlisted as Parliamentary reporter for the "Morning Post,"—walking seventeen miles to his country-home every Saturday evening, and returning afoot every Monday morning. His energy and industry were immense; his information upon all subjects connected with agriculture, whether British or Continental, entirely unmatched. The Empress of Russia sent three lads to him to be taught the arts of husbandry,—at which, I venture, his plodding neighbors who "made the ends meet" laughed incontinently. He had also pupils from France, America, Italy, Poland, Sicily, and Portugal.

In 1784 he commenced the publication of his famous "Annals of Agriculture," which grew to the enormous mass of forty-five volumes, and in the course of which dukes and princes and kings and republican generals were his correspondents. At the formation of the Board of Agriculture, he was named Secretary, with a salary and duties that kept him mostly in London, where he died at an advanced age in 1820.

It is a somewhat remarkable fact, that a man so distinguished in agriculture, so full of information, so earnest in advocacy of unproved methods of culture, so doggedly industrious, should yet never have undertaken farming on his own account save at a loss. I attribute this very much to his zeal for experiments. If he could establish, or controvert, some popular theory by the loss of his crop, he counted it no loss, but a gain to husbandry. Such men are benefactors; such men need salaries; and if any such are afloat with us, unprovided for, I beg to recommend them for clerkships in the Agricultural Bureau at Washington; and if the Commissioner shall hit upon one Arthur Young among the score of his protégés, the country will be better repaid than it usually is.

The "Practical Farmer," and other books of William Ellis, Hertfordshire, were in considerable vogue in the days of Young, and receive a little faint praise from him, while he says that through half his works he is "a mere old woman."

I notice that Ellis recommends strongly the ploughing-in of buckwheat,[B]—a practice which Washington followed extensively at Mount Vernon. He tells us that a cow is reckoned in his day to pay a clear profit of four pounds a year (for butter and cheese); but he adds, "Certain it is that no one knows what a cow will pay, unless she has her constant bellyful of requisite meat." And his talk about cider has such a relishy smack of a "mere old woman" that I venture to quote it.

"I have drank," he says, "such Pippin Cyder, as I never met with anywhere, but at Ivinghoe, just under our Chiltern Hills, where their Soil is partly a chalky Loam: It was made by its Owner, a Farmer, and on my Recommendation our Minister went with me to prove it, and[Pg 42] gave it his Approbation. This was made from the Holland Pippin: And of such a wholesome Nature is the Pippin of any Sort above all others, that I remember there is a Relation of its wonderful influences, I think it was in Germany: A Mother and two or three of her Sons having a Trial at Law, were asked what they eat and drank to obtain such an Age, which was four or five hundred years that they all made up amongst them; they answered, chiefly by eating the Apple, and drinking its Juice. And I knew an eminent, rich Lawyer, almost eighty Years old, who was very much debilitated through a tedious Sickness, on the telling him this Story, got Pippins directly, sliced them to the number of a dozen at a Time, and infused them in Spring-Water, and made it his common Drink, till Cyder-Time came on; also he fell on planting a number of Pippin-Trees in order to his enjoying their salubrious Quality, and a fine Plantation there is at this Day in his Gardens a few miles from me. This Practice of his drinking the Pippin Liquor and Cyder, answered extraordinary well, for he lived several Years after, in a pretty good State of Health."

The next name I come upon, in this rainy-day service, starts a pleasant picture to my mind,—not offset by a British landscape, but by one of our own New-England hills. A group of heavy, overgrown chestnuts stand stragglingly upon a steep ascent of pasture; they are flanked by a wide reach of velvety turf covering the same swift slope of hill; gray boulders of granite, scattered here and there, show gleaming spangles of mica; clumps of pokeweed lift sturdily a massive luxuriance of stems and a great growth of purple berries; occasional stumps are cushioned over with mosses, green and gray; and, winding among stumps and rocks, there comes trending down the green hill-side a comely flock of great, long-woolled sheep: they nibble at stray clover-blossoms; they lift their heads and look,—it is only the old dog who is by me,—they know him; they straggle on. I strew the salt here and there upon a stone; "Dandie" pretends to sleep; and presently the woolly company is all around me,—the "Bakewell" flock.

Robert Bakewell,[C] who gave the name to this race of sheep, (afterward known as New-Leicesters,) lived at Dishley, upon the highway from Leicester to Derby, and not very far from that Ashby de la Zouche where Scott plants the immortal scene of the tournament in "Ivanhoe." He was a farmer's son, with limited education, and with limited means; yet, by due attention to crosses, he succeeded in establishing a flock which gained a world-wide reputation. His first letting of bucks at some fifteen shillings the season was succeeded in the year 1774 by lettings at a hundred guineas a head; and there were single animals in his flock from which he is reported to have received, in the height of his fame, the sum of twelve hundred pounds.

Nor was Bakewell less known for his stock of neat-cattle, for his judicious crosses, and for a gentleness of management by which he secured the utmost docility. A writer in the "Gentleman's Magazine" of his date says,—"This docility seemed to run through the herd. At an age when most of his brethren are either foaming or bellowing with rage and madness, old 'Comely' had all the gentleness of a lamb, both in his look and action. He would lick the hand of his feeder; and if any one patted or scratched him, he would bow himself down almost on his knees."

The same writer, describing Mr. Bakewell's hall, says,—"The separate joints and points of each of the more celebrated of his cattle were preserved in pickle, or hung up there side by side,—showing the thickness of the flesh and external fat on each, and the smallness of the[Pg 43] offal. There were also skeletons of the different breeds, that they might be compared with each other, and the comparative difference marked."

Arthur Young, in his "Eastern Tour," says, "All his bulls stand still in the field to be examined; the way of driving them from one field to another, or home, is by a little switch; he or his men walk by their side, and guide them with the stick wherever they please; and they are accustomed to this method from being calves."

He left no book for future farmers to maltreat,—not even so much as a pamphlet; and the sheep that bore his name are now refined by other crosses, or are supplanted by the long-woolled troop of "New-Oxfordshire."

On the way from Leicestershire to London, one passed, in the old coach-days, through Northampton; and from Northampton it is one of the most charming of drives for an agriculturist over to the town of Newport-Pagnell. I lodged there, at the Swan tavern, upon a July night some twenty years gone; and next morning I rambled over between the hedge-rows and across meadows to the little village of Weston, where I lunched at the inn of "Cowper's Oak." The house where the poet had lived with good Mrs. Unwin was only next door, and its front was quite covered over with a clambering rose-tree. The pretty waitress of the inn showed me the way, and a wheezing old man—half gardener and half butler—introduced me to the rooms where Cowper had passed so many a dreary hour, and where he had been cheered by the blithe company of Cousin Lady Hesketh.

My usher remembered the crazy recluse, and, when we had descended to the garden, told me how much he, with other village-boys, stood in awe of him,—and how the poet used to walk up and down the garden-alleys in dressing-gown and white-tasselled cotton cap, muttering to himself; but what mutterings some of them were!

"Thy silver locks, once auburn bright,
Are still more lovely in my sight
Than golden beams of orient light,
My Mary!
"For could I view nor them nor thee,
What sight worth seeing could I see?
The sun would rise in vain for me,
My Mary!
"Partakers of thy sad decline,
Thy hands their little force resign,
Yet, gently pressed, press gently mine,
My Mary!"

Afterward the shuffling old usher turns a key in a green gate, and shows me into the "Wilderness." Here I come presently upon the Temple,—sadly shattered,—and upon the urns with their mouldy inscriptions; I wander through the stately avenue of lindens to the Alcove, and, so true are the poet's descriptions, I recognize at once the seat of the Throckmortons, the "Peasant's Nest," the "Rustic Bridge," and far away a glimpse of the spire of Olney.

Plainly as I see to-day the farm-flat of Edgewood smoking under the spring rains below me, I see again the fat meadows that lie along the sluggish Ouse reeking with the heats of July. And I bethink me of the bewildered, sensitive poet, shrinking from the world, loving Nature so dearly, loving friends like a child, loving God with reverence, and yet with a great fear that is quickened by the harsh hammering of John Newton's iron Calvinism into a wild turbulence of terror. From this he seeks escape in the walks of the "Wilderness," and paces moodily up and down from temple to alcove,—in every shady recess still haunted by "a fearful looking-for of judgment," and from every sunny bit of turf clutching fancies by eager handful, to strew over his sweet poem of the "Task."

A sweet poem, I repeat, though not a finished or a grand one; but there is in it such zealous, earnest overflow of country-love that we farmers must needs welcome it with open hearts.

I should not like such a man as Cowper for a tenant, where any bargains were to be made, or any lambs to be killed; nor do I think that the mere[Pg 44] memory of his verse would have put me upon that July walk from Newport to Weston; but his letters and his sad life, throughout which trees and flowers were made almost his only confidants, led me to the scene where that strange marriage with Nature was solemnized. And though the day was balmy, and the sun fairly golden, the garden and the alley and the trees and the wilderness were like a widow in her weeds.

Gilbert White, of Selborne, belongs to this epoch; and no lover of the country or of country-things can pass him by without cordial recognition and genial praise. There is not so much of incident or of adventure in his little book as would suffice to pepper the romances of one issue of a weekly paper in our day. The literary mechanicians would find in him no artful contrivance of parts and no rhetorical jangle of language. It is only good Parson White, who, wandering about the fields and the brook-sides of Selborne, scrutinizes with rare clearness and patience a thousand miracles of God's providence, in trees, in flowers, in stones, in birds,—and jots down the story of his scrutiny with such simplicity, such reverent trust in His power and goodness, such loving fondness for almost every created thing, that the reading of it charms like Walton's story of the fishes.

We Americans, indeed, do not altogether recognize his chaffinches and his titlarks; his daws and his fern-owl are strange to us; and his robin-redbreast, though undoubtedly the same which in our nursery-days flitted around the dead "Children in the Wood," (while tears stood in our eyes,) and

Did cover them with leaves,"

is by no means our American redbreast. For one, I wish it were otherwise; I wish with all my heart that I could identify the old, pitying, feathered mourners in the British wood with the joyous, rollicking singer who perches every sunrise, through all the spring, upon the thatch of the bee-house, within stone's-throw of my window, and stirs the dewy air with his loud bravura.

Notwithstanding, however, the dissimilarity of species, the studies of this old naturalist are directed with a nice particularity, and are colored with an unaffected homeliness, which are very charming; and I never hear the first whisk of a swallow's wing in summer but I feel an inclination to take down the booklet of the good old Parson, drop into my library-chair, and follow up at my leisure all the gyrations and flutterings and incubations of all the hirundines of Selborne. Every country-liver should own the book, and be taught from it—nicety of observation.

There was another clergyman of a different stamp,—the Reverend John Trusler of Cobham, Surrey,—who wrote about this time a book on chronology, a few romances, a book on law, and another upon farming. He commenced public life as an apothecary; from his drug-shop he went to the pulpit, thence to book-selling, and finally to book-making. I am inclined to think that he found the first of these two trades the more profitable one: it generally is.

Mr. Trusler introduces his agricultural work by declaring that it "contains all the knowledge necessary in the plain business of farming, unencumbered with theory, speculation, or experimental inquiry";—by which it will be seen that the modesty of the author was largely overborne by the enterprise of the bookseller. The sole value of his treatise lies in certain statistical details with regard to the cost and profits of different crops, prices of food, rates of wages, etc. By his showing, the profit of an acre of wheat in 1780 was £2 10s; of barley, £3 3s 6d; of buckwheat, £2 19s; and a farm of one hundred and fifty acres, judiciously managed, would leave a profit of £379.

These estimates of farm-profits, however, at all times, are very deceptive. A man can write up his own balance-sheet, but he cannot make up his neighbor's. There will be too many screws—or pigs—loose, which he cannot take[Pg 45] into the reckoning. The agricultural journals give us from time to time the most alluring "cash-accounts" of farm-revenue, which make me regard, for a month or two thereafter, every sober-sided farmer I meet as a Rasselas,—"choring" and "teaming it" in a Happy Valley; but shortly I come upon some retired citizen, turned farmer, and active member of a Horticultural Society, slipping about the doors of some "Produce and Commission Store" for his winter's stock of vegetables, butter, and fruits,—and the fact impresses me doubtfully and painfully. It is not often, unfortunately, that printed farm-accounts—most of all, model-farm-accounts—will bear close scrutiny. Sometimes there is delicate reservation of any charge for personal labor or superintendence; sometimes an equally cheerful reticence in respect to any interest upon capital; and in nearly all of them such miniature expression of the cost of labor as gives a very shaky consistency to the exhibit.

Farmers, I am aware, are not much given to figures; but outside "averagers" are; and agricultural writers, if they indulge in figures, ought to show some decent respect for the proprieties of arithmetic. I have before me now the "Bi-Monthly Report of the United States Agricultural Department for January and February, 1864," in the course of which it is gravely asserted, that, in the event of a certain suggested tax on tobacco, "the tobacco-grower would find at the end of the year two hundred and ten percent of his crops unsold." Now I am not familiar with the tobacco-crop, and still less familiar with the Washington schemes of taxation; but whatever may be the exigencies of the former, and whatever may be the enormities of the latter, I find myself utterly unable to measure, even proximately, the misfortune of a tobacco-grower who should find himself stranded with two hundred and ten percent of his crop, after his sales were closed! It is plainly a case involving a pretty large quid pro quo, if it be not a clear one of nisi quid.

Sir John Sinclair, so honorably known in connection with British agriculture, dealt with an estate in Scotland of a hundred thousand acres. He parcelled this out in manageable farms, advanced money to needy tenants, and by his liberality and enterprise gave enormous increase to his rental. He also organized the first valid system for obtaining agricultural statistics through the clergymen of the different parishes in Scotland, thus bringing together a vast amount of valuable information, which was given to the public at intervals between 1790 and 1798. And I notice with interest that the poet Burns was a contributor to one of these volumes,[D] over the signature of "A Peasant," in which he gives account of a farmers' library established in his neighborhood, and adds, in closing,—"A peasant who can read and enjoy such books is certainly a much superior being to his neighbor, who, perhaps, stalks beside his team, very little removed, except in shape, from the brutes he drives."

There is reason to believe that Sir John Sinclair, at one time,—in the heat of the French Revolution,—projected emigration to America; and I find in one of Washington's letters[E] to him the following allusion to the scheme:—"To have such a tenant as Sir John Sinclair (however desirable it might be) is an honor I dare not hope for; and to alienate any part of the fee-simple estate of Mount Vernon is a measure I am not inclined to."

Another British cultivator of this period, whose name is associated with the Mount Vernon estate, was a certain Richard Parkinson of Doncaster, who wrote "The Experienced Farmer," and who not only proposed at one time to manage one of the Washington farms, but did actually sail for America, occupied a place called Orange-Hill, near Baltimore, for a year or more, travelled through the country, making what sale he could of his "Experienced Farmer," and on his[Pg 46] return to England, published "A Tour in America," which is to be met with here and there upon the top-shelves of old libraries, and which is not calculated to encourage immigration.

He sets out by saying,—"The great advantages held out by different authors, and men travelling from America with commission to sell land, have deluded persons of all denominations with an idea of becoming land-owners and independent. They have, however, been most lamentably disappointed,—particularly the farmers, and all those that have purchased land; for, notwithstanding the low price at which the American lands are sold, the poverty of the soil is such as to make it not to pay for labor; therefore the greater part have brought themselves and their families to total ruin."

He is distressed, too, by the independence of the laborers,—being "often forced to rise in the morning to milk the cows, when the servants were in bed."

Among other animals which he took with him, he mentions "two race-horses, ten blood mares, a bull and cow of the North Devon, a bull and cow of the no-horned York, a cow (with two calves and in calf again) of the Holderness, five boar- and seven sow-pigs of four different kinds."

On arriving at Norfolk, Virginia, in November, he inquired for hay, and "was informed that American cattle subsisted on blades and slops, and that no hay was to be had." He found, also, that "American cows eat horse-dung as naturally as an English cow eats hay; and as America grows no grass, the street is the cheapest place to keep them in." This sounds very much as if it had been excerpted from the scientific column of the London "Athenæum." Again he says, with a delightful pointedness of manner,—"No transaction in America reflects any discredit on a man, unless he loses money by it.... I remember an Englishman, after repeating all the things that could fill a stranger's mind with trouble and horror, said, with a very heavy sigh, as he was going out of the house, 'It is the Devil's own country, to be sure!'"

The "Times" newspaper never said a prettier word than that!

Mr. Robert Brown was a worthier man, and, I suspect, a better farmer; he was one of the earlier types of those East-Lothian men who made their neighborhood the garden of Scotland. He was also the author of a book on "Rural Affairs," the editor for fifteen years of the well-known "Edinburgh Farmers' Magazine," and (if I am not mistaken) communicated the very valuable article on "Agriculture" to the old "Encyclopædia Britannica."

At this period, too, I find an Earl of Dundonald (Archibald Cochrane) writing upon the relations of chemistry to agriculture,—and a little later, Richard Kirwan, F.R.S., indulging in vagaries upon the same broad, and still unsettled, subject.

Joseph Cradock, a quiet, cultivated gentleman, who had been on terms of familiarity with Johnson, Garrick, and Goldsmith, published in 1775 his "Village Memoirs," in which Lancelot Brown has a little fun pointed at him, under the name of "Layout," the general "undertaker" for gardens. Sir Uvedale Price, too, a man of somewhat stronger calibre, and of great taste, (fully demonstrated on his own place of Foxley,) made poor Brown the target for some well-turned witticisms, and, what was far better, demonstrated the near relationship which should always exist between the aims of the landscape-painter and those of the landscape-gardener. I am inclined to think that Brown was a little unfairly used by these new writers, and that he had won a success which provoked a great deal of jealousy. A popularity too great is always dangerous. Sir Uvedale was a man of strong conservative tendencies, and believed no more in the levelling of men than in the levelling of hills. He found his love for the picturesque sated in many of those hoary old avenues which, under Brown, had been given to the axe. I suspect he would have forgiven the presence of a clipped yew in a landscape where[Pg 47] it had thriven for centuries; the moss of age could give picturesqueness even to formality. He speaks somewhere of the kindly work of his uncle, who had disposed his walks so as to be a convenience to the poor people of an adjoining parish, and adds, with curious naïveté,—"Such attentive kindnesses are amply repaid by affectionate regard and reverence; and were they general throughout the kingdom, they would do much more towards guarding us against democratical opinions than 'twenty thousand soldiers armed in proof.'"

Richard Knight (a brother of the distinguished horticulturist) illustrated the picturesque theory of Price in a passably clever poem, called "The Landscape," which had not, however, enough of outside merit to keep it alive. Humphrey Repton, a professional designer of gardens, whose work is to be found in almost every county of England, took issue with Price in respect to his picturesque theory,—as became an independent gardener who would not recognize allegiance to the painters. But the antagonism was only one of those petty wars about non-essentials, and significance of terms, into which eager book-makers are so apt to run.

In the course of one of my earlier Wet-Days I took occasion to allude to the brave old age that was reached by the classic veterans,—Xenophon, Cato, and Varro; and now I find among the most eminent British agriculturists and gardeners of the close of the last century a firm grip on life that would have matched the hardihood of Cato. Old Abercrombie of Preston Pans, as we have already seen, reached the age of eighty. Walpole, though I lay no claim to him as farmer or gardener, yet, thanks to the walks and garden-work of Strawberry Hill, lived to the same age. Philip Miller was an octogenarian. Lord Kames was aged eighty-seven at his death (1782). Arthur Young, though struggling with blindness in his later years, had accumulated such stock of vitality by his out-door life as to bridge him well over into the present century: he died in 1820, aged seventy-nine. Parson Trusler, notwithstanding his apothecary-schooling, lived to be eighty. In 1826 died Joseph Cradock of the "Village Memoirs," and a devoted horticulturist, aged eighty-five. Three years after, (1829,) Sir Uvedale Price bade final adieu to his delightful seat of Foxley, at the age of eighty-three. Sir John Sinclair lived fairly into our own time, (1835,) and was eighty-one at his death.

William Speechley, whom Johnson calls the best gardener of his time, and who established the first effective system of hot-house culture for pines in England, died in 1819, aged eighty-six; and in the same year, William Marshal, a voluminous agricultural writer and active farmer, died at the age of eighty. And I must mention one more, in Dr. Andrew Duncan, a Scotch physician, who cultivated his garden with his own hands,—inscribing over the entrance-gate, "Hinc salus,"—and who was the founder of the Horticultural Society of Edinburgh. This hale old doctor died in 1828, at the extreme age of eighty-four; and to the very last year of his life he never omitted going up to the top of Arthur's Seat every May-Day morning, to bathe his forehead in the summer's dew.

As a country-liver, I like to contemplate and to boast of the hoary age of these veterans. The inscription of good old Dr. Duncan was not exaggerated. Every man who digs his own garden, and keeps the weeds down thoroughly, may truthfully place the same writing over the gate,—"Hinc salus" (wherever he may place his "Hinc pecunia"). Nor is the comparative safety of active gardening or farming pursuits due entirely to the vigorous bodily exercise involved, but quite as much, it seems to me, to that enlivening and freshening influence which must belong to an intimate and loving and intelligent companionship with Nature. It may be an animal view of the matter,—but, in estimating the comparative advantages and disadvantages of a country-life, I think we[Pg 48] take too little account of that glow and exhilaration of the blood which come of every-day dealings with the ground and flowers and trees, and which, as age approaches, subside into a calm equanimity that looks Death in the face no more fearingly than if it were a frost. I have gray-haired neighbors around me who have come to a hardy old age upon their little farms,—buffeting all storms,—petting the cattle which have come down to them from ten generations of short-lived kine, gone by,—trailing ancient vines, that have seen a quarter of a century of life, over their door-steps,—turning over soil, every cheery season of May, from which they have already gathered fifty harvests; and I cannot but regard their serene philosophy, and their quiet, thankful, and Christian enjoyment of the bounties of Nature, as something quite as much to be envied as the distinctions of town-craft. I ask myself,—If these old gentlemen had plunged into the whirlpool of a city five-and-fifty years ago, would they have been still adrift upon this tide of time, where we are all serving our apprenticeships?—and if so, would they have worn the same calm and cheerful equanimity amid the harvests of traffic or the blight of a panic?—and if not adrift, would they have carried a clearer and more justifying record to the hearing of the Great Court than they will carry hence when our village-bell doles out the funeral march for them?

The rain is beating on my windows; the rain is beating on the plain; a mist is driving in from the Sound, over which I see only the spires,—those Christian beacons. And (by these hints, that always fret the horizon) calling to mind that bit of the best of all prayers, "Lead us not into temptation," it seems to me that many a country-liver might transmute it without offence, and in all faith, into words like these,—"Lead us not into cities." To think for a moment of poor farmer Burns, with the suppers of Edinburgh, and the orgies of the gentlemen of the Caledonian hunt, inflaming his imagination there in the wretched chamber of his low farm-house of Ellisland!

But all this, down my last half-page, relates to the physical and the moral aspects of the matter,—aspects which are, surely, richly worthy of consideration. The question whether country-life and country-pursuits will bring the intellectual faculties to their strongest bent is quite a distinct one. There may be opportunity for culture; but opportunity counts for nothing, except it occur under conditions that prompt to its employment. The incitement to the largest efforts of which the mind is capable comes ordinarily from mental attrition,—an attrition for which the retirement demanded by rural pursuits gives little occasion. Milton would never have come to his stature among pear-trees,—nor Newton, nor Burke. They may have made first-rate farmers or horticulturists; they may have surpassed all about them; but their level of action would have been a far lower one than that which they actually occupied. There is a great deal of balderdash written and talked upon this subject, which ought to have an end; it does not help farming, it does not help the world,—simply because it is untrue. Rural life offers charming objects of study; but to most minds it does not offer the promptings for large intellectual exertion. It ripens healthfully all the receptive faculties; it disposes to that judicial calmness of mind which is essential to clearness and directness of vision; but it does not kindle the heat of large and ambitious endeavor. Hence we often find that a man who has passed the first half of his life in comparative isolation, cultivating his resources quietly, unmoved by the disturbances and the broils of civic life, will, on transfer to public scenes, and stirred by that emulation which comes of contact with the world, feel all his faculties lighted with a new glow, and accomplish results which are as much a wonder to himself as to others. The pent river is at length set loose,—the barriers broken by the wear of mingled waters, and the force and the roar of it are amazing.[Pg 49]

I have alluded to the poet-farmer Burns,—a capital ploughman, a poor manager, an intemperate lover, a sad reveller, a stilted letter-writer, a rare good-fellow, and a poet whose poems will live forever. It is no wonder he did not succeed as farmer; Moss-giel had an ugly, wet subsoil, and draining-tiles were as yet not in vogue; but from all the accounts I can gather, there was never a truer furrow laid than was laid by Robert Burns in his days of vigor, upon that same damp upland of Moss-giel; his "fearings" were all true, and his headlands as clear of draggled sod as if he had used the best "Ruggles, Nourse, and Mason" of our time. Alas for the daisies! he must have turned over perches of them in his day; and yet only one has caught the glory of his lamentation!

Ellisland, where he went later, and where he hoped to redeem his farm-promise, was not over-fertile; it had been hardly used by scurvy tenants before him, and was so stony that a rain-storm made a fresh-rolled field of sown barley look like a paved street. He tells us this; and we farmers know what it means. But it lay in Nithsdale; and the beauty of Nithsdale shed a regal splendor on his home. It was the poet that had chosen the farm, and not the grain-grower.

Then there were the "callants" coming from Edinburgh, from Dumfries, from London, from all the world, to have their "crack" with the peasant-poet, who had sung the "Lass of Ballochmyle." Can this man, whose tears drip (in verse) for a homeless field-mouse, keep by the plough, when a half-score of good-fellows are up from Dumfries to see him, and when John Barleycorn stands frothing in the cupboard?

Consider, again, that his means, notwithstanding the showy and short-lived generosity of his Edinburgh friends, enabled him only to avail himself of the old Scotch plough; his harrow, very likely, had wooden teeth; he could venture nothing for the clearing of gorse and broom; he could enter upon no system of drainage, even of the simple kind recommended by Lord Kames; he had hardly funds to buy the best quality of seed, and none at all for "liming," or for "wrack" from the shore. Even the gift of a pretty heifer he repays with a song.

Besides all this, he was exciseman; and he loved galloping over the hills in search of recreants, and cozy sittings in the tap of the "Jolly Beggars" of Mauchline, better than he loved a sight of the stunted barley of Ellisland.

No wonder that he left his farm; no wonder that he went to Dumfries,—shabby as the street might be where he was to live; no wonder, that, with his mad pride and his impulsive generosity, he died there, leaving wife and children almost beggars. But, in all charity, let us remember that it is not alone the poor exciseman who is dead, but the rare poet, who has intoned a prayer for ten thousand lips,—

"That He, who stills the raven's clamorous nest,
And decks the lily fair in flowery pride,
Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best,
For them and for their little ones provide,
But chiefly in their hearts with grace divine preside."

Let no one fancy that Burns was a poor farmer because he was a poet: he was a poor farmer simply because he gave only his hand to the business, and none of his brain. He had enough of good sense and of clear-sightedness to sweep away every agricultural obstacle in his path, and to make Ellisland "pay well"; but good-fellowship, and the "Jolly Beggars," and his excise-galloping among the hills by Nithsdale made an end of the farmer,—and, in due time, made an end of the man.

Robert Bloomfield was another poet-farmer of these times, but of a much humbler calibre. I could never give any very large portion of a wet day to his reading. There is truthfulness of description in him, and a certain grace of rhythm, but nothing to kindle any glow. The story of Giles, and of the milking, and of the spotted heifers, may be true enough; but every day, in my barn-yard,[Pg 50] I find as true and as lively a story. The fact is, that the details of farm-life—the muddy boots, the sweaty workers, the amber-colored pools, the wallowing pigs—are not of a kind to warrant or to call out any burning imprint of verse. Theme for this lies in the breezes, the birds, the waving-wooded mountains (Νηριτον εινοσιφυλλον), the glorious mornings

"Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy,"

—and for these the poet must soar above the barn-yard and the house-tops. There is more of the spirit of true poesy in that little fragment of Jean Ingelow's,[F] beginning,—

"What change has made the pastures sweet,
And reached the daisies at my feet,
And cloud that wears a golden hem?"

than in all the verse of Bloomfield, if all of Bloomfield were compressed into a single song.

And yet, if we had lived in those days, we should all have subscribed for the book of the peasant-bard, perhaps have read it,—but, most infallibly, have given it away to some country-cousin.

I will not leave the close of the last century without paying my respects to good Mrs. Barbauld,—not so much for her pleasant "Ode to Spring," about which there is a sweet odor of the fields, as for her partnership in those "Evenings at Home" which are associated—I scarce can remember how—with roaring fires and winter nights in the country; and not less strongly with the first noisy chorus of the frogs in the pools, and the first coy uplift of the crocuses and the sweet violets. There are pots of flowers, and glowing fruit-trees, and country hill-sides scattered up and down those little stories, which, though my eye has not lighted on them these twenty odd years past, are still fresh in my mind, and full of a sweet pastoral fragrance. The sketches may be very poor, with few artist-like touches in them; it may be only a boyish caprice by which I cling to them; but what pleasanter or more grateful whim to cherish than one which brings back all the aroma of childhood in the country,—floating upon the remnant-patches of a story that is only half recalled? The cowslips are there; the pansies are there; the overhanging chestnuts are there; the dusty high-road is there; the toiling wagons are there; and, betimes, the rain is dripping from the cottage-eaves—as the rain is dripping to-day.

And from Mrs. Barbauld I am led away to speak of Miss Austen,—belonging, it is true, to a little later date, and the tender memory of her books to an age that had outgrown "Evenings at Home." Still, the association of her tales is strongest with the country, and with country-firesides. I sometimes take up one of her works upon an odd hour even now; and how like finding old-garret clothes—big bonnets and scant skirts—is the reading of such old-time story! How the "proprieties" our grandmothers taught us come drifting back upon the tide of those buckram conventionalities of the "Dashwoods"![G] Ah, Marianne, how we once loved you! Ah, Sir John, how we once thought you a profane swearer!—as you really were.

There are people we know between the covers of Miss Austen: Mrs. Jennings has a splutter of tease, and crude incivility, and shapeless tenderness, that you and I see every day;—not so patent and demonstrative in our friend Mrs. Jones; but the difference is only in fashion: Mrs. Jennings was in scant petticoats, and Mrs. Jones wears hoops, thirty springs strong.

How funny, too, the old love-talk! "My beloved Amanda, the charm of your angelic features enraptures my regard." It is earnest; but it's not the way those things are done.

And what visions such books recall of the days when they were read,—the girls in pinafores,—the boys in roundabouts,—the elders looking languishingly on, when the reader comes to tender passages! And was not a certain Mary[Pg 51] Jane another Ellinor? And was not Louisa (who lived in the two-story white house on the corner) another Marianne,—gushing, tender? Yes, by George, she was! (that was the form our boyish oaths took).

And was not the tall fellow who offered his arm to the girls so gravely, and saw them home from our evening visits so cavalierly,—was he not another gay deceiver,—a Lothario, a Willoughby? He could kiss a girl on the least provocation; he took pay out, for his escort, that way. It was wonderful,—the fellow's effrontery. It never forsook him. I do not know about the romance in his family; but he went into the grocery-line, and has become a contractor now, enormously rich. He offers his arm to Columbia, who wishes to get home before dark; and takes pay in rifling her of golden kisses. Yes, by George, he does!


[A] By an odd coincidence, I observe that Washington made one of his first shipments of tobacco (after his marriage with Mrs. Custis) upon a vessel called "The Fair American." Did the ship possibly give a name to the novel, or the novel a name to the ship?

[B] Practical Farmer, by William Ellis. London, 1759.

[C] The eminent geologist, Robert Bakewell, who lived many years later, wrote of the "Influence of the Soil on Wool," and for that reason, perhaps, is frequently confounded by agricultural writers with the great breeder.

[D] Third volume Statistics, p. 598.

[E] Dated December, 1796. Sparks's Life and Letters, Vol. XII. p. 328.

[F] A poetess whose merits, as it seems to me, are, as yet, only half acknowledged.

[G] Sense and Sensibility.


Had the question been asked, forty years ago, what country, beside our own, possesses the greatest natural advantages, and gives the best promise of future growth and prosperity, very likely the answer would have been, Mexico, which had then just thrown off the Spanish yoke and achieved national independence. Cast aside for a moment all modern ideas, derived from her known weakness and anarchy, and see how great and manifold those apparent advantages and prospects were.

Situated where the continent of North America is narrowing from the immense breadths of the United States and British America to that thread of communication between continents, the Isthmus of Panama, on the one side its shores are washed by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for more than sixteen hundred miles, and on the other by the tranquil Pacific for four thousand more. Yet the distance from her great eastern port, Vera Cruz, to the old Spanish treasure-depot, Acapulco, on the western coast, was not, as the bird flies, more than three hundred miles: a distance scarcely greater than that from Boston to New York, and which, with modern means of transit, might be traversed between sunrise and sunset. Thus with one hand she seemed ready to grasp the wealth of the Indies, while with the other she welcomed all the products of European skill. This wonderful geographical advantage had, indeed, been rendered futile in the past by the jealous spirit and the exclusive enactments of her oppressor. But what might not be hoped in the future from a free people, quickened into fresh life by the breath of liberty?

Then the marvellous resources of every description which Nature had crowded into her soil. Perhaps there is not on the whole earth another strip of country, extending north and south only a thousand miles and varying in width from one to five hundred miles, where side by side are all climates and all their products. On the coasts the land is low, hot, vaporous, and luxuriant,—the native home of the richest tropical growths. Travel inland but a few leagues, and you rise to a greater elevation, and find yourself beneath almost Italian skies and inhaling Italian airs; while all around is a new vegetation,—the vine, the olive, the tobacco, the banana, itself perhaps the most prolific and nourishing of all plants, and which, on the space where Indian corn would sustain but three human lives, will nourish with its free bounty more than fifty. A few miles more, and you stand on that great plateau, elevated with but little variation six or seven thousand feet[Pg 52] above the level of the sea, and stretching on every side we know not over how many hundred thousands of square miles. There, under the tropics and beneath a tropical sun, is a temperate atmosphere, cool, salubrious, and bracing. There, almost within sight of the deadly miasma of the coast, is a new climate, which deals kindly even with a European constitution. There all the great cereals of the North, the wheat, the barley, the corn, come to their most luxuriant perfection. And so it is literally true, that, travelling a few hundred miles from Gulf to Ocean, you pass through more climates and see a wider variety of vegetation than if you traversed our whole country from the great lakes in the North to the southernmost cape of Florida. Nay, so striking is this contact of the zones, that in that table-land itself are, it is said, deep valleys, where with one glance the eye may behold far up the deep shades of the pine, while below waves the feathery grace of the palm,—or where one may walk amid familiar waving grain, and see beneath him, descending in beautiful gradation, the corn, the olive, the sugar-cane, down to depths where a torrid clime lavishes its full wealth of verdure.

Here, too, is the true Ophir; here, the rivers that roll down their yellow sands. For here are the veins of gold that attracted the Spaniard with his fatal greed, and the mines of silver that for three hundred years have been yielding untold treasures, and to-day are as ready as ever to yield untold treasures more. With such germs of wealth hidden in her soil, what was needed to make Mexico one of the master-nations but men? What, to crowd her ports with ships, to make her borders pleasant with the hum of industry, and to fill her storehouses with its products, but the same sagacity and energy which have made the sterile hills of New England populous, and which are now transforming the prairies of the West into one broad cornfield? Was it surprising, then, that fifty years ago men were dreaming great things of Mexico?

And it will not be denied that into men's estimate of her future some elements of romance entered, to blind their eyes and to distort their judgment. This was the land of Cortés and Montezuma. Here it was that the Spaniard, fresh from the conquest of fair Granada, found in the depths of the New World a barbarian civilization which mocked the pomp and luxury of the Moor. Here, on these plains, beneath these mountains, on the bosom of these tranquil lakes, was transacted that marvellous episode in history, which, on the pages of Prescott, looks like the creations of the fabled Genii. Here an aboriginal race rose to more than aboriginal splendor; and here, beneath the conqueror's heel, they sank to unsounded depths of misery and servitude. He must have a prosaic nature to whom the memories and associations of such a land do not come glowing with the warm flush of sentiment and romance.

There was much, too, in the long and bitter struggle by which this people were winning their independence, which appealed to the sympathy of men who had just achieved their own freedom. Very likely, as we read now the history of that struggle,—as we see how little of any broad and generous patriotism entered into it,—as we mark how every step was stained with blood and darkened by cruel passions,—as we behold on every field the selfish ambition of petty men taking the place of the self-devotion of great souls, it will not look heroic. But it did once. Men saw it from afar off. They beheld in it the ancient conflict between liberty and oppression. It was the time-worn story, of men in poverty, of men in exile, of men dying for freedom.

Thus, from one cause or another, from reasons of utility or from reasons of sentiment and imagination, it is certain that many cherished the highest hopes for Mexico, and saw before her a long future of rare prosperity and honor. "It is to Mexico," writes a glowing admirer, "that we turn and turn again with fond delight. We invoke the reader to ponder her present position, her capacity for future[Pg 53] greatness, the career she has yet to commence and run. We look toward her, and we see the day-spring of a glorious national existence arising within her bounds."

When we look at this picture, drawn by hope and fancy, and then turn to the reality,—when we see Mexico as she is, the blankest failure of the century,—when we run over her forty years of anarchy, with its four constitutions and twenty-seven plans of government, with its bewildering array of presidents and dictators that come and go until the eye is wearied and the memory fails to preserve even their names,—when we behold her the helpless victim of any power that chooses to assail her,—when, in short, we compare the Mexico that is with the Mexico that was to be,—we ask ourselves, What are the causes which have made so many advantages worse than futile?—what fate has ordained that so much sacrifice and so much blood should be lavished, and in vain? That is the very question we seek to answer.

We begin with what is the true foundation of all national fortunes, the character and social relations of the people. It is the profound remark of a profound man, that "you can create no national spirit where no nation is." That is at the root of Mexico's troubles. She is not in any proper sense a nation. All her sufferings have not as yet moulded her diverse elements into any real and efficient unity. Modern Mexico, dating from the Conquest, was founded, not upon social unity, but upon the widest social divergence. At one end of the scale, high up in luxury and pride, was the Spanish Conqueror and oppressor. At the other, deep down as degradation could go, the crushed and cowering descendant of the native races. Between them the half-bloods, with the vices of both and the virtues of neither. The Spaniard did all that he could to dig deep and broad this gulf of separation between the classes, and to make it perpetual. As if to stamp inequality in biting phrase upon men's speech, he called the whites people with reason, the Indians people without reason.

Look, then, first at the condition of the native races under this Colonial authority. In the beginning, they were literally slaves, bound to the withering toil of the mines. Then they became serfs, mere appendages to estates. And when the progress of light swept away this institution, and gave them a nominal freedom, still they were in the eye of the law in a state of perpetual minority. They were simply grown-up children. They were confined in villages, out of which they could not go, and into which the white could not come. They were held to be incapable of making contracts above a sum equal to five of our dollars. The very men who were set to watch over their interests, by enticing them into debts which they would not pay, changed their legal freedom into a peonage, which was actual, and too often life-long, slavery. Says Chevalier,—"These functionaries acquired for themselves troops of slaves. They constituted themselves arbitrarily creditors of the Indians by forcing them to buy, at unreasonable prices, horses, mules, and clothing. The Indians, never being able to pay, were forced to work for them, and this obligation to work, or, to speak more clearly, this servitude, once contracted, was easily made perpetual." Here, then, we have in Colonial Mexico, at the foundation of the State, the Indian, whom oppression had made but half a man.

Just above them were the half-bloods. These were not slaves. They were not serfs. They were not considered to be children of a larger growth. It was expressly said of them that they were "rational people." But they had burdens of their own. Having little social position and less education, incapable by nature of that sullen patience which kept the Indian from chafing under his yoke, they were both more unhappy and more demoralized. The crimes against property, the robberies on the highway, could for the most part be traced to the half-breeds.[Pg 54] "Are there any robbers on this route?" asked Baron Deffandis, as he travelled in the North of Mexico. "Oh, no!" was the answer; "you have nothing to fear; in this part of the country there are no rational people,"—the speaker remaining all unconscious of the bitter satire which was hidden in his words.

Above the half-bloods were the Creoles, the children of white parents and born in the Colony. Even they were doomed to feel the sting of inferiority. They had no real political liberty, and no place in the State. No royal trust was ever committed to them. The places of public emolument were closed against them. All were reserved for Spaniards, born in Spain. Of fifty-six Mexican viceroys but one was a Creole, and he a Creole of Peru. It is the boast of a Frenchman, that in his country, in its most despotic days, the people have always had their songs, and that their writers have dared to breathe forth their maledictions upon the oppression which has loaded them with exactions. But in Spain and her colonies the Inquisition weighed heavily upon free speech, and enforced upon all the higher subjects of human thought a silence like the grave. The Creole scarcely knew that there was any world beyond his horizon, or that there could be a better than his empty and barren life; or if he did know more, he must keep that knowledge in the solitude of his own breast. All that the Spaniard vouchsafed to him was the liberty to achieve wealth, which opened to him no career of usefulness and distinction. At most, he loaded himself with cheap decorations, to which there was no answering position of responsibility. "One is surprised," says a tourist, "to see all the traders turned into colonels and captains, and to find officers of the militia in full uniform, and decorated with the badge of the order of Charles III., seated in their shops, weighing out sugar, coffee, and vanilla." But as for any real distinction, the Creole had none. These empty titles sufficed to separate him in feeling yet more from the great mass of his countrymen, but they did not satisfy those aspirations for real dignity and freedom which cannot quite die out in any breast.

We see, then, what a fatal legacy the mother-country left to her rebellious child: four castes,—the Spaniard, hated by all; the Creole, proud, hospitable, and brave, but by his very training incapable of persistent energy; the half-breed, wild and untamable, a natural brigand and guerrilla; and the Indian, subdued, sad, and patient, yet with a drop of the fierce and cruel blood of his Aztec progenitor coursing in his veins.

The first act in the drama of the Mexican Revolution showed how great an obstacle to national unity this sentiment of caste was. When the priest Hidalgo in the year 1810 raised the standard of rebellion, though the Creole heart was throbbing almost to bursting with the desire for freedom, yet the Creole population nearly in a body sided with the Government. Do you ask why? The answer is simple. Hidalgo's followers were Indians. And all through that prolonged struggle of ten years under Morelos, Vittoria, Teran, and countless other partisan leaders, even to that hour when the rebellion was extinguished in its own blood, it was the Creole who stood between the Spaniard and destruction, and who, through his fear and jealousy of the native races, was the accomplice in binding heavier chains on his own limbs. When in 1820 the revolt passed out of the hand of the Indian into that of the native white, the struggle was over. The hundred thousand foreigners were impotent, when they stood alone.

We do not say that this jealousy and dislike have not been greatly modified by the lapse of years and by the endurance of common sufferings. No doubt there has been a great improvement. There would be small hope for the country, if it were not so. But these feelings have not by any means been altogether eradicated. An intelligent writer, as lately as last year, speaking of the difficulties which the Liberal Government, now overthrown[Pg 55] by the French, had to encounter, says that they were not a little aggravated by the fact that Benito Juarez, its head, was an Indian. Though he was one of the most remarkable men who have risen to power, the haughty Creole could not brook the thought that an Indian should climb from his adobe hut to be the first personage in the State. Nor is the fire quite quenched in the Indian's breast. Under a grave taciturnity he hides burning memories. An acute observer of the native character remarks,—"I have myself frequently heard Indians, when their ordinary reserve has been overcome by spirituous liquors, declare that they were the true owners of the soil, and all others foreign intruders,—and that, if the Creoles could expel the Spaniards, they themselves had a far better right to expel the Creoles." We say, then, emphatically, that the first and perhaps the greatest cause of Mexican anarchy is that the Mexicans are not as yet a people. Their diverse elements have not as yet been fused into a living and conscious nationality.

Another striking cause is the popular ignorance. We are coming more and more to understand that it is not enough to have the shape and thews of a man,—that, to be fit for freedom, or long to retain it, a people must have mental and moral intelligence sufficient to teach them self-control, and to enable them to judge wisely of public men and public measures. Now in Mexico there is very little of the regulating force of a just popular sentiment. You never catch the thunder of the people's voice, before whose majesty base men and base plans must bow. This destitution is not a matter of chance. It is another fatal legacy of the mother-country. Spain steadily resisted all generous culture of her colonists. She did not hesitate to declare that it was not expedient that learning should become general in America. A viceroy said, with more bluntness than courtesy, that "in America education ought always to be confined to the Catechism." Under one pretence or another, a college established for the instruction of Indians, in the better days of Spanish domination, was broken, up. No book was permitted to be printed in Mexico, or to be imported from abroad, without the consent both of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. Under this rule the actual literature of the country was sufficiently dry and barren. A bishop writes that the deplorable condition of the Indians has produced such sluggishness of mind and such absolute indifference and apathy, that they have no feelings either of hope or of fear. And he predicted the very results, which then were prophecy, but now are history.

How entire this ignorance was, when the colonial tie was sundered, we cannot definitely determine. But we have the testimony of one who had ample opportunity for observation, and who made the most extended personal inquiries, that, twenty-five years afterwards, only two per cent. of the Indians, and only twenty per cent. of the whites and half-breeds, could read and write; and in 1856, actual statistics showed that but one in thirty-seven attended school. When we consider that in Massachusetts one in every five and a third of our population enjoys school-privileges, we shall comprehend how large a portion of the youth of Mexico are even now growing up in utter ignorance.

One of the direct results of this popular ignorance is, that the conduct of affairs has virtually passed out of the hands of the people. To a considerable extent, it may be affirmed that the strifes which divide and desolate Mexico do not rise to the dignity of civil wars. They are not so much the conflicts of a divided people as the disgraceful brawls of ambitious demagogues and their adherents. Every traveller notes with astonishment how little these great changes, which ought to stir to its depths the national heart, ruffle even the surface of society,—how the great mass sit undisturbed, while events big with importance are transacted before their eyes,—how a few ambitious[Pg 56] leaders, or a few military chieftains, with their mercenary bands, are permitted to uphold or betray, to advance or trample under foot, great principles which with us excite every mind and arouse every heart. We believe it to be strictly true that a large portion of the Mexican people have not enough mental and moral activity to take an interest of any kind in these desolating wars,—much less to exercise that repressing influence by which the criminal ambition of the few must bow to the rights of the many. There could not be a worse sign. Popular ignorance, therefore, leading to popular apathy, must be put down among the influential causes of Mexican sorrows.

A third cause is that indifference to blood which appears to be characteristic of the Mexican people, or at least of that portion of them who have concerned themselves with public commotions. Some terrible elements have entered into this Mexican stock. The Spaniard, one of its sources, has written his name in blood in the history both of the Old and the New World. Whether hunting out the remnants of the unhappy Moriscos from the fastnesses of their native hills,—or torturing the Jews in the dungeons of his Inquisition,—or with lust and murder filling to the brim the cup of horror and misery for the captive cities of Holland,—or exterminating, in the pitiless labor of the mines, the peaceful aborigines of San Domingo,—or with Cortés putting to slaughter a whole city on mere suspicion,—everywhere the Spaniard has recorded great deeds with a pen of iron dipped in blood. And the Aztec, the other source of that stock, had, if we are to credit his conqueror, a cruel and merciless side to his character, which made him the peer of his oppressor.

The Mexican Revolution had its horrible chapters. And impartial truth demands that we should say that both sides made fearful contributions to those chapters. Hidalgo, the first popular leader, wrote to his lieutenant these terrible words:—"If you suspect your prisoners of entertaining restless or seditious ideas, bury them in oblivion at once by putting them to death in some secret and solitary place, where their fate may remain forever unknown." His practical commentary was a permission to his followers to slay every white whom they could find in the first stronghold which they stormed, and afterwards many a midnight execution in the gloomy ravines of the mountains. On the other hand, Calleja, the King's general, boasts that after the Battle of Aculco he put to death five thousand insurgents in cold blood. And Iturbide, then a Government general, writes, under date, "Good-Friday, 1814, In honor of the day I have just ordered three hundred excommunicated wretches to be shot":—a missive in which we know not which to admire most, the hideous brevity, the blasphemy, or the cruelty. One act of noble clemency stands out in peculiar sweetness from this background of horror. When Morelos had given to his lieutenant, Bravo, three hundred of the King's soldiers to be used as a ransom for his father, who was a prisoner in the hands of the Royalists, and when the viceroy, Venegas, scornfully rejected the offer, and ordered his victim to immediate execution, Bravo instantly set at liberty the soldiers:—"For I would wish," he said, "to put it out of my own power to avenge on them the death of a parent, lest, in the first moments of grief, the temptation should prove irresistible." The experiences of the Texan War, whose massacre of Alamo was the battle-cry of the borderers in all succeeding conflicts, and whose martyrdom at Goliad, where three hundred and fifty unarmed prisoners, trusting in the pledged faith of their captors, were led out in squads and shot, would seem to show that the tendencies of Mexican leaders and soldiers had not greatly changed in later times. What can result from such examples but utter carelessness of human life? But to destroy among any people the sacredness of life is to erase one of the safeguards of peace and order. The nation which does[Pg 57] not shrink from carnage, which is not ready to sacrifice everything but principle to avert it, will be the nation of all others to risk everything, honor, safety, social stability, for a whim. Beyond a doubt, too great indifference to blood has been a fertile source of unnecessary agitations, and so of weakness and anarchy.

We have postponed to this stage of our inquiry the consideration of that rock upon which the Mexican State has finally split,—party-spirit. During the forty stormy years of its existence, that ancient conflict, ever old and ever new, between conservatism and radicalism, has been going on. A statistician records that Mexico has had twenty-seven new constitutions, or at least modifications of old ones, or final plans of settlement. It has been too much the custom to talk of these as though they were utterly meaningless. They are full of meaning. They mark the flux and reflux of this great battle. They stand for the victories or defeats of one or the other of these great principles.

It is not probable, that, at the outset of the Revolution, the Creoles had any thought of separating from the mother-country. They professed the greatest loyalty. And they proved it by unshaken fidelity on many a bloody field. Their only request was, that some constitutional features might mitigate the despotism under which they groaned. Even after eleven years' struggle, what they settled upon was a limited monarchy, with the King's son at its head,—or, if he refused, then some scion of another royal house. And even when this project failed, they raised to the vacant throne their own general, Iturbide. So strong in the beginning was the element of conservatism, or reaction, as they term it now, in Mexican affairs.

In 1823, however, the Liberal party obtained the supremacy, and under the lead of Santa Aña, who then first came into prominence, drove Iturbide from the throne, and put into operation a constitution patterned after our own. It is not too much to say, that, from that day to the hour when the allied troops landed at Vera Cruz, the conflict between two parties, two principles, two methods of government, has been waged with ever increasing bitterness and ever changing fortunes. It is probable that the Liberals have always been numerically the stronger. But the reactionary party has had its advantages. The rich and aristocratic have been with it. To a great extent the army, ever partial to the iron hand, has given it the support of its great power. And the Church, which has possessed perhaps one-quarter of the whole wealth of the country, and whose income has often far exceeded that of the State, has always plotted for the downfall of the Liberals.

In 1835 the power of these combined forces was so great that they were able to overthrow the constitution of 1824, and put into operation a new one on the plan of centralization. By this plan all federal representation ceased, and popular freedom was subject to unaccustomed restraints. The most noteworthy fact connected with this change was the Texan Rebellion, and consequent upon it our own Mexican War. But of these we shall speak hereafter. It was not until 1857 that the Liberals won back all that they had lost,—and more; for they replaced the old constitution by a new and freer one, and, as if by one stroke to inflict a final blow upon their adversaries, decreed the confiscation of all Church property. The Reactionists had at least vitality enough to make a death-struggle. Leagued with the army, they drove Comonfort from the presidency, and his party from the city of Mexico. For three years there were two presidents and two sets of officers of all sorts, and a civil war. The Liberals, under the Indian Benito Juarez, held Vera Cruz and the larger part of the country. At the end of this period the Liberal chieftain, with an unexpected energy, drove the opposing party out of the city of Mexico, and its leaders into exile, carried into effect the decree for the confiscation of Church property,[Pg 58] and wellnigh crushed out organized resistance.

Not only, then, did this sorely tried Republic begin its precarious existence with a people wholly unapt for freedom and embittered by caste-feeling, but, from the outset, it was so divided by a broad gulf of political dissension, that the whole body politic has ever since been in reality cloven asunder.

We have omitted from their proper place the Texan War and its consequences, which in their turn have done more than any one cause to weaken and dishonor Mexico,—not so much because they took away from her valuable districts as because they advertised to the whole world what feebleness was behind great apparent power. We tread now upon the embers of an extinguished controversy. And while around us blaze the lurid flames of a mightier conflagration, which it helped to kindle, we could not wish to stir again its ashes. But seeking the causes of the downfall of Mexico, we can hardly omit the weightiest cause.

The Texans were, as we all know, a people who came for the most part from the United States, and who were drawn southward by the combined influence of a genial climate and liberal gifts of land. These attractions had but one drawback, and that was of a religious nature. By the very terms of the gift, all emigrants were, or became, or professed to become, Roman Catholics. In many cases marriages of long standing were reconsecrated with Catholic ceremonies, while the children were baptized at Catholic altars. Until the year 1835 the Texans had been citizens of Mexico,—the district which they inhabited, together with Coahuila, making a sovereign state and constituent part of that federal republic. Though the Texans had thus lived for many years under the protection of Mexican law, it would not be true to say that they had done so always cheerfully or even peaceably. There had been much smothered discontent, and some open violence. The reasons were various. The vexations, and perhaps oppression, incident to the rapid and violent changes of the Mexican government, led to much ill feeling, and engendered controversies not easily put to sleep. The natural averseness, too, of a people of Anglo-Saxon origin to yield obedience, however legitimate, to a mixed race like the Mexicans, created bitterness, which was intensified by the arrogant and reckless temper characteristic of no small part of the Texan people. Last, but not least, their irritation at those laws which abolished slavery, and which from the beginning they had always broken and always meant to break, would have sundered a far stronger chain than ever bound them to the land of their adoption. When the centralized constitution of 1835 came into force, their discontent ripened into open rebellion. In the light of our own bitter experience, with the inception and growth of our own civil war open for our instruction, few Northern men will doubt that this was the infant Secession whose full-grown power we are breasting. That there were some real grievances we may allow; for, with so many shifting governments, there could hardly have failed to be some injustice and some oppressive measures or deeds. That, with the essential difference of feeling, character, and habits which existed between the two people, disturbances must sooner or later have arisen, we may also allow. But, after all, one of the most powerful motives for rebellion was love of slavery. Mexico stood a bar to the establishment of that new and powerful Slave State which was the dream not only of the Texan, but perhaps even more of the statesmen and leaders of the extreme South. If Mexico became a powerful government, all the more would she be an insuperable bar to such a project. However much, then, the Texans may have desired a separate State existence, and however little they may have liked the establishment of a great central power, their fear was not so much that the strong government would oppress them as that it might grow strong enough to force them to cease oppressing[Pg 59] others. There were Mexican laws which they never had obeyed, never intended to obey, and which by the aid of State existence they had always succeeded in evading. And now, when the progress of events and the strengthening of the central authority threatened as never before the cherished institution, like their compeers, they took their stand on the same battle-ground of State Rights. We repeat, that other influences and real wrongs no doubt helped them to this conclusion. What was the exact power of each particular influence no one can tell. But, back of all influences, a baneful spirit and motive, was the love of slavery and the desire to perpetuate it. Their independence achieved, the Texans did not know what to do with it. Few in numbers, burdened with debt, harassed on the one side by the wild Camanches and Apaches, and on the other by the Mexican guerrillas, pressed by the British and French governments, who wished to abolish slavery and establish a protectorate, they sought annexation to the United States, which, after a severe Congressional struggle, was accomplished early in the year 1845.

The farther the lapse of years removes us from the passions and pride of the hour, perhaps the less reason shall we find for entire satisfaction with our course, both as regards this act of annexation and the war with Mexico by which it was succeeded. While the feelings with which we now contemplate the French aggressions in Mexico show us that there were other and good reasons besides love of slavery why we might wish to keep this new and feeble Gulf State out of foreign hands,—while we cannot fail to regard with admiration the courage and skill with which our gallant army won its way to the very capital of a hostile State,—while, too, the progress of events has given us no cause to regret that sleeping California was given up to the fresh energy of the Anglo-Saxon,—while we rejoice to believe that this present war will result in adding to the manifold resources of Texas the crowning blessing of freedom,—while, in short, we see that what men call circumstance, but which is God's majestic Providence, is turning our errors into good,—yet the final verdict of impartial truth must be, that it was neither in the spirit of wisdom nor of justice that we strengthened the power which even then waited to slay us, and that in our pride and impatience we showed too little consideration to that State at the root of whose greatness we were laying the axe.

Those who delight in historical parallels will remember that this very tract, from the Sabine to the Rio Grande, which was included in Texas, was the same territory which was in controversy between us and Spain at the beginning of the century,—and that as in 1846 the advance of the Mexican general across the southern boundary of the controverted district brought on the Mexican War, so, forty years before, the advance of an American general across the northern boundary of the same district brought us to the verge of a Spanish war.

But whatever any one may think of the nature and justice of the Mexican War, no one can doubt that its result was the infliction of the severest of blows upon a sister-republic. And the severity consisted, we repeat, not so much in the territory which she relinquished as in her entire loss of prestige among the nations. We took away, indeed, more than eight hundred thousand square miles. We left her hardly seven hundred thousand square miles. But had there been any recuperative energy, perhaps the State, so much more compact in territory, and so little diminished in population, would have been stronger rather than weaker by the process.

We return to our narrative. The spring of 1861 found the Liberal party triumphant. Never had it seemed so firmly rooted. Never had its opponents been so cast down. Well does the Scripture say, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." All through the spring and summer of 1861, the leaders of the Church party were flitting from[Pg 60] Paris to Madrid, and from Madrid to Paris again, weaving what webs of intrigue, seeking what forms of intervention, none but the arch-plotter of the Tuileries can tell. There were floating about that summer rumors of intervention, coming through what avenues, or to whom traceable, nobody knew. Did any one wish to intervene, there were certainly ostensible reasons enough. In that long agony of anarchy, Mexico had inflicted, through one or another of her jarring parties, insults and injuries, in robberies, in murders, in forced loans, in illegal taxes, in neglected debts, sufficient to give an apparent justification to any violence of policy in a foreign power. The British minister, under date of June 27, 1861, transmitted to Lord John Russell a fearful list of outrages against English subjects. In that list were included three murders committed, or permitted, by Government officials, and twenty-four robberies, forced loans and the like, some of them to the amount of twenty-five and even sixty thousand dollars. These he styles "British claims of the small and distressing class." One fact disturbs the force of this impeachment of the Liberal government. Almost without exception, these outrages were confessedly the work of the conservative party, which had just been expelled after an open rebellion of three years against the legitimate authorities. It was as though England should enter complaint against our Government for property destroyed by the Alabama, or for insults and injuries inflicted upon British subjects in the streets of Richmond. No doubt, the form of law was with her, but hardly substantial justice. As the French have progressed, we have seen still stranger anomalies. The leaders of this very conservative party, who more than all others were responsible for the state of irritation which produced the conflict, have appeared in the ranks of the French army, thus acting the part of public prosecutors, and convicting and condemning innocent people for their own sins.

But it remained for Juarez himself, driven by necessity, to commit the act which settled the fortunes of his country. On the 17th of July, 1861, he published a decree announcing that for the term of two years all payments on debts would be suspended, expressly including foreign bonds. From that moment Mexico was doomed. The British and French ministers at once sent in sharp protests. The reply of the Mexican cabinet-minister is pitiful to read. His excuse is absolute necessity. The mismanagement of his predecessors has made it impossible that he should carry on the Government, and at the same time pay its debts. After some further correspondence, apologetic on the part of Mexico, sharp and bitter on the part of the foreign ministers, diplomatic intercourse ceased. The Mexican minister at Paris, in obedience to orders, sought an interview with M. Thouvenal. He began by saying that "he was instructed to give the most ample explanations." Whereupon M. Thouvenal interrupted him, exclaiming, "We will not hear any explanations; we will receive none"; adding, in great excitement, "We have fully approved the conduct of M. Saligny. We have issued orders, in concert with England, that a squadron composed of vessels of both nations shall exact from the Government of Mexico due satisfaction, and your Government will learn from our minister and our admiral what are the claims of France." We have quoted thus fully from official documents to show that the emergency found France armed and ready, if not glad, to pursue the quarrel to the end.

What was that end? As it stood on paper, simply to take possession of the ports of Mexico, and sequestrate their customs to pay the interest on foreign debts. This is stated over and over again by every party in all possible forms of distinctness. By no means is any interference to be permitted in the internal affairs of that country. In November, 1861, Lord John Russell writes to the British minister at Mexico in these unmistakable[Pg 61] terms:—"You must be careful to observe with strictness Article Two of the Convention, signed yesterday between Great Britain, France, and Spain, by which it is provided that no influence shall be used in the internal affairs of Mexico, calculated to prejudice the right of the Mexican nation freely to choose its own form of government. Should any Mexican, or any party in Mexico, ask your advice on such subjects, you will say that any regular form of government, which shall protect the lives and properties of natives and foreigners, and shall not permit British subjects to be attacked or annoyed on account of their occupation, their rights of property, or their religion, will secure the moral support of the British Government." The statement of France was just as clear, only shorter. M. Thouvenal said to Mr. Dayton that "France could do no more than she had already done, and that was to assure us of her purpose not to interfere in any way with the internal government of Mexico; that their sole purpose was to obtain payment of their claims and reparation for the wrongs and injuries done them." The language of Spain, if anything, was shortest and clearest of all. She assured Mr. Schurtz, that, "if Spain did take part in this intervention, it would be solely for redress of her grievances, and not for the purpose of imposing new institutions upon Mexico." So it was clear, after all, that this was nothing but a grand naval excursion for the collection of just dues from a reluctant or dishonest debtor! Nothing more! No intention whatever of intruding upon the poor man's castle!

Was it not surprising, now, that, with everything so transparent, nobody had any faith? Almost simultaneously, from Mr. Adams at London, from Mr. Dayton at Paris, from Mr. Schurtz at Madrid, and from Mr. Corwin at Mexico, came missives, couched in different language, but all conveying the same lesson: England meant what she said, and France and Spain did not. All at once, too, the air was full of rumors. The conservative party was to be restored by force. A monarchy was to be set up. Prince Maximilian was to be invited to the throne of Mexico. As before, nobody could trace these rumors to any trustworthy source. But everybody believed them. And every one of them has proved to be true. About this time there appeared in Paris a striking book, part history, part philosophy, part prophecy, entitled, "Mexico, Ancient and Modern," by Michel Chevalier. What is peculiar about the book, so far as it relates to present affairs, is, that it says but little in regard to the collection of dues, much concerning the necessity of reorganizing Mexico, much as to the duty of France to uphold the interests of the Latin races, much more concerning the wisdom of establishing a strong barrier against the ambition of the United States.

We all know what has actually happened, and that is perhaps all we have a right to expect while the present Emperor of France is at the helm. Events have explained these dim rumors and intimations. Vera Cruz and Tampico taken, France unfolded new and bolder schemes. She insisted upon marching inland and conquering Mexico, and establishing there a strong government. Here England and Spain parted from her: the former, evidently because she always meant what she said; the latter, either because she, too, meant what she said, or because she found herself measured with a more acute gamester, with a heavier hand and a sharper sword than she could boast. France has gone forward. She has stormed Puebla. The gates of Mexico have been thrown open to her. Her authority has been extended over many of the States. With the assistance of the reactionary party she has established a monarchy, and invited Maximilian to be its head. Never results so exceeded the plan. Whatever else may be dark, this is clear, that henceforth under the Empire promises mean nothing,—and that whoever trusts Imperial assurances which war with Imperial interests does so at his own proper peril.[Pg 62]

From the Emperor's own language, and from this book which he has permitted to appear, and to which we have alluded, we gather easily the real motives which have governed his conduct. No doubt, the mere éclat of having conducted to a successful issue a difficult undertaking, and by which he would secure anew the respect and pride of the fickle people over whom he reigns, may have been a minor motive. It is not unlikely, either, that he has gone much farther than he himself originally intended,—that the prize was so tempting, when once he had coquetted with it, that he could not keep his hands off from it. For look again at Mexico. A country full of noble possibilities. A land which, ruled by a strong hand and a sagacious mind, may be the fruitful source of all useful commodities. And if he can keep it, what a giant stride he makes to girdling the earth with his posts! Count them: France, Martinique, Vera Cruz, Acapulco, Tahiti, Saigon, his new ports at the mouth of the Red Sea, Algiers, and France again. Not many links wanting in that chain! If he cannot girdle the earth in forty minutes, he bids fair to do it as quickly and as thoroughly as mortal skill and mortal audacity ever did. And if he can secure all these benefits by open conquest, or, better yet, by the people's apparently free choice of a government of which he shall be the sole guardian and administrator, what is there in his past career to warrant us in the expectation that he will shrink back from any double-dealing necessary for the achievement of such a master-stroke?

And now what shall we say of this policy as it concerns ourselves, and especially the welfare and prospects of the Mexican people? We cannot like it. That is plain. For, suffered to remain unchallenged, it cuts right through our traditional policy. No mere diplomacy can ever mend that again. All our fine discourse about the Monroe doctrine is, as matters stand now, nothing but a flight of rhetoric. Then, in such a nonchalant way, it puts the curb on any future ambition which we may cherish southward, that it is still more disagreeable. And besides, it is such a mingled menace and warning! If this potentate could do, and would do, such things to feeble Mexico,—if real or fancied interest demand it, what may he not attempt with us, now that we are not so stalwart as of old, now that we are bearing upon our shoulders a burden that would have tasked the fabled Atlas? It is plain that we cannot look, and ought not to look, with any favor upon this man, or any of his Western works.

But how will his policy affect the happiness and prosperity of Mexico? Will it hold her back from the realization of that dream of greatness which we all cherished for her once? Or will it send her forward with a quicker pace to its speedy fulfilment? One feature of this event is memorable. A conqueror, with bayonet and cannon-ball, has brought to this people the very boon which forty years ago they craved,—a monarchy, with an offshoot from European royalty sitting upon its throne. If Maximilian come to Mexico, he can build his palace on a corner-stone which Iturbide, Guerrero, and many another patriot leader who sleeps in a bloody grave, helped to lay. So the pendulum swings back, be its arc ever so long. A closer examination, however, will show that this remarkable coincidence is not simply an accident. The combination which in 1823 swept away the Spanish power and established a monarchy was not a combination of the free and liberal elements of Mexican society, but rather of those same aristocratic, ecclesiastical, and conservative elements which are now in alliance with the French Emperor, and in deadly hostility to what is democratic or republican in that distracted land. We cannot doubt, therefore, that, whatever Louis Napoleon may affirm, that, whatever generalities he may put forth concerning Mexican reorganization and growth, the purpose of his sway cannot be the real elevation or freedom of the people. He has espoused the[Pg 63] interests of that party which seeks to perpetuate among the mass of the people ignorance, superstition, poverty, and social degradation. While, therefore, his invasion originated to a very great extent in injustice and thirst for power, it is not probable that his occupation of the country will be used with any intention of elevating and blessing it.

But God is greater than man. And so it may well happen that the results of human ambition may be kinder than its purpose. And if Louis Napoleon gives Mexico rest from change and suffering, that will be something. If the steel gauntlet crushes out the banditti, and the silken glove encourages honest toil, then, by the blessing of God, with stable industry and peace secured to her, and with every good gift blossoming at her feet, Mexico may yet be trained to take her place among the galaxy of the nations. And when that hour comes, if come it may, it will be no power four thousand miles across gulf and sea that will keep her from her true destiny.


PART III.—Conclusion.

The boat went cutting through the tide-waves and dashing the spray over her bows, the wide sea was opening all around them,—the salt wind stung his brain to keener life. To what horrid fate were they hurrying, she alone with this maniacal man? Out there beyond, away and away, the mighty billows tossed in their cruel glee, silvered their crests and horns in the moonlight, and grew and disappeared like phantoms. Her heart sank down abysses with every beat,—she covered her face with her hands in some vain call for miraculous aid.

Just then another boat came by and took the wind from their sails. Éloise felt the slackened speed, and looked up. First the figure of a horseman standing against the sky on the cliff above, as if a portion of the stone itself, caught her eye; next, the sail sheering by them; then she was on her feet beside Marlboro'. She reached out her hand to the tiller; she looked in his face and laughed in her old way. It was hardly an effort, for all at once her heart had grown light as a bubble.

"Mr. Marlboro'," she said, in the sweet natural ring of her every-day tones and without a quiver, "these are the Blue Bluffs close above us."

The voice, the air, the meaning, made him irresolute. At the same moment the tiller obeyed her hand, that threw out all its strength, the sails flapped loosely across their bending brows, they went about, heading for the little cove of still water.

"You are right," said he. "That is our home. What fiercely glad wild dream have I had? Our home!"

The keel grated on the pebbles,—some one came dashing down the narrow path, shoved them off, and leaped on board.

"Now, Marlboro'," said Mr. St. George, "the rudder is mine. A pretty dance with Death have you been leading Miss Changarnier! How long do you suppose this cockle-shell could buffet such a sea as is playing outside? Do you fancy I can countenance such treatment of my ward? Ease that rope a little, Miss Éloise. Here we go! What will Murray say, Marlboro', when he sees me come sailing by with you?

"'A-sailing and a-sailing,
My love he left me sad;[Pg 64]
A-sailing and a-sailing,
Let him come and make me glad!'"

sang Mr. St. George, and they went flying up the river.

"The south winds blow, the waters flow,
His sail is in the sun;
Though twenty storms between us go,
His heart and mine are one,"

sang Éloise, in jubilant response at her safety,—and Marlboro', fain to follow, echoed the air they trolled.

Up the stream, this way and that, tacking and veering, past the boats that hung on their oars and cheered them this time lustily themselves, touching shore,—and the hunters had their boat again. Then all trooping back across the turf, her hand in his, to the place where Marlboro's horse waited with pawing hoofs. What a mad evening it had been! And in the whirl of it Éloise had uttered no word to break her bonds. But broken they must be;—in what insanity had she riveted them,—set free this slave of his passion? His bottle-imp—had not her master once said it?—must grow into a demon that with his wide wings would blacken the sky. One experience of it was too much. Oh, why had nobody warned her?

Every one must have a cup of coffee to counteract the damp. Mrs. Arles had it ready. The horse at the door gave a loud, impatient neigh. The rider would not wait.

"You were right, Marlboro'," said, in his significant undertone, Mr. St. George to him from the other side, as he mounted, while Éloise stood on the step above. "Success perched on your banners. I should have lost, if I had tossed."

"You know it, then? Why, then, of course, it's true. I am half afraid lest it prove one of my cloud-capped dreams. I shall need no more opium to-night, I have other magic," said Marlboro',—bent down and would have kissed the forehead of Éloise, when the horse curvetted, reared, and galloped off.

Was she really pledged? then thought Éloise, as the bead of all her defiant effervescence fell. Was there no loop of escape? Had she so rashly given all at once? Should she inevitably become the wife of Marlboro'? Were the chains upon her? Was she doomed? Nobody guessed her misery, as she reëntered with a fanfare of jests, unless it were the gay St. George himself.

"Are you to be congratulated?" asked the low-voiced Mrs. Arles, having smilingly approached.

"No, no, indeed!" exclaimed Éloise, in a smothered agony; and Mrs. Arles, misunderstanding her, supposed it was not finally arranged.

"What a reckless rider!" cried Miss Murray, looking down the moonlit way after Marlboro'.

"It is not the only reckless thing he does," said her brother.

"No," interpolated Mr. Dean. "The way in which Marlboro' manages his affairs is too Plutonic. But what a gloss those shining sovereign manners of his do put upon it all!"

"Sovereign manners! Don't talk of sovereign manners, unless you mention Mr. St. George's," said Lottie Humphreys under her breath, and glancing to see if he could possibly hear with the length of the room between them. "Mr. St. George puts my heart in a flutter, when he asks will I have ice or cream."

"I've no doubt of it," whispered Emma Houghton, with meaning.

"Sure you're right, Dean?" asked Mr. Humphreys. "I should not like to have at home the dangerous cattle Marlboro' can put finger on."

"Perhaps they would be less dangerous, if the fingers were less weighty."

"Here's Marlboro's theory, and in the long run it's about the true one, you must confess.—Shut that door, Kate, my dear.—A cramped stature does not feel a cramped roof; but raise the stature, and the slave outgrows his institution, and there's revolt. Eh? There's such a thing as equally bad extremes. Our old friend Mr. Erne's of late, and St. George's now,—beg your pardon, St. George,—are both of them just as bad the other way."

"You are severe," said St. George, as he set the chessmen.[Pg 65]

"Our host yonder," continued Mr. Humphreys, in the best of humors, sipping his coffee, "among his other crotchets, endows his people with what Nature saw fit to deny to them,—souls. But he's one of those men autocratic enough to reverse Nature. Indeed,—I am out of all patience,—the whole place is managed other than I think at all wise."

"That is to be regretted," said St. George, challenging his adversary.

"Well, here is an instance, a single instance, trivial enough, but dragging after it a train as enormous as the Genius drew from the fisherman's jar. These people are reared to a degree of independence that will stop no one knows where. They supply the house with poultry, eggs, and vegetables from their own yards, which the house purchases with money, or with commodities beyond the usual allowance,—actually pays for,—do you mark? Any labor of extra hours is always compensated; there is a system of holidays; the quarters are, so to say, palatial; and, in fact, a very detrimental policy is pursued,—one that occasions discontent on all the neighboring plantations. Marlboro' 'd have less trouble, if St. George had different discipline. It will not do,—I've told you so, St. George,—I'm older than you,—it will not do. There are hands on the place who, as their master says, have found their manhood and felt their slavery: there's one of them now, that coachman Ned. I'd sell him to-morrow."

"Will Mr. St. George?"

"He? Oh, no! There's this Quixotic chivalry again! You listen, my dear fellow? He will let the man purchase his freedom,—if he don't lend him the money to do it himself! Ha! ha! ha!"

"But," said Mr. Dean, "I've tried St. George's plan, on his recommendation, these three or four months, Humphreys,—not wishing to be illiberal, or have the world outstrip me,—and, so far, I find that it will do very well,—that it will do admirably."

"Well, we won't speak of new brooms."

"Yet there's a great deal of disturbance everywhere about, I hear. You don't know, perhaps," said Mr. Houghton, in an under-voice, and nervously drawing up his chair, "that Marlboro' has had his place under guard these three weeks?"

"Crowded on all his steam, and now he's sitting on the valve. What a blessed life it is!" said Mr. Dean.

"Come, come, Dean, we shall have to look up your record!"

"Dear me!" said Miss Murray, "why will you talk about it? It's worse than ghost-stories just before bed. I've heard you gentlemen insinuating so much together that I fancy every night I hear the great alarm-bell booming in my dreams."

"There's no danger of that here."

"But it would be so terrible anywhere!"

"Here is Will," said her mother, as the young brother of Laura entered. "If, my dear friends, we should change the subject for bed-candles"—

"Check!" said Mr. St. George, rising.

It was a balmy meridional night, and Éloise, at length alone in her misery, leaned from her window to breathe the wind that floated in over the fields, fragrant and gentle. Leaning there, and great resplendent stars seeming to hang out of heaven close above her, the minutes went slipping into the hours, and the house-clock struck one, startling her with its peal, as doubtless it did Miss Murray. Bending her head that she might not strike the sash, a dark cobweb caught Éloise's eye;—it was a lace shawl, which the draught had borne through the window, and caught outside upon the thorny vine. It was too firmly fixed to disentangle at a touch; she put out her hand, and, taking the stem, shook the whole blossoming mass, scattering a rain of dew and perfume, and the filmy thing detached and fluttered to the ground. Without waiting to think, Éloise hastened down and found an exit. Coming round beneath the gable, the great dog following with his nose in her hand, she found herself insphered in a soft light that stole from[Pg 66] the open cabinet-casement, but, hoping to escape notice, flitted on after the lace, with which the breeze was already frolicking. Suddenly the dog perceived her object and bounded after it. Fear possessed her soul; it was Laura Murray's; he would rend and mouth the costly thing, which her whole year's salary, she thought, could not buy, as he would her handkerchief. She softly called him away; but the dog refused to hear.

"Rounce!" cried another voice, and Rounce came tumbling and gambolling back, while Mr. St. George obtained the shawl, and was beside her.

"So, Miss Changarnier, it was this little thing that brought you out here after midnight? Never do it again. It is forbidden. Nothing could be more unsafe."

"Thank you, Mr. St. George; I did not perceive danger."

As she spoke, and while they paused, there stole upon them the far and faint pulsation of a bell. It was the tide-bell placed on a distant reef to swing and ring with the ebb and flow.

"Era già l' ora che volge 'l desio
A' naviganti, e intenerisce 'l cuore
Lo dì ch' an detto a' dolci amici a Dio;
"E che lo nuovo peregrin d' amore
Punge, se ode squilla di lontano
Che paia 'l giorno pianger che si muore,"

murmured Mr. St. George, half lifting the book in which his bitter mood had sought stinging solace, and where his finger yet kept the place.

"It is many hours too late for that sweet vesper-bell," said Éloise.

"Any slow bell at night is like it. The tones of a bell are always homesick tones to me,—who have no home!"

"You, Sir!" said Éloise, forgetfully,—half losing sight of her own burden.

Mr. St. George, for all response, gazed at her a moment. Was she entirely plighted to Marlboro'? Could she care for him? How far did that tacit promise go?

"Éloise!" he said.

But suddenly she turned away her head, outstretching a forbidding hand. Abruptly he bowed and stepped aside, and followed her only at a distance.

When Mr. Marlboro' appeared just at breakfast the next morning, with a color fanned into his cheek by the half-score miles of gallop, Vane came trotting along behind him.

"Vane," said Mr. Marlboro', after he had saluted Éloise as warmly as he dared, "this is your mistress."

And Éloise felt her fetters close miserably upon her. This had been his device to know if he had dreamed or not on the night before, to detect whether his joy were solid truth or mounting laudanum-fumes. But as for Vane, so soon as his bow was made and homage paid, he fled away round the corner and lost himself in Hazel's happy arms.

At dinner that day the ladies rose early, as they were to dress for a wedding-party that awaited them some miles away. Just as Éloise, who was the last, passed out of the door which Mr. St. George held open, he produced from somewhere and placed in her hand a braided trencher of broad vine and fig-leaves that bore a mass of strange and beautiful growth. Scarcely had she plunged taper fingers between the scented layers, when a box with Mr. Marlboro's compliments was delivered, which, on being laughingly opened, proved to hold rare wreaths of pinky buds and bells.

"Four gray walls and four gray towers
Overlook a space of flowers,"

hummed Lottie; but Mr. St. George was consummately oblivious, and returned to his friends. Why it fell out, that, when Miss Changarnier came floating down the staircase again, robed in something thin, white, and glittering as the hoar-frost itself, the darkness of her hair was twined neither with the roseate Marlboro' bells, nor yet with the long acacia-sprays whose golden balls should have expanded and bloomed in the light and heat till they seemed like fragrant drops of lustre, Miss Changarnier could best tell for herself.[Pg 67]

But the wedding passed as weddings do,—to-day cake, to-morrow crumbs,—and at length the carriages were ordered for The Rim. The evening had not been without its triumphs to Éloise, however many masks she wore over her inner depression. St. George had forgotten her till a late hour, and, conspicuous as Marlboro's devoir had been, her own acceptance of it had been scarcely less so. Perhaps there was nothing in the world, of its kind, more beautiful than Éloise Changarnier's dancing. Fragrances, if they were visible, would float with just such a dreamy grace from flower to flower. Simple and sensuous, yet airy and fine, was the spirit of every motion; and with every wave, with every look, she appealed to the beholder's heart. Swimming down the room on the slow circles of the indolent languor of the waltz, perfumes fanning all about her, the wind lifting the curtains and letting in gleams of amethyst heavens and low-hanging stars, the music pulsing in passionate throbs,—once only she raised her eyes, and the great beryl jewels rested on Earl St. George Erne's, as he leaned against the wall with his supreme indifference of lordly manner; and if he revenged himself with the swift gleam of that involuntary smile that must never kindle for her, though it shot its light over brow and lip forever, he never knew it. An instant afterwards he was beside her, yet he dared not with the next strain suffer it to be his arm that upheld her, and Éloise sat where he placed her and danced no more. And then Mrs. Murray came, and they all took their seats in the carriages: Laura jubilant, but stately; Lottie eminently dishevelled, and still clutching the crumpled list of her partners; Master Will with his fists in his eyes, and heavy beneath a drowsiness from which he soon had enough to waken him; while in Mr. St. George's deportment to every one there was a shade of the old sardonic displeasure with which he was occasionally wont to favor his friends. But Lottie, after a few furlongs, was asleep in somebody's arms; the rest were, perhaps, living the evening over again in reverie; the other carriages were far, far ahead, and theirs, which, having been detained, was the last, trundled on slowly over a bad road. At length Laura stirred, and exclaimed,—

"Did you ever hear such divine music, Éloise? Why didn't Mrs. Arles come, do you know, Mr. Marlboro'?"

"Does Mrs. Arles go into such general society?" replied Mr. Marlboro'.

"Can't say. How long she wore black! so long that it has really become quite gray! Has she been husbanding her charms, or is she husbanding them now? Don't you shake your fan at me, Éloise Changarnier, or I shall tell how you said it yourself this very noon!"

The carriage-top had been thrown open, and at the moment of these words Miss Changarnier saw Mr. St. George, from his seat on the box beside the coachman, hastily start and turn, but whether on account of Mrs. Arles, or at something in the road, she could not discern; for Marlboro's horse having very singularly fallen lame in the stables that night, she had heard Mr. St. George muttering something about foul play, as he offered the other a seat, and she felt that he entertained apprehensions. Had she seen Marlboro's arm raised quiveringly, while the lash of the riding-whip fell across the groom's face in a welt, as he dismissed him, she might have felt also a womanly fear that the apprehensions were not groundless. For Marlboro', unable to get speech with Éloise one moment apart from others that day, had fled home in a fury, and had thus, when his anger cooled, been obliged to ride alone to the place of merry rendezvous.

Gradually, now, as they jogged along, Mrs. Murray began nodding here and there about the carriage, dropping her head very much as if she meant to drop it for good and all; one by one the others forgot themselves; but Éloise could see Marlboro' in the opposite corner sitting alert and pale and sparkling-eyed, and felt that Mr. St. George was watching every brier on the road-side, beneath his slouching brim. At length the carriage[Pg 68] stopped with a jerk just as they reached the little log-bridge that crossed the creek, and Mr. St. George appeared at the door.

"You must all alight a moment," he said. "Here is a break-down;—and, moreover, a log of the bridge has been displaced,"—the last in an aside to Marlboro'.

It took but a few moments to repair the road, and to tie up the broken springs of the coach as they could; but, after a trial, it was found impossible for all to ride.

"I will walk," said Éloise, stepping down before any one could arrest her. "We were all too much crowded. Come with me, Will,—if only, Mr. St. George, you will take the reins yourself and spare Ned to us?"

"No," said Mr. St. George, perhaps knowing from old experience that it would be useless to oppose Éloise, and having no time to lose. "Keep your place, Will; do you hear? The horses are best used to the customary driver. That makes it all right."

"Certainly, St. George, this should be my duty!" exclaimed Marlboro'.

But, as he sprang up, Mr. St. George's arm barred the way.

"You have quite enough to do to take care of yourself, Marlboro'!" said he, thrusting his revolver into the other's hand. "Drive on, Ned. Only keep us in sight."

"Mas'r Sin George, Sah," said the stolid Ned, "you are safe enough. Expect, 'f you want him safe," with supreme contempt, "I'd better get de go out o' dese yer critters wile dey feel der oats!"

"Wretched insolence!" murmured Marlboro', still incensed. And in a few minutes the coach had disappeared round the winding way.

"So much for Marlboro's theories!" burst forth St. George, in a moment. "A man's works follow him. Sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind is too much of a good thing. He has been away so long and so often, there has been such mismanagement under a long minority, such changes and such misrule, such a hard hand and such a high hand, that the whole place is a fester. How dares he prowl round the country so after nightfall? I wouldn't give a pin for his life this moment, if it weren't for that white defiance of his that would back him against a whole Ashantee tribe! If he were the coward that I am, he'd be a better master; but he's what the poor trash call a damned aristocrat,—which means an aristocrat past salvation, I take it."

Éloise laughed to hear the words from Mr. St. George's autocratic lips. "It is very odd," said she, "that so formidable an aristocracy must needs underlie so powerful a democracy!"

The night was clear and deep; great shadows floated down from the heavens, as if of beings travelling on the winds: one of those perfect seasons when the powers of the dark seem to be surprised at their work, although low in the horizon behind lay a glimmer, as if the hour were soon to bring forth its marvel,—a glimmer which made the whole more weird, and hung the very spirit of summer nights about them as they walked.

"What should you have thought of yourself, Miss Éloise," said Mr. St. George, "if a year ago, you had seen your image prospected on the canvas of a dark and lonely highway, extremely late at night, or early in the morning,—as you choose,—with, for sole companion, a creature who indulges himself in pipes, porter, and parties, a usurper, a demagogue,—in fact, one who can be represented only as disreputable? A very improper young woman?"

One year ago! The tears sprang to Éloise's eyes. She dared not look up, but let them fall from the downcast lashes. Yet Mr. St. George saw them.

"And what is there, so painful in the picture, may I ask?" said he.

"A year ago my father was alive, Mr. St. George."

A change came over his face,—pallor like a soft cloud.

"Yet you are better off than I," he said, with singular unreserve for him. "It[Pg 69] is twelve times as long since my father was with me. And you could hardly have worshipped the one more than I worship the memory of the other."

Yet, as if this at least were a sympathy between them, his manner became for the moment tenderer, and he forgot himself in order to arouse her. For Éloise was already full of reproach at having made one at so gay a reunion,—not remembering that all the rest had seriously vowed they would stay at home, unless she joined them, and that the wedding had been also that of a dear friend. So Mr. St. George was no longer lofty; he told her strange legends of the region that somehow she had never heard, repeated tiny droplets of song that would have lost their volatile essence in any alembic of translation, pointed out to her all the signs of the night, for the nonce forgot politics, and gathered spray after spray of the gorgeous creepers from the way-side, whose names and natures he knew.

"How is it," she asked, "that you, whose mind is certainly filled with things of an apparently vaster scale,—with legislation and war and finance,—can care for these bubbles, these songs and flowers?"

"Do you know Homer, Miss Éloise,—Chapman's Homer? Although I'm not sure but that the old English poet breathes a bloom upon the Greek. Well, I do not forget, that, when the envoys went to appease the enraged Æacides, that thunderer in arms,—

"The quarter of the Myrmidons they reached, and found him set
Delighted with his solemn harp, which curiously was fret
With works conceited through the verge; the bawdrick that embraced
His lofty neck was silver twist; this, when his hand laid waste
Aëtion's city, he did choose as his especial prize,
And, loving sacred music well, made it his exercise."

"That is superb! You must find me the place to-morrow. But Achilles playing on the harp? I am afraid he will suffer in Will Murray's estimation."

"Hush! don't breathe it! Will doesn't know it yet,—perhaps may never find it out. Do you know, Miss Éloise, as you go flitting along in that misty dress, with the little scarf dropping from your hair, that you are like the very soul of a white cloud fallen from above and trailing along beside me?"

"I? with my dark skin?" said Éloise, before she thought.

"Yes, you, Egypt! White, because there combine all colors that are; and in you—pardon me—there is a universal wealth of tint, be it carnation, sea-green, black, or cream, so harmonized that one looks a hundred times before finding it all. You recollect how a great painter produces his effect of white,—of white sunlight on a stem? He lays the solar spectrum there, the seven colors of light,—and their union in the beholder's eye makes the dash of sunshine, the white lustre. Do you know, in fact, what you remind me of?"

"No,—how should I?—Hark! what was that?"

It was the pealing of a bell, the far and faint pulsation of that bell she had once before heard, as it rang out the changes of the sea, now above and now below the flashing, falling foam-crests.

"It is the tide-bell," said Mr. St. George, stiffly; and, with the word, the previous midnight rose as if by incantation, and she kept her eyes on the ground. Yet, as they walked, it seemed to Éloise that her quickened senses detected a hidden rustle and murmur, as if the distant morasses, the neighboring thickets, were alive. She seemed to be aware of soft and stealthy soundless foot-falls; shadowy forms, she would have said, were gliding around them in the night. Cold terror made her heart stand still. Suddenly all these fears condensed into shape,—two flaming eyeballs glared in the copse,—a shock, a flash, a smell of powder, just as she had seized Mr. St. George's arm and snatched him back. Then the boughs crashed, and the dark shade went leaping away. Terror died in Éloise's heart. Intrepid rage possessed her. She sprang forward, still holding him back with the[Pg 70] continued gesture of the light hand on his arm, and gazed over the bushes, the very incarnation of splendid fearlessness and defiance. Mr. St. George laughed.

"Is there nothing that excites your indignation?" she cried. "Could you not have throttled him?"

"A flash in the pan," said he, coolly. "However, it might have been worse. It has blown a breeze through my sombrero,"—taking off the hat, which the ball had partly twisted around. "It was meant for Marlboro', Miss Changarnier. I am in his place to-night, you see. You have misled the rascals. Listen!" he murmured, in a lower tone, beside her. "There is a freemasonry among these black devils,—doubtless the tide-bell signals some secret meeting. They are all about us. Here! you are the last person to be seen. Take this, and hurry on while I wait; you can walk fast. Go!"

And the handle of a knife, a great broad blade, produced from some hidden sheath, was between her fingers.

But Éloise did not stir.

"Go!" he repeated, in the same smothered murmur.

"Place you in such danger? Leave you so?" said Éloise. "Never!"

"Do as I bid you!" he replied, in a tone as full of cold, unsuppressed bitterness as a north wind, motioning her away, and moving back.

The moon behind him, as he stepped, was floating up from the horizon, a great bubble of glory, whitening the tops of the whole dark landscape, throwing out in glittering points, like frosted silver-work, the rimy, dewy tracery of budding boughs, studding each twig with gems, and pouring light into the high hollow heaven, like vast draughts shed crystal-clear from some shining drinking-horn. When, then, Mr. St. George mounted the stump by the way-side and stood there erect, weaponless and with folded arms, the moonlight upslanted full on face and form, and made him as distinctly and rigidly visible to all the low land on either side the road as if he had been some statue set up for a mile-stone. A little time he remained so. A night-hawk slowly wheeled from a distant grove, and came dreamily sailing high above his head. There was an instant's flare that revealed a group of dusky faces in the swamp below, a report, and the night-hawk plunged downwards and fell at his feet.

"Mas'r Sin George," cried a voice, grim with murder ten minutes since, "we lebe you our card. Good night!"

Mr. St. George stood there a moment and watched the group till it faded off from sight in the shadows of that distant cypress-grove, and then stepped down and found Éloise with clasped hands exactly where he had left her.

"Why didn't you obey?" he said,—but this time with what a different voice! "You could not feel your danger! You did not know your risk! Great God, Éloise"——

Mr. St. George silenced himself abruptly.

"Well," he continued, after a few paces, "I convinced the wretches of my identity. It is quite like life in the Romagna, an hour with the brigands of the Marches, is it not? It is pleasant to play the hero for five minutes. But you! They know Marlboro' can be hurt through you. Truth runs in subtle channels here. Come, hasten! By God! if I had such people as Marlboro's, I would sell them, and that with a tan-toasting!—or I'd send them all to the North, that's so fond of them! Come, hasten!"—and, half dragging her on his arm, he strode forward, wordless and fierce, till they reached the house.

I do not know what thoughts whirled through Éloise's dreamless brain during the rest of that night, nor with what half-trembling resolutions she arose, nor how much pride she had drowned in a vaster flood. But when she descended, she found the house ablaze with fearful rumors that had risen like marsh-lights everywhere out of the ground. All was not right at Blue Bluffs, they said; some escaping slave—perhaps the compunctious Vane himself, who knew?—had[Pg 71] dared to breathe of great disturbance and of retaliatory examples during the week before, which, seen in the light of last night's broken bridge and gunshots, struck up fresh terror. At noon Marlboro' came, but only for a brief stay. There had been trouble with the creatures on his place, he said, contemptuously, owing to some conspiracy among them, suspicions and punishments. He could not account for such a state of affairs, unless through incendiary emissaries. If further punishments were found necessary, they should be just within the letter of the law, he vowed in an angry aside to Mr. Humphreys,—the thing must now be settled once for all. He would be here again on the next day, no new occurrence detaining him at home, he said, as calmly as if that covered nothing; and with his fair hair shining in the sun, and the handsome Vandyck-face laughing over the shoulder, he rode off in gay heart and knightly guise, accompanied by Evan Murray and Earl St. George Erne.

They were all standing on the piazza that night, looking for Mr. St. George's return ere going to bed. A sudden toll, and then a sharp, quick ringing, broken by other tolls, burst the air close above them.

It was the alarm-bell, and Ned the saturnine, rebellious in reason and loyal in love, stood at the wheel. Mr. Murray, the father, leaped away. Mr. Humphreys drew his brood within-doors. There was mustering of weapons, shrieking of children; Miss Houghton fell in hysterics; Mrs. Arles brought her the camphor, as quietly as she would have done at any other time; Miss Changarnier stood like the expiatory victim for the white race. Then came runners, overseers galloped up the avenue, gentlemen, crackers, and leashed blood-hounds. There followed hurried words and counter-commands; then part remained, part dashed away on the road to Blue Bluffs. Nobody thought of sleeping; in the dead of night the dull tramp of infantry resounded from the distant turnpike, and later they heard the clang of grounding arms, and by the faint morning light they saw the forms of the silent sentries stalking stalwart about them, while, all around, the Erne slaves pursued, some their usual routine, some the steps of the moment's master or mistress, and others watched, huddled into frightened groups. Éloise stood leaning against one side of the long drawing-room window; without knowing it, her fingers constantly closed around the knife that lay in her belt, and which she had failed to restore to its owner. All night she kept her motionless position, looking far out and away to the eastward, till the dark mass of Blue Bluffs should resolve itself into the azure mist of castellated height that by daylight ever loomed upon the sea-horizon.

Hours of suspense and of silence. At length, hurriedly resounding hoofs, and St. George once more stood among them.

"A revolt at Blue Bluffs," said he.

"As I have expected every night this month," said Mr. Dean.

"They have captured the ringleaders?" demanded Mrs. Arles.

"What have they done with them?" cried Emma Houghton.

Every one paused.

"Never mind," said Mr. St. George, with a terrible hiatus.

"And where is Mr. Marlboro'?"

"Where should you expect a man to be who crowds down the steam and sits on the valve,—who walks on crater-crust? Marlboro',—poor Marlboro'!—Marlboro' is dead."

Éloise dropped in a heap upon the floor.

The women gathered over her and got her away, laid at last upon her bed,—and then she ordered them all to leave her, which glad enough were they to do.

Mr. St. George walked the room in silence then, and finally sitting down and resting his elbows on the table, remained so a long time,—his knotted brow hidden by the tightly clasped hands. Nobody got any further information from him. They must wait till Evan Murray returned with the officers from the forts. Then he rose.[Pg 72]

"You are in no danger here," he said to Mr. Murray. "There is a guard detailed for every adjacent plantation. The affair is altogether crushed.—I must go just the same," he muttered, and entered his cabinet alone.

It was about two hours afterward, that Éloise—with whom, after having roused herself from the horror of the shock, a feeling of unspeakable pity, awe, and quaking terror had merged in another of equally indescribable and cruel relief and freedom—was wakened from the dull dream that sogged upon her brain in answering the place of two nights' lost rest, by a servant at the door who brought to her a note. All confused at the instant of starting, suddenly memory struck out the late events in letters of fire. Half awake, with her pulse beating in great shocks all about her wherever a pulse could play, she tore the note open and read its but half-interpretable hieroglyphs twice before she comprehended it.

"Distasteful as the thought of me may be at such a time, you must endure it for a moment.

"I return to you to-day the property of which many months ago I despoiled you. I leave it in better condition than I found it, and so well has it met my demands, that, in spite of all expenditure, you will find the customary income for the length of time in the cabinet-escritoire untouched.

"I leave it because it becomes impossible for me to retain it. I leave it because it becomes impossible for me to live longer in the house with you, to breathe the air you breathe, to feel myself growing desperate beneath the sound of your voice. Because I cannot see you in sorrow for another. Because self-control can go no farther. I leave it, Éloise, because I love you!

"If I cherished one hope, it would not be at this time that I should tell you my deadly secret. I have none, and therefore I go.

"Earl St. George Erne."

A sickly thrill of something like disgust swept over Éloise as she read, that one could think of anything but the great horrid fact of the hour. Then she trembled from head to foot, and hid her face with shame and sobs. "What does it mean?" she cried. "'At such a time'? What time? Oh! he thinks—can he think?—I love Marlboro'! Will no one keep him? Is he gone? He leaves because he loves me? Why, if he loves me, I should think he would stay! Oh, is it true? is it true? St. George, St. George, do you love me?" Hurriedly she smoothed her hair while she exclaimed, threw over her shoulders the scarf of blue and silver hanging across the mirror, and ran down.

Mr. St. George had that moment left, saying he was absolutely obliged to depart, but that he hoped his guests would remain the guests of Miss Changarnier. His luggage was to be sent after him.

"Which way had he gone? towards Blue Bluffs?"

"No, the other way."

Éloise summoned Vane and Hazel to follow her, and, flashing out of the house, went rapidly down the mazes of the woody avenue, over the fields, to the nearest place where the road crossed the creek. If Mr. St. George was on the winding highway, by taking this straight cut she would reach the creek even before his galloping horse could do so. At length she paused, stationed Hazel and Vane behind her,—busy enough in themselves, for Hazel, become happy again, had again become coquette,—and went on alone. There had been a heavy shower that morning; Éloise stooped and examined the clayey path that led up from the creek, to see if footprints had lately been set there, and found nothing. The minutes dragged away like hours, and when thirty elapsed, she wondered why it was not growing dark. "He has not come this way!" she exclaimed. "He is gone! I never shall know where he is!"—and she threw herself down among the wild, rich growth that half rose and buried her. Gradually, when her fever[Pg 73] of sobs had died away, a sound broke on her ear, the sound of a slow, steady tramp. Was it the beating of her heart?—or was it Earl St. George? It drew nearer; she dared not rise and see. She heard the splash of the feet in the water, in the intense light within her brain could seem to see the dark water strike up and break in showers of prisms. Then the feet left it, and came up the bank. Should she dare? If she delayed—Suddenly that apparition tangled in the blue and silver scarf rose and confronted Mr. St. George.

The horse knew her, as he swerved, then bent to rub his cheek on her shoulder; Rounce, who, from stopping to plant his nose deep in every rose upon his way, had just rushed up breathless, knew her too, and fell to frolicking about her feet. She stood with both her arms about the horse's bending neck, with her face half drooping there, and the black, falling tress curving forward on the cheek.

"I never loved him!" was what she murmured. "I never meant to marry him!"

"Miss Changarnier!" exclaimed Mr. St. George, dismounting, thinking, perhaps, that trouble made her wild. "Here? To-day? Alone? You must return at once!"

"I never, never will return, unless you take me back!" she said, raising her head, but not daring to raise her quivering glance.

"Éloise! Éloise! Do you know what you say?"

She ventured just a glimpse at the dark eyes above her, glowing and glooming, smiles breaking out of their pain, and then with a little blind motion the tender face was hidden in his breast.

Just there a cloud peeled off the sun and went all radiant upon its way, the silent birds fell into one deep chorus, the locust shot out its great whirring lance of jubilant sound, the whole forest grew astir and alive over the glad secret it had learned.

The sun was setting, when Mr. St. George, leading his horse, on whose back Éloise was throned, and followed by Hazel and Vane, came into view of the wondering, waiting, indignant party on the piazza. The party, fickle as any mob, be it patrician or plebeian, was easily appeased with such quarry as it found, and changed itself straightway with acclaim into a bridal party. That night St. George brought in and tried upon the third finger of the white left-hand a narrow glittering band.

"Nothing but a wedding-fetter?" he asked. "Yet capable of great things, that fetter! It holds the famous elixir which sinks two identities in one; it is the visible sign of a sacrament; it is to be the type of our souls' union, pure, perfect, and without end"——

But here, perhaps, the eyes of Éloise silenced him, perhaps the mouth. And when life settled in its new channel at The Rim, Éloise, wearing at last her father's name, sat at the head of her husband's table, and Mrs. Earl St. George Erne herself entertained her guests. They lingered a little while, with the disinclination that any group finds to separate, and circumstances had knitted a bond among them all. And then, when deepening summer ended the renewed cheer, Mrs. Arles put on her widow's-cap once more, her little foot went into obscurity, and the gold and ebony riding-whip hung reclaimed above her mantel.

[Pg 74]


In childhood's season fair,
On many a balmy, moonless summer night,
While wheeled the light-house arms of dark and bright
Far through the humid air,—
How patient have I been,
Sitting alone, a happy little maid,
Waiting to see, cheery and unafraid,
My father's boat come in,—
Close to the water's edge
Holding a tiny spark, that he might steer
(So dangerous the landing far and near)
Safe past the ragged ledge!
No fears had I, not one.
The wild, wide waste of water leagues around
Washed ceaselessly, there was no human sound,
And I was all alone.
But Nature was so kind!
Like a dear friend I loved the loneliness;
My heart rose glad, as at some sweet caress,
When passed the wandering wind.
Yet it was joy to hear
From out the darkness sounds grow clear at last,
Of rattling rowlocks, and of creaking mast,
And voices drawing near.
"Is't thou, dear father? Say!"
What well-known shout resounded in reply,
As loomed the tall sail, smitten suddenly
With the great light-house ray!
I will be patient now,
Dear Heavenly Father, waiting here for Thee!
I know the darkness holds Thee! Shall I be
Afraid, when it is Thou?
On Thy eternal shore,
In pauses, when Life's tide is at its prime,
I hear the everlasting rote of Time
Beating forevermore!
Shall I not, then, rejoice?
Oh, never lost or sad should child of Thine
Sit weeping, fearing lest there come no sign,
No whisper of Thy voice!

[Pg 75]


After our return from the Yo-Semite Valley, Bierstadt and myself remained in San Francisco, or its delightful neighborhood, making short excursions around and across the bay, for more than a fortnight. But this lotus-eating life soon palled. We burned to see the giant Shasta, and grew thirsty for the eternal snows of the Cascade Peaks still farther north. So much of a horseback-ride to the Columbia as brought us into Oregon I here propose to sketch in brief.

The rest of our party had become sated with travel and gone home. One glorious September day we took our saddle-bags, note-books, and color-boxes, put our horses on board the Sacramento steamer, and, without other baggage or company of any sort, set out for the Columbia River and Vancouver's Island.

At Sacramento, on the next morning after leaving San Francisco, we shifted our quarters to a smaller and light-draught boat which was to take us up the shallow river to its head of navigation. This arrangement was a great economy of time. The country bordering the Upper Sacramento for two hundred miles from the Californian capital is level and comparatively tame, so that no artistic advantage would have resulted from following the bank on horseback. From the little steamer the view became a perpetual pleasure. About twenty miles above Sacramento we passed the mouth of Feather River, disgorging coffee-colored mud from the innumerable gold-diggings along its course, and came into lovely blue water, pure as the cradling snow-ridges between which it issued. The immediate margin began to be thickly wooded with overhanging willows, oaks, and sycamores. These were alive with birds of every aquatic description. The shag, a large fowl of black and dingy-white plumage, apparently belonging to the cormorant family, peopled every dead tree with a live fruit whose weight nearly cracked its branches; every snag projecting from the river-bed was studded with a row of the same creatures at mathematically equal intervals, each possessing just room enough for his favorite pastime of slowly opening his wings to the utmost, and then shutting them again in solemn rhythm, like a pupil of Dr. Dio Lewis's or a patient in the Swedish Movement-Cure. The quiet embayed pools and eddies swarmed with ducks; every sunny bar or level beach was a stalking-ground for stately cranes, both white and sand-hill; and garrulous crows kept the air lively, in company with big California magpies, above our heads.

The course of the river grew more and more sinuous as we ascended; it was near the close of the dry season, and there remained none of those cut-offs which economize distance during the prevalence of the rains. The Upper Sacramento, especially when softened and rendered illusory by such a full moon as it was our good-fortune to travel under, perpetually recalls that loveliest of fairy streams, the higher St. John's, in Florida. Nothing out of dreams is more peacefully enchanting than the embowered stretches of clear water rippled into silver arabesque through a long moonlight night, or the hazy vistas, impurpled by twilight, into which one swings around the short curves of the Sacramento, amid a silence that would be absolute but for his own motion, while beyond either woody margin the great plains spread away untenanted, a waving wilderness of wild grass and tulé.

Enjoying the far-niente of a life of such sweet monotone all the more because it was such a contrast to our rough riding past and future, we spent two golden days, as many mezzotint twilights, and a pair of silver nights upon our steamer. On the morning of the third day we reached Tehama, a dead-and-alive little settlement, seven hours' journey by the[Pg 76] river-windings from Red Bluffs, the head of navigation, but only ten miles by land. We had now got in sight of mountains; the ethereal blue of Lassen's Buttes, rimmed with the opal of perpetual snow, bounded our view northerly; and as every motive for taking to the saddle now consisted with our desire for economizing time, we here began our horseback-ride, reaching Red Bluffs several hours before the steamer.

Just out of Tehama we struck into a country whose features reminded us of the wooded tracts between Stockton and Mariposa. After two days of tulé and wild grass, Nature grew suddenly ennobled in our eyes by thick and frequent groves of the royal California oak. There was a feeling of luxury in the change, which none can know who have not had a surfeit of boundless plains. We bathed our hearts and heads in shadow; the fever of unbroken light went out of us; our very horses shared in the relief, and gave themselves up to a sweet somnambulism with which we had too much sympathy to break it by spurs.

Red Bluffs we found a place of more apparent stir and enterprise than any Californian town we had seen, except San Francisco and Sacramento. There was quite a New-England air about the main street,—so much so that I have forgotten to call it Plaza, as I ought. This place is the starting-point for all overland supplies sent between the Sacramento and Portland. Immense wagons—shaped like the Eastern charcoal-vehicle, but dwarfing it into insignificance by a size not much inferior to that of a Mississippi flat-boat—are perpetually leaving the town, drawn by twelve mules or horses, and in charge of drivers whose magnificent isolation has individualized them to a degree not exceeded in the most characteristic coachman of the Weller tribe, or the typical skipper of the Yankee fishing-smack. There are few finer places to study genre than the California ranches frequented by the captains of these "prairie-schooners." At convenient distances for noon halts and nightly turnings-in, the main freighting-roads of the State are adorned with gigantic caravanseras offering every accommodation for man and beast, provided with arcades straddling nearly across the road, under which all passing wagoners not only may, but must, shelter themselves from the rigors of rain or sun, and billeted along their fronts with seductive descriptions of the paradise within, to which few hearts prove obdurate after being softened by the compulsory magnanimity of the arcade.

In time there must be a railroad all the way from Sacramento to Portland. There is not a mile of the distance between Red Bluffs and the Oregon metropolis where it is not greatly needed already. Nearly the whole intervening region is exhaustlessly fertile,—one of the finest fruit-countries in the world,—but so entirely without an economical avenue for its supplies or outlet for its productions, that many of the ranchmen who have settled in it feel despondent in the midst of abundance, and leave hundreds of magnificent orchard-acres paved with rotting apples which would command a "bit" a pound in the San-Francisco market, if the freight did not more than consume the profit, and the length of the journey render the fruit unsalable.

The first day out from Tehama we made a distance of nearly forty miles,—part of the way through oak-groves and part over fine breezy plains, with the noble mountain-chain out of which Lassen's Buttes rise into the perpetual-snow region continually in sight on the right hand. The only incident that occurred to us this day, in any other key than that of pure sensuous delight in the fact of life and motion under such a spotless sky and in an air that was such breathable elixir, together with the artistic happiness which flowed down on us from the noble neighboring mountains, was our discovery early in the afternoon of a cloud of dust about half a mile ahead, with the forms of a hundred horsemen dimly looming through it. Such a sight[Pg 77] sets an old overlander instinctively fumbling at his holsters; fresh as we were from the horrors of the desert, we felt our scalps begin to detach themselves slightly from the cranium. But we rode straight ahead, as our only method of safety was to wear a bold front, if the cavaliers were, as we half suspected, a party of Humboldt Indians who had lately taken the warpath between Lassen's Buttes and the coast. I don't recollect ever having been better pleased with the look of Uncle Sam's cavalry-uniform than we were, upon coming up with the squad and finding it a detachment of our own men sent out to chastise the savages.

That night we reached a ranch called the "American,"—and certainly its title was none too ambitious, for it had the whole horizon to itself, and to all appearance might have been the only house on the continent. It was a place unvisited of fresh meat and ignorant of gridirons; but we were tired enough, after the first day of our return to the saddle, to sleep soundly in a bed of tea-tray dimensions, and under what appeared to be a casual selection from a hamper of soiled pocket-handkerchiefs, when we had despatched the first of that long series of suppers on fried pork and green-serpentine saleratus-biscuits which stretched between us and the northern edge of Oregon.

Though the month was September, the heat in the middle of the day upon the broad rolling plains we now had to traverse was as oppressive as an Eastern July. During our whole horseback-journey, therefore, we made it our custom to rise as soon after dawn as possible, breakfast, travel a stage of fifteen or twenty miles, make a long mid-day halt in some pleasant nook, and push on twenty miles farther before we unsaddled for the night. We were just now enabled to make this second stage the most leisurely and the longest of the two,—for the moon was still in all the glory of its California brightness and plenitude, and to have travelled by moonlight between the Sacramento and Mount Shasta is one of the prominent memories of a lifetime. No patriotic attachment is demanded to make the Californian say with the Irishman that his country's full-moon is twice as large and splendid as any other's. Phenomenally, at least, the bare facts support him.

At noon of the day on which we left the American Ranch, we came up a rugged hill into the settlement of Shasta. This town is a mining depot of some importance, chiefly memorable to us for some excellent pie, made out of the California apple-melon, in wonderful imitation of the Eastern green-apple tart, and a charge of five dollars and a half in gold made by the great Californian Express Company for bringing Bierstadt's color-box (heavy as a small valise) from Red Bluffs, whither we had let it go on by boat. Why this should have left a memorable impression on our minds it would be hard to say; for, although the demand was somewhat more than the stage employed by the Express Company would have charged to take either one of us the same distance, accompanied by a heavy trunk, we should by this time have acquired sufficient familiarity with extortion from the Company's officials to have paid very quietly a bill of fifty dollars for the same service, and then dismissed the trifling matter from our minds. But indignation at swindles is sometimes cumulative.

At the town of Shasta we left the main wagon-road,—finding that it passed a long way from the most important point on our itinerary, the base of Shasta Peak. By striking across the country six miles to the small settlement of Buckeye, we intersected a route little travelled, but far more picturesque, and leading directly to the great object of our longings. On the way to Buckeye we again encountered the Sacramento, here dwindled to a narrow mountain-stream, with bold precipitous banks and a rock bottom, a smooth and deep, but rapid current, and full of trout and salmon. We crossed it on a rope-ferry, and climbed the steeps on the other side, but did not leave it.[Pg 78] Thenceforward to Shasta Peak we were never out of its neighborhood.

By this détour of ours we came into a country better wooded and watered than any through which we had been travelling. When the sun left us, we found the moonlight so seductive that we pushed on late into the evening,—making our all-night halt at a ranch-man's whose name had been given us by some passing native, who praised his accommodations unboundedly, but proved much more of a friend to him than to ourselves. It is a duty to visit the afflicted. It is a misfortune, not a crime, to have a wife and six children, the latter all under twelve years of age. It is a still greater and no less irresponsible calamity to have them all prostrated by chills-and-fever, yet forbidden to yield to its depressing influence by the stimulus of several million healthy fleas. Ignorance, not wilfulness, may be at the causal bottom of a batch of bread which is half saleratus, and a stew of venerable hens which is one-third feathers. Nor can we regard it as other than a beneficent arrangement in the grand scheme of Nature's laws, that a pack of noble hounds should pass the hours of slumber around our humble casement in the free indulgence of a liberty distinctly authorized by the sacred Watts as follows,—

"Let dogs delight to bark," etc.

Still, I think public opinion will sustain me in the view that the much afflicted family were not agreeable to pass the night with.

This is the place for a useful financial statement. Everything on our present trip cost a dollar. Bed for one, i. e. one's share of a bed for two,—supper,—each horse's forage,—breakfast,—every several item, a dollar. No matter how afflicted the family, saleratusy the bread, loud the dogs,—nothing was furnished under the dollar. When people happen to have enough dollars, this becomes comic. It reminded us of the Catskill Mountain House, where in specie-times everything (after hotel-bills) was twenty-five cents,—from getting a waiter to look at you, to having the Falls tipped up for you.

The day's journey between the afflicted family and Dog Creek, where we stopped the third night, is such an affluent remembrance of beauty that I feel glad while I write about it. We started under circumstances somewhat tedious. Nobody was going toward Mount Shasta with so much as a pack-mule. The father of the afflicted family labored under the blight of his surroundings, and after severe thought gave up the task of attempting to recall when anybody had been going toward Mount Shasta. It was also too much for him to calculate when anybody would be going. We paid him his dollars,—wished that his shadow might never be less, which it couldn't very well, unless the ague can dance on a mathematical line,—and set out with the color-box carried alternately before us on our pommels. It had been our bête noire from the time five dollars and fifty cents ransomed it at Shasta. We now began to wonder whether the Express Company also had carried it on a pommel,—in which case we thought we could forgive the Express Company. The morning was sultry, and as we started our horses forth upon a walk,—for the box could not stand jolting,—we looked forward to a tiresome day.

As we went on, Nature seemed determined to kiss us out of the sulks. Just as we broke into fresh grumbles, which we wanted to indulge, and our horses into fresh trots, which we desired, but could not tolerate, we entered some lovely glen, musical with tinkling springs, its walling banks tapestried with the richest velvet of deep-green grass, brocaded with spots of leaf-filtered sunshine. When we began to swelter, we came into the dense shadow of great oaks, or caught the balmiest wind in the world through aromatic pine and cedar vistas along the crown of some lofty ridge. It was impossible to be vexed with the step-mother, Fate, when the fingers of our mother, Nature, were straying through our hair. To drive away the last elf of ill-humor,[Pg 79] and make us thenceforth agree to regard the box as an ornamental appendage which we were good-natured enough to let each other enjoy by turns. Pitt River, the last fork of the Upper Sacramento, came glancing into our landscape, the very perfection of fluent freedom and gladness. Every rod of the journey along its west bank disclosed a new picture. The misty blue mountains of the range toward Shasta Peak formed the abiding background of every view. Steep, fir-battlemented banks of one generic form, but endless variety in the beauty of the tree forms and groups which rose from their glacis, mile after mile, framed in some new loveliness of light-and-shadow-flecked bend, deep sepia-dark pool, singing shallow, or brawling rapid of the clear stream. Eagles were sailing, like a placid thought in a large heart, far over our heads in the intimacy of a spotless sky; the great ground-squirrel flashed like a gray gleam over the gnarled mossy roots at the side of our narrow dug-way; and in brilliant blots or darting shafts of Magenta fire, we recognized among the tree-tops that loveliest bird of the North-American forest, the great crested woodpecker. Here and there, to introduce a human element, came cleared spaces by the river's brink, where pointed wands stood impaling flakes of red salmon-flesh,—the open-air curing-house and out-door store-room of the Pitt-River Indians. Once in the course of the day we lighted on a picturesque ragged hut, where the purveyors of this meat were soaking themselves in full side-hill sunlight,—where little savages of every degree of gauntness in their limbs, ochriness on their cheeks, shockiness in their heads, and protuberance in their abdomens, were gorging themselves to still more hideous ventral embonpoint,—where white men, lower than the lowest Diggers they herded with, had forgotten the little they ever knew of civilization, and stood glaring at us like half-sated Satyrs as we passed. Other bits of genre hourly came into the picture with pappoose-carrying squaws who hunted yew-berries along the road-side fringe of woods, youngsters wearing no attire but a party-colored acorn-basket of deft finger-work, which they carried loaded on their shoulders, or listlessly trailed empty at their sides. Dr. Prichard has some hideous pictures of Papuans and Australians; but if Ethnology were a match-game, we could give him those two points, and beat him easily by playing a few of the Digger women whom we saw that day. They reached the ugliness of aboriginal specimens which we had encountered on the west verge of the Goshoot country; and if any earthly pilgrimage, short of the mountains of Nightmare, can reveal their rivals, I should like to get into a prime state of health and be allowed a peep at them through a spy-glass.

The condition of the white men who live and make alliances with these poor creatures is too heart-sickening to print. The law that governs all associations of culture with barbarism, where the latter is in dynamic excess, holds rigorously true in California. The higher race recollects only the cultivated evil of the state whence it fell,—and carrying to its savage mates subtler means of accomplishing vice than they knew before, presently gives rise to a combination from which all the simplicity of the low race is eliminated, and into which enter all the devils of mature civilization. Nor do these devils come accompanied by a single grace or angel which softened or restrained crime in the developed community. The attachment of this region's older settlers for their savage comrades is something incredible. To enjoy their society they cheerfully embrace a life as impure, uncleanly, free from all humanizing influences, as that of the lowest Digger with whom they consort. Sometimes a strange incongruous romance, like moonlight on a puddle, lights up these mongrel liaisons, and infuses into them a burlesque of sentiment. We found one old hunter whose squaw ran away from him into the mountains at regular six-months' intervals, and[Pg 80] who invariably spent hundreds of dollars and no end to hardships in hunting her up and restoring her to his wigwam. Another, who had kept an Indian seraglio from the time of the earliest gold-discoveries, had repeatedly been to the nearest legal officer, (two or three days' journey off,) and besought him, without effect, to marry him to one of his squaws in Christian fashion. It certainly did seem hard that the poor fellow should be forbidden to make the only reparation in his power for wrongs of twelve years' standing; but the æsthetic, naturally enough to those who have seen Diggers, predominated over the legal and moral in the judicial mind, and he was finally sent away with an injunction never to show his face again while "this court continued to know herself" in the Shasta region.

As often happens in the discipline of human life, the thorn in the flesh was withdrawn as soon as we had learned the lesson of bearing it resignedly. At the last crossing of the Sacramento, we learned from the ferryman that a providential wagoner was just ahead of us, going certainly to Dog Creek, and presumably, if we made it an object, all the way to Strawberry Valley, at the foot of Shasta. The one whose turn it was not to carry the color-box galloped ahead, and detained the wagoner until the heavy dragoon had time to come up. With a deep sigh of relief, we stowed our box in the "prairie-schooner,"—made a contract to have it packed on mule-back from Dog Creek to Shasta, in consideration of one among a gross of cheap watches which we had brought for trade with Indians and Trappers,—and, relieving our horses by the first canter they had enjoyed that day, sped away with the deep conviction that the man who first called chrome and white-lead light colors must have been indulging the subtile irony of a diseased mind.

The seven miles of our journey from the last Sacramento crossing to Dog Creek were even grander in their scenery than our morning stage. The road was a dug-way from one to seven hundred feet above the base of a winding castellated cliff, here and there cut in rugged sandstone, but often both walled and buttressed with steep slopes of virgin turf kept emerald by innumerable trickling springs, ice-cold and crystal-clear, while here and there it passed through woods as dark as twilight. The slope on which we travelled formed one side of a valley, green at its bottom as a New-England meadow, and watered by a picturesque affluent of the Sacramento. About dark we came to the Dog-Creek Ranch, where we had such a delicious supper of trout, cooked in the good old Green-Mountain fashion with an Indian-meal night-gown on, as made us "forget the steps already trod," followed by a really nice pair of beds, wherein we took long and ample preparation to "onward urge our way" upon the morrow.

At Dog Creek we were encamped round about by the largest and most prosperous Indian tribe that we had seen on our trip. Their bows and arrows were elegant in shape and color: the former stained in a variety of patterns, sometimes carved, and wrapped as well as strung with deer-sinews; the latter headed with nicely cut pieces of a black obsidian which abounds in the vicinity of Shasta Peak, and which of itself is an unerring test of the original volcanic character of the mountain. The quivers of this Dog-Creek tribe were the most beautiful preparations of whole mink, otter, and sable skins, which I have seen in Indian hands anywhere on the continent. One of the men had a great cap made out of an entire grizzly cub-skin, the claws very nicely preserved and dangling behind, while the head curved forward on top like the crest of an old Greek helmet. Nowhere did we find neater, more ornamental berry-baskets, or more carefully worked dishes and basins, than those woven or scooped and stained by this tribe. In wandering through their stick-and-bark lodges we found some tolerably good-looking men, far above the average brutality of the[Pg 81] Diggers, with simple, pleasant expressions, and not afraid to look one in the eye. In one lodge crouched a man and woman who without exception were the oldest-looking people I ever saw. The husband was blind, the wife palsied; but they had been left in charge of a sprawling family of their fifth generation, which haste and the warm weather forbade our counting. I gave the old lady a plug of tobacco, and watched, as she put it up against her husband's face, to see which of the wrinkles was his mouth; while, on her filling a pipe and smoking with grunts of evident approbation directed to myself, I felt pleasant and Biblical, as if I had been doing a good turn to Methuselah's aunt.

Only forty miles more stretched between us and Shasta Peak. We had now reached an elevation where it was visible to us in its full majesty from the southwestern side. All day, after our leaving Dog Creek, its giant cone, snow-wrapt half-way to the base, kept surprising us through clefts in the surrounding crags at the end of long wooded vistas, or on some clear, treeless height to which we had climbed, forgetting the mountain in our heat and labor. The country about us was becoming wilder and wilder: our road was sometimes a mere trail, half obliterated by springs or traversing rivulets. We now rode in the woods most of the time, and found the shadow, stillness, and fragrance all delicious. Beside all the springs we discovered the southernwood of our Eastern gardens growing wild, its strawberry-scented and maroon-colored buds much larger than those of our variety, and, though a trifle less intense in their perfume, still sufficiently sweet to make every nook in which they grew delicious for yards around. Here and there the woods showed some symptoms of autumnal change; there were hectic spots now and then on the maple-leaves; but nothing approaching in loveliness the forest-euthanasia of our Eastern fall appeared until we had crossed the boundary of Oregon. Shasta Peak is, by the track, nearly eighty miles from that line. To-day, just as the sun got down to the tree-tops, the wooded slope suddenly receded from our left, and towered into one of those noble crags which all over the continent go by the name of "Castle Rock," but which include no instance more truly deserving the name than this bold mass of pinnacles and bastions, bare as a Yo-Semite precipice, which lifted itself apparently about a thousand feet above the green glacis of the slope, stern and gray at the base, but etherealized along its crest and battlement by sunset spendors of red and gold. Simultaneously with the Castle's appearance, our leafy covert parted before us, and disclosed in level light, which made its snow opalescent, and bathed its vast, rugged masses of stone and earth in one inclusive winy glow, the glorious giant of California which had drawn us hither through the wilderness. The height of Shasta is variously stated. It is certainly over sixteen thousand feet, and may likely be nearer eighteen thousand. The last geological survey pronounced it the highest mountain in the Nevada range,—a statement taking into account Mount Hood and the other great peaks of the Cascade system, which itself is but an Oregon reappearance of the Sierra Nevada. The distance from which Hood, Saint Helen's, and Rainier could be seen with the naked eye led us afterward to regard this statement with some doubt; but certainly no peak which we met in all our large experience of the mountains of the continent ever compared with Shasta in producing the effect of vast height. All the others which we have seen, with the exception of Lander's Peak, whether in the Rocky, the Nevada, the Cascade, or the Pacific Coast range, have suffered, visually, from modulation through their gradually ascending tiers of foothills, or by the blending of their outlines with the neighboring peaks. This is especially so with Pike's Peak, which, despite its being one of the loftiest mountains in America, has its proportions most dissatisfyingly disguised, in all but a single point of view, in the cañon of the Fontaine-qui-Bouille.[Pg 82] Shasta is a mountain without mediations. It sits on the verge of a plain, broken for a hundred miles to the northward only by pigmy volcanic cones heaped around extinct solfataras. We approached it in the only direction where there were anything like foothills to climb; but even upon us, on reaching Strawberry Valley, at its southwestern foot, the wonderful peak broke with as little feeling of gradual approach as if we had not seen its head glowing grander and more real out of the blue distance repeatedly during the last three days. When we first saw the whole of it distinctly, it seemed to make no compromise with surrounding plains or ridges, but rose in naked majesty, alone and simple, from the grass of our valley to its own topmost iridescent ice.

That view was not accorded to us on our first day out from Dog Creek. It was nearly dark when we reached the Soda Springs, nine miles south of Strawberry,—took a draught of the most delicious mineral-water I ever drank, more piquant than Kissingen, and cold as ice,—resisted the seductions of a small, premature boy of eight, who issued from the Springs Ranch to dilate agedly on the tonic properties of the water, the relaxing virtues of the beds, and the terrors of the grim forest which lay for us in the black night between there and Strawberry,—and, clapping spurs to our tired horses, pushed forward with stern determination to reach Sisson's that evening.

I think that a darker night than presently lapped us among the thick evergreens was never travelled in. There were some streaks of blackness a mile long, in which, literally, I could not see my horse's head. But we had learned confidence in our animals' sagacity, and walked them, cheerily whistling to keep each other informed of our whereabouts, through at least six miles of road utterly unknown to and unseen by us. It was what Eastern people call very "poky"; but the language addressed to us by the premature boy had made it a matter of personal self-respect for us to get to Sisson's that night. With a certain sense of triumph over that unpleasant and dissuasive child, we saw a lantern gleam from a corral about ten P. M., and had our interrogative hail of "Sisson's?" answered in welcome affirmative by Sisson himself.

At Sisson's, or exploring with him in the neighborhood of Shasta, we passed one of the most delightful weeks in our diary of travel through any land. His house was a low, two-story building, which had run like a verbena in all directions over a grassy level,—putting out a fresh arm at every new suggestion of domestic convenience, until it had become at once the most amorphous and the most comfortable dwelling in the California wilds. His herds were populous and prosperous; only the merest pretence of fences broke their dream, without affecting their reality, of limitless pasture. His ranch ostensibly consisted of a few hundred acres; but Old Shasta was his only surveyor of landmarks, and his base of supplies was coextensive with the base of the mountain. His family consisted of an admirably energetic and thrifty wife, who had accompanied him from Illinois, where he used to be a schoolmaster, and one pretty little baby-girl indigenous to Strawberry Valley. The presence of this mother and child in a wilderness which otherwise howled chiefly with rough sporadic men and equally rough ubiquitous bears, was a perpetual delight to us, so far from our domestic communications. We admired Shasta all the more for looking at it over a little, gentle, pink-and-white baby who lay asleep in its shadow, like a cherub pressed to the bosom of one of the Djinn. Escaping from the poetical ground, I may observe, that, between the chief French restaurant of Sacramento City and the Dennison House in Portland, Oregon, no family whom we encountered lived in such wholesome and homelike luxury as Sisson's. If a Society for the Diffusion of Gastronomic Intelligence among the Heathen is ever founded in California and Oregon, (and how bitterly such a philanthropic enterprise is needed my[Pg 83] diary spotted with the abominable grease of universal frying bears abundant witness,) I hope that the first tract which it publishes will be a biography of Mrs. Sisson, the first point insisted on by that tract, "This excellent and devoted woman used a gridiron." Bless her! how she could broil things! No man who has not built up his system during a long expedition with brick after brick of pork fried hard in its own ooze,—who has not turned all his brain's active phosphorus into phosphate of soda by alkali-biscuits drawn from the oven in the hot-dough stage,—who has not drunk his pease-coffee without milk at the tables of repeated Pike settlers too shiftless to milk one of their fifty kine,—who has not slept myriads in a bed with Cimex lectularius and his livelier congener of the saltatory habits,—can imagine what a blissful bay in the iron-bound coast of bad-living Sisson's seemed to us both in fruition and retrospection. We occasionally had beef, when Sisson, or some near neighbor ten miles off, "killed a critter" and distributed it around; excellent mountain-mutton, flavorous as the Welsh, was not lacking in its turn; but the great stand-by of our table was venison, roast, broiled, made into pasties, treated with every variety of preparation save an oil-soak in the pagan frying-pan of the country. As for chickens and eggs, it "snewe in Sisson's house" of that sort of "mete and drinke,"—he was Chaucer's Franklin transported to Shasta. Cream flowed in upon us like a river; potatoes were stewed in it; it was the base of chicken-sauce; the sirupy baked pears, whose secret Mrs. Sisson had inherited from some dim religious ancestor in the New-England past, were drowned in it; and we took a glass of it with magical shiny rusk for nine-o'clock supper, just to oil our joints before we relaxed them in innocent repose. Our rooms were ample, our beds luxurious, our surroundings the grandest within Nature's bestowal. Our capital host and hostess became our personal friends; and all that they did for us was so heartily kind and so cheerily comfortable, that, if we were asked where, on the whole, we passed the pleasantest, as distinct from the grandest, week in California, I think we should answer, "At Sisson's, in Strawberry Valley."

Sisson was, without exception, the best rifle-shot I ever saw. I have seen him bring down a hawk soaring as high as I could see it. Before a target, at any distance usual for such experiments, his aim was practically unerring. He possessed, in addition, two other prime qualities of a first-class woodsman,—keen sight for game in covert, and soft-footedness in stealing on it,—to a degree so unequalled in my acquaintance that I feel justified in calling him, not only the best shot, but the best hunter I ever knew. We spent three days in exploring, sketching, and deer-stalking with him, during all which time he was never once taken by surprise, but invariably saw his game before it scented him, and as invariably cracked it over before ourselves, or another old huntsman with us, had time to say, "Where is it?" Our main excursion led us about a dozen miles from the house to a lofty ridge, populous with game, thickly wooded with evergreens, and on its bold prominences giving us splendid views of Shasta. No height that we could attain dwarfed the grandeur of the mountain by sinking its base, and no lateral variation of our standing-points produced any change in its shape. New delicacies of rock and snow network came out as we shifted, and the sunlight produced different beauties of color and chiaroscuro in the glacier-like cradles of its upper ice; but so far as height and form were concerned, it seemed to have no more parallax than a fixed star. This fact is of course partly due to its being a nearly regular cone, but much of it depends on the intrinsic grandeur of a mountain standing lonely on the plain, full sixty miles in cincture, and in stature nearly eighteen thousand feet.

We came back from our expedition with an abundance of venison, a number of interesting color-studies, and memories of California scenery surpassed only[Pg 84] by the Yo-Semite. We had struggled through miles of chaparral, after which no abatis that I ever saw on the Potomac would have been any discouragement to us, provided only we had the same wonderful horses. To get some idea of this peculiarly Californian institution as we encountered it, imagine a side-hill which would have given the best horse a hard pull, even had it been bare of undergrowth, and set this hill as thick as it will hold with manzanita and burr-oak: the former, as its name implies, like a little apple-tree, only more viciously gnarled, leathery, and complicated in its boughs than the most picturesque old russet in a New-England orchard, and ramifying at once from the root without any main trunk; the latter, an oak-bush of the same general characteristics, having its swarming acorn-cups covered with spikes like the chestnut. When these have interlocked with each other till the earth is invisible and the whole tract has become a lattice of springes and pitfalls, push a horse through it three miles up a slope of forty-five degrees, the breast-high twigs scourging him at every step; and if you get out, as we did, without a fall or a broken leg to either man or beast, you will not only have acquired a just idea of the California chaparral, but an admiration for the California horse which will last you to your dying-day. To repay us for this struggle, we had found one lake lying in a precipitous gorge, only twice before visited by white men; while Bierstadt, always the indefatigable explorer of every party we were in together, climbed with his color-box to still another lake, of which he was the first discoverer, and whose lovely lineaments he preserved in one of the best studies of our trip. Besides these results of our expedition, we brought away the satisfaction of having leaped our horses across the Sacramento River. Where it flowed at the bottom of one deep ravine we had to traverse, it was a foot deep and ten feet wide. The twig which cracked under my horse's hoof, and fell into the stream as he sprang over, a month hence might be dashing about in the scud under the foot of some Pacific whaler, or, still farther off in time, drift into the harbor of Hong Kong. Rivers always seem to me like the nerves of Nature: there is no conductor of thought and impression like that little silver thread which leads out from the ganglion of a deep forest-spring, to spread, many leagues off, upon the sensory surface of the Oceanic World. In an earlier article I spoke of the mighty emotions which came thronging on me at the heads of the Platte and the Colorado: I felt them only less powerfully when my horse jumped across the Sacramento's birthplace.

After a day's rest at Sisson's, we bade the capital fellow and his excellent wife a good-bye which had more regret in it than we ever felt before for comrades of a single week's standing, and resumed our northward journey,—Bierstadt's color-box the fuller by a score of Shasta studies taken under every possible variety of position, sky, and time of day.

The country continued thickly wooded for nearly twenty miles from Strawberry, and the forest-trail was every now and then drowned out of sight by streams rushing from the snow of Shasta. When we emerged from the timber, we found ourselves on a plain opening widely to the north between diverging ridges, and scattered here and there with black scoriæ like the slag of a furnace. In some places an attempt had been made to mend the road with lava, and as it crunched under our horses' hoofs we could almost imagine ourselves making the circuit of Vesuvius, so evident was it from the look and feel of things that Pluto has at no very remote period boiled his dinner-pot on the hob of Shasta Peak.

The day was fine,—the air more bracing than we had found since leaving the Yo-Semite. Our week of comparative rest at Sissons had brought our horses into splendid condition for the road; both we and they were boiling over with animal spirits; and it was still early in the afternoon when we rode the fortieth mile of our way into Yreka, on the full gallop.[Pg 85] I need not say that we had made other arrangements than our pommels for the transportation of our heavy baggage to the next place where we should need it. Sisson, always full of resources, had taken good care of that for us both.

Neither to the traveller nor the raconteur is Yreka a place to linger in. It consists of one long street, with a tolerable brick hotel at one end, and a kennel of straggling houses swarming with Chinese of ill odor and worse repute at the other,—intersected by half a dozen narrow lanes, devoted principally to stables, gambling-shops, and liquor-dens. I only quote the language of all the inhabitants whom I conversed with, when I say that such glory as it once held among the northern mining-towns has entirely departed from it. The discovery of the Boisé and John-Day mines to the far northeast has attracted away all the principal gold-seekers who once dug and panned in the vicinity; and if there ever was a place which had nothing intrinsic to fall back upon, it is Yreka. We were glad to leave it after one night's rest.

The day we evacuated it was atmospherically the most glorious that we enjoyed upon our whole trip. The air had a golden look, as if it not merely transmitted, but were stained with sunshine. The sky was spotless, the weather as warm as our mid-June, but without the least languor. The landscape was that broad plain I have mentioned, with Shasta on its verge, intersected by low rolling ridges, and broken by the cones of extinct volcanic spiracles, sometimes grouped, but oftener isolated. Shasta himself seemed to have gained rather than lost in majesty by our forty and now steadily increasing miles of distance. Either from atmospheric effect, or because we now saw a new and more irregular portion of his crown, the snow upon it became opalescent to a degree which I have never seen surpassed by any such effect. The light reflected from it seemed to gleam like a softened flame deep down beneath some pearly medium, rather than any rebound of sunlight from a surface.

The rugged hillocks between which we rode were bare and craggy at their tops, but all about their base, and far down into the plain, grew abundance of a plant wonderfully like the heather in its size as well as in the shape and color of its blossoms. Broad, exquisitely claret-tinted streaks and patches of this lovely thing softened the landscape everywhere. We seemed to be travelling in a beautiful confusion of Nature, where the Scottish Highlands had got together under a California sky with the Roman Campagna. Throughout this sweet desolation reigned a visible and audible quiet which made our horses' hoofs seem noisy. Between Yreka and the Klamath River—a narrow, rapid stream, recalling some portions of the Housatonic, which we intersected about noon, and along which we rode for an hour—we met only two or three silent horsemen and as many eremitic wood-choppers.

Turning north from the Klamath, we dined at a miserable settlement called Cottonwood, around which for miles in every direction departed gold-hunters had burrowed till the ground was a honey-comb, or more properly a last-year's hornets'-nest, since there was no sign of honey in the cells, and, from what a most dejected native told us of the yield, never had been any to speak of.

Leaving dreary Cottonwood with even greater pleasure than we had felt in abandoning Yreka, we began ascending the slope toward the Oregon line. At every mile the country grew lovelier. California seemed determined to make our last impressions of her tender. The bare, brown rocks became densely wooded with oaks and evergreens. Late in the afternoon we came to broad meadows of such refreshing deep-green grass as we had not seen before since we left the rich farming-lands of the Atlantic side, and the level golden bars which lay on them between forest-edges made us homesick with memories of peaceful Eastern lawns at sunset. After crossing several miles of such meadows, and the quiet[Pg 86] brooks which ran through them, we traversed a number of strange low ridges, undulating in systematic rhythm, like a mountain-chain making a series of false starts prior to the word "go," reached the true base of the Siskiyou Mountains, and began our final climb out of the Golden State.

The road was very uneven, rocky, cut up by rivulets from the higher ridges, and in most places only a rude dug-way, with a rocky wall on one side, and a butment of thickly wooded débris steeply descending to a black brawling torrent on the other. But we did not trouble ourselves with the road. The wild beauty of the forest absorbed us on either hand; and we were astonished at the rapid transition which the leaves suddenly took on, from the dry, burnt look, characteristic of the end of the California dry season, to autumnal splendors of red and yellow, hardly rivalled by the numberless varieties of tint in our own October woods. Just as the sun sank out of sight, we reached a lofty commanding ridge, stopped to rest, turned around and saw Shasta looming grandly up out of the valley-twilight, his icy forehead all one mass of gold and ruby fire. It was one of the grandest mountain-sights I ever looked on: such a purple hush over the vast level below us; such colossal broad shadows on the giant's foot; such a wonderful flame on that noble, solitary head, which, but for the unbroken outlines leading up to it out of the twilight, might have been only some loftier cloud catching good-night sun-glimpses at half-way up the firmament. Goodnight from Shasta! Alas, not only to the sun, but to us! We felt a real pang, as we confessed to ourselves that we were now looking upon this noblest and serenest, if not loftiest, of all the mountains in our travel, for the last time in years,—perhaps the last forever. We gazed wistfully till admonished by the deepening twilight; then, as Shasta became a shadow on the horizon, plunged silently into the dense woods again, climbed to the Siskiyou summit, and, descending through almost jetty darkness, were in Oregon.


In the autumn of 1846, six years after my visit to Great Britain in search of glaciers, I sailed for America. When the steamer stopped at Halifax, eager to set foot on the new continent so full of promise for me, I sprang on shore and started at a brisk pace for the heights above the landing. On the first undisturbed ground, after leaving the town, I was met by the familiar signs, the polished surfaces, the furrows and scratches, the line-engraving of the glacier, so well known in the Old World; and I became convinced of what I had already anticipated as the logical sequence of my previous investigations, that here also this great agent had been at work, although it was only after a long residence in America, and repeated investigations of the glacial phenomena in various parts of the country, that I fully understood the universality of its action. A detailed description of these appearances could hardly be more than a monotonous repetition of my statements respecting their existence in other regions; but the peculiar configuration of this continent, as compared with the more mountainous countries of Europe and Asia, has led to some modifications of the same phenomena here, worthy of special notice.

Thus far, the traces of ancient glaciers in America have been studied only east of the Rocky Mountains; little is known[Pg 87] of the glaciers still remaining in the high mountain-ranges dividing the eastern part of the continent from California, still less respecting any indications of their former extension. There can be little doubt that such traces exist, and as soon as the so-called parks between Pike's Peak and Long Peak are explored, we may hope for information on this point. Indeed, the investigation may be spoken of as already undertaken; for among the exploring parties now on their way to that region are some intelligent observers who will not fail to make this point a subject of special study. But it is well known that the usual characteristic marks of glaciers extend over the whole surface of the land in the eastern half of the continent, from the Atlantic shores to the States west of the Mississippi, and from the Arctic Sea to the latitude of the Ohio, in its middle course, while within the range of the Alleghanies they stretch as far south as Georgia and Alabama. In no other region where these traces have been observed do they extend over such wide tracts of country in unbroken continuity, this being of course owing to the level character of the land itself.

The continent of North America, east of the Rocky Mountains, is, indeed, an immense uniform plain, intersected from east to west only by the ranges of low hills running in the direction of the St. Lawrence and the Canadian lakes, and from northeast to southwest by the Alleghany range stretching from Alabama to New England, where it trends towards the Canadian hills in the ridges known as the Green and White Mountains. This coast-range has a short slope towards the Atlantic, and a long one in the direction of the great Mississippi valley. With the exception of some higher points of the Alleghany range, the surface of this whole plain is glacier-worn from the Arctic regions to about the fortieth degree of northern latitude, the glacier-marks trending from north to south, with occasional slight inclinations to the east or west, according to the minor inequalities of the surface. There is, however, no decided modification of their general trend in consequence of the range of hills intersecting them at right angles for nearly the whole width of the continent between latitudes forty-six and fifty; indeed, the Canadian, or, as they are sometimes called, the Laurentian Hills, formed a no more powerful barrier to the onward progress of the immense fields of ice covering the continent than did the small hummocks, or roches moutonnées, in the Swiss valleys to the advance of the Alpine glaciers. In fact, these low hills may be considered as a succession of roches moutonnées, trending in a continuous ridge from east to west, over which the masses of northern ice have moved unimpeded to the latitude of the Ohio.

Owing to the absence of high mountain-ranges over this vast expanse of land, the glacial phenomena of America are not grouped about special centres of dispersion, or radiating from them, as in Europe. During the greatest extension of the ice-fields, there were but few prominent peaks rising above them, and dropping here and there huge boulders on their surface, to be transported to great distances without losing their rough angular character. And when the temperature under which these vast frozen masses had been formed rose again, the wasting ice must have yielded first on its southern boundary, gradually and uniformly retreating to the Arctic regions, without breaking up into distinct glacial regions, separated from one another, each with its local distribution of erratic boulders and glacier-marks radiating from circumscribed areas on higher levels, as they occur everywhere in Europe. It is true that there are a few localities within the Alleghany range, on the Green and White Mountains, and in parts of Maine, where it is evident that local glaciers have had a temporary existence; but even throughout this eastern coast-range the elevation of the mountains is so slight, and their trend so uniform in a northeasterly and southwesterly direction through twenty degrees of latitude, that the localization of the phenomena is less marked[Pg 88] than in Norway, Great Britain, or Switzerland. In short, the ice of the great glacial period in America moved over the continent as one continuous sheet, overriding nearly all the inequalities of the surface. Thus the peculiar physical character of the country gives a new aspect to the study of glacial evidences here. The polished surfaces stretch continuously over hundreds and hundreds of miles; the rectilinear scratches, grooves, and furrows are unbroken for great distances; the drift spreads in one vast sheet over the whole land, consisting of an indiscriminate medley of clays, sands, gravels, pebbles, boulders of all dimensions, and so uniformly mixed together that it presents hardly any difference in its composition, whether we examine it in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, in Iowa beyond the Mississippi, in the more northern Territories, or in Canada.

In Europe, boulders of large dimensions do not often occur within the drift, but are usually resting above it with their sharp angles and rough surfaces unchanged, having travelled evidently upon the glacier and not under it. But such large boulders, polished and scratched like the smaller pebbles, are to be found everywhere imbedded in American drift, while the angular fragments of rock resting above these triturated masses are comparatively rare.[H] It is evident from this that the ice overtopped the rocky inequalities of the land, and that the detached fragments remaining beneath the icy covering underwent the same action from friction and pressure to which the whole mass of drift was subjected. The distribution of the few angular boulders scattered over the country no doubt began when some of the higher portions of the land had emerged from the mass of snow and ice; and they are most frequent in New England, where the mountain-elevation is greatest.

The mineralogical character of the loose materials forming the American drift leaves no doubt that the whole movement, with the exception of a few local modifications easily accounted for by the lay of the land, was from north to south, all the fragments not belonging to the localities where they occur being readily traced to rocks in situ to the north of their present resting-places. The farther one journeys from their origin, the more extraordinary does the presence of these boulders become. It strikes one strangely to find even in New England fragments of rock from the shores of Lake Superior; but it is still more impressive to meet with masses of northern rock on the prairies of Illinois or Iowa. One may follow these boulders to the fortieth degree of latitude, beyond which they become more and more rare, while the finer drift alone extends farther south.

It is not only, however, by tracking the boulders back to their origin in the North that we ascertain the starting-point of the whole mass; we have another kind of evidence to this effect, already alluded to in the description of the[Pg 89] roches moutonnées. Wherever the natural surface of any hill, having a steep southern slope, is exposed, the marks are always found to be very distinct on the northern side and entirely wanting on the southern one, showing, that, as in the case of many of the roches moutonnées in Switzerland, the mass moved up the northern slope, forcing its way against it, grinding and furrowing the northern face of the hill as it moved over it, but bridging the opposite side in its descent without coming into contact with it.[I] This is true, not only of hills, but of much slighter obstacles which presented themselves in the path of the ice. Even pebbles imbedded in masses of pudding-stone, but rising sometimes above the level of the general surface, often have their northern side polished and scratched, while the southern one remains untouched.

Moraines are not wanting to complete the chain of evidence respecting the ancient existence of glaciers in this country, although we cannot expect to find them here so frequently as in Europe, where the many local glaciers in circumscribed valleys afforded special facilities for the building up of these lateral and transverse walls. Over the broad expanse of the United States, on the contrary, with such slight variations of level, the disappearance of the ice at its breaking-up would naturally be more complete and continuous than in a country intersected by frequent mountain-chains, where the ice would linger in the higher valleys long after it had disappeared from the plains below. Yet it is evident that here also in certain localities the boundary-line of the ice underwent oscillations, pausing here and there long enough to collect mounds of the same character as those spanning the valleys of Switzerland and Great Britain. We have several of these mounds in our immediate vicinity. The Waverley Oaks, so well known to all lovers of fine trees in our community, stand on an ancient moraine, and there are others in the neighborhood of the Blue Hills. In the southeastern parts of Maine, also, I have observed very well-defined moraines. In Vermont, the valley of the Winooski River retains ample traces of the local glacier by which it was formerly filled; and, indeed, throughout the Alleghany range, in its northeastern as well as its southern extension, we have various evidences of localized glaciers, which must have outlived the general ice-period for a longer or shorter time.

I am unwilling to weary my readers by dwelling upon appearances identical with those already described; but I may state, for the guidance of those who wish to investigate these traces for themselves, that any recently uncovered ledge of rock in our neighborhood, the surface of which has not been altered by atmospheric agencies, presents the glacier-worn surfaces with the characteristic striæ and furrows. These marks may be traced everywhere, even to the sea-shore, not only down to the water's edge, but beneath it, where-ever the harder rocks have resisted the action of the tides and retain their original character. In our granitic regions intersected by innumerable trap dikes, as, for instance, at Nahant, the smooth surface of many of the rocks, where sienite and trap have been evenly levelled, shows that the same inexorable saw, cutting alike through hard and soft materials, has passed over them. In the hills of pudding-stone in the neighborhood of Roxbury, we have quartz pebbles cut down to the same level with the softer paste in which they lie imbedded with pebbles of sandstone, clay-slate, gneiss, and limestone. In the limestone regions of Western New York and Northern Ohio, about the neighborhood of Buffalo and Cleveland, the flat surfaces of the limestone are most uniformly polished, furrowed, and scratched, the furrows often exhibiting that staccato grating action described in a former article. I have observed the same traces in the vicinity of Milwaukee and Iowa City, and we know, from the accounts given by Arctic travellers of their overland expeditions, that these peculiar appearances of[Pg 90] the surface are characteristic of the rocks in those regions, wherever they are not disintegrating under the influence of the present atmospheric agents.

Upon these surfaces, through the whole expanse of the country, rests the drift, having everywhere the characteristic composition of glacier-drift, and nowhere that of an aqueous stratified deposit, except when afterwards remodelled by the action of water. But of this stratified drift I shall have occasion to speak more in detail hereafter. There is, however, one circumstance, of frequent occurrence along our New-England shores, requiring special explanation, because it is generally misunderstood. Along our sea-shore, and even within the harbor of Boston, at the base of the harbor-islands, as well as at the outlet of our larger Atlantic streams, numbers of boulders are found of considerable size; and this fact is often adduced as showing the power of water to transport massive fragments of rock to great distances, the mineralogical character of these boulders being frequently such as to show that they cannot have originated in the neighborhood of their present resting-places. But a careful examination of the surrounding country, and a comparison of the nature and level of the drift on the mainland with those of the same deposits on the harbor-islands, (a series of evidence to be given with more detail in a future article,) suggest a different explanation of these phenomena. The sheet of drift was once more continuous and extensive than it is now, and the localities in which we find these crops of boulders are spots where the tide has eaten into the drift, wearing away the finer materials, or the paste in which the larger fragments were imbedded, and allowing them to fall to the bottom, or where the same result has been produced by the action of rivers cutting their way through the drift, and thus finding an outlet to the sea. In short, instead of showing the power of currents to carry along heavy fragments, these stranded boulders prove, on the contrary, the inability of water to produce any such effect, since it is evident that the tides washing against the shore, or the rivers rushing down to the sea, were equally incapable of bearing off the weightier materials, and allowed them to drop to the bottom, while they readily swept away the lighter ones. Such localities compare with the surrounding drift much as the bottom of a gravel-pit which has been partially worked compares with its banks. Look into any gravel-pit, a portion of which has already been carted away. At its bottom a number of larger stones and boulders are usually lying, too heavy for the cart, and therefore left upon the spot. Fragments of the same size and character, and equally numerous, will be seen protruding at various heights from the sides, where they are imbedded in the general mass of the drift. As soon as the work progresses a little farther, and the finer materials are removed, these boulders will also drop out, and lie as thickly scattered over the surface of the ground, as they now do in that portion of the bottom where the pit has been completely opened and the gravel removed. We shall see hereafter how these boulders, derived from the land-drift and scattered along the coast, may be distinguished from those cast ashore by icebergs.

Notwithstanding the number of facts thus far collected respecting glacial phenomena in America, certainly forming in their combination a very strong chain of evidence, the scientific world has, nevertheless, been slow to admit the possibility of the former existence of glaciers over such a wide, unbroken expanse of level land. This backwardness is, no doubt, partly due to the fact, that, as glaciers have hitherto been studied in mountainous countries, their presence has been supposed to imply the presence of mountains, this impression being strengthened by the downward and onward movement of existing glaciers, so long supposed to be exclusively due to the slopes along which all modern glaciers advance. Were it true that glaciers move solely or mainly on account of the sloping bottom on which they rest, and that they can advance[Pg 91] only on an inclined plane, all the phenomena concerning drift, polished and furrowed surfaces, boulders, etc., in America, would hardly justify us in assuming a moving sheet of ice as their cause. But we have seen that the phenomena of glaciers, like those of currents, are in great part meteorological. The Gulf-Stream does not flow toward the English shore because the ocean-bottom slopes eastward; nor does the cold current of Baffin's Bay run down-hill when it pours its icy waters southward upon our northeast coast. Their course is determined by laws of temperature, and so have we also seen that the motion of glaciers is mainly determined by conditions of temperature, although, in this case, an internal mechanical action is combined with external influences; and while it is true that glaciers, as they now exist, are dependent upon the shape of the valleys in lofty mountain-chains, yet under different geographical conditions the same phenomena may be produced over level, open countries.

I believe that circumstances similar to those determining the more rapid advance of the glaciers from higher to lower levels at that point where the alternate thawing and freezing, the infiltration of water and consequent expansion of the ice under frost, are greatest, would also determine the motion of a large body of ice from north to south, since it would be along its southern limits that these conditions would prevail; while the great reservoir of snow at the north would correspond to the upper troughs of the present glaciers, from which their lower ranges are constantly fed. The change of snow into ice is owing to alterations of temperature, to partial melting and subsequent freezing, constantly renewed,—and also to the sinking of the mass upon itself in consequence of its own weight, the lower portions being thus forced out by the pressure of the superincumbent ice. Upon an inclined plane the movement consequent upon these changes will of course be downward; but what would be the result, if a field of snow many thousand feet thick, corresponding, except in its greater bulk, to the accumulations by which the present glaciers are caused, were stretched over an extensive level surface? The moisture from the upper superficial layers would permeate the larger mass as it now does the smaller one, trickling down into its lower portions, while the pressure from above would render the bottom hard and compact, changing it gradually into ice. If this should take place under climatic conditions which would keep the whole as a mass in a frozen state, the pressure from above would force out the lower ice in every direction beyond its original circumscription, thus enlarging the area covered by it, while the whole would subside in its bulk. Let us for a moment assume that such an accumulation of snow takes place around the northern and southern poles, stretching thence over the northern and southern hemispheres to latitude forty, and that this field of snow acquires a thickness of from twelve to fifteen thousand feet. Such a mass would subside upon itself in consequence of its own weight; it would be transformed into ice with greater or less rapidity and completeness, according to the latitude determining the surrounding climatic influences and the amount of moisture falling upon it as rain or dew, the alternations of temperature being of course more frequent and greater along its outer limit. In proportion as, with the rising of the temperature, these alternations became more general, a packing of the mass would begin, corresponding to that observed in the glacial valleys of Switzerland, though here the action would not be intensified by lateral pressure; an internal movement of the whole mass would be initiated, and the result could be no other than a uniform advance in a southerly direction from the Arctic toward the more temperate latitudes in Europe, Asia, and North America, and from the Antarctic toward South America, the Cape of Good Hope, and Van Diemen's Land. But we need not build up a theoretical case in order[Pg 92] to form an approximate idea of the great ice-sheet stretching over the northern part of this continent during the glacial period. It would seem that man was intended to decipher the past history of his home, for some remnants or traces of all its great events are left as a key to the whole. Greenland and the Arctic regions hold all that remains of the glacial period in North America. Their shrunken ice-fields, formidable as they seem to us, are to the frozen masses of that secular winter but as the patches of snow and ice lingering on the north side of our hills after the spring has opened; let us expand them in imagination till they extend over half the continent, and we shall have a sufficiently vivid picture of this frozen world. And a temperature which would bring the climate of Greenland down to the fortieth degree of latitude would not only render the field of ice far more extensive, but thousands of feet thicker than it is at present. The physical configuration of Greenland also confirms the possibility of a glacial period in America, for there we have at this moment a wide expanse of land unbroken by mountains, over which a uniform sheet of ice moves southward, with occasional variations of its trend according to the undulations of the surface. The interesting accounts of Dr. Rink show that in reality Greenland is a miniature picture of the ice-period. The immense number of icebergs breaking off and floating southward every summer gives us some idea of the annual waste and renewal of the ice. How can we doubt, that, when, under the same latitude, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, England, and Ireland were covered by sheets of ice many thousand feet in height, the ice-fields of Greenland must have shared in the same climatic influences, and have been much thicker and far more extensive than they are at present?

Notwithstanding the absence of lofty mountain-chains in America, we are not wholly without the means of measuring the thickness of the ice-sheet, by comparing it, as in Europe, with some of our highest elevations. The slopes of the Alleghany range, wherever they have been examined, are glacier-worn to the very top, with the exception of a few points; but these points are sufficient to give us data for the comparison. Mount Washington, for instance, is over six thousand feet high, and the rough, unpolished surface of its summit, covered with loose fragments, just below the level of which glacier-marks come to an end, tells us that it lifted its head alone above the desolate waste of ice and snow. In this region, then, the thickness of the sheet cannot have been much less than six thousand feet, and this is in keeping with the same kind of evidence in other parts of the country; for, wherever the mountains are much below six thousand feet, the ice seems to have passed directly over them, while the few peaks rising to that height are left untouched. And while we can thus sink our plummet from the summit to the base of Mount Washington and measure the thickness of the mass of ice, we have a no less accurate indication of its extension in the undulating line marking the southern termination of the drift. I have shown that the moraines mark the oscillations of the glaciers in Europe. Where such accumulations of loose materials took place at its terminus, there we know the glacier must have held its ground long enough to allow time for the collection of these débris. In the same way we may trace the southern border of our ancient ice-sheet on this continent by the limit of the boulders; beyond that line it evidently did not advance as a solid mass, since it ceased to transport the heavier materials. But as soon as the outskirts of the ice began to yield and to flow off as water, the lighter portions of the drift were swept onward; and hence we find a sheet of finer drift-deposit, sand and gravel more or less distinctly stratified, carried to greater or less distances, and fading into the Southern States, where it mingles with the most recent river-deposits.

One naturally asks, What was the[Pg 93] use of this great engine set at work ages ago to grind, furrow, and knead over, as it were, the surface of the earth? We have our answer in the fertile soil which spreads over the temperate regions of the globe. The glacier was God's great plough; and when the ice vanished from the face of the land, it left it prepared for the hand of the husbandman. The hard surface of the rocks was ground to powder, the elements of the soil were mingled in fair proportions, granite was carried into the lime regions, lime was mingled with the more arid and unproductive granite districts, and a soil was prepared fit for the agricultural uses of man. I have been asked whether this inference was not inconsistent with the fact that a rich vegetation preceded the ice-period,—a vegetation sufficiently abundant to sustain the tropical animals then living throughout the temperate regions. But the vegetation which has succeeded the ice-period is of a different character, and one that could not have flourished on a soil that would nourish a more tropical growth. The soil we have now over the temperate zone is a grain-growing soil,—one especially adapted to those plants most necessary to the higher domestic and social organizations of the human race. Therefore I think we may believe that God did not shroud the world He had made in snow and ice without a purpose, and that this, like many other operations of His Providence, seemingly destructive and chaotic in its first effects, is nevertheless a work of beneficence and order.

In the next article, in order to put the reader in possession of the glacial question as it stands at present, I shall say something of the possible causes of this extraordinary accumulation of snow,—though all such explanations are thus far mere suggestions,—and shall also give some more precise estimates of the changes of temperature involved in the history of the glacial period, before proceeding to the consideration of the effects produced by the breaking-up of the ice, as shown in our stratified lowland drift, and in our estuaries and river-terraces.


[H] The greater proportion of large, rounded boulders in the American drift, as compared with the European, is a singular fact not fully met by the above explanation; since, while the number of mountain-peaks rising above the ice in Europe would account for the frequency of large angular fragments transported upon its surface, there would seem to be no reason why the drift, carried along by a mass of ice having the same thickness in both continents, should not contain as many rounded masses in one as in the other. The facts, however, are as I have stated them, and the difference may be due partly to the broken character of the ground over which the drift must have passed in Europe, subjecting it to a more violent process of friction and grinding than in America, and partly to the use that has been made of the drift-boulders during so many centuries for building-purposes in the Old World, the drift-boulders being naturally taken first, because they are more easily reached, while the angular ones are frequently perched on almost inaccessible spots. Indeed, the stone fences in both countries tell us the use to which many of the rounded boulders have been put, and the ground in many parts of the United States has already been cleared to a great extent of its rocky fragments for this and like purposes. In the course of time they will, no doubt, disappear from the surface of this country, as they have done from that of Europe.

[I] Fuller descriptions of these polished hills may be found in my work on Lake Superior.




While I was preparing my article for the "Atlantic," our friend Bob Stephens burst in upon us, in some considerable heat, with a newspaper in his hand.

"Well, girls, your time is come now! You women have been preaching heroism and sacrifice to us,—so splendid to go forth and suffer and die for our country,—and now comes the test of feminine patriotism."

"Why, what's the matter now?" said Jennie, running eagerly to look over his shoulder at the paper.

"No more foreign goods," said he, waving it aloft,—"no more gold shipped to Europe for silks, laces, jewels, kid gloves, and what-not. Here it is,—great movement, headed by senators' and generals' wives, Mrs. General Butler, Mrs. John P. Hale, Mrs. Henry Wilson, and so on, a long string of them, to buy no more imported articles during the war."

"But I don't see how it can be done," said Jennie.

"Why," said I, "do you suppose that 'nothing to wear' is made in America?"[Pg 94]

"But, dear Mr. Crowfield," said Miss Featherstone, a nice girl, who was just then one of our family-circle, "there is not, positively, much that is really fit to use or wear made in America,—is there now? Just think; how is Marianne to furnish her house here without French papers and English carpets?—those American papers are so common, and as to American carpets, everybody knows their colors don't hold; and then, as to dress, a lady must have gloves, you know,—and everybody knows no such things are made in America as gloves."

"I think," I said, "that I have heard of certain fair ladies wishing that they were men, that they might show with what alacrity they would sacrifice everything on the altar of their country: life and limb would be nothing; they would glory in wounds and bruises, they would enjoy losing a right arm, they wouldn't mind limping about on a lame leg the rest of their lives, if they were John or Peter, if only they might serve their dear country."

"Yes," said Bob, "that's female patriotism! Girls are always ready to jump off from precipices, or throw themselves into abysses, but as to wearing an unfashionable hat or thread gloves, that they can't do,—not even for their dear country. No matter whether there's any money left to pay for the war or not, the dear souls must have twenty yards of silk in a dress,—it's the fashion, you know."

"Now, isn't he too bad?" said Marianne. "As if we'd ever been asked to make these sacrifices and refused! I think I have seen women ready to give up dress and fashion and everything else, for a good cause."

"For that matter," said I, "the history of all wars has shown women ready to sacrifice what is most intimately feminine in times of peril to their country. The women of Carthage not only gave up their jewels in the siege of their city, but, in the last extremity, cut off their hair for bow-strings. The women of Hungary and Poland, in their country's need, sold their jewels and plate and wore ornaments of iron and lead. In the time of our own Revolution, our women dressed in plain homespun and drank herb-tea,—and certainly nothing is more feminine than a cup of tea. And in this very struggle, the women of the Southern States have cut up their carpets for blankets, have borne the most humiliating retrenchments and privations of all kinds without a murmur. So let us exonerate the female sex of want of patriotism, at any rate."

"Certainly," said my wife; "and if our Northern women have not retrenched and made sacrifices, it has been because it has not been impressed on them that there is any particular call for it. Everything has seemed to be so prosperous and plentiful in the Northern States, money has been so abundant and easy to come by, that it has really been difficult to realize that a dreadful and destructive war was raging. Only occasionally, after a great battle, when the lists of the killed and wounded have been sent through the country, have we felt that we were making a sacrifice. The women who have spent such sums for laces and jewels and silks have not had it set clearly before them why they should not do so. The money has been placed freely in their hands, and the temptation before their eyes."

"Yes," said Jennie, "I am quite sure that there are hundreds who have been buying foreign goods, who would not do it, if they could see any connection between their not doing it and the salvation of the country; but when I go to buy a pair of gloves, I naturally want the best pair I can find, the pair that will last the longest and look the best, and these always happen to be French gloves."

"Then," said Miss Featherstone, "I never could clearly see why people should confine their patronage and encouragement to works of their own country. I'm sure the poor manufacturers of England have shown the very noblest spirit with relation to our cause, and so have the silk-weavers and artisans of France,—at[Pg 95] least, so I have heard; why should we not give them a fair share of encouragement, particularly when they make things that we are not in circumstances to make, have not the means to make?"

"Those are certainly sensible questions," I replied, "and ought to meet a fair answer, and I should say, that, were our country in a fair ordinary state of prosperity, there would be no reason why our wealth should not flow out for the encouragement of well-directed industry in any part of the world; from this point of view we might look on the whole world as our country, and cheerfully assist in developing its wealth and resources. But our country is now in the situation of a private family whose means are absorbed by an expensive sickness, involving the life of its head; just now it is all we can do to keep the family together, all our means are swallowed up by our own domestic wants, we have nothing to give for the encouragement of other families, we must exist ourselves, we must get through this crisis and hold our own, and that we may do it all the family-expenses must be kept within ourselves as far as possible. If we drain off all the gold of the country to send to Europe to encourage her worthy artisans, we produce high prices and distress among equally worthy ones at home, and we lessen the amount of our resources for maintaining the great struggle for national existence. The same amount of money which we pay for foreign luxuries, if passed into the hands of our own manufacturers and producers, becomes available for the increasing expenses of the war."

"But, papa," said Jennie, "I understood that a great part of our Governmental income was derived from the duties on foreign goods and so I inferred that the more foreign goods were imported the better it would be."

"Well, suppose," said I, "that for every hundred thousand dollars we send out of the country we pay the Government ten thousand; that is about what our gain as a nation would be;—we send our gold abroad in a great stream, and give our Government a little driblet."

"Well, but," said Miss Featherstone, "what can be got in America? Hardly anything, I believe, except common calicoes."

"Begging your pardon, my dear lady," said I, "there is where you and multitudes of others are greatly mistaken. Your partiality for foreign things has kept you ignorant of what you have at home. Now I am not blaming the love of foreign things; it is not peculiar to us Americans; all nations have it. It is a part of the poetry of our nature to love what comes from afar, and reminds us of lands distant and different from our own. The English belles seek after French laces; the French beauty enumerates English laces among her rarities; and the French dandy piques himself upon an English tailor. We Americans are great travellers, and few people travel, I fancy, with more real enjoyment than we; our domestic establishments, as compared with those of the Old World, are less cumbrous and stately, and so our money is commonly in hand as pocket-money, to be spent freely and gayly in our tours abroad.

"We have such bright and pleasant times in every country that we conceive a kindliness for its belongings. To send to Paris for our dresses and our shoes and our gloves may not be a mere bit of foppery, but a reminder of the bright, pleasant hours we have spent in that city of Boulevards and fountains. Hence it comes, in a way not very blamable, that many people have been so engrossed with what can be got from abroad that they have neglected to inquire what can be found at home; they have supposed, of course, that to get a decent watch they must send to Geneva or to London,—that to get thoroughly good carpets they must have the English manufacture,—that a really tasteful wall-paper could be found only in Paris,—and that flannels and broadcloths could come only from France, Great Britain, or Germany."

"Well, isn't it so?" said Miss Featherstone.[Pg 96] "I certainly have always thought so; I never heard of American watches, I'm sure."

"Then," said I, "I'm sure you can't have read an article that you should have read on the Waltham watches, written by our friend George W. Curtis, in the "Atlantic" for January of last year. I must refer you to that to learn that we make in America watches superior to those of Switzerland or England, bringing into the service machinery and modes of workmanship unequalled for delicacy and precision; as I said before, you must get the article and read it, and if some sunny day you could make a trip to Waltham, and see the establishment, it would greatly assist your comprehension."

"Then, as to men's clothing," said Bob, "I know to my entire satisfaction that many of the most popular cloths for men's wear are actually American fabrics baptized with French and English names to make them sell."

"Which shows," said I, "the use of a general community-movement to employ American goods. It will change the fashion. The demand will create the supply. When the leaders of fashion are inquiring for American instead of French and English fabrics, they will be surprised to find what nice American articles there are. The work of our own hands will no more be forced to skulk into the market under French and English names, and we shall see, what is really true, that an American gentleman need not look beyond his own country for a wardrobe befitting him. I am positive that we need not seek broadcloth or other woollen goods from foreign lands,—that better hats are made in America than in Europe, and better boots and shoes; and I should be glad to send an American gentleman to the World's Fair dressed from top to toe in American manufactures, with an American watch in his pocket, and see if he would suffer in comparison with the gentlemen of any other country."

"Then, as to house-furnishing," began my wife, "American carpets are getting to be every way equal to the English."

"Yes," said I, "and what is more, the Brussels carpets of England are woven on looms invented by an American, and bought of him. Our countryman, Bigelow, went to England to study carpet-weaving in the English looms,—supposing that all arts were generously open for the instruction of learners. He was denied the opportunity of studying the machinery and watching the processes by a short-sighted jealousy. He immediately sat down with a yard of carpeting, and, patiently unravelling it, thread by thread, combined and calculated till he invented the machinery on which the best carpets of the Old and New World are woven. No pains which such ingenuity and energy can render effective are spared to make our fabrics equal those of the British market, and we need only to be disabused of the old prejudice, and to keep up with the movement of our own country, and find out our own resources. The fact is, every year improves our fabrics. Our mechanics, our manufacturers, are working with an energy, a zeal, and a skill that carry things forward faster than anybody dreams of; and nobody can predicate the character of American articles, in any department, now, by their character even five years ago."

"Well, as to wall-papers," said Miss Featherstone, "there you must confess the French are and must be unequalled."

"I do not confess any such thing," said I, hardily. "I grant you that in that department of paper-hangings which exhibits floral decoration the French designs and execution are and must be for some time to come far ahead of all the world,—their drawing of flowers, vines, and foliage has the accuracy of botanical studies and the grace of finished works of art, and we cannot as yet pretend in America to do anything equal to it. But for satin finish, and for a variety of exquisite tints of plain colors, American papers equal any in the world;[Pg 97] our gilt papers even surpass in the heaviness and polish of the gilding those of foreign countries; and we have also gorgeous velvets. All I have to say is, let people who are furnishing houses inquire for articles of American manufacture, and they will be surprised at what they will see. We need go no farther than our Cambridge glass-works to see that the most dainty devices of cut-glass, crystal, ground and engraved glass of every color and pattern, may be had of American workmanship, every way equal to the best European make, and for half the price. In fact, it would require very little self-denial to resolve to carpet and paper and furnish a house entirely from the manufactures of America."

"Well," said Miss Featherstone, "there is one point you cannot make out,—gloves; certainly the French have the monopoly of that article."

"I am not going to ruin my cause by asserting too much," said I. "I haven't been with nicely dressed women so many years not to speak with proper respect of Alexander's gloves,—and I confess, honestly, that to forego them must be a fair, square sacrifice to patriotism. But then, on the other hand, it is nevertheless true that gloves have long been made in America and surreptitiously brought into market as French. I have lately heard that very nice kid gloves are made at Watertown and in Philadelphia. I have only heard of them, and not seen. A loud demand might bring forth an unexpected supply from these and other sources. If the women of America were bent on having gloves made in their own country, how long would it be before apparatus and factories would spring into being? Look at the hoop-skirt factories,—women wanted hoop-skirts,—would have them or die,—and forthwith factories arose, and hoop-skirts became as the dust of the earth for abundance."

"Yes," said Miss Featherstone, "and, to say the truth, the American hoop-skirts are the only ones fit to wear. When we were living on the Champs Élysées, I remember we searched high and low for something like them, and finally had to send home to America for some."

"Well," said I, "that shows what I said. Let there be only a hearty call for an article, and it will come. These spirits of the vasty deep are not so very far off, after all, as we may imagine, and women's unions and leagues will lead to inquiries and demands which will as infallibly bring supplies as a vacuum will create a draught of air."

"But, at least, there are no ribbons made in America," said Miss Featherstone.

"Pardon, my lady, there is a ribbon-factory now in operation in Boston, and ribbons of every color are made in New York; there is also in the vicinity of Boston a factory which makes Roman scarfs. This shows that the faculty of weaving ribbons is not wanting to us Americans, and a zealous patronage would increase the supply.

"As to silks and satins, I am not going to pretend that they are to be found here. It is true, there are silk manufactories, like that of the Cheneys in Connecticut, where very pretty foulard dress-silks are made, together with sewing-silk enough to supply a large demand. Enough has been done to show that silks might be made in America; but at present, as compared with Europe, we claim neither silks nor thread laces among our manufactures.

"But what then? These are not necessaries of life. Ladies can be very tastefully dressed in other fabrics besides silks. There are many pretty American dress-goods which the leaders of fashion might make fashionable; and certainly no leader of fashion could wish to dress for a nobler object than to aid her country in deadly peril.

"It is not a life-pledge, not a total abstinence, that is asked,—only a temporary expedient to meet a stringent crisis. Surely, women whose exertions in Sanitary Fairs have created an era in the history of the world will not shrink from so small a sacrifice for so obvious a good.

"Here is something in which every individual[Pg 98] woman can help. Every woman who goes into a shop and asks for American goods renders an appreciable aid to our cause. She expresses her opinion and her patriotism; and her voice forms a part of that demand which shall arouse and develop the resources of her country. We shall learn to know our own country. We shall learn to respect our own powers,—and every branch of useful labor will spring and flourish under our well-directed efforts. We shall come out of our great contest, not bedraggled, ragged, and poverty-stricken, but developed, instructed, and rich. Then will we gladly join with other nations in the free interchange of manufactures, and gratify our eye and taste with what is foreign, while we can in turn send abroad our own productions in equal ratio."

"Upon my word," said Miss Featherstone, "I should think it was the Fourth of July,—but I yield the point. I am convinced; and henceforth you will see me among the most stringent of the leaguers."

"Right!" said I.

And, fair lady-reader, let me hope you will say the same. You can do something for your country,—it lies right in your hand. Go to the shops, determined on supplying your family and yourself with American goods. Insist on having them; raise the question of origin over every article shown to you. In the Revolutionary times, some of the leading matrons of New England gave parties where the ladies were dressed in homespun and drank sage-tea. Fashion makes all things beautiful, and you, my charming and accomplished friend, can create beauty by creating fashion. What makes the beauty of half the Cashmere shawls? Not anything in the shawls themselves, for they look coarse and dingy. It is the association with style and fashion. Fair lady, give style and fashion to the products of your own country,—resolve that the money in your hand shall go to your brave brothers, to your co-Americans, now straining every nerve to uphold the nation, and cause it to stand high in the earth. What are you without your country? As Americans you can hope for no rank but the rank of your native land, no badge of nobility but her beautiful stars. It rests with this conflict to decide whether those stars shall be badges of nobility to you and your children in all lands. Women of America, your country expects every woman to do her duty!


It is with a sad pleasure that the readers of this magazine will see in its pages the first chapter of "The Dolliver Romance," the latest record of Nathaniel Hawthorne meant for the public eye. The charm of his description and the sweet flow of his style will lead all who open upon it to read on to the closing paragraph. With its harmonious cadences the music of this quaint, mystic overture is suddenly hushed, and we seem to hear instead the tolling of a bell in the far distance. The procession of shadowy characters which was gathering in our imaginations about the ancient man and the little child who come so clearly before our sight seems to fade away, and in its place a slow-pacing train winds through the village-road and up the wooded hill-side until it stops at a little opening among the tall trees. There the bed is made in which he whose dreams had peopled our common life with shapes and thoughts of beauty and wonder is to take his rest. This is the end of the first chapter we have been reading, and of that other[Pg 99] first chapter in the life of an Immortal, whose folded pages will be opened, we trust, in the light of a brighter day.

It was my fortune to be among the last of the friends who looked upon Hawthorne's living face. Late in the afternoon of the day before he left Boston on his last journey I called upon him at the hotel where he was staying. He had gone out but a moment before. Looking along the street, I saw a figure at some distance in advance which could only be his,—but how changed from his former port and figure! There was no mistaking the long iron-gray locks, the carriage of the head, and the general look of the natural outlines and movement; but he seemed to have shrunken in all his dimensions, and faltered along with an uncertain, feeble step, as if every movement were an effort. I joined him, and we walked together half an hour, during which time I learned so much of his state of mind and body as could be got at without worrying him with suggestive questions,—my object being to form an opinion of his condition, as I had been requested to do, and to give him some hints that might be useful to him on his journey.

His aspect, medically considered, was very unfavorable. There were persistent local symptoms, referred especially to the stomach,—"boring pain," distension, difficult digestion, with great wasting of flesh and strength. He was very gentle, very willing to answer questions, very docile to such counsel as I offered him, but evidently had no hope of recovering his health. He spoke as if his work were done, and he should write no more.

With all his obvious depression, there was no failing noticeable in his conversational powers. There was the same backwardness and hesitancy which in his best days it was hard for him to overcome, so that talking with him was almost like love-making, and his shy, beautiful soul had to be wooed from its bashful pudency like an unschooled maiden. The calm despondency with which he spoke about himself confirmed the unfavorable opinion suggested by his look and history.

The journey on which Mr. Hawthorne was setting out, when I saw him, was undertaken for the benefit of his health. A few weeks earlier he had left Boston on a similar errand in company with Mr. William D. Ticknor, who had kindly volunteered to be his companion in a trip which promised to be of some extent and duration, and from which this faithful friend, whose generous devotion deserves the most grateful remembrance, hoped to bring him back restored, or at least made stronger. Death joined the travellers, but it was not the invalid whom he selected as his victim. The strong man was taken, and the suffering valetudinarian found himself charged with those last duties which he was so soon to need at the hands of others. The fatigue of mind and body thus substituted for the recreation which he greatly needed must have hastened the course of his disease, or at least have weakened his powers of resistance to no small extent.

Once more, however, in company with his old college-friend and classmate, Ex-President Pierce, he made the attempt to recover his lost health by this second journey. My visit to him on the day before his departure was a somewhat peculiar one, partly of friendship, but partly also in compliance with the request I have referred to.

I asked only such questions as were like to afford practical hints as to the way in which he should manage himself on his journey. It was more important that he should go away as hopeful as might be than that a searching examination should point him to the precise part diseased, condemning him to a forlorn self-knowledge such as the masters of the art of diagnosis sometimes rashly substitute for the ignorance which is comparative happiness. Being supposed to remember something of the craft pleasantly satirized in the chapter before us, I volunteered, not "an infallible panacea of my own distillation," but some familiar palliatives which I hoped might relieve the symptoms[Pg 100] of which he complained most. The history of his disease must, I suppose, remain unwritten, and perhaps it is just as well that it should be so. Men of sensibility and genius hate to have their infirmities dragged out of them by the roots in exhaustive series of cross-questionings and harassing physical explorations, and he who has enlarged the domain of the human soul may perhaps be spared his contribution to the pathology of the human body. At least, I was thankful that it was not my duty to sound all the jarring chords of this sensitive organism, and that a few cheering words and the prescription of a not ungrateful sedative and cordial or two could not lay on me the reproach of having given him his "final bitter taste of this world, perhaps doomed to be a recollected nauseousness in the next."

There was nothing in Mr. Hawthorne's aspect that gave warning of so sudden an end as that which startled us all. It seems probable that he died by the gentlest of all modes of release, fainting, without the trouble and confusion of coming back to life,—a way of ending liable to happen in any disease attended with much debility.

Mr. Hawthorne died in the town of Plymouth, New Hampshire, on the nineteenth of May. The moment, and even the hour, could not be told, for he had passed away without giving any sign of suffering, such as might call the attention of the friend near him. On Monday, the twenty-third of May, his body was given back to earth in the place where he had long lived, and which he had helped to make widely known,—the ancient town of Concord.

The day of his burial will always live in the memory of all who shared in its solemn, grateful duties. All the fair sights and sweet sounds of the opening season mingled their enchantments as if in homage to the dead master, who, as a lover of Nature and a student of life, had given such wealth of poetry to our New-England home, and invested the stern outlines of Puritan character with the colors of romance. It was the bridal day of the season, perfect in light as if heaven were looking on, perfect in air as if Nature herself were sighing for our loss. The orchards were all in fresh flower,—

"One boundless blush, one white-empurpled shower
Of mingled blossoms";—

the banks were literally blue with violets; the elms were putting out their tender leaves, just in that passing aspect which Raphael loved to pencil in the backgrounds of his holy pictures, not as yet printing deep shadows, but only mottling the sunshine at their feet. The birds were in full song; the pines were musical with the soft winds they sweetened. All was in faultless accord, and every heart was filled with the beauty that flooded the landscape.

The church where the funeral services were performed was luminous with the whitest blossoms of the luxuriant spring. A great throng of those who loved him, of those who honored his genius, of those who held him in kindly esteem as a neighbor and friend, filled the edifice. Most of those who were present wished to look once more at the features which they remembered with the lights and shadows of life's sunshine upon them. The cold moonbeam of death lay white on the noble forehead and still, placid features; but they never looked fuller of power than in this last aspect with which they met the eyes that were turned upon them.

In a patch of sunlight, flecked by the shade of tall, murmuring pines, at the summit of a gently swelling mound where the wild-flowers had climbed to find the light and the stirring of fresh breezes, the tired poet was laid beneath the green turf. Poet let us call him, though his chants were not modulated in the rhythm of verse. The element of poetry is air: we know the poet by his atmospheric effects, by the blue of his distances, by the softening of every hard outline he touches, by the silvery mist in which he veils deformity and clothes what is common so that it changes to awe-inspiring mystery,[Pg 101] by the clouds of gold and purple which are the drapery of his dreams. And surely we have had but one prose-writer who could be compared with him in aërial perspective, if we may use the painter's term. If Irving is the Claude of our unrhymed poetry, Hawthorne is its Poussin.

This is not the occasion for the analysis and valuation of Hawthorne's genius. If the reader wishes to see a thoughtful and generous estimate of his powers, and a just recognition of the singular beauty of his style, he may turn to the number of this magazine published in May, 1860. The last effort of Hawthorne's creative mind is before him in the chapter here printed. The hand of the dead master shows itself in every line. The shapes and scenes he pictures slide at once into our consciousness, as if they belonged there as much as our own homes and relatives. That limpid flow of expression, never laboring, never shallow, never hurried nor uneven nor turbid, but moving on with tranquil force, clear to the depths of its profoundest thought, shows itself with all its consummate perfections. Our literature could ill spare the rich ripe autumn of such a life as Hawthorne's, but he has left enough to keep his name in remembrance as long as the language in which he shaped his deep imaginations is spoken by human lips.


Doctor Dolliver, a worthy personage of extreme antiquity, was aroused rather prematurely, one summer morning, by the shouts of the child Pansie, in an adjoining chamber, summoning Old Martha (who performed the duties of nurse, housekeeper, and kitchen-maid, in the Doctor's establishment) to take up her little ladyship and dress her. The old gentleman woke with more than his customary alacrity, and, after taking a moment to gather his wits about him, pulled aside the faded moreen curtains of his ancient bed, and thrust his head into a beam of sunshine that caused him to wink and withdraw it again. This transitory glimpse of good Dr. Dolliver showed a flannel nightcap, fringed round with stray locks of silvery white hair, and surmounting a meagre and duskily yellow visage, which was crossed and criss-crossed with a record of his long life in wrinkles, faithfully written, no doubt, but with such cramped chirography of Father Time that the purport was illegible. It seemed hardly worth while for the patriarch to get out of bed any more, and bring his forlorn shadow into the summer day that was made for younger folks. The Doctor, however, was by no means of that opinion, being considerably encouraged towards the toil of living twenty-four hours longer by the comparative ease with which he found himself going through the usually painful process of bestirring his rusty joints, (stiffened by the very rest and sleep that should have made them pliable,) and putting them in a condition to bear his weight upon the floor. Nor was he absolutely disheartened by the idea of those tonsorial, ablutionary, and personally decorative labors which are apt to become so intolerably irksome to an old gentleman, after performing them daily and daily for fifty, sixty, or seventy years, and finding them still as immitigably recurrent as at first. Dr. Dolliver could nowise account for this happy condition of his spirits and physical energies, until he remembered taking an experimental sip of a certain cordial which was long ago prepared by his grandson and carefully scaled up in a bottle, and had been reposited in a dark[Pg 102] closet among a parcel of effete medicines ever since that gifted young man's death.

"It may have wrought effect upon me," thought the Doctor, shaking his head as he lifted it again from the pillow. "It may be so; for poor Cornelius oftentimes instilled a strange efficacy into his perilous drugs. But I will rather believe it to be the operation of God's mercy, which may have temporarily invigorated my feeble age for little Pansie's sake."

A twinge of his familiar rheumatism, as he put his foot out of bed, taught him that he must not reckon too confidently upon even a day's respite from the intrusive family of aches and infirmities which, with their proverbial fidelity to attachments once formed, had long been the closest acquaintances that the poor old gentleman had in the world. Nevertheless, he fancied the twinge a little less poignant than those of yesterday; and, moreover, after stinging him pretty smartly, it passed gradually off with a thrill, which, in its latter stages, grew to be almost agreeable. Pain is but pleasure too strongly emphasized. With cautious movements, and only a groan or two, the good Doctor transferred himself from the bed to the floor, where he stood awhile, gazing from one piece of quaint furniture to another, (such as stiff-backed Mayflower chairs, an oaken chest-of-drawers carved cunningly with shapes of animals and wreaths of foliage, a table with multitudinous legs, a family-record in faded embroidery, a shelf of black-bound books, a dirty heap of gallipots and phials in a dim corner,)—gazing at these things and steadying himself by the bedpost, while his inert brain, still partially benumbed with sleep, came slowly into accordance with the realities about him. The object which most helped to bring Dr. Dolliver completely to his waking perceptions was one that common observers might suppose to have been snatched bodily out of his dreams. The same sunbeam that had dazzled the Doctor between the bed-curtains gleamed on the weather-beaten gilding which had once adorned this mysterious symbol, and showed it to be an enormous serpent, twining round a wooden post, and reaching quite from the floor of the chamber to its ceiling.

It was evidently a thing that could boast of considerable antiquity, the dry-rot having eaten out its eyes and gnawed away the tip of its tail; and it must have stood long exposed to the atmosphere, for a kind of gray moss had partially overspread its tarnished gilt surface, and a swallow, or other familiar little bird, in some by-gone summer, seemed to have built its nest in the yawning and exaggerated mouth. It looked like a kind of Manichean idol, which might have been elevated on a pedestal for a century or so, enjoying the worship of its votaries in the open air, until the impious sect perished from among men,—all save old Dr. Dolliver, who had set up the monster in his bedchamber for the convenience of private devotion. But we are unpardonable in suggesting such a fantasy to the prejudice of our venerable friend, knowing him to have been as pious and upright a Christian, and with as little of the serpent in his character, as ever came of Puritan lineage. Not to make a further mystery about a very simple matter, this bedimmed and rotten reptile was once the medical emblem or apothecary's sign of the famous Dr. Swinnerton, who practised physic in the earlier days of New England, when a head of Æsculapius or Hippocrates would have vexed the souls of the righteous as savoring of heathendom. The ancient dispenser of drugs had therefore set up an image of the Brazen Serpent, and followed his business for many years, with great credit, under this Scriptural device; and Dr. Dolliver, being the apprentice, pupil, and humble friend of the learned Swinnerton's old age, had inherited the symbolic snake, and much other valuable property, by his bequest.

While the patriarch was putting on his small-clothes, he took care to stand in the parallelogram of bright sunshine that fell upon the uncarpeted floor. The[Pg 103] summer warmth was very genial to his system, and yet made him shiver; his wintry veins rejoiced at it, though the reviving blood tingled through them with a half painful and only half pleasurable titillation. For the first few moments after creeping out of bed, he kept his back to the sunny window and seemed mysteriously shy of glancing thitherward; but as the June fervor pervaded him more and more thoroughly, he turned bravely about, and looked forth at a burial-ground on the corner of which he dwelt. There lay many an old acquaintance, who had gone to sleep with the flavor of Dr. Dolliver's tinctures and powders upon his tongue; it was the patient's final bitter taste of this world, and perhaps doomed to be a recollected nauseousness in the next. Yesterday, in the chill of his forlorn old age, the Doctor expected soon to stretch out his weary bones among that quiet community, and might scarcely have shrunk from the prospect on his own account, except, indeed, that he dreamily mixed up the infirmities of his present condition with the repose of the approaching one, being haunted by a notion that the damp earth, under the grass and dandelions, must needs be pernicious for his cough and his rheumatism. But, this morning, the cheerful sunbeams, or the mere taste of his grandson's cordial that he had taken at bedtime, or the fitful vigor that often sports irreverently with aged people, had caused an unfrozen drop of youthfulness, somewhere within him, to expand.

"Hem! ahem!" quoth the Doctor, hoping with one effort to clear his throat of the dregs of a ten years' cough. "Matters are not so far gone with me as I thought. I have known mighty sensible men, when only a little age-stricken or otherwise out of sorts, to die of mere faint-heartedness, a great deal sooner than they need."

He shook his silvery head at his own image in the looking-glass, as if to impress the apophthegm on that shadowy representative of himself; and for his part, he determined to pluck up a spirit and live as long as he possibly could, if it were only for the sake of little Pansie, who stood as close to one extremity of human life as her great-grandfather to the other. This child of three years old occupied all the unfossilized portion of good Dr. Dolliver's heart. Every other interest that he formerly had, and the entire confraternity of persons whom he once loved, had long ago departed, and the poor Doctor could not follow them, because the grasp of Pansie's baby-fingers held him back.

So he crammed a great silver watch into his fob, and drew on a patchwork morning-gown of an ancient fashion. Its original material was said to have been the embroidered front of his own wedding-waistcoat and the silken skirt of his wife's bridal attire, which his eldest granddaughter had taken from the carved chest-of-drawers, after poor Bessie, the beloved of his youth, had been half a century in the grave. Throughout many of the intervening years, as the garment got ragged, the spinsters of the old man's family had quilted their duty and affection into it in the shape of patches upon patches, rose-color, crimson, blue, violet, and green, and then (as their hopes faded, and their life kept growing shadier, and their attire took a sombre hue) sober gray and great fragments of funereal black, until the Doctor could revive the memory of most things that had befallen him by looking at his patchwork-gown, as it hung upon a chair. And now it was ragged again, and all the fingers that should have mended it were cold. It had an Eastern fragrance, too, a smell of drugs, strong-scented herbs, and spicy gums, gathered from the many potent infusions that had from time to time been spilt over it; so that, snuffing him afar off, you might have taken Dr. Dolliver for a mummy, and could hardly have been undeceived by his shrunken and torpid aspect, as he crept nearer.

Wrapt in his odorous and many-colored robe, he took staff in hand and moved pretty vigorously to the head of the staircase. As it was somewhat steep, and but dimly lighted, he began cautiously to descend,[Pg 104] putting his left hand on the banister, and poking down his long stick to assist him in making sure of the successive steps; and thus he became a living illustration of the accuracy of Scripture, where it describes the aged as being "afraid of that which is high,"—a truth that is often found to have a sadder purport than its external one. Half-way to the bottom, however, the Doctor heard the impatient and authoritative tones of little Pansie,—Queen Pansie, as she might fairly have been styled, in reference to her position in the household,—calling amain for grandpapa and breakfast. He was startled into such perilous activity by the summons, that his heels slid on the stairs, the slippers were shuffled off his feet, and he saved himself from a tumble only by quickening his pace, and coming down at almost a run.

"Mercy on my poor old bones!" mentally exclaimed the Doctor, fancying himself fractured in fifty places. "Some of them are broken, surely, and methinks my heart has leaped out of my mouth! What! all right? Well, well! but Providence is kinder to me than I deserve, prancing down this steep staircase like a kid of three months old!"

He bent stiffly to gather up his slippers and fallen staff; and meanwhile Pansie had heard the tumult of her great-grandfather's descent, and was pounding against the door of the breakfast-room in her haste to come at him. The Doctor opened it, and there she stood, a rather pale and large-eyed little thing, quaint in her aspect, as might well be the case with a motherless child, dwelling in an uncheerful house, with no other playmates than a decrepit old man and a kitten, and no better atmosphere within-doors than the odor of decayed apothecary's-stuff, nor gayer neighborhood than that of the adjacent burial-ground, where all her relatives, from her great-grandmother downward, lay calling to her, "Pansie, Pansie, it is bedtime!" even in the prime of the summer morning. For those dead womenfolk, especially her mother and the whole row of maiden aunts and grand-aunts, could not but be anxious about the child, knowing that little Pansie would be far safer under a tuft of dandelions than if left alone, as she soon must be, in this difficult and deceitful world.

Yet, in spite of the lack of damask roses in her cheeks, she seemed a healthy child, and certainly showed great capacity of energetic movement in the impulsive capers with which she welcomed her venerable progenitor. She shouted out her satisfaction, moreover, (as her custom was, having never had any over-sensitive auditors about her to tame down her voice,) till even the Doctor's dull ears were full of the clamor.

"Pansie, darling," said Dr. Dolliver cheerily, patting her brown hair with his tremulous fingers, "thou hast put some of thine own friskiness into poor old grandfather, this fine morning! Dost know, child, that he came near breaking his neck down-stairs at the sound of thy voice? What wouldst thou have done then, little Pansie?"

"Kiss poor grandpapa and make him well!" answered the child, remembering the Doctor's own mode of cure in similar mishaps to herself. "It shall do poor grandpapa good!" she added, putting up her mouth to apply the remedy.

"Ah, little one, thou hast greater faith in thy medicines than ever I had in my drugs," replied the patriarch with a giggle, surprised and delighted at his own readiness of response. "But the kiss is good for my feeble old heart, Pansie, though it might do little to mend a broken neck; so give grandpapa another dose, and let us to breakfast."

In this merry humor they sat down to the table, great-grandpapa and Pansie side by side, and the kitten, as soon appeared, making a third in the party. First, she showed her mottled head out of Pansie's lap, delicately sipping milk from the child's basin without rebuke; then she took post on the old gentleman's shoulder, purring like a spinning-wheel,[Pg 105] trying her claws in the wadding of his dressing-gown, and still more impressively reminding him of her presence by putting out a paw to intercept a warmed-over morsel of yesterday's chicken on its way to the Doctor's mouth. After skilfully achieving this feat, she scrambled down upon the breakfast-table and began to wash her face and hands. Evidently, these companions were all three on intimate terms, as was natural enough, since a great many childish impulses were softly creeping back on the simple-minded old man; insomuch that, if no worldly necessities nor painful infirmity had disturbed him, his remnant of life might have been as cheaply and cheerily enjoyed as the early playtime of the kitten and the child. Old Dr. Dolliver and his great-grand-daughter (a ponderous title, which seemed quite to overwhelm the tiny figure of Pansie) had met one another at the two extremities of the life-circle: her sunrise served him for a sunset, illuminating his locks of silver and hers of golden brown with a homogeneous shimmer of twinkling light.

Little Pansie was the one earthly creature that inherited a drop of the Dolliver blood. The Doctor's only child, poor Bessie's offspring, had died the better part of a hundred years before, and his grandchildren, a numerous and dimly remembered brood, had vanished along his weary track in their youth, maturity, or incipient age, till, hardly knowing how it had all happened, he found himself tottering onward with an infant's small fingers in his nerveless grasp. So mistily did his dead progeny come and go in the patriarch's decayed recollection, that this solitary child represented for him the successive babyhoods of the many that had gone before. The emotions of his early paternity came back to him. She seemed the baby of a past age oftener than she seemed Pansie. A whole family of grand-aunts, (one of whom had perished in her cradle, never so mature as Pansie now, another in her virgin bloom, another in autumnal maidenhood, yellow and shrivelled, with vinegar in her blood, and still another, a forlorn widow, whose grief outlasted even its vitality, and grew to be merely a torpid habit, and was saddest then,)—all their hitherto forgotten features peeped through the face of the great-grandchild, and their long inaudible voices sobbed, shouted, or laughed, in her familiar tones. But it often happened to Dr. Dolliver, while frolicking amid this throng of ghosts, where the one reality looked no more vivid than its shadowy sisters,—it often happened that his eyes filled with tears at a sudden perception of what a sad and poverty-stricken old man he was, already remote from his own generation, and bound to stray farther onward as the sole playmate and protector of a child!

As Dr. Dolliver, in spite of his advanced epoch of life, is likely to remain a considerable time longer upon our hands, we deem it expedient to give a brief sketch of his position, in order that the story may get onward with the greater freedom when he rises from the breakfast-table. Deeming it a matter of courtesy, we have allowed him the honorary title of Doctor, as did all his towns-people and contemporaries, except, perhaps, one or two formal old physicians, stingy of civil phrases and over-jealous of their own professional dignity. Nevertheless, these crusty graduates were technically right in excluding Dr. Dolliver from their fraternity. He had never received the degree of any medical school, nor (save it might be for the cure of a toothache, or a child's rash, or a whitlow on a seamstress's finger, or some such trifling malady) had he ever been even a practitioner of the awful science with which his popular designation connected him. Our old friend, in short, even at his highest social elevation, claimed to be nothing more than an apothecary, and, in these later and far less prosperous days, scarcely so much. Since the death of his last surviving grandson, (Pansie's father, whom he had instructed in all the mysteries of his[Pg 106] science, and who, being distinguished by an experimental and inventive tendency, was generally believed to have poisoned himself with an infallible panacea of his own distillation,)—since that final bereavement, Dr. Dolliver's once pretty flourishing business had lamentably declined. After a few months of unavailing struggle, he found it expedient to take down the Brazen Serpent from the position to which Dr. Swinnerton had originally elevated it, in front of his shop in the main street, and to retire to his private dwelling, situated in a by-lane and on the edge of a burial-ground.

This house, as well as the Brazen Serpent, some old medical books, and a drawer full of manuscripts, had come to him by the legacy of Dr. Swinnerton. The dreariness of the locality had been of small importance to our friend in his young manhood, when he first led his fair wife over the threshold, and so long as neither of them had any kinship with the human dust that rose into little hillocks, and still kept accumulating beneath their window. But, too soon afterwards, when poor Bessie herself had gone early to rest there, it is probable that an influence from her grave may have prematurely calmed and depressed her widowed husband, taking away much of the energy from what should have been the most active portion of his life. Thus he never grew rich. His thrifty townsmen used to tell him, that, in any other man's hands, Dr. Swinnerton's Brazen Serpent (meaning, I presume, the inherited credit and good-will of that old worthy's trade) would need but ten years' time to transmute its brass into gold. In Dr. Dolliver's keeping, as we have seen, the inauspicious symbol lost the greater part of what superficial gilding it originally had. Matters had not mended with him in more advanced life, after he had deposited a further and further portion of his heart and its affections in each successive one of a long row of kindred graves; and as he stood over the last of them, holding Pansie by the hand and looking down upon the coffin of his grandson, it is no wonder that the old man wept, partly for those gone before, but not so bitterly as for the little one that stayed behind. Why had not God taken her with the rest? And then, so hopeless as he was, so destitute of possibilities of good, his weary frame, his decrepit bones, his dried-up heart, might have crumbled into dust at once, and have been scattered by the next wind over all the heaps of earth that were akin to him.

This intensity of desolation, however, was of too positive a character to be long sustained by a person of Dr. Dolliver's original gentleness and simplicity, and now so completely tamed by age and misfortune. Even before he turned away from the grave, he grew conscious of a slightly cheering and invigorating effect from the tight grasp of the child's warm little hand. Feeble as he was, she seemed to adopt him willingly for her protector. And the Doctor never afterwards shrank from his duty nor quailed beneath it, but bore himself like a man, striving, amid the sloth of age and the breaking-up of intellect, to earn the competency which he had failed to accumulate even in his most vigorous days.

To the extent of securing a present subsistence for Pansie and himself, he was successful. After his son's death, when the Brazen Serpent fell into popular disrepute, a small share of tenacious patronage followed the old man into his retirement. In his prime, he had been allowed to possess more skill than usually fell to the share of a Colonial apothecary, having been regularly apprenticed to Dr. Swinnerton, who, throughout his long practice, was accustomed personally to concoct the medicines which he prescribed and dispensed. It was believed, indeed, that the ancient physician had learned the art at the world-famous drug-manufactory of Apothecary's Hall, in London, and, as some people half-malignly whispered, had perfected himself under masters more subtle than were to be found even there. Unquestionably, in many critical cases[Pg 107] he was known to have employed remedies of mysterious composition and dangerous potency, which in less skilful hands would have been more likely to kill than cure. He would willingly, it is said, have taught his apprentice the secrets of these prescriptions, but the latter, being of a timid character and delicate conscience, had shrunk from acquaintance with them. It was probably as the result of the same scrupulosity that Dr. Dolliver had always declined to enter the medical profession, in which his old instructor had set him such heroic examples of adventurous dealing with matters of life and death. Nevertheless, the aromatic fragrance, so to speak, of the learned Swinnerton's reputation had clung to our friend through life; and there were elaborate preparations in the pharmacopœia of that day, requiring such minute skill and conscientious fidelity in the concocter that the physicians were still glad to confide them to one in whom these qualities were so evident.

Moreover, the grandmothers of the community were kind to him, and mindful of his perfumes, his rose-water, his cosmetics, tooth-powders, pomanders, and pomades, the scented memory of which lingered about their toilet-tables, or came faintly back from the days when they were beautiful. Among this class of customers there was still a demand for certain comfortable little nostrums, (delicately sweet and pungent to the taste, cheering to the spirits, and fragrant in the breath,) the proper distillation of which was the airiest secret that the mystic Swinnerton had left behind him. And, besides, these old ladies had always liked the manners of Dr. Dolliver, and used to speak of his gentle courtesy behind the counter as having positively been something to admire; though, of later years, an unrefined, an almost rustic simplicity, such as belonged to his humble ancestors, appeared to have taken possession of him, as it often does of prettily mannered men in their late decay.

But it resulted from all these favorable circumstances that the Doctor's marble mortar, though worn with long service and considerably damaged by a crack that pervaded it, continued to keep up an occasional intimacy with the pestle; and he still weighed drachms and scruples in his delicate scales, though it seemed impossible, dealing with such minute quantities, that his tremulous fingers should not put in too little or too much, leaving out life with the deficiency or spilling in death with the surplus. To say the truth, his stanchest friends were beginning to think that Dr. Dolliver's fits of absence (when his mind appeared absolutely to depart from him, while his frail old body worked on mechanically) rendered him not quite trustworthy without a close supervision of his proceedings. It was impossible, however, to convince the aged apothecary of the necessity for such vigilance; and if anything could stir up his gentle temper to wrath, or, as oftener happened, to tears, it was the attempt (which he was marvellously quick to detect) thus to interfere with his long-familiar business.

The public, meanwhile, ceasing to regard Dr. Dolliver in his professional aspect, had begun to take an interest in him as perhaps their oldest fellow-citizen. It was he that remembered the Great Fire and the Great Snow, and that had been a grown-up stripling at the terrible epoch of Witch-Times, and a child just breeched at the breaking-out of King Philip's Indian War. He, too, in his school-boy days, had received a benediction from the patriarchal Governor Bradstreet, and thus could boast (somewhat as Bishops do of their unbroken succession from the Apostles) of a transmitted blessing from the whole company of sainted Pilgrims, among whom the venerable magistrate had been an honored companion. Viewing their townsman in this aspect, the people revoked the courteous Doctorate with which they had heretofore decorated him, and now knew him most familiarly as Grandsir Dolliver. His white head, his Puritan band, his threadbare garb, (the fashion of which[Pg 108] he had ceased to change, half a century ago,) his gold-headed staff, that had been Dr. Swinnerton's, his shrunken, frosty figure, and its feeble movement,—all these characteristics had a wholeness and permanence in the public recognition, like the meeting-house steeple or the town-pump. All the younger portion of the inhabitants unconsciously ascribed a sort of aged immortality to Grandsir Dolliver's infirm and reverend presence. They fancied that he had been born old, (at least, I remember entertaining some such notions about age-stricken people, when I myself was young,) and that he could the better tolerate his aches and incommodities, his dull ears and dim eyes, his remoteness from human intercourse within the crust of indurated years, the cold temperature that kept him always shivering and sad, the heavy burden that invisibly bent down his shoulders,—that all these intolerable things might bring a kind of enjoyment to Grandsir Dolliver, as the life-long conditions of his peculiar existence.

But, alas! it was a terrible mistake. This weight of years had a perennial novelty for the poor sufferer. He never grew accustomed to it, but, long as he had now borne the fretful torpor of his waning life, and patient as he seemed, he still retained an inward consciousness that these stiffened shoulders, these quailing knees, this cloudiness of sight and brain, this confused forgetfulness of men and affairs, were troublesome accidents that did not really belong to him. He possibly cherished a half-recognized idea that they might pass away. Youth, however eclipsed for a season, is undoubtedly the proper, permanent, and genuine condition of man; and if we look closely into this dreary delusion of growing old, we shall find that it never absolutely succeeds in laying hold of our innermost convictions. A sombre garment, woven of life's unrealities, has muffled us from our true self, but within it smiles the young man whom we knew; the ashes of many perishable things have fallen upon our youthful fire, but beneath them lurk the seeds of inextinguishable flame. So powerful is this instinctive faith that men of simple modes of character are prone to antedate its consummation. And thus it happened with poor Grandsir Dolliver, who often awoke from an old man's fitful sleep with a sense that his senile predicament was but a dream of the past night; and hobbling hastily across the cold floor to the looking-glass, he would be grievously disappointed at beholding the white hair, the wrinkles and furrows, the ashen visage and bent form, the melancholy mask of Age, in which, as he now remembered, some strange and sad enchantment had involved him for years gone by!

To other eyes than his own, however, the shrivelled old gentleman looked as if there were little hope of his throwing off this too artfully wrought disguise, until, at no distant day, his stooping figure should be straightened out, his hoary locks be smoothed over his brows, and his much enduring bones be laid safely away, with a green coverlet spread over them, beside his Bessie, who doubtless would recognize her youthful companion in spite of his ugly garniture of decay. He longed to be gazed at by the loving eyes now closed; he shrank from the hard stare of them that loved him not. Walking the streets seldom and reluctantly, he felt a dreary impulse to elude the people's observation, as if with a sense that he had gone irrevocably out of fashion, and broken his connecting links with the network of human life; or else it was that nightmare-feeling which we sometimes have in dreams, when we seem to find ourselves wandering through a crowded avenue, with the noonday sun upon us, in some wild extravagance of dress or nudity. He was conscious of estrangement from his towns-people, but did not always know how nor wherefore, nor why he should be thus groping through the twilight mist in solitude. If they spoke loudly to him, with cheery voices, the greeting translated itself faintly and mournfully to his ears; if they shook him by the hand, it was as if a[Pg 109] thick, insensible glove absorbed the kindly pressure and the warmth. When little Pansie was the companion of his walk, her childish gayety and freedom did not avail to bring him into closer relationship with men, but seemed to follow him into that region of indefinable remoteness, that dismal Fairy-Land of aged fancy, into which old Grandsir Dolliver had so strangely crept away.

Yet there were moments, as many persons had noticed, when the great-grandpapa would suddenly take stronger hues of life. It was as if his faded figure had been colored over anew, or at least, as he and Pansie moved along the street, as if a sunbeam had fallen across him, instead of the gray gloom of an instant before. His chilled sensibilities had probably been touched and quickened by the warm contiguity of his little companion through the medium of her hand, as it stirred within his own, or some inflection of her voice that set his memory ringing and chiming with forgotten sounds. While that music lasted, the old man was alive and happy. And there were seasons, it might be, happier than even these, when Pansie had been kissed and put to bed, and Grandsir Dolliver sat by his fireside gazing in among the massive coals, and absorbing their glow into those cavernous abysses with which all men communicate. Hence come angels or fiends into our twilight musings, according as we may have peopled them in by-gone years. Over our friend's face, in the rosy flicker of the fire-gleam, stole an expression of repose and perfect trust that made him as beautiful to look at, in his high-backed chair, as the child Pansie on her pillow; and sometimes the spirits that were watching him beheld a calm surprise draw slowly over his features and brighten into joy, yet not go vividly as to break his evening quietude. The gate of heaven had been kindly left ajar, that this forlorn old creature might catch a glimpse within. All the night afterwards, he would be semi-conscious of an intangible bliss diffused through the fitful lapses of an old man's slumber, and would awake, at early dawn, with a faint thrilling of the heart-strings, as if there had been music just now wandering over them.


It is not only for gold that men labor, fight, and die. One labors long to perfect an invention; another, to illustrate a theory; a third, to express a sentiment; a fourth, to acquire real estate. With success, the first has a machine; the second, a treatise; the third, a poem; the fourth, a deed. Perhaps no other four persons would willingly expend the same amount of labor on the same objects; yet this difference of estimate effects no difference in the objects. Estimation, therefore, or value, is not a quality of those objects, but a state of mind in relation to them; accordingly, the poem has value as well as the machine,—the deed, as well as the wealth it defines. The value of the deed is, however, widely different from that of the wealth. The value of the wealth is based on desire, that of the deed on right, though in neither case exclusively, as, in a general sense, value always involves both desire and right, and is, therefore, a commercial relation, resulting from a state of society.

Men have the sense of right, and the intellect to define it, the will to defend, and the power to enforce it; and, for the more perfect development of these capabilities, they have instituted government. The functions of government are, therefore, the definition, the defence, and the enforcement of right.

The exercise of the function of definition[Pg 110] led to the invention of two classes of commercial instrumentalities,—the real, consisting of weights and measures, and the ideal or representative, consisting of writing and notation. The exercise of the remaining functions of government secures the wealth these serve to define. It may, indeed, be true, in a rude sense, that possession is nine points of the law; but it is equally true, in a proper sense, that the remaining point is worth more than the nine; the defence and enforcement of right being an absolute and well-defined rule of government. In a state of barbarism men prefer fact to right, for an obvious reason; but as they advance in science and civilization, as their conceptions become more distinct, their definitions more exact, their defences more complete, and their enforcements more powerful, their faith in right increases, and their esteem increases with their faith, until right becomes of more value than possession.

Exchange, whether by barter or sale, is the result of differences of estimate or value. By barter, the articles exchanged are themselves the mediums; if, therefore, a given article be generally accepted to that use, it becomes a common medium; and if it be divided by government into well-defined quantities, suited and intended for that use, it becomes money. Money, therefore, in its original form, is a common medium of barter, that is accepted to that use by authority of law,—a medium which, considered distinctly from that authority, is simply an article of merchandise possessing qualities that make it preferable as a means of barter, and which, for convenience of use, bears the stamp of the government-inspector, defining the exact quantity contained in each piece, but which, inasmuch as it is authorized, and partakes of the nature of law, has ideal qualities that make it the means of sale: these are, right of use, nomination, and numeration. The ideal qualities of money serve to establish price, to create money of account, to make credits possible, and ultimately to produce credit-mediums of exchange, or bills, which, in a given form, though mere declarations of right to the wealth they are said to represent, become, in the hands of a civilized people, a species of currency that, with all its defects, has proved itself to be the most effectual means both of commerce and of government.

Wealth is that which may be used. Value is that by means of which wealth may be exchanged. A currency, therefore, should consist of representatives of value,—of representatives, because value, being ideal, is known only by that means,—of value, because it is only by differences of estimate or value that exchanges are possible. But, as these representatives are wholly nominal, and may, therefore, be issued in any quantity, and as their increase or decrease affects the value of credits, their issue requires regulation. The quantity of the currency may be well regulated by finding the rate per head of population during a favorable state of trade, and by adhering to that invariably.

That the people of the United States have reached the degree of science and civilization proper to the creation of such a currency is not yet evident; but there is reason to believe that they will take the lead in this as they have in some other actions indicative of advance,—that they will erelong understand the impropriety of attempting to measure value by means of merchandise, that is, by a means that is subject to variations of quantity,—a conclusion that may not appear obvious in this aspect, but it will be readily understood that in commerce a variable measure is absurd in theory and intolerable in practice. Yet this is precisely parallel with using gold, or any other article of merchandise, as a measure of value.

The elements of currency are value, a commercial relation derived from persons, and quantity, a property of things derived heretofore from the precious metals or their representatives. But this quantity is inconstant, and to use an inconstant quantity as a measure, is absurd. The quantity of the currency may, however,[Pg 111] be rendered constant, both positively and relatively, by deriving it wholly from persons,—that is, by giving it an invariable quantitative relation to the population: a rule that is both simple and easy of practice, because value is already nominated and numerated, and the population is already sufficiently well known. The divisions of the currency should be the simplest possible, that is, binary, and the definitions of the parts should be as simple as those of coins.

With regard to the legal-tender currency, so called, it serves well for temporary use,—much better, indeed, than any of its predecessors; and as long as its promises are ignored, and as long as its quantity is not increased faster than the increase of the population, it is practically a value-currency, resting on its own inherent right of use, with the exception of the limitation defined by the law of legal tender.

One of the duties of the National Government is to supply the people with a currency. That this is to be used is sufficiently obvious; and that, being intended for use, and authorized by law, it has the right of use, is equally obvious; there is, therefore, little need of a law of legal tender to give it that right. Accordingly, however affirmative such laws may be in form, their intention is not so much to bestow as to withhold.

That the currencies of the world have great defects is so well known that the statement of the fact would be superfluous, except as introductory to an attempt to ascertain the nature of those defects, and to propose an adequate remedy,—an attempt suggested by the rapidity with which the people, profiting by their present tuition, are learning wisdom by the things which they suffer in the defence and enforcement of right.

Of a specie-currency the defect is want of constancy. This defect, derived from its material element, has a particular and a general aspect. The particular is the reduction of the quantity of metal in coins. The Roman money-unit—the as—consisted originally of a pound of bronze; that of England—the pound sterling—and that of France—the livre—consisted each of a pound of silver. The first Punic war caused the pound of bronze to be reduced to two ounces; the second caused its further reduction to half an ounce; and what now is the weight of the pound sterling? where now is the livre? and what of coins generally? Like these individuals, types of the class, they depreciate. The general aspect is, the occasional reduction of the quantity of coin in circulation. The merchant, believing it to be more immediately profitable, exports the coin,—that is, finding the currency to consist of an article of merchandise that suits his immediate purpose, he treats it accordingly,—though by so doing he causes a rise of prices where he buys and a fall where he sells, and to that extent nullifies his own business-intentions, and deranges those of others. If this derangement be sufficient, hoarding commences; and as this action multiplies itself, the currency is soon reduced to its minimum quantity, and business of every kind with it, until the industry of the country is reduced to a state of atrophy, until a mere commercial derangement is converted into an immense loss; because the rise in the value of the currency, due to its scarcity, causes a corresponding fall in the value of all the wealth of the country, and thus checks industry and stays production.

These defects are not pointed out for the purpose of preventing the adoption of a specie-currency. There is no probability of such a currency ever prevailing in this country, except in the neighborhood of the mines, and there only for a time. Much is said about it, as is usually the case with subjects that are little understood; but the driblets of specie that may be seen occasionally are not a currency; neither are those larger quantities held by banks and brokers. Indeed, a specie-currency in the presence of bank-notes is an impossibility, because the notes proclaim their own inferiority; consequently, the specie is retained and the notes circulated. Yet, the operations[Pg 112] of the mint are continued, with the avowed object of creating a specie currency. This practice is, however, of some use. It serves to show that mind and matter are governed by the same general laws,—that either being put in motion wilt continue to move in the given direction, though the original intention may have ceased. That the original intention of coining has ceased when the use of the precious metals is confined almost exclusively to ornamentation and security is a plain case.

The National Government issues coin for currency, and the States create banks, with the privilege of using the coin as security, and of issuing in its stead a larger quantity of notes. These, diluted in value to the extent of the difference, form, with the authority derived from State laws, a species of currency that, because of its great convenience, derived from its representative character, has become, notwithstanding its defects, one of the greatest powers known to man. The defects of a bank-note currency are, that, being based on specie, it is necessarily inconstant, and being insufficiently based, it is necessarily insecure.

The precious metals are desired for three distinct uses,—ornamentation, security, and currency; they have, therefore, three distinct elements of value. By the creation of banks a portion of the currency is converted into security, and another portion undergoes the same change by reason of the insecurity of bank-notes. Thus, by the influence of banks, the precious metals are deprived of most of the value they had as currency, the specie and the notes depreciating together, and maintaining an equilibrium of value, until the exportation of the former to countries where its value is not thus impaired becomes profitable. Then, if the notes continue to depreciate, as is sometimes the case, the equilibrium is destroyed, and specie commands a premium. This causes the remainder to be hoarded, so that it then commands an additional premium as security, in view of the increasing insecurity of bank-notes.

A result of the inconstancy of a bank-note currency is exhibited in each of its several states,—as a diluted, as a depreciated, and as an irredeemable currency; but more especially in this its third state. But as it is not intended to be redeemed, except to a very limited extent, and as these several states are proper to it, and differ only in degree, it will be sufficient to point out the final result or climax. This is depreciation in relation to specie, because of the demand for that article, first for exportation, and then for security; and, at the same time, appreciation in relation to every other article of merchandise, because of the reduction of its own quantity, necessary to the restoration of the lost equilibrium,—necessary to the reëstablishment of its essential element, credit. Thus it appears that the results of a bank-note currency are similar to those of a specie-currency, but as much more disastrous as its expansions and contractions are greater and more sudden.

To avoid these disasters, it is proposed to issue a national currency that is constant, and that is therefore a standard measure of value,—an instrumentality that commerce has never yet been furnished with, though it is the only one capable of affording to the industry of the country proper, that is, invariable, encouragement. Not being empirical, it will make no pretence of furnishing the precious metals at less than the market-rate, either for exportation or hoarding; but it will have the effect of reducing them to their true position, that of merchandise, so that they may be exchanged for the products of other countries with profit. For the same reason it will not be redeemable. To redeem a currency is to replace it by another. What other? Specie? That is out of the question. However desirable specie may be as wealth, as a currency, except for change, it is a nuisance. Accordingly, merchants prefer a representative currency, even though its representative character be somewhat problematical. And government failing to supply a better,[Pg 113] this becomes the currency of the country by a species of necessity. In short, because of its inconveniences and risks, specie is not used as a currency, and will not be, because, in addition to these obstacles, the representative currency in use, being without proper regulation, has increased to such an extent that there is not sufficient coin to replace it,—a fact that practically settles in the negative the question of the sufficiency of the precious metals for currency, in addition to their other use, in a country where civilization has established credit as a means of trade. Nevertheless, a specie-currency is advocated even by those who carefully avoid handling it, and who would be the last to consent to such a reduction of the currency as its exclusive use would require,—a confusion of mind due to the fact that the difference between value and wealth is not always distinctly recognized. Moreover, it is not the function of a currency to be replaced, but to be a means of payment. This the proposed currency will be by right of use,—a right inherent in a national currency, and respected as long as the government respects itself, that is, as long as the people govern wisely.

A dollar, value-currency, will always buy a dollar's worth of gold, but it may not always buy the quantity of gold contained in the gold dollar. How much it will buy depends on the quantitative relation of the currency to the population,—a relation which, though entirely optional, should never be changed, because, with whatever change, provided the proper relation of the parts to the whole be preserved, with little there will be no lack, and with much, there will be nothing over,—and because any change of that relation is injurious to commerce, inasmuch as it produces a corresponding change in the value of credits. And assuming a change to have been made, a return to the former rate, instead of being a mitigation, will be a repetition of the injury, except in regard to credits so extended that they embrace both changes. If, however, a reduction be insisted on, a suitable mode may be proposed. Twenty dollars per head gives six hundred millions. Assuming this quantity to be superabundant, if it be adhered to until the population reaches forty millions, the rate will be fifteen dollars per head, which may be assumed to be abundant. If it be adhered to until the population reaches sixty millions, which it will probably do in one generation, the rate will be ten dollars per head, which may be assumed to be convenient; and any attained rate may be continued, or made constant, by increasing the currency proportionately with the increase of the population. This mode of reduction, however, is possible with a national value-currency only. A specie-currency is incapable of regulation. The same may be said of any currency based on specie. Indeed, a credit-currency will necessarily collapse under a superabundant issue, unless its promises be ignored, or unless it be sustained at the expense of the nation,—an expense which the nation itself cannot sustain permanently.

The rate of the currency governs the value of wealth. It is important, therefore, that government have time to pay its debts before any great decrease of currency takes place; otherwise, that decrease will be equivalent to an increase of taxes, without producing a corresponding decrease of the public debt. For the portion payable in gold it will be better economy to pay the premium than to reduce the currency sufficiently to avoid it; because such a reduction will work a corresponding reduction of the value of all the wealth of the country, a sum much greater than the debt. It is scarcely necessary to suggest that the more currency the less taxes, and the greater the ability to pay them; or that, when the war is over, government will cease to spend several hundred millions per annum, and the industry this money supports will require time to rearrange and adapt itself to pacific demands; or that, if the currency be suddenly and[Pg 114] largely reduced at such a time, an accumulation of distress will follow, such as is rarely seen. With the proposed currency, however, and the proposed mode of reduction, if a reduction be agreed on, the change from the condition of war to that of peace may take place without producing the prostration of business so justly anticipated, because so fully warranted by experience of a credit-currency, and so earnestly to be deprecated, because so evidently and so easily avoidable by the adoption of a national currency that is capable of regulation, and that, being properly regulated, cannot fail.

Though this currency, like that of bank-notes, is wholly nominal, the words of which it consists are those of a nation, and represent power. Accordingly, they give to the currency power to perform its allotted function; but they give it no other power. Has any other currency any other power? A specie-currency may be converted into ear-rings, but it is no longer a currency; it may be buried in iron pots, or locked in iron safes, but it is not then a currency; it may be exported to foreign lands, but it is not there a currency until reauthorized. Currencies, properly speaking, are ideas clothed in words,—the words of a nation, otherwise called laws. The merchandise attached to a specie-currency is an evidence of former barbarism,—a remain of the primitive practice of barter,—an incongruous element, tending to impede rather than to assist circulation, to destroy rather than to create a currency.

But is a value-currency possible? It is, to a people enjoying universal equality before the law, and knowing that every individual has a direct and immediate interest in it,—knowing that it is a part of the business-policy of each. And it is only such a people that will dare to inaugurate, and persevere to sustain it. Nevertheless, as it cannot but appear problematical to minds that have not given to the subject the most earnest attention, its adoption will doubtless be most strenuously opposed, by habits of thought, by modes of action, and by interests, as ancient, as universal, and apparently as fixed as the race itself. Yet, as M. Arago justly remarks in one of his biographies addressed to the French Academy,—"The moral transformations of society are subject to the laws of continuity; they rise and grow, like the productions of the earth, by imperceptible gradations. Each century develops, discusses, and adapts to itself, in some degree, truths—or, if you prefer it, principles—of which the conception belonged to the preceding century; this work of the mind usually goes on without being perceived by the vulgar; but when the day of application arrives, when principles claim their part in practice, when they aim at penetrating into political life, the ancient interests, if they have only this same antiquity to invoke in their favor, become excited, resist, and struggle, and society is shaken to its foundations. The tableau will be complete, Gentlemen, when I add, that, in these obstinate conflicts, it is never the principles that succumb."

[Pg 115]


J. W.—R. W.

No mystic charm, no mortal art
Can bid our loved companions stay;
The bands that clasp them to our heart
Snap in death's frost and fall apart;
Like shadows fading with the day,
They pass away.
The young are stricken in their pride,
The old, long tottering, faint and fall;
Master and scholar, side by side,
Through the dark portals silent glide,
That open in life's mouldering wall
And close on all.
Our friend's, our teacher's task was done,
When mercy called him from on high;
A little cloud had dimmed the sun,
The saddening hours had just begun,
And darker days were drawing nigh:
'Twas time to die.
A whiter soul, a fairer mind,
A life with purer course and aim,
A gentler eye, a voice more kind,
We may not look on earth to find.
The love that lingers o'er his name
Is more than fame.
These blood-red summers ripen fast;
The sons are older than the sires;
Ere yet the tree to earth is cast,
The sapling falls before the blast;
Life's ashes keep their covered fires,—
Its flame expires.
Struck by the noiseless, viewless foe,
Whose deadlier breath than shot or shell
Has laid the best and bravest low,
His boy, all bright in morning's glow,
That high-souled youth he loved so well,
Untimely fell.
Yet still he wore his placid smile,
And, trustful in the cheering creed
That strives all sorrow to beguile,
Walked calmly on his way awhile:
Ah, breast that leans on breaking reed
Must ever bleed!
[Pg 116]
So they both left us, sire and son,
With opening leaf, with laden bough:
The youth whose race was just begun,
The wearied man whose course was run,
Its record written on his brow,
Are brothers now.
Brothers!—the music of the sound
Breathes softly through my closing strain;
The floor we tread is holy ground,
Those gentle spirits hovering round,
While our fair circle joins again
Its broken chain.
MAY 25th, 1864.


"Thou knowest not the day nor the hour." Scarcely two years ago the great composer, whose recent death involves so irreparable a loss to the world of musical art, was accosted, while in a Paris coffee-house, by a friend recently arrived from Berlin.

"What do they say of me there?" asked Meyerbeer, after the first salutations.

"They say, with regret, that you are just now as reticent as Rossini."


"Yet, after all, they add that you are busier than Rossini, for he is doing nothing, and you, at least, have an opera in your portfolio."

"Ah! I see you are hinting about the 'Africaine'."

"Yes, I refer to the 'Africaine'."

"Bah! bah! The Parisians are in a great hurry about it. I am not dead yet, and some fine day I will astonish them in a way they will remember."

Providence decreed that this harmless boast, this careless prediction, should come to nought. While he was yet working on the "Africaine", the hand of death interposed, and, at the cold touch, the pen was laid aside, the music-paper dropped unheeded on the floor, the piano was silent, and the composer left forever the scene of his labors and his triumphs. Few men might, at the last hour, be more justified in pleading, with earnest anxiety,—"Not now!—not now!"

Biographers already differ about the date of Meyerbeer's birth, some asserting that it took place in 1791, while the majority agree that the day was September 5, 1794. Born of a rich family of Jewish bankers, he was, at an early age, stimulated to honorable exertion by the success in other pursuits of his brother William, the astronomer, and Michael, the poet,—successes which, however, at this day, are chiefly remembered from their association with the name made really famous by the composer. His parents encouraged the talent of the youth, who, at as early an age as Mozart himself, manifested plainly the possession of genius; and when only five years old, the boy was placed under the instruction of Lanska, a local celebrity of Berlin. Two years later, little Jacob was a fair performer on the piano-forte, or such an instrument as at that time served for the Érard, the Chickering, the Steinway of the present day. He played, as a prodigy, at the most fashionable amateur-concerts given at the Prussian capital; and a faded old[Pg 117] copy of a Leipsic paper, which bears the date of 1803, yet survives the destruction awarded to all old newspapers, simply because it mentions the youthful prodigy—then nine years old—as one of the best pianists of his native city.

One of those charming old musical enthusiasts who nowadays are met with only in Germany—and but seldom there—about this time visited Berlin. He heard little Jacob play, and at once predicted that the boy would "one day become one of the glories of Europe," To take lessons in the theory of music was the advice of this old enthusiast, the Abbé Vogler.

So the lad was transferred from the tuition of Lanska to that of Bernard Anselm Weber, a former pupil of old Vogler, and at that time director of the orchestra at the Berlin opera; and from this master the boy learned the art of instrumentation and harmony, to a certain degree at least. Weber was very fond of his pupil, and sent one of his fugues to Vogler, to show the old man that he was not the only one able to turn out accomplished scholars. Two months passed without any answer, and Weber attributed the silence to jealousy, until, one day, a large roll arrived at his house. It contained a complete "Treatise on the Fugue," written entirely by the hand of the old master, and containing also a critical analysis of little Jacob's work, exposing its errors, adding example to precept, by contrasting with it a fugue written by the Abbé on the same theme, and also subjecting the two compositions to a severe and logical criticism, which only proved the superiority of the masterly hand over the inexperienced.

Little Jacob was less mortified by this incident than was his poor teacher, Weber. He took the manuscript, and, after a faithful study of its contents, wrote another eight-part fugue, which he sent himself to Vogler. The result was precisely as he desired: he became a pupil of the old musician.

Among the central towns of Germany, few are more pleasing, and, perhaps, none at all more utterly neglected, than Darmstadt. The capital of a duchy, it contains a harmless, quiet little court, to which are attached a court-church and a court-theatre, alternately attracting the attention of the courtiers. The palace is a quaint old affair, on one side as precise and finished as a modern Italian villa, but taking its revenge by indulging on the opposite side in a series of wild irregularities as incomprehensible as they are picturesque,—old towers, romantic gateways, broken battlements, running ivies, and gay, green foliage, uniting, in charming confusion, to form the most pleasing picture in the dear, lazy old town.

A year or two ago, the quiet, neglected little Darmstadt came temporarily to the surface, and was seen of men. The Princess Alice of England married the heir to the Duchy, and the event aroused (in England especially) a natural curiosity as to the young lady's future home,—a curiosity which has since quite died away. Darmstadt, about twenty years ago, was also somewhat talked of in a distant Northern land; for from the dull old Ducal palace went forth a pretty, delicate-looking girl, who is now the wife of Alexander II, and the Empress of all the Russias.

In the Darmstadt picture-gallery is an old painting of the city as it was just one century ago,—in 1764. It was a very little and a very shabby city then. People dressed in the most ridiculous of costumes, and the picture shows His Serene Highness, arrayed in scarlet and yellow, getting out of a very clumsy, gilded carriage, amid the adulation of bowing and wigged courtiers. When Meyerbeer was there, however, Darmstadt was much as it is to-day,—a city so quiet that you might almost pitch your tent in the middle of the principal street, and sleep undisturbed for a week at least.

The Abbé Vogler was organist of the cathedral, an ugly, clumsy old building, darkened by wide wooden galleries. Meyerbeer was a Jew, but his parents were liberal enough to send him to the fireside of a Christian, and the boy became[Pg 118] an inmate of Vogler's house. For two years he studied faithfully, and by that time was initiated, as he had never been before, into the mysteries of counterpoint. For several years after this he remained with Vogler, studying, working, composing, and enjoying.

Indeed, the biographer who shall give us a permanent "Life of Meyerbeer" must recur to the composer's sojourn in Darmstadt as the most romantic phase of his existence,—when, away from the pleasures and temptations of a great capital, free from the demands of society, with nothing to distract his mind from Art, he consecrated his young life to her service. His few associates of his own age were devoted to the same cause, and all were certainly inspired by a mutual emulation. But only one of the little group, besides the subject of this sketch, has left a name to be remembered,—and that is Carl Maria von Weber. The other two may have had as noble aspirations, as untiring energy, as passionate ambitions; but Fate had decreed that Godefroy von Weber and Gänsbacher should never win the world's applause. Carl Maria and Meyerbeer were the "cronies" of the little school. They were constantly together; they built their air-castles with a view to future joint occupancy; they made their boyish vows of eternal friendship. Among the papers of Weber was found, after his death, one bearing the title, "Cantata, written by Weber for the Birthday of Vogler, and set to Music by Meyerbeer." The words of Weber, it is said, are better than the music of his friend.

All these boys loved their old master, the Abbé, and knew no greater pleasure than to enjoy his personal instructions. The duties of each day were regular, simple, and gladly performed. The Abbé, in his capacity of priest, began by celebrating a mass, at which Carl Maria von Weber assisted, as little boys do in these times at every mass throughout the land. Then, as a maëstro, the Abbé apportioned to each of his pupils the task for the day,—the Kyrie, the Sanctus, or the Gloria in Excelsis. Vogler himself joined in the task, and the completed compositions were sent to the various church-choirs in the Duchy for performance. In the twilight hours, there were strolls about the quiet streets of Darmstadt, in the Ducal gardens, or among the tombstones of an old churchyard in the suburbs of the city. Outside the town there was really little to attract the pleasure-seeker, for Darmstadt lies in a flat, cultivated plain, and its surroundings are tame and monotonous. On Sundays they all went to the cathedral, where there were two organs. The Abbé played one, and as he finished some masterly voluntary or some scientific fugue, his pupils would in turn respond on the other instrument, at times playing fanciful variations, on some theme given out by their teacher, and again wandering in rich extemporaneous harmonies over the old yellow keys. Who knows but that, in this way, the quiet, phlegmatic congregation of the Darmstadt cathedral may have heard, unheedingly, from the hand of Weber, sweet strains which afterwards were elaborated in "Oberon" and "Der Freischütz"? or have listened, with dreamy pleasure, to snatches of melody destined in future years to be woven by Meyerbeer into the score of "Robert" or the "Huguenots"?

Thus the quiet music life at Darmstadt passed on, each of the four boys living but for their art. Meyerbeer was the foremost in success; for, when but seventeen years old, he wrote a religious cantata, called "God and Nature," which, performed before the Duke, secured to him the title of Composer to the Court. In 1811 a still greater excitement disturbed the serenity of Meyerbeer's period of study. Vogler closed his school, and started with his scholars on a tour through the principal cities of Germany. Each of the young composers carried with him a portfolio of original compositions, though they were generous enough to consider a manuscript opera by Meyerbeer, called "The Vow of Jephthah," as the ablest work, and at Munich[Pg 119] aided heartily in preparing it for the stage. In this critical Bavarian capital Meyerbeer made his first appeal to public favor as an operatic composer,—and failed. He was not hissed or ridiculed, but "The Vow of Jephthah" fell coldly on the audience, and was shortly withdrawn.

Doubting whether he was destined to succeed as a composer, Meyerbeer went to Vienna, a city not unfrequently called by musicians Pianopolis, and there he heard Hummel play the piano. He had already taken a few lessons of Clementi, but no sooner did he listen to the former master than he recognized his own inefficiency, and saw work before him. He determined to unite in himself, as a pianist, the brilliancy of execution of Clementi, and the charm, the grace, and purity of Hummel's style. He succeeded, and made his début at a concert at Vienna with the most flattering applause. At this day the amateur would give much to hear exactly how such men as Meyerbeer, and Hummel, and Clementi played, and to compare them with Thalberg, Gottschalk, and Satter. It is impossible to say in what respects Meyerbeer may have fallen behind or surpassed these accomplished executants; but certain it is, that, in the beginning of the present century, and while scarce out of his teens, the favorite pupil of the Abbé Vogler was the favorite pianist of the Vienna public.

Yet, after all his triumphs in the concert-room, he yearned for the greater triumphs of the stage, and leaving the piano to his renowned successors, Chopin and Liszt, he turned again to composing. He wrote an opera called "The Two Caliphs," which, like his previous effort, was replete with strange harmonies, very sparing in melody, and met with the same (lack of) success. The celebrated Metternich—an authority in Art as well as in diplomacy—was present at the production of "The Two Caliphs," but only once ventured to applaud. The old master, Vogler, and the dearer friend, Von Weber, still encouraged the young composer with their approbation, and only blamed a stupid audience that would not discern the beauties appreciable by their sharper ears.

Meyerbeer had good sense, and with a modesty perhaps more unusual in a musician than in any one else, he was disposed rather to blame himself than the public. A prominent amateur composer of Vienna—Salieri by name—advised him to go to Italy; and to Venice, as the nearest point, he hastened without delay.

In these days of universal travel, when every tourist can talk glibly of the different theatres and composers of the Old World, it seems almost incredible that a young man of wealth and taste like Meyerbeer should not have visited Italy till almost forced to do so. Yet such was the case. Meyerbeer was a man of one idea, and that idea was music. No journey which had any other object possessed attractions for him. To the influences of history, to the grandeur of that land which should not be named without an almost holy veneration, he was quite indifferent. It was not the Cæsars that drew him to Italy, nor the Popes, nor the Raphaels, nor the Michel Angelos,—it was Rossini and the modern opera.

At that time the composer of "Semiramide" was at the height of his popularity, and Meyerbeer heard "Tancredi," and for the first time felt the delicious fascination of Italian melody. He determined to transplant it into the rugged soil of his own masculine musical science; and three years after the Rossinian revelation at Venice, his first Italian opera, "Romilda e Costanza," was produced at that dismal old metropolis of necromancy, Padua, Signora Pisaroni taking the principal part. It pleased, as did his next work, "Semiramide Riconosciuta," produced at Turin, though neither was so successful as his "Emma di Risburgo," first heard at Venice, and for some time a rival in popularity to "Tancredi."

At this period Meyerbeer adopted the name of Giacomo,—the Italian translation[Pg 120] of Jacob,—which he ever after retained. His true name was Meyer Liebmann Beer, but he suppressed the Liebmann, because that word in German, when joined with Beer, could by weak punsters be translated into "a philanthropic bear"; so he Italianized his pre-nomen, dropped his middle name, and joined the two other words in one,—the result of all these liberties in nomenclature being "Giacomo Meyerbeer."

Thus, doubly armed with an Italian name and an Italian reputation, he returned to Germany, but was coldly welcomed. Even Weber charged him with being a renegade to the cause of German Art, and, while "Emma di Risburgo" was played at one of the Berlin theatres, had "The Two Caliphs" revived at another. Meyerbeer thus could have heard his two styles of composition exemplified in the same night. Weber, indeed, always looked upon Meyerbeer's Italian operas as a sad falling away from grace, and in a letter written to his brother, Godefroy,—the fourth of the little group of Darmstadt students,—says,—

"Meyerbeer has promised on his return to Berlin to write a German opera. God be praised for it! I appealed strongly to his conscience in the matter."

Returning to Italy, Meyerbeer produced "Margherita d' Angiu" at La Scala, Milan, following it with "L'Esule di Granata"; and then in 1824 Venice saw and heard the "Crociato." This last opera made the tour of the world, carried the name of the composer to every place where musical art was cultivated, and won for Meyerbeer, from the distant Emperor of Brazil, the decoration of the Cross of the South.

In Paris alone—Paris, which afterwards made such an idol of the composer—did the "Crociato" fail to meet with immediate success. In nonsense and folly it may be truly said of the Parisians that "a little child shall lead them"; and so it happened on this occasion. In the admirable quartette of the second act a child is introduced, as in "Norma," to awaken the sympathies of an untractable tenor papa. This juvenile, by no means a young Apollo, took not the slightest interest in the music, and was so indifferent to the publicity of the situation, so utterly blasé, (and sleepy,) as to yawn during the most affecting passages. At the first yawn, the audience smiled; the prima donna, proceeding with her part, exclaimed in tragic Italian, "Restrain thy tears!"—and the child gaped again for the second time, while the audience grinned. "Heaven will comfort thee!" shrieked the singer,—whereat the child gave such a prodigious yawn that the house burst into laughter, and the vocalist could not finish the piece.

In 1827 Meyerbeer married, and retired from public life for a while. Two of the children born to him died, their loss casting so deep a shade on his soul that for nearly two years he composed only religious music to words selected from the Book of Psalms, or written by Klopstock. He also wrote a collection of melodies, among them an elegy entitled "At the Tomb of Beethoven." But erelong the glorious old instinct for operatic composition returned. On the seventeenth of September, 1829, M. Lubbert, then director of the opera, received a letter couched in these terms:—

"17 Septembre, 1829.

"J'ai l'honneur de vous prévenir, Monsieur, que par décision de ce jour j'ai accordé à M. Meyerbeer, compositeur, ses entrées à l'Académie Royale de Musique....

"L'Aide-de-Camp du Roi,

"Directeur-Général des Beaux-Arts,

"Vicomte de Larochefoucauld."

And two years later, on the twenty-first of September, 1831, Dr. Véron, the successor of Lubbert, opened his doors for the first performance of "Robert le Diable." This wonderful and popular opera was written in French, to a libretto sent to Berlin by Scribe, and was at first intended for the Opéra Comique, but its three acts were subsequently increased to five, and its destination changed to[Pg 121] the Grand Opéra. Meyerbeer himself had to bear much of the expense of preparing the stage-appointments, though not to such an extent as on the production of his "Romilda" in Italy, when he bought the libretto, gave the music gratis, paid the singers, and provided the costumes.

Dr. Véron, in his Memoirs, gives an amusing account of the accidents which attended the first production of "Robert." In the third act, a chandelier fell, and the prima donna Dorus had a narrow escape from being hit by the falling glass; after the chorus of demons, a cloud, rising from the cave to hide the stage, reached a certain elevation, and then, giving way, tumbled on the boards, nearly striking Taglioni the dancer, who, as Elena, was extended on her tomb, ready for the next scene; and in the last act, Nourrit, the Robert of the evening, in the excitement of the moment, leaped down the trap-door by which Levasseur (the Bertram) had just disappeared. This last event received different interpretations. On the stage there was alarm and weeping, because it was then thought Nourrit in his leap had been killed or maimed; by the audience it was supposed that the author intended Robert should share with Bertram the infernal regions; while under the stage Levasseur greeted the tenor with mingled surprise and disgust:—"Que diable faites vous ici? Est ce qu'on a changé le dénouement?" Luckily, Nourrit was unhurt, the curtain was raised again, the singers made their conventional acknowledgments, and the names of the authors were announced amid the wildest enthusiasm.

After that night Meyerbeer had to pay no more money to get his operas on the stage. The tables were so completely turned that he thenceforth could command almost any price he chose to ask. To follow his career more minutely, after this period of his emergence into the bright light of fame, would be but to recount a story with which almost every one is familiar.

The "Huguenots" was the next opera, and it was produced only after infinite delays; indeed, just before the rehearsal, Madame Meyerbeer fell ill, and her husband decided to convey her to Italy. He took the music from the orchestra desks, forfeited a fine of thirty thousand francs, and a few hours later he and his "Huguenots" were on the way to Nice. When finally produced at Paris, this opera was as well received as the "Robert." It appears, that, after the first general rehearsal, Nourrit, the tenor, found fault with the sublime music of the fourth act. Meyerbeer returned home in a very unpleasant frame of mind, and told his troubles to the friend with whom he lodged. "If I only had," said he, "a few stanzas to arrange as an andante and duo, all would be right. But I cannot ask Scribe to add more verses." The friend immediately called a literary acquaintance, Émile Deschamps, who was playing cards in a neighboring café, explained to him the situation, and in a few minutes the verses were written. It was about midnight, and the composer, seating himself at the piano with the words before him, in a fever of inspiration threw out the splendid duo between Raoul and Valentine which closes the act, and which always equally enchants performers and audience; and when this music was performed at the next rehearsal, the orchestra, players, and vocalists carried the composer in triumph on the stage to receive their spontaneous plaudits and congratulations, while Nourrit embraced him with tears of delight.

Eight years later came another triumph of elaborate Art in "Le Prophète," a work which is generally underrated by the leading French critics, though it contains many of the very noblest inspirations of the genius of Meyerbeer. To this opera followed "L'Ètoile du Nord," and "Le Pardon de Ploermel," while to these will soon follow "L'Africaine," so long promised, and in behalf of which the composer was visiting Paris at the time of his death. The score of the opera has been completed since 1860.[Pg 122]

On Friday, the twenty-second of April last, Meyerbeer dined alone at his residence, his meal being, as usual, very frugal. On Saturday, the twenty-third of April, he felt unwell, but a physician was not sent for till the next week, and in the mean time Meyerbeer was busy superintending the copyists engaged in his house on the score of "L'Africaine," for which he had, instead of his customary orchestral introduction, just written a long overture. On the following Sunday, the first of May, his disorder, which was internal, grew worse, and his weakness increased so that he became almost irritable about it,—he was so anxious to continue at the work of the orchestration of his new opera, and so annoyed by the illness which prevented him. His family were sent for by telegraph, but were mostly too late to hold converse with him; for on Sunday night, before they arrived, he turned in his bed and bade them farewell with a faint smile, as he said, "I now bid you good-night till to-morrow morning." These were his last words; for when the morning was come, and daylight peered into the windows of the tall house at Paris, he was shadowed by the mystery of that night which awaits a resurrection-morning.

Among his papers in his travelling-portfolio was found a packet marked, "To be opened after death," containing directions, written in German, of which the following is a literal translation:—

"I desire the following details to be observed after my decease.

"I wish to be left lying on my bed, with my face exposed to view, just as I was previously to my death, for four days, and on the fifth day to have incisions made in the brachial artery and in the foot. After this, my body is to be conveyed to Berlin, where I wish to be interred in the tomb of my dearly beloved mother. Should there be no room, I beg that I may be laid by the side of my two dear children, who died at a very early age.

"Should I happen to die far from those related to me, the same measures are to be pursued, and two attendants are to watch my body day and night to see whether I do not give any signs of life.

"If, owing to any particular circumstances, it is necessary to take me to a dead-house, I desire, that, according to custom, little bells shall be fastened to my hands and feet, in order to keep the attendants on the alert.

"Having always feared being buried alive, my object in giving the above directions is to prevent the possibility of any return of life.

"The will of God be done, and His name sanctified and blessed in heaven and on earth! Amen!"

All these directions were complied with; while the funeral arrangements—in Paris at least—were very theatrical and "Frenchy," though at Berlin they were conducted with greater dignity. The line of procession, led by a band playing extracts from Meyerbeer's music, passed the Opéra Comique and the Grand Opéra, both of which were dressed in black. Auber was among the pall-bearers, and Gounod among the mourners. Behind the coffin were carried on a cushion the various decorations with which sovereigns and societies had decked the composer. At the Northern Railway station, (also draped in mourning,) orations were delivered, and applauded by the listeners, and sometimes interrupted by the impatient steam-whistles of departing trains. An incident of the funeral was the decoration of the catafalque with a silver cross: Meyerbeer was a Jew, and the inconsistency was not noticed till there was barely time to tear away the Christian emblem before the body of the Israelite composer was laid in its place. That same night, at the Grand Opéra, the "Huguenots" was performed, and never did Sax, Gueymard, Faure, and Beisal sing or act with greater effect. After the fourth act the curtain was raised; and while the orchestra played the Coronation March from the[Pg 123] "Prophète," the bust of the composer was crowned with laurel by the performers.

The family, in accordance with the curious European custom, sent around to their friends a circular worded as follows:—

"Sir,—Madame Meyerbeer (widow); Mlles. Cécile and Cornélie Meyerbeer; the Baron and Baroness De Korf, and Son; M. and Madame Georges Beer; M. and Madame Jules Beer and Children; M. and Madame Alexandre Oppenheim; M. and Madame S. de Haber, Madlle. Laure de Haber; and Madlle. Anna Eberty, have the honor to announce to you the sad loss they have just suffered by the death of M. Giacomo Meyerbeer, their husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, uncle, and great-uncle, who died at Paris on the 2nd May, 1864, aged seventy-two."

Meyerbeer was, up to the last, full of plans for the future, and while getting "L'Africaine" ready was looking for the libretto of a comic opera to compose "for amusement," as a repose between grander works. It is said that he has left another completed opera, on the Biblical story of Judith and Holofernes; and he also had a vague idea of writing a grand historical opera on an English subject, the idea having been suggested by a visit to the Princess Theatre, London, when Charles Kean was playing, with unusual scenic accessories, Shakspeare's "Henry VIII." The proposed opera was to have been equally as grand a work as the "Huguenots," and the peculiarities of old English music—the style of melody of Locke, Purcell, and Arne—were to have been imitated with that skill of which Meyerbeer was so eminently a master. He never would write an oratorio, because he had no hope of excelling Mendelssohn in that branch of musical art. His last composition was an aria written to Italian words for a Spanish lady-friend, the Señorita Zapater; and he was about to arrange the accompaniment for the orchestra when his last illness came on.

Personally, Giacomo Meyerbeer had many characteristics which were not inviting. He was fond of money, yet willing to lavish it whenever Art demanded the sacrifice. He took snuff, and wore green spectacles, was careless, often shabby in his dress, and would stroll through the streets of Paris wearing a wretched hat, inwardly composing music as he walked along; on grand occasions, however, he would go to the opposite extreme in matters of toilet, and appear radiant with the numerous decorations presented to him by the different sovereigns of Europe. He knew the power of the press, and was not too delicate to invite the leading critics to elaborate dinners at the Trois Frères the night before a first performance.

It is not intended here to enter into a critical or scientific analysis of Meyerbeer as a composer. As far as the present development of Art would indicate, his name seems to us destined to go down to posterity encircled by a fadeless halo of glory; and at the same time we must remember that there have been other composers who, though now forgotten, yet in their time and at their death have similarly impressed their contemporaries. But certain it is, that, in our day and generation, and at least during the life of every one now existing, the fame of Meyerbeer will be brilliant indeed, and the music of the "Robert," the "Huguenots," and the "Prophète" will challenge the admiration and love of all susceptible to the influence of the grandest and noblest strains that musical science has yet evoked.

[Pg 124]


There are few months in the calendar of centuries that will have a more conspicuous place in history than the month of May, 1864. It will be remembered on account of the momentous events which have taken place during the present military operations. It inaugurates one of the greatest campaigns of history. We who are in it are amazed, not by its magnitude merely, for there have been larger armies, heavier trains of artillery, greater preparations, in European warfare,—but we are overwhelmed by a succession of events unparalleled for rapidity. We cannot fully comprehend the amount of endurance, the persistency, the hard marching, the harder fighting, the unwearied, cheerful energy and effort which have carried the Army of the Potomac from the Rappahannock to the Chickahominy in thirty days, against the stubborn opposition of an army of almost equal numbers. There has not been a day of rest, scarcely an hour of quiet. Morning, noon, and midnight, the booming of cannon and the rattling of musketry have echoed unceasingly through the Wilderness, around the hillocks of Spottsylvania, along the banks of the North Anna, and among the groves of Bethesda Church and Coal Harbor.

A brief résumé of the campaign, thus far developed, is all that can be attempted in the space assigned me. I must pass by the efforts of individuals, as heroic and soul-stirring as those of the old Cavaliers renowned in story and song, where all the energies of life are centred in one moment,—the spirited advance of regiments, the onset of brigades; and the resistless charges of divisions. I can speak only of the movements of corps, without dwelling upon those scenes which stir the blood and fire the soul,—the hardihood, the endurance, the cool, collected, reserved force, abiding the time, the calm facing of death, the swift advance, the rush, the plunge into the thickest of the fight, where hundreds of cannon, where fifty thousand muskets, fill the air with iron hail and leaden rain!


The army wintered between the Rappahannock and the Rapidan. There had been a reduction and reconstruction of its corps,—an incorporation of the First and Third with the Fifth and Sixth, with reinforcements added to the Second. The Second was commanded by Major-General Hancock, the Fifth by Major-General Warren, the Sixth by Major-General Sedgwick. No definite statement of the number of men composing the army can be given, for the campaign is not yet ended; and no aid or comfort, no information of value to the enemy, can be tendered through the columns of the loyal "Atlantic."

These three corps, with three divisions of cavalry commanded by General Sheridan, composed the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major-General Meade. The Ninth Corps, commanded by Major-General Burnside, was added when the army took up its line of march.

There was concentration everywhere. General Gillmore, with what troops could be spared from the department of the South, joined his forces to those already on the Peninsula and at Suffolk; Sigel had several thousand in the Shenandoah; Crook and Averell had a small army in Western Virginia; while at Chattanooga, under Sherman and Thomas, was gathered a large army of Western troops.

The dramatis personæ were known to the public, but the part assigned to each was kept profoundly secret. There was discussion and speculation whether Burnside, from his encampment at Annapolis, would suddenly take transports and go to Wilmington, or up the Rappahannock, or the James, or the York, uniting his forces with Butler's. Would[Pg 125] Meade move directly across the Rapidan and attack Lee in front, with every passage, every hill and ravine enfiladed by Rebel cannon? Or would he move his right flank along the Blue Ridge, crowding Lee to the seaboard? Would he not make, rather, a sudden change of base to Fredericksburg? None of the wise men, military or civil, in their speculations, indicated the line which General Grant adopted. The public accepted the disaster at Chancellorsville and the failure at Mine Run as conclusive evidence that a successful advance across the Rapidan by the middle fords was impossible, or at least improbable. So well was the secret kept, that, aside from the corps commanders, none in or out of the army, except the President and Secretary of War, had information of the line of march intended.

We know now how General Burnside marched to Washington, contrary to the expectations of the public; how his troops passed in review before the President,—a few veterans, with Roanoke, Newbern, all the seven days before Richmond, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, and Knoxville on their tattered ensigns; how they were cheered by the crowd; how, following them, came a division for the first time shouldering a musket for their country,—who till a year ago never had a country,—who even now, although Americans, are not citizens,—disfranchised, yet fighting for the flag,—beholding now for the first time the careworn, yet benevolent face of their benefactor, and rending the air with their hurrahs. There was swinging of hats, waving of handkerchiefs and banners. They marched to victory or certain death. For them there was no surrender, after the massacres of Milliken's Bend, Plymouth, and Fort Pillow.

We know how Butler went up to White House, and then suddenly down the York and up the James to Bermuda Hundred. We know of the movements of Sigel and Crook and Averell,—minor, yet important in the general plan. We have had the victorious march of Sherman, flanking and defeating Johnston. All these movements were parts of the well-considered plan of operations.

The expedition of General Banks up the Red River was in process of execution when General Grant was appointed Commander-in-Chief of all the forces in the field. He sent a messenger recalling it; but, through some miscarriage or misconception of orders, or from some cause yet unexplained, the expedition kept on its way, resulting in disaster. The withdrawal of the gunboats which had been demonstrating off Mobile, and the departure of troops from the Mississippi, enabled General Johnston to gather all the forces of the Southwest in front of Sherman. General Grant designed that General Banks, with troops and flotilla, should suddenly fall upon Mobile, front and rear. If the works were carried by assault, then gunboats and transports could appear at Montgomery, flanking Johnston. It would be the thrusting of a probe deep into the tenderest and sorest parts of the Confederate body-politic. It would sever Alabama and Mississippi from the other Rebel States. Or, if failing in the assault, it would at least compel Johnston to send back the troops withdrawn, thus making it easy work for Sherman.

The failure of any part in a concerted movement affects all other parts. General Banks not appearing at Mobile has retarded Sherman. The failure of Butler to close the Southern portal, and the defeat of Sigel, who, instead of knocking loudly at the back-door of the Rebel capital, was himself knocked back, have enabled Lee to concentrate all his troops against the Army of the Potomac. Finnegan's troops from Florida, Beauregard's from Charleston, Pickett's from North Carolina, Buckner's from Western Virginia, and Breckenridge's from the Shenandoah, at the close of the month, are fighting against General Grant at Coal Harbor.

These are the general features of the campaign as a whole; but, separate and distinct from the movements of all other armies and bodies of men, are the operations of the Army of the Potomac,[Pg 126] which has a campaign of its own,—forever memorable!


There have been four movements by the left flank:—

From Culpepper to Wilderness.

From Wilderness to Spottsylvania.

From Spottsylvania to the North Anna.

From the North Anna to the Chickahominy.

It has been a month of marching and fighting,—fighting and marching,—day and night,—night and day,—winning no great, decisive victory, nor suffering defeat, yet getting nearer the while to Richmond, and compelling the enemy to choose new positions or be cut off from his capital.

The accompanying diagram will convey to the eye the relative movements of the two armies,—General Grant moving on the arcs of the circles, as represented by the dotted lines, and Lee upon the chords of the arcs, as indicated by the continuous lines.


On Tuesday afternoon, May 3d, the cavalry broke camp on the Orange and Alexandria railroad, and moved eastward,—General Gregg's division toward Ely's Ford, and General Wilson's division towards Germanna Ford, each having pontoons. At midnight the Second Corps, which had been encamped east of Culpepper, followed General Gregg. At daylight on the morning of the 4th of May, the Fifth and Sixth Corps and the reserve artillery were moving towards Germanna Ford. The supply-train—sixty miles in length, eight thousand wagons—followed the Second Corps. There were but these two available roads.

The enemy was at Orange Court-House, watching, from his elevated lookout on Clark's Mountain, for the first sign of change. In the light of the early dawn he saw that the encampments at Culpepper were broken up, while the dust-cloud hanging over the forest toward the east was the sure indication of the movement.

General Lee put his army in instant motion to strike the advancing columns as they crossed the Rapidan. The movement of Grant was southeast, that of Lee northeast,—lines of advance which must produce collision, unless Grant was far enough forward to slip by the angle. There is reason to believe that General Grant did not intend to fight Lee at Wilderness, but that it was his design to slip past that point and swing round by Spottsylvania, and, if possible, get between Lee and Richmond. He boldly cut loose his connection with Washington, and sailed out into the unknown and untried, relying upon the ability of his soldiers to open a new base for supplies whenever needed.

In this first day's movement he did not uncover Washington. Burnside was still lying on the north bank of the Rappahannock. It was understood in the army that the Ninth Corps was to be a reserve to protect the capital. So, perhaps, Lee understood it. But at nightfall, on the 4th, the shelter-tents are folded, and the[Pg 127] men of the Ninth, with six days' rations in their haversacks, are on the march along the forest-road, lighted only by the stars, joining the main army at Germanna Ford on the morning of the 5th.

Although the movement of the troops was well timed, and the march made with great rapidity, the trains were delayed, and it was not possible for General Grant to swing past the enemy advancing upon his flank.

Early in the morning of the 5th, Generals Meade and Grant, with their staffs, after riding five miles from Germanna Ford, halted near the old mill in the Wilderness. General Sheridan's cavalry had been pushing out south and west. Aids came back with despatches.

"They say that Lee intends to fight us here," said General Meade, as he read them.

"Very well," was the quiet reply of General Grant.

The two commanders retire a little from the crowd, and stand by the road-side in earnest conversation. Grant is of medium stature, yet has a well-developed physique, sandy whiskers and moustache, blue eyes, earnest, thoughtful, and far-seeing, a cigar in his mouth, a knife in one hand, and a stick in the other, which he is whittling to a point. He whittles slowly towards him. His thoughts are not yet crystallized. His words are few. Suddenly he commences upon the other end of the stick, and whittles energetically from him. His mind is made up,—his plan matured. He is less reticent,—talks freely. He is dressed in plain blue; and were it not for the three stars upon his shoulder, few would select him as the Lieutenant-General commanding all the armies of the Union in the field.

Meade is tall, thin, a little stooping in the shoulders, quick, comprehending the situation of affairs in an instant, energetic,—an officer of excellent executive ability.


At the old Wilderness tavern the Stevensburg plank-road leading southeast from Germanna Ford crosses the Orange and Fredericksburg turnpike. Five miles beyond the tavern is Wilderness Church, at the junction of the Stevensburg with the Orange and Fredericksburg plank-road. Near by is the Brock road, which leads south to Spottsylvania Court-House. West of the old tavern, four miles on the turnpike, is Parker's store. In the early morning, General Ewell's brigades appeared in line of battle at the store, on both sides of the turnpike, while General A. P. Hill's corps was found to be pushing rapidly eastward along the Orange plank-road, to gain the junction of the roads at Old Church. Longstreet was following Hill.

The Second Corps, which had crossed at Ely's Ford, was already on the move towards Spottsylvania. A recall was sent, also orders directing Hancock to hold the junction of the roads. The Fifth Corps was thrown out upon the turnpike towards Parker's store. The Sixth was moved up from the Germanna road, west, into the woods, and placed in position to cover all approaches to the ford. The Ninth arrived during the day, and moved into the gap between the Fifth and Second. Divisions were moved to the right, to the left, and to the centre, during the two days' fight, but the positions of the corps remained unchanged.

[Pg 128]

Standing by the old tavern and looking west, you see the line of battle. At your feet is a brook flowing from the southwest to the northeast, and there is another smaller stream joining its waters at the crossing of the roads. Beyond the bridge the turnpike crosses a ridge of land. On the southern slope is the house of Major Lucy, with a smooth lawn, and meadows green with the verdure of spring. Beyond the meadows are hills wooded with oaks, pines, and cedar-thickets. At the right hand of the turnpike the ridge is closely set with pines and cedars. Farther out it breaks down into a ravine. Ewell has the western slope, and Warren with the Fifth Corps the eastern, with the Sixth on his right.

It is a mixture of tall trees and small underbrush,—dense, almost impenetrable. There are hills, knolls, dells, dark ravines. It is a battle-ground for Indians, but one not admitting of the military movements,—of advance by columns, or lines, as laid down in the books.

The battle commenced on Thursday afternoon and closed Saturday morning. It was fierce, terrible, bloody, and yet indecisive. It was one unbroken roll of musketry. There was a hostile meeting of two hundred thousand men. There were bayonet-charges, surgings to and fro of the opposing lines, a meeting and commingling, like waves of the ocean, sudden upspringings from the underbrush of divisions stealthily advanced. There was the continuous rattle, the roll deepening into long heavy swells, the crescendo and the diminuendo of a terrible symphony, rising to thunder-tones, to crash and uproar indescribable, then dying away to a ripple, to silence at last!

Lee hastened from his intrenchments beyond Mine Run to strike Grant a damaging blow,—to fall upon him while his line was thin and attenuated. Grant was in column, moving southeast,—Lee in two columns, moving northeast. These lines show it to the eye:—

The advance of Lee has its parallel in naval warfare,—in Nelson's lines of battle at Trafalgar. But there the comparison fails. The advance is the same,—the result, instead of a victory, a defeat. He fell upon the Fifth Corps, first at Parker's store, then on the right centre, then on the left, then upon the Sixth, then upon the Second,—then upon the whole line, renewing and repeating the assaults. Grant stood throughout upon the line selected at the beginning of the battle. Lee began the attack on the 5th, and renewed it at daybreak on the 6th.

Through all those long hours of conflict, there was patient endurance in front of the enemy. There were temporary successes and reverses on both sides. In only a single instance was there permanent advantage to the enemy, and that he had not the power to improve. It was at the close of the contest on the 6th. The sun had gone down, and twilight was deepening into night. The wearied men of Rickett's division of the Sixth Corps, in the front line of battle on the right, had thrown themselves upon the ground. Suddenly there was a rush upon their flank. There was musketry, blinding flashes from cannon, and explosions of shells. The line which had stood firmly through the day gave way, not because it was overpowered, but because it was surprised. General Seymour and a portion of his brigade were taken prisoners. There was a partial panic, which soon subsided. The second line remained firm, the enemy was driven back, and the disaster repaired by swinging the Sixth Corps round to a new position, covered by the reserve artillery. It was the only substantial advantage gained by Lee during the battle.[Pg 129]

There were indications in the forenoon of Saturday, the 7th, that Lee was withdrawing his army. A reconnoissance in force made it more apparent. Orders were issued for the removal of the wounded to Fredericksburg. At two o'clock in the afternoon the Ninth Corps was on the march to Spottsylvania. The first step towards Richmond had been successfully taken. If Grant had not gained what he desired, a position between Lee and Richmond, Lee on the other hand had utterly failed in his attempt to crush Grant by a sudden blow upon his flank. He had not been able, in the language of the President, even to "jostle him from his chosen line of march."


At sunrise on the 8th, the Fifth Corps was at Todd's Tavern, four miles from Spottsylvania, where Gregg had just defeated Fitz Hugh Lee, in a hard-fought contest on Saturday. The Sixth and Second Corps arrived during the day. The Ninth moved with the teams through Chancellorsville farther to the east.

The natural defences of Spottsylvania are two small streams,—the Po and the Ny, affluents of the Mattapony. The advance of the Fifth Corps was checked, three miles west of the Court-House, by Longstreet's and Ewell's corps, which had left Wilderness on the night of the 6th. The Sixth came up at five o'clock and joined in the conflict, driving the enemy from the position he had taken on the north bank of the Ny.

On Monday morning, the 9th, it was apparent that Lee, having failed on Grant's flank, had now placed himself squarely in front, with his entire army.

One of the great battles of the campaign was fought on Tuesday, the corps occupying positions as in the diagram:—

[Pg 130]

The line of battle was formed with the Second Corps on the right, the Fifth on the right-centre, the Sixth on the left-centre, with the Ninth nine miles distant, approaching by the Fredericksburg road. There was a severe engagement in the afternoon, brought on by the advance of the Second Corps, which pushed across an affluent of the Po, west of the Court-House. On the left, the Rebels made an attack upon Wilcox's division of the Ninth, but were repulsed.

The battle was fought in the forest,—in the marshes along the Ny,—in ravines,—in pine-thickets, densely shaded with the dark evergreens that shut out the rays of the noonday sun,—in open fields, where Rebel batteries had full sweep and play with shell and grape and canister from intrenched positions on the hills.

It began in the morning. There was an hour of calm at noon, but at one o'clock artillery and infantry became engaged all along the line. Grant was the attacking party. There was no cessation or diminution of effort during the afternoon. The Rebel outer line of works in the centre was carried by Upton's brigade of the first division, and Russell's brigade of the third division of the Sixth Corps. The men of these brigades, (and among them were the stalwart sons of Vermont,) without firing a shot, moved steadily to the charge with fixed bayonets; they were cut through by solid shot, their ranks torn by shells, thinned by constant volleys of musketry, but, with matchless ardor and unconquerable will, they went up to the line of earthworks, leaped over them, and gathered a thousand prisoners; they held the ground, but their valor had carried them so far beyond their supports that it was deemed prudent to withdraw them.

There was some fighting on the 11th. General Lee sent in a flag of truce for a cessation of hostilities to bury the dead; but the request was not acceded to by General Grant.

The early dawn of Thursday, the 12th, beholds the Second Corps in motion,—not to flank the enemy, but moving, with fixed bayonets, straight on towards his intrenchments. Barlow's and Birney's divisions in columns of battalions, doubled on the centre, to give strength and firmness, lead in the assault. They move silently through the forest,—through the ravine in front of them,—up to their own skirmish-line,—past it,—no longer marching, but running now, dashing on with life and energy and enthusiasm thrilling every nerve. They sweep away the Rebel picket-line as if it were a cobweb. On,—into the intrenchments with a hurrah which startles the soldiers of both armies from their morning slumbers. Major-General Johnson and Brigadier-General Stewart and three thousand men of Ewell's division are taken prisoners, eighteen cannon and twenty-two standards captured.

It is the work of five minutes,—as sudden as the swoop of an eagle. The uproar of the day began. The second line of the enemy's works was assaulted; but, exasperated by their losses, the Rebels fought with great stubbornness. The Ninth Corps was moved up from the left to support the Second. Longstreet, on the other hand, was brought over to help Ewell. The Fifth and Sixth became partially engaged. There were charges and counter-charges. Positions were gained and lost. From morning till night the contest raged on the right, in the centre, and on the left, swaying to and fro over the undulations and through the ravines. It was a battle of fourteen hours' duration,—in severity, in unflinching determination, in obstinacy and persistency, not exceeded by any during the war. Between forty and fifty pieces of artillery were at one time in the hands of General Hancock; but, owing to the difficulties of removal, and the efforts of the enemy, he could secure only eighteen. During the day, Grant advanced his lines a mile towards the Court-House, and repulsed Lee in all his counter-attacks.

By this success Lee was compelled on Thursday night to withdraw his troops from the line he had held so tenaciously, and concentrate them in a smaller semi-circle.[Pg 131] Lee had the advantage of Johnston. It was Gettysburg reversed.

There was constant skirmishing and continuous artillery-firing through the 13th, and a moving of the army from the north to the east of the Court-House. A rain-storm set in. The roads became heavy, and a contemplated movement—a sudden flank-attack—was necessarily abandoned.

There was a severe skirmish on the 14th, constant picket-firing on the 15th, and on the 16th another engagement all along the line,—not fought with the fierceness of that of the 12th, but lasting through the forenoon, and resulting in the taking of a line of rifle-pits from the enemy.

On Wednesday, the 18th, there was an assault upon Lee's outer line of works. Two lines of rifle-pits were carried; but an impassable abatis prevented farther advance, and after a six hours' struggle the troops were withdrawn.

On the afternoon of the 19th Ewell gained the rear of Grant's right flank, came suddenly upon Tyler's division of heavy artillery, armed as infantry, just arrived upon the field. Though surprised, they held the enemy in check, forced him back, and with aid from the Second Corps compelled him to retreat with great loss. This attack was made to cover Lee's withdrawal to the North Anna. His troops were already on the march.

Grant was swift to follow.


It is a two days' march from Spottsylvania to the North Anna. The crossings of the Mattapony were held by Rebel cavalry, which were quickly driven. For want of space I am forced to pass over the operations on that natural line of defence,—the gallant crossing of the Fifth Corps at Jericho Ford, the irresistible charge of Birney and Barlow at Taylor's Bridge, the sweeping-in of five hundred prisoners, the severe engagements lasting three days,—all memorable events, worthy of prominence in the full history of the campaign.

Instead of walking over the obstacle, Grant decided to go round it. Stealing a march upon Lee, he moved suddenly southeast, and crossed the Pamunky at Hanover Town, opened a new base of supplies at White House, forcing Lee to fall back on the Chickahominy.


On Sunday, the 29th, there was one[Pg 132] of the severest cavalry-engagements of the war, at Hawes's shop, west of Hanover Town, where Sheridan drove the Rebels back upon Bethesda Church. The array came into position on the 30th, its right towards Hanover Court-House. Lee was already in position, and during the day there was firing all along the line. Each corps was engaged. The Second Corps by the Shelton House with a bayonet-charge pushed the enemy from the outer line of works which he had thrown up, while the Fifth Corps rolled back, with terrible slaughter, the mass of men which came upon its flank and front at Bethesda Church. At Coal Harbor, the Sixth, joined by the Eighteenth Army Corps, under Major-General W. F. Smith, from Bermuda Hundred, met Longstreet and Breckenridge and troops from Beauregard. Sheridan had seized this important point,—important because of the junction of roads,—and held it against cavalry and infantry till the arrival of the Fifth and Eighteenth. The point secured, a new line of battle was formed on the 1st of June. The Ninth held the right at Bethesda Church; the Fifth was south of the church, joining the Eighteenth; the Sixth held the road from Coal Harbor to Gaines's Mill; while the Second was thrown out on the left, on the road leading to Despatch Station and the Chickahominy, as indicated by the diagram (p. 131).

Such was the position of the army within ten miles of Richmond,—the line of battle crossing the ground occupied by Stonewall Jackson at the Battle of Gaines's Mill.

Sanguinary conflicts have since taken place,—bayonet-charges, desperate encounters with varying success and reverse,—but the record of the month has closed. There, face to face, cannon fronting cannon, with less than two hundred feet between, are the two armies on the 31st of May, at midnight. Without losing a train of supplies, cutting loose from one base after another,—from Washington, Belle Plain, and Port Royal successively,—establishing new depots at pleasure, General Grant has moved from the Rappahannock to the Chickahominy, against the utmost efforts of General Lee to turn him back. General Grant believes that the military power of the Rebels must be broken before the Rebellion can be crushed. Continued hammering produces abrasion at last, in the toughest iron. Break the iron pillars, and the edifice tumbles. There is a manifest weakening of the Rebel army. Longstreet's veterans have lost their fire; and since the Battles of the Wilderness, the Rebel troops have had no heart for a bayonet-charge.

The line of advance taken by General Grant turned the Rebels from Washington. The country over which the two armies marched is a desolation. There is no subsistence remaining. The railroads are destroyed. Lee has no longer the power to invade the North. On the other hand, General Grant can swing upon the James and isolate the Rebel army from direct connection with the South. That accomplished, and, sooner or later,—with Hunter in the Shenandoah, with Union cavalry sweeping down to Wilmington, Weldon, and Danville, and up to the Blue Ridge, cutting railroads, burning bridges, destroying supplies of ammunition and provisions,—the question with Lee must be, not one of earthworks and cannon and powder and ball, but of subsistence. Plainly, the day is approaching when the Army of the Potomac, unfortunate at times in the past, derided, ridiculed, but now triumphant through unparalleled hardship, endurance, courage, persistency, will plant its banners on the defences of Richmond, crumble the Rebel army beyond the possibility of future cohesion, and, in conjunction with the forces in other departments, crush out the last vestige of the Rebellion.

[Pg 133]


The American Conflict: A History of the Great Rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-64. By Horace Greeley. Vol. I. 8vo. pp. 648. Hartford: O. D. Case & Co.

The plan of this work contemplates not only a faithful and complete historical description of the leading events in the stupendous conflict now raging between the interests of Slavery and the principles of Freedom, but an accurate analysis and lucid exposition of the antagonist ideas which have attained their full development in the present civil war. With this purpose, the issue of the portion now submitted to the American public cannot be regarded as premature or unseasonable. If the time has not arrived for the elaboration of a thorough historic survey of the mighty struggle which has convulsed the nation to its deepest heart, there are ample materials for a profound review of the past, and an instructive exhibition of the moral and intellectual movement, the pregnant conflict of thought, which has found its ultimate issue in the bloody death-throes of the battle-field. No nobler theme could tempt the pen of the philosophic historian. No subject of study could present more attractive features, or prove of more fruitful import to every intelligent American thinker.

Mr. Greeley's position and professional training as a prominent journalist give him, in many respects, excellent facilities for the accomplishment of his delicate and by no means easy task. Nor is he less admirably qualified for its execution by the native bent of his mind, and his experience as one of the leaders of a great political party. With an instinctive passion for freedom, a profound faith in social and humanitary progress, and an ardent devotion to the interests of the masses, irrespective of artificial and temporary distinctions, he has long watched the conflict of opinions and the development of ideas with reference to their bearing on the great American principle of political justice and individual right. Without following the lead of any special class of reformers, he has been keenly sensitive to the wrongs and outrages which, under the semblance of freedom, have blended themselves with the institutions of the country. His clear-headed sagacity has enabled him to foresee the perilous consequences of political inconsistencies. For many years he has anticipated the disastrous effects of the social anomalies for which our statesmen of all parties have sought a remedy in compromises and concealment. He has adhered to the policy of attacking political evils with political weapons. The institution of Slavery, in his view, was one of the crying wrongs for which the cure was to be found in the ballot-box. Not so much by denouncing and exhorting as by giving effect to popular sentiment through the elections, has he aimed at social regeneration. To this principle he has steadily adhered throughout his public life. His political relations have been formed in accordance with this idea. The character and tendency of parties have been judged by this standard. Hence the present work is eminently the record of his personal experience. It presents in vivid outlines and with striking illustrations the action of political causes with which he has been as familiar as with the alphabet of his mother-tongue. The principles of the great rebellion are traced back to the little germs which have since expanded into a tree of such mighty proportions and of such baleful character. Few men, we may perhaps safely say no man, among us, could bring to the composition of a work with this intent such a rich fund of observation, such intimate knowledge of the practical working of parties, such true insight into the aims and motives of the conspicuous American statesmen, such accurate judgment in regard to the leading measures of governmental policy, combined with such prevailing fairness of mind, and such a high degree of literary skill and mastership.

Regarded as a contribution to the historical treasures of which American literature can boast such rare wealth, Mr. Greeley's work may challenge, if not perhaps unqualified, sincere and respectful commendation. His style is eminently his own. Familiar with the best models, he[Pg 134] follows none. Although aiming at vigor and popular effect, rather than at graceful and polished elegance, it shows a remarkable sense of the power and aptness of words, and an unusual command of the resources of expression. He does not hesitate at a certain quaintness of phrase which gives an antique air to many of his sentences; but he is never dull, never languid, never commonplace, always free, emphatic, and racy. The purely narrative portions of the volume are truly excellent. In the immense range of his productions as a journalist, to our thinking, Mr. Greeley has written nothing better. Compact, sustained, and enlivened with a choice variety of coloring, the story as it comes from his pen is uniformly clear even to transparency, and never fails to read with singular interest, while it abounds in fresh and novel information. He cannot always resist the temptation to a little episodical pleasantry; but his humor is never ill-timed, and often mercilessly effective by its keenness and truth, though for the most part genial and good-natured. Sometimes, however, we notice a mischievous delight in calling attention to the dead flies in the apothecary's ointment. The author's sincerity of conviction and honesty of purpose are apparent on every page of his work, and give it a sterling, permanent value, irrespective of its other merits.

In the selection of his materials, Mr. Greeley has made great use of the speeches, messages, letters, and other public documents relating to the different branches of his subject, the essential points of which he often interweaves into his narrative, though in all suitable cases he does not scruple to present from them full and copious citations. In most instances which involve the opinions of his political antagonists, he has confined himself to the latter method. Impressed with the difficulty of exhibiting the views of an opponent with fairness and accuracy, he has wisely preferred to employ the very language of his original authorities, wherever the exercise of perfect impartiality might appear too sublime a virtue for our fallen and frail human nature. In the mutations of opinion, moreover, many persons are apt to forget that the faith, which they zealously defended but two years ago is at war with their present creed. The surest guaranty of exact and satisfactory statements, accordingly, is to fall back on the primitive authentic platform.

The subject of compromises, under the Federal Constitution, between the conflicting interests of the country, occupies, of course, a prominent place in these pages, and is treated by Mr. Greeley, as we think, with signal discretion and ability. His views on this point are marked by candor and moderation, though he is firm and uncompromising in his hostility to concession for the purpose of conciliating the Slave-Power. Political compromises, he maintains, though liable to abuse, are the necessary incidents of all governments, excepting pure and simple despotisms. Liberty cannot exist without diversity of opinions. Unless one will is permitted the supremacy over all others, a medium must be sought between widely differing convictions. If a legislature composed of two distinct bodies differs with regard to a special appropriation, a partial concession on each side is often the only practicable mode of adjustment. When the object is unprecedented, or not essential to the general efficiency of the public service, such as the construction of a new railroad, canal, or other public work, the opposition of either house should suffice for its defeat, or, at least, for its postponement. Neither branch has a right to demand from the other conformity with its views on a disputed point as the price of its own concurrence in measures essential to the existence of the government. Hence the movement of the United States Senate in 1849, dictating to the House a certain organization of the Territories, under penalty of defeating the Civil Appropriation Bill, was totally unjustifiable. But the fact should never be lost sight of, that differences of opinion often occur on momentous questions where the rights of each party are equal, and where an ultimate concurrence in one common line of action is essential. Without some mutual concession to adverse views, the union of the States would have been impossible. In cases, moreover, where the Executive is permitted a veto on legislative measures, a certain deference to his views is necessary to the practical working of the government. A compromise, accordingly, is at times indispensable and laudable. But no valid defence can be made of the[Pg 135] celebrated compromise of 1850. It was a monstrous corruption in legislation, which not even the great name of Henry Clay could shield from subsequent opprobrium.

Still, this compromise was accepted and ratified by a great majority of the American people, both in the North and in the South. The announcement that all sectional differences had been adjusted was hailed with almost universal joy. The terms of settlement were regarded as of subordinate consequence. The people wanted peace and prosperity, and were content with driving a lucrative business. They had no disposition to shed each other's blood in a quarrel concerning the condition of negroes. The compromise had taken no money from their pockets. It had imposed upon them no pecuniary burdens. It had exposed them to no personal dangers. It had rather appeased the terrors of disunion, increased the facilities for money-making, and opened a brilliant prospect of national greatness, security, and peace.

But this same compromise contained the seeds of disunion and civil war. The extreme State-Rights party in the South resolved not to submit to it, but to prepare the people for forcible resistance. Still, the time had not yet come for open demonstrations. The new Fugitive-Slave Law produced a wide-spread excitement at the North. This was increased by the frequent cases of brutality which occurred under its execution. The progress of opinion was rapid and decisive, preparing for the bloody conflict which commenced with the attack on Fort Sumter.

The development of events from this cardinal epoch to the defeat of the Union arms at Ball's Bluff, is traced by Mr. Greeley with a vigorous and discriminating pen. His comments may not always command conviction, but they can never fail to win respect. He expresses himself with freedom, although temperately, in regard to the character of the prominent military leaders, and subsequent facts have confirmed the sagacity of his judgment. He holds General Scott to a rigid responsibility for the inglorious days of Bull Run, which dispelled all lingering illusions as to his capacity for the conduct of a great war. The Fabian policy of General McClellan in the campaign of the succeeding winter is ably discussed. According to Mr. Greeley, this is not to be accounted for by a constitutional aversion on the part of our young Napoleon to the shedding of blood,—that is, of other men's; since he was eager to involve the country in another war by the refusal to surrender Mason and Slidell. Natural timidity and irresolution no doubt had their influence. But beyond this was the slowly awakened consciousness that Slavery was the real assailant of our national existence. General McClellan saw, that, in order to carry out the policy to which he had been long committed, in order to save both slavery and the Union, there must be little fighting and a speedy compromise. It is only on this hypothesis that his course while in high command, but especially during that long autumn and winter, admits of a consistent and intelligible explanation.

The Iliad of Homer faithfully translated into Unrhymed English Metre. By F. W. Newman. London. 1856.

Mr. Newman executed this translation upon the theory that Homer was a "noble savage"; that his congener would be found in a "lively African from the Gold-Coast"; that his style of language and thought was to the age of Pericles what that of the very oldest ballads is to ours; that he must be rendered, therefore, in English by a ballad-metre and an antiquated diction. To this capricious and indefensible theory, and to the translation, so far as founded upon it, Mr. Matthew Arnold seems to have given the coup de grace. We come, accordingly, not to criticize, but to bury.

Hic jacet, therefore, what was mortal of Newman's Homer,—a work executed upon a theory which no art of performance could redeem, while to that theory it was rather clumsily than skilfully adapted. Yet was it the work of a scholar so thorough, of a writer so able, of a translator so faithful to his original, that no error of theory could wholly vitiate his performance. The pictures of Homer, despite the crudity of his coloring and the spots and daubs with which his rendering was conscientiously sprinkled, he brought out more clearly than any had done before him. His work, therefore, being dead, still lives; its ashes glow and shine from the urn which contains them.[Pg 136] Its ill-fortune was, that it was only antiquarian literature from its birth; its good-fortune is, that it shall never cease to be cherished as such. Honestas mortem vincit: the high degrees of intellectual sincerity and power conquer even literary damnation.

1. On Translating Homer. By Matthew Arnold. London.

2. Last Words. By the Same.

Whoever loves Homer will like these little books. Mr. Arnold is a man of large and liberal intelligence, well up with his time; he is critically inspired, yet himself a poet; his thinking, while ample, is singularly definite; he has an admirable faculty of minding his own business, doing what he can do, and speaking where he has a right to speak; his style, while precise and vigorous, has a charm of composure and naturalness; and he exhibits such a combination of two-edged critical truth and intrepidity with perfect temper as is rarely seen. In his first volume he had been Rhadamanthine upon the translation of Mr. Newman. The latter replied with asperity. In "Last Words" Mr. Arnold responds in a tone so pure, so manly and gentle, that the volume should be memorable for this alone, were there nothing else to recommend it. Let us all hasten to bless the banns between steel-edged truth and perfect amenity.

Mr. Arnold characterizes Homer as rapid, as plain, direct, and natural in language, as the same in his thought, and finally as noble, having the grand manner. A translation must reproduce these features, whatever it fail to do. Passing existing translations in review, he finds Cowper slow, Pope artificial, Chapman fanciful, Newman, through the vice of his theory, ignoble. Some one having pronounced Tennyson eminently Homeric, Mr. Arnold discusses the relation of the English idyllic to the Ionian epic poet, and finds him at the opposite pole in respect of simplicity.

As to a vehicle for the translation of Homer, he gives his voice decidedly in favor of English hexameter, and tries his own hand at that measure. His success strikes us as respectable, but not eminent. Blank verse he thinks too slow in movement, and too much opposed in character. Mr. Tennyson answers this last by translating a passage from Homer into blank verse, and shows at least that he can make it run like a race-horse, and that, too, without sacrifice of fineness or of melody.

Right or wrong on these matters, and notwithstanding we confess to certain sympathies with Mr. Newman, we find in Mr. Arnold's books some of the pleasantest reading we have seen this many a day, and wish that for every leisure hour of life a companion so intelligent and liberal, so cultivated and genuine, so manly and mannerly, might await us.



Military Bridges: with Suggestions of New Expedients and Constructions for crossing Streams and Chasms; including, also, Designs for Trestle and Truss Bridges for Military Railroads. Adapted especially to the Wants of the Service in the United States. By Hermann Haupt, A. M., Civil Engineer, late Chief of Bureau in Charge of the Construction and Operation of United States Military Railway, Author of "General Theory of Bridge-Construction," etc. Illustrated by Sixty-Nine Lithographic Engravings. New York. D. Van Nostrand. 8vo. pp. xx., 310. $6.00.

The Ear, its Diseases and their Treatment. Illustrated by Engravings. By Franz Adolph von Moschzisker, M. D., Oculist and Aurist, Author of "A Guide to Diseases of the Eye, and their Treatment." Philadelphia. Martin & Randall. 16mo. pp. xxii., 319. $1.50.

Stories of the Patriarchs. By O. B. Frothingham. Boston. Walker, Wise, & Co. Square 16 mo. pp. 232. $1.00.

The Ferry-Boy and the Financier. By A Contributor to the "Atlantic." Boston. Walker, Wise, & Co. 16mo. pp. 332. $1.25.