The Project Gutenberg eBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 60, No. 373, November 1846

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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 60, No. 373, November 1846

Author: Various

Release date: October 19, 2011 [eBook #37797]

Language: English

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Marlborough's Dispatches. 1710-1711 517
Mohan Lal in Afghanistan539
On the Operation of the English Poor-Laws    555
Prussian Military Memoirs572
Advice to an Intending Serialist590
A New Sentimental Journey606
Honour to the Plough613
Luigia de' Medici614
Things in General625


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Louis XIV. was one of the most remarkable sovereigns who ever sat upon the throne of France. Yet there is none of whose character, even at this comparatively remote period, it is more difficult to form a just estimate. Beyond measure eulogised by the poets, orators, and annalists of his own age, who lived on his bounty, or were flattered by his address, he has been proportionally vilified by the historians, both foreign and national, of subsequent times. The Roman Catholic writers, with some truth, represent him as the champion of their faith, the sovereign who extirpated the demon of heresy in his dominions, and restored to the church in undivided unity the realm of France. The Protestant authors, with not less reason, regard him as the deadliest enemy of their religion, and the cruellest foe of those who had embraced it; as a faithless tyrant, who scrupled not, at the bidding of bigoted priests, to violate the national faith plighted by the Edict of Nantes, and persecute, with unrelenting severity, the unhappy people who, from conscientious motives, had broken off from the Church of Rome. One set of writers paint him as a magnanimous monarch, whose mind, set on great things, and swayed by lofty desires, foreshadowed those vast designs which Napoleon, armed with the forces of the Revolution, afterwards for a brief space realised. Another set dwell on the foibles or the vices of his private character—depict him as alternately swayed by priests, or influenced by women; selfish in his desires, relentless in his hatred; and sacrificing the peace of Europe, and endangering the independence of France, for the gratification of personal vanity, or from the thirst of unbounded ambition.

It is the fate of all men who have made a great and durable impression on human affairs, and powerfully affected the interests, or thwarted the opinion of large bodies of men, to be represented in these opposite colours to future times. The party, whether in church or state, which they have elevated, the nation whose power or glory they have augmented, praise, as much as those whom they have oppressed and injured, whether at home or abroad, strive to vilify their memory. But in the case of Louis XIV., this general propensity has been greatly increased by the opposite, and, at first sight, inconsistent features of his character. There is almost equal truth in the magniloquent eulogies of his admirers, as in the impassioned invectives of his enemies. He was not less great and magnanimous than he is represented by the elegant flattery of Racine or Corneille, nor less cruel and hard-hearted than he is painted by the austere justice of Sismondi or D'Aubigné. Like many other men, but more than most, he was made up of lofty and elevated, and selfish and frivolous qualities. He could alternately boast, with truth, that there[518] were no longer any Pyrenees, and rival his youngest courtiers in frivolous and often heartless gallantry. In his younger years he was equally assiduous in his application to business, and engrossed with personal vanity. When he ascended the throne, his first words were: "I intend that every paper, from a diplomatic dispatch to a private petition, shall be submitted to me;" and his vast powers of application enabled him to compass the task. Yet, at the same time, he deserted his queen for Madame la Vallière, and soon after broke La Vallière's heart by his desertion of her for Madame de Montespan. In mature life, his ambition to extend the bounds and enhance the glory of France, was equalled by his desire to win the admiration or gain the favour of the fair sex. In his later days, he alternately engaged in devout austerities with Madame de Maintenon, and, with mournful resolution, asserted the independence of France against Europe in arms. Never was evinced a more striking exemplification of the saying, so well known among men of the world, that no one is a hero to his valet-de-chambre; nor a more remarkable confirmation of the truth, so often proclaimed by divines, that characters of imperfect goodness constitute the great majority of mankind.

That he was a great man, as well as a successful sovereign, is decisively demonstrated by the mighty changes which he effected in his own realm, as well as in the neighbouring states of Europe. When he ascended the throne, France, though it contained the elements of greatness, had never yet become great. It had been alternately wasted by the ravages of the English, and torn by the fury of the religious wars. The insurrection of the Fronde had shortly before involved the capital in all the horrors of civil conflict;—barricades had been erected in its streets; alternate victory and defeat had by turns elevated and depressed the rival faction. Turenne and Condé had displayed their consummate talents in miniature warfare within sight of Notre-Dame. Never had the monarchy been depressed to a greater pitch of weakness than during the reign of Louis XIII. and the minority of Louis XIV. But from the time the latter sovereign ascended the throne, order seemed to arise out of chaos. The ascendancy of a great mind made itself felt in every department. Civil war ceased; the rival faction disappeared; even the bitterness of religious hatred seemed for a time to be stilled by the influence of patriotic feeling. The energies of France, drawn forth during the agonies of civil conflict, were turned to public objects and the career of national aggrandisement—as those of England had been after the conclusion of the Great Rebellion, by the firm hand and magnanimous mind of Cromwell. From a pitiable state of anarchy, France at once appeared on the theatre of Europe, great, powerful, and united. It is no common capacity which can thus seize the helm and right the ship when it is reeling most violently, and the fury of contending elements has all but torn it in pieces. It is the highest proof of political capacity to discern the bent of the public mind, when most violently exerted, and, by falling in with the prevailing desire of the majority, convert the desolating vehemence of social conflict into the steady passion for national advancement. Napoleon did this with the political aspirations of the eighteenth, Louis XIV. with the religious fervour of the seventeenth century.

It was because his character and turn of mind coincided with the national desires at the moment of his ascending the throne, that this great monarch was enabled to achieve this marvellous transformation. If Napoleon was the incarnation of the Revolution, with not less truth it may be said that Louis XIV. was the incarnation of the monarchy. The feudal spirit, modified but not destroyed by the changes of time, appeared to be concentrated, with its highest lustre, in his person. He was still the head of the Franks—the lustre of the historic families yet surrounded his throne; but he was the head of the Franks only—that is, of a hundred thousand conquering warriors. Twenty million of conquered Gauls were neither regarded nor considered in his administration, except in so far as they augmented the national strength, or added to the national resources. But this distinction was[519] then neither perceived nor regarded. Worn out with civil dissension, torn to pieces by religious passions, the fervent minds and restless ambition of the French longed for a national field for exertion—an arena in which social dissensions might be forgotten. Louis XIV. gave them this field: he opened this arena. He ascended the throne at the time when this desire had become so strong and general, as in a manner to concentrate the national will. His character, equally in all its parts, was adapted to the general want. He took the lead alike in the greatness and the foibles of his subjects. Were they ambitious? so was he:—were they desirous of renown? so was he:—were they set on national aggrandisement? so was he:—were they desirous of protection to industry? so was he:—were they prone to gallantry? so was he. His figure and countenance tall and majestic; his manner stately and commanding; his conversation dignified, but enlightened; his spirit ardent, but patriotic—qualified him to take the lead and preserve his ascendancy among a proud body of ancient nobles, whom the disasters of preceding reigns, and the astute policy of Cardinal Richelieu, had driven into the antechambers of Paris, but who preserved in their ideas and habits the pride and recollections of the conquerors who followed the banners of Clovis. And the great body of the people, proud of their sovereign, proud of his victories, proud of his magnificence, proud of his fame, proud of his national spirit, proud of the literary glory which environed his throne, in secret proud of his gallantries, joyfully followed their nobles in the brilliant career which his ambition opened, and submitted with as much docility to his government as they ranged themselves round the banners of their respective chiefs on the day of battle.

It was the peculiarity of the government of Louis XIV., arising from this fortuitous, but to him fortunate combination of circumstances, that it united the distinctions of rank, family attachments, and ancient ideas of feudal times, with the vigour and efficiency of monarchical government, and the lustre and brilliancy of literary glory. Such a combination could not, in the nature of things, last long; it must soon work out its own destruction. In truth, it was sensibly weakened during the course of the latter part of the half century that he sat upon the throne. But while it endured, it produced a most formidable union; it engendered an extraordinary and hitherto unprecedented phalanx of talent. The feudal ideas still lingering in the hearts of the nation, produced subordination; the national spirit, excited by the genius of the sovereign, induced unanimity; the development of talent, elicited by his discernment, conferred power; the literary celebrity, encouraged by his munificence, diffused fame. The peculiar character of Louis, in which great talent was united with great pride, and unbounded ambition with heroic magnanimity, qualified him to turn to the best account this singular combination of circumstances, and to unite in France, for a brief period, the lofty aspirations and dignified manners of chivalry, with the energy of rising talent and the lustre of literary renown.

Louis XIV. was essentially monarchical. That was the secret of his success; it was because he first gave the powers of unity to the monarchy, that he rendered France so brilliant and powerful. All his changes, and they were many, from the dress of soldiers to the instructions to ambassadors, breathed the same spirit. He first introduced a uniform in the army. Before his time, the soldiers merely wore a banderole over their steel breast-plates and ordinary dresses. That was a great and symptomatic improvement; it at once induced an esprit de corps and a sense of responsibility. He first made the troops march with a measured step, and caused large bodies of men to move with the precision of a single company. The artillery and engineer service, under his auspices, made astonishing progress. His discerning eye selected the genius of Vauban, which invented, as it were, the modern system of fortification, and wellnigh brought it to its greatest elevation—and raised to the highest command that of Turenne, which carried the military art to the most consum[520]mate perfection. Skilfully turning the martial and enterprising genius of the Franks into the career of conquest, he multiplied tenfold their power, by conferring on them the inestimable advantages of skilled discipline and unity of action. He gathered the feudal array around his banner; he roused the ancient barons from their chateaux, the old retainers from their villages; but he arranged them in disciplined battalions of regular troops, who received the pay and obeyed the orders of government, and never left their banners. When he summoned the array of France to undertake the conquest of the Low Countries, he appeared at the head of a hundred and twenty thousand men, all regular and disciplined troops, with a hundred pieces of cannon. Modern Europe had never seen such an array. It was irresistible, and speedily brought the monarch to the gates of Amsterdam.

The same unity which the genius of Louis and his ministers communicated to the military power of France, he gave also to its naval forces and internal strength. To such a pitch of greatness did he raise the marine of the monarchy, that it all but outnumbered that of England; and the battle of La Hogue in 1792 alone determined, as Trafalgar did a century after, to which of these rival powers the dominion of the seas was to belong. He reduced the government of the interior to that regular and methodical system of governors of provinces, mayors of cities, and other subordinate authorities, all receiving their instructions from the Tuileries, which, under no subsequent change of government, imperial or royal, has been abandoned, and which has, in every succeeding age, formed the main source of its strength. He concentrated around the monarchy the rays of genius from all parts of the country, and threw around its head a lustre of literary renown, which, more even than the exploits of his armies, dazzled and fascinated the minds of men. He arrayed the scholars, philosophers, and poets of his dominions like his soldiers and sailors; the whole academies of France, which have since become so famous, were of his institution; he sought to give discipline to thought, as he had done to his fleets and armies, and rewarded distinction in literary efforts, not less than warlike achievement. No monarch ever knew better the magical influence of intellectual strength on general thought, or felt more strongly the expedience of enlisting it on the side of authority. Not less than Hildebrand or Napoleon, he aimed at drawing, not over his own country alone, but the whole of Europe, the meshes of regulated and centralised opinion; and more durably than either he attained his object. The religious persecution, which constitutes the great blot on his reign, and caused its brilliant career to close in mourning, arose from the same cause. He was fain to give the same unity to the church which he had done to the army, navy, and civil strength of the monarchy. He saw no reason why the Huguenots should not, at the royal command, face about like one of Turenne's battalions. Schism in the church was viewed by him in exactly the same light as rebellion in the state. No efforts were spared by inducements, good deeds, and fair promises, to make proselytes; and when twelve hundred thousand Protestants resisted his seductions, the sword, the fagot, and the wheel were resorted to without mercy for their destruction.

Napoleon, it is well known, had the highest admiration of Louis XIV. Nor is this surprising: their principles of government and leading objects of ambition were the same. "L'état c'est moi," was the principle of this grandson of Henry IV.: "Your first duty is to me, your second to France," said the Emperor to his nephew Prince Louis Napoleon. In different words, the idea was the same. To concentrate Europe in France, France in Paris, Paris in the government, and the government in himself, was the ruling idea of each. But it was no concentration for selfish or unworthy purposes which was then desired; it was for great and lofty objects that this undivided power was desired. It was neither to gratify the desire of an Eastern seraglio, nor exercise the tyranny of a Roman emperor, that either coveted unbounded authority. It was to exalt the nation of which they formed the head, to augment[521] its power, extend its dominion, enhance its fame, magnify its resources, that they both deemed themselves sent into the world. It was the general sense that this was the object of their administration which constituted the strength of both. Equally with the popular party in the present day, they regarded society as a pyramid, of which the multitude formed the base, and the monarch the head. Equally with the most ardent democrat, they desired the augmentation of the national resources, the increase of public felicity. But they both thought that these blessings must descend from the sovereign to his subject, not ascend from the subjects to their sovereign. "Every thing for the people, nothing by them," which Napoleon described as the secret of good government, was not less the maxim of the imperious despot of the Bourbon race.

The identity of their ideas, the similarity of their objects of ambition, appears in the monuments which both have left at Paris. Great as was the desire of the Emperor to add to its embellishment, magnificent as were his ideas in the attempt, he has yet been unable to equal the noble structures of the Bourbon dynasty. The splendid pile of Versailles, the glittering dome of the Invalides, still, after the lapse of a century and a half, overshadow all the other monuments in the metropolis; though the confiscations of the Revolution, and the victories of the Emperor, gave succeeding governments the resources of the half of Europe for their construction. The inscription on the arch of Louis, "Ludovico Magno," still seems to embody the gratitude of the citizens to the greatest benefactor of the capital; and it is not generally known that the two edifices which have added most since his time to the embellishment of the metropolis, and of which the revolution and the empire are fain to take the credit—the Pantheon and the Madeleine—were begun in 1764 by Louis XV., and owe their origin to the magnificent ideas which Louis XIV. transmitted to his, in other respects, unworthy descendant.[1]

Had one dark and atrocious transaction not taken place, the annalist might have stopped here, and painted the French monarch, with a few foibles and weaknesses, the common bequest of mortality, still as, upon the whole, a noble and magnanimous ruler. His ambition, great as it was, and desolating as it proved, both to the adjoining states, and in the end his own subjects, was the "last infirmity of noble minds." He shared it with Cæsar and Alexander, with Charlemagne and Napoleon. Even his cruel and unnecessary ravaging of the Palatinate, though attended with dreadful private suffering, has too many parallels in the annals of military cruelty. His personal vanities and weaknesses, his love of show, his passion for women, his extravagant expenses, were common to him with his grandfather Henry IV.; they seemed inherent in the Bourbon race, and are the frailties to which heroic minds in every age have been most subject. But, for the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and the heartrending cruelties with which it was carried into execution, no such apology can be found. It admits neither of palliation nor excuse. But for the massacre of St Bartholomew, and the expulsion of the Morescoes from Spain, it would stand foremost in the annals of the world for kingly perfidy and priestly cruelty. The expulsion of five hundred thousand innocent human beings from their country, for no other cause but difference of religious opinion—the destruction, it is said, of nearly an hundred thousand by the frightful tortures of the wheel and the stake—the wholesale desolation of provinces and destruction of cities for conscience sake, never will and never should be forgotten. It is the eternal disgrace of the Roman Catholic religion—a disgrace to which the "execrations of ages have not yet affixed an adequate censure"—that all these infamous state crimes took their origin in the bigoted zeal, or [Pg 522]sanguinary ambition of the Church of Rome. Nor have any of them passed without their just reward. The expulsion of the Moors, the most industrious and valuable inhabitants of the Peninsula, has entailed a weakness upon the Spanish monarchy, which the subsequent lapse of two centuries has been unable to repair. The reaction against the Romish atrocities produced the great league of which William III. was the head; it sharpened the swords of Eugene and Marlborough; it closed in mourning the reign of Louis XV. Nor did the national punishment stop here. The massacre of St Bartholomew, and revocation of the Edict of Nantes, were the remote, but certain cause of the French Revolution, and all the unutterable miseries which it brought both upon the Bourbon race and the professors of the Romish faith. Nations have no immortality; their punishment is inflicted in this world; it is visited with unerring certainty on the third and fourth generations. Providence has a certain way of dealing with the political sins of men—which is, to leave them to the consequences of their own actions.

If ever the characters of two important actors on the theatre of human affairs stood forth in striking and emphatic contrast to each other, they were those of Louis XIV. and William III. They were, in truth, the representatives of the principles for which they respectively so long contended; their characters embodied the doctrines, and were distinguished by the features, of the causes for which they fought through life. As much as the character—stately, magnanimous, and ambitious, but bigoted and unscrupulous—of Louis XIV. personified the Romish, did the firm and simple, but persevering and unconquerable mind of William, embody the principles of the Protestant faith. The positions they respectively held through life, the stations they occupied, the resources, moral and political, which they wielded, were not less characteristic of the causes of which they were severally the heads. Louis led on the feudal resources of the French monarchy. Inured to rigid discipline, directed by consummate talent, supported by immense resources, his armies, uniting the courage of feudal to the organisation of civilised times, like those of Cæsar, had at first only to appear to conquer. From his gorgeous palaces at Paris, he seemed able, like the Church of Rome from the halls of the Quirinal, to give law to the whole Christian world. William began the contest under very different circumstances. Sunk in obscure marshes, cooped up in a narrow territory, driven into a corner of Europe, the forces at his command appeared as nothing before the stupendous array of his adversary. He was the emblem of the Protestant faith, arising from small beginnings, springing from the energy of the middle classes, but destined to grow with ceaseless vigour, until it reached the gigantic strength of its awful antagonist.

The result soon proved the prodigious difference in the early resources of the parties. Down went tower and town before the apparition of Louis in his strength. The iron barriers of Flanders yielded almost without a struggle to his arms. The genius of Turenne and Vauban, the presence of Louis, proved for the time irresistible. The Rhine was crossed; a hundred thousand men appeared before the gates of Amsterdam. Dissension had paralysed its strength, terror all but mastered its resolution. England, influenced by French mistresses, or bought by French gold, held back, and ere long openly joined the oppressor, alike of its liberties and its religion. All seemed lost alike for the liberties of Europe and the Protestant faith. But William was not dismayed. He had a certain resource against subjugation left. In his own words, "he could die in the last ditch." He communicated his unconquerable spirit to his fainting fellow-citizens; he inspired them with the noble resolution to abandon their country rather than submit to the invaders, and "seek in a new hemisphere that liberty of which Europe had become unworthy." The generous effort was not made in vain. The Dutch rallied round a leader who was not wanting to himself in such a crisis. The dikes were cut; the labour of centuries was lost; the ocean resumed its sway over the fields reft from its domain. But the cause of freedom of religion was[523] gained. The French armies recoiled from the watery waste, as those of Napoleon afterwards did from the flames of Moscow. Amsterdam was the limit of the conquests of Louis XIV. He there found the power which said, "Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further, and here shall thy proud waves be staid." Long, and often doubtful, was the contest; it was bequeathed to a succeeding generation and another reign. But from the invasion of Holland, the French arms and Romish domination permanently receded; and but for the desertion of the alliance by England, at the peace of Utrecht, they would have given law in the palace of the Grand Monarque, bridled the tyranny of Bossuet and Tellier, and permanently established the Protestant faith in nearly the half of Europe.

Like many other men who are called on to play an important part in the affairs of the world, William seemed formed by nature for the duties he was destined to perform. Had his mind been stamped by a different die, his character cast in a different mould, he would have failed in his mission. He was not a monarch of the most brilliant, nor a general of the most daring kind. Had he been either the one or the other, he would have been shattered against the colossal strength of Louis XIV., and crushed in the very outset of his career. But he possessed in the highest perfection that great quality without which, in the hour of trial, all others prove of no avail—moral courage, and invincible determination. His enterprises, often designed with ability and executed with daring, were yet all based, like those of Wellington afterwards in Portugal, on a just sense of the necessity of husbanding his resources from the constant inferiority of his forces and means to those of the enemy. He was perseverance itself. Nothing could shake his resolution, nothing divert his purpose. With equal energy he laboured in the cabinet to construct and keep together the vast alliance necessary to restrain the ambition of the French monarch, and toiled in the field to baffle the enterprises of his able generals. With a force generally inferior in number, always less powerful than that of his adversaries in discipline, composition, and resources, he nevertheless contrived to sustain the contest, and gradually wrested from his powerful enemy the more important fortresses, which, in the first tumult of invasion, had submitted to his arms. If the treaties of Nimeguen and Ryswick were less detrimental to the French power than that of Utrecht afterwards proved, they were more glorious to the arms of the Dutch commonwealth and the guidance of William; for they were the result of efforts in which the weight of the conflict generally fell on Holland alone; and its honours were not to be shared with those won by the wisdom of a Marlborough, or the daring of a Eugene.

In private life, William was distinguished by the same qualities which marked his public career. He had not the chivalrous ardour which bespoke the nobles of France, nor the stately magnificence of their haughty sovereign. His manners and habits were such as arose from, and suited, the austere and laborious people among whom his life was passed. Without being insensible to the softer passions, he never permitted them to influence his conduct, or incroach upon his time. He was patient, laborious, and indefatigable. To courtiers accustomed to the polished elegance of Paris, or the profligate gallantry of St James's, his manners appeared cold and unbending. It was easy to see he had not been bred in the saloons of Versailles or the soirées of Charles II. But he was steady and unwavering in his resolutions; his desires were set on great objects; and his external demeanour was correct, and often dignified. He was reproached by the English, not without reason, with being unduly partial, after his accession to the British throne, to his Dutch subjects; and he was influenced through life by a love of money, which, though at first arising from a bitter sense of its necessity in his long and arduous conflicts, degenerated in his older years into an avaricious turn. The national debt of England has been improperly ascribed to his policy. It arose unavoidably from the Revolution, and is the price which every nation pays for a lasting change, how necessary soever, in its ruling dynasty.[524] When the sovereign can no longer depend on the unbought loyalty of his subjects, he has no resource but in their interested attachment. Louis Philippe's government has done the same, under the influence of the same necessity. Yet William was not a perfect character; more than one dark transaction has left a lasting stain on his memory; and the massacre of Glencoe, in particular, if it did not equal the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in the wide-spread misery with which it was attended, rivalled it in the perfidy in which it was conceived, and the cruelty with which it was executed.

On his arrival in Holland on the 18th March 1710, Marlborough again found himself practically involved in the still pending negotiations for peace, over which, on the decline of his influence at court, he had ceased to have any real control. Still exposed to the blasting imputation of seeking to prolong the war for his own private purposes, he was in reality doing his utmost to terminate hostilities. As the negotiation with the ostensible plenipotentiaries of the different courts was at an end, but Louis still continued to make private overtures to the Dutch, in the hope of detaching them from the confederacy, Marlborough took advantage of this circumstance to endeavour to effect an accommodation. At his request, the Dutch agent, Petcum, had again repaired to Paris in the end of 1709, to resume the negotiation; and the Marlborough Papers contain numerous letters from him to the Duke, detailing the progress of the overtures.[2] On the very day after Marlborough's arrival at the Hague, the plenipotentiaries made their report of the issue of the negotiation; but the views of the parties were still so much at variance, that it was evident no hopes of peace could be entertained. Louis was not yet sufficiently humbled to submit to the arrogant demands of the Allies, which went to strip him of nearly all his conquests; and the different powers of the confederacy were each set upon turning the general success of the alliance to their own private advantage.

Zenzindorf, on the part of Austria, insisted that not the smallest portion of the Spanish territories in Italy should be ceded to a prince of the house of Bourbon, and declared the resolution of his imperial master to perish with arms in his hands, rather than submit to a partition which would lead to his inevitable ruin. King Charles expressed the same determination, and insisted further for the cession of Roussillon, which had been wrested from Spain since the treaty of the Pyrenees. The Duke of Savoy, who aimed at the acquisition of Sicily from the spoils of the fallen monarch, was equally obstinate for the prosecution of the war. Godolphin, Somers, and the Dutch Pensionary, inclined to peace, and were willing to purchase it by the cession of Sicily to Louis; and Marlborough gave this his entire support, provided the evacuation of Spain, the great object of the war, could be secured.[3] But all their efforts were in vain. The ambitious designs of Austria and Savoy prevailed over their pacific counsels; and we have the valuable authority of Torcy, who, in the former congress, had accused the Duke of breaking off the negotiation, that in this year the rupture was entirely owing to the efforts of Count Zenzindorf.[4] Marlborough, however, never ceased to long for a termination of hostilities, and took the field with a heavy heart, relieved only by the hope that one more successful campaign would give him what he so ardently desired, the rest consequent upon a general peace.[5]

War being resolved on, Marl[525]borough and Eugene met at Tournay on the 28th April, and commenced the campaign by the capture of the fort of Mortagne, which capitulated on the same day. Their force already amounted to sixty thousand men, and, as the troops were daily coming up from their cantonments, it was expected soon to amount to double the number. The plan of operations was soon settled between these two great men; no difference of opinion ever occurred between them, no jealousy ever marred their co-operations. They determined to commence serious operations by attacking Douay—a strong fortress, and one of the last of the first order which, in that quarter, guarded the French territory. To succeed in this, however, it was necessary to pass the French lines, which were of great strength, and were guarded by Marshal Montesquieu at the head of forty battalions and twenty squadrons. Douay itself also was strongly protected both by art and nature. On the one side lay the Haine and the Scarpe; in the centre was the canal of Douay; on the other hand were the lines of La Bassie, which had been strengthened with additional works since the close of the campaign. Marlborough was very sanguine of success, as the French force was not yet collected, and he was considerably superior in number; and he wrote to Godolphin on the same night—"The orders are given for marching this night, so that I hope my next will give you an account of our being in Artois."[6]

The Duke operated at once by both wings. On the one wing he detached the Prince of Wirtemberg, with fifteen thousand men, by Pont-a-Tessin to Pont-a-Vendin, where the French lines met the Dyle and the canal of Douay; while Prince Eugene moved forward Count Fels, with a considerable corps, towards Pont Auby on the same canal. The whole army followed in two columns, the right commanded by Eugene, and the left by Marlborough. The English general secured the passage at Pont-a-Vendin without resistance; and Eugene, though baffled at Pont Auby, succeeded in passing the canal at Sant and Courieres without serious loss. The first defences were thus forced; and that night the two wings, having formed a junction, lay on their arms in the plain of Lens, while Montesquieu precipitately retired behind the Scarpe, in the neighbourhood of Vitry. Next morning the troops, overjoyed at their success, continued their advance. Marlborough sent forward General Cadogan, at the head of the English troops, to Pont-a-Rache, to circumscribe the garrison of Douay, on the canal of Marchiennes on the north; while Eugene, encamping on the other side of the Scarpe, completed the investment on the west. The perfect success of this enterprise without any loss was matter of equal surprise and joy to the Duke, who wrote to the Duchess in the highest strain of satisfaction at his bloodless triumph. It was entirely owing to the suddenness and secresy of his movements, which took the enemy completely unawares; for, had the enterprise been delayed four days longer, its issue would have been extremely doubtful, and thousands of men must, at all events, have been sacrificed.[7]


Douay, which was immediately invested after this success, is a fortress of considerable strength, in the second line which covers the French province of Artois. Less populous than Lille, it embraces a wider circuit within its ample walls. Its principal defence consists in the marshes, which, on the side of Tournay, where attack might be expected, render it extremely difficult of access, especially in the rainy season. Access to it is defended by Fort Scarpe, a powerful outwork, capable of standing a separate siege. The garrison consisted of eight thousand men, under the command of the Marquis Albergotti, an officer of the highest talent and bravery; and under him were the renowned Valory, to direct the engineers, and the not less celebrated Chevalier de Jaucourt, to command the artillery. From a fortress of such strength so defended, the most resolute resistance might be expected, and no efforts were spared on the part of the Allied generals to overcome it.

The investment was completed on the 24th, and the trenches opened on the 5th May. On the 7th, the head of the sap was advanced to within two hundred and fifty yards of the exterior palisades; but the besiegers that night experienced a severe check from a vigorous sally of the besieged with twelve hundred men, by which two English regiments were nearly cut to pieces. But, on the 9th, a great train of artillery, consisting of two hundred pieces, with a large supply of artillery, arrived from Tournay; on the 11th, the advanced works were strongly armed, and the batteries were pushed up to the covered way, and thundered across the ditch against the rampart. The imminent danger of this important stronghold now seriously alarmed the French court; and Marshal Villars, who commanded their great army on the Flemish frontier, received the most positive orders to advance to its relief. By great exertions, he had now collected one hundred and fifty-three battalions and two hundred and sixty-two squadrons, which were pompously announced as mustering one hundred and fifty thousand combatants, and certainly amounted to more than eighty thousand. The Allied force was almost exactly equal; it consisted of one hundred and fifty-five battalions and two hundred and sixty-one squadrons. Villars broke up from the vicinity of Cambray on the 21st May, and advanced in great strength towards Douay. Marlborough and Eugene immediately made the most vigorous preparations to receive him. Thirty battalions only were left to prosecute the siege; twelve squadrons were placed in observation at Pont-a-Rache; and the whole remainder of the army, about seventy thousand strong, concentrated in a strong position, covering the siege, on which all the resources of art, so far as the short time would admit, had been lavished. Every thing was prepared for a mighty struggle. The whole guns were mounted on batteries four hundred paces from each other; the infantry was drawn up in a single line along the intrenchment, and filled up the whole interval between the artillery; the cavalry were arranged in two lines, seven hundred paces in rear of the foot-soldiers. It seemed another Malplaquet, in which the relative position of the two armies was reversed, and the French were to storm the intrenched position of the Allies. Every man in both armies fully expected a decisive battle; and Marlborough, who was heartily tired of the war, wrote to the Duchess, that he hoped for a victory, which should at once end the war, and restore him to private life.[8]


Yet there was no battle. The lustre of Blenheim and Ramilies played round Marlborough's bayonets; the recollection of Turin tripled the force of Eugene's squadrons. Villars advanced on the 1st June, with all the pomp and circumstance of war, to within musket-shot of the Allied position; and he had not only the authority but the recommendation of Louis to hazard a battle. He boasted that his force amounted to a hundred and sixty thousand men.[9] But he did not venture to make the attack. To Marlborough's great regret, he retired without fighting; and the English general, at the age of threescore, was left to pursue the fatigues and the labours of a protracted campaign, in which, for the first time in his life, he was doubtful of success, from knowing the malignant eyes with which he was regarded by the ruling factions in his own country. "I long," said he, "for an end of the war, so God's will be done; whatever the event may be, I shall have nothing to reproach myself with, having, with all my heart, done my duty, and being hitherto blessed with more success than was ever known before. My wishes and duty are the same; but I can't say I have the same prophetic spirit I used to have; for in all the former actions I never did doubt of success, we having had constantly the great blessing of being of one mind. I cannot say it is so now; for I fear some are run so far into villanous faction, that it would more content them to see us beaten; but if I live I will be watchful that it shall not be in their power to do much hurt. The discourse of the Duke of Argyle is, that when I please there will then be peace. I suppose his friends speak the same language in England; so that I must every summer venture my life in a battle, and be found fault with in winter for not bringing home peace. No, I wish for it with all my heart and soul."[10]

Villars having retired without fighting, the operations of the siege were resumed with redoubled vigour. On the 16th June, signals of distress were sent up from the town, which the French marshal perceived, and he made in consequence a show of returning to interrupt the siege, but his movements came to nothing. Marlborough, to counteract his movement, repassed the Scarpe at Vitry, and took up a position directly barring the line of advance of the French marshal, while Eugene prosecuted the siege. Villars again retired without fighting. On the 22d, the Fort of Scarpe was breached, and the sap was advanced to the counterscarp of the fortress, the walls of which were violently shaken; and on the 26th, Albergotti, who had no longer any hope of being relieved, and who saw preparations made for a general assault, capitulated with the garrison, now reduced to four thousand five hundred men.[11]

On the surrender of Douay, the Allied generals intended to besiege Arras, the last of the triple line of fortresses which on that side covered France, and between which and Paris no fortified place remained to arrest the march of an invader. On the 10th July, Marlborough crossed the Scarpe at Vitry, and, joining Eugene, their united forces, nearly ninety thousand strong, advanced towards Arras. But Villars, who felt the extreme importance of this last stronghold, had exerted himself to the utmost for its defence. He had long employed his troops on the construction of new lines of great strength on the Crinchon, stretching from Arras and the Somme, and he had here collected nearly a hundred thousand men, and a hundred and thirty pieces of cannon. After reconnoitring this position, the Allied generals concurred in thinking that it was equally impossible to force them, and undertake the siege of Arras, while the enemy, in such strength, and so strongly posted, lay on its flank. Their first intention, on finding themselves baffled [528]in this project, was to seize Hesdin on the Cancher, which would have left the enemy no strong place between them and the coast. But the skilful dispositions of Villars, who on this occasion displayed uncommon abilities and foresight, rendered this design abortive, and it was therefore determined to attack Bethune. This place, which was surrounded with very strong works, was garrisoned by nine thousand men, under the command of M. Puy Vauban, nephew, of the celebrated marshal of the same name. But as an attack on it had not been expected, the necessary supplies for a protracted resistance had not been fully introduced when the investment was completed on the 15th July.[12]

Villars, upon seeing the point of attack now fully declared, moved in right columns upon Hobarques, near Montenencourt. Eugene and Marlborough upon this assembled their covering army, and changed their front, taking up a new line stretching from Mont St Eloi to Le Comte. Upon advancing to reconnoitre the enemy, Marlborough discovered that the French, advancing to raise the siege, were busy strengthening a new set of lines, which stretched across the plain from the rivulet Ugie to the Lorraine, and the centre of which at Avesnes Le Comte was already strongly fortified. It now appeared how much Villars had gained by the skilful measures which had diverted the Allies from their projected attack upon Arras. It lay upon the direct road to Paris. Bethune, though of importance to the ultimate issue of the war, was not of the same present moment. It lay on the flank on the second line, Arras in front, and was the only remaining fortress in the last. By means of the new lines which he had constructed, the able French marshal had erected a fresh protection for his country, when its last defences were wellnigh broken through. By simply holding them, the interior of France was covered from incursion, and time gained for raising fresh armaments in the interior for its defence, and, what was of more importance to Louis, awaiting the issue of the intrigues in England, which were expected soon to overthrow the Whig cabinet. Villars, on this occasion, proved the salvation of his country, and justly raised himself to the very highest rank among its military commanders. His measures were the more to be commended that they exposed him to the obloquy of leaving Bethune to its fate, which surrendered by capitulation, with its numerous garrison and accomplished commander, on the 28th August.[13]

Notwithstanding the loss of so many fortresses on the endangered frontier of his territory, Louis XIV. was so much encouraged by what he knew of the great change which was going on in the councils of Queen Anne, that, expecting daily an entire revolution in the ministry, and overthrow of the war party in the Cabinet, he resolved on the most vigorous prosecution of the contest. He made clandestine overtures to the secret advisers of the Queen, in the hope of establishing that separate negotiation which at no distant period proved so successful. Torcy, the Duke's enemy, triumphantly declared, "what we lose in Flanders, we shall gain in England."[14] To frustrate these machinations, and if possible rouse the national feeling more strongly in favour of a vigorous prosecution of the war, Marlborough determined to lay siege to Aire and St Venant, which, though off the line of direct attack on France, laid open the way to Calais, which, if supported at home, he hoped to reduce before the conclusion of the campaign.[15] He entertained the most sanguine hopes of success from [529]this design, which was warmly supported by Godolphin; but he obtained at this time such discouraging accounts of the precarious condition of his influence at court, that he justly concluded he would not be adequately supported in them from England, from which the main supplies for the enterprise must be drawn. He wisely, therefore, resolved, in concert with Eugene, to forego this dazzling but perilous project for the present, and to content himself with the solid advantages, unattended with risk, of reducing Aire and St Venant.

Having takes their resolution, the confederate generals began their march in the beginning of September, and on the 6th of that month, both places were invested. Aire, which is comparatively of small extent, was garrisoned by only five thousand seven hundred men; but Venant was a place of great size and strength, and had a garrison of fourteen battalions of foot and three regiments of dragoons, mustering eight thousand combatants. They were under the command of the Count de Guebriant, a brave and skillful commander. Both were protected by inundations, which retarded extremely the operations of the besiegers, the more especially as the autumnal rains had early set in this year with more than usual severity. While anxiously awaiting the cessation of this obstacle, and the arrival of a great convoy of heavy cannon and ammunition which was coming up from Ghent, the Allied generals received the disheartening intelligence of the total defeat of this important convoy, which, though guarded by sixteen hundred men, was attacked and destroyed by a French corps on the 19th September. This loss affected Marlborough the more sensibly, that it was the first disaster of moment which had befallen him during nine years of incessant warfare.[16] But, notwithstanding this disaster, St Venant was so severely pressed by the fire of the besiegers, under the Prince of Anhalt, who conducted the operations with uncommon vigour and ability, that it was compelled to capitulate on the 29th, on condition of its garrison being conducted to St Omer, not to serve again till regularly exchanged.

Aire still held out, as the loss of the convoy from Ghent, and the dreadful rains which fell almost without intermission during the whole of October, rendered the progress of the siege almost impossible. The garrison, too, under the command of the brave governor, made a most resolute defence. Sickness prevailed to a great extent in the Allied army; the troops were for the most part up to the knees in mud and water; and the rains, which fell night and day without intermission, precluded the possibility of finding a dry place for their lodging. It was absolutely necessary, however, to continue the siege; for, independent of the credit of the army being staked on its success, it had become impossible, as Marlborough himself said, to draw the cannon from the trenches.[17] The perseverance of the Allied commanders was at length rewarded by success. On the 12th November the fortress capitulated, and the garrison, still three thousand six hundred and twenty-eight strong, marched out prisoners, leaving sixteen hundred sick and wounded in the town. This conquest, which concluded the campaign, was, however, dearly purchased by the loss of nearly seven thousand men killed and wounded in the Allied ranks, exclusive of the sick, who, amidst those pestilential marshes, had now swelled to double the number.[18]


Although the capture of four such important fortresses as Douay, Bethune, St Venant, and Aire, with their garrisons, amounting to thirty thousand men, who had been taken in them during the campaign, was a most substantial advantage, and could not fail to have a most important effect on the final issue of the war; yet it did not furnish the same subject for national exultation which preceding ones had done. There had been no brilliant victory like Blenheim, Ramilies, or Oudenarde, to silence envy and defy malignity; the successes, though little less real, had been not so dazzling. The intriguers about the court, the malcontents in the country, eagerly seized on this circumstance to calumniate the Duke, and accused him of unworthy motives in the conduct of the war. He was protracting it for his own private purposes, reducing it to a strife of lines and sieges, when he might at once terminate it by a decisive battle, and gratifying his ruling passion of avarice by the lucrative appointments which he enjoyed himself, or divided among his friends. Nor was it only among the populace and his political opponents that these surmises prevailed; his greatness and fame had become an object of envy to his own party. Orford, Wharton, and Halifax had on many occasions evinced their distrust of him; and even Somers, who had long stood his friend, was inclined to think the power of the Duke of Marlborough too great, and the emoluments and offices of his family and connexions immoderate.[19] The Duchess inflamed the discord between him and the Queen, by positively refusing to come to any reconciliation with her rival, Mrs Masham. The discord increased daily, and great were the efforts made to aggravate it. To the Queen, the never-failing device was adopted of representing the victorious general as lording it over the throne; as likely to eclipse even the crown by the lustre of his fame; as too dangerous and powerful a subject for a sovereign to tolerate. Matters came to such a pass, in the course of the summer of 1710, that Marlborough found himself thwarted in every request he made, every project he proposed; and he expressed his entire nullity to the Duchess, by the emphatic expression, that he was a "mere sheet of white paper, upon which his friends might write what they pleased."[20]

The spite at the Duke appeared in the difficulties which were now started by the Lords of the Treasury in regard to the prosecution of the works at Blenheim. This noble monument of a nation's gratitude had hitherto proceeded rapidly; the stately design of Vanburgh was rapidly approaching its completion, and so anxious had the Queen been to see it finished, that she got a model of it placed in the royal palace of Kensington. Now, however, petty and unworthy objections were started on the score of expense, and attempts were made, by delaying payment of the sums from the Treasury, to throw the cost of completing the building on the great general. He had penetration enough, however, to avoid falling into the snare, and actually suspended the progress of the work when the Treasury warrants were withheld. He constantly directed that the management of the building should be left to the Queen's officers; and, by steadily adhering to this system, he shamed them into continuing the work.[21]

Marlborough's name and influence, however, were too great to be entirely neglected, and the party which was now rising into supremacy at court were anxious, if possible, to secure them to their own side. They made, accordingly, overtures in secret to him; and it was even insinuated that, if he would abandon the Whigs, and coalesce with them, he would entirely regain the royal favour, and might aspire to the highest situation which a subject could hold. Lord Bolingbroke has told us what the conditions of this alliance were to be:—"He was to abandon the Whigs, his new friends, and take up with the Tories, his old friends; to engage heartily in the true interests, and no longer leave [531]his country a prey to rapine and faction. He was, besides, required to restrain the rage and fury of his wife. Their offers were coupled with threats of an impeachment, and boasts that sufficient evidence could be adduced to carry a prosecution through both Houses."[22] To terms so degrading, the Duke answered in terms worthy of his high reputation. He declared his resolution to be of no party, to vote according to his conscience, and to be as hearty as his new colleagues in support of the Queen's government and the welfare of the country. This manly reply increased the repulsive feelings with which he was regarded by the ministry, who seem now to have finally resolved on his ruin; while the intelligence that such overtures had been made having got wind, sowed distrust between him and the Whig leaders, which was never afterwards entirely removed. But he honourably declared that he would be governed by the Whigs, from whom he would never depart; and that they could not suspect the purity of his motives in so doing, as they had now lost the majority in the House of Commons.[23]

Parliament met on the 25th November; and Marlborough, in the end of the year, returned to London. But he soon received decisive proof of the altered temper both of government and the country towards him. In the Queen's speech, no notice was taken of the late successes in Flanders, no vote of thanks for his services in the campaign moved by ministers; and they even contrived, by a sidewind, to get quit of one proposed, to their no small embarrassment, by Lord Scarborough. The Duchess, too, was threatened with removal from her situation at court; and Marlborough avowed that he knew the Queen was "as desirous for her removal as Mr Harley and Mr Masham can be." The violent temper and proud unbending spirit of the Duchess were ill calculated to heal such a breach, which, in the course of the winter, became so wide, that her removal from the situation she held, as mistress of the robes, was only prevented by the fear that, in the vehemence of her resentment, she might publish the Queen's correspondence, and that the Duke, whose military services could not yet be spared, might resign his command. Libels against both the Duke and the Duchess daily appeared, and passed entirely unpunished, though the freedom of the press was far from being established. Three officers were dismissed from the army for drinking his health. When he waited on the Queen, on his arrival in England, in the end of December, she said—"I must request you will not suffer any vote of thanks to you to be moved in Parliament this year, as my ministers will certainly oppose it." Such was the return made by government to the hero who had raised the power and glory of England to an unprecedented pitch, and in that very campaign had cut deeper into the iron frontier of France than had ever been done in any former one.[24]

The female coterie who aided at St James's the male opponents of Marlborough, were naturally extremely solicitous to get the Duchess removed from her situations as head of the Queen's household and keeper of the privy purse; and ministers were only prevented from carrying their wishes into effect by their apprehension, if executed, of the Duke's resigning his command of the army. In an audience, on 17th January 1711, Marlborough presented a letter to her Majesty from the Duchess, couched in terms of extreme humility, in [532]which she declared that his anxiety was such, at the requital his services had received, that she apprehended he would not live six months.[25] The Queen at first refused to read it; and when at length, at the Duke's earnest request, she agreed to do so, she coldly observed—"I cannot change my resolution." Marlborough, in the most moving terms, and with touching eloquence, intreated the Queen not to dismiss the Duchess till she had no more need of her services, by the war being finished, which, he hoped, would be in less than a year; but he received no other answer, but a peremptory demand for the surrender of the gold key, the symbol of her office, within three days. Unable to obtain any relaxation in his sovereign's resolution, Marlborough withdrew with the deepest emotions of indignation and sorrow. The Duchess, in a worthy spirit, immediately took his resolution; she sent in her resignation, with the gold key, that very night. So deeply was Marlborough hurt at this extraordinary ingratitude for all his services, that he at first resolved to resign his whole command, and retire altogether into private life. From this intention he was only diverted, and that with great difficulty, by the efforts of Godolphin and the Whigs at home, and Prince Eugene and the Pensionary Heinsius abroad, who earnestly besought him not to abandon the command, as that would at once dissolve the grand alliance, and ruin the common cause. We can sympathise with the feelings of a victorious warrior who felt reluctant to forego, by one hasty step, the fruit of nine years of victories: we cannot but respect the self-sacrifice of the patriot who preferred enduring mortifications himself, to endangering the great cause of religious freedom and European independence. Influenced by these considerations, Marlborough withheld his intended resignation. The Duchess of Somerset was made mistress of the robes, and Mrs Masham obtained the confidential situation of keeper of the privy purse. Malignity, now sure of impunity, heaped up invectives on the falling hero. His integrity was calumniated, his courage even questioned, and the most consummate general of that, or perhaps any other age, represented as the lowest of mankind.[26] It soon appeared how unfounded had been the aspersions cast upon the Duchess, as well as the Duke, for their conduct in office. Her accounts, after being rigidly scrutinised, were returned to her without any objection being stated against them; and Marlborough, anxious to quit that scene of ingratitude and intrigue for the real theatre of his glory, soon after set out for the army in Flanders.[27]

Marlborough arrived at the Hague on the 4th March; and, although no longer possessing the confidence of government, or intrusted with any control over diplomatic measures, he immediately set himself with the utmost vigour to prepare for military operations. Great efforts had been made by both parties, during the winter, for the resumption of hostilities, on even a more extended scale than in any preceding campaign. Marlborough found the army in the Low Countries extremely efficient and powerful; diversions were promised on the side both of Spain and Piedmont; and a treaty had been concluded with the Spanish malcontents, in consequence of which a large part of the Imperial forces were rendered disposable, which Prince Eugene was preparing to lead into the Low Countries. But, in the midst of these flattering prospects, an event occurred which suddenly deranged then all, postponed for above a month the opening of the campaign, and, in its final result, changed the [533]fate of Europe. This was the death of the Emperor Joseph, of the smallpox, which happened at Vienna on the 16th April—an event which was immediately followed by Charles, King of Spain, declaring himself a candidate for the Imperial throne. As his pretensions required to be supported by a powerful demonstration of troops, the march of a large part of Eugene's men to the Netherlands was immediately stopped, and that prince himself was hastily recalled from Mentz, to take the command of the empire at Ratisbon, as marshal. Charles was soon after elected Emperor. Thus Marlborough was left to commence the campaign alone, which was the more to be regretted, as the preparations of Louis, during the winter, for the defence of his dominions had been made on the most extensive scale, and Marshal Villars' lines had come to be regarded as the ne plus ultra of field fortification. Yet were Marlborough's forces most formidable; for, when reviewed at Orchies on the 30th April, between Lille and Douay, they were found, including Eugene's troops which had come up, to amount to one hundred and eighty-four battalions, and three hundred and sixty-four squadrons, mustering above one hundred thousand combatants.[28] But forty-one battalions and forty squadrons were in garrison, which reduced the effective force in the field to eighty thousand men.

The great object of Louis and his generals had been to construct such a line of defences as might prevent the irruption of the enemy into the French territory, now that the interior and last line of fortresses was so nearly broken through. In pursuance of this design, Villars had, with the aid of all the most experienced engineers in France, and at a vast expense of labour and money, constructed during the winter a series of lines and field-works, exceeding any thing yet seen in modern Europe in magnitude and strength, and to which the still more famous lines of Torres Vedras have alone, in subsequent times, afforded a parallel. The works extended from Namur on the Meuse, by a sort of irregular line, to the coast of Picardy. Running first along the marshy line of the Canche, they rested on the forts of Montreuil, Hesdin, and Trevant; while the great fortresses of Ypres, Calais, Gravelines, and St Omer, lying in their front, and still in the hands of the French, rendered any attempt to approach them both difficult and hazardous. Along the whole of this immense line, extending over so great a variety of ground, for above forty miles, every effort had been made, by joining the resources of art to the defences of nature, to render the position impregnable. The lines were not continuous, as in many places the ground was so rugged, or the obstacles of rocks, precipices, and ravines were so formidable, that it was evidently impossible to overcome them. But where*ever a passage was practicable, the approaches to it were protected in the most formidable manner. If a streamlet ran along the line, it was carefully dammed up, so as to be rendered impassible. Every morass was deepened, by stopping up its drains, or letting in the water of the larger rivers by artificial canals into it; redoubts were placed on the heights, so as to enfilade the plains between them; while in the open country, where no advantage of ground was to be met with, field-works were erected, armed with abundance of heavy cannon. To man these formidable lines, Villars had under his command one hundred and fifty-six battalions, and two hundred and twenty-seven squadrons in the field, containing seventy thousand infantry, and twenty thousand horse. He had ninety field guns and twelve howitzers. There was, besides, thirty-five battalions and eighty squadrons detached or in the forts; and, as Eugene soon took away twelve battalions and fifty squadrons from the Allied army, the forces on the opposite side, when they came to blows, were very nearly equal.[29]


Marlborough took the field on the 1st May, with eighty thousand men; and his whole force was soon grouped in and around Douay. The headquarters of Villars were at Cambray; but, seeing the forces of his adversary thus accumulated in one point, he made a corresponding concentration, and arranged his whole disposable forces between Bouchain on the right, and Monchy Le Preux on the left. This position of the French marshal, which extended in a concave semicircle with the fortresses, covering either flank, he considered, and with reason, as beyond the reach of attack. The English general was meditating a great enterprise, which should at once deprive the enemy of all his defences, and reduce him to the necessity of fighting a decisive battle, or losing his last frontier fortresses. But he was overwhelmed with gloomy anticipations; he felt his strength sinking under his incessant and protracted fatigues, and knew well he was serving a party who, envious of his fame, were ready only to decry his achievements.[30] He lay, accordingly, for three weeks awaiting the arrival of his illustrious colleague, Prince Eugene, who joined on the 23d May, and took part in a great celebration of the anniversary of the victory at Ramilies, which had taken place on that day. The plans of the Allied generals were soon formed; and, taking advantage of the enthusiasm excited by that commemoration, and the arrival of so illustrious a warrior, preparations were made for the immediate commencement of active operations. On the 28th, the two generals reviewed the whole army. But their designs were soon interrupted by an event which changed the whole fortune of the campaign. Early in June, Eugene received positive orders to march to Germany, with a considerable part of his troops, to oppose a French force, which was moving towards the Rhine, to influence the approaching election of Emperor. On the 13th June, Eugene and Marlborough separated, for the last time, with the deepest expressions of regret on both sides, and gloomy forebodings of the future. The former marched towards the Rhine with twelve battalions and fifty squadrons, while Marlborough's whole remaining force marched to the right in six divisions.[31]

Though Villars was relieved by the departure of Eugene from a considerable part of the force opposed to him, and he naturally felt desirous of now measuring his strength with his great antagonist in a decisive affair, yet he was restrained from hazarding a general engagement. Louis, trusting to the progress of the Tory intrigues in England, and daily expecting to see Marlborough and the war-party overthrown, sent him positive orders not to fight; and soon after detached twenty-five battalions and forty squadrons, in two divisions, to the Upper Rhine, to watch the movements of Eugene. Villars encouraged this separation, representing that the strength of his position was such, that he could afford to send a third detachment to the Upper Rhine, if it was thought proper. Marlborough, therefore, in vain offered battle, and drew up his army in the plain of Lens for that purpose. Villars cautiously remained on the defensive; and, though he threw eighteen bridges over the Scarpe, and made a show of intending to fight, he cautiously abstained from any steps which might bring on a general battle.[32] It was not without good reason that Louis thus enjoined his lieutenant to avoid compromising his army. The progress of the negotiations with England gave him the fairest ground for believing that he would obtain nearly all he desired from the favour [535]with which he was regarded by the British cabinet without running any risk. He had commenced a separate negotiation with the court of St James's, which had been favourably received; and Mr Secretary St John had already transmitted to Lord Raby, the new plenipotentiary at the Hague, a sketch of six preliminary articles proposed by the French king, which were to be the basis of a general peace.[33]

The high tone of these proposals proved how largely Louis counted upon the altered dispositions of the British cabinet. The Spanish succession, the real object of the war, was evaded. Every thing was directed to British objects, and influenced by the desire to tempt the commercial cupidity of England to the abandonment of the great objects of her national policy. Real security was tendered to the British commerce with Spain, the Indus, and the Mediterranean; the barrier the Dutch had so long contended for was agreed to; a reasonable satisfaction was tendered to the allies of England and Holland; and, as to the Spanish succession, it was to be left to "new expedients, to the satisfaction of all parties interested." These proposals were favourably received by the British ministry; they were in secret communicated to the Pensionary Heinsius, but concealed from the Austrian and Piedmontese plenipotentiaries; and they were not communicated to Marlborough—a decisive proof both of the altered feeling of the cabinet towards that general, and of the consciousness on their part of the tortuous path on which they were now entering.[34]

After much deliberation, and a due consideration of what could be effected by the diminished force now at his disposal, which, by the successive drafts to Eugene's army, was now reduced to one hundred and nineteen battalions, and two hundred and fifty-six squadrons, not mustering above seventy-five thousand combatants, Marlborough determined to break through the enemies' boasted lines; and, after doing so, undertake the siege of Bouchain, the possession of which would give him a solid footing within the French frontier. With this view, he had long and minutely studied the lines of Villars; and he hoped that, even with the force at his disposal, they might be broken through. To accomplish this, however, required an extraordinary combination of stratagem and force; and the manner in which Marlborough contrived to unite them, and bring the ardent mind and lively imagination of his adversary to play into his hands, to the defeat of all the objects he had most at heart, is perhaps the most wonderful part of his whole military achievements.[35]

During his encampment at Lewarde, opposite Villars, the English general had observed that a triangular piece of ground in front of the French position, between Cambray, Aubanchocil-au-bac, and the junction of the Sauzet and Scheldt, offered a position so strong, that a small body of men might defend it against a very considerable force. He resolved to make the occupation of this inconsiderable piece of ground the pivot on which the whole passage of the lines should be effected. A redoubt at Aubigny, which commanded the approach to it, was first carried without difficulty. Arleux, which also was fortified, was next attacked by seven hundred men, who issued from Douay in the night. That post also was taken, with one hundred and twenty prisoners. Marlborough instantly used all imaginable expedition in strengthening it; and Villars, jealous of a fortified post so close to his lines remaining in the hands of the Allies, attacked it in the night of the 9th July; and, though he failed in retaking the work, he surprised the Allies at that point, and made two hundred men and four hundred horses prisoners. Though much chagrined at the success of this nocturnal attack, the English general [536]now saw his designs advancing to maturity. He therefore left Arleux to its own resources, and marched towards Bethune. That fort was immediately attacked by Marshal Montesquieu, and, after a stout resistance, carried by the French, who made the garrison, five hundred strong, prisoners. Villars immediately razed Arleux to the ground, and withdrew his troops; while Marlborough, who was in hopes the lure of these successes would induce Villars to hazard a general engagement, shut himself up in his tent, and appeared to be overwhelmed with mortification at the checks he had received.[36]

Villars was so much elated with these successes, and the accounts he received of Marlborough's mortification, that he wrote to the king of France a vain-glorious letter, in which he boasted that he had at length brought his antagonist to a ne plus ultra. Meanwhile, Marlborough sent off his heavy baggage to Douay; sent his artillery under a proper guard to the rear; and, with all imaginable secresy, baked bread for the whole troops for six days, which was privately brought up. Thus disencumbered and prepared, he broke up at four in the morning on the 1st of August, and marched in eight columns towards the front. During the three following days, the troops continued concentrated, and menacing sometimes one part of the French lines and sometimes another, so as to leave the real point of attack in a state of uncertainty. Seriously alarmed, Villars concentrated his whole force opposite the Allies, and drew in all his detachments, evacuating even Aubigny and Arleux, the object of so much eager contention some days before. On the evening of the 4th, Marlborough, affecting great chagrin at the check he had received, spoke openly to those around him of his intention of avenging them by a general action, and pointed to the direction the attacking columns were to take. He then returned to the camp, and gave orders to prepare for battle. Gloom hung on every countenance of those around him; it appeared nothing short of an act of madness to attack an enemy superior in number, and strongly posted in a camp surrounded with entrenchments, and bristling with cannon. They ascribed it to desperation, produced by the mortifications received from the government, and feared that, by one rash act, he would lose the fruit of all his victories. Proportionally great was the joy in the French camp, when the men, never doubting they were on the eve of a glorious victory, spent the night in the exultation which, in that excitable people, has so often been the prelude to disaster.[37]

Having brought the feeling of both armies to this point, and produced a concentration of Villars's army directly in his front, Marlborough, at dusk on the 4th, ordered the drums to beat; and before the roll had ceased, orders were given for the tents to be struck. Meanwhile Cadogan secretly left the camp, and met twenty-three battalions and seventeen squadrons, drawn from the garrisons of Lille and Tournay, which instantly marched; and continuing to advance all night, passed the lines rapidly to the left, without opposition at Arleux, at break of day. A little before nine, the Allied main army began to defile rapidly to the left, through the woods of Villers and Neuville—Marlborough himself leading the van, at the head of fifty squadrons. With such expedition did they march, still holding steadily on to the left, that before five in the morning of the 5th they reached Vitry on the Scarpe, where they found pontoons ready for their passage, and a considerable train of field artillery. At the same time, the English general here received the welcome intelligence of Cadogan's success. He instantly dispatched orders to every man and horse to press forward without delay. Such was the ardour of the troops, who all saw the brilliant manœuvre by which they had outwitted the enemy, and rendered all their labour abortive, that they marched sixteen hours with[537]out once halting; and by ten next morning, the whole had passed the enemies' lines without opposition, and without firing a shot! Villars received intelligence of the night-march having begun at eleven at night; but so utterly was he in the dark as to the plan his opponent was pursuing, that he came up to Verger, when Marlborough had drawn up his army on the inner side of the lines in order of battle, attended only by a hundred dragoons, and narrowly escaped being made prisoner. Altogether, the Allied troops marched thirty-six miles in sixteen hours, the most part of them in the dark, and crossed several rivers, without either falling into confusion or sustaining any loss. The annals of war scarcely afford an example of such a success being gained in so bloodless a manner. The famous French lines, which Villars boasted would form the ne plus ultra of Marlborough, had been passed without losing a man; the labour of nine months was at once rendered of no avail, and the French army, in deep dejection, had no alternative but to retire under the cannon of Cambray.[38]

This great success at once restored the lustre of Marlborough's reputation, and, for a short season, put to silence his detractors. Eugene, with the generosity which formed so striking a feature in his character, wrote to congratulate him on his achievement;[39] and even Bolingbroke admitted that this bloodless triumph rivalled his greatest achievements.[40] Marlborough immediately commenced the siege of Bouchain; but this was an enterprise of no small difficulty, as it was to be accomplished on very difficult ground, in presence of an army superior in force. The investment was formed on the very day after the lines had been passed, and an important piece of ground occupied, which might have enabled Villars to communicate with the town, and regain a defensible position. On the morning of the 8th August, a bridge was thrown over the Scheldt at Neuville, and sixty squadrons passed over, which barred the road from Douay. Villars upon this threw thirty battalions across the Seuzet, and made himself master of a hill above, on which he began to erect works, which would have kept open his communications with the town on its southern front. Marlborough saw at once this design, and at first determined to storm the works ere they were completed; and, with this view, General Fagel, with a strong body of troops, was secretly passed over the river. But Villars, having heard of the design, attacked the Allied posts at Ivry with such vigour, that Marlborough was obliged to counter-march in haste, to be at hand to support them. Baffled in this attempt, Marlborough erected a chain of works on the right bank of the Scheldt, from Houdain, through Ivry, to the Sette, near Haspres, while Cadogan strengthened himself with similar works on the left. Villars, however, still retained the fortified position which has been mentioned, and which kept up his communication with the town; and the intercepting this was another, and the last, of Marlborough's brilliant field operations.[41]


Notwithstanding all the diligence with which Villars laboured to strengthen his men on this important position, he could not equal the activity with which the English general strove to supplant them. During the night of the 13th, three redoubts were marked out, which would have completed the French marshal's communication with the town. But on the morning of the 14th they were all stormed by a large body of the Allied troops before the works could be armed. That very day the Allies carried their zig-zag down to the very edge of a morass which adjoined Bouchain on the south, so as to command a causeway from that town to Cambray, which the French still held, communicating with the besieged town. But, to complete the investment, it was necessary to win this causeway; and this last object was gained by Marlborough with equal daring and success. A battery, commanding the road, had been placed by Villars in a redoubt garrisoned by six hundred men, supported by three thousand more close in their rear. Marlborough, with incredible labour and diligence, constructed two roads, made of fascines, through part of the marsh, so as to render it passable to foot-soldiers; and, on the night of the 16th, six hundred chosen grenadiers were sent across them to attack the intrenched battery. They rapidly advanced in the dark till the fascine path ended, and then boldly plunging into the marsh, struggled on, with the water often up to their arm-pits, till they reached the foot of the intrenchment, into which they rushed, without firing a shot, with fixed bayonets. So complete was the surprise, that the enemy were driven from their guns with the loss only of six men; the work carried; and with such diligence were its defences strengthened, that before morning it was in a condition to bid defiance to any attack.[42]

Villars was now effectually cut off from Bouchain, and the operations of the siege were conducted with the utmost vigour. On the night of the 21st, the trenches were opened; three separate attacks were pushed at the same time against the eastern, western, and southern faces of the town, and a huge train of heavy guns and mortars thundered upon the works without intermission. The progress of the siege, notwithstanding a vigorous defence by the besieged, was unusually rapid. As fast as the outworks were breached they were stormed; and repeated attempts on the part of Villars to raise the siege were baffled by the skilful disposition and strong ground taken by Marlborough with the covering army. At length, on the 12th September, as the counterscarp was blown down, the rampart breached, and an assault of the fortress in preparation, the governor agreed to capitulate; and the garrison, still three thousand strong, marched out upon the glacis, laid down their arms, and were conducted prisoners to Tournay.[43] The two armies then remained in their respective positions, the French under the cannon of Cambray, the Allied in the middle of their lines, resting on Bouchain; and Marlborough gave proof of the courtesy of his disposition, as well as his respect for exalted learning and piety, by planting a detachment of his troops to protect the estates of Fenelon, archbishop of Cambray, and conduct the grain from thence to the dwelling of the illustrious prelate in that town, which began now to be straitened for provisions.[44]



The Life of the Amir Dost Mohammed Khan of Kabul. By Mohan Lal, Esq., Knight of the Persian order of the Lion and Sun, lately attached to the Mission at Kabul, &c. &c. London: 1846.

We have arrived at an age when striking contrasts and seeming incongruities cease to startle and offend. If we have not yet attained the promised era when the lion shall lie down with the lamb—and even of that day a Van Amburgh and a Carter have given us significant intimations—we have certainly reached an epoch quite as extraordinary, and behold things as opposite conciliated, as hostile reconciled. We need not go far for illustrations: in the columns of newspapers, in the public market-place, at each street-corner, they force themselves upon us. The East and the West are brought together—the desert and the drawing-room are but a pace apart—European refinements intrude themselves into the haunts of barbarism—and bigoted Oriental potentates learn tolerance from the liberality of the Giaour. An article upon contrasts would fill a magazine. Ibrahim Pasha and religious liberty, the Red Sea and the Peninsular Steam Company, the Great Desert and the Narrow Gauge, are but one or two of a thousand that suggest themselves. On all sides Europe thrusts out the giant arms of innovation, spanning the globe, encompassing the world. England, especially, ever foremost in the race, by enterprise and ingenuity achieves seeming miracles. With steam for her active and potent agent, she drives highways across the wilderness, covers remote seas with smoky shipping, replaces dromedaries by locomotives, runs rails through the Arab village and the lion's lair. From his carpet and coffee, his pipe and farniente, the astonished Mussulman is roused by the rush and rattle of the train. On the sudden, by no gradual transition or slow approach, is this semi-savage brought in contact with the latest refinements and most astounding discoveries of civilisation. He is bewildered by sights and sounds of which yesterday he had not the remotest conception. Couriers traverse the desert with the regularity of a London and Edinburgh mail; caravans of well-dressed ladies and gentlemen ramble leisurely over the sands, and brave the simoon on a trip of pleasure to the far East; omnibuses, after the fashion of Paddington, have their stations on the Isthmus of Suez. Every where the hat is in juxtaposition with the turban, and the boot of the active Christian galls the slippered heel of Mahomet's indolent follower, spurring him to progress and improvement.

As strange as any of the incongruous associations already hinted at, is one that we are about to notice. That an Oriental should write a book, is in no way wonderful; that he should write it in English, more or less correct, may also be conceived, since abundant opportunities are afforded to our Eastern fellow-subjects for the acquirement of that language; but that he should write it, not out of the fulness of his knowledge, or to convey the results of long study and profound meditation, but merely, as the razors were made, to sell, does seem strangely out of character, sadly derogatory to the gravity and dignity of a Wise Man of the East. We have really much difficulty in portraying upon our mental speculum so anomalous an animal as an Oriental bookmaker. We cannot fancy a Knight of the very Persian order of the Lion and Sun transformed into a publisher's hack, driving bargains with printers, delivered over to devils, straining each nerve, resorting to every stale device to swell his volumes to a presentable size, as if bulk would atone for dulness, and wordiness for lack of interest. Such, nevertheless, is the painful picture now forced upon us by a Kashmirian gentleman of Delhi, Mohan Lal by name. Encouraged by the indulgent reception accorded to an earlier, less pretending, and more [540]worthy literary attempt—allured also, perhaps, by visions of a shining river of rupees pleasantly flowing into his purse, the aforesaid Lal, Esquire—so does his title-page style him—has committed himself by the fabrication of two heavy volumes, whose interesting portions are, for the most part stale, and whose novelties are of little interest. Neither the fulsome dedication, nor the humility of the preface, nor the indifferent lithographs, purporting to represent notable Asiatics and Europeans, can be admitted in palliation of this Kashmirian scribbler's literary misdemeanour. It is impossible to feel touched or mollified even by the plaintive tone in which he informs us that he has disbursed three hundred pounds for payment of copyists, paper, and portraits. The latter, by the bye, will hardly afford much gratification to their originals, at least if they be all as imperfect and unflattering in their resemblance as some two or three which we have had opportunities of comparing. But that is a minor matter. Illustration is a mania of the day—a crotchet of a public whose reading appetite, it is to be feared, is in no very healthy state. From penny tracts to quarto volumes, every thing must have pictures—the more the better—bad ones rather than none. Turning from the graphic embellishments of the books before us, we revert to the letterpress, and to the endeavour to sift something of interest or value out of the nine hundred pages through which, in conscientious fulfilment of our critical duties, we have wearisomely toiled.

The work in question purports to be a life of Dost Mohammed Khan, the well-known Amir of Kabul. It is what it professes to be, but it is also a great deal more; the whole has been named from a part. A history of the affairs of Sindh occupies nearly half a volume, and consists chiefly of copious extracts from works already published—such as Pottinger's Bilochistan, Dr Burnes' Visit to the Court of Sindh, Sir A. Burnes' Travels in Bokhara, Thornton's British India—from which sources the unscrupulous Lal helps himself unsparingly, and with scarce a word of apology either to reader or writer. We have long accounts of Russian intrigues, and of those alarming plots and combinations which frightened Lords Auckland and Palmerston from their propriety, and led to our interference and reverses in Afghanistan—interference so impotently followed up, reverses which neither have been nor ever can be fully redeemed. The mismanagement or incapacity of our political agents during the short time that we maintained the unfortunate Shah Shuja on the throne of Kabul, is another fertile topic for the verbose Kashmirian; but this, it must be observed, is one of the best portions of his book, although it has no very direct reference to Dost Mohammed, "the lion of my subject and hero of my tale," as his historian styles him. Numerous copies of despatches, treaties and diplomatic correspondence, sundry testimonies of Mr. Lal's abilities and services, and various extraneous matters, complete the volumes. To give the barest outline of so voluminous a work would lead us far beyond our allotted limits. We should even be puzzled to effect the analysis of the first half volume, which sketches the history of Afghanistan from the period when Payandah Khan, chief of the powerful Barakzai tribe and father of Dost Mohammed, was the prime favourite and triumphant general of Taimur Shah, up to the date when the Dost himself, after a long series of bloody wars, sat upon the throne, was in the zenith of his prosperity, and when British diplomatists first began to make and meddle in the affairs of his kingdom. The perpetually recurring changes, the revolts, revolutions, and usurpations of which Afghanistan was the scene with little intermission during the whole of that period, the absence of dates, which Mohan Lal accounts for by the loss of his manuscripts during the Kabul insurrection, and the host of proper names introduced, render this part of the work most perplexingly confused. The reader, however attentive to his task, becomes fairly bewildered amidst the multitude of Khans, Shahs, Vazirs, Sardars, and other personages, who pass in hurried review before his eyes, and utterly puzzled by the strange manœuvres and seemingly unaccountable treasons of the actors in this great Eastern[541] melodrama. In glancing at the book, we shall confine ourselves more strictly than Mohan Lal has done, to the personal exploits and history of Dost Mohammed.

On the death of Taimur Shah, leaving several sons, there was much difference of opinion amongst the nobles as to who should succeed him. Payandah Khan, who had received from the sovereign he had so faithfully served, the title of Sarfraz, or, the Lofty, and whose position and influence in the country enabled him in some sort to play the part of king-maker, solved the difficulty by placing Prince Zaman upon the throne. For a time Zaman was all gratitude, until evil advisers poisoned his mind, and accused Payandah and other chiefs of plotting to transfer the crown to Shah Shuja, another son of Taimur. Without trial or investigation, the persons accused were put to death; and the sons and nephews of Payandah became fugitives, and suffered great misery. Some were taken prisoners, others begged their bread, or took shelter in the mausoleum of Ahmad Shah, in order to receive a share of the food there doled out for charity's sake. Fatah Khan, the eldest son of Payandah, fled to Persia; Dost Mohammed, the twentieth son of the same father, found protection in a fortress belonging to the husband of his mother, who, in conformity with an Afghan custom, had been claimed by and compelled to marry one of the nearest relatives of her deceased lord. This occurred when Dost was a child of seven or eight years old. After a while, Fatah Khan returned from Persia with an army, and accompanied by Mahmud Shah, another of Taimur's sons who pretended to the crown of Afghanistan. His first encounter with the troops of Shah Zaman was a triumph; and now, says the figurative Lal, the stars of the descendants of the Sarfraz began to shine. Fatah sought out his young brother, Dost Mohammed, gave him in charge to a trusty adherent, fixed an income for his support, and marched away to besiege Qandhar, which he took by escalade. This was the commencement of a war of succession, or rather of a series of wars, in which the two sons of Payandah played important parts. The elder met his death, the younger gained a crown. At first the contest was amongst the sons and grandsons of Taimur; to several of whom in turn Fatah and Dost gave their powerful support. It was not till after many years of civil strife that the last-named chief, prompted by ambition, and presuming on his popularity and high military reputation, set up on his own account, and bore away the prize from the more legitimate competitors.

When only in his twelfth year, Dost Mohammed Khan was attached to the retinue of his brother as abdar, or water-bearer. He soon acquired Fatah's confidence, and was admitted to share his secrets. Before he was fourteen years old, he displayed great energy and intrepidity, which qualities, added to his remarkable personal beauty, rendered him exceedingly popular in the country and a vast favourite with Fatah, but excited the jealousy of his other brothers—men of little more than ordinary capacity, totally unable to compete with him in any respect. Whilst still a mere lad, Dost, by his courage and sagacity, delivered Fatah from more than one imminent peril. At last Shah Zaman, who had been deposed and blinded, and his son Shah Zadah, laid a snare for Fatah in the palace-gardens at Qandhar. Ambushed men suddenly seized him, hurled him to the ground with such violence as to break his teeth, and kept him prisoner. Dost Mohammed made a dashing attempt at a rescue; but he had only five hundred followers, the palace was strongly garrisoned, and a heavy fire of matchlocks repelled him. Meanwhile large bodies of troops marched to occupy the city gates; and, for his own safety's sake, he was compelled to leave his brother in captivity, and cut his way out. Retreating to his stronghold of Giriskh, he awaited the passage of a rich caravan from Persia. This he plundered, thereby becoming possessed of about four lakhs of rupees, which he employed in raising troops. With these he invested Qandhar. After a three months' siege, the garrison had exhausted its provisions and ammunition; and Zadah, to get rid of the terrible Dost, released Fatah Khan. The prisoner's liberation was also partly[542] owing to the intercession of Shah Shuja; notwithstanding which, Fatah and Dost, with an utter contempt of gratitude and loyalty, soon afterwards turned their arms against that prince. A great cavalry fight took place, in which the brave but unprincipled brothers were victorious. Dost Mohammed was made a field-marshal, and marched against an army commanded by Shah Shuja in person; a desperate battle ensued, terminated by negotiation, and once more Dost and the Shah were allies. But no sooner had poor Shuja gained over his enemies, than his friends revolted against him, and set up his nephew Zadah as king of Afghanistan; and very soon his new allies, with unparalleled treachery, and despite of the titles and presents he had showered upon them, once more abandoned him. Friend Lal, we are sorry to perceive, seems struck rather with admiration than horror of these double-dyed traitors, and talks of the brave heart and wise head of Dost Mohammed, and of the noble and independent notions which nature had cultivated in him; thus betraying a certain Oriental laxity of principle which European education and society might have been expected to eradicate. But he is perhaps dazzled and blinded by the brilliant military prowess of Dost, who, at the head of only three thousand men, fell upon the advanced-guard of the Shah's army, ten thousand strong, and, after a terrible slaughter, completely routed it. The news of this reverse greatly incensed and alarmed Shuja, who said confidentially to his minister, that whilst Dost Mohammed was alive and at large, he (Shuja) could never expect victory or the enjoyment of his crown. A wonderful and true prophecy, observes Mohan Lal. Shortly afterwards, the remainder of the Shah's troops were defeated by Dost, and the Shah himself was once more a fugitive.

Shah Mahmud was now placed upon the throne; Vazir Fatah Khan was his prime minister, and Dost received the title of Sardar, or chief. It was about this time that the "Sardar of my tale," as the worthy Lal affectionately styles his hero, committed the first of a series of murders which, were there no other infamous deeds recorded of him, would stamp him as vile, and destroy any sympathy that his bravery in the field and notable talents might otherwise excite in his favour. A Persian secretary, one Mirza Ali Khan, by his skill and conduct as a politician, and by his kindly disposition, gained a popularity and influence which offended the ambitious brothers, and Fatah desired Dost to make away with him.

"On receiving the orders of the Vazir, Dost Mohammed armed himself cap-a-pie, and taking six men with him, went and remained waiting on the road between the house of Mohammed Azim Khan and the Mirza. It was about midnight when the Mirza passed by Dost Mohammed Khan, whom he saw, and said, 'What has brought your highness here at this late hour? I hope all is good.' He also added, that Dost Mohammed should freely command his services if he could be of any use to him. He replied to the Mirza that he had got a secret communication for him, and would tell him if he moved aside from the servants. He stopped his horse, whereupon Dost Mohammed, holding the mane of the horse with his left hand, and taking his dagger in his right, asked the Mirza to bend his head to hear him. While Dost Mohammed pretended to tell him something of his own invention, and found that the Mirza was hearing him without any suspicion, he stabbed him between the shoulders, and throwing him off his horse, cut him in many places. This was the commencement of the murders which Dost Mohammed Khan afterwards frequently committed."

Notwithstanding his high military rank and great services, Dost was very submissive to Fatah, who was greatly his senior. He acted as his cup-bearer, and was a constant attendant at his nocturnal carouses, carrying a golden goblet, and helping him to wine. The morals of both brothers were as exceptionable in private as in public life. Their biographer gives details of an intrigue between Dost and the favourite wife of Fatah; and even hints a doubt whether the Vazir was not cognizant of the intercourse, which he took no steps to check or punish. Both brothers were fond of wine, and in[543]dulged in it to excess. Dost, especially, was at one time a most unmitigated sot, although his bibulous propensities had apparently no permanent effect upon his intellects and energies. His capacity for liquor, if Lal's account be authentic, was extraordinary. "It is said that he has emptied several dozens of bottles in one night, and did not cease from drinking until he was quite intoxicated, and could not drink a drop more. He has often become senseless from drinking, and has, on that account, kept himself confined in bed during many days. He has been often seen in a state of stupidity on horseback, and having no turban, but a skull-cap, on his head." At a later period of his life, Dost Mohammed, being abroad one evening, met two of his sons, Afzal Khan, and the well-known Akhbar Khan, in an intoxicated state. Less tolerant for his children than for himself, he gave them a sound thrashing, and, not satisfied with that, took them up to the roof of a house, and threw them down on stony ground, to the risk of their lives. The mother of Akhbar heard of this, and reproached her husband with punishing others for a vice he himself was prone to. Dost hung his head, and swore to drink wine no more. We are not told whether he kept the vow, but subsequently, when he was made Amirul-Momnim, or Commander of the Faithful, he did forsake his drunken habits. On his reinstatement at Kabul, after its final abandonment by the British, he relapsed into his old courses, saying, that whilst he was an enemy to wine, he was always unlucky; but that since he had resumed drinking, his prosperity had returned, and he had gained his liberty after being in "Qaid i Frang," which, being interpreted, means an English prison. When sitting over his bottle, he can sing a good song, and play upon the rabab, a sort of Afghan fiddle, with very considerable skill. Altogether, and setting aside his throat-cuttings, and a few other peculiarities, Dost Mohammed must be considered as rather a jovial and good-humoured barbarian.

Although a fervent admirer of the fair sex, the valiant Sardar occasionally, in the hurry and excitement of war and victory, forgot the respect to which it is entitled. A blunder of this description was productive of fatal consequences to his brother the Vazir. A breach of decorum overthrew a dynasty: a lady's girdle changed the destinies of a kingdom. The circumstances were as follows:—By a well-executed stratagem, Dost Mohammed surprised the city of Hirat, seized Shah Zadah Firoz, who ruled there, and plundered the palace. Not content with appropriating the rich store of jewels, gold, and silver, found in the treasury, he despoiled the inmates of the harem, and committed an offence unpardonable in Eastern eyes, by taking off the jewelled band which fastened the trowsers of the daughter-in-law of Shah Zadah. The insulted fair one sent her profaned inexpressibles to her brother, a son of Mahmud Shah, known by the euphonious appellation of Kam Ran. Kam swore to be revenged. Even Fatah Khan was so shocked at the unparalleled impropriety of his brother's conduct, that he threatened to punish him; whereupon Dost, with habitual prudence, avoided the coming storm, and took refuge with another of his brothers, then governor of Kashmir. Kam Ran came to Hirat, found that Dost had given him the slip, and consoled himself by planning, in conjunction with some other chiefs, the destruction of Fatah Khan. They seized him, put out his eyes, and brought him pinioned before Mahmud Shah, whom he himself had set upon the throne. The Shah desired him to write to his rebellious brothers to submit: he steadily refused, and Mahmud then ordered his death. "The Vazir was cruelly and deliberately butchered by the courtiers, who cut him limb from limb, and joint from joint, as was reported, after his nose, ears, fingers, and lips, had been chopped off. His fortitude was so extraordinary, that he neither showed a sign of the pain he suffered, nor asked the perpetrators to diminish their cruelties; and his head was at last sliced from his lacerated body. Such was the shocking result of the misconduct of his brother, the Sardar Dost Mohammed Khan, towards the[544] royal female in Hirat. However, the end of the Vazir, Fatah Khan, was the end of the Sadozai reign, and an omen for the accession of the new dynasty of the Barakzais, or his brothers, in Afghanistan."

It would be tiresome to trace in detail the events that followed the Vazir's death,—the numerous battles—the treaties concluded and violated—the reverses and triumphs of the various chiefs who contended for the supremacy. To revenge their brother, and gratify their own ambition, the Barakzais united together, expelled Mahmud, and divided the country amongst themselves. Mohammed Azim, the eldest brother, took Kabul, Sultan Mohammed had Peshavar, Purdil Khan received Qandhar, and to the Sardar Dost Mohammed Ghazni was allotted. Apparently all were content with this arrangement; but, in secret, Dost was far from satisfied, and plotted to improve his share. With this view, he entered into negotiations with Ranjit Singh and the Lahore chiefs; and at last, by intrigue and treachery, rather than by force of arms, he reduced Mohammed Azim to such extremities and despair, that he retired to Kabul, and there died broken-hearted. His son, Habib-Ullah, who succeeded him, fared no better. He was turned out of Kabul, and exposed to want and misery, which broke his spirit, and rendered him insane. He left the country with his wives and children, whom he murdered on the banks of the Indus, and threw into the river.

Whilst Dost was in full career of success and aggrandisement, achieved by the most treacherous and sanguinary means, Shah Shuja raised an army in Sindh, intending to invade Qandhar and recover his dominions. A report was spread by certain discontented chiefs in Dost Mohammed's and the Qandhar camps that the English favoured Shuja's attempt. To ascertain the truth of this, Dost Mohammed addressed a letter to Sir Claude Wade, then political agent at Loodianah, requesting to know whether the Shah was supported by the English. If so, he said, he would take the state of affairs into his deliberate consideration; but if the contrary was the case, he was ready to fight the Shah. Sir Claude Wade replied, that the British government took no share in the king's expedition against the Barakzai chief, but that it wished him well. Thereupon Dost and his son Akhbar Khan marched to meet the Shah. A battle was fought in front of Qandhar, and at first victory seemed to incline to Shuja; but by the exertions and valour of the Sardar and his son, the tide was turned, and the threatened defeat converted into a signal victory. "All the tents, guns, and camp equipage of the ever-fugitive Shah Shuja fell into the hands of the Lion of Afghanistan, and a large bundle of the papers and correspondence of various chiefs in his country with the Shah. Among these he found many letters under the real or forged seal of Sir Claude Wade, to the address of certain chiefs, stating that any assistance given to Shah Shuja should be appreciated by the British government."

Whilst Mohammed thus successfully assisted his brothers, the Qandhar chiefs, against their common foe, Shah Shuja, his other brothers, the Peshavar chiefs, were dispossessed by the Sikhs, and compelled to take refuge at Jellalabad. There, expecting that Dost would be beaten by the Shah, they planned to seize upon Kabul. Their measures were taken, and in some districts they had actually appointed governors, when they learned Shuja's defeat, and their brother's triumphant return. This was the destruction of their ambitious projects; but with true Afghan craft and hypocrisy, they put a good face upon the matter, fired salutes in honour of the victory, disavowed the proceedings of those officers who, by their express order, had taken possession of the Sardar's villages, and went out to meet him with every appearance of cordiality and joy. Although not the dupe of this seeming friendship, Dost Mohammed received them well, and declared his intention of undertaking a religious war against the Sikhs to revenge their aggressions at Peshavar, and to punish them for having dared, as infidels, to make an inroad into a Mahomedan land. In acting thus, the cunning Sardar had two objects in view. One was to obtain recruits by appealing to the fanaticism[545] of the people, for his funds were low, and the Afghans were weary of war; the other, which he at once attained, was to get himself made king, on the ground that religious wars, fought under the name and flag of any other than a crowned head, do not entitle those who fall in them to the glory of martyrdom. The priests, chiefs, and counsellors, consulted together, and agreed that Dost Mohammed ought to assume the royal title. The Sardar, without any preparation or feast, went out of the Bala Hisar with some of his courtiers; and in Idgah, Mir Vaiz, the head-priest of Kabul, put a few blades of grass on his head, and called him "Amirul-Momnin," or, "Commander of the Faithful." Thus did the wily and unscrupulous Dost at last possess the crown he so long had coveted. Instead, however, of being inflated by his dignity, the new Amir became still plainer in dress and habits, and more easy of access than before. Finding himself in want of money for his projected war, and unable to obtain it by fair means, he now commenced a system of extortion, which he carried to frightful lengths, pillaging bankers and merchants, confiscating property, and torturing those who refused to acquiesce in his unreasonable demands. One poor wretch, a trader of the name of Sabz Ali, was thrown into prison, branded and tormented in various ways, until he expired in agony. His relatives were compelled to pay the thirty thousand rupees which it had been the object of this barbarous treatment to extort. At last five lakhs of rupees were raised, wherewith to commence the religious war. Its result was disastrous and discreditable to the Amir. Without having fought a single battle, he was outwitted and outmanœuvred, and returned crestfallen to Kabul—his brothers, the Peshavar chiefs, who were jealous of his recent elevation, having aided in his discomfiture.

Although the Amir had many enemies both at home and abroad—the most inveterate amongst the former being some of his own brothers—and although he was often threatened by great dangers, he gradually succeeded in consolidating his power, and fixing himself firmly upon the throne he had usurped. Himself faithless and treacherous, he distrusted all men; and gradually removing the governors of various districts, he replaced them by his sons, who feared him, scrupulously obeyed his orders, and followed his system of government. In time his power became so well established that the intrigues of his dissatisfied brethren no longer alarmed him. The Sikhs gave him some uneasiness, but in a battle at Jam Road, near the entrance of the Khaibar Pass, his two sons, Afzal and Akhbar, defeated them and killed their general, Hari Singh. The victory was chiefly due to Afzal, but Akhbar got the credit, through the management of his mother, the Amir's favourite wife. This unjust partiality, to which we shall again have occasion to refer when touching upon the future prospects of Afghanistan, greatly disheartened Afzal and his brothers, and indisposed them towards their father.

The brief and imperfect outline which we have been enabled to give of the career of Dost Mohammed, and of his arrival at the supreme power in Kabul, is entirely deficient in dates. The Afghans have no records, but preserve their history solely by tradition and memory. Mohan Lal having, as before mentioned, lost his manuscripts, containing information supplied by the Amir's relations and courtiers, was afterwards unable to place the circumstances of his history in chronological order. The deficiency is not very important, since it naturally ceases to exist from the time that British India became mixed up in the affairs of Afghanistan. The fight of Jam Road, in which the Afghans were the aggressors, and which was occasioned by the Amir's cravings after the province of Peshavar, brings us up to the latter part of the year 1836. Previously and subsequently to that battle, Dost Mohammed wrote several letters to the Governor-general of India, Lord Auckland, expressing his fear of the Sikhs, and asking advice and countenance. Lord Auckland resolved to accord him both, and dispatched Sir Alexander Burnes to Kabul to negotiate the opening of the Indus navigation. The presence of the British mission at the[546] Amir's court, and the proposals made by the Governor-general to the Maharajah to mediate between him and Dost Mohammed, sufficed to check the advance of a powerful Sikh army which Ranjit Singh had assembled to revenge the reverse of Jam Road. The Amir was not satisfied with this protection; but urged Sir Alexander Burnes to make the Sikhs give up Peshavar to him. The reply was, that Peshavar had never belonged to the Amir, but to his brothers; that Ranjit Singh was a faithful ally of the English government, which could not use its authority directly in the case; but that endeavours should be made to induce the Maharajah amicably to yield Peshavar to its former chief, Sultan Mohammed Khan. This mode of viewing the question by no means met the wishes of the ambitious Amir; for he coveted the territory for himself, and would rather have seen it remain in the hands of the Sikhs than restored to Sultan Mohammed, who was his deadly enemy.[45] He expressed his dissatisfaction in very plain terms to Sir Alexander Burnes; and perceiving that the English were not disposed to aid him in his unjustifiable projects of aggrandisement, he threw himself into the arms of Russia and Persia, to which countries he had, with characteristic duplicity, communicated his grievances and made offers of alliance, at the same time that he professed, in his letters to Lord Auckland, to rely entirely upon British counsels and friendship.

And now commenced those intrigues and machinations of Russia, of which so great a bugbear was made both in India and England. Mohan Lal maintains that the apprehensions occasioned by these manœuvres were legitimate and well-founded; that the views of Russia were encroaching and dangerous; and that her name and influence were already seriously injurious to British interests, as far even as the eastern bank of the Indus. Vague rumours of Russian power and valour had spread through British India; had been exaggerated by Eastern hyperbole, and during their passage through many mouths; and had rendered numerous chiefs, Rajput as well as Mahomedan, restless and eager for a fray. Throughout the country there was a growing belief that English power was on the eve of a reverse. We are told of the mission of Captain Vikovich, of Muscovite ducats poured into Afghan pockets, of an extension of influence sought by Russia in Turkistan and Kabul, of arms to be supplied by Persia, and of a Persian army to be marched into Afghanistan to seize upon the disputed province of Peshavar. As the companion and friend of Sir Alexander Burnes during his mission to Kabul, Mohan Lal coincides in the opinions of that officer with respect to the necessity of taking vigorous and immediate steps to counteract the united intrigues of the Shah of Persia and Count Simonich, the Russian ambassador at Tehran. This necessity was pressed upon Lord Auckland in numerous and alarming despatches from Sir A. Burnes and other Anglo-Indian diplomatists.


With such opinions and prognostications daily ringing in his ears, Lord Auckland, who at first, we are told, did not attach much importance to the Vikovich mission and the Russian intrigues, at last took fright, and prepared to adopt the decisive measures so plausibly and perseveringly urged by the alarmists. The well-known and notable plan to be resorted to, was the expulsion of the Amir Dost Mohammed and of the other Barakzai chiefs inimical to the British, and the establishment of a friendly prince upon the throne of Kabul. Who was to be chosen? Two candidates alone appeared eligible—Sultan Mohammed Khan, chief of Peshavar, brother and bitter foe of the Amir, and Shah Shuja, the deposed but legitimate sovereign of Afghanistan. The Shah, who had long lived inactive and retired at Loodianah, was believed, not without reason, to have lost any ability or talent for reigning which he had ever possessed; nevertheless, his name and hereditary right caused him to be preferred by Lord Auckland, whose advisers also were unanimous in their recommendation of Shuja. "As for Shah Shuja," wrote Sir Alexander Burnes, who had now left Kabul, in his letter to the Governor-general, dated 3d June 1838, "the British government have only to send him to Peshavar with an agent, one or two of its own regiments as an honorary escort, and an avowal to the Afghans that we have taken up his cause, to ensure his being fixed for ever on his throne."

"The British government," said one of those on whose information that government acted, (Mr Masson,) "could employ interference without offending half-a-dozen individuals. Shah Shuja, under their auspices, would not even encounter opposition," &c.—(Thornton's British India, vol. vi. p. 150.)

"Annoyed at Dost Mohammed's reception of Vikovich, the Russian emissary, and disquieted by the departure of the British agent, they (the Afghans)" says Lieutenant Wood, "looked to the Amir as the sole cause of their troubles, and thought of Shah Shuja and redress."

Sir C. Wade, Mr Lord, and other authorities supposed to be well versed in the politics of the land where mischief was imagined to be brewing, expressed opinions similar in substance to those just cited. It was decided that Shuja was the man; and Sir William M'Naghten started for the court of Lahore to negotiate a tripartite treaty between the Maharajah, the Shah, and the British government. Wade and Burnes were to co-operate with the envoy. The treaty was concluded and signed, advices from Lord Palmerston strengthened and confirmed Lord Auckland in his predilection for "vigorous measures," and a declaration of war was proclaimed and circulated throughout India and Afghanistan.

Lord Auckland is, we dare to say, a very well-meaning man—albeit not exactly of the stuff of which viceroys of vast empires ought to be made; and we willingly believe that he acted to the best of his judgment in undertaking the Afghan war. Unfortunately, that is not saying much. His lordship's advisers may have been right in supposing that the people of Kabul were weary of the Amir's extortionate and tyrannical rule, and desired the milder government of Shah Shuja; but if so, it is the more to be regretted that, when we had established Shuja on the throne, the mismanagement and want of unity of British agents—amongst whom were some of those very advisers—should so rapidly have changed the partiality of the Afghans for the Shah into contempt, their friendly dispositions towards the British into aversion and fierce hatred. Mohan Lal strenuously insists upon the blamelessness of Lord Auckland in the whole of the unfortunate affairs of Afghanistan; lauds his judicious measures, and maintains that had they not been adopted, "disasters and outbreaks would soon have appeared in the very heart of India. The object of the governor-general was to annihilate the Russian and Persian influence and intrigues in Afghanistan, both at that time, and for all time to come, unless they adopt open measures; and this object he fortunately and completely attained, in a manner worthy of the British name, and laudable to himself as a statesman." We could say a word or two on this head, but refrain, not wishing to rake up old grievances, or discuss so uninteresting a subject as Lord Auckland's merits and abilities. Mr Lal admits that his lordship made two enormous blunders: one "in appointing two such talented men as Sir William M'Naghten and Sir Alexander Burnes, to act at the same time, in one field of honour; the second was,[548] that on hearing of the outbreak at Kabul, he delayed in insisting upon the commander-in-chief to order an immediate despatch of the troops towards Peshavar." "He being the superior head of the government," continues this long-winded Kashmirian, "he ought not to allow hesitation to approach and to embarrass his sound judgement, at the crisis when immediate and energetic attention was required." De mortuis nil, &c.; and therefore, of the two unfortunate gentlemen above referred to, we will merely say, that many have considered their talents far less remarkable than their blunders. As to the Earl of Auckland—"Save me from my friends!" his lordship might well exclaim. Indecision and lack of discrimination compose a nice character for a governor-general. One great criterion of ability to rule is a judicious choice of subordinate agents. Lord Auckland's reason for not sending the reinforcements so terribly required by our troops in Kabul, is thus curiously rendered by his Eastern advocate:—"His lordship had already made every arrangement to retire from the Indian government, and therefore did not wish to prolong the time for his departure by embarking in other and new operations." Truly a most ingenious defence! So, because the governor-general was in haste to be off, an army must be consigned to destruction. Most sapient Lal! his lordship is obliged to you. "Call you that backing your friends?" May our worst enemy have you for his apologist.

We return to Dost Mohammed and his fortunes. Shah Shuja was publicly installed upon the throne; numerous chiefs tendered him their allegiance; Kalat, Qandhar, and Ghazni fell into the hands of his British allies, before the Amir himself gave sign of life. This he did by sending his brother, Navab Jabbar Khan, who was considered a stanch friend of Europeans, and especially of the English, to treat with Sir William M'Naghten. The Navab stated that the Amir was desirous to surrender, on condition that he should be made Vazir or Prime Minister of the Shah, to which post he had an hereditary claim. The condition was refused; as was also the Navab's request that his niece, the wife of Haidar Khan, the captured governor of Ghazni, should be given up to him. Altogether, the poor Navab was treated in no very friendly manner; and he returned to Kabul with his affection for the English considerably weakened. As he had long been suspected of intriguing against the Amir, he took this opportunity to wipe off the imputation, by encouraging the people to rise and oppose his brother's enemies. "The Amir called an assembly in the garden which surrounds the tomb of Taimur Shah, and made a speech, petitioning his subjects to support him in maintaining his power, and in driving off the infidels from the Mahomedan country. Many people who were present stated to me that his words were most touching and moving, but they gained no friends." He also invented various stories to frighten the lower orders into resistance, saying that during their march from Sindh to Ghazni, the English had ill-treated the women, and boiled and eaten the young children. Arguments and lies—all were in vain. The Kohistanis, his own subjects, who had been induced to rise against him, descended from their valley, and threatened to attack the Kabulis, if they allowed the Amir to remain amongst them. The army of the Indus drew near, and at last Dost Mohammed abandoned the city, and fled to Bamian, leaving his artillery and heavy baggage at Maidan. There it was taken possession of by the British, and given up to Shah Shuja; and on the 7th of August 1839, that prince, after an exile of thirty years, re-entered the capital of his kingdom.

Hard upon the track of the fugitive Amir, followed Colonel Outram, with several other officers, and some Afghans under Haji Khan Kaker, in all about eight hundred foot and horse. Dost Mohammed had with him a handful of followers, including the Navab Jabbar Khan and Akhbar Khan, the latter of whom was sick and travelled in a litter. On the 21st August, Colonel Outram was informed that he was within a day's march of the object of his pursuit, whose escape, on that occasion, he attributes to the treachery of Haji Khan. One night the Hazarahs stole[549] twenty of the Amir's horses, which greatly reduced the numbers of his little escort. At last, however, he found himself in safety amongst the Uzbegs, and thence wished to proceed to Persia; but the difficulties of the road, already nearly impassible on account of the snow, decided him to accept the proferred protection of the Amir of Bokhara. By this half-mad monarch he was very queerly treated; at one time his life was in peril—a treacherous attempt being made to drown him, his sons, and relations, whilst crossing the river Oxus in a boat. At last he was forbidden to leave his house, even to make his prayers at the mosque, and was in fact a prisoner. His two sons, Afzal and Akhbar, shared his captivity.

For the easy conquest of Afghanistan, and for the popularity of the English during the early days of its occupation, a long string of reasons is given by Mohan Lal. By various parts of his conduct, especially by his injustice and extortions, the Amir had made himself unpopular with the Afghans, who, on the other hand, remembered the liberality displayed by the Honourable Montstuart Elphinstone in the days of his mission to Kabul, and being by nature exceedingly avaricious, hoped to derive immense profit and advantage from British occupation of their country. The recent intercourse and friendship of the Amir with the Shah of Persia had also excited the indignation of his subjects, who, being Sunnies by sect, were deadly enemies of the Persian Shias. The English, in short, were as popular as the Barakzais were detested. Nevertheless it behoved the Shah Shuja and his European supporters to be circumspect and conciliatory; for Dost Mohammed was still at large, and lingering on the frontier, and any offence given to the Kabulis might be the signal for his recall. "Notwithstanding," says Mohan Lal, "all these points of grave concern, we sent a large portion of the army back, with Lord Keane, to India; and yet we interfered in the administration of the country, and introduced such reforms amongst the obstinate Afghans just on our arrival, as even in India, the quietest part of the world, Lords Clive and Wellesley had hesitated to do but slowly." The administration of the principal frontier towns was now confided to the Shah's officers; but these were not suffered to rule undisturbed, for Sir W. MacNaghten's political assistants every where watched their conduct and interfered in their jurisdictions. The occult nature of this interference prevented benefit to the people, whilst it caused a disregard for the local authorities. An undecided course was the bane of our Afghanistan policy. The government was neither entirely taken into the hands of the British, nor wholly left in those of the Shah. Outwardly, we were neutral; in reality, we constantly interfered: thus annoying the king and disappointing the people. Shah Shuja grew jealous of British influence, and began to suspect that he was but the shadow of a sovereign, a puppet whose strings were pulled for foreign advantage. Sir A. Burnes introduced reductions in the duties on all articles of commerce. Trade improved, but the Shah's servants frequently deviated from the new tariff, and extorted more than the legal imposts. When complaints were made to the English, they were referred to the Shah's Vazir, Mulla Shakur, who, instead of giving redress, beat and imprisoned the aggrieved parties for having appealed against the king's authority. Persons known to be favoured by the English were vexed and annoyed by the Shah's government; and it soon became evident that Mulla Shakur was striving to form a party for Shuja, in order to make him independent of British support. The people began to look upon the Shah as the unwilling slave of the Europeans; the priests omitted the "Khutbah," or prayer for the king, saying that it could only be recited for an independent sovereign. Soon the high price of provisions gave rise to grave dissensions. The purchases of grain made by the English commissariat raised the market, and placed that description of food out of reach of the poorer classes. Forage, meat, and vegetables, all rose in proportion, and a cry of famine was set up. Both in town and country, the landlords and dealers kept back the produce, or[550] sent the whole of it to the English camp. A proclamation made by Mulla Shakur, forbidding the hoarding of provisions, or their sale above a fixed price, was disregarded. The poor assembled in throngs before the house of Sir A. Burnes, who was compelled to make gratuitous distributions of bread. At last the Shah's government adopted the course usual in Afghanistan in such emergencies; the store-keepers were seized, and compelled to sell their grain at a moderate price. They complained to the English agents, who unwisely interfered. Mohan Lal was ordered to wait upon Mulla Shakur, and to request him to release the traders. The result of this was a universal cry throughout the kingdom, that the English were killing the people by starvation. What wretched work was this? what miserable mismanagement? and how deluded must those men have been who thought it possible, by pursuing such a course, to conciliate an ignorant and barbarous people, and secure the permanence of Shah Shuja's reign? "After the outbreak of Kabul," says Mohan Lal, whose evidence on these matters must have weight, as that of an eyewitness, and of one who, from his position as servant of the East India Company, would not venture to distort the truth, "when I was concealed in the Persian quarters, I heard both the men and the women saying that the English enriched the grain and the grass-sellers, &c., whilst they reduced the chiefs to poverty and killed the poor by starvation."

It is a well-known English foible to think nothing good unless the price be high. This was strikingly exemplified in Afghanistan, where every thing was done virtually to lower the value of money. The labourers employed by our engineer officers were paid at so high a rate that there was a general strike, and agriculture was brought to a stand-still. The king's gardens were to be put in order, but not a workman was to be had except for English pay. The treasury could not afford to satisfy such exorbitant demands, and the people were made to work, receiving the regular wages of the country. Clamour and complaint were the consequence, and the English authorities informed Mullah Shakur, that if he did not satisfy the grumblers, they would pay them for the Shah, thus constituting him their debtor. Shuja's jealousy increased, and he showed his irritation by various petty attempts at annoyance. Discontent was rife in Afghanistan, even when the general impression amongst the English officers there, was, that the country was quiet and the people satisfied. Colonel Herring was murdered near Ghazni; a chief named Sayad Hassim rebelled, but was subdued, and his fort taken, by Colonel Orchard and the gallant Major Macgregor.

It was at this critical period that news came to Kabul of Dost Mohammed's escape from Bokhara. The Shah of Persia had rebuked the Bokhara ambassador for his master's harsh treatment of the Amir, whereupon the latter was allowed more liberty, of which he took advantage to escape. On the road his horse knocked up, but he luckily fell in with a caravan, and obtained a place in a camel-basket. The caravan was searched by the emissaries of the King of Bokhara, but the Amir had coloured his white beard with ink, and thus avoided detection. He was received with open arms by the Mir of Shahar Sabz and the Vali of Khulam, and held counsel with those two chiefs and some other adherents as to the course he should adopt. It was resolved to make an attempt to recover Kabul, and measures were taken to collect money, men, and horses. The moment appeared favourable for the enterprise; the Afghan chiefs and people were discontented, and there were disturbances in Kohistan. Sir William MacNaghten knew not whom to trust; and a vast number of arrests were made on suspicion, some without the slightest cause, which increased the disaffection and want of confidence. On the 30th of August hostilities commenced with an attack by Afzal Khan on the British post at Bajgah. It was repulsed, and on the 18th of September the Amir and the Vali of Khulam were routed by Colonel Dennie. Dost Mohammed fled to Kohistan, many of whose chief inhabitants rallied round his standard, until he found himself at the head of five[551] thousand men. He might have augmented this number, but for the exertions of Sir A. Burnes and Mohan Lal, who sent agents into the revolted country with money to buy up the inhabitants. This became known amongst the Amir's followers, and rendered him distrustful of them; for he feared they would be unable to withstand the temptations held out, and would betray him, in hopes of a large reward. On the 2d of November occurred a skirmish between the Amir's forces and the troops under General Sale and Shah Zadah, in which the 2d cavalry were routed, and several English officers killed, or severely wounded. Notwithstanding this slight advantage, and a retrograde movement effected the same night by the united British and Afghan division, the Amir felt himself so insecure, fearing even assassination at the hand of the Kohistanis, that, on the evening of the 30th November, he gave himself up to Sir William MacNaghten at Kabul. He was delighted with the kind and generous reception he met, and wrote to Afzal Khan and his other sons to join him. After a few days, the necessary arrangements being completed, he was sent to India.

The Amir a prisoner, the chief apparent obstacle to the tranquillity of Afghanistan was removed, and it was not unreasonable to suppose that Shah Shuja would thenceforward sit undisturbed upon the throne of his ancestors. Unfortunately such anticipations were erroneous. Had Dost Mohammed remained at large, any harm he could have done would have been inferior to that occasioned by the injudicious measures of the British agents. These measures, as Mohan Lal asserts, with, we fear, too much truth, were the very worst that could be devised for the attainment of the ends proposed. The Afghan character was misunderstood, Afghan customs and institutions were interfered with, and Afghan prejudices shocked. Certain things there were, which it would have been good policy to wink at, or appear ignorant of. The contrary course was adopted. On the field of Parvan, where the combat of the 2d November took place, a bag of letters was found, compromising a large number of chiefs and influential Kabulis. The Amir having surrendered, and as it was not intended to punish these persons, the wisest plan would have been to suppress the letters entirely; but this was not done, and the disclosure caused a vast deal of mistrust on the part of the suspected chiefs towards the English. It also gave a stimulus to a practice then very prevalent in Kabul, that of forging letters from persons of note, with a view to compromise the supposed writers, and to procure for the forgers money and English friendship. Much mischief was done by these letters, some of which were fabricated by Afghans enjoying the favour and confidency of Sir A. Burnes and Sir W. MacNaghten.

On the repeated solicitations of the English, the Vazir Mulla Shakur was dismissed. His successor, Nizam-ul-Daulah, was almost forced upon the Shah, whose power was thus rendered contemptible in the eyes of the Afghans. The new minister took his orders rather from the British agents than from his nominal master—going every day to the former to report what he had done, caring nothing for the good or bad opinion of the nation, or for the will of the Shah, whose mandates he openly disobeyed. Having committed an oppressive act, by depriving a Sayad of his land, Shuja repeatedly enjoined him to restore the property to its rightful owner. He paid no attention to these injunctions; and at last the Shah told the suppliant, when he again came to him for redress, "that he had no power over the Vazir, and therefore that the Sayad should curse him, and not trouble the Shah any more, because he was no more a king but a slave." By bribes to the newswriters of the envoy and Sir A. Burnes, Nizam-ul-Daulah endeavoured to keep his misdeeds from the ears of those officers. Nevertheless, they became known to them through Mohan Lal and others; but Sir A. Burnes "felt himself in an awkward position, and considered it impossible to cause the dismissal of one whose nomination he had with great pains so recently recommended."

A reform in the military department, recommended by Sir A. Burnes,[552] caused immense bitterness and ill-blood amongst the chiefs, whose retinues were compulsorily diminished, the men who were to be retained, and those who were to be dismissed, being selected by a British officer. This was looked upon as an outrageous insult and grievous humiliation. The reduction was effected, also, in a harsh and arbitary manner, without consideration for the pride of the chiefs and warriors, by whom all these offences were treasured up, to be one day bloodily revenged. Other innovations speedily followed and increased their discontent; until at last they were reduced to so deplorable a position that they waited in a body upon Shah Shuja to complain of it. The Shah imprudently replied, that he was king by title only, not by power, and that the chiefs were cowards, and could do nothing. These words Mohan Lal believes were not spoken to stimulate the chiefs to open rebellion, but merely to induce them to such acts as might convince the English of the bad policy of their reforms and other measures. But the Shah had miscalculated the effect of his dangerous hint. After the interview with him, at the end of September 1841, the chiefs assembled, and sealed an engagement, written on the leaves of the Koran, binding themselves to rebel against the existing government, as the sole way to annihilate British influence in Kabul. Mohan Lal was informed of this plot, and reported it to Sir A. Burnes, who attached little importance to it, and refused to permit the seizure of the Koran, whence the names of the conspirators might have been learned. It has been frequently stated, that neither Burnes nor MacNaghten had timely information of the discontent and conspiracy of the chiefs. Mohan Lal affirms the contrary, and supports his assertion by extracts from letters written by those gentlemen. Pride of power, he says, and an unfortunate spirit of rivalry, prevented them from taking the necessary measures to meet the outbreak. Sir A. Burnes thought that to be on the alert would show timidity, whilst carelessness of the alarming reports then afloat would prove intrepidity, and produce favourable results. But it was not the moment for such speculations. A circular letter was secretly sent round to all the Durrani and Persian chiefs in Kabul and the suburbs, falsely stating that a plan was on foot to seize them and send them to India, whither Sir W. MacNaghten was about to proceed as governor of Bombay. The authors of this atrocious forgery were afterwards discovered. They were three Afghans of bad character and considerable cunning, who had been employed by the Vazir, by the envoy, and by Sir A. Burnes. Their object was to produce a revolt, in which they might make themselves conspicuous as friends of the English, and so obtain reward and distinction. They had been wont to derive advantage from revolutions and outbreaks, and were eager for another opportunity of making money. Their selfish and abominable device was the spark to the train. It caused a prompt explosion. The chiefs again assembled, resolved upon instant action, and fixed upon its plan. It was decided to begin by an attack upon the houses of Sir A. Burnes and the other English officers resident in the city. For fear of discovery, not a moment was to be lost. The following day, the 2d of November, was to witness the outbreak.

And now, at the eleventh hour, fresh intimations of the approaching danger were conveyed to those whom it threatened. Two persons informed Sir A. Burnes of it; and one of the conspirators more than hinted it to Mohan Lal, who had boasted to him that the Ghilzais were pacified by Major Macgregor, and that Sir Robert Sale was on his victorious march to Jellalabad. The conspirator laughed. "To-morrow morning," he said, "the very door you now sit at will be in flames of fire; and yet still you pride yourselves in saying that you are safe!"

"I told all this," says Mohan Lal, "to Sir Alexander Burnes, whose reply was, that we must not let the people suppose we were frightened, and that he will see what he can do in the cantonment, whither he started immediately. Whilst I was talking with Sir A. Burnes, an anonymous note reached him in Persian, confirming what he had heard from me and from[553] other sources, on which he said, 'The time is arrived that we must leave this country.'" The time for that was already past.

The disastrous occurrences in Afghanistan, on and subsequently to the 2d of November 1841, are so recent, so well-known, and have been so much written about, that any thing beyond a passing reference to them is here unnecessary. Mohan Lal's account of the deaths of Sir A. Burnes, Charles Burnes, Sir W. MacNaghten, and Shah Shuja, is interesting, as are also some details of his own escapes and adventures during the insurrection. From the roof of his house he witnessed the attack upon that of Sir A. Burnes, and the death of Lieutenant H. Burnes, who slew six Afghans before he himself was cut to pieces. Sir Alexander was murdered without resistance, having previously tied his cravat over his eyes, in order not to see the blows that put an end to his existence. Mohan Lal himself narrowly escaped death at the hands of the man who subsequently murdered Shah Shuja; but he was rescued by an Afghan friend, and concealed in a harem. Afterwards, whilst prisoner to Akhbar Khan, he did good service in sending information to the English generals and political agents, and finally in negotiating the release of the Kabul captives. For all these matters we refer our readers to the closing chapters of his book, and return to Dost Mohammed.

On his arrival at Calcutta, the Amir was treated by Lord Auckland with great attention and respect, an income of three lakhs of rupees was allotted to him, and he was taken to see the curiosities of the city, the naval and military stores, &c. All these things greatly struck him, and he was heard to say, that had he known the extraordinary power and resources of the English, he would never have opposed them. After a while, his health sufferred from the Calcutta climate; he became greatly alarmed about himself, and begged to be allowed to join his family at Loodianah. He was sent to the upper provinces, and afterwards to the hills, where the temperature was cool and somewhat similar to that of his own country. During the Kabul insurrection he managed to keep up a communication with his son Akhbar, whom he strongly advised to destroy the English by every means in his power.

When the British forces re-entered Afghanistan to punish its inhabitants for the Kabul massacres, Prince Fatah Jang, son of the murdered Shah Shuja, was placed upon the throne. But when he found that his European supporters, after accomplishing the work of chastisement, were about to evacuate the country with a precipitation which, it has been said, "resembled almost as much the retreat of an army defeated as the march of a body of conquerors,"[46] he hastened to abdicate his short-lived authority. He was too good a judge of the chances, to await the departure of the British and the arrival of Akhbar Khan, and preferred taking off his crown himself to having it taken off by somebody else, with his head in it. His brother, Prince Shahpur, a mere boy, was then seated upon the throne, and left at the mercy of his enemies. His reign was very brief. As the English marched from Kabul, Akhbar Khan approached it, and the son of Shuja had to run away, with loss of property and risk of life. "By such a precipitate withdrawal from Afghanistan," says Mohan Lal, "we did not show an honourable sentiment of courage, but we disgracefully placed many friendly chiefs in a serious dilemma. There were certain chiefs whom we detached from Akhbar Khan, pledging our honour and word to reward and protect them; and I could hardly show my face to them at the time of our departure, when they came full of tears, saying, that 'we deceived and punished our friends, causing them to stand against their own countrymen, and then leaving them in the mouths of lions.' As soon as Mohammed Akhbar occupied Kabul, he tortured, imprisoned, extorted money from, and disgraced, all those who had taken our side. I shall consider it indeed a great miracle and a divine favour, if hereafter any trust ever be placed in the word and pro[554]mise of the authorities of the British government throughout Afghanistan and Turkistan."

When it at last became evident that the feeble and talentless Sadozais were unable to hold the reins of power in Afghanistan, or to contend, with any chance of success, against the energy and influence of the Barakzai chiefs, Dost Mohammed was released, and allowed to return to his own country. On his way he concluded a secret treaty of alliance with Sher Singh, the Maharajah of the Punjaub, and from Lahore was escorted by the Sikhs to the Khaibar pass, where Akhbar Khan and other Afghan chiefs received him. The Amir's exultation at again ascending his throne knew no bounds. Unschooled by adversity, he very soon recommenced his old system of extortion, and made himself so unpopular, that he was once fired at, but escaped. He now enjoys his authority and the superiority of his family, fearless of invasion from West or East.

Although Akhbar Khan, of all the Amir's sons, has the greatest influence in Afghanistan, and renown out of it, his elder brother, Afzal Khan, is, we are informed, greatly his superior in judgment and nobility of character. Mohan Lal predicts a general commotion in Kabul when Dost Mohammed dies. If any one of his brothers, the chiefs of Qandhar, or Sultan Mohammed Khan, the ex-chief of Peshavar, be then alive, he will attempt to seize Kabul, and many of the Afghan nobles, some even of the Amir's sons, will lend him their support against Akhbar Khan. The popular candidate, however, the favourite of the people, of the chiefs, and of his relations, the Barakzais, is Afzal Khan. Akhbar will be supported by his brothers—the sons, that is to say, of his own mother as well as of the Amir. Perhaps the whole territory of Kabul will be divided into small independent principalities, governed by the different sons of Dost Mohammed. At any rate, there can be little doubt that at his death wars and intrigues, plunderings and assassinations, will again distract the country. The crown that was won by the crimes of the father, will, in all probability, be shattered and pulled to pieces by the dissensions and rivalry of the children.[555]


The time has arrived when the modes of administering the poor-law in England and Wales must undergo inquiry and revision. Twelve years have elapsed since the Poor-Law Amendment Act became the law of the land; and during the period many changes have been made. In many cases, the new arrangements of the Poor-Law Commissioners have been adopted without a murmur. In some cases, they have met with continued but fruitless opposition. In others, they have been resisted with success. During the whole period a war has raged, in which no two of the combatants have used the same weapons, or drawn them in the same cause. One has adduced particular cases of hardship, suffering, and death, as the results of the new system. Another has collected statistics, and referred to depauperised counties. And yet the same number of cases of hardship and suffering may have occurred before 1834, although unrecorded and unknown. Nor does it follow, because the official returns from agricultural counties may show a diminished number of paupers, or a diminished expenditure, that the residue have been able to earn their bread as independent labourers. No period appears to have been assigned when the results of the new system should be examined. Successive governments have kept aloof from fear, until an accident led to important disclosures, and an inquiry is now inevitable. The Poor-Law Commissioners have been invested with extraordinary and dangerous powers. They possess the united powers of Queen, Lords, and Commons. Their most imperfectly-considered resolutions have the force of an act of parliament, or rather, ten-fold more force—it being their duty, first, to ascertain what ought to be the law—then to make the law—then to enforce it—and then, after the elapse of time, to report upon its success or failure. It would be difficult for the wisest to exercise powers like these beneficially; and it is to be feared that abuses have crept in. And when we find that men, who have hitherto upheld the system, now demand inquiry in their place in parliament, and the ministers who were concerned in the establishment of the system, promising, either to withdraw opposition to the demand, or to amend the laws themselves so we may be assured that the topic at the present time, as regards the administration of Relief to the Poor in England and Wales, is Inquiry and Revision.

The subject matter of this article must be suggestive, rather than affirmative. Even at this time of day, it would be presumptuous to take up a commanding or decided position. The old system was rotten. The good it contained was choked up with weeds; the pruning-knife has been applied unsparingly; and it is to be feared that good wood has been cut away. New arrangements have been devised with practical shrewdness, to displace clearly recognised evils; but, with these practical improvements, certain economic theories have been speculatively, tried; and it is likely that evils have sprung up; so that those who proclaim so loudly that every part of the new arrangements is either naught or vicious, and those who affirm that the old methods were all good, are both remote from the truth, which, probably, lies somewhere between the two.

The subject being set apart for inquiry, the question arises—How can a subject which has so many phases be advantageously considered; to whom must we go for information; and to what matters should the attention be chiefly directed? It is to these questions this article will attempt to provide answers. To the first question—To whom must we go for information?—the answer is obvious. To all who are engaged in the administration of the law, and chiefly to those who have to do with those departments where evils may be supposed to exist. And, in order to answer the second, the subject must be divided into classes, and the mode of operation of the law in each must be sketched. The reader will then be able to see for himself, and judge whether the matters referred to are[556] not those which most imperatively demand inquiry.

The several parishes, townships, chapelries, and hamlets of England and Wales, whether grouped into Unions or not, may be usefully distributed into three classes.

The First Class includes "parishes, townships, chapelries, and hamlets," grouped into Unions, in which the population bears a small proportion to the number of acres they comprise.

The Second Class includes small populous parishes, grouped into Unions, in which the population bears a large proportion to the number of statute acres they cover.

The Third Class consists of large single parishes, in which the population bears a large proportion to the number of acres.

The following diagram will explain this classification:



No. of
Population of
Highest | Lowest
of Union.
Area of
No. of
2066         97
2976         10
4864       116
3182         23
6927         24
Middlesex,City of
98  401        7257,1003703
1       .....        .....138,164 1490...

These divisions of territory may be regarded from different points of view. They may be seen through the media of statute-books, reports, returns, and statistics; or they may be actually surveyed. Each course has its peculiar dangers. The mind, occupied with matters of detail and routine occurrences, is apt to lose in comprehensiveness as much as it gains in minute exactness. To avoid this danger the mind must soar as the facts accumulate. It must regard them, sometimes from the height of one theory, and sometimes from the height of another. For the mind becomes tinged with the hue of whatever is frequently presented to it. Opinions even are hereditary. And every set of facts leads to a different conclusion, according to the texture of the minds they pass through. Refer to the facts connected with the condition of the poor, which have been proclaimed during the last few years; and then reflect to what contradictory opinions they have led. The man of strong benevolent feelings deduces one inference. The politico-economical theorist deduces another. And the man of practice and experience is as likely to be deluded as either. He sees destitution so frequently connected with imprudence, laziness, and crime, that he is apt to believe that the union is indissoluble. His mind has never embraced a general idea, or traced effects to causes, or distinguished them, the one from the other. And in this matter, where the causes and effects are so complicated, and entangled by their mutual reaction, he is likely to be at fault. Then the man of pure benevolence sees only the pain, and demands only the means of immediate relief. And the political economist tells us, "That the law which would enforce charity can fix no limits, either to the ever-increasing wants of a poverty which itself has created, or to the insatiable desires and demands of a population which itself hath corrupted and led astray."

In the First Class, the parishes are large, thinly populated, and situated generally in rural districts. In some cases, the Union includes a country town; the neighbouring parishes and hamlets being connected with it. The total number of parishes may be eighteen or twenty. In other cases,[557] the Union consists of about twenty-five parishes, townships, hamlets, and chapelries. In some instances, the population of the parishes are collected into so many villages, which are distant from each other. In others, the entire surface of the country is sprinkled thinly with cottages. The communications are by high-roads, and muddy lanes, over high hills, and through bogs and marshes, and by bridle-roads and footpaths—

"O'er muirs and mosses many, O."

In each of these Unions, the management of the relief fund is confided to a Board, consisting of resident rate-payers, and resident country magistrates. The former are guardians by election, and the latter ex-officio. The Board is completed by the addition of the churchwardens and overseers. The chairman is generally the most distinguished, and the vice-chairman the most active man in the Union. The chairman regulates the proceedings of the Board, and ascertains its resolutions. The clerk records them. The relief which applicants are to receive, is determined by the Board; except that which is given by certain officers in cases of "sudden and urgent necessity." The management of the Union-house is invested in the master—a paid officer. His duties are ascertained and fixed. He is liable to dismissal by the joint resolution of the Poor-Law Commissioners and the Guardians, or by the order of the Commissioners alone. It is also the duty of the master to attend to such cases of destitution as may be presented at the Union-House gate; and, if their necessities be of a sudden and urgent character, to admit them into the house. It may be remarked here, that information is wanted upon this point. The question is not, by what general term may the cases be designated, whether sudden or urgent, but what the circumstances of the cases really are, which are so relieved. The answers to the question would throw light upon the relation subsisting between a strict work-house system and the increase of vagrancy. To continue. The sick poor are confided to the care of the medical officer; and the out-door relief is chiefly administered by the relieving-officer. His duties in rural Unions are as follows:—To pay or deliver such amounts of money or food as the Board may have ordered the poor to receive, at the villages, hamlets, and cottages where they may reside. He must visit the poor at their homes. He receives applications for relief; and when the necessity is sudden and urgent, he relieves the case promptly with food. He must report upon the circumstances of each case, and keep accounts. For neglect of duty, he is liable to penal consequences, and to dismissal, in the same way as the master. The average number of parishes, townships, and hamlets committed to the care of the relieving-officer may be about twenty. The reader may be able, from his local knowledge, to picture this Union, and give it a name.

The Union then consists of twenty parishes. The Union-house is pretty central, and situated near a small market-town. The meetings of the Board are held in the Union-house, and upon the market-day; because then the guardians, churchwardens, and overseers, after having transacted their private business, may conveniently perform their public duties. At the last meeting of the Board of Guardians, certain poor persons appeared before them, and were ordered to be relieved with money or food, at a specific rate, and for a specified time. The relieving-officer resides in that part of the Union from whence he can reach the most distant and opposite points with nearly equal facility. He divides his district into rounds, and each occupies the greatest portion of a day. At the end of each week he will have visited the whole of the twenty parishes.

The Board met yesterday, and to-day the relieving-officer's week began. By the conditions of his appointment, he must have a horse and chaise. The contractor for bread is bound to deliver it at the home of the pauper; he must therefore provide man and horse, and they accompany the relieving-officer. They set out on the first day's journey; they arrive at the first hamlet on the route, and stop at a cottage door. Around it and within it the destitute poor of the hamlet are assembled. Each receives[558] his allowance of money and bread. But a group has collected about the door, whose names are not on the relief-list. One woman tells the relieving-officer that her husband is ill with fever, and her children are without food. He knows the family; he hastens down the lane, and across the field, and enters the labourer's hut. The man is really ill, and there are too evident signs of destitution. A written order is given on the medical officer to attend the case, and necessary relief is given. The man who now approaches the officer with such an air of overbearing insolence, or fawning humility, is also an applicant. He is known at the village beer-shop, and by the farmer as a man who can work, but will not; he is the last man employed in the parish; his hovel is visited—it is a scene of squalid misery. What is to be done? He may be relieved temporarily with bread, or admitted into the Union-house, or he is directed to attend the Board. The relieving officer then proceeds to his next station. There a larger supply of bread awaits him, for he is now in a populous parish. The poor of the place are assembled at the church door, and the relief is given in the vestry-room. The applications are again received and disposed of. He then rides to the cottages of the sick and the aged, and again continues his route. He does not proceed far before he is hailed by the labourer in the field, who tells him of some solitary person who is without medical aid. By-and-by, he is stopped by the boy who has long waited for him on the stile, and begs him to come and see his mother; and the farmer's man, on the farmer's horse, gives him further news of disease, destitution, or death. He completes his day's journey before the evening. To-morrow another route is taken; and thus he proceeds from day to day, and from month to month, through summer's heat and winter's cold.

The number of medical officers in a Union varies. In some cases, where there are two relieving-officers, there are four medical officers. The medical officer resides within the limits of the Union. He is not prevented from attending to his private practice, and he does not therefore reside in a central position, or at the nearest point to his pauper patients; he is supplied with a list of persons who are in receipt of relief, and he is bound to attend these without an order; he must also attend to cases upon the receipt of a written order from the relieving-officer or the overseer; he regulates the diet of his patients, and he is paid by a salary, and by fees in certain cases.

There are contradictory opinions respecting the efficiency of this system. Some say that the amount of remuneration is inadequate to insure qualified persons, and others that the qualifications are secured by the requisition of recognised diplomas.

If we inquire of those among the peasantry who have never received parochial relief, or even of the yeomanry, we find that in many districts, and especially those of which we are now speaking, it is a difficult matter to obtain immediate medical aid; and if this consideration have any weight, the system would appear satisfactory, providing always the overseers perform their duty when applied to. It would be desirable to ascertain whether there are any restrictions in the issue of medical orders. As regards relieving the poor with food, there are many who say, that, in so doing, the very evil is created which we are endeavouring to destroy. But this is not said with respect to medical relief. The labouring man with his family may earn an average wage of from 7s. to 12s. per week. The most prudent cannot save much, and those savings are invested in the purchase of a stack of wood, a sack of meal, a crop of potatoes, a stye of pigs, or a cow. His savings might enable him to provide food for his family during illness, but they would be totally insufficient to pay for medicine and medical aid. It would be desirable to ascertain where and to what extent medical clubs and dispensaries exist, and what means the agricultural labourer, in thinly populated districts, possesses for obtaining gratuitous medical aid.

It would be well, too, if Boards of Guardians would remember that their duties have not ended when they have disposed of the cases on each[559] board-day. They have to do with pauperism, not only as it exists to-day, but as it may exist next month or next year; and therefore they have to do with its causes, as well as its existing results. This truth is just now occupying the minds of statesmen, and it is to be hoped that it may receive the attention of Boards of Guardians. Sanatory regulations will decrease pauperism. Many men have been destroyed, and their families pauperised, by uncovered sewers in thickly populated lanes and alleys; and much disease has been engendered by the want of facilities for cleanliness. And so also has much pauperism been engendered by the drain upon the resources of the poor man during a long illness. Could not this be remedied, and that without weakening the feeling of independence? And why might not a Board of Guardians be allowed, or compelled, to contribute a given sum to any dispensary or medical club which may be governed by certain rules duly certified?

We must now refer to the churchwardens and overseers of the several parishes of this rural Union. The question with respect to them is, do they receive the applications of the poor in their respective parishes, and deal with them in the same way as the relieving-officer? It would not be a sufficient answer to quote acts of parliament, or lists of duties. It is doubtless of importance to know that, according to law, the duty of relieving in cases of sudden and urgent necessity is still reserved to the overseer. But it is of equal importance to ascertain whether, in those extensive or thinly populated parishes where the relieving-officer may reside many a weary mile distant from the cottage of the destitute, any check, or hinderance, or heavy discouragement has been offered to the overseer in his attempt to perform his duty. We can easily conceive the farmer overseer, before 1834, riding over the fields of his parish, and meeting one of the poor cottagers, at once relieving him with a piece of money, and taking no further note of the circumstance than was necessary to prevent his forgetting to repay himself. And we can understand how the same overseer, under the new system, when men to whom he has been accustomed to look up with deference are united with him in the administration of relief, may not trouble himself to inquire into, or care to exercise, the rights reserved to him. Or he may find that he has something more to do than merely to enter the amount in his pocket-book. He may have to report the case to the relieving-officer, or to defend it at the Board—neither of which acts his literary habits, his opportunities, his patience, or his ability to speak before the magnates of his district in Board assembled, may dispose him to perform. In other cases, where these considerations may have no weight, the overseer may be of opinion, since paid officers have been appointed to do the duty, and are paid to do it, that they are the proper persons to perform it.

In thus referring to the duties of overseers, it must not be supposed that a recurrence to the old system is aimed at. It is a common opinion that the Union system is diametrically opposed to the old parochial system. And it seems to be too generally thought that relief should be given through paid agency. But this is not so. The power to relieve, in cases of sudden and urgent necessity, still rests with the overseers. But the law has deprived the overseer of the power to give permanent relief. It will not allow him to give a regular weekly allowance. The question the overseer has to do with is not whether labourer Miles shall receive, for a number of consecutive weeks or months, a certain sum, but whether he should not receive relief at this moment, his necessities being sudden and urgent. The question of permanent relief is no longer a subject of personal controversy and irritation between the labourer and the farmer. It is now a question between the labourer and the Board. What he shall receive no longer depends upon the will of a single person, but upon the collective will of a number so great, that personal partialities and prejudices can scarcely have place. The system, in this respect, assures justice alike to the rate-payer and the indigent poor. It stands between[560] the poor man and the overseer; and also between the overseer and the sturdy threatening vagrant.

But it is desirable to know whether the dereliction of duty by overseers has been of frequent occurrence, and whether there has been any want of care or disposition on the part of the authorities to facilitate its exercise. That the relief given must be duly recorded and accounted for, is quite clear. Now, do the means for doing this equal those given to the relieving-officer, who requires them less? Then, again, have arrangements been duly made to enable overseers to relieve in food? Is the loaf or the meat at hand? Can it be had from the nearest shop? Or must it be brought from the store of the contractor, who cannot always reside in the next village? In fact, must the destitute person wait for the periodical visit of the relieving-officer, and is the duty of the overseer thus made a superfluity?

It is likely that the dweller in cities may not sufficiently estimate the importance of this topic. In a populous city, however sudden the casualty may be to which a fellow-creature may fall a victim, the means of relief are within a stone's-throw from the spot. But the case is different in that wide expanse of level country which opens to the view of the pedestrian as he gains the summit of the hill. The plain is dotted with solitary cottages, hamlets, and villages. The town is just perceptible in the distance. But its hum and its chimes are unheard. The Union-house loses its barrack-like appearance by its remoteness. He descends, and its "goes on his way." He hears the voices of children, the song of birds; and he sees cottages "embosomed" in trees, and those pictures which pastoral poets have so loved to paint, pass in panoramic order before him. He enters the cottage door; he sees the dampness of the walls; he feels the clayey coldness of the floors, and observes the signs of poverty. While pondering upon these things, sensation vacates its office, and imagination rules in the ascendant; material images fade away. Now the fields, the trees, and the entire air become covered and filled with drifting snow. Or,

"The stillness of these frosty plains,

Their utter stillness, and the silent grace

Of yon ethereal summits, white with snow,

(Whose tranquil pomp and spotless purity

Report of storms gone by

To those who tread below.")

Or the winds howl, the biting sharpness of the frosty air nips the joints and shrivels the flesh, and the smoking smouldering fire has no power to control the winds which rush across the room. The scene changes. The lowlands are flooded, and the waters reach to, and stagnate at the cottage door. The rains descend; the air is saturated with water; it chills the frame; the heart beats languidly, and the soul of man stoops to the deadening influence of the elements. Agues, rheumatism, and fevers prevail. The hardships of the season bear down old and young; for the want of sufficient or nutritious food has shorn them of their strength.

Upon awakening from this trance, "which was not all a dream," and reflecting how far aid is distant, even if it can be obtained from the nearest overseer, how forcibly must the thought occur—what numbers suffer and die whose suffering is unrelieved and unknown! If our pedestrian learn nothing from his trip for health and pleasure more than this, he will have learnt enough to satisfy him that the point we have directed his attention to, viz. that the means of relief in rural districts should be made as ample as possible; and that, therefore, the right and duty of the overseers to relieve promptly should be encouraged and zealously guarded.

Reference must now be made to the notorious "Prohibitory Order." And in doing so, it is not to the order itself, either in its original or amended form, that the following remarks are especially made, but to the practices which owe their origin to the enactments of the Poor-Law Amendment Act, to the Utopian expectations of many, that a strict work-house test would destroy pauperism, and to the explanations and reports of the Commissioners themselves. The following[561] is the prohibitory in its latest and most humanised form:—

"Article I.—Every able-bodied person, male or female, requiring relief from any parish within any of the said Unions, shall be relieved wholly in the work-house of the said Unions, together with such of the family of every such able-bodied person as may be resident with him or her, and may not be in employment, and together with the wife of every such able-bodied male person, if he be a married man, and if she be resident with him; save and except in the following cases:—

1st, Where such person shall require relief on account of sudden and urgent necessity.[47]

2d, Where such person shall require relief on account of any sickness, accident, or bodily or mental infirmity, affecting such person, or any of his or her family.

3d, Where such person shall require relief, for the purpose of defraying the expenses, either wholly or in part, of the burial of his or her family.

4th, Where such person, being a widow, shall be in the first six months of her widowhood.

5th, Where such person shall be a widow, and have a legitimate child or legitimate children dependent upon her, and incapable of earning his, her, or their livelihood, and no illegitimate child born after the commencement of her widowhood.

6th, Where such person shall be confined in any jail or place of safe custody.

7th, Where the relief shall be required by the wife, child, or children of any able-bodied man who shall be in the service of her Majesty, as a soldier, sailor, or marine.

8th, Where any able-bodied person, not being a soldier, sailor, or marine, shall not reside within the Union, but the wife, child, or children, of such person shall reside within the same, the Board of Guardians of the Union, according to their discretion, may afford relief in the work-house to such wife, child, or children, or may allow out-door relief for any such child or children, being within the age of nurture, and resident with the mother within the Union."

The fifth exception, relating to widows, is accompanied with a course of reasoning directed against its application; and as it is to be feared that the practice engendered by a former order, in which this exception had no place, may have become habitual, this exception will be treated as if it did not exist. Especial inquiries ought to be made, in order to ascertain whether widows with children are generally allowed out-door relief.

The immediate effect of this system of relief is a diminution of expenditure. But we must look beyond the immediate effects. It is to be feared that great politico-social evils result from this system. They have been somewhat reduced in number, perhaps, by the new prohibitory order. But it is too probable that the original wound has left a scar. The evils are not on the surface, and strike the mind at intervals. Perhaps we may be struck with the fact, that our prisons are filled with individuals who have been committed for slight offences, and for short periods; and it may casually appear, that the work-house has something to do with it. Then the question may occur, why the ordinary accommodation for wayfarers in the casual wards of work-houses has become insufficient or less ample than formerly? Or, when travelling, we may see whole families creeping along the roads apparently without object or aim; and if, after giving them a coin, you ask them where they are going to, and why they are going? you will be struck [562]with the vagueness of their replies. Wherever you meet them, you find they are going from this place to that; and if you were to meet them every day for a twelvemonth, the answers would always be as indefinite. At another time, we may be deeply concerned in the subject of prison discipline; and while studying reports, returns, and dietaries, the subject of workhouse discipline may become associated with it, and induce comparisons. And it may come to our knowledge, that there is a vast body of persons to whom it is a matter of indifference whether they are inmates of a prison or a workhouse. Or the mind may soar above the dull, cold, field of politics, and extend its researches to the pure regions of morality, leaving the questions of science for those of philosophy; and then it will appear that there are causes in operation, and results constantly flowing, which escape the "economic" eyes of assistant Commissioners.

But we must avoid generalities. We still retain our original ground, viz. the rural Union, with its large area and its thinly scattered population. The reader must accompany us to the rural Union, where the spirit of the prohibitory order exercises its most baneful influence.

We saw the relieving-officer performing his round of duties. The poor were assembled at the cottage door. Two classes of applicants were then given. We must now, however, look deeper into human nature. The destitute consist of the virtuous and the vicious, the vulgar and the refined. There stands an able-bodied man with his able-bodied wife, and his large healthy family. His weekly wages amount to nine shillings per week. If he loses a week's work he is destitute. He is now making an application to the relieving-officer. But it is useless. He must walk to the Union, and become an inmate, where his dinner awaits him. The man who now approaches the officer is like the last, able-bodied and out of work; but, unlike him, he has an idle, unthrifty, drunken wife. He is always trembling on the confines of destitution; and the instant he is without work he is on the brink of starvation. His spirit is broken. His children are dirty and ragged, and appear emaciated without disease. He, too, must enter the Union. The next is a hard-featured man;—

"A savage wildness round him hung
As of a dweller out of doors;
In his whole figure, and his mien,
A savage character was seen
Of mountains and of dreary moors."

He does not seem to care whether relief is granted or not; and we may hear him say, "I don't want relief for myself, I can get my living somehow or other—but my wife and child musn't starve. I shan't go to the Union—I shall be off—and catch me who can."—In the cottage, a woman is seated with her children, whose husband has done that which the other has threatened to do. She may be industrious or idle, but she cannot support herself, thus suddenly thrown upon her own resources. Let us hope that she is allowed the benefit of the amended order.—There is the man whose children are approaching the state of womanhood or manhood. He has work to do, and he does it. He could manage to eke out a subsistence for himself—for his habits are simple and frugal; but his children are now a sore trial to him. His daughter has returned to his cottage with a child of shame. She has erred, but she cannot be turned from his door. She has tried to make the father contribute to the support of the child, but without success. Poor ignorant creature, instead of taking a competent witness with her, when she asked the man to assist her, she was too anxious to hide her shame. Instead of putting questions to him, in order "to get up" the corroborative evidence, she was too apt to spoil all by passionate upbraidings. And then, when she appeared before their worships the justices, she was too much abashed or excited, to enable her to develope those latent powers of examination and cross-examination which the law supposes her to possess. Those who have witnessed those humiliating proceedings in our petty courts of justice, and seen the magistrate at one moment kindly acting as counsel for the girl, then falling back to his posi[563]tion as judge, and observed the evident helplessness of the girl, must have left the court with the impression that the whole affair is a disgusting farce. She departs without redress. The "corroborative evidence" is declared insufficient. She goes to her father's cottage. His heart compels him to give her shelter, and a place at his scanty board. But the smallest assistance cannot be rendered with impunity. And there he stands an applicant. He is told, "you must come into the house." "But it is my daughter." "Then she must enter the Union." And, if she does, there she must remain until her child dies, or her hair grows grey.—On the other side, and away from the rest, stands a coarse-featured man, who has often been an inmate of the county jail. He is the smuggler on the coast, the footpad on the common, the poacher in the forest, the housebreaker, the horse-stealer, the sheep-slayer, or the incendiary. He may be any of these. He demands his rights, and threatens vengeance if refused.—We turn from this group, and walk slowly to the Union-house, now visible in the distance; and, in walking, the time may be well employed in reflection. The thought which occurs with the greatest vividness is this—for the reception of such a group, what must the arrangements be? There is the old man, honest but poor, who seeks there an asylum. There is the man old in sin and iniquity, as well as years. There is the able-bodied man and woman with their family. There is the able-bodied man with his drunken, unthrifty wife, and his emaciated children. There is the young girl, whom the season has thrown out of her ordinary field employment. There is the woman with her illegitimate child, either heart-broken, or glorying in her shame. There is the girl, young in years but old in profligacy, suffering for her sins. There is the matron in her green old age, the result of a life of industry and prudence. And there is the ruffian, and the thief, and the profligate vagrant, male and female. Now what arrangements can be made for this assemblage—the bad anxious to obtain temporary quarters, the good anxious to retain their homes?

Surely they are not classed according to rules in which age, and sex, and state of health are the only principles? The widow with the prostitute, the aged cottar with the aged vagrant. If this were all, the moral consequences would not be so fearful. Does the young girl, who is now innocent, associate daily with her who has wandered over half the neighbouring counties, sinking lower and lower each journey? If so, poison will be instilled, which produces certain moral death. Refer to any list, now seven years old, of the inmates of a workhouse, who were then aged from twelve to eighteen years, and then inquire what has become of them. Or inquire of those who have the administration in metropolitan parishes, or in manufacturing and sea-port towns, how many of those unfortunates, scarcely yet arrived at the state of womanhood, and suffering from loathsome diseases, were brought up, or were sometime inmates of one of these Unions. Then there are the children of all these;—the children of the farm-labourer associating with those of the vagrant, who has quartered himself in the Union during the rains.

The evils which this system occasions are not, unfortunately, either to be seen or understood by the casual observer. Even our observer may suppose that all is well, after he has inspected the place. He sees every thing clean and in order. There are no rags, no unshorn beards, no unclean flesh. The ordinary concomitants of virtue are here present—by compulsion. The rags, the filthiness of place and person, are absent—by order. This is forgotten; and, allowing the outward and visible to govern his judgment rather than the inward and spiritual, he leaves the place exclaiming, "Well! this is not so bad after all!" The outside is indeed white, but it is the whiteness of the sepulchre.

If this group is to be received into one building, there must be something peculiar in its arrangements. All these persons are suffering, more or less, from the want of food, or lodging, or clothing, or medical aid. They are now offered the whole of these blessings, and yet they do not feel blessed thereby. He has now that[564] livelihood freely offered to him which had cost him many a sigh to procure, and he has often sighed in vain. What then can or must be the nature of the arrangements? It must be remembered that this Union is presumed to be a test of poverty, and therefore the condition of its inmates must be inferior to that of the independent labourer.

To effect this, how must the authorities proceed? In the first place, there are arrangements which they cannot make. They cannot altogether dispense with the counsels of the medical man, while the matter is under discussion. And an inspector of prisons should be admitted, certainly, as far as the ante-room. Then the locality of the Union-house must not be unhealthy. The internal parts of the building must not be exposed to the inclemency of the seasons.

The rooms cannot be badly warmed or ventilated. They must not be allowed to become filthy. The inmates must not sleep on a damp floor, with loose straw for a bed, or an old carpet for a coverlid. Their clothes must not be permitted to fall from them in tatters. They must not remain twenty-four hours without food. And they cannot experience that gnawing anxiety—that sickness of heart which those thousands suffer who rise in the morning without knowing where they can obtain a meal, or lay down their head at night. These "ills," which constitute so large a portion of the poor man's lot, the inmate of this Union cannot be made to suffer. Nor can they be detained like prisoners. He must not be confined for a longer period, after an application to leave has been made, than will allow for forms and casualties. So in three hours he is a free man again. What is to be done? Might not his food be touched? Might he not be allowed food which, although possessing nutritious qualities, should not be palatable? At this point, the prison inspector should be consulted. This experiment upon the dietaries has been tried, and with what success let public opinion trumpet-tongued proclaim. What must then be done? First, the family may, nay, must be divided and distributed over the building. The husband is sent to the "Man's Hall," the wife to the "Woman's Ward," and the male and female children each to their's. This arrangement is inevitable, but is fraught with dangers. The man who has lived for months estranged from his wife and children—for seeing them at certain times cannot be considered the same thing as living with them—may learn to believe that their presence is not necessary to his existence. And then it should not be forgotten, that the pain here introduced is the pain arising from the infliction of a moral wound. An attempt has been made to disturb a set of virtuous emotions in their healthy exercise. By this separation they are deprived of their necessary aliment; and, if they are not strong, will soon sicken and die. Now, those moral feelings which preside over the social hearth are those which exercise the greatest influence over the heart of the poor man, and bind, and strengthen, and afford opportunities for the development of the rest. They are in general the last that leave him. And when they are gone, he is bankrupt indeed. It is a pain, too, which only the virtuous feel. The lawless, the debauched, and the drunken pass unscathed. Is there not danger?

In the second place, the inmates of the Union must work. And here also there are limits which a Board cannot pass. Labour cannot be enforced from a diseased man. The prudent master of a Union will not require a task to be performed which he cannot enforce. The question is, what work can the inmates be set to do? Not to lace-making or stocking-weaving, for that is the staple of the neighbourhood. To give them this work would diminish the demand for labour out of doors. What labour then must it be? Here is the rock upon which the vessel is now driving. It must certainly be real work. Must it, then, be disagreeable work? It must. But there is no work so disagreeable that willing labourers cannot be found to do it, and that at a rate of wages reduced by competition. Then, again, the most disagreeable kind of labour cannot be done in a Union-house. And experience proves, that the number of such employments is extremely limited.[565]

There are, however, certain kinds of labour that require no exertion of skill—no variety of operation—and consisting of the mechanical and monotonous operation of picking, which, if performed in the same room during a certain number of hours of each day, and from day to day, and from week to week, will become so sickening and wearying, that life with all its miseries, doubts, and anxieties, and impending starvation, will be welcomed in exchange.

This labour women may perform. Now, in what way can the men be tasked? There are certain kinds of mere labour, hard and monotonous, such as grinding—or rather turning a handle all day long—without seeing the progress or result of the toil. He might also be employed in breaking bones. This has been tried, and received a check.

But while the conclave are sitting in "consultation deep" upon this knotty question, let us turn to another conclave, and mark their doings. They know nothing of the poor-law, or paupers. The two authorities are separated, the one from the other, by a gulf, the depth of which official persons alone know. They have to do with crime. They have to punish the offender. And not only to punish the offender who has committed acts which require long imprisonment, but those also who have committed petty offences. Upon this latter subject they are engaged. The prisoner must be set to work. And then arise the old questions, and with the same result. What do they determine?

What has been done? Surely the two bodies have not each issued the same regulations to paupers and prisoners. If this be so, the matter cannot rest. And that it must be so, is obvious from a mere inspection of the means which the workhouse master and the jailer have at their disposal. It is not an oversight or an abuse. The data being given, the consequences are inevitable. Each conclave has separately arrived at nearly the same conclusion. In one case a prison and a prisoner, and a brief period of incarceration is given, with the condition, that his punishment shall not be so severe as that of the criminal deeply dyed in crime; and yet his circumstances shall be less desirable than those of the independent labourer. In the other case, a pauper and a Union-house is given; and if the condition of the problem be, that the pauper's situation shall be less disagreeable than that of the independent labourer, the solution becomes impossible; and, if this latter condition be left out or forgotten, the result is, that the prisoner and the pauper are in the same position. This mode of treating the matter has been preferred to that of comparing dietaries and labour-tables, and to quoting from evidence showing the indifference with which the prison and the workhouse are regarded by the lower class of paupers. Our object has been to show that the strict workhouse system leads necessarily to these evils.

It is argued, on the other side, that pauperism has diminished in those Unions where the "prohibitory order" has been issued; and, in proof thereof, we are referred to reports and tables showing diminished expenditure. A family, with a judicious out-door management, would be able to subsist with the occasional assistance of two, three, or four shillings' worth of food weekly. The cost of the family in the house would be about 18s. weekly; and yet the expenditure in the rural Union, where the "prohibitory order" is in force, has been reduced. No especial reference can now be made to the amount of unrelieved suffering which this fact discloses. Those who decline the order cannot now be followed to their homes; nor can another incident of this system be dwelt upon—its tendency to reduce the standard of wages. The employer is likely to get labour cheap, when he has a number of unemployed labourers to choose from, who have just preferred to "live on" in a half-starved condition, rather than submit to a system of prison discipline. To return to the allegation, that pauperism has been diminished in those Unions where the order is in operation. The reply is—that the statistics do not touch the question. They ought to be thrown aside as useless, until the condition of those who have refused to enter the Union walls has been ascertained. Have their numbers become thinned by the ravages of the[566] fever, which their "houseless heads and unfed sides" have unfitted them to resist? Have they been unable to pay their pittance of rent; and is the cottage, which was once theirs, now falling to decay? Have estates thus been thinned without the formality and notoriety of a warrant? Have the able-bodied left the Union, and become wanderers, seeking for an understocked labour-market; and, finding it not, are they becoming, through common lodging-house associations, half labourers, half vagrants—labouring to-day, begging to-morrow, and stealing the next? Is the inclination to wander growing into a passion? Are habits of strolling being formed? Is he gradually deteriorating to the half-savage state? Is this so? A great national question is involved. The French government know, by experience, the importance of a true knowledge of "Les Classes Dangereuses."

Now, if any of these applicants have become wanderers, or have migrated to distant towns where charities abound, or have been cut off by sickness, or have remained in a state of semi-starvation, the statistics would remain the same. Besides, these statistics embrace two periods; the present time, when an extremely rigid system of out-door relief is in action; and a past time, when the out-door management was loose, irregular, and rotten; and for the diminution of expenditure, arising from a sound system of out-door relief, no allowance has been made, the whole benefit of the economy being referred to the workhouse test.

It is probable much of the evil has been stayed, from the circumstance that the "system" has been carried into effect by human agency. A certificate of illness from the medical officer would exempt the individual from the operation of the rule. Now, the seeds of disease are oftentimes deeply hidden in the bodily frame; and the alleged throbbing or shooting pain, although the symptoms may not be seen, may have an existence, and be certified accordingly.

Then the relieving-officer, after relieving the case as one of sudden and urgent necessity to-day, may see the applicant again upon his next visit; and knowing that a case is urgent after forty-eight hours' fasting, and may be considered sudden, if two days' work only was obtained when four days was expected, he may be relieved on the same plea again, and again, and again. In point of fact, the relief is an allowance.

If this be the practice, a bad mode of out-door relief has grown into use, the worst peculiarities of the old method being involved in it. It is irregular, partial, and dependent on personal partialities and prejudices; and, if persisted in, would revive old times, when the overseer gave away, in the first place, to the bold, the insidious, and the designing, and modest merit was left to pick up the crumbs.

The result of an inquiry into the two other classes into which England is parochially divided would probably be, that many evils have been removed or lessened, that others have remained untouched, that much good has been secured, and that new abuses have crept in.

Take the Union of small parishes. An improvement has certainly been effected by the Union of these. A city or town, because it happened to be composed of a large number of small parishes, having no perceptible boundaries, but, in virtue of ancient usage or statute-law, was governed by so many independent petty powers. It does not require much study to ascertain what abuses would be likely to arise, or from what quarter they would probably come. It is likely that the round of petty magnates would be a small and cozy party; that a man, the moment he became initiated, would begin to ascend the ladder of fortune. Jobbery would flourish. Such things are not peculiar to England. In Spain and France they have been matter of observation. Read the following extract from Fabrice's account of the masters he served:—"Le Seigneur Manuel Ordonnez, mon maître, est un homme d'une piété profonde. On dit que, dès sa jeunesse, n'ayant en vue que le bien des pauvres, il s'y est attaché avec un zèle infatigable. Aussi ses soins ne sont-ils pas demeurés sans récompense: tout lui a prospéré. Quelle benediction! En faisant les affaires des pauvres, il s'est enriché."[567]

These abuses belong to the past, but their existence should not be forgotten. Pauperism would flourish. For a system of management, proverbially jealous of having its affairs exposed to the gaze of the ignorant vulgar, could not look with too curious an eye into the circumstances of those who applied for relief. The beadle who flourished in those days did not, as some affirm, derive his authority from his cocked hat or his gilded coat, but from the real power he exercised.

The overseers were elected with their will, or against it. They often served in a perpetual circle. The duty of relieving the poor was too often left to subordinate irresponsible officers, whose duties were neither expressed nor recognised. Their most arduous task was to keep their superior out of hot water. But what kind of cases were relieved, and under what circumstances, and what kind of cases were refused, and under what circumstances, is now mere matter—matter of tradition, and will become a mystery in the course of a few years. Many poor were relieved; but the bold, the idle, and the squalid had the best chance. Honest, humble poverty approached the overseer's door with fear and trembling, and the slightest rebuff or harsh word, which an importune application might occasion, would be sufficient to make her leave the door unrelieved. While the destitute confirmed pauper would annoy, insult, and extract relief, by the scandal of so much squalid destitution lying and crouching about the overseer's door.

Now what change has taken place? These parishes have been formed into Unions. The churchwardens and overseers of each parish form part of a Board of management. This Board of management is completed by the addition of a class hitherto unknown in parish matters, viz. the guardians who are elected from the parishioners, on grounds in which wealth, station, and public importance are elements. All repairs and alterations, and the supply of provisions, are subject to contract, and open to competition. The parish plumber can no longer make his fortune by the repair of the parish pump. All disbursements are recorded, and subjected to rigid inspection, and all receipts are duly accounted for.

But the poor, how do they fare? It is necessary to state, with reference to this point, that the peculiar politico-economic theories which have had such frequent expression in the letters, reports, and orders of the Poor-Law Commissioners, have also had their influence upon all persons connected with the administration of relief. The idea was, that a severe "house test" would nearly destroy pauperism. This dream, however, is passing away, and a more humane set of opinions are being engendered.

The circumstances of a city Union are widely different from those of the rural Union; and, therefore, many suggestions and strictures which have been made against the mode of administering relief in the latter are inapplicable to the former. In the rural Union, the chief difficulty is, that a long distance must be travelled before the application to the relieving-officer can be made, and relief obtained. And it becomes a matter of importance to know to what extent the local officers are able to perform their duty. In the Union of small parishes, these difficulties cannot exist, for the whole diameter may be traversed in half-an-hour. Then a relief office is built. It is situated in a poor neighbourhood. It is open a certain number of hours in each day; an officer is in attendance; and the bread and meat, and other kind of food, are in the building. These facts are known to the poor, to the magistrates, and to the police. The individual power of the overseer in these little parishes falls daily into disuetude. The poor man can obtain relief most readily at the office. He need not wait for the leisure moment of an overseer—deeply engaged in his private affairs. The poor know this, and do not apply to him. Occasionally an application is made to an overseer, and if he wish the case to be relieved, his most convenient practical course, is to submit the case to the relieving-officer, by a note, and then to put a question to the chairman at the next board-day.

It will be found that the evil to be apprehended is, that relief in certain[568] cases may be too easily obtained, and a class of paupers improperly encouraged. This, however, does not necessarily proceed from the Union, but from certain other wise notions respecting mendicancy and vagrancy.

A certain part of every workhouse is separated from the rest of the building, and appropriated to wayfarers. Formerly, at the close of day, a number of persons usually applied to the officers for lodging for the night. They were questioned as to their mode of livelihood, their object in travelling, the distance they had travelled, and the route; and these answers were tested by any means at hand. If the result was satisfactory, they were admitted, and allowed to pursue their way at an early hour in the morning, with an allowance of food. If the result was doubtful, or they were convicted of deceit, their application was either deferred, refused, or they were required to do work for the relief given. Then questions of age, sex, and degrees of health were considered. Now, relief precedes inquiry; and as these persons are relieved but once, no inquiry is made, and is in fact impossible. Now, if a man appears before an officer apparently destitute, he must be relieved forthwith. If the man is not relieved, the relieving-officer's situation and character are in jeopardy. And so the workhouse at night has become open house to all comers. The wards are filled with a strange group of beings. The very scum, not of the poor, but the vicious, are to be found in these wards. The man who attends these dens does his duty in the midst of revilings and cursings, and at the risk of his life. The poor man who is really "tramping" in search of work, and has not been able to get the threepence for his night's lodging, has not the benefit of this change. Fevers and other contagious diseases are likely to be generated and spread. Some inquiry has been made into this subject, but is by no means exhausted. Further inquiry should be made, and the connexion between vagrancy and a strict workhouse system should not be overlooked.

The third class into which the parishes and Unions of England have been divided in this article, viz. that of populous single parishes, differs from that which comprises Unions of small parishes in but few particulars. These parishes are generally very populous, and cover a small area. The duty of administering relief has always been heavy and onerous. The mode of management has generally been determined by local acts. A board of management has always existed. In some cases the overseers have been elected and paid, because much experience, and the devotion of much time, is necessary for the due performance of the duties. In other instances, unpaid overseers hold the responsibility, and are assisted by subordinate officers. Many of these parishes have defied the power of the Commissioners, and retained their independent authority. The Boards are composed of men of standing and business habits. They are generally well acquainted with the poor, and know much better how the relief fund should be expended, than those who see them only through the imperfect media of reports and statistics. Many novelties in management, enforced on Unions by the Commissioners, have been voluntarily adopted, and many time-honoured fictions have been exploded. In general, the proceedings of the Commissioners have not been to them satisfactory. The new project of district asylums for the reception of wayfarers may be given as an example.

These parishes, however, should not escape the inquiry; and a useful direction might be given to it, if the subject of classifications in workhouses were to be considered in connexion with these populous places. Not that special evils exist, but because the subject of classification on moral grounds might be more conveniently considered, and more severely tested.

We think that an improved classification in workhouses, in which moral consideration might be allowed to form an element, might be attempted. Very decided opinions have been expressed to the contrary. It is generally believed, and has been declared by high authorities, that the poor fund is a statutable fund, raised by compulsion, for the relief of destitution; and, therefore, the statutable purpose of the fund has reference only to the[569] fact of destitution, and not to moral qualities. That this may be true in cases of sudden necessity is not denied; but with respect to those cases where relief is likely to be permanent—as old age—or in those cases in which a period must elapse before the relief is withdrawn, the moral character of the individual must, and does, form a leading circumstance in the treatment. It is not said that the fact of giving or refusing relief should depend on moral considerations, but that the mode or manner should be determined by them. Take a case. A widow with a family, in the first month of her widowhood, applies for relief. During the first three months of her husband's illness, his savings were adequate to his necessities. And during the last three months, the weekly voluntary gathering of his brother workmen, or the allowance from his club, has sufficed; and he died without destitution actually coming to his door. His remains have been conveyed to the grave; and, with the balance of money from the friendly society, or trades' club, she has been supported to the end of the first month of her widowhood.

The other case is also a widow. But, as a wife, she was unthrifty and drunken, and she has not changed, for her sobriety was more than suspected on the day of the funeral. Here, there are no savings, no donations from friends, no allowance from a club. Her husband lived and died a pauper, was buried as a pauper, and his widow has determined to make the most of her destitution, and extract the utmost farthing from the reluctant guardians. Each of these cases must be relieved. As regards the fact of destitution, the latter case is the worst; but the frugal widow suffers the greatest deprivation. To the common observer, the state of the bad is one of pure misery, and the state of the other simply quiet, frugal, lowliness of condition. The fact, however, really is, that the good widow suffers the most keenly; and, excepting certain little matters of decency and cleanliness, is really the most destitute. The cry, "What will become of my children?" implies in itself a large amount of suffering. The thought scarcely occurs to the mind of the other. The treatment of these cases must be, and is different; and the difference is founded on moral grounds. In one case, if the relief were in money, it would be instantly transmitted into gin. Relief in kind must be resorted to, and be given in small quantities, and frequently; and even then she must be watched, or the bread would never reach the mouths of her children. In the other case, a liberal allowance in money, given in the first month of her widowhood, would be expended carefully, and if given promptly, before her "little home" has been broken up, she may be able in a few months to insure a livelihood, and become independent of the parish. These cases represent extremes. There is every variety of shade between them; and sometimes the case presents so mingled a yarn of laziness, and bodily weakness, ignorance, cunning, and imprudence, that the guardians scarcely know the proper treatment. Boards of guardians have frequently to deal with such cases, and do, without expressing it in words, dispose of them on moral grounds, although those in high places may be too much occupied with statistics and generalities to be aware of the fact.

The question, how far moral considerations can be allowed in the classification of workhouses, is one of difficulty, and all opinions and suggestions require to be cautiously and guardedly stated. This cannot be done now. It may, however, be thought that, in suggesting a moral classification, we are getting rid of some of our objections to the "strict workhouse system." We may therefore say, that while we think a sound system of out-door relief is the preferable mode of dealing with poverty and pauperism, yet we believe the workhouse to be a necessary adjunct. Under the most favourable circumstances, the Union-house or workhouse is a moral pest-house; but, in the large manufacturing town or populous metropolitan parish, it is a necessary evil. In cities, where wretchedness is seen in its most squalid condition, and where crime assumes its most varied and darkest hues, there must always be a mul[570]titude of human beings whose necessities the public charities cannot reach. There are diseases which hospitals will not admit, because they can end only in speedy dissolution, or because they are incurable and lingering. There are cases, compounded of deceit and misery, which private charity passes by. There are aged men and women who have either outlived their children or their affection, or who saw them depart many years since to foreign lands as emigrants, soldiers, sailors, or convicts. And there are young children whose parents have been cut off by fever. There are the children of sin and shame. There is the young woman, overtaken in her downward career by horrible diseases, and who is now pitilessly turned from the door of her who taught her to sin for money. There is the vagrant, the debauched, and the criminal, who are approaching the end of their career. There are those who, by unexpected circumstances, have been deprived of a shelter. And there are those who will not work, who have absconded, and whose wives and children are without home or food. For all these, and many more, an asylum must exist, and this asylum is the workhouse. Is it quite clear that this collection of human beings, representing so many varieties of virtue and vice, cannot be divided and distributed over the building on principles of classification, in which other elements than those of age, sex, and healthiness might be admitted? The subject is worthy of full investigation.

The subject of out-door relief might also be considered by the committee, not so much with a view to ascertain the actual mode in which it is dispensed, as to obtain suggestions from subordinate officers of improvement in its administration. The stoker of steam-engine can point out defects, and suggest simple remedies, which might escape the utmost penetration and official research of the principal engineer. This subject may be most conveniently considered under this head, because, in populous parishes, out-door relief is a prominent feature. In many cases, an apparently trivial change, which might be treated very contemptuously as a mere affair of detail, would lead to important reforms. In the report upon the Andover case, certain stringent remarks appear upon the neglect of the relieving-officer in not filling up the columns in his report-book headed "wages." Now, to those engaged in the administration of relief, the omission is not considered a great fault, it being in fact an omission of a mere form. Refer to the application and report-book, and the pauper description-book, prepared by the Commissioners, and the use of which is enforced in all Unions. They consist in a series of narrow columns. Each column is headed by an interrogatory, and appears to require a very brief answer. Refer to the column headed "weekly earning," &c. In this column, it is the duty of the relieving-officer to enter the amount of wages earned by the pauper. Now, in most populous parishes, the mode of living of those who receive relief is so irregular and precarious, as to preclude the possibility of ascertaining the amount of their earnings. The number of carpenters, bricklayers, smiths, and masons who receive relief is almost incredibly few. There are many who style themselves carpenters, &c. who have no knowledge of the trade. The bulk of the relieved poor consists of such a group as this—jobbing-smiths and carpenters, who are generally old or unskilful; aged men and women, and infirm persons, who do certain kinds of rough needlework, take care of children and sick people. There are cases where the head of the family is sickly, and whose employ is occasional. There are widows who do needlework by the piece—not for tradesmen, but for those who have received the work for those who received it from the tradesmen. There are those who wash and charr by the half or quarter of a day. There are men who make money-boxes, cigar-cases, children's toys, list-shoes, and cloth caps, and send their wives and children to sell them in the streets. If the weather is fine, they go singly; if the night be rainy, they form a miserable group at the corner of great thoroughfares. There are men who frequent quays, docks, markets, and coach-offices. There are those who sell in the streets, fruit, vegetables, and fish. There are those[571] who sweep crossings, and pick up bones, rags, and excrement; and there are those who say they do nothing; and the most searching inquiry is at fault, and yet they appear to thrive. In this multitude, there are thousands who do not apply for parochial relief once in ten years. Now, try to fix the wages of those who really compose the mass of pauperism in towns. Who can conscientiously do it? The most correct statement must be erroneous. By frequent visitation, the officer acquires an intimate knowledge of their condition. When the Board are disposing of the out-relief cases, it is by this knowledge the Board are guided. The column of brief answers, read by the clerk, are so many algebraic symbols to the majority, and convey no particular meaning; and this explains the conduct of the Andover Guardians, which is otherwise inexplicable. They must have had some data before them in dealing with cases, and the earnings of the paupers could not possibly be omitted. There is no doubt that the report-book was tacitly considered as a form necessary to be filled up, because there were orders to that effect, but as having no practical utility. And yet, how easily might the evil have been avoided! The individual who devised and drew up the form should have thought less of its statistical completeness, and more of its practical use. He should have seated himself in the Boardroom, while the business of the week was being transacted, a silent but observant spectator; and then, with his mind imbued with the fact, he might have drawn up a form of report-book which would have been useful, statistically and practically. The principle of the book would have been that of the merchant's ledger, in which, upon reference to a particular folio, an account of business transactions with a person during many years may be seen at a glance. Its construction would be obvious, and its chief feature might be easily shown. It would be a book of the largest size. Each case would have its own double page. On the left side, columns, as at present, might appear; and on the right would appear a most circumstantial account of the pauper's circumstances. If this page had been commenced in 1836, and Mary Miles had received relief, either continuously or from time to time, until 1846, the page would probably be filled; and its contents being read by the clerk upon each appearance of the pauper before the Board, a minute account of the character and circumstances of the case would be disclosed, together with the several amounts of relief ordered or refused, and the several opinions of the Board, as recorded at different times, which would enable the Board to dispense with the verbal statements of the relieving-officer. At present, a case, however often relieved, is essentially a new one. The Board of Guardians is a changing body; the individuals composing it may not attend regularly; and thus the relieving-officer becomes the only person conversant with the facts and merits of the case, and he is enabled, or compelled, to exercise a degree of authority or influence which is highly inexpedient.

How easily may these and other evils be remedied! But how, and by whom? This brings us back to our starting-point. An inquiry must be instituted into the actual working of the existing machinery. It must be conducted in a sober spirit, and without reference to theories; not in a reckless spirit of destruction, but of improvement. The question is, What remedial measures or improvement can be adopted in the administration of the English Poor-Laws? And if this paper has shown any imperfections, suggested any improvement, or should give the inquiry a useful direction, its object would be gained.[572]


Wanderungen eines alten Soldaten, von Wilhelm Baron Von Rahden, ehemaligem Hauptmann in Königl. Preuss. und Konigl. Niederländ. Diensten, designirtem Capitain im Kaiserl. Russ. Generalstabe, zuletzt Brigade-Général im Genie-Corps der Spanisch-Carlistischen Armee von Aragon und Valencia. Erster Theil. Befreiungs Kreig von 1813, 1814, and 1815. Berlin: 1846.

Military memoirs are a popular class of literature. If few non-military men make them their chief study, still fewer do not upon occasion willingly take them up and dip with pleasure into their animated pages. The meekest and most pacific, those in whose composition no spark of the belligerent and pugnacious is discernible, yet dwell with interest upon the strivings, dangers, and exploits of more martial spirits. Even the softer sex, whilst gracefully shuddering at the bloodshed and horrors of war, will ofttimes seriously incline to read of the disastrous chances, moving accidents, and hair-breadth 'scapes that checker a soldier's career. The poetical and the picturesque of military life appeal to the imagination, and act as counterpoise to the massacres and sufferings that painfully shock the feelings. Amidst the wave and rustle of silken banners, the glitter and clash of steel, the clang of the brazen trumpet, and hurra of the flushed victor, the blood that buys the triumph and soaks the turf vanishes or is overlooked; the moans of those who die upon the field, linger in hospital, or pine in stern captivity, are faintly heard, if not wholly drowned. The pomp and pageantry of war, the high aspirations and heroic deeds of warriors, too often make us forget the countless miseries the strife entails—the peaceful peasant's ravaged homestead, the orphan's tears, the widow's desolation.

Although the public mind dwells upon military matters less in England than in France and Germany, neither of these countries has, during the thirty years' peace, been more prolific than our own in books of a military character. We speak not of strategical works, but of the pleasant and sometimes valuable narratives of individual adventure that have flowed in abundance from the pens of soldiers of every class and grade. Not a branch of the service, from the amphibious corps of the marines to the aristocratic cohorts of the guards, but has paid tribute, in many cases a most liberal one, to the fund of military literature. The sergeant and the general, the lieutenant and the lieutenant-colonel, the showy hussar and the ponderous dragoon, the active rifleman and the stately grenadier—men of all ranks and arms—have, upon hanging up the sabre, taken up the pen, and laboured more or less successfully to add their mite to the stores of history and stock of entertainment. The change from the excitement and bustle of active service to the monotony and inertion of peacetime, is indeed great, and renders occupation essential to stave off ennui. In ruder days than the present, the dice-box and pottle-pot were almost sole resources. In the rare intervals of repose afforded by a more stirring and warlike age, the soldier knew no other remedies, against the tædium vitæ that assailed him. When "wars were all over, and swords were all idle," "the veteran grew crusty as he yawned in the hall," and he drank. Now it is otherwise. Refinement has driven out debauchery, and the unoccupied militaire, superior in breeding and education to his brother in arms of a former century, often fills up his leisure by telling of the battles, sieges, and fortunes he has passed; reciting them, not, like Othello, verbally and to win a lady's favour, but in more permanent black and white, for the instruction and amusement of his fellows.

Whilst paying a well-merited tribute to the talents of our English military authors, we willingly acknowledge the claims of men, who, [573]although born in another clime, and speaking a different tongue, are yet allied to us by blood, have fought under the same standard, and bled in the same cause. One of these, a German officer who shared the reverses and triumphs of the three eventful years, 1813 to 1815, beginning at Lutzen and ending with Waterloo, has recently published a volume of memoirs. It contains much of interest, and well deserves a notice in our pages.

William Baron von Rahden is a native of Silesia. His father, an officer in the Prussian service, was separated from his wife, after ten years' wedlock, by one of those divorces so easily procurable in Germany, and returned to Courland, his native country, leaving his children to their mother's care. At the age of six years, William, the second son, was adopted by a Silesian nobleman, a soldier by profession, who had served under Frederick the Great, and who, although he had long left the service, still retained in full force his military feelings and characteristics. The apartments of his country house were hung with portraits of his warlike ancestors; the officers of the neighbouring garrison were his constant guests. Thus it is not surprising that young Rahden's first associations and aspirations were all military, and that he eagerly looked forward to the day when he should don the uniform and signalise himself amongst his country's defenders. His wishes were early gratified. When only ten years old, he was sent to the military school at Kalisch.

The novitiate of a Prussian officer at the commencement of the present century was a severe ordeal, the road to rank any thing but a flowery path, and it was often with extreme unwillingness that the noble families of South Prussia yielded their sons to the tender mercies of the Kalisch college. The boys had frequently to be hunted out in the forests, where, through terror of the drill or in obedience to their parents, they had sought refuge, and when caught they were conducted in troops to their destination. On reaching the Prosna, a little river near Kalisch, they were stripped naked, their hair was cut close, and they were then driven into the water, whence, after a thorough washing, they emerged upon the opposite bank, there to be metamorphosed into Prussian warriors. The same operation, with the exception of the bath in the Prosna, was undergone by the willing recruits. Baron von Rahden gives a humorous account of the equipment of these infant soldiers, and of his own appearance in particular.

"The little lad of ten years old, broader than he was long, with his closely cropped head, upon the hinder part of which a bunch of hair was left, whereto to fasten a tail eight or ten inches long, and with a stiff stock over which his red cheeks puffed out like cushions, was altogether a most comical figure. The old uniform coats originally blue, but now all faded and threadbare, with facings of a brick-dust colour and great leaden buttons, never fitted the young bodies to which they were allotted; they were always either too long and broad, or too narrow and short. The same was the case with the other portions of the uniform, which were handed down from one generation of cadets to another, without reference to any thing but the number affixed to them. I got No. 24; I was heir to some lanky long-legged urchin, into whose narrow garments I had to squeeze my unwieldy figure. A yellow waistcoat of immoderate length, short white breeches, fastened a great deal too tight below the knee, grey woollen stockings and half-boots, composed the costume, which was completed by a little three-cornered hat, pressed low down over the eyes, with the view of imparting somewhat of the stern aspect of a veteran corporal to the red and white face of the juvenile wearer."

Such was the clothing of Prussia's future defenders. Their fare was of corresponding quality; abundant, but coarse in the extreme. The harsh and unswerving enactments of the great Frederic had as yet been but little amended. Moreover, by the system of military economy existing in 1804, both food and raiment were lawfully made a source of profit to the captain of this company of cadets. The director of the establishment Major Von Berg, was an excellent man, zealous for the improvement of his pupils, and striving his utmost to[574] instil into them a military spirit. Under his superintendence strict discipline was maintained, and instruction advanced apace.

The year 1806 brought the French into Prussia. Marshal Ney visited Kalisch, and placed a score of cadets in the newly-formed Polish regiments. In due time the others, as they were given to understand, were to be similarly disposed of. Young Rahden wrote to his adopted father, begging to be removed from the college, lest he should be made to serve with the enemies of his country. But the old officer looked further forward than the impatient boy; he knew that it was no time for the youth of Prussia to abandon the military career; that the day would come when their country would claim their services. His reply was prompt, brief, and decided. "I will not take you home," he wrote; "for then you will learn nothing. Be a Polish or a French cadet, I care not; only become an honourable soldier, and all that is in my power will I do for you. But do not come to me like our young officers from Jena; for if you do, you will get neither bread nor water, but a full measure of disgrace. Your faithful father, T." This letter made a strong impression upon Von Rahden, and he nerved himself to endure what he now viewed as inevitable. For another year he remained at Kalisch, until, in December 1807, news came of the approach of Prince Ferdinand of Pless, who had thrown himself, with a few thousand men, between the French army, then on its march to Poland, and the Bavarians and Wurtembergers under Jerome Buonaparte. This intelligence caused universal alarm in the college of Kalisch, now become French.

"On the broad road in front of our barracks, large bodies of Polish boors, in coarse linen frocks, were drilled for the service of Napoleon by officers in Prussian uniforms; certainly a singular mixture. At the cry—'The Prussians are coming!' they all ran away, the officers the very first, and this might have given me an inkling of the reasons and motives of my father's severe letter. Under cover of the general confusion, a Prussian artilleryman muffled me and six other Silesian cadets in the linen frocks of the recruits, and hurried us off through field and forest, over bog and sand, to the Prince of Pless, whom we fell in with after thirty-six hours' wanderings. We were all weary to death. Nevertheless, five of my companions were immediately placed amongst the troops, who continued their route without delay; only myself and a certain Von M——, still younger than me, were left behind, as wholly unable to proceed. Of what passed during the next six weeks, I have not the slightest recollection. I afterwards learned that I had been seized with a violent nervous fever, the result of fatigue and excitement, and that I was discovered by a Bavarian officer in a Jew tavern near Medzibor, close to the frontier. The uniform beneath my smock-frock, and a small pocket-book, told my name and profession, and under a flag of truce I was sent into Breslaw, then besieged, to my mother, whom I had not seen for seven years."

After two years passed in idleness, young Von Rahden was attached as bombardier to the artillery at Glatz, and found himself under the command of a certain Lieutenant Holsche, an officer of impetuous bravery, but somewhat rough and hasty, and apt to show slight respect to his superiors. At that time, 1809, the Duke of Brunswick was recruiting at Nachod in Bohemia, within two German miles of Glatz, his famous black corps, the death's-head and memento mori men—the Corps of Revenge, as it was popularly called in Germany. Numbers of Prussians, officers of all arms, left their homes in Silesia, where they vegetated on a scanty half-pay, to swell his battalions; and even from the garrison of Glatz officers and soldiers daily deserted to him, eager to exchange inaction for activity. Subsequently, many of these were tried and severely punished for their infringement of discipline, and over-eagerness in the cause of oppressed Germany, but the year 1813 again found them foremost in the ranks of their country's defenders.

On a certain morning, subsequent to Von Rahden's arrival at Glatz, the young artillery cadets were assembled on the parade-ground outside the gates of the fortress, and went through their exercise with four light guns,[575] drawn, as was then the custom, by recruits instead of horses. Holsche, who was also known as the "Straw-bonnet" commandant, from his desperate defence of a detached work of the fort of Silberberg, which bore that name, was present. Although usually free and jocose with his subordinates, on that day he was grave and preoccupied, and twisted his black mustache with a thoughtful air. It was an oppressive and stormy morning, and distant thunder mingled with the sound of cannon, which the wind brought over from Bohemia.

"By a succession of marches and flank movements, Holsche took us through the river Neisse, which flowed at the extremity of the parade-ground, and was then almost dry. We proceeded across the country, and finally halted in a shady meadow. Here the word of command brought us round the lieutenant, who addressed us in a suppressed voice:—'Children,' said he, pointing towards Bohemia, 'yonder will I lead you; there you will be received with open arms. There, horses, not men, draw the guns, and many of you will be made sergeants and even officers. Will you follow me?' A loud and unanimous hurra was the reply. For a quarter of an hour on we went, over hedge and ditch, at a rapid pace. A heavy rain soaked the earth and rendered it slippery, the wheels of the gun-carriages cut deep into the ground, until we panted and nearly fell from our exertions to get them along. Suddenly the word was given to halt. 'Boys,' cried the lieutenant, 'many of you are heartily sick of this work; that I plainly see. Listen, therefore! I will not have it said that I compelled or over-persuaded any one. He who chooses may return, not to the town, but home to his mother. You children, in particular,' he added, stepping up to the first gun, to which five young lads, of whom I was the least, were attached as bombardiers, 'you children must remain behind.' Against this decision we all protested. We would not go back, we screamed at the top of our voices. Holsche seemed to reflect. After a short pause, the tallest and stoutest fellow in the whole battery came to the front, and in a voice broken by sobs, begged the lieutenant to let him go home to his mother. 'Oho!' shouted Holsche, 'have I caught you, you buttermilk hero? Boys!' he continued, addressing himself to all of us, 'how could you believe that my first proposal was a serious one? I only wished to ascertain how many cowards there were amongst you. Thank God, there is but one! Help me to laugh at the fellow!' A triple shout of laughter followed the command; then 'Right about' was the word, and in an hour's time, weary and wet through, we were again in our barracks."

The pluck and hardihood displayed on this occasion by the boy-bombardier won the favour of Holsche, who took him into the society of the officers, gave him private lessons in mathematics, and did all he could to bring him forward in his profession. But, soon afterwards, Rahden's destination was altered, and, instead of continuing in the artillery, he was appointed to the second regiment of Silesian infantry, now the eleventh of the Prussian line. In this regiment he made his first campaigns, and served for nearly twenty years. In the course of the war he frequently fell in with his friend Holsche, and we shall again hear of that eccentric but gallant officer.

The year 1813 found Von Rahden, then nineteen years of age, holding a commission as second lieutenant in the regiment above named, and indulging in brilliant day-dreams, in which a general's epaulets, laurel crowns, and crosses of honour, made a conspicuous figure. But a very small share of these illusions was destined to realisation. For the time, however, and until experience dissipated them, they served to stimulate the young soldier to exertion, and to support him under hardship and suffering. Such stimulus, however, was scarcely needed. The hour was come for Germany to start from her long slumber of depression, and to send forth her sons, even to the very last, to victory or death. The disasters of the French in Russia served as signal for her uprising.

"The great events which the fiery sign in the heavens (the comet of 1811) was supposed to forerun, came to pass in the last months of the following year. The French bulletin of the 5th December 1812, announced[576] the terrible fate of the Grande Armée, and removed the previously existing doubt, whether it were possible to humble the invincible Emperor and his presumptuous legions. It was a sad fate for veteran soldiers, grown grey in the harness, to be frozen to death, or, numbed and unable to use their weapons, to be defencelessly murdered. Such was the lot of the French, and although they were then our bitterest foes, to-day we may well wish that they had met a death more suitable to brave men. At Malo-Jaroslawetz, at Krasnoi, and by the Beresina, whole battalions of those frozen heroes were shot down, unable to resist. Do the Russians still commemorate such triumphs? Hardly, one would fain believe. No man of honour, in our sense of the word, would now command such massacres; for only when our foes are in full possession of their physical and moral strength, is victory glorious. But at that time I lacked the five-and-thirty years' experience that has enabled me to arrive at these conclusions; I was almost a child, and heartily did I rejoice that the whole of the Grande Armée was captured, slain, or frozen. The joy I felt was universal, if that may serve my excuse.

"Like some wasted and ghastly spectre, hung around with rags, its few rescued eagles shrouded in crape, the remains of the great French army recrossed the German frontier. Sympathy they could scarce expect in Germany; pity they found, and friendly arms and fostering care received the unfortunates. So great a mishap might well obliterate hostile feelings; and truly, it is revolting to read, in the publications of the time, that 'at N—— or B—— the patriotic inhabitants drove the French from their doors, refusing them bread and all refreshment.' Then, however, I rejoiced at such barbarity, which appeared to me quite natural and right. One thing particularly astonished me; it was, that amongst the thirty thousand fugitives, there were enough marshals, generals, and staff-officers to supply the whole army before its reverses. Either they had better horses to escape upon, or better cloaks and furs to wrap themselves in; thus not very conscientiously fulfilling the duty of every officer, which is to share, in all respects, the dangers and fatigues of his subordinates."[48]

The hopes and desires of every Prussian were now concentrated on one single object—the freedom of the Fatherland. Breslaw again became the focus of the whole kingdom. From all sides thousands of volunteers poured in, and the flower of Prussia's youth joyfully exchanged the comforts and superfluities of home for the perils and privations of a campaigner's life. Universities and schools were deserted; the last remaining son buckled on hunting-knife and shouldered rifle and went forth to the strife, whilst the tender mother and anxious father no longer sought to restrain the ardour of the Benjamin of their home and hearts. All were ready to sacrifice their best and dearest for their country's liberation. Women became heroines; men stripped themselves of their earthly wealth for the furtherance of the one great end. In Breslaw the enthusiasm was at the hottest. In an idle hour, Von Rahden had sauntered to the college, the Aula Leopoldina, and stood at an open window listening to a lecture on anthropology, delivered by a young, but already celebrated professor. Little enough of the learned discourse was intelligible to the juvenile lieutenant, but still he listened, when suddenly the stillness in the school was broken by the clang of wind instruments.


The people shouted joyful hurras, casements were thrown open, and thronged with women waving their handkerchiefs. Professor and scholars hurried to the windows and into the street. What had happened? It was soon known. A score of couriers, blowing furious blasts upon their small post-horns, dashed through the town-gates, and the next instant a shout of "War! War!" burst from ten thousand throats. The couriers brought intelligence of the alliance just contracted at Kalisch between the Emperor Alexander and the King of Prussia.

When the clamour and rejoicing amongst the students had a little subsided, their teacher again addressed them. All were silent. Twisting a small silver pencil-case between his thin fingers, he began as follows: "My young friends! It would be difficult to resume the thread of a lecture thus abruptly broken by the sound of the war-trumpet. At this moment our country demands of us other things than a quiet abode in the halls of study. I propose to you, therefore, that we all, without exception, at once join the ranks of our country's defenders, and henceforward wield the sword instead of the pen." This patriotic proposal was received with joyous applause. Professor Steffens and hundreds of his hearers left the lecture-room, exchanged the university gown for the uniform, and from that day were the pith and marrow of the black band of Lutzow. It is matter of history how Henry Steffens, at the head of his wild Jägers, greatly distinguished himself in the field, won the Iron Cross, and by his animated eloquence and noble example, drew thousands of brave defenders around the standard of German independence. Thirty-two years later, at Berlin, Baron von Rahden followed his mortal remains to their last resting-place.

Other examples of devotion, less known but not less touching, are cited in the volume before us. When the King of Prussia's celebrated proclamation "To my People," had raised German enthusiasm to its highest pitch, and the noble-hearted women of Silesia sent their jewels to the public treasury, replacing them by iron ornaments, a young girl at Breslaw, who had nothing of value to contribute, cut off the luxuriant golden tresses that adorned her graceful head, and sold them, that she might add her mite to the patriotic fund. The purchaser gave a high price, but yet made an enormous profit; for no sooner was the story known, than hundreds of those then arming for the fight flew to obtain a golden hair-ring, to wear as a talisman in the battle-field. This heroine, Baron von Rahden believes, was a Fraulein von Scheliha, a name noted in the annals of Prussian patriotism. The three sons of a Herr von Scheliha, officers in various regiments, fell in the campaign of 1813. Their mother and only sister died of broken hearts, and the father, bowed down under his grief, sold his estate and country-house, which now only served to remind him of his losses. The King of Prussia sent him the Iron Cross; and that and the sympathy of all who knew his sad history, were the only remaining consolations of the bereaved old man. A Silesian count, named Reichenbach, wrote to the King in the following terms: "If it please your majesty to allow me, I will send five thousand measures of corn and my draught oxen to the military stores for rations, and my best horses to the —— regiment of cavalry; I will equip all the men on my estates capable of bearing arms, and they shall join the —— regiment of infantry, and I will pay ten thousand thalers into the military chest. For my three sons I crave admission into the army as volunteers. And, finally, I humbly implore of your majesty that I myself; who, although advanced in years, am strong and willing, may be permitted to march by their side, to teach then to fight and, if needs be, to die. Meanwhile, my wife and daughters shall remain at home to prepare lint, sew bandages, and nurse the sick and wounded."

A Major Reichenbach commanded Von Rahden's battalion, and under his guidance the young lieutenant first smelled powder. It was at Lutzen, a bloody fight, and no bad initiation for an unfledged soldier. Although modest and reserved when speaking of his own exploits, it is not difficult to discern that on this, as on many subsequent occasions, the baron[578] bore himself right gallantly. At eleven o'clock the army of the Allies stood in order of battle, Von Rahden's battalion, which formed part of General Kleist's division, in the centre, and well to the front. At a distance of six or eight hundred paces, the hostile masses moved to and fro, alternately enveloped in clouds of dust, and disappearing behind trees and houses. The fight began with artillery. "The first round-shot whizzed close over the heads of the battalion, and buried itself in the ground a few hundred paces in our rear. A second immediately followed, carrying away a few bayonets and the drum-major's cane. Each time the whole battalion, as if by word of command, bobbed their heads, and the men pressed closer together. In front of us sat our commandant, Count Reichenbach, reining in his splendid English roan, which snorted and curveted with impatience. The count had not bowed his head; he had made the Rhine campaigns, and a cannon-ball was nothing new to him. He turned to the battalion, slapping his leg with his right hand, whilst a comical twitching of his nose and at the corner of his mouth betrayed his discontent. 'Men!' said he, 'balls that whistle do not hit, so it is useless to fear them. Henceforward, let no one dare to stoop.' Hardly had the words left his lips when a third shot passed close over his head and dashed into the battalion. This time very few made the respectful salutation which had occasioned the count's reproof, but astonishment and horror were visible on every countenance when we saw our dear comrades struck down by our side.

"After an hour's cannonade the infantry advanced. Skirmishers were thrown out, and the musketry came into play; and truly, often as I have been in action, such firing as at Lutzen I never since heard. From about mid-day till nine at night, one uninterrupted roll; not even for a moment were single shots to be distinguished. My old comrades will bear witness to the truth of this.

"Our light company hastened forward as skirmishers, Lieutenant Merkatz led them on, and, with waving sword and a joyful shout, rushed towards the foe, full a hundred paces in front of his men. Soon the wounded straggled, and were carried past us by dozens—amongst others Anselme, captain of the company. A rifle-ball had shattered his right shoulder. When I saw him, twenty-five years later, as a general, he still carried his arm in a sling, fragments of bone frequently came away, and his sufferings were very great. Such wounds as his no gold, or title, or decorations can repay; in the consciousness of having done one's duty the only compensation is to be found."

Von Rahden was soon called upon to replace a wounded officer, and he hurried to the front. Before he reached the skirmishers, he met the dead body of the young prince of Hesse-Homburg, who served as staff-officer in the first regiment of Silesian infantry. He had entered action as he would have gone to parade, in full dress, with a star upon his breast, and wearing all the insignia of his rank. General Ziethen remonstrated with him on the imprudence of thus rendering himself a conspicuous mark, but he was deaf to the warning, and refused to take off his star. "This," said he, "is the soldier's most glorious parade-ground." The next moment a ball struck him, and he fell mortally wounded from his horse.

We shall not follow Baron Von Rahden through the bloody day of Lutzen, in the course of which he received a wound, not sufficiently severe, however, to compel him to leave the field. Neither of that action, nor of any subsequent one, does he give a general account, but professes merely to relate what he himself saw. As a subaltern officer, his sphere of observation was, of course, very limited. He recites his own adventures and the proceedings of his battalion, or, at most, of the division to which it was attached, and is careful to name those officers who particularly distinguished themselves. He urges the surviving veterans of those eventful campaigns to follow his example, and publish their reminiscences, as a means of rescuing from unmerited oblivion the names of many who especially signalised themselves whilst defending the holy cause of German independence. It was a period prolific in heroes; and if the manœuvres[579] and discipline of the Prussian army had been more in proportion with the gallant spirit that animated the majority of its members, doubtless the struggle would have been briefer. As it was, the campaign of 1813 opened with a reverse which it was vainly endeavoured to cloak by mendacious bulletins. "The nobly fought and gloriously won action of Gross-Gröschen," said the official accounts of the battle of Lutzen. But stubborn facts soon refuted the well-intended but injudicious falsehoods, propounded to maintain the moral courage of the nation. The French entered Dresden, driving out the rear-guard of the retreating Allies, who, on the evening of the 12th of May, established their camp, or rather their bivouac, for tents they had none, near Bautzen, and fortified their position by intrenchments and redoubts. On the 20th the fight began; 28,000 Prussians and 70,000 Russians, so says the baron, against 150,000 French. A large disproportion; and, moreover, the troops of the Allies were not made the most of by their commanders. General Kleist's corps, consisting of but 5000 men, was left from ten in the morning till late in the afternoon to defend itself unassisted against over-powering numbers of the French. And most gallant their defence was. They fought before the eyes of both armies, on the heights of Burk, which served as a stage for the exhibition of their courage, and of the calm skill of their commander. Von Rahden records the fact, that the Emperor Alexander sent several times to Kleist to express his praise and admiration; and that his last message was, that he could kiss Kleist's feet (a thorough Russian testimony of respect) for his splendid behaviour with the advanced guard. At length large bodies of the French having moved up to support the assailants, a reinforcement was sent to Kleist to cover his retreat. It consisted of Von Rahden's battalion, which, on the retrograde movement being commenced, was for some time completely isolated, and bore the whole brunt of the fight. Orders were given to clear a corn-field which afforded shelter to the enemy. Here is a spirited description of the fight that ensued.

"I led the skirmishes of the first and second company. We entered the field, and instantly found ourselves within fifteen or twenty paces of the French marines, whom Napoleon had attached to the army, and whom we recognised by the red lace on their shakos. We were so near each other, that when our opponents fired I felt the heat of the burnt powder. The battalion was about fifty paces behind us, but on rather higher ground. It deployed into line, and fired a volley over our heads, which some of the bullets missed by a trifle. A very unpleasant sensation and critical moment; and many of my men showed an eagerness to get out of this double fire, or at least to shelter themselves from it as much as possible. The bugler tried to run; I caught him by the coat skirt, and ordered him to sound the assembly, meaning to retire with my skirmishers to the right flank of the battalion. He obeyed, clapped his bugle to his lips, and began a quavering call. Suddenly the sounds ceased, and the bugler fell backwards, spitting and sputtering with his mouth, stamping and striking out with his feet and hands; then, jumping up, he ran off like a madman. A bullet had entered the sound-hole of his bugle. At the same moment I felt a hard rap on the right hip, and was knocked down. It was a canister-shot; the blood poured out in streams, and, before I could join the battalion, my boot was full of it. My comrades were hard at work; after a few volleys, they kept up an incessant file-fire. They were drawn up in line, only two deep, the third rank having been taken for skirmishers. Luckily the enemy had no cavalry at hand, or it would have been all up with us, for we should never have been able to form a square. It was all that the officers and serrafiles could do to keep the men in their places. The French infantry surrounded us on three sides, but they kept behind the hedges, and amongst the high corn, and showed no disposition to come to close quarters, when the bayonet and but-end would have told their tale. On the other hand, from the adjacent heights the artillery mowed us down with their canister. The fight lasted about an hour; half a one more, and to a certainty we should all have been annihilated or prisoners, for we were wholly unsup[580]ported. Sporschil and other writers have said that Blucher sent General Kleist a reinforcement of three thousand infantry. To that I reply that our battalion was at most six hundred strong, and I did not see another infantry soldier in the field. The other troops had retired far across the plain. Suddenly the earth shook beneath our feet, and two magnificent divisions of Russian cuirassiers charged to the rescue. The French infantry sought the shelter of their adjacent battery, and we retreated wearily and slowly towards our lines. The sun, which had shone brightly the whole day, had already set when we reached a small village, and again extended our skirmishers behind the walls and hedges. Once more the earth trembled; and, with unusual rapidity for an orderly retreat, back came the brilliant cuirassiers, with bloody heads, and in most awful confusion. The French infantry and artillery had given them a rough reception. A few hostile squadrons followed, and, as soon as the Russians were out of the way, I opened fire with my skirmishers; but I was ordered to cease, for the distance was too great, and it was mere waste of ammunition."

Von Rahden's hurt was but a flesh wound, and did not prevent his sharing in the next day's fight, and in the retreat which concluded it. He was then obliged to go into hospital, and only on the last day of June rejoined his regiment in cantonments between Strehlen and Breslaw. At the latter town he visited his mother. She had mourned his death, of which she had received a false account from a soldier of his regiment, who had seen him struck down by a bullet at Lutzen, and had himself been wounded and carried from the field before Von Rahden regained consciousness and rejoined his corps.

The truce which, during the summer of 1813, afforded a brief repose to the contending armies, was over, and the cause of the Allies strengthened by the accession of Austria. Hostilities recommenced; and on the 27th August we find our young lieutenant again distinguishing himself, at the head of his sharpshooters, in the gardens of Dresden. Several wet days, bad quarters, and short commons, had pulled down the strength and lowered the spirits of the Allied troops. Exhausted and discouraged, they showed little appetite for the bloody banquet to which they were invited. Suddenly a hurra, but no very joyous one, ran through the ranks. The soldiers had been ordered to utter it, in honour of the Emperor Alexander and King of Prussia, who now, with their numerous and brilliant staff, rode along the whole line of battle, doubtless with the intention of raising the sunken spirits of the men. Close in front of the baron's battalion the two monarchs halted; and there it was that General Moreau was mortally wounded, at Alexander's side, by a French cannon-shot. The following details of his death are from the work of a well-known Russian military author, General Michailefski-Danielefski:—"Moreau was close to the Emperor Alexander, who stood beside an Austrian battery, against which the French kept up a heavy fire. He requested the Russian sovereign to accompany him to another eminence, whence a better view of the battle-field was obtainable. 'Let your majesty trust to my experience,' said Moreau, and turning his horse, he rode on, the emperor following. They had proceeded but a few paces, when a cannon-ball smashed General Moreau's right foot, passed completely through his horse, tore away his left calf, and injured the knee. All present hurried to assist the wounded man. His first words, on recovering consciousness, were—'I am dying; but how sweet it is to die for the right cause, and under the eyes of so great a monarch!' A litter was formed of Cossack lances; Moreau was laid upon it, wrapped in his cloak, and carried to Koitz, the nearest village. There he underwent, with the courage and firmness of a veteran soldier, the amputation of both legs. The last bandage was being fastened, when two round-shot struck the house, and knocked down a corner of the very room in which he lay. He was conveyed to Laun, in Bohemia, and there died, on the 2d of September. Such was the end of the hero of Hohenlinden."

General Michailofski, it must be observed, has been accused by Sporschil of stretching the truth a little, when by so doing he could pay a compliment to his deceased master.[581] The adulatory words which he puts into Moreau's mouth, may therefore never have been uttered by that unfortunate officer. Some little inexactitudes in the account above quoted are corrected by Captain Von Rahden. Moreau's litter was composed of muskets, and not of lances; he was taken to Räcknitz, and not to Koitz; and so forth. Upon the 2d of September, Von Rahden and eighteen other Prussian officers, stood beside the bed whereon Moreau had just expired, and divided amongst them a black silk waistcoat that had been worn by the deceased warrior. "I still treasure up my shred of silk," says the baron, "as a soldierly relic, and as I should a tatter of a banner that had long waved honourably aloft, and at last tragically fallen. In these days few care about such memorials, and a railway share is deemed more valuable. Practically true; but horribly unpoetical!"

In 1813, one battle followed hard upon the heels of the other. It was a war of giants, and small breathing-time was given. The echoes of the fight had scarcely died away at Dresden, when they were reawakened in the fertile vale of Toeplitz. The action of Kulm was a glorious one for the Allies. On the first day, the 29th of August, the Russians, under Ostermann Tolstoy, reaped the largest share of laurels; on the 30th, Kleist and the Prussians nobly distinguished themselves. The latter, after burning their baggage, made a forced march over the mountains, and fell upon the enemy's rear on the afternoon of the second day's engagement. Here Von Rahden was again opposed to his old and gallant acquaintances the French marines, who, refusing to retreat, were completely exterminated. The action over, his battalion took up a position near Arbesau, with their front towards Kulm. On the opposite side of the road a Hungarian regiment was drawn up.

"The sun had set, and distant objects grew indistinct in the twilight, when we suddenly saw large masses of troops approach us. These were the French prisoners, numbering, it was said, eight or ten thousand. First came General Vandamme, on horseback, his head bound round with a white cloth: a Cossack's lance had grazed his forehead. Close behind him were several generals, (Haxo and Guyot;) and then, at a short interval, came twenty or thirty colonels and staff-officers. On the right of these marched an old iron-grey colonel, with two heavy silver epaulets projecting forwards from under his light-blue great-coat, the cross of the Legion of Honour on his breast, a huge chain with a bunch of gold seals and keys dangling from his fob. He had been captured by very forbearing foes, and he strode proudly and confidently along. He was about ten paces from the head of our battalion, which was drawn up in column of sections, when suddenly three or four of our Hungarian neighbours leaped the ditch, and one of them, with the speed of light, snatched watch and seals from the French colonel's pocket. Captain Von Korth, who commanded our No. 1 company, observed this, sprang forward, knocked the blue-breeched Hungarians right and left, took the watch from them, and restored it to its owner. The latter, with the ease of a thorough Frenchman, offered it, with a few obliging words, to Captain Von Korth, who refused it by a decided gesture, and hastened back to his company. All this occurred whilst the French prisoners marched slowly by, and the captain had not passed the battalion more than ten or fifteen paces, when he turned about, and with the cry of "Vive le brave capitaine Prussien!" threw chain and seals into the middle of our company. The watch he had detached and put in his pocket. Von Korth offered ten and even fifteen louis d'ors for the trinkets, but could never discover who had got them; whoever it was, he perhaps feared to be compelled to restore them without indemnification."

"The Emperor Alexander received Vandamme, when that general was brought before him as prisoner, with great coolness, but nevertheless promised to render his captivity as light as possible. Notwithstanding that assurance, Vandamme was sent to Siberia. On his way thither, the proud and unfeeling man encountered many a hard word and cruel taunt, the which I do not mean to justify, although he had richly earned them by his numerous acts of injustice and oppres[582]sion. In the spring of 1807, he had had his headquarters in the pretty little town of Frankenstein in Silesia, and, amongst various other extortions, had compelled the authorities to supply him with whole sackfuls of the delicious red filberts which grow in that neighbourhood. When, upon his way to the frozen steppes, he chanced to halt for a night in this same town of Frankenstein, the magistrates sent him a huge sack of his favourite nuts, with a most submissive message, to the effect that they well remembered his Excellency's partiality to filberts, and that they begged leave to offer him a supply, in hopes that the cracking of them might beguile the time, and occupy his leisure in Siberia."

At Kulm the captain of Von Rahden's company was slain. He had ridden up to a French column, taking it, as was supposed, for a Russian one, and was killed by three of the enemy's officers before he found out his mistake. Each wound was mortal; one of his assailants shot him in the breast, another drove his sword through his body, and the third nearly severed his head from his shoulders with a sabre-cut. The day after the battle, before sunrise, Von Rahden awakened a non-commissioned officer and three men, and went to seek and bury the corpse. It was already stripped of every thing but the shirt and uniform coat; they dug a shallow grave under a pear-tree, and interred it. The mournful task was just completed when a peasant came by. Von Rahden called him, showed him the captain's grave, and asked if he might rely upon its not being ploughed up. "Herr Preusse," was the answer, "I promise you that it shall not; for the ground is mine, and beneath this tree your captain shall rest undisturbed." The promise was faithfully kept. In August 1845, the baron revisited the spot. The tree still stood, and the soldier's humble grave had been respected.

Whilst wandering over the field of battle, followed by Zänker, his sergeant, Von Rahden heard a suppressed moaning, and found amongst the brushwood, close to the bank of a little rivulet, a sorely wounded French soldier. The unfortunate fellow had been hit in three or four places. One ball had entered behind his eyes, which projected, bloody and swollen, from their sockets, another had shattered his right hand, and a third had broken the bones of the leg. He could neither see, nor move, nor die; he lay in the broad glare of the sun, parched with thirst, listening to the ripple of the stream, which he was unable to reach. In heart-rending tones he implored a drink of water. Six-and-thirty hours had he lain there, he said, suffering agonies from heat, and thirst, and wounds. "In an instant Zänker threw down his knapsack, filled his canteen, and handed it to the unhappy Frenchman, who drank as if he would never leave off. When at last satisfied, he said very calmly, 'Stop, friend! one more favour; blow my brains out!' I looked at Zänker, and made a sign with my hand, as much as to say, 'Is your gun loaded?' Zänker drew his ramrod, ran it into the barrel quite noiselessly, so that the wounded man might not hear, and nodded his head affirmatively. Without a word, I pointed to a thicket about twenty paces off, giving him to understand that he was not to fire till I had reached it, and, hurrying away, I left him alone with the Frenchman. Ten minutes passed without a report, and then, on turning a corner of the wood, I came face to face with Zänker. 'I can't do it, lieutenant,' said he. 'Thrice I levelled my rifle, but could not pull the trigger.' He had left the poor French sergeant-major—such four gold chevrons on his coat-sleeve denoted him to be—a canteen full of water, had arranged a few boughs above his head to shield him from the sun, and as soon as we reached the camp, he hastened to the field hospital to point out the spot where the wounded man lay, and procure surgical assistance."

The battle of Kulm was lost by the French through the negligence of Vandamme, who omitted to occupy the defiles in his rear—an extraordinary blunder, for which a far younger soldier might well be blamed. The triumph was complete, and, in conjunction with those at the Katzbach and Gross-Beeren, greatly raised the spirits of the Allies. At Kulm, the French fought, as usual, most gallantly, but for once they were outmanœuvred. A brilliant exploit of three or four hundred chasseurs, be[583]longing to Corbineau's light cavalry division, is worthy of mention. Sabre in hand, they cut their way completely through Kleist's corps, and did immense injury to the Allies, especially to the artillery. Of themselves, few, if any, escaped alive. "Not only," says Baron Von Rahden, "did they ride down several battalions at the lower end of the defile, and cut to pieces and scatter to the winds the staff and escort of the general, which were halted upon the road, but they totally annihilated our artillery for the time, inasmuch as they threw the guns into the ditches, and killed nearly all the men and horses. By this example one sees what resolute men on horseback, with good swords in their hands, and bold hearts in their bosoms, are able to accomplish." In a letter of Prince Augustus of Prussia, we find that "the artillery suffered so great a loss at Kulm, that there are still (this was written in the middle of September, fifteen days after the action) eighteen officers, eighty non-commissioned officers, one hundred and twenty-six bombardiers, seven hundred and eighteen gunners, besides bandsmen and surgeons, wanting to complete the strength." In both days' fight the present King of the Belgians greatly distinguished himself. He was then in the Russian service, and, on the 29th, fought bravely at the head of his cavalry division. On the 30th, the Emperor Alexander sent him to bring up the Austrian cavalry reserves, and the judgment with which he performed this duty was productive of the happiest results.

The Russian guards fought nobly at Kulm, and held the valley of Toeplitz one whole day against four times their numbers. To reward their valour, the King of Prussia gave them the Kulm Cross, as it was called, which was composed of black shining leather with a framework of silver. The Prussians were greatly annoyed at its close resemblance to the first and best class of the Iron Cross, which order had been instituted a few months previously, and was sparingly bestowed, for instances of extraordinary personal daring, upon those only who fought under Prussian colours. It was of iron with a silver setting, and could scarcely be distinguished from the Kulm cross. "Many thousands of us Prussians," says the Baron, "fought for years, poured out our blood, and threw away our lives, in vain strivings after a distinction which the Muscovite earned in a few hours. For who would notice whether it was leather or iron? The colour and form were the same, and only the initiated knew the difference, which was but nominal. In the severe winter of 1829-30, when travelling in a Russian sledge and through a thorough Russian snow-storm, along the shores of the Peipus lake, I passed a company of soldiers wrapped in their grey coats. On the right of the company were ten or twelve Knights of the Iron Cross, as it appeared to me, and of the first class of that order. This astonished me so much the more, that in Prussia it was an unheard-of thing for more than one or two private soldiers in a regiment to achieve this high distinction. I started up, and rubbed my eyes, and thought I dreamed. At Dorpat I was informed that several hundred men from the Semenofskoi regiment of guards, (the heroes of Kulm,) had been drafted into the provincial militia as a punishment for having shared in a revolt at St Petersburg."

On the 14th of October occurred the battle of cavalry in the plains between Güldengossa, Gröbern, and Liebertwolkwitz, where the Allied horse, fifteen thousand strong, encountered ten to twelve thousand French dragoons, led by the King of Naples, who once, during that day, nearly fell into the hands of his foes. The incident is narrated by Von Schöning in his history of the third Prussian regiment of dragoons, then known as the Neumark dragoons. "It was about two hours after daybreak; the regiment had made several successful charges, and at last obtained a moment's breathing-time. The dust had somewhat subsided; the French cavalry stood motionless, only their general, followed by his staff, rode, encouraging the men, as it seemed, along the foremost line, just opposite to the Neumark dragoons. Suddenly a young lieutenant, Guido von Lippe by name, who thought he recognised Murat in the enemy's leader, galloped up to the colonel. 'I must and will take him!' cried he; and, without waiting for a Yes or a No, dashed[584] forward at the top of his horse's speed, followed by a few dragoons who had been detached from the ranks as skirmishers. At the same time the colonel ordered the charge to be sounded. A most brilliant charge it was, but nothing more was seen of Von Lippe and his companions. Two days afterwards, his corpse was found by his servant, who recognised it amongst a heap of dead by the scars of the yet scarcely healed wounds received at Lutzen. A sabre-cut and a thrust through the body had destroyed life." An interesting confirmation of this story may be read in Von Odeleben's "Campaign of Napoleon in Saxony in the year 1813," p. 328. "He (Murat) accompanied by a very small retinue, so greatly exposed himself, that at last one of the enemy's squadrons, recognising him by his striking dress, and by the staff that surrounded him, regularly gave him chase. One officer in particular made a furious dash at the king, who, by the sudden facing about of his escort, found himself the last man, a little in the rear, and with only one horseman by his side. In the dazzling anticipation of a royal prisoner, the eager pursuer called to him several times, 'Halt, King, halt!' At that moment a crown was at stake. The officer had already received a sabre-cut from Murat's solitary attendant, and as he did not regard it, but still pressed forward, the latter ran him through the body. He fell dead from his saddle, and the next day his horse was mounted by the king's faithful defender, from whose lips I received these details. Their truth has been confirmed to me from other sources. Murat made his rescuer his equerry, and promised him a pension. The Emperor gave him the cross of the legion of honour."

The second Silesian regiment suffered terribly at the great battle of Leipzig. Von Rahden's battalion, in particular, was reduced at the close of the last day's fight to one hundred and twenty effective men, commanded by a lieutenant, the only unwounded officer. Kleist's division, of which it formed part, had sustained severe losses in every action since the truce, and after Leipzig it was found to have melted down to one-third of its original strength. Disease also broke out in its ranks. To check this, to recruit the numbers, and repose the men, the division was sent into quarters. Von Rahden's regiment went to the duchy of Meiningen, and his battalion was quartered in the town of that name. The friendly and hospitable reception here given to the victors of Kulm and Leipzig was well calculated to make them forget past hardships and sufferings. The widowed Duchess of Meiningen gave frequent balls and entertainments, to which officers of all grades found ready admittance. The reigning duke was then a boy; his two sisters, charming young women, were most gracious and condescending. In those warlike days, the laurel-wreath was as good a crown as any other, and raised even the humble subaltern to the society of princes.

"It chanced one evening," says the Baron, "that our major, Count Reichenbach, stood up to dance a quadrille with the Princess Adelaide of Meiningen. His toilet was not well suited to the ball-room; his boots were heavy, the floor was slippery, and he several times tripped. At last he fairly fell, dragging his partner with him. His right arm was in a sling, and useless from wounds received at Lutzen, and some short time elapsed before the princess was raised from her recumbent position by the ladies and gentlemen of the court, and conducted into an adjoining apartment. With rueful countenance, and twisting his red mustache from vexation, Count Reichenbach tried to lose himself in the crowd, and to escape the annoyance of being stared at and pointed out as the man who had thrown down the beautiful young princess. It was easy to see that he would rather have stormed a dozen hostile batteries than have made so unlucky a debût in the royal ball-room. In a short quarter of an hour, however, when the fuss caused by the accident had nearly subsided, the princess reappeared, looking more charming than ever, and sought about until she discovered poor Count Reichenbach, who had got into a corner near the stove. With the most captivating grace, she invited him to return to the dance, saying, loud enough for all around to hear, 'that she honour[585]ed a brave Prussian soldier whose breast was adorned with the Iron Cross, and whose badly-wounded arm had not prevented his fighting the fight of liberation at Leipzig, and that with all her heart she would begin the dance again with him.' The Count's triumph was complete; the court prudes and parasites, who a moment before had looked down upon him from the height of their compassion, now rivalled each other in amiability. With a well-pleased smile the Count stroked his great beard, led the princess to the quadrille, and danced it in first-rate style." The reader will have recognised our excellent Queen Dowager in the heroine of the charming trait which an old soldier thus bluntly narrates. The kind heart and patriotic spirit of the German Princess were good presage of the benevolence and many virtues of the English Queen. "When, in May 1836," continues Captain Von Rahden, "I was presented, as captain in the Dutch service, to the Princess Adelaide, then Queen of England, at St James's Palace, her majesty perfectly remembered the incident I have here narrated to my readers. To her inquiries after Count Reichenbach, I unfortunately had to reply that he was long since dead."

In January 1814, the Baron's regiment left Meiningen, crossed the Rhine, joined the great Silesian army under old Blucher, and began the campaign in France. The actions of Montmirail, Méry sur Seine, La Ferté sous Jouarre, and various other encounters, followed in rapid succession. Hard knocks for the Allies, many of them. But all Napoleon's brilliant generalship was in vain; equally in vain did his young troops emulate the deeds of those iron veterans whose bones lay bleaching on the Beresina's banks, and in the passes of the Sierra Morena. The month of February was passed in constant fighting, and was perhaps the most interesting period of the campaigns of 1813-14. On the 13th, the Prussian advanced guard, Ziethen's division, was attacked by superior numbers and completely beaten at Montmirail. Von Rahden's battalion was one of those which had to cover the retreat of the routed troops, and check the advance of the exulting enemy. Retiring slowly and in good order, the rearmost of the whole army, it reached the village of Etoges, when it was assailed by a prodigious mass of French cavalry. But the horsemen could make no impression on the steady ranks of Count Reichenbach's infantry.

"Here the hostile dragoons, formed in columns of squadrons and regiments, charged us at least twelve or fifteen times, always without success. Each time Count Reichenbach let them approach to within fifty or sixty paces, then ordered a halt, formed square, and opened a heavy and well-sustained fire, which quickly drove back the enemy. As soon as they retired, I and my skirmishers sprang forward, and peppered them till they again came to the charge, when we hurried back to the battalion. Count Reichenbach himself never entered the square, but during the charges took his station on the left flank, which could not fire, because it faced the road along which our artillery marched. Our gallant commander gave his orders with the same calm coolness and precision as on the parade ground. His voice and our volleys were the only sounds heard, and truly that was one of the most glorious afternoons of Count Reichenbach's life. Our western neighbours love to celebrate the deeds of their warriors by paint-brush and graver; our heroes are forgotten, but for the occasional written reminiscences of some old soldier, witness of their valiant deeds. And truly, if Horace Vernet has handed Colonel Changarnier down to posterity for standing inside his square whilst it received the furious but disorderly charge of semi-barbarous horse, he might, methinks, and every soldier and true Prussian will share my opinion, find a far worthier subject for his pencil in Count Reichenbach, awaiting outside his square the formidable attacks of six thousand French cavalrymen.

"It became quite dark, and the enemy ceased to charge. Pity it was! for such was the steadiness and discipline of our men, that the defence went on like some well-regulated machine, and might have been continued for hours longer, or till our last cartridge was burnt. The count seemed unusually well pleased. Twirling his[586] mustache with a satisfied chuckle, he offered several officers and soldiers a dram from a little flask which he habitually carried in his holster, and turned to me with the words, 'Well done, my dear Rahden, bravo!' On hearing this praise, short and simple as it was, I could have embraced my noble commander for joy, and with feelings in my heart which only such men as Reichenbach know how to awaken, I resumed my place on the right of the battalion, which now marched away."

Gradually the Allies approached Paris. On the 28th March, at the village of Claye, only five leagues from the capital, Kleist's division came to blows with the French troops under General Compan, who had marched out to meet them. As usual, Von Rahden was with the skirmishers, as was also another lieutenant of his battalion, a Pole of gigantic frame and extraordinary strength, who here met his death. He was rushing forward at the head of his men, when a four-pound shot struck him in the breast. It went through his body, passing very near the heart, but, strange to say, without causing instant death. For most men, half an ounce of lead in the breast is an instant quietus; but so prodigious was the strength and vitality of this Pole, that he lingered, the baron assures us, full six-and-thirty hours.

"We now followed up the French infantry, which hastily retreated to a farm-yard surrounded by lofty linden and chestnut trees, and situated on a small vine-covered hill. When half-way up the eminence, we saw, upon the open space beneath the trees, several companies of the enemy in full parade uniform, with bearskin caps, large red epaulets upon their shoulders, and white breeches, form themselves into a sort of phalanx, which only replied to our fire by single shots. Presently even these ceased. Scheliha and myself immediately ordered our men to leave off firing; and Scheliha, who spoke French very intelligibly, advanced to within thirty paces of the enemy and summoned them to lay down their arms, supposing that they intended to yield themselves prisoners. They made no reply, but stood firm as a wall. Scheliha repeated his summons: a shot was fired at him. This served as a signal to our impatient followers, who opened a murderous fire upon the dense mass before them. We tried a third time to get the brave Frenchmen to yield; others of our battalions had come up, and they were completely cut off; but the sole reply we received was a sort of negative murmur, and some of them even threatened us with their muskets. Within ten minutes they all lay dead or wounded upon the ground; for our men were deaf alike to commands and entreaties, and to the voice of mercy. Most painful was it to us officers to look on at such a butchery, impotent to prevent it." It afterwards appeared that these French grenadiers, who belonged to the Jeune Garde, had left Paris that morning. By some mismanagement their stock of ammunition was insufficient, and having expended it, they preferred death, with arms in their hands, to captivity.

At eight o'clock on the thirtieth, Kleist's and York's corps, now united, passed the Ourcq canal, and marched along the Pantin road towards Paris. Upon that morning they saw old Blucher for the first time for more than a month. He seemed on the brink of the grave, and wore a woman's bonnet of green silk to protect his eyes, which were dangerously inflamed. He was on horseback, but was soon obliged to return to his travelling carriage in rear of the army, and to give up the command to Barclay de Tolly. "Luckily," says the baron, "the troops knew nothing of the substitution." Although it would probably hardly have mattered much, for there was little more work to do. For that year this was the last day's fight. After some flank movement which took up several hours, the allied infantry attacked the village of La Villette, but were repulsed by the artillery from the adjacent barrier. The brigade batteries loitered in the rear, and Prince Augustus, vexed at their absence, sent an aide-de-camp to bring them up. One of them was commanded by Lieutenant Holsche, Von Rahden's former instructor at the artillery school, of whom we have already related an anecdote. Although an undoubtedly brave and circumspect officer, on this occasion he remained too far behind the in[587]fantry; and Captain Decker,[49] who was dispatched to fetch him, was not sorry to be the medium of conveying the Prince's sharp message, the less so as he had observed a certain nonchalance and want of deference in the artillery lieutenant's manner of receiving the orders of his superiors. At a later period, Baron Von Rahden heard from Decker himself the following characteristic account of his reception by the gallant but eccentric Holsche.

"I came up to the battery," said Decker, "at full gallop. The men were dismounted, and their officer stood chatting with his comrades beside a newly-made fire. 'Lieutenant Holsche,' said I, rather sharply, 'his Royal Highness is exceedingly astonished that you remain idle here, and has directed me to command you instantly to advance your battery against the enemy.'

"'Indeed?' was Holsche's quiet reply, 'his Royal Highness is astonished!' and then, turning to his men with the same calmness of tone and manner, 'Stand to your horses! Mount! Battery, march!'

"I thought the pace commanded was not quick enough, and in the same loud and imperious voice as before, I observed to Lieutenant Holsche that he would not be up in time; he had better move faster. 'Indeed! not quick enough?' quietly answered Holsche, and gave the word, 'March, march!' We now soon got over the ground and within the enemy's fire, and, considering my duty at an end, I pointed out to the Lieutenant the direction he should take, and whereabouts he should post his battery. But Holsche begged me in the most friendly manner to go on and show him exactly where he should halt. I naturally enough complied with his request. The nearer we got to the French, the faster became the pace, until at last we were in front of our most advanced battalions. The bullets whizzed about us on all sides; I once more made a move to turn back, and told Holsche he might stop where he was. With the same careless air as before, he repeated his request that I would remain, in order to be able to tell his Royal Highness where Lieutenant Holsche and his battery had halted! What could I do? It was any thing but pleasant to share so great a danger, without either necessity or profit; and certainly I might very well have turned back, but Holsche, by whose side I galloped, fixed his large dark eyes upon my countenance, as though he would have read my very soul. We were close to our own skirmishers; on we went, right through them, into the middle of the enemy's riflemen, who, quite surprised at being charged by a battery, retired in all haste. It really seemed as if the artillery was going over to the enemy. At two hundred paces from the French columns, however, Holsche halted, unlimbered, and gave two discharges from the whole battery, with such beautiful precision and astounding effect, that he sent the hostile squadrons and battalions to the right about, and even silenced some of the heavy guns within the barriers. That done he returned to me, and begged me to inform the Prince where I had left Lieutenant Holsche and his battery. 'Perhaps,' added he, 'his Royal Highness will again find occasion to be astonished; and I shall be very glad of it.' And truly the Prince and all of us were astonished at this gallant exploit; it had been achieved in sight of the whole army, and had produced a glorious and most desirable result."

For this feat Holsche was rewarded with the Iron Cross of the first class. He had already at Leipzig gained that of the second, and on receiving it his ambition immediately aspired to the higher decoration. Many a time had he been heard to vow, that if he obtained it, he would have a cross as large as his hand manufactured by the farrier of his battery, and wear it upon his breast. To this he pledged his word. The manner in which he kept it is thus related by his old friend and pupil.

"We were on our march from Paris to Amiens, when we were informed, one beautiful morning, that[588] our brigade battery, under Lieutenant Holsche, was in cantonments in the next village. The music at our head, we marched through the place in parade time, and paid Holsche military honours as ex-commandant of the Straw-bonnet, which title he still retained. Intimate acquaintance and sincere respect might well excuse this little deviation from the regulations of the service. Our hautboys blew a favourite march, to which Holsche himself had once in Glatz written words, beginning:—

'Natz, Natz, Annemarie,

Da kommt die Glätzer Infanterie.'

In his blue military frock, with forage cap and sword, Holsche stood upon a small raised patch of turf in front of his quarters, gravely saluting in acknowledgment of the honours paid him, which he received with as proud a bearing as if he was legitimately entitled to them. This did not surprise us, knowing him as we did, but not a little were we astonished when we saw an Iron Cross of the first class, as large as a plate, fastened upon his left breast. The orders for the battle of Paris and the other recent fights in France had just been distributed; Holsche was amongst the decorated, and the jovial artilleryman took this opportunity to fulfil his oft-repeated vow. Only a few hours before our arrival he had had the cross manufactured by his farrier."

This dashing but wrong-headed officer soon afterwards became a captain, and subsequently major, but his extravagances, and especially his addiction to wine, got him into frequent trouble, until at last he was put upon the retired list as lieutenant-colonel, and died at Schweidnitz in Silesia.

At six in the evening of the 30th March, the last fight of the campaign was over, and aides-de-camp galloped hither and thither, announcing the capitulation of Paris. Right pleasant were such sounds to the ears of the war-worn soldiers. Infantry grounded their arms, dragoons dismounted, artillerymen leaned idly against their pieces; Langeron alone, who had begun the storm of Montmartre, would not desist from his undertaking. Officers rode after him, waving their white handkerchiefs as a signal to cease firing, but without effect. The Russians stormed on; and if Langeron attained his end with comparatively small loss, the enemy being already in retreat, there were nevertheless four or five hundred men sacrificed to his ambition, and that he might have it to say that he and his Russians carried Montmartre by storm. Whilst the rest of the troops waited till he had attained his end, and congratulated each other on the termination of the hardships and privations of the preceding three months, a Russian bomb-carriage took fire, the drivers left it, and its six powerful horses, scorched and terrified by the explosion of the projectiles, ran madly about the field, dragging at their heels this artificial volcano. The battalions which they approached scared them away by shouts, until the unlucky beasts knew not which way to turn. At last, the shells and grenades being all burnt out, the horses stood still, and, strange to say, not one of them had received the slightest injury.

Terrible was the disappointment of Kleist's and York's divisions, when they learned on the morning subsequent to the capitulation that they were not to enter Paris; but, after four-and-twenty hours' repose in the faubourg Montmartre, where they had passed the previous night, were to march from the capital into country quarters. Their motley and weather-beaten aspect was the motive of this order—a heart-breaking one for the brave officers and soldiers who had borne the heat and burden of the day during a severe and bloody campaign, and now found themselves excluded on the earthly paradise of their hopes. They had fought and suffered more than the Prussian and Russian guards; but the latter were smart and richly uniformed, whilst the poor fellows of the line had rubbed off and besmirched in many a hard encounter and rainy bivouac what little gilding they ever possessed. So long as fighting was the order of the day, they were in request; but it was now the turn of parades, and on these they would cut but a sorry figure. So "right about" was the word, and Amiens the route. A second day's respite was allowed them, however; and although they were strictly confined to their quarters, lest they should shock the sensitiveness of the Parisian[589] bourgeoisie by their ragged breeks, long beards, and diversity of equipment, some of the officers obtained leave to go into Paris. Von Rahden was amongst these, and, after a dinner at Véry's, where his Silesian simplicity and campaigning appetite were rather astonished by the exiguity of the plats placed before him, whereof he managed to consume some five-and-twenty, after admiring the wonders of the Palace Royal, and the rich uniforms of almost every nation with which the streets were crowded, he betook himself to the Place Vendôme to gaze at the fallen conqueror's triumphant column. It was surrounded by a mob of fickle Parisians, eager to cast down from its high estate the idol they so recently had worshipped. One daredevil fellow climbed upon the Emperor's shoulders, slung a cord round his neck, dragged up a great ship's cable and twisted it several times about the statue. The rabble seized the other end of the rope, and with cries of "à bas ce canaille!" tugged furiously at it. Their efforts were unavailing, Napoleon stood firm, until the Allied sovereigns, who, from the window of an adjacent house, beheld this disgraceful riot, sent a company of Russian grenadiers to disperse the mob. The masses gave way before the bayonet, but not till the same man who had fastened the rope, again climbed up, and with a white cloth shrouded the statue of the once adored Emperor from the eyes of his faithless subjects. It is well known that, a few weeks later, the figure was taken down by order of the Emperor Alexander, who carried it away as his sole trophy, and gave it a place in the winter palace at St Petersburg. When Louis XVIII. returned to Paris, a broad white banner, embroidered with three golden lilies, waved from the summit of the column; but this in its turn was displaced, by the strong south wind that blew from Elba in March 1815, when Napoleon re-entered his capital. A municipal deputation waited upon him to know what he would please to have placed on the top of the triumphant column. "A weathercock" was the little corporal's sarcastic reply. Since that day, the lilies and the tricolor have again alternated on the magnificent column, until the only thing that ought to surmount it, the statue of the most extraordinary man of modern, perhaps of any, times, has resumed its proud position, and once more overlooks the capital which he did so much to improve and embellish.

"I now wandered to the operahouse," says the baron, "to hear Spontini's Vestale. The enormous theatre was full to suffocation; in every box the Allied uniforms glittered, arms flashed in the bright light, police spies loitered and listened, beautiful women waved their kerchiefs and joined in the storm of applause, as if that day had been a most glorious and triumphant one for France. The consul Licinius, represented, if I remember aright, by the celebrated St Priest, was continually interrupted in his songs, and called upon for the old national melody 'Vive Henri Quatre,' which he gave with couplets composed for the occasion, some of which, it was said, were improvisations. In the midst of this rejoicing, a rough voice made itself heard from the upper gallery. 'A bas l'aigle imperial!' were the words it uttered, and in an instant every eye was turned to the Emperor's box, whose purple velvet curtains were closely drawn, and to whose front a large and richly gilt eagle was affixed. The audience took up the cry and repeated again and again—'A bas l'aigle imperial!' Presently the curtains were torn asunder, a fellow seated himself upon the cushioned parapet, twined his legs round the eagle, and knocked, and hammered, till it fell with a crash to the ground. Again the royalist ditty was called for, with ad libitum couplets, in which the words 'ce diable à quatre' were only too plainly perceptible; the unfortunate consul had to repeat them till he was hoarse, and so ended the great comedy performed that day by the 'Grande Nation.' Most revolting it was, and every right-thinking man shuddered at such thorough Gallic indecency."

Baron Von Rahden tells the story of his life well and pleasantly, without pretensions to brilliancy and elegance of style, but with soldierly frankness and spirit. We have read this first portion of his memoirs with pleasure and interest, and may take occasion again to refer to its lively and varied contents.[590]


A Letter to T. Smith, Esq., Scene-Painter and Tragedian at the Amphitheatre.

My dear Smith,—Your complaint of my unwarrantable detention of the manuscript which, some months ago, you were kind enough to forward for my perusal, is founded upon a total misconception of the nature of my interim employments. I have not, as you somewhat broadly insinuate, been prigging bits of your matchless rhetoric in order to give currency and flavour to my own more maudlin articles. The lemon-peel of Smith has not entered into the composition of any of my literary puddings; neither have I bartered a single fragment of your delectable facetiæ for gold. I return you the precious bundle as safe and undivulged as when it was committed to my custody, and none the worse for the rather extensive journey which it has materially contributed to cheer.

The fact is, that I have been sojourning this summer utterly beyond the reach of posts. To you, whose peculiar vocation it is to cater for the taste of the public, I need hardly remark that novelty is, now-a-days, in literature as in every thing else, an indispensable requisite for success. People will not endure the iteration of a story, however well it may be told. The same locality palls upon their ears, and that style of wit which, last year, was sufficient to convulse an audience, may, if continued for another session, be branded with the infamy of slang. Even our mutual friend Barry, whose jests are the life of the arena, is quite aware of this unerring physiological rule. He does not depend upon captivating the galleries for ever by his ingenious conundrum of getting into an empty quart bottle. His inimitable "be quiet, will ye?" as the exasperated Master of the Ring flicks off an imaginary fly from his motley inexpressibles, is now reserved as a great point for rare and special occasions; and he now lays in a new stock of witticisms at the commencement of each campaign, as regularly as you contract for lamp-black and ochre when there is an immediate prospect of a grand new military spectacle. The want of attention to this rule has, I fear, operated prejudicially upon the fortunes of our agile acquaintance, Hervio Nano, whom I last saw devouring raw beef in the character of a human Nondescript. Harvey depended too much upon his original popularity as the Gnome Fly, and failed through incessant repetition. The public at length would not stand the appearance of that eternal blue-bottle. The sameness of his entomology was wearisome. He should have varied his representations by occasionally assuming the characters of the Spectre Spider, or the Black Tarantula of the Tombs.

Now you must know, that for the last three years I have been making my living exclusively out of the Swedish novels and the Countess Ida von Hahn-Hahn. To Frederike Bremer I owe a prodigious debt of gratitude; for she has saved me the trouble—and it is a prodigious bore—of inventing plots and characters, as I was compelled to do when the Rhine and the Danube were the chosen seats of fiction. For a time the literary plough went merrily through the sward of Sweden; nor can I, with any degree of conscience, complain of the quality of the crop. But, somehow or other, the thing was beginning to grow stale. People lost their relish for the perpetual raspberry jam, tart-making, spinning, and the other processes of domestic kitchen economy which formed our Scandinavian staple; indeed, I had a shrewd suspicion from the first that the market would soon be glutted by the introduction of so much linen and flannel. It is very difficult to keep up a permanent interest in favour of a heroine in homespun, and the storeroom is but a queer locality for the interchange of lovers' sighs. I therefore was not surprised, last spring, to find my publishers somewhat shy of entering into terms for a new translation of "Snorra Gorvundstrul; or,[591] The Barmaid of Strundschensvoe," and, in the true spirit of British enterprise, I resolved to carry my flag elsewhere.

On looking over the map of the world, with the view of selecting a novel field, I was astonished to find that almost every compartment was already occupied by one of our literary brethren. There is in all Europe scarce a diocese left unsung, and, like romance, civilisation is making rapid strides towards both the east and the west. In this dilemma I bethought me of Iceland as a virgin soil. Victor Hugo, it is true, had made some advances towards it in one of his earlier productions; but, if I recollect right, even that daring pioneer of letters did not penetrate beyond Norway, and laid the scene of his stirring narrative somewhere about the wilds of Drontheim. The bold dexterity with which he has transferred the Morgue from Paris to the most artic city of the world, has always commanded my most entire admiration. It is a stroke of machinery equal to any which you, my dear Smith, have ever introduced into a pantomime; and I question whether it was much surpassed by the transit of the Holy Chapel to Loretto. In like manner I had intended to transport a good deal of ready-made London ware to Iceland; or rather—if that will make my meaning clearer—to take my idea both of the scenery and characters from the Surrey Zoological Gardens, wherein last year I had the privilege of witnessing a superb eruption of Mount Hecla. On more mature reflection, however, I thought it might be as well to take an actual survey of the regions which I intend henceforward to occupy as my own especial domain; and—having, moreover, certain reasons which shall be nameless, for a temporary evacuation of the metropolis—I engaged a passage in a northern whaler, and have only just returned after an absence of half a year. Yes, Smith! Incredible as it may appear to you, I have actually been in Iceland, seen Hecla in a state of conflagration; and it was by that lurid light, while my mutton was boiling in the Geyser, that I first unfolded your manuscript, and read the introductory chapters of "Silas Spavinhitch; or, Rides around the Circus with Widdicomb and Co."

I trust, therefore, that after this explanation, you will discontinue the epithet of "beast," and the corresponding expletives which you have used rather liberally in your last two epistles. When you consider the matter calmly, I think you will admit that you have suffered no very material loss in consequence of the unavoidable delay; and, as to the public, I am quite sure that they will devour Silas more greedily about Christmas, than if he had made his appearance, all booted and spurred, in the very height of the dog-days. You will also have the opportunity, as your serial is not yet completed, of reflecting upon the justice of the hints which I now venture to offer for your future guidance—hints, derived not only from my observation of the works of others, but from some little personal experience in that kind of popular composition; and, should you agree with me in any of the views hereinafter expressed, you may perhaps be tempted to act upon them in the revision and completion of your extremely interesting work. First, then, let me say a few words regarding the purpose and the nature of that sort of feuilleton which we now denominate the serial.

Do not be alarmed, Smith. I am not going to conglomerate your faculties by any Aristotelian exposition. You are a man of by far too much practical sense to be humbugged by such outworn pedantry, and your own particular purpose in penning Silas is of course most distinctly apparent. You want to sack as many of the public shillings as possible. That is the great motive which lies at the foundation of all literary or general exertion, and the man who does not confess it broadly and openly is an ass. If your study of Fitzball has not been too exclusive, you may perhaps recollect the lines of Byron:—

"No! when the sons of song descend to trade,
Their bays are sear, their former laurels fade,
[592] Let such forego the poet's sacred name,
Who rack their brains for lucre, not for fame;
Low may they sink to merited contempt,
And scorn remunerate the mean attempt!
Such be their meed, such still the just reward
Of prostituted muse and hireling bard!"

Now these, although they have passed current in the world for some thirty years, are in reality poor lines, and the sentiment they intend to inculcate is contemptible. Byron lived long enough to know the value of money, as his correspondence with the late Mr Murray most abundantly testifies—indeed, I question whether any author ever beat him at the art of chaffering. If it be a legitimate matter of reproach against an author that he writes for money, then heaven help the integrity of every profession and trade in this great and enlightened kingdom! What else, in the name of common sense, should he write for? Fame? Thank you! Fame may be all very well in its way, but it butters no parsnips; and, if I am to be famous, I would much rather case my renown in fine linen than in filthy dowlas. Let people say what they please, the best criterion of every article is its marketable value, and no man on the face of this earth will work without a reasonable wage.

Your first and great purpose, therefore, is to make money, and to make as much as you can. But then there is another kind of purpose, which, if I was sure you could comprehend me, I should call the intrinsic one, and which must be considered very seriously before you obtrude yourself upon the public. In other words, what is to be the general tendency of your work? "Fun," I think I hear you reply, "and all manner of sky-larking." Very good. But then, my dear friend, you must consider that there is a sort of method even in grimacing. There is a gentleman connected with your establishment, who is popularly reported to possess the inestimable talent of turning his head inside out. I never saw him perform that cephalic operation, but I have heard it highly spoken of by others who have enjoyed the privilege. But this it is obvious, though a very admirable and effective incident, could hardly be taken as the groundwork of a five-act play, or even a three-act melodrama; and, in like manner, your fun and sky-larking must have something of a positive tendency. I don't mean to insinuate that there is no story in Silas Spavinhitch. He is, if I recollect aright, the younger son of a nobleman, who falls in love—at Astley's, of course—with Signora Estrella di Canterini, the peerless Amazon of the ring. He forsakes his ancestral halls, abjures Parliament, and enlists in the cavalry of the Hippodrome. In that gallant and distinguished corps he rises to an unusual rank, utterly eclipses Herr Pferdenshuf, more commonly known by the title of the Suabian acrobat—wins the heart of the Signora by taming Centaur, the fierce Arabian stallion; and gains the notice and favour of royalty itself, by leaping the Mammoth horse over nineteen consecutive bars. Your manuscript ends at the point where Spavinhitch, having accidentally discovered that the beautiful Canterini is the daughter of Abd-el-Kader by a Sicilian princess, resolves to embark for Africa with the whole chivalry of the Surrey side, and, by driving the French from Algiers, to substantiate his claim upon the Emir for his daughter's hand. There is plenty incident here; but, to say the truth, I don't quite see my way out of it. Are you going to take history into your own hands, and write in the spirit of prophecy? The experiment is, to say the least of it, dangerous; and, had I been you, I should have preferred an earlier period for my tale, as there obviously could have been no difficulty in making Spavinhitch and his cavaliers take a leading part in the decisive charge at Waterloo.

Your serial, therefore, so far as I can discover, belongs to the military-romantic school, and is intended to command admiration by what we may call a series of scenic effects. I an not much surprised at this. Your experience has lain so much in the line of gorgeous spectacle, and, indeed, you have borne a part in so many of those magnificent tableaux in which blue fire, real cannon, charging squadrons, and the transparency of Britannia are predominant, that it was hardly to be expected that the[593] current of your ideas would have flowed in a humbler channel. At the same time, you must forgive me for saying, that I think the line is a dangerous one. Putting tendency altogether aside, you cannot but recollect that a great many writers have already distinguished themselves by narratives of military adventure. Of these, by far the best and most spirited is Charles Lever. I don't know whether he ever was in the army, or bore the banner of the Enniskillens; but I say deliberately, that he has taken the shine out of all military writers from the days of Julius Cæsar downwards. There is a rollocking buoyancy about his battles which to me is perfectly irresistible. In one chapter you have the lads of the fighting Fifty-fifth bivouacking under the cork-trees of Spain, with no end of spatchcocks and sherry—telling numerous anecdotes of their early loves, none the worse because the gentleman is invariably disappointed in his pursuit of the well-jointured widow—or arranging for a speedy duel with that ogre of the army, the saturnine and heavy dragoon. In the next, you have them raging like lions in the very thick of the fight, pouring withering volleys into the shattered columns of the Frenchmen—engaged in single-handed combats with the most famous marshals of the empire, and not unfrequently leaving marks of their prowess upon the persons of Massena or Murat. Lever, in fact, sticks at nothing. His heroes indiscriminately hob-a-nob with Wellington, or perform somersets at leap-frog over the shoulders of the astounded Bonaparte; and, though somewhat given to miscellaneous flirtation, they all, in the twentieth number, are married to remarkably nice girls, with lots of money and accommodating papas, who die as soon as they are desired. It may be objected to this delightful writer—and a better never mixed a tumbler—that he is, if any thing, too helter-skelter in his narratives; that the officers of the British army do not, as an invariable rule, go into action in a state of delirium tremens; and that O'Shaughnessy, in particular, is rather too fond of furbishing up, for the entertainment of the mess, certain stories which have been current for the last fifty years in Tipperary. These, however, are very minor points of criticism, and such as need not interfere with our admiration of this light lancer of literature, who always writes like a true and a high-minded gentleman.

Now, my dear Smith, I must own that I have some fear of your success when opposed to such a competitor. You have not been in the army—that is, the regulars—and I should say that you were more conversant in theory and in practice with firing from platforms than firing in platoons. I have indeed seen you, in the character of Soult, lead several desperate charges across the stage, with consummate dramatic effect. Your single combat with Gomersal as Picton, was no doubt a masterpiece of its kind; for in the course of it you brought out as many sparks from the blades of your basket-hilts, as might have served in the aggregate for a very tolerable illumination. Still I question whether the style of dialogue you indulged in on that occasion, is quite the same as that which is current on a modern battle-field. "Ha! English slave! Yield, or thou diest!" is an apostrophe more appropriate to the middle ages than the present century; and although the patriotism of the following answer by your excellent opponent is undeniable, its propriety may be liable to censure. Crossing the stage at four tremendous strides, the glorious Gomersal replied, "Yield, saidst thou? Never! I tell thee, Frenchman, that whilst the broad banner of Britain floats over the regions on which the day-star never sets—while peace and plenty brood like guardian angels over the shores of my own dear native isle—whilst her sons are brave, and her daughters virtuous—whilst the British lion reposes on his shadow in perfect stillness—whilst with thunders from our native oak we quell the floods below—I tell thee, base satellite of a tyrant, that an Englishman never will surrender!" In the applause which followed this declaration, your remark, that several centuries beheld you from the top of a canvass pyramid, was partially lost upon the audience; but to it you went tooth and nail for at least a[594] quarter of an hour; and I must confess that the manner in which you traversed the stage on your left knee, parrying all the while the strokes of your infuriated adversary, was highly creditable to your proficiency in the broadsword and gymnastic exercises.

But all this, Smith, will not enable you to write a military serial. I therefore hope, that on consideration you will abandon the Algiers expedition, and keep Silas in his native island, where, if you will follow my advice, you will find quite enough for him to do in the way of incident and occupation.

Now let us return to the question of tendency. Once upon a time, it was a trite rule by which all romance writers were guided, that in the denoûment of their plots, virtue was invariably rewarded, and vice as invariably punished. This gave a kind of moral tone to their writings, which was not without its effect upon our grandfathers and grandmothers, many of whom were inclined to consider all works of fiction as direct emanations from Beelzebub. The next generation became gradually less nice and scrupulous, demanded more spice in their pottage, and attached less importance to the prominence of an ethical precept. At last we became, strictly speaking, a good deal blackguardised in our taste. Ruffianism in the middle ages bears about it a stamp of feudality which goes far to disguise its lawlessness, and even to excuse its immorality. When a German knight of the empire sacks and burns some peaceful and unoffending village—when a Bohemian marauder of noble birth bears off some shrieking damsel from her paternal castle, having previously slitted the weasand of her brother, and then weds her in a subterranean chapel—or when a roaring red-bearded Highlander drives his dirk into a gauger, or chucks a score of Sassenachs, tied back to back, with a few hundredweight of greywacke at their heels, into the loch—we think less of the enormity of the deeds than of the disagreeable habits of the times. It does not follow that either German, Bohemian, or Celt, were otherwise bad company or disagreeable companions over a flagon of Rhenish, a roasted boar, or a gallon or so of usquebæ. But when you come to the Newgate Callendar for subjects, I must say that we are getting rather low. I do not know what your feelings upon the subject may be, but I, for one, would certainly hesitate before accepting an invitation to the town residence of Mr Fagin; neither should I feel at all comfortable if required to plant my legs beneath the mahogany in company with Messrs Dodger, Bates, and the rest of their vivacious associates. However fond I may be of female society, Miss Nancy is not quite the sort of person I should fancy to look in upon of an evening about tea-time; and as for Bill Sykes, that infernal dog of his would be quite enough to prevent any advances of intimacy between us. In fact, Smith, although you may think the confession a squeamish one, I am not in the habit of selecting my acquaintance from the inhabitants of St Giles, and on every possible occasion I should eschew accepting their hospitalities.

I have, therefore, little opportunity of judging whether the characters depicted by some of our later serialists, are exact copies from nature or the reverse. I have, however, heard several young ladies declare them to be extremely natural, though I confess to have been somewhat puzzled as to their means of accurate information. But I may be allowed en passant to remark, that it seems difficult to imagine what kind of pleasure can be derived from the description of a scene, which, if actually contemplated by the reader, would inspire him with loathing and disgust, or from conversations in which the brutal alternates with the positive obscene. The fetid den of the Jew, the stinking cellar of the thief, the squalid attic of the prostitute, are not haunts for honest men, and the less that we know of them the better. Such places no doubt exist—the more is the pity; but so do dunghills, and a hundred other filthy things, which the imagination shudders at whenever they are forced upon it,—for the man who willingly and deliberately dwells upon such subjects, is, notwithstanding all pretext, in heart and soul a nightman! Don't tell me about close[595] painting after nature. Nature is not always to be painted as she really is. Would you hang up such paintings in your drawing-room? If not, why suffer them in print to lie upon your drawing-room tables? What are Eugene Sue and his English competitors, but coarser and more prurient Ostades?

Oh, but there is a moral in these things! No doubt of it. There is a moral in all sin and misery, as there is in all virtue and happiness. There is a moral every where, and the veriest bungler cannot fail to seize it. But is that a reason why the minds of our sons and daughters should be polluted by what is notoriously the nearest thing to contact with absolute vice—namely, vivid and graphic descriptions of it by writers of undenied ability? Did Life in London, or the exploits of Tom, Jerry, and Logic, make the youth of the metropolis more staid, or inspire them with a wholesome horror of dissipation? Did the memoirs of Casanova ever reclaim a rake—the autobiography of David Haggart convert an aspiring pickpocket—or the daring feats of Jack Sheppard arrest one candidate for the gallows? These are the major cases; but look at the minor ones. What are the favourite haunts of the heroes in even the most blameless of our serials? Pot-houses—cigariums—green-rooms of theatres—hells—spunging-houses—garrets—and the scullery! Nice and improving all this—isn't it, Smith?—for the young and rising generation! No need now for surreptitious works, entitled, "A Guide to the Larks of London," or so forth, which used formerly to issue from the virgin press of Holywell Street. Almost any serial will give hints enough to an acute boy, if he wishes to gain an initiative knowledge of subjects more especially beneath the cognisance of the police. They will at least guide him to the door with the red lamp burning over it, and only one plank betwixt its iniquity and the open street. And all this is for a moral! Heaven knows, Smith, I am no Puritan; but when I think upon the men who now call themselves the lights of the age, and look back upon the past, I am absolutely sick at heart, and could almost wish for a return of the days of Mrs Radcliffe and the Castle of Otranto.

Now, my dear fellow, as I know you to be a thoroughly good-hearted man—not overgiven to liquor, although your estimate of beer is a just one—a constant husband, and, moreover, the father of five or six promising olive-branches, I do not for a moment suppose that you are likely to inweave any such tendencies in your tale. You would consider it low to make a prominent character of a scavenger; and although some dozen idiots who call themselves philanthropists would brand you as an aristocrat for entertaining any such opinion, I think you are decidedly in the right. But there is another tendency towards which I suspect you are more likely to incline. You are a bit of a Radical, and, like all men of genius, you pique yourself on elbowing upwards. So far well. The great ladder, or rather staircase of ambition, is open to all of us, and it is fortunately broader than it is high. It is not the least too narrow to prevent any one from approaching it, and after you have taken the first step, there is nothing more than stamina and perseverance required. But then I do not see that it is necessary to be perpetually plucking at the coat-tails, or seizing hold of the ankles of those who are before. Such conduct is quite as indecorous, and indeed ungenerous, as it would be to kick back, and systematically to smite with your heel the unprotected foreheads of your followers. Nor would I be perpetually pitching brickbats upwards, in order to show my own independence; or raising a howl of injustice, because another fellow was considerably elevated above me. In the social system, Smith, as it stands at present, has always stood, and will continue to stand long after Astley's is forgotten, it is not necessary that every one should commence at the lowest round of the staircase. Their respective fathers and progenitors have secured an advantageous start for many. They have achieved, as the case may be, either rank or fame, or honour, or wealth, or credit—and these possessions they are surely entitled to leave as an inheritance of their offspring. If we want[596] to rise higher in the social scale than they did, we must make exertions for ourselves; if we are indolent, we must be contented to remain where we are, though at imminent risk of descending. But you, I take it for granted, and indeed the most of us who owe little to ancestral enterprise and are in fact men of the masses, are struggling forward towards one or other of the good things specified above, and no doubt we shall in time attain them. In the meanwhile, however, is it just—nay, is it wise—that we should mar our own expectancies, and depreciate the value of the prizes which we covet, by abusing not only the persons but the position of those above us? How are they to blame? Are they any the worse that they stand, whether adventitiously or not, at a point which we are endeavouring to reach? Am I necessarily a miscreant because I am born rich, and you a martyr because you are poor? I do not quite follow the argument. If there is any one to blame, you will find their names written on the leaves of your own family-tree; but I don't see that on that account you have any right to execrate me or my ancestors.

I am the more anxious to caution you against putting any such rubbish into your pages, because I fear you have contracted some sort of intimacy with a knot of utilitarian ninnyhammers. The last time I had the pleasure of meeting you at the Ducrow's Head, there was a seedy-looking, ill-conditioned fellow seated on your right, who, between his frequent draughts of porter, (which you paid for,) did nothing but abuse the upper classes as tyrants, fools, and systematical grinders of the poor. I took the liberty, as you may remember, of slightly differing from some of his wholesale positions; whereupon your friend, regarding me with a cadaverous sneer, was pleased to mutter something about a sycophant, the tenor of which I did not precisely comprehend. Now, unless I am shrewdly mistaken, this was one of the earnest men—fellows who are continually bawling on people to go forward—who set themselves up for popular teachers, and maunder about "a oneness of purpose," "intellectual elevation," "aspirations after reality," and suchlike drivel, as though they were absolute Solons, not blockheads of the muddiest water. And I was sorry to observe that you rather seemed to agree with the rusty patriot in some of his most sweeping strictures, and evinced an inclination to adopt his theory of the coming Utopia, which, judging from the odour that pervaded his apostolic person and raiment, must bear a strong resemblance to a modern gin-shop. Now, Smith, this will not do. There may be inequalities in this world, and there may also be injustice; but it is a very great mistake to hold that one-half of the population of these islands is living in profligate ease upon the compulsory labour of the other. I am not going to write you a treatise upon political economy; but I ask you to reflect for a moment, and you will see how ludicrous is the charge. This style of thinking, or, what is worse, this style of writing, is positively the most mischievous production of the present day. Disguised under the specious aspect of philanthropy, it fosters self-conceit and discontent, robs honest industry of that satisfaction which is its best reward, and, instead of removing, absolutely creates invidious class-distinctions. And I will tell you from what this spirit arises—it is the working of the meanest envy.

There never was a time when talent, and genius, and ability, had so fair a field as now. The power of the press is developed to an extent which almost renders exaggeration impossible, and yet it is still upon the increase. A thousand minds are now at work, where a few were formerly employed. We have become a nation of readers and of writers. The rudiments of education, whatever may be said of its higher branches, are generally distributed throughout the masses—so much so, indeed, that without them no man can hope to ascend one step in the social scale. This is a great, though an imperfect gain, and, like all such, it has its evils.

Of these not the least is the astounding growth of quackery. It assails us every where, and on every side; and, with consummate impudence, it asserts its mission to teach. Look at the shoals of itinerant lecturers which[597] at this moment are swarming through the land. No department of science is too deep, no political question too abstruse, for their capacity. They have their own theories on the subjects of philosophy and religion—of which theories I shall merely remark, that they differ in many essentials from the standards both of church and college—and these they communicate to their audience with the least possible regard to reservation. Had you ever the pleasure, Smith, of meeting one of these gentlemen amongst the amenities of private life? I have upon various occasions enjoyed that luxury; and, so far as I am capable of judging, the Pericles of the platform appeared to me a coarse-minded, illiterate, and ignorant Cockney, with the manners and effrontery of a bagman. Such are the class of men who affect to regenerate the people with the tongue, and who are listened to even with avidity, because impudence, like charity, can cover a multitude of defects; and thus they stand, like so many sons of Telamon, each secure behind the shelter of his brazen shield. As to the pen-regenerators, they are at least equally numerous. I do not speak of the established press, the respectability and talent of which is undeniable; but of the minor crew, who earn their bread partly by fostering discontent, and partly by pandering to the worst of human passions. The merest whelp, who can write a decent paragraph, considers himself, now-a-days, entitled to assume the airs of an Aristarchus, and will pronounce opinions, ex cathedrâ, upon every question, no matter of what importance, for he too is a teacher of the people!

This is the lowest sort of quackery; but there are also higher degrees. Our literature, of what ought to be the better sort, has by no means escaped the infection. In former times, men who devoted themselves to the active pursuit of letters, brought to the task not only high talent, but deep and measured thought, and an accumulated fund of acquirement. They studied long before they wrote, and attempted no subject until they had thoroughly and comprehensively mastered its details. But we live under a new system. There is no want of talent, though it be of a rambling and disjointed kind; but we look in vain for marks of the previous study. Our authors deny the necessity or advantage of an apprenticeship, and set up for masters before they have learned the rudiments of their art, and they dispense altogether with reflection. Few men now think before they write. The consequence is, that a great proportion of our modern literature is of the very flimsiest description—vivid, sometimes, and not without sparkles of genuine humour; but so ill constructed as to preclude the possibility of its long existence. No one is entitled to reject models, unless he has studied them, and detected their faults; but this is considered by far too tedious a process for modern ingenuity. We are thus inundated with a host of clever writers, each relying upon his peculiar and native ability, jesting—for that is the humour of the time—against each other, and all of them forsaking nature, and running deplorably into caricature.

These are the men who make the loudest outcry against the social system, and who appear to be imbued with an intense hatred of the aristocracy, and indeed with every one of our time-honoured institutions. This I know has been denied; but, in proof of my assertion, I appeal to their published works. Read any one of them through, and I ask you if you do not rise from it with a sort of conviction, that you must search for the cardinal virtues solely in the habitations of the poor—that the rich are hard, selfish, griping, and tyrannical—and that the nobility are either fools, spendthrifts, or debauchees? Is it so, as a general rule, in actual life? Far from it. I do not need to be told of the virtue and industry which grace the poor man's lot; for we all feel and know it, and God forbid that it should be otherwise. But we know also that there is as great, if not greater temptation in the hovel than in the palace, with fewer counteracting effects from education and principle to withstand it; and it is an insult to our understanding to be told, that fortune and station are in effect but other words for tyranny, callousness, and crime.[598]

The fact is, that most of these authors know nothing whatever of the society which they affect to describe, but which in truth they grossly libel. Their starting-point is usually not a high one; but by dint of some talent—in certain cases naturally great—and a vivacity of style, joined with a good deal of drollery and power of bizarre description, they at last gain a portion of the public favour, and become in a manner notables. This is as it should be; and such progress is always honourable. Having arrived at this point, not without a certain degree of intoxication consequent upon success, our author begins to look about him and to consider his own position—and he finds that position to be both new and anomalous. On the one hand he has become a lion. The newspapers are full of his praises; his works are dramatized at the minor theatres; he is pointed at in the streets, and his publisher is clamorous for copy. At small literary reunions he is the cynosure of all eyes. And so his organ of self-esteem continues to expand day by day, until he fancies himself entitled to a statue near the altar in the Temple of Fame—not very far, perhaps, from those of Shakspeare, of Spencer, or of Scott. One little drop of gall, however, is mingled in the nectar of his cup. He does not receive that consideration which he thinks himself entitled to from the higher classes. Peers do not wait upon him with pressing invitations to their country-seats; nor does he receive any direct intimation of the propriety of presenting himself at Court. This appears to him not only strange but grossly unfair. He is one of nature's aristocracy—at least so he thinks; and yet he is regarded with indifference by the body of the class aristocrats! Why is this? He knows they have heard of his name; he is convinced that they have read his works, and been mightily tickled thereby; yet how is it that they show no manner of thirst whatever for his society? In vain he lays in scores of apple-green satin waistcoats, florid cravats, and a wilderness of mosaic jewellery—in vain he makes himself conspicuous wherever he can—he is looked at, to be sure; but the right hand of fellowship is withheld. Gradually he becomes savage and indignant. No man is better aware than he is, that not one scion of the existing aristocracy could write a serial or a novel at all to be compared to his; and yet Lord John and Lord Frederick—both of them literary men too—do not insist upon walking with him in the streets, and never once offer to introduce him to the bosom of their respective families! Our friend becomes rapidly bilious; is seized with a moral jaundice; and vows that, in his next work, he will do his uttermost to show up that confounded aristocracy. And he keeps his vow.

Now, Smith, to say the least of it, this is remarkably silly conduct, and it argues but little for the intellect and the temper of the man. It is quite true that the English aristocracy, generally speaking, do not consider themselves bound to associate with every successful candidate for the public favour; but they neither despise him nor rob him of one tittle of his due. The higher classes of society are no more exclusive than the lower. Each circle is formed upon principles peculiar to itself, amongst which are undoubtedly similarity of interest, of position, and of taste; and it is quite right that it should be so. You will understand this more clearly if I bring the case home to yourself. I shall suppose that the success of Silas Spavinhitch is something absolutely triumphant—that it sells by tens and hundreds of thousands, and that the treasury of your publisher is bursting with the accumulated silver. You find yourself, in short, the great literary lion of the day—the intellectual workman who has produced the consummate masterpiece of the age. What, under such circumstances, would be your wisest line of conduct? I should decidedly say, to establish an account at your banker's, enjoy yourself reasonably with your friends, make Mrs Smith and your children as happy as possible, and tackle to another serial without deviating from the tenor of your way. I would not, if I were you, drop old acquaintances, or insist clamorously upon having new ones. I should look upon myself, not as a very great man, but as a very fortunate one; and I would not step an inch from my path to exchange compliments with King or[599] with Kaisar. Don't you think such conduct would be more rational than quarrelling with society because you are not worshipped as a sort of demi-god? Is the Duke of Devonshire obliged to ask you to dinner, because you are the author of Silas Spavinhitch? Take my word for it, Smith, you would feel excessively uncomfortable if any such invitation came. I think I see you at a ducal table, with an immense fellow in livery behind you, utterly bewildered as to how you should behave yourself, and quite as much astounded as Abon Hassan when hailed by Mesrour, chief of the eunuchs, as the true Commander of the Faithful! How gladly would you not exchange these soufflés and salmis for a rump-steak and onions in the back-parlour of the Ducrow's Head! Far rather would you be imbibing porter with Widdicomb than drinking hermitage with his Grace—and O!—horror of horrors! you have capsized something with a French name into the lap of the dowager next you, and your head swims round with a touch of temporary apoplexy, as you observe the snigger on the countenance of the opposite lackey, who, menial as he is, considers himself at bottom quite as much of a gentleman, and as conspicuous a public character as yourself.

And—mercy on me!—what would you make of yourself at a ball? You are a good-looking fellow, Smith, and nature has been bountiful to you in calf; but I would not advise you to sport that plum-coloured coat and azure waistcoat of an evening. Believe me, that though you may pass muster in such a garb most creditably on the Surrey side, there are people in Grosvenor Square who will unhesitatingly pronounce you a tiger. And pray, whom are you going to dance with? You confess to yourself, whilst working on those relentless and impracticable kids, that you do not know a single soul in the saloon except the man who brought you there, and he has speedily abandoned you. That staid, haughty-looking lady with the diamonds, is a Countess in her own right, and those two fair girls with the auburn ringlets are her daughters, the flower of the English nobility, and the name they bear is conspicuous in history to the Conquest. Had you not better walk up to the noble matron, announce yourself as the author of Silas Spavinhitch, and request an introduction to Lady Edith or Lady Maude? You would just as soon consent to swing yourself like Fra Diavolo on the slack-rope! And suppose that you were actually introduced to Lady Maude, how would you contrive to amuse her? With anecdotes of the back slums, or the green-room, or the witticisms of medical students? Would you tell her funny stories about the loves of the bagmen, or recreations with a migratory giantess in the interior of a provincial caravan? Do you think that, with dulcet prattle of this sort, you could manage to efface the impression made long ago upon her virgin heart by that handsome young guardsman, who is now regarding you with a glance prophetic of a coming flagellation? Surely, you misguided creature, you are not going to expose yourself by dancing? Yes, you are! You once danced a polka with little Laura Wilkins on the boards at Astley's, and ever since that time you have been labouring under the delusion that you are a consummate Vestris. So you claw your shrinking partner round the waist, and set off, prancing like the pony that performs a pas-seul upon its hinder legs; and after bouncing against several couples in your rash and erratic career, you are arrested by the spur of a dragoon, which rips up your inexpressibles, lacerates your ankle, and stretches you on the broad of your back upon the floor, to the intense and unextinguishable delight of the assembled British aristocracy.

Or, by way of a change, what would you say to go down with your acquaintance, Lord Walter, to Melton? You ride well—that is, upon several horses, with one foot upon the crupper of the first, and the other upon the shoulder of the fourth. But a hunting-field is another matter. I think I see you attempting to assume a light and jaunty air in the saddle; your long towsy hair flowing gracefully over the collar of your spotless pink; and the nattiest of conical castors secured by a ribband upon the head which imagined[600] the tale of Spavinhitch. You have not any very distinct idea of what is going to take place; but you resolve to demean yourself like a man, and cover your confusion with a cigar. The hounds are thrown into cover. There is a yelping and the scouring of many brushes among the furze; a red hairy creature bolts out close beside you, and, with a bray of insane triumph, you commence to canter after him, utterly regardless of the cries of your fellow-sportsmen, entreating you to hold hard. In a couple of minutes more, you are in the middle of the hounds, knocking out the brains of one, crushing the spine of another, and fracturing the legs of a third. A shout of anger rises behind; no matter—on you go. Accidents will happen in the best regulated hunting-fields—and what business had these stupid brutes to get under your horse's legs? Otherwise, you are undeniably a-head of the field; and won't you show those tip-top fellows how a serialist can go the pace? But your delusion is drawing to an end. There is a clattering of hoofs, and a resonant oath behind you—and smack over your devoted shoulders comes the avenging whip of the huntsman, frantic at the loss of his most favourite hounds, and execrating you for a clumsy tailor. "Serve him right, Jem! Give it him again!" cries the Master of the hounds—a very different person from your old friend the Master of the Ring—as the scarlet crowd rushes by; and again and again, with intensest anguish, you writhe beneath the thong wielded by the brawny groom—and, after sufficient chastisement, sneak home to anoint your aching back, and depart, ere the sportsmen return, for your own Paddingtonian domicile.

Now, Smith, are you not convinced that it would be the height of folly to expose yourself to any such unpleasant occurrences? To be sure you are; and yet there are some dozen of men, no better situated than yourself, who would barter their ears for the chance of being made such laughingstocks for life. The innate good sense and fine feeling of the upper classes, prevents these persons from assuming so extremely false and ridiculous a position, and yet this consideration is rewarded by the most foul and malignant abuse. It is high time that these gentlemen should be brought to their senses, and be taught the real value of themselves and of their writings. Personally they are objectionable and offensive—relatively they are bores—and, in a literary point of view, they have done much more to lower than to elevate the artistic standard of the age. Their affectation of philanthropy and maudlin sentiment is too shallow to deceive any one who is possessed of the ordinary intellect of a man; and in point of wit and humour, which is their stronghold, the best of them is far inferior to Paul de Kock, whose works are nearly monopolized for perusal by the flaneurs and the grisettes of Paris.

Take my advice then, and have nothing to say to the earnest and oneness-of-purpose men. They are not only weak but wicked; and they will lead you most lamentably astray. Let us now look a little into your style, which, after all, is a matter of some importance in a serial.

On the whole, I like it. It is nervous, terse, and epigrammatic—a little too high-flown at times; but I was fully prepared for that. What I admire most, however, is your fine feeling of humanity—the instinct, as it were, and dumb life which you manage to extract from inanimate objects as well as from articulately-speaking men. Your very furniture has a kind of automatonic life; you can make an old chest of drawers wink waggishly from the corner, and a boot-jack in your hands becomes a fellow of infinite fancy. This is all very pleasant and delightful; though I think, upon the whole, you give us a little too much of it, for I cannot fancy myself quite comfortable in a room with every article of the furniture maintaining a sort of espionage upon my doings. Then as to your antiquarianism you are perfect. Your description of "the old deserted stable, with the old rusty harness hanging upon the old decayed nails, so honey-combed, as it were, by the tooth of time, that you wondered how they possibly could support the weight; while across the span of an old discoloured stirrup, a great spider had[601] thrown his web, and now lay waiting in the middle of it, a great hairy bag of venom, for the approach of some unlucky fly, like a usurer on the watch for a spendthrift,"—that description, I say, almost brought tears to my eyes. The catalogue, also, which you give us of the decayed curry-combs all clogged with grease, the shankless besoms, the worm-eaten corn-chest, and all the other paraphernalia of the desolate stable, is as finely graphic as any thing which I ever remember to have read.

But your best scene is the opening one, in which you introduce us to the aërial dwelling of Estrella di Canterini, in Lambeth. I do not wish to flatter you, my dear fellow; but I hold it to be a perfect piece of composition, and I cannot resist the temptation of transcribing a very few sentences:—

"It was the kitten that began it, and not the cat. It isn't no use saying it was the cat, because I was there, and I saw it and know it; and if I don't know it, how should any body else be able to tell about it, if you please? So I say again it was the kitten that began it, and the way it all happened was this.

"There was a little bit, a small tiny string of blue worsted—no! I am wrong, for when I think again the string was pink—which was hanging down from a little ball that lay on the lap of a tall dark girl with large lustrous eyes, who was looking into the fire as intently as if she expected to see a salamander in the middle of it. Huggs, the old cat, was lying at her feet, coiled up with her tail under her, enjoying, to all appearance, a comfortable snooze: but she wasn't asleep, for all the time that she was pretending to shut her eyes, she was watching the movements of a smart little kitten, just six weeks old, who was pouncing upon, and then letting go, like an imaginary mouse, a little roll of paper, which, between ourselves, bore a strong resemblance to two or three others which occupied a more elevated position, being, in fact, placed in a festoon or sort of fancy-garland round the head of the dark girl who was so steadfastly gazing into the fire. But this sort of thing didn't last long; for the kitten, after making a violent pounce, shook its head and sneezed, as if it had been pricked by a pin, which was the case, and then cried mew, as much as to say, 'You nasty thing! if I had known that you were going to hurt me, I wouldn't have played with you so long; so go away, you greasy little rag!' And then the kitten put on a look of importance, as if its feelings had been injured in the nicest points, and then walked up demurely to Huggs, and began to pat her whiskers, as if it wanted, which it probably did, to tell her all about it. But Huggs didn't get up, or open her great green eyes, but lay still upon the rug, purring gently, as though she were dreaming that she had got into a dairy, and that there was nobody to interfere at all between her and the bowls of cream. So the smart little kitten gave another pat, and a harder one than the last, which might have roused Huggs, had it not observed at that moment the little pink string of worsted. Now the end of the little pink string reached down to within a foot of the floor, so that the smart little kitten could easily reach it; so the smart little kitten wagged its tail and stood up upon its hind-paws, and caught hold of the little pink string by the end, and gave it such a pull, that the worsted ball rolled off the girl's knee and fell upon the head of Huggs, who made believe to think that it was a rat, and got up and jumped after it, and the kitten ran too, and gave another mew, as much as to say, that the worsted was its own finding out, and that Huggs shouldn't have it at all. All this wasn't done without noise; so the tall girl looked round, and seeing her worsted ball roll away, and Huggs and the kitten after it, she said in a slightly foreign accent,

"'Worrit that Huggs!'

"All this while there was sitting at the other side of the fire, a young girl, a great deal younger than the other; in fact, a little, very little child, who was sucking a dried damson in her mouth, and looked as if she would have liked to have swallowed it, but didn't do it, for fear of the stone. Now Huggs was the particular pet of the little girl, who wouldn't have her abused on any account, and she said,

"''Twor'n't Huggs, aunt Strelly, 'twore the kitten!'[602]

" 'Eliza Puddifoot!' replied the other, in a somewhat raucous and melo-dramatic tone—'Eliza Puddifoot! I is perticklarly surprised, I is, that you comes for to offer to contradick me. I knows better what's what than you, and all I says is, that there 'ere Huggs goes packing out of the windor!'

"The child—she was a very little one—burst into a flood of tears."

Now, that is what I call fine writing, and no mistake. There is a breadth—a depth—a sort of chiaroscuro, about the picture which betrays the hand of a master, and shows how deeply you have studied in a school which has no equal in modern, and never had a parallel in former times.

Almost equal to this is your sketch of the soirée at Mr Grindlejerkin's, which is written with a close observance of character, and, at the same time, an ease and playfulness which cannot fail of attracting a large share of the popular regard. Your hero, Mr Spavinhitch, has distinguished himself so much by throwing a somerset through a blazing hoop, that at last he receives the honour of an invitation to the hospitalities of the Master of the Ring.

"I can tell you, that an uncommonly fine man Mr Grindlejerkin was, with a stout Roman nose, only a little warty, and black whiskers curling under his chin, and a smart little imperial that gave quite a cock to his countenance, and made him altogether look a good deal like a hero. He was dressed in bright bottle-green, was Mr Grindlejerkin—that is, in so far as regarded his coat, which was garnished with large silver buttons and a horse's head upon them: but his trousers were of a light-blue colour, a little faded or so, and creased, as if they had been sent out a good deal to the washing, and had come home without having been pressed carefully through the mangle. He had evidently been drinking, had Mr Grindlejerkin, for he leaned against the fireplace in a sort of vibratory manner, as if he were not very sure of his own equilibrium, and couldn't trust it. However, he did his best to welcome Silas, which he did with an air of patronising affability, as if he wished him to understand that he was not to be considered as letting himself down by inviting a voltigeur to his table.

"'Now, Mr Spavinhitch,' said Mr Grindlejerkin, 'glad to see you, sir, or any other rising member of the profession. May I perish of the string-halt, sir, if I do not consider you an eminent addition to the Ring! Your last vault through the hoops, sir, was extraordinary; upon my credentials, quite! It reminded me much of my late esteemed friend Goggletrumkins. Ah, what a man that was! Did you know Goggletrumkins, Mr Spavinhitch?'

"Silas modestly repudiated that honour.

"'Ah, sir, you should have known him!' replied the stately Master of the Ring. 'That was indeed a man, sir; the gem of the British arena. His Life-guardsman Shaw, sir, was one of the finest things in nature: quite statuesque, sir; it was enough to inspire a nation. You are, perhaps, not aware, sir, that he used to sit as a model for the Wellington statues?'

"'Indeed!' said Silas.

"'He did, sir,' continued Mr Grindlejerkin solemnly, 'and the boast of Astley's now lives in imperishable marble. But I forgot: you do not know my lady. Mrs Grindlejerkin, my cherub—Mr Spavinhitch, one of our most distinguished recruits.'

"Mrs Grindlejerkin was a tall lady, with black treacly hair, a good deal younger than her lord, to whom she had been only recently united. She was married off the stage, which she had ornamented since she was three years old, when she used to appear as a little fairy crawling out of paste-board tulips, and frighten, by the magic of her rod, some older imps in green, who used to shoulder their legs like muskets, and go through all sorts of strange diabolical manœuvres. Miss Clara Tiggs, such was her virgin name, then rose to the rank of the angels, and might be seen any evening flying across the stage with little gauze winglets fastened to her back, by aid of which it is not likely that she could have flown very far, if it had not been for the cross-wires and the cord attached to her waist. But she looked very pretty, did Clara Tiggs, as she fluttered from the side-wings like an[603] exaggerated butterfly, and rained down white paper flowers upon the heads of imploring lovers. But she soon got too heavy for that business, and having no natural genius for tragedy, and being rather too splayfooted for the ballet, and too stiff-jointed for the hippodrome, she became one of those young ladies in white, who always walk before the queens in melodramatic spectacles, and who keep in pairs, and look like the most loving and affectionate creatures in the world, because they always are holding one another's hands. And it possibly might be this appearance of sisterly devotion which induced Mr Grindlejerkin to pay his addresses to Miss Clara Tiggs; for Miss Clara Tiggs never appeared in public except linked to Miss Emily Whax, another nice young lady, who was always dressed in white, and who carried around her neck a locket, which was supposed to contain the hair of a certain officer who always took a considerable number of tickets for her benefit. Such was Mrs Grindlejerkin, who now saluted Mr Spavinhitch with a pleasant smile.

"'Clara, my own dear love,' said Mr Grindlejerkin after a pause, 'can you tell me what we are to have for supper?'

"'La! Mr Grindlejerkin,' replied the lady, 'how should I know? Sassengers and pettitoes, I suppose. It's very odd,' continued she, addressing Silas—'it's very odd, but Mr Grindlejerkin always does ask me what he is to have for supper!'

"Silas didn't think it was odd at all, for the same idea had just been floating through his mind; but as he did not think it would be right to say so, he merely smiled, whereupon Mrs Grindlejerkin, who was a good-natured body in the main, smiled too, and Mr Grindlejerkin began to smile, but checked himself, and didn't, because it might have been thought that he was letting down his dignity. So he contented himself with ringing the bell, and directed the servant-girl who answered it, rather ferociously, to bring him a tumbler of rum-and-water.

"'Ha! Bingo, my buck, how are you?' cried the Master of the Ring to the principal clown, who now entered the apartment, and who, being a personage of much consideration and importance in the theatrical circles, might be addressed with any kind of familiarity without a compromise of official reserve. 'How are ye, Bingo? Well and herty, eh? Won't you take a drop of summat?'

"'I will,' replied the clown in a melancholy voice, well corresponding to his features, which, when the paint was washed off, were haggard and malagugrious in the extreme. 'I will; but I am not well. Spasms in the heart, kidneys, merry-thought, and liver. A silent sorrow here. Age brings care. I thank you. Stop. I like it stiff.'

"'That's my rum 'un!' said Mr Grindlejerkin. 'Drown dull care in Jamaikey. But here is the Signora Estrella. Madame, you are most welcome!'

"Silas felt the blood rise to his temples. And so at last he could meet her, the lady of his heart, the bright star of his boyish existence, not in the feverish whirl of the arena, beneath the glare of gas, surrounded by clouds of sawdust and the gazing eyes of thousands, but in the calm sanctuary of private life, where, at least if he could find the courage, he might pour forth the incense of his soul, and tell her how madly, how desolatingly he had begun to love her—no, not begun, for it seemed to him as if he had loved her long before he ever saw her: as if the love of her were something implanted in his bosom before yet he knew what it was to undergo the agonies of teething; long before, like a roasting oyster, he lay in his silken cradle, and squared with tiny and ineffectual fists at the approaching phantoms of time, existence, and futurity. It seemed to him as though the doll, with which, when a very little child, he had played, had just the same dark lustrous eyes, with something bead-like and mysterious in their expression, which lent such an inexpressible fascination to the countenance of the beautiful Canterini. That doll! he had fondled it a thousand times in his baby arms: had called it his duck, his dolly, his wifikin, and numerous other terms of childish prattle and endearment: had grown jealous of it, because, when his[604] little brother kissed it, it did not cry out or show any symptoms of anger, and so, in a mad moment of rage and remorse, he had struck the waxen features against a mantelpiece, and shivered them into innumerable fragments. What would he not have given at that moment to have recalled the doll! But it could not be. The fragments had been long, long ago swept into the dust-hole of oblivion, and though they might afterwards have been carried out and scattered over the fresh green fields, where there are trees, and cows, and little singing-birds, and flowers, they could not be—oh no, never—reunited! But the lady, the Signora! no rude hand had marred the wax of that countenance; for though very, very pale, there still lingered beneath her eyes a touch of the enchanting carmine.

"'The Signora,' said Mr Bingo. 'Fine woman. Grass though. Decidedly grass. All flesh is, you know.' And with this remark the mimic resumed his tumbler.

"The Signora turned her dark lustrous eyes upon Silas, and instantly encountered his ardent and devoted gaze. She did not shrink from it; true love never does, for it is always bold if not happy; but she grew a shade paler as she accepted that involuntary homage, and, with a graceful wave of her hand, she sunk upon a calico sofa.

"'The sassengers is dished!' said the pudding-faced servant-maid; and the whole party, now increased by the addition of Mr Jonas Fitzjunk, who did the nautical heroes, and Whang Gobretsjee Jeehohupsejee, the Brahmin conjurer, who talked English with a strong Aberdeen accent, besides one or two other notables, adjourned to the supper-room.

"'Signora, sassenger?' said Mr Grindlejerkin.

"'If you pleases; underdone and graveyless,' replied the beautiful foreigner.

"'Oh, that I were that sausage, that so I might touch those ripe and tempting lips!' thought Silas, as he reached across the Brahmin for the pickles.

"'Can the buddy no tak' a care!' cried Jeehohupsejee; 'fat's he gauen to dee wi' the wee joug?'

"'Hush, conjurer!' cried Bingo. 'Eat. Swallow. That's your sort. Life is short. Victuals become cold.'

"'Mr Grindlejerkin!' screamed the helpmate of that gentleman suddenly from the lower end of the table. 'Mr Grindlejerkin! I wish you would come here and stop Mr Fitzjunk from winking at me!'

"'Mr Fitzjunk!' thundered the Master of the Ring, 'do you know, sir, that that lady has the honour to be my wife? What do you mean by this conduct, sir? How dare you wink?'

"'Avast there, messmate!' said Fitzjunk, who always spoke as if he were in command of a Battersea steamer. 'Avast there! None of your fresh-water and loblolly-boy terms, if you please. Shiver my binnacle, if things haven't come to a pretty pass, when an old British sailor can't throw out a signal of distress to one of the prettiest craft that ever showed her sky-scrapers where Neptune's billows roll!'

"'Oh, Mr Fitzjunk! but you did wink at me!' said Mrs Grindlejerkin, considerably mollified by the compliment.

"'I knows I did,' replied the representative of the British navy. 'The more by token, as how I ha'n't got nothing here to stow away into my locker; so I shut up one deadlight twice, and burned a blue fire for a cargo of pettitoes to heave to.'

"'Was that all, sir?' said Mr Grindlejerkin, still rather sternly.

"'Ay, ay, sir!' replied the tar.

"'Then I shall be happy to drown all unkindness in a pot of porter, sir.'

"'Good!' said Mr Bingo, 'Right. Harmony preserved. Glad to join you. Cup of existence. Gall at bottom.'

"'I beg your pardink, sir,' said the Signora looking full at Silas, who was seated exactly opposite—'I beg your pardink, sir, but vos you pleased to vish anythink?'

"'No, lady!' replied Silas blushing scarlet. 'No, lady, not I—That is—'

"'O, very vell!' observed the Signora; 'it don't much sicknify; only I thought you might vant somethink, 'cos you vos a treadin' on my toes!'"

I shall not, my dear Smith, pursue this delightful scene any further. It[605] is enough to substantiate your claim—and I am sure the public will coincide with me in this opinion—to a very high place amongst the domestic and sentimental writers of the age. You have, and I think most wisely, undertaken to frame a new code of grammar and of construction for yourself; and the light and airy effect of this happy innovation is conspicuous not only in every page, but in almost every sentence of your work. There is no slipslop here—only a fine, manly disregard of syntax, which is infinitely attractive; and I cannot doubt that you are destined to become the founder of a far higher and more enduring school of composition, than that which was approved of and employed by the fathers of our English literature.

You work will be translated, Smith, into French and German, and other European languages. I am sincerely glad of it. It is supposed abroad that a popular author must depict both broadly and minutely the manners of his particular nation—that his sketches of character have reference not only to individuals, but to the idiosyncrasy of the country in which he dwells. Your works, therefore, will be received in the saloons of Paris and Vienna—it may be of St Petersburg—as conveying accurate pictures of our everyday English life; and I need hardly remark how much that impression must tend to elevate our national character in the eyes of an intelligent foreigner. Labouring under old and absurd prejudices, he perhaps at present believes that we are a sober, unmercurial people, given to domestic habits, to the accumulation of wealth, and to our own internal improvements. It is reserved for you, Smith, to couch his visionary eye. You will convince him that a great part of our existence is spent about the doors of theatres, in tap-rooms, pot-houses, and other haunts, which I need not stay to particularize. You will prove to him that the British constitution rests upon no sure foundation, and that it is based upon injustice and tyranny. Above all, he will learn from you the true tone which pervades society, and the altered style of conversation and morals which is universally current among us. In minor things, he will discover, what few authors have taken pains to show, the excessive fondness of our nation for a pure Saxon nomenclature. He will learn that such names as Seymour, and Howard, and Percy—nay, even our old familiars, Jones and Robinson—are altogether proscribed among us, and that a new race has sprung up in their stead, rejoicing in the euphonious appellations of Tox and Wox, Whibble, Toozle, Whopper, Sniggleshaw, Guzzlerit, Gingerthorpe, Mugswitch, Smungle, Yelkins, Fizgig, Parksnap, Grubsby, Shoutowker, Hogswash, and Quiltirogus. He will also learn that our magistrates, unlike the starched official dignitaries of France, are not ashamed to partake, in the public streets, of tripe with a common workman—and a hundred other little particulars, which throw a vast light into the chinks and crevices of our social system.

I therefore, Smith, have the highest satisfaction in greeting you, not only as an accomplished author, but as a great national benefactor. Go on, my dear fellow, steadfastly and cheerfully, as you have begun. The glories of our country were all very well in their way, but the subject is a hackneyed one, and it is scarcely worth while to revive it. Be it yours to chronicle the weaknesses and peculiarities of that society which you frequent—no man can do it better. Draw on for ever with the same felicitous pencil. Do not fear to repeat yourself over and over again; to indulge in the same style of one-sided caricature; and to harp upon the same string of pathos so long as it will vibrate pleasantly to the public ear. What we want, after all, is sale, and I am sure that you will not be disappointed. Use these hints as freely as you please, in the composition of that part of Silas Spavinhitch which is not yet completed; and be assured that I have offered them not in an arrogant spirit, but, as some of our friends would say, with an earnest tendency and a serious oneness of purpose. Good-by, my dear Smith! It is a positive pain to me to break off this letter, but I must conclude. Adieu! and pray, for all our sakes and your own, take care of yourself.[606]


On a Stone.

I have been toiling up this long steep road, under that broiling sun, for more than an hour; my cabriolet is I know not where. The last time I saw it was at the turn of the road, full half-a-mile behind me, and the lean postilion trying to put something comfortable into that lanky carcase of his at the auberge. "Içi on loge à pied et à cheval;" so said the sign: why did not I, who was literally à pied, stop and enjoy myself a little? whereas I stalked proudly by: and now that rogue of the big boots and the powdered queue, and the short jacket and the noisy whip, is getting still more and more slowness out of his sorry horses, and is the man à cheval, treated by the busy little woman of the house as her worthiest customer. The Marquis will be at least two hours in advance of me: I shall not see Madame till night: positively I will run down the hill again and pull that rascal off his horse. Am I not paying for the accommodation of posting? have I not a right to get on? do I not fee him like a prince? I'll try a shout at him.

"Hilloa! hilloa! come along there!"—I might as well shout in the middle of the Atlantic; and as for running back again, why, I shall have to come over the same ground once more: the tariff shall be his fate: not a liard more: and I'll write him down in the post-book; I will crush the reptile: I'll annihilate him!

Here, sit thee down, man: art thou not come hither to enjoy thyself? why this impatience? why this anxiety to go over ground in a hurry which, a few hours ago, thou wouldst have given many a crown to visit at thy leisure? Sit thee down and look around thee: hurry no man's cattle, and fret not thyself out of thy propriety.

And, truly, 'tis a wondrous spot! what a wide extent of grassy slopes and barren rocky wastes! how white and hard and rough the road; how smooth the hill-side; how blue the distant landscape; how more than blue the cloudless sky! Look onwards towards the distant east; why, you can see almost across France to the Jura: what endless ridges of mountains, one above the other, like the billows of the green sea: what boundless plains between! But turn, for a moment, to the hills on either side of you; look at those wild copses of fir and stunted oak making good their 'vantage ground wherever the scanty vegetation will allow them; and above, look at the little round clumps of box-trees, dotting the mountain-breast with their shadows, and relieving the dull uniformity of its surface. So dark are they that you might take them for black cattle at a distance; but that, ever and anon, the sun brings out from them a bright green tint, and dispels the illusion.

Here, then, on this stone, am I resting, hundreds of miles away from my dull fatherland; where I have left behind me nought but pride and ennui, and heart-corroding cares, and soul-harrowing occupations. I have quitted that dense, black, throng of men, whose minds, pent up in the narrow circle of their insular limits, are intent on one thing only—and that thing, money! Thou land of the rich and the poor; of the lord and the slave; of the noble and the upstart; chosen home of labour and never-ending care; I have bid thee adieu: my face is to the world; my lot is on the waters of boundless life; and I am free to choose my dwelling wherever the clime suits my fancy, and my wishes tally with the clime. In this dry and barren valley, amidst those lofty hills, where once fire and sulphur and burning rocks poured forth as the only elements, and where the melted lava flowed along the face of the earth like an unloosed torrent; in this lonely spot, where few living beings are seen, and yet where the vast reproductive energies of the[607] world have been so widely developed—even here, let me commune a while with nature and with myself.

Thou mysterious power of expansion, whatever thou art, whether some igneous form existing within the womb of Earth, and demonstrating thyself ere our tiny planet revolved in its present orb—or whether some product of the combination of chemical fluids originating flames, and melting this prison-house with fervent heat—say when didst thou convulse this fair land, and raise up from the circumjacent plains these mountain-masses that now tower over my head? For I see around me the traces not of one, but of four separate convulsions; and I can pursue in fancy the long lapse of ages which have served to modify the crude forms of thy products, and to change the various classes of animated life which have lived and died at the feet of these vast steeps. First come thy granitic ebullitions, slow, lumpy, and amorphous—partly incandescent, yet glowing with heat that cooled not for ages;—and then, when these rude ribs of the earth had been worn and channeled by atmospheric action, through time too vast to be reckoned, they split again with a mighty rending up of their innermost frame, and thy power, fell spirit of destruction! thrust forth the great chain of the Monts Dor, and the Cantal. There thou raisedst them stratum above stratum of volcanic rock; and scoriæ and boiling mud, and lava, and porphyry, and basalt, and light pumice, tier above tier, till the seven-thousandth foot above Old Ocean's level had been reached; and then thou restedst from thy labours awhile, rejoicing in thy force, and proud of the chaos thou hadst occasioned. But not to slumber long; for, glad to have made a new mineral combination, thou didst thrust forth at the northern point of thy work the great trachytic mass of the Puy de Dôme: there it stands with its solid hump of felspathic crystals, a vast watch-tower of creation—white and purple within, glassy-green without. And then burst out the full hubbub of this mischief—twenty vast craters vomiting forth molten rocks and cinders and the deep lava-stream, and throwing their products leagues upon leagues, afar into the fair country:—twenty Etnas thundering away at the same time, and answered by twenty more in the Vivaraix, and the infernal chorus kept up by as many in the Cantal:—all the batteries of the Plutonic artillery launching forth destruction at once from the summits of their primæval bastions. Well was it for man that he existed not when this Titanic warfare was going on, and when these hills, like those of ancient Thessaly, were heaped, each upon each, up to heaven's portal! If Europe then existed, it must have been shaken to its furthest bounds:—Hecla must have answered to the distant roar; and even the old Ural must have heaved its unwieldy sides.

And now, what see we? A sea of volcanic waves; dark lava-currents—rough, black, and fresh as though vomited but yesterday:—vast chasms, red and burnt, and cinders, as though the fire which raised them were not yet extinguished. Why, from the Puy de Parion I could swear that smoke must rise at times, and that sulphurous vapours must still keep it in perpetual desolation. Yes, though winter's rains and snows visit this volcanic chain full sharply, and though the gigantic sawing force of frost disintegrates the softer portions of this, the Fire-king's Home, yet there they stand—and so they shall stand, till nature be again convulsed, the imperishable monuments, the stupendous demonstrations, of the Creator's illimitable energy. Yes, let the Almighty but touch these hills again, and they shall smoke!

Thou dull, senseless stone, with thy numberless crystals variegating and glittering on the hard resting-place that I have chosen, whence came those minerals that combined to form thee? Did they exist, pell-mell, beneath, in the vast Tartaric depths, ready to assimilate themselves on the first signal of eruption? or did they arise suddenly, instantaneously, on the first darting of the electric current that summoned their different atoms into new forms of existence? Whence came this green olivine?—whence this plate of specular iron?—whence this quartz and felspar; and all these other minerals I see around me? Thou rude product of the great[608] infernal Foundery, thy very existence is a problem—much more the formation of thy component parts.

Stone! thou art not more varied in thy aspect—not less intelligible in thy constitution—not harder, not more unfeeling, than the heart of man! I would sooner have thee for my companion and my bosom friend, than any of that melancholy, solemn-faced crowd of hypocrites I have left behind me. Refuse me not thy rough welcome: thou art, for the time being, my couch: thou art even warmed by my contact: hast thou, then, some sympathy with the wanderer? Thou dull, crystallised block, I will think of thee, and will remember thy solid virtues, when the uncongenial offices of man shall plague me no more!

The Philosopher.

"Monsieur!" said the postilion: "Monsieur!" he repeated; and he looked round wistfully to see if any one was at hand. Now, I hate to be interrupted in a reverie; and, indeed, I was so absorbed in the wheelings of a kite over my head, that I was thinking of any thing but of my lazy guide and my rolling wheels. A loud clack—clack—slap—tap—crack—crack of the whip, flourished over his head with all the gusto and the savoir-craquer of a true postilion, brought me to myself. "Monsieur, I have been waiting your orders here for half an hour."

The coolness with which the fellow lied, disarmed me of my wrath in a minute: I had else docked him of his pigtail, or broken the wooden sides of his boots for him. But he had such an imperturbable air of self-satisfaction, and he thrust his thumb so knowingly into his little black pipe, and this again he plunged with such nonchalance into his pocket, that I saw he was a philosopher of the true school—and I profited by his example.

"Fellow," said I, "dost know that I have promised myself the pleasure of passing half an hour with M. de Montlosier on my road to the baths: and that at the rate thou takest me at, I shall not see Mont Dor till to-morrow?"

"Don't be afraid, Monsieur: I know the Count's house well: we are not more than an hour's drive from it: I go there with some one or other every week; and as for Mont-Dor-les-bains, why—that depends on Monsieur: if you get there by dark it will do, I suppose—the provisions will not all be eaten, nor the beds filled!"

Lucky fellow to live in a world where no greater stimulus to labour exists than here! why should we toil and wear ourselves to death as we do in England for the mere means of living—and forget the lapse of life itself? So, pocketing my dignity, and also pocketing sundry specimens of my mute companions the stones, I mounted into the cabriolet—and lost myself once more in my thoughts till I arrived at the Ferme de Randan.

Just where the Puy de Vache circles round with two other red hollow craters, and at the end of a black sea of lava, stood the philosopher's house: a plain low building: half farm half cottage: with a few trees and enclosures shutting it in, and two or three acres of garden-ground bringing up the rear. There was an air of simplicity about the whole exceedingly striking, and the more so if one thought of the simple-minded man who dwelt within. My name was announced: my letters of introduction presented: and the Comte de Montlosier welcomed me to his mountain home.

"You see me here, sir," he said, "quite a farmer; I am tired of the busy world: who would not be, after having lived in it so long, and after having seen such events? I can here give myself up to my books: I can speculate on the wonders of this remarkable district, I can attend to my little property—for I have not much remaining—and I can receive my friends. You would not believe it, but Dr D—— of Oxford was with me last week: he came to look at our volcanoes, and he stayed with me several days: a charming little man, sir, and very active in climbing over hills. You will excuse me, perhaps, if I do not offer to accompany you to the summit of the Puy de Vache: but my servants are at your orders: had[609] I as few years over my head as when I first visited Arthur's Seat, I would be at your side in all your mountain rambles; but age and ease are fond of keeping company."

"Ah, Monsieur le Comte, I came to make your acquaintance; your hills I will see at another time."

"Young man, you are wrong: these volcanic mountains are worthy of your deepest study; for myself, I am nothing but a broken-down old man. I have nothing here attractive to my friends. The spot is full of charms for myself, but not for others. I have so many old associations connected with it: 'tis my paternal estate: I had to fly from it during those terrible days, and I never thought to see it again: but now that I find myself once more restored to it, my unwillingness to quit the place increases every day. After all, you can learn more about Auvergne from your learned countryman, Poulett Scrope, than from me; my little work, by the way, is at your service if you will accept it: I am as a lamp going out, you find me flickering, and when next you pass this way, the light may be extinguished."

"True, sir; and it is from these expiring flames that the brightest sparks may be sometimes derived: at any rate I would know from you wherewith to trim my own lamp for future days."

"Alas," replied the Count, "the present generation are not willing to give credit to the last for all they have witnessed, for all they have undergone. Had you, like me, seen all the phases of the Revolution, from the time when I was sent as a deputy to the States-General from Auvergne, to the Reign of Terror, and then the time of exile, and if you could have felt the joys of returning to your longlost home again, you might indeed look back on your life with emotion—let me say with gratitude."

"Did you know many members of the literary and scientific world previous to the Revolution?"

"Oh yes, I was acquainted with Condorcet, Lavoisier, and many others of that stamp. Who shall say that, in the deaths of those great men, France did not lose more than she gained by all her boasted freedom? Ah yes, the men of those days were giants in intellect! there was a force of originality in them, a vividness of thought and expression, which we shall never witness again: and, allow me to say, there was a dignity surrounding them, and accompanying them, which, with all our pretended liberality and respect for science, we are far from attributing to their followers now. Those of us, the actors in some of those tremendous scenes who still survive, are but as the blasted oaks of the forest after the hurricane has swept by. Some few remain erect; but withered, scorched, and leafless: all the rest are prostrate, snapped off at the root—many in the full vigour of vegetation: all now rotting on the ground. It was a national tempest—a tornado—an earthquake; it was like an eruption from the very volcano in whose bosom we are now sitting and talking. The world never has seen, and perhaps never shall see, any thing half so terrible as our Revolution. My young friend, excuse me; perhaps you are a politician—and you are newly arrived in France: things are tending to something ominous even at the present day. M. de Polignac has just been summoned to office: the king is an easy good man—a perfect gentleman—and an honest one, too; but there are people near the throne who would be glad to see it tottering, and who are ready to take advantage of the least false step. Mark my words, sir, another year will produce something decisive in the history of France."

"But surely, M. le Comte, every thing is too much consolidated since the Restoration of Louis XVIII. to allow of any fresh changes—the French nation have all the liberty they can desire."

"Much more, my dear sir, than they either understand or can enjoy properly. I am ashamed to say it, but my fellow countrymen are children in constitutional matters: every thing depends on the personal character of our governors for the time being. And again, we are too ambitious; every body wants to rise—by fair means or by foul; but rise he must: and every body expects to be a gainer by change. We are, and I am afraid we always shall be, fond of playing at revolutions."[610]

"Permit me to think better of the French, sir. I am delighted with their country, and I wish them all the happiness that the possession of so fine a territory can cause."

"You are right: it is a fine territory: it might be the first agricultural country in Europe: there is hardly a square league of ground in it that is not suitable to some useful vegetable production. We have none of the cold clays nor barren heathtracts of Great Britain; our mountains all admit of pasturage to their tops, or are productive of wood; and our climate is so genial that even the bare limestone rocks of Provence yield, as you are aware, the finest grapes. Here, in the midst of the Monts Dor, you will come upon those vast primæval forests of the silver-fir which have never been disturbed from the time of their erection, and you will judge for yourself how rich even this district really is. Look at our rivers: at our boundless plains, covered with corn and wine, and oil: and yet allowed to stand fallow one year in three. My good friends in Scotland—for, believe me, I shall ever remember with gratitude my stay in Edinburgh—do not farm their lands in our slovenly fashion. France, depend upon it, might be made, and I believe it will ultimately become, one of the richest and most prosperous countries of Europe. The wealth of England is fleeting: when you come to lose India and others of your colonies—and 'twill be your fate sooner or later, your power will, with your trade, fall to the ground: and, like your predecessors in a similar career, the Portuguese and the Dutch, you must infallibly become a second or third-rate power. France is solid and compact: her wealth lies in her land: you cannot break up that: she exists now, and is great without any colony worthy of mention: and she cannot but increase. Even Spain, from her mere geographical size and position, has a better chance of political longevity than England."

"And yet Spain is rather decrepid at present, you will admit, M. le Comte."

"True; but a century, you know, is nothing in the life of a nation:—England, to speak the truth, was only a second-rate power until the reign of George the Second. She has still her social revolution to go through: and whatever has been effected for the benefit of this country would have come without the Revolution: and it was paying rather dear to destroy the whole framework of society for what we should certainly have attained by easy and more natural means. It is a fearful catastrophe to break up all the old ideas and feelings of a people, merely to substitute in their place something new—you know not what: better or worse—and most probably the latter. Add to this, that the results of the Revolution have fully borne out what I maintain: we are neither better nor happier than we should have been had we gone on as usual: other countries which have not been revolutionised are just as happy and prosperous as we are."

"But then the more equal distribution of property, M. le Comte; has not this effected some good?"

"Some it may have caused undoubtedly; but much less than is imagined: the effect of it has been only to raise up an aristocracy of money, instead of one of birth: and, aristocracy for aristocracy, the former is infinitely more overbearing and tyrannical than the latter. Before the Revolution, the country was said to be in the hands of the nobles and the clergy: what has happened since? It has merely been transferred to those of the lawyers and the employés. Every third man you meet, holds some place or other under government: and you can hardly transact the commonest affairs of life without the aid of the notary or the advocate. We cannot boast much of our comparative improvement in morality: for in Paris, the prefect of police can inform you, from the registers of births, that one in three children now born there is always illegitimate."

"Of what good, then, has the Revolution been?"

"My young friend, ask not that question; it was one of those inscrutable arrangements of Providence, the aim and extent of which we do not yet know. You might as well ask what these puys and volcanoes have done to benefit the country, which, no doubt, they once devastated;[611] they may even yet break out into activity again, and France may even yet have to pass through another social trial. Things have not yet found their level amongst us.—But we are getting into a long political and philosophical discussion that makes me forget my duties to my guest. I am at least of opinion that the volcanoes have done me personally some good; for they have formed this wonderful country, and they attract hither many of my friends, whom I might otherwise never have seen again. You will appreciate them when you arrive at the Baths; and, apropos of this, I am coming over there myself in a few days to consult my friend Dr Bertrand. This will give me the opportunity of introducing you to several of the visitors worth knowing. You will find a gay and gallant crowd there; and let me advise you, take care of your heart and your pockets."

"Monsieur, dinner is served," said a domestic, opening the door; so I followed the worthy Count into the salle-à-manger.

A Shandrydan.

The top of the great plateau of Auvergne looked beautiful the evening I reached it—a fine July evening, when the sun had yet three hours to go down, and I was about a dozen miles from the village of the Baths. I had been vainly flattering myself that something or other might have detained M. de Mirepoix's carriage, and that I should have the pleasure of viewing this splendid scene in company with Madame. She had so strong a taste for the picturesque, that I knew her sympathies would be expressed, and I anticipated no small pleasure from eliciting her sentiments. To see what is magnificent in the society of one whose feelings of the sublime and beautiful emulate your own in intensity, multiplies the charm, and elevates the pleasure, by the mutual communication of the effects perceived and produced. So I looked out for their carriage anxiously.

Nothing met my eye but the long undulating plain stretching like a rounded wave or swell of the ocean to the feet of the mountains, and the distant blue horizon—to the west nearly as far off as the Garonne—to the east as far as the Saone. The plateau was covered with fine grass, pastured by large herds of small dark-coloured cattle, goats, and a few sheep; wild-flowers grew here and there of fragrant smell, and the tops of the vast pine forests peeped up from the ends of the deep ravines that run far into the bosom of the still hills. The sky was without a cloud, and the sun seemed to gain double glory as he fell towards his western bed.

My spirits rose with the scene; I was excited and yet happy; the full genial warmth of nature was before me, and around me, and in me. I could have danced and sung for joy. I could have stopped there for ever, and I wanted somebody to say all this to, and who should re-echo the same to me.

There stood the postilion—dull, senseless, brutal animal—he had got off his horses, for I was once more out of the cabriolet, and was bounding over the turf to look over the edge of a precipice on my right hand: there he stood, he had lighted another pipe, and was thinking only of a good chopine of wine out of his pour-boire, when he should arrive at the village.

"A fine view, mon ami!" said I, at last, in pure despair.

He gave a shrug with his shoulders.

"Very high mountains those," I went on.

He turned round and looked at them; and then tapped his pipe against his whip.

"What splendid forests!" I added.

"Monsieur! voyez-vous! it is the most villainous road I know; and if we do not push on, we shall not get to Mont Dor before dark. I would not go over the bridge at the bottom there in the dark, no Monsieur, not if I had the honour to be carrying M. Le Préfet himself. They were never found, Monsieur!"

"Who were never found?"

"Why, sir, when Petit-jean was[612] driving M. le Commandant, the last year but one—he was going to the Baths for the gout, sir—he did not get down to the bridge till near ten at night; there was no parapet then, the horses did not know the road, and over they went, roll, roll, all the way into the Dor at the bottom; thirty feet, sir, and more, and then the cascade to add to that."

"Dreadful! and did no trace remain of the unfortunate traveller and your poor friend?"

"Oh, certainly yes! they got well wetted; but they rode the horses into the village the same evening."

"Who were lost, then?"

"Petit-jean's new boots, and 'twas the first time he had put them on."

I jumped into the cabriolet; "drive on," said I pettishly, "and go to the ——"

"Hi! hardi! Sacré coquin!" and crash went the whip over the off horse's flank, enough to cut a steak of his lean sides had there been any flesh to spare. In a quarter of an hour we found ourselves going down a steep rough road, such as might break the springs of the best carriage, chariot, britscha, &c., that ever came out of Long-Acre; and the thumps that I got against the sides of my own vehicle, light as it was, made me call out for a little less speed, and somewhat more care.

"Don't be afraid, Monsieur! Hi! hardi! heugh!"

I thought it was all over with me; so, holding in my breath, and firmly clenching the top of my apron, I looked straight a-head, and made up my mind for a pitch over the wall at the bottom, and down through the wood, like the commandant and Petit-jean.

Just as we got to the bottom of the hill, we turned a sharp corner, that I had not before perceived, and charged, full gallop, right into an old shandrydan, that had pulled up, and, with a single horse, was beginning to climb the ascent. Our impetus seemed to carry us over the poor animal that was straining against its load, for he fell under our two beasts, and the shafts of the cabriolet catching the shandrydan under the driver's seat, turned it completely topsy-turvy into the midst of the road.

Such a shriek, or rather such a chorus of confused cries, came forth from the dark sides of that small and closely-shut vehicle!

"Au secours!" "Jesus-Maria!" "Vite, vite!" "Relevez-nous!" "Pour l'amour de Dieu!"

They were women's voices:—

"Ah ça, j'étouffe!" said a deep, gruff voice, in the midst of the hubbub.

As neither the postilion nor myself were hurt, we were quickly on our legs: he trying to get the horses disentangled—for they were kicking each other to pieces—and I to aid a thin, meek-looking peasant lad, who had been driving the shandrydan, to right the crazy vehicle.

'Twas a square, black-looking thing, covered at top, with no opening whatever but a small window in the door behind. It might have been built some time in the reign of Louis le Bien-aimé, and its cracked leather sides and harness seemed as if they had been strangers to oil ever since. If people were not very corpulent, four might have squeezed into it—not that they would have been comfortable, but they could have got in, and would have sat on the opposite seats, without much room to spare.

Some honest old Frenchman, thought I to myself, with his wife and daughter, and perhaps their maid. Poor man! he is coming from the Baths, cured of some painful malady, and now has had the misfortune to run the risk of his life—if, indeed, his bones be not broken—and all through that étourdi of a postilion. "If I do not report him to the maître de poste!" said I to myself.

"For the love of God, messieurs," said a faint voice, "get us out!"

"The door! the door! open the door then!" said at least three other voices, one after the other and all together.

"Je meurs!" wept the bass-voice from the inmost recesses of the vehicle—or it might have been from under ground, so deep and sepulchral was its tone.

"Don't disturb yourself, monsieur," grumbled the postilion, who had now got one of his horses on its legs; "'tis nothing! Come along, you varmint!" said he to the poor young peasant,[613] who stood wringing his hands and looking distractedly at his whip—'twas broken clean in half—"Arrive, te dis-je!—pousse bien là!—là bien! encore! hardi! houp!"

The door of the shandrydan burst open, and there emerged, in sadly rumpled state, a pitiable confusion of rustled petticoats and tumbled headgear, red as the roses on a summer's morn, and dewy as the grass on an autumn eve—six sœurs-de-charité, all white and black like sea-fowl thrown from the shooter's bag—and after them, slowly toiling forth and writhing through the door in unwieldy porpoise-guise—M. le Curé!


Though clouds o'ercast our native sky,
And seem to dim the sun,
We will not down in languor lie,
Or deem the day is done:
The rural arts we loved before
No less we'll cherish now;
And crown the banquet, as of yore,
With Honour to the Plough.
In these fair fields, whose peaceful spoil
To faith and hope are given,
We'll seek the prize with honest toil,
And leave the rest to Heaven.
We'll gird us to our work like men
Who own a holy vow,
And if in joy we meet again,
Give Honour to the Plough.
Let Art, array'd in magic power,
With Labour hand in hand,
Go forth, and now in peril's hour
Sustain a sinking land.
Let never Sloth unnerve the arm,
Or Fear the spirit cow;
These words alone should work a charm—
All Honour to the Plough.
The heath redress, the meadow drain,
The latent swamp explore,
And o'er the long-expecting plain
Diffuse the quickening store:
Then fearless urge the furrow deep
Up to the mountain's brow,
And when the rich results you reap,
Give Honour to the plough.
So still shall Health by pastures green
And nodding harvests roam,
And still behind her rustic screen
Shall Virtue find a home:
And while their bower the muses build
Beneath the neighbouring bough,
Shall many a grateful verse be fill'd
With Honour to the Plough.



The study of literary history offers an extraordinary charm, when it tends to raise the veil, frequently thrown by inattention and forgetfulness, over noble and graceful forms, which deserved to excite the interest, or even to receive the active thanks of posterity. At such moments, we find the mysterious sources of inspiration admired, through a long period, for their fulness and sincerity: we go back to the forgotten or falsely interpreted causes of celebrated actions, of classic writings, of resolutions, whose renown rang through many ages; the vagueness of poetic pictures gives place to positive forms; and that which appeared but a brilliant phantom is sometimes transformed into a living reality.

Among the glorious titles which have borne the name of Michel Angelo Buonarotti to so high a pitch of celebrity, the least popular is that derived from the composition of his poetical works. The best judges, however, regard these productions not only with profound esteem, but yet more often with an ardent admiration. Michel Angelo lived during the golden age of the Lingua Toscana. Among the poets who filled the interval between the publication of the Orlando and that of the Aminta—first, in order of date, of the chefs-d'o[eu]vres of Torquato—not one has raised himself above, nor, perhaps, to the level, of Buonarotti. In the study of his writings, we recognise all the essential characteristics of his genius, as revealed to the world in his marbles, frescos, and the edifices erected by his hand. It is a copious poetry—masculine and vigorous—fed with high thoughts—serious and severe in the expression. Berni wrote truly of it to Fra Sebastiano—"Ei dice cose: voi dite parole!" The poet exists always in entire possession of himself: enthusiasm elevates, carries him away, but seduces him never. We admire in his mind a constitution firm, healthful, and fertile—a constant equilibrium of passion, will, and conception—often of fervency—nowhere of delirium. The qualities necessary to the artist do no harm to those which make the thinker and good citizen—every where, as in the literary laws of ancient Greece, consonance, sophrosyne, moderation. Michel Angelo, amid the passions and illusions of his time, knew how to hold the helm of "that precious bark, which singing sailed."[50] Sincere and humble Christian, with a leaning to the austere, he succeeded in keeping himself free from all superstition; declared republican, he avoided all popular fanaticism, and bore, even during the siege of Florence, the honourable hostility of the Arrabiati; admirer of Savonarola, he combated the sickly exaggerations of the esprit piagnone, and remained faithful to the worship of art; and last, guest of Leo X., favourite sculptor of Julius II., he never suffered himself to be seduced by the Pagan intoxication of the Renaissance; from his early youth, the frame, in which he was destined to form so many sublime conceptions, was irrevocably determined.

But, in the poetical works of Michel Angelo, as in his works of sculpture and design, there is a side of grace and delicacy; the fire of a masculine and profound tenderness circulates, so to speak, in all the members of this marvellous body. Angelo's regularity of morals was never altered by doubts; it acquired, even at an early period, the externals of a rigid austerity. But had he, in his youthful years, experienced the power of a real love? We have nothing to reply to those who, after an attentive perusal of his writings, see in them nothing more than a jeu-d'esprit produced by a vain fantasy. But to those who think, with us, that truth and force of expression suppose reality and depth of sentiment—to those who discover the burning traces of a passion which has conquered the heart, and imprinted a new direction on the thoughts of the [615]writer, in the precious metal of this classical versification, we propose to follow us for a few moments. We shall seek whatever historical vestiges have been left of the object of this affection, as durable as sincere: we shall afterwards examine the manner in which Michel Angelo has expressed it in his rhyme; what order of philosophical and religious ideas developed themselves in his mind, in intimate connexion with the ardour that penetrated his heart; whatever influences, in short, which a love, whose object quitted this life so early, appears to have exercised upon the whole duration of a career prolonged, with so great eclat, for more than sixty years afterwards.[51]

The smallest acquaintance with the character of Michel Angelo would lead to the belief that, according to the expression of his epoch, he could "have fixed his heart nowhere but in a lofty sphere. The conjectures which have been formed bore reference to the house of the first citizen of Florence and of Italy, at the period of Angelo's entrance on his career, to the family of the grandson of Cosmo Pater Patriæ," of the man to whom the disinterested voice of foreigners and of posterity has confirmed all that his contemporaries attributed to him, in the great work of the Italian Renaissance—scientific, literary, artistic even—namely, the chief and most brilliant honour.

Lorenzo the Magnificent, born in 1450, married Clarice Orsini in 1468. There were born from this alliance, besides the children who died in the cradle, three sons and four daughters. In 1492, Pietro succeeded to the offices and dignity of his father, and lost them in 1494; Giovanni mounted the Pontifical throne, and became the illustrious Leo X.; Giuliano died Duke of Nemours and "prince du gouvernement" of Florence. Of the four daughters, Maddalena became the wife of Francesco Cybo, Count dell Anguillara, Lucrezia married Giacopo Salviati; and Contessina, Piero Ridolfi. Luigia was the youngest, according to certain authorities; Count Pompeo Litta, however, in his Illustri Famiglie Italiane, places her in order of birth immediately after Maddalena. Whichever it may be, Clarice Orsini dying in 1488, Lorenzo contracted no other alliance, and, at the end of four years, followed his wife to the tomb. We have no means of determining the age Luigia had reached at the time of this melancholy event; but, as her marriage was then talked of, we cannot give her less than from fifteen to sixteen years. Michel Angelo, born the 6th March 1475,[52] wanted a month of his seventeenth year when he lost the generous protector of his early youth.

It was in 1490 that Angelo first went to live in the house of the Magnificent Lorenzo. Apprenticed, the 1st April 1488, to the "master of painting," Domenico di Tommasso del Ghirlandajo, he astonished the grave and learned artist by his rapid progress and fire of imagination. Ghirlandajo, finding his disposition more decided for sculpture than for the pencil, hastened to recommend him to Lorenzo, who, in his gardens, situated near the convent of Saint Mark, was exerting himself to create a school capable of restoring to Florence the glorious days of the Ghiberti and the Donatello. It was no easy task for the prince of the Florentine government to buy the child of genius from the timorous avarice of his father, Lodovico Buonarotti.[53] At length, an office in the financial administration of the state, conferred upon the father, and a provision of five ducats monthly settled on the son, but of which it was agreed that Lodovico should derive the profit, conquered the scruples of the old citizen; and Michel Angelo, adopted as it were, among the children of Lorenzo, was enabled, at his own pleasure, to divide his hours between the practice of his favourite art, and the lessons that Pietro, Giovanni, and Giuliano received at "the Platonic [616]Academy," of which the illustrious Politiano was director.

This society, of which Lorenzo was the soul as well as the founder,[54] reckoned among its members certain individuals, whose names are still held in respect by posterity; and many others who, less distinguished or less fortunate, exercised, nevertheless, a useful influence on the regeneration of good studies, and the diffusion of the knowledge that may be derived from the works of antiquity. Among the former, the first rank was unanimously given to Politiano, Pico della Mirandola, Leon-Battista Alberti, and Marsilio Ficino. Lorenzo required that his sons should be present at the learned discourses of the academy. Michel Angelo listened to them in company with Pietro, and Cardinal Giovanni, and received most flattering consideration from Politiano. The subtilties of Grecian metaphysics, and the technical language of logic, discouraged Buonarotti's clear and free understanding; but the sublimity of conception, and majesty of expression of the Attic Bee, met with marvellous affinities in the disposition of the young Florentine. These studies developed in Michel Angelo, the poetical genius of which he has left admirable proofs in his marbles, his cartoons, and his writings.

It was not only the affectionate interest of Lorenzo, the intimacy with his sons, and the generous cares of Politiano, in the house of the Medici, which aided the progress, and inflamed the energy of Michel Angelo. At this same time, more profound lessons were repeated in an austere pulpit, not far from the delicious gardens of Valfondo. Girolamo Savonarola, the celebrated dominican of Saint Mark, was at the zenith of his reputation; and his influence over the people of Florence, without directly thwarting that of Lorenzo, began, nevertheless, to counterbalance it. Michel Angelo, says the most exact of his biographers, (Vasari, Vite dei Pittori,) read "with great veneration" the works written by the enthusiastic and eloquent monk. From him he learned to seek in the Holy Scriptures for the pure and direct source of the highest inspiration; and, during his whole life, Buonarotti had constantly in his hand the sacred volume, and the Divina Comedia of Dante, which he regarded as a commentary at once philosophical, theological, and, above all, poetical upon the former. An ardent love of art confined within due bounds the effect which Savonarola's exhortations produced upon the true and serious soul of the young sculptor; he neither followed the Dominican in his fanatical hostility to the artistic and literary Renaissance, then displaying all the riches of its spring, nor in the political aberrations which Savonarola, after the death of Lorenzo, had the misfortune to display in the public squares of Florence, and even in the heart of her councils.

In the midst of a life so full and already fruitful, which the approach of a glory almost unequalled illuminated by a few precursive rays, Michel Angelo appears to have opened his heart to the sentiment of a love as true and elevated as the other emotions which swayed his soul, and directed his faculties: Luigia de' Medici seems to have been its object. It is, as already remarked, in the poetical compositions, forming the first part of Angelo's collection, that we must endeavour to find the imperishable memorials of this tenderness, to which the illusions even of early youth appear to have never lent, for a single moment, any hope of the union with which it might have been crowned. Michel Angelo's timid pride combined with his respect and gratitude to interdict to him all designation, even indirect, of the woman to whom his affections were bound by a chain whose embrace death alone could have relaxed. We shall see in the poetry of Buonarotti none of the artifice made use of by Petrarch to render the name of Laura intelligible, which Camoëns afterwards employed to celebrate Donna Caterina, and from which, still later, the unhappy Torquato regretted, with much bitterness, to have wandered, when, in the intoxication of his illusions, he traced the fatal name of Eleonora.


"Quando sara che d'Eleonora mia
Potro goder in libertade amore."
(Verse stolen from Tasso and given to the Duke of Ferrara.)

It is but rarely, and with a light touch, that Angelo makes allusion to the extreme youth of her whom he loves,—

——"il corpo umano
Mal segue poi ... d'un angelletta
il volo."—(Sonnetto 15.)

Once only he speaks of light hair:—

"Sovra quel biondo crin" ...
       (Sonnetto ultimo.)

Never does he write a word that can be referred to the difference of rank existing between them, to the splendour which had surrounded the cradle even of the daughter of the great citizen whom all Italy seems to have made the arbiter of her political combinations. Michel Angelo speaks only of the touching beauty of her who has subjugated him by "that serene grace, certain mark of the nobility and purity of a soul in perfect harmony with its Creator;" (Sonnetto 3, et passim in the first part.) Never does he give us to understand that his love received the least encouragement. It has been thought, however, that Luigia had detected the attachment of the youth whose genius had as yet been attested by no great work, and that she rewarded it by the tenderest friendship. It is certain that, in a transport of gratitude, Angelo wrote the beautiful verse—

"Unico spirto, e da me solo inteso!"
           (Sonnetto 16.)

and that, in another morceau, he thanks "those beautiful eyes which lend him their sweet light, the genius that raises his own to heaven, the support that steadies his tottering steps,"

"Veggio co'bei vostri occhi un dolce
     lume." ... —(Sonnetto 12.)

But, checking himself immediately in these half-revelations, the poet, on the contrary, multiplies the complaints torn from him by the coldness and apparent indifference of her whose beauty he celebrates, whom he can render immortal. See more particularly Sonnet 21—

"Perchè d'ogni mia speme il verde è spento."

He exclaims even that he has rarely enjoyed the presence on which his happiness depends:—"You know neither custom nor opportunity have served my affection: it is very rarely that my eyes kindle themselves at the fire which burns in yours, guarded by a reserve to which desire scarcely dares to approach—

——'gli occhi vostri
Circonscritti ov' appena il desir vola.'

A single look has made my destiny, and I have seen you, to say truly, but once."—(Madrigale 5.)

It has been said that the "divine hand" of Michel Angelo painted the portrait of Luigia de' Medici. This is the name given, in reality, during the last century, to the head of a young female, "handsome rather than really beautiful," writes father Della Valle—a work in which Buonarotti's drawing was said to be recognised, with a softer and more lively colouring than obtains in the other pictures from his easel. Angelo's repugnance to paint portraits is one of the best established traits of his character. But he sculptured several—among those positively known are that of Julius II., lost in the chateau of Ferrara, and another of Gabriel Faërne, preserved in the Museum Capitolinum. We know, besides, that he consented to paint the portrait of the noble and witty Messer Tomasso de' Cavalieri, (see Vasari,) of the natural size; but that was a rare favour. "For," said he, "I abhor the obligation to copy that which, in nature, is not of infinite beauty." In another place, sonnet nineteen, addressing the object of his tenderness, Michel Angelo reminds her, that works of art are endowed, so to say, with eternal life and youth. "Perhaps," he adds, (Sonnetto 19 ,) "I shall be able to prolong thy life and mine beyond the tomb, by employing, if thou wilt, colour, or marble, if thou preferest, to fix the lines of our features and the resemblance of our affection!"

Again he writes—"While I paint her features, why cannot I convey to her face the pallor which disfigures mine, and which comes from her cruelty to me?"—(Madrigale 24.) But in some others of Angelo's poems, mention is made of a statue, or more probably of a bust, on which the young artist worked with[618] an impassioned mixture of zeal and faint-heartedness.

"I fear," he says, "to draw from the marble, instead of her image, that of my features worn, and void of grace."—(Madrigale 22. ) And when he drew near the term of his labour—"Behold," he exclaims, "an animated stone, which, a thousand years hence, will seem to breathe! What, then, ought heaven to do for her, its own work, while the portrait only is mine; for her whom the whole world, and not myself alone, regard as a goddess rather than a mortal? Nevertheless the stone remains, while she is about to depart."—(Madrigale 39.)

It was probably on this occasion that Michel Angelo wrote those charming, and mysterious verses, whose sense it is otherwise difficult to determine:-

"Qui risi e piansi, e con doglia infinita,
Da questo sasso vidi far partita
Colei ch 'a me mi tolse, e non mi volse."
(Sonnetto 29.)

The bust of Luigia de' Medici, if it really came from the hands of Angelo, has shared the fate of many other chefs-d'œuvres, of which his contemporaries appear to have spoken with such great enthusiasm, only to increase our regret; while the most diligent researches have led to no recovery since their disappearance, caused by the disasters that visited Florence, and by the culpable negligence which, throughout the whole of Italy, followed the period of which Buonarotti was the principal ornament.

If it be to the affection of Luigia de' Medici that Angelo's nineteenth sonnet[55] really refers, we are led to the belief that this lofty soul, temperate in its own hopes, yet imbued with a generous ambition, had suffered itself, for a moment, to be carried away by the illusion of a permanent happiness; but a blow, as terrible as unforeseen, scattered these thoughts. The "Magnificent" Lorenzo, scarcely in his forty-second year, sunk at his seat of Careggi, under a short illness, but of which he foresaw the inevitable term with great resignation from the earliest moment. With Lorenzo de' Medici descended to the tomb all that was yet bright in the glory of his family—all that was real in the prosperity of Florence—all that was assured in the fortune, or attractive in the labours of the young Buonarotti, then only seventeen years of age.

Of the three sons left by Lorenzo, not one was capable of replacing him. The Cardinal Giovanni had a cultivated mind, engaging manners, and vast ambition; but, overwhelmed already, in spite of his youth,[56] with the weight of his benefices and ecclesiastical dignities, he pursued, at the Papal Court, the high fortune of which he then foresaw the accomplishment. Giuliano, born in 1478, was as yet little more than a child, in whom appeared the germ of amiable and even generous qualities, spoiled by pride, the hereditary vice of his house. With regard to Pietro, the new prince of the government—for he succeeded without opposition to the ill-defined and conventional, rather than regularly constituted authority which his ancestors and his father had left in his possession—he evinced only incapacity, presumption, improvidence, and foolish vanity. Aged twenty-one, he had already espoused Alfonsina Orsini, and drew a false security from an alliance in which he hoped for the support of one of the most warlike and powerful families of southern Italy. Michel Angelo felt the necessity of quitting the abode of the Medici, where Pietro, of too vulgar a mind to appreciate the artist's character, displayed a soul mean enough to make him feel the bitterness of protection. He returned to the paternal home; and although he continued to show a marked attachment for the legitimate interests of [619]the Medici, and was even again sometimes employed—but not in important matters—by the younger members of the family, the separation was final, and the republican convictions of the young artist developed themselves, after that time, at full liberty. Angelo's poetical collection proves to us how cruelly his removal, from the house where Lorenzo had entertained him with the most agreeable hospitality, affected his heart. In future it must become a stranger, at least in looks and conversation, to her whom he loved with an inquiet fervour.

"How, separated from you, shall I ever have the power to guide my life, if I can not, at parting, implore your assistance?

Lest absence condemn my loyal devotion to forgetfulness, in remembrance of my long affliction, take, Signora, take in pledge a heart which hereafter belongs no more to me."—(Madrigale 11. )

And in another place:

"He who departs from you has no more hope of light: where you are not, there is no more heaven."—(Madrigale 9. )

The hour approached, however, when, according to the usage of the country, and the relations of her family, Luigia's lot should be decided. Various projects of alliance were discussed. The choice hesitated between two brothers, descended from Giovanni de' Medici, a branch from the dominant house, and of that which took the name of its individual ancestor, Lorenzo. The latter, brother of Cosmo, Pater Patriæ, had, by Ginevra Cavalcanti Piero Francesco, to whom his wife, Landomia Acciajuoli, brought two sons, Lorenzo and Giovanni. Both had arrived at the age of maturity, and were reckoned among the most considerable citizens of Florence. The marriage, however, did not take place. It is said that Luigia herself prevented its conclusion, until a misunderstanding, caused by some opposition of interests, had definitely separated Pietro from the two brothers, more especially from Giovanni, upon whom the reigning prince appears principally to have reckoned. Others, however, have supposed that the obstacles to the proposed union arose only on the part of Giovanni and his brother, who, in fact, followed the principal citizens in the opposition, then planned, against Pietro's unskilful administration. And last, it has been asserted, that Luigia was betrothed to Giovanni, but died before the time fixed for the marriage. Among these opinions, Litta appears to incline to the second; Roscoe adopts the last. However it may be, it is only certain that, alone of all Lorenzo's daughters, Luigia left the paternal house but to exchange it for the repose of the tomb.

According to the historians, she died a few days before the catastrophe which overturned Pietro's government, and condemned all the descendants of Cosmo l'Antico to an exile of sixteen years. It was consequently late in the autumn of 1494 that Luigia departed this life. Amid the passionate prejudices which prepared, and the convulsions which followed, the Florentine revolution, the extinction of the beauteous light excited no sensation.

Michel Angelo was not at that moment in Florence. Politiano's death seems to have broken the last ties that attached him to the obligations contracted in his early youth. His penetrating intelligence warned him of the coming fall of the Medici. He neither wished to renounce his ancient attachments, nor to give them the predominance over the duties of a citizen, to a free state, which it was of the highest importance to wean from a blind and dangerous course. In this painful alternative, Michel Angelo determined to withdraw for a time. He went first to Venice, and afterwards to Bologna, where the warm reception of the Aldrovandi kept him during an entire year, and even longer.

According to all appearance, on quitting Florence, Buonarotti was aware of Luigia's declining health; and his poetry shows us the courageous artist sinking under the burden of his melancholy presentiments:—

"Be sure, O eyes, that the time is past, that the hour approaches which will close the passage to your regards, even to your tears. Remain, in pity to me, remain open while this divine maiden deigns yet to dwell on this earth. But when the heaven shall open to receive these unique and pure beauties ..., when she shall ascend to the abode of glorified and happy souls, then close; I bid you farewell."—(Madrigale 40. )


It was while at Venice, at least so it is believed, that Michel Angelo learned the death of Luigia de' Medici. An expression of profound sadness and manly resignation pervades the poems which escaped from his oppressed soul, already familiarized with grief: he knew "that death and love are the two wings which bear man from earth to heaven."

... "chi ama, qual chi muore,
Non ha da gire al ciel dal mondo altr'ale."
(Sonnetto: Dall' aspra piaga.)

There are, in Angelo's collection, four compositions which may be regarded as dedicated to the memory of Luigia de Medici; first, the sonnet.—"Spirto ben nato," ... in which the poet deplores "the cruel law which has not spared tenderness, compassion, mercy—treasures so rare, united to so much of beauty and fidelity; then the Sonnets 27, 28, and 30, where Michel Angelo, as though emboldened by the irreparable calamity which had befallen him, raises the veil under which the circumstances and the illusions of his love had hitherto been shrouded, for every one, and almost for himself. Now he exclaims:—"Oh, fallacious hopes! where shall I now seek thee—liberated soul? Earth has received thy beauteous form, and Heaven thy holy thoughts!—(Sonnetto 27.).... This first love, which fixed my wandering affections, now overwhelms my exhausted soul with an insupportable weight.—(Sonnetto 28.) ... Yes, the brightness of the flame, which nourished while consuming my heart, is taken from me by heaven; but one teeming spark remains to me, and I would wish to be reduced to ashes only after shining in my turn." The sense of the latter triplet is very enigmatical; it is here interpreted in accordance with the known character of the poet, and the direction which he delayed not to give to his faculties. From this moment Angelo, devoted to the threefold worship of God, art, and his country, constantly refused to think of other ties. He had, he remarked, "espoused the affectionate fantasy which makes of Art a monarch, an idol; "my children," he added, "will be the works that I shall leave behind me." More than thirty years were to elapse, ere in this heart, yet youthful at the approach of age, another woman, and she the first of her era, (Vittoria Colonna,) occupied in part the place left vacant by Luigia de' Medici.

It is to these few imperfect indications, conjectures, and fugitive glimpses, to which the most perspicacious care has not always succeeded in giving a positive consistency, that all our knowledge is reduced of one of the purest and most amiable forms presented by the historical and poetical gallery of Florence, during what is named her golden age. But what destiny was more worthy than that of Luigia de' Medici to excite a generous envy? Orphan from her birth, her life experienced that alone which elevates and purifies: hope, grief, and love. No vulgar cares abased her thoughts; no bitter experience withered her heart; death, in compassion, spared her the spectacle of the reverses of her family, and participation in the guilty successes which followed those disasters. Delicate and stainless flower, she closed on the eve of the storm that would have bathed her in tears and blood! The only evidence remaining to us of her is poetry of a fame almost divine—of a purity almost religious; and this young maiden, of whom no mention has come down to us, in addressing herself to our imagination, borrows the accents of the most extraordinary genius possessed by a generation hitherto unequalled in achievements of the mind. The place of sepulture of Luigia de' Medici is unknown; her remains were most probably deposited, without monumental inscription, in the vaults of San Lorenzo, the gentilizia church of her house. Among the epitaphs composed by Angelo, without attempting to indicate for whom, there is one whose application to Luigia de' Medici would be apt and touching. It may be thus translated:—"To earth the dust, to heaven the soul, have been returned by death. To him who yet loves me, dead, I have bequeathed the thought of my beauty and my glory, that he may perpetuate in marble the beautiful mask which I have left."

The editors of Michel Angelo have assumed that this admirable composition, as well as those which accom[621]pany it under the same title, were written for a certain Francesco Bracci. The expression "chi morta ancor m' ama" is sufficient to refute this singular supposition.

We shall now attempt to give some idea of the poetical compositions from which we have not yet quoted, and which we conjecture to have been similarly inspired in Michel Angelo by his love for Luigia de' Medici. We incline to consider as belonging to the earliest poetic age of the great artist, to the epoch of the first and only real love experienced by him, all the pieces forming the first part of his work, commencing with the celebrated sonnet—

"Non ha l'ottimo artista," *  *   *

and ending with the thirtieth—

"Qual meraviglia è se vicino al fuoco."
*   *  *

in addition, the sonnet, three madrigali, (pieces without division of stanzas or couplets,) and one canzone, which the editors have placed at the head of the collection, entitled by them—"Componimenti men gravi e giocosi." The commencement of a new era in Angelo's thoughts and poetic style appears to us marked by the composition of the two admirable pieces which he dedicated to the memory of Dante Alighieri:—

"Dal mondo scese ai ciechi abissi;"
*   *  *


"Quanto dime si dee non si può dire."

Michel Angelo petitioned but once: this was that Leo X. would grant the ashes of Dante to Florence, where the artist "offered to give a becoming burial to the divine poet, in an honourable place in the city."—(Condivi, Vita di Michel Angelo.)

Previously a stranger to the sentiments of love, the young artist at first wonders and fears at their violence:

"Who, then, has lifted me by main force above myself? How can it be that I am no longer my own? And what is the unknown power which, nearer then myself, influences me; which has more control over me; passes into my soul by the eyes; increases there without limit, and overflows my whole being?"—Madrigali, 3, 4.

Soon, however, he no longer doubts upon the character of this intoxication; he feels that he loves; he traces in sport the most graceful and animated picture of her who has captivated his heart! But this pure and ardent soul speedily becomes alarmed at the profound agitation in which it sees itself plunged; desires to go back to the cause, to recognise its origin, and measure its danger. Michel Angelo recognises, in conjunction with the danger, a sublime reward reserved for him who shall know how to merit it.

"The evil which I ought to shun, and the good to which I aspire, are united and hidden in thee, noble and divine beauty! * * * Love, beauty, fortune, or rigour of destiny, it is not you that I can reproach for my sufferings; for in her heart she bears at once compassion and death! Woe to me if my feeble genius succeed only, while consuming itself, in obtaining death from it!"[57]

Yes, dangerous and often fatal is that passion which seems to choose its favourite victims among hearts the most generous—intelligence the most ample:

"Very few are the men who raise themselves to the heaven; to him who lives in the fire of love, and drinks of its poison, (for to love is one of life's fatal conditions,) if grace transport him not towards supreme and incorruptible beauties—if all his desires learn not to direct themselves thither—Ah! what miseries overwhelm the condition of lover!"—(Sonnet 10.)

But this declaration has not been applied to all passionate and deep affections:

"No, it is not always a mortal and impious fault to burn with an immense love for a perfect beauty, if this love afterwards leave the heart so softened that the arrows of divine beauty may penetrate it."

"Love wakens the soul, and lends it


wings for its sublime flight: often its ardour is the first step by which, discontented with earth, the soul remounts towards her Creator."—(Sonnet 8.)

Transported with this thought, in which he feels the passion to which he has yielded at once transforming and tranquillising itself, Michel Angelo gives to it in his verses the most eloquent and most ingenious developments.

"No, it is not a mortal thing which my eyes perceived, when in them was reflected, for the first time, the light of thine; but in thy look, my soul, inquiet, because it mounts towards its object without repose, has conceived the hope of finding her peace."

"She ascends, stretching her wings towards the abode from whence she descended! The beauty which charms the eyes calls to her on her flight; but, finding her weak and fugitive, she passes onwards to the universal form, the divine archetype."

This expression, and many others dispersed throughout the collection, show that he had profited more than he cared to acknowledge by the discourses of the Platonic Academy.

"Yes, I perceive it; that which must die can offer no repose to the wise man. * * * That which kills the soul is not love; it is the unbridled disorder of the senses. Love can render our souls perfect here below, and yet more in heaven!"—(Sonnet 2.)

And fruther on:

"From the stars most near to the empyrean, descends sometimes a brightness which attracts our desires towards them: it is that which is called love!"—(Mad. 8.)

But this celestial route demands extraordinary efforts on the part of him who aspires to travel it:

"How rash and how unworthy are the understandings, which bring down to the level of the senses this beauty whose approaches aid the true intelligence to remount to the skies. But feeble eyes cannot go from the mortal to the divine;[58] never will they raise themselves to that throne, where, without the grace from on high, it is a vain thought to think of rising."

Michel Angelo believed that he recognised these characteristics, as rare as sublime, in the love which pervaded his own heart.

"The life of my love is not the all in my heart. * * This affection turns to that point where no earthly weakness, no guilty thought, could exist."

"Love, when my soul left the presence of her Creator, made of her a pure eye, of thee a splendour, and my ardent desire finds it every hour in that which must, alas! one day die of thee."

"Like as heat and fire, so is the Beautiful inseparable from the Eternal. * * * I see Paradise in thy eyes, and so return there where I loved thee before this life,[59] I recur every hour to consume myself under thy looks."—(Sonnet 6.)

He writes elsewhere, with a singular mixture of affectionate ardour and metaphysical boldness,—

"I know not if this is, in thee, the prolific light from its Supreme Author which my soul feels, or if from the mysterious treasures of her memory some other beauty, earlier perceived, shines with thy aspect in my heart."[60]

"Or if the brilliant ray of thy former existence is reflected in my soul, leaving behind this kind of painful joy, which perhaps, at this moment, is the cause of the tears I shed;"

"But after all, that which I feel, and see, which guides me, is not with me, is not in me, * * sometimes I imagine that thou aidest me to distinguish it." * * * * (Sonnet 7.)


It is easy to conjecture the danger of this inclination to metaphysical speculation for an ardent and subtile genius, which, even in its works of art, has left the proof of a constant disposition towards an obscure mysticism or a sombre austerity. Michel Angelo was enabled to avoid these two dangers, on one or the other of which he would have seen his genius wrecked, by the noble confidence which he ever maintained in "the two beacons of his navigation," tenderness of heart, and pure worship of beauty.

Thus, we shall see with what outpouring he proclaims the necessity, for the human soul, to attach itself strongly to some generous love:

"The memory of the eyes, and this hope which suffices to my life, and more to my happiness, * * * reason and passion, love and nature, constrain me to fix my regard upon thee during the whole time given me. * * * Eyes serene and sparkling; he who lives not in you is not yet born!"

And again:

"It is to thee that it belongs to bring out from the coarse and rude bark within which my soul is imprisoned, that which has brought and linked together in my intelligence, reason strength, and love of the good." (Mad. 10.)

Then was renewed that sweet and pregnant security in which the soul, "under the armour of a conscience which feels its purity," may gain new energy and journey towards her repose:[61]

"Yes, sometimes, with my ardent desire, my hope may also ascend; it will not deceive me, for if all our affections are displeasing to heaven, to what end would this world have been created by God?

"And what cause more just of the love with which I burn for thee, than the duty of rendering glory to that eternal peace, whence springs the divine charm which emanates from thee, which makes every heart, worthy to comprehend thee, chaste and pious?

"Firm is the hope founded on a noble heart, the changes of the mortal bark strip no leaves from its crown; never does it languish, and even here it receives an assurance of heaven."—(Sonnet 9.)

Now it is with accents of triumph and anon with the serener emotion of an immortal gratitude, that the poet exhibits the luminous ladder which his love assists him to mount, the support he finds in it when he descends again to the earth:

"The power of a beautiful countenance, the only joy I know on earth, urges me to the heaven, I rise, yet living, to the abode of elect souls—favour granted rarely to our mortal state!

"So perfect is the agreement of this divine work with its Creator, that I ascend to Him on the wings of this celestial fervour; and there I form all my thoughts, and purify all my words.

"In her beautiful eyes, from which mine cannot divert themselves, I behold the light, guide upon the way which leads to God;

"Thus, in my noble fire, calmly shines the felicity which smiles, eternal, in the heavens!—(Sonnet 3.)

"With your beautiful eyes I see the mild light which my darkened eyes could not discern. Your support enables me to bear a burden which my weary steps could not endure to the end."

"My thoughts are shaped in your heart; my words are born in your mind.

"With regard to you, I am like the orb of night in its career; our eyes can only perceive the portion on which the sun sheds his rays."—(Sonnet 12.)

The admirable picture of indissoluble union in a settled tenderness, one of the most perfect pieces which has come from Angelo's pen, was sketched, doubtless, in one of those moments of severe and entire felicity:

"A refined love, a supreme affection, an equal fortune between two hearts, to whom joys and sorrows are in common,


because one single mind actuates them both;

"One soul in two bodies, raising both to heaven, and upon equal wings;

"To love the other always, and one's self never, to desire of Love no other prize than himself; to anticipate every hour the wishes with which the reciprocal empire regulates two existences:

"Such are the certain signs of an inviolable faith; shall disdain or anger dissolve such a tie?"—(Sonnet 20.)

The last verse makes allusion to some incident of which we have been unable to find any historical explanation:

"Or potra sdegno tanto nodo sciorre?"

But these ill-founded fears soon gave way to the presentiment of the cruel, the imminent trial, for which the poet's affection was reserved.

"Spirit born under happy auspices, to show us, in the chaste beauty of thy terrestrial envelope, all the gifts which nature and heaven can bestow on their favourite creation!"

"What inexorable law denies to this faithless world, to this mournful and fallacious life, the long possession of such a treasure? Why cannot death pardon so beautiful a work?"—(Sonnet 25.)

The poet, however, already knew that such is the law, severe in appearance, but merciful in reality, which governs all things on this earth, "where nothing endures but tears."[62] It was then that Michel Angelo discovered in his heart that treasure of energy destined to sustain him in the multiplied trials of a life, of which he measured the probable length with a melancholy resignation.[63]

"Why," he exclaims, "grant to my wounded soul the vain solace of tears and groaning words, since heaven, which clothed a heart with bitterness, takes it away but late, and perhaps only in the tomb?"

"Another must die. Why this haste to follow her? Will not the remembrance of her look soothe my last hours? And what other blessing would be worth so much as one of my sorrows?"[64]

In fine, armed with "the faith that raises souls[65] to God, and sweetens their death," Michel Angelo, when the fatal blow fell, was enabled to impart to his regrets an expression of thankfulness to the Supreme Dispenser of our destinies; and giving a voice from the tomb to her whom he had so deeply loved, he puts these sublime words into her mouth:

"I was a mortal, now I am an angel. The world knew me for a little space, and I possess heaven for ever. I rejoice at the glorious exchange, and exult over the death which struck, to lead me to eternal life!"—Epitaffio, v.



A Gossiping Letter from the Seaside to Christopher North, Esq.
By an Old Contributor.

Near ——, England,
October 1846.      

My Dear Christopher,—Where am I? What am I doing? Why have I forgotten you and Maga? Bless us! what a pother!—Give a man time, my revered friend, to answer: I have not forgotten either you or Maga; I am at the seaside; and I am doing, as well as I can, nothing. There are your testy questions answered: and as to divers objurgatory observations of your's, I shall not attempt to reply to them—regarding them as the results of some gout-twinges which have, I fear, a little quickened and heated the temper of that "old man eloquent," who, when in good health, plays but one part—that of a caressing father towards his children; for as such Christopher North has ever (as far as I know) regarded his contributors. "Why don't you review something or other? There's ——, an impudent knave!—has just sent me his ——: you will find it pleasant to flagellate him, or ——, a Cockney coxcomb! And if you be not in that humour, there are several excellent, and one or two admirable works, which have appeared within the last eighteen months, and which really have as strong a claim on Maga as she has on her truant sons,—and you, among the rest, have repeatedly promised to take one, at least, in hand. If you be not in the critical vein—do, for heaven's sake, turn your hand to something else—you have lain fallow long enough!—With one of the many articles which you have so often told me that you were 'seriously thinking of' on ——, or ----, or ——, &c., &c., &c.; and if that won't do—why, rather than do nothing, set to work for an hour or two on a couple of mornings, and write me a gossiping sort of letter—such as I can print—such as you have once before done, and I printed,—on Things in General. Surely the last few months have witnessed events which must have set you, and all observant men, thinking, and thinking very earnestly. Set to work, be it only in a simple, natural, easy way—care not you, as I care not, how discursively—a little touch of modest egotism, even, I will forgive on this occasion, if you find that—" Here, dear Christopher, I recalcitrate, and decline printing the rest of the sentence; but as to "Things in General"—I am somewhat smitten with the suggestion. 'Tis a taking title—a roomy subject, in which one can flit about from gay to grave, from lively to severe, according to the humour of the moment; and since you really do not dislike the idea of an old contributor's gossip on men and things, given you in his own way, I shall forthwith begin to pour out my little thoughts as unreservedly as if you and I were sitting together alone here. Here; but where? As I said before, at the seaside; at my favourite resort—where (eschewing "Watering-places" with lively disgust) I have spent many a happy autumn. When I first found it out, I thought that the lines had indeed fallen to me in pleasant places, and I still think so; but were I to tell the public, through your pages, of this green spot, I suspect that by this time next year the sweet solitude and primitive simplicity of the scene around me would have vanished: greedy speculating builders, tempting the proprietors of the soil, would run up in all directions vile, pert, vulgar, brick-built, slate-roofed, Quakerish-looking abominations, exactly as a once lovely nook in the Isle of Wight—Ventnor to wit—has become a mere assemblage of eyesores, a mass of unfavourable eruptions, so to speak—Bah! I once used[626] to look forward to the Isle of Wight with springy satisfaction. Why, the infatuated inhabitants were lately talking of having a railroad in the island!!

I quitted Babylon, now nearly eleven weeks ago, for this said sweet mysterious solitude. London I dearly, dearly love—except during the months of August, September, and October, when it goes to sleep, and lies utterly torpid. When I quitted it very early in August, London life was, as it were, at dead-low water-mark. I was myself somewhat jaded with a year's severe exertion in my lawful calling, (what that may be, it concerns none of your readers to know,) and my family also were in want of change of air and scene; so that, when the day of departure had arrived, we were in the highest possible spirits. Our house would—we reflected—within a few hours put on the dismal, dismantled appearance which almost every other house in the street had presented for several weeks, and we, whirling away to ----; but first of all it occurred to me to lay in a stock of our good friend Lee's port and sherry, (for where were we to get drinkable wine at ----?)—ditto, in respect of six pounds of real tea—not quasi tea, i.e., raisin-stalks and sloe-leaves—three bottles of whisky; four of Anchovy sauce; and four of Reading or Harvey's sauce; two pounds of mustard, and some cayenne and curry-powder: having an eye, in respect of this last, to—hot crab! a delicious affair! Arrangements these which we are resolved always to make hereafter, having repeatedly experienced the inconvenience of not doing so. Having packed up every thing, and given special orders for the Times to be provided daily, and the Spectator weekly, away we go—myself, wife, three hostages to fortune, and three other persons, and—bless him!—Tickler; Timothy Tickler—that sagacious, quaint, affectionate, ugly-beautiful Skye terrier, which found its way to me from you, my revered friend—and is now lying gracefully near me, pretending—the little rogue—to be asleep; but really watching the wasps buzzing round him, and every now and then snapping at them furiously, unconscious of the probable consequences of his success,—that,

"If 'twere done, when 'tis done,
Then—'twere well it were done quickly!"

By what railway we went, I care not to say—beyond this, that it belongs to one of that exceedingly select class, the well-conducted railways; and we were brought to the end of that portion of our journey—whether one hundred, two hundred, or two hundred and fifty, or three hundred miles, signifies nothing—safely and punctually arriving two minutes earlier than our appointed time. Then, by means of steam-boats, cars, and otherwise, taliter processum est, that about eight o'clock in the evening we reached this place, which, in the brilliant moonlight, looked even more beautiful than I had ever seen it. Near us on our left—that is, within a few hundred feet—was the placid silvery sea, "its moist lips kissing the shore," as Thomas Campbell expressed it; and while supper was preparing, we went to the shore to enjoy its loveliness. Not a breath of wind was stirring—scarce a cloud interfered with the moon's serene effulgence. Lofty cliffs stretched on either side of us as we faced the sea, casting a kindly gloom over part of the shore; and on turning towards the land, we beheld nothing but solemn groves of trees, and one sweet cottage peeping modestly from among them, as it were a pearl glistening half-hid between the folds of green velvet, about half-way up the fissure in the cliffs by which we had descended. Two or three fishing-boats were moored under the cliff, and against one of them was leaning the fisherman, not far from his snugly-sheltered hut, pleasantly puffing at his pipe. Near him lay extended on the shingle, grisly even in death, a monster—viz. a shark, the victim of the patience, pluck, and tact, which had been exhibited that afternoon by the fisherman and his son, who had captured the marine fiend in the bay, at less than two miles' distance from the shore. 'Twas nine feet in length, wanting one inch;—and its teeth made your teeth chatter[627] to look at them. Tickler inspected him narrowly, having first cautiously ascertained by his nose that all was right, and then exclaimed, "Bow, wow, wow!"—thus showing that even as a live ass is better than a dead lion, so a live terrier was better than a dead shark. [As I find that several of these hideous creatures have been lately captured here, quære the propriety of bathing, as I had intended, from a boat, a little way of from the land? Hem!] The only visible occupants of those solitary sands at that moment were myself, my wife and children, the fisherman, Tickler, and the dead shark. I remained standing alone for a few moments after my companions had turned their steps towards our cottage, eager for supper, and gazed upon the sequestered loveliness around me with a sense of luxury. What a contrast this to the scene of exciting London life in which I had happened to bear a part on the preceding evening! The following verses of Lord Rosscommon happened to occur to me, and chimed in completely with the tone of my feelings:—

"Hail, sacred Solitude! from this calm bay
I view the world's tempestuous sea;
And with wise pride despise
All those senseless vanities:
With pity moved for others, cast away,
On rocks of hopes and fears I see them toss'd,
On rocks of folly and of vice I see them lost:
Since the prevailing malice of the great
Unhappy men, or adverse fate
Sunk deep into the gulfs of an afflicted state:
But more, far more, a numberless prodigious train,
Whilst virtue counts them, but, alas, in vain.
Fly from her kind embracing arms,
Deaf to her fondest call, blind to her greatest charms,
And sunk in pleasures and in brutish ease,
They in their shipwreck'd state themselves obdurate please.
*           *           *           *           *           *
Here may I always, on this downy grass,
Unknown, unseen, my easy moments pass,
Till, with a gentle force, victorious Death
My solitude invade,
And stopping for a while my breath,
With ease convey me to a better shade!"

But a sharpened appetite for supper called me away, and I quickly followed my companions, casting a last glance around, and suppressing a faint sigh, fraught with the reflection, "All this—Deo volente—will be ours for nearly three months." Why does one so often sigh on such an occasion?

You may conceive how we enjoyed our supper to the utmost, and then all of us retired to our respective apartments, which were so brilliantly lit by the moon, as to make our candles pale their ineffectual fires. I stood for a long time gazing at the beautiful scenery visible from my little dressing-room window, and then retired to rest, grateful to the Almighty for our being allowed the prospect of another of these periodical intervals of relaxation and enjoyment. To me they get more precious every year; they do, decidedly. But why? Let me, however, return to this question by-and-by: 'tis one which, with kindred subjects, has much occupied my thoughts this autumn, in many a long, solitary stroll over the hills, and along the seashore.

I wish I could do justice to my cottage and its lovely locality. Yet why should I try to set your's and your readers' teeth on edge? You have some lovely nooks on your Scottish coast; but you cannot beat this. We are about three hundred yards from the sea, of which our windows, on one side, command a full view; while from all the others are visible dark, high, steep downs, at so short a distance, that methinks, at this moment, I can hear the faint—the very faint—tinkle of a sheep-bell,[628] proceeding from some of the little white tufts moving upon them. I am now writing to you towards the middle of this stormy October. Its winds have so much thinned the leaves of the huge elms which stand towards the south-eastern parts of our house, that I can now, from my study-window, distinctly see the church—very small, and very ancient—which, when first we came, the thick foliage rendered totally invisible from this point. My window looks directly upon the aforesaid downs, which at present appear somewhat gloomy and desolate. Yet have they a certain air of the wild picturesque, the effect of which is heightened by the howling winds, which are sweeping down over them to us, moaning and groaning through the trees, and round the gables of our house, (the aspect of the sky being, at the same time, bleak and threatening.) How it enhances my sense of snugness in the small antique, thoroughly wind-and-weather tight room in which I am writing! A little to my left is a vast natural hollow in the downs, from which springs a sort of little hanging wood or copse, the mottled variegated hues of which have a beautiful effect. Between me and the downs are small clumps of trees—abrupt little declivities, thickly lined with shrubs, all touched with the bronze tinting of the far-advanced autumn—two or three intensely-green fields, in the nearest of which are browsing the two cows belonging to the parsonage—which is, by the way, quite invisible from any part of my house, though at only a hundred yards' or two distance. Oh! 'tis a model—a love of a parsonage!—buried among lofty trees, richly adorned with myrtles, laurel, and clematis—the well-trimmed greensward immediately surrounding the long, low, thatched house, which combines rural elegance, simplicity, and comfort in its disposition—is bordered by spreading hydrangeas, dahlias, fuschias, mignionette, and roses—ay, roses, even yet in full bloom! Its occupant is my friend, a dignitary of the church, a scholar, a gentleman, and "given to hospitality;" but I will say nothing more on this head, lest, peradventure, I should offend his modesty, and disclose my locality. My own house is more than sufficient for my family; 'tis a small gentleman's cottage, delightfully situate, and containing every convenience, (especially for a symposium,) and surrounded by a luxuriant garden. Along one side of the house, and commanding an extensive and varied sea and land view, runs a little terrace of "soft, smooth-shaven green," made for a meditative man to pace up and down, as I have done some thousand times—by noonday sunlight, by midnight moonshine—buried in reverie, or charmed by contemplating the scenery around, disturbed by no sound save the caw! caw! caw! from the parsonage rookery, the sough of the wind among the trees, and, latterly, the sullen echoes of the sea thundering on the shore. Ah! what an inexpressibly beautiful aspect is just given to the scene by that transient gleam of saddening sunlight!

I can really give no account of my time for the last eleven weeks, which have slipped away almost unperceivedly—one day so like another, that scarce any thing can be recorded of one which would not be applicable to every other. Breakfast over, (crabs, lobster, or prawns, and honey indigenous, the constant racy accessaries,) all the intermediate time between that hour and dinner, (for I am no lunch-eater,) six p.m., is spent in sauntering along the shore, poking among the rocks, strolling over the clefts, and clambering up and wandering about the downs; and occasionally in pilgrimages to distant and pretty little farm-houses, (in quest of their products for our table,) generally accompanied by Tickler, always by a book, sometimes with my wife and children; but most frequently alone, chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancies, and always avoiding, of set purpose, any other company (even were it here to be had) in my rambles, than as is aforesaid. 'Tis ecstacy to me to sit alone on a rock in a sequestered part of the shore, especially when the tide is high, and equally whether it be rough or smooth, or calm or stormy weather: for as to this last, I have discovered a friendly nook in the rocks, big enough to hold me only, and deep enough to give me shelter from the wind and rain, ex[629]cept when they beat right in upon me. You may laugh, perhaps, but in this retreat I have spent many an entire day—i.e. from ten A.M. to six P.M., sometimes pacing to and fro on the sands, near my hole, generally bathing about mid-day, taking with me always the Times newspaper, (which I generally got from the old postman, whom I met on my way down to the sands,) the current number of Maga, or some favourite volume, being also frequent companions. I must acknowledge, however, that the first was my special luxury, to which I daily addressed myself with all the eager relish of a dog with a fresh bone in an unfrequented place—and whom I conceive to be, so circumstanced, in a state paradisiacal;—for, indeed, to such a pass are matters come, that no man whom I know of can miss his newspaper without a restless, uncomfortable feeling of having slipped a day behind the world. Surely I may here, in passing, say a word or two about NEWSPAPERS?

And coming from one who, as you know, never had any thing to do with newspapers, except as having been an eager and regular reader of them for more than twenty years, I hope my testimony is worth having, when I express my opinion that our newspaper press is a very great honour to Great Britain, as well negatively in its abstinence from myriads of tempting but objectionable topics, as well as positively in the varied ability, the energy, accuracy, and amazing promptitude displayed in dealing with the ever-changing and often-perplexing affairs of the world. Inestimably precious is the unshackled freedom of these wondrous organs of public opinion: infringe, though never so slightly, and but for a moment, upon that independence, and you wound our LIBERTY in the very apple of the eye.

Let any government unjustifiably or oppressively attack one of our newspapers—whatever may be its politics—how indifferent even soever its character—with an evident intention to impair its independence—and there is not a man in the country who would not suddenly feel a stifling sensation, as if some attempt had been made upon his immediate personal rights. The nation may be (though fancifully) compared to a huge monster, with myriads of tentacles—or whatever else you may call them—as its organ of existence and action, every single one of which is so sensitive, that, if touched, the whole creature is instantly roused and in motion, as if you had touched them all, and stimulated all into simultaneous and frightful action. The public is this vast creature—the press are these tentacles. Fancy our Prime Minister pouncing oppressively and illegally upon the very obscurest provincial paper going—say the "Land's End Farthing Illuminator!" Why, the whole artillery of the press of the United Kingdom would instantly open upon him; in doing so, being the true exponent of the universal fury of the country—and in a twinkling where would be my Lord John, or would have been Sir Robert, with the strongest government that ever was organised? Extinguished, annihilated. Let some young and unreflecting Englishman compare this state of things with that which is at this moment in existence in Spain!—in which every newspaper daring to express itself independently, though moderately, on a stirring political event of the day, is instantly pounced upon by an infamous—a truly execrable government, and silenced and suppressed; and its conductors fined and imprisoned. We in this country cannot write or read the few words conveying the existence of such a state of facts, without our blood boiling. And is there no other country where the press is overawed—submits, however sullenly, to be dictated to by government, to become the despicable organ of falsehood and deceit—and is accessible to bribery and corruption? And what are we to say of the press of the United States of America, pandering (with some bright exceptions) to the vilest passions, the most depraved tastes of the most abandoned among the people, and mercenary and merciless libellers? With scarcely more than a single foul exception—and that, one regrets to say, in our Metropolis, in which are published nearly forty newspapers—can any person point out a newspaper, in town or country, indulging in, ribald or obscene language or allusions, or—with two or three exceptions—professed impiety, or slanderous attacks upon public or private character.[630] Some year or two ago there was manifested, in a certain portion of the metropolitan press, a tendency downwards of this sort; and how long was it before popular indignation rose, and—to use a legal phrase—abated the nuisance? Can the chief perpetrator of the enormities referred to, even now, after having undergone repeated legal punishment, show himself any where in public without encountering groans and hisses, and the risk even of personal violence? And did not the occasion in question rouse the legislature itself into action, the result of which was a law effectually protecting the public against wicked newspapers, and, on the other hand, justly affording increased protection to the freedom and independence of the virtuous part of the press? I repeat the question—Who can point out more than one or two of our newspapers which are morally discreditable to the country? No censor of the press want we: the British public is its own censor. What a vast amount of humbug, of fraud, of meanness, of corruption, of oppression, of cruelty, and wickedness, as well in private as in public life—as well in low as in high places—is not kept in check, and averted from us, by the sleepless vigilance, the fearless interference, the ceaseless denunciations of our public press! 'Tis a potent preventive to check evil—or rather may be regarded as a tremendous tribunal, to which the haughtiest and fiercest among us is amenable, before which, though he may outwardly bluster, he inwardly quails, whose decrees have toppled down headlong the most exalted, into obscurity and insignificance, and left them exposed to blighting ridicule and universal derision. It is true that this power may be, and has been, abused: that good institutions and their officials have been unjustly denounced. But this is rare: the vast power above spoken of exists not, except where the press is unanimous, or pretty nearly so: and as the British people are a just and truth-loving people, (with all their weaknesses and faults,) the various organs of their various sections and parties rarely come to approach unanimity, except in behalf of a good and just cause. Let the most potent journal in the empire run counter to the feeling and opinion of the country, if we could imagine a journal so obstinate and shortsighted, and its voice is utterly ineffectual—the objects of its deadliest animosity remain unscathed, though, it may be, for a brief space exposed to the irritating and annoying consequences of publicity. Let this country embark, for instance, in a just war—within a day or two our press would have roused the enthusiasm of this country, even as that of one man. Let it be an unjust war—and the government proposing it, or appearing likely to precipitate it, bombarded by the artillery of the press, will quickly be shattered to pieces. All our institutions profit prodigiously by the wholesome scrutiny of the press. The Church, the Army, the Navy, the Law, every department of the executive—down to our police-offices, our prisons, our workhouses—in any and every of them, tyranny, peculation, misconduct of every sort, is quickly detected, and as quickly stopped and redressed. While conferring these immense social benefits, how few are the evils, how rare—as I have already observed—the misconduct to be set off! How very, very rare are prosecutions for libel or sedition, or actions for libel, against the press; and even when they do occur, how rare is the success of such proceedings! I happen, by the way, to be able to give two instances of the generous and gentlemanlike conduct of the conductors of two leading metropolitan newspapers of opposite politics; one was of very recent occurrence:—A hot-headed political friend of mine, contrary to my advice, forwarded to The ——— a fact, duly authenticated, concerning a person in high station, which, if it had been published, would have exquisitely annoyed the party in question, whose politics were diametrically opposed to those of the newspaper referred to, and would also have afforded matter for party sarcasm and piquant gossip in society. The only notice taken of my crestfallen friend's communication was the following, in the next morning's "Notices to Correspondents:"—"To [Greek: S].—The occurrence referred to is hardly a fair topic for [or 'within the province of'] newspaper discussion." The other case was one which occurred two or three years ago;[631] and the editor of the paper in question did not deign to take the least notice whatever of the communication—not even acknowledging the receipt of it. There is one feature of our leading London newspapers which always appears to me interesting and remarkable: it is their leading article on a debate, or on newly-arrived foreign intelligence. Let an important ministerial speech be delivered in either House of Parliament on a very difficult subject, and at a very late hour, or say at an early hour in the morning; and on our breakfast-tables, the same morning, is lying the speech and the editor's interesting and masterly commentary on it—evincing, first, a thorough familiarity with the speech itself, and with the difficult and often obscure and complicated topics which it deals with; and, secondly, a skilful confutation or corroboration, wherein it is difficult which most to admire, the logical acuteness, dexterity, and strength of the writer, the vigour and vivacity of his style, or the accuracy and extent of his political knowledge; and this, too, after making large allowance for occasional crudity, perversion, inconsistency, or flippancy. The same observation applies to their articles, often equally interesting and masterly, on newly-arrived foreign intelligence. Conceive the extent to which such a writer, such a journal must influence public opinion, and gradually and unconsciously bias the minds of even able and thinking readers. Engaged actively in their own concerns all day long, they have too often neither the inclination nor opportunity for sifting the sophistries, skilfully intermingled with just and brilliant reasoning, and disguised under splendid sarcasm and powerful invective. How, again, can they test the accuracy of historical and political references and assertions, if happening to lie beyond their own particular acquisitions and recollections? The other side of the question, such a one is aware, will probably be found in the Chronicle or Standard, the Times or Globe, Sun or Herald respectively, whose business it is to be continually on the watch for each other's lapses, to detect and expose them. To what does all this lead but the formation of an indolent habit of acquiescence in other men's opinions—a hasty, superficial acquaintance with pros and cons, upon even the gravest question propounded by other men—a heedless, universal taking upon trust, instead of that salutary jealousy, vigilance, and independence, which insists in every thing, upon weighing matters in the balances of one's own understanding? Many a man is reading these sentence who knows that they are telling the truth; and doubtless he will be for the future upon his guard, resolved not to surrender his independence of judgement, or suffer his faculties to decay through inaction.—But, bless me! this glorious morning is slipping away. I hear Tickler scratching at the door. I shut up my writing-case, don my coat, hat, and walking-stick, and away to the shore. Scarcely have I got upon the sands, when behold, floating majestically past me, at little more than a mile's distance, the magnificent St Vincent (one hundred and twenty guns.) There's a line-of-battle ship for you! I take off my hat involuntarily in the presence of our Naval Majesty. I gaze after her with those feelings and thoughts of fond pride and exultation which gush over the heart of an Englishman looking at one of HIS MEN-OF-WAR! Well—superb St Vincent, you have now rounded the corner, and are out of sight; but I remain riveted to the spot with folded arms, and ask of our naval rulers, with a certain stern anxiety, a question, which I shall throw into the striking language of Mr Canning—"Are you, my Lords and Gentlemen, silently concentrating the force to be put forth on an adequate occasion?" Who can tell how soon that adequate occasion will present itself? Is the peace of Europe at this moment so profound, is our own position so satisfactory and impregnable, that we may wisely and safely dismiss all anxiety from our minds? Why, has not, within these few days past, an event occurred which is calculated to give rise to very serious anxiety in the minds of those feeling an interest in public affairs? I allude to the Duc de Montpensier's marriage with the Infanta Donna Luisa, which I have just learned, was actually carried into effect at Madrid on the 10th instant, in the teeth of the stern and[632] repeated protest of Great Britain. I do not take every thing for gospel which appears on this subject in the newspapers, from which alone we have hitherto derived all our knowledge of this affair; and, with a liberal allowance in respect of their excusable anxiety to make the most of what they regard as a godsend at this vapid period of the year, I would suspend my judgment till the country shall have had full and authentic information concerning the real state of the case. I hope it will prove that I for one have altogether mistaken the aspect and bearings of the affair. Discarding what may possibly turn out to be greatly exaggerated or wholly unfounded, I take it nevertheless for granted, that, (1st,) the youngest son of the reigning King of the French was, on the 10th instant, married to Donna Luisa, the sister of the reigning Queen of Spain, and heiress-presumptive to her crown; (2dly,) That this was done after and in spite of the distinct emphatic protest of the British government, conveyed to those of both Spain and France; (3dly,) That the British government and the British ambassadors at Madrid and Paris had been kept in profound ignorance of the whole affair up to the moment of the annunciation to the world at large of the fact, that the marriage had been finally—irrevocably determined upon. I think it, moreover, highly probable, that (1st,) this marriage is regarded by the people of Spain with sullen dislike and distrust; (2dly,) that there has been cruel coercion upon the two royal girls—for such they are—the result of an intrigue between their Mother, the notorious Christina, and Louis Philippe; (3dly,) that an express or implied promise was personally given, during the last year, at the Chateau d'Eu, by the French king and his minister, to our queen and her minister, that this event should not take place;—and all this done while England was reposing in confident and gratified security, upon the supposed "cordial understanding" between herself and France; in contemptuous disregard of England's title to be consulted in such an affair, founded upon her stupendous sacrifices and exertions on behalf of the peace and liberty of Spain, and in deliberate defiance—as it appears to me—of the treaty of Utrecht! What is Louis Philippe about? On what principles are we to account for his conduct? Has he counted the cost of obtaining his immediate object? Has he calculated the consequences with respect to France and to Europe generally? Is he prepared, at the proper time, to demonstrate, that the step which he has taken is consistent with his character for sincerity and straight-forwardness—with his personal honour and welfare—with the honour and welfare of his family and of France? That he has not violated any pledge, or infringed any treaty? That England is not warranted in considering herself aggrieved, slighted, insulted? That he could have had no sinister object in view, and that his conduct has been consistent with his loud professions of friendship and respect for this country and its sovereign? Let him ask himself the startling question, whether he can afford to lose our friendship and support towards himself or his family and dynasty, in his rapidly declining years—or further, provoke our settled anger and hostility? England is frank and generous, but somewhat stern and sensitive in matters of honour and fidelity; and none is abler than Louis Philippe to appreciate the consequences of her resentment. Is he aware of the altered feeling towards him which his recent conduct has generated in this country? That his name, when coupled with that conduct, is mentioned only with the contempt and disgust due to gross insincerity, selfishness, and treachery; and that, too, in a country which, up to within a few months ago, gave him such unequivocal and gratefully-recognised tokens of respect and affection? Whenever he escaped from the hand of the assassin, where was the event hailed with such profound sympathy as here? Now, his name suggests to us only that of his execrable father, and reminds us that the blood running in his veins is that of Philip Egalité. Surely the equipoise of European interests has been seriously disturbed, either through the insane recklessness of an avaricious monarch, bent on enriching every[633] member of his family, at all hazards, or in furtherance of a deep and long-considered scheme, having for its exclusive and sinister object the aggrandisement of his family and nation. Had he come to a secret understanding beforehand with America, or any European power, to support him throughout the consequences which might ensue? Was it his object to crush English influence in the Peninsula, and render it at no distant period a mere French province, and give him a right or pretext for interference? What will the Spanish nation say to what he has done? Has he rightly estimated the Spanish character, and foreseen the consequences of what he has done, in perpetrating an abduction of their Infanta? What prospects has he opened for Spain? Has he considered what a line of policy is now open to Great Britain, with reference to Spain? Whether the northern powers of Europe will announce dissatisfaction at this proceeding remains to be seen. They cannot feel satisfaction, unless their relations and policy towards this country and France are assuming a new character. I should like to know what M. Guizot really thinks on all these subjects, and am curious to hear what he will say—or rather suffer his royal master to coerce him into saying—when the time shall have arrived for public explanation. I trust that it will speedily appear that our representatives in Spain and France have acted, as became them, with promptitude, prudence, and spirit, and that neither our late nor present foreign Secretary has been guilty of neglect or bungling diplomacy, so as to place us now in a position of serious embarrassment, or ridiculous inability for action. If the contrary be the case—that is, if no such compromise of our national interests have occurred, and we are now free to say and do what we may consider consistent with our rights and character, it is to be hoped that our government, by whomsoever carried on, will act on the one hand with dignified and uncompromising determination, and on the other with the utmost possible circumspection. They have to deal with a very subtle and dangerous intriguer in Louis Philippe, who seems to have chosen a moment for the development of his plans most convenient for himself—viz., when our Parliament was newly prorogued, not to meet again till he should have had the benefit of the chapter of accidents. All will, however, assuredly come out; and if the main features of the case prove to have been already shadowed forth truly, I do not think that there will be found two opinions in this country upon the subject of Louis Philippe and his Montpensier marriage. It is represented by, one of our journals as an event, the hubbub about which "will soon blow over;" but I do not think so—it appears, on the contrary, pregnant with very serious and far-stretching consequences—the first of which is the undoubted conversion of the "cordial understanding" between England and France, into a very "cordial misunderstanding,"—with all its embarrassing and threatening incidents. Our diplomatic relations are now chilled and disordered; and the worst of it is, not by a temporary, but permanent cause—one which, the more we contemplate it, the more distinctly we perceive the consequences which it was meant should follow from it. The bearing of England towards France has become one of stern and guarded caution. In all human probability, Louis Philippe will never look again upon the face of our Queen Victoria, or partake of her hospitalities, or be permitted to pour his dulcet deceit into her ears. He may affect to regard with satisfaction and exultation the fact of his having become the father-in-law of the heiress-presumptive to the throne of Spain: but I do not think that he can really regard what he has just accomplished otherwise than with rapidly-increasing misgiving. "A few months," to adopt the language of one of our most powerful journalists, "will now probably show us how far Louis Philippe has succeeded in a feat which foiled the undying ambition of Louis le Grand, and the unexampled might of Napoleon; and what is the real value of the spoil for which he has not hesitated to imperil a thirty years' peace, and convulse the relations of[634] Europe?" Let me return, however, to the topic which led me into this subject, and express again my deep anxiety for the efficient management of our navy: adding a significant fact disclosed by the last number of La Presse—which announces that the Minister of Marine has just concluded contracts for ship-timber to be supplied to the ports of Toulon, Cherbourg, Brest, L'Orient, and Rochefort, to the extent of upwards of 25,000,000 francs, (i.e. upwards of a million sterling.) Does Louis Philippe meditate leaving to France the destructive legacy of a war with England, as a hoped-for prevention of the civil war which he may expect to ensue upon his death?

If I were to write a diary here, it would be after the following sort:—

Monday.—Another shark! Mercy on us! What a brute! But not so big as the other.

Tuesday.—We had capital honey this morning to breakfast; eightpence per lb.—freshly expressed from the wax, and got from Granny Jolter's farm.

Wednesday.—My Times did not come by to-day's post, and I feel I don't know how.

Thursday.—The "hot crab" which we had at the parsonage, where we dined to-day, was exquisite. The way it is done is—the whole of the inside, and the claws, having been mixed together with a little rich gravy, (sometimes cream is used;) curry-paste, not curry-powder, and very fine fried crumbs of bread, is put into the shell of the crab and then salamandered. If my cook can do it on my return to town, I will give her half-a-crown.

Friday.—Nothing whatever happened; but it looked a little like rain, over the downs, about four o'clock in the afternoon.

Saturday.—A day of incidents. Ten o'clock A.M.—The coast-guard man told me, that about five o'clock this morning, as he was coming along ---- cliff, a young fox popped out of a thicket close at his feet, looked "quite steady-like at him for about five seconds," and then ran back into the furze.

Eleven o'clock.—Saw a Cockney "gent" on a walking tour, the first of the sort that I have seen in these parts, and he looked frightened at the solitariness of the scene. Every thing that he had on seemed new: a dandified shining hat; a kind of white pea-jacket; white trowsers; fawn-coloured, gloves; little cloth boots tipped with shining French polished leather; a very slight umbrella covered with oil-skin; and a little telescope in a leathern case, slung round his waist. He fancied, as he passed me, that he had occasion to use a gossamer white pocket-handkerchief, with a fine border to it; for he took it out of an outside breast-pocket, and unfolded it deliberately and jauntily. Whence came he, I wonder? He cannot walk four miles further, poor fellow! for evidently walking does not agree with him: yet he must, or sit down and cry in this out-of-the-way place.

Two o'clock.—Tickler caught a little crab among the rocks. It got hold of his nose, and bothered him.

Four o'clock.—As I was sitting on a tumble-down sort of gate, talking earnestly with my little boy, I heard some vehicle approaching—looked up as it turned the corner of the road, and behold—Her Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and one or two other persons, without outriders or any sort of state whatever! She was dressed exceedingly plain, and was laughing heartily at something said to her by a well-known nobleman who walked beside the carriage. I never saw her Majesty looking to so much advantage: in high spirits, with a fine fresh colour, and her hair a little deranged by the wind. She and her little party seemed surprised at seeing any one in such an out-of-the-way place, and her Majesty and the Prince returned our obeisances with particular courtesy.

Half-past Five.—Nick Irons met me with a large viper which he had just killed, after it had flown at his dog. Is there any difference between vipers and adders?

A quarter past Six.—On arriving at home, found a hot crab, which had been sent in to us, as an addition to our dinner, from the parsonage. I lick my lips while thinking of it. I prefer the cream to the gravy.[635]

Half-past six.—Find I have got only three bottles of port and two of sherry left!

Nine o'clock.—My four gallon cask of elderberry wine, made for me—and capitally made, too—by one of the villagers, came home. We are to put a quart of brandy in it, and "take care it don't forment." I fancy I see ourselves and the children regaling ourselves with it on the winter's evenings, in town. Altogether it has cost me twelve shillings and sixpence!

Quarter past Nine.—Children go to bed; I had the candles brought in, resolved to read the new number of the ----; but fell asleep directly, and never woke till half-past twelve o'clock, when I knew not where I was; being in darkness—and alone. Really a journal of this sort is, upon consideration, so instructive and entertaining, that I wish to know whether you would like me to keep one during my next sojourn at the seaside and publish it in Maga? I would undertake not to exceed three numbers of Maga, each Part to contain only twenty pages.

Miss Strickland v. Lord Campbell.

Will his lordship favour the world with some reply to this clever and laborious lady's accusation contained in her letter to the Times? That letter is exceedingly specific and pointed in the charge of literary larceny, and committed under circumstances which every consideration of candour, gallantry, and literary character, concurs in rendering Lord Campbell's complete exculpation a matter of serious consequence to his reputation. Has he, or has he not, designedly appropriated to his own use, as the fruits of his own original research, the results of a literary fellow-labourer's meritorious and pains-taking original investigation—that fellow-labourer, too, being a lady? I sincerely hope that Lord Campbell's first literary attempt will prove not to be thus discreditably signalized. His book is yet unnoticed in Maga.

According to that good old intelligible English saying, it is this morning raining cats and dogs. There's an end, Tickler, to our intended eighteen-mile walk (thither and back) to the lighthouse, the machinery of which I was very anxious to explain to you. Bow, wow, wow, wow! indeed! I know what you mean, you little sinner! You want to be after the rabbits in yonder thickets, and you mean to intimate that you can go perfectly well by yourself, don't mind the rain, and will come safely home when you have finished your sport. Don't look so earnestly at me, and whine so piteously. By the way, do you call yourself a vermin dog? and yet every hair of your shaggy coat stood on end the other day, when I turned out for you the two pennyworth of mice—mice!—which I had bought for you from Nick Irons? What would you have done if a RAT were to meet you? Bah, you little wretch! Where's your spirit? Refined, and refined away by breeding, eh? What would you have done if you were to be allowed to go off now, and were to rout out accidentally a hedgehog, as Hermit did yesterday? You may well whine! He's five times your size, eh? But I've seen a terrier that would tackle a hedgehog, and bring him home, too—your own second cousin, Tory, poor dear dog—peace to his little ashes. Besides, to return to the rabbits—in spite of all your snuffing and smelling, and scampering, and routing about, you never turned up a rabbit yet! And even our kitten has only to rise and curve her little back, and you slink away, like an arrant coward as you are—Well!—come along, doggy! you're a good little creature, with all your faults—these black eyes of yours, with your little erect ears, look as if you had really understood all that I have been saying to you—so I really think—and yet—pour! pour! pour!—[Enter Emily.]

Emily.—Papa, Miss —— says that we have said all our lessons, and will you let us have Tickler to play with?

Tickler.—Bow—wow—wow!—Bow, wow!—Bow! bow! bow!—[Running up and scampering towards her, and they go away together.]

Servant.—Brown has called with some lobsters, sir—(shows them)—two very nice ones, and a small crab—only fifteenpence the lot.[636]

Self.—Very well—buy 'em.

Wife.—(Entering)—Lobsters and crabs again! Really one would think that you had had a surfeit of them long ago.

Servant.—Brown says, sir, he mayn't be able to get any more for some time, the wind's so high.

Wife.—Oh, buy them, of course! Every thing is bought that comes here! That's eleven crabs this week!

Self.—What have you got there, my Xantippe?

Wife.—I wish you would drop that odious name.

Self.—What have you there, my Angel?

Wife.—No, that won't do either.

Self.—Well, Fanny, then—what have you got there?

Wife.—Why, 'tis the new work of Mr Dickens—Dombey & Son. What an odd name for a tale!

Self.—Why, how did you get it?

Wife.—Mrs —— (at the parsonage) has just got a packet of books from town, and has lent us this, as it is a wet day, till the evening, and they have got lots to read at present.

Self.—I am very much obliged to them.

Wife.—So am I, for I want to read it first; manners, if you please.

Self.—Come, come, Fanny, I really want it; I've a good deal of curiosity.

Wife.—So have I, too!

Self.—Well, at any rate, let me look at the plates.

Wife.—Certainly; and suppose, by the way, as I've no letter to write—suppose I sit down with you, and read it to you! 'Twill save your eyes, and I'm all alone in the other room.

Self.—Very well. [Madame shuts the door; seats herself on the miniature sofa; I poke the fire; and she begins.] Being called away soon afterwards on some domestic exigency, she leaves me—and I read for myself. You said that you should like to know my opinion of Mr Dickens' new story, and I read it with interest, and some care. 'Tis exactly what I had expected; containing clear evidence of original genius, disfigured by many most serious, and now plainly incurable, blemishes. The first thing striking me, on perusing this new performance, is, that its author writes, as it were, from amidst a thick theatrical mist. Cursed be the hour—should say a sincere admirer of Mr Dickens' genius—that he ever set foot within a theatre, or became intimate with theatrical people. You fancy that every scene, incident, and character, is conceived with a view to its telling—from the stage. This suggestion seems to me to afford a key to most of the prominent faults and deficiencies of Mr Dickens as an imaginative writer; the lamentable absence of that simplicity and sobriety which invest the writings, for instance, of Goldsmith with immortal freshness and beauty. With what truthful tenderness does such a writer depict nature!—how different is his treatment from the spasmodic, straining, extravagant, vulgarizing efforts of the play-wright! The one is delicate and exquisite limning; the other, gross daubing:—the one faithfully represents; the other monstrously caricatures. This is the case with Mr Dickens; and it is intolerably provoking that it should be so; for he has the penetrating eye and accurate pencil, which—properly disciplined and trained—might have produced pictures worthy to stand beside those of the greatest masters. As it is, you might imagine his sketches to be the result of the combined simultaneous efforts of two artists—one the delicate limner, the other the vulgar dauber and scene-painter above spoken of. He has invention and skill enough to produce an interesting character; and place him in a situation favourable for developing his eccentricities, his failings, his excellences—in a word, his peculiarities. Well; he prepares his reader's mind—sets before you an interesting, a moving, a mirth-stirring occasion, when—bah!—all is ruined; the spasmodic straining after effect becomes instantly and painfully visible; and the personage before you is made to talk to the level of a theatrical audience, especially pit and gallery—and in unison with "gingerbeer, apples, oranges, and sodawater" associations and recollections. Let me give two striking instances, occurring at the very opening of "Dombey and Son." The first is the colloquy at pp. 3, 4; the other at p. 9. The former presents you Dr Parker Peps, a fashionable accou[637]cheur, and the humble admiring family medical man—the occasion being a momentary absence of both from the clamber of a lady dying in childbed, Mrs Dombey; and can any one of correct taste or feeling bear in mind that occasion, and fail of being revolted by the drivel put into the mouth of the consulting accoucheur?—who, when telling Mr Dombey of the mortal peril in which his wife overhead is lying—apologises to him for speaking of her as "Her Grace the Duchess!" "Lady Cankaby," "The Countess of Dombey:" his obsequious companion accounting for such lapses on the score of his "West End practice." Is this nature? Is it actual life? Any thing approaching to either? If not, what is it meant for? Why, to tickle a Christmas audience at one of the minor playhouses! The other (these are only two out of many) is the character of Mr Chick, an old fool, who has a habit of whistling and humming droll tunes on the most solemn occasions, interrupting and interlarding conversation with "Right tol loor-rul," "A cobbler there was," "Rumpti-iddity bow, wow, wow!" is it not certain that Mr Dickens here had his eye on Tilbury or Bedford enacting the part? And for no other purpose whatever is this precious character introduced than to hit off this very original peculiarity! From the same theatrical habit of mind, it happens that Mr Dickens cannot carry on his stories in an even, straightforward course, but presents us with a series of "scenes!"—utterly marring the effect and annihilating the truthfulness and reality of the whole; e. g. the jarring interruption of this story at a touching and interesting moment—at the moment of the two doctors and Mr Dombey's return to poor Mrs Dombey's death-bed, when the reader feels that they are almost instantly to witness her death, by the introduction of two tiresome twaddlers, reproductions of old stock characters of the author, Mrs Chick and Miss Tox, whose descriptions and utterly irrelevant conversation detain us for nearly three pages. At length these motley "stagers"—if I may be allowed the word—are grouped round the poor lady's death-bed; and let me here say, that in my opinion the character and situation of poor Mrs Dombey are both exquisitely conceived, and appeal to the deepest sympathies of the heart; but, alas! the perverse, provoking, incorrigible writer will not let us enjoy "the luxury of grief;" but while we are bending over her death-bed, our attention is called off to a remarkably interesting and appropriate circumstance—two watches of two of the doctors "seem in the silence to be running a race!" * * "they seem to be racing faster!!" * * "The race, in the ensuing pause, was fierce and furious. The watches seemed to jostle, and to trip each other up!!!" and a moment or two afterwards the lady expires, under very moving circumstances, touched with perfect delicacy and truthfulness. Would the intrusion of a sow into a lovely flower-garden be more shocking or disgusting to the beholder? Again, in the first page, we are presented to Mr Dombey, gazing with unutterable feelings at his newly-born son, "forty-eight minutes of age;" and Mr Dickens tastefully suggests the comparison of the little creature, which is "somewhat crushed and spotty in his general effect!!" whose mother is at that moment in dying agonies in that very room, to "a muffin, which it was essential to toast brown while it was very new!!" And a few lines forward, the posture of the innocent unconscious little being suggests the brutal idea of a prize-fighter—his "little fists, curled up and clenched, seemed, in his feeble way, to be SQUARING AT EXISTENCE for having come upon him so unexpectedly!!!" Was ever any thing more monstrous? To find a gentleman of Mr Dickens' great genius, and experience in literary composition, sinning in this way, is provoking beyond all measure. The above abominations to be perpetrated by him, who at page seventeen can present us with so exquisite a touch as the following:—He is describing the blank appearance of the dismantled house, immediately after the funeral of the poor, neglected, and heart-broken lady. "The dead and buried lady was awful, in a picture frame of ghastly bandages. Every gust of wind that rose, brought eddying round the corner, from the neighbouring mews, some fragments of the[638] straw that had been strewn before the house when she was ill; mildewed remains of which were still cleaving to the neighbourhood, and these being always drawn by some invisible attraction to the threshold of the dirty house to let opposite, addressed a dismal eloquence to Mr Dombey's window." The thirty-two pages of this first number contain very many provocatives to unfavourable criticism. They bristle all over with mannerisms—abound with grotesque, unseemly, extravagant comparisons and personation, (one of Mr Dickens' chiefly besetting sins)—many of the scenes contain truth and humour, smothered and lost by prolixity, incident and character diluted by a tedious and excessive minuteness of description; and it is to be feared that several of the characters will bear a painfully strong resemblance to some of their predecessors in Mr Dickens' other stories. Mr Dickens may feel angry at my plainness; and, in return, I must express my fears that he is not aware of the extent of injury which has been inflicted upon him by clique-homage—the flattery of fluent, incompetent admirers—the misconstrued silence of critics of experienced taste and refinement. Does Mr Dickens really consider the light in which his writings, containing such faults as those above adverted to, must be viewed by the upper and thinking classes of society—persons of cultivated taste, of refinement, of piercing critical capacity, who disdain to enter the little, babbling, vulgar, narrow-minded circles miscalled "literary?"

But I have done. Mr Dickens has been magnificently patronised by the public, who—I being one of them—have a right to speak plainly to, and of a gentleman whose writings have so large a circulation at home and abroad; who has no excuse, that I am aware of, for negligence or inattention; who is bound to consider the effect of example on the minds of tens of thousands of young and inexperienced readers who may take all for gospel that he chooses to tell them—and to be very very guarded as to moral object or effect—if moral object or effect his writings have, and be not intended solely to provoke, by their amusing and farcical absurdity and extravagance, an idle and forgotten laugh. I have no personal acquaintance with Mr Dickens, and have written in an impartial spirit, paying homage to his undoubted genius, denouncing his literary faults—for his own good, and the advantage of his readers, and of the literary character of the country.

Speaking of the literary character of the country, puts me in mind of the intention which I had formed some months ago, of writing an article upon the prevalent style of literary composition. May I take this opportunity of making a few observations upon that subject? And yet I must first admit, that my own style in writing this letter is far more loose, and inexact, and slovenly, than ought to be tolerated in even such a letter as this. Herein, however, I only imitate Dr Whately, who, on arriving at that part of his "rhetoric" which deals with public speaking, starts with an admission that he himself does not possess the qualifications, the acquisition of which he proceeds to enforce upon others.

The writing of the present day has many distinguishing excellences and faults. The most conspicuous of the latter is, perhaps, a want of simplicity and steadiness of style. Force—startling energy—are too uniformly aimed at by some; others affect continual sarcasm and irony, whatever may be the nature of the occasion. One class of writers are so priggishly curt and epigrammatic as to throw over their lucubrations an uniform air of small impertinence: it would be easy to point out, I think, an incessant illustration of this "school," if one may use the word. Others uniformly affect the trenchant and tremendous, with very big words, and awful accumulations of them. Some seem to aim at a picturesque ruggedness of style—defying rule, and challenging imitation. Very many writers of all classes are so parenthetical and involved in their sentences, that by the time that they have got to the end of a sentence, both they and their readers have forgotten where they set out from, and how the plague they got where they are: looking back breathless and dismayed at a confused series of hyphens entangled among all sorts of excep[639]tions, reservations, and qualifications. This fault, and a grievous one it is, is daily illustrated, and by writers, who, by their carelessness in this matter, do themselves incalculable injustice, rendering apparently turbid the clearest possible stream of reasoning, marring the effect of the most beautiful and apposite illustration, and irritating and confusing the reader. In my opinion, this fault of our public writers is to be traced to the influence of Lord Brougham's style. He has, and always had, a prodigious command of nervous and apposite language, always writing or speaking with a violent impetus upon him; and yet, while crashing along, his versatile and suggestive faculties hurried him incessantly from one side to the other, hither and thither—anticipating this, qualifying that, guarding against this, reserving that—extruding undesirable implications and inferences, with a sort of wild rapidity and energy—adopting ever-varying fanciful equivalent expressions—crowding, in fact, a dozen considerable sentences into one turbid monster. Yet it must be owned, that in all this he seldom misses his way; his original impetus carries him headlong on to the point at which he had aimed. Not so with his imitators. They start with an imaginary equality of force, of fulness, and variety; but forthwith rush into a strange higgle-piggledy, helter-skelter sort of imposing wordiness, equally bewildering and stupifying to their readers and themselves. No man can fall into this sort of fault who is habituated to leisurely distinctness of thought: he will conceive beforehand with deliberate purpose, and that, cæteris paribus, will induce a clear, close, and energetic expression of his thoughts, preventing misapprehension, and convincing even a strongly prejudiced opponent. Shorten your sentences, gentlemen; take one thing at a time; put every thing in its proper place; attempt not to put a quart into a pint pot; do not write in such a desperate hurry, nor attempt to hit half-a-dozen birds with one stone. Another prevalent vice is a sickening redundancy of classical quotation and allusion. Many of our newspaper writers, and among them some of the very cleverest, cannot contemplate any topic which they propose to discuss, without its suggesting, as if by a sudden, secret sort of elective affinity, previous events and occurrences of past ages. Out tumble scraps from Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Terence, Plautus, Lucretius, with their prose companions; and this, too, be it observed, almost always Roman;—it requires a certain hardihood to adopt the Greek language in modern composition. In short, one really thinks himself entitled to infer, from this extravagant amount of quotation and allusion, as well ancient as modern, that its perpetrators are very young: red-hot from their classical studies, panting to exhibit the extent of their acquisitions, the scholarly ease and precision with which they can apply the most recondite passages and allusions to the fresh occurrences of the moment. One is apt to suspect that one great motive for acquiring, extending, and retaining knowledge, is the simple desire to exhibit the possession of it. But all this is very vain and foolish. It looks stupidly ridiculous to persons of experienced judgment. An occasional and very sparing use of this sort of accessory is always desirable, often marvellously graceful and happy; an excess of it decisively indicates pedantic puerility, ostentation, and a grievous deficiency of strength and originality. It is likely, moreover, to have a very unpleasant and irritating effect, when apparent in popular compositions—in leading or other articles in newspapers, for instance—viz. on occasions where the persons addressed, or at least very many of them, do not comprehend or appreciate the allusion or quotation. A really classical turn of mind is usually accompanied by too fine and correct a taste to admit of these eccentricities and vagaries. The English language is a very fine language, my friends; and a very, very fine and rare thing it is to be able to use it with freedom, and purity, and power. Another very censurable kindred habit of many of our public writers is, the interlarding their compositions with abominable scraps of French, and even of Italian. Faugh!—is not this adding insult to injury, in dealing with the noble language of our country?


A week has elapsed since I penned the foregoing sentences, and during that week only two things have occurred to me worthy of noticing. First, a couple (apparently newly married) put up for a few hours at the little inn in the village. They were both of a certain age. He wore a ponderous watch-chain and seals; she also was sufficiently bedizened after the same fashion. Twice I encountered them. First, on the seashore, where they took their seat very coolly on the rock next adjoining my old perch, which I was then occupying. After some considerable swagger, my gentleman produced a newspaper from his pocket, and distinctly said to his fair companion—"What an uncommon good thing the Illustrious London News is for the lower classes!" Second, the worthy couple were walking together, at a subsequent period of the day, laden with provender for an open-air lunch—with sandwiches and a black bottle, and with a matter-of-fact air, turned into a beautifully disposed rustic walk, having palpable indicia of privacy—it belonging, in fact, to the residence of a nobleman. My lord's gentleman, or gentleman's gentleman, happening to meet them, (I passing at the time,) asked them, with great courtesy of manner, if they were aware "that that was private property?" "Well," replied our male friend angrily, "and what if it is? I thought an Englishman might go any where he pleased in his own country, provided he didn't do any mischief. But come along, my dear," giving his arm to his flustered companion, "times are come to a pretty pass, aren't they?" With this, the offended dignities retraced their steps, but prodigiously slowly, and I saw no more of them.—The other occurrence was a dream, as odd, as obstinate in adherence to my memory. Methought I went one day to church to hear a revered elderly relative of mine preach. The church was crammed with an attentive and solemnly-disposed audience, whom the preacher was addressing very calmly but seriously, without gown or bands, but wearing two neckerchiefs, one resting upon the topmost edge of the other, and being of blue silk, with white spots! Though aware of this slight departure from clerical costume, it occasioned me no surprise, but I listened with serious attention. 'Twas only when I had awoke that the fantastic absurdity of the thing became apparent.

The "British Association" has just been making, at Southampton, as I see by the papers, one of its annual exhibitions of childish inanity. This sort of thing appears to me to be humiliating to the country, in respect of so many men of real scientific eminence, like Sir John Herschel and Dr Faraday, and one or two others, permitting themselves to be trotted out on such occasions for the amusement of the vulgar, and, in doing so, countenancing the herd of twaddling ninnies who figure on these occasions as spouters, or patronising listeners to the fluent confident sciolists of the various "sections." I can fancy one of these personages carefully bottling up against the day of display, some such precious discovery as that of "a peculiar appearance in the flame of a candle!"—which actually formed the subject of a paper at the last meeting; or, "on certain magnetic phenomena attending corns on the human foot,"—which latter, after a stiff debate as to the propriety of publishing it, is not, it seems, at present, to edify the world at large. The whole thing is resolvable into a paltry love of lionising, and being lionised—of enacting the part of prodigies before pretty admiring women, and simpering simpletons of the other sex. 'Tis an efflorescence of that vicious system which of late years continually manifests itself in the shape of flaunting reunions, soirées, conversazioni, &c. &c., where is to be heard little else than senile garrulity, the gabble of ignorant eulogy, or virulent envious depreciation and detraction. 'Tis true that distinguished scientific foreigners now and then make their appearance at the meetings of the Association; but there can be little doubt that they come over in utter ignorance of the really trifling character of those meetings, misled by the eager exaggerations of their friends and correspondents in this country. Can you conceive any thing more preposterous in its way, than the chartering of the steam-boat by the Association,[641] to convey its members from Southampton to the Isle of Wight on a geological expedition? Methinks I see the crowd of "venerable boys"—to adopt the bitterly-humorous language of the Times—landing at Black Gang Chine, each with his bag slung round him, and hammer in hand, dispersing about, rap! rap! rap!—chick! chick! chick!—and fondly fancying that they are effectually learning, or teaching, geology, in the hour or two thus idled away! Can any thing be more exquisitely absurd? Bah! all this might be harmless and pleasant enough, in the way of a holiday recreation for school-boys or girls; but for grave, grown-up men—peers, baronets, knights, doctors, F.R.S., F.A.S.'s, &c. &c.,—the thing really does not bear dwelling upon.

"I can have no hesitation, to whatever amount of obloquy, or of forfeited friendship, the avowal may expose me, in stating the conclusion, which anxious and repeated consideration of the state of Ireland has at length forced upon me, (Cheers.) It is, that the time has arrived for reconsidering the state of our relations with Ireland, with a view to a repeal of the Legislative Union between the two countries, (Hear, hear.) I see no other adequate remedy for the ills which desolate that unhappy country, and think that such a step would also happily free England from a burden long felt to be intolerable, (Hear.) I am fortified in arriving at this result, by a review of the favourable effects produced on Ireland by the measures which, during the last few years, I have had the honour to bring forward in this house, and see carried into effect by the legislature, (Cheers.) I am aware that this avowal may startle some of the more timid (hear, hear) of those gentlemen who have usually done me the honour to act with me; but an imperious sense of duty compels me to be prompt and explicit upon this vital question, which I am fixedly resolved to settle in the way I propose; and I will, for that purpose, avail myself of every means which the constitution places at the disposal of her Majesty's responsible advisers, (Cheers.) * * * I claim no credit for proposing this great measure of justice and mercy, nor wish to detract from the merit due to those whose minds the light of truth and reason reached earlier than mine. Whatever credit is due, I have no hesitation in ascribing to—Daniel O'Connell," (Cheers.) * * * * Is there a man in the empire who would be seriously surprised if he were to hear Sir Robert Peel make the above statement in the next session of Parliament, if he met the house once more as Prime Minister? And so, in the session after, might we expect a similar announcement with reference to the Protestant succession to the throne; and then—but by no means to stop even there—the conversion of our form of government from a limited monarchy into a republic. What, in short, may not be predicted of such a statesman as Sir Robert Peel? Who can conceive of him taking his stand any where? Assisting any body or any thing? It pains me to ask, whether the history of this country ever saw a man who had done so many things, the impropriety and danger of which he had himself uniformly beforehand demonstrated? Sir Robert Peel has been converted into a sort of political pillar of salt—a melancholy instructive memento of the evils of unprincipled statesmanship—the former word being used, not in a vulgar offensive sense, but as signifying, simply and solely, the absence of any fixed principles of political action; or the habit of action irrespective of principle. I will not, however, pursue this painful and humiliating topic further, than to express the deep concern and perplexity occasioned to me, amongst hundreds of thousands of others, by the recent movements of Sir Robert Peel. I have never thought or spoken of him, up even to the present moment, otherwise than with sincere respect for his spotless personal character, and the highest admiration of his intellectual and administrative qualities. I would scout the very faintest insinuation against the purity of his motives, at the same time loudly expressing my concern and amazement at witnessing such conduct as his, in such a man!

"Who would not weep if such a man there be—

Who would not weep if Atticus were he?"


I said just now, that Sir Robert Peel's signal characteristic was the doing things, the impropriety and danger of doing which he had himself beforehand demonstrated; and that was the reflection with which I yesterday concluded the perusal of a memorable little document which I took care to preserve at the time—I mean his national manifesto at the general election of 1841, in the shape of his address to the electors of Tamworth. Apply it now like a plummet to the edifice of Sir Robert Peel's political character; how conclusively it shows the extent to which it has diverged or swelled from the perpendicular line of right—how much he has departed from the standard which he had himself set up! What must be his feelings on recurring to such a declaration as this?

"That party," [the Conservative,] "gentlemen, has been pleased to intrust your representative with its confidence—(cheers;) and, notwithstanding all the remarks that have been made at various times, respecting differences of opinion and jealousy among them, you may depend upon it that they are altogether without foundation; and that that party which has paid me the compliment of taking my advice, and following my counsel, are a united and compact party, among which there does not exist the slightest difference of opinion in respect to the principles they support, and the course they may desire to pursue. (Cheers.) Gentlemen, I hope I have not abused the confidence of that great party."[66] (Loud cheers.)!!! I give the eloquent and eminent speaker credit for feeling a sort of twinge, a pang, a spasm, on reading the above. One more extract I will give relative to the recent conduct of Sir R. Peel on the sugar-duties:—"The question now is, gentlemen, whether, after the sacrifices which this country has made for the suppression of the slave-trade, and the abolition of slavery, and the glorious results that have ensued, and are likely to ensue from these sacrifices, we shall run the risk of losing the benefit of these sacrifices, and tarnishing for ever that glory, by admitting to the British markets sugar, the produce of foreign slavery? Gentlemen, the character of this country, in respect to slavery, is thus spoken of by one of the most eloquent writers and statesmen of another country, Dr Channing, of the United States:—'Great Britain, loaded with an unprecedented debt, and with a grinding taxation, contracted a new debt of a hundred millions of dollars, to give freedom, not to Englishmen, but to the degraded African. I know not that history records an act so disinterested, so sublime. In the progress of ages, England's naval triumphs will sink into a more and more narrow space on the records of our race. This moral triumph will fill a broader, brighter page.' Gentlemen," proceeded Sir Robert Peel, "let us take care that this 'brighter page' be not sullied by the admission of slave sugar into the consumption of this country, by our unnecessary encouragement of slavery and the slave-trade."[67]

Is it not humiliating and distressing to compare these sentences, and the lofty spirit which pervades them, with the speech, and the animus pervading it, delivered by Sir Robert Peel in the House of Commons, on Lord John Russell's bringing in his bill for "sullying this bright page" of English glory? Did Sir Robert Peel, true to principle, solemnly and peremptorily announce the refusal of his assent to that cruel, and foolish, and wicked measure? I forbear to press this topic, also quitting it, with the expression of my opinion, that that speech alone was calculated to do him fearful and irreparable injury in public estimation. It is impossible for the most zealous and skilful advocacy to frame a plausible vindication of this part of Sir Robert Peel's conduct. I sincerely acquit him of having any sinister or impure motive; the fact was, simply, that he found that he had placed himself in a dire perplexity and dilemma.

I think it next to impossible that Sir Robert Peel can ever again be in a position, even if he desired it, to sway the destinies of this country, either as a prime minister, or by the force of his personal influence and opinion. Has he or has he not done rightly by the [643]greatest party that ever gave its noble and ennobling support to a minister? Can he himself, in 1846, express the "hope" of 1841, that "he has not abused the confidence of that great party?" If he again take part in the debates of Parliament, he will always be listened to, whoever may be in power, with the interest and attention justly due to his masterly acquaintance with the conduct of the public business, most especially on matters of finance. But with what involuntary shrinking and distrust is his advocacy or defence of any of our great institutions likely to be received hereafter by their consistent and devoted friends? Will they not be prepared to find the splendid vindication of the preceding evening, but the prelude to the next evening's abandonment and denunciation? Is not, in short, the national confidence thoroughly shaken? His support and advocacy of any great interest are too likely to be received with guarded satisfaction—as far as they go, as long as they continue—not with the enthusiastic confidence due to surpassing and consistent statesmanship.

It has sometimes occurred to me, in scrutinising his later movements, that one of his set purposes was finally to break up the Conservative party, and scatter among it the seeds of future dissension and difficulty; possibly thinking, conscientiously, that in the state of things which he had brought about, the continued existence of a Conservative party with definite points of cohesion, with visible acknowledged rallying-points, could no longer be beneficial to the country. He may have in his eye the formation of another party, willing to accept of his leadership, after another general election; of which said new party his present few adherents are to form the nucleus. But I do not see how this is to be done. Confounding, for a time, to all party connexions and combinations as have been the occurrences of the last session, of perhaps the last two sessions, of Parliament, a steady watchful eye may already see the two great parties of the state—Liberal and Conservatives—readjusting themselves in conformity with their respective general views and principles. The Conservative party has at the moment a prodigious strength of hold upon the country—not noisy or ostentatious, but real, and calculated to have its strength rapidly, though secretly, increased by alarmed seceders from the Liberal ranks, on seeing the spirit of change become more bold and active, and directing its steps towards the regions of revolution and democracy. Sir Robert Peel's speech, on resigning office, presented several features of an alarming character. Several of his sentences, especially with reference to Ireland,

—"made the boldest hold their breath
For a time."

Candid persons did not see in what he was doing, the paltry desire to outbid his perplexed successors, but suspected that he was designedly—advisedly—laying down visible lines of eternal separation between him and his former supporters, rendering it impossible for him to return to them, or for them to go over to him; and so at once putting an extinguisher upon all future doubts and speculation. To me it appeared that the speech in question evidenced an astounding revolution—astounding in its suddenness and violence—of the speaker's political system; announcing results, while other men were only just beginning to see the process. Will Sir Robert Peel join Lord John Russell? What, serve under him, and become a fellow-subordinate of Lord Palmerston's? I think not. What post would be offered to him? What post would he, the late prime minister, consent to fill under his victorious rival? Will, then, Lord John Russell act under Sir Robert Peel? Most certainly—at least in my opinion—not. What then is to be done, in the event of Sir Robert Peel's being willing to resume official life? Over whom, under whom, with whom, is he to act? The Conservative party have already elected his successor, Lord Stanley, who cannot, who will not be deposed in favour of any one; a man of very splendid talents, of long official experience, of lofty personal character, of paramount hereditary claims to the support of the aristocracy, who has never sacrificed consistency, but rather sacrificed every thing for consistency.[644] Ever since he accepted the leadership of the great Conservative party, he has evinced a profound sense of its responsibilities and requirements, and the possession of these qualifications in respect of prudence and moderation, which some had formerly doubted. Lord Stanley, then, will continue the Conservative leader, and Lord John Russell the Liberal leader; and I doubt whether any decisive move will be made till after the ensuing general election. What will be the result of it? What will be the rallying-cries of party? What will Sir Robert Peel say to the Tamworth electors?

However these questions may be answered, I would, had I the power, speak trumpet-tongued to our Conservative friends in every county and borough in the kingdom, and say, "up, and be doing." Spare no expense or exertion, but do it prudently. Use every instrument of legitimate influence—for the stake played for is tremendous; the national interests evidently marked out for assault, are vital; and they will stand or fall, and we enjoy peace, or be condemned to agitation and alarm, according to the result of the next General Election, which will assuredly palsy the hands of either the friends or enemies of the best interests of the country.

And now, dear Christopher, I draw towards the close of this long letter, without having been able even to touch upon several other "Things" which I had noted down for observation and comment. As my letter draws to a close, so also draws rapidly to a close my seaside sojourn. My hours of relaxation are numbered. I must return to the busy scenes of the metropolis, and resume my interrupted duties. And you, too, have returned to the scene of your renown, the sphere of your honourable and responsible duties. May your shadow never grow less! Floreat Maga! I have done. The old postman, wet through in coming over the hills, is waiting for my letter, and, having finished his beer, is fidgeting to be off. "What! can't you spare me one five minutes more?" "No, sir—impossible—I ought to have been at——an hour ago"

Farewell then, dear Christopher,    
Your faithful friend,            
An Old Contributor.


[1] "La Madeleine comme le Pantheon avait été commencée la même année en 1764, par les ordres de Louis XV., le roi des grand monumens, et dont le regne a été travesti par la petite histoire."—Capefigue, Histoire de Louis Philippe, viii. 281.

[2] Marlborough to the Earl of Sunderland, 8th Nov. 1709. Disp. iv. 647. Coxe, iv. 167.

[3] Coxe, iv. 169. Lamberti, vi. 37, 49.

[4] Note to Petcum, August 10, 1710. Marlborough Papers; and Coxe, iv. 173.

[5] "I am very sorry to tell you that the behaviour of the French looks as if they had no other desire than that of carrying on the war. I hope God will bless this campaign, for I see nothing else that can give us peace either at home or abroad. I am so discouraged by every thing I see, that I have never, during this war, gone into the field with so heavy a heart as at this time. I own to you, that the present humour in England gives me a good deal of trouble; for I cannot see how it is possible they should mend till every thing is yet worse." Marlborough to Duchess Marlborough, Hague, 14th April 1710. Coxe, iv. 179.

[6] Marlborough to Godolphin, 20th April, iv. 182.

[7] "In my last, I had but just time to tell you we had passed the lines. I hope this happy beginning will produce such success this campaign as must put an end to the war. I bless God for putting it into their heads not to defend their lines; for at Pont-a-Vendin, when I passed, the Marshal D'Artagnan was with twenty thousand men, which, if he had staid, must have rendered the event very doubtful. But, God be praised, we are come without the loss of any men. The excuse the French make is, that we came four days before they expected us."—Marlborough to the Duchess, 21st April 1710. Coxe, ix. 184.

[8] "I hope God will so bless our efforts, that if the Queen should not be so happy as to have a prospect of peace before the opening of the next session of parliament, she and all her subjects may be convinced we do our best here in the army to put a speedy and good period to this bloody war." Marlborough to the Duchess, May 12, 1710.

"I hear of so many disagreeable things, that make it very reasonable, both for myself and you, to take no steps but what may lead to a quiet life. This being the case, am I not to be pitied that am every day in danger of exposing my life for the good of those who are seeking my ruin? God's will be done. If I can be so blessed as to end this campaign with success, things must very much alter to persuade me to come again at the head of the army." Marlborough to the Duchess, 19th May 1710. Coxe, iv. 191, 192.

[9] Marlborough to Godolphin, 26th May and 2d June 1710.

[10] Marlborough to the Duchess, 12th June 1710. Coxe, iv. 197.

[11] Marlborough to Godolphin, 26th June 1710. Disp. iv. 696.

[12] Considerat. sur la Camp. de 1710, par M. le Marshal Villars; and Coxe, iv. 192.

[13] Marlborough to Godolphin, 29th August 1710. Disp. iv. 581. Coxe, iv. 294.

[14] Coxe, iv. 343, 344.

[15] "I am of opinion that, after the siege of Aire, I shall have it in my power to attack Calais. This is a conquest which would very much prejudice France, and ought to have a good effect for the Queen's service in England; but I see so much malice levelled at me, that I am afraid it is not safe for me to make any proposition, lest, if it should not succeed, my enemies should turn it to my disadvantage." Marlborough to Godolphin, 11th August 1710. Coxe, iv. 343.

[16] "Till within these few days, during these nine years I have never had occasion to send ill news. Our powder and other stores, for the carrying on these two sieges, left Ghent last Thursday, under the convoy of twelve hundred foot and four hundred and fifty horse. They were attacked by the enemy and beaten, so that they blew up the powder, and sunk the store-boats." Marlborough to the Duchess, 22d September 1710. Coxe, iv. 365.

[17] "Take it we must, for we cannot draw the guns from the batteries. But God knows when we shall have it: night and day our poor men are up to the knees in mud and water." Marlborough to Godolphin, 27th October 1710.

[18] Marlborough to Godolphin, 13th November 1710. Disp. iv. 685, 689. Coxe, iv. 366, 367.

[19] Cunningham, ii. 305.

[20] Marlborough to the Duchess, 26th July 1710. Coxe, iv. 299.

[21] Marlborough to the Duchess, 25th October and 24th November 1710. Coxe, iv. 351, 352.

[22] Bolingbroke's Corresp., i. 41; Mr Secretary St John to Mr Drummond, 20th Dec. 1710.

[23] "I beg you to lose no time in sending me, to the Hague, the opinion of our friend mentioned in my letter; for I would be governed by the Whigs, from whose principle and interest I will never depart. Whilst they had a majority in the House of Commons, they might suspect it might be my interest; but now they must do me the justice to see that it is my inclination and principle which makes me act." Marlborough to the Duchess, Nov. 9, 1710. Coxe, iv. 360.

[24] Coxe, iv. 405.

[25] "Though I never thought of troubling your Majesty again in this manner, yet the circumstances I see my Lord Marlborough in, and the apprehension I have that he cannot live six months, if there is not some end put to his sufferings on my account, make it impossible for me to resist doing every thing in my power to ease him." Duchess of Marlborough to Queen Anne, 17th Jan. 1711. Coxe, iv. 410.

[26] Smollett, c. x. § 20.

[27] Marlborough to the Duchess, 24th May 1711. Coxe, v. 417-431.

[28] Eugene to Marlborough, 23d April 1710; Marlborough to St John, 29th April 1710. Coxe, vi. 16. Disp. v. 319.

[29] Lidiard, ii. 426. Coxe, vi. 21. 22.

[30] "I see my Lord Rochester has gone where we all must follow. I believe my journey will be hastened by the many vexations I meet with. I am sure I wish well to my country, and if I could do good, I should think no pains too great; but I find myself decay so very fast, that from my heart and soul I wish the Queen and my country a peace by which I might have the advantage of enjoying a little quiet, which is my greatest ambition." Marlborough to the Duchess, 25th May, 1711. Coxe, vi. 28.

[31] Marlborough to St John, 14th June 1711. Disp. v. 428. Coxe, vi. 29, 30.

[32] Villars' Mem. tom. ii. ann. 1711.

[33] Bolingbroke's Corresp. i. 172.

[34] "The Duke of Marlborough has no communication from home on this affair; I suppose he will have none from the Hague." Mr Secretary St John to Lord Raby, 27th April 1711. Bolingbroke's Corresp. i. 175.

[35] Coxe, vi. 52-54.

[36] Kane's Memoirs, p. 89. Coxe, vi. 53, 55; Disp. v. 421, 428.

[37] Kane's Memoirs, p. 92. Marlborough to Mr Secretary St John, 6th August, 1711. Disp. v. 428.

[38] Marlborough to Mr Secretary St John, 6th August 1711. Disp. v. 428. Coxe, vi. 60-65. Kane's Mil. Mem. 96-99.

[39] "No person takes a greater interest in your concerns than myself; your highness has penetrated into the ne plus ultra. I hope the siege of Bouchain will not last long." Eugene to Marlborough, 17th August 1711. Coxe, vi. 66.

[40] "My Lord Stair opened to us the general steps which your grace intended to take, in order to pass the lines in one part or another. It was, however, hard to imagine, and too much to hope, that a plan, which consisted of so many parts, wherein so many different corps were to co-operate personally together, should entirely succeed, and no one article fail of what your grace had projected. I most heartily congratulate your grace on this great event, of which I think no more needs be said, than that you have obtained, without losing a man, such an advantage, as we should have been glad to have purchased with the loss of several thousand lives." Mr Secretary St John to Marlborough, 31st July 1711. Disp. v. 429.

[41] Marlborough to Mr Secretary St John, 10th August 1711. Disp. v. 437.

[42] Coxe, vi. 71-80; Marlborough to Mr Secretary St John, 14th, 17th, and 20th August 1711; Disp. v. 445, 450, 453.

[43] Marlborough to Mr Secretary St John, 14th Sept. 1711. Disp. v. 490. Coxe, vi. 78-88.

[44] Victoires de Marlborough, iii. 22. Coxe, vi. 87.

[45] There were special reasons for the mutual hatred of these two brothers. One of the Amir's wives was a lady of the royal family of Sadozai, who, when the decline of that dynasty commenced, had attracted the attention of Sultan Mohammed Khan, and a correspondence took place between them. She prepared to leave Kabul to be married to him, when the Amir, who was also smitten with her charms, forcibly seized her and compelled her to become his wife. This at once created, and has ever since maintained, a fatal animosity between the brothers; and Sultan Mohammed Khan has often been heard to say, that nothing would afford him greater pleasure, even at breathing his last, than to drink the blood of the Amir. Such is the nature of the brotherly feeling now existing between them.—See Life of Dost Mohammed Khan, vol. i. p. 222, 223.

[46] Sale's Brigade in Afghanistan. By the Rev. G.R. Gleig.

[47] "By sudden and urgent necessity, the Commissioners understand any case of destitution requiring instant relief, before the person can be received into the workhouse; as, for example, when a person is deprived of the usual means of support, by means of fire, or storm, or inundation, or robbery, or riot, or any other similar cause, which he could not control, where it had occurred, and which it would have been impossible or very difficult for him to foresee and prevent."—Eighth Report of the Poor-Law Commissioners. App. A.; No. 2.

[48] In the third volume of Von Schöning's History of the Artillery, we find the following extract from an official report of Captain Spreuth, an artillery officer, dated Königsberg, 18th December 1812. "The 'Grand Army' is retreating across the Weichsel, if indeed it may be called a retreat; it is more like a total rout or disbandment, for the fugitives came without order or baggage. The post-horses are at work day and night. From the 16th to the 17th, 71 generals 60 colonels, 1243 staff and other officers, passed through this place; the majority continued their route on foot, being unable to procure horses; the officers' baggage is all lost, some of it has been plundered by their own men, and we have even seen officers fighting in the streets with the common soldiers."

[49] The noted military writer, Carl Von Decker, since General.

[50] "Dietro al mio legno, che cantando varca."—Dante.

[51] Michel Angelo lived until the beginning of the year 1564, the seventieth after the death of Luigia de' Medici.

[52] In the Florentine style, 1474. The Florentine year began at Easter.

[53] Michel Angelo was the fourth and last of the sons of Ludovico.

[54] The Platonic Academy was established at Florence in 1474. Politiano's death, twenty years later, was the cause of its entire dispersion.

[55] "But, perhaps, thy compassion regards with more justice than I thought in the beginning, my pure and loyal ardour, and the passion which thy looks have kindled in me for noble actions.

"Oh, most happy day! if it ever arrive for me, let my days and hours concentrate themselves in that moment! and, to prolong it, let the sun forget his accustomed course!"

[56] He was born in 1475.

[57] The first sonnet of the collection; that commencing with the celebrated proposition—

"Non ha l'ottimo artista alcun concetto."


"Dal mortale al divin non vanno gli occhi
Che sono infermi." * * * *


"Veggendo ne tuo' occhi il Paradiso,
Per ritornar là dove io t'amai pria,
Ricorro ardendo sotto le tue ciglia."


"Non so se e' l'immaginata luce
Del suo primo Fattor che l'alma sente,
O se dalla memoria. * * *
Alcuna altra bella nel cor traluce,
* * * * * * *
Del tuo primiero stato il raggio ardente
Di sè lasciando un non so che cocente." * * *


"La buona coscienza che l'uom franchigia,
Sotto l'usbergo di sentirsi pura."—Dante.

[62] "To what am I reserved?" writes Angelo in another piece. "To live long? that terrifies me. The shortest life is yet too long for the recompense obtained in serving with devotion."

[63] "Ahi, che null altro che pianto al mondo dura!"—Petrarca.

[64] "Ogni altro ben val men ch'una mia doglia!"


* * * * "Chi t'ama con fede
Si leva a Dio, e fa dolce la morte."

[66] Speech of Sir R. Peel at the Tamworth election, pp. 4, 5.—Ollivier, Pall-Mall.

[67] Ibid. pp. 8, 9.

Transcribers notes:

Maintained original spelling and punctuation.

Silently corrected a few typesetting errors.