The Project Gutenberg eBook, Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 15, No. 90, June, 1875, by Various, Edited by John Foster Kirk

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Title: Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. 15, No. 90, June, 1875

Author: Various

Release Date: July 20, 2004 [eBook #12960]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


E-text prepared by Juliet Sutherland, Sandra Brown,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Transcriber's Note: The Table of Contents and the list of illustrations were added by the transcriber.

[pg 649]




JUNE, 1875.

Vol. XV.




Concluding Paper. [Illustrated] 649





Two Papers.—1 by LAURA WINTHROP JOHNSON. 693






Chapter XXXVI. —Into Captivity. 735

Chapter XXXVII. —An Angry Interview. 739

Chapter XXXVIII. —The Old, Half-Forgotten Joke. 742

Chapter XXXIX. —New Ambitions.746

Chapter XL. —An Old Lady's Apology.751


II.—Night—Lake Helen by EDWARD KEARSLEY. 755



Woman's Rights In The Eighteenth Century. 763






Books Received. 776


The Quinta De La Miseria.

How the Poor Travel In Paraguay.

View of Ibitimi.

Itape: Palace and Church.

Interior of the Church at Villa Rica.

A Jaguar Trap.


Foundry at Ibicuy, Destroyed During the War.

Village of Carapegua.



One day—to return to our traveler and his personal experiences—M. Forgues makes the acquaintance of a Swiss who resides at Paraguari, a small interior town distant about twenty-five leagues from Asuncion. His new acquaintance invites him to go with him to Paraguari, but before complying with the invitation M. Forgues crosses the river and rides into the territory of Gran Chaco as far as the Quinta de la Miseria, situated about two miles and a half from the river-bank. The owner of this farm, Mequelain, a French pioneer, his wife and three servants, had been surprised and murdered by the Chaco Indians a short while before the arrival of M. Forgues in Asuncion. The quinta is on the edge of a vast plain. The unfortunate Mequelain had surrounded his house with ditches and a small fence of posts. Besides this, he had built a sort of observatory from which to watch the movements of the Indians. But his precautions, as the end showed, proved useless. The farm was occupied by new tenants at the time of M. Forgues's visit, and the bodies of the five victims were buried in one of the ditches. The Quinta de la Miseria derives its gloomy name from the tragic event that had given it its melancholy prominence in the minds of the people of Asuncion. To reach Paraguari our traveler avails himself of the railroad which extends between that town and the capital. The railroad-station presents a lively scene with its crowd of savage-looking natives thronging it. In connection with this station M. Forgues mentions a curious circumstance—that in order to prevent the rush of the multitude to the cars on the departure of the train the station-master has ingeniously replaced gates and fences, which might be climbed easily, with brushes steeped in pitch and tar, so disposed as to bar the passage. As the Paraguayan women hold cleanliness to be one of the cardinal virtues, they religiously avoid these defiling brushes for fear of soiling their garments. The cars are built on the most approved American model. The train, furthermore, has two platform-cars attached to it, which are reserved exclusively for the gratuitous use of the poor, who are permitted to ride on them with as much as they can carry in the way of bundles and other goods. Sometimes the platforms are so crowded that they are lost to sight under the passengers' heads and legs. Another feature of railway travel in Paraguay—for a foreigner a sensation—is to observe a [pg 650] woman clad in the Arcadian simplicity of a single garment enter a car and take a seat opposite you or alongside of you with the most unconstrained air imaginable.


The train on its way to Paraguari passes Trinidad and many other stations. The station-houses are all small structures covered with tile roofs. At Luque, a village where the passengers stop for refreshments, the women of the place flock at the windows and offer for sale embroideries of their own invention worked on tulle or on a special kind of netting, while the venders of lunches appear, not with the traditional fried oysters, fried chickens or sandwiches of our own favored land, but with bottles of fresh milk and chiapa, a kind of bread made from manioc, among the ingredients of which are starch and eggs, and for which Luque is famous. The engineer of the train, an Englishman, is a person who is as important in his way as is the Brazilian minister in his. At Luque he descends from his locomotive to chat with a friend on the platform. Time—or what would be "time" elsewhere—is up, but our Englishman continues to talk, notwithstanding that after the utterance of impatient cries the [pg 651] passengers leave the cars in wrath to crowd around him and overwhelm him with abusive words. An admirable representative of English phlegm, he finishes his conversation at his ease, looks at his watch, climbs in a leisurely way to his position on the engine and puts the train in motion. There is no danger of collision with any other train, however, for this train is the only one on the line. It leaves Asuncion every morning, moving at an average rate of fifteen miles an hour, and arrives at Paraguari some time during the day, at the will of the engineer. Returning from Paraguari the same day, it reaches Asuncion, remarks M. Forgues, when it pleases Heaven that it shall do so.


The scenery along the road is beautiful, but the country is almost a desert. Around the stations are groups of dwellings of varied appearance, the most solidly built of which are connected with farms that belonged to the late President Lopez. At times appear palm trees, the feathery leaves of which mingle with beautiful effect with the pale or dark foliage of an exuberant vegetation. Lopez had established telegraphic communication between the mouth of the Paraguay and [pg 652] Paraguari, but the line having been broken between the latter terminus and a place called Cerro Leon, and nobody having been sufficiently interested in it to have it repaired, it now stops at Cerro Leon, the only telegraphic wire in the country, as the Asuncion and Paraguari Railroad is the only railroad.

As the train approaches its destination the passengers see in the distance the three cerros of Paraguari. These isolated sugar-loaf-shaped hills called cerros, covered with verdure, are a marked feature of Paraguayan scenery. They rise from the flat plains, and although their isolated situations impart to them an appearance of great height, they are rarely more than four hundred feet above the level of the plain. Paraguari comprises fifty or sixty houses worthy of the appellation, built around a square. In the outskirts are numerous mud-huts, all well populated with women and children. Its inhabitants number about three thousand, and in its quality as terminus of an unfinished railroad it has that flavor of desperadoism which usually attaches to positions of that kind. Here gather malefactors, generally of foreign birth, from Asuncion and elsewhere—refugees from the central authority and the metropolitan police—who are more free in Paraguari to prey on whomsoever chance may throw in their way. Of the sixty houses, twelve are tiendas, shops in which are sold at retail English cotton goods, Hamburg gins, etc., in exchange for the products of the country—hides, tobacco, maté and other commodities.

The Paraguayan is an inveterate gambler, and in Paraguari two at least of the houses are devoted to public play. They are crowded nightly, and often the stakes amount to five hundred or a thousand francs. Quarrels frequently arise over the play, and then the knife is brought into requisition, but the affrays are due more to the presence of the Italian, Argentine and Brazilian adventurers who flock there than to the Paraguayans, who are not, naturally, a quarrelsome race. On the night of his arrival, M. Forgues, with revolver in belt and accompanied by his Swiss friend, walks through the village. The tiendas are lighted up, but the other houses are in darkness. They look in on the gamblers. The dingy room is partially illuminated by a petroleum lamp which hangs from the ceiling and casts its rays on groups of men with hang-dog countenances seated or standing around a long table, smoking pipes and playing at cards for silver coin, or else engaged in a certain game played on a billiard-table, in which a handful of small balls is thrown on the table by the players, the end to be attained being to cause as many of the balls as possible to enter the pockets. Then M. Forgues and his companion leave the scene of the gambling orgie and look on another phase of life in Paraguari after dark. Not far distant is a lighted stable-lantern on the ground: around it, with a confused medly of ponchos and white skirts flying in the air, goes on the merry dance to the sound of an organ's whining notes. This is all that can be seen from where they stand, for the faces of the dancers, too dark to be distinguishable in the night, are invisible.

The village square is a kind of permanent fair-ground filled with diminutive booths, each one composed of four posts stuck in the ground and upholding a bit of cloth not much larger than a hand-kerchief, under which the hucksters, women and children, sit as under a tent. There is a multitude of sellers, and a pitiful lack of goods to be sold. One woman, with her four children seated near her, offers six eggs to the passer-by as her little store of merchandise: another booth is presided over by two women and three children, and a dozen ears of corn constitute their stock. There is a sad suggestion of poverty about all this which is very depressing. The day before the arrival of M. Forgues in the place an enterprising baker, the first who had ever set foot in Paraguari, began the making and selling of wheat bread. Everybody deserted his customary manioc and bought a loaf of the good fellow, who rubbed his hands with delight at the success of his speculation. The next day, not satisfied with a legitimate profit, he raised the price of his loaves. Human nature is the same all over the world, and the speculator found his bread left on his [pg 653] hands. Nobody would pay his price, and everybody returned to manioc.

From Paraguari our traveler's course next led him toward Villa Rica, a thriving town situated still farther in the interior, and near the Cordillera of Caaguazu. He sets out accompanied by his Swiss acquaintance. The journey is made in two days and on horseback. Their route in the beginning lies across a small mountain-range, and then through a piece of thick woods bearing an evil reputation as the home of footpads. But the two pass through in safety, for the robbers are either asleep or absent from their haunts. Reaching the head-waters of the Yuqueri, which empties into the Canabe, a tributary of the Paraguay, they skirt the heights of Angostura, where Lopez, after the evacuation of Humaita, planted his batteries, and which he made his final strategic point. Near by, on the right bank of the Canabe, is the field of Las Lomas Valentinas, where the Paraguayan president fought his last great battle. So far, the route had been through an almost unpeopled solitude. In the evening they reach Ibitimi, a village built, as are all the Paraguayan hamlets, in the shape of a [pg 654] square, with its little church in the centre. Here the ravages of war are painfully apparent. Many of the houses have gone to ruin, dismantled piecemeal by passers-by, their owners never having come back from the battlefield to reoccupy them. The surrounding country is charming, and, seated on one side, M. Forgues sketches a cart drawn by oxen which goes by slowly with the declining sun shining on its leather top. An eight-year-old boy of the village, whose attire is limited strictly to a necklace of black seeds, approaches him, looks over his shoulder, and reads aloud the word which he writes under his sketch: "Ibitimi." Returning from his little sketching excursion to where his companion is awaiting him, he observes that he has suddenly become an object of mingled curiosity and respect on the part of the villagers. The cause of this prominence is a mystery to him until he learns that during his absence his friend had spread the rumor that he is a civil engineer who has come to make a definite survey of the line of the Asuncion and Villa Rica Railroad, which, although it was completed only to Paraguari, was originally intended to extend to Villa Rica, taking Ibitimi in its route. Thus become a great man in the little community, M. Forgues is besought by the political chief of the village—a functionary who fulfills the duties of mayor—almost the only male adult in Ibitimi, to command his services. These services are pressed on him with so much warmth that he is fain to seek relief from this persecuting hospitality by announcing his desire to sleep that night under the canopy of heaven. Consequently, a bed of girths is carried out into the public square for his use, a sort of leather ticking is stretched on it, and he sleeps quietly with his face to the stars.


A long day's journey to Villa Rica lies before our traveler and his companion, and so they rise early while the moon is still brightly shining. They bid the friendly political chief farewell, and take their departure for Villa Rica. As they emerge from the village the moon silvers with its pure light the tops of the palms and of the bushes that line the road. Away from Ibitimi their course lies through a pretty forest, wherein the party is increased by the addition of two Paraguayans on horseback, one of them armed with a long sword, and of a Paraguayan woman, who rides her horse man-fashion. A few miles farther on they come to a vast marsh, a common feature of the topography of Paraguay, and one of the great drawbacks to travel in the country, for when the rains fall these marshes become dangerous and impassable, and the traveler is compelled to go miles out of his way to turn them before he can continue his journey. The lagoon which lies before them on this occasion, however, is empty, and they are thus saved the détour of more than ten leagues which they would be compelled to make if it were filled with water. The sun, dispersing the last vestige of the morning fog, rises in a clear blue sky, and this spectacle they witness from a slight eminence, in front of which extends an immense plain with its limit at the bank of the Tebicuari-mi, the waters of which shine like a mirror.

M. Forgues now begins to enter a stretch of wooded country in which the solitude of the day previous is replaced by a thickly-settled region, wherein are to be seen in quick succession a multitude of pretty ranchos nestled in the foliage. The day before, on the journey from Paraguari to Ibitimi, scarcely ten persons had been met with, but now they pass groups of men—the fact is more noticeable because of the rarity of men in Paraguay—and women. The men salute the party by removing their hats, and the women with a Buen dia ("Good-day"), uttered with a gracious smile. The whole of this forest is peopled like the environs of Paris. Rancho succeeds rancho at short distances apart, and each shelters under its blackened thatched roof many women and children, of whose number its small dimensions give no idea. In the towns the houses need to be large to protect their occupants from the heat, but in this forest the people live in the open air chiefly, entering their hovels only to sleep, be it during the day or the [pg 655] night. In strange contrast with the humble aspect of the houses is the heavy silver pitcher, weighing at least two pounds, from which M. Forgues is given to drink by the owner of one of the huts of whom he has asked water.


Leaving these cheerful forest-homes behind him, our traveler fords the Tebicuari-mi, which rises in the cordillera where are gathered the [pg 656] yerba-leaves from which is made the maté. The water at Paso de Itape, as the ford is called, is shallow enough to permit the party to walk their horses through it, although usually the passage is made on the flat-boat and the two long canoes which are tied to the bank near [pg 657] by. The ford derives its name from the village of Itape, which lies a short distance beyond—a pleasant, prosperous hamlet with cultivated lands surrounding it, and built in a square, with its church and its bell-tower in the centre. The space at the entrance of the sacred edifice is covered with sweet, fine grass, and contented-looking oxen [pg 658] and horses browse at the foot of the wall.


It is the breakfast-hour, and M. Forgues and his companion stop in front of the first house they reach as they enter the village and utter the traditional Ave Maria, thus requesting the hospitality of the owner. In response, from the shadow of the verandah in which he is seated comes a tall, superb-looking, bearded man, who replies, "Sin peccado concebida" ("conceived without sin"), which indicates that the hospitality asked for is granted. When the Paraguayan gives this response to the invocation of the traveler, the latter may consider himself at home; and so is it on this occasion with M. Forgues. His host proves to have been one of that body of the Paraguayan army, eight or ten thousand strong, which, besieged by the Brazilians in the town of Uruguayana in 1865, at the very beginning of the war, became prisoners when the town was surrendered. They fared far better than their unfortunate fellow-soldiers, for, sent to Brazil, they remained there four years before they were exchanged. In addition to this, they returned to their own country more instructed and more civilized than when they left it. It is to this long relief from the perils of battle, by which the troops drawn from the department of Itape were so generally spared the fate that overtook their comrades in the field, that are due the evident prosperity and the large male adult population of the district, as M. Forgues observed it. His host of the rancho is as gracious in manners and as affable as it is possible to be, and serves up for breakfast a soup of Indian corn, a chicken fricasee and some delicious bread of crusty chipa—a frugal meal assuredly, and one entirely out of keeping with the richness of the service of silver plate which burdens the table, and which, worth fully two thousand francs, includes three large plates, an enormous dish and several massive mugs. The spoons and the forks, however, are of more modest material, for the former are made of horn and the latter of iron.


After a brief siesta M. Forgues and his companion resume their journey toward Villa Rica. Under a shed on the roadside they see a dozen women, all talking at the same time, and engaged in grating manioc-roots in pails of water. The mixture thus obtained composes the dough of manioc. This dough is very white, and is made into small balls which are pressed between the hands—an operation which, when completed, constitutes the entire process of making a coarse kind of bread, not at all of delicate flavor, called galetta, which is furnished to laborers of both sexes. Under another shed a young girl with a complexion like bronze is seated before a loom weaving, with a light and elegant shuttle, a hammock out of the cotton thread of the country.

[pg 659]
M. Forgues

Evening is about deepening into night when M. Forgues arrives at Villa Rica. His host in the town, a prosperous shopkeeper, invites him to dinner, and at the table he meets the mistress of the house, a tall, handsome Paraguayan woman, who receives him and his fellow-traveler with polished courtesy. She belongs to the class of the posterity of the old Spanish colonists. She is dressed in a long calico dress with a white train, and with a row of small red buttons down the front. The sleeves have deep cuffs, also fastened with small buttons. A wide, turned-down collar partly covers the shoulders, and exposes to the sight the lower part of a very shapely neck. In the course of conversation this lady informs M. Forgues that the department of Villa Rica is perhaps the only part of the country which may give an idea of what Paraguay was before the war. The men, it is true, were killed off, as were the men of the other departments, but by a happy chance the women and children were spared that terrible flight to the Cordilleras whereby thousands of their sex and age perished. His hostess relates to him her experiences during that fearful period. After the occupation of Asuncion by the Brazilians, and their advance as far as Paraguari, Lopez gave the order that Villa Rica should be abandoned and that the population should follow him to the mountains. [pg 660] As it happened, however, the commanding officer of the two hundred men who constituted the Paraguayan force at Villa Rica just about that time committed some breach of discipline, for which he was arrested by order of Lopez and sent to another point to be tried and shot. Coincidently with this his detachment suddenly fell back, leaving word with the inhabitants to quit the town within twenty-four hours or take the consequences of disobedience. Despair and terror prevailed among the people, and while they were hesitating as to what course to pursue, before the twenty-four hours of grace had expired news came to them that the Brazilians had reached Ibitimi in the pursuit. Then the whole population fled in the night to the Brazilians for protection, traveling until morning to Ibitimi, twelve leagues distant.

The Guayrinos, as the inhabitants of Villa Rica are called, are industrious, amiable and temperate. They possess great independence of character, and speak somewhat contemptuously of the submissiveness of the rest of Paraguay to the slightest caprice of the dictators who have successively ruled the country. Foreigners meet with a cordial welcome from them, and are often voluntarily selected by them to be the godfathers of their children. The Guayrinos are, moreover, a contented community, and are disposed to congratulate themselves on the fact that they are spared the presence of the adventurers and cut-throats of the class that infests Asuncion and Paraguari. The women are very devout, and on Sundays the church is filled with worshipers of the female sex, while the men are possibly engaged in attending a cock-fight. Apropos of the religious fervor of the Paraguayan women, M. Forgues relates that there is not a single house in Paraguay occupied by natives which does not possess its two penates in the shape of wooden images of a saint, which are kept enclosed in a glass box and are the objects of incessant devotion. This box stands on a small table which serves as a sort of altar, and is placed in a certain corner of the hut, sacred for that reason from all other use. From time to time the family, with a pious inspiration on them, walk abroad in the village carrying the box with them. Then all the neighbors, observing this, issue from their houses and follow the bearers of the box. Family and escort chant while marching, and everybody uncovers as the little procession passes. After a while the transient ceremony is over, the box is brought back to its accustomed corner, the neighbors disperse and quiet resumes its sway in the hovel.

The department of Villa Rica produces excellent cotton, which is cultivated, however, only in infinitesimal quantities. Indigo, called by the natives añil, grows wild. The tobacco of the district is especially renowned, and in the Cordillera, the tops of which compose the background of the beautiful region lying to the east of the town, maté is grown successfully. The very name of the Cordillera of Caaguazu bears testimony to the abundance of the yerba, caa meaning maté in the Guaranian language, and guazu, "great" or "much." As seen from the elevation on which Villa Rica stands, this mountain-range, twelve leagues distant, stretches along the horizon an undulating mass of blue. The intervening space nearer the town is filled with beautiful forests, while beyond are vast plains, the monotony of which is broken by lagoons and clumps of palms. The population of the region around Villa Rica is estimated at fifteen thousand. There are good opportunities here for immigrants, for Nature, like a fruitful mother, holds ample treasures in her bosom, which need only a little well-directed labor to bring the tiller of the soil his reward. Laborers receive a sum equal to about twenty cents of our money for a day's work, and carpenters about fifty cents. Food of coarse quality, however, is supplied by the employer.

Owing to the decrease in the population—which, as before stated, is composed almost altogether of women and children—and the simple life of the people, the importations into Paraguay are limited to a few articles. Of these products of foreign industry, the observer may see [pg 661] exposed for sale in the shops coarse cotton goods and hardware of an inferior quality, both manufactured in England; boots and shoes, the former of which are worn chiefly, of Buenos Ayres make; and ready-made garments of linen and poor cloths. The imported liquors and articles of food are principally a small quantity of sugar, lard, wine of an execrable quality, and Hamburg gin, together with a few boxes of candles and some oil and soap. To this list of imports must be added the inevitable Chinese fire-crackers, without which noisy accessories no Paraguayan holiday would be complete. Throughout South America a passion for fire-crackers and fireworks prevails; and as an example of this mania, M. Forgues relates that when the Argentine troops were on their return to Buenos Ayres after the close of the war, great preparations were made by the authorities to greet them on their arrival at three o'clock in the afternoon with a great display of fireworks. There was a delay in the coming of the troops, however, and so, to satisfy the people, the fireworks were let off a half hour [pg 662] after the appointed time, although the soldiers had not yet made their appearance. Still the troops delayed, and the populace, satiated with pageantry, retired to their homes and to bed. About eleven o'clock at night a tumult of trumpets, cymbals and drums was heard in the dark and deserted streets: it was the army, which, landed at last, was making a solemn entry into the city, with nobody on the sidewalks to admire it. The timely—or perhaps untimely—fireworks had appeased the desire for show, and the spectacle of the marching soldiers was only of secondary importance in a celebration that included skyrockets and Roman candles. Yerba is the principal article exported, and as the use of maté is so general on the continent, this trade is a very important branch of industry. In addition to these leaves, a small quantity of tobacco, a few hides, hard woods and demijohns of a primitive kind of rum constitute the exportations of a country in which cotton and indigo grow wild, and where sugar and rice could be made to yield large revenues.


The lack of money and of banking facilities in Paraguay has made the process of buying and selling, in reality, but not professedly, a matter of exchange of commodities. For instance, a shopkeeper will barter his imported cotton stuffs, his demijohns of wine, his candles, etc. for the tobacco grown by the natives. The merchants also endeavor to buy as much tobacco as possible, when the crop is first in, for specie. Usually, large profits are derived from this course, as the planters have pretty well exhausted their receipts for the crop of the previous year, and hence are disposed at that time to sell at a sacrifice. The money thus obtained returns to the merchant in the usual way of business, and thus the latter is enabled to buy more tobacco. The result is, that in the end the merchant gets the planter's cash as well as his tobacco. It is a curious fact, however, that the Paraguayans do not admit the principle of exchange. They must touch the value of their wares in the shape of coin before parting with them. Thus, no woman of the country will exchange outright a quantity of yerba, large or small, or any product of her industry, for cotton or thread. She will first insist on holding in her hand, even if it be for a moment, the price in silver of her wares, and with this money she will pay for what she obtains from the merchant.

During his sojourn in Villa Rica, M. Forgues purchases a house there, to the great gratification of the community, who, in the simplicity of their hearts, see in him the pioneer of European immigration, the influential capitalist who is to introduce foreign money among them. Attentions are showered on him. The political chief of the town invites him to a twelve-o'clock breakfast to meet the notabilities of the place. A salvo of firecrackers at noon announces that the chief is prepared to welcome his friends, and the invited guests, male and female, hasten to the prefecture. Before entering the banquet-hall the guests, as they arrive, take seats in wooden chairs in a large ball-room which adjoins it, receiving as they do so, from the hands of the host, a glass of caña. The breakfast-table is decked with flowers, and under it grunts and roots about among the feet of the guests a very tame tapir as large as a decently-sized pig. The hard and dry Spanish wine used at the entertainment is drunk out of large beer-glasses. The mistress of the house and the officers of the Paraguayan guard that composes the political chief's escort act as waiters. After many toasts have been offered and honored, M. Forgues, mustering up his few words of Spanish-Guaranian, drinks to the health of the pretty girls of Villa Rica amid the enthusiastic hurrahs of the guests, one of whom, with exclamations of Bueno! bravo! and the like, leaves his seat to scatter flowers over our traveler's head, wishing him at the same time every prosperity. At this moment a bass drum and a clarionet intervene in the clamor with a delicious French melody, "Ah! zut alors si Nadar est malade!" and the company retire to the ball-room to dance, and also, women as well as men, to smoke immense cigars.

Yakaguazu, a large square village near Villa Rica, is visited by M. [pg 663] Forgues. It contains eighty or ninety houses, and a church which is the counterpart of that at Itape. There is a school in the place attended by one hundred and twenty-five pupils, who secure a patriotic but limited education with nothing in the way of a printed text-book but a lot of surplus copies of the constitution of Paraguay. Their teacher informs M. Forgues that of the three hundred and sixty-five school-children in his district, three hundred are orphans.


Continuing his journey the next day, with his host of Yakaguazu added to the party, M. Forgues reaches the dwelling of an old and very rich Paraguayan, Vicente Fleytas, whose farm, happily spared the ravages of war, is a fair sample of what the farms of the country were in the days of Lopez. Fleytas lives in patriarchal style, and he entertains his visitors most hospitably. At night, seated under the verandah, they smoke, or eat delicious oranges which the wife and daughters of old Vicente peel in a large silver dish, and the hours of sleep are passed in hammocks, the doors of the house having first been closed carefully to keep out any wandering jaguars that may be prowling around. In regard to these fierce animals, M. Forgues says that [pg 664] enough of them are to be met with in the forests of Paraguay to affright the bravest man, but it is more difficult to avoid them than to see them. They are sometimes caught in traps resembling enormous rat-traps and baited with raw meat. The skin of the jaguar sells for eight dollars, and consequently the man who is so lucky as to catch one in his trap rejoices greatly. The next night a ball is given at the patriarch's in honor of our traveler. During the day they ride around the neighborhood and personally invite to the entertainment the guests to the number of seventy-four, of whom seventy are young women, some of them very handsome. The music is of the modest kind that might be expected from a clarionet and a guitar. The majority of the participants come to the house with their chairs on their heads. The dances are the polka, the waltz, quadrilles, including the Lancers, and two or three native dances called La Polomila, the Dondon Karapé and La Santa Fé, which are accompanied with graceful poses, while the women, as they dance, snap their fingers in imitation of castanets. While the dance is in progress the good and hospitable Vicente remains outside to fire off his gun at intervals with the view of frightening away the jaguars, one of these animals having been killed only eight days before in the very room wherein the revelers are enjoying themselves. Before taking leave of the brave Fleytas, M. Forgues is regaled with several jaguar stories which doubtless admirably prepare him for the remainder of his journey through forest and jungle.

The next morning he bids the patriarch farewell. On the women and children of the family, grouped in front of the house, he bestows a benediction with the utterance of a "Peace be with you!" Then with his Swiss acquaintance he rides away, to return not to Villa Rica, but to Paraguari, on his way to Asuncion. His course lies nearly due west, and for six leagues he rides through a beautiful country, but on a road so muddy that the horses sink up to the saddle-girths. He tarries for dinner at the estancia of another Paraguayan, Don Matias Ramirez—not as rich a man, but as hospitable a host, as Don Vicente—who spreads before his guests for dinner a simple repast of boiled turnips and small manioc doughnuts. But before reaching the estancia our traveler has had the good fortune to shoot three large birds of the pheasant variety called mutus, and thus the humble board of Don Matias is graced with meat, a rare commodity in those parts.

After a short siesta—as much an institution in Paraguay as dinner itself—M. Forgues pushes forward, furnished with a youthful guide mounted on a mule whom Don Matias has bidden accompany him. For six hours the route lies through a virgin forest composed of orange, cedar and other trees, mingled with dense thorny thickets, trunks of decayed trees and a twisted network of climbers. The passage through this forest is attended with many vexatious incidents, owing to the difficulty experienced in making a way through the undergrowth and thickly-growing climbers. After having his spectacles, his maps, his gun and his hat jerked from him, M. Forgues himself is pulled from his horse. The horses are attacked by a multitude of small yellow flies, which sting them unmercifully in the nostrils, the ears and in whatever part of their bodies the animals cannot reach with their tails, so that, maddened with pain, they break into a fierce gallop to avoid the pest, carrying their riders in their course along the edge of a hole in the ground in which swarms about a bushel of small snakes of a bright green color. When the party finally emerge from this beautiful but inhospitable forest, their clothes are hanging in rags about their persons, and their faces and hands are covered with scratches caused by the thorns.

Their next troublesome experience, although not so long continued, is almost as exhausting, for when the forest is left behind they enter on a marshy waste, through which they are compelled to ride for two hours. Finally, worn out with fatigue, hunger and thirst, they arrive at an estancia, where sleeping accommodations are offered them in the shape [pg 665] of the under side of a cart, nourishment in the shape of fire wherewith to cook a mutus, and assistance comes in the persons of two servants, whose service consists in aiding M. Forgues and his companion to devour, without thanks, salt or manioc, the frugal supper. After that, "Good-night to you!" At daybreak our traveler takes his departure from his churlish—or, it may be, hungry—entertainers, tending in the direction of the foundry of Ibicuy, where in the days of Lopez was smelted the iron ore of San Miguel. Before the war this foundry was a small model establishment with a handsome tile-covered roof, and was thoroughly equipped for the purpose to which it was devoted. All the machinery was destroyed by the Brazilians, and the foundry was left a wreck. Near by is the estancia of Margarita Rivarola, where our traveler and his companion stop to breakfast. Margarita is a poor widow with a beautiful daughter. She is a cousin of a former president of the republic, but so destitute did M. Forgues find her that she and her daughter led an existence bordering on starvation. As in the case of his entertainment at the dwelling of Don Matias, he fortunately brings his breakfast with him. He had killed that morning an ara, a beautiful bird, but not so pleasant to the taste, and this constitutes the meal.

Leaving this spot, and traveling five leagues farther in the direction of Paraguari, M. Forgues and his companion reach the village of Mbuyapey at eight o'clock at night. Here they meet with an adventure. As they enter the village three men, composing the guard of the place and armed with rusty pikes of the Lopez period, challenge them and order them to halt. An interview is held in the darkness, and after a thousand explanations they are permitted to pass. Early next morning they are aroused from sleep by a tumult at their window. Through the grating a number of boys are glaring in on them, capering and uttering a variety of ejaculations. The secret of this popular demonstration is soon explained, for almost at the same moment the door is opened abruptly and the magistrate of the place makes his appearance, asking in Spanish to see their passports and the passports of their horses. The dispute thickens. Finally, M. Forgues, toying with his revolver, proclaims that he and his companion are Frenchmen, and not Paraguayans, that no passports are necessary to travel in the country, and that they cannot be interfered with with impunity. At this a change comes over the magistrate. He begs a thousand pardons, and justifies his course as being merely in the interest of good order, while declaring his belief in the entire respectability of our traveler and his friend. Even in this solitary and almost deserted village a school flourishes (and here it may be remarked in passing that so diffused is public instruction in Paraguay that it is a rare thing to meet with a Paraguayan who cannot sign his name), and when M. Forgues and his companion ride away they are followed by the benign smiles of the magistrate and the bewildered looks of the scholars.

In this departure from the retired hamlet of Mbuyapey our traveler falls into the great highway that passes through the Missiones between Asuncion and Encarnacion on the Parana, in the south-eastern corner of Paraguay. It includes in its extent the towns and villages of Jesus, Yuti, Ibicuy, Quindi, Carapegua and Paraguari. The road presents a busy scene, for it is along this route that the troperos drive their herds of cattle obtained from the Argentine province of Corrientes, on the other side of the Parana. These drovers are free livers, and they spend their money lavishly in the villages. The aspect of the Missiones differs from the part of Paraguay lying to the north of it, as the names of the villages in the province differ from the nomenclature elsewhere. Pampas covered with water prevail, for the country south of the Tebicuari is generally marshy, and during a part of the year is transformed into a lake. Throughout this region decay and ruin have set their seal on what was formerly one of the most [pg 666] prosperous parts of the republic. Orange trees grow in wild profusion on the spots where once stood farm-houses, while mud ranchos, tenanted by a few old women who sustain life with oranges and manioc, here and there disturb the monotony of desolation. The early Jesuits have left their traces in their churches, college squares now empty, and houses gone to wreck, while their labors in the cause of religion and civilization are recalled in the names of saints borne by the villages. At Carapegua, which owes what importance it possesses to its proximity to Paraguari and the railroad, our traveler once more finds himself amid the products of civilization, for on the shelves of the grocery stores are displayed, among other wares, cans of preserved fruits and meats from Europe.

From Carapegua, M. Forgues journeys to Paraguari, a day's ride. Eight days later he is in Asuncion, and ready to take passage on the Republica for Buenos Ayres. "From the preceding extracts," he writes, "a very exact idea may be formed of a journey in the interior of Paraguay at the present time. How to procure a piece of bread is a matter of serious moment: riding on horseback fifteen leagues at a stretch, or threatening to blow out somebody's brains, is, as it were, a matter of daily occurrence. What is seen and done there is often monstrous compared with our European customs, and yet is not even shocking there where it is seen and done."

The political future of the country is still an unsolved problem. The rule of the dictators, which the allied powers specifically covenanted among themselves to destroy, has ended, probably for ever. When the war closed with the death of Lopez, chaos prevailed in Paraguay, and the people were both bankrupt in fortune and degraded in morals. The reign of outlaws commenced, and it was dangerous to go beyond Asuncion and into the interior. But the Brazilians and the Argentines occupied the capital with a force strong enough to maintain order, and to convince the Paraguayans that their rule must be respected. To-day Paraguay possesses only a nominal independence. She has her president, and he has his cabinet, who hold their offices under the constitution of the republic; but from the glimpse that M. Forgues has given us of the submissive spirit of these officials, it is clear that they themselves feel that they govern only by the sufferance of their conquerors. The policy of Dom Pedro's government is to intervene Paraguay between Brazil and the Argentine Confederation in order to prevent a clashing of interests between his empire and its late ally. In the mean time, Paraguay is loaded with heavy debts, contracted under Brazilian auspices since the war, in the shape of loans and obligations which must weigh her down for a long time. To illustrate the attitude of Brazil toward the conquered state one incident, and a recent one, will suffice. In the autumn of 1874 the boundary commission, composed of Brazilian and Paraguayan officers, set out for the final survey of the new boundary-line between Paraguay and Brazil. The commission had been engaged on this duty for two years, and last November it brought its work to a close. The line fixed by the Brazilians follows the Apa River from its junction with the Paraguay to its source, and thence extends along the summit of the cordillera to the falls of the Parana—the Salto de la Guayra of the Paraguayans and the Siete Quedas of the Brazilians. The Brazilian commissioners took advantage of the fact that the Apa River has two forks, and chose the south fork as the boundary. This selection added a few hundred square miles to the territory of the Brazilian province of Matto Grosso, but, in spite of the protests and objections of Paraguay, the boundary treaty has been made on the basis of the Brazilian idea of what is right between the two governments. The liberty of opinion accorded to Paraguay by Brazil is merely the liberty which a cat grants to a captive mouse, to run about within reach of its sheathed claws.

[pg 667]


One afternoon, some years ago, I was walking along a narrow old road which leads from Le Crotay, a fishing-village in Picardy, to the town of St. Valéry-sur-Somme. It was in the month of February, and one of those luckless days on which cold, wind and rain all seem banded in league against the comfort of mankind: the sky, dull and lowering, presented to the eye nothing but a bleak, cheerless desert of gray, relieved only by troops of dark, inky clouds, which would at moments, as though flying the fury of a raging storm, roll pell-mell through the air like an army in rout, pouring down at the same time through the thick, black fog that covered land and sea like a pall a deluge of cold, heavy water, which occasional blasts of a violent north-west wind would lash into whistling, pelting and drenching gusts. It was wretched weather; and how I came to be out in it I am sure I forget; but perhaps it was that the morning had been a bright one, and that, beguiled by the clear winter sun, which threw its will-o'-the-wisp rays on my table like gold-edged invitation cards to be stirring, I had set out joyously in hopes of a good bracing walk on the hard, frost-dried roads, which, seen from my windows, gleamed smooth and glistening as white marble, or, again, in expectation of a gay stroll through the crisp, clean snow which draped the fields with its downy folds and reflected the morning light in opal tints like the glossy satin of a wedding-dress.

But in any case, and whatever may have been my reasons for so doing, certain it is that about noon I had ventured out; and equally so that some two hours after I had good reasons to regret my presumption, for at three, having already wandered far from home, I found myself tramping on the road I have named, wearily plodding my way through a slough of thawing snow, teeth chattering, eyes watering and fingers numbed, whilst a wind fit to dethrone all the weather-cocks in Christendom was ploughing up the earth in showers of mud around me, blowing my hat off my head and howling in my ears like a maniac who has broken his chains and got loose.

I groaned pitifully amidst all this: in the first place, because I had no umbrella; and in the second, because I had no companion to be drenched through with me; for it is a curious fact, and one aptly illustrative of the happy way in which man is constituted, that, whereas I should most certainly have scrupled to ask a dog out on such a day, yet I should have felt the most pleasurable relief in seeing a fellow-being soaked like a towel in my company. The fact is, man is a sociable animal, and, loving to share his emotions with his neighbors, steps into a puddle with a lighter heart when a bosom friend is being wetted to the skin by his side.

Lacking a partner, however, I trudged on alone, plish-plash-plosh, through the clayey sludge, cold, dripping and miserable, stopping occasionally to turn my back to the wind or to tie up a wayward shoestring, and pondering dolefully in my mind that I had full two hours to go, not only before reaching home, but perhaps before finding a shelter of any kind. I think I must have been walking thus three-quarters of an hour when I suddenly heard the music of two pairs of hobnailed boots splashing in the dirt behind me, and forming between them a symphony, the charms of which those only who have been in the same predicament as I can appreciate. "Thank the Fates!" I murmured, and stopped to allow the comers to reach me, noting with a grim smile that they were covered with mud from top to toe, and as damp as a couple of Malvern hydropaths. Their plight was every whit as pitiable as mine; and although the rain had not abated its flow or the wind its strength, yet I almost felt as though it had grown fine again. Corroborative proof of the sociability of the human race.

[pg 668]

The two men who were stepping along the road in my direction, and reconciling me by their crestfallen demeanor with the inclemencies of the season, were peasants. The one was an old man, gray-haired, stooping, and apparently sixty years of age: the other, his son, as I afterward found out, was a mere youth of, at the most, twenty. They were strikingly alike in physiognomy, notwithstanding the difference in their years, but neither had anything at all remarkable either in his looks or general appearance: both were small, clumsy-limbed, somewhat simple-faced, rather ugly; and on the whole they were a very commonplace, every-day-to-be-seen pair of countrymen.

Both mechanically raised their rusty beaver hats as they approached me; but after wishing me a short "Good-evening" continued, much to my surprise and no less to my disappointment, to walk on without taking the slightest notice of me, or, indeed, seeming to remember that I existed; and this although I stepped by their side and tried to keep pace with them.

"This is poor weather," I observed, in hopes of starting a conversation with my fellow-wayfarers.

"Yes, sir," was the curt reply, and both relapsed again into silence, receiving in monosyllables or with simple shrugs of the shoulders every attempt of mine—and I made many—to renew an intercourse.

As such uncivil taciturnity is very rare amongst Frenchmen, I began to examine my companions with more attention than I had hitherto done, in order to discover, if I could, some clue to their strange behavior. I scanned them curiously, and it was then I noticed for the first time that their faces wore a look of the most profound dejection—so profound indeed that I wondered how it was that I had not observed it at once upon seeing them. Their features were pale and drawn; their eyes, rimmed with black, were cast moodily on the ground, and their heads, hanging heavily upon their chests, had, seemingly, a weighty load of sorrow to press them down.

Besides this, their gait was uneven, undecided, I might almost say spasmodical: they did not keep step, although close side by side, for now one and now the other, as though goaded by a troublesome thought which he wished to avoid, would of a sudden quicken his pace and break into a hasty, feverish walk, or, contrarily, as though held back by the chain of some unhappy reflection, lag in his stride and draw his hand across his brow with a gesture of pain.

Each seemed so wrapped in the gloom of his own musings as to be unconscious of all around him, and I began to feel angry with myself for having intruded upon the privacy of this grief with my idle and silly chattering. A feeling of remorse, too, sprang up in me as I remembered that for a moment I had accused these poor people of churlishness and set down the sensitiveness of their sorrow to a sulky rudeness. There must be something very revolting to the feeling of our better nature in the sense of an injustice done even in thought, for I declare I felt for a minute as if I ought to confess my ideas to my companions and beg their pardon for having wronged them, though only in mind. "Who knows," I muttered, "what efforts it may have cost them to answer me with the composure they did? and am I sure that I myself, under similar circumstances, should have suffered with the same forbearance the company of a stranger, whose presence must have been both irksome and galling?"

Once it seemed to me that the two turned to gaze earnestly into each other's eyes and then to clasp their hands in a quick nervous grasp, as though each hoped, by so doing, to take from the other a part of the sorrow they appeared to share in common. Neither spoke, however, but the mute sympathetic touch was doubtless more eloquent than words. Once again both stopped, at once and together, as if their minds, acting in unison and following the same strain, had arrived simultaneously at a point where rest and relief were needed. The old [pg 669] man placed his hand upon the boy's shoulder. "Courage, Henri!" he said, and hastily walked on.

Tears rose to my eyes, but how or why I can scarcely tell, unless it be indeed that grief is contagious, and that the angel who hovers over those who mourn cannot bear to see a heart indifferent: yes, tears started to my eyes, and pity with them. The features of the two peasants became transformed for me: they were no longer ugly and uninteresting: how could they be so, brightened by the halo with which sympathy crowned them?

"Have you far to go, sir?" suddenly asked the old man, breaking in abruptly upon the course of my reflections.

"About a league," I answered.

He made no reply, and we walked on again in silence, the rain continuing meanwhile to pour down in torrents, and the wind lashing itself by degrees into the fury of a hurricane.

After a few minutes we reached a spot where the road branched off in two directions: my path lay to the right. The wayfarers paused as though to take the left: both looked at me.

"This is no weather for such as you, sir, to be out in," said the elder considerately, but in the shy, hesitating tone usual to the poor when addressing those whom they fancy their betters. "If you go a league more in the plight in which you are, you will be in a sad state before reaching home;" and he pointed significantly to my clothes, every stitch of which was dripping with mud and water.

"Yes, indeed," I replied, "but what is to be done?"

"Why, sir," he answered, "two hundred yards or so from this I've a cottage, and if nothing else, I can at least offer you a fire to dry yourself at."

Certainly I was in good need of a shelter, for I was tired as well as cold and wet, but still I am sure that I should have refused this invitation from the fear that it had been made out of mere courtesy, and that my acceptance of it might, in fact, be unwelcome. A few words spoken by the younger man convinced me, however, of the contrary.

"Yes, sir," said he, "come;" and he added in a low voice to the other, "it will do mother good to have a visitor to divert her this evening. She will fret less."

"Thank you, then," I assented, moved now by a feeling of painful curiosity; and we all three marched on.

A few minutes' walk brought us in sight of a small one-storied cottage, built with flintstones, and standing isolated near a tilled field of about two acres: before it stood a small kitchen-garden, and at one end of it an open shed half filled with firewood. A thin wreath of blue smoke curling through its single chimney gave to the house, thanks to the desolate appearance of all the country around, an attractive look which on a finer day it might not have possessed.

"That's my home," exclaimed the old man, but as we approached it I noticed that both he and Henri slackened their pace and seemed to dread advancing: at last both stopped and began to whisper. They were evidently much moved, and the fear that I might be in their way occurring to me again, I told them of it, and expressed a hope that I was not intruding.

"No, no, sir," cried they together, turning their poor sorrow-thinned faces toward me, as though they had interpreted my words as a reproach. "No, no, sir, we are very glad to see you;" and they led the way to their cottage door. Here, however, they paused again, and looked dismally at me. Their emotion, too long pent up, was mastering them. "The fact is, sir," said the old man, trying, but in vain, to smile as he saw my eyes fixed upon him—"The fact is, sir, we have not been quite hap—py, not quite hap—py, to—day—sir;" and he looked at me apologetically, as though his grief had been a fault to him, whilst two big tears, for a time kept in by an effort, rolled stealthily down his cheeks.

I am but a poor comforter even at the best of moments, but in this instance, not knowing upon what chord to touch, my speaking could be of very little avail; nevertheless, I hazarded a few consolatory [pg 670] words, such as we always have at hand to exhort sufferers to bear their ills with patience and look beyond the cloud surrounding them to hopes of better things; but I am afraid all I said was very meaningless, for the affliction of which I had been the witness, without knowing its cause, having in a manner impregnated my own heart, I was too much in need of comfort myself to be able to impart any to others. The two men thanked me, however, artlessly, naïvely, and seemed about to initiate me into the secret of their distress, when the cottage door by which we were standing opened, and a woman with an anxious, inquiring expression on her face came out to meet us. She was old, being perhaps fifty-five years of age, but Time had dealt less harshly with her features than Grief, and the wrinkles which furrowed her cheeks and contracted her forehead into thin, shriveled folds showed less the footprints of departed seasons than the marks of that hard iron hand of Sorrow whose least touches sear more surely than fire. Her hair was white as spun-glass, and neatly confined under one of those high Norman caps of which the long starched frills, encircling the face, lend a cold, severe expression to the wearer: her gait was stooping, her steps feeble, and her whole appearance denoted lassitude and weakness. She was, as I guessed, the wife of the elder and the mother of the younger of my companions; and the glance she threw at these when she saw them told as plainly as the language of a wife's and mother's eyes can tell what a large and willing share she claimed of all their trials. As she appeared her husband hastily turned his face from her to dry his tears and to assume with a loving, simple hypocrisy a cheerful countenance, with which he fondly hoped to hide the trouble of his heart. "Madeleine," he said in a voice which, poor man! he meant to be gay—"Madeleine, I bring you a stranger very cold, very wet, and, I've no doubt, very hungry. You must try to—" but here he stopped short: his wife's eyes were fixed upon him with a look of quiet reproach.

"François," she asked in a low, slightly tremulous tone, "you have some news to give me?" and at the same time she glanced from him to her son. A moment's silence followed. Henri and his father exchanged a timid look, but before either had spoken the wife had thrown herself into her husband's arms: what need had she of an answer—she, who for years had been used to read every thought, every wish, every feeling of those she loved, long ere they gave expression to them?

I shall never forget that scene—father, mother and son clasped in each other's embrace, and giving free course to their grief in tears of which each tried to stop the flow from the other's eyes, forgetful of the bitter stream which ran from his own; each striving to find in his heart a word of comfort for the other, and each seeking in vain a like word for himself.

"We must hope," faltered the old man.

"Yes, mother," echoed Henri, "we must hope."

"Ay, my poor boy," said Madeleine, "hope, hope!—in God!" and she pointed upward.

This was the story of the poor family: François Derblay was a peasant, born and brought up in Picardy, and the son of poor parents, who, at dying, had left him little to add to what Nature had given him—a pair of strong arms and a sound, honest mind. With this fortune François had begun early to till the fields, and by the age of twenty-five had laid by a little store sufficient to marry on. His choice had been happy, and Madeleine, although poor and untaught, had been a good and loving wife to him. By her thrift and his own hard work his little store quickly increased, and within a few years Derblay reached the goal to which all poor Frenchmen so ardently aspire—the position of a landowner. He had bought himself a few acres of ground, and their produce was sufficient not only to feed his family, but also to enable him to lay by each year a little sum wherewith to enlarge his property. For some time, prosperous in all his undertakings, François was really happy, and at the age of forty could reasonably look [pg 671] forward to passing a quiet, comfortable old age; but, as so often occurs in life, at the very moment when the man deemed himself most secure in his ease, misfortunes began to rain upon him. Dazzled by the accounts of some successful ventures made by neighbors, Derblay began to dream of doubling his capital by speculation, and accordingly invested the two or three thousand francs of his savings in shares which were to bring him fifteen per cent., but which ultimately left him without a sixpence. To make matters worse, his land was bought by a railway company, and this sale, by placing in his hands a round sum of ready money, prompted him with the delusive hope of regaining his losses: he speculated again, and this time as unhappily as the first, swamping all his funds in some worthless enterprise, which on the strength of its prospectus he had believed "safe as the Bank of France." To fill the cup of his sorrows to the brim, four of his five children were carried off by illness, the only one spared being Henri, the youngest. At forty-eight, François and his wife, but five years younger than himself, were thus obliged to begin life again, poorer than at first, for they had no longer youth, as when they married. They were not disheartened, however: they had their boy to live for, and set to work so bravely that after ten years' struggle they found themselves owners of the cottage and field I have described. Still, they were not happy, for a painful anticipation was constantly dwelling on their minds and souring every moment of their existence. Henri, their only boy, had reached his twentieth year, and the time had come when he must "draw for the conscription;" that is, stake upon the chances of a lottery-ticket the seven best years of his own life and all the happiness of theirs. This thought it was which, like a heavy storm-cloud, was day and night hanging over their peace, and throwing them into a tremor of doubt and sickening anxiety that made them watch the flight of each hour which brought them nearer to the minute they dreaded with aching, panting hearts. How should they bear it, how could they bear it, if their loved boy, their one child, upon whom all their affections and all their hopes were centred, was enrolled and taken rudely from them against his will, as against theirs, to be a soldier? How could they support this cruel bereavement at an age when, life having lost all its sweets for them, they lived but in the happiness and in the presence of their boy, and, like weak plants drooping toward the earth, were kept from falling only by the young and vigorous prop beside them?

Had it come to this, that after all the projects, all the vows, all the prayers, all the charming aspirations made for the one hope of their declining years, the simple hazard of a figured paper was to be called upon to realize the dreams of their lives or to blast all their cherished schemes in a moment? to decide whether they should be happy or eternally afflicted, or, in short, whether they should continue to live or hasten quickly to their graves; for a seven years' separation would be an eternity to them, and how could they expect to drag themselves through it?

They were sad moments, those in which the parents asked themselves these questions, looking woefully before them, and neglecting the happiness they might enjoy in the present to mourn over its possible loss in the future; counting the hours as they raced by, and turning pale at the risks their son was to face, as though his hand were already in the urn and his fingers grasping the little ticket upon which was inscribed his destiny.

Ah, how often had they seen it in their dreams, that dreadful mahogany cylinder turning lazily upon its pivot and rolling in its womb, along with that of a hundred others, the fate of all that was dear to them on earth! How often, too, had their poor brains, racked and fired by doubt, fear and anguish, followed their child as he stood beside it, and grown dizzy as they watched him plunge his hand through its lid and tear open the little white slip which might be his sentence of slavery, his order of exile, or—O God! who knows?—his death-warrant!

[pg 672]

One night the father and mother had started up in their sleep together: they had dreamt that all was over: giddy with terror, they had rushed into Henri's room. Thank Heaven! he was still there, and asleep: they knelt by his bed and wept.

"Mother," he said on awaking, "I've been dreaming that they had taken me."

Another night Madeleine saw herself in a field somewhere. All around and before her were soldiers; by them stood lines of cannon; here and there were horses, and by the light of a few bivouac-fires she perceived some bleeding heaps of dead. Of a sudden she stumbled: a corpse was barring her way. She stooped over it: it was her boy!

Once again she fancied herself seated by her cottage door: the sun was setting, and down the small road which led to the house galloped an orderly, a dragoon, covered with dust. "Are you Madeleine Derblay?" he asked.—"Yes."—He drew from his sack a letter sealed with black. "Madame," he said, "your son has died for his country, but he has gained this on the field of battle;" and he handed her the cross of the Legion of Honor. "Give me back my child!" she had shrieked: "take away your reward! Give me back my child! I won't sell him for that cross."

And Henri the while? His heart was as heavy as that of his parents, for he well knew that the day which doomed him to a seven years' absence would also condemn him to orphanhood. His father and mother were too aged by sorrow to be able to abide his return: they would soon die; and if not, who would be there to tend them, to earn them bread, to find them the comforts which their old arms were unfit to earn by themselves? These reflections were terrible; and besides, to make his pain more torturing, he was in love. A young girl of his own age had been destined for him by his parents and by hers, and she was to become his wife at once if—if—and ever uppermost to cloud all his prospects came that fatal if—if he should draw a lucky number at the conscription. But what if he should not? How could he ask her to wait for him seven years? or how, indeed, could he expect that her friends would allow her to do so? They were poor people, as he knew, and it was but natural that they should wish to see their daughter speedily settled. This thought filled the unhappy boy with despair; and as the twentieth of February, the day appointed for the conscription, approached, he was almost beside himself with anxiety. For a long while his father and his mother, trusting to their arms and their economy, had lived in the hope of being able to buy him off. Two thousand three hundred francs were needed to do this, and neither hard work, self-denial nor thrift had been spared to collect the money; but it was a large sum, and notwithstanding all the hard toil of father and son, and all the frugality of the mother, they had not been able in five years' time to collect more than two-thirds of it. An accident had then happened to them: Madeleine, whose love, deep and boundless as Heaven, had pushed her to pinch and stint herself almost to starvation in order to save, had fallen ill under her efforts, and her life had only been saved after a three months' combat with death, during which doctor's fees, medicines and little comforts had swallowed up five hundred francs of what had been laid by. At the beginning of February there were, therefore, nearly fourteen hundred francs wanting to make up the amount needed.

In this emergency, François Derblay had thought of a person to whom he had once rendered a service of importance—a tradesman who lived in a neighboring town, who was known to be rich, and who had promised his benefactor in the first flush of his gratitude that if ever he could discharge the obligation under which he lay, he would do so at any cost and with the sincerest joy. Poor, guileless Derblay! measuring the words of others by the same simple and honest standard of truth by which he was used to mete his own sayings and promises, he innocently believed in the sterling worth of his debtor's assurance, and starting off to visit him with his son, naïvely asked the man to lend him the fourteen hundred francs he so much needed. Of course the worthy [pg 673] shopkeeper would have been, as he said, delighted to do so: day and night had he thought of his dear friend, and prayed Providence to send him an occasion of showing his gratitude. But why, alas! had not François come but half an hour before? He should then have had the sum, and double, treble the sum, had he pleased; whereas now—and dear! dear! what an unfortunate thing it was!—now it was completely out of his power to comply with the request, for he had just paid in to a creditor five thousand francs, "the last money he had or should have for some months." The good soul was grieved beyond expression, wept, and affectionately showed his visitors to the door.

It was on their return from this bootless errand the day previous to the drawing of the conscription that I had fallen in with the two peasants. They had cast their last die but one, and unsuccessfully: a single chance yet remained—that of drawing a lucky ticket—but on this they dared not even hope. Their match against Fortune they considered already lost, and told me so.

"No, no," I exclaimed in as cheering a tone as possible, "you must not despair, Monsieur Derblay: your son has as good a chance of drawing happily as any one else."

"Ay," answered the old man, "but few have a good chance at all this year;" and he then explained that owing to the Mexican expedition, there was a greater demand for soldiers than usual, and also that, by a strange fatality, the number of young men of age to draw—that is, of twenty—was smaller that year than usual. Some one hundred and ten only were to be chosen from, and of these about eighty would be conscripts.

"Well, well," I cried, "there will still be thirty winning numbers."

Henri shook his head: "We cannot count so many as that, sir, for of the eighty taken twenty at least will claim exemption on the ground of infirmities, as being only sons of widows, or as having elder brothers already in the service. The government will thus be obliged to press twenty more, and this will bring the number of losing figures up to one hundred."

"The odds are ten to one against him," sadly muttered the father, drawing from his pocket a paper covered with figures. "We have it all written down here: I've calculated it;" and for perhaps the thousandth time the old man recommenced his dismal arithmetic.

At this moment we heard a knock at the door of the cottage, where we were all four seated round the fire. "It is Louise, poor girl!" cried Madeleine, rising: "she told me she would come;" and she opened the door to give admittance to two women. The first was a tall, neatly-dressed, middle-aged woman: the second, her daughter, was a young, slight, fair-haired girl of twenty. She was not pretty, but her features wore a look of honesty and candor which gave a bright and pleasing expression to her face, and one could see at a glance that although poor and possibly untaught, that part of her education had not been neglected which was to render her a good and virtuous woman. I was not long in finding out that she was the betrothed of Henri Derblay, and I could not wonder that the poor lad should grieve at the prospect of losing her.

Casting her eyes timidly around for her lover, she blushed as she entered upon seeing a stranger, and passing by me with a little curtsey went to greet François and his wife.

"God bless you, dear child!" cried Madeleine, caressing her: "we are in sad need of your bright, sunny face to cheer us;" and she led the young girl toward Henri, who, leaning against the chimney, was affecting a composure strangely at variance with the trembling of his limbs and the violent quivering of his upper lip.

Louise walked up to him, and seeming to forget my presence innocently held up her forehead for him to kiss. "Tu as du chagrin, mon pauvre ami?" she said in tones of exquisite delicacy and tenderness, and took one of his hands in hers.

A few minutes after I rose to take my leave: François accompanied me [pg 674] to the door. "I think, sir," he said hesitatingly, "you might perhaps bring good-luck to our poor boy by going to-morrow to see the conscription. Would you do us the favor of joining us? We shall all be at St. Valéry."

"Certainly," I replied, shaking his hand, and starting off with my heart so full that the league's walk from the cottage to my lodgings filled up one of the saddest hours I have ever spent.

I passed a dull night: how indeed could I do otherwise? And I am sure that I never so sincerely lamented the want of wealth as upon that occasion, when a thousand francs might have given me the joy of making four people happy.

The next day, the twentieth of February, dawned brightly—so brightly indeed that I began to draw from the smiling appearance of the heavens a good augury for the luck of Henri Derblay. It was about eight when I set out. The conscription was to begin at nine, but already the one straggling, narrow street which bisects the old bathing-town was filled with country-people hastening in groups or singly toward the market-place, where the town-hall was situated. The scene presented here was of a most animated kind. The market had some time since begun, and in and out amongst the stalls of the sellers moved a crowd of people of all trades, of all ranks and of all appearances. Fishermen, tradesmen, peasants, soldiers—knots of all these were there, some from curiosity or to accompany a friend or relation to the urn; some laughing, some shouting, some drinking, some dancing in a boisterous round to the music of a barrel-organ; some bawling a popular song in a gay, ever-repeated chorus; some raffling for nuts and biscuits at smartly-decked fair-booths, or playing at Chinese billiards for painted mugs or huge cakes of gilt gingerbread; some listening to the stump orations of an extempore fortuneteller, who promised the bâton of the field-marshal to any conscript who would give him a penny; and some buying by yards the patriotic, soul-stirring songs of Béranger, and reciting them in every tone, in every key and to every tune. One of these songsters was a young soldier, a lancer, with a bright intelligent look: he was standing outside a cabaret with several companions, and trolling in a rich, clear voice a melody which seemed thoroughly to spring from his heart. His eye alternately sparkled or dimmed as his words were animated or affecting, and the expression he breathed into his notes was full of feeling and admirably suited to all he sang. The last stanza of his ballad was especially well given, and it seemed so entirely the interpretation of his sentiments that I am sure more than one person in the crowd must have thought that the young soldier was repeating a composition of his own. This was the final strophe:

Ah, depuis si longtemps je prolonge mon rêve,

La route est commencée, il faut que je l'achève;

Il est trop tard pour m'arrêter.

Que la gloire m'oublie, ou qu'elle me couronne,

Quel que soit mon destin, à lui je m'abandonne,

J'ai besoin de chanter.

I am not sure whether these verses are by Béranger or not, but they certainly deserve to be.

As the song ended, the market-place was being rapidly filled by streams of people who came pouring into it from all directions. The crowd was now mostly composed of country-people, all dressed in holiday garments, but in appearance, nevertheless, for the greater part at least, the very reverse of happy. In almost every case the families of peasants as they arrived walked into the church, of which the doors were wide open to invite the faithful to mass, and from which flowed occasionally into the tumult of the crowd without, like a little brook of pure water into a bubbling, surging lake, a few waves of gentle, calm religious music. Each one of the poor people who entered to pray went up, as I noticed, to the charity-box and dropped in a mite, in the hope, no doubt, that this good action might buy fair fortune for a son or brother about to "draw." I also remarked that it was toward the chapel of the Virgin that most of the suppliants bent their steps, and more than one mother and sister, moved by a naïve faith which one can only respect, carried with them large nosegays of [pg 675] winter flowers to lay at the feet of the Holy Mother's image.

As I left the church and stood looking at a poor ploughboy who, pale with apprehension, was endeavoring to give to himself a look of unconcern by smoking a big cigar in company with some soldiers, who were laughing at him for his pains, a hand touched my arm, and upon turning round I saw François Derblay with his wife and Henri and Louise. A year's illness could not have aged them more than the night they had just spent: they all seemed completely worn out, and when the old man tried to speak his voice was so hollow and harsh that it frightened me. "Look at Louise, sir," he said at last, slowly shaking his white head: "she and Madeleine there have been sitting up all night praying to God."

"'Cast thy bread upon the waters,'" I answered, "'and thou shalt find it after many days.'"

"Yes, sir," said Louise: "our curate tells us that prayers are like letters—when properly stamped with faith they always reach their address."

"Ay," exclaimed Henri, "but does God always answer them?"

François drew a mass-book from his pocket and finding the Lord's Prayer, "Look," he said as he pointed to the words, Fiat voluntas tua in terra ut in coelo.

A few minutes after the church-clock struck nine, and by a common impulse all the population of the market-place hurried simultaneously toward the town-hall. The door and ground-floor windows of this building opened at the same time, and we could see the mayor of St. Valéry, with the commissioner of police and a captain of infantry in full uniform, seated at a table upon which stood a cylindrical box horizontally between two pivots. This was the urn. Two gendarmes, one upon each side, stood watching over it with their arms folded. A man came to the window and shouted something which I could not catch, and at the same moment half a dozen mayors of districts, girt with their tri-color sashes, ran up the steps of the Hôtel de Ville to draw for the order in which their respective communes were to present themselves. This formality occupied five minutes, and the mayors then came out again to marshal their people into separate groups. The district in which the Derblays lived was to go up third, and as he came to tell us this the mayor of N—— patted François on the back and told him that three was an odd number and therefore lucky. Poor Madeleine was so weak that she could hardly stand up: Louise and I were obliged to support her.

At half-past nine, punctually, the conscription began, and amidst a breathless silence one of the mayor's assistants came to the window and called out the first name: "Adolphe Monnier, of the commune of S——;" and a tall country-boy, elbowing his way through the crowd, walked up into the town-hall. The commissioner of police gave the round box a touch, and as it turned round some six or seven times one might almost have heard a raindrop fall. "Now," said he laughing, "good luck to you!" and the peasant, plunging his hand into the trap of the box, drew out a little piece of card-board rolled into a curl. "No. 17," shouted the infantry captain, taking it from his hands and reading it, whilst a loud roar of laughter from the mob hailed the dismal face with which the unhappy lad heard of his ill-success.

"Oh, what a head for a soldier!" cried some wag in the crowd. "Yes," screamed another, "he'll make the Russians run." "Have you chosen your regiment yet?" barked a third. "Why, of course!" yelped a fourth: "he is to be fife-player in the second battalion of the pope's horse-beadles."

And amid a shower of jokes equally witty No. 17 came down, and a second name was called. After him came a third, and then a fourth, and so on, all equally unlucky; and no wonder, since all the numbers up to one hundred were losing ones. There were great differences in the way in which the youths bore their discomfiture: some went up crying to the urn and trembled as in an ague whilst it was rolling round; three [pg 676] stamped and sobbed like children when they had lost, and the crowd, ever charitable in its doings, threw about their ears by way of comfort a volley of epigrams which pricked them like so many wasps; others, on the contrary, went up laughing, and upon drawing a bad number stuck the card in their hats and came down bandying jokes with the mob as unconcernedly as though they had been only taking a pinch of snuff instead of selling seven long years of their lives. Others, again, trying to imitate the latter, but in reality too miserable to do so with ease, only succeeded in making themselves ridiculous, drawing upon themselves an extra amount of squibs from the spectators; upon which, like young steers worried by mosquitoes, they would begin distributing kicks and blows right and left with most liberal profusion, to the no small disgust of the mayor and the immense amusement of the infantry captain, who laughed like an ox in a clover-field.

At last a boy went up and drew the number 109: frantic cheers greeted this check to fortune, and the lucky fellow rushed down with such wild demonstrations of joy that it would have been no great folly to have mistaken him for a criminal just reprieved.

A few minutes after the commune of Henri Derblay was called up. Henri himself was sixth on the roll. His father's face had become livid; his mother hung so heavily on my arm that I fancied at one moment she had fainted; Louise was as white as a sheet, and her lips, bloodless and cold, looked blue and frozen as ice.

"Courage, Henri!" I said: "more than forty have drawn, and but one winning number has come out yet: you will have at least nine good chances."

"Henri Derblay, of the commune of N——," cried an official, and we all started as though a gun had been fired. The moment had come: a minute more and the doubt would become certainty.

"Courage, mother!" whispered the boy, stooping over Madeleine and repeating in a faltering tone the words I had just spoken to him.

The poor woman was speechless: she tried to smile, but her face twitched as though in a convulsion. "My child—" she whispered, and stopped short.

"Henri Derblay!" cried the voice again, and the crowd around repeated the cry: "Be quick, Derblay, they are waiting for you."

The boy drew his sleeve across his eyes and tottered up to the steps of the hall. Louise fell down on her knees; François and his wife did the same; for myself, my temples throbbed as in fever, my hands were dry as wood, and my eyes, fixed on the conscription-urn, seemed starting out of their sockets.

Henri walked up to the box.

"Allons, mon garçon," said the mayor, "un peu d'aplomb;" and he opened the lid. Derblay thrust in his hand: his face was turned toward us, and I could see him draw out his ticket and give it to the captain: a moment's deep silence.

"No. 3!" roared the officer; and a howl of derision from the mob covered his words. Henri had become a soldier.

I could not well see what then followed: there was a sudden hush, a chorus of exclamations, a rush toward the steps of the town-hall, and then the crowd fell back to make way for two gendarmes who were carrying a body between them.

"Is he dead?" asked a number of voices.

"Oh no," tittered the two men—"only fainted: he'll soon come round again." And the mob burst into a laugh.


[pg 677]


"O Trade! O Trade! would thou wert dead!

The age needs heart—'tis tired of head.

We're all for love," the violins said.

"Of what avail the rigorous tale

Of coin for coin and box for bale?

Grant thee, O Trade! thine uttermost hope,

Level red gold with blue sky-slope,

And base it deep as devils grope,

When all's done what hast thou won

Of the only sweet that's under the sun?

Ay, canst thou buy a single sigh

Of true love's least, least ecstasy?"

Then all the mightier strings, assembling,

Fell a-trembling, with a trembling

Bridegroom's heart-beats quick resembling;

Ranged them on the violin's side

Like a bridegroom by his bride,

And, heart in voice, together cried:

"Yea, what avail the endless tale

Of gain by cunning and plus by sale?

Look up the land, look down the land—

The poor, the poor, the poor, they stand

Wedged by the pressing of Trade's hand

Against an inward-opening door

That pressure tightens ever more:

They sigh, with a monstrous foul-air sigh,

For the outside heaven of liberty,

Where Art, sweet lark, translates the sky

Into a heavenly melody.

'Each day, all day' (these poor folks say),

'In the same old year-long, drear-long way,

We weave in the mills and heave in the kilns,

We sieve mine-meshes under the hills,

And thieve much gold from the Devil's bank tills,

To relieve, O God, what manner of ills?—

Such manner of ills as brute-flesh thrills.

The beasts, they hunger, eat, sleep, die,

And so do we, and our world's a sty;

And, fellow-swine, why nuzzle and cry?

Swinehood hath never a remedy,

The rich man says, and passes by,

And clamps his nostril and shuts his eye.

Did God say once in God's sweet tone,

Man shall not live by bread alone,

But by all that cometh from His white throne?

Yea: God said so,

But the mills say No,

[pg 678]

And the kilns and the strong bank-tills say No:

There's plenty that can, if you can't. Go to:

Move out, if you think you're underpaid.

The poor are prolific; we re not afraid;

Business is business; a trade is a trade,

Over and over the mills have said.'"

And then these passionate hot protestings

Changed to less vehement moods, until

They sank to sad suggestings

And requestings sadder still:

"And oh, if the world might some time see

'Tis not a law of necessity

That a trade just naught but a trade must be!

Does business mean, Die, you—live, I?

Then 'business is business' phrases a lie:

'Tis only war grown miserly.

If Traffic is battle, name it so:

War-crimes less will shame it so,

And we victims less will blame it so.

But oh, for the poor to have some part

In the sweeter half of life called Art,

Is not a problem of head, but of heart.

Vainly might Plato's head revolve it:

Plainly the heart of a child could solve it."

And then, as when our words seem all too rude

We cease from speech, to take our thought and brood

Back in our heart's great dark and solitude,

So sank the strings to heartwise throbbing,

Of long chords change-marked with sobbing—

Motherly sobbing, not distinctlier heard

Than half wing-openings of the sleeping bird,

Some dream of danger to her young hath stirred.

Then stirring and demurring ceased, and lo!

Every least ripple of the strings' song flow

Died to a level with each level bow,

And made a great chord tranquil-surfaced so

As a brook beneath his curving bank doth go

To linger in the sacred dark and green

Where many boughs the still pool overlean,

And many leaves make shadow with their sheen.

But presently

A velvet flute-note fell down pleasantly

Upon the bosom of that harmony,

And sailed and sailed incessantly,

As if a petal from a wild-rose blown

Had fluttered down upon that pool of tone,

And boatwise dropped o' the convex side

And floated down the glassy tide,

And clarified and glorified

The solemn spaces where the shadows bide.

[pg 679]

From the velvet convex of that fluted note

Somewhat, half song, half odor, forth did float—

As if God turned a rose into a throat—

"When Nature from her far-off glen

Flutes her soft messages to men,

The flute can say them o'er again;

Yea, Nature, singing sweet and lone,

Breathes through life's strident polyphone

The flute-voice in the world of tone.

Sweet friends,

Man's love ascends

To finer and diviner ends

Than man's mere thought e'er comprehends.

For I, e'en I,

As here I lie,

A petal on a harmony,

Demand of Science whence and why

Man's tender pain, man's inward cry,

When he doth gaze on earth and sky?

Behold, I grow more bold:

I hold

Full powers from Nature manifold.

I speak for each no-tonguèd tree

That, spring by spring, doth nobler be,

And dumbly and most wistfully

His mighty prayerful arms outspreads

Above men's oft-unheeding heads,

And his big blessing downward sheds.

I speak for all-shaped blooms and leaves,

Lichens on stones and moss on eaves,

Grasses and grains in ranks and sheaves;

Broad-fronded ferns and keen-leaved canes,

And briery mazes bounding lanes,

And marsh-plants, thirsty-cupped for rains,

And milky stems and sugary veins;

For every long-armed woman-vine

That round a piteous tree doth twine;

For passionate odors, and divine

Pistils, and petals crystalline;

All purities of shady springs,

All shynesses of film-winged things

That fly from tree-trunks and bark-rings;

All modesties of mountain-fawns

That leap to covert from wild lawns,

And tremble if the day but dawns;

All sparklings of small beady eyes

Of birds, and sidelong glances wise

Wherewith the jay hints tragedies;

All piquancies of prickly burs,

And smoothnesses of downs and furs

Of eiders and of minevers;

All limpid honeys that do lie

At stamen-bases, nor deny

The humming-birds' fine roguery,

[pg 680]

Bee-thighs, nor any butterfly;

All gracious curves of slender wings,

Bark-mottlings, fibre-spiralings,

Fern-wavings and leaf-flickerings;

Each dial-marked leaf and flower-bell

Wherewith in every lonesome dell

Time to himself his hours doth tell;

All tree-sounds, rustlings of pine-cones,

Wind-sighings, doves' melodious moans,

And night's unearthly undertones;

All placid lakes and waveless deeps,

All cool reposing mountain-steeps,

Vale-calms and tranquil lotos-sleeps;

Yea, all fair forms, and sounds, and lights,

And warmths, and mysteries, and mights,

Of Nature's utmost depths and heights,—

—These doth my timid tongue present,

Their mouthpiece and lead instrument

And servant, all love-eloquent.

I heard, when 'All for love' the violins cried:

Nature through me doth take their human side.

That soul is like a groom without a bride

That ne'er by Nature in great love hath sighed.

Much time is run, and man hath changed his ways,

Since Nature, in the antique fable-days,

Was hid from man's true love by proxy fays,

False fauns and rascal gods that stole her praise.

The nymphs, cold creatures of man's colder brain,

Chilled Nature's streams till man's warm heart was fain

Never to lave its love in them again.

Later, a sweet Voice Love thy neighbor said;

Then first the bounds of neighborhood outspread

Beyond all confines of old ethnic dread.

Vainly the Jew might wag his covenant head:

'All men are neighbors,' so the sweet Voice said.

So, when man's arms had measure as man's race,

The liberal compass of his warm embrace

Stretched bigger yet in the dark bounds of space;

With hands a-grope he felt smooth Nature's grace,

Drew her to breast and kissed her sweetheart face:

His heart found neighbors in great hills and trees

And streams and clouds and suns and birds and bees,

And throbbed with neighbor-loves in loving these.

But oh, the poor! the poor! the poor!

That stand by the inward-opening door

Trade's hand doth tighten ever more,

And sigh with a monstrous foul-air sigh

For the outside heaven of liberty,

Where Nature spreads her wild blue sky

For Art to make into melody!

Thou Trade! thou king of the modern days!

Change thy ways,

Change thy ways;

[pg 681]

Let the sweaty laborers file

A little while,

A little while,

Where Art and Nature sing and smile.

Trade! is thy heart all dead, all dead?

And hast thou nothing but a head?

I'm all for heart," the flute-voice said,

And into sudden silence fled,

Like as a blush that while 'tis red

Dies to a still, still white instead.

Thereto a thrilling calm succeeds,

Till presently the silence breeds

A little breeze among the reeds

That seems to blow by sea-marsh weeds:

Then from the gentle stir and fret

Sings out the melting clarionet,

Like as a lady sings while yet

Her eyes with salty tears are wet.

"O Trade! O Trade!" the Lady said,

"I too will wish thee utterly dead

If all thy heart is in thy head.

For O my God! and O my God!

What shameful ways have women trod

At beckoning of Trade's golden rod!

Alas when sighs are traders' lies,

And heart's-ease eyes and violet eyes

Are merchandise!

O purchased lips that kiss with pain!

O cheeks coin-spotted with smirch and stain!

O trafficked hearts that break in twain!

—And yet what wonder at my sisters' crime?

So hath Trade withered up Love's sinewy prime,

Men love not women as in olden time.

Ah, not in these cold merchantable days

Deem men their life an opal gray, where plays

The one red sweet of gracious ladies' praise.

Now comes a suitor with sharp prying eye—

Says, Here, you Lady, if you'll sell, I'll buy:

Come, heart for heart—a trade? What! weeping? why?

Shame on such wooers' dapper mercery!

I would my lover kneeling at my feet

In humble manliness should cry, O sweet!

I know not if thy heart my heart will meet:

I ask not if thy love my love can greet:

Whatever thy worshipful soft tongue shall say,

I'll kiss thine answer, be it yea or nay:

I do but know I love thee, and I pray

To be thy knight until my dying day.

Woe him that cunning trades in hearts contrives!

Base love good women to base loving drives.

If men loved larger, larger were our lives;

And wooed they nobler, won they nobler wives."

[pg 682]

There thrust the bold straightforward horn

To battle for that lady lorn;

With heartsome voice of mellow scorn,

Like any knight in knighthood's morn.

"Now comfort thee," said he,

"Fair Ladye.

Soon shall God right thy grievous wrong,

Soon shall man sing thee a true-love song,

Voiced in act his whole life long,

Yea, all thy sweet life long,

Fair Ladye.

Where's he that craftily hath said

The day of chivalry is dead?

I'll prove that lie upon his head,

Or I will die instead,

Fair Ladye.

Is Honor gone into his grave?

Hath Faith become a caitiff knave,

And Selfhood turned into a slave

To work in Mammon's cave,

Fair Ladye?

Will Truth's long blade ne'er gleam again?

Hath Giant Trade in dungeons slain

All great contempts of mean-got gain

And hates of inward stain,

Fair Ladye?

For aye shall Name and Fame be sold,

And Place be hugged for the sake of gold,

And smirch-robed Justice feebly scold

At Crime all money-bold,

Fair Ladye?

Shall self-wrapt husbands aye forget

Kiss-pardons for the daily fret

Wherewith sweet wifely eyes are wet—

Blind to lips kiss-wise set—

Fair Ladye?

Shall lovers higgle, heart for heart,

Till wooing grows a trading mart

Where much for little, and all for part,

Make love a cheapening art,

Fair Ladye?

Shall woman scorch for a single sin

That her betrayer can revel in,

And she be burnt, and he but grin

When that the flames begin,

Fair Ladye?

Shall ne'er prevail the woman's plea,

We maids would far, far whiter be

If that our eyes might sometimes see

Men maids in purity,

Fair Ladye?

Shall Trade aye salve his conscience-aches

With jibes at Chivalry's old mistakes,

[pg 683]

The wars that o'erhot knighthood makes

For Christ's and ladies' sakes,

Fair Ladye?

Now by each knight that e'er hath prayed

To fight like a man and love like a maid,

Since Pembroke's life, as Pembroke's blade,

I' the scabbard, death, was laid,

Fair Ladye.

I dare avouch my faith is bright

That God doth right and God hath might,

Nor time hath changed His hair to white,

Nor His dear love to spite,

Fair Ladye.

I doubt no doubts: I strive, and shrive my clay,

And fight my fight in the patient modern way

For true love and for thee—ah me! and pray

To be thy knight until my dying day,

Fair Ladye,"

Said that knightly horn, and spurred away

Into the thick of the melodious fray.

And then the hautboy played and smiled,

And sang like a little large-eyed child,

Cool-hearted and all undefiled.

"Huge Trade!" he said,

"Would thou wouldst lift me on thy head,

And run where'er my finger led!

Once said a Man—and wise was He—

Never shalt thou the heavens see,

Save as a little child thou be."

Then o'er sea-lashings of commingling tunes

The ancient wise bassoons,

Like weird


Old harpers sitting on the wild sea-dunes,

Chanted runes:

"Bright-waved gain, gray-waved loss,

The sea of all doth lash and toss,

One wave forward and one across.

But now 'twas trough, now 'tis crest,

And worst doth foam and flash to best,

And curst to blest.

"Life! Life! thou sea-fugue, writ from east to west,

Love, Love alone can pore

On thy dissolving score

Of wild half-phrasings,

Blotted ere writ,

And double erasings.

Of tunes full fit.

Yea, Love, sole music-master blest,

May read thy weltering palimpsest.

To follow Time's dying melodies through,

And never to lose the old in the new,

[pg 684]

And ever to solve the discords true—

Love alone can do.

And ever Love hears the poor-folks' crying,

And ever Love hears the women's sighing,

And ever sweet knighthood's death-defying,

And ever wise childhood's deep implying,

And never a trader's glozing and lying.

"And yet shall Love himself be heard,

Though long deferred, though long deferred:

O'er the modern waste a dove hath whirred:

Music is Love in search of a Word."



Bulwer in his last novel said something to the effect that an orang-outang would receive a degree of polish and refinement by ten years of life in Paris. This statement is not to be taken literally, of course: I have detected no special polish of manners in the monkeys confined at the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris, some of whom are pretty well on in years. The novelist only sought to make a strong expression of his good opinion of French manners, no doubt. In observing the blouse wearers of Paris in their hours of ease and relaxation, I have been struck with the great prevalence of a certain unforced courtesy of manner, even among the coarsest. No one would dream what a howling demon this creature could and did become in the days of the Commune who should see him enjoying himself at his ball, his concert, his theatre or his dinner.

I suppose no one not in the confidence of the managers of these places would readily credit to what an extent the public masquerade-balls of Paris are the peculiar possession of the blousard. The gaping crowds of English and Americans who go to the disreputable Jardin Mabille and the like resorts in summer to gaze at what they imagine is a scene of French revelry, do not know that the cancan-dancer there is paid for his jollity. The men who dance at the Jardin Mabille are not there for revelry's sake: they are earning a few sous from the manager, who knows that he must do something to amuse his usual spectators—viz., the tourists—who go back to Manchester or to Omaha and astonish their friends with tales of the goings-on of those dreadful Frenchmen in Paris. The women who disport in the cancan at the same place are simply hired by the season. It is not at the Jardin Mabille that the visitor to Paris need ever look to see genuine revelry: the place is as much a place of jollification for the people as the stage of a theatre is, and no more. Very often the dancer at night is a blousard by day. So at many of the masquerade-balls which rage in the winter, particularly during the weeks just preceding Mardi Gras. These are less purely tourist astonishers than the Jardin Mabille. They are largely visited by the fast young men and old beaux and roués of Paris, but these are almost never seen to go upon the floor and dance. In the crowded ball-room of the Valentino on a masquerade-night you may have observed with wondering awe the gyrations of an extraordinary couple around whom a ring has been formed, giving them free space on the floor for their wild abandon of exercise. The man is long, lank [pg 685] and grotesque; he wears a tail coat which reaches the floor, and upon his back is strapped a crazy guitar with broken strings; his false nose stands out from his face at prodigious length; his hat is a bottle, his gloves are buckskin gauntlets, and his trousers are those of a circus-rider. The woman does not hide her face with a mask, for her face is her fortune, and she cannot afford to hide it: she is painted tastefully with vermilion and white; abundant false curls cluster at her neck, and are surmounted by a dainty little punchinello cap in pink silk and gilding; her dress is every color of the rainbow, and reaches to her knees; blue gaiters with pink rosettes are on her feet, and kid gloves are on her hands. The saltatory terpsichoreanisms of this couple are seemingly inspired by a mad gayety of spirit which only the utmost extravagance of gesture and pirouette will satisfy. The man flings his feet above the woman's head; the woman sinks to the floor, and springs up again as if made of tempered steel; and as a conclusion to the figure she turns a complete somersault in the air. If you are so innocent as to suppose that these performers are exerting themselves in that manner for the mere pleasure of the thing, you are innocent indeed. They are "artists," and receive a salary from the manager of the Valentino.

To innumerable blousards in Paris these dancers are objects of emulation. The Valentino supports a large troupe of such performers, and is less often the scene of the blousard's efforts, therefore, than ball-rooms where the regular corps of dancers is smaller. The matter of the admission-fee also regulates the blousard to some extent in his choice of resort. At the mask-balls he most favors—such as the Élysée-Montmartre at the Barrière Rochechouart, or the Tivoli Waux-Hall (sic) near the Château d'Eau—there is no charge for admission to cavaliers in costume. Tourists sometimes stumble upon these places, but not often: they are remote from the gay quarter which foreigners haunt.

The neighborhood of the Château d'Eau—an immense paved space at the junction of the Boulevards St. Martin and du Temple—is to the blousard what the neighborhood of the Madeleine is to the small shopkeeper. He does not frequent it every day: it is a scene for special visits—more expensive than the immediate quarter where he eats, drinks and sleeps, and more attractive. There is a café on the southern side of the esplanade, where, if you go on a Saturday night, you may see a curious sight. It is after midnight that the place is thronged. Descending a broad flight of steps, you turn to the right and go down another flight, entering an immense underground hall, broken up with sturdy square pillars, and brilliant with mirrors which line walls and pillars in every direction. Here are gathered a great number of men and women, sitting at the tables, drinking beer and wine, playing cards, dominoes and backgammon, and filling the air with the incessant din of conversation and the smoke of pipes and cigars. The women are generally bareheaded or in muslin caps. The men are almost without exception in blouses—some white, some black, some in the newest stages of shiny blue gingham, some faded with long wearing and frequent washing. Caps and soft hats are universal: a tall hat is nowhere to be seen—a fact which is much more significant in Paris than it would be in America, for in Paris the tall hat is almost de rigueur among the better classes. Girls from sixteen to twenty years of age stroll in from the street bareheaded with the cool manner of boys, quite alone and unconcerned, looking around quietly to see if there is any one they know: in case of recognizing an acquaintance they perhaps sit down to a game or stand with hands in pockets and converse. They have not the air of nymphes du pavé, and are simply grisettes (working-girls), passing away their idle hours in precisely the same independent way as if they were of the opposite sex. For the price of the glass of beer which he orders when he sits down (six cents) the blousard can sit here all night, playing cards and smoking.

It is one o'clock in the morning when we leave this scene, and the [pg 686] place is in full blast. Crossing the Château d'Eau, we plunge into a quiet street, down which comes a flood of light from an electric lamp hung before the entrance of the Tivoli Waux-Hall. Within, the ball-room is thronged. An occasional blouse is visible, but the blousard who comes here is generally arrayed in some fancy costume, which he hires for the night for a trifling sum or has devised in his leisure moments from odds and ends gathered in an old-clo' market. There is a group of four now prancing in a quadrille, who are blousards enjoying at once their hours of ease and of triumph. Emulous of the "artists" of grander balls, they have got themselves up in the guise of American Indians, and are a sight to behold. Their faces are painted every color of the rainbow; and when I say painted I do not mean tricked out with the red and white of toilet-boxes, but daubed thickly with the kind of paint used in painting houses and signs—paint which stays in spite of the reeking perspiration which trickles off their cheeks. They wear no masks, but have pasteboard noses stuck upon their faces with glue, for they are "got up" for all night, and this is the proud scene on which they win laurels. Their dance is a coarse imitation of the gyrations of the professional cancanists, and they prance and cavort with glowing enthusiasm, happy in the evident admiration of a surrounding throng of provincials, pickpockets and prostitutes.

For a more genuine scene of blousard gayety come with me to the Rue Mouffetard, where there is a ball frequented solely by the lowest and poorest class of Paris strugglers for bread, such as the ragpickers and the street-sweepers. At first thought it seems improbable that the squalid wretches who can barely earn sous enough to live on, to whom fifty cents a day are fine wages, should have a ball. But all things are possible in Paris in the way of popular amusements. In the Rue Mouffetard, then, near the Rue Pot de Fer, we read on the wall of a gloomy building a yellow advertisement which is translatable thus, literally:



All the Sundays, departing from the first
January, up till Fat Tuesday



A Grand Orchestra, composed of Artists of Talent, will be conducted by G. Maurage, who will have performed a Repertory entirely new, composed of Quadrilles, Valses, Polkas, Schottisches, Varsoviennes, Mazurkas, Redowas, Lancers, etc.

ENTRANCE—On the Sundays, five cents; at ordinary times, four cents.

One commences at 8 o'clock.

Although one commences at eight o'clock on the bills, one does not commence in reality at any such unfashionable hour. If we are so innocent as to go to the ball-room before ten o'clock, we shall find only a crowd of boys and girls gathered about the entrance of the hall, waiting to see the guests arrive. Needless to say, no carriages roll up to this door. The revelers come on foot, emerging from dark alleyways, descending from garrets by creaking old staircases, filtering out one by one into the street, and making their way to the ball-room in couples or alone. To find the ball in the full tide of successful operation we should arrive about half-past ten in the evening. Entering then through a long, broad passage, midway of which we deposit five sous each with the Cerberus on guard, we pass into a hall crowded with people. The hall is not larger than that of an average country-tavern ball-room in New England: the space occupied by the dancers will accommodate perhaps fifty quadrille sets. (There are no "side couples" in the quadrilles of Paris popular balls; hence a set consists of but four persons.) This would indicate a pretty large ball-room to most minds, but the dancers here are crowded so close upon each other that they really occupy a surprisingly small space.

Up and down the two sides of the long hall are ranged coarse wooden tables, with the narrowest benches at them for use as seats that I [pg 687] think ever served that purpose. Sitting on a Virginia fence is the only exercise I remember that suggests the exceeding narrowness of the benches at the ragpickers' ball. On the side of the tables nearest the wall runs a narrow alley, down which we walk in search of a seat. On the other side the tables are protected from the dancers—who might otherwise bang destructively against them, to the detriment of wine-bottles and glasses—by a stout wooden railing. Reaching the lower end of the hall, we find an unoccupied seat, and are able to survey the scene at our leisure.

The hall is lighted by no fewer than six chandeliers, with numerous burners, and between the chandeliers depend from the ceiling large glass balls, coated inside with quicksilver, which serve to reflect the light and add something of brilliancy. There are two round holes for ventilation in the ceiling: the only windows are two which are at the lower end of the hall, and look out on a gloomy courtyard surrounded by a high wall, on whose ridged top is a forbidding array of broken bottles imbedded in the mortar. On an elevated platform at one side, as high as the dancers' heads, sits the orchestra "composed of artists of talent," thirteen in number; and it is but justice to say that they make excellent music—far better than that we commonly hear at home in theatres and at dancing-assemblies. Blouses are abundant on the floor, in spite of the fact that the ball is advertised to be "dress, mask, disguise." Near us is a dusty blousard in huge wooden shoes, who dances no less vigorously with his head and arms than with his legs; and how earnestly he does bend to his work! He is one incessant teeter. While the music sounds he never flags. He spins, he whirls, he balances: he stands upon the toes of his wooden sabots and pirouettes with clumsy ease, like one on stilts. He claps his hands smartly together, flings them wildly above his head, and pounds away with his feet as if it were his firm intention to go through into the cellar. But, though our attention is centred on him, he is by no means alone or peculiar. Around and around whirl others and others, under the gleaming chandeliers, in the clouds of tobacco smoke, dancing as vigorously, flinging their hands above their heads as wildly, as he. Here and there handsome costumes are seen, but the majority are in Cardigan jackets or blouses: many are in their shirt-sleeves. All wear their hats and caps. Women in male attire and men in women's frocks and ribbons are a favorite form of disguise: occasionally there is one of an elaborately grotesque character. The spectators, sitting at the tables or strolling down the narrow aisles, look on with applause and laughter at the boisterous scene. Occasionally one jumps upon a table and flings up his arms with a hilarious yell, but he is promptly tumbled down again. When the quadrille is over many of the dancers go on jumping and skipping, loath to have done; but the floor is promptly cleared by two men in authority, the proprietors of the place, for there is rigid discipline here.

In the interval, while the music is silent, three or four policemen armed to the teeth, with swords at their sides and glittering uniforms, saunter in an idle, unconcerned manner up and down the cleared floor, with the air of men who have no earthly use for their time, and are walking thus merely to stretch their legs a bit. But they are keenly on the alert, these gendarmes. They cast their eyes on us where we sit with a sidelong glance which seems to say, "We see you, you two men in tall hats," for we presently find we are conspicuous in this crowd by the hats we wear. A ragamuffin Pierrot in a white nightcap is seen to touch a trousered female on the arm and look leeringly at us, and is overheard to say, "Vois donc, Delphine, those aristos there—have they hats?—quoi?" Whereupon I nod good-naturedly to them, and Delphine comes up to us with a smile. "One sees easily thou art not Parisian, little father (p'tit père)" she says to me. "Rest tranquil, then—thou shalt see dancing—rest tranquil." And with a flirt of her heel she bounds into the middle of the floor with her cavalier as the orchestra sounds the preliminary strain of a waltz.

It is the custom here for the orchestra to sound this preliminary [pg 688] note as a foretaste to the dancers of the coming piece. Then the musicians rest on their instruments while the two men in authority on the floor set up a stentorian call of "Advance, mesdames and messieurs: one is about to begin the waltz," or the polka, as the name of the coming dance may be. At this cry, through the little gates which open here and there in the wooden railing a crowd of eager clients pour upon the floor and range themselves in place. The men in authority coolly proceed to collect a tax of two sous from each couple, and then the music and the dance begin. In waltzing the dancers simply put their arms around each other's necks, and thus embracing vigorously, face to face, they spin about the room, bumping against each other, laughing, shouting and chaffing. Waiters in white aprons dodge about among the dancers, taking orders for wine, beer and punch, and exciting our constant amazement that they do not get knocked down and trampled on. One of them approaches us and asks what we will take. Observe, he does not ask if we will take anything, for if you sit you must "consume" either drink or cigars. Your five cents paid at the door, you perceive, entitle you to neither a seat nor a dance. The constant drinking which goes on is the heaviest source of income of the establishment, after all. Yet nobody is drunk. In New York a like amount of guzzling would have put half the men under the table by this time. It is a popular notion that Frenchmen never get drunk, but this exaggerates the truth. One sees almost as much drunkenness among the lower classes in Paris as in New York, but the amount of drunkenness is so trifling in proportion to the enormous amount of tippling that goes on among Frenchmen that the matter is a cause of constant wonderment to visitors from other lands.

At the end of the waltz the floor is promptly cleared again. One woman puts her hand on the rail-fence and leaps over unconcernedly, rather than take her turn at the gate. Then the band strikes up the opening strain of the popular opera-bouffe quadrille of the hour, and the air echoes with the shout on every side, "C'est Angot! C'est Angot!" and the struggle for places is furious. "Madame Angot," the heroine of a fashionable opera-bouffe, is a market-woman, and a sort of goddess among the blousards, who are eager to dance to the inspiring melody of her song. The men in authority have little need to persuade the dancers with their cry of "Avancez! avancez!" this time: they have only to collect the sous, and the wild revelry begins. The tallest man in the room leads on to the floor the shortest woman—a little humpbacked dwarf: he is smoking a cigar, and she a cigarette, and they dance with fury while puffing clouds of smoke. The man jumps in the air with wondrous pigeon-wings, slaps his heels with his hands, shouts and twists his lank body into grotesque shapes. The little dwarf, madly hilarious, rushes about with her head down, swings her long dress in the air, whirls and "makes cheeses," and in the climax of her efforts kicks her partner squarely in the back amid roars of laughter.

Across the way from this ball-room there is a large "brewery," as it is called—a combination of beer-hall, wineshop, café and billiard-room—where for eight cents you may play a game of billiards, or for twelve cents may play an hour. Beer is four cents the glass, and wine two cents, for in Paris wine is cheaper than beer. Blousards crowd this place at all hours of the night.

Near by is a café concert. A "Grande Soirée Lyrique" is the entertainment offered us at the Maison Doucieux, as we learn from the rudely-written handbill which hangs at the entrance. Through a long, winding, narrow, dark and dirty passage, up a rickety stone staircase, through another passage, and we stand in a crowded hall, at whose lower end a rude stage is erected, on which a ragged man is bawling a comic song. In the midst of it there is a disturbance: a drunken man has climbed upon the back of a seat to light his pipe at the chandelier, and falling thence has enraged the fallen-upon to that extent that a fight ensues. In a twinkling the tipsy man is dragged [pg 689] out of the door, to the delight of the audience, who shout "Bravo!" as he disappears. The concert is not entertaining, and we follow him out. He is carefully propped up against a wall by those who put him into the street, and when we come upon him is growling maledictions upon his enemies, with his hair about his eyes and his hands clawing the air. Four bareheaded women, roaring with laughter, come marching abreast along the middle of the street, and picking up the drunkard's battered hat disappear in the gloomy distance, boisterously thrusting the hat upon each other's heads in turn.

A café chantant of a more pretentious sort than the Maison Doucieux, but still the peculiar resort of the blousard—for there are café chantants of many grades in Paris—may be found in one of the back streets near the Boulevard St. Martin. Some of the cafés chantants are patronized by the well-dressed class, and a blousard is no more likely to be seen in their orchestra fauteuils than in the same division of the regular theatres. The El Dorado, for example, in the Boulevard Strasbourg, is as large and almost as elegant as Booth's Theatre in New York, but it is a café chantant. Keeping still to the favorite haunts of the blousard, we enter the showiest of the cafés chantants peculiar to him—as free-and-easy a beuglant as one could wish. Beuglant, by the way, is the argot name of this sort of place; and as the word comes from beugler, to "bellow," it may easily be seen how flattering it is as a definite noun for a place where the chief attraction is the singing.

It is late when we enter the beuglant, and the place is crowded to suffocation and thick with tobacco smoke. The hall is an immensely large one, with gleaming chandeliers, frescoed nymphs and cupids on the walls, a regular stage and a regular orchestra. A venerable man in gray hair and spectacles saws away at the big bass; a long-haired, professor-looking person struggles laboriously with the piano; there are two violinists, a horn, a trombone, a flute and a flageolet. On the wall is a placard where we read that the price for the first consommation is fifteen sous, but that subsequent consommations will be furnished at the ordinary price. Consommation is the convenient word of cafés chantants for food or drink of any kind, and every visitor is forced by the rules of the place to "consume" something as his title to a seat. Nothing is furnished more nearly approaching food than brandied cherries, but the drinks include all the noxious and innoxious beverages known to the French—from coffee, sugar-water or tea to brandy, rum and absinthe. In the list of the stronger drinks, a compound of sugar, lemon, hot water and whisky (which I believe I have heard mentioned under the name of punch in remote towns of Arkansas and Minnesota) is here known as "an American." The first time one hears the order, "Bring me an American, waiter, and let him be hot, mind you—as hot as one can swallow him," it is a little surprising.

Waiters move laboriously about among the legs of the audience, bearing salvers laden with wine, beer, Americans and bottles of water. The audience is rough and ready; hats and caps are worn habitually; pipes are diligently smoked—cigars are rare. Women are seldom seen here, except upon the stage, where they sit in a semicircle in a somewhat formal manner, each holding a bouquet in her lap carefully wrapped round with white paper, each wearing flowers in her elaborately coiffé hair and in the folds of her silken skirts, and each with arms and shoulders bare. From time to time these women come forward and sing—songs not always strictly adapted to the family circle, perhaps. But the favorite vocalist is a comic man, who emerges from behind the scenes in a grotesquely exaggerated costume—an ill-fitting, long, green calico tail-coat, with a huge yellow bandana dangling from a rear pocket; a red cotton umbrella with a brass ring on one end and a glass hook on the other; light blue shapeless trousers; a flaming orange—colored vest; a huge standing collar, and in his buttonhole a ridiculous artificial flower. This type of comic singer is unknown in American concert-halls of any grade, though he [pg 690] is sometimes seen at the German concerts in the Bowery of the lowest class. Here he is very cordially esteemed. The ladies behind him yawn in a furtive manner under cover of their bouquets, but the audience is hilarious over him as he sings about his friend Thomas from the country, who came up to Paris to see the sights and shocked everybody by his dreadful manners. He put his muddy boots on the fauteuils, did mon ami Thomas; he fell in love with a gay woman of the Boulevards whose skin was all plastered up like an old cathedral; he ate oysters with a hair-pin at dinner; he offered his toothpick to his vis-à-vis, and altogether conducted himself in such a manner that one was forced to say to him (chorus), Ah, my friend Thomas! at Paris that's hardly done. Ah, mon ami Thomas! at Paris that is not done at all. The audience is in ecstasies of delight at this ill-bred conduct on the part of the cousin from the provinces—secretly conscious as they are, even though they be blousards, that they are Parisians, and know how to behave themselves in a polite manner; and the vocalist, recovering from his last grimace, gives them another dose. He relates that his friend Thomas wanted to go to the grand opera; so he took him to the Funambules: the fool swallowed that—il à gobé ça!—and when the tenor began to sing Thomas roared out, "Tais-toi donc!" and began to bellow a comic song, whereupon I dragged him out, protesting (Chorus), Ah, mon ami Thomas! à Paris ça n'se fait guère. Ah, mon ami Thomas! à Paris ça n'se fait pas!

When a sentimental song is sung the audience pay little attention. To patriotic songs they listen respectfully. A song which breathes the glories of literature as represented by Montaigne, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Molière is tolerated idly. But when the stage is presently cleared for a ballet the young blousards—for they are mostly young men who gather here—are all attention. What is their disgust at perceiving that the dancers are men in ancient Greek costumes, who do a sword-fight to music, with periods of sudden tableau-attitude striking! They are a bit ridiculous, these Greeks, flopping about the stage in tights and tunics, and presently three or four blousards near me begin to guy the performance. "Ah-h-h!" they cry, grinning broadly; "ah, ah, ha! ha-a-a-a!"—putting into this utterance a world of amused scorn. The "regulator" of the establishment—a solemn man in a tail-coat who walks about the hall preserving order—gets angry at this. "Restez tranquilles," he says to the jeerers, with expressive and emphatic forefinger leveled at the group. Whereupon one of them, a handsome chap in a soft hat, leans his elbows squarely on the table in front of him, wags his head saucily and openly chaffs the solemn regulator. "Ah, bah!" he says, "do we come here to keep still?" The superintendent threatens to call the police: the blousards laugh him to scorn. "You would make a fine figure of yourself bringing here the police, wouldn't you? Look then at what we have consumed!" pointing to the empty glasses before him on the table. "Go along, then, do—go quickly—and bring here the police, old wag that you are!" The regulator perceives the force of this argument. "But they should be more respectful," he says, appealing to me: "n'est ce pas, m'sieu?" and with this walks away. The hall is so large, and the noise which fills it so prodigious, that this little altercation has attracted no general attention, as it must have done in a quieter place.

The theatre named by the beuglant's funny singer the "Funambules," to which he took his friend Thomas under pretence that it was the opera, is one of the queerest of the blousard's places of resort. It is a droll little underground theatre—literally underground, with no windows, no opening of any kind to the light of day, and no ventilation. We reach it by a long winding way of pleasantly-lighted stairs and corridors, and find ourselves in a room incredibly small for a theatre—a mere little box of a place, not wider, I should judge, than sixteen feet, nor more than fifty feet deep, but so curiously and ingeniously arranged with seats in tiers upon an [pg 691] inclined plane that quite a numerous audience can find room within it. The "fauteuils d'orchestre," or orchestra-chairs, are the front row of benches, nearest the stage. The "parterre" is the back rows. There is a little bird's nest of a gallery at the rear of the room, where the spectators cannot stand up without striking the ceiling with their heads. At the sides of the space set apart for the musicians are two queer little private boxes, perched up against the wall like old-fashioned pulpits, and reached by a narrow flight of steps like a ladder. The aristocratic seats (after the boxes) are the fauteuils d'orchestre, for which we pay the ruinous sum of twenty-five sous each. Here we are in an atmosphere utterly unlike that of the beuglant just described, for this is a place where the honest blousard comes with his wife and children for an evening of innocent amusement. Directly behind us sits a family of three generations—a bent old man of seventy-five or eighty years, gray-haired and venerable; a round-faced, middle-aged blousard with his dark-eyed wife; and their two little babies, scarcely old enough to prattle, and who lisp their delight with beaming eyes to "dan'père." Next me is a bright-eyed boy of four years, with clustering curls about his fair forehead, who sits bolt upright in his mother's lap and comments in subdued but earnest tones on the performers on the stage. "Pou'quoi fait-on ça?" ("What are they doing that for?") is his favorite question during the evening, varied by the frequent and anxious remark, "Mais, c'n'est pa' encore fini?" ("But it is not yet finished?"). A cat is asleep on the steps of the private box at the left. Neither of the boxes is tenanted, by the way, as they are inordinately expensive—fifty sous each occupant, or some such heavy sum of money. Under one of them there is a cozy cupboard, where the woman-usher (in a neat muslin cap with pink ribbons) keeps the candies and cakes she sells to the audience between the acts. Upon the poor little profits of her office here this honest woman lives, and keeps herself as tidy as if she had ample pin-money. She thrusts a little wooden footstool under the feet of each woman in the audience, and is amply repaid with a sou at the end of the evening. The footstool is welcome, for a Frenchwoman is ill at ease at a place of amusement without her little "bench" under her foot: it is invariably brought her at theatres or cafés, as a rule; and each of the larger theatres in Paris has a dozen or so of these "ouvreuses," as they are called, who are paid usually two sous by each lady who accepts a little bench. In the present instance the fee is as small as it possibly could be, and the bench-woman ekes out her income by selling cakes, oranges and candies. Curiosity to know her earnings elicits the frank reply that she often makes as much as thirty sous a night in her sphere of labor.

The Funambules orchestra is composed of three instruments—a big bass, played by a tall, genial-looking man who wears a flannel shirt and a paper collar, and has a bald head; and a piano and violin, played by two handsome, dark-haired, romantic-looking young men, apparently brothers. The music is excellent. The performance lasts from seven till twelve, five hours, and includes three pieces. The first is a farce, in which the orthodox stage papa looks over the top of a screen in a fury at the orthodox stage-lovers, and ends the piece by joining their hands with the orthodox "Take her, you young rascal!" The second piece is a nautical, black-eyed-Susan sort of drama, with the genteel young navy lieutenant who sings like a siren; the jolly old tar who swaggers like a ship in the trough of the sea; the comic servant who is in love with the heroine, and whose passion brings him droll burdens of woe; and so on. Both these pieces are interspersed with songs, duets, quartets, after the manner of the old-fashioned Dibdin "Jolly Waterman" style of pieces, never seen on our stage now-a-days, nor on the French stage except at minor theatres. Follows a pantomime—Monsieur Goosequill's Troubles—the only pantomime of the kind introduced in America by the Ravels that I have ever seen in [pg 692] Paris, this style of entertainment having gone completely out of fashion in France. The papa of the farce (who was also the Jack Tar of the drama) reappears in the pantomime as Pierrot, the white-faced clown; and tremendously funny is he. There is a weird, elastic harlequin in a ghastly mask which he never lifts; and an amazing notary in an astounding nose, who proves to be Monsieur Goosequill. There is a humpback of hideous deformity and a Columbine of seraphic loveliness; and all Monsieur Goosequill's troubles come out of the fact that he endeavors to marry the humpback to the Columbine, who prefers to marry the harlequin. And so the notary's quill sets fire to the inkstand: the table is bewitched and treads on his corns; and indeed he suffers terribly and turns somersaults of agony. Peace arrives at last through the humpback giving up his suit; the curtain falls on Columbine and harlequin bowing and backing, hand in hand; gran'père and the babies are all three fast asleep; but the bright-eyed boy in his mother's lap asks with unabated interest, "Pou'quoi fait-on ça?"

In the Boulevard Beaumarchais, close by the old Place of the Bastile, stands the grandest of the theatres habitually visited by the blousard. Its most constant patrons are the furniture-makers of the Faubourg St. Antoine, who bring to the theatre a decided perfume of mahogany and rosewood, and suggest the varnish of newness which the place would otherwise sadly lack. The quarter in which it stands is not a specially suspicious one by day, but at night it is ill calculated to inspire confidence. There are villainous-looking, slouching wretches about, who eye you curiously and not too amiably. The theatre has had its day of splendor, but is now a frowzy-looking concern—very roomy, somewhat suggesting the Old Bowery Theatre, but lacking its cheerful aspect. The audience is without exception of the blousard class: the patrons of the Old Bowery, even in its latest years, were almost millionaires in comparison. The highest-priced seats (excepting the proscenium-boxes, which are never occupied) cost forty sous. You can sit in the gallery for five sous if you like the company of the Paris gamin. At the entrance of the theatre there is a placard which reads thus: "By paying twenty-five centimes one enters immediately without making queue." The ticket-seller is a prosperous-looking old woman of fifty or there-about, who wears a beribboned cap and side-curls, and has a mouth which tells of years spent in the authoritative position she occupies. She is stern to a terrible degree with the average blousard who approaches the round hole whereat she reigns; but to us, who indulge in the extravagance of paying the extra five sous for the privilege of entering without taking our place in the queue at the door, she relaxes visibly.

The curtain rises at seven o'clock, here as at all the theatres where the blousard pays his money, and the amusement continues until after midnight. But it is not amusing. There are several pieces on the bill, but' the chief one, a drama in five acts, is a poor thing, played by mediocre actors in the most dismal manner possible. The scenery is worn and dilapidated and wretched; the play turns on the sufferings of the poor; there are two or three murders, a suicide, a death from starvation, and such a glut of horrors that the whole entertertainment is dismal and depressing to the last degree. Yet the theatre is usually well patronized, and the audience seems intensely interested. The blousard loves to see depicted on the stage a degree of misery more terrible than that which is his daily lot. For the dramas which depict high life—unless it be the high life of the old days of beruffled and silk-stockinged cavaliers—he cares very little. And in his serious modern dramas the hero must be a blousard, the villain a fine gentleman, the blousard to marry the heroine in the last act, and the fine gentleman to be sent to the galleys.


[pg 693]



The United States is the only country in the world that has its frontier in the middle. The Great American Desert, stretching from the Canadas to the Gulf in a belt nearly a thousand miles in breadth, is now the true divide between the East and the West; and as if that were not enough, it is backed by the long ranges of the Rockies, which, though they flatten out and break down here and there, have yet quite enough of "sassy country" to make a very respectable barrier. A century ago the Alleghanies were the boundaries—now we look upon them as molehills; then the vast prairies lay in the way, like an endless sea; then the Mississippi, like Jordan, rolled between. But all this is now as nothing. We have jumped the old claim of the Alleghanies, we have crossed the prairies, we have spanned the Mississippi with a dozen splendid bridges, and now the great lines of railroad make but a mouthful of the desert, and digest the Rockies as easily as an ostrich his pebbles and tenpennies. The old fables of magic cars, in which magicians could annihilate space and time, are now dull and tame. Like a dream the desert glides by while a sunrise, a sunset, lights up the measureless waste; we pass some low hills, and the Rockies that loomed before us are circumvented and flanked; we whirl through a wild cañon, and they are left behind. Have we seen the desert, the mountains? No. It is but a glimpse—a flat space blackened with prairie-fires, a distant view of purple peaks. Few become intimate with this our wonderful frontier, and most people scorn it as an empty, useless, monotonous space, barren as the sea.

We left Cheyenne early in July, under the care of a paymaster of the U.S.A., to visit with him some of the forts and Indian agencies of Wyoming Territory and beyond. Our party consisted of twelve persons, including six ladies and three children. There were two ambulances for us, and three wagons containing all the comforts necessary in camping out for some weeks. It was promised that we should see wonders, and should go where no white women had ever been before. At 6.45 on a beautiful morning, with a fresh breeze blowing over the desert, the party set forth, looking forward with delight to a continuous picnic a month long. Soon every vestige of human habitation disappeared, and we were alone in the midst of one of the loneliest lands in the world. Sahara itself, that bugbear of childhood, could not be much more desert than this. Fort Laramie, distant nearly one hundred miles, two long days' journey toward the north, was our first point of destination. Over ridge after ridge of the vast rolling plains, clothed with thin brown grass, we rode: no other vegetation was visible but the prickly pear, white thistle and yucca, or Spanish bayonet—stiff, gray, stern plants, suited to the stony, arid soil. The road was good, the vehicle comfortable, the air sweet and cool: along the many ruts in the sand grew long rows of sunflowers, which fill every trail on the plains for hundreds of miles, and give a little color to the colorless scene. The season of flowers was nearly over in that rainless country, but a few still lingered, and among them was the familiar larkspur, growing wild. At first, the long low hills seemed lonely as graves, but we soon found there was not a rod of ground but had its inhabitants. Everywhere something was moving, some little beast, bird or insect: larks sang and perked about on the stones; prairie-birds twittered; gophers (pretty creatures with feathery tails and leopard spots) slid rapidly to their holes; prairie-dogs sat like sentinels upon their mounds and barked like angry puppies; great pink-and-gray grasshoppers, so fat that they could hardly waddle, indulged their voracity; and brown crickets and [pg 694] butterflies were seen on every side. An antelope disappears in the distance: a brigand-like horseman rides up and asks the way. He is a suspicious-looking character, and pistols are cocked. We have not our full escort, and are there not greenbacks among us? But he too disappears in the distance. Is his band lurking among those hills? We like to think so.

About fifteen miles up and down brought us to our first ranch, on Pole Creek, a dry stream, with osiers, shrubs and weeds in its bed. It was pleasant to see something green, even so little, and something human, though only a long, low whitewashed cabin; but this touch of life did not make much impression upon the wilderness, save to make it seem wilder. A plover was flying about, "crying and calling:" a large flock of cow-buntings, our old acquaintances, followed the cattle that grazed in the bed of the stream. We gathered twenty species of flowers here, among them a tiny scarlet mallow and a white oenothera or evening primrose. In the three rooms of the ranch there was refreshment to be found, doubtless of a spirituous nature, but we watered our mules and went on. It was ten miles farther before we came to our next ranch, so thinly settled is the country. Being time for our noonday rest, we took refuge from the fierce heat and glare of the desert in the clean rooms of Mrs. Fagin, dined on our own provisions and drank the excellent milk she brought us.

Still on the ambulances rolled, over the hot, high table-land, till about five o'clock we saw some strange yellow bluffs before us, and descended into the valley of the Chug, a clear stream flowing through a fringe of willow, box-elder (a species of maple) and the cottonwood poplar. Here was Kelly's Ranch, a large one, close by which we were to camp for the night. We found there Lieutenant F—— and an escort of twenty horse, which had been sent to meet us from Fort Laramie. They had our tents pitched for us, and everything ready. A wild, lonely place was this green valley, with its fantastic waterworn bluffs that bore a grotesque resemblance to turtles, seals and other great sea-beasts, and it was delightful to see trees again and to hear the sound of running water. The children at once pulled off shoes and stockings and began to paddle in the stream, and some of the elders followed. It was arranged that we should have supper and breakfast in the ranch, which was a sort of tavern, and we found the supper quite good enough for hungry people, despite the odor of onions that pervades the hearths and homes of this region.

Kelly was a tall, dark, slender man, with large melancholy eyes, soft, but never meeting you quite frankly—eyes into which you could not look very far. It is not easy for us to understand the life of this man and his "pard," with their Indian wives and half-breed children, fifty miles from anywhere; yet they seemed very busy and comfortable. He was asked how he liked it. "It's rather lonesome," he replied. He was a man of few words, and went about silently in carpet slippers, waiting on us at table. No one else appeared, but we had glimpses of the Indian women in the kitchen preparing the meal. After supper we all sat down on buffalo robes spread upon the dewless grass, while the sun went down in glory and the twilight gathered in the sky, realizing that we were camping out for the first time in our lives, and having a delicious sense of adventure, a first sip of the wine of the wilds. "Early to bed and early to rise" is the rule in camp, and so when the stars came out we turned in. As soon as the sun set another climate reigned over the Plains. The nights are always cool, dry and delicious, and fifty miles of ambulance-traveling is a good preparation for sleep. Yet when all was still I came out to look at the night, for everything was so strange and new that sleep at first would not come. The scene was wild enough. The twilight still glimmered faintly; the sky was thick with stars of a brightness never seen in more humid air; the Milky Way was like a fair white cloud; the fantastic bluffs looked stranger than ever against the pale green [pg 695] west; and the splendid comet was plunging straight down into; the Turtle's mouth. A light from the blacksmith's forge glowed upon the buildings, tents and low trees: in the stillness the hammer rang out loud, and there was a low murmur of voices from the officers' tent. In the middle of the night we were wakened by hearing the galloping of a horse, perhaps a passing traveler, and when it ceased a new sound came to our ears, the barking and whining of wolves.

The next morning we were off at six. Our road lay in the green valley of the Chugwater, under the pale bluffs, channeled and seamed by the rains into strange shapes. We never tired of watching our train as it wound up and down, the white-covered wagons with red wheels and blue bodies, the horsemen loping along, picturesquely dressed, with broad hats, large boots, blue trousers and shirts of every color. Their riding was admirable, and as they appeared and disappeared among the trees or behind some rising ground the effect was always picturesque. The valley was charming after so much desert, for it was long since we had seen a good tree. The principal one in Cheyenne was not larger than a lilac-bush, and had to be kept wrapped in wet towels. The light vivid tints of the box-elder contrasted well with the silvery willows and cottonwoods, and still better with the long rows of sage-brush in the foreground and the yellowish cliffs behind. A high, singular butte called Chimney Rock was conspicuous for many miles; also a long one called the Table. There were several ranches in the valley, and many splendid cattle.

About ten o'clock we stopped at Colonel Bullock's ranch. Not a soul within: all hands were gone off to a "rounding out," or branding of cattle—a wild scene, they say, and worth seeing. The herders, rough men with shaggy hair and wild, staring eyes, in butternut trousers stuffed into great rough boots, drive the cattle together, a mass of tossing horns and hoofs, and brand the names of their several owners upon them—a work full of excitement and not unattended with peril. We looked curiously about the ranch, which resembled others we had seen: a log house, furnished with the necessaries of life, with buffalo skins and arms in plenty lying about, and some hanging shelves, containing a number of very good books, including a classical dictionary. About the middle of the day we rested a few minutes at Owen's Ranch, where lived a handsome blond young man with a nice white wife. His corral was surrounded with a wall of neat masonry, instead of the usual crooked posts. Here were Chug Springs, the head of a branch stream, and from thence we went over what we were told was the toughest divide in the whole country. The heat was scorching over the dreary, dusty wastes of sand and alkali, where hardly the cactus could find sustenance. This was our first glimpse of the Mauvaises Terres, the alkali-lands, which turn up their white linings here and there, but do not quite prevail on this side the Platte. The Black Hills of Wyoming, with their dark jagged outlines, gave life to the backward view, and when they were concealed Laramie Peak appeared on the left—a mountain of noble form and color. At Eagle's Nest the yellow bluffs again started up, opening with a striking gateway, through which a fine picture of the blue peak showed itself down a dry valley, a chimney rock in the foreground giving emphasis to the view. The bluffs disappeared, and there was again the desert, and always the desert, with its heat and dust. Our four shining black mules went bravely on, however, and at five o'clock we came in sight of Fort Laramie, a little brown spot far away over the plain. In less than an hour we arrived at the post in a whirlwind of dust.

We were expected, for had we not followed the telegraph-wires? Utter strangers as we were, at once we were made to feel at home, and everything was done for the comfort of the weary travelers. A description of this fort will do for all the rest, though this is one of the oldest, largest and most important posts. There is no sort of fortification whatever: a large parade-ground, nearly destitute of [pg 696] grass and planted with half-dead trees, is surrounded by the barracks and quarters, neat, low buildings, and beyond, at one end, are the ordnance and sutler's stores. A hospital and a large old barrack called Bedlam tower above the rest: more buildings straggle away toward the Laramie River, where there is a bridge. The position commands the river and bluffs. No grass, no gardens, no irrigation, no vegetables nor anything green is here. One good-sized cottonwood, perhaps coeval with the post, seemed as much of a veteran as the old artilleryman, a character always pointed out to strangers, who has lived at the post ever since it was a post, and is distinguished as the ugliest man there. His seamed and scarred face looks as if it had been through many storms and many Indian fights. Another distinguished character is the pet elk, a privileged person, who abuses his privileges by walking into houses and eating up hats, shoes, window-curtains, toys—anything to satisfy his voracious appetite.

On the 14th of July we were off for Fort Fetterman. To our surprise, the morning was delicious, though the mercury at noon the day before had ranged at over 100° in the shade. Laramie Peak was still in sight, and was so, in fact, for weeks, till upon nearer acquaintance the fine old mountain became a friend for life. The country was still wilder and lonelier than that we had seen, and not a single habitation lay upon our route. All had been burnt by the Indians. We followed at some distance the right bank of the North Platte, all day over a barren country of low hills and scattered pines, bounded by a range of whitish bluffs beyond the river. We halted a few moments at Warm Spring, where a clear basin of tepid water bubbled and boiled and overflowed into a good-sized brook. Then on to Big Bitter Cottonwood, where we had our nooning among the trees on the wide sandy bed of the stream, which had sunk under ground for many miles, as is the custom of rivers here. It gushed forth near by, however, in copious springs, which gave us abundance of water and supported quite a luxuriant growth of vegetation. Wild currants delighted the children, clematis twined its white blossoms among the scarlet buffalo-berries, graceful osiers waved in the wind, and wild flowers were plentiful. It was a pleasant place among the wilds, and had perhaps been a happy home, for here were the ruins of a ranch burnt by the Indians. Here, too, were other ruins—of beaver-dams, built by the first settlers of all.

Leaving this creek, we went on to Little Bitter Cottonwood, a similar dry creek, but smaller and more lightly timbered. Then passing some more low hills with a few pines, always with the Platte on the right and Laramie Peak on the left, we crossed a long hill or divide called Bull Bend, and descended into the fine valley of Horseshoe Creek. We were now upon the old Overland Route to California, once so much traveled, but now deserted for the railroad. Here was the abode of Jack Slade, one of the station-masters on that famous stage-road—a man of bad reputation, and more than suspected of having been a freebooter, and even a murderer. This did not prevent his station from being one of the best on the road, his horses always good, his meals easily bolted. Of him and of his band you may read the history in Mark Twain's Roughing It. After the railroad was finished the Indians descended upon these lonely ranches in the valley of the Platte, now left out in the cold: they attacked Slade's house one morning in force, and there was a savage fight. Jack and his band succeeded in driving them off, but the next day the Indians returned in larger numbers, killed some of the whites and burnt the ranch. We next hear of Jack Slade in Montana, where he took to his old trade again. The Vigilants thought they must "draw the line somewhere," so they drew it at Jack Slade. He escaped several times the threatened vengeance, saved by the intercession of his wife, a faithful and determined woman, but he did not mend his ways. One day, when she was absent, they took him and hung him to a tree. Strange to say, he did not "die [pg 697] game." His wife came galloping in on the scene, but it was too late: all was over for Jack Slade. It was strange and interesting to hear this wild story in the very spot where it happened—to see the blackened ruins and the graves of those who fell in that long day's struggle, the lonely bluffs that once looked down on Jack Slade's ranch and echoed to the trot of his famous teams. The creek here makes a wide bend, leaving a fertile intervale where thousands of cattle could graze: the trees are always green, the river never dry. About three o'clock we came to our camping-ground among the timber on the clear stream, over against the inevitable bluffs. Fire had destroyed some of the finest trees, and on the great black trunks sat flocks of chattering blackbirds, the little chickadee's familiar note was heard, and a crane flew away with his long legs behind him, just as he looks on a Japanese tray. The scene of encamping is ever new and delightful. The soldiers are busy in pitching tents, unloading wagons and gathering wood; horses and mules are whinnying, rolling and drinking; Jeff, the black cook, is kindling a fire in his stove; children are running about, and groups in bright colors are making, unconsciously, all sorts of charming effects among the white wagons and green trees.

We spread our blankets in the shade and dream. The children's voices sound pleasantly. They are bathing in a still pool which the eddy makes behind the bushes, though the cool clear water is rushing down fast from Laramie Peak. It seems as if we were almost at the world's end, so lonely is the place, but there is nothing to fear. Indians will not attack so large a party as ours. A strong wind rises and sways the willows, making the wild scene wilder than ever; a blood-red sunset flames from the horizon to the upper sky: and as it darkens, and the wolves begin to howl, we think of Jack Slade and all the wild stories we have heard of robbers and fights and Indian massacres.

At reveille we all started up. It was 4-1/2 A.M. Had we slept? We knew not. All had been blankets and—blank. A pail of water and a tin basin, a little "Colgate" for cosmetic, on went the warm flannels, and we were ready by five o'clock for breakfast in the dining-tent. Here we had camp-stools and tables, and upon the latter coffee, beef-steaks, fried potatoes, preserves and olives. Though all our meals had to be very much alike, they were always excellent and did credit to the commissariat. As Carlyle remarks, "Honor be to the man who cans! He is Canning, König, or King!" How people lived here before the days of canned vegetables it is hard to imagine. Before six we were packed and off again. The morning ride in the cool invigorating air, before the heat of the day came on, was the most delightful of our experiences.

Winding first through a pass between hills of sandstone and rubble, where moss-agates are found (an excellent place for an ambush), we followed the same sort of country as before over a succession of small creeks and divides. These table-lands were always barren, and covered with the same thin gray vegetation, but sometimes adorned with a few flowers—the beautiful agemone or prickly poppy, with its blue-green leaves, large white petals and crown of golden stamens; the pretty fragrant abronia, and the white oenothera. A deep pink convolvulus was common, which grew upon a bush, not on a vine, and was a large and thrifty plant. Sage and wormwood were seen everywhere, and on the streams we found larkspur, aconite, little white daisies and lungwort, lupines and the ever-present sunflower. But usually all was barren—barren hills, barren valleys, barren plains. Sometimes we came upon tracts of buffalo-grass, a thin, low, wiry grass that grows in small tufts, and does not look as if there were any nourishment in it, but is said to be more fattening than corn. Our animals ate it with avidity. Was not all this dreary waste wearily monotonous and tame? Monotonous, yes; but no more tame than the sea is tame. We sailed along day after day over the land-waves as on a voyage. To ride over [pg 698] those lonely divides in the fresh morning air made us feel as if we had breakfasted on flying-fish. We felt what Shelley sings of the power of "all waste and solitary places;" we felt their boundlessness, their freedom, their wild flavor; we were penetrated with their solemn beauty. Here the eyesight is clearer, the mind is brighter, the observation is quickened: every animal, insect and bird makes its distinct impression, every object its mark. There is something on the Plains that cannot be found elsewhere—something which can be felt better than described—something you must go there to find.

Under the superb blue sky we went on and on, over a country all tops and bottoms, some of the bottoms with wet creeks, most of them with dry. We lunched at a pretty creek, a wet one, called La Bonté (it is charming to find the soft French and Spanish names so common here), a pleasant timbered stream, and a great place for Indian massacres. The ruins of the ranches once standing in this valley are still to be seen, and the graves of a lieutenant and twenty-four soldiers killed by the Indians many years ago.

The afternoon sun blazed upon the low hills, mere heaps of rubble like old moraines, where sometimes a little red sandstone cropped out and gave the wearied eyes a change of color. Always the noble vault of sky, the flying cloud-shadows, the Laramie range with its torn outlines softened by distance, which looked so near, yet was so far. Constantly we said, "How like to Arabia or Palestine!" We only asked for camels to make the resemblance perfect. The gray sage-brush tinted the long low solemn hills like the olives of Judaea; the distant bluffs looked like ruined cities; the mirage was our Dead Sea. The cattle- and sheep-farmers follow the same business as Abraham and Isaac, and are as sharp in their dealings as Jacob of old. The Indians are our Bedouins, and like them they "fold their tents and silently steal." Once in looking back the illusion was perfect. The Sea of Galilee was behind us, and upon its banks stood the old cities of Capernaum and Nazareth towered and walled and gray. We had not then seen the verses of Joaquin Miller, in which he expresses the same idea in better words—in words of prophecy.

After a long hot ride we were glad to see the flag waving over Fort Fetterman, though the signs of human habitation did not seem to belong there. The post is not as large as Fort Laramie, but otherwise as like it as one pea to another, and stands in the same way at the junction of a stream (La Prele) with the Platte, upon a bluff that commands the two rivers. The view from thence at the moment of sunset was impressive—of the two streams, bordered with green, and the vast country beyond the Platte, more barren and alkaline even than the nearer side.

At the fort we found the same kindness and hospitality as at Laramie. Our quarters were in a large empty house, the abode of the commanding officer of the post, then absent with his family, where we were made very comfortable. Our meals were provided at other officers' quarters, and everything was done for our entertainment. Our rooms were on the ground floor, and we were startled at reveille to see five or six dogs leap in at the open windows and run about the floor. Just awakened, we hardly knew in the dim light what manner of wild beasts they might be. Afterward, we heard that this was the custom in the family. A pet porcupine in the house amused us very much. He was a grotesque little creature, and very tame and affectionate, following the servant about like a little dog, and fondling her feet. His quills had been drawn or shed, but they were beginning to grow again, like pin-feathers.

In this quiet, kindly little post nothing seems ever to happen, but the air is full of Indian rumors. A Gatling gun, pointed at the universe, seemed to promise the enemy a sharp reception if a scare ever came. This diabolical little mitrailleuse would not be pleasant to look upon as it ground out grim death in such a matter-of-fact way. A few days were very agreeably spent at Fetterman (of which the very name tells of Indian murders), and there we found courteous, educated [pg 699] men and gracious, lovely women. It was wonderful what elegant little entertainments they managed to give us in this far-away outpost of civilization.

On Saturday, July 18, we set out to return to Fort Laramie. The route was the same, and nothing occurred to vary it save the little incidents, not worth telling, which yet give the real charm to a journey. Our party was made still larger by the addition of some mounted traders and their train of wagons. It was always pleasant to see them, for there are no such riders as upon the frontier, where every one sits easily and perfectly, and the large boots and the sombreros make every man a picture. Again we were on La Bonté at noon, on Horseshoe at night. We begin to feel at home here, and it is truly a place to like, with its many bird-voices and rushing breezes. We encamp; the soldiers laugh and sing; a simple joke seems to go a great way; one lassos another, and all roar when he misses. The steam of cooking rises on the air: we feel again the charm of camp-life, and our sleep is sweet in the night. Once more the morning red flashes upon the sky, then changes to yellow and to gray. Clouds come over, the roaring wind that always blows at Horseshoe scatters the limbs from the burnt trees, but it will not rain. No such luck, but it will be cool and pleasant for our journey. Passing by the ruins of Jack Slade's ranch, the long curve of the Horseshoe, the bluffs and the plains, we are once more at Fort Laramie, and sitting in the cool evening air upon the friendly verandah of Major W——, hearing the band play.

Our stay at the post was short, but we had time to attend a charming little ball given us by the officers, and to drive along the really pretty banks of the Laramie. And now we were to leave them once more for a wilder country still, the Indian Territory itself, and to visit Red Cloud and Spotted Tail agencies, the names of which alone gave us a sense of adventure and of nearness to savage life. Our escort was increased to fifty men, under command of Captain S—— and two lieutenants, and we took along with us a large supply-train for the agencies of about thirty wagons, so that, numbering the teamsters and drivers, our party was at least one hundred strong.

Fording the Platte, a large deep stream, was a little unpleasant to us novices, for we tumbled about a great deal over the stones in the river-bed, and felt as if an upset was quite possible. The crossing is sometimes dangerous, and there is a rope-ferry, but to-day the water was low and fordable with ease. We are now no longer in the United States, but in the Indian country. No ladies have ever taken this journey before except the wives of the agents, who have been there but a few weeks. In fact, these agencies were only established a short time ago and the Indians are not yet very friendly to them. The country was wilder, vaster and more barren than ever, with fewer streams and broader divides. Tantalizing showers flying across the distant mountains did not cool the dry, hot air. At noon we began to see a long detached ridge, an advanced post of the Rockies, called Rawhide Peak, and at night we camped on Rawhide Creek, a rather desolate stream, without timber, bordered only with shrubs and weeds. It seemed cheerful, however, upon its stony banks with such a gay crowd as we had, so many soldiers and other people about, with their wagons, horses, mules, tents and mess-chests. But a great black cloud was rising over Rawhide Peak, and just as we were seated comfortably at dinner down came the whirlwind upon us, nearly blew over our tent, and covered our dinner with a thick coating of the dust of the Plains. Beds, clothing, hair, mouths, noses, were full of the fine gray powder. What if our dinner was spoiled? 'Twas but the fortune of war. The blow was soon over, and we managed to dine off the scraps, so as not to go quite hungry to bed. The rain poured down for five minutes, and laid the dust when too late, the sky cleared, and a wonderful rainbow, three deep, appeared in the east. The sunset was one not to be forgotten. The deep blue-black of Rawhide Peak, cut sharp by the [pg 700] clear gleaming apricot sky, and above the flying clouds, wavered and pulsed with color and flame. We watched them by the camp-fire till twilight faded and moon and stars shone with desert brilliancy. Shaking the dust from our beds as a testimony against the spiteful spirits of Rawhide Peak, we slept with our usual profundity. Always, however, before bedtime we had to go through the little ceremony of removing the burs from our clothing, for every plant in this country seems to have a bur or a tick-seed, and we found a new one in every camp. Sometimes they were arrows or needles an inch long, sometimes triangles with sharp corners, sometimes little spiked balls, sometimes long bags with prongs. There was no end to their number and variety, and they grew to be one of our studies.

After the first wrench of waking, the morning, from dawn to sunrise, was always beautiful. It amused us while dressing to watch the ears of the mules moving against the pale yellow sky, and the men, like black ghosts, stealing about. We crossed a wide, noble mesa clothed with buffalo-grass: there was no heat, no dust, and the long caravan before us made, as usual, a moving picture. The desert looked more like Palestine than ever, with the low buttes and sandhills yellow in the distance. "Towered cities called us then," yet when we reached them we found but desolation, "and the fox looked out of the window." The queer little horned frogs, lizards, rattlesnakes and coyotes were the sole inhabitants. "Them sandhills," we were told, "tracks across the country for a thousand mile."

Our next halt was at Niobrara Creek, called also L'eau qui court and Running Water, These three names (all with the same meaning) are far prettier than the place. Not a stick of timber, not a shrub, can be seen upon its banks. There was a flowing stream, a wide meadow, full of what looked like pink clover, but was only a bitter weed, and behind and before us the desert, in which our lively little camp was the only life to be seen. We soon found that we were not beyond the power of the spirits of Rawhide Peak. "O'er the far blue mountain" came the whirlwind punctually at dinner-time, but, fortunately, we had been somewhat beforehand with it, and had already stowed away our soup safely. The dust could not get at the champagne which we drank in honor of a wedding anniversary. Lighting our camp-fire, we forgot all else in listening to stories of the war and its heroic life; of Indian scares and massacres; of handfuls of men defending themselves behind their dead horses and driving back the foe; of brave young fellows lying cold and mutilated upon the Plains; of freezing storms of snow and hail; and of the many hair-breadth 'scapes and perils of the wilderness, till we all became Desdemonas of the hour. We felt that though we were probably as safe as ever in our lives, yet there were possibilities that gave our position just enough spice of danger to be exciting.

Looking out during the night, I saw a misshapen gibbous moon, of a strange green-cheese color, setting between the four legs of a mule, whose body made an arched frame for it. The effect was most grotesque. A ride on horseback next morning over the fresh breezy divide was a charming change from the monotonous 'bus. How the larks sang for us on that bright morning! and coyotes and blackbirds with white wings fled away before us. A little after noon we struck the sources of the White River, pleasant springs on a hillside, bubbling forth among the first trees we had seen since we left the Laramie. Then we descended into a fine shady valley: all our old friends were there in thickets—the box-elder, willow, birch and cottonwood, the alder, osier and wild cherry, currant, gooseberry, buffalo-berry and clematis. As we went on, brushing through the thick foliage, the hills on either side became higher, and grew into bastions, castles, donjon-keeps and fantastic clustered chimneys, like Scott's description of the valley of St. John. The river went circling about through the intervale, so that we had to cross it constantly upon the little bridges made [pg 701] during the White River expedition in the February before. It was pleasant thus to wind along under the overarching boughs, coming frequently upon some pretty reach of the stream, where we could watch the cavalcade crossing, dashing out from under the bushes or watering the horses, while the heavy white-topped wagons plunged into the water and slowly mounted the opposite bank. In the distance the men were scouring the hillsides for deer, and perhaps looking out a little for Indians also. We went on in military order, with mounted pickets in advance, in the rear and on both sides; not that there was any danger, but an Indian is an inscrutable mystery, a wolf on two legs, and it is not easy to know what he may do.

The valley grew wider and spread into a great bare plain, still bordered with pine-sprinkled bluffs, through which the river dodged about without any apparent reason, and wherever it went the trees followed. Before we came in sight of the agency we were met by several officers and traders, glad of a little change of society. They conducted us to our camp on a pleasant rising ground about a mile from the agency, overlooking the cavalry and infantry camps in front and rear. It is a wild, lonely, fascinating place, this White River Valley, shut out from the world by its castled bluffs, though should we climb them we should only find another desert. We dined under a bower of pine boughs beside our tents, that served for a parlor. In the evening everybody called to see us, including the only two ladies in the place, wives of the traders, who looked too delicate to bear the hardships of the wilderness. Perhaps the hardships are not great, but the loneliness must be terrible in the long, long winters.

The next day we drove over to the agency, eager to see the Indian dance that had been promised us. The place consists of several government and private buildings surrounded by a stockade. When we arrived a large number of Indians were already there, mostly squaws and children, mounted on ponies and dressed in their gayest blankets and embroideries. Their ponies are very pretty, small, gracefully-formed horses, not clumsy as we had expected. The mantles of the squaws were of deer-skin, but covered entirely with beads, the groundwork of deep sky-blue ones, with gay stiff figures in brilliant colors. They were gracefully cut, somewhat like a "dolman," and had a rich, gorgeous effect in the crowd. Most of them wore necklaces of "thaqua"—the quill-like white shell which is brought from the Pacific, and serves them for small change—and heavy earrings of the same shells, a quarter of a yard long. Their ears were slit from top to bottom to hold these great earrings: sometimes they wore two pairs, with heavy mother-of-pearl shells at the end of each. The necklaces covered the whole chest, like a bib or a breastplate. The parting of their long black hair was painted red, and their cheeks daubed with red, yellow and blue. Most of them had flat faces and flat noses: very few were in the least good-looking. Hundreds were waiting outside the gates, among them some half-breed boys.

Soon the braves began to come in. With a glass we could see great numbers of them winding out of the hills from their hidden camps, well mounted and flashing with bright arms and gay trappings. It was a strange, wonderful scene of motion and color, with the gray, unchangeable desert and the pale walls of the buttes for a background. The men came crowding, tearing in at a great pace, and soon we could see the dancing-party dashing along in all their feathers and war-paint, an inconceivably wild, savage cavalcade. On they rushed, beating a great drum in solemn cadence, shouting, blowing fifes, and firing their pieces into the air. There was as much noise as on a Fourth of July. We had to stand back to let them pass, for there was a scene of the wildest confusion as they all, horse and foot, rushed pell-mell into the stockade, followed closely by the squaws and children on their spirited ponies. It was a piece of real savage life. Following after them, we went up into the second story of the [pg 702] agent's house, where we could look down upon the barbaric crowd. The squaws made a brilliant circle all round the inside of the enclosure, gay as a terrace of flowers. About fifteen men squatted round the big drum, which must have been five or six feet in diameter, and began a weird song, interspersed with grunts and yells. It had a measured cadence, but not a semblance of music. Meanwhile the braves who were to join in the dance formed themselves into two circles of about thirty men each, and the rest sat upon their horses, looking imperturbable. The principal chiefs did not join in the dance, and two or three came up into the room where we were.

The dresses of the dancers were varied and splendid. Most of them wore the usual trousers or Indian leggings of blue cloth, cut off below the hips, with another cloth for the loins, and those that had no trousers had their legs painted. Embroidered blankets of blue or red cloth, moccasins, belts, tobacco-pouches, and cases for scalping-knives, all beaded, with glittering arms and tomahawks, hung about them everywhere, but the chief piece of finery was the war-bonnet; and a tremendous show it made. A turban of fur or scarlet cloth went round the head, adorned with tall eagles' feathers in a crown, such as we see upon the wooden figures before cigar-shops, and from this hung down a long piece of scarlet cloth, about a quarter of a yard wide, and long enough to trail on the ground a yard or two behind. This was ornamented with a fringe of eagles' feathers on each edge, like the backbone of a fish, and as it waved about nothing could be more superb. The savage dandies were evidently proud of their appearance, and to say that they were "got up regardless of expense" was simply a fact, for their wardrobes must have cost considerable sums—half a dozen ponies at least. Standing in a circle, they danced, shouting and singing. It was a slow measured step, but no more like dancing than their singing was like singing. Another gorgeous circle was formed on the other side of the stockade, and both parties kept up this weird dance with great gravity. One young fellow laughed, twisted about, and conducted himself a little like a harlequin. All held the hands upon the haunches and bent forward. This was called an Omaha dance. After a while all stopped dancing, and one of the squad of chiefs rode into the circle and began to relate his experience, while at every pause the emphasis was given by a strange roll of the drum. He was telling some savage exploit, the interpreter said, against the Pawnees. The crowd applauded with wild grunts and savage cries. Then the circle rose and danced again, then another chief spoke, and so on, some on foot and some on horseback, till one whom we had selected as the most grotesque horror of the whole came into the circle. He was painted all over a greenish-rhubarb color, like a stagnant pool: his chin was blue, his face was streaked with red. He wore a very short shirt of deer-skin, with a very deep fringe of black horsehair. Though sansculotte, his legs were painted with red and blue hands on the rhubarb ground: all over his horse were these red and blue hands and red stripes, and the beast had a red mane and tail. This villain, who had a most appropriate name, unmentionable to ears polite, completed his charms with a great pair of blue goggles. The red stripes upon his horse signified how many horses he had taken—the red hands, the number of prisoners.

The names of these fellows, as translated for us by the interpreter, were odd enough. Besides the great chiefs, Red Cloud and Spotted Tail, there were Red Dog, Red Leaf, Red Horse, Little Wound, White Crane Walking, Man Afraid of (Losing) his Horses, Crow that don't like Water, Man who Sings in the Long Grass, Turkey Legs, Lone Horn, Sitting Bull, Spider, Yellow Bear, Blue Horse, Two Strike, White Crow, Long John, Friday, Face, Hand, Man that Sleeps under the Water, Man that Looks the Sun blind, Wish, Three Bears, Blue Tomahawk, White Thunder, etc., etc. These Indians were Sioux of the wildest kind, about as savage as any there are. Our lives were in their hands, and [pg 703] they were well mounted and well armed. Still, we were safe enough so near the camp, for they are very prudent, and never attack unless they are five to one. Besides, they have rations given them every ten days by government, and they don't quarrel much with their bread and butter. In fact, they are paupers, and we are all taxed to support them and the army which is more than necessary as a police to keep them in order. When the dance was half over about twenty soldiers came into the gate and produced quite a panic among the squaws and children, who shrieked with terror and rushed toward the larger gate. The braves did not think it the correct thing to show any fear.

One might live a thousand years at the East and never see anything so wonderful as this dance: it is impossible to give a true idea of its life and color. It was the real thing, not a theatrical or Cooperesque imitation. All was new to us, and we were probably as new and strange to most of our entertainers. Many crowded round us with evident curiosity, desiring to shake hands with us and to say, "How? Kola! (friend)." Those who could speak a few words of English plied us with questions as to our ages, the relationships that existed between us, whose squaws the ladies were, and whose were the little blond-haired children. Certain articles of finery seemed to be greatly valued among them, such as red, white and blue umbrellas, like those used as signs in our cities; patchwork and Marseilles quilts; orange shirts and green dresses; pink and pearl shells; little bells; small mirrors; and beads about four inches long made of fine pipeclay. These beads cost a dollar and a half each, and are made especially for them in one place in Massachusetts. They wear them in rows of twenty or thirty on the breast, making quite an expensive necklace.

The dance lasted, perhaps, two hours. After all were tired presents were brought and laid upon the ground, consisting of hard-tack, calico, etc. All through the dance the wind was blowing the dust about in clouds, and the Indians held their blankets and fans of eagles' feathers to their eyes. Several wore blue goggles—we knew not whether for use or beauty.



It seems like a long, long while ago since Uncle Joseph told it to me as a recollection of his youthful days; and as Uncle Joseph was then no longer young, it must have been long, long ago that it happened. It was dull work sitting day after day on the hard benches and listening to lectures on therapeutics and anatomy which I had already heard twice verbatim—for I was a third-course student—and it was scarcely more entertaining to sit alone in my cozy little chamber and pore over the dry details of my medical textbooks. How often would my gaze wander through the attic-window to rest upon the broad blue bosom of the Ashley, and watch the course of the rippling current which flashed and glistened in the October sunlight! It was very hard to fix my mind upon the contra-indications of calomel and the bromides while the snowy gulls were circling gracefully over the gliding waters, and the noisy crows were leading my thoughts across the stream to the island thickets where I knew the wild-deer lay. I remember how I used to interpret their cawing into mocking laughter because I had no wings to follow them into those shady fastnessess, which were filled by my hunter's fancy with all kinds of temptations to manly sport. And [pg 704] then, just as I was about to turn; with a great effort from the alluring scene, there would be a sudden commotion among the distant wavelets, and a huge white mass would flash for a moment in the sunshine as the enormous devil-fish of the Carolina waters would spring into the air in his unwieldy gambols, and fall again with a mighty splash into his native element.

"Then you had better have had your study-hours at night." I am sure that's what you are thinking. I thought so too, and put the thought into practice; but then it would be moonlight sometimes, and the white beams would shimmer on the water, and the regular beat and dash of the oars would come to my ears in time with the wild, chanting melody of the boatmen's song. That was just the way of it on the night when I heard this story; and when my cigar had burned out and the autumn air had begun to chill me with its fresh, crisp breath, I said to myself, "It's of no use. I'll shut the old book and spend an hour with Uncle Joseph."

The moon did not have it all her own way that night, notwithstanding her tempting brightness. There was a threatening scud over the harbor to the eastward, and the freshening sea-breeze brought an occasional warning murmur from the breakers on the distant bar. By the time I had made all my little arrangements and stepped out on the quiet street, I found my light waterproof quite comfortable, and prudently went back for a moment to exchange my night-cane for an umbrella. When I reached the end of my walk the cold rain was already beginning to fall, and the wind was gustily hurrying round the corners of the streets and rattling the loose tin upon the housetops. A very few minutes elapsed between my three raps with the old-fashioned brass knocker and the appearance of the neat-looking servant who opened the door. But I may as well use the brief opportunity to tell you that Uncle Joseph was not my uncle at all, and that my habit of calling him so had grown out of a long intimacy with certain nephews and nieces who were very dear to the old gentleman's heart. They were all scattered now—the older girls married and gone, the younger away at school, and the two boys, my childhood and boyhood friends, completing their professional education at a foreign university. But still I loved to visit Uncle Joseph, and he always had a warm and kindly welcome for me. None knew better than he the kind of entertainment most likely to please a young friend and attract him from places of idle amusement; and I knew that a well-timed evening-call at his bachelor home meant a dozen or two of oysters, a glass of old brown sherry, a fragrant cigar and an hour's chat which was often instructive and never prosy.

On that particular night the oysters were fried to exactly the right shade of brown, and the delicate "mill-pond" flavor, so well known to every Charleston taste, was especially fine; the old sherry—just two glasses of it apiece-seemed milder and warmer and richer than ever before; and the havanas never seemed so fragrant. These were not limited, for Uncle Joseph smoked only in the evening, and he liked to keep an open box within reach of his hand. A little fire would have been more cheerful, but it was hardly late enough in the season, and we made out very well for a cozy evening by drawing our easy-chairs to the sides of the little centre-table, and getting the cigar-box and ash-holder at a convenient distance between us.

Uncle Joseph was not eccentric, nor was there anything extravagant in the general style of his housekeeping; but the furniture of this little sitting-room was unique, and could not have been duplicated for a very large sum of money. It required a close degree of observation to discover that several articles in common use were really specimens of rare virtu, and everything indicated that the owner had been a traveler, fond of collecting mementos of the distant lands which he had visited; but whether his travels had been those of a mercantile sea-captain or of a wandering gentleman of leisure would have been hard to determine. There was a neat walnut bookcase with well-filled [pg 705] shelves, on the top of which stood a large glass case containing a huge stuffed albatross, and just opposite was a small but exquisitely-carved Venetian cabinet adorned with grotesque heads of men and animals, and surmounted by a small square case in which was a beautifully-mounted specimen of the little spotted brown owl of Greece, the species so common among the ruins of the Acropolis. On the mantelpiece were a small bronze clock, a quaint Chinese teapot and a pair of delicately-flowered Sèvres vases. On the table the engraved tooth of a sperm whale did duty as a paper-weight, a miniature gondola held an inkstand and pens, and a sprig of red coral with a sabre-shaped ivory blade formed the most beautiful paper-knife I ever saw. A single oil-painting hung on the wall—a finely-executed marine representing two stately ships becalmed near each other on a glassy sea under the glare of a tropical sun—and in a corner, resting upon a light stand, the top of which was a charming Florentine mosaic, was a polished brass box containing a ship's compass. I had been from boyhood familiar with all these things, but I never tired of looking at them, especially at the albatross and the owl—the former so suggestive of Coleridge and the unfathomable depths of the far-away Indian Ocean, and the latter always leading my thoughts away back to the fierce-eyed Athene and her Homeric compeers.

Uncle Joseph got up and unlocked the Venetian cabinet to put away the decanter, his invariable habit as soon as the second glass was filled. As he did so there was a clink as of glass against glass, and the old gentleman hastily took out a small, dusty black bottle, examined it with great care and returned it with evident relief: "I was afraid I had carelessly broken the last bottle of that precious Constantia which I brought with me from the Cape of Good Hope. It is strange that no soil will grow that wine but that of one little vineyard under the South African sun."

"Uncle Joseph, you never told me anything about your voyages. But what are you keeping that wine for?" "To drink a welcome home to Joe when he returns from Europe next month. You must dine with us the day after he gets back. Will has still another year at Göttingen."

"Nothing would give me more pleasure."

"You spoke of my voyages just now: have you never heard the story of my early life?"

"Never, Uncle Joseph," I answered eagerly. "Can't you tell me all about it to-night?"

"Well, perhaps I may. That bottle of wine suggested memories of a singular and sad incident, and the sound of that storm without recalls it all as if it were yesterday. It happened on the homeward passage when I made my last voyage to the Cape, and I have never since looked at that Constantia without thinking of it."

The old gentleman walked across the room and gazed long and earnestly at the picture of the ships; then he seemed to find something very interesting in the compass-box on the stand; then he locked the cabinet, and lighting a cigar stretched himself back in his easy-chair, and smoked for a while with closed eyes. I sat thoughtful and silent until he roused himself with a slight effort: "Draw a chair for your feet, Frank, and take a fresh cigar: you'll find them very mild. Go to sleep if I get prosy when fairly wound off on my yarn. I am going to begin at the very starting-place.

"Of course you know I am an Englishman, for you were quite old enough, when you first knew us all at Stewart's hotel on Broad street, to remember now all about it. The children were then in mourning for their dear mother, but lately dead, and had just come over to make their home with me. My father was a clergyman, possessed of an independent fortune and holding a comfortable living in a sea-coast town some twenty miles from Liverpool, where I was born four years after my only brother. There were only the two of us, and my earliest recollections are connected with the dangerous and mischievous pranks which John and I used to play in and upon the waters of the Irish [pg 706] Sea. I always was fond of John, as I believe he was of me, but he was a domineering fellow, never satisfied unless he had the lead in everything: very dull at his books, but quite handsome, even when a lad, and having a certain smartness about him which was very taking. He was the elder son, and the favorite of my father, though my mother never showed any partiality between us. John never treated me well. Heaven knows, I have no unkind thoughts of him for it now, poor fellow! but I wish to tell you the whole story exactly as it was. I was a fair scholar, and generally had my own tasks to do, and John's also. I worked out all his hard sums and problems, construed his Virgil while I was only reading Caesar, and often wrote his Greek exercise when I was almost too sleepy to keep my eyes open. The consequence was that my own lessons were often neglected, and if I got a caning for my failure, I had no sympathy from John, although it was the price I paid for his good mark."

"It was confoundedly mean of him," I remarked, knocking the ashes from my cigar. But Uncle Joseph did not notice the interruption.

"In short, I was John's fag at school, though not at all a willing one, and the situation was quietly accepted for me at home. My father was singularly blind to my brother's faults. His ambition was to purchase the patronage of his living and have John succeed to it; but we both preferred paddling about in the salt water, and holding a sheet in the fishermen's smacks with a stiff norther after us, to studying our catechism or making Hebrew letters. We were both expert and fearless swimmers, with good wind and strong limbs. In after years I remember well a wager which I lost at Honolulu to remain under water as long as a famous Kanacka diver: I rose just four seconds before him. When I was thirteen I could cast a line, manage a spritsail, pull an oar or handle a tiller as well as any boy on the north coast of England. John was equally fond of the water, but his constant habit of putting the heavy work on me prevented his becoming as good a practical sailor as I was. No man can make a good sea-captain who has not had plenty of experience in splicing sheet-ropes and climbing shrouds. In our vacations we had plenty of pocket-money and went about pretty much as we pleased; and we frequently ran down the coast to Liverpool on board some of the small vessels which sailed from our bay. On these trips we often amused ourselves with the masters' instruments, which were rough and simple enough. John had a good weather-eye, and could take an observation as well as any old salt, but he never had patience to use a logarithm table, and I always did the calculations. It was only amusement for me then, but served me many a good turn afterward. Well, things went on in this way for several years, and meantime my home was not pleasant to me. I grew restless and dissatisfied under the restraints and mortifications of my secondary position; and, besides, as the younger son I knew I should have to make my own way in the world. Our mother had gone to her rest, John's domineering ways had grown on him, and my father, absorbed in his parochial and literary work, and more wrapped up in his eldest son than ever, seemed to have no definite plans for my future."

Uncle Joseph's cigar had gone out, and he had not noticed it until now. He struck a match and relit it, and smoked thoughtfully and in silence for several minutes. The wind had fallen, and the rain, which had been driving against the windows, was now coming down heavily with a steady, monotonous splash.

"About this time an event took place which has left a lasting impression upon my life. The old physician who had held the village practice for forty years died suddenly of apoplexy, and his successor was a gentleman of high culture—an Oxford wrangler, it was said—about forty years of age, with a daughter of sixteen, an only child. Of course the first time I saw her at church I fell desperately in love: boys always do that with a new face. She was a sprightly girl, with soft blue eyes, dark hair, fair complexion, white teeth, a [pg 707] lithe figure and a smiling, roguish mouth."

Uncle Joseph seemed to be talking to himself, not to me, and I thought he started when I exclaimed, "Why, Jane might have sat for that picture! You describe her exactly as she was when I saw her last, just before she left home for St. Mary's Hall."

"So she might, Frank, but I was not thinking of her then. The doctor's daughter was not a bit romantic, and her name was just plain Ellen Jones. But boys will be boys. It was not a week before I found that John was as much in love as I was, and he was soon paying marked attentions to the young lady. I knew at once, from long experience, that my chance was gone; and indeed it was only a boyish fancy with me, after all, for I was too young to think of marrying.

"One day we had an adventure which I often think of now when I look at that picture hanging there. Two of the fishermen had bought new boats, about the same size, but differing somewhat in rig and model, and there was much talk about their respective sailing qualities. A stiff breeze was blowing and some ugly clouds were gathering to seaward, but John proposed that we should try the boats for a short sail, and with the owners' consent we pushed off to round the outer buoy and back as a test of speed. The boats had each a single spritsail, but I felt sure that John's carried too much canvas and would not behave well in a gale. We soon got them on the wind, and were sailing pretty evenly together when I heard the muttering of distant thunder. A moment more and the sails were flapping heavily, everything was still as death, but the white-caps were plain enough to what had been the leeward a short time before. We were a good mile from shore, and I called out to John to look out for flaws, and put my boat about on a homeward tack. Without a moment's warning the gale burst upon us, and as my own boat bowed gracefully to the wind and threw the water from her bows, I saw John's mast quiver and bend as a large sea swept over the gunwale and drenched him from head to foot. 'Let go your sheet!' I shouted, 'and luff her up into the wind.' But instead of doing so, he hauled powerfully upon the swelling sail, put his helm hard down, and the next moment the boat was tossing bottom up, and John was struggling in the seething waters. I had no fears for his life, for he was a powerful and skillful swimmer, and this was not the first upset for either of us; but I never was so deeply impressed before by John's bad seamanship. He gained the boat without difficulty, and clambered on to the upturned bottom, so that I had time to let go my sheet and double-reef my sail. I then bore down on him and took him aboard, and the two of us had little trouble in righting his boat and towing her ashore. I have mentioned the incident only because I always connect it in my mind with what happened long years afterward.

"Six months after this our father died, and John wished to be married at once. But Ellen, although she could not hide her attachment to him, steadily refused to engage herself on account of her invalid mother, whose only and devoted attendant she was. Fickleness was not one of my brother's faults, and he was true and steady in his love for the girl—how true and steady I never knew until I learned it from himself in my ship's cabin on the broad Atlantic. I found myself with a few thousand pounds and a careless guardian, from whom it was not difficult to get the money into my own hands. In a few weeks I left home for Liverpool, and I have never seen my native town since that day."

Uncle Joseph paused to light a fresh cigar, and then opened the cabinet and filled the two glasses again. It was the only time I ever knew him to do such a thing.

"Of course I looked naturally to the water, and saw for the first time a prospect of gratifying my boyish longing for the sea. My funds were sufficient to enable me to purchase a pretty staunch little barque and part interest in her cargo of Wedgwood and Sheffield ware, and I sailed in her as a passenger for Naples and a market. It was a [pg 708] foolish venture, but my friends cared just enough about me to assist me in carrying out my plans, while none gave me serious advice. It turned out well, however, and my profits were quite large. Two other voyages, one to New York and the other to Valparaiso, turned out equally well, and meantime I was using my opportunities to study navigation practically under the direction of my master, an old and able seaman. My ambition was to command my own ship and carry my own cargo, a common thing in those days, when the merchant marine of England was generally officered by men who were the peers in every respect of those who held her naval commissions. I had some prudence, however, and therefore chartered my barque and sailed her as master two short voyages to Bremen and Amsterdam with the best under-officers I could secure. Having now full confidence in myself, I sold out, bought a fine new American ship, filled her with an assorted cargo, and cleared for Rio and the South Pacific. I was now twenty-six years old, and it was eight years since I had been at Liverpool, and ten since I had heard anything of John. After my father's death his old spirit had shown itself very offensively toward me, and we had parted in anger."

I saw that my old friend was deeply moved by the memories recalled by this part of his story, and partly as a relief to him and partly to gratify my curiosity, I asked him if any of the articles which adorned the room were mementoes of these voyages.

"Every one of them has a story," he replied. "I myself caught that albatross in the Straits of Magellan with a dolphin-line trolling astern. I should have let him go again, but he beat himself to death before we could get out the hook, and I amused myself by preparing and mounting the skin. That paper-knife has a sad history. I had it made in London. The blade is cut from a walrus's tooth given to me by a whaling-captain at Hawaii, and I bought the coral which forms the handle from a diver whom I saw bring it up on the Corsican coast. He made a wager with one of my crew that he could bring up another piece of equal value by diving from the ship, went over, and was seized by a shark as he reached the surface. I heard the cry of horror from the men, and rushed to the ship's side just in time to see the water crimson with his blood.

"In the spring of 1832 I accepted a very advantageous offer for charter, and with several passengers sailed for Cape Town on what proved to be my last voyage (excepting the return trip) as a ship-master. We had rough weather most of the way out, and a long passage, but nothing occurred which would interest you now. The season was a disastrous one to shipping on that route, and before leaving the Cape I had the vessel thoroughly overhauled, and was fortunate enough to secure three or four good seamen to make up a full crew. My first officer was an old salt, a strict disciplinarian, but kind to the men and a favorite with them all. Like most of his class, he was given to profanity in private conversation, but he never swore at the men, and always encouraged them at their work with cheery words. The weather was lovely when we sailed for home, and continued so until we were four days out. The ordinary routine of a master's duty was simple enough, and I had plenty of leisure for watching the beautiful Cape pigeons which followed the ship's wake, my favorite amusement when tired of reading. We were a little out of the common track of vessels in those seas, and sighted very few sail, none of which passed within hail. On the morning of the fifth day out I indulged myself a little, having been up quite late the night before studying the charts, and it being the first mate's watch, a man in whom I had great confidence. When I turned out I found the ship becalmed. We were not yet in the calm latitudes, and I did not altogether like the looks of the weather. The sea was as smooth as an immense expanse of blue steel; there was a long, low swell, like the memory of yesterday's breeze, but not a ripple could be detected by the glass in any quarter; the [pg 709] sky had an almost coppery glow, and the sun blazed down with a force which made all the seams of the deck-planks sticky with melting pitch. Still, the barometer was rising, and there was nothing to indicate danger. Although competent to perform skillfully all the duties of my profession, I had not, as you know, that long experience which alone can give a seaman thorough knowledge of all his perils even before they are apparent. I felt no apprehensions, therefore; and when I saw how Mr. Kelson was overhauling every rope and sail and spar, and making everything snug alow and aloft, I only congratulated myself on having an officer who kept the men too busy to get into mischief, and lost no opportunity for putting and keeping everything in order."

I now knew that Uncle Joseph was "fairly wound off" on his yarn, for I never before had heard him use so many sea-phrases. All of them I did not fully understand, but he was evidently thinking very little of me, and did not stop to explain.

"It was about four bells when the lookout in the cross-trees sung out, 'Sail ho!'

"'Where away?' I asked.

"'Broad on the port-beam," was the answer.

"I made out the vessel with my glass very easily from the deck, but paid no more attention to the matter until I came up from breakfast, an hour later. Not a ripple was stirring, nor a ghost of a breath of wind, but the two ships were several miles nearer, and evidently approaching, though their relative position was somewhat different. She was slowly drifting on one current, and we as slowly on another diagonally across her track. The stranger was a large Clyde-built ship, and carried far more canvas than was necessary in a calm, but I thought she might be drying her sails. I was waiting for her to get within hail, but her captain anticipated me and hailed first.

"'Ship ahoy!' came over the water, 'What ship is that?'

"The Ariadne, Alford master, from Cape Town for Portsmouth. What ship is that?' I replied.

"'The Ellen, Alford master, from Liverpool for Cape Town. Will send a boat aboard with letters for home.'

"The coincidence of names had evidently not been noticed, or produced no impression. But I saw it all in a moment, and I had to grasp the mizzen-backstay to keep from falling. My brother John, whom I had not seen or heard from for nearly fifteen years, had drifted across my way on the vast and pathless ocean! Ah, how often since have I asked myself if a Providence could be clearer—if this, with all its consequences to my after-life, could have been had not He who keepeth the winds as His treasures and measures the oceans in the hollow of His hand so ordered it for the furtherance of His own wise and beneficent will! Not a thought of anger toward my brother crossed my mind—not a solitary harsh memory of the past. My heart yearned to him with a tender and womanly love, and the only shade on the brightness of my joy was the slight doubt whether he would feel thus toward me. The order had already been passed on the Ellen to lower away a boat, and my voice sounded husky and unnatural as I shouted back an invitation to her master to board me in person. I recognized John with the aid of my glass as he returned a hearty 'Ay, ay!' and dropped lightly from the futtock-shrouds into the boat. In ten minutes he lay alongside of my vessel, and in two more stood upon the deck. I remember well how my heart beat and my tongue refused its office as he stepped forward to greet his stranger host; how he stopped suddenly as if frozen to the deck when he looked full in my face; how his whole frame trembled and his cheeks grew ashy pale as he almost whispered, 'Joseph?'


"And then we were clasped in each other's arms and sobbed like children, while each hid his face on his brother's shoulder.

"Kelson told me afterward how the rough seamen gazed at us for a while in astonishment, and then, with a delicacy of feeling which even such unrefined natures can sometimes exhibit, moved quietly off and left [pg 710] us unobserved; but I forgot for a while that there was any one else on the ship besides my new-found brother and myself. It was full five minutes before either of us could utter a word, and then, after a few brief expressions of surprise and pleasure, John sent word to his [pg 711] first officer that he would spend the day on the Ariadne, and giving our orders to keep the ships together, which was easy enough now that both were in the same current, we retired together to my cabin.

"That day was, I honestly believe, the brightest and happiest of my life. Not a word was said by either of us in reference to any jar or unpleasantness in the past—not a reproach for long and unfraternal negligence through all these years of separation. Each listened eagerly to the story of the other's life, questioned closely for every minute detail, sympathized with every slight misfortune, and expressed a hearty pleasure in every incident of happiness or success. I learned how John had passed a year after my departure in uncertainty as to his plans for the future, and in the vain effort to break the resolution of Ellen Jones. Then he purchased a vessel, as I had done, and crossing the ocean ran for two years between New York and the West Indian ports. His career was not as fortunate as mine had been, and when, after eight years of a seaman's adventurous life, he was rewarded for his faithful devotion by the hand of the woman whom he loved, he was no richer than my father had left him. Ellen had made two voyages with him—one just after their marriage, and one two years later, after their baby died. John lost money on this last trip, but was steadily repairing his fortunes when, about a year before our meeting, he lost his ship and cargo off the coast of Newfoundland, barely escaping with his crew by the assistance of a fishing-vessel which had answered their signal of distress. This misfortune had reduced him to very straitened circumstances, and he had left his wife with five little ones at home, hoping for a successful venture in this voyage to the Cape, every guinea of his capital having been invested in a half interest in the Ellen and her cargo. There was nothing to require our attention, as our ships were lying as still and motionless, but for the drift, as if riding at anchor in a road-stead; so we talked together until the steward announced dinner, and after that adjourned to the after-deck with a box of cigars and a bottle of wine, where we resumed our conversation. The weather continued unchanged, and I shall never forget the quiet happiness of those hours as we sat under the awning looking at the Cape pigeons and schools of flying-fish, and chatting about the pleasant memories of our boyish days. It was near sunset when John Alford asked me to signal his boat, and soon afterward he left the Ariadne. We both expected the wind to rise during the night, but intended keeping our ships together until next day, and so made all our arrangements for signaling, so that we might not part company in the darkness.

"When I went below I met Kelson at the cabin door. 'The barometer's taken a start downward, sir,' said he: 'we shall have nasty weather before morning.'

"'It is very likely,' I answered, 'but I think the old ship can stand some weather. Set the watches with two good men in each, and have everything snug for a blow.'

"'Ay, ay, sir!' answered the careful fellow: 'all that's done already. I've seen these South Atlantic calms before now. The sails are all clewed up and the useless spars sent down: the boats are secured, the movables all double lashed, and the storm-staysails made ready to bend on.'

"'Then we shall only have to keep a good lookout, and if it blows, let it blow. Give the watches strict orders not to lose the Ellen, Mr. Kelson.'

"'Ay, ay, sir! The Lord grant it isn't a cyclone! I don't like 'em.'

"It was about nine o'clock that night that I heard a light ripple against the ship's side, and a moment after the creaking of the yards as the rising breeze moved them slightly. I at once went on deck, and my first glance showed me how fortunate I was in having such a first officer as Kelson. The night was as black as pitch: the wind came in little puffs and flaws, and then for a moment would die away altogether. There was a low, ominous murmur in the distance like the sighing of a pine forest, and now and then the faint muttering of thunder. Suddenly there was a sharp, jagged flash which seemed to run halfway round the horizon, followed instantly by a rattling peal like a running fire of field-pieces. A silence and a stillness followed this opening overture like that of the valley of death. I sprang to the pilot-house and seized the wheel, for I knew everything would depend upon that, but as yet there was neither lee nor weather side, for it was impossible to guess from what quarter the wind would strike us. There was a brief period of suspense, which seemed to me an hour long, the dead silence broken only by the cheery ring of Kelson's voice giving his orders with a promptness and decision which was sweet music to my ears. A moment more and the whole sky was one blaze of dazzling light; in a second of time I saw with almost supernatural distinctness every rope and spar, every brace and shroud of the ship; I saw the illimitable black expanse of water on the port side, and the Ellen, a mile distant on the starboard bow, her outlines as sharply defined as in a silhouette; I saw the figures of men ascending her shrouds, and with utter amazement I saw that her topsails were set. But as I glanced away from her I saw a dark wall of water on our starboard beam, crested with glittering foam and twenty feet or more in height, bearing right down upon us.

"'Hard a-lee!' came the voice of Kelson, drowned in a crash of thunder which words are powerless to describe, and as the good ship swung round responsive to the touch of her helm, all was again Egyptian darkness, and the wind rushed upon us with the howl and roar of a thousand hungry wild beasts. The Ariadne answered her helm like a tender-mouthed colt, but she was not quick enough for the enormous sea which the next moment broke on her starboard quarter. The decks were deluged with water, which must have swamped the ship had not every hatch been securely battened; the starboard quarter-boat was crushed like an egg-shell, and swept from her davits with the wreck of the bulwarks, which were stove in like a cigar-box; the masts bent like reeds and quivered to the keelson, and the strong mizzen storm-staysails burst with the report of a twelve-pounder. The Ariadne careened until her lee-earrings dipped into the sea, but righted herself as she came before the wind, and rose like a duck on the back of the angry swells. It was a fearful night, and every incident of it is photographed indelibly on my memory. There was not a rag of canvas on the ship except her heavy main-staysail, and yet one after another the topmasts splintered and fell, hampering the lower rigging and littering the deck with the wreck, the broken royals making terrible work as they whipped about in the storm; but it was utterly impossible to cut them loose. Well, it's getting late, and I must hurry to the end of my story. The storm lasted about three hours, and then the wind fell almost as suddenly as it rose.

"When daylight came there was no trace of the tremendous commotion of the night except the heavy swell of the wearied sea. We had weathered the gale in safety, and although the Ariadne was dreadfully battered and her rigging badly cut up, there was no damage which we were not able to repair sufficiently well to continue our voyage."

Uncle Joseph paused as if he had no more to say. I waited a moment, and then ventured to ask, "How did the Ellen get through it?"

"When the sun rose clear I swept the horizon with my glass, but she was not in sight. She has never been heard of since."

Again the old gentleman paused, but this time I dared not break the silence. At last he dropped the stump of his cigar into the ash-holder and said, "I never made but one more voyage after that, and that was to bring John's orphans to Charleston after their mother's death."


[pg 712]


When I remember my first visits to the picture-galleries of Europe, I am filled with compassion for the multitudes of my country-folk who yearly undergo the same misery. I hope they do not all know how miserable they are, and fancy that they enjoy themselves; but with many the suffering is too great for self-deception, and they come home to look back upon those long halls, filled with the masterpieces of ancient and modern art, as mere torture-chambers, whence nothing is brought away but backache, headache, weary feet and an agonizing confusion of ideas. Some of them avenge themselves by making fun of the whole matter: they tell you that there is a great deal of humbug about your great pictures and statues; that Raphael is nearly as much overrated as Shakespeare; that it is all nonsense for people to pretend to admire headless trunks and dingy canvases. To them I have nothing to say: they find consolation in their own cleverness. But a great many are left with a mingled sense of disappointment and yearning: they cannot get rid of the thought that they have missed a great pleasure—that a precious secret has remained hidden from them, and that through no fault of theirs. It is to these, who have my sincere sympathy, and to those who have the same trials before them, that I offer the result of three years' acquaintance with the great galleries of Europe, premising that I have no technical knowledge of art: I have only learned to enjoy it.

We Americans generally bring total want of preparation with us from home: pictures and statues, their subjects and their authors, except a few of the most famous, are equally unknown to us. This is to some degree our own fault. All that we can learn by reading is valuable. I do not refer to criticism or descriptions, but what may be called the general literature of art—the lives of artists, the history of the various schools, even mythology and the lives of the saints; which last were the favorite theme during the best period everywhere except in England, whose native art is not much over a century old. This is within the reach of every one on this side the Atlantic, and to know what a picture is about is to have one source of confusion removed. Besides which, all accessory information adds much to the general interest and is a help in the first stages. Criticism is to be excepted, as tending to disturb the integrity of one's individual impressions, difficult enough to keep independent under the influence of a great name. The beginner ought not to seek the opinion of others—except in devoting his attention to the works of highest fame, which is following the verdict of the world, and not of a person or set—until he has one of his own, always bearing in mind that his is probably wrong, and keeping his conceit down and his mind open to conviction. The study of works of art with the handbooks of connoisseurs belongs to the higher branches of aesthetic education, of which I have naught to tell.

Besides reading, of course all opportunities of seeing good specimens at home should be made the most of. These are far from so rare as ten years ago. In Boston the Athenaeum, in New York the Metropolitan Art Museum, and both in the latter city and Philadelphia the private collections—which the kindness of their owners makes almost as accessible as public ones—afford us examples of most contemporary painters and of some of the older masters; while our schools of design are provided with casts from the most celebrated antique statues, and many of the best modern ones come to our shores. The Arundel Society of London publishes chromo-lithographs of uncommon merit after the finest and most curious paintings of the Old World. But the best [pg 713] preparation of all is a knowledge of drawing: even if nothing is acquired beyond the ability to copy a cast correctly or sketch a landscape roughly but faithfully, it is a long step over the primary difficulties of the path.

The very first of these difficulties is to know what we really like. It is probably impossible to look at a famous work with eyes clear from preconceived impressions: copies, engravings, photographs, have familiarized us in some measure with the finest things in the world. However imperfect an idea may be given by reproductions of great pictures—great in size as well as merit—whether we have seen a Marcantonio or a Raphael Morghen or only a carte de visite—a notion of their chief features is acquired: we recognize them from the farther end of the gallery, whither indeed we have generally come in quest of them, and the results are very like those of a first sight of Niagara. Everybody knows how that looks—the huge downpour of the American Fall, the graceful rush of the slenderer stream formed by Goat Island, the mighty curve and tremendous placidity of the Horseshoe Fall, the clouds of spray, the lightly poised rainbow. But all this does not give us the feeling of Niagara: one person is overwhelmed, another enraptured, very many are disappointed. Besides, we are bothered by notions of how we ought to feel at such a moment. All these hinderances the majority of us will meet at the outset. After seeing a few masterpieces, a superficial acquaintance with the characteristics of the most elaborated painters is soon acquired, and then comes the difficulty of judging honestly of the effect upon one's self of a picture which bears so great a name. Yet all Tintoretto's paintings are no more equal than Sir Walter Scott's novels or Byron's poems: Titian trips as Homer nods. Of course we cannot expect to distinguish between the good and the bad of a great master, but there is no reason for our admiring everything from his hand. A great step is gained when we know whether we are pleased or not.

All our familiarity with the composition of great pictures does not prevent our becoming bewildered by their size and color on first beholding them. The number of canvases and conflict of hues in a gallery confuse the eye and irritate the nerves. One looks down the interminable corridors, the immense halls, the endless suites of rooms, with growing dismay: as one succeeds another, and the inmost chamber seems farther off as we advance, the nightmare sense of something which is impossible, yet must be done, begins to weigh upon us. And this goes on day after day with a protracted strain upon the limbs, the senses and the brain, until real injury sometimes ensues. After traversing almost without a pause the great art-palaces of Munich, Brussels, Antwerp, The Hague and all the minor ones on the route, on reaching Amsterdam, with its inexhaustible picture-shows, I had got to the point where I sat down amidst the Rembrandts, forced to declare that I would rather look at so much wall-paper of a good pattern. This is utter folly. One cardinal rule in seeking either pleasure or profit is not to tire one's self. When time is limited and the opportunity may never recur, the temptation is almost overpowering: this is our only chance—we must not lose it. But it is lost if we overtask the perceptions and carry away no idea with us: there is no gain, and positive harm. No one new to galleries should look at pictures for more than an hour together, and I think that one who knows and cares much about them will not wish to do so for more than double that time. We learn by degrees to go through a gallery much more rapidly than at first, for unless we have adopted some plan of selection we begin by looking at every picture. After a while we merely glance at the greater number, and get over the ground much more quickly, though we spend a long time before the rest. If in this cursory survey a picture strikes and pleases you, look at it by all means, return to it again and again, and see whether the charm works or wears out: it may be the starting-point of your whole career of enjoyment. Do not run counter to your natural impulse if you have [pg 714] any: no matter whether you suspect the picture to be bad or by an inferior master, look at it and enjoy it as much as you can. If you are only honest with yourself, you will not care for it long if it be poor.

A good plan for getting our ideas into order on going into a gallery is to take one master and look only at his works for a day or two, and then at the others of his school, else there is a terrible confusion of names, dates, periods, manners and subjects in our heads. This cannot always be accomplished, for in some choice collections there are but a few specimens of each master, though in the large ones there are always more than enough for a beginner's first day. It is best to begin with a comparatively modern master, and work back gradually, otherwise the eye is puzzled by inaccuracies of drawing, perspective, color. The early painters can hardly be expected to delight us at first: we are shocked by the unnatural proportions, the grotesque countenances. To cite an extreme case, the first view of Giotto's frescoes, where men and women with bodies of board, long jointless fingers, rigid plastered hair, and dark-rimmed slits for eyes whose oblique glance imparts an air of suspicion to the whole assembly, will suggest merely a notion of their grotesqueness. By and by we shall grow used to the deformities, and recognize the primitive truthfulness of attitude and expression, the spirit which animates these ungainly forms and faces, until at length we look at the painter with the eyes of his contemporaries, and judge him by the standards of his own time, on which his claims rest. Then we shall admire him. The Venetians of the sixteenth century are the easiest to look at, however much of their genius and wonderful skill be lost on a novice, for they knew as much about anatomy and perspective as any painter of to-day, and their men and women are such glorious creatures, with backgrounds of such stately architecture or such magnificent scenery, all displayed in a revel of color, that pleasure outruns comprehension in the beholder.

The subject of a work of art exercises a great influence at first. Some subjects naturally attract, others awe, others repel, and some have no interest for us whatever: this, of course, is entirely apart from the intrinsic sources of enjoyment. Next we are affected by the way in which the subject is treated; and this, too, is a moral or intellectual appreciation, rather than an aesthetic one. Perhaps, as a general rule, the enjoyment of landscapes precedes that of figures, and expression strikes us sooner than form, while color comes last of all; but this differs with different temperaments. I suppose there are few who do not feel a little stupid amusement at first at inaccuracies of costume and accessories in the older pictures, but we soon become as indifferent to them as the painters were themselves. One grows so accustomed to see scriptural personages presented in the dress and surrounded by the architecture or landscape of Southern Europe of three centuries ago that the anachronism or inconsistency ceases to strike one. Perhaps it is because armor and flowing robes, colonnades and branching trees, never seem out of keeping with events of a certain dignity. I am not sure that the traveler ever becomes quite unconscious of the incongruity of the old Flemish dress and decorations, in most cases strongly enhanced by the prim composure which is the elementary expression of the earlier Netherlandish faces: this is still discernible through all transitory emotions of fear, hate, love or anguish, and does not fail to produce very tragi-comic combinations. I remember a group of a man in the dress of an Antwerp burgher sitting on a three-legged stool, with his head on the knee of a discreet-looking woman in a long-waisted, plain-skirted gown, with a high square bodice closed by a plaited neckerchief, her hair drawn tightly back under a close round cap, her pocket hanging from her girdle on one side, and on the other a small array of housewifery implements, among others a pair of scissors, with which she is clipping his locks: her expression is so placid and thrifty withal that it seemed clear she was saving a penny for her goodman instead [pg 715] of sending him to the barber. But this was not the painter's idea: the two were Samson and Delilah. Better than this was a painting of Susannah and the elders, where the chaste Susannah is depicted clothed to the throat like a Dutch burgomaster's wife, with a close cap and long veil, while her perilous ablutions are typified by a small wash-basin on the ground beside her. Another almost as grotesque was a Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Breughel the Elder—a snow-scene in the wide street of a red brick, high-gabled village—soldiers, parents, children, all in the stiff, ungraceful Flemish dress of the sixteenth century, the poor little children, in square trousers and pinafores, clinging to their mothers' narrow skirts. Oddly enough, it made the story more real to me than it had ever seemed before, quite painfully and terribly so, indeed: dispoiled of its usual conventional character, it became definite, and the very historical inaccuracy which destroyed the traditional conception made it an historical fact. We have only to go to Ghent and Bruges to see how the genius and devout earnestness of the Van Eycks, Van der Heyden and Hemling raise their pictures above trifling absurdities. It is undeniable that with many of us the constant presentation to our eyes of the incidents of our Saviour's life, especially His passion, gives them more reality than even the most frequent reading of the Bible. This renders the crucifixion extremely painful, intolerable in powerful pictures. I knew of an intelligent, sensitive little child who burst into convulsive sobbing before Tintoretto's great Crucifixion in the Scuola San Rocco at Venice. In the Belvedere at Vienna there is a picture by Rubens of the dead Christ in the arms of the usual small group: His mother is removing with a light, tender touch a thorn which is still piercing the cold brow. The whole picture is in the same spirit, and I never could look at it with dry eyes. Yet in Rubens's hands this and all kindred subjects are generally repulsive. The very early masters are prone to fix the attention upon some revolting detail of torture or too material and agonizing exhibition of physical suffering, but their stiff, hard outlines, absence of perspective and childishness of composition, with the element of the grotesque which is seldom absent, take the edge off their effect. Later, when art has advanced, and is capable of affecting us more deeply, refinement too has advanced: there is less simplicity, but merely painful detail is subordinated to general expression and skill of drawing and color. It is where the two meet, as in Rubens, that the result is most harrowing: the picture I have just spoken of is the only one of his in which I ever saw any sign of delicacy or tenderness, any appeal to the deeper and more exquisite emotions. Nevertheless, by degrees his genius helps one to surmount his realism. On my first visit to Antwerp I looked for a few minutes—which was as long, as I could bear it—at the great Descent from the Cross in the cathedral, and turned away with the conviction that I could never have anything but distressing and disagreeable impressions from that picture. Six months afterward I was in Antwerp again: I could not see the Descent often enough, and spent my last hour in the place before it. Yet he is a brutal painter withal, and such subjects, however magnificently treated by him, could never give me the same unmixed enjoyment as in the hands of the gentle and pensive Vandyke.

Some people maintain that all great works of art speak for themselves, and will make their appeal at once to a person capable of appreciating them, without any previous experience or education. This is impossible, for were it so the fine arts would be an exception to the rules which govern everything else in life—music, literature, moral beauty and the beauties of Nature. It must be with them as with other things: knowledge, cultivation, practice enhance the power of enjoyment. Of course, in this, as in all matters, individual organization will tell powerfully; but take an intelligent, educated person of average perceptions, who has never seen a single good picture, and set him before one of the greatest in the world, and I [pg 716] doubt if he would receive any genuine pleasure from it. A fortiori, an uneducated person, one who could appreciate the first masterpiece he ever saw the first time he ever saw it, would be a prodigy only second to him who could produce one without preliminary study. The picture which I think calculated to appeal most powerfully and universally is Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, where the grouping of the figures and the expression of each head, as well as the disposition of the whole, can hardly fail to produce a deep impression on any one of thought and feeling; yet even here there would be a first shock, to any untrained eye, from the faded colors, the defaced and spotted surface; and this must be got over before the fresco can be even seen. Moreover, in my experience, there is no pleasure connected with the whole business of seeing galleries like that of revisiting them: not only should we return to them daily on first acquaintance, but we should make a practice of seeing them again after an interval of months whenever it can be done: it is surprising what a comprehension and enjoyment of their chief treasures grows up during absence.

Little by little, through divers probations, we begin to feel ground under our feet. We have our likes and dislikes, our favorite masters, pictures and statues, which are like old friends. Instead of weariness, vexation and a vain effort to comprehend, a delightful sense of repose and coming pleasure steals over us as we enter a gallery. The lovely forms, the noble composition, the delicious color minister to us, mind and body, and soothe us like music or the smile of Nature; and the plastic arts have this advantage over music, that they are impersonal. We cannot identify ourselves with what moves us in painting or sculpture or architecture: on the contrary, it lifts us out of ourselves, away from our griefs and cares, instead of giving them a more intense and poignant expression, which at some moments is all the divinest music seems to do. Their influence is always benign and serene, and we may always have recourse to it, while the secrets of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann lie hidden between leaves, in the keeping of crabbed little hieroglyphs, and a voice, an instrument, or perhaps an orchestra, is needed to reveal them. The picture, the statue, has no secrets but open secrets. You stand before it, and the very soul and essence of it comes softly forth and breathes upon yours. Oh moments of delight, when we lose ourselves in the soft Arcadian mood of Claude Lorrain, in the cool, tranquil revery of the Dutch landscape-painters, in the giant impetuosity of Tintoretto, in the rich, warm sensuousness of Titian, in the glowing mystery of Giorgione, in the calm, profound devoutness of the early Flemings, in the religious rapture of the early Italians! It needs no jot of technical knowledge for this, however much that may enhance our enjoyment, as it undoubtedly must. But the inspiration of a work of art may be felt by any one.

I have considered sculpture less than painting in these remarks, partly because to the majority it is less interesting, and partly because it seems to me so much simpler in itself. The absence of color, the relief of form, the unity of idea, the limitation of each subject to a single figure, or at most two or three, perhaps too the repose and simplicity which characterize antique art, make the path less arduous. I never, even in the infinite vistas of the Vatican, felt the fatigue and perplexity which have beset me in the smallest picture-galleries.

If any reader has had patience with me until now, he or she may like to know the books which were of most use to me in my apprenticeship. There is no pleasanter instructress than Mrs. Jameson, although she is superficial and sentimental, a little lackadaisical indeed: her Early Italian Painters, Sacred and Legendary Art, and the supplementary volumes on the Legends of the Madonna and of the Monastic Orders, and on those relating to the life of our Lord, have all been republished in this country. There is a finer book of the same order, Lord Lindsay's Christian Art, now out of print, but to be found in [pg 717] public libraries. M. Rio's work, De l'Art Chrétien (let the purchaser beware of two volumes of Epilogue, which are autobiography), is a full and admirable history of religious art: it is written from a purely Roman Catholic point of view, and his opinions are deeply imbued by prejudice. The reader will soon perceive this, however, and be upon his guard, remembering that, after all, the Roman Catholic view is the true one whence to contemplate art from the twelfth to the seventeenth century, but that art and theology are not one, nor even akin. M. Rio does not mention the Spanish school, perhaps with reason, as the Virgins of Murillo, the saints of Zurburan and Ribera, scarcely belong to the realm of religious art: this deficiency is supplied by Stirling's Annals of the Artists of Spain. Kugler's Handbuch der Kunstgeschichte (translated, I believe) is a capital and comprehensive work, including ancient as well as modern art; and the knowledge of the one is as necessary for the understanding of the other as an acquaintance with ancient history is for the comprehension of modern history. I cannot recommend Vasari's Lives of the Italian Painters entertaining as it is, for so much of each page is taken up by notes of different editors and commentators denying flatly the assertions of the text that to read him for information seems waste of time. Messrs. Crowe and Cavalcaselle's New History of Painting in Italy is the latest English authority. Mr. Charles Perkins's Tuscan Sculptors, of which we have reason to be very proud, is already the accepted standard work everywhere. Kugler's Handbook of the German and Dutch Schools, edited by Sir Edmund Head, has not been superseded, I think. It is with great hesitation that I name Mr. Ruskin in the catalogue of guidebooks: he is so arbitrary and paradoxical, lays down the law so imperiously, and contradicts himself so insolently, that a learner attempting to follow him in his theories will be hopelessly bewildered. Yet nowhere are the eternal, underlying truths upon which art rests so clearly discerned and nobly defined as in Modern Painters, The Seven Lamps of Architecture and The Stones of Venice; and nowhere do we find such poetical or beautiful descriptions. Yes, one should read these earlier books of Ruskin's, if it be but for the pleasure they give. All theories of art are useless for the American student who has not been abroad: the object is not to make up one's mind respecting the principles and limits of beauty in painting and sculpture, to form a code of aesthetics while the great pictures and statues of the world are still unknown; yet if a natural curiosity impel us to the inquiry, there are Lessing and Winckelmann, still the first authorities, despite some slight signs of human fallibility.

I will not say that all these stories of artists whose works one has not seen, that even the most brilliant and graphic descriptions of their works, have not often the bitter flavor of the Barmecide feast, but we must have faith and patience: the real banquet will be forth-coming, and then we shall see what an appetite we bring to it from our studies.


[pg 718]


"Who is she?" asked Maurice Grey of the lady with whom he was walking.

"Fay Lafitte," replied the latter curtly: then, as if by chance, she turned in another direction, saying, "You left them all well at home?"

The young man halted, forcing his companion to do the same, and with his eyes fixed on a figure pacing up and down the opposite alley, he remarked, "I suppose she is one of the reigning belles here?"

"Rather a solitary belle," laughed his cousin.

"I should think even a belle might enjoy solitude at times," rejoined Maurice, argumentatively.

The lady, Mrs. Clare Felton, slightly raised one shoulder, indicating thereby that the point in question did not interest her, and asked, "Shall we walk on?"

"Couldn't you introduce me? That's a good soul, do."

"My dear cousin, it is impossible: the girl has a particular aversion to me."

"Nonsense, Clare! Don't be ill-natured the first day I arrive. How do you know she has?"

"We are neighbors at Felton, and—"

"Neighbors in the country, I perceive. Did their chickens destroy your flower-beds, or their cock wake you by crowing at unearthly hours in the morning? Had they a barking dog they refused to part with, or was it the servants?"

"If you mean to be sarcastic I shall need support. Now go on, and, notwithstanding your provoking innuendo, I will try to satisfy your curiosity."

"Firstly," began Maurice, seating himself on the rustic bench near her, "why isn't Miss Lafitte a belle?—she is certainly beautiful."

"'Pretty is as pretty does'—a motto especially true of belles."

"Which, interpreted, means she is not agreeable. Yet she has mind, or she would not keep that thoughtful position for so long a time."

"She may be planning the trimming for her next ball-dress," remarked his cousin.

"She is too serious for that."

"It is a serious affair at times."

"There is something about her extremely interesting to me."

"Maurice, of course you will think me odious"—and Mrs. Felton checked her bantering tone—"but don't sit here allowing your imagination to run wild, deifying Miss Lafitte before you know her. Either make her acquaintance in the ordinary way, or, which I should like better, avoid her."

"Do you think I am falling in love at first sight?"

"I think any idle young man tempts Providence when he sits weaving romances about a very beautiful girl before he knows her."

"Then introduce us."

"She won't speak to me."

"What have you quarreled about?"


"Very mysterious. Clare, listen! If you don't tell me the whole secret, I will fall in love with her for spite, and make a terrible fool of myself."

"An easy task."

"Shoot it off, Clare: I know you are dying to tell me."

"I would rather you heard it from some one else: I would indeed. Still, if you insist—"

"I command, I entreat."

"Incorrigible! For your own good I—"

"My peace of mind depends on it."

"I wish you were not so obstinate." Then, lowering her voice, "The report is that the poor girl is insane."

"What a horrible slander!" exclaimed the young man, springing to his feet.

"Yes," remarked the widow, "if it is not true."

"It is heartless." Then looking at her sharply, "There is no foundation for it, is there?"

[pg 719]

"She has strange fancies, takes aversions to people—I can't say. Let us continue our walk. I have told you I am not acquainted with her."

"We will walk that way: I want to see her closer."

Not satisfied with merely passing, Dr. Maurice Grey—to give him his full title—crossed the path when near the solitary figure, so as to have a full view of her face. At that moment Miss Lafitte raised her eyes, and their expression when they rested on Mrs. Felton was hard to interpret. It seemed a mixture of repulsion and dread. She drew back as they went by, and involuntarily shuddered.

"What do you think of that?" asked the widow as soon as they were at a safe distance.

"Unquestionably she is a good hater," answered Maurice.

Maurice again saw Fay Lafitte that evening at a ball given at the hotel by the lake where they were both staying. She was standing among a group of girls laughing and talking gayly, but to a close observer this light gayety might appear a symptom of restlessness rather than a proof of enjoyment. With her shining eyes and her crimson cheeks and lips she looked the Allegro of her morning's Penseroso. The young doctor took a station where he would not be remarked, and, forgetting Mrs. Felton's sage advice, kept his eyes fixed on the graceful girl. She gave him the impression of one who had been brought up in some foreign land, where public opinion is more exacting and the bounds of propriety more restricted than in ours. She was clearly a favorite among the ladies with whom she conversed. Several middle-aged gentlemen approached her with their wives and met a kind reception, but she avoided young men with a perversity that was amusing. In a person speaking to her he recognized an acquaintance, and, awaiting his opportunity, addressed him. After the first salutations he asked, "Mr. Allen, do you know Miss Lafitte?"

"From a child: her father is my oldest friend."

"Was she educated abroad?"

"Bless you! no: she is altogether American in training."

"Isn't she rather peculiar?" ventured Maurice.

"If by peculiar you mean the sweetest girl in the world, she is that," replied the old man enthusiastically.

"Is she generally liked?"

"Not by dandies and coxcombs: my little girl over there adores her. But let me introduce you."

"Willingly," ejaculated the other.

"Wait a moment: I will ask her permission."

As Mr. Allen went to prefer his request the doctor narrowly watched the result. A slight accession of color on the lady's face as her old friend indicated him told Maurice he had been recognized; which fact rendered her answer more annoying, for "Miss Lafitte begged to be excused: she was fatigued and wished to retire."

But she did not retire, as he saw with an irritation that grew as the evening advanced. For what reason did she refuse to make his acquaintance? Did she extend to him the dislike she had for his cousin? Did she class him among the fops, or was it but a caprice?

Now, Dr. Grey was a truthful man, and he told himself the case interested him. When, later, he was accosted by an old college-chum, George Clifton, who proceeded to give him the newest confidential slander at the lake, it was but natural he should try to unravel this mystery.

"What do you fellows mean by not surrounding that beauty over there? Where are your eyes?" he asked.

"Miss Lafitte? We have dubbed her the man-hater. She has never been known to make herself agreeable to any male creature under fifty, and not then if he were either a bachelor or a widower. A fellow is obliged to marry before he can be received. Rather too great a sacrifice, isn't it?"

"French blood?" insinuated the doctor.

"French?—as if wickedness had a country and was too patriotic to travel! You are an olive-gray, Maurice. Besides, you could as [pg 720] truthfully accuse an oyster of light behavior."

On making further inquiries one lady told him that she understood the beauty was a bluestocking, and when he asked another why Fay appeared to shun gentlemen's society, "To make them more eager to seek her," was the reply.

"What an amount of trash one can hear at these places in a single hour!" muttered Dr. Grey as he retired that night: then he added, thoughtfully, "I shall certainly make her acquaintance."

The night brings counsel. Maurice decided, on awaking, that he must depend on himself if he would succeed in overcoming Miss Lafitte's prejudice. What if he should make an excuse and speak to her without an introduction? Chance must determine. About the same hour that he had met her the day before the young man directed his steps to the alley where she had been walking. There she was, pacing to and fro meditatively, enjoying the morning air.

"She looks the sanest of sane people," thought the doctor as he noted her calm expression, but the next moment he had occasion to retract his opinion. The girl caught the sound of his footstep, looked up, recognized him, and, turning, ran like a frightened roe in the opposite direction.

Dr. Grey, giving forth a prolonged low whistle, stood motionless with astonishment, but suddenly he too was running at full speed. The Atalantis had stepped into a hole made by the washing of the rain, and falling forward with violence lay motionless.

The instincts of the physician replaced those of the man as he gently raised the insensible form and laid it on a grassy bank. But her antipathy, whatever its cause, seemed more potent than the injury she had received, for as he touched her she moved uneasily, and opening her eyes said with difficulty, "Thanks. I am not hurt: I do not need your assistance."

"I am a physician," returned Maurice gravely. "Your foot has had a terrible wrench: permit me." He dropped on his knee before, her and proceeded to make an examination with so much quiet authority that she ceased to resist. "There is nothing wrong here: do you feel pain elsewhere?"

She was trembling, for the nervous reaction of the shock had taken place, but she endeavored to conceal it: "I have an oppression on my chest, and this arm—I cannot lift it."

"Do not be alarmed: lean against this tree."

She reluctantly submitted as he carefully felt the arm—nothing; the shoulder, across to the neck—a cry of pain.

"The clavicle is fractured."

"Is that very dreadful?" and now her eyes sought his for the first time.

"Oh no: it happens every day. It will be tedious perhaps, but can scarcely be called an accident at all—only a mishap. I think I will bring you a little brandy before you try to walk."

"Don't speak of it at the house: my father would be troubled. And hurry back: I do not want to be alone."

"What an inconsistent prescription she is!" thought Maurice as he went. "However, fright will make the most obstinate woman docile."

If it was fright, it certainly worked marvels. When he returned Fay obediently followed every direction given by him, even taking his arm for support as they walked to the hotel. Having seen his patient to the door of her room, professional delicacy prompted the doctor to withdraw. As he bade her good-morning she became embarrassed, hesitated a moment, then abruptly throwing open the door which gave entrance to a parlor, she said with a suspicious quaver in her voice, "Won't you come in? I must thank you, and papa must thank you."

"Not at all necessary," he replied lightly. "I will see you again if you permit me, but I must go now."

"You are offended because I—No matter: it is best. Go, then;" and she held out her hand, which he took, while her face became grave, almost sad; or was it but the young man's fancy?

"She is a warm-hearted, impulsive, spoilt child," was Maurice's final dictum as he left. "I must go now to Clare, to be warned or scolded [pg 721] or lectured about her; but first a cigar. Query: when a man forgets his morning cigar, what does it portend? There was a special providence in the rain washing that hole. A pity for the poor girl, but it gave me just the excuse I needed."

Maurice had been smoking for about an hour on the piazza when he was accosted by a servant, who had the air of really trying to find some one for whom he had been sent.

"Are you a doctor?" asked the man.

Grey nodded.

"They are waiting for you: come quick, please."

"I rather think you are mistaken: suppose you look up some one else?"

"Have been all about, sir. I can't get any one else. You'll do, I think: won't you come? The governor is deuced easy with his money."

"That accounts for your eagerness to serve him. Well, I suppose I must go and see about it."

He was taken, as he had anticipated, to Miss Lafitte's room. A gentleman with very white hair and an anxious face was alone in the parlor, who, introducing himself as Mr. Lafitte, repeated the servant's question: "Are you a physician?"

"As much as a diploma and three years' practice can make me," answered the young man.

"My daughter has had a severe fall," he explained: "she is suffering. I hope you can relieve her."

"Excuse me when I tell you that I am here for absolute rest. Is it possible to get another doctor?"

"No, we have tried. I beg that you will undertake the case without further delay."

Maurice felt the position awkward. "On one condition," he answered finally, at the same time giving his card: "that is, if the lady is willing."

Perhaps the father was accustomed to the whims of his child, for he did not appear surprised at the proviso, but immediately went to the next room to inquire. In a moment the communicating door was opened and the doctor invited to enter.

He found his patient very much excited—pulse high and cheeks flushed. She did not wait for Mr. Lafitte to present him, but commenced pettishly, "It would have been much better to stay when you were here, instead of keeping me waiting so long. It is of no use to resist. Oh what shall I do?"

"Your dress must be removed," said Dr. Grey briefly.

"I cannot put my arm back: I can't breathe. Do you think there could be something broken in my lungs?"

"Not likely: do not talk so much. Some of the ladies in the house must have valerian: I will beg a little for you. In the mean time your maid can rip your dress on the shoulder and round the sleeve: it will then come off without trouble."

"He is a fine doctor," said Jane as she quickly obeyed the directions. "One of them quacks would have cut this good dress to pieces, and never thought but it grew on a person without a seam. If he can save a dress, he is safe to know how to save a life."

"We will not call it saving a life," replied Maurice entering. "Take this and lie still while I prepare the bandages: it will soon be over."

"You did hurt me fearfully," murmured Fay reproachfully when at last the bone had been set.

"Not fearfully," he smiled. "Now sleep and forget it."

"Unless a doctor kills some one outright, he thinks it no operation at all," she exclaimed with sudden change of mood. "Now, please don't neglect me, but come often—twice a day until I am better."

On leaving Miss Lafitte the young man went to his cousin and told her how he had become acquainted with the beauty.


"She is but a spoilt child, Clare."

"Infatuated," exclaimed the lady.

"Jealous," returned the gentleman.

The young doctor, though he had frequent opportunities of being with his fair patient, soon chafed at a relation which, while it permitted him to see her, prevented him from taking advantage of his intimacy. [pg 722] The confidence with which she now treated him was an additional grievance: she was too friendly. Her position toward the outside world had also changed. Three, four, five weeks passed by, and had any one gathered the opinions of the crowd who surrounded Miss Lafitte, he would have heard but praise. Perhaps her capricious nature was tired of seclusion, for at present she had smiles for all. Piquant, original and clever, her popularity became as great as it was sudden, while she was only invalid enough to enlist sympathy or exact attention. But in one particular the girl had never varied—that of her rooted dislike to Mrs. Felton.

One morning when Maurice was paying a professional visit, which afforded his only chance of seeing her alone, he curiously asked, "Miss Lafitte, what is the cause of your aversion to my cousin?"

She was silent a few moments, then with apparent irrelevancy said, "Do you believe in premonitions?"

An emphatic "No" was the answer.

"Why should they not be true? Our thoughts arise from the same source as our actions; or, rather, there must be a creative thought for every separate act. Now, whether the act follows its producing impulse by moments, days or years, the fact remains the same."

"So that a man can tell before he goes into battle whether he will be brave or cowardly?"

"Certainly: we are conscious of our disposition, of our general manner of thinking, and consequently can judge of our course of action."

"That would make life plane sailing.

"No, for though you know your own qualities, you can seldom force events to fit them. As long as he can avoid danger the coward may be brave, but if danger is thrust upon him, off he runs."

"Of course you have presentiments?" said he ironically.


"And they always come true?"

"Sooner or later. The time is indefinite, but the result is certain.

"Can you predict for others?"

"Not unless I love them: I can for my father. Either you must know a person well, or have naturally a great deal of penetration, insight, quick observation. Give it what name you please, it is the gift of seers, by which they interpret the marks that character leaves upon face and form."

"When you fall in love—"

"I shall not do that," she interrupted: "I have been warned."

"How? Tell me about it."

"I do not see as clearly as some: I only vaguely feel that a certain occurrence will bring a certain catastrophe. If I love, I shall die."

"Nonsense! And is that the reason you avoided gentlemen's society?"

"Yes. I was afraid, really afraid;" and she made the expression stronger by a slight shudder.

"And you are so no longer?" he questioned hopefully.

"After I knew you I saw there was no danger in simply being acquainted with gentlemen."

Dr. Grey winced, and was silent for a time; then resumed energetically: "I am glad you have told me this. What will you think when I say that what you call presentiments are common to every delicately organized person? They are purely physical; an indigestion, a change in the weather or fatigue will cause them; a dose of medicine or a night's repose will cure them. The brain becomes indisposed with the rest of the body, but to allow such morbid fancies to influence you is preposterous."

"They are prophetic: I have often proved it."

"Mere coincidences. My advice is to begin to fight them at once. In regard to my cousin—"

"She has already brought me trouble. I knew it would be so when she crossed my path the other day. Look at my accident."

"That might have happened to any one. Why did you run away from me?"

"It was an impulse I could not restrain."

"I hope the oracle has not been traducing me?"

[pg 723]

"I have had no premonitions lately: when I was suffering I could think of nothing. But you have been so kind it seems impossible you should bring me harm."

"I would not for the world," he broke in earnestly.

"I am drifting blindly, and my mind misgives me that all is not right. I may be walking toward danger unaware. I believe I am," she continued dreamily, "but so long as I do not fall in love, nothing dreadful will happen."

"You had better fall in love than become a monomaniac," exclaimed the young man with more warmth than the occasion seemed to warrant. "If your premonitions have ceased, it is evidence of an improved state of health, and as your physician I forbid you to indulge in them."

"Doctors think they can treat everything," she said impatiently; then continued in an explanatory tone: "I inherit my foreknowledge from my mother, who was a gypsy celebrated in her tribe for reading the future. You see that the faculty is hereditary with me, and a dose of medicine will not cure it. My poor mother died at my birth: she was very young and beautiful. My father was past forty when he married. I have never spoken of it before, as he dislikes it to be mentioned. But you look like a man who could keep a secret, and I want to prove that I am not as foolish as you think."

Maurice saw it was useless to argue further: the delusion must be firmly established to have caused this young creature to seclude herself from general society for so long a period. The facts of her parentage must have been imprudently confided to her when young, and an imaginative temperament had done the rest. The secresy with which she guarded these ideas served to strengthen them. He could only hope that the life she was now leading would diminish their influence, or perhaps totally destroy her singular belief. Maurice thought it would be easy to wait for time to effect this change, but he had not counted on jealousy.

It was, of all people, that rattlecap George Clifton. George was a man who invariably attached himself where notoriety was to be obtained, and since Miss Lafitte had become the rage he was her shadow. Maurice, soon after this conversation, had discontinued his professional visits. He wished gradually to make it evident to Fay that his attentions had a deeper meaning. Besides, he was scarcely in a state to coolly feel her pulse when he was ready to devour her hand with kisses. The consequence of this change was that he seldom saw her alone: he had less opportunity than ever of winning her affection, and he was tormented by thinking that if she became cured of her eccentric fancy, it would be to marry Clifton.

The doctor was a man of expedients. One evening, when on the shore with Miss Lafitte at a little distance from a party of gay companions, he spied one of those flat-bottomed boats which are a feature of the place, and invited her to enter. Without a word he sent the tiny craft far over the water, out of hearing, almost out of sight, when, resting on his oars, he began: "I am glad to see you have entirely given up your faith in premonitions, Miss Lafitte."

She was sitting, her hands lying idly in her lap, gazing dreamily at the drifting clouds above. Without taking the trouble to change her position, she asked, "How so?"

"You are in love with George Clifton."

"What an amount of penetration you have, Dr. Grey!"

"You are always with him."

"Why should I not be? he is the safest man I know."

"I hope your confidence is not misplaced." Maurice turned, and, shading his face with his hand, looked at the setting sun, although he would have required the eye of an eagle to enjoy its brilliancy. "She acknowledges her preference," thought the young man bitterly, but in the midst of the turmoil her words occasioned he heard her tranquilly saying, "If I were with him a hundred years there would be no danger of my falling in love with him."

[pg 724]

Maurice gave a start that caused the water about the boat to dance, but before he could enjoy in full the satisfaction of her last remark, another fear suggested itself. "Perhaps you come with me for the same reason," said he.

"You are my physician."

"I find to my cost that physicians are as capable of loving as other men, but whether their love will be returned is another matter."

Emotion has its peculiar language. Though he strove to be calm, there was a ring in his voice that was unusual, and Fay could not but notice it. "Are you in love, doctor?" she asked gently. "I might help you if I knew with whom it is. Could you tell me?"

Was it worth while to reply to so unconscious, so friendly, a question by the truth? Why ask? What man, having gone so far, would be content to stop? Letting his eyes speak for him, he met her innocent questioning look by a long imploring gaze as he whispered, "You."

As he spoke the expression came over her face that he had noticed when he had first crossed her path with Mrs. Felton: the color forsook her cheeks, the dreamy composure of her attitude vanished, and she murmured in a scared, helpless tone, "Do you want to kill me?"

"No, no: do not think that," he hastily replied. Then seeing the boat had drifted behind a little island that hid them from view, he moved and sat on the floor beside her. "Dear Fay, believe me there is no reality in your foreknowledge. Such a thing is impossible. Love me, Fay, and I will shield you from any evil that may happen. Do not let those sick fancies mislead you: they are gone never to return."

"Take me home, take me home," she sobbed, covering her face with her hands. "Oh why do you talk to me in this way? It is unkind. You know it cannot be. I will not listen to another word. Take me home."

Dr. Grey was too wise to insist. Love had quickened his intuitions. He would have liked to take her in his arms and chase this threatening horror from her mind: he was eager to plead his cause, to assure her of his devotion, but without a word he resumed his seat and obeyed.

The generosity shown in thus preferring her wishes to his own touched Fay more than any pleading could have done. She was convinced of his unselfishness, and her confidence in him remained unshaken. For some time after the scene in the boat she was very shy; but seeing he avoided the forbidden subject, and unconsciously growing each day fonder of his society, she allowed herself to drift into that closer intimacy which can have but one reason for its charm. Maurice saw and rejoiced. If he had won her heart he felt sure of surmounting the imaginary objection to his suit, and he resolved on a bold stroke.

One evening after a long walk they were seated on a huge table-rock jutting from the shore into the water, nothing but the lake before them, the sky above, the forest behind. "Is it not a matter of surprise that you should still be living, Miss Lafitte? he asked, concealing his trepidation under the appearance of raillery.


"Because you have been in love with me for several weeks."

Struck with the truth rather than the audacity of his assertion, she looked down, pondering intently a little space; then, not considering what the admission involved, she said in a choked voice, "You are right."

"And it has not hurt you," he went on eagerly. "I cannot hurt you. Won't you believe me?"

Another longer pause, and the words came trembling forth: "If it could be so!"

"It is so. It has been already proved." He took her hand gently: she permitted it to lie in his, and silence, the language of full hearts, ministered between them.

She broke it finally by the whispered question, "You are quite, quite sure that these warnings are not peculiar—that science can account for them?"

"On my honor, yes."

[pg 725]

"I want to believe—I do believe you. I will risk my life for you: I—I—I love you, Maurice."

"My darling!"

She was very quiet, even sad, that evening. Conversation seemed an effort, and after some vain attempts to shake off her depression she hastily retired. After a long search Grey found her walking in one of the alleys of the garden, and could perceive by her tones that she had been weeping.

"In a very few days you will laugh at these pet superstitions. Do not indulge this mood: come and walk," he said persuasively.

"You are cruel."

"Indeed it is for your good."

"Maurice, do you think we are justified in thus tempting Fate?"

He smiled at her as if she were a child: "I have no doubts."

Her eyes shone solemnly as she replied, "Then lead me, even to death."

"To life—to a happy life, dear Fay." He put her unresisting hand on his arm and led her to the door of her room: "Sleep, my darling, and to-morrow you will feel more tranquil."

The next day the young man congratulated himself: Fay was as bright as if evil could never touch her. On passing him at the breakfast-table she whispered, "I defy Fate."

But the struggle was not yet over: the old fear and the new love fought a hard battle. A fortnight of these alternate lights and shadows passed. In his presence the poor girl tried to put on a brave face, but what she endured when alone could be seen in her loss of flesh and color. Sometimes the doctor almost repented having brought this misery upon her, but he comforted himself by looking forward to the calm which must surely follow this storm.

One morning, Miss Lafitte not appearing at her usual time, Maurice became alarmed. Fearing she might be ill, he went to her parlor to inquire: his knock was responded to by Jane, who gave him a note evidently written in expectation of his coming. It ran thus: "Meet me this evening at seven on the rock that you know." Of course he knew the place: it was where she had acknowledged her love.

As may be supposed, the young man was not late at the rendezvous, but he found Fay already there, walking restlessly up and down the contracted space.

"Sit down," she began in the peremptory tone of extreme emotion; then clasping her hands as she stood before him, she said, "I wanted to see you—"

"Not more than I wanted to see you," he interrupted lightly.

Without noticing his remark, she continued hurriedly, "I wish to say that all between us is broken off."

"It is not: I won't submit." He made a motion to rise.

"Do not come near me," she cried with growing agitation. "You have brought me my death. Oh, Maurice!"—here her voice sank pathetically—"why did you make me love you? I shall die—nothing can persuade me to believe otherwise—and it will be soon, soon, soon."

"How very unreasonable, dear Fay! You have long acknowledged your love, yet nothing has happened."

"It is about to happen."

"Come and sit by me," he begged.

"Never again: it must be ended. All day this miserable feeling has oppressed me. I have tried to shake it off, but cannot. It is a warning—it is horrible. Death is near, close, close. I must cease loving you or pay the penalty."

Her wan face presented such a picture of grief, her, voice expressed such an excess of suffering, that Maurice felt his eyes grow dim. Scarcely less moved than herself, he replied, "You cannot cease loving me, dear, dear Fay, nor can I bear to lose you. Let us end this struggle by an immediate marriage. You will then be calm—you will be happy. I will go to your father at once and make the arrangements: he will consent when I explain. There is a clergyman at the house, and a midnight train for New York. Oh, my darling, do not hesitate: this suspense is killing you. Can't you trust me, Fay?"

She listened eagerly: his voice seemed to soothe her. Seeing this, he [pg 726] rose, and, still speaking words of love, approached her. Controlled by, yet fearing, his influence, she slowly retreated as he advanced. Suddenly he cried as if in agony, "Fay, come to me!"

She was standing on the brink of the rock with her back to the danger. A moment she wavered: then Maurice could restrain himself no longer, but, extending his arm, he rushed toward her.

A little step backward, a shy movement to yet delay the consent that was already on her lips, a fall, a splash, and the waters of the lake closed over the body of Fay Lafitte.

To save her or lose himself was the resolution of the doctor as he leapt to the rescue. He was a good swimmer, and soon came to the surface after the plunge, but the shadow of the rock retarded his search. At last he found her, and then a new difficulty, that of landing, presented itself. The shore was covered with a fringe of impenetrable brushwood, which gave him the scantiest support, and it was impossible to mount the face of the rock. Almost in despair, he looked across the water, where he saw in the moonlight a fisherman's boat. Slowly the little craft obeyed his repeated calls for help. Sturdy arms relieved him of his insensible burden, while he, scarcely taking time to climb beside her, hoarsely bade the men row for their lives.

It is needless to describe the scene of confusion which followed on their arrival at the hotel. The only practical man there was Dr. Grey, who gave orders and applied remedies with desperate energy. His persistence was rewarded: the veined lids opened, the white lips parted, intelligence returned: she spoke, and Maurice threw himself on his knees and bent over her that he might catch the words. "My warning was true," she whispered slowly, "but—I—am—willing—to—die—for—loving—you." Then perception faded from those gentle eyes, breathing ceased, the muscles relaxed. Fay was dead.

And the doctor?

He afterward married his cousin: she was so kind to him at the time of his sad affliction.



You remember the Piazza della Bocca della Verità at Rome? No? Perhaps it is too far away from the Piazza di Spagna and the stairs of the Monte di Trinità, which may be taken to be the central points of English or American Rome. Yet you must have passed by the Bocca della Verità on your way to your drive on the Via Appia and the tomb of Caecilia Metella. Do you not remember a large, shambling, unkempt-looking open space, a sort of cross in appearance between the piazza of a city and a farmyard, a little after passing the remains of the Teatro di Marcello, the grand old arches of which are now, in the whirligig of Time's revenges, turned into blacksmiths' shops? The piazza in question is nearly open on one side to the Tiber, on the immediate bank of which stands that elegant little round temple, with its colonnade of charming fluted pillars, which has from time out of mind been known as the Temple of Vesta, though the designation, as modern archaeologists tell us, is probably erroneous. All the world, whether of those who have been at Rome or not, knows the Temple of Vesta, for it is the prettiest, if not the grandest, of the legacies to us of old pagan Rome, and it has been reproduced in little drawing-room models by the thousand in every conceivable material. Close to it, at one corner of the piazza, is the ancient and half-ruinous house which is pointed out as the habitation of Cola di Rienzi. It is altogether a strange-looking spot, that Piazza della [pg 727] Bocca della Verità, standing as it does on the confines of what may be called the inhabited part of Rome and that portion of the huge space within the walls which still remains sacred to the past and its memories and remains. But not the least strange thing about it is its name—the Piazza of the Mouth of Truth! There is a story of some one of the great doctors of the early ages of Christianity having taught in the very ancient church which stands on the side of the piazza farthest from the Tiber. Ay, to be sure, the name must come very evidently thence. The "mouth of truth" was the mouth of that seraphic or angelic or golden-tongued or other "doctor gentium," and the old church and the piazza still preserve the memory of his eloquence. Not a bit of it! Under the venerable-looking portico of this church there is a huge colossal marble mask, with a gaping mouth in the middle of it. There it lies, totally unconnected in any way with the various other relics of the past around it—tombs and frescoes and mosaics—and the stranger wonders what it is, and how it came there. To the last question there is no reply. But in answer to the former, tradition says that the Roman populace when affirming anything on oath were wont to place their hands in the mouth of this mask as a form of swearing, and hence the stone was called the "Bocca della Verità," and has given its name to the piazza.

Well, it was while traversing this piazza a few days since with a stranger friend, whom I was taking to visit the curious old church above mentioned, that I received and returned the salutation of an acquaintance whose appearance induced my companion to ask with some little surprise who my friend was. The individual whose courteous salutation had provoked the question was a horseman mounted on a remarkably fine black mare. Whether, in consequence of some little touch with the spur, or whether merely from high condition and high spirits, the animal was curvetting and rearing and dancing about a little as she crossed the piazza, and the perfect ease—and one may say, indeed, elegance—of the rider's seat, and his consummate mastery of the animal he bestrode, must have attracted the attention and excited the admiration of any lover of horses and horsemanship. It was abundantly evident that he was neither one of the "gentlemen riders" who figure in the somewhat mild Roman steeple-chase races, nor of those Nimrods from beyond the Alps who, mounted on such steeds as Jarrett or Rannucci can supply them with, attend the "meets" of the Roman hunt. The man in question was very unlike any of these; his horse was quite as unlike any that such persons are wont to ride; and his seat upon his horse and his mode of riding were yet more unlike theirs. It was not the seat of a man accustomed to "go across the country" and ride to hounds; and still less was it the seat of a cavalry-man, the result of teaching in a military riding-school. It was more like the seat (if the expression be permissible) of a centaur. The rider and his steed seemed to be one organization and governed by one and the same will.

But I must endeavor to give the reader an idea of the outward appearance of my acquaintance. He wore a long horse-man's cloak of dark-brown cloth, with a deep fur collar, which hung loosely from his shoulders, and being entirely open in front displayed a scarlet waistcoat ornamented with silver buttons beneath it, and thighs clad in black velveteen breeches. His lower legs were cased in gaiters of a very peculiar make. They were of light-brown colored leather, so made as to present an altogether creaseless surface, and yet fitted to the leg by numerous straps and buckles so closely that they exhibited the handsome and well-formed limb beneath them almost as perfectly as a silk stocking could have done. Below the ankle they closely clasped a boot which was armed with a very severe spur. The rider wore a high conical black felt hat—such a hat as is called, significently enough, "un cappello de brigante," a brigand's hat. It had, moreover, a scarlet ribbon around it, which added much to the brigand-like picturesqueness of the figure. Yet my friend was by no means a [pg 728] brigand, for all that. But the portion of his accoutrement which was perhaps the most remarkable has not been mentioned yet. While managing his reins, snaffle and curb, with excellent ease in his left hand, his right held—not a whip or stick of any sort, but—a lance like a rod, some seven or eight feet long, and armed at the end with a short iron spike. This spike rested on the toe of his boot as he rode—an attitude which, resembling that of a cavalier entering the tournament lists, gave to the rod in question all the appearance of a knightly lance. Yet there is in the recollection or the imagination of most people another figure whom on the whole the rider in the Piazza della Bocca della Verità would have been more likely to recall to their minds—the mounted Arab of the desert. I hardly know why it should be so. But there was a something about the general outline of the figure draped in its cloak, and in the way in which the long slight lance was held, that had an unmistakably Eastern look about it. There was a certain air of dignity too about my friend which contributed to his Arab-like appearance. Yet it was not exactly the dignity of the grave and impassible Eastern man. It was a mixture of dignity and jauntiness. There was a certain air of self-consciousness about the man in the cloak and brigand's hat that told you clearly enough that he knew he was riding remarkably well, and expected you to mark it too. He would have been exceedingly unwilling that the glories of the scarlet waistcoat with its silver buttons should have been eclipsed, and he would have unmistakably fallen in his own esteem had the broad scarlet ribbon been taken from his hat. The pose and turn of his well-shaped head on his shoulders provocatively challenged admiration, and would have had a dash of insolence in them if the expression had not been corrected by a pleasant smile, which showed a range of bright white teeth beneath a jet-black moustache, and the good-humor of the glance that tempered the frank roving boldness of the well-opened eye. When it has been added that he was in the very prime of manhood, a man of some thirty-five or thereabouts, I think that the reader will be able to form a tolerably correct picture to himself of my acquaintance, Nanni Silvani.

"And who and what is Nanni Silvani?" asked my companion when I had categorically answered his question by stating the name of the rider whose salutation I had returned.

"Nanni—or, more correctly, Signor Giovanni—Silvani is a buttero of the Roman Campagna," said I.

"And, pray, what may a 'buttero' be?" rejoined my Johnny Newcome, looking back after the receding figure of the horseman with no little curiosity.

"A buttero," I answered, "is one of the most peculiar and characteristic products of that very peculiar region, the Agro Romano."

The conditions under which the district around Rome is cultivated—or rather possessed and left uncultivated—are entirely sui generis—quite unlike anything else in the world. The vast undulating plain called the Campagna is divided among very few proprietors in comparison to its extent, who hold immense estates, which are more profitable than the appearance of the country, smitten to all seeming with a curse of desolation, would lead a stranger to suppose. These huge properties are held mainly by the great Roman papal families and by monastic corporations whose monasteries are within the city. In either case the property is practically inalienable, and has been passed from father to son for generations, or held by an undying religious corporation in unchanging sameness for many generations. Cultivation in the proper sense of the word is out of the question in this region: the prevalence of the deadly malaria renders it impossible. But the vast extent of the plain is wandered over by large herds of half-wild cattle, in great part buffaloes, the produce of which is turned to profit in large dairy and cheese-making establishments, and by large droves of horses, from which a very useful breed of animals is raised. The superintendence and care of these is the work of the buttero. Large flocks of sheep and goats [pg 729] also are fed upon the herbage of the Campagna. But the shepherds who tend them are quite a different race of men from the buttero, and are deemed, especially by himself, to hold a far inferior position in the social scale. And, as is ever the case, social prejudice justifies itself by producing the phenomenon it has declared to exist. The shepherd of the Campagna, having long been deemed the very lowest of the low, has become such in reality. Clad in the dried but untanned skin of one of his flock, he has almost the appearance of a savage, and, unless common fame belies him, he is the savage he looks. The buttero looks down upon him from a very pinnacle of social elevation in the eyes of every inhabitant of the towns and villages around Rome, especially in those of the youthful female population. While the poor shepherd, shaggy as his sheep, wild-looking as his goats, and savage as his dogs, squalid, fever-stricken and yellow, spending long weeks and even months in solitude amid the desolation of the Campagna, saunters after his sauntering flock, crawling afoot, the gallant buttero, in the saddle from morning to night, represents that aristocracy which among all uncivilized races and in all uncivilized times is the attribute of the mounted as distinguished from the unmounted portion of mankind. And if this fact is recognized by the generality of the world in which he lives, it is very specially assumed to be undeniable by the buttero himself. There is always a smack of the dandy about him. He is proud of his appearance, of his horse and of his mastery over him. He knows that he is a picturesque and striking figure, and the consciousness of the fact imparts a something to his bearing that is calculated to make the most of it. His manners and ways of life, too, are really more tinctured by civilization than those of the rest of the rural population among whom he lives. And this arises mainly from the fact that his occupations bring him more and more frequently into contact with his superiors in the social scale. The agricultural system prevailing in the district around Rome differs markedly and essentially from that in use generally in Tuscany. There the system of rent is almost unknown. The present tiller of the soil occupies it on condition of rendering to the landowner the half of the produce of it, and this arrangement is conducted under the superintendence of a fattore. But the widespreading possessions of a Roman landowner are for the most part let to a speculator, who is termed a "mercante di campagna." The commercial operations engaged in by these "merchants of the country" are often very extensive, and many of them become very wealthy men. It is hardly necessary to say that neither they nor their families live on, or indeed in most cases near, the land from which they draw their wealth. They are absentees, with a paramount excuse for being so. For the vast plains over which their herds and flocks and droves wander are for the most part scourged by the malaria to such an extent that human life, or at all events human health, is incompatible with a residence on them. The wealthy mercante di campagna lives in Rome therefore, and his wife and family take the lead in the rich, but not in the aristocratic, circles of the society of the capital. One of these men may be seen perhaps at a "meet" of the Roman hunt, mounted on the best and most showy horse in the field, attended probably by a smart groom leading a second (very needless) horse for his master's use, or holding in readiness an elegant equipage for him to drive himself back to the city at the termination of the day's sport. His wife and daughters meanwhile are probably exhibiting themselves in the Villa Borghese or on the Pincian Hill in the handsomest carriage and with the most splendid horses in all the gay throng, and displaying toilettes which throw into the shade the more sober style of those of the duchesses, princesses and countesses whom they would so gladly, but may not, salute as they pass them in their less brilliant equipages. The balls, too, given in the Carnival by these men and their wives will probably be the most splendid of the season, in so [pg 730] far as the expenditure of money can ensure splendor, but they will not be adorned by the diamonds of the old patrician families, nor will it be possible for the givers of them to obtain access to the sighed-for elysium of the halls of the historical palaces where those diamonds are native. Between the two classes there is a great gulf fixed, or perhaps it would be more accurately correct to say that there was such a great gulf fixed a year or two ago. The great gulf exists still, but it is beginning gradually to be a little bridged over. No doubt another twenty years will see it vanish altogether. But enough has been said to indicate the social position of the mercante di campagna as it was, and for the most part still is. But, fine gentleman as he is, the wealthy speculator, if he would remain such, is not always at the hunt or lounging in the Corso. He is often at the tenuta (or estate) from which his wealth is gathered, and on such occasions spends long hours on horseback riding over wide extents of country, and attended by the all-important buttero, sure to be mounted on as good a horse as that which carries his employer, or perhaps a better. Perhaps two or three of these functionaries are in attendance upon him. And such excursions necessarily produce a degree of companionship which would not result from attendance in any other form. As riders the two men are on an equality for the nonce. The tone of communication between the men is insensibly modified by the circumstances of a colloquy between two persons on horseback. It cannot be the same as that between a master sitting in his chair and a servant standing hat in hand before him. And then how proudly does the gallant buttero ride past the pariah shepherds tending their shaggy flocks and seeming barely raised above them in intelligence!

All this tends, as may be supposed, to civilize the buttero to a degree that he would not attain without it. He is, as has been intimated, generally eminently self-conscious of his own advantages and proud of his position. To the other elements which go to produce this feeling may be added the pride of caste. Our buttero is probably the son and the father of a race which follows the same occupation. The knowledge and skill which are absolutely necessary to his profession, and which are acquired no otherwise than traditionally, have a tendency to produce this result. He grew up to be a buttero, with a consummate knowledge of horses and horned cattle, and a sure eye for the condition of the pastures from one to another district of which the animals are constantly moving, under the eye of his father, who put him on a half-broken colt almost as soon as he could walk. And he is giving his son the same education. For a young buttero to marry with a daughter of the despised shepherd class would be a mésalliance not to be thought of. Nor would a marriage with the daughter of a small artisan of the towns be deemed a very acceptable one. The chances are that the young centaur marries a girl of his own centaur breed, and all the prejudice and barriers of caste are thus propagated and intensified. It must not be supposed that the buttero or his family lives on the malaria-stricken plains which his occupation requires him to be constantly riding over. The wretched shepherd is constrained to do so, and sleeps in the vicinity of his flock, finding, if he can, the shelter of a ruined tomb or of the broken arch of an aqueduct, or even of a cave from which pozzolana has been dug, and strives to exorcise the malaria fiend by kindling a big fire and sleeping with his head in the thick smoke of it. But the buttero, well mounted, to whom it is a small matter to ride eight or ten miles to his home every night, lives with his family either in Rome or in one of the small towns on the slopes of the hills which enclose the Campagna. And it is thus that these strikingly picturesque figures may often be seen traversing the streets and piazze of Rome, and especially of those parts of it which lie on the far side of the Tiber or to the southward of the Quirinal Hill and the Piazza di Venezia. They are almost always handsome fellows, well grown, and striking specimens of robust and manly vigor, probably by virtue of the lives [pg 731] they lead, and of the similar lives the race from which they spring have led before them; partly also, no doubt, from the fact that should any son be born to a buttero who should not be thus happily endowed, he could not think of following the ancestral occupation, but would have to be weeded out from the race and seek his place in the towns, where he would not become the father of degenerate butteri.

My friend Nanni Silvani was all that I have described the buttero to be. He was indeed a very perfect specimen of his class; and if the reader will allow me to tell him how I first came to be acquainted with Nanni, the relation of the circumstances will at the same time show him one of the most remarkable phases of the buttero's life, and one of the most curiously characteristic scenes of Italian—and especially Roman—life which it falls to the lot of foreign visitors to witness.

It will be readily understood that the cattle, whether horned beasts or horses, which wander from pasture to pasture over the vast extent of the Campagna are liable to stray occasionally, and perhaps to become mingled with the herds belonging to another proprietor. It is necessary, therefore, that they should be marked; and this marking is the occasion of a great and very remarkable festival and solemnity. It is called La Merca, which is a Romanism for La Marca, the "mark" or "marking" of the cattle. This operation takes place in the spring, generally in May; and the mercante di campagna whose herds of horned cattle, oxen, cows and buffaloes and droves of horses are to be marked on a settled day invites all his friends and acquaintance to come and see the operation. From what has already been said of the social habits and status of the persons occupying that position, it will be readily imagined that the company thus called together is often a very numerous and sufficiently brilliant one. A good half of the assemblage will in all probability belong to the more ornamental sex. A liberally supplied picnic luncheon will not fail to complete the pleasures of the day; and altogether the festival of the merca of such or such a year will probably remain as an epoch in the memories of many of those invited to be present. The carriages, the horses, the light country gigs and conveyances of all kinds must be ordered early in the pleasant May morning, for a drive (or ride) of several miles across the Campagna is before us, and perhaps before the spot appointed for the business in hand is reached a scramble across a mile or so of open rolling ground impracticable for wheels. But nothing can be more lovely than the views of the hills around Rome in the fresh early hours of a May morning. Even the melancholy Campagna puts on a look of brightness and smiles a pale smile for the nonce. We soon overtake or are overtaken by other parties bound for the same destination. All are chatting and laughing in high good spirits, for the spectacle that awaits us is a favorite one with the Roman dames and their attendant squires. There are very few, if any, foreigners among the invited, partly because it hardly comes in their way to hear anything about the merca and its specialties, or to make the acquaintance of the hosts upon such occasions; partly and mainly perhaps because they have almost all of them left Rome for the summer before the season for these rural festivals commences.

At length we reach the ground. A large hollow in the undulating surface of the Campagna, surrounded in great part by a steeply rising bank, has been chosen as the scene of operations, in order to afford as much vantage-ground as may be for the spectators. But other accommodation than such as is afforded by Nature has been provided. A range of seats of rough planks, something in the form of the grand stand on a race-course, has been erected by the hospitable mercante di campagna, who is busily engaged in receiving and seating his numerous friends. Large droves of young horses, and still larger herds of bullocks and buffaloes, are assembled in a neighboring yard. Before taking our places on the range of seats we go to have a look at this [pg 732] portion of the dramatis personae in the coming spectacle—from the outside, be it understood, of a high railed palisade, or stazzionata, as this description of enclosure is called in the language of the Roman Campagna. The appearance of the animals inside, of the buffaloes especially, does not tempt one to make any nearer acquaintance with them. The wild cattle of the Western prairies can hardly look wilder or more savage. Whether the buffaloes are in reality more savage in their temper than the other horned cattle, or not, seems to be a doubtful question. Some of the herdsmen say they are so: others deny it. Possibly the former may have the more sensitive imaginations, for unquestionably the buffalo is a far more terrible-looking fellow than his congener. His dark color and the form of the vicious-looking, crumply horn in great part contribute to this. But it seems to me that the expression of the eye produces the same effect to a yet greater degree. The buffalo's eye is smaller than that of the ordinary bull or cow, and often gleams out of the shaggy thicket of black hair around it with a red glare that has something truly diabolical in it. There may perhaps be collected in the yard and in one or two enclosures near it some forty or fifty young horses, and perhaps altogether from a hundred to a hundred and fifty head of horned cattle. Lounging about around these enclosures, or looking on while the last completing touches are given to the strong and high railing which surrounds the space in front of the range of seats, are several butteri and their aids, awaiting the master's signal for the beginning of the day's work.

Altogether, the scene is a very strange one. The contact of the rural and the city life, the elements of which meet in these countries so rarely and mix so little and so unwillingly, seems strange and incongruous. Nothing can be wilder than all the local surroundings of the scene; nothing less town-like than the living things, human and other, which are to enact their parts in it; nothing less rural, nothing more completely of the town townish, than the assembled company of spectators. Evidently, the individuals belonging to either category look upon those of the other very little in the light of fellow-creatures. In no country in the world is the division between the town population and that of the country so wide as it is in Italy. No one of either class seems to be struck by, or even to see, the extreme beauty of the prospect from the spot on which we are standing. It is a spot in the Campagna somewhat to the south-west of a line drawn from the city to the base of the Alban Hills; and though the place chosen for the operation of the merca is, as I have said, a hollow, the generality of the immediate neighborhood is somewhat higher than the level of the surrounding plain, and the eye is thus enabled to wander far and wide over the Campagna—to the Alban Hills southward; to the peak of Monte Cavo, where the early rays of the sun are just touching with light the old gray walls of the convent on its summit; to the large village of Rocca di Papa on its hillside a little farther to the left; to the town of Grotto Ferrata on the lowest instep of the hill, and more still to the left; and then Frascati, with the heights of Tusculum above it; and thence to that wonderfully beautiful opening in the range of hills where Preneste lies; and beyond that, as we turn the delighted eye slowly round to the eastward, the olive-rich hill of Tivoli, the woods that mark the position of Hadrian's Villa, and the whole range of the Sabine Hills. But little do the Roman dames care for the scene so fair. Their eyes are all for matters nearer at hand. They are curiously scanning the men who are going to be the heroes of the day—the butteri—some sitting carelessly on their horses, some lounging around the enclosure. And well aware are they in either case that they are the cynosures of neighboring eyes, and the consciousness that they are so is betrayed in every movement and every glance of their roving eyes. Never did knights of old enter the lists, while the heralds reminded them that bright eyes beheld their deeds, more stimulated to bear themselves well in the coming contest than are these modern knights [pg 733] of the Campagna to show their prowess in the ring which is to witness a not less arduous and hardly less dangerous emprise.

At length the hospitably busy mercante di campagna has seated all his guests, and the work of the day may begin. Some half dozen or so of butteri and their aids enter the arena, which is thoroughly enclosed on all sides by high and secure palisades. The long cloaks are discarded now, as may be supposed. I hardly know when else the butteri are to be seen without them or on foot. Now they are seen as succinct as may be. Every muscle is braced up for the coming struggle, and there may be observed something in the faces and bearing of the men that indicates that the work in hand is not expected to be child's play. They stand in a group in the middle of the enclosed space. The day's work will begin with the most arduous part of it—with that which needs all the fresh strength and address of the men—the marking of the buffaloes. A young buffalo bull, not yet grown to his full strength, but yet abundantly powerful enough to be a very formidable antagonist, is driven into the arena, and the gate by which he has entered is immediately closed behind him. Many a yearling of the more domesticated breeds is a larger and heavier animal, and yet most men would, if they were compelled to such a struggle, prefer to measure their force against an animal of the latter class than against this half-savage creature. He may be considered, indeed, to be wholly savage, save in so far as he may be supposed to inherit from his progenitors the nature of a race that man has more or less perfectly subjected and compelled to labor. On first entering the arena he tosses up his head and shakes the shaggy black locks of wiry hair from before his small wicked-looking eyes, looks half alarmedly, half defiantly around, and stamps three or four times with one fore foot on the ground, partly, as it would seem, in wonder and doubt, and partly in increasing anger. Then he trots slowly round the enclosure, starting aside and shying as the bright colors of the ladies' dresses (at safe distance behind the palisades) catch and offend his eye. Evidently he is seeking an egress and escape from a scene which must appear to him so wondrous and full of strange and unknown dangers. But he has soon satisfied himself that there is no way out, that his enemies have encompassed him about on every side. Then once again he throws his shaggy head into the air, shaking his short thick curly horns in a very menacing manner, and this time accompanying the action with a loud bellow, the compound expression of fear, wonder and wrath.

Now, what has to be done is simply this—to seize him, throw him to the ground on his side, then to impress the branding-iron on his flank, and dismiss him to make way for another. Of course nothing would be easier with properly contrived appliances and means than to accomplish this with promptitude, safety to man and beast, without struggle and without glory. But this would involve change of habitudes, recourse to new methods, modern improvements, a confession to the mind of the buttero that he was no longer able to do what his fathers for many a generation had done before him. It would be to lose the opportunity of exhibiting himself and his prowess on the great festival of the year, together with those subsequent hours of repose and reward for danger and fatigue endured which heroes of all ages, from the quaffers of mead in the halls of Odin to the "food for powder" around the vivandière's paniers, have never disdained. For these sufficient reasons the merca is practiced still in the old way in the Roman Campagna, and the victory of the man over the brute has to be achieved by main force and dexterity. The buttero has not so much as a lasso, or even a halter or a stick, to assist him in the struggle. There is the beast with his horns, and there is the man with his hands. Probably it might have been better to seize the creature instantly on his entry into the arena, while he was under the influence of his first bewilderment; and doubtless when the men have got hot to their work, and the advancing sun warns them to get on [pg 734] with it, the business will be more summarily despatched. But in the first opening of the day's work a little show-off is indulged in. The buffalo has ceased his trot round the railing, and stands head in air as he bellows his defiance. That is the moment seized by the watchful buttero for accepting the challenge. With a sudden spring at the animal he seizes him by the horns, and with a sudden vigorous and knowingly-applied wrench throws him to the ground on his side. Then burst forth the plaudits from the well-dressed crowd, more heartily bestowed perhaps by the ladies than by their kid-gloved cavaliers, who are conscious that they could not have done so much to save their own lives or those of the fair dames by their side. With the fall of the beast to the ground the work is done. All the rest is without difficulty, and is completed in a minute. Other men come forward and apply the brand to the struggling but comparatively helpless brute, who in the next minute finds himself free from his persecutors and at liberty to trot off out of the enclosure.

Thus matters pass in a case where the buttero is master of his business, where he is in his own best condition of muscular force and activity, and where he is not matched against a beast of exceptional strength. It frequently occurs, however, that all these conditions are not fulfilled. Some men are cleverer at it than others. It will be readily understood that, as in wrestling, the knack of the thing counts for much, and sometimes, either from want of this or some other circumstance of disadvantage, the struggle is prolonged. Man and beast put forth their utmost strength. They sway backward and forward; the ground becomes trampled into mud; the strong muscles of the creature's brawny neck resist every effort of his enemy. Not a man of the group within the area comes to the assistance of his comrade. They watch the contest indeed with vigilant eyes, and should real danger to the man's life ensue they are ready to throw themselves forward and overpower or drive off the buffalo. But short of this the fight must be a duel. The man must throw his beast, or be thrown. Not unfrequently, the latter occurs; and then the city crowd, who were so loud in their plaudits of the victor—cruel as their ancestors whose upturned thumbs condemned the conquered gladiator in the Coliseum—are equally loud in their hooting of the prostrate buttero. But only his self-love and self-respect, and not his life, in these days pays the penalty. As he falls worsted his fellows, watchful to prevent mischief, though perhaps not sorry for a rival's discomfiture, rush forward and overpower the conquering brute.

And this goes on until the assembled butteri and their aids have got through their day's work and marked all the animals that were awaiting the brand, and the merca for that year is finished. The citizens, dames and dandies get them back to their carriages and to the city, while the butteri, victors and vanquished alike, spend the night in discussing the vicissitudes of the merca and worshiping Bacchus with rites which in this most conservative of all lands two thousand years have done but little to change.


[pg 735]





Toward eleven o'clock that night Mrs. Rosewarne became somewhat anxious about her girls, and asked her husband to go and meet them, or to fetch them away if they were still at Mr. Trewhella's house.

"Can't they look after themselves?" said George Rosewarne. "I'll be bound Mabyn can, any way. Let her alone to come back when she pleases."

Then his wife began to fret, and as this made him uncomfortable, he said he would walk up the road and meet them. He had no intention of doing so, of course, but it was a good excuse for getting away from a fidgety wife. He went outside into the clear starlight, and lounged down to the small bridge beside the mill, contentedly smoking his pipe.

There he encountered a farmer who was riding home a cob he had bought that day at Launceston, and the farmer and he began to have a chat about horses suggested by that circumstance. Oddly enough, their random talk came round to young Trelyon.

"Your thoroughbreds won't do for this county," George Rosewarne was saying, "to go flying a stone wall and breaking your neck. No, sir. I'll tell you what sort of hunter I should like to have for these parts. I'd have him half-bred, short in the leg, short in the pastern, short in the back, a good sloping shoulder, broad in the chest and the forehead, long in the belly, and just the least bit over fifteen hands—eh, Mr. Thoms? I don't think beauty's of much consequence when your neck's in question. Let him be as angular and ragged in the hips as you like, so long's his ribs are well up to the hip-bone. Have you seen that black horse that young Trelyon rides?"

"'Tis a noble beast, sir—a noble beast," the farmer said; and he would probably have gone on to state what ideal animal had been constructed by his lavish imagination had not a man come running up at this moment, breathless and almost speechless.

"Rosewarne," stammered Mr. Roscorla, "a—a word with you! I want to say—"

The farmer, seeing he was in the way, called out a careless good-night and rode on.

"Well, what's the matter?" said George Rosewarne a little snappishly: he did not like being worried by excitable people.

"Your daughters!" gasped Mr. Roscorla. "They've both run away—both of them—this minute—with Trelyon! You'll have to ride after them. They're straight away along the high-road."

"Both of them? The infernal young fools!" said Rosewarne. "Why the devil didn't you stop them yourself?"

"How could I?" Roscorla said, amazed that the father took the flight of his daughters with apparent equanimity. "You must make haste, Mr. Rosewarne, or you'll never catch them."

"I've a good mind to let 'em go," said he sulkily as he walked over to the stables of the inn. "The notion of a man having to set out on this wild-goose chase at this time o' night! Run away, have they? and what in all the world have they run away for?"

It occurred to him, however, that the sooner he got a horse saddled and set out, the less distance he would have to go in pursuit; and that consideration quickened his movements.

"What's it all about?" said he to Roscorla, who had followed him into the stable.

"I suppose they mean a runaway match," said Mr. Roscorla, helping to saddle George Rosewarne's cob, a famous trotter.

"It's that young devil's limb, Mabyn, I'll be bound," said the father. [pg 736] "I wish to Heaven somebody would marry her!—I don't care who. She's always up to some confounded mischief."

"No, no, no," Roscorla said: "it's Wenna he means to marry."

"Why, you were to have married Wenna?"

"Yes, but—"

"Then why didn't you? So she's run away, has she?" George Rosewarne grinned: he saw how the matter lay.

"This is Mabyn's work, I know," said he as he put his foot in the stirrup and sprang into the saddle. "You'd better go home, Roscorla. Don't you say a word to anybody. You don't want the girl made a fool of all through the place."

So George Rosewarne set out to bring back his daughters; not galloping, as an anxious parent might, but going ahead with a long, steady-going trot, which he knew would soon tell on Mrs. Trelyon's over-fed and under-exercised horses.

"If they mean Plymouth," he was thinking, "as is most likely from their taking the high-road, he'll give it them gently at first. And so that young man wants to marry our Wenna? 'Twould be a fine match for her; and yet she's worth all the money he's got—she's worth it every farthing. I'd give him the other one cheap enough."

Pounding along a dark road, with the consciousness that the farther you go the farther you've got to get back, and that the distance still to be done is an indeterminate quantity, is agreeable to no one, but it was especially vexatious to George Rosewarne, who liked to take things quietly, and could not understand what all the fuss was about. Why should he be sent on this mad chase at midnight? If anybody wanted to marry either of the girls, why didn't he do so and say no more about it? Rosewarne had been merely impatient and annoyed when he set out, but the longer he rode, and the more he communed with himself, the deeper grew his sense of the personal injury that had been done him by this act of folly.

It was a very lonely ride indeed. There was not a human being abroad at that hour. When he passed a few cottages from time to time the windows were dark. Then they had just been putting down a lot of loose stones at several parts of the road, which caused Mr. Rosewarne to swear. "I'll bet a sovereign," said he to himself, "that old Job kept them a quarter of an hour before he opened Paddock's Gate. I believe the old fool goes to bed. Well, they've waked him up for me, any way."

There was some consolation in this surmise, which was well founded. When Rosewarne reached the toll-bar there was at least a light in the small house. He struck on the door with the handle of his riding-whip, and called out, "Hi, hi! Job! Come out, you old fool!"

An old man with very bandy legs came hobbling out of the toll-house, and went to open the gate, talking and muttering to himself: "Ay, ay! so yü be agwoin' after the young uns, Maister Rosewarne? Ay, ay! yü'll go up many a lane and by many a fuzzy 'ill, and acrass a bridge or two, afore yü come up wi' 'en, Maister Rosewarne."

"Look sharp, Job!" said Rosewarne. "Carriage been through here lately?"

"Ay, ay, Maister Rosewarne! 'tis a good half hour agone."

"A half hour, you idiot!" said Rosewarne, now in a thoroughly bad temper. "You've been asleep and dreaming. Here, take your confounded money!"

So he rode on again, not believing, of course, old Job's malicious fabrication, but being rendered all the same a little uncomfortable by it. Fortunately, the cob had not been out before that day.

More deep lanes, more high, open, windy spaces, more silent cottages, more rough stones, and always the measured fall of the cob's feet and the continued shining and throbbing of the stars overhead. At last, far away ahead, on the top of a high incline, he caught sight of a solitary point of ruddy fire, which presently disappeared. That, he concluded, was the carriage he was pursuing going round a corner, and showing only the one lamp as it turned into the lane. They were not so far in front of him as he had supposed.

But how to overtake them? So soon as they heard the sound of his [pg 737] horse would they dash onward at all risks, and have a race for it all through the night? In that case George Rosewarne inwardly resolved that they might go to Plymouth, or into the deep sea beyond, before he would injure his favorite cob.

On the other hand, he could not bring them to a standstill by threatening to shoot at his own daughters, even if he had had anything with him that would look like a pistol. Should he have to rely, then, on the moral terrors of a parent's authority? George Rosewarne was inclined to laugh when he thought of his overawing in this fashion the high spirit of his younger daughter.

By slow and sure degrees he gained on the fugitives, and as he could now catch some sound of the rattling of the carriage-wheels, they must also hear his horse's footfall. Were they trying to get away from him? On the contrary, the carriage stopped altogether.

That was Harry Trelyon's decision. For some time back he had been listening attentively. At length he said, "Don't you hear some one riding back there?"

"Yes, I do," said Wenna, beginning to tremble.

"I suppose it is Mr. Roscorla coming after us," the young man said coolly. "Now I think it would be a shame to drag the old gentleman halfway down to Plymouth. He must have had a good spell already. Shall I stop and persuade him to go back home to bed?"

"Oh no," said Mabyn, who was all for getting on at any risk.

"Oh no," Wenna said, fearing the result of an encounter between the two men.

"I must stop," Trelyon said. "It's such precious hard lines on him. I shall easily persuade him that he would be better at home."

So he pulled up the horses, and quietly waited by the roadside for a few minutes. The unknown rider drew nearer and more near.

"That isn't Roscorla's pony," said Trelyon listening. "That's more like your father's cob."

"My father!" said Wenna in a low voice.

"My darling, you needn't be afraid, whoever it is," Trelyon said.

"Certainly not," added Mabyn, who was far more uncomfortable than she chose to appear. "Who can prevent us going on? They don't lock you up in convents now-a-days. If it is Mr. Roscorla, you just let me talk to him."

Their doubt on that head was soon set at rest. White Charley, with his long swinging trot, soon brought George Rosewarne up to the side of the phaeton, and the girls, long ere he had arrived, had recognized in the gloom the tall figure of their father. Even Mabyn was a trifle nervous.

But George Rosewarne—perhaps because he was a little pacified by their having stopped—did not rage and fume as a father is expected to do whose daughter has run away from him. As soon as he had pulled up his horse he called out in a petulant tone, "Well! what the devil is all this about?"

"I'll tell you, sir," said Trelyon, quite respectfully and quite firmly: "I wished to marry your daughter Wenna—"

"And why couldn't you do that in Eglosilyan, instead of making a fool of everybody all round?" Rosewarne said, still talking in an angry and vexed way, as of one who had been personally injured.

"Oh, dada," Mabyn cried, "you don't know how it happened; but they couldn't have got married there. There's that horrid old wretch, Mr. Roscorla—and Wenna was quite a slave to him and afraid of him—and the only way was to carry her away from him; and so—"

"Hold your tongue, Mabyn," her father said. "You'd drive a windmill with your talk."

"But what she says is true enough," Trelyon said. "Roscorla has a claim on her: this was my only chance, and I took it. Now look here, Mr. Rosewarne: you've a right to be angry and all that—perhaps you are—but what good will it do you to see Wenna left to marry Roscorla?"

[pg 738]

"What good will it do me?" said George Rosewarne pettishly. "I don't care which of you she marries."

"Then you'll let us go on, dada?" Mabyn cried. "Will you come with us? Oh, do come with us! We're only going to Plymouth."

Even the angry father could not withstand the absurdity of this appeal. He burst into a roar of ill-tempered laughter. "I like that!" he cried. "Asking a man to help his daughter to run away from his own house! It's my impression, my young mistress, that you're at the bottom of all this nonsense. Come, come! enough of it, Trelyon: be a sensible fellow, and turn your horses round. Why, the notion of going to Plymouth at this time o' night!"

Trelyon looked to his companion. She put her hand on his arm, and said, in a trembling whisper, "Oh yes: pray let us go back."

"You know what you are going to, then?" said he coldly.

She trembled still more.

"Come, come," said her father: "you mustn't stop here all night. You may thank me for preventing your becoming the talk of the whole country."

"I shouldn't have minded that much," Mabyn said ruefully, and very like to cry indeed, as the horses set out upon their journey back to Eglosilyan.

It was not a pleasant journey for any of them—least of all for Wenna Rosewarne, who, having been bewildered by one wild glimpse of liberty, felt with terror and infinite sadness and despair the old manacles closing round her life again. And what although the neighbors might remain in ignorance of what she had done? She herself knew, and that was enough.

"You think no one will know?" Mabyn called out spitefully to her father. "Do you think old Job at the gate has lost either his tongue or his nasty temper?"

"Leave Job to me," the father replied.

When they got to Paddock's Gate the old man had again to be roused, and he came out grumbling.

"Well, you discontented old sinner!" Rosewarne called to him, "don't you like having to earn a living?"

"A fine livin' to wait on folks that don't knaw their own mind, and keep comin' and goin' along the road o' nights like a weaver's shuttle. Hm!"

"Well, Job, you sha'n't suffer for it this time," Rosewarne said. "I've won my bet. If you made fifty pounds by riding a few miles out, what would you give the gatekeeper?"

Even that suggestion failed to inveigle Job into a better humor.

"Here's a sovereign for you, Job. Now go to bed. Good-night!"

How long the distance seemed to be ere they saw the lights of Eglosilyan again! There were only one or two small points of red fire, indeed, where the inn stood. The rest of the village was buried in darkness.

"Oh, what will mother say?" Wenna said in a low voice to her sister.

"She will be very sorry we did not get away altogether," Mabyn answered. "And of course it was Mr. Roscorla who spoiled it. Nobody knew anything about it but himself. He must have run on to the inn and told some one. Wasn't it mean, Wenna? Couldn't he see that he wasn't wanted?"

"Are you talking of Mr. Roscorla?" Trelyon said: George Rosewarne was a bit ahead at this moment. "I wish to goodness I had gagged him and slung him below the phaeton. I knew he would be coming down there: I expected him every moment. Why were you so late, Mabyn?"

"Oh, you needn't blame me, Mr. Trelyon," said Mabyn, rather hurt. "You know I did everything I could for you."

"I know you did, Mabyn: I wish it had turned out better."

What was this, then, that Wenna heard as she sat there bewildered, apprehensive and sad-hearted? Had her own sister joined in this league to carry her off? It was not merely the audacity of young Trelyon that had led to their meeting. But she was altogether too frightened and wretched to be angry.

As they got down into Eglosilyan and turned the sharp corner over the bridge they did not notice the figure of a man who had been concealing [pg 739] himself in the darkness of a shed belonging to a slate-yard. So soon as they passed he went some little way after them until, from the bridge, he could see them stop at the door of the inn. Was it Mrs. Rosewarne who came out of the glare, and with something like a cry of delight caught her daughter in her arms? He watched the figures go inside and the phaeton drive away up the hill; then, in the perfect silence of the night, he turned and slowly made toward Basset Cottage.



Next morning George Rosewarne was seated on the old oak bench in front of the inn reading a newspaper. Happening to look up, he saw Mr. Roscorla hurrying toward him over the bridge with no very pleasant expression on his face. As he came nearer he saw that the man was strangely excited. "I want to see your daughter alone," he said.

"You needn't speak as if I had tried to run away with her," Rosewarne answered, with more good-nature than was his wont. "Well, go in-doors: ask for her mother."

As Roscorla passed him there was a look in his eyes which rather startled George Rosewarne.

"Is it possible," he asked himself, "that this elderly chap is really badly in love with our Wenna?"

But another thought struck him. He suddenly jumped up, followed Roscorla into the passage, where the latter was standing, and said to him, "Don't you be too harsh with Wenna: she's only a girl, and they are all alike." This hint, however discourteous in its terms, had some significance as coming from a man who was six inches taller than Mr. Roscorla.

Mr. Roscorla was shown into an empty room. He marched up and down, looking at nothing. He was simply in an ungovernable rage. Wenna came and shut the door behind her, and for a second or so he stared at her as if expecting her to burst into passionate professions of remorse. On the contrary, there was something more than calmness in her appearance: there was the desperation of a hunted animal that is driven to turn upon its pursuer in the mere agony of helplessness.

"Well," said he—for indeed his passion almost deprived him of his power of speech—"what have you to say? Perhaps nothing. It is nothing, perhaps, to a woman to be treacherous—to tell smooth lies to your face and to go plotting against you behind your back. You have nothing to say? You have nothing to say?"

"I have nothing to say," she said with some little sadness in her voice, "that would excuse me, either to you or to myself: yes, I know that. But—but I did not intentionally deceive you."

He turned away with an angry gesture.

"Indeed, indeed I did not," she said piteously. "I had mistaken my own feelings—the temptation was too great. Oh, Mr. Roscorla, you need not say harsh things of me, for indeed I think worse of myself than you can do."

"And I suppose you want forgiveness now?" he added bitterly. "But I have had enough of that. A woman pledges you her affection, promises to marry you, professes to have no doubts as to the future; and all the while she is secretly encouraging the attentions of a young jackanapes who is playing with her and making a fool of her."

Wenna Rosewarne's cheeks began to burn red: a less angry man would have taken warning.

"Yes, playing with her and making a fool of her. And for what? To pass an idle time and make her the by-word of her neighbors."

"It is not true, it is not true," she said indignantly; and there was a dangerous light in her eyes. "If he were here, you would not dare to say such things to me—no, you would not dare."

"Perhaps you expect him to call after the pretty exploit of last night?" asked Roscorla with a sneer.

"I do not," she said. "I hope I shall never see him again. It is—it is only misery to every one." And here she broke down, in spite of [pg 740] herself. Her anger gave way to a burst of tears.

"But what madness is this?" Roscorla cried. "You wish never to meet him again, yet you are ready at a moment's notice to run away with him, disgracing yourself and your family. You make promises about never seeing him: you break them the instant you get the opportunity. You profess that your girlish fancy for a barber's block of a fellow has been got over; and then, as soon as one's back is turned, you reveal your hypocrisy."

"Indeed I did not mean to deceive you," she said imploringly. "I did believe that all that was over and gone. I thought it was a foolish fancy."

"And now?" said he hotly.

"Oh, Mr. Roscorla, you ought to pity me instead of being angry with me. I do love him: I cannot help it. You will not ask me to marry you? See, I will undertake not to marry him—I will undertake never to see him again—if only you will not ask me to keep my promise to you. How can I? How can I?"

"Pity you! and these are the confessions you make!" he exclaimed. "Why, are you not ashamed of yourself to say such things to me? And so you would undertake not to marry him? I know what your undertakings are worth."

He had struck her hard—his very hardest indeed—but she would not suffer herself to reply, for she believed she deserved far more punishment than he could inflict. All that she could hope for, all that her whole nature cried out for, was that he should not think her treacherous. She had not intentionally deceived him. She had not planned that effort at escape. But when, in a hurried and pathetic fashion, she endeavored to explain all this to him, he would not listen. He angrily told her he knew well how women could gloss over such matters. He was no schoolboy to be hoodwinked. It was not as if she had had no warning: her conduct before had been bad enough, when it was possible to overlook it on the score of carelessness, but now it was such as would disgrace any woman who knew her honor was concerned in holding to the word she had spoken.

"And what is he?" he cried, mad with wrath and jealousy. "An ignorant booby! a ploughboy! a lout who has neither the manners of a gentleman nor the education of a day-laborer."

"Yes, you may well say such things of him now," said she with her eyes flashing, "when his back is turned. You would not say so if he were here. But he—yes, if he were here—he would tell you what he thinks of you, for he is a gentleman, and not a coward."

Angry as he was, Mr. Roscorla was astounded. The fire in her eyes, the flush in her cheeks, the impetuosity of her voice—were these the patient Wenna of old? But a girl betrays herself sometimes if she happens to have to defend her lover.

"Oh it is shameful of you to say such things!" she said. "And you know they are not true. There is not any one I have ever seen who is so manly and frank and unselfish as Mr. Trelyon—not any one; and if I have seen that, if I have admired it too much, well, that is a great misfortune, and I have to suffer for it."

"To suffer? yes," said he bitterly. "That is a pretty form of suffering that makes you plan a runaway marriage—a marriage that would bring into your possession the largest estates in the north of Cornwall. A very pretty form of suffering! May I ask when the experiment is to be repeated?"

"You may insult me as you like—I am only a woman," she said.

"Insult you?" he cried with fresh vehemence. "Is it insult to speak the truth? Yesterday forenoon, when I saw you, you were all smiles and smoothness. When I spoke of our marriage you made no objection. But all the same you knew that at night—"

"I did not know—I did not know," she said. "You ought to believe me when I tell you I knew no more about it than you did. When I met him there at night, it was all so sudden, so unexpected, I scarcely knew what I said; but now—but now I have time to think. Oh, Mr. Roscorla, don't think that I do not regret it. I will do anything you ask me—I [pg 741] will promise what you please—indeed, I will undertake never to see him again as long as I live in this world; only, you won't ask me to keep my promise to you?"

He made no reply to this offer, for a step outside the door caused him to mutter something very like an oath between his teeth. The door was thrown open. Mabyn marched in, a little pale, but very erect.

"Mabyn, leave us alone for a moment or two," said Wenna, turning away so as to hide the tears on her face.

"I will not. I want to speak a word or two to Mr. Roscorla."

"Mabyn, I want you to go away just now."

Mabyn went over to her sister and took her by the hand: "Wenna, dear, go away to your own room. You've had quite enough—you are trembling all over. I suppose he'll make me tremble next."

"Really, I think your interference is lather extraordinary, Miss Mabyn," said Mr. Roscorla, striving to contain his rage.

"I beg your pardon," said Mabyn meekly. "I only want to say a word or two. Wouldn't it be better here than before the servants?" With that she led Wenna away. In a minute or two she returned.

Mr. Roscorla would rather have been shut up in a den with a hungry tigress. "I am quite at your service," he said with a bitter irony. "I suppose you have some very important communication to make, considering the way in which you—"

"Interfered? Yes, it is time that I interfered," Mabyn said, still quite calm and a trifle pale. "Mr. Roscorla, to be frank, I don't like you, and perhaps I am not quite fair to you. I am only a young girl, and don't know what the world would say about your relations with Wenna. But Wenna is my sister, and I see she is wretched; and her wretchedness—Well, that comes of her engagement to you."

She was standing before him with her eyes cast down, apparently determined to be very moderate in her speech. But there was a cruel frankness in her words which hurt Mr. Roscorla a good deal more than any tempest of passion into which she might have worked herself. "Is that all?" said he. "You have not startled me with any revelations."

"I was going to say," continued Mabyn, "that a gentleman who has really a regard for a girl would not insist on her keeping a promise which only rendered her unhappy. I don't see what you are to gain by it. I suppose you—you expect Wenna to marry you? Well, I dare say if you called on her to punish herself that way, she might do it. But what good would that do you? Would you like to have a wife who was in love with another man?"

"You have become quite logical, Miss Mabyn," said he, "and argument suits you better than getting into a rage. And much of what you say is quite true. You are a very young girl. You don't know much of what the world would say about anything. But being furnished with these admirable convictions, did it never occur to you that you might not be acting wisely in blundering into an affair of which you know nothing?"

The coldly sarcastic fashion in which he spoke threatened to disturb Mabyn's forced equanimity. "Know nothing?" she said. "I know everything about it, and I can see that my sister is miserable: that is sufficient reason for my interference. Mr. Roscorla, you won't ask her to marry you?"

Had the proud and passionate Mabyn condescended to make an appeal to her ancient enemy? At last she raised her eyes, and they seemed to plead for mercy.

"Come, come," he said, roughly: "I've had enough of all this sham beseeching. I know what it means. Trelyon is a richer man than I am: she has let her idle girlish notions go dreaming day-dreams, and so I am expected to stand aside. There has been enough of this nonsense. She is not a child; she knows what she undertook of her own free will; and she knows she can get rid of this school-girl fancy directly if she chooses. I, for one, won't help her to disgrace herself."

Mabyn began to breathe a little more quickly. She had tried to be [pg 742] reasonable; she had even humbled herself and begged from him; now there was a sensation in her chest as of some rising emotion that demanded expression in quick words. "You will try to make her marry you?" said she, looking him in the face.

"I will try to do nothing of the sort," said he. "She can do as she likes. But she knows what an honorable woman would do."

"And I," said Mabyn, her temper at length quite getting the better of her, "I know what an honorable man would do. He would refuse to bind a girl to a promise which she fears. He would consider her happiness to be of more importance than his comfort. Why, I don't believe you care at all whether Wenna marries you or not: it is only you can't bear her being married to the man she really does love. It is only envy, that's what it is. Oh, I am ashamed to think there is a man alive who would force a girl into becoming his wife on such terms!"

"There is certainly one considerable objection to my marrying your sister," said he with great politeness. "The manners of some of her relatives might prove embarrassing."

"Yes, that is true enough," Mabyn said with hot cheeks. "If ever I became a relative of yours, my manners no doubt would embarrass you very considerably. But I am not a relative of yours as yet, nor is my sister."

"May I consider that you have said what you had to say?" said he, taking up his hat.

Proud and angry, and at the same time mortified by her defeat, Mabyn found herself speechless. He did not offer to shake hands with her. He bowed to her in passing out. She made the least possible acknowledgment, and then she was alone. Of course a hearty cry followed. She felt she had done no good. She had determined to be calm, whereas all the calmness had been on his side, and she had been led into speaking in a manner which a discreet and well-bred young lady would have shrunk from in horror. Mabyn sat still and sobbed, partly in anger and partly in disappointment: she dared not even go to tell her sister.

But Mr. Roscorla, as he went over the bridge again and went up to Basset Cottage, had lost all his assumed coolness of judgment and demeanor. He felt he had been tricked by Wenna and insulted by Mabyn, while his rival had established a hold which it would be in vain for him to seek to remove. He was in a passion of rage. He would not go near Wenna again. He would at once set off for London, and enjoy himself there while his holiday lasted: he would not write a word to her; then, when the time arrived, he would set sail for Jamaica, leaving her to her own conscience. He was suffering a good deal from anger, envy and jealousy, but he was consoled by the thought that she was suffering more. And he reflected, with some comfort to himself, that she would scarcely so far demean herself as to marry Harry Trelyon so long as she knew in her heart what he, Roscorla, would think of her for so doing.



"Has he gone?" Wenna asked of her sister the next day.

"Yes, he has," Mabyn answered with a proud and revengeful face. "It was quite true what Mrs. Cornish told me: I've no doubt she had her instructions. He has just driven away to Launceston on his way to London."

"Without a word?"

"Would you like to have had another string of arguments?" Mabyn said impatiently. "Oh, Wenna, you don't know what mischief all this is doing. You are awake all night, you cry half the day: what is to be the end of it? You will work yourself into a fever."

"Yes, there must be an end of it," Wenna said with decision—"not for myself alone, but for others. That is all the reparation I can make now. No girl in all this country has ever acted so badly as I have done: just look at the misery I have caused; but now—"

[pg 743]

"There is one who is miserable because he loves you," Mabyn said.

"Do you think that Mr. Roscorla has no feelings? You are so unjust to him! Well, it does not matter now: all this must come to an end. Mabyn, I should like to see Mr. Trelyon, if just for one minute."

"What will you say to him, Wenna?" her sister said with a sudden fear.

"Something that it is necessary to say to him, and the sooner it is over the better."

Mabyn rather dreaded the result of this interview; and yet, she reflected to herself, here was an opportunity for Harry Trelyon to try to win some promise from her sister. Better, in any case, that they should meet than that Wenna should simply drive him away into banishment without a word of explanation.

The meeting was easily arranged. On the next morning, long before Wenna's daily round of duties had commenced, the two sisters left the inn, and went over the bridge and out to the bold promontory of black rock at the mouth of the harbor. There was nobody about. This October morning was more like a summer day: the air was mild and still, the blue sky without a cloud; the shining sea plashed around the rocks with the soft murmuring noise of a July calm. It was on these rocks long ago that Wenna Rosewarne had pledged herself to become the wife of Mr. Roscorla; and at that time life had seemed to her, if not brilliant and beautiful, at least grateful and peaceful. Now all the peace had gone out of it.

"Oh, my darling!" Trelyon said when she advanced alone toward him—for Mabyn had withdrawn—"it is so good of you to come! Wenna, what has frightened you?"

He had seized both her hands in his, but she took them away again. For one brief second her eyes had met his, and there was a sort of wistful and despairing kindliness in them: then she stood before him, with her face turned away from him, and her voice low and tremulous. "I did wish to see you—for once, for the last time," she said. "If you had gone away, you would have carried with you cruel thoughts of me. I wish to ask your forgiveness—"

"My forgiveness?"

"Yes, for all that you may have suffered, and for all that may trouble you in the future—not in the long future, but for the little time you will remember what has taken place here. Mr. Trelyon, I—I did not know. Indeed, it is all a mystery to me now, and a great misery." Her lips began to quiver, but she controlled herself. "And surely it will only be for a short time, if you think of it at all. You are young—you have all the world before you. When you go away among other people, and see all the different things that interest a young man, you will soon forget whatever has happened here."

"And you say that to me," he said, "and you said the other night that you loved me! It is nothing, then, for people who love each other to go away and be consoled, and never see each other again?"

Again the lips quivered: he had no idea of the terrible effort that was needed to keep this girl calm. "I did say that," she said.

"And it was true?" he broke in.

"It was true then—it is true now: that is all the misery of it," she exclaimed, with tears starting to her eyes.

"And you talk of our being separated for ever!" he cried. "No, not if I can help it. Mabyn has told me of all your scruples: they are not worth looking at. I tell you you are no more bound to that man than Mabyn is, and that isn't much. If he is such a mean hound as to insist on your marrying him, then I will appeal to your father and mother, and they must prevent him. Or I will go to him myself and settle the matter in a shorter way."

"You cannot now," she said: "he has gone away. And what good would that have done? I would never marry any man unless I could do so with a clear and happy conscience; and if you—if you and Mabyn—see nothing in my treatment of him that is wrong, then that is very strange; but I cannot acquit myself. No: I hope no woman will ever [pg 744] treat you as I have treated him. Look at his position—an elderly man, with few friends—he has not all the best of his life before him as you have, or the good spirits of youth; and after he had gone away to Jamaica, taking my promise with him—Oh, I am ashamed of myself when I think on all that has happened!"

"Then you've no right to be," said he hotly. "It was the most natural thing in the world—and he ought to have known it—that a young girl who has been argued into engaging herself to an old man should consider her being in love with another man as something of rather more importance—of a good deal more importance, I should say. And his suffering? He suffers no more than this lump of rock does. That is not his way of thinking—to be bothered about anything. He may be angry, yes—and vexed for the moment, as is natural—but if you think he is going about the world with a load of agony on him, then you're quite mistaken. And if he were, what good could you do by making yourself miserable as well? Wenna, do be reasonable, now."

Had not another, on this very spot, prayed her to be reasonable? She had yielded then. Mr. Roscorla's arguments were incontrovertible, and she had shrinkingly accepted the inevitable conclusion. Now, young Trelyon's representations and pleadings were far less cogent, but how strongly her heart went with him!

"No," she said, as if she were shaking off the influence of the tempter, "I must not listen to you. Yet you don't seem to think that it costs me anything to ask you to bid me good-bye once and for all. It should be less to you than to me. A girl thinks of these things more than a man—she has little else to think of; he goes out into the world and forgets. And you—you will go away, and you will become such a man as all who know you will love to speak of and be proud of; and some day you will come back; and if you like to come down to the inn, then there will be one or two there glad to see you. Mr. Trelyon, don't ask me to tell you why this should be so. I know it to be right: my heart tells me. Now I will say good-bye to you."

"And when I come back to the inn, will you be there?" said he, becoming rather pale. "No: you will be married to a man whom you will hate."

"Indeed, no," she said, with her face flushing and her eyes cast down. "How can that be after what has taken place? He could not ask me. All that I begged of him before he went away was this—that he would not ask me to marry him; and if only he would do that I promised never to see you again—after bidding you good-bye, as I do now."

"And is that the arrangement?" said he rather roughly. "Are we to play at dog in the manger? He is not to marry you himself, but he will not let any other man marry you?"

"Surely he has some right to consideration," she said.

"Well, Wenna," said he, "if you've made up your mind, there's no more to be said; but I think you are needlessly cruel."

"You won't say that, just as we are parting," she said in a low voice. "Do you think it is nothing to me?"

He looked at her for a moment with a great sadness and compunction in his eyes; then, moved by an uncontrollable impulse, he caught her in his arms and kissed her on the lips. "Now," said he, with his face white as death, "tell me that you will never marry any other man as long as you live."

"Yes, I will say that," she said to him in a low voice and with a face as white as his own.

"Swear it, then."

"I have said that I will never marry any other man than you," she said, "and that is enough—for me. But as for you, why must you go away thinking of such things? You will see some day what madness it would have been; you will come some day and thank me for having told you so; and then—and then—if anything should be mentioned about what I said just now, you will laugh at the old, half-forgotten joke."

Well, there was no laughing at the joke just then, for the girl burst [pg 745] into tears, and in the midst of that she hastily pressed his hand and hurried away. He watched her go round the rocks, to the cleft leading down to the harbor. There she was rejoined by her sister, and the two of them went slowly along the path of broken slate, with the green hill above, the blue water below, and the fair sunshine all around them. Many a time he recalled afterward—and always with an increasing weight at his heart—how sombre seemed to him that bright October day and the picturesque opening of the coast leading in to Eglosilyan. For it was the last glimpse of Wenna Rosewarne that he was to have for many a day, and a sadder picture was never treasured up in a man's memory.

"Oh, Wenna, what have you said to him that you tremble so?" Mabyn asked.

"I have bid him good-bye—that is all."

"Not for always?"

"Yes, for always."

"And he is going away again, then?"

"Yes, as a young man should. Why should he stop here to make himself wretched over impossible fancies? He will go out into the world, and he has splendid health and spirits, and he will forget all this."

"And you—you are anxious to forget it all too?"

"Would it not be better? What good can come of dreaming? Well, I have plenty of work to do: that is well."

Mabyn was very much inclined to cry: all her beautiful visions of the future happiness of her sister had been rudely dispelled—all her schemes and machinations had gone for nothing. There only remained to her, in the way of consolation, the fact that Wenna still wore the sapphire ring that Harry Trelyon had sent her.

"And what will his mother think of you?" said Mabyn as a last argument, "when she finds you have sent him away altogether—to go into the army and go abroad, and perhaps die of yellow fever, or be shot by the Sepoys or Caffres?"

"She would have hated me if I had married him," said Wenna simply.

"Oh, Wenna, how dare you say such a thing?" Mabyn cried. "What do you mean by it?"

"Would a lady in her position like her only son to marry the daughter of an innkeeper?" Wenna asked rather indifferently: indeed, her thoughts were elsewhere.

"I tell you there's no one in the world she loves like you—I can see it every time she comes down for you—and she believes, and I believe too, that you have changed Mr. Trelyon's way of talking and his manner of treating people in such a fashion as no one would have considered possible. Do you think she hasn't eyes? He is scarcely ever impertinent now: when he is it is always in good-nature and never in sulkiness. Look at his kindness to Mr. Trewhella's granddaughter, and Mr. Trewhella a clergyman too! Did he ever use to take his mother out for a drive? No, never. And of course she knows whom it is all owing to; and if you would marry Mr. Trelyon, Wenna, I believe she would worship you and think nothing good enough for you."

"Mabyn, I am going to ask something of you."

"Oh yes, I know what it is," her sister said. "I am not to speak any more about your marriage with Mr. Trelyon. But I won't give you any such promise, Wenna. I don't consider that that old man has any hold on you."

Wenna said nothing, for at this moment they entered the house. Mabyn went up with her sister to her room: then she stood undecided for a moment; finally she said, "Wenna. if I've vexed you, I'm very sorry. I won't speak of Mr. Trelyon if you don't wish it. But indeed, indeed, you don't know how many people are anxious that you should be happy; and you can't expect your own sister not to be as anxious as any one else."

"Mabyn, you're a good girl," Wenna said, kissing her. "But I am rather tired to-day: I think I shall lie down for a little while."

Mabyn uttered a sharp cry, for her sister had fallen back on a chair, white and insensible. She hastily bathed her forehead with cold water, [pg 746] she chafed her hands, she got hold of some smelling-salts. It was only a faint, after all, and Wenna, having come to, said she would lie down on the sofa for a few minutes. Mabyn said nothing to her mother about all this, for it would have driven Mrs. Rosewarne wild with anxiety, but she herself was rather disquieted with Wenna's appearance, and she said to herself, with great bitterness of heart, "If my sister falls ill, I know who has done that."



Mr. Roscorla, having had few friends throughout his life, had developed a most methodical habit of communing with himself on all possible subjects, but more particularly, of course, upon his own affairs. He used up his idle hours in defining his position with regard to the people and things around him, and he was never afraid to convince himself of the exact truth. He never tried to cheat himself into the belief that he was more unselfish than might appear: if other people thought so, good and well. He, at least, was not a hypocrite to himself.

Now, he had not been gone above a couple of hours or so from Eglosilyan when he discovered that he was not weighted with terrible woes: on the contrary, he experienced a feeling of austere satisfaction that he was leaving a good deal of trouble behind him. He had been badly used, he had been righteously angry. It was right that they who had thus used him badly should be punished. As for him, if his grief did not trouble him much, that was a happy peculiarity of his temperament which did not lessen their offence against him.

Most certainly he was not weighted with woe. He had a pleasant drive in the morning over to Launceston; he smoked a cigarette or two in the train; when he arrived at Plymouth he ordered a very nice luncheon at the nearest hotel, and treated himself to a bottle of the best Burgundy the waiter could recommend him. After that he got into a smoking-carriage in the London express, he lit a large cigar, he wrapped a thick rug round his legs, and settled himself down in peace for the long journey. Now was an excellent time to find out exactly how his affairs stood.

He was indeed very comfortable. Leaving Eglosilyan had not troubled him. There was something in the knowledge that he was at last free from all those exciting scenes which a quiet, middle-aged man, not believing in romance, found trying to his nervous system. This brief holiday in Eglosilyan had been anything but a pleasant one: was he not, on the whole, glad to get away?

Then he recollected that the long-expected meeting with his betrothed had not been so full of delight as he had anticipated. Was there not just a trace of disappointment in the first shock of feeling at their meeting? She was certainly not a handsome woman—such a one as he might have preferred to introduce to his friends about Kensington in the event of his going back to live in London.

Then he thought of old General Weekes. He felt a little ashamed of himself for not having had the courage to tell the general and his wife that he meant to marry one of the young ladies who had interested them. Would it not be awkward, too, to have to introduce Wenna Rosewarne to them in her new capacity?

That speculation carried him on to the question of his marriage. There could be no doubt that his betrothed had become a little too fond of the handsomest young man in the neighborhood. Perhaps that was natural, but at all events she was now very much ashamed of what had happened, and he might trust her to avoid Harry Trelyon in the future. That having been secured, would not her thoughts naturally drift back to the man to whom she had plighted a troth which was still formally binding on her? Time was on his side. She would forget that young man: she would be anxious, as soon as these temporary disturbances of her affections were over, to atone for the past by her conduct in the future. Girls had very strong notions about duty.

Well, he drove to his club, and finding one of the bed-rooms free, he [pg 747] engaged it for a week, the longest time possible. He washed, dressed and went down to dinner. To his great delight, the first man he saw was old Sir Percy himself, who was writing out a very elaborate menu, considering that he was ordering dinner for himself only. He and Mr. Roscorla agreed to dine together.

Now, for some years back Mr. Roscorla in visiting his club had found himself in a very isolated and uncomfortable position. Long ago he had belonged to the younger set—to those reckless young fellows who were not afraid to eat a hasty dinner, and then rush off to take a mother and a couple of daughters to the theatre, returning at midnight to some anchovy toast and a glass of Burgundy, followed by a couple of hours of brandy-and-soda, cigars and billiards. But he had drifted away from that set; indeed, they had disappeared, and he knew none of their successors. On the other hand, he had never got into the ways of the old-fogy set. Those stout old gentlemen who carefully drank nothing but claret and seltzer, who took a quarter of an hour to write out their dinner-bill, who spent the evening in playing whist, kept very much to themselves. It was into this set that the old general now introduced him. Mr. Roscorla had quite the air of a bashful young man when he made one of a party of those ancients, who dined at the same table each evening. He was almost ashamed to order a pint of champagne for himself—it savored so much of youth. He was silent in the presence of his seniors, and indeed they were garrulous enough to cover his silence. Their talk was mostly of politics—not the politics of the country, but the politics of office—of undersecretaries and candidates for place. They seemed to look on the government of the country as a sort of mechanical clock, which from time to time sent out a few small figures, and from time to time took them in again; and they showed an astonishing acquaintance with the internal and intricate mechanism which produced these changes. Perhaps it was because they were so busy in watching for changes on the face of the clock that they seemed to forget the swinging onward of the great world outside and the solemn march of the stars.

Most of those old gentlemen had lived their life—had done their share of heavy dining and reckless drinking many years ago—and thus it was they had come to drink seltzer and claret. But it appeared that it was their custom after dinner to have the table-cover removed and some port wine placed on the mahogany. Mr. Roscorla, who had felt as yet no ugly sensations about his finger-joints, regarded this ceremony with equanimity, but it was made the subject of some ominous joking on the part of his companions. Then joking led to joking. There were no more politics. Some very funny stories were told. Occasionally one or two names were introduced, as of persons well known in London society, though not of it; and Mr. Roscorla was surprised that he had never heard these names before: you see how one becomes ignorant of the world if one buries one's self down in Cornwall. Mr. Roscorla began to take quite an interest in these celebrated people, in the price of their ponies, and the diamonds they were understood to have worn at a certain very singular ball. He was pleased to hear, too, of the manner in which the aristocracy of England were resuming their ancient patronage of the arts, for he was given to understand that a young earl or baron could scarcely be considered a man of fashion unless he owned a theatre.

On their way up to the card-room Mr. Roscorla and one of his venerable companions went into the hall to get their cigar-cases from their [pg 748] top-coat pockets. This elderly gentleman had been the governor of an island in the Pacific: he had now been resident for many years in England. He was on the directorate of one or two well-known commercial companies; he had spoken at several meetings on the danger of dissociating religion from education in the training of the young; in short, he was a tower of respectability. On the present occasion he had to pull out a muffler to get at his cigar-case, and with the muffler came a small parcel tied up in tissue-paper.

"Neat, aren't they?" said he with a senile grin, showing Mr. Roscorla the tips of a pair of pink satin slippers.

"Yes," said Mr. Roscorla: "I suppose they're for your daughter."

They went up to the card-room.

"I expect you'll teach us a lesson, Roscorla," said the old general. "Gad! some of you West Indian fellows know the difference between a ten and an ace."

"Last time I played cards," Roscorla said modestly, "I was lucky enough to win forty-eight pounds,"

"Whew! We can't afford that sort of thing on this side of the water—not if you happen to serve Her Majesty, any way. Come, let's cut for partners."

There was but little talking, of course, during the card-playing: at the end of it Mr. Roscorla found he had only lost half a sovereign. Then everybody adjourned to a snug little smoking-room, to which only members were admitted. This, to the neophyte, was the pleasantest part of the evening. He seemed to hear of everything that was going on in London, and a good deal more besides. He was behind the scenes of all the commercial, social and political performances which were causing the vulgar crowd to gape. He discovered the true history of the hostility shown by So-and-so to the premier; he was told the little scandal which caused Her Majesty to refuse to knight a certain gentleman who had claims on the government; he heard what the duke really did offer to the gamekeeper whose eye he had shot out, and the language used by the keeper on the occasion; and he received such information about the financial affairs of many a company as made him wonder whether the final collapse of the commercial world were at hand. He forgot that he had heard quite similar stories twenty years before. Then they had been told by ingenuous youths full of the importance of the information they had just acquired: now they were told by garrulous old gentlemen, with a cynical laugh which was more amusing than the hot-headed asseveration of the juniors. It was, on the whole, a delightful evening, this first evening of his return to club-life; and then it was so convenient to go up stairs to bed instead of having to walk from the inn of Eglosilyan to Basset Cottage.

Just before leaving, the old general took Roscorla aside, and said to him, "Monstrous amusing fellows, eh?"


"Just a word. Don't you let old Lewis lug you into any of his companies: you understand?"

"There's not much fear of that," Mr. Roscorla said with a laugh. "I haven't a brass farthing to invest."

"All you West Indians say that: however, so much the better. And there's old Stratford, too: he's got some infernal India rubber patent. Gad, sir! he knows no more about those commercial fellows than the man in the moon; and they'll ruin him—mark my words, they'll ruin him."

Roscorla was quite pleased to be advised. It made him feel young and ingenuous. After all, the disparity in years between him and his late companions was most obvious.

"And when are you coming to dine with us, eh?" the general said, lighting a last cigar and getting his hat. "To-morrow night?—quiet family party, you know: her ladyship'll be awfully glad to see you. Is it a bargain? All right—seven: we're early folks. I say, you needn't mention I dined here to-night: to tell you the truth, I'm supposed to be looking after a company too, and precious busy about it. Mum's the word, d'ye see?"

Really this plunge into a new sort of life was quite delightful. When he went down to breakfast next morning, he was charmed with the order and cleanliness of everything around him; the sunlight was shining in at the large windows; there was a bright fire, in front of which he stood and read the paper until his cutlets came. There was no croaking of an old Cornish housekeeper over her bills—no necessity for seeing if the grocer had been correct in his addition. Then there was a [pg 749] slight difference between the cooking here and that which prevailed in Basset Cottage.

In a comfortable frame of mind he leisurely walked down to Canon street and announced himself to his partners. He sat for an hour or so in a snug little parlor, talking over their joint venture and describing all that had been done. There was indeed every ground for hope, and he was pleased to hear them say that they were specially obliged to him for having gone out to verify the reports that had been sent home, and for his personal supervision while there. They hoped he would draw on the joint association for a certain sum which should represent the value of that supervision.

Now, if Mr. Roscorla had really been possessed at this moment of the wealth to which he looked forward, he would not have taken so much interest in it. He would have said to himself, "What is the life I am to lead, now that I have this money? Having luncheon at the club, walking in the Park in the afternoon, dining with a friend in the evening, and playing whist or billiards, with the comfortless return to my bachelor's chambers at night? Is that all that my money can give me?"

But he had not the money. He looked forward to it, and it seemed to him that it contained all the possibilities of happiness. Then he would be free. No more stationary dragging out of existence in that Cornish cottage. He would move about, he would enjoy life. He was still younger than those jovial old fellows, who seemed to be happy enough. When he thought of Wenna Rosewarne it was with the notion that marriage very considerably hampers a man's freedom of action.

If a man were married, could he have a choice of thirty dishes for luncheon? Could he have the first edition of the evening papers brought him almost damp from the press? Then how pleasant it was to be able to smoke a cigar and to write one or two letters at the same time in a large and well-ventilated room! Mr. Roscorla did not fail to draw on his partners for the sum they had mentioned: he was not short of money, but he might as well gather the first few drops of the coming shower.

He did not go up to walk in the Park, for he knew there would be almost nobody there at that time of the year; but he walked up to Bond street and bought a pair of dress-boots, after which he returned to the club and played billiards with one of his companions of the previous evening until it was time to dress for dinner.

The party at the general's was a sufficiently small one, for you cannot ask any one to dinner at a few hours' notice, except it be a merry and marriageable widow who has been told that she will meet an elderly and marriageable bachelor. This complaisant lady was present; and Mr. Roscorla found himself on his entrance being introduced to a good-looking, buxom dame, who had a healthy, merry, roseate face, very black eyes and hair, and a somewhat gorgeous dress. She was a trifle demure at first, but her amiable shyness soon wore off, and she was most kind to Mr. Roscorla. He, of course, had to take in Lady Weekes; but Mrs. Seton-Willoughby sat opposite him, and, while keeping the whole table amused with an account of her adventures in Galway, appeared to address the narrative principally to the stranger.

"Oh, my dear Lady Weekes," she said, "I was so glad to get back to Brighton! I thought I should have forgotten my own language, and taken to war-paint and feathers, if I had remained much longer. And Brighton is so delightful just now—just comfortably filled, without the November crush having set in. Now, couldn't you persuade the general to take you down for a few days? I am going down on Friday, and you know how dreadful it is for a poor lone woman to be in a hotel, especially with a maid who spends all her time in flirting with the first-floor waiters. Now, won't you, dear? I assure you the —— Hotel is most charming—such freedom, and the pleasant parties they make up in the drawing-room! I believe they have a ball two or three nights a week just now."

[pg 750]

"I should have thought you would have found the —— rather quieter," said Mr. Roscorla, naming a good, old-fashioned house.

"Rather quieter?" said the widow, raising her eyebrows. "Yes, a good deal quieter? About as quiet as a dissenting chapel. No, no: if one means to have a little pleasure, why go to such a place as that? Now, will you come and prove the truth of what I have told you?"

Mr. Roscorla looked alarmed, and even the solemn Lady Weekes had to conceal a smile.

"Of course I mean you to persuade our friends here to come too," the widow explained. "What a delightful frolic it would be—for a few days, you know—to break away from London! Now, my dear, what do you say?"

She turned to her hostess. That small and sombre person referred her to the general. The general, on being appealed to, said he thought it would be a capital joke; and would Mr. Roscorla go with them? Mr. Roscorla, not seeing why he should not have a little frolic of this sort, just like any one else, said he would. So they agreed to meet at Victoria Station on the following Friday.

"Struck, eh?" said the old general when the two gentlemen were alone after dinner. "Has she wounded you, eh? Gad, sir! that woman has eight thousand pounds a year in the India Four per Cents. Would you believe it? Would you believe that any man could have been such a fool as to put such a fortune into India Four per Cents.?—with mortgages going a-begging at six, and the marine insurance companies paying thirteen! Well, my boy, what do you think of her? She was most uncommonly attentive to you, that I'll swear: don't deny it—now, don't deny it. Bless my soul! you marrying men are so sly there is no getting at you. Well, what was I saying? Yes, yes—will she do? Eight thousand a year, as I'm a living sinner!"

Mr. Roscorla was intensely flattered to have it even supposed that the refusal of such a fortune was within his power.

"Well," said he, modestly and yet critically, "she's not quite my style. I'm rather afraid of three-deckers. But she seems a very good-natured sort of woman."

"Good-natured! Is that all you say? I can tell you, in my time men were nothing so particular when there were eight thousand a year going a-begging."

"Well, well," said Mr. Roscorla with a smile, "it is a very good joke. When she marries, she'll marry a younger man than I am."

"Don't you be mistaken—don't you be mistaken!" the old general cried. "You've made an impression—I'll swear you have; and I told her ladyship you would."

"And what did Lady Weekes say?"

"Gad, sir! she said it would be a deuced good thing for both of you."

"She is very kind," said Mr. Roscorla, pleased at the notion of having such a prize within reach, and yet not pleased that Lady Weekes should have fancied this the sort of woman he would care to marry.

They went to Brighton, and a very pleasant time of it they had at the big noisy hotel. The weather was delightful. Mrs. Seton-Willoughby was excessively fond of riding: forenoon and afternoon they had their excursions, with the pleasant little dinner of the evening to follow. Was not this a charmed land into which the former hermit of Basset Cottage was straying? Of course, he never dreamed for a moment of marrying this widow: that was out of the question. She was just a little too demonstrative—very clever and amusing for half an hour or so, but too gigantic a blessing to be taken through life. It was the mere possibility of marrying her, however, which attracted Mr. Roscorla. He honestly believed, judging by her kindness to him, that if he seriously tried he could get her to marry him—in other words, that he might become possessed of eight thousand pounds a year. This money, so to speak, was within his reach; and it was only now that he was beginning to see that money could purchase many pleasures even for the middle-aged. He made a great mistake in imagining, down in [pg 751] Cornwall, that he had lived his life, and that he had but to look forward to mild enjoyments, a peaceful wandering onward to the grave, and the continual study of economy in domestic affairs. He was only now beginning to live.

"And when are you coming back?" said the widow to him one evening when they were all talking of his leaving England.

"That I don't know," he said.

"Of course," she said, "you don't mean to remain in the West Indies. I suppose lots of people have to go there for some object or other, but they always come back when it is attained."

"They come back to attain some other object here," said Mr. Roscorla.

"Then we'll soon find you that," the general burst in. "No man lives out of England who can help it. Don't you find in this country enough to satisfy you?"

"Indeed I do," Mr. Roscorla said, "especially within the last few days. I have enjoyed myself enormously. I shall always have a friendly recollection of Brighton."

"Are you going down to Cornwall before you leave?" Sir Percy asked.

"No," said he slowly.

"That isn't quite so cheerful as Brighton, eh?"

"Not quite."

He kept his word. He did not go back to Cornwall before leaving England, nor did he send a single line or message to any one there. It was with something of a proud indifference that he set sail, and also with some notion that he was being amply revenged. For the rest, he hated "scenes," and he had encountered quite enough of these during his brief visit to Eglosilyan.



When Wenna heard that Mr. Roscorla had left England without even bidding her good-bye by letter, she accepted the rebuke with submission, and kept her own counsel. She went about her daily duties with an unceasing industry: Mrs. Trelyon was astonished to see how she seemed to find time for everything. The winter was coming on, and the sewing club was in full activity, but even apart from the affairs of that enterprise, Wenna Rosewarne seemed to be everywhere throughout the village, to know everything, to be doing everything that prudent help and friendly counsel could do. Mrs. Trelyon grew to love the girl in her vague, wondering, simple fashion.

So the days and the weeks and the months went by, and the course of life ran smoothly and quietly in the remote Cornish village. Apparently there was nothing to indicate the presence of bitter regrets, of crushed hopes, of patient despair; only Mabyn used to watch her sister at times, and she fancied that Wenna's face was growing thinner.

The Christmas festivities came on, and Mrs. Trelyon was pleased to lend her protégée a helping hand in decorating the church. One evening she said, "My dear Miss Wenna, I am going to ask you an impertinent question. Could your family spare you on Christmas evening? Harry is coming down from London: I am sure he would be so pleased to see you."

"Oh, thank you, Mrs. Trelyon," Wenna said, with just a little nervousness. "You are very kind, but indeed I must be at home on Christmas evening."

"Perhaps some other evening while he is here you will be able to come up," said Mrs. Trelyon in her gentle way. "You know you ought to come and see how your pupil is getting on. He writes me such nice letters now; and I fancy he is working very hard at his studies, though he says nothing about it."

"I am very glad to hear that," Wenna said in a low voice.

Trelyon did come to the Hall for a few days, but he kept away from the village, and was seen by no one of the Rosewarnes. But on the Christmas morning, Mabyn Rosewarne, being early about, was told that Mrs. Trelyon's groom wished to see her, and, going down, she found the man, with a basket before him.

[pg 752]

"Please, miss, Mr. Trelyon's compliments, and would you take the flowers out of the cotton-wool and give them to Miss Rosewarne?"

"Oh, won't I?" said Mabyn, opening the basket at once, and carefully getting out a bouquet of camellias, snowdrops and sweet violets. "Just you wait a minute, Jakes, for I've got a Christmas-box for you."

Mabyn went up stairs as rapidly as was consistent with the safety of the flowers, and burst into her sister's room: "Oh, Wenna, look at this! Do you know who sent them? Did you ever see anything so lovely?"

For a second the girl seemed almost frightened; then her eyes grew troubled and moist, and she turned her head away. Mabyn put them gently down and left the room without a word.

The Christmas and the New Year passed without any message from Mr. Roscorla; and Mabyn, though she rebelled against the bondage in which her sister was placed, was glad that she was not disturbed by angry letters. About the middle of January, however, a brief note arrived from Jamaica.

"I cannot let such a time go by," Mr. Roscorla wrote, "whatever may be our relations, without sending you a friendly word. I do hope the new year will bring you health and happiness, and that we shall in time forget the angry manner in which we parted and all the circumstances leading to it."

She wrote as brief a note in reply, at the end of which she hoped he would forgive her for any pain he had suffered through her. Mabyn was rejoiced to find that the correspondence—whether it was or was not meant on his part to be an offer of reconciliation—stopped there.

And again the slow days went by until the world began to stir with the new spring-time—the saddest time of the year to those who live much in the past. Wenna was out and about a great deal, being continually busy, but she no longer took those long walks by herself in which she used to chat to the butterflies and the young lambs and the sea-gulls. The fresh western breezes no longer caused her spirits to flow over in careless gayety: she saw the new flowers springing out of the earth, but it was of another spring-time she was thinking.

One day, later on in the year, Mrs. Trelyon sent down the wagonette for her, with the request that she would come up to the Hall for a few minutes. Wenna obeyed the summons, imagining that some business connected with the sewing club claimed her attention. When she arrived she found Mrs. Trelyon unable to express the gladness and gratitude that filled her heart; for before her were certain London newspapers, and, behold! Harry Trelyon's name was recorded there in certain lists as having scored a sufficient number of marks in the examination to entitle him to a first commission. It was no concern of hers that his name was pretty far down in the list—enough that he had succeeded somehow. And who was the worker of this miracle?—who but the shy, sad-eyed girl standing beside her, whose face wore now a happier expression than it had worn for many a day.

"And this is what he says," the proud mother continued, showing Wenna a letter: '"It isn't much to boast of, for indeed you'll see by the numbers that it was rather a narrow squeak: anyhow, I pulled through. My old tutor is rather a speculative fellow, and he offered to bet me fifty pounds his coaching would carry me through, which I took; so I shall have to pay him that besides his fees. I must say he has earned both: I don't think a more ignorant person than myself ever went to a man to get crammed. I send you two newspapers: you might drop one at the inn for Miss Rosewarne any time you are passing, or if you could see her and tell her, perhaps that would be better.'"

Wenna was about as pleased and proud as Mrs. Trelyon was. "I knew he could do it if he tried," she said quietly.

"And then," the mother went on to say, "when he has once joined there will be no money wanting to help him to his promotion; and when he comes back to settle down here, he will have some recognized rank and [pg 753] profession, such as a man ought to have. Not that he will remain in the army, for of course I should not like to part with him, and he might be sent to Africa or Canada or the West Indies. You know," she added with a smile, "that it is not pleasant to have any one you care for in the West Indies."

When Wenna got home again she told Mabyn. Strange to say, Mabyn did not clap her hands for joy, as might have been expected.

"Wenna," said she, "what made him go into the army? Was it to show you that he could pass an examination? or was it because he means to leave England?"

"I do not know," said Wenna, looking down. "I hope he does not mean to leave England." That was all she said.

Harry Trelyon was, however, about to leave England, though not because he had been gazetted to a colonial regiment. He came down to inform his mother that on the fifteenth of the month he would sail for Jamaica; and then and there, for the first time, he told her the whole story of his love for Wenna Rosewarne, of his determination to free her somehow from the bonds that bound her, and, failing that, of the revenge he meant to take. Mrs. Trelyon was amazed, angry and beseeching in turns. At one moment she protested that it was madness of her son to think of marrying Wenna Rosewarne; at another, she would admit all that he said in praise of her, and would only implore him not to leave England; or again she would hint that she would almost herself go down to Wenna and beg her to marry him if only he gave up this wild intention of his. He had never seen his mother so agitated, but he reasoned gently with her, and remained firm to his purpose. Was there half as much danger in taking a fortnight's trip in a mail-steamer as in going from Southampton to Malta in a yacht, which he had twice done with her consent?

"Why, if I had been ordered to join a regiment in China, you might have some reason to complain," he said. "And I shall be as anxious as you, mother, to get back again, for I mean to get up my drill thoroughly as soon as I am attached. I have plenty of work before me."

"You're not looking well, Harry," said the mother.

"Of course not," said he cheerfully. "You don't catch one of those geese at Strasburg looking specially lively when they tie it by the leg and cram it; and that's what I've been going through of late. But what better cure can there be than a sea-voyage?"

And so it came about that on a pleasant evening in October Mr. Roscorla received a visit. He saw the young man come riding up the acacia path, and he instantaneously guessed his mission. His own resolve was taken as quickly.

"Bless my soul! is it you, Trelyon?" he cried with apparent delight. "You mayn't believe it, but I am really glad to see you. I have been going to write to you for many a day back. I'll send somebody for your horse: come into the house."

The young man, having fastened up the bridle, followed his host. There was a calm and business-like rather than a holiday look on his face. "And what were you going to write to me about?" he asked.

"Oh, you know," said Roscorla good-naturedly. "You see, a man takes very different views of life when he knocks about a bit. For my part, I am more interested in my business now than in anything else of a more tender character; and I may say that I hope to pay you back a part of the money you lent me as soon as our accounts for this year are made up. Well, about that other point: I don't see how I could well return to England, to live permanently there, for a year or two at the soonest; and—and, in fact, I have often wondered, now, whether it wouldn't be better if I asked Miss Rosewarne to consider herself finally free from that—from that engagement."

"Yes, I think it would be a great deal better," said Trelyon coldly. "And perhaps you would kindly put your resolve into writing. I shall [pg 754] take it back to Miss Rosewarne. Will you kindly do so now?"

"Why," said Roscorla rather sharply, "you don't take my proposal in a very friendly way. I imagine I am doing you a good turn too. It is not every man would do so in my position; for, after all, she treated me very badly. However, we needn't go into that. I will write her a letter, if you like—now, indeed, if you like; and won't you stop a day or two here before going back to Kingston?"

Mr. Trelyon intimated that he would like to have the letter at once, and that he would consider the invitation afterward. Roscorla, with a good-humored shrug, sat down and wrote it, and then handed it to Trelyon, open. As he did so he noticed that the young man was coolly abstracting the cartridge from a small breech-loading pistol he held in his hand. He put the cartridge in his waistcoat pocket and the pistol in his coat pocket.

"Did you think we were savages out here, that you came armed?" said Roscorla, rather pale, but smiling.

"I didn't know," said Trelyon.

One morning there was a marriage in Eglosilyan, up there at the small church on the bleak downs overlooking the wide sea. The spring-time had come round again; there was a May-like mildness in the air; the skies overhead were as blue as the great plain of the sea; and all the beautiful green world was throbbing with the upspringing life of the flowers. It was just like any other wedding, but for one little incident. When the bride came out into the bewildering glare of the sun, she vaguely knew that the path through the churchyard was lined on both sides with children. Now, she was rather well known to the children about, and they had come in a great number; and when she passed down between them it appeared that the little folks had brought vast heaps of primroses and violets in their aprons and in tiny baskets, and they strewed her path with these flowers of the new spring. Well, she burst into tears at this, and hastily leaving her husband's arm for a moment, she caught up one of the least of the children—a small, golden-haired girl of four—and kissed her. Then she turned to her husband again, and was glad that he led her down to the gale, for her eyes were so blinded with tears that she could not see her way.

Nor did anything very remarkable occur at the wedding-breakfast. But there was a garrulous old lady there with bright pink cheeks and silvery hair; and she did not cease to prattle to the clergyman who had officiated in the church, and who was seated next her. "Indeed, Mr. Trewhella," she said confidentially, "I always said this is what would come of it. Never any one of those Trelyons set his heart on a girl but he got her; and what was the use of friends or relatives fighting against it? Nay, I don't think there's any cause of complaint—not I! She's a modest, nice, ladylike girl: she is indeed, although she isn't so handsome as her sister. Dear, dear me! look at that girl now! Won't she be a prize for some man? I declare I haven't seen so handsome a girl for many a day. And, as I tell you, Mr. Trewhella, it's no use trying to prevent it: if one of the Trelyons falls in love with a girl, the girl's done for: she may as well give in."

"If I may say so," observed the old clergyman, with a sly gallantry, "you do not give the gentlemen of your family credit for the most remarkable feature of their marriage connections. They seem to have had always a very good idea of making an excellent choice."

The old lady was vastly pleased. "Ah, well," she said, with a shrewd smile, "there were two or three who thought George Trelyon—that was this young man's grandfather, you know—lucky enough, if one might judge by the noise they made. Dear, dear! what a to-do there was when we ran away! Why, don't you know, Mr. Trewhella, that I ran away from a ball with him, and drove to Gretna Green with my ball-dress on, as I'm a living woman? Such a ride it was!—why, when we got up to Carlisle—"

But that story has been told before.

[pg 755]



I lie in my red canoe

On the water still and deep,

And o'er me darkens the blue,

And beneath the billows sleep,

Till, between the stars o'erhead

And those in the lake's embrace,

I seem to float like the dead

In the noiselessness of space.

Betwixt two worlds I drift,

A bodiless soul again—

Between the still thoughts of God

And those which belong to men;

And out of the height above,

And out of the deep below,

A thought that is like a ghost

Seems to gather and gain and grow,

That now and for evermore

This silence of death shall hold,

While the nations fade and die

And the countless years are rolled.

But I turn the light canoe,

And, darting across the night,

Am glad of the paddles' noise

And the camp-fire's honest light.



An interest attaches to Mr. Mill's posthumous Essays on Religion which is quite independent of their intrinsic value or importance. The position of their author at the head of an active school of thinkers gives them to a certain extent a representative character, while, in connection with the curious account of his mental training presented in his autobiography, they merit perhaps still closer attention as a subject of psychological study. It is not, however, in this latter light that we can undertake to examine them here. Our object is merely to point out some of the fallacies and contradictions which might escape the notice of a cursory reader, and which show with how uncertain a step a philosopher who piqued himself on the clearness and severity of his logic moves on ground where a stronger light than that of reason was needed to irradiate his path.

[pg 756]

The first essay is devoted to an examination of the ways of Nature as unmodified by the voluntary agency of man. These the author finds worthy of all abhorrence; and Nature in its purely physical aspect he considers to be full of blemishes, which are patent to the eye of modern science, and which "all but monkish quietists think it a religious duty to amend." A competent master-workman with good materials would not have turned out a world so "bunglingly" made, with great patches of poisonous morass and arid desert unfit for human habitation, with coal and other requisites for man's comfort stored away out of sight, with the rivers all unbridged, and mountains and other impediments thrown in the way of free locomotion. So far, then, from its being man's duty to imitate Nature, as some have thought it was, it is incumbent upon him to oppose her with all his powers, because of her gross injustice in the realm of morals, and to remedy her physical defects as far as lies in his power. On this view of Nature our fathers were wiser in their generation than we when they trimmed their trees into grotesque shapes and laid out their landscapes in geometric lines; when in medicine they substituted the lancet and unlimited mercury for the vis medicatrix naturae; when in philosophy they dictated to Nature from their internal consciousness, before Bacon introduced the heresy of induction; when in politics they had a profound faith in statutes and none at all in statistics; when in education they conscientiously rammed down the ologies at the point of the ferule, in blissful ignorance of psychology. If Mr. Mill finds it necessary to rail at Nature because she did not put coal on the top of the ground and build bridges and dig wells for man's convenience, why not call her a jade at once because she does not grow ready-made clothing of the latest mode in sizes to suit, because the trees do not bear hot rolls and coffee, and because Mr. Mill's philosophy is not an intuition of the mind? He is less restrained in speaking of the moral enormities of Nature. Altogether the most striking passage in the book is his indictment of the Author of Nature, which is truly Satanic in its audacity and hardly to be paralleled in literature for its impiety; for it is impious even from Mr. Mill's standpoint, since he admits that the weight of evidence tends to prove that Nature's Author is both wise and good. We transcribe only some of his expressions: "Nearly all things which men are hanged or imprisoned for doing to one another are Nature's every-day performances;" she "has a hundred hideous deaths" reserved for her victims, "such as the ingenious cruelty of a Nabis or a Domitian never surpassed," which "she uses with the most supercilious disregard both of mercy and justice;" "she inflicts torture in apparent wantonness;" "everything which the worst men commit against life and property is perpetrated on a larger scale by natural agents;" "Nature has noyades more fatal than those of Carrier: her plague and cholera far surpass the poison-cups of the Borgias." Such are a few of the impassioned and presumptuous expressions which Mr. Mill allows himself to use in speaking of the great mystery of human suffering, which others touch with reverence, and do not dare to reprobate, since they cannot understand. His words are as false as they are bold. Fierce and terrible as Nature is in some of her aspects, it is not true that her prevailing attitude is, as here indicated, one of bitter hostility to the race she nourishes on her bosom. If she were the monster here described, mankind would long ago have perished under her persistent cruelties, and Mr. Mill's profane cry would never have gone up to Heaven. Men will always regard the world subjectively, and adjudge it happy or the reverse according to their temperament or passing humor; but, if it be conceded—as it is by Mr. Mill through his whole argument—that man is a moral creature, with a true power of self-determination within certain limits, and with sufficient intelligence to discern the laws of Nature, and that therefore all the pain that man brings upon himself by voluntary violation of discovered law is to be deducted from the sum-total of human suffering to arrive at the amount that is [pg 757] attributable to Nature, most men, if they are honest, will on reflection admit that Nature brings to the great body of the human family immeasurably more comfort, if not pleasure, than she does pain. Take the senses, which are the sources of physical pleasure. How seldom, comparatively, the eye is pained, while it rests with habitual gratification upon the sky and landscape, and on the human form divine when unmarred by vice! How rarely the taste is offended or the appetite starved, while every meal, be it ever so simple, yields enjoyment to the palate! The ear is regaled with the perpetual music of wind and ocean and feathered minstrelsy, of childhood's voice and the sweet converse of friends. So, too, Nature is a great laboratory of delicate odors: the salt breath of the sea is like wine to the sense; the summer air is freighted with delights, and every tree and flower exhales fragrance: only where danger lurks does Nature assault the nostrils with kindly warning. If it be objected that vast numbers of the race live in cities where every sense is continually offended, it is to be remembered that "man made the town," and is to be held responsible for the unhappiness there resulting from his violations of natural law. But even in cities Nature is more kind to man than he is to himself, and dulls his faculties against the deformities and discords of his own creating. From the sense of feeling it is probable we receive more pain than pleasure, but by no means so much more as to overbalance the great preponderance of delights coming through the other avenues: a great part of such pain is cautionary, and much can be avoided by voluntary action; and the stimulus thus given by the wise severity of Nature begets that activity of the moral life from which results the highest form of happiness. When we attempt to estimate our mental and moral sufferings, it is impossible even to approximate the proportion of them that are due to our voluntary infringement of law; but, adding together all that spring from natural sources and all that men bring upon themselves, the suffering is still outweighed by the pleasure among the great mass of men.

But, however unfavorable a view we take of the condition of humanity, it is gross exaggeration to say, "There is no evidence whatever in Nature for Divine justice, whatever standard of justice our ethical opinions may lead us to recognize: ... there is no shadow of justice in the general arrangements of Nature." Though many of Nature's dealings with man appear to be unjust, by far the larger proportion of them are graduated according to what seems, even to us, a standard of strict equity. As Matthew Arnold puts it, there is a power in Nature "which makes for righteousness." And every generation verifies the words of the Preacher: "The righteous shall be recompensed in the earth—much more the wicked and the sinner;" "as righteousness tendeth to life, so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death." It was the reverent saying of that noblest of pagans, Marcus Aurelius, that "if a man should have a feeling and a deeper insight with respect to the things which are produced in the universe, there is hardly anything that comes in the course of Nature which will not seem to him to be in a manner disposed so as to give pleasure." When that "deeper insight" comes, and the eyes of man's spiritual understanding are opened, all appearance of injustice in Nature will probably vanish.

If men were indeed as wretched as Mr. Mill describes them to be, and had no fear of judgment and immortality—which Mr. Mill informs us are probably but figments of the brain—why should they continue to endure "the calamity of so long life"?

'Twere best at once to sink to peace,

Like birds the charming serpent draws—

To drop head-foremost in the jaws

Of vacant darkness, and to cease.

So men would begin to reason if this dark gospel of despair were ever to gain currency; but, fortunately, it is only the morbid dream of a closet philosopher, who fancied the world was upside down because he could not unriddle it with his logical Rule of Three.

This representation of Nature is not only at variance with facts, but inconsistent with Mr. Mill's own conclusions, as he reasons from natural phenomena that the Creator is both wise and beneficent, but that He is in some way hindered from fully accomplishing His kind purposes. But if "there is no evidence whatever for Divine justice, and no shadow of justice in the general arrangements of Nature," the reasonable inference is that its author is a being of infinite malignity who is in some mysterious manner, for the present, prevented from wreaking the full measure of his wrath upon mankind. From this horrible thought Mr. Mill recoils, and, giving logic to the winds, he trusts that

God is love indeed,

And love Creation's final law,

Though Nature, red in tooth and claw

With ravin, shrieks against his creed.

In the second essay Mr. Mill undertakes to prove the uselessness and harmfulness of supernatural religion both to society and individuals, and the sufficiency of human authority, of education and public opinion to accomplish all the beneficial results usually accredited to faith in a Divine Being. "Religion," he says, "by its intrinsic force, ... without the sanction superadded by public opinion, ... has never, save in exceptional characters or in peculiar moods of mind, exercised a very potent influence after the time had gone by in which Divine agency was supposed habitually to employ temporal rewards and punishments." Whatever application this statement may have to other religions claiming a divine origin, it is entirely false of Christianity. In its origin, it certainly held out no temporal bribes of any character. Its Founder expressly said to His disciples, "In this world ye shall have tribulation." "Behold," He says, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves"; "ye shall be hated of all men for My sake"; "if any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." His own life was one of unparalleled contumely, and He told them they must not expect to fare better than their Master. Nor did they. The majority of the apostles met cruel deaths after lives of suffering. Paul, describing his experience, speaks of his beatings and his perils among his countrymen and the heathen, of his hunger and thirst and his cold and nakedness. And his was only an extreme example of the common lot of the early generations of Christians. Yet in the face of the hostility of the whole Roman and Jewish world, manifested in the most cruel persecutions, Christianity rapidly grew, gaining its most signal triumphs, laying hold of the consciences and transforming the lives of men. It was only when it came under the patronage of the civil government, and the public opinion of the world was thrown in its favor, and its peculiar doctrines became diluted with worldly policy, that it began to lose its reforming influence—a fact which Mr. Mill himself alludes to in his essay On Liberty. This experience has been frequently repeated since the days of Constantine; so that history fairly proves that Christianity does its peculiar work more effectually when it is dissociated from all human sanctions, and left to act solely by its intrinsic force. This is true not only of the Church at large, but of individuals. Paul, Luther, à Kempis drew their inspiration from the simple words of Christ, and owed next to nothing to the opinions of the world about them. It has always been direct contact with the life and precepts of the Founder of Christianity that has fired the hearts and braced the spiritual energies of the noblest Christians, who have been the reformers of their times, braving the enmity of the world to instill a purer and a loftier morality.

The illustrations, suggested first by Bentham, which Mr. Mill cites to prove the worthlessness of the religious sanction—viz., the almost universal breach of oaths where not enforced by law, and the prevalence of male unchastity and the practice of dueling among Christian communities—have no pertinency whatever to his argument, since they only prove the predominance of religious infidelity and indifference in countries nominally Christian, which no one denies; [pg 759] while the exceptions to this rule, which occur almost wholly among Christians, prove the very view he controverts. It is Christian opinion making itself felt through legislation that is gradually circumscribing the area of these vices.

Again, says Mr. Mill. "Because when men were still savage they would not have received either moral or scientific truths unless they had supposed them supernaturally imparted, does it follow they would now give up moral truths any more than scientific because they believed them to have no other origin than wise and noble human hearts?" Overlooking the adroit introduction here of scientific truths as having originally been on the same footing with moral truths—for which we do not think there is any sufficient historic evidence—it is competent to reply that the great mass of mankind are still in the earlier stages of intellectual and moral development, even in the most advanced countries; so that on grounds of utility it is important to prolong, if possible, the supernatural sanctions of religion. Although, as Mr. Mill believes, a moral truth once in the possession of humanity may never be lost, it may yet have its influence suspended through many generations, as in the Dark Ages, and thus the advance of civilization be indefinitely retarded; and therefore the office of religion in keeping morality operative among men is not to be discarded. It is doubtless impossible to estimate with entire correctness the relative value of the different forces that advance or retard civilization, but we believe the weight of historic evidence goes to prove that religious skepticism was the actual cause, as it has always been the inevitable precursor, of national decay. Coleridge in The Friend quotes the historian Polybius as attributing the strength of the Roman republic to the general reverence of the invisible powers, and the consequent horror in which the breaking of an oath was held. This he thought the causa causarum of Roman grandeur; and he attributed the ruin of the Greek states to the frequency of perjury resulting from the atheism taught by the Sophists. Goethe says somewhere that "all epochs in which faith has prevailed have been the most heart-stirring and fruitful both as regard contemporaries and posterity; whereas all epochs in which unbelief obtains its miserable triumphs, even when they boast of some apparent brilliancy, are not less surely doomed to speedy oblivion." This assertion is notably true of the histories of Judea, Greece, Rome, and Spain. And, a priori, it might be argued that the only possible ground for that cordial unanimity of society upon fundamental questions which is essential to a stable and highly developed civilization is a common faith in some central rightful authority competent to demand and enforce equal obedience from all classes; in other words, faith in God. A band of savages might be held in a lax social union by the common fear of some brawny chief, but in civilized communities it is the real divinity that doth hedge about the king or other civil head that gives cohesion to the social mass. As a political force, therefore, religion cannot be dispensed with.

Religion is not only useless, Mr. Mill proceeds, but "there is a very real evil consequent on ascribing a supernatural origin to the received maxims of morality. That origin consecrates the whole of them, and protects them from being discussed and criticised." Such an objection hardly comes with good grace from Mr. Mill, who spends his strength to prove that a divine sanction has no efficacy when not backed by human authority. Nor has such an objection, if it were true, any application to the case till it is absolutely proved that all religions are of human origin, or else that more harm results from believing human systems divine than from believing one divine system to be of human growth. Neither of these alternatives does he attempt to establish, and he explicitly admits it is impossible to prove the former. But the objection is not true. Human criticism has never been backward to attack all systems of morality, despite the popular faith in their divine origin. Christianity especially has had its historic [pg 760] and intellectual and moral foundations attacked by able critics in every century since its introduction on earth. But in the face of every form of opposition it has made a steady progress, and strengthened its hold upon the human heart and conscience as the world has advanced in culture. It is to-day professed by a larger number of disciples and with a more intelligent faith than at any other period of its history. It is the dominant religion in those countries which are in the van of human progress, whose political institutions are the freest in the world, and whose inhabitants are the happiest and most virtuous. And despite its insoluble mysteries it has always received the assent of the highest intelligence to its divine origin. "My faith," said De Quincey, "is that though a great man may, by a rare possibility, be an infidel, an intellect of the highest order must build on Christianity." And Bacon's testimony is to the same effect. "It is only," he says, "when superficially tested that philosophy leads away from God: deeper draughts of a thorough and real philosophy bring us back to Him." And poor Tyndall, standing afar off in the outer regions of pure intellect, hard by the

ever-breaking shore

That tumbles in the godless deep,

has recently been heard to murmur that in his loftiest moments the promise and potency of matter give no response to the deepest cry of the soul. And along the centuries stand the princes of thought, Paul, Augustine, Bacon, Luther, Milton, Pascal, Kepler, Newton, Coleridge, Faraday, Herschel, testifying to the impregnability of the intellectual foundation of the Christian faith.

If Mr. Mill's arguments to prove the worthlessness of Christianity are open to many objections, the reasons he offers for accepting his substitute, the Religion of Humanity, are utterly baseless and delusive. For faith in God he would have us adopt an ideal conception of what human life can be made in the future, and sacrifice all our present enjoyment to secure a realization of that conception ages hence. This, says he, is a better religion than any belief respecting the unseen powers. "If individual life is short, the life of the human species is not." How does he know this? The dark demon of Nature he has so vividly described may sweep away the puny race to-morrow by some fell cataclysm; and it would be a blessing if she did in his view. "If such an object," he continues, "appears small to a mind accustomed to dream of infinite and eternal beatitudes, it will expand into far other dimensions when these baseless fancies shall have receded into the past." But if we must feed our moral natures on "baseless fancies," most men will prefer the Christian dogmas of immortality, the infinite capacity of development of the human soul, the brotherhood of the race and its vital union with its Creator, and its perfectibility of human institutions and social conditions in this life under the leavening influence of Christian principle, although Mr. Mill may stigmatize them as grandiose and enervating dreams, to his beggarly improved substitute, which appeals neither to our common sense nor to our moral intuitions. Taking his own criterion, utility, as the test of truth, his religion of humanity fails to establish itself, for it postpones the happiness of each existing generation to the fancied good of future generations which may never be born, and this ad infinitum. On this part of his subject Mr. Mill is simply fatuous, as when he speaks of our being sustained in this faith by the approbation of the dead whom we venerate. But if Socrates and Howard and Washington and Christ and Antoninus and Mrs. Mill are turned to clay, as he says they probably are, it is nonsense to assert that he is strengthened in the path of duty by a feeling that they would sympathize with him if alive. It is the unconfessed hope of their immortality that quickens him, if he is affected at all. Mr. Mill's idolatry of his wife, like Buckle's love for his mother, was an argument for the immortality of the soul which he does not seem to have been able entirely to reject.

Mr. Mill never tires of calling Christianity a selfish religion, and [pg 761] glorifies his substitute as free from this defect. But Mr. Fitzjames Stephen, in his work entitled Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, has clearly pointed out that Mr. Mill has only succeeded in duping himself on this point. A man cannot free himself from self-consideration. Christianity indeed appeals to the innate desire of happiness, but condemns the overweening and blind self-regard which cannot see that the highest happiness of self flows from a just respect to the selfhood of others and from the cultivation of the spiritual nature. Love your neighbor as yourself is the Christian precept; and it has the advantage of being practicable, which Mr. Mill's has not.

Mr. Mill considerately says he will forbear to urge the moral difficulties and perversions of the Christian revelation, "the recognition, for example, of the object of highest worship in a being who could make a hell." "Is it possible," he asks, "to adore such a one without a frightful distortion of the standard of right and wrong?" "Any other of the outrages to the most ordinary justice and humanity involved in the common Christian conception of the moral character of God sinks into insignificance beside this dreadful idealization of wickedness. Most of them, too, are happily not so unequivocally deducible from the very words of Christ." Yet this very Personage, who, Mr. Mill says, implicitly believed and taught this awful doctrine, presents, he confesses, the highest type of pure morality the world has ever seen. Arguing from this phenomenon, the more hideous the creed and the more torpid or sophisticated the intellect, the higher the morality is likely to be.

In the last essay, On Theism, Mr. Mill examines the evidences in Nature for the existence of God and for the immortality of the soul. The argument from design he thinks establishes the probability of the existence of an intelligent Creator of limited power; for "who," he asks, "would have recourse to means if to attain his end his mere word were sufficient?" It may be replied to this that it is as open to an omnipotent being to accomplish his will through a long chain of causes as by a fiat acting immediately. The recourse to intermediate means does not of necessity prove a limitation of power. If the means actually chosen are defective or bad, it may imply limitation of wisdom or moral obliquity just as much as defect of power, and any choice between these alternatives is entirely arbitrary from a logical standpoint.

Monotheism, Mr. Mill asserts, is a natural product, requiring a considerable amount of intellectual culture, but always appearing at a certain stage of natural development. How, then, did it originate among the Hebrews before they had emerged from barbarism, and fail to appear among their highly civilized contemporaries, the Egyptians and Assyrians? Christlieb is more correct than Mr. Mill, we think, when he says that neither in ancient nor in modern times has it been possible to find a nation which by its own unaided powers of thought has arrived at a definite belief in one personal living God. And the latest researches of ethnologists, as they may be found admirably compiled by Mr. Tyler (himself an advocate of the development hypothesis) in his Primitive Culture, substantiate this assertion.

Mr. Mill, in dealing with Kant's dictum, that the intuition of duty implies a God of necessity, is foolish enough to say "that this feeling of obligation rather excludes than compels the belief in a divine legislator;" which is a very discreditable piece of sophistry.

In closing this short review of these interesting essays we may be permitted to quote a few of Mr. Mill's admissions, which, taken together, almost amount to a confession of faith in the Christian system, and which leave upon the mind the impression that this painful groping of an earnest inquirer after the truth, and the closer approximation he continually made to Christian dogma, would have resulted, had he lived longer, in his adoption of that faith as offering the hypothesis that best explains the perplexing phenomena of the moral world.

"Experience," he says, "has abated the ardent hopes once entertained of the regeneration of the human race by merely negative doctrine, by [pg 762] the destruction of superstition." Here is a declaration of the need of a system of positive truth.

Again, of the Christian revelation he says: "The sender of the alleged message is not a sheer invention: there are grounds independent of the message itself for belief in His reality.... It is moreover much to the purpose to take notice that the very imperfection of the evidences which natural theology can produce of the divine attributes removes some of the chief stumbling-blocks to the belief of revelation." Here is the raison d'être of revelation.

This revelation, it should be borne in mind, in its method and character bears a striking similarity to the natural world, from whose Author it professes to come, as was long ago pointed out by Bishop Butler, and recently with great cogency by Mr. Henry Rogers in his most forcible work on the Superhuman Origin of the Bible.

Again: "A revelation cannot be proved unless by external evidence—that is, by the evidence of supernatural facts." Here is an assertion of the necessity of miracles.

Again: "Science contains nothing repugnant to the supposition that every event which takes place results from a specific volition of the presiding Power, provided this Power adheres in its particular volitions to general laws laid down by itself;" which is the biblical representation of the divine mode of action.

Again: "All the probabilities in case of a future life are that such as we have been made, or have made ourselves before the change, such we shall enter into the life hereafter;" which is the exact declaration of Scripture.

Mr. Mill further helps the Christian cause by pointing out two flaws in Hume's argument against miracles—viz., that the evidence of experience to which its appeal is made is only negative evidence; which is not conclusive, since facts of which there had been no previous experience are often discovered and proved by positive experience to be true; and secondly, the argument assumes that the testimony of experience against miracles is undeviating and indubitable, whereas the very thing asserted on the other side is that there have been miracles, and that the testimony is not wholly on the negative side.

No Christian can read the following tribute to the character of Christ without sadness that the joy of a larger faith was rejected by its author: "Whatever else may be taken away from us by rational criticism, Christ is still left—a unique figure, not more unlike all his precursors than all his followers, even those who had the direct benefit of his teaching. About the life and sayings of Jesus there is a stamp of personal originality, combined with profundity of insight, ... which must place the Prophet of Nazareth, even in the estimation of those who have no belief in his inspiration, in the very first rank of the men of sublime genius of whom our species can boast. When this pre-eminent genius is combined with the qualities of probably the greatest moral reformer and martyr to that mission who ever existed upon earth, religion cannot be said to have made a bad choice in pitching upon this man as the ideal representative and guide of humanity; nor even now would it be easy even for an unbeliever to find a better translation of the rule of virtue from the abstract into the concrete than to endeavor so to live that Christ would approve our life.... When to this we add that to the conception of the rational critic it remains a possibility that Christ actually was what he supposed himself to be, ... we may well conclude that the influences of religion on the character which will remain after rational criticism has done its utmost against the evidences of religion are well worth preserving, and what they lack in direct strength as compared with those of a firmer belief is more than compensated by the greater truth and rectitude of the morality they sanction." The confession of these last few lines refutes the whole of Mr. Mill's elaborate argument on the worthlessness and immorality of that religion which from his grave he lifts his sad and hollow voice to overthrow.


[pg 763]



Not only we, the latest seed of Time—

... not only we that prate

Of rights and wrongs, have loved the women well.

Nearly a century and a half ago an English lady, out of patience with the intolerable assumptions of the other sex, raised her voice in behalf of her own. In 1793 there was published in London a pamphlet entitled "Woman not Inferior to Man, or a Short and Modest Vindication of the Natural Right of the Fair Sex to a Perfect Equality of Power, Dignity and Esteem with the Men. By Sophia, a Person of Quality." The title-page has a quotation from Rowe's Fair Penitent:

How hard is the condition of our sex!

—Through every state of life the slave of man!

Wherefore are we

Born with souls, but to assert ourselves,

Shake off this wild obedience they exact,

And claim an equal empire o'er the world?

From such a title and such an epigraph one might expect the most incendiary sentiments in the pages which follow, and that Sophia had nothing less in view than to overthrow the usurper; but this she disclaims: she has no intention, she avers, "to stir up any of my own sex to revolt against the men, or to invert the present order of things with regard to government and authority" Her sole object appears to be to bring men to a proper sense of their deficiencies and the emptiness of their pretensions. But she is a person of admirable dignity and discretion: it is not until the conclusion, when she has not left them a leg to stand upon, that she magnanimously waives all the advantages to accrue from their humiliation, and merely bids them in future to know their true place. The composition is in every way worthy of these elevated sentiments. Sophia need not have announced herself a person of quality: there is evidence of it on every leaf of her book. One recognizes the accomplished gentlewoman of a hundred years ago, with her solid reading, her strong common sense, her sober religious convictions, her household science. No doubt she loved fine lace and old china; there are recondite internal proofs that she was pretty; and on closing the book a far-off rustle of her brocade reaches us as she makes her spreading curtsey. But we will let her speak for herself a little. Her first position is certainly a strong one: "If this haughty sex would have us believe they have a natural right of superiority over us, why don't they prove their charter from Nature by making use of reason to subdue themselves?... Were we to see men everywhere and at all times masters of themselves, and their animal appetites in perfect subordination to their rational faculties, we should have some color to think that Nature designed them as masters to us." The doctrine of female inferiority she considers "a vulgar though ancient error," observing that until very recent ages the sun was believed to revolve round the earth, and the notion of the antipodes was "a heresy in philosophy"—that to assert the equality of the sexes now was no greater paradox than to advocate either of those theories but a short time ago. "But," she continues, "who shall the matter be tried by?" and here we suspect she has reached the root of the difficulty. Both men and women, she admits, are too much interested to be impartial judges; therefore she appeals to "rectified reason" as umpire. She considers in order the various claims to predominance which men have put forward, and confutes them one by one. "Man concludes that all other creatures were made for him because he was not created until all were in readiness for him:" even granting that to be unanswerable, she says it only proves that men were made for women, and not vice versâ: "they are our natural drudges.... Men are magnified because they succeed in taming a tiger, an elephant or such like animals;" therefore what rank must belong to woman, "who [pg 764] spends years in training that fiercer animal, MAN?" She instances a journeyman tailor she once saw belabor his wife with a neck of mutton, "to make her know, as he said, her sovereign lord and master. And this is perhaps as strong an argument as their sex is able to produce, though conveyed, in a greasy light.... To stoop to regard for the strutting things is not enough; to humor them more than we could children with any tolerable decency is too little; they must be served, forsooth!" It is grievous injustice to Sophia, but one almost fancies one hears Madame George Sand. She allows that to please man ought to be part of the sex's business if it were likely to succeed; "but such is the fanatical composition of their natures that the more pains is taken in endeavoring to please them, the less generally is the labor successful; ... and surely women were created by Heaven for some better end than to labor in vain their whole life long." The supercilious commendations of men are gall and wormwood to her: "Some, more condescending, are gracious enough to confess that many women have wit and conduct; but yet they are of opinion that even such of us as are the most remarkable for either or both still betray something which speaks the imbecility of our sex." She makes an excellent plea forgiving women a thorough education, complaining that it is denied them, and then they are charged with being superficial: "True knowledge and solid learning cannot but make woman as well as man more humble; ... and it must be owned that if a little superficial knowledge has rendered some of our sex vain, it equally renders some of theirs insupportable." With all the sex's frivolity, she adds, women have not been found to spend their lives on mere entia rationis splitting hairs and weighing motes like the Schoolmen. She concludes that men deprive women of education lest they should oust them "from those public offices which they fill so miserably." She handles her logic admirably, and exposes her adversaries for begging the question and reasoning in a circle. Of course she enforces her assertions by citing the women who have distinguished themselves in every position of responsibility, military, political and intellectual, and only refrains from multiplying instances because of their number. Not to quote those alone who have filled chairs of medicine with honor, she ingeniously remarks that the remedies classed as "an old woman's recipe" are those oftenest prescribed, to the glory of her sex, who by patience, humanity and observation have invented without the help of Galen and Hippocrates an infinity of reliefs for the sick which their adherents can neither improve nor disapprove. She makes her final point on the question of moral superiority. It is sometimes stated "that some women have been more flagitious than any men, but that in nowise redounds to the dishonor of our sex in general. The corruption of the best is ever the worst: should we grant this, ... it must be owned their number would at least balance the account. I believe no one will deny but that at least upon the most moderate computation there are a thousand bad men to one bad woman." She winds up by an appeal to her own sex in the very spirit of Miss F.P. Cobbe, the sum of which is to adjure women, for their own sakes, not to be silly.

How many contemporaries of George Selwyn had their eyes opened by this clear statement of their demerits there are no means of ascertaining. But Sophia raised up at least one furious antagonist, who replied by a pamphlet called "MAN Superior to WOMAN, or a Vindication of Man's Natural Right of Sovereign Authority over the Woman, containing a Plain Confutation of the Fallacious Arguments of SOPHIA. By a GENTLEMAN." The first thing to be noted is, that whereas Sophia said her say in about fifty pages, the masculine reply covers seventy-eight in smaller print. He opens by a "Dedication to the Ladies," beginning, "Lovely creatures"—an exordium which any woman of spirit would resent, the perfidy and disrepect of his intentions being obvious in those words alone; and he continues in the tone of flippancy which was to be expected. His arguments are weak in the extreme, and his satire [pg 765] is pointless. The only hit is his scheme for a female university, with Mrs. Manly and Mrs. Afra Behn in the chair of literature. His summary of woman's character and occupations was given earlier, with more brevity and wit, and no less truth, by Pope. To Sophia's historical illustrations he opposes female types named Tremula, Bellnina, Novilia, etc. But in truth the production is so excessively scurrilous that one needs to remember that those were the times of Congreve and Fielding to believe that the author could have the right to style himself "A GENTLEMAN." We shudder with pity for poor Sophia, who had such a mass of filth flung at her. But that decorous personage is not disconcerted: she does not lose her head or her temper, but opens her mouth with a freedom of speech which was the prerogative of an honest woman in those days, and rejoins with a second pamphlet: "Woman's Superior Excellence over Man" Her first thrust is to regret, in behalf of the other sex, that neither Achilles nor Hector appears as their champion, but Thersites. Either her adversary was silenced, or the publishers considered that what he said was not worthy of preservation, for no further words of his appear, so that in any case she had the best of it. Her first pamphlet had a second edition in the following year. Its memory was still alive in this century, for it was quoted with respect by the Retrospective Review for 1824 in a learned article on the "Privileges of Woman," which deserves the attention of those interested in the subject.



I wish to chronicle in the pages of Lippincott's Magazine the record of a scene that took place this spring in the Medicean chapel attached to the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. It was in itself a remarkable and memorable scene enough, but it was yet more important as regards certain interesting points of history on which it throws a very curious light, if it does not, as many persons will be inclined to think, settle them definitively.

The little square marble chapel itself, which no visitor to Florence will have forgotten, is admired as an architectural gem of Michael Angelo, and is yet more celebrated as the shrine of some of his finest works, especially the sitting statue of Lorenzo and the recumbent statues of Twilight and Dawn on the tomb of Lorenzo. These two grand figures, it will be remembered, repose on the arched canopy over the tomb in such a position that, if not retained in their places by some means adapted for that purpose, they would slide off the rounded arch by their own weight. Now, it had been lately observed that the statue of Twilight was moving, and it was very reasonably judged to be necessary that this should be looked to. The statue was therefore carefully raised, and it was discovered that when the tomb of Lorenzo had been opened to place in it the body of the murdered Alexander, his (putative) son, the metal stanchion or peg by means of which Michael Angelo had secured his statue in its place had been replaced by a wooden one. This, in the course of the centuries which have since elapsed had become decayed, and the statue might have fallen any day. This being the case, it was thought well to raise the other statue, that of the Dawn also. But that was found to be as secure in its place as the great artist had left it. But these superincumbent statues having been thus lifted from off the sepulchre, it was suggested that the opportunity should be taken to examine the contents of the tomb.

There were several reasons which rendered such an examination historically interesting and curious. A certain degree of doubt has been cast—mainly by Grimm—on the question whether the tomb be in fact that of Lorenzo, the father of Catherine de' Medici, the celebrated queen of France—whether it be not rather that of Giuliano, his uncle. For my part, I had always thought that there was little or no foundation for the doubt. The main features of the story of Alexander will probably be in the memory of the reader. The Florentine republic and liberty were destroyed in 1527 by the united forces of [pg 766] the traitor pope, the Medicean Clement VII., and Charles V., with the understanding that this Alexander should marry Margaret, the emperor's illegitimate daughter, and that Florence should become a dukedom to dower the young couple withal. Who and what this Alexander was has always been one of the puzzles of history. He was, tradition says, very swarthy, and was generally believed to be the son of a Moorish slave-mother. He was certainly illegitimate; and the question, Who was his father? was always a doubtful one, though he has generally been called the son of Lorenzo. I have elsewhere given at length reasons for believing rather that whispered bit of scandal of the time which declared the pope, Clement VII., to be his father. When Florence fell he became duke, and reigned over the unhappy city for seven years, in such sort that the murder of him in 1537 by his kinsman Lorenzino, traitorously and cowardly done as the deed was, was deemed the act of a patriot. The story of such a deed, done at midnight in a private chamber, and never made the subject of legal investigation, of course reaches subsequent generations enveloped in more or less of uncertainty. Now, it was likely enough that the careful examination of the remains in the tomb in question might throw light on sundry points of Alexander's story.

In the first place, the identity of the tomb is now fixed beyond the possibility of a doubt. It was known that the body of the murdered Alexander was placed in the tomb of his putative father, Lorenzo. If, therefore, the body of Alexander should be found in this sepulchre, the tomb is proved to have been that of Lorenzo. When the lid of the sarcophagus was raised, there accordingly were the two bodies visible—one dressed in white, the other in black. It has been assumed—and I think the assumption is abundantly justified, as will presently be seen—that the skeleton in black is that of Lorenzo, and the skeleton in white that of Alexander. The relative position of the bodies was very singular. The heads were at opposite ends of the sarcophagus, and the bodies were placed, not side by side, but each between the legs of the other. One of the bodies, that of Lorenzo, seemed when the lid of the sarcophagus was raised to be headless, but on examination the skull was found under the breast of the black tunic that covered the body. There can be little doubt that it became detached when the body was moved for the purpose of placing that of Alexander in the tomb. The white garment that clad the skeleton of Alexander was an embroidered shirt ornamented with lace: the legs were covered with white leggings. The skull of this skeleton had all the teeth perfect when the sarcophagus was opened; but should the curiosity of any future generation tempt the men of that day to peer into this receptacle of the dust of tyrants, the skull of the murdered Alexander will be found to be toothless. And all sorts of suppositions and theories may be based on this singular fact, and credited, until some antiquary of the period discovers in an ancient magazine published at the period of a former examination of the sepulchre this record, in which I am obliged to declare—with a blush for the decency of the Florentines—that the teeth were all stolen by persons who were permitted to be present at the opening of the tomb. A certain special historical interest is attached to those teeth of the murdered man. The story goes that when Lorenzino stabbed him as he slept on a bed in Lorenzino's own house, to which he had been inveigled in the hope of meeting there a certain lady, the wife of a Ginori of the time, Alexander started up, and, seizing the thumb of the murderer between his teeth, held him so firmly that he could not have escaped had not a bravo whom he had hired to aid him come to his assistance. These, then, were the teeth that held so well in the death-grip of their owner! Some Florentine historically-minded virtuoso (!) appreciated the significance of the fact, and stole them from the head some three centuries and a half after that last bite of theirs. There were several gaps in the range of teeth still remaining in the skull of Alexander, which has appeared strange to some who remember that he [pg 767] was only twenty-seven when he died. But I think that any medical man, taking into consideration; the manner of his death, would find nothing strange in the circumstance, but on the contrary a confirmation of the truth of the facts which the chroniclers of the time have preserved for us.

Perhaps, however, the most curious and interesting fact which the opening of this tomb has ascertained is that testified to by the hair still remaining on the skull which was that of Alexander. It is a black curly hair of a coarse quality, such as a man of mixed black blood may be supposed to have had. It is recorded that one of the wounds given by the bravo Scoronconcolo, whom Lorenzino had hired to assist him in the murder, and who ran up to complete the job when his master was disabled by being fast held by the teeth of Alexander, was a stab in the face. And of the truth of this tradition also the skull of the murdered man still affords evidence; for on the left-hand side of the face, a little below the socket of the eye, there is a mark in the bone beneath the cheek which must have been made by the point of the sword or dagger that inflicted the wound, and which shows that the bravo Scoronconcolo's thrust must have been a shrewd one.

It will readily be supposed that the scene at the opening of the sepulchre must have been a very impressive one. There, in that solemn chapel of white and black marble which the genius of Michael Angelo prepared for the repose of his sovereigns and patrons, with his lifelike and immortal presentations of the forms of the dead who have filled all story with their names, looking down on the deed with sad and solemn faces, who would not, while thus forcing the prison-house of the tomb to render up its terrible and long-concealed secrets, have been deeply sensible of a feeling of awe and reverence? Even putting aside all such sentiments as the contemplation of such a memento mori is usually found to inspire in most men, the purely scientific historical inquirer must have felt the importance of the occasion, and the great desirability of making the most in an historical point of view of so rare an opportunity. I am sorry to be obliged to record that the Florentines, so far as could be judged from their conduct and bearing, felt nothing of all this. No one who knows them as well as I do would have expected reverence from them under any possible or imaginable circumstances; but one might have expected such due care and decency of proceeding as would have sufficed to render the examination of the remains as historically instructive as possible, and to preserve the record for a future generation. But this was very far from being the case. A learned professor of anatomy indeed attended at the opening of the tomb, but instead of touching the remains himself, or utilizing his science by handling them as they ought to have been handled, he called a workman, and by him the bodies were torn out from their resting-place in fragments. The clothes were of course torn to pieces in the operation; the lace from the shirt of Alexander was permitted to be stolen; and the same fate, as has been stated, overtook his teeth. No sort of preparation had been made for any possible examination of the remains to any good purpose. They were laid out anyhow, as the phrase is, on a little marble bench in the chapel. Those who remember the place will not need to be told how perfect a sham any pretence of examination must have been under such circumstances. When this pretence had been gone through, the bones were cast back again into the marble sarcophagus by the workman, "like"—as one eye-witness of the scene describes it—"the bones of dogs." And when the same person looked into the sarcophagus after this tossing back had been effected, he saw a mere confused heap of the scattered bones of two skeletons undistinguishably mixed together. "I cannot help," writes the same eye-witness, "expressing my sense of the barbaric acts which I witnessed. Historic skeletons—the father of Catherine de' Medici, the son-in-law of Charles V.; Florentine nobles—one a duke of Florence, the other of Urbino—both bad enough [pg 768] fellows, no doubt, but could any Communists have acted worse? Besides, Communist mobs assert principles, and do these things in hot blood. But this most monstrous outrage was committed coolly by pure stupidity and the carelessness which cannot be moved by any consideration to take any trouble that can by any possibility be avoided. Had they turned up a quantity of the bones of animals to examine them, they could not have done worse." It is fair to add that some of the organs of the Florentine press stigmatized the proceedings upon this occasion as they deserved to be stigmatized.



The qualifications needed by the novelist and by the dramatist are at once alike and unlike. Differing in manner rather than in matter, they are rarely found united in one man. Scott, from whose novels many stirring plays have been taken, was incapable of writing one himself; Thackeray, even after he was the well-known author of Vanity Fair, could not find a manager willing to produce his comedy; and Thackeray's great master, Fielding, comparatively failed as a dramatist, though Joseph Surface is Blifil and Charles Surface is Tom Jones, and from the same work Colman derived his comedy of the Jealous Wife, which holds the stage to this day. By dint of hard work a man might make himself a novelist, but the dramatist, like the poet, must be born. He who possesses the power of writing successfully for the stage will surely show it in his first work. This theory accounts for the signal success of the Cantab, a slight farce played in 1861 at the London Strand Theatre. The material was weak and worn-out, but the fun was not forced: it flowed naturally from the situations. There was a freshness and a firmness about the little piece which showed the hand of a young author capable of better things. Three years later, Mr. Sothern, desiring a part diametrically the opposite of Lord Dundreary, produced David Garrick, and in 1865 Society made its first appearance on the stage of the Prince of Wales's Theatre. Then T. W. Robertson stepped to the front rank of living English dramatists.

The author had found his audience and his actors. The Prince of Wales's Theatre was directed by a burlesque actress, and devoted to light comedy and extravaganza: after that it gave up burlesque, merely heightening the effect of the comedy and prolonging the programme by a quiet farce. The company was small and strong, the theatre was well managed, and plays were handsomely mounted. After the success of Society until Robertson's death its main reliance was upon his pen. In 1866 Ours was first produced, followed in 1867 by Caste. The pieces of other authors, although carefully played and well mounted, were uniform failures. Mr. Edmund Yates's Tame Cats, and Mr. Dion Boucicault's How She Loves Him! were each withdrawn after a run of a very few nights, whereas School Play, an M.P. succeeded each other with undisputed success. At the Haymarket Theatre David Garrick was followed by Home and Birth.

The day was won, and the successful author could afford to rest on his laurels. But he was ambitious and a hard worker; so he continued to write and adapt. To counterbalance the good-fortune of David Garrick and Home at the Haymarket, and the series of six at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, there was a list of failures—Birth, Progress, Dreams and War. But his comedies were far more successful than his heavier plays: his belief in his power to construct good acting dramas must have been sadly shaken by the total failure of For Love, the Shadow-Tree Shaft and the Nightingale. There can be no better proof of their want of success than the fact that at a time when American managers were eager for his comedies, not one of his dramas was ever produced in the United States. But in spite of the comparative failure of his later works, his death was felt to be the loss of a dramatic author of some performance and of greater promise,

We have a way of nicknaming a new writer after one of his most [pg 769] celebrated predecessors whom we imagine him to resemble, and then we find fault with him for not having all the qualities of an author whom he probably has no desire to imitate. False friends of T.W. Robertson called him the "modern Sheridan." Few writers are more dissimilar. Robertson in his dialogue and construction imitated the modern French dramatists; Sheridan, the old English, Congreve, Farquhar and Wycherley. Robertson especially delighted in love-scenes—there are generally two at least in each of his comedies: I cannot remember one in any of Sheridan's. The dialogue of the author of the School for Scandal is artificial and glittering—that of the author of School is generally more natural, and always less brilliant. They have, however, one point in common: they both practiced Molière's maxim, Je prends mon bien où je le trouve. They both unhesitatingly plagiarized. Robertson in particular easily assimilated foreign matter. He turned Le Dégel and Les Ganaches of M. Sardou into A Rapid Thaw and Progress. David Garrick was taken from Dr. Robin, a French play, itself imitated from the German. Home closely follows L'Aventurière of M. Émile Augier. Madame de Girardin's La Joie fait peur, previously translated by Mr. G.H. Lewes as Sunshine through the Clouds, gave Robertson the situation of the last act of War: Mr. Dion Boucicault has since deftly adapted the same delightful little piece under the name of Kerry, or Night and Morning. The Cinderella-like plot of School is taken from the Aschenbrödel of Roderick Benedix: the school examination was suggested by a French vaudeville, En classe, mesdemoiselles! The part of Beau Farintosh is a weak revival of Garrick's Lord Chalkstone and Colman and Garrick's Lord Ogleby; and the strong situation in the fourth act is imitated from Les Beaux Messieurs de Bois-Doré of George Sand.

But Robertson is decidedly strongest when he walks without crutches. His own original plays, Society, Caste, Ours, are by far his best. A foreign support made him limp. Of all his adaptations, home alone is really good: most of the others failed. Although that cosmopolitan mosaic School has been the most successful of his pieces in London—it has passed its five hundredth night—it is by no means the best. Success is not necessarily a test of real merit. Evidently, School has the elements of popularity, although it is a very weak piece, although it is full of foreign matter, and although it violates that most necessary rule of dramatic art, declaring no play should contain an effect, a line, a scene or an act which does not bear on the end in view by developing either the characters or the action. The entire second act, containing the farcical examination-scene, is useless. Robertson again sinned in this way in the Nightingale: although it had no effect on the plot, although it was entirely unnecessary, he introduced a pretty tableau representing the heroine, a lovely prima-donna, singing under the silver moonbeams in a boat rocked to and fro by the waves.

I have before spoken of Robertson's fondness for love-scenes. There are almost as many of them in one of his comedies as in one of Mr. Anthony Trollope's novels. And they are generally very good. What can be more delicious than the "spooning" in Home, if it is not the billing and cooing in Ours? But what can be more commonplace or more objectionable than the frequent remarks about love and Cupid scattered through his plays? Tom Stylus says in Society, "Love is an awful swindler—always drawing upon Hope, who never honors his drafts—a sort of whining beggar, continually moved on by the maternal police. But 'tis a weakness to which the wisest of us are subject—a kind of manly measles which this flesh is heir to, particularly when the flesh is heir to nothing else. Even I have felt the divine damnation—I mean emanation. But the lady united herself to another, which was a very good thing for me, and anything but a misfortune for her." This is altogether false: no man could ever say such things seriously—at least no man of sense would, and Tom Stylus is a man of sense. See, [pg 770] too, this bit of dialogue in Play:

"AMANDA. You are a good girl, and will be rewarded some day with a good man's love for this.

"ROSIE. I don't want it. I don't want anything to do with love. Love's a nasty, naughty, wicked boy, and the sooner he's put in convict-clothes and refused a ticket-of-leave, the better."

That is false too: the affected smartness of the wit does not suit the situation; or, rather, as a writer in the Athenaeum has said of a similar speech, "it suits any occasion."

In this same Play, Mrs. Kin peck soliloquizes thus: "I fell into a most unquiet sleep. I thought I saw Cliqueteaux, the old croupier, who died of love for me —of that and a complication of other disorders. A man that was a genius, with a wart on his nose. It was hereditary—the genius, not the wart," etc. Now this may be "funny," but it is not dramatic. It reminds one of the most forced passages of Artemas Ward's generally fresh and unforced humor. But perhaps the worst instance in all Robertson's play of this pitiful sacrifice of situation and character to a petty "joke" is found in Caste. Sam Gerridge, a gas-fitter and plumber, desiring to marry Polly, the daughter of Eccles, a drunken old brute, tells him so, casually mentioning that to prove his affection he will do anything he can in "the way of spirituous liquor or tobacco." This captivates the heart of old Eccles, who joins the hands of the young couple, saying with a drunken leer, "Samuel Gerridge, she is thine. Samuel Gerridge, you shall be 'er 'usband! I don't know a gasfitter man!" (The italics are in the original).

These are but minor errors, however. The great fault in Robertson's comedies is the lack of strong dramatic interest. There is no human passion. There is no exhibition of human strength and human weakness. There is little of that clash of character against character from which results true comedy. But even if his characters are mere empty-headed automata, even if his plays have not the literary value of Mr. W.S. Gilbert's, even if his pieces have not the situations of Sardou or the wit of Sheridan, he has a simple sweetness all his own. And perhaps, after all, the greatest objection to him is the weakness of his imitators. Success is always a schoolmaster. But it is not just to hold Robertson responsible for the faults of Alberry or the failings of the tea-cup-and-saucer school of comedy-writers.



It is the fashion to decry French memoirs of court-life, and, considering the quaint freedom of style which characterizes much of this voluminous literature, it is not strange. Many of these memoirs, original letters, etc. are exceedingly interesting, because of their merciless unmasking of some of the sublime figure-heads of history; notably the letters of Madame Charlotte Elizabeth of Bavaria, widow of Monsieur, the only brother of Louis XIV. She always hated the French manners, and longed for her native sauer-kraut and sausages, which to her taste were finer than all the luxuries and dainties of the French cuisine. She was counted a severe moralist, and her tongue was more dreaded than a bayonet-charge. To be sure, her enemies more than hinted that her extraordinary virtue was trebly guarded by her ugliness. On the latter subject she says herself, "I must be cruelly ugly: I never had a passable feature. My eyes are little, my nose short and big, my lips long and flat, my cheeks hanging, my face long, my waist and my legs large, my stature short: sum-total, a little old fright." But she was intelligent and witty, and that, in France at least, goes a long way with a woman. She was also loyal and truthful. No one doubted her word when once she had spoken. This makes her testimony valuable, though many incidents circumspectly narrated by her seem incredible. Of the young duchesse de Bourgogne, second daughter of Louis XIV., she says: One of her amusements was to make her lackeys drag her over the floor by her feet. It is to be presumed that the duchess was a very young person at this time.

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Madame Charlotte's portrait of Marie Thérèse, queen of Le Grand Monarque, is not very flattering: "Her teeth were black and broken, and she ate immoderately of garlic and chocolate. She was very fond of basset, but she never won, for she could never learn to play any game. She ate long and very slowly, taking mouthfuls for a canary." The diagnosis of the disease of which the queen died displays the popular pathological lore of those times. Madame says: "She died of an abscess on the arm, for which Fagon bled her. The humor entered and fell on the heart: he then gave her an emetic to remove the humor, and this suffocated her." La Valière, according to Madame Charlotte, was the only woman who ever really loved the king. She limped a little, had lovely eyes, irregular teeth, and was very neat in her person, while Madame de Montespan was just the reverse.

Of Cardinal Richelieu we have a glimpse in madame's letters which his biographers, generally at least, omit. She tells us that he used to have violent fits of insanity, during which he would imagine that he was a horse, jump over a billiard-table, kick his servants, neigh, and make a fearful noise for an hour. His domestics would then get him into bed, and after much sweating he would wake without the least memory of what had passed. As "jumping over a billiard-table" might appear an incredible feat, at least for an aged cardinal, it is proper to remark that the billiard-tables of those times bore about the same relation in size to our modern billiard-tables that the ancient spinnet did to a grand pianoforte.


Some of our young ladies have a pretty art of constructing miniature landscapes out of pebbles and mosses, strips of glistening paper for brooks, little fuzzy pine sticks painted green for trees, and animals and Swiss cottages from the toy-shop. Could these amateur artists once see how the Japanese do this thing, they would abandon their mosses and pebbles in despair. A late traveler in Japan says of one of these: "It was a fairy-like landscape seen through a spy-glass reversed." Some of the details were real trees dwarfed to pigmies by the art of the Oriental florist. There were limpid lakes peopled with gold-fish; grottos and summer-houses of exquisite finish draped with growing verdure and large enough to shelter a small company of rabbits: lovely walks winding through groves, lawns and by miniature parterres of flowers, and finally, liliputian canals, spanned by elegant bridges wide enough for the passage of a large rat.

Among the "Notes" in the New York Nation of May 6th is the following:

"In the new edition of Prescott's complete works (Lippincott) we have remarked that the introduction to Charles V., so admirable for the time when it was written, is left untouched by the editor, not even the notes giving any intimation of the great progress made in the knowledge of the Middle Ages within the last hundred years. The editor may have chosen to regard the work as a literary monument to be preserved as it stands, and certainly it would require very extensive if not entire recasting."

There would seem to be some misapprehension at the bottom of these statements. No one, we believe, has ever undertaken to edit Robertson's History of Charles the Fifth. Prescott appended to it a long "Account of the Emperor's Life after his Abdication," and for that reason it has been included in all subsequent editions of his works. But no intimation has ever been given that the editor of Prescott's histories had assumed the same office for Robertson. If any one be engaged in editing Charles the Fifth, we can only wish him joy of the task. We trust, however, he will not proceed on the plan suggested by the Nation, of "recasting" the work in whole or in part. Such a process could hardly be considered as proper treatment of any literary production, which, whatever its demerits, should at least be subjected to no worse perversions than those of dishonest or incompetent criticism.

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Macready's Reminiscences, and Selections from his Diaries and Letters. Edited by Sir Frederick Pollock, Bart., one of his Executors. New York: Macmillan & Co.

It is probable that this book will excite a degree of disappointment in many readers, who, knowing Macready's position outside his profession, may naturally have expected to find in the record of his life ample and interesting details of his intercourse, often amounting to intimacy, with a great number of notable persons. This expectation would without doubt have been gratified had the autobiography, which occupies a third of the volume and covers about the same proportion of the writer's theatrical career, been carried to its close. Macready was not one of those men who spring to eminence at a bound: his powers were gradually and slowly developed, and owing partly to this fact, but partly also to unfavorable circumstances, the recognition of them was tardy and grudging. For many years after his début on the London boards he, who at a later period was almost disparaged as a pre-eminently intellectual actor, owed his chief successes to his performance of melodramatic parts like Rob Roy and William Tell, for which his mental as well as physical endowments were considered especially to qualify him. When at length he had reached his full maturity, he stood without a living rival as the representative of leading Shakespearian characters; and maintaining this supremacy down to his retirement from the stage, closed the line of great tragedians and left a place which after the lapse of a quarter of a century still remains unfilled. His high personal worth and his efforts to exalt and purify the drama won him golden opinions from all sorts of men; and, with the exception of Garrick, no actor probably ever mingled as largely or came into as close relations with persons distinguished in other and alien walks of life. Mere fashionable society he seems never to have frequented, and his labors were too pressing and onerous to allow of that continuous companionship with a chosen circle in which men of letters or of science, however industrious, are generally able to find relaxation. But he came in contact, at one time or another, with most of the celebrated people of his day on both sides of the Atlantic, his friendship was sought and prized by many of them, and the occasional glimpses we get of them in his Diaries are of a kind to deepen our regret that the Reminiscences, in which the power of skillfully elaborating his material is sufficiently evidenced, should close abruptly just when the sources of its interest were becoming wider and fuller.

But any loss from this cause of amusing anecdotes or graphic descriptions of persons or scenes is more than made good by the far higher value and stronger attraction of the book as the portraiture of a striking character and a remarkable career. In this view the Diaries are not inferior in interest to the expanded narrative that precedes them. Indeed, terse and concise as they generally are, they have the advantage of presenting freshly and vividly the impressions and reflections of the moment, and thus exhibiting the writer's mind both in its habitual and exceptional states without reservation or deliberate purpose. They do not, however, reveal any different image from that which is presented in the autobiography: on the contrary, they confirm the truthfulness and frank fidelity of the more conscious self-delineation which is there attempted. There breathes, indeed, through the whole book a tone of unaffected sincerity, the charm of which cannot be overrated. Not only does every statement bear the stamp of veracity, but there is an utter absence of artifice, of any design, so to speak, upon the reader, which is as rare as it is beautiful. Admiration and sympathy were needs of Macready's nature, but he will have no jot of them beyond what he can fairly and honorably claim. Least of all, will he exalt himself at the expense of others. He pays no idle compliments, pours out no fulsome or insidious eulogies, but he speaks of his rivals and his predecessors with the warm appreciation of one who had felt the full influence of their power, and who could never look on merit with an oblique eye. His worship of Mrs. Siddons, as unparalleled in her genius, was life-long, and his descriptions of her acting convey a more vivid idea of its peculiar qualities and matchless effect than any others we can [pg 773] remember to have read. Talma comes next in his regard as "the most finished artist of his time, not below Kean in his most energetic displays, and far above him in the refinement of his taste and the extent of his research—equaling Kemble in dignity, unfettered by his stiffness and formality." He says acutely of Kean that "when under the impulse of his genius he seemed to clutch the whole idea of the man, ... but if he missed the character in his first attempt at conception he never could recover it by study." Of Kean, if of any actor, we might have feared that his notices would be tinged with jealousy; but not only does he render justice to his originality and "burning energy," but his account of the only evening he ever spent in private with "this extraordinary man" brings into full relief the charm of his manners and personal qualities at a time when he was still unspoilt by flattery and unenfeebled by dissipation. Sketches and criticisms more or less complete are given of many other great performers, whom, it is to be remembered, Macready had less opportunity of seeing in a variety of parts than if he had not himself been a busy member of the profession. He can censure as well as praise—less warmly, but not less candidly. His verdict on Ristori, whom he saw after his retirement, may not improbably appear harsh to her admirers, but we should recommend them to ponder well before endeavoring to controvert it.

It would, however, be difficult if not impossible to name a volume of memoirs in which there is so little dispraise of individuals, such an absence of what can be characterized as depreciation either in the way of direct remark or of insinuation. There will be no call for contradiction of any slurs upon character through perversion of facts or the repetition of hearsay calumny in its pages. Nor does this seem to proceed from either a mere distaste for the chatter of gossips or an unwillingness to wound the feelings of survivors, though both these traits are discernible enough. The strong and more pervading cause lay in an instinctive nobility of nature which sought only what was excellent and had no keen scent for blemishes or meannesses. There are in his Diaries many bitter reproaches and vehement denunciations, but they are all directed against his own conduct. Like Orlando, he will chide no breather in the world but himself, against whom he knows most faults. He had the defects incidental to a sensitive organization, an irritable temperament and an aspiring mind. He was apt to suspect hostility where none existed, and to resent indignities that were never intended. He confesses on one occasion at least to an unworthy elation at the inferiority of a rival. Above all, he was unable to curb the outbreaks of impatience and anger excited by negligence or stupidity—outbreaks which were often sufficiently amusing to the bystanders from the contrast between the old-fashioned violence of the language and the refined tones and lofty bearing of the speaker. In fact, so foreign were such displays to the dominant qualities of his character, while yet so closely connected with the fine sense and exacting spirit of the artist, that one is tempted to wish that he could himself have viewed them with more indifference, accepting this thorn in the flesh as a slight but irremediable misfortune, instead of making it the constant subject of penitence and self-abasement. But such a course would have been still more foreign to his nature, ever aiming at perfection, moral and artistic, ever summoning his faculties and actions to the stern inquest of conscience, and refusing to accept the verdict of any lower tribunal. And the struggle had its reward in a real if not complete victory. The weeds, if never wholly eradicated, could not choke the nobler growth; the stream, if it retained its turbid coloring, increased always in volume and majesty. The fine qualities which might so easily have deteriorated remained unscathed. His keen sense of justice and honor, his inborn candor and generosity, his fervent love of virtue and goodness in their simplest and least obtrusive exhibitions, his cordial admiration of true greatness,—these and kindred traits never lost their freshness or force. Above all, he retained throughout life that deep and exquisite tenderness of feeling which formed the supreme charm of his character, as it did of his acting, and to which it would not, we think, be easy to find a parallel in a person of his own sex. It was not alone in his ardent family affections—his fond recollections of the mother he lost in boyhood, his devotion to his sister, wife and brother, his passionate love of his children, or his anguish and abiding sorrow at every severance of such ties—that this quality displayed itself. His sympathy with all suffering, especially if conjoined with innocence and patient endurance, was not only quick but strong. His eyes fill with tears at [pg 774] the sight of a fellow-passenger in a mail-coach, a poor deformed boy, who is carrying a basket of toys from one town to another, and he shakes his hand at parting with a "God bless thee!" that comes direct from the heart. It was strikingly characteristic of him that, with all his intense ambition, his resolute desire—to use a phrase which we have heard him apply to himself—"to rise above the crowd, and stand when others fall," he chose for his wife a young provincial actress, whom he had once chided for her inattention or inability, but whose artlessness of manner, purity and sweetness of nature and aptness for improvement so enlisted his sympathies that he constituted himself her friend and guide until the death of her father and brother awakened a still warmer solicitude, bringing with it the discovery that "love had been the inspiration of all the counsel and assistance he had rendered her." Nor is the noble frankness less noticeable with which he tells of his sister's unconcealed disappointment on her first introduction to the fiancée, whose person as well as mind he had so extolled in his descriptions and whom happily she learned ere long to look at with his eyes, so that the happiness and serenity of his home were destined to be pure and undisturbed.

Within a few years after his marriage he fixed his abode at a short distance from London, where the sight of open fields, of trees and flowers, never failed to exercise its soothing and restorative influence upon him. The love of Nature was a passion with him, and in the record of his journeys—whether the few which he was able to make for the sole purpose of pleasure or his many professional tours—his notices of the scenery show how large was the enjoyment he derived from this healthful source. When, too, he withdrew from public life, it was to the neighborhood of a small town, remote from the former scenes of his struggles and triumphs, but commanding a wide view over a pleasing landscape. Here, as the friend who has edited this volume tells us, "he devoted himself almost exclusively to labors of kindness and usefulness; his charity was so extensive that, although his left hand knew not what his right hand did, it was impossible that it should escape observation even beyond the sphere of the recipients of his bounty; and while thus engaged in relieving distress in the neighborhood of his new home, he continued to remit money to old pensioners elsewhere up to the day of his death.... But his great interest was in the cause of education, especially among the poorer classes, which he developed at the cost of incessant personal exertion, and mainly at his own expense. He established a night-school, which he conducted himself, and in which he was assisted by voluntary teachers from among the gentlemen and tradesmen of the town, who attended in turns, but he was himself never absent from his post, except under very urgent necessity. After a time some of his friends raised a subscription in order to relieve Macready of a part of the burden which his own zeal in the cause had brought upon himself. Yet, although his own contribution to it had not been ever less than one hundred pounds a year [about a twelfth of his whole income], he was so fond of the night-school that he accepted this aid as a proof of the estimation in which his work was held, and as an additional fund, but not in ease of his own payments." Such a close to such a life will seem either a lame and impotent conclusion or a most fitting and harmonious cadence, according to the point of view.

We have spoken chiefly of Macready's character as a man, which was so attractive in itself, and is so faithfully and lucidly mirrored in this record of his life, that the work may be commended to readers of every class and ranked with the choicest specimens of biography. As the record of an artistic career its interest is of course more limited. Yet in this respect also its excellence is very great, and if the art which Macready practiced with such assiduity and devotion, though with no undue estimate of its value or importance, held a higher place in the world's regard, the light which is here thrown on its processes and requirements would be received as an inestimable boon. But at least his example, the spirit in which he worked, is worthy of the study and emulation of those who cultivate any art. In none has excellence ever been achieved by deeper thought or more unremitting labor. It would be absurd to question Macready's real eminence, based on the judgment of critical audiences with whom great acting was not a mere matter of tradition. But we may readily concede that in natural endowments he fell short of the most illustrious of his predecessors, that he lacked the intuitive grasp which he ascribes to Mrs. Siddons and to Kean, and that he never reached the intensity [pg 775] and complete abandon which gave an overwhelming effect to their highest performances. We may apply to his acting what Carlyle has so justly said of the poetry of Schiller, that it "shows rather like a partial than a universal gift—the labored product of certain faculties rather than the spontaneous product of his whole nature." There was always the perception of the natural limit of his qualifications, instead of any suggestiveness of a boundless capacity. His voice, though rich and musical and of extraordinary compass, had not the sonorous roundness and the penetrating sweetness of the rarest organs, and was subject to a tremulousness which, though often pleasing, could not but be considered as a defect. His features, though capable of great expression, had neither the beauty nor the extraordinary mobility so desirable in an actor. His attitudes and walk were graceful, picturesque, often superb, but not absolutely free from conventionalism. Instead of bursting away, as Kean had done, from the meshes of tradition, he had only expanded and attenuated them to the utmost, and if they did not really cramp, they still appeared to circumscribe Nature and truth. It is evident that without the most persistent efforts he could never have triumphed over obstacles and gained the highest rank in his profession. How ardent and conscientious was the struggle a thousand details in this volume bear testimony. Perhaps the most curious is the description given in a letter written after his retirement of the methods he had practiced for repressing exaggeration in gesture, utterance or facial expression. "I would lie down on the floor, or stand straight against a wall, or get my arms within a bandage, and, so pinned or confined, repeat the most violent passages of Othello, Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth, or whatever would require most energy and emotion; I would speak the most passionate bursts of rage under the supposed constraint of whispering them in the ear of him of her to whom they were addressed, thus keeping both voice and gesture in subjection to the real impulse of the feeling.... I was obliged also to have frequent recourse to the looking-glass, and had two or three large ones in my room to reflect each view of the posture I might have fallen into, besides being under the necessity of acting the passion close to a glass to restrain the tendency to exaggerate its expression—which was the most difficult of all—to repress the ready frown, and keep the features, perhaps I should say the muscles, of the face undisturbed, whilst intense passion would speak from the eye alone." If the propriety of some of these exercises be questionable, there can be no doubt that the general effect of such discipline was to correct the acquired tendencies of his youth and to chasten his style until it lacked nothing less than refinement.

All this concerned the technique of his art. Its soul—the thoughts, the feelings, the characters to be embodied by it—formed the subject of deeper, more constant and more delightful meditation. Here at least Macready was at no disadvantage in a comparison with the most illustrious of his predecessors. Some there may have been who gave more vividly the salient points of a character, or who, as in the case of Kean's Othello, infused into their personations of some of the grandest but least complex of Shakespeare's creations an intensity of passion that defied all rivalry. But none ever brought to the study of the poet the intellectual discernment, the sympathetic spirit, the true and heartfelt devotion with which Macready ministered at his shrine. Not his own part alone, but the whole play, including the words and scenes omitted in representation, were imprinted in his memory and continually revolved. The groundwork was thus laid in a thorough knowledge of the medium, to use the expression of Taine, applying it, however, not to mere external facts and circumstances, but to that individuality of form, ideas and style which the great dramatist has given to each of his works. Then the meaning and bearing of every phrase received their share of light from the same general source, and the performance was pervaded throughout by a consistency and a subtle discrimination which rendered it a living commentary, acting on the intellect through the emotions.

It is easy to understand why, in the great variety of Macready's impersonations, none stood out by universal consent as indubitably the greatest. To all he gave his unstinted devotion and the full measure of his powers, and the choice was left to be determined mainly by the peculiar taste of the spectator. Yet there were some which must be recalled with especial vividness as best exemplifying the scope of his genius and his general characteristics. Two of these parts, Werner and Melantius, were not Shakespearian creations, but they were at least devices of the poetical imagination, not of the mere playwright's [pg 776] handiwork. In both we have the spectacle of a proud and sensitive but open and loving nature blighted with dishonor and misery through the crimes of one near in blood and cherished with an unsuspecting affection. Here were conceptions that made no demands on his imaginative power. He had not to transform himself into the characters, but only to give free play to the springs of his own nature. The grief, the passion, the sudden revulsions of feeling were not mimetic displays: one could imagine no different expression of them. He was Werner and Melantius because Werner and Melantius were Macready.

Shakespeare's characters do not so adapt themselves to individual idiosyncrasies. No man can hope to identify himself with them unless he can give wings to his faculties and soar above the plane of his actual emotions. Often, no doubt, apparent triumphs have been gained by displays of histrionic power that owed little to the informing spirit of the poet. But Macready has never been accused of seeking such results: whatever his performances may have lacked, they were always imbued with a fine intelligence which brought all the details into harmony and kept the attention fixed on the conception of the character. Thus in Macbeth, which was perhaps, on the whole, his most perfect impersonation, every look and gesture, every intonation, conveyed the idea of one who lived on the border-line of an invisible world, to whom all shapes and actions were half phantasmal, for whom clear vision and sober contemplation were impossible. All his utterances were abrupt, all his movements hurried; a certain wildness, not of mere mental agitation, but of a spirit nurtured on unrealities, marked his manner and countenance throughout. In Hamlet there was the drawback of a physical appearance unsuited to the part. Yet it was the character which he had studied most profoundly, and in which, as we remember him in it, he held the most complete sway over the minds and feelings of his audiences. None of his performances, as may be imagined, was so distinguished by its intellectuality, yet none was so simply and irresistibly pathetic. The abstraction and self-communing in the delivery of the famous soliloquy can never have been surpassed, and were probably never equaled; and throughout the closet scene there was a reality in the tenderness, the vehemence, and the awe which held the spectators breathless and spellbound. "Beautiful Hamlet, farewell, farewell!" are his closing words in recording his last performance of the part. But this was no final parting: while memory retained her seat in the mind of this great artist, this true and loving servant of Shakespeare's genius, the matchless creations with which he had so identified himself could never cease to be the subjects of daily meditation. "On one occasion," we are told, "after his powers had so much failed that it was long since he had been capable of holding or reading a book to himself, he said he had been reading Hamlet. On some surprise being expressed, he touched his forehead, and said 'Here;' and when asked if he could recollect the whole play, he replied, 'Yes, every word, every pause; and the very pauses have eloquence.'"

Books Received.

The Internal Mission of the Holy Ghost. By Henry Edward, Archbishop of Westminster New York: D. & J. Sadlier.

Man and Beast Here and Hereafter. By Rev. J.G. Wood, M.A., F.L.S. New York: George Routledge & Son.

Lakey's Village and Country Houses, comprising eighty-four pages of Designs. New York: The Orange Judd Co.

Social Science and National Economy. By R.E. Thompson, M.A. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates.

A Defence of the United States Patent System. By J.S. Perry. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co.

Brief Biographies: English Statesmen. By T.W. Higginson. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

The Best Reading: Hints on the Selection of Books. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

How to Make a Living. By George C. Eggleston. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Ralph Wilton's Weird: A Novel. By Mrs. Alexander. New York: Henry Holt & Co.

Warrington's Manual. By William S. Robinson. Boston: Lee & Shepard.

Home Talks. By John H. Noyes. Published by the Oneida Community.

Spain and the Spaniards. By N.L. Thieblin. Boston: Lee & Shepard.

Social Pressure. By Sir Arthur Helps. Boston: Roberts Brothers.

In the Camargue. By Emily Bowles. Boston: Loring.


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