The Project Gutenberg EBook of Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XII. September,
1863, No. LXXI., by Various

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Title: Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XII. September, 1863, No. LXXI.
       A Magazine Of Literature, Art, And Politics

Author: Various

Release Date: October 5, 2004 [EBook #13631]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, the PG Online Distributed Proofreading
Team, and Cornell University

[pg 265]




Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by TICKNOR AND FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.


It is nine o'clock upon a summer Sunday morning, in the year sixteen hundred and something. The sun looks down brightly on a little forest settlement, around whose expanding fields the great American wilderness recedes each day, withdrawing its bears and wolves and Indians into an ever remoter distance,—not yet so far but that a stout wooden gate at each end of the village street indicates that there is something outside which must stay outside, if possible. It would look very busy and thriving in this little place, to-day, but for the Sabbath stillness which broods over everything with almost an excess of calm. Even the smoke ascends more faintly than usual from the chimneys of these abundant log-huts and scanty framed houses, and since three o'clock yesterday afternoon not a stroke of this world's work has been done. Last night a preparatory lecture was held, and now comes the consummation of the whole week's life, in the solemn act of worship. In which settlement of the Massachusetts Colony is the great observance to pass before our eyes? If it be Cambridge village, the warning drum is beating its peaceful summons to the congregation. If it be Salem village, a bell is sounding its more ecclesiastic peal, and a red flag is simultaneously hung forth from the meeting-house, like the auction-flag of later periods, but offering in this case goods without money and beyond price. But if it be Haverhill village, then Abraham Tyler has been blowing his horn assiduously for half an hour, a service for which Abraham, each year, receives a half-pound of pork from every family in town.

Be it drum, bell, or horn, which gives the summons, we will draw near to this important building, the centre of the village, the one public edifice,—meeting-house, town-house, school-house, watch-house, all in one. So important is it, that no one can legally dwell more than a half-mile from it. And yet the people ride to meeting, short though the distance be, for at yonder oaken block a wife dismounts from behind her husband;—and has it not, moreover, been found needful to impose a fine of forty shillings on fast trotting to and fro? All sins [pg 266] are not modern ones, young gentlemen.

We approach nearer still, and come among the civic institutions. This is the pillory, yonder the stocks, and there is a large wooden cage, a terror to evil-doers, but let us hope empty now. Round the meeting-house is a high wooden paling, to which the law permits citizens to tie their horses, provided it be not done too near the passage-way. For at that opening stands a sentry, clothed in a suit of armor which is painted black, and cost the town twenty-four shillings by the bill. He bears also a heavy matchlock musket; his rest, or iron fork, is stuck in the ground, ready to support the weapon; and he is girded with his bandoleer, or broad leather belt, which sustains a sword and a dozen tin cartridge-boxes.

The meeting-house is the second to which the town has treated itself, the first having been "a timber fort, both strong and comely, with flat roof and battlements,"—a cannon on top, and the cannonade of the gospel down below. But this one cost the town sixty-three pounds, hard-earned pounds, and carefully expended. It is built of brick, smeared outside with clay, and finished with clay-boards, larger than our clapboards, outside of all. It is about twenty-five feet square, with a chimney half the width of the building, and projecting four feet above the thatched roof. The steeple is in the centre, and the bell-rope, if they have one, hangs in the middle of the broad aisle. There are six windows, two on each of the two sides, and two more at the end, part being covered with oiled paper only, part glazed in numerous small panes. And between the windows, on the outside, hang the heads of all the wolves that have been killed in the township within the year. But the Quakers think that the wolves have cheated the parish and got inside, in sheep's clothing.

The people are assembling. The Governor has passed by, with his four vergers bearing halberds before him. The French Popish ambassadors, who have just arrived from Canada, are told the customs of the place, and left to stay quietly in the Governor's house, with sweetmeats, wines, and the liberty of a private walk in the garden. The sexton has just called for the minister, as is his duty twice every Sunday, and, removing his cocked hat, he walks before his superior officer. The minister enters and passes up the aisle, dressed in Geneva cloak, black skull-cap, and black gloves open at thumb and finger, for the better handling of his manuscript. He looks round upon his congregation, a few hundred, recently seated anew for the year, arranged according to rank and age. There are the old men in the pews beneath the pulpit. There are the young men in the gallery, or near the door, with ruffs, showy belts, gold and silver buttons, "points" at the knees, and great boots. There are the young women, with "silk or tiffany hoods or scarfs," "embroidered or needle-worked caps," "immoderate great sleeves," "cut works,"—a mystery,—"slash apparel,"—another mystery,—"immoderate great vayles, long wings," etc.,—mystery on mystery, but all recorded in the statutes, which forbid these splendors to persons of mean estate. There are the wives of the magistrates in prominent seats, and the grammar-school master's wife next them; and in each pew, close to the mother's elbow, is the little wooden cage for the youngest child, still too young to sit alone. All boys are held too young to sit alone also; for, though the emigrants left in Holland the aged deaconess who there presided, birch in hand, to control the rising generation in Sunday meetings, yet the urchins are now herded on the pulpit- and gallery-stairs, with four constables to guard them from the allurements of sin. And there sits Sin itself embodied in the shrinking form of some humiliated man or woman, placed on a high stool in the principal aisle, bearing the name of some dark crime written on paper and pinned to the garments, or perhaps a Scarlet Letter on the breast.

[pg 273]

Oh, the silence of this place of worship, after the solemn service sets in! "People do not sneeze or cough here in public assemblies," says one writer, triumphantly, "so much as in England." The warning caution, "Be short," which the minister has inscribed above his study-door, claims no authority over his pulpit. He may pray his hour, unpausing, and no one thinks it long; for, indeed, at prayer-meetings four persons will sometimes pray an hour each,—one with confession, one with private petitions, a third with petitions for church and kingdom, and a fourth with thanksgiving,—neither part of the quartette being for an instant confused with the other. Then he may preach his hour, and, turning his hour-glass, may say,—but that he will not anticipate the levity to be born in a later century with Mather Byles,—"Now, my hearers, we will take another glass."

In short, this is the pomp and circumstance of glorious preaching. Woe to any one who shall disturb its proprieties! It is written in the statute, "If any one interrupt or oppose a preacher in season of worship, they shall be reproved by the magistrate, and on repetition shall pay £5, or stand two hours on a block four feet high, with this inscription in capitals, 'A Wanton Gospeller.'" Nor this alone, but the law stands by the minister's doctrine even out of the meeting-house. It is but a few days since Nathaniel Hadlock was sentenced to be severely whipped for declaring that he could receive no profit from Mr. H——'s preaching,—since Thomas Maule was mauled to the extent of ten stripes for declaring that Mr. H—— preached lies, and that his instruction was the doctrine of devils,—since even the wife of Nicholas Phelps was sentenced to pay five pounds or be whipped, for asserting that this same Mr. H—— sent abroad his wolves and bloodhounds among the sheep and lambs. Truly, it is a perilous thing to attend public worship in such reverential days. However, it is equally dangerous to stay at home; there are tithing-men to look after the absentees, and any one unnecessarily absent must pay five shillings. He may be put in the stocks or in the wooden cage, if delinquent for a month together.

But we must give our attention to the sermon. It is what the congregation will pronounce "a large, nervous, and golden discourse," a Scriptural discourse,—like the skeleton of the sea-serpent, all backbone and a great deal of that. It may be some very special and famous effort. Perhaps Increase Mather is preaching on "The Morning Star," or on "Snow," or on "The Voice of God in Stormy Winds"; or it may be his sermon entitled "Burnings Bewailed," to improve the lesson of some great conflagration, which he attributes partly to Sabbath-breaking and partly to the new fashion of monstrous periwigs. Or it may be Cotton Mather, his son, rolling forth his resounding discourse during a thunder-storm, entitled "Brantologia Sacra,"—consisting of seven separate divisions or thunderbolts, and filled with sharp lightning from Scripture and the Rabbinical lore, and Cartesian natural philosophy. Just as he has proclaimed, "In the thunder there is the voice of the glorious God," a messenger comes hastening in, as in the Book of Job, to tell him that his own house has just been struck, and though no person is hurt, yet the house hath been much torn and filled with the lightnings. With what joy and power he instantly wields above his audience this providential surplus of excitement, reminding one irresistibly of some scientific lecturer who has nearly blown himself up by his own experiments, and proceeds beaming with fresh confidence, the full power of his compound being incontestably shown. Rising with the emergency, he tells them grandly, that, as he once had in his house a magnet which the thunder changed instantly from north to south, so it were well if the next bolt could change their stubborn souls from Satan to God. But afterward he is compelled to own that Satan also is sometimes permitted to have [pg 274] a hand in the thunder, which is the reason why it breaks oftener on churches than on any other buildings; and again he admits, pensively, at last, that churches and ministers' houses have undoubtedly the larger share.

The sermon is over. The more demoralized among the little boys, whose sleepy eyes have been more than once admonished by the hare's-foot wand of the constables,—the sharp paw is used for the boys, the soft fur is kept for the smooth foreheads of drowsy maidens,—look up thoroughly awakened now. Bright eyes glance from beneath silk or tiffany hoods, for a little interlude is coming. Many things may happen in this pause after the sermon. Questions may be asked of the elders now, which the elders may answer,—if they can. Some lay brother may "exercise" on a text of Scripture,—rather severe exercise, it sometimes turns out. Candidates for the church may be proposed. A baptism may take place. If it be the proper month, the laws against profaning the Sabbath may be read. The last town-regulations may be read; or, far more exciting, a new marriage may be published. Or a darker scene may follow, and some offending magistrate may be required to stand upon a bench, in his worst garments, with a foul linen cap drawn close to his eyes, and acknowledge his sins before the pious people, who reverenced him so lately.

These things done, a deacon says impressively, "Brethren, now there is time for contribution; wherefore, as God hath prospered you, so freely offer." Then the people in the galleries come down and march two abreast, "up one ile and down the other," passing before the desk, where in a long "pue" sit the elders and deacons. One of these holds a moneybox, into which the worshippers put their offerings, usually varying from one to five shillings, according to their ability and good-will. Some give paper pledges instead; and others give other valuables, such as "a fair gilt cup, with a cover," for the communion-service. Then comes a psalm, read, line after line, by some one appointed, out of the "Bay Psalm-Book," and sung by the people. These psalms are sung regularly through, four every Sunday, and some ten tunes compose the whole vocal range of the congregation. Then come the words, "Blessed are they who hear the word of the Lord and keep it," and then the benediction.

And then the reverend divine descends from his desk and walks down the aisle, bowing gravely right and left to his people, not one of whom stirs till the minister has gone out; and then the assembly disperses, each to his own home, unless it be some who have come from a distance, and stay to eat their cold pork and peas in the meeting-house.

Roll aside the panorama of the three-hours' Sunday service of two centuries ago, lest that which was not called wearisome in the passing prove wearisome in the delineation now. It needed all this accumulation of small details to show how widely the externals of New-England church-going have changed since those early days. But what must have been the daily life of that Puritan minister for whom this exhausting service was but one portion of the task of life! Truly, they were "pious and painful preachers" then, as I have read upon a stone in the old Watertown graveyard;—"princely preachers" Cotton Mather calls them. He relates that Mr. Cotton, in addition to preaching on Sunday and holding his ordinary lecture every Thursday, preached thrice a week besides, on Wednesday and Thursday early in the morning, and on Saturday afternoon. He also held a daily lecture in his house, which was at last abandoned as being too much thronged, and frequent occasional days occurred, when he would spend six hours "in the word and in prayer." On his voyage to this country, he being accompanied by two other ministers, they commonly had three sermons a day,—one after every meal. He was "an universal scholar and a walking library,"—he studied twelve hours a day, [pg 275] and said he liked to sweeten his mouth with a piece of Calvin before he went to sleep.

A fearful rate of labor; a strange, grave, quaint, ascetic, rigorous life. It seems a mystery how the Reverend Joshua Moody could have survived to write four thousand sermons, but it is no mystery why the Reverend John Mitchell was called "a truly aged young man" at thirty,—especially when we consider that he was successor at Cambridge to "the holy, heavenly, sweet-affecting, and soul-ravishing Mr. Shepard," in continuance of whose labors he kept a monthly lecture, "wherein he largely handled man's misery by sin and made a most entertaining exposition of the Book of Genesis."

For the minister's week-days were more arduous than his Sundays, and to have for each parish both pastor and teacher still left a formidable duty for each. He must visit families during several afternoons in every week, sending previous notice, so that children and domestics might be ready for catechizing. He was "much visited for counsel" in his own home, and must set apart one day in the week for cases of conscience, ranging from the most fine-drawn self-tormentings up to the most unnatural secret crimes. He must often go to lectures in neighboring towns, a kind of religious dissipation which increased so fast that the Legislature at last interfered to restrict it. He must have five or six separate seasons for private prayer daily, devoting each day in the week to special meditations and intercessions,—as Monday to his family, Tuesday to enemies, Wednesday to the churches, Thursday to other societies, Friday to persons afflicted, and Saturday to his own soul. He must have private fasts, spending whole days locked in his study and whole nights prostrate on the floor. Cotton Mather "thought himself starved," unless he fasted once a month at farthest, while he often did it twice in a week. Then there were public fasts quite frequently, "because of sins, blastings, mildews, drought, grasshoppers, caterpillars, small pox," "loss of cattle by cold and frowns of Providence." Perhaps a mouse and a snake had a battle in the neighborhood, and the minister must expound it as "symbolizing the conflict betwixt Satan and God's poor people," the latter being the mouse triumphant. Then if there were a military expedition, the minister might think it needful to accompany it. If there were even a muster, he must open and close it with prayer, or, in his absence, the captain must officiate instead.

One would naturally add to this record of labors the attendance on weddings and funerals. It is strange how few years are required to make a usage seem ancestral, or to reunite a traditional broken one. Who now remembers that our progenitors for more than a century disused religious services on both these solemn occasions? Magistrates alone could perform the marriage ceremony; though it was thought to be carrying the monopoly quite too far, when Governor Bellingham, in 1641, officiated at his own. Prayer was absolutely forbidden at funerals, as was done also by Calvin at Geneva, by John Knox in Scotland, by the English Puritans in the Westminster Assembly, and by the French Huguenots. The bell might ring, the friends might walk, two and two, to the grave; but there must be no prayer uttered. The secret was, that the traditions of the English and Romish Churches must be avoided at all sacrifices. "Doctor," said King James to a Puritan divine, "do you go barefoot because the Papists wear shoes and stockings?" Even the origin of the frequent New-England habit of eating salt fish on Saturday is supposed to have been the fact that Roman Catholics eat it on Friday.

But if there were no prayers said on these occasions, there were sermons. Mr. John Calf, of Newbury, described one specimen of funeral sermon in immortal verse:—

"On Sabbath day he went his way,
  As he was used to do,
God's house unto, that they might know
  What he had for to show;
[pg 276]
God's holy will he must fulfil,
  For it was his desire
For to declare a sermon rare
  Concerning Madam Fryer."

The practice of wedding discourses was handed down into the last century, and sometimes beguiled the persons concerned into rather startling levities. For instance, when Parson Smith's daughter Mary was to marry young Mr. Cranch,—(what graceful productions of pen and pencil have come to this generation from the posterity of that union!)—the father permitted the saintly maiden to decide on her own text for the sermon, and she meekly selected, "Mary hath chosen the better part, which shall not be taken away from her," and the discourse was duly pronounced. But when her wild young sister Abby was bent on marrying a certain Squire Adams, called John, whom her father disliked and would not even invite to dinner, she boldly suggested for her text, "John came, neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and ye say he hath a devil." But no sermon stands recorded under this prefix, though Abby lived to be the wife of one President of the United States and mother of another.

The Puritan minister had public duties also upon him. "New England being a country," said Cotton Mather, "whose interests are remarkably enwrapped in theological circumstances, ministers ought to interest themselves in politics." Indeed, for many years they virtually controlled the franchise, inasmuch as only male church-members could vote or hold office, at least in the Massachusetts Colony. Those malecontents who petitioned to enlarge the suffrage were fined and imprisoned in 1646, and even in 1664 the only amendment was by permitting non-church-members to vote on a formal certificate to their orthodoxy from the minister. The government they aimed at was not democracy, but theocracy: "God never did ordain democracy as a fit government," said Cotton. Accordingly, when Cotton and Ward framed their first code, Ward's portion was rejected by the colony as heathen,—that is, based on Greek and Roman models, not Mosaic,—and Cotton's was afterwards rebuked in England as "fanatical and absurd." But the government finally established was an ecclesiastical despotism, tempered by theological controversy.

In Connecticut it was first the custom, and then the order, lasting as late as 1708, that "the ministers of the gospel should preach a sermon, on the day appointed by law for the choice of civil rulers, proper for the direction of the town in the work before them." They wrote state-papers, went on embassies, and took the lead at town-meetings. At the exciting gubernatorial election in 1637, Rev. John Wilson, minister of the First Church in Boston, not satisfied with "taking the stump" for his candidate, took to a full-grown tree and harangued the people from among the boughs. Perhaps the tree may have been the Great Elm which still ornaments the Common; but one sees no chips of that other old block among its branches now.

One would expect that the effect of this predominant clerical influence would have been to make the aim of the Puritan codes lofty, their consistency unflinching, their range narrow, and their penalties severe,—and it certainly was so. Looking at their educational provisions, they seem all noble; looking at their schedule of sins and retributions, one wonders how any rational being could endure them for a day. Communities, like individuals, furnish virtues piecemeal. Roger Williams, with all his wise toleration, bequeathed to Rhode Island no such system of schools as his persecutors framed for Massachusetts. But the children who were watched and trained thus carefully might be put to death, if they "cursed their orderly parents" after the age of sixteen;—not that the penalty ever was inflicted, but it was on the statute-book. Sabbath-breaking was placed on a level with murder,—though Calvin himself allowed the old men to play at bowls and the young men to practise military training, [pg 277] after afternoon service, at Geneva. Down to 1769 not even a funeral could take place on Sunday in Massachusetts, without license from a magistrate. Then the stocks and the wooden cage were in frequent use, though "barbarous and cruel" punishments were forbidden in 1641. Scolds and railers were set on a ducking-stool and dipped over head and ears three times, in running water, if possible. Mrs. Oliver, a troublesome theologian, was silenced with a cleft stick applied to her tongue. Thomas Scott, in 1649, was sentenced for some offence to learn "the chatachise," or be fined ten shillings, and, after due consideration, paid the fine. Sometimes offenders, with a refinement of cruelty, were obliged to "go and talk to the elders." And if any youth made matrimonial overtures to a young female without the consent of her parents, or, in their absence, of the County Court, he was first fined and then imprisoned. A new etymology for the word "courting."

An exhibition of this mingled influence was in the relation of the ministers to the Indian wars. Roger Williams, even when banished and powerless, could keep the peace with the natives. But when the brave Miantonimo was to be dealt with for suspected treason, and the civil authorities decided, that, though it was unsafe to set him at liberty, they yet had no ground to put him to death, the matter being finally referred to five "elders," Uncas was straightway authorized to slay him in cold blood. The Pequots were first defeated and then exterminated, and their heroic King Philip, a patriot according to his own standard, was hunted like a wild beast, his body quartered and set on poles, his head exposed as a trophy for twenty years on a gibbet in Plymouth, and one of his hands sent to Boston: then the ministers returned thanks, and one said that they had prayed the bullet into Philip's heart. Nay, it seems that in 1677, on a Sunday in Marblehead, "the women, as they came out of the meeting-house, fell upon two Indians, that had been brought in as captives, and in a tumultuous way very barbarously murdered them," in revenge for the death of some fishermen: a moral application which certainly gives a singular impression of the style of gospel prevailing inside the meeting-house that day. But it is good to know, on the other side, that, when the Commissioners of the United Colonies had declared an Indian war, and the Massachusetts Colony had become afterwards convinced that the war was unrighteous, the troops were recalled, though already far towards the field, and no pride or policy prevented the order from being rescinded.

These were some of the labors of the clergy. But no human being lives without relaxation, and they may have had theirs. True, "ministers have little to joy in in this world," wrote old Norton; and one would think so, to read the dismal diaries, printed or manuscript, of those days. "I can compare with any man living for fears," said Hooker. "I have sinned myself into darkness," said Bailey. "Many times have I been ready to lay down my ministry, thinking God had forsaken me." "I was almost in the suburbs of hell all day." Yet who can say that this habit of agonizing introspection wholly shut out the trivial enjoyments of daily life? Who drank, for instance, that twelve gallons of sack and that six gallons of white wine which the General Court thought it convenient that the Auditor should send, "as a small testimony of the Court's respect, to the reverend assembly of Elders at Cambridge," in 1644? Did the famous Cambridge Platform rest, like the earth in the Hebrew cosmology, upon the waters,—strong waters? Was it only the Derry Presbyterians who would never give up a p'int of doctrine, nor a pint of rum? It is startling to remember that in 1685 it was voted, on occasion of a public funeral, that "some person be appointed to look after the burning of the wine and the heating of the cider," and to hear that on this occasion there were thirty-two gallons of wine and still more of cider, with one hundred and four pounds of [pg 278] that ensnaring accessory, sugar. Francis Higginson, in writing back to the mother country that one sup of New England's air was better than a whole draught of Old England's ale, gave convincing proof that he had tasted both beverages. But, after all, the very relaxations of the Puritan minister were more spiritual than spirituous, and to send forth a good Nineteenthly from his own lips was more relishing than to have the best Double X go in.

In spite of the dignity of this influential class, they were called only Elders for a long time. Titles were carefully adjusted in those days. The commonalty bore the appellations of Goodman and Goodwife, and one of Roger William's offences was his wishing to limit these terms to those who gave some signs of deserving them. The name "Mr." was allowed to those who had taken the degree of Master of Arts at College, and also to professional men, eminent merchants, military officers, and mates of vessels, and their wives and daughters monopolized the epithet "Mrs." Mr. Josiah Plastow, when he had stolen four baskets of corn from the Indians, was degraded into plain Josiah. "Mr." seems to have meant simply "My Sir," and the clergy were often called "Sir" merely, a title given also to college graduates, on Commencement programmes, down to the time of the Revolution. And so strong was the Puritan dislike to the idolatry of saints' names, that the Christian Apostles were sometimes designated as Sir Paul, Sir Peter, and Sir James.

In coming to the private affairs of the Puritan divines, it is humiliating to find that anxieties about salary are of no modern origin. The highest compensation I can find recorded is that of John Higginson in 1671, who had £160 voted him "in country produce," which he was glad, however, to exchange for £120 in solid cash. Solid cash included beaver-skins, black and white wampum, beads, and musket-balls, value one farthing. Mr. Woodbridge in Newbury at this same time had £60, and Mr. Epes preached in Salem for twenty shillings a Sunday, half in money and half in provisions. Holy Mr. Cotton used to say that nothing was cheap in New England but milk and ministers. Down to 1700, Increase Mather says, most salaries were less than £100, which he thinks "might account for the scanty harvests enjoyed by our farmers." He and his son Cotton both tell the story of a town where "two very eminent ministers were only allowed £30 per annum" and "the God who will not be mocked made them lose £300 worth of cattle that year." The latter also complains that the people were very willing to consider the ministers the stars, rather than the mere lamps, of the churches, provided they, like the stars, would shine without earthly contributions.

He also calls the terms of payment, in one of his long words, "Synecdotical Pay,"—in allusion to that rhetorical figure by which a part is used for the whole. And apparently various causes might produce this Synecdoche. For I have seen an anonymous "Plea for Ministers of the Gospel," in 1706, which complains that "young ministers have often occasion in their preaching to speak things offensive to some of the wealthiest people in town, on which occasion they may withhold a considerable part of their maintenance." It is a comfort to think how entirely this source of discomfort, at least, is now eradicated from the path of the clergy; and it is painful to think that there ever was a period when wealthy parishioners did not enjoy the delineation of their own sins.

However, the ministerial households contrived to subsist, in spite of rhetorical tropes and malecontent millionnaires. The Puritan divine could commonly afford not only to keep house, but to keep horse likewise, and to enjoy the pet professional felicity of printing his own sermons. As to the last privilege there could have been no great trouble, for booksellers were growing rich in New England as early as 1677,—not that it is always an inevitable inference that authors are,—and Cotton Mather published [pg 279] three hundred and eighty-two different works for his own share. Books were abundant enough at that day, though somewhat grim and dingy, and two complete Puritan libraries are preserved in the rich collection of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester,—without whose treasures, let me add, this modest monograph never could have been written. As for the minister's horse, the moral sentiment of the community protected him faithfully; for a man was fined in Newbury for "killing our elder's mare, and a special good beast she was." The minister's house was built by the town; in Salem it was "13 feet stud, 23 by 42, four chimnies and no gable-ends,"—so that the House with Seven Gables belonged to somebody else;—and the Selectmen ordered all men to appear with teams on a certain day and put the minister's grounds in order.

Inside the parsonage-house, however, there was sometimes trouble. Rev. Ezekiel Rogers wrote in 1657 to his brother in England,—"Much ado I have with my own family; hard to get a servant who enjoys catechising or family duties. I had a rare blessing of servants in England, and those I brought over were a blessing; but the young brood doth much afflict me." Probably the minister's wife had the worst of this; but she seems to have been generally, like the modern minister's wife, a saint, and could bear it. Cotton Mather, indeed, quotes triumphantly the Jewish phrase for a model female,—"one who deserved to marry a priest"; and one of the most singular passages in the history of the human heart is the old gentleman's own narrative, in his manuscript diary, of a passionate love-adventure, in his later years, with a fascinating young girl, an "ingenious child," as he calls her, whom his parish thought by no means a model female, but from whom it took three days of solitary fasting and prayer to wean him at last.

He was not the only Puritan minister who bestowed his heart somewhat strangely. Rev. John Mitchell, who succeeded the soul-ravishing Shepard at Cambridge, as aforesaid, married his predecessor's widow "on the general recommendation of her," and the college students were greatly delighted, as one might imagine. Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, in 1691, wooed the Widow Avery in a written discourse, which I have seen in manuscript, arranged under twelve different heads,—one of which treats of the prospect of his valuable life being preserved longer by her care. She having children of her own, he offers mysteriously to put some of his own children "out of the way," if necessary,—a hint which becomes formidable when one remembers that he was the author of that once famous theological poem, "The Day of Doom," in which he relentingly assigned to infants, because they had sinned only in Adam, "the easiest room in hell." But he wedded the lady, and they were apparently as happy as if he had not been a theologian; and I have seen the quaint little heart-shaped locket he gave her, bearing an anchor and a winged heart and "Thine forever."

Let us glance now at some of the larger crosses of the Puritan minister. First came a "young brood" of heretics to torment him. Gorton's followers were exasperating enough; they had to be confined in irons separately, one in each town, on pain of death, if they preached their doctrines,—and of course they preached them. But their offences and penalties were light, compared with those of the Quakers. When the Quakers assembled by themselves, their private doors might be broken open,—a thing which Lord Chatham said the king of England could not do to any one,—they might be arrested without warrant, tried without jury, for the first offence be fined, for the second lose one ear, for the third lose the other ear, and for the fourth be bored with red-hot iron through the tongue,—though this last penalty remained a dead letter. They could be stripped to the waist, tied to a cart, and whipped through town after town,—three women were whipped through eleven towns, eighty miles,—but afterwards the number [pg 280] was limited to three. Their testimony was invalid, their families attainted, and those who harbored them were fined forty shillings an hour. They might be turned out shelterless among wolves and bears and frosts: they could be branded H for Heretic, and R for Rogue; they could be sold as slaves; and their graves must not be fenced to keep off wild beasts, lest their poor afflicted bodies should find rest there.

Yet in this same age female Quakers had gone as missionaries to Malta and to Turkey and returned unharmed. No doubt the monks and the Sultan must have looked on the plain dress much as some clerical gentlemen have since regarded the Bloomer costume,—and the Inquisition imprisoned the missionaries, though the Sultan did not. But meanwhile the Quaker women in New England might be walking to execution with their male companions,—like Mary Dyer in Boston,—under an armed guard of two hundred, led on by a minister seventy years old, and the fiercer for every year. When they asked Mary Dyer, "Are you not ashamed to walk thus hand in hand between two young men?" she answered, "No, this is to me an hour of the greatest joy I could enjoy in this world. No tongue could utter and no heart understand the sweet influence of the Spirit which now I feel." Then they placed her on the scaffold, and covered her face with a handkerchief which the Reverend Mr. Wilson lent the hangman; and when they heard that she was reprieved, she would not come down, saying that she would suffer with her brethren. And suffer death she did, at last, and the Reverend Mr. Wilson made a pious ballad on her execution.

It is no wonder, if some persons declare that about this time the wheat of Massachusetts began to be generally blasted, and the peas to grow wormy. It is no wonder, that, when the witchcraft excitement came on, the Quakers called it a retribution for these things. But let us be just, even to the unjust. Toleration was a new-born virtue in those days, and one which no Puritan ever for a moment recognized as such, or asked to have exercised toward himself. In England they did not wish to be tolerated for a day as sectaries, they claimed to have authority as the one true church. They held with Pym, that "it is the duty of legislators to establish the true religion and to punish false,"—a doctrine equally fatal, whether applied to enforce the right theology or the wrong. They objected to the Church of England, not that it persecuted, but that its persecution was wrongly aimed. It is, therefore, equally absurd to praise them for a toleration they never professed, or to accuse them of any inconsistency when they practised intolerance. They have been so loosely praised, that they are as loosely blamed. What was great in them was their heroism of soul, not their largeness. They sought the American wilderness not to indulge the whims of others, but their own. They said to the Quakers, "We seek not your death, but your absence." All their persecution, after all, was an alternative sentence; all they asked of the Quakers was to keep out of their settlements and let them alone. Moreover, their worst penalties were borrowed from the English laws, and only four offenders were put to death from the beginning;—of course, four too many.

Again, it is to be remembered that the Quaker peculiarities were not theological only, but political and social also. Everything that the Puritan system of government asserted the Quakers denied; they rendered no allegiance, owned no laws, paid no taxes, bore no arms. With the best possible intentions, they subverted all established order. Then their modes of action were very often intemperate and violent. One can hardly approve the condemnation pronounced by Cotton Mather upon a certain Rarey among the Friends in those days, who could control a mad bull that would rend any other man. But it was oftener the Quakers who needed the Rareys. Running naked through the public streets,—coming into meeting dressed in sackcloth, with ashes [pg 281] on their heads and nothing on their feet,—or sitting there with their hats on, groaning and rocking to and fro, in spite of elders, deacons, and tithing-men: these were the vagaries of the zealots, though always repudiated by the main body. The Puritans found themselves reproached with permitting these things, and so took refuge in outrageous persecutions, which doubled them. Indeed, the Quakers themselves began to persecute, on no greater provocation, in Philadelphia, thirty years afterwards,—playing over again upon George Keith and his followers the same deluded policy of fines and imprisonment from which they had just escaped;—as minorities have persecuted sub-minorities ever since intolerance began.

Indeed, so far as mere language went, the minority always watched the majority. Grave divines did not like to be pelted with such epithets as these: "Thou fiery fighter and green-headed trumpeter! thou hedgehog and grinning dog! thou mole! thou tinker! thou lizard! thou bell of no metal but the tone of a kettle! thou wheelbarrow! thou whirlpool! thou whirligig! thou firebrand! thou moon-calf! thou ragged tatterdemalion! thou gormandizing priest! thou bane of reason and beast of the earth! thou best to be spared of all mankind!"—all of which are genuine epithets from the Quaker books of that period, and termed by Cotton Mather, who collected them, "quills of the porcupine." They surpass even Dr. Chauncy's catalogue of the unsavory epithets used by Whitefield and Tennent a century later; and it was not likely that they would be tolerated by a race whose reverence for men in authority was so comprehensive that they actually fined some one for remarking that Major Phillips's old mare was as lean as an Indian's dog.

There is a quaint anecdote preserved, showing the continuance of the Quaker feud in full vigor as lately as 1705. A youth among the Friends wished to espouse a fair Puritan maiden; but the Quakers disapproved his marrying out of their society, and the Congregationalists his marrying into theirs; so in despair he thus addressed her:—"Ruth, let us break from this unreasonable bondage. I will give up my religion, and thou shalt give up thine; and we will marry and go into the Church of England, and go to the Devil together." And they fulfilled the resolution, the Puritan historian says, so far as going into the Church, and marrying, and staying there for life. But probably the ministers thought it to be another case of synecdoche.

With the same careful discrimination we must try to study the astonishing part played by the ministers in the witchcraft delusions. It must be remembered that the belief in this visitation was no new or peculiar thing in New England. The Church, the Scriptures, the mediæval laws, had all made it a capital crime. There had been laws against it in England for a hundred years. Bishop Jewel had complained to Queen Elizabeth of the alarming increase of witches and sorcerers. Sir Thomas Browne had pronounced it flat atheism to doubt them. High legal and judicial authorities, as Dalton, Keeble, Sir Matthew Hale, had described this crime as definitely and seriously as any other. In Scotland four thousand had suffered death for it in ten years; Cologne, Nuremberg, Geneva, Paris, were executing hundreds every year; even in 1749 a girl was burnt alive in Würtzburg; and is it strange, if, during all that wild excitement, Massachusetts put to death twenty? The only wonder is in the independence of the Rhode Island people, who declared that "there were no witches on the earth, nor devils,—except" (as they profanely added) "the New-England ministers, and such as they."

John Higginson sums it up best:—"They proceeded in their integrity with a zeal of God against sin, according to their best light and law and evidence." "But there is a question," he wisely adds, "whether some of the laws, customs, and privileges used by judges and juries in England, which were followed as patterns [pg 282] here, were not insufficient." Cotton Mather also declared that he observed in judges and juries a conscientious endeavor to do the thing which was right, and gives a long list of the legal authorities whom they consulted; observing, finally, that the fact of fifty confessions was, after all, the one irresistible vindication of their strong measures.

It must have been so. Common sense and humanity might have refuted every other evidence than that of the victims themselves. But what were the authorities to do, when, in addition to all legal and Scriptural precedents, the prisoners insisted on entering a plea of guilty? When Goody E—— testified that she and two others rode from Andover to a witch-meeting on a broomstick, and the stick broke and she fell and was still lame from it,—when her daughter testified that she rode on the same stick, and confirmed all the details of the casualty,—when the grand-daughter confirmed them also, and added, that she rode on another stick, and they all signed Satan's book together,—when W. B——, aged forty, testified that Satan assembled a hundred fine blades near Salem Meeting-House, and the trumpet sounded, and bread and wine were carried round, and Satan was like a black sheep, and wished them to destroy the minister's house, (by thunder probably,) and set up his kingdom, and "then all would be well,"—when one woman summoned her three children and some neighbors and a sister and a domestic, who all testified that she was a witch and so were they all,—what could be done for such prisoners by judge or jury, in an age which held witchcraft a certainty? It was only the rapid rate of increase which finally stopped the convictions.

One thing is certain, that this strange delusion, a semi-comedy to us,—though part of the phenomena may find their solution in laws not yet unfolded,—was the sternest of tragedies to those who lived in it. Conceive, for an instant, of believing in the visible presence and labors of the arch-fiend in a peaceful community. Yet from the bottom of their souls these strong men held to it, and they waged a hand-to-hand fight with Satan all their days. Very inconveniently the opponent sometimes dealt his blows, withal. Surely it could not be a pleasant thing to a sound divine, just launched upon his seventeen-headed discourse, to have a girl with wild eyes and her hair about her ears start up and exclaim, "Parson, your text is too long,"—or worse yet, "Parson, your sermon is too long,"—or most embarrassing of all, "There's a great yellow bird sitting on the parson's hat in the pulpit." But these formidable interruptions veritably happened, and received the stern discipline in such cases made and provided.

But beside Quakers and witches, the ministers had other female tormentors to deal with. There was the perpetual anxiety of the unregenerated toilet. "Immodest apparel, laying out of hair, borders, naked necks and arms, or, as it were, pinioned with superfluous ribbons,"—these were the things which tried men's souls in those days, and the statute-books and private journals are full of such plaintive inventories of the implements of sin. Things known as "slash apparel" seem to have been an infinite source of anxiety; there must be only one slash on each sleeve and one in the back. Men also must be prohibited from shoulderbands of undue width, double ruffs and cuffs, and "immoderate great breeches." Part of the solicitude was for modesty, part for gravity, part for economy: none must dress above their condition. In 1652, three men and a woman were fined ten shillings each and costs for wearing silver-lace, another for broad bone-lace, another for tiffany, and another for a silk hood. Alice Flynt was accused of a silk hood, but, proving herself worth more than two hundred pounds, escaped unpunished. Jonas Fairbanks, about the same time, was charged with "great boots," and the evidence went hard against him; but he was fortunately acquitted, and the credit of the family saved.

The question of veils seems to have [pg 283] rocked the Massachusetts Colony to its foundations, and was fully discussed at Thursday Lecture, March 7th, 1634. Holy Mr. Cotton was utterly and unalterably opposed to veils, regarding them as a token of submission to husbands in an unscriptural degree. It is pleasant to think that there could be an unscriptural extent of such submission, in those times. But Governor Endicott and Rev. Mr. Williams resisted stoutly, quoting Paul, as usual in such cases; so Paul, veils, and vanity carried the day. But afterward Mr. Cotton came to Salem to preach for Mr. Skelton, and did not miss his chance to put in his solemn protest against veils; he said they were a custom not to be tolerated; and so the ladies all came to meeting without their veils in the afternoon. Probably the most astounding visible result from a single sermon within the memory of man.

Beginning with the veils, the eye of authority was next turned on what was under them. In 1675 it was decided, that, as the Indians had done much harm of late, and the Deity was evidently displeased with something, the General Court should publish a list of the evils of the time. And among the twelve items of contrition stood this: "Long hair like women's hair is worn by some men, either their own or others' hair made into periwigs;—and by some women wearing borders of hair, and their cutting, curling, and immodest laying out of their hair," (does this hint at puff-combs?) "which practice doth increase, especially among the younger sort." Not much was effected, however,—"divers of the elders' wives," as Winthrop lets out, "being in some measure partners in this disorder." The use of wigs also, at first denounced by the clergy, was at last countenanced by them: in portraits later than 1700 they usually replace the black skull-cap of earlier pictures, and in 1752 the tables had so far turned that a church-member in Newbury refused communion because "the pastor wears a wigg." Yet Increase Mather thought they played no small part in producing the Boston Fire. "Monstrous Periwigs, such as some of our church-members indulge in, which make them resemble the Locusts that came out of y^e Bottomless Pit. Rev. ix. 7, 8,—and as an eminent Divine calls them, Horrid Bushes of Vanity; such strange apparel as is contrary to the light of Nature and to express Scripture. 1 Cor. xi. 14, 15. Such pride is enough to provoke the Lord to kindle fires in all the towns in the country."

Another vexation was the occasional arrival of false prophets in a community where every man was expected to have a current supply of religious experiences always ready for circulation. There was a certain hypocritical Dick Swayn, for instance, a seafaring man, who gave much trouble; and E.F.,—for they mostly appear by initials,—who, coming to New Haven one Saturday evening, and being dressed in black, was taken for a minister, and asked to preach: he was apparently a little insane, and at first talked "demurely," but at last "railed like Rabshakeh," Cotton Mather says. There was also M.J., a Welsh tanner, who finally stole his employer's leather breeches and set up for a preacher,—less innocently apparelled than George Fox. But the worst of all was one bearing the since sainted name of Samuel May. This vessel of wrath appeared in 1699, indorsed as a man of a sweet gospel spirit,—though, indeed, one of his indorsers had himself been "a scandalous fire-ship among the churches." Mather declares that every one went a-Maying after this man, whom he maintains to have been a barber previously, and who knew no Latin, Greek, Hebrew, nor even English,—for (as he indignantly asserts) "there were eighteen horrid false spells, and not one point, in one very short note I received from him." This doubtful personage copied his sermons from a volume by his namesake, Dr. Samuel Bolton,—"Sam the Doctor and Sam the Dunce," Mather calls them. Finally, "this eminent worthy stranger," Sam, who was no dunce, after all, quarrelled [pg 284] with his parish for their slow payments, and "flew out like a Dragon, spitting this among other fire at them:—'I see, no longer pipe, no longer dance,'—so that they came to fear he was a cheat, and wish they had never seen him." Then "the guilty fellow, having bubbled the silly neighbors of an incredible number of pounds, on a sudden was gone," and Cotton Mather sent a letter after him, which he declares to have been the worst penalty the man suffered.

It is safer to say little of the theological scheme of the Puritan ministers, lest the present writer be pronounced a Wanton Gospeller, and have no tithingman to take his part. But however it may be with the regular standards of theology of that period, every one could find a sufficient variety to suit him among its heresies. Eighty-two "pestilent heresies" were counted as having already sprung up in 1637; others say one hundred and six; others, two hundred and ten. The Puritans kept Rhode Island for what housekeepers call an "odd drawer," into which to crowd all these eccentricities. It was said, that, if any man happened to lose his religious opinion, he might be sure to find it again at some village in Rhode Island. Thither went Roger Williams and his Baptists; thither went Quakers and Ranters; thither went Ann Hutchinson, that extraordinary woman, who divided the whole politics of the country by her Antinomian doctrines, denouncing the formalisms around her, and converting the strongest men, like Cotton and Vane, to her opinions. Thither went also Samuel Gorton, a man of no ordinary power, who proclaimed a mystical union with God in love, thought that heaven and hell were in the mind alone, but esteemed little the clergy and the ordinances. The colony was protected also by the thoughtful and chivalrous Vane, who held that water baptism had had its day, and that the Jewish Sabbath should give place to the modern Sunday. All these, and such as these, were called generally "Seekers" by the Puritans,—who claimed for themselves that they had found that which they sought. It is the old distinction; but for which is the ship built, to be afloat or to be at anchor?

Such were those pious worthies, the men whose names are identified with the leadership of the New-England colonies,—Cotton, Hooker, Norton, Shepard, the Higginsons, the Mathers. To these might be added many an obscurer name, preserved in the quaint epitaphs of the "Magnalia":—Blackman, "in spite of his name, a Nazarene whiter than snow";—Partridge, "a hunted partridge," yet "both a dove and an eagle";—Ezekiel Rogers, "a tree of knowledge, whose apples the very children might pluck";—Nathaniel Rogers, "a very lively preacher and a very preaching liver, he loved his church as if it had been his family and he taught his family as if it had been his church";—Warham, the first who preached with notes, and who suffered agonies of doubt respecting the Lord's Supper;—Stone, "both a loadstone and a flint stone," and who set the self-sacrificing example of preaching only one hour.

These men had mingled traits of good and evil, like all mankind,—nobler than their descendants in some attributes, less noble in others. The most strait-laced Massachusetts Calvinist of these days would have been disciplined by them for insufferable laxity, and yet their modern successor would count it utter shame, perhaps, to own a slave in his family or to drink rum-punch at an ordination,—which Puritan divines might do without rebuke. Not one of them has left on record a statement so broad and noble as that of Roger Williams:—"To be content with food and raiment,—to mind, not our own, but every man the things of another,—yea, and to suffer wrong, and to part with what we judge to be right, yea, our own lives, and, as poor women martyrs have said, as many as there be hairs upon our heads, for the name of God and for the Son of God's sake,—this is humanity, this is Christianity; the [pg 285] rest is but formality and picture-courteous idolatry, and Jewish and Popish blasphemy against the Christian religion." And yet the mind of Roger Williams was impulsive, erratic, and unstable, compared with theirs; and in what respect has the work they left behind them proved, after the testing of two centuries, less solid or durable than his?

These men were stern even to cruelty against all that they held evil,—Satan and his supposed emissaries, witches, Quakers, Indians, negligent parishioners, disobedient offspring, men with periwigs, and women in slash apparel. Yet the tenderest private gentleness often lay behind this gloomy rigor of the conscience. Some of them would never chastise a son or daughter, in spite of Solomon; others would write in Greek characters in their old almanacs quaint little English verses on the death of some beloved child. That identical "Priest Wilson" who made the ballad at Mary Dyer's execution attended a military muster one day. "Sir," said some one, "I'll tell you a great thing: here's a mighty body of people, and there's not seven of them all but loves Mr. Wilson." "Sir," it was replied, "I'll tell you as good a thing: here's a mighty body of people, and there's not one of them all but Mr. Wilson loves him." Mr. Cotton was a terror to evil-doers, yet, when a company of men came along from a tavern and said, "Let us put a trick upon Old Cotton," and one came and cried in his ear, "Cotton, thou art an old fool,"—"I know it, I know it," retorted cheerily the venerable man, and pungently added, "The Lord make both me and thee wiser!" Mr. Hooker was once reproving a boy in the street, who boldly replied, "I see you are in a passion; I will not answer you," and so ran away. It contradicts all one's notions of Puritan propriety, and yet it seems that the good man, finding afterwards that the boy was not really guilty, sent for him to apologize, and owned himself to have been wrong.

What need to speak of the strength and courage, the disinterestedness and zeal, with which they bore up the fortunes of the colony on their shoulders, and put that iron into the New-England blood which has since supplied the tonic for a continent? It was said of Mr. Hooker, that he was "a person who, while doing his Master's work, would put a king in his pocket"; and it was so with them all: they would pocket anything but a bribe to themselves or an insult to God or their profession. They flinched from no reproof that was needed: "Sharp rebukes make sound Christians" was a proverb among them. They sometimes lost their tempers, and sometimes their parishes, but never their independence. I find a hundred anecdotes of conscientious cruelty laid up against them, but not one of cowardice or of compromise. They may have bored the tongues of others with a bar of iron, but they never fettered their own tongues with a bar of gold,—as some African tribes think it a saintly thing to do, and not African tribes alone.

There was such an absolute righteousness among them, that to this day every man of New-England descent lives partly on the fund of virtuous habit they accumulated. And, on the other hand, every man of the many who still stand ready to indorse everything signed by a D.D.—without even adding the commercial E.E., for Errors Excepted—is in part the victim of the over-influence they obtained. Yet there was a kind of democracy in that vast influence also: the Puritans were far more thorough Congregationalists than their successors; they recognized no separate clerical class, and the "elder" was only the highest officer of his own church. Each religious society could choose and ordain its own minister, or dispense with all ordaining services at will, without the slightest aid or hindrance from council or consociation. So the stern theology of the pulpit only reflected the stern theology of the pews; the minister was but the representative man. If the ministers were [pg 286] recognized as spiritual guides, it was because they were such to the men of their time, whatever they might be to ours. Demonax of old, when asked about the priests' money, said, that, if they were really the leaders of the people, they could not have too much payment,—or too little, if they were not. I believe that on these conditions the Puritan ministers well earned their hundred and sixty pounds a year, with a discount of forty pounds, if paid in wampum-beads, beaver-skins, and musket-balls. What they took in musket-balls they paid back in the heavier ammunition of moral truth. Here is a specimen of their grape-shot:—"My fathers and brethren," said John Higginson, "this is never to be forgotten, that our New England is originally a plantation of religion, and not a plantation of trade. Let merchants and such as are making cent. per cent. remember this. Let others who have come over since at sundry times remember this, that worldly gain was not the end and design of the people of New England, but religion. And if any man among us make religion as twelve and the world as thirteen, let such a man know he hath neither the spirit of a true New-England man, nor yet of a sincere Christian."


We, sighing, said, "Our Pan is dead;
  His pipe hands mute beside the river;—
  Around it wistful sunbeams quiver,
But Music's airy voice is fled.
Spring mourns as for untimely frost;
  The bluebird chants a requiem;
  The willow-blossom waits for him;—
The Genius of the wood is lost."
Then from the flute, untouched by hands,
  There came a low, harmonious breath:
  "For such as he there is no death;—
His life the eternal life commands;
Above man's aims his nature rose:
  The wisdom of a just content
  Made one small spot a continent,
And tuned to poetry Life's prose.
"Haunting the hills, the stream, the wild,
  Swallow and aster, lake and pine,
  To him grew human or divine,—
Fit mates for this large-hearted child.
Such homage Nature ne'er forgets,
  And yearly on the coverlid
  'Neath which her darling lieth hid
Will write his name in violets.
[pg 287]
"To him no vain regrets belong,
  Whose soul, that finer instrument,
  Gave to the world no poor lament,
But wood-notes ever sweet and strong.
O lonely friend! he still will be
  A potent presence, though unseen,—
  Steadfast, sagacious, and serene:
Seek not for him,—he is with thee."


The circumstances of a first meeting so color long years of acquaintanceship, that, should these circumstances be comic in their nature, the intercourse which follows partakes much of the grotesque. Thus, perhaps, it is, that the misfortunes of Edward Martin, apart from the whimsical demeanor of the man himself, provoke in my memory a smile rather than a sigh.

Some years ago, journeying on foot through Northern Connecticut, it became necessary for me to stop overnight at the quiet inn of Deacon S——.

Sharon I had visited, fair as Berkshire, but less an old story; I had lingered about the twin lakes of Salisbury; I had carried away many sweet memories of Warramaug and its mountain; and I now found myself in the neighborhood of Gramley Bridge, eager for fresh water, clean towels, and the plenty of a country tea-table,—not averse to strawberry short-cake, or the snowy delights of cottage-cheese.

It was rapidly growing dark, when, as I hurried on toward my cheerful welcome, a bend in the road brought me in sight of a figure that filled me with curiosity and amazement.

"Was it a man?
A devil infernal?
An angel supernal?"

Was it were-wolf spectral, or bear aboriginal? It lived and moved, and, as I cautiously neared the spot, I seemed to recognize a human being in the singular form,—stooping, squatting, and groping before me.

The man, for such it proved, was performing most wondrous gymnastics upon the ground,—smelling here, smelling there, too agile to be tipsy, too silent to be mad. I had no desire to be alone in a lonely road at nightfall with a maniac, and I was not sorry when my nearer approach resolved these strange phenomena into a well-dressed pedestrian on all-fours in the middle of a dusty highway.

He rose as I approached, and I smiled to see that the spectacles astride his handsome nose were minus one lens. He seemed half blind and wholly bewildered. I looked at once for the lost glass, and there it lay shining at me from the very spot where he had been so industriously peering. He laughed grimly as I handed it to him, fitted his treasure into its wonted rim, took out his watch, and with a low chuckle said,—

"Twenty-five minutes is a long time to search for a bit of such small circumference. Thank you. Do you go to the Deacon's?"


"So do I."

We walked on together in silence, till we reached our journey's end,—I too tired, he too reserved, too preoccupied, or too shy, to speak again; but when, at last, we were seated with our cigars on the Deacon's door-step, he turned suddenly to me and asked,—

[pg 288]

"Are you fond of the country?"

"Why, yes! What else is there?" I answered, laughing.

"Ah, you are an artist!"

"I hope to be one."

"Its a bad business," said he, testily,—"a very bad business. If I were you, I would give it up."

"Have you ever tried it?"

"Tried it?" he ejaculated, kicking the gravel-walk,—"yes, and everything else, I believe. If I thought it would do you any good, I would give you the benefit of my experience; but you'd only laugh, and make a good story of it to your wife."

"Alas! I have no such incumbrance."

"The worse for you, if you have genius and the modesty of genius. A true artist, who seeks to interpret Nature in its purest and most exquisite relations, who penetrates the deepest temples of the woods and the silent sanctuaries of the mountains, must be a true, pure, and good man. He must be a happy man,—happy in a sweet and natural way. A man whose life is passed in a daily delight that gently stirs without feverish excitement will be tender and most lovely to women. He ought to marry."

"Did you ever write poetry?" I asked.

"I began to compose when I was six years old. I wrote a poem on the sea, commencing,—

'O thou earthly sea,
Every person thinks of thee,—
The sailor, and the busy bee,
And the Chinese drinking tea!'

I thought it very fine. I have written many things since then, and they seemed good to me at the time. I would not venture to say how they struck others."

He smiled pleasantly.

"Do not be frightened by the shadow of a possible wife from unfolding your history," said I. "Chance has thrown us together; befriend me with your experience."

"Take warning, then, if need be.

"In college I was thought 'a very able fellow,' one 'who held the pen of a ready writer'; and I graduated as vain of my supposed talents as a young miss of her first conquest.

"My earliest literary essay was in a new magazine, which, as it was just rising into notice, would be, I imagined, greatly assisted by my condescension. It was a charity, indeed, to give my support to this fledgling, and I sent to it a long article, entitled, 'The Cultivated, as Moving and Educational Powers.' My manuscripts were returned, with this quiet bit of advice:—'Before "X.Y.Z." institutes any other reforms, we would advise him to reperuse his English Grammar.' Far from having a salutary effect, this rebuff only rankled in my soul. I determined to revenge myself on the paltry malignant who dared to despise my efforts. I therefore wrote a slashing criticism for one of the evening papers, demolishing (as I thought) the delinquent periodical, and denouncing its whole corps of writers as frivolous and almost illiterate. My satire was returned, being too personal for publication.

"Just at this time I chanced to fall in love with Miss Ellen Wilson, now Mrs. Martin. Fancying my passion unrequited, I poured forth my feelings in ten melancholy stanzas, beginning,—

'Oh! what avails it, if the spring be bright?'

These verses were very morbid and dreary, but they were published in the 'Tri-Weekly Tribune,' and 'Hope revived again.'

"The drama I next deemed worthy of my attention, and wrote a play, the plot of which I thought quite new and original. A large fortune is left to my hero, who forthwith becomes enamored of a fair damsel; but, fearful lest the beloved object should worship his money more than his merits, he disguises himself in a wig and blue spectacles, becomes tutor to her brother, and wins her affections while playing pedagogue. On her acknowledging her attachment, he flings his disguises into the sea, and, in the wildness of his joy at being adored for his profundity in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, German, Mathematics, [pg 289] Natural Science, and Civil Engineering, folds his loved one in his arms, and springs into the surf, where both are drowned.

"This, you see, was quite new."

"Quite," I replied, laughing.

"I published it at my own expense, and I must say I have yet to receive the first remittance for this truly original work.

"During the next season, I met with Hans Andersen's inimitable 'Märchen,' and, immediately setting myself to work, I wrote 'Uncle Job's Legacies,' a series of children's tales, full, as I fondly fancied, of poetry, pleasantry, and information. I sent them to 'The Juvenile Weekly,' then published in the city. They were accepted with a profusion of thanks; and in a few days I called, by request, at the office, expecting large compensation for services so eagerly received.

"I went up a dirty staircase, into a mean, slovenly back-office, where a small, uncleanly man sat tipped back in his chair, picking his teeth. He seemed the personification of nonchalance, impudence, and conceit. As I entered, he looked up with a lazy insolence, which, had I been a woman, would have brought a hot flush of indignation to my face, and, on my mentioning my name, he rose and extended a very dirty hand.

"'Glad to see you, Sir,—hope you'll continue your contributions,—Uncle Job,—good idea, Sir,—love the little ones? So do we, Sir,—work very hard for them,—don't pay at all,—poor business,—pure charity,—that's all.'

"'But you don't mean to say,' I exclaimed, 'that your contributors are expected to work from charity?'

"'Glad to pay them, if we could, but we can't afford it,—more contributions than we can use,—best authors in the country write for us,—pure love for the little ones, I assure you.'

"'Will you give me my manuscripts?' I said. 'I do not vouchsafe to bestow my time and thoughts for nothing. If you do not pay, I can offer them to others who do.'

"'You won't find a child's paper in the United States that pays,' he growled. 'We don't care for contributions. Me and my partner writes most of the articles ourselves.'

"'Will you give me my manuscripts?' I said again, anxious to put an end to the interview, and disgusted with the fellow's falsehood.

"'Hallo! Mortimer, do you know where them are?'

"'Sorry I can't oblige you,' said a fat man, dirtier and greasier than the first, emerging from an inner den; 'they're gone to press.'

"'If you tell me any more lies,' cried I, becoming furious, 'I shall take measures that you will not at all relish. If you will not give me my manuscripts, I shall take them'; and, suiting the action to the word, I snatched them from a shelf, where they lay conspicuous, and carried them off without further parley.

"This cured me for a while of all literary ambition. But the unquiet spirit within me would not rest, and during the following summer I wrote a sentimental tale, full of aspirations, large adjectives, and soft epithets. It was accepted by a well-known monthly, then supposed to be in the height of its prosperity. This was a grain of comfort, and I looked forward confidently to a long future of remuneration and renown, when a letter of regret arrived from the fair editress, returning my story, and explaining, that, being unable to meet her engagements, the magazine had been sold to pay her debts.

"This was bad; but my story was my own, and I accordingly despatched it to 'The Salmagundian,' a periodical of the highest reputation. There it was published, praised, and further contributions requested. Several weeks passed away. I indited a poem, entitled, 'Past and Future, or, Golden and Leaden Hours.' This also appeared in print, and my thirst for fame was beginning to be satisfied, when a polite note reached me from 'The Salmagundian' office, begging for another tale, and offering to pay [pg 290] me in back numbers of the magazine. I wrote no more."

"Art beguiled you then, perhaps?"

"Alas, yes, the siren! I had taken lessons from a very clever colorist, and was thoroughly imbued with his enthusiasm. 'I, too, am a painter,' I took for my motto; and, hiring a small studio in —— Street, I bought a large canvas, on which I sketched out a picture which cost me much money, more time, and many anxious thoughts.

"It represented the interior of a church, at the dim end of which a marriage was being solemnized. In the foreground, a group of ten people, in anomalous costumes, was gathered round a youth supposed to be a rejected and despairing lover, who had fallen on the ground in a swoon. It was very affecting, I thought.—it would be very effective. Were she to see it, she would be stung with remorse,—she would behold the probable effects of her present indifference,—she would relent.

"No one knew of my painting. I would keep it a profound secret, till it was a complete and glorious success. So I worked on in my quiet studio, draping before a cheval-glass for my women, attitudinizing and agonizing for my men, until the last touches were on, the varnish dry, and it was all ready for the Spring Exhibition. Then came doubts and speculations. Would it be accepted? Was it good, after all? Would Ellen like it? How would it seem among so many others? Should I take her to look at it? Should I tell her it was mine? Who would buy it?

"I had hired my studio under an assumed name, and under an assumed name sent my picture to the Academy. Now, when I went to see it, I found it, by some strange chance, hung next to a beautiful portrait by Huntington. The juxtaposition gave me a new idea. I saw at once what a villanous daub mine was, and went away oppressed with shame and a new-found modesty. Some time after this I strolled again into the Exhibition, in the hope of finding Miss Wilson; as I entered the vestibule, I met her coming out.

"'Oh, Mr. Martin!' she exclaimed, 'I am just going away, but I must turn back, and show you the funniest picture! So theatrical! So distorted!'

"'Does it hang next to a lady in a purple shawl, by Huntington?'

"'Yes. Of course I might have known you would appreciate it, you are such a good critic of pictures. Isn't it the very worst specimen of art you ever saw?'

"Can you imagine my feelings?"

"I think I can."

"This was not all, however. That afternoon I went to my now forsaken studio, previous to taking my departure from it forever. I was carefully packing my materials, when I heard a knock at the door. I opened it, and an elderly, shrewd-looking man walked into the room.

"'Are you T. Markham Worthington?' he asked.

"'I am a friend of his.'

"'Authorized to sell his picture in the Academy, Number ——?'


"'How much does he ask for it?'

"'How much are you willing to give?'

"'Not more than twenty-five dollars,'

"'That will do. Where shall it be sent?'

"He paid the money, wrote the address, and, bowing, left the studio. Twenty-five dollars just paid for the frame. Who had bought my picture? I looked at the card:—


'Yankee Pie Depot,

'126 —— Street.'"

"Did you ever paint again?"

"Once only. I made a portrait of my sister-in-law, and sent it to her in a gorgeous frame. I happened to go into her sitting-room, one morning, when she was out, and found my picture hanging with its face to the wall. I turned it round. Directly across the mouth was pasted a white label, on which I saw neatly [pg 291] printed in India-ink,—'Queen of the Deplorables.' I took it home with me, and hung it in my library as a lesson to me for all future time.

"So," said Martin, throwing away the of his third cigar, "you have heard my experience. May you profit by it! I am now in the pork-packing business, and make a handsome income for my wife and two children. To-morrow I go to New York, to bring them into these wilds for change of air. And now, good night."




In every person's memory there are niches fixed, and in those niches are sacred persons. These are such as never obtruded themselves upon you, staining the pane through which their light shone with their own images, but who became perfectly transparent to the word they uttered, the song they sang, or the work they did. Such a sacred person to me is the gifted woman who first interpreted for me Schumann's Albums. Many years ago it was, as she told me, that she one day stood unperceived in the half-open door of her master, near the lesson-hour, and heard him softly rendering a theme which stole far into places of her heart, which had been awaiting its spell unconsciously. Presently he felt that there was a listener, and, hastily brushing away a tear, he placed the music in a far corner of the room, away from his répertoire. She confessed, that, afterward, when he was not present, she had looked on that which he evidently desired to conceal; she saw written, in pencil, upon it, "Sternenkranz." Thenceforth shops and catalogues were ransacked, but no "Sternenkranz" was found,—the word was evidently her master's own fancy; so she summoned all her heroism, one day, when Herr Otto complained of her indifference to the pieces he set before her, and informed him that she should perish at his feet, unless he would give her "Sternenkranz." Of course her guilt was manifest, and Herr Otto, in a spasm of anger at "prying women," as he called them, brought out the treasure, and with it others of a very rare album of Schumann's, to which he had given no names, leaving them to whisper their own names to each soul that could receive them: Star-Wreath it might be to one, Bower of Lilies to another. It was the same as with that white stone which the Seer of Patmos saw,—within it "a name written which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it."

This piece was to the lady a touch of consecration. Thenceforth she was known among us as "the Schumannite woman." I verily believe that to-day, next to the divine Clara herself, she is the best interpreter of Robert Schumann's works living; and if the love she has obtained for him is not as universal, it is just as fervent. Many silent and holy hours have I sat communing, through her, with him whom the Germans love to call their Tone-Poet; and the music remained to clothe with the full vesture of romance the meagre paragraphs of the journals which hinted his love, his sorrow, and at length his insanity and death. More, however, I longed to know of him,—of the wedlock of these Brownings of music; and more I came to know, in the way which, with this preface, I now proceed to relate.

[pg 292]

A bitter December evening found me tumbling through snow and ice to accommodate a certain lyceum in one of our Northwestern cities. Cold winds from over the Lakes made me wish that the Modern Athens had kept its lecture-system at home; for it has always seemed to me, that, wherever this has gone, her eastern storms have gone with it. Such ugly thoughts were shamed, however, by the beaming welcome which shone from the face of the kindest of landladies, and at length completely thawed out of me by the glowing fire to which she introduced me, and which animated the coziest of rooms. Why has not some poet celebrated the experience of thawing? How deliciously each fibre of the thawee responds to the informing ray, evolving its own sweet sensation of release until all unite in a soft choral reverie! Carried thus, in a few moments, from the Arctic to the Tropic, I thought, as dear Heine says, my "sweet nothing-at-all thoughts," until a subtile breath of music won me back to life.

Heavens! what is that? A strain, strong and tender, pressed its way into the room, soothed my temples, then broke over me in a shower of pearls. Confused, I started up; and it was some moments before I understood that the music proceeded from the room adjoining mine in the hotel. Not altogether unfamiliar was the theme; the priestess of whom I have spoken had once brought it from the Holy of Holies, when she was appointed to stand; and now, remembering, I broke out with the word, "Florestan!"

As I uttered it, the music ceased with the dreary fall of an octave. Whether the musician had heard the exclamation, or whether such a terrible termination was in the music, I knew not: the latter was quite probable, for, alas! such fearful Icarus-falls are not rare in poor Schumann's music. However, I did not consider long, but, rising quickly, passed into the hall, and knocked gently at the door of the next room.

"Enter," replied a voice, eagerly, but softly.

Enter I did, and stood before a man of about forty winters. His face was so swart that I could see only the German in the blue eye, and at once imagined that a stream of Plutonic fire had streamed into his veins from some more Oriental race. I stammered out an apology for my intrusion, but told him how irresistible were such subtile threads as Schumann's "Carnival" had projected through the walls which separated our rooms.

"Florestan," I said, "was too much for me."

Then his eye lighted up as might that of some Arctic voyager, which, having for bleak months rested only on the glittering scales of the ice-dragon coiled about him, is suddenly filled with the warm spread of the Polar Sea. Taking my hand, he said,—

"In me, wanderer that I am,—in me, with the Heimweh in my heart never to be stilled but in that home where Schumann has already gone,—you see Florestan."

"Louis Boehner!"

Filled with wonder, and scarcely knowing what I did, I took a little piece of paper which he unwrapped from many folds and placed in my hand. On it these words were written:—

"Peace and joy attend thee, Louis Boehner! and mayst thou never want for such a friend as thou hast been to


I could say no word; never have I felt a profounder emotion than when, at this moment, I drew so near one whose brow Art had crowned with a living halo.

Students of German music and composers will need no word to bring before them the fulness of this incident. But to others I may briefly mention some facts connected with Schumann's "Carnival, or Scènes Mignonnes, on Four Notes." Not by any means representing the pure depths of Schumann's soul, this strange [pg 293] medley is yet pregnant with historic associations. The composer wrote it in his young days, stringing twenty-two little pieces on four letters composing the name of Asch, a town of Saxony, "whither," according to Sobolewski, "Schumann's thoughts frequently strayed, because at that time there was an object there interesting to his sensitive soul." In the letters A, S, C, H, it must be remembered that the H in German stands for our B natural, and S or es for E flat. The Leipsic "Neue Zeitschrift für Musik" was begun and for ten years edited by Schumann,—in what spirit we may gather from his own words:—"The musical state of Germany, at that time, was not very encouraging. On the stage Rossini yet reigned, and on the piano Herz and Hünten excluded all others. And yet how few years had passed since Beethoven, Weber, and Schubert lived among us! True, Mendelssohn's star was ascending, and there were wonderful whispers of a certain Pole, Chopin; but it was later that these gained their lasting influence. One day the idea took possession of our young and hot heads,—Let us not idly look on; take hold, and reform it; take hold, and the Poetry of Art shall be again enthroned!" Then gathered together a Protestant-league of music, whose Luther and Melancthon in one was Schumann. The Devil at which they threw their inkstands and semi-breves was the Philistines, which is the general term amongst German students, artists, poets, etc., for prosaic, narrow, hard, ungenial, commonplace respectabilities. "Young Germany" was making itself felt in all coördinate directions: forming new schools of plastic Art in Munich and Dresden,—a sharp and spirited Bohemian literature at Frankfort, under the lead of Heine and Boerne; and now, music being the last to yield in Germany, because most revered, as it is with religion in other countries, a new vitality brought together in Kühne's cellar in Leipsic the revolutionists, "who talked of Callot, Hoffmann, and Jean Paul, of Beethoven and Franz Schubert, and of the three foreign Romanticists beyond the Rhine, the friends of the new phenomenon in French poetry, Victor Hugo." This was the Davidsbund, or League of David (the last of the "Scènes Mignonnes" is named "Marche des Davidsbündler contre les Philistines"). An agreeable writer in the "Weimarer Somitagsblatt" has given us a fine sketch of this company, which we will quote.

"The head of the table was occupied by a lively, flexible man of middle age, intellectual in conversation, and overflowing with sharp and witty remarks. He was the instructor of more than one of the young musicians around him, who all listened to his observations with profound attention. He was very fond of monopolizing the conversation and suffering himself to be admired. For he called many a young, highly promising musician his pupil, and had, besides, the certain consciousness of having moulded his daughter Clara, at that time a girl of fourteen, into a prodigy, whose first appearance delighted the whole world, and whose subsequent artist-activity became the pride of her native city, Leipsic. By his side sat a quiet, thoughtful young man of twenty-three, with melancholy eyes. But lately a student in Heidelberg, he had now devoted himself entirely to music, had removed to Leipsic and was now a pupil of the 'old schoolmaster,' as the father of Clara Wieck liked to be called. Young Robert Schumann had good reason to be melancholy. After long struggles, he had only been able to devote himself entirely to music comparatively late in life, and had been obliged to pass a part of his precious youth in studies which were as uncongenial as possible to his artist-spirit. He had finally decided for the career of a virtuoso, and was pursuing the study of the piano with an almost morbid zeal, when the disabling of one of his fingers, a consequence of his over-exertions, obliged him to give up this career forever. He did not yet suspect that this accident would prove fortunate for him in the end, by directing him to [pg 294] his true vocation, composition. Perhaps, too, it was the first germ of love, in the garb of admiration for the wondrous talent of Clara, which made young Robert so quiet and dreamy. His companions were all the more lively. There sat the eccentric Louis Boehner,1 who long ago had served as the model for E.T.A. Hoffmann's fantastic pictures. Here J.P. Lyser, a painter by profession, but a poet as well, and a musician besides. Here Carl Bauck, the indefatigable, yet unsuccessful composer of songs,—now, in his capacity of critic, the paper bugbear of the Dresden artists. He had just returned from Italy, and believed himself in possession of the true secret of the art of singing, the monopoly of which every singing-master is wont to claim for himself. C.F. Becker, too, the eminent organist and industrious collector, belonged to this circle, as well as many more young and old artists of more or less merit and talent."2

Florestan then stood before me; and with him, although invisible, stood that sacred circle, which had unconsciously borne within it the germs of so many future sorrows and glories.

"With him," said Louis Boehner, "I began life, when we were boys together at Heidelberg; with him I stood when the dawn of a better day, which since has blessed hill and vale, was glowing for his eye alone; this breast held his sorrows and his hopes, when he was struggling to reach his Clara; these hands saved him when in his madness he cast himself into the Rhine; these eyes dropped their hot tears on his eyelids when they were closed in death."

Overcome by his emotion, he sat down and sobbed aloud.

At that moment, hearing my name called loudly in the hall, I went out, and was informed that my audience was waiting at the Lyceum, and had been waiting nearly fifteen minutes!


Next morning, bright and early, I was in the artist-pilgrim's room, listening to that which it thrilled him to tell and me to hear. And first he told me the story of Schumann's love.

The "old schoolmaster," Wieck, trained his daughter more ambitiously than judiciously; and, indeed, none but one of the elect would ever have survived the tasks imposed on her childhood. Indeed, she had no childhood: at the piano she was kept through all the bright days, roving only from scale to scale, when she should have been roving from flower to flower. At length her genius asserted itself, and she entered into her destiny; thenceforth flowers bloomed for her out of exercise-books, and she could touch the notes which were sun-bursts, and those which were mosses beneath them. From this training she came before the best audience in Germany, and stood a sad-eyed, beautiful child of fourteen summers, and by acclamation was crowned the Queen of the Piano. Franz Liszt remembered his enthusiasm of that period, and many years afterward wrote in his extravagant way,—"When we heard Clara Wieck in Vienna, fifteen years ago, she drew her hearers after her into her poetic world, to which she floated upward in a magical car drawn by electric sparks and lifted by delicately prismatic, but nervously throbbing winglets." At her performance of Beethoven's F Minor Sonata, Grillparzer was inspired to write the following verses:—

"A weird magician, weary of the world,
In sullen humor locked his charms all up
Within a diamond casket, firmly clasped,
And threw the key into the sea, and died.
The manikins here tried with all their might;
In vain! no tool can pick the flinty lock;
His magic arts still slumber, like their master.
A shepherd's child, along the sea-shore playing,
[pg 295]
Watches the waves, in hurrying, idle chase.
Dreaming and thoughtless, as young maidens are,
She dippeth her white fingers in the flood,
And grasps, and lifts, and holds it! 'Tis the key.
Up springs she, up, her heart still beating higher.
The casket glances, as with eyes, before her.
The key fits well, up flies the lid. The spirits
All mount aloft, then bow themselves submissive
To this their gracious, innocent, sweet mistress,
Who with white fingers guides them in her play."

The first, perhaps, to recognize the surpassing ability of that child was the young editor of the "Zeitschrift." Robert Schumann. On her first appearance, he wrote,—"Others make poetry,—she is a poem." And soon afterward,—"She early lifted the veil of Isis. The child looks calmly up,—the man would, perhaps, be dazzled by the brilliancy."

From this moment there was an elasticity and purpose about the young composer, the secret of which no one knew, not even himself. Like one caught in the whorls of some happy dream, who will not pause to ask, "Whither?" he poured out before this child the half-revealed hopes striving within him; an equal spell was woven about her ingenuous and earnest heart, and their souls were joined in that purple morning; in due time they were to be rather clenched, through pain. It was under this baptismal touch of Love that Schumann wrote his first sonata,—"Florestan and Eusebius." It gained him at once a fame with all from whom fame was graceful.

In the light of this period of his life must be interpreted those wonderful little "pieces" which mystify whilst they fascinate; without it their meaning is as strange as their names. Often did he say,—"I can write only where my life is in unison with my works." "Listen now to these," said Florestan, as he opened an album and struck the piano; "these are the voices of a new life." The "Alternatives," with song, "My peace is o'er"; "Evening Thoughts"; "Impromptus," (whose first theme was written by Clara): these; seemed like the emotion of some newly winged aspirant released from its chrysalis, resting on its first flower. But faster than planets through the abysses Love moves on. Florestan ceased, and there was a long silence; and then he told the unspeakable portion of his story by performing these two: "Sternenkranz," "Warum." Who has ever scaled the rapture of the former, or fathomed the pathos of the latter? Every summit implies its precipice; and the star-wreath that crowned Love was snatched at by the Fate which soon burdened two hearts with the terrible questioning, Wherefore?

Thus: before these two were fully conscious of the love they bore each other, the shrewd eye of old Wieck had caught a glimpse of what was coming to pass. He had educated this girl to be an artist to bring him fame; alas, it must be confessed that he thought also of certain prospective thalers. Willing as he was that all Leipsic should admire his daughter, he did not like the enthusiasm of the "Zeitschrift." He then began to warn Clara against "this Faust in modern garb, who, when he had gained one finger, would soon have the whole hand, and finally the poor soul into the bargain!" Stupid old schoolmaster, thou shouldst have known that it is Mephistopheles, and not Faust, that women hate!

The old man, finding that his warnings were of no avail, forbade all acquaintance, forbade Robert's visits to his house. Then, inaugurating at once Clara's career as a virtuoso, he took her to Vienna.

No wonder, that, when she appeared there, it was to be as the priestess of Beethoven. It takes something besides an academy to train artists up to Beethoven. Robert was forbidden to write to her; but the "Schwärmibriefe of Eusebius to Chiara," utterly unintelligible to the general reader of the "Zeitschrift," [pg 296] who, doubtless, fancied that its editor had gone mad, were quite clear to a certain little lady in Vienna, who consequently pined less than her father had anticipated.

"Amid all our musical soul-feasts," he writes, "there always peeps out an angel-face, which more than resembles a certain Clara. Why art thou not with us? (Warum!) And how thou wilt have thought of us last night, from the 'Meeresstille' to the flaming close of the A major symphony! I also thought of thee then, Chiara, pure one, bright one, whose hands are stretched towards Italy, whither thy longing draws thee, but thy dreamy eye still turned to us."

At length a sun-burst. In 1840 appeared the first number of Schumann's "Myrthen," whose dedication, Seiner geliebten Braut, breaks forth in the passionate and beautiful song,—"Thou my soul, O thou my heart!"

But this word Braut means Bride in the German sense of "affianced"; and although the joy of this relation passed over Schumann like the breath of a Tropic, bringing forth, amongst other gorgeous fruits, his glorious First Symphony, which some one has well called the Symphony of Bliss, yet, ere this bliss was more than an elusive vision, the two passed through fierce wildernesses, and drank together of bitter Marahs. "But of all this," said Florestan, "you will know, if you have the right to know, from these,"—his "Voice from afar," and his "Night-Pieces."

Neither of us dared break the silence claimed by these exquisite pieces when they ceased; we shook hands and parted without a word.


But another mystery about the loved and lost master, which I longed to have revealed, would not let me leave the city. In the afternoon I sought Boehner, and asked him to walk with me. As soon as we had alluded to the one subject that bound us together, I requested him to tell me, what had not yet been given to the world, the details of Schumann's insanity and death.

Then, as one who takes up a heavy burden to bear it, he proceeded:—

"The heart of Robert Schumann was a lyre so delicate, and with strings so sensitive, that the effect of his pains and his joys, both always in extremes, was as if you gave an Æolian harp to be swept now by a cold north-wind and now by a hot sirocco. His spirit wore on to the confines of his flesh, and was not warmly covered thereby, but only veiled. Under his grief he seemed stronger; but when his joy came, when Clara was his own, and went through Europe with him, giving expression to the voices within, which, to him, had been unutterable,—then we saw that the emotions which would have been safe, had they been suffered to well up gently from the first, could come forth now only as a fierce and perhaps devastating torrent.

"Schumann saddened his intimate friends by times of insanity, five or six years before the world at large knew anything of it. At such times he imagined himself again cruelly separated from the patient and tender being who never left his side; and he would write pieces full of distractions, in the midst of each of which, however, some touchingly beautiful theme would float up, like a fair island through seething seas. Then there were longer intervals, of seven and eight months, in which he was perfectly sane; at which times he would write with a wearing persistence which none could restrain: he would put our advice aside gently, saying,—'A long life is before me; but it must be lived in a few years.' And, indeed, the works which have reached farthest into hearts that loved him most deeply date from these times. I remember, that, when he sat down to compose his last symphony, he said,—'It is almost accomplished; but the invisible mansion needs another chamber.'

"Once when I was at Frankfort, Clara Schumann sent me this word: 'Hasten.' I left all my affairs, and came to [pg 297] watch for many months beside this beloved one. It was not a wild delirium which had taken possession of him; the only fit of that kind was that in which he tried to drown himself in the Rhine,—at the time when the papers got hold of the terrible secret. His insanity was manifested in his conviction that he was occupied by the souls of Beethoven and Schubert. Much in the manner of your American mediums, he would be seized by a controlling power,—would snatch a pencil, and dash out upon paper the wildest discords. These we would play for him, at his request, from morning till night,—during much of which time he would seem to be in a happy trance. Of this music no chord or melody was true; they were jangling memories of his earlier works.

"One day he called his wife and myself, and took our hands in his own:—'Beethoven says that my earthly music is over; it cannot be understood here; he writes for angels, and I shall write for them.' Then, turning to me, he said,—'Louis, my friend, farewell! This is my last prayer for you,'—handing me the paper which I have shown you; 'and now leave us, to come again and kiss me when I am cold.'

"Then I left him alone with his Clara.

"A month from that time, Schumann was no more."

Out under the glowing sunset, I clasped hands parting with Louis Boehner, and said, as my voice would let me.—"Take this paper, and when you would have a friend, such as you have been to Robert Schumann, come and help me to be that friend."


Two questions are concerned in the social problem of our time. One is, Will the people of African descent work for a living? and the other is, Will they fight for their freedom? An affirmative answer to these must be put beyond any fair dispute before they will receive permanent security in law or opinion. Whatever may be the theses of philosophers or the instincts of the justest men, the general sense of mankind is not likely to accord the rights of complete citizenship to a race of paupers, or to hesitate in imposing compulsory labor on those who have not industry sufficient to support themselves. Nor, in the present development of human nature, is the conscience of great communities likely to be so pervasive and controlling as to restrain them from disregarding the rights of those whom it is perfectly safe to injure, because they have not the pluck to defend themselves. Sentiment may be lavished upon them in poetry and tears, but it will all be wasted. Like all unprivileged classes before them, they will have their full recognition as citizens and men when they have vindicated their title to be an estate of the realm, and not before. Let us, then, take the world as we find it, and try this people accordingly. But it is not pertinent to any practical inquiry of our time to predict what triumphs in art, literature, or government they are to accomplish, or what romance is to glow upon their history. No Iliad may be written of them and their woes. No Plutarch may gather the lives of their heroes. No Vandyck may delight to warm his canvas with their forms. How many or how few astronomers like Banneker, chieftains like Toussaint, orators like Douglass they may have, it is not worth while to conjecture. It is better to dismiss these fanciful discussions. To vindicate their title to a fair chance in the [pg 298] world as a free people, it is sufficient, and alone sufficient, that it appear to reasonable minds that they are in good and evil very much like the rest of mankind, and that they are endowed in about the same degree with the conservative and progressive elements of character common to ordinary humanity.

It is given to the people of this country and time, could they realise it, to make a new chapter of human experience. The past may suggest, but it can do little either in directing or deterring. There is nothing in the gloomy vaticinations of Tocqueville, wise and benevolent as he is, which should be permitted to darken our future. The mediæval antagonisms of races, when Christianity threw but a partial light over mankind, and before commerce had unfolded the harmony of interests among people of diverse origin or condition, determine no laws which will fetter the richer and more various development of modern life. Nor do the results of emancipation in the West Indies, more or less satisfactory as they may be, afford any measure of the progress which opens before our enfranchised masses. The insular and contracted life of the colonies, cramped also as they were by debt and absenteeism, has no parallel in the grand currents of thought and activity ever sweeping through the continent on which our problem is to be solved.

In the light of these views, the attempt shall be made to report truthfully upon the freedmen at Port Royal. A word, however, as to the name. Civilization, in its career, may often be traced in the nomenclatures of successive periods. These people were first called contrabands at Fortress Monroe; but at Port Royal, where they were next introduced to us in any considerable number, they were generally referred to as freedmen. These terms are milestones in our progress; and they are yet to be lost in the better and more comprehensive designation of citizens, or, when discrimination is convenient, citizens of African descent.

The enterprise for the protection and development of the freedmen at Port Royal has won its way to the regard of mankind. The best minds of Europe, as well as the best friends of the United States, like Cairnes and Gasparin, have testified much interest in its progress. An English periodical of considerable merit noticed at some length "Mr. Pierce's Ten Thousand Clients." In Parliament, Earl Russell noted it in its incipient stage, as a reason why England should not intervene in American affairs. The "Revue des Deux Mondes," in a recent number, characterizes the colony as "that small pacific army, far more important in the history of civilization than all the military expeditions despatched from time to time since the commencement of the civil war."

No little historical interest covers the region to which this account belongs. Explorations of the coast now known as that of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, involving the rival pretensions of Spain and France, were made in the first half of the sixteenth century. They were conducted by Ponce de Leon, Vasquez, Verrazani, and Soto, in search of the fountain of perpetual youth, or to extend empire by right of discovery. But no permanent settlement by way of colony or garrison was attempted until 1562.

In that year,—the same in which he drew his sword for his faith, and ten years before the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, in which he fell the most illustrious victim,—Admiral Coligny, the great Protestant chief, anxious to found beyond the seas a refuge for persecuted Huguenots, fitted out the expedition of Jean Ribault, which, after a voyage of over three months across the ocean and northward along the coast, cast anchor on May 27th in the harbor of Port Royal, and gave it the name which it retains to this day. That year was also to be ever memorable for another and far different enterprise, which was destined to be written in dark and perpetual lines on human history. Then it was that John [pg 299] Hawkins sailed for Africa in quest of the first cargo of negroes ever brought to the New World. The expedition of Ribault was the first visit of Europeans to Port Royal or to any part of South Carolina, and the garrison left by him was the first settlement under their auspices ever made on this continent north of Mexico. There is not space or need to detail here the mutiny and suffering of this military colony, their abandonment of the post, the terrible voyage homeward, or the perseverance of Coligny in his original purpose. Nor is it within the compass of this narrative to recount the fortunes of the second garrison, which was founded on the St. John's, the visit of John Hawkins in 1565 with timely relief, the return of Ribault from France and his sad fate, the ferocity of Melendez against all heretic Frenchmen, and the avenging chivalry of Dominic de Gourges. The student is baffled in attempts to fix localities for the deeds and explorations of this period, even with the help of the several accounts and the drawings of Le Moyne; and, besides, these later vicissitudes did not involve any permanent occupation as far north as Port Royal, that region having been abandoned by the French, and being then visited by the Spanish only for trade or adventure.

Some merchants of Barbados, in 1663, sent William Hilton and other commissioners to Florida, then including Port Royal, to explore the country with reference to an emigration thither. Hilton's Narration, published in London the year after, mentions St. Ellens as one of the points visited, meaning St. Helena, but probably including the Sea Islands under that name. The natives were found to speak many Spanish words, and to be familiar enough with the report of guns not to be alarmed by it. The commissioners, whose explorations were evidently prompted by motives of gain, close a somewhat glowing description of the country by saying, "And we could wish that all they that want a happy settlement of our English nation were well transported thither."

Hitherto England had borne no part in exploring this region. But, relieved of her civil wars by the Restoration, she began to seek colonial empire on the southern coast of North America. In 1663, Charles II. granted a charter to Clarendon, Monk, Shaftsbury,—each famous in the conflicts of those times,—and to their associates, as proprietors of Carolina. The genius of John Locke, more fitted for philosophy than affairs, devised a constitution for the colony,—an idle work, as it proved. In 1670, the first emigrants, under Governor William Sayle, arrived at Port Royal, with the purpose to remain there; but, disturbed probably with apprehensions of Spanish incursions from Florida, they removed to the banks of the Ashley, and, after another change of site, founded Charleston.

In 1682, a colony from Scotland under Lord Cardross was founded at Port Royal, but was driven away four years later by the Spanish. No permanent settlement of the Beaufort district appears to have succeeded until 1700. This district is divided into four parishes, St. Peter's, St. Luke's, St. Helena, and Prince William, being fifty-eight miles long and thirty-two broad, and containing 1,224,960 acres. St. Helena parish includes the islands of St. Helena, Ladies, Port Royal, Paris, and a few smaller islands, which, together with Hilton Head, make the district occupied by our forces. The largest and most populous of these islands is St. Helena, being fifteen miles long and six or seven broad, containing fifty plantations and three thousand negroes, and perhaps more since the evacuation of Edisto. Port Royal is two-thirds or three-quarters the size of St. Helena, Ladies half as large, and Hilton Head one-third as large. Paris, or Parry, has five plantations, and Coosaw, Morgan, Cat, Cane, and Barnwell have each one or two. Beaufort is the largest town in the district of that name, and the only one at Port Royal in our possession. Its population, black and white, in time of peace may have been [pg 300] between two and three thousand. The first lots were granted in 1717. Its Episcopal church was built in 1720. Its library was instituted in 1802, had increased in 1825 to six or eight hundred volumes, and when our military occupation began contained about thirty-five hundred.

The origin of the name Port Royal, given to a harbor at first and since to an island, has already been noted. The name of St. Helena, applied to a sound, a parish, and an island, originated probably with the Spaniards, and was given by them in tribute to Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, whose day in the calendar is August 18th. Broad River is the equivalent of La Grande, which was given by Ribault. Hilton Head may have been derived from Captain Hilton, who came from Barbados. Coosaw is the name of a tribe of Indians. Beaufort is likely to have been so called for Henry, Duke of Beauford, one of the lord proprietors, while Carolina was a province of Great Britain.

The Beaufort District is not invested with any considerable Revolutionary romance. In 1779, the British forces holding Savannah sent two hundred troops with a howitzer and two field-pieces to Beaufort. Four companies of militia from Charleston with two field-pieces, reinforced by a few volunteers from Beaufort, repulsed and drove them off. The British made marauding incursions from Charleston in 1782, and are said to have levied a military contribution on St. Helena and Port Royal Islands.

There are the remains of Indian mounds and ancient forts on the islands. One of these last, it is said, can be traced on Paris Island, and is claimed by some antiquaries to be the Charles Fort built by Ribault. There are the well-preserved walls of one upon the plantation of John J. Smith on Port Royal Island, a few miles south of Beaufort, now called Camp Saxton, and recently occupied by Colonel Higginson's regiment. It is built of cemented oyster-shells. Common remark refers to it as a Spanish fort, but it is likely to be of English construction. The site of Charles Fort is claimed for Beaufort, Lemon Island, Paris Island, and other points.

The Sea Islands are formed by the intersection of the creeks and arms of the sea. They have a uniform level, are without any stones, and present a rather monotonous and uninteresting scenery, spite of the raptures of French explorers. The creeks run up into the islands at numerous points, affording facilities for transportation by flats and boats to the buildings which are usually near them. The soil is of a light, sandy mould, and yields in the best seasons a very moderate crop, say fifteen bushels of corn and one hundred or one hundred and thirty pounds of ginned cotton to the acre,—quite different from the plantations in Mississippi and Texas, where an acre produces five or six hundred pounds. The soil is not rich enough for the cultivated grasses, and one finds but little turf. The coarse saline grasses, gathered in stacks, furnish the chief material for manure. The long-fibred cotton peculiar to the region is the result of the climate, which is affected by the action of the salt water upon the atmosphere by means of the creeks which permeate the land in all directions. The seed of this cotton, planted on the upland, will produce in a few years the cotton of coarser texture; and the seed of the latter, planted on the islands, will in a like period produce the finer staple. The Treasury Department secured eleven hundred thousand pounds from the islands occupied by our forces, including Edisto, being the crop, mostly unginned, and gathered in storehouses, when our military occupation began.

The characteristic trees are the live-oak, its wood almost as heavy as lignum-vitæ, the trunk not high, but sometimes five or six feet in diameter, and extending its crooked branches far over the land, with the long, pendulous, funereal moss adhering to them,—and the palmetto, shooting up its long, spongy stem thirty or forty feet, unrelieved by [pg 301] vines or branches, with a disproportionately small cap of leaves at the summit, the most ungainly of trees, albeit it gives a name and coat-of-arms to the State. Besides these, are the pine, the red and white oak, the cedar, the bay, the gum, the maple, and the ash. The soil is luxuriant with an undergrowth of impenetrable vines. These interlacing the trees, supported also by shrubs, of which the cassena is the most distinguished variety, and faced with ditches, make the prevailing fences of the plantations. The hedges are adorned in March and April with the yellow jessamine, (jelseminum,)—the cross-vine (bignonia,) with its mass of rich red blossoms,—the Cherokee rose, (loevigata,) spreading out in long waving wreaths of white,—and, two months later, the palmetto royal, (yucca gloriosa,) which protects the fence with its prickly leaves, and delights the eyes with its pyramid-like clusters of white flowers. Some of these trees and shrubs serve a utilitarian end in art and medicine. The live-oak is famous in shipbuilding. The palmetto, or cabbage-palmetto, as it is called, resists destruction by worms, and is used for facing wharves. It was employed to protect Fort Moultrie in 1776, when bombarded by the British fleet; and the cannon-balls were buried in its spongy substance. The moss (tillandsia usneoides) served to calk the rude vessel of the first French colonists, longing for home. It may be used for bedding after its life has been killed by boiling water, and for the subsistence of cattle when destitute of other food. The cassena is a powerful diuretic.

The game and fish, which are both abundant and of desirable kinds, and to the pursuit of which the planters were much addicted, are described in Eliot's book. Russell's "Diary" may also be consulted in relation to fishing for devil and drum.

The best dwellings in Beaufort are capacious, with a piazza on the first and second stories, through each of which runs a large hall to admit a free circulation of air. Only one, however, appeared to have been built under the supervision of a professional architect. Those on the plantations, designed for the planters or overseers, were, with a few exceptions, of a very mean character, and a thriving mechanic in New England would turn his back on them as unfit to live in. Their yards are without turf, having as their best feature a neighboring grove of orange-trees. One or two dwellings only appear to be ancient. Indeed, they are not well enough built to last long. The estates upon Edisto Island are of a more patrician character, and are occasionally surrounded by spacious flower-gardens and ornamental trees fancifully trimmed.

The names of the planters indicated mainly an English origin, although some may be traced to Huguenot families who sought a refuge here from the religious persecutions of France.

The deserted houses were generally found strewn with religious periodicals, mainly Baptist magazines. This characteristic of Southern life has been elsewhere observed in the progress of our army. Occasionally some book denouncing slavery as criminal and ruinous was found among those left behind. One of these was Hewatt's history of South Carolina, published in 1779, and reprinted in Carroll's collection. Another was Gregoire's vindication of the negro race and tribute to its distinguished examples, translated by Warden in 1810. These people seem, indeed, to have had light enough to see the infinite wrong of the system, and it is difficult to believe them entirely sincere in their passionate defence of it. Their very violence, when the moral basis of slavery is assailed, seems to be that of a man who distrusts the rightfulness of his daily conduct, has resolved to persist in it, and therefore hates most of all the prophet who comes to confront him for his misdeeds, and, if need be, to publish them to mankind.

Well-authenticated instances of cruelty to slaves were brought to notice without [pg 302] being sought for. The whipping-tree is now often pointed out, still showing the place where it was worn by the rope which bound the sufferer to it. On the plantation where my own quarters were was a woman who had been so beaten when approaching the trials of maternity as to crush out the life of the unborn child. But this planter had one daughter who looked with horror on the scenes of which she was the unwilling witness. She declared to her parents and sisters that it was hell to live in such a place. She was accustomed to advise the negroes how best to avoid being whipped. When the war began, she assured them that the story of the masters that the Yankees were going to send them to Cuba was all a lie. Surely a kind Providence will care for this noble girl! This war will, indeed, emancipate others than blacks from bonds which marriage and kindred have involved. But it is unpleasant to dwell on these painful scenes of the past, constant and authentic as they are; and they hardly concern the practical question which now presses for a solution. Nor in referring to them is there any need of injustice or exaggeration. Human nature has not the physical endurance or moral persistence to keep up a perpetual and universal cruelty; and there are fortunate slaves who never received a blow from their masters. Besides, there was less labor exacted and less discipline imposed on the loosely managed plantations of the Sea Islands than in other districts where slave-labor was better and more profitably organized and directed.

The capture of Hilton Head and Bay Point by the navy, November 7th, 1861, was followed by the immediate military occupation of the Sea Islands. In the latter part of December, the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Chase, whose foresight as a statesman and humane disposition naturally turned his thoughts to the subject, deputed a special agent to visit this district for the purpose of reporting upon the condition of the negroes who had been abandoned by the white population, and of suggesting some plan for the organization of their labor and the promotion of their general well-being. The agent, leaving New York January 13th, 1862, reached that city again on his way to Washington on the 13th of February, having in the mean time visited a large number of the plantations, and talked familiarly with the negroes in their cabins. The results of his observations, in relation to the condition of the people, their capacities and wishes, the culture of their crops, and the best mode of administration, on the whole favorable, were embodied in a report. The plan proposed by him recommended the appointment of superintendents to act as guides of the negroes and as local magistrates, with an adequate corps of teachers. It was accepted by the Secretary with a full indorsement, and its execution intrusted to the same agent. The agent presented the subject to several members of Congress, with whom he had a personal acquaintance, but, though they listened respectfully, they seemed either to dread the magnitude of the social question, or to feel that it was not one with which they as legislators were called upon immediately to deal. The Secretary himself, and Mr. Olmsted, then connected with the Sanitary Commission, alone seemed to grasp it, and to see the necessity of immediate action. It is doubtful if any member of the Cabinet, except Mr. Chase, took then any interest in the enterprise, though it has since been fostered by the Secretary of War. At the suggestion of the Secretary, the President appointed an interview with the agent. Mr. Lincoln, who was then chafing under a prospective bereavement, listened for a few moments, and then said, somewhat impatiently, that he did not think he ought to be troubled with such details,—that there seemed to be an itching to get negroes into our lines; to which the agent replied, that these negroes were within them by the invitation of no one, being domiciled there before we commenced occupation. The President then [pg 303] wrote and handed to the agent the following card:—

"I shall be obliged if the Sec. of the Treasury will in his discretion give Mr. Pierce such instructions in regard to Port Royal contrabands as may seem judicious.


"Feb. 15, 1862."

The President, so history must write it, approached the great question slowly and reluctantly; and in February, 1862, he little dreamed of the proclamations he was to issue in the September and January following. Perhaps that slowness and reluctance were well, for thereby it was given to this people to work out their own salvation, rather than to be saved by any chief or prophet.

Notwithstanding the plan of superintendents was accepted, there were no funds wherewith to pay them. At this stage the "Educational Commission," organized in Boston on the 7th of February, and the "Freedmen's Relief Association," organized in New York on the 20th of the same month, gallantly volunteered to pay both superintendents and teachers, and did so until July 1st, when the Government, having derived a fund from the sale of confiscated cotton left in the territory by the Rebels, undertook the payment of the superintendents, the two societies, together with another organized in Philadelphia on the 3d of March, and called the "Port Royal Relief Committee," providing for the support of the teachers.

When these voluntary associations sprang into being to save an enterprise which otherwise must have failed, no authoritative assurance had been given as to the legal condition of the negroes. The Secretary, in a letter to the agent, had said, that, after being received into our service, they could not, without great injustice, be restored to their masters, and should therefore be fitted to become self-supporting citizens. The President was reported to have said freely, in private, that negroes who were within our lines, and had been employed by the Government, should be protected in their freedom. No official assurance of this had, however, been given; and its absence disturbed the societies in their formation. At one meeting of the Boston society action was temporarily arrested by the expression of an opinion by a gentleman present, that there was no evidence showing that these people, when educated, would not be the victims of some unhappy compromise. A public meeting in Providence, for their relief, is said to have broken up without action, because of a speech from a furloughed officer of a regiment stationed at Port Royal, who considered such a result the probable one. But the societies, on reflection, wisely determined to do what they could to prepare them to become self-supporting citizens, in the belief, that, when they had become such, no Government could ever be found base enough to turn its back upon them. These associations, it should be stated, have been managed by persons of much consideration in their respective communities, of unostentatious philanthropy, but of energetic and practical benevolence, hardly one of whom has ever filled or been a candidate for a political office.

There was a pleasant interview at this time which may fitly be mentioned. The venerable Josiah Quincy, just entered on his ninety-first year, hearing of the enterprise, desired to see one who had charge of it. I went to his chamber, where he had been confined to his bed for many weeks with a fractured limb. He talked like a patriot who read the hour and its duty. He felt troubled lest adequate power had not been given to protect the enterprise,—said that but for his disability he should be glad to write something about it, but that he was living "the postscript of his life"; and as we parted, he gave his hearty benediction to the work and to myself. Restored in a measure to activity, he is still spared to the generation which fondly cherishes his old age; and recently, at the organization of the Union Club, he read to his fellow-citizens, [pg 304] gathering close about him and hanging on his speech, words of counsel and encouragement.

On the morning of the 3d of March, 1862, the first delegation of superintendents and teachers, fifty-three in all, of whom twelve were women, left the harbor of New York, on board the United States steam-transport Atlantic, arriving at Beaufort on the 9th. It was a voyage never to be forgotten. The enterprise was new and strange, and it was not easy to predict its future. Success or defeat might be in store for us; and we could only trust in God that our strength would be equal to our responsibilities. As the colonists approached the shores of South Carolina, they were addressed by the agent in charge, who told them the little he had learned of their duties, enjoined patience and humanity, impressed on them the greatness of their work, the results of which were to cheer or dishearten good men, to settle, perhaps, one way or the other, the social problem of the age,—assuring them that never did a vessel bear a colony on a nobler mission, not even the Mayflower, when she conveyed the Pilgrims to Plymouth, that it would be a poorly written history which should omit their individual names, and that, if faithful to their trust, there would come to them the highest of all recognitions ever accorded to angels or to men, in this life or the next,—"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto Me."

This first delegation of superintendents and teachers were distributed during the first fortnight after their arrival at Beaufort, and at its close they had all reached their appointed posts. They took their quarters in the deserted houses of the planters. These had all left on the arrival of our army, only four white men, citizens of South Carolina, remaining, and none of those being slaveholders, except one, who had only two or three slaves. Our operations were, therefore, not interfered with by landed proprietors who were loyal or pretended to be so. The negroes had, in the mean time, been without persons to guide and care for them, and had been exposed to the careless and conflicting talk of soldiers who chanced to meet them. They were also brought in connection with some employés of the Government, engaged in the collection of cotton found upon the plantations, none of whom were doing anything for their education, and most of whom were in favor of leasing the plantations and the negroes upon them as adscripti gleboe looking forward to their restoration to their masters at the close of the war. They were uncertain as to the intentions of the Yankees, and were wondering at the confusion, as they called it. They were beginning to plant corn in their patches, but were disinclined to plant cotton, regarding it as a badge of servitude. No schools had been opened, except one at Beaufort, which had been kept a few weeks by two freedmen, one bearing the name of John Milton, under the auspices of the Rev. Dr. Peck. This is not the place to detail the obstacles we met with, one after another overcome,—the calumnies and even personal violence to which we were subjected. These things occurred at an early period of our struggle, when the nation was groping its way to light, and are not likely to occur again. Let unworthy men sleep in the oblivion they deserve, and let others of better natures, who were then blind, but now see, not be taunted with their inconsiderate acts. The nickname of Gibeonites, applied to the colonists, may, however, be fitly remembered. It may now justly claim rank with the honored titles of Puritan and Methodist. The higher officers of the army were uniformly respectful and disposed to coöperation. One of these may properly be mentioned. Our most important operations were in the district under the command of Brigadier-General Isaac I. Stevens, an officer whose convictions were not supposed to be favorable to the enterprise, and who, during the political contest of 1860, had been the chairman of the National Breckinridge Committee. But such was his honor as a gentleman, and his sense of the [pg 305] duty of subordination to the wishes of the Government, that his personal courtesies and official aid were never wanting. He received his mortal wound at Chantilly, Virginia, on the first of September following, and a braver and abler officer has not fallen in the service.

Notwithstanding our work was commenced six weeks too late, and other hindrances occurred, detailed in the second report of the agent, some eight thousand acres of esculents,—a fair supply of food,—and some four thousand five hundred acres of cotton (after a deduction for over-estimates) were planted. This was done upon one hundred and eighty-nine plantations, on which were nine thousand and fifty people, of whom four thousand four hundred and twenty-nine were field-hands, made up of men, women, and children, and equivalent, in the usual classification and estimate of the productive capacity of laborers, to three thousand eight hundred and five and one-half full hands. The cotton-crop produced will not exceed sixty-five thousand pounds of ginned cotton. Work enough was done to have produced five hundred thousand pounds in ordinary times; but the immaturity of the pod, resulting from the lateness of the planting, exposed it to the ravages of the frost and the worm. Troops being ordered North, after the disasters of the Peninsular campaign, Edisto was evacuated in the middle of July, and thus one thousand acres of esculents, and nearly seven hundred acres of cotton, the cultivation of which had been finished, were abandoned. In the autumn, Major-General Mitchell required forty tons of corn-fodder and seventy-eight thousand pounds of corn in the ear, for army-forage. These are but some of the adverse influences to which the agricultural operations were subjected.

It is fitting here that I should bear my testimony to the superintendents and teachers commissioned by the associations. There was as high a purpose and devotion among them as in any colony that ever went forth to bear the evangel of civilization. Among them were some of the choicest young men of New England, fresh from Harvard, Yale, and Brown, from the divinity-schools of Andover and Cambridge,—men of practical talent and experience. There were some of whom the world was scarce worthy, and to whom, whether they are among the living or the dead, I delight to pay the tribute of my respect and admiration.

Four of the original delegation have died. William S. Clark died at Boston, April 25th, 1863, a consumptive when he entered on the work, which he was obliged to leave six months before his death. He was a faithful and conscientious teacher. Though so many months had passed since he left these labors, their fascination was such that he dwelt fondly upon them in his last days.

The colony was first broken by the death of Francis E. Barnard, at St. Helena Island, October 18th, 1862. He was devoted, enthusiastic,—and though not fitted, as it at first appeared, for the practical duties of a superintendent, yet even in this respect disappointing me entirely. He was an evangelist, also, and he preached with more unction than any other the gospel of freedom,—always, however, enforcing the duties of industry and self-restraint. He was never sad, but always buoyant and trustful. He and a comrade were the first to be separated from the company, while at Hilton Head, and before the rest went to Beaufort,—being assigned to Edisto, which had been occupied less than a month, and was a remote and exposed point; but he went fearlessly and without question. The evacuation of Edisto in July, the heat, and the labor involved in bringing away and settling his people at the village on St. Helena Island, a summer resort of the former residents, where were some fifty vacant houses, were too much for him. His excessive exertions brought on malarious fever. This produced an unnatural excitement, and at mid-day, under a hot sun, he rode about to attend to his people. He died,—men, women, and children, for whom he had toiled, filling the house with [pg 306] their sobs during his departing hours. His funeral was thronged by them, his coffin strewn with flowers which they and his comrades had plucked, and then his remains were borne to his native town, where burial-rites were again performed in the old church of Dorchester. Read his published journal, and find how a noble youth can live fourscore years in a little more than one score. One high privilege was accorded to him. He lived to hear of the immortal edict of the twenty-second of September, by which the freedom of his people was to be secured for all time to come.

Samuel D. Phillips was a young man of much religions feeling, though he never advertised himself as having it, and a devout communicant of the Episcopal Church. He was a gentleman born and bred, inheriting the quality as well as adding to it by self-discipline. He had good business-capacity, never complained of inconveniences, was humane, yet not misled by sentiment, and he gave more of his time, otherwise unoccupied, to teaching than almost any other superintendent. I was recently asking the most advanced pupils of a school on St. Helena who first taught them their letters, and the frequent answer was, "Mr. Phillips." He was at home in the autumn for a vacation, was at the funeral of Barnard in Dorchester, and though at the time in imperfect health, he hastened back to his charge, feeling that the death of Barnard, whose district was the same as his own, rendered his immediate return necessary to the comfort of his people. He went,—but his health never came back to him. His quarters were in the same house where Barnard had died, and in a few days, on the 5th of December, he followed him. He was tended in his sickness by the negroes, and one day, having asked that his pillow might be turned, he uttered the words, "Thank God," and died. There was the same grief as at Barnard's death, the same funeral-rites at the St. Helena Church, and his remains were borne North to bereaved relatives.

Daniel Bowe was an alumnus of Yale College, and a student of the Andover Theological Seminary, not yet graduated when he turned from his professional studies at the summons of Christian duty. He labored faithfully as a superintendent, looking after the physical, moral, and educational interests of his people. He had a difficult post, was overburdened with labor, and perhaps had not the faculty of taking as good care of himself as was even consistent with his duties. He came home in the summer, commended the enterprise and his people to the citizens and students of Andover, and returned. He afterwards fell ill, and, again coming North, died October 30th, a few days after reaching New York. The young woman who was betrothed to him, but whom he did not live to wed, has since his death sought this field of labor; and on my recent visit I found her upon the plantation where he had resided, teaching the children whom he had first taught, and whose parents he had guided to freedom. Truly, the age of Christian romance has not passed away!

On the first of July, 1862, the administration of affairs at Port Royal having been transferred from the Treasury to the War Department, the charge of the freedmen passed into the hands of Brigadier-General Rufus Saxton, a native of Massachusetts, who in childhood had breathed the free air of the valley of the Connecticut, a man of sincere and humane nature; and under his wise and benevolent care they still remain. The Sea Islands, and also Fernandina and St. Augustine in Florida, are within our lines in the Department of the South, and some sixteen or eighteen thousand negroes are supposed to be under his jurisdiction.

The negroes of the Sea Islands, when found by us, had become an abject race, more docile and submissive than those of any other locality. The native African was of a fierce and mettlesome temper, sullen and untamable. The master was obliged to abate something of the [pg 307] usual rigor in dealing with the imported slaves. A tax-commissioner, now at Port Royal, and formerly a resident of South Carolina, told me that a native African belonging to his father, though a faithful man, would perpetually insist on doing his work in his own way, and being asked the threatening question, "A'n't you going to mind?" would answer, with spirit, "No, a'n't gwine to!" and the master desisted! Severe discipline drove the natives to the wilderness, or involved a mutilation of person which destroyed their value for proprietary purposes. In 1816, eight hundred of these refugees were living free in the swamps and everglades of Florida. There the ancestors of some of them had lived ever since the early part of the eighteenth century, rearing families, carrying on farms, and raising cattle. They had two hundred and fifty men fit to bear arms, led by chiefs brave and skilful. The story of the Exiles of Florida is one of painful interest. The testimony of officers of the army who served against them is, that they were more dangerous enemies than the Indians, fighting the most skilfully and standing the longest. The tax-commissioner before referred to, who was a resident of Charleston during the trial and execution of the confederates of Denmark Vesey, relates that one of the native Africans, when called to answer to the charge against him, haughtily responded,—"I was a prince in my country, and have as much right to be free as you!" The Carolinians were so awe-struck by his defiance that they transported him. Another, at the execution, turned indignantly to a comrade about to speak, and said, "Die silent, as I do!" and the man hushed. The early newspapers of Georgia recount the disturbances on the plantations occasioned by these native Africans, and even by their children, being not until the third generation reduced to obedient slaves.

Nowhere has the deterioration of the negroes from their native manhood been carried so far as on these Sea Islands,—a deterioration due to their isolation from the excitements of more populous districts, the constant surveillance of the overseers, and their intermarriage with each other, involving a physical degeneracy with which inexorable Nature punishes disobedience to her laws. The population with its natural increase was sufficient for the cultivation of the soil under existing modes, and therefore no fresh blood was admitted, such as is found pouring from the Border States into the sugar and cotton regions of the Southwest. This unmanning and depravation of the native character had been carried so far, that the special agent, on his first exploration, in January, 1862, was obliged to confess the existence of a general disinclination to military service on the part of the negroes; though it is true that even then instances of courage and adventure appeared, which indicated that the more manly feeling was only latent, to be developed under the inspiration of events. And so, let us rejoice, it has been. You may think yourself wise, as you note the docility of a subject race; but in vain will you attempt to study it until the burden is lifted. The slave is unknown to all, even to himself, while the bondage lasts. Nature is ever a kind mother. She soothes us with her deceits, not in surgery alone, when the sufferer, else writhing in pain, is transported with the sweet delirium, but she withholds from the spirit the sight of her divinity until her opportunity has come. Not even Tocqueville or Olmsted, much less the master, can measure the capacities and possibilities of the slave, until the slave himself is transmuted to a man.

My recent visit to Port Royal extended from March 25th to May 10th. It was pleasant to meet the first colonists, who still toiled at their posts, and specially grateful to receive the welcome of the freedmen, and to note the progress they had made. There were interesting scenes to fill the days. I saw an aged negro, Cæsar by name, not less than one hundred years old, who had left children in Africa, when stolen away. The vicissitudes [pg 308] of such a life were striking,—a free savage in the wilds of his native land, a prisoner on a slave-ship, then for long years a toiling slave, now again a freeman under the benign edict of the President,—his life covering an historic century. A faithful and industrious negro, Old Simon, as we called him, hearing of my arrival, rode over to see me, and brought me a present of two or three quarts of pea-nuts and some seventeen eggs. I had an interview with Don Carlos, whom I had seen in May, 1862, at Edisto, the faithful attendant upon Barnard, and who had been both with him and Phillips during their last hours,—now not less than seventy years of age, and early in life a slave in the Alston family, where he had known Theodosia Burr, the daughter of Aaron Burr, and wife of Governor Alston. He talked intelligently upon her personal history and her mysterious fate. He had known John Pierpont, when a teacher in the family of Colonel Alston, and accompanying the sons on their way North to college after the completion of their preparatory studies. Pierpont was a classmate of John C. Calhoum at Yale College, and, upon graduating, went South as a private tutor.

Aunt Phillis was not likely to be overlooked,—an old woman, with much power of expression, living on the plantation where my quarters had formerly been. The attack on Charleston was going on, and she said, "If you're as long beating Secesh everywhere as you have been in taking the town, guess it'll take you some time!" Indeed, the negroes had somewhat less confidence in our power than at first, on account of our not having followed up the capture of Bay Point and Hilton Head. The same quaint old creature, speaking of the disregard of the masters for the feelings of the slaves, said, with much emphasis, "They thought God was dead!"

I visited Barnwell Island, the only plantation upon which is that of Trescot, formerly Secretary of Legation at London, a visit to whom Russell describes in his "Diary." But the mansion is not now as when Russell saw it. Its large library is deposited in the Smithsonian Institution at Washington. Its spacious rooms in the first and second stories, together with the attics, are all filled with the families of negro refugees. From this point, looking across the water, we could see a cavalry-picket of the Rebels. The superintendent who had charge of the plantation, and accompanied me, was Charles Follen, an inherited name, linked with the struggles for freedom in both hemispheres.

The negro graveyards occasionally attracted me from the road. They are usually in an open field, under a clump of some dozen or twenty trees, perhaps live-oaks, and not fenced. There may be fifty or a hundred graves, marked only by sticks eighteen inches or two feet high and about as large as the wrist. Mr. Olmsted saw some stones in a negro graveyard at Savannah, erected by the slaves, and bearing rather illiterate inscriptions; but I never succeeded in finding any but wooden memorials, not even at Beaufort. Only in one case could I find an inscription, and that was in a burial-place on Ladies Island. There was a board at the head of the grave, shaped something like an ordinary gravestone, about three feet high and six inches wide. The inscription was as follows:—

  OLd Jiw
de PArt his
Life on the
  2 of WAY
 Re st frow

On the foot-board were these words:—

 We ll
d OW N.

The rude artist was Kit, the son of the old man. He can read, and also write a little, and, like his deceased father, is a negro preacher. He said that he used to carry his father in his arms in his old age,—that the old man had no pain, and, as the son expressed it, "sunk in years." I inquired of Kit concerning several of the graves; and I found, by his intelligent [pg 309] answers, that their tenants were disposed in families and were known. These lowly burial-places, for which art has done nothing, are not without a fascination, and in some hours of life they take a faster hold on the sentiments than more imposing cemeteries, adorned with shafts of marble and granite, and rich in illustrious dead.

There were some superstitions among the people, perhaps of African origin, which the teachers had detected, such as a belief in hags as evil spirits, and in a kind of witchcraft which only certain persons can cure. They have a superstition, that, when you take up and remove a sleeping child, you must call its spirit, else it will cry, on awaking, until you have taken it back to the same place and invoked its spirit. They believe that turning an alligator on his back will bring rain; and they will not talk about one when in a boat, lest a storm should thereby be brought on.

But the features in the present condition of the freedmen bearing directly on the solution of the social problem deserve most consideration.

And, first, as to education. There are more than thirty schools in the territory, conducted by as many as forty or forty-five teachers, who are commissioned by the three associations in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, and by the American Missionary Association. They have an average attendance of two thousand pupils, and are more or less frequented by an additional thousand. The ages of the scholars range in the main from eight to twelve years. They did not know even their letters prior to a year ago last March, except those who were being taught in the single school at Beaufort already referred to, which had been going on for a few weeks. Very many did not have the opportunity for instruction till weeks and even months after. During the spring and summer of 1862 there were not more than a dozen schools, and these were much interrupted by the heat, and by the necessity of assigning at times some of the teachers to act as superintendents. Teachers came for a brief time, and upon its expiration, or for other cause, returned home, leaving the schools to be broken up. It was not until October or November that the educational arrangements were put into much shape; and they are still but imperfectly organized. In some localities there is as yet no teacher, and this because the associations have not had the funds wherewith to provide one.

I visited ten of the schools, and conversed with the teachers of others. There were, it may be noted, some mixed bloods in the schools of the town of Beaufort,—ten in a school of ninety, thirteen in another of sixty-four, and twenty in another of seventy. In the schools on the plantations there were never more than half a dozen in one school, in some cases but two or three, and in others none.

The advanced classes were reading simple stories and didactic passages in the ordinary school-books, as Hillard's Second Primary Reader, Willson's Second Reader, and others of similar grade. Those who had enjoyed a briefer period of instruction were reading short sentences or learning the alphabet. In several of this schools a class was engaged on an elementary lesson in arithmetic, geography, or writing. The eagerness for knowledge and the facility of acquisition displayed in the beginning had not abated.

On the 25th of March I visited a school at the Central Baptist Church on St. Helena Island, built in 1855, shaded by lofty live-oak trees, with the long, pendulous moss everywhere hanging from their wide-spreading branches, and surrounded by the gravestones of the former proprietors, which bear the ever-recurring names of Fripp and Chaplin. This school was opened in September last, but many of the pupils had received some instruction before. One hundred and thirty-one children were present on my first visit, and one hundred and forty-five on my second, which was a few days later. Like most of the schools on the plantations, it opened at noon and closed at [pg 310] three o'clock, leaving the forenoon for the children to work in the field or perform other service in which they could be useful. One class, of twelve pupils, read page 70th in Willson's Reader, on "Going Away." They had not read the passage before, and they went through it with little spelling or hesitation. They had recited the first thirty pages of Towle's Speller, and the multiplication-table as high as fives, and were commencing the sixes. A few of the scholars, the youngest, or those who had come latest to the school, were learning the alphabet. At the close of the school, they recited in concert the Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd," requiring prompting at the beginning of some of the verses. They sang with much spirit hymns which had been taught them by the teachers, as,—

"My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty";


"Sound the loud timbrel";

also, Whittier's new song, written expressly for this school, the closing stanzas of which are,—

"The very oaks are greener clad,
  The waters brighter smile;
Oh, never shone a day so glad
  On sweet St. Helen's Isle!
"For none in all the world before
  Were ever glad as we,—
We're free on Carolina's shore,
  We're all at home and free!"

Never has that pure Muse, which has sung only of truth and right, as the highest beauty and noblest art, been consecrated to a better service than to write the songs of praise for these little children, chattels no longer, whom the Saviour, were he now to walk on earth, would bless as his own.

The prevalent song, however, heard in every school, in church, and by the way-side, is that of "John Brown," which very much amuses our white soldiers, particularly when the singers roll out,—

"We'll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree!"

The children also sang their own songs, as,—

"In de morning' when I rise,
  Tell my Jesus. Huddy oh?3
In de mornin' when I rise,
  Tell my Jesus, Huddy oh?
"I wash my hands in de mornin' glory,
  Tell my Jesus, Huddy oh?
I wash my hands in de mornin' glory,
  Tell my Jesus, Huddy oh?
"Pray, Tony, pray, boy, you got de order,
  Tell my Jesus, Huddy oh?
Pray, Tony, pray, boy, you got de order,
  Tell my Jesus, Huddy oh?
"Pray, Rosy, pray, gal," etc.


"I would not let you go, my Lord,
  I would not let you go,
I would not let you go, my Lord,
  I would not let you go.
"Dere's room enough, dere's room enough,
  Dere's room enough in de heab'nly groun',
Dere's room enough, dere's room enough,
    I can't stay behin'.
"I can't stay behin', my Lord,
  I can't stay behin',
I can't stay behin', my Lord,
  I can't stay behin'.
"De angels march all roun' de trone,
De angels march all roun' de trone,
De angels march all roun' de trone,
    I can't stay behin'.
"I can't stay behin', my Lord.
  I can't stay behin',
I can't stay behin', my Lord,
  I can't stay behin'.
"Dere's room enough," etc.

Other songs of the negroes are common, as, "The Wrestling Jacob," "Down in the lonesome valley," "Roll, Jordan, roll," "Heab'n shall-a be my home." Russell's "Diary" gives an account of these songs, as he heard them in his evening row over Broad River, on his way to Trescot's estate.

One of the teachers of this school is an accomplished woman from Philadelphia, [pg 311] Another is from Newport, Rhode Island, where she had prepared herself for this work by benevolent labors in teaching poor children. The third is a young woman of African descent, of olive complexion, finely cultured, and attuned to all beautiful sympathies, of gentle address, and, what was specially noticeable, not possessed with an overwrought consciousness of her race. She had read the best books, and naturally and gracefully enriched her conversation with them. She had enjoyed the friendship of Whittier; had been a pupil in the Grammar-School of Salem, then in the State Normal School in that city, then a teacher in one of the schools for white children, where she had received only the kindest treatment both from the pupils and their parents,—and let this be spoken to the honor of that ancient town. She had refused a residence in Europe, where a better social life and less unpleasant discrimination awaited her, for she would not dissever herself from the fortunes of her people; and now, not with a superficial sentiment, but with a profound purpose, she devotes herself to their elevation.

At Coffin Point, on St. Helena Island, I visited a school kept by a young woman from the town of Milton, Massachusetts, "the child of parents passed into the skies," whose lives have both been written for the edification of the Christian world. She teaches two schools, at different hours in the afternoon, and with different scholars in each. One class had read through Hillard's Second Primary Reader, and were on a review, reading Lessons 19, 20, and 21, while I was present. Being questioned as to the subjects of the lessons, they answered intelligently. They recited the twos of the multiplication-table, explained numeral letters and figures on the blackboard, and wrote letters and figures on slates. Another teacher in the adjoining district, a graduate of Harvard, and the son of a well-known Unitarian clergyman of Providence, Rhode Island, has two schools, in one of which a class of three pupils was about finishing Ellsworth's First Progressive Reader, and another, of seven pupils, had just finished Hillard's Second Primary Header. Another teacher, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the same island, numbers one hundred pupils in his two schools. He exercises a class in elocution, requiring the same sentence to be repeated with different tones and inflections, and one could not but remark the excellent imitations.

In a school at St. Helena village, where were collected the Edisto refugees, ninety-two pupils were present as I went in. Two ladies were engaged in teaching, assisted by Ned Loyd White, a colored man, who had picked up clandestinely a knowledge of reading while still a slave. One class of boys and another of girls read in the seventh chapter of St. John, having begun this Gospel and gone thus far. They stumbled a little on words like "unrighteousness" and "circumcision"; otherwise they got along very well. When the Edisto refugees were brought here, in July, 1862, Ned, who is about forty or forty-five years old, and Uncle Cyrus, a man of seventy, who also could read, gathered one hundred and fifty children into two schools, and taught them as best they could for five months until teachers were provided by the societies. Ned has since received a donation from one of the societies, and is now regularly employed on a salary. A woman comes to one of the teachers of this school for instruction in the evening, after she has put her children to bed. She had become interested in learning by hearing her younger sister read when she came home from school; and when she asked to be taught, she had learned from this sister the alphabet and some words of one syllable. Only a small proportion of the adults are, however, learning.

On the 8th of April, I visited a school on Ladies Island, kept in a small church on the Eustis estate, and taught by a young woman from Kingston, Massachusetts. She had manifested much persistence in going to this field, went with the [pg 312] first delegation, and still keeps the school which she opened in March, 1862. She taught the pupils their letters. Sixty-six were present on the day of my visit. A class of ten pupils read the story which commences on page 86th of Hillard's Second Primary Reader. One girl, Elsie, a full black, and rather ungainly withal, read so rapidly that she had to be checked,—the only case of such fast reading that I found. She assisted the teacher by taking the beginners to a corner of the room and exercising them upon an alphabet card, requiring them to give the names of letters taken out of their regular order, and with the letters making words, which they were expected to repeat after her. One class recited in Eaton's First Lessons in Arithmetic; and two or three scholars with a rod pointed out the states, lakes, and large rivers on the map of the United States, and also the different continents on the map of the world, as they were called. I saw the teacher of this school at her residence, late in the afternoon, giving familiar instruction to some ten boys and girls, all but two being under twelve years, who read the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation, and the story of Lazarus in the eleventh chapter of St. John. Elsie was one of these. Seeing me taking notes, she looked archly at the teacher, and whispered,—"he's putting me in the book"; and as Elsie guessed, so I do. The teacher was instructing her pupils in some dates and facts which have had much to do with our history. The questions and answers, in which all the pupils joined, were these:—

"Where were slaves first brought to this country?"




"Who brought them?"


"Who came the same year to Plymouth, Massachusetts?"


"Did they bring slaves?"


A teacher in Beaufort put these questions, to which answers were given in a loud tone by the whole school:—

"What country do you live in?"

"United States."

"What State?"

"South Carolina."

"What island?"

"Port Royal."

"What town?"


"Who is your Governor?"

"General Saxton."

"Who is your President?"

"Abraham Lincoln."

"What has he done for you?"

"He's freed us."

There were four schools in the town of Beaufort, all of which I visited, each having an average attendance of from sixty to ninety pupils, and each provided with two teachers. In some of them writing was taught. But it is unnecessary to describe them, as they were very much like the others. There is, besides, at Beaufort an industrial school, which meets two afternoons in a week, and is conducted by a lady from New York, with some dozen ladies to assist her. There were present, the afternoon I visited it, one hundred and thirteen girls from six to twenty years of age, all plying the needle, some with pieces of patchwork, and others with aprons, pillow-cases, or handkerchiefs.

Though I have never been on the school-committee, I accepted invitations to address the schools on these visits, and particularly plied the pupils with questions, so as to catch the tone of their minds; and I have rarely heard children answer with more readiness and spirit. We had a dialogue substantially as follows:—

"Children, what are you going to do when you grow up?"

"Going to work, Sir."

"On what?"

"Cotton and corn, Sir."

"What are you going to do with the corn?" [pg 313] "Eat it."

"What are you going to do with the cotton?"

"Sell it."

"What are you going to do with the money you get for it?"

One boy answered in advance of the rest,—

"Put it in my pocket, Sir."

"That won't do. What's better than that?"

"Buy clothes, Sir."

"What else will you buy?"

"Shoes, Sir."

"What else are you going to do with your money?"

There was some hesitation at this point. Then the question was put,—

"What are you going to do Sundays?"

"Going to meeting."

"What are you going to do there?"

"Going to sing."

"What else?"

"Hear the parson."

"Who's going to pay him?"

One boy said,—"Government pays him"; but the rest answered,—

"We's pays him."

"Well, when you grow up, you'll probably get married, as other people do, and you'll have your little children; now, what will you do with them?"

There was a titter at this question; but the general response came,—

"Send 'em to school, Sir."

"Well, who'll pay the teacher?"

"We's pays him."

One who listens to such answers can hardly think that there is any natural incapacity in these children to acquire with maturity of years the ideas and habits of good citizens.

The children are cheerful, and, in most of the schools, well-behaved, except that it is not easy to keep them from whispering and talking. They are joyous, and you can see the boys after school playing the soldier, with corn-stalks for guns. The memory is very susceptible in them,—too much so, perhaps, as it is ahead of the reasoning faculty.

The labor of the season has interrupted attendance on the schools, the parents being desirous of having the children aid them in planting and cultivating their crops, and it not being thought best to allow the teaching to interfere in any way with industrious habits.

A few freedmen, who had picked up an imperfect knowledge of reading, have assisted our teachers, though a want of proper training materially detracts from their usefulness in this respect. Ned and Uncle Cyrus have already been mentioned. The latter, a man of earnest piety, has died since my visit. Anthony kept four schools on Hilton Head Island last summer and autumn, being paid at first by the superintendents, and afterwards by the negroes themselves; but in November he enlisted in the negro regiment. Hettie was another of these. She assisted Barnard at Edisto last spring, continued to teach after the Edisto people were brought to St. Helena village, and one day brought some of her pupils to the school at the Baptist Church, saying to the teachers there that she could carry them no farther. They could read their letters and words of one syllable. Hettie had belonged to a planter on Wadmelaw Island, a kind old gentleman, a native of Rhode Island, and about the only citizen of Charleston who, when Samuel Hoar went on his mission to South Carolina, stood up boldly for his official and personal protection. Hettie had been taught to read by his daughter; and let this be remembered to the honor of the young woman.

Such are the general features of the schools as they met my eye. The most advanced classes, and these are but little ahead of the rest, can read simple stories and the plainer passages of Scripture; and they could even pursue self-instruction, if the schools were to be suspended. The knowledge they have thus gained can never be extirpated. They could read with much profit a newspaper specially prepared for them and adapted to their condition. They are learning that the world is not bounded north [pg 314] by Charleston, south by Savannah, west by Columbia, and east by the sea, with dim visions of New York on this planet or some other,—about their conception of geography when we found them. They are acquiring the knowledge of figures with which to do the business of life. They are singing the songs of freemen. Visit their schools; remember that a little more than a twelve-month ago they knew not a letter, and that for generations it has been a crime to teach their race; then contemplate what is now transpiring, and you have a scene which prophets and sages would have delighted to witness. It will be difficult to find equal progress in an equal period since the morning rays of Christian truth first lighted the hill-sides of Judea. I have never looked on St. Peter's, or beheld the glories of art which Michel Angelo has wrought or traced; but to my mind the spectacle of those poor souls struggling in darkness and bewilderment to catch the gleams of the upper and better light transcends in moral grandeur anything that has ever come from mortal hands.

Next as to industry. The laborers, during their first year under the new system, have acquired the idea of ownership, and of the security of wages, and have come to see that labor and slavery are not the same thing. The notion that they were to raise no more cotton has passed away, since work upon it is found to be remunerative, and connected with the proprietorship of land. House-servants, who were at first particularly set against it, now generally prefer it. The laborers have collected the pieces of the gins which they destroyed on the flight of their masters, the ginning being obnoxious work, repaired them, and ginned the cotton on the promise of wages. Except upon plantations in the vicinity of camps, where other labor is more immediately remunerative, and an unhealthy excitement prevails, there is a general disposition to cultivate it. The culture of the cotton is voluntary, the only penalty for not engaging in it being the imposition of a rent for the tenement and land adjacent thereto occupied by the negro, not exceeding two dollars per month. Both the Government and private individuals, who have become owners of one-fourth of the land by the recent tax-sales, pay twenty-five cents for a standard day's-work, which may, by beginning early, be performed by a healthy and active hand by noon; and the same was the case with the tasks under the slave-system on very many of the plantations. As I was riding through one of Mr. Philbrick's fields one morning, I counted fifty persons at work who belonged to one plantation. This gentleman, who went out with the first delegation, and at the same time gave largely to the benevolent contributions for the enterprise, was the leading purchaser at the tax-sales, and combining a fine humanity with honest sagacity and close calculation, no man is so well fitted to try the experiment. He bought thirteen plantations, and on these has had planted and cultivated eight hundred and sixteen acres of cotton where four hundred and ninety-nine and one twelve-hundredth acres were cultivated last year,—a larger increase, however, than will generally be found in other districts, due mainly to prompter payments. The general superintendent of Port Royal Wand said to me,—"We have to restrain rather than to encourage the negroes to take land for cotton." The general superintendent of Hilton Head Island said, that on that island the negroes had, besides adequate corn, taken two, three, and in a few cases four acres of cotton to a hand, and there was a general disposition to cultivate it, except near the camps. A superintendent on St. Helena Island said, that, if he were going to carry on any work, he should not want bettor laborers. He had charge of the refugees from Edisto, who had been brought to St. Helena village, and who had cleared and fenced patches for gardens, felling the trees for that purpose.

The laborers do less work, perhaps, than a Yankee would think they might [pg 315] do; but they do about as much as he himself would do, after a residence of a few years in the same climate, and when he had ceased to work under the influence of Northern habits. Northern men have sometimes been unjust to the South, when comparing the results of labor in the different sections. God never intended that a man should toil under a tropical sun with the same energy and constancy as in our bracing latitude. There has been less complaint this year than last of "a pain in the small of the back," or of "a fever in the head,"—in other words, less shamming. The work has been greatly deranged by the draft, some features of which have not been very skilfully arranged, and by the fitfulness with which the laborers have been treated by the military authorities. The work both upon the cotton and the corn is done only by the women, children, and disabled men. It has been suggested that field-work does not become women in the new condition; and so it may seem to some persons of just sympathies who have not yet learned that no honest work is dishonorable in man or woman. But this matter may be left to regulate itself. Field-work, as an occupation, may not be consistent with the finest feminine culture or the most complete womanliness; but it in no way conflicts with virtue, self-respect, and social development. Women work in the field in Switzerland, the freest country of Europe; and we may look with pride on the triumphs of this generation, when the American negroes become the peers of the Swiss peasantry. Better a woman with the hoe than without it, when she is not yet fitted for the needle or the book.

The negroes were also showing their capacity to organize labor and apply capital to it. Harry, to whom I referred in my second report, as "my faithful guide and attendant, who had done for me more service than any white man could render," with funds of his own, and some borrowed money, bought at the recent tax-sales a small farm of three hundred and thirteen acres for three hundred and five dollars. He was to plant sixteen and a half acres of cotton, twelve and a half of corn, and one and a half of potatoes. I rode through his farm on the 10th of April, my last day in the territory, and one-third of his crop was then in. Besides some servant's duty to an officer, for which he is well paid, he does the work of a full hand on his place. He hires one woman and two men, one of the latter being old and only a three-quarters hand. He has two daughters, sixteen and seventeen years of age, one of whom is likewise only a three-quarters hand. His wife works also, of whom he said, "She's the best hand I got"; and if Celia is only as smart with her hoe as I know her to be with her tongue, Harry's estimate must be right. He has a horse twenty-five years old and blind in both eyes, whom he guides with a rope,—carrying on farming, I thought, somewhat under difficulties. Harry lives in the house of the former overseer, and delights, though not boastingly, in his position as a landed proprietor. He has promised to write me, or rather dictate a letter, giving an account of the progress of his crop. He has had much charge of Government property, and when Captain Hooper, of General Saxton's staff, was coming North last autumn, Harry proposed to accompany him; but at last, of his own accord, gave up the project, saying, "It'll not do for all two to leave together."

Another case of capacity for organization should be noted. The Government is building twenty-one houses for the Edisto people, eighteen feet by fourteen, with two rooms, each provided with a swinging board-window, and the roof projecting a little as a protection from rain. The journey-carpenters are seventeen colored men, who have fifty cents per day without rations, working ten hours. They are under the direction of Frank Barnwell, a freedman, who receives twenty dollars a month. Rarely have I talked with a more intelligent contractor. It was my great regret that I had not time to visit the village of [pg 316] improved houses near the Hilton Head camp, which General Mitchell had extemporized, and to which he gave so much of the noble enthusiasm of his last days.

Next as to the development of manhood. This has been shown, in the first place, in the prevalent disposition to acquire land. It did not appear upon our first introduction to these people, and they did not seem to understand us when we used to tell them that we wanted them to own land. But it is now an active desire. At the recent tax-sales, six out of forty-seven plantations sold were bought by them, comprising two thousand five hundred and ninety-five acres, sold for twenty-one hundred and forty-five dollars. In other cases the negroes had authorized the superintendent to bid for them, but the land was reserved by the United States. One of the purchases was that made by Harry, noted above. The other five were made by the negroes on the plantations combining the funds they had saved from the sale of their pigs, chickens, and eggs, and from the payments made to them for work,—they then dividing off the tract peaceably among themselves. On one of these, where Kit, before mentioned, is the leading spirit, there are twenty-three field-hands, who are equivalent to eighteen full hands. They have planted and are cultivating sixty-three acres of cotton, fifty of corn, six of potatoes, with as many more to be planted, four and a half of cow-peas, three of pea-nuts, and one and a half of rice. These facts are most significant. The instinct for land—to have one spot on earth where a man may stand, and whence no human being can of right drive him—is one of the most conservative elements of our nature; and a people who have it in any fair degree will never be nomads or vagabonds.

This developing manhood is further seen in their growing consciousness of rights, and their readiness to defend themselves, even when assailed by white men. The former slaves of a planter, now at Beaufort, who was a resident of New York when the war broke out, have generally left the plantation, suspicious of his presence, saying that they will not be his bondmen, and fearing that in some way he may hold them, if they remain on it. A remarkable case of the assertion of rights occurred one day during my visit. Two white soldiers, with a corporal, went on Sunday to Coosaw Island, where one of the soldiers, having a gun, shot a chicken belonging to a negro. The negroes rushed out and wrested the gun from the corporal, to whom the soldier had handed it, thinking that the negroes would not take it from an officer. They then carried it to the superintendent, who took it to head-quarters, where an order was given for the arrest of the trespasser. Other instances might be added, but these are sufficient.

Another evidence of developing manhood appears in their desire for the comforts and conveniences of household life. The Philadelphia society, for the purpose of maintaining reasonable prices, has a store on St. Helena Island, which is under the charge of Friend Hunn, of the good fellowship of William Penn. He was once fined in Delaware three thousand dollars for harboring and assisting fugitive slaves; but he now harbors and assists them at a much cheaper rate. Though belonging to a society which is the advocate of peace, his tone is quite as warlike as that of the world's people. In this store alone—and there are others on the island, carried on by private enterprise—two thousand dollars' worth of goods are sold monthly. To be sure, a rather large proportion of these consists of molasses and sugar, "sweetening," as the negroes call it, being in great demand, and four barrels of molasses having been sold the day of my visit. But there is also a great demand for plates, knives, forks, tin ware, and better clothing, including even hoop-skirts. Negro-cloth, as it is called, osnaburgs, russet-colored shoes,—in short, the distinctive apparel formerly dealt out to them, as a uniform allowance,—are very generally rejected. But there is no article of household-furniture or wearing apparel, used [pg 317] by persons of moderate means among us, which they will not purchase, when they are allowed the opportunity of labor and earning wages. What a market the South would open under the new system! It would set all the mills and workshops astir. Four millions of people would become purchasers of all the various articles of manufacture and commerce, in place of the few coarse, simple necessaries, laid in for them in gross by the planters. Here is the solution of the vexed industrial question. The indisposition to labor is overcome in a healthy nature by instincts and motives of superior force, such as the love of life, the desire to be well clothed and fed, the sense of security derived from provision for the future, the feeling of self-respect, the love of family and children, and the convictions of duty. These all exist in the negro, in a state of greater or less development. To give one or two examples. One man brought Captain Hooper seventy dollars in silver, to keep for him, which he had obtained from selling pigs and chickens,—thus providing for the future. Soldiers of Colonel Higginson's regiment, having confidence in the same officer, intrusted him, when they were paid off, with seven hundred dollars, to be transmitted by him to their wives, and this besides what they had sent home in other ways,—showing the family-feeling to be active and strong in them. They have also the social and religious inspirations to labor. Thus, early in our occupation of Hilton Head, they took up, of their own accord, a collection to pay for the candles for their evening meetings, feeling that it was not right for the Government longer to provide them. The result was a contribution of two dollars and forty-eight cents. They had just fled from their masters, and had received only a small pittance of wages, and this little sum was not unlike the two mites which the widow cast into the treasury. Another collection was taken, last June, in the church on St. Helena Island, upon the suggestion of the pastor that they should share in the expenses of worship. Fifty-two dollars was the result,—not a bad collection for some of our Northern churches. I have seen these people where they are said to be lowest, and sad indeed are some features of their lot, yet with all earnestness and confidence I enter my protest against the wicked satire of Carlyle.

Is there not here some solution of the question of prejudice or caste which has troubled so many good minds? When these people can no longer be used as slaves, men will try to see how they can make the most out of them as freemen. Your Irishman, who now works as a day-laborer, honestly thinks that he hates the negro; but when the war is over, he will have no objection to going South and selling him groceries and household-implements at fifty per cent. advance on New-York prices, or to hiring him to raise cotton for twenty-five or fifty cents a day. Our prejudices, under any reasonable adjustment of the social system, readily accommodate themselves to our interests, even without much aid from the moral sentiments.

Let those who would study well this social question, or who in public trusts are charged with its solution, be most careful here. Every motive in the minds of these people, whether of instinct, desire, or duty, must be addressed. All the elements of human nature must be appealed to, physical, moral, intellectual, social, and religious. Imperfect indeed is any system which, like that at New Orleans, offers wages, but does not welcome the teacher. It is of little moment whether three dollars or thirty per month be paid the laborer, so long as there is no school to bind both parent and child to civil society with new hopes and duties.

There are some vices charged upon these people, or a portion of them, and truth requires that nothing be withheld. There is said to be a good deal of petty pilfering among them, although they are faithful to trusts. This is the natural growth of the old system, and is quite [pg 318] likely to accompany the transition-state. Besides, the present disturbed and unorganized condition of things is not favorable to the rigid virtues. But inferences from this must not be pressed too far. When I was a private soldier in Virginia, as one of a three-months' regiment, we used to bide from each other our little comforts and delicacies, even our dishes and clothing, or they were sure to disappear. But we should have ridiculed an adventurous thinker upon the characteristics of races and classes, who should have leaped therefrom to the conclusion that all white men or all soldiers are thieves. And what inferences might not one draw, discreditable to all traders and manufacturers, from the universal adulteration of articles of food! These people, it is said, are disposed to falsehood in order to get rations and small benefits,—a natural vice which comes with slavery, and too often attends on poverty without slavery. Those of most demonstrative piety are rarely better than the rest, not, indeed, hypocritical, but satisfying their consciences by self-depreciation and indulgence in emotion,—psychological manifestations which one may find in more advanced communities. They show no special gratitude to us for liberating them from bonds. Nor do they ordinarily display much exhilaration over their new condition,—being quite unlike the Italian revolutionist who used to put on his toga, walk in the forum, and personate Brutus and Cassius. Their appreciation of their better lot is chiefly seen in their dread of a return of their masters, in their excitement when an attack is feared, in their anxious questionings while the assault on Charleston was going on, and in their desire to get their friends and relatives away from the Rebels,—an appreciation of freedom, if not ostentatious, at least sensible.

But away with such frivolous modes of dealing with the rights of races to self-development! Because Englishmen may be classified as hard and conceited, Frenchmen as capricious, Austrians as dull, and the people of one other nation are sometimes thought to be vainglorious, shall these therefore be slaves? And where is that model race which shall sway them all? A people may have grave defects, but it may not therefore be rightfully disabled.

During my recent visit, I had an opportunity, on three different occasions, to note carefully Colonel T.W. Higginson's colored regiment, known as the First Regiment of South-Carolina Volunteers. Major-General Hunter's first regiment was mainly made up of conscripts, drafted May 12th, 1862, and disbanded August 11th, three months afterwards, there being no funds wherewith to pay them, and the discharged men going home to find the cotton and corn they had planted overgrown with weeds. On the 10th of October, General Saxton, being provided with competent authority to raise five thousand colored troops, began to recruit a regiment. His authority from the War Department bore date August 25th, and the order conferring it states the object to be "to guard the plantations, and protect the inhabitants from captivity and murder." This was the first clear authority ever given by the Government to raise a negro regiment in this war. There were, indeed, some ambiguous words in the instructions of Secretary Cameron to General Sherman, when the original expedition went to Port Royal, authorizing him to organize the negroes into companies and squads for such services as they might be fitted for, but this not to mean a general arming for military service. Secretary Stanton, though furnishing muskets and red trousers to General Hunter's regiment, did not think the authority sufficient to justify the payment of the regiment. The first regiment, as raised by General Saxton, numbered four hundred and ninety-nine men when Colonel Higginson took command of it on the 1st of December; and on the 19th of January, 1863, it had increased to eight hundred and forty-nine. It has made three expeditions to Florida and Georgia,—one before Colonel Higginson assumed [pg 319] the command, described in Mrs. Stowe's letter to the women of England, and two under Colonel Higginson, one of which was made in January up the St. Mary's, and the other in March to Jacksonville, which it occupied for a few days until an evacuation was ordered from head-quarters. The men are volunteers, having been led to enlist by duty to their race, to their kindred still in bonds, and to us, their allies. Their drill is good, and their time excellent. They have borne themselves well in their expeditions, quite equalling the white regiments in skirmishing. In morale they seemed very much like white men, and with about the same proportion of good and indifferent soldiers. Some I saw of the finest metal, like Robert Sutton, whom Higginson describes in his report as "the real conductor of the whole expedition at the St. Mary's," and Sergeant Hodges, a master-carpenter, capable of directing the labors of numerous journeymen. Another said, addressing a meeting at Beaufort, that he had been restless, nights, thinking of the war and of his people,—that, when he heard of the regiment being formed, he felt that his time to act had come, and that it was his duty to enlist,—that he did not fight for his rations and pay, but for wife, children, and people.

These men, as already intimated, are very much like other men, easily depressed, and as easily reanimated by words of encouragement. Many have been reluctant to engage in military service,—their imagination investing it with the terrors of instant and certain death. But this reluctance has passed away with participation in active service, with the adventure and inspiration of a soldier's life, and the latent manhood has recovered its rightful sway. Said a superintendent who was of the first delegation to Tort Royal in March, 1862,—a truthful man, and not given to rose-colored views,—"I did not have faith in arming negroes, when I visited the North last autumn, but I have now. They will be not mere machines, but real tigers, when aroused; and I should not wish to face them." One amusing incident may be mentioned. A man deserted from the regiment, was discovered hidden in a chimney in the district where he had lived, was taken back to camp, went to Florida in Higginson's first expedition, bore his part well in the skirmishes, became excited with the service, was made a sergeant, and, receiving a furlough on his return, went to the plantation where he had hid, and said he would not take five thousand dollars for his place.

But more significant, as showing the success of the experiment, is the change of feeling among the white soldiers towards the negro regiment, a change due in part to the just policy of General Saxton, in part to the President's Proclamation of January 1st, which has done much to clear the atmosphere everywhere within the army-lines, but more than all to the soldierly conduct of the negroes themselves during their expeditions. I had one excellent opportunity to note this change. On the 6th of April, Colonel Higginson's regiment was assigned to picket-duty on Port Royal Island,—the first active duty it had performed on the Sea Islands,—and was to relieve the Pennsylvania Fifty-Fifth. When, after a march of ten miles, it reached the advanced picket-station, there were about two hundred soldiers of the Pennsylvania Fifty-Fifth awaiting orders to proceed to Beaufort. I said, in a careless tone, to one of the Pennsylvania soldiers, who was looking at Higginson's regiment as it stood in line,—

"Isn't this rather new, to be relieved by a negro regiment?"

"All right," said he. "They've as much right to fight for themselves as I have to fight for them."

A squad of half a dozen men stood by, making no dissent, and accepting him as their spokesman. Moving in another direction, I said to a soldier,—

"What do you think of that regiment?"

The answer was,—

"All right. I'd rather they'd shoot [pg 320] the Rebels than have the Rebels shoot me"; and none of the by-standers dissented.

As one of the negro companies marched off the field to picket a station at the Ferry, they passed within a few feet of some twenty of the Pennsylvania soldiers, just formed into line preparatory to marching to Beaufort. The countenances of the latter, which I watched, exhibited no expression of disgust, dislike, or disapprobation, only of curiosity. Other white soldiers gave to the weary negroes the hominy left from the morning meal. The Major of the Fifty-Fifth, highest in command of the relieved regiment, explained very courteously to Colonel Higginson the stations and duties of the pickets, and proffered any further aid desired. This was, it is true, an official duty, but there are more ways than one in which to perform even an official duty. I rode back to Beaufort, part of the way, in company with a captain of the First Massachusetts Cavalry, who was the officer of the day. He said "he wasn't much of a negro-man, but he had no objection to their doing our fighting." He pronounced the word as spelled with two gs; but I prefer to retain the good English. Colonel Montgomery, who had a partly filled regiment, most of whom were conscripts, said that on his return from Jacksonville he sent a squad of his men ashore in charge of some prisoners he had taken. Some white soldiers seeing them approach from the wharf, one said,—

"What are those coming?"

"Negro soldiers," (word pronounced as in the former case,) was the answer.

"Damn 'em!" was the ejaculation.

But as they approached nearer, "What have they got with 'em?" was inquired.

"Why, some Secesh prisoners."

"Bully for the negroes!" (the same pronunciation as before,) was then the response from all.

So quick was the transition, when it was found that the negroes had demonstrated their usefulness! It is, perhaps, humiliating to remember that such an unreasonable and unpatriotic prejudice has at any time existed; but it is never worth while to suppress the truth of history. This prejudice has been effectually broken in the Free States; and one of the pageants of this epoch was the triumphal march through Boston, on the 28th of May, on its way to embark for Port Royal, of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, the first regiment of negro soldiers which the Free States have sent to the war. On the day previous, May 27th, a far different scene transpired on the banks of the Mississippi. Two black regiments, enlisted some months before in Louisiana under the order of Major-General Butler, both with line and one with field officers of their own lineage, made charge after charge on the batteries of Port Hudson, and were mown down like summer's grass, the survivors, many with mutilated limbs, closing up the thinned ranks and pressing on again, careless of life, and mindful only of honor and duty, with a sublimity of courage unsurpassed in the annals of war, and leaving there to all mankind an immortal record for themselves and their race.

I cannot here forbear a momentary tribute to Wentworth Higginson. Devoting himself heroically to his great work, absorbed in its duties, and bearing his oppressive responsibility as the leader of a regiment in which to a great extent are now involved the fortunes of a race, he adds another honorable name to the true chivalry of our time.

Homeward-bound, I stopped for two days at Fortress Monroe, and was again among the familiar scenes of my soldier-life. It was there that Major-General Butler, first of all the generals in the army of the Republic, and anticipating even Republican statesmen, had clearly pointed to the cause of the war. At Craney Island I met two accomplished women of the Society of Friends, who, on a most cheerless spot, and with every inconvenience, were teaching the children of the freedmen. Two good men, [pg 321] one at the fort and the other at Norfolk, were distributing the laborers on farms in the vicinity, and providing them with implements and seeds which the benevolent societies had furnished. Visiting Hampton, I recognized, in the shanties built upon the charred ruins, the familiar faces of those who, in the early days of the war, had been for a brief period under my charge. Their hearty greetings to one whom they remembered as the first to point them to freedom and cheer them with its prospect could hardly be received without emotion. But there is no time to linger over these scenes.

Such are some of the leading features in the condition of the freedmen, particularly at Port Royal. The enterprise for their aid, begun in doubt, is no longer a bare hope or possibility. It is a fruition and a consummation. The negroes will work for a living. They will fight for their freedom. They are adapted to civil society. As a people, they are not exempt from the frailties of our common humanity, nor from the vices which hereditary bondage always superadds to these. As it is said to take three generations to subdue a freeman completely to a slave, so it may not be possible in a single generation to restore the pristine manhood. One who expects to find in emancipated slaves perfect men and women, or to realize in them some fair dream of an ideal race, will meet disappointment; but there is nothing in their nature or condition to daunt the Christian patriot; rather, there is everything to cheer and fortify his faith. They have shown capacity for knowledge, for free industry, for subordination to law and discipline, for soldierly fortitude, for social and family relations, for religious culture and aspirations; and these qualities, when stirred and sustained by the incitements and rewards of a just society, and combining with the currents of our continental civilization, will, under the guidance of a benevolent Providence which forgets neither them nor us, make them a constantly progressive race, and secure them ever after from the calamity of another enslavement, and ourselves from the worse calamity of being again their oppressors.


I watched her at her spinning;
And this was my beginning
Of wooing and of winning.
But when a maid opposes,
And throws away your roses,
You say the case forecloses.
Yet sorry wit one uses,
Who loves and thinks he loses
Because a maid refuses.
For by her once denying
She only means complying
Upon a second trying.
[pg 322]
When first I said, in pleading,
"Behold, my love lies bleeding!"
She heard me half unheeding.
When afterward I told her,
And blamed her growing colder,—
She dropped upon my shoulder.
Had I a doubt? That quelled it:
Her very look dispelled it,
I caught her hand, and held it.
Along the lane I led her,
And while her cheeks grew redder,
I sued outright to wed her.
Good end from bad beginning!
My wooing came to winning,—
And still I watch her spinning.



The service I was able to render an official personage connected with —— College in New England procured me access to the library belonging to that institution. In common with many of my fellow-citizens, I had previously enjoyed the pleasure of responding to circulars petitioning for money to buy books for interment in this choice literary catacomb; nay, I was even allowed the satisfaction of an annual stare at them through an iron grating, and of reading a placard to the effect that nobody was allowed to enter an alcove or take down a volume. As it occurred to me that the generous donors could not object to add one more to the select half-dozen or so, who, by having the privilege of the shelves, could really use the library, I demanded this favor of the gentleman who desired to recompense me for what I had done for him. The Librarian, who valued books as things capable of being locked up in cells like criminals, there to figure numerically to the confusion of rival institutions, was manifestly disturbed when I presented my credentials. The authority, however, was not to be questioned;—I was to be admitted to the library at any hour of the day; and I took care to drop a civil expression to imply my estimation of the privilege and my purpose of enjoying it.

Wanting the leisure to attempt that ponderous undertaking known as "a course of reading," it became my habit to browse about the building upon Saturday afternoons, and finally to establish myself, with whatever authors I had selected, in a certain retired alcove devoted to the metaphysicians. This comfortable nook opens just behind Crawford's bust of the late President T——, and is nearly opposite the famous Mather Safe. As it is possible that I am addressing some who are not graduates of —— College, nor familiar with its library, it may be well to say a word of the history of the spacious [pg 323] and ancient coffer to which allusion is made.

The Mather Safe—which, by the way, is not of iron, but of oak heavily bound with that metal—is said to have been among the possessions of the author of the "Magnalia." Its last private proprietor was a collateral descendant of the Mathers, an eccentric character, popularly known as Miser Farrel. As Farrel was a bachelor, and had the reputation of being enormously rich, the College authorities of his day were accustomed to treat him with distinguished consideration, and went so far, I believe, as to vote him some minor degree. What effect these academic blandishments may have had upon their object cannot at present be determined. For when the day came for the long-expected will to be opened, it was found that the old gentleman had bequeathed to the College only his Mather Safe, with certain papers carefully let into the wood-work in one corner of the same,—which papers were not to be removed or opened for a hundred years.

It may be conceived that this bulky benefaction was not accepted with the best grace, particularly as the testator made no provision for considerable expense necessarily incurred in moving and setting it up in the library. Yet, not satisfied with this culpable negligence, Mr. Farrel had affixed still other conditions to the acceptance of his gift. He had caused two massive locks to be put upon the Mather Safe, of which he enjoined that the respective keys should be forever held by the President and Treasurer of the College, to the end that neither could have access to its contents except in the presence of the other. Moreover, he required that the Safe should be used only as a receptacle for packages which the depositors desired to keep from the world for at least fifty years. Of course no right-minded corporation would have endured this posthumous fussiness, were it not for the mysterious papers left in the Safe,—these being considered instruments whereby immense possessions would finally come to the College. But, as their worthy friend, however niggardly in other respects, had taken care to save nothing in lawyers, there were really no means of disregarding his wishes, except by relinquishing all claims under the will. And so, many years ago, the Mather Safe came to be opened to the public on the conditions already declared. At first, it was matter of surprise that so many persons appeared to claim the privilege of Farrel's singular legacy. Carefully enveloped packages had been consigned to various periods of oblivion by all conditions of men and women. These were numbered and registered in a volume kept for the purpose; they were severally addressed, perhaps to a specified descendant of some living person, perhaps to the future occupant of some professor's chair or metropolitan pulpit.

It was near the Mather Safe, as I have already said, that my favorite alcove opened. In the short winter afternoon, when the twilight thickened without the building, and the type began to blur within, I would lay aside my book and muse over wild rumors of secrets borne by this messenger between the generations. Journals and letters, it was said, were there concealed, which should change the current gossip of history, and explode many bubble-reputations that had glittered on the world. There were hints of deadly sins, committed by men high in Church and State, which their perpetrators lacked the courage to confess before their fellows, but which, in the bitterness of remorse, they had recorded in the Mather Safe, to blacken their fame to future times,—thus taking a ghastly satisfaction from the knowledge that they should not always appear as whited sepulchres before men. There was vague talk, also, of funds which had been deposited to found some professorship in the College, to furnish some instruction which the age was not advanced enough to accept. Then, too, there were intimations of endowments to establish scholarships for women, who,—so [pg 324] it was argued,—after the increasing enlightenment of a few score of years, would be admitted to every privilege of culture offered to men. In short, there was matter enough to send a curdling tingle through the blood, as this tough old ark, buffeting slowly through the years, entered its familiar night. If there was deficiency in the testimony which consigned any special wonder to its keeping, there was, doubtless, sufficient truth in common reports to justify the imagination in interpreting misty hieroglyphics of its own device.

During the latter part of a certain August—my family being established at the seaside—I determined to devote a long day to the College Library. The fact was, that a trifling domestic incident—no other than the smoking of a kitchen-chimney—had turned my attention to the conditions of atmospheric changes. Certain phenomena I had observed seemed inconsistent with the law assumed in popular text-books. Indeed, as it appeared to me, modifications of a received theory—which might be determined by a diligent comparison of existing authorities—would suggest a household economy of great practical importance. Certain facts, which must have been noted by all the great voyagers of the world, might give me data from which to establish the suspected conclusion. I accordingly repaired to the library at a very early hour, and labored through the day in collecting and committing to writing what had been observed by many eminent navigators upon the point in question. Four o'clock in the afternoon found me too tired to apply any process of analysis to the observations obtained. I therefore retired to my accustomed seat, took down almost the first book which came to hand, and resigned myself to the impressions of a favorite author. I had passed about an hour in a delicious state of dreamy tranquillity, sometimes reading, sometimes pausing to color the faded page with the brilliant hues of more modern thought, when my attention was attracted by a familiar voice proceeding from the neighborhood of the Mather Safe.

"The President and Treasurer were to have been here at five o'clock."

"I have heard nothing of it," said the Librarian. "I am sure that the President is out of town for the day."

"Strange! strange!" exclaimed the Reverend Mr. Clifton, in a very excited tone. "I wish to make a deposit of great importance in the Mather Safe. I had the assurance that the Safe should be opened at five this afternoon. Here, read the solemn promise upon which I have come from Foxden!"

The Librarian glanced at an open letter which Clifton held out to him, and said, in a quiet manner,—

"The President promises to meet you in the College Library on the afternoon of Thursday, the twenty-fourth instant; to-day is Wednesday, the twenty-third."

"Is it possible?" muttered the clergyman, with a look of startled despair. "Pardon my disturbance. I have been hardly myself for these last weeks. Yet I can wait."

I spoke to Mr. Clifton as he was about to leave the library. He blenched at hearing my voice, and strove to conceal the package beneath his arm.

"How do my good friends in Foxden?" said I, inviting him into my alcove. "Is it true that Dr. Dastick has presented his cabinet of curiosities to the town?"

"What are you reading?" said the clergyman, in a tone of curt authority very foreign to the mild persuasiveness of his usual professional accents.

I exhibited the title of the book: it was the "Meditations of Descartes."

"And do you follow those who vainly seek for truth through the inner world of man, not conforming themselves to the necessities of the outward world and the teachings of Revelation?"

I defended the usefulness of some acquaintance with the original and powerful thinker, whose apologies are certainly profuse enough to satisfy the most orthodox.

[pg 325]

"Yes; I suppose you read Spinoza, Hegel, Fichte, the Atheism of D'Holbach, Utilitarianism Systematized by Auguste Comte! Did you ever go fishing in a dory when the wind was off shore?"

There was an alarm in the eye and manner of Mr. Clifton, a tremulous restlessness in his speech, which warned me to avoid discussion, and endeavor to soothe his agitation. It was only to the last interrogatory, therefore, that I made some light reply.

"The sea sparkles gayly," pursued the clergyman, in the manner of an extemporaneous preacher who strives to catch in a net of decorations some illustration which presents itself,—"the boat tosses on from wave to wave, for dories will sail before the wind. Soon we are miles from shore, and throw the anchor. What auspicious expansion of soul and body! How we slide up and down the backs of great billows, and cast our lines with ever-varying success! But the night comes, and with it the necessity of rowing back against wind and tide. Ah, then how long the lonely ocean-leagues! How distant the time when we may hope to stand confused and giddy upon solid earth! Some never see the land again, but are swept out into the storm and darkness, and are lost,—lost!"

"I presume I understand the significance of your similitude," I replied, a little annoyed at this inopportune indulgence of the pastoral privilege. "You would imply the dangerous tendency of a certain sort of philosophical speculation; and so far we doubtless agree. Yet I ought to say, that, in cases where personal investigation is possible, I would take neither popular clamor nor learned dogmatism as conclusive evidence against any writer's honesty and usefulness. With the vulgar, genius has always seemed a sort of madness; and should a man rise preeminent above the teachers of his generation, his wisdom would appear to them as foolishness."

A change came over the face of Clifton as I said these words. It was as if a mask had fallen. Perchance he had wished to appear to me in that character of instructor which he desired some competent person to assume to him. Now, the relaxed muscles and averted eye only asked the sympathy of an equal. He spoke with forced, and almost grating, utterance.

"Then you have used experience well enough to know that some minds may bear into the world a light, a knowledge too fine for general perception, too pure for even exceptional recognition."

"I fully believe it possible," I said. "Yonder old Safe, if rumor says true, holds many mystic signals which the past and present could address only to the future,—signs meaningless, no doubt, to you or me, but which the freemasonry of higher intelligence shall render plain in the time hereafter."

"And what if I had come," exclaimed Clifton, eagerly,—"what if I had come to add to those deposits which are not for this time, but which may be for other times? What blame to me, if I am here to do this? Should we common men, who find a life full of active duties presented to our acceptance,—should such as we, I say, receive this world as a pageant before which we must sit down and evolve a doctrine? The conceit of external education is at present too strong to acknowledge a divine element radiating from the depths of the soul, and finding in the mind only an awkward and imperfect instrument. Any extravagance is now tolerated, but an extravagance of spirituality; and we find altogether wanting the perception, that, rising from the gross symbols of language, can know the subtile and precious emotion which in a more advanced state of being those symbols might suggest."

As it was evident that Mr. Clifton was laboring under great nervous excitability, I judged it prudent not to question the sequence of what he said, or even demand that it be made intelligible by further explanation. Indeed, I was sufficiently occupied in striving to identify this incomprehensible person with my familiar acquaintance, the pastor of the [pg 326] First Church in Foxden. It occurred to me that something had once been said of Clifton's connection with that topsy-turvy sodality popularly known as "The Transcendentalists." But this was many years ago; and the world always supposed that he had outgrown his early errors, and found, in the liberal theology of New England, a more genuine inspiration. In meeting him in his pastoral relation, I had only remarked that he was one of those men who find it very difficult to resist the social influences into which they may be thrown. This was probably the case even where that influence tended to degrade him from the plane he would have occupied, if left to himself. His spiritual life seemed to lack that vigor and buoyancy so infinitely important to contemplative men. He appeared to be ever yearning for something which should add robustness to his convictions. After a pause of some moments, Clifton again addressed me.

"Recollections of moments, months of excitement, of intense power, have returned! They may not fade again unspoken. You shall know my long-cherished secret. Younger in years, you may scarcely advise; but, at least, you may give sympathy that shall confirm my decision. I have engaged rooms at the neighboring hotel. Come and pass the evening—nay, the night—with me; for much must be read and thought and spoken before the black veil of personality can be lifted between us."

It has already been observed that my family were at the seaside. This circumstance left me sole disposer of my time and localities. How, then, resist the inclination to see out the adventure upon which I had stumbled? Let me credit myself also with a worthier motive: I saw that my companion was in no state to be left to himself,—and, really, there was no mutual friend to whom I could consign him. Accordingly I offered my arm in a manner to imply acquiescence in his proposal.

We soon reached the hotel, and ascended to a room in the remote corner of a spacious wing. Clifton at once turned the key, placed his package upon the table, and proceeded to employ a stray bit of carpet in stopping a ventilator which communicated with the entry. Having satisfied himself that this passage was rendered impervious to sound, he drew two chairs up to the table, motioned me into one, and planted himself in the other with the air of a man, in popular phrase, about to make a night of it.

"Did you ever hear of Herbert Vannelle?" he asked, abruptly.

It can hardly be necessary to say that a substitute is here placed for the name really mentioned.

I replied in the negative, and asked where the gentleman lived.

"He lives nowhere on earth; he is dead,—just dead."

"A friend of yours?"

"A master once; now a presence eluding, haunting, torturing. He left me this manuscript; it is a 'Philosophy of the Absolute.'" (Here Clifton drew from a curiously contrived case of parchment a cluster of pages.) "It has now twenty-two hours to appear in the present century. You shall devote the night to reading it, and tell me that I have acted well."

A sultry August evening, a smoky boarding-house lamp, much skirmishing of mosquitoes, and—a manuscript system of philosophy! The prospect was not inviting. The reading of other people's manuscripts is surely the crucial test of a devoted benevolence. There are few ways in which I am so little ready to oblige my fellow-men. I had, indeed, at times, been induced to inspect sundry romances in blotted embryo; but, as yet, nobody had called upon me with a system of philosophy. Printed philosophy is none too easy reading. But to sit there, under the guardianship of Clifton, and spell out the dim dogmatism of some nebulous fanatic,—of course it was not to be thought of for a moment. With a suave periphrasis of speech I questioned the expediency of the proposition.

[pg 327]

"I shall ring for candles that will burn during the night," said Mr. Clifton, heedless of my expostulation. "Also some refreshment. You take tea, I suppose? You shall read the first ten pages of Vannelle's writing. It is possible you may exercise self-control enough to abandon it unfinished. But you will not sleep tonight."

There was a confidence in the minister's tone which gave rather unpleasant emphasis to this final prophecy. Still, I believed myself capable of the ten pages without establishing a hopelessly wakeful condition,—indeed, it was something to be guarantied against the opposite infirmity. The tea, accompanied by a few thin shavings of toast, presently arrived. The means of procuring light were also furnished us. Clifton's hand lay heavily upon the manuscript until the attendant had disappeared for the last time, and the door was locked behind him. He then opened the papers before me, and signified that the time had come. I braced myself as for a serious undertaking.

Thus I accepted the task. How give words to the singular emotions which soon possessed me? As if some charm, some spell of magnetism, had been given to the paper, my whole consciousness was riveted upon it. I know not how to represent this bold, this startling attempt to establish a positive basis for metaphysical philosophy, an exact science of all things human and divine. Here was a man, perchance of more courage and conscience, perchance of more devilish recklessness, than any of his contemporaries. But how deal with what came to me from that wondrous writing in the ambiguities of common language? All thought—even supposing it embodied in a perfect form of speech—is subject to the limitations of the recipient mind. My own glimpses of the writer's meaning were necessarily most indistinct. I cannot attempt to transfer them. I was controlled by a force not my own. The shadow of a mysterious power was over me. The mists of sentimental pantheism were left far below the clear-cut summits whither the reader was invited to ascend. There was an interpretation of Revelation far more removed from the apparent letter than that of Swedenborg. Here was reaffirmed (though for a widely different purpose) what the Romish Church has ever declared,—that the Scriptures, recording spiritual truth, cannot be comprehensible to the natural understanding,—that, while the Sacred Writings contain a natural letter, it can be translated into spiritual verity only by a few exceptional men. If this scheme of philosophy was an idealism, it nevertheless manifested itself through the plainest realities. The solution of the problem seemed to come not from one point, but from all points. Certainly there was a tendency towards the supersensible; but this direction was taken through stern grappling with the actual. At one time I struggled against the august spirit that was borne in upon me; at another, I was utterly subdued by the lofty enthusiasm of the writer,—something within me capable of absolute cognition seemed responding to his appeals. But the pith and vitality of this marvel could be recognized only by long experience. And here the student was required to stake his soul upon a perilous cast. For, if not pursued and fathomed to full satisfaction, this view of things would be disturbing, paralyzing. With any half-acceptance a man might scarcely live. It must fashion the mind as an artist fashions the passive metals into a musical instrument, and then every event in time might touch it to exquisite harmony. But the more ravishing the beauty which seemed offered through perfect realization of this knowledge, the more blighting would be its effects, if entertained in the spirit of a selfish dilettanteism. For in certain passages were breathed faint suggestions, that moral codes held sacred by the people could not bind the initiated,—nay, that what seemed most evil might be so explained as to become wholly legitimate to the elect.

It was far into the night. I had gone over about a third of the manuscript. [pg 328] Sharp questions assailed my ears. Was I bound to jeopard all the common good of life for the chance of—just failing to know existence from a higher plane? Could I ascend so far above the frailties of average men as to receive in purity and innocence the license which acceptance of this strange scheme would surely give? Dim-sighted as I was, it was necessary to rise and dispel this splendid phantasm. I shuddered in sudden alarm at the danger which threatened me. By a spasmodic movement, in which I failed to recognize any presence of my will, the manuscript was closed and handed to Clifton. Welcome existence under coarsest and harshest terms, rather than tamper with such fearful possibilities!

For hours the minister had gazed into my face, partaking the excitement to which he had subjected me. He had lighted and trimmed the candles, as was necessary, but had never broken silence. And now there came from him the deep sigh of relief from an absorbing interest; he sighed as a little child when the fairytale is ended and the tense strain of attention may be relaxed.

"What was this man?" I demanded, hurriedly.

"What he was is to be discovered through these writings, if it may be found out at all. What he was is not for me nor for you to know. It is possible that he may meet with competent judges hereafter, even among men. Look at this address."

Clifton handed me a little memorandum relating to the ultimate disposition of the manuscript. It was to remain for eighty years in the Mather Safe, and was then to be consigned to the occupant of the Chair of Moral Philosophy in the College.

"Say rather to the last minority-candidate for the professorship!" I exclaimed. "I doubt if the actual winner of that comfortable possession will feel disposed to abandon the market-worth of conventional acquirements, and set forth as a humble student of unpopular truth."

The minister seemed struck with the suggestion, and made the alteration I had indicated.

The darkest hour of the night had come. Every sound of human activity had long ago ceased. It was the quiet time when one may most easily probe an intense experience. I felt that more was to be known,—something which the minister longed to tell,—something to which what he had caused me to read was to serve as a prelude. I suspected how powerless must have been this sensitive man in the presence of the Idea which he had carried. Doubtless, in one of his peculiar tendencies, it might prevent all harmonious action,—it might ever goad the intellect, and crush the heart. As the confession trembled upon the lips of Clifton, I signified my profound sympathy. It is an awful moment, when a mature man tries to put off the solitariness of his life.

What was then communicated I can repeat only in the first person. The pathetic earnestness of the speaker imprinted on my memory the very phrases that he used; there can be few verbal changes as they now flow from the pen.



I am indebted for education to a bachelor uncle, who, after our great bereavement, received at his house an infant sister and myself. I was at that time about twelve years old. My relative enjoyed a handsome annuity, which he spent with the utmost liberality. As I was rather a thoughtful, though not very studious boy, it was determined that I should go to college. I entered with some difficulty soon after my seventeenth birthday,—an age somewhat later than the average at that time.

Two years before me in college was the class of 18—. Upon the roll of its fifty-two members stood the name of Herbert Vannelle. Rich, an orphan, [pg 329] inclined to thought and study beyond the limited academic range of those days, endowed with personal fascinations of a very rare and peculiar kind,—there seemed only one possible shadow to darken his career. In his family there had been said to exist a tendency to eccentric independence of action, which vulgarly, perhaps justly, passed for insanity. His father, who died soon after Herbert entered college, had given much uneasiness to the wealthy and respectable city-circle with which he was socially connected. Upon the death of his wife he had retired to the Vannelle homestead in the northwestern part of Connecticut, and there lived in studious seclusion. There he insisted upon bringing up his only son, deprived of such recreations and companionships as are suitable to youth. He had, indeed, superintended his studies with patience and thoroughness, and had not failed to accomplish him in the grace of physical power, at that time little recognized as a part of education.

So much was known of Vannelle when he appeared at college among the young men of the Junior Class. And little more was known of him when he left America on the day his class graduated. His connections with the other students had been very slight. He had never cared to acquire that fluency in retailing the thoughts of others upon which college-rank depends. An access to the library was all that he seemed to value in his connection with the institution. And here he busied himself, not with the openings to the solid and rational sciences, but with the bewildering sophistries of the school-philosophies, and their aimless wrangling over verbal conceits.

At that time I happened to be taking a young man's first enchanting rounds upon the tread-mill of metaphysics. At the library I often encountered Vannelle in search of some volume of which I had just possessed myself. This led to an acquaintance. I was soon fascinated by a power which streamed from his large, expressive eyes, and persuaded by a voice modulated in a pathos and sweetness that I have heard in no other person. His influence upon me at this time was not unlike that which the mesmerists had just begun to exercise. Yet, while he showed an interest in directing my inquiries along the paths to which they naturally tended, he never communicated the results of his own studies, or offered me the slightest assistance in generalizing my random observations. What he thought himself, or by what writers he was influenced, it was not easy to fathom. He was deeply acquainted with the writings of the New-England Transcendentalists, then at their greatest notoriety, yet never for an instant seemed giddy upon the hazy heights where those earnest spirits soared.

Vannelle spent two years in Germany, and returned to America about the time that my college-course was finished. The little I knew of him during his absence was from the scattered notices of newspaper-correspondents, who intimated that Herbert possessed the privilege of friendly intercourse with men most distinguished for knowledge in the Old World. Just before Class-Day, I received a letter dated from X——, in Connecticut, inviting me, in terms which seemed almost a command, to spend the summer at the Vannelle homestead. Herbert had returned, and thus abruptly summoned me. Intending to postpone until the autumn the study of a profession, I promised to come to him for a few weeks,—a visit which might be extended, were it mutually agreeable.

There was, at that time, a day of weary staging after leaving the cars, before arriving in the village of X——; there were also six rough miles of carriage-conveyance before the traveller could attain the old house by the damp river-marsh whereto I was destined. When I arrived there, Vannelle stood at the door to greet me.

"We have six months' concern together," he said, as if delivering himself of some studied speech,—"we have six months' concern together; then we may [pg 330] stand at the parting of the ways,—we may cleave to one another, or separate forever."

A low, dark house. The south-side planted out from the sun by pines and cedars. The parlors covered with well-worn Turkey carpets, chafed into dusty ridges. The wretched window-glass breaking and distorting the pine-trees without. Little oval mirrors distorting the human countenance within. In the living-room (so called by those able to live in it) loomed a rusty air-tight stove of cathedral proportion,—a ghastly altar which the bitterest enemy of the family might feel fully justified in protecting. A square, cellarless room, about twenty feet from the house, had been the study of the elder Vannelle. Tables covered with a confused mass of writing-materials. A jumble of retorts and other chemical apparatus about the floor. Cabinets of the ugliest pattern reached to the ceiling;—at first I supposed them to be made of painted wood; afterwards I discovered they were of iron, and filled with rare books and manuscripts.

"My father built this study," said Vannelle, as we passed into it. "He wished to get rid of those periodical clearings-up from which there is no escape in a New-England household. Mrs. Brett, the wife of our farmer, could never resist the feminine itch to put things to rights. She was always contriving to arrange papers and books in symmetrical piles where nothing could be found. My father could never turn his back but she was sure to annihilate important scraps of writing that were lying about the floor, and, under pretence of sweeping, invoke a simoom of dust that hours were insufficient to allay. But when he built this room, and kept the key of it, there was no more trouble."

I shudder as I hurry through these descriptions, for a confession which I hardly dare to put into words must accompany them. All these surroundings, seen by me for the first time, had a fearful familiarity. In some occult state of spiritual existence I seemed to have known them all. I have learned that the soul may enter into communion with other minds otherwise than through the senses,—nay, more, it may thus take an inexplicable cognizance of material things. Of this I have had such proof as it would be infatuation to doubt. I was compelled to test this startling suspicion for the first time.

"You need not take me up-stairs, Herbert," I said, as we returned to the house. "The picture of your father, which hangs in the large chamber projecting over the porch, was doubtless a good likeness of the mask he wore at city club-houses and family-dinners,—but the man as you knew him here, how little does it resemble! As for the Chinese cabinet which stands between the windows, it has associations, no doubt, but it is sadly out of repair. Those pink tiles about the fireplace may be interesting to antiquaries; but I rather prefer the blue variety, as corresponding to the mental state in which their infinitely pretentious subjects and execrable drawing always put me."

The lightness of speech was painfully forced. Vannelle turned to me and said, slowly,—

"Have you been here before?"


"Has any one described to you this house or its contents?"


"Then thought has been conveyed from mind to mind in unconditioned purity. It is as I had supposed. We are brothers forever."

The next day, after an early breakfast, Vannelle summoned me to the study. I glanced distrustfully at the confusion of the room, which seemed in strange contrast with the exquisitely neat and even fashionable attire of its proprietor. A smile of proud pity touched the lips of Vannelle, as he seemed to divine my thought. Then, as if I had read them in letters of light, these words seemed to answer me:—

"Shall we, the stewards and guardians of the highest interests of mankind, fret [pg 331] our souls at trifles,—we, who are to be instruments in marshalling the race from slavery and folly to wisdom and freedom? Behold, in one bound, the hovels and palaces of earth shall be alike, and, floating free in spiritual space, we will win such dominion as the highest graduates in saintship dimly perceived, but were never able to declare!"

These thoughts, energizing the brain of my companion, seemed thrown into my consciousness with far more distinctness than if they had been uttered. It was with awe that this mystic correspondence between mind and mind was made plain to me. One man out of this myriad-bodied humanity had sought me out, and in his presence I was never more to be alone. The gigantic shadow of self passed from me; I was as clay in the potter's hands!

At length Herbert spoke.

"Our work in this world is determined for us; mine is allotted to me,—not by my own choice. I return to this house never to leave it till I go to join my father, with his great work more nearly completed than when it came to my hands. At that table he died, with some glimpses of the promised land whither he tended,—where he prayed that I might enter."

There escaped from me a feeble remonstrance,—no utterance of the heart, but rather a dry rattling of such conventional proprieties as lingered in the memory.

"And you intend to leave this wholesome world,—you, whose career might be such as few have it in their power to choose? You know, you must know, the wonderful gifts which you possess; you cannot alone be ignorant of the fascination you might exercise over man and woman."

"I know all these temptations, and others that you cannot surmise," exclaimed Vannelle, "and I will conquer them,—if not through spiritual grace, then by some bodily penance of lasting effect. I discern in you certain qualities of mind that may serve to regulate the equipoise of mine. I have the means to provide for us both during the high speculations in which we shall engage. Let us be comrades in this undertaking. I seek to bridge the great gulf that separates the natural from the spiritual. My father firmly believed in the possibility of obtaining an absolute ground for the philosophy which should include all things human and divine. He passed onward before the inestimable gift he seemed to have won could be set forth in the symbols of the world. To see is not difficult, but only to contrive a popular adaptation through which others may discern the thought. I seek the means to express the truth which he saw, and of which I can catch some glimpses through such colored mythologies as represent the higher religions of the world. Man has found out the knowledge by which a universe was evoked from chaos: shall he not perfect that knowledge in the Law which includes the divine element by which the universe is informed? How can we love with our whole heart what we do not know with our whole mind? Clifton, I declare to you that knowledge of the Law by which the Creator is and acts is possible to man!"

I shall seem to you weak and unstable in no common degree to have been moved by utterance like this. Remember that I can reproduce only the words, not the wild power of that persuasive voice, not the aspiring courage that struck me from his eye. Almost against my will there was produced in me a plasticity of mind that seemed to demand the impress of some foreign mould. The tree of knowledge was set in the midst of the garden, and again were audible the seductive serpent-tones: "Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

I found Vannelle so far my superior in the knowledge of all earthly lores, that I at length came to think it possible he might be the appointed instrument of communicating the singular intelligence that he sought. He proposed to review the different systems built by human [pg 332] thought before applying himself to the problem of finding a system of philosophy which should include them all. His idea was, that from the extreme negation of the so-called transcendental position—when that position had been legitimately attained by a thoroughly conscientious thinker—some new light must break upon the mind. His was no shrinking from the conflict with real things to indulge in vague yearnings after the inaccessible, but a definite effort so to place the soul and discipline the understanding that wisdom could be realized without process or media. Unlike most inquirers of that time, he had no love for the abstract and the controversial, but entertained them freely as finally discovering some path to the concrete and the unquestioned. He declared that only to superficial persons was skepticism the terminus of speculative deism. Let me also say this for my friend,—that his directing stimulus to action was neither ambition nor curiosity, but what, had it been directed to any recognized end, the world would have called a religious principle. He was never guilty of the shallow wickedness of seeking self-culture as an end; he sought the highest self-culture only as a state of more passionate yearning for regeneration.

What need to tell how I was fascinated, mesmerized, into a humble companionship? how I became inspired with his own mighty belief in the feasibility of the object he strove to attain? We read together certain manuscripts of the elder Vannelle, in which, wrapt in a gorgeous symbolism, seemed dimly to approach a great truth, which, at times, could be faintly perceived, but never mastered. There were hints, apparently of the deepest significance, which, when the mind endeavored to grasp them, vanished like a vision.

Day after day, almost night after night, for five months, I passed with Vannelle in the room I have described. And during that vivid period I knew an intellectual intoxication which seemed the pure ecstasy of spirit wholly delivered from the burden of the flesh. Vannelle talked like one inspired upon the higher problems of metaphysical research, showing, or appearing to show, in what sense the speculations of the philosophers were true, and in what sense absolutely false. We seemed to have cut ourselves adrift from the human race, and to look down upon it from a position whence its basest moral corruptions and most detestable oppressions marked the rhythm in a majestic poem. The infinite vagaries of crime, the unspeakable ecstasies of blessedness, were equally wholesome as equally full of Law. At times it seemed impossible that any words could so mould themselves as to give distinctness to the thought which flashed through our minds. At times a representation corresponding to what Vannelle so eloquently uttered seemed embodied in every phase of opinion man had known. But, alas, there were also periods of doubt and despair analogous to those which succeed physical intoxication. The grosser systems of antiquity were not only considered, but actually personated in our experience. Here it was necessary for us to penetrate into some of the darkest recesses of the human soul, and to test how nearly allied is that which exalts man to that which degrades him, how the noblest virtues plunge headlong into the maddest passions. Yet we learned to welcome these convulsions of Chaos and Old Night, as blindly bearing us onward towards our destined goal.

—But enough of this. I would only faintly express how terribly real was the delusion (the world would so call it, and who am I to gainsay it?) which has overhung my earthly life.

Let me tell in briefest words how the spell was broken,—partially broken. During those months of passionate exaltation, letters from friends once dear to me had been thrown aside half-read, and wholly valueless. On the eleventh of November I started,—as a black seal was to be broken. My uncle had suddenly died. The last instalment of his annuity had been paid, and my little [pg 333] sister, an orphan and penniless, was thrown upon me for education and support. Shame to me that I then hesitated! Yet it was some hours before I could persuade myself to put the letter into Vannelle's hand, and say that I must abandon him forever. Let me forget the bitter temptation. Of course my friend begged to provide for my sister from his own ample means, and even offered her an asylum at his house. I still retained sufficient sanity to perceive the wrong of bringing a young child to that dismal place to wither removed from all human companionship and sympathy. A spirit not in a condition to be sustained and elevated by the society of Herbert would be confused, and finally petrified. Had this refined probing and questioning deadened all sense of duty? Was this the end of my Absolute Philosophy, that the intellect should usurp the place of the conscience and the moral law? Shame to me that I could have paused to ask such questions! yet any claim but one tittle less urgent I should have bantered aside. I seemed to realize the torture described in the dream of Dante,—two souls struggling together in one frail body. I had been applauding good and condemning evil when it cost me nothing but the sentiment; but when the fiery test came, my purpose cracked and shrivelled before it. Yes, I conquered; but the scars that purchased the victory have ached through my life.

There was but one calling wherein it seemed possible for me to earn my bread; for how could I descend to chaffer in the market, to trim and huckster through the world,—I, who had thought to condition the Spirit of the Universe? But there were metaphors faintly shadowing divine things, symbols adapted to the limitations of the popular mind, and with these I might do an honest work for the souls of men. Honest? Yes,—unless Augustine was a hypocrite, when he declared that he spoke of the Unseen as unity in three persons, less to say something than not to remain altogether silent. To a certain order of minds among the clergy this is the daily cross,—the necessity of maintaining a fixed position, and ever looking down from it to teach, instead of ever yearning upward to be taught.

It is enough to say, that, supporting myself and my sister by school-teaching, I achieved such courses of reading as are supposed to qualify for enrolment among the liberal clergy of New England. Until the time when my sister left me by marriage I was settled at N——, on the Connecticut. Soon after this event, died old Dr. P—— of Foxden, and I received a call to his vacant parish. I knew that the sort of society to be found in that place would minister to my most urgent need. I craved some intellectual clanship which should never seek to rise to an equal spiritual companionship. For there was only one man to whom I might speak freely, and from him my path ever diverged. How far apart the years had led us! Sometimes there came a whisper that I had been snatched from the hand of Satan, killer of souls; sometimes my only opportunities of salvation seemed left in that sad, damp homestead. I could never return to him; I could never be wholly free from him. Ever was I controlled by a shadowy force which reached me from his abundant power. No occupation was so absorbing as to protect me from the invading presence of Herbert Vannelle.

The first Sunday of the present month brought the twentieth anniversary of the day that I parted from Vannelle. In the morning I had preached a written sermon on those solemn words of the Apostle, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." For the first time I shrank from the consciousness that the words uttered were true to me in a very different sense from that in which the congregation received them. I found it difficult to poise in tremulous balance between Truth and its available representation to common men. It is my custom to preach extemporaneously in the afternoon. Upon rising, after the introductory services, I could perceive that my pulse and breathing [pg 334] were accelerated. A certain numbness of the brain seemed pierced with convulsive, fugitive shocks. An inexplicable influence, a command for cerebral sympathy, seemed beating at my forehead. I turned the sacred pages before me, but could find nothing upon which to base my remarks. But to my lips would come incessantly a passage from Sir Thomas Browne. At last I gave it voice:—

"There are, as in philosophy, so in divinity, sturdy doubts and boisterous objections wherewith the unhappiness of our knowledge too nearly acquainteth us. More of these no man hath known than myself; which I confess I conquered, not in martial attitude, but on my knees."

An extraordinary impetus seemed imparted to my mental powers. Men have said that I spoke with a fluency and eloquence unknown to them before. Indeed, I was conscious of a capacity to receive and convey such portions of divine wisdom as corresponded to their needs. To speak in figure, my heavenly race was as if the Lord of Evil pursued my soul.

Thoroughly exhausted by the effort, I returned to my study and threw myself upon a sofa. More fully than ever before, I entered that state where one far distant may make himself perceived and known. The occult power of foreknowing events, the delicate perception of forbidden things, worked their abnormal invigoration in the brain. I became conscious that a carriage miles off was rolling nearer and nearer; I knew that it would stop at my door. I waited, waited long into the night. One by one went out the scattered village-lights. Another consciousness of twenty years seemed compressed into those brilliant, bitter hours. My lamp flickered. I rose with effort and supplied oil; it would now burn till morning. The carriage came nearer. I knew that Vannelle was in it. At last the heavy rumble ceased at the door.

A figure stood before me. The old fascination in the eyes; a soul burning with lofty enthusiasm looked through and kindled them. But the face,—it was ghastly, livid as the face of a leper: it was spectral,—blanched and dried with the white flames of his exalted vigils. Ah, black eyes, well may you shine in terrible triumph! The old idolatry this man demanded of me would not be repelled. I gazed upon my visitor as upon a phantom from another sphere, and knew no reckoning of time. His magnetism was upon me; I could only crouch into myself—and wait. At length the silence was broken.

"Charles Clifton, teacher of the people, listen that you may be taught! For the last time I have come down into your world of passion and sense. The impulses with which you vainly strive and wrestle are behind me. Alone, alone, I have risen from the abysmal depths of personality. I have struggled fiercely. I have also conquered."

The livid face showed no change. It suddenly came to me, that, by some voluntary disfigurement of his exquisite beauty of feature, this man had cut away the lusts for pleasure, fame, and influence. What woman would kiss that ghastly cheek? What sycophant could fawn and smirk in that chilly presence? The injunctions concerning the offending eye and hand Vannelle had interpreted literally.

"I hold," he continued, "the noble prize of intellectual satisfaction seized by effort. Multiply the self-satisfactions of earth by infinity, and you may guess a little of the sublime contentment which wraps me round! Does the best stage-trick of your liberal clergy help them to anything but a plasticity of mind to be moulded into artistic forms of skepticism? How can you feel the delight of a definite, positive affirmation which accounts for and includes all creeds and lives of men? How can you come out from your partial dogmas to enter Truth and find it alone dogmatic and compulsive? Clifton, I pity you. I would rescue you from this haze of thought and feeling,—I, who have even now discarded Intelligence and enthroned Wisdom."

[pg 335]

"I hope to be pardoned," I said,—"the current of this life sets so in favor of Utility and the Practical; men long to be fed with sentiment,—why try to give them ideas?"

"Fulfil, then, forever your little round of decencies and proprieties," exclaimed Vannelle; "I judge you not. Perchance your weakness is the pardonable weakness of one who has done his best. You may be guiltless in failing to attain the strength, the glory, of a true conviction."

"Is it too late?" I asked, faintly.

"It is the question I must put to you," replied Herbert. "I bring you in this manuscript the result of my life,—the result of two lives. Here is written, as clearly as can be written in gross symbols of human language, that which may suggest the Absolute, the Alpha and Omega, the System, not humanly built upon hypothesis, but divinely founded upon Law."

I knew that a package had been placed upon the table at my side.

"If you can so far command the fragmentary life you lead as to give this manuscript the sober, searching thought which it invites, the truth may be brought to you. But if these twenty years have only filled you with the pride of inventing arguments and detecting analogies, if they have only given you the petty skill of a petty scholar, why then dally on with a tinsel variety of superficial attainments, and give others the blessed privilege you are not strong enough to accept."

"Take it from me," I said. "It has haunted me too long. What you may have found, it is for your honor to promulgate."

"The finding is enough for one life," replied Vannelle. "The spiritual manhood is indeed complete, but the shell which enclosed it totters towards earth. My responsibility in this matter is at an end: yours will now begin."

A tremor ran through my frame as he spoke these words. A mystery rigid as Fate seemed to shackle me. Without seeing him go, I knew that Vannelle had left the room. Again was I conscious of the carriage-rumble growing fainter, fainter, fainter in the distance. A dream of passionate excitement, a phantasmagoria of old wishes, old hopes, of the life I might have led, flew before me. For a moment the energy of Vannelle seemed to have transfused itself through every fibre. An unquenchable thirst that I had never summoned struck into my brain. I seized the manuscript, and devoured page after page. Then I felt the approaches of a supreme despotism that might annihilate all I had been, all I hoped to be,—that might compel me to denounce all that I had taught, to hear all that was respectable and healthy in the world jeer at me as an impostor, an enthusiast, a madman. It was not that I was simply invited to come above the ordinary doctrines of the day, and stand supported and encouraged by a few advanced minds; but I was called to place myself where the most earnest souls—unless a second birth could be granted them—would scoff with the ignorance and intolerance of the mass.

At last the gray light of morning shone upon me.

One of my deacons, whistling sturdily, passed along the street. A physical emanation from his healthy vitality partially counteracted the influence of the night. Gathering up every muscle of my feeble will, I closed the manuscript forever. Hereditary imperfections of body and mind confine me to a sphere of reputable usefulness. If I have sinned in the past, I have also suffered. If, as I sometimes suspect, I have thrust from me the grandest opportunity ever offered to man, the loss through all eternity will be mine.

In eight days I heard of the death of Herbert Vannelle.


As the last words of his strange narration fell from Clifton's lips, he bowed his head and was greatly agitated. The [pg 336] vast theologic conception over which he had so long brooded, instead of lifting him on high, had crushed him to the earth. His moral consciousness had demanded a satisfaction which he lacked integrity of purpose to pursue and challenge. A fixed conviction of the dreariest pessimism would have been better for this man than the lofty uncertainty which had tortured his days; for in the belief that one may neither struggle nor aspire there is a certain practical drift. But how shall he do any good who bears about him a quick conscience, a skeptical understanding, sensitive religious affections, and a feeble will? Charles Clifton had neither the leisure, nor possibly the application, to follow the creeping advances of systematic knowledge. He had listened to a fatal persuasion, and at the same time had sought to satisfy contradictory principles of the human mind. The kindest thing I could do for him was soon perceived.

"Reverend Sir," I said, "you must permit me to advise you. It is now six o'clock. In an hour the early train leaves for Foxden. You must take it and return home. Any further vacuum in your daily employment will produce a crushing pressure from without that might endanger reason itself. I solemnly promise to deposit this manuscript in the Mather Safe,—nay, I will not leave town until the President and Treasurer have met me this afternoon according to your agreement. I pledge you my honor that the parchment shall be consigned to its resting-place with every necessary formality."

My companion gazed long upon vacancy before returning any answer. He strove to dispel the cloud-pageantry which had sailed above him in shapeless beauty. He walked up and down the chamber, paused, threw open the window, and looked upon the street below. I felt that every petty detail of man's daily craft struck outlines of painful vividness upon the morbid sensibility of his condition. Finally he spoke to this effect: —

"A grief has been lessened in giving it words. My deepest and most solitary moments have been revealed to human sympathy, and the relief is great. It may be that I have been created to some wholesome end,—that some truth may shine before the world through what seems the failure of my life. I will return at once to the sphere of the senses: it is, as you say, all that is left me. Let who will inquire into the significance and purpose of the Universe; it is for me to work in the bondage of the flesh, to be the humble tool of the age in which my lot is cast."

Yet it was not easy to induce the clergyman to commit to my care the conclusion of the enterprise which had brought him to town. His peculiar nervous temperament foretold a thousand accidents that might befall the precious legacy of his friend. It was only by addressing his reason in repeated arguments, and by solemnly asseverating my entire fidelity, that I induced him to yield.

It was a gracious gift to be once more alone.

I seemed awakened from a dream of pining exultation, of dark foreboding. Without acknowledging it to myself, I had been strangely wrought upon by what I had read and heard. As Clifton emerged from the magical influence of Vannelle, was it not concentrated upon me? The impulse to return to the perusal of the manuscript was almost irresistible. Yet it was evident, that, failing to receive as my very life what was there written, I should become hopelessly entangled in discrepancies and contradictions. A glance at the imminent peril sent me shuddering to my only safety.

It has been mentioned that I had interested myself in some inquiries tending to modify the received understanding of a certain natural law. During my morning in the College Library I had collected the records of many facts, which, laboriously compared, might confirm the hypothesis I had conceived. I now braced myself to the task of tracing an order in these random observations. I was soon stimulated by perceiving that my [pg 337] statistics seemed to confirm the justice of the reasoning which at first roused my suspicion. More and more plainly did man's experience respond to the results I had dared to predict. Trivial circumstances, noted in remote times and disconnected places, pointed in one direction, and there beat the regular pulse of Nature.

It is perhaps a little humiliating to mention, what I afterwards discovered, that the doctrine which I endeavored to reach had been already conceived and passed upon by a not very eminent scientist in one of the Western States. But at that time absorption in the search for attainable truth was necessary to my welfare; and, with very brief intervals for rest and refreshment, I continued my pursuit until the afternoon-hour for visiting the library.

The President and Treasurer entered the building at five o'clock.

For some minutes I had stood before the massive doors of the Mather Safe, wondering if any of its mysterious contents could be more singular than the consignment about to be made to its keeping.

"Is Mr. Clifton of Foxden in the library?" inquired the President.

"I am here to represent him," I replied. "He made a strange mistake in the day of appointment, and was compelled to leave town this morning. The package which he wished to deposit in the Mather Safe I hold in my hand."

"Lex Universalis Naturæ; THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE ABSOLUTE," exclaimed the Treasurer, reading the inscription upon the outer parchment. "Poh, poh! I thought that sort of philosophy had long ago been handed over to the limbo of fallacies."

"By those who have neither feeling nor imagination enough to care for anything not transmutable into dollars, perhaps it has," I rejoined, somewhat tartly.

"Come, come!" said the President, in his good-natured, rolling tones; "since the days of the great Jonathan, our New-England metaphysicians have generally been broken-down poets, and should be treated with the greatest tenderness. Some flighty minds will prefer dangerous trips to dream-land to the rigid demonstrations of figures; but the mass of our graduates accept the teaching of their Alma Mater, that only the mathematician has the right to investigate, and that of all philosophers only natural philosophers are competent instructors."

"Yet, Sir," I said, "you will remember that the time was when your natural philosophers were persecuted as wizards by Church and State. Even the mathematician is defined by an old lexicographer to be 'Magus dæmonum invocator'; and I cannot forget that all that is of honor and respect to-day is but the actual of a once despised ideal."

I really marvelled at my own audacity in presuming to question the words of this distinguished and excellent gentleman. Indeed, it was particularly surprising, because (if I knew myself) I precisely agreed with him. But there is a certain waywardness in my composition, which loves to puncture an inflated conventionality, even when I myself am most conventional.

In the mean time the Treasurer, taking the President's key with his own, had opened the Safe. I looked in and beheld coffers of lead and oak, nooks and pigeon-holes covered and sealed with the College seal, little cells of glass which appeared to hold documents of the utmost importance, and, in short, whatever might best defy the injuries of time. The weighty book which registered the contents of the Safe was opened before me. I was told to write the number assigned to the manuscript, to describe its present condition, and to indicate its destination. This I carefully did, and was about to confide my charge to its long oblivion.

"Stay!" said the President. "You have forgotten the mottoes! Here is only one; and it is our rule that every deposit in the Mather Safe be distinguished by three, in as many languages.

'Alteri Sæculo.'
[pg 338]

The selection is good, though it has already been adopted by a Massachusetts statesman. It is now for you to supply two others."

Singular as it may appear, this sudden call to perform a trifling office which I had not anticipated, filled me with a conflict of emotions. In choosing another's words, I seemed to indorse or repudiate the strange matter with which they were to be associated. I thought of Vannelle's wondrous language, of Clifton's exhilaration, and of the vivid buoyancy with which my spirit had striven to rise. I even groped for some phrase which might hint what delicate aërial impressions had tended to condense the soul on the supreme point of spiritual ecstasy. But memory was a blank when I demanded words for this seeming-glorious fact in the experience of humanity. Success was made impossible by the very intensity of the effort to summon an appropriate message to be dropped over the abyss of Time. I was confident that there were many apt things which might be said, if I could come at them, as it were, sideways. In order that I might take them at this advantage, I snatched a letter from my pocket, and began to read. My eye was soon caught by the impression of a seal that I had once given my wife. It was a good [woman's] motto, I jestingly told her; and now it was returned to me at my sorest need. Six little words of the good Pascal,—

"Le plus súr est de croire."

Something compelled me to write them, and a new freedom was with me when I had done so.

"Make haste, make haste, for the prayer-bell is ringing!" cried the President "See, here is a copy of Plato's 'Phædrus,'—a work which our vapory brethren are fond of quoting, generally at second-hand; perhaps you may pick out a sentence that will prophesy with sufficient ambiguity."

But it was not Plato or his "Phædrus" that then claimed my thoughts. There loomed a Rock graven with more august instruction than the sage of the Academy was privileged to communicate,—a Rock against which the heaving surface of human opinion had chafed and broken in vain. Tossed to and fro upon the tide of life, who has not sometimes listened to the wrangling voices which shouted, "Mystical Interpretation," "Absolute Fiction," "Huge Conglomerate of Myths"? Whose eye has never been caught by the sparkling tinsel of modern philosophies, with their Seers, Heroes, Missions, Developments, Insights, Principles of Nature, Clairvoyance, and Magnetic Currents? Happy those who are able to return to that one channel through which magnetic currents have indeed descended from an unseen sphere, and touched the noblest hearts! For there is a certain mediation between the necessities and aspirations of man,—an assured deliverance from the gross and sordid surroundings of his earthly life. There came before me one simple period from a familiar Book. Most direct and confident is the solemn statement. I wrote it as the final motto.


[pg 339]


In entering upon the Tertiaries, we reach that geological age which, next to his own, has the deepest interest for man. The more striking scenes of animal life, hitherto confined chiefly to the ocean, are now on land; the extensive sheets of fresh water are filled with fishes of a comparatively modern character,—with Whitefish, Pickerel, Perch, Eels, etc.,—while the larger quadrupeds are introduced upon the continents so gradually prepared to receive them. The connection of events throughout the Tertiaries, considered as leading up to the coming of man, may be traced not only in the physical condition of the earth, and in the presence of the large terrestrial Mammalia, but also in the appearance of those groups of animals and plants which we naturally associate with the domestic and social existence of man. Cattle and Horses are first found in the middle Tertiaries; the grains, the Rosaceæ, with their variety of fruits, the tropical fruit-trees, Oranges, Bananas, etc., the shade- and cluster-trees, so important to the comfort and shelter of man, are added to the vegetable world during these epochs. The fossil vegetation of the Tertiaries is, indeed, most interesting from this point of view, showing the gradual maturing and completion of those conditions most intimately associated with human life. The earth had already its seasons, its spring and summer, its autumn and winter, its seed-time and harvest, though neither sower nor reaper was there; the forests then, as now, dropped their thick carpet of leaves upon the ground in the autumn, and in many localities they remain where they originally fell, with a layer of soil between the successive layers of leaves,—a leafy chronology, as it were, by which we read the passage of the years which divided these deposits from each other. Where the leaves have fallen singly on a clayey soil favorable for receiving such impressions, they have daguerreotyped themselves with the most wonderful accuracy, and the Oaks, Poplars, Willows, Maples, Walnuts, Gum- and Cinnamon-trees, etc., of the Tertiaries are as well known to us as are those of our own time.

It was an eventful day, not only for science, but for the world, when a Siberian fisherman chanced to observe a singular mound lying near the mouth of the River Lena, where it empties into the Arctic Ocean. During the warmer summer-weather, he noticed, that, as the snow gradually melted, this mound assumed a more distinct and prominent outline, and at length, on one side of it, where the heat of the sun was greatest, a dark body became exposed, which, when completely uncovered, proved to be that of an immense elephant, in so perfect a state of preservation that the dogs and wolves were attracted to it as by the smell of fresh meat, and came to feed upon it at night. The man knew little of the value of his discovery, but the story went abroad, and an Englishman travelling in Russia, being curious to verify it, visited the spot, and actually found the remains where they had been reported to lie, on the frozen shore of the Arctic Sea,—strange burial-place enough for an animal never known to exist out of tropical climates. Little beside the skeleton was left, though parts of the skin remained covered with hair, showing how perfect must have been the condition of the body when first exposed. The tusks had been sold by the fisherman; but Mr. Adams succeeded in recovering them; and collecting all the bones except those of one foot, which had been carried off by the wolves, he had them removed to St. Petersburg, where the skeleton now stands in the Imperial Museum. The inhabitants of Siberia seem to be familiar with this animal, which they designate by the name of Mammoth, while naturalists call [pg 340] it Elephas primigenius. The circumstance that they abound in the frozen drift of the great northern plain of Asia, and are occasionally exposed in consequence of the wearing of the large rivers traversing Siberia, has led to the superstition among the Tongouses, that the Mammoths live under ground, and die whenever, on coming to the surface, the sunlight falls upon them.

Had this been the only creature of the kind found so far from the countries to which elephants are now exclusively confined, it might have been believed that some strange accident had brought it to the spot where it was buried. But it was not long before similar remains were found in various parts of Europe,—in Russia, in Germany, in Spain, and in Italy. The latter were readily accounted for by the theory that they must be the remains of the Carthaginian elephants brought over by the armies of Hannibal, while it was suggested that the others might have been swept from India by some great flood, and stranded where they were found. It was Cuvier, entitled by his intimate acquaintance with the anatomy of living animals to an authoritative opinion in such matters, who first dared to assert that these remains belonged to no elephant of our period. He rested this belief upon structural evidence, and insisted that an Indian elephant, brought upon the waves of a flood to Siberia, would be an Indian elephant still, while all these remains differed in structure from any species existing at present. This statement aroused research in every direction, and the number of fossil Mammalia found within the next few years, and proved by comparison to be different from any living species, soon demonstrated the truth of his conclusion.

Shortly after the discovery of fossil elephants had opened this new path of investigation, some curious bones were found by some workmen in the quarries of Montmartre, near Paris, and brought to Cuvier for examination. Although few in number, and affording but very scanty data for such a decision, he at once pronounced them to be the remains of some extinct animal preceding the present geological age. Here, then, at his very door, as it were, was a settlement of that old creation in which he could pursue the inquiry, already become so important in its bearings. It was not long before other bones of the same kind were found, though nothing as yet approaching an entire skeleton. However, with such means as he had, Cuvier began a comparison with all the living Mammalia,—with the human skeleton first, with Monkeys, with the larger Carnivora and Ruminants, then with all the smaller Mammalia, then with the Pachyderms; and here, for the first time, he began to find some resemblance. He satisfied himself that the animal must have belonged to the family of Pachyderms; and he then proceeded to analyze and compare all the living species, till he had collected ample [pg 341] evidence to show that the bones in question did not correspond with any species, and could not even be referred to any genus, now in existence. At length there was discovered at Montmartre an upper jaw of the same animal,—next a lower jaw, matching the upper one, and presently a whole head with a few backbones was brought to light. These were enough, with Cuvier's vast knowledge of animal structure, to give him a key to the whole skeleton. At about the same time, in the same locality, were found other bones and teeth also, differing from those first discovered, and yet equally unlike those of any living animal. The first evidently belonged to some stout and heavy animal, the others were more slender and of lighter build. From these fragments, ample evidence to him of his results, he drew the outlines of two animals: one which he called the Palæotherium, (old animal,) a figure of which is given in the above wood-cut, and the other Anoplotherium, (animal without fangs). He presented these figures with an explanatory memoir at the Academy, and announced them as belonging to some creation preceding the present, since no such animals had ever existed in our own geological period. Such a statement was a revelation to the scientific world: some looked upon it with suspicion and distrust; others, who knew more of comparative anatomy, hailed it as introducing a new era in science; but it was not till complete specimens were actually found of animals corresponding perfectly to those figured and described by Cuvier, and proving beyond a doubt their actual existence in ancient times, that all united in wonder and admiration at the result obtained by him with such scanty means.

It would seem that the family of Pachyderms was largely represented among the early Mammalia; for, since Cuvier named these species, a number of closely allied forms have been found in deposits belonging to the same epoch. Of course, the complete specimens are rare; but the fragments of such skeletons occur in abundance, showing that these old-world Pachyderms, resembling the Tapirs more than any other living representatives of the family, were very numerous in the lower Tertiaries.

There is, however, one animal now in existence, forming one of those singular links before alluded to between the present and the past, of which I will say a few words here, though its relation is rather with a later group of Tertiary Pachyderms than with those described by Cuvier. On the coast of Florida there is an animal of very massive, clumsy build, long considered to be a Cetacean, but now recognized, by some naturalists at least, as belonging to the order of Pachyderms. In form it resembles the Cetaceans, though it has a fan-shaped tail, instead of the broad flapper of the Whales. It inhabits fresh waters or shoal waters, and is not so exclusively aquatic as the oceanic Cetaceans. Its most striking feature is the form of the lower jaw, which is bent downward, with the front teeth hanging from it. This animal is called the Manatee, or Sea-Cow. There are three species known to naturalists,—one in Tampa Bay, one in the Amazon, and one in Africa. In the Tertiary deposits of Germany there has been found an animal allied in some of its features to those described by Cuvier, [pg 342] but it has the crown of its teeth folded like the Tapir, while the lower jaw is turned down with a long tusk growing from it. This animal has been called the Dinotherium. A part of the head, showing the heavy jaws and the formidable tusk, is represented in the subjoined wood-cut.

Its hanging lower jaw, with the protruding tusk, corresponds perfectly to the formation of the lower jaw and teeth in the Manatee. Some resemblance of the Dinotherium to the Mastodon suggested a comparison with that animal as the next step in the investigation, when it was found that at the edge of the lower jaw of the latter there was a pit with a small projecting tooth, also corresponding exactly in its position to the tusk in the Dinotherium. The Elephant was now examined; and in him also a rudimentary tooth appeared in the lower jaw, not cut through, but placed in the same relation to the jaw and the other teeth as that of the Mastodon. It would seem, then, that the Manatee makes one in this series of Dinotherium, Mastodon, and Elephant, and represents the aquatic Pachyderms, occupying the same relation to the terrestrial Pachyderms as the Seals bear to the terrestrial Carnivora, and, like them, lowest in structure among their kind.

The announcement of Cuvier's results stimulated research, and from this time forward Tertiary Mammalia became the subject of extensive and most important investigations among naturalists. The attention of collectors once drawn to these remains, they were found in such numbers that the wonder was how they had been so long hidden from the observation of men. They remind us chiefly of tropical animals; indeed, Tigers, Hyenas, Rhinoceroses, Hippopotamuses, Mastodons, and Elephants had their home in countries which now belong to the Cold Temperate Zone, showing that the climate in these latitudes was much milder then than it is at present. Bones of many of these animals were found in caverns in Germany, France, Italy, and England. Perhaps the story of Kirkdale Cave, where the first important discovery of this kind was made on English soil, may not be so well known to American readers as to forbid its repetition here.

It was in the summer of 1821 that some workmen, employed in quarrying stone upon the slope of a limestone hill at Kirkdale, in Yorkshire, came accidentally upon the mouth of a cavern. Overgrown with grass and bushes, the mouth of this cave in the hill-side had been effectually closed against all intruders, and it was not strange that its existence had never been suspected. The hole was small, but large enough to admit a man on his hands and knees; and the workmen, creeping in through the opening, found that it led into a cavern, broad in some parts, but low throughout. There were only a few spots where a man could stand upright; but it was quite extensive, with branches opening out from it, some of which have not yet been explored. The whole floor was strewn, from one end to the other, with hundreds of bones, like a huge dog-kennel. The workmen wondered a little at their discovery, but, remembering that there had been a murrain among the cattle in this region some years before, they came to the conclusion that these must be the bones of cattle that had died in great numbers at that time; and, having so settled the matter to their own satisfaction, they took little heed to the bones, but threw many of them out on the road with the common limestone. Fortunately, a gentleman, living in the neighborhood, whose attention had been [pg 343] attracted to them, preserved them from destruction; and a few months after the discovery of the cave, Dr. Buckland, the great English geologist, visited Kirkdale, to examine its strange contents, which proved indeed stranger than any one had imagined; for many of these remains belonged to animals never before found in England. The bones of Hyenas, Tigers, Elephants, Rhinoceroses, and Hippopotamuses were mingled with those of Deer, Bears, Wolves, Foxes, and many smaller creatures. The bones were gnawed, and many were broken, evidently not by natural decay, but seemed to have been snapped violently apart. After the most complete investigation of the circumstances, Dr. Buckland convinced himself, and proved to the satisfaction of all scientific men, that the cave had been a den of Hyenas4 at a time when they, as well as Tigers, Elephants, Rhinoceroses, etc., existed in England in as great numbers as they now do in the wildest parts of tropical Asia or Africa. The narrow entrance to the cave still retained the marks of grease and hair, such as one may see on the bars of a cage in a menagerie against which the imprisoned animals have been in the habit of rubbing themselves constantly, and there were marks of the same kind on the floor and walls.

It was evident that the Hyenas were the lords of this ancient cavern, and the other animals their unwilling guests; for the remains of the latter were those which had been most gnawed, broken, and mangled; and the head of an enormous Hyena, with gigantic fangs found complete, bore ample evidence to their great size and power. Some of the animals, such as the Elephants, Rhinoceroses, etc., could not have been brought into the cave without being first killed and torn to pieces, for it is not large enough to admit them. But their gnawed and broken bones attest, nevertheless, that they were devoured like the rest; and probably the Hyenas then had the same propensity which characterizes those of our own time, to tear in pieces the body of any dead animal, and carry it to their den to feed upon it apart.

While Kirkdale Cave was evidently the haunt of Hyenas chiefly, other caverns in Germany and France were tenanted in a similar manner by a gigantic species of Bear. Their remains, mingled with those of the animals on which they fed, have been found in great numbers in the Cavern of Gailenreuth, in Franconia. The subjoined wood-cut shows the head of this formidable beast, which must have exceeded in size any Bear now living. [pg 344] Indeed, although there were many smaller kinds, and the other types of the Animal Kingdom in the Tertiaries seem to approach very nearly both in size and general character their modern representatives, yet, on the whole, the earlier Mammalia were giants in comparison with those now living. The Mastodon and Mammoth, as compared with the modern Elephant, the Megatherium, as compared with the Sloths of present times, the Hyenas and Bears of the European caverns, and the fossil Elk of Ireland, by the side of which even the Moose of our Northern woods is belittled, are remarkable instances in proof of this. One cannot but be struck with the fact that this first representation of Mammalia, the very impersonation of brute force in power, size, and ferocity, immediately preceded the introduction of man, with whose creation intelligence and moral strength became the dominant influences on earth.

Among these huge Tertiary Mammalia, one of those most common on the North-American continent seems to have been the Mastodon. The magnificent specimens preserved in this country are too well known to require description. The remains of the Rhinoceros occur also in the recent Tertiary deposits of North America, though as yet no perfect skeletons have been found. The Edentata, now confined to South America and the western coast of Africa, were also numerous in the Southern States during that time; their remains have been found as far north as the Salt Lick in Kentucky. But we must not judge of the Tertiary Edentata by any now known to us. The Sloths, the Armadillos, the Ant-Eaters, the Pangolins, are all animals of rather small size; but formerly they were represented by the gigantic Megatherium, the Megalonyx, and the Mylodon, some of which were larger than the Elephant, and others about the same size of the Rhinoceros or Hippopotamus. The subjoined wood-cut represents a Mylodon in the act of lifting himself against the trunk of a tree.

They were clumsy brutes, and though their limbs were evidently built with reference to powerful movements, perhaps climbing, or at least rising on their hind quarters, the act of climbing with them cannot have had anything of the nimbleness or activity generally associated with it. On the contrary, they probably were barely able to support their huge bodies on their hind limbs, which are exceedingly massive, and on the stiff, heavy tail, while they dragged down with their front limbs the branches of the trees, and fed upon them at leisure. The Zoölogical Museum at Cambridge is indebted to the generosity of Mr. Joshua Bates for a very fine set of casts taken from the Megatherium in the British Museum. They are now mounted, and may be seen in one of the exhibition-rooms of the building. Large Reptiles, but very unlike those of the Cretaceous and Jurassic epochs, belonging chiefly to the types of Turtles, Crocodiles, Pythons, and Salamanders, existed during the Tertiary epochs. The [pg 345] wood-cut below represents a gigantic Salamander of the Tertiary deposits. It is a curious fact, illustrative of the ignorance of all anatomical science in those days, that, when the remains of this reptile (Audrias, as it is now called) were first discovered toward the close of the seventeenth century, they were described by old Professor Scheuchzer as the bones of an infant destroyed by the Deluge, and were actually preserved, not for their scientific value, but as precious relics of the Flood, and described in a separate pamphlet, entitled, "Homo Diluvii Testis." Among the Tertiary Reptiles the Turtles seem to have been a very prominent type, by their size as well as by their extensive distribution. Their remains have been found both in the far West and in the East. The fossil Turtles of Nebraska are well known to American naturalists; but the Oriental one exceeds them in size, and is, indeed, the most gigantic representative of the order known thus far. A man could stand under the arch of the shield of the old Himalayan Turtle preserved in the British Museum.

It would carry me too far, were I to attempt to give anything more than the most cursory sketch of the animals of the Tertiary age; and, indeed, they are so well known, and have been so fully represented in text-books, that I fear some of my readers may think even now that I have dwelt too long upon them. Monkeys were unquestionably introduced upon earth before the close of the Tertiaries; some bones have been found in Southern France, and also on Mount Pentelicus in Greece, in the later Tertiary deposits; but these remains have not yet been collected in sufficient number to establish much more than the fact of their presence in the animal creation at that time. I do not offer any opinion respecting the fossil human bones so much discussed recently, because the evidence is at present too scanty to admit of any decisive judgment concerning them. It becomes, however, daily more probable that facts will force us sooner or later to admit that the creation of man lies far beyond any period yet assigned to it, and that a succession of human races, as of animals, have followed one another upon the earth. It may be the inestimable privilege of our young naturalists to solve [pg 346] this great problem, but the older men of our generation must be content to renounce this hope; we may have some prophetic vision of its fulfilment, we may look from afar into the land of promise, but we shall not enter in and possess it.

The other great types of the Animal Kingdom are very fully represented in the Tertiaries, and in their general appearance they approach much more closely those of the present creation than of any previous epochs. Professor Heer has collected and described the Tertiary Insects in great number and variety; and the Butterflies, Bugs, Flies, Grasshoppers, Dragon-Flies, Beetles, etc., described in his volumes, would hardly be distinguished from our own, except by a practised entomologist. Among Crustacea, the Shrimp-like forms of the earlier geological epochs have become much less conspicuous, while Crabs and Lobsters are now the prominent representatives of the class. Among Mollusks, the Chambered Shells, hitherto so numerous, have become, as they now are, very few in comparison with the naked Cephalopods. The Nautili, however, resemble those now living in the Pacific Ocean; and some fragments of the Paper-Nautilus have been found, showing that this delicate shell was already in existence. There is one very peculiar type of this class, belonging to the Tertiaries, which should not be passed by unnoticed. It partakes of the character both of the Cretaceous Belemnites and of the living Cuttle-Fish, and is known as the Spirulirostra. Another very characteristic group among the Tertiary Shells is that of the Nummulites, formerly placed by naturalists in immediate proximity with the Ammonites, on account of their internal partitions. This is now admitted to have been an error; their position is not yet fully determined, but they certainly stand very low in the scale, and have no affinity whatever with the Cephalopods. The subjoined wood-cut represents one of these Shells, so numerous in the Tertiaries that large masses of rock consist of their remains. The Univalve Shells or Gasteropods of the Tertiaries embraced all the families now living, including land and fresh-water Shells as well as the marine representatives of the type. Some of the latter, as, for instance, the Cerithium, are accumulated in vast numbers. The limestone quarries out of which Paris is chiefly built consist wholly of these Shells. The fresh-water basins were filled with Helices, one of which is represented in the following [pg 347] wood-cut, with Planorbis, Limnæus and other Shells resembling those now so common in all our lakes and rivers, and differing from the living ones only by slight specific characters. The Bivalves also have the same resemblance to the present ones, including fresh-water Mussels as well as the marine Clams and Oysters. Among Radiates, the higher Echini (Sea-Urchins) have become numerous, while the other Echinoderms of all families abound. Corals include, for the first time, the more highly organized Madrepores.

In the Tertiaries we see the dawn of the present condition of things, not only in the character of the animals and plants, but in the height of the mountains and in the distribution of land and sea.

Let us give a glance at the continents whose growth we have been following, and see what these more recent geological epochs have done for their completion. In Europe they have filled the basin in Central France, and converted all that region into dry land: they have filled also the channel between France and Spain; they have united Central Russia with the rest of Europe by the completion of Poland, and have greatly enlarged Austria and Turkey; they have completed the promontories of Italy and Greece, and have converted the inland sea at the foot of the Jura into the plain of Switzerland. But this fruitful period in the progress of the world, when the character of organic life was higher and the physical features of the earth more varied than ever before, was not without its storms and convulsions. The Pyrenees, the Apennines, the Alps, and with them the whole range of the Caucasus and Himalayas, were raised either immediately after the Cretaceous epoch, or in the course of the Tertiaries. Indeed, with this most significant passage in her history, Europe acquired all her essential characters. There remained, it is true, much to be done in what is called by geologists "modern times." The work of the artist is not yet finished when his statue is blocked out and the grand outline of his conception stands complete; and there still remained, after the earth was rescued from the water, after her framework of mountains was erected, after her soil was clothed with field and forest, processes by which her valleys were to be made more fruitful, her gulfs to be filled with the rich detritus poured into them by the rivers, her whole surface to be rendered more habitable for the higher races who were to possess it.

We left America at the close of the Carboniferous epoch. A glance at the geological map will show the reader that during the Permian, Triassic, and Jurassic epochs little was added to the United States, though here and there deposits belonging to each of them crop out. In the Cretaceous epoch, however, large tracts of land were accumulated, chiefly in the South and West; and during the Tertiaries the continent was very nearly completed, leaving only a narrow gulf running up to the neighborhood of St. Louis to be filled by modern detritus, and the peninsula of Florida to be built by the industrious Coral-Workers of our own period. The age of the Alleghany chain is not yet positively determined, but it was probably raised at the close of the Carboniferous epoch. Up to that time, only the Laurentian Hills, the northern side of that mountainous triangle which now makes the skeleton, as it were, of the United States, existed. The upheaval of the Alleghanies added its eastern side, raising the central part of the continent so as to form a long slope from the base of the Alleghanies to the Pacific Ocean; but it was not until the Tertiary Age that the upheaval of the great chain at the West completed the triangle, and transformed that wide westerly slope into [pg 348] the Mississippi Valley, bounded on one side by the Alleghanies, and on the other by the Rocky Mountains.

It is my belief, founded upon the tropical character of the Fauna, that a much milder climate then prevailed over the whole northern hemisphere than is now known to it. Some naturalists have supposed that the presence of the tropical Mammalia in the Northern Temperate Zone might be otherwise accounted for,—that they might have been endowed with warmer covering, with thicker hair or fur. But I think the simpler and more natural reason for their existence throughout the North is to be found in the difference of climate; and I am the more inclined to this opinion because the Tertiary animals generally, the Fishes, Shells, etc., in the same regions, are more closely allied in character to those now living in the Tropics than to those of the Temperate Zones. The Tertiary age may be called the geological summer; we shall see, hereafter, how abruptly it was brought to a close.

One word more as to the relation of the Tertiary Mammalia to the creation which preceded them. I can only repeat here the argument used before: the huge quadrupeds characteristic of these epochs make their appearance suddenly, and the deposits containing them follow as immediately upon those of the Cretaceous epoch, in which no trace of them occurs, as do those of the Cretaceous upon those of the Jurassic epoch. I would remind the reader that in the central basin of France, in which Cuvier found his first Palæotherium, and which afterwards proved to have been thickly settled by the early Mammalia, the deposits of the Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Tertiary epochs follow each other in immediate, direct, uninterrupted succession; that the same is true of other localities, in Germany, in Southern Europe, in England, where the most complete collections have been made from all these deposits; and there has never been brought to light a single fact leading us to suppose that any intermediate forms have ever existed through which more recent types have been developed out of older ones. For thirty years Geology has been gradually establishing, by evidence the fulness and accuracy of which are truly amazing, the regularity in the sequence of the geological formations, and distinguishing, with ever-increasing precision, the specific differences of the animals and plants contained in these accumulations of past ages. These results bear living testimony to the wonderful progress of the kindred sciences of Geology and Palæontology in the last half-century; and the development-theory has but an insecure foundation so long as it attempts to strengthen itself by belittling the geological record, the assumed imperfection of which, in default of positive facts, has now become the favorite argument of its upholders.

[pg 349]


"Show me the Sangreal, Lord! Show me Thy blood!
Thy body and Thy blood! Give me the Quest!
Lord, I am faint and tired; my soul is sick
Of all the falseness, all the little aims,
The weary vanities, the gasping joys,
The slow procession of this satiate world!
Dear Lord, I burn for Thee! Give me Thy Quest!
Down through the old reverberating time,
I see Thy knights in wonderful array
Go out to victory, like the solemn stars
Fighting in courses, with their conquering swords,
Their sad, fixed lips of purity and strength,
Their living glory, their majestic death.
Give me Thy Quest! Show me the Sangreal, Lord!"
He lay upon a mountain's rocky crest,
So high, that all the glittering, misty world,
All summer's splendid tempests, lay below,
And sudden lightnings quivered at his feet;
So still, not any sound of silentness
Expressed the silence, nor the pallid sun
Burned on his eyelids; all alone and still,
Save for the prayer that struggled from his lips,
Broken with eager stress. Then he arose.
But always, down the hoary mountain-side,
Through whispering forests, by soft-rippled streams,
In clattering streets, or the great city's roar,
Still from his never sated soul went up,
"Give me Thy Quest! Show me the Sangreal, Lord!"
Through all the land there poured a trumpet's clang,
And when its silvery anger smote the air,
Men sprang to arms from every true man's home,
And followed to the field. He followed, too,—
All the mad blood of manhood in his veins,
All the fierce instincts of a warring race
Kindled like flame in every tingling limb,
And raging in his soul on fire with war.
He heard a thousand voices call him on:
Lips hot with anguish, shrieking their despair
From swamps and forests and the still bayous
That hide the wanderer, nor bewray his lair:
From fields and marshes where the tropic sun
Scorches a million laborers scourged to work;
From homes that are not homes; from mother-hearts
Torn from the infants lingering at their breasts;
From parted lovers, and from shuddering wives;
From men grown mad with whips and tyranny;
[pg 350]
From all a country groaning in its chains.
Nor sleep, nor dream beguiled him any more;
He leaped to manhood in one torrid hour,
And armed, and sped to battle. Now no more
He cried or prayed,—"Show me the Sangreal, Lord!"
So in the front of deadly strife he stood;
The glorious thunder of the roaring guns,
The restless hurricane of screaming shells,
The quick, sharp singing of the rifle-balls,
The sudden clash of sabres, and the beat
Of rapid horse-hoofs galloping at charge,
Made a great chorus to his valorous soul,
The dreadful music of a grappling world,
That hurried him to fight. He turned the tide,
But fell upon its turning. Over him
Fluttered the starry flag, and fluttered on,
While he lay helpless on the trampled sward,
His hot life running scarlet from its source,
And all his soul in sudden quiet spent,
As still as on the silent mountain-top;
So still that from his quick-remembering heart
Burst that old cry,—"Show me the Sangreal, Lord!"
Then a bright mist descended over him,
And in its central glory stood a shape,
Wounded, yet smiling. With His bleeding hands
Stretched toward that bleeding side, His eyes divine
Like a new dawn, thus softly spake the Lord:—
"The blood poured out for brothers is my blood;
The flesh for brothers broken is my flesh;
No more in golden chalices I dwell,
No longer in a vision, angel-borne:
Here is the Sangreal, here the Holy Quest.
Thy prayer is heard, thy soul is satisfied:
Come, my belovèd! I am come for thee.
As first I broke the bread and poured the wine,
So have I broken thee and poured thy life,
So do I bless thee and give thanks for thee,
So do I bear thee in my wounded hands."
Smiling, He stooped, and kissed the tortured brow,
And over all its anguish stole a smile;
The blood-sealed lips unclosed; the dying breath
Sighed, like the rain-sound in a summer wind,
Sobbing, but sweet,—"I see the Sangreal, Lord!"
[pg 351]


In the notice of so memorable a man, even the briefest prelusive flourish seems uncalled for; and so indeed it would be, if by such means it were meant simply to justify the undertaking. In regard to any of the great powers in literature there exists already a prevailing interest, which cannot be presumed to slumber for one moment in any thinking mind.5 By way of notification, there is no need of prelude. Yet there are occasions, as, for example, the entrances of kings, which absolutely demand the inaugural flourish of arms,—which, like the rosy flood of dawn, require to be ushered in by a train of twilight glories. And there are lives which proceed as by the movements of music,—which, must therefore be heralded by overtures: majestic steppings, heard in the background, compel us, through mere sympathy with their pomp of procession, to sound the note of preparation.

Else I should plunge in medias res upon a sketch of De Quincey's life; were it not a rudeness amounting to downright profanity to omit the important ceremony of prelibation, and that at a banquet to which, implicitly, gods are invited. The reader will assuredly unite with me in all such courtesies,—

"Neu desint epulis rosæ";

particularly as the shade we deal with can be evoked only by peculiar incantations,—only the heralding of certain precise claims will this monarch listen to as the just inferiæ, the fitting sacrifice or hecatomb of our homage.

The key-note of preparation, the claim which preëminently should be set forth in advance, is this: that De Quincey was the prince of hierophants, or of pontifical hierarchs, as regards all those profound mysteries which from the beginning have swayed the human heart, sometimes through the light of angelic smiles lifting it upwards to an altitude just beneath the heavens, and sometimes shattering it, with the shock of quaking anguish, down to earth. As it was the function of the hierophant, in the Grecian mysteries, to show the sacred symbols as concrete incarnations of faith, so was it De Quincey's to reveal in open light the everlasting symbols, universally intelligible when once disclosed, which [pg 352] are folded in the involutions of dreams and of those meditations which most resemble dreams; and as to the manner of these revelations, no Roman pontifex maximus, were it even Cæsar himself, could have rivalled their magisterial pomp.

The peculiarities of his life all point in the direction here indicated. It was his remarkable experience which furnished him the key to certain secret recesses of human nature hitherto sealed up in darkness. Along that border-line by which the glimmerings of consciousness are, as by the thinnest, yet the most impervious veil, separated from the regions of the unexplored and the undefinable, De Quincey walked familiarly and with privileged eye and ear. Many a nebulous mass of hieroglyphically inscribed meanings did he—this Champollion, defying all human enigmas, this Herschel, or Lord Rosse, forever peering into the obscure chasms and yawning abysses of human astronomy—resolve into orderly constellations, that, once and for all, through his telescopic interpretation and enlargement, were rendered distinct and commensurable amongst men. The conditions of his power in this respect are psychologically inseparable from the remarkable conditions of his life, two of which are especially to be noticed. First, a ruling disposition towards meditation, constituting him, in the highest sense of the word, a poet. Secondly, the peculiar qualities which this singular mental constitution derived from his use of opium,—qualities which, although they did not increase, or even give direction to his meditative power, at least magnified it, both optically, as to its visual capacity, and creatively, as to its constructive faculty. These two conditions, each concurrent with the other in its ruling influence, impart to his life a degree of psychological interest which belongs to no other on record. Nor is this all. The reader knows how often a secondary interest will attach to the mightiest of conquerors or to the wisest of sovereigns, who is not merely in himself, and through his own deeds, magnificent, but whose glory is many times repeated and piled up by numerous reverberations of itself from a contemporary race of Titans. Thus, doubtless, Charles V., although himself King of Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and a portion of Italy, gloried in the sublime empery of the Turkish Solyman, as by some subtile connection of fate sympathetic with his own. A secondary interest of this nature belongs to the life of De Quincey,—a life which inclosed, as an island, a whole period of English literature, one, too, which in activity and originality is unsurpassed by any other, including the names of Scott and Dickens, of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lamb, and Southey, of Moore, Byron, Shelley, and Keats. His connection with very many of these was not simply that of coëxistence, but also of familiar intercourse.

Between De Quincey's life and his writings it is impossible that there should be any distraction of interest, so intimately are the two interwoven: in this case more so than in that of any known author. Particularly is this true of his more impassioned writings, which are a faithful rescript of his all-impassioned life. Hierophant we have called him,—the prince of hierophants,—having reference to the matter of his revelations; but in his manner, in his style of composition, he is something more than this: here he stands the monarch amongst rhapsodists. In these writings are displayed the main peculiarities of his life and genius.

But, besides these, there is a large section of his works, the aim of which is purely intellectual, where feeling is not at all involved; and surely there is not, in either ancient or modern literature, a section which, in the same amount of space, exhibits the same degree of intense activity on the part of the analytic understanding, applied to the illustration of truth or to the solution of vexed problems. This latter class is the more remarkable from its polar antithesis to the former; just as, in his life, it is a most remarkable characteristic of the man, [pg 353] that, rising above all other men through the rhapsodies of dreams, he should yet be able truly to say of himself that he had devoted a greater number of hours to intellectual pursuits than any other man whom he had seen, heard of, or read of. A wider range is thus exhibited, not of thought merely, but also of the possible modes of expressing thought, than is elsewhere to be found, even in writers the most skilled in rhetorical subtilty. The distance between these two opposites De Quincey does not traverse by violent leaps; he does not by some feat of legerdemain evanish from the fields of impassioned eloquence, where he is an unrivalled master, to appear forthwith in those of intellectual gymnastics, where, at least, he is not surpassed. He is familiar with every one of the intervening stages between the rhapsody and the demonstration,—between the loftiest reach of aspirant passion, from which, with reptile instinct, the understanding slinks downwards to the earth, and that fierce antagonism of naked thoughts, where the crested serpent "mounts and burns." His alchemy is infinite, combining light with warmth in all degrees,—in pathos, in humor,6 in genial illumination. Let the reader, if he can, imagine Rousseau to have written "Dinner, Real and Reputed," or the paper on "The Essenes," in both of which great erudition is necessary, but in which erudition is as nothing when compared to the faculty of recombining into novel forms what previously had been so grouped as to be misunderstood, or had lacked just the one element necessary for introducing order. To have written these would have entitled Rousseau to a separate sceptre. Or, moving into a realm of art totally distinct from this, suppose him to have been the author of "Murder considered as one of the Fine Arts": that would mount a new plume in Rousseau's hat. But I happen just now to be reminded of another little paper, numbering about six pages, entitled, "On the Knocking at the Gate, in Macbeth": give him that, too. Why, the [pg 354] little French king is beginning to assume an imperial consequence! We beg the reader's pardon for indulging in comparisons of this nature, which are always disagreeable; but we have this excuse, that the two writers are often mentioned as on the same level, and with no appreciation of that unlimited range of power which belongs to De Quincey, but not at all to Rousseau. All but one of the trophies which we have hypothetically transferred to the Frenchman adorn a single volume out of twenty-two, in the Boston edition. Nor is this one imperial column adorned by these alone: there are, besides,—alas for Rousseau!—two other spolia opima by which the French master is, in his own field, proved not the first, nor even the second,—proximus, sed non secundus,—so wide is the distance between De Quincey and any other antagonist. These two are the essays respectively entitled, "Joan of Arc," and "The English Mail-Coach."

It is impossible to be exhaustive upon such a subject as that which I have undertaken. I shall select, therefore, two prominent centres, about which the thoughts which I wish to present naturally revolve: De Quincey's childhood, and his opium-experiences.

Thomas de Quincey—hierophant, rhapsodist, philosopher—was born at Greenhay, then a suburb of Manchester, in Lancashire County, England, on the 15th of August, 1785. According to his own account, the family of the De Quinceys was of Norwegian origin; and after its transfer to France, in connection with William the Norman, it received its territorial appellation from the village of Quincy, in Normandy. Thence, at the time of the Norman Invasion, it was transplanted to England, where, as afterwards in Scotland, it rose to the highest position, not merely in connection with a lordly title and princely estates, but chiefly on account of valuable services rendered to the State, and conferring preeminence in baronial privilege and consideration.

So sensitive was De Quincey, even at the early age of fifteen, on the point of his descent, lest from his name he might be supposed of French extraction, that, even into the ears of George III. (that king having, in an accidental interview with him at Frogmore, suggested the possibility of his family having come to England at the time of the Huguenot exodus from France) he ventured to breathe the most earnest protest against any supposition of that nature, and boldly insisted upon his purely Norman blood,—blood that in the baronial wars had helped to establish the earliest basis of English constitutional liberty, and that had flowed from knightly veins in the wars of the Crusades. Robert De Quincey came into England with William the Conqueror, uniting with whose fortunes, he fared after the Conquest as a feudal baron, founding the line of Winchester; and that he was a baron of the first water is evident from the statement of Gerard Leigh,—that his armorial device was inscribed (and how inscribed, if not memorially and as a mark of eminent distinction?) on the stained glass in the old church of St. Paul's.

And here it is proper that the reader's attention should be momentarily diverted to the American branch of this family, at the head of which stands the Hon. Josiah Quincy, (the aristocratic De being omitted,)—a branch which fled from England in the early part of the seventeenth century, to avoid a strife which had then become too intense and fiery to admit of reconciliation, and which, indeed, a few years after their withdrawal, culminated in civil war. As illustrating the inevitableness of any great moral issue, no matter how vast the distance which at a critical moment we may put between it and ourselves,—as indicating how surely the Nemesis, seemingly avoided, but really only postponed, will continue to track our flying footsteps, even across the barren wastes of ocean, that ought, if anything could, to interpose an effectual barrier between us and all pursuers, and, having caught up with us in our fancied [pg 355] retreat, will precipitate upon our devoted heads its accumulated violence,—as demonstrating thus the melancholy persistence with which that ugly Sphinx who impersonates Justice in our human affairs doggedly insists on having her questions answered, and, coming by a circuitous route upon those who by good luck have escaped her direct path, through an incarnation of unusual terror compels her dread alternative,—it is interesting to note how this same family, separated by over seven generations from one political revolution, the momentous crisis of which was by them successfully evaded, are now, after an interval of unsound and hollow peace, compelled to witness the precise reiteration of that storm, in the very land to which they fled for refuge,—a reiteration that repeats, only on a different stage, and under an aggravation of horror as to minute details, not merely two antagonistic races corresponding on either side to those which met in battle on Marston Moor, but also interests far outweighing any that could possibly attach to a conflict between royalty and democracy.

But the Earls of Winchester, in England, whatever may have been their prosperity during the nine or ten generations after the Conquest, came suddenly to an abrupt termination, abutting at length on some guilty traitor in the line, who, like a special Adam for the family, involved in his own ruin that prosperity which would else have continued to his successors. The dissevered fragments of the old feudal estate, however, remained in possession of separate members of the family, as De Quincey tells us, until the generation next preceding his own, when the last vestige slipped out of the hands of the one sole squire who, together with the name, held also some relic of its ancient belongings. But above the diluvial wreck of the Winchester estates there has arisen an estate far more royal and magnificent, and beneath a far-reaching bow of promise, sealed in magical security against a similar disaster. For just here, where every hold is lost upon the original heritage, is the family freshly grounded upon a second heritage,—one sublime in its order above that of all earthly possessions, one that is forever imperishable,—namely, the large domain which the gigantic intellect of Thomas De Quincey has absolved from aboriginal darkness and brought under distinct illumination for all time to come. These are the vast acres over which human pride must henceforth soar,—acres that have been, through the mighty realizations of human genius, built out into the mysterious ocean-depths of chaotic Nature, and that have in some measure bridged over infinite chasms in thought, and by just so far have extended the fluctuating boundaries of human empire. And for De Quincey himself, in view of that monumental structure which rises above the shattered wrecks of his poor, frail body, as above the mummied dust of Egyptian kings remain eternally the pyramids which they wrought in their lifetime, we find it impossible to cherish a single regret, that, possibly, by the treasonable slip of a predecessor, he may have been robbed of an earldom,—or even that, during a life which by some years overlapped the average allotment to humanity, and through which were daily accumulating the most splendid results in the very highest departments of philosophy and art, these accumulations nevertheless went on without any notable recognition from a court the most liberal in all Europe; no badge of outward knighthood coming to him through all these years, as formerly to Sir Thomas Browne for his subtile meditations, and to Sir William Hamilton for his philosophic speculations. The absence of such merely nominal titles excites in us no deep regret; there is in them little that is monumental, and the pretty tinsel, with which they gild monuments already based on substantial worth, is easily, and without a sigh, exchanged for that everlasting sunshine reflected from the loving remembrances of human hearts.

But at the same time that we so willingly dispense with these nominal conditions [pg 356] in the case of De Quincey,—though, assuredly, there was never a man upon earth whom these conditions, considered as aërial hieroglyphs of the most regal pomp and magnificence, would more consistently fit,—we cannot thus easily set aside those other outward conditions of affluence and respectability, which, by their presence or absence, so materially shape and mould the life, and particularly in its earliest tendencies and impulses,—in that season of immature preparation when the channels of habit are in the process of formation, and while yet a marvellous uncertainty hangs and broods over the beginnings of life, as over the infant rivulet yet dandled and tended by its mountain-nurses. For, although there are certain elements which rigidly and by a foreseen certainty determine its course, as, for instance, an extraordinary vantage-height of source, securing for it the force and swiftness of a torrent,—yet how shifting are the mountain-winds, chilling into frosty silence or quickening with Favonian warmth, and how shifting the flying clouds, which, whether marshalled in mimic tournament above it, or in the shock of a real conflict, forever sway its tender fountains! Thus, even in inexperienced childhood, do the scales of the individual destiny begin, favorably or unfavorably, to determine their future preponderations, by reason of influences merely material, and before, indeed, any sovereignty save a corporeal one (in conjunction with heavenly powers) is at all recognized in life. For, in this period, with which above all others we associate influences the most divine, "with trailing clouds of glory," those influences which are purely material are the most efficiently operative. Against the former, adult man, in whom reason is developed, may battle, though ignobly, and, for himself, ruinously; and against the latter oftentimes he must struggle, to escape ignominious shipwreck. But the child, helpless alike for both these conflicts, is, through the very ignorance which shields him from all conscious guilt, bound over in the most impotent (though, because impotent and unconscious, the least humiliating) slavery to material circumstance,—a slavery which he cannot escape, and which, during the period of its absolutism, absorbs his very blood, bone, and nerve. To poverty, which the strong man resists, the child succumbs; on the other hand, that affluence of comfort, from which philosophy often weans the adult, wraps childhood about with a sheltering care; and fortunate indeed it is, if the mastery of Nature over us during our first years is thus a gentle dealing with us, fertilizing our powers with the rich juices of an earthly prosperity. And in this respect De Quincey was eminently fortunate. The powers of heaven and of earth and—if we side with Milton and other pagan mythologists in attributing the gift of wealth to some Plutonian dynasty—the dark powers under the earth seem to have conjointly arrayed themselves in his behalf. Whatever storms were in the book of Fate written against his name they postponed till a far-off future, in the mean time granting him the happiest of all childhoods. Really of gentle blood, and thus gaining whatever substantial benefits in constitutional temperament and susceptibilities could be thence derived, although lacking, as Pope also had lacked, the factitious circumstance and airy heralding of this distinction, he was, in addition to this, surrounded by elements of aristocratic refinement and luxury, and thus hedged in not merely against the assault, in any form, of pinching poverty, (as would be any one in tolerably comfortable circumstances,) but even against the most trivial hint of possible want,—against all necessity of limitation or retrenchment in any normal line of expenditure.

He was the son of a merchant, who, at the early age of thirty-nine, died, leaving to his family—a wife and six children—an estate yielding annually an income of sixteen hundred pounds. And as at his father's death De Quincey was seven years old, we may reasonably infer, that, during this previous period, while his father was still living, and adding to this [pg 357] fixed a fluctuating income from his yearly gains, (which to a wholesale merchant of his standing were considerable,) the family-fortunes were even more auspicious, amounting to the yearly realization of between two and three thousand pounds, and that at a time when Napoleon had not as yet meddled with the financial affairs of Europe, nor by his intimidations caused even pounds and shillings to shrink into less worth and significance than they formerly had,—in view of which fact, if we are to charge Alexander the Great (as in a famous anecdote he was charged) with the crime of highway-robbery, as the "snapper-up of unconsidered trifles" in the way of crowns and a few dozen sceptres, what a heinous charge must be brought against this Corsican as universal pickpocket! This pecuniary depreciation De Quincey himself realized some years later, when, determining to quit school, he thought himself compelled7 to cut off all communication with his guardians, and gave himself up to a Bohemian life among the Welsh mountains, wandering from one rustic valley to another with the most scanty means of support,—for just then the Allies were in full rig against France, and the shrinkage of guineas in our young wanderer's pocket became palpably evident in view of the increased price of his dinner.

The time did come at length when the full epos of a remarkable prosperity was closed up and sealed for De Quincey. But that was in the unseen future. To the child it was not permitted to look beyond the hazy lines that bounded his oasis of flowers into the fruitless waste abroad. Poverty, want, at least so great as to compel the daily exercise of his mind for mercenary ends, was stealthily advancing from the rear; but the sound of its stern steppings was wholly muffled by intervening years of luxurious opulence and ease.

I dwell thus at length upon the aristocratic elegance of De Quincey's earliest surroundings, (which, coming at a later period, I should notice merely as an accident,) because, although not a potential element, capable of producing or of adding one single iota to the essential character of genius, it is yet a negative condition—a sine qua non—to the displays of genius in certain directions and under certain aspects. By misfortune it is true that power may be intensified. So may it by the baptism of malice. But, given a certain degree of power, there still remains a question as to its kind. So deep is the sky: but of what hue, of what aspect? Wine is strong, and so is the crude alcohol but what the mellowness? And the blood in our veins, it is an infinite force: but of what temper? Is it warm, or is it cold? Does it minister to Moloch, or to Apollo? Will it shape the Madonna face, or the Medusa? Why, the simple fact that the rich blue sky over-arches this earth of ours, or that it is warm blood which flows in our veins, is sufficient to prove that no malignant Ahriman made the world. Just here the question is not, what increment or what momentum genius may receive from outward circumstances, but what coloring, what mood. Here it is that a Mozart differs from a Mendelssohn. The important difference which obtains, in this respect, between great powers in literature, otherwise coördinate, will receive illustration from a comparison between De Quincey and Byron. For both these writers were capable, in a degree rarely equalled in any literature, of reproducing, or rather, we should say, of reconstructing, the pomp of Nature and of human life. In this general office they stand together: both wear, in our eyes, the regal purple; both have caused to rise between earth and heaven miracles of grandeur, such as never Cheops [pg 358] wrought through his myriad slaves, or Solomon with his fabled ring. But in the final result, as in the whole modus operandi, of their architecture, they stand apart toto coelo. Byron builds a structure that repeats certain elements in Nature or humanity; but they are those elements only which are allied to gloom, for he builds in suspicion and distrust, and upon the basis of a cynicism that has been nurtured in his very flesh and blood from birth; he erects a Pisa-like tower which overhangs and threatens all human hopes and all that is beautiful in human love. Who else, save this archangelic intellect, shut out by a mighty shadow of eclipse from the bright hopes and warm affections of all sunny hearts, could have originated such a Pandemonian monster as the poem on "Darkness"? The most striking specimen of Byron's imaginative power, and nearly the most striking that has ever been produced, is the apostrophe to the sea, in "Childe Harold." But what is it in the sea which affects Lord Byron's susceptibilities to grandeur? Its destructiveness alone. And how? Is it through any high moral purpose or meaning that seems to sway the movements of destruction? No; it is only through the gloomy mystery of the ruin itself,—ruin revealed upon a scale so vast and under conditions of terror the most appalling,—ruin wrought under the semblance of an almighty passion for revenge directed against the human race. Thus, as an expression of the attitude which the sea maintains toward man, we have the following passage of Æschylian grandeur, but also of Æschylian gloom:—

      "Thou dost arise
  And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
  For earth's destruction thou dost all despise,
  Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
  And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray,
  And howling, to his gods, where haply lies
  His petty hope in some near port or bay,
And dashest him again to earth: there let him lay!"

Who but this dark spirit, forever wooing the powers of darkness, and of darkness the most sullen, praying to Nemesis alone, could, with such lamentable lack of faith in the purity and soundness of human affections, have given utterance to a sentiment like this:—

"O love! no habitant of earth thou art,—
An unseen seraph we believe in thee"?

or the following:—

"Who loves, raves,—'tis youth's frenzy," etc.?

and again:—

"Few—none—find what they love or could have loved,
Though accident, blind contact, and the strong
>Necessity of loving having removed

This, then, is the nearest approach to human love,—the removal of all antipathies! But even these

      "recur erelong,
  Envenomed with irrevocable wrong:
  And circumstance—that unspiritual god
  And miscreator—makes and helps along
  Our coming evils with a crutch-like rod,
Whose touch turns hope to dust,—the dust which all have trod."

De Quincey, on the other hand, in whose heart there was laid no such hollow basis for infidelity toward the master-passions of humanity, repeated the pomps of joy or of sorrow, as evolved out of universal human nature, and as, through sunshine and tempest, typified in the outside world,—but never for one instant did he seek alliance, on the one side, with the shallow enthusiasm of the raving Bacchante, or, on the other, with the overshadowing despotism of gloom; nor can there be found on a single page of all his writings the slightest hint indicating even a latent sympathy with the power which builds only to crush, or with the intellect that denies, and that against the dearest objects of human faith fulminates its denials and shocking recantations solely for the purposes of scorn.

Whence this marked difference? To account for it, we must needs trace back to the first haunts of childhood the steps [pg 359] of these two fugitives, each of whom has passed thence, the one into a desert mirage, teeming with processions of the gloomiest falsities in life, and the other—also into the desert, but where he is yet refreshed and solaced by an unshaken faith in the genial verities of life, though separated from them by irrecoverable miles of trackless wastes, and where, however apparently abandoned and desolate, he is yet ministered unto by angels, and no mimic fantasies are suffered to exercise upon his heart their overmastering seductions to

"Allure, or terrify, or undermine."

Whether the days of childhood be our happiest days, is a question all by itself. But there can be no question as to the inevitable certainty with which the conditions of childhood, fortunate or unfortunate, determine the main temper and disposition of our lives. For it is underneath the multitude of fleeting proposals and conscious efforts, born of reason, and which, to one looking upon life from any superficial stand-point, seem to have all to do with its conduct, that there runs the undercurrent of disposition, which is born of Nature, which is cradled and nurtured with us in our infancy, which is itself a general choice, branching out into our specific choices of certain directions and aims among all opposite directions and aims, and which, although we rarely recognize its important functions, is in all cases the arbiter of our destiny. And in the very word disposition is indicated the finality of its arbitraments as contrasted with all proposition.

Now, with respect to this disposition: Nature furnishes its basis; but it is the external structure of circumstance, built up or building about childhood,—to shelter or imprison,—which, more than all else, gives it its determinate character; and though this outward structure may in after-life be thoroughly obliterated, or replaced by its opposite,—porcelain by clay, or clay by porcelain,—yet will the tendencies originally developed remain and hold a sway almost uninterrupted over life. And, generally, the happy influences that preside over the child may be reduced under three heads: first, a genial temperament,—one that naturally, and of its own motion, inclines toward a centre of peace and rest rather than toward the opposite centre of strife; secondly, profound domestic affections; and, thirdly, affluence, which, although of all three it is the most negative, the most material condition, is yet practically the most important, because of the degree in which it is necessary to the full and unlimited prosperity of the other two. For how frequent are the cases in which the happiest of temperaments are perverted by the necessities of toil, so burdensome to tender years, or in which corroding anxieties, weighing upon parents' hearts, check the free play of domestic love!—and in all cases where such limitations are present, even in the gentlest form, there must be a cramping up of the human organization and individuality somewhere; and everywhere, and under all circumstances, there must be sensibly felt the absence of that leisure which crowns and glorifies the affections of home, making them seem the most like summer sunshine, or rather like a sunshine which knows no season, which is an eternal presence in the soul.

As regards all these three elements, De Quincey's childhood was prosperous; afterwards, vicissitudes came,—mighty changes capable of affecting all other transmutations, but thoroughly impotent to annul the inwrought grace of a pre-established beauty. On the other hand, Byron's childhood was, in all these elements, unfortunate. The sting left in his mother's heart by the faithless desertion of her husband, after the desolation of her fortunes, was forever inflicted upon him, and intensified by her fitful temper; and notwithstanding the change in his outward prospects which occurred afterwards, he was never able to lift himself out of the Trophonian cave into which his infancy had been thrust, any more than Vulcan could have cured that crooked gait of his, which dated from [pg 360] some vague infantile remembrances of having been rudely kicked out of heaven over its brazen battlements, one summer's day,—for that it was a summer's day we are certain from a line of "Paradise Lost," commemorating the tragic circumstance:—

"From morn till noon he fell, from noon till dewy eve—
A summer's day."

And this allusion to Vulcan reminds us that Byron, in addition to all his other early mishaps, had also the identical clubfoot of the Lemnian god. Among the guardians over Byron's childhood was a demon, that, receiving an ample place in his victim's heart, stood demoniacally his ground through life, transmuting love to hate, and what might have been benefits to fatal snares. Over De Quincey's childhood, on the contrary, a strong angel guarded to withstand and thwart all threatened ruin, teaching him the gentle whisperings of faith and love in the darkest hours of life: an angel that built happy palaces, the beautiful images of which, and their echoed festivals, far outlasted the splendor of their material substance.

"We,—the children of the house,—" says De Quincey, in his "Autobiographic Sketches," "stood, in fact, upon the very happiest tier in the social scaffolding for all good influences. The prayer of Agur—'Give me neither poverty nor riches'—was realized for us. That blessing we had, being neither too high nor too low. High enough we were to see models of good manners, of self-respect, and of simple dignity; obscure enough to be left in the sweetest of solitudes. Amply furnished with all the nobler benefits of wealth, with extra means of health, of intellectual culture, and of elegant enjoyment, on the other hand we knew nothing of its social distinctions. Not depressed by the consciousness of privations too sordid, nor tempted into restlessness by privileges too aspiring, we had no motives for shame, we had none for pride. Grateful, also, to this hour I am, that, amidst luxuries in all things else, we were trained to a Spartan, simplicity of diet,—that we fared, in fact, very much less sumptuously than the servants. And if (after the manner of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius) I should return thanks to Providence for all the separate blessings of my early situation, these four I would single out as worthy of special commemoration: that I lived in a rural solitude; that this solitude was in England; that my infant feelings were moulded by the gentlest of sisters, and not by horrid pugilistic brothers; finally, that I and they were dutiful and loving members of a pure, holy, and magnificent church."

Let the reader suppose a different case from that here presented. Let him suppose, for instance, that De Quincey, now arrived at the age of seven, and having now at least one "pugilistic brother" to torment his peace, could annul his own infancy, and in its place substitute that of one of the factory-boys of Manchester, of the same age, (and many such could be found,) among those with whom daily the military predispositions of this brother brought him into a disagreeable conflict. Instead of the pure air of outside Lancashire, let there be substituted the cotton-dust of the Lancashire mills. The contrast, even in thought, is painful. It is true that thus the irrepressible fires of human genius could not be quenched. Nay, through just these instrumentalities, oftentimes, is genius fostered. We need not the instance of Romulus and Remus, or of the Persian Cyrus, to prove that men have sometimes been nourished by bears or by she-wolves. Nevertheless, this is essentially a Roman nurture. The Greeks, on the contrary, laid their infant heroes on beds of violets,—if we may believe the Pindaric odes,—set over them a divine watch, and fed them with angels' food. And this Grecian nurture De Quincey had.

And not the least important element of this nurture is that of perfect leisure. Through this it is that we pass from the outward to the subjective relations of De Quincey's childhood; for only in connection with these has the element just introduced any value, since leisure, which [pg 361] is the atmosphere, the breathing-place of genius, is also cap and bells for the fool. In relation to power, it is, like solitude, the open heaven through which the grandeurs of eternity flow into the penetralian recesses of the human heart, after that once the faculties of thought, or the sensibilities, have been powerfully awakened. Sensibility had been thus awakened in De Quincey, through grief occasioned by the loss of a sister, his favorite and familiar playmate,—a grief so profound, that he, somewhere, in speaking of it, anticipates the certainty of its presence in the hour of death; and thought, also, had been prematurely awakened, both under the influence of this overmastering pathos of sorrow, and because of his strong predisposition to meditation. Both the pathos and the meditative tendencies were increased by the halcyon peace of his childhood. In a memorial of the poet Schiller, he speaks of that childhood as the happiest, "of which the happiness has survived and expressed itself, not in distinct records, but in deep affection, in abiding love, and the hauntings of meditative power." His, at least, was the felicity of this echoless peace.

In no memorial is it so absolutely requisite that a marked prominence should be given to its first section as in De Quincey's. This is a striking peculiarity in his life. If it were not so, I should have seriously transgressed in keeping the reader's attention so long upon a point which, aside from such peculiarity, would yield no sufficient, at least no proportionate value. But, in the treatment of any life, that cannot seem disproportionate which enters into it as an element only and just in that ratio of prominence with which it enters into the life itself, No stream can rise above the level of its source. No life, which lacks a prominent interest as to its beginnings, can ever, in its entire course, develop any distinguishing features of interest. This is true of any life; but it is true of De Quincey's above all others on record, that, through all its successive arches, ascending and descending, it repeats the original arch of childhood. Repeats,—but with what marvellous transformations! For hardly is its earliest section passed, when, for all its future course, it is masked by a mighty trouble. No longer does it flow along its natural path, and beneath the open sky, but, like the sacred Alpheus, runs

"Through caverns measureless to man,
Down to the sunless sea."

Yet, amid the "briny tides" of that sea, amid turmoil and perplexity and the saddest of mysteries, it preserves its earliest gentleness, and its inward, noiseless peace, till once more it gushes up toward the sweet heaven through the Arethusan font of death. Easily, then, is it to be seen why De Quincey himself continually reverted, both in his conscious reminiscences and through the subconscious relapses of dreams, from a life clouded and disguised in its maturer years, to the unmasked purity of its earliest heaven. And what from the vast desert, what from the fatal wreck of life, was he to look back upon, for even an imaginary solace, if not upon the rich argosies that spread their happier sails above a calmer sea? We are forcibly reminded of the dream which Milton8 gives to his Christ in the desert, hungry and tired:—

      "There he slept,
And dreamed, as appetite is wont to dream,
Of meats and drinks, Nature's refreshment sweet.
Him thought he by the brook of Cherith stood,
And saw the ravens with their horny beaks
Food to Elijah bringing even and morn,
Though ravenous, taught to abstain from what they brought:
He saw the prophet also, how he fled
Into the desert, and how there he slept
Under a juniper, then how, awaked,
He found his supper on the coals prepared,
And by the angel was bid rise and eat,
And eat the second time after repose,
The strength whereof sufficed him forty days;
Sometimes that with Elijah he partook,
Or as a guest with Daniel at his pulse."

If the splendors of divinity could be so disguised by the severe necessities of the wilderness and of brutal hunger as to be thus solicited and baffled even in dreams,—if, by the lowest of mortal appetites, [pg 362] they could be so humiliated and eclipsed as to revel in the shadowy visions of merely human plenty,—then by how much more must the human heart, eclipsed at noon, revert, under the mask of sorrow and of dreams, to the virgin beauties of the dawn! with how much more violent revulsion must the weary, foot-sore traveller, lost in a waste of sands, be carried back through the gate of ivory or of horn to the dewy, flower-strewn fields of some far happier place and time!

The transition from De Quincey's childhood to his opium-experiences is as natural, therefore, as from strophe to antistrophe in choral antiphonies. Henceforth, as the reader already understands, we are not permitted to look upon a simple, undisguised life, unless we draw aside a veil as impenetrable as that which covers the face of Isis or the poppy-sceptred Demeter. Under this papaverian mask it is likely to be best known to the reader; for it is under the title of "Opium-Eater" that he is most generally recognized. It was through his Opium-Confessions, popular both as to matter and style, that he first conciliated and charmed the reading public,—and to such a degree that great expectations were awakened as to anything which afterwards he might write. This expectation heightens appreciation; and in this case it helped many a metaphysical dose down the voracious throat of the public, without its being aware of the nauseating potion, or experiencing any uncomfortable consequences. The flood of popularity produced by the Opium-Confessions among that large intellectual class of readers who, notwithstanding their mental capacity, yet insist upon the graces of composition and upon a subject of immediate and moving interest, was sufficient to float into a popular haven many a ship of heavier freightage, which might else have fallen short of port.

The general interest which is manifested in De Quincey personally is also very much due to the fact that he was an opium-eater, and an opium-eater willing to breathe into the public ear the peculiarities of his situation and its hidden mysteries, or "suspiria de profundis." This interest is partly of that vulgar sort which connects itself with all mysterious or abnormal phenomena in Nature or in the human mind, with a "What is it?" or a spiritual medium, and which is satisfied with a palpable exhibition of the novelty; and partly it is of a philosophical order, inquiring into the causes and modes of the abnormal development. It is rarely the case that human vision is especially or deliberately directed to the sun or the moon, except at the marvellous season of eclipse, when interest is awakened by the novelty of the appearance among the vulgar, and among philosophers by the unusual nature of the phenomenon, demanding explanation. Then it is that the people inhabiting this globe are excited by something which calls off their attention from terrestrial trifles to that which connects them with unknown worlds. If we had been born Hindoos, we should, at such times, exhibit our skittish tendencies, "shying" at the sun-eating monster with nervous apprehension, and should doubtless do our best, through horrid yells and tintinnabulations, towards getting up a tremendous counter-irritation upon the earth that should tell mightily on the nerves of this umbratilous tiger in the heavens. But since we are neither Hindoos nor Egyptians, nor skittish heathen of any sort, we take defiant attitudes and look through smoked glasses. At any rate, it is only at such times that we pay particular attentions, by way of courtesy, to foreign worlds. And of all the creatures of God which come within the circle of human knowledge or notice, which is it that may be said to enjoy the most continuous round of attentions, and to live in excitement the most nearly approaching to perpetual? It is the comet, which no sooner gets out of reach of our flying compliments than she becomes the pet of Jupiter's magnificent citizens, or calls forth deprecating murmurs from our shy sister Venus, and Mercury, our milder brother, who, from all such mischiefs, creeps as nearly as possible under the paternal [pg 363] wings of the Sun. No one of these erratic visitors can remember the time when she was not making a stir somewhere in the universe, or when a cloudy night, intercepting her from vision, would not have been as surely execrated as are the colds which afflict prima donnas.

Strikingly similar to our interest in these heavenly bodies is that which we manifest in mortal men. Here, too, it is the darkened orb or the eccentric comet that bespeaks especial notice. Judged by this interest, considered in its vulgar aspects, De Quincey would suffer gross injustice. Externally, and at one period of his life, I am certain that he had all the requisite qualifications for collecting a mob about him, and that, had he appeared in the streets of London after one of his long sojourns amongst the mountains, no unearthly wight of whatever description, no tattered lunatic or Botany-Bay convict, would have been able to vie with him in the picturesque déshabillé of the whole "turnout." Picture to yourself the scene. This "king of shreds and patches"—for, to the outward sense, he seems that now—has been "at large" for days, perhaps for two or three weeks; he has been unkennelled, and, among the lawless mountains, has felt no restraint upon his own lawlessness, however Cyclopean. Doubtless he has met with panthers and wolves, each one of whom will to its dying day retain impressive recollections of the wee monster, from which they fled as a trifle too uncanny even for them. As to his subsistence during these rambles, it would be very difficult to say how he managed that affair, at these, or indeed at any other times; and it may be that the prophetic limitation of a fast to forty days is now the urgent occasion of his return from vagabondism. One thing we may be sure of,—that he has made plentiful use of a certain magical drug hid away in his waistcoat-pocket. Like Wordsworth's brook, he has been wandering purposely and at his own sweet will, or rather where his feet have taken him; and he has laid him down to sleep wherever sleep may have chanced to find him.

The result we have here, in this uncouth specimen of humanity, in the matted hair, the soiled garments, and the straggling gait; and what gives the finishing touch to this grotesque picture is his utter unconsciousness of the ludicrous features of his situation, as they appear to other eyes. Soon, it is true, he will go through an Æson-like rejuvenation; for, in a certain cottage, there are hearts that anxiously await his return, and hands ready to fulfil their oft-repeated duties in the way of refitting him out for another tramp. But, before this transformation is effected, let us suppose the case of his being set down in the streets of London, somewhere in the vicinity of Cheapside. What an eddying of stragglers about this new-found focus of attraction! what amazement, and curiosity to find him out, if, indeed, he be find-out-able, and not, as the unmistakable papaverian odor suggests, some Stygian bird, hailing from the farther side of Lethe. But, Stygian or not, neither Hermes nor Pan (nor Panic, his namesake) could muster such a rabble at his heels, supposing him to appear on Cheapside!

In his innermost sensibilities he would have shrunk from this vulgar notice as from pollution itself. It would be monstrous to conceive of him in such situations, except for the purpose of showing that he had very much in his outward habit that would readily attract such a notice. In the same light we are to regard some illustrations which J. Hill Burton has given in "The Book-Hunter" of similar features in his character, and which I take the liberty of introducing here; for, although they have appeared in "Blackwood," and more lately in a book-form, they are still unpublished to many of my readers.

Thus, we have him pictured to us as he appeared at a dinner, "whereto he was seduced by the false pretence that he would there meet with one who entertained novel and anarchical views regarding the 'Golden Ass' of Apuleius. The festivities of the afternoon are far on, when a commotion is heard in the hall, as if some [pg 364] dog or other stray animal had forced its way in. The instinct of a friendly guest tells him of the arrival; he opens the door, and fetches in the little stranger. What can it be? A street-boy of some sort? His costume, in fact, is a boy's duffle great-coat, very threadbare, with a hole in it, and buttoned tight to the chin, where it meets the fragments of a party-colored belcher handkerchief; on his feet are list shoes, covered with snow, for it is a stormy winter night; and the trousers,—some one suggests that they are inner linen garments blackened with writing-ink, but that Papaverius never would have been at the trouble so to disguise them." De Quincey, led on by the current of his own thoughts,—though he was always too courteous to absorb the entire conversation,—talks on "till it is far into the night, and slight hints and suggestions are propagated about separation and home-going. The topic starts new ideas on the progress of civilization, the effect of habit on men in all ages, and the power of the domestic affections. Descending from generals to the specials, he could testify to the inconvenience of late hours: for was it not the other night, that, coming to what was, or what he believed to be, his own door, he knocked and knocked, but the old woman within either couldn't or wouldn't hear him, so he scrambled over a wall, and, having taken his repose in a furrow, was able to testify to the extreme unpleasantness of such a couch?"

"Shall I try another sketch of him, when, travel-stained and foot-sore, he glided in on us one night like a shadow, the child by the fire gazing on him with round eyes of astonishment, and suggesting that he should get a penny and go home,—a proposal which he subjected to some philosophical criticism very far wide of its practical tenor. How far he had wandered since he had last refreshed himself, or even whether he had eaten food that day, were matters on which there was no getting articulate utterance from him. How that wearied, worn little body was to be refreshed was a difficult problem: soft food disagreed with him; the hard he could not eat. Suggestions pointed at length to the solution of that vegetable unguent to which he had given a sort of lustre, and it might be supposed that there were some fifty cases of acute toothache to be treated in the house that night. How many drops? Drops! nonsense! If the wineglasses of the establishment were not beyond the ordinary normal size, there was no risk,—and so the weary is at rest for a time.

"At early morn, a triumphant cry of 'Eureka!' calls me to his place of rest. With his unfailing instinct he has got at the books, and lugged a considerable heap of them around him. That one which specially claims his attention—my best-bound quarto—is spread upon a piece of bedroom-furniture readily at hand, and of sufficient height to let him pore over it as he lies recumbent on the floor, with only one article of attire to separate him from the condition in which Archimedes, according to the popular story, shouted the same triumphant cry. He had discovered a very remarkable anachronism in the commonly received histories of a very important period. As he expounded it, turning up his unearthly face from the book with an almost painful expression of grave eagerness, it occurred to me that I had seen something like the scene in Dutch paintings of the Temptation of St. Anthony."

I cannot refrain from quoting from Mr. Burton one more example, illustrative of the fact that De Quincey, in money-matters, considered merely the immediate and pressing exigencies of the present. "He arrives very late at a friend's door, and on gaining admission,—a process in which he often endured impediments,—he represents, with his usual silver voice and measured rhetoric, the absolute necessity of his being then and there invested with a sum of money in the current coin of the realm,—the amount limited, from the nature of his necessities, which he very freely states, to seven shillings and sixpence. Discovering, or fancying he discovers, that his eloquence is likely [pg 365] to prove unproductive, he is fortunately reminded, that, should there be any difficulty in connection with security for the repayment of the loan, he is at that moment in possession of a document which he is prepared to deposit with the lender,—a document calculated, he cannot doubt, to remove any feeling of anxiety which the moat prudent person could experience in the circumstances. After a rummage in his pockets, which develops miscellaneous and varied, but as yet by no means valuable, possessions, he at last comes to the object of his search, a crumpled bit of paper, and spread it out,—a fifty-pound bank-note! All sums of money were measured by him through the common standard of immediate use; and, with more solemn pomp of diction than he applied to the bank-note, might he inform you, that, with the gentleman opposite, to whom he had hitherto been entirely a stranger, but who happened to be the nearest to him at the time when the exigency occurred to him, he had just succeeded in negotiating a loan of two-pence."

These pictures, though true to certain phases of De Quincey's outward life, are yet far from personally representing him, even to the eye. They satisfy curiosity, and that is about all. As to the real character of the man, they are negative and unessential; they represent, indeed, his utter carelessness as to all that, like dress, may at pleasure be put on or off, but "the human child incarnate" is not thus brought before us. For, could we but once look upon his face in rest, then should we forget these inferior attributes; just as, looking upon the Memnonian statues, one forgets the horrid nicknames of "Shandy" and "Andy" which they have received from casual travellers, observing merely their grotesque features. Features of this latter sort "dislimn" and yield, as the writing on palimpsests, to the regal majesty of the divine countenance, which none can look upon and smile. Let me paint De Quincey's face as at this moment I seem to see it. It is wrinkled as with an Homeric antiquity; arid it is, and sallow, as parchment. Through a certain Bedouin-like conformation,—which, however, is idealized by the lofty, massive forehead, and by the prevailing subtilty of the general expression,—it seems fitted to desert solitudes; and in this respect it is truly Memnonian. In another respect, also, is it Memnonian,—that, whenever should rest upon its features the morning sunlight, we should surely await its responsive requiem or its trembling jubilate. By a sort of instinctive palmistry (applied, not to the hands, but to the face) we interpret symbols of ineffable sorrow and of ineffable peace. These, too, are Memnonian,—as is also that infinite distance which seems to interpose between its subtile meanings and the very possibility of interpretation. This air of remoteness, baffling the impertinent crowd not less effectually than the dust which has gathered for centuries about the heads of Sphinxes, is due partly to the deeply sunken eyes beneath the wrinkled, overarching forehead; partly it arises from that childlike simplicity and sweetness which lurk in gentle undulations of the features,—undulations as of happy wavelets set in motion ages since, and that cannot cease forever; but chiefly it is born of a dream-like, brooding eternity of speculation, which we can trace neither to the eye alone, nor to the mouth, but rather to the effect which both together produce in the countenance.

This is the face which for more than half a century opium veiled to mortal eyes, and which refuses to reveal itself save through hints the most fugitive and impalpable. Here are draperies and involutions of mystery from which mere curiosity stands aloof. This is the head which we have loved, and which in our eyes wears a triple wreath of glory: the laurel for his Apollo-like art, the lotos-leaf for his impassioned dreams, and roses for his most gentle and loving nature.

How much of that which glorified De Quincey was due to opium? Very little as to quality, but very much as to the [pg 366] degree and the peculiar manner in which original qualities and dispositions are developed, for here it is that the only field of influence open to abnormal agencies lies. Coleridge, as an opium-eater, is the only individual worthy of notice in the same connection. Had he also confessed, it is uncertain what new revelations might have been made. It is certain that opium exercised a very potent effect upon him; for it was generally after his dose that his remarkable intellectual displays occurred. These displays were mostly confined to his conversations, which were usually long-winded metaphysical epics, evolving a continued series of abstractions and analyses, and, for their movement, depending upon a sort of poetic construction. A pity it is that we must content ourselves with empty descriptions of this nature. Here, doubtless, if anywhere, opium was an auxiliary to Coleridge. For a laudanum negus, whatever there may be about it that is pernicious, will, to a mind that is metaphysically predisposed, open up thoroughfares of thought which are raised above the level of the gross material, and which lead into the region of the shadowy. Show us the man who habitually carries pills of any sort in his waistcoat-pocket, be they opium or whatever else, and we can assure you that that man is an aërobat,—that somehow, in one sense or another, he walks in the air above other men's heads. Whatever disturbs the healthful isolation of the nervous system is prosperous to metaphysics, because it attracts the mental attention to the organism through which thought is carried on. Numerous are the instances of men who would never have been heard of as thinkers or as reflective poets, if they had had sufficient muscular ballast to pull against their teeming brains. The consequence of the disproportion has been that the superfluous brain has exhaled, as a mere necessity.9 If Tacitus had fared in any sort like his brother,—if there had been anything like an equitable division between them of muscle and brain, it is more than probable that we should have lost the illustrious historian.

Coleridge was indolent from temperament, a disposition which was increased by opium. Hence De Quincey was of the opinion that it injured Coleridge's poetic faculties; which probably was the case, since in genuine poetry the mind is prominently realistic, its motions are all outward, and therefore excessive indolence must of necessity be fatal.

De Quincey's physical system, on the contrary, seemed preconformed to opium: it demanded it, and would be satisfied with nothing else. No temptation so strong could have been presented to Coleridge. De Quincey really craved the drug. His stomach was deranged, and was still suffering from the sad results of his youthful wanderings in London. It seems almost as if fate had compelled the unfortunate course into which he finally drifted. The craving first appeared in the shape of a horrid gnawing at the stomach; afterwards this indefinite yearning gave place to a specific one, which was unmistakable in its demands. Daily, like the daughters of the horse-leech, it cried, "Give, give!" Toward the last, this craving became, in De Quincey's solemn [pg 367] belief, an animal incarnate, and the opium-eater reasoned after the following fashion:—It is not I that eat, it is not I that am responsible either for the fact of eating or the amount; am I the keeper of this horrid monster's conscience? He even carried the conceit so far as to consider a portion of each meal as especially devoted to this insane stomachic reveller, just as a voracious Greek or Roman would have attributed no small part of his outrageous appetite to the gods, as eating by proxy through the mouths of mortals. This is almost as bad as the case reported of Stonewall Jackson, who, it is said, religiously believed that whatever he ate was, by some mysterious physiological economy, conveyed into his left leg.

No less was De Quincey psychologically preconformed to opium. The prodigious mental activity so early awakened in him counteracted the narcotic despotism of the drug, and made it a sort of ally. The reader sees from this how much depends upon predispositions as to the effect of opium. De Quincey himself says that the man whose daily talk is of oxen will pursue his bovine speculations into dreams. Opium originates nothing; but, given activity of a certain type and moving in a certain direction, and there will be perhaps through opium a multiplication of energies and velocities. What was De Quincey without opium? is, therefore, the question preliminary to any proper estimate as to what in him was due to opium. This question has already been answered in the remarks made concerning his childhood. His meditative tendencies were especially noticed as most characteristic. There was besides this a natural leaning toward the mysterious,—the mysterious, I mean, as depending, not upon the terrible or ghostly, or upon anything which excites gloom or fear, but upon operations that are simply inscrutable as moving in darkness. Take, for example, the idea of a grand combination of human energies mustered together in secret, and operating through invisible agencies for the downfall of Christianity,—an idea which was conveyed to De Quincey in his childhood through the Abbé Baruel's book exposing such a general conspiracy was existing throughout Europe: this was the sort of mystery which arrested and engrossed his thoughts. Similar elements invested all secret societies with an awful grandeur in his conception. So, too, the complicated operations of great cities such as London, which he call the "Nation of London," where even Nature is mimicked, both in her strict regularity of results, and in the seeming unconsciousness of all her outward phases, hiding all meaning under the enigmas that defy solution. In order to this effect it was absolutely necessary that there should be not simply one mystery standing alone by itself, and striking in its portentous significance; there must have been more than this,—namely, a network of occult influences, a vast organization, wheeling in and out upon itself, gyrating in mystic cycles and epicycles, repeating over and again its dark omens, and displaying its insignia in a never-ending variety of shapes. To him intricacy the most perplexing was also the most inviting. It was this which lent an overwhelming interest to certain problems of history that presented the most labyrinthian mazes to be disinvolved: for the demon that was in him sought after hieroglyphics that by all others had been pronounced undecipherable; and not unfrequently it was to his eye that for the first time there seemed to be an unknown element that must be supplied. Such a problem was presented by the religious sect among the Hebrews entitled the Essenes. Admitting the character and functions of this sect to have been those generally ascribed to it no special importance. But the idea once having occurred to De Quincey that the general assumption was the farthest removed from the truth,—than there was an unknown x in the problem, which could be satisfied by no such meagre hypothesis,—that, to meet the urgent demands of the case, there must be substituted for this Jewish [pg 368] sect an organization of no less importance than the Christian Church itself,—that this organization, thus suddenly brought to light, was one, moreover, that, from the most imperative necessity, veiled itself from all eyes, uttering its sublime articles of faith, and even its very name, to itself only in secret recesses of silence:—from the moment that all this was revealed to De Quincey, there was thenceforth no limit to his profound interest. Two separate essays he wrote on this subject,10 of which he seemed never to tire.

"Klosterheim" is from beginning to end only the development, through regular stages, of an intricately involved mystery of this subtile nature. Oftentimes De Quincey deals with the horrid tragedy of murder; but the mere fact of a murder, however shocking, was not sufficient to arrest him. With the celebrated Williams murders, on the contrary, he was entirely taken up, since these proceeded in accordance with designs not traceable to the cursory glance, but which tasked the skill of a decipherer to interpret and reduce to harmony. Here were murders that revolved musically, that modulated themselves to master-principles, and that at every stage of progress sought alliance with the hidden mysteries of universal human nature. I know of no writer but De Quincey who invests mysteries of this tragic order with their appropriate drapery, so that they shall, to our imaginations, unfold the full measure of their capacities for striking awe into our hearts.

This sort of mystery is always connected with dreams. They owe their very existence to darkness, which withdraws them from the material limitations of every-day life; they are shifted to an ideal proscenium; their dramatis personæ, however familiar nominally, and however much derived from material suggestions, are yet in all their motions obedient to an alien centre as opposite as is possible to the ordinary centre about which the mere mechanism of life revolves. We should therefore expect beforehand in De Quincey an overruling tendency towards this remote architecture of dreams. The careful reader of his "Autobiographic Sketches" will remember, that, at the early age of seven, and before he knew of even the existence of opium, the least material hint which bordered on the shadowy was sufficient to lift him up into aërial structures, and to lead his infant footsteps amongst the clouds. Such hints, after his little sister's death, were furnished by certain expressions of the Litany, by pictures in the stained windows of the church, and by the tumult of the organ. Nor were the dreams thus introduced mere fantasies, irregular and inconsistent. Throughout, they were self-sustained and majestic.

The natural effects of opium were concurrent with preëxisting tendencies of De Quincey's mind. If, instead of having his restless intellect, he had been indolent,—if, instead of loving the mysterious, because it invited a Titanic energy to reduce its anarchy to order, he had loved it as simply dark or obscure,—if his natural subtilty of reflection had been less, or if he had been endowed with inferior powers in the sublime architecture of impassioned expression,—then might he as well have smoked a [pg 369] meerschaum, taken snuff or grog or any other stimulant, as to have gone out of his way for the more refined pleasures of opium.

The reader will indulge us in a single philosophical distinction, at this point, by which we mean to classify the effects of opium under two heads: first, the external, and, secondly, the internal. Properly speaking, all the positive effects of opium must be internal; for all its movements are inward in their direction, being refluent upon the focal centres of life. Thus, one of the most noticeable phenomena connected with opium-eating is the burden of life resting back upon the heart, which deliberately pulsates the moments of existence, as if the most momentous issues depended upon each separate throb. But this very reflux of sensibility will produce great effects at the surface, which are purely negative. This latter class of effects Homer has indicated with considerable accuracy, in the ninth Odyssey, (82-105,) where he notices specifically an air of carelessness regarding external things,—carelessness as to the mutual interchange of conversation by question and answer, and as to the ordinary pursuits of life as disturbing an inward peace. The same characteristics are more fully developed in Tennyson's "Lotos-Eaters":—

"Branches they bore of that enchanted stem,
Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave
To each; but whoso did receive of them,
And taste, to him the gushing of the wave,
Far, far away, did seem to mourn and rave
On alien shores; and if his fellows spake,
His voice was thin, as voices from the grave;
And deaf-asleep he seemed, yet all awake,
And music in his ears his beating heart did make."

By causing the life to flow inward upon a more ideal centre, opium deepens the consciousness, and compels it to give testimony to processes and connections that in ordinary moments escape unrecorded. It is as if new materials were found for a history of the individual life,—materials which, like freshly discovered records, sound the deepest meanings of the present and measure the abysses of the past. Thus it is that the fugitive imagery of sense is interpreted as a scroll which hides infinite truths under the most fleeting of symbols,—symbols which are not sufficiently enduring to call them words, or even syllables of words, since the most trivial hint or whisper of them has hardly reached us ere they have perished. Thus it is that even the still more intangible record of memory, where are preserved only images and echoes of that which undeniably has perished, is revivified and enlarged.

There is, then, in the opium-eater a most marked, a polar antithesis between his every-day life and the central manifestations of his genius. In the latter, there is beautiful order, as in a symphony of Beethoven's; but in the former, looked upon from without, all seems confusion. There is the same antithesis in every meditative mind; but here opium has heightened each part of the contrast. The more we admire the encentric harmonies of inwrapt power, the more do we find to draw forth laughter in the eccentricities of outward habit. The very same agencies which undisguised and unveiled the deep, divine heaven, masked the earth with desert sands; and De Quincey's outward life was thus masked and rendered abnormal, that the blue heaven in which he revelled might be infinitely exalted.

Thus is it possible for the seemingly ludicrous to harmonize with transcendent sublimity. We smile at De Quincey's giving in "copy" on the generous margins of a splendid "Somnium Scipionis"; but the precious words, that might perhaps have found some more fit vehicle to the composer's eye, could have found no deeper place in our hearts. We look at the hatless sleeper among the mountains: his face seems utterly blank and meaningless, and to all intents and purposes he seems as good as dead; but let us ascend with him in his dreams, and we shall soon forget that under God's heavens there exists mortality [pg 370] or the commonplace uses of mortality.

As we ascend from grotesque features to such as are more intellectual, that peculiarity of his character which most strikes us is his inimitable courtesy. Mr. F.,—to whom I am indebted for the most novel and interesting portions of this memorial,—from his own personal interviews with the man, among many other things, retains this chiefly in remembrance,—that De Quincey was the perfectest gentleman he had ever seen.

I take the liberty here of particularizing somewhat in regard to one visit which this friend of De Quincey's paid him, particularly as it introduces us to the man towards the last of his life (1851). Mr. F., curious as it may seem, found but one person in Edinburgh who could inform him definitely as to De Quincey's whereabouts. In return to a note, giving De Quincey information of his arrival, etc., the latter replies in a letter which is very characteristic, and which may well be highly prized, so rarely was it that any friend was able to obtain from him such a memento. The style, perhaps, is as familiar as it was ever his habit to indulge in; and it shows how impossible it was for him, even on the most temporary summons, to dispense with his usual regularity of expression or with any logical nicety of method. The letter runs thus:—

Thursday evening, August 26, 1851.

"My dear Sir,—The acccompanying billet from my daughter, short at any rate under the pressure of instant engagements, has been cut shorter by a sudden and very distressing headache; I, therefore, who (from a peculiar nervousness connected with the act of writing) so rarely attempt to discharge my own debts in the letter-writing department of life, find myself unaccountably, I might say mysteriously, engaged in the knight-errantry of undertaking for other people's. Wretched bankrupt that I am, with an absolute refusal on the part of the Commissioner to grant me a certificate of the lowest class, suddenly, and by a necessity not to be evaded, I am affecting the large bounties of supererogation. I appear to be vaporing in a spirit of vainglory; and yet it is under the mere coercion of 'salva necessitas' that I am surprised into this unparalleled instance of activity. Do you walk? That is, do you like walking for four hours 'on end'—(which is our archaic expression for continuously)? If I knew that, I would arrange accordingly for meeting you. The case as to distance is this. The Dalkeith railway, from the Waverley station, brings you to Esk Bank. That is its nearest approach,—its perihelion, in relation to ourselves; and it is precisely two and three-quarters miles distant from Mavis Bush,—the name of our cottage. Close to us, and the most noticeable object for guiding your inquiries, is Mr. Annandale's Paper-Mills.

"Now, then, accordingly as you direct my motions, I will—rain being supposed absent—join you at your hotel in Edinburgh any time after 11 A.M. and walk out the whole distance, (seven miles from the Scott monument,) or else I will meet you at Esk Bank; or, if you prefer coming out in a carriage, I will await your coming here in that state of motionless repose which best befits a philosopher. Excuse my levity; and believe that with sincere pleasure we shall receive your obliging visit.

"Ever your faithful servant,


In order to appreciate the physical powers of him who proposed a walk of the distance indicated in the letter, we must remember that he was then just sixty-six years plus ten days old. He was now living with his daughters, in the utmost simplicity. On his arrival, Mr. F. found De Quincey awaiting him at the door of his cottage,—a short man, with small head, and eyes that were absolutely indescribable as human features, with a certain boyish awkwardness of manner, but with the most urban-like courtesy and affability. From noon till [pg 371] dark, the time is spent in conversation, continued, various, and eloquent. What a presence is there in this humble, unpretending cottage! And as the stream of Olympian sweetness moves on, now in laughing ripples, and again in a solemn majestic flood, what a past do we bring before ourselves! what a present! For this is he that talked with Coleridge, that was the friend of Wilson,—and—what furnishes a more sublime suggestion—this is he that knows by heart the mountain-fells and the mysterious recesses of hidden valleys for miles around; and we think, if he could convey us from the haunts of this Lasswade of his old age to those which glorified the Grasmere of his youth, what new chords he might touch,—of human love, for there it was that the sweetness of his wedded life had been buried and embalmed in a thousand outward memorials of happy hours long gone by,—and of human sadness, for there it was that he had experienced the reversal of every outward fortune, and the alienations of friendships which he most highly valued. But the remembrances of Grasmere and of youth seem now to have been removed as into some other life: the man of a past generation walks alone, and amid other scenes. And yonder is the study in which he spends hours that are most holy,—hours consecrated to what specific employments is known to none, since across its threshold no feet save his have passed for years. Now and then some grand intellectual effort proceeds forth from its sacred precincts; but that only happens when pecuniary necessities compel the exertion. How is it that the time not thus occupied is spent?—in what remembrances, in what hidden thoughts, what passing dreams?

As it grows dark, De Quincey's guest, having spent most precious moments which he feels ought never to cease, signifies the necessity of his taking his departure. To take leave of this strange man, however, is not so easy a matter as one might rashly suppose. There is a genius of procrastination about him. Was he ever known to make his appearance at any dinner in season, or indeed at any entertainment? Yes, he did once, at the recital of a Greek tragedy on the Edinburgh stage; but that happened through a trick played on him by an acquaintance, who, to secure some remote chance of his seeing the performance, told him that the doors opened at half-past six, whereas, in fact, they opened at seven. How preposterous, then, to suppose that he would let an opportunity pass for procrastinating other people, and putting all manner of snares about their feet! It is dangerous with such a man to hint of late hours; for just that lateness is to him the very jewel of the thing. In mentioning the circumstance, you only suggest to him the infinite pleasure connected with the circumstance. Perhaps he will deliberately set to work to prove that candle-light is the one absolutely indispensable condition to genial intercourse,—which would doubtless suggest a great contrast, in that respect, between the ancient and modern economy,—and where, then, is there to be an end? All attempts to extricate yourself by unravelling the net which is being woven about you are hopelessly vain; you cannot keep pace with him. The thought of delay enchants him, and he dallies with it, as a child with a pet delicacy. Thus, he is at the house of a friend; it storms, and a reasonable excuse is furnished for his favorite experiment. The consequence is, that, once started in this direction, the delay is continued for a year. Late hours were particularly potent to "draw out" De Quincey; and, understanding this, Professor Wilson used to protract his dinners almost into the morning, a tribute which De Quincey doubtless appreciated.

So that it is better to be on the sly about saying "Good bye" to this host of yours. When, however, it was absolutely necessary to be gone, De Quincey forthwith insisted on accompanying his guest. What, then, was to be done? Ominously the sky looked down upon them, momently threatening a storm. No resource was there but to give the man his way, and accept his offer of companionship [pg 372] for a short distance, painfully conscious though you are of the fact that every step taken forwards must, during this same August night, be retraced by the weary-looking old man at your side, who now lacks barely four years of life's average allotment. Thus you move on: and the heavens move on their hurricanes by nearer approaches, warnings of which propagate themselves all around you in every sound of the wind and every rustle of the forest-leaves. Meanwhile, there is no rest to the silvery vocal utterances of your companion: every object by the way furnishes a ready topic for conversation. Just now you are passing an antiquated old mansion, and your guide stops to tell you that in this house may have been committed most strange and horrible murders, that, in spite of the tempestuous mutterings heard on every side, ought now and here to be specially and solemnly memorialized by human relation. A woman passes by, a perfect stranger, but De Quincey steps entirely out of the road to one side, takes off his hat, and in the most reverent attitude awaits her passage,—and you, poor astonished mortal that you are, lest you should yourself seem scandalously uncourteous, are compelled to do likewise. In this incident we see what infinite majesty invested the very semblance of humanity in De Quincey's thoughts: and something of the same remarkable courtesy was manifested by Rufus Choate, who uniformly addressed the lowest of women in the witness-box as if they were every one of them worthy of the most queenly consideration.

Onward you proceed,—one,—two,—three miles, and you can endure no longer the thought that your friend shall go on farther, increasing thus at every step the burden of his journey back. You have, reached the Esk bank and the bridge which spans the stream; the storm so long threatened begins now to let loose its rage against all unsheltered mortals. Here De Quincey consents to bid you good-bye,—to you his last good-bye; and as here you leave him, so is he forever enshrined in your thoughts, together with the primal mysteries of night and of storm, of human tragedies and of the most pathetic human tenderness.

But this paper, already sufficiently prolonged, should draw to a close. It is a source of great mortification to me that I cannot find some very disagreeable thing to say of De Quincey, merely as a matter of poetic justice; for assuredly he was in the habit of saying all the malicious things he could about his friends. If there was anything in a man's face or shape particularly uncouth, you might trust De Quincey for noticing that. Even Wordsworth he could not let off without a Parthian shot at his awkward legs and round shoulders; Dr. Parr he rated soundly on his mean proportions; and one of the most unfortunate things which ever happened to the Russian Emperor Alexander was to have been seen in London by De Quincey, who, even amid the festivities of national and international congratulation on the fall of Napoleon, could not forget that this imperial ally was a very commonplace-looking fellow, after all. But, in regard to physical superiority, De Quincey lived in a glass house too fragile to admit of his throwing many stones at his neighbors. The very fact that he valued personal appearance at so low an estimate takes away the sting from his remarks on the deformities of other people: he could not have meant any detraction, but simply wished to present a perfect picture to the eye, preserving the ugly features with the faultless, just as we all insist on doing in regard to those we love. De Quincey and myself, therefore, are likely to part good friends. Surely, if there was anything which vexed the tender heart of this man, it was "the little love and the infinite hate" which went to make up the sum of life. If morbid in any direction, it was not in that of spite, but of love; and as an instance of almost unnatural intensity of affection, witness his insane grief over little Kate Wordsworth's grave,—a grief which satisfied [pg 373] itself only by reasonless prostrations, for whole nights, over the dark mould which covered her from his sight.

It only remains for us to look in upon De Quincey's last hours. We are enabled to take almost the position of those who were permitted really to watch at his bedside, through a slight unpublished sketch, from the hand of his daughter, in a letter to an American friend. I tremble almost to use materials that personally are so sacred; but sympathy, and the tender interest which is awakened in our hearts by such a life, are also sacred, and in privilege stand nearest to grief.

During the few last, days of his life De Quincey wandered much, mixing up "real and imaginary, or apparently imaginary things." He complained, one night, that his feet were hot and tired. His daughter arranged the blankets around them, saying, "Is that better, papa?" when he answered, "Yes, my love, I think it is; you know, my dear girl, these are the feet that Christ washed."

Everything seemed to connect itself in his mind with little children. He aroused one day, and said suddenly,—"You must know, my dear, the Edinburgh cabmen are the most brutal set of fellows under the sun. I must tell you that I and the little children were all invited to supper with Jesus Christ. So, as you see, it was a great honor. I thought I must buy new dresses for the little ones; and—would you believe it possible?—when I went out with the children, these wretches laughed at their new dresses."

"Of my brothers he often spoke, both those that are dead and those that are alive, as if they were his own brothers. One night he said, when I entered the room,—

"'Is that you, Horace?'

"'No, papa.'

"'Oh, I see! I thought you were Horace; for he was talking to me just now, and I suppose has just left the room.'"

Speaking of his father, one day, suddenly and without introduction, he exclaimed,—"There is one thing I deeply regret, that I did not know my dear father better; for I am sure a better, kinder, or juster man could never have existed."

When death seemed approaching, the physician recommended that a telegram should be sent to the eldest daughter,11 who resided in Ireland, but he forbade any mention of this fact to the patient. De Quincey seemed to have a prophetic feeling that she was on her way to him, saying, "Has M. got to that town yet, that we stopped at when we went to Ireland? How many hours will it be before she can be here? Let me see,—there are eight hours before I can see her, and three added to that!" His daughter came sooner than the family expected; but the time tallied very nearly with the computation he had made. On the morning his daughter arrived occurred the first intimation his family had seen that the hand of death was laid upon him. He had passed a quiet, but rather sleepless night, appearing "much the same, yet more than ordinarily loving." After greeting his child, he said, "And how does mamma's little girl like her leaving her?" "Oh, they were very glad for me to come to grandpapa, and they sent you this kiss,—which they did of their own accord." He seemed much pleased. It was evident that M. presented herself to him as the mother of children, the constant theme of his wanderings. Once when his daughter quitted the room, he said, "They are all leaving me but my dear little children." "I heard him call, one day, distinctly, 'Florence! Florence! Florence!'—again, 'My dear, dear mother!'—and to the last he called us 'my love,' and it sounded like no other [pg 374] sound ever uttered. I never heard such pathos as there was in it, and in every tone of his voice. It gave me an idea of a love that passeth all understanding."

During the next night he was thought dying, "but he lingered on and on till half past nine the next morning. He told me something about 'to-morrow morning,' and something about sunshine; but the thought that he was talking about what he would never see drove the exact idea out of my head, though I am sure it was morning in another world he was talking of."

"There was an extraordinary appearance of youth about him, both for some time before and after death. He looked more like a boy of fourteen, and very beautiful. We did not like to let in the morning light, and the candle was burning at nine o'clock, when the post brought the following letter, which my sister and myself glanced over by the candle-light, just as we were listening to his decreasing breath. At the moment it did not strike me with the astonishment, at such an extraordinary coincidence, that when we came to read it afterwards it did.

"'Brighton, Dec. 7th, 1859.

"'My Dear De Quincey,—Before I quit this world, I most ardently desire to see your handwriting. In early life, that is, more than sixty years ago, we were school-fellows together and mutually attached; nay, I remember a boyish paper ("The Observer") in which we were engaged. Yours has been a brilliant literary career, mine far from brilliant, but I hope not unuseful as a theological student. It seems a pity we should not once more recognize one another before quitting the stage. I have often read your works, and never without remembering the promise of your talents at Winkfield. My life has been almost a domestic tragedy. I have four children in lunatic-asylums. Thank God, it is now drawing to a close; but it would cheer the evening of my days to receive a line from you, for I am, with much sincerity,

"'Your old and attached friend,


"I do not remember the name of G., but the name of Edward constantly recurred in his wanderings.

"Half an hour after the reading of that letter we heard those last pathetic sighs, so terrible from their very softness, and saw the poor, worn-out garment laid aside." Just before he died, he looked around the room, and said very tenderly to the nurse, the physician, and his daughters, who were present, "Thank you,—thank you all!" Sensible thus to the very last of kindness, he breathed out his life in simple thanks, swayed even in death by the spirit of profound courtesy that had ruled his life.

[pg 375]




"Here's something Gus Lewis would like to send by you, mother," said my hasty boy John, plunging into the room at nine in the evening, and stumbling over two trunks, three valises, and bandboxes countless.

The floor was strewn with bundles, and the mantel-piece adorned with letters, directed to Springfield, Hartford, New Haven, and New York.

"Oh! ah! yes. Any packages, if not too large," said I, wistfully eying the box, (a foot square,) full of fresh maple-sugar, with its card of direction to "Mrs. Lulu L., by the politeness of Mrs. Prince." Boy-like.

"First of all, my John, go you to bed, where Charley has been this half-hour, and say good-bye, for we shall be off before you are up."

"See, then, father, if you are!" retorted the wide-awake youth, going out of the room in ground and lofty tumbling, and up-stairs in somersets.

"I don't see," said I, pettishly, "how I am to get this bundle into my trunk, nor where in the world this great box of sugar is to go. See! not a direction! but I suppose she is in New York somewhere."

"We shall see her at all events, which is something. I should like to know what she is like,—not to look after her boy for two mortal years," said the Dominie.

"I hope not like Gus. He'd make an ugly woman, with his black hair and heavy eyebrows, and his big, black eyes always staring. He don't look like an American child."

"If we could only say what an American type is. At present, it is a little of everything."

"I mean a New-Englander,—an original American."

"Well, he don't.—What do you say to these trunks? Shall we try again to compress the gigantic genie into the copper vessel? I thought it was a dangerous move, that last one of yours, taking out Tirzah White's quilted coat. And what's to be done with these three packages?"

"Well! we can't sit here!" said I, briskly; "half-past nine already, and only one trunk packed! Never mind. You can put these three bundles in with your clothes."

"Bursting the lock, now."

"How easy 'tis to pack other people's things! But what, then, have you in there,—I mean, besides your shirts, etc.?"

"Imprimis. Eight volumes of Scott's Commentaries, brought by Deacon Boardman. I am to exchange them. They are imperfect. Item. A dozen of 'Sinbad the Sailor,' sent by mistake to the Association, instead of Doddridge. These books won't press nor give, more than sound doctrine; and I must have room for my gown, without which I am nothing."

The clock struck ten, and we were still struggling with unabated ardor to compress Lorana Briggs's shawl, and the flat packages from Burt's, into the largest carpet-bag, that there might be room for the seventeen letters on top of the minister's luggage, inside the sanctuary of his silk gown.

"We can carry a good deal in your coat-pocket, my dear," said I, cheerfully; for really we seemed to be coming to daylight, a little.


The knocker sounded.

"My galoches at last! Deacon, I can't ask you to come in, we are so untidy; but I couldn't pack as I meant to, this afternoon."

How we dreaded his coming in,—half deacon, half shoemaker, and two-thirds [pg 376] missionary, with his "Panoplist" sticking out of his coat-pocket, and his ears evermore pricked up for the latest news from Bombay! and how angry I had been for three weeks because I couldn't get those indispensable galoches!

It seemed as if he never would go from the half-open door. He reckoned the York folks would stare to see so many patches; he expected ministers down to York warn't quite so carfle and troubled about many things, as they be to Weston; but he added, with a grim joyfulness,—

"We took up a good collection, though, last Sabbath! eight dollars and fifteen cents, clear!"

"Yes, Deacon," responded the minister, with as much heartiness as he could muster, between the pushings, puffings, and pressings at the carpet-bag; "a cup of cold water shall in no wise lose its reward, we're told.—These carpet-bags stretch well!"

"Them poor, dear heathen!" groaned the Deacon.

"Oh, dreadful!" chimed I; "give me that biggest shawl, will you?—no, the other,—Ursula Drury's! Shall we ever finish packing?"

"S'pose ye'll see th' A.B.C.F.M.!—Lucina Rand's put in 'the avails of a hen,'—and Semela Briggs sold the silver thimble her aunt gin her. 'T all helps the good work. I told the Widow Rand she'd ough' to do somethin' for the heathen, so she's gone to raisin' mustard. She said she hadn't more 'n a grain o' that to spare, she was so poor; but I told her 't would be blest, I guessed. Widow Rand's rather worldly-minded, I'm afraid."

A minute more and we should have had Hindostan, Harriet Newell, and Juggernaut. Happily, somebody came for the Deacon, and we were left to our packing again.


This was the second week in May, in the year 1830. We were a promising country, but had not yet performed. Neither railroads, telegraphs, nor cheap postage had been established. Enthusiastic inventors yet sucked their fingers in garrets, waiting for the good time coming; and philanthropic statesmen aired their vocabularies in vain, in Congressional halls, built in defiance of acoustics. Their words rose, their fine sentiments curled up and down the pillars of the temple of eloquence, and fell flat to the floor. Meanwhile human nature travelled by stage-coaches; and postage for over a hundred miles rose to eighteen cents. Not a lover's sigh for a cent less; and it took a fortune for persons of sensibility to exchange sentiments.

The consequence to country-people of this last-mentioned fact was, that everybody who went anywhere took everybody's letters, and, as there were no expresses, added, of course, everybody's packages and messages. And the consequence of this was, that everybody made everybody's purchases, whether gowns, books, bonnets, or what not. It mattered little who did errands, so only they were done. Generally, the one store-keeper bought our bonnets when he went to Boston for his yearly stock of goods, and our one bonnet lasted in those days a year, being retrimmed for winter weather. I remember, too, when our one store-keeper, mingling in the æsthetic conversation at one of our parties, where Art was on the tapis, made a comical mistake, but one natural enough, too,—stating that he could buy, and had bought, Vandykes for ten dollars. We were not thinking of exactly the same kind of Vandyke that he was.

Many a time have I carried in my trunk more letters than the mail-bag did to Boston, and conscientiously finished all the parish's business before touching my own.

A certain amount of self-complacency and satisfaction is felt, and laudably earned, by being intrusted with commissions; and I flatter myself few persons ever set off for New York with such an array of them as I did on this occasion.

[pg 377]

Looking over my list, I must confess to a flush of real enjoyment at finding carte blanche for a scarf. "Now, that is something like!" said I. "I can see now how pleasantly an artist feels, or would feel, at an order for a picture,—'your own subject,—your own terms.' Miss Patty Jones knows what is what, and shall be my patroness."

And did I not vindicate triumphantly Miss Patty's confidence? I knew better than to buy her a gray and brown thing, merely because she, too, was gray and brown. I wreathed her with lilies and hyacinths and French green leaves, and she blossomed under it like a rose. If she were not the garland, she wore it, and so borrowed bloom and gay freshness. She extolled my taste to all Weston.

Then Mrs. Eben Loring had concluded on the whole that I should buy her a hat, in Maiden Lane, at the very tip-top milliner's. The thought of my return was somewhat embittered by the prospective necessity of carrying two very large bandboxes in my lap, in case of rain. Rain might not unreasonably be expected in the course of a three days' journey. Think of all the bandboxes that in such a case would be put in at the coach-window by the driver, to be held in the hapless laps of the nine passengers! Almost I was persuaded to leave my own black satin bonnet, and perambulate the streets of New York in my travelling-calash, which looked exactly like, and was nearly of the size of, a "bellows-top shay."

I was thinking of this last sacrifice, when my husband said, in a dreamy, bewildered way,—

"Here are five boxes, mother, two bundles, and the rest of these books. I give up!"

"Give up? Not I! Now, where a man's energies are exhausted, a woman's just begin to show themselves. First and foremost, lock this trunk, and let me put the key in my pocket. That's one thing done, and can't be undone."

He stepped back from the trunk.

"What's this? all your clothes on the floor!"

"Well, yes, my dear, most of 'em. You see, I couldn't leave Zipporah Haven's shawl out, which she sends to her grandmother; and I must put in these bundles of the Burts's, and Mary Skinner's box of linen thread. If my own things are lost, why, they must be replaced, you know, my dear; that is all."

"And we must keep a good lookout, ourselves, that our bandboxes and bundles don't fall off behind," replied the Dominie, faintly.

"Yes; and you can put the small trunk under my feet, and the big basket under your own, and you will keep an eye on my red shawl,—and pray don't lose the umbrella, nor your great-coat, nor your cane. I will, on my part, see to these three small bundles, and my parasol. Doubtless we shall go on smoothly as need be, only I am afraid you won't be able to think up many sermons on the highway. There! I forgot the jar of currant-jelly to go to Ruth Hoyt's aunt! However, we must manage somehow. You are sure our names are down at the stage-office?"

But, like Charles XII., "after Pultowa's dreadful day," when the tale-teller listened for his sympathy,

"The king had been an hour asleep."

I am ashamed to say that I must have lost myself after that, though I thought I was only thinking of the Day of Judgment. But I must have dreamed it, or how should I have thought it the last trumpet, when it was only the stage-driver's warning knock?

It was delightful to hear the knock, and the simultaneous clang of pots and pans which assured us, that, though night had been no night to us, the dark morning would usher in our breakfast with coffee by the faithful Polly. The driver coming in again before we had finished, we seduced him without scruple into taking a cup of boiling comfort, while we guiltily collected the waifs and strays of our multifarious luggage. Many a time I have waited, myself, in the coach, while similar orgies were going on among the unready, [pg 378] so I know just how vexed and impatient the passengers were. But what use to go on without the driver? At last we squeezed into the full stage.


No sooner in than out, however. I was determined not to die before my time, as I was sure to do on the back-seat of an overloaded stage, with nine passengers, besides numerous, because gratuitously earned, children. "For who," as it was sometimes pertinently asked, "would charge anything for a poor little innocent child?" The younger, the more innocent, of course, and the more numerous.

"If you'll set up here 'long o' me, Miss Prince, there's a plenty o' room,—and for you, too, Parson," said the good-natured driver.

Extricating ourselves from the Black Hole, we delightedly clambered to the heights above, regardless of risk, and catching at wheel and step like Alpine hunters. How comfortable the seat was, with the fresh, early morning air blowing freely in our faces! How small the horses looked in the dim light of three o'clock! How oddly the wheel-horses looked, all backs and no legs!—and how mysteriously many were the reins that were tied round and round the iron lantern-rod!

"Just let me put the mail-bag under your feet, Miss Prince. Here we are, now, all right, and nothin' to do but go along!"

"Now, then!"

"Come up! come! come!"

But in vain were caresses; in vain were chirrups, duckings, and kisses, wafted to the nigh leader. Like the rebellious South of to-day, he had taken his attitude, and stood now on four legs, now on two, pawing only the dark air, and regardless of the general welfare behind him.

"Now what will you do, driver?" said cowardly I, who, always mortally afraid of horse-flesh, felt on this occasion a strange confidence: partly in the staid, heavy mass of determination beside me, who looked so calm and good-natured; and partly in the queer, elfin look of the beast, who seemed so far off as to have no necessary connection with our safety or ultimate progress. It seemed quite possible for us to get on with the other three pulling, while our demoniacal friend ornamented the occasion by plunges, rearings, and kickings.

Still gathering the reins lightly in his large hand, the stable and sure intelligence beside me calmly chirruped, and then as calmly switched his long whip at the distant rebel brute. How the switching and snapping galled his proud neck! How his black back curved, and his small head tossed! Still, he would not pull an ounce, but just pawed like a fairy horse, or as if he were born to tread on clouds alone, or to herald in the morning.

"He'll start by-'m-by,—he's a devil of a spirit in him, when he doos start," remarked our Phoebus, composedly, giving, through the darkness, the unerring switch every half minute.

What acted on the capricious thing at last,—whether the Inevitability behind him, or the folly exhausting itself, nobody knows; but the "beautiful disdain" left his black back and tossing mane in a moment, and he buckled down to his work with an energy worthy of the cause, and with a good-will that was an example to the other three.

"There! you see he can do well enough, 'f he's jest a mind to! nothin' wantin' but the will! There's a pair on 'em," said the driver, "but I won't never drive 'em together. Staples drove the pair last summer. He says they'd run till they dropped down dead. I guess they would. He's a putty critter enough, and well made, but dreadful ugly. Now, I like that 'ere wheeler!"—he pointed his whip towards the horse below my foot. "She's kind,—that mare is; and she's fast enough, and handsome. Broad back,—short legs,—goes like a duck!"

In such pleasant chat (and why not? for wasn't the driver a cousin of my own?—a man of means,—owning his team,—and with more knowledge of his district than most members of Congress have? [pg 379] Indeed, I believe he's in Congress this minute!) we pulled up hill and tore down dale. Nobody knows a hill by experience but New-Hampshire travellers. The Green Mountains are full of comparatively gentle slopes, and verdure crowns their highest and tallest tops; but the hills of New Hampshire are Alpine in their steepness and barrenness, and the roads of old time made by the Puritans took the Devil by the horns. There was no circuitous, soothing, easy passage. The road ran straight over mountains and pitched deep down ravines, the surveyors having evidently kept only in view the shortest air-line between places.

Sometimes we chained the wheels, but not often. Oftenest we ran down a steep place, and the impetus carried us up the opposite hill. At the foot of a long hill, of a two-mile stretch, the driver generally stopped, to indicate the propriety of the male passengers, at least, ascending the hill on foot. And often the whole stage-load gladly availed itself of the permission. It was handy for the owners of bandboxes, to pick them up from the rocky road, as they tumbled off now and then; and the four beasts, like those in Revelation, said "Amen" to the kindly impulse of humanity that lightened their load, and left them to scramble comfortably from one side to the other of the still ascending path. When they did get to the top of some of those Walpole hills, would they could have taken in the living glory and beauty of the far-reaching and most magnificent landscape!


We had the mails to change at the post-offices, and a seemingly inexhaustible store, intrusted to the care and courtesy of the driver, and surrounding him like a rampart,—of newspapers, bundles, cans, pillow-cases full of dried apples, and often letters.

At the red house near the mill below Surrey, a sweet-looking girl ran out, as we passed, holding her hand forward for a letter, which our driver pretended to drop half a dozen times, on purpose to tantalize her. It was pretty to see her blushing, sparkling face, as the blood danced to her brow with hope, and back with the baffled expectancy to her heart.

"Neouw, Sil, be still! give to me, yeouw!"

If it hadn't been Yankee, it was soft and melodious enough for an Italian peasant. As picturesque, too, was her short, blue woollen petticoat, and white short-gown, that "half hid and half revealed" the unconstrained grace of healthy mountain-nature; and more modest the happy look with which she received the letter at last, and flew with it like a bird back to the red nest.

"A love-letter, I suppose," said I, answering the twinkle of the driver's good-natured eye.

"Wal, I expect 's likely. They've been sparking now over a year. And it's a pity, too, such a real clever girl as that is! She a'n't so dreadful bright, but she's real clever, and ough' to hev a better chance 'n Jim Ruggles."

"A bad match for her?"

"Wal, Jim's a good feller enough, but he drinks. I don't mean to say nothin' agin moderate drinkin'. I drink myself moderately. But Jim's a real sponge. He'd drink all day hard and never show it, without it is bein' cross, maybe, and paler 'n common. Now I say,—and I a'n't no 'reformed inebriate,' nor Father Matthew sort,—but I do say, and will hold to it, such a man at twenty-one makes a poor beginnin'. If he lives, he'll be a poor shote, and no mistake. I'm sorry for the gal."

"Somebody ought to tell her. Why not you?"

"Wal, what's the good on 't? She wouldn't hear a word. When a woman's once sot her mind, don't do no good to talk. For that matter, talkin' never did do much, I'm thinkin',—exceptin' preachin'. We're bound to hear that, Parson," he added, laughing, and with a nod which might seem respectful.

In three hours we had driven thirteen miles. Pretty good progress this of a [pg 380] warm day, and with a full complement of passengers. We had watched the sun rise over Walpole hills, and the specks in the distance where the early farmers were ploughing and sowing. The breaking day, the bursting spring, and all the outward melodies with which the welcoming day rings as we toil on, are so many incentives to appetite, and we are all sharp for the ready breakfast, at six o'clock.

Then, as I am talking of the past, and not of the present, there was time enough: time enough for the comfortable discussion of breakfast, for the changing of raiment among the babies, for chatting in the bar-room, for the interchange of news among the men, and even for glasses of milk-punch. Tell it not in modern Gath that even the Dominie spiced his half-mug of flip with an anecdote, and that every man and woman took cider as well as coffee.

How can I describe the events and vicissitudes that befell us during this journey of three days and a half to New York? Modern travellers, who are, or are not, as it happens, run off the track, smashed up, or otherwise suddenly and summarily disposed of, have little notion of our successive and amusing accidents, and of how they diversified and occupied the mind, so as entirely to preclude the ennui which comes from railroad-travelling, with its ninety-nine chances of safety to one of accident.

That we were tipped out and over repeatedly,—that one of the leaders had fits, (which amiable weakness was understood and allowed for by our driver, who was in hopes the critter wouldn't have 'em that day,)—that the coach wholly collapsed once, letting all the patient passengers into a promiscuous heap of unbroken bones,—this, and such as this, will be easily believed by any New-England traveller who remembers thirty years back. But how we fell so softly that the brains were never damaged,—why falling into ditches at night wasn't an unhealthy process,—and, above all, how the driver's stock of leathern straps, strings, and nails should always prove exhaustless, and be always so wonderfully adapted to every emergency,—that was a wonder, and is a wonder still to me. No amount of mechanical skill, though the Yankee has made machines that almost think, and altogether do, for him, has superseded or exhausted his natural tact, expediency, and invention. With string and nail in his pocket, I would defy the horses of Phoebus to get away from a Yankee, or his chariot to get out of gear; and if Phaeton had only been a Vermonter, the deserts of Ethiopia might to this day have been covered with roses instead of sand. Our driver, though he didn't know his own powers, knew all about Phoebus, and had read Virgil and Ovid by the light of a pine-knot in his father's kitchen. This rude culture is the commonest fact among our mountaineers.

We "stopped over" one day in Hartford, to see the deaf-mutes. Their bright, concentrated, eager looks haunted me long after. I should like to know who would stop anywhere now to see anything! One might as well be put into a gun and fired off to New York as go there now by steam-cars. Line a gun with red plush, and it is not unlike a "resonant steam-eagle." And you would see as much in one as in the other.

But travelling in 1830 enlarged your mind. A journey then was one as was a journey. You saw people, you made their acquaintance, you entered their hearts and took lodgings,—sometimes for life.

Then the country! You saw that, too,—not the poorest part of it, scooting round wherever it is most level, till you pronounce the whole way flat, and are glad to shut your eyes and listen to the engine, rather than have them ache with seeing everything you would never wish to look at!

All these days were full of great, beautiful pictures. From the time we leave the Granite State, with it a wild, fierce grandeur, its long, dreary reaches of unfertile pastures, and its wealth of stone [pg 381] wall,—so abundant that travellers wonder where the stones came from to build it, seeing no lack in the road or field,—from the time we enter on trim, well-kept Massachusetts, the panorama shifts with ever new interest and beauty. We leave the pretentious brick houses, or the glaring white ones, which mark the uncultivated taste of the American Switzerland, and enter for the first time regions impressed with the necessary element of fine landscape, maturity. With and under the old oaks and birches rest the sad-colored houses that have held life and experience,—birth, death, and old historic adventure.

Looking over the broad meadows that skirt the Connecticut by Hadley and Northampton, one seems to see under the distant oaks spectral shapes of Indian struggle, or wandering regicides, hiding their noble heads in caves, or bursting out like white spirits to lead and avenge. The air is peopled with traditions far back from the present, but with which the grave, imposing, characteristic landscape seems still to sympathize.

In two days we emerged from the brown chrysalis of a New-Hampshire spring into the exultant richness of the winged butterfly,—into white, fragrant fields of blossoming fruit, and the odor of tree-lilacs.

In my enchantment at the bounteous panorama that spread out before me in ever varying abundance, I forgot to cultivate any interest in my fellow-passengers, and, except in listening to some communicative old women, might really, as far as society was concerned, as well have been travelling in the style of to-day. Beyond the casual acquaintances I made when rain compelled me to indoor chat, I saw nobody who interested me until we reached Springfield. There, at the top of the first short hill outside the town, after looking back on the white houses standing in the river-mist like so many ghosts in white muslin, I saw somebody whom my prophetic soul announced as a companion, looking wholly unlike a ghost, and very unlike a mist. He raised his hand, just as we were about passing him, as if signalling an omnibus, and our driver suddenly reined in his team.

A full, hearty voice, not a bit nasal, but fresh from the broad chest, showed us a traveller by the road-side, waiting to be taken up.

He sprang with two bounds to the top of the coach, and made room for himself just above us among the countless boxes.

"Don't let me disturb you, Madam All right. Just room for my bag. Go on, driver."

"Fine day," said we.

"A warm morning. I have been walking for the last fifteen miles,—but the sun is too hot for me."

He took off his travelling-hat of weather-beaten Panama, and dried his broad brow with his handkerchief. Then he looked at us with clear blue eyes, and tossed back his curling brown hair. He had a gray travelling-dress, such as everybody wears now, but which was then a novelty; and something in his curt, clear accents, and his crimson lips, and the fresh life in his limbs and action, betrayed that he was not an American. So much the better.


I said he looked sharply at us two. He seemed to have a habit of investigating, at least to a certain extent; and he took us in at once, evidently. A country-parson and his wife. If I say his pretty wife, I will promise faithfully that it shall be the last time I will refer to myself or my prettiness, the whole way, further than may be absolutely necessary; and it isn't every woman who will do as much. For with this man and his belongings I came to have much to do in the course of the next five years. Little thought I, as I heard him chatting soberly with my husband, and nodding from time to time gravely at me, as If to take me into the conversation,—little thought I of the shadow he [pg 382] would one day cast over both of our lives!

He showed us his travelling-apparatus for making a cup of tea in ten minutes, toasting bread, and boiling eggs. It was like a doll's cooking-stove six inches square, a curious invention, new then, and a wonderful convenience.

"With my tea and this," said he, "I can go over the United States. Good bread and sweet butter I can always get at your farm-houses, and I often walk fifty miles together."

We looked and spoke our New-English astonishment. In our part of the world nobody walked anywhere. Everybody, however poor, had a wagon, if not a chaise; and he must be miserable indeed who did not own at least one horse. Nobody in his sober senses demeaned himself to walking. Perhaps it was the climate. Perhaps our fathers instituted the custom, to be as unlike the British as possible,—as they did of making their houses like lanterns, to show they had no window-tax to pay.

This man's hearty voice and healthy frame, charged, as it seemed, with fresh air, jollity, and strength, made us think better of walking. We looked at his six feet of height, his broad chest, and his firmly knit limbs, and fancied how Antaeus gained supernatural vigor from natural contact: he trod the earth with a loving and free step, as a child approaches and caresses his mother. So, too, his voice, and the topics he chose in talking, gave us the feeling of out-door existence always connected with him: of singing-birds, and the breeze of mountain-tops, of great walnut- and chesnut-trees, and children gathering nuts beneath; never of the solemn hush of pines, or twilight, or anything "sough"-ing or whispering: no, all about him sounded like the free, dashing, rushing water. So were his bright blue eyes, merry lips, and wind-crimsoned cheeks, interpreters of his nature. They linked him firmly to the outward. The man's soul was made up of joyfulness, strength, and a sort of purposeless activity,—energy for its own sake. While his energies harmonized with the right, or were exercised in the pursuit of knowledge, one felt that he would have much power for good. But suppose his activities to take a wrong direction, all his powers would help him to be and enjoy the wrong. In either case, his nature would have the same harmonious energy, and the moral part of him would not disturb the balance of his character. He had no special liking for evil, I am sure; yet, according to all the theories, his intense love of Nature ought to have elevated and refined him far more than it had done.

Before we had been an hour together, I had also observed that he was good-natured, impulsive, and, in a sort, kindly,—that he loved himself and his own enjoyment too well ever knowingly to annoy or distress another. There is a little difference between this and kindness. No matter how I found him out. He who runs may read, if he looks sharply enough; and in travelling, people betray and assert character continually. I was also as sure as I was years afterwards, that he would walk rough-shod over heart-violets and -daisies, nor once notice them bleeding under his heel. It was in the grain of the man's nature. He had lived at least thirty-five years, and was too old to be made over into anything else by any experience.

His bag was half full of tulip-bulbs which he had bought and begged, he said. He had a passion at present for cultivating tulips, and was quite sure, that, if he had lived in the seventeenth instead of the nineteenth century, he would have ruined himself twenty times over for a favorite bulb, even without being a Dutchman.

His dominant idea, to which for the first hour he sacrificed without scruple every other, was flowers. I had a mischievous pleasure in professing a similar passion, on purpose to confound him with a description of a Weston flower-garden. If he talked of jessamine and Daphne odora, I talked of phlox and bachelor's-buttons. If he raved of azaleas [pg 383] and gladioluses, I told him of our China-asters, sunflowers, and hollyhocks.

"Ah, now I see you are laughing at me!" said he, good-humoredly, after I had said, that, after all, I could not get up an admiration for day-lilies or tulips; "promise me that I may show you my tulips, and I will promise you that you shall like botany hereafter."

We agreed at last to bury the hatchet at the foot of a rose-bush, which I said I would allow, excused the existence of other flowers. The bulbs he gave me on the top of the stage-coach that day made a revolution in the taste of Weston; and some climbing plants, from his house afterwards, took root in our rude homes, and have displaced the old glaring colors with soft beauty and grace. Before I left Weston, which happened in time, we had prairie-roses, honeysuckles, and woodbine clambering over half the houses in the place, and bouncing-Bets were extinguished forever.

I forgot that we had never heard this man's name, though it did not matter at all. He was a cultivated gentleman, and we had no occasion for introduction. We met freely on that platform, and it was pleasant to us to talk on so many subjects outside of personal interest. He had travelled, and gave us results, in a sketchy, off-hand way, of much that he had observed that was extremely entertaining in foreign manners.

Suddenly his loud, cheery voice rang out,—

"Halloo, old boy, get up here!"

He did get up, a languid, pale man, with sharp features, and a frame so attenuated that I involuntarily placed a soft bag for him to lean against, and removed a cane and umbrella that seemed likely to hurt his bones.

It was about half an hour before I saw that the new man was not at all an invalid, but of the natural gaunt frame and pallid complexion of my countrymen. My eyes had become so full of the fresh, rosy life of the Englishman's face, that the new man's face was bleached and unhealthy to me. I happened to glance back from him to the Dominie, and saw, that, allowing for green spectacles, they were both of a color. We were so arranged on the top of the coach, that with reasonable twisting of necks we were able to maintain an animated conversation, and soon found our account in the new element.

"Well, Remington!"

"Well, Lewis!"

"Where from now?"

"From Niagara, and home by the White Hills."

"And what of the last, or of both?"

"Miss Rugg has fallen into the one, and Miss Somebody has been to the top of the other. Had to be brought down, though. Women shouldn't climb mountains."

"There has been some talk of a road, or practicable path at least, to the top of Mount Washington."

"Never'll be done. Impossible on the face of the thing."

"Nothing is impossible to Yankees, Remington."

"This is. And now, Lewis, whence come you, and whither go?"

"From Weston, and to New York."

Here was a denouement! We looked at him with new interest, and saw at once, such was the force of imagination, the very eyes and eyebrows of Gus Lewis. However, it proved afterwards to be only imagination. When we told him we came from Weston only two days and a half before, the conversation assumed the native style of New England, and for the next quarter of an hour we talked of each other and each other's affairs.' Mr. Lewis was delighted to see us, had stayed only an hour in Weston, and there heard of our trip from Auguste,—profanely called Gus,—took the box of maple-sugar in charge at once, laughed at the boy-like direction without even a surname, and ended with recommending us to go at once to Miss Post's, on Broadway, where himself and his wife were at present boarding. All the particulars of life, character, and relative interests were discussed between ourselves [pg 384] and Mr. Lewis with the relish and zest of compatriots. I had forgotten how close a tie was that of Yankee birth, and how like an unknown tongue our talk was to the Englishman, till we stopped and turned to him to say something, and found him fast asleep. Then I was glad that he hadn't heard my satirical description of "donation-parties" at Weston, nor the account I gave of our two boys, our salary of five hundred dollars, and the various comical shifts we had to make to live comfortably on that sum and support aged parents and graceless relations. Little touches told Mr. Lewis the whole story. I knew very well that Mr. Remington would be entirely abroad about such a social existence as ours in Weston, travel he ever so long or widely.

Mr. Lewis had black eyes and hair, and bent like an habitual student. He had a scar on his right eyebrow, which he had got by a fall, and by which he had saved the life of Mr. Remington, who was a connection of his wife's. This he told us, afterwards, and I amused myself with drawing parallels between his face and his mind. One side was gentle, sweet-humored, sentimental, with a touch of melancholy. The other, disfigured with the scar, seemed to have been turned harsh, suspicious, proud, reserved, and unrelenting. These were many qualities, all to depend on a scar, to be sure; but they generally herd together, and he might be one man or another, as life presented its dark or sunny side to him. To me, he was very interesting, from the first; and my husband was delighted with him. The Dominie starved in Weston for congenial intellectual nutriment. Nobody but myself could tell what a drain it was on him always to impart, always to simplify, to descend, to walk on the ground with wings folded flat to his back, and the angel in him habitually kept out of view. The most he could do was to insinuate now and then a thought above the farming interest, and in a direction aside from Bombay. More than that exposed him to suspicion, and hindered his usefulness in Coös County.

Somehow, we got talking of Mr. Remington, which we might well do, seeing him there before us, sleeping like a baby.

"That he could always do, like Napoleon," said Mr. Lewis, "and so can accomplish much without fatigue."

"Is he married?" said I.

"Yes. His wife is in delicate health."

I was surprised to hear that he was married.

"He hasn't a married look, has he?"

"You are talking about me," said Remington, waking up. "I felt it mesmerically. And, to give you a good opportunity, I will walk a mile or two. Give me a good character, Lewis. Hold up, driver!"

Springing down, he went on, laughing, before us, now and then calling back to ask if we were nearly through?

"He has not the 'subdued domestic smile upon his features mild', that marks the man who has a wife at home," said I.

"No. He is a man, however, born under a lucky star, and his cup filled with good-fortune to the brim. His self-lordship has been to him no heritage of woe, thus far."

"A certain happiness, but necessarily of a poor quality, comes from being able to gratify our wishes. If he has no more, it is poor enough."

"Do you mean that pleasure must be an outgrowth of pain to be properly appreciated?" said Mr. Lewis.

"Somewhat,—mostly," said the minister; "since the insensibility that protects one from pain prevents also delicate picture. I think, indeed, a rational being must suffer in order to enjoy, after infancy."

"His eyes don't look as if they had been in training of any sort," said I, without knowing what my words implied, till I saw the harsh expression on Mr. Lewis's face.'

"I mean that they have a sort of undisciplined expression, as if he had never been tamed by suffering or sorrow of any sort," said I.

"That sadness is the true human look," said the minister, "the look that redeems [pg 385] us from the mere animal expression of enjoyment. It is the stamp God puts on those He loves. He chastens them; after that, they are no more servants, but sons of the house."

I saw by Mr. Lewis's eyes that he understood and felt this. Also, that from his nature he bought his enjoyments every step of the way of life. How differently his cousin laid hold on the cornucopia of enjoyment, and covered himself with bountiful beauty, drinking in at every sense pleasure! The former, as could be seen too, held his title to happiness by the most uncertain tenure; the nervous quiver betraying, and the sensitive blood witnessing, how keenly he felt and how dearly he paid for every passing pleasure. I remember, as I saw his purple, thrilling face, that I hoped his home-life was happy, feeling that to such a man it must be everything. Yet I was sure, from what he did not say, with eye or lips, that he had not learned religious trust. Still, he did not listen to the mere minister, but to the friend; and there sprang up between the two the corresponding interest and respect belonging to natures kindred in depth and sensibility, though of widely differing experience. In after-years, he who had already attained was able frequently to hold out a helping hand to his younger brother; but now, only a smile and a look told much. This acquaintance of the soul is very fascinating. In the two or three steps we take together, with cognizance and measure of each other, what a long path opens before us of alternate shade and sunshine, and how imagination borders every step of the way with richest heart-blossoms! In friendship, all is glowing and enriching. As it has not the depth of love, it neither anticipates nor requires sacrifice. We do not think of doing or suffering for a friend; but the friend ministers to our weakness, and exalts our strength. He sympathizes gently with our self-love, he magnifies every excellence. He is perpetually charmed, alike with the novelty and the similarity of our experience, and unwearied in comparing thoughts and balancing opinions. All, and more, that he gives us, he receives; and so an incipient friendship is one of the most intoxicating delights of life. What long leaps in acquaintance we took during our first hour, and while Mr. Remington still walked up-hill before us!

"You will probably have an opportunity to see and judge for yourselves of Mr. Remington, as we are together a great deal, and he is a cousin of Mrs. Lewis's. This will be better than for me to attempt a description, I think, and, on the whole, more satisfactory. He annoys me, and offends me frequently; and then I am not just to him, of course. But he is a fine fellow, honorable and agreeable; and with a love of natural science that leads him, for the time, like a dog. Just now, he is wild with floriculture. Last year, it was geology. You will see."

And then, as if he feared to trust himself with his cousin's character, or that it was a distasteful subject for some reason, he turned to the minister, and began talking about Cherry Mountain and the scenery in Coös.

Mr. Remington called out, at the top of the hill,—

"Now it is my turn! Let me ride, and I will give your character!"

"Oh! we don't need it, I assure you," said I; "we understand him entirely."

"Not a bit of it!" said he, shaking his brown curls; "I am the transparent one."

He stepped up on the wheel-hub to get his bag, and to say he should strike off for Middleton on foot. He would see us very soon in New York, and claim our promise to visit him.

Being relieved from the fascination of personal beauty and presence, with only the impression of character remaining, I was a little ashamed to find how much I had liked, without being at all able to esteem him. It was with a very different feeling that I looked at Mr. Lewis, whose ugly, positively ugly face was being perpetually transfigured with emotion and variety. Without grace of feature or figure, he impressed one as a living soul; [pg 386] and this inward light gave a translucent beauty to the frail, chance-shapen vase, which all Mr. Remington's personal advantages of form and color failed to impress us with. Only dark eyes of un-sounded depth, and a voice whose rich cadences had an answering rhythm in the inward man, showed what his attractions might be, or were, to a woman. We became curious to see Mrs. Lewis, of whom we gained no idea from his casual references to her.




From yon den of double-dealing,
  With its Devil's host,
Come I, maddened out of healing:
      All is lost!
So the false wine cannot blind me,
  Nor the braggart toast;
But I know that Hell doth bind me:
      All is lost!
Where the lavish gain attracts us,
  And the easy cost,
While the damning dicer backs us,
      All is lost!
Blest the rustic in his furrows,
  Toil- and sweat-embossed;
Blest are honest souls in sorrows.
      All is lost!
Wifely love, the closer clinging
  When men need thee most,
Shall I come, dishonor bringing?
      All is lost!
Babe in silken cradle lying,
  To low music tossed,
Will they wake thee for my dying?
      All is lost!
Yonder where the river grimly
  Whitens, like a ghost,
Must I plunge and perish dimly;
      All is lost!

[pg 387]


Macaulay opens his most remarkable article on Milton by saying, "The dexterous Capuchins never choose to preach on the life and miracles of a saint, till they have awakened the devotional feelings of their auditors by exhibiting some relic of him,—a thread of his garment, a lock of his hair, or a drop of his blood." If we were in the mood, we might take advantage of interesting manuscripts of Edmund Burke, which are now before us, to say something of this remarkable character. But we shall confine ourselves for the present to a passing glance at the manuscripts which have strayed across the Atlantic.12

The authentic manuscripts of Burke have passed through several hands. On his death, they were intrusted to the eminent civilian, Dr. French Lawrence, of Doctors' Commons, and to Dr. King, afterwards Bishop of Rochester. To these two gentlemen we are indebted for the first eight volumes of the London octavo edition of Burke's Works. The career of Dr. Lawrence was cut short by death in 1809. His associate had the exclusive charge of the papers till 1812, when the venerable widow of Burke died at Beaconsfield, and by her last will gave to Earl Fitzwilliam, the Bishop of Rochester, and the Right Honorable William Elliott the entire direction of the printing and publishing of such parts of the works of her late husband as were not published before her decease,—bequeathing to them all the printed and manuscript papers for this purpose. Eight more volumes were published by the Bishop, who died in 1828, a few months after the publication of the fifteenth and sixteenth volumes. Mr. Elliott had already died in 1818. The papers now came into the sole possession of Earl Fitzwilliam, the distinguished nobleman associated with the latter portion of Burke's life, from whom they descended to his son, the late Earl Fitzwilliam, who, in conjunction with Sir Richard Bourke, published, in 1844, the four volumes of correspondence, with a few notes of unpublished speeches.

We have personal reason to know that there are yet other unpublished manuscripts of Burke in the hands of Lord Fitzwilliam, some of which it was our fortune many years ago to inspect. Mr. Macknight, it appears, applied to the present Earl for permission to publish some of those which are preserved in the archives of Wentworth House, but, "out of obedience to the expressed wish of his father, who published all he thought necessary, he declined to sanction any further publication of these documents."13

There are also letters of Burke which from time to time have seen the light, as they were communicated by their possessors. Among these none equals in interest that addressed to Pitt with regard to his pension, which has been printed recently by Lord Stanhope, in his small, but rich and rare collection, entitled "Miscellanies." This important letter came to light among the papers of Pitt, and has been described by Macaulay as "interesting and very characteristic."

The manuscripts now before us are none of these. They have a history of their own.

They constitute a thin volume in folio, neatly bound, having a book-mark, and arms with the name of Fillingham. Here are four familiar autograph-letters from Burke to his amanuensis, Swift, all of them written from Margate, on the sea-shore, [pg 388] and bearing Burke's frank as a member of Parliament. According to habit with us, the frank of a member of Congress is written in the right-hand upper corner of the superscription, while the old English frank is in the left-hand lower corner. But English law, while the privilege of franking existed, required also that the name of the place where the letter was pasted, and the day on which it was posted, written at length, should appear in the superscription. Take, for instance, the following frank of Burke in this collection:—

"Margate July seventeenth, 1791
  "Mr Swift,
    "Mr Burke's Chambers
      "4 Stone Buildings
        "Lincoln's Inn
"Edm. Burke."

These letters have been recently published by Mr. Macknight, who says of them that "they show how kind and familiar Burke was to the humblest dependants with whom he was thrown into any human relationship"; they also "show the statesman, when at the height of literary fame, as busy and anxious in sending his sheets through the press, and making corrections and alterations, as any young author with his first proofs"; and he adds, "These letters seem to me quite as important, as illustrations of Burke's private character, as those which he wrote to the Nagles in former years." It seems that the amanuensis to whom they were addressed had at his death other similar letters in his possession; but his wife, ignorant of their value, deliberately committed them to the names, and the four now before us are all that were saved. Mr. Macknight adds, in a note,—"These letters I owe to the kindness of John Fillingham, Esq., of Hoxton, who allowed me to inspect and copy the originals."14

Of one of these letters there is an accurate fac-simile, which will be found in the third volume of Mr. Macknight's elaborate biography of Burke.

But the main paper in the collection is none other than the manuscript of the "Observations on the Conduct of the Minority," being the identical copy from which the surreptitious publication was made which disturbed the last hours of Burke. The body of it is in the handwriting of the amanuensis to whom the familiar letters were addressed; but it shows the revision of Burke, and on several pages most minute and elaborate corrections and additions, with changes of sections. Of one of these pages there is an accurate fac-simile in the third volume of Mr. Macknight, who says that "the manuscript was given by Swift's sister, after his death, to the gentleman who kindly permitted him to inspect it." 15

These manuscripts—both the letters and the Observations—all concern the closing period of Burke's life, after the unhappy feud between himself and Fox, to which they directly relate. In order to appreciate their value, we must glance at the scene by which the memorable friendship of these men was closed.

Few political events in English history are read with more interest than the separation of Burke and Fox. They had been friends and allies; but the French Revolution, which separated so many persons in France, reached across the Channel to separate them. They differed so radically with regard to this portentous, undeveloped movement, that their relations, both political and personal, were rudely severed. Burke, in the House of Commons, openly announced this result. He was most earnestly inveighing against France, when he said, "It may be indiscreet in me at my time of life to provoke enemies, and give occasion to friends to desert me." Fox whispered, "There is no loss of friends." Burke for a moment paused, and then exclaimed, "Yes, there is a loss of friends; I know the price of my conduct. I have done my [pg 389] duty at the expense of my friend. Our friendship is at an end." As he finished, Burke walked across the floor of the House, and squeezed himself between Pitt and Dundas on the Treasury Bench. Fox rose to reply, while tears streamed down his face. In the course of his remarks he intimated that Burke had heaped upon him the most ignominious terms. Burke at once said that he did not recollect having used any; when Fox replied, "My right honorable friend does not recollect the epithets. They are out of his mind. Then they are completely and forever out of mine. I cannot cherish a recollection so painful; and from this moment they are obliterated and forgotten."

But the difference was too intense. A few days later it broke forth again. "I complain," said Burke, "of being obliged to stand upon my defence by the right honorable gentleman, who, when a young man, was brought to me and evinced the most promising talents, which I used my best endeavors to cultivate; and this man, who has arrived at the maturity of being the most brilliant and powerful debater that ever existed, has described me as having deserted and abandoned every one of my principles!" Fox replied, but alluded to Burke no longer as "friend", but as "the right honorable gentleman", and said, in a taunting style, that "all he had to do was to repent, and his friends would be ready to receive him back and love him as they had previously done". Burke was indignant. He said,—"I have gone through my youth without encountering any party disgrace, and though in my age I have been so unfortunate as to meet it, I do not solicit the right honorable gentleman's friendship, nor that of any other man, either on one side of the House or the other." 16 This most important and historic friendship was at an end.

The larger part of the Whigs at that time sided with Fox. But Burke turned away from Parliament and politicians in one of the most masterly productions of his pen, entitled, "An Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs." One of the autograph-letters in the collection before us, addressed to the amanuensis, Swift, relates to the last corrections of this tract, and contains the title, arranged for the printer. It is the letter of which a fac-simile is given by Mr. Macknight.

Meanwhile, the difference between the two statesmen became more fixed and intense. The Whig Club declared, "that their confidence in Mr. Fox was confirmed, strengthened, and increased by the calumnies against him." Burke and some forty-five noblemen and gentlemen withdrew from the club. It was then that Burke, in justification of himself and his friends, took the pen, and drew up what his biographer Prior calls the "famous" paper, entitled, "Observations on the Conduct of the Minority, particularly in the Last Session of Parliament, addressed to the Duke of Portland and Lord Fitzwilliam, 1793," which will be found in the third volume of Bonn's edition of his Works.

This paper presents, in fifty-four articles, duly numbered, objections to the course and policy of Fox. It was, in brief, an arraignment of that distinguished gentleman. But it was not intended for publication, at least at that time. It was transmitted to the Duke of Portland, with a letter, asking that it might not even be read at once, but that the Duke would keep it locked in the drawer of his library-table, and when a day of compulsory reflection came, then be pleased to turn to it. Communicated thus in confidence, it might have remained indefinitely, if not always, unknown to the public, locked in the ducal drawer, if the amanuensis whom Burke employed in copying it had not betrayed him. This was none other than Swift, to whom the familiar letters were addressed. Unknown to his employer, he had appropriated to himself a copy in his own handwriting, with corrections and additions by Burke, which seems to have come between the original rough draught and the final copy transmitted [pg 390] to the Duke of Portland. Some time afterwards, while Burke was in his last illness, feeble and failing fast, this faithless scrivener communicated this copy to an equally faithless publisher, by whom it was advertised as "Fifty-Four Articles of Impeachment against the Eight Honorable C.J. Fox." When this was seen by Mrs. Burke, she felt it her duty to keep all newspapers and letters from her husband, that he might know nothing of the treachery, at least until it was relieved so far as it could be. Dr. Lawrence and Dr. King, assisted by the affidavit of Mr. Rivington, succeeded in obtaining an injunction against the publisher on the very day when the tract appeared. But two thousand copies had already stolen abroad.

It was not until Mrs. Burke, on opening a letter from Dr. Lawrence to her husband, learned that the injunction had been obtained, that, at two o'clock in the afternoon of the 15th of February, 1797, she delivered to him his newspapers and correspondence for the past week. He was less disturbed than had been expected. "This affair does vex me," he said; "but I am not in a state of health at present to be deeply vexed at anything. Had I intended it for the public, I should have been more exact and full. Many temperaments and explanations there would have been, if ever I had had a notion that it should meet the public eye." He was justly indignant at the knavish publisher, whose conduct surpassed that of the Dublin pirates, or Edmund Curll. But he was at a loss to know how the publisher obtained a copy. He did not suppose that the Duke of Portland had given up his, and he remembered only "the rough and incorrect papers" constituting the first draught, which, it seems, Dr. Lawrence, about a year before, had paid the false Swift a guinea to deliver back. He had forgotten the intermediate copy made by Swift and corrected by himself.

This illicit publication, especially under such a title, was calculated to attract attention. Its author was dying, so that it seemed to be his last words. Pitt read it with delight, and declared it to be a model in that style of composition. But his latest biographer says of it, that "it may, perhaps, be regretted that Burke ever wrote the 'Observations on the Conduct of the Minority.' It is certainly the least pleasing of all his compositions."17 In style, it is direct, terse, and compact, beyond any other composition of Burke's. Perhaps, as it was not intended for the public, he was less tempted to rhetorical indulgence. But the manuscript now before us exhibits the minute care with which it was executed. Here also may be traced varieties of expression, constituting the different forms which a thought assumed, not unlike the various drawings of Raffaelle for the same wonderful picture.

But we must stop. It is only as a literary curiosity that we are now dealing with this relic.

[pg 391]


The stranger who enters the nave of St. Paul's Cathedral in London cannot fail to notice the superb pulpit which stands at the angle of the choir. It is composed of rare and costly marbles and other precious stones. But, beautiful and fitting as it is, its greatest value lies in the circumstance which placed it there. It is a memorial, the tribute of affection. It was erected by his surviving comrades in arms to a noble officer of the Indian army. Yet this, from its position a [Greek: ktêma es aei], is only one among numberless like monuments which the traveller in England meets at every turn. In public squares, in parish churches, in stately cathedrals,—wherever the eye of the wayfarer can be arrested, whereever the pride of country is most deeply stirred, wherever the sentiment of loyalty is consecrated by religion,—the Englishman loves to guard from oblivion the names of his honored dead. There is in this both a cause and a consequence of that intense local pride and affection by which the men of Great Britain are bound to the scenes of their early lives.

"It will never do for us to be beaten," said the Duke at Waterloo; "think what they will say of us at home!"—and this simple sentence went straight to the heart of every man who heard. What they will say at home is the prevailing thought in each young soldier's heart as he goes into his first fight. And "home" does not mean for him so much broad England as it does the little hamlet where he was born, the school where he was trained, the county in which his forefathers were honored in times gone by. He thinks of his name, henceforward linked with a glorious victory! whispered around among the groups who linger in the church-yard after the morning service. He trusts, that, if he fall nobly, there will be for him the memorial window through whose blazoned panes the sunlight will fall softly across the "squire's pew," where as a boy he knelt and worshipped, or touch with a crimson and azure gleam the marble effigies of his knightly sires recumbent on their tombs. Or he thinks of a place among the lettered names high up on the old oaken wall of the school-room at Winchester or Harrow or Westminster,—that future boys, playing where he played, shall talk of him whom they never knew as "one of ours." For he is well aware that he is making fame not for himself alone, but to be prized where he himself has been most loved and happiest.

We, in this new land of ours, have but a very faint experience of the intense working of such influences upon a people in whom the local association and sentiment are ingrained. We are but just beginning where Englishmen began eight centuries and more ago. Hence our glorifying of the past has been a little indiscriminate, and withal has sought to commemorate events more than individuals. But the last two years have taken us through one of those great periods which, in their concentrated energy, compress the work of years into days, and which mark the water-sheds of history. The United States of 1865 will be as unlike the same land in 1855 as the youth is unlike the child. Life is measured by action, not duration. The brilliant epoch of the first Persian invasion was more to Greece than its slumbering centuries under Turkish rule, and "fifty years of Europe" more "than a cycle of Cathay." We shall look back upon a past. We shall have a truly national existence. It will be but natural, as it will be most wise, that we take heed of those elements which have ever been so potent in strengthening national character. One of these has been briefly hinted at above. Yet it may be undesirable to perpetuate the memory of events in which the whole country cannot [pg 392] participate, which will not for the remainder of this century be thought of by one section without shame and confusion of face, and which will only tend to keep alive the sad old jealousies and hates. We shall be very loath to place our monumental columns upon the fields of Antietam and Gettysburg. We should not tolerate them upon the slopes of Manassas or the bluffs of Edwards' Ferry. When the war is ended, and the best guardian of our internal commerce is the loyalty of the returning citizens to their old allegiance, we shall do wisely to level the earthworks of Vicksburg and Port Hudson. In the city where mob-violence is crushed under the force of armed law, no one cares to keep for a day the crumbling walls and the shattered barricade, though they may have witnessed heroism as splendid as Arcola or Wagram, for they witness also to a wickedness and a terror which all would gladly forget. The only memorial that a wise and high-souled nation can erect after this war will be the single monument which shall commemorate the hour of peace restored.

But while we are debarred from thus recording upon tablets more lasting than brass the story of our mournful triumphs over erring brethren, we are doubly bound in gratitude to keep green the memory of the men who have deserved well of their country in the hour of utmost need. We ought to do this also in that temper which shall look most singly to the noble end of forming heroic traditions for the youth of our future land. I know no place where this can be more fitly carried out than in New-England's foremost university. Coeval with the commonwealth itself, the starry roll of its heroes links it with all the fortunes of our history. Men who sat in the Long Parliament, and who may have seen the Battles of Worcester and Dunbar, took their early degrees upon Harvard's first Commencement-stage. Her sons fought against King Philip, were colonels and captains in the "old French War," went forth in the days of Wolfe and Amherst, and exchanged the lexicon for the musket in the eight years' struggle which gave to the Thirteen Colonies their independence. Alumni still survive who did military duty in the second war with England. The men of Harvard were with Taylor at Buena Vista, and helped Scott in his victorious march upon the Aztec capital. Of these the only record is in the annual necrology and the quaint Latin of the "Triennial."

For the young heroes who dropped the oar and took up the sword, who laid aside the gown for the sash and shoulder-strap, who, first in the bloodless triumphs of the regatta and in "capital training" for the great race of life where literary and professional fame are the prizes, went forth to venture all for honor and country, the Alma Mater surely should have a special commemoration. For her own sake, because of her high responsibility in the education of "ingenuous youth," she can do no less. I will venture to say that not a Harvard man, among all the loyal thousands of her surviving Alumni, but feels his heart beat quicker as he reads the story of her children amid their "baptism of fire." There is a notable peculiarity about this the most purely New-England of our colleges,—the continual recurrence of familiar patronymics. I take up the last semi-annual catalogue, and there among the five hundred names I can almost make out my own classmates of twenty years ago. Abbots, Bigelows, Lawrences, Masons, Russells,—they come with every Commencement-season. Some families have had for every generation in a hundred and fifty years a representative in her halls. There is a patent of nobility in this, such peerage as a republic can rightly confer, the coronet which marks the union of birth and worth. We cannot, we, the Alumni, suffer these our brothers to sleep unhonored. Those who shall come after us, who shall fill our places in dear Old Harvard, shall occupy our ancient rooms in Hollis and Massachusetts and Stoughton and Holworthy, have a right not only to count [pg 393] the academic wreaths which have been won in past days by their namesakes, but also to be taught the inspiring lesson of holy love of country, of highest courage and truth and soldierly virtue.

And how shall this be done? Let these few remaining lines suggest at least one plan. Harvard's chief want is a hall for her Alumni, one worthy, in architecture and convenience, of her children's fame, which Harvard Hall is not. That long, awkward room, very hot and cramped to dine in at midsummer, hotter and more cramped still for the Class-day dances, is just fit for one purpose,—the declamation-exercises of the Sophomore year. Let us have a hall fit for Commencements, for Alumni and Phi-Beta orations, for our annual dinners, worthy of the "Doctor's" poems and the "General's" speeches, with a wainscot, not of vulgar plaster, but of noble oak, against which Copley's pictures and Story's busts may properly be placed.

Then let its windows be filled, as in the glorious halls and chapels of England, with memorial glass. Let one of these, if no more, be formed, of the costliest and most perfect workmanship our art can compass, to the memory of the Heroes of Harvard. It shall be the gift of every class which counts among its members one of these. There, amid the gorgeous emblazonry, shall be read their names, their academic year, their battles.

Or, if this may not be, because our Alma Mater is still too poor or too humble to offer to her returning children such banqueting-place,—if there is no Wykcham or Waynflete or Wolsey to arch for us the high-embowed roof, let us place our memorial in the Library, along its shaded alcoves and above its broad portals. There the bright shadows shall sleep and pass with the sliding day, where the young scholars mused and studied. There the future student, as he walks, shall read as noble a lesson as he can glean from any of the groaning shelves and dusty tomes. There shall be for Harvard her Libro d'Oro wherein she has written the names of her best-beloved.

Some token let us have that they are unforgotten. It was no quarrel of vulgar ambition in which they fell. It was the sacred strife for which the mother armed them when she sent them forth. For her they fought, for culture, generous learning, noble arts, for all that makes a land great and glorious, against the barbarism of anarchy and the baseness of a system founded upon wrong and oppression. We cannot, indeed, forget them while we live to come up to our annual gathering, and see the vacant places amid familiar ranks. There will then be question and reply, saddening, but proud. "He fell at Port Hudson, cheering on the forlorn hope." "He lies beneath the forest-trees of Chancellorsville." "He was slain upon the glacis of Fredericksburg." "He died in the foul prisons of Richmond." We cannot forget them, and we would fain leave the memorial of them to future generations. Their fame belongs to Harvard; for what they learned there could not be other than noble, inspiring, manly. Let Harvard make the plan, and give the call, and all of us, from our distant homes and according to our ability, will offer our gifts with gladness. Let the graduates who have leisure and taste and means, and who are still dwelling under the pleasant shades of the Cambridge elms, come together and take up the matter while love and gratitude and pride are fresh.

[pg 394]


An inquiring American mind, seeking the solution of this momentous question, would naturally turn to Appleton's "New Cyclopædia," Vol. XIV., page 131. The inquiring mind would be enlightened in a somewhat bewildering manner by the description there laid down of a little animal, some of whose qualities are thus set forth in the first article on the page indicated above:—

"ROEBUCK. A small European deer of the genus Capreolus.... The skull has a very small, shallow suborbital pit, ... tear-bag indistinct, hoofs narrow and triangular.... The color in summer is reddish brown, in winter olive, with paler shades; inside of the ears fulvous, and a black spot at the angles of the mouth.... It is about four feet long.... The horns are used for knife-handles.... They congregate in small families, but not in herds.... From their strong scent they are easily hunted; though they frequently escape by their speed, doublings, springing to cover, and other artifices.... The roebucks are represented in North America by the Virginia deer."

Inquiring mind, not wishing for researches in the direction of Natural History, albeit the subject of parallelisms is a somewhat curious study and in special cases infinitely amusing, passes on to the next article in the Cyclopædia.

It is sufficiently obvious that it requires neither fame nor greatness to excite public curiosity. A notorious criminal or an unusually eccentric lunatic frequently gives rise to a larger share of newspaper-comment and general discussion than the wisest and most virtuous of mankind. It must be well remembered by those who have read Tom Taylor's Life of Haydon that a dwarf was attracting thousands to the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London, while the historical painter, stung to madness by the neglect of the frivolous crowd, committed the hideous and ghastly suicide which threw a tragic darkness over the close of his strange and troubled existence. The desperate and dangerous frequently succeed in placing themselves on a bad eminence, from which they are conspicuous enough; and if to be talked of and pointed at be the sole object of their ambition, they can, of course, be congratulated on their success. Virtue may sit in humble and obscure usefulness at a thousand quiet firesides, while the work of the incendiary may be seen to spread widely, and the tumult of his mischief be heard from afar. And so any public man or politician, whose taste is so morbidly depraved and whose aim in life is so debased as to prefer notoriety to honest, useful service, may revel in the questionable enjoyment of being the especial theme of public debate and private conversation. Hence it happens that so many of our fellow-countrymen are at this moment asking the question with which we head these pages,—"Who is Roebuck?"

An unhappy culprit, who combined with an innocent taste for green peas a thievish method of acquiring their usual savory accompaniment, is reported to have been addressed by an English judge in the following felicitous terms:—"Prisoner at the bar, Providence has endowed you with health and strength, instead of which you go about the country stealing ducks." Providence has endowed John Arthur Roebuck, member of the Parliament of Great Britain, with fair talents and some power of speech, instead of which (to use the accurate judicial ellipsis) he goes about using violent and vulgar words of menace against those who have never offended him, and scattering firebrands as if there were no gun-powder anywhere to ignite and explode. This would be a mean and mischievous occupation for the dullest man; but for one who has proved by his very failures [pg 395] that he is not devoid of intellect or energy, it is a monstrous perversion of mental gifts, even if they are small.

A portion of the fiery heat of his nature may be traced, perhaps, to the fact that he was born at Madras; but as on the mother's side he is descended from the poet Tickell, the friend of Addison, it would not be altogether unreasonable to have expected in him some few of the amenities of the literæ humaniores. He soon, however, exchanged the torrid scenes of Oriental life for the snows of Canada, where he received his education; and when we remember what the bizarre oddities of his subsequent career have been, it might be interesting, if we had the materials for the purpose, to inquire what that education was. The British Provinces, however, were not deemed a sufficiently ample theatre of action for the energy of the capacious soul that dwelt in that not over-capacious body; and so, at the age of twenty-three, he repaired to England and commenced his studies for the profession of the law.

He was called to the bar in 1832. He had, however, by no means paid an exclusive attention to the study of the law, or his success in his profession might have been greater, and the world might have had a good lawyer instead of a bad politician. The period of his Inner-Temple student-life was a very stirring time in England. Old principles were dying out, and wrestling in death-struggle with newer and wider theories of human liberty and human progress. The young East-Indian Canadian rushed with natural impetuosity into the arena, and was one of the most reckless and noisy debating-club spouters of the day. In speaking of the Reform Bill at a meeting at a tavern in London, he said, that, if the bill did not pass, he for one should like to "wade the streets of the capital knee-deep in blood." It was consoling to reflect, even at the time, that the atrocious aspiration was mitigated by the reflection that it would not require a deluge of gore to reach the knees of such a Zacchæus as Roebuck. "Pretty wicious that for a child of six!" said the amiable Mr. Squeers on one occasion; and pretty sanguinary that, say we, for a rising little demagogue of thirty.

As England was at that time in a seething ferment of excitement, men who were unscrupulous in their language were at a premium in the political market, and the respectable constituency of the pleasant watering-place of Bath, in Somersetshire, elected the fierce little man as their representative in the Imperial Parliament. This was a great start in life for the new-fledged barrister, and, had he moderated his overweening vanity, and studied wisely, and with some self-abnegation and honest adherence to party, he might have risen to some useful position, and been saved, at least, from the indignity of fetching and carrying for the Emperor of Austria, and from the impertinence of intruding himself into the august presence of Mr. Kinglake's amiable and virtuous friend, the Emperor of France. The English nation might then possibly have pointed to his portrait in their historical gallery as that of an efficient public servant who had deserved well of his country, and he might have escaped a ludicrous immortality as the Dog Tear-'em, in the recent admirable sketch in "Punch."

But, in the words of a political song,—

  "There weren't no such luck
  For John A. Roebuck,
And he thought he would teach the whole nation
  That the Tories were fools,
  And the Whigs only tools,
But Roebuck was England's salvation."

And he, according to this programme, set himself to reform the Constitution and protect the Colonies.

"Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri,"

he was an eclectic in politics,—acknowledged no leader, had himself no followers. A chief without a party, an apostle without disciples, a critic without the merest ordinary penetration, a cynic whose bitterness was not enlivened by wit or humor, a spouter whose arguments, when he had any, were usually furnished from the mint, John Arthur Roebuck was for many [pg 396] years that impersonation of terrific honesty, glaring purity, and indignant virtue, known in English politics as an INDEPENDENT member of Parliament. When party-spirit runs high, and many party-men are disposed to be unscrupulous in the measures and artifices by which they win or retain place and power, such a position, occupied with judgment and fortified by modesty and good sense, is a most powerful and a most beneficent one; but it is useless when seized on by one whose obtrusive egotism and more than feminine vanity disqualify him for any serious or permanent influence on his fellow-men. When a Pocket-Diogenes rolls his little tub into the House of Commons, and complains that everybody is standing between him and the sun,—why, in an assembly of educated and sensible men the sham is soon discovered, the pseudo-cynic seen through, and his affected misanthropy deservedly gains for him universal derision and scorn. Some years after he entered Parliament, Mr. Disraeli, with whom he had many encounters, in which he was invariably worsted, made the House roar with laughter by taunting Roebuck with his "Sadler's Wells sarcasms and melodramatic malignities," and drew a most amusing picture of him as "a solitary sentinel pacing round the deserted citadel of his own opinions."

"He who surpasses or subdues mankind
Must look down on the hate of those below";

but as Mr. Roebuck has done neither the one nor the other, his only chance of not being utterly forgotten, instead of being feared or hated, by his contemporaries, is to continue his work of mischief, and merely change the object of his puny attacks as one becomes more prominent than another, and as he can manage to maintain his own quasi-importance by attaching his name to great questions. He had no special dislike for this country; so far from that, he admired and praised us, as by an extract from one of his books we will presently prove; but since he has become a self-appointed lackey, has donned imperial livery, and as a volunteer does the dirty work of despots, he must have lost all sympathy with and all regard for an independent, free, and brave people. We hope and believe that this country vastly prefers his censure to his praise, and, as far as it has leisure at the present crisis for any serious consideration of his erratic pranks, would rather have his enmity than his friendship. Non tali auxilio!

But we must recur to his inconsistent and rather uninteresting career, and so satisfy, and perhaps weary, the curiosity of any reader who is still disposed to ask the momentous question, "Who is Roebuck?"

In 1835, he was appointed the agent—the paid agent—of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, during the dispute then raging between the Executive Government and the House of Assembly. As Englishmen especially plume themselves on the fact that the members of their legislative bodies are unremunerated, it is somewhat difficult to understand how this exception was made in John Arthur's favor. As a precedent it is to be hoped that it has not been followed; for it is obvious that such an arrangement, however advantageous or pleasant to individual members, might throw grave suspicions on the purity of public men, and introduce a wholesale venality into public life. If such a system is permitted, any foreign monarch or any foreign government may secure the services of a British senator as his agent and representative. It is quite appalling to think that the chivalrous Earl of Derby or the conscientious Mr. Gladstone should be shocked by the offer of a handsome annual salary paid quarterly, (not deducting the income-tax,) made by the King of Dahomey for an eloquent defence of his humane and enlightened rule, or by an equally munificent donative from the famous and merry monarch of the Cannibal Islands for the support of himself and his loyal subjects in their copious consumption of human flesh. We should be sorry wantonly to raise so dreadful a suspicion; but if British M.P.s are permitted, [pg 397] according to the Roebuck precedent, to be PAID agents, why has not Southern money found its way into senatorial pockets? Greedy Mr. Laird, and unscrupulous, money-loving Mr. Lindsay,18 always resolutely grubbing for the main chance, are perhaps sufficiently paid by indirect, though heavy gains in shipbuilding. Needy Mr. Roebuck may be salaried by the Emperor of Austria, though there is nothing to prove, except his own open-mouthed and loud-tongued professions of purity, that he is not "paid agent" of the Confederate Government. The indulgence of the evil feelings of malice and uncharitableness may, however, sufficiently recompense him; and to him, perhaps, his virtue may be its own reward. But if paid agencies are not permitted, a very serious suspicion fastens on that hard-mouthed, rising lordling, Robert Cecil, son of the Marquis of Salisbury, and one of the most active and energetic champions of the slave-mongers of the South. The young lord, it is well known, stepped down from the lofty pedestal of a bad pedigree to marry the fair, but portionless daughter of an English judge; his father is proverbially mean and stingy, and the young lord himself proportionately poor; and in the intervals of his strenuous advocacy of the claims of the Rebels to European recognition he laudably ekes out his very narrow income by writing articles for the London newspapers and reviews; and rumor says that he communicates gossiping letters, full of piquant and satirical sketches of the proceedings of the House of Commons to two or three of the provincial papers. He is under these circumstances peculiarly open to suspicion. If the proceeding in question is a usual one, why does he not openly avow it? If it is unusual or improper, why does he not deny the soft impeachment so much credited both in this country and in his own? It is really refreshing to contemplate, that Roebuck, after being the paid agent of the Canadian House of Assembly, should have become such a purist as to drag poor Mr. Isaac Butt before the notice of the Commons, and scream for the censure on him on a mere suspicion that he had touched the yellow and handsome gold coins of one of the innumerable Indian princes and rajahs who come to England with complaints of grievances, sometimes real, and sometimes fictitious, against the British Government.

During the period of the "paid agency" Roebuck was tolerably industrious with his pen; but in literature and journalism he proved his utter incapacity for joining in any combined action. Such was his dogged self-assertion and indomitable egotism that none of the ordinary channels would answer his purpose; and so he issued a series of political papers, entitled "Pamphlets for the People," to which the curious may sometimes refer, but which have now lost all their significance and interest. His quarrels with editors and publishers were notorious; and an altercation with Mr. Black, the well-known editor of the "Morning Chronicle," eventuated in a duel so bloodless as to be ridiculous. David's pebble did not reach Goliath, and Goliath was equally merciful to David. In these pamphlets he violently assailed the whole body of editors, sub-editors, reporters, etc., of most of the papers of any note. And the more accustomed he became to the House of Commons, the greater liberties did he take with the conventional fairness and courtesy of debate. His personality and scurrility were so indiscriminating and excessive that he was perhaps at this time the most unpopular member of the House.

In 1837 he lost his election for Bath, [pg 398] but was reelected in 1841. In a subsequent contest at Bath he was successfully opposed by Lord Ashley, the present Earl of Shaftesbury. On this occasion he exhibited even more than his usual bad temper and bad taste. He declined to accept Lord Ashley's proffered hand; and in the chagrin and vexation occasioned by unexpected defeat he uttered a rabid invective against the Non-Conformist ministers of the place, to whose influence he rightly attributed his rival's success. Lord Ashley was a well-known philanthropist, and his consistent support and patronage of many religious and charitable societies had naturally given him popularity among the Protestant clergy of all denominations,—a popularity heightened in the case of the Evangelical and Calvinistic ministers by his Lordship's strict Sabbatarianism and his belief in cold dinners on Sunday. On the other hand, Mr. Roebuck was openly accused of private professions of skepticism in matters of religion; and this report, so dangerous to the repute of any public man in England, (where theology and politics so frequently cross each other,) considerably damaged his chance of success. Lord Ashley, however, was in no way responsible for the rumor; and the difference between the conduct of the two during the contest was this, that Lord Ashley behaved like a gentleman and Mr. Roebuck did not.

During his retirement into private life, after this defeat in 1847, he wrote his work entitled "The History of the Whig Ministry of 1830,"—a book in the preparation of which he is said to have received considerable and valuable assistance from no less a person than Lord Brougham. Despite the aid that he received, it is amusing to find in his preface a characteristic vaunting of his entire difference with Lord Brougham about the character of King William IV. "Lord Brougham," he writes, "is accustomed to describe William IV as frank, just, and straightforward. We believe him to have been very weak and very false, a finished dissembler, and always bitterly hostile to the Whig Ministry and their great measure of Reform." This is Roebuck all over. He would infinitely rather argue that white was black than quietly coincide in any generally received opinion.

While on the subject of his writings, we will mention the book in which he vouchsafed to praise those whom he now so elaborately vilifies. In 1849 he published an octavo volume of two hundred and forty-eight pages on "The Colonies of England." Speaking (page 84) of the vast and rapid progress made by this country, he says:—

"We are led to inquire by what machinery, by what favoring circumstances, such a result has been brought about. The people, be it remarked, are the same as ourselves,—the original Thirteen States were the work of Englishmen. English heads, English hearts, English hands brought those new communities into existence. No longer connected by government with us, they nevertheless retained the characteristics of the race from which they sprang, and proceeding in the great work to which they were destined, they strode across the continent, the fairest portion of which they could now call their own. In planting new settlements they were aided by our own people,—the very elements out of which we endeavor to frame colonies, and with which we do produce sickly, miserable communities that can only be said to exist, and to linger on in a sort of half-life, without the spirit of a young, or the amenities and polish of an old community, and, above all, without any spirit of independence."

Again, speaking of colonization In this country as opposed to Canada and other English colonies, he writes (page 88):—"Certain adventurous persons, the 'pioneers' of civilization, wishing to make new settlements beyond the boundaries of Pennsylvania and Virginia, upon wild lands belonging to the United States, made formal application to the Government of the United States at Washington, who, being bound to afford all possible facility, thereupon take steps to have the land surveyed and laid out [pg 399] into counties, townships, parishes. The roads are also indicated, and at once the law exists; and security, guarantied by the authority of the United States, immediately follows, both for person and property; and all the machinery known to the Common Law, and needed for the maintenance of this security, and the enforcement of the law's decrees, is at once adopted. A municipal authority comes into existence; a court-house, a jail, a school-room, arise in the wilderness; and although these buildings be humble, and the men who exercise authority in them may appear to be in some degree rude, yet is the law there in all its useful majesty. To it a reverent obedience is rendered; and the plain magistrate, who, in a hunter's frock, may, in the name of the United States, pronounce the law's decree, commands an obedience as complete and sincere as that which is paid to the Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court at Washington, or to the ermined judge who presides in the courts of our Lady the Queen in Westminster Hall."

This in 1849; but what a very different tone has he thought fit to adopt now! Was any agency then expected which has not been forthcoming? Or, having degenerated from being a supporter of liberal opinions in his youth to being the fond and fatuous admirer of autocrats in his old age, does he think that it is absolutely necessary that the firm friend of Austrian despotism should be the malignant assailant of the Government and people of the United States? The man is consistent in nothing but his spiteful vindictiveness and love of mischief. He is now the general object of deserved ridicule and contempt for his flunkyistic attendance at the Tuileries. At the time of Louis Napoleon's visit to London, Roebuck raved and ranted about his "perjured lips having kissed the Queen of England."

He has, on some occasions, put himself prominently forward, and in such a way as to make himself an influential member of Parliament. He moved the vote of confidence in the Whig Government in 1850, when the great debate ensued in which the late Sir Robert Peel made his last speech, and they were kept in office by a poetical majority of nine. But the speech with which Roebuck introduced the motion was entirely eclipsed by the magnificent declamation of Sir Alexander Cockburn, the present Lord-Chief-Justice of England. On another great occasion, in January, 1855, he brought forward in the House of Commons a motion for inquiry into the conduct of the Crimean War. Lord Aberdeen's Government was defeated by an immense majority, and, of course, resigned. Mr. Roebuck was chairman of the Committee of Inquiry; but the cabinet that came in discreetly declined to give him any official post in their ranks. They knew too well the terrible uncertainty and inconsistency of the man's conduct. They could place no reliance either on his temper or his discretion. In 1855 he was one of the numerous candidates for the chairmanship of the Metropolitan Board of Works, but failed to inspire the electors with any confidence in his capacity for the post. In the following year he became the chairman of the Administrative Reform Association, and although the league had at first been highly successful, and aided much in awaking public attention to the miscarriages and mismanagement in the Crimea, yet, under this fatal presidency, it became speedily and ingloriously defunct. This was his last great failure, before abdicating all his early liberal principles. He has of late years endeavored to solace himself for the now irretrievable blunders of his career by an exaggerated indulgence in his idiosyncratic waywardness, paradox, and eccentricity. He is proud of being considered the acquaintance of the Emperor of Austria, and rather pleased than otherwise at being assailed on this account. He affects the society and friendship of conservative members of the House of Commons. He has become tolerant of lords. He may be seen sitting next to Lord Robert Cecil, indulging in ill-natured jocosities, from which his Lordship probably borrows when [pg 400] he indites ill-natured articles for the misguided "Saturday Review."19 He hates the Manchester school of politicians, because their liberality and their sympathy with the cause of freedom and civilization in this country remind Roebuck of his own deflection from the right path.

His private undertakings have not been more fortunate than his public acts. He was chairman of a bank, which was unsuccessful, to say the least of it. He has been connected with other enterprises, which soon courted and obtained failure.

What he has recently said and done in reference to this country is too fresh in our memories to require that we should recite or recapitulate it here. His past career, as we have reviewed it, may account for the now intolerable acerbity of temper and the ludicrous vanity which disgrace him. Never was a Nemesis more just than that which has for the present consigned him to a melancholy obscurity. The political extinguisher has certainly dropped upon his head, and this burning and shining light has gone out with an unpleasant odor into utter darkness.

In summing up his character, it is evident that excessive vanity is his besetting sin. He is not too clever or too honest to act in union with other people, but he is too vain. He is by no means too good for the rest of the world; but he is too conceited and self-opinionated to condescend to coöperate with them. As, at some of the minor theatres, a single actor may play an army, so, in the House of Commons, Roebuck is a host in himself,—is his own party, and leads it. His occasional popularity in his own country is due to the fact, that, in his own character, he, to a certain extent, represents and crystallizes a few of the good and many of the bad qualities of Englishmen. He has their courage and audacity, their independence and pride, their generally defiant front to the rest of the world; but he is also vain, obstinate, bigoted, prejudiced, narrow in his views, and boastful in his language. His vulgar swagger, for instance, about the navy sweeping the seas, would have been condemned here, if it had been addressed by the most violent of demagogues to the most ignorant of Irish mobs.

We have heard him speak in the House of Commons in his palmier days, before he was as decrepit in mind as he is in body. He had great fluency, some power of invective, and a vast stock of assurance. We listened to him upon one occasion, when, without the slightest provocation, he used the most undignified personalities to the late Sir Robert Peel,—to which Sir Robert, very wisely, never replied.

We cannot say that we feel any profound interest as to his future. He has compared himself to a dog,—but, on behalf of that faithful and valued companion of man, we protest against the similitude. He has the kind of pugnacity which prompts a cur or a puppy to attack a Newfoundland or a mastiff. He has not the fidelity and many other good qualities of the canine race. At any rate, he has become a mischievous dog,—and a dull dog,—and will soon be a "sad dog."

We would venture to suggest, that he should at once be raised to the peerage, under the title of Baron Tear-'em. He might then aid the good cause of the slave-mongers of the South, and act in unison with that just, generous, moral, and virtuous nobleman, the Marquis of Clanricarde.

We ought to apologize to our readers for so lengthy an account of so undeserving a person,—but, at any rate, they ought by this time to know "Who is Roebuck?"

[pg 401]


Six Months in the Federal States. By EDWARD DICEY. In Two Volumes. London and Cambridge: Macmillan & Co.

This is a very gentlemanly book. Whatever excellence of commendation belongs to the adjective we have Italicized must be awarded to Mr. Dicey. And it is ill-adapted to the manufactures of most British tourists who have preceded him. For, to make no mention of the vulgar buffooneries of Bunn or Grattan, we hold that neither the exalted and irrepressible prosiness of Dr. Charles Mackay, nor the cleverish magic-lantern pictures of that good-natured book-maker, Mr. Anthony Trollope, would be perfectly fitted with this polite addition. It is no mean praise to say that the word gentlemanly naturally applies itself to a traveller's work. And it is necessary to allow that the majority of Americans who have printed their impressions of a scamper over Europe have fallen as hopelessly below it as a few have risen far above it. Some word of deeper meaning must characterize the sterling sentences of "English Traits"; some epithet of more rare and subtile significance is suggested by those exquisitely painted scenes of foreign life with which Hawthorne is even now adorning the pages of the "Atlantic." But after the manner in which such a well-informed, modest, humane man as we would emphatically credit as an American gentleman might speak of six months in England, so has Mr. Dicey spoken of his six months in the Federal States.

And, at this present time, far better than all curious delineations or "stereographic" descriptions are the sober testimonies concerning us which Mr. Dicey offers to his countrymen. To such loyal Americans as these volumes may reach they will give a heart not to be found in Dr. Russell's pictorial neutrality, in the dashing effects of popular Mr. Trollope, nor even—making all allowance for the sanative influence of counter-irritation—in the weekly malignity of that ex-Moral Minstrel whom the London "Times" has sent to the aid of our insurgent slave-masters. For, instead of gloating over objections and picking out what petty enigmas may not be readily soluble, Mr. Dicey has a manly, English way of accepting the preponderant evidence concerning the crisis he came to study. He seldom gets entangled in trivial events, but knows how to use them as illustrations of great events. It is really refreshing to meet with a British traveller who is so happily delivered from the haunting consciousness of a personal identity. The reader is not called upon to bemoan the tribulations of temperance-taverns, the hardships of indiscriminate railroad-carriages, nor the rapacity of New-York hackmen. There is scarcely an offence against good taste or good feeling in Mr. Dicey's volumes; and whatever American homes may have been opened to him would doubtless reopen far more readily than to most publishing tourists from the mother-land.

Mr. Dicey clearly exhibits the bearing of the Rebellion upon the fate of the servile population of the South, and confesses that his deep sympathy with the Federal cause came from the conviction that the supremacy or overthrow of Slavery was intimately connected with the success or failure of Secession. In acknowledging the necessity that was upon loyal Americans of defending the fundamental law of their society, he is not disposed to adopt the lamentation of some of our foreign well-wishers who are troubled by the fear of a military despotism in the Free States. He has the sagacity to perceive that the genius and development of the graduates of Northern school-houses are totally opposed to a military rule. Mr. Dicey cordially recognizes the democratic idea which sanctifies our convulsion, and displays a careful observation in noting "the self-restraint, the moderation, and the patience of the American people in the conduct of the people's war." He is not over-disturbed because this same people loved law and order more than freedom itself, and with few murmurs committed high principles to the championship of whatever petty men happened to represent them. Indeed, one of the best sayings he reports is that of an old Polish exile, who congratulates himself that there will be no saviours of society, no fathers of their country, [pg 402] to be provided for when the war is over.

Throughout these two volumes British readers may discern something more than the barren facts of our struggle: they may catch glimpses of its energy and movement; they may see it as reflected from the most generous American minds. For it seems to have been Mr. Dicey's good fortune in this country to have gained admission to the society of men and women of high intelligence, in whom the religious sentiment was living and powerful; and he appears to estimate the full weight of testimony such persons offered in sending their loved ones to Virginia to fall beneath the rifle of some Southern boor. It is this silent public opinion of the North which our foreign critics have generally failed to comprehend. They have been so long accustomed to parody the rhetorical elation of our third-rate political speakers, and to represent this as a universal American characteristic, that they signally failed to estimate the genuine emotion with which it is never connected. When the cherished barbarism of slaveholders arose and threatened our Western civilization, those who most felt and have best wrought for their country were cautious in their speech. They knew that the principle underlying the struggle must submit itself to the checks and counter-checks of constitutional law. While the fire of liberty burned at the heart of citizens of abiding loyalty, it seemed best, that, like the Psalmist, they should hold their peace even from good words. Many thought it an act of necessary self-restraint to dwell only upon the Union as a symbol of that universal freedom which they felt the Union must finally represent. The dread of overleaping the restraints of law, which, perchance, has prolonged the conflict, has been most creditable to the genuine democracy we have represented. We are proud to remember many intelligent soldiers who used no language of passionate denunciation towards the guilty institution which called them to the field, yet who knew the end when they gave their lives to a cause utterly antagonistic to its despotic claims.

By the representations of Secessionists encountered in the Free States, as well as from disloyal newspapers which the "Lincoln despotism" never sought to suppress, Mr. Dicey was convinced that the sole purpose of the Rebellion was to get possession of the vast regions which lie west of the Mississippi, wherein to establish Slave States and Territories. "The North," he declares, "is fighting against, the South is fighting for, the power of extending slavery across the American continent; and if this was all that could be said, it is clear on which side must be the sympathies of any one who really and honestly believes that slavery is an evil and a sin." But it is not here that Mr. Dicey rests the case of the North as appealing to the Christian sentiment of the world. He shows that the inexorable logic of facts must work the overthrow of slavery where it now exists. The suppression of the slave-trade, the recognition of Hayti, abolition in the District of Columbia, and finally the Proclamation of January have one tendency and can have but one result. We state these views as one more confirmation of the fact, that, whether agreeable to us or not, the sympathies of liberal men in Europe are to be had on the sole ground that ours is an anti-slavery war.

Mr. Dicey's predilections lead him to make a generous, although discriminating, estimate of those men who, in time past, have endeavored to serve their country by leaving the level commonplaces of respectable citizenship. It is no slight praise to say that his chapter upon the New-England Abolitionists is clear and just. Their points of disagreement with the Republican party are stated with no common accuracy. Careful sentences give the precise position of Garrison and his adherents: the intrinsic essence of the movement of these reformers is divested of the subordinate and trivial facts so often put forward to misrepresent it. Although Mr. Dicey endeavors not to commit himself upon the vital differences in the agitation of anti-slavery sentiments by the Abolitionists and by the Republican party, it is very evident that he inclines to the belief that the former, in their advocacy of disunion, acted not from a perverse and fanatical philosophy, but from the logical compulsions of a critical understanding, stimulated by an intense conviction of the national sin.

We have dwelt thus upon Mr. Dicey's views of the war, and of the great moral question with which it is connected, because these portions of his volumes are [pg 403] most pertinent to us, as well as creditable to him. His sketches of public characters are good common-sense grasps at them, which generally get their externals, and occasionally something more. The description of the President is forcible, though a little too graphic for perfect courtesy. Caleb Cushing impresses the traveller as one of the ablest of our public men, and Wendell Phillips as by far the most eloquent speaker he ever heard. General Butler, however, is not to Mr. Dicey's taste. Indeed, he is hardly behind the "Saturday Review" in the terrible epithets he bestows upon the man who he acknowledges "was associated with the grandest triumph of the Federal arms, and by some means or other preserved New Orleans to the Union with but little cost of either men or money." It is rather late to renew discussion about the notorious order relating to the women of the subjected city. But Mr. Dicey chooses to express his belief in an infamous intention of General Butler at the time of its issue,—though he declares that "the strictest care was taken lest the order should be abused," and that the "Southern ladies [?] were grossly insulting in their behavior to the Union soldiers, using language and gestures which, in a city occupied by troops of any other nation, would have subjected them, without orders, to the coarsest retaliation." To which we have only to reply, that General Butler may be a villain, but that he is certainly not a fool. Nobody doubts that he has military or civil aspirations for the future, and, for such ends, if for nothing else, wishes the approbation of his loyal countrymen. Now Mr. Dicey testifies to "the almost morbid sentiment of Americans in the Free States with regard to women": he tells us that "it renders them ridiculously susceptible to female influences"; also, that this same "sentiment" among us "protects women from the natural consequences of their own misconduct." These characteristics of his countrymen are just as familiar to General Butler as they are patent to Mr. Dicey; and we hold it to be simply incredible that one who is at least a very shrewd politician used language which he intended should convey a meaning that must necessarily consign his future career to privacy and infamy. It is perhaps not wonderful that men who have deluged their country in blood, to propagate a system which consigns unborn millions to enforced harlotry, should put an evil interpretation upon the indignant stigma applied to acts which, in civilized States, come from one class of women, and are designed for one purpose. Neither is it very astonishing that such persons as have been employed to pump the New-York sewers into the cloaca maxima which sets towards us from Printing-House Square should share the sensitive chastity of the slave-masters whose work they are put to do. But it is passing strange that a gentleman so fair and reasonable as Mr. Dicey, one so appreciative of the moral tone which Northern society demands of its representatives, should join in an accusation whose absurdity is only lost in its infinite offence.

There are small inaccuracies, as well as occasional instances of carelessness or repetition, in these volumes, which, had circumstances allowed time for revision, might have been avoided. It would require the "Pathfinder" himself to discover "Fremont Street" in the city where we write; the "Courier" is not "the most largely circulated of any Boston paper"; and our Ex-Mayor "Whiteman" requires no fanciful orthography to free his name from the obloquy of an over-devotion to the interests of colored citizens. These are local illustrations of mistakes which are excusable in view of the commendable expedition with which the work was issued,—for, in the late crisis of our affairs, an Englishman who had any good words to give us fulfilled the proverb by giving twice in giving quickly. But, whatever trifling details might be subjected to criticism, the total impression of what Mr. Dicey has written bears honorable testimony to the accuracy of his observation, as well as to his powers of comparison and judgment.

As has been already remarked, we cannot be blind to the fact that our only supporters in England are those men who recognize at the heart of our contest that genuine principle of Liberty which is not to be limited to caste or to race. And it is only by hastening to justify their confidence that we can win to our cause the great people they address. If we cannot gain the national sympathy of England, we must do without the true sympathy of any nation. It was, indeed, remarked by De Tocqueville, that, "in the eyes of the English, the cause which is most useful to [pg 404] England is always the cause of justice." But the rare insight of the philosopher assigns the phenomenon, not to a political Machiavelism, but to a "laudable desire to connect the actions of one's country with something more stable than interest." The English have a peculiar gift of fixing their whole attention upon certain traits or single circumstances which they desire to see. We doubt not that a portion of their sympathy with the energy and endurance of those in arms against their country is estimable according to its light. But as the dignity of our mission in this struggle becomes more and more apparent, the moral intelligence of England will be forced to unite itself with the Government of the United States. Let that day come when it will, posterity will remember its obligations to those Englishmen who did so much to avert the hideous calamity of a war between the two liberal powers of the world. And to us of this present generation it is grateful to know that our brave and generous young men have not died wholly unrecognized in the land of their ancestors. Mill, Ellison, Hughes,—what need to name the rest?—have stood up to report them and their cause aright to the unsatisfied: in which roll of the honorable and honored we are glad to write the name of Edward Dicey.

Hospital Transports. A Memoir of the Embarkation of the Sick and Wounded from the Peninsula of Virginia in the Summer of 1862. Compiled and published at the Request of the Sanitary Commission. Boston: Ticknor and Fields.

If pure benevolence was ever organized and utilized into beneficence, the name of the institution is the Sanitary Commission. It is a standing answer to Samson's riddle, "Out of the strong came forth sweetness." Out of the very depths of the agony of this cruel and bloody war springs this beautiful system, built of the noblest and divinest attributes of the human soul. Amidst all the heroism of daring and enduring which this war has developed, amidst all the magnanimity of which it has shown the race capable, the daring, the endurance, and the greatness of soul which have been discovered among the men and women who have given their lives to this work shine as brightly as any on the battle-field,—in some respects even more brightly. They have not the bray of trumpets nor the clash of swords to rouse enthusiasm, nor will the land ever resound with their victories. Theirs is the dark and painful side, the menial and hidden side, but made light and lovely by the spirit that shines in and through it all. Glimpses of this agency are familiar to our people; but not till the history of its inception, progress, and results is calmly and adequately written out and spread before the public will any idea be formed of the magnitude and importance of the work which it has done. Nor even then. Never, till every soldier whose last moments it has soothed, till every soldier whose flickering life it has gently steadied into continuance, whose waning reason it has softly lulled into quiet, whose chilled blood it has warmed into healthful play, whose failing frame it has nourished into strength, whose fainting heart it has comforted with sympathy,—never, until every full soul has poured out its story of gratitude and thanksgiving, will the record be complete; but long before that time, ever since the moment that its helping hand was first held forth, comes the Blessed Voice, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

An institution asking of Government only permission to live and opportunity to work, planting itself firmly and squarely on the generosity of the people, subsisting solely by their free-will offerings, it is a noble monument of the intelligence, the munificence, and the efficiency of a free people, and of the alacrity with which it responds when the right chord is rightly touched. It is, however, not unnatural that doubts should exist as to the success of a plan so far-reaching in its aims and hitherto so untried. Stories have been circulated of a mercenary disposition of its stores and trickery among its officers. Where these stories have found considerable credence, they have been tracked to their source and triumphantly refuted; but it would indeed be hardly less than miraculous, if an institution ramifying so widely, with agents so numerous, and resources so extensive, should have no knaves among its servants, and no waste in its circulation. The wonder is, that more [pg 405] leakage has not been proved than has ever been suspected. All that is necessary to remove floating doubts, to convince all heads of the wisdom which projected this Commission, and to warm all hearts up to its continued and sufficient support, is a knowledge of what it has done, is doing, and purposes to do. This information the Commission has, at different times, and by piecemeal, furnished: necessarily by piecemeal, since, as this book justly remarks, the immense mass of details which a circumstantial account of its operations in field and hospital must involve would prove nearly as laborious in the reading as in the performance. In this little volume we have, photographed, a single phase of its operations. It consists simply of extracts from letters and reports. There is no attempt at completeness or dramatic arrangement; yet the most elaborate grouping would probably fail to present one-half as accurately a picture of the work and its ways as these unpretending fragments. It delights us to see the—we can hardly say cheerful, as that savors too much of the "self-sacrifice" which benevolence sometimes tarnishes by talking about—but, rather, the gay, lively, merry manner in which the most balky matters are taken hold of. Men and women seem to have gone into the service with good-will and hearty love and buoyant spirits. It refreshes and strengthens us like a tonic to read of their taking the wounded, festering, filthy, miserable men, washing and dressing them, pouring in lemonade and beef-tea, and putting them abed and asleep. There is not a word about "devotion" or "ministering angels," (we could wish there were not quite so much about "ladies,") but honest, refined, energetic, able women, with quick brains and quick hands, now bathing a poor crazy head with ice-water, to be rewarded with one grateful smile from the parting soul,—now standing in the way of a procession of the slightly wounded, to pour a little brandy down their throats, or put an orange into their hands, just to keep them up till they reach food and rest,—now running up the river in a steam-tug, scrambling eggs in a wash-basin over a spirit-lamp as they go,—now groping their way, at all hours of the night, through torrents of rain, into dreadful places crammed with sick and dying men, "calling back to life those in despair from utter exhaustion, or again and again catching for mother or wife the last faint whispers of the dying,"—now leaving their compliments to serve a disappointed colonel instead of his dinner, which they had nipped in the bud by dragging away the stove with its four fascinating and not-to-be-withstood pot-holes;—and let the sutler's name be wreathed with laurel who not only permitted this, but offered his cart and mule to drag the stove to the boat, and would take no pay!

The blessings of thousands who were ready to perish, and of tens of thousands who love their country and their kind, rest upon those who originated, and those who sustain, this noble work. Let the people's heart never faint and its hand never weary; but let it, of its abundance, give to this Commission full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, that, wherever the red trail of war is seen, its divine footsteps may follow,—that, wherever the red hand of war is lifted to wound, its white hand may be lifted to heal,—that its work may never cease until it is assumed by a great Christian Government, or until peace once more reigns throughout the land. And even then, gratitude for its service, and joy in its glory, shall never die out of the hearts of the American people.

The History of the Supernatural, in all Ages and Nations, and in all Churches, Christian and Pagan, demonstrating a Universal Faith. By WILLIAM HOWITT. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.

There has been a great change of late years in connection with the science of Pneumatology and with the manner of treating it. There was a revolution of opinion on this subject in the middle of the last century; there is a counter-revolution to-day.

The superstitions and credulities of the Middle Ages eventuated, during the course of the eighteenth century, in the Encyclopædism of French philosophy. The grounds upon which the Church based her doctrine of the supernatural were fiercely attacked. The proofs brought forward to prove the insufficiency of such grounds were assumed to prove more than lack of logic in the Church; they were taken as proofs, that, in the nature of things, there [pg 406] is no evidence for the supernatural, in any sense of the term; in other words, that there is no knowledge within the reach of mortals, except that which relates to the physical,—to this earth, as the only phase of existence,—to the vital body, as the all of the human being. Emotional and intellectual phenomena were but results of material organization, as heat is the result of combustion: they exhibited themselves so long as vitality continued; they disappeared when death supervened, as the warmth from a fire dies out with the cessation of combustion. No hypothetical soul was needed to account for the thousand phenomena of thought or of sensation. Pneumatology was no science, but the mere fancy of an excited imagination.

Not to the literature and the social life of France alone was this materialistic influence confined. The mind of Germany, of England, and, more or less, of the rest of Europe, and of America, was pervaded by it. The tendency, all over the civilized world, was towards unbelief, not merely in miracles, but in all things spiritual. Science, with her strict tests and her severe inductions, lent her aid in the same direction.

It does not seem to have occurred to the philosophers of the Encyclopædian school that a doctrine is not necessarily false because an insufficient argument is brought forward to prove it. It does not appear to have occurred to skeptical physicists that there may be laws of Nature regulating ultramundane phenomena, as fixed, as invariable, as those which decide the succession of geological phenomena and the products of chemical combinations.

Here is a theory which is worth considering. May it not be that God adapts the proofs of that which it is important that man should know to the intellectual progress of mankind? Is it certain that the same evidence which sufficed for the foundation of religious faith five hundred years ago will suffice equally well to-day? Truths are eternal; laws of Nature vary not. But of the world's thoughts there is a childhood, a youth, a manhood; and there may be various classes of arguments suited to various stages of progress.

Again, assuming that the materialist takes a contracted view of the economy of human life, ignoring every portion of it except its present phase, (that phase being but the preparation for another and a higher,) may it not be, that, as the world advances, men may gradually be permitted, occasionally and to a limited extent, to become aware of influences exerted from a more advanced phase of existence over this? May it not be that the links connecting the two phases of existence are gradually to become more numerous and apparent?

Such are the general views which William Howitt's work is intended to illustrate and enforce. He selects, as a title-page motto, an axiom from Butler's "Analogy,"—"There are two courses of Nature: the ordinary and the extraordinary." By the supernatural he does not mean phenomena out of the course of Nature, but such comparatively rare phenomena as are governed by laws with which we are unacquainted, and as are, therefore, to us something extraordinary, something to be wondered at,—miracles.

The author travels over a vast extent of ground,—more, we think, than can be properly explored in the compass of two duodecimo volumes. All ages, all countries, all faiths, furnish their quota towards his collection. It is curious, interesting, suggestive, rather than conclusive. It exhibits more industry than logic. It consists rather of abundant materials for others to use, than of materials worked up by the collector. It gives evidence of learning, research, and a comprehensive study of the subject. It is a thesaurus of pneumatological knowledge, collected with German assiduity. It will set many to thinking, though it may convince but few, except of the one truth, that the faith in the supernatural has been a universal faith, pervading all nations, persisting through all ages.

The number of those who take an interest in the subject treated of in Mr. Howitt's book, and who believe that great truths underlie popular superstitions, increases day by day; and the work will probably have a wide circulation.

Footnote 1: (return)

The "Florestan" of the "Scènes Mignonnes"; "Chiara" is Clara herself; "Eusebius" was Robert Schumann.

Footnote 2: (return)

See Dwight's Journal of Music, Vol. VIII. No. 3.

Footnote 3: (return)

How d' y' do?

Footnote 4: (return)

Among the other facts showing that Kirkdale Cave had been the den of these animals, and not tenanted as their home by any of the other creatures whose remains occurred there, were the excrements of the Hyenas found in considerable quantity by Dr. Buckland, and identified as such by the keeper of a menagerie. Any one who may wish to read the whole history of Dr. Buckland's investigations of this matter, showing the patience and sagacity with which he collected and arranged the evidence, will find a full account of Kirkdale Cave and other caverns containing fossil bones in his "Reliquiæ Diluvianæ."

Footnote 5: (return)

"In any thinking mind." Yet it must be confessed that there does exist a woful ignorance or negligence concerning De Quincey in quarters from which better things might be expected. Misappreciation it cannot be called, where no trouble has been taken to estimate claims that needed only to be weighed to be truly valued. Up to this time, there has never been published in England a single essay on the life or the genius of De Quincey that indicated even a good acquaintance, on the part of the writer, with that author's works; and in such a case, of course, not much could be looked for in the way of just interpretation. Gilfillan did him gross injustice: indeed, from what he condescended to say of the man, it would be difficult to conjecture that a greater than Gilfillan was there. And, will the reader believe it? in Professor Craik's "English Literature"—a work of great excellence—the name of De Quincey is not mentioned! "Sam Johnson," says Craik, "was the last king that sat upon the throne of English prose literature." Let it be that Sam was a proper king; yet it is just as true that De Quincey was legitimately his successor. First, in the matter of time: Sam died in 1784, and De Quincey was born in 1785, just in time to continue the regal line. What was it, again, that entitled Johnson to kingly honors? Was it learning? De Quincey was as erudite. Was it his style? There is no writer in the language who in that matter may look down on De Quincey.

If there ever was a writer "damned with faint praise," it was De Quincey. Some stupid writer for the London "Athenæum," for instance, dared to compliment the poor "opium-chewer" after the following style:—"He possessed taste, but he lacked creative energy; and his subtle and highly refined intellect was ingenious and acute rather than powerful." This reminds me of a criticism once passed upon Shakspeare by a mere pedagogue, to the effect that the great poet had considerable genius, but very little taste!

Footnote 6: (return)

Of De Quincey's humor, a friend once remarked to me, that it always reminded him of an elephant attempting to dance. Now, without any doubt, an elephant could dance after an elephantine fashion; but surely you would never catch him going through the movements of a jig or a Virginia "breakdown." He never lets you forget that he is an elephant. So with De Quincey. Levity is an element farthest removed from his humor; in fact, whenever he allows himself to indulge in humor at all, you may be sure that murder is going on somewhere in the vicinity, a tragedy of pretty frequent occurrence in De Quincey's works.

There was sufficient humor in De Quincey to have endowed a dozen Aristophaneses. There was something, too, in its order, by which it resembled the gigantesque features of the old Greek master. I will illustrate my meaning by a single instance from each. In Aristophanes's "Clouds," Strepsiades is being initiated into the Socratic Phrontisterium, and in the course of the ceremony Socrates directs his pupil's attention to the moon for certain mysterious purposes. But the moon only reminds Strepsy of numerous imperturbable duns that storm about his ears with lunar exactness, (literally so, since the Greeks paid, or refused to pay, regularly on the last day of the month,)—and here it is that the opportunity is offered for a monstrous stroke of humor; for, at this crisis, Strepsy is made to exclaim, "Some magic is it, O Socrates, about the moon? Well! since you are up to that sort of thing, what do you say, now, to a spell by which I could snap the old monster out of her course for a generation or so?" Now for the parallel case from De Quincey. It is from his paper on "California," a politico-economical treatise. The author's object is to illustrate the fact that scarcity of gold is not due to its non-existence, but to the difficulty of obtaining it. "Emeralds and sapphires," says he, "are lying at this moment in a place which I could indicate, and no policeman is on duty in the whole neighborhood to hinder me or the reader from pocketing as many as we please. We are also at perfect liberty to pocket the anchors of Her Majesty's ship the Victoria, (one hundred and twenty guns,) and to sell them for old iron. Pocket them by all means, and I engage that the magistrate sitting at the Thames police-office will have too much respect for your powers to think of detaining you. If he does, your course is to pocket the police-office, and all which it inherits. The man that pockets an anchor may be a dangerous customer, but not a customer to be sneezed at." This strikes us as very similar to Strepsiades's bagging the moon.

Footnote 7: (return)

But afterwards he discovered his mistake, and that it was only by the lack on his part of that frankness which the kindness of his guardians deserved that he had brought so much misery upon himself in after-life. His younger brother, Richard,—the Pink of the "Autobiographic Sketches,"—made the same mistake, a mistake which in his case was never rectified, but led to a life of perilous wanderings and adventures.

Footnote 8: (return)

Paradise Regained, Book II.

Footnote 9: (return)

It has been adduced as an important proof of the soul's immortality, that frequently, as physical power declines, the mind exhibits unusual activity. But the argument moves in the opposite direction. For of what sort is this unusual activity? That which results from unbalanced nerves; and the indications are that not only are the physical harmonies disturbed, but that the same disturbing cause has impaired the delicate adjustments of thought itself. Sometimes there is manifested, towards the near approach of death, an almost insane brilliancy; as, for instance, in the case of a noted theologian, who occupied the last minutes of his ebbing life with a very subtile mathematical discourse concerning the exceeding, the excruciating smallness of nothing divided into infinitesimal parts. And strange as it may seem, I once heard this identical instance cited as a triumphant vindication of the most sublime article of either Pagan or Christian faith. Nay, from the lips of a theological professor, the fragmentary glimmerings of a maniac's mind have been adduced for precisely the same purpose.

Footnote 10: (return)

Yet, marvellous as it may seem, he wrote the second without being distinctly conscious of having written a previous one. It was no uncommon thing for him to forget his own writings. In one case it is known that for a long time he persisted in disowning his production. His American editor—a fact which is little known—selected, from among the mass of periodical writings in the various magazines for which De Quincey wrote, those which, having no other clue to guide him than, their peculiar style, he judged to have proceeded from De Quincey's pen. In one instance,—as to the "Traditions of the Rabbins,"—after considerable examination, he still hesitated, and finally wrote to De Quincey, to set himself right. The latter disowned the essay: he had forgotten it. Mr. F., however, after another examination, concluded, that, notwithstanding De Quincey's denial of the fact, he must have written it; accordingly, at his own risk, he published it. Afterwards De Quincey owned up, and ever after that referred all disputed cases of this nature to his Boston publishers.

Footnote 11: (return)

De Quincey, at his death, had two sons and three daughters. The, eldest of the daughters became the wife of Robert Craig of Ireland. It was this one, and the youngest, who were present during his last hours. The second daughter, Florence, was with her husband (a colonel of the British army) in India. The two sons were both absent: one in India, a captain in the army; the other, a physician, in Brazil.

Footnote 12: (return)

These manuscripts are now in the possession of the Hon. Charles Sumner, who is also the fortunate owner of the Album Amicorum containing the autograph of John Milton.—ED.

Footnote 13: (return)

Macknight's Life of Burke, Vol. III. p. 737.

Footnote 14: (return)

Life of Burke, Vol. III. p. 410.

Footnote 15: (return)

Lifo of Burke, Vol. III. p. 700.

Footnote 16: (return)

Parliamentary History Vol. XXIX. p. 426.

Footnote 17: (return)

Macknight, Vol. III. p. 532.

Footnote 18: (return)

Lindsay's fawning, plastic sycophancy is well known this side the water. After shrewdly filling his coffers with profits from Northern business-transactions, he now turns about, kicks his old friends, who always half suspected his knavish propensities, bows, cap in hand, to visionary cotton-bales, and hopes to turn some honest pounds, shillings, and pence by advocating the slave-drivers' rebellion. A "fool's gudgeon" will surely reward his laborious endeavors for Southern gold, that article growing beautifully less every day.

Footnote 19: (return)

This journal is now owned by Mr. Alexander James Beresford Beresford-Hope, (we dare not omit any portion of this august name,) who has ample means to enlist the talents of reckless, "smart" young men in search of employment for any work he may require, no matter how unprincipled the job in hand.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XII. September,
1863, No. LXXI., by Various


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