The Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54,
No. 337, November, 1843, by Various

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Title: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 337, November, 1843

Author: Various

Release Date: August 27, 2005 [EBook #16607]

Language: English

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[pg 552]


NO. 1.


Reader! Were you ever in a Texian prairie? Probably not. I have been; and this was how it happened. When a very young man, I found myself one fine morning possessor of a Texas land-scrip—that is to say, a certificate of the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company, in which it was stated, that in consideration of the sum of one thousand dollars, duly paid and delivered by Mr Edward Rivers into the hands of the cashier of the aforesaid company, he, the said Edward Rivers, was become entitled to ten thousand acres of Texian land, to be selected by himself, or those he should appoint, under the sole condition of not infringing on the property or rights of the holders of previously given certificates.

Ten thousand acres of the finest land in the world, and under a heaven compared to which, our Maryland sky, bright as it is, appears dull and foggy! It was a tempting bait; too good a one not to be caught at by many in those times of speculation; and accordingly, our free and enlightened citizens bought and sold their millions of Texian acres just as readily as they did their thousands of towns and villages in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, and their tens of thousands of shares in banks and railways. It was a speculative fever, which has since, we may hope, been in some degree cured. At any rate, the remedies applied have been tolerably severe.

I had not escaped the contagion, and, having got the land on paper, I thought I should like to see it in dirty acres; so, in company with a friend who had a similar venture, I embarked at Baltimore on board the Catcher schooner, and, after a three weeks' voyage, arrived in Galveston Bay.

The grassy shores of this bay, into which the river Brazos empties itself, rise so little above the surface of the water, to which they bear a strong resemblance in colour, that it would be difficult to discover them, were it not for three stunted trees growing on the western extremity of a long lizard-shaped island that stretches nearly sixty miles across the bay, and conceals the mouth of the river. These trees are the only landmark for the mariner; and, with their exception, not a single object—not a hill, a house, nor so much as a bush, relieves the level sameness of the island and adjacent continent.

After we had, with some difficulty, got on the inner side of the island, a pilot came on board and took charge of the vessel. The first thing he did was to run us on a sandbank, off which we got with no small labour, and by the united exertions of sailors and passengers, and at length entered the river. In our impatience to land, I and my friend left the schooner in a cockleshell of a boat, which upset in the surge, and we found ourselves floundering in the water. Luckily it was not very deep, and we escaped with a thorough drenching.

When we had scrambled on shore, we gazed about us for some time before we could persuade ourselves that we were actually upon land. It was, without exception, the strangest coast we had ever seen, and there was scarcely a possibility of distinguishing the boundary between earth and water. The green grass grew down to the edge of the green sea, and there was only the streak of white foam left by the latter upon the former to serve as a line of demarcation. Before us was a plain, a hundred or more miles in extent, covered with long, fine grass, rolling in waves before each puff of the sea-breeze, with neither tree, nor house, nor hill, to vary the monotony of the surface. Ten or twelve miles towards the north and north-west, we distinguished some dark masses, which we afterwards discovered to be groups of trees; but to our eyes they looked exactly like islands in a green sea, and we subsequently learned that they were called islands by the people of the country. It would have been difficult to have given them a more appropriate name, or one better describing their appearance.

Proceeding along the shore, we came to a blockhouse situated behind a small tongue of land projecting into the river, and decorated with the flag of the Mexican republic, waving in all its glory from the roof. At that period, this was the only building of which Galveston harbour could boast. It served as custom-house and as barracks for the garrison, also as the residence of the director of customs, and of the civil and military intendant, as headquarters of the officer commanding, and, moreover, as hotel and wine and spirit store. Alongside the board, on which was depicted a sort of hieroglyphic, intended for the Mexican eagle, hung a bottle doing duty as a sign, and the republican banner threw its protecting shadow over an announcement of—"Brandy, Whisky, and Accommodation for Man and Beast."

As we approached the house, we saw the whole garrison assembled before the door. It consisted of a dozen dwarfish, spindle-shanked Mexican soldiers, none of them so big or half so strong as American boys of fifteen, and whom I would have backed a single Kentucky woodsman, armed with a riding-whip, to have driven to the four winds of heaven. These heroes all sported tremendous beards, whiskers, and mustaches, and had a habit of knitting their brows, in the endeavour, as we supposed, to look fierce and formidable. They were crowding round a table of rough planks, and playing a game of cards, in which they were so deeply engrossed that they took no notice of our approach. Their officer, however, came out of the house to meet us.

Captain Cotton, formerly editor of the Mexican Gazette, now civil and military commandant at Galveston, customs-director, harbour-master, and tavern-keeper, and a Yankee to boot, seemed to trouble himself very little about his various dignities and titles. He produced some capital French and Spanish wine, which, it is to be presumed, he got duty free, and welcomed us to Texas. We were presently joined by some of our fellow-passengers, who seemed as bewildered as we had been at the billiard-table appearance of the country. Indeed the place looked so desolate and uninviting, that there was little inducement to remain on terra firma, and it was with a feeling of relief that we once more found ourselves on board the schooner.

We took three days to sail up the river Brazos to the town of Brazoria, a distance of thirty miles. On the first day nothing but meadow land was visible on either side of us; but, on the second, the monotonous grass-covered surface was varied by islands of trees, and, about twenty miles from the mouth of the river, we passed through a forest of sycamores, and saw several herds of deer and flocks of wild turkeys. At length we reached Brazoria, which at the time I speak of, namely, in the year 1832, was an important city—for Texas, that is to say—consisting of upwards of thirty houses, three of which were of brick, three of planks, and the remainder of logs. All the inhabitants were Americans, and the streets arranged in American fashion, in straight lines and at right angles.

[pg 553] The only objection to the place was, that in the wet season it was all under water; but the Brazorians overlooked this little inconvenience, in consideration of the inexhaustible fruitfulness of the soil. It was the beginning of March when we arrived, and yet there was already an abundance of new potatoes, beans, peas, and artichokes, all of the finest sorts and most delicious flavour.

At Brazoria, my friend and myself had the satisfaction of learning that our land-certificates, for which we had each paid a thousand dollars, were worth exactly nothing—just so much waste paper, in short—unless we chose to conform to a condition to which our worthy friends, the Galveston Bay and Texas Land Company, had never made the smallest allusion.

It appeared that in the year 1824, the Mexican Congress had passed an act for the encouragement of emigration from the United States to Texas. In consequence of this act, an agreement was entered into with contractors, or empresarios, as they call them in Mexico, who had bound themselves to bring a certain number of settlers into Texas within a given time and without any expense to the Mexican government. On the other hand, the Mexican government had engaged to furnish land to these emigrants at the rate of five square leagues to every hundred families; but to this agreement one condition was attached, and it was, that all settlers should be, or become, Roman Catholics. Failing this, the validity of their claims to the land was not recognised, and they were liable to be turned out any day at the point of the bayonet.

This information threw us into no small perplexity. It was clear that we had been duped, completely bubbled, by the rascally Land Company; that, as heretics, the Mexican government would have nothing to say to us; and that, unless we chose to become converts to the Romish Church, we might whistle for our acres, and light our pipes with the certificate. Our Yankee friends at Brazoria, however, laughed at our dilemma, and told us that we were only in the same plight as hundreds of our countrymen, who had come to Texas in total ignorance of this condition, but who had not the less taken possession of their land and settled there; that they themselves were amongst the number, and that, although it was just as likely they would turn negroes as Roman Catholics, they had no idea of being turned out of their houses and plantations; that, at any rate, if the Mexicans tried it, they had their rifles with them, and should be apt, they reckoned, to burn powder before they allowed themselves to be kicked off such an almighty fine piece of soil. So, after a while, we began to think, that as we had paid our money and come so far, we might do as others had done before us—occupy our land and wait the course of events. The next day we each bought a horse, or mustang, as they call them there, which animals were selling at Brazoria for next to nothing, and rode out into the prairie to look for a convenient spot to settle.

These mustangs are small horses, rarely above fourteen hands high, and are descended from the Spanish breed introduced by the original conquerors of the country. During the three centuries that have elapsed since the conquest of Mexico, they have increased and multiplied to an extraordinary extent, and are to be found in vast droves in the Texian prairies, although they are now beginning to become somewhat scarcer. They are taken with the lasso, concerning which instrument or weapon I will here say a word or two, notwithstanding that it has been often described.

The lasso is usually from twenty to thirty feet long, very flexible, and composed of strips of twisted ox hide. One end is fastened to the saddle, and the other, which forms a running noose, held in the hand of the hunter, who, thus equipped, rides out into the prairie. When he discovers a troop of wild horses, he manoeuvres to get to windward of them, and then to approach as near them as possible. If he is an experienced hand, the horses seldom or never escape him, and as soon as he finds himself within twenty or thirty feet of them, he throws the noose with unerring aim over the neck of the one he has selected for his prey. This done, he turns his own horse sharp round, gives him the spur, and gallops away, dragging his unfortunate captive after him, breathless, and with his windpipe so compressed by the noose, that he is unable to make the smallest resistance, [pg 554] and after a few yards, falls headlong to the ground, and lies motionless and almost lifeless, sometimes indeed badly hurt and disabled. From this day forward, the horse which has been thus caught never forgets the lasso; the mere sight of it makes him tremble in every limb; and, however wild he may be, it is sufficient to show it to him, or lay it on his neck, to render him as tame and docile as a lamb.

The horse taken, next comes the breaking in, which is effected in a no less brutal manner than his capture. The eyes of the unfortunate animal are covered with a bandage, and a tremendous bit, a pound weight or more, clapped into his mouth; the horsebreaker puts on a pair of spurs six inches long, and with rowels like penknives, and jumping on his back, urges him to his very utmost speed. If the horse tries to rear, or turns restive, one pull, and not a very hard one either, at the instrument of torture they call a bit, is sufficient to tear his mouth to shreds, and cause the blood to flow in streams. I have myself seen horses' teeth broken with these barbarous bits. The poor beast whinnies and groans with pain and terror; but there is no help for him, the spurs are at his flanks, and on he goes full gallop, till he is ready to sink from fatigue and exhaustion. He then has a quarter of an hour's rest allowed him; but scarcely does he begin to recover breath, which has been ridden and spurred out of his body, when he is again mounted, and has to go through the same violent process as before. If he breaks down during this rude trial, he is either knocked on the head or driven away as useless; but if he holds out, he is marked with a hot iron, and left to graze on the prairie. Henceforward, there is no particular difficulty in catching him when wanted; the wildness of the horse is completely punished out of him, but for it is substituted the most confirmed vice and malice that it is possible to conceive. These mustangs are unquestionably the most deceitful and spiteful of all the equine race. They seem to be perpetually looking out for an opportunity of playing their master a trick; and very soon after I got possession of mine, I was nearly paying for him in a way that I had certainly not calculated upon.

We were going to Bolivar, and had to cross the river Brazos. I was the last but one to get into the boat, and was leading my horse carelessly by the bridle. Just as I was about to step in, a sudden jerk, and a cry of 'mind your beast!' made me jump on one side; and lucky it was that I did so. My mustang had suddenly sprung back, reared up, and then thrown himself forward upon me with such force and fury, that, as I got out of his way, his fore feet went completely through the bottom of the boat. I never in my life saw an animal in such a paroxysm of rage. He curled up his lip till his whole range of teeth was visible, his eyes literally shot fire, while the foam flew from his mouth, and he gave a wild screaming neigh that had something quite diabolical in its sound. I was standing perfectly thunderstruck at this scene, when one of the party took a lasso and very quietly laid it over the animal's neck. The effect was really magical. With closed mouth, drooping ears, and head low, there stood the mustang, as meek and docile as any old jackass. The change was so sudden and comical, that we all burst out laughing; although, when I came to reflect on the danger I had run, it required all my love of horses to prevent me from shooting the brute upon the spot.

Mounted upon this ticklish steed and in company with my friend, I made various excursions to Bolivar, Marion, Columbia, Anahuac, incipient cities consisting of from five to twenty houses. We also visited numerous plantations and clearings, to the owners of some of which we were known, or had messages of introduction; but either with or without such recommendations, we always found a hearty welcome and hospitable reception, and it was rare that we were allowed to pay for our entertainment.

We arrived one day at a clearing which lay a few miles off the way from Harrisburg to San Felipe de Austin, and belonged to a Mr Neal. He had been three years in the country, occupying himself with the breeding of cattle, which is unquestionably the most agreeable, as well as profitable, occupation that can be followed in Texas. He had between seven and eight hundred head of cattle, and from fifty to sixty horses, all [pg 555] mustangs. His plantation, like nearly all the plantations in Texas at that time, was as yet in a very rough state, and his house, although roomy and comfortable enough inside, was built of unhewn tree-trunks, in true back-woodsman style. It was situated on the border of one of the islands, or groups of trees, and stood between two gigantic sycamores, which sheltered it from the sun and wind. In front, and as far as could be seen, lay the prairie, covered with its waving grass and many-coloured flowers, behind the dwelling arose the cluster of forest trees in all their primeval majesty, laced and bound together by an infinity of wild vines, which shot their tendrils and clinging branches hundreds of feet upwards to the very top of the trees, embracing and covering the whole island with a green network, and converting it into an immense bower of vine leaves, which would have been no unsuitable abode for Bacchus and his train.

These islands are one of the most enchanting features of Texian scenery. Of infinite variety and beauty of form, and unrivalled in the growth and magnitude of the trees that compose them, they are to be found of all shapes—circular, parallelograms, hexagons, octagons—some again twisting and winding like dark-green snakes over the brighter surface of the prairie. In no park or artificially laid out grounds, would it be possible to find any thing equalling these natural shrubberies in beauty and symmetry. In the morning and evening especially, when surrounded by a sort of veil of light-greyish mist, and with the horizontal beams of the rising or setting sun gleaming through them, they offer pictures which it is impossible to get weary of admiring.

Mr Neal was a jovial Kentuckian, and he received us with the greatest hospitality, only asking in return all the news we could give him from the States. It is difficult to imagine, without having witnessed it, the feverish eagerness and curiosity with which all intelligence from their native country is sought after and listened to by these dwellers in the desert. Men, women, and children, crowded round us; and though we had arrived in the afternoon, it was near sunrise before we could escape from the enquiries by which we were overwhelmed, and retire to the beds that had been prepared for us.

I had not slept very long when I was roused by our worthy host. He was going out to catch twenty or thirty oxen, which were wanted for the market at New Orleans. As the kind of chase which takes place after these animals is very interesting, and rarely dangerous, we willingly accepted the invitation to accompany him, and having dressed and breakfasted in all haste, got upon our mustangs and rode of into the prairie.

The party was half a dozen strong, consisting of Mr Neal, my friend and myself, and three negroes. What we had to do was to drive the cattle, which were grazing on the prairie in herds of from thirty to fifty head, to the house, and then those which were selected for the market were to be taken with the lasso and sent off to Brazoria.

After riding four or five miles, we came in sight of a drove, splendid animals, standing very high, and of most symmetrical form. The horns of these cattle are of unusual length, and, in the distance, have more the appearance of stag's antlers than bull's horns. We approached the herd first to within a quarter of a mile. They remained quite quiet. We rode round them, and in like manner got in rear of a second and third drove, and then began to spread out, so as to form a half circle, and drive the cattle towards the house.

Hitherto my mustang had behaved exceedingly well, cantering freely along and not attempting to play any tricks. I had scarcely, however, left the remainder of the party a couple of hundred yards, when the devil by which he was possessed began to wake up. The mustangs belonging to the plantation were grazing some three quarters of a mile off; and no sooner did my beast catch sight of them, than he commenced practising every species of jump and leap that it is possible for a horse to execute, and many of a nature so extraordinary, that I should have thought no brute that ever went on four legs would have been able to accomplish them. He shied, reared, pranced, leaped forwards, backwards, and sideways; in short, played such infernal pranks, that, although a practised rider, I found it no easy matter to keep my seat. I began heartily to regret that I had brought no lasso [pg 556] with me, which would have tamed him at once, and that, contrary to Mr Neal's advice, I had put on my American bit instead of a Mexican one. Without these auxiliaries all my horsemanship was useless. The brute galloped like a mad creature some five hundred yards, caring nothing for my efforts to stop him; and then, finding himself close to the troop of mustangs, he stopped suddenly short, threw his head between his fore legs, and his hind feet into the air, with such vicious violence, that I was pitched clean out of the saddle. Before I well knew where I was, I had the satisfaction of seeing him put his fore feet on the bridle, pull bit and bridoon out of his mouth, and then, with a neigh of exultation, spring into the midst of the herd of mustangs.

I got up out of the long grass in a towering passion. One of the negroes who was nearest to me came galloping to my assistance, and begged me to let the beast run for a while, and that when Anthony, the huntsman, came, he would soon catch him. I was too angry to listen to reason, and I ordered him to get off his horse, and let me mount. The black begged and prayed of me not to ride after the brute; and Mr Neal, who was some distance off, shouted to me, as loud as he could, for Heaven's sake, to stop—that I did not know what it was to chase a wild horse in a Texian prairie, and that I must not fancy myself in the meadows of Louisiana or Florida. I paid no attention to all this—I was in too great a rage at the trick the beast had played me, and, jumping on the negro's horse, I galloped away like mad.

My rebellious steed was grazing quietly with his companions, and he allowed me to come within a couple of hundred paces of him; but just as I had prepared the lasso, which was fastened to the negro's saddle-bow, he gave a start, and galloped off some distance further, I after him. Again he made a pause, and munched a mouthful of grass—then off again for another half mile. This time I had great hopes of catching him, for he let me come within a hundred yards; but, just as I was creeping up to him, away he went with one of his shrill neighs. When I galloped fast he went faster, when I rode slowly he slackened pace. At least ten times did he let me approach him within a couple of hundred yards, without for that being a bit nearer getting hold of him. It was certainly high time to desist from such a mad chase, but I never dreamed of doing so; and indeed the longer it lasted, the more obstinate I got. I rode on after the beast, who kept letting me come nearer and nearer, and then darted off again with his loud-laughing neigh. It was this infernal neigh that made me so savage—there was something so spiteful and triumphant in it, as though the animal knew he was making a fool of me, and exulted in so doing. At last, however, I got so sick of my horse-hunt that I determined to make a last trial, and, if that failed, to turn back. The runaway had stopped near one of the islands of trees, and was grazing quite close to its edge. I thought that if I were to creep round to the other side of the island, and then steal across it, through the trees, I should be able to throw the lasso over his head, or, at any rate, to drive him back to the house. This plan I put in execution—rode round the island, then through it, lasso in hand, and as softly as if I had been riding over eggs. To my consternation, however, on arriving at the edge of the trees, and at the exact spot where, only a few minutes before, I had seen the mustang grazing, no signs of him were to be perceived. I made the circuit of the island, but in vain—the animal had disappeared. With a hearty curse, I put spurs to my horse, and started off to ride back to the plantation.

Neither the plantation, the cattle, nor my companions, were visible, it is true; but this gave me no uneasiness. I felt sure that I knew the direction in which I had come, and that the island I had just left was one which was visible from the house, while all around me were such numerous tracks of horses, that the possibility of my having lost my way never occurred to me, and I rode on quite unconcernedly.

After riding for about an hour, however, I began to find the time rather long. I looked at my watch. It was past one o'clock. We had started at nine, and, allowing an hour and a half to have been spent in finding the cattle, I had passed nearly three hours in my wild and unsuccessful hunt. [pg 557] I began to think that I must have got further from the plantation than I had as yet supposed.

It was towards the end of March, the day clear and warm, just like a May-day in the Southern States. The sun was now shining brightly out, but the early part of the morning had been somewhat foggy; and, as I had only arrived at the plantation the day before, and had passed the whole afternoon and evening indoors, I had no opportunity of getting acquainted with the bearings of the house. This reflection began to make me rather uneasy, particularly when I remembered the entreaties of the negro, and the loud exhortations Mr Neal addressed to me as I rode away. I said to myself, however, that I could not be more than ten or fifteen miles from the plantation, that I should soon come in sight of the herds of cattle, and that then there would be no difficulty in finding my way. But when I had ridden another hour without seeing the smallest sign either of man or beast, I got seriously uneasy. In my impatience, I abused poor Neal for not sending somebody to find me. His huntsman, I had heard, was gone to Anahuac, and would not be back for two or three days; but he might have sent a couple of his lazy negroes. Or, if he had only fired a shot or two as a signal. I stopped and listened, in hopes of hearing the crack of a rifle. But the deepest stillness reigned around, scarcely the chirp of a bird was heard—all nature seemed to be taking the siesta. As far as the eye could reach was a waving sea of grass, here and there an island of trees, but not a trace of a human being. At last I thought I had made a discovery. The nearest clump of trees was undoubtedly the same which I had admired and pointed out to my companions soon after we had left the house. It bore a fantastical resemblance to a snake coiled up and about to dart upon its prey. About six or seven miles from the plantation we had passed it on our right hand, and if I now kept it upon my left, I could not fail to be going in a proper direction. So said, so done. I trotted on most perseveringly towards the point of the horizon where I felt certain the house must lie. One hour passed, then a second, then a third; every now and then I stopped and listened, but nothing was audible, not a shot nor a shout. But although I heard nothing, I saw something which gave me no great pleasure. In the direction in which we had ridden out, the grass was very abundant and the flowers scarce; whereas the part of the prairie in which I now found myself presented the appearance of a perfect flower-garden, with scarcely a square foot of green to be seen. The most variegated carpet of flowers I ever beheld lay unrolled before me; red, yellow, violet, blue, every colour, every tint was there; millions of the most magnificent prairie roses, tuberoses, asters, dahlias, and fifty other kinds of flowers. The finest artificial garden in the world would sink into insignificance when compared with this parterre of nature's own planting. My horse could hardly make his way through the wilderness of flowers, and I for a time remained lost in admiration of this scene of extraordinary beauty. The prairie in the distance looked as if clothed with rainbows that waved to and fro over its surface.

But the difficulties and anxieties of my situation soon banished all other thoughts, and I rode on with perfect indifference through a scene, that, under other circumstances, would have captivated my entire attention. All the stories that I had heard of mishaps in these endless prairies, recurred in vivid colouring to my memory, not mere backwoodsman's legends, but facts well authenticated by persons of undoubted veracity, who had warned me, before I came to Texas, against venturing without guide or compass into these dangerous wilds. Even men who had been long in the country, were often known to lose themselves, and to wander for days and weeks over these oceans of grass, where no hill or variety of surface offers a landmark to the traveller. In summer and autumn, such a position would have one danger the less, that is, there would be no risk of dying of hunger; for at those seasons the most delicious fruits, grapes, plums, peaches, and others, are to be found in abundance. But we were now in early spring, and although I saw numbers of peach and plum-trees, they were only in blossom. Of game also there was plenty, both fur and feather, but I had no gun, and nothing appeared more probable than [pg 558] that I should die of hunger, although surrounded by food, and in one of the most fruitful countries in the world. This thought flashed suddenly across me, and for a moment my heart sunk within me as I first perceived the real danger of my position.

After a time, however, other ideas came to console me. I had been already four weeks in the country, and had ridden over a large slice of it in every direction, always through prairies, and I had never had any difficulty in finding my way. True, but then I had always had a compass, and been in company. It was this sort of over-confidence and feeling of security, that had made me adventure so rashly, and spite of all warning, in pursuit of the mustang. I had not waited to reflect, that a little more than four weeks' experience was necessary to make one acquainted with the bearings of a district three times as big as New York State. Still I thought it impossible that I should have got so far out of the right track as not to be able to find the house before nightfall, which was now, however, rapidly approaching. Indeed, the first shades of evening, strange as it may seem, gave this persuasion increased strength. Home bred and gently nurtured as I was, my life before coming to Texas had been by no means one of adventure, and I was so used to sleep with a roof over my head, that when I saw it getting dusk I felt certain I could not be far from the house. The idea fixed itself so strongly in my mind, that I involuntarily spurred my mustang, and trotted on, peering out through the now fast-gathering gloom, in expectation of seeing a light. Several times I fancied I heard the barking of the dogs, the cattle lowing, or the merry laugh of the children.

"Hurrah! there is the house at last—I see the lights in the parlour windows."

I urged my horse on, but when I came near the house, it proved to be an island of trees. What I had taken for candles were fire-flies, that now issued in swarms from out of the darkness of the islands, and spread themselves over the prairie, darting about in every direction, their small blue flames literally lighting up the plain, and making it appear as if I were surrounded by a sea of Bengal fire. It is impossible to conceive anything more bewildering than such a ride as mine, on a warm March night, through the interminable, never varying prairie. Overhead the deep blue firmament, with its hosts of bright stars; at my feet, and all around, an ocean of magical light, myriads of fire-flies floating upon the soft still air. To me it was like a scene of enchantment. I could distinguish every blade of grass, every flower, each leaf on the trees, but all in a strange unnatural sort of light, and in altered colours. Tuberoses and asters, prairie roses and geraniums, dahlias and vine branches, began to wave and move, to range themselves in ranks and rows. The whole vegetable world around me seemed to dance, as the swarms of living lights passed over it.

Suddenly out of the sea of fire sounded a loud and long-drawn note. I stopped, listened, and gazed around me. It was not repeated, and I rode on. Again the same sound, but this time the cadence was sad and plaintive. Again I made a halt, and listened. It was repeated a third time in a yet more melancholy tone, and I recognised it as the cry of a whip-poor-will. Presently it was answered from a neighbouring island by a Katydid. My heart leaped for joy at hearing the note of this bird, the native minstrel of my own dear Maryland. In an instant the house where I was born stood before the eyesight of my imagination. There were the negro huts, the garden, the plantation, every thing exactly as I had left it. So powerful was the illusion, that I gave my horse the spur, persuaded that my father's house lay before me. The island, too, I took for the grove that surrounded our house. On reaching its border, I literally dismounted, and shouted out for Charon Tommy. There was a stream running through our plantation, which, for nine months out of the twelve, was only passable by means of a ferry, and the old negro who officiated as ferryman was indebted to me for the above classical cognomen. I believe I called twice, nay, three times, but no Charon Tommy answered; and I awoke as from a pleasant dream, somewhat ashamed of the length to which my excited imagination had hurried me.

I now felt so weary and exhausted, so hungry and thirsty, and, withal, [pg 559] my mind was so anxious and harassed by my dangerous position, and the uncertainty how I should get out of it, that I was really incapable of going any further. I felt quite bewildered, and stood for some time gazing before me, and scarcely even troubling myself to think. At length I mechanically drew my clasp-knife from my pocket, and set to work to dig a hole in the rich black soil of the prairie. Into this hole I put the knotted end of my lasso, and then pushing it in the earth and stamping it down with my foot, as I had seen others do since I had been in Texas, I passed the noose over my mustang's neck, and left him to graze, while I myself lay down outside the circle which the lasso would allow him to describe. An odd manner, it may seem, of tying up a horse; but the most convenient and natural one in a country where one may often find one's-self fifty miles from any house, and five-and-twenty from a tree or bush.

I found it no easy matter to sleep, for on all sides I heard the howling of wolves and jaguars, an unpleasant serenade at any time, but most of all so in the prairie, unarmed and defenceless as I was. My nerves, too, were all in commotion, and I felt so feverish, that I do not know what I should have done, had I not fortunately remembered that I had my cigar-case and a roll of tobacco, real Virginia dulcissimus, in my pocket—invaluable treasures in my present situation, and which on this, as on many other occasions, did not fail to soothe and calm my agitated thoughts.

Luckily, too, being a tolerably confirmed smoker, I carried a flint and steel with me; for otherwise, although surrounded by lights, I should have been sadly at a loss for fire. A couple of Havannahs did me an infinite deal of good, and after a while I sunk into the slumber of which I stood so much in need.

The day was hardly well broken when I awoke. The refreshing sleep I had enjoyed had given me new energy and courage. I felt hungry enough, to be sure, but light and cheerful, and I hastened to dig up the end of the lasso, and saddled my horse. I trusted that, though I had been condemned to wander over the prairie the whole of the preceding day, as a sort of punishment for my rashness, I should now have better luck, and having expiated my fault, be at length allowed to find my way. With this hope I mounted my mustang, and resumed my ride.

I passed several beautiful islands of pecan, plum, and peach trees. It is a peculiarity worthy of remark, that these islands are nearly always of one sort of tree. It is very rare to meet with one where there are two sorts. Like the beasts of the forest, that herd together according to their kind, so does this wild vegetation preserve itself distinct in its different species. One island will be entirely composed of live oaks, another of plum, and a third of pecan trees; the vine only is common to them all, and embraces them all alike with its slender but tenacious branches. I rode through several of these islands. They were perfectly free from bushes and brushwood, and carpeted with the most beautiful verdure it is possible to behold. I gazed at them in astonishment. It seemed incredible that nature, abandoned to herself, should preserve herself so beautifully clean and pure, and I involuntarily looked around me for some trace of the hand of man. But none was there. I saw nothing but herds of deer, that gazed wonderingly at me with their large clear eyes, and when I approached too near, galloped off in alarm. What would I not have given for an ounce of lead, a charge of powder, and a Kentucky rifle? Nevertheless, the mere sight of the beasts gladdened me, and raised my spirits. They were a sort of society. Something of the same feeling seemed to be imparted to my horse, who bounded under me, and neighed merrily as he cantered along in the fresh spring morning.

I was now skirting the side of an island of trees of greater extent than most of those I had hitherto seen. On reaching the end of it, I suddenly came in sight of an object presenting so extraordinary an appearance as far to surpass any of the natural wonders I had as yet beheld, either in Texas or the United States.

At the distance of about two miles rose a colossal mass, in shape somewhat like a monumental mound or tumulus, and apparently of the [pg 560] brightest silver. As I came in view of it, the sun was just covered by a passing cloud, from the lower edge of which the bright rays shot down obliquely upon this extraordinary phenomenon, lighting it up in the most brilliant manner. At one moment it looked like a huge silver cone; then took the appearance of an illuminated castle with pinnacles and towers, or the dome of some great cathedral; then of a gigantic elephant, covered with trappings, but always of solid silver, and indescribably magnificent. Had all the treasures of the earth been offered me to say what it was, I should have been unable to answer. Bewildered by my interminable wanderings in the prairie, and weakened by fatigue and hunger, a superstitious feeling for a moment came over me, and I half asked myself whether I had not reached some enchanted region, into which the evil spirit of the prairie was luring me to destruction by appearances of supernatural strangeness and beauty.

Banishing these wild imaginings, I rode on in the direction of this strange object; but it was only when I came within a very short distance that I was able to distinguish its nature. It was a live oak of most stupendous dimensions, the very patriarch of the prairie, grown grey in the lapse of ages. Its lower limbs had shot out in an horizontal, or rather a downward-slanting direction; and, reaching nearly to the ground, formed a vast dome several hundred feet in diameter, and full a hundred and thirty feet high. It had no appearance of a tree, for neither trunk nor branches were visible. It seemed a mountain of whitish-green scales, fringed with long silvery moss, that hung like innumerable beards from every bough and twig. Nothing could better convey the idea of immense and incalculable age than the hoary beard and venerable appearance of this monarch of the woods. Spanish moss of a silvery grey covered the whole mass of wood and foliage, from the topmost bough down to the very ground; short near the top of the tree, but gradually increasing in length as it descended, until it hung like a deep fringe from the lower branches. I separated the vegetable curtain with my hands, and entered this august temple with feelings of involuntary awe. The change from the bright sunlight to the comparative darkness beneath the leafy vault, was so great, that I at first could scarcely distinguish any thing. When my eyes got accustomed to the gloom, however, nothing could be more beautiful than the effect of the sun's rays, which, in forcing their way through the silvered leaves and mosses, took as many varieties of colour as if they had passed through a window of painted glass, and gave the rich, subdued, and solemn light of some old cathedral.

The trunk of the tree rose, free from all branches, full forty feet from the ground, rough and knotted, and of such enormous size that it might have been taken for a mass of rock, covered with moss and lichens, while many of its boughs were nearly as thick as the trunk of any tree I had ever previously seen.

I was so absorbed in the contemplation of the vegetable giant, that for a short space I almost forgot my troubles; but as I rode away from the tree they returned to me in full force, and my reflections were certainly of no very cheering or consolatory nature. I rode on, however, most perseveringly. The morning slipped away; it was noon, the sun stood high in the cloudless heavens. My hunger had now increased to an insupportable degree, and I felt as if something were gnawing within me, something like a crab tugging and riving at my stomach with his sharp claws. This feeling left me after a time, and was replaced by a sort of squeamishness, a faint sickly sensation. But if hunger was bad, thirst was worse. For some hours I suffered martyrdom. At length, like the hunger, it died away, and was succeeded by a feeling of sickness. The thirty hours' fatigue and fasting I had endured were beginning to tell upon my naturally strong nerves: I felt my reasoning powers growing weaker, and my presence of mind leaving me. A feeling of despondency came over me—a thousand wild fancies passed through my bewildered brain; while at times my head grew dizzy, and I reeled in my saddle like a drunken man. These weak fits, as I may call them, did not last long; and each time that I recovered I spurred my mustang onwards, but it was all in vain—ride as far and as fast [pg 561] as I would, nothing was visible but a boundless sea of grass.

At length I gave up all hope, except in that God whose almighty hand was so manifest in the beauteous works around me. I let the bridle fall on my horse's neck, clasped my hands together, and prayed as I had never before prayed, so heartily and earnestly. When I had finished my prayer I felt greatly comforted. It seemed to me, that here in the wilderness, which man had not as yet polluted, I was nearer to God, and that my petition would assuredly be heard. I gazed cheerfully around, persuaded that I should yet escape from the peril in which I stood. As I did so, with what astonishment and inexpressible delight did I perceive, not ten paces off, the track of a horse!

The effect of this discovery was like an electric shock to me, and drew a cry of joy from my lips that made my mustang start and prick his ears. Tears of delight and gratitude to Heaven came into my eyes, and I could scarcely refrain from leaping off my horse and kissing the welcome signs that gave me assurance of succour. With renewed strength I galloped onwards; and had I been a lover flying to rescue his mistress from an Indian war party, I could not have displayed more eagerness than I did in following up the trail of an unknown traveller.

Never had I felt so thankful to Providence as at that moment. I uttered thanksgivings as I rode on, and contemplated the wonderful evidences of his skill and might that offered themselves to me on all sides. The aspect of every thing seemed changed, and I gazed with renewed admiration at the scenes through which I passed, and which I had previously been too preoccupied by the danger of my position to notice. The beautiful appearance of the islands struck me particularly as they lay in the distance, seeming to swim in the bright golden beams of the noonday sun, like dark spots of foliage in the midst of the waving grasses and many-hued flowers of the prairie. Before me lay the eternal flower-carpet with its innumerable asters, tuberoses, and mimosas, that delicate plant which, when you approach it, lifts its head, seems to look at you, and then droops and shrinks back in alarm. This I saw it do when I was two or three paces from it, and without my horse's foot having touched it. Its long roots stretch out horizontally in the ground, and the approaching tread of a horse or man is communicated through them to the plant, and produces this singular phenomenon. When the danger is gone by, and the earth ceases to vibrate, the mimosa may be seen to raise its head again, but quivering and trembling, as though not yet fully recovered from its fears.

I had ridden on for three or four hours, following the track I had so fortunately discovered, when I came upon the trace of a second horseman, who appeared to have here joined the first traveller. It ran in a parallel direction to the one I was following. Had it been possible to increase my joy, this discovery would have done so. I could now entertain no doubt that I had hit upon the way out of this terrible prairie. It struck me as being rather singular that two travellers should have met in this immense plain, which so few persons traversed; but that they had done so was certain, for there was the track of the two horses as plain as possible. The trail was fresh, too, and it was evidently not long since the horsemen had passed. It might still be possible to overtake them, and in this hope I rode on faster than ever, as fast, at least, as my mustang could carry me through the thick grass and flowers, which in many places were four or five feet high.

During the next three hours I passed over some ten or twelve miles of ground, but although the trail still lay plainly and broadly marked before me, I say nothing of those who had left it. Still I persevered. I must overtake them sooner or later, provided I did not lose the track; and that I was most careful not to do, keeping my eyes fixed upon the ground as I rode along, and never deviating from the line which the travellers had followed.

In this manner the day passed away, and evening approached. I still felt hope and courage; but my physical strength began to give way. The gnawing sensation of hunger increased. I was sick and faint; my limbs became heavy, my blood seemed chilled in my veins, and all my senses appeared to grow duller under the influence of exhaustion, thirst, and hunger. My [pg 562] eyesight became misty, my hearing less acute, the bridle felt cold and heavy in my fingers.

Still I rode on. Sooner or later I must find an outlet; the prairie must have an end somewhere. It is true the whole of Southern Texas is one vast prairie; but then there are rivers flowing through it, and if I could reach one of those, I should not be far from the abodes of men. By following the streams five or six miles up or down, I should be sure to find a plantation.

As I was thus reasoning with, and encouraging myself, I suddenly perceived the traces of a third horse, running parallel to the two which I had been so long following. This was indeed encouragement. It was certain that three travellers, arriving from different points of the prairie, and all going in the same direction, must have some object, must be repairing to some village or clearing, and where or what this was had now become indifferent to me, so long as I once more found myself amongst my fellow-men. I spurred on my mustang, who was beginning to flag a little in his pace with the fatigue of our long ride.

The sun set behind the high trees of an island that bounded my view westward, and there being little or no twilight in those southerly latitudes, the broad day was almost instantaneously replaced by the darkness of night. I could proceed no further without losing the track of the three horsemen; and as I happened to be close to an island, I fastened my mustang to a branch with the lasso, and threw myself on the grass under the trees.

This night, however, I had no fancy for tobacco. Neither the cigars nor the dulcissimus tempted me. I tried to sleep, but in vain. Once or twice I began to doze, but was roused again by violent cramps and twitchings in all my limbs. There is nothing more horrible than a night passed in the way I passed that one, faint and weak, enduring torture from hunger and thirst, striving after sleep and never finding it. I can only compare the sensation of hunger I experienced to that of twenty pairs of pincers tearing at my stomach.

With the first grey light of morning I got up and prepared for departure. It was a long business, however, to get my horse ready. The saddle, which at other times I could throw upon his back with two fingers, now seemed made of lead, and it was as much as I could do to lift it. I had still more difficulty to draw the girths tight; but at last I accomplished this, and scrambling upon my beast, rode off. Luckily my mustang's spirit was pretty well taken out of him by the last two days' work; for if he had been fresh, the smallest spring on one side would have sufficed to throw me out of the saddle. As it was, I sat upon him like an automaton, hanging forward over his neck, some times grasping the mane, and almost unable to use either rein or spur.

I had ridden on for some hours in this helpless manner, when I came to a place where the three horsemen whose track I was following had apparently made a halt, perhaps passed the previous night. The grass was trampled and beaten down in a circumference of some fifty or sixty feet, and there was a confusion in the horse tracks as if they had ridden backwards and forwards. Fearful of losing the right trace, I was looking carefully about me to see in what direction they had recommenced their journey, when I noticed something white amongst the long grass. I got off my horse to pick it up. It was a piece of paper with my own name written upon it; and I recognized it as the back of a letter in which my tobacco had been wrapped, and which I had thrown away at my halting-place of the preceding night. I looked around, and recognized the island and the very tree under which I had slept or endeavoured to sleep. The horrible truth instantly flashed across me—the horse tracks I had been following were my own: since the preceding morning I had been riding in a circle!

I stood for a few seconds thunderstruck by this discovery, and then sank upon the ground in utter despair. At that moment I should have been thankful to any one who would have knocked me on the head as I lay. All I wished for was to die as speedily as possible.

I remained I know not how long lying in a desponding, half insensible, state upon the grass. Several hours must have elapsed; for when I got up, [pg 563] the sun was low in the western heavens. My head was so weak and wandering, that I could not well explain to myself how it was that I had been thus riding after my own shadow. Yet the thing was clear enough. Without landmarks, and in the monotonous scenery of the prairie, I might have gone on for ever following my horses track, and going back when I thought I was going forwards, had it not been for the discovery of the tobacco paper. I was, as I subsequently learned, in the Jacinto prairie, one of the most beautiful in Texas, full sixty miles long and broad, but in which the most experienced hunters never risked themselves without a compass. It was little wonder then that I, a mere boy of two and twenty, just escaped from college, should have gone astray in it.

I now gave myself up for lost, and with the bridle twisted round my hand, and holding on as well as I could by the saddle and mane, I let my horse choose his own road. It would perhaps have been better if I had done this sooner. The beast's instinct would probably have led him to some plantation. When he found himself left to his own guidance he threw up his head, snuffed the air three or four times, and then turning round, set off in a contrary direction to that he was before going, and at such a brisk pace that it was as much as I could do to keep upon him. Every jolt caused me so much pain that I was more than once tempted to let myself fall off his back.

At last night came, and thanks to the lasso, which kept my horse in awe, I managed to dismount and secure him. The whole night through I suffered from racking pains in head, limbs, and body. I felt as if I had been broken on the wheel; not an inch of my whole person but ached and smarted. My hands were grown thin and transparent, my cheeks fallen in, my eyes deep sunk in their sockets. When I touched my face I could feel the change that had taken place, and as I did so I caught myself once or twice laughing like a child—I was becoming delirious.

In the morning I could scarcely rise from the ground, so utterly weakened and exhausted was I by my three days' fasting, anxiety, and fatigue. I have heard say that a man in good health can live nine days without food. It may be so in a room, or a prison; but assuredly not in a Texian prairie. I am quite certain that the fifth day would have seen the last of me.

I should never have been able to mount my mustang, but he had fortunately lain down, so I got into the saddle, and he rose up with me and started off of his own accord. As I rode along, the strangest visions seemed to pass before me. I saw the most beautiful cities that a painter's fancy ever conceived, with towers, cupolas, and columns, of which the summits lost themselves in the clouds; marble basins and fountains of bright sparkling water, rivers flowing with liquid gold and silver, and gardens in which the trees were bowed down with the most magnificent fruit—fruit that I had not strength enough to raise my hand and pluck. My limbs were heavy as lead, my tongue, lips, and gums, dry and parched. I breathed with the greatest difficulty, and within me was a burning sensation, as if I had swallowed hot coals; while my extremities, both hands and feet, did not appear to form a part of myself, but to be instruments of torture affixed to me, and causing me the most intense suffering.

I have a confused recollection of a sort of rushing noise, the nature of which I was unable to determine, so nearly had all consciousness left me; then of finding myself amongst trees, the leaves and boughs of which scratched and beat against my face as I passed through them; then of a sudden and rapid descent, with the broad bright surface of a river below me. I clutched at a branch, but my fingers had no strength to retain their grasp—there was a hissing, splashing noise, and the waters closed over my head.

I soon rose, and endeavoured to strike out with my arms and legs, but in vain; I was too weak to swim and again I went down. A thousand lights seemed to dance before my eyes: there was a noise in my brain as if a four-and-twenty pounder had been fired close to my ear. Just then a hard hand was wrung into my neck-cloth, and I felt myself dragged out of the water. The next instant my senses left me.

[pg 564]



We left our friend the Khan, at length comfortably established in London, and pursuing his observations on the various novel objects of interest which every where presented themselves to his gaze. The streets lighted by gas (which the Persian princes call "the spirit of coals") are described in terms of the highest admiration—"On each side, as far as the eye could see, were two interminable lines of extremely brilliant light, produced by a peculiar kind of vapour here called gas, which made the city infinitely more interesting to look at by night than by day; but the most extraordinary thing in reference to the flame in the lamps was, that this appeared to be produced without the medium of either oil or wick, nor could I discern the cause of the lighting. The houses have from three to seven stages or stories, one of which is underground—each stage containing at least two rooms. The walls fronting the streets are of brick or stone, and the interior of woodwork; but the wood of the rooms inside is covered with a peculiar sort of paper of various colours and curious devices, highly elaborate and ingenious. The balconies outside were generally filled with flowers of various hues: but notwithstanding the wonders which surrounded me, and made me fancy myself in a world of talismanic creation, my spirits were for some time depressed, and this immense city seemed to me worse than the tomb; for I had not yet recovered from the bewilderment into which all that I had seen had thrown me."

The feeling of loneliness, resulting from this oppressive sense of novelty, wore off, however, as the Khan began to find out his friends, and accustom himself to the fashions of the country; and he was one day agreeably surprised by a visit from one of the suite of Moulavi Afzul Ali, an envoy to the Court of Directors from the Rajah of Sattarah;1 "I need not say how delighted I felt, not having the least idea of meeting any of my countrymen so far from Hindustan." The 11th of August, the day fixed for the prorogation of Parliament by the Queen, now arrived; and the khan "accompanied some gentlemen in a carriage to see the procession, but it was with extreme difficulty that we got a place where we could see her Majesty pass; at last, however, through the kindness of a mounted officer, we succeeded. First came the Shahzadehs, or princes of the blood, in carriages drawn by six horses, and then the wazirs (viziers) and nobles, and the ambassadors from foreign states, in vehicles, some with six, and some with four horses. When all these had passed, there came the Queen herself in a golden carriage, drawn by eight magnificent steeds; on her right was Prince Arleta, and opposite her was Lord Melbourne, the grand wazir, (prime minister.) The carriage was preceded by men who, I was surprised to observe, were dressed in the Hindustani fashion, in red and gold, with broad sleeves.2 But those nearest her Majesty, strange to say, wore almost exactly the costume of Hindustan, and to these my eyes were [pg 565] immediately directed; and I felt so delighted to see my own countrymen advanced to the honour of forming the body-guard of the sovereign, that I could scarcely believe the evidence of my senses, when I perceived on closer inspection, by their complexions, that they were English. Still I could not (nor can I even now) understand the reason of their adopting the Hindustani dress—though I was told on enquiry, that it was the ancient costume of the guard called yeomen." ...

"As the Queen approached the people took off their hats, nor was I less astonished3 when I heard them begin to shout hurra! hurra! as she passed; which in their language seems to imply approbation. When her Majesty turned towards our carriage, I immediately made a salaam after the manner of my own country, which she graciously acknowledged, seeing, no doubt, that I was a native of a strange land!"

This fancied metamorphosis of the sturdy beef-eaters with their partisans, whose costume has never been altered since the days of Henry VII., into Hindustani peons and chuprassees, seems to show that the enthusiasm of the Khan must have been considerably excited—and after this cruel disappointment he dismisses the remainder of the procession in a few words. To a native of India, indeed, accustomed to see every petty rajah or nawab holding a few square miles of territory as the tenant of the Company, surrounded on state occasions by a crowd of the picturesque irregular cavalry of the East, and with a Suwarree or cavalcade of led horses, gayly caparisoned elephants, flaunting banners, and martial music, the amount of military display in attendance on the Queen of Great Britain must naturally have appeared inconsiderable—"The escort consisted of only some two hundred horsemen, but these were cased in steel and leather from head to foot, and their black horses were by far the finest I have yet seen in this country. But though the multitudes of people were immense, yet the procession tell much short of what I had expected from the monarch of so great and powerful a nation! I returned home, however, much gratified by the sights I had seen to-day."

The sight of this ceremony naturally leads to a digression on the origin and constitution of the English parliament, and its division into the two houses of Lords and Commons. The events leading to these institutions, and the antecedent civil wars between the king and the barons, in the reign of Henry III. and Edward I., are given by the Khan, on the whole, with great accuracy—probably from the information of his English friends since the knowledge of the ancient history and institutions of the country, which he displays both here and in other parts of his narrative, can scarcely have been acquired through the medium of a native education in Hindustan. The deductions which he draws, however, from this historical summary, are somewhat curious; since he assumes that the power of the crown, though limited in appearance by the concessions then made, and the legislative functions vested in parliament, was in truth only strengthened, and rendered more securely despotic:—"But this is entirely lost sight of by the people, who, even at the present day, imagine that the parliament is all-powerful, and the sovereign powerless. But I must be allowed to say, that those ancient monarchs acted wisely, and the result of their policy has not been sufficiently perceived.... For when parliament was constituted, the power of retaining armed vassals and servants, which the barons had enjoyed for so long a period, was abolished, and has never been resumed even by princes of the blood; so that they could no longer resist the authority of the king, who alone had the privilege of raising and maintaining troops—a right never conceded to parliament. Besides this the powers of life and death, and of declaring war, were identified with the person of the sovereign; and with respect to the latter, it is never, until it has been decided upon, even intimated to the parliament, which [pg 566] possesses only the power of collecting the taxes, from which the expenses of the war the king may enter into must be paid. The possession, therefore, of these two rights by the king, is equivalent to the tenure of absolute power." The possibility of the supplies being refused by a refractory House of Commons, seems either not to have occurred to the khan, or to have escaped his recollection at the moment of his penning this sentence; and though he subsequently alludes to the responsibility of ministers, he never seems to have comprehended the nature and extent of the control exercised by parliament over the finances of the nation, so fully as the Persian princes, who tell us, in their quaint phraseology, that "if the expenses that were made should be agreeable to the Commons, well and good—if not, the vizirs must stand the consequences; and every person who has given ten tomâns of the revenue, has a right to rise up in the House of Commons, and seize the vizir of the treasury by the collar, saying, 'What have you done with my money?'"—a mode of putting to the question which, if now and then practically adopted by some hard-fisted son of the soil, we have no doubt would operate as a most salutary check on the vagaries of Chancellors of the Exchequer.

It is strange that the Khan should not, in this case, perceive the fallacy of his own argument, or see that the power of the sword must always virtually rest with the holder of the purse; since immediately afterwards, after enlarging on the enormous amount of taxes levied in England, the oppressive nature of some of them, especially the window-tax, "for the light of heaven is God's gift to mankind," he proceeds—"In other countries it would perhaps cost the king, who imposed such taxes, his head; but here the blame is laid on the House of Commons, without any one dreaming of censuring the sovereign, in whose name they are levied, and for whose use they are applied;" citing as a proof of this the ease with which the insurrection of Wat Tyler and his followers, against the capitation tax, was suppressed by the promise of the king to redress their grievances. The subject of English taxation, indeed, both from the amount levied, and the acquiescence of the people in such unheard-of burdens, seems to have utterly bewildered the khan's comprehension.4 "All classes, from the noble to the peasant, are alike oppressed; yet it is amusing to hear them expatiate on the institutions of their country, fancying it the freest and themselves the least oppressed of any people on earth! They are constantly talking of the tyranny and despotism of Oriental governments, without having set foot in any of those regions, or knowing any thing about the matter, except what they have gleaned from the imperfect accounts of superficial travellers—deploring the state of Turkey, Persia, and other Mahommedan countries, and calling their inhabitants slaves, when, if the truth were known, there is not a single kingdom of Islam, the people of which would submit to what the English suffer, or pay one-tenth of the taxes exacted from them."

Relieved, it is to be hoped, by this tirade against the ignominious submission of the Franks to taxation, [pg 567] the Khan resumes the enumeration of the endless catalogue of wonders which the sights of London presented to him. On visiting the Polytechnic Institution—"which means, I understand, a place in which specimens of every science and art are to be seen in some mode or other, there being no science or art of any other country unknown here"—he briefly enumerates the oxyhydrogen microscope, "by which water was shown so full of little animals, nay, even monsters, as to make one shudder at the thought of swallowing a drop"—the orrery, the daguerreotype, and the diving-bell, (in which he had the courage to descend,) as the objects principally deserving notice, "since it would require several months, if not years, to give that attention to each specimen of human industry which it demands, in order thoroughly to understand it." The effects of the electrical machine, indeed, "by which fire was made to pass through the body of a man, and out of the finger-ends of his right hand, without his being in any way affected by it, though a piece of cloth, placed close to this right hand, was actually ignited," seem to have excited considerable astonishment in his mind; but it does not appear that his curiosity led him to make any attempt in investigating the hidden causes of these mysterious phenomena. His apathy in this respect presents a strong contrast with the minute and elaborate description of the same objects, the mode of their construction, and the uses to which they may be applied, given in the journal of the two Parsees, Nowrojee and Merwanjee. "To us," say they, "brought up in India for scientific pursuits, and longing ardently to acquire practical information connected with modern improvements, more particularly with naval architecture, steam-engines, steam-boats, and steam navigation, these two galleries of practical science (the Adelaide and Polytechnic) seemed to embrace all that we had come over to England to make ourselves acquainted with; and it was with gratitude to the original projectors of these institutions that we gazed on the soul-exciting scene before us. We thought of the enchantments related in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, and they faded away into nothingness compared with what we then saw."

But however widely apart the nonchalance of the Moslem, and the matter-of-fact diligence of the Parsee,5 may have placed them respectively in their appreciation of the scientific marvels of the Polytechnic Institution, they meet on common ground in their admiration of the wax-work exhibition of Madame Tussaud; though the Khan, who was not sufficiently acquainted with the features of our public characters to judge of the likenesses, expresses his commendation only in general terms. But the Parsees, with the naïveté of children, break out into absolute raptures at recognising the features of Lord Melbourne, "a good-humoured looking, kind English gentleman, with a countenance, perhaps, representing frankness and candour more than dignity"—William IV., "looking the very picture of good-nature"—the Duke of Wellington, Lord Brougham, &c.; "indeed, we know of no exhibition (where a person has read about people) that will afford him so much pleasure, always recollecting that it is only one shilling, and for this you may stop just as long as you are inclined." Their remarks, on seeing the effigy of Voltaire, are too curious to be omitted. "He is an extraordinary-looking man, dressed so oddly [pg 568] too, with little pinched-up features, and his hair so curiously arranged. We looked much at him, thinking he must have had much courage, and have thought himself quite right in his belief, to have stood opposed to all the existing religious systems of his native land. He, however, and those who thought differently from him, have long since in another world experienced, that if men only act up to what they believe to be right, the Maker of the Deist, the Christian, and the Parsee, will receive them into his presence; and that it is the professor of religion, who is nothing but a professor, let his creed be what it may, that will meet with the greatest punishment from Him that ruleth all things." But before we quit the subject of this attractive exhibition, we must not omit to mention an adventure of the Persian princes, two of whom, having paid a previous visit, persuaded the third brother, on his accompanying them thither, that he was in truth in the royal palace, (whither he had been invited for one of the Queen's parties on the same evening.) and in the presence of the court and royal family! The embarrassment of poor Najef-Kooli at the morne silence preserved, which he interpreted as a sign of displeasure, is amusingly described, till, on touching one of the figures, "he fell down, and I observed that he was dead; and my brothers and Fraser Sahib laughed loudly, and said, 'These people are not dead but are all of them artificial figures of white wax.' Verily, no one would ever have thought that they were manufactured by men!"

A few days after his visit to Madame Tussaud, we find the Khan making an excursion by the railroad to Southampton, in order to be present at a banquet given on board the Oriental steamer, by the directors of the Oriental Steam Navigation Company, from whom he had received a special invitation. With the exception of the brief transit from Blackwall to London on his arrival, this was his first trip by rail, but, as his place was in one of the close first-class carriages, he saw nothing of the machinery by which the motion was effected, "though such was the rapidity of the vehicles, that I could distinguish nothing but an expanse of green all round, nor could I perceive even the trunks of the trees. Every now and then we were carried through dark caverns, where we could not see each others' faces; and sometimes we met other vehicles coming in the opposite direction, which occasioned me no small alarm, as I certainly thought we should have been dashed to pieces, from the fearful velocity with which both were running. We reached Southampton, a distance of seventy-eight miles, in three hours; and what most surprised me was, being seriously told on our arrival, that we had been unusually long on our way. I was told that this iron road, from London to Southampton, cost six crores of rupees, (L.6,000,000.)" The town of Southampton is only briefly noticed as well built, populous, and flourishing; but he had no time to visit the beautiful scenery of the environs, as the entertainment took place the following afternoon in the cabin of the Oriental, "which is a very large vessel, well constructed, and in admirable order, and is intended to carry the dak (mail) to India, which is sent by the way of Sikanderîyah, (Alexandria.)" Our friend the khan, however, must have been always rather out of his element at a feast; unlike his countryman, Abu-Talib—who speedily became reconciled to the forbidden viands and wines of the Franks, and even carried his laxity so far as to express a hope, rather than a belief, that the brushes which he used were made of horsehair, and not of the bristles of the unclean beast—Kerim Khan appears (as we have seen on a previous occasion) never to have relaxed the austerity of the religious scruples which the Indian Moslems have borrowed from the Hindus, so far as to partake of food not prepared by his own people; and on the present occasion, in spite of the instances of his hosts, his simple repast consisted wholly of fruit. The cheers which followed on the health of the Queen being given, appeared to him, like those which hailed her passage at the prorogation of Parliament, a most incomprehensible and somewhat indecorous proceeding; his own health was also drunk as a lion, but "not being able to reply from my ignorance of the language, a gentleman of my acquaintance thanked them in my name; while I also stood up and made a salaam, as [pg 569] much as to say that I highly appreciated the honour done me." While the festivities were proceeding in the cabin, the steamer was got underway and making the circuit of the Isle of Wight; and on landing again at Southampton, "I was surrounded by a concourse of people, who had collected to look at me, imagining, no doubt, that I was some strange creature, the like of which they had never seen before." Whether from want of time or of curiosity, he left Portsmouth, and all the wonders of its arsenal and dockyard, unvisited, and after again going on board the Oriental the next day, to take leave of the captain and officers, returned in the afternoon by the railway to London.

He was next shown over the Bank of England, his remarks on which are devoid of interest, and he visited the Paddington terminus of the Great Western Railway, in the hope of gaining a more accurate idea of the nature of the locomotive machinery, the astonishing powers of which he had witnessed in his journey to Southampton. But mechanics were not the Khan's forte; and, dismissing the subject with the remark, that "it is so extremely complicated and difficult that a stranger cannot possibly understand it,"6 he returns at once to the haunts of fashion, Hyde Park and the Opera. Hitherto the khan had been unaccountably silent on the subject of the "Frank moons, brilliant as the sun," (as the English ladies are called by the Persian princes, who, from the first, lose no opportunity of commemorating their beauty in the most rapturous strains of Oriental hyperbole;) but his enthusiasm is effectually kindled by the blaze of charms which meets his eye in the "bazar of beauty and garden of pleasure," as he terms the Park, his account of which he sums up by declaring, that, "were the inhabitants of the celestial regions to descend, they would at one glance forget the wonders of the heavens at the sight of so many bright eyes and beautiful faces! what, therefore, remains for mortals to do?" The Opera is, he says, "the principal tomashagah" (place of show or entertainment) in London, and best decorated and lighted;" though he does not go the length of affirming, as stated in the account given by the Persian princes, that "before each box are forty chandeliers of cut glass, and each has fifty lights!"—"I could not," continues the khan, "understand the subject of the performances—it was all singing, accompanied with various action, as if some story were meant to be related; but I was also told that the language was different from English, and that the majority of those present understood it no more than myself." The scanty drapery and liberal displays of the figurantes at first startled him a little; but "the beauty of those peris was such as might have enslaved the heart of Ferhad himself;" and he soon learned to view all their pirouettes and tours-de-force with the well-bred nonchalance of a man who had witnessed in his own country exhibitions nearly as singular in their way "though the style of dancing here was of course entirely different from what we see in India." The impression made by the sight of the ballet on the Parsees, who invariably reduce every thing to pounds, shillings, and pence, took a different form; and they express unbounded astonishment, on being told that Taglioni was paid a hundred and fifty guineas a-night, "that such a sum should be paid to a woman to stand a long time like a goose on one leg, then to throw one leg straight out, twirl round three or four times with the leg thus extended, curtsy so low as nearly to seat herself on the stage, and spring from one side of the stage to another, all which jumping about did not occupy an hour!"

Astley's (which the Persian princes call the "opera of the horse") was the Khan's next resort; and as the feats of horsemanship there exhibited did not require any great proficiency in the English language to render [pg 570]them intelligible, he appears to have been highly amused and gratified, and gives a long description of all he saw there, which would not present much of novelty to our readers. He was also taken by some of his acquaintance to see the industrious fleas in the Strand; but this exhibition, which accorded unbounded gratification to the grandsons of Futteh Ali Shah, seems to have been looked upon by the khan rather with contempt, as a marvellous piece of absurdity. "Would any one believe that such a sight as this could possibly be witnessed any where in the world? but, having personally seen it, I cannot altogether pass it over." But the then unfinished Thames Tunnel, which he had the advantage of visiting in company with Mr Brunel, appears to have impressed his mind more than any other public work which he had seen; and his remarks upon it show, that he was at pains to make himself accurately acquainted with the nature and extent of the undertaking, the details of which he gives with great exactness. "But," he concludes, "it is impossible to convey in words an adequate idea of the labour that must have been spent upon this work, the like of which was never before attempted in any country. The emperors of Hindustan, who were monarchs of so many extensive provinces, and possessed such unlimited power and countless treasures, desired a bridge to be thrown across the Jumna to connect Delhi with the city of Shahdarah—yet an architect could not be found in all India who could carry this design into execution. Yet here a few merchants formed a company, and have executed a work infinitely transcending that of the most elaborate bridge ever built. In the first instance, as I was given to understand, they applied to Government for leave to construct a bridge at the same spot, but as it was objected that this would impede the navigation of the river, they formed the design, at the suggestion of the talented engineer above mentioned, of actually making their way across the river underground, and commenced this great work in spite of the general opinion of the improbability of success."7

"Some days after this," continues the khan, "I paid a visit to the Tower, which is the fortress of London, placed close to the Thames on its left bank. Within the ramparts is another fort of white stone, which in past times was frequently occupied by the sovereigns of the country. It is said to have been constructed by King William, surnamed Muzuffer, or the Conqueror; others are of opinion that it was founded by Keesar the Roman emperor; but God alone can solve this doubt. In times past it was also used as a state prison for persons of rank, and was the scene of the execution of most of the princes and nobles whose fate is recorded in the chronicles of England. They still show the block on which the decapitations took place." Among the trophies in the armoury, he particularizes the gun and girdle of Tippoo Sultan, "which seemed to be taken great care of, and were preserved under a glass case;" but the horse armoury and the regalia, usually the most attractive part of the exhibition to strangers, are passed over with but slight notice, though, from the Parsees, the sight of the equestrian figures in the former, draws the only allusion which escapes them throughout their narrative to the fallen glories of their race. "The representations of some of these monarchs was in the very armour they wore; and we were here very forcibly put in mind of Persia, once our own country, where this iron clothing was anciently used; but, alas! we have no remains of these things; all we know of them is from historical works." The crown jewels might have been supposed to present to a native of India an object of peculiar interest; but the khan remarks only the great ruby, "which is so brilliant that (it is said) one would be able to read by its light by placing it on a book in the dark. I made some enquiries respecting its value, but could [pg 571] not get no satisfactory answer, as they said no jeweller could ascertain it."

It would appear that the Khan must now have been for several months resident in London, (for he takes no note of the lapse of time,) since we next find him a spectator of the pomps and pageants of Lord Mayor's day. He gives no account, however, of the procession, but contents himself with informing his readers that the Lord Mayor (except in his tenure of office being annual instead of for life) is the same as a "patel" or "mukaddam" in the East: adding that "he is the only person in England, except the sovereign, who is allowed to have a train of armed followers in attendance on him." It is not very evident whether the idea of civic army was suggested to the mind of the khan simply by the sight of the men in armour in the procession, or whether dark rumours had reached his ear touching the prowess of the Lumber troopers, and other warlike bodies which march under the standard of the Lord Mayor; but certain it is that this most pacific of potentates cannot fairly be charged with abusing the formidable privilege thus attributed to him—the city sword never having been unsheathed in mortal fray, as far as our researches extend, since Wat Tyler fell before the doughty arm of Sir William of Walworth. On returning from the show, the khan was taken to see Newgate, with the gloomy aspect of which, and the silent and strict discipline enforced among the prisoners, he was deeply impressed; "to these poor wretches the gate of mercy is indeed shut, and that of hardship and oppression thrown open." His sympathies were still more strongly awakened on discovering among those unfortunate creatures an Indian Moslem, who proved, on enquiry, to be a Lascar sailor, imprisoned for selling smuggled cigars—"and, in my ignorance of the laws and customs of the country, I was anxious to procure his liberation by paying the fine; but my friends told me that this was absolutely impossible, and that he must remain the full time in prison. So we could only thank the governor for his attention, and then took our departure."

Following the steps of the Khan from grave to gay, in his desultory course through the endless varieties of "Life in London," we are at once transported from the dismal cells of Newgate to the fancy-dress ball at Guildhall for the aid of the refugee Poles. This seems to have been the first scene of the kind at which Kerim Khan had been present since his arrival in England; and though he was somewhat scandalized at perceiving that some of those in male attire were evidently ladies, he describes with considerable effect "the infinite variety of costumes, all very different from those of England, as if each country had contributed its peculiar garb," the brilliant lighting and costly decoration of the rooms, and the picturesque grouping of the vast assemblage. But his first impressions on English dancing are perfectly unique in their way, and we can only do justice to them by quoting them at length. "It is so entirely unlike any thing we ever heard of in Hindustan, that I cannot refrain from giving a slight sketch of what I saw. In the first place, the company could not have been fewer than 1500 or 2000, of the highest classes of society, the ministers, the nobles, and the wealthy, with their wives and daughters. Several hundreds stood up, every gentleman with a lady; and they advanced and retired several times, holding each other by the hand, to the sound of the music: at last the circle they had formed broke up, some running off to the right, and some to the left—then a gentleman, leaving his lady, would strike out obliquely across the room, sometimes making direct for another lady at a distance, and sometimes stooping and flourishing with his legs as he went along: when he approached her, he made a sort of salaam, and then retreated. Another would go softly up to a lady, and then suddenly seizing her by the waist, would turn and twist her round and round some fifty times till both were evidently giddy with the motion: this was sometimes performed by a few chosen dancers, and sometimes by several hundreds at once—all embracing each other in what, to our notions, would seem rather an odd sort of way, and whirling round and round; and though their feet appeared constantly coming in contact with each other, a collision never took place. And those who met in this affectionate manner were, as I was told, for the most part perfect strangers to each [pg 572] other, which to me was incomprehensible! Several ladies asked me to dance with them, but I excused myself by saying that their dancing was so superlatively beautiful that it was sufficient to admire it, and that I was afraid to try—'besides,' said I, 'it is contrary to our customs in Hindustan.' To which they replied that India was far off, and no one could see me. 'But,' said I 'there are people who put every thing in the newspapers, and if my friends heard of it I should lose caste.' The ladies smiled; and after this I was not asked to dance." The Persian princes, when in a similar dilemma, evaded the request by "taking oath that we did not know how, and that our mother did not care to teach us; and thank God," concludes Najef-Kooli with heartfelt gratitude, "we never did dance. God protect the faithful from it!" Independent of the above recorded opinions on the singularity of quadrilles and waltzes, the khan takes this occasion to enter into a disquisition on the inconsistency (doubly incongruous to an Oriental eye) of the ladies having their necks, arms, and shoulders uncovered, while the men are clothed up to the chin, "and not even their hands are allowed to be seen bare," and returned from the ball, no doubt, more lost than ever in wonder at the strange extravagances of the Feringhis.

These opinions are repeated, shortly after, on the occasion of the Khan's being present at an evening party at Clapham, which, as the invitation was for the country, he seems to have expected to find quite a different sort of affair from the entertainments at which he had already assisted in London. He was greatly surprised, therefore, to find the assemblage, on his arrival, engaged in the everlasting toil of dancing, "the men, as usual in this country, clad all in dismal black, and the ladies sparkling in handsome costumes of bright and variegated colours—another singular custom, of which I never could learn or guess the reason." But, however great a bore the sight of quadrilles may have been to the khan, ample amends were made to him on this occasion by the musical performances, with which several of the ladies ("though they all at first refused, evidently from modesty") gratified the company in the intervals of the dance, and at which he expresses unbounded delight; but this does not prevent his again launching out into a tirade against the unseemly methods, as they appear to him, used by the English to signify applause or approbation. "The strangest custom is, that the audience clapped their hands in token of satisfaction whenever any of the ladies concluded their performance.... The only occasion on which such an exhibition of feeling is to be witnessed in Hindustan, is when some offender is put upon a donkey, with a string of old shoes round his neck, and his face blackened and turned to the tail, and in this plight expelled from the city. Then only do the boys—men never—clap their hands and cry hurra! hurra! Thus, that which in one country implies shame and disgrace, is resorted to in another to express the highest degree of approbation!"

Passing over the Khan's visits to the Athenæum Club-house, to Buckingham Palace, &c., his remarks on which contain nothing noticeable, except his mistaking some of the ancient portraits in the palace, from their long beards and rosaries, for the representations of Moslem divines, we find him at last fairly in the midst of an English winter, and an eyewitness of a spectacle of all others the most marvellous and incredible to a Hindustani, and which Mirza Abu-Talib, while describing it, frankly confesses he cannot expect his countrymen to believe—the ice and the skaters in the Regent's Park.8 "What I had previously seen in the summer as water, with birds swimming and boats rowing upon it, was now transformed into an immense sheet of ice as hard as rock, on which thousands of persons, men, women, and children, were actually walking, running, and figuring in the most extraordinary manner. I saw men pass with the rapidity of an arrow, turning, wheeling, retrograding, and describing figures with surprising agility, sometimes on both, but more frequently [pg 573] on only one leg; they had all a piece of steel, turned up in front somewhat in the manner of our slippers, fastened to their shoes, by means of which they propelled themselves as I have described. After much persuasion, I went on the ice myself; though not without considerable fear; yet such a favourite sport is this with the English, and so infatuated are some of these ice players, that nothing will deter them from venturing on those places which are marked as dangerous; and thus many perish, like moths that sacrifice themselves in the candle flame. They have, therefore, parties of men, with their dresses stuffed with air-cushions, whose duty it is to watch on the ice, ready to plunge in whenever it breaks and any one is immersed."

The national theatres were now open for the winter, and the Khan paid a visit to Covent-Garden; but he gives no particulars of the performances which he witnessed, though he was greatly struck by the splendour of the lighting and decoration, and still more by the almost magical celerity with which the changes of scenery were effected. The scanty notice taken of these matters, may perhaps be partly accounted for by the extraordinary fascination produced in the mind of the khan by the charms of one of the houris on the stage—whose name, though he does not mention it, our readers will probably have no difficulty in supplying; and it may be doubted whether the warmest panegyrics of the most ardent of her innumerable admirers ever soared quite so high a pitch into the regions of hyperbole as the Oriental flights of the khan, who exhausts, in the praise of her attractions, all the imagery of the eastern poets. She is described as "cypress-waisted, rose-cheeked, fragrant as amber, and sweet as sugar, a stealer of hearts, who unites the magic of talismans with loveliness transcending that of the peris! When she bent the soft arch of her eyebrows, she pierced the heart through and through with the arrows of her eyelashes; and when she smiled, the heart of the most rigid ascetic was intoxicated! She was gorgeously arrayed, and covered all over with jewels—and the tout-ensemble of her appearance was such as would have riveted the gaze of the inhabitants of the spheres—what, then, more can a mere mortal say?"9

At Rundell and Bridge's, to a view of the glittering treasures of whose establishment the Khan was next introduced, he was not less astonished at the incalculable value of the articles he saw exhibited, "where the precious metals and magnificent jewellery of all sorts were scattered about as profusely as so many sorts of fruit in our Delhi bazars"—as surprised at being informed that many of the nobles, and even of the royal family, here deposited their plate and jewels for safe custody; and that, "though all these valuables were left without a guard of soldiers, this shop has never been known to be attacked and plundered by robbers and thieves, who not unfrequently break into other houses.' Among the models of celebrated gems here shown him, he particularizes a jewel which, for ages, has been the wonder of the East—"the famous Koh-in-Noor, (Mountain of Light,) now in the possession of the ruler of Lahore and well known to have been forcibly seized by him from Shah-Shoojah, king of Cabul, when a fugitive in the Panjab;" as well as another, (the Pigot diamond,) "now belonging to Mohammed Ali of Egypt." The Adelaide Gallery of Science is passed over with the remark, that it is, on the whole, inferior to the Polytechnic, which he had previously visited. But the Diorama, with the views of Damascus, Acre, &c., seems to have afforded him great gratification, as well as to have perplexed him not a little, by the apparent accuracy of its perspective. "Some objects delineated actually appeared to be several kos (a measure of about two miles) from us, others nearer, and some quite close. I marvelled how such things could be brought together before me; yet, on stretching out the hand, the canvass on which all this was represented might be touched." But all the wonders [pg 574] of the pictorial art, "which the Europeans have brought to unheard of perfection," fade before the amazement of the khan, on being informed that it was possible for him to have a transcript of his countenance taken, without the use of pencil or brush, by the mere agency of the sun's rays; and even after having verified the truth of this apparently incredible statement by actual experiment in his own person, he still seems to have entertained considerable misgivings as to the legitimacy of the process—"How it was effected was indeed incomprehensible! Here is an art, which, if it be not magic, it is difficult to conceive what else it can be!"

The spring was now advancing; "and one day," says the Khan, "not being Sunday, I was surprised to observe all the shops shut, and the courts of justice, as well as the merchants' and public offices, all closed. On enquiry, I was told this was a great day, being the day on which the Jews crucified the Lord Aysa, (Jesus,) and that a general fast is, on this day, observed in Europe, when the people abstain from flesh, eating only fish, and a particular kind of bread marked with a cross. This custom is, however, now confined to the ancient sect of Christians called Catholics for the real English never observe fasts of any kind on any occasion whatever; they eat, nevertheless, both the crossed bread and the fish. This fast is to the Europeans what the Mohurrum10 is to us; only here no particular signs of sorrow are to be seen on account of the death of Aysa;—all eat, drink, and enjoy themselves on this day as much as any other; or, from what I saw, I should say they rather indulged themselves a little more than usual. Another remarkable thing is, that this fast does not always happen at the same date, being regulated by the appearance of the moon; while, in every thing else, the English reckon by the solar year."

We shall offer no comment, as we fear we can offer no contradiction, on the Khan's account of the singular method of fasting observed in England, by eating salt fish and cross-buns in addition to the usual viands—but digressing without an interval from fasts to feasts, we next find him a guest at a splendid banquet, given by the Lord Mayor. Though Mirza Abu-Talib, at the beginning of the present century, was present at the feast given to Lord Nelson during the mayoralty of Alderman Coombe, the description of a civic entertainment, as it appeared to an Oriental, must always be a curious morceau; and doubly so in the present instance, as given by a spectator to whom it was as the feast of the Barmecide—since Kerim Khan, unlike his countryman, the Mirza, religiously abstained throughout from the forbidden dainties of the Franks, and sat like an anchorite at the board of plenty. To this concentration of his faculties in the task of observing, we probably owe the minute detail he has given us of the festive scene before him, which we must quote, as a companion sketch of Feringhi manners to the previously cited account of the ball at Guildhall:—"At length dinner was announced: and all rose, and led by the queen of the city, (the lady mayoress,) withdrew to another room, where the table was laid out in the most costly manner, being loaded with dishes, principally of silver and gold, and covered with sar-poshes, (lids or covers,) some of which were of immense size, like little boats. When the servants removed the sar-poshes, fishes and soup of every sort were presented to view: some of the former, I was told, brought as rarities from distant seas, and at great expense. Before every man of rank there was an immense dish, which it is his duty to cut up and distribute, putting on each plate about sufficient for a baby to eat. I turned to a friend and enquired why the guests were helped so sparingly? 'It is customary,' said he, 'to serve guests in this way.' 'But why not give them enough?' rejoined I. 'You will soon see,' replied he, 'that they will all have enough.'11

"Soon after, all the dishes, spoons, [pg 575] &c., were removed by the servants. I thought the dinner was over, and was preparing to go, not a little astonished at such scanty hospitality, when other dishes were brought in, filled with choice viands of every kind—bears from Russia and Germany—hogs from Ireland—fowls and geese from France—turtle from the Mediterranean(?)—venison from the parks of the nobility—some in joints, some quite whole, with their limbs and feet entire. Operations now recommenced, the carvers doling out the same small quantities as before: but though many of the gentlemen present were anxious to prevail on me to partake, and recommended particular dishes, one as being 'a favourite of the King of the French'—another as particularly rare and exquisite, I could not be prevailed upon to partake of any. Thus did innumerable dishes pour and disappear again, the servants constantly changing the plates of the guests: till I began to form quite a different idea of the appetites of the guests, and the hospitality of the Lord Mayor, on which I had thought that a reflection was thrown by the small portions sent to them. I now saw that many of them, besides being served pretty often, helped themselves freely to the dishes before them—indeed, their appetite was wonderfully good: some, doubtless, thinking that such an opportunity would not often recur. Nor did they forget the juice of the grape—the bottles which were opened would have filled a ship, and the noise of the champagne completely drowned the music. One would have thought that, after all this, no men could eat more: but now the fruits, sweetmeats ices, and jellies made their appearance, pine-apples, grapes, oranges, apples, pears, mulberries, and confectionaries of such strange shapes that I can give no name to them—and before each guest were placed small plates, with peculiarly shaped knives of gold and silver. Of this part of the banquet I had the pleasure of partaking, in common with the selfsame gentlemen who had done such honour to the thousand dishes above mentioned, and who now distinguished themselves in the same manner on the dessert. The price of some of the fruit was almost incredible; the reason of which is, that in this country it can only be reared in glass-houses artificially heated ... thus the pine-apples, which are by no means fine, cost each twenty rupees, (L.2,) which in India would be bought for two pice—thus being 640 times dearer than in our country. Thus in England the poorer classes cannot afford to eat fruit, whereas in all other countries they can get fruit when grain is too dear.

"The guests continued at table till late, during which time several gentlemen rose and spoke: but, from my imperfect knowledge of the language, I could not comprehend their purports beyond the compliments which they passed on each other, and the evident attacks which they made on their political opponents. I at last retired with some others to another room, where many of the guests were dancing—coffee and tea were here taken about, just as sherbets are with us in the Mohurrum. I must remark that the servants were gorgeously dressed, being covered with gold like the generals of the army; but the most extraordinary thing about them was, there having their heads covered with ashes, like the Hindoo fakirs-a custom indicative with us of sorrow and repentance. I hardly could help laughing when I looked at them; but a friend kindly explained to me that, in England, none but the servants of the great are privileged to have ashes strewed on their heads, and that for this distinction their masters actually pay a tax to government! 'Is this enjoined by their religion?' said I. 'Oh no!' he replied. 'Then,' said I, 'since your religion does not require it, and it appears, to our notions at least, rather a mark of grief and mourning, where is the use of paying a tax for it?' 'it is the custom of the country.' said he again. After this I returned hone, musing deeply on what I had seen."

With this inimitable sketch, we take leave of the Khan for the present, shortly to return to his ideas of men and manners in Feringhistan.

[pg 576]






If, as Wordsworth, that arch-priest of poesy, expresses it, I could place the gentle reader "atween the downy wings" of some beneficent and willing angel, in one brief instant of time should he be deposited on the little hill that first discovers the smiling, quiet village of Ellendale. He would imbibe of beauty more in a breath, a glance, than I can pour into his soul in pages of spiritless delineation. I cannot charm the eye with that great stream of liquid light, which, during the long and lingering summer's day, issues from the valley like an eternal joy; I cannot fascinate his ear, and soothe his spirit with nature's deep mysterious sounds, so delicately slender and so soft, that silence fails to be disturbed, but rather grows more mellow and profound; I cannot with a stroke present the teeming hills, flushed with their weight of corn, that now stands stately in the suspended air—now, touched by the lightest wind that ever blew, flows like a golden river. As difficult is it to convey a just impression of a peaceful spot, whose praise consists—so to speak—rather in privatives than positives; whose privilege it is to be still free, tranquil, and unmolested, in a land and in an age of ceaseless agitation, in which the rigorous virtues of our fathers are forgotten, and the land's integrity threatens to give way. If Ellendale be not the most populous and active village, it is certainly the most rustic and winning that I have ever beheld in our once merry England. It is secreted from the world, and lies snugly and closely at the foot of massive hills, which nature seems to have erected solely for its covert and protection. It is situated about four miles from the high-road, whence you obtain at intervals short glimpses as it rears its tiny head into the open day. If the traveller be fresh from an overworked and overworking city, he looks upon what he deems a sheer impossibility—the residence of men living cheerfully and happily in solitude intense. The employment of the villagers is in the silent fields, from day to day, from year to year. Their life has no variety, the general heart has no desire for change. It was so with their fathers—so shall it be with their own children, if the too selfish world will let them. The inhabitants are almost to a man poor, humble, and contented. The cottages are clean and neat, but lowly, like the owners. One house, and one alone, is distinguished from the rest; it is aged, and ivy as venerable as itself clings closer there as years roll over it. It has a lawn, an antique door and porch, narrow windows with the smallest diamond panes, and has been called since its first stone was laid, the Vicarage. Forget the village, courteous reader, and cross with me the hospitable threshold, for here our history begins—and ends.

The season is summer—the time evening—the hour that of sunset. The big sun goes down like a ball of fire, crimson-red, leaving at the horizon's verge his splendid escort—a host of clouds glittering with a hundred hues, the gorgeous livery of him they have attended. A borrowed glory steals from them into an open casement, and, passing over, illumines for a time a face pale even to sadness. It is a woman's. She is dressed in deepest mourning, and is—Heaven be with her in her solitariness!—a recent widow. She is thirty years of age at least, and is still adorned with half the beauty of her youth, not injured by the hand of suffering and time. The expression of the countenance is one of calmness, or, it may be, resignation—for the tranquility has evidently been taught and learnt as the world's lesson, and is not native there. Near her sits a man benign of aspect, advanced in years; his hair and eyebrows white from the winter's fall; his eye and mien telling of decline, easy and placid as the close of softest music, and nothing harsher. Care and trouble he has never known; he is too old to learn them now. His dress is very plain. The room in which he sits is devoid of ornament, and furnished like the study of a simple [pg 577] scholar. Books take up the walls. A table and two chairs are the amount of furniture. The Vicar has a letter in his hand, which he peruses with attention; and having finished, he turns with a bright smile towards his guest, and tells her she is welcome.

"You are very welcome, madam, for your own sake, and for the sake of him whose signature is here; although, I fear, you will scarcely find amongst us the happiness you look for. There will be time, however, to consider"—

"I have considered, sir;" answered the lady, somewhat mournfully. "My resolution has not been formed in haste, believe me."

The vicar paused, and reperused the letter.

"You are probably aware, madam, that my brother has communicated"—

"Every thing. Your people are poor and ignorant. I can be useful to them. Reduced as I am, I may afford them help. I may instruct the children—attend the sick—relieve the hungry. Can I do this?"

"Pardon me, dear lady. I am loth to repress the noble impulses by which you are actuated. It would be very wrong to deny the value and importance of such aid; but I must entreat you to remember your former life and habits. I fear this place is not what you expect it. In the midst of my people, and withdrawn from all society, I have accustomed myself to seek for consolation in the faithful discharge of my duties, and in communion with the chosen friends of my youth whom you see around me. You are not aware of what you undertake. There will be no companionship for you—no female friend—no friend but myself. Our villagers are labouring men and women—our population consists of such alone. Think what you have been, and what you must resign."

The lady sighed deeply, and answered—

"It is, Mr Littleton, just because I cannot forget what I have been, that I come here to make amends for past neglect and sinfulness. I have a debt there, sir"—and she pointed solemnly towards the sky—"which must be paid. I have been an unfaithful steward, and must be reconciled to my good master ere I die. You may trust me. You know my income and my means. It is trifling; comparatively speaking—nothing. Yet, less than half of it must suffice for my support. The rest is for your flock. You shall distribute it, and you shall teach me how to minister to their temporal necessities—how to labour for their eternal glory. The world and I have parted, and for ever."

"I will not oppose you further madam. You shall make the trial if you please, and yet"—the vicar hesitated.

"Pray speak, sir," said the lady.

"I was thinking of your accommodation. Here I could not well receive you—and I know no other house becoming"—

"Do not mock me, Mr Littleton. A room in the cot of your poorest parishioner is more than I deserve—more than the good fishermen of Galilee could sometimes find. Think of me, I beg, as I am—not as I have been."

As the lady spoke, a servant-maid entered the apartment with the supper-tray, which the good vicar had ordered shortly after the arrival of his guest. During the repast, it was arranged that the lady should pass the night in the cottage of John Humphrys, a man acknowledged to be the most industrious in the village, and who had become the especial favourite of the vicar, by marrying, as the latter jocosely termed it, into his family. John Humphrys' wife had been the vicar's housekeeper. The Reverend Hugh Littleton was a bachelor, and had always been most cautious and discreet. Although he had a bed to spare, he did not think of offering it to his handsome visitor; nor, and this is more remarkable, did he again that evening resume the subject of their previous conversation. He spoke of matters connected with the world, from which he had been separated for half a century, but from whose turmoil the lady had only a few weeks before disentangled herself. To a good churchman, the condition of the Church is always a subject of the deepest interest, as her prosperity is a source of gratitude and joy. Tidings of the movement which had recently taken place in the very heart of the Establishment had already reached his secluded parish, filling him with doubt and apprehension. He was glad [pg 578] to gain what further information his friendly visitor could afford him. We may conclude, from the observations of the vicar, that her communication was unsatisfactory.

"It is a cowardly thing, madam," said he, "to withdraw from a scene of contest in the hour of danger, and when all our dearest interests are at stake; and yet I do thank my God, from the bottom of my heart, that I am not an eyewitness to the dishonour and the shame which men are heaping on our blessed faith. Are we Christians? Do we come before the world as the messengers of glad tidings—of unity and peace? We profess to do it, whilst discord, enmity, hatred, and persecution are in our hearts and on our tongue. The atheist and the worldling live in harmony, whilst the children of Christ carry on their unholy warfare one against the other. Strange anomaly! Can we not call upon our people to love their God with all their hearts—and their neighbours as themselves? Can we not strive by our own good example to teach them how to do this? Would it not be more profitable and humane, than to disturb them with formalities that have no virtue in themselves—to distress them with useless controversies, that settle no one point, teach no one doctrine, but unsettle and unfix all the good that our simple creed had previously built up and made secure?"

"It is very true, sir;—and it is sweet to hear you talk so."

If the lady desired to hear more, it was unwise of her to speak so plainly. The vicar was unused to praise, and these few words effectually stopped him. He said no more. The lady remained silent for a minute or two, then rose and took her leave. The night was very fine, and the vicar's servant maid accompanied her to John Humphrys' door. Here she found a wholesome bed, but her pillow did not become a resting-place until she moistened it with tears—the bitterest that ever wrung a penitent and broken heart.



James Mildred was a noble-hearted gentleman. At the age of eighteen he quitted England to undertake an appointment in India, which he had obtained through the interest of his uncle, an East Indian Director. He remained abroad thirty years, and then returned, a stranger, to his native land, the owner of a noble fortune. His manners were simple and unassuming—his mind was masculine and well-informed—his generous soul manifest in every expression of his manly countenance. He had honourably acquired his wealth, and whilst he amassed, had been by no means greedy of his gains. He dealt out liberally. There were many reasons why James Mildred at the age of forty-eight returned to England. I shall state but one. He was still a bachelor. The historian at once absolves the gentler sex from any share of blame. It was not, in truth, their fault that he continued single. Many had done their utmost to remove this stigma from James Mildred's character; had they done less they might, possibly, have been more successful. Mildred had a full share of sensibility, and recoiled at the bare idea of being snared into a state of blessedness. The woman was not for him, who was willing to accept him only because his gold and he could not be separated. Neither was he ambitious to purchase the easy affection of the live commodity as it arrives in ships from England, with other articles of luxury and merchandize. After years of successful exertion, he yearned for the enjoyments of the domestic hearth, and for the home-happiness which an Englishman deserves, because he understands so well its value. Failing to obtain his wish in India, he journeyed homeward, sound in mind and body, and determined to improve the comfort and condition of both, by a union with amiability, loveliness, and virtue, if in one individual he could find them all combined, and finding, could secure them for himself. It might have been a year after his appearance in London, that he became acquainted with the family of [pg 579] Mr Graham, a lieutenant in the navy on half-pay, and the father of two children. He was a widower, and not affluent. His offspring were both daughters, and, at the time to which I allude, full grown, lovely women. Their mother had been a governess previously to her marriage, and her subsequent days had been profitably employed in the education of her daughters; in preparing them, in fact, for the condition of life into which they would inevitably fall, if they were still unmarried at the dissolution of their father. They were from infancy taught to expect their future means of living from their own honourable exertions, and they grew happier and better for the knowledge. Mildred had retired to a town on the sea-coast, in which this family resided; and, shortly after his arrival, he first beheld the elder of the lieutenant's children. She was then in her nineteenth year, a lovely, graceful, and accomplished creature. I cannot say that he was smitten at first sight, but it must have been soon afterwards; for the day succeeding that on which he met her, found him walking and chatting with her father, as familiarly as though they had been friends from infancy. Before a week was over, the lieutenant had dined three times with Mildred at his hotel, and had taken six pipes, and as many glasses of grog, in token of his fidelity and good fellowship. From being the host of Lieutenant Graham, it was an easy transition to become his guest. Mildred was taken to the mariner's cot, and from that hour his destiny was fixed. In Margaret Graham he found, or he believed he had, the being whom he had sought so long—the vision which had not, until now, been realized. Six months elapsed, and found the lover a constant visitor at the lieutenant's fireside. He had never spoken of his passion, nor did any of the household dream of what was passing in his heart, save Margaret, who could not fail to see that she possessed it wholly. His wealth was likewise still a secret, his position in society unknown. His liberal sentiments and unaffected demeanour had gained him the regard of the unsophisticated parent—his modest bearing and politeness were not less grateful to the sisters. Mildred had resolved a hundred times to reveal to Margaret the depth and earnestness of his attachment, and to place his heart and fortune at her feet, but he dared not do it when time and opportunity arrived. Day by day his ardent love increased—stronger and stronger grew the impression which had first been stamped upon his noble mind; new graces were discovered; virtues were developed that had escaped his early notice, enhancing the maiden's loveliness and worth. Still he continued silent. He was a shy, retiring man, and entertained a meek opinion of his merits. The difference of age was very great. He dwelt upon the fact, until it seemed a barrier fatal to his success. Young, accomplished, and exceeding beautiful, would she not expect, did she not deserve, a union with youth and virtues equal to her own? Was it not madness to suppose that she would shower such happiness on him? Was he not over bold and arrogant to hope it? Aware of his disadvantage, and rendered miserable by the thought of losing her in consequence, he had been tempted once or twice to communicate to Margaret the amount of wealth that he possessed; but here, too, his reluctant tongue grew ever dumb as he approached the dangerous topic. No; his soul would pine in disappointment and despair, before it could consent to purchase love—love which transcends all price when it becomes the heart's free offering, but is not worth a rush to buy or bargain for. Could he but be sure that for himself alone she would receive his hand—could he but once be satisfied of this, how paltry the return, how poor would be the best that he could offer for her virgin trust? What was his wealth compared with that? But how be sure and satisfied? Ask and be refused? Refused, and then denied the privilege to gaze upon her face, and to linger hour after hour upon the melody which, flowing from her fair lips, had so long charmed, bewildered him! To be shut out for ever from the joy that had become a part of him, with which, already in his dreams, he had connected all that remained to him as yet of life!—It is true, James Mildred was old enough to be sweet Margaret's father; but for his heart, with all its throbbings and anxieties, it might have been the young girl's younger brother's. A lucky [pg 580] moment was it for Mildred, when he thought of seeking counsel from the straightforward and plain-speaking officer. A hint sufficed to make the parent wise, and to draw from him the blunt assurance, that Mildred was a son-in-law to make a father proud and happy. "I never liked, my friend, superfluous words," said he; "you have my consent, mind that, when you have settled matters with the lass."

It was a very few hours after the above words were spoken, that, either by design or chance, Mildred and Margaret found themselves together. The lieutenant and his younger daughter were from home, and Margaret was seated in the family parlour, engaged in profitable work, as usual. Upon entering the room, the lover saw immediately that Graham had committed him. His easy and accustomed step had never called a blush into the maiden's cheek. Wherefore should it now? He felt the coming and the dreaded crisis already near, and that his fate was hanging on her lips. His heart fluttered, and he became slightly perturbed; but he sat down manfully; determined to await the issue. Margaret welcomed him with more restraint than was her wont, but not—he thought and hoped—less cordially. Maidens are wilful and perverse. Why should she hold her head down, as she had never done before? Why strain her eyes upon her work, and ply her needle as though her life depended on the haste with which she wrought? Thus might she receive a foe; better treatment surely merited so good a friend?

"Miss Graham," said at length the resolute yet timid man, "do I judge rightly? Your father has communicated to you our morning's conversation?"

"He has, sir," answered Margaret too softly for any but a lover's ear.

"Then, pardon me, dear lady," continued Mildred, gaining confidence, as he was bound to do, "if I presume to add all that a simple and an honest man can proffer to the woman he adores. I am too old—that is to say, I have seen too much of life, perhaps, to be able to address you now in language that is fitting. But, believe me, dear Miss Graham, I am sensible of your charms, I esteem your character, I love you ardently. I am aware of my presumption. I am bold to approach you as a suitor; but my happiness depends upon your word and I beg you to pronounce it. Dismiss me, and I will trouble you no longer. I will endeavour to forget you—to forget that I beheld you—that I ever nourished a passion which has made life sweeter to me than I believed it could become; but if, on the other hand"—

How strange it is, that we will still create troubles in a world that already abounds with them! Here had Mildred lived in a perpetual fever for months together, teazing and fretting himself with anxieties and doubts; whilst, as a reasonable being, he ought to have been as cheerful and as merry as a lark singing at the gate of heaven. In the midst of his oration, the gentle Margaret resigned her work, and wept. I say no more. I will not even add that she had been prepared to weep for months before—that she had grown half fearful and half angry at the long delay—that she was woman, and ambitious—that she had heard of Mildred's mine of wealth, and longed to share it with him. Such secrets, gentle reader, might, if revealed, attaint the lady's character. I therefore choose to keep them to myself. It is very certain that Mildred was forthwith accepted, and that, after a courtship of three months, he led to the altar a woman of whose beauty and talents a monarch might justly have been proud. It is not to the purpose of this narrative to describe the wedding guests and garments—the sumptuous breakfast—the continental tour. It was a fair scene to look at, that auspicious bridal morn. The lieutenant's unaffected joy—the bridegroom's blissful pride—the lady's modesty, and—shall I call it?—triumph, struggling through it; these and other matters might employ an idle or a dallying pen, but must not now arrest one busy with more serious work. Far different are the circumstance and season which call for our regard. We leave the lovers in their bridal bower, and pensively approach the chamber of sickness and of death.

It is ten years since Mildred wedded. He is on the verge of sixty, and seems more aged, for he is bowed down with bodily disease and pain. [pg 581] His wife, not thirty yet, looks not an hour older than when we saw her last, dressed like a queen for her espousal. She is more beautiful, as the full developed rose in grace surpasses the delicate and still expanding bud; but there she is, the same young Margaret. How they have passed the married decade, how both fulfilled their several duties, may be gathered from a description of Mildred's latest moments. He lies almost exhausted on his bed of suffering, and only at short intervals can find strength to make his wishes known to one who, since he was a boy, has been a faithful and a constant friend. He is his comforter and physician now.

"You have not told me, Wilford," said Mildred in a moment of physical repose, "you have not told me yet how long. Let me, I implore you, hear the truth. I am not afraid to die. Is there any hope at all?"

The physician's lip quivered with affectionate grief; but did not move in answer.

"There is no hope then," continued the wasting invalid. "I believe it—I believe it. But tell me, dearest friend, how long may this endure?"

"I cannot say," replied the doctor; "a day or two, perhaps: I fear not longer, Mildred."

"Fear not, old friend," said Mildred. "I do not fear. I thank my God there is an end of it."

"Is your mind happy, Mildred?" asked the physician.

"You shall judge yourself. I die at peace with all men. I repent me heartily of my sins. I place my hope in my Redeemer. I feel that he will not desert me. I did never fear death, Wilford. I can smile upon him now."

"You will see a clergyman?"

"Yes, Wilford, an hour hence; not now. I have sent her away, that I might hear the worst from you. She must be recalled, and know that all is fixed, and over. We will pray together—dear, faithful Margaret—sweet, patient nurse! Heaven bless her!"

"She is to be pitied, Mildred. To die is the common lot. We are not all doomed to mourn the loss of our beloved ones!"

"But, Wilford, you will be good and kind to her, and console her for my loss. You are my executor and dearest friend. You will have regard to my dying words, and watch over her. Be a father and a brother to her. You will—will you not?"

"I will," answered the physician solemnly.

"Thank you, brother—thank you," replied the patient, pressing his friend's hand warmly. "We are brothers now, Wilford—we were children, schoolboys together. Do you remember the birds'-nesting—and the apple-tree in the orchard? Oh, the happy scenes of my boyhood are fresher in my memory to day than the occurrences of yesterday!"

"You were nearer heaven in your boyhood, Mildred, than you have been since, until this hour. We are travelling daily further from the East, until we are summoned home again. The light of heaven is about us at the beginning and the close of life. We lose it in middle age, when it is hid by the world's false and unsubstantial glare."

"I understand something of what you say. I never dreaded this hour. I have relied for grace, and it has come—but, Wilford"—

"What would you say?"


"What of her?"

"If you could but know what she has done for me—how, for the last two years, she has attended me—how she has sacrificed all things for me, and for my comfort—how she has been, against my will, my servant and my slave—you would revere her character as I do. Night after night has she spent at my bedside; no murmur—no dull, complaining look—all cheerfullness! I have been peevish and impatient—no return for the harsh word, and harsher look. So young—so beautiful—so self devoted. I have not deserved such love—and now it is snatched from me, as it should be"—

"You are excited, Mildred," said the good doctor. "You have said too much. Rest now—rest."

"Let me see her," answered Mildred. "I cannot part with her an instant now."

And in a few minutes the angel of light—for such she was to the declining man—glided to the dying bed. When she approached it his eyes were shut, and his lips moved as if in prayer. At his side she stood, the [pg 582]faithful tears pouring down her cheek, her voice suspended, lest a breath should fall upon the sufferer and awaken him to pain. Quietly at last, as if from sweetest sleep, his eyes unclosed, and, with a fond expression, fixed themselves on her. Faster and faster streamed the unchecked tears adown the lovely cheek, louder and louder grew the agonizing sobs that would not be controlled. He took her drooping palm, pressed it as he might between his bony hands, and covered it with kisses. Doctor Wilford silently withdrew.

"Dear, good Margaret," the sick man faltered, "I shall lose you soon. Heaven will bless you for your loving care."

"Take courage, dearest," was Margaret's reply; "all will yet be well."

"It will, beloved—but not here," he answered. "We shall meet again—be sure of it. God is merciful, not cruel, and our happiness on earth has been a foretaste of the diviner bliss hereafter. We are separated but for an hour. Do not weep, my sweet one, but listen to me. It was my duty to reward you, Margaret, for all that you have done for the infirm old man. I have performed this duty. Every thing that I possess is yours! My will is with my private papers in the desk. It will do you justice. Could I have given you the wealth of India, you would have deserved it all."

Tears, tears were the heart's intense acknowledgment. What could she say at such a time?

"I have thought fit, my Margaret, to burden you with no restrictions. I could not be so wicked and so selfish as to wish you not to wed again"—

"Speak not of it, James—speak not of it," almost screamed the lovely wife, intercepting the generous speaker's words. "Do not overwhelm me with my grief."

"It is best, my Margaret, to name these things whilst power is still left me. Understand me, dearest. I do not bid you wed again. You are free to do it if it will make you happier."

"Never—never, dearest and best of men! I am yours in life and death—yours for ever. Before Heaven I vow"—

Mildred touched the upraised hand, held it in his own, and in a feeble, worn-out voice, said gravely—

"I implore you to desist—spare me the pain—make not a vow so rash. You are young and beautiful, my Margaret—a time may come—let there be no vow. Where is Wilford? I wish to have you both about me."

The following morning Margaret was weeping on her husband's corpse. Ten years before, she had wept when he proposed for her, and ten years afterwards, almost to a day, she was weeping on John Humphrys' pillow, distressed with recollections that would not let her rest.



Doctor Chalmers was right. The discovery of the telescope was very fine in its way; but the invention of the microscope was, after all, a much more sensible affair. We may look at the mountains of the moon, and the spots on the sun, until we have rendered our eyes, for all practical purposes, useless for a month, and yet not bring to light one secret worth knowing, one fact that, as inhabitants of the earth, we care to be acquainted with. Not so with one microscopic peep at a particle of water or an atom of cheese. Here we arrive at once at the disclosure of what modern philosophers call "a beautiful law"—a law affecting the entirety of animal creation—invisible and visible; a law which proclaims that the inferior as well as the superior animals, the lowest as well as the highest, the smallest as well as the largest, live upon one another, derive their strength and substance from attacking and devouring those of their neighbours. Shakspeare, whom few things escaped, has not failed to tell us, that "there be land rats and water rats, water thieves and land thieves;" he knew not, however, that there be likewise water devils as well as land devils—water lawyers [pg 583] as well as land lawyers—water swindlers as well as land swindlers. In one small liquid drop you shall behold them all—indeed a commonwealth of Christians but for their forms, and for the atmosphere in which they live and fight. I have often found great instruction in noting the hypocritical antics of a certain watery rascal, whose trick it is to lie in one snug corner of the globule, feigning repose, indifference, or sleep. Nothing disturbs him, until some weak, innocent animalcule ventures unsuspiciously within his reach, and then with one muscular exertion, the monster darts, gripes, gulps him down—goes to his sleep or prayers again, and waits a fresh arrival. The creature has no joy but in the pangs of others—no life but in their sufferings and death. Even worse than this thing is the worm, its earthly prototype, with whom, rather than with himself, this chapter has to deal. Whilst the last most precious drops of Mildred's breath were leaving him, whilst his cleansed soul prepared itself for solemn flight, whilst all around his bed were still and silent as the grave already digging for him—one human eye, secreted from the world and unobserved, peered into the lonely chamber, watching for the dissolution, impatient at delay, and greedy for the sight. I speak of an old, grey-headed man, a small, thin creature of skin and bone, sordid and avaricious in spirit—one who had never known Mildred, had not once spoken to or seen him, but who had heard of his possessions, of his funded gold, and whose grasping soul was sick to handle and secure them. Abraham Allcraft, hunks as he was, was reputed wealthy. For years he had retained a high position as the opulent banker of the mercantile city of ——. His business was extensive—his habits mean, penurious; his credit was unlimited, as his character was unimpeachable. There are some men who cannot gain the world's favour, do what they will to purchase it. There are others, on the other hand, who, having no fair claim at all to it, are warmed and nourished throughout life by the good opinion of mankind. No man lived with fewer virtues than Abraham Allcraft; no man was reputed richer in all the virtues that adorn humanity. He was an honest man, because he starved upon a crust. He was industrious, because from morn till night he laboured at the bank. He was a moral man, because his word was sacred, and no one knew him guilty of a serious fault. He was the pattern of a father—witness the education of his son. He was the pattern of a banker—witness the house's regularity, and steady prosperous course. He lived within view of the mansion in which Mildred breathed his last; he knew the history of the deceased, as well as he knew the secrets of his own bad heart. He had seen the widow in her solitary walks; he had made his plans, and he was not the man to give them up without a struggle.

It was perhaps on the tenth day after Mildred had been deposited in the earth, that Margaret permitted the sun once more to lighten her abode. Since the death of her husband the house had been shut up—no visitor had been admitted—there had been no witness to her agony and tears. It should be so. There are calamities too great for human sympathy; seasons too awful for any presence save that of the Eternal. Time, reason, and religion—not the hollow mockery of solemn words and looks—must heal the heart lacerated by the tremendous deathblow. Abraham Allcraft had waited for this day. He saw the gloomy curtains drawn aside—he beheld life stirring in the house again. He dressed himself more carefully than he had ever done before, and straightaway hobbled to the door, before another and less hasty foot could reach it. A painter, wishing to arrest the look of one who smiles, and smiles, and murders whilst he smiles, would have been glad to dwell upon the face of Abraham, as he addressed the servant-man who gave him entrance. Below the superficial grin, there was, as clear as day, the natural expression of the soul that would not blend with any show of pleasantry. Abraham wished to give the attendant half-a-crown as soon as possible. He dared not offer it without a reason, so he dropped his umbrella, and, like a generous man, rewarded the honest fellow who stooped to pick it up. This preliminary over, and, as it were, so much of dirt swept from the very threshold, he gave his card, announced himself as Mr [pg 584] Allcraft, banker, and desired to see the lady on especial business. He was admitted. The ugliest of dresses did not detract from the perfect beauty of the widowed Margaret; the bitterest of griefs had not removed the bloom still ripening on her cheek. Time and sorrow were most merciful. The wife and widow looked yet a girl blushing in her teens. Abraham Allcraft gazed upon the lady, as he bowed his artful head, with admiration and delight, and then he threw one hurried and involuntary glance around the gorgeous room in which she sat, and then he made his own conclusions, and assumed an air of condolence and affectionate regard, as the wolf is said to do in fables, just before he pounces on the lamb and strangles it.

The villain sighed.

"Sad time, madam," he said, in a lugubrious tone—"sad time. Strangers feel it."

Margaret held down her face.

"I should have come before, madam, if propriety had not restrained me. I have only a few hours which I can take from business, but these belong to the afflicted and the poor."

"You are very kind, sir."

"I beg you, Mrs Mildred, not to mention it. It was a great shock to me to hear of Mr Mildred's death—a man in the prime of life. So very good—so much respected."

"He was too good for this world, sir."

"Much, madam—very much; and what a consolation for you, that he is gone to a better—one more deserving of him. You will feel this more as you find your duties recalling you to active usefulness again."

The lady shook her head despairingly.

"I hope, madam, we may be permitted to do all we can to alleviate your forlorn condition. I am one of many who regard you with the deepest sympathy. You may have heard my name, perhaps."

The lady bowed.

"You must be very dull here," exclaimed the wily Abraham, gazing round him with the internal consciousness that the death of every soul he knew would not make him dull in such a paradise—"very dull, I am sure!"

"It was a cheerful home while he lived, sir," answered Margaret, most ruefully.

"Ah—yes," sighed Abraham; "but now, too true—too true."

"I was thinking, Mr Allcraft"—

"Before you name your thought, dear madam, let me explain at once the object of my visit. I am an old man—a father, and a widower—but I am also" (oh, crafty Allcraft!) "a simple and an artless man. My words are few, but they express my meaning faithfully. There was a time when, placed in similar circumstances to your own, I would have given the world had a friend stepped forward to remove me for a season from the scene of all my misery. I remembered this whilst dwelling on your solitariness. Within a few miles of this place, I have a little box untenanted at present. Let me entreat you to retire to it, if only for a week. I place it at your command, and shall be honoured if you will accept the offer. The house is sweetly situated—the prospect charming; a temporary change cannot but soothe your grief. I am a father, madam—the father of a noble youth—and I know what you must suffer."

"You anticipate my wish, sir, and I am grateful for your kindness. I was about to move many miles away; but it is advisable, perhaps, that for the present I should continue in this neighbourhood. I will see your cottage, and, if it pleases me, you will permit me to become your tenant for a time."

"My guest rather, dear Mrs Mildred. The old should not be thwarted in their wishes. Let me for the time imagine you my daughter, and act a father's part."

The lady smiled in gratitude, and said that "she would see"—and then the following day was fixed for a short visit to the cottage and then the virtuous Allcraft took his leave, and went immediately to Mr Final, house agent and appraiser. This gentleman was empowered to let a handsome furnished villa, just three miles distant from poor Margaret's residence. Allcraft hired it at once for one month certain, reserving to himself the option of continuing it for any further period. He signed the agreement—paid the rent—received possession. This over, he hurried back to business, and by the post dispatched a [pg 585] letter to his absent son, conjuring him, as he loved his father, and valued his regard, to return to —— without an instant's hesitation or delay.



Reader, I have no heart to proceed; I am sorry that I began at all—that I have got thus far. I love Margaret, the beautiful and gentle—Margaret, the heart-broken penitent. I love her as a brother; and what brother but yearns to conceal his erring sister's frailty? The faithful historian, however, is denied the privileges of fiction. He may not, if he would, divert the natural course of things; he cannot, though he pines to do it, expunge the written acts of Providence Let us go or in charity.

Michael Allcraft, in obedience to his father's wish, came home. He was in his twenty-fourth year, stood six feet high, was handsome and well-proportioned. He was a youth of ardent temperament, liberal and high-spirited. How he became the son of such a sire is to me a mystery. It was not in the affections that the defects of Michael's character were found. These were warm, full of the flowing milk of human kindness. Weakness, however, was apparent in the more solid portions of the edifice. His morals, it must be confessed, were very lax—his principles unsteady and insecure—and how could it be otherwise? Deprived of his mother at his birth, and from that hour brought up under the eye and tutelage of a man who had spent a life in the education of one idea—who regarded money-making as the business, the duty, the pleasure, the very soul and end of our existence—who judged of the worth of mankind—of men, women, and children—according to their incomes, and accounted all men virtuous who were rich—all guilty who were poor—whose spirit was so intent upon accumulation, that it did not stop to choose the straight and open roads that led to it, but often crept through many crooked and unclean—brought up, I say, under such a father and a guide, was it a wonder that Michael was imperfect in many qualities of mind—that reason with him was no tutor, that his understanding failed to be, as South expresses it, "the soul's upper region, lofty and serene, free from the vapours and disturbances of the inferior affections?" In truth there was no upper region at all, and very little serenity in Michael's composition. He had been a wayward and passionate boy. He was a restless and excitable man—full of generous impulses, as I have hinted, but sudden and hasty in action—swift in anger—impatient of restraint and government. His religious views were somewhat dim and undistinguishable even to himself. He believed—as who does not—in the great First Cause, and in the usefulness of religion as an instrument of good in the hands of government. I do not think he troubled himself any further with the subject. He sometimes on the Sabbath went to church, but oftener stayed at home, or sought excitement with a chosen friend or two abroad. He hated professing people, as they are called, and would rather shake hands with a housebreaker than a saint. It has been necessary to state these particulars, in order to show how thoroughly he lived uninfluenced by the high motives which are at once the inspiration and the happiness of all good men—how madly he rested on the conviction that religion is an abstract matter, and has nothing more to do with life and conduct than any other abstruse branch of metaphysics. But in spite of this unsound state of things, the gentleman possessed all the showy surface-virtues that go so very far towards eliciting the favourable verdict of mankind. He prided himself upon a delicate, a surprising sense of honour. He professed himself ready to part with his life rather than permit a falsehood to escape his lips; he would have blushed to think dishonestly—to act so was impossible. Pride stood him here in the stead of holiness; for the command which he refused to regard at the bidding of the Almighty, he implicitly obeyed at the solicitation of the most ignoble of his passions. It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous companion for a young widow than Michael Allcraft was likely to prove. [pg 586] Manliness of demeanour, and a handsome face and figure, have always their intrinsic value. If you add to these a cultivated mind, a most expressive and intellectual countenance, rich hazel eyes, as full of love as fire, a warm impulsive nature, shrinking from oppression, active in kindness and deeds of real benevolence—you will not fail to tremble for my Margaret. Abraham Allcraft was too shrewd a man to allude even most remotely to the actual reason of his son's recall. He knew very well that to hint at it was in the very outset to defeat his purpose. He acted far more cautiously. Michael had received a first rate education—he had been to the university—he had travelled through Italy and Germany; and when he received his father's letter was acquiring business habits in a banking-house in London. It was high time to settle seriously to work, so thought Allcraft senior, and suddenly determined to constitute his son a partner in his bank. "He himself was getting old," he said. "Who knew what would happen? Delays were dangerous. He would delay no longer. Now he was well, and Michael might learn and profit by his long experience." Michael consented—why should he not?—to be the junior partner in the prosperous house of Allcraft senior and Son. Three months passed speedily, and Margaret still continued Abraham's tenant. She had lost the sting of her sorrow in the scenes of natural beauty by which she was surrounded. She had lived in strict retirement, and a gentle tide of peace was flowing gradually and softly to her soul again. She thought of quitting the tranquil cot with pain, and still fixed day after day for a departure that she could not take. The large house, associated as it was with all her grief, looked dismal at a distance. How would it be when she returned to it, and revisited the well-known rooms? Every article of furniture was in one way or another connected with the departed. She never—no never could be happy there again. The seclusion to which she doomed herself had not prevented Abraham Allcraft from being her daily visitor. His age and character protected her from calumny. His sympathy and great attention had merited and won her unaffected gratitude. She received his visits with thankfulness, and courted them. The wealth which it was known he possessed acquitted him of all sinister designs; and it was easy and natural to attribute his regard and tenderness to the pity which a good man feels for a bereavement such as she had undergone. The close of six months found her still residing at the cottage, and Abraham still a constant and untiring friend. He had been fortunate enough to give her able and important counsel. In the disposition of a portion of her property, he had evinced so great a respect for her interest, had regarded his own profit and advantages so little, that had Margaret not been satisfied before of his probity and good faith, she would have been the most ungrateful of women not to acknowledge them now. But, in fact, poor Margaret did acknowledge them, and in the simplicity of her nature had mingled in her daily prayers tears of gratitude to Heaven for the blessing which had come to her in the form of one so fatherly and good. In the meanwhile where was Michael? At home—at work—under the surveillance of a parent who had power to check and keep in awe even his turbulent and outbreaking spirit. He had taken kindly to the occupation which had been provided for him, and promised, under good tuition, to become in time a proper man of business. He had heard of the Widow Mildred—her unbounded wealth—her unrivalled beauty. He knew of his father's daily visit to the favoured cottage, but he knew no more; nor more would he have cared to know had not his father, with a devil's cunning, and with much mysteriousness, forbidden him to speak about the lady, or to think of visiting her so long as she remained amongst them. Such being the interdict, Michael was, of course, impatient to seek out the hidden treasure, and determined to behold her. Delay increased desire, and desire with him was equal to attainment. Whilst he was busy in contriving a method for the production of the lovely widow, his father, who had watched and waited for the moment that had come, suddenly requested him to accompany him to Mrs Mildred's house—to dine with that good lady, and to take leave of her before she departed from the neighbourhood for ever. Michael did [pg 587] not need a second invitation. The eagerness with which he listened to the first was a true joy for Abraham. Margaret, be it understood, had not invited Michael. The first year of her widowhood was drawing to a close, and she had resolved at length to remove from the retreat in which she had been so long hidden from mankind. Her youthful spirits had rebounded—were once more buoyant—solitude had done its work—the physician was no longer needed. That she might gradually approach the busy world again, she proposed to visit, for a time, a small and pretty town, well known to her, on the eastern coast. The day was fixed for her removal, and, just one week before, she invited Mr Allcraft senior to a farewell dinner. She had not thought it necessary to include in the invitation the younger gentleman, whom she had never seen, albeit his father's constant and unlimited encomiums had made the woman less unwilling to receive than to invite the youth, in whom the graces and the virtues of humanity were said to have their residence. And Allcraft was aware of this too. For his head he would not have incurred the risk of giving her offence. With half an eye he saw the danger was not worth the speaking of. When I say that Michael never eat less food at a meal in his life—never talked more volubly or better—never had been so thoroughly entranced and happy—so lost to every thing but the consciousness of her presence, of the hot blood tingling in his cheek—of the mad delight that had leapt into his eyes and sparkled there, it will scarcely be requisite to describe more particularly the effect of this precious dinner party upon him. As for the lady, she would not have been woman had she failed to admire the generous sentiments—the witty repartees—the brilliant passages with which the young man's taste and memory enabled him to entertain and charm his lovely hostess. As for his handsome face and manly bearing—but, as we have said already, these have their price and value always. Allcraft senior had the remarkable faculty of observing every thing either with or without the assistance of his eyes. During the whole of dinner he did not once withdraw his devil's vision from his plate, and yet he knew more of what was going on above it than both the individuals together, whose eyes it seemed had nothing better to do than just to take full notes of what was passing in the countenance of either. Against this happy talent we must set off a serious failing in the character of Abraham. He always had a nap, he said, the moment after dinner. Accordingly, though he retired with the young people to the drawing-room, he placed himself immediately in an easy-chair, and quickly passed into a deep and long-enduring sleep. Margaret then played sacred airs on the piano, which Michael listened to with most unsacred feelings. Fathers and mothers! put out your children's eyes—remove their toes—cut off their fingers. Whilst with a lightning look, a hair-breadth touch, they can declare, make known the love, that, having grown too big for the young heart, is panting for a vent—you do but lose your pains whilst you stand by to seal their tremulous lips. Speech! Fond lovers did never need it yet—and never shall. What Margaret thought when the impassioned youth turned her pages over one by one, (and sometimes two and three together,) and with a hand quivering as if it had committed murder—what she felt when his full liquid eye gazed on her, thanking her for her sweet voice, and imploring one strain more, I cannot tell, though Abraham Allcraft guessed exactly, bobbing and nodding, though he was, in slumber most profound.

Your talking and susceptible men are either at summer heat or zero. Michael, who had been all animation and garrulity from the moment he beheld the widow until he looked his last unutterable adieus, became silent and morose as soon as he turned his back upon the cottage, and lost sight, as he believed, of the divinity for ever. He screwed himself into a corner of the coach, and there he sat until the short homeward journey was completed, mentally chewing, with the best appetite he could, the cud of that day's delicious feast. Judging from his frequent sighs, and the uneasy shiftings in his seat, the repast was any thing but savoury. Abraham said nothing. He had but a few words to utter, and these were reserved for the quiet half hour which preceded the usual time of rest.

[pg 588] "Michael," said the sire as they sat together in the evening.

"Father," said the junior partner.

"Two hundred thousand clear. She'll be a duchess!"

A sigh, like a current of air, flowed through the room.

"She deserves it, Michael—a sweet creature—a coronet might be proud of her. Why don't you answer, Mike?"

"Father, she is an angel!"

"Pooh, pooh!"

"A heavenly creature!"

"I tell you what, Mike, if I were a royal duke, and you a prince, I should be proud to have her for a daughter. But it is useless talking so. I sadly fear that some designing rascal, without a shilling in his pocket, will get her in his clutches, and, who knows, perhaps ruin the poor creature. What rosy lips she has! You cunning dog, I saw you ogle them."


"You did, sir—don't deny it; and do you think I wonder at you, Mike? Ain't I your father, and don't I know the blood? Come, go to bed, sir, and forget it all."

"Do you, father, really think it possible that—do you think she is in danger? I do confess she is loveliest, the most accomplished woman in the world. If she were to come to any harm—if—if"—

"Now look you, Mike. There are one or two trifling business matters to be arranged between the widow and myself before she leaves us. You shall transact them with her. I am too busy at the bank at present. You are my junior partner, but you are a hot-headed fellow, and I can hardly trust you with accounts. All I ask and bargain for is, that you be cautious and discreet—mark me, cautious and discreet. Let me feel satisfied of this, and you shall settle all the matters as you please. Business, sir, is business. I must acknowledge, Mike, that such a pair of eyes would have been too much for old Abraham forty years ago; and what a neck and bust! Come, go to bed, sir, and get up early in the morning."



Margaret Mildred had not failed to note the impression which had been made upon the warm and youthful heart of Michael; she was not displeased to note it; and from her couch she rose, the following morning, delighted with her dreams, and benevolently disposed towards mankind in general. She lingered at her toilet, grew hypercritical in articles of taste, and found defects in beauty without the shadow of a blemish. Had some wicked sprite but whispered in her ear one thought injurious to the memory of her departed husband, Margaret would have shrunk from its reception, and would have scorned to acknowledge it as her own. Time, she felt and owned with gratitude, had assuaged her sorrows—had removed the sting from her calamity, but had not rendered her one jot less sensible to the great claims he held, even now, on her affection. From the hour of Mildred's decease up to the present moment, the widow had considered herself strictly bound by the vow which she had proposed to take, and would have taken, but for the dying man's earnest prohibition. Her conscience told her that that prohibition, so far from setting her free from the engagement, did but render her more liable to fulfill it. Her feelings coincided with the judgment of her understanding. Both pronounced upon her the self-inflicted verdict of eternal widowhood. How long this sentence would have been respected, had Michael never interfered to argue its repeal, it is impossible to say; as a general remark it may be stated, that nothing is so delusive as the heroic declarations we make in seasons of excitement—no resolution is in such danger of becoming forfeited as that which Nature never sanctioned and which depends for its existence only upon a state of feeling which every passing hour serves to enfeeble and suppress.

When Margaret reached her breakfast-room, she found a nosegay on the table, and Mr Michael Allcraft's card. He had called to make enquiries at a very early hour of the morning, and [pg 589] had signified his intention of returning on affairs of business later in the day. Margaret blushed deeper than the rose on which her eyes were bent, and took alarm; her first determination was to be denied to him; the second—far more rational—to receive him as the partner in the banking-house, to transact the necessary business, and then dismiss him as a stranger, distantly, but most politely. This was as it should be. Michael came. He was more bashful than he had been the night before, and he stammered an apology for his father's absence without venturing to look towards the individual he addressed. He drew two chairs to the table—one for Margaret, another for himself. He placed them at a distance from each other, and, taking some papers from his pocket with a nervous hand, he sat down without a minute's loss of time to look over and arrange them. Margaret was pleased with his behaviour; she took her seat composedly, and waited for his statement. There were a few select and favourite volumes on the table, and one of these the lady involuntarily took up and ran through, whilst Michael still continued busy with his documents, and apparently perplexed by them. Nothing can be more ill advised than to disturb a man immersed in business with literary or any other observations foreign to his subject.

"You were speaking of Wordsworth yesterday evening, Mr Allcraft," said Margaret suddenly—Allcraft pushed every paper from him in a paroxysm of delight, and looked up—"and I think we were agreed in our opinion of that great poet. What a sweet thing is this! Did you ever read it? It is the sonnet on the Sonnet."

"A gem, madam. None but he could have written it. The finest writer of sonnets in the world has spoken the poem's praise with a tenderness and pathos that are inimitable. There is the true philosophy of the heart in all he says—a reconciliation of suffering humanity to its hard but necessary lot. How exquisite and full of meaning are those lines—

'Bees that soar for bloom,

High as the highest peak of Furness fells,

Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells;'

and then the touching close—

'In truth, the prison unto which we doom

Ourselves, no prison is; and hence to me,

In sundry moods, 'twas pastime to be bound

Within the sonnets scanty plot of ground;

Pleased if some souls, for such there needs must be,

Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,

Should find brief solace there as I have found.'

The weight of too much liberty. Ah, who has not experienced this!"—Mr Michael Allcraft sighed profoundly. A slight pause ensued after this sudden outbreak on the part of the junior partner, and then he proceeded, his animated and handsome countenance glowing with expression as he spoke.

"You are really to be envied, Mrs Mildred, with your cultivated tastes and many acquirements. You can comply with every wish of your elegant and well-informed mind. There is no barrier between you and a life of high mental enjoyment. The source of half my happiness was cut off when I exchanged my study for the desk. Men cease to live when what is falsely called life begins with them."

"We have all our work to do, and we should do it cheerfully. It is a lesson taught me by my mother, and experience has shown it to be just."

"Yes, madam, I grant you when your mother spoke. But it is not so now. Mercantile occupation in England is not as it has been. I question whether it will ever be again. It is not closely and essentially associated, as it was of yore, with high principle and strict notions of honour. The simple word of the English merchant has ceased to pass current through the world, sacred as his oath—more binding than his bond; fair, manly dealing is at an end; and he who would mount the ladder of fortune, must be prepared to soil his hands if he hope to reach the top. Legitimate trading is no longer profitable. Selfishness is arrayed against selfishness—cunning against cunning—lying against lying [pg 590] —deception against deception. The great rogue prospers—the honest man starves with his innate sense of honour and integrity. Is it possible to enter cheerfully upon employment which demands the sacrifice of soul even at the outset?"

"You draw a dark picture, Mr Allcraft, slightly tinged, I trust, with the poetic pencil. But be it as gloomy as you paint it, we have still religion amongst us, and individuals who adapt their conduct to its principles"—

"Ay, madam," said Michael, quickly interrupting her, "I grant you all you wish. If we did but adapt our conduct to the doctrines of the Testament—to that unequalled humanizing moral code—if we were taught to do this, and how to do it, we might hope for some amendment. But look at the actual state of things. The religious world is but a portion of the whole—a world within a world. Preachers of peace—men who arrogate to themselves the divine right of inculcating truth, and who, if any, should be free from the corruption that taints the social atmosphere,—such men come before mankind already sick with warfare, widening the breaches, subdividing our divisions. Are these men pure and single-minded? Are these men free from the grasping itch that distinguishes our age? Is there no such thing as trafficking with souls? Are chapels bought and sold only with a spiritual view, or sometimes as men bargain for their theatres? Are these men really messengers of peace, living in amity and union, acting Christianity as well as preaching it? Ask the Papist, the Protestant, the Independent, and the thousand sects who dwell apart as foes, and, whilst they talk of love, are teaching mankind how to hate beneath the garb of sanctimoniousness and hollow forms!"

"You are eloquent, Mr Allcraft, in a bad cause."

"Pardon me, Mrs Mildred," answered the passionate youth immediately, and with much bitterness, "but in the next street you shall find one eloquent in a worse. There is what some of us are pleased to call a popular preacher there. I speak the plain and simple truth, and say he is a hireling—a paid actor, without the credit that attaches to the open exercise of an honourable profession. The owner of the chapel is a usurer, or money-lender—no speculation answers so well as this snug property. The ranter exhibits to his audience once a- week—the place is crowded when he appears upon the stage— deserted when he is absent, and his place is occupied by one who fears, perhaps, to tamper with his God—is humble, honest, quiet. The crowds who throng to listen to the one, and will not hear the other, profess to worship God in what they dare to call his sanctuary, and look with pity on such as have not courage to unite in all their hideous mockery."

Right or wrong, it was evident that Michael was in earnest. He spoke warmly, but with a natural vehemence that by no means disfigured his good-looking visage, now illuminated with unusual fire. In these days of hollowness and hypocrisy, an ingenuous straightforward character is a refreshing spectacle, and commands our admiration, be the principles it represents just what they may. Hence, possibly, the unaffected pleasure with which Margaret listened to her visitor whilst he declaimed against men and things previously regarded by her with reverence and awe. He certainly was winning on her esteem. Women are the strangest beings! Let them guard against these natural and impetuous characters, say I. The business papers lay very quietly on the table, whilst the conversation flowed as easily into another channel. Poets and poetry were again the subject of discourse; and here our Michael was certainly at home. The displeasure which he had formerly exhibited passed like a cloud from his brow; he grew elated, criticized writer after writer, recited compositions, illustrated them with verses from the French and German; repeated his own modest attempts at translation, gave his hearer an idea of Goethe, Uhland, Wieland, and the smaller fry of German poets, and pursued his theme, in short, until listener and reciter both were charmed and gratified beyond expression—she, with his talents and his manners—he, with her patience and attention, and, perhaps, her face and figure.

Mr Allcraft, junior, after having proceeded in the above fashion for about three hours, suddenly recollected that he had made a few appointments at the banking-house. He [pg 591] looked at his watch, and discovered that he was just two hours behind the latest. Both blushed, and looked ridiculous. He rose, however, and took his leave, asking and receiving her permission to pay another visit on the following day for the purpose of arranging their eternal "business matters." Things take ugly shapes in the dark; a tree, an object of grace add beauty in the meridian sun, is a giant spectre in the gloom of night. Thoughts of death are bolder and more startling on the midnight pillow than in the noonday walk. Our vices, which are the pastime of the drawing-room, become the bugbears of the silent bedchamber. Margaret, when she would have slept, was haunted by reproaches, which waited until then to agitate and frighten her. A sense of impropriety and sinfulness started in her bosom, and convicted her of an offence— unpardonable in her sight—against the blessed memory of Mildred. She could not deny it, Michael Allcraft had created on her heart a favourable impression—one that must be obliterated at once and for ever, if she hoped for happiness, for spiritual repose. She had listened to his impassioned tones with real delight; had gazed upon his bright and beaming countenance, until her eyes had stolen away the image, and fixed it on her heart. Not a year had elapsed since the generous Mildred had been committed to the earth, and could she so soon rebel—so easily forget his princely conduct, and permit his picture to be supplanted in her breast? Oh, impossible! It was a grievous fault. She acknowledged it with her warm tears, and vowed (Margaret was disposed to vow—too readily on most occasions) that she would rise reproved; repentant, and faithful to her duty. Yes, and the earnest creature leapt from her couch, and prayed for strength and help to resist the sore temptation; nor did she visit it again until she felt the strong assurance that her victory was gained, and her future peace secured. It is greatly to be feared that the majority of persons who make resolutions, imagine that all their work is done the instant the virtuous determination is formed. Now, the fact is, that the real work is not even begun; and if exertion be suspended at the point at which it is most needed, the resolute individual is in greater danger of miscarriage than if he had not resolved at all, but had permitted things to take their own course and natural direction. I do believe that Margaret received Michael on the following day without deeming it in the slightest degree incumbent upon her to act upon the offensive. She established herself behind her decision and her prayers, and, relying upon such fortifications, would not permit the idea of danger. A child might have prophesied the result. Michael was always at her side—Margaret's departure from the cottage was postponed day after day. The youth, who in truth ardently and truly loved the gentle widow, had no joy away from her. He supplied her with books, the choice of which did credit to his refinement and good taste. Sometimes she perused them alone—sometimes he read aloud to her. His own hand culled her flowers, and placed the offering on her table. He met her in her walks—he taught her botany—he sketched her favourite views —he was devoted to her, heart and soul. And she—but they are sitting now together after a month's acquaintance, and the reader shall judge of Margaret by what he sees. It is a day for lovers. The earth is bathed in light, and southerly breezes, such as revive the dying and cheer their heavy hours with promises of amendment and recovery, temper the fire that streams from the unclouded sun. In the garden of the cottage, in a secluded part of it, there is a summer-house—call it beauty's bower—with Margaret within—and honeysuckle, clematis, and the passion flower, twining and intertwining, kissing and embracing, around, above, below, on every side. There they are sitting. He reads a book— and a paragraph has touched a chord in one of the young hearts, to which the other has responded. She moves her foot unconsciously along the floor, her downcast eye as unconsciously following it. He dares to raise his look, and with a palpitating heart, observes the colour in her cheek, which tells him that the heart is vanquished, and the prize is won. He tries to read again, but eyesight fails him, and his hand is shaking like a leaf. His spirit expands, his heart grows confident and rash— he knows not what he does—he cannot be held [pg 592] back, though death be punishment if he goes on—he touches the soft hand, and in an instant, the drooping, almost lifeless Margaret—drawn to his breast— fastens there, and sobs. She whispers to him to be gone—her clammy hand is pressing him to stay.



I am really inclined to believe, after all, that the best mode of finally extinguishing sorrow for a dead husband, is to listen quietly to the reasonable pleas of a live lover. After the scene to which it has been my painful task to allude in the last chapter, it would have been the very height of prudery on the part of the lady and gentleman, had they avoided speaking on the subject in which they had both become so deeply interested. They did not attempt it. The first excitement over, Margaret entreated her lover to be gone. He did not move. She conjured him, as he valued her esteem, to flee from that spot, and to return to it no more. He pressed her hand to his devoted lips. "What would become of her?" she emphatically exclaimed, clasping her taper fingers in distrust and doubt. "You will be mine, dear Margaret," was the wild reply, and the taper fingers easily relaxed—gave way—and got confounded with his own. After the lapse of four-and-twenty hours, reason returned to both; not the cold and calculating capacity that stands aloof from every suggestion of feeling, but that more sensible and temporizing reason, that with the will goes hand-in-hand, and serves the blind one as a careful guide. They met—for they had parted suddenly, abruptly—in the summer-house, by previous appointment. Michael pleaded his affection—his absorbing and devoted love. She has objections numerous—insuperable; they dwindle down to one or two, and these as weak and easily overcome as woman's melting heart itself. They meet to argue, and he stays to woo. They bandy words and arguments for hours together, but all their logic fails in proof; whilst one long, passionate, parting kiss, does more by way of demonstration than the art and science ever yet effected.

Abraham Allcraft, who had been busily engaged behind the scenes pulling the wires and exhibiting the puppets, appeared upon the stage as soon as the first act of the performance was at an end. His son had said nothing to him, but Abraham had many eyes and ears, and saw and heard enough to make him mad with villainous delight. The second year of widowhood had commenced. Margaret had doffed her weeds. She openly received the man on whom she had bestowed her heart. They were betrothed. The public voice proclaimed young Allcraft the luckiest of men; the public soul envied and hated him for his good fortune. Abraham could never leave the presence of his future daughter—and in her presence could never cease to flatter her, and to grow disgusting in his lavish praises of his son.

"When I first saw you, my dear lady," said the greedy banker, "I had but one thought on my mind that livelong day. 'What would I give,' said I, 'for such a daughter? what would I give if for my noble son I could secure so sweet a wife? I never met his equal—I say it, madam—who, being his father, should perhaps not say it; but a stranger can admire his lusty form and figure, and his mind is just as vigorous and sprightly. A rare youth, madam, I assure you—too disinterested, perhaps—too generous, too confiding—too regardless of the value of that necessary evil—money; but as he gets older he will be wiser. I do believe he would rather have died, though he loved you so much—than asked you for your hand, if he had not been thoroughly independent without it.'"

"I can believe it, sir," sighed Margaret.

"I know you can—bless you! You were born for one another. You are a sweet pair. I know not which is prettiest—which I love the best. I love you both better than any thing in the world—that is at present; for by-and-by, you know, I may love something quite as well. [pg 593] Grandfathers are fond and foolish creatures. But, as I was saying—his independence is so fine—so like himself. Every thing I have will be his. He is my partner now—the bank will be his own at my death, madam. A prosperous concern. Many of our neighbours would like to have a finger in the pie; but Abraham Allcraft knows what he is about. I'll not burden him with partners. He shall have it all—every thing—he is worthy of it, if it were ten tines as much—he can do as he likes—when I am cold and mouldering in the grave; but he must not owe any thing to the lady of his heart, but his attention, and his kindness, and his dear love. I know my spirited and high-minded boy."

Yes, and he knew human nature generally—knew its weaknesses and faults—and lived upon them. His words require but little explanation. The wedding-day had not been fixed. The ceremony once over, and his mind would be at rest. "It was a consummation devoutly to be wished." Why? He knew well enough. Michael had proposed the day, but she asked for time, and he refrained from further importunity. His love and delicacy forbade his giving her one moment's pain. Abraham was less squeamish. His long experience told him that some good reason must exist for such a wish to dwell in the young bosom of the blooming widow. It was unnatural and foreign to young blood. It could be nothing else than the fear of parting with her wealth—of placing all at the command of one, whom, though she loved, she did not know that she might trust. Satisfied of this, he resolved immediately to calm her apprehensions, and to assure her that not one farthing of her fortune should pass from her control. He spoke of his son as a man of wealth already, too proud to accept another's gold, even were he poor. Perhaps he was. Margaret at least believed so. Abraham did not quit her till the marriage day was settled.

He returned from the widow in ecstasy, and called his son to his own snug private room.

"I have done it for you, Michael," said the father, rubbing his grasping hands—it's done—it's settled, lad. Two months' patience, and the jewel is your own. Thank your father, on your knees—oh, lucky Mike! But mark me, boy. I have had enough to do. My guess was right. She was afraid of us, but her fears are over. Till I told her that the bank would make you rich without her, there was no relenting, I assure you.

"You said so, father, did you?" asked the son.

"Yes—I did. Remember that Mike when I am dead—remember what I have done for you—put a fortune in your pocket, and given you an angel—remember that, Mike, and respect my memory. Don't let the world laugh at your father, and call him ugly names. You can prevent it if you like. A son is bound to assert his father's honour, living or dead, at any price."

"He is, sir," answered Michael.

"I knew, Mike, that would be your answer. You are a noble fellow—don't forget me when I am under ground; not that I mean to die yet no—no—I feel a score of years hanging about me still. I shall dandle a dozen of your young ones before these arms are withered. I shall live to see you—a peer of the realm. That money—with your talents, Mike, will command a dukedom."

"I am not ambitious, father."

"You lie—you are, Mike. You have got your father's blood in you. You would risk a great deal to be at the top of the tree; so would I. Would I? Haven't I? We shall see, Mike—we shall see. But it isn't wishing that will do it. The clearest head—the best exertions must sometimes give in to circumstances; but then, my boy, there is one comfort, those who come after us can repair our faults, and profit by our experience. That thought gives us courage, and makes us go forward. Don't forget, Mike, I say, what I have done for you, when you are a rich and titled man!"

"I hope, father, I shall never forget my duty."

"I am sure you won't, Mike—and there's an end of it. Let us speak of something else. Now, when you are married, boy, I shall often come to see you. You'll be glad to have me, sha'n't you?"

"Is it necessary to ask the question?"

"No, it isn't, but I am happy to-night, and I am in a humour to talk and dream. You must let me have [pg 594] my own room—and call it Abraham's sanctum. A good name, eh? I will come when I like, and go when I like—eat, drink, and be merry, Mike. How white with envy Old Varley will get, when he sees me driving to business in my boy's carriage. A pretty match he made of it—that son of his married the cook, and sent her to a boarding-school. Stupid fool!"

"Young Varley is a worthy fellow, father."

"Can't be—can't be—worthy fellows don't marry cooks. But don't stop me in my plans. I said you should give me my own room, Mike—and so you shall—and every Wednesday shall be a holiday. We'll be in the country together, and shoot and fish, and hunt, and do what every body else does. We'll be great men, Mike, and we'll enjoy ourselves."

And so the man went on, elevated by the circumstances of the day, and by the prospects of the future, until he became intoxicated with his pleasure. On the following morning he rose just as elated, and went to business like a boy to play. About noon, he was talking to a farmer in his quiet back room, endeavouring to drive a hard bargain with the man, whom a bad season had already rendered poor. He spoke loud and fast—until, suddenly, a spasm at the heart caught and stopped him. His eyes bolted from their sockets—the parchment skin of his face grew livid and blue. He staggered for an instant, and then dropped dead at the farmer's foot. The doctors were not wrong when they pronounced the banker's heart diseased. A week after this sudden and awful visitation, all that remained of Abraham Allcraft was committed to the dust, and Michael discovered, to his surprise and horror, that his father had died an insolvent and a beggar.



Abraham Allcraft, with all his base and sordid habits, was a beggar. His gluttony had been too powerful for his judgment, and he had speculated beyond all computation. His first hit had been received in connexion with some extensive mines. At the outset they had promised to realize a princely fortune. All the calculations had been made with care. The most wary and experienced were eager for a share in the hoped for el dorado, and Abraham was the greediest of any. In due time the bubble burst, carrying with it into air poor Abraham's hard-earned fifty thousand pounds, and his hearty execrations. Such a loss was not to be repaired by the slow-healing process of legitimate business. Information reached him respecting an extensive manufactory in Glasgow. Capabilities of turning half a million per annum existed in the house, and were unfortunately dormant simply because the moving principle was wanting. With a comparatively moderate capital, what could not be effected? Ah, what? Had you listened to the sanguine manufacturer your head would have grown giddy with his magnificent proposals, as Allcraft's had, to the cost of his unhappy self, and still unhappier clients. As acting is said to be not a bare servile exhibition of nature, but rather an exalted and poetic imitation of the same, so likewise are the pictures of houses, the portraits of geniuses, the representations of business facts, and other works of art which undertake to copy truth, but only embellish it and render it most grateful to the eye. Nothing could look more substantial than the Glasgow manufactory on paper. A prettier painting never charmed the eye of speculating amateur. Allcraft was caught. Ten thousand pounds, which had been sent out to bring the fifty thousand back, never were seen again. The manufacturer decamped—the rickety house gave way, and failed. From this period Allcraft entangled himself more and more in schemes for making money rapidly and by great strokes, and deeper he fell into the slough of difficulty and danger. His troubles were commencing when he heard of Mildred's serious illness, and the certainty of his speedy death. With an affectionate solicitude, he mentally disposed of the splendid [pg 595] fortune which the sick man could not possibly take with him, and contrived a plan for making it fill up the gaps which misfortune had opened in the banking-house. This was a new speculation, and promised more than all the rest. Every energy was called forth—every faculty. His plans we already know—his success has yet to be discovered. Abraham did not die intestate. He left a will, bequeathing to Michael, his son and heir, a rotten firm, a dishonourable name, a history of dishonesty, a nest of troubles. Accompanying his will, there was a letter written in Allcraft's hand to Michael, imploring the young man to act a child's part by his unhappy parent. The elder one urged him by his love and gratitude to save his name from the discredit which an exposure of his affairs must entail upon it; and not only upon it, he added, but upon the living also. He had procured for him, he said, an alliance which he would never have aspired to—never would have obtained, had not his father laboured so hardly for his boy's happiness and welfare. With management and care, and a gift from his intended wife, nothing need be said—no exposure would take place—the house would retain its high character, and in the course of a very few years recover its solvency and prosperity. A fearful list of the engagements was appended, and an account of every transaction in which the deceased had been concerned. Michael read and read again every line and word, and he stood thunderstruck at the disclosure. He raved against his father, swore he would do nothing for the man who had so shamefully involved himself; and, not content with his own ruin, had so wickedly implicated him. This was the outbreak of the excited youth, but he sobered down, and, in a few hours, the creature of impulse and impetuosity had argued himself into the expediency of adapting his conduct to existing circumstances—of stooping, in short, to all the selfishness and meanness that actuate the most unfeeling and the least uncalculating of mortals. If there were wanting, as, thank Heaven, there is not, one proof to substantiate the fact, that no rule of life is safe and certain save that made known in the translucent precepts of our God—no species of thought free from hurt or danger—no action secure from ill or mischief, except all thoughts and actions that have their origin in humble, loving, strict obedience to the pleasure and the will of Heaven; if any one proof, I say, were wanting, it would be easy to discover it in the natural perverse and inconsistent heart of man. A voice louder than the preacher's—the voice of daily, hourly experience—proclaims the melancholy fact, that no amount of high-wrought feeling, no loftiness of speech, no intensity of expression, is a guarantee for purity of soul and conduct, when obedience, simple, childlike obedience, has ceased to be the spring of every motion and every aim. Reader, let us grapple with this truth! We are servants here on earth, not masters! subjects, and not legislators! Infants are we all in the arms of a just father! The command is from elsewhere—obedience is with us. If you would be happy, I charge you, fling away the hope of finding security or rest in laws of your own making in a system which you are pleased to call a code of honour—honour that grows cowardlike and pale in the time of trial—that shrinks in the path of duty—that slinks away unarmed and powerless, when it should be nerved and ready for the righteous battle. Where are the generous sentiments—the splendid outbursts—the fervid eloquence with which Michael Allcraft was wont to greet the recital of any one short history of oppression and dishonesty? Where are they now, in the first moments of real danger, whilst his own soul is busy with designs as base as they are cowardly? Nothing is easier for a loquacious person than to talk. How glibly Michael could declaim against mankind before the fascinating Margaret, we have seen; how feelingly against the degenerate spirit of commerce, and the back-slidings of all professors of religion. Surely, he who saw and so well depicted the vices of the age, was prepared for adversity and its temptations! Not he, nor any man who prefers to be the slave of impulse rather than the child of reason. After a day's deliberation, he had resolved upon two things—first, not to expose himself to the pity or derision of men, as it might chance to be, by [pg 596] proclaiming the insolvency of his deceased father and secondly, not to risk the loss of Margaret, by acknowledging himself to be a beggar. His father had told him—he remembered the words well that she was induced to name the wedding-day, only upon receiving the assurance of his independence. Not to undeceive her now, would be to wed her under false pretences; but to free her from deception, would be to free her from her plighted word, and this his sense of honour would not let him do. I will not say that Michael grossly and unfeelingly proposed to circumvent—to cheat and rob the luckless Margaret; or that his conscience, that mighty law unto itself, did not wince before it held its peace. There were strugglings and entreaties, and patchings up, and excuses, and all the appliances which precede the commission of a sinful act. Reasons for honesty and disinterestedness were converted for the occasion into justifications of falsehood and artifice. A paltry regard for himself and his own interests was bribed to take the shape of filial duty and affection. The result of all his cogitation and contrivances was one great plan. He would not take from his Margaret's fortune. No, under existing circumstances it would be wrong, unpardonable; but at the same time he was bound to protect his father's reputation. The engagement with the widow must go on. He could not yield the prize; life without her would not be worth the having. What was to be done, then? Why, to wed, and to secure the maintenance of the firm by means which were at his command. Once married to the opulent Mrs Mildred, and nothing would be easier than to obtain men of the first consideration in the county to take a share of his responsibilities. Twenty, whom he could name, would jump at the opportunity and the offer. The house stood already high in the opinion of the world. What would it be with the superadded wealth of the magnificent widow? The private debts of his father were a secret. His parsimonious habits had left upon the minds of people a vague and shadowy notion of surpassing riches; Had he not been rich beyond men's calculation, he would not have ventured to live so meanly. Michael derived support from the general belief, and resolved most secularly to take a full advantage of it. If he could but procure one or two monied men as partners in the house, the thing was settled. Matters would be snug—the property secured. The business must increase. The profits would enable him in time to pay off his father's liabilities, and if, in the meanwhile, it should be deemed expedient to borrow from his wife, he might do so safely, satisfied that he could repay the loan, at length, with interest. Such was the outline of Michael Allcraft's scheme. His spirit was quiet as soon as it was concocted, and he reposed upon it for a season as tired men sleep soundly on a bed of straw.

Whilst the bridegroom was distressed with his peculiar grievances, the lovely bride was doomed to submit to annoyances scarcely less painful. Her late husband's friend, Doctor Wilford, who had been abroad for many months, suddenly returned home, and, in fulfilment of Mildred's dying wish, repaired without delay to the residence of his widow. Wilford had seen a great deal of the world. He did not expect to find the bereaved one inconsolable, but he was certainly staggered to behold her busy in preparations for a second marriage. Indignant at what he conceived to be an affront upon the memory of his friend, he argued and remonstrated against her indecent haste, and besought her to postpone the unseemly union. Roused by all he saw, the faithful friend spoke warmly on the deceased's behalf, and painted in the strongest colours he could employ, the enormity of her transgression. Now Margaret loved Michael as she had never loved before. Slander could not open its lying lips to speak one word against the esteem and gratitude she had ever entertained for Mildred but esteem and gratitude—I appeal to the best, the most virtuous and moral of my readers—cannot put out the fire that nature kindles in the adoring heart of woman. Her error was not that she loved Michael more, but that she had loved Mildred less. Ambition, if it usurp the rights of love, must look for all the punishment that love inflicts. Sooner or later it must come. "Who are you?" enquires the little god of the greater god, ambition, "that you should march [pg 597] into my realms, and create rebellion there? Wait but a little." Short was the interval between ambition's crime and love's revenge with our poor Margaret. Wilford might never know how cruelly his bitter words wrung her smitten soul. She did not answer him. Paler she grew with every reproach—deeper was the self-conviction with every angry syllable. She wept until he left her, and then she wrote to Michael. As matters stood, and with their present understanding—he was perhaps her best adviser. Wilford called to see her on the following day—but Margaret's door was shut against him, and she beheld her husband's friend no more.

And the blissful day came on—slowly, at last, to the happy lovers—for happy they were in each other's sight, and in their passionate attachment. And the blissful day arrived. Michael led her to the altar. A hundred curious eyes looked on, admired, and praised, and envied. He might be proud of his possession, were she unendowed with any thing but that incomparable, unfading loveliness. And he, with his young and vigorous form, was he not made for that rare plant to clasp and hang upon? "Heaven bless them both!" So said the multitude, and so say I, although I scarce can hope it; for who shall dare to think that Heaven will grant its benediction on a compact steeped in earthliness, and formed without one heavenward view!


I knew, my dear Eusebius, how delighted you would be with that paper in Maga on "Woman's Rights." It was balm to your Quixotic spirit. Though your limbs are a little rheumatic, and you do not so often as you were wont, when your hair was black as raven's wing, raise your hands to take down the armour that you have long since hung up, you know and feel with pride that it has been charmed by due night-watchings, and will yet serve many a good turn, should occasion require your service for woman in danger. Then, indeed, would you buckle on in defence of all or any that ever did, or did not, "buckle to." Then would come a happy cure to aching bones—made whole with honourable bruises, oblivious of pain, the "brachia livida," lithesome and triumphant. Your devotion to the sex has been seasoned under burning sun and winter frost, and has yet vital heat against icy age, come on fast as it will. You would not chill, Eusebius, though you were hours under a pump in a November night, and lusty arms at work watering your tender passion.

I know you. Rebecca and her daughters had a good word, a soft word from you, till you found out their beards. No mercy with them after that with you—the cowardly disguise—pike for pike was the cry. It was laughable to see you, and to hear you, as you brought a battery that could never reach them—fired upon them the reproach of Diogenes to an effeminate—"If he was offended with nature for making him a man, and not a woman;" and the affirmation of the Pedasians, from your friend Herodotus, that, whenever any calamity befell them, a prodigious beard grew on the chin of the priestess of Minerva. You ever thought a man in woman's disguise a profanation—a woman in man's a horror. The fair sex were never, in your eyes, the weaker and the worse; how oft have you delighted in their outward grace and moral purity, contrasting them with gross man, gloriously turning the argument in their favour by your new emphasis—"Give every man his deserts, and who shall escape whipping"—satisfying yourself, and every one else, that good, true, woman-loving Shakspeare must have meant the passage so to be read. And do you remember a whole afternoon maintaining, that the well-known song of "Billy Taylor" was a serious, true, good, epic poem, in eulogy of the exploits of a glorious woman, and in no way ridiculous to those whose language it spoke; and when we all gave it against you, how you turned [pg 598] round upon the poor author, and said he ought to have the bastinado at the soles of his feet?

And if an occasional disappointment, a small delinquency in some feminine character did now and then happen, and a little sly satire would force its way, quietly too, out of the sides of your mouth, how happily would you instantly disown it, fling it from you as a thing not yours, then catch at it, and sport with it as if you could afford to sport with it, and thereby show it was no serious truth, and pass it off with the passage from Dryden—

"Madam, these words are chanticleer's, not mine;

I honour dames, and think their sex divine!"

No human being ever collected so many of the good sayings and doings of women as you, Eusebius. I am not, then, surprised that, having read the "Rights of Women," you are come to the determination to take up "The Wrongs of Women." The wrongs of women, alas!

——"Adeo sunt multa loquacem

Delassare valent Fabium."

And so you write to me, to supply you with some sketches from nature, instances of the "Wrongs of Woman." Ah me! Does not this earth teem with them—the autumnal winds moan with them? The miseries want a good hurricane to sweep them off the land, and the dwellings the "foul fiend" hath contaminated. Man's doing, and woman's suffering, and thence even arises the beauty of loveliness—woman's patience. In the very palpable darkness besetting the ways of domestic life, woman's virtue walks forth loveliest—

"Virtue gives herself light, through darkness for to wade."

The gentle Spenser, did he not love woman's virtue, and weep for her wrongs? You, Eusebius, were wont ever to quote his tender lament:—

"Naught is there under heaven's wide hollowness

That moves more clear compassion of mind

Than beauty brought to unworthy wretchedness

By envy's frowns or fortune's freaks unkind.

I, whether lately through her brightness blind,

Or through allegiance and fast fealty,

Which I do owe unto all womankind,

Feel my heart pierced with so great agony,

When such I see, that all for pity I could die."

This melting mood will not long suit your mercurial spirit. You used to say that the fairies were all, in common belief, creatures feminine, hence deservedly called "good people,"—that they made the country merry, and kept clowns in awe, and were better for the people's morals than a justice of the peace. They tamed the savage, and made him yield, and bow before feminine feet. Sweet were they that hallowed the brown hills, and left tokens of their visits, blessing all seasons to the rustic's ear, whispering therein softly at nightfall—

"Go, take a wife unto thy arms, and see

Winter and brownie-hills shall have a charm for thee."

Such was your talk, Eusebius, passing off your discontent of things that are, into your inward ideal, rejoicing in things unreal, breaking out into your wildest paradox—"What is the world the better for all its boasted truth! It has belied man's better nature. Faith, trust, belief, is the better part of him, the spiritual of man; and who shall dare to say that its creations, visible, or invisible, all felt, acknowledged as vital things, are not realities?" All this—in your contempt for beadles and tip-staves, even overseers and churchwardens, and all subdividing machinery of country government, that, when it came in and fairly established itself, drove away the "good people," and with them merriment and love, and sweet fear, from off the earth—that twenty wheedling, flattering Autolycuses did not do half the hurt to morals or manners that one grim-visaged justice did—the curmudgeon, you called him, Eusebius, that would, were they now on earth, and sleeping all lovely with their pearly arms together, locked in leafy bower, have Cupid and Psychè taken up under the Vagrant Act, or have them lodged in [pg 599] a "Union House" to be disunited. You thought the superstition of the world as it was, far above the knowledge it now brags of. You admired the Saxons and Danes in their veneration of the predictions of old women, whom the after ungallantry of a hard age would have burned for witches. Marriage act and poor act have, as you believe, extinguished the holy light of Hymen's torch, and re-lighted it with Lucifer matches in Register offices; and out it soon goes, leaving worse than Egyptian darkness in the dwellings of the poor—the smell of its brimstone indicative of its origin, and ominous of its ending.

I verily believe, Eusebius, you would have spared Don Quixote's whole library, and have preferred committing the curate to the flames. Your dreams, even your day-dreams, have hurried you ever far off and away from the beaten turnpike-road of life, through forests of enchantment, to rescue beauty which you never saw, from knight-begirt and dragon-guarded castles; and little thankful have you been when you have opened your eyes awake in peace to the cold light of our misnamed utilitarian day, and found all your enchantment broken, the knights discomfited, the dragon killed, the drawbridge broken down, and the ladies free—all without your help; and then, when you have gone forth, and in lieu of some rescued paragon of her sex, you have met but the squire's daughter, in her trim bonnet, tripping with her trumpery to set up her fancy-shop in Vanity-Fair, for fops to stare at through their glasses, your imagination has felt the shock, and incredulous of the improvement in manners and morals, and overlooking all advancement of knowledge, all the advantages of their real liberty, momentarily have you wished them all shut up in castles, or in nunneries, to be the more adored till they may chance to be rescued. But soon would the fit go off—and the first sweet, innocent, lovely smile that greeted you, restored your gentleness, and added to your stock of love. And once, when some parish shame was talked of, you never would believe it common, and blamed the Overseer for bringing it to light—and vindicated the sex by quoting from Pennant, how St Werberg lived immaculate with her husband Astardus, copying her aunt, the great Ethelreda, who lived for three years with not less purity with her good man Tonberetus, and for twelve with her second husband the pious Prince Egfrid: and the churchwarden left the vestry, lifting up his hands, and saying—"Poor gentleman!"—and you laughed as if you had never laughed before, when you heard it, and heartily shook him by the hand to convince him you were in your senses; which action he nevertheless put to the credit of the soundness of your heart, and not a bit to that of your head. You saw it—and immediately, with a trifling flaw in the application quite worthy yourself, reminded me of a passage in a letter from Lord Bolingbroke to Swift, that "The truest reflection, and at the same time the bitterest satire, which can be made on the present age, is this, that to think as you think, will make a man pass for romantic. Sincerity, constancy, tenderness, are rarely to be found. They are so much out of use, that the man of mode imagines them to be out of nature." So insane and romantic, you added, are synonymous terms to this incredulous, this matter-of-fact world, that, like the unbelieving Thomas, trusts in, believes in nothing that it does not touch and handle. Your partiality for days of chivalry blinds you a little. The men were splendid—women shone with their reflected splendour—you see them through an illuminated haze, and, as you were not behind the curtain, imagine their minds as cultivated as their beauty was believed to be great. The mantle of chivalry hid all the wrongs, but the particular ones from which they rescued them. If the men are worse, our women are far better—more like those noble Roman ladies, intellectual and high-minded, whom you have ever esteemed the worthiest of history. Then women were valued. Valerius Maximus gives the reason why women had the upper-hand. After the mother of Coriolanus and other Roman women had preserved their country, how could the senate reward them?—"Sanxit uti foeminis semitâ viri cederent—permisit quoque his purpureâ veste et aureis uti segmentis." It was sanctioned by the senate, you perceive, that men should yield the wall to the sex, in honour, and that they should [pg 600] be allowed the distinction of purple vests and golden borders—privileges the female world still enjoy. Yet in times you love to applaud, the paltry interference of men would have curtailed one of these privileges. For a mandate was issued by the papal legate in Germany in the 14th century, decreeing, that "the apparel of women, which ought to be consistent with modesty, but now, through their foolishness, is degenerated into wantonness and extravagance, more particularly the immoderate length of their petticoats, with which they sweep the ground, be restrained to a moderate fashion, agreeably to the decency of the sex, under pain of the sentence of excommunication." "Velamina etiam mulierum, quæ ad verecundiam designandam eis sunt concessa, sed nunc, per insipientiam earum, in lasciviam et luxuriam excreverunt, it immoderata longitudo superpelliccorum quibus pulverem trahunt, ad moderatum usum, sicut decet verecundiam sexus, per excommunicationis sententiam cohibeantur."

Excommunication, indeed! Not even the church could have carried on that war long. Every word of this marks the degradation to which those monkish times would have made the sex submit, "velamina concessa insipientiam earum!" and pretty well for men of the cloth of that day's make, to speak of women's "lasciviam et luxuriam," when, perhaps, the hypocritical mandate arose from nothing but a desire in the coelibatists themselves to get a sly peep at the neatly turned feet and ankles of the women. One would almost think the old nursery song of

—"The beggar whose name was Stout,

He cut her petticoats all round about,

He cut her petticoats far above her knee, &c.,"

was written to perpetuate the mandate. Certainly a "Stout beggar was the Papal church." "Consistent with modesty," "sicut decet verecundiam sexus;" nothing can beat that bare-faced hypocrisy. So when afterwards the sex shortened their petticoats, other Simon Pures start up and put them in the stocks for immodesty. Poor women! Here was a wrong, Eusebius. Long or short, they were equally immodest. Immodest, indeed! Nature has clad them with modesty and temperance—their natural habit—other garment is conventional. I admire what Oelian says of Phocion's wife.

"[Greek: Aempeicheto de protae tae sophrosunae

deuterois ge maen tois parosi.]"

"She first arrayed herself in temperance, and then put on what was necessary." Every seed of beauty is sown by modesty. It is woman's glory, "[Greek: hae gar aidos anthos epispeirei]," says Clearchus in his first book of Erotics, quoting from Lycophronides. The appointment of magistrates at Athens, [Greek: gunaichochosmoi], to regulate the dress of women, was a great infringement on their rights—the origin of men-milliners. You are one, Eusebius, who

"Had rather hear the tedious tales

Of Hollingshed, than any thing that trenches

On love."

I remember how, in contempt of the story of the Ephesian matron, you had your Petronius interleaved, and filled it with anecdotes of noble virtue, till the comment far exceeded the text—then, finding your excellent women in but bad company, you tore out the text of Petronius, and committed it to the flames. Preserve your precious catalogue of female worthies—often have you lamented that of Hesiod was lost, of all the [Greek: Hoiai megalai] Alcmena alone remaining, and you will not make much boast of her. How far back would you go for the wrongs of women—do you intend to write a library—a library in a series of novels in three volumes—what are all that are published but "wrongs of women?" Could but the Lion have written! Books have been written by men, and be sure they have spared themselves—and yet what a catalogue of wrongs we have from the earliest date! Even the capture of Helen was not with her consent; and how lovely she is! and how indicative is that wondrous history of a high chivalrous spirit and admiration of woman in those days! Old Priam and all his aged council pay her reverence. Menelaus is the only one of the Grecian heroes that had no other wife or mistress—here was devotion and constancy! Andromache has been, and ever will be, the pride of the world. Yet the less refined dramatist has told of her wrongs; for he puts into her mouth a dutiful acquiescence in the [pg 601] gallantries of Hector. Little can be said for the men. Poor old Priam we must pardon, if Hecuba could and did; for Priam told her that he had nineteen children by her, and many others by the concubines in his palace. He had enough, too, upon his hands—yet found time for all things—"[Greek: horae eran, horae de gamein, horae de pepausthai]." How lovely is Penelope, and how great her wrongs!—and the lovely Nausicaa complains of scandal. But great must have been the deference paid to women; for Nausicaa plainly tells Ulysses, that her mother is every thing and every body. People have drawn a very absurd inference to the contrary, from the fact of the princess washing the clothes. That operation may have been as fashionable then as worsted work now, and clothes then were not what clothes are now—there were no Manchesters, and those things were rare and precious, handed down to generations, and given as presents of honour. You have shed tears over the beautiful, noble-hearted Iphigenia—wronged even to death. Glorious was the age that could find an Alcestis to suffer her great wrong! Such women honour human nature, and make man himself better. Oh, how infinitely less selfish are they than we are—confiding, trusting—with a fortitude for every sacrifice! We have no trust like theirs, no confidence—are jealous, suspicious, even on the wedding-day. You quite roared with delight when you heard of a fool, who, mistrusting himself and his bride, tried his fortune after the fashion of the Sortes Virgilianæ, by dipping into Shakspeare on his wedding-day and finding

"Not poppy nor mandragora,

Nor all the drowsy syrups of the East,

Shall ever med'cine to thee that sweet sleep

Which thou ow'dst yesterday."

You have rather puzzled me, Eusebius, by giving me so wide a field of enquiry—woman's wrongs; of what kind—of ancient or modern times—general or particular? You should have arranged your objects. It is you that are going to write this "Family Library," not I. For my own part, I should have been contented in walking into the next village, an unexpected guest, to the houses of rich and poor—do you think you would have wanted materials? But forewarned is forearmed—and few will "tell the secrets of their prison-house," if you take them with a purpose. On your account, in this matter, I have written to six ladies of my acquaintance, three married and three single. Two of the married have replied that they have nothing to complain of—not a wrong. The third bids me ask her husband. So I put her down as ambiguous—perhaps she wishes to give him a hint through me; I am wise, and shall hold my tongue. Of the unmarried, one says she has received no wrong, but fears she may have inflicted some—another, that as she is going to be married on Monday, she cannot conceive a wrong, and cannot possibly reply till after the honeymoon. The third replies, that it is very wrong in me to ask her. But stay a moment—here is a quarrel going on—two women and a man—we may pick up something. "Rat thee, Jahn," says a stout jade, with her arm out and her fist almost in Jahn's face, "I wish I were a man—I'd gie it to thee!" She evidently thinks it a wrong that she was born a woman—and upon my word, by that brawny arm, and those masculine features, there does appear to have been a mistake in it. If you go to books—I know your learning—you will revert to your favourite classical authorities. Helen of Troy calls herself by a sad name, "[Greek: chuon os eimi]," dog (feminine) as I am—her wrongs must, therefore, go to no account. I know but of one who really takes it in hand to catalogue them, and she is Medea. "We women," says she, "are the most wretched of living creatures." For first—of women—she must buy her husband, pay for him with all she has—secondly, when she has bought him, she has bought a master, one to lord it over her very person—thirdly, the danger of buying a bad one—fourthly, that divorce is not creditable—fifthly, that she ought to be a prophetess, and is not to know what sort of a man he is to whose house she is to go, where all is strange to her—sixthly, that if she does not like her home, she must not leave it, nor look out for sympathising friends—seventhly, that she must have the pains and troubles of bearing children—eighthly, she gives up country, home, parents, friends, for one husband—and perhaps a bad one. So much for Medea and her list; had she lived in [pg 602] modern times it might have been longer; but she was of too bold a spirit to enter into minutiæ. Hers, too, are the wrongs of married life. Nor on this point the wise son of Sophroniscus makes the man the sufferer. "Neither," he says, "can he who marries a wife tell if he shall have cause to rejoice thereat." He had most probably at that moment Xantippe in his eye. You remember how pleasantly Addison, in the Spectator, tells the story of a colony of women, who, disgusted with their wrongs, had separated themselves from the men, and set up a government of their own. That there was a fierce war between them and the men—that there was a truce to bury the dead on either side—that the prudent male general contrived that the truce should be prolonged; and during the truce both armies had friendly intercourse—on some pretence or other the truce was still lengthened, till there was not one woman in a condition, or with an inclination, to take up her wrongs—not one woman was any longer a fighting man—they saw their errors—they did not, as the fable says we all do, cast the burden of their own faults behind them, but bravely carried them before them—made peace, and were righted.

We would not, Eusebius, have all their wrongs righted—so lovely is the moral beauty of their wonderful patience in enduring them. What—if they were in a condition to legislate and impose upon us some of their burdens, or divide them with us? What man of your acquaintance could turn dry-nurse—tend even his own babes twelve hours out of the twenty-four?

A pretty head-nurse would my Eusebius make in an orphan asylum. I should like to see you with twins in your arms, both crying into your sensitive ears, and you utterly ignorant of their wants and language. And I do think your condition will be almost as bad, if you publish your catalogue of wrongs in your own name. By all means preserve an incognito. You will be besieged with wrongs—will be the only "Defender of the Faithful"—not knight-errant, for you may stay at home, and all will come to you for redress. You will be like the author, or rather translator, of the Arabian Tales, whose window was nightly assailed, and slumber broken in upon, by successive troops of children, crying "Monsieur Galland if you are not asleep, get up—come and tell us one of those pretty stories." Keep your secret. Now, the mention of the Arabian Tales reminds me of Sinbad—there is a true picture of man's cowardice; what loathsome holes did he not creep into to make his escape when the wife of his bosom was sick, and he understood the law that he was to be buried with her. It is all very well, in the sick chamber, for the husband to say to his departing partner for life—"Wait, my dearest—I will go with you." She is sure, as La Fontaine says in his satire, reversing the case, "to take the journey alone." This is all talk on the man's side—but see what the master of the slave woman has actually imposed upon her as a law. The Hindoo widow ascends the funeral pile, and is burnt rejoicing. What male creature ever thought of enduring this for his wife?—this wrong, for it is a grievous wrong thus to tempt her superior fortitude. It was not without reason that, in the heathen mythology, (and it shows the great advancement of civilization when and wherever it was conceived,) were deified all great and noble qualities in the image of the sex. What are Juno, Minerva, and Venus, but acknowledgments of the strength, wisdom, fortitude, beauty, and love, of woman, while their male deities have but borrowed attributes and ambiguous characters? It is a deference—perhaps unintentionally, unconsciously—paid to the sex, that in every language the soul itself, and all its noblest virtues, and the personification of all virtue, are feminine.

I supposed woman the legislatrix—what reason have we to say she would enact a wrong? The story of the mother of Papirius is not against her; for in that case there was only a choice of evils. It is from Aulus Gellius, as having been told and written by M. Cato in the oration which he made to the soldiers against Galba. The mother of young Papirius, who had accompanied his father into the senate-house, as was usual formerly for sons to do who had taken the toga prætexta, enquired of her son what the senate had been doing; the youth replied, that he had been enjoined silence. This answer made her the more importunate and he adopted this humorous fallacy—that it had been discussed in the senate which would be most beneficial to the state, for one [pg 603] man to have two wives, or for one woman to have two husbands? Hearing this, she left the house in no small trepidation, and went to tell other matrons what she had heard. The next day a troop of matrons went to the senate-house, and implored, with tears in their eyes, that one woman might be suffered to have two husbands, rather than one man have two wives. The senate honoured the young Papirius with a special law in his favour; they should rather have conferred honour upon his mother and the other matrons for their disinterested virtue, who were content to submit themselves to so great an evil, I may say wrong, as to have imposed upon them two masters instead of one. Not that you, Eusebius, ever entertained an idea that women are wronged by not being admitted to a share of legislation. I will not suppose you to be that liberal fool. But you are aware that such a scheme has been, and is still entertained. I believe there is a Miss Somebody now going about our towns, lecturing on the subject, and she is probably worthy to be one of the company of the "Ecclesiagusæ." This idea is not new. The other day I hit upon a letter in the Gentleman's Magazine for the year 1740 on the subject, by which you will see there was some amusement about it a century ago:—


"Sir,—I am a mournful relict of five husbands, and the happy mother of twenty-seven children, the tender pledges of our chaste embraces. Had old Rome, instead of England, been the place of my nativity and abode, what honours might I not have expected to my person, and immunities to my fortune? But I need not tell you that virtue of this sort meets with no encouragement in our northern climate. Children, instead of freeing us from taxes increase the weight of them, and matrimony is become the jest of every coxcomb. Nor could I allow, till very lately, that an old bachelor, as you profess yourself to be, had any just pretence to be called a patriot. Don't think that I mean to offer myself to you; for I assure you that I have refused very advantageous proposals since the decease of my last poor spouse, who hath been dead near five months. I have no design at present of altering my condition again. Few women are so happy as to meet with five good husbands, and therefore I should be glad to devote the remaining part of my life to the good of my country and family, in a more public and active station than that of a wife, according to your late scheme for a septennial administration of women. But I think you ought to have enforced your project with some instances of illustrious females, who have appeared in the foremost classes of life, not only for heroic valour, but likewise for several branches of learning, wisdom, and policy—such as Joan of Naples, the Maid of Orleans, Catherine de Medicis, Margaret of Mountfort, Madame Dacier, Mrs Behn, Mrs Manly, Mrs Stephens, Doctor of Physic, Mrs Mapp, Surgeon, the valiant Mrs Ross, Dragoon, and the learned Mrs Osborne, Politician. I had almost forgot the present Queen of Spain, who hath not only an absolute ascendant over the counsels of her husband, but hath often outwitted the greatest statesmen, as they fancy themselves, of another kingdom, which hath already felt the effects of her petticoat government.

"If we look back into history, a thousand more instances might be brought of the same kind; but I think those already mentioned sufficient to prove, that the best capacities of our sex are by no means inferior to the best capacities of yours; and the triflers of either sex are not designed to be the subject of this letter. But much as our sex are obliged to you, in general, for your proposal, I have one material objection against it; for I think you have carried the point a little too far, by excluding all males from the enjoyment of any office, dignity, or employment; for as they have long engrossed the public administration of the government to themselves, (a few women only excepted,) I am apprehensive that they will be loth to part with it, and that if they give us power for seven years, it will be very difficult to get it out of our hands again. I have, therefore, thought of the following expedient, which will almost answer the same purpose—viz. that all power, both legislative and executive, ecclesiastical and civil, may be divided among both sexes; and that they may be equally capable of sitting in Parliament. Is it not absurd that women in England should be capable of inheriting the [pg 604] crown, and yet not intrusted with the representation of a little borough, or so much as allowed to vote for a representative? Is this consistent with the rights of a people, which certainly includes both men and women, though the latter have been generally deprived of their privileges in all countries? I don't mean that the people should be obliged to choose women only, as I said before, for that would be equally hard upon the men—but that the electors should be left at their own liberty; for it is certainly a restraint upon the freedom of elections, that whatever regard a corporation may have for a man of quality's family, if he happened to have no sons or brothers, they cannot testify their esteem for it by choosing his daughters or sisters. I am for no restraint upon the members of either sex; for if the honour, integrity, or great capacity of a fine lady should recommend her to the intimacy or confidence of a Prime Minister, in consequence of which he should get her a place—would it not be very hard that this very act of mutual friendship must render her incapable of doing either him or her country any real service in the senate-house? Is freedom consistent with restraint? or can we propose to serve our country by obstructing the natural operations of love and gratitude? I would not be understood to propose increasing the number of members. Let every county or corporation choose a man or a woman, as they think proper; and if either of the members should be married, let it be in the power of the constituents to return both husband and wife as one member, but not to sit at the same time; from whence would accrue great strength to our constitution, by having the house well attended, without the present disagreeable method of frequent calls, and putting several members to the expense and disgrace of being brought up to town in the custody of messengers; for if a country gentleman should like fox-hunting, or any other rural diversion, better than attending his duty in Parliament, let him send up his wife. Or if an officer in the army should be obliged to be at his post in Ireland, the Mediterranean, the West Indies, or aboard the fleet, a thousand leagues off, or upon any public embassy, if his wife should happen to be chosen, never fear that she would do the nation's business, full as well. Besides, in several affairs of great consequence, the resolutions might perhaps be much more agreeable to the tenderness of our sex than the roughness of yours. As, for instance, it hath often been thought unnatural for soldiers to promote peace. When a debate, therefore, of that sort should be to come on, if the soldiers staid at home, and their wives attended, it would very well become the softness of the female sex to show a regard for their husbands; especially if they should be such pretty, smart, young fellows, as make a most considerable figure at a review." The lady writer goes on at some length, that she has a borough of her own, and will be certainly returned whether she marries or not, and will act with inflexible zeal, naïvely adding—"If, therefore, I should hereafter be put into a considerable employment, and fourteen of my sons be advanced in the army; should the ministry provide for the other seven in the Church, Excise Office, or Exchequer; and my poor girls, who are but tender infants at the boarding-school, should have places given to them in the Customs, which they might officiate by deputy—don't imagine that I am under any undue influence if I should happen always to vote with the Ministry." We do not quote further. The letter is signed "MARGERY WELDONE."

It is needless to tell you the wrong done to the sex by the rigour of modern law. You have stamped the foot at it often enough. I mean, not so much the separation in the whimsically-called union houses, for, as husbands go, they may have little to complain of on that score; but that dire injustice which throws upon woman the whole penalty of a mutual crime, of which the instigator is always man. Then, is she not injured by the legislative removal of the sanctity of marriage, by which the man is less bound to her—thinks less of the bond—the vinculum matrimoniæ being, in his mind, one of straw, to her one of iron. And here, Eusebius, a difficulty presents itself which I do not remember ever to have seen met, no, nor even noticed. How can a court ecclesiastical, which from its very constitution and formula of marriage which it receives and sanctions—that marriage is a Divine institution, that man shall not put asunder those by this [pg 605] matrimony made one—I ask, how can such a court deal with cases where the people have not been put together by the only bond of matrimony which the church can allow? But these are painful subjects, and I feel myself wading in deeper water than will be good for one who can't swim without corks, though he be levior cortice; and lighter than cork, too, will be the obligation on the man's side, who has taken trusting woman to one of these registry houses, leaped over a broomstick and called it a marriage. It will soon come to the truth of the old saying, "The first month is the honeymoon or smick-smack, the second is hither and thither; the third is thwick-thwack; the fourth, the devil take them that brought thee and I together."

"Love, light as air, at sight of human ties,

Spreads his light wings, and in a moment flies."

The great walking monster that does the great wrong to women is, depend upon it, Eusebius, the "brute of a husband," called, by courtesy, in higher life, "Sir John Brute." Horace says wittily, that Venus puts together discordant persons and minds with a bitter joke, "sævo mittere cum joco;" it begins a jest, and ends a crying evil. We name the thing that should be good, with an ambiguous sound that gives disagreement to the sense. It is marry-age, or matter o' money. And let any man who is a euphonist, and takes omens from names, attend the publication of banns, he will be quite shocked at the unharmonious combination. Now, you will laugh when I tell you positively, that within a twelvemonth I have heard called the banns of "John Smasher and Mary Smallbones;" no doubt, by this time they are "marrow bones and cleaver," what else could be expected? Did you never note how it has puzzled curates to read the ill-assorted names?

"Serpentes avibus geminantur, tigribus agni."

Then to look at the couples as they come to be bound for life. One would think they had been shaken together hap-hazard, each in a sack. I have met with a quotation from Hermippus who says—"There was at Lacedæmon a very retired hall or dwelling, in which the unmarried girls and young bachelors were confined, till each of the latter, in that obscurity which precluded the possibility of choice, fixed on one, which he was obliged to take as a wife, without portion. Lysander having abandoned that which fell to his lot, to marry another of greater beauty, was condemned to pay a heavy fine." Is there not in the Spectator a story or dream, where every man is obliged to choose a wife unseen, tied up in a sack? At this said Lacedæmon, by the by, women seem to have somewhat ruled the roast, and taken the law, at least before marriage, into their own hands; for Clearchus Solensis, in his adages, reports, that "at Lacedæmon, on a certain festival, the women dragged the unmarried men about the altar, and beat them with their hands, in order that a sense of shame at the indignity of this injury might excite in them a desire to have children of their own to educate, and to choose wives at a proper season for this purpose." Mr Stephens, in his Travels in Yucatan, shows how wives are taken and treated in the New World. "When the Indian grows up to manhood, he requires a woman to make him tortillas, and to provide him warm water for his bath at night. He procures one sometimes by the providence of the master, without much regard to similarity of tastes or parity of age; and though a young man is mated to an old woman, they live comfortably together. If he finds her guilty of any great offence, he brings her up before the master or the alcalde, gets her a whipping, and then takes her under his arm, and goes quietly home with her." This "whipping" the unromantic author considers not at all derogatory to the character of a kind husband, for he adds—"The Indian husband is rarely harsh to his wife, and the devotion of the wife to her husband is always a subject of remark." Some have made it a grave question whether marriages should not be made by the magistrate, and be proclaimed by the town-crier. To imagine which is a wrong and tyranny, and arises from the barbarous custom that no woman shall be the first to tell her mind in matters of affection. Men have set aside the privilege of Leap year; it is as great a nickname as the church's [pg 606] "convocation." We tie her tongue upon the first subject on which she would speak, then impudently call woman a babbler. There is no end, Eusebius, to the wrongs our tongues do the sex. We take up all old, and invent new, proverbs against them. Ungenerous as we are, we learn other languages out of spite, as it were, to abuse them with, and cry out, "One tongue is enough for a woman." We rate them for every thing and at nothing—thus: "He that loseth his wife and a farthing, hath a great loss of his farthing." There's not a natural evil but we contrive to couple them with it. "Wedding and ill-wintering tame both man and beast." I heard a witty invention the other day—it was by a lady, and a wife, and perhaps in her pride. It was asked whence came the saying, that "March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb." "Because," said she, "he meets with Lady Day, and gets his quietus." Whatever we say against them, however, lacks the great essential—truth, and that is why we go on saying, thinking we shall come to it at last. We show more malice than matter. Birds ever peck at the fairest fruit; nay, cast it to the ground, and a man picks it up, tastes it, and says how good is it. He enjoys all good in a good wife, and yet too often complains. He rides a fast mare home to a smiling wife, pats them both in his delight, and calls them both jades—he unbridles the one, and bridles the other. There is no end to it; when one begins with the injustice we do the sex, we may go on for ever, and stick our rhapsodies together "with a hot needle, and a burnt thread," and no good will come of it. It is envy, jealousy—we don't like to see them so much better than ourselves. We dare not tell them what we really think of them, lest they should think less of us. So we speak with a disguise. Sir Walter Scott forgot himself when he spoke of them:—

"Oh woman, in our hours of ease,

Uncertain, coy, and hard to please;"

as if they were stormy peterals, whose appearance indicated shipwreck and troubled waters on the sea of life. Woman's bard, and such he deserves to be entitled, should only have thought of her as the "fair and gentle maid," or the "pleasing wife," placens uxor—the perfectness of man's nature, by whom he is united to goodness, gentleness, the two, man and woman united, making the complete one—as "Mulier est hominis confusio"—malevolent would he be that would mistranslate it "man's confusion," for—

"Madam, the meaning of this Latin is,

That womankind to man is sovereign bliss."—Dryden.

By this "mystical union," man is made "Paterfamilias," that name of truest dignity. See him in that best position, in the old monuments of James's time, kneeling with his spouse opposite at the same table, with their seven sons and seven daughters, sons behind the father, and daughters behind the mother. It is worth looking a day or two beyond the turmoil or even joys of our life, and to contemplate in the mind's eye, one's own post mortem and monumental honour. Such a sight, with all the loving thoughts of loving life, ere this maturity of family repose—is it not enough to make old bachelors gaze with envy, and go and advertise for wives?—each one sighing as he goes, that he has no happy home to receive him—no best of womankind his spouse—no children to run to meet him and devour him with kisses, while secret sweetness is overflowing at his heart and so he beats it like a poor player, and says, that is, if he be a Latinist—

"At non domus accipiet te læta, neque uxor

Optima, nec dulces occurrent oscula nati

Præripère, et tacitâ pectus dulcedine tangent."—Lucret.

But leaving the "gentle bachelor" to settle the matter with himself as he may, I will not be hurried beyond bounds—not bounds of the subject, or what is due to it, but of your patience, Eusebius, who know and feel, more sensibly than I can express, woman's worth. You want to know her wrongs—and you say that I am a sketcher from life. Well, that being the case, though it is painful to dwell upon any case, accept the following sketch from nature; it is a recent event—you may not question the truth—the names I conceal. A sour, sulky, cantankerous fellow, of some fortune, lean, wizened, and little, with one of those parchment complexions that indicate [pg 607] a cold antipathy to aught but self, married a fine generous creature, fair and large in person; neither bride nor bridegroom were in the flower of youth—a flower which, it is hard to say why, is supposed to shed "a purple light of love." After the wedding, the "happy couple" departed to spend the honeymoon among their relations. In such company, the ill-tempered husband is obliged to behave his best—he coldly puts on the polite hypocrite in the presence of others—but, every moment of tête-à-tête, vents maliciously his ill-temper upon his spouse. It happened, that after one day of more remarkably well-acted sweetness, he retired in more than common disgust at the fatigue he had been obliged to endure, to make himself appear properly agreeable. He gets into bed, and instantly tucks up his legs with his knees nigh to his chin, and—detestable little wretch!—throws out a kick with his utmost power against his fair, fat, substantial partner. What is the result? He did not calculate the "vis inertiæ," that a little body kicking against the greater is wont to come off second best—so he kicks himself out of bed, and here ends the comedy of the affair; the rest is tragic enough. Some how or other, in his fall, he broke his neck upon the spot. This was a very awkward affair. The bell is rung, up come the friends; the story is told, nor is it other than they had suspected. It does not end here, for, of course, there must be an inquest. It is an Irish jury. All said it served him right—and so what is the verdict?—Justifiable felo-de-se." Here, Eusebius, you have something remarkable;—one happier at the termination than the commencement of the honeymoon—a widow happier than a bride. She might go forth to the world again, with the sweet reputation of having smothered him with kisses, and killed him with kindness—if the verdict can be concealed; if not, while the husband is buried with the ignominy of "felonious intent," the widow will be but little disconsolate, and universally applauded. To those of any experience, it will not be a cause of wonder how such parties should come together. It is but an instance of the too common "bitter jokes" of Love, or rather Hymen. I only wish, that if ever man try that experiment again, he may meet with precisely the same success; and that if any man marries, determined to fall out with his bride, he may fall out in that very way, and at the very first opportunity.

The next little incident from married life which I mean to give you, will show you the wonderful wit and ingenuity of the sex. Here the parties had been much longer wedded. The poor woman had borne much. The husband thought he had a second Griselda. The case of his tyranny was pretty well known; indeed, the poor wife too often bore marks, that could not be concealed, of the "purple light" of his love—his passion. The gentleman, for such was, I regret to say, his grade of life, invited a number of friends to dine with him, giving directions to his lady that the dinner should be a good one. Behold the guests assembled—grace said—and hear the dialogue:—Husband—"My dear, what is that dish before you?" Wife—"Oh, my dear, it is a favourite dish of yours—stewed eels." Husband—"Then, my dear, I will trouble you." After a pause, during which the husband endeavours in vain to cut through what is before him—Then—Husband—"Why, my dear, what is this—it is quite hard, I cannot get through it." Wife—"Yes, my dear, it is very hard, and I rather wished you to know how hard—it is the horse whip you gave me for breakfast this morning." I will not add a word to it. You, Eusebius, will not read a line more; you are in antics of delight—you cannot keep yourself quiet for joy—you walk up and down—you sit—you rise—you laugh—you roar out. Oh! this is better than the "taming of a shrew." And do you think "a brute of a husband" is so easily tamed? The lion was a gentle beast, and made himself submissive to sweet Una; but the brute of a husband, he is indeed a very hideous and untameable wild-fowl. Poor, good, loving woman is happily content at some thing far under perfection. In a lower grade of life, good wife once told me, that she had had an excellent husband, for that he had never kicked her but twice. On enquiry, I found he died young.—My dear Eusebius, yours ever, and as ever,


[pg 608]



"Have I not in my time heard lions roar?

Have I not heard the sea, puft up with wind,

Rage like an angry boar chafed with sweat?

Have I not heard great ordinance in the field,

And heaven's artillery thunder in the skies?

Have I not in the pitched battle heard

Loud 'larums, neighing steeds, and trumpets clang?"


I found the Jew in his den as usual, and communicated my object, like a man of business, in as few words as possible, and in that tone which showed that I had made up my mind. To my surprise, and, I must own, a little to the chagrin of my vanity, he made no opposition to it whatever. I afterwards ascertained that, on the day before, he had received a proposal of marriage for his daughter from a German millionaire of his own line; and that, as there could be no comparison between a penniless son-in-law, if he came of the blood of all the Paleologi, and one of the tribe of Issachar with his panniers loaded with guineas, the sooner I took my flight the better.

"You are perfectly right," said he, "in desiring to see the Continent; and in Paris you will find the Continent all gathered into a glance, as a French cook gives you a dozen sauces in compounding one fricassee. It happens, curiously enough, that I can just now furnish you with some opportunities for seeing it in the most convenient manner. A person with whom I have had occasional business in Downing Street, has applied to me to name an individual in my confidence, as an attaché to our embassy in France, though, be it understood, without an actual appointment."

I started at this dubious diplomacy.

"This," said he, "only shows that you have still to learn the trade. Let me then tell you, that it is by such persons that all the real work of diplomacy is carried on. Can you suppose that the perfumed and polished young gentlemen who, under the name of secretaries and sub secretaries, superior and inferior attachés, and so forth, haunt the hotels of the embassy, are the real instruments? It is true, they are necessary to the dinners and balls of the embassy. They are useful to drive out the ambassador's horses to air, escort his wife, and dance with his daughters. But the business is uniformly done by somebody of whom nobody knows any thing, but that he is never seen loitering about the ambassador's drawing-room though he has the entrée of his closet; and that he never makes charades, though he corresponds from day to day with the government at home. Of course you will accept the appointment—and now, let me give you your credentials."

He unlocked a cabinet, which, except for its dust and the coating of cobwebs which time had wrought upon it, might have figured in the saloons of the Medici. The succession of springs which he touched, and of secret drawers which started at the touch, might have supplied a little history of Italian intrigue. At last he found the roll of papers which he sought, and having first thrown a glance round the room, as if a spy sat on every chair, he began to unroll them; with a rapid criticism on each as the few first lines met his eye. Every nerve of his countenance was in full play as he looked over those specimens of the wisdom of the wise; It would have been an invaluable study to a Laveter. He had evidently almost forgotten that I was present; and the alternate ridicule and disdain of his powerful physiognomy were assisted, in my comprehension, by notes from time to time—certainly the antipodes of flattery—"paltry knave"—"pompous fool"—"specious swindler." "Ambassador! ay, if we were to send one to a nation of baboons." "Here," said he, throwing, the bundle on the table, "if I did not despise mankind enough already, I have sufficient evidence to throng the pillory. I deal in gold; well, it is only such that can know the world. Hate, ambition, religion—all have their hypocrisies; but money applies the [pg 609] thumbscrew to them all. Want, sir, want, is the master of mankind. There have been men—ay, and women too—within this dungeon, as you think it, whose names would astonish you. Oh! Father Abraham"—

I finished the quotation.—"What fools these Christians are!" He burst into grim laughter. "Here you have the paper," said he, "and I must therefore send you back to the secretary's office. But there you must not be known. Secrecy is essential even to your life. Stabbing in Paris is growing common, and the knowledge that you had any other purpose than gambling, might be repaid by a poniard."

He now prepared his note, and as he wrote, continued his conversation in fragments. "Three-fourths of mankind are mere blunderers, and the more you know of them the more you will be of my opinion. I am by no means sure that we have not some of them in Whitehall itself. Pitt is a powerful man, and he alone keeps them together; without him they would be potsherds.—Pitt thinks that we can go on without a war: he is mistaken. How is it possible to keep Europe in peace, when the Continent is as rotten as thatch, and France as combustible as gunpowder?—The minister is a man of wonders, but he cannot prevent thirty millions of maniacs from playing their antics until they are cooled by blood-letting; or a hundred millions of Germans, Spaniards, Dutch, and Italians from being pilfered to their last coin!—Old Frederick, the greatest genius that ever sat upon a German throne, saw this fifty years ago. I have him at this moment before my eyes, as he walked with his hands behind his bent back in the little parterre of Sans Souci. I myself heard him utter the words—'If I were King of France, a cannon-shot should not be fired in Europe without my permission.'—France is now governed by fools, and is nothing. But if ever she shall have an able man at her head, she will realize old Frederick's opinion."

As no time was to be lost, I hurried with my note of introduction to Whitehall, was ushered through a succession of dingy offices into a small chamber, where I found, busily employed at an escrutoire, a young man of a heavy and yet not unintelligent countenance. He read my note, asked me whether I had ever been in Paris, from which he had just returned; uttered a sentence or two in the worst possible French, congratulated me on the fluency of my answer, rang his bell, and handed me a small packet, endorsed—most secret and confidential. He then made the most awkward of bows; and our interview was at an end. I saw this man afterwards prime minister.

Till now, the novelty and interest of any new purpose had kept me in a state of excitement; but I now found, to my surprise, my spirits suddenly flag, and a dejection wholly unaccountable seize upon me. Perhaps something like this occurs after all strong excitement; but a cloud seemed actually to draw over my mind. My thoughts sometimes even fell into confusion—I deeply repented having involved myself in a rash design, which required qualities so much more experienced than mine; and in which, if I failed, the consequences might be so ruinous, not merely to my own character, but to noble and even royal lives. I now felt the whole truth of Hamlet's description—the ways of the world "flat, stale, and unprofitable;" the face of nature gloomy; the sky a "congregation of pestilent vapours." It was not the hazard of life; exposed, as it might be, in the midst of scenes of which the horrors were daily deepening; it was a general undefined feeling, of having undertaken a task too difficult for my powers, and of having engaged in a service in which I could neither advance with hope nor retreat with honour.

After a week of this painful fluctuation, I received a note, saying that I had but six hours before me, and that I must leave London at midnight.

I strayed involuntarily towards Devonshire House. It was one of its state dinner-days, and the street rang with the incessant setting down of the guests. As I stood gazing on the crowd, to prevent more uneasy thoughts, Lafontaine stood before me. He was in uniform, and looked showily. He was to be one of the party, and his manner had all the animation which scenes of this order naturally excite in those with whom the world goes well. But my countenance evidently startled him, and he attempted [pg 610]to offer such consolation as was to be found in telling me that if La Comtesse was visible, he should not fail to tell her of the noble manner in which I had volunteered; and the happiness which I had thus secured to him and Mariamne. "You may rely on it," said he, "that I shall make her sick of Monsieur le Marquis and his sulky physiognomy. I shall dance with her, shall talk to her, and you shall be the subject, as you so well deserve."

"But her marriage is inevitable," was my sole answer.

"Oh, true; inevitable! But that makes no possible difference. You cannot marry all the women you may admire, nor they you. So, the only imaginable resource is, to obtain their friendship, to be their pastor fido, their hero, their Amadis. You then have the entrée of their houses, the honour of their confidence, and the favoured seat in their boxes, till you prefer the favoured seat at their firesides, and all grow old together."

The sound of a neighbouring church clock broke off our dialogue. He took out his diamond watch, compared it with the time, found that to delay a moment longer would be a solecism which might lose him a smile or be punished with a frown; repeated a couplet on the pangs of parting with friends; and with an embrace, in the most glowing style of Paris, bounded across the street, and was lost in the crowd which blocked up her grace's portal.

Thus parted the gay lieutenant and myself; he to float along the stream of fashion in its most sparkling current—I to tread the twilight paths of the green park in helplessness and heaviness of soul.

This interview had not the more reconciled me to life. I was vexed with what I regarded the nonchalance of my friend, and began to wish that I had left him to go through his own affairs as he might. But reflection did justice to his gallant spirit, and I mentally thanked him for having relieved me from the life of an idler. At this moment my name was pronounced by a familiar voice; it was Mordecai's. He had brought me some additional letters to the leaders of the party in Paris. We returned to the hotel, and sat down to our final meal together. When the lights were brought in, I saw that he looked at me with some degree of surprise, and even of alarm. "You are ill," said he; "the life of London is too much for you. There are but three things that constitute health in this world—air, exercise, and employment." I acknowledged to him my misgivings as to my fitness for the mission. But he was a man of the world. He asked me, "Do you desire to resign? If so, I have the power to revoke it at this moment. And you can do this without loss of honour, for it is known to but two persons in England—Lafontaine and myself. I have not concealed its danger from you, and I have ascertained that even the personal danger is greater than I thought. In fact, one of my objects in coming to you at this hour was, to apprise you of the state of things, if not to recommend your giving up the mission altogether."

The alternative was now plainly before me; and, stern as was the nature of the Israelite, I saw evidently that he would be gratified by my abandoning the project. But this was suddenly out of the question. The mission, to escape which in the half hour before I should have gladly given up every shilling I ever hoped to possess, was at once fixed in my mind as a peculiar bounty of fortune. There are periods in the human heart like those which we observe in nature—the atmosphere clears up after the tempest. The struggle which had shaken me so long had now passed away, and things assumed as new and distinct an aspect as a hill or a forest in the distance might on the passing away of a cloud. Mordecai argued against my enthusiasm; but when was enthusiasm ever out-argued? I drove him horse and foot from the field. I did more, enthusiasm is contagious—I made him my convert. The feverish fire of my heart lent itself to my tongue, and I talked so loftily of revolutions and counter-revolutions; of the opportunity of seeing humankind pouring, like metal from the forge, into new shapes of society, of millions acting on a new scale of power, of nations summoned to a new order of existence, that I began to melt even the rigid prepossessions of that mass of granite, or iron, or whatever is most intractable—the Jew. I could perceive his countenance changing from a smile to seriousness; and, as I [pg 611] declaimed, I could see his hollow eye sparkle, and his sallow lip quiver, with impressions not unlike my own.

"Whether you are fit for a politician," said he, "I cannot tell; for the trade is of a mingled web, and has its rough side as well as its smooth one. But, young as you are, and old as I am, there are some notions in which we do not differ so much as in our years. I have long seen that the world was about to undergo some extraordinary change. That it should ever come from the rabble of Paris, I must confess, had not entered into my mind; a rope of sand, or a mountain of feathers, would have been as fully within my comprehension. I might have understood it, if it had come from John Bull. But I have lived in France, and I never expected any thing from the people; more than I should expect to see the waterworks of Versailles turned into a canal, or irrigating the thirsty acres round the palace."

"Yes," I observed; "but their sporting and sparkling answers their purpose. They amuse the holiday multitude for a day."

"And are dry for a week.—If France shall have a revolution, it will be as much a matter of mechanism, of show, and of holiday, as the 'grand jet-d'eau.'" He was mistaken. We ended with a parting health to Mariamne, and his promise to attend to my interests at the Horse-guards, on which I was still strongly bent. The Jew was clearly no sentimentalist; but the glass of wine, and the few words of civility and recollection with which I had devoted it to his pretty daughter, evidently touched the father's heart. He lingered on the steps of the hotel, and still held my hand. "You shall not," said he, "be the worse for your good wishes, nor for that glass of wine. I shall attend to your business at Whitehall when you are gone; and you might have worse friends than Mordecai even there." He seemed big with some disclosure of his influence, but suddenly checked himself. "At all events," he added, "your services on the present occasion shall not be forgotten. You have a bold, ay, and a broad career before you. One thing I shall tell you. We shall certainly have war. The government here are blind to it. Even the prime minister—and there is not a more sagacious mind on the face of the earth—is inclined to think that it may be averted. But I tell you, as the first secret which you may insert in your despatches, that it will come—will be sudden, desperate, and universal."

"May I not ask from what source you have your information; it will at least strengthen mine?"

"Undoubtedly. You may tell the minister, or the world, that you had it from Mordecai. I lay on you only one condition—that you shall not mention it within a week. I have received it from our brethren on the Continent, as a matter of business. I give it to you here as a flourish for your first essay in diplomacy."

We had now reached the door of the post-chaise. He drew out another letter. "This," said he, "is from my daughter. Before you come among us again, she will probably be the wife of one of our nation, and the richest among us. But she still values you as the preserver of her life, and sends you a letter to one of our most intimate friends in Paris. If he shall not be frightened out of it by the violence of the mob, you will find him and his family hospitable. Now, farewell!" He turned away.

I sprang into the post-chaise, in which was already seated a French courier, with despatches from his minister; whose attendance the Jew had secured, to lighten the first inconveniences to a young traveller. The word was given—we dashed along the Dover road, and I soon gave my last gaze to London, with its fiery haze hanging over it, like the flame of a conflagration.

My mind was still in a whirl as rapid as my wheels. Hope, doubt, and determination passed through my brain in quick succession, yet there was one thought that came, like Shakspeare's "delicate spirit," in all the tumult of soul, of which, like Ariel in the storm, it was the chief cause, to soothe and subdue me. Hastily as I had driven from the door of my hotel, I had time to cast my eye along the front of Devonshire House. All the windows of its principal apartments shone with almost noonday brightness—uniforms glittered, and plumes waved in the momentary view. But in the range above, all was dark; except one window—the window of [pg 612] the boudoir—and there the light was of the dim and melancholy hue that instinctively gives the impression of the sick-chamber. Was Clotilde still there, feebly counting the hours of pain, while all within her hearing was festivity? The answers which I had received to my daily enquiries were cheerless. "She had not quitted the apartment where she had been first conveyed."—"The duchess insisted on her not being removed."—"Madame was inconsolable, but the doctor had hopes." Those, and other commonplaces of information, were all that I could glean from either the complacent chamberlains or the formal physician. And now I was to give up even this meagre knowledge, and plunge into scenes which might separate us for ever. But were we not separated already? If she recovered, must she not be in the power of a task-master? If she sank under her feebleness, what was earth to me?

In those reveries I passed the hours until daybreak, when the sun and the sea rose together on my wearied eyes.

The bustle of Dover aroused me to a sense of the world. All was animation on sea and shore. The emigration was now in full flow, and France was pouring down her terrified thousands on the nearest shore. The harbour was crowded with vessels of every kind, which had just disgorged themselves of their living cargoes; the streets were blocked up with foreign carriages; the foreign population had completely overpowered the native, and the town swarmed with strangers of every rank and dress, with the hurried look of escaped fugitives. As I drove to the harbour, my ear rang with foreign accents, and my eyes were filled with foreign physiognomies. From time to time the band of a regiment, which had furnished a guard to one of the French blood-royal, mingled its drums and trumpets with the swell of sea and shore; and, as I gazed on the moving multitude from my window, the thunder of the guns from the castle, for the arrival of some ambassador, grandly completed the general mass and power of the uproar.

Three hours carried me to the French shore. Free from all the vulgar vexations of the road, I had the full enjoyment of one of the most pleasant of all enjoyments—moving at one's ease through a new and interesting country. The road to Paris is now like the road to Windsor, to all the higher portions of my countrymen; but then it was much less known even to them than in later days, and the circumstances of the time gave it a totally new character. It was the difference between travelling through a country in a state of peace and in a state of war; between going to visit some superb palace for the purpose of viewing its paintings and curiosities, and hurrying to see what part of its magnificence had escaped an earthquake. The landscape had literally the look of war; troops were seen encamped in the neighbourhood of the principal towns; the national guards were exercising in the fields; mimic processions of children were beating drums and displaying banners in the streets, and the popular songs were all for the conquest of every thing beneath the moon.

But I was to have a higher spectacle. And I shall never forget the mixture of wonder and awe which I felt at the first distant sight of the capital.

It was at the close of a long day's journey, while the twilight gave a mysterious hue to a scene in itself singular and stately.—Glistening spire on spire; massive piles, which in the deepening haze might be either prisons or palaces; vast ranges of buildings, gloomy or glittering as the partial ray fell on them; with the solemn beauty of the Invalides on one wing, the light and lovely elegance of the St Genevieve on the other, and the frowning majesty of Notre-Dame in the midst, filled the plain with a vision such as I had imaged only in an Arabian tale. Yet the moral reality was even greater than the visible. I felt that I was within reach of the chief seat of all the leading events of the Continent since the birth of monarchy; every step which I might tread among those piles was historical; within that clouded circumference, like the circle of a necromancer, had been raised all the dazzling and all the disturbing spirits of the world. There was the grand display of statesmanship, pomp, ambition, pleasure, and each the most subtle, splendid, daring, and prodigal ever seen among [pg 613] men. And, was it not now to assume even a more powerful influence on the fates of mankind? Was not the falling of the monarchical forest of so many centuries, about to lay the land open to a new, and perhaps a more powerful produce; where the free blasts of nature were to rear new forms, and demand new arts of cultivation? The monarchy was falling—but was not the space, cleared of its ruins, to be filled with some new structure, statelier still? Or, if the government of the Bourbons were to sink for ever from the eyes of men, were there to be no discoveries made in the gulf itself in which it went down; were there to be no treasures found in the recesses thus thrown open to the eye for the first time; no mines in the dissevered strata—no founts of inexhaustible freshness and flow opened by thus piercing into the bowels of the land?

There are moments on which the destiny of a nation, perhaps of an age, turns. I had reached Paris at one of those moments. As my calèche wound its slow way round the base of Montmartre, I perceived, through the deepening twilight, a long train of flame, spreading from the horizon to the gates of the city. Shouts were heard, with now and then the heavy sounds of cannon. This produced a dead stop in my progress. My postilion stoutly protested against venturing his calèche, his horses, and, what he probably regarded much more than either, himself, into the very heart of what he pronounced a counter-revolution. My courier, freighted with despatches, which might have been high treason to the majesty of the mob, and who saw nothing less than suspension from the first lamp-post in their discovery, protested, with about the same number of sacres; and my diplomatic beams seemed in a fair way to be shorn.

But this was the actual thing which I had come to see: Paris in its new existence; the capital of the populace; the headquarters of the grand army of insurgency; the living centre of all those flashes of fantasy, fury, and fire, which were already darting out towards every throne of Europe. I determined to have a voice on the occasion, and I exerted it with such vigour, that I roused the inmates of a blockhouse, a party of the National Guard, who, early as it was, had been as fast asleep as if they had been a posse of city watchmen. They clustered round us, applauded my resolve, to see what was to be seen, as perfectly national, vraiment Français; kicked my postilion till he mounted his horse, beat my sulky courier with the flats of their little swords, and would have bastinadoed, or probably hanged him, if I had not interposed; and, finally, hoisting me into the calèche, which they loaded with half a dozen of their number before and behind, commenced our march into Paris. This was evidently not the age of discipline.

It may have been owing to this curious escort that I got in at all; for at the gate I found a strong guard of the regular troops, who drove back a long succession of carriages which had preceded me. But my cortège were so thoroughly in the new fashion, they danced the "carmagnole" so boisterously, and sang patriotic rhymes with such strength of lungs, that it was impossible to refuse admission to patriots of such sonorousness. The popular conjectures, too, which fell to my share, vastly increased my importance. In the course of the five minutes spent in wading through the crowd of the rejected, I bore fifty different characters—I was a state prisoner—a deputy from Marseilles, a part of the kingdom then in peculiar favour; an ex-general; a captain of banditti, and an ambassador from England or America; in either case, an especially honoured missionary, for England was then pronounced by all the Parisian authorities to be on the verge of a revolution. Though, I believe, Jonathan had the preference, for the double reason, that the love of Jean Français for John Bull is of a rather precarious order, and that the American Revolution was an egg hatched by the warmth of the Gallic bird itself; a secondary sort of parentage.

As we advanced through the streets, my noisy "compagnons de voyage" dropped off one by one, some to the lowest places of entertainment, and some tired of the jest; and I proceeded to the Place de Vendome, where was my hotel, at my leisure. The streets were now solitary; to a degree that was almost startling. As I wound my way through long lines of houses, tortuous, narrow, and dark [pg 614] as Erebus, I saw the cause of the singular success which had attended all Parisian insurrections. A chain across one of these dismal streets, an overturned cart, a pile of stones, would convert it at once into an impassable defile. Walls and windows, massive, lofty, and nearly touching each other from above afforded a perpetual fortification; lanes innumerable, and extending from one depth of darkness and intricacy into another, a network of attack and ambush, obviously gave an extraordinary advantage to the irregular daring of men accustomed to thread those wretched and dismal dens, crowded with one of the fiercest and most capricious populations in the world. Times have strikingly changed since. The "fifteen fortresses" are but so many strong bars of the great cage, and they are neither too strong nor too many. Paris is now the only city on earth which is defended against itself, garrisoned on its outside, and protected by a perpetual Praetorian band against a national mania of insurrection.

But, on turning into the Boulevards, the scene changed with the rapidity of magic. Before me were raging thousands, the multitude which I had seen advancing to the gates. The houses, as far as the eye could reach, were lighted up with lamps, torches, and every kind of hurried illumination. Banners of all hues were waving from the casements, and borne along by the people; and in the midst of the wild procession were seen at a distance a train of travelling carriages, loaded on the roofs with the basest of the rabble. A mixed crowd of National Guards, covered with dust, and drooping under the fatigue of the road, poissardes drunk, dancing, screaming the most horrid blasphemies, and a still wider circle, which seemed to me recruited from all the jails of Paris, surrounded the carriages, which I at length understood to be those of the royal family. They had attempted to escape to the frontier, had been arrested, and were now returning as prisoners. I caught a glimpse, by the torchlight, of the illustrious sufferers, as they passed the spot where I stood. The Queen was pale, but exhibited that stateliness of countenance for which she was memorable to the last; she sat with the Dauphiness pressed in her arms. The King looked overcome with exhaustion; the Dauphin gazed at the populace with a child's curiosity.

At the moment when the carriages were passing, an incident occurred terribly characteristic of the time. A man of a noble presence, and with an order of St Louis at his breast, who had been giving me a hurried and anxious explanation of the scene, excited by sudden feeling, rushed forward through the escort, and laying one hand on the royal carriage, with the other waved his hat, and shouted, "Vive le Roi!" In another instant I saw him stagger; a pike was darted into his bosom, and he fell dead under the wheel. Before the confusion of this frightful catastrophe had subsided, a casement was opened immediately above my head, and a woman, superbly dressed, rushed out on the balcony waving a white scarf, and crying, "Vive Marie Antoinette!" The muskets of the escort were turned upon her, and a volley was fired at the balcony. She started back at the shock, and a long gush of blood down her white robe showed that she had been wounded. But she again waved the scarf, and again uttered the loyal cry. Successive shots were fired at her by the monsters beneath; but she still stood. At length she received the mortal blow; she tottered and fell; yet, still clinging to the front of the balcony, she waved the scarf, and constantly attempted to pronounce the words of her generous and devoted heart, until she expired. I saw this scene with an emotion beyond my power to describe; all the enthusiasm of popular change was chilled within me; my boyish imaginations of republicanism were extinguished by this plunge into innocent blood; and I never felt more relieved, than when the whole fearful procession at length moved on, and I was left to make my way once more, through dim and silent streets, to my dwelling.

I pass by a considerable portion of the time which followed. The Revolution was like the tiger, it advanced couching; though, when it sprang, its bound was sudden and irresistible. My time was occupied in my official functions, which became constantly more important, and of which I received flattering opinions from Downing Street. I mingled extensively in general society, and it was never more [pg 615] animated, or more characteristic, than at that period in Paris. The leaders of faction and the leaders of fashion, classes so different in every other part of the world, were there often the same. The woman who dazzled the ball-room, was frequently the confidente of the deepest designs of party. The coterie in a salon, covered with gilding, and filled with chefs-d'oeuvre of the arts, was often as subtle as a conspiracy in the cells of the Jacobins; and the dance or the masquerade only the preliminary to an outbreak which shattered a ministry into fragments All the remarkable men of France passed before me, and I acknowledge that I was frequently delighted and surprised by their extra ordinary attainments. The age of the Encyclopédie was in its wane, but some of its brilliant names still illustrated the Parisian salons. I recognised the style of Buffon and Rousseau in a crowd of their successors; and the most important knowledge was frequently communicated in language the most eloquent and captivating. Even the mixture of society which had been created by the Revolution, gave an original force and freshness to these assemblies, infinitely more attractive than the most elaborate polish of the old régime. Brissot, the common printer, but a man of singular strength of thought, there figured by Condorcet, the noble and the man of profound science. St Etienne, the little bustling partizan, yet the man of talent, mingled with the chief advocates of the Parisian courts; or Servan fenced with his subtle knowledge of the world against Vergniaud, the romantic Girondist, but the most Ciceronian of orators. Talleyrand, already known as the most sarcastic of men, and Maury, by far the most powerful debater of France since Mirabeau—figured among the chief ornaments of the salons of De Staël. Roland, and the showy and witty Theresa Cabarrus, and even the flutter of La Fayette, the most tinsel of heroes, and the sullen sententiousness of Robespierre, then known only as a provincial deputy, furnished a background which increased the prominence of the grouping.

But the greatest wonder of France still escaped the general eye. At a ball at the Hotel de Staël, I remember to have been struck with the energetic denunciation of some rabble insult to the Royal family, by an officer whom nobody knew. As a circle were standing in conversation on the topic of the day, the little officer started from his seat, pushed into the group, and expressed his utter contempt for the supineness of the Government on those occasions, so strongly, as to turn all eyes upon him. "Where were the troops, where the guns?" he exclaimed. "If such things are suffered, all is over with royalty; a squadron of horse, and a couple of six pounders, would have swept away the whole swarm of scoundrels like so many flies." Having thus discharged his soul, he started back again, flung himself into a chair, and did not utter another word through the evening. I little dreamed that in that meagre frame, and long, thin physiognomy, I saw Napoleon.

I must hasten to other things. Yet I still cast many a lingering glance over these times. The vividness of the collision was incomparable. The wit, the eccentricity, the anecdote, the eloquence of those assemblages, were of a character wholly their own. They had, too, a substantial nutriment, the want of which had made the conversation of the preceding age vapid, with all its elegance.—Public events of the most powerful order fed the flame. It was the creation of a vast national excitement; the rush of sparks from the great electrical machine, turned by the hands of thirty millions. The flashes were still but matters of sport and surprise. The time was nigh when those flashes were to be fatal, and that gay lustre was to do the work of conflagration.

I had now been a year in Paris, without returning, or wishing to return, to London. A letter now and then informed me of the state of those who still drew my feelings towards England. But I was in the centre of all that awoke, agitated, or alarmed Europe; and, compared with the glow and rapidity of events in France, the rest of Europe appeared asleep, or to open its eyes solely when some new explosion shook it from its slumber.

My position, too, was a matchless school for the learner in diplomacy. France shaped the politics of the Continent; and I was present in the furnace where the casting was performed. France was the stage to which every eye in Europe was turned, [pg 616] whether for comedy or tragedy; and I was behind the scenes. But the change was at hand.

One night I found an individual, of a very marked appearance, waiting for me at my hotel. His countenance was evidently Jewish, and he introduced himself as one of the secret police of the ministry. The man handed me a letter—it was from Mordecai, and directed to be given with the utmost secrecy. It was in his usual succinct and rapid style.

"I write this in the midst of a tumult of business. My friend Mendoza will give you such knowledge and assistance as may be necessary. France is on the point of an explosion. Every thing is prepared. It is impossible that it can be delayed above a week or two, and the only origin of the delay is in the determination to make the overthrow final. Acquaint your English officials with this. The monarchy of the Bourbons has signed its death-warrant. By suffering a legislature to be formed by the votes of the mere multitude, it has put property within the power of all beggars; rank has been left at the mercy of the rabble; and the church has been sacrificed to please a faction. Thus the true pillars of society have been cut away; and the throne is left in the air. Mendoza will tell you more. The train is already laid. A letter from a confidential agent tells us that the day is fixed. At all events, avoid the mine. There is no pleasure in being blown up, even in company with kings."

A postscript briefly told me—that his daughter sent her recollections; that Clotilde was still indisposed; La Fontaine giddier than ever; and, as the proof of his own confidence in his views, that he had just sold out 100,000 three per cent consols.

My first visit next morning was to the British embassy. But the ambassador was absent in the country, and the functionary who had been left in charge was taking lessons on the guitar, and extremely unwilling to be disturbed by matters comparatively so trifling as the fate of dynasties. I explained, but explained in vain. The hour was at hand when his horses were to be at the door for a ride in the Bois de Boulogne. I recommended a ride after the ambassador. It was impossible. He was to be the escort of a duchess; then to go to a dinner at the Russian embassy, and was under engagements to three balls in the course of the evening. Nothing could be clearer than that such duties must supersede the slight concerns of office. I left him under the hands of his valet, curling his ringlets, and preparing him to be the admiration of mankind.

I saw Mendoza secretly again; received from him additional intelligence; and, as I was not inclined to make a second experiment on the "elegant extract" of diplomacy, and escort of duchesses, I went, as soon as the nightfall concealed my visit, to the hotel of the Foreign Minister. This was my first interview with the celebrated Dumourier.

He received me with the courtesy of a man accustomed to high life; and I entered on the purport of my visit at once. He was perfectly astonished at my tidings. He had known that strong resolutions had been adopted by the party opposed to the Cabinet; but was startled by the distinct avowal of its intention to overthrow the monarchy. I was struck with his appearance, his quickness of conception, and that mixture of sportiveness and depth, which I had found characteristic of the higher orders of French society. He was short in stature, but proportioned for activity; his countenance bold, but with smiling lips and a most penetrating grey eye. His name as a soldier was at this period wholly unknown, but I could imagine in him a leader equally subtle and daring;—he soon realized my conjecture.

We sat together until midnight; and over the supper-table, and cheered by all the good things which French taste provides and enjoys more than any other on earth, he gave full flow to his spirit of communication. The Frenchman's sentences are like sabre-cuts—they have succession, but no connexion.

"I shall always converse with you, M. Marston," said he, "with ease; for you are of the noblesse of your own great country, and I am tired of roturiers already.—The government has committed dangerous faults. The king is an excellent man, but his heart is where his head ought to be, and his head where his heart.—His flight was a terrible affair, but it was a blunder on both sides; he ought never to [pg 617] have gone, or the government ought never to have brought him back.—However, I have no cause to complain of its epitaph. The blunder dissolved that government. I have to thank it for bringing me and my colleagues into power. Our business now is to preserve the monarchy, but this becomes more difficult from day to day."

I adverted to the personal character of the royal family.

"Nothing can be better. But chance has placed them in false position.—If the king were but the first prince of the blood, his benevolence without his responsibility would make him the most popular man in France.—If the queen were still but the dauphiness, she would be, as she was then, all but worshipped. As the leader of fashion in France, she would be the leader of taste in Europe.—Elegant, animated, and high-minded, she would have charmed every one, without power. If she could but continue to move along the ground, all would admire the grace of her steps; but, sitting on a throne, she loses the spell of motion."

"Yet, can France ever forget her old allegiance, and adopt the fierce follies of a republic?"

"I think not. And yet we are dealing with agencies of which we know nothing but the tremendous force. We are breathing a new atmosphere, which may at first excite only to kill.—We have let out the waters of a new river-head, which continues pouring from hour to hour, with a fulness sufficient to terrify us already, and threatening to swell over the ancient landmarks of the soil.—It is even now a torrent—what can prevent it from being a lake? what hand of man can prevent that lake from being an ocean? or what power of human council can say to that ocean in its rage—Thus far shalt thou go?"

"But the great institutions of France, will they not form a barrier? Is not their ancient firmness proof against the loose and desultory assaults of a populace like that of Paris?"

"I shall answer by an image which occurred to me on my late tour of inspection to the ports in the west. At Cherbourg, millions of francs have been spent in attempting to make a harbour. When I was there one stormy day, the ocean rose, and the first thing swept away was the great caisson which formed the principal defence against the tide,—its wrecks were carried up the harbour, heaped against the piers, which they swept away; hurled against the fortifications, which they broke down; and finally working ten times more damage than if the affair had been left to the surges alone. The thought struck me at the moment, that this caisson was the emblem of a government assailed by an irresistible force. The firmer the foundations, and the loftier the superstructure, the surer it was to be ultimately carried away, and to carry away with it all that the mere popular outburst would have spared.—The massiveness of the obstacle increased the spread of the ruin. Few Asiatic kingdoms would be overthrown with less effort, and perish with less public injury, than the monarchy of the Bourbons, if it is to fall. Yet, your monarchy is firmer. It is less a vast building than a mighty tree, not fixed on foundations which can never widen, but growing from roots which continually extend. But, if that tree perish, it will not be thrown down, but torn up; it will not leave a space clear to receive a new work of man, but a pit, which no successor can fill for a thousand years."

"But the insurrection; I fear the attack on the palace."

"It will not take place. Your information shall be forwarded to the court; where, however, I doubt whether it will be received with much credence. The Austrian declaration of war has put the flatterers of royalty into such spirits, that if the tocsin were sounding at this instant, they would not believe in the danger. We have been unfortunately forced to send the chief part of the garrison of Paris towards the frontier. But we have three battalions of the Swiss guard within call at Courbevoie, and they can be ready on the first emergency. Rely upon it, all will go well."

With this assurance I was forced to be content; but I relied much more upon Mordecai and his Jewish intelligence. A despatch to London gave a minute of this conversation before I laid my head on my pillow; and I flung myself down, not without a glance at the tall roofs of the Tuileries, and a reflection on how much the man escapes whose forehead has no wrinkle from the diadem.

[pg 618] Within twenty four hours of this interview the ministry was dissolved! Dumourier was gone posthaste to the command of one of the armies on the frontier, merely to save his life from the mob, and I went to bed, in the Place Vendôme, by the light of Lafayette burned in effigy in the centre of the square. So much for popularity.

At dusk, on the memorable ninth of August, as I was sitting in a café of the Palais Royal, listening to the mountain songs of a party of Swiss minstrels in front of the door, Mendoza, passing through the crowd, made me a signal; I immediately followed him to an obscure corner of one of the galleries.

"The insurrection is fixed for to-night," was his startling announcement. "At twelve by the clock of Notre-Dame, all the sections will be under arms. The Jacobin club, the club of the Cordeliers, and the Faubourg St Antoine, are the alarm posts. The Marseillais are posted at the Cordeliers, and are to head the attack. Danton is already among them, and has published this address.

He gave me the placard. It was brief and bold.

"Citizens—The country is betrayed. France is in the hands of her enemies. The Austrians are advancing. Our troops are retreating, and Paris must be defended by her brave sons alone. But we have traitors in the camp. Our legislators are their accomplices: Lafayette, the slave of kings, has been suffered to escape; but the nation must be avenged. The perfidious Louis is about to follow his example and fly, after having devoted the capital to conflagration. Delay a moment, and you will have to fight by the flame of your houses, and to bleed over the ashes of your wives and children. March, and victory is yours. To arms! To arms!! To arms!!!"

"Does Danton lead the insurrection?"

"No—for two reasons: he is an incendiary but no soldier; and they cannot trust him in case of success. A secret meeting of the heads of the party was held two days since, to decide on a leader of the sections. It was difficult, and had nearly been finished by the dagger. Billaud de Varennes, Vanquelin, St Angely, and Danton, were successively proposed. Robespierre objected to them all. At length an old German refugee, a beggar, but a soldier, was fixed on; and Westerman is to take the command. By one o'clock the tocsin is to be rung, and the insurgents are instantly to move from all points on the Tuileries."

"What is the object?"

"The seizure, or death, of the King and Royal Family!"

"And the result of that object?"

"The proclamation of a Republic!"

"Is this known at the palace?"

"Not a syllable. All there are in perfect security; to communicate intelligence there is not in my department."

As I looked at the keen eye and dark physiognomy of my informant, there was an expression of surprise in mine at this extraordinary coolness, which saved me the trouble of asking the question.

"You doubt me," said he, "you feel distrust of information unpaid and voluntary. But I have been ordered by Mordecai, the chief of our tribe in England, to watch over you; and this information is a part of my obedience to the command." He suddenly darted away.

Notwithstanding the steadiness of his assertions I still doubted their probability, and, to examine the point for myself, I strayed towards the palace. All there was tranquil; a few lights were scattered through the galleries, but every sound of life, much less of watchfulness and preparation, was still. The only human beings in sight were some dismounted cavalry, and a battalion of the national guard, lounging: about the square. As I found it impossible to think of rest until the truth or falsehood of my information was settled, I next wandered along the Boulevarde, in the direction of the Faubourg St Antoine, the focus of all the tumults of Paris; but all along this fine avenue was hushed as if a general slumber had fallen over the city. The night was calm, and the air was a delicious substitute for the hot and reeking atmosphere of this populous quarter in the day. I saw no gathering of the populace; no hurrying torches. I heard no clash of arms, nor tramp of marching men; all lay beneath the young moon, which, near her setting, touched the whole scene with a look of soft and almost melancholy quietude. The character of my Israelite friend began to fall rapidly in the scale, and [pg 619] I had made up my mind that insurrection had gone to its slumbers for that night; when, as I was returning by the Place de Bastile, and was passing under the shadow of one of the huge old houses that then surrounded that scene of hereditary terror, two men, who had been loitering beside the parapet of the fosse, suddenly started forward and planted themselves in my way. I flung one of them aside, but the other grasped my arm, and, drawing a dagger, told me that my life was at his mercy. His companion giving a signal, a group of fierce-looking fellows started from their lurking-places; and of course further resistance was out of the question. I was ordered to follow them, and regarding myself as having nothing to fear, yet uneasy at the idea of compulsion, I remonstrated, but in vain; and was finally led through a labyrinth of horrid alleys, to what I now found to be the headquarters of the insurrection. It was an immense building, which had probably been a manufactory, but was now filled with the leaders of the mob. The few torches which were its only light, and which scarcely showed the roof and extremity of the building, were, however, enough to show heaps of weapons of every kind—muskets, sabres, pikes, and even pitchforks and scythes, thrown on the floor. On one side, raised on a sort of desk, was a ruffianly figure flinging placards to the crowd below, and often adding some savage comment on their meaning, which produced a general laugh. Flags inscribed with "Liberty Bread or Blood—Down with the Tyrant"—and that comprehensive and peculiarly favourite motto of the mob—"May the last of the kings be strangled with the entrails of the last of the priests," were hung from the walls in all quarters; and in the centre of the floor were ranged three pieces of artillery surrounded by their gunners. I now fully acknowledged the exactness of Mendoza's information; and began to feel considerable uncertainty about my own fate in the midst of a horde of armed ruffians, who came pouring in more thickly every moment, and seemed continually more ferocious. At length I was ordered to go forward to a sort of platform at the head of the hall, where some candles were still burning, and the remnants of a supper gave signs that there had been gathered the chief persons of this tremendous assemblage. A brief interrogatory from one of them armed to the teeth, and with a red cap so low down on his bushy brows as almost wholly to disguise his physiognomy, enquired my name, my business in Paris, and especially what I had to allege against my being shot as a spy in the pay of the Tuileries. My answers were drowned in the roar of the multitude. Still, I protested firmly against this summary trial, and at length threatened them with the vengeance of my country. This might be heroic, but it was injudicious. Patriotism is a fiery affair, and a circle of pistols and daggers ready prepared for action, and roused by the word to execute popular justice on me, waited but the signal from the platform. Their leader rose with some solemnity, and taking off his cap, to give the ceremonial a more authentic aspect, declared me to have forfeited the right to live, by acting the part of an espion, and ordered me to be shot in "front of the leading battalion of the army of vengeance." The decree was so unexpected, that for the instant I felt absolutely paralyzed. The sight left my eyes, my ears tingled with strange sounds, and I almost felt as if I had received the shots of the ruffians, who now, incontrollable in their first triumph, were firing their pistols in all directions in the air. But at the moment, so formidable to my future career, I heard the sound of the clock of Notre Dame. I felt a sudden return of my powers and recollections, but the hands of my assassins were already upon me. The sound of the general signal for their march produced a rush of the crowd towards the gate, I took advantage of the confusion, struck down one of my captors, shook off the other, and plunged into the living torrent that was now pouring and struggling before me.

But even when I reached the open air—and never did I feel its freshness with a stronger sense of revival—I was still in the midst of the multitude, and any attempt to make my way alone would have obviously been death. Thus was I carried on along the Boulevarde, in the heart of a column of a hundred thousand maniacs, trampled, driven, bruised by the rabble, and deafened with shouts, yells, and cries of vengeance, until my frame [pg 620] was a fever and my brain scarcely less than a frenzy.

That terrible morning gave the deathblow to the mighty monarchy of the Bourbons. The throne was so shaken by the popular arm, that though it preserved a semblance of its original shape, a breath was sufficient to cast it to the ground. I have no heart for the recital. Even now I can scarcely think of that tremendous pageant of popular fantasy, fury, and the very passion of crime; or bring to my mind's eye that column, which seemed then to be boundless and endless, with the glare of its torches, the rattle of its drums, the grinding of its cannon-wheels, as we rushed along the causeway, from time to time stopping to fire, as a summons to the other districts, and as a note of exultation; or the perpetual, sullen, and deep roar of the populace—without a thrilling sense of perplexity and pain.

Long before daybreak we had swept all minor resistance before us, plundered the arsenal of its arms, and taken possession of the Hotel de Ville. The few troops who had kept guard at the different posts on our way, had been captured without an effort, or joined the insurgents. But intelligence now came that the palace was roused at last, that troops were ordered from the country for its defence, and that the noblesse remaining in the capital were crowding to the Tuileries. I stood beside Danton when those tidings were brought to him. He flung up his cap in the air, with a burst of laughter. "So much the better!" he exclaimed; "the closer the preserve, the thicker the game." I had now a complete view of this hero of democracy. His figure was herculean; his countenance, which possibly, in his younger days, had been handsome, was now marked with the lines of every passion and profligacy, but it was still commanding. His costume was one which he had chosen for himself, and which was worn by his peculiar troop; a short brown mantle, an under-robe with the arms naked to the shoulder, a broad leathern belt loaded with pistols, a huge sabre in hand, rusted from hilt to point, which he declared to have been stained with the blood of aristocrats, and the republican red cap, which he frequently waved in the air, or lifted on the point of his sabre as a standard. Yet, in the midst of all this savage disorder of costume, I observed every hair of his enormous whiskers to be curled with the care of a Parisian merveilleux. It was the most curious specimen of the ruling passion that I remember to have seen.

At the Hotel de Ville, Danton entered the hall with several of the insurgents; and the crowd, unwilling to waste time, began to fire at the little statues and insignia of the French kings, which ornamented this old building. When this amusement palled—the French are easily ennuied—they formed circles, and danced the Carmagnole. Rum and brandy, largely introduced among them, gave them animation after their night's watching, and they were fit for any atrocity. But the beating of drums, and a rush to the balconies of the Hotel de Ville, told us that something of importance was at hand; and, in the midst of a group of municipal officers, Petion, the mayor of Paris, arrived. No man in France wore a milder visage, or hid a blacker heart under it. He was received with shouts, and after a show of resistance, just sufficient to confirm his character for hypocrisy, suffered himself to be led to the front of the grand balcony, bowing as the man of the people. Another followed, a prodigious patriot, who had been placed at the head of the National Guard for his popular sycophancy, but who, on being called on by the mob to swear "death to the King;" and hesitating, felt the penalty of being unprepared to go all lengths on the spot. I saw his throat cut, and his body flung from the balcony. A cannon-shot gave the signal for the march, and we advanced to the grand prize of the day. I can describe but little more of the assault on the Tuileries, than that it was a scene of desperate confusion on both sides. The front of the palace continually covered with the smoke of fire-arms of all kinds, from all the casements; and the front of the mob a similar cloud of smoke, under which men fired, fled, fell, got drunk, and danced. Nothing could be more ferocious, or more feeble. Some of the Sections utterly ran away on the first fire; but, as they were unpursued, they returned by degrees, and joined the [pg 621] fray. It may be presumed that I made many an effort to escape; but I was in the midst of a battalion of the Faubourg St Antoine. I had already been suspected, from having dropped several muskets in succession, which had been thrust into my hands by the zeal of my begrimed comrades; and a sabre-cut, which I had received from one of our mounted ruffians as he saw me stepping to the rear, warned me that my time was not yet come to get rid of the scene of revolt and bloodshed.

At length the struggle drew to a close. A rumour spread that the King had left the palace, and gone to the Assembly. The cry was now on all sides—"Advance, the day is our own!" The whole multitude rushed forward, clashing their pikes and muskets, and firing their cannon, which were worked by deserters from the royal troops; the Marseillais, a band of the most desperate-looking ruffians that eye was ever set upon, chiefly galley-slaves and the profligate banditti of a sea-port, led the column of assault; and the sudden and extraordinary cessation of the fire from the palace windows, seemed to promise a sure conquest. But, as the smoke subsided, I saw a long line of troops, three deep, drawn up in front of the chief entrance. Their scarlet uniforms showed that they were the Swiss. The gendarmerie, the National Guard, the regular battalions, had abandoned them, and their fate seemed inevitable. But there they stood, firm as iron. Their assailants evidently recoiled; but the discharge of some cannon-shots, which told upon the ranks of those brave and unfortunate men, gave them new courage, and they poured onward. The voice of the Swiss commandant giving the word to fire was heard, and it was followed by a rolling discharge, from flank to flank, of the whole battalion. It was my first experience of the effect of fire; and I was astonished at its precision, rapidity, and deadly power. In an instant, almost the whole troop of the Marseillais, in our front, were stretched upon the ground, and every third man in the first line of the Sections was killed or wounded. Before this shock could be recovered, we heard the word "fire" again from the Swiss officer, and a second shower of bullets burst upon our ranks. The Sections turned and fled in all directions, some by the Pont Neuf, some by the Place Carrousel. The rout was complete; the terror, the confusion, and the yelling of the wounded were horrible. The havoc was increased by a party of the defenders of the palace, who descended into the court and fell with desperation on the fugitives. I felt that now was my time to escape, and darted behind one of the buttresses of a royal porte cachere, to let the crowd pass me. The skirmishing continued at intervals, and an officer in the uniform of the Royal Guard was struck down by a shot close to my feet. As he rolled over, I recognised his features. He was my young friend Lafontaine! With an inconceivable shudder I looked on his pale countenance, and with the thought that he was killed was mingled the thought of the misery which the tidings would bring to fond ears in England. But as I drew the body within the shelter of the gate, I found that he still breathed; he opened his eyes, and I had the happiness, after waiting in suspense till the dusk covered our movements, of conveying him to my hotel.

Of the remaining events of this most calamitous day, I know but what all the world knows. It broke down the monarchy. It was the last struggle in which a possibility existed of saving the throne. The gentlest of the Bourbons was within sight of the scaffold. He had now only to retrieve his character for personal virtue by laying down his head patiently under the blade of the guillotine. His royal character was gone beyond hope, and all henceforth was to be the trial of the legislature and the nation. Even that trial was to be immediate, comprehensive, and condign. No people in the history of rebellion ever suffered, so keenly or so rapidly, the vengeance which belongs to national crimes. The saturnalia was followed by massacre. A new and darker spirit of ferocity displayed itself, in a darker and more degraded form, from hour to hour, until the democracy was extinguished. Like the Scripture miracle of the demoniac—the spirits which had once exhibited the shape of man, were transmitted into the shape of the brute; and even the swine ran down by instinct, and perished in the waters.

[pg 622]


There is in the science and process of colonization, as in every complex act of man, a secret philosophy—which is first suspected through results, and first expounded by experience. Here, almost more than any where else, nature works in fellowship with man. Yet all nature is not alike suited to the purposes of the early colonist; and all men are not alike qualified for giving effect to the hidden capacities of nature. One system of natural advantages is designed to have a long precedency of others; and one race of men is selected and sealed for an eternal preference in this function of colonizing to the very noblest of their brethren. As colonization advances, that ground becomes eligible for culture—that nature becomes full of promise—which in earlier stages of the science was not so; because the dreadful solitude becomes continually narrower under the accelerated diffusion of men, which shortens the space of distance—under the strides of nautical science, which shortens the time of distance—and under the eternal discoveries of civilization, which combat with elementary nature. Again, in the other element of colonization, races of men become known for what they are; the furnace has tried them all; the truth has justified itself; and if, as at some great memorial review of armies, some solemn armilustrum, the colonizing nations, since 1500, were now by name called up—France would answer not at all; Portugal and Holland would stand apart with dejected eyes—dimly revealing the legend of Fuit Ilium; Spain would be seen sitting in the distance, and, like Judæa on the Roman coins, weeping under her palm-tree in the vast regions of the Orellana; whilst the British race would be heard upon every wind, coming on with mighty hurrahs, full of power and tumult, as some "hail-stone chorus,"13 and crying aloud to the five hundred millions of Burmah, China, Japan, and the infinite islands, to make ready their paths before them. Already a ground-plan, or ichnography, has been laid down of the future colonial empire. In three centuries, already some outline has been sketched, rudely adumbrating the future settlement destined for the planet, some infant castrametation has been marked out for the future encampment of nations. Enough has been already done to show the course by which the tide is to flow, to prefigure for languages their proportions, and for nations to trace their distribution.

In this movement, so far as it regards man, in this machinery for sifting and winnowing the merits of races, there is a system of marvellous means, which by its very simplicity masks and hides from us the wise profundity of its purpose. Often-times, in wandering amongst the inanimate world, the philosopher is disposed to say—this plant, this mineral, this fruit, is met with so often, not because it is better than others of the same family, perhaps it is worse, but because its resources for spreading and naturalizing itself, are, by accident, greater than theirs. That same analogy he finds repeated in the great drama of colonization. It is not, says he pensively to himself, the success which measures the merit. It is not that nature, or that providence, has any final cause at work in disseminating these British children over every zone and climate of the earth. Oh, no! far from it! But it is the unfair advantages of these islanders, which carry them thus potently a-head. Is it so, indeed? Philosopher, you are wrong. Philosopher, you are envious. You speak Spanish, philosopher, or even French. Those advantages, which you suppose to disturb the equities of the case—were they not products of British energy? Those twenty-five thousand of ships, whose graceful shadows darken the blue waters in every climate—did they build themselves? That myriad of acres, laid out in the watery cities of [pg 623] docks—were they sown by the rain, as the fungus or the daisy? Britain has advantages at this stage of the race, which make the competition no longer equal—henceforwards it has become gloriously "unfair"—but at starting we were all equal. Take this truth from us, philosopher; that in such contests the power constitutes the title, the man that has the ability to go a-head, is the man entitled to go a-head; and the nation that can win the place of leader, is the nation that ought to do so.

This colonizing genius of the British people appears upon a grand scale in Australia, Canada, and, as we may remind the else forgetful world, in the United States of America; which States are our children, prosper by our blood, and have ascended to an overshadowing altitude from an infancy tended by ourselves. But on the fields of India it is, that our aptitudes for colonization have displayed themselves most illustriously, because they were strengthened by violent resistance. We found many kingdoms established, and to these we have given unity; and in process of doing so, by the necessities of the general welfare, or the mere instincts of self-preservation, we have transformed them to an empire, rising like an exhalation, of our own—a mighty monument of our own superior civilization.

Ceylon, as a virtual dependency of India, ranks in the same category. There also we have prospered by resistance; there also we have succeeded memorably where other nations memorably failed. Of Ceylon, therefore, now rising annually into importance, let us now (on occasion of this splendid book, the work of one officially connected with the island, bound to it also by affectionate ties of services rendered, not less than of unmerited persecutions suffered) offer a brief, but rememberable account; of Ceylon in itself, and of Ceylon in its relations historical or economic, to ourselves.

Mr Bennett says of it, with more and less of doubt, three things—of which any one would be sufficient to detain a reader's attention; viz., 1. That it is the Taprobane of the Romans; 2. That it was, or has been thought to be, the Paradise of Scripture; 3. That it is "the most magnificent of the British insular possessions," or in yet wider language, that it is an "incomparable colony." This last count in the pretensions of Ceylon is quite indisputable; Ceylon is in fact already, Ceylon is at this moment, a gorgeous jewel in the imperial crown; and yet, compared with what it may be, with what it will be, with what it ought to be, Ceylon is but that grain of mustard-seed which hereafter is destined to become the stately tree,14 where the fowls of heaven will lodge for generations. Great are the promises of Ceylon; great already her performances. Great are the possessions of Ceylon, far greater her reversions. Rich she is by her developments, richer by her endowments. She combines the luxury of the tropics with the sterner gifts of our own climate. She is hot; she is cold. She is civilized; she is barbarous. She has the resources of the rich; and she has the energies of the poor.

But for Taprobane, but for Paradise, we have a word of dissent. Mr Bennett is well aware that many men in many ages have protested against the possibility that Ceylon could realize all the conditions involved in the ancient Taprobane. Milton, it is true, with other excellent scholars, has insinuated his belief that probably Taprobane is Ceylon; when our Saviour in the wilderness sees the great vision of Roman power, expressed, inter alia, by high officers of the Republic flocking to, or from, the gates of Rome, and "embassies from regions far remote," crowding the Appian or the Emilian roads, some

"From the Asian kings, and Parthian amongst these;

From India and the golden Chersonese,

And utmost Indian isle Taprobane


Dusk faces with white silken turbans wreathed;"

it is probable, from the mention of this island Taprobane following so closely after that of the Malabar peninsula, that Milton held it to be the island of Ceylon, and not of Sumatra. In this he does but follow the stream of geographical critics; and, upon the whole, if any one island exclusively is to be received for the Roman [pg 624] Taprobane, doubt there can be none that Ceylon has the superior title. But, as we know that, in regions less remote from Rome, Mona did not always mean the Isle of Man, nor Ultima Thule uniformly the Isle of Skye or of St Kilda—so it is pretty evident that features belonging to Sumatra, and probably to other oriental islands, blended (through mutual misconceptions of the parties, questioned and questioning) into one semi-fabulous object not entirely realized in any locality whatever. The case is precisely as if Cosmas Indicopleustes, visiting Scotland in the sixth century, should have placed the scene of any adventure in a town distant six miles from Glasgow and eight miles from Edinburgh. These we know to be irreconcilable conditions, such as cannot meet in any town whatever, past or present. But in such a case many circumstances might, notwithstanding, combine to throw a current of very strong suspicion upon Hamilton as the town concerned. On the same principle, it is easy to see that most of those Romans who spoke of Taprobane had Ceylon in their eye. But that all had not, and of those who really had, that some indicated by their facts very different islands, whilst designing to indicate Ceylon, is undeniable; since, amongst other imaginary characteristics of Taprobane, they make it extend considerably to the south of the line. Now, with respect to Ceylon, this is notoriously false; that island lies entirely in the northern tropic, and does not come within five (hardly more than six) degrees of the equator. Plain it is, therefore, that Taprobane, it construed very strictly, is an ens rationis, made up by fanciful composition from various sources, and much like our own mediæval conceit of Prester John's country, or the fancies (which have but recently vanished) of the African river Niger, and the golden city Tombuctoo. These were lies; and yet also, in a limited sense, they were truths. They were expansions, often fabulous and impossible, engrafted upon some basis of fact by the credulity of the traveller, or subsequently by misconception of the scholar. For instance, as to Tombuctoo, Leo Africanus had authorized men to believe in some vast African city, central to that great continent, and a focus to some mighty system of civilization. Others, improving on that chimera, asserted, that this glorious city represented an inheritance derived from ancient Carthage; here, it was said, survived the arts and arms of that injured state; hither, across Bilidulgerid, had the children of Phoenicia fled from the wrath of Rome; and the mighty phantom of him whose uplifted truncheon had pointed its path to the carnage of Cannæ, was still the tutelary genius watching over a vast posterity worthy of himself. Here was a wilderness of lies; yet, after all, the lies were but so many voluminous fasciæ, enveloping the mummy of an original truth. Mungo Park came, and the city of Tombuctoo was shown to be a real existence. Seeing was believing. And yet, if, before the time of Park, you had avowed a belief in Tombuctoo, you would have made yourself an indorser of that huge forgery which had so long circulated through the forum of Europe, and, in fact, a party to the total fraud.

We have thought it right to direct the reader's eye upon this correction of the common problem as to this or that place—Ceylon for example—answering to this or that classical name—because, in fact, the problem is more subtle than it appears to be. If you are asked whether you believe in the unicorn, undoubtedly you are within the letter of the truth in replying that you do; for there are several varieties of large animals which carry a single horn in the forehead.15 But, virtually, by such an answer you would countenance a falsehood or a doubtful legend, since you are well aware that, in the idea of an unicorn, your questioner included the whole traditionary character of the unicorn, as an antagonist and emulator of the lion, &c.; under which fanciful description, this animal is properly ranked with the griffin, the mermaid, the basilisk, the dragon—and [pg 625] sometimes discussed in a supplementary chapter by the current zoologies, under the idea of heraldic and apocryphal natural history. When asked, therefore, whether Ceylon is Taprobane, the true answer is, not by affirmation simply, nor by negation simply, but by both at once; it is, and it is not. Taprobane includes much of what belongs to Ceylon, but also more, and also less. And this case is a type of many others standing in the same logical circumstances.

But, secondly, as to Ceylon being the local representative of Paradise, we may say, as the courteous Frenchman did to Dr Moore, upon the Doctor's apologetically remarking of a word which he had used, that he feared it was not good French—"Non, Monsieur, il n'est pas; mais il mérite bien l'être." Certainly, if Ceylon was not, at least it ought to have been, Paradise; for at this day there is no place on earth which better supports the paradisiacal character (always excepting Lapland, as an Upsal professor observes, and Wapping, as an old seaman reminds us) than this Pandora of islands, which the Hindoos call Lanka, and Europe calls Ceylon. We style it the "Pandora" of islands, because, as all the gods of the heathen clubbed their powers in creating that ideal woman—clothing her with perfections, and each separate deity subscribing to her dowery some separate gift—not less conspicuous, and not less comprehensive, has been the bounty of Providence, running through the whole diapason of possibilities, to this all-gorgeous island. Whatsoever it is that God has given by separate allotment and partition to other sections of the planet, all this he has given cumulatively and redundantly to Ceylon. Was she therefore happy, was Ceylon happier than other regions, through this hyper-tropical munificence of her Creator? No, she was not; and the reason was, because idolatrous darkness had planted curses where Heaven had planted blessings; because the insanity of man had defeated the graciousness of God. But another era is dawning for Ceylon; God will now countersign his other blessings, and ripen his possibilities into great harvests of realization, by superadding the one blessing of a dovelike religion; light is thickening apace, the horrid altars of Moloch are growing dim; woman will no more consent to forego her birthright as the daughter of God; man will cease to be the tiger-cat that, in the noblest chamber of Ceylon, he has ever been; and with the new hopes that will now blossom amidst the ancient beauties of this lovely island, Ceylon will but too deeply fulfill the functions of a paradise. Too subtly she will lay fascinations upon man; and it will need all the anguish of disease, and the stings of death, to unloose the ties which, in coming ages, must bind the hearts of her children to this Eden of the terraqueous globe.

Yet if, apart from all bravuras of rhetoric, Mr Bennett seriously presses the question regarding Paradise as a question in geography, we are sorry that we must vote against Ceylon, for the reason that heretofore we have pledged ourselves in print to vote in favour of Cashmeer; which beautiful vale, by the way, is omitted in Mr Bennett's list of the candidates for that distinction already entered upon the roll. Supposing the Paradise of Scripture to have had a local settlement upon our earth, and not in some extra-terrene orb, even in that case we cannot imagine that any thing could now survive, even so much as an angle or a curve, of its original outline. All rivers have altered their channels; many are altering them for ever.16 Longitude and latitude might be assigned, at the most, if even those are not substantially defeated by the Miltonic "pushing askance" of the poles with regard to the equinoctial. But, finally, we remark, that whereas human nature has ever been prone to the superstition of local consecrations and personal idolatries, by means of memorial relics, apparently it is the usage of God to hallow such remembrances by removing, abolishing, and confounding all traces of their punctual identities. That raises them to shadowy powers. By that process such remembrances pass from the state of base sensual signs, ministering only to a sensual servitude, into the state of great ideas—mysterious as [pg 626] spirituality is mysterious, and permanent as truth is permanent. Thus it is, and therefore it is, that Paradise has vanished; Luz is gone; Jacob's ladder is found only as an apparition in the clouds; the true cross survives no more among the Roman Catholics than the true ark is mouldering upon Ararat; no scholar can lay his hand upon Gethsemane; and for the grave of Moses the son of Amram, mightiest of lawgivers, though it is somewhere near Mount Nebo, and in a valley of Moab, yet eye has not been suffered to behold it, and "no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day."17

If, however as to Paradise in connexion with Ceylon we are forced to say "No," if as to Taprobane in connexion with Ceylon we say both "Yes" and "No,"—not the less we come back with a reiterated "Yes, yes, yes," upon Ceylon as the crest and eagle's plume of the Indies, as the priceless pearl, the ruby without a flaw, and (once again we say it) as the Pandora of oriental islands.

Yet ends so glorious imply means of corresponding power; and advantages so comprehensive cannot be sustained unless by a machinery proportionately elaborate. Part of this machinery lies in the miraculous climate of Ceylon. Climate? She has all climates. Like some rare human favourite of nature, scattered at intervals along the line of a thousand years, who has been gifted so variously as to seem

"Not one, but all mankind's epitome,"

Ceylon, in order that she might become capable of products without end, has been made an abstract of the whole earth, and fitted up as a panorganon for modulating through the whole diatonic scale of climates. This is accomplished in part by her mountains. No island has mountains so high. It was the hideous oversight of a famous infidel in the last century, that, in supposing an Eastern prince of necessity to deny frost and ice as things impossible to his experience, he betrayed too palpably his own non-acquaintance with the grand economies of nature. To make acquaintance with cold, and the products of cold, obviously he fancied it requisite to travel northwards; to taste of polar power, he supposed it indispensable to have advanced towards the pole. Narrow was the knowledge in those days, when a master in Israel might have leave to err thus grossly. Whereas, at present, few are the people, amongst those not openly making profession of illiteracy, who do not know that a sultan of the tropics—ay, though his throne were screwed down by exquisite geometry to the very centre of the equator—might as surely become familiar with winter by ascending three miles in altitude, as by travelling three thousand horizontally. In that way of ascent, it is that Ceylon has her regions of winter and her Arctic districts. She has her Alps, and she has her alpine tracts for supporting human life and useful vegetation. Adam's Peak, which of itself is more than seven thousand feet high, (and by repute the highest range within her shores,) has been found to rank only fifth in the mountain scale. The highest is a thousand feet higher. The maritime district, which runs round the island for a course of nine hundred miles, fanned by the sea-breezes, makes, with these varying elevations, a vast cycle of secondary combinations for altering the temperature and for adapting the weather. The central region has a separate climate of its own. And an inner belt of country, neither central nor maritime, which from the sea belt is regarded as inland, but from the centre is regarded as maritime, composes another chamber of climates: whilst these again, each individually within its class, are modified into minor varieties by local circumstances as to wind, by local accidents of position, and by shifting stages of altitude.

With all this compass of power, however, (obtained from its hills and its varying scale of hills,) Ceylon has not much of waste ground, in the sense of being irreclaimable—for of waste ground, in the sense of being unoccupied, she has an infinity. What are the dimensions of Ceylon? Of all islands in this world which we know, in respect of size it most resembles Ireland, being about one-sixth part less. But, for a particular reason, we choose to compare it with Scotland, which is very little different in dimensions from Ireland, having (by some [pg 627] hundred or two of square miles) a trifling advantage in extent. Now, say that Scotland contains a trifle more than thirty thousand square miles, the relation of Ceylon to Scotland will become apparent when we mention that this Indian island contains about twenty-four thousand five hundred of similar square miles.

Twenty-four and a half to thirty—or forty-nine to sixty—there lies the ratio of Ceylon to Scotland. The ratio in population is not less easily remembered: Scotland has now (October 1843) hard upon three millions of people: Ceylon, by a late census, has just three half millions. But strange indeed, where every thing seems strange, is the arrangement of this Ceylonese territory and people. Take a peach: what you call the flesh of the peach, the substance which you eat, is massed orbicularly around a central stone—often as large as a pretty large strawberry. Now in Ceylon, the central district, answering to this peach-stone, constitutes a fierce little Liliputian kingdom, quite independent, through many centuries, of the lazy belt, the peach-flesh, which swathes and enfolds it, and perfectly distinct by the character and origin of its population. The peach-stone is called Kandy, and the people Kandyans. These are a desperate variety of the tiger-man, agile and fierce as he is, though smooth, insinuating, and full of subtlety as a snake, even to the moment of crouching for their last fatal spring. On the other hand the people of the engirdling zone are called the Cinghalese, spelled according to fancy of us authors and compositors, who legislate for the spelling of the British empire, with an S or a C. As to moral virtue, in the sense of integrity or fixed principle, there is not much lost upon either race: in that point they are "much of a muchness." They are also both respectable for their attainments in cowardice; but with this difference, that the Cinghalese are soft, inert, passive cowards: but your Kandyan is a ferocious little bloody coward, full of mischief as a monkey, grinning with desperation, laughing like a hyena, or chattering if you vex him, and never to be trusted for a moment. The reader now understands why we described the Ceylonese man as a tiger-cat in his noblest division: for, after all, these dangerous gentlemen in the peach-stone are a more promising race than the silky and nerveless population surrounding them. You can strike no fire out of the Cinghalese: but the Kandyans show fight continually, and would even persist in fighting, if there were in this world no gunpowder, (which exceedingly they dislike,) and if their allowance of arrack were greater.

Surely this is the very strangest spectacle exhibited on earth: a kingdom within a kingdom, an imperium in imperio, settled and maintaining itself for centuries in defiance of all that Pagan, that Mahommedan, that Jew, or that Christian, could do. The reader will remember the case of the British envoy to Geneva, who being ordered in great wrath to "quit the territories of the republic in twenty-four hours," replied, "By all means: in ten minutes." And here was a little bantam kingdom, not much bigger than the irate republic, having its separate sultan, with full-mounted establishment of peacock's feathers, white elephants, Moorish eunuchs, armies, cymbals, dulcimers, and all kinds of music, tormentors, and executioners; whilst his majesty crowed defiance across the ocean to all other kings, rajahs, soldans, kesars, "flowery" emperors, and "golden-feet," east or west, be the same more or less; and really with some reason. For though it certainly is amusing to hear of a kingdom no bigger than Stirlingshire with the half of Perthshire, standing erect and maintaining perpetual war with all the rest of Scotland, a little nucleus of pugnacity, sixty miles by twenty-four, rather more than a match for the lazy lubber, nine hundred miles long, that dandled it in its arms; yet, as the trick was done, we cease to find it ridiculous.

For the trick was done: and that reminds us to give the history of Ceylon in its two sections, which will not prove much longer than the history of Tom Thumb. Precisely three centuries before Waterloo, viz. Anno Domini 1515, a Portuguese admiral hoisted his sovereign's flag, and formed a durable settlement at Columbo, which was, and is, considered the maritime capital of the island. Very nearly halfway on the interval of time between this event and Waterloo, viz. in 1656 (ante-penultimate year of Cromwell,) the Portuguese [pg 628] nation made over, by treaty, this settlement to the Dutch; which, of itself, seems to mark that the sun of the former people was now declining to the west. In 1796, now forty-seven years ago, it arose out of the French revolutionary war—so disastrous for Holland—that the Dutch surrendered it per force to the British, who are not very likely to surrender it in their turn on any terms, or at any gentleman's request. Up to this time, when Ceylon passed under our flag, it is to be observed that no progress whatever, not the least, had been made in mastering the peach-stone, that old central nuisance of the island. The little monster still crowed, and flapped his wings on his dunghill, as had been his custom always in the afternoon for certain centuries. But nothing on earth is immortal: even mighty bantams must have their decline and fall; and omens began to show out that soon there would be a dust with the new master at Columbo. Seven years after our debut on that stage, the dust began. By the way, it is perhaps an impertinence to remark it, but there certainly is a sympathy between the motions of the Kandyan potentate and our European enemy Napoleon. Both pitched into us in 1803, and we pitched into both in 1815. That we call a coincidence. How the row began was thus: some incomprehensible intrigues had been proceeding for a time between the British governor or commandant, or whatever he might be, and the Kandyan prime minister. This minister, who was a noticeable man, with large grey eyes, was called Pilamé Tilawé. We write his name after Mr Bennett: but it is quite useless to study the pronunciation of it, seeing that he was hanged in 1812 (the year of Moscow)—a fact for which we are thankful as often as we think of it. Pil. (surely Tilawé cannot be pronounced Garlic?) managed to get the king's head into Chancery, and then fibbed him. Why Major-General M'Dowall (then commanding our forces) should collude with Pil Garlic, is past our understanding. But so it was. Pil. said that a certain prince, collaterally connected with the royal house, by name Mootto Sawmé, who had fled to our protection, was, or might be thought to be, the lawful king. Upon which the British general proclaimed him. What followed is too shocking to dwell upon. Scarcely had Mootto, apparently a good creature, been inaugurated, when Pil. proposed his deposition, to which General M'Dowall consented, and his own (Pil.'s) elevation to the throne. It is like a dream to say, that this also was agreed to. King Pil. the First, and, God be thanked! the last, was raised to the—musnud, we suppose, or whatsoever they call it in Pil.'s jargon. So far there was little but farce; now comes the tragedy. A certain Major Davie was placed with a very inconsiderable garrison in the capital of the Kandyan empire, called by name Kandy. This officer, whom Mr Bennett somewhere calls the "gallant," capitulated upon terms, and had the inconceivable folly to imagine that a base Kandyan chief would think himself bound by these terms. One of them was—that he (Major Davie) and his troops should be allowed to retreat unmolested upon Columbo. Accordingly, fully armed and accoutred, the British troops began their march. At Wattépolowa a proposal was made to Major Davie, that Mootto Sawmé (our protégé and instrument) should be delivered up to the Kandyan tiger. Oh! sorrow for the British name! he was delivered. Soon after a second proposal came, that the British soldiers should deliver up their arms, and should march back to Kandy. It makes an Englishman shiver with indignation to hear that even this demand was complied with. Let us pause for one moment. Wherefore is it, that in all similar cases, in this Ceylonese case, in Major Baillie's Mysore case, in the Cabool case, uniformly the privates are wiser than their officers? In a case of delicacy or doubtful policy, certainly the officers would have been the party best able to solve the difficulties; but in a case of elementary danger, where manners disappear, and great passions come upon the stage, strange it is that poor men, labouring men, men without education, always judge more truly of the crisis than men of high refinement. But this was seen by Wordsworth—thus spoke he, thirty-six years ago, of Germany, contrasted with the Tyrol:—

"Her haughty schools

Shall blush; and may not we with sorrow say—

[pg 629]

A few strong instincts, and a few plain rules,

Among the herdsmen of the Alps, have wrought

More for mankind at this unhappy day

Than all the pride of intellect and thought."

The regiment chiefly concerned was the 19th, (for which regiment the word Wattépolowa, the scene of their martyrdom, became afterwards a memorial war-cry.) Still, to this hour, it forces tears of wrath into our eyes when we read the recital of the case. A dozen years ago we first read it in a very interesting book, published by the late Mr Blackwood—the Life of Alexander. This Alexander was not personally present at the bloody catastrophe; but he was in Ceylon at the time, and knew the one sole fugitive18 from that fatal day. The soldiers of the 19th, not even in that hour of horror, forgot their discipline, or their duty, or their respectful attachment to their officers. When they were ordered to ground their arms, (oh, base idiot that could issue such an order!) they remonstrated most earnestly, but most respectfully. Major Davie, agitated and distracted by the scene, himself recalled the order. The men resumed their arms. Alas! again the fatal order was issued; again it was recalled; but finally, it was issued peremptorily. The men sorrowfully obeyed. We hurry to the odious conclusion. In parties of twos and of threes, our brave countrymen were called out by the horrid Kandyan tiger cats. Disarmed by the frenzy of their moonstruck commander, what resistance could they make? One after one the parties, called out to suffer, were decapitated by the executioner. The officers, who had refused to give up their pistols, finding what was going on, blew out their brains with their own hands, now too bitterly feeling how much wiser had been the poor privates than themselves. At length there was stillness on the field. Night had come on. All were gone—

"And darkness was the buryer of the dead."

The reader may recollect a most picturesque murder near Manchester, about thirteen or fourteen years ago, perpetrated by two brothers named McKean, where a servant woman, whose throat had been effectually cut, rose up, after an interval, from the ground at a most critical moment, (so critical, that, by that act, and at that second of time, she drew off the murderer's hand from the throat of a second victim,) staggered, in her delirium, to the door of a room where sometime a club had been held, doubtless under some idea of obtaining aid, and at the door, after walking some fifty feet, dropped down dead. Not less astonishing was the resurrection, as it might be called, of an English corporal, cut, mangled, remangled, and left without sign of life. Suddenly he rose up, stiff and gory; dying and delirious, as he felt himself, with misery from exhaustion and wounds, he swam rivers, threaded enemies, and moving day and night, came suddenly upon an army of Kandyans; here he prepared himself with pleasure for the death that now seemed inevitable, when, by a fortunate accident, for want of a fitter man, he was selected as an ambassador to the English officer commanding a Kandyan garrison—and thus once more escaped miraculously.

Sometimes, when we are thinking over the great scenes of tragedy through which Europe passed from 1805 to 1815, suddenly, from the bosom of utter darkness, a blaze of light arises; a curtain is drawn up; a saloon is revealed. We see a man sitting there alone, in an attitude of alarm and expectation. What does he expect? What is it that he fears? He is listening for the chariot-wheels of a fugitive army. At intervals he raises his head—and we know him now for the Abbé de Pradt—the place, Warsaw—the time, early in December 1812. All at once the rushing of cavalry is heard; the door is thrown open; a stranger enters. We see, as in Cornelius Agrippa's mirror, his haggard features; it is a momentary king, having the sign of a felon's death written secretly on his brow; it is Murat; he raises his hands with a gesture of horror as he advances to M. l'Abbé. We hear his words—"L'Abbé, all is lost!"

Even so, when the English soldier, reeling from his anguish and weariness, was admitted into the [pg 630] beleaguered fortress, his first words, more homely in expression than Murat's, were to the same dreadful purpose—"Your honour," he said, "all is dished;" and this being uttered by way of prologue, he then delivered himself of the message with which he had been charged, and that was a challenge from the Kandyan general to come out and fight without aid from his artillery. The dismal report was just in time; darkness was then coming on. The English officer spiked his guns; and, with his garrison, fled by night from a fort in which else he would have perished by starvation or by storm, had Kandyan forces been equal to such an effort. This corporal was, strictly speaking, the only man who escaped, one or two other survivors having been reserved as captives, for some special reasons. Of this captive party was Major Davie, the commander, whom Mr Bennett salutes by the title of "gallant," and regrets that "the strong arm of death" had intercepted his apology.

He could have made no apology. Plea or palliation he had none. To have polluted the British honour in treacherously yielding up to murder (and absolutely for nothing in return) a prince, whom we ourselves had seduced into rebellion—to have forced his men and officers into laying down their arms, and sueing for the mercy of wretches the most perfidious on earth; these were acts as to which atonement or explanation was hopeless for him, forgiveness impossible for England. So this man is to be called "the gallant"—is he? We will thank Mr Bennett to tell us, who was that officer subsequently seen walking about in Ceylon, no matter whether in Western Columbo, or in Eastern Trincomalé, long enough for reaping his dishonour, though, by accident, not for a court-martial? Behold, what a curse rests in this British island upon those men, who, when the clock of honour has sounded the hour for their departure, cannot turn their dying eyes nobly to the land of their nativity—stretch out their hands to the glorious island in farewell homage, and say with military pride—as even the poor gladiators (who were but slaves) said to Cæsar, when they passed his chair to their death "Morituri te salutamus!" This man and Mr Bennett knows it, because he was incrusted with the leprosy of cowardice, and because upon him lay the blood of those to whom he should have been in loco parentis, made a solitude wherever he appeared, men ran from him as from an incarnation of pestilence; and between him and free intercourse with his countrymen, from the hour of his dishonour in the field, to the hour of his death, there flowed a river of separation—there were stretched lines of interdict heavier than ever Pope ordained—there brooded a schism like that of death, a silence like that of the grave; making known for ever the deep damnation of the infamy, which on this earth settles upon the troubled resting-place of him, who, through cowardice, has shrunk away from his duty, and, on the day of trial, has broken the bond which bound him to his country.

Surely there needed no arrear of sorrow to consummate this disaster. Yet two aggravations there were, which afterwards transpired, irritating the British soldiers to madness. One was soon reported, viz. that 120 sick or wounded men, lying in an hospital, had been massacred without a motive, by the children of hell with whom we were contending. The other was not discovered until 1815. Then first it became known, that in the whole stores of the Kandyan government, (à fortiori then in the particular section of the Kandyan forces which we faced,) there had not been more gunpowder remaining at the hour of Major Davie's infamous capitulation than 750 lbs. avoirdupois; other munitions of war having been in the same state of bankruptcy. Five minutes more of resistance, one inspiration of English pluck, would have placed the Kandyan army in our power—would have saved the honour of the country—would have redeemed our noble soldiers—and to Major Davie, would have made the total difference between lying in a traitor's grave, and lying in Westminster Abbey.

Was there no vengeance, no retribution, for these things? Vengeance there was, but by accident. Retribution there was, but partial and remote. Infamous it was for the English government at Columbo, as Mr Bennett insinuates, that having a large fund disposable annually for secret [pg 631] service, between 1796 and 1803, such a rupture could have happened and have found us unprepared. Equally infamous it was, that summary chastisement was not inflicted upon the perfidious court of Kandy. What real power it had, when unaided by villainy amongst ourselves, was shown in 1804, in the course of which year, one brave officer, Lieutenant Johnstone of the 19th, with no more than 150 men, including officers, marched right through the country, in the teeth of all opposition from the king, and resolutely took19 Kandy in his route. However, for the present, without a shadow of a reason, since all reasons ran in the other direction, we ate our leek in silence; once again, but now for the last time, the bloody little bantam crowed defiance from his dunghill, and tore the British flag with his spurs. What caused his ruin at last, was literally the profundity of our own British humiliation; had that been less, had it not been for the natural reaction of that spectacle, equally hateful and incredible, upon barbarian chief, as ignorant as he was fiendish, he would have returned a civil answer to our subsequent remonstrances. In that case, our government would have been conciliated; and the monster's son, who yet lives in Malabar, would now be reigning in his stead. But Diis aliter visum est—earth was weary of this Kandyan nuisance, and the infatuation, which precipitated its doom, took the following shape. In 1814, certain traders, ten in number, not British but Cinghalese, and therefore British subjects, entitled to British protection, were wantonly molested in their peaceable occupations by this Kandyan king. Three of these traders one day returned to our frontier wearing upon necklaces, inextricably attached to their throats, their own ears, noses, and other parts of their own persons, torn away by the pincers of the Kandyan executioners. The seven others had sunk under their sufferings. Observe that there had been no charge or imputation against these men, more or less: stet proratione voluntas. This was too much even for our all-suffering20 English administration. They sent off a kind of expostulation, which amounted to this—"How now, my good sir? What are you up to?" Fortunately for his miserable subjects, (and, as this case showed, by possibility for many who were not such,) the vain-glorious animal returned no answer; not because he found any diplomatic difficulty to surmount, but in mere self glorification, and in pure disdain of us. What a commentary was that upon our unspeakable folly up to that hour!

We are anxious that the reader should go along with the short remainder of this story, because it bears strongly upon the true moral of our Eastern policy, of which, hereafter, we shall attempt to unfold the casuistry, in a way that will be little agreeable to the calumniators of Clive and Hastings. We do not intend that these men shall have it all their own way in times to come. Our Eastern rulers have erred always, and erred deeply, by doing too little rather than too much. They have been too long-suffering; and have tolerated many nuisances, and many miscreants, when their duty was—when their power was—to have destroyed them for ever. And the capital fault of the East India Company—that greatest benefactor for the East that ever yet has arisen—has been in not publishing to the world the grounds and details of their policy. Let this one chapter in that policy, this Kandyan chapter, proclaim how great must have been the evils from which our "usurpations" (as they are called) have liberated the earth. For let no man dwell on the rarity, or on the limited sphere, of such atrocities, even in Eastern despotisms. If the act be rare, is not the anxiety eternal? If the personal suffering be transitory, is not the outrage upon human sensibilities, upon the [pg 632] majesty of human nature, upon the possibilities of light, order, commerce, civilization, of a duration and a compass to make the total difference between man viler than the brutes, and man a little lower than the angels?

It happened that the first noble, or "Adikar," of the Kandyan king, being charged with treason at this time, had fled to our protection. That was enough. Vengeance on him, in his proper person, had become impossible: and the following was the vicarious vengeance adopted by God's vicegerent upon earth, whose pastime it had long been to study the ingenuities of malice, and the possible refinements in the arts of tormenting. Here follows the published report on this one case:—"The ferocious miscreant determined to be fully revenged, and immediately sentenced the Adikar's wife and children, together with his brother and the brother's wife, to death after the following fashion. The children were ordered to be decapitated before their mother's face, and their heads to be pounded in a rice-mortar by their mother's hands; which, to save herself from a diabolical torture and exposure," (concealments are here properly practised in the report, for the sake of mere human decency,) "she submitted to attempt. The eldest boy shrunk (shrank) from the dread ordeal, and clung to his agonized parent for safety; but his younger brother stepped forward, and encouraged him to submit to his fate, placing himself before the executioner by way of setting an example. The last of the children to be beheaded was an infant at the breast, from which it was forcibly torn away, and its mother's milk was dripping from its innocent mouth as it was put into the hands of the grim executioner." Finally, the Adikar's brother was executed, having no connexion (so much as alleged) with his brother's flight; and then the two sisters-in-law, having stones attached to their feet, were thrown into a tank. These be thy gods, O Egypt! such are the processes of Kandyan law, such is its horrid religion, and such the morality which it generates! And let it not be said, these were the excesses of a tyrant. Man does not brutalize, by possibility, in pure insulation. He gives, and he receives. It is by sympathy, by the contagion of example, by reverberation of feelings, that every man's heart is moulded. A prince, to have been such as this monster, must been bred amongst a cruel people: a cruel people, as by other experience we know them to be, naturally produce an inhuman prince, and such a prince reproduces his own corrupters.

Vengeance, however, was now at hand: a better and more martial governor, Sir Robert Brownrigg, was in the field since 1812. On finding that no answer was forthcoming, he marched with all his forces. But again these were inadequate to the service; and once again, as in 1803, we were on the brink of being sacrificed to the very lunacies of retrenchment. By a mere godsend, more troops happened to arrive from the Indian continent. We marched in triumphal ease to the capital city of Kandy. The wicked prince fled: Major Kelly pursued him—to pursue was to overtake—to overtake was to conquer. Thirty-seven ladies of his zenana, and his mother, were captured elsewhere: and finally the whole kingdom capitulated by a solemn act, in which we secured to it what we had no true liberty to secure, viz. the inviolability of their horrid idolatries. Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's—but this was not Cæsar's. Whether in some other concessions, whether in volunteering certain civil privileges of which the conquered had never dreamed, and which, for many a long year they will not understand, our policy were right or wrong—may admit of much debate. Often-times, but not always, it is wise and long-sighted policy to presume in nations higher qualities than they have, and developments beyond what really exist. But as to religion, there can be no doubt, and no debate at all. To exterminate their filthy and bloody abominations of creed and of ritual practice, is the first step to any serious improvement of the Kandyan people: it is the conditio sine quâ non of all regeneration for this demoralized race. And what we ought to have promised, all that in mere civil equity we had the right to promise; was—that we would tolerate such follies, would make no war upon such superstitions as should not be openly immoral. One word more than this covenant was equally beyond the powers of one party to that covenant, and the highest interests of all parties.

Philosophically speaking, this great [pg 633] revolution may not close perhaps for centuries: historically, it closed about the opening of the Hundred Days in the annus mirabilis of Waterloo. On the 13th of February 1815, Kandy, the town, was occupied by the British troops, never again to be resigned. In March, followed the solemn treaty by which all parties assumed their constitutional stations. In April, occurred the ceremonial part of the revolution, its public notification and celebration, by means of a grand processional entry into the capital, stretching for upwards of a mile; and in January 1816, the late king, now formally deposed, "a stout, good-looking Malabar, with a peculiarly keen and roving eye, and a restlessness of manner, marking unbridled passions," was conveyed in the governor's carriage to the jetty at Trincomalee, from which port H.M.S. Mexico conveyed him to the Indian continent: he was there confined in the fortress of Vellore, famous for the bloody mutiny amongst the Company's sepoy troops, so bloodily suppressed. In Vellore, this cruel prince, whose name was Sree Wickremé Rajah Singha, died some years after; and one son whom he left behind him, born during his father's captivity, may still be living. But his ambitious instincts, if any such are working within him, are likely to be seriously baffled in the very outset by the precautions of our diplomacy; for one article of the treaty proscribes the descendants of this prince as enemies of Ceylon, if found within its precincts. In this exclusion, pointed against a single family, we are reminded of the Stuart dynasty in England, and the Bonaparte dynasty in France. We cannot, however, agree with Mr Bennett's view of this parallelism—either in so far as it points our pity towards Napoleon, or in so far as it points the regrets of disappointed vengeance to the similar transportation of Sree.

Pity is misplaced upon Napoleon, and anger is wasted upon Sree. He ought to have been hanged, says Mr Bennett; and so said many of Napoleon. But it was not our mission to punish either. The Malabar prince had broken no faith with us: he acted under the cursed usages of a cruel people and a bloody religion. These influences had trained a bad heart to corresponding atrocities. Courtesy we did right to pay him, for our own sakes as a high and noble nation. What we could not punish judicially, it did not become us to revile. And finally, we much doubt whether hanging upon a tree, either in Napoleon's case or Sree's, would not practically have been found by both a happy liberation from that bitter cup of mortification which both drank off in their latter years.

At length, then, the entire island of Ceylon, about a hundred days before Waterloo, had become ours for ever. Hereafter Ceylon must inseparably attend the fortunes of India. Whosoever in the East commands the sea, must command the southern empires of Asia; and he who commands those empires, must for ever command the Oriental islands. One thing only remains to be explained; and the explanation, we fear, will be harder to understand than the problem: it is—how the Portuguese and Dutch failed, through nearly three centuries, to master this little obstinate nucleus of the peach. It seems like a fairy tale to hear the answer: Sinbad has nothing wilder. "They were," says Mr Bennett, "repeatedly masters of the capital." What was it, then, that stopped them from going on? "At one period, the former (i.e. the Portuguese) had conquered all but the impregnable position called Kandi Udda." And what was it then that lived at Kandi Udda? The dragon of Wantley? or the dun cow of Warwick? or the classical Hydra? No; it was thus:—Kandi was "in the centre of the mountainous region, surrounded by impervious jungles, with secret approaches for only one man at a time." Such tricks might have answered in the time of Ali Baba and the forty thieves; but we suspect that, even then, an "open sesame" would have been found for this pestilent defile. Smoking a cigar through it, and dropping the sparks, might have done the business in the dry season. But, in very truth, we imagine that political arrangements were answerable for this long failure in checkmating the king, and not at all the cunning passage which carried only one inside passenger. The Portuguese permitted the Kandyan natives to enter their army; and that one fact gives us a short solution of the case. For, as Mr Bennett observes, the principal features of these Kandyans are merely "human imitations of their own [pg 634] indigenous leopards—treachery and ferocity," as the circumstances may allow them to profit by one or the other. Sugarcandy, however, appears to have given very little trouble to us; and, at all events, it is ours now, together with all that is within its gates. It is proper, however, to add, that since the conquest of this country in 1815, there have been three rebellions, viz. in 1817-18, in 1834, and finally in 1842. This last comes pretty well home to our own times and concerns; so that we naturally become curious as to the causes of such troubles. The two last are said to have been inconsiderable in their extent. But the earlier of the three, which broke out so soon after the conquest as 1817, must, we conceive, have owed something to intrigues promoted on behalf of the exiled king. His direct lineal descendants are excluded, as we have said, from the island for ever; but his relatives, by whom we presume to be meant his cognati or kinspeople in the female line, not his agnati, are allowed to live in Kandy, suffering only the slight restriction of confinement to one street out of five, which compose this ancient metropolis. Meantime, it is most instructive to hear the secret account of those causes which set in motion this unprincipled rebellion. For it will thus be seen how hopeless it is, under the present idolatrous superstition of Ceylon, to think of any attachment in the people, by means of good government, just laws, agriculture promoted, or commerce created. More stress will be laid, by the Ceylonese, on our worshipping a carious tooth two inches long, ascribed to the god Buddha, (but by some to an ourang-outang,) than to every mode of equity, good faith, or kindness. It seems that the Kandyans and we reciprocally misunderstood the ranks, orders, precedencies, titular distinctions, and external honours attached to them in our several nations. But none are so deaf as those that have no mind to hear. And we suspect that our honest fellows of the 19th Regiment, whose comrades had been murdered in their beds by the cursed Kandyan "nobles," neither did nor would understand the claim of such assassins to military salutes, to the presenting of arms, or to the turning out of the guard. Here, it is said, began the ill-blood, and also on the claim of the Buddhist priests to similar honours. To say the simple truth, these soldiers ought not to have been expected to show respect towards the murderers of their brethren. The priests, with their shaven crowns and yellow robes, were objects of mere mockery to the British soldier. "Not to have been kicked," it should have been said, "is gain; not to have been cudgeled, is for you a ground of endless gratitude. Look not for salutes; dream not of honours." For our own part—again we say it—let the government look a-head for endless insurrections. We tax not the rulers of Ceylon with having caused the insurrections. We hold them blameless on that head; for a people so fickle and so unprincipled will never want such matter for rebellion as would be suspected, least of all, by a wise and benevolent man. But we do tax the local government with having ministered to the possibility of rebellion. We British have not sowed the ends and objects of conspiracies; but undoubtedly, by our lax administration, we have sowed the means of conspiracies. We must not transfer to a Pagan island our own mild code of penal laws: the subtle savage will first become capable of these, when he becomes capable of Christianity. And to this we must now bend our attention. Government must make no more offerings of musical clocks to the Pagan temples; for such propitiations are understood by the people to mean—that we admit their god to be naturally stronger than ours. Any mode or measure of excellence but that of power, they understand not, as applying to a deity. Neither must our government any longer wink at such monstrous practices as that of children ejecting their dying parents, in their last struggles, from the shelter of their own roofs, on the plea that death would pollute their dwellings. Such compliances with Paganism, make Pagans of ourselves. Nor, again, ought the professed worship of devils to be tolerated, more than the Fetish worship, or the African witchcraft, was tolerated in the West Indies. Having, at last, obtained secure possession of the entire island, with no reversionary fear over our heads, (as, up to Waterloo, we always had,) that possibly at a general peace we might find it diplomatically prudent to let it return under Dutch possession, we have no excuse for any longer neglecting the jewel in our [pg 635] power. We gave up to Holland, through unwise generosity, already one splendid island, viz. Java. Let one such folly suffice for one century.

For the same reason—namely, the absolute and undivided possession which we now hold of the island—it is at length time that our home government should more distinctly invite colonists, and make known the unrivaled capabilities of this region. So vast are our colonial territories, that for every class in our huge framework of society we have separate and characteristic attractions. In some it is chiefly labour that is wanted, capital being in excess. In others these proportions are reversed. In some it is great capitalists that are wanted for the present; in others almost exclusively small ones. Now, in Ceylon, either class will be welcome. It ought also to be published every where, that immediately after the conquest of Kandy, the government entered upon the Roman career of civilization, and upon that also which may be considered peculiarly British. Military roads were so carried as to pierce and traverse all the guilty fastnesses of disease, and of rebellion by means of disease. Bridges, firmly built of satin-wood, were planted over every important stream. The Kirimé canal was completed in the most eligible situation. The English institution of mail-coaches was perfected in all parts of the island. At this moment there are three separate modes of itinerating through the island—viz., by mail-coach, by buggy, or by palanquin; to say nothing of the opportunities offered at intervals, along the maritime provinces, for coasting by ships or boats. To the botanist, the mineralogist, the naturalist, the sportsman, Ceylon offers almost a virgin Eldorado. To a man wishing to combine the lucrative pursuits of the colonist with the elegances of life, and with the comforts of compatriot society, not (as in Australia, or in American back settlements) to weather the hardships of Robinson Crusoe, the invitations from the infinite resources of Ceylon are past all count or estimate. "For my own part," says Mr Bennett, who is now a party absolutely disinterested, "having visited all but the northern regions of the globe, I have seen nothing to equal this incomparable country." Here a man may purchase land, with secure title, and of a good tenure, at five shillings the acre; this, at least, is the upset price, though in some privileged situations it is known to have reached seventeen shillings. A house may be furnished in the Morotto style, and with luxurious contrivances for moderating the heat in the hotter levels of the island, at fifty pounds sterling. The native furniture is both cheap and excellent in quality, every way superior, intrinsically, to that which, at five times the cost, is imported from abroad. Labour is pretty uniformly at the rate of six-pence English for twelve hours. Provisions of every sort and variety are poured out in Ceylon from an American cornucopia of some Saturnian age. Wheat, potatoes, and many esculent plants, or fruits, were introduced by the British in the great year, (and for this island, in the most literal sense, the era of a new earth and new heavens)—the year of Waterloo. From that year dates, for the Ceylonese, the day of equal laws for rich and poor, the day of development out of infant and yet unimproved advantages; finally—if we are wise, and they are docile—the day of a heavenly religion displacing the avowed worship of devils, and giving to the people a new nature, a new heart, and hopes as yet not dawning upon their dreams. How often has it been said by the vile domestic calumniators of British policy, by our own anti-national deceivers, that if tomorrow we should leave India, no memorial would attest that ever we had been there. Infamous falsehood! damnable slander! Speak, Ceylon, to that. True it is, that the best of our gifts—peace, freedom, security, and a new standard of public morality—these blessings are like sleep, like health, like innocence, like the eternal revolutions of day and night, which sink inaudibly into human hearts, leaving behind (as sweet vernal rains) no flaunting records of ostentation and parade; we are not the nation of triumphal arches and memorial obelisks; but the sleep, the health, the innocence, the grateful vicissitudes of seasons, reproduce themselves in fruits and products enduring for generations, and overlooked by the slanderer only because they are too diffusive to be noticed as extraordinary, and benefiting by no light of contrast, simply because our own beneficence has swept away the ancient wretchedness that could have furnished that [pg 636] contrast. Ceylon, of itself, can reply victoriously to such falsehoods. Not yet fifty years have we held this island; not yet thirty have we had the entire possession of the island; and (what is more important to a point of this nature) not yet thirty have we had that secure possession which results from the consciousness that our government is not meditating to resign it. Previously to Waterloo, our tenure of Ceylon was a provisional tenure. With the era of our Kandyan conquest coincides the era of our absolute appropriation, signed and countersigned for ever. The arrangements, of that day at Paris, and by a few subsequent Congresses of revision, are like the arrangements of Westphalia in 1648—valid until Christendom shall be again convulsed to her foundations. From that date is, therefore, justly to be inaugurated our English career of improvement. Of the roads laid open through the island, we have spoken. The attempts at improvement of the agriculture and horticulture furnish matter already for a romance, if told of any other than this wonderful labyrinth of climates. The openings for commercial improvement are not less splendid. It is a fact infamous to the Ceylonese, that an island, which might easily support twenty millions of people, has been liable to famine, not unfrequently, with a population of fifteen hundred thousand. This has already ceased to be a possibility: is that a blessing of British rule? Not only many new varieties of rice have been introduced, and are now being introduced, adapted to opposite extremes of weather: and soil—some to the low grounds warm and abundantly irrigated, some to the dry grounds demanding far less of moisture—but also other and various substitutes have been presented to Ceylon. Manioc, maize, the potato, the turnip, have all been cultivated. Mr Bennett himself would, in ancient Greece, have had many statues raised to his honour for his exemplary bounties of innovation. The food of the people is now secure. And, as regard their clothing or their exports, there is absolutely no end to the new prospects opened before them by the English. Is cotton a British gift? Is sugar? Is coffee? We are not the men lazily and avariciously to anchor our hopes on a pearl fishery; we rouse the natives to cultivate their salt fish and shark fisheries. Tea will soon be cultivated more hopefully than in Assam. Sugar, coffee, cinnamon, pepper, are all cultivated already. Silk worms and mulberry-trees were tried with success, and opium with virtual success, (though in that instance defeated by an accident,) under the auspices of Mr Bennett. Hemp (and surely it is wanted?) will be introduced abundantly: indigo is not only grown in plenty, but it appears that a beautiful variety of indigo, a violet-coloured indigo, exists as a weed in Ceylon. Finally, in the running over hastily the summa genera of products by which Ceylon will soon make her name known to the ends of the earth, we may add, that salt provisions in every kind, of which hitherto Ceylon did not furnish an ounce, will now be supplied redundantly; the great mart for this will be in the vast bosom of the Indian ocean; and at the same time we shall see the scandal wiped away—that Ceylon, the headquarters of the British navy in the East, could not supply a cock-boat in distress with a week's salt provisions, from her own myriads of cattle, zebus, buffaloes, or cows.

Ceylon has this one disadvantage for purposes of theatrical effect; she is like a star rising heliacally, and hidden in the blaze of the sun: any island, however magnificent, becomes lost in the blaze of India. But that does not affect the realities of the case. She has that within which passes show. Her one calamity is in the laziness of her native population; though in this respect the Kandyans are a more hopeful race than the Cinghalese. But the evil for both is, that they want the motives to exertion. These will be created by a new and higher civilization. Foreign labourers will also be called for; a mixed race will succeed in the following generations; and a mixed breed in man is always an improved breed. Witness every where the people of colour contrasted with the blacks. Then will come the great race between man indefinitely exalted, and glorious tropical nature indefinitely developed. Ceylon will be born again, in our hands she will first answer to the great summons of nature; and will become, in fact, what by Providential destiny, she is—the queen lotus of the Indian seas, and the Pandora of islands.

[pg 637]



In our September number, we succeeded in establishing the fact, upon the best official records which could be accessible either to ourselves or to Mr Cobden, that the renowned Leaguer had magnified that portion of the army estimates, or expenditure, falling properly under the lead of colonial charge, by about thirty-five per cent beyond its real amount, as tested seriatim and starting upon his own arithmetical elements of gross numbers and values. We arrived at the truth by the careful process of dissecting, analysing, and classifying, under each colonial head, the various items of which his gross sum of aggregates must necessarily be composed; and the result was, that of the four millions and a-half sterling, with such dauntless assurance set down as the proportion of army charge incurred for the colonies by the parent state, it was found, and proved in detail by official returns, colony by colony, and summed up in tabular array at the close, that the very conscientiously calculating Leaguer had made no scruple, under his lumping system, of overlaying colonial trade with upwards of one million and a half of army expenditure, one million and a quarter of which, in all probability, appertaining to, and forming part of the cost nationally at which foreign trade was carried on. The cunning feat was bravely accomplished by ranging Gibraltar, Malta, &c. &c., as trading and producing colonies, for the purpose of swelling out the colonial army cost; whilst, to complete the cheat cleverly, they were again turned to account in his comparative statistics of foreign and colonial trade, to the detriment of the latter, by carrying all the commerce with, or through them, to the credit of foreign trade. This was ringing the changes to one tune with some effect, for the time being—and so astutely timed and intended, that no discussion could be taken in the House of Commons upon the informal motion, serving as the peg on which to hang the prepared speech of deceptive figures and assertions inflicted on the House the 22d of June last; whilst thus, as the Leaguer shrewdly anticipated, it might run uncontroverted for months to come until another session, and, through Anti-Corn-Law circulars and tracts of the League, do the dirty work of the time for which concocted, when no matter how consigned and forgotten afterwards among the numberless other lies of the day, fabricated by the League. Unluckily for the crafty combination, Blackwood was neither slow to detect, nor tardy in unmasking, the premeditated imposture, the crowning and final points of which we now propose to deal with and demolish. Betwixt the relative importance in the cost, and in the profit and loss sense, of foreign and colonial trade, on which the question of the advantages or disadvantages attending the possession or retention of colonies is made exclusively to hinge, with a narrow-mindedness incapable of appreciating the other high political and social interests, the moral and religious considerations, moreover, involved—we shall now proceed with the task of arbitrating and striking the balance. If that balance should little correspond with the bold and unscrupulous allegations of Mr Cobden—if it should be found to derogate from the assumed super-eminence of the foreign trading interest over the colonial, let it be remembered that the invidious discussion was not raised by us, nor by any member of the Legislature who can rightfully be classed as the representative of great national and constitutional principles; that the distinction and disjunction of interests, both national, with the absurd attempt unduly to elevate the one by unjustly depreciating the other, is the work of the League alone, which, having originated the senseless cry of "class interests," would seem doggedly determined to establish the fact, per fas et nefas, as the means of funding and perpetuating class divisions.

[pg 638]
In our last number, we left Mr Cobden's
   sum total of army expenditure
   for colonial account
   charged by him, at                                  L.4,500,000
Reduced by deductions for
   military and other stations,
   maintained for the
   protection and promotion
   of foreign trade,
   for the suppression of
   slave dealing, and as penal
   colonies, in the total
   amount of —                                           1,550,000

To apparent colonial
   charge, —                                           L.2,950,000

We have, however, to reform this statement, so far as Mr Cobden's basis upon which founded. Accustomed to his blunders undesigned and mistatements intentional as we are, it is not always easy to ascertain their extent at the moment. Thus, the army estimates for 1843, amounting to L.6,225,000 in the whole, as he states, include a charge of, say about L.2,300,000 for "half-pay, pensions, superannuations, &c.," for upwards of 80,000 officers and men. This fact it suited his convenience to overlook. Now, of this number of men it is not perhaps too much to assume, that more than one-half consists of the noble wreck and remainder of those magnificent armies led to victory by the illustrious Wellington, but certainly not in the colonies, and the present cost of half-pay and invaliding not therefore chargeable to colonial account. It may be taken for granted, that at least to the amount of L.1,300,000 should be placed against ancient foreign service, separate from colonial; whilst, for the balance, home, foreign, and colonial service since the war may be admitted to enter in certain proportions each. Deducting, in the first place, from the total estimates of, say

The "dead-weight" of
  pensions, &c.,                                         2,300,000
We have, as expenditure
   for military force on
   foot, L.3,925,000, but
   say —                                               L.4,000,000
Taking the Cobden dictum
   of three-fourths of
   this charge for the colonies,
   we have in round
   numbers, say —                                        3,000,000
And the incredibly absurd
   sum left for home and
   foreign service of                                  L.1,000,000

As we have, in our last number, established deductions from the gross sum of L.4,500,000 put down to the colonies by Mr Cobden, to the amount of L.1,550,000, we shall now remodel our table thus:—

To colonial account, as per Mr Cobden, of active
   force, —                                            L.3,000,000
Add colonial proportion of half-pay, pensions,
   &c., as per id., three-fourths of L.1,000,000           750,000

Deduct military and other stations, falsely called
   colonial, as per former account, —                  L.1,550,000
Deduct again charges for the Chinese war, exact
   amount unknown, deceptively included in colonial
   account—say for only                                    250,000
Approximate, but still surcharged proportion of army estimates
   for colonial service, on Mr Cobden's absurd basis of
   three-fourths,                                      L.1,950,000

This is a woful falling off from Mr Cobden's wholesale colonial invoice of four and a half millions sterling! It amounts to a discount or rebate upon his statistical ware of L.2,550,000, or say, not far short of sixty per cent. Had the Leaguer been in the habit of dealing cotton wares to his customers, so damaged in texture or colours as are his wares political and economical, we are inclined to conceit, that he would long since have arrived at the finiquito de todas cuentas.

We now come to his naval cost of colonies, with a margin for ordnance as well. On this head, Mr Cobden remarks, with much sagacity—and, for once, Mr Cobden states one fact in [pg 639] which we may agree with him:—"But the colonies had no ships to form a navy. The mother country had to send them ships to guard their territories, which were not paid for by the colonies, but out of the taxation of this country. The navy estimates for this year amounted to L.6,322,000. He had no means of ascertaining what proportion of this large amount was required for their colonies; but a very large proportion of it was taken for the navy in their colonies. The ordnance estimate was L.1,849,142, a large share of which was required for their colonial expenditure. The House would find, that from the lowest estimate, from L.5,000,000 to L.6,000,000 out of the taxes of this country were required for maintaining their colonial army and navy." True it is, the colonies have no ships of war; true, the navy expenses count for the gigantic sum stated—in the estimates at least, and estimates seldom fall short, however budgets may; true, also, that ordnance is the heavy item represented. And we also are without the means for any, not to say accurate, but fair approximative estimate of the proportion of this expenditure which may be incurred for, and duly chargeable against the colonies. In the case of the army, as we have shown, the possession and facilities of reference to documents, enabled us to resolve Mr Cobden's bill of totals, in one line, into the elements of which composed, to classify the items under distinct heads, and so to detect the errors, and redress the balance of his own account. The authorities, of official origin mostly, to which we had recourse, were equally open to Cobden, had he been actuated by an anxious desire to arrive at the truth, earnest in his enquiries after the means of information, laborious in his investigations, and, beyond all, with honesty of purpose resolved nothing to withhold, nor aught to set down in malice, as the result of his researches. Unfortunately, the navy is not a stationary body, as the army may be said to be; squadrons are not fixtures like corps in garrison; here to-day and gone to morrow. The naval strength on the various stations, never permanent, escapes calculation, as the due apportionment of expenditure between each, and again of the quotas corresponding to the colonies or to foreign commerce alone, defies any approach to accurate analysis. But we have at least common observation and common sense to satisfy us that but a small proportion of the naval outlay can be justly laid to colonial account, because so unimportant a proportion of the naval armament afloat, can be required for colonial service or defence. We have, assuredly, a certain number of gun-boats and schooners on the Canadian lakes, which are purely for colonial purposes; and we may have some half-a-dozen vessels of war prowling about the St Lawrence and the British American waters, which may range under the colonial category. Wherever else our eyes be cast, it would be difficult to find one colony, east or west, which can be said to need, or gratuitously to be favoured with, a naval force for protection. We have a naval station at Halifax chargeable colonially. We have also a naval station, with headquarters at Jamaica, but certainly that forms no part of a colonial appendage. The whole of the force on that station is employed either in cruizing after slavers, and assisting to put down the slave trade, or it is hovering about the shores of the Spanish Main and the Gulf of Mexico, for the protection of British foreign commerce, for redressing the wrongs to British subjects and interests in Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, or Hayti, or for conveying foreign specie and bullion from those countries for the behoof of British merchants at home. We have a naval station at the Cape of Good Hope, with the maintenance of which, that colony, Australia, New Zealand, &c., may be partly debited. And we have a naval station in India, the expense of which, so far as required for that great colonial empire, is, we believe, borne entirely by India herself. But by far the largest proportion of the expense is incurred, as the great bulk of the force is destined, for the protection of foreign commerce in the Indian and Chinese seas.

If we are to seek where the British navy is really to be found and heard of in masses, we have only to voyage to Brazil, where whole squadrons divide their occupations betwixt coursing slavers and waiting upon foreign commerce. Further south, we find the River Plate blocked up with [pg 640] British war ships, watching over the interests of British commerce, and interposing betwixt the lives and properties of thousands of British subjects, and the unslaked thirst of the daggers of Rosas and his sanguinary Mas-horcas, that Ægis flag before which the most fearless and ferocious have quailed, and quail yet. So also, rounding Cape Horn, traversing the vast waters of the Great Pacific, the British ensign may ever be met, and swarming, too, on those west and northwestern coasts of Spanish America, where, as from Bolivia to California, war and anarchy eternal seem to reign. Assuredly, no colonial interests, and as little do political combinations, carry to those far off regions, and there keep, such large detachments of the British fleet. Nearer home we need not signalize the Mediterranean and Levant, where British navies range as if hereditary owners of those seas nor the western coasts of Spain, along which duly cruise our men-of-war, keeping watch and ward; certainly in neither one case nor the other for colonial objects.

From this sweep over the seas, it may readily be gathered how comparatively insignificant the proportion in which the British colonies are amenable for the cost of the British navy; and, on the contrary, how large the cost incurred for the guardianship of the foreign commerce of Great Britain. In the absence of those authentic data which would warrant the construction of approximate estimates, we are willing, however, as before, to accept the basis of Mr Cobden's—not calculations, but—rough guesses; and as the colonial share of army, navy, and ordnance estimates altogether, he taxes in "from five to six millions," of which four and a half millions, according to a previous statement of his, were for the army alone, we arrive at the simple fact, that the navy and ordnance are rated rather widely at a cost ranging from half a million to one million and a half sterling per annum. The mean term of this would be three quarters of a million; but truth may afford to be liberal, and so we throw in the other quarter, and debit the colonies with one million sterling for naval service, which, so far as isolated sections of the great body political, they can hardly be said, with exceptions noted before, either to receive or need. We have before, and we believe conclusively, disposed of Mr Cobden's colonial army estimates; and now we arrive at the total burden, under the weight of which the empire staggers on colonial account.

Army charge, L.1,950,000, but say                       L.2,000,000
Navy and Ordnance,                                        1,000,000
Total to Colonial debit,                                L.3,000,000

Mr Cobden enumerates a variety of expenditure against the colonies besides, under the head of civil establishments, public works, and grants for educational and religious purposes. We need not—there is no occasion to discuss these minutiæ with him; we prefer to make him a bargain at once, and so we throw in, against these civil contingencies for the colonies, the whole lump of the estimates for the diplomatic and consular service, Dr Bowring's commissionerships inclusive; all the charges for civil government, education, religion, public works, &c., besides of those stations, such as Gibraltar, Malta, the Ionian Isles, Singapore, Penang, &c., occupied altogether, or chiefly, for the purposes of foreign commerce, partially from political views, but assuredly not at all with reference to colonial objects. If he be not content with this bargain of a set-off, we are quite ready to call over the account with him at any time, crediting him not more liberally than justly besides, with all the prodigal waste imposed upon the country by the colonial imposture facetiously styled the "self-supporting system," in his smart exposure of which our sympathies are all with him, zealous advocates though we be of colonization, of colonization on a national scale moreover, and therefore on a national and commensurate scale of expenditure; which, however, can only be undertaken by the government when the fiat of financial insolvency which, with the Exchequer bill fraud, was the last legacy of Mr Spring Rice and Lord Monteagle, shall be superseded, and the Treasury rehabilitated, and then only by slow [pg 641] degrees, but sure. An individual may, perchance, thrive upon an imposture, a government never; the late Ministry are the living evidence of the truth. We can comprehend "self-supporting colonization" in the individual sense of the pioneers and backwoodsmen of the United States; in the "squatting" upon wild lands in Canada and the West Indies; in the settlement of isolated adventurers among the savages of New Zealand; but the "self-supporting" settlement of communities, or, as more fancifully expressed, of "society in frame," is just as sound in principle, and as possible in practice, as would be the calculation of the Canadian shipwright, who should nail together a mass of boards and logs as a leviathan lumber ship for the transport of timber, on the calculation that at the end of the voyage it would be rated A1 at Lloyd's, or grow into the solid power and capacity of a first-rate Indiaman, or man-of-war. We all know that such timber floaters went to wreck in the first gale on our coasts; the crews, indeed, did not always perish, they were only tossed about at the mercy of the winds and waves with the wooden lumber which would not sink, so long as hunger and helplessness did not disable hands and limbs from holding fast. And just so with the "self-supporting system of colonization."

Having ascertained, upon bases laid down by Mr Cobden himself, but without adopting his slashing unproved totals, the extent to which colonial trade is criminally accessory to the financial burdens of the United Kingdom, (not, by the way, of the empire of which they form a component part,) it behoves us now to establish the proportion in which we are taxed for foreign trade, for there is clearly more than one vulture preying upon the vitals of this unhappy land.

We established, in our September number, an army cost of about L.1,200,000 against foreign trade for Gibraltar, Malta, the Ionian Islands, Singapore, Penang, &c. We may add, as a very low valuation, in the absence of accounts, L.250,000 more for the war with China. Of the estimates for the navy, L.6,322,000, and ordnance, L.1,849,000—total, L.8,175,000;—we are fully entitled to charge about three-eighths to foreign commerce, or say L.3,000,000. The numerous and extensive naval stations kept up for the protection of our foreign commerce exclusively, together with the Mediterranean, Levant, and Spanish coast naval expenditure, to no inconsiderable extent for the same object, will sufficiently justify this estimate. We have apportioned one million of the naval and ordnance estimates for colonial purposes; one million more may be safely placed to the account of the slave trade; the remainder, L.3,175,000, is certainly an ample allowance for home naval stations, Channel fleet, if there be any, Mediterranean and other naval armaments, so far as for political objects only. We remain, therefore, for foreign trade with—

Garrisons, Gibraltar, &c., and reliefs at home,         L.1,200,000
War with China,                                             250,000
Navy and Ordnance,                                        3,000,000
    Total cost of foreign trade,                        L.4,450,000
    Id. colonial, as before stated,                       3,000,000
    Excess foreign,                                     L.1,450,000

This excess might justly be swelled to at least half a million more by a surcharge of army expenditure in China; of navy expenditure on foreign stations, that for China is not taken into account at all; and in respect of various other items of smaller consideration, separately, although in the aggregate of consideration, the account might still more be aggravated. There would be some difficulty, it must be allowed, in clearly disinvolving them from masses of general statements, although for an approximate valuation it might not amount to an impossibility; we prefer, however, to leave Mr Cobden in possession of all the advantages we cannot make a clear title to. The advantages, indeed, are of dubious title, and something of the same kind as the entry into a house of [pg 642]which the owner cannot be found, or of which he cannot lay his hands on the title-deeds.

We have now disposed of the preposterous exaggerations of the anti-colonial school, so far as that school can be said to be represented by Mr Alderman Cobden, under the head of colonial cost to the metropolitan state. We have reduced his amount of that cost to its fair approximate proportions, item by item, of gross charge, so far as we are enabled by those parliamentary or colonial documents, possessing the character of official or quasi-official origin. We have necessarily followed up this portion of our vindication of the colonies from unjust aspersions by a concurrent enquiry into the cost at which our foreign trade is carried on, in the national sense of the military, naval, and other establishments required and kept up for its protection and encouragement. And, finally, we have struck the balance between the two, the results of which are already before the public.

There remains one other essential part of the duty we have undertaken to fulfill. It is true that it did not suit the purposes of Mr Cobden to enter himself into any investigation of the comparative profitableness of foreign and colonial commerce, nor did he, doubtless, desire to provoke such an investigation on the part of others. With the cunning of a prejudiced partizan, he was content to skim superficially the large economical question he had not scrupled to raise from the depths of discomfiture and oblivion, in which abandoned by the colonial detractors, his predecessors, who had tried their art to conjure "spirits from the vasty deep," which would not come when they did "call for them." With gross numerical proportions apparently in his favour, but well-grounded convictions that more might be discovered than met the eye, or squared with the desire, should the component elements of those proportions be respectively submitted to the process of dissection, he preferred to leave the tale half told, the subject less than half discussed, rather than challenge the certain exposure of the fallacious assumptions on which he had reconstructed a seemingly plausible, but really shallow dogma. A foreign export trade of thirty-five millions he wished the world to believe must represent, proportionally, a larger amount of profit, than sixteen millions of colonial export trade; that the difference, in fact, would be as thirty-five to sixteen, and so, according to his Cockerian rule of calculation, it should be. But, it is said and agreed, that two and two do not always make four, as in the present case will be verified. We may, indeed, place the matter beyond dispute, by a homely illustration level to every man's capacity. For example, a Manchester banker, dealing in money, shall turn over in discounts and accounts-current, with a capital of L.100,000, the sum of one million sterling per annum. As he charges interest in current-account at the rate of 5 per cent, so he allows the same. His profit, therefore, quoad the interest on current-accounts and balances in hand, is nil; but for the trouble of managing accounts and for discounts, his charge is five shillings per L.100. In lending out his capital, he realises five per cent more upon that. But the return upon capital embarked, say, in the cotton manufacture, is calculated, at the least, at an average of fifteen per cent. What, then, are the relative profit returns upon the same sum-total of operations for the banker and manufacturer?

                        Manufacturer's Balance Sheet.

                                                           On Capital.
Operations, L.1,000,000      Capital, L.100,000      Profit, 15 per cent, L.15,000

                            Banker's Balance Sheet.

Operations, L.1,000,000      Profit thereon, 5s. per L.100,   L.2500
Capital,        100,000      Interest thereon, 5 per cent,      5000
                                        Return on Capital,    ——————         7,500
                               Excess manufacturing profit,                L.7,500

That is, double the amount, or, as rateably may be said, 100 per cent greater profit for the manufacturer than the banker. Now, what is true [pg 643] of banking and commerce, may be—often is, true of one description of commerce, as compared with another.

It is not meant to be inferred, however, that applied to colonial trade, as compared with foreign trade, the analogy holds good to all the extent; but that it does in degree, there can be no doubt, and we are prepared to show. It will, we know, be urged, that there can be no two sale prices for the same commodity in the same market, a dictum we are not disposed to impugn; but we shall not so readily subscribe to the doctrine, that the prices in the home and colonial markets are absolutely controlled and equalized by those of the foreign market. This is a rule absolute, not founded in truth, but contradicted by every day's experience. It would be equally correct to assert, that the lower rates of labour in the European foreign market, or the higher rates in the North American, controlled and equalized in the one sense, and in the other opposing, the rates in this country, than which no assertion could be more irreconcilable with fact. Prices and labour rates elsewhere, exercise an influence doubtless, and would have more in the absence of other conditions and counteracting influences, partly arising from natural, partly from artificially created causes. Prices, in privileged home and colonial markets, cannot generally fall to the same level as in foreign neutral markets, or, as in foreign protected markets, where the rates of labour are low. Keen as is the competition in the privileged home and colonial trade among the domestic and entitled manufacturers themselves, it will hardly be denied that larger as well as more steady profits are realized from those trades than from the foreign and fluctuating trade, exposed, as in most cases the latter is, to high fiscal, restrictive, and capricious burdens. These, pro tanto, shut out competition with the protected foreign producer, unless the importer consent to be cut down to such a modicum of price or profit, as shall barely, or not at all, return the simple interest of capital laid out. Such is the position of foreign, in comparison with home trade.

The foreign glut, in such case, reacts upon the privileged home and colonial markets, no doubt affecting prices in some degree, and if not always the rates of labour, at all events the sufficiency of employment, which is scarcely less an evil. But the reaction presses with nothing like the severity, which in a similar case, and to the same extent only, would follow from a glut in the home privileged markets. The cause must be sought in the general rule, that the inferior qualities of merchandise and manufactures are for the most part the objects of exportation only. Consequently, in case of a glut, or want of demand abroad, as such are not suited by quality for home taste and consumption, the superabundance of accumulated and unsaleable stock, with the depression of prices consequent, affects comparatively in a slight degree only the value and vent of the wares prepared expressly for home consumption. But a different and more modified action takes place in case of over-production of the latter, or upon a failure of demand, arising from whatever cause. For, being then pressed upon the foreign market, the superior quality of the goods commands a decided preference at once, and that preference ensures comparatively higher rates of price in the midst of the piled up packages of warehouse sweepings and goods, made, like Peter's razors, for special sale abroad, which are vainly offered at prime or any cost. These and other specialties escape, and not unaccountably, the view and the calculation of the speculative economist, who is so often astounded to find how a principle, or a theory, of unquestionable truth abstractedly, and apparently of general application, comes practically to be controlled by circumstances beyond his appreciation, or even to be negatived altogether. An example or two in illustration, may render the question more clearly to the economical reader; although taken from the cotton trade, they are not the less true, generally, of all other branches of home manufacturing industry. As we shall have to mention names, a period long past is purposely selected; but although the parties, so far as commercial pursuits, may be considered as no longer in existence, yet they cannot fail to be well remembered. The former firm of Phillips and Lee of Manchester, were extensive spinners of cotton yarn for [pg 644] exportation, and extensive purchasers of other cotton yarns for exportation also; but for home manufacture they never could produce a quality of yarn equally saleable in the home market with other yarn of the same counts, and nominally classed of the same quality. The principal reason was, that they spun with machinery solely adapted for a particular trade, and the production of quantity was more an object than first-rate quality; to these ends their machinery was suited, and to have produced a first-rate article, extensive and expensive alterations in that machinery would have been required. Mr Lee himself, the managing partner, was an ingenious and theoretically scientific man, and often experimentalizing, but in general practically with little success. When, therefore, the export trade in yarns fell off, as, in some years during the war and the continental system of Bonaparte, we believe it was almost entirely suspended, the yarns so described of this firm, and of any others the same, could find no vent—abroad no opening—at home not suited for the consumption. As the firm were extremely wealthy the accumulation of stock was, however, of small inconvenience; time was no object, the Continent was not always sealed. With the great spinner Arkwright the case was entirely different; at home as abroad his yarn products were always first in demand; his qualities unequalled; his prices far above all others of even the first order; his machinery of the most finished construction. If, perchance, home demand flagged, the export never failed to compensate in a great degree.

So with all other subdivisions of the same or other manufactures, more or less. And this may explain the seeming phenomenon why; when the foreign trade has been so prostrate as we have seen it during the last three years, the home trade did not cease to be almost as prosperous as before. Political economy would arbitrarily insist that, repelled from the foreign market, or suffering from a cessation of foreign demand, the manufacturer for exportation had only to direct his attention, carry his stocks to, and hasten to swell competition and find relief in, the home market. In products requiring little skill, such as common calicoes, such efforts might, to some extent, be successful; but there the invasion ends. In all the departments requiring greater skill, more perfect machinery, more taste, and the peculiar arts of finish which long practice alone can give, the old accustomed manufacturer for the home trade remains without a rival, still prospering in the midst of depression around, and whilst secure against intrusion in his own special monopoly of home supply, commanding also a superiority in foreign markets for his surplus wares, in the event of stagnation in home consumption, over the less finished and reputed products of his less-skilled brethren of the craft.

In the enquiry into the advantages relatively of foreign and colonial export trade, it is not pretended literally to build upon the premises here established; the analogy would not always be strictly in point, but the fact resulting of the greater gainfulness of one description of trade over another is incontestable, and in the national sense perhaps much more than the individual. We shall take it for granted that British and Irish products and manufactures enjoy a preference on import into the colonies, over imports from foreign countries, of at least five per cent, resulting from differential duties in favour of the parent state: it may be more, and we believe it will be found more; but such is the preference. This profit must be all to the account of the British exporter; for it is not received by the colonial custom-house, and whatever the reduction of prices by excess of competition, it is clear prices would be still more deranged by the introduction of another element of competition in more cheaply produced foreign products at only equal rates of duty. Take, for examples, Saxon hose, French silks, American domestics, but more especially all sorts of foreign made up wares, clothes, &c. Quoad the foreigner, the preferential duties make two prices therefore, by the very fact of which he is barred out. We shall now proceed to assess the mercantile profits respectively upon the sums-total of foreign and colonial trade by the correct standard; and then we shall endeavour to arrive at a rough but approximate estimate of the value respectively of foreign and colonial export trade in respect of the descriptions of commodities exported from [pg 645] this country, classified as finished or partly finished, in cases where the raw material is wholly or partially of foreign origin, and measured accordingly by the amount of profit on capital, and profit in the shape of wages, which each leave respectively in the country. It will be understood that no more than a rough estimate of leading points is pretended; the calculation, article by article, would involve a labour of months perhaps, and the results in detail fill the pages of Maga for a year, and after all remain incomplete from the inaccessibility or non-existence of some of the necessary materials. There are, however, certain landmarks by which we may steer to something like general conclusions.

The profits on exports, as on all other trade, exceptional cases apart, which cannot impeach the general rule, are measured to a great extent by the distance of the country to which the exports take place, and therefore the length of period, besides the extra risk, before which capital can be replaced and profits realized. Within the compass of a two months' distance from England, we may include the Gulf of Mexico west, the Baltic and White Seas north, the Black Sea south-east, the west coast of Africa to the Gulf of Guinea, and the east coast of South America to Rio Janeiro. We come thus to the limits within which the smaller profits only are realized; and all beyond will range under the head of larger returns. It is not necessary to determine the exact amount of the profit in each case, the essential point being the ratio of one towards the other. An average return in round numbers of seven and a half per cent many, therefore, be taken for the export commerce carried on within the narrower circle, and of twenty per cent for the voyages à long cours, say those to and round the two Capes of Good Hope and Horn. It is making a large allowance to say that each shipment to Holland, France, or even the United States, for example, realizes seven and a half per cent clear profit, or that the aggregate of the exports cited yields at that rate. Twenty per cent on exports to China and the East Indies, in view of the more than double distance, and increase of risk attendant, does not seem proportionally liable to the same appearance of exaggeration. Under favourable circumstances returns cannot be looked for in less than a year on the average, and then the greater distance the greater the risk of all kinds. Classifying the exports upon this legitimate system, we find that, in round numbers, not very far from eight-ninths of the total amount of foreign trade exports come under the denomination of the shorter voyage. Thus of these total exports of thirty-five millions, less than four millions belong to the far off traffic. The account will, therefore, stand thus:—

Foreign trade profit of 7-1/2 per cent on L.31,000,000,  —  L.2,325,000
          Do.          20          do.       4,000,000,  —      800,000
                               Total mercantile profit,     L.3,125,000

The quantities colonial would range thus: —

Colonial trade profit, long voyage, of 20 per cent
  on L.8,820,000                                            L.1,764,000
Colonial trade profit, short voyage, of 7-1/2 per cent
  on L.7,180,000                                                538,000
           Total colonial profit,                           L.2,302,000

Truth, like time, is a great leveller—a fact of which no living man has had proof and reproof administered to him more frequently and severely that Mr Cobden himself. As culprits, however, harden in heart with each repetition of crime, until from petty larceny, the initiating offence, they ascend unscrupulously to the perpetration of felony without benefit of clergy; so he, with effrontery only the more deeply burnt in, and conscience the more callous from each conviction, will still lie on, so long as lungs are left, and vulgar listeners can be found in the scum of town populations. How grandiloquent was Mr Cobden with his "new facts," brand new, as he solemnly assured the House of Commons, which was not convulsed with [pg 646] irrepressible derision on the announcement! How swelled he, "big with the fate" of corn and colony, as the mighty secret burst from his labouring breast, "that the whole amount of their trade in 1840 was, exports, L.51,000,000; out of that L.16,000,000 was (were) exported to the colonies, including the East Indies; but not one-third went to the colonies. Take away L.6,000,000 of the export trade that went to the East Indies, and they had L.10,000,000 of exports," &c. Oh! rare Cocker; 10 not the third of 16; "take away" one leg and there will only be the other to stand upon. Cut off, in like manner, the twenty-one millions of exports to Europe, and what becomes of the foreign trade? "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," is the old lex talionis, and we have no objection to part with a limb on our side on the reciprocal condition that he shall be amputated of another. We engage to wage air battle with him on the stumps which are left, he with his fourteen millions of foreign against our ten millions of colonial trade, like two razées of first and second rates cut down. Before next he adventures into conflict again—better had he so bethought him before his colonial debut in the House last June—would it not be the part of wisdom to take counsel with his dear friend and neighbour Mr Samuel Brookes, the well-known opulent calico-printer, manufacturer, and exporting merchant of Manchester, who proved, some three or four years ago, as clearly as figures—made up, like the restaurateur's pain, at discretion—can prove any thing, that the larger the foreign trade he carried on, the greater were his losses, in various instances cited of hundreds per cent; from whence, seeing how rotund and robust grows the worthy alderman, deplorable balance-sheets notwithstanding, which would prostrate the Bank of England like the Bank of Manchester, it should result that he, like another Themistocles, might exclaim to his family, clad in purple and fine linen, "My children, had we not been ruined, we should have been undone!"

But revenons á nos moutons. According to Mr Cobden's new facts, borrowed from Porter's Tables, so far as the figures, the superior importance and profit of foreign trade should be measured by the gross quantities, and be, say, as 35 to 16. We have shown that the relation of profit really stands as 31 to 23, starting from the same basis of total amounts as himself. The total profit upon a foreign trade of thirty-five millions, to place it on an equal rateable footing with colonial, should be, not three millions and an eighth, but upwards of five millions, or the colonial trade of sixteen millions, if no more gainful than foreign, should be, not L.2,300,000, but about one million less. And here the question naturally recurs, assuming the principle of Mr Cobden to be correct—as so, for his satisfaction, it has been reasoned hitherto—at what rate of charge nationally are these profits, colonial and foreign, purchased? Fortunately the materials for the estimates are already in hand, and here they are:

Colonial trade—cost in Army, Navy, Ordnance, &c.,        L.3,000,000
Colonial trade—profit to exporters,                        2,302,000
       Deficit—loss to the country,                                       L.698,000

Foreign trade—cost in Army, Navy, Ordnance, &c.,         L.4,500,000
Foreign trade exporting profit,                            3,125,000
       Deficit—loss to the country,                                     L.1,375,000

As nearly, therefore, as may be, foreign trade costs the country twice as much as colonial. Such are the conclusions, the rough but approximately accurate conclusions, to which the new facts of Mr Cobden and the old hobby of Joseph Hume, mounted by the new philosopher, have led; and the public exposition of which has been provoked by his ignorance or malevolence, or both. In order to gain less than 9 per cent average upon a foreign trade of thirty-five millions, the country is saddled, for the benefit of Messrs Brookes and Cobden, inter alios, with a cost of nearly 13 per cent upon [pg 647] the same amount; whilst the cost of colonial trade is about 18-3/4 per cent on the total of sixteen millions, but the profit nearly fifteen per cent. In the account of colonial profit, be it observed, moreover, no account is here taken of the supplementary advantage derived from the differential duties against foreign imports.

In the national point of view, the profitableness of the foreign export trade, as compared with colonial, would seem more dubious still, when the values left and distributed among the producing classes are taken into calculation. Of the total foreign exports of thirty-five millions, considerably above one-fifth—say, to the value of nearly seven and a half millions sterling—were exported in the shape of cotton, linen, and woollen yarns in 1840, the year selected by Mr Cobden, of which, in cotton yarn alone, to the value of nearly 6,200,000. According to Burn's Commercial Glance for 1842, the average price of cotton-yarn so exported, exceeds by some 50 per cent the average price of the cotton from which made. Applying the same rule to linen yarn as made from foreign imported flax, and to woollen yarn as partly, at least, from foreign wool, we come to a gross sum of about L.3,750,000 left in the country, as values representing the wages of labour, and the profits of manufacturing capital in respect of yarn. The quantity of yarn, on the contrary, exported colonially, does not reach to one-sixteenth of the total colonial exports. In order to manifest the immense superiority nationally of a colonial export trade in finished products, over a foreign trade in quasi raw materials, we need only take the article of "apparel." Of the total value of wearing apparel exported in 1840, say for L.1,208,000, the colonial trade alone absorbed the best part of one million. Now, it may be estimated with tolerable certainty, that the average amount, over and above the cost of the raw material, of the values expended upon and left in the country, in the shape of wages and profits, upon this description of finished product, does not fall short of the rate of 500 per cent. So that apparel to the total value of one million would leave behind an expenditure of labour, and a realization of profits, substantially existing and circulating among the community, over and above the cost of raw material, of about L.800,000, upon a basis of raw material values of about L.160,000. Assuming for a moment, that yarns were equally improved and prolific in the multiplication of values, the seven millions and a half of foreign exports should represent a value proportionally of forty-five millions sterling. The colonial exports comprise a variety of similar finished and made-up articles, to the extent of probably about four millions sterling, to which the same rate of home values, so swelled by labour and profits, will apply.

It remains only to add, that the foreign export trade gave employment in 1840—the date fixed by Mr Cobden, but to which, in some few instances, it has been impossible to adhere for want of necessary documents, as he himself experienced—to 10,970 British vessels, of 1,797,000 aggregate tonnage outwards, repeated voyages inclusive, for the verification of the number of which we are without any returns, those made to Parliament by the public offices bearing the simple advertence on their face, with official nonchalance, that "there are no materials in this office by which the number of the crews of steam and sailing vessels respectively (including their repeated voyages) can be shown." And yet a "statistical department" has now been, for some years, founded as part of the Board of Trade, whose pretensions to the accomplishment of great works have hitherto been found considerably to transcend both the merit and the quantity of its performances. The proportion of foreign vessels sharing in the same export traffic in 1840, was little inferior to that of the British. Thus, 10,440 foreign vessels, of 1,488,888 tonnage, divided the foreign export trade with 10,970 British vessels. The returns for 1840 give 6663 as the number of British vessels, and 1,495,957 as the aggregate tonnage, carrying on the export trade with the colonies; thus it will be seen that the exportation of thirty-five millions of pounds' worth of British produce and manufactures to foreign countries, employed only about 300,000 tons of British shipping more than the export to the colonies of sixteen millions of pounds' worth [pg 648] of products, or say, less than one half. Proportions kept according to values exported respectively, foreign trade should have occupied about 3,250,000 tons of British shipping, against the colonial employment of 1,496,000 tons.

Nor is this all the difference, large as it is, in favour of colonial over foreign trade, with respect to the employment of shipping. For it may be taken for granted that, in fact, so far as the amount of tonnage, repeated voyages not included, the colonial does actually employ a much larger quantity relatively than foreign trade. It may be fairly assumed that, on the average, the shipping in foreign trade make one and a half voyages outwards—that is, outwards and inwards together, three voyages in the year; for, upon a rough estimate, it would appear that not one-tenth of this shipping was occupied in mercantile enterprise beyond the limits of that narrower circle before assigned, ad within which repeated voyages of twice and thrice in the year, and frequently more often, are not practicable only but habitually performed. Taking one-tenth as representing the one voyage and return in the year of the more distant traffic, and one and a half outward sailings for the other nine tenths of tonnage, we arrive at the approximative fact, that the foreign trade does in reality employ no more (repeated voyages allowed for as before stated) than the aggregate tonnage of 1,258,000, instead of the 1,797,000 gross tonnage as apparent. Applying the same rule, we find that the long or one year's colonial voyage traffic is equal to something less than two-ninths of the whole tonnage employed in the colonial trade, and that, assuming one and a half voyages per annum for the remainder trafficking with the colonies nearer home, the result will be, that the colonial traffic absorbs an aggregate of 1,113,000 actual tonnage, exclusive of repeated voyages of the same shipping. Here, for the satisfaction of colonial maligners, like Mr Cobden, we place the shipping results for foreign and colonial traffic respectively.

The registered tonnage of the 13,927 British vessels above fifty tons burden, stood, on the 31st of December 1841, (the returns for 1840 or 1839, we do not chance to have,)

At                                           2,578,862
Of which foreign trade, in
  the export of products
  and manufactures to the
  value of thirty-five millions
  sterling, absorbed                         1,258,000
Colonial trade in the transport
  of sixteen millions
  only of values,                            1,113,000
Considering the greater
  mass of values transported,
  the foreign trade
  should have employed,
  to have kept its relative
  shipping proportion and
  importance with colonial
  trade, above                               2,400,000

We are, however, entirely satisfied, and it would admit of easy proof, were time and space equally at our disposal for the elaborate development of details, not only that the colonial trade gives occupation to an equal, but to a larger proportion of registered British shipping than the foreign trade. But we have been obliged to limit ourselves to the consideration of such facts as are most readily accessible, so as to enable the general reader to test at once the approximative fidelity of the vindication we present, and the falsehood, scarcely glozed over with a coating of plausibility, of the vague generalities strung together as a case against the colonies by Mr Cobden and the anti-colonial faction. We have, moreover, to request the reader to observe, that we have proceeded all along on the basis of the wild assumptions of Mr Cobden's own self created and unexplained calculations; that by his own figures we have tried and convicted his own conclusions of monstrous exaggeration, and ignorant, if not wilful, deception. The three fourths charge of army expenditure upon the colonies, is a mere mischievous fabrication of his own brain. In ordinary circumstances the colonial charge would not enter for more than half that amount; and even with the extraordinary expenditure rendered necessary by Gosford and Durham misrule in Canada, the colonial charge is not equal to the amount so wantonly asserted. We have likewise not insisted with sufficient force, and at suitable length of evidence, upon the fact of the infinitely greater values proportionally left in the country, in [pg 649] the shape of the wages of labour, and the profits upon capital, by colonial than by foreign trade. It would not, however, be too much to assume, and indeed the proposition is almost self-evident, that whereas about 150 per cent may be taken as the average improved value of the products absorbed by the foreign trade, over and above the first cost of the raw material from which fabricated, where such material is of foreign origin, the similarly improved excess of values absorbed by the colonial trade, would not average less than from 250 to 300 per cent. Other occasions may arise, hereafter, more convenient than the present, for throwing these truths into broader relief; we are content, indeed, now to leave Mr Cobden to chew the cud of reflection upon his own colonial blunders and misrepresentations.

Here, therefore, we stay our hand; we have redeemed our pledge; we have more than proved our case. Various laborious researches into the real values of colonial and foreign exported commodities, have amply satisfied our mind, as they would those of any impartial person capable of investigation into special facts, of the superior comparative value, in the mercantile and manufacturing, or individual sense, as well, more specially, as in the economical and social, or national sense, of colonial over foreign trade. Do we therefore seek to disparage foreign trade? Far from it: our anxious desire is to see it prosper and progress daily and yearly, fully impressed with the conviction that it is, as it long has been, one of the sheet-anchors of the noble vessel of the State, by the aid of which it has swung securely in, and weathered bravely, many a hurricane—and holding fast to which, the gallant ship is again repairing the damage of the late long night of tempest. But we deprecate these invidious attacks and comparisons by which malice and ignorance would depreciate one great interest, for the selfish notion of unduly elevating another; as if both could not equally prosper without coming into collision; nay, as if each could not contribute to the welfare of the other, and, in combined result, advance the glory and prosperity of the common country.

We have not deemed it proper, to mix up with the special argument of this article those political, moral, and social considerations of gravest import, as connected with the possession, the government, and the improvement of colonial dependencies, which constitute a question apart, the happy solution of which is of the highest public concernment; and separately, therefore, may be left for treatment. But in the economical view, we may take credit for having cleared the ground and prepared the way for its discussion to no inconsiderable extent. Nor have we thought it fitting to nix up the debate on differential duties in favour of the colonies with the other objects which have engaged our labour. We are as little disposed as any free trader to view differential duties in excess, with favour and approval. The candid admission of Mr Deacon Hume on that head, that in reference to the late Slave colonies the question of those duties is "taken entirely out of the category of free trade," should set that debate at rest for the present, at all events.

[pg 650]


How can that which is a purely subjective affection—in other words, which is dependent upon us as a mere modification of our sentient nature—acquire, nevertheless, such a distinct objective reality, as shall compel us to acknowledge it as an independent creation, the permanent existence of which, is beyond the control of all that we can either do or think? Such is the form to which all the questions of speculation my be ultimately reduced. And all the solutions which have hitherto been propounded as answers to the problem, may be generalized into these two: either consciousness is able to transcend, or go beyond itself; or else the whole pomp, and pageantry, and magnificence, which we miscall the external universe, are nothing but our mental phantasmagoria, nothing but states of our poor, finite, subjective selves.

But it has been asked again and again, in reference to these two solutions, can a man overstep the limits of himself—of his own consciousness? If he can, then says the querist, the reality of the external world is indeed guaranteed; but what an insoluble, inextricable contradiction is here: that a man should overstep the limits of the very nature which is his, just because he cannot overstep it! And if he cannot, then says the same querist, then is the external universe an empty name—a mere unmeaning sound; and our most inveterate convictions are all dissipated like dreams.

Astute reasoner! the dilemma is very just, and is very formidable; and upon the one or other of its horns, has been transfixed every adventurer that has hitherto gone forth on the knight-errantry of speculation. Every man who lays claim to a direct knowledge of something different from himself, perishes impaled on the contradiction involved in the assumption, that consciousness can transcend itself: and every man who disclaims such knowledge, expires in the vacuum of idealism, where nothing grows but the dependent and transitory productions of a delusive and constantly shifting consciousness.

But is there no other way in which the question can be resolved? We think that there is. In the following demonstration, we think that we can vindicate the objective reality of things—(a vindication which, we would remark by the way is of no value whatever, in so far as that objective reality is concerned, but only as being instrumental to the ascertainment of the laws which regulate the whole process of sensation;)—we think that we can accomplish this, without, on the one hand, forcing consciousness to overstep itself, and on the other hand, without reducing that reality to the delusive impressions of an understanding born but to deceive. Whatever the defects of our proposed demonstration may be, we flatter ourselves that the dilemma just noticed as so fatal to every other solution, will be utterly powerless when brought to bear against it: and we conceive, that the point of a third alternative must be sharpened by the controversialist who would bring us to the dust. It is a new argument, and will require a new answer. We moreover pledge ourselves, that abstruse as the subject is, both the question, and our attempted solution of it, shall be presented to the reader in such a shape as shall compel him to understand them.

Our pioneer shall be a very plain and palpable illustration. Let A be a circle, containing within it X Y Z.

Illustration 1.

X Y and Z lie within the circle; and the question is, by what art or artifice—we might almost say by what sorcery—can they be transplanted out of it, without at the same time being made to overpass the limits of the sphere? There are just four conceivable answers to this question—answers illustrative of three great [pg 651] schools of philosophy, and of a fourth which is now fighting for existence.

1. One man will meet the difficulty boldly, and say—"X Y and Z certainly lie within the circle, but I believe they lie without it. How this should be, I know not. I merely state what I conceive to be the fact. The modus operandi is beyond my comprehension." This man's answer is contradictory, and will never do.

2. Another man will deny the possibility of the transference—"X Y and Z," he will say, "are generated within the circle in obedience to its own laws. They form part and parcel of the sphere; and every endeavour to regard them as endowed with an extrinsic existence, must end in the discomfiture of him who makes the attempt." This man declines giving any answer to the problem. We ask him how X Y and can be projected beyond the circle without transgressing its limits; and he answers that they never are, and never can be so projected.

3. A third man will postulate as the cause of X Y Z a transcendent X Y Z—that is, a cause lying external to the sphere; and by referring the former to the latter, he will obtain for X Y X, not certainly a real externality, which is the thing wanted, but a quasi-externality, with which, as the best that is to be had, he will in all probability rest contented. "X Y and Z," he will say, "are projected, as it were, out of the circle." This answer leaves the question as much unsolved as ever. Or,

4. A fourth man (and we beg the reader's attention to this man's answer, for it forms the fulcrum or cardinal point on which our whole demonstration turns)—a fourth man will say, "If the circle could only be brought within itself, so—

Illustration 1.

then the difficulty would disappear—the problem would be completely solved. X Y Z must now of necessity fall as extrinsic to the circle A; and this, too, (which is the material part of the solution,) without the limits of the circle A being overstepped."

Perhaps this may appear very like quibbling; perhaps it may be regarded as a very absurd solution—a very shallow evasion of the difficulty. Nevertheless, shallow or quibbling as it may seem, we venture to predict, that when the breath of life shall have been breathed into the bones of the above dead illustration, this last answer will be found to afford a most exact picture and explanation of the matter we have to deal with. Let our illustration, then, stand forth as a living process. The large circle A we shall call our whole sphere of sense, in so far as it deals with objective existence—and X Y Z shall be certain sensations of colour, figure, weight, hardness, and so forth, comprehended within it. The question then is—how can these sensations, without being ejected from the sphere of sense within which they lie, assume the status and the character of real independent existences? How can they be objects, and yet remain sensations?

Nothing will be lost on the score of distinctness, if we retrace, in the living sense, the footprints we have already trod in explicating the inanimate illustration. Neither will any harm be done, should we employ very much the same phraseology. We answer, then, that here, too, there are just four conceivable ways in which this question can be met.

1. The man of common sense, (so called,) who aspires to be somewhat of a philosopher, will face the question boldly, and will say, "I feel that colour and hardness, for instance, lie entirely within the sphere of sense, and are mere modifications of my subjective nature. At the same time, feel that colour and hardness constitute a real object, which exists out of the sphere of sense, independently of me and all my modifications. How this should be, I know not; I merely state the fact as I imagine myself to find it. The modus is beyond my comprehension." This man belongs to the school of Natural Realists. If he merely affirmed or [pg 652] postulated a miracle in what he uttered, we should have little to say against him, (for the whole process of sensation is indeed miraculous.) But he postulates more than a miracle; he postulates a contradiction, in the very contemplation of which our reason is unhinged.

2. Another man will deny that our sensations ever transcend the sphere of sense, or attain a real objective existence. "Colour, hardness, figure, and so forth," he will say, "are generated within the sphere of sense, in obedience to its own original laws. They form integral parts of the sphere; and he who endeavours to construe them to his own mind as embodied in extrinsic independent existences, must for ever be foiled in the attempt." This man declines giving any answer to the problem. We ask, how can our sensations be embodied in distinct permanent realities? And he replies, that they never are and never can be so embodied. This man is an Idealist—or as we would term him, (to distinguish him from another species about to be mentioned, of the same genus,) an Acosmical idealist; that is, an Idealist who absolutely denies the existence of an independent material world.

3. A third man will postulate as the cause of our sensations of hardness, colour, &c., a transcendent something, of which he knows nothing, except that he feigns and fables it as lying external to the sphere of sense: and then, by referring our sensations to this unknown cause, he will obtain for them, not certainly the externality desiderated, but a quasi-externality, which he palms off upon himself and us as the best that can be supplied. This man is Cosmothetical Idealist: that is, an Idealist who postulates an external universe as the unknown cause of certain modifications we are conscious of within ourselves, and which, according to his view, we never really get beyond. This species of speculator is the commonest, but he is the least trustworthy of any; and his fallacies are all the more dangerous by reason of the air of plausibility with which they are invested. From first to last, he represents us as the dupes of our own perfidious nature. By some inexplicable process of association, he refers certain known effects to certain unknown causes; and would thus explain to us how these effects (our sensations) come to assume, as it were, the character of external objects. But we know not "as it were." Away with such shuffling phraseology. There is nothing either of reference, or of inference, or of quasi-truthfulness in our apprehension of the material universe. It is ours with a certainty which laughs to scorn all the deductions of logic, and all the props of hypothesis. What we wish to know is, how our subjective affections can be, not as it were, but in God's truth, and in the strict, literal, earnest, and unambiguous sense of the words, real independent, objective existences. This is what the cosmothetical idealist never can explain, and never attempts to explain.

4. We now come to the answer which the reader, who has followed us thus far, will be prepared to find us putting forward as by far the most important of any, and as containing in fact the very kernel of the solution. A fourth man will say—"If the whole sphere of sense could only be withdrawn inwards—could be made to fall somewhere within itself—then the whole difficulty would disappear, and the problem would be solved at once. The sensations which existed previous to this retraction or withdrawal, would then, of necessity, fall without the sphere of sense, ( see our second diagram;) and in doing so, they would necessarily assume a totally different aspect from that of sensations. They would be real independent objects: and (what is the important part of the demonstration) they would acquire this status without overstepping by a hair's-breadth the primary limits of the sphere. Were such phraseology allowable, we should say that the sphere has understepped itself, and in doing so, has left its former contents high and dry, and stamped with all the marks which can characterize objective existences."

Now the reader will please to remark, that we are very far from desiring him to accept this last solution at our bidding. Our method, we trust, is any thing but dogmatical. We merely say, that if this can be shown to be the case, then the demonstration which we are in the course of unfolding, will hardly fail to recommend itself to his acceptance. Whether or not it is the case, can only be established by an appeal to our experience.

[pg 653] We ask, then—does experience inform us, or does she not, that the sphere of sense falls within, and very considerably within, itself? But here it will be asked—what meaning do we attach to the expression, that sense falls within its own sphere? These words, then, we must first of all explain. Every thing which is apprehended as a sensation—such as colour, figure, hardness, and so forth—falls within the sentient sphere. To be a sensation, and to fall within the sphere of sense, are identical and convertible terms. When, therefore, it is asked—does the sphere of sense ever fall within itself? this is equivalent to asking—do the senses themselves ever become sensations? Is that which apprehends sensations ever itself apprehended as a sensation? Can the senses he seized on within the limits of the very circle which they prescribe? If they cannot, then it must be admitted that the sphere of sense never falls within itself, and consequently that an objective reality—i.e. a reality extrinsic to that sphere—can never be predicated or secured for any part of its contents. But we conceive that only one rational answer can be returned to this question. Does not experience teach us, that much if not the whole of our sentient nature becomes itself in turn a series of sensations? Does not the sight—that power which contains the whole visible space, and embraces distances which no astronomer can compute—does it not abjure its high prerogative, and take rank within the sphere of sense—itself a sensation—when revealed to us in the solid atom we call the eye? Here it is the touch which brings the sight within, and very far within, the sphere of vision. But somewhat less directly, and by the aid of the imagination, the sight operates the same introtraction (pardon the coinage) upon itself. It ebbs inwards, so to speak, from all the contents that were given in what may be called its primary sphere. It represents itself, in its organ, as a minute visual sensation, out of, and beyond which, are left lying the great range of all its other sensations. By imagining the sight as a sensation of colour, we diminish it to a speck within the sphere of its own sensations; and as we now regard the sense as for ever enclosed within this small embrasure, all the other sensations which were its, previous to our discovery of the organ, and which are its still, are built up into a world of objective existence, necessarily external to the sight, and altogether out of its control. All sensations of colour are necessarily out of one another. Surely, then, when the sight is subsumed under the category of colour—as it unquestionably is whenever we think of the eye—surely all other colours must, of necessity, assume a position external to it; and what more is wanting to constitute that real objective universe of light and glory in which our hearts rejoice?

We can, perhaps, make this matter still plainer by reverting to our old illustration. Our first exposition of the question was designed to exhibit a general view of the case, through the medium of a dead symbolical figure. This proved nothing, though we imagine that it illustrated much. Our second exposition exhibited the illustration in its application to the living sphere of sensation in general; and this proved little. But we conceive that therein was foreshadowed a certain procedure, which, if it can be shown from experience to be the actual procedure of sensation in detail, will prove all that we are desirous of establishing. We now, then, descend to a more systematic exposition of the process which (so far as our experience goes, and we beg to refer the reader to his own) seems to be involved in the operation of seeing. We dwell chiefly upon the sense of sight, because it is mainly through its ministrations that a real objective universe is given to us. Let the circle A be the whole circuit of vision. We may begin by calling it the eye, the retina, or what we will. Let it be provided with the ordinary complement of sensations—the colours X Y Z. Now, we admit that these sensations cannot be extruded beyond the periphery of vision; and yet we maintain that, unless they be made to fall on the outside of that periphery, they cannot become real objects. How is this difficulty—this contradiction—to be overcome? Nature overcomes it, by a contrivance as simple as it is beautiful. In the operation of seeing, admitting the canvass or background of our picture to be a retina, or what we will, with a multiplicity of colours depicted upon it, we maintain that we cannot stop here, and that we never [pg 654] do stop here. We invariably go on (such is the inevitable law of our nature) to complete the picture—that is to say, we fill in our own eye as a colour within the very picture which our eye contains—we fill it in as a sensation within the other sensations which occupy the rest of the field; and in doing so, we of necessity, by the same law, turn these sensations out of the eye; and they thus, by the same necessity, assume the rank of independent objective existences. We describe the circumference infinitely within the circumference; and hence all that lies on the outside of the intaken circle comes before us stamped with the impress of real objective truth. We fill in the eye greatly within the sphere of light, (or within the eye itself; if we insist on calling the primary sphere by this name,) and the eye thus filled in is the only eye we know any thing at all about, either from the experience of sight or of touch. How this operation is accomplished, is a subject of but secondary moment; whether it be brought about by the touch, by the eye itself, or by the imagination, is a question which might admit of much discussion; but it is one of very subordinate interest. The fact is the main thing—the fact that the operation is accomplished in one way or another—the fact that the sense comes before itself (if not directly, yet virtually) as one of its own sensations—that is the principal point to be attended to; and we apprehend that this fact is now placed beyond the reach of controversy.

To put the case in another light. The following considerations may serve to remove certain untoward difficulties in metaphysics and optics, which beset the path, not only of the uninitiated, but even of the professors of these sciences.

We are assured by optical metaphysicians, or metaphysical opticians, that, in the operations of vision, we never get beyond the eye itself, or the representations that are depicted therein. We see nothing, they tell us, but what is delineated within the eye. Now, the way in which a plain man should meet this statement, is this—he should ask the metaphysician what eye he refers to. Do you allude, sir, to an eye which belongs to my visible body, and forms a small part of the same; or do you allude to an eye which does not belong to my visible body, and which constitutes no portion thereof? If the metaphysician should say, that he refers to an eye of the latter description, then the plain man's answer should be—that he has no experience of any such eye—that he cannot conceive it—that he knows nothing at all about it—and that the only eye which he ever thinks or speaks of, is the eye appertaining to, and situated within, the phenomenon which he calls his visible body. Is this, then, the eye which the metaphysician refers to, and which he tells us we never get beyond? If it be—why, then, the very admission that this eye is a part of the visible body, (and what else can we conceive the eye to be?) proves that we must get beyond it. Even supposing that the whole operation were transacted within the eye, and that the visible body were nowhere but within the eye, still the eye which we invariably and inevitably fill in as belonging to the visible body, (and no other eye is ever thought of or spoken of by us,)—this eye, we say, must necessarily exclude the visible body, and all other visible things, from its sphere. Or, can the eye (always conceived of as a visible thing among other visible things) again contain the very phenomenon (i.e. the visible body) within which it is itself contained? Surely no one will maintain a position of such unparalleled absurdity as that.

The science of optics, in so far as it maintains, according to certain physiological principles, that in the operation of seeing we never get beyond the representations within the eye, is founded on the assumption, that the visible body has no visible eye belonging to it. Whereas we maintain, that the only eye that we have—the only eye we can form any conception of, is the visible eye that belongs to the visible body, as a part does to a whole; whether this eye be originally revealed to us by the touch, by the sight, by the reason, or by the imagination. We maintain, that to affirm we never get beyond this eye in the exercise of vision, is equivalent to asserting, that a part is larger than the whole, of which it is only a part—is equivalent to asserting, that Y, which is contained between X and Z, is nevertheless of larger compass than X and Z, and comprehends them both. [pg 655] The fallacy we conceive to be this, that the visible body can be contained within the eye, without the eye of the visible body also being contained therein. But this is a procedure, which no law, either of thought or imagination, will tolerate. If we turn the visible body, and all visible things, into the eye, we must turn the eye of the visible body also into the eye; a process which, of course, again turns the visible body, and all visible things, out of the eye. And thus the procedure eternally defeats itself. Thus the very law which appears to annihilate, or render impossible, the objective existence of visible things, as creations independent of the eye—this very law, when carried into effect with a thorough-going consistency, vindicates and establishes that objective existence, with a logical force, an iron necessity, which no physiological paradox can countervail.

We have now probably said enough to convince the attentive reader, that the sense of sight, when brought under its own notice as a sensation, either directly, or through the ministry of the touch or of the imagination, (as it is when revealed to us in its organ,) falls very far—falls almost infinitely within its own sphere. Sight, revealing itself as a sense, spreads over a span commensurate with the diameter of the whole visible space; sight, revealing itself as a Sensation, dwindles to a speck of almost unappreciable insignificance, when compared with the other phenomena which fall within the visual ken. This speck is the organ, and the organ is the sentient circumference drawn inwards, far within itself, according to a law which (however unconscious we may be of its operation) presides over every act and exercise of vision—a law which, while it contracts the sentient sphere, throws, at the same time, into necessary objectivity every phenomenon that falls external to the diminished circle. This is the law in virtue of which subjective visual sensations are real visible objects. The moment the sight becomes one of its own sensations, it is restricted, in a peculiar manner, to that particular sensation. It now falls, as we have said, within its own sphere. Now, nothing more was wanting to make the other visual sensations real independent existences; for, quà sensations, they are all originally independent of each other, and the sense itself being now a sensation, they must now also be independent of it.

We now pass on to the consideration of the sense of touch.

Here precisely the same process is gone through which was observed to take place in the case of vision. The same law manifests itself here, and the same inevitable consequence follows, namely—that sensations are things—that subjective affections are objective realities. The sensation of hardness (softness, be it observed, is only an inferior degree of hardness, and therefore the latter word is the proper generic term to be employed)—the sensation of hardness forms the contents of this sense. Hardness, we will say, is originally a purely subjective affection. The question, then, is, how can this affection, without being thrust forth into a fictitious, transcendent, and incomprehensible universe, assume, nevertheless, a distinct objective reality, and be (not as it were, but in language of the most unequivocating truth) a permanent existence altogether independent of the sense? We answer, that this can take place only provided the sense of touch can be brought under our notice as itself hard. If this can be shown to take place, then as all sensations which are presented to us in space necessarily exclude one another, are reciprocally out of each other, all other instances of hardness must of necessity fall as extrinsic to that particular hardness which the sense reveals to us as its own; and, consequently, all these other instances of hardness will start into being, as things endowed with a permanent and independent substance.

Now, what is the verdict of experience on the subject? The direct and unequivocal verdict of experience is, that the touch reveals itself to us as one of its own sensations. In the finger-points more particularly, and generally all over the surface of the body, the touch manifests itself not only as that which apprehends hardness, but as that which is itself hard. The sense of touch vested in one of its own sensations (our tangible bodies namely) is the sense of touch brought within its own sphere. It comes before itself as one sensation of hardness. Consequently all its other sensations of hardness are necessarily [pg 656] excluded from this particular hardness; and, falling beyond it, they are by the same consequence built up into a world of objective reality, of permanent substance, altogether independent of the sense, self-betrayed as a sensation of hardness.

But here it may be asked, If the senses are thus reduced to the rank of sensations, if they come under our observation as themselves sensations, must we not regard them but as parts of the subjective sphere; and though the other portions of the sphere may be extrinsic to these sensations, still must not the contents of the sphere, taken as a whole, be considered as entirely subjective, i.e. as merely ours, and consequently must not real objective existence be still as far beyond our grasp as ever? We answer. No, by no means. Such a query implies a total oversight of all that experience proves to be the fact with regard to this matter. It implies that the senses have not been reduced to the rank of sensations—that they have not been brought under our cognizance as themselves sensations, and that they have yet to be brought there. It implies that vision has not been revealed to us as a sensation of colour in the phenomenon the eye—and that touch has not been revealed to us as a sensation of hardness in the phenomenon the finger. It implies, in short, that it is not the sense itself which has been revealed to us, in the one case as coloured, and in the other case as hard, but that it is something else which has been thus revealed to us. But it may still be asked, How do we know that we are not deceiving ourselves? How can it be proved that it is the senses, and not something else, which have come before us under the guise of certain sensations? That these sensations are the senses themselves, and nothing but the senses, may be proved in the following manner.

We bring the matter to the test of actual experiment. We make certain experiments, seriatim, upon each of the items that lie within the sentient sphere, and we note the effect which each experiment has upon that portion of the contents which is not meddled with. In the exercise of vision, for example, we remove a book, and no change is produced in our perception of a house; a cloud disappears, yet our apprehension of the sea and the mountains, and all other visible things, is the same as ever. We continue our experiments, until our test happens to be applied to one particular phenomenon, which lies, if not directly, yet virtually, within the sphere of vision. We remove or veil this small visual phenomenon, and a totally different effect is produced from those that took place when any of the other visual phenomena were removed or veiled. The whole landscape is obliterated. We restore this phenomenon—the whole landscape reappears: we adjust this phenomenon differently—the whole landscape becomes differently adjusted. From these experiments we find, that this phenomenon is by no means an ordinary sensation, but that it differs from all other sensations in this, that it is the sense itself appearing in the form of a sensation. These experiments prove that it is the sense itself, and nothing else, which reveals itself to us in the particular phenomenon the eye. If experience informed us that the particular adjustment of some other visual phenomenon (a book, for instance) were essential to our apprehension of all the other phenomena, we should, in the same way, be compelled to regard this book as our sense of sight manifested in one of its own sensations. The book would be to us what the eye now is: it would be our bodily organ: and no à priori reason can be shown why this might not have been the case. All that we can say is, that such is not the finding of experience. Experience points out the eye, and the eye alone, as the visual sensation essential to our apprehension of all our other sensations of vision, and we come at last to regard this sensation as the sense itself. Inveterate association leads us to regard the eye, not merely as the organ, but actually as the sense of vision. We find from experience how much depends upon its possession, and we lay claim to it as a part of ourselves, with an emphasis that will not be gainsaid.

An interesting enough subject of speculation would be, an enquiry into the gradual steps by which each man is led to appropriate his own body. No man's body is given him absolutely, indefeasibly, and at once, ex dono Dei. It is no unearned hereditary patrimony. It is held by no à priori title on the part of the possessor. The [pg 657] credentials by which its tenure is secured to him, are purely of an à posteriori character; and a certain course of experience must be gone through before the body can become his. The man acquires it, as he does originally all other property, in a certain formal and legalized manner. Originally, and in the strict legal as well as metaphysical idea of them, all bodies, living as well as dead, human no less than brute, are mere waifs—the property of the first finder. But the law, founding on sound metaphysical principles, very properly makes a distinction here between two kinds of finding. To entitle a person to claim a human body as his own, it is not enough that he should find it in the same way in which he finds his other sensations, namely, as impressions which interfere not with the manifestations of each other. This is not enough, even though, in the case supposed, the person should be the first finder. A subsequent finder would have the preference, if able to show that the particular sensations manifested as this human body were essential to his apprehension of all his other sensations whatsoever. It is this latter species of finding—the finding, namely, of certain sensations as the essential condition on which the apprehension of all other sensations depends; it is this finding alone which gives each man a paramount and indisputable title to that "treasure trove" which he calls his own body. Now, it is only after going through a considerable course of experience and experiment, that we can ascertain what the particular sensations are upon which all our other sensations are dependent. And therefore were we not right in saying, that a man's body is not given to him directly and at once, but that he takes a certain time, and must go through a certain process, to acquire it?

The conclusion which we would deduce from the whole of the foregoing remarks is, that the great law of living21 sensation, the rationale of sensation as a living process, is this, that the senses are not merely presentativei.e. they not only bring sensations before us, but that they are self-presentativei.e. they, moreover, bring themselves before us as sensations. But for this law we should never get beyond our mere subjective modifications; but in virtue of it we necessarily get beyond them; for the results of the law are, 1st, that we, the subject, restrict ourselves to, or identify ourselves with, the senses, not as displayed in their primary sphere, (the large circle A,) but as falling within their own ken as sensations, in their secondary sphere, (the small circle A.) This smaller sphere is our own bodily frame; and does not each individual look upon himself as vested in his own bodily frame? And 2ndly, it is a necessary consequence of this investment or restriction, that every sensation which lies beyond the sphere of the senses, viewed as sensations, (i.e. which lies beyond the body,) must be, in the most unequivocal sense of the words, a real independent object. If the reader wants a name to characterise this system, he may call it the system of Absolute or Thorough-going presentationism.

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To shorten the navigation between the eastern and western divisions of our globe, either by discovering a north-west passage into the Pacific, or opening a route across the American continent, with European philosophers and statesmen has for centuries been a favourite project, and yet in only one way has it been attempted. Large sums of money were successively voted and expended, in endeavouring to penetrate through the Arctic sea; and such is the persevering enterprise of our mariners, that in all likelihood this gigantic task eventually will be accomplished: but, even if it should, it is questionable whether a navigable opening in that direction would prove beneficial to commerce. The floating ice with which those high latitudes are encumbered; the intricacy of the navigation; the cold and tempestuous weather generally prevailing there, and the difficulty of obtaining aid, in cases of shipwreck, must continue to deter the ordinary navigator from following that track.

Enquiry, therefore, naturally turns to the several points on the middle part of the American continent, where, with the aid of art, it is supposed that a communication across may be effected. These are five in number, and the facilities for the undertaking which each affords, have been discussed by a few modern travellers, commencing with Humboldt. On a close investigation into the subject, it will, however, appear evident, that although the cutting of a canal on some point or order, may be within the compass of human exertion, still the undertaking would require an enormous outlay of capital, besides many years to accomplish it; and even if it should be completed, the result could never answer the expectations formed upon this subject in Europe. On all the points proposed, and more especially in reference to the long lines, the difficulty of rendering rivers navigable, which in the winter are swelled into impetuous torrents; the want of population along the greater part of the distances to be cut; the differences of elevation; and, above all, the shallowness of the water on all the extremities of the cuts projected, thus only affording admission to small vessels, are among the impediments which, for the time being at least, appear almost insuperable.

Without entering further into the obstacles which present themselves to the formation of a canal along any one of the lines alluded to, I shall at once come to the conclusion, that for all the practical purposes of commercial intercourse which the physical circumstances of the country allow, a railroad is preferable, and may be constructed at infinitely less expense. This position once established, the question next to be asked is, which is the most eligible spot for the work proposed? On a careful examination of the relative merits of the several lines pointed out, that of the isthmus of Panama unquestionably appears to be the most eligible. From its central position, and the short distance intervening between the two oceans, it seems, indeed, to be providentially destined to become the connecting link between the eastern and western worlds; and hence its being made a thoroughfare for all nations, must be a subject of the utmost importance to those engaged in commerce.

Some of our most eminent public writers of the day, anticipating the advantages likely to result from the emancipation of Spanish America, considered the opening of a passage across that isthmus as one of the mightiest events which could present itself to the enterprise of man; and it is well known, that during Mr Pitt's administration projects on this subject were submitted to him—some of them even attempting to show the feasibility of cutting a canal across, sufficiently deep and wide to admit vessels of the largest class. Report says, that the minister frequently spoke in rapturous terms on the supposed facilities of this grand project; and it is believed, that the sanguine [pg 659] hopes of its realization had great weight with him when forming his plans for the independence of the southern division of the New World. The same idea prevailed in Europe for the greater part of the last century; but yet no survey was instituted—no steps taken to obtain correct data on the subject. Humboldt revived it; and yet this great and beneficial scheme again remained neglected, and, to all appearance, forgotten. At length the possession of the Marquesas islands by the French, brought the topic into public notice, when, towards the close of last April, and while submitting the project of a law to the Chamber of Deputies for a grant of money to cover the expenses of a government establishment in the new settlements, Admiral Roussin expressed himself thus:—"The advantages of our new establishments, incontestable as they are even at present, will assume a far greater importance hereafter. They will become of great value, should a plan which, at the present moment, fixes the attention of all maritime nations, be realized, namely, to open, through the isthmus of Panama, a passage between Europe and the Pacific, instead of going round by Cape Horn. When this great event, alike interesting to all naval powers, shall have been effected, the Society and Marquesas islands, by being brought so much nearer to France, will take a prominent place among the most important stations of the world. The facility of this communication will necessarily give a new activity to the navigation of the Pacific ocean; since this way will be, if not the shortest to the Indian and Chinese seas, certainly the safest, and, in a commercial point of view, unquestionably the most important."

In his speech in support of the grant, M. Gaizot, in the sitting of the 10th inst., asserted that the project of piercing the isthmus of Panama was not a chimerical one, and proceeded to read a letter from Professor Humbolt, dated August 1842, in which that learned gentleman observed, that "it was twenty-five years since a project for a communication between the two oceans, either by the isthmus of Panama, the lake of Nicaragua, or by the isthmus of Capica, had been proposed and topographically discussed; and yet nothing had been yet commenced." The French minister also read extracts from a paper addressed to the Academy of Sciences, by an American gentleman named Warren, advocating the practicability of a canal, by means of the rivers Vinotinto, Beverardino, and Farren, after which he enthusiastically exclaimed, that should this great work ever be accomplished—and in his own mind he had no doubt that some day or other it would—then the value of Oceana would be greatly increased, and France would have many reasons to congratulate herself on the possession of them. This has thus become one of the most popular topics in France, where the views of the minister are no longer concealed, and in England are we slumbering upon it? Certainly we have as great an interest in the accomplishment of the grand design as the French, and possibly possess more correct information on the subject than they do. Why, then, is it withheld from the public? What are our government doing?

To supply this deficiency, as far as his means allow, is the object of the writer of these pages; and in order to show the degree of credit to which his remarks may be entitled, and his reasons for differing from the French as regards the means by which the great desideratum is to be achieved, he will briefly state, that in early life he left Europe under the prevailing impression that the opening of a canal across the isthmus of Panama was practicable; but while in the West Indies, some doubts on the subject having arisen in his mind, he determined to visit the spot, which he did at his own expense, and at some personal risk—the Spaniards being still in possession of the country. With this view he ascended the river Chagre to Cruces, and thence proceeded by land to Panama, where he stopped a fortnight. In that time he made several excursions into the interior, and had a fair opportunity of hearing the sentiments of intelligent natives; but, although he then came to the conclusion that a canal of large dimensions was impracticable, he saw the possibility of opening a railroad, with which, in his opinion, European nations ought to be satisfied, at least for the present. Why he assumed this position, a description of the locality will best explain.

[pg 660] The river Chagre, which falls into the Atlantic, is the nearest transitable point to Panama, but unfortunately the harbour does not admit vessels drawing more than twelve feet water.22 There the traveller embarks in a bonjo, (a flat-bottomed boat,) or in a canoe, made of the trunk of a cedar-tree, grown on the banks to an enormous size. The velocity of the downward current is equal to three miles an hour, and greater towards the source. The ascent is consequently tedious; often the rowers are compelled to pole the boat along, a task, under a burning sun, which could only be performed by negroes. In the upper part of the stream the navigation is obstructed by shallows, so much so as to render the operation of unloading unavoidable. Large trunks of trees, washed down by the rains, and sometimes embedded in the sands, also occasionally choke up the channel, impediments which preclude the possibility of a steam power being used beyond a certain distance up. No boat can ascend higher than Cruces, a village in a direct line not more than twenty-two miles from Chagre harbour; but owing to the sinuosities of the river, the distance to be performed along it is nearly double. To stem the current requires from three to eight days, according to the season, whereas the descent does not take more than from eight to twelve hours.

From Cruces to Panama the distance is five leagues, over a broken and hilly country. The town is situated at the head of the gulf, on a neck of land washed by the waters of the Pacific; but the port is only accessible to flat-bottomed boats, owing to which it is called Las Piraguas. The harbour, or rather the roadstead, is formed by a cluster of small islands lying about six miles from the shore, under the shelter of which vessels find safe anchorage. The tides rise high, and, falling in the same proportion, the sloping coast is left dry to a considerable distance out—a circumstance which precludes the possibility of forming an outlet in front of Panama. The obstacles above enumerated at once convinced the writer that a ship canal in this direction was impracticable. The Spanish plan was to make the Chagre navigable a considerable distance up, by removing the shallows and deepening the channel; but owing to the great inclination in the descent, and the immense volumes of water rushing down in winter, the task would be a most herculean one; and, even if accomplished, this part of the route could only serve for small craft. A canal over five leagues of hilly ground would still remain to be cut.

Although the plan, so long and so fondly cherished in Europe, and now revived in France, must, for the reasons here assigned, be abandoned, on this account we ought not to be deterred from availing ourselves of such facilities as the locality affords. The geographical position of the isthmus of Panama is too interesting to be any longer disregarded. "When the Spanish discoverers first overcame the range of mountains which divide the western from the Atlantic shores of South America," said a distinguished statesman,23 "they stood fixed in silent admiration, gazing on the vast expanse of the Southern ocean which lay stretched before them in boundless prospect. They adored—even those hardened and sanguinary adventurers adored—the gracious providence of Heaven, which, after lapse of so many centuries had opened to mankind so wonderful a field of untried and unimagined enterprize." The very same point of land where, in 1515, the Spaniards first beheld the Pacific, is the spot formed by nature for the realization of those advantages which their [pg 661] cautious policy caused them to overlook. The Creator seems to have intended it for general use—as the highway of nations; and yet, after a period of more than three centuries, scarcely has the solitude which envelopes this interesting strip of land been broken. Is Europe or America to blame for this?

In the present state of our trade, and the increasing competition which we are likely to experience, unquestionably it would be advisable for British subjects to exert themselves in securing a free passage across the isthmus above-named. It is not, however, to be imagined that this is a new project in our history. Towards the close of the seventeenth century, one was formed in Scotland for the establishment of a national company to trade with the Indies through the Pacific, which became so popular that most of the royal burghs subscribed to it. The scheme originated with William Patterson, a Scotchman, of a bold and enterprizing character, who, in early life, is supposed to have been a Bucanier, and to have traversed several sections of South America. At all events, he seems to have been acquainted with the views of Captain, afterwards Sir Henry Morgan, who, in 1670, took and burned Panama.

In England, the "Scots Company" was strenuously opposed by the incorporated traders to the East Indies, as well as by the West India merchants. Parliament equally took the alarm, and prayed the king not to sanction the scheme. So powerful did this opposition at length become, that the sums subscribed were withdrawn. Nothing daunted by this failure, Patterson resolved to engraft upon his original plan one for the establishment of an emporium on the Isthmus of Darien, whither he anticipated that European goods would be sent, and thence conveyed to the western shores of America, the Pacific islands, and Asia; and, in order to attract notice and gain support, he proposed that the new settlement should be made a free port, and all distinctions of religion, party, and nation banished. The project was much liked in the north of Europe, but again scouted at the English court; when the Scotch, indignant at the opposition which their commercial prospects experienced from King William's ministers, which they attributed to a contrariety of interests on the part of the English, subscribed among themselves L.400,000 for the object in view, and L.300,000 more were, in the same manner, raised at Hamburg; but, in consequence of a remonstrance presented to the senate of that city by the English resident, the latter sum was called in.

Eventually, in 1699, Patterson sailed with five large vessels, having on board 1200 followers, all Scotch, and many of them belonging to the best families, furnished with provisions and merchandise; and, on arriving on the coast of Darien, took possession of a small peninsula lying between Porto Bello and Carthagena, where he built the Fort of St Andrew. The settlement was called New Caledonia; and the directors having taken every precaution for its security, entered into negotiations with the independent Indians in the neighbourhood, by whom it is believed that the tenure of the "Scots Company" was sanctioned. The Spaniards took offence at this alleged aggression, and angry complaints were forwarded to the court of St James's. To these King William listened with something like complacency, his policy at the time being to temporize with Spain, in order to prevent the aggrandizement of the French Bourbons. The new settlement was accordingly denounced, in proclamations issued by the authorities of Jamaica, Barbadoes, and the American plantations, and soon afterwards attacked by a Spanish force. Pressed on all sides, the adventurers, for a period of eight months, bore up against accumulated misfortunes; when at length, receiving no succours from their copartners at home, convinced that they had to contend against the hostility of the English government, and their provisions being exhausted, the survivors were compelled to abandon their enterprise and return to Scotland. To add to their chagrin, a few days after their departure two vessels arrived with supplies and a small reinforcement of men.

Incensed at the second failure of their favourite scheme, the Scotch endeavoured to obtain from King William an acknowledgment of the national right to the territory of New [pg 662] Caledonia, and some reparation for the loss sustained by the disappointed settlers. Unsuccessful in their application, they next presented an address to the ruling power, praying that their parliament might be assembled, in order to take the matter into consideration; when, at the first meeting, angry and spirited resolutions were passed upon the subject. No redress was, however, obtained; and thus terminated the Darien scheme of the seventeenth century, founded, no one will venture to deny, on an enlarged view of our commercial interests, and a just conception of the means by which they might have been promoted. In the state of our existing treaties with Spain, the seizure of territory possibly was unjust, the moment unseasonable, and the plan, in one respect, obviously defective, inasmuch as the projectors had not taken into account the hostility of the Spaniards, and could not, consequently, rely on an outlet for their merchandize in the Pacific. Had the scheme been delayed, or had the settlement survived some months longer, the War of Succession would, however, have given to the adventurers a right of tenure stronger than any they could have obtained from the English court; for it is to be borne in mind that, on the 3d of November 1700, Charles II. of Spain died leaving his crown to a French branch of the House of Bourbon—an event which threw Europe into a blaze, and, in the ensuing year, led to the formation of the Grand Alliance.

This short digression may serve to show the spirit of the age towards the close of the seventeenth century, and more particularly the light in which the Scotch viewed an attempt, made nearly a century and a half ago, to establish a commercial intercourse with the Pacific; and, had they then succeeded, other objects of still mightier import than those at first contemplated—other benefits of a more extended operation, would have been included in the results. The opportunity was lost, evidently through the want of support from the ruling power; but it must have been curious to see the English government, at the close of the war, endeavouring to have conceded to them by the Spanish court, and in virtue of the memorable Aziento contract of 1713, those very same advantages which the "Scots Company" sought to secure, by their own private efforts, and almost in defiance of a most powerful interest. And when our prospects in the same quarter have been enlarged, to an extent far beyond the most sanguine expectations of our forefathers—when, through the independence of South America, we have had the fairest opportunities of entering into combinations with the natives for the accomplishment of the grand design—is it yet to be said that spirited and enlightened Englishmen are not to be found, ready and willing enough to support a scheme advantageous to the whole commercial community of Europe? It is confidently understood that the best information on the subject has been submitted to her Majesty's government, even recently. If so, is it then a fact that no one member of the Cabinet has shown a disposition to lend a helping hand?

But what have the South Americans done in furtherance of the scheme in question? Among the projects contemplated by Bolivar, the Liberator, for the improvement of his native land, as soon as its independence should have been consolidated, was one to form a junction between the neighbouring oceans, so far as nature and the circumstances of the country would allow. In November 1827, he accordingly commissioned Mr John Augustus Lloyd, an Englishman, to make a survey of the isthmus of Panama, "in order to ascertain," as that gentleman himself tells us, "the best and most eligible line of communication, whether by road or canal, between the two seas." In March 1828 the commissioner arrived at Panama, where he was joined by a Swedish officer of engineers in the Colombian service, and, provided with suitable instruments, they proceeded to perform the task assigned to them.24 Their first care was to determine the relative height of the two oceans, when, from their observations, it appeared that the tides are regular on both [pg 663] sides of the isthmus, and the time of high water nearly the same at Panama and Chagre. The rise in the Pacific is, however, the greatest, the mean height at Panama being rather more than three feet above that of the Atlantic at Chagre; but, as in every twelve hours the Pacific falls six feet more than the Atlantic, it is in that same proportion lower; yet, as soon as the tide has flowed fully in, the level assumes its usual elevation. Although the measurements of Bolivar's commissioners were not, perhaps, performed with all the exactitude that could have been wished, sufficient was then and since ascertained to establish the fact, that the difference between the levels of the two oceans is not so great as to cause any derangement, in case the intervening ground could be pierced.

In the pursuit of his object, Mr Lloyd seems altogether to set aside the idea of a canal, and leaving his readers to judge which is the best expedient to answer the end proposed, he thus describes the topography and capabilities of the country:—"It is generally supposed in Europe that the great chain of mountains, which, in South America, forms the Andes, continues nearly unbroken through the isthmus. This, however, is not the case. The northern Cordillera breaks into detached mountains on the eastern side of the province of Vevagna, which are of considerable height, extremely abrupt and rugged, and frequently exhibit an almost perpendicular face of bare rock. To these succeed numerous conical mountains, rising out of savannahs or plains, and seldom exceeding from 300 to 500 feet in height. Finally, between Chagre on the Atlantic side, and Chorrera on the Pacific side, the conical mountains are not so numerous, having plains of great extent, interspersed with occasional insulated ranges of hills, of inconsiderable height and extent. From this description, it will be seen," continues Mr Lloyd, "that the spot where the continent of America is reduced to nearly its narrowest limits, is also distinguished by a break for a few miles of the great chain of mountains, which otherwise extend, with but few exceptions, to its extreme northern and southern limits. This combination of circumstances points out the peculiar fitness of the isthmus of Panama for the establishment of a communication across."

Here, then, we have an avowal, from the best authority before the public, and founded on a survey of the ground, that the intervening country is sufficiently open, even for a canal, if skilfully undertaken, and with adequate funds—consequently it cannot present any physical obstacles in the way of a railroad which cannot readily be overcome. The same opinion was formed by the writer of these pages, when, at a much earlier period, he viewed the plains from the heights at the back of Panama; and that opinion was borne out by natives who had traversed the ground as far as the forests and brushwood allowed. In the sitting of the Royal Academy of Sciences, held in Paris on the 26th of last December, Baron Humboldt reported, that the preparatory labours for cutting a canal across the isthmus of Panama were rapidly advancing; to which he added that the commission appointed by the government of New Granada had terminated their survey of the localities, after arriving at a result as fortunate as it was unexpected. "The chain of the Cordilleras," he observed, "does not extend, as it was formerly supposed, across, since a valley favourable to the operation had been discovered, and the natural position of the waters might also be rendered useful. Three rivers," the Baron proceeded to say, "had been explored, over which an easy control might be established; and these rivers, there was every reason to think, might be made partially navigable, and afterwards connected with the proposed canal, the excavations for which would not extend beyond 12-1/2 miles in length. It was further expected that the fall might be regulated by four double locks, 138 feet in length; by which means the total extent of the canal would not be more than 49 miles, with a width of 136 feet at the surface, 56 at the base, and 20 in depth, sufficiently capacious for the admission of a vessel measuring 1000 to 1400 tons. It was estimated by M. Morel, a French engineer, that the cost of these several works would not be more than fourteen millions of francs."

This is a confirmation of the fact, that on the isthmus facilities exist for [pg 664] either cutting a canal, or constructing a railroad; but while the French seem inclined to revive the primitive project, it is to be feared that they overlook the paramount difficulty, which, as already noticed, occurs on both sides, through the want of water. Unless admission and an outlet can be obtained for men-of-war, and the usual class of vessels trading to India, it would scarcely be worth while to attempt a canal, and it has not been ascertained that both those essential requisites can be found. The other plan must therefore be held to be the surest and most economical. This also seems to have been the conclusion at which Mr Lloyd arrived. Having made up his mind that a railroad is best adapted to the locality, he proceeds to trace two lines, starting from the same terminus, near the Atlantic, and terminating at different points on the Pacific, respecting which he expresses himself thus:—"Two lines are marked on the map, commencing at a point near the junction of the rivers Chagre and Trinidad, and crossing the plains, the one to Chorrera, and the other to Panama. These lines indicate the directions which I consider the best for a railroad communication. The principal difficulty in the establishment of such a communication, would arise from the number of rivulets to be crossed, which, though dry in summer, become considerable streams in the rainy season. The line which crosses to Chorrera is much the shortest, but the other has the advantage of terminating in the city and harbour of Panama. The country intersected by these lines is by no means so abundant in woods as in other parts, but has fine savannahs, and throughout the whole distance, as well as on each bank of the Trinidad, presents flat, and sometimes swampy country, with occasional detached sugar-loaf mountains, interspersed with streams that mostly empty themselves into the Chagre."

Would it not, then, be more advisable to act on this suggestion, than run the risk and incur the expense of a canal? On all hands it is agreed, that as far as the mouth of the Trinidad the Chagre is navigable for vessels drawing twelve feet water, by which means twelve or fourteen miles of road, and a long bridge besides, would be saved. Under this supposition, the proposed line from the junction of the two rivers to Panama would be about thirty miles, and to Chorrera twenty four; while on neither of them does any other difficulty present itself than the one mentioned by Mr Lloyd. "Should the time arrive," says that gentleman, "when a project of a water communication across the isthmus may be entertained, the river Trinidad will probably appear the most favourable route. That river is for some distance both broad and deep, and its banks are also well suited for wharfs, especially in the neighbourhood of the spot whence the lines marked for a railroad communication commence."

It therefore only remains to be determined which of the two lines is the preferable one; and this depends more on the facilities afforded by the bay of Chorrera for the admission of vessels, than the difference in the distances. However desirable it might be to have Panama as the Pacific station, it will already have been noticed, that the great distance from the shore at which vessels are obliged to anchor, is a serious impediment to loading and unloading—operations which are rendered more tedious by the heavy swell at certain seasons setting into the gulf. The distance from Chorrera to Panama, over a level part of the coast, is only ten miles. Should it therefore be deemed expedient, these two places may afterwards be connected by means of a branch line. As regards the difficulty mentioned by Mr Lloyd, arising out of "the number of rivulets to be crossed," it may be observed that this section of the country remains in nearly the same state as that in which it was left by nature. No artificial means have been adopted for drainage; but the assurances of intelligent natives warrant the belief, that by cross-cuts the smaller rivulets may be made to run into the larger ones, whereby the number to be crossed would be materially diminished. The contiguous lands abound in superior stone, easily dug, and well suited for the construction of causeways as well as arches; while the magnificent forests, which rear their lofty heads to the north of the projected line, would for sleepers furnish any quantity of an almost [pg 665] incorruptible and even incombustible wood, resembling teak.25

The Honourable P. Campbell Scarlett, one of the last travellers of note who crossed the isthmus and favoured the pubic with the result of his observations, says, "that for a ship canal the locality would not answer, but presents the greatest facilities for the transfer of merchandize by river and canal, sufficiently deep for steam-boats, at a comparatively trifling expense."26 He then proceeds to remark, "that Mr Lloyd seemingly turned his attention more to the practicability of a railroad along the level country between the mouth of the Trinidad and the town or river of Chorrera, and no doubt a railroad would be very beneficial;" adding, "that an explicit understanding would be necessary to prevent interruption, (meaning with the local government and ruling power:) and the subject assuredly is of sufficient magnitude and importance to justify, if not call on, the British government, or any other power, to encourage and sanction the enterprise by a solemn treaty."

In proportion to its size, no town built by the Spaniards in the western world contains so many good edifices as Panama, although many of them are now falling to decay. It was rebuilt subsequent to the fire in 1737, and from the ornamental parts of some structures, it is evident that superior workmen were employed in their erection;27 and should notice at any time be given that public works were about to commence there, accompanied by an assurance that artisans would meet with due encouragement, thither able-bodied men would flock, even from the West Indies and the United States. Hardy Mulattoes, Meztizoes, free Negroes, and Indians, may be assembled upon the spot, among whom are good masons and experienced hewers of wood; and, being intelligent and tractable, European skill and example alone would be requisite to direct them. The existence of coal along the shores of Chili and Peru, is also another encouraging feature in the scheme;28 and as the ground for a railroad would cost a mere trifle, if any thing, the whole might be completed at a comparatively small expense.

The profits derivable from the undertaking, when accomplished, are too obvious to require enumeration. The rates levied on letters, passengers, and merchandize, after leaving a proportionate revenue to the local government, must produce a large sum, which would progressively increase as [pg 666] the route became more frequented. Mines exist in the neighbourhood, at present neglected owing to the difficulty of the smelting process. It may hereafter be worth while for return vessels to bring the rough mineral obtained from them to Europe, as is now done with copper ore from Cuba, Colombia, and Chili. Ship timber, of the largest dimensions and best qualities, may also be had. The charges on the transit of merchandize would never be so heavy as even the rates of insurance round Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope. The first of these great headlands mariners know full well is a fearful barrier, advancing into the cheerless deep amidst storms, rocks, islands, and currents, to avoid which the navigator is often compelled to go several degrees more to the south than his track requires; whereby the voyage is not only lengthened, but his water and provisions so far exhausted, that frequently he is under the necessity of making the first port he can in Chili, or seeking safety on the African coast.

To escape from the perils and delays of this circuitous route has long been the anxious wish of all commercial nations, and to a certain extent this may be accomplished in the manner here pointed out. In the course of time, and in case prospects are sufficiently encouraging—or, in other words, should the surveys required for a ship canal correspond with the hopes entertained upon this subject by the French—the great desideratum might then be attempted. The work done would not interfere with any other afterwards undertaken on an increased scale. On the contrary, a railroad would continue its usual traffic, and afford great assistance. Fortunately the obstruction to the admission of vessels into Chagre harbour, on the Atlantic side, may be obviated, as will appear from the following passage in Mr Lloyd's report—a point of extreme importance in the prosecution of any ulterior design; but even then the great difficulty remains to be overcome on the Pacific shore:—

"The river Chagre," says the Colombian commissioner, "its channel, and the barks which in the dry season embarrass its navigation, are laid down in my manuscript plan with great care and minuteness. It is subject to one great inconvenience; viz. that vessels drawing more than twelve feet water cannot enter the river, even in perfectly calm weather, on account of a stratum of slaty limestone which runs, at a depth at high water of fifteen feet, from a point on the mainland to some rocks in the middle of the entrance into the harbour, and which are just even with the water's edge. This, together with the lee current that sets on the southern shore, particularly in the rainy season, renders the entrance extremely difficult and dangerous. The value of the Chagre, considered as the port of entrance for all communication, whether by the river Chagre, Trinidad, or by railroad, across the plains, is greatly limited owing to the above-mentioned cause. It would, in all cases, prove a serious disqualification, were it not one which admits of a simple and effectual remedy, arising from the proximity of the bay of Limon, otherwise called Navy Bay, with which the river might be easily connected. The coves of this bay afford excellent and secure anchorage in its present state, and the whole harbour is capable of being rendered, by obvious and not very expensive means, one of the most commodious and safe in the world."

After expressing his gratitude for the good offices of her Majesty's consul at Panama, and the services rendered to him by the officers of her Majesty's ship Victor, with the aid of whose boats, and the assistance of the master, he made his survey of the bay of Limon, obtained soundings, and constructed his plan, (the shores of which bay, he says, are therein laid down trigonometrically from a base of 5220 yards)—Mr Lloyd remarks thus, "It will be seen by this plan that the distance from one of the best coves, in respect to anchorage, across the separating country from the Chagre, and in the most convenient track, is something less than three miles to a point in the river about three miles from its mouth. I have traversed the intervening land, which is perfectly level, and in all respects suitable for a canal, which, being required for so short a distance, might well be made of a sufficient depth to admit vessels of any reasonable draught of water, and would obviate the inconvenience of the shallows at the entrance of the Chagre."

Granting, however, that the [pg 667] admission from the Atlantic into the Chagre of a larger class of vessels than those drawing twelve feet might be thus facilitated, according to Mr Lloyd's own avowal a breakwater would still be necessary at the entrance of Limon Bay, which is situated round Point Brujas, about eight geographical miles higher up towards Porto Bello than the mouth of that river, as the heavy sea setting into the bay would render the anchorage of vessels insecure. An immense deal of work would consequently still remain to be performed before a corresponding outlet into the Pacific could be obtained; and whether this can be accomplished is yet problematical. In the interval, a railroad, on the plan above suggested, would answer many, although not all the purposes desired by the commercial community, and serve as a preparatory step for a canal, should it be deemed feasible. After the country has been cleared of wood and properly explored—after the population has been more concentrated, and the opinions of experienced men obtained—a project of oceanic navigation may succeed; but, for the present, we ought to be content with the best and cheapest expedient that can be devised; and the distance is so short, and the facilities for the enterprise so palpable, that a few previous combinations, and a small capital only, are required to carry it into effect. By using the waters of the Chagre and Trinidad, a material part of the distance across is saved;29 and as, as before explained, the ground will cost nothing, and excellent and cheap materials exist, the work might be performed at a comparatively trifling expense. When completed, the trip from sea to sea would not take more than from six to eight hours.

Avowedly, no ocean is so well adapted for steam navigation as the Pacific. Except near Cape Horn, and in the higher latitudes to the north-west, on its glassy surface storms are seldom encountered. With their heavy ships, the Spaniards often made voyages from Manilla to Acapulco in sixty-five days, without having once had occasion to take in their light sails. The ulterior consequences, therefore, of a more general introduction of steam power into that new region, connected with a highway across the isthmus of Panama, no one can calculate. The experiment along the shores of Chili and Peru has already commenced; and the cheap rate at which fossil fuel can be had has proved a great facility. Under circumstances so peculiarly propitious, to what an extent, then, may not steam navigation be carried on the smooth expanse of the Southern ocean? If there are two sections of the globe more pre-eminently suited for commercial intercourse than others, they are the western shores of America and Southern Asia. To these two markets, consequently, will the attention of manufacturing nations be turned; and, should the project here proposed be carried into effect, depots of merchandize will be formed on and near the isthmus, when the riches of Europe and America will move more easily towards Asia; while, in return, the productions of Asia will be wafted towards America and Europe. If we entertain the expectation, that at no distant period of time our West India possessions will become advanced posts, and aid in the development of [pg 668] the resources abounding in that extended and varied region at the entrance of which they are stationed—if the several islands there which hoist the British flag are destined to be resting-places for that trade between Great Britain and the Southern sea, now opening to European industry—these two great interests cannot be so effectually advanced as by the means above suggested.

It has generally been thought that the long-neglected isthmus of Suez is the shortest road to India, but besides being precarious, and suited only for the conveyance of light weights, that line only embraces one object; whereas the establishment of a communication across that of Panama, would be like the creation of a new geographical and commercial world—it would bring two extremities of the earth closer together, and, besides, connect many intermediate points. It would open to European nations the portals to a new field of enterprise, and complete the series of combinations forming to develop the riches with which the Pacific abounds, by presenting to European industry a new group of producers and consumers. The remotest regions of the East would thus come more under the influence of European civilization; while, by a quicker and safer intercourse, our Indian possessions would be rendered more secure, and our new connexion with China strengthened. Besides the wealth arriving from Asia and the islands in the wide Pacific, the produce of Acapulco, San Blas, California, Nootka Sound, and the Columbia river, on the one side, and of Guayaquil, Peru, and Chili, on the other, would come to the Atlantic by a shorter route, at the same time that we might receive advices from New Holland and New Zealand with only half the delay we now do.

The mere recurrence to a map will at once show, that the isthmus of Panama is destined to become a great commercial thoroughfare, and, at a moderate expense, might be made the seat of an extensive trade. By the facilities of communication across, new wants would be created; and, as fresh markets open to European enterprise, a proportionate share of the supplies would fall to our lot. In the present depressed state of our commercial relations, some effort must be made to apply the industry of the country to a larger range of objects. A century of experiments and labour has changed the face of nature in our own country, quadrupled the produce of our lands, and extended a green mantle over districts which once wore the appearance of barren wastes; but the consumption of our manufactures abroad has not risen in the same proportion. It behoves us, then, to explore and secure new markets, which can best be done by connecting ourselves with those regions to which the isthmus of Panama is the readiest avenue. In a mercantile point of view, the importance of the western coasts of America is only partially known to us. With the exception of Valparaiso and Lima, our merchants seldom visit the various ports along that extended line, to which the establishment of the Hudson's Bay Company on the Columbia river gives a new feature. Although abounding in the elements of wealth, in many of these secluded regions the spark of commercial life has scarcely been awakened by foreign intercourse. Our whale-fisheries in the Pacific may also require more protection than they have hitherto done; and if we ever hope to have it in our power to obtain live alpacas from Peru as a new stock in this country, and at a rate cheap enough for the farmer to purchase and naturalize them, it must be by the way of Panama, by which route guano manure may also be brought over to us at one half of the present charges. We are now sending bonedust and other artificial composts to Jamaica and our other islands in the West Indies, in order to restore the soil, impoverished by successive sugar-cane crops, while the most valuable fertilizer, providentially provided on the other side of the isthmus, remains entirely neglected.

The establishment of a more direct intercourse with the Pacific, it will therefore readily be acknowledged, is an undertaking worthy of a great nation, and conformable to the spirit of the age in which we are living—an undertaking which would do more honour to Great Britain, and ultimately prove more beneficial to our merchants, than any other that possibly could be devised. Nor is it to be imagined that other nations are insensible to the advantages which [pg 669] they would derive from an opening of this kind. The feelings and sentiments of the French upon this subject have already been briefly noticed. The King of Holland has expressed himself favourable to the undertaking, nor are the Belgians behind hand in their good wishes for its accomplishment. If possible, the North Americans have a larger and more immediate interest in its success than the commercial nations of Europe. Ever since their acquisition of Louisiana, a general spirit of enterprise has directed a large portion of their population towards the head waters of the Mississippi and Missouri—a spirit which impels a daring and thrifty race of men gradually to advance towards the north-west. Captain Clark's excursion in 1805, had for its object the discovery of a route to the Pacific by connecting the Missouri and Columbia rivers, a subject on which, even at that early period, he expressed himself thus:—"I consider this track across the continent of immense advantage to the fur trade, as all the furs collected in nine-tenths of the most valuable fur country in America, may be conveyed to the mouth of the Columbia river, and thence shipped to the East Indies by the 15th of August in each year, and will, of course, reach Canton earlier than the furs which are annually exported from Montreal arrive in Great Britain."

This extract will suffice to show the spirit of emulation by which the citizens of the Union were, even at so remote a period, actuated in reference to the north-west coast of America—a spirit which has since manifested itself in a variety of ways, and in much stronger terms. The distance overland is, however, too great, and the population too scanty, for this route to be rendered available for the general purposes of traffic, at least for many years to come. The North Americans have, therefore, turned their attention to other points offering facilities of communication with the Pacific; and the line to which they have usually given the preference is the Mexican, or more northern one, across the isthmus of Tehuantepec, situated partly in the province of Oaxaca and partly in that of Vera Cruz. The facilities afforded by this locality have been described by several tourists; but supposing that the river Guassacualco, on the Atlantic, is, or can be made navigable for large vessels as high up as the isthmus of Tehuantepec, (as to deep water at the entrance, there is no doubt,) still a carriage road for at least sixteen leagues would be necessary. The intervening land, although it may contain some favourable breaks, is nevertheless avowedly so high, that from some of the mountain summits the two oceans my be easily seen. The obstacles to a road, and much more so to a canal, are therefore very considerable; and a suitable and corresponding outlet into the Pacific, besides, has not yet been discovered.

This, then, is by no means so eligible a spot as the isthmus of Panama. From its situation, the Tehuantepec route would, nevertheless, be extremely valuable to the North Americans; and it must not be forgotten that, in this stirring age, there is scarcely an undertaking that baffles the ingenuity of man. Owing to their position, the North Americans would gain more by shortening the passage to the Pacific than ourselves; and Tehuantepec being the nearest point to them suited for that object, and also the one which they could most effectually control, it is more than probable that, at some future period, they will use every effort to have it opened. The country through which the line would pass is confessedly richer, healthier, and more populous, than that contiguous to the Lake of Nicaragua, or across the isthmus of Panama; but should the work projected ever be carried into execution, eventually this route must become an American monopoly.

The citizens of the United States, it will therefore readily be believed, are keenly alive to the subject, and calculate thus:—A steamer leaving the Mississippi can reach Guassacualco in six days; in seven, her cargo might be transferred across the isthmus of Tehuantepec to the Pacific, and in fifty more reach China—total, sixty-three days. As an elucidation, let us suppose that the usual route to the same destination, round Gape Horn, from a more central part of the Union—Philadelphia, for example—is 16, 150 miles; in that case the distance saved, independent of less sea risk, would be as follows:—From the Delaware to Guassacualco, 2100 miles; across Tehuantepec to the Pacific, 120; to the Sandwich Islands, [pg 670] 3835; to the Ladrone do., 3900; and to Canton, 2080—total, 12,035 miles; whereby the saving would be 4115, besides affording greater facilities for the application of steam. Their estimate of the saving to the Columbia river is still more encouraging. From one of their central ports the distance round Cape Horn is estimated at 18,261 miles; whereas by the Mexican route it would be, to Guassacualco and overland to the Pacific, 2220 miles, and thence to the Columbia river, 2760—total, 4980; thus leaving the enormous difference of 13, 281 miles—two-thirds of the distance, besides the advantage of a safer navigation. By the new route, and the aid of steam, a voyage to the destination above named may be performed in thirty instead of a hundred and forty days; and as the population extends towards the north-west, the Columbia river must become a place of importance. Hitherto the Pacific ports of Mexico and California have chiefly been supplied with goods carried overland from Vera Cruz, surcharged with heavy duties and expenses. More need not be said to show that the United States are on the alert; nor can it be imagined that they will allow any favourable opportunity of securing to themselves an easier access to the Pacific to escape them. On finding another road open, they would, however, be inclined to desist from seeking a line of communication for themselves. There is, indeed, every reason to expect that they would cheerfully concur in a work, the completion of which would so materially redound to their advantage.

Nothing, indeed, can be more evident than the fact, that not only Great Britain and the United States, but also all the commercial nations of Europe, are deeply interested in securing for themselves a shorter and safer passage into the great Pacific, on terms the most prompt and economical that circumstances will allow; and the success which has attended civilization within the present century, demands that this effort should be made, in which, from her position, Great Britain is peculiarly called upon to take the initiative. For the last twenty years the Panamese have been buoyed up with the hope, that an attempt, of some kind or other, would be made to open a communication across their isthmus, calculated to compensate them for all their losses; and hence they have always been disposed to second the exertions of any respectable party prepared to undertake a work which they cannot themselves accomplish. They have heard of the time of the Galeones, when the fleet, annually arriving from Peru, landed its treasures in their port, which were exultingly carried overland to Porto Bello, where the fair was held. "On that occasion," says Ulloa, "the road was covered with droves of mules, each consisting of above a hundred, laden with boxes of gold and silver," &c. Panama then rose into consequence, attaining a state of wealth and prosperity which ceased when the trade from the western shores took another direction. The natives and local authorities would consequently rejoice at an event so favourable to them, and vie with each other in according to the projectors every aid and protection. Provisions and rents are cheap, and, under all circumstances, the work might be completed at half the expense it would cost in Europe.

At various periods foreign individuals have obtained grants to carry the project into execution, but time proved that they were mere speculators, unprovided with capital, and unfortunately death prevented Bolivar from realizing his favourite scheme. For the same object, attempts have also been made to form companies; but, owing to the hitherto unsettled state of the government in whose territory the isthmus is situated, the unpopularity of South American enterprizes, and the fact that no grant made to private individuals could afford sufficient security for the outlay of capital, these schemes fell to the ground. The non-performance of the promises made by the grantees, at length induced the Congress of New Granada to annul all privileges conferred on individuals for the purpose of opening a canal, or constructing a railroad across the isthmus, and notifying that the project should be left open for general competition. This determination, and the ulterior views of the French in that quarter, have again brought the subject under discussion; and it is thought that a fresh attempt will, erelong, be made to organize a company. It must, however, be evident [pg 671] to every reflecting mind, that although the scheme has a claim on the best energies of our countrymen, and is entitled to the efficient patronage of government, yet, even if the funds were for this purpose raised through private agency, the works never could be carried into execution in a manner consistent with the magnitude of the object in view, or the concern administered on a plan calculated to produce the results anticipated. No body of individuals ought, indeed, to receive and hold such a grant as would secure to them the tenure of the lands required for the undertaking. If such a privilege could be rendered valid, it would place in their hands a monopoly liable to abuses.

The best expedient would be for the several maritime and commercial nations interested in the success of the enterprize, to unite and enter into combinations, so as to secure for themselves a safe and permanent transit for the benefit of all; and then let the work be undertaken with no selfish or ambitious views, but in a spirit of mutual fellowship; and, when completed, let this be a highway for each party contributing to the expense, enjoyed and protected by all. At first sight this idea may appear romantic—the combinations required may be thought difficult; but every where the extension of commerce is now the order of the day, and the good understanding which prevails among the parties who might be invited to concur in the work, warrants the belief that, at a moment so peculiarly auspicious, little diplomatic ingenuity would be required to procure their assent and co-operation. By means of negotiations undertaken by Great Britain and conducted in a right spirit, trading nations would be induced to agree and contribute to the expenses of the enterprize in proportion to the advantages which they may hope to derive from its completion. If, for example, the estimate of the cost amounted to half a million sterling, Great Britain, France, and the United States might contribute L.100,000 each, and the remainder be divided among the minor European states—each having a common right to the property thereby created, and each a commissioner on the spot, to watch over their respective interests.

This would be the most honourable and effectual mode of improving facilities to which the commerce and civilization of Europe have a claim. It is the settled conviction of the most intelligent persons who have traversed the isthmus, that these facilities exist to the extent herein described and unity of purpose is therefore all that is wanting for the attainment of the end proposed. Jealousies would be thus obviated; and to such a concession as the one suggested, the local government could have no objection, as its own people would participate in the benefits flowing from it. This is indeed a tribute due from the New to the Old World; nor could the other South American states hesitate to sanction a grant made for a commercial purpose, and for the general advantage of mankind. The isthmus of Panama, that interesting portion of their continent, has remained neglected for ages; and so it must continue, at least as regards any great and useful purpose, unless called into notice by extraordinary combinations. With so many prospective advantages before us, it is therefore to be hoped that the time has arrived when Great Britain will take the initiative, and promote the combinations necessary to establish a commercial intercourse between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, an event that would widen the scope for maritime enterprizes more than any that has happened within the memory of the present generation, and connect us more closely with those countries which have lately been the theatre of our triumphs. The East India and Hudson's Bay Companies, the traders to China and the Indian archipelago, the Australian and New Zealand colonists, together with their connexions at home—in a word, all those who are desirous of shortening the tedious and perilous navigation round Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope—would be benefited by the construction of a railroad; which, by making Panama an entrepot of supplies for the western shores of America and the islands in the Pacific, either in direct communication with Great Britain or the West India colonies, our manufacturers would participate in the profits of an increased demand for European commodities, which necessarily must follow the accomplishment of so grand a design.

[pg 672]


The Germans and French differ more from each other in the art and mystery of story-telling than either of them do from the English. It would be very easy to point out tales which are very popular in Paris, that would make no sensation at Vienna or Berlin; and, vice versa, we cannot imagine how the French can possibly enter into the spirit of many of the best known authors of Deutschland. In England, we are happy to say we can appreciate them all. History, philology, philosophy—in short, all the modes and subdivisions of heavy authorship—we leave out of the question, and address ourselves, on this occasion, to the distinctive characteristics of the two schools of light literature—schools which have a wider influence, and number more scholars, than all the learned academies put together.

In this country an outcry has been raised against the French authors in this department, and in favour of the Germans, on the ground of the frightful immorality of the first, and the sound principles of the other. French impiety is not a more common expression, applied to their writings, than German honesty. It will, perhaps, be right at starting to state, that, in regard to decency and propriety, the two nations are on a par; if there is any preponderance, one way or other, it certainly is not in favour of the Germans, whose derelictions in those respects are more solemn, and apparently sincere, than their flippant and superficial rivals. Many authors there are, of course, in both countries, whose works are unexceptionable in spirit and intention; but as to the assertion, that one literature is of a higher tone of morals than the other, it is a mistake. The great majority of the entertaining works in both are unfit pueris virginibusque.

Before the Revolution, Voltaire was as popular in England as in the rest of Europe; his powers as highly admired, and his short historiettes as much quoted: their wit being considered a sufficient counterbalance of their coarseness. But with the war between the two nations, arose a hatred between the two literatures; with Swift and Tristram Shandy in our hands, we turned up our eyes in holy indignation at Candide; we saw nothing to admire in any thing French; and as our condition in politics became more isolated, and we grew like our ancestors, toto divisos orbe Britannos— we could see no beauty in any thing foreign. The Orders in Council extended to criticism; and all continental languages were placed in blockade. The first nation who honestly and zealously took our part against the enemy was the German; and from that time we began to study achs and dochs. Leipsic, that made Napoleon little, made Goethe great; and to Waterloo we are indebted for peace and freedom, and also for a belief in the truth and talent of a host of German authors, whose principal merit consisted in the fact of their speaking the same language in which Blucher called for his tobacco. The opposite feelings took rise from our enmity to the French; and though by this time we have sense enough to be on good terms with the crapauds, and on visiting terms with Louis Philippe, we have not got over our antipathy to their tongue. During the contest, we had constantly refreshed our zeal by fervent declarations of contempt for the frog-eating, spindle shanked mounseers, and persuaded ourselves that their whole literature consisted in atheism and murder, and though we now know that frogs are by no means the common food of the peasantry—costing about a guinea a dish—and that it is possible for a Frenchman to be a strapping fellow of six feet high, the taint of our former persuasion remains with us still as to their books; and, in some remote districts, we have no doubt that Peter Pindar would be thought a more harmless volume in a young lady's hands than Pascal's Thoughts—in French.

It is not unlikely that the Customs' Union may lower our estimate of Weimar; a five years' war with Austria and Prussia, especially if we were assisted by the French, would make us rank Schiller himself—the greatest of German names—on the same humble level where we now place Victor Hugo. But there are thousands, of people in this good realm of England, who actually consider such beings [pg 673] a Spindler and Vandervelde superior to the noble genius who created Notre Dame de Paris. Poor as our own novel-writers, by profession, have shown themselves of late years, their efforts are infinitely superior to the very best of the German novelists; and yet we see advertisements every day in the newspapers, of new translations from fourth or fifth-rate scribblers for Leipsic fair, which would lead one to expect a far higher order of merit than any of our living authors can show. "A new work by the Walter Scott of Germany!" A new work by the Newton of Stoke Pogis! A new picture by the Apelles of the Isle of Man! The Walter Scott of Germany, according to somebody's saying about Milton, is a very German Walter Scott; and, if under this ridiculous pull is concealed some drivelling historical hash by Spindler or Tromlits, the force of impudence can no farther go.

But we must take care not to be carried too far in our depreciation of German light literature by our indignation at the over-estimate formed of some of its professors. Let us admit that there are admirable authors—a fact which it would be impossible to deny with such works before us as Tieck's, and Hoffman's, and a host of others—quos nunc perscribere longum est. Let us leave the small fry to the congenial admiration of the devourers of our circulating libraries, and form our judgment of the respective methods of conducting a story of the French and Germans, from a comparison of the heroes of each tongue. Let us judge of Greek and Roman war from the Phalanx and the Legion, and not from the suttlers of the two camps. A great excellence in a German novelist is the prodigious faith he seems to have in his own story; he relates incidents as if he knew them of his own knowledge; and the wilder and more incredible they are, the more firm and solemn becomes his belief. The Frenchman never descends from holding the wires of the puppets to be a puppet himself, or even to delude spectators with the idea that they are any thing but puppets; he never forfeits his superiority over the personages of the story, by allowing the reader to lose sight of the author; no, he piques himself on being the great showman, and would scarcely take it as a compliment if you entered into the interest of the tale, unless as an exhibition of the narrator's talent. But then he handles his wires so cleverly, and is really so immensely superior to the fictitious individuals whom he places before us, that it is no great wonder if we prefer Alexander Dumas or Jules Janin to their heroes. The Germans, relying on their own powers of belief, have taxed their readers' credulity to a pitch which sober Protestants find it very difficult to attain. Old Tieck or Hoffman introduces you to ghouls and ghosts, and they look on them, themselves, with such awestruck eyes, and treat them in every way with such demonstrations of perfect credence in their being really ghouls and ghosts, that it is not to be denied that strange feelings creep over one in reading their stories at the witching hour, when the fire is nearly out, and the candle-wicks are an inch and a half long. The Frenchman seldom introduces a ghost—never a ghoul; but he makes up for it by describing human beings with sentiments which would probably make the ghoul feel ashamed to associate with them. The utmost extent of human profligacy is depicted, but still the profligacy is human; it is only an amplification—very clever and very horrid—of a real character; but never borrows any additional horrors from the other world. A French author knows very well that the wickedness of this world is quite enough to set one's hair on end—for we suspect that the Life in Paris would supply any amount of iniquity—and professors of the shocking, like Frederick Soulie or Eugene Sue, can afford very well to dispense with vampires and gentlemen who have sold their shadows to the devil. The German, in fact, takes a short cut to the horrible and sublime, by bringing a live demon into his story, and clothing him with human attributes; the Frenchman takes the more difficult way, and succeeds in it, by introducing a real man, and endowing him with the sentiments of a fiend. The fault of the one is exaggeration; of the other, miscreation: redeemed in the first by extraordinary cleverness; in the other, by wonderful belief. What a contrast between La Motte Fouqué and Balzac! how national and characteristic both! No one can read a chapter of the Magic Ring without seeing that the Baron believes [pg 674] in all the wonders of his tale; a page of the other suffices to show that there are few things on the face of the earth in which he believes at all. Dim, mystic, childish, with open mouth and staring eyes, the German sees the whole phantasmagoria of the nether world pass before him: keen, biting, sarcastic—egotistic as a beauty, and cold-hearted as Mephistopheles—the Frenchman walks among his figures in a gilded drawing room; probes their spirits, breaks their hearts, ruins their reputation, and seems to have a profound contempt for any reader who is so carried away by his power as to waste a touch of sympathy on the unsubstantial pageants he has clothed for a brief period in flesh and blood. We confess the sober super-naturalism of the German has less attractions with us, than the grinning infra-naturalism of the Frenchman. There is more sameness in it, and, besides, it is to be hoped we have at all tines less sympathy for the very best of devils than for the very worst of men. Luckily for the Frenchman, he has no need to go to the lower regions to procure monsters to make us shudder. His own tremendous Revolution furnishes him with names before which Lucifer must hide his diminished head; and from this vast repertory of all that is horrid and grotesque—more horrid on account of its grotesqueness—the feuilletonists, or short story-tellers, are not indisposed to draw. We back Danton any day against Old Nick. And how infinitely better the effect of introducing a true villain in plain clothes, relying for his power only on the known and undeniable atrocity of his character, than all the pale-faced, hollow-eyed denizens of the lower pit, concealing their cloven feet in polished-leather Wellington boots, and their tails in a fashionable surtout. We shall translate a short story of Balzac, which will illustrate these remarks, only begging the reader to fancy to himself how different the denouément would have been in the hands of a German; how demons, instead of surgeons and attorneys, would have disclosed themselves at the end of the story, how blue the candles would have burned; and what an awful smell of brimstone would have been perceptible when they disappeared. It is called the Two Dreams, and, we think, is a sketch of great power.

Bodard de St James, treasurer of the navy in 1786, was the best known, and most talked of, of all the financiers in Paris. He had built his celebrated Folly at Neuilly, and his wife had bought an ornament of feathers for the canopy of her bed, the enormous price of which had put it beyond the power of the Queen. Bodard possessed the magnificent hotel in the Place Vendôme which the collector of taxes, Dangé, had been forced to leave. Madame de St James was ambitious, and would only have people of rank about her—a weakness almost universal in persons of her class. The humble members of the lower house had no charms for her. She wished to see in her saloons the nobles and dignitaries of the land who had, at least, the grand entrées at Versailles. To say that many cordons bleus visited the fair financier would be absurd; but it is certain she had managed to gain the notice of several of the Rohan family, as came out very clearly in the celebrated process of the necklace.

One evening, I think it was the 2d of August 1786, I was surprised to encounter in her drawing-room two individuals, whose appearance did not entitle them to the acquaintance of a person so exclusive as the Treasurer's wife. She came to me in an embrasure of the window where I had taken my seat.

"Tell me," I said, with a look towards one of the strangers, "who in the world is that? How does such a being find his way here?"

"He is a charming person, I assure you."

"Oh—you see him through the spectacles of love!" I said, and smiled.

"You are not mistaken," she replied, smiling also. "He is horribly ugly, no doubt, but he has rendered me the greatest service a man can do to woman."

I laughed, and I suppose looked maliciously, for she hastily added—"He has entirely cured me of those horrid eruptions in the face, that made my complexion like a peasant's."

I shrugged my shoulders. "Oh—he's a quack!" I said.

"No, no," she answered, "he is a surgeon of good reputation. He is very clever, I assure you; and, moreover, he is an author. He's an excellent doctor."

[pg 675] "And the other?" I enquired.

"Who? What other?"

"The little fellow with the starched, stiff face—looking as sour as if he had drunk verjuice."

"Oh! he is a man of good family. I don't know where he comes from. He is engaged in some business of the Cardinal's, and it was his Eminence himself who presented him to St James. Both parties have chosen St James for umpire; in that, you will say, the provincial has not shown much wisdom; but who can the people be who confide their interests to such a creature? He is quiet as a lamb, and timid as a girl; but his Eminence courts him—for the matter is of importance—three hundred thousand francs, I believe."

"He's an attorney, then?"

"Yes," she replied; and, after the humiliating confession, took her seat at the Faro table.

I went and threw myself in an easy chair at the fireplace; and if ever a man was astonished it was I, when I saw seated opposite me the Controller-General! M. de Calonne looked stupified and half-asleep. I nodded to Beaumarchais, and looked as if I wished an explanation; and the author of Figaro, or rather Figaro himself, made clear the mystery in a manner not very complimentary to Madame de St James s character, whatever it might be to her beauty. "Oho! the minister is caught," I thought; "no wonder the Collector lives in such style."

It was half-past twelve before the card-tables were removed, and we sat down to supper. We were a party of ten—Bodard and his wife, the Controller-General, Beaumarchais, the two strangers, two handsome women whose names I will not mention, and a collector of taxes, I think a M. Lavoisier. Of thirty who had been in the drawing-room when I entered, these were all who remained. The supper was stupid beyond belief. The two strangers and the Collector were intolerable bores. I made signs to Beaumarchais to make the surgeon tipsy, while I undertook the same kind office with the attorney, who sat on my left. As we had no other means of amusing ourselves, and the plan promised some fun, by bringing out the two interlopers and making them more ridiculous than we had found them already, M. de Calonne entered into the plot. In a moment the three ladies saw our design, and joined in it with all their power. The surgeon seemed very well inclined to yield; but when I had filled my neighbour's glass for the third time, he thanked me with cold politeness, and would drink no more. The conversation, I don't know from what cause, had turned on the magic suppers of the Count Cagliostro. I took little interest in it, for, from the moment of my neighbour's refusal to drink, I had done nothing but study his pale and small featured countenance. His nose was flat and sharp-pointed at the same time, and occasionally an expression came to his eyes that gave him the appearance of a weasel. All at once the blood rushed to his cheeks when he heard Madame St James say to M. de Calonne—

"But I assure you, sir, I have actually seen Queen Cleopatra."

"I believe it, madame," exclaimed my neighbour; "for I have spoken to Catharine de Medicis."

"Oh! oh!" laughed M. De Calonne.

The words uttered by the little provincial had an indefinable sonorousness. The sudden clearness of intonation, from a man who, up to this time, had scarcely spoken above his breath, startled us all.

"And how was her late Majesty?" said M. De Calonne.

"I can't positively declare that the person with whom I supped last night was Catharine de Medicis herself, for a miracle like that must be incredible to a Christian as well as to a philosopher," replied the attorney, resting the points of his fingers on the table, and setting himself up in his chair, as if he intended to speak for some time; "but I can swear that the person, whoever she was, resembled Catharine de Medicis as if they had been sisters. She wore a black velvet robe, exactly like the dress of that queen given in her portrait in the Royal Gallery; and the rapidity of her evocation was most surprising, as M. De Cagliostro had no idea of the person I should desire him to call up. I was confounded. The sight of a supper at which the illustrious women of past ages were present, took away my self-command. I listened without daring to ask a question. On getting away at midnight from the power of his enchantments, I almost doubted of my own [pg 676] existence. But what is the most wonderful thing about it is, that all those marvels appear to be quite natural and commonplace compared to the extraordinary hallucination I was subjected to afterwards. I don't know how to explain the state of my feelings to you in words; I will only say that, from henceforth, I an not surprised that there are spirits—strong enough or weak enough, I know not which—to believe in the mysteries of magic and the power of demons."

These words were pronounced with an incredible eloquence of tone. They were calculated to arrest our attention, and all eyes were fixed on the speaker. In that man, so cold and self-possessed, there burned a hidden fire which began to act upon us all.

"I know not," he continued, "whether the figure followed me in a state of invisibility; but the moment I got into bed, I saw the great shade of Catharine rise before me: all of a sudden she bent her head towards me—but I don't know whether I ought to go on," said the narrator, interrupting himself; "for though I must believe it was only a dream, what I have to tell is of the utmost weight."

"Is it about religion?" enquired Beaumarchais.

"Or, perhaps, something not fit for ladies' ears?" added M. de Calonne.

"It is about government," replied the stranger.

"Go on, then," said the Minister: "Voltaire, Diderot, and Company, have tutored our ears to good purpose."

"Whether it was that certain ideas rose involuntarily to my mind, or that I was acting under some irresistible impulse, I said to her—'Ah, madame, you committed an enormous crime.'

"'What crime?' she asked me in a solemn voice.

"'That of which the Palace clock gave the signal on the 24th of August.'

"She smiled disdainfully. 'You call that a crime?' she said: ''twas nothing but a misfortune. The enterprise failed, and has, therefore, not produced all the good we expected from it—to France, to Europe, to Christianity itself. The orders were ill executed, and posterity makes no allowance for the want of communication which hindered us from giving all the unity to our effort which is requisite in affairs of state;—that was the misfortune. If on the 26th of August there had not remained the shadow of a Huguenot in France, the latest posterity would have looked upon me with awe, as a Providence among men. How often have the clear intellects of Sextus the Fifth, of Richelieu, and Bossuet, secretly accused me of having failed in the design, after having had the courage to conceive it; and therefore how my death was regretted! Thirty years after the St Bartholomew, the malady existed still; and cost France ten times the quantity of noble blood that remained to be spilt on the 26th August 1572. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in honour of which medals were struck, cost more blood, more tears, and more treasure, and has been more injurious to France, than twenty St Bartholomews. If on the 25th August 1572, that enormous execution was necessary, on the 25th August 1685 it was useless. Under the second son of Henry de Valois heresy was almost barren; under the second son of Henry de Bourbon she had become a fruitful mother, and scattered her progeny over the globe. You accuse me of a crime, and yet you raise statues to the son of Anne of Austria!'

"At these words—slowly uttered—I felt a shudder creep over me. I seemed to inhale the smell of blood."

"He dreamt that to a certainty," whispered Beaumarchais; "he could not have invented it."

"'My reason is confounded,' I said to the queen. 'You plume yourself on an action which three generations have condemned and cursed, and'—

"'And,' she interrupted, 'that history has been more unjust to me than my contemporaries were. Nobody has taken up my defence. I am accused of ambition—I, rich and a queen—I am accused of cruelty; and the most impartial judges consider me a riddle. Do you think that I was actuated by feelings of hatred; that I breathed nothing but vengeance and fury?' She smiled. 'I was calm and cold as Reason herself. I condemned the Huguenots without pity, it is true, but without anger. If I had been Queen of England, I would have done the same to the Catholics if they had been seditious. Our country required at that time one God, one faith, one [pg 677] master. Luckily for me, I have described my policy in a word. When Birague announced to me the defeat at Dreux—well, I said, we must go to the Conventicle.—Hate the Huguenots, indeed! I honoured them greatly, and I did not know them. How could I hate those who had never been my friends?'

"'But, madame, instead of that horrible butchery, why did you not try to give the Calvinists the wise indulgences which made the reign of the Fourth Henry so peaceable and so glorious?'

"She smiled again, and the wrinkles in her face and brow gave an expression of the bitterest irony to her pale features.

"'Henry committed two faults,' she said. He ought neither to have abjured, nor to have left France Catholic after having become so himself. He alone was in a position to change the destinies of France. There should have been either no Crosier or no Conventicle. He should never have left in the government two hostile principles, with nothing to balance them. It is impossible that Sully can have looked without envy on the immense possessions of the church. But,' she paused, and seemed to consider for a moment—'is it the niece of a pope you are surprised to see a Catholic? After all,' she said, 'I could have been a Calvinist with all my heart. Does any one believe that religion had any thing to do with that movement, that revolution, the greatest the world has ever seen, which has been retarded by trifling causes, but which nothing can hinder from coming to pass, since I failed to crush it? A revolution,' she added, fixing her eye on me, 'which is even now in motion, and which you—yes, you—you who now listen to me—can finish.'

"I shuddered.

"'What! has no one perceived that the old interests and the new have taken Rome and Luther for their watchwords? What! Louis the Ninth, in order to avoid a struggle of the same kind, carried away with him five times the number of victims I condemned, and left their bones on the shores of Africa, and is considered a saint; while I—but the reason is soon given—I failed!'

"She bent her head, and was silent a moment. She was no longer a queen, but one of those awful druidesses who rejoiced in human sacrifices, and unrolled the pages of the Future by studying the records of the Past. At length she raised her noble and majestic head again. 'You are all inclined,' she said, 'to bestow more sympathy on a few worthless victims than on the tears and sufferings of a whole generation! And you forget that religious liberty, political freedom, a nation's tranquillity, science itself, are benefits which Destiny never vouchsafes to man without being paid for them in blood!'

"'Cannot nations, some day or other, obtain happiness on easier terms?' I asked, with tears in my eyes.

"'Truths never leave their well unless to be bathed in blood. Christianity itself—the essence of all truth, since it came from God—was not established without its martyrs. Blood flowed in torrents.'

"Blood! blood! the word sounded in my ear like a bell.

"'You think, then,' I said, 'that Protestantism would have a right to reason as you do.'

"But Catharine had disappeared, and I awoke, trembling and in tears, till reason resumed her sway, and told me that the doctrines of that proud Italian were detestable, and that neither king nor people had a right to act on the principles she had enounced, which I felt were only worthy of a nation of atheists."

When the unknown ceased to speak, the ladies made no remark. M. Bodard was asleep. The surgeon, who was half tipsy, Lavoisier Beaumarchais, and I, were the only ones who had listened. M. de Calonne was flirting with his neighbour. At that moment there was something solemn in the silence. The candles themselves seemed to me to burn with a magic dimness. A hidden power had riveted our attention, by some mysterious links, to the extraordinary narrator, who made me feel what might be the inexplicable influence of fanaticism. It was only the deep hollow voice of Beaumarchais' neighbour that awakened us from our surprise.

"I also had a dream," he said. I looked more attentively at the surgeon, and instinctively shuddered with horror. His earthy colour—his features, at once vulgar and imposing, presented the true expression of the canaille. He had dark pimples spread [pg 678] over his face like patches of dirt, and his eyes beamed with a repulsive light. His countenance was more horrid, perhaps, than it might otherwise have been, from his head being snow-white with powder.

"That fellow must have buried a host of patients," I said to my neighbour the attorney.

"I would not trust him with my dog," was the answer.

"I hate him—I can't help it," I said.

"I despise him."

"No—you're wrong there," I replied.

"And did you also dream of a queen?" enquired Beaumarchais.

"No! I dreamt of a people," he answered with an emphasis that made us laugh. "I had to cut off a patient's leg on the following day, and"—

"And you found the people in his leg?" asked M. de Calonne.

"Exactly," replied the surgeon.

"He's quite amusing," tittered the Countess de G——.

"I was rather astonished, I assure you," continued the man, without minding the sneers and interruptions he met with, "to find any thing to speak to in that leg. I had the extraordinary faculty of entering into my patient. When I found myself, for the first time, in his skin, I saw an immense quantity of little beings, which moved about, and thought, and reasoned. Some lived in the man's body, and some in his mind. His ideas were living things, which were born, grew up, and died. They were ill and well, lively, sorrowful; and in short had each their own characteristics. They quarrelled, or were friendly with each other. Some of these ideas forced their way out, and went to inhabit the intellectual world; for I saw at a glance that there were two worlds—the visible and the invisible, and that earth, like man, had a body and soul. Nature laid itself bare to me; and I perceived its immensity, by seeing the ocean of beings who were spread every where, making the whole one mass of animated matter, from the marbles up to God. It was a noble sight! In short, there was a universe in my patient. When I inserted the knife in his gangrened leg I annihilated millions of those beings. You laugh, ladies, to think you are possessed by animals."

"Don't be personal," sneered M. de Calonne—"speak for yourself and your patient."

"He, poor man, was so frightened by the cries of those animals, and suffered such torture, that he tried to interrupt the operation. But I persevered, and I told him that those noxious animals were actually gnawing his bones. He made a movement, and the knife hurt my own side."

"He is an ass," said Lavoisier.

"No—he is only drunk," replied Beaumarchais.

"But, gentlemen, my dream has a meaning in it," cried the surgeon.

"Oh! oh!" exclaimed Bodard, who awoke at the moment—"my leg's asleep."

"Your animals are dead, my dear," said his wife.

"That man has a destiny to fulfill," cried my neighbour the attorney, who had kept his eyes fixed on the narrator the whole time.

"It is to yours, sir," replied the frightful guest, who had overheard the remark, "what action is to thought—what the body is to the soul." But at this point his tongue became very confused from the quantity he had drunk, and his further words were unintelligible.

Luckily for us, the conversation soon took another turn, and in half an hour we forgot all about the surgeon, who was sound asleep in his chair. The rain fell in torrents when we rose from table.

"The attorney is no fool," said I to Beaumarchais.

"He is heavy and cold," he replied; "but you see there are still steady, good sort of people in the provinces, who are quite in earnest about political theories, and the history of France. It is a leaven that will work yet."

"Is your carriage here?" asked Madame de St James.

"No"—I replied coldly. "You wished me, perhaps, to take M. de Calonne home?"

She left me, slightly offended at the insinuation, and turned to the attorney.

"M. de Robespierre," she said, "will you have the kindness to set M. Marat down at his hotel? He is not able to take care of himself."

[pg 679]


"The game is up." Such were the words uttered with a somewhat different intonation, which last month, in speaking of Mr O'Connell's crusade against the peace of Ireland, we used tentatively, almost doubtfully, but still in the spirit of hope, in reference to the crisis then apparently impending, that the agitation might prolong itself by transmigrating into some other shape, for that case we allowed. But in any result, foremost amongst the auguries of hope was this—that the evil example of Mr O' Connell's sedition would soon redress itself by a catastrophe not less exemplary. And no consummation could satisfy us as a proper euthanasy of this memorable conspiracy, which should not fasten itself as a moral to the long malice of the agitation growing out of it, as a natural warning, and saying audibly to all future agitators—try not this scheme again, or look for a similar humiliation. Those auguries are, in one sense, accomplished; that consummation substantially is realized. Sedition has, at last, countermined itself, and conspiracy we have seen in effect perishing by its own excesses. Yet still, ingenuously speaking, we cannot claim the merit of a felicitous foresight. That result has come round which we foreboded; but not in that sense which we intended to authorize, nor exactly by those steps which we wished to see. We looked for the extinction of this national scourge by its own inevitable decays: through its own organization we had hoped that the Repeal Association should be confounded: we trusted that an enthusiasm, founded in ignorance, and which, in no one stage, could be said to have prospered, must finally droop spontaneously, and that once having drooped, through mere defect of actions that bore any meaning, or tendencies that offered any promise, by no felicities of intrigue could it ever be revived. Whether we erred in the philosophy of our anticipations, cannot now be known; for, whether wrong or right in theory, in practice our expectation has been abruptly cut short. A deus ex machinâ has descended amongst us abruptly, and intercepted the natural evolution of the plot: the executive Government has summarily effected the peripetteia by means of a coup d'état; and the end, such as we augured, has been brought about by means essentially different.

Yet, if thus far we were found in error, would not that argue a corresponding error in the Government? If we, relying on the self-consistency of the executive, and because we relied on that self-consistency, predicted a particular solution for the nodus of Repeal, which solution has now become impossible; presuming a perseverance in the original policy of ministers, now that its natural fruits were rapidly ripening—whereas, after all, at the eleventh hour we find them adopting that course which, with stronger temptation, they had refused to adopt in the first hour—were this the true portrait of the case, would it be ourselves that erred, or Government?—ourselves in counting on steadiness, or Government in acting with caprice? Meantime, is this the portrait of the case?

That we shall know when Parliament meets; and possibly not before. At present the attempts to explain, to reconcile, and, as it were, to construe the Government system of policy, is first almost neglecting the Irish sedition, and then (after half-a-year's sedentary and distant skirmishing, by means of Chancery letters) suddenly, on the 7th day of October, leaping into the arena armed cap-a-pie, dividing themselves like a bomb-shell amongst the conspirators, rending—shattering—pursuing to the right and to the left;—all attempts, we say, to harmonize that past quiescence (almost acquiescence) with this present demoniac energy, have seemed to the public either false or feeble, or in some way insufficient. Five such attempts we have noticed; and of the very best we may say that perhaps it tells the truth, but not the whole truth. First came the solution of a great morning journal—to the effect that Government had, knowingly and wilfully, altered their policy, treading back their own steps upon finding the inefficiency of gentler measures. On this view no harmonizing principle was called for; [pg 680] the discord existed confessedly, and the one course had been the palinode of the other. But such a theory is quite inadmissible to our minds; it tallies neither with the long-headed and comprehensive sagacity of Sir Robert Peel, nor with the spirit of simplicity, directness, and determination in the Duke of Wellington. Next came an evening paper, of high character for Conservative honesty and ability, which (having all along justified the past policy of vigilant neutrality) could not be supposed to acknowledge any fickleness in ministers: the time for moderation and indulgence, according to this journal, had now passed away: the season had arrived for law to display its terrors. Not in the Government, but in the conspirators had occurred the change: and so far—to the extent, namely, of taxing these conspirators with gradual increase of virulence—it may ultimately turn out that this journal is right. The fault for the present is—that the nature of the change, its signs and circumstances, were not specified or described. How, and by what memorable feature, did last June differ from this October? and what followed, by its false show of subtlety, discredited the whole explanation. It seems that notice was required of this change: in mere equity, proclamation must be made of the royal pleasure as to the Irish sedition: that was done in the Queen's speech on adjourning the two Houses. But time also must be granted for this proclamation to diffuse itself, and therefore it happened that the Clontarf meeting was selected for the coup d'essai of Government; in its new character for "handselling" the new system of rigour, this Clontarf assembly having fallen out just about six weeks from the Royal speech. But this attempt to establish a metaphysical relation between the time for issuing a threat, and the time for acting upon it, as though forty and two days made that act to be reasonable which would not have been so in twenty and one, being suited chiefly to the universities in Laputa, did not meet the approbation of our captious and beef-eating island: and this second solution also, we are obliged to say; was exploded as soon us it was heard. Thirdly, stepped forward one who promised to untie the knot upon a more familiar principle: the thunder was kept back for so many months in order to allow time for Mr O'Connell to show out in his true colours, on the hint of an old proverb, which observes—that a baboon, or other mischievous animal, when running up a scaffolding or a ship's tackling, exposes his most odious features the more as he is allowed to mount the higher. In that idea, there is certainly some truth. "Give him rope enough, and every knave will hang himself"—is an old adage, a useful adage, and often a consolatory one. The objection, in the case before us, is—that our Irish hero had shown himself already, and most redundantly, on occasions notorious to every body, both previously to 1829, (the year of Clare,) and subsequently. If, however, it should appear upon the trial of the several conspirators for seditious language, that they, or that any of them, had, by good affidavits, used indictable language in September, not having used it sooner, or having guarded it previously by more equivocal expressions, then it must be admitted that the spirit of this third explanation does apply itself to the case, though not in an extent to cover the entire range of the difficulty. But a fourth explanation would evade the necessity of showing any such difference in the actionable language held: according to this hypothesis, it was not for subjects to prosecute that the Government waited, but for strength enough to prosecute with effect, under circumstances which warned them to expect popular tumults. In this statement, also, there is probably much truth, indeed, it has now become evident that there is. Often we have heard it noticed by military critics as the one great calamity of Ireland, that in earlier days she had never been adequately conquered—not sufficiently for extirpating barbarism, or sufficiently for crushing the local temptations to resistance. Rebellion and barbarism are the two evils (and, since the Reformation, in alliance with a third evil—religious hostility to the empire) which have continually sustained themselves in Ireland, propagated their several curses from age to age, and at this moment equally point to a burden of misery in the forward direction for the Irish, and backwards [pg 681] to a burden of reproach for the English. More men applied to Ireland, more money and more determined legislation spent upon Ireland in times long past, would have saved England tenfold expenditure of all these elements in the three centuries immediately behind us, and possibly in that which is immediately a-head. Such men as Bishop Bedell, as Bishop Jeremy Taylor, or even as Bishop Berkeley, meeting in one generation and in one paternal council, would have made Ireland long ago, by colonization and by Protestantism, that civilized nation which, with all her advances in mechanic arts30 of education as yet she is not; would have made her that tractable nation, which, after all her lustrations by fire and blood, for her own misfortune she never has been; would have made her that strong arm of the empire, which hitherto, with all her teeming population, for the common misfortune of Europe she neither has been nor promises to be. By and through this neglect it is, that on the inner hearths of the Roman Catholic Irish, on the very altars of their lares and penates, burns for ever a sullen spark of disaffection to that imperial household, with which, nevertheless and for ever, their own lot is bound up for evil and for good; a spark always liable to be fanned by traitors—a spark for ever kindling into rebellion; and in this has lain perpetually a delusive encouragement to the hostility of Spain and France, whilst to her own children, it is the one great snare which besets their feet. This great evil of imperfect possession—if now it is almost past healing in its general operation as an engine of civilization, and as applied to the social training of the people—is nevertheless open to relief as respects any purpose of the Government, towards which there may be reason to anticipate a martial resistance. That part of the general policy fell naturally under the care of our present great Commander-in-chief. Of him it was that we spoke last month as watching Mr O'Connell's slightest movements, searching him and nailing him with his eye. We told the reader at the same time, that Government, as with good reason we believed, had not been idle during the summer; their work had proceeded in silence; but, upon any explosion or apprehension of popular tumult, it would be found that more had been done by a great deal, in the way of preparations, than the public was aware of. Barracks have every where been made technically defensible; in certain places they have been provisioned against sieges; forts have been strengthened; in critical situations redoubts, or other resorts of hurried retreat, or of known rendezvous in cases of surprise, have been provided; and in the most merciful spirit every advantage on the other side has been removed or diminished which could have held out encouragement to mutiny, or temptation to rebellion. Finally, on the destined moment arriving, on the casus foederis (whatever that were) emerging, in which the executive had predetermined to act, not the perfection of clockwork, not the very masterpieces of scenical art, can ever have exhibited a combined movement upon one central point—so swift, punctual, beautiful, harmonious, more soundless than an exhalation, more overwhelming than a deluge—as the display of military force in Dublin on Sunday the 8th of October. Without alarm, without warning—as if at the throwing up of a rocket in the dead of night, or at the summons of a signal gun—the great capital, almost as populous as Naples or Vienna, and far more dangerous in its excitement, found itself under military possession by a little army—so perfect in its appointments as to make resistance hopeless, and by that very hopelessness (as reconciling the most insubordinate to a necessity) making irritation impossible. Last month we warned Mr O'Connell of "the uplifted thunderbolt" suspended in the Jovian hands of the Wellesley, but ready to descend when the "dignus vindice nodus" should announce itself. And this, by the way, must have been the [pg 682] "thunderbolt," this military demonstration, which, in our blind spirit of prophecy doubtless, we saw dimly in the month of September last; so that we are disposed to recant our confession even of partial error as to the coming fortunes of Repeal, and to request that the reader will think of us as of very decent prophets. But, whether we were so or not, the Government (it is clear) acted in the prophetic spirit of military wisdom. "The prophetic eye of taste"—as a brilliant expression for that felicitous prolepsis by which the painter or the sculptor sees already in its rudiments what will be the final result of his labours—is a phrase which we are all acquainted with, and the spirit of prophecy, the far-stretching vision of sagacity, is analogously conspicuous in the arts of Government, military or political, when providing for the contingencies that may commence in pseudo-patriotism, or the possibilities that may terminate in rebellion. Whether Government saw those contingencies, whether Government calculated those possibilities in June last—that is one part of the general question which we have been discussing; and whether it was to a different estimate of such chances in summer and in autumn, or to a necessity for time in preparing against them, that we must ascribe the very different methods of the Government in dealing with the sedition at different periods—that is the other part of the question. But this is certain—that whether seeing and measuring from the first, or suddenly awakened to the danger of late—in any case, the Government has silently prepared all along; forestalling evils that possibly never were to arise, and shaping remedies for disasters which possibly to themselves appeared romantic. To provide for the worst, is an ordinary phrase, but what is the worst? Commonly it means the last calamity that experience suggests; but in the admirable arrangements of Government it meant the very worst that imagination could conceive—building upon treason at home in alliance with hostility from abroad. At a time when resistance seemed supremely improbable, yet, because amongst the headlong desperations of a confounded faction even this was possible, the ministers determined to deal with it as a certainty. Against the possible they provided as against the probable; against the least of probabilities as against the greatest. The very outside and remote extremities of what might be looked for in a civil war, seem to have been assumed as a basis in the calculations. And under that spirit of vista-searching prudence it was, that the Duke of Wellington saw what we have insisted on, and practically redressed it—viz. the defective military net-work by which England has ever spread her power over Ireland. "This must not be," the Duke said; "never again shall the blood of brave men be shed in superfluous struggles, nor the ground be strewed with supernumerary corpses—as happened in the rebellion of 1798—because forts were wanting and loopholed barracks to secure what had been won; because retreats were wanting to overawe what, for the moment, had been lost. Henceforth, and before there is a blushing in the dawn of that new rebellion which Mr O'Connell disowns, but to which his frenzy may rouse others having less to lose than himself, we will have true technical possession, in the military sense, of Ireland." Such has been the recent policy of the Duke of Wellington: and for this, in so far as it is a violence done to Ireland, or a badge of her subjection, she has to thank Mr O'Connell: for this, in so far as it is a merciful arrangement, diminishing bloodshed by discouraging resistance, she has to thank the British Government. Mr O'Connell it is, that, by making rebellion probable, has forced on this reaction of perfect preparation which, in such a case, became the duty of the Government. The Duke of Wellington it is, that, by using the occasion advantageously for the perfecting of the military organization in Ireland, has made police do the work of war; and by making resistance maniacal, in making it hopeless, has eventually consulted even for the feelings of the rebellious, sparing to them the penalties of insurrection in defeating its earliest symptoms; and for the land itself, has been the chief of benefactors, by removing systematically that inheritance of desolation attached to all civil wars, in cutting away from below the feet of conspirators the very ground on [pg 683] which they could take their earliest stand. Finally, it is Mr O'Connell who has raised an anarchy in many Irish minds, in the minds of all whom he influences, by placing their national feelings in collision with their duty it is the Duke of Wellington who has reconciled the bravest and most erroneous of Irish patriots to his place in a federal system, by taking away all dishonour from submission under circumstances where resistance has at length become notoriously as frantic as would be a war with gravitation.

As to the fourth hypothesis, therefore, for explaining the apparent inconsistencies of the Executive, we not only assent to it heartily as involving part of the truth, but we have endeavoured to show earnestly that the truth is a great truth; no casual aspect, or momentary feature of truth, depending upon the particular relation at the time between Ireland and the Horse Guards, or pointing simply to a better cautionary distribution of the army; but a truth connected systematically with the policy for Ireland in past times and in times to come. Where men like Mr O' Connell can arise, it is clear that the social condition of Ireland is not healthy; that, as a country, she is not fused into a common substance with the rest of the empire; that she is not fully to be trusted; and that the road to a more effectual union lies, not through stricter coercion, but through a system of instant defence making itself apparent to the people as a means of provisional or potential coercion in the proper case arising. One traitor cannot exist as a public and demonstrative character without many minor traitors to back him. To Great Britain it ought to cost no visible effort, resolutely and instantly to trample out every overture of insubordination as quietly, peacefully, effectually, as the meeting of conspirators at Clontarf on the 8th day of October 1843. Ireland is notoriously, by position and by imaginary grievances—grievances which, had they ever been real for past generations, would long since have faded away, were it not through the labours of mercenary traders in treason— Ireland is of necessity, and at any rate, the vulnerable part of our empire. Wars will soon gather again in Christendom. Whilst it is yet daylight and fair weather in which we can work, this open wound of the empire must be healed. We cannot afford to stand another era of collusion from abroad with intestine war. Now is the time for grasping this nettle of domestic danger, and, by crushing it without fear, to crush it for ever. Therefore it is that we rejoice to hear of attention in the right quarter at length drawn to the radix of all this evil; of efforts seriously made to grapple with the mischief; not by mere accumulation of troops, for that is a spasmodic effort—sure to relax on the return of tranquillity; but by those appliances of military art to the system of attack and defence as connected with the soil and buildings of Ireland, which will hereafter make it possible for even a diminished army to become all potent over disaffection, by means of permanent preparations, and through systematic links of concert.

Fifthly comes Mr Stuart Wortley, the Parliamentary representative for Bute, who tells his constituents at Bute, that the true secret of the apparent incoherency in the conduct of Government, of that subsultory movement from almost passive surveillance to the most intense development of power, is to be found in some error, some lapse as yet unknown, on the part of the conspirators. Hitherto Mr Wortley, as lawyer, had persuaded himself that the craft of sedition had prevailed over its zeal. Whatever might be the animus of the parties, hitherto their legal adroitness had kept them on the right side of the fence which parts the merely virulent or wicked language from the indictable. But security, and apparently the indifference of the Government, had tempted them beyond their safeguards. Government, it is certain, have latterly watched the proceedings of the Repeal Association in a more official way; they have sent qualified and vigilant reporters to the scene; and have showed signs of meaning speedily "to do business" upon a large scale. We do not, indeed, altogether agree with Mr Wortley, that the earlier language, if searched with equal care, would be found less offending than the later; but this later we believe it to be which, as an audacious reiteration of [pg 684]sentiments that would have been overlooked had they seemed casual or not meant for continued inculcation, will be found in fact to have provoked the executive energies. We believe also, in accord with Mr Wortley, that something or other has transpired by secret information to Government in relation to this last intended meeting at Clontarf, which authorized a separate and more sinister construction of that, or of its consequences, than had necessarily attended the former assemblies, however similar in bad meaning and in malice. This secret information, whether it pointed to words uttered, to acts done, or to intentions signified, must have been sudden, and must have been decisive; an impression which we draw from the hurried summoning of cabinet councils in England on or about the 4th of October, from the departures for Ireland, apparently consequent upon these councils—of the Lord Lieutenant, of the Chancellor, and other great officers, all instant and all simultaneous—and finally, from the continued consultations in Dublin from the time when these functionaries arrived; viz. immediately after their landing on Friday morning, October 6th, until the promulgation and enforcement of that memorable proclamation which crushed the Repeal sedition. A Paris journal of eminence says, that we are not to exult as if much progress were made towards the crushing of Repeal, simply by the act of crushing a single meeting; and, strange to say, the chief morning paper of London echoes this erroneous judgment as if self-evident, saying, that "it needs no ghost to tell us that." We, however, utterly deny this comment, and protest against it as an absurdity. Were that true, were it possible that the Clontarf meeting had been suppressed on its own separate merits, as presumed from secret information, and without ulterior meaning or application designed for the act—in that case nothing has been done. But this is not so: Government is bound henceforwards by its own act. That proclamation as to one meeting establishes a precedent as to all. It is not within the power of Government, having done that act of suppression, and still more having spoken that language of proclamation, now to retreat from their own rule, and to apply any other rule to any subsequent meeting. The act of suppression was enough. The commentary on the proclamation is more than enough. Therefore it is, that we began by saying "the game is up;" and, because it is of consequence to know the principle on which any act is done, therefore it is that we have discussed, at some length, the various hypotheses now current as to the particular principle which, in this instance, governed our Executive. Our own opinion is, that all these hypotheses, except the first, which ascribes blank inconsistency to the Government, and so much of the second as stands upon some fanciful limitation of time within which Government could not equitably proceed to action, are partially true. If this be so, there is an answer in full to the Whigs, who at this moment (October 23) are arguing that no circumstances of any kind have changed since our ministers treated the Repeal cause with neglect. Neglect it, comparatively, they never did: as the cashiering of magistrates ought too angrily to remind the Whigs. But if the different solutions, which we have here examined, should be carefully reviewed, it will be seen that circumstances have changed, and, under the fourth head, it will be seen that they have changed in a way which required time, selection, and great efforts: what is more, it will be seen that they have changed in a way critically important for the future interests of the empire.

Yes; the game is up! And what now remains is, not to suffer the coming trials to sink into fictions of law—as a brutum fulmen of menace, never meant to be realized. Verdicts must be had: judgments must be given: and then a long farewell to the hopes of treason!

Yes, by a double proof the Repeal sedition is at an end: were it not, upon Clontarf being prohibited, the Repealers would have announced some other gathering in some other place. You that say it is not at an end, tell us why did they forbear doing that? Secondly, Mr O'Connell has substituted for Repeal—what? The miserable, the beggarly petition, for a dependent House of Assembly, an upper sort of "Select Vestry," for [pg 685]Ireland; and that too as a bonus from the Parliament of the empire. This reminds us of a capital story related by Mr Webster, and perhaps within the experience of American statesmen, in reference to the claims of electors upon those candidates whom they have returned to Congress. Such a candidate, having succeeded so far as even to become a Secretary for Foreign Affairs, was one day waited on by a man, who reminded him that some part of this eminent success had been due to his vote; and really— Mr Secretary might think as he pleased—but him it struck, that a "pretty considerable of a debt" was owing in gratitude to his particular exertions. Mr Secretary bowed. The stranger proceeded—"His ambition was moderate: might he look for the office of postmaster-general?" Unfortunately, said the secretary, that office required special experience, and it was at present filled to the satisfaction of the President. "Indeed! that was unhappy: but he was not particular; perhaps the ambassador to London had not yet been appointed?" There, said the secretary, you are still more unfortunate: the appointment was open until 11 P.M. on this very day, and at that hour it was filled up. "Well," said the excellent and Christian supplicant, "any thing whatever for me; beggars must not be choosers: possibly the office of vice-president might soon be vacant; it was said that the present man lay shockingly ill." Not at all; he was rapidly recovering; and the reversion, even if he should die, required enormous interest, for which a canvass had long since commenced on the part of fifty-three candidates. Thus proceeded the assault upon the secretary, and thus was it evaded. So moved the chase, and thus retreated the game, until at length nothing under heaven remained amongst all official prizes which the voter could ask, or which the secretary could refuse. Pensively the visitor reflected for a few minutes, and, suddenly raising his eye doubtfully, he said, "Why then, Mr Secretary, have you ever an old black coat that you could give me?" Oh, aspiring genius of ambition! from that topmast round of thy aerial ladder that a man should descend thus awfully!—from the office of vice-president for the U.S. that he should drop, within three minutes, to "an old black coat!" The secretary was aghast: he rang the bell for such a coat; the coat appeared; the martyr of ambition was solemnly inducted into its sleeves; and the two parties, equally happy at the sudden issue of the interview bowing profoundly to each other, separated for ever.

Even upon this model, sinking from a regal honour to an old black coat, Mr O' Connell has actually agreed to accept—has volunteered to accept—for the name and rank of a separate nation, some trivial right of holding county meetings for local purposes of bridges, roads, turnpike gates. This privilege he calls by the name of "federalism;" a misnomer, it is true; but, were it the right name, names cannot change realities. These local committees could not possibly take rank above the Quarter Sessions; nor could they find much business to do which is not already done, and better done, by that respectable judicial body. True it is, that this descent is a thousand times more for the benefit of Ireland than his former ambitious plan. But we speak of it with reference to the sinking scale of his ambition. Now this it is—viz. the aspiring character of his former promises, the assurance that he would raise Ireland into a nation distinct and independent in the system of Europe, having her own fleets, armies, peerage, parliament—which operated upon the enthusiasm of a peasantry the vainest in Christendom after that of France, and perhaps absolutely the most ignorant. Is it in human nature, we demand, that hereafter the same enthusiasm should continue available for Mr O'Connell's service, after the transient reaction of spitefulness to the Government shall have subsided, which gave buoyancy to his ancient treason? The chair of a proconsul, the saddle of a pasha—these are golden baits; yet these are below the throne and diadem of a sovereign prince. But from these to have descended into asking for "an old black coat," on the American precedent! Faugh! What remains for Ireland but infinite disgust, for us but infinite laughter?

No, no. By Mr O'Connell's own act and capitulation, the game is up. [pg 686] Government has countersigned this result by the implicit pledge in their proclamation, that, having put down Clontarf, for specific reasons there assigned, they will put down all future meetings to which the same reasons apply. At present it remains only to express our fervent hope, that ministers will drive "home" the nail which they have so happily planted. The worst spectacle of our times was on that day when Mr O'Connell, solemnly reprimanded by the Speaker of the House of Commons, was suffered—was tolerated—in rising to reply; in retorting with insolence; in lecturing and reprimanding the Senate through their representative officer; in repelling just scorn by false scorn; in riveting his past offences; in adding contumely to wrong. Never more must this be repeated. Neither must the Whig policy be repeated of bringing Mr O'Connell before a tribunal of justice that had, by a secret intrigue, agreed to lay aside its terrors.31 No compromise now: no juggling: no collusion! We desire to see the majesty of the law vindicated, as solemnly as it has been notoriously insulted. Such is the demand, such the united cry, of this great nation, so long and so infamously bearded. Then, and thus only, justice will be satisfied, reparation will be made: because it will go abroad into all lands, not only that the evil has been redressed, but that the author of the evil has been forced into a plenary atonement.


Footnote 1: (return) This must have been one of the vakeels or envoys, whose departure from Bombay, in March 1839, is mentioned in the Asiatic Journal, (xxix. 178;) the party is there said, on the authority of the Durpun, (a native newspaper,) to have consisted of eleven, Mahrattas and Purbhoos, no mention being made of Moulavi Afzul Ali. We have been unable to trace the further proceedings of the deputation in this country; but they probably found on their arrival, that the fate of their master was already decided, as he was dethroned by the Company, in favour of his cousin Appa Sahib, in September of the same year, on the charge of having participated in a conspiracy against the English power. The justice, as well as policy of this measure, was, however, strongly canvassed, and gave rise to repeated and violent debates in the Court of Proprietors.

Footnote 2: (return) The native servants of the Governor-General at Calcutta, on state occasions, wear splendid scarlet and gold caftans.—See Bishop Heber's Journal.

Footnote 3: (return) The Khan nowhere exactly explains the surprise which he expresses, here and at other times, at the shouts of hurra!—perhaps his ear was wounded by the resemblance of the sound to certain Hindustani epithets, by no means refined or complimentary.

Footnote 4: (return) The views of Mirza Abu-Talib on this important subject, are far more enlightened and correct than those of Kerim Khan. "The public revenue of England," he observes, "is not, as in India, raised merely from the land, or by duties levied on a few kinds of merchandise, but almost every article of consumption pays its portion. The taxes are levied by the authority and decree of parliament; and are in general so framed as to bear lightly on the poor, and that every person should pay in proportion to his income. Thus bread, meat, and coals, being articles of indispensable use, are exempt; but spirits, wines, &c., are taxed very high; and the rich are obliged to pay for every horse, dog, and man-servant they keep; also for the privilege of throwing flour on their heads, and having their arms (insignia of the antiquity and rank of their family) painted on their carriages, &c. Since the commencement of the present war, a new law has been passed, compelling every person to pay annually a tenth of his whole income. Most of the taxes are permanent, but some of them are changed at the pleasure of parliament. Abu-Talib visited the country in the first years of the present century, when the capability of taxation was strained to the utmost, but the words which we have given in italics, contain the secret which Kerim failed to detect."

Footnote 5: (return) "The Parsees," says Mirza Abu-Talib, describing those whom he saw at Bombay on his return to India, "are not possessed of a spark of liberality or gentility.... The only Parsee I was ever acquainted with who had received a liberal education, was Moula Firoz, whom I met at the house of a friend; he was a sensible and well-informed man, who had travelled into Persia, and there studied mathematics, astronomy, and the sciences of Zoroaster." If this account be correct, a marvellous improvement must have taken place during the last forty years. Many of the Parsees of the present day are almost on a level with Europeans in education and acquirements; and in their adoption of our manners and customs, they stand alone among the various nations of our Oriental subjects—but their exclusive addiction to mercantile pursuits, and their pacific habits, (in both which points they are hardly exceeded by the Quakers of Europe,) make them objects of contempt to the haughty Moslems.

Footnote 6: (return) The Persian princes go more into detail; but we doubt whether their description will much facilitate the construction of a railway from Ispahan to Shiraz. "The roads on which the coaches are placed and fixed, are made of iron bars; all that seems to draw them is a box of iron, in which they put water to boil; underneath, this iron box is like an urn, and from it rises the steam which gives the wonderful force; when the steam rises up, the wheels take their motion, the coach spreads its wings, and the travellers become like birds."

Footnote 7: (return) The Parsees, in their account of the Tunnel, mention a fact now not generally remembered, that the attempt was far from a new one:—"In 1802, a Cornish miner having been selected for the purpose, operations were commenced 330 feet from the Thames, on the Rotherhithe side. Two or three different engineers were engaged, and the affair was nearly abandoned, till in 1809 it was quite given up."

Footnote 8: (return) Bishop Heber, in his journal, also mentions the wonder of his Bengali servants on their first sight of a piece of ice in Himalaya, and their regret on finding that they could not carry it home to Calcutta as a curiosity.

Footnote 9: (return) The sober prose of the Parsees presents, as usual, an amusing contrast with the highflown rhapsodies of the Moslem; their remarks on the same lady are comprised in the pithy observation—"We should not have taken her for more than twenty-six years of age; but we are told she is near fifty."

Footnote 10: (return) The ten days' lamentation for the martyred imams, Hassan and Hussein, the grandsons of the Prophet, who were murdered by the Ommiyades. Some notice of this ceremonial is given at the beginning of his narrative by the Khan, who attended it just before he sailed from Calcutta.

Footnote 11: (return) To explain the Khan's ignorance of the form of an English entertainment, it should be remembered that his religious scruples excluded him from dinner parties—and that, except on occasions of form like the present, or the party on hoard the Oriental at Southampton, he had probably never witnessed a banquet in England.

Footnote 12: (return) CEYLON, AND ITS CAPABILITIES. BY J. W. Bennett, Esq. F.L.S. London Allen: 1843. With Plain and Coloured Illustrations. 4to.

Footnote 13: (return) "Hailstone chorus:"—Handel's Israel in Egypt.

Footnote 14: (return) St Mark, iv. 31, 32.

Footnote 15: (return) Unicorn: and strange it is, that, in ancient dilapidated monuments of the Ceylonese, religious sculptures, &c., the unicorn of Scotland frequently appears according to its true heraldic (i.e. fabulous) type.

Footnote 16: (return) See Dr Robison on Rivers.

Footnote 17: (return) Deut. xxxiv. 6.

Footnote 18: (return) Fugitive, observe. There were some others, and amongst them Major Davie, who, for private reasons, were suffered to survive as prisoners.

Footnote 19: (return) "Took Kandy in his route." This phrase is equivocal, it bears two senses—the traveller's sense, and the soldier's. But we rarely make such errors in the use of words; the error is original in the Government documents themselves.

Footnote 20: (return) Why were they "all-suffering?" will be the demand of the reader, and he will doubt the fact simply because he will not apprehend any sufficient motive. That motive we believe to have been this: war, even just or necessary war, is costly; now, the governor and his council knew that their own individual chances of promotion were in the exact ratio of the economy which they could exhibit.

Footnote 21: (return) We say living, because every attempt hitherto made to explain sensation, has been founded on certain appearances manifested in the dead subject. By inspecting a dead carcass we shall never discover the principle of vision. Yet, though there is no seeing in a dead eye, or in a camera obscura, optics deal exclusively with such inanimate materials; and hence the student who studies them will do well to remember, that optics are the science of vision, with the fact of vision left entirely out of the consideration.

Footnote 22: (return) This is the first impediment to an oceanic canal, and one equally felt on the other proposed lines. Captain Sir Edward Belcher, when recently surveying the western coasts of America, availed himself of the opportunity to explore the Estero Real, a river on the Pacific side, which he did by ascending it to the distance of thirty miles from its mouth, but he found that it only admits a vessel drawing ten feet water. That intelligent officer considered this an advantageous line for a canal, which by lake navigation, he concluded might be connected with San Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and extended to the Atlantic; but the distance is immense, the country thinly inhabited, and besides unhealthy, and, after all, it could only serve for boats.

Footnote 23: (return) Lord Grenville in his speech on Indian affairs, April 9, 1813.

Footnote 24: (return) The result of their labours was published in the Philosophic Transactions for 1830, accompanied by drawings.

Footnote 25: (return) Ulloa (Book iii. chap. 11) remarks, that although the greater part of the houses in Panama were formerly built of wood, fires very rarely occurred; the nature of the timber being such, that if lighted embers are laid upon the floor, or wall made of it, the only consequence is, that it makes a hole without producing a flame.

Footnote 26: (return) America and the Pacific, 1838.

Footnote 27: (return) Ulloa affirms, that the greater part of the houses in Panama are now built of stone; all sorts of materials for edifices of this kind being found there in the greatest abundance. Mr Scarlett also acknowledges that he there saw more specimens of architectural beauty than in any other town of South America which he had occasion to visit.

Footnote 28: (return) In 1814 the writer had coal in his possession, in London, brought from the vicinity of Lima, which he had coked and tried in a variety of ways. It was gaseous and resembled that dug in the United States. Since that period coal has been found near Talcahuano and at Valdivia, on the coast of Chili; on the island of Chiloe, and on that of San Lorenzo, opposite to Lima; in the valley of Tambo, near Islay; at Guacho, and even further down on the coast of Guayaquil. Mr Scarlett quotes a letter from the Earl of Dundonald. (Lord Cochrane,) in which his lordship affirms, "that there is plenty of coal at Talcahuano, in the province of Conception." It was used on board of her Majesty's ship Blossom; and Mr Mason, of her Majesty's ship Seringspatam, pronounced it good when not taken too near the surface. Mr Wheelright, the American gentleman who formed the Steam Navigation Company along the western coast, coked the coal found there; and in the general plan for the formation of his company, assured the public that "coal exists on various parts of the Chili coast in great abundance, and will afford an ample supply for steam operations on the Pacific at a very moderate expense." The fact is confirmed by various other testimonies, and there is every reason to believe that coal will be hereafter found at no great distance from Panama.

Footnote 29: (return) Mr Scarlett says, that the depth of water at Chagre is sufficient for steamers and large schooners, which can be navigated without obstruction as far up as the mouth of the Trinidad. By descending that river, he himself crossed the isthmus in seventeen hours—viz. from Panama to Cruces, eight; and thence to Chagre, nine. Mr Wheelright, the American gentleman above quoted, says that the transit of the isthmus during the dry season, (from November to June—and wet from June to November,) is neither inconvenient nor unpleasant. The canoes are covered, provisions and fruits cheap along the banks of the Chagre, and there is always personal security. The temperature, although warm, is healthy. At the same time it must be confessed, that in the rainy season a traveller is subject to great exposure and consequent illness; but if the railroad was roofed this objection might be removed. It is on all hands agreed, that the climate of the isthmus would be greatly improved by drainage, and clearing the country of the immense quantities of vegetable matter left rotting on the ground. The beds of seaweed, in a constant state of decomposition on the Pacific shore, create miasmata unquestionably injurious to health.

Footnote 30: (return) "Mechanic arts of education:"—Merely in reading and writing, the reader must not forget, that according to absolute documents laid before Parliament, Ireland, in some counties, takes rank before Prussia; whilst probably, in both countries, that real education of life and practice, which moves by the commerce of thought and the contagion of feelings, is at the lowest ebb.

Footnote 31: (return) The allusion is to Mr O'Connell's past experience as a defendant, on political offences, here the Court of Queen's Bench in Dublin; an experience which most people have forgotten; and which we also at this moment should be glad to forget as the ominous precedent for the present crisis, were it not that Conservative honesty and Conservative energy were now at the helm, instead of the Whig spirit of intrigue with all public enemies.

Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume
54, No. 337, November, 1843, by Various


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